Since the days of the early church, Christians have struggled to understand the relationship between two seemingly contradictory concepts in the Bible: law and gospel. If, as the apostle Paul says, the law cannot save, what can it do? Is it merely an ancient relic from Old Testament Israel to be discarded? Or is it still valuable for Christians today? Helping modern Christians think through this complex issue, seasoned pastor and theologian Sinclair Ferguson carefully leads readers to rediscover an eighteenth-century debate that sheds light on this present-day doctrinal conundrum: the Marrow Controversy. After sketching the history of the debate, Ferguson moves on to discuss the theology itself, acting as a wise guide for walking the path between legalism (overemphasis on the law) on the one side and antinomianism (wholesale rejection of the law) on the other.
- Don't let the title fool you, this is an excellent book!
Don't let the title fool you, this was an excellent book! Although it is Intended for Pastors, Students, and Academia, it can also be useful to anyone interested in knowing more about the relationship between God's Law and Grace, and gospel assurance. This book was read in a clear way by an outstanding narrator with a Scottish accent akin to the author's. Christianaudio did a fantastic job with this book! Thank you from a busy pastor who tries to squeeze the most out of his day when driving by listening to Christian audiobooks!
- Best book of 2016
Must-read for pastors, elders, parents and other teachers. A three-hundred-year-old theological controversy has surprising relevance today. Ferguson is a marvelous writer who can make difficult ideas clear without watering them down.
- Great and much needed book!
I loved it!
- Show ALL Reviews
- Required Reading
This is one of the most needed books published in recent history. Ferguson's writing is dense and meaty and will require multiple readings and long reflection. This should be required for anyone in authority: pastors, elders, deacons, and parents.
- A reader's persistence will be rewarded
It is known as the “Marrow Controversy,” a theological dispute in the church in Scotland that took place in the early 1700s surrounding a book, The Marrow of Modern Divinity, which was published in 1645. What lessons could possibly be drawn from the Marrow Controversy that would apply to us today? Plenty, apparently. In his book The Whole Christ, Sinclair B. Ferguson uses this lesser-known episode in church history as a framing device for discussing a larger issue: the tension between legalism and antinomianism in the life of a believer.
The Whole Christ contains many jewels ready to be mined. Ferguson is quick to point out that legalism and antinomianism are not opposites, but rather both stand together in opposition to the grace of God in the person of Christ. As a manifesto of grace this book is powerful, shifting my mindset just slightly from hope in the work of Christ to hope in the person of Christ. This makes a world of difference. Also, his discussion of the Old Testament law and its current relevance to the New Testament believer is very well done. Finally, the chapter on assurance was full of great insights.
All said and done, this relatively short book manages to touch on justification, legalism, atonement, antinomianism, assurance, grace, incarnation, and more, all while keeping the framing narrative of the Marrow Controversy in view. Most importantly, Ferguson attempts to tie it all together by presenting the practical ministry implications of all his theological plate spinning.
This book came highly recommended by many of the heavy-hitters in the Reformed theologian circle. Names like Timothy Keller, Kevin DeYoung, and Alistair Begg added their praise. I recommend this book also, though I don’t presume to count myself among the ranks of those theological powerhouses. Ferguson is a great writer, but I found myself wishing for a little more of the “everyman” approach to theological issues demonstrated by writers like DeYoung and Keller. Ferguson is difficult to follow sometimes as he references unfamiliar characters, unfolds complicated sentences, and ultimately shorts the reader on the “practical ministry implications” promise. Long story short, I found myself wanting to turn off the audiobook version and pick up a print version, or else be constantly rewinding. This is solid stuff, but it occasionally comes across dry and uninspired.
At the end of the day, this is an important book even if it is somewhat unapproachable at times. A reader’s persistence is rewarded. I feel that I have a better grasp of many of the tensions facing those of us who claim the grace of God as our only hope and our only path. For that I am grateful.
The narration by Derek Perkins is top-notch.
Please Note: This audiobook was gifted as a part of the Christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. This has in no way influenced my opinion or review of this work.
- Good Material, but Dry Presentation
This book is tackles a relatively unknown theology by name but common in application called the Marrow Controversy. Originally presented by Puritan Thomas Boston, the controversy examines the relationship between grace and the Christian life, specifically between the two extremes of legalism (valuing the Law too much) and anti-nomianism (valuing the Law too little). Perhaps the greatest strength of this book is its clear reverence for God’s grace. The author examines each of the extremes using grace as a lens. It will leave you with a greater appreciation and understanding of God’s grace in light of some of its greatest critics. The downside is that the author can get bogged down with some of the details. It is also a book that would probably lend a better result from reading rather than listening, though the narrator keeps interested very well. I received this audiobook for free from christianaudio.com as part of a reviewing program and was not obligated to write a positive review. For more information, visit www.christianaudio.com.
- One Awesome Book!
I can truthfully say I have waited years for this book to be written.
Sometime in the early 2000s, I came across a series of sermons on the Marrow Controversy by Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson. Because of my love of Church History, I thought this would be a great series to listen to. I had no idea that it would open up a whole new realm of study for myself. After listening to the lectures concerning a book called, "The Marrow of Modern Divinity", I read the book itself.
The whole study of Law and Gospel has intrigued me. This was just what I was looking for. For the next few decades, I read everything I could concerning the Law of God and grace, always keeping an eye out for specific references to "The Marrow". I am now excited to listen to the audio version of the book written by Ferguson himself.
The wait was truly worth it. The book is well written. Ferguson takes difficult doctrines and explains them in simple language. Not only does he show the history behind the controversy, he digs into the bible to show us how important the controversy is for today.
I can not say enough good things about both the book and the audiobook. The narrator does a wonderful job with the material. Neither to fast or too slow, the narration keeps you focused. If there is anything lacking, it is the absence of footnotes. They are missing altogether. I understand it is almost impossible to include them in an audiobook and do not take off of the rating.
All in all, this is one great book. I suggest you listen to it, then purchase "The Marrow" and read it. You will not be disappointed.
I highly recommend and give this audiobook 5 out of 5 stars.
I enjoyed this book courtesy of the Christian Audio review program at http://christianaudio.com and received the audio book, free of charge, from ChristianAudio.com in exchange for an honest review.
- Very Helpful
How do we balance an understanding of the grace of God with a call to proper obedience to Christ? How do we find genuine assurance of salvation? Who has worked through these questions before and how can their experience help us today? In The Whole Christ, Sinclair Ferguson helps answer these questions and many more with great depth and insight.
It is good for Christians to read books on theology. It is good to read books on church history. In this case, we find both in a very readable and fascinating volume. The Marrow Controversy of the early 18th century is the background for Ferguson’s discussion of issues related to the grace of God, the law of God, legalism, and antinomianism. And, even if none of those words mean a great deal to you, any Christian will find a lot to learn in these pages.
To me, perhaps the greatest points in the book are the balance Ferguson weaves between law and grace. The author does a fine job of demonstrating to his readers how obedience earns us nothing while at the same time declaring that obedience is the heart’s response to grace. The author also shows us how a genuine assurance of salvation is based fully on the truth of the person and work of Christ and is not based on our ability to self-evaluate.
Readers who pick up this book need to be ready to dive deep into gospel, into grace, into theology of law, into issues related to assurance of salvation, and into the history of the Marrow Contraversy. However, those who are willing to work through these heavy topics will find some very encouraging and helpful truths to apply.
I received a free audio copy of this work as part of ChristianAudio’s reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. The audio version is one of the best read books I have received from ChristianAudio, a group which always puts out find quality.
You may also be interested in the following product(s)
The Gospel Call and True Conversion (Recovering the Gospel Series)
The Gospel's Power and Message (Recovering the Gospel Series)
Gospel Assurance and Warnings (Recovering the Gospel Series)