My forays into Pauline theology (particularly the little book Transformation: The Heart of Paul’s Gospel [Lexham Press, 2014]) have been criticized by a few adamant Reformed theologians as an attack on the doctrines of salvation by “faith alone” and “grace alone.”

I just did a quick search on Paul’s use of forms of the word “alone” and, genuinely to my surprise, he NEVER uses it in his “by grace” or “by faith” formulations (indeed, never to qualify those two words in any way whatsoever).  The only occurrence of the phrase “by faith alone” actually occurs in James 2:24, there to be negated as the exclusive basis of approval before God.  This leaves me just a little bit more convinced that “by faith alone” and “by grace alone” are hyperbolic formulations nurtured by the particular environment of the Reformation era, and not undistorted representations of, say, Paul’s view of what God is looking for in those whom God will justify.

This leaves me wondering if the claim to listen to “Scripture alone” (i.e., over against Reformation formulations of “Pauline” theology or the Gospel in general) is of equal importance to these critics.

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