Vos on the Covenant of Grace

This is why the Federal Vision authors cannot stand Vos:

Even today the call of the law sounds in our ears: such a life I would give you, if only you could fulfil me! God could have wholly eradicated that relation and have taken away the last traces of it from our minds, after the covenant of works was broken. However, He kept its memory alive in us. He has repeated that promise hypothetically and consequently has held up before us constantly the ideal of eternal life to be obtained by keeping the law, a lost ideal though it be…At Sinai it was not the “bare” law that was given, but a reflection of the covenant of works revived, as it were, in the interests of the covenant of grace continued at Sinai…The covenant is neither a hypothetical relationship, nor a conditional position; rather it is the fresh, living fellowship in which the power of grace is operative. Only by the exercise of faith does it become a reality. It is always believers who act as true covenant partners with God. They who are partners also have the promises in their entirety sealed to them as believers. The covenant is a totality from which no benefit can be excluded. (Redemptive History and Biblical Interpetation, pp. 254-256).

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84 Comments

  1. A Monkey Boy said,

    September 1, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Not true… Not Vos, but Mark T.

    And to quote Mart T. “Thank you”

  2. Robert K. said,

    September 1, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    The quote is from Vos’ great article The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology, which is available on the ‘net. (The link is a .pdf…)

  3. Kyle said,

    September 1, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Thanks, Robert, for providing that link. Should be good reading for the Lord’s Day. :)

  4. Tony S said,

    September 1, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    I did several Google searches using the names of various FV men and Geerhardus Vos. I was unable to find anything critical of him other than Norm Shepherd disagreeing with Vos’s notion of a “works principle” in the Covenant of Works. Can anyone substantiate the claim that the Federal Vision authors can’t stand Vos?

    I agree with Vos’s view of the Covenant of Works because he denies strict merit. Rich Lusk in his response to the OPC report doesn’t dissent from this position either:

    As a creature man is subject to God, and, had it not pleased God to reward the keeping of the law with eternal life, the requirement would still be effective. “Do this!” is still valid, even if it is not followed by: “You shall live.”

    And the reason the Anti-FV can’t stand Vos:

    One is first united to Christ, the Mediator of the covenant, by a mystical union, which finds its conscious recognition in faith. By this union with Christ all that is in Christ is simultaneously given. Faith embraces all this too; it not only grasps the instantaneous justification, but lays hold of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King, as his rich and full Messiah.

    And:

    The children of believers must be baptized, according to Polanus, “because they have been purchased by the blood of Christ, have been washed from their sins, and possess therefore by the work of the Holy Spirit the thing signified. . . . Because the Holy Spirit is promised to them, they possess the Holy Spirit” (Syntagma, VI, 55).

  5. Robert K. said,

    September 2, 2007 at 12:05 am

    Tony, the reference to FVists having to avoid Vos is because FVists have attempted to give themselves the mantle of “Reformed biblical theologians”, and Vos’ very existence kind of vitiates comically against this claim. Not to mention Vos is as orthordox Reformed as Louis Berkhof in his classical covenant – Federal – theology.

    Now that this point has been pressed though (here on Lane’s blog I suppose is where it’s been pressed) we will now start to see the FVists attempt to appropriate Vos into their false doctrine. A monumental task even for the most shameless sophists. Good luck.

  6. Robert K. said,

    September 2, 2007 at 1:42 am

    >”I agree with Vos’s view of the Covenant of Works because he denies strict merit.”

    How has Reformed Theology handled this: Let Vos speak from that same article:

    >>>The Reformed representation is different in each of these respects. To begin with we have here the strongest recognition of the antecedent work of God. Man cannot create the good for himself, but he has to develop the divinely given good that lies within him. If his natural goodness is already the creative work of God, the same can be said for the covenantal relationship in which God places him. This too is the product of a free divine deed, a gift flowing out of the condescending mercy of the Lord. Out of the nothingness from which the Almighty called him into being the creature brought along no rights, least of all the right to an unlosable, eternal life. When a way is opened by which he can attain this, then this way is a creation of God, something that, humanly speaking, could have been omitted. This point must be seen clearly. According to the Reformed view the covenant of works is something more than the natural bond which exists between God and man. The Westminster Confession puts this in such a pointedly beautiful way (VII:1): “The distance between God and the creatures is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which He hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.”

    If we are not mistaken, the instinctive aversion which some have to the covenant of works springs from a lack of appreciation for this wonderful truth. To be sure, if the relationship in which Adam came to stand with God is entirely natural and if there was nothing positive in it, then the covenant
    theory as an expression of that purely natural relationship must indeed appear rather artificial.<<>>The truth of the matter is that in the covenant of works the natural relationship [merit, say the Voetius Chair] was made to serve a positive purpose. It is not set aside, but incorporated into something higher. From this it follows that, where the higher becomes powerless and falls away, the natural relationship nevertheless remains. As a creature man is subject to God, and, had it not pleased God to reward the keeping of the law with eternal life, the requirement would still be effective. “Do this!” is still valid, even if it is not followed by: “You shall live.” Thus, it is that in the covenant of grace, too, the participants are exempt from the demand of the law as the condition for eternal blessedness, but not from its demand as being normative for their moral life<<>>10 This is clearly expressed by Cloppenburg (De Foedere Dei, I, 8): “Though man was fit to stand in a covenant with God, God could have ruled him without any covenantal communion, only by authority of the Law.
    Therefore we should not think that man’s obligation to obey the law is derived from the administrative provision of His will by which he made the covenant. Rather it arose at the moment the rational creature received his existence, was impressed in his nature with the image of God, and thus it preceded the making of the covenant. God makes a covenant with man, whom He has already bound and obligated to Himself by creating him in His image, as the Lord and Father of spirits.”<<<

  7. Tony S said,

    September 2, 2007 at 1:45 am

    I don’t understand this idea of a hypothetical covenant of works being offered by God after the fall. Can someone explain it, because as far as I can tell it’s wrong. The following reasoning appears sound to me:

    A) After the fall the only way for man to be right before God is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works.

    B) It is intrinsically sinful for fallen men to attempt to approach God by works.

    C) If God offers a hypothetical covenant of works to fallen men then he is enticing men to attempt something intrinsically sinful.

    D) God does not entice men to sin.

    E) Therefore God does not offer a hypothetical covenant of works to fallen men.

  8. Robert K. said,

    September 2, 2007 at 1:47 am

    Ignore totally the above comment by me. The formatting is messed up and whole paragraphs have been deleted probably because of my use of ‘<<<’ and all that… It’s a confused mess as it is, ignore it.

  9. Robert K. said,

    September 2, 2007 at 1:50 am

    ANOTHER TRY:

    >”I agree with Vos’s view of the Covenant of Works because he denies strict merit.”

    How has Reformed Theology handled this: Let Vos speak from that same article:

    ____________
    The Reformed representation is different in each of these respects. To begin with we have here the strongest recognition of the antecedent work of God. Man cannot create the good for himself, but he has to develop the divinely given good that lies within him. If his natural goodness is already the creative work of God, the same can be said for the covenantal relationship in which God places him. This too is the product of a free divine deed, a gift flowing out of the condescending mercy of the Lord. Out of the nothingness from which the Almighty called him into being the creature brought along no rights, least of all the right to an unlosable, eternal life. When a way is opened by which he can attain this, then this way is a creation of God, something that, humanly speaking, could have been omitted. This point must be seen clearly. According to the Reformed view the covenant of works is something more than the natural bond which exists between God and man. The Westminster Confession puts this in such a pointedly beautiful way (VII:1): “The distance between God and the creatures is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which He hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.”

    If we are not mistaken, the instinctive aversion which some have to the covenant of works springs from a lack of appreciation for this wonderful truth. To be sure, if the relationship in which Adam came to stand with God is entirely natural and if there was nothing positive in it, then the covenant
    theory as an expression of that purely natural relationship must indeed appear rather artificial.
    ____________

    In that last sentence above the words ‘natural’ and ‘positive’ need some professorial elucidation. (And the current holder of the Voetius Chair of the University of Utrecht I’ll oblige to best of my abilities): By natural it is meant: the condition of human nature unaided by grace. By positive it is meant: basically, involving God’s Word or revelation and what stands behind all of this, which would be the Covenant of Redemption, or God’s overall plan of salvation.

    Vos then continues:

    ____________
    The truth of the matter is that in the covenant of works the natural relationship [merit, say the Voetius Chair] was made to serve a positive purpose. It is not set aside, but incorporated into something higher. From this it follows that, where the higher becomes powerless and falls away, the natural relationship nevertheless remains. As a creature man is subject to God, and, had it not pleased God to reward the keeping of the law with eternal life, the requirement would still be effective. “Do this!” is still valid, even if it is not followed by: “You shall live.” Thus, it is that in the covenant of grace, too, the participants are exempt from the demand of the law as the condition for eternal blessedness, but not from its demand as being normative for their moral life.
    ____________

    Footnote to that sentence (which FVists will think support them, but where Vos has actually changed the subject rather elliptically, though the maze of this comment has probably confused everybody):

    ____________
    10 This is clearly expressed by Cloppenburg (De Foedere Dei, I, 8): “Though man was fit to stand in a covenant with God, God could have ruled him without any covenantal communion, only by authority of the Law.
    Therefore we should not think that man’s obligation to obey the law is derived from the administrative provision of His will by which he made the covenant. Rather it arose at the moment the rational creature received his existence, was impressed in his nature with the image of God, and thus it preceded the making of the covenant. God makes a covenant with man, whom He has already bound and obligated to Himself by creating him in His image, as the Lord and Father of spirits.”
    ____________

  10. Robert K. said,

    September 2, 2007 at 2:30 am

    >”I don’t understand this idea of a hypothetical covenant of works being offered by God after the fall. Can someone explain it, because as far as I can tell it’s wrong.”

    It’s for Jesus to fulfill, not man. For man it was a school to direct them towards Christ. Otherwise it remains a curse because fallen man can’t fulfill the law. Israel is a type for Jesus Christ, the Saviour. The Saviour was to come, in the fulness of time, from Israel. Jesus (the second Adam) was to fulfill what Adam in the Garden (the first Adam) failed to fulfill. Moses’ laws were the law of that initial Covenant of Works.

    >”A) After the fall the only way for man to be right before God is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works.”

    Yes, still by works. But the only works that are possible: the active and passive obedience of Jesus Christ imputed to believers via faith alone, by grace alone.

    >”B) It is intrinsically sinful for fallen men to attempt to approach God by works.”

    It is rather foolish for fallen man to attempt to secure his salvation by his own works, seeing we are corrupt from the womb. Jesus was born innocent (the only human being born innocent after the fall) and stayed innocent by his active obedience during the span of his life.

    >”C) If God offers a hypothetical covenant of works to fallen men then he is enticing men to attempt something intrinsically sinful.”

    Your are pushing the concept of ‘sinful’ unnecessarily. This is part of the false piety that is needed to believe in and shore up Federal Vision doctrine. Just say it is foolish and a death wish to attempt to secure your salvation by your own works in a post-fall condition. Remember: the Covenant of Grace was in effect all during this time Israel had the Mosaic laws hanging over them. Those who had faith in the coming Messiah were saved. The sword of the Covenant of Works hangs over everybody’s head until we have faith in Jesus Christ. But the law had to be fulfilled by Jesus and then the penalty for breaking the Covenant of Works had to be exacted, and that is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

    In all the above it needs to be said: Israel was ‘set up’ just as Adam seemed to have been ‘set up’ by God. Not really, but in God’s plan Israel, like Adam, is a unique player. There is, also, for instance not a little ‘Divine Irony’ in the totality of the details of the Mosaic laws. God in effect saying: OK, now just try to follow these laws to a ‘t’. Of course they couldn’t. Of course they’d lose the land (just as Adam lost the Garden). But the Covenant of Grace was in effect for them just as it is for us. They were playing a necessary role in bringing the Messiah, in the fullness of the times, to incarnation to perform His work of salvation.

  11. September 2, 2007 at 9:14 am

    Wonderful article. Thanks for sharing the link Mr. K!

  12. Robert K. said,

    September 2, 2007 at 10:56 am

    You’re welcome, Kyle and Beth…

    You all have probably seen this one too, but if not I’ve always found this article by J. I. Packer very helpful in getting a grasp on covenant theology. It’s more an intro type article of course, but very helpful in the usual Packer-ish way…

  13. Robert K. said,

    September 2, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Here’s an article that performs a needed function, perhaps well, of giving a basic overview of what Vos’ work basically is about…

  14. Tony S said,

    September 2, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    >”B) It is intrinsically sinful for fallen men to attempt to approach God by works.”

    I believe Galatians 2:16 establishes this point:

    Know that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we, I say, have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law, because that by the works of the Law, no flesh shall be justified.

    also 5:4

    Ye are abolished from Christ: whosoever are justified by the Law, ye are fallen from grace.

    There is, also, for instance not a little ‘Divine Irony’ in the totality of the details of the Mosaic laws. God in effect saying: OK, now just try to follow these laws to a ‘t’. Of course they couldn’t. Of course they’d lose the land (just as Adam lost the Garden).

    This is incorrect. Israel was not removed from the land for not keeping every last detail of the Mosaic Law, but for gross immorality. It was a lack of faith which was made manifest in idolatry and not a lack of perfect obedience that led to the nation being ejected by the land.

  15. krc said,

    September 2, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    any grace Israel received is not because of the Mosaic Covenant, but because of the Abrahamic and more broadly the covenant of grace.

  16. Robert K. said,

    September 2, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    Foolishness unto death…sin…my point is not so much in the differences between those two ways of saying it, my point is your way of saying it betrays the same kind of false piety one sees in FVists denial of the Covenant of Works. But this thread is the kind that meanders and loses its original context quickly. It probably already has.

    On your second point, it’s funny how FVists (or supporters) like to mistake faith for works, coming and going. Whichever serves.

    Faith has reference to the coming Saviour, or the already come Saviour. Attempts to smuggle faith into the realm of law/works makes of faith ‘faithfulness’ and corrupts God’s truth as He’s revealed it to us in His Word.

  17. September 2, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    And just to make sure that faith doesn’t smuggle anything in here, we have to make sure that faith is stone cold dead. Anything less betrays Reformation principles. We must make sure Ezekiel’s valley of men becomes a valley of bones. Because bones sure as hell can’t go to Rome.

  18. Kyle said,

    September 2, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Pr. Wilson, re: 16,

    The point is that works are not an element of faith. They DO accompany it. They DO prove faith to be alive. But faith is not alive BECAUSE of works. It is alive because it rests on Christ. It would behoove you to make that distinction clear yourself.

  19. Robert K. said,

    September 2, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    What a canard. Your faith is dead because you refuse to humble yourself to the Word of God and the Spirit. You want to dictate what regenerates. Man in control. You can’t receive the Word of God without it being filtered through Los Alamos-lead-thick layers of your vanity and worldly pride and rebelliousness self-will.

    And let the onlookers take notice: Wilson saw a statement Federal Vision can’t defend itself against: “Faith has reference to the coming Saviour, or the already come Saviour. Attempts to smuggle faith into the realm of law/works makes of faith ‘faithfulness’ and corrupts God’s truth as He’s revealed it to us in His Word.”

    It’s similar to the statement that stopped one of his cyber ministers in his tracks who was pushing baptismal regeneration. Here is that one: “Rome burned and banned the Word of God and tortured and burned anyone who attempted to bring the Word of God to people; but that anti-Christ Beast called Roman Catholicism called and welcomed everyone to ritual water baptism all day long. Anti-Christ knows what makes the call that is potentially effectual.”

  20. Dean said,

    September 3, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Pastor Wilson

    RE: stone cold faith?

    “Commenting on the Council of Trent Calvin states that justification and sanctification ‘ARE CONTANTLY CONJOINED and cohere; but from this it is erroneously inferred that they are one and the same. For example: – The light of the sun, though never unaccompanied with heat, is not to be considered heat. Where is the man so undiscerning as not to distinguish the one from the other? We acknowledge, then, that as soon as any one is justified, RENEWAL ALSO NECESSARILY FOLLOWS: and there is no dispute as to whether or not Christ sanctifies all whom he justifies.’”
    http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2007/09/analysis-6-john-calvins-stroke-of.html

    There is plenty of heat in justifying faith to warm a cold heart. But heat and sun are not the same thing just as sanctification and justification are not the same.

    Justification is an instantaneous act. Our sanctification does not add, increase, or maintain our status before God.

    However, if someone is covenantally justified then justification can not be instantaneous but our sanctification can add, increase and maintain our corporate status. Really???

  21. September 3, 2007 at 12:14 am

    “What a canard. Your faith is dead because . . .”

    So what’s the problem?

  22. September 3, 2007 at 12:19 am

    Dean,

    “Justification is an instantaneous act. Our sanctification does not add, increase, or maintain our status before God.” Amen. Absolutely amen.

    But according to the Reformed ordo, the renewal begins prior to justification in regeneration. Regeneration is a change within, not an imputation to. And it leads to repentance and faith, and faith is the instrument of justification. But I agree with you that this preceding change of character is not used by God in any way in order to justify my justification. My justification is based on the imputation of the active and passive obedience of Christ alone. According to RobertK, this makes me a papist, but I am still having trouble getting my mind around that.

  23. Robert K. said,

    September 3, 2007 at 1:12 am

    To know what the Bible says we take into consideration the whole counsel of God. To know what a false teacher is teaching we take into consideration everything he states, including what he states in one room of his house as opposed to other rooms of his house.

  24. Robert K. said,

    September 3, 2007 at 1:53 am

    Two tensions in this debate/etc. from my perspective:

    1. When I burn the FVists on their sacramentalism I singe R. Scott Clark a little too. (Using ‘R. Scott Clark’ as a plural noun…I suppose.) The sacramentalism may not be exactly the same (or equally damaging to the faith), but there is a similarity regarding there being a ‘problem’, or something lacking, in the mainstream understanding of faith and practice in Reformed Christianity.

    2. It’s easier for me to defend straight, orthodox Reformed Theology because I have a lively understanding of what makes up active, progressive sanctification. Something which mainstream Reformed Theology basically does not have. (So, i.e., I don’t feel a lack of anything that makes me feel there is something wrong in the doctrine part of Reformed Theology. The doctrine is sound. It is biblical doctrine. It’s the necessary and only foundation. What is built on the foundation is where things can get anemic in Reformed environments.) I’ve acquired this understanding by not being afraid of any influences. Once one has the truth, is able to see and know the truth – discernment given by the Holy Spirit – one can navigate unknown waters and avoid the rocks and other hazards.

    The unsurprising truth is, though, that you don’t have to stray from the Word of God to find what you need. You just sometimes have to see things from different perspectives before you’re *able* to see them – and to value them – in the Word of God. There is, for instance, a lot of practical teaching in the Bible that comes directly from one Jesus Christ that doesn’t make it into systematic theologies, Reformed or otherwise. As for other parts of the New Testament Gurnall wrote quite a lot on a short passage (Eph. 6:10-18), yet you’re not likely to find any systematized knowledge on that subject in a good Reformed systematic theology. But the Puritans were a *little different*, were they not? They knew regeneration. They know regeneration provokes a response from the Old Man within, from the world without, and from the devil all around. They knew this from experience *because they engaged the Word of God and forced the issue and stormed heaven.* They knew spiritual warfare was a subject one better have some knowledge of. But this is just an example, though a big one.

    Calvin was more a mystic than Reformed Christians either know or want to recognize. Unio mystica. ‘Theologian of the Holy Spirit.’

    When man-centeredness and worldliness are taken for the faith the faith becomes about family (or human marriage and family) or about money &c.

    When the faith is God-centered and about the fear of God and about the mystical union via the Spirit with Christ the faith becomes a battleground. Spiritual warfare is what the faith becomes about by default (which includes communion of the saints and evangelizing the faith). The devil doesn’t care about you until you’ve been regenerated by the Word and the Spirit and have been separated from the world as one who fears God and God only. This makes you dangerous, and this puts you on spiritual ground where the battle takes place.

    Sound doctrine (Reformed doctrine, five solas, doctrines of grace, covenant of redemption, Federal Theology) is not the problem regarding *dead faith*. Sound doctrine is the foundation. Regeneration by the Word and the Spirit prior to that. You want a lively faith? The battlefield it puts you on that heightens your senses and sharpens your focus and puts into perspective what is important and keeps you awake is what keeps your faith lively. Fear God alone. Mortify your fear and reverence of the world and man including yourself.

  25. Dean said,

    September 3, 2007 at 7:26 am

    Pastor Wilson

    RE: Renewal begins in Regeneration

    “They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new
    heart, and a new spirit created in them, are FURTHER sanctified,
    really and personally.”

    Definition of “further” according to Webster: 1.) farther: 2.) in
    addition : Moreover 3.) : to a greater degree or extent

    If I insert the third definition WCF 13.1 could mean, “They, who are
    once effectually called, and regenerated, are ‘to a greater degree or
    extent’ sanctified, really and personally.” This would seem to
    suggest that sanctification began in either our effectual call and/or
    regeneration.

    If I insert the second definition it would read, “They, who are once
    effectually called, and regenerated, are ‘moreover’ sanctified, really
    and personally.” This rendering would not indicate when
    sanctification begins.

    Robert Shaw in his expose to the WCF seems to take the third
    definition. He writes, “Sanctification may be considered as initial
    and progressive. Initial sanctification is the same as regeneration,
    whereby we become “new creatures;”-”old things being done away, and
    all things becoming new.” …In initial sanctification, the Spirit of
    Christ enters the heart with all his train of graces, and implants
    them there.

    From Robert Peterson (Covenant Theological Seminary) he writes,
    “Sanctification is definitive or initial, progressive, and final. The
    text I just read, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, speaks of definitive or initial sanctification: “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” The Spirit and the truth seem to go together. I would even suggest the sanctifying work of the Spirit is perhaps hinted at here as the cause of belief in the truth.
    It is the sanctifying work of the Spirit in conjunction with belief and the truth; hence it is speaking of initial or definitive sanctification. One passage that does show that initial sanctification is the cause of faith is 1 Peter 1:1-2: “To God’s elect [...] who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.”

    I told you before I cannot follow the traditional notion of the order
    of salvation and try to put all these doctrines in a neat cause and
    effect relation. I did say I have three tiers. The first tier is God
    makes the first move. He gets the glory. Calling, regeneration, and
    initial sanctification are the cause of repentance and faith.
    Repentance and faith, two sides of one coin, are the means of
    justification and adoption. EOQ http://www.covenantseminary.edu/worldwide/en/ST220/ST220_T_35.pdf

    “God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect…nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.” Even though there is similar no statement like this under the section of sanctification I would venture a guess that the “really and
    personally” statement under sanctification is making a similar point
    as WCF 11.4.

    If someone wants to speak about “initial sanctification” as the cause
    of faith (I Peter 1:2) or to mean regeneration itself (Robert Shaw) I
    would maintain that that sanctification is not really and personally
    ours. That real and personal (progressive) sanctification is a result of justification.

    Now Calvin’s quote again, “We acknowledge, then, that as soon as any one is justified, RENEWAL ALSO NECESSARILY FOLLOWS: and there is no dispute as to whether or not Christ sanctifies all whom he justifies.”

    Repentance occurs prior to justification so in a sense don’t *I* repent? Calvin again, “Whomsoever God wills to snatch from death, he quickens by the Spirit of regeneration. Not that repentance, properly speaking, is the cause of salvation, but because it is already seen to be inseparable from faith and from God’s mercy, when , as Isaiah testifies, “a redeemer will come to Zion, and to those in Jacob who turn back from iniquity”. [Isa. 59.20] (Inst. III.2.21)

    Initial/definitive sanctification and repentance may occur prior to justification but they are not real and personal to us. Because they are not real and personal to us they can not be the cause or grounds of our justification.

  26. Mark T. said,

    September 3, 2007 at 7:40 am

    Wilson said,

    And just to make sure that faith doesn’t smuggle anything in here, we have to make sure that faith is stone cold dead. Anything less betrays Reformation principles. We must make sure Ezekiel’s valley of men becomes a valley of bones. Because bones sure as hell can’t go to Rome.

    Hmmm . . . I’ll take “stone cold dead” by Wilson’s standard any day if it loves its neighbors and obeys the law contra the information provided in this post about Wilson and his cultic church.

    Thank you.

  27. September 3, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Dean, we agree in substance, on the main thing at any rate. I affirm with you that God does not take any infused goodness in me into account as He justifies me. Exactly right. But I deny your point about “real and personal.” Of course my new heart is mine. God gave it to me, didn’t He?

    But even though this work in me is genuine, and real, it is still incomplete — like all sanctification in this life. If God were to judge me on the basis of my new heart, I would be damned because my new heart (although genuinely new) still falls short of the perfection that is required before the judgment seat of God. A holy God requires perfection, and the only perfection available for me, a sinner, is the perfection of Jesus Christ alone.

    According to RobertK, this is pure Romanism, but I confess that I still don’t quite grasp the point he is trying to make.

  28. September 3, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Mark T, so then “loving one’s neighbor” and “obeying the law” is now necessary to justification? Were you agreeing or disagreeing with the point that justifying faith must be a living faith?

    But let me answer the question for you. Judging from your choice of links, and what you believe to be a reliable source of info, I suspect that you have given ear to the Wilson-haters (unless, of course, your non-name indicates founding member status among them), and that means, of course, that if Wilson believes in a living faith, he is a papist as far as you are concerned, and if he believes in a dead faith, he is a nominalist hypocrite. To paraphrase and reapply Chesterton, it begins to look as though I am not wicked enough to encompass any vice, but rather any stick is good enough to beat me with.

    The guiding principle here is not sound doctrine, the Reformed confessions, biblical orthodoxy, or anything like that. The guiding principle is personal animus. And if you had a modicum of self-awareness, you would know how obvious it is to everyone else — FV fanboys and FV critics alike.

  29. Sean Gerety said,

    September 3, 2007 at 9:47 am

    Because they are not real and personal to us they can not be the cause or grounds of our justification.

    Good post Dean. The problem for Wilson is that our salvation is forever secured completely outside of anything that can or will occur in us or by us. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect; and Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification. The application of what Christ wrought happens the moment a person first believes, but justification itself is not found in the act of believing, it’s found in the work of Jesus Christ in accordance with God’s eternal decree completely outside of us..

    Contra the Confession, Wilson & Co. makes our salvation contingent upon our doing, our ongoing “covenantal faithfulness.” One is brought into a conditional relationship with Jesus Christ in baptism (all baptized persons are then brought into the same relationship with Christ via baptism) and as they persevere in fulfilling the obligations imposed on them by virtue of this sacrament they will be finally saved or justified on the last day. That’s the theory anyway and that is RINE in a nutshell.

    Anyone unable to see the striking similarity between the above scheme and that of the Roman state/church has his head shoved in a hole. IMO the major advantage men like Wilson have in the PCA and OPC and elsewhere, is that these denominations which are confessional and outwardly Reformed, are drowning in effete seminary trained “scholars” who get a tickle out of examining and discussing the subtleties and nuances of the FV labyrinth. You’ll notice these are the same men who make all sorts of concessions to FV men they call their “brothers,” but constantly claim they’re not really FV themselves.

    I cannot think of any other reason this cancer has been allowed to grow for so long. Yet, when the FV is explained to pew-ons like me they can see this isn’t rocket science and they grasp what’s at stake in a second. That’s why John Robbins and I wrote our reply to Wilson, “Not Reformed At All,” for laymen, not seminary profs and self-styled academics.

    The problem is (if my own church is any example), the leadership has not spent any time educating their congregations — or, worse, even themselves — to this great threat. They have simply done nothing in this regard. IMO they’d rather not confuse their congregates while busying themselves with voting on FV/NPP reports in order to create the facade that they’ve really done something to protect their flocks.

    It’s time these false brothers and false teachers are called to repent or marched right out of the PCA (it may already be too late for the OPC – sorry Dean).

  30. September 3, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Dean writes: Initial/definitive sanctification and repentance may occur prior to justification but they are not real and personal to us. Because they are not real and personal to us they can not be the cause or grounds of our justification.<<

    Mr. Wilson writes: But even though this work in me is genuine, and real, it is still incomplete — like all sanctification in this life. If God were to judge me on the basis of my new heart, I would be damned because my new heart (although genuinely new) still falls short of the perfection that is required before the judgment seat of God. A holy God requires perfection, and the only perfection available for me, a sinner, is the perfection of Jesus Christ alone.”

    What is at issue here? The work of sanctification and repentance in me is real but insufficient as a grounds for justification. Is there a problem with saying it is real and personal?

  31. September 3, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Sean, do me a favor. Find me a quote in anything I have written that even remotely resembles your summary in your third paragraph. Begin with a “, end with a “, and give the citation. This will be hard to do since I deny that position as you summarized it, and I do so from soup to nuts.

  32. Robert K. said,

    September 3, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Doug, it’s obvious you’re just a common liberal theologian. A guy who values the things of this world more than the terror of the situation the Word of God presents to believers. Biblical doctrine to you is something to concoct to sell things and indulge your worldly desire to be on center stage. Money is acquired by profit, wage, and rent, and you seem to be pretty good at one or more of those too.

    My take is in these last few weeks you and those you front for have jumped the shark (at least as any kind of serious threat to Reformed Theology). It may seem silly that anyone thought you and Federal Vision were ever a threat to begin with, but that is the power of the cult of personality, total shamelessness, and egregores.

  33. Mark T. said,

    September 3, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Wilson,

    I understand that you delight in twisting other people’s words into meaning something other than their intent, but just in case you actually missed my point, I’ll state it more clearly because, unlike Wilkins and Horne, I don’t need you to tell others what I mean.

    The information provided on that site reveals two things: First, given the documented facts (that you didn’t deny; you simply implied they were not reliable), you’re the last man on Earth to herald any kind of works-based faith, because, second, you treat your neighbors in Moscow with the same contempt that you demonstrate towards pretty much everyone else who publicly disagrees with you.

    Re “self-awareness,” I’m not inclined to act on the disturbed perception of a former leader in the Reformed church suffering a meltdown of epic proportions on the worldwide web.

    But if it’s any consolation, you are a very brave man and your disciples still worship you.

    Thank you.

  34. Robert K. said,

    September 3, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    DOUG WILSON WRITES:
    “But to the point. The FV guys have been maintaining that the FV is a conversation, a shared set of questions, not a movement, and so on. Some of the critics have insisted on the opposite — that we are a well-oiled, deeply-funded machine, set to infiltrate and take over the federated Reformed witness in North America. The FV is the Death Star.”

    Wrong, oh mendacious one. We have said you are a motley group of mischievous leaders and unschooled followers with a bizarre ability to yank chains and get reactions from people more serious than you, which can only be ascribed to you having a largish dose of the spirit of disobedience coursing through your souls and movement. Using the Popular Front, fith column tactics gives you leverage beyond your size and strength as well.

    DOUG WILSON WRITES:
    “Okay, then. One comment on a blog somewhere made me realize what may be coming next. Once it becomes obvious that the FV is not the movement that it was claimed to be, the spin doctors will immediately claim that it used to be a movement, but that it blew up. The opposition was victorious! Good thing we acted vigorously!”

    Identifying you as mere liberal, and rent-scam theologians doesn’t mean the egragore (see above) you become never existed. It’s good that we’re talking in tones of epilogue now though.

  35. Robert K. said,

    September 3, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Now that the tension is gone in all this I might visit Moscow, Idaho myself, looking for that 600 foot Fantabulous Baptismic Waterslide…

    I picture it as a kind of going back in time, a Raintree County kind of feel, and that man with the hot air baloon rides (“ten cents to see as far as St. Louis!”) is none other than that dreamer Doug Wilson…

  36. Nicholas T Batzig said,

    September 3, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Doug,

    I thought I would come to Sean’s defence and point out that in your article “a Pauline take on the NPP” (credenda/thema vol.15 issue 5) you say that faith involves three elements “knowledge, assent, and trust,” and then you go on to say that trust is equivalent to obedience or faithfulness. In your own words to start with you say:

    ” The idea that a man could somehow be saved by raw faith is of course contrary to James; but, more germaine to this discussion of historical theology, it is contrary to the historic Reformed position. We say sola fide. But what kind of faith is being talked about in the phrase sola fide? It is an assenting, knowledgeable, and trusting faith. Another way of putting this is that we are justified by a living faith, an obedient faith. Muller again, summarizing the position of the orthodox Reformed: Saving faith, therefore, cannot be merely intellectual; it must also be volitional.8 So then, how is the insistence that no wedge between faith and action be tolerated now to be thought of as one of the distinguishing marks of a New Perspective?

    If the point you are trying to make is that one element of faith is “obedience” then what you have done, in the words of Paul, is to make faith no longer faith. If you’ve changed your view here please let us know.

    Lane,

    Thanks for the great quote by Vos. You know, I think its interesting that the FV men all say they love Biblical Theology but its a very different Biblical Theology than Vos produced (which I would remind readers is historic covenant theology) and they all say they are Van Tillian but Van Til everywhere affirms the covenant of works (just look in Christian Apologetics or his article in “the Infallible Word” where he uses it as a starting point for his method of evangelism). How can you get around all this? Thanks again for calling our attention to the clear deviation of the FV proponents from a truly biblical Biblical Theology.

  37. Mark T. said,

    September 3, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Robert K,

    You’re not far from the truth; according to this link, from the aforementioned site, Wilson wants everyone to see his Federal Vision steeple pointing to his bloated ego when they enter Moscow. (Okay, I admit it says nothing about his ego being bloated.) It says,

    When you crest the hill from Lewiston, the first thing you see is the steeple.

    More importantly, notice that according to Wilson’s own testimony, no one in his hometown wants to do business with him, most likely because he’s such an honest man.

    But I suppose if there’s any good news for Wilson here, it’s that Scripture requires “bishops” to have “a good testimony among those who are outside” and not popes. (1 Tim. 3:7)

    Thank you.

  38. Nicholas T Batzig said,

    September 3, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Doug,

    Here’s another quote from the article you wrote that I mentioned above:

    “As mentioned earlier, the historic Protestant understanding of fides salvifica sees it as consisting of an inseparable unity of assensus, notitia, and fiducia . It is the essential nature of fiducia to trust gladly in everything that God has spoken in His Word—whether law or gospel, Old or New Testaments, poems or prose, odd-numbered pages or even. This means that fides salvifica is related to ongoing fidelity, trust or obedience in the same way that a body is related to breathing. Without a body, there is nothing to breathe with. Without breathing, there is something that needs to be buried.”

    Would you apply this definition to “justifying faith” when you use the phrase fides salvifica? If so, are you saying that justification sola fide is “related to ongoing fidelity”? If so, in what way? Do I have to be faithful in order to possess the righteousness of Christ?

  39. Tony S said,

    September 3, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Nicholas, Wilson in those quotes is affirming the historic orthodox Reformed view of faith. Take Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, neither uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love. Paul defines the nature of justifying faith as working by love. Furthermore the fact that the only faith which the Holy Spirit works in a person when he regenerates them is a living, active, obedient faith working by love does not in any way deny the doctrine of justification by imputation. The doctrine of perseverance of the saints assures us that faith which is given by the Holy Spirit will never be taken away. A person who does not exhibit faithfulness to the end never had true faith given to him.

    I think that you have compromised sound doctrine with the Arminian heresy. If faith is the product of the will of man then in order to avoid the charge of salvation by works, justifying faith can not be defined as working. But Scripture does define faith as working and denies salvation by works. Therefore Arminianism is wrong as are the faulty definitions of faith born of compromise with it.

  40. September 3, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Nicholas, Tony understood what I was saying there. Nothing more or less than the standard Reformed definition of saving faith as consisting of assensus, notitia, and fiducia. The fiducia simply means that Christ is personally trusted, and the result is justification. I am not saying that you have to “be good” at a certain fiduciary level in the course of your sanctification in order to be justified. In short, Sean has helped to write a book about me, but he does not know what I believe.

  41. September 3, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    The Reformed faith is under attack from papists and liberals, and comes now the new Machen, RobertK, to fight them off. He has his sword out. Who is the papist? None but the one who affirms that we are justified by the imputation of the active and passive obedience of Christ! Man, these papists are sneaky! Must be a Jesuit.

    And who is the liberal who must be beaten off the ramparts of RobertKville? None but the one who affirms the full deity of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the incarnation of the eternal Word, every word of the Apostles Creed, the plenary and verbal inspiration of every jot and tittle of the Scriptures, the bodily resurrection of Christ from the grave, His virgin birth, every miracle in every gospel, and every word that the apostle Paul ever wrote about headship and submission in marriage. Gee, common liberalism is, is . . . more conservative than it used to be.

  42. kjsulli said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Tony, re: 39,

    What Pr. Wilson has done in those quotes is make works a constitutive element of faith. It is one thing to say that a living faith is always accompanied by works; quite another to say works are a part of living faith! Fiducia (trust) is an element of faith; it is NOT, however, “obedience.” Pr. Wilson is either lying about his beliefs when he says in #40, “The fiducia simply means that Christ is personally trusted, and the result is justification”; or he has changed his mind from what he says in those quotes (particularly the one cited in #38). IMO, he could still stand to pay some attention to the advice I gave him in #19.

    And where you get off charging Nicholas with some kind of compromise with Arminianism in what he has said here, I haven’t the faintest idea.

  43. greenbaggins said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    I think the error that Tony made was assuming that when Nicholaus said “will” that therefore he was denying the prior sovereign grace of God in conversion. Nicholaus, of course, was doing nothing of the sort. Our wills have to be changed by God, as I am absolutely certain Nicholaus would also say.

  44. Sean Gerety said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Sean, do me a favor. Find me a quote in anything I have written that even remotely resembles your summary in your third paragraph.

    See your copy of “Not Reformed At All.” The summary I provided is an accurate summation of your stated position in RINE — even apart from that one citation you’ve miraculously recognized, in spite of myself and others brining it to your attention REPEATEDLY, as being a “problem” and a “humiliating typo.”

    Regardless, and in all seriousness, this is the type of dishonestly I’m coming to expect from you Doug and I suspect others are as well. It’s like that vacuous blather of you and other FV men whining that you “don’t see yourselves” in the PCA FV report as if the doctrines examined and refuted were pulled from the sky or some other dark place.

    After awhile people start to catch on that you have many different faces. Some of us realized that a long time ago.

  45. Sean Gerety said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    BTW Doug, what your you doing to correct that serious and soul damning citation from your book that you now say is a “humiliating typo”?

  46. kjsulli said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Lane, re: 43,

    I’m looked over Nicholas’ comments several times now and for the life of me I can’t find where he said “will.” Am I missing it?

  47. Sean Gerety said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    f the point you are trying to make is that one element of faith is “obedience” then what you have done, in the words of Paul, is to make faith no longer faith. If you’ve changed your view here please let us know.

    Nicholas, good points all. Thank you. There is so much more in Wilson’s attack on the Christian faith that all the evidence in the world won’t make a difference to the man. He can and will admit to nothing nor will he take any responsibility for what he writes or says. . You can quote the man over and over and when he gets trapped he’ll claim it was just another “humiliating typo” or his critics just don’t understand him and play the victim. It’s pathetic, but you’ve nailed just one important aspect of Wilson’s faith/works scheme of salvation where faith means doing.

  48. Tony S said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Lane, my allegation of compromise on Nicholas’s part is not the source of faith, but rather the nature of faith. Paul teaches in Galatians that it is the nature of faith to work by love. He also clearly teaches that justification is by faith apart from the works of the Law. Arminianism has to reduce the nature of faith to the barest minimum in order to avoid allegations of teaching salvation by works.

  49. greenbaggins said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Tony, it seems fairly plain to me that you do not know what Arminianism is. The Arminian position was all for including lots of things in faith, so as to make our justification dependent on love, faithfulness, etc. It is the Reformed position that says ad nauseum that faith only justifies as it lays hold of Christ. It is its receptive character that makes it an instrument by which we lay hold of Christ and His righteousness. Nothing else is involved in justification. It is not because it obeys that it is an instrument, although true faith does obey. It is not as faith works itself out in love that faith justifies, although true faith always works itself out in love. This balance is absolutely crucial. Without it, there is no Gospel.

  50. Sean Gerety said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Do I have to be faithful in order to possess the righteousness of Christ?

    That’s IT exactly. Wilson quotes Randy Booth favorably: “Only faithful covenant membership (i.e., those full of faith in the Savior), receive the covenant blessings, including the blessings of imputed righteousness” (175, emphasis added). That sentence deserves to be read again. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is the result of being a faithful covenant member. Wilson immediately adds, “This is fundamental to the central point of this book. Election is one thing and covenant membership is another.” For Wilson it is the conditions of salvation that God sets at baptism that become the dividing line between salvation and damnation. Wilson rejects the historic Reformed and Biblical view of the Covenant of Grace in which Christ is the Mediator of the covenant and the Savior of his people. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is not contingent upon our “faithful covenant membership,” but solely upon Christ’s obedience to the will of the Father.

    Along with the rest of the Gospel, Wilson has forgotten Paul’s statement in Romans 4:4-5: “Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness….” Notice it is not by our faithfulness, our working, that we are reckoned as righteous. God justifies the ungodly, “who does not work.” Moreover, Romans 10:3-4 says, apropos Wilson’s theology, “For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

  51. Sean Gerety said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Wilson writes:
    Sean has helped to write a book about me, but he does not know what I believe.

    You ever notice that everyone who disagrees with Wilson doesn’t understand him, but those who agree with his anti-Christian scheme of salvation like Lusk, Wilkins, Meyers, Leithart, Shepherd and other FV/NPP men understand him perfectly.

    Funny how that works.

  52. Sean Gerety said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Pr. Wilson is either lying about his beliefs when he says in #40, “The fiducia simply means that Christ is personally trusted, and the result is justification”; or he has changed his mind from what he says in those quotes (particularly the one cited in #38).

    Yes, he’s lying. Either that, or it’s just another “humiliating typo” or the rest of us are just too stupid to understand his theological genius.

  53. Sean Gerety said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Nothing else is involved in justification. It is not because it obeys that it is an instrument, although true faith does obey. It is not as faith works itself out in love that faith justifies, although true faith always works itself out in love. This balance is absolutely crucial. Without it, there is no Gospel.

    Amen! :)

  54. Dave Rockwell said,

    September 3, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    As one pastor describes a neoorthodox – “They use our words and their dictionary.” I think the same applies to the Federal Vision. Their teaching is all smoke and mirrors. What isn’t, is; and what is, isn’t. You can blog with Doug Wilson on justification until you are blue in the face, but you will never reach any agreement with such theological confusion and foolishness.

    The sad fact is the federal vision teaching has made a comfortable home in the PCA. That means that the PCA has become a place of theological confusion as well.

  55. Nicholas T Batzig said,

    September 3, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Doug,

    Its easy to say that you are espusing, “The standard Reformed definition of faith,” just as James said its easy to say, “I have faith.” But the truth of the matter is that you seem to be redefining faith in the threefold distinction. Sure we all, except maybe Gordon Clark, agree that there are three aspects to saving faith (i.e. knowledge, assent, and trust) but when you say that trust is faithfulness (and you do say that in your vol. 15 issue 5 credenda) you have a serious deficiency.

    BTW Tony, I happen to be the last person who has ever espoused Arminian doctrine, which I sadly remind you is a strawman attack on everyone who does not agree with some kind of FV. Would you say that Edwards, Watson, Owen, or any other famous Calvinsit was Arminian? If not I would suggest you don’t throw that attack at anyone else that believes the same thing these men did.

  56. greenbaggins said,

    September 3, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Dave, do you think that last GA indicates confusion as a general indicator of where the PCA is?

  57. Nicholas T Batzig said,

    September 3, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Tony,

    I would point you to #49 as an accurate assessment of an Arminian view of faith.

  58. Nicholas T Batzig said,

    September 3, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Tony,

    I happen to believe that regeneration is the most necessary prerequisite to having faith and that men are not regenerate by water baptism in the least. I believe that God has to change the heart of the sinner and that this is rare. So don’t misunderstand what I was saying please. I do not think faith is a mere assent to the truth but I also know that justification is not by faith working through love. If you believe so then I would recommend you to any systematic theology that has been written by any Reformed theologian.

  59. Tony S said,

    September 3, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Nicholas, first I was not accusing you of denying the necessity of being regenerated by the Holy Spirit, but rather minimizing the nature of the faith thus produced, Secondly I misused the term Arminian. I had in mind people I know who believe that election is God forseeing a person’s choice to believe in Jesus. They reduce faith to a minimal act of the will in order to avoid having salvation be by works.

    I do not believe and did not say that works or love are the means by which we are justified, simply that regeneration always produces a living faith.

    The systematic theology I have right here is John Frame’s ‘Salvation Belongs To The Lord.’ He says that “The second element of trust is subjection to Christ as Lord, a willingness to obey. As James 2:14-26 says, faith must be a living faith, obedient faith, faith that works, or else it is dead.”

  60. September 3, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Tony,

    Thanks for the clarification on the Arminiam remark. I appreciate your willingness to restate what you meant.

    As far as obedient faith is concerned, the language is muddy. I agree with what James says but who doesn’t. Just ask the next Jehovah’s Witness who comes to your door what he thinks James means in james 2. Then ask a Mormon. Finally ask a Roman Catholic. I think the point I want to make is that you will probably find all of them asserting the same thing that you are (not about the person of Christ in the case of the JW’s or Mormons) in the relation of James to justification. Now before you go jumping on the “James uses the word justify” bandwagon please read Calvin on James 2. I think that his distinction between faith and works is helpful there. Calvin says, “Faith is the root, works are the fruit.” If this is what you and DW and the FVers are saying then we can all go to bed happy with one another’s teaching. If its not then I think you have some serious reconsidering to do with regard to the HISTORIC Reformed view (this is why I mentioned Calvin on James 2–coincidently a section in Calvin that no FV man has aoppealed to in my limited knowledge–please correct me if I’m wrong).

    Anyhow, thank you again for coming back with a gracious correction of what you meant before. That shows a great deal of humility.

  61. Dave Rockwell said,

    September 3, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    Lane,
    The GA finds nine errors in the Federal Vision while at the same time calling those who practice these errors their brothers. That sends a very confusing message.

    Has anybody really followed through on the recommendations? Have the elders who practice the FV errors made themselves known to their presbyteries? Have the presbyteries disciplined any FV elders since the report came out? So far, all we have as a result of this report is more cover up and lying. That only adds to the confusion.

    How did the FV teaching make its home in the PCA in the first place? Where was the spiritual discernment when these elders were examined by their presbyteries? How did they get approved for ordination? They lied. They used WCF terminology with their own dictionary. Some of them had even signed onto the Auburn Avenue Statement – they were known FV men – and they still passed! The fact that these men passed and were approved by their presbyteries shows even more theological confusion.

    Many presbyteries have passed overtures adopting the PCA report by stating they will not allow any new candidates or transfers of men who hold to these positions. That’s fine, but what do you do with those FV men who are already in the system and refuse to make known their errors? Will presbyteries police their own – do they have the fortitude to discipline these men? I don’t think so, because that would only reveal their own failure to guard the truth. Again, a mixed message and more confusion.

    What about Covenant Seminary? What message are they sending? I have no clue what they stand for when it comes to the Federal Vision. What are they doing to rid the denomination of the Federal Vision? Nothing except sending Dr. Lucas to the GA as their token representative. Take a look at the Presbyterians Together list of signatures. Count the number of CS students who signed that idiotic document. What are they learning in that seminary? There are FV churches right under their noses in the St. Louis area. That seminary can’t even impart truth to its own denomination in its own city. Another message of confusion.

    Until the PCA cleans its own house, it will remain a denomination of theological confusion. The committee report only serves to reveal the theological confusion and the errors in this denomination. So far, it has done nothing to correct them. Ya gotta practice what you preach, guys.

  62. September 3, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Sean, the reason I believe you don’t understand what I am saying is that you refuse to pay attention. Here it is, again, in a nutshell. Saving faith consists of notitia, assensus, and fiducia. This is classic Reformed theology. God does not look at the “performance” of that fiducia when He justifies a sinner (on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus only). But if that faith were not trusting, it wouldn’t be receiving anything. What it receives, when it trusts, is the active and passive obedience of Christ only, alone, nothing else. Got that? NOTHING ELSE.

    Now, once that moment of justification is over, this saving faith does not blip out of existence. It continues to be the same kind of faith it was before, and it continues to trust God throughout the course of life. That is, it continues to exhibit the characteristics of fiducia. Now God does not look at the fiducia “record,” or the report card of “obedience” and say, “Well, you got an 87%. Guess we’ll let you in.” NO. But nevertheless that faith continues to be the same living faith as it was when it was given, appropriating the blessings of sanctification, just as it received the blessing of justification. That appropriation continues to reveal what is going on. What is going on is the gift of God lest any should boast.

    Plug this into the quote in #38. “This means that fides salvifica is related to ongoing fidelity, trust or obedience in the same way that a body is related to breathing.” THIS IS NOT THE SAME THING AS SAYING THAT GOD REWARDS A MAN WITH JUSTIFICATION FOR DOING SUCH A FINE JOB OF BREATHING. Sorry for shouting there, but what can you do? I am saying nothing more than that living faith continues to live after the moment of justification, revealing to the world what kind of faith it is. It is the kind of faith that will live forever — in fact, just like the justified sinner who exercises that kind of faith.

    Sean then quotes my citation of Randy Booth, and summarizes it this way. “That sentence deserves to be read again. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is the result of being a faithful covenant member.” But maybe it should be put this way instead. “The blessing of imputed righteousness is only for those covenant members who have genuine faith.” Having such genuine faith is what we are commanded to have, and so when we do, we are being faithful. But you can mark it down as settled that Wilson believes, and has always believed throughout the course of this controversy, that true faith appropriates nothing other than the perfect obedience of Jesus on our behalf.

    The obedience of Jesus, plus nothing. Shall I shout again? Or is it unnecessary?

  63. Robert K. said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:27 am

    Faith and repentance become this thing called ‘conversion.’ We don’t convert as an ongoing, effortful, process. You keep demanding that faith bleed into faithfulness. Once converted faith then may be tested or tempted and it may be weaker or stronger, but even the weakest faith is saving faith. Weak faith is strong because of what Jesus does on His end, not what we do on our end.

  64. Robert K. said,

    September 4, 2007 at 2:02 am

    Practically speaking: the law that those who preach that you must be faithful to is the system of the Beast. Fallen man distorts and perverts God’s perfect law. Fallen man can’t follow God’s perfect law. The law is a curse for fallen man. The doctrine Roman Catholics and Federal Vision teach is the system of the Beast. It is the common, age-old false doctrine the devil wants you to follow so as to stay in bondage to the darkness and death of his kingdom of death.

    Jesus performed the demands of the law. IT IS DONE. My liberty as a Christian is liberty from the bondage of the law. From the death and darkness of the devil’s kingdom. This liberty angers the Federal Vision leaders as much as it angers the Beast ministers of Rome. They have the spirit of the devil feeding their every thought, word, and deed. They are the enemy of God’s elect. God’s elect regenerated and converted by the Word and the Spirit, and God’s elect not yet regenerated and converted by the Word and the Spirit.

    One thing that is going under the radar is these false teachers not only conflate works and faith, and justification and sanctification, but they conflate repentance and faith. Repentance has more to do with sanctification, faith with justification.

    Overall, they don’t want you coming into contact with that which makes the call that is potentially effectual. The Word of God. Roman Catholics burn the Word of God; Federal Visionists replace it with man-centered ritual. If you are in their domains you are in the midst of the system of the Beast.

  65. Vern Crisler said,

    September 4, 2007 at 2:05 am

    #62

    Hmm, the Randy Booth quote is quite damning for FV theology. It is definitely a good idea to reject it and replace it with a better formulation. However, it sounds as though the new formulation is saying that only church members with genuine faith are justified. I can understand the genuine faith part, but why qualify it with church or covenant membership? Does God justify the covenant member, or those who are lost, ungodly, and far from home?

    Vern

  66. Dean said,

    September 4, 2007 at 7:51 am

    Pastor Wilson

    “‘The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is the result of being a faithful covenant member.’But maybe it should be put this way instead. ‘The blessing of imputed righteousness is only for those covenant members who have genuine faith.”

    I dislike Booth and your clarification equally. It is stated in such a way that our faithfulness is factored into justification.

    I dislike your sanitized version also. On the one hand you distance yourself from Booth’s error, but on the other hand you open another door by adding the word ‘blessing’. It is stated in such a way that in order to receive the blessing of imputation dependent on genuine faith.

    The previous sentence may not necessarily be wrong but in the FV case it is sneaky wrong. Both the NECM and ECM receive imputation, the only way to ultimately know if imputation is going to be a blessing is if the faith is genuine. Since both the NECM and ECM receive faith the only way to find out if the faith is genuine is if they are faithful to the end.

    If this is not what you intended to say or mean then simply agree with this Reformed understanding: Once anyone receives grace so their spiritual eyes are opened and in true faith the turn to Christ alone they will receive forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the active and passive obedience of Christ.

  67. GLW Johnson said,

    September 4, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Fellows, as I have said on a number of occasions, the FV is a collaborated effort to re-introduce the teachings of Norman Shepherd into the bloodstream of conservative Reformed denominations like the OPC and the PCA. Granted, DW is constantly having to come in and tidy things up after his rowdy bunch of FVers pull a frat party, but when the smoke clears this is what you have,Shepherd’s ersatz Reformed doctrine of justification.

  68. September 4, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Vern, outside the visible church there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. I was speaking in terms of the norm. Of course there will be saved people who were never part of the covenant community in this life.

  69. September 4, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Dean, there is a vast difference between saying that a living faith, and only a living faith, can trust in Jesus and thereby receive the imputation of His righteousness — which is what we are saying — and saying that a living faith earns favor with God more than that other kind of faith — which we are not saying.

  70. GLW Johnson said,

    September 4, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Doug
    Who are the “we” in #69? That is NOT what Lusk , to mention only one of your FV colleagues,is on record as saying.

  71. Mark T. said,

    September 4, 2007 at 9:22 am

    In this comment, Wilson reinterprets the plain meaning of Wilkins’ and Lusk’s words, telling us that they really didn’t mean what they said. And in this comment Wilson reinterprets the plain meaning of Randy Booth’s and Douglas Wilson’s words, telling us that they didn’t really mean what they wrote.

    This makes Wilson the spokesman for one PCA pastor, one CREC pastor, the CREC moderator, and himself — none of whom really know, or believe, what they’re talking about.

    Thank you.

  72. Dean said,

    September 4, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Pastor Wilson

    There is a vast difference between saying that justified by faith alone can be the grounds and instrument whereby we receive the imputation of His righteousness – which the Reformed position has always been – and saying that works (as non meritorious as they may be) are also part of justification.

    When non-meritorious works are added to justification by faith ALONE then it really does not matter if the works are non-meritorious or not you still end up with a justification by faith and works.

  73. September 4, 2007 at 10:36 am

    I need to understand this and tried to express this in a previous post which perhaps was confused and hence unanswered. When Wilson speaks of a “living faith” does Dean (and others) understand that to be smuggling works into justification? If faith is a grounds and instrument, is it alive or dead? I am quite confused here and would appreciate some help in my understanding. :)

  74. Sean Gerety said,

    September 4, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Doug Wilson writes:
    Find me a quote in anything I have written that even remotely resembles your summary in your third paragraph. Begin with a “, end with a “, and give the citation.

    Where to begin? There is so much in RINE that supports my brief but accurate summary that I confess it’s hard to choose. So, why don’t we start with the following:

    Wilson & Co. makes our salvation contingent upon our doing, our ongoing “covenantal faithfulness.”

    Per your blog cite (and you and I have already been over your idea that believing is doing on this cite) and additional citations from you were provided above where you capitalize on the tautological “traditional” and synonymous addition of fiducia or trust to the definition of faith, you write:

    “The solution of the whole problem is provided by Paul himself in a single phrase. In Gal. 5:6, he says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.” “Faith working through love” is the key to an understanding both of Paul and James. The faith about which Paul has been speaking [i.e., per JBF - SG] is not the idle faith which James condemns, but a faith that works. It works itself out through love. And what love is Paul explains in the whole last division of Galatians. It is no mere emotion, but the actual fulfilling of the whole moral law. “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Gal. 5:14). Paul is fully as severe as James against a faith that permits men to continue in sin. The faith about which he is speaking is a faith that receives the Spirit who gives men power to lead a holy life.”

    Salvation by faith and works could not be clearer. Rome would be proud and from the papists coming out of the woodwork in defense of the FV (newly converted or otherwise), they are.

    One is brought into a conditional relationship with Jesus Christ in baptism

    “This covenantal act of baptism brings the person into a conditional relationship with God. Individual election is unconditional; but individual election is part of the secret decretal will of God, no ‘list’ of elect individuals having been revealed” (106 – emphasis added).

    You also favorably quote of Joel Garver’s “A Brief Catechesis on Covenant and Baptism”: “[I]t is precisely in our ‘covenantal’ election that ‘special’ election is realized and made known. Thus we should not drive a wedge between ‘special’ and ‘covenantal’ elections, for special election simply is covenantal election for those, who by God’s sovereign electing grace, persevere. For those who fall away, covenantal election devolves into reprobation” (139, emphasis added).

    Elect one day, reprobate the next. As I’ve already mentioned concerning RINE, election and reprobation are not eternal decrees of God made before the foundation of the world, they are states which men enter as a result of their actions under the objective covenant — they are covenantal outcomes. People are made elect by baptism, and reprobate by failing to fulfill the (unspecified) conditions of the objective covenant. As your man Garver makes clear; “Those who persevere in faith have no one to thank but God in his free and sovereign electing love poured out — salvation is by grace alone. Those who apostatize have no one to blame but themselves for having squandered God’s good gifts…. If someone is in Christ by baptism — united to the Head as a member of the Body — then that person is elect. If that person apostatizes and no longer abides in Christ (like the branches in John 15), he is no longer elect in Christ, but is reprobate, should he never repent and return. Whatever time we abide in Christ is a manifestation of God’s electing love for us and faithfulness to us.”

    (all baptized persons are then brought into the same relationship with Christ via baptism) and as they persevere in fulfilling the obligations imposed on them by virtue of this sacrament they will be finally saved or justified on the last day.

    You write that “both the true and false son are brought into the same relation” to Christ (96). So all baptized person are brought into the same relation, so why do some baptized persons go to Hell? While there are many places where you explain the mechanics, even employ the analogy of marriage, the long and short is; “faith in the biblical sense is inseparable from faithfulness…. But when we have faith that works its way out in love, which is the only thing that genuine faith can do, then the condition that God has set for the fulfillment of His promise has been met” (186-187, emphasis added).

    Just in case there is still any question you write:

    “[T]here is no such thing as a merely nominal Christian any more than we can find a man who is a nominal husband. There are many faithless husbands, but if a man is a husband at all, then he is as much a husband as a faithful one. He is a covenant breaker, but this is not the same as saying that he has no covenant to break. In the same way, there are multitudes of faithless Christians, who do not believe what God said at their baptism (96).”

    “No one assumes that every husband will automatically have a successful marriage. Nor should we assume that every Christian will go to Heaven. But all husbands are in fact married.(106)”

    In your soteriology some Christians go to Hell.

    “So again, when someone is baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they [sic] are ushered into an objective, visible, covenant membership. Regardless of the state of their heart, regardless of any hypocrisy, regardless of whether or not they mean it, such a person is now a visible saint, a Christian” (194, emphasis added).

    “Those who obligate themselves under the terms of the covenant law to live by faith but then defiantly refuse to believe are cut away” (134, emphasis added).

    Per your conditional visible “objective” covenant, you tells us in RINE that faith is synonymous with faithfulness and like an unfaithful husband who, even while mired in infidelity, still has “all the obligations of marriage.(20)” The lesson is: In order to be finally saved, sinners must do their part. Salvation is not the result of Christ’s work alone outside of them and on their behalf, but something worked in the church “corporately” as church members persevere and live out their lives in covenantal faithfulness. Christians are saved by fulfilling the conditions of the covenant: “In the historic Protestant view, good works are inseparable from biblical salvation. They are not a condiment to flavor a “raw” justification, but rather are definitionally related to justification…like the terms husband and wife.(173)”

    Beyond that, concerning the church you replace the confessional and biblical visible/invisible distinction, which you call “Hellenistic,” with an historic/eschatological one. “A problem is created when we affirm a belief in two Churches at the same moment in time, one visible and the other invisible. Are they the same Church or not? If they are, then why are “membership rosters” different? If they are not, then which is the true church? We know that Christ has only one bride. The natural supposition is that the invisible church, made up of the elect, is the true church. But this leads to a disparagement of the visible church(74).”

    That’s the theory anyway and that is RINE in a nutshell.

    QED :)

  75. September 4, 2007 at 11:12 am

    re: 72

    When non-meritorious works are added to justification by faith ALONE then it really does not matter if the works are non-meritorious or not you still end up with a justification by faith and works.

    Which is precisely why we had the Reformation.

    Says Venema, “In their protest against [the] Roman Catholic understanding of the basis for the justification of believers, the Reformers insisted that justification is wholly a free gift of God’s grace. Grace alone – not grace plus the working of believers prompted by grace – is the exclusive basis for the justification and salvation of believers.”

  76. Robert K. said,

    September 4, 2007 at 11:55 am

    >”I need to understand this and tried to express this in a previous post which perhaps was confused and hence unanswered. When Wilson speaks of a “living faith” does Dean (and others) understand that to be smuggling works into justification? If faith is a grounds and instrument, is it alive or dead? I am quite confused here and would appreciate some help in my understanding.”

    I’m not as adept as the others here in parsing the micro equivocations re faith and works mainly because I don’t care to. When I see it to any degree it’s the same death. But ‘living faith’ may seem like an innocuous term, but it’s really a carefully chosen and used term – whether it’s newly coined or not, it’s what the FVists mean to imply by it – to mush faith into faithfulness.

    One thing they, the FVists in this case, always have working for them is the common reaction from a good percentage of any audience that is hearing them or a debate like this where people say: “Isn’t this just all about language? How is any of this practical?”

    It is practical in this sense: a person has to “die to the law”, to use the apostle Paul’s language. Until this happens you have yet to ‘turn’ internally, or repent, or reorientate internally and go from being still controlled by rebellious self-will rather than God’s will. You’re still in bondage to your vanity and worldly pride, and self-will. Your ‘old man’ within you. You still think you are, afterall, ‘not that bad a person’… You havn’t yet accepted your own nothingness (nothingness in terms of your ability to save yourself). You havn’t yet recognized the enormous difference between your works and the demands of God’s holiness and justice. You havn’t yet accepted that you *need* a Saviour. A Mediator between you and God the Father who can only do what you as a fallen, corrupted, dead in sin human being can’t do. It’s the most difficult thing for a person to accept that they aren’t ‘all that bad.’ Calvin says: don’t compare yourself to other human beings. When you do that none of us think we’re all that bad (and it may be true). He says compare yourself to God. Try to get a sense of the absolute holiness of God. The sublime holiness that calls for fear and reverence.

    A person just has to make this transition from thinking their works can have any part – to any degree – in saving them and realizing you need totally and only the work of Christ in following the law and sacrificing Himself on the cross. Only that can meet the demands of God’s immense, infinite holiness.

    A human can still grin and say: “Ha, ha. Words.” But look at us. Look at our actions. Look at our past. I’m referring to fallen humanity. Tyndale said you have to realize that in God’s eyes you are like a poisonous snake, and you aren’t ‘bad’ only if you strike with your fangs; you are bad (dead in sin) because you have poison in you. And, afterall, because it is your nature to strike. And you will sooner or later. And you can’t get the poison out of you any more than a leopard can change its spots.

    Romanists and Federal Visionists follow the devil and are in bondage to the devil’s kingdom of death because they think they are basically ‘good’, after all is said and done. The devil knows they are in bondage to his darkness and death and he cultivates these notions – illusions and delusions – in people. He sets up churches where this is taught, to keep people in the state of tame slaves and prisoners to his kingdom. (Because it’s a state of vanity – emptiness – and pride that keeps them from hearing the Word of God and being effectually called by the Word and the Spirit.)

    Obviously a person has to have more than an intellectual realization that their works can’t save them. They need regeneration. This is why these same people who are in the devil’s kingdom practice the exaltation of man and ritual over the Word and the Spirit. Sacramentalism. Sacerdotalism. Clericalism. Man-fearing over God-fearing. And usually the active policing to enforce the fear of man.

    Good works just happen. You find yourself engaging in spiritual warfare, for instance. Nobody has to motivate you. You are motivated because it is what you are. It’s in your heart to engage in spiritual warfare against your Old Man, the world, and the devil. You are already justified at this point (effectually called, regenerated, converted and have conscious faith and repentance). The foundation has been set. You are standing on that foundation now. What you do on that foundation is rewarded at the Judgment, but it doesn’t effect your vindication at the Judgment. Jesus Christ has secured that. It is done. You are a citizen of the Kingdom of God. You have true liberty as an individual in God’s Kingdom. The devil and his human ministers don’t want you to know about any of this.

  77. Dave Rockwell said,

    September 4, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    “Vern, outside the visible church there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. I was speaking in terms of the norm. Of course there will be saved people who were never part of the covenant community in this life.”

    Acts 16:30-31 …”Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…
    Period.

    To add the visible church or anything to that verse as a contributing factor to salvation is to preach a different gospel and to curse yourself (Galatians 1:8-9). The fact that people are saved outside the covenant community proves that salvation is in no way tied to the visible church.

    John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    I stand on the authority of the Word of God – not on the crazed imaginations of sinful man.

    The Federal Vision is a counter-reformational attempt to replace the authority of Jesus Christ – the infallible Word of God – with the authority of the visible church. We call that a cult. It is led by a bunch of arrogant cult leaders with a lust for power. And, sadly, the PCA has been sucked into it by elders who are also led by their passions and are not grounded in the Word of God.

  78. Dean said,

    September 4, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Ms Nagel

    According to the Reformed tradition faith is the 1.) simple 2) sole, 3.) passive/receptive, and 4.) outside of ourselves instrument which apprehends Christ and his benefits.

    A corpse is always dead. Faith that justifies is always alive. We do not say dead corpse. Similarly we do not say the living faith justifies.

    Why do I (and others) get nervous when the FV talk about the faith that justifies is living since the faith is alive? Because the same faith that justifies also sanctifies us. The faith that sanctifies us “worketh by love”. The faith that worketh by love demonstrates that our faith is genuine.

    The living active obedient faith is the fruits and evidences of genuine faith but is not the ground or instrument of justifying faith. With the FV and NPP obedience, faithfulness, and trust all get thrown into a blender and we left with a sanctification/sanctification smoothie.

    Pastor Wilson my not agree with everything his FV advocates write but he does not distance himself enough or correct the errors they make.

    Examples:

    NT Wright: “Justification, at the last, will be on the basis of performance.”

    N Shepherd “Just as Jesus was faithful in order to guarantee the blessing, so his followers must be faithful in order to inherit the blessing.”

    Richard Lusk: “Taken out of context, Wright’s comments on page 440 may seem problematic: “Justification at the last, will be on the basis of performance, not possession [of Torah].” But this is not a raw legalism. Wright is simply holding together the two poles of Paul’s justification theology: future justification is according to works, while present justification is by faith alone.”

    Mark Horne: “Again we see here that ‘the righteousness of God’ is his own character, his faithfulness, demonstrated in his work of salvation to his people…. It is really violently discontextual to claim that ‘the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ’ refers to imputed righteousness. I have come to agree with Wright and Richard Hayes that the phrase “faith in Jesus Christ” ought to be translated as ‘the faith of Jesus Christ’. Paul is speaking of Christ’s obedience rather than our trust by which we which we receive Christ and his righteousness. But that really doesn’t matter.”

  79. Robert K. said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    >Acts 16:30-31 …”Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…
    Period.

    >To add the visible church or anything to that verse as a contributing factor to salvation is to preach a different gospel

    >The Federal Vision is a counter-reformational attempt to replace the authority of Jesus Christ – the infallible Word of God – with the authority of the visible church. We call that a cult.

    Amen, and amen.

  80. Robert K. said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    These quotes:

    ____________
    Examples:

    NT Wright: “Justification, at the last, will be on the basis of performance.”

    N Shepherd “Just as Jesus was faithful in order to guarantee the blessing, so his followers must be faithful in order to inherit the blessing.”

    Richard Lusk: “Taken out of context, Wright’s comments on page 440 may seem problematic: “Justification at the last, will be on the basis of performance, not possession [of Torah].” But this is not a raw legalism. Wright is simply holding together the two poles of Paul’s justification theology: future justification is according to works, while present justification is by faith alone.”

    Mark Horne: “Again we see here that ‘the righteousness of God’ is his own character, his faithfulness, demonstrated in his work of salvation to his people…. It is really violently discontextual to claim that ‘the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ’ refers to imputed righteousness. I have come to agree with Wright and Richard Hayes that the phrase “faith in Jesus Christ” ought to be translated as ‘the faith of Jesus Christ’. Paul is speaking of Christ’s obedience rather than our trust by which we which we receive Christ and his righteousness. But that really doesn’t matter.”
    ____________

    have the stench of hell on them.

  81. Vern Crisler said,

    September 4, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    #68
    Hi Doug,

    I’m beginning to think your critics are right about you. You fail to see the point of the questions that are asked of you, or you sneak around them in order to avoid answering them head on. The question was, does God justify the ungodly or does he justify church members? Your formulation, and your subsequent response, indicate to me that you are essentially a conditionalist when it comes to justification, and Robert K is not too far off in his evalution of you.

    The claim that there is no salvation outside the visible church was ridiculous when it was first uttered, and has not gained any credibility since. Salvation is ALWAYS outside of the visible church since the invisible church is where salvation takes hold of us. The visible church is a result, not a condition of this salvation.

    Strange that anyone would have to be arguing this point, but that’s FV I guess–utter confusion.

    Vern

  82. Vern Crisler said,

    September 4, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Oops, it looks like Dave and Robert already responded on the visible church issue.
    Vern

  83. Black&TanInTheAM said,

    September 5, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    I would have to ask Vos what he means by eternal life. Memory may fail me but I recall Moses saying, Do this and you will live. Not “live forever” or what ever else eternal life may be. I love the law. I do not agree with Vos’ summary as far as I understand him. If I obey the law, life happens; if I do not…that “other” thing does. I hope I am teaching my children accordingly when I say to them, Obedience is happiness; disobedience is sadness.

  84. Black&TanInTheAM said,

    September 5, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Per #78
    Can we not say,
    Shepherd “Just as Jesus was faithful in order to guarantee the blessing, so his followers must [persevere] in order to inherit the blessing.”

    This is where I hear echoes.


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