Stephen Gibson, The Sincerity of God (Salem, OH: Allegheny, 2008). 103 pages.
Dr. Vic Reasoner
THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 2. Fall 2008. Volume 26. Page 10
The premise of Stephen Gibson is that God would not command what is impossible and he would not promise what is unattainable. He calls this concept "the promise hermeneutic." This principle is in line with Richard Watson, who wrote that through the new covenant there is conveyed that grace which enables man to comply with the terms of it. It is in agreement with Robert Picirilli in his description of enabling grace or pre-regenerating grace. Picirilli saw this preliminary grace as essentially the same as the divine calling. While Calvinism insists that a dead man cannot assist in his own resurrection, yet we are commanded to repent and believe the Gospel. Picirilli argues that this preliminary grace simply means that the Spirit of God overcomes that inability by a direct work on the heart so that whatever is required, the Spirit makes possible.
According to John Wesley, the encouragement for a believer to go on unto perfection comes under four categories: promises, prayers, commands, and examples. In this book Gibson surveyed 120 commentaries on one such extended promise in 1 Thessalonians. The majority of the commentators surveyed either ignored the primary theme of sanctification in 1 Thessalonians or interpreted this passage in light of their theology.
While I was in seminary, Dr. Robert Thomas, professor of New Testament language and literature, compiled a 120-page exegetical digest of 1 Thessalonians which dealt with the lexical and syntactical issues in this book. This provided the basis for his commentary on 1 Thessalonians in The Expositor's Bible Commentary. In spite of all his analysis, the concept of entire sanctification never came up one time on his radar.
Gibson concluded, "The necessity they feel to juggle terms, dodge the point, and ignore the obvious comes from a sort of pessimism. Their emphasis of human depravity and inability actually translates into a divine inability. They simply cannot believe that God will make possible what He requires of a believer" [p. 84; see also p. 7].
In personal correspondence with me Gibson wrote that when he was in Ukraine he could not find any Wesleyan commentaries in Russian at all. That means that in a language that 300 million people read, there is no commentary with a Wesleyan interpretation of such scriptures as Romans 6-7, or 1 Thessalonians 5:23. "I would guess that the same is true of most of the languages of the world." Therefore, we must publish or perish.