Throwing out the (dirty) baby with the bath water [pt 3]

{What follows are key statements from Galli’s review (in bold italics) followed by my thoughts in response}

…maybe the pursuit of holiness is not so much a striving to adopt a life of habitual virtue but learning how to live a life of constant repentance. Why the false dichotomy? Galli does well to promote a life of constant repentance but he stumbles by failing to see that repentance is itself the first step in the pursuit of holiness (and its virtues). His conjecture that the pursuit of holiness may consist of repentance without habitual virtue is biblically bankrupt, requiring that we invest in a product Scripture never tries to manufacture much less sell: fruitless repentance (or is that “virtueless” repentance?). In the most fundamental sense repentance is both a turning from and a turning to (see Ezek 14:6; 18:30; Mat 3:8; Acts 26:20; 2Cor 7:10-11; Rev 2:5; 9:20) which means that repentance consists of putting off corruption and putting on righteousness (Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9-10). The Christian can possess a fruitless repentance no more than he can possess a fruitless faith.

…those who pursue holiness with the passion that [DeYoung] pleads for are more than “susceptible” to [judgementalism and arrogance]; they will inevitably become self-righteous. This is my personal testimony and the witness of history. When did Galli’s personal testimony become a definitive statement on the (impossible) pursuit of holiness? I must have missed that passage. No matter, consider instead that, according to Galli, church history–all 2,000 years–is the mirror image of his personal testimony: that self-righteousness is the inevitable fate for all those with the temerity to strive for holiness. A claim like this gives new meaning to “hyperbole” and I’m going to assume that Galli would strike (or at least qualify) this line of his review if he were given a re-write. However, if Galli actually subscribes to this bleak view I’d be interested in a book swap–we’re clearly not reading the same history.

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Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Associate pastor for education at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian and theological Luddite. A student of one book.

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