By Faith Alone, part 9

This is an article by R. Fowler White and E. Calvin Beisner, entitled “Covenant, Inheritance, and Typology,” subtitled “Understanding the Principles at Work in God’s Covenants.” I wonder if “principles at work” is a pun intended or not. That is an interesting question. This is one of the harder articles to read, but correspondingly more rewarding when the effort is expended.

Their thesis is that FV and NPP have denied sola fide by either affirming the doctrine but redefining the terms, or by using traditional terms in non-traditional ways. Their area of critique is the doctrine of the covenants. They start by pointing out that a “redefinition of the doctrine of God’s covenants inevitably brings reformulation of the doctrine of justification” (pg. 148). The rest of the article proves this point. They proceed first by a fresh exposition (read “conservative, Reformed, historical” here!) of the doctrine of the covenants. They argue that “two contrasting but compatible principles of inheritance- namely, personal merit (i.e., merit grounded in the heir’s own works) and representative merit (i.e., merit grounded in another works)- are at work in each of these covenants and that these principles of inheritance have existed side-by-side through all of history (pre-fall and post-fall) until Christ, with the former always subserving the latter” (pp. 148-149). It should be noted here tha the “compatible” aspect, according to White/Beisner, means not that the two are identical, but that the Mosaic economy and the New Covenant have aspects of continuity and discontinuity (works and grace both). If you still have questions about what they mean, just hold on, and it will become clear. A very important footnote (note 2 on pg. 149) deals with the question of the validity of merit as a biblical category. Not only do they explain Calvin’s “repudiation” of merit, but they thoroughly trounce Lusks’ objections by noting Calvin’s acceptance of the category with regard to Christ’s work.

The first covenant in priority is the covenant of redemption. In theology, this refers to a supra-historical pact made between the Father and the Son, whereby Christ’s own inheritance was promised to Him on the basis of His personal merit, whereas the people of God’s inheritance was promised to them (in Christ) by the representative principle of inheritance (pp. 149-150). The most amazing insight of the entire paper (in my judgment) is in footnote 4 on pg. 150: “That the principle of inheritance by personal merit (meritorious works) originates not in the covenant of works but in the covenant of redemption refutes the objection that it is improper to posit merit on the part of the creature toward the Creator.” This is pure brilliance, and in one stroke, takes the rug out from under the entire FV’s objection to merit in the CoW. The entire (lengthy) footnote is brilliant: read it!

They move on then to the CoW. White/Beisner distinguish between the commission given to Adam in 2:15 and the commandments given in 2:16-17. The latter are the works principle, and are completely bilateral in fulfillment. The commission, however, was not part of that: it was unilateral and inviolable (see pg. 152 for the argumentation of this). They argue (footnote 11 on pg. 152) that the function of Gen 2:16-17 is the same as the commandments given on Mt. Sinai: “words morally obligating but not effectuating their fulfillment.” One question I would have is this: in what way do they not effectuate the fulfillment of the CoW? Is this lapsing into a gracious fulfillment of the CoW?

Then, they address the CoG. The two principles are still at work even here: personal merit-Christ; and representative merit-Christ to us: “His appointment as mediator in the covenant of grace is the reward for his obedience to the stipulations of the covenant of redemption” (pg. 153). In passing, (another footnote: why are most of their best thoughts in the footnotes?) they notice that “in a crucial sense, the blessings to the elect include the curses on the reprobate” (note 14 on pg. 153). The way they describe the CoG is in this way: “The covenant of grace is the historical context for the outworking of the suprahistorical covenant of redemption” (pg. 154).

Having exposited the covenants, they move on to the two seeds of Adam and Christ, related to the two principles of inheritance: “For both Adam’s seed and Christ’s seed, the inheritance of eternal life is conditioned on the obedience of their representative and is, therefore, procured vicariously for the seed by the meritorious works of another” (pp. 154-155). They sum up their account of the CoG with this remarkably helpful statement: “Accordingly, in the covenant of grace there is a triple imputation: God imputes christ’s righteousness in fulfilling the covenant of works (his active obedience) to the elect; he imputes the guilt of the elect (because of their breaking of the covenant of works) to Christ in his suffering (his passive obedience); and he imputes the penal satisfaction of his justice by Christ to the elect” (pg. 155). Actually, I might have liked to see them work in the covenant of redemption to this summary, but one cannot have everything.

What follows is a discussion of analogies to this covenantal structure in the covenant to Noah (a common grace covenant), the relation of the Mosaic Covenant to the Abrahamic Covenant, the relation of the MC to the NC, the relation of the MC to the CoW, and the conclusion. I am trying to tell everything about the article. These last sections (which form the rest of the article) are also excellent. But you should read it for yourself. The point of this review, after all, is to get you to buy the book, which you should.

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152 Comments

  1. Stewart said,

    February 23, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    “The first covenant in priority is the covenant of redemption. In theology, this refers to a supra-historical pact made between the Father and the Son, whereby Christ’s own inheritance was promised to Him on the basis of His personal merit, whereas the people of God’s inheritance was promised to them (in Christ) by the representative principle of inheritance (pp. 149-150).”

    The problem with this is that it fails to distinguish the difference between “inheritance” and “paycheck.” They’re different things. The paycheck I collect each month is not my monthly “inheritance.” Likewise, when my father dies, I won’t be collecting my “paycheck” from him for as mere payment for all those times I perfectly took out the garbage and cleaned my room. I’m his son, not his employee. The inheritance is promised to me as long as I am faithful to to him and don’t get disowned. There are conditions to be sure, but the conditions do not make it meritorious.

  2. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    But you, in turn, are making the mistake of assuming that because someone is an heir, that therefore they cannot possibly earn anything. Do you have children, Stewart? Do you ever promise to give them something if they earn it? I see no problem with this whatsoever.

  3. David McCrory said,

    February 23, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Lane pardon my repetition, but it seems R. Fowler White and E. Calvin Beisner are taking a lot more ink to say what I said previously; that the denial for active obediance on the part of Adam (in a CoW) will necessarily lead to a denial for the need of a second work of righteouness on the part of Christ (imputed by the CoG). In short, the lack of a need for imputed righteouness implies the lack of an imputed sin (Original Sin). Thus my question about Pelagianism. What am I missing?

  4. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    I think they’re saying a lot more, given their exposition of the covenant of redemption, which I don’t remember your mentioning. Certainly you and they are in agreement about the nature of the relationship between the CoW and the CoG.

  5. Fowler White said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Lane, thanks for the blurbs on the book and on the White/Beisner essay. A quick correction to your comments about the White/Beisner essay: you mention that we discuss the covenant to Noah and parenthetically identify it as a common grace covenant. Actually, the covenant with Noah that we focus on is not the common grace covenant in Gen 9:8ff. but the covenant of deliverance made with Noah in Gen 6:18-21. A justification for the distinction appears in the essay (in the footnotes!). Thanks.

  6. Stewart said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Lane, it doesn’t matter that you don’t see a problem with it. The question is whether or not an “allowance money” analogy is an accurate representation of what was going on in the garden prior to the fall. It is not, and it’s simply ridiculous to assert that it is.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Oops, my bad. That’s what happens when I re-read a little too quickly! I stand corrected.

  8. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    It is, and it is simply ridiculous, Stewart, to assert that merit according to pact is not an accurate representation of the CoW. Beware of whom you are calling ridiculous. Apparently, you have still not read the merit in the Reformed fathers post.

  9. David McCrory said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    The Confession asserts that God required “perfect” and “personal” obediance from Adam. If Adam had kept the CoW, don’t Reformed theologians affirm Adam’s confirmation in the first covenant would have been imputed to his progeny? If so, and since he didn’t, doesn’t this necessitate the imputation of perfect and personal obediance through Christ? The Second Adam? How to FV’ers address this?

  10. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Dr. White, did you intend the pun in the title? Thanks very much for commenting, by the way.

  11. pdugi said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    “This is pure brilliance, and in one stroke, takes the rug out from under the entire FV’s objection to merit in the CoW. ”

    Yeah, it makes alot more sense to say that God the Son earns divine brownie points by working for God the Father.

  12. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Pure rhetoric and no substance, Paul.

  13. pdugi said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    triple imputation? All along I thought the Reformed spoke of double imputation. Seems made up ad hoc.

    “he imputes the guilt of the elect (because of their breaking of the covenant of works) to Christ in his suffering (his passive obedience);”

    Find this for me in the WCF please.

  14. Fowler White said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    No pun intended.

  15. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Paul, this is simply another way of saying that our sins are laid on Christ. What’s the problem?

  16. Stewart said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Lane, again you fail to address the criticism. Birthright/inheritance is different from paycheck/allowance money. Adam was created in a covenant relationship with the Father. The Father’s love for Adam was not dependent on earned merits. Do you see any difference between birthright/inheritance and paycheck/allowance money?

  17. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Do you see a bifurcation, never-the-two-do-meet absolute split between the two? I understood absolutely perfectly what you were saying. One more comment that implies that I’m a moron, and you will be censored, Stewart.

  18. Fowler White said,

    February 23, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Paul, you ask a fair question about the expression “triple imputation.” In the essay, we footnoted (!) those words and said, ” It is customary to speak of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, subsuming under this rubric the imputation of both His active and His passive obedience. Here, because some deny the imputation of His active obedience and only affirm the imputation of His passive obedience, we distinguish the two explicitly.” So, in a sense, you’re right: it’s an ad hoc expression that we believe is necessary given the current debate.

  19. David McCrory said,

    February 23, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Lane or Dr. Fowler, don’t Reformed theologians affirm Adam’s confirmation in the first covenant would have been imputed to his progeny had he been confirmed in it? How is Christ’s active obedience denied if in fact He fulfills this covenant in place of Adam?

  20. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Yes, and White/Beisner make this very point on page 151: “There was the pirnciple of representative merit according to which the reward of everlasting life would be rendered to Adam’s posterity as vicariously merited for them be Adam’s obedience and unilaterally imputed to them, or the punishment of everlasting death would be rendered to Adam’s posterity as vicariously and unconditionally merited for them by Adam’s disobedience and unilaterally imputed to them.”

    Christ’s active obedience is far from denied, but rather affirmed if He fulfills the CoW in place of Adam. Not quite sure what you’re driving at here.

  21. Craig Phelps said,

    February 23, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Paul and Stewart, for a different take than Kline gives, yet that maintains the works oriented and law dominated relationship between God and Adam that is so necessary for biblical orthodoxy and reformed theology, you really should read “The Covenant of Creation With Adam”: http://www.prca.org/prtj/nov2006.pdf
    Lane rightly maintains that Christ earned God’s favor for us. All the reformed confessions speak of the real merits of Christ for His beloved. How could anyone that claims to be reformed openly scoff at the merits of the life and the lawkeeping and the death and the resurrection of Christ?

  22. Stewart said,

    February 23, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    “The first covenant in priority is the covenant of redemption. In theology, this refers to a supra-historical pact made between the Father and the Son, whereby Christ’s own inheritance was promised to Him on the basis of His personal merit, whereas the people of God’s inheritance was promised to them (in Christ) by the representative principle of inheritance (pp. 149-150).”

    Lane, no insult was intended. It was a legitimate question. In the above quote, the two appear to be conflated. I’m just asking how you get the “merit” aspect from the text of Genesis. I’m not the only one who sees the concept of an “earned inheritance” as a problem. If it is earned, it ceases to be an “inheritance” bestowed by a loving Father. It becomes “payment.” The analogy switches form father/son to employer/ employee.

    “Bifurcation” might be possible, but this needs to be proven exegetically. Where in the text do we see this “bifurcation?” This seems to be a concept that is brought to the text, not derived from it. Could you elaborate on exactly where this bifurcation occurs? I just don’t see it.

  23. David McCrory said,

    February 23, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    The FV desire to deny the need for an imputed righteousness, implies a denial of an imputed sin. If God would have imputed the righeousness of Adam to his posterity, how can the FV men deny that it isn’t the perogative of God to impute the righteousness (the active obedience) of the Second Adam to His?

    The denial of imputed righteousness implies a denial of imputed sin. Adam’s imputed sin is our Original Sin state. Ergo, FV must be denying Original Sin.

  24. David McCrory said,

    February 23, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    It seems FVT fails to do justice to the analogy of federal headship (ironic, eh?). If Adam’s sin isn’t imputed to us, and therefore we have no need for an imputed righteousness to displace this sin, the only sin in the life of a person is actual sin, not original sin. This is pure Pelagianism. Likewise it’s a wholesale rejection of total depravity and, as a result, a whole host of other reformed doctrines. Am I way off base here?

  25. Stewart said,

    February 23, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    David said, “The FV desire to deny the need for an imputed righteousness, implies a denial of an imputed sin. If God would have imputed the righeousness of Adam to his posterity, how can the FV men deny that it isn’t the perogative of God to impute the righteousness (the active obedience) of the Second Adam to His?”

    David, which men do you have in mind here? Can you be specific? The FV men that I know want no such thing.

  26. David McCrory said,

    February 23, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Stewart, I’m thinking of Lane’s last post (BFA Part 8),

    “Gundry (not a FV or NPP proponent) denies that Christ’s active obedience was imputed to the believer… He notes that the denial of the active obedience of Christ in justification is common to both the NPP and the FV (127).”

    And in the next paragraph,

    “The first major section deals with the Reformed tradition in the light of critiques. Shepherd, for instance, denies that Christ’s active obedience plays any part in justification (see page 128 and footnotes for quotations and sources in Shepherd’s theology)”

    So that at the least I’d suggest Sheperd does, unless I’m missing something pretty big.

  27. David McCrory said,

    February 23, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    …and in Bird’s paper I read yesterday, it seems to suggest Wright might very well fall into this category.

  28. Todd said,

    February 23, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    “The FV desire to deny the need for an imputed righteousness, implies a denial of an imputed sin.”

    “If Adam’s sin isn’t imputed to us, and therefore we have no need for an imputed righteousness to displace this sin, the only sin in the life of a person is actual sin, not original sin.”

    David, why not back up claims and reasoning like this with actual quotations from FV writers? The way you’re attempting to portray them bears almost no resemblance to the way they actually write and argue.

  29. Todd said,

    February 23, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    Another way to say it, David, is to say that the FVers’ interests are much more specifically exegetical than your recent questions reflect. They’re not getting all the answers right, but they are asking about the specific teaching of specific biblical texts much, much more often than they’re asking the abstract kinds of questions you are, questions without any biblical texts in view at all.

  30. Todd said,

    February 23, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    And neither Gundry nor Shepherd nor Wright are FVers.

  31. Todd said,

    February 23, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    “they thoroughly trounce Lusks’ objections”

    Tigger polemics.

  32. David McCrory said,

    February 23, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Here is a quote attributed to Lusk from The Trinity Review, June 2005,

    “This justification [because it come by union with Christ, as Gaffin says; J.R.] requires no transfer or imputation of anything. It does not force us to reify “righteousness” into something that can be shuffled around in heavenly accounting books. Rather, because I am in the Righteous One and the Vindicated One, I am righteous and vindicated. My in-Christ-ness makes imputation redundant…there is no imputation”.

    I am trusting it is really Lusk’s words at this point. I am simply extrapolating the conseqences of this type of statement. In other words, the reasoning is mine. Todd, you know Fver’s closely identify w/ both Sheperd and Wright.

    Anywho, “This justification requires no transfer or imputation of anything.” appears to be Lusk’s words.

    The purpose for my questions are to examine to results of their thinking. If they deny this, then this must be true, etc.

    If Lusk denies the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (which the quote clearly states he does), then he denies the need for said imputation for salvation. This isn’t rocket science.

    If he denies the reality of an imputed righteoueness, then why should he affirm the notion Adam’s posterity would have been confirmed by an imputed righeouesness had Adam persevered?

    If Adam’s righteouesness wan’t to be imputed (according to this line of reasoning), then what reason do we have to believe his sin (Original Sin) was?

    If Adam’s sin wasn’t carried over to his posterity, then Pelagius was right. If Pelagius was right, then I suppose we can say Lusk is right as well; and everyone in the Reformation was dead wrong.

    There’s the consequences I find for the denial of Christ’s imputation, as in Lusk’s quote. If you disagree with me, please prove me wrong.

    Todd, do you deny the FV’ers reject the doctrine of imputation? If so, show me where they deny it. Or where they (or one of them) affirm it in it’s historical reformed sense.

  33. Todd said,

    February 23, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    “If they deny this, then this must be true, etc.”

    But this just isn’t the way to do theology. It’s not the way the biblical writers themselves do theology. Your whole line of questioning can be done without a Bible in the room, and that’s just not Reformed! Open your Bible, man, and see whether Lusk or Robbins is more accurately representing the way the NT authors actually write.

    “If Lusk denies the imputation of Christ’s righteousness”

    Too many undefined terms here, David. How sure are you that you understand just what Lusk affirms and denies? Have you read any whole essays by Lusk, or just the quotations that Robbins is hoping will be most shocking? Have you read the essay in which the lines you’re thinking about are found?

    Let me know if you need help finding specific essays. You don’t have to agree, but you can’t let yourself pretend that you’re thinking seriously about these things without reading the “primary sources.”

  34. Todd said,

    February 23, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    “why should he affirm the notion Adam’s posterity would have been confirmed by an imputed righeouesness had Adam persevered?”

    David, just who *does* affirm that Adam’s *righteousness* would have been *imputed* to his posterity? If Adam hadn’t sinned, would his posterity need an imputed righteousness?

    This seems really confused to me, but perhaps you’re reflecting the thoughts of a Reformed author that I haven’t read. If so, please enlighten me.

  35. David McCrory said,

    February 24, 2007 at 12:21 am

    Your right about something. If we don’t agree on what terms mean, how they are defined, then very little effective dialouge can take place. I’m working under the assumption the people here know and understand some of the fundamentals (like what “imputation” and “righteousness” mean). There is no need to reinvent the wheel every time you put pen to paper. Yet I understand this controversy is about how we define terms, so in a sense, it would seem some are trying to redefine Reformed Theology.

    Todd said, “David, just who *does* affirm that Adam’s *righteousness* would have been *imputed* to his posterity?”

    Lane quotes White/Beisner saying this: “There was the principle of representative merit according to which the reward of everlasting life would be rendered to Adam’s posterity as vicariously merited for them be Adam’s obedience and unilaterally imputed to them, or the punishment of everlasting death would be rendered to Adam’s posterity as vicariously and unconditionally merited for them by Adam’s disobedience and unilaterally imputed to them.”

    Do you agree with that statement?

    This is why I say, if we deny the imputational aspects of the first Adam, it would seem logical (God is logical isn’t He?) that we have to deny it for the Second Adam. Is that concept really that far from Scripture or out of line with Reformed thought? Also, would you please answer my question. I’ll ask it again.

    Do you deny the FV’ers reject the doctrine of imputation? If so, show me where they deny it. Or where they (or one of them) affirm it in it’s historical reformed sense.

  36. David McCrory said,

    February 24, 2007 at 12:50 am

    One other thing…Todd says, “you can’t let yourself pretend that you’re thinking seriously about these things without reading the “primary sources.”

    ~ I agree with this. I am not an expert on this. I haven’t researched the way I would if I wanted to speak authoritatively about it. Yet, I am thinking seriously about it, but from a distance, in the sense I’m reading some source stuff, but others things as well, like Robbins, here, other websites and a few books. I’m really at a point to either dig in, or bail out. I’m wondering if it is really worth the effort to start reading all the source material.

    Mostly, I’m asking questions. I know what I believe. I’m looking into what others have to say.

  37. February 24, 2007 at 1:01 am

    Without the imputed righteousness and obedience of Christ, both active and passive, we would all still be dead in our sins.

  38. February 24, 2007 at 6:48 am

    As a ‘ Amber Ale’ and not a ‘Stout’ from the FV brewery, would you admit Doug that there is some small validity in the observation made by the critics of the FV that some of your number do in fact repudiate not only the language used to describe the Covenant of Works but the existence of any such covenant with Adam as well as the need for the catagory of the imputation of Christ’s righteouness? Futhermore would you acknowledge that , atleast along these lines, the pronounced influence of Norman Shepherd on these advocates of the FV?

  39. Todd said,

    February 24, 2007 at 8:01 am

    “Do you deny the FV’ers reject the doctrine of imputation? If so, show me where they deny it. Or where they (or one of them) affirm it in it’s historical reformed sense.”

    It looks as though Wilson has provided the affirmation you’re asking about. Do you accept it?

  40. Todd said,

    February 24, 2007 at 8:09 am

    David, are White and Beisner saying that, if Adam had never sinned, we his descendants would be right with God because of the *imputed* righteousness of Adam? If so, I’m wondering how much precendent this kind of thing has in our tradition.

    If Adam hadn’t sinned, wouldn’t we all possess an inherent righteousness?

  41. Todd said,

    February 24, 2007 at 8:25 am

    David, here’s Mark Horne’s attempt to affirm the historical doctrine of justification and imputation:

    http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/credo_on_justification.htm

  42. greenbaggins said,

    February 24, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Craig Phelps and Douglas Wilson, welcome to my blog.

    Stewart, what I’m referring to is merit by pact (this is explored by several writers in _By Faith Alone_). The filial relationship does not have to exclude in any way merit by pact. God the Father says to His human son Adam, “If you obey during the time of probation, then you will enter into the eschatological state; you and all your offspring. This is your inheritance: I want to prove you so that you are worthy to inherit. Therefore, I lay before you this test…” Is this not sufficient to prove that a filial relationship that means inheritance also means merit by pact? Why is the combination of the two impossible, as you seem to think? You have too rigid and narrow an idea of inheritance (vis. that a person can in no way work to get an inheritance) that is too much influenced by modern thinking about inheritance. If you shed that, then you can come to the above position.

  43. Craig Phelps said,

    February 24, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Glad you have room for a “stout ale” Protestant Reformed and The Wilson of the fv here at Bag End.

  44. February 24, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Gary, as an “Amber Ale,” I have no problem saying that some within the FV movement have expressed themselves in ways that raise reasonable questions and possible criticisms. I think that there is plenty of room for discussion, which some of us within the FV movement have even had, some of it publicly. But there is no reason for the shrill accusations of heresy, especially from critics who won’t acknowledge the clear and unambiguous expressions of Reformed orthodoxy coming from leading FV spokesmen.

  45. Cal Beisner said,

    February 24, 2007 at 11:48 am

    To #37: Very good, Doug. This entails, of course, that Norman Shepherd, who denies the imputation of the active obedience of Christ to the sinner, teaches a “gospel” that would leave us all “dead in our sins.”

    To #44: Pish-posh, Doug. When A affirms proposition X in one place and proposition Y in another, but Y entails the falsehood of X, A’s affirmations are no longer “clear and unambiguous”–they are at best muddy and ambiguous, at worst outright self-contradictory.

  46. greenbaggins said,

    February 24, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Doug, I have a question for you, and let’s put it in the hypothetical for now: let’s suppose someone is saying “I’m clean, I’m clean, I’m clean.” They repeat it many times. They ask many other people to repeat the same mantra about them. However, if you look at them, you can see that their face is dirty. What kind of credibility does the claim then have? The issue, as it seems to me is *not* whether FV proponents have claimed to be orthodox. They do that all over the place, repeatedly, ad nauseum, superfluously, and, in all other respects, tautologically. However, it is the critics’ claim that the *rest* of their theology does not match up with the claim. Now, let’s suppose (for a minute) that the critics are correct in their assessment. Is it not a possibility that FV proponents’ claims to be orthodox are contradicted by their theology? Is it not true that many, many people in the history of the church have claimed up one side and down the other to be orthodox, but in fact are not? Leaving aside the question (for the moment) of whether FV proponents are in fact heretics, is it not the case that every heretic in the history of the church has claimed to be orthodox? That they have the truth? I don’t know why this consideration has not been a factor, when FV proponents say, “Why don’t you believe our claims to be orthodox?” Considering the claims, therefore, will not get us anywhere as to the truth of the matter. We must consider the doctrine itself. So, I have a suggestion: let the FV proponents stop berating the critics for not believing their claims to be orthodox. The critics (most of them) have not come to some kind of snap judgment about these things. It is not as if the critics do not understand plain English or theology. The proving of heresy or orthodoxy must rely on the doctrine alone, and not on the claims. Wouldn’t you agree, Doug?

  47. greenbaggins said,

    February 24, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Dr. Beisner, welcome to my blog.

  48. February 24, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Greenbaggins, yes, I agree. But my point is not that I claim to be “orthodox” despite the critics showing that I deny specific points of orthodoxy in multiple places. Rather, the situation is like this: my critics say I deny the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. And I reply by affirming the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. I am not wearing the label of generic orthodoxy. I am affirming the specific doctrines that FV critics (in print) claim that I deny. More to follow.

  49. greenbaggins said,

    February 24, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Actually, Doug, I was referring more to other FV proponents than to yourself. I’m not sure that I would say that you deny imputation, for instance. Beisner seemed to take your statement at its value as well, though drawing a logical conclusion from that that I’m not sure you would. Rick Phillips did not say that you denied imputation, either. I would disagree with your assessment of the definition of the church, probably (though I haven’t read your book _Mother Kirk_). However, I am not ready to say that you are off on justification. Maybe you are too eager to defend Wilkins, Lusk, and Shepherd, who are off on justification.

  50. February 24, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Cal, on #37. I agree with Machen’s dying words that there is no hope without the active obedience of Christ. But this is not equivalent to saying there is no hope for those who formulate inadequately or incorrectly. I am saved by Christ’sobedience, not mine, and by His understanding of what He was doing, not my understanding of what He was doing. This means I can get a C minus on the imputation section of the justification test and still go to heaven. This is because the doctrine of imputed righteousness is true. I don’t make it true — it makes me true.

  51. February 24, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Cal, on #44, since my muddy ambiguity is clear to you at any rate, how about an example of two contradictory propositions from my writing?

  52. February 24, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Greenbaggins, the distinctions you are (reluctantly) making are not made in Guy Waters’ book, or in Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry. The leading critics of FV have thus far not distinguished themselves. We will see what happens in the new Crossway book. I say that you are reluctantly allowing something because you say “I’m not sure that I would say that you deny imputation.” What do I have to do? If I took every instance where I had affirmed the imputation of the active obedience of Christ, stacked them all up, and set them on fire, it would make quite a nice little blaze.

  53. greenbaggins said,

    February 24, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    I say “I’m not sure” not because I am unwilling to say that you are orthodox on justification, but because I have not read enough of your work to be absolutely sure one way or the other, although I am leaning toward saying that you are more on the orthodox side than not on justification. However, what would bother me is saying that others who do not have an orthodox view of justification are orthodox: that would bother me a lot. This is the central issue of the Reformation, and we cannot budge one iota on the truth and remain orthodox. There is no need to defend yourself quite so vociferously against my statements on this blog.

  54. Steven W said,

    February 24, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    I hope someone has mentioned that the point is not so much “imputation,” which Lusk will (reluctantly) affirm, but rather the ground of the justification – in other words what exactly does the accomplishment.

    To say that an FVer who denies that Christ’s active obedience is imputed to the indidual and serves as his ground is leaving us “dead in our sins” is to miss the redemptive historical point that the life that brings us out of our sin-death is NOT the active obedience, but rather the resurrection life.

    The biblical picture, and Christ’s entire mission, is a descent into death, a victory over that death, and a resurrection.

    If someone says that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ serve as the ground of our justification, then it is near absurdity to simply respond to them that they are leaving us dead in our sins. It is to miss the point entirely.

    This is why many FVers have said that the critics are misunderstanding. “Misunderstanding” is more polite than to simply say that you miss the point every time you criticize. The ultimate fulfillment of the Adamic covenant was death. That’s what Christ did to fulfill it. If you have to find merit, the currency which Jesus uses is his blood. This is all my righteousness. To move us out of Adam and into the new creation, Jesus is resurrected. This is biblical theology, sure, but is also the historic view of the first 1000 years of the Church, at least.

  55. Craig Phelps said,

    February 24, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    How many fv disciples are willing to confess with me that I am justified by faith alone, faith without works, faith without love, faith without working by love? How many fv disciples are willing to confess with me that my faith is simply and only resting on and relying on and embracing the eternal Son of God in our flesh and His meritorious lawkeeping as my only righteousness before God? How may in the reformed and presbyterian world will teach and believe with Calvin that Paul spoke of “justification” before God and that James used the word “justification” to speak of men seeing and judging us to be righteous by our words and works and our love? Thus men will know that believers are Christians by their love? How many fv disciples are willing to fully reject with me that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, the doctrine of justification before God is our being “established” “in the world as His own righteous people”-1? How many fv disciples will reject with me in the fellowship of the truth that in a non justifying sense all those baptized are objectively forgiven by God?
    1RINE, Wilson, p. 175

  56. Todd said,

    February 24, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    “How many fv disciples are willing to confess with me that I am justified by faith alone, faith without works, faith without love, faith without working by love?”

    Justified by a faith that is without works? A faith that is without love? A faith that does not work through love? Or am I not understanding you?

  57. Craig Phelps said,

    February 24, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Yes. All rhetorical dancing aside, I believe so. Faith is only resting and relying on Jesus Christ and all His works as the believer’s only righteousness before God. The believer is not without works. The believer loves God and neighbor by faith. His profession of faith shows itself to be true by his works of love. By faith Abraham offered Isaac…
    or Like this:
    Article 22: Of Faith in Jesus Christ.
    We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides him. For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him. Therefore, for any to assert, that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides him, would be too gross a blasphemy: for hence it would follow, that Christ was but half a Savior. Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith without works. However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean, that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness. But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all his merits and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead, is our Righteousness. And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with him in all his benefits, which, when become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.
    Article 23: Of Justification.
    We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake, and that therein our righteousness before God is implied: as David and Paul teach us, declaring this to be the happiness of man, that God imputes righteousness to him without works. And the same apostle saith, that we are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. And therefore we always hold fast this foundation, ascribing all the glory to God, humbling ourselves before him, and acknowledging ourselves to be such as we really are, without presuming to trust in any thing in ourselves, or in any merit of ours, relying and resting upon the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours, when we believe in him. This is sufficient to cover our iniquities, and to give us confidence in approaching to God; freeing the conscience of fear, terror and dread, without following the example of our first father, Adam, who, trembling, attempted to cover himself with fig-leaves. And verily if we should appear before God, relying on ourselves, or on any other creature, though ever so little, we should, alas! be consumed. And therefore every one must pray with David: O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
    Article 24: Of man’s Sanctification and Good Works.
    We believe that this true faith being wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God, and the operation of the Holy Ghost, doth regenerate and make him a new man, causing him to live a new life, and freeing him from the bondage of sin. Therefore it is so far from being true, that this justifying faith makes men remiss in a pious and holy life, that on the contrary without it they would never do anything out of love to God, but only out of self-love or fear of damnation. Therefore it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man: for we do not speak of a vain faith, but of such a faith, which is called in Scripture, a faith that worketh by love, which excites man to the practice of those works, which God has commanded in his Word. Which works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by his grace: howbeit they are of no account towards our justification. For it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works; otherwise they could not be good works, any more than the fruit of a tree can be good, before the tree itself is good. Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them, (for what can they merit?) nay, we are beholden to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he that worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Let us therefore attend to what is written: when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do. In the meantime, we do not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and although we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them. Thus then we would always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Savior.”

    Notice, “which excites man to the practice of those works, which God has commanded in his Word.” Faith is not the working by love. Man does the works. Faith is the believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith excites MAN to love according to God’s word. The believer does the loving. Faith is only the believing on Christ and His merits as the believer’s only righteousness before God. We are justified by faith without working by love, by faith without works, by faith without holy inclinations to obey all the commandments of God, by faith alone. By faith that is alone embracing Jesus Christ as all my righteousness before God and that is never alone in the ONE who believes. If you wanna be reformed, then sola fide.

  58. David McCrory said,

    February 24, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Wow, I’m gone one day and the dam breaks loose!

    Todd says to me: “It looks as though Wilson has provided the affirmation you’re asking about. Do you accept it?

    I have always accepted Mr. Wilson’s public statements as both biblical and confessional. Likewise, I have also said I don’t think Mr. Wilson is the best example of FV, simply becuase he is so clearly on the conservative side.

    But it also appears I’m not alone in my concerns. And the other men have read the source material.

  59. Todd said,

    February 24, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    Craig, are you comfortable affirming that it is faith that works through love?

  60. Todd said,

    February 24, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    David, what about Mark Horne? Do you believe his credo?

    “And the other men have read the source material.”

    Yippee! Now we don’t have to!

  61. Josh said,

    February 24, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Spank!

  62. Craig Phelps said,

    February 24, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    I am comfortable saying that the proper understanding of Paul is to confess as a Christian that the BELIEVER loves by faith. The BELIEVER obeys by faith.
    “Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith without works. However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean, that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness.”
    Faith=” it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness”
    I know our works always have that appeal to the self-love of man. We must resist the glossy beauties. They are all airbrushed portals to hell. The sinner is justified before God by faith alone. The believing sinner works by love excited to obedience by that same faith. The BELIEVER believes. The BELIEVER loves. Faith is not works of love, nor properly does faith actually do the working. The MAN who has faith does the working by faith.

  63. Steven W said,

    February 25, 2007 at 12:33 am

    Well it looks like Craig just denied the gospel. Nice knowing ya bud.

  64. Steven W said,

    February 25, 2007 at 12:33 am

    That was irony BTW.

  65. February 25, 2007 at 1:09 am

    Craig, you say that faith is resting and relying. Okay. Can these verbs have adverbs? Do they rest and rely disobediently? Or do they rest and rely obediently? Or is there a third option, where the resting and relying are neither obedient nor disobedient, but rather like an inert substance to which nothing else adheres?When they rest and rely, they are doing what the minister of the gospel said to do, right? Repent and believe! Trust in Christ! Obey the gospel! When they do this, they are resting and relying because they are alive. They are alive because God spoke life into this dead soul in regeneration. Because of that regeneration, they are able to rest and rely in evangelical life, and not in legalistic death.

  66. Todd said,

    February 25, 2007 at 7:32 am

    Does anyone else see red flags when someone warns us that Paul hasn’t spoken quite precisely or carefully enough?

    “2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

  67. February 25, 2007 at 7:50 am

    Doug
    In private correspondance to you and in my public remarks I have not used the ” H” word in reference to the FV. By your own admission though you have admitted that there are high profiled individuals in the FV who, through careless speech, over-zealous rhetoric or simply a lack of theological awareness, have brought this matter under the search light. Just as you are not responsible for everything uttered by FV sympathizers, so there are those , like myself, who although critical of the direction the FV appears to be heading, should not be lumped in with the ‘shrill’ voices of some on this side who are busy gathering the faggots.The book under review by Lane is our attempt to supplment the earlier work by Guy Waters and the volume edited by Scott Clark for the faculty of Westminster seminary, Calif.We see the FV as having serious errors, which if left unchecked will pave the way for heresy ( by way of shameless promotion, Martin Downes and I are presently at work on a book dealing with the nature and direction that heresy has taken down through the centuries).It would be helpful if you used your influence to publically address the issues where you yourself see red flags in the FV. More importantly, it would serve to show the larger Reformed community that you are willing to do what you can to maintain the bond of harmony. The OPC report, as you well know, was treated in a very dismissive fashion by those on you side of the fence. Likewise the PCA study committee was like treated with what borders on contempt before they even met by FV bloggers. I suspect that this was because of the presence of Ligion Duncan, former moderater of the PCA and an outspoken critic of NT Wright. What will be the reaction from your side if the PCA follows suit with the OPC report? You are the one person in the FV camp who can sat the tone of the debate. I appealed to you once before and now do so again to publically address the the excessive features of the FV that you readily admit exist.

  68. Craig Phelps said,

    February 25, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    If the confessional definition of faith, brought from the word of God, is only resting on and relying on the eternal Son of God in our flesh and all His holy merits as my only righteousness before God, then that is what faith is. Faith without working by love, faith without works, faith alone. Faith is not disobedience to the command repent of your working by love, your works, your doctrinal precision, your dead works, and believe on the Lord Jesus Chrst as your only righteousness before God. Faith is the believing in obedience to the command believe. Faith does not have obedient qualities. The believer’s soul does, by faith. The power of faith is the mystical bond between Christ and His saint wrought by God in a dead soul by the Holy Spirit. This power of faith makes the soul alive. This power to believe makes certain that the external call of the gospel is heeded. The living soul does not obediently believe. The believing SOUL, MAN, BELIEVER obediently lives. The just shall live by faith. Not the just and the living shall believe. By faith RAHAB… Not by faith working by love Rahab…But, by faith RAHAB loved the children of God…

  69. Craig Phelps said,

    February 25, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Steven, why do you fvers always have to go nuclear. We tender flower poor little PRs have feelings and we wish you would stop the harshness. ;-)

  70. greenbaggins said,

    February 25, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    I think the debate here centers around the distinction (but not separation) that exists between justification and sanctification. Faith wears two faces, as it were. When it is turned to justification (that is, turned to the righteousness received by faith in Christ Jesus), it is completely without works. When it comes to *justification,* faith is alone. There are zero works that enter into justification; not good works, not bad works, not boundary markers, NOTHING. However, shift the face of faith to look at sanctification (which is still an act of God’s grace, as the WS say explicitly), and faith works through love. It is a living and active faith. We must take great care neither to separate justification from sanctification, as the antinomians do, nor too closely to conjoin them, as the neonomians do. The middle line (so difficult to tread!) is to hold justification and sanctification as *simultaneously* given benefits that are neither identical, nor separate. This is the path of wisdom, I believe.

  71. Todd said,

    February 25, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Lane, but is the beginning of Galatians 5, where the phrase “faith working” occurs, concerned more with justification or sanctification?

  72. Xon said,

    February 25, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Lane, I would say that when it comes to justification the only “part” of faith that God looks at as the basis for our justification is its believing on Christ alone. But faith, the saving faith God gives to the elect, is the same kind of thing from start to finish. Which means that it is always a thing that works through love. So, even at the moment of justification, my faith is a working kind of thing. It’s just that God doesn’t look at the works in making His declaration that I am righteous in His sight.

    This is the point on which Craig and I, and Craig and Wilson, have disagreed in various discussions over the last few weeks. Craig wants to say that the faith that justifies is not a working sort of thing, because he fears this blends just. and sanct. together. I (and Wilson, as I understand him) want to say that the faith that justifies is essentially a working kind of thing, but that its working is irrelevant in God’s declaration of righteousness that is our justification.

    My question is, from what you’ve just said, I can’t figure out which way you fall on this. I’m just curious where you think you would fall in terms of the recent discussion between myself, Wilson, Craig (and many others, really). If you want to answer in those terms…

  73. February 25, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Gary, your response illustrates very nicely the nature of the problem the Reformed church has had in these discussions. I acknowledged that there have been FV formulations that could generate legitimate questions. You then characterized that by the following:

    “By your own admission though you have admitted that there are high profiled individuals in the FV who, through careless speech, over-zealous rhetoric or simply a lack of theological awareness, have brought this matter under the search light.”

    I admitted nothing of the kind. I blamed no one for teaching something that generated questions, and I blamed no one for having those questions. I did say that certain concerns and/or questions were legitimate. If you want to talk, I think that is reasonable. If you want to take my acknowledgment that such talk is reasonable, and turn it into a charge that I have supposedly made against certain “high profile” FV leaders, I decline to go along with it, not even for a moment. For the others who are watching this, it is a textbook example of why I have refused to condemn anyone in the current climate. If such a mild acknowledgment on my part is seen as a confession of sloppiness in speech, overheated rhetoric, and theological nincompoopery, what would anything more have done?

    Gary, thus far no leading representative of the anti-FV concern has been willing for a public debate. With your new book coming out, you have joined the front rank of those expressing your concerns. Would you be up for debate?

  74. Frank said,

    February 25, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Mr Wilson,

    What FV Formulations have generated legitmate questions in your mind?
    Thank You
    Frank Meints

  75. Frank said,

    February 25, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Sorry let me rephrase:

    What FV formulations “could” generate legitimate questions in your mind?

    Thank You
    Frank Meints

  76. February 26, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Frank, there are a few others, but a good representative example would be Jim Jordan’s (tentative) thoughts on the nature of the new birth. Another would be whether all the benefits of Christ that are obtained through union with Christ would include perseverance.

  77. February 26, 2007 at 6:37 am

    Doug
    Your response is a textbook example of why debating you would be a maddening exercise of hide-and -seek. By the way, if you think this book is a zinger wait until the Warfield book comes out in June! I do hope however that the tone you have sat in your comments would be emulated by those on both sides of the debate. We can strongly disagree and even be terse without calling down on the opposition’s house the judgment of God or using undignified expressions like ‘ utter crap’. On this score, Doug, I hope you would agree.

  78. Todd said,

    February 26, 2007 at 7:45 am

    Gary, I don’t think I understand the hide-and-seek comment.

    When you were asked a while ago about debating Wilson, you told us you wouldn’t because of the way Doug had ignored you before. Well, he’s not ignoring you now; so why not debate?

  79. February 26, 2007 at 7:57 am

    Todd
    I didn’t think you would. Are you dry yet?

  80. Todd said,

    February 26, 2007 at 8:12 am

    In what sense would a debate with DW be a “maddening game of hide-and-seek”? Can you unpack that comment please?

  81. February 26, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Todd
    No. You havn’t been nice.

  82. D. Patrick Ramsey said,

    February 26, 2007 at 9:26 am

    To interject a little humor, this video clip might help demonstrate why a debate might be a “maddening game of hide-and-seek”: http://dpatrickramsey.blogspot.com/2007/02/for-federal-visionists.html

  83. Fowler White said,

    February 26, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Doug, since it is clear by now that you place a premium value on public debate, let me ask the following as a sincere question. Would you tell us what you believe would be gained by a public debate that cannot gained by reading and listening to what has been written and said on the subject to this point? Presumably you believe there is some benefit to both sides and to observors that cannot be gained any other way. What is that benefit as you see it? If you have given your answer to this question somewhere else (I have tried to keep up, but don’t know that I have actually succeeded at it), I’ll be happy to follow a link. Thanks.

  84. February 26, 2007 at 9:38 am

    D. Pat
    Well, ok, I have given into a debate over the FV with Wilson. Tom Hanks will moderate and it will be held on a small island in the South Pacific.

  85. Craig Phelps said,

    February 26, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Respectfully, Rev. Johnson, it is in the places where Rev. Wilson has been consistent and clear about his covenant theology that give rise to concern. The nature of justifying faith being a place that he has been out in the open once the issue came up. There is his book RINE where he articulates doctrines that he has steadfastly maintained even when pointed out to him that they contradict reformed theology. I know he maintains that his opponents contradict Calvin and the confessions when they point out that he does. But certainly Rev. Wilson has written enough in book and blog and journal to clearly defend and articulate doctrines and exegesis that contradict reformed theology. The parable of the Vine is one such place. The nature of justifying faith is another. The harmonization of James and Paul is another. There are more. Surely a fruitful debate could be had if just one text or doctrine where there is concern was spelled out clearly from the outset. I may disagree with Rev. Wilson on biblical grounds, but I can see clearly enough that we do really disagree and that he has been up front about his positions.

  86. David McCrory said,

    February 26, 2007 at 10:04 am

    I don’t presume to speak for him, but the author of this blog (a minister in the PCA) has said he’d debate Mr. Wilson if certain stipulations could be met.

  87. Xon said,

    February 26, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Dr. White asked:

    Would you tell us what you believe would be gained by a public debate that cannot gained by reading and listening to what has been written and said on the subject to this point? Presumably you believe there is some benefit to both sides and to observors that cannot be gained any other way. What is that benefit as you see it?

    As the Proverb says, the first man to make his case sounds right, until the next guy comes along. Just being told to read and listen to what’s been written and said already doesn’t do much as far as putting the two sides down together. Also, there’s so much already said and written that each side has a tendency to refer people to its preferred documents (this is human nature, and both sides are guilty no doubt).

    In a more formal debate, the two sides are allowed to both get a representation together, with neither side having complete control over what arguments or evidences are presented. Your opponent gets to give the arguments he thinks are the best ones for his position, and to express his position with words that he thinks are most helpful to make his point. When one side says something, particularly when they say something about what their opponent “really” believes, they have to defend their claim right then and there. Or at the very least their opponent gets a chance to clarify their position, and iron sharpens iron and the debate moves on to whatever the “real” issue might be. Saying it’s already been said, and so an interested reader should be able to dig out the “real” issues for himself, isn’t very useful even if it is true that some people might be able to do that.

    There have been two nice “occasions” where both sides have discussed together: the 2003 AAPC and the Knox Colloquium book (published early 2004). Those were nice. Let’s do more.

    FVers keep claiming (among other things) that they are misunderstood, and FV critics keep getting annoyed (understandably) at this. Well the best way to get past this sort of “yeah huh nuh uh” impasse (though no method is infallible in such things) is to sit down and have a more formal debate/discussion, together. Then the critic of FV can state what they think the FV position is, and the FV person can say whether they think that is putting it fairly. If they don’t, then the two sides can refine back and forth until they mutually put their finger on the point(s) of disagreement. Then they can actually debate whose position is correct. (This is why I personally think a written debate would be best–these allow more room for defining the two positions in the early stages, whereas “live” debates tend to be the sort of thing where both sides have to jump right into arguing over some pre-determined proposition and there isn’t really any time for making sure they aren’t talking past one another.)

    If the concern is that Wilson will nefariously shape-shift his position, then this is just a chance for you to expose him as such. In “formal” debates with rules (which is not the kind of debate I’m necessarily suggesting; just an analogy). If Wilson is so bad about talking out of both sides of his mind, can’t pin him down, etc., then how is the current status quo an acceptable alternative? You can’t very well trust people to read Wilson for themselves to figure out what his position is, given how crafty he is in this regard. I suppose one solution is to just tell people not to read Wilson at all, that they can simply trust his critics to get his “real” view right (since, apparently, his critics are too wise for his wiles, and are able to see through to his real position no matter how slippery he tries to be), but this again sounds “fishy” to many Reformed ears: “Don’t even bother listening to that dude, just let us tell you why he’s a heretic.” Golly, I hope I’m never in that position…

    I don’t mean this to be snarky. I am trying to write quickly and to make the point with a bit of force. I’m questioning the current logic of anti-FVers that a debate would accomplish nothing. This starts to sound like a “power” move by those who wish to maintain what they’ve alrady got. You asked, Dr. White, what benefit a debate would have for “both sides.” Here you might have a valid point; a good and open debate is not always to the advantage of both sides. Often the side that is already in power has very little to gain in terms of more power by winning, and so might be tempted to not risk it. This is why War Admiral’s owner was reluctant to race Seabiscuit, and why LBJ wouldn’t debate Goldwater. But we Reformed types like to claim that we care about “the truth,” consequences be darned. But that’s just the kind of thing that a debate is good for. Any invitation to debate is an invitation for your side to present the truth afresh. This can only be a good thing, if truth is your primary concern.

    I’m not accusing; just pointing out how this skepticism about the usefulness of debates might look. Surely anti-FV folks can understand how it feels like a “power” move (i.e., fishy) to FV proponents when they are now being told that suddenly P & R types don’t see any purpose to debates. Good heavens! Geneva was in some important way “converted” to Protestantism through a debate!

    Bottom line, iron sharpens iron. This happens in a unique way when the two swords clash directly. A time and place for everything. …

  88. Dave H said,

    February 26, 2007 at 10:35 am

    And the debate issue will not go away… However, it does clearly show those who, in some cases, perfer to make the FV issue more of a political matter than theological. But let’s forget the word DEBATE, and stick with DISCUSSION. Since R.Scott Clark probably knows that he would lose his various ministerial positions in California once he would ultimately have to make nice with Pastor Doug by affriming their agreement on these key matters, Scott will never agree to such a discussion. So, Reverand Gary, please consider participating. No issue is too dangerous to discuss. And if I am wrong on my FV leanings (and the way I am teaching my five children) then I would be very grateful if you would help me to better understand my errors. No book writings can accomplish what two gentleman sitting together can accomplish with immediate responses to questions, and defining of terms, etc. Also, who has the time to read every book, and counter-book, and counter-counter-book…

    Hey, Covenant Radio still beckons. Are you willing Gary? or Cal? or White? Why does such fear abound to verbally discuss? If this blog is worthy of your time, why not a face-to-face discussion with a brother in Christ.

    Blessings, and a desire to learn

  89. Stewart said,

    February 26, 2007 at 10:37 am

    G.L.W. Johnson said, “We can strongly disagree and even be terse without calling down on the opposition’s house the judgment of God or using undignified expressions like ‘ utter crap’. On this score, Doug, I hope you would agree.”

    Mr. Johnson, did you notice the heading this post is under? The word “heresy” is okay, but “utter crap” is not? Would you consider it an undignified expression?

    Federal Vision, Books (reviews and recommendations), New Perspective on Paul, Heresy)

  90. markhorne said,

    February 26, 2007 at 10:42 am

    No, “utter crap” was an essential expression allowing the truth to be told.

  91. D. Patrick Ramsey said,

    February 26, 2007 at 10:54 am

    It might be more profitable for a stout FV to debate. That way the most disconcerting expressions, doctrines and exegesis (e.g. Lusk on Acts 2) can be directly addressed, thereby avoiding the hide and seek game.

  92. greenbaggins said,

    February 26, 2007 at 11:27 am

    I am willing to debate on blog format, but not in person. What we’re doing now is plenty adequate in my mind for loads of clarification. Also, it’s easier. If Doug Wilson wants to debate blog-to-blog, that’s fine. It might clarify things, as long as there is more light than heat (I speak to myself first on this!).

    On faith, I believe that God does not give us a dead faith. However, the fact that it is alive is not the important part of faith with regard to justification. The difficulty I have with statements such as “a living faith justifies,” is that, unless immediate qualifications are put on the phrase, people will think that it is its living characteristic that justifies (whether instrumentally or materially). I cannot go there at all. The *only* aspect of faith that is instrumental in our justification is that it lays hold of Christ’s righteousness. The character of whether it is alive or not is thus not immediately relevant to the question of justification.

    The alive-ness of faith is of paramount importance in sanctification. I am not positing a different faith for justification and sanctification. Rather, I am carefully guarding against implying any agency to works in justification. The new Clark-edited book has a tremendous article ( I forget which article it was) that says that anyone who preaches a Gospel of free justification by faith alone can expect to be accused of antinomianism every now and then. After all, Paul was (Romans 6). None of the FV authors could ever be accused of anti-nomianism. I perfectly agree that anti-nomianism is a grave error, and that it is exceedingly prevalent in modern evangelicalism. However, it is vital that justification is from the free grace of God. We must not let our reaction to anti-nomianism over-balance us in the other direction. The solution to anti-nomianism is not a tad bit more legalism, but a healthy law-gospel hermeneutic.

  93. Fowler White said,

    February 26, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Xon, thanks for your take on the value of a public debate. I’ll keep reflecting on what you say, but so far I’m still looking for a benefit unique to a public debate, particularly at this point. Sorry if I’m being dense. I’m not questioning the value of public debate as such. And I’m even leaving aside the seemingly inevitable allegations of power plays, word games, and cowardice. Perhaps my concern is best stated by observing that there are folks, perhaps on both sides, who think they’ve heard all they’re going to hear that matters and it’s time to call the question. That’s not to say everybody will share their opinion.

  94. Dave H said,

    February 26, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Fowler White

    Believe me that everybody still needs to hear something on these issues. In a recent conversation with one of my elders, he was quite surpised to learn that Doug Wilson did not hold to a strict faith plus works (Roman-style) soteriology. He equated Doug with a neo-priest position. Most folks in our Reformed churches do not spend the time reading these blogs and other written resources. Their opinions on FV / anti-FV are made up with the same reliablity of the sound bites available to us on the 10:00 ABC / CBS nightly news. A very public oral debate (well publicized and accessable online to the masses at their convenience) would certainly provide the biggest bang for the buck.

  95. February 26, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Fowler, thanks for your question. I agree with what Xon wrote, but let me put it in briefer compass. I believe that a debate would make straw man characterizations of the other side’s position virtually impossible. That unfortunately is not the case when the leaders of each side only have to preach to their own choirs, which is largely what we have now. And I believe that a debate between Gary Johnson and me (for example) would be seen or heard by virtually everyone who is interested in this topic. And, to key off another point made above, I would certainly be open to any number of reasonable formats (live, written, audio, whatever).

  96. David Houf said,

    February 26, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Just a thought as the conversation swirls around whether there will be/could be/should be a debate. I would imagine whether anything of value could come from a debate is up in the air until the debate actually happens.

    It does not follow that someone who is unwilling to debate is afraid of debating. That’s like labeling the prudent man who walks away from a fistfight a “coward,” simply because he walks away from the fight.

    I cannot speak for any of the Reverends on either side of this issue. But I do know Rev. Johnson, and can say two things relevant to this string of comments:

    1. He is a kind, patient and Godly minister of the gospel.
    2. He’s not afraid of debating or discussing any theological issue.

    I would just ask people to consider this before assuming that a decision not to debate is out of fear.

    In Christ,

    David Houf

  97. Xon said,

    February 26, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    DPR, what’s so bad about “Lusk on Acts 2″?

  98. greenbaggins said,

    February 26, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    I don’t believe that Rev. Johnson would debate in live conversation with Doug Wilson. I do not believe that such a debate will ever take place. Personally, as I have already said, I am willing to debate Doug Wilson blog to blog, or host a blog-to-blog debate (if Doug would rather debate someone other than myself). Somehow, I doubt that’s going to happen, either.

  99. D. Patrick Ramsey said,

    February 26, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Xon, his view of baptismal justification: one is not ordinarily justified until one is baptized. Believing the spoken word is ordinarily insufficient. See:

    http://dpatrickramsey.blogspot.com/2005/08/wrong-step-back-in-time-neo.html

    http://dpatrickramsey.blogspot.com/2005/08/lusk-on-baptism.html

    http://dpatrickramsey.blogspot.com/2006/12/baptismal-justification.html

    http://dpatrickramsey.blogspot.com/2006/12/from-opc-committee-report-on.html

    I wrote a brief parable to show the absurdity of this error:

    http://dpatrickramsey.blogspot.com/2006/12/wedding.html

    Read Calvin’s comments for a proper understanding of Acts 2.

  100. greenbaggins said,

    February 26, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Just a quick note of reminder: any posts with two or more links have to be moderated by myself. Just in case, Patrick, you were wondering where your comment went. :-)

  101. barlow said,

    February 26, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    What does it mean to say that saving faith “lays hold of Christ’s righteousness”? Recognize that it is a metaphor – anthropomorphized faith takes its little arms and lays hold of something. Unpack the metaphor please. Are you saying that trusting and assenting to the fact of Christ’s righteousness is the key thing about saving faith? Something else? Please clarify.

  102. greenbaggins said,

    February 26, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    What I mean is that faith has no virtue of its own. It is faith in its receiving aspect that lays hold of Christ’s righteousness as imputed. The trusting and assenting has more to do with Christ Himself, and the truth about Christ. The WS use the phrase “receiving and resting” to mean Christ’s righteousness. Hope this is clear.

  103. Dave H said,

    February 26, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    David Houf

    I don’t believe that a discussion of this important theological matter equates to a “fist fight”. I think that the fist fight example assumes that you will be a party to a sinful act if you participate. However, a well-facilitated discussion between “kind, patient” men promises to be a very edifying event, and possibly very useful in mending ties that have been broken for too many years now, between godly spiritual leaders. I do believe that, for most men who are vocal on these issues, who refuse to discuss them mano-a-mano, are in fact fearful of what the end result might yield; no disrespect to Rev. Johnson intended.

  104. February 26, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Greenbaggins, I am certainly willing to debate any FV critic who would meet the following two criteria: a. that the leading FV critics (Clark, Beisner, Waters, Duncan, et al) would acknowledge him as a capable representative and b. that he would be willing to stand by and defend (in the main) the published criticisms of FV, John Robbins excluded. That would mean the anti essays in the Knox colloquium, Waters book, the new Clark book, the upcoming Crossway book, and anything else like unto them. Might that be you?

  105. greenbaggins said,

    February 26, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    I would certainly meet the second criteria. I don’t know if the names you mention would grant me the first criteria. That would be for them to say, I suppose. Would you be willing to debate blog to blog?

  106. David Houf said,

    February 26, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Dave H,

    First, I’m not assuming that a fist fight is immoral; not all are. But granting that it may be a poor example, my point still stands: unwillingness to debate is not the same as being afraid of a debate.

    Second, we may have different ideas of what a debate entails. Is this to be a moderated formal debate or a fireside chat? Something else? If it’s a debate, I don’t expect it to mend anything, but perhaps draw lines more clearly.

    By the way, I think a debate could have some value. The idea of challenge & acceptance of that challenge is appealing to me, in a “standing up for what one believes is right” sort of way. However, I’m not entirely sure what the value of the debate will be. Any debate is only going to last a few hours (unless there is a series of debates?). These issues will continue to be written about and dealt with in position papers, books, essays, theological conferences and sermons. Would participating in a debate change that?

    Would winning or losing a debate change that? A debate is *always* couched in terms of winning and losing. But the winner of a debate is not necessarily right on the issues. A man can be an excellent theologian and an awful debater; in such a context, would a debate be a good way to defend one’s positions? Probably not.

    I do wish for a debate to take place, but as I reflect upon the magnitude of what would be debated, I’m not sure it would have as great a benefit as one might think. The people most inclined to listen in on the debate have probably been following along the blogbating that has been going on for some time now. I doubt a debate would yield any new converts.

    In Christ,
    Dave Houf

  107. Xon said,

    February 26, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Hey Patrick (I won’t call you DPR any more, I just wasn’t sure what to call you at first),

    In a bit of a hurry today. If I’ve read the wedding story and the post titled “Baptismal Justification”, do you think that is sufficient? These are your most recent posts on this topic: if I only read these two posts, is there anything important in the August ’05 posts that you think I’ll be missing?

  108. David McCrory said,

    February 26, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Actually, if you two wanted to debate on a blog, you could simply create a new blog with you both as authors and both post back and forth. It wouldn’t have to be on an existing blog. I think Lane would be a fine representative of the antiFV side.

  109. Xon said,

    February 26, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Check that, Patrick, I mean that I have already read the Wedding story and the post titled “Lusk on Baptism”…

  110. David McCrory said,

    February 26, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Also, Mr. Wilson, if Lane stands behind what the other “TR’s” have written and said, does this mean you’d be willing to represent what other recognized FV’ers (not just your own work) have written and said?

  111. D. Patrick Ramsey said,

    February 26, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Xon, the first link might be helpful, along with the quote from the OPC justification committee report. The main point is he argues, according to Acts 2, that ordinarily one must believe AND BE BAPTIZED in order to receive the forgiveness of sins. No forgiveness, ordinarily, until one is baptized.

    Lane, sorry about all the links. Poor internet ediquette. I won’t do that again.

  112. greenbaggins said,

    February 26, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    No, Patrick, all the links are absolutely fine. I don’t mind at all, nor do I think that it was poor internet etiquette. I just didn’t want you to worry about where your comment went. However, if you want your comment to show up immediately, then you could post one link on each comment, posting 5 comments, or something like that.

  113. Xon said,

    February 26, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Okay, Patrick, gotcha. I managed to read them all, anyway.

    The main point is he argues, according to Acts 2, that ordinarily one must believe AND BE BAPTIZED in order to receive the forgiveness of sins. No forgiveness, ordinarily, until one is baptized.

    And what does Lusk mean by “forgiveness,” “justification,” etc., in those passages of his writings? Is he referring to the things that the Confession (usually, always?) means when it uses those terms? Or does he mean something different?

    Without getting bogged down in quotes at this point, my summary is that Lusk is talking about a “covenantal” forgiveness, a “covenantal” justification. It takes more than just preaching to bring us into the covenant of grace/visible church. If a man came up to you after a sermon and said, “I’d like to join the Church,” would you tell him he had already joined in virtue of his wish? Or would you tell him to be baptized? Baptism is a rite of entrance into the visible church, not a rite of entrance into “eternal salvation” or “decretal election” or what have you.

    There are real benefits that come from covenant membership, even for those who end up going to Hell b/c they’re not decretally elect. Lusk thinks we can describe these real benefits with terms like “forgiveness”, “justification,” etc. But this doesn’t mean that baptism “justifies” you in the WCF sense of “being irrevocably declared righteous by God.” That just isn’t how Lusk is using the term “justifies” in his commentary on Acts 2.

    I also talk about this some in my most recent post interacting with the recent Woodruff Road Conference (sorry for the self-promotion), for whatever that’s worth.

  114. Kevin said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Mr. Wilson seems to have conflated real academic debate with political-style debate. The former is already going on, despite his lack of engagement.

    Academic debate takes the form of serious academic monographs that are reviewed by reputable scholars and published in book or journal form. For an early form of this process, think of Luther and Erasmus or Calvin and Sadoleto. It seems to me that the Knox colloquium, the Waters book, the Clark book, and the Crossway book represent half of this debate. We could also perhaps add in here the various presbytery and denominational reports, almost all of which have been critical of the FV. (In addition, we could also perhaps include the numerous works critical of the NPP due to Wright’s influence on the FV.)

    The question that should be addressed is whether the FV proponents are keeping up their side of the debate adequately. There are no published responses so far from their side and apparently no publisher willing to publish their responses. So we are left with the blogs as their current means of keeping up with the debate – not much of a scholarly response. Though they sure know how to pile on invective and ridicule to the point where a genuine scholar feels the necessity to cut off comments, how does that advance the debate? Nor do their self-posted reviews and responses seem to count in advancing this debate.

    So now Mr. Wilson wants an easier alternative to writing serious scholarly responses and getting them published by someone other than himself. He challenges the big-name FV critics to a political-style debate. Mr. Wilson knows very well that his delight in ridicule and hyperbole (and that of his minions) is not conducive to anyone accepting his challenge. I say don’t waste your time mud wrestling with Wilson. A subject as complex as the FV requires something a good deal more serious than a sound-bite-filled two-hour debate. For all Mr. Wilson’s talk about straw men, have you ever watched a debate in which the participants didn’t indulge in every logical fallacy known to man in order to score rhetorical points? And, in which both sides didn’t immediately rush to claim victory? For substantive debate of the issues, we need to keep cranking out the scholarly books and the presbytery and denominational reports. Too bad if the other side isn’t keeping up its half of the debate and wants to debate on easier terms. Let them tilt with windmills.

  115. Todd said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Well, someone certainly knows how to pile on invective and ridicule!

  116. greenbaggins said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    Doug, I have been thinking about your conditions for debate, and I have a question: why is being ordained and installed in a presbytery of the PCA (as I have been) not sufficient qualification for debate? And, if that was not sufficient, what about my critique of Steve Wilkins (look under indices on the left category)? Why do you wish to debate by proxy with these other men?

  117. greenbaggins said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Todd, I think Kevin is right in his basic point here: the scholarly world has spun out many, many books now. Where are the rebuttals? The _Federal Vision_ is not really geared as a rebuttal, but as a positive exposition of their position.

    Todd, it is interesting that you did exactly what Kevin said that the FVer’s do, which is to use a fallacy (Kevin piles up the invective, therefore his argument is not worth hearing!)!

  118. February 26, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Kevin,

    Good point. There is a debate going on, as you say. But is it not that case that a volume will be forthcoming will contributions from Andrew Sandlin, Norman Shepherd, John Armstrong, and John Frame? Are you hoping for something similar from others within FV circles?

  119. Xon said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    There are no published responses so far from their side and apparently no publisher willing to publish their responses.

    Huh? Canon? Athanasius? Or do those not count b/c the people in charge of them are already FV sympathizers.

    Look at federal-vision.com for responses to most of the things you just mentioned, Kevin. I know of almost no acknowledgment from anti-FVers that these responses even exist, much less arguments against them.

    If you want these responses to be published in a book binding before you’ll read them, then that’s a bummer. For one thing, they don’t make for a very good book. They’re mostly demonstrations of all the places where critics of FV have misrepresented various FV views. (Many of these are written by the men who claim to be misrepresented themselves). That’s kind of “boring” for a book, I suppose. But unfortunately until the critics make more of an effort to get the FV right (to state your opponent’s view to his satisfaction,n not merely to the satisfaction of the already sympathetic audience), this is where things are.

    Sadly, a common anti-FV response to the claims of misrepresentation is to simple brute denial (My favorite being Dr. Pipa’s claim at the start of his talk at Woodruff Road two weeks ago that “I can testify to all of you here that Dr. Waters did not take any of those quotes in his earlier talks out of context.” Thanks, dude, must be true!) coupled with accusations that FVers are just being whiny. But if they really are just being whiny, then why have they written detailed interactions with the published works against them? They don’t just claim to have been misrepresented and then slink off into their heretical shadows; they demonstrate examples of such misrepresentation. I’d love to hear an anti-FVer respond to these specific examples, personally.

  120. Steven W said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Come on guys, “the scholarly world” is not in the American Presbyterian and Reformed scene.

    N T Wright is as much a representative of the scholarly world as anybody, and he’s the reason we have the debate. He is also routinely mocked by the people that y’all have in mind. So this is not a case of the rogue internet guy (Wilson) vs. the sophisticated academics (???).

  121. Stewart said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Kevin, are you the same Kevin who posts on the Puritan Board? Just wondering.

  122. Stewart said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    “Come on guys, “the scholarly world” is not in the American Presbyterian and Reformed scene.”

    Amen!

  123. Xon said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Kevin piles up the invective, therefore his argument is not worth hearing

    Well, kinda sorta, yeah. I’ve spent enough time in philosophy to know that the informal fallacies get abused from both sides of the fence. Often one’s ability to point them out has itself become just another rhetorical ploy. Perhaps Todd is accusing Kevin of committing the fallacy of offering personal attacks rather than due consideration of his opponents’ arguments. Why do you respond, Lane, by telling Todd to do the very thing Kevin did not do? I might point to a fallacy myself, if I swung that way…

    Kevin has simply claimed that FVers’ responses and reviews to the anti-FV stuff doesn’t “seem to count as advancing the debate.” Uh, why not? What’s wrong with what they’ve said in those responses? Is Kevin simply dismissing them out of hand b/c they aren’t publications? But, like I said in my previous comment, it’s no surprise that such things aren’t published. What would be the point? If someone wrote a book claiming I believed the sky was pink even though I said it’s not, would I need to publish my own book in response in order to be thought a serious scholar? I hope not.

    “Well, Xon says I misrepresented him, huh? Well why doesn’t he publish a book or an article about it then? He must not be a true scholar. Not surprising, since he believes the sky is pink!”

  124. Dave H said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Kevin

    I assume you have never heard Doug Wilson “debate” – e.g. Wilson and James White a few years back. Wilson, in a den of lions, was the soul of courtesy. His demeaner alone won him a fair amount of points. As for the effectiveness of “debates”, note that Wilson recently responded multiple times to R. Scott Clark on Clark’s site after Dr. Clark made charges against Mr. Wilson that were questionable. Pastor Wilson responded to these charges in such a manner that Dr. Clark could no longer twist Wilson’s position as he had been. As a result, about 100 posts later, Dr. Clark had demoted Mr. Wilson to an FV “fence-sitter”, and abruptly re-focused his attacks upon Mr. Lusk instead, as the true FV culprit. So debates can accomplish much. And a face to face would be preferred to a blogbate, but if the anti-FV crowd is only willing to play via cyber-space, then it’s better than nothing. We’ll see where it leads. And may God bless it.

  125. February 26, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Xon,

    I think that there would be a point in publishing a response even if (hypothetically speaking) the FV position has been misrepresented by its critics. For example, penal substitution has been attacked in recent years and in those attacks (by card carrying evangelicals) it has not always been fairly described. As a consequence books have been published that have set the record straight by giving a clear statement of the doctrine, and other books have appeared that engage with the critics.

    There is something about publishing in book form that still carries more weight and is better suited to peer review.

  126. greenbaggins said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Gotta agree with Martin on this, although I don’t inherently discard any piece, just because it’s internet and not book form. After all, I don’t have a single book or even article to my name in the paper-publishing realm. All I have is the 500 or so blog posts here.

  127. D. Patrick Ramsey said,

    February 26, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Xon,

    Lusk is not contrasting the differences between the elect and non-elect in his discussion on Acts 2. He is discussing the role of baptism in salvation. So the point is whether or not a believing person is justified or forgiven prior to baptism. And not what benefits the non-elect receive at baptism. Lusk contends that we must believe AND be baptized. Believe is what we do and baptism is what God does through the minister. The non-elect do not believe at baptism (or at any other time) and therefore are not justified in the WCF sense. But the elect do believe and and it is through baptism that they are justified, according to Lusk. Recall that Lusk uses Paul, an elect person, as an example.

    Lusk: “Note carefully: even hearing a sermon from heaven did not grant forgiveness! Only when Paul received the washing of baptism did he find remission. The restoration of his sight, of course, shows that he is being made new and whole as he enters Christ’s new creation. Confrontation with the Word of Christ began his conversion process, but it was not complete until he received the sacrament of initiation.”

    So is a true believer justified/forgiven the moment he believes or must he be baptized first before he receives this blessing of the covenant of grace?

    If it takes more than just preaching to bring us into the covenant of grace then is a person who believes in(to) Jesus before baptism united to Jesus? And if he is united to Jesus, is he united to His body? And if he is united to Jesus and His body, is he in the covenant of grace?

  128. greenbaggins said,

    February 26, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    There seems to me to be a lack of understanding about sacramental language going on here, too. WCF 27.2 is clear about this.

  129. Xon said,

    February 26, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    Hi again, Patrick.

    Lusk is not contrasting the differences between the elect and non-elect in his discussion on Acts 2. He is discussing the role of baptism in salvation.

    “Salvation” in what sense? He’s talking about the role that baptism plays in “covenantal” salvation. We know this by a simple inference from the broader context of his writings made in the spirit of interpreting him consistently with himself. As he says about “regeneration,” for instance:

    “If I were going to speak of “baptismal regeneration,” I would define “regeneration” as the new life situation entered into in baptism. This new life, in this carefully specified sense, is not so much a matter of ontology or subjectivity (Hodge’s focus), as it a matter of new relationships, privileges, and responsibilities. It means one has a new family and a new story, a new citizenship and a new status. It means something objective has been changed, though subjectively one must still respond in faith, of course. Life in the regeneration, in this sense, is not strictly limited to the elect.” (from his online essay “Do I Believe in Baptismal Regeneration?”, which is written after the “Brief Thoughts on Sacramental Efficacy” essay you are quoting for his comments on Acts 2)

    He says similar things about “salvation” and “justification”. It is clear from his entire corpus of writings that baptism is all about putting us into the new “regenerate” world, God’s kingdom on earth, the visible Church or the covenant of grace.

    Continuing:

    So the point is whether or not a believing person is justified or forgiven prior to baptism.

    Justified or forgiven in the covenantal sense of those words, yes.

    And not what benefits the non-elect receive at baptism.

    But both non-elect and elect are baptized, and presumably receive benefits from it (even if only for a time in the case of the non-elect). This is Lusk’s position, which is my point. So the benefits received by the non-elect at baptism are always in view (though maybe in the background) whenever Lusk says anything about baptism. You are right that in his commentary on Acts 2 he is not right at that moment delineating what separates the elect from the non-elect covenant members, but I’m not claiming he’s talking about it directly. I’m claiming it makes up the context which helps us to understand these comments on Acts 2.

    So: You have to remember that for Lusk there are two kinds of “salvation,” and interpret him accordingly when he says that baptism is a necessary part of salvation. Which salvation is he talking about, do you think? The “irrevocable eternal life” kind? Or the covenantal kind? Or both? I’m saying it is the covenantal kind that he is referring to.

    Lusk contends that we must believe AND be baptized. Believe is what we do and baptism is what God does through the minister. The non-elect do not believe at baptism (or at any other time) and therefore are not justified in the WCF sense. But the elect do believe and and it is through baptism that they are justified, according to Lusk. Recall that Lusk uses Paul, an elect person, as an example.

    Right. Baptism makes us part of the covenant of grace and brings various benefits to elect and non-elect alike. But only those who believe properly (allowing for a sort of temporary or non-saving belief) fully appropriate the promises of the covenant of grace for themselves. So, yes, if you want to show yourself to be decretally elect and be “saved” in that sense then you must have faith. But, to be “saved” in another, purely covenantal sense only requires that you are baptized.

    (A quick comment on a the difference between infant and adult baptisms here. I think what I’m saying here is Lusk’s view (I would say I myself was persuaded of it by reading Lusk, actually), not just mine. The Confession says that infants of believing parents are “in the covenant of grace” and are therefore to be baptized. So it seems that covenant membership “logically precedes” baptism for these infants. That’s all fine and good. But the question is whether an adult can become a member of the covenant community without first being baptized. It doesn’t seem to me that he can. If he visits your church and believes the Gospel, but then gets hit by a bus, then he goes to Heaven. But he was never a member of the covenant community (during his earthly life anyway). If an adult wants to join the church, he has to be baptized. I’m sincerely open to different formulations on this point, though.)

    Anyway, when Lusk uses Paul as one of his examples, this doesn’t mean that he can’t be talking about Paul’s covenantal “election”/”salvation”/”regeneration.” On the contrary–all (or almost all) decretally elect people are also covenantally elect (since the Church is the ordinary means of eternal salvation, as WCF teaches). So, Paul had both kinds of election/salvation/regeneration, while a non-elect covenant member has only one. Lusk could therefore be referring to either, and as I’ve said the context of his writings makes it clear that when he is talking about baptism he is talking primarily (if not exclusively) about a covenantal kind of ‘salvation.’

    When talking about covenantal salvation as Lusk defines it, baptism clearly is necessary. Thus, my contention is that your criticism of his ordering of preaching, baptism, and faith in this kind of salvation misses the mark, because he isn’t talking about eternal salvation. If he was, then of course he would be in big trouble for saying that baptism is necessary to be decretally elect/eternally saved so that if a person hears the Word preached and receives it with joy and receives a new heart at the proclamation then he would still need to be baptized or else he can’t be saved. But this isn’t what he is saying, and so he doesn’t need to be in all that trouble.

    In the quote from Lusk that you provide in your most recent comment (#127), the sentence in the middle jumps out at me:

    “The restoration of his sight, of course, shows that he is being made new and whole as he enters Christ’s new creation.”

    For Lusk, “enters Christ’s new creation” is covenant membership language, not eternal salvation language. He is not talking about Paul’s irrevocable and complete remission of sins that he received in virtue of his being decretally elect. (Though Paul certainly received such a thing, since Paul certainly was/is decretally elect.) He is talking instead about a covenantal sort of “remission of sins.”

    You follow this quote up with a series of questions about the “true believer,” but again Lusk isn’t talking about “true believers” (assuming by this you are referring to a belief that only the decretally elect have). A decretally elect person is going to go to Heaven when he dies, but he will not be in the covenant of grace until he is baptized. He can certainly be decretally elect without being baptized, though (thief on the cross, etc.). It sounds to me like you are thinking that all (decretally) elect individuals are in the covenant of grace, but they’re not (at least not on Lusk’s view). At least not during their earthly life. Your criticism is talking past Lusk at this point.

    It’s a good question you ask about whether a decretally elect person is united to Christ before being baptized. Not covenantally, no. (This is what I think Lusk would say here.) But since they are going to Heaven to live with God eternally in glory, how can they not be united to Christ in some sense? Indeed, they must be, so at this point we can posit some sort of extra-covenantal union with Christ. While noticing that the NT doesn’t really talk about this kind of union with Christ (except in giving a few examples like the aforementioned thief). The NT seems focused on (esp. when it invokes the concept directly) the union with Christ that is covenantal. But we can draw the theological inference (b/c we FVers are actually quite fond of systematic theology) and posit the extra-covenantal election for all non-baptized elect people.

  130. D. Patrick Ramsey said,

    February 27, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Xon,

    Thanks for your response. Essentially, your answer is that Lusk’s comments on Acts 2 and related passages deal only with covenantal justification, not eternal justification. I would contend that he sees both and that the difference is found in the response of the one baptized. He who savingly believes is eternally and covenantally justified at baptism but the non-elect are only covenantally justified.

    In his essay “Do I Believe in Baptismal Regeneration?” Lusk comments on WCF 28:6 (thus we know he is talking about eternal salvation):

    “In other words, while the sacraments genuinely offer Christ to all who are baptized, and confer Christ upon those who receive the sacrament in faith, our response to baptism is part of God’s eternal counsel. The objective meaning of baptism is not softened, but our subjective response determines what we actually get from the sacrament. And that response is subject to God’s foreordination. Baptism is the offer; faith is the receptor…Baptism is not in competition with faith because baptism is what God does, while faith is what we do. Baptism is God’s instrument in giving new life and forgiveness; faith is the instrument on our side for receiving these things.”

    Later on he faults R.C. Sproul for denying that we are justified (obviously the eternal sense is meant here) instrumentally by baptism. He writes:

    “What Sproul has overlooked is the two sides of instrumentality: objective and subjective. Baptism and faith are not instruments at the same level, or in the same way. Faith is the exclusive instrument in receiving what God instrumentally offers in baptism.”

    There would be no reason to fault Sproul if Lusk believed that baptism was the instrument for “covenantal” forgiveness only. For Sproul is discussing eternal justification!

    After a lengthy quote from Lane, Lusk then turns to Acts 2;38 to prove the necessity of baptism for justification. Again, all in the context of eternal justification.

    So baptism for Lusk is not just about putting us into the covenant of grace “covenantally,” it is also about actually receiving the eternal benefits of the covenant of grace, which are received by faith.

    Besides, if your reading of Lusk is right then: 1) Acts 2 does not deal at all with eternal forgiveness or justification or salvation, which is absurd. 2) Paul was eternally saved, justified, forgiven, etc. apart from the covenant of grace. He thus received covenantal blessings but not covenantally. Therefore, eternal salvation is not administered by the covenant, only, ironically, covenantal blessings, which are not eternal and saving, are given in the covenant. 3) Baptism does not convey eternal salvation, only covenantal salvation.

    Frankly, I find it too hard to believe that this is what Lusk is saying without hard evidence. Your loose connection between Lusk’s distinction between types of regeneration and his commentary on Acts 2 is not persuasive at all. Moreover, Lusk makes too much of the role of the church in salvation, and the sacraments for that matter, with respect to salvation (and not just “covenantal” salvation) for me to believe (again without better arguments) that he does not relate eternal salvation to baptism in Acts 2.

  131. Steven W said,

    February 27, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    I think that for Lusk, covenantal salvation is the means to eternal salvation.

  132. D. Patrick Ramsey said,

    February 27, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    I agree Steven.

    Xon: Since covenantal salvation is the means to eternal salvation, and baptism is the necessary means (instrumental, on God’s part) to covenantal salvation, then baptism is necessary for eternal salvation (ordinarily).

    So, in light of what you said in post #129, are you willing to consider that Lusk might be in “big trouble” here?

  133. Steven W said,

    February 28, 2007 at 9:00 am

    Every Christian ever believed baptism was necessary for eternal salvation prior to the anabaptists. This is where the FV critics are the liberals and progressives.

    Even Calvin could use baptismal regeneration phrases because he knew that Christianity had always taught it. Nuance it? Sure. Reject it? No way jose.

  134. Xon said,

    February 28, 2007 at 11:07 am

    First, Patrick, thanks for your tone. (It may make me a cheesball, but I’m a bit shell-shocked from the way these discussions sometimes go. Even-keel presentation of arguments is always refreshing.)

    Second, I would agree with Steven in # 133 (just for the record). I thought those very words before I saw that he had already written them.

    As to the substance of your argument in #130, I see now that I was a bit unclear and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify. I agree with you that Lusk sees both kinds of justification being connected in some way to baptism (at least ordinarily, as we have said). So, the decretally elect individual receives his everlasting justification at his baptism in some sense, though only if that baptism is received in faith (which is of course an essential part of the definition of a decretally elect person…they receive the sacraments in faith). But, also, all baptized people receive a “covenantal” kind of justification. So, decretally elect baptized people “get” both kinds of justification, while decretally non-elect baptized people only get the covenantal kind. This clearly seems to be Lusk’s view. I tried to work this into my earlier comment, but didn’t do a good job of it.

    Steven’s expression in #131 is good here. Covenantal salvation is the ordinary means of attaining everlasting salvation. The ordinary way that a decretally elect person enters into their salvation to the uttermost is through becoming a member of the visible church/cov of grace. Just as, for instance, a revivalistic Calvinistic Baptist (I’m not saying you are such a person) might say that the ordinary way a decretally elect person enters into their eternal life is by hearing a sermon and going down front and asking Jesus into their heart. We all believe in ordinary means, whether the Baptist or Patrick Ramsey or the FV proponent. FVers are putting forth a particular understanding of what those ordinary means are. They are that one is saved in a covenantal way, and then continues on by remaining in that covenant BY FAITH until the last day.

    Now, given that this is Lusk’s view, yes in some sense we can say that he is talking about both kinds of salvation (both covenantal and everlasting) in his discussion of baptism in Acts 2. But there are clearly “layers” to the way he is talking about them. Covenantal salvation is the ordinary instrument that brings a person into everlasting salvation, so in that sense any discussion of covenantal salvation is also a discussion about everlasting salvation. But, in another sense, Lusk’s focus is only on covenantal salvation, since this is the only thing that happens directly (and even automatically) at baptism. Baptism is sufficient for covenantal salvation; it is not sufficient for everlasting salvation. It must be accompanied by saving faith in order for the person to enter into everlasting salvation. So, when we talk about baptism and salvation, we are most properly talking about the role baptism plays in the covenantal kind of salvation, and only secondarily (as an ordinary ‘effect,’ or something like that) about its role in everlasting salvation. All salvations come through baptism (for the most part, ordinarily) in an ultimate sense, since baptism leads to covenantal salvation which can then lead to everlasting salvation. But since covenantal salvation does not always lead to everlasting salvation (since it must be accompanied with saving faith), the latter is not a benefit of baptism in the same way that the former is.

    An example for illustration/analogy (skip if not needed): Starting a new wildly successful company is how you get rich, and getting rich is how you have enogh money to help the poor. These are both “good” things.

    Now suppose you go to a career advisor and you tell him that you want to get rich so that you can help the poor. He then tells you this:

    “In order to get good things you need to find some new good or service that people don’t even know they need yet and get yourself in position to be the first to sell it to them.”

    Now, what “good things” is the career counselor talking about? Primarily, he’s obviously talking about the “instrumental good” of getting rich. The way to get rich is to start this new business. That’s what he’s saying. Only secondarily is he talkiing “about” you helping the poor, because while that happens to be what you are going to do with the money you make, that’s not necessarily what all people do with the money they make. He would give the same advice to someone who wanted to get rich in order to buy his mom a new house. The advice is the same–start the successful business–because that is how you get rich. What exactly happens after you get rich differs from one person to another. But, since the counselor knows that you are planning on using your riches to help the poor, then we can if we really want to that he has this “final good” in mind as one of the “good things” he is trying to help you get by telling you about starting a business. But, again, we are only saying this in a much more secondary sense , because the real good thing that he is trying to show you how to get is the riches, not the abiliity to help the poor per se. Make sense?

  135. Xon said,

    February 28, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Oops. In that last paragraph, insert “say” as needed into the antepenultimate sentence. So, “we can say if we really want to that…”

  136. D. Patrick Ramsey said,

    February 28, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Steven: the Reformed doctrine of the necessity of baptism is not baptismal justification. You can’t equate Lusk’s view of baptism with Calvin. See esp. Calvin on Acts 2.

    Xon: You wrote: “Covenantal salvation is the ordinary instrument that brings a person into everlasting salvation”

    So must an elect person be baptized before he is forgiven and justified in the eternal sense (ordinarily of course)?

  137. Xon said,

    March 1, 2007 at 12:25 am

    Patrick, yes. There is no ordinary possibility of salvation (inclusive of
    justification) outside the church (WCF 25) and it is by baptism that we are
    admitted to the church (WCF 28).

    Or, to put it in the language of the church catholic, Lusk (and myself) acknowledges “one baptism for the remission of sins.”

    Let that sit there…..

    Now a few quotes from Lusk for better context.

    Baptism is an effectual means of salvation, as the Confession says. But so, of course, is the preaching of the Word:

    Thus the Word preached and baptism are part of a complex whole, a conglomerate of spiritual events, through which a person is taken out of the old Adamic world and placed into the new Christic world….The Word and the sacraments work together. They must never be opposed. Indeed, there is a kind of equal ultimacy between these means. (Rich Lusk, “Thoughts on Sacramental Efficacy”)

    Also:

    A person who hears the gospel and believes but is not yet baptized may certainly be regarded as justified, at least provisionally, from a certain perspective. But his initial justification is not publicly, covenantally ratified until he is baptized. If something prevents his baptism — hey, God is both just and merciful. There is nothing to worry about. My paper is describing how God ORDINARILY works through the various means of grace to apply salvation. (Rich Lusk, e-mail correspondence)

  138. Kevin said,

    March 1, 2007 at 12:27 am

    A few responses:

    #118 Martin, yes I do hope for from FV written responses, preferably published by a reputable publisher, though I doubt there will be much, if any, forthcoming.

    #119 Xon, you have understood me correctly. Canon and Athanasius are vanity, self-publishing companies. Would any scholar take seriously a self-published book on, say, quantum mechanics or Shakespeare’s sonnets? So why do evangelicals, including the reformed who are reputably better scholars, give such nonsense the time of day? And yes I take even less seriously self-posted responses and blogs (as interesting as they are).

    And while the claims of anti-FV misrepresentation are legion, they remain unconvincing and, yes, whiny. By and large FVers don’t demonstrate misrepresentation; they pile on the posts till everyone else throws up their hands in disgust and loses interest. Just go back through the last month’s worth of Lane’s blog to see if this is not the general trend. Lane has the patience of Job, but even he has his limits.

    #120 Steven W, the two tomes edited by D.A. Carson, and weighing in at over 1,000 pages, not to mention the many other anti-NPP works recently published, can hardly be considered mocking N.T. Wright. I would say demolishing his, and Dunn and Sanders’, arguments would be more apropos.

    #121 Stewart, no I have not posted on the Puritan Board.

    #124 Dave H, yes I have heard of the Wilson-White debate though I have not listened to it. But the fact that Mr. Wilson can occasionally behave himself does not obviate the fact that he enjoys bombastic statements that others might fear would land on them. For the record, why is a man who writes a book entitled Reformed Is Not Enough surprised when reformed scholars suggest that he has misunderstood reformed theology when he says it is not enough? And I am even more puzzled by the FVers in the PCA and OPC who seems to be saying, in essence, that the FV theology is more biblical than the Westminster Standards. Fine, then start your own denomination dedicated to your new interpretation.

    Also, I draw a different conclusion from the Clark-Wilson exchange. My conclusion is that the FVers are very adept at playing dodge ball. Every time you try to nail the collective FV theology, some one of the group claims an exception to that point. An obvious example is the way in which Schlissel’s exception to paedocommunion has been taken to mean that paedocommunion is not an essential point of the FV. (As a side note, I take it to be the virtual litmus test of the FV. If a reformed person supports paedocommunion, he is almost invariably infected with the FV.) At any rate, the advantage that accrues to the FVers from this strategy is that if someone within the group takes an exception to every theological point, they can all claim, in a serial fashion, that each and every characteristic doctrine or practice is not essential to the FV. Such reductionist tactics may confuse the uninformed, but they are getting old. Yes, there are nuances within the group, but there is also a core of doctrine in the FV that is distinctive and outside presbyterian confessional boundaries.

  139. Xon said,

    March 1, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Kevin, what can I say? Every fact fits your theory. You’ve made sure of that.

  140. D. Patrick Ramsey said,

    March 1, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Thanks Xon for your answer and the discussion. You originally asked what is so bad about Lusk on Acts 2. Now you know!

  141. Xon said,

    March 1, 2007 at 11:39 am

    So, Patrick, you deny that the visible church is the ordinary means of salvation for the decretally elect?

  142. Xon said,

    March 1, 2007 at 11:40 am

    I mean, do whatever, but we were kind of having an interesting discusion. An argument for what’s so obviously wrong with Lusk’s position would be nice. It looks okay to me. It isn’t obvious to everyone what your objection is.

  143. Robert K. said,

    March 1, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Kevin’s comments above sum up the matter.

    To what Steven W. (post #133) wrote: “Every Christian ever believed baptism was necessary for eternal salvation prior to the anabaptists. This is where the FV critics are the liberals and progressives.

    Even Calvin could use baptismal regeneration phrases because he knew that Christianity had always taught it. Nuance it? Sure. Reject it? No way jose.”

    Here is Calvin:

    “How much evil has been caused by the dogma, ill expounded, that baptism is necessary to salvation, few perceive, and therefore think caution the less necessary. For when the opinion prevails that all are lost who happen not to be dipped in water, our condition becomes worse than that of God’s ancient people, as if his grace were more restrained than under the Law.” – Calvin, Institutes, Bk. 4, Chp. 15

  144. Steven W said,

    March 1, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Robert K,

    That is hardly the point I was making. Calvin’s allowance for unbaptized persons to be saved is why we use the term “ordinarily” so often in Reformed theology.

    In other places Calvin cay say: “For as God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption, so we have said that he performs the office of a provident parent, in continually supplying the food by which he may sustain and preserve us in the life to which he has begotten us by his word.” (4.17.1)

    The basic summary of a Calvinistic doctrine of baptism is that in baptism God “assures us that all our sins are so deleted, covered, and effaced, that they will never come into his sight, never be mentioned, never imputed.” (4.15.1)

    This is nothing new, and there are plenty in the Continental Reformed tradition that have maintained this view. It must be received in faith, yes, but it still has instrumental efficacy.

  145. Robert K. said,

    March 2, 2007 at 12:18 am

    You wrote: “Every Christian ever believed baptism was necessary for eternal salvation prior to the anabaptists.”

    Calvin wrote: “How much evil has been caused by the dogma, ill expounded, that baptism is necessary to salvation”

    Your extract is from a section on the Lord’s Supper. Calvin is distinguishing what each sacrament represents in reference to each other (regeneration vs. “invisible food”). He most certainly is not speaking of baptismal regeneration. To imply he is, which you are doing by posting this extract in the context you’ve posted it, requires a motive I’ll refrain from speculating on.

  146. Steven W said,

    March 2, 2007 at 12:27 am

    Robert, do you think there might be some equivocation? I would certainly allow for cases where the unbaptized are saved, which is why I allowed for the qualificaiton of “ordinarily,” however, Calvin has plenty of baptismal salvation quotes. Seeing as how no one in the current discussion would have a problem allowing the possiblity of non-baptized persons to be saved, that was not the intent of my original statement.

    You yourself directly contradict Calvin when you say “he most certainly is not speaking of baptismal regeneration.” He might have a different definition of regeneration than what you mean, but he still says that in baptism God regenerates us. You have to read people by their own terms.

  147. Steven W said,

    March 2, 2007 at 12:29 am

    Also, Calvin wasn’t exactly prior to the anabaptists. I wouldn’t want to argue that he watered down his theology, but you haven’t displayed a formal contradiction in my words, even if they were intended in the strictest of fashions.

  148. Robert K. said,

    March 2, 2007 at 1:00 am

    “Er, em, eh, um… Ahem…”

    Ok.

  149. Todd said,

    March 2, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Robert wins! Great conclusion!

  150. Steven W said,

    March 2, 2007 at 9:47 am

    Eh, it is just that Robert’s quote is from a section on “emergency baptisms.” In the context of emergencey baptisms, then yes sure, I agree that baptism is not “necessary” as in one goes to hell if he dies on the way to the font. This really isn’t the point of our current discussion though.

    In accordance with the usual means of grace ie. the church, baptism is necessary, since it is commanded and has promises attached to it. Calvin has plenty of baptismal regeneration, baptismal salvation, baptismal union with christ, baptismal forgviness language. The fact that there are exceptions is pretty normal for Reformed theology. Again, that’s why I included the term “ordinarily.”

    There is such a thing as “normative.” You’ll find that Calvin places his normative thoughts right up front, and he gives the qualifications afterwards. Baptism offers and faith receives- that’s it in a nutshell.

  151. March 2, 2007 at 11:14 am

    In post 138, Kevin said, “(As a side note, I take it to be the virtual litmus test of the FV. If a reformed person supports paedocommunion, he is almost invariably infected with the FV.)”

    The CRCNA has recently allowed churches to practice paedocommunion for similar covenantal reasons, yet most pastors in the CRC haven’t heard of FV, never mind being infected by it.

  152. June 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    […] is reviewing a new book on the Federal Vision, and, if you check out the comments section of this entry, you will find that an ecumenical dialogue of sorts has broken out. Well, not exactly, but I think […]


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