Methodology and Double-Speak

It has come to my attention in the debates surrounding various posts of mine here that a methodological question needs to be raised. Various people have hinted at it, but Chris’s comments brought it rather starkly to light.

A parable: a Jehovah’s Witness claims up one side and down the other that Jesus is Mighty God (via Isaiah 9:6. They do say that this passage refers to Jesus. However, then what they say is this: “He is not *Al*mighty God, only Mighty God. Oh, and they will also put “God” in lower-case letters. If one were to ask them “Do you believe that Jesus is God?” They can say “yes.” But they qualify it such that they really don’t say it. One could conceivably keep on pushing the JW to state whether or not they believe Jesus to be God, and theoretically, they could still keep on saying “yes.” But we know that they don’t mean it.

FV guys do the same thing. We will accuse them of denying the visible/invisible church distinction. They will say, “No fair! I said it here, here and here.” But then, if you look at how they define it, they have qualified it away. This is absolutely true of Wilkins, as I have more than demonstrated in my previous post. The same is true of imputation in justification in Lusk. He says he believes in imputation in one place, but then he will say that imputation is redundant in another. It cannot be both, friends. The truth of imputation cannot be expressed simply by union with Christ, since the RCC church also believes in union with Christ. I am really, really tired of FV supporters thinking that it is a good argument to say “He said this over here,” when we, as critics, actually acknowledge it most of the time. I have been extremely careful in this regard in my posts on Wilkins’s exam. In fact, this caution is clearly in evidence with regard to the visible/invisible church distinction. The real issue is this: is the theology consistent with the WCF (or 3FU) everywhere? 

So then, what I mean is that Lusk, for instance, in taking away imputation (saying it is redundant, that is) has taken away what is distinctive from the Reformed position vis-a-vis Rome wrt justification. Rome believed in union with Christ. This is the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, par 790 (pg. 227): “Believers who respond to God’s word and become members of Christ’s Body, become intimately united with him: ‘In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification.’ (quote is from Lumen Gentium 7) This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ’s death and Resurrection, and the Eucharist, by which ‘really sharing in the body of the Lord,…we are taken up into communion with him and with one another’ (quote from Lumen Gentium 7).”

The question that imputation deals with is this: “How does the righteousness of Jesus become mine?” The answer cannot simply be union with Christ, since that does not differentiate us from Rome. Rome would say that the righteousness of Christ comes by way of union with Him and receiving the infusion of Christ’s righteousness. See CCC pars. 2019-2023. The Reformation says that the righteousness of Jesus Christ comes to us by way of imputation, not by infusion. This was the entire debate with regard to justification in the Reformation. Some might say “that is a terrible argument, to argue that Rome said this, and therefore we cannot believe that.” That’s not what I’m arguing, actually. What I’m saying is that the Reformation had major differences with Rome over justification. What were the nature of those differences? If we say the same thing as Rome, then we have denied that we are Reformed. That’s what I’m arguing.

Has Lusk dealt with the Rome question of imputation? That is, has he anywhere detailed why it is that saying imputation is redundant does not also take away the barrier to Rome? How does he differentiate his view from Rome? One would presume he would want to do so.

So, let’s cut through the methodological double-speak and ask the right question: is the FV theology compatible at every point with the WCF (or 3FU)?

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63 Comments

  1. Chris said,

    December 28, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    1) “The same is true of imputation in justification in Lusk. He says he believes in imputation in one place, but then he will say that imputation is redundant in another. It cannot be both, friends. The truth of imputation cannot be expressed simply by union with Christ, since the RCC church also believes in union with Christ”

    –This has been answered. See pp.13-15 here: http://tinyurl.com/tkt6g

    2) “since the RCC church also believes in union with Christ”
    —who cares. Maybe a point of unity not division. Hence the joint declaration of Lutheran and Catholics on Justification should be considered. “since Rome” is a weak argument as to why its wrong.

    3) Whatever your reasons of disagreement, it still doesn’t excuse you slandering Wilkins. Period.

  2. greenbaggins said,

    December 28, 2006 at 3:27 pm

    Point 1. Lusk did not answer this in any shape, way or form. He didn’t even reference the Roman Catholic view of Union with Christ, which is precisely my point. To answer Lusk’s question, however. Lusk says that there is no need for a separate imputation, since being in Christ, or union with Christ implies that all that is true of Christ is true of us. He asks “what do we gain by imputation?” The question reveals a faulty view of union. To say that we are united with Christ is not to say that we are swallowed up in Christ. We are united, *yet distinct* from Christ. He overemphasizes the ‘united” part. If two people get married, the property of one does not automatically become the property of the other unless certain laws/agreements are in place. Wht imputation safeguards, then, is that in no way, shape, or form is the righteousness inherently ours. If imputation is lost, then there is no answer to infusion (which confounds justification and sanctification and introduces works into justification through the back door).

    Point 2. You didn’t read read the article very well, did you? I dealt with the “since Rome” objection already. I am not going to do it again. And by the way, Calvin and Luther would crucify you for saying “who cares.”

    Point 3. I am not slandering Wilkins. Period. I am describing accurately what he believes.

  3. Todd said,

    December 28, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    “Rome would say that the righteousness of Christ comes by way of union with Him and receiving the infusion of Christ’s righteousness. See CCC pars. 2019-2023.”

    But where does the CCC speak of the righteousness *of Christ* in particular?

  4. greenbaggins said,

    December 28, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    Session 6, chapter 7 of the Council of Trent says this: “For, although no one can be just, but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification of the impious, when by the merit of that same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth, by the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity.”

    CCC has not repudiated any of the Council of Trent. CCC doesn’t have to repeat everything that has been said before.

  5. Todd said,

    December 28, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    You mean more by the righteousness of Christ than “merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ,” don’t you, Lane? I know Lusk does.

    Lusk, of course, believes that his repudiation of the whole category of merit keeps him pretty far from Rome:

    http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/rome_wont_have_me.htm

    Here’s Joel Graver on imputation and infusion:

    http://www.joelgarver.com/writ/theo/question.htm

  6. greenbaggins said,

    December 28, 2006 at 6:30 pm

    Of course I believe that the righteousness of Christ in includes more than the merits of the Passion. I hope you are not seeing that as an answer to my argument. It is certainly part of the whole.

    Lusk’s arguments against the category of merit could equally apply to the category of “Trinity.” I find him wholly unconvincing.

    Thanks for the Garver paper. Unfortunately, there is one gigantic omission in Garver’s paper: he forgot to mention the WCF’s entire and utter exclusion of infusion from justification!

  7. Todd said,

    December 28, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    “The truth of imputation cannot be expressed simply by union with Christ, since the RCC church also believes in union with Christ.”

    But I don’t think you’ve shown that the RCC speaks of union with Christ, or even of the righteousness *of Christ* in particular, in connection with justification.

    I’m just trying to see how meaningful or accurate your claim about Lusk’s view is:

    “So then, what I mean is that Lusk, for instance, in taking away imputation (saying it is redundant, that is) has taken away what is distinctive from the Reformed position vis-a-vis Rome wrt justification.”

  8. greenbaggins said,

    December 28, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    Did you read the CCC quotations? They explicitly mentioned union with Christ, and they were in the section on justification. Really, I don’t know that this could be made clearer.

  9. Todd said,

    December 28, 2006 at 7:25 pm

    790 is part of the section on the church, not justification.

    The section on justification does not deal mention union with Christ at all.

    The next section, on grace, mentions it once, in paragraph 1997, but not in connection with justification. And it comes up in 2014, but not in connection with justification.

  10. Chris said,

    December 29, 2006 at 10:06 am

    “To say that we are united with Christ is not to say that we are swallowed up in Christ. We are united, *yet distinct* from Christ. He overemphasizes the ‘united” part. If two people get married, the property of one does not automatically become the property of the other unless certain laws/agreements are in place. Wht imputation safeguards, then, is that in no way, shape, or form is the righteousness inherently ours. If imputation is lost, then there is no answer to infusion (which confounds justification and sanctification and introduces works into justification through the back door).”

    –He hasn’t overemphasized union. He has made the qualifications necessary to understand the difference between the Church (body) and Christ (head). Nothing is swallowed up. He carefully makes these distinctions in the paper. On that note, I am finished with this. If this is the line of argument that you will take wth these men, I will now join the crowd saying you haven’t answered these men and the questions they are raising. Wilkins didn’t say what you posted earlier which is why I said you slandered him. And to this day, I have yet to see anyone deal with Lusk’s biblical arguments. Saying that it doesn’t distinguish btw Rome doesn’t interact with his biblical arguments. The overstatements, hyperbole, and slander isn’t what I consider fruitful interaction. It’s been interesting interacting with you. I’m out.
    Peace,
    Chris.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    December 29, 2006 at 10:39 am

    Yes, section 790 is on the section on church. But it says immediately after that, “This is especially true of baptism, which unites us to Christ’s death and Resurrection.” And then, in section 2020, it says that justification is given to us in baptism. So, it is all interconnected.

    Chris, “I will now join the crowd” is hilarious. As if you weren’t already there.

    To this day, I have yet to see the FV deal thoroughly with the critics, and with the Reformation and post-Reformation theologians on the issue of judgment of charity, etc.

  12. Todd said,

    December 29, 2006 at 10:48 am

    “So, it is all interconnected.”

    OK. But this is different than what you say here:

    “Did you read the CCC quotations? They explicitly mentioned union with Christ, and they were in the section on justification.”

    That’s false and careless.

  13. greenbaggins said,

    December 29, 2006 at 10:51 am

    False it is. Careless? Do you expect a scholar to be correct on every single thing he has ever written in his entire life? I had in mind that the quotations were all talking about the same thing. It wasn’t careless.

  14. Todd said,

    December 29, 2006 at 10:52 am

    False and careful?

  15. greenbaggins said,

    December 29, 2006 at 11:21 am

    Todd, just stop. I’ve admitted the error, and the reason why I made it. I’m a patient man, Todd. You are treading on thin ice here.

  16. December 30, 2006 at 3:04 am

    Todd, as a spectator I’m wondering why you can’t answer the substance of Lane’s point concerning the CCC and why all you are doing at this point is poking him in the eye for his error. For spectators, it is telling.

  17. Todd said,

    December 30, 2006 at 8:56 am

    I guess I’m not convinced there is any substance at all, man. He said, “So then, what I mean is that Lusk, for instance, in taking away imputation (saying it is redundant, that is) has taken away what is distinctive from the Reformed position vis-a-vis Rome wrt justification. Rome believed in union with Christ.”

    Also: “Rome would say that the righteousness of Christ comes by way of union with Him and receiving the infusion of Christ’s righteousness. See CCC pars. 2019-2023.”

    These paragraphs make no connection at all between the righteousness of Christ and union with him.

    There’s nothing to answer. Lane bluffed, and was called out for it. Spectators can draw their own conclusions.

  18. greenbaggins said,

    December 30, 2006 at 9:32 am

    Hardly bluffed, Todd. This is what Rome teaches. You cannot deny that union with Christ is a Romish doctrine as well as a Reformed doctrine. Paragraph 790 proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt. Connecting this paragraph with the Council of Trent Session 6, section 7 (which says all that need be said by the way, since it connects explicitly the justification of a sinner with his ingrafting into Christ (see comment 4)), my point is abundantly proved. The error was not in the post, either, but in the comments. Watch yourself, Todd.

  19. Todd said,

    December 30, 2006 at 9:59 am

    “You cannot deny that union with Christ is a Romish doctrine as well as a Reformed doctrine.”

    I certainly don’t deny this. I simply deny that you’ve proved your original claim, from the post: “Rome would say that the righteousness of Christ comes by way of union with Him and receiving the infusion of Christ’s righteousness. See CCC pars. 2019-2023.” These paragraphs mention neither the righteousness of Christ nor union with Christ.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    December 30, 2006 at 10:08 am

    You obviously didn’t read the Council of Trent quote, did you, which proves the point all by itself.

  21. Todd said,

    December 30, 2006 at 10:38 am

    But you originally wanted to prove it with CCC pars. 2019-2023.

    And the Trent quote doesn’t speak of Christ’s righteousness. Just the merit of his passion. You and Lusk both mean more by Christ’s righteousness than that. So it’s just false to claim that “Lusk … has taken away what is distinctive from the Reformed position vis-a-vis Rome wrt justification.”

  22. greenbaggins said,

    December 30, 2006 at 10:43 am

    That doesn’t follow remotely, Todd. Sometimes I wonder that a head of a classical school can reason so. Christ’s righteousness consists to a large extent of what He did on the cross. That is a very large chunk of Christ’s righteousness. It is quite large enough to support my claim that Rome believes that Christ’s righteousness is infused into the believer. Surely Rome would not believe that the merit of the Passion is given to the believer in one way, and the rest of Christ’s righteousness is given to the believer in some other way. I don’t even know why you are arguing about what Rome believes, when every single Reformed argument in the history of justification has said that Rome believes in the infusion of Christ’s righteousness to the believer in union with Christ. Read Owen and Buchanan for starters.

    Any more references to my error will be edited, Todd.

  23. Todd said,

    December 30, 2006 at 11:15 am

    “Surely Rome would not believe that the merit of the Passion is given to the believer in one way, and the rest of Christ’s righteousness is given to the believer in some other way.”

    Is this careful reasoning, Lane? I’m just pushing you to back up your claims. Does Rome really talk about Christ’s righteousness more broadly than the merit of his passion? If so, where?

    “I don’t even know why you are arguing about what Rome believes, when every single Reformed argument in the history of justification has said that Rome believes in the infusion of Christ’s righteousness to the believer in union with Christ. Read Owen and Buchanan for starters.”

    The infusion of *Christ’s* righteousness? You may be right, but I’ll still ask for proof.

    You’ve claimed that you can find a description of Rome’s belief “the infusion of Christ’s righteousness to the believer in union with Christ” in Owen and Buchanan. I’m eager to see it.

    But this head of a classical school has been taught to ask for real documentation, and not to settle for vague, exaggerated claims (“every single Reformed argument in the history of justification”) and authors’ names.

  24. greenbaggins said,

    December 30, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    Buchanan, pg. 142: “This is the radical error; for the whole question between the Popish and Protestant Chruches lies here: Are we justified by out own righteousness, or by the righteousness of Christ? by a righteousness infused and inherent, or by a righteousness imputed, which is not in us, but in Him?” Buchanan doesn’t mean that Rome taught that our justifying righteousness was from ourselves as the source. He means rather that as infused, it becomes ours. As to Owen, just look up “infusion” in the index of http://www.ccel.org, pp. 46-47 of the page index (sorted by author). Especially instructive is the instance on the interpretation of 2 Cor 5:21.

    http://www.ccel.org/search?category=fulltext&order=author&qu=infusion++languageID%3AEnglish&p=47

    And as head of the classical school, were you also taught that “vague exaggerated claims and authors’ names” is the same issue as whether Christ’s Passion constitutes enough of His righteousness to say that Rome claims infused righteousness for the believer? That’s pretty stunning logic.

    You just say “Is this careful reasoning?” That’s not an argument. I’m not going to answer a non-argument, Todd. You have to show that my reasoning was not logical. To my mind, it does not matter whether Rome broadens to include more of Christ’s righteousness than the Passion. That’s a red herring, plain and simple, Todd. If they admit that the righteousness of Christ’s passion is infused into the believer, that proves my point. If I proved that Christ’s Passion righteousness is infused, which I already did, then I don’t need to prove that it was Christ’s righteousness. I have already done that. This is ABC of Reformed history, Todd. I can still hardly believe that you are even bringing up this issue. It seems that the only way you could ever possibly be convinced of any argument of mine is if every single sentence of every single post and comment is supported by 50,000,000,000,000 documents. I don’t have the time to do that much research. You can jolly well look up some of those references yourself, if you’re really a truth seeker.

  25. Todd said,

    December 30, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    “If they admit that the righteousness of Christ’s passion is infused into the believer, that proves my point.”

    I don’t think so. The point I’ve been challenging is this: “So then, what I mean is that Lusk, for instance, in taking away imputation (saying it is redundant, that is) has taken away what is distinctive from the Reformed position vis-a-vis Rome wrt justification.”

    You have yet to prove that imputation is the only distinctive aspect of the Reformed doctrine of justification.

    The quotation from Buchanan did nothing like what you claimed it would do: “every single Reformed argument in the history of justification has said that Rome believes in the infusion of Christ’s righteousness to the believer in union with Christ.”

    Buchanan doesn’t say that at all in the quotation you provided. He doesn’t claim that Rome teaches the infusion of the righteousness of Christ. And he doesn’t mention union with Christ. You haven’t justified your claim yet.

    Here’s a line from Owen: “For those of the Roman church plainly say, that upon the infusion of a habit of grace, with the expulsion of sin, and the renovation of our natures thereby, which they call the first justification, we are actually justified before God by our own works of righteousness.”

    No infusion of Christ’s righteousness. No union with Christ. It might still be in Owen, but I’m not gonna take your word for it.

    Besides, according to Buchanan’s summary, Lusk is clearly on the Reformed side.

    “To my mind, it does not matter whether Rome broadens to include more of Christ’s righteousness than the Passion. That’s a red herring, plain and simple, Todd.”

    It’s no red herring, since you have claimed the imputation is the only distinctive aspect of the Reformed doctrine. But if Reformed doctrine has a broader definition of Christ’s righteousness than Rome does, then your claim is false.

    And I bet we can do this without the sarcasm and insults. Why not let this be an iron-sharpening-iron deal?

  26. December 31, 2006 at 4:43 am

    Todd said: “Buchanan doesn’t say that at all in the quotation you provided. He doesn’t claim that Rome teaches the infusion of the righteousness of Christ. And he doesn’t mention union with Christ. You haven’t justified your claim yet.

    ….

    No infusion of Christ’s righteousness. No union with Christ. It might still be in Owen, but I’m not gonna take your word for it.”

    Todd, you are being a very special sort of dense here. Go back and re-read those sections Lane quoted. They both mention Rome’s stance on infused righteousness. What do you think this could possibly refer to? The infused righteousness of Satan?! No. It refers to the infused righteousness of Christ, of course. You are confirming for me my suspicion that much of the problem with both you and Xon is a general ignorance of historical/systematic theology. That is 101 stuff in seminary.

  27. Todd said,

    December 31, 2006 at 8:26 am

    “It refers to the infused righteousness of Christ, of course.”

    You’ve done nothing like prove it simply by insisting and insulting.

    And besides, Lane has made a very specific claim about just what is distinctive in the Reformed view, and it’s not being dense to ask about whether Lane really has the goods.

    Lane has also made a very specific claim about how the Reformed have always described the Roman view, and I’m eager to see whether he can produce any real examples.

    All I need is a real quotation or two where these things are actually said clearly. Otherwise, it’s just a bluff. That is 101 stuff in seminary. Or high school debate.

  28. greenbaggins said,

    December 31, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    Todd, the quotes I have given are sufficient to establish well that an infusion of righteousness is present in justification in the Romish system. In the CCC the language is used “the righteousness of God.” Since I don’t see that a wedge can be put in-between the righteousness of God and the righteousness of Christ, we can prove the point that way.

  29. Todd said,

    December 31, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    “In the CCC the language is used “the righteousness of God.” Since I don’t see that a wedge can be put in-between the righteousness of God and the righteousness of Christ, we can prove the point that way.”

    But is this a connection that Rome makes?

    Besides, we’re still worlds away from proving that imputation is the only distinctive aspect of the Reformed view, or that “every single Reformed argument in the history of justification has said that Rome believes in the infusion of Christ’s righteousness to the believer in union with Christ.”

  30. greenbaggins said,

    December 31, 2006 at 5:58 pm

    I am not claiming that imputation is the only distinctive aspect of the Reformed view. Where did you get that? Or do you mean that imputation is distinctive only of the Reformed view? That’s worlds apart. And actually, either would be wrong.

    Todd, I have read everything by Reformed theologians on justification that I could get my hands on. Writers who are scholars often make generalizations based on that reading. That is what I am doing. Challenge it when you have done the reading, Todd. Have you read Calvin, Owen, Turretin, Edwards, Hodge, Bavinck, Dabney, Murray, Berkhof, Carson, Waters, and others on justification, or have you only read Lusk, Wilson, Horne, Leithart, Schlissel, Garver, Barach, Wilkins, and Jordan?

    I am not worlds away from proving it. I have proved it. And to do any more work on it would be to admit that I haven’t. I’m being frightfully honest here, I know. But I cannot help it. The only work you seem to do on these discussions, Todd, is to 1. poke holes in what I say, or 2. copy and paste from other people’s online stuff. It seems to me that the quotes you pick up from bona-fide paper hardcopy is because someone else references them. How about you starting a blog and providing positive theological formulations with rich scholarship behind it?

  31. Todd said,

    December 31, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    “I am not claiming that imputation is the only distinctive aspect of the Reformed view. Where did you get that?”

    Here: “So then, what I mean is that Lusk, for instance, in taking away imputation (saying it is redundant, that is) has taken away what is distinctive from the Reformed position vis-a-vis Rome wrt justification.”

    “Todd, I have read everything by Reformed theologians on justification that I could get my hands on. Writers who are scholars often make generalizations based on that reading. That is what I am doing.”

    Well, I’m really only asking for an example or two to justify your claim: “every single Reformed argument in the history of justification has said that Rome believes in the infusion of Christ’s righteousness to the believer in union with Christ.”

    No matter how much reading you’ve done, until you’ve produced a quotation or two that reflects the kind of language that you say is found everywhere, your readers can’t help but think that you’ve bluffed. The burden of proof is yours, since you made the claim.

    “I am not worlds away from proving it. I have proved it.”

    Readers can judge for themselves.

    “The only work you seem to do on these discussions, Todd, is to 1. poke holes in what I say,”

    When what you say is part of accusing a minister of heresy, I figure that it might be worth seeing whether there are holes to be poked. The stakes are certainly too high for the accuser to say, “You’ll have to trust me; look at all the books I’ve read!”

  32. Anne Ivy said,

    January 1, 2007 at 12:01 am

    I thought Lane supported his point quite well, actually.

    And Todd, I couldn’t quite tell whether you are complaining that Lane hasn’t provided sufficiently explicit citations regarding the RCC’s belief that Christ’s righteousness is infused into believers, or if you are actually arguing that the RCC doesn’t teach that.

    If the former, see the above, and if the latter….I converted to Roman Catholicism in my early 20’s, spent a dozen years as an extremely active, devout RC (and still have the books in boxes under my bed…I’m a real pack rat when it comes to books), my eldest daughter still IS an active, devout RC, and I can tell you with no hesitation whatsoever that Rome most assuredly believes that Christ’s righteousness is infused into believers via the sacraments.

    Mind, the official documents of the RCC do not invariably employ the term “infused”, though I know some online RC’s who cheerfully use it to describe how someone becomes righteous, but still, the RCC rejects the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer in favor of the infusion of His righteousness.

    There’s not a shred of doubt about that.

    And imputation is certainly a, if not the, linchpin doctrine of Reformed belief. There wouldn’t be any way to teach total depravity AND infused righteousness, for instance. There is a reason why the denominations that reject total depravity also reject imputation in favor of infusion. A key factor of infused righteousness is the acceptance that there is a particular level of personal righteousness necessary to gain entrance into glory (or even purgatory, come to that). Imputed righteousness does not have that requirement, since justification is a one-time, unalterable event. Infused righteousness is dependent upon the view that man isn’t born dead in his sins, merely sick.

    Remove imputation of Christ’s righteousness and there goes total depravity; once total depravity falls, the rest of the Reformed dominoes follow suit.

    So is imputation the SOLE distinctive of Reformed belief? No. But it is a foundational distinctive that supports many, if not most, of the other Reformed doctrines.

  33. January 1, 2007 at 12:50 am

    Todd said: “Here: “So then, what I mean is that Lusk, for instance, in taking away imputation (saying it is redundant, that is) has taken away what is distinctive from the Reformed position vis-a-vis Rome wrt justification.”

    This is basic reading comprehension. Saying “taken away what is distinctive” is not the same thing as saying “taken away all that is distinctive.”

    “But is this a connection that Rome makes?

    Wait a minute. Are you really saying that since Rome didn’t word things EXACTLY like Lane did that he hasn’t made his point? This is pathetic. Even if Rome didn’t make the connection between Christ’s righteousness and God’s righteousness explicitly, is it not there by logical implication?

    It only takes a 2 second Google search to see what you seem unwilling to see. Here is a quote from a debate by a Romanist: “In this first response to my opponent, I will primarily address this central question: Is Christ’s justification of sinners simply a declarative or imputed righteousness, or is justification an infusion of Christ’s own righteousness into the soul of the sinner?”

    http://www.mindspring.com/~jdarcy/files/johnd01.htm

    I won’t belabor the point anyway – Lane is right either way you formulate it. Either as “justification by infusion of God’s righteousness” or “Christ’s righteousness.” The structure and substance of his argument is the same. FV is guilty of Romanist errors if the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is substituted by or reducible to infusion of righteousness (whether it be in righteousness in the abstract, Christ’s, or God’s).

    Here is how another RC apologist understands the issue. Notice the name-dropping he does and how he understands the Reformers on this point:

    “Now we get to the heart of the matter, imputation verses infusion. We’ve already discussed aspects of this previously, now we shall go a little deeper. Let’s hear how Dr. Sproul explains it: “The question of inherent verses imputed righteousness goes to the heart of the Reformation debate. When the Reformers spoke of forensic justification, they meant a legal declaration made by God that was based on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer, not on Christ’s righteousness inherent in the believer. James Buchanan stated as his first proposition of justification that “justification is a legal, or forensic, term, and is used in Scripture to denote the acceptance of any one as righteous in the sight of God. . . .So far as etymology is concerned, the verb ‘to justify’ might possibly mean ‘to make righteous inherently’; . . . wherever it is used with reference to our acceptance with God, it can only be understood in a judicial or forensic sense.

    Likewise, Francis Turretin argued that in the Scriptures justification ‘is never taken for an infusion of righteousness, but as often as the Scriptures speak professedly about our justification, it always must be explained as a forensic term,”

    http://www.canapologetics.net/html/sproul3.html

    As a matter of fact, Sproul’s “Faith Alone” (which he quoted here) was one of the first books I read as a new Reformed believer 9 years ago. This stuff is really hard to miss. I’m sorry, but this conversation presupposes some very, very basic background knowledge here in order for us to get anywhere. You aren’t ready to defend ANYONE against heresy on soteriological issues if we need to teach you the ABC’s.

  34. Todd said,

    January 1, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    “This is basic reading comprehension. Saying “taken away what is distinctive” is not the same thing as saying “taken away all that is distinctive.””

    OK. If Lane agrees with this admission, it would be important for him to say so. I’d want to ask Lane, then, what else he believes to be distinctive in the Reformed view. He certainly hasn’t mentioned anything else yet. Agreeing that there are other distinctives will weaken his original claim.

    And I’m still very eager for Lane’s response to my questions about this claim, though: “every single Reformed argument in the history of justification has said that Rome believes in the infusion of Christ’s righteousness to the believer in union with Christ.” He has instisted that this is a scholar’s summary of lots and lots of reading, but I’m still hoping for some actual documentation. If this really describes every single Reformed argument, how hard should it be to find some real examples?

    Happy New Year.

  35. greenbaggins said,

    January 1, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Anne and David have more than answered you, Todd. I am quite content to let their answers stand.

  36. Todd said,

    January 1, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    OK. I’ll leave a final quotation:

    “At the same time, however, we should recognize a definite liability that attaches to this expression. ‘Alien’ can suggest what is detached, at a distance. It can easily leave the impression of an isolated imputative act, remote from the believer and without a clear relationship to Christ and the other aspects of salvation. In this regard, I have the impression that some Reformed thinking on justification, past and present, at least practically or popularly, centres on a line, focused on the individual sinner, that moves from my eternal election to its realization and documentation in history by my faith, produced by regeneration, faith that then receives justification. With this view Christ and his work are surely essential but recede into the background, along with other aspects of salvation.”

  37. greenbaggins said,

    January 1, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Sounds like Gaffin to me.

  38. Todd said,

    January 1, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Right. Gaffin offering an important criticism of a common Reformed way of speaking about justification.

  39. Anne Ivy said,

    January 1, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Who says it’s a “common” Reformed way of speaking about justification, seeing as how Gaffin merely says it’s an “impression” he’s received?

    Can you substantiate that with several, or at least a few, quotes from Reformed theologians describing justification as Gaffin did?

    I’ve never noticed a plethora of Reformed theologians describing imputation as an “isolated imputative act, remote from the believer and without a clear relationship to Christ and the other aspects of salvation.”

    To be fair, simply because I’ve not noticed it doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. OTOH I read enough Reformed theologians that if this is truly “common”, I’d expect to have stumbled across it at least occasionally.

  40. Todd said,

    January 1, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    Anne, Gaffin is reflecting on the phrase “alien righteousness.” Sounds familiar, right?

  41. Anne Ivy said,

    January 1, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    Yes, naturally I’m familiar with the phrase “alien righteousness.” It means a righteousness alien to us, as in not our own.

    Which is, of course, quite right. We are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, not our own.

    There. I’ve answered your question.

    Any chance of your answering mine in #39?

  42. Todd said,

    January 2, 2007 at 12:01 am

    You need some examples of Reformed writers using the phrase “alien righteousness” favorably? Really?

    I appreciate the “give him a taste of his own medicine,” but is this what you’re asking me for?

  43. Anne Ivy said,

    January 2, 2007 at 12:20 am

    I wasn’t aware there’s a problem with the phrase ‘alien righteousness.’

    Well, except for the Cathodox and such…they don’t like it.

    But Reformed people getting their knickers in a twist over it…?

    I’m not saying ‘alien righteousness’ isn’t common; what I’m asking is from whence is coming the part about imputation giving the impression, due to the way it’s described by Reformed theologians, of being an “isolated imputative act, remote from the believer and without a clear relationship to Christ and the other aspects of salvation.”

    This is really a common problem? Are there truly herds of Reformed theologians who tacitly imply that, which is why Gaffin’s apparently wanting to put the kibosh on the traditional Reformed concept of ‘alien righteousness??

    Unless there are, Gaffin’s criticism of the phrase ‘alien righteousness’ – based upon an “impression” he’s received – scarcely qualifies as “important”. If he’s the only one reading such a peculiar meaning into the term, it’d be a good deal more efficient to straighten out Gaffin rather than take the white-out to “alien righteousness.”

    The confusion was my fault, BTW. *I* knew what I meant, and didn’t grasp how poorly I’d worded my post. Sorry about that!

  44. Todd said,

    January 2, 2007 at 8:22 am

    I wasn’t aware there’s a problem with the phrase ‘alien righteousness.’
    But Reformed people getting their knickers in a twist over it…?”

    There’s no twist, and no knickers, but Gaffin believes that there is a “definite liability” for the phrase. That’s all. He believes it’s dangerous to sound as if someone can “get” imputed righteouness apart from union with the resurrected Christ, as if Christ and his benefits were “separable.”

    He believes the best way to guard against this liability is to ground imputation in union with Christ. Not that imputation is redundant, of course, but that justification has “no discrete structure of its own.” Here’s the important paragraph:

    “At the same time, however, various considerations already adduced point to the conclusion that Paul does not view the justification of the sinner (the imputation of Christ’s righteousness) as an act having a discrete structure of its own. Rather, as with Christ’s resurrection, the act of being raised with Christ in its constitutive, transforming character is at the same time judicially declarative; that is, the act of being joined to Christ is conceived of imputatively. In this sense the enlivening action of resurrection (incorporation) is itself a forensically constitutive declaration. This does not at all mean that Paul qualifies the synthetic character of the justification of the ungodly. The justifying aspect of being raised with Christ does not rest on the believer’s subjective enlivening and transformation (also involved, to be sure, in the experience of being joined to Christ), but on the resurrection-approved righteousness of Christ which is his (and is thus reckoned his) by virtue of the vital union established. If anything, this outlook which makes justification exponential of existential union with the resurrected Christ serves to keep clear what preoccupation with the idea of imputation can easily obscure, namely, that the justification of the ungodly is not arbitrary but according to truth: it is synthetic with respect to the believer only because it is analytic with respect to Christ (as resurrected). Not justification by faith but union with the resurrected Christ by faith (of which union, to be sure, the justifying aspect stands out perhaps the most prominently) is the central motif of Paul’s applied soteriology.” (Resurrection and Redemption)

  45. Anne Ivy said,

    January 2, 2007 at 9:32 am

    If all he were suggesting is a tweaking of phraseology, akin to those who urge replacing ‘limited atonement’ with ‘particular redemption’ or ‘definite atonement’, I don’t suppose that’d get those nonexistent knickers in a twist, though.

    Certainly no one gets hairy-scary when ‘particular redemption’ is subbed for ‘limited atonement.’

    That’s not what Gafffin’s doing, though, is it? Though to be frank, he has (my apologies, Mr. Gaffin) such a “Look, Ma! I’m writing!” style it’s sort of hard to figure out what he’s talking about; I mean, “justification exponential of existential union”? Mercy Maud, it’s clear that ‘ready comprehension by the reader’ is not one of his primary objectives when he writes. And while I willingly score points for his spelling ‘discrete’ correctly (astonishing how frequently it’s spelled as ‘discreet’, with hilarious result), lots of people don’t know what it means.

    Sloppy’s one thing; being deliberately obscure is something else again.

    But I digress.

    Personally I fail to see how our justification being ‘synthetic’ is any great improvement over it being ‘alien.’ Plus, the substitution he’s presumably offering, that of ‘union with the resurrected Christ by faith’, is too vague to be of any significant value, seeing as how Luther’s opponents would have signed off on it without any hesitation at all.

  46. Todd said,

    January 2, 2007 at 9:53 am

    “Mercy Maud, it’s clear that ‘ready comprehension by the reader’ is not one of his primary objectives when he writes.”

    Right. Doctoral dissertation. You should read it, Anne:

    Ferguson’s treatment of ordo salutis in this book is influenced by Gaffin:

    “Plus, the substitution he’s presumably offering, that of ‘union with the resurrected Christ by faith’, is too vague to be of any significant value, seeing as how Luther’s opponents would have signed off on it without any hesitation at all.”

    Well, this is a fun irony. We’ve come full circle from Lane’s original complaint about Lusk, but Anne is pinning it on Lusk’s inspiration.

    Gaffin’s latest treatment of ordo is important, too:

  47. pduggie said,

    January 2, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    “I’m not saying ‘alien righteousness’ isn’t common; what I’m asking is from whence is coming the part about imputation giving the impression, due to the way it’s described by Reformed theologians, of being an “isolated imputative act, remote from the believer and without a clear relationship to Christ and the other aspects of salvation.””

    I’m thinking of dozens of sermons that use bookeeping metaphors for how we get right with God. And make it the most important thing to know, instead of, as in Paul’s use “unique and brief sidelight”

  48. pduggie said,

    January 2, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Maybe union with Christ is a romish doctrine and also a reformed one, but that rome is illicitly drawing on it in a way that mandates infusion, and that Lusk would say they have no grounds for such a move.

    If only the RC church would fully draw out the meaning of union, they would see its primarily and crucially forensic character in Justrification. Lusk seems to have been sufficiently clear on the forensic nature of Union in justifcation, which makes him adequately distinct from Rome.

  49. Todd said,

    January 2, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Right. And there’s plenty in the Gaffin paragraph that keeps him Protestant.

  50. Anne Ivy said,

    January 2, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    I didn’t say he’s not Protestant, for pity’s sake. You’re quite right, there’s heaps in the quoted bits with which to agree.

    But to even suggest ditching “alien righteousness” and replacing it with “union with the resurrected Christ by faith” is folly. As, um, Duggie?..noted, “[i]f only the RC church would fully draw out the meaning of union, etc.”

    They haven’t done it in how many centuries, so there’s no particularly good reason to think they’re suddenly going to start. The RC “union with Christ” is so different from the Protestant “union with Christ”, the term is useless as a distinctive for either viewpoint, really.

    This being so, the prudent course of action is to stick with “alien righteousness” and its synonyms.

    As my mother’s fond of saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. ;^)

  51. pduggie said,

    January 2, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    Some people are actually interested in apologetics and interaction towards the RCs. Sometimes it helps to actually emphsize what you have in common with those you differ from (see Acts 17).

    An unremarked aspect of the FV is actually an interest in greater catholicity (small-c). Not every difference has to be amplified up to 11. Hopefully it can affect your theology positively, though there are risks.

  52. Anne Ivy said,

    January 2, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    Some people are actually interested in apologetics and interaction towards the RCs.

    True. And baffling it is, too.

    Actually, I can see me doing so, since my eldest daughter and her husband and three children are all devout RC’s, but why anyone else would, beats me. Are they totally unfamiliar with the old saying, “Play with fire and you get burned?”

    There’s a lot of truth in that.

    I’m just glad to have the RCC in my rear view mirror, having no interest in getting cozy with it any more.

    People don’t realize how seductive the RCC is, poor things. I fear we’re going to start seeing some erstwhile Protestants swimming the Tiber over the next couple of years.

  53. greenbaggins said,

    January 3, 2007 at 11:42 am

    The original Gaffin quote, it should be noted, does not mean that Gaffin repudiated the doctrine of “alien righteousness.” What Gaffin said was only by way of qualifying what that means. I think we need to realize this. Gaffin is only saying that imputation in justification must be understood in connection with union with Christ. He is not saying that he repudiates what “alien righteousness” was originally meant to affirm. Hardly that. I know Gaffin very well. He would not repudiate that it is Another’s righteousness that we have imputed to us in justification. He would affirm that. He just does not want the phrase “alien righteousness” to sound like we’re trying to divorce justification from union with Christ. That is all he’s saying, in my opinion.

  54. Anne Ivy said,

    January 3, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Which leads right back to the question, is this a significant problem? Reformed theologians divorcing justification from union with Christ?

    I’ve not run across it, but then I don’t read every Reformed theologian that’s available, so mayhap it’s a problem of which I’m simply unaware.

  55. Todd said,

    January 3, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Anne, in your view, which Reformed theologians emphasize the connection well?

  56. greenbaggins said,

    January 3, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Gaffin is directing his target against certain Reformed theologians who argue for a certain view of “golden chain” ordo salutis. These theologians say that every single blessing that we receive comes in a certain order. William Perkins is an example of this. In fact, his drawing is amazingly elaborate and complicated. Gaffin advocates viewing union with Christ as the “hub” of the wheel, with every blessing that we have in Christ connected to union with Christ. As such, they all have “already” aspects, and also “not yet” aspects.

  57. Anne Ivy said,

    January 3, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    [apologetically] As I said, I don’t read all the available theologians, and haven’t read Perkins (though I’ve heard of him). If he’s dreamed up some elaborate and complicated schematic regarding the ordo salutis, I’ll probably give him a miss.

    Todd, just the usual ones that amateurs like me tend to favor…Sproul (father and son), MacArthur, Wilson, Piper, Bridges, etc. No-one especially esoteric or cutting-edge (with the possible exception of Wilson).

    Now, that’s books, and doesn’t include those theologians already gone to glory. When it comes to online articles, I read all sorts of people.

  58. pduggie said,

    January 3, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Look, a chart

  59. greenbaggins said,

    January 3, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Paul, I cannot seem to get the link to work.
    Any suggestions?

  60. pduggie said,

    January 3, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Try this (looks like the quote got messed up in translation)

  61. January 3, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Your smart quotes are the trouble, Click the “william perkins” link above…

  62. January 3, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    argh. I give up. change the ‘ to a single quote like the one on your keyboard.

    or the %E2%80%99s stuff…

  63. May 21, 2007 at 10:32 am

    [...] On point 24 (which overlaps a bit with point 23), to deal with the difference between NECM and ECM takes more than Meyers’s say-so on this. He asserts that there is a difference between NECM and ECM. He asserts that the difference is perseverance, and that perseverance qualitatively modifies one’s participation in the ordo salutis (quoting the full context of the Lusk statement). Here’s the problem: the Lusk statement still assumes that NECM’s participate in the ordo salutis! This is precisely the point. The Reformed position is that only the decretally elect participate in any whatsoever in the ordo salutis. This is crystal clear from many places in the WS. Just a few are listed here: WCF 3.6, 15.1-4, WLC 65-77. The difference is NOT that the ECM perseveres and participates in the ordo salutis fully and completely, while the NECM does not persevere, and thus only participates in a partial way in the ordo salutis, as Lusk implies. The difference is that the ECM participates in the ordo salutis, while the NECM does not. This gets at the fundamental problem of the FV: ordo salutis benefits are being ascribed to the NECM. And this is the fundamental difference between the NECM and the ECM. One has the ordo, and the other does not. The Lusk quotation only proves the Report’s point. By saying that perseverance is the qualifying difference, Lusk (and Meyers) allow the possibility that justification comes to the NECM. This breaks the categorical equality of the ordo salutis benefits described in Romans 8, where all the justified are glorified (plainly implying perseverance). Again, the question is not whether Lusk affirms at some point that there is a qualitative difference. The point is that the rest of Lusk’s theology vitiates such a claim. It is methodological double-speak. [...]


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