ST 526 - PRINCIPLES OF SANCTIFICATION
Fall Term 2011, Thursdays – 11:00 a.m.
Reformed Theological Seminary/Charlotte
Dr. John W. P. Oliver
This course in the required curriculum for students preparing for ministry grows out of concern for
the spiritual life of the student of theology. It is deemed insufficient to have theological precision
alone. The serious student of theology must have a heart for the experiential knowledge of the
indwelling person of the Risen Christ though the person of the Holy Spirit. The indwelling Holy
Spirit is the believers’ Sanctifier. It is by the Holy Spirit that our Lord Jesus Christ lives in the
believers’ hearts as well as lives His life through the believer.
Thus, the class will serve to acquaint the student with a limited sample of writings, classic and
current, in the field of “applied sanctification.” The name of the course implies what the emphasis of
the course is - learning experimentally about the pursuit and practice of holiness. The seminary is
committed to the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms,
the standards that emerged from the English and Scottish Reformations, even though, as a
theological institution, it is not affiliated with any denomination. These Standards provide the
confessional foundation and framework for understanding the doctrine and practice of sanctification
and, specifically, the foundation for this class.
The practical aspects of the truth of sanctification are based on biblical and propositional aspects of
the truth of sanctification. The devout intent of the course is for the student to have a personal and
practical pursuit of holiness. “Pursue...holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
First, attention will be given to a review and summary of the biblical propositions which shape our
doctrine of sanctification. This propositional truth will be used as a standard by which other ideas
about sanctification, historical and current, are evaluated.
Then, various aspects and implications of what is to be believed and practiced about sanctification
will be considered - the devotional life, prayer habits, obedience with a glad spirit and the like.
Holiness, J. C. Ryle
The Mortification of Sin, John Owen (abridged by Richard Rushing)
Related and Recommended Texts (a sampling only)
The Death of Character, James Davison Hunter
The Enemy Within: Straight Talk about the Power and Defeat of Sin, Kris Lundgaard
Five Views of Sanctification, Dieter, Hoekema, Horton, McQuilkin, Walvoord
Conformed to His Image, Kenneth Boa
The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, Walter Marshall
Life in the Spirit, Robertson McQuilkin
The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer
Made for His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith, Alistair Begg
A Method for Prayer, Matthew Henry
The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges
The Spirit of Christ, Andrew Murray
Spiritual Theology: The Theology of Yesterday for Spiritual Help Today, Diogenes Allen
Subversive Spirituality, Eugene B. Peterson
A Treatise on Sanctification, James Fraser
A Tree by a Stream, Edmond Smith (editor)
It is expected that the two required texts will be read in their entirety. A question, answered simply
yes or no and observing the honor code, will be a part of the written final examination final exam and
will add or deduct to/from the score obtained on the examination.
The answers to two questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism are to be memorized and will
be included in the final examination. They are A #33 (What is justification?) and A #35 (What is
sanctification?). Either the traditional or updated version may be memorized.
One paper will be required. It should be succinct - to the point! The purpose of the paper in this
course is different from a standard term paper or research paper. This paper will not require
considerable research. It is an exercise in writing concisely, clearly and convincingly about the
assigned topic as though to defend the negative position in a debate entitled, “The Obligatory
Obedience Exercised by the Believer in Works of Sanctification Constitutes Legalism.” The
writing should give evidence of several things: an acquaintance with the issues of faith vis-à-vis
works; grace vis-à-vis law; returning continually, if not solely, to justification and adoption in
preaching; why mortification is currently so widely neglected; and, what the evidence/fruit of that
neglect is in the present American, evangelical Church.
There will be no mid-term examination. There will be a brief, short answer final examination to be
taken during “exam week” in early December.
The term grade will be comprised of the mark on the essay/paper, the completion of all the reading
and the final examination. Spotty class attendance could lower the term grade one letter (current