Orthodox Reformed View of Covenants

Posted by Bob Mattes

Pastor Wes White has published an excellent essay in Merit & The Covenant of Works. Please don’t read another word here until you’ve read his short essay. Go ahead.

Done reading? Good. Wes does an excellent job of laying out the orthodox Reformed view on the covenants clearly and concisely. In doing so, Wes points out the errors that Federal Visioners make in their rejection of merit, the Covenant of Works, and how the Covenant of Grace fundamentally differs from the Covenant of Works. There’s no slight of hand used, just consistent exegesis of key Scripture sections.

As Wes eloquently shows, there is no need to create a mythical “objective covenant”, grant temporary saving benefits to the reprobate, or erroneously reject the imputation of Christ’s active obedience to explain or “fix” anything. Reformed theology as expressed in the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards had the appropriate Scriptural answers long before Shepherd, Wright, and the Federal Vision folks came on the scene, and will continue contain the system of doctrine taught in holy Scripture long after the fad theologies of these latecomers are forgotten.

Thanks, Wes, for taking the time to bring clarity to the discussion.

Posted by Bob Mattes

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187 Comments

  1. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 19, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    It’s a good article. I think more needs to be said in this area; the term “strict merit” has several different meanings.

    As Anselm used it, ‘merit’ referred to a kind of honor due to God: our sin brought shame to God, and Jesus’ death was the supreme act of honor.

    As Aquinas used it, ‘merit’ was something empowered by the HS to be that which earned God’s reward.

    As Kline uses it, ‘merit’ is covenant obedience (I think … someone correct me on this if I’ve misread).

    In my opinion, a bridge can be built to the FV on this issue. I would imagine that we could all agree to reject Anselm and Aquinas in favor of Kline, Turretin, and Pictet (the latter two of whom have been cited favorably by FV proponents on exactly this point).

    What we all don’t want is a system of merit in which “righteousness points” are stacked up by Jesus on the cross and then shoved across the table to us, to be dispensed with as needed for our sin.

    Rather, I would imagine that we want to see Jesus’ righteous life as that which qualifies him to be our sin substitute, and also which he imputes (in justification) and imparts (in sanctification) to us in union with Him.

    Praise the Lord!

    I’m not positive, but I think that solution would be acceptable to all around.

    Jeff Cagle

  2. Jeff Moss said,

    December 19, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    Jeff C., I’m heartened by your hope to “build a bridge” between divergent strands of Reformed doctrine on this set of issues. As high priest, Caiaphas unwittingly offered a true prophecy “that Jesus would die for the [Jewish] nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad (John 11:51-52).

    The Lord Himself describes His mission thus: “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd (John 10:15-16).

    Thus one of the purposes of both the active and the passive obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ was to bring all His sheep into one fold, so that they would be one flock, one shepherd. It was to gather together all the scattered children of God into one.

    What a travesty it is to take hold of a group of believers who are all sincerely seeking to listen to His voice and be obedient to His word, and then divide them from one another because of different shades of belief about the very obedience by which He purposed to bring them together!

    On that note, let’s work to bring together FV and non-FV Reformed Christians on this at least:
    Jesus’ righteous life as that which qualifies him to be our sin substitute, and also which he imputes (in justification) and imparts (in sanctification) to us in union with Him.

    And let me state further that even as an FV sympathizer, I would never credit reprobates and haters of God, whether temporarily in the covenant or not, with receiving the full benefit of Jesus’ righteous life. Their union with Christ may be real for a time, but is not such as to receive all the blessings of justification and sanctification that are received by God’s elect for eternal life. Wouldn’t most of those on both sides agree with this statement?

    If we keep Kline, Turretin, and Pictet within the fold, I think we can at least retain Anselm’s teaching on the Atonement as well. Why should there be a contradiction between restoring the honor that ought to be given to the Creator through His creature’s perfect obedience (Anselm), and punishing the sin committed against that Creator by visiting His wrath on a perfect substitute for sinners (Calvin)? I just discussed this issue at length on Saturday with a friend who was trying to set Anselm’s view of the Atonement against Calvin’s, and both against the “moral influence” theory. I helped him to see that Anselm’s and Calvin’s views are compatible and complementary; in fact, Calvin would probably not have come to his view on the Atonement without Anselm’s prior theological work on the subject.

  3. December 19, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Jeff M.,

    What a travesty it is to take hold of a group of believers who are all sincerely seeking to listen to His voice and be obedient to His word, and then divide them from one another because of different shades of belief about the very obedience by which He purposed to bring them together!

    Really? Is that the core issue? Have you read any of the seven Reformed denominational reports that reject Federal Vision, or the several seminaries that have? The issue has far more to it that this Rodney King-like paragraph.

    On that note, let’s work to bring together FV and non-FV Reformed Christians on this at least:
    Jesus’ righteous life as that which qualifies him to be our sin substitute, and also which he imputes (in justification) and imparts (in sanctification) to us in union with Him.

    Several prominent Federal Visionists, especially Jeff Meyers, vehemently deny the imputation of Christ’s active obedience to the elect. Some reject imputation of any kind, subsuming it under the FV flavor of “in Christ”. I don’t think that you’re speaking for them. Hard to find agreement when the most prominent FV leaders don’t agree with the imputation of Christ’s active obedience or its importance.

    And let me state further that even as an FV sympathizer, I would never credit reprobates and haters of God, whether temporarily in the covenant or not, with receiving the full benefit of Jesus’ righteous life. Their union with Christ may be real for a time, but is not such as to receive all the blessings of justification and sanctification that are received by God’s elect for eternal life. Wouldn’t most of those on both sides agree with this statement?

    Absolutely not. The PCA FV study report summarizes, in part, the teaching of the Westminster Standards on this:

    The Westminster Standards only speak of a “union with Christ” as that which is effectual; or to say it another way, as that which is saving and belongs to the elect (LC 65, 66). This is the “work of God’s grace” whereby the “Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling” (LC 66; SC 30). This “thereby” of the catechism’s statement is important: it conveys that the Spirit uses faith to unite believers to Christ (cf. WCF 26:1).

    This union is such that believers are “spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband” (LC 66). There is no sense in which believers are made “in any wise partakers of the substance of his Godhead, or be equal with Christ in any respect” (WCF 26:3). Rather, it is a spiritual union, whereby Christ is head and husband of all who are eternally saved, both singly as individuals and corporately as the church (WCF 25:1). Not only is this union spiritual, it is real and inseparable; the union attested in our Standards cannot be lost (LC 79). Confusing this “union with Christ” with visible membership in the body of Christ through outward profession or sacramental expression is a serious error and endangers our church’s faithful testimony to the Gospel essential of justification by faith alone.

    There is no such thing as a temporary union with Christ. I have posted on this in some detail here. This is one of the fundamental errors of Federal Vision that undermines sola fide.

    Jeff, you cannot gloss over the fundamental errors in Federal Vision with hand waving platitudes. Many of us continue to address the core issues, as Wes did in his post. It doesn’t do FV any good to gloss over the core issues.

  4. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 19, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    Bob (#2):

    Several prominent Federal Visionists, especially Jeff Meyers, vehemently deny the imputation of Christ’s active obedience to the elect.

    Well now, I saw that posting on de Regno Christi. But OTOH, he’s directly stated in conversation with me that he affirms the IAOX. So I don’t know what to make of it. I think he was trying to make a rhetorical point over on the de Regno conversation, the point that he reserves the right to deny something not spelled out in the Confession. Or something.

    Jordan now, he takes a tougher line. He’s very persuaded by the picture of “maturity” that he reads out of Gen. 1 – 3, and I don’t know whether he’d be willing to accept the language of merit no matter how it was stipulated.

    Jeff M (#3):

    If we keep Kline, Turretin, and Pictet within the fold, I think we can at least retain Anselm’s teaching on the Atonement as well. Why should there be a contradiction between restoring the honor that ought to be given to the Creator through His creature’s perfect obedience (Anselm), and punishing the sin committed against that Creator by visiting His wrath on a perfect substitute for sinners (Calvin)?

    I’m happy to view Anselm as great theological progress from the atonement theology that came before, and I would certainly side with Anselm over against Abelard! The problem with “honor” as a concept is that it (unconsciously) stands outside of God and stipulates an autonomous ethical norm. Adam’s action is “dishonoring” to God, such that God “must” punish him and his progeny.

    The autonomy of “honor” then allows for the development of the treasury of merit.

    Calvin fixes this bug, IMO.

    JRC

  5. anneivy said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:01 am

    “Whereas Adam could not strictly-speaking merit eternal life, Christ could. Whereas Adam owed all obedience to God, Christ had no obligation to become a man and take up the obligations of obedience as a man. Consequently, His work is inherently meritorious.”

    [appreciatively] Oh, that is excellent.

    Thanks so much for linking to that post, Bob. :-D

  6. R. F. White said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:10 am

    Reading Wes’s thoughtful essay provoked my thinking further. I was especially interested in his claim: ‘Christ did not strictly-speaking owe obedience to God as man, and therefore His work was meritorious. Christ’s obedience merited eternal life by merit in the strict sense.’ I want to offer a different take on Christ’s obedience to God as man by relating it to the Covenant of Redemption.

    As I understand it, there are in the covenant of redemption both essential and economic aspects to the relationship between the Father and the Son. Specifically, in the covenant of redemption, the Son is not only the Son of the Father; He is also a man and a servant (Phil 2:6-8) and a minor under a pedagogue (Gal 4:1-5). These facts have enormous implications for our understanding of merit in the covenant of redemption.

    On the one hand, a relationship of strict merit exists between the Father and the Son by Their very essence as the perfectly worthy God. Each Person merits — each Person is due — the worship of the Other.

    On the other hand, though not essential to Their Deity, there is also a relationship of covenantal merit between the Father and the Son in the covenant of redemption, and that relationship is as eternal as the counsel of God in which the plan of redemption was determined. To be specific, by submitting to humiliation to fulfill His role in redemption, the Son covenantally merited—He was covenantally due—the reward of exaltation from the Father in eternity past.

    In other words, the Son’s humiliation necessitated His introduction into the realm of covenantal merit, wherein the Son and the Father were related no longer only as God with God but now also as God with man, as lord with servant, and as father with minor. For such humiliation, and indeed for submission to the will of His God and Father, the Second Person of the Trinity was rewarded by the First Person of the Trinity with exaltation after humiliation (Phil 2:9-11; Rom 1:4).

    There is, then, a connection between the Son’s humiliation and covenantal merit: covenantal merit originates in the Son’s submission to humiliation. To put it differently, there are both essential and economic aspects to the relationship of the Father and the Son in the covenant of redemption, and covenantal merit is a necessary component of Their economic relationship as strict merit is a necessary component of Their essential relationship.

  7. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:20 am

    Jeff C., careful you don’t get caught up in the FVists’ tactic of false piety in the service of shoring up bad doctrine. “Oh, my, how could anyone suggest Adam could do anything to merit anything from God! I shudder at the least suggestion…!”

    Then, after they’ve got you in their fold, you’re busy being obedient ‘enough’ to effect your ‘final’ justification.

    Practically speaking, this puts you in bondage to the devil’s kingdom. How? It keeps your ‘old man’ in control within you. It keeps your vanity, worldly pride, and self-will in control.

    God’s plan is designed to mortify your old man and bring from the bondage of being ‘in Adam’ to the liberty of being in Christ. Faith in Christ, true saving faith, mortifies vanity and worldly pride, and self-will, i.e. the old man within you. Playing games with doctrine, playing games with language, in the service of avoiding having to give up ‘control’ (the illusion of freedom which the devil’s kingdom inculcates into all its inmates) is what false teachers do.

    People who defend orthodox doctrine don’t do it for themselves. We already are able to know the truth, and we’ve already encountered the truth because by God’s grace it has been available to be found. We want that same situation to exist for others yet to be made able to know the truth and yet to make contact with sound sources for learning that truth.

    We already see the effects when people new to Reformed Theology come to it via the gateway of Federal Vision sources. They develop cult-like allegiance to men, show a lack of basic common-sense when they make default dismissals of theologians who came before the men they revere, and they tend to dig in and become petulant and even mocking towards any advice or correction, no matter how starkly it is shown them where they are wrong. They also unfortunately adopt some of the worst traits of the men they revere, the shameless use of language for one, the desire to score points rather than to seek and engage and embrace truth, on and on…

    The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear/revere God, not man.

  8. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:50 am

    Following on what R. F. White said regarding the last paragraph of the linked post I would just want to say that one should not concede what is conceded in that post to Federal Vision nonsense in their rejection of the Covenant of Works. Pre-fall Adam had ability to fulfill God’s command, unlike post-fall man. Pre-fall Adam also was in direct communion with God, which vitiates against all this talk of God being too high above man to blah, blah, blah. God spoke directly to Adam. Fallen man is in a state of alienation from God. Pre-fall Adam wasn’t. And as for God not being in debt in any way to Adam, just look at the attributes of God. Essentially God could not lie to Adam, for instance. Essentially God could not be unjust to Adam. Etc. So in a real sense based on God’s attributes he had an essential debt to his created being, pre-fall Adam. God’s attributes are such that he is not a chaotic tyrant. He created Adam good and in the image of God and communed with him in the Garden. Pre-fall Adam is not the same as fallen man. (Everybody needs to read Thomas Boston’s Human Nature in its Fourfold State. Federal Vision exploits Reformed Christians’ ignorance of the four states of man.)

    Of course Adam could merit eternal life. God set the terms directly to him. (And read Pink’s Sovereignty of God, Appendix 2, if you ever get confronted with the so-called problem of God knowing Adam would fall and what that means for Adam having ability to not sin, etc.)

  9. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:11 am

    Having just consulted Turretin’s Institutes regarding merit in the Covenant of Works it is giving the wrong impression to quote this: “Hence also it appears that there is no merit properly so-called of man before God, in whatever state he is placed. Thus Adam himself, if he had persevered, would not have merited life in strict justice…” and leave the impression Turretin saw no merit in the Covenant of Works. Turretin very much references merit in the CoW, and in just the way all of Reformed Theology, classical covenant theology, does: “from the pact and the liberal promise of God (according to which man had the right of demanding the reward to which God had of his own accord bound himself).” In other words, after making the caveats that God is not in debt to his creation, and obvious point, and then after talking of God’s attributes (in the manner I made the point in the above comment) Turretin then goes on to state there IS merit in the CoW based on the pact itself and the promise of reward God himself made with Adam. Turretin also draws in the parallel of merit in the Covenant of Grace re Jesus to seal his point.

    See Turrentin’s Institutes, Eighth Topic, Question 3, section 17.

    Moral: do not concede anything to these Federal Visionists. Their concern is not even with the notion of merit. That is the tactic of false piety. Their concern is to rout the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

  10. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:30 am

    Pre-fall adam, traditionally, was not nakedly in communion and fellowship with God. He was only so by way of covenant, because God created him already *in covenant*.

    For there to be any creator/creature distinction, man cannot have the fullness of his being, which is God himself, by his own efforts. Man has to receive God as he received his own creation, as gift.

    Since God, by definition at it were, cannot be acheived by our natural capacities beyond the degree to which he has already gifted himself to us in creation, elevation must be a kind of gift upon a gift.

    But this gift upon gift is something for which we nonetheless have a natural desire, because having already been created in God’s image and with God gifting himself to us, given that there is “room” for us to be more godlike even as creatures, there is a difference between what we presently are, even at creation, and what we could possible become.

    That difference or distance is the foundation of human freedom and desire
    but what we desire is not something that we can either achieve on our own efforts or demand by right even in an unfallen state. How can we achieve what is intended as gift?

    We can only receive it as a gift and the mode by which gifts are received is trust working itself out in love, since faith and love are self-effacing, but in losing themselves in the Other, allow us to become more truly ourselves.

    The language of “earning” grossly obscures all this, though there can be better and worse ways to put ‘earning’ language (metaphorically, or by way of illustration, for instance).

  11. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:56 am

    >Pre-fall adam, traditionally, was not nakedly in communion and fellowship with God. He was only so by way of covenant, because God created him already *in covenant*.

    Maybe ‘traditionally’, but by what the Bible says he was in communion with God. God was talking to him directly. (You’re on the run…)

    >For there to be any creator/creature distinction, man cannot have the fullness of his being, which is God himself, by his own efforts. Man has to receive God as he received his own creation, as gift.

    Adam doesn’t need to have the fullness of God’s being to be in communion with Him. (You are staggering and flailing as you retreat…)

    >Since God, by definition at it were, cannot be acheived by our natural capacities beyond the degree to which he has already gifted himself to us in creation, elevation must be a kind of gift upon a gift.

    You now are falling back on the FVist need to pretend pre-fall Adam is the same as post-fall man. Beyond that your paragraph is nonsense. (You’re losing oxygen, stumbling, looking for cover…)

    >But this gift upon gift is something for which we nonetheless have a natural desire, because having already been created in God’s image and with God gifting himself to us, given that there is “room” for us to be more godlike even as creatures, there is a difference between what we presently are, even at creation, and what we could possible become.

    See above. (You’ve adopted a Buddha posture in the cave you have found for protection. There’s an apache hovering above…)

    >That difference or distance is the foundation of human freedom and desire but what we desire is not something that we can either achieve on our own efforts or demand by right even in an unfallen state. How can we achieve what is intended as gift?

    The FVist thinks he has bought enough distance from his initial retreat, and is now laying down nonsense on top of nonsense. (“OK, we’ve got him sitting in a cave. Over.”)

    >We can only receive it as a gift and the mode by which gifts are received is trust working itself out in love, since faith and love are self-effacing, but in losing themselves in the Other, allow us to become more truly ourselves.

    I am liberal theologian, hear me speak. (The vanity is rising in you to flush your Buddha cheeks a rosy crimson… The apache is consulting with a State Dept. lawyer as to whether it’s OK to pull the trigger…)

    >The language of “earning” grossly obscures all this, though there can be better and worse ways to put ‘earning’ language (metaphorically, or by way of illustration, for instance).

    [sound of munitions exploding in fireball in a remote cave] “Target down.” “Roger.”

  12. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:12 am

    I’d like to thank Wes White for his post. It affords the opportunity to really get these aspects of covenant theology sorted out, and I know the points he was making were not meant to be comprehensive and his post kind of got jumped on a bit, and he is probably (understatement) more irenic which I see as conceding things to Federal Vision doctrine that shouldn’t be conceded, but…different styles…

  13. Gabe Martini said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:15 am

    What an arcaic, strange, and Roman view of Truth you have.

  14. Gabe Martini said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:19 am

    Any article on Covenant Theology that begins with a favorable quotation of Kline should not really be taken seriously as an “objective” discussion of “traditional” Reformed theology; even Kline admitted he brought nuances (and an inordinate amount of them) to the table. Klineans acting like they’re “traditional” Reformed theologians are historical revisionists, par excellence.

  15. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:14 am

    Gabe, I read your post, other than your astonishing lack of understanding of things like the difference between pre-fall Adam and unregenerate fallen man, your reference to ‘Klineanism’ to denote what is the classical view of the Covenant of Works (although to your understanding heterodox) puts you in a category that is not serious.

    Try to understand that when you were in the crib the people now who are leading the Federal Vision campaign were skirmishing with Kline on issues related to theonomy, and they considered him their great enemy because he put a big, orthodox, intellecually authoritative (plus he was a cool, creative, cutting-edge theologians who was still within the bounds of orthodoxy, a rarity) roadblock in front of their false teaching. They carried over the use of his name as swear word into their current bad doctrine campaign, and it only works because Kline is still relatively unknown.

    It also provides the means for FVists elevating themselves to the mainstream by affecting to be some kind of opposing but equal force to Kline, when in fact the FVists are delinquents engaging in mischief and not the equal of any orthodox theologian.

    Kline was an orthodox classical covenant theologian. As orthodox as Vos or Berkhof in the 20th century. He’s not bullet-proof from criticism (like Vos) because he speculated in areas such as the creation week and so on, but that is really all the heterodox the FVers have on Kline, and it doesn’t have anything to do with covenant theology.

    The FV leaders are yanking you and all their other followers around with the “Klineanism.”

  16. Gabe Martini said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:21 am

    My lack of understanding? I was just quoting Reformed dogma. Kline had a lot of good things to say, by the way. The “strict justice” view of the CoW was not one of them. Believing Adam merited God’s favor and righteousness isn’t what I’d call “good things,” either.

    So you’re saying you disagree with the quotations in my post? Interesting.

  17. Gabe Martini said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:24 am

    And in regards to:
    “your reference to ‘Klineanism’ to denote what is the classical view of the Covenant of Works (although to your understanding heterodox) puts you in a category that is not serious.”

    That is a misunderstanding, I’m afraid. Kline’s nuance of the CoW is the view being portrayed as the classical view, when in fact it is not. The Reformed dogma quoted in my post is indicative of the classical view of pre-Kline days.

  18. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:26 am

    Read my post on Turretin on that subject above. Anybody can quote Reformed theologians’ caveats and present them as their main point. Classical Covenant Theology is not a lost subject that few know about, and Federal Vision is not Classical Covenant Theology.

    And this sentence: “Believing Adam merited God’s favor and righteousness” is more of the fainting-southern-lady false piety. God made a pact with Adam, read the post on Turretin above.

  19. Gabe Martini said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:32 am

    Caveats? Main Point? What? Who decides? How? What does this have to do with interacting with what is said? If you want to ignore the words of a Reformed dogmatician, go right ahead. I won’t burn you at the stake for it, even though you would me! :-)

  20. Gabe Martini said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:42 am

    By the way, Robert, I did read your post above. Turretin carefully DEFINED merit before he used the term at all. And he said “there is no merit properly so-called of man before God.” This is not putting God in man’s debt. This is not “strict-justice.” It was a gracious position Adam was in, and the entire consequence was all of God’s free grace (as the quotes on my blog clearly indicate).

    Also, in regards to:
    “Moral: do not concede anything to these Federal Visionists. Their concern is not even with the notion of merit. That is the tactic of false piety. Their concern is to rout the doctrine of justification by faith alone.”

    1. You’ve been warned before on this blog (I believe) not to impute motives to others. If you can’t do this, you should be ashamed of yourself and embrace more appropriate Christian humility and patience, if I may be so bold. If you haven’t been warned this, then shame on the admins here.
    2. My concern is not to rout the doctrine of justification “by faith alone.” If you’re worried about that, get a hold of James. I’m sure Luther would assist you in that campaign, were he still with us.
    3. I love you, and I don’t care how much you attack me and my friends. :-P

  21. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:52 am

    >Caveats? Main Point? What? Who decides?

    It’s called reading comprehension and honesty. Reformed Theology is not a hall of mirrors. False teachers want to present doctrine as a hall of mirrors. The Kingdom if Satan itself is a hall of mirrors.

    >1. You’ve been warned before on this blog (I believe) not to impute motives to others.

    Now, now, Gabe, Kline himself said you FVists (and related types) were after justification by faith alone. All who can see and who value sound biblical doctrine (nicknamed Reformed Theology) can see you are after justification by faith alone. You won’t intimidate me. In fact, I’m amused whenever an FVist even tries.

    I’m called by my King to defend the faith and to defend sound doctrine. If that causes Federal Visionists to seethe in rage so be it. Welcome to the battlefield. False teachers don’t get a free pass when God’s elect are present.

    Note to the moderators, because FVists have been successful in getting you against me before, read this thread, note what I’ve written above, then note how the thread freefalls once the FVists come on board. They can’t deal with truth, they can only play games. Allow us to expose them, over and over, in all the styles we bring.

  22. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:55 am

    >2. My concern is not to rout the doctrine of justification “by faith alone.”

    A three year old playing with matches may not have the conscious intent to burn his parents house down… What you can do, Gabe, is admit that Federal Vision theologians do not represent classical covenant theology. To suggest they do is to be playing games pure and simple.

  23. Gabe Martini said,

    December 20, 2007 at 5:10 am

    Who determines classical covenant theology? Which century? Dutch or Scottish? Northern or Southern? Pre or Post-Enlightenment? Van Til or Clark? WTS or WSC? Kline or Murray? Witsius or Calvin?

  24. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 5:20 am

    >Who determines classical covenant theology? Which century? Dutch or Scottish? Northern or Southern? Pre or Post-Enlightenment? Van Til or Clark? WTS or WSC? Kline or Murray? Witsius or Calvin?

    You’ll find it in all the above except WTS and Murray. Discernment, son, discernment.

  25. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 5:32 am

    >Who determines classical covenant theology? Which century?

    16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th

    >Dutch or Scottish?

    a Brakel, Witsius…Boston, Brown…

    >Northern or Southern?

    Hmm… Louis Berkhof (Michigan), Ligon Duncan (Louisiana?)…

    >Pre or Post-Enlightenment?

    Well…obviously the same pre and post. It is the vanity of philosophers to think that human nature changes when they’re able to slap names on eras…

    >Van Til or Clark?

    Better the latter than the former, but both are not relevant to the subject at hand…

    >WTS or WSC?

    Seminary obviously are breeding grounds for mischief. All institutions get taken over by the devil eventually. It’s the way of the world.

    >Kline or Murray?

    Kline. Kline is purely on-the-mark regarding the foundational basics of classical covenant theology. Murray not.

    >Witsius or Calvin?

    A naive pairing. It can be said both together. Calvin the bud, Witsius the flower, regarding CCT in general…

  26. December 20, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Dr. White, RE #6,

    There is, then, a connection between the Son’s humiliation and covenantal merit: covenantal merit originates in the Son’s submission to humiliation.

    I agree. I took what Wes was saying to be that the Son had no obligation to enter into the Covenant of Redemption in the first place. Once He did so, then what you say in your comment follows. I believe that this is the same point that you and Cal Beisner made in your excellent essay “Covenant, Inheritance, and Typology” in By Faith Alone.

  27. Jeff Moss said,

    December 20, 2007 at 8:34 am

    Bob/reformedmusings (#3),

    What a travesty it is to take hold of a group of believers who are all sincerely seeking to listen to His voice and be obedient to His word, and then divide them from one another because of different shades of belief about the very obedience by which He purposed to bring them together!

    Really? Is that the core issue?

    No, not the core issue, but it is the issue in this post. Besides, I’m pretty sure that most of the Federal Vision guys accept the imputation of Christ’s active obedience and the Covenant of Works (as understood Biblically), so why try to make these things a point of division?

    There is no such thing as a temporary union with Christ. I have posted on this in some detail here. This is one of the fundamental errors of Federal Vision that undermines sola fide.

    I went back and re-read your post, and I still have two questions: 1. If the Westminster Standards speak of “union with Christ” in one way, does that automatically preclude us from speaking of it in a different way that is also Biblical? (Let’s just assume for a moment that it is Biblical but not discussed in the Standards — how would you answer?) 2. Whether or not “union with Christ” is the best term to use to describe it, how do you understand being “in the vine” in John 15:1-6, and branches being broken off the olive tree so that others could be grafted in, Romans 11:11-24?

  28. GLW Johnson said,

    December 20, 2007 at 8:42 am

    Jeff
    M.
    You are reading the FV guys through rose-colored glasses- they do no such thing as you claim-even Wilson, who will use the language and then proceed to impregate the terms with his own idiosyncratic meaning. The same can be said for Meyers, Jordon , Lusk and Horne, all of whom simply to regurgitate Norman Shepherd. The proof, as they sa,is in the pudding and the recently released book that A. Sandlin edited on aFaith That is Never Alone is further confirmation that the FV is simply the most recent reincarnation of Shepherdism with it’s rejection of the CoW and the IoAOC.

  29. Jeff Moss said,

    December 20, 2007 at 8:52 am

    Jeff C. (#4),

    I’m happy to view Anselm as great theological progress from the atonement theology that came before, and I would certainly side with Anselm over against Abelard! The problem with “honor” as a concept is that it (unconsciously) stands outside of God and stipulates an autonomous ethical norm. Adam’s action is “dishonoring” to God, such that God “must” punish him and his progeny.

    Is it an “autonomous ethical norm,” outside of God, to say that a creature owes all obedience to its Creator, and that this is the honor that is due to Him? Here’s what Anselm of Canterbury himself has to say in Cur Deus Homo:

    “B. What is the debt which we owe to God?
    A. All the will of a rational creature ought to be subject to the will of God.
    B. Perfectly true.
    A. This is the debt which an angel, and likewise a man, owed to God. No one sins through paying it, and everyone who does not pay it, sins… This is the sole honour, the complete honour, which we owed to God and which God demands of us…. Someone who does not render to God this honour due to him is taking away from God what is his, and dishonouring God, and this is what it is to sin. As long as he does not repay what he has taken away, he remains in a state of guilt….

    It is impossible for God to lose his honour. For either a sinner of his own accord repays what he owes or God takes it from him against his — the sinner’s — will. This is because either a man of his own free will demonstrates the submission which he owes to God by not sinning, or alternatively by paying recompense for his sin, or else God brings him into submission to himself against his will, by subjecting him to torment, and in this way he shows that he is his Lord, something which the man himself refuses to admit voluntarily.

    “It was not right that the restoration of human nature should be left undone…. Hence it was a necessity that God should take man into the unity of his person, so that one who ought, by virtue of his [human] nature, to make the repayment and was not capable of doing so, should be one who, by virtue of his [divine] person, was capable of it.

    “He [the God-man] was in no way needy on his own account, or subject to compulsion from others, to whom he owed nothing, unless it was punishment that he owed them. Nevertheless, he gave his life, so precious; no, his very self; he gave his person — think of it — in all its greatness, in an act of his own, supremely great, volition.

    “Christ gave himself up to death for the sake of God’s honour…. That honour, to be sure, belongs to the whole of the Trinity. It follows that because Christ himself is God, the Son of God, the offering he made of himself was to his own honour as well as to the Father and the Holy Spirit; that is, he offered up his humanity to his divinity, the one selfsame divinity which belongs to the three persons.”

    Thus far Anselm. And though it is still incomplete and would be taken further by those who came after him, let the truth that he teaches bring glory to God!

    After all, I really want to heed Robert K.’s admonition (#7) that we should not make default dismissals of theologians who came before the men [we] revere. :-)

  30. December 20, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Jeff M.,

    1. If the Westminster Standards speak of “union with Christ” in one way, does that automatically preclude us from speaking of it in a different way that is also Biblical?

    If I decide that when I say “car” I really mean “bicycle”, have I brought clarity to any discussion related thereto. If I decide that pencils will be called apples, will I be nourished if I send someone to the store for a dozen apples? Words mean things. If we change the meanings, then we obscure the underlying truth to our peril. So, one is not free to change the historically accepted definition of a word or phrase. If you don’t like the definition, find a new word.

    (Let’s just assume for a moment that it is Biblical but not discussed in the Standards — how would you answer?)

    But the Standards do and are quite clear on the subject. Therefore, the question has no meaning.

    Whether or not “union with Christ” is the best term to use to describe it, how do you understand being “in the vine” in John 15:1-6, and branches being broken off the olive tree so that others could be grafted in, Romans 11:11-24?

    Fair question. I answer it in a number of posts on my blog, most prominently in John 15:1 – The Same Sap?. Therein you will find some good quotes from Reformers, including Calvin.

  31. anneivy said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:25 am

    Re: #28, wherein JM inquired: “If the Westminster Standards speak of “union with Christ” in one way, does that automatically preclude us from speaking of it in a different way that is also Biblical? (Let’s just assume for a moment that it is Biblical but not discussed in the Standards — how would you answer?)”

    This is an effectively unanswerable question, for the Westminster Standards make very clear that there is ONE union with Christ, salvifically speaking. The careful crafting and explanation of doctrine, each building upon the other, precludes the possibility of some inferior, temporary union, so it doesn’t make sense to ask “Ah, but what if…?”

    64. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.
    65. The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.
    66. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.
    67. Effectual calling is the work of God’s almighty power and grace, whereby (out of his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto) he does, in his accepted time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ, by his Word and Spirit; savingly enlightening their minds, renewing and powerfully determining their wills, so as they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able freely to answer his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein.
    68. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called; although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the Word, and have some common operations of the Spirit; who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ.
    69. The communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is their partaking of the virtue of his mediation, in their justification, adoption, sanctification, and: Whatever else, in this life, manifests their union with him.
    [snip]
    79. True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God, and his decree and covenant to give them perseverance, their inseparable union with Christ, his continual intercession for them, and the Spirit and seed of God abiding in them, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

    To force a temporary, inferior union with Christ into the LC is going to require a complete overhaul of it, with major modifications.

    The only way there can be a lesser union is for the LC to be wrong. Mind, it was written by men so that is not an impossibility. Maybe it IS wrong.

    But it’s nonsense to try to say “Oh, no, it’s right!” while simultaneously arguing there can be a lesser union with Christ.

    If it’s right, no, there cannot be.

    If there is, it’s not right.

    Anne

  32. anneivy said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Oops, sorry, Bob and Jeff! When I started formulating my reply Bob’s hadn’t been posted yet.

    Didn’t intend to be redundant.

  33. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Ref. #33:

    Anne! (oh the horror :o) You’re never redundant :)

  34. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:36 am

    Jeff C., careful you don’t get caught up in Robert Ks tactic of false charity in the service of shoring up his own ego. “Oh, my, I certainly must be loving God because I love my neighbor so fully that look down on others with contempt”

    Then, after he’s got you in his fold, you’re busy with spiritual pride and you know you don’t have to listen to anyone.

    Practically speaking, this puts you in bondage to the devil’s kingdom. How? It keeps your ‘old man’ in control within you. It keeps your vanity, worldly pride, and self-will in control.

    God’s plan is designed to mortify your old man and bring from the bondage of being ‘in Adam’ to the liberty of being in Christ. Faith in Christ, true saving faith, mortifies vanity and worldly pride, and self-will, i.e. the old man within you. Playing games with human beings, playing games with motives, in the service of avoiding having to treat others as the image of God is what satanists do.

    People who come onto internet forums to “teach everybody a lesson” and lord it over them with the special Spitual insight do it for the satanic pleasure it gives them. They know the truth but suppress it in unrighteousness. Thety make bold claims and assumtions about human relationships and cultist meetings without any basis, and think they know what’s going on.

    We already see the effects when people who have forged their own ritual-free version of Reformed Theology bring it to others. They develop cult-like allegiance to men, show a lack of basic common-sense when they make default dismissals of theologians who came before the men they revere, and they tend to dig in and become petulant and even mocking towards any advice or correction, no matter how starkly it is shown them where they are wrong. They also unfortunately adopt some of the worst traits of the men they revere, the shameless use of language for one, the desire to score points rather than to seek and engage and embrace truth, on and on…

    The Bible says “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. Love God AND brother.

  35. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Since God, by definition at it were, cannot be achieved by our natural capacities beyond the degree to which he has already gifted himself to us in creation, elevation into greater communion with God, such as was pledged by eternal life, must be a kind of gift upon a gift.

    Recall the fourfold state. Surely moving from state 1 to state 4 represents greater communion and fellowship with God by the power of the Spirit. State 4 only exists by the Spirit, and as Gaffin says 1 Cor 15 shows that there was always God’s plan to gift us with the Spirit over our natural “psuchical” state.

    But this gift upon gift is something for which we nonetheless have a natural desire, because having already been created in God’s image and with God gifting himself to us, given that there is “room” for us to be more godlike even as creatures, there is a difference between what we presently are, even at creation, and what we could possible become.

  36. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 10:05 am

    Robert K says

    “You now are falling back on the FVist need to pretend pre-fall Adam is the same as post-fall man. Beyond that your paragraph is nonsense.”

    The bible says

    “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

  37. Wes White said,

    December 20, 2007 at 10:35 am

    Re # 6 – Dr. White, I don’t disagree with your point. # 27 correctly reflects my view.

    Re # 8 & others – Just read the Turretin quote in context: “If therefore upright man in that state had obtained this merit, it must not be understood properly and rigorously. Since man has all things from and owes all to God, he can seek from him nothing as his own by right, nor can God be a debtor to him–not by condignity of work and from its intrinsic value (because whatever that may be, it can bear no proportion to the infinite reward of life), but from the pact and the liberal promise of God (according to which man had the right of demanding the reward to which God of his own accord bound himself) and in comparison with the covenant of grace (which rests upon the sole merit of Christ, by which he acquired for us the right to life). However, this demanded antecedently a proper and personal obedience by which he obtained both his own justification before God and life, as the stipulated reward of his labors” (Institutes, 8.3.17).

    I do not deny that there is some basis for this reward in the character of God. It is certainly very much in accord with God’s goodness that He would reward Adam’s love and obedience with the highest blessing, especially since he put this very desire in man. That is different from saying, though, that it would be a matter of strict justice on the basis of the “condignity of the work and from its intrinsic value…”

    On the other side, I do not say that man could not merit eternal life in any sense. That’s why I repeatedly used the phrase “in the strict sense.”

    Re # 14 – this is a great illustration of the problem with the blogosphere. I did not begin by citing Kline favorably (or unfavorably).

  38. Andrew Duggan said,

    December 20, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Can I ask that Paul D and Robert K please cease engaging one another. Your interpersonal discourse comes across (at least to this reader) as less respectful to each other and other readers than either of you, I am sure, really wants. Can we try to stick to the topic, and not talk about personal motives? – Thanks

  39. December 20, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Anne, RE #33,

    What Reed said in #34. :)

  40. Andrew Duggan said,

    December 20, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Thanks for linking that great article – the last to paragraphs are an especially clear statement of truth. I cannot agree more with him and I think that

    Christ paid for both by His perfect obedience and suffering. By His suffering, He suffered man’s punishment. By His obedience, He fulfilled the broken condition of the covenant of works.

    really sums it up nicely.

  41. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Thanks, cousin, for reminding me not to overcome evil with evil.

  42. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 20, 2007 at 11:10 am

    I consider myself … warned …?

    Something.

    :lol:

  43. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Didn’t the prodigal son have the “right” to “demand” the inheritance? Wasn’t he a jerk for demanding it?

  44. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 11:40 am

    >with God gifting himself to us

    This is the liberal mush terminology you hear from Roman Catholic and liberal evangelical theologians. There’s a reason people like that think us Calvinists are mean. It’s because we tell them what the Word of God says.

  45. David Gray said,

    December 20, 2007 at 11:50 am

    >There’s a reason people like that think us Calvinists are mean. It’s because we tell them what the Word of God says.

    Sometimes people confuse why they offend others. They flatter themselves thinking it is God who is doing the offending when it is their fallen nature at work.

  46. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 11:56 am

    When you can see and value sound biblical doctrine the area you, as a believer, develop in is the practice of the faith. That is open sea. Some hug the shore regarding that, but you don’t have to hug the shore regarding that.

    But when you can’t yet see, let alone value, sound biblical doctrine you want to cure all your boredom you have with the faith by fooling around with the biblical doctrine itself, which should be your rock foundation.

  47. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    >Sometimes people confuse why they offend others. They flatter themselves thinking it is God who is doing the offending when it is their fallen nature at work.

    I actually don’t think I offend FVists here. To be offended by the truth you have to have something in you that can recognize the truth, and value it to some degree, despite yourself.

  48. David Gray said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    >I actually don’t think I offend FVists here.

    Well as a non-FVist I can’t comment for them. But I suspect they could answer that question more accurately than you could. I could answer it for non-FVists…

  49. R. F. White said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    When disagreeing with folks, it always helps to make sure we’re dealing in facts. One fact is this: Kline does not speak of ‘strict’ justice in his essay. He speaks of ‘simple’ justice and sets it over against grace. The difference in adjectives matters. Strict justice and covenantal justice differ, even within the Godhead where they are expressed, respectively, in the essential aspect and in the economic aspect of the Father-Son relationship.

  50. Robert K. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    False teachers get annoyed when they aren’t allowed to have an empty field with which to run the ball down unmolested.

    Students of false teachers tend to be varying degrees of false front. They like to pretend to be innocent types just trying to learn new things (but they expose that false front fairly quickly and often) when they are mostly people who have found something that is annoying God’s people (and plan, they hope), and so they attach themselves to it and ride it until it’s too embarrassing to be associated with it anymore. Then they look for something else…

  51. David Gray said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    >False teachers get annoyed when they aren’t allowed to have an empty field with which to run the ball down unmolested.

    Are you trying to explain the opposition to acceptance of the full WCF?

  52. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    God is love

  53. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Klines use of “simple justice” is a new term in the debate. He uses it in ways which overturn concepts of disproportionalit and gift

    Klineans like Baldwin and Steadman claim they can’t admit of disproportionalty (Steadman) and claim the WCF is contradictory because Man’s Chief End can’t possibly require condescension on Gods part (gift) to fulfill (Baldwin).

  54. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    Robert, please, enough. On topic, not on someone’s back.

    reed

  55. Gabe Martini said,

    December 20, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    In post 31, reformedmusings said:
    “If I decide that when I say “car” I really mean “bicycle”, have I brought clarity to any discussion related thereto. If I decide that pencils will be called apples, will I be nourished if I send someone to the store for a dozen apples? Words mean things. If we change the meanings, then we obscure the underlying truth to our peril. So, one is not free to change the historically accepted definition of a word or phrase. If you don’t like the definition, find a new word.”

    Did James bring clarity to the discussion or obscure underlying truth to our peril when he said, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone”?

    Apparently no one wants to acknowledge the quotes on my blog post about this. That’s fine, but the problem still remains that this is one tradition of Reformed thinking vs. another; not “THE Reformed Theology” vs. “Federal Visionism” or worse.

  56. Andy Gilman said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Paul D. said:

    Didn’t the prodigal son have the “right” to “demand” the inheritance? Wasn’t he a jerk for demanding it?

    Was he a “jerk” for demanding what was rightfully his, or was he a “jerk” for squandering what was rightfully his with “loose living?”

  57. Roger Mann said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    51: R.F. White wrote:

    [Kline] speaks of ‘simple’ justice and sets it over against grace. The difference in adjectives matters. Strict justice and covenantal justice differ…

    You are absolutely correct. Indeed, the concept of “covenantal justice” or “pactum merit” is really quite simple to understand.

    “When the parent promises the child a reward for doing some chore, that is tantamount to a covenant of works, and it is a matter of simple justice that the obedient child receive the covenanted reward.” (Kline, Covenant Theology Under Attack)

    That illustrates the concept of “covenantal justice” quite accurately, and is easy enough for even a small child to comprehend. Now we just need to find a way to explain it so that trained FV “theologians” can grasp it!

    By the way, here’s my favorite quote from Kline’s article:

    “The ultimate refutation of Fuller’s theology is that it undermines the gospel of grace. All the arguments employed by Fuller and sympathizers to prove that Adam could not do anything meritorious would apply equally to the case of Jesus, the second Adam. Thus, the Father was already all-glorious before the Son undertook his messianic mission, and their covenanting with one another took place, of course, within a father-son relationship. Moreover, the parallel which Scripture tells us exists between the two Adams would require the conclusion that if the first Adam could not earn anything, neither could the second. But, if the obedience of Jesus has no meritorious value, the foundation of the gospel is gone. If Jesus’ passive obedience has no merit, there has been no satisfaction made for our sins. If Jesus’ active obedience has no merit, there is no righteous accomplishment to be imputed to us. There is then no justification-glorification for us to receive as a gift of grace by faith alone.” (Kline, Covenant Theology Under Attack)

  58. Andy Gilman said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Paul D. said:

    Klines use of “simple justice” is a new term in the debate. He uses it in ways which overturn concepts of disproportionality and gift.

    Maybe you could help me understand this argument about “disproportionality” better. I’ve seen you bring it up on a number of occasions. I find these paragraphs from Klines article “Covenant Theology Under Attack” to be pretty persuasive, what am I missing?:

    Now we will focus on the denial of the simple justice of the pre-Fall arrangement. For one thing, the alleged disparity in value between Adam’s obedience and God’s blessing is debatable. It could be argued that insofar as man’s faithful act of obedience glorifies God and gives him pleasure, it is of infinite value. But the point we really want to make is that the presence or absence of justice is not determined by quantitative comparison of the value of the act of obedience and the consequent reward. All such considerations are irrelevant.

    One way to show this is to note the theological trouble we get into if we let the factor of relative values be the judge of justice. For example, in the case of the eternal intratrinitarian covenant, we would end up accusing the Father of injustice towards the Son. For the value of the Son’s atonement payment was sufficient for all mankind, yet the Father gives him the elect only, not all. We can avoid blasphemous charges against the Father only if we recognize that God’s justice must be defined and judged in terms of what he stipulates in his covenants. Thus, the specific commitment of the Father in the eternal covenant was to give the Son the elect as the reward of his obedience, and that is precisely what the Son receives, not one missing. Judged by the stipulated terms of their covenant, there was no injustice, but rather perfect justice. By the same token, there was no grace in the Father’s reward to the Son. It was a case of simple justice. The Son earned that reward. It was a covenant of works, and the obedience of the Son (passive and active) was meritorious.

    What was true in the covenant arrangement with the Second Adam will also have been true in the covenant with the First Adam, for the first was a type of the second (Rom. 5:14) precisely with respect to his role as a federal head in the divine government. Accordingly, the pre-Fall covenant was also a covenant of works, and there, too, Adam would have fully deserved the blessings promised in the covenant, had he obediently performed the duty stipulated in it. Great as the blessings were to which the good Lord committed himself, the granting of them would not have involved a gram of grace. Judged by the stipulated terms of the covenant, they would have been merited in simple justice.

  59. Andy Gilman said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Ha! Roger, I see now that you and I were mining the same article at the same time!

  60. Matt B. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    In post 31, RM said…“If I decide that when I say “car” I really mean “bicycle”, have I brought clarity to any discussion related thereto. If I decide that pencils will be called apples, will I be nourished if I send someone to the store for a dozen apples? Words mean things. If we change the meanings, then we obscure the underlying truth to our peril. So, one is not free to change the historically accepted definition of a word or phrase. If you don’t like the definition, find a new word.”

    Gabe’s point is a good one. According to RM’s logic, why should’nt James have avoided the word “works” (or “justified!”) and said things in a more PAULINE manner.

    Likewise, it would appear that RM example is flawed. FV folks, if I understand them, are attempting to say that there is this thing called “car.” Some, through many years of living, believing that only Ford, Chevy, Buick,and Dodge cars are “cars.” Toyota, Honda, and Mazda “cars” really are cars, even though they aren’t Fords, Chevys, and Buicks and, as such, aren’t accorded “car” status by the establishment. In saying this, no one is saying that you can’t distinguish a Toyota from a Ford, but they both meet the textbook (read: biblical) definition of the idea. To say a Toyota isn’t a car because it isn’t a Ford is foolish.

    Again, an excellent point, Gabe. St. James is utterly confusing if we say every term only gets a single meaning. Do critics of FV theology believe/teach that St. Paul believes every covenant child to be santified (“holy”) on the basis of 1Cor. 7:14? Why not?

  61. R. F. White said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    55 pduggie, you assert that ‘simple justice’ is a ‘new term in the debate’ that ‘overturns disproportionalit[y] and gift’? Please prove it.

  62. December 20, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    [...] thought the Federal Vision problem was and how the Reformed view differed. (There is also a brief review over at Green Bagginses.) Now, Pastor White wrote with brevity thankfully. I really don’t believe this conflict needs [...]

  63. Machaira said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Re: #60

    We can avoid blasphemous charges against the Father only if we recognize that God’s justice must be defined and judged in terms of what he stipulates in his covenants.

    Andy, that quote is a real gem. Thanks for posting it.

  64. kjsulli said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    pduggie, re: 44,

    Didn’t the prodigal son have the “right” to “demand” the inheritance? Wasn’t he a jerk for demanding it?

    Did he fulfill the obligations his father set upon him? (Whatever those might have been; he certainly didn’t fulfill the 5th commandment.) If there is any analogy between this parable and the Fall, it is that the prodigal son demanded the inheritance on his own terms, much as Adam seized the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

  65. Gabe Martini said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Why an Obedient Messiah?

  66. Roger Mann said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    60: Andy wrote:

    [Paul D.] Maybe you could help me understand this argument about “disproportionality” better.

    Good luck on that one Paul, for the “argument” it is based upon is about as weak as they come. Kline effectively destroyed this “disproportionality” nonsense as well:

    “Instructive for the concept of justice is the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16). In particular, it illustrates the point that in administering a work contract, the amount of the stipulated wages is irrelevant to the question of justice. Those who worked the full day challenge the owner of the vineyard when they discover that the same pay they received was given to others who labored fewer hours. But they were rebuffed by the reminder that their employer had dealt with them exactly as their work covenant prescribed. To honor the covenant commitment was justice. Similarly, the higher rate of pay received by the others did not transform that transaction into one of “grace.” It too was a payment of what was “right” (v. 4). It was simple justice, no more, nothing other than justice.” (Kline, Covenant Theology Under Attack)

  67. David R. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    With regard to the “disproportionality view,” there is also the following from Kingdom Prologue:

    “Another form of the attack on the Covenant of Works doctrine (and thus on the classic law-gospel contrast) asserts that even if it is allowed that Adam’s obedience would have earned something, the disproportion between the value of that act of service and the value of the proferred blessing forbids us to speak here of simple equity or justice. The contention is that Adam’s ontological status limited the value or weight of his acts. More specifically his act of obedience would not have eternal value or significance; it could not earn a reward of eternal, confirmed life. In the offer of eternal life, so we are told, we must therefore recognize an element of “grace” in the preredemptive covenant. But belying this assessment of the situation is the fact that if it were true that Adam’s act of obedience could not have eternal significance then neither could or did his actual act of disobedience have eternal significance. It did not deserve the punishment of everlasting death. Consistency would compel us to judge God guilty of imposing punishment beyond the demands of justice, pure and simple. God would have to be charged with injustice in inflicting the punishment of Hell, particularly when he exacted that punishment from his Son as the substitute for sinners. The Cross would be the ultimate act of divine injustice. That is the theologically disastrous outcome of blurring the works-grace contrast by appealing to a supposed disproportionality between work and reward.

    “The disproportionality view’s failure with respect to the doctrine of divine justice can be traced to its approach to the definition of justice. A proper approach will hold that God is just and his justice is expressed in all his acts; in particular, it is expressed in the covenant he institutes. The terms of the covenant – the stipulated reward for the stipulated service – are a revelation of that justice. As a revelation of God’s justice the terms of the covenant define justice. According to this definition, Adam’s obedience would have merited the reward of eternal life and not a gram of grace would have been involved.

    “Refusing to accept God’s covenant word as the definer of justice, the disproportionality view exalts above God’s word a standard of justice of its own making. Assigning ontological values to Adam’s obedience and God’s reward it finds that weighed on its judicial scales they are drastically out of balance. In effect that conclusion imputes an imperfection in justice to the Lord of the covenant. The attempt to hide this affront against the majesty of the Judge of all the earth by condescending to assess the relation of Adam’s act to God’s reward as one of congruent merit is no more successful than Adam’s attempt to manufacture a covering to conceal his nakedness. It succeeds only in exposing the roots of this opposition to Reformed theology in the theology of Rome” (Kline, Kingdom Prologue).

  68. Jeff Moss said,

    December 20, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Re: #68
    In the offer of eternal life, so we are told, we must therefore recognize an element of “grace” in the preredemptive covenant. But belying this assessment of the situation is the fact that if it were true that Adam’s act of obedience could not have eternal significance then neither could or did his actual act of disobedience have eternal significance. It did not deserve the punishment of everlasting death. Consistency would compel us to judge God guilty of imposing punishment beyond the demands of justice, pure and simple.

    I mean no disrespect to Dr. Kline, but it seems that he’s badly missing the point here. Had he never read Deuteronomy 30? (I am asking rhetorically, of course.) “Choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life.”

    Every step of obedience is a small advance along the path that the Lord sets before His people, a path that is filled with heaven-sent blessing and for which we may claim no credit whatsoever. This is fellowship with Yahweh, who is life. On the other hand, the first act of disobedience is a step out of the path, a departure from Him who is life itself. To say that death is a disproportionate punishment for a small act of disobedience to God is to talk like a fool. The disobedience is the death. Furthermore, it is eternal death, unless God graciously intervenes, because without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

    Or was God only speaking hyperbolically or figuratively when He said to Man, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”?

  69. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    67: I’ll say more later, but Kline citation of a parable about the GOSPEL to prove a point about a covenant of WORKS is about as weak exegetically as it comes.

  70. Jeff Moss said,

    December 20, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    It’s strange that those who regard themselves as the tenacious defenders of justification by faith alone, apart from works — are also the ones who are arguing that salvation is absolutely, 100%, a matter of human merit. Only, they say, it’s the merit that Adam could have earned under the Covenant of Works, and the merit that Jesus earned under the Covenant of Grace. The anti-FV side is apparently arguing that there is no place in heaven or on earth where the grace of God stands alone; works always have something to do with it.

  71. Wes White said,

    December 20, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Re: Merit & Simple Justice

    Lane Keister is convinced that Meredith Kline did not believe that Adam as such could not merit eternal life by strict or condign merit or, at least, is saying that he can. According to Lane, Kline believes that once God promised eternal life to Adam, then the just reward of Adam’s obedience is defined by covenant.

    Granted that Lane is correct, then what is the real issue here? Why can we not admit that Adam’s obedience, considered apart from the covenant, was not inherently worthy of eternal life? However, after God has promised eternal life to Adam’s obedience, then it is only just that God would reward that obedience with eternal life. Then, it would be a matter of simple justice for God to reward Adam with eternal life after he had continued in obedience for a time.

    I don’t see how anything would be lost in such a formulation and that much would be gained, and I do believe that this is the formulation of classic Reformed theology.

  72. David R. said,

    December 20, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Jeff (#71),

    It’s not so strange. We can be justified by faith alone only because our justification is grounded in the work of Christ alone (i.e., “100%”) as we see so clearly in WLC Q&A #71 for example:

    “Q. 71. How is justification an act of God’s free grace?
    A. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet in as much as God accepteth the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace.”

  73. Todd Bordow said,

    December 20, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    re: 69

    One should never attempt to do theology in public until one can distinguish between law and gospel.

    Todd Bordow

  74. Jeff Moss said,

    December 20, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Todd (#74),

    Were you referring to #69 (my comment on Kline) or to #70 (Paul Duggan talking about Gospel and Works)? If #69, could you elaborate? I don’t see how the distinction between law and gospel would invalidate anything that I wrote.

  75. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    omniubus reponse

    59: I think Kline’s imagined blasphemy about the disproportionality of Christ’s reward for the atonement is rather ludicrous and beyond the capacity of human beings to evaluate. The intertrinitarian covenant is already a fairly speculative construct (is it confessional?) and deriving what makes sense within it seems fairly divorced from textual considerations and seems to run in the realm of autonomous logical schemes.

    I’ll grant that the “reward” for Kline seems to be something other than simply “God himself” but rather ‘blessings’ or ‘eternal life’. In which case its somewhat plausible to state that since those are stipulated, the issue of disproportionality is sidelines. But our reward, we know from scripture, is full communion with God himself in a way that Adam in the garden didn’t possess. If Kline were to state that God himself may be “demanded” by the creature, Romans 9 has a bone to pick “may the thing formed say to him who formed it, why have you made me thus?”

    62: Simple justice as a new term. Well, when I look around in turretin and elsewhere I see the traditional merit schemes which state different conceptions of merit, some formed by proportional reward, some by disproportional. The MARS report stated that “proper merit” was NOT that which was had by pact. Pact merit was thus improper merit.

    Kline’s language of “simple justice” (simple merit?) isn’t brought up AFAIK, though I’m sure I’ve missed something. Kline and Baldwin are clear that they think disproportionality, which has CONFESSIONAL status (does it not?) should be shifted aside.

    I also think that saying “simple” justice really says we’re talking about strict justice. What is NOT a part of justice considered simply that is when we consider justice “strictly”? Is there a difference? Klines yous of simple seems to be saying “stop making the kinds of distinctions about ‘gracious’ covenants of works that the Reformed have been making for 400 years, because it’s messing us up” That may be valid, but it seems new to me. Can you point to ‘simple justice” used of the CoW to deny its gracious character in its formation?

    Also, I wonder if traditional literalist theologians worked with a “God creates, then enters into covenant” scheme, which emphasizes a way, “prior” to covenant that God would have related to man. But for Kline, creation IS covenant ( logical relation, not narrative ) and thus man is always already in covenant with God. If so, covenant is just the way it is.

    I am reminded of the controversy Steve Wilkins engendered by saying we just have to speak sometimes of the “undifferentiated grace of God” and not worry about dividing it into common/special/covenantal.

    65: That’s exactly what I find troubling about Klines scheme. It gives Adam “his own terms” on which to achieve the inheritance. But we know that’s what got Adam into trouble. “Wouldn’t God be being unjust to deny Adam the reward” is oddly like what the serpent tempts man with.

    67: as I said, I think that parable is misapplied. But also “Or are you envious because I am generous

    68: Kline is avoiding the kind of creator/creature distinction that I lined out above where the dispropotionality is in that the reward is God himself. If someone would like to blow apart my post #10 above I’m all ears.

    72: see what I said about Klines covenant a-temporeality. he doesn’t want to consider anything “prior” to the covenant. All justice is by covenant.

    Do you think such a formulation does justice (ha :-)) to the considerations I raised in post #10?

    Thanks for the sharpening iron questions.

  76. frmad said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    This post is very hot, it is high ranked at http://www.adminor.info (daily weblog, weblog post ranking site)

  77. R. F. White said,

    December 20, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    76: pduggie, thanks for taking the time to put together a thoughtful response. Contextually, I’m persuaded that Kline’s expression ‘simple justice’ was conceptually interchangeable with ‘covenantal’ justice.

    72: Wes, with pduggie’s several comments in mind, let me add this observation to the mix since you bring up the term ‘condign (vs congruent) merit': the distinction between strict and covenantal merit (and strict and covenantal justice) must not be confused with that between condign and congruent merit developed by medieval Roman Catholic scholastics. Condign merit was taken to be “full merit,” i.e., merit fully equal to the reward rendered, while congruent merit was taken to be “half-merit,” i.e., merit less than the reward rendered, the difference between reward and merit attributed to grace. (See Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, s.vv. meritum de condigno and meritum de congruo [pp. 191-92].) The whole congruent/condign merit distinction makes sense only within the larger scheme of infusionist justification. It is alien to the construct of imputationist justification that defines Reformation (and especially Reformed, covenantal) soteriology. Among other problems with the infusionist scheme, it saw merit as something “deserving of grace”—an oxymoronic phrase incompatible with the Biblical doctrine of grace as favor contrary to ill desert. In contrast, the distinction I’m pushing for here is between strict justice, which is possible between equal persons, and covenantal justice, which may be established—by the latter’s condescension to promise reward for particular behavior—between a dependent person and one on whom he depends, though the dependent person owed such behavior even in absence of the covenant. It is crucial for the understanding of the distinction between strict justice and covenantal justice to note that, in this context, said condescension is not grace, for, though condescension is favor, it is not favor contrary to ill desert, but favor in the absence of positive merit or desert (i.e., in the absence of the fulfillment of righteous requirements). Rather, the obligation provisionally embraced by the independent party is a matter of justice because, while by nature the dependent party has no claim on the independent, the independent party obligates himself by promise should the dependent party fulfill the covenanted condition. See Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 8.3.1-2.

  78. Roger Mann said,

    December 20, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    71: Jeff Moss wrote:

    It’s strange that those who regard themselves as the tenacious defenders of justification by faith alone, apart from works — are also the ones who are arguing that salvation is absolutely, 100%, a matter of human merit. Only, they say, it’s the merit that Adam could have earned under the Covenant of Works, and the merit that Jesus earned under the Covenant of Grace.

    What is “strange” (in the extreme!), is that someone who claims to be a Reformed Christian not only rejects such a construction, but adamantly fights against it!

    The anti-FV side is apparently arguing that there is no place in heaven or on earth where the grace of God stands alone; works always have something to do with it.

    That’s because Scripture plainly doesn’t teach that the grace of God “stands alone.” God is just and His justice undergirds all that He does. There is no such thing as grace apart from God’s justice! That’s why we had to be redeemed by a penal satisfaction:

    “…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26

    Moreover, the FV side doesn’t see a grace of God that “stands alone” either. They simply corrupt the gospel by mixing faith and works in the doctrine of justification and deceptively redefining it as “covenantal faithfulness” or some such rot!

  79. Roger Mann said,

    December 21, 2007 at 12:01 am

    78: R.F. White wrote:

    The distinction I’m pushing for here is between strict justice, which is possible between equal persons, and covenantal justice, which may be established—by the latter’s condescension to promise reward for particular behavior—between a dependent person and one on whom he depends, though the dependent person owed such behavior even in absence of the covenant.

    You are making too many clear, concise, logical distinctions — the FV boys will never be able to follow you!

    It is crucial for the understanding of the distinction between strict justice and covenantal justice to note that, in this context, said condescension is not grace, for, though condescension is favor, it is not favor contrary to ill desert, but favor in the absence of positive merit or desert (i.e., in the absence of the fulfillment of righteous requirements). Rather, the obligation provisionally embraced by the independent party is a matter of justice because, while by nature the dependent party has no claim on the independent, the independent party obligates himself by promise should the dependent party fulfill the covenanted condition.

    Amen! That’s why the Confession wisely used the word “condescension” rather than “grace” in this context. It’s too bad that many Reformed theologians weren’t as wise in this regard:

    “The distance between God and the creature 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 condescencion on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.” WCF 7.1

  80. Kyle said,

    December 21, 2007 at 12:25 am

    pduggie, re: 76,

    That’s exactly what I find troubling about Klines scheme. It gives Adam “his own terms” on which to achieve the inheritance. But we know that’s what got Adam into trouble. “Wouldn’t God be being unjust to deny Adam the reward” is oddly like what the serpent tempts man with.

    I don’t know specifically about the Kline scheme, to be honest, since I have read nothing by the man, other than the few quotes that have been displayed here. But the idea that God would be unjust to deny a reward He promised based on the fulfillment of obligations which God Himself set–how is this anything like the serpent’s temptation? The serpent essentially called God a liar and claimed that God was withholding, out of jealous, a good thing which the man and woman deserved to have. The truth of the matter is that God only ever intended good for them and that He had given them a covenant in which He promised a reward upon the fulfillment of the obligations. Obviously, the reward promised was completely disproportionate to the obligations set upon Adam. But had Adam fulfilled the obligations, do you believe God would have been just to deny Adam what God Himself had promised He would give? Do you think it would be just of God to throw His elect into hell, having promised them salvation through Jesus Christ? Is this consistent with the nature of the Judge of the world? No one that I have noticed here is suggesting that Adam was somehow inherently owed the promise of glorified life, or that his obedience would have been proportional to said reward. But it’s rather befuddling what you might think the alternative is.

  81. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 4:41 am

    Federal Vision is off-the-ranch in their Garden interpretation because they have to be. They have to muck up what happened in the Garden to have any chance to mold biblical doctrine their way at the point of regeneration and justification and so on. Federal Vision makes an Alice-in-Wonderland stand, of necessity, in the Garden. They know sophistry doesn’t really work here because their demands are so starkly non-existent in the Garden passages, so they take a deep breath, grin, and say…anything. Just say anything. They rely on their followers and potential recruits not being interested enough in the Word of God to ever check their work. Their vanity (emptiness, I could say worse but the chill is in the air) shows in stark relief when they are making statements about the Garden.

    When you die you don’t want to see the face of a Federal Visionist. It will be a mocking grinning face, and it will be saying: “You didn’t actually buy all that stuff did you? Ha ha!!”

  82. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 4:49 am

    Federal Vision follower writes:
    “It’s strange that those who regard themselves as the tenacious defenders of justification by faith alone, apart from works — are also the ones who are arguing that salvation is absolutely, 100%, a matter of human merit. Only, they say, it’s the merit that Adam could have earned under the Covenant of Works, and the merit that Jesus earned under the Covenant of Grace.”

    Apparently those Moscow home-schooling packets don’t include any Federal Theology 101 materials… How many times are we going to read such things from FVists (leaders as well), see that they don’t even have an understanding of what they so disdain, and continue to take them serious enough to attempt for the nth time to help them get a clue? Calvin use to say to these types: too childish to deserve the time for a response. And, no, not innocent childish…

  83. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 4:55 am

    Two classes making up Federal Vision:

    1. Those who know they are attacking the truth.

    2. Those who don’t know Federal Theology from the Book of Mormon, but they see their leaders attacking it so they adopt the same posture.

  84. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 5:41 am

    READ ALL THE WAY TO THE END, THIS CHRISTIAN PLEADS

    “It’s strange that those who regard themselves as the tenacious defenders of justification by faith alone, apart from works — are also the ones who are arguing that salvation is absolutely, 100%, a matter of human merit. Only, they say, it’s the merit that Adam could have earned under the Covenant of Works, and the merit that Jesus earned under the Covenant of Grace.”

    Pre-fall Adam had the ability to not sin, fallen man (that would include you who wrote the quote above) does not have the ability to not sin.

    Like it or not when you were born you were born ‘in Adam.’ Just as Keith Olbermann, whether it torques him off and has him reciting the word “Angry!” six hundred times a day or not, lives with President Bush as his political head of state. He can punch his fist into his apartment wall as many times as he wants, but it won’t change that fact. And his connection to Adam is even more binding.

    You’re in Adam, a child of wrath. Like it or not. You’re – to use a Tyndale (and biblical) metaphor – a poisonous snake, and ‘being good’ won’t get the poison out of you. You need a new birth and a new heart. The leopard can’t change his spots, and the poisonous snake can’t get the poison out of him, and it matters not that he may ‘be good’ and never strike with his fangs (though he will because it is his nature to strike), i.e. it matters not that his does good works. To God they are as filthy rags, why? because he has poison in him.

    This is your state, O fallen man (including you who live in Moscow)! You need a new heart, not good works! Only Jesus can give you a new heart! This ‘faith’ that seems so FOOLISH to you (“Isn’t it, ” fallen man says, “much more logical that we would get a new heart by acting good?”) is all about internal transformation by becoming ‘in Christ’ rather than in Adam. Going from being a poisonous snake to being a…like a garter snake! That little children can catch and annoy…and not have their arms fall off with venom. OK, the snake metaphor had its limits, like all metaphor…

    The point is, you have poison in you. That is your problem, O fallen Federal Vision man. Your problem is NOT that you don’t ‘act good.’ You can act good all day long, and you will still have fallen man – in Adam – poison in you. Original sin. Compounded with active sin the moment you emerged into the world, crying, ticked off at the doctor, showing ingratitude. Then stealing toys on the playground, from weaker toddlers.

    Part of not being a robotic creation is knowing the difference. God could have kept you in a state of pure innocence from the moment He created man, but would you want to hang out with robots for eternity? He wants you to know the difference. Between good and evil. And all the difficult, anti-intuitive biblical doctrine about predestination and new birth and the old man and the new man and faith – and the difference between self-will and God’s will – this is about God’s elect knowing the difference and coming alive, recovering the image of God, being able to act from God’s will, which is liberty for a being created in the image of God, and taking one’s place (big striking Gospel truths and promises here) as an heir of the living God of all creation and all that comes with that.

    When you have faith in Jesus as your Saviour, who did what Adam – your old king – failed to do, you are in effect mortifying the old man inside you. In God’s plan works save. (That shouldn’t be so confusing, works save, your own or Jesus Christ’s, and your own works are as filthy rags now because you are fallen, like it or not.) Human beings fight against this (against relying on Christ’s work). It feels like death and like slavery. This is what the devil wants you to feel and think. The devil and his kingdom give you the illusion of life and liberty, but in fact in the devil’s kingdom you are subject to darkness, bondage, and death. This is the state and condition of man who is ‘in Adam.’ And no amount of good works will change it. Because no amount of good works will get the poison out of you that is your fallen nature.

    You need a Saviour to do that. A Saviour who will satisfy God’s justice and send the Holy Spirit into you. That CAN get the poison out of you. You can’t, Jesus and the Holy Spirit can. And the Father accepts you then.

    But what did I do to get all this done? You didn’t do anything. Maybe you stopped being a knucklehead long enough to allow the Word of God to actually enter you unfiltered by your vain and prideful notions of what it ‘should’ mean…

  85. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 5:52 am

    It’s the hardest thing for a human being to do to get it through his thick skull that he is not, afterall, a ‘good guy.’

    Calvin began his Institutes with this very thought for a reason…

    “On the other hand, it is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself. For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also – He being the only standard by the application of which this conviction can be produced. For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself.” – Institutes 1.1.2, but all of Book 1, chp. 1 is on this foundational subject.

  86. Matt said,

    December 21, 2007 at 6:26 am

    Who is this “Robert K” fella? No website? No church affiliation? He clearly has too much time on his hands!

  87. David Gray said,

    December 21, 2007 at 6:35 am

    >When you die you don’t want to see the face of a Federal Visionist. It will be a mocking grinning face, and it will be saying: “You didn’t actually buy all that stuff did you? Ha ha!!”

    Is this really what Green Baggins wants to play host to?

  88. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:00 am

    Look what they ignore. Clearly they want to control the environment and make sure nobody is told the truth that fallen man has poison inside him/her and no amount of good works will make any difference…

  89. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:03 am

    Folks, read the FVists above. They clearly don’t have the slightest understanding of what Reformed Theology teaches (i.e. what the Bible teaches). So you tell them in in direct language and they respond with the usual call for banning. Let’s anger them some more. Come one, Calvinists, let’s give them some more of the Word of God…

  90. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:07 am

    And if you don’t know what regeneration is, look how I’m followed around by the usual suspect. He knows who his enemy is. He knows what Kingdom I belong to. He’d like to have the power of the sword to deal with me. The power of the state that the Beast tyranny that was Rome had. But they just can’t get the victory over God’s people, can they?

    Read comment #85 (that starts with READ ALL THE WAY TO THE END, THIS CHRISTIAN PLEADS). That is why they want me banned. That is God’s truth they don’t want their followers to hear.

  91. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:33 am

    Read comment #85 (that starts with READ ALL THE WAY TO THE END, THIS CHRISTIAN PLEADS).

    The other stuff, if the shoe fits, otherwise, let it roll off you like water off a duck’s back… Just don’t plead innocence that there’s no provocation. It’s the easiest thing in the world to play games with Bible believing Christians, especially those of us who accept what the Word of God says down to the parts few people want to accept. Muslims do it, atheists do it, secular academia does it, the media does it, false teachers do it. Everybody likes to mock and yank the chains of ‘TR’s, so to speak, which is fine, but then just don’t plead innocence and that your feelings are all hurt when you get a response that you don’t like. When you get a mirror held up to you, so to speak.

    Read comment #85, and let that speak for me. Again, there is a reason Calvin opened his Institutes with similar subject matter…

  92. David Gray said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:34 am

    >He knows what Kingdom I belong to.

    Actually I don’t but I try to be charitable. And I would prefer you conduct yourself like a Christian rather than having you banned.

  93. David Gray said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Robert Kagan, consider this. If you are wrong your behaviour is wrong as what you advocate is wrong. If you are right in some ways the way you are conducting yourself is worse as you would be bringing dishonour on the presentation of the truth rather than error. When you do the right thing you ought also do it in the right way. The kind of thinking that the ends justify the means belongs to Leninists, not Christians.

  94. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 8:05 am

    Try to see yourself, David. That is what a Christian does. Stop focusing on my sins. See in yourself what you dislike in others. It’s a way to get around the natural blindness we have of ourselves.

    On the subject of doctrine, what I write is apostolic biblical doctrine, and that is only a hall of mirrors to the currently unregenerate.

    Read comment #85. I didn’t make that up.

  95. David Gray said,

    December 21, 2007 at 8:11 am

    >Stop focusing on my sins. See in yourself what you dislike in others.

    I don’t think I have ever attributed to you a desire to mislead and destroy souls. It might be true but I certainly couldn’t know it to be so and so would be uncharitable to assert it.

  96. GLW Johnson said,

    December 21, 2007 at 8:14 am

    I want to commend Norman Shepherd for his straight foreward admission that the Westminster Standards are really not in harmony with his views. It would be refreshing if his disciples in the Federal Vision would follow suit. Shepherd, for example, readily acknowledges that the bi-covenantal structure of the WS , especially the centrality the divines placed on the Covenant of Works clearly leads to a pronounced emphasis on the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. No CoW, no IoAOC. Instead the first covenant is entirely a gracious covenant. But, as has been observed many times, there really is a bi-covenantal structure embedded in this view after all-because the end result is that a covenant of works now surfaces in the Gospel in terms of ‘covenantal faithfulness’ that now constitutes the condition for final justification. Why, just recently Doug Wilson in his overview of Piper’s critique of NT Wright, said that he was very sympathetic to Wright’s contention that ” justification is on the basis of the completed life lived”. Now Wilson is quick to add ” This is not the same thing as affirming justification by works, and is fully consistent with sola fide.” No it is not Doug, and your saying so does not make it so. Why even Trent affirmed that justification in their system was entirely of grace and gave ‘faith’ THE place of prominience-going so far as to declared that anyone who would seek to be justified by works deserves an anathema. Wilson, however,ends up following a very similar path as did Trent by appealling to Rom. 2: 5-7 ala’ Wright and confidently declares, ” This is consistent with ‘sola fide’ because we recieve everything God gives by faith from first to last. The righteousness of God is revealed ‘from’ faith ‘to’ faith (Rom. 1:17), and the just shall ‘live’ by faith (Rom. 1:17), not the ‘just shall make a good start by faith’. ” ( It should be noted that NONE of the Reformers or the Westminster divines interpreted Rom.2:5-7 the way that Wilson is suggesting).I want you to note what this amounts to in the final analysis. A distinctive covenant of works is now imported into the scheme of how one goes about securing one’s final justification. You can jump up and down and stomp your feet and howl at the top of your lungs ‘Sola Fide all the way Baby!” But is ceased to be what the Reformers and the Westminster divines mean by that when you introduced a conditional final justification that has any reference to ‘the totality of the life lead’. Please see Calvin’s indigant response to the 6th session where he again and again repudiates any notion that justification is in the slightest contingent on the life lived after one embraces the Gospel, declaring -” as if God after justifying us once freely IN A SINGLE MOMENT, left us to procure righteousness for ourselves by the observance of the law during the whole of life”( my emphasis). Clearly Calvin rejected outright the ‘covenantal nomism’ that the New Perspective on Paul advocates like NT Wright are proposing) and to his credit, Wright openly admits that he does not follow the Reformers in their understanding of justification), but as it turns out ,this is the path that Norman Shepherd and the FV is traveling as well.

  97. David Gray said,

    December 21, 2007 at 8:17 am

    Pastor Johnson,

    >Why, just recently Doug Wilson in his overview of Piper’s critique of NT Wright, said that he was very sympathetic to Wright’s contention that ” justification is on the basis of the completed life lived”.

    Was this on Pastor Wilson’s blog?

    I found your post interesting but would it be possible in the future to put a couple of returns in to produce a paragraph structure for readability? Just a thought…

  98. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 8:28 am

    The fact is, David:

    Justification by faith alone = life

    Justification by faith and works = death

    That may sound silly to the world, and it may sound like tomato vs. tomahto to liberal Christians, but to God’s elect who have been born again by the Word and the Spirit we know it represents the divide between the old and the new man, between eternal alienation on the one hand and eternal life on the other.

    And we know that in these times and countries that have benefited from the Reformation that its very easy to be naive as to the power of the devil and his kingdom to have tyranny over souls.

    No one can keep another person from thinking his works will save him, or have some part in saving him. You need the Spirit to see the death in that. But what God’s elect can do is make sure the truth is available to everybody to hear and sooner or later, by the grace of God, see and embrace and value.

    Doctrine is not just intellectual constructs, it represents actual internal change. Apostolic biblical doctrine is a catalyst and external shock to the internal tyranny of one’s Old Man (one’s vanity and worldly pride, and self-will) which is why when it is preached at the hardcore, unwatered-down, unnegotiated-down to the demands of man level it gets the reaction from the world that it does. And it gets the subtle attacks made on it which come under the category, as we’ve seen over and over from some of the post on this site, of nothing new under the sun.

  99. David Gray said,

    December 21, 2007 at 8:33 am

    OK, found it on his blog:

    *Sixth, “justification is on the basis of the complete life lived” (p. 22). Here, if I understand him, I am in sympathy with Wright. This is not the same thing as affirming justification by works, and is fully consistent with sola fide. Wright is here attempting to do justice to Romans 1 and 2. Remember, Paul says some remarkable things in the introduction of his great treatise on the subject.

    *”But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Rom. 2:5-7)

    *This is consistent with sola fide because we receive everything God gives by faith from first to last. The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith (Rom. 1:17), and the just shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17), not the “just shall make a good start by faith.” Nobody jump to conclusions here — there will be more on this later.

    Calvin says:

    *6. Who will render to every one, etc. As he had to do with blind saintlings, who thought that the wickedness of their hearts was well covered, provided it was spread over with some disguises, I know not what, of empty works, he pointed out the true character of the righteousness of works, even that which is of account before God; and he did this, lest they should feel confident that it was enough to pacify him, if they brought words and trifles, or leaves only. But there is not so much difficulty in this verse, as it is commonly thought. For the Lord, by visiting the wickedness of the reprobate with just vengeance, will recompense them with what they have deserved: and as he sanctifies those whom he has previously resolved to glorify, he will also crown their good works, but not on account of any merit: nor can this be proved from this verse; for though it declares what reward good works are to have, it does yet by no means show what they are worth, or what price is due to them. And it is an absurd inference, to deduce merit from reward.
    
    *7. To them indeed, who by perseverance, etc.; literally, patience; by which word something more is expressed. For it is perseverance, when one is not wearied in constantly doing good; but patience also is required in the saints, by which they may continue firm, though oppressed with various trials. For Satan suffers them not by a free course to come to the Lord; but he strives by numberless hinderances to impede them, and to turn them aside from the right way. And when he says, that the faithful, by continuing in good works, seek glory and honor, he does not mean that they aspire after any thing else but the favor of God, or that they strive to attain any thing higher, or more excellent: but they can not seek him, without striving, at the same time, for the blessedness of his kingdom, the description of which is contained in the paraphrase given in these words. The meaning then is, — that the Lord will give eternal life to those who, by attention to good works, strive to attain immortality.

    I think I have trouble squaring Wilson with Calvin on this. To be honest I have some trouble squaring Wilson’s first paragraph above with his last. Given the current inclinations of some modern evangelicals to antinomianism we should bear in mind that neither Paul nor Calvin was a friend to such.

  100. Todd Bordow said,

    December 21, 2007 at 9:54 am

    re: 75

    Jeff,

    That Deut passage you quoted was the Law, not the gospel. The Law was the ministry of death (II Cor 3), the gospel the ministry of life.

    Todd

  101. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Wes White wrote to Mark Horne (on Mark Horne’s blog):

    “As for Ursinus, I do believe that you are correct in your reading. He would not agree with my point since he denied the imputation of the active obedience of Christ.”

    This is another concession to a Federal Vision canard. This claim that Ursinus didn’t hold to the imputation of the active obedience of Christ is nuked by Ursinus’ own words in his Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, which was presented in one of the threads on this blog a month or two back to the collective silence of the FVists here.

  102. David Gray said,

    December 21, 2007 at 10:31 am

    >This claim that Ursinus didn’t hold to the imputation of the active obedience of Christ is nuked by Ursinus’ own words in his Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, which was presented in one of the threads on this blog a month or two back to the collective silence of the FVists here.

    So this is a criticism of Pastor White?

  103. greenbaggins said,

    December 21, 2007 at 11:02 am

    I have been struggling long and hard to understand Ursinus on this very point. Right now, I believe the evidence is ambiguous. Wes has some excellent points in his extremely careful article published just recently in the Confessional Presbyterian, volume 3, also available in an earlier form here:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/03/28/the-denial-of-the-active-obedience-of-christ-piscator-on-justification/

    There are some indications that might point in the direction of Ursinus’s advocacy of the IAOC. However, none of the evidence is rock-solid, as Wes himself can well explain (and has in quite some detail on the phone). Wes’s point is that the HC *does* affirm the IAOC, whether Ursinus did or not. Wes’s argument is that Ursinus came under the influence of Piscator *after* co-writing the HC. The evidence of Bernhardus De Moor is difficult to account for on the basis of assuming that Ursinus taught the IAOC.

  104. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 11:13 am

    I can’t find the original post and thread this came up on. I also recall R. Scott Clark making a comment on the Piscator influence re timeline, but I can’t remember the substance of it. But I do recall typing out the relevant passages of the Commentary and the subsequent silence from the FVists following.

    I.e. it’s a typical lawyering of a 16th century Reformed source. If you read the relevant passages in total they all support the obvious stance Ursinus had while writing them, but if you demand a modern Berkhofianly clear statement the defense lawyer and his guilty client will jump up and down saying it’s not there. It’s more game-playing with Reformed sources.

  105. greenbaggins said,

    December 21, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Robert, reread Wes’s article. I don’t think that Wes is guilty of “game-playing,” as you put it.

  106. Jeff Moss said,

    December 21, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Todd (#101/75/74/69),

    That Deut passage you quoted was the Law, not the gospel. The Law was the ministry of death (II Cor 3), the gospel the ministry of life.

    Please re-read my quotation from Deuteronomy 30:19-20,
    therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

    Now, how can this possibly be “the ministry of death,” not “the ministry of life”? “He is your life” IS the gospel!

    So my original point stands. Kline is wrong to think that if Adam’s act of disobedience earned him eternal death, his act of obedience must equally earn him eternal life by “simple justice.” The acts of obedience are a believing response to a gift of life, the life that is the Lord Himself. Any act of disobedience, on the other hand, is a rejection of both gift and Giver, and its unavoidable consequence is eternal death — i.e. the loss of life and of God who gave it.

  107. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    I was referring to the FVists’ penchant for source-lawyering to find what they want to find, especially in but not limited to 16th century Calvinists.

    I admit to being wary of any person, intellectual, scholar, on ‘my’ side of the divide who doesn’t realize that any concession to Federal Vision is taken by them **snip**. Like the ‘brothers in Christ’ tag on that report. They took that as meaning the report basically totally exonerated Federal Vision. This is why Calvin, methinks, threw in a ‘dog’ and ‘filthy swine’ here and there when discoursing on error…

  108. Roger Mann said,

    December 21, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    108: Robert K,

    This is why Calvin, methinks, threw in a ‘dog’ and ‘filthy swine’ here and there when discoursing on error…

    Be careful, now, Robert, or you’ll end up getting ole’ Calvin banned from this blog! :-)

  109. R. F. White said,

    December 21, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    107: Jeff,

    You ask, how can words such as those in Deut 30 be a ministry of death? One key reason is because they were spoken to those in slavery to sin. 2 Cor 3 with Gal 4.

  110. David Gray said,

    December 21, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    >Be careful, now, Robert, or you’ll end up getting ole’ Calvin banned from this blog!

    If FV advocates burn Robert Kagan or his associates at the stake then he should feel free to use such language.

  111. Joe Brancaleone said,

    December 21, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Re: #107,

    “Now, how can this possibly be “the ministry of death,” not “the ministry of life”? “He is your life” IS the gospel!”

    Slavery to sin occasions that which is meant to bring life to become a means of death:

    “… when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.” Rom. 7:9-11

    The commandment which promises life is NOT the gospel, it is the circumstance which highlights the need for the gospel.

  112. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 21, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Kline’s take on the structure of Covenantal history is complex and probably cannot be reduced to slogans. I’m not sure (having read two of his major works and several smaller papers) that I adequately understand it.

    Here’s my best shot:

    The covenant with Adam was a covenant of works in this sense: covenantal obedience (“don’t eat the fruit”) would result in Life, disobedience, Death.

    I should pause and note that no-one disagrees with this point, AFAICT.

    Anyways, this is what Kline means by “simple justice.” He has no interest in quibbling over the issue over whether this structure included an element of grace; that’s why he concedes as much to Murray’s position.

    But the line he wishes to draw — over against the theonomists, I might add — is that the first Adam’s required obedience would have been positively righteous in God’s sight.

    For Kline, this is important because the second Adam’s obedience was also positively righteous in God’s sight.

    AND WITHOUT THAT FACT, we cannot possibly participate in his righteousness, and we cannot therefore have for ourselves a gospel of grace.

    In other words, *someone* has to be the Righteous One. If not Jesus, argues Kline, then we have to supply the missing righteousness ourselves. And he sees in the theonomic system a backdoors attempt to do exactly that.

    Now when we move to the nation of Israel, things get more complex. For Kline, the covenant with Abraham was a part of the covenant of grace. Hence, salvation was always and continues to be, in Israel, by grace through faith.

    BUT

    The nation of Israel is created as a kind of type. It is that which points forward to the kingdom to come. And because of that, both the ceremonial laws and the civic laws function NOT as a means of salvation, but as a way of typifying the eschatological holiness that is to come. Thus, argues Kline, we have commands of God that would are nonsensical in other places and times. The Law functions as peculiar, special canon for the time and place of Israel and no other.

    For instance, God commands the Israelites to go into Canaan, kill the inhabitants, and take their stuff. Why? Certainly not as an example for us. Rather, in the eschatological typification, the Canaanites were receiving in the temporal realm the judgment due them for their idolatry (cf. Deut. 9.4-6).

    And so, Jeff M., I would imagine that Kline would read Deut. 30 as functioning NOT as individual life and death on the salvific plane (salvation is by grace, through faith), but rather as national life and death on the physical plane. Obey, live; disobey, die.

    Kline is wrong to think that if Adam’s act of disobedience earned him eternal death, his act of obedience must equally earn him eternal life by “simple justice.” The acts of obedience are a believing response to a gift of life, the life that is the Lord Himself.

    I think this point is orthogonal to Kline’s thought. “earning by simple justice” and “obeying as a believing response to a gift of life” are not incompatible statements, if both are understood in a certain way.

    His point was simply that (a) we must retain the bicovenantal structure (and not blur the line of the Fall) and (b) in order for us to have a salvation that is truly of Grace, it must be the case that Jesus completely satisfies the law for us.

    For if not, (and in particular, if we say that our further obedience functions as further justification), we end up with a “gospel” of works because we discount the full worth, or Merit, or justice, or whatever you want to call it, that was satisfied by Jesus on the cross.

    Gabe, I read your post on Kline; it doesn’t address the issues that Kline is tackling. If you look at the post from a while ago, Kline does not wish to argue that the CoW dismisses *any* notion of grace.

    Rather, Kline simply wants to contend that grace cannot be allowed to swallow up the important point that in *some sense*, Jesus earned our salvation so that we don’t have to.

    That’s all.

    Jeff Cagle

    P.S. I’m not a Kline scholar, so please someone correct me as needed.

  113. Roger Mann said,

    December 21, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    113: Jeff Cagle wrote:

    Kline does not wish to argue that the CoW dismisses *any* notion of grace.

    I’m not sure if that’s correct, Jeff. In his article, Covenant Theology Under Attack, Kline say’s things such as…

    Grace is of course the term we use for the principle operative in the gospel that was missing from the pre-Fall covenant. Properly defined, grace is not merely the bestowal of unmerited blessings but God’s blessing of man in spite of his demerits, in spite of his forfeiture of divine blessings. Clearly, we ought not apply this term grace to the pre-Fall situation, for neither the bestowal of blessings on Adam in the very process of creation nor the proposal to grant him additional blessings contemplated him as in a guilty state of demerit.”

    Not grace but simple justice was the governing principle in the pre-Fall covenant.”

    “By the same token there was no grace in the Father’s reward to the Son. It was a case of simple justice.”

    “Great as the blessings were to which the good Lord committed himself [in the pre-Fall covenant], the granting of them would not have involved a gram of grace. Judged by the stipulated terms of the covenant, they would have been merited by simple justice.”

    It sure seems like he “dismisses *any* notion of grace” in the CoW to me.

  114. Andy Gilman said,

    December 21, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Paul D. said:

    Kline and Baldwin are clear that they think disproportionality, which has CONFESSIONAL status (does it not?) should be shifted aside.

    No, it doesn’t have confessional status as you are attempting to apply it. When talking about fallen man’s ability to merit pardon for sin, by his best works, then clearly there is a “great disproportion…between them and the glory to come.” But that isn’t what Kline is talking about. If God is pleased to make a covenant with Adam, and to promise life to him and his posterity on the condition of perfect and personal obedience (WCF 7.2), then there is nothing disproportional about God keeping the terms of the covenant. Doesn’t the parable of the workers in the vineyard make that clear?

    Or how about the father who promises his child a new car in return for the child making the A honor roll in school? The fact that most fathers would see that as a “disproportional” exchange, does not mean that the child did not “merit” the new car when he made the A honor roll. Clearly the honor student’s father thought it was a fair exchange, and he has bound himself to the agreement. Along with the “disproportionality” argument, the FV argument against the covenant of works, on the basis of the fact that we are sons and not hirelings and wage earners, also falls flat.

  115. Gabe Martini said,

    December 21, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Yes, and Kline is wrong to think we *could* earn our salvation, at any point in time. Ever. By any means. And Dabney, the ol’ Southern Presby, agrees with me. Yay! :-)

  116. December 21, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Gabe,

    Are those also wrong who insist that Jesus could not “earn our salvation, at any point in time. Ever. By any means”?

  117. Wes White said,

    December 21, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Re 77 in response to 72 – yes. I think it is sufficient to meet your concerns. I would only add to what you said in # 10 that perfect and perpetual obedience must be part of the condition for obtaining life. Otherwise, we would have to conclude that Adam could have sinned and still not “fallen,” or that there was grace that would pardon sin in the original, Adamic covenant. Both are absurd. Consequently, it is not simply a matter of receiving the gift by faith. Faith was a part of it, since he had to believe God’s word and promise, but it also had to be accompanied by perfect obedience.

    Re: 78 – condign merit. Dr. White, I agree with all your conclusions. I would only add that the terms condign & congruent can be used in other contexts besides the discussion of the relation of the believer’s works to justification. It seems to me that that substantially what you are saying is that prelapsarian Adam could not merit eternal life ex condigno nor ex congruo, but he could merit it ex pacto. This is the exact distinction that Coccejus makes. You can see the citation in Heppe’s chapter on the covenant of works in Reformed Dogmatics, but you probably know all this already.

    Robert K – my standard of truth is not whether or not something agrees with FV or is helpful in that debate. We should measure truth by Scripture, reason, and evidence (each where applicable, not on the same level). On Ursinus, I’m not at my office right now, so I can’t provide the internal evidence that he denied the IAOC right now. Some of the external evidence is in my article in the CP. I think the internal evidence is at least ambiguous. At any rate, it’s somewhat inconsequential because both Piscator and Ursinus believed that Christ by his obedience (passiva or perhaps activa) obtained not only forgiveness of sins but also an inalienable right to life for all believers, which is something that is quite different than what the FV is saying, as I demonstrate in my article.

  118. Jeff Moss said,

    December 21, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    #114, quoting Kline:
    “Properly defined, grace is not merely the bestowal of unmerited blessings but God’s blessing of man in spite of his demerits, in spite of his forfeiture of divine blessings.”

    Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in grace [chariti] with God and men.” (See also verse 40.)

    What demerits did Jesus have to overcome that He became a recipient of God’s grace at all, let alone grace in increasing measure?

  119. December 21, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Jeff,

    Umm… ours, maybe?

  120. December 21, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    FV folks constantly make this mistake: They argue that Jesus enjoyed unbroken fellowship with the Father, and that therefore he did not need to earn anything from him.

    Yes, we get that. But was not his role as Mediator to earn those things for others? Like, say, us sinners who are pretty darn demerited?

  121. Jeff Moss said,

    December 21, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Jason,

    Look again at the context in Luke 2. Are you saying that the child Christ had sins that needed to be forgiven? (Our sins were imputed to Him as a child, and so He had already forfeited divine blessings and needed help? Is this what you’re saying?)

  122. December 21, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    No, Jeff.

    I’m saying that all the days of his life were spent earning the kingdom for those who have demerited it.

    “Grace” there is clearly used in a non-technical sense (i.e., a sense different from what kline is dealing with). I mean, if he “grew in grace with men” that doesn’t mean that his neighbors were freely bestowing divine heavenly blessings on him, right?

    All that verse means is that Jesus grew in favor with all people. It does nothing to undercut the Reformed doctrine that our covenant Representative obeyed the Father in our stead, and thereby purchased, “as a matter of simple justice,” forgiveness of sin and an inheritance in his kingdom.

    That’s why when we sin, God is “faithful and JUST” to forgive us. If he didn’t, he would be unfaithful to the promises made to his Son in the covenant of redemption, and unjust to us, from whom he would be demanding double payment for sins committed.

    This is just standard Reformed theology.

  123. December 21, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    OK, 25 minutes is an eternity in blogdom, and I’m still awaiting a response.

    Will a FV sympathizer please explain to me how, if it’s “all grace, all the time,” that John can say that God’s forgiveness of his people is a matter of justice?

  124. December 21, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    And on that score, how can Paul say that God’s justification of sinners demonstrates his justice, if he does not mean, by extension, that God would actually be unjust to fail to justify a sinner for whom Jesus died?

    This only makes sense if Jesus earned, bought, merited, and purchased the stipulated blessengs.

  125. im.steve said,

    December 21, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    Quite the review of Kline here: strict…simple…covenantal….Makes me think that his propositions are often what is at stake here.

  126. R. F. White said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    116: Gabe, Kline makes no claim that ‘we’ could earn our salvation, at any point in time. Ever. By any means.

  127. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    You all have to understand FVist use Kline as a strategy to put forth the notion that classical covenant theology is a recent novelty. They can attempt this only because it’s only been recently that Reformed Christians in a more general population sense have been getting understanding of classical covenant theology. Like a political candidate in an election year the FVists want to define their opponent before their opponent defines himself (their opponent is Classical Covenant – Federal – Theology).

    So when Kline writes something that to anyone up to speed on the subject knows is just simply classic covenant – federal – theology the FVists say: “Oh what novelty! What wild hermeneutic! Look at this, this modernist Kline and the Klineans are redefining Reformed Theology… Reformed theology never held to any supposed ‘covenant of works’… And the ones who did never defined it as a Covenant of Works. Klineans and their novel ideas and redefining of classical covenant theology (which is nothing more than old-fashioned, sound, Jordanian Federal Vision doctrine) are bad…”

    We’re still waiting for a similar FV campaign strategy on Geerhardus Vos.

  128. R. F. White said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    78: Wes, we agree: prelapsarian Adam could not merit eternal life ex condigno nor ex congruo, but he could merit it ex pacto.

    114: Roger, I agree with you: Kline does indeed reserve the term ‘grace’ for the postlapsarian situation, and there are good reasons for this limitation. First, it is not sound lexical semantics to load all the senses of the word “favor” into each of its occurrences. Second, it avoids definitional confusion in critical theological terminology.

    The term “favor” (Gk., charis) applies to at least three species of acts: acts contrary to demerit (grace = favor contrary to ill deserts), acts according to positive merit (merited favor; Luke 2), and acts despite the absence of positive merit (unmerited favor). The word ‘favor,’ then, has a wider range of meaning than does ‘grace': ‘favor’ is the genus of which ‘grace’ is a species.

    In the case of Adam before the fall, God condescended to show him favor despite the absence of positive merit. In other words, God’s favor toward unfallen Adam was unmerited, but it was not grace, i.e., favor despite demerit and ill desert. (Divine favor is always a gift, but divine favor is not always grace.)

    So, to rephrase, Adam did indeed begin in a context of unearned (i.e., unmerited) favor. Adam, however, was not intended to end in that state of innocence and unmerited favor. Rather he had an eschatology: he would have had his end in a context of earned (i.e., merited) favor, for Adam’s obedience to the command in Genesis 2 would have earned him something more than the life he received as a gift at creation. In light of 1 Cor 15:45-49, we have to say that Adam’s obedience would have enabled him to move from his first, natural, earthly, protological state to his second and last, spiritual, heavenly, eschatological state. I emphasize this point because there was a (level of) life for Adam to earn by his obedience and, in that sense, the covenant of works actually was about Adam earning life, albeit life of the eschatological sort, i.e., immortality.

  129. Gabe Martini said,

    December 21, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    In reply to Comment #124, which said:
    “Will a FV sympathizer please explain to me how, if it’s ‘all grace, all the time,’ that John can say that God’s forgiveness of his people is a matter of justice?”

    “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
    and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
    For the Lord is a God of justice;
    blessed are all those who wait for him.
    For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.”

    Isaiah 30:18-19

    False dichotomy, methinks? Mayhaps.

  130. December 21, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Gabe,

    I am not creating a “false dichotomy” between grace and justice. Rather, I am arguing (along with our confessional tradition) that it is precisely because our salvation is based on works for Christ that it can be based upon grace for us.

    The foundation of the foedus gratiae is the pactum salutis.

    “[Jesus'] obedience and satisfaction [being] accepted in their stead … their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners” (WCF xi.3).

  131. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    The Isaiah passage isn’t about salvation (typically it’s a bit post that, i.e. they’re already in the promised land), it is about the ongoing object lesson that was national Israe and in this casel showing all how God’s people should behave as God’s people. Like, they shouldn’t make alliances with Egypt rather than rely on God when threatened by Assyria. I.e. they shouldn’t make a deal with the devil to protect them from the devil because they fear the devil.

  132. Gabe Martini said,

    December 21, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    God is just because he’s gracious. That’s all I’m saying. There’s no need to bring works-righteousness into that. I’m in agreement with Dabney on this, along with many other Reformed fathers of the past. No, not every Reformed thinker. I’m okay with that. There’s diversity in Reformed theology. Always has been, always will be. The covenant of works was not always there. Fact.

    Peace,
    Gabe M

  133. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    >God is just because he’s gracious.

    This is putting God in the dock, to quote C. S. Lewis. I.e. you’re determining what is just based on your clay-ey demands and feelings. It’s also a nonsense of conflation.

    Liberal theological mush is not part of the Reformed tradition.

    And though Dabney is a favorite of FVists because of his otherwise uncharacteristic micro wobblinesses here and there Dabney would feed any FVist to alligators if he knew they were claiming him as a confederate…

  134. Jeff Moss said,

    December 21, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    R. F. White (#129) reveals an important distinction in theological terminology that often comes up between FV and non-FV writers.

    According to his definitions, Greek charis is translated by the English word “favor” and covers three categories of God’s kindness to men: “favor contrary to ill deserts,” “acts according to positive merit,” and “acts despite the absence of positive merit (unmerited favor).” He goes on to say that the English word “grace” only applies to the first meaning of charis.

    FV writers, on the other hand, probably see the essential distinction as lying elsewhere. In any case, they’re comfortable using the English word “grace” for both the first and the third categories above, and sometimes for the second as well.

    Where could one find a bindingly authoritative definition of a theological technical term in English if that term does not correspond to any one term in the Biblical languages? It’s unhelpful for FV and non-FV to argue over whether there was grace in the Covenant of Works if they’re working from two clearly different definitions of “grace”! It’s self-evident that Adam did not receive “favor contrary to ill deserts” before he fell (Kline’s “grace”), but can we agree that he received charis (favor that was not simply earned)?

    And it’s not clear to me that the standard versions of the Bible use “grace” as strictly as Kline uses it, either. When “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8), when it is said “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace (Heb. Hēn/LXX charis) is poured into thy lips” (Psalm 45:2), and when it is said of the child Christ that “the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40), do we have to believe that “grace” in all of these cases is focused on the overcoming of active demerit? Noah was a sinful man, yes, but he was also “a just man, perfect in his generations”; and the other two references speak of the Lord Jesus.

  135. Jeff Moss said,

    December 21, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Dabney would feed any FVist to alligators if he knew they were claiming him as a confederate…

    Dabney, a confederate? Never!!

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist :-). )

  136. December 21, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    “God is just because he is gracious”?

    No, God is just, period. The only way he could also be gracious to fallen sinners is if he imputed their sin to his Son, and the Son’s obedience and satisfaction to sinners.

    The FV’s version of grace is quite different: It’s a concoction of niceness plus the demand for covenant faithfulness that seems to differ little from facientibus quod en se est, Deus non denigat gratiam (God will not deny his grace to those who do what lies within them).

  137. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Dabney you know gave one of the greatest sermons of all time in the field with Stonewall Jackson on the subject of death. I forget the title, but I recall it rivalled Herman Melville in its literary impact. One of the well-known Reformed sites hosts it.

  138. Robert K. said,

    December 21, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    This is it (in case he gave more than one sermon on death).

  139. Gabe Martini said,

    December 21, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    The only way he could also be gracious to fallen sinners is if he imputed their sin to his Son, and the Son’s obedience and satisfaction to sinners.

    Mmmm… yeah. I believe that. Amen. Where’s the fuss?

  140. December 21, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    The “fuss” was originally with Mr. Moss, who seems confused about the issue (he doesn’t seem to see the need for Jesus’ meritorious work imputed to sinners by faith alone). If you believe this, I’ll echo your “Amen.”

  141. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 21, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    #114, 129:

    Thanks for the correction.

    Jeff Cagle

  142. December 22, 2007 at 1:20 am

    [...] Stellman is a nominalist. This is because Kline is. Piper is too. This is big. The position deals with God as if He were finite. It poses His attributes against one another and even argues for a time when they move from free to necessary. It is a denial of simplicity and perhaps immutability. Bad mojo with deep implications. Count me out. [...]

  143. GLW Johnson said,

    December 22, 2007 at 8:00 am

    Second year seminary students should be seen and not heard.

  144. David Gray said,

    December 22, 2007 at 8:35 am

    >Second year seminary students should be seen and not heard.

    Perhaps they should simply kiss the presbyter’s ring…

  145. GLW Johnson said,

    December 22, 2007 at 8:43 am

    I am going to submit all future comments for editoral review to ‘Mark T.’ He did a really nice job of making my extended comment (# 97) much improved. However , I am somewhat worried that my association with ‘Mark T.’ might render me ‘persona non grata’ at the next Trinity Fest.

  146. its.reed said,

    December 22, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Ref. #143-145:

    David (Gary, Stephen), Gary’s retort may be a little sharp, but Stephen’s quip remarks do seem over the top for someone ostensibly still developing his theology.

    At the very least his words do not show the kind of Christlike humility which is by far the greater need than theological acumen in one hoping to enter ordained ministry (I am assuming that is Stephen’s reason for being in seminary).

    Even if his goal is not ordained ministry, Stephen’s clipped criticism of three men, all with records more substantial than his, inclines me to pray more that he learn humility and grace, than I worry that Gary is promoting a papal presbyterianism. :)

    Stephen, substantive criticisms are wounds of a friend used by Christ to bless one another. Your remarks here do not rise to that biblical standard. As one who has spoken out of turn often and knows the need of reformation regularly, let me encourage you that Christ cares for such failings as these, as well as our bigger ones.

  147. David Gray said,

    December 22, 2007 at 9:44 am

    >Even if his goal is not ordained ministry, Stephen’s clipped criticism of three men, all with records more substantial than his, inclines me to pray more that he learn humility and grace, than I worry that Gary is promoting a papal presbyterianism.

    Well I must confess that while sometimes we seem to see a magisterium of sorts asserted I’m not really overworried about papal presbyterianism. However there are people who are genuinely rude and whose education would appear inferior to Stephen’s who post here continually about men whose records are more “substantial” than there own without such comment coming down on their heads.

  148. GLW Johnson said,

    December 22, 2007 at 9:48 am

    David Gray
    I really do not see how you can really contribute to advancing the cause of the FV by these kind of insinuations against Wilson’s lack of formal theological education.

  149. David Gray said,

    December 22, 2007 at 10:16 am

    >I really do not see how you can really contribute to advancing the cause of the FV by these kind of insinuations against Wilson’s lack of formal theological education.

    Pastor Johnson

    You’re the one who’s endorsed posts of Robert Kagan on occasion. If you really think Stephen has a greater problem than him…

  150. Scott said,

    December 22, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Hello, I’m not a regular reader here, but I came via the link on Steven’s blog. I was wondering if Jason would interact with Steven’s critique that he is contradicting the teaching of divine simplicity.

  151. GLW Johnson said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:14 am

    David Gray
    Oh, can you please point out when I did that? I have said that Robert K occasionally strike a harmonious note, but I don’t remember giving him a particular slap on the back for any one comment.

  152. David Gray said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:17 am

    >I have said that Robert K occasionally strike a harmonious note, but I don’t remember giving him a particular slap on the back for any one comment.

    That’s what I had in mind. You really think he’s as or more courteous than Stephen?

  153. GLW Johnson said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Oh, yes. Most definitely. No doubt about it. It’s a slam-dunk.

  154. David Gray said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:48 am

    >Oh, yes. Most definitely. No doubt about it. It’s a slam-dunk.

    Pastor Johnson,

    You appear to exist in an alternate universe.

    BTW when did Stephen last attribute to those with whom he differed that they desire the destruction of souls and intentional seek to mislead? Or that they wish to shed the blood of the saints and are only restrained by their society?

  155. GLW Johnson said,

    December 22, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    David Gray
    You are further confirmation of what I have long suspected – most of the people sympathetic to the FV you have no sense of humor.

  156. December 22, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    #143,

    I don’t see that in their comments. Care to flesh out and put some meat on your point? Have you read Pastor Stellman’s blog or other writings? Or do you think that you can discern what he believes about God’s attributes from a handful of comments on a specific and limited topic?

    David Gray,

    Do you really think it appropriate for a seminary student to make unsupported assertions about an ordained elder? Others here go to great lengths to quote the writings of those with whom we disagree. Are seminary students exempt from such care?

    Mr. Wedgeworth either owes these ordained elders an apology or he must back up his assertion with actual analysis based on their writings.

  157. David Gray said,

    December 22, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    >You are further confirmation of what I have long suspected – most of the people sympathetic to the FV you have no sense of humor.

    Actually it should confirm to you what most everyone knows; humour doesn’t travel well in this format without emoticons.

  158. David Gray said,

    December 22, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    >Do you really think it appropriate for a seminary student to make unsupported assertions about an ordained elder? Others here go to great lengths to quote the writings of those with whom we disagree. Are seminary students exempt from such care?

    Brother Mattes, there are much worse offenders than Stephen around these parts. When those fellows are brought to heel then he’ll be a more apt topic for discussion. I will say that I think ordained elders ought always, as best as possible, be treated with due courtesy and respect. This is, of course, made easier when they also treat others with such courtesy. Could you tell me which statement he made which you are thinking of specifically? And presumably you draw some limits as to which ordained elders you are thinking of. PCA obviously. OPC. Presumably not TEC. Although courtesy is always a good first policy to pursue regardless.

  159. R. F. White said,

    December 22, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    135 Jeff,

    If you re-read my post (129) again, you will see that I agree with you: unfallen Adam received God’s favor despite the absence of positive merit and that that favor was unmerited.

    As for what ‘the standard’ Bible ‘versions’ do with the term ‘grace’ when compared with Kline, there are three mistakes in your assertion.

    First, Kline makes no claim that ‘grace’ in ‘all of these cases’ (or other cases) is focused on the overcoming of active demerit. See his Kingdom Prologue, especially his treatment of Noah, Abraham, and David.

    Second, standard Bible ‘versions’ other than the N/KJV do not follow the N/KJV, which you cite, on Gen 6:8: hen/charis are translated ‘favor.’ On Ps 45:2 and Lk 2:40, the versions do not agree on the best translation, and with good reason. So we are back to having to construct a dictionary entry for the terms under consideration, seeking first to establish their range of meaning and second their meaning in a particular text.

    Third, your reminder that Ps 45:2 and Lk 2:40 refer to the Lord Jesus makes the point for which I’m pressing in my post. In Lk 2:40, we agree that it is not favor despite ill deserts: Jesus did not find favor in the eyes of God contrary to ill deserts. So what is the charis of God toward Jesus in Lk 2:40? Did Jesus find favor in the eyes of God according to positive merit, or despite the absence of positive merit? In Ps 45:2, what is the hen/charis on the lips of Jesus?

  160. Robert K. said,

    December 22, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Pretty hard for young people, second year seminary students or not, to have had the time and experience to have had the boot kick in their teeth that one needs to begin to see your own nothingness which is necessary to be able to see and then value the truth. Until then you don’t want to give up your ‘worldly goods’ and follow Jesus. Worldly goods like your vanity, worldly pride, and Old Man-in-control self-will.

  161. Jeff Moss said,

    December 22, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Dr. White (#160),

    Thank you for the detailed response. In turn, I realize that I am in substantial agreement with the points that you’re making here.

    unfallen Adam received God’s favor despite the absence of positive merit and that that favor was unmerited.

    Certainly. Do you also hold that, if Adam had continued in obedience and had received further favor from the Lord, that favor would have been unearned, i.e. not a “wage” in the Romans 4:4 sense?

    My point about “grace” in Kline meaning “favor despite demerit” had to do with this quote cited in #114 on this thread: “Properly defined, grace is not merely the bestowal of unmerited blessings but God’s blessing of man in spite of his demerits, in spite of his forfeiture of divine blessings. Clearly, we ought not apply this term grace to the pre-Fall situation.” However, I have read little of Kline, and I understand that he may use “grace” with different sense at different points in his writings.

    The fact that twentieth-century versions of the Bible have moved away from “grace” as a translation of Hēn/charis in Genesis 6:8 and other passages (19:19; 32:5; 33:8; etc.) may actually mean that this word’s meaning in English is changing, becoming narrower. This is just another reminder that theologians need to clearly define their terms. (I am not criticizing you — I agree in essence with your comment here — I’m simply noting this problem.)

    We agree that God’s charis to Jesus in Luke 2:40, 52 and Psalm 45:2 is not a matter of favor despite demerit. You ask, Did Jesus find favor in the eyes of God according to positive merit, or despite the absence of positive merit? Of course I agree that Jesus had positive merit before God. However, what I want to know goes beyond this: Do you believe, and are Reformed Christians required to believe, that Jesus earned the Father’s approval as a workman earns a wage (again cf. Romans 4:4), such that “favor” in any of its normal English senses was not a necessary part of the Father’s reward to Him?

  162. December 22, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    David Gray, RE #159,

    Could you tell me which statement he made which you are thinking of specifically?

    How about:

    Stellman is a nominalist. This is because Kline is. Piper is too.

    I would like to see the young man back his statement up from their writings. I’m not a Kline expert, but I have read a good bit of Pastors Stellman and Piper and find no such evidence. Perhaps I’ve missed it, but I doubt it.

    If the statement is not defended here relatively soon, I will delete the comment.

  163. December 22, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Wow, apparently I’m a nominalist now. Who knew? Looks like I’m keeping decent company, at least.

    As far as my alleged denial of divine simplicity (due to my assertion that God could not have justly justified us were it not for his covenant of works with his Son), I would follow Bavinck and others in seeing God’s salvific grace/mercy as subsets of his goodness. The latter is an attribute, the former are only subsets of that attribute.

    The reason this is important is that if (saving) mercy is an attribute, then God MUST exercise it in order to be God. But the very definition of mercy is that it is undeserved and even surprising (unlike, say, justice, which is expected).

    But if God must show mercy in saving the fallen in order to be God, then what was he doing to retain his Godhood before creation and the fall (besides, per Calvin, creating hell for curious people)?

    My point (now I’m rambling) is that to say that God could not have been gracious to us without first requiring Christ to earn him the right to do so is not a denial of divine simplicity, at least not when you place “grace” as a subset of his attribute of “goodness.”

    Otherwise, the fall was needed for God to be God. “Let us do evil that good may come,” and all that….

  164. Robert K. said,

    December 22, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    Alot of these young’ns just don’t understand what Reformed Theology is. When you hear the Covenant of Works sneeringly dismissed as “works righteousness” it kind of gives away what you are dealing with.

    But that is merely ignorance.

    What we see in the leaders of Federal Vision is conscious false teaching. They muddle these young minds then sit back and grin as they state the things we see above.

  165. December 22, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    BTW, how do you guys get the cool icon to display next to your screen names?

  166. David Gray said,

    December 22, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    >I would like to see the young man back his statement up from their writings.

    Fair enough. What are you doing about tripe like #165 if you are worried about Stephen?

  167. Robert K. said,

    December 22, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    I suggest you put in an application for being a moderator here, David Gray. Then wait for a response.

  168. December 22, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Fair enough. What are you doing about tripe like #165 if you are worried about Stephen?

    #165’s author is not in training to be a minister of the gospel under the oversight and discipline of the church. Different standard applies.

  169. David Gray said,

    December 22, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    >Different standard applies.

    So you are comfortable hosting comments like:

    >What we see in the leaders of Federal Vision is conscious false teaching. They muddle these young minds then sit back and grin as they state the things we see above.

  170. Robert K. said,

    December 22, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    David Gray, really, I’m not usually one to cite rules, but aren’t one of the rules not complaining about comments?

    Anyway, by your standards Calvin would be dismissed as a troll.

    And beyond all that: you obviously come from an environment where the fear of man is enforced. I fear only God. Just accept that we’re different and move on.

  171. David Gray said,

    December 22, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    >And beyond all that: you obviously come from an environment where the fear of man is enforced. I fear only God. Just accept that we’re different and move on.

    That is a foolish thing to say.

  172. Robert K. said,

    December 22, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    OK.

    This thread is about orthodox Reformed view of covenants. Has everybody read Geerhardus Vos’ Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology? It starts off with some historical theology then gets into some deep insights re covenant theology in general. Overall a must read if even just to see that what FVists are claiming is novel is just classical covenant – federal – theology. I recommend it especially to those here who are maybe not as up to speed on covenant theology and have for whatever reason thrown their allegiance to the FVist doctrinal camp.

  173. pduggie said,

    December 22, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    “admit to being wary of any person, intellectual, scholar, on ‘my’ side of the divide who doesn’t realize that any concession to Federal Vision is taken by them as sexual consummation in the marriage bed.”

    That’s disgusting, Robert

  174. pduggie said,

    December 22, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    115:

    I don’t think that the confession only sees disporportion as a result of sin

    ” the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit”

    and
    “but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants:”

    apply to Adam too.

    I wonder, would Adam’s works have proceeded from the Spirit?

    And I still claim its a misuse of the parable of the servants, which describes receipt of clear disproportionate grace not reward for “works”. Its a gospel parable.

    And the parable of the servants teaches us not to grumble about the Generosity of a God who gives Disproportionate benefits.

  175. Robert K. said,

    December 22, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    I won’t be provoked.

  176. R. F. White said,

    December 22, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Formatting repaired in comment #179 below. All text preserved.

  177. R. F. White said,

    December 22, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Seems some stray lines got added to my last post in 177. The second paragraph, which is introduced with the words, ‘You ask, should read simply as follows:

    You ask, >‘Do you also hold that, if Adam had continued in obedience and had received further favor from the Lord, that favor would have been unearned, i.e. not a “wage” in the Romans 4:4 sense?’<

  178. R. F. White said,

    December 22, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Mr. Moderator, please help with the mess created in 177. On the assumption that it can be fixed, I beg the indulgence of others. Post 177 should have appeared as follows. Thanks.

    162 Jeff Moss,

    You ask, ‘Do you also hold that, if Adam had continued in obedience and had received further favor from the Lord, that favor would have been unearned, i.e. not a “wage” in the Romans 4:4 sense?’

    My answer is, if Adam had continued in and had received further favor from the Lord, that further favor would have been earned as a reward for faithful service rendered according to the covenantal probation under which the Lord placed him. Adam was both a son and a servant of the Lord his God.

    You state, ‘this word’s [grace’s] meaning in English is changing, becoming narrower. This is just another reminder that theologians need to clearly define their terms.’

    Yes, I agree. In the context of the theological discussions on this blog, ‘favor’ and ‘grace’ are not necessarily interchangeable. Definitions can be tedious to deal with, but communication that aims at real agreement requires that we do that work.

    You ask, ‘what I want to know goes beyond this: Do you believe, and are Reformed Christians required to believe, that Jesus earned the Father’s approval as a workman earns a wage (again cf. Romans 4:4), such that “favor” in any of its normal English senses was not a necessary part of the Father’s reward to Him?’

    As I’m reading your question, I see three parts to answer. Part one, do I believe … ‘that Jesus earned the Father’s approval as a workman earns a wage (again cf. Romans 4:4)?’

    If you will grant that servant is interchangeable with workman here, my answer is yes, I believe Jesus earned the Father’s approval as a servant/workman earns a reward/wage/what is due. Particularly in His state of humiliation, Jesus and His Father were related not only as God with God but also as God with man, as lord with servant, and as father with minor. By submitting to humiliation to fulfill His role in redemption, then, Jesus merited/earned His Father’s approval, and He was thus due the reward of exaltation from His Father. In other words, for His humiliation, and indeed for His submission to the will of His God and Father, Jesus found favor in the eyes of His God and Father and was rewarded with exaltation after humiliation. Passages like Phil 2:9-11; Gal 4:1-5; Rom 1:4 point me to these conclusions.

    Part two of your question, do I believe … ‘that “favor” in any of its normal English senses was not a necessary part of the Father’s reward to Him?’

    Please bear with me; I don’t mean to be cute: I’m not certain what you count as ‘any of the normal English senses’ of ‘favor.’ I would say, however, that favor in the sense of favorable treatment according to Jesus’ positive merits was a necessary part of the Father’s reward to Him.

    Part three of your question, ‘are Reformed Christians required to believe [these things]?’

    Beyond the caveat that it doesn’t matter what any one individual, be he I or someone else, thinks is required of Reformed Christians, it is my understanding that the consensus of Reformed thought has confessed essentially the things I have expressed above. I am not a professional historical theologian, so I am open to correction.

  179. Jeff Moss said,

    December 22, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Jason (#166),

    How to get the icon (“avatar”) next to your name:
    Go to http://wordpress.com/. Click on “Sign Up” and create a WordPress account, and include a photo or graphic when you set it up. After that, just make sure you’re logged in to WordPress whenever you comment.

    -Jeff

  180. December 22, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    [...] Orthodox Reformed View of Covenants Posted by Bob Mattes Pastor Wes White has published an excellent essay in Merit & The Covenant of Works. Please […] [...]

  181. Jeff Moss said,

    December 22, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Dr. White (#179), thank you for the interaction.

    I take it that we both believe that the divine favor Adam received in the Garden of Eden, before he disobeyed, was not a reward for merit ex condigno (intrinsic merit), but was at least in part a response to merit ex pacto (according to the covenant).

    At the same time, I see some value in the FV choice to minimize usage of the term “merit,” given the fact that it lends itself easily to misunderstanding — for some it seems to imply a kind of autonomous righteousness that can make demands upon God.

    By submitting to humiliation to fulfill His role in redemption, then, Jesus merited/earned His Father’s approval, and He was thus due the reward of exaltation from His Father. In other words, for His humiliation, and indeed for His submission to the will of His God and Father, Jesus found favor in the eyes of His God and Father and was rewarded with exaltation after humiliation. Passages like Phil 2:9-11; Gal 4:1-5; Rom 1:4 point me to these conclusions.

    I now recognize more fully the need to tread carefully when dealing with such things. The relationship between the Lord and His Father, even while Christ was in His state of humiliation, is a great mystery of which we can truly understand only the least part.

    As I see it, we all need to hold two truths simultaneously with regard to the merits of our Savior:

    1) That the Lord Jesus Christ, by the greatness of His eternally divine Person together with the glories of His incarnation, fulfillment of the Law, death, and resurrection, is worthy to receive from His Father all the highest honor in heaven and on earth — including the souls of those whom His Father gave Him before the foundation of the world. To the Scriptures you cited, I would add Hebrews 9:15; Revelation 5:9-10; etc. (Note, however, that in both your formulation and mine, Christ’s eternal character and His passive obedience overshadow the importance of His active obedience. When the Scriptures speak of Him earning anything, the emphasis is on the former, although the latter is a necessary condition.)

    2) That like every other man empowered by the Spirit of God to do the Father’s will, Jesus Christ returns deserved thanks and praise to His Father for the favors that the Father grants Him. Psalm 22:22-25; 40:6-17; Hebrews 2:8-13; 5:5-8; cf. Psalm 2:7-8; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. (Christ does not demand His inheritance from His Father as something owed to Him, like the son in the parable. Though He be infinitely deserving, still everything is a gift, from Father to Son by the Spirit [see Matt. 3:16-17] and from Son to Father through the Spirit [see Heb. 9:14].)

  182. December 22, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Dr. White, RE #179,

    It appears that all the text from #177 appears in #179 with the format corrected, so I deleted the text from #177 and pointed the reader to #179. I saved the deleted text offline in case you need it. Let me know so I can delete the backup.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  183. R. F. White said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    183 Bob, thanks for the repairs!

    182 Jeff Moss, I think our effort to keep ‘talking’ was worth it. I agree with you that we should emphasize His person and his work, active and passive, as a given context may demand. Also, as you point out, Jesus was not as the son in the parable. All that the Father gives Jesus is given as a gift, that is, as something bestowed voluntarily and without compulsion, while still keeping covenant.

  184. Jeff Moss said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Dr. White, thanks, and I agree.

    All that the Father gives Jesus is given as a gift, that is, as something bestowed voluntarily and without compulsion, while still keeping covenant.

    I believe that this is the precise point that the FV is most anxious to uphold in connection with the “merits of Christ.”

  185. David Gray said,

    December 23, 2007 at 5:17 am

    I would note Stephen has given a more detailed statement. I would also note that you apparently are comfortable with the sort of statements that are being made here. That does not strike me as being an appropriate position to find yourself in.

  186. December 23, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    David Gray, RE #186,

    To whom is the referenced post addressed? How does it contribute to the discussion topic of the relationship between the covenants of works and grace?


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