Book review: Kevin McFadden, Faith in the Son of God: The Place of Christ-Oriented Faith within Pauline Theology. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021.)

Note: The publisher provided me with a complimentary review copy of this book in kindle format.


  The gospel continues to be attacked within academic circles, with many scholars undermining the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. Over the past four decades the notorious “New Perspective on Paul” (NPP) has undermined the historic and scriptural understanding of Romans and Galatians. A related error – recently promulgated by Richard Hays – is the “Faith of Christ” (FOC) view, which affirms that salvation is not to by faith in Christ, but rather by God’s faithfulness in sending Christ to the cross. Individual salvation is denied, in favor of “apocalyptic” interpretations of the cosmic effects of the Son’s death. Many writers take these ideas in the direction of universalism. On balance, the FOC doctrine severely impairs the true gospel, and muddies the gospel waters by removing individual response to Christ and His work.


  Kevin McFadden, a professor at Cairn University in Philadelphia, argues for the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, mainly employing the six key Pauline passages that discuss pistis (“faith”) and Christ, thereby establishing the doctrine of the gospel. He writes lucidly, yet cogently, building a succinct but strong argument for the Reformation (i.e. biblical) glad tidings. A few quotations from the author spell out his intentions:


“The positive thesis for which this book is arguing is that Paul significantly emphasizes Christ-oriented faith in his theology.” Kevin W. McFadden, Faith in the Son of God. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway: 2021), 49.

“My argument is that Paul’s teaching about faith refers to sources that speak about our faith in God, and even Christ, as a cause and condition of salvation.” Kevin W. McFadden, Faith in the Son of God. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway: 2021), 53.

“So in conclusion, on the one hand, if we are to be true to the apostle’s theology, we should be wary of separating faith and Christ by speaking about faith without at the same time speaking about the object of our faith: Christ. If Søren Kierkegaard rightly said that we never move beyond faith, perhaps Paul would clarify that this means we never move beyond Christ. On the other hand, we should be wary of separating Christ from our faith as I think the ‘faithfulness of Christ’ view has.” Kevin W. McFadden, Faith in the Son of God. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway: 2021), 268-269.


  The book’s only fault is that is seems to be written with seminary educated people in mind. Many readers will be put off by the extensive discussions of Greek and Hebrew grammar, as well as the numerous footnotes interacting with scholarship over the past two centuries. This is not really a flaw: someone needs to interact with contemporary scholarship and its multifarious attacks on the faith. Of necessity, this limits the readership to a specific audience with a certain amount of theological and linguistic training. That being said, this is a useful book, defending the true gospel from modern adulteration.