New book by Matthew Barrett – Salvation by Grace (P&R)
Matthew Barrett. Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2013.
Foreword by Thomas Schreiner and Bruce Ware.
Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration presents a magisterial case that God’s grace is monergistic—that God acts alone, apart from human cooperation, to effectually call and sovereignly regenerate sinners. Thus effectual calling and regeneration logically precede conversion in the ordo salutis (order of salvation), thereby ensuring that all of the glory in salvation belongs to God, not to man. The author also evaluates Arminian and modified views of the nature of God’s grace in salvation, finding them unbiblical because they fail to do justice to the scriptural portrayal of God’s sovereignty and glory in salvation.
The relationship between saving faith and regeneration is vitally important in the biblical doctrine of salvation. It is a watershed issue in the debate between historic Calvinism and historic Arminianism. Although one can savingly believe the gospel without rightly understanding this relationship, the integrity of the biblical witness to the grace of God in that gospel cannot be consistently maintained without recognizing the priority of regeneration in the application of salvation. Dr. Barrett sees this truth clearly and argues persuasively for the monergistic—or Calvinistic—position. His arguments are exegetically careful, theologically rigorous, and historically informed. Monergists will welcome this book as a helpful guide to the issues at stake, and synergists will not be able to ignore its devastating critique of their strongest arguments.
“The nature of grace is central to the Christian faith, and how one defines it speaks volumes about how one understands God, Christ, salvation, and even the church. In this book, Matthew Barrett lays out the historical, theological, and biblical material, and presents a compelling case for classic anti-Pelagian theology. Very helpful.” –Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“This is quite simply the most thorough and convincing account of divine sovereignty, both over the new birth and over effectual calling, that I’ve ever read. It is historically informed, lucidly written, eminently practical, and, most important of all, biblically faithful. This book, and Matthew Barrett in particular, renews my confidence that the so-called young, restless, and Reformed are in good hands and moving in the right direction. Salvation by Grace merits a wide reading and will undoubtedly prove to be an indispensable resource for the serious student of God’s Word. I cannot recommend it too highly.” –Sam Storms, Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“Matthew Barrett’s work on regeneration represents scholarship at its best. His book is exegetically convincing and theologically profound, with significant pastoral consequences. The topic has not been explored in depth in recent scholarship, and hence this book is also timely.” –Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
“‘Salvation is of the Lord.’ All Christians would affirm this good news. Yet only monergism carries it through to the end, without equivocation. In this winsome and well-researched defense, Matthew Barrett clears away the brush–caricatures and distortions on both sides of the debate–to expose the wonder of God’s amazing grace. After drawing a precise historical map of the range of views, Barrett engages the relevant passages with fresh insight and energy. His goal is not to win an argument but to win brothers and sisters to a fuller, richer, and more biblical account of the application of redemption.” –Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“We all desire a view on the doctrines of grace that gives the lion’s share to God, both the work and the credit. Here you will find a compelling articulation of a view that does precisely that. Read this book and then rejoice in the God of our salvation, who brings about the miraculous transformation of sinners into saints–all to the praise of his glorious grace.” –Stephen J. Nichols, Research Professor of Christianity and Culture, Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
“The Arminian controversy in the Netherlands continues to rumble on in varying forms centuries later. Recently, a number of Arminian theologians–and others attempting a middle path–have highlighted these questions again. Barrett carefully considers their arguments from both biblical and theological angles. This is a thorough and persuasive piece of work, demonstrating that only the consistent monergism of classic Reformed theology does justice to the gospel as a work of God’s grace.” –Robert Letham, Senior Lecturer in Systematic and Historical Theology, Wales Evangelical School of Theology
“Either God is sovereign or he is not. Matthew Barrett takes the bull by the horns and demonstrates that only the affirmation of complete divine sovereignty in all things can do justice to what God has done for our salvation. Attempts to water this down by finding room for human cooperation may be well-meaning, but they are bound to fail. This is a timely book on a perennially important subject, specially geared to meet current challenges. Every pastor and theologically alert Christian should read it.” –Gerald Bray, Research Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama
“Matthew Barrett has provided a tremendous resource for thoughtful Christian readers, both Arminian and Calvinist, in his careful and insightful analysis of the doctrines of God’s calling and regeneration of sinners to salvation. Since these doctrinal areas are at the heart of the great divide between an Arminian and a Reformed soteriology, it is critical that we understand clearly what the Scriptures say on these matters. Barrett’s illuminating discussion of the history of these doctrines, and his masterful treatment of all the relevant biblical passages, makes this book one of the most important contributions for adjudicating our differences and for leading us into a more faithful understanding of God’s gracious saving work in our lives as believers. For clarity in theological understanding, and for the sake of our own souls, I heartily recommend this book.” –Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
“The perennial debate regarding the relationship between God’s sovereign grace and initiative and human sin and choice in our salvation continues unabated in our present day. Even so, Matthew Barrett’s very helpful defense of God’s sovereign and effectual grace in our salvation is much needed. In Salvation by Grace, Barrett not only sets the debate in historical context, but also, in a biblically faithful and theologically accurate manner, provides a convincing defense of God’s sovereign initiative in salvation–a defense that ultimately and rightly underscores our triune God’s incredible and amazing grace toward sinners. I highly recommend this work.” –Stephen Wellum, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky; Editor, The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
“The doctrine of effectual calling–a better term than ‘irresistible grace’–is at the heart of what it means to confess that Jesus Christ is the sole and sufficient Savior of spiritually dead sinners. Matthew Barrett has done a masterful job of describing this teaching in its biblical, historical, and theological dimensions. An important book for theologians and all Christians who seek to understand the deepest meaning of God’s grace.” –Timothy George, Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University; General Editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture
“A number of virtues make Salvation by Grace a truly outstanding piece of work. The subject is timely. Even though the issues are old, they present themselves in new guises right up to the present. Barrett writes elegantly, his style belying the complexity of the subject. It is a learned book, showing masterful knowledge of the many sources discussed. Here we have polemics at their best, and yet the book is an opportune encouragement for anyone doubting the fully sovereign nature of God’s love in giving us salvation.” –William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“Matthew Barrett’s Salvation by Grace is a compelling and much-needed reminder that the doctrine of monergistic regeneration is, as B. B. Warfield once put it, ‘the hinge of the Calvinistic soteriology.’ It is also a bold yet winsome challenge to the all-too-common assumption that the saving efficacy of the cross is ultimately determined not by God but by ‘the will of man.’ Fair, judicious, and admirably sensitive to the exegetical and theological subtleties of both classical and contemporary discussions, Barrett capably demonstrates why Reformed believers insist that synergistic views of regeneration subvert the teaching of Scripture and surrender the glory of God in salvation. Enthusiastically recommended.” –Paul Kjoss Helseth, Professor of Christian Thought, Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minnesota
“Matthew Barrett’s Salvation by Grace contributes significantly to the burgeoning literature on Reformed theology by young scholars. He ably leads the reader through philosophical and historical elements of the centuries-old debate between monergism and synergism. He correctly notes, however, that the primary issue is biblical and theological. Barrett identifies monergism–that God acts alone to effectually and sovereignly regenerate depraved sinners–as the sine qua non of biblical exegesis faithful to the Bible. A tour de force defense of the Calvinist doctrine of God’s sovereignty, Salvation by Grace illustrates the biblical concept of the unity of truth. After demonstrating that Augustinian original sin, Calvinist total depravity, and Lutheran bondage of the will correctly capture the Bible’s teaching on human nature, Barrett effectively shows the indispensability of interpreting faith, repentance, and conversion monergistically through careful exegesis of biblical texts. Faithful adherence to the coherence and consistency of biblical texts guides Barrett’s argument. Barrett also marshals ample confessional support for monergism from the Canons of Dort and the Westminster Confession. Finally, a careful probing of Arminian scholarship rounds out this fine book. What emerges is the vast diversity of synergistic interpretations that clutter the historical landscape, from Pelagius’s humanistic synergism to an array of contemporary evangelical views. Given the complexity of synergisms in the Arminian tradition, one finds it difficult, if not impossible, to discern any unity of truth that holds the field together. I came away from Barrett’s examination of monergism with a new appreciation for the benefits derived from adhering to confessional evangelicalism.” –Andrew Hoffecker, Emeritus Professor of Church History, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi
“Salvation by Grace approaches a deep and controversial topic with the goal of understanding it according to the Scriptures. Although very well reasoned, this is not primarily a philosophical or apologetic argument, but one that shows the biblical foundation for the linchpin of Calvinism. With an eye on the past as well as the contemporary debate, Dr. Barrett does an outstanding job of helping the reader understand why Calvinists hold their view and why they believe it really matters. The glory of God as the One who saves us from ourselves is powerfully presented so that the reader may be led to deeper worship, humility, and confidence.” –Erik Thoennes, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies; Chair, Biblical and Theological Studies Theology Department, Biola University and Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, California
“Writing as an evangelical to evangelicals, and particularly reflecting the sometimes-heated soteriological discussions current within his Southern Baptist setting, Matthew Barrett here addresses for a new day issues highlighted by B. B. Warfield in his The Plan of Salvation (1918).” –Kenneth J. Stewart, Professor of Theological Studies, Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia
“Whether you are looking at this book because you assume that you already agree or disagree with Matthew Barrett, or perhaps aren’t sure where you come down on these issues, don’t assume that you are holding in your hands a run-of-the-mill defense of classic Calvinist doctrine. What Barrett has given us in this book is a careful examination of the biblical-theological case for the sovereignty of God in salvation and a fair and accurate analysis of the historical and modern debates surrounding this vital doctrine. At the end of the day, this doctrine is not simply a matter for debate–it is about what the Bible reveals as the only hope of salvation that lost sinners in rebellion against their Creator have. So put aside all bias and the personal animosity that too often marks this debate, and prayerfully read the case that Barrett makes for salvation being, from beginning to end, the work of God alone.” –Brian Vickers, Assistant Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
“The testimony of Scripture is that ‘salvation belongs to the Lord!’ (Jonah 2:9). In Salvation by Grace, Matthew Barrett calls us to revel in this truth. As an heir of the Reformation, with the pastoral zeal and careful thinking that were part of that sixteenth-century revival, he reminds us that what we think about this subject matters. God’s glory and our assurance of salvation are wrapped up in whether God chooses and saves us or whether we choose him. Barrett’s work combines careful historical research, meticulous biblical exegesis, and thoughtful theological formulation. As you read it, worship the God who raises dead sinners to life in Christ!” –Shawn D. Wright, Associate Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
“Barrett’s examination of this critical area of theology is historically informed, providing an accurate setting and perspective for the discussion. It is also theologically precise, providing definitive expositions of all sides of the debate. It is surprisingly exhaustive, treating all the primary arguments and counterarguments responsibly. And most importantly, it is exegetically compelling, bringing God’s own Word to bear on a doctrine designed to bring him glory. A valuable resource indeed! Highly recommended.” –Fred G. Zaspel, Pastor, Reformed Baptist Church, Franconia, Pennsylvania; Adjunct Professor of Theology, Calvary Baptist Seminary, Lansdale, Pennsylvania
“The relationship between saving faith and regeneration is vitally important in the biblical doctrine of salvation. It is a watershed issue in the debate between historic Calvinism and historic Arminianism. Although one can savingly believe the gospel without rightly understanding this relationship, the integrity of the biblical witness to the grace of God in that gospel cannot be consistently maintained without recognizing the priority of regeneration in the application of salvation. Dr. Barrett sees this truth clearly and argues persuasively for the monergistic–or Calvinistic–position. His arguments are exegetically careful, theologically rigorous, and historically informed. Monergists will welcome this book as a helpful guide to the issues at stake, and synergists will not be able to ignore its devastating critique of their strongest arguments.” –Thomas Ascol, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, Florida; Executive Director of Founders Ministries; Editor of the Founders Journal.
“A movement that Collin Hansen identifies as young, restless, and Reformed is afoot. It entails a resurgence of Calvinist doctrine among young Christian scholars, many of whom are writing excellent PhD dissertations and recasting them as accessible books. Matthew Barrett may be young, restless, and Reformed, but even more, he is an emerging scholar and theologian who possesses great energy and passion for the gospel and for Christ’s church. His book Salvation by Grace reflects both his passion for God’s glory as revealed in the gospel and his energy to make clear for all his readers that when God calls everyone whom he purposes to save, his call is effectual and the Spirit’s making us alive is solely a divine act and not of our doing at all, given the fact that we were dead in our tombs of trespasses and sins, no less than the senseless and decaying body of Lazarus in the tomb of death. Salvation by Grace reaffirms a time-honored teaching of the Scriptures, carefully accounts for monergism’s corollary doctrines, and freshly presents it all for a new generation of young and perhaps restless minds that Matthew Barrett would like to influence to embrace the Reformed doctrine that salvation in Christ is entirely of God’s effectual grace.” –A. B. Caneday, Professor of New Testament Studies & Biblical Theology, Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minnesota
“Do we come to God or does he draw us to himself? This is the key question that divides monergism from synergism. Matthew Barrett has written an extremely helpful book and makes a strong case for monergism in the regeneration and effectual calling of sinners to Christ. This work is exegetically extensive, historically informed, and theologically thorough. Anyone who wants to understand the differences between monergism and synergism will find Barrett’s work an able guide.” –J. V. Fesko, Academic Dean and Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Westminster Seminary California
“The issue tackled in this fine work is an ancient one: it was briefly touched on by Irenaeus in his debates with Gnostic determinists, and then fully aired in the fourth and fifth centuries by Augustine in his critique of Pelagianism. Of course, this was not the end of the story; it came up again in the writings of the Saxon theologian Gottschalk, only to be refought during the Reformation by numerous Reformation theologians in their replies to the Church of Rome. And it has been revisited a number of times since that major turning point in church history. Dr. Barrett is, then, in good company in defending this perspective on salvation. And in commending this work, we do not wish for more controversy, but hope and pray that the position recommended in the book might be pondered deeply by all who read it, and biblical truth ultimately prevail.” –Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Matthew Barrett’s Salvation by Grace provides a theological feast for its readers. Barrett shows a profound grasp of historical theology on this issue, a clear and pertinent deftness in exegesis, an impressive knowledge and understanding of the doctrinal nuances and connections, a detailed understanding of the contemporary literature on it, and a convincing way of synthesizing the vital points of argument. I agree with him; but if one does not agree with him, this is still a book to read in order to know what is at stake in the discussion.” –Tom J. Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky