B.B. Warfield And Lewis S. Chafer On Sanctification -- By: Randall C. Gleason

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 40:2 (Jun 1997)
Article: B.B. Warfield And Lewis S. Chafer On Sanctification
Author: Randall C. Gleason


B.B. Warfield And Lewis S. Chafer
On Sanctification

Randall Gleason*

Over the past decade evangelical theologians have authored a number of books advocating diverse and even divergent perspectives on the work of sanctification. 1 Among these competing models, perhaps the hardest fought battle has been between conventional Calvinism and what for lack of a better term might be called the Chaferian view. 2 These two approaches agree on a number of points: that sanctification involves both the sovereign grace of the Holy Spirit and the willing response of the individual believer, that the experience of sanctification is progressive, that sinless perfection is attained only in the glorified state of heaven and not in this present life, and that the believer is eternally secure from the moment of regeneration. 3 Nevertheless several significant differences remain. Basic areas of disagreement include the relationship between justification and sanctification, the relationship between divine sovereignty and human participation in the process of sanc-tification, and the question of whether the believer has one or two natures. 4 Although these points have often been debated both Biblically and theologically, the influence of the historical background that shapes the rhetoric has generally been overlooked. A grasp of this context is crucial to a deeper understanding of the classic Reformed and the Chaferian approaches. To

* Randall Gleason is professor of systematic theology at International School of Theology—Asia, QCCPO Box 1495–1154, Quezon City, Philippines.

this end, a closer look at two figures who played vital roles in their development is in order.

The first is Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851–1921), who in 1887 succeeded Archibald Alexander Hodge as professor of didactic and polemic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. The last of Old Princeton’s champions of conservative Calvinism, Warfield did much to elucidate the Reformed perspective of sanctification, particularly through his polemics against the perfectionism of the “higher life” and Keswick movements. 5 The second is Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871–1952), who in 1924 founded Dallas Theological Seminary, then called Evangelical Theological College, and for twenty-eight years served as its president. Chafer was chiefly responsible for clarifying dispensationalism’s dogmatic framework, not only through his monumental Systematic Theology, the firs...

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