Ego, Repentance, and the Federal Vision

Richard Baxter and John Owen once had a long drawn-out written debate. I don’t remember what the issue was. Owen was by far the better scholar, of course, and there was no way that Baxter would win. He didn’t win. Instead, after receiving a monstrously huge reply from John Owen that simply answered everything Baxter had rejected, Baxter’s response was remarkable. He said something to the effect of, “I should never have taken on John Owen in debate.” Baxter changed his view on the issue in question.

It seems fairly clear (and I think all sides would agree on this) that the FV is under attack. There is extensive written argumentation now on both sides of the debate. It is a parallel situation in many ways with Baxter/Owen. Of course, I personally would put FV in the position of Baxter, and the critics in the place of Owen.

What is the major obstacle to the FV repenting of their views? What is it that is the stumbling block? I believe it is the fact that so much emotional (and other) capital has been invested in the position, that to change one’s position would be seen as weakness on the part of any of the advocates. Almost every minister I know has an ego. I am certainly no exception. And I know that I myself have invested rather a lot of emotional capital in my critical position. And I know that I would personally feel weak if I changed into a FV advocate. I feel like I would lose the respect of many people whom I greatly respect. Probably FV advocates feel the same way.

What I am getting at, though, is that ego should not (though it often is) be the issue. The issue should be the truth. Is it possible to separate these issues? Baxter did it. Wes White did it:

John,
Yes. Indeed, by the grace of God I have changed. Here’s what happened. I was very much into the Federal Vision and Norman Shepherd for several years. I even met with Shepherd and other pastors to discuss all these issues over the course of that time.

Coming out of Wesleyanism (my full name’s John Wesley White), I thought Shepherd’s theology (along with others) was the way to bring Arminianism and Calvinism together. I thought we could all come together in Canterbury with a moderate Calvinism and a strong institutional Church with bishops, high Church liturgy, and sacramentalism.

Then, the Lord hit me over the head with the idolatry of high Church Anglicanism. I was ready to join the Reformed Episcopal Church in seminary. I visited one of their affiliate Churches, and they had incense burning to crucifixes, prayers to and for the dead, idols of Mary, the mass, etc. It sickened my soul. In that moment, I understood the whole point of the Reformation. They were contending that the Gospel itself and hence Christ had priority over the institutional Church. In the over-exaltation of sacraments, the liturgy, the robes, the purportedly apostolically-descended bishops, something was lost, and what was lost was Christ and the Gospel.

After that rude awakening, I began to think that these old reformers had a point. So, I thought I might actually read them instead of looking in them for snippets to prove my point. I read Francis Turretin, Heinrich Heppe, Wollebius, Francis Pieper (to understand the Lutherans), and others. I found that these people actually understood both the errors of modern evangelicalism and the papacy and steared a Biblical course right down the middle (with Lutheranism slightly veering in the wrong direction!).

In regards to Shepherd, from that moment on my opposition obviously began. I studied him again over the past year as well as the justification controversies of the 16th and 17th century. I’ve come to the conclusion that Shepherd’s view track not primarily with Rome but with the Sociniano-Remonstrant viewpoint. I argued this at length in the recent Mid-America Journal of Theology.

Finally, the main point of all this is that whatever I counted gain before I know count as loss for the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ and to be found in Him not having a righteousness of my own from the law but a righteousness that is from God and by faith. When I hear the law, I do run in terror from it because on the basis of the law I have no righteousness before God and am damned eternally, and I do run to the Gospel because in Christ I have all that I need for an eternal and everlasting salvation.

Shepherd turns us away from Christ and unto ourselves, and this is what the FV, following him, also tends to do. I pray, John, that you will come to see that. And, of course, I still see it yet imperfectly, and what I need to learn each day more and more is that I have no righteousness of my own and a perfect one in Christ and so truly live as one who boasts only in the cross of Christ.

So, this is a call for repentance for FV advocates. I believe that the truth of the matter lies with the critics, who are rightly interpreting the Word of God, and the WS. It is no shame to change one’s position to the truth. (I am presupposing the truth of the critic’s position, of course. I have argued for this rather extensively on my blog.) In fact, one would gain the respect of the majority of the Reformed world, not lose it.

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316 Comments

  1. David Ponter said,

    March 29, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Green Says: Of course, I personally would put FV in the position of Baxter, and the critics in the place of Owen.

    David says: Well when I first saw that I was amazed. Can you give any information to back this up? You couldnt even remember the issue? Come on Green, surely you can see how gratuitous your statement here is? If you just throw out there accusations like this, sweeping generalisations, you will lose credibility for any historical work you propose.

    Take care,
    David

  2. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    This is ridiculous, David. You completely misinterpreted my intentions. The analogy was a general analogy based on the situation. The point is Baxter’s repentance, which happened, and the issue of what it was they were debating is completely irrelevant to my point.

  3. David Ponter said,

    March 29, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Hey Green,

    I am not trying to be rediculous.

    Okay, so you are saying their debate is *like* this modern debate.

    Thats the only association you were trying to make… okay… but

    why? What point does it serve? Why introduce Owen and Baxter? You could’nt even recall the issue? Your use of them as an introduction has served nothing. I think you could have worded that a little better.

    But thanks for the clarification. I have powered down my phaser canons (Hobbits sometimes carry phaser weapons;-)

    David

  4. Craig Phelps said,

    March 29, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    “In fact, one would gain the respect of the majority of the Reformed world, not lose it.” With a salute and open arms.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    The reason I introduced Baxter was because of his amazing humility and willingness to admit that he was wrong and that Owen was right. The implied contrast is with FV advocates who are never, ever, ever, ever willing to admit that any of the tiniest details of their writings (their own or any of the other FV advocates) could *possibly* be in error. So, in a sense, I am calling on FV advocates for them to have the humility of Baxter.

  6. Matt said,

    March 29, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Okay,
    You are so sweet so I decided to repent.
    Feel better? :)

  7. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Absolutely, Matt. Although the issue here, of course, is not my own feelings, but the truth. Are you truly being serious?

  8. David Ponter said,

    March 29, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Hey Green,

    Okay thanks. The association just threw me when I first read it. I appreciate your clarification.

    David

  9. Tim Wilder said,

    March 29, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    “I’ve come to the conclusion that Shepherd’s view track not primarily with Rome but with the Sociniano-Remonstrant viewpoint. I argued this at length in the recent Mid-America Journal of Theology.”

    This is right on the money. Is this Mid-America journal available anywhere to real people, or is locked up in seminary libraries?

  10. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Tim, the article will eventually be published on the internet. If you want a copy, email me and I will mail it to you.

  11. pdugi said,

    March 29, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    So the FV is Baxter (the presbyetrians who held to the WCF) and the critics are Owen (someone who LEFT prebsyetriansims to form Independency and write a new confession). And that comparison helps you how?

  12. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Paul, you are reading way too much into the comparison. The issue was one on which Baxter was wrong and Owen was right. Their church polity views were utterly irrelevant to the argument. I think the issue was justification.

  13. Wes White said,

    March 29, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    RE: Baxter’s views.

    Actually, I think that the comparison is far more apt than Lane may realize. Baxter was pressing just these sorts of issues. He said that he was not a Calvinist and not an Arminian. He held a similar view to the Arminians on justification.

    If anyone is interested you can read the excellent book on it by Hans Boersma. It is entitled A Hot Peppercorn: Richard Baxter’s Doctrine of Justification in Historical Context. His discussion of the active/passive obedience issue is helpful. He shows how Baxter went beyond those who denied the IAO.

    If you have trouble finding the book, check out Antiqbook.com. It was published by Boekencentrum, so most copies available are in the Netherlands. I should add, though, that it is in English!

  14. tim prussic said,

    March 29, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    I think it far more to the point to call EVERYONE in the FV debate to repentence, not just the sinners on the FV side. Just that call being addressed to only FVes itself seems prideful. It sound like: “We’re right. You’re wrong. Repent!”

    In reality, we all need to repent of many things for we all stumble in many ways. In fact, we’ve all stumbled in many ways IN THIS VERY debate and discussion. Let us repent togethet, both of unbiblical doctrine (where it’s found) and unbiblical attitudes (where they’re found).

  15. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Well, Tim, I was certainly not trying to sound prideful. I have no doubt that the critics’ side has many things of which they (and I) need to repent, lack of charity probably being number 1. But we do not need to repent of our views. I would argue (and have argued) that the FV need to repent of their views, even though they have sometimes been more charitable than the critics have been. I see those kinds of things as different issues, however.

  16. Todd said,

    March 29, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Lane, why aren’t you actively encouraging the critics to repent of lack of charity? Or can we expect that side of things in a future post?

    And you also mention your own need to repent. Why do you hesitate? I think there are many reading this who will be more than willing to forgive you.

  17. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    I would actively encourage critics to repent of lack of charity. Did I not do so in mentioning it? I hereby repent of lack of charity. I don’t hesitate. That being said, what is charity? Calling on someone to repent of serious doctrinal error is hardly uncharitable, but rather charitable, don’t you think? Then the question comes back (again!) to whether the FV is error or not. I do not repent of the argumentation I have made attempting to show that the FV is doctrinally in error.

    If a doctor were to tell a patient that the patient has cancer and needs to undergo treatment for it, and the patient calls out, “Why were you so uncharitable in telling me that I have cancer,” would we not say that such a person is off their rocker? Telling the person they have cancer is the most charitable thing the doctor can do. The question is this: was the doctor right? Of course, even if the doctor is wrong, one cannot necessarily impute (!) lack of charity to him. Doctors can be wrong. They are, after all, finite. But, on his best diagnosis, he tells the patient what he thinks the patient needs.

    Todd, why are FV folk immune to repentance from wrong doctrine? Why aren’t you encouraging people to repent of their FV views?

  18. Darth Andy said,

    March 29, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Wes is correct, and the analogy to the current situation is even more apt than most realize. Baxter was one of the post-restoration English Presbyterians who espoused a neonomian view of Justification. Richard Traill was writing against exactly this view in his classic work “Justification Vindicated” a review of which is available online here:

    http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?1098

    Sadly, the English Presbyterians, by and large followed the neonomian theologians like Baxter all the while arguing for greater liberty and latitude in doctrinal matters and continued their decline throughout the 17th century, eventually ending up as full-blown Unitarians in the 18th.

    I think we are seeing now that the FV is just a new instance of the same kind of theological declension that typically occurs amongst Calvinists, and frankly there aren’t too many new ways to decline. That’s why FV theology has so many similarities to the theology of the Remonstrants, Neonomians, and Mercersburg theologians. Nihil Novi Sub Sole.

  19. Jon said,

    March 29, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Todd,

    Your attempt to redirect the debate and deflect it away from the error of FV advocates is shrewd. However the point at issue is the error being perpetuated daily by those in the FV. The fact that we all need to repent daily for any number of sins is a different issue. Stay on point.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Good to see you on the blog, Andy, and welcome. In case any were wondering, “Darth Andy” is Andrew Webb, of the Warfield List.

  21. Todd said,

    March 29, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    No, Jon. Lane brought up other issues, and I, as is my custom, asked a couple of follow-up questions. I didn’t introduce any new material.

  22. Jon said,

    March 29, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    If you say so Todd.

  23. pdugi said,

    March 29, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    “the same kind of theological declension that typically occurs amongst Calvinists”

    I wonder why its so common to occur in calvinists?

    Their prediliction for systematizing?

    Their commitment to reforming biblically, isntead of sticking with old forms?

    Their recogniztion of the noetic effects of sin, even in confession writers?

    What should calvinism purge itself of to avoid these kind of declines? What aspects of calvinism spin off in these directions?

  24. pdugi said,

    March 29, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    “Doctor, I have this lump on my back”

    “You clearly have cancer. Lemme get my axe and hack it out. This lump, here?”

    “no, that’s my shoulderblade, it’s supposed to be there”

    “No, it looks like it’s the cancer to me. If your arm falls off after I whack it, we’ll know I was wrong…”

  25. Todd said,

    March 29, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    “Todd, why are FV folk immune to repentance from wrong doctrine?”

    I don’t think I understand this question. Immune to repentance?

    “Why aren’t you encouraging people to repent of their FV views?”

    Simple. No blog!

  26. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    What I mean is that no FV proponent has repented yet of the errors held. The ego gets in the way. It seems humanly impossible for any FV proponent to repent of their views.

    Get a blog.

  27. tim prussic said,

    March 29, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Jon, I don’t think that broadening the view of a call to repentance is exactly changing the subject. The call to repentence WAS the subject. A call to all involved is a glorious idea. I, for one, fall into the FV camp on certain issues and disagree on others. I certainly want to protect the doctrine of justification through faith alone and I do see that some FVers are, at best, handling that doctrine very carelessly. I also see a lot of sinful attitudes on both sides.
    These are things that need to be repented of and I heartily encourage the call to all quarters of this discussion.
    We should always be ready to learn, especially from the brethren.

  28. tim prussic said,

    March 29, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    GB, what do you think of Wilson’s consistent interaction with anti-FVs? What do you think of his MANY clarifications. You may retort that conversation is not repentance. True enough. However, a willingness to discuss, refine, and interact certainly shows a good bit of love for the unity of the church that the heretic-accusation-slinging folk do not exhibit. I’d be quite interested to know if Wilson has moved on any position since the beginning of the hubbub.

    Regarding some of the other FV guys, I do think you’re correct, GB, repentance is not forthcoming and it needs to be.

  29. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Well, I have said before that I don’t think that DW has nearly as many problems as the rest of the FV. But two problems stand out: 1. He will not stand up and call on Steve Wilkins (whom I think is the most dangerously off of the lot) to repent, but keeps on defending him; and 2. his view of the visible/invisible church distinction is incorrect. I think his fundamental stance on justification is okay.

    For a refutation of DW on the church, see Wes’s article here:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/the-church-its-definition-in-terms-of-visible-and-invisible-valid/

    For a refutation of Wilkins’s theology, see here:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/01/03/federal-vision-index/

    and see everything under the title of Wilkins’s exam.

  30. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Paul, for you to say that the FV distinctives belong to the body, and are not an aberration is simply off.

  31. March 29, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Might I ask: exactlly who (in the “FV” movment) needs to repent of what?

  32. Darth Andy said,

    March 29, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    A few quick questions and observations:

    1) At what point *are* we allowed to identify a viewpoint as heretical? When every Reformed denomination under the sun (rather than simply 3 or 4 or 5) has done so? When the people suspected of Heresy agree that they are in fact Heretics? Never?

    When have we ever before seen the bar set at a point where having several Reformed denominations, several seminaries, several presbyteries, and most of the major Reformed theologians is still insufficient to declare something “out of accord with scripture and the confessions?” Is heresy now something we need unanimous consent on, or is it simply a word we are never going to be allowed to use again lest we run the risk of offending someone somewhere in the Reformed world? Should the participants at Dordt have repented of their over-hastiness?

    Funny how we demand a much lower bar when it comes to being able to call Benny Hinn a heretic. I’ve yet to see a single denominational study committee report on him.

    2) The general historical rule of thumb is that while they are in the minority, the people suspected of heretical opinions loudly proclaim that all they want is “toleration” and to be left alone to teach and believe what they want. However, once they come to power, they generally are quick to make sure conformity with their opinion is enforced. This happened, for instance, in the PCUS, the PCUSA, and the Scottish Church.

    3) I’m searching hard for an example of where the Apostles treated people they considered to be heretics in a warm, cuddly, friendly and eager to fellowship kind of way and counseled others to do likewise, but I’m not finding them. Can anyone find me the “its a good idea to be as nice as possible to the wolves teaching perverse doctrines” section of the bible? Also, a scripture reference for the call to repent of calling heretics heretics would help out.

  33. pduggie said,

    March 29, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Darth:

    1) You’re allowed to try to identify a viewpoint as heretical. You should make sure that what you say is actually the view of the person, not just some imagined trajectory or hidden motive they are alleged to have. Its also good if you use detailed exegesis and respond in detail, to exegesis offered.

    2) is that the case with views on the length of creation days?

    3) every issue the apostles dealt with was a gospel issue. None of Paul’s opponents went around saying “We agree with the same confession Paul does”.

    The apostles did counsel everyone to respond with gentleness to those going astray. And we do see, however, Jesus counseling the apostles to cool it when they wanted to condemn people who confessed Christ but weren’t “with them” in the same organizational structure.

  34. pduggie said,

    March 29, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    I was a bahsensian theonomist for about half a year. I changed. I didn’t “repent” to anyone, since I thought B. made a good case his views were reformed and biblical. And they were pretty close. I certainly wouldn’t try to get anyone who held to B’s view out of office, unless they made some HUGE deal about how it was the only way to think.

    I';m pretty sure shclissel uses intemperate language, but I’m willing to overlook it since his critics are worse. Its like lutherans arguing calvinists into views they shouldn’t have held (or vice versa: Joel showed me an example of that historically I don’t recall now: the pheonomenon is a critic makes some outrageous dogs breakfast of a mans views, and the man ends up adopting the travesty because the argument is so fierce… its happened)

    “Paul, for you to say that the FV distinctives belong to the body, and are not an aberration is simply off.”

    Did I say that in the “cancer post” or the one wondering why Calvinism has a tendency to go rotten? (Sam Logan taught me that one: Ramist logic pushed Calvinists into unitarianism)

    My point in the cancer post is that its not uncharitable to tell a man he has cancer, but it is uncharitable to insist that a man has cancer, and administer a cure for cancer, when he has something else.

  35. Lee said,

    March 29, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    pdugie,
    How did Ramist logic push Calvinists into unitarianism?
    Since Ramism was rejected by most Calvinisits (Ursinus and Beza to name a few), exactly what do mean?

    Just wondering what you had against Ramist logic?

  36. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 7:07 am

    Lane writes: “I hereby repent of lack of charity. I don’t hesitate.”

    Are you willing to be moe specific? Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins, particularly.

  37. March 30, 2007 at 8:15 am

    Wilson admitted to Mike Horton on the White Horse Inn that he was aware that there were a number of different positions amongst the Federal Visionists themselves. He also said that his take on NT Wright was not necessarily the same as that of Rich Lusk, who has written high praise for Wright’s position on justification and the ‘pesty’ issue of imputation.Contra Wilson public statements, Lusk, like Shepherd, dismisses the WCF on the Covenant of Works and not only throws out the doctrine of active obedience, but speaks of not even needing any kind of imputation. Like Shepherd and Wright, a number of the FVers hold to a two-fold justification with the final justification being determined by works with an appeal to Romans 2:13. These representatives of the FV likewise define saving faith as ‘covenantal faithfulness’ and come up with a catagory they call ‘non-elect covenant member’ or ‘the believing non-elect’ who, according to Lusk and Wilkins are by virtue of their baptism, grafted into Christ ,and for a period of time temporarily possess all the redemptive blessings ( including the forgiveness of sins) the elect have -save for the grace of perservence. When these positons are given their due comeuppance by the FV critics , Wilson goes into a rage accusing us of distortion, misrepresentation, slander and the like. In Wilson’s eyes NONE of the criticisms of ANY of the representatives of the FV has any merit( pun intended).It does not matter who it is, or what kind of credentials they might have, be Guy Waters, the members of the OPC study report ( which include Dick Gaffin), Scott Clark, Mike Horton, Bob Godfrey and the entire faculty of Westminster Calif along with the faculties of Greenville Presbyterian, and Knox seminaries or Lig Duncan and the study committee of the PCA- in Wilson’ eyes we are all lack the ability to either understand or appreciate the insights of the FV. Futhermore, since we do not recognize the value of these innovations , and actually have the audacity to charge these men with error ,Wilson carries on a scathing personal vendetta against anyone who dares question ANYTHING related to the views of the FV.

  38. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 8:35 am

    “Like Shepherd and Wright, a number of the FVers hold to a two-fold justification with the final justification being determined by works with an appeal to Romans 2:13.”

    I’m hoping you might be willing to answer a question here, Gary. How would you distinguish the view you’ve summarized here from Gaffin’s view? Or do you see them as the almost the same? Do you understand Romans 2 the way Gaffin does?

    Here’s a more general question. In your view, Gary, how important is it for a theological opponent to believe he’s been represented accurately and honestly by a critic?

  39. March 30, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Todd
    I told you this earlier- go read the OPC study report-Gaffin helped draft it. Here is a question for you to ponder- are there ANY issues advanced under the banner of the FV that concern you, and are ALL of the critics of the FV off-base?

  40. Ken Christian said,

    March 30, 2007 at 8:48 am

    (Hi Lane – Long time reader, first time poster. Thanks for the entertaining blog)

    Mr Johnson – Are you trying to say that the category of “non-elect covenant member” is an invention of FV guys? Surely I’m misreading you. After all, WLC 166 seems to allow for this category when it says, “but infants descended from parents, either both or but one of them professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are, in that respect, within the covenant, and to be baptized.” Certainly the divines didn’t think that all children of believers are elect, yet they did say they’re in the covenant of grace. You’re not denying this are you?

    That said, I might have misunderstood you altogether. Please clarify for me if you get time.

  41. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 9:03 am

    But my question was for you, Gary, not for Gaffin or the OPC committee. Seriously. Have you read the new Gaffin book?

    As for you question to me–yes, I have plenty of concerns about certain FV formulations.

    And how about my other question: In your view, how important is it for a theological opponent to believe he’s been represented accurately and honestly by a critic?

  42. March 30, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Ken
    If you will go over to Scott Clark’s Heidelblog and check the archives for a post I wrote entitled ‘ A Question for Federal Visionists Everywhere’ . The difference between what the WFC and the views of Lusk and Wilkins are significant. Lusk and Wilkins, despite their claims to the contary ,are advancing a form of Arminianism- what is ‘lost’ in their scheme constitues the very essence of salvation.Yet, this does not appear to trouble Wilson , a self-proclaimed ‘High-Calvinist’ in the very least.

  43. March 30, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Todd
    Well, I can’t say that I have read all of your comments on this blog- but please do direct me to any place where you have expressed ‘ concerns’ over the FV- as far as I can tell you appear to always be in their corner, so to speak.

  44. Ken Christian said,

    March 30, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Mr. Johnson,

    I’ll be happy to go read your post when I get a minute. But I’m still wondering about the question I asked earlier. To put it another way, do you believe there is no such thing as a “non-elect covenant member” in any sense?

    Thanks so much – Ken

  45. March 30, 2007 at 9:29 am

    Ken
    No, there is not such a catagory as defined by the FV where such people are said to be ‘grafted into Christ’, which is how Lusk and Wilkins define the covenantal status of these non-elect covenant members. In the WFC ‘Union with Christ’ is reserved only for those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Contra Shepherd and his followers in the FV, justification cannot be ‘lost’ because it is linked with regeneration which in turn is absolutely critical for understanding the nature of Union with Christ. In the FV scheme of these men the only difference between this group labeled ‘non-elect covenant member( which they also call’ ‘the believing non-elect’ , which describes a class of people other than infants) and the geniune elect is the grace of perserverance- that is it. I find this more than just a bit off the mark, it is reprehensible.

  46. Ken Christian said,

    March 30, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Mr. Johnson

    I see what you’re getting at now. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

    If you’ll allow me to ask one more, could you please point me to a reference (link, page number, even book title) where Shepherd says that individual, elect-style justification (i.e. Westminster defined justification) can be lost? And if you know of any place where an FV guy says that, I’d appreciate it if you could show me where.

    Thanks again, sir. -Ken

  47. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Ken, have you read through the index of Federal Vision posts on this blog, especially the Wilkins exam, and Wes’s paper on Norman Shepherd?

  48. March 30, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Ken
    I was a student at WTS during the Shepherd controversy. He openly admitted that this was his view, it first came to light at a meeting which came to be known later as ‘the Downingtown Conference. Those present were Ed Clowney, then the president of the seminary, Shepherd, Gaffin, Godfrey, Strimple, Kline all faculty members and librarian Leslie Sloat ( I had Gaffin, Godfrey, Strimple and Kline as professors). It was at this meeting that Shepherd let the cat out of the bag by saying that in his understanding of the nature of saving faith involving ‘covenantal faithfulness’ , it was entirely possible for a person to lose their justification. For all the particulars cf. A. Donald MacLeod, W. STANFORD REID:AN EVANGELICAL CALVINIST IN THE ACADEMY (McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press,2004)pp.257-279.

  49. Ken Christian said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Lane, I have read and listened to the Wilkins exam. I haven’t read your commentary. And I skimmed Wes’ paper (you mean the one just posted right?).

    As I understood the answers Wilkins gave when he was examined, he was in no way saying that a Westminster-defined justification could ever be lost, once truely possesed by an indivdual. Now he did seem to allow for the losing of a another, more corporate type of justification. And, of course, many good men are going to disagree on wheter such a temporary, corporate justification even exists. But I think we all need to admit that, in Steve’s mind anyways, Westminister-defined justification and this “corporate justification” are not the same thing. His Presbytery, which remains in good standing, certainly saw that to be the case.

    As for Wes’ paper on Shepherd, I don’t remember him showing us where Shepherd says that Westminster-defined justification can be lost. Could anyone refresh my memory?

    -Ken

  50. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Gary, no you haven’t missed anything. I don’t believe I’ve shared any of my concerns about FV stuff here on Lane’s blog. I’ve been asking other kinds of questions.

  51. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Oh, wait, I keep forgetting: Wes’s paper on Shepherd hasn’t been published on the net yet. It was published in the Mid-America Journal of Theology ‘2006. He has said that it will be available perhaps next week. I guarantee that I will be one of the first to know, and I will publish a link to it immediately as it becomes available. That being said, Wes’s argument about the Socinian/Remonstrant affinity of Shepherd’s views ought to be sufficient all by itself to prove the point.

    On Wilkins, I would recommend the seriously detailed and logical debate that Xon and I had here and here:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/01/07/rejoinder-to-jonathan-barlow/

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/01/15/continuation-of-the-debate-with-xon/

    These were the most fruitful debates I have ever had with an FV proponent. The upshot is that the parallel soteriology of the FV doesn’t square with the WS (imo), and ultimately contradicts the WS definition of justification and the other soteric benefits.

    Todd, it’s jolly well about time for you to voice your concerns about the FV. I have been waiting for months. You can hardly say that such voicings of concerns would be irrelevant.

  52. Ken Christian said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Mr. Johnson,

    Hmm…I’m confused. I’m a former student of John Frame and Rick Gamble, who I believe were also faculty at Westminster during the Shepherd fiasco. It seems reasonable to suppose that they were at this meeting too. Yet both of these men regularly defended Shepherd’s orthodoxy to me and my classmates. Could they have missed something so obvious?

    Also, if Shepherd so obviously believed justification could be lost, then why would Gaffin publically endorse one of his books year later (The Call of Grace)? From my perspective, the evidence you’ve offered so far seems little more than hearsay. Am I missing something?

    And to anyone who thinks Shepherd is a vile heretic, where are some quotes from Shepherd himself where he clearly affirms that Westminster-defined justification can be lost once it is possessed by an individual?

    Thanks to everyone for their help.

  53. Ken Christian said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Thanks for those links, Lane.

  54. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Ken, as I have said, the Socinian nature of Shepherd’s views makes justification dependent on works as at least a parallel instrument of justification. If it is in any way based on works, then there is no possibility of it being unlosable.

    The larger (and far worse) problem in Shepherd’s theology is his making works to be part of justification. Again, see Wes’s paper in MJT ’06 for confirmation of this. If you don’t have access to it, then email me your email, and I will send you a copy.

  55. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:46 am

    “Todd, it’s jolly well about time for you to voice your concerns about the FV.”

    Nah. It’s definitely not time, jolly or not.

  56. Ken Christian said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:46 am

    Lane, I would appreciate an email copy. You can see my address right? Thanks.

  57. March 30, 2007 at 10:51 am

    Ken
    Please consult MacLeod’s book on Reid. There were a number of other faculty that were not invited to this particular meeting. By the way, like Gaffin, Gamble has also distanced himself fron Shepherd’s ever evolving position. It appears that the only one left still on Shepherd’s side is Frame, but even he has expressed reservations i.e. over Shepherd’s rejection of the CoW and the AO of Christ.

  58. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Well, Todd, if it isn’t time now, then there will never be a time. I cannot believe that, regarding issues this important, you are holding back on what you think are problems in the FV.

    Just sent it, Ken.

  59. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Gary, do you approve of Gaffin’s treatment of Romans 2 in his new book?

  60. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Sure, Todd, change the subject. Great tactic.

  61. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:56 am

    “I cannot believe that, regarding issues this important, you are holding back on what you think are problems in the FV.”

    Believe it, man. One of the things I’m most eager to see is interaction with the FV guys’ *responses* to the OPC report. People love to quote Lusk’s “redundant” remark, but no one seems to interact with what has come since then. No one seems to know that he has withdrawn that statement.

  62. March 30, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Todd
    First , you tell us your heart-felt concerns about the FV

  63. Ken Christian said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Mr. Johnson, thanks for your help. Are you referencing Frame’s intro to the Backbone of the Bible (?) book? I read that too. You’re right about Frame’s disagreement with Shepherd on those points. Still, he was quite vehement towards anyone who would label Shepherd a heretic. Anyway. Interesting point about Gamble, I hadn’t heard that. Haven’t talked with him in over 4 years.

    Can anyone point me in the direction of the most recent summary of Shepherds views, by Shepherd himself I mean?

  64. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Change the subject? Dude! It’s the second or third time I’ve asked him about this subject today. That’s not counting the last time it came up here. FV critics are acknowledging that Murray is a bad guy — why not Gaffin?

  65. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Yes, Todd. You are extremely fond of pecking away at someone else’s outstretched neck, but will never stick out your own (only to find out, of course, that if you did in this instance, you would hardly be criticized).

  66. Ken Christian said,

    March 30, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Sorry about the bold.

    Lane, I got your email. Thanks so much. One last request: could you send me the link to where you point out the Socinian nature of Shepherd’s views? That’s my last request. I promise!

  67. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 11:00 am

    “First , you tell us your heart-felt concerns about the FV.”

    Ugh. I was afraid that it would get childish next. Too bad.

  68. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Ken, the latest book _Call of Grace_ is the most thorough summary of his views of which I know. Shepherd is hardly a prolific author. There are a few papers and tapes available after the Call of Grace. But he hasn’t substantively changed his views on anything of which I am aware.

  69. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Whatever, Todd.

  70. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Shephed wrote four papers in reponse to the OPC report.

  71. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 11:10 am

    For our benefit, they are where, Todd?

  72. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 11:14 am

    http://www.federal-vision.com

    “Just because they have a website, it doesn’t mean they’re a movement.”

    Does anyone ever respond to these responses?

  73. Tim Wilder said,

    March 30, 2007 at 11:35 am

    “Ken, as I have said, the Socinian nature of Shepherd’s views makes justification dependent on works as at least a parallel instrument of justification. If it is in any way based on works, then there is no possibility of it being unlosable.”

    While Socianian and Remonstrant views have similarities, I think that the more exact affinity to Shepherd is the Remonstrants. The Socianians believed that God forgave based on sheer mercy. Arminianism is a convenant substition scheme. Under a covenant substitution scheme Christ buys us an easier covenant. So we no longer have to keep the terms of Covenant of Works, but only the terms of the New Covenant for which the condition (work) is faith. There are also faith+ schemes such as those of the British moralism that C. FitzSimons Allison writes about (The Rise of Moralism: The Proclamation of the Gospel from Hooker to Baxter), where faith plus doable works are required. Where there is a faith or a faith+ scheme, these are the works that are the condition of the covenant of the Arminian type.

    In this case a distinction has to be made between the sins that count because they are covenant breaking and the ones that don’t. We see movement in this direction from some FV people, as with Schlissel’s insistance that the law is “doable” (he can keep it, but only because some sins don’t count as breaking the covenant), and Jordan’s distinction between “high-handed” sins and the others. Then, because the covenant gets broken, you get your covenant renewal services, with rituals by the mediatorial priesthood of clergy. The people become dependent for their salvation on this sacramental cycle, and of course on the clergy who are the ones who can make it happen. This is where the juice is for the FVers.

  74. Tim Wilder said,

    March 30, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Todd said:

    “Does anyone ever respond to these responses?”

    Do you want them too? This is where Shepherd told the OPC to dump the Westminster Confession because it is wrong. So much for all the ink spilled by people like Mark Horne trying to prove that Shepherd is confessional. Shepherd destroyed the FVs claim for a legitimate place in confessional Presbyterian churches.

  75. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    “This is where Shepherd told the OPC to dump the Westminster Confession because it is wrong.”

    Not quite a direct quote, of course. Can you provide one?

    I’ll ask again: how important is it for a theological opponent to believe he’s been represented accurately and honestly by a critic?

  76. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    I’ll provide a direct quotation for Tim’s assertion. From part 3, pg 4 of Shepherd’s response.

    “My suggestion to the OPC would be to substitute the Heidelberg Catechism for the Westminster Confession.”

  77. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    That’s the one.

  78. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    And Todd, since no FV proponent has *ever* been represented fairly by *any* critic, how much credibility do you think that FV proponents have in the eyes of the critics, when the critics are constantly being told that they are morons, idiots, slanderers (Shepherd says that one explicitly in his response, part 2, pg. 2) and just about every other name under the sun (see Bill Smith’s response as well). So, no, I don’t think that the critics have to wait around for the next 6 millennia for one FV proponent to say, “Oh, wait, you might possibly have a point there.” It’s *never* going to happen. But then, intellectual honesty has never been a hallmark of FV proponents, either, since they are doing everything they can to convince people that they are confessional, when they are not. Okay, call this a rant. Deal with it.

  79. pdugi said,

    March 30, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    “speaks of not even needing any kind of imputation.”

    You meant “speaks of everything imputation does by speaking of Union”

  80. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Paul, we’ve been over this before. The RCC speaks of union with Christ. Union with Christ is therefore not a substitute, nor does it make imputation redundant. The RCC affirmed union with Christ, while denying imputation. Therefore, union with Christ is not a substitute for imputation. I’ll argue up one side and down the other than union with Christ *grounds* imputation, and prevents imputation from being a legal fiction. But I will deny up one side, down the other, shouting from the housetops that union with Christ in no way, shape, or form, makes imputation redundant. You really need to shed this poor theology, Paul.

  81. tim prussic said,

    March 30, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Wait, wait, wait…. Todd’s post (#61) says that an FV guy DID repent of something. I’d like to hear more about that. First, cuz I didn’t know it, and second, cuz this whole string is about how the FVers won’t repent. Todd, would you fill me in?

    With regard to Shepherd’s _The Call of Grace_, I found it confusing. I certainly understood some of it (I also found myself in agreement with a good bit of it), but I couldn’t understand his railing against the notion of merit. He never seemed to explain it (same with Lusk), he just denounced “merit” numerous times. I thought it would’ve been more helpful if he had give reasons why he rejects “merit,” or even what he means by the word. This is something I’ve gone round and round with folks about and cannot seem to get traction.

  82. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Tim, that is because FV folk will not admit of any kind of merit, but will knee-jerk react and say, “Merit is a Roman Catholic invention, therefore it’s wrong.” Everyone talked about merit in the days of the Reformation. See this post for proof:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2006/07/07/merit-in-the-reformed-fathers/

    But the RCC talked of the treasury of merits that the patriarchs and saints have built up, and by which we can obtain salvation (either by their merit, or our own). The Reformed folk talked of merit by pact. God bound Himself (graciously) to Adam that Adam would earn (merit by pact or agreement) eternal life. Christ, on the other hand, merits salvation for us absolutely (the so-called condign merit). But the FV folk will insert works into the CoG and grace into the CoW, such that there is only one covenant from Adam to now.

  83. March 30, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Dear Tim,
    You don’t know me so let me introduce myself: I am Rogers Meredith, Pastor of Christ Reformed Church CREC (candidate). I have been “associated” with the CREC since 2002 and prior to that I attended seminary at Toronto Baptist Seminary where as part of my program studied New Testament under Dr. Don Garlington (PhD, Durham). Now I realize that those may be two strikes against me, but maybe not.
    I do want to say that your above statement seems to be a very bad, if not inaccurate, “cartoon” of what some in the F.V. have said.
    Now I am willing to admit I may be wrong or uninformed, but to suggest, as you do, that this distinction between “sins that count and don’t count” is a distinct feature of the FV seems wrong. As far as I know (and again I may be wrong), the distinction is between apostasy and perseverance.

  84. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Rogers, please distinguish between Tim Wilder and Tim Prussic. I assume you are referring to comment 73. It would be helpful to refer to comment number, rather than name, as most names who comment on this blog have more than one of that name.

  85. March 30, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks, I will do that. I was thinking of Tim Wilder # 73.

  86. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    I’m sure that Tim Wilder will provide quotation that supports his position. It seems to me that I did read this somewhere, but I cannot remember exactly where at the moment.

  87. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Welcome to my blog, Rogers, by the way. :-)

  88. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Tim, I don’t think my #61 was about repentance. Instead, it was me declining Lane’s challenge to list the disagreements I have with certain FV formulations.

  89. David McCrory said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Todd, I don’t understand your hesitation to post your disagreements. We might learn something from them. Do you have a vested interest in FV?

  90. Tim Wilder said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    “With regard to Shepherd’s _The Call of Grace_, I found it confusing. … I couldn’t understand his railing against the notion of merit. …”

    First, _The Call of Grace_ IS confusing. It is written in an ambiguous manner. I asked a friend and protege of Shepherd’s what Shepherd was trying to do, and he just made a snaky motion with his hand. That sums it up. I would read a paragraph and think ‘Shepherd says A, that implies B, which is Arminian.’ Then I would read a gain and see that actually there was a possible, though less likely, meaning that was different, and so on all through the book.

    But on the merit question, this is where the cheating really takes place.

    A covenant is an agreement that two parties are pledged to taking the form of a promise by one party to do something on conditions that the other party is to meet. The terms of the covenant, what the second party must perform (works), are linked to the promise in the sense that the covenant stipulates that if the second party does the works the second party is entitled to receive the thing promised by the first party.

    The definition of merit is a title in strict justice. A covenant is a legal instrument that defines when one party has a title in strict justice to something, namely just in case the terms of the covenant are kept (the works are performed). Therefore, merit is intrinsic to a covenant. Merit is the relation of the promise to the conditions. Where there is no merit there is no covenant. On the other hand, it is the covenant that causes the merit to exist.

    In the case of Adam the covenant is a condescension that God makes to man to bring into existence a reciprocal judicial relationship–to bring into creation a legal order–that did not exist by the mere fact of the creator/creature relationship. This, by the way also also the proper starting place for a theology of culture, and not the so-called common grace of Kuyper and his followers.

    So the question “Is faith a work?” has to be answered this way: Does the covenant say that it is? The FV people make a lot of effort to try to show that the real condition (the works) of the covenants is faith, from Adam on, so that faith becomes the pre-eminent work of works.

    In the Federal Vision we have a claim to have a covenant theology without merit, which is impossible by definition. But then we see that covenant comes to be redefined by them as some sort of relationship, maybe like a family, maybe like the inner being of the Trinity, or something. Yet at the same time another definition of covenant, legal and forensic, is used when it suits the FV people. So joining the church is a formal process initiated by a ceremony, and justification ( borrowing from N.T. Wright) becomes the forensic pronouncement that someone is a member of that church covenant, etc.

    So the reason that Shepherd or the FV don’t make sense is that their views an inconsistent mess. Because of this, neither view has the cohesion to endure, and is on the way to becoming something else some day soon.

  91. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    “But I will deny up one side, down the other, shouting from the housetops that union with Christ in no way, shape, or form, makes imputation redundant.”

    No need to shout, Lane. Lusk has withdrawn the statement.

  92. March 30, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you so much, it is very nice!

  93. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    David, nothing vested at all.

  94. David McCrory said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Don’t both sides agree there are spiritual benefits in being baptized and joining the visbile church? And don’t both sides agree the non-elect members are never decretally elect and therefore lose their salvation? So doesn’t it, in part, come down to exactly what benefits the NECM receive?

  95. David McCrory said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Then why not share in the discussion your concerns, Todd?

  96. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Where did Lusk withdraw the statement?

  97. March 30, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Since the FV is not monolithic, by all accounts, perhaps the ideas Mr. Wilder is thinking of are distinct to certain individuals. I have read Meyer’s book on worship a couple of times and was not left with that (the above) impression of covenant renewal worship, at all. But perhaps that (book) is not what he has in mind. I would though like to be referred to (or to see here) the material in question.

  98. March 30, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    I think I did read somewhere that Rich Lusk was at least aimable to the language of imputation.

  99. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Heaven forbid that the circling of the wagons could possibly be broken. The circle of life that is the FV would collapse and die if any one of the members betrays any of the others by mentioning the teeniest, tiniest angstrom-long disagreement. It’s a good thing that each man of the FV is his own man. I was beginning to think that the FV was monolithic or something. Oh wait, the FV doesn’t claim monolithic status, does it? I’m sorry, my bad, I thought that the oath of allegiance to FV theology forbade any betrayal whatsoever. That seems to be the case with DW, who still hasn’t answered my question about disagreements within the FV movement, and his disagreements with the other members of the FV. He probably never will. “You will be assimilated…”

  100. David McCrory said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Quoted from above,

    “In the FV scheme of these men the only difference between this group labeled ‘non-elect covenant member( which they also call’ ‘the believing non-elect’ , which describes a class of people other than infants) and the geniune elect is the grace of perserverance- that is it”

    ~ Do not the FV distinguish between saving faith and temporary faith? And do they (at least some of them) teach that the sign and seals of the sacraments are only efficaciously applied in the decretal elect?

  101. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    David, they do not distinguish adequately the different faiths, since forgiveness of sins accrues to the NECM. This was proved in the extensive argumentation linked in comment 51.

  102. Tim Wilder said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Rogers Meredith said, #83 “the distinction is between apostasy and perseverance”.

    It is the same thing. What is the difference between apostasy and perseverance? The difference is keeping or breaking the covenant. What is keeping the covenant? Faithfulness. What is faithfulness? It is not committing the FV version of mortal sin, i.e. high handed sin. The Reformed view is that we sin daily in word and deed. We don’t have those perfect, covenant-keeping interludes. Implicit in the FV, however, is lesser type of sinning, or sinning that doesn’t count (or in the Roman Catholic view, not sin at all if you are not aware of it), that is consistent with the faithfulness that counts as covenant keeping. So Schlissel says that the law is “doable”.

    This high-handed vs. sublilminal sin distinction actually preceded the Federal Vision and was being taught by James Jordan years before, in the Tyler version of Christian Reconstruction. It is one of the conceptions that led into the creation of Federal Vision theology.

    For further on this read: The Rise of Moralism: The Proclamation of the Gospel from Hooker to Baxter by C. FitzSimons Allison, and his essay in By Faith Alone. Also, to read Peter Leithart’s review of Allison go here:

    http://www.contra-mundum.org/cm/reviews/pl_moralism.pdf

    I persuaded Leithart to review it in 1994. He was not to thrilled and did not see the point, but agreed to do the review anyway. You can make up your own mind whether he took in the lesson of the book.

  103. March 30, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    But if Doug has said he is not in full agreement with other F.V.ers (who ever they are) then there is i(t seems) room for disagreement; correct? Or where you just funin me?

  104. March 30, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Tim,
    Thanks!

  105. March 30, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Dear Mr. Wilder,
    In numerous discussions with FV guys and with other pastors in the CREC, I was never left with the impression you suggest is implicit in the FV view of sin (though I may be an idiot). You do seem rather certain it is there though (explicit) and so might you move beyond mere rhetoric to (explicit) proof?

  106. David McCrory said,

    March 30, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Again quoted from above,

    “In the FV scheme of these men the only difference between this group labeled ‘non-elect covenant member( which they also call’ ‘the believing non-elect’ , which describes a class of people other than infants) and the geniune elect is the grace of perserverance- that is it”

    ~ This seems like a generalization that would be challenged by FV proponents. Should this be construed as an attempt to accurately describe their views, or a intentionally over-simplistic and biased representation of FV theology?

  107. Tim Wilder said,

    March 30, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Re: Rogers Meredith 105. Read the Leithart review linked above (#102) in which he ends up trying to lobby for the distinction, even back in 1994.

    The mixing of faith and works into faithfulness that we find in Shepherd is the other side of the coin from the minimizing of sin, for the sins just aren’t sinful enough to be unfaithfulness.

  108. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    “Where did Lusk withdraw the statement?”

    You haven’t seen it? Bottom of page 20:

    http://federal-vision.com/pdf/lusk1.pdf

    “I freely admit that the sentence from my colloquium essay, “My in-Christ-ness makes imputation redundant,” is open to misunderstanding. Indeed, I gladly withdraw that statement, and let the rest of the argument stand on its own. But in context, Gaffin has no real reason that I can see for taking the expression in the way that he does. If I excise this one line, what argument does Gaffin have left against my formulation? The context makes it clear is “imputation or transfer” – or “imputation as transfer,” to be more precise — that I am critiquing. To state the point again (since it is apparently easy to miss): In my view, as articulated above, I am not justified by the “union itself.” I am not even sure what sense can be made of this notion of grounding justification in a relational bond. Neither do I ground justification in an inherent righteousness, worked in me by Christ’s Spirit. In all of my writings, even my discussions of future justification, I have emphatically grounded justification solely in Christ, the Crucified and Risen One.”

    Lane writes: “That seems to be the case with DW, who still hasn’t answered my question about disagreements within the FV movement, and his disagreements with the other members of the FV. He probably never will.”

    Already did. He answered a similar question a few weeks ago, Lane, giving a short list of disagreements with Lusk (I think) and Jordan. Not many details, though. It will hard to locate this, hidden down in the comments, but I’ll give it a try later. He mentions Jordan’s paper on regeneration in particular.

  109. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    What does Lusk mean by critiqueing imputation as a transfer term? That’s what imputation *is*. Christ’s righteousness is reckoned as ours, is made ours. Not a legal fiction, because of union.

    I would like to see DW critique Steve Wilkins, and show us where he disagrees with Wilkins. Lusk and Jordan are not in the PCA.

  110. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    I suspect it won’t satisfy you, Lane, but here’s Lusk’s answer:

    First, I have nowhere suggested that union with Christ solves every problem or
    swallows up every other doctrine. Indeed, when I concluded the section of the
    essay of mine that the Report is quoting from, I cheerfully admitted that we may continue using imputation language if we desire, provided we understand imputation as a feature of union with Christ, rather than a piece of our salvation having a discrete structure of its own (page 143). So I am not opposed to imputation as a theological category as such. However, in any discussion of how we are justified before God, I do not think we can move away even one inch from union with Christ as the center. This is true even when we analyze the concept of imputation, which cannot be properly
    defined in abstraction from union. Imputation is not a transfer of righteousness between two unrelated persons, but God’s declaration over us in Christ. “Imputation,” properly understood, is not a stand-alone step in the ordo salutis, but rather how God accounts and regards us in view of our union with Christ. When Paul says that God imputes righteousness to faith (Rom. 4:5), or that he does not impute sins to believers (Rom. 4:8), he is not talking about transferring anything from one person to another; rather, he is discussing how God considers and counts us in Christ. As the quotations I included in my essay demonstrated (page 143), my position was simply following and elaborating on the work of John Calvin and (the early?) Richard Gaffin (though I know my reliance on Gaffin now appears ironic, given his membership on the OPC Committee that produced the report – more on that below).

  111. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    He still is saying that imputation is a disposable doctrine. We can have it, or we can jettison it. If we have it, it needs to be rooted in union. And he still denies that imputation is a transfer term. So he is wrong.

  112. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    “And he still denies that imputation is a transfer term. So he is wrong.”

    Very subtle reasoning there, Lane!

    Hey, do you believe that impute means transfer in Romans 4:8?

  113. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Paul means the transfer of guilt to the sinner due to the sinner because of God’s wrath against sin and against the sinner, which comes to the sinner because of God’s law. Transfer is there.

  114. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    That doesn’t sound like a transfer to me. That sounds like a reckoning. Doesn’t transfer imply “from one account to another”?

  115. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Sin accrues debt (as Jesus tells us in the Lord’s Prayer). Guilt is transferred. Really, Todd, this is quite a reasonable explanation of how Romans 4:8 is a transfer term.

  116. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Transfered from where?

  117. March 30, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Tim re: 105
    Thank you again! I appreciate your helpfulness.
    I reread the article you linked. Peter does note that the Bible makes this distinction. But isn’t it a “jump” to say that the FV guys connect the forgiveness of “non presumptuous” sins to covenant renewal style worship?
    Perhaps that is not what you are saying. If it is what you are saying would you please show me where Peter or others makes the connection?

  118. Andy Dollahite said,

    March 30, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Lane,

    Isn’t Lusk saying that he denies imputation as a transfer term in isolation from union, not that he denies imputation as a transfer term in all contexts?

    “So I am not opposed to imputation as a theological category as such. However, in any discussion of how we are justified before God, I do not think we can move away even one inch from union with Christ as the center. This is true even when we analyze the concept of imputation, ***which cannot be properly defined in abstraction from union***. Imputation is not a transfer of righteousness between two unrelated persons, but God’s declaration over us in Christ.” (emphasis mine)

  119. March 30, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Re 109
    So, G.B. what is the case? It seems that you are parsing your objections.

  120. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Andy D, welcome to my blog. I don’t think that Lusk affirms imputation at all. He merely says, “Oh, I suppose maybe I don’t have a real problem if someone wants to hold to it.” I interpret him as denying that imputation is a transfer term at all. BOQ he is not talking about transferring anything from one person to another. EOQ How does this square with your thesis?

    Todd, the potential for guilt is by the law, and is found in the law. The law says, “disobey, and guilt will accrue to you.” So guilt comes from the law (as potential guilt) to the sinner (as actual guilt). You’re really nitpicking here, Todd.

  121. Andy Dollahite said,

    March 30, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Lane,

    Thanks for your welcome.

    I understand you are asserting Lusk doesn’t affirm imputation at all. But when I read the passage quoted in #108, I see Lusk affirming imputation, only in a nuanced manner. As the very first statements in the quote say, “First, I have nowhere suggested that union with Christ solves every problem or swallows up every other doctrine. Indeed, when I concluded the section of the essay of mine that the Report is quoting from, I cheerfully admitted that we may continue using imputation language if we desire, provided we understand imputation as a feature of union with Christ…”

    The nuance is that we cannot understand impuation apart from union with Christ. He seems to be concerned with those people who speak of imputation as a transfer between two unrelated people.

    In summary, qualifying how you speak of imputation (what I see Lusk doing), and denying imputation (what I understand to be your view of Lusk’s view) are not the same thing. Am I missing something?

  122. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    I think you’re missing this statement:

    “he is not talking about transferring anything from one person to another.”

    He does not view imputation as a transfer term, and therefore denies imputation.

    Furthermore, he is rather cavalier about the idea of imputation, when he, in effect, says, “We may continue using it, if we want to. But we don’t have to continue using it if we don’t want to.” Imputation is a feature not of union with Christ but of justification, which, in turn, is grounded in union with Christ.

  123. March 30, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Dear G.B.
    Earlier (post #29) you mention that one of the problems you have with Douglas Wilson is that he will not take Steve Wilkins to task. Yet in your review of Richard Gaffin’s latest book (which BTW I love and agree with wholeheartedly) you “defend” him for not taking Shepherd to task for his theological oddities. Now you point out that the reason for this, and for Gaffin’s quote on Shepherd’s book, is that they are friends, and friends, well friends don’t critic each other publicly(and besides that Richard is a nice guy). Now what if the same were true for Wilson and Wilkins (and I don’t know if it is or if it isn’t)? If you were to even allow for that as a possibility then shouldn’t you “ease” up on your objections; especially so since this seems to be your main one?

  124. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    “Todd, the potential for guilt is by the law, and is found in the law. The law says, “disobey, and guilt will accrue to you.” So guilt comes from the law (as potential guilt) to the sinner (as actual guilt). You’re really nitpicking here, Todd.”

    Guilt is transferred from the law to the sinner, just as righteousness is transferred from Christ to the believing sinner?

  125. Todd said,

    March 30, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    “I would like to see DW critique Steve Wilkins, and show us where he disagrees with Wilkins. Lusk and Jordan are not in the PCA.”

    This is a strange thing to say, Lane. Wilson’s not in the PCA, either, as I’m sure you know.

    I also appreciate Rogers’s question about Gaffin-Shepherd/Wilson-Lusk.

  126. March 30, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    [...] Ego, Repentance, and the Federal Vision « Green Baggins If a man is a fool to give up his soul in exchange for the whole world, what sort of idiot would he be who made the exchange merely to “gain the respect of the majority of the Reformed world,” The majority of of tiny self-destructive minority is supposed (tags: fv/npp-smear) [...]

  127. Al said,

    March 31, 2007 at 6:15 am

    Lane,

    I really find it hard to understand why you find it so hard to understand Lusk’s view and why you so often put the worst construction on his words. Lusk’s denial of imputation as transfer is related to his concern to maintain the reality of union with Christ. If we are united to Christ then what is his becomes ours, without obliterating personal distinction. He compares this to a wife and a husband. When two people marry, the wealth and status of the husband becomes the wealth and status of the wife. There is no ‘transfer’ of the wealth from one ‘account’ to another. Rather, by virtue of the the union in marriage the wealth is now a wealth that the wife holds in common with her husband.

    It seems to me that Lusk’s approach maintains the key concerns that people on both sides of this debate have. The righteousness is reckoned to us, not infused. It is an ‘alien’ righteousness as it is the righteousness of another, and a righteousness that can never be abstracted from that other. We enjoy this righteousness, not as we seek to cultivate some grace that has been infused into us, but as we are united to Christ by simple faith. However, the righteousness is not ‘transferred’ but ‘shared’.

    As regards the larger point that you have been making in this post and the comments, I really don’t see why the FV proponents have to repent. I also don’t think that ego has much to do with it. The more that I read material critical of the FV, the more persuasive the FV position appears. For example, I have just finished reading Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry and most of the writers within it, despite their Reformed credentials, really don’t have much of a clue about the FV (or the NPP, for that matter). They put the worst constructions on the positions that they criticize and leave those who sympathize with FV and NPP positions (like me) quite frustrated. It is a strawman that is being criticized and the theological concerns that most people within the FV and NPP have are really not being addressed. The FV proponents that I know are thoroughly convinced that they are in the right in this debate. This is the reason why they don’t ‘repent’.

    You speak of FV proponents ‘circling the wagons’ and never expressing any dissent. Well, for the record, I do not share Wilson’s understanding of a host of issues within this debate and find his rhetorical style incredibly irritating. I think that Shepherd is wrong to speak of ‘covenant conditions’ in the way that he does. I disagree with Jordan’s understanding of justification on a few key points. Lusk’s understanding of imputation is not my own. I think that Schlissel is plain wrong on the subject of the newness of the new covenant. I could extend this list considerably.

    I know for a fact that many within the FV movement would share some of my opinions here. They are not unwilling to disagree with each other. The problem is that they know that they are not merely being asked to disagree with each other. They are being asked to pick up a stone — no matter how small — and cast it. They will be rehabilitated as they join the scapegoating process. Public expression of disagreement with each other is being sought, not to clarify the personal positions of those involved in the debates, but as a powerful symbolic gesture. I think that FV proponents are right and wise to refrain from doing so in the current climate.

    Disagreements are expressed, but they are expressed in contexts where such disagreement can take place safely, without suggesting any complicity with the current scapegoating process.

  128. david said,

    March 31, 2007 at 7:45 am

    He does not view imputation as a transfer term, and therefore denies imputation.

    – Wrote Lane, just above.

    Um, no, not at all. In fact (as has been pointed out repeatedly) he denies describing imputation of Christ’s righteousness in the same way that you might. But he affirms the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as a dimension of union with Christ.

    Not that this would please the likes of Jeong Kim in his rabid denunciations of the ‘union with Christ school’. That Klinean even thinks Sinclair Ferguson has denied the Faith. So has Gaffin. Murray barely survives.

    So speaking of repentance….

  129. Tim Wilder said,

    March 31, 2007 at 9:10 am

    128 Al Said:

    “I really find it hard to understand why you find it so hard to understand Lusk’s view and why you so often put the worst construction on his words. Lusk’s denial of imputation as transfer is related to his concern to maintain the reality of union with Christ. If we are united to Christ then what is his becomes ours, without obliterating personal distinction. He compares this to a wife and a husband. When two people marry, the wealth and status of the husband becomes the wealth and status of the wife. There is no ‘transfer’ of the wealth from one ‘account’ to another. Rather, by virtue of the the union in marriage the wealth is now a wealth that the wife holds in common with her husband.”

    This is an important point. What is the nature of the union? Gaffin in his recent book can tell you what the union is not. He ends up saying it is the mystical union, where mystical is defined as we-don’t-know-what-it-is. “Union” itself is a very broad term extending from metaphysical identity at one end of it range of meaning to shared purposes of some sort at the other end. By making salvation depend on the we-don’t-know-what-it-is we have with Christ, he creates a black hole at the center of the doctrine of salvation from which no light of knowledge can emerge.

    It looks like Lusk does the same thing. Salvation somehow happens in the black hole of unknown union. But if he wants to replace covenantal imputation with the theological black hole he is exchanging a theological idea for no explanation at all.

  130. david said,

    March 31, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Is Gaffin saying in effect utterly unknown and inknowable or is he speaking in the sense of ‘mystery’ – known truly and confessed whole-heartedly without knowing exhaustively. Without advocating for either Lusk or Gaffin, it doesn’t appear to me that they are offering a black hole approach to new life in Christ. That seems to vastly overstate the case to the point of inaccuracy. Of coruse union langauge can be employed across a broad spectrum of theological meaning and context. But saying that one is not always certain of precisely what the apostle Paul has in view on every occasion in which he uses the language is not on the surface of it an insurmountable problem. The greatest minds still contend over the same problem with reference to his usage of the word ‘law’ – just to cite one example.

  131. david said,

    March 31, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Nothing like egregious typos to start the day off well – I meant ‘unknowable’, rather than ‘inknowable.’ Who put that blasted ‘i’ key nest to the ‘u’?

  132. Al said,

    March 31, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Tim,
    I admit that the notion of union with Christ can be used in many different ways by different writers. I admit that the concept is quite nebulous in many people’s theologies. I admit that our union with Christ is mysterious and irreducible to any simple explanation. However, I fail to see how this disqualifies union with Christ from serving as an illuminating theological concept. The doctrine of the Trinity is even more mysterious, but it nonetheless the most illuminating doctrine in the entire Christian faith.

    Union with Christ is mysterious and multi-faceted, much like the union between a husband and a wife (Ephesians 5:23-32). Union with Christ need not be a theological carpet to sweep problems under (even though some might use it that way). In the work of Lusk (as in the epistles of Paul) I believe that it makes things clearer, and is not used in order to obfuscate the issues. Lusk compares union with Christ to the union between a man and his wife, just as the apostle Paul does on many occasions. In such a way he fleshes out exactly what he means by the terminology. The union of marriage has legal, covenantal, physical, familial and other dimensions to it. The same is true of union with Christ.

    As we begin to explore the character of union with Christ we can begin to see how righteousness is shared, rather than transferred. This insight results as the concept of union with Christ comes into clearer focus, rather than being an intentional ploy to blur the matter.

  133. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Tim, can you offer a definition of union with Christ that you’ve found helpful and accurate?

  134. Lee said,

    March 31, 2007 at 10:41 am

    David,

    Perhaps the reason Lane claims Lusk denies imputation is because it is so linked with Lusk’s idea of Union with Christ. If one shares in Christ’s righteousness as long as one is in Union with Christ, but one can fall out of union with Christ (as Lusk believes), then is that righteousness really ‘imputed’ to us? In Lusk’s view do we really have the righteousness of Christ as if it were our own, or do we just participate in his righteousness as long as we stay in union with Him?
    Can you at least see how Lusk’s theory of ‘imputation only while in Union’ is at least a redefinition of the traditional use of imputation?

  135. Steven W said,

    March 31, 2007 at 10:44 am

    The lack of an understanding of union with Christ is indeed telling, as many in the Reformed world simply don’t understand Paul’s ontological (gasp!) vision. When one is united to Christ by faith and the Holy Spirit, he is counted as Christ.

    Paul illustrates this quite well in the book of Philemon, which is perhaps the most compact statement of “the gospel” you will find in his epistles.

  136. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 11:28 am

    No, Lee, that is not the reason, as my position is that imputation is grounded in union with Christ. However, I don’t define union with Christ as something losable, but as faith (true faith!)-union with Christ. Rather, it is Lusks’s redefinition of the term as a non-transfer term that is the problem.

  137. David McCrory said,

    March 31, 2007 at 11:33 am

    So Lane, are you saying there is absolutely no union w/ Christ apart from being decretally elect?

  138. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 11:36 am

    However one wants to slice the covenantal pie, there is saving union with Christ by faith, and then there is external, false, hypocritical claim to be united with Christ. There is no tertium quid.

  139. David McCrory said,

    March 31, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Lane, I just can’t get around the biblcal language which seem to make accomodation for those who have “tasted of the heavenly gift”, or who were live branches connected in the Vine, thus receiving something from it. In other words, on the surface, and taken in the common literal fashion, the biblical language seems to suugest a strong relationship between Christ and the NECM. It would is appear the relationship isn’t grounded in saving faith and therefore the justification, but a “real” union none-the-less.

  140. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 11:50 am

    They are real covenantal blessings of having access to the means of grace. But they are not saving blessings, and thus they cannot make proper use of the means of grace. Rather, they become means of curse to them.

  141. Steven W said,

    March 31, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    They are the same *thing*, but they have a different effect on the recepient depending on whether he receives in faith or not.

  142. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    “However one wants to slice the covenantal pie, there is saving union with Christ by faith, and then there is external, false, hypocritical claim to be united with Christ. There is no tertium quid.”

    And which is being spoken of in Romans 11 and John 15?

  143. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Lane, I don’t want to let my questions about Romans 4:8 drop. Do you believe that Romans 4:8 teaches that guilt is transferred from the law to the sinner, just as righteousness is transferred from Christ to the believing sinner?

  144. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    I would cautiously agree with your way of putting my view of Romans 4:8. I say “cautiously,” because this is somewhat uncharted territory for me in terms of the guilt transfer idea. I’m still trying that one out.

    I would say that both saving union and hypocritical claims to union are being talked of in John 15. The ones who are thrown out into the fire were hypocrites in the ultimate sense we are all hypocrites in a lesser sense; that is, those who do believe in Jesus Christ.

    Romans 11 is talking of real, true union. The falling away warning is a warning designed precisely to keep true believers from falling away. I think verse 17 conclusively proves that true union is spoken of here.

  145. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    But the righteousness of Christ is the the righteousness of a person. It belongs to him. He possesses righteousness.

    But the guilt of the law is not a parallel idea at all. Guilt does not belong to the law. The law does not possess guilt.

    Romans 11:17 no more proves that the union spoken of is unlosable than verses 21-22 prove that it is losable.

  146. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    The law possesses the ability to assign guilt to the person. That is what the law does. In assigning the guilt, the law transfers guilt to the person. A transferer does not have to possess the thing in order to transfer it. Nor does there have to be another origin for guilt. Guilt originates in the transgression of the law. But the law is the vehicle by which the guilt comes home to roost on the person. Banks, for instance, transfer money all the time which they do not own. Adam’s guilt is transferred to us by imputation. It was Adam’s personal guilt, and it was transferred to us. It was transferred because of two things: 1. we are in Adam by generation; 2. we are in Adam by his representation. Both are reasons for the imputation/transfer of Adam’s guilt to us. You have to admit I have a point there.

  147. John said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Perhaps a discussion of “imputation” language in Romans would be helped by a consideration of what it means in Genesis 15 when it says that Abraham believed YHWH “and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”

    This is the passage Paul refers to in Romans 4 using the term “imputed”: “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord….” (vv. 23-24).

    If Genesis 15 is speaking of imputation, and it appears that that is the case, where is the transfer? What was transferred (“it”) and where was it transferred from?

    Or isn’t it more likely that Genesis 15 is saying that God recognized Abraham’s faith (“it”) as righteousness, that is, as the right response to God’s Word, even though that Word seems impossible?

    In this connection, consider also Psalm 106:30-31, where Phineas’s action in killing the man with the Moabite woman “was accounted to him for righteousness to all generations forever.”

  148. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    John, this is the standard Remonstrant view of justification, viewing faith itself as the thing that is the righteousness. In Romans 4:3, Paul could have used the term “hos” in front of the term “righteousness.” Faith would then *be* the righteousness. That is not what Paul says. He says that faith is counted toward (eis) righteousness. I interpret the “eis” as a telic eis. Faith looks away from itself and to Christ, who is the ground of our justification, and who is our righteousness. The Hebrew is even less supportive of the Remonstrant position, since the faith itself is not necessarily the referrent of the suffix on the verb. The faith of Abraham is a verb in 15:6, not a noun. Paul clearly interprets the LXX as saying not that faith was a substitute for righteousness, but that Jesus is our righteousness. Otherwise, faith would be a work.

    Notice, Todd, that John didn’t answer my charge.

  149. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    OK. Let’s see if this works when we make it about Christ’s righteousness: “Christ possesses the ability to assign righteousnss to the person.” Is that really enough for what you want to say about the imputation of Christ’s righteousness? I’m eager to say a lot more.

    “A transferer does not have to possess the thing in order to transfer it.”

    But doesn’t the thing have to be transferred from one person to another person, or from one account to another account? Your view, tentative as it is, has a “transfer” from a law to a person. That just doesn’t work.

    “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” In this verse, as you can see, the Lord is the “counter” or “imputer,” not the law. If there is a transfer, or rather a gracious non-transfer, implied, what could it possibly mean? Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not transfer his sins? Transfer to where? Or from where?

    Why not simply follow the lead of all the translations that don’t feel the need to have “impute” here? Isn’t it illegitimate totality transfer to try so hard to read logizomai the way you’re trying to read it, all in the interest of maintaining a strict equation between impute and transfer?

    I have no criticism for your review of the imputation of Adam’s sin and guilt. That is my view, too. But it doesn’t seem to halp your case for your unique reading of impute in Romans 4:8.

  150. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Lane, I think you view would need Paul to say: “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count Adam’s sin.”

  151. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    The Lord imputes sin, but the law is the instrument. I already said this before. The reason that impute works that way is that Paul is using the quotation as a proof for the imputation of *righteousness* to the believer. That is the force of “kathaper” in the beginning of verse 6. Paul draws an analogy: Abraham believed God and received the righteousness of Christ by faith=not having sins imputed to him. They are the flip side of one another. Therefore, the imputation works in the same way. It is a reckoning, no doubt about it (I think you would agree there). Oh, wait, I have it! The non-imputing means that the sin is transferred from the sinner to Christ, and the righteousness is transferred from Christ to us. There is your transfer.

  152. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    “The Lord imputes sin, but the law is the instrument.”

    The Lord imputes righteousness, but Christ is the instrument?

    “Oh, wait, I have it! The non-imputing means that the sin is transferred from the sinner to Christ, and the righteousness is transferred from Christ to us. There is your transfer.”

    LOL. Blessed is the man whose sins the Lord counts against Christ. Glorious truth, but it has nothing to do with the way Paul is arguing here. In 4:8, God is doing something with a man’s *own* sins. No transfer implied.

  153. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    On the contrary, Todd, it is the only answer. If they are not imputed to a sinner, then they have to be imputed to someone else, if they are going to be dealt with. The non-imputation means that God is dealing with the sin. It is an active non-imputation. That is the irresistable logic of the passage. So, if Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, then our sin is imputed to Him.

  154. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    I learned a word for this at WTS, man. Eisegesis.

    “If they are not imputed to a sinner, then they have to be imputed to someone else,.”

    Imputed to a sinner from where? Paul, and the Psalm he’s quoting, is talking about a man’s own sins. Your own sins don’t need to be transferred to you; they’re already yours.

  155. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Maybe you didn’t quite understand what I was saying. They are imputed from us to Christ. That’s from where. In other words, I am no longer saying that the law is the origin of our guilt. Our sin is the origin of our guilt, which is ours (as you say), but is then transferred to Christ in double imputation. This is not eisegesis, Todd. This is the analogy of faith.

  156. Andy Dollahite said,

    March 31, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    Lane,

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to go back to your statement in #123.

    BOQ I think you’re missing this statement: “he is not talking about transferring anything from one person to another.” He does not view imputation as a transfer term, and therefore denies imputation. EOQ

    You’re oversimplifying the argument. If all Lusk said in the quote from #110 was the statement you keep focusing on, then I would agree with you. But as Al (in #128) and I have pointed out, it’s unfair for you to ignore the totality of Lusk’s statement. To me, he went to very great lengths to qualify exactly what type of transfer from one person to another that he objected to. He refuses to see imputation as a transfer between two UNRELATED persons, as some DISCRETE part of our salvation, as something ISOLATED FROM UNION WITH CHRIST, as “A STAND ALONE STEP in the ordo salutis.” (I capitalize not because I’m frustrated with you, or yelling at my screen.)

    Again, don’t you think you’re reading Lusk in an uncharitable manner by continuing to ignore these qualifications? Or is it the qualifications themselves you have a problem with?

  157. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Andy, I understand the point you’re trying to make. I simply cannot read him that way. I agree that in one sentence he qualifies the transfer as being between two unrelated persons. But then he explains Romans 4 in this way:

    BOQ When Paul says that God imputes righteousness to faith (Rom. 4:5), or that he does not impute sins to believers (Rom. 4:8), he is not talking about transferring anything from one person to another; rather, he is discussing how God considers and counts us in Christ. EOQ

    Here he repudiates transfer altogether, in the most important passage where it occurs. Therefore, I don’t buy your reading, although you make your case well.

  158. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    “They are imputed from us to Christ. That’s from where.”

    Blessed is the man whose sins the Lord DOES transfer!

    Doctrinally, this is unassailable. But it doesn’t help us in discovering the way the word is used in Romans 4:8. You’ve got to find a way to deal with the way Paul actually uses the word in the actual sentence, even quoted as it is from the Psalm.

  159. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Todd, I have already answered this, and it is your rejection of tha analogy of faith that makes you keep on asking this question.

  160. John said,

    March 31, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Lane writes: “Notice, Todd, that John didn’t answer my charge.”

    What charge? If you’re going to write stuff like this, Lane, then you’d better make clear where you made a charge. Was it in one of your comments? If so, I appear to have missed it.

    Besides, it’s pretty weak to say “Notice he didn’t answer” in a blog discussion. No one is required to answer every question some guy on a blog asks or respond to every charge someone makes. I have a life, and this blog discussion isn’t it.

  161. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Whatever, John, it’s time to move on.

  162. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Lane, I’m thinking that our debate is well-placed under a post about egos and the fear of admitting mistakes.

    By insisting that impute/logizomai always means transfer, you’re stuck with this translation of Romans 4:8: Blessed is the man whose sins the Lord does not transfer.

    And let me ask, Lane. What charge were you talking about with John? I missed it too.

  163. John said,

    March 31, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Speaking of not responding to things, Lane, I notice that you didn’t respond to my reference to Psalm 106:30-31, which uses exactly the same language as Genesis 15:6.

    Instead, you said “This is the standard Remonstrant view of justification.” That’s an unhelpful tactic, Lane, because it fosters party spirit instead of careful exegesis. I remember reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Romans 7 (I think) and hearing him warn against party spirit in exegesis.

    I don’t care who in history may have exegeted Genesis 15 the way I did. I don’t care if the Arminians exegeted it that way. I can point to Reformed guys who have, too, not least the OT prof at the Reformed Theological University in Kampen. But who cares? The question is what the text says.

    You write: “In Romans 4:3, Paul could have used the term “hos” in front of the term “righteousness.” Faith would then *be* the righteousness.” Maybe my Greek is rustier than yours, but I’m going to need you to unpack this further. How would the addition of “hos” (who, which) have helped here? I would think it would be AUTHN (it), but that would still leave ambiguities.

    You write: “He says that faith is counted toward (eis) righteousness. I interpret the “eis” as a telic eis. Faith looks away from itself and to Christ, who is the ground of our justification, and who is our righteousness.”

    Genesis 15:6 has EIS, as well. But so does Psalm 106:30-31: “Then Phineas stood up and intervened and the plague was stopped, and that was imputed [ELOGISQH in the LXX] to him for righteousness [EIS DIKAIOSUNHN].”

    If the EIS in Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4 is a telic EIS (“unto righteousness”), and if it means there that Abraham’s faith was the instrument by which he received the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, then what do you do with Psalm 106:31? That EIS would also be a telic EIS, and it would say … what? That Phineas’s action was the instrument by which he received the righteousness of Christ imputed to him? That doesn’t seem right, does it?

    You write: “The Hebrew is even less supportive of the Remonstrant position, since the faith itself is not necessarily the referrent of the suffix on the verb. The faith of Abraham is a verb in 15:6, not a noun.”

    True, the antecedent of the word “it” in English (the suffix in Hebrew) isn’t immediately clear. But it does seem passing strange to say that “it” refers to the righteousness of Christ, when nothing in the context would suggest such a thing.

    Again, Psalm 106 provides a helpful parallel. It seems to me that the antecedent has to be what Phineas is said to have done in verse 30. The whole action is “it,” and so too “Abraham believed God” is “it” in Genesis 15. That is certainly grammatically possible and appears to me to be the best option.

    “Paul clearly interprets the LXX as saying not that faith was a substitute for righteousness, but that Jesus is our righteousness. Otherwise, faith would be a work.”

    You’re making a lot of exegetical moves here, Lane, and perhaps it would be helpful if you could slow down and spell them out. In Romans 4, Paul doesn’t mention Jesus being our righteousness. That’s a conclusion you’ve reached (through steps you haven’t spelled out), not something explicitly there in the text.

    As for “Otherwise faith would be a work,” there’s still Psalm 106 to think about. I’d be glad to hear how it fits into your exegesis and then also into your theology of justification.

  164. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Faith is not our righteousness. WCF 11.1: “nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.” At least for WCF folk, faith itself is not an option for defining our righteousness. Ask yourself a simple question, John: what is the nature of faith? Faith itself is not a righteousness, it is rather a receiving and resting. And the HC question 60 has Romans 4:3-5 as a proof-text for the passage “God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ.” Therefore, the HC does not interpret faith itself as the righteousness which is imputed. As if there was any doubt, question 61 ices it even further: “It is not because of any value my faith has that God is pleased with me. Only Christ’s satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me right with God.” So, faith itself being what is imputed is not open to anyone who holds to the HC either. I don’t care who taught it either. But if anyone teaches it, they are dead wrong. It is not Reformed.

    Look, John, the exegesis I have offered may leave a lot of steps out. But it is absolutely the standard Reformed exegesis of these passages.

    Psalm 106: Phinehas was not saving himself by works. It was a physical saving of the people of Israel. Furthermore, I agree with the footnote on page 232 of Calvin’s commentary: “tsedaqah” means reward here. The reward is certainly not condign merit. Even in this work, Phinehas was not without sin. He was a sinner, and all works are tainted with sin. But what is the reward? Verse 31b paraphrases the reward: Phinehas was given the priesthood forever (see Numbers 25:13). This is not talking about salvation at all. Therefore Psalm 106 does not contradict what Paul is saying.

    On Romans, you are confused about my “hos.” I do not refer to the relative pronoun, masculine singular, but to the conjunction omega sigma with a rough breathing, meaning “as.”

  165. John said,

    March 31, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    (1) In your first paragraph, you’ve responded to an exegetical question by citing the Westminster Confession of Faith. But my question had to do with exegesis of the Bible.

    (2) The footnotes in the Heidelberg Catechism edition you have were not original. They were simply put in by more modern editors, weren’t they? They certainly weren’t there in the version that Ursinus and Olevianus wrote, and therefore they are of limited value.

    (3) In your second paragraph, you simply asserted that there is such a thing as “the standard Reformed exegesis” of a given passage. Again, this sort of labeling isn’t helpful: “That’s Arminian exegesis. (Ooh! Scary! Stay away!) But that’s Reformed exegesis. (Ooh! Nice.)” I’d rather hear the exegesis, which you didn’t provide.

    (4) Re. Psalm 106: No one has suggested that P. was saving himself by works. My question has to do with what it means when it says “it was accounted to him as righteousness.”

    You cite Calvin who takes “righteousness” to mean reward, and you say that you agree with this exegesis. I presume, then, that you take it as “It was accounted to him unto a reward” (keeping your telic sense of EIS).

    That’s interesting. But given that it’s the same thing said of Abraham back in Genesis 15, would you take that passage to be saying, “Abraham believed God and He accounted it to him unto a reward”? Why not?

    If you say, “Because that’s not how Paul takes it in Romans 4,” then I’m going to say, “But it’s the same as Psalm 106. Therefore, whatever that line in Genesis 15 means for Paul ought to be what that line in Psalm 106 means. It’s the same.”

    Perhaps it would help if I could see some other examples of “tsedaqah” meaning “reward” instead of “righteousness.” Are there any other commentators or Bible translations that take it that way?

    (5) Re. the “hos.” Ah, I understand what “hos” you have in mind. But EIS sometimes means “as,” too, as in “Do this AS my memorial” (EIS THN EMHN ANAMNHSIN), which echoes the passage(s) in the LXX about doing something EIS ANAMNHSIN (“as/for a memorial”). In those cases, the doing is the memorial. EIS may have the same sense here.

  166. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    John, my quoting of the confessions was in response to comment 164, paragraph 2.

    The footnoes is immaterial to my point, which is that the HC excludes faith utterly from being our righteousness. This is clear from questions 60-61. They say exactly the same thing as WCF 11.1. So you can’t pull a “my confession is better than yours thing” on me. They are united on this. And if they are united on this, then there is an implied exegesis of Romans 4 that does not take faith itself as imputed as the righteousness. I provided the exegesis by taking the eis as telic, and noting the nature of faith, surely a relevant concern to the passage. So, there was exegesis.

    My point with regard to Psalm 106 is that the context is different, the result is different, and the substance is different (faith versus a work). Therefore they aren’t parallel.

    Given the nature of faith, eis has to be telic, and cannot mean “as,” which, of course, it can mean in other contexts. Paul excludes every evangelical obedience from justification. Therefore, faith itself cannot be the righteousness which justifies. It goes against the entire scope of the passage, shich is to exclude all and every kind of work from justification.

  167. Andy Dollahite said,

    March 31, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    Lane,

    Thanks for the discussion. Honestly.

  168. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Lane, do any of the lexicons list “transfer” as a meaning of logizomai?

  169. Al said,

    March 31, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    I suspect that neither Genesis, Psalms nor Romans are teaching that faith is our righteousness. Rather, it seems to me that the basic message is that faith/faithfulness is rewarded with ‘righteousness’ (‘righteousness comes by faith’ — cf. Hebrews 11:7). In Abraham’s case the meaning of ‘reckoning righteousness’ is filled out by the covenant ceremony that follows in Genesis 15. In Phineas’ case ‘reckoning righteousness’ is the vindication and reward of his action by the granting of priestly privileges to him. However, though faith and righteousness may not be the same thing, the idea that ‘reckoning righteousness’ is somehow referring to the transferral of the righteousness of Christ to the believer through the instrumentality of faith seems to be straying quite far from what the text actually says.

    The message seems to be that ‘righteousness’, understood as vindication, deliverance, salvation, or the granting of a new status and honour come to those who are faithful. The idea of transferral of righteousness, understood as something similar to moral ‘brownie points’, from one party to another is absent from the text.

  170. Todd said,

    March 31, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    New logizomai question: Does it mean transfer in Romans 6:11?

  171. The Burly Gates said,

    March 31, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Hi Friends,

    Just wondering whether I might’ve missed the answer to the Gaffin/ Shepherd vs. Wilson/ Wilkins calling out/ defending question posted earlier on? It’d be easy to do with upwards of 200 comments, so I’m just checking..

    Thanks,
    Ron

  172. The Burly Gates said,

    March 31, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    (I wasn’t sure whether “upwards of” meant “more than” or “approaching,” but now that I’ve used it I’m pretty sure it means the former. My bad.)

  173. Craig Phelps said,

    March 31, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Rev. Barach, Calvin’s does a great job accurately employing the analogy of faith and I commend him to you with all my heart:
    “It invalidates in no degree what Paul says, that works are sometimes
    imputed for righteousness, and that other kinds of blessedness are
    mentioned. It is said in Psalm 106:30, that it was imputed to
    Phinehas, the Lord’s priest, for righteousness, because he took away
    reproach from Israel by inflicting punishment on an adulterer and a harlot.
    It is true, we learn from this passage, that he did a righteous deed; but we
    know that a person is not justified by one act. What is indeed required is
    perfect obedience, and complete in all its parts, according to the import of
    the promise, —
    “He who shall do these things shall live in them.”
    (Deuteronomy 4:1.)
    How then was this judgment which he inflicted imputed to him for
    righteousness? He must no doubt have been previously justified by the
    grace of God: for they who are already clothed in the righteousness of
    Christ, have God not only propitious to them, but also to their works, the
    spots and blemishes of which are covered by the purity of Christ, lest
    they should come to judgment. As works, infected with no defilements, are
    alone counted just, it is quite evident that no human work whatever can
    please God, except through a favor of this kind. But if the righteousness of
    faith is the only reason why our works are counted just, you see how
    absurd is the argument, — “That as righteousness is ascribed to works,
    righteousness is not by faith only.” But I set against them this invincible
    argument, that all works are to be condemned as those of unrighteousness,
    except a man be justified solely by faith.”(John Calvin, Commentaries, Romans 4:6-8, p. 123-124, Ages)

  174. Craig Phelps said,

    March 31, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    That would be Calvin. Spelling, grammar, apologies.

  175. Lee said,

    April 1, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Lane,
    Regarding posts 135 and 139,

    I think I was unclear. I am not denying our union with Christ has anything to do with imputation. It is indeed the basis. However, I do think that Lusk teaches a redefinition of the traditional view of imputation and union. I think the FV redefines imputation to be more a participation or implantation into Christ. I was simply trying to say that I think Lusk’s view denies that the righteousness of Christ is ever given to us, rather we share in His righteousness as long as we stay implanted in Him. I just thought David would be able to admit imputation is used quite differently between you and Rev. Lusk.

  176. Todd said,

    April 1, 2007 at 7:07 am

    “I think the FV redefines imputation to be more a participation or implantation into Christ.”

    Lee, how would you describe the more traditional definition of union with Christ?

  177. Tim Wilder said,

    April 1, 2007 at 8:05 am

    Lee said #176:

    “I do think that Lusk teaches a redefinition of the traditional view of imputation and union.”

    This is consistent. Once a covenant is not seen as a legal agreement but an organic union, what is left of imputation except to see it as a perspective on what is involved in that union?

  178. Todd said,

    April 1, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Gary Johnson said this about Doug Wilson, above: “Wilson carries on a scathing personal vendetta against anyone who dares question ANYTHING related to the views of the FV.”

    I’d encourage anyone to compare this characterization with the way Doug speaks of Rick Phillips on his blog today (Sunday):

    http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=3739

    It looks like Gary might be “projecting” a bit. Someone is carrying on a scathing personal vendetta, but I don’t think it’s Wilson.

  179. April 2, 2007 at 12:10 am

    Dear G.B.
    Any answer to #124 (c.f. #29) or no?
    Peace
    Rogers

  180. April 2, 2007 at 6:34 am

    Todd
    It should not come as a surprise to anyone who has follow this debate and your comments that you have a blind spot that relects your devotion to the FV cause. Wilson’s language about Guy Waters, Scott Clark and the Faculty of WTSC is scathing, extreme and worse.

  181. Todd said,

    April 2, 2007 at 6:52 am

    Dude. You said “anyone.”

    Also, if Wilson’s language is scathing and extreme, what about your language about him? Does his language excuse yours? Seriously. It’s a pot/kettle thing.

  182. April 2, 2007 at 7:03 am

    Todd
    You are rude- I have a name- it is not ‘Dude’. Yes,’ Anyone’ that dares to name names in their assessment of the FV is treated with contempt by Wilson- T. David Gordon’s chapter, which Wilson has already prepared for the hangin’ tree, is one of the most direct and spot on in its criticism of the FV. I can assure you, Rick Phillips shares my assessment of the FV.

  183. Todd said,

    April 2, 2007 at 7:15 am

    “I can assure you, Rick Phillips shares my assessment of the FV.”

    I know that you’re right here. But that’s just my point; Wilson has no vendetta going against Phillips. It’s a counter example that falsifies your earlier, exaggerated claim: “Wilson carries on a scathing personal vendetta against anyone who dares question ANYTHING related to the views of the FV.”

    Wilson makes distinctions among the critics: Venema good, Waters bad.

    I predict that Wilson will commend Gordon for pointing the finger at Murray. But I’m no prophet.

  184. April 2, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Todd
    ” I’m no prohet”, Well, you are capable of making a perceptive after all.

  185. Todd said,

    April 2, 2007 at 9:28 am

    Gary, would you describe Scott Clark’s tone as scathing as well?

  186. greenbaggins said,

    April 2, 2007 at 10:21 am

    I apologize to all for not commenting yesterday. I did not have a chance to get at the computer.

    Rogers and Al,

    BOQ The problem is that they know that they are not merely being asked to disagree with each other. They are being asked to pick up a stone — no matter how small — and cast it. EOQ This is Al’s comment (number 128). If this is true, then this constitutes a complete misreading of critics’ motives. The critics are trying to test to see whether the FV is monolithic or not. FV folk say it isn’t. But their actions, and their unwillingness to disagree in public indicates otherwise. It indicates more a circling of the wagons. Al, do you honestly think that respect for FV proponents would go down if they started indicating their areas of disagreement? On the contrary, it would make their claim of non-monolithicness much more credible. It doesn’t seem very credible to me at the moment, especially given the points of view that are distinctive to FV that most, if not all, proponents hold in common.

    I realize that DW is Wilkins’s friend. True friends are not afraid of criticizing each other, since the wounds of a friend are more faithful than the lying, flattering words of an adversary (as Proverbs says). True friends do not let friends drink and drive, and they do not let them go off into heretical waters without an attempt to bring them back.

    Lee, I would agree with your comment 176. It is much clearer. ;-)

  187. Todd said,

    April 2, 2007 at 11:07 am

    “But their actions, and their unwillingness to disagree in public indicates otherwise. It indicates more a circling of the wagons.”

    http://www.canonpress.org/shop/item.asp?itemid=1211&catid=

  188. Ron said,

    April 2, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    It would appear that the DW link above would nullify comment 78 as well.

    And Dr. Johnson, I believe you have your lynchers confused:

    http://www.puritanboard.com/showpost.php?p=223946&postcount=22

    Kindly,
    Ron/ TBG

  189. greenbaggins said,

    April 2, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    No, it doesn’t. Every single person who has ever debated me on this blog, who is FV, has accused me of misrepresentation. DW hasn’t really debated me, and probably never will.

  190. Todd said,

    April 2, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    And the misrepresentation has at least sometimes been real. So why resent the charge? Why not take it seriously as a real challenge, from brother to brother?

  191. Ron said,

    April 2, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Are you formally inviting Pastor Wilson to debate?

  192. greenbaggins said,

    April 2, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Because the above admission is the only time that I feel I have misrepresented them! I am a careful scholar, concerned to be accurate in my statements about what others believe. And honestly, from my perspective, after all that effort to understand what they’re saying, and then all I get sometimes is a “you misunderstood me,” it sounds an awful lot like whining to me. FV folk should be much more sensitive to how that answer sounds to the critics (and how unconvincing it is!). I have yet to see a single FV advocate who has a clue about this aspect of self-consciousness.

  193. greenbaggins said,

    April 2, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    If he wants to debate, I will debate him, but only blog to blog, and without any endorsements necessary. He issued some conditions before. They sounded like he wanted to debate Waters, Beisner, etc. by proxy. I told him that, and haven’t seen hide nor hair of him since on this blog.

  194. Todd said,

    April 2, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    “Because the above admission is the only time that I feel I have misrepresented them!”

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/01/10/wilkinss-exam-part-10/

  195. Kevin said,

    April 2, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    How about misrepresenting one’s own position?

    In # 89, David asked Todd, “Todd, I don’t understand your hesitation to post your disagreements. We might learn something from them. Do you have a vested interest in FV?”

    To which Todd, in #93, “David, nothing vested at all. responded.”

    When I read Todd’s response, I laughed so hard I nearly spilled my coffee all over my computer. Pleeeease.

  196. Todd said,

    April 2, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Perhaps I misunderstood “vested interest.” But how many PCA ministers are better off by *not* distancing themselves from FV?

  197. greenbaggins said,

    April 2, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    None.

  198. Tim Wilder said,

    April 2, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    RE: #133, #134

    “…I admit that our union with Christ is mysterious and irreducible to any simple explanation. However, I fail to see how this disqualifies union with Christ from serving as an illuminating theological concept. The doctrine of the Trinity is even more mysterious, but it nonetheless the most illuminating doctrine in the entire Christian faith.”

    The doctrine of the Trinity is not more mysterious. It is less mysterious. We know that that unity is one of being, metaphysics. (Even if some people today choose to deny this.)

    The problem with Gaffin is that he chooses to deny that union with Christ is any of various things, but he has nothing to suggest on what sort of thing it is. So he posits a theological black hole, and then says that inside the hole is where the theological action is. With Lusk we have the same sort of situation.

    And no, I don’t feel disposed to help you out of your problem. I say that imputation is a covenantal act and happens in covenantal union, so I have no need to say what is the nature of any other type of union in order is explain what imputation is.

  199. Kevin said,

    April 2, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    Re: #197 & 198

    Todd does point to a serious problem within both the PCA and OPC. The lack of a definitive answer regarding whether the FV is inside or outside confessional boundaries has led to a growing number of underground FV sympathizers, including many officers, who proclaim their neutrality despite their obvious affinity to these teachings.

  200. greenbaggins said,

    April 2, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    Don’t you think the OPC Study committee report is a definitive answer? I also understand that the PCA study committee report is coming up for GA this year. It’s happening.

  201. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 2, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    In context, I don’t find Lusk’s rejection of transferral language all that problematic, since the righteousness he is talking about is still someone else’s, not one that is infused:

    “The Reformed scholastic tradition needs refinement in its use of imputation language, but the basic point of the Reformed tradition stands unassailable: By faith, God reckons us as righteous, and he does so because faith unites us to Christ. The virtue of faith is found in its object. Justifying faith is directed to the God who handed Jesus over for our transgressions and raised him up for (his own and) our justification (Rom. 4:22-25). When we believe into Christ Jesus, his resurrection status becomes ours…

    If we want to speak of justification as a transaction or transfer, we should put it this way: God does not justify me by transferring Christ’s righteousness to my account, but by transferring me from Adam to Christ. Under my new covenant head, God regards [that is, imputes] me as righteous because he [that is, Christ, my representative] is righteous.”

    And notice his agreement with you about faith being telic, above and here:

    “God can count/impute your own faith as righteousness, as he did Abraham (no doubt, because of the object of the faith, which is ultimately God himself, identified by his act of raising Jesus from the dead; cf. Rom. 4:22-25). God can refuse to count/impute your sins against you (no doubt, because of the cross; cf. Rom. 4:6-8, 22-25).”

    http://federal-vision.com/pdf/lusk1.pdf

    He doesn’t, in fact, reject imputation, unless you necessarily define that as a transfer, which doesn’t work in Rom. 4:5 (faith is transferred?) or 4:8 (I can’t see how “blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not transfer” makes sense), so it is by no means automatic.

    Furthermore, notice the forensic nature of imputation: “I would take
    “imputation” as a description of justification itself (justification = God declaring, or imputing, us as righteous in Christ)” and “imputation should be regarded as the legal, declarative aspect of our incorporation into Christ.”
    (ibid.) The central fact is union with Christ, which is a relationship. That relationship absolutely has a forensic aspect (justification), but it also has a vivifying aspect (sanctification), both of which comes directly from Christ. This is very similar to what Calvin argues. I don’t have the reference, but his analogy is that of the sun: both light and heat come directly from the sun, but it would be absurd to confuse light and heat; in the same way, both justification and sanctification come directly from Christ, but that doesn’t mean they are the same thing (notice that Calvin’s view does not have sanctification coming from justification, since that would be like saying that light comes from heat).

    So, imputation is important (it is justification, in fact), although it’s not the same thing as transfer (although the language of transfer is not inaccurate, it just can’t be fit into every text, as the discussion above on the “transfer” of sin in Rom. 4:8 showed), justification is forensic and based upon Christ’s work alone, and faith is telic, only justifying because of its object. Sounds like deadly heresy to me.

  202. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 2, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Here’s his paraphrase of the WSC:

    “Justification, therefore, is an act of God’s free grace in which he accepts us as his own people and forgives our sins, declaring (or considering, or regarding, or reckoning, or imputing) us to be righteous only because of and on account of the righteousness of Christ, received by us by means of faith alone. Through the sole instrumentality of faith, we are conjoined to Christ, in whom we have righteousness, and all other blessings pertaining to life and salvation. God considers, or imputes, us as righteous because we share in the status of the Risen Christ.”
    (ibid.)
    And on active obedience: “the imputation of Christ’s active obedience is tightly included in my view, since the verdict the Father passes over the Son in the form of the resurrection is grounded upon his perfect obedience. The imputed verdict brings with it the perfect record of obedience upon which the verdict was based.”
    (ibid.)
    And on faith: “While faith and obedience are inseparably and organically related (as Christ’s own life shows), nevertheless, only faith can unite us to Christ. Works cannot play that function. And so whatever role works play, they cannot be the ground of our justification, or even the instrument of our justification in the same way that faith is instrumental. Works are necessary, to be sure, but they are not parallel or analogous to faith; they flow out of
    faith. By faith, and by faith alone, we receive all that Christ possesses on our behalf, including justification.”
    (ibid.)
    Oddly enough, this Westminster (CA) graduate doesn’t find horrendous errors here.

  203. Todd said,

    April 2, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    “a growing number of underground FV sympathizers”

    Kevin, what gives you the impression that this number is growing?

  204. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 2, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    But piling up quotes never seems to work: when I stacked up quotes from Wilson’s work to show that he agrees that the benefits of the sacraments are absent without faith (e.g., “Without faith, all a man has is words, water, and a tiny meal…”–still one of my favorites), RS Clark just said he was being slippery, and kept on restating Wilson’s doctrine in Tridentine terms that Wilson only uses when he is actively denying them.

  205. David Gadbois said,

    April 2, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    “RS Clark just said he was being slippery, and kept on restating Wilson’s doctrine in Tridentine terms that Wilson only uses when he is actively denying them”

    Clark is wrong on this account, but this is also understandable given Wilson’s defense of Wilkins, who DOES teach that the sacraments benefit the non-elect, who have no faith. In fact, they ostensibly have “all the blessings in the heavenly places”.

    You quote Lusk: “God considers, or imputes, us as righteous because we share in the status of the Risen Christ”

    “The imputed verdict brings with it the perfect record of obedience upon which the verdict was based”

    Lusk can’t seem to get this right. The thing that is reckoned is Christ’s righteousness, NOT a status or verdict. Our legal status or verdict is based on the obedience reckoned to us, not on an arbitrary transfer of Christ’s legal status to us.

    “And so whatever role works play, they cannot be the ground of our justification, or even the instrument of our justification in the same way that faith is instrumental”

    If you attended WSC you should know that the correct answer is that works are not in ANY WAY an instrument of our justification.

  206. Kevin said,

    April 2, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Todd, the growing number was in reference to the underground aspect. Of course this is anecdotal, but it appears to me that there is an increasing number of those officially undecided regarding the FV for whom, when you listen to their views, it is pretty clear that they have been heavily influenced by the FV teachings. Their denial may seem prudent to some but also seems at least a bit disingenuous.

  207. Todd said,

    April 2, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    David G., in you rview, what’s the connection between Christ’s resurrection and the justification of believers? Are you comfortable saying that the resurrection was Christ’s justification?

  208. April 2, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    No, the resurrection was not Christ’s justification, in the normal (Pauline) sense. Jesus can be said to be “justified” only in the Jamesean sense – to be publically shown or demonstrated to be righteous.

  209. markhorne said,

    April 2, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    But Paul says that Jesus was justified by the Spirit (1 Tim 3.16).

  210. April 2, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    Rev. Horne, what exactly is that supposed to prove? Yes, Paul doesn’t use the term uniformly. But doesn’t the context obviously show us that Paul DOESN’T mean “justified” in I Tim 3 in the same way as he does in Romans (the sense we normally use the term, the sense our confessions and systematics are indexed to)?

  211. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 6:42 am

    David, do you believe that Paul is speaking of justification in the Jamesean sense in 1 Tim 3?

  212. markhorne said,

    April 3, 2007 at 7:36 am

    He means that Jesus was declared righteous just as he teaches in Romans that sinners are declared righteous. It seems to me that you are treating the different basis for Jesus and for sinners as if it can be treated as a difference in the definition of the word itself.

    FWIW:

    http://www.hornes.org/mark/?p=1206

  213. greenbaggins said,

    April 3, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Mark, you cannot possibly demonstrate that the word means “declare righteous” in that passage. He is vindicated *by the Spirit.* Unless you take the modifier to mean “vindicated in spirit,” which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, then what you are left with is the Holy Spirit being the one vindicating Jesus. The phrase could very well be taken as “en plus dative equals agent.” there is absolutely no warrant for your view from the text exegetically. The hymn does not mention the Father as any kind of agent. To take God the Father as agent requires importing the genitives from verse 15 to be the subject somehow in verse 16. Doesn’t work.

  214. Kevin said,

    April 3, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Mark,

    Let me see if I get your drift. A word in Scripture must be used in all contexts in the same exact way? Context makes no difference to the definition of the word? Whether the word is used in reference to Christ or to man makes no difference? Jesus and sinners must have the kind of justification?

    So when Scripture uses the term foreknowledge in reference to God (Acts 2:23; Rom. 8:29, 11:2 I Pet. 1:2, 20) and the same Greek word in reference to men (Acts 26:5; 2 Pet 3:17), we are to understand that foreknowledge means exactly the same thing in both places? So God and man must have the same kind of foreknowledge?

  215. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Lane and Mark, this one has caught me at work instead of at home, so I can’t look at Gaffin’s Centrality of the Resurrection. But isn’t Mark simply summarizing Gaffin’s view of this topic and 1 Tim 3?

    Here’s the line I do know: “Justifying faith is worthless if Christ has not been
    raised, because a dead Christ is an unjustified Christ, and an unjustified Christ means an unjustified believer.”

  216. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Kevin, did you read the post that Mark linked?

  217. markhorne said,

    April 3, 2007 at 10:33 am

    No, Kevin, I’m not saying anything like that. I’m pointing out that different contexts for a word don’t always necessitate different meanings/definitions. I think foreknow might mean something like “foreloved” in the case of God and something else for men (though now that you’ve pointed out the word use I’m going to revisit the issue just in case I’ve made a mistake…).

    But just because things can be complicated doesn’t mean they have to be complicated.

  218. pdugi said,

    April 3, 2007 at 10:56 am

    “Our legal status or verdict is based on the obedience reckoned to us, not on an arbitrary transfer of Christ’s legal status to us.”

    It isn’t arbitrary at all

    1. Its based on union.

    2. Its based on Christ’s MESSIAHSHIP. The role of a Messiah makes transfer of legal status mandatory. He represents his people legally. If Bush were hauled before the court of the UN and found guilty for crimes, the US would pay, because he’s hauled in as a public person.

  219. Susanna said,

    April 3, 2007 at 11:11 am

    You might be interested in checking out this blog on the Federal Vision: http://www.headtoheart-susanna.blogspot.com. It is written by a woman with a different and perhaps “new perspective”?!? on the Federal Vision.

  220. markhorne said,

    April 3, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Greenbaggins, I don’t claim, nor need to claim, evidence for the Father’s agency in 1 Tim 3.16. I claim rather that there is evidence in Romans for the instrumentality of the Spirit (Romans 8).

  221. Susanna said,

    April 3, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Correction: Take off the period after com:
    http://www.headtoheart-susanna.blogspot.com

  222. David Gadbois said,

    April 3, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    pdugi said “1. Its based on union.”

    Union, in the abstract, has no explanatory power here by itself.

    It would be unjust for God to declare a verdict about someone that is not based on the fulfillment of the Law. That fulfillment must either be done by the individual or have a substitute’s fulfillment reckoned to the individual’s account. The verdict must be based on righteousness, either intrinsic or imputed. The “not guilty” verdict cannot be declared of someone without righteousness.

  223. markhorne said,

    April 3, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    How does one seeming injustice help out another one? “That fulfillment must either be done by the individual or have a substitute’s fulfillment reckoned to the individual’s account.” But that is forbidden in Scripture. The soul who sins must die.

    Without an overarching theory of union with Christ and His representative headship, imputation is just as problematic as God forgiving someone without any imputation. In both cases there is injustice.

    Union has *all* the explanatory power.

  224. David Gadbois said,

    April 3, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    The NASB and ESV translators rightly translated the term in I Timothy 3:16 as “vindicated” because of the obvious contextual considerations. It is talking about Christ being “manifested…seen by angels…preached…believed on.” This is talking about Christ being publically vindicated, not being acquitted before the Father in the divine law-court (the sense used in Romans 8, as the opposite of being condemned).

    Here is Calvin on I Timothy 3:16:

    First, justification here denotes an acknowledgment of divine power; as in Psalm 19:9, where it is said, that

    “the judgments of God are justified,”

    that is, are wonderfully and absolutely perfect; 6868 “When he says, ‘They are justified together,’ the meaning is, They are all righteous from the greatest to the least, without a single exception. By this commendation he distinguishes the law of God from the doctrines of men; for no blemish or fault can be found in it, but: it is in all points absolutely perfect.” — Calvin’s Com. the Book of Psalms, vol. 1, p. 323 . and in Psalm 51:5, that “God is justified,” meaning that the praise of his justice is illustriously displayed. So also, (Matthew 11:19, and Luke 7:35,) when Christ says, that

    “Wisdom hath been justified by her children,”

    he means that they have given honor unto her; and when Luke (Luke 7:29) relates that the publicans “justified God,” he means that they acknowledged, with due reverence and gratitude, the grace of God which they beheld in Christ. What we read here has, therefore, the same meaning as if Paul had said, that he who appeared clothed with human flesh was, at the same time, declared to be the Son of God, so that the weakness of the flesh made no diminution of his glory.

    I can only imagine that this bizarre exegesis is driven by the FV desire to continually smear the relationship between Christ and the believer in a pan-Christic doctrine of union (and, of course, by implication to smear the covenants into a monocovental scheme).

    No wonder Shepherd ended up applying Romans 4:5 to Jesus, saying that Jesus’ faith was credited to him for righteousness (in his Call of Grace). That is crazy. That sort of nuttiness we normally would expect of James Jordan. It all adds up to the old liberal scheme where Jesus is the First Christian.

    Keep going this direction, and penal substitution is down the tubes. “Reformed Catholics” are apparently blazing the trail here: http://www.reformedcatholicism.com/?p=1035 in favor of an incoherent and anemic Christus Victor model where Jesus is sorta like a comic book hero.

    And, at the end of the track, it’ll just be moralism and functional Arianism.

  225. pdugi said,

    April 3, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Well, David, I did say TWO things.

    Its based on union.

    There’s lots of kinds of union to be sure.

    The union is the union of messiah and people. Its what a messiah does: represents a people.

    Its not unjust for people of a nation to suffer or be glorified for the actions of its king.

  226. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    David, have you read Gaffin’s book on resurrection? You’re certainly not obligated to swallow the stuff that’s in there, but that’s where I, at least, learned all this bizzare exegesis. And then Ferguson repeated it all in his book on the Holy Spirit, probably out of a desire to make Jesus a comic book hero. Be careful of Ferguson, everyone; he says that the resurrection is also Christ’s own redemption and sanctification.

  227. David Gadbois said,

    April 3, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Rev. Horne said “But that is forbidden in Scripture. The soul who sins must die.”

    Sure, so we need a substitute, right? So how does union with the substitute solve the problem you pose in a way that imputation from the substitute doesn’t?

    But, indeed, Lane has been aruging that BOTH are needed. I’m glad Lane pointed me to Garcia’s article on imputation in the current WTJ on this matter. Since union does not entail a transfusion of Christ’s attributes or nature to the believer’s, imputation is a necessary way of explaining how the believer gains access to Christ’s righteousness within that union.

    So, no, union does NOT have all the explanatory power by itself.

  228. David Gadbois said,

    April 3, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Todd, I’m not going to answer vague second-hand things like that. I need quotes and I need some context in order to know what they were getting at, how they qualified various things, etc.

    And, BTW, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging the Christus Victor motif in the NT, but it is turned into a farce when it displaces penal substitution.

  229. pdugi said,

    April 3, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Nobody really said it does explain everything. Everything Lusk writes about union assumes were talking about union with Messiah Jesus, not Bob down the street.

    The people of the Messiah sharing the verdict of their Messiah just isn’t “arbitrary” as you accused it of being.

  230. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    David, I’ll be happy to provide some quotations after I’m home tonight. But have you read either of the books I mentioned?

    I’ll say again that it’s interesting who gets the benefit of the doubt and who doesn’t in this debate. If Ferguson said it, maybe it’s not so bad, etc.

  231. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Found some on an Amazon preview screen.

    Ferguson: “In Paul’s exposition of the gospel, the categories used to describe the application of redemption to the believer are the categories which explicate the meaning of Christ’s resurrection. In other words, the application of redemption to us is rooted in the application of redemption to Christ.

    “Jesus’ resurrection is viewed as his justification (1 Tim 3:15). In it he was vindicated or justified (edikaothe) by the Spirit. Having been made sin in his death, in his resurrection he was declared as our representative to be (what he in fact always was personally) righteous. He did not ‘see decay’ because he was God’s Holy One (Acts 2:27). Dying on our place as the condemned one, he was reaised as the justified one.”

    At least in this one debate, Ferguson sides with Mark against Lane (justified means declared righteous) and David (the resurrection as Christ’s own justification).

  232. pdugi said,

    April 3, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    “in his resurrection he was declared as our representative to be (what he in fact always was personally) righteous”

    And Ferguson sides with pduggie too!

    *declared as our representative to be what he was personally*

    Since Jesus is declared righteous *as our representative*, we share the verdict.

  233. pdugi said,

    April 3, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Ferguson FTW!

  234. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Sorry to leave you out of the Ferguson connection, Paul!

  235. David Gadbois said,

    April 3, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    “At least in this one debate, Ferguson sides with Mark against Lane (justified means declared righteous) and David (the resurrection as Christ’s own justification).”

    Wrong. It is not the “declare righteous” we object to. That can, by itself, taken to be in the forensic/legal sense (as used in Romans) or as a public declaration (vindication, the Jamesean sense). Notice that Ferguson uses vindication and justification, in this context, interchangeably: “he was vindicated or justified…” He is right in that.

    “And Ferguson sides with pduggie too!”

    You aren’t paying attention if you think we would deny that Jesus is our representative.

    “Since Jesus is declared righteous *as our representative*, we share the verdict.”

    We do share the verdict, but not because of some random transfer because of a nebulous, fuzzy “union.” We share it because, in that union, we are imputed to have his righteousness.

    The only place, so far, I have a problem with Ferguson is talking about “redemption” of Christ. This might put him in the “drunk uncle” category along with Murray.

  236. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    “Wrong. It is not the “declare righteous” we object to.”

    It’s what Lane objected to. #214, above.

    “We share it because, in that union, we are imputed to have his righteousness.”

    Careful in your use of the word imputed there, David. We are imputed? Some wouldn’t approve of that kind of flexibility.

    David, are you comfortable saying that we’re justified because we share in Christ’s justification?

    For the redemption of Christ, we need to blame another drunk uncle, since Ferguson quotes Gaffin. I’ll put this paragraph in soon.

  237. David Gadbois said,

    April 3, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    “It’s what Lane objected to. #214, above”

    Lane, in that context, was talking in the sense of being declared righteous in the divine law-court. He is right on that.

    Lane wouldn’t object to being “declared righteous” in the sense of vindication, which is the term both Lane and Ferguson used.

    “David, are you comfortable saying that we’re justified because we share in Christ’s justification? ”

    No I would not be, because that is equivocation.

  238. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    No, Lane objected to the translation that both Mark and Ferguson provide: “Mark, you cannot possibly demonstrate that the word means “declare righteous” in that passage.” This seems pretty clear, David.

    Jesus wasn’t declared righteous in the divine law court? Even after he had been made sin for us?

  239. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Ferguson again: “Paul views the resurrection of Christ from the dead as his ‘redemption.’ His death is everything that death truly is. In his capacity as the second man, the last Adam, he experienced death as the wages of sin, separation from life, judgment under the wrath of God and alienation from the face of the Father (Rom. 6:10; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13). He died to the sin under whose power he came (Rom. 6:10: ‘the death he died he died to sin). But from death thus conceived Christ was raised, delivered, vindicated or ‘saved’ through the resurrection (1 Tim. 3:15). In his resurrection he was ‘redeemed’ and delivered from death by the power of the Holy Spirit. As R. B. Gaffin, Jr., suggests:

    “It is, then, not only meaningful but necessary to speak of the resurrection as the redemption of Christ. The resurrection is nothing if not his deliverance from the power and curse of death which was in force until the moment of being raised . . . The resurrection is the salvation of Jesus as the last Adam; it and no other event in his experience is the point of *his* transition from wrath to grace.”

  240. David Gadbois said,

    April 3, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    “No, Lane objected to the translation that both Mark and Ferguson provide: “Mark, you cannot possibly demonstrate that the word means “declare righteous” in that passage.” This seems pretty clear, David”

    I’m sure Lane will step in and speak for himself at some point, but he objected to the translation “declare righteous” in the way Mark mark meant it (who insisted it was the full Pauline-Romans sense). This is indeed very clear, if you keep the context of Lane’s objection in mind.

    If “declare righteous” means the same as vindication (in Ferguson’s context), a public sort of “declaration” or demonstration, obviously Lane wouldn’t take exception. And, as I pointed out, the vindication term was likewise used by Ferguson.

  241. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    David, in your view, is there any sense in which the justification of believers is a vindication?

  242. Todd said,

    April 3, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    I finally tracked this one down. I knew that Gaffin had written on this stuff for Modern Reformation, but I couldn’t find it on the MR site:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20010619204430/www.alliancenet.org/pub/mr/mr99/1999.01.JanFeb/mr9901.rbg.resurrection.html

    Be careful! He says that one side of the Reformatin still needs completing.

  243. Stewart said,

    April 3, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Todd, thanks for the link!

  244. Todd said,

    April 4, 2007 at 12:09 am

    I definitely have a “vested interest” in Gaffin, if “vested interest” means loyalty and affection. More to him than to almost anyone–theologically, at least. It continues to be interesting to me to see who thinks he’s a bad guy and who thinks he’s a good guy. Each of Machen’s warrior children draw the battle lines in a different place.

  245. Todd said,

    April 4, 2007 at 12:29 am

    Draws. “Each” is singular.

  246. greenbaggins said,

    April 4, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Todd, David is spot on, and you are in left field. What I am trying to avoid is any sense in which Christ needs the forgiveness of sins, or to have righteousness imputed to Him, when He was always personally and perfectly righteous. Christ doesn’t need saving. If one wants to use the term “declare” in 1 Tim, then it had jolly well better be in the Jamesean sense of “demonstrate.” I do think that 1 Tim 3:16 is parallel to Romans 4:25. But I prefer the translation “vindication” in 1Tim 3. He was shown to the whole world to be in the right; He was vindicated. Certainly He was not made right in the eyes of God, as if He wasn’t right before. This is where I am extremely uncomfortable with many of Mark’s formulations regarding Christ being justified by faith, etc. Christ was vindicated not the way we are justified, but because of His personal and perfect righteousness.

  247. Tim Wilder said,

    April 4, 2007 at 10:13 am

    “He was always personally and perfectly righteous”

    If our sins are imputed to Christ, can’t there be a point when the sins are declared to be expiated? Isn’t that another sort of forensic verdict? Isn’t that where the Resurrection comes in?

  248. Stewart said,

    April 4, 2007 at 10:23 am

    “This is where I am extremely uncomfortable with many of Mark’s formulations regarding Christ being justified by faith, etc. Christ was vindicated not the way we are justified, but because of His personal and perfect righteousness.”

    But wasn’t he also vindicated because he was faithful to the Father? Was he not the one faithful Israelite?

  249. Todd said,

    April 4, 2007 at 11:34 am

    “Christ doesn’t need saving.”

    Not even from death?

    Gaffin: “The resurrection is the salvation of Jesus as the last Adam; it and no other event in his experience is the point of *his* transition from wrath to grace.”

  250. David Gadbois said,

    April 4, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Oh, please. This is an infantile redefinition of terms. If you want to empty out the term and define salvation or redemption as being saved from various powers and EFFECTS of sin, rather than sin itself, then anyone can agree. But I will reserve the right to call it silly and arbitrary.

  251. David Gadbois said,

    April 4, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    I wasn’t joking when I said that Arianism is at the end of this track. The more you guys smear the line between the Savior and the saved the more FV is moving in that direction. I just hope someone pulls the brakes before it gets to the end of the track.

  252. pdugi said,

    April 4, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    I think the problem I have with the way Lane and David are discussing this is that theyre turning imputation into a discrete act with a logic all its own, instead of a mere explanation of the justness of God’s justifying act on sinners.

    “Todd, David is spot on, and you are in left field. What I am trying to avoid is any sense in which Christ needs the forgiveness of sins, or to have righteousness imputed to Him, when He was always personally and perfectly righteous. Christ doesn’t need saving. If one wants to use the term “declare” in 1 Tim, then it had jolly well better be in the Jamesean sense of “demonstrate.””

    We go through a legal proceeding, and end up with the declared status righteous at the end. So does Jesus. His is personal, ours is by virtue of his representation of us, which is another wasy of saying it isn’t inherent, so is imputed.

    “Certainly He was not made right in the eyes of God, as if He wasn’t right before.”

    Irrelevant. The issue is someone is brought into court on charges. Their status is indeterminate, until it is declared by the judge. Jesus can be in court, and then be declared righteous. We can be in court, and we can be declared rigtheous.

    What’s the point of saying “hypothetically, you COULD be justified if you kept the law perfectly” if in fact, people who do that never have their day in court and receive a justificatory declaration?

    Further, Jesus died a shameful CURSED death on a cross. He was objectively under the Law’s curse MERELY because of his execution style. His ressurection was an overturning of that judgement, and is a justifcation in that sense.

  253. pdugi said,

    April 4, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Also, one of the last things we heard from jesus on the cross was “My God My God, why have you forsaken me”.

    Jesus needs something declared about him to overturn that verdict.

  254. Todd said,

    April 4, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Silly and arbitrary when Gaffin and Ferguson do it?

  255. Andy Gilman said,

    April 4, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Paul,

    People who keep the law perfectly don’t end up in court, unless someone brings false charges against them. Who is bringing the false charges against the Son? Is the Father charging the Son with unrighteousness, hauling him into court, and then declaring him to be righteous?

  256. Mark said,

    April 4, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    God brought charges against the Son. His scream, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me,” allows the Church to triumphantly cry, “Who is there to bring a charge against God’s elect.”

    In the first sermon of the Christian Church the Apostle Peter declared to the crowds that Jesus was the one faithful Israelite whom God has saved, the only one to whom he could justly apply his promises of salvation which he had made to David and others. It is precisely because Jesus was condemned for sins he did not commit that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It is precisely because Jesus deserved to be saved from the condemnation of death that he suffered that we can be vindicated even though we deserve to be punished.

  257. Todd said,

    April 4, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    “People who keep the law perfectly don’t end up in court, unless someone brings false charges against them.”

    Or unless they have taken the sins of others onto themselves, in order to bear the consequences on their behalf.

  258. David Gadbois said,

    April 4, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    “God brought charges against the Son. His scream, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me,” allows the Church to triumphantly cry, “Who is there to bring a charge against God’s elect.”

    Bringing punishment and bringing charges are two different things. Penal substitution entails the former, not the latter.

  259. Mark said,

    April 4, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    OK, God brought judicial sentence against the Son….

  260. Andy Gilman said,

    April 4, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Todd,

    The fact that the sins of the elect are imputed to Christ, is not the same as the Father bringing charges against him. Christ bore the guilt of our sins, he did not thereby become a sinner. Why does the Father bring charges against the sinless Son who agrees to bear the guilt of our sin?

  261. Andy Gilman said,

    April 4, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    For Lusk, in his “Reply to the OPC…”, God doesn’t justify the ungodly by imputation of an “alien” righteousness, God justifies the righteous. Faith unites us to Christ. This union with Christ (or rather, the legal/declarative/judicial aspect of union with Christ) results in the verdict which Christ received at the resurrection being given to all those who are “in Christ.” In this paper, imputation is sometimes a “feature of union,” or an “aspect of union,” and other times it is a “function of union,” or a “corollary of union.” In some sentences Lusk presents union as something logically prior to imputation (“because I am in the Righteous One…I am righteous…”), in other sentences he makes imputation a defining element of union.

    Although I find him very confusing, his main point seems to be that Christ’s righteousness becomes ours by virtue of “organic union with Christ.” Subsequently, God declares us to be righteous because we are righteous “in fact.”

    If, when we enter into an “organic union” with Christ, we are (not by imputation but in fact) righteous, what further “declaration” or “justification” is necessary? Do the just need to be justified? Only if we limit “justification” to the sense of “vindication on the last day,” can we speak this way. It is not the concept of imputation which is made redundant in Lusk’s soteriology; rather it is the whole concept of the present, definitive “justification of sinners,” which is eliminated. Sinners are not justified in a forensic, declarative sense, by faith; sinners are “organically united” to the sinless, justified One, and they, therefore, share in Christ’s final vindication. As Lusk’s OPC critics suggest, union has swallowed up justification.

    But how about sanctification? Is Christ sanctified? If we are in “organic union” with the Holy One, are we not also holy? If so, then we certainly don’t need to become holy, or to become more holy, any more than we need to become more justified. If we are justified by virtue of the fact that we are organically united to the justified One, then doesn’t it follow that we are holy because we are organically united to the holy One? Or does the “organic union” only involve us in Christ’s verdict/vindication? And what about “Repentance unto Life?” Does Christ have need of continual repentance? No. Then why would we who are “organically united” to Christ have need of continual repentance?

    At one point in the paper Lusk says that the union “includes a legal/forensic component, but much else besides.” And later he says: “Christ and his benefits are a package. You only get Christ if you ‘marry’ him – and if you do marry him you get everything he has to offer.” The “component” of union which Lusk emphasizes here is that “we are judicially and legally one with Christ.” He adds via a footnote that: “the illustration does not blur the personal distinctions between believers and Christ. We remain ontologically distinct from Christ, even as we become legally one with him.” So we are justified because we are legally one with Christ. I would like to know in what other ways Lusk believes union with Christ makes us “one with Christ,” besides a “legal oneness.”

    Is “union with Christ” either logically or temporally prior to legal/forensic/judicial justification in Lusk’s scheme? If so, then “union with Christ” cannot be defined as a “legal oneness,” since the union exists prior to the “legal aspect” of the union. If instead, legal/forensic/judicial justification is an essential element of the definition of “union with Christ,” then Lusk can’t say or imply that we are justified “because” we are united to Christ. He must conclude that God justifies in the very “act of unition.” The “act of unition” must include justification. If the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is essential to the very act of unition, then imputation is not “because of” union. In this case, we can still emphasize the great doctrine of “justification by faith.” But in Lusk’s scheme the doctrine becomes “justification by union, and union by faith.” I doubt that Lusk will want to locate justification in the very “act of union,” because that would negatively effect his “union as an organizing principle,” and it would suggest that justification is a once-for-all, definitive act.

    This doesn’t accord with the FV agenda, which is to make the union dissolvable. So the heretofore righteous (by “legal oneness”) wife might eventually choose infidelity, at which time the husband will begin divorce proceedings against her.

  262. pduggie said,

    April 4, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    “People who keep the law perfectly don’t end up in court, unless someone brings false charges against them. Who is bringing the false charges against the Son?”

    He was born under the law, and ended up a curse for us, by being hung on a tree. That counts for something.

  263. Tim Wilder said,

    April 5, 2007 at 8:00 am

    Mark said: #257

    “In the first sermon of the Christian Church the Apostle Peter declared to the crowds that Jesus was the one faithful Israelite whom God has saved, the only one to whom he could justly apply his promises of salvation which he had made to David and others.”

    This is EXACTLY why Norman Shepherd is wrong. He sees the righteousness, the faithfulness, as something achieved by everybody. So he went off the tracks initially when he tried to apply the messianic righteousness of the psalms to everybody, including himself, not to the one faithful Israelite.

  264. Andy Gilman said,

    April 5, 2007 at 10:16 am

    “He was born under the law, and ended up a curse for us, by being hung on a tree. That counts for something.”

    Paul,

    When you find someone who proposes that Christ’s atoning sacrifice counts for *nothing*, you will have a good place to apply this argument. But in the context of trying to find a rationale for why the sinless, perfectly just Savior, stands accused by the Father and in need of the Father’s legal/forensic declaration of righteousness, it’s not very convincing.

  265. pduggan said,

    April 5, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    I’ve never said Jesus stood accused “by the Father” as such. Judges don’t accuse, anyway.

    I’m confused how anyone can think God can bring a just judicial punishment on sin, without first having a valid verdict.

    Frankly, I’m flabbergasted that anyone needs to be convinced that Jesus going through a just judicial penalty means that he stands in need of a justificatory verdict, and that that isn’t what all reformed christains everywhere believe.

    Youre mis-reading what I’m saying if you think I’m tending in any way to say Jesus did any thing bad and needed legal or any other kind of forgiveness.

    Before a court meets, there is no guilt. After a court decides, there is a decion or guilt or innocense. The decision can’t exist before the court declares.

    ““People who keep the law perfectly don’t end up in court, unless someone brings false charges against them. Who is bringing the false charges against the Son?””

    Pilate (“Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.)

    Pilate has God-given delagated authorty from God to make the call. He makes a bad call, and God overrules it in ressurection.

  266. pduggie said,

    April 5, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Is the issue here that some think there is some great divine between being accursed by God and a judicial penalty?

    Isn’t what I’m saying said by the Heidelberg?

    “39. Is there anything more in his being “crucified”, than if he had died some other death? Answer: Yes there is; for thereby I am assured, that he took on him the curse which lay upon me; (a) for the death of the cross was accursed of God. (b)”

    and

    “37. What dost thou understand by the words, “He suffered”?
    Answer: That he, all the time that he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, sustained in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind: (a) that so by his passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice, (b) he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, (c) and obtain for us the favour of God, righteousness and eternal life. (d)”

    He suffered under God’s judicial wrath, justly brought because Jesus was the messiah and mediator and surety of a sin-guilty people. Not justly brought for anythign he did himself, surely.

  267. David Gadbois said,

    April 5, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Paul, the Substitute is NOT in the same position as the guilty one He is substituting for. The Substitute’s innocence is never in question in the divine law-court. The Substitute bears the penalty of the guilty, but does not need to be exhonerated before God.

    You can’t prop up your case by saying that Pilate accused Jesus. Pilate’s law-court is not the same as God’s law-court, which is what we are talking about when we talk about justification.

  268. Andy Gilman said,

    April 5, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    But you are now talking about justification in terms of the vindication of the righteous. I’m not sure, but I don’t think anyone disputes the fact that our Lord was vindicated in the resurrection. But you said:

    [begin quote]
    We go through a legal proceeding, and end up with the declared status righteous at the end. So does Jesus. His is personal, ours is by virtue of his representation of us, which is another wasy of saying it isn’t inherent, so is imputed.
    .
    .
    .
    The issue is someone is brought into court on charges. Their status is indeterminate, until it is declared by the judge. Jesus can be in court, and then be declared righteous. We can be in court, and we can be declared rigtheous.
    [end quote]

    The difference is that the declaration in relation to Jesus is simply vindication. Jesus was always righteous. The sinner who enters that courtroom is unrighteous and must be pardoned, or constituted righteous via imputation, before he can be declared righteous. Jesus had no need of pardon. You remove the whole notion of pardon from justification, and turn it into merely vindication at the last day. The idea that a sinner is “justified by faith” as a present, definitive act is lost in your system. This is because the “union with Christ” “organizing principle” you are applying has swallowed up justification. Christians can’t speak of being presently justified by grace through faith, they can only speak of a possible vindication on the last day.

    WCF 11:1
    Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by *pardoning* their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous…

  269. Andy Gilman said,

    April 5, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    By the way, my previous post was directed to Paul.

  270. pduggie said,

    April 5, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    “Jesus had no need of pardon”

    Jesus was dead. I really hope God doesn’t let that judgement stand. And he didn’t

    And we share that status that Jesus acheived when God accounts us as people who want Jesus status by faith.

  271. pduggie said,

    April 5, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Lane said

    “What I am trying to avoid is any sense in which Christ needs the forgiveness of sins, or to have righteousness imputed to Him, when He was always personally and perfectly righteous. Christ doesn’t need saving.”

    Fine. I agree

    “If one wants to use the term “declare” in 1 Tim, then it had jolly well better be in the Jamesean sense of “demonstrate.”

    Wrong. In James, justify just means, “show evidence of”. it doesn’t have a courtroom context. But Jesus is justified in the sense of “proved in a court to be righteous”, which can happen 2 ways, by personal guiltlessness (which he has), or by representative guitlessness of a messiah (which is what we have, via union)

    But a court is a place where judicial acts are performed. Jesus personal righeousness isn’t judicially determined UNTIL IT IS, in the RESSURECTION.

    Lane seems to be making the mistake of equiating the imputation of righteousness with the delcaration of someone who possesess (imputed OR inherent) righteousness is a righteous person before the court. justification is, strictly speaking, the declaration itself and not imputation per se.

    Juditication for Jesus takes place because he is IN FACT righteous, and isn’t ‘demonstrative’ in the Jamesean sense. It takes place for us because our MESSIAH is IN FACT righteous. But we share HIS VERDICT, delivered after he suffered JUSTLY the penalty of death which was his CONDEMNATION (a legal term, the opposite of justification)

  272. pduggie said,

    April 5, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    “Christians can’t speak of being presently justified by grace through faith, they can only speak of a possible vindication on the last day.”

    Baloney! I’ll speak of that all the time. I see no reason why I can’t nor that I’ve denied it

  273. pduggie said,

    April 5, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    “The difference is that the declaration in relation to Jesus is simply vindication. Jesus was always righteous.”

    You only know that because of the death and ressurection narrative. Which means it isn’t simple vindication. “Simple” vindication, Jesus wouldn’t have been handed over to the gentiles, suffered unter pontius pilate, died or been forsaken by the Father and under the power of death for three days.

    Its very complex very U-SHAPED vincication. You guys want to flatten the u-shape of our redemtion. Why I don’t know.

    And during Easter week, no less. (I know, you’re all TR puritains and are preaching on 2 Samule 5 this sunday because thats the next chapter in the series :-))

  274. Steven W said,

    April 5, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    I bet if you looked through history, Pilate’s court would be analagous to Satan’s in a ransom theory model. Death is one of the things which we need vindication from, so Pduggie is correct to put that together. Death is the death penalty, so forensics and metaphysics are happily wed. Again the resurrection does what y’all want active obedience to do, so there’s no quarrel.

  275. Andy Gilman said,

    April 6, 2007 at 9:30 am

    I had said:
    “[Paul] can’t speak of being presently justified by grace through faith, [he] can only speak of a possible vindication on the last day.”

    And Paul replied:
    “Baloney! I’ll speak of that all the time. I see no reason why I can’t nor that I’ve denied it.”

    Let me revise my statement then:

    If Paul wants to be logically consistent with the “union with Christ” organizing principle, he cannot speak of being presently justified (in the WCF 11:1 sense), and he will have to limit himself to talking about justification as a possible vindication on the last day.

    Paul wants to equate the “legal proceeding” which the sinner is subjected to, with the legal proceeding which Jesus was subjected to. Jesus’ “justification” was a vindication of his righteousness. The judge did not have to pardon him in order to “justify” him. But the sinner’s justification requires that he first be pardoned and accounted righteous, by Christ’s obedience and satifaction being imputed to him.

    Paul says: “justification is, strictly speaking, the declaration itself and not imputation per se.” But that is what is in dispute. For example, according to WCF 11:1, Justification is not, strictly speaking, the declaration itself. Pardon and imputation are essential to justification in WCF 11:1. The sinner must be constituted righteous before he is declared righteous. Being constituted righteous is necessary for the declaration. Justification is not merely declaration.

    But in Paul’s system justification is simply that “we share HIS VERDICT.” “HIS VERDICT” is the vindication he received at the resurrection, which was the judge’s declaration that he was, in fact, righteous. Do we share that verdict without first being pardoned or constituted righteous? “No,” I expect Paul to say, “pardon and imputation (of some sort) are included in the union.” If what I’ve stated so far is true, then it makes no sense to talk about a definitive act of justification (in the WCF 11:1 sense of pardoning our sins and accounting or accepting us as righteous) by virtue of union. Union has made justification in the WCF 11:1 sense redundant. We are presently righteous (for judicial purposes) by virtue of “union by faith,” and therefore there is no need for us to be pardoned and accepted as righteous, i.e., to be justified in the WCF 11:1 sense. All that remains for us is to be vindicated at the last day, just as Jesus was vindicated at the resurrection. Union has swallowed up justification in the WCF 11:1 sense. Union has solved a theological problem which was previously solved by the idea of justification.

    Other evidence that union has swallowed up justification is that the definitive act of justification in the WCF 11:1 sense is a once-for-all act. But in the “union with Christ” paradigm, there is nothing once-for-all about it, because, though believers are said to receive “all of Christ’s benefits” by virtue of union, perseverence is not necessarily one of those benefits. Those truly united with Christ might apostasize and sever the union. Presumably then, they could one day be reunited and once again share Christ’s verdict.

  276. markhorne said,

    April 6, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Gaffin again: “Declare” in Romans 1.1-4 means more than simply demonstrate.

    So I don’t see any reason “justify” needs to be reduced to that either. An official declaration by God does more than prove a fact, it bestows a new status. Deny Jesus was really justified and you deny he was truly condemned. The cross ceases to release us from our sins if we follow this path.

  277. Steven W said,

    April 6, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Ya know, after thinking about ransom theory a little bit more, I bet it is the Jews who are Satan, with Pilate being analogous to God who finds no fault in Christ. The Jews, like Satan in the first chapter of Job, seek to accuse Jesus anyway. Jesus is faithful unto death though, and the Spirit’s resurrecting of Jesus justifies him, thus making the act fully Trinitarian.

  278. Andy Gilman said,

    April 6, 2007 at 11:15 am

    “An official declaration by God does more than prove a fact, it bestows a new status. Deny Jesus was really justified and you deny he was truly condemned. The cross ceases to release us from our sins if we follow this path.”

    What was the “status” Jesus had before he was “declared” just? Did he go from being guilty to being just, or did he go from being accused to being acquitted?

  279. David Gadbois said,

    April 6, 2007 at 11:39 am

    pduggie, your operating assumption seems to be that, in order for Jesus to be released from the penalty of sin, he must be somehow justified before God’s law-court and somehow redeemed/saved. Nonsense. Jesus was raised because he had paid the price – the wrath of the Father was spent and satisfied. The demands of the law were satisfied.

    This bizarre model would also seem to imply that Jesus’ resurrection was an act of God’s grace. It was not – Jesus’ atonement was an act of justice TO THE END that we could receive grace.

  280. Todd said,

    April 6, 2007 at 11:41 am

    “Did he go from being guilty to being just, or did he go from being accused to being acquitted?”

    Or did he go from being condemned to being justified/vindicated?

  281. Todd said,

    April 6, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Negative publicity for Gary Johnson:

    http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=3760

  282. pduggie said,

    April 6, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    “your operating assumption seems to be that, in order for Jesus to be released from the penalty of sin, he must be somehow justified before God’s law-court and somehow redeemed/saved.”

    Well, I’d refrain fromk using “redeemed or saved” in this instance, bcause you seem to mean by them redeemed from personal sin, or saved from hell.

    “Nonsense. Jesus was raised because he had paid the price – the wrath of the Father was spent and satisfied.”

    Which is what I’m saying too. He was justly justified. His condemnation (death) was reversed because he was just as our representative.

    “The demands of the law were satisfied.”

    Right, which is why he was justified by God, by the ressurection. You CAN be justified by meeting the demands of the law, if the demands of the law could be met, right?

    “This bizarre model would also seem to imply that Jesus’ resurrection was an act of God’s grace.”

    I don’t know where you get that. God wouldn’t have been true to his justice to leave his Holy One in the grave, condemened by His Law. So he justly justified him. Is this REALLY in dispute? Lane, help? Where am I going off the rails here?

    “It was not – Jesus’ atonement was an act of justice TO THE END that we could receive grace.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

  283. pduggie said,

    April 6, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    “Did he go from being guilty to being just, or did he go from being accused to being acquitted?”

    A very good diagnostic question

    1. It would seem strange, wouldn’t it, to say Jesus was bearing our guilt, and God punished our guilt in Him, while saying Jesus wasn’t legally guilty.

    What legal basis did God have for holding him responsible for our guilt? A judge can’t be arbitrary in sassigning guilt and punishing the guilty.

    Saying we’re accounted righteous because of his imputed merit, liekwsise, if God is imputing our demerit, God is accounting him guilty? Isn’t he. OF COURSE, at the same time, Jesus isn’t personally wicked, but in terms of the legal proceeding, on the cross, God condemns sin in the flesh of Jesus Christ, the God-man.

    2. I would say the *pirmary* stream of accused/vindicated going on with Jesus Christ personally. But he stands for us, and as our representative, he bears guilt for our sake, is accounted guilty for our sake, thus condemened for our sake, and is justified and vindicated for our sake.

  284. Todd said,

    April 6, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Christ as legally guilty rathen than personally guilty seems like a helpful contrast.

  285. pduggie said,

    April 6, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    ANDY: “Do we share that verdict without first being pardoned or constituted righteous? “No,” I expect Paul to say, “pardon and imputation (of some sort) are included in the union.””

    I think I’m thinking that the pardon and imputation happened because of the sharing of the verdict. The new verdict replaces the old.

    ANDY: “If what I’ve stated so far is true, then it makes no sense to talk about a definitive act of justification (in the WCF 11:1 sense of pardoning our sins and accounting or accepting us as righteous) by virtue of union. Union has made justification in the WCF 11:1 sense redundant.”

    I’ll have to think about this more. One question is, so what?

    Another question is, how much is the description of the actitudinousness of justification a safeguard against error, and a seeking to explain everything is namable bifircated categories, rather than allowing for things to be included in or reflexes of other things. Marriage is a legal bond, but can be comprehended in the simplicity of the whole legal bond that includes all its parts, or you can talk about all the “acts” involved. I think the forest might get missed for the trees. It surely is odd that we have heated arguments about the trees among those who all agree on the status of the forest.

    Fisher says: “Why is justification called an act? A. Because, like the sentence of a judge, it is completed at once, and not carried on gradually like a work of time” Ok. I agree, justification is a “act” in that it isn’t a work. But it also is a “thingy” that is included with our relation to Jesus as Messiah, who by nature of his job description shares all with his people.

    Another question is, isn’t that what Gaffin and Murray have determined Paul is saying exegetically? We don’t have acts with an isolated logic “all their own” but we have all these things in common share with the messiah?

    Sometimes its appropriate to speak that way, as the WSC speaks of “benefits that *flow from* effectual calling, or when Fisher’s catechism says “What is the connexion between effectual calling and justification? A. In effectual calling, sinners, being united to Christ by faith, have thereby communion with him in his righteousness, for justification”

    ANDY: “We are presently righteous (for judicial purposes) by virtue of “union by faith,” and therefore there is no need for us to be pardoned and accepted as righteous, i.e., to be justified in the WCF 11:1 sense.”

    I’d prefer to say, we are righteous by union by faith, and THEREFORE WE ARE pardoned and accepted as righteous.

    ANDY: “All that remains for us is to be vindicated at the last day, just as Jesus was vindicated at the resurrection. Union has swallowed up justification in the WCF 11:1 sense. Union has solved a theological problem which was previously solved by the idea of justification.”

    I hear you. I love the details of reformed dogmatic theology. I love fishers 32 sub-questions on Justification. But I also think in the back of my mind, hey, isn’t it interesting that, say, Wright’s radical simplification of the reformed schema 1) covers all the bases AFAIK (assume for debate) 2) is closely tied to the text 3) doesn’t realy enatil anything our system denies (assume for debate).

    So I find that the *elegance* of Lusk’s or Wrights, or perhaps what I’m saying, simplified systems are a factor in their favor.

    a) it reduceds accumulated bricabrac
    b) it is simpler to understand (fisher’s quote above says everything we need to know)
    c) it may possibly promote Christian unity, as a statement that everyone can undertsand. If our bricabrac is getting in the way of Christian unity, shouldn’t we think about putting some of it in the attic?

    Yes, theres problems with all of the above. Thanks for shaprneing the iron here.

  286. Andy Gilman said,

    April 6, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Todd says:

    “Or did he go from being condemned to being justified/vindicated?”

    By whom was the Son condemned? Was he condemned by the Father? If yes, then does the Father condemn the guiltless? “No,” I expect you to say, “he condemns the guilty, and the Son vicariously bore our guilt.” But then, does the Father justify the guilty? Why would the Father justify the guilty by raising him from the dead?

    Paul says:

    “God wouldn’t have been true to his justice to leave his Holy One in the grave, condemened by His Law.”

    But why not? If the the Son was truly “condemned by His Law” why shouldn’t he remain in the grave? No, the Son was condemned by Roman law (even though Pilate, the judge, eventually declared him to be guiltless). He wasn’t condemned by God’s law. He died an ignominious death as a sacrificial lamb, so that we wouldn’t have to die. The innocent bore the consequences of the guilt of the wicked, i.e., the wrath of God. He didn’t become guilty thereby, and somehow in need of a change of status from “guilty” to “righteous.” He raised himself from the grave just as much as he was raised by the Father or the Spirit. His resurrection was a vindication of his guiltlessness, not a “change in status.”

  287. pduggie said,

    April 6, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Special thanks to Andy for his calm, measured, gracious and gentle interaction in this discussion.

  288. Craig Phelps said,

    April 6, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Paul, unity around the truth of the gospel is like the oil on Aaron’s beard.
    Otherwise, why remain in schism with Rome over “non-essentials” of ecclesiology, soteriology, … ?

  289. pduggie said,

    April 6, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    “But why not? If the the Son was truly “condemned by His Law” why shouldn’t he remain in the grave? ”

    Good question. I suppose Shepherd would freak David Gadbois out by saying that God had to be faithful to his promise to Abraham that his seed would be heir of the world through the righteousnes of faith apart from the Law

    “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” (interesting, now I see where Shep gets his insistence that Jesus received promises by faith, not law. That’s what Paul SEEMS to be saying…)

    I’d probably say that it is because of the promise God made to Christ, and because his death fulfilled the legal requirement. The law can bring death, but it can’t bring MORE than death.

    “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.”

    “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ;”

    We’re dead to the law, because our Messiah is dead to the law. If messiah is dead to the law, God can bring (and must bring) his promise of inheritance to fruition.

  290. Andy Gilman said,

    April 6, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Todd said:

    “Christ as legally guilty rathen than personally guilty seems like a helpful contrast.”

    I’m not sure what that could mean. All guilt is guilt before the law. Person’s are either guilty or innocent before the law. A person can’t be “legally guilty” but “personally innocent.”

    Paul said:

    “Jesus isn’t personally wicked, but in terms of the legal proceeding, on the cross, God condemns sin in the flesh of Jesus Christ, the God-man.”

    I’m not sure in what sense the proceeding on the cross was a legal one. It was a pouring out of wrath upon the lamb of God who bore our sins, while he still remained sinless. On the cross, the judgment of God was poured out on the innocent, AS IF he were guilty, not because he was guilty. In the plan of redemption, the innocent Son voluntarily agreed to bear the Father’s wrath in our place.

  291. pduggie said,

    April 6, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    “It was a pouring out of wrath [LEGAL TERM] upon the lamb of God who bore [LEGAL TERM] our sins, while he still remained sinless. On the cross, the judgment [LEGAL TERM] of God was poured out on the innocent [LEGAL TERM] , AS IF [*****] he were guilty [LEGAL TERM] , not because he was guilty [LEGAL TERM] . In the plan of redemption, the innocent [LEGAL TERM] Son voluntarily agreed to bear the Father’s wrath in our place.”

    You ask how the cross can be legal, but use legal terms to talk about it.

    [****] So is it a “legal fiction” that God applies the wrath we were due to Jesus? Why not?

    Jesus is “found guilty” because God is counting our sins as his (just like he counts his righteousness as ours, right? That’s what double imputation is supposed to mean, isn’t it)

    But he isn’t personally guilty. So he is exonerated after receiving the penalty the sins that are imputed to him deserve.

    I’m not sure why the Son’t voluteering to take the guilty verdict we deserved renders it a non-legal verdict.

  292. Andy Gilman said,

    April 6, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    I entertain the possibility that I don’t know what I’m talking about here! …

    But it seems to me that the question of legality doesn’t enter into the action of God in pouring out his wrath upon the substitutionary, sacrificial lamb, any more than legality enters into the question of the Son agreeing, in the plan of redemption, to bear God’s wrath in place of the elect. Was the plan of redemption a legal agreement? When the passover lamb is slaughtered and its blood is spread on the doorpost, do we think of that as a legal judgment on the lamb? The atoning sacrifice of Christ is an act of God’s love, not a judgment according to law.

    The question of law comes in because we stand condemned by the law due to our sin. When God imputes our sins to Christ and his righteousness to us, is that a courtroom action, or is it a gratious gift of God’s love? It is because we are gratiously clothed in Christ’s righteousness, that we ourselves no longer stand condemned by the law, and therefore we do not have to suffer God’s wrath. The legal transaction is that Christ’s righteousness covers our multitude of sins when we stand at the bar of God’s justice. The righteousness which is imputed to us is a free gift, not a judgment awarded by the court.

    When Christ suffered on the cross, Peter tells us, it was the righteous suffering for the unrighteous. Can he be both guilty and righteous at the same time?

  293. Jon Rollen said,

    April 7, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Honestly, too many responses for me to read. I guess your analogy breaks down Green, because Wilson has been asking for a debate with the adamant opponents of the “FV” and they won’t step to the plate. To try to put Scott Clark, you, or any of the other would be anti-FV guys in the same camp as John Owen is complete hubris.

    He would be embarrassed that such cowards, equally dangerous ethical position as any “FV” theological positions, because it is the fruit of their theology, are trying to claim his name.

    I admonish the anti-FV everywhere to repent of their unwillingness to have their views examined in any public setting, but rather doing heresy trials on the cheap, namely, internet blogs, and enter into a debate. Until then, I see you guys doing a lot of huffin-n-puffin and having a whole lot of trouble knockin’ down the house of straw you’ve built. Repent you anti-FV, especially if you hold to the WCF, including the catechisms and you pay attention to what it says about the ninth commandment, but that appears irrelevant to you guys. Repent you anti-FV. Repent!

    Seriously, a bunch of cowards.

  294. greenbaggins said,

    April 7, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Jon, this remark is completely out of line. You don’t know the motives of Clark, Duncan, Beisner, etc. on why they will not debate Wilson. Another remark like that, and your comments will be edited.

  295. markhorne said,

    April 7, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    The remark is completely accurate and completely in keeping with a blog that posts idiotic heresy accusations. You set the tune, but complain when others dance.

  296. greenbaggins said,

    April 7, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Mark, I was referring to the accusations of cowardice, which are utterly ridiculous. He has not asked these critics what their motives are for not debating Wilson or others. It is also ridiculous to say that the critics are not willing to have their views examined. Is not the flood of publications publicly examinable? Are not these authors publicly stating their views? And is not the SJC dealing with Wilkins? And is there not a study committee?

    Therefore, the comment is out of line.

  297. Jon Rollen said,

    April 7, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Green,

    It is your blog, so you can do you what you want, but for all the Goliath talking on blogs and discussions boards I am amazed that none of these guys have the time (which all the writing on the blogs and discussion boards indicate to the contrary), or are good debaters (which their constant writing on the subject seems to suggest that they at least want to debate and, I agree, they aren’t that good. Even if they aren’t very good public, Doug Wilson has invited them to written debates, so pick the forum), or don’t want to acknowledge them by giving a public stage (which the continued acknowledging via blogs and discussion boards and by name indicates to the contrary). “Is there not a cause?”

    What is the motivation? Will you debate Doug Wilson? If not, why not? Seriously, what is your motive? Ask Scott Clark explicitly why he will not debate in public those he claims are heretics? Was Paul afraid to oppose Peter to his face? Was Athanasius afraid to go against the world? You are right, I don’t know their motives, and I apologize for calling them cowards, but will one of you guys step up and debate these guys publicly? At the least, spell out explicitly your motives on why you keep writing on the topic, denouncing these men in the most vehement terms and, yet, you will not debate?

    As the WCF asks: What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?

    Answer: The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calls for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice;speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, tale bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vainglorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults;hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession;unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering: What we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.

    Here you are calling people to repentance, but will have a debate with Doug Wilson on your blog? Seriously, if you are saying, “YOU NEED TO REPENT YOU WICKED MAN!”

    Keeping with your analogy: John Owen debated Baxter, not who he wanted Baxter to be.

  298. greenbaggins said,

    April 7, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    You haven’t read Blog and Mablog recently have you? Look at the comments under “Still no debate?” I am not at liberty to divulge Clark’s motives, but I can certainly say that cowardice isn’t one of them at all. Anyone who has read Clark’s recently edited book can hardly call him a coward. The same is true for all the other folk on the side of the critics.

  299. Jon Rollen said,

    April 7, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Until now, I haven’t read the comments section on Blog and Mablog and glad to hear that you will be debating Doug, although the “blog to blog” condition seems a bit strange to me. Why it cannot be done on one blog seems silly, but…

    After all is said and done and if it is shown that FV is in line with the historic faith, then will you write a big ol’ apology and repentance on this here blog? Will you learn from Baxter? Also, will you say that Clark, et al., need to repent and that are in violation of the WLC Q 45? Will you denounce them in the same vitriolic language that you and they have heeped upon the “FV” crowd?

    Personally, I am satisfied with you simply acknowledging your error, but for all the grand standing that goes on in these “discussions” I think that might be apropros.

  300. greenbaggins said,

    April 7, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    The more I read, the more convinced I am that the FV is serious doctrinal error. In other words, you’ve got a bit “if” there, especially given the fact that no NAPARC denomination has yet exonerated the FV, and some have condemned it. The tide is not sweeping the FV way.

    What I have learned from Baxter is that Baxter’s theology is completely off when it comes to justification!

    It seems that you have not been a part of the extremely lengthy debates that have already taken place on this blog (see under indices in the category section and look up Federal Vision). We have not been letting the grass grow under our feet when it comes to the FV. You seem to think that it won’t take much argumentation for the FV to be exonerated. I just don’t see that.

  301. Jon Rollen said,

    April 7, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    I’ll take that as a “yes”.

    Is “grass” opposed to “tares” a Freudian slip?

    Enjoy the resurrected One. As Paul says, “I delivered to you as first importance: pactum salutis, foedus operum, foedus gratiae…”

    He is Risen!

    He is risen indeed!

  302. April 8, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Jon, Mark & others of their stripe
    I have agreed to a public debate with Wilson ( he has recently called me out by name)- but have stipulated a non-negotiable condition. This is posted in the comments section under Wes White paper on Shepherd that Lane made available for the souixland prebytery report.

  303. Todd said,

    April 8, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Gary, are you talking directly with Wilson about your stipulated condition?

  304. April 9, 2007 at 6:50 am

    Todd
    Wilson read Lane’s blog, as his recent trip around the May fair pole against me showed.

  305. Todd said,

    April 9, 2007 at 7:03 am

    So you’re not actually talking to him directly?

  306. April 9, 2007 at 7:18 am

    Todd
    I would quote the words of George Bush Sr. ” Read my lips” but this is a blog and I guess you are going to have to strain your brain trying to figure out what my words mean.

  307. Austin Storm said,

    April 9, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Mr. Johnson,

    I would still like you to back up this statement: “Wilson goes into a rage accusing us of distortion, misrepresentation, slander and the like.”

    I have never seen Pastor Wilson go into a rage in the time I have known him. I also read his blog and the tone there has never been anything like “going into a rage.”

  308. April 10, 2007 at 6:42 am

    Austin
    Well I guess it all depends on how you read him. I do think Doug is trying to tone it down,as witnessed by his recent effort to clarify his remark about ‘yelling at his windshield’ while listening to the WTSC conference on the FV, saying that this was just a figure of speech. I don’t buy that-he is very adapt at using sarcaism, ridicule and the like when addressing his ‘enemies’. I wrote to him about this, asking why do you describe people who disagree with you like that? Why not call us your ‘opponents’ or ‘critics’, why use the term ‘enemies’? Is this another example of a ‘figure of speech’? Ah, the hell you say!

  309. Xon said,

    April 10, 2007 at 7:33 am

    So, Mr. Johnson, b/c Wilson titled a series of posts responding to the WSC conference a couple of summers ago “Yelling at my windshield,” and b/c he sometimes uses the word “enemies” to describe theological opponents, you interpret him as having “gone into a rage”?

  310. April 10, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Xon
    Your right, ‘rage’ doesn’t really do him justice- foaming at the mouth mad perhaps captures it better

  311. Xon said,

    April 10, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Uh huh.

  312. Susanna said,

    April 12, 2007 at 12:17 am

    Ego, repentance – these are matters of the heart and not the mind. Only the Holy Spirit can change a person’s heart. Academic logical arguments have their limits. See my latest post on http://www.headtoheart-susanna.blogspot.com

  313. May 22, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Roman Catholic Perspective on Federal Vision:

    http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2007/05/catholic-prespective-on-federal-vision.html

  314. anneivy said,

    May 22, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Something tells me the FV’ers aren’t going to be enthusiastic about reading:

    “It is not a surprise then that Federal Visionists believe that justification is best understood as “union with Christ” and not as the imputation of righteousness in a strict merit/demerit transaction. Very biblical and very Catholic.”

    “Federal Visionists believe that the sacrament of Baptism actually accomplishes union with Christ – not in a nominal way, but in an ontological way. Again, very biblical and very Catholic.”

    “Federal Visionists understand “election” primarily in terms of sacramental participation, much as the Catholic Church does.”

    “As a Catholic I believe the Federal Vision group is right in its theological tendencies and wrong about its denomination.”

    As one who vacated Rome years ago, this provides bountiful support for my conviction that to turn in the FV’s direction is essentially to turn back to Rome.

    No one ever listens to ME, though.

    Maybe they’ll listen to you? ;^)

  315. May 9, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    [...] some very good thoughts on the debate here (makes sure that you read the comments). Lane Keister suggests that ego is the main thing standing in the way of FV people repenting of their errors. The huge number of comments that follow his post make interesting reading. Meanwhile, the [...]


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