Historic Documents of American Presbyterianism

The Justification Controversy
Recently Professor Norman Shepherd has written a book titled The Call of Grace: How the Covenant Illuminates Salvation and Evangelism (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2000). Release of this book has renewed a discussion which originally took place between the years 1975 and 1983 and which focused on questions about Professor Shepherd's teaching on the subject of soteriology [salvation], and specifically on the doctrine of justification by faith. It was alleged that Professor Shepherd was teaching a view of justification in which the works of the Christian life were seen as necessary to the completion of the believer's salvation. Formal charges were never brought against Professor Shepherd during the time that he remained a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, though he was eventually asked to leave the employ of Westminster Theological Seminary in 1982. He subsequently became a member of the Christian Reformed Church and pastored two churches in that denomination. He retired from active pastoral ministry in the last few years and is now actively engaged in writing and speaking.

As this matter continues to be of concern to the Church, an effort has been made to gather related documents together into an artificial collection, to facilitate historical review and further discussion. What follows is a listing of documents on file in the PCA Historical Center which are relevant to this issue. A collected set of the documents listed below are available for viewing in the Reading Room of the Historical Center. Qualified researchers may also write to obtain copies of these materials.

Notations: This is a synthetic collection, drawn from collections housed at the PCA Historical Center and from donations by various individuals. Source references are provided in brackets at the end of each entry, with the denotation "xg" indicating that this is a photocopy of the document rather than an original copy. Documents and other materials known to exist but not in the present collection are indicated in green text.
Additional listings will be added as time permits.

1975
4"The Covenant Context for Evangelism," a paper presented at the 1975 Pre-Synodic Conference at Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Subsequently published with other papers from the Conference as The Church and Her Ministry (Pittsburgh, PA: The Board of Education and Publication, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, 1975), pp. 100-114.
1976
4
Article: "The Covenant Context for Evangelism," by Norman Shepherd, The New Testament Student and Theology, (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1976), pages 50 - 75.
4 1 October 1976, Shepherd, Norman, The Relation of Good Works to Justification in the Westminster Standards, a paper presented to the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary, 53pp. [MS 53]

1977
4undated - Reid, William Stanford, Faith and Justification: A Consideration of the Views of Norman Shepherd [4 pp., date uncertain but perhaps as early as 1977 [Reid elsewhere says he was the first to write on this matter; the 9 Oct. 79 List gives 21 March 1977 as the date of this paper ]
4July, 1977 - Ferguson, Sinclair B., Book Review of The New Testament Student and Theology in The Banner of Truth, Issues 166 - 167, July - August, 1977, pages 59 - 63; see especially pages 60 - 63.
4November 1977 - Shepherd, Norman, More on Covenant Evangelism: A Reply from Norman Shepherd [to the review by Sinclair Ferguson], Banner of Truth, Issue 170, pages 22 - 26.

1978
43 January 1978 - Shepherd, Norman, Response to a Special Report of the Faculty to the Board on the Discussion on Faith and Justification, 16pp, including appendices A - D. [MS 53]
431 January 1978 - Godfrey, W. Robert, Letter to the Board of Trustees of Westminster Theological Seminary, 5pp., including appendix A. [MS 53]
41 March 1978 - Shepherd, Norman, A Further Response to a Special Report of the Faculty to the Board on the Discussion of Faith and Justification, 5pp. [MS 53]
425 April 1978 - Clowney, Edmund P., Remarks of E.P. Clowney, Read at the April 25, 1978 Faculty Meeting [handwritten notes, 7 pp.]
425 April 1978 - Faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary, Report of the Faculty to the Board on Faith and Justification, 4pp. [MS 53]
4 undated, Hughes, Philip E. - Some Reasons for Dissenting from the Majority Report of 21 April 1978 [11 pp.]
415 May 1978 - Robertson, O. Palmer, Letter to the Board of Trustees of Westminster Theological Seminary, 3pp., [MS 53]
417 May 1978 - Robertson, O. Palmer, Nineteen Erroneous Or Misleading Statements in Norman Shepherd's October, 1976 paper on "The Relation of Good Works to Justification in the Westminster Standards," 10pp. [MS 53]
4June 1978 - Shepherd, Norman, Reprobation in Covenant Perspective: The Biblical Doctrine [Transcript of the second lecture before the Christian Reformed Ministerial Institute], 18pp. [MS 53]
44 November 1978 - Gaffin, Richard B., Reply to the Dissent of Dr. Hughes, 16pp. [MS 53]
418 November 1978 - Shepherd, Norman, Letter to the Presbytery of Philadelphia (OPC), with attachment, Thirty-Four Theses on Justification in Relation to Faith, Repentance, and Good Works  [8 pp.]

1979
48 February 1979 - Shepherd, Norman, The Grace of Justification, 22pp. [MS 53]
428 May 1979 - Poythress, Vern S., Cover Letter and response paper, Systematic Theologizing in the Justification Controversy, 18pp. [xg, MS 53]
4July 1979 - Mitchell, John, Open Letter to the [OPC] Presbytery of Philadelphia, et. al., 12pp., with cover letter from Joe Kickasola to Carl Bogue, dated 12 September 1979 [xg, MS 53]
4undated, Robertson, O. Palmer, Genesis 15:6 -- New Covenant Expositions of an Old Covenant Text, 42pp. [MS 53]
49 October 1979 - List of 13 Documents sent by Members of the Special Board-Faculty "Justification" Committee, to Representative Outside Colleagues. [MS 53]
4
20 October 1979 - Hendricksen, William, Letter of response regarding Shepherd’s views, 1 pg.

43 November 1979 - Nicole, Roger, Letter of response regarding Shepherd’s views, 5 pp.
49 November 1979 - Klooster, Fred, Letter of response regarding Shepherd’s views, 4 pp.
412 December 1979 - Sproul, R.C., Letter of response regarding Shepherd’s views, 7 pp.

1980
414 January 1980 - Murray, Iain H., Letter of response addressed to Drs. O. Palmer Robertson and Paul G. Settle, regarding Shepherd's views, 3pp. [xg, MS 13]
42 February 1980 - Hendricksen, William, Letter of response regarding Shepherd’s views [1 pg.]
413 February, 1980 - Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn, Letter of response regarding Shepherd’s views [2 pp.]
421 and 28 March 1980 - Shepherd, Norman, The Biblical Doctrine of Reprobation, appearing in The Banner, volume 115, Numbers 12 and 13, pages 16 - 17 and 18 - 19, respectively. [xg, MS 53]
430 April 1980 - Godfrey, W. Robert, Letter to the Board-Faculty Committee on Justification, Westminster Theological Seminary, 3pp. [xg, MS 53]
46 May 1980 - Knudsen, Robert D. and Kuschke, Arthur W., Letter to the Board-Faculty Committee to Prepare a Statement on Justification, Westminster Theological Seminary, 5pp. [xg, MS 53]
46 May 1980 - Robertson, O. Palmer, Norman Shepherd's 'Covenant Perspective:' An Analysis of His Public Statements, 7pp. [xg, MS 53]
412 May 1980 - Kline, Meredith G., Further Comments on Professor Shepherd's Theology, 3pp. [xg, MS 53]
419 May, 1980 - Robertson, O. Palmer and Settle, Paul G., Cover letter and Minority Report of 13 May 1980.
427 May 1980 - Westminster Statement on Justification, 17pp.
over letter by Donald J.MacNair urging caution in regard to the merger with the OPC, in light of the controversy. [35 leaves] together with the of 27 May 1980, 17 pp. [MS 19]
49 June 1980 - Reid, W. Stanford, Calvin K. Cummings and Everett H. Bean, Letter to OPC Presbytery of Philadelphia, submitting Minority Report of 13 May 1980 [xg, MS 53]
41 August 1980 - Robertson, O. Palmer, Letter to Donald J. MacNair, 2pp. [xg, MS 19]
4 27 August 1980 - MacNair, Donald J., Letter to the Fraternal Relations Committee of the RPCES, 2pp. [MS 19]
415 September 1980 - Shepherd, Norman, Letter to the Presbytery of Philadelphia of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, particularly regarding the circulation of the Minority Report, 7pp. [xg, MS 53]
430 December 1980 - Shepherd, Norman, Cover letter to Carl W. Bogue [1pg.] with attached copy of Minutes for the Presbytery of Philadelphia (OPC), 18 November 1978 through 22 November 1980, 123pp. [xg, MS 53]
4undated - Frame, John W., Some Comments on the Justification Issue, 1pg., several lines missing at the bottom of the page [xg, MS 53]
1980 - Shepherd, Norman, Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Course #ST311, Westminster Theological Seminary, (Philadelphia: Westminster Media, 1980), 43 audio cassettes.

1981
416 February 1981 - Robertson, O. Palmer, Letter to Dr. Morton H. Smith, 3pg. *Added 12 Nov. 02
410 March 1981 - Shepherd, Norman, Letter to Dr. Carl W. Bogue, 1pg., as attachment to copy of 15 September 1980 Letter to the Presbytery of Philadelphia (OPC) [xg, MS 53]
44 May 1981 - Dear Friends of the Reformed Faith, Cover Letter [2pp.] bearing typescript signature list of 45 names, with attached Letter of 4 December 1980 addressed to the Trustees of Westminster Theological Seminary, 6pp.
419 May, 1981 - Gaffin, Richard B., Jr., Open Letter, “To those concerned for the ministry of Westminster Seminary” [4 double-sided pages, 8 pages total length]
4
22 May 1981 – Clowney, Edmund C., Cover letter and attached Westminster Statement on Justification, dated 27 May, 1980, 28 pp. [PCA Stated Clerk Records, Box 17, File 26]
41 June 1981 - Gaffin, Richard B., Jr., "Dear Colleague in the Reformed Faith" [one page cover letter attached to Open Letter of 19 May 1981.
422 June 1981 - "To the Faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary" [reply to the 28 May WTS faculty vote from the "co-signers of the letter of concern"
4June 1981 - Clowney, Edmund P., Letter to Westminster Alumnus, 2pp. [xg, MS 53]
417 September 1981 - Barker, William Shirmer, II, Correspondence with Robert G. Rayburn [2 pp.]
421 November 1981 - Minutes of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Westminster Theological Seminary, 1 pg.
414 December 1981 - Dear Fellow Students and Alumni, Letter in support of Professor Shepherd with 16 signatures affixed, 6pp. [xg, MS 53]
41981 - Report of Advisory Committee #13 (OPC) regarding Complaint #1 [xg, MS 53]
41981 - Robertson, O. Palmer and W. Stanford Reid, Justification at Westminster Theological Seminary: The History of a Modern Controversy [25 pp.]
41981 - Zins, Robert M., Professor Norman Shepherd on Justification: A Critique, (Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, Th.M. thesis).
4undated - A Resolution on OP - PCA Union for the PCA Assembly including Minority Report to Board of Trustees (13 May 1980), pp. 403 - 436 of PCA Commissioner's Handbook [MS 53]
4undated - Personal Resolution from TE Carl W. Bogue, and accompanying papers, pp. 437 - 465 of PCA Commissioner's Handbook [MS 53]
1981 - Shepherd, Norman, Life in Covenant with God, Lectures presented at the French Creek Bible Conference, Sandy Cove, MD (Philadelphia: Westminster Media, 1981), audio cassettes.

1982
4
17 February 1982 - Shepherd, Norman, Letter to Carl W. Bogue, Jr. [xg, MS 53, restricted access]
426 February 1982, Reason and Specifications Supporting the Action of the Board of Trustees in Removing Professor Shepherd Approved by the Executive Committee of the Board, [18pp. and concluding with 21 November 1981 Statement of the Board of Trustees of Westminster Theological Seminary Regarding the Dismissal of Norman Shepherd [1pg.]; with attached Amendment [circa 1982] from the PCA addressing the justification issue in regard to the invitation for the joining and receiving of the OPC.
4
16 August 1982 - Shepherd, Norman, Letter of supporters, 10pp. [xg, MS 53]
4undated - no author indicated, Shepherd's Dismissal From Westminster Seminary, historical overview written in third person; appears to have accompanied above letter of 16 August 1982, 3pp. [xg, MS 53]

1983
4undated, Robertson, O. Palmer, and The Current Justification Controversy, [80 pages] [Box 16, File 22]
47 March 1983 - Knight, George W. III, Robert L. Reymond and O. Palmer Robertson, Letter to the Committee of Forty-Five
4June, 1983 - Robertson, O. Palmer, Resolution before the 11th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, 1pg. Also printed in 11MGA64. Answered in the negative §11-24, III, 11, p. 76 (Handled in I-79, p. 133).

1987
416-17 January 1987 - "In Covenant with the Lord : Lectures Presented by the Rev. Norman Shepherd, January 16-17, 1987, Garden Grove Orthodox Presbyterian Church [five audio cassette tapes, including 1. Creation and Covenant; 2. Election and Covenant; 3. Old and New Covenant; 4. Evangelism and Covenant; 5. Assurance and Perseverance]

2001
4March/April, Karlberg, Mark W., The Changing of the Guard: Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (Unicoi, TN: Trinity Foundation, 2001), 47pp.

[last update : 21 March 2006]