Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Duane Warden's commentary on 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: a book review

I am quite excited to acquire Duane Warden's Truth for Today Commentary on 1 & 2 Peter and Jude. Warden's writing came to my attention when I was recently studying 1 Peter 1:10-12. Warden is strongly Restorationist in his approach to Scripture; but he is not a card-carrying member of the Restorationist club. That is, he is unwilling to toe the Restorationist line only on the basis that a particular teaching has been taught among Restorationists for a hundred years. I hae seen a propensity on occasion for teachers and commentators in the churches of Christ to teach in lock-step behind Jim McGuiggan, Burton Coffman, Guy Woods, Foy Wallace, Barton Stone or even Alexander Campbell. While the teachings of these gentlemen (and others) carry weight, they are not above Scriptural scrutiny. Unfortunately, nobody bucks against traditional church teaching without push-back. That's probably a good thing as long as the push-back includes personal unbiased Bible study. Unfortunately, again, many people look to the Scriptures in order to only refute something they just heard that bucks against traditional teaching. That's not honest Bible study. I have recently been on the receiving end of such buck-back and it can be handled very unfairly.

But I digress.

It is refreshing to discover a Restorationist writer who is willing to challenge long-held assumptions. Warden brilliantly challenged standard assumptions in his handling of 1 Peter 1:10-12 with thorough examination of the Greek text and with comparisons to similar Greek structures. He also appealed to the natural reading of the text. His conclusions qualify as a minority view; but he supports his conclusions upon very strong pillars. I approve.

Warden digs into the text without apology. For example, he forcefully challenges the standard Reformist teaching about baptism when he comments on 1 Peter 3:21 which reads:
And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ...

I have several commentaries from Evangelicals who, on this verse, write pages trying to explain how the verse does not say what it appears to say. None of the arguments (which come across to me as waffles) are persuasive. They treat the verse like it is difficult. Well, it is difficult... if you march in lock-step with standard modern Christian thinking. Warden writes, in part,
[The original readers] would have understood that [baptism] was no mere mechanical act. Its efficacy springs first from the work of Christ who "died for sins... the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). Second, it springs from the faith response of his readers. What is clear is that "baptism" is a human act, but it is also a divine act. The penitent believer is saved whet he is baptized (Romans 6:3, 4). Calvin, Zwingli, and other reformers were correct in many of their criticisms of Roman Catholicism, but they were mistaken when they rejected the notion that God acts when faith is expressed in baptism.

D. A. Carson was mistaken when he suggested that churches of Christ have a peculiar view of baptism without historical roots in the Christian tradition.... Many biblical scholars who have no connection with the churches of Christ point out that in the New Testament and the early church, baptism, conversion, and the remission of sins were inseparably connected. They may not agree on the way the modern church is to be guided by the practice of Christians in the New Testament, but there are many who understand that for the early church there was no such thing as a Christian who had not been baptized. (190-191)

The structure of the book is quite good. It is a nice hardback with sewn-in pages.

As far as I can tell, this commentary is available only from its publisher, Resource Publications, but it may be available from other sources.

posted from Bloggeroid

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