Not Answering the Question

Wilkins does not answer the substance of the seventh declaration. The seventh declaration declares that there is no union with Christ except saving union. This plainly declares “temporary saving union” to be a contradiction in terms. Wilkins plainly holds that there is a temporary saving union. Even if the qualities of that temporary saving union are not the same as the qualities of the saving union, it does not matter. Temporary saving union is a contradiction in terms. Further, Wilkins obviously holds that temporarily saved people have benefits of Christ’s mediation that are either identical to or visibly indistinguishable from the benefits (that go by the same name) that saved people have. This is precisely the target of the seventh declaration. Wilkins says that he doesn’t believe that the communion that the elect have with Christ can be lost. Goodie. That isn’t the issue in the seventh declaration. Not one bit. The issue is whether someone can have some of the benefits of Christ’s mediation without having all of them. It’s funny that Wilkins uses the term “non-effectual union,” because that is directly contradictory to what he has said before in _Federal Vision_, pp. 58ff. I keep on directing people to those pages, because they are the most unqualified and worst pages in all of the Federal Vision corpus.

Further, Wilkins makes the difference between elect and non-elect to be in perseverance. It isn’t. The difference is in God’s decree. Of course, the decree of God will result in the elect persevering (or, shall I say, being preserved by God).

Wilkins repeats his tired old argument about the warnings. He really should have read enough of the critics by now to know that not only do they not buy this argument, but that it actually has several answers.

He says that the differences between elect and non-elect may not be discernible until the non-elect apostatize. What if they don’t in this life? How would Wilkins answer this? I know how Wilson answers this, and it is not consistent with his view of the church. Furthermore, I’m rather sure that Wilkins would answer differently from Wilson on this one. According to Wilkins’s own admission, if the differences don’t come out until one apostatizes, and someone never leaves the church, then what does differentiate them?

One last problem. Wilkins says that covenant relationships are dynamic. Theologians love to use this word, as it makes them seem “hip” and “relevant.” Does this dynamic quality extend to the covenantal relationships that the elect have with God? If so, how dynamic are they? Are they dynamic enough so that the elect can lose this relationship?

I just thought of a huge problem for Wilkins’s interpretation of the warning passages. If Wilkins wants these passages to apply to the entire church in the way he wants it to (namely, that it applies to all in the church the same way), then there is no foundation for assurance left. Since then the warnings must apply to the elect the same way they apply to the non-elect. If they do, then implicitly Wilkins is allowing for the possibility that the elect could fall. If they do apply to the elect in this way, then the elect must always be questioning their salvation. Therefore, this idea completely undermines any ground for assurance that any elect person might have.

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66 Comments

  1. Tony S said,

    October 29, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Declaration 7: The view that one can be “united to Christ” and not receive all the benefits of Christ’s mediation, including perseverance, in that effectual union is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

    I’m assuming that effectual means the same thing as it does in effectual calling. As written by the committee and adopted by the PCA this statement doesn’t exclude non-effectual unions with Christ because it limits its context to effectual union. If the committee had meant to take the position that only one type of union is possible then they shouldn’t have qualified union with effectual. As his response is written I don’t see any contradiction with the declaration.

    You do bring up some good points especially wrt to what he’s written previously and how exactly his theology deals with non-elect people who are never formally seperated from the church.

    BTW, can Lutheran theology provide any ground for assurance, since according to it a person who is justified by faith can lose their justification?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    October 29, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Tony, the question is this: does Wilkins actually claim that the temporary union is non-effectual? Wilkins claims that it is “effectual,” just not forever. This is clear from pp. 58ff of _Federal Vision_.

    Lutheran theology has serious problems exactly at the point you describe.

  3. pduggie said,

    October 29, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Witsius says

    “”The suretiship and satisfaction of Christ, have also been an occasion of much good, even to the reprobate. For it is owing to the death of Christ that the Gospel is preached to every creature, that gross idolatry is abolished in many parts of the world; that wicked impiety is much restrained by the discipline of the word of God, that they obtain at times many and excellent though not saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, that ‘they have escaped the pollutions of the world through’ the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2Pe 2:20). And who can in short enumerate all those things which they enjoy, not through accident only, and beside the intention of God, and of Christ; but by the appointment of God? Not indeed with a design and purpose of saving them according to the testament; but from a view to make known his long-suffering towards the vessels of wrath, that is, those who are to perish, who dwell among those who are to be saved. For nothing falls out by accident, with respect to the intention of God; every thing being according to his determinate counsel.”

    But Lane says

    “The issue is whether someone can have some of the benefits of Christ’s mediation without having all of them.”

    Who is right?

  4. pduggie said,

    October 29, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    If wilkins starts using other terms than the ones in the magic scare quotes “union with Christ” to describe how the reprobate get bennies, is that ok?

    Smerged with Christ?
    Represented by Christ
    Headed by Christ?
    Grounded in Christ?
    Planted in Christ?
    legally united to Christ, though not vitally?
    In Covenant with Christ
    In Christ?
    With Christ in the visible church?
    Under the Lordship of Christ?
    Subjected to Christ?

  5. October 29, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    That’s an important question, pdug.

    I, for one, would be much more confortable with our FV friends if they would take the peace and purity of the church seriously enough to allow the confessions they’ve vowed to uphold to shape and even limit the kind of nomenclature they employ.

    So yeah, if there’s a biblical/theological phenomenon wherein someone makes a profession of Christ, endures for a time, and then walks away (and no one denies that this happens), then call it something beside “union with Christ.”

    If on the last day the elect’s works will be judged and rewarded by open acknowledgement and acquittal (and no one denies this), then call it something besides “final justification.”

    It’s not that hard, especially for Reformed people who have been making distinctions between stuff for half a millennium now.

    But when they refuse to be bound by the language of the confessions they claim to hold to under the guise of “just reading the Bible for what it says,” it creates havoc in the churches.

  6. October 29, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    The suretiship and satisfaction of Christ, have also been an occasion of much good, even to the reprobate….

    But Lane says

    “The issue is whether someone can have some of the benefits of Christ’s mediation without having all of them.”

    Who is right?

    Both are right, since Witsius never claimed that the benefits (‘much good”) given to NECMs are benefits of Christ’s mediation. All he says is that Christ’s satisfaction is an “occasion” of those benefits.

    Nice try, once again, Pduggie.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    October 29, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    I agree with every last word of the Witsius quotation.

  8. its.reed said,

    October 29, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Ref. #7:

    and without contradiction, as Witsius does not say what you are apparently reading into his words by using him as an example of opposition to Lane’s points.

  9. Roger Mann said,

    October 29, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    But Lane says: “The issue is whether someone can have some of the benefits of Christ’s mediation without having all of them.” Who is right?

    First, where in this quote does Witsius say that “some of the benefits of Christ’s mediation” are communicated to the reprobate? He merely states that the “suretiship and satisfaction of Christ, have also been an occasion of much good, even to the reprobate,” not that the reprobate have received any of the “benefits of Christ’s mediation.” Second, in chapter eight of the WCF (“Of Christ the Mediator”) it specifically states that the “benefits” of Christ’s mediation are only “communicated to the elect”:

    “Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world…” WCF 8.6

    So, if your understanding of Witsius is accurate, then “Who’s right?” Witsius or the WCF?

    Notice also that the Confession says that God “as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden” and “withholdeth his grace” from the reprobate, “whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others” (WCF 5.6). According to the Confession, God uses the same means to “blind and harden” the reprobate as He uses to “soften” the elect. Again, if your understanding of Witsius is accurate, then “Who’s right?” Witsius or the WCF?

  10. Robert K. said,

    October 29, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Part of the FVists tactics, like all liberals who are deconstructing whatever has value and truth in it, is to play that game of citing a great influence (in this case Witsius) in a manner to shock and dispirit. As is usual the citing doesn’t have to be based in reality, it’s merely the shamelessness in citing a great name and influence like Witsius in a fake context that is intended to dispirit onlookers.

    I noticed on the ReformedMusings blog that gentleman too compliments pduggie in a similar fashion that Lane compliment Xon and pduggie. I find this curious. They are hardened mockers of God’s truth at best.

  11. Robert K. said,

    October 29, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Notice when I first mentioned Petrus Dathenus on this blog Doug Wilson quickly appeared and mocked the notion that Dathenus had anything to say to anybody today. By just mentioning great names and influences like Witsius or Dathenus they – their design is – to bring those names down. It’s what goes on in cults as well. Then notice they speak of themselves in tones as if being equal to Calvin and Witsius and so on.

    When they speak or write the name of a Witsius the way they do (with the intent they do) it’s like touching the Ark of the Covenant (as if to say, hey, people, it’s just wood and stuff), only they know God is not going to burn them alive for it…at least not immediately.

  12. jared said,

    October 29, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    I was benefiting from the comments here until right about now

  13. Ben D. said,

    October 29, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Lane,

    I have no desire to defend Wilkins’ position (frankly I find it quite confusing). However, I do have a question for you. You seem to be saying that actual, regenerated Christians taking the warning passages of Scripture seriously would undermine their assurance?

    But surely you do believe that these warnings are addressed to the whole church, don’t you? Is it not precisely as Christians “tremble at the warnings” (to use the language of the WCF) that they turn away from the deceitfulness of sin and toward Christ. Is this not one of the very means that God uses to preserve his elect, to warn them of what *will* happen to them if they abandon him? Even on a Reformed understanding of election, where God has firmly elected only a certain number to salvation, is it not true that these passages warn against what would in fact happen if one abandoned his or her Christian confession? We have the added confidence that God will surely preserve his elect until the end, but this never gives one the freedom to stop trembling at the warnings of scripture. We are to work out our salvation (not justification!) with fear and trembling after all. We have the full assurance of faith as we look to Christ in the present who has accomplished our entire redemption (apart from the unmovable hope of our future resurrection) in his cross and resurrection!

    Am I missing something in what you are saying?

  14. greenbaggins said,

    October 29, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Ben, I have always affirmed precisely this use of the warnings for the elect that you have propounded. My point is that Wilkins seems to be assuming two things: 1. that the warnings apply uniformly to the entire visible church; and 2. the warnings imply that people can fall away. Combine these two together, and it logically follows that the elect can fall away. In other words, his interpretation proves too much.

  15. pduggie said,

    October 29, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Witsius say they “obtain” and “enjoy” benefits. I don’t think that you can posit an offer/reception dichotomy in that case.

  16. pduggie said,

    October 29, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    The bible implies two things. Jesus is fully God, and omnipresent. Jesus is fully man, and limited in space. Combine those things together and it logically follows that Jesus is not limited in space, but is ubiquitous. Chalcedon proves too much.

  17. greenbaggins said,

    October 29, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    By that argument, Paul, nothing in Christianity should make any sense at all, and contradiction lies at the heart of it. NO. As to Christ’s human nature, He is at the right hand of the Father. As to His divine nature, He is everywhere. Don’t deflect the argument. The reductio doesn’t work.

    Witsius doesn’t *ever* say that what the unbeliever receives can in any way, shape, or form, be called by the same terms as what the believer receives.

  18. Daniel Kok said,

    October 29, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Great point on your last paragraph Lane.

    Elsewhere I wrote:

    “[For the FV] every statement of scripture [necessarily] means the same for every person. FV advocates (Leithart etc.) would have us read Ephesians 1 as indicative for every person in the church. As outward, baptized members we are all part of Christ’s body and thus these words are true for us. But what about Amos or Galatians? If I preach from these books should I condemn the whole congregation because Amos speaks to Israel (the church/the covenant people) and roundly condemns them? Is there a remnant according to grace to whom I should speak to along with the reprobate, and say ‘you are false, and you shall die!’ Should I say “O foolish [congregation] who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?” Or do I believe that those who have faith (a gift for the elect: Ephesians 2:8) will respond, and that the rest will respond in unbelief? (“The elect obtained it and the rest were hardened” Romans 11:7) When Christ speaks to the church of Ephesus and says that they have abandoned their first love, does He mean to say all, or every person addressed, man woman and child have done so? What if there were some faithful among them? Are they to be condemned because the greater body has fallen away? I do not mean to be cute or antagonistic, but it seems to me that a consistent reading of scripture would determine that not all statements apply to every person in the same way. “

  19. greenbaggins said,

    October 29, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    A very good point in turn, Daniel.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    October 29, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    In fact, can I use this tomorrow in a blog post?

  21. Daniel Kok said,

    October 29, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    Yes you may. But you have to give obeisance to me. :P

  22. R. F. White said,

    October 29, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    How about discussing answers to this question: what did Ishmael have in common with Isaac and/or Esau with Jacob, and/or Peter with Judas? No “trick or treat” intended here. Perhaps it would help us understand where we differ and agree.

  23. pduggie said,

    October 29, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Ishamel is probably a bad test case, since the minority report on hims is that he’s usable allegorically as an example of reporbation while not being personally reprobate.

    Otherwise, he’s a great Wilkins case study since the following is said of him

    “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction.”

    “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation”

    “And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised.”

    “And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.”

    “And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. And God was with the boy, and he grew up.”

  24. pduggie said,

    October 29, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    When Witsius cites Peter, you’d argue that the elect are NOT also delivered from the pollutions of this world through knowledge of Christ? We have that too, no?

    If Witsius would deny that there are any operations of the Spirit (The Spirit sent by Christ) that are common to elect and reprobate, that;s more than I know, but I’d be suprised.

    Don’t we even all get the same well-meant offer?

    I suppose one way to put together a warning of falling away that applies to the elect and thereby preserves them is to adapt Waltke’s statement on the ‘repentence’ of God.

    The elect can count on the threats of God to damn them if they tuned away, and in so counting on those threats, they are preserved from so falling.

  25. pduggie said,

    October 29, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    If a believer receives the gift of healing, doesn’t an unbeliever with the gift of healing have the same gift?

  26. jared said,

    October 29, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    Lane,

    You say, “As to Christ’s human nature, He is at the right hand of the Father. As to His divine nature, He is everywhere.” How is this not a form of Nestorianism?

  27. R. F. White said,

    October 29, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    To pduggie on #23: You cite the texts on Ishmael well, but you tell us only what Ishmael doesn’t have in common with Isaac, namely, election. So again the question: what does Ishmael have in common with Isaac? I take it that we’re interested in the benefits they have in common. Be as specific as possible. Or maybe turning the question around is more provocative: what does Isaac have in common with Ishmael? Perhaps the Esau-Jacob pairing or the Judas-Peter pairing yields more light. I don’t know; I’m thinking with you.

  28. pduggie said,

    October 29, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    What Ishmael doesn’t have is being the promised chosen seed though whom the nations will be blessed. But Ishmael as an individual is loved by God, gains some identical benefits (great nation, 12 tribes) as Isaac from his status as Abrahams son, in heaven now, etc. At least by the minority report.

    Esau had a birthright that he despised and it was transfered to Jacob. So i suppose they never had it in common, thou Esau had it. Esau had the sign of the covenant. Zwingli says “What then of Esau if he had died as an infant? Would your judgment place him among the elect? Yes. Then does election remain sure? It does. And rejection remains also. But listen. If Esau had died an infant he would doubtless have been of the elect. For if he had died then there would have been the seal of election, for the Lord would not have rejected him eternally.”

    Judas and Peter is more helpful as a Christ-related situation. Judas and Peter both have ordained office, they have the power of the Spirit, they share a relationship with Christ, they are both “called” to their office. Judas has enough said about what he’s loosing that even Anne Ivy was moved to guess that perhaps Judas is the SINGLE exception to the rule about elect always persevering.

  29. Lee said,

    October 30, 2007 at 1:20 am

    Jared,
    If I might venture an answer for Lane. It is not Nestorianism to say, “As to Christ’s human nature, He is at the right hand of the Father. As to His divine nature, He is everywhere.” In fact, it is a paraphrase of the Heidelberg Catechism. The Bible and Chalcedon teach us that Jesus has two natures in one person, but that those natures are not mingled nor separated. The divine nature is omnipresent, the human nature is not because it cannot.

    Netorianism on the other hand speaks of two persons (one divine, one human) rather than two natures. And these persons are not united hypostatically but rather morally.

    Hope that helps.

  30. October 30, 2007 at 5:45 am

    Ok. Timeout.
    Everyone’s breathing regular?
    Why are there Arminians? No, silly. Not because of sin. LOL. There are Arminians b/c there are texts that (removed from the rest of revelation) reflect and “endorse” that hermeneutic. Why are there dispenstationalists? Same reason. Now, unfortunately, when I mention FV-ers they will be lumped into the same category as those above: heretics. But, not so fast.
    Lane you said,
    “If Wilkins wants these passages to apply to the entire church in the way he wants it to (namely, that it applies to all in the church the same way), then there is no foundation for assurance left. Since then the warnings must apply to the elect the same way they apply to the non-elect.”
    This is simply not the case and seems to me to do further damage to the scope and purpose of the sacraments.
    What makes the sacraments an effectual means of salvation? Faith.
    What makes perseverance the characteristic of the elect? Faith.

    Assurance is not in the decree. GASP???!!! Assurance cannot be in the decree. SHUDDER!!!!! (make it stop!!!!)

    Lane, and anyone else ought there. Are you elect? Are you justified? Right now. Is there any iota of probability that you could chuck it all? (The answer is YES. And don’t say, “Well, then. That means that I wasnkndoiorurrurur… 009u39irnfcvfjruwhisdsdkvnsfnn {That’s Pratt’s audio version of speeding up the junk in fastforward})
    Yes, I could chuck it all some day. Wherein then is my assurance? My assurance comes from the Word of God “video et audio”. Do I wonder if I am elect “if” I find myself stealing from my company on a regular basis? Do I wonder if my election is sure b/c I am daily breaking the decalogue in thought, word and deed?
    “Where, O, where shall I flee? O, Assurance, where art thou?”
    I go to the word of God. And in it I find warnings. HuH! Hear them with me.

    “But the cowardly unbelievers, the vile murderers, the sexually immoral, the fans of David Copperfield, the idolaters and all liars…their place will be in the fiery lake…”

    “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil {WARNING! DANGER!!} and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
    And lastly,
    “For if we die with him, we will also live with him,
    If (!) we endure (!) we will also reign with him.
    If (!) we deny him (!), he will also deny us (!!!!!!!!!!)
    If we are faithless (?) he remains faithful (!) for he cannot deny himself.”

    {retort} “Yes, but if they were trulydjnsdvovfubfb, decretallydoivoivhorihorh”
    Stop. Just stop.
    Now, please. Really. Listen to Jesus here (OK, John, Peter, and Paul.). There are FV-ers b/c there are texts that speak this way.

    In all honesty, and not trying to plug my blog, I have audio entries on this stuph.

    http://postdeliberatuslux.wordpress.com/category/assurance/

    Persevere!!! (said with the Larry the CableGuy schtick)

  31. October 30, 2007 at 5:54 am

    Jason,

    #5

    Can that happen? When I call the former believer who has left “elect” is that ok? The way I see it, b/c ST wants to “i” and “t” we have to make further qualifications. BT is the way to go. That “elect one” didn’t persevere.
    “Yes, but then he wasn’t tru…akhfeihwhgwr9hwruvhusfs” (See #30)

  32. October 30, 2007 at 5:59 am

    # 12
    lol….lmbo

  33. October 30, 2007 at 6:00 am

    #13
    Sorry. I’m reading the posts post my post. Good post #13 boy.

  34. October 30, 2007 at 6:05 am

    # 18.

    Yes. Were you in the church @ Ephesus, you should hear the warning as if it were to you personally. Say you weren’t yet leaving your first love (“Hey, Pastor (er, Angel), I haven’t lost my 1st love yet…may I be excused?”) but b/c you live in a body of 1st-love-leavers, guilty by association. Hearer, beware.

  35. October 30, 2007 at 6:15 am

    Lane,

    I think #28 is as good a quote as #18. Will you use it in a post, today? jk.
    Hey, I know what would solve a lot of this. A good pub with billiards and darts (but only the plastic ones. I’m afraid of Gadbois and the guy with four initials ???Johnson).

  36. GLW Johnson said,

    October 30, 2007 at 6:39 am

    I hope someone gets B&T a cab to get home. I would hate to see what he do in his condition behind the wheel.

  37. jared said,

    October 30, 2007 at 7:59 am

    Lee,

    I understand the two natures bit, but I don’t think Lane is properly appropriating them. You say, “The Bible and Chalcedon teach us that Jesus has two natures in one person, but that those natures are not mingled nor separated.” with which I (and I’m sure Lane) agree. But then to say that Jesus’ divine nature is separate from His human nature as far as spatio-temporal location is concerned; how does that fit? This is like saying His human nature isn’t omniscient while His divine nature is, or that His human nature is bound by time and His divine nature isn’t. In other words, to say Jesus’ human nature (that is, Jesus the man) is at the Father’s right hand while His divine nature (that is, Jesus the God) is everywhere; well you can see how one might get some Nestorian error from that.

  38. pduggie said,

    October 30, 2007 at 8:52 am

    I wonder what ReformedMusings thinks about Ismael’s elect status. I would be hard pressed to believe that if Ishmael was “of his father the devil”, we’d have God talking about being “with him”, blessing him, making him a great nation, etc.

  39. greenbaggins said,

    October 30, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Jared, if I were saying that Christ’s human nature is in heaven, and His divine nature were *not,* then I would be open to the charge of separating the two natures (though, as Lee pointed out, not Nestorianism, since that involves two persons, which I never said). But what I mean is that Christ’s human nature is only at the right hand of the Father. Christ’s divine nature *is also there with the Father,* *in addition to* being everywhere else. Hope this clears me of heresy charges here.

  40. October 30, 2007 at 10:02 am

    [...] am (Federal Vision, Heresy) Here is Daniel Kok’s excellent comment (originally posted here) that shreds the FV take on Paul: [For the FV] every statement of scripture [necessarily] means the [...]

  41. R. F. White said,

    October 30, 2007 at 10:43 am

    To pduggie’s #38: Help us understand. Does the blessedness of an Ishmael presume the paternity and election of God? If so, why?

  42. Mark T. said,

    October 30, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Comment 27: Covenantal Similarities

    Ishmael and Isaac
    God named both men before their births: Ishmael (Gen. 16:11) and Isaac (Gen. 17:19), and in the English both their names begin with the letter “I” (that’s for the Jordanites out there). Both descendants shared 50% of the same DNA through Abraham and Sarah consented to the conception of both. Abraham circumcised both sons. Isaac was “a wild ass before men” (Gen. 16:12); Isaac rode an ass to the designated site of his sacrifice (Gen. 22:3). God promised to make a nation from Ishmael (Gen. 21:13); God promised to bless all the nations of the earth through Isaac (Gen. 22:18). Ishmael drank from a well of water (Gen. 21:19); Isaac dug wells (Gen. 26:18). Both men joined hands to bury their father (Gen. 25:29), and both enjoyed lordly inheritances.

    Jacob and Esau
    Jacob and Esau shared the same father and mother; they spent nine months together in the same womb, though God declared them separate nations (Gen. 25:23). Before their births, both men were the objects of God’s election (Rom. 9:13). Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his venison; God loved Jacob just because (Gen. 25:28). Both had a “covenantal” interest in Esau’s birthright: Jacob prized it, Esau despised it (Gen. 25:23–34). The same pottage of lentils changed both men’s futures forever (Gen. 25:34). Esau was a “hairy man” (Gen. 27:11); Jacob wore a hairy outfit (Gen. 27:16). Jacob obeyed Mother Kirk by taking advantage of his father’s federal vision (blindness) to secure his covenantal inheritance; and Mother Kirk warned Jacob of Esau’s (federal) vision to kill his brother (Gen. 27:42). Esau took comfort from the thought of killing his brother (Gen. 27:42); Jacob took comfort on a pillow of stones (Gen. 28:11). Isaac declared Jacob Esau’s “lord” (Gen. 27:37); Jacob called Esau “lord” (Gen. 33:8–13). Esau wept when he didn’t get the blessing (Gen. 27:38); Jacob wept when he met his bride (Gen. 29:1). God hated Esau and Esau hated Jacob (Gen. 27:41). Both men shared a very personal interest in Esau’s plan to commit fratricide (Gen. 27:41). Both men took wives: Jacob not from Canaan to honor his parents (Gen. 28:6, 7); Esau from Canaan in contempt of his parents (Gen. 36:2). Esau is Edom (Gen. 36:1); Jacob is Israel (Gen. 32:28). Both men buried their father (Gen. 35:29).

    Peter and Judas
    Peter and Judas had much in common: Christ chose both of them (John 6:70), though for different ends; likewise, the Father gave both to the Son for different purposes (John 17:12). Both (apparently) received power to perform apostolic miracles (Luke 10:1–17), and both were “numbered” with the apostles (Acts 1:17). Peter took money from the mouth of a fish at our Lord’s command (Matt. 17:27); Judas took money from the bag behind our Lord’s back (John 12:6). Satan showed interest in both: Satan entered Judas (Luke 22:3); whereas our Lord interceded for Peter to keep him from the evil one (22:31). Christ predicted the fall of both men: Judas’ betrayal (Matt. 26:21–25) and Peter’s denial (Matt. 26:34). The Son of God washed both men’s feet (John 13:5). Both men sinned awfully — Judas confessed his sin to the wrong party and hanged himself (Matt. 27:3–5); Peter wept bitterly and was restored (Luke 22:62; John 21:17). Both men comprehended virtue in Christ’s blood: Judas called it “innocent” (Matt. 27:4); Peter realized its cleansing power and called it “precious” (1 Pet. 1:2, 19). Jesus foreknew both men’s futures: Judas had it better if he’d never been born (Mark 14:21); Peter would go a way he didn’t wish (John 21:18, 19). God prepared both men’s eternities: Judas went “to his own place” (Acts 1:25); Peter sits on a throne (Matt. 19:28).

  43. R. F. White said,

    October 30, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Mark T.,

    Thanks for participating in this experiment, sometimes tongue-in-cheek! Could you tell us why you labeled this “Covenantal Similarities”? Any particular reason?

  44. pduggie said,

    October 30, 2007 at 11:08 am

    41: its hard to say with certainty.

    Is there really any positive reason to think Simeon, personally, is saved? Manasseh? Hezekiah? Solomon?

    Part of this is a default position that people God blesses in a narrative should be assumed to be in his graces unless the narrative gives reason to assume otherwise.

    If I didn’t have any NT statements to go on, I’d be hard pressed to conclude Lot was righteous and saved, for instance. Now I don’t have any NT statements to that effect with Ishmael, and there is the big negative in Galatians, but that’s explicitly an *allegory*.

    Textually, “God was with X” is used also of Joseph in Egypt. That has to have some weight.

    Didn’t Abraham not also teach his child Ishmael to “keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice”

    And Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah too?

    We find a godly Midianite 400 years later, after all.

  45. jared said,

    October 30, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Lane,

    That makes much more sense, thanks.

  46. Mark T. said,

    October 30, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Dr. White,

    Purely rhetorical; I wanted to grant the FV supposition of a real, viable covenantal union, with benefits, between reprobates and Christ and push it to its absurd limits.

  47. R. F. White said,

    October 30, 2007 at 11:31 am

    pduggie,

    Help me understand this sentence: ‘Part of this is a default position that people God blesses in a narrative should be assumed to be in his graces unless the narrative gives reason to assume otherwise.’

    Would you say that God’s blessings and graces are all of one kind? In other words, what is your default position on the nature of God’s blessings and graces?

  48. October 30, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Mark T

    I thoroughly enjoyed that. Thank you (wiping tear away).

  49. R. F. White said,

    October 30, 2007 at 11:49 am

    To Mark T.’s #46,

    Fair enough. Taking into account pduggie’s comment about learning the way of the Lord, wouldn’t you agree that there were benefits to Ishmael and Esau growing up in a covenant family?

  50. Mark T. said,

    October 30, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Dr. White,

    Whenever pduggie uses “scare” quotes, people should be scared. So when he wrote,

    Didn’t Abraham not also teach his child Ishmael to “keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice,”

    you’ll notice that he gave no citation. That’s because he applied a mosaic instruction to Abraham. Regardless, I’m happy to grant the point that Abraham’s love for God compelled him to instruct Ishmael in the fear of the Lord, but instruction is not the same as “covenantal union” with Christ however much he benefited from it (which was pduggie’s original question).

    I agree with him that Scripture does not explicitly condemn Ishmael (his seed is another story), so I don’t see him in the same category as Esau, who was bad news from the beginning. I see no evidence that Esau benefited from living in covenantal home. He appeared stuck on selfish, presumptuous privilege engendered by his father, who was completely out of touch with covenantal fidelity.

  51. pduggie said,

    October 30, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Mosaic?

    The quote is from Genesis 18, sorry.

    God says he will tell Abraham what he’s doing with Sodom (and involve Abraham in prophetic council) because Abraham will be the person who will teach his childREN to keep the way of YHWH.

    Abraham actually KNOWS Ishmael isn’t the chosen seed. If that means he knows Ishmael is reprobate, that’s a unique kind of insight into one’s children.

  52. Ed Barrett said,

    October 30, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Regarding Ishmael: Genesis 16 describes him as a wild man – that his hand was against every man. Also, later on in Genesis 21, Ishmael torments half brother Isaac to such an extent that both he and his mother are sent away. There are many homes where the children of believers are unsaved and may have a form of godliness from being in a Christian family and from regular church attendance. But I would not call that union with Christ. His/Her heart is just the same as Ishmael’s – wild and rebellious.

    Regarding Wilkin’s “temporary union”: What Scripture describes that?

    Regarding perseverance: Aren’t we attempting to turn the “P” in TULIP on its head? I thought it was God’s perseverance – not ours – that keeps us from falling. And, since God does not lie, we can have full assurance that He is faithful to keep us from falling.

    Regarding benefits: Didn’t Pharoah and all of Egypt benefit from Joseph’s God-given wisdom and careful management? Since they benefited, does that mean that Pharoah and the Egyptians had a temporary saving union with Christ? I don’t think so.

    Believers are the fragrance of Christ because they have the Holy Spirit living in them. Wherever they go, they bring the fragrance of Christ’s grace and mercy and love as well as a restraining power against evil.

    When my son goes off to his part-time work in a restaurant, we always pray that he would bring the presence of Christ into the workplace – to bless and prosper the business, to keep it a safe place for both the workers and the customers, and that he would work with a servant’s heart. Do the employers, fellow workers, and customers enjoy temporary saving benefits with Christ because my son who is a believer is there? Most likely not, but it is our prayer that his presence would in some way point them to Christ.

    The entire world benefits from the presence of Christianity. Just go to a pagan country and you will see the difference Christianity makes. Study church history. We are all aware of its benefits to building an orderly peaceful society. But there are no saving benefits apart from one being born again in the Spirit. Buddhists have wonderful caring hospitals that serve society in a similar way to Christians. Does that mean that Buddhists share in the saving benefits of Christ?

    We forget that Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual one, not a visible kingdom. It is what takes place in a person’s heart – not his physical presence in the visible church – that determines a saving union with Christ.

  53. pduggie said,

    October 30, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    “Would you say that God’s blessings and graces are all of one kind? ”

    On the one hand I’m supposed to believe in divine simplicity and not run afowl of Paul Helm in thinking that his grace is divisible from himself.

    The grace of God is not something other than relation with God himself.

    On the other hand, people vary, and the way people change and God immutably responds to changes in them means that God’s relations with man vary. We move from wrath to grace, even though elect before the foundation of the world.

    I’d say there are graces which are all of one kind, and graces which are not all of one kind. Its what Wilkin’s statement was trying to get at in saying it would behoove us (occasionaly) to speak of the undifferentiated grace of God.)

    Even if the ontological status (?) of covenant grace, or common grace, or special electing grace are altogether other, its important to stress the analogies between them. God’s goodness is known from his sending rain on the unjust. His love for his enemies is simple, even though expressed by rain to the reprobate and election to the elect. Its the same “simple” God who does both.

    See Carson on how we need to not finely split the “love” of God into only real electing love, when there is free offer love, covenant love, creational love, etc.

  54. R. F. White said,

    October 30, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Funny that you should say that. I guess we don’t need to posit different kinds of justifications, elections, etc. either.

  55. R. F. White said,

    October 30, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    To Mark T.’s #50 and pduggie’s #51,

    I took it that pdguggie had in mind Gen 18:19. Granting that for the moment, the problem with affirming or denying that birth into a covenant family is a benefit to the non-elect is a problem of definition, as we’d all appreciate. What may not be so well appreciated is that there is a tendency in Reformed theology to equate covenant with election. Consequently, we end up reasoning as if we believe that the covenant community is a community of the regenerate elect, a quite baptistic notion actually.

  56. pduggie said,

    October 30, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    John Leonard recently preached at Tenth a sermon on the cananite woman who self-identified as a dog worthy at least of the bread which falls from the table.

    She’s talking about healing.

    The context includes the full bellies of the 5000 and 4000, and leftover baskets.

    The meaning is the bread which is Christ, which is salvation.

    If we’re just talking about BREAD, like the gospel does, the analogies between the divisions of bread are paramount. We can go from 5000 people with bellies filled, to a Canaanite with a demon-free child, to a faith-saved heaven-destined woman.

    Yes, we can also say the 5000 had bellies filled but no heaven, that the daughter was demon-free, but for all we know was later imhabited by 7 worse demons.

    But simple bread is the image the Spirit through Matthew gives us to meditate on and live under. The imagery has to stand undivided for the text to work.

  57. Ed Barrett said,

    October 30, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Jesus says that many will come calling Him “Lord, Lord” but His reply to them will be “Depart from me; I NEVER knew you.” There are many in covenant families sitting in churches every Sunday, enjoying the benefits of a Christian atmosphere, having been baptized, some actively serving in the church, participating in the Lord’s Supper and singing hymns that exalt Jesus as Lord. But, Christ says that He NEVER at any time knew them. If Jesus never knew them, then how were they at any time in any kind of saving union with Him?

    Since election status is only known by God, it is our job as Christians to sow the seed of the gospel with everyone and stop the second guessing and presumption of whether or not a person is saved or temporarily saved because of his covenant status or church membership.

    As an aside, I have never heard of God “temporarily” or “partially” saving anybody. That would be a terrible deceptive joke to play on a person and that is not the work of the God I know in the Bible. He is the God who is able to COMPLETE the work He began in us.

  58. Mark T. said,

    October 30, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Dr. White,

    I think the FVists have hijacked the word “covenant,” wresting it from its biblical context, and made it a universal catch-all word to use as a covenantal safety net whenever it’s covenantally convenient. For example, they “renew covenant” each week in their worship service. What’s that? Couldn’t they just keep their vows?

    So when FVists speak of a “covenantal home,” which I assume is behind your inquiry, I see empty words employed by spiritual vacuums whose high-sounding phrases cover for degenerate theology. Or as St. Paul said, “Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (1 Tim 1:7).

  59. R. F. White said,

    October 30, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Mark T.,

    I agree with you about our FV friends and words. Still, I didn’t have the assumption you mention in mind when I made my observations in #49 and #54. I only mean to suggest that there are riches of kindness, forbearance, and patience in God’s providence toward non-elect if they are born to believing parents. They squander the riches of home just like the elder son/brother in Luke 15. Such riches may yield temporal benefits (such as preservation from and restraint against a life of prodigality) but do not profit them in the end because they are not received in faith.

  60. Mark T. said,

    October 31, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Excellent clarification, Dr. White, and I agree wholeheartedly.

  61. R. F. White said,

    October 31, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Wow. That was easier than I expected. Shame on those who say you’re unreasonable!

  62. Mark T. said,

    October 31, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Anyone who says that has mistook reasonable for gullible.

  63. pduggie said,

    October 31, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Are the riches that they squander different riches than the riches the elect receive in faith? Would they have the same benefit to them that they do to the elect if they *were* to receive them in faith?

  64. R. F. White said,

    October 31, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    #63 >Are the riches that they squander different riches than the riches the elect receive in faith?Would they have the same benefit to them that they do to the elect if they *were* to receive them in faith?<

    I would say, no, not necessarily, because not all benefits are intended for the elect and the non-elect alike. Some benefits are intended only for the elect, some for both the elect and non-elect. That is why I distinguished temporal from non-temporal benefits in #59.

    Perhaps, however, pduggie, you have other considerations in mind.

  65. R. F. White said,

    October 31, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    My answer to the first question in #63 fell out. Let me try again.

    ‘Are the riches that they squander different riches than the riches the elect receive in faith?’

    The riches I had in mind were the same: the blessings of a Christian home.

  66. November 12, 2007 at 11:47 am

    [...] 2, part 3, Response to Declarations 3 and 4, Response to Declaration 5, Response to Declaration 6, Response to Declaration 7, Response to Declaration 8, Response to Declaration [...]


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