Justifying Faith distiguished from Temporary Faith (part 1)

It is a reasonable question, especially of those engaging in theological novelty and innovation:

“So, I ask the question again: what benefits do reprobates members of the visible church receive, and what do they lose when they apostatize, and how are these benefits the same and different from those received by the elect?”

The FV proposes that the reprobate Church member (RCM) possess a real experience of Christ and his salvific benefits. To be fair, they propose:

  • An experience of Christ and his benefits that is real, originating in the work of the Spirit, and
  • An experience of Christ and his benefits that parallels those benefits experienced by elect Church members (ECM), but
  • An experience of Christ and his benefits that is not the same as that experienced by ECM, in that,
  • The experience of the RCM is temporary, whereas the experience of the ECM is permanent.

Admittedly there are additional differences noted by different FV advocates (the spectrum seems to run from Wilson on the moderate end, to Wilkins in the middle, to Jordon on the extreme end). Yet this summary is the minimal that can be summarized with a reasonable expectation that no cries of “foul” will be heard from the FV.

This summary is not sufficient to relieve those of us opposed to the FV of our case of the willies. It could be that we “anti’s” are misunderstanding, overreacting, maybe even deliberately misrepresenting the positions of FV advocates. Or it could be that FV advocates are less than clear. My efforts at listening to the FV lead me to conclude that the problem is a matter of equivocation. FV advocates continually use the same words to mean different things – without distinguishing or (apparently) even recognizing the problem.

Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, we can move past this dilemma by putting effort into answering the question asked at the beginning of this post. A place to start is with reference to the differences between Justifying Faith (JF) and Temporary Faith (TF).

Turretin offers a substantial explanation of the differences between JF and TF (15th Topic, 15th Question, pgs. 587-593, Vol. 2, Elentics, P&R, 1994). In this post I want to summarize Turretin’s key conclusion. The following two posts will offer a summary of Turretin’s arguments.

Turretin was writing in opposition to the Remonstrants. The Remonstrants affirmed a TF that was the same as JF except in one quality only, that of duration. According to the Remonstrants, the key difference between JF and TF is that JF includes the grace of perseverance and TF does not. I am not trying to be provocative when I observe that this is the same description offered by the FV.

If you’re familiar with Turretin’s format, you know that he introduces each subject by asking a question and then giving an answer that summarizes his conclusion. Here is Turretin’s introduction to this subject: “Does temporary faith differ only in degree and duration, or also in kind from justifying faith? The former we deny; the latter we affirm against the Remonstrants.”

To be clear, Turretin says that the Bible teaches that the JF and TF are not the same at all.  The differences between TF and JF are not like the differences between dogs and cats. These differences are more like the differences between a counterfeit $100 bill and a real one. They have some things in common (both are printed on paper, and are used to purchase things). Yet, to use Turretin’s terminology, these are not two different types of the same kind; they are two different kinds altogether. The differences between JF and TF are as dramatic as well.

Posted by Reed DePace

About these ads

249 Comments

  1. Curate said,

    January 5, 2008 at 2:07 am

    It is a reasonable question, especially of those engaging in theological novelty and innovation

    Your opening remark evokes a friendly arched eyebrow brother. To hear this coming from men who have abandoned Reformed sacramentology for a half-baked Anabaptist version that the Baptists themselves reject is humorous indeed. Although, it is true that your own views have matured considerably in that area recently.

    Then there is the title, which implies the existence of a faith that does not justify. Perhaps you could enlighten us on this novel idea whereby a man may have faith in Christ, albeit deficient in many ways, but is not justified. Doesn’t your view insist that such a man does not have faith at all? In which case it isn’t truly called temporary faith, but hypocrisy.

    One of your camp’s weaknesses is in the area of historical theology. Most of you begin with the unchecked and undemonstrated assumption that yours is the historical Reformed faith, and proceed with your anathemas and condemnations from there.

    The reality is that in most areas of controversy the FV is abandoning the novelties of recent centuries. The only truly novel doctrine and practice of the FV is paedocommunion.

  2. GLW Johnson said,

    January 5, 2008 at 9:19 am

    The refrain that our learned brother curate makes -you guys are simply historically in the dark- was made repeatedly by Norman Shepherd in reference to the church history dept. at WTS which included Robert Godfrey, Philip Hughes and Standford Reid during the Shepherd controversyin the late 70’s and early 80’s. In fact ,everyone who disagreed with Shepherd’s claim to have recovered the ‘real’ Reformed position was lumped in with these men in the catagory labelled ‘the ignorant’. As I remember from one of curate’s previous comments, he threw this same epithet at none other than BB Warfield for his book ‘The Plan of Salvation’ ( the same book that Doug Wilson likewised accused BBW of falling into ‘refried gnosticism’). Candidly whese kind of blanket observations tell me much more about the theological and historical dearth of the people who make them than it does anything else.

  3. Roger Mann said,

    January 5, 2008 at 10:07 am

    According to the Remonstrants, the key difference between JF and TF is that JF includes the grace of perseverance and TF does not. I am not trying to be provocative when I observe that this is the same description offered by the FV.

    Yes, but even the Remonstrants didn’t teach that saving faith = covenantal faithfulness = works of obedience, as the FV heretics have brazenly done!

  4. Gabe Martini said,

    January 5, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Brothers, let’s tone down the rhetoric and insults just a tad (I’m mostly speaking to curate.. I realize the original post is inflammatory, but let’s take a higher ground when possible).

    In regards to the original post, the four bullet points are simply not true, for me personally. Any fair reading of what Pr. Wilkins, for example, has said will show this to be the case, in my opinion. However, I don’t intend to speak for anyone else. As an FV proponent (as well as the NPP), I would like to state what I believe, as clearly as I can, on this topic:

    1. NECM’s and ECM’s are both members of the Visible Church in the same way. They participate in this external administration of the Church and her sacraments/Word/prayer/worship in the same way.

    2. The difference between NECM’s and ECM’s is perhaps best explained in this way (again, in my opinion… don’t make me a spokesperson for anyone else, because I know I probably disagree with many on this):

    i. NECM’s have “temporary faith” (seed on rocky soil or with thorns), whereas ECM’s have “saving faith” (as defined by the WCF).

    ii. Temporary faith allows the NECM to really believe that Christ has died for them for a time, and really believe that when forgiveness of sins is preached to them in Christ, they are justified. However, they are not Justified in the sense that ECM’s are, because they do not persevere and their faith is not true, saving faith; therefore, their justification is only apparent, but not actual. They receive the promise of forgiveness for a time, but their faith fails to receive Christ and all his benefits in full, as the ECM’s do. I believe this illustrates what is going on with some of Peter’s statements about apostates, as well as the book of Hebrews.

    iii. The NECM’s are never part of the Invisible Church; that is to say, they are never part of God’s Elect, chosen before the foundation of the world. They are, however, considered part of God’s people for a time while on earth (cf Heb 10), but not in a true, saving way (only in a temporal, saved from the corruptions of the world for a time, way). In other words, the Visible Church, where salvation is offered to all and ministered through the Word and sacraments, but only received truly by faith in those with saving faith, the gift of God. Their apsotasy brings them to a much worse state, because they had escaped for a while from the darkness and seen the light, but are now cast into the darkness forever.

    3. NECM’s only have the terms “regeneration,” “justification,” or “union” applied to them “in some sense” because they are seen to be among God’s people for a time. The Church (visible) is the place where regeneration occurs, where renewal of the Holy Spirit occurs, where justification occurs, and where a vital union with Christ is realized and enjoyed to the salvation of all who are truly united to Christ in a saving, immutable way (i.e., God’s Elect, chosen before the foundation of the world).

    It is not *wrong* to speak of ANYONE in the Visible church with these terms, because these are benefits of Christ that are promised to all of God’s people. HOWEVER, it very well may be the case, unfortunately, that some of the people who are exposed to the renewal of the Holy Spirit and the escaping the defilements of this world, do not, in fact, actually have this eternal salvation in Christ. This is a tragedy, and it is always hopefully the EXCEPTION to the case. Since we are to live according to God’s promises (and not his secret will; cf. Deut 29:29), we should approach these issues pastorally with a covenantal and promise-oriented viewpoint, not a decretal one. If the gospel is proclaimed every week in the Church, the people (NECM & ECM) will be offered salvation in Christ, and everyone who believes by God’s grace will be saved on the last day. There is nothing “dangerous” or “wrong” about telling people that Christ has died for them and exhorting them to receive him by faith and cling to God’s promises… this is classical, moderate Calvinism (Calvin’s brand), and is a good balance between extremes that are un-Biblical.

    Hope that’s clear. Please ask for any clarifications before attacking me in case I said something a little off.

  5. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Ref. #4;

    Gabe, it is helpful to take the high ground by inviting your opponent to join you, not by standing above them and throwing down veiled insults.

    I take offense (mildly) to your statement that the original post is inflammatory. It is only inflammatory if, even when based on fact, it draws inferences that are not only invalid, but cast the other party in a bad light. I did nothing of the sort.

    Your last statement assumes the worst of me (the author of the post and therefore ordinarily the first to respond). Hopefully my rebuke will be received with the mildness it is intended.

    I intentionally wrote in a manner that sought to be fair with the dramatic differences that exist between parties over the FV. I enumerated in measured language the ordinary responses of frustration with each other, without taking a position as to who was right or wrong. I then suggested a means of moving forward.

    Let me suggest that next time don’t begin with a response to an attack where there was no attack.

  6. Machaira said,

    January 5, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Gabe,

    You haven’t said anything that not already known about FV theology. There are threads here where all of the points you mention are debated. Why not simply admit that we disagree, not that we do not understand – which simply isn’t true.

  7. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 5, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Curate (#1):

    To hear this coming from men who have abandoned Reformed sacramentology for a half-baked Anabaptist version that the Baptists themselves reject is humorous indeed.

    This made me mad, frankly. I’ve spent a large amount of time discussing with you both the Biblical and historical Reformed perspective on baptism, and have made a reasonably good argument that neither the Bible nor Calvin taught what you teach.

    I can appreciate that you disagree with me on that point.

    But the statement above, which returns to your original position that anyone who disagrees with you has “abandoned Reformed sacramentology”, appears to argue as if our discussion never took place at all. There’s no acknowledgment that there is real disagreement over what “Reformed sacramentology” means; you just assume that your version is the real one, and any differences with you are equivalent to differences with the “Reformed” position.

    In short, it looks like you’ve been arguing in bad faith all this time.

    I say “looks like”, because of course that may not be the case. But please be aware that when you throw these fire-bombs with no acknowledgment that substantial arguments have been raised in opposition to your points — it doesn’t engender good discussion.

    I’ll shut up now on that point.
    Jeff Cagle

  8. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 5, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Gabe (#4):

    Your points are interesting. Please elaborate further. As I read what you wrote, and then I read the four bulleted points, it seems like the two statements map to each other pretty cleanly. What specific differences would you cite between your explanation and Reed’s summary?

    Thanks,
    Jeff Cagle

  9. Gabe Martini said,

    January 5, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Ref. #5,

    Reed, I didn’t intend any insult in my reply. I say the original post was inflammatory because it Begs the Question (from my perspective), by saying, “It is a reasonable question, especially of those engaging in theological novelty and innovation…”, when I believe I am being faithful to historic, Reformed beliefs (which are not univocal in history). That’s all. Nothing to get upset about, and I appreciate your mildness.

  10. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Ref. #4:

    Gabe, your point 2.ii. evokes some questions for clarification.

    > In your opinion, what is the immediate source of the belief with which the RCM respond to the gospel, themselves or the Spirit? Turretin argues that it is the former. The only faith the RCM has is that which his own fallen faculties is able to acheive. This why it is faulty and eventually fails (see part 2 for more details).

    > In your opinion, in what way (source, manner, etc.) are the RCM justified? Following his understanding of TF, Turretin argues that the RCM, in that they profess faith in God, profess themselves justified, but that they never really are so. There is no temporary justification.

    The rest of your post fleshes out the common FV understanding of these topics. No disrespect intended, but they do not advance the discussion, as we’ve already stalled at these points.

    Let me observe one critical distinction between the FV position and the one Turretin outlines (the historic reformed position also).

    The FV proposes a parallel but different work of the Spirit in the RCM, producing a temporary-real experience of the ordo-salutis. It is not the same ordo-salutis the ECM experience, but one that initiates in a different but similar work of the Spirit, evidences itself in the RCM in a manner that appears identical to that experienced by the ECM, but in the end fails.

    The FV proposes that the critical difference in this covenantal (temporary) ordo-salutis is the absence of the grace of perseverance.

    I.O.W. the FV says the train the RCM ride on starts at the same station (the Spirit) but on a different track. This track runs parallel (perfectly – identical to human eyes) to the track of the train the ECM are riding in. This separate track is itself laid by the Spirit (the RCM experience a real work of the Spirit in their enjoyment of their covenantal-temporary ordo-salutis). At some point this track veers off and stops at the exact opposite destination at the track of the ECM.

    Turretin, on the other hand, proposes that the ECM and the RCM start in the same station (the Spirit), but that is all they have in common. The train the RCM board is merely the Visible Church, and the track they run on is one ladi not by the Spirit, but by mere human hands.

    THE FV would have the RCM experience a real internal work of the Spirit until they apostatize. Turretin argues the RCM ONLY experience the external work of the Spirit – it never touches their souls. Thus their participation is all self powered. Their enjoyment is only external. They never really taste internally the benefits of the new covenant, temporarily or otherwise.

    To be fair, the FV position is not exactly that to which the Remonstrants held. The Remonstrants believed that the ECM and the RCM got on the same train, rode the same track, until they decided to get off prior to the final stop.

    Nevertheless, in arguing agains the Remonstrants, I think Turretin ioffers substantial applicable insights. Let me suggest that rather than respond in detail here Gabe, read the next two parts and interact with Turretin’s offer of proof of his position. In particular interact with the verses he references. This will help us move forward, and hopefully narrow the gap between us.

  11. Gabe Martini said,

    January 5, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Jeff (#8):

    My contention is that:

    “An experience of Christ and his benefits that is not the same as that experienced by ECM, in that,
    The experience of the RCM is temporary, whereas the experience of the ECM is permanent.”

    Is not entirely accurate, and perhaps muddles the issue a bit. I’m not proposing the position of the Remonstrants; no, not at all. So, in that sense, I believe the original post is inaccurate, insofar as what many (not all, but some) FV types believe. It is my conention that many (not all, but some) FV types are merely high-Church Calvinists, well within the pale of Reformed orthodoxy — but not necessarily what is mainstream, most popular, or even prevalent in our day today among the Reformed churches.

    Because of this, I offered my thoughts, which I believe distinguish me from such a view as contained in the last two bullet points.

    In case I wasn’t clear, let me be moreso:

    The difference between the NECM and the ECM is a great deal more than simply saying one has perseverance while the other does not. That is true, but it is not everything. Their entire experience in the covenant, in many ways, is completely different. Again — in my opinion. I’m not speaking for anyone else.

    Peace,
    Gabe M

  12. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Ref. #1:

    Roger, tsk, tsk (I think I can say that at this point without being condescending). I echo Jeff’s complaint, although not with the degree of frustration he feels. No disrespect Roger, but I’ve experienced your pigeon-holing me before and then chastizing me for being a bird-brain when all the while I am merely just a little old rock.

    My position on the sacraments has not changed. You’ve chosen to read into my words things not there.

    Your chiding me for a failure to be historically accurate is humorous. I indeed know my weaknesses and my mind is definitely not a sharp as yours (an honest opinion, not an effort at self-deprecation to make you look bad in comparison). Yet I did not originate the term “temporary faith.”

    I actually heard it the first time when I was discussing such topics with an FV advocate on this blog (just this past fall). At first my response was akin to yours. I thought this other guy was creating new terms. Yet I kept my fool mouth shut and went and did some reading. I was not surprised to find that indeed the term is used not just by Turretin, but even by his spiritual granddaddy Calvin (although not exactly and always the same exact phrase). As well, the TF label appears to have been a (the) common debating point for the Remonstrants and their opponents.

    Please Roger, chastize me for not getting the Bible right. Read the other two posts in this series and interact with Turretin’s arguments.

  13. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Ref. #9:

    Gabe, I appreciate your explanation. May I suggest you are over-reacting to what is a serious request from brothers who want to be at peace with you?

    Machaira’s comment (no. 6) echoes one point that I made to you (no. 10). Your post merely summarizes what we have already heard and that which we’ve already explored and that which we have already found insufficient in the FV explanations.

    If you do want to engage us for the sake of peace, then the lead off question is eminently fair and necessary for me to emphasize. If you go back you’ll find Kyle asked that question at least 2 times (possibly 3) – with no response from an FV advocate posting on that thread. This is not the first discussion on this blog where the same request has not been heeded.

    We need to get into more details if we are going to find out we don’t disagree after all. The FV position may need more refining. Those of us opposed to it may need our own refining. It may be a mix of both.

    Responding to a fair question by calling it inflammatory just ignores how serious we who are opposed to the FV think these matters are. There are many responses to this question. The only one that shows love for the saints is to take it seriously, bear with any slights you may perceive, and then dig in.

    How about it? Want to take the next month or two and interact with Turretin and your Bible? You may very well come up with insights that all of us will applaud.

  14. Gabe Martini said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Reed, I really didn’t think I was being that critical of you when I said the original post is inflammatory. In the sense that it does, as a matter of fact, beg the question (from my perspective, at least), it is meant to illicit a certain kind of response from FV people. That doesn’t mean you were being a jerk or anything like that, but you were, in fact, trying to get a response of a particular kind. That’s all I meant to imply, nothing more. If that’s not enough, then please accept my sincere apology, if that is what you need. I was trying to be critical of my own “FV” cohort more than anything.

    On the other hand, I don’t really take offense to the charge of theological novelty and innovation.

    Every generation does this, without exception.

    If we didn’t move the conversations forward, we wouldn’t be showing respect for our fathers in the faith, we’d be disappointing them. They were also building upon what was handed down to them, and if continuing study, reflection, or even “scholarship” teaches us more about God’s Word, we shouldn’t be afraid to seriously consider moving our conversations forward at a leisurely and responsible pace.

    In the sense that the FV is a conversation and exploration of the last century of development in Reformed theology — and that it most certainly is, as Shepherd was Murray’s hand-picked successor, for example — it is on the right track. That doesn’t mean every conclusion reached is right, or necessarily should be adopted by the Church.

    To propose that there is a single, historic, Reformed position on particular issues is not seriously tenable in my humble opinion. This even appears rather naive to me, with no serious insult intended.

    We should show a great deal of respect for the people that came before us, and consider their insights and beliefs with all seriousness, but we should never idolize them or their words; especially if it could be shown Scripture teaches otherwise. Our fathers in the faith would be disappointed in us if we were at the exact same level of theological understanding as they were 300 years ago. They would be shocked. They were no less innovative than anyone else in the theological climate today. Just as a natural father would hope his son is smarter, better off and more successful than he is, so our fathers in the faith would have expected the same of us.

    The Reformation itself was such a perceived threat to the Roman Church because it was the first MAJOR advance of theological thought — outside of the pale of traditional orthodoxy — in quite some time. Sure, the underlying discussions and developments where there, behind the scenes, but it was too much too fast for the traditionalists. I’m not about to claim the FV is as grand a movement as the protestant Reformation, but the same, general “feelings” of those clinging to Tradition is felt.

    It is too much too fast, many say.

    If we want to make changes, it should be done in this way and take this long, many say.

    These are all preferred, idealistic thoughts, but this is not how things actually work when the rubber meets the pavement. Change happens, and it usually happens before you notice it has happened. And, as a matter of fact, I believe personally that the fruits of the FV are merely the result of the last two centuries or so of Reformed thought and development. Certainly not a monolithic movement or univocal beliefs, but beliefs found within the Reformed churches nonetheless, and held to by men all considered to be orthodox and even Reformed. There was a lot of give and take in Reformed beliefs during the 19th century, especially. To be “Reformed” meant anything from high-church Calvinism to low-church Puritanism, and they were usually ministering in the same denominations. Sure, they disagreed and debated and so forth, but the charges of being “un-Reformed” likely weren’t being hurled around as a sort of insult; certainly not “heresy.”

    I say all this because I agree that the discussion doesn’t seem to be moving forward much on this blog. The reason I say this is because I believe that there are two vastly different presuppositions at play in all of this, and this is becoming more and more clear to me. However, I firmly believe that everyone on this site, no matter what camp they represent, are thoroughly orthodox and even within the pale of the Reformed faith in general. Clearly, without question.

    That does not mean, though, that we all agree — or that we all ever WILL agree. And, in fact, we don’t HAVE TO all agree. The developments will continue to develop, things will continue to be rethought, commentaries and books will continue to be written, and innovation will continue to occur, as it always has. Why the FV is seen as a threat to the Church or the gospel by particular groups of people is unbeknownst to me, and I don’t intend to speculate down that path of thought. It isn’t helpful and doesn’t really matter. The controversy is here, and it has to be dealt with, one way or another.

    Charges of innovation and novelty do not bother me. In fact, that is an encouragement for me, personally — I should hope we are moving theology and the Church forward with serious study and reflection.

    To stand in place is to place Tradition above Scripture in a sense, and become no better than Rome herself. That is a huge concern of mine, and of many in the FV or any other theological movement where the traditionalists level charges of “heresy” against those who are clearly orthodox but trying to re-think particular emphasis of doctrine in order to be more Biblical, in their opinion (whether or not that is the case, is not my point).

    Charges of innovation and novelty in a negative sense, however, do bother me, for the reasons outlined above. The Church is not called idolize any works she produces, no matter how helpful they are at the time. The WCF is great. The Heidelberg Catechism is great. They are not, however, perfect understandings of God’s Word. To say so is both idolatrous and placing us on the same level of understanding as God. They may be some of the best things we have at the moment, but we can do better. In fact, we should want to do better. The essential truths of the faith are always the same, but our apprehension of them must continue to improve, grow, and be nourished with continued years of study and reflection, prayerfully seeking to best understand God’s revealed word to us as his children. And, along with the WCF, I believe the final matter should be Scripture — not ANY tradition or church council, no matter how great it may be, perceived or in actuality. This is not a low view of the Church; it is a high view of Scripture. This is not against Presbyterian polity; it is the very definition of it. The Church is not infallible, and is only inerrant insofar as she is living in submission to God’s Word. In Scripture does she have all credibility. As such, it should be no wonder that a document presented by a study committe to the PCA’s GA was questioned — not because of its conclusions — but because of its lack of Scriptural interaction and citation. This is only one illustration of the point I’m trying to make, but it is a valid one. Whether we agree with the 9 Declarations or not (which I do, even as an FV/NPP proponent, which should say something about the controversy itself and our “presuppositional” conflicts), we should all be disappointed in its lack of Biblical support or interaction.

    Despite all of our apparent “wordlview” differences, especially perhaps in how we understand “truth” and how theology should be “done,” I still think we can gain SOME insight from one another, and should continue to do so. However, making this all about who is and is not truly Reformed is a disappointing and fruitless enterprise, in my humble opinion. It is such an unimportant question to be asking, it boggles the mind. What really matters, in my opinion, is this: Who is seeking to bear God’s image and transform the world for Christ? Who is seeking to encourage us to cling to Christ and His salvation by faith? Who is feeding the poor? Who is sheltering the homeless? Who is educating our children with a Christian worldview? Who is seeking to submit all things to God’s Word?

    These are the questions that are important to be asked, friends. By all of us.

    Now, as regards to this question:

    “So, I ask the question again: what benefits do reprobates members of the visible church receive, and what do they lose when they apostatize, and how are these benefits the same and different from those received by the elect?”

    I have submitted an answer, albeit a simple and easily misunderstood one. That is my own fault and my own shortcoming. However, despite your encouragement to do so, I do not believe any amount of time wrestling with Turretin over these issues will further the conversation. Both camps quote Turreting favorably. Both camps quote God’s Word favorably, and even the same passages with different conclusions. That is why we must continue the conversation and embrace the fact that there will always be — until Christ returns — diversity in the Church.

    This does not mean one side is heretical or un-Reformed. It simply means that NONE OF US have a perfect understanding or interpretation of God’s Word, and that we ALL need to seek to constantly submit our lives and beliefs to him.

  15. Curate said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Ref. no.7

    Jeff, I did not have you in mind at all with that remark, truly, nor Reed. We are in substantial agreement, with minor differences.

    However the fact remains that an overwhelmingly large majority of Antis have an empty-sign sacramentology that denies that the grace promised is really conveyed.

  16. Roger Mann said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    4: Gabe wrote,

    Temporary faith allows the NECM to really believe that Christ has died for them for a time, and really believe that when forgiveness of sins is preached to them in Christ, they are justified.

    So, do these reprobates “really believe” the same gospel as the elect? In other words, is the content of what they “really believe” the same as that of the elect? If so, then how can they possibly not be justified? Jesus Himself clearly promised that “he who believes in Him is not condemned” (Jn. 3:18). If the phrase “is not condemned” does not mean the same as “is justified,” then words have lost all meaning.

    However, they are not Justified in the sense that ECM’s are, because they do not persevere and their faith is not true, saving faith; therefore, their justification is only apparent, but not actual.

    If they “really believe” the same gospel as the elect, then their justification must be “actual,” and they would be justified in the same “sense” as the elect:

    “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (Jn. 5:24)

    Sinners are not justified only after they have persevered; they are justified the very moment they “really believe” the gospel! Thus, perseverance is not a condition for justification; it is a fruit of genuine faith that necessarily follows justification. None of this is true of the reprobate in any “sense.”

  17. Curate said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Ref. no. 3

    Yes, but even the Remonstrants didn’t teach that saving faith = covenantal faithfulness = works of obedience, as the FV heretics have brazenly done!

    If anyone were to make the brazen equivalences that you have, I too would call them a heretic. However, there is a big difference between saying that the faith that justifies is ever accompanied by works, and saying that the faith that justifies equals works of obedience. No-one is saying what you said in the quote. No-one.

    The faith that justifies is assent/trust/confidence in God’s promises. The end. However, that simple faith always works, although the same are not counted in the imputation of justification.

    I hope that helps.

  18. Curate said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Correction

    If anyone were to make these brazen equivalences, I too would call them a heretic.

  19. Curate said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Ref. no. 12

    Reed, I am not familiar with Turretin at all. For that reason I have to be very, very, careful when reading excerpts, because the danger of misreading him is so great. Does he mean the same things we mean when he uses familiar sounding terms, or are they false friends? (words that one would think are related but in actual usage are not)

    I am much more at ease with Luther and Calvin, Cranmer, and the Reformed Confessions. Turretin is Post-Reformation is he not, and a leading Protestant Scholastic? Scholasticism IMO lost a little of the brightness of the Reformers, so have not spent much time with them. That is not to belittle Turretin, who for all I know may have been greater than Calvin and Luther.

  20. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Ref. #14:

    Gabe, please, don’t be so condescending. Its not about what I need. Its a matter of what is right. You’ve explained yourself, and now repeated yourself. For whatever reason I’m not making my objection clear. Let’s drop it.

    I’m much more interested in substantive responses.

    O.k., so you’re not bothered by the charge of theological novelty. Do you recognize the obligation such novelty carries? Your lengthy explanations of issues of balance are not denied by such an obligation. Indeed, this is part of our responsibility in carrying the conversation forward, a responsibility to the Church Universal.

    I must say I am disapppointed that you do not wish to move beyond mere assertions. In effect you are saying to those of us troubled by the problems we perceive in the FV, “relax, its either my fault for not speaking clearly enough, or your fault for not hearing me reight. Regardless, let’s just forget it and move forward.”

    And how can we do that when we so seriously disagree?

    Honestly Gabe, why even bother commenting on a blog that is intended to move things forward if you have no desire to do so? Why not just be silent and pray for everyone?

  21. Gabe Martini said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Are you kidding me?

  22. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Ref. #21:

    Not knowing exactly what you are referring to Gabe, let me give you a blanket, “no I am not.”

    If you are referring to condescending, yes I mean condescending. You use inflammatory remarks about those you oppose, and when they object you respond with a, “relax, what are you getting uptight about.”

    I’m willing to believe that this is a matter of rhetorical style on your part. I don’t see any hints that you intend this. Nevertheless, take this admonishment from a brother who believes the charge applies.

  23. GLW Johnson said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Gabe
    It is very misleading to say that Shepherd was Murray’s handpicked successor, and then leave the misguided impression that Murray would condone the views now being championed by Shepherd and his followers in the Federal Vision. Shepherd’s views at the time of his appointment to the faculty of WTS did not resemble the ones that developed much later. In fact, Shepherd’s denial of the imputation AOoC was not an issue during the Shepherd controversy-this only recently became known ( and was a major factor in Richard Gaffin withdrawing his support for his long time friend). It staggers the imagination to think that Murray would support this in any way ,shape ,form or fashion.

  24. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Ref. #17;

    Roger, delve into Turretin’s summary on the next two posts. Scholastic or not, with his own strengths and weaknesses, he at least has the reputation of inheriting the fruits of Calvin’s Academy. Unless we want to call Beza (Calvin’s successor, Turretin’s predecessor) an absolute scoundrel, Turretin is more Calvinistic than you or I ever will be simply because of proximity (in eveyr way).

    His thoughts are worth our attention.

  25. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Curate (#15):

    Jeff, I did not have you in mind at all with that remark, truly, nor Reed. We are in substantial agreement, with minor differences.

    Thanks for the explanation. Sorry for jumping the gun.

    Jeff

  26. Roger Mann said,

    January 5, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    17: Curate wrote,

    If anyone were to make the brazen equivalences that you have, I too would call them a heretic… No-one is saying what you said in the quote. No-one.

    “The Bible is clear: obedience is necessary to receive eternal life. There is no justification apart from good works… In James 2, “justification” cannot be referring to a demonstration of justification, e.g., justification does and cannot mean something like “show to be justified.” Rather, James has in view the same kind of justification as Paul — forensic, soteric justification. Good works justify persons in James 2, not faith or one’s status as a justified sinner. James is not telling his readers how to “justify their justification” or how to “give evidence of a true and lively faith.” Instead he says their persons will not be justified by faith alone, but also by good works of obedience they have done. The use of the preposition “by” is important since it indicates a sort of dual instrumentality in justification. In other words, in some sense, James is speaking of a justification in which faith and works combine together to justify.” (Rich Lusk, “Future Justification to the Doers of the Law,” http://www.hornes.org/theologia/rich-lusk/future-justification-to-the-doers-of-the-law)

    I rest my case. Are you now willing to call Rich Lusk a “heretic?” For, unless he has repudiated and repented of this article, he is clearly teaching heresy.

  27. Curate said,

    January 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Ref. no. 12

    Reed, I would like you to acknowledge that many Antis – whom you are representing with this article – perhaps most, are either Baptists, and as such not Reformed at all re the presenting issues, and thus in no position to chide us for being unReformed, or semi-Baptists with their low-church mentality and sacraments that are NOT a means used by the HS to convey the grace promised.

    That is the context of my amusement at the charge of theological novelty. The revisionists accusing us of revision.

  28. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Ref. #1:

    Roger, you make an interesting observation that I failed to respond to:

    “Then there is the title, which implies the existence of a faith that does not justify. Perhaps you could enlighten us on this novel idea whereby a man may have faith in Christ, albeit deficient in many ways, but is not justified. Doesn’t your view insist that such a man does not have faith at all? In which case it isn’t truly called temporary faith, but hypocrisy.”

    Turretin deals with this expressly. First, let me be clear that it was an FV advocate who interjected the concept of Temporary Faith to explain what is goin on in the RCM. To be fair to him, his understanding of TF is not the same as Turretin’s.

    Yes, it would be called, indeed is called, hypocritical, no “real” faith at all. John 2:21-23 provides an exceptional iilustration of such TF:

    23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

    It is only called faith in that it externally professes belief in the gospel. This is where the judgement of charity idea comes in. We may ascribe undifferentiated faith to a member of the Church. In time it will show itself to be JF or TF.

    The critical issue here is what is the extent of the Spirit’s work in the RCM, those who have only TF, a hypocritical dead thing. Turretin offers great insights. Please, take a look. Do not worry about whether or not I have summarized fairly. I’ve included enough references in the post above for you to track down the original. I’d even be willing to copy the pages in question and email them to you.

  29. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Ref. #27:

    Roger, I indeed have sympathy with at least the observations that a, shall we call it, latent Zwinglian (baptistic) understanding of the sacraments is a continual issue among reformed folk, especially since many of us come from baptistic wings of the Church.

    I will not agree that this issue is present to the degree you perceive it here. My take is that you spent way too much time on the previous thread hearing such notions in what myself and others wrote, when indeed they were never there. As mere anecdotal proof, let me suggest you go back and read how many times each and everyone of us responding to you said, in effect, “that’s not what I said.” Sheer weight of anecdote should give you pause to consider whether or not my observation is fair.

    Frankly Roger, it is almost as if you have your own criteria, known only to you, for when someone is less than reformed in their sacramental views. It is very annoying.

    More to the point, why this smokescreen? By its own definition the FV is a new discussion. Yes, FV advocates say they are rediscovering. Yet they are not repeating historical arguments fully fleshed out. They are not plowing over old furrows. They are in the corners of the field working over the gaps.

    Why not simply say, “I disagree Reed, its not novelty. Now, let me deal with the substance …”?

    What is so hard about the premise here? This was lifted straight off a previous conversation here. I’m not putting words in anyone’s mouth. I’m sincerely trying to engage where the differences seem to lie and doing so willing to be shown where I am wrong.

    Still, nothing of substance from you.

  30. Curate said,

    January 5, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Ref. no. 24 & 28

    I will put Turretin on my to-buy list, and I will carefully read the other two articles.

  31. January 5, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Reed,

    I think your summary of the FV view of the NECM is somewhat faulty. For example, when you say that, on a spectrum, they hold that:

    * An experience of Christ and his benefits that parallels those benefits experienced by elect Church members (ECM), but

    –the problem is that both Barach and Shepherd, who are at the heart of the FV movement, have written that the NECM participates in the covenant of grace “in the same way” and not just in a parallel way. If the FV held that the NECM had merely a parallel experience to the believer, that would not be so bad, but they don’t. Yes, it’s true that they start out talking as if the NECM had a parallel experience, but at some point, because of their commitment to Klaas Schilder’s doctrine of “head for head” and “all or nothing” and because of their rejection of the internal/external distinction, the FV ends up converging the parallel experience of the NECM with the ECM. Hence the major problem the orthodox have had with the FV.

    * An experience of Christ and his benefits that is not the same as that experienced by ECM, in that,

    –Given what was said above, the FV does not consistently maintain this distinction because they cannot. They cannot get folks to do their part, to keep their part of the covenant, to cooperate with grace unto eventual justification without blurring the distinction between the two ways of being in the one covenant of grace.

    This raises the problem of the term NECM. It is quite misleading. In the mainstream of the FV doctrine, there’s no such thing as NECM. Election is re-defined as temporary, historical, and conditioned upon cooperation with grace. The very term NECM implies a distinction that the FV denies.

    * The experience of the RCM is temporary, whereas the experience of the ECM is permanent.

    –this is a bit misleading too as it suggests a distinction that doesn’t really exist. In the FV, the administration of of the covenant of grace overwhelms the decree. In Calvin, and the orthodox Reformed, and in the PCA’s Nine Points, and the URC’s Nine Points, and the OPC Justification Report, the Reformed/Presbyterian Churches all teach that the decree is determinative of the administration of the covenant of grace, but not so in the FV.

  32. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Ref. #31:

    Scott:

    Thanks for your corrections and advice. A few responses that may clarify my language.

    > I do recognize that key FV advocte go beyond my same-but-parallel summary. My reference to a spectrum (Wilson–Wilkins–Jordan) was a summary of that recognition. I consciously chose for this piece to offer a minimalistic expression of the FV position, one that was not going to raise much objection from most of the “mild” FV advocates who post here. In particular, I chose a summary that grew out of a conversation here with Xon Hofstetter.

    As an aside, for the life of me I cannot understand why such mild types (Wilson?) won’t join us in saying that the kinds of positions you summarize are wrong, and then calling on their federates to repent.

    > I think I was careful to not use the term NECM in these posts (if I did let me know and I’ll correct them). I agreed with Andy Webb’s admonishment to this end a while ago. I’ve chosen to use RCM, as in Reprobate Church Member, because I think this is the minimal that can be said with biblical accuracy(e.g., not reprobate covenant member). Do you think this is on track, or should we use some other acronym?

    > The temporary experience of the RCM is again mere repetition of the FV position, not one to which I am agreeing. Indeed, as (hopefully) the summary of Turretin in the next two posts shows, the whole notion that the RCM have a temporary but real (i.e., Spiritual, internal) experience of Christ and his benefits just will not fly with Scripture.

    My main point in posting these thoughts from Turretin was to offer some distiniguishing in terms of what the ECM and the RCM experience. Following Turretin rather comfortably at this point, I’d say they experience nothing in common, and any similarities are superficial only, like a $100 bill and a counterfeit one. Pretending to possess Christ is not possessing Christ. This is where Turretin’s insights lead us.

  33. R. F. White said,

    January 5, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    To develop Dr. Clark’s observation about the problem with NECM in the FV system, there are two elections in the FV system, national [corporate] election and special [individual] election. The former is revocable; the latter is not.

  34. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Ref #30;

    Roger, thank you.

  35. its.reed said,

    January 5, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Ref. #33:

    Not to make hay, but Dr. White is it not fair to say that that the FV’s view of national (corporate) election is a novelty? Are there historical precedents to the term, but if so, doesn’t the FV use this term differently?

  36. greenbaggins said,

    January 5, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Without jumping into the discussion, I just want to make a quick point about Turretin. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that he is the most balanced, most careful, most biblical, most exegetical systematician who ever wrote. So I second Reed’s encouragement to Roger to purchase said Turretin. He addresses lots of the questions being asked today, and gives biblical reasoning for everything.

  37. Curate said,

    January 5, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Ref. no. 29

    Roger, I indeed have sympathy with at least the observations that a, shall we call it, latent Zwinglian (baptistic) understanding of the sacraments is a continual issue among reformed folk, especially since many of us come from baptistic wings of the Church. I will not agree that this issue is present to the degree you perceive it here.

    I am delighted to hear it. I would very much like them to come out of the long grass and make their voices heard, for they are keeping their heads down low.

    Yet they (FVers) are not repeating historical arguments fully fleshed out. They are not plowing over old furrows. They are in the corners of the field working over the gaps.

    There is a huge amount of historical research happening at the moment, and stuff is being posted to the internet all the time. I have difficulty keeping track of it all.

    Here is just one: http://www.joelgarver.com/writ/sacr/wcf.htm

    Rich Lusk has published a huge amount of historical research too. Just look for it and it will begin to appear on the radar.

  38. R. F. White said,

    January 5, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    35 Reed, you ask whether the FV view of national [corporate, covenantal] election is a novelty. Some appeal would be made to Calvin’s distinction between the general election of Israel vis-a-vis the particular election of the remnant in Israel. Be that as it may, FVers go on to develop their views by arguing for the continuity between the election of Israel and the election of the Church. Based on that Israel-Church construct, FVers see a special [particular], individual election of a remnant within the general, corporate election of the Church. There is an election that applies to all in the Church and that election is revocable; there is also an election that applies to some in the Church and that election is irrevocable.

    As I see it, at issue is the basis of the revocability or irrevocability of national (corporate) election. On what is the Church’s identity as God’s “elect nation” (i.e., the Church’s national election) based? How can national [corporate, general] election ever be revoked (i.e., “devolve into reprobation”)?

  39. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 5, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Curate (#37):

    REED: Yet they (FVers) are not repeating historical arguments fully fleshed out. They are not plowing over old furrows. They are in the corners of the field working over the gaps.

    CURATE: There is a huge amount of historical research happening at the moment, and stuff is being posted to the internet all the time. I have difficulty keeping track of it all.

    Just a couple notes about Joel’s article. First, Joel is arguing much more modestly that there is *room* within the Reformed tradition for some “baptismal regeneration” views, not that such a view was the only or majority view. That is, it appears that Joel claims that in addition to views that did not accept “baptismal regeneration”, there were views that did, and that the Westminster Assembly accommodated both.

    Second, by the time we get down to which senses of “baptismal regeneration” are within Confessional boundaries, those senses are scarcely different from the view I’ve put forward, except that I would extend efficacy to include times prior to baptism. Certainly, Joel doesn’t argue that justification must wait for baptism. It is this point that has been the sticking point, I think.

    And third, I note with interest the David Wright quote, which came from a paper supervised by Ligon Duncan. It strikes me, as Reed said, that perhaps the latent Zwinglian view is not as common in the PCA as some fear.

    Jeff

  40. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 5, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Sorry, make that “journal edited by” rather than “paper supervised by”

    JRC

  41. Curate said,

    January 6, 2008 at 2:48 am

    Ref. losing one’s salvation.

    Re the usual proof texts. Hebrews 6 and 10 are usually cited. It needs pointing out that the entire sermon that Hebrews is has as its purpose a warning against apostasy. From beginning to end it sustains this theme. The reason for the supreme glory of Christ’s kingship, the supreme glory of his sacrifice, priesthood, the heavenly Temple, the New Covenant in his blood, the cloud of witnesses etc, is to show the struggling Hebrew church that falling away is a fall from glory to ignominy, and from salvation to damnation.

    Then there are 2 Peter and Jude, with their warnings against false teachers who lead Christians astray to their mutual condemnation.

    Point: apostasy is a huge NT theme. It is a real and present danger, it has happened, it is happening, it will happen. Be on your guard, for it is only those who endure/persevere to the end who will be saved.

  42. GLW Johnson said,

    January 6, 2008 at 8:04 am

    For curate to say he is totally unfamiliar with Turretin and then to reguritate the old carnard about Post-Reformation scholasticism while at the same time telling us that we on this side of the debate are all very weak on the historical theological front is beyond priceless. Thanks Roger, that was rich .

  43. its.reed said,

    January 6, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Ref. #41:

    Roger, preaching to the choir, and not the subject of this post. :)

  44. Mark T. said,

    January 6, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Bob Mattes posted the PCA Indictment of LAP here, and he posted the PCA Citation to LAP here.

    Thank you.

  45. Curate said,

    January 6, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Ref. no.41

    Reed, I wasn’t clear about the direction of that post, but I am starting to make a case against your distinction between justifying faith and non-justifying faith, which is on topic, I think.

    Heeding your call to historicity, I am taking my stand alongside Augustine, Lutheranism, and a constant minority within the Reformed Churches, that God in his infinite wisdom does indeed justify temporary believers until they fall away.

    Faith justifies, whether it is temporary or permanent. There is no such thing as faith in Christ that does not justify. Thus a non-elect person who believes for a while is necessarily in a state of salvation until he falls through unfaith.

    Here is the case:

    Hebrews is a sustained argument to stand firm and not fall away. The whole sermon, not just chapters 6 and 10! That makes no sense if the warning is theoretical only, as some insist, which is further proven by the fact that the author cites actual historical examples of those who were once truly saved, and then damned through unbelief.

    They are of course the wilderness generation whose bodies were scattered across the desert by God for forty years. Real flesh and blood saved believers who fell and were damned.

    How do we know that they were truly saved as in united to Christ and not just saved politically? Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 10 where we are told that they ate and drank from the same spiritual rock, which is Christ. That is union with Christ language that means that they received spiritual life from Christ. The OT supports this judgement by saying in so many words that they were saved.

    Three witnesses, Hebrews, Paul, and Moses, say they were properly saved. They also tell us that they were lost. I won’t bother proving that because all accept it. (There is always one though!)

    Their real-life example is the context for the warnings about those who were sanctified by the blood of the cross, and illuminated by the HS. These are the people! They were real, they were really saved, and then they were lost. they were not abstractions for the sake of an hypothetical example.

    Therefore, within God’s sovereignty, he effectually called some to faith for a while, he justified them, and when they fell according to his secret will he justly destroyed them for trampling underfoot the blood that had cleansed them.

    Bottom line is that the Bible teaches the guaranteed perseverance of the elect, as well as warning that those who believe now but fall away cannot rely upon their previous status.

  46. January 6, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Roger, #45,

    They are of course the wilderness generation whose bodies were scattered across the desert by God for forty years. Real flesh and blood saved believers who fell and were damned.

    Therefore, within God’s sovereignty, he effectually called some to faith for a while, he justified them, and when they fell according to his secret will he justly destroyed them for trampling underfoot the blood that had cleansed them.

    Are you pulling our chain here? I do not believe that your argument as represented by these comments is even remotely Reformed. I answered your question in our other discussion. You promised in return to answer my critique that showed your argument there was essentially identical to the outcome of Trent’s sixth session. I haven’t seen that answer, but I see much of your same argument here.

    As for Hebrews, its dominant theme isn’t apostasy, but rather faith. Dr. R. C. Sproul wrote an excellent summary of the book in What’s in the Bible, and Reformed commentators for centuries have seen the book of Hebrews as a beacon of hope, preaching that, as Dr. Sproul put it:

    The writer to the Hebrews tells us that those who have gone before are cheering us on. Their encouraging voices are heard above the things that distract us. Their example of faith gives us the courage to “set aside” the encumbrances that get in the way of our obedience. Their example of contrition gives us the strength to confess the sin that has overpowered us.

    An the writer warns us that we do not know what lies ahead. We do not set the course for our race. No, this race is “set before us.” Thankfully, he tells us that the ultimate task of the believer is simply this: Look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We have “so great a salvation” because we have so great a Savior. (What’s in the Bible, page 371)

    That’s the orthodox Reformed approach to the book of Hebrews in a nutshell. As for union with Christ, I’ve dealt with that here, but can certainly follow that up if necessary. Bottom line is that the Bible knows no union with Christ that isn’t vital, except a false/apparent one. As I quote John Brown of Haddington in my previous essay on the subject, where he is distinguishing between the vital union with Christ possessed only by the elect, and something else that the reprobate in the pew experiences:

    There is an apparent union between Christ and all the members of the visible church, which is formed by their receiving common gifts and influences from him, and their making an open profession of his truths and service;–which is easily broken, John xv. 2,6 Mat viii. 12. [italics in original]

    Federal Visionist are trying to create something which doesn’t exist and Scripture doesn’t support.

  47. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 7, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Curate (#45):

    Heeding your call to historicity, I am taking my stand alongside Augustine, Lutheranism, and a constant minority within the Reformed Churches, that God in his infinite wisdom does indeed justify temporary believers until they fall away.

    I’m willing to accept this as approximately correct, though I understand that Augustine’s view of justification may or may not have been forensic (depending on which expert one reads) and may or may not have included sanctification (ditto), so that his opinions on the matter might not map cleanly to the questions at hand.

    I would also speculate that losable justification was a point of tension in Luther that led subsequent Lutherans to move away from his high view of predestination; either losable justification or double-predestination had to go.

    And in the end, Dort forced the issue and decided that Reformed soteriology requires the perseverance of the effectually called.

    Faith justifies, whether it is temporary or permanent. There is no such thing as faith in Christ that does not justify. Thus a non-elect person who believes for a while is necessarily in a state of salvation until he falls through unfaith.

    This needs clarification. Does not James 2 clearly teach that there is a faith that does not justify?

    Hebrews is a sustained argument to stand firm and not fall away. The whole sermon, not just chapters 6 and 10! That makes no sense if the warning is theoretical only, as some insist, which is further proven by the fact that the author cites actual historical examples of those who were once truly saved, and then damned through unbelief.

    Agreed. Of course, on both your account and mine, would not those warnings amount to “real, but ultimately hypothetical” for the decretally elect? And “real and ultimately consequential” for all NECMs (or RCMs)?

    So then, if we have a mixed set of decretally elect and RCMs in a particular church, then the warnings are real — but of different import to the various people addressed.

    At which point, it seems like we’re back to saying that the warnings are given to the visible church for the purpose of warning the members against falling away through unbelief.

    They are of course the wilderness generation whose bodies were scattered across the desert by God for forty years. Real flesh and blood saved believers who fell and were damned.

    How do we know that they were truly saved as in united to Christ and not just saved politically? Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 10 where we are told that they ate and drank from the same spiritual rock, which is Christ. That is union with Christ language that means that they received spiritual life from Christ. The OT supports this judgement by saying in so many words that they were saved.

    Saved from what, exactly? Salvation is not a mere matter of “having a personal relationship with Jesus” at any given moment in time; it is an entire package that is described in WCoF chaps. 10 – 33. Certainly, one of the central features in that package is being saved from God’s wrath. That’s primarily an eschatological issue; if an individual is ultimately damned, then he was never saved from God’s wrath. Rather, God’s wrath remained on him, as John 3 states.

    So while I can agree that the Israelites ate and drank from Christ, and I can agree that this language echoes that of Hebrews 6 and 10, I can’t agree that these passages describe people who were “saved in so many words.” Clearly, they weren’t saved. God was *not* well-pleased with them, and showed his displeasure in an obvious way.

    And equally clearly, they weren’t believers. Going back to our agreed framework that Hebrews is a warning against falling away, let’s take it one step further: how does one fall away according to Hebrews? Through unbelief.

    By definition, one who falls away by unbelief is not a believer.

    Well then, could one be a believer at time t0 and then turn in unbelief at time t1?

    The problem with that position is that genuine belief results in one or more irreversible, Spirit-empowered changes within the believer. These changes goes by various names in different passages — “dying to sin”, being “made alive in Christ”, being “born again”, being “circumcised with Christ”, etc.

    These changes are approximately what Calvin described as “regeneration” and John Murray as “definitive sanctification”, though there are some differences between the two.

    Note first that the language used to describe these changes is almost always the language of permanence. Can one “die to sin” and then “come to life to sin” again?

    But more importantly, Paul describes these changes in terms of a guarantee:

    And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. — Eph. 1.13-14.

    The deposit, the αρραβον, is a promise from God that the inheritance will be received. And because our salvation is monergistic, there is no possibility of that promise being nullified.

    This categorically rules out one being a justified believer who then later turns in unbelief; God has promised it, and that settles it.

    This is the direct thrust of Dort Canon 5. Whatever else may be said about Dort (thinking here of Steven Wedgewood’s article), the assembly firmly shut the door on the idea that one can be justified and then later lost:

    Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of those…

    3. Who teach that those who truly believe and have been born again not only can forfeit justifying faith as well as grace and salvation totally and to the end, but also in actual fact do often forfeit them and are lost forever.

    For this opinion nullifies the very grace of justification and regeneration as well as the continual preservation by Christ, contrary to the plain words of the apostle Paul: If Christ died for us while we were still sinners, we will therefore much more be saved from God’s wrath through him, since we have now been justified by his blood (Rom. 5:8-9); and contrary to the apostle John: No one who is born of God is intent on sin, because God’s seed remains in him, nor can he sin, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9); also contrary to the words of Jesus Christ: I give eternal life to my sheep, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand (John 10: 28-29).

    4. Who teach that those who truly believe and have been born again can commit the sin that leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit).

    For the same apostle John, after making mention of those who commit the sin that leads to death and forbidding prayer for them (1 John 5: 16-17), immediately adds: We know that anyone born of God does not commit sin (that is, that kind of sin), but the one who was born of God keeps himself safe, and the evil one does not touch him (v. 18).

    5. Who teach that apart from a special revelation no one can have the assurance of future perseverance in this life.

    For by this teaching the well-founded consolation of true believers in this life is taken away and the doubting of the Romanists is reintroduced into the church. Holy Scripture, however, in many places derives the assurance not from a special and extraordinary revelation but from the marks peculiar to God’s children and from God’s completely reliable promises. So especially the apostle Paul: Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39); and John: They who obey his commands remain in him and he in them. And this is how we know that he remains in us: by the Spirit he gave us (1 John 3:24)…

    7. Who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.

    For Christ himself in Matthew 13:20ff. and Luke 8:13ff. clearly defines these further differences between temporary and true believers: he says that the former receive the seed on rocky ground, and the latter receive it in good ground, or a good heart; the former have no root, and the latter are firmly rooted; the former have no fruit, and the latter produce fruit in varying measure, with steadfastness, or perseverance.

    Notice that anathema 5 contains a subtle hook. If we accept the idea that “Thus a non-elect person who believes for a while is necessarily in a state of salvation until he falls through unfaith”, then it necessarily follows that a believer cannot know anything about his future perseverance, UNLESS he were to have special revelation from God.

    This is precisely what is rejected. Rather, the view is set forth that the fruit of the Spirit in our life now acts as evidence that our faith is genuine and justifying (that the “soil is good”) rather than non-genuine and non-justifying. This allows us to have confidence concerning our perseverance.

    It goes without saying that WCoF follows Dort closely in this matter.

    Now, you might be concerned to not let this confidence become presumption (“Let he who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall…”). And I would agree with that concern and handle it by directing people to faith in Christ, not faith in their own works.

    But taking 1 Cor 10 as proof that genuine believers fell into unbelief and were damned is placing too much weight on a passage that is simply not as clear as Eph. 1 or Rom. 8 (“those whom he justified…he also glorified.”)

    So my bottom line is that the Bible teaches the guaranteed perseverance of the justified, and warns those within the church not to rely on *that* status, but to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”

    Jeff Cagle

  48. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 7, 2008 at 12:55 am

    (“that” status meaning “the status of being in the church.”)

  49. Curate said,

    January 7, 2008 at 4:49 am

    Ref. no. 46

    You are compelled by the logic of your position to assert that the wilderness generation was not saved, and that is a real weakness because the Bible is unequivocal that they did indeed believe at first and were truly saved.

    (May I make the vital point here that the Bible teaches many things that are contrary to human reason. Temporary justification is one of them. The rule is that believers cannot fall, unless there is an exception, and there is very often an exception.

    Baptism as a rule conveys the graces promised – except when it doesn’t. Believers cannot fall, unless they are not elect. The existence of an exception does not nullify the rule. It fills out the picture.)

    Here is where it is said that the wilderness generation believed:

    Ex. 4:31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.
    Ex. 14:31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.

    Then, only a few weeks, even days, later, they stopped believing:

    Heb. 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

    Here we have an historical case where the covenantally elect nation believed, fell into unfaith, and were judged. The decretally elect among them stood, namely, Caleb, Joshua and others.

    Sorry, but the assertion that they didn’t believe can’t stand in the light of the plain words of scripture.

  50. GLW Johnson said,

    January 7, 2008 at 5:54 am

    Curate -Your approach to this subject is not confessional ,it is rationalistic, much like the Remonstrants who preceded you . I would be interested in knowing who you had in mind when you spoke of ‘a Reformed minority’. Who would that be? Jeff C.has pointed out that a ‘losable justification’ is explicitedly denied by Dort-and no appeal can be made to the Westminster Standards. As a matter of historical fact( something that from time to time you have personally chided the FV critics for negelecting) you cannot find support for this in ANY Reformed confession. I would also like to know if this ‘losable justification’ involves salvific things like calling, regeneration , imputation, forgiveness of both actual sins and original sin? If so, you are going to be hard pressed in dealing with Rom. 8:28-30 ( and imposing on Paul, and the WS the artificial catagories of a Decretal vs a Covenantal election, justification won’t fly). Actually, you are being a consistent Shepherdite-some of the other FVers are reading your comments and pulling on the inside of their clerical collars as they swallow hard, muttering to themselves-” Didn’t this guy get the memo from Moscow about being coy and flying under the radar! He is blowing it !” Your Arminian candor, however , is greatly appreciated as far as I am concerned. Thanks for shedding some much needed light on this debate.

  51. R. F. White said,

    January 7, 2008 at 10:53 am

    49 Curate, the plain words of Exod 4 and 14 assert that the exodus [not the wilderness] generation ‘believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.’

    Help us out by telling us where ‘the plain words of the text’ assert that the exodus generation was saved.

  52. Curate said,

    January 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Ref. no. 51

    I am confused. How are the exodus generation and the wilderness generation different? Am I missing your point?

    Here is where scripture says they were saved:

    1Cor. 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,
    2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
    3 all ate the same spiritual food,
    4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
    5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
    6   Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

  53. Curate said,

    January 7, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    and …

    Deut. 33:29 Happy are you, O Israel!
    Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD,
    The shield of your help
    And the sword of your majesty!
    Your enemies shall submit to you,
    And you shall tread down their high places.”

  54. GLW Johnson said,

    January 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Curate
    One of these days you should sit down and read the arguments advanced by the Remonstrants-the similarities between your’s and their are really quite remakable.

  55. January 7, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    [...] discussion is taking place over the term “non-elect covenant members” or NECM on Green Bagginses and the [...]

  56. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 7, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Curate (#49):

    May I make the vital point here that the Bible teaches many things that are contrary to human reason. Temporary justification is one of them. The rule is that believers cannot fall, unless there is an exception, and there is very often an exception.

    Well, let’s agree that certain things in Scripture are not entirely clear. The Trinity comes to mind immediately, as well as the precise relationship between Jesus’ human and divine natures (how *did* he manage to see Philip under the tree, but not know the day nor hour of his coming?).

    But to turn that around and say that “the Bible teaches many things contrary to human reason” appears to descend into madness. Where do we stop with this hermeneutical principle? I mean, maybe the fact that “God desires all to be saved” really means that Hell is temporary. Or maybe “Jesus is Lord” really means that “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.” (looks up nervously for lightning bolt)

    I’m sure you join me in refuting both of the above, but on what basis? At some point, we have to begin with the assumption that Scripture was designed to communicate to us, and that we should not posit lack of rationality unless there really is no other available option.

    In the case of “temporary justification”, there really is another available option — that temporary faith is outward only (like the seed sprouting on rocky ground) and is therefore not justifying. It is a reasonable account of justification that appears to account for the Biblical data.

    Now, I need to study Exodus 4 and 14 more carefully before interacting with what you have read there. I will begin by assuming that those passages are intended to communicate something that makes sense, not something that is “contrary to reason.”

    Jeff Cagle

  57. David Weiner said,

    January 7, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Jeff Cagle, re: 56,

    I had exactly the same reaction as you. So, I went to Exodus 4 and sure enough, it makes sense and does not support the contention that all of the Exodus crowd were saved (as in possessing eternal life)!

    These people did indeed believe. The statement by curate “Sorry, but the assertion that they didn’t believe can’t stand in the light of the plain words of scripture.” is indeed a true one.

    But, the question is ‘what did they believe? Well fortunately for us there are verses 4-5 in the chapter which say “But the Lord said to Moses, . . .”that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

    What they believed was not God but rather the message that Moses brought them concerning his meeting with God. Big difference: the difference between being eternally saved and then losing it and not ever having been saved at all!

  58. Roger Mann said,

    January 7, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    45: Curate wrote,

    How do we know that they were truly saved as in united to Christ and not just saved politically? Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 10 where we are told that they ate and drank from the same spiritual rock, which is Christ. That is union with Christ language that means that they received spiritual life from Christ. The OT supports this judgement by saying in so many words that they were saved.

    John Calvin makes some important distinctions in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 10, and completely destroys your assertion here (had you even read Calvin before you jumped to these wildly false conclusions?). Calvin writes:

    4. That rock was Christ. Some absurdly pervert these words of Paul, as if he had said, that Christ was the spiritual rock, and as if he were not speaking of that rock which was a visible sign, for we see that he is expressly treating of outward signs. The objection that they make — that the rock is spoken of as spiritual, is a frivolous one, inasmuch as that epithet is applied to it simply that we may know that it was a token of a spiritual mystery…

    I have, however, already stated, that the reality of the things signified was exhibited in connection with the ancient sacraments. As, therefore, they were emblems of Christ, it follows, that Christ was connected with them, not locally, nor by a natural or substantial union, but sacramentally. On this principle the Apostle says, that the rock was Christ, for nothing is more common than metonymy in speaking of sacraments. The name of the thing, therefore, is transferred here to the sign — not as if it were strictly applicable, but figuratively, on the ground of that connection which I have mentioned…

    5. But many of them. We have now the reason why the Apostle has premised these things — that we might not claim for ourselves any dignity or excellence above them, but might walk in humility and fear, for thus only shall we secure, that we have not been favored in vain with the light of truth, and with such an abundance of gracious benefits. “God,” says he, “had chosen them all as his people, but many of them fell from grace. Let us, therefore, take heed, lest the same thing should happen to us, being admonished by so many examples, for God will not suffer that to go unpunished in us, which he punished so severely in them.”

    Here again it is objected: “If it is true, that hypocrites and wicked persons in that age ate spiritual meat, do unbelievers in the present day partake of the reality in the sacraments?” Some, afraid lest the unbelief of men should seem to detract from the truth of God, teach that the reality is received by the wicked along with the sign. This fear, however, is needless, for the Lord offers, it is true, to the worthy and to the unworthy what he represents, but all are not capable of receiving it. In the meantime, the sacrament does not change its nature, nor does it lose anything of its efficacy. Hence the manna, in relation to God, was spiritual meat even to unbelievers, but because the mouth of unbelievers was but carnal, they did not eat what was given them. (Commentary on 1 Cor. 10:5)

  59. Curate said,

    January 7, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    ref. no. 56

    Jeff, if we submitted scripture to the test of reason we would have to throw a great deal out. By reason I mean of course that which passes for reason and wisdom in the world. How reasonable is it to believe in a six-day creation, or the resurrection of the dead body of a particular Jewish man called Jesus of Nazareth, so that he has attained bodily immortality? The list goes on.

    I believe all of those things not because they are reasonable, but simply because the Bible says so. If it commanded me to believe that the moon is made of Copenhagen Blue Cheese I would believe it with all my heart. That is how we put scripture in its place as the supreme authority.

    Application to the issue: we all know that scripture teaches the infallible salvation of the elect. At the same time it tells us that the wilderness generation believed, they were saved, they were baptized into Moses in the cloud and the sea, they ate and drank from the same spiritual rock that we do, which is Christ, and they fell into unbelief within days of crossing over, and were damned.

    Is it reasonable to believe both? To many it is not, and so they reject it. I say that the test of reason is irrelevant because it is in the Bible, so it is true. It is a paradox, not a contradiction.

    Hope that clarified things.

  60. Roger Mann said,

    January 7, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    59: Curate wrote,

    Is it reasonable to believe both? To many it is not, and so they reject it. I say that the test of reason is irrelevant because it is in the Bible, so it is true. It is a paradox, not a contradiction.

    No, your false interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:1-5 makes these two assertions flat contradictions not merely apparently paradoxical. Calvin clearly harmonizes them the way any good exegete/systematic theologian does.

  61. Curate said,

    January 7, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Mr. Mann, thanks for the Calvin excerpt. I didn’t find anything that I disagreed with, and I specially noted these words: Let us, therefore, take heed, lest the same thing should happen to us, being admonished by so many examples, for God will not suffer that to go unpunished in us, which he punished so severely in them.”

    This is precisely to the point! Don’t presume on your election, but fear, and obey the commandments so that you may more diligently make your calling and election sure, lest you too perish.

    PS Rich Lusk’s comments on James are not applicable to sola fide. He is sound.

  62. Curate said,

    January 7, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    The following from Calvin on 1 Corinthians 10 courtesy of Mr. Mann, post 58: “God,” says he, “had chosen them all as his people, but many of them fell from grace.

    These FVers are everywhere!

  63. GLW Johnson said,

    January 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    curate
    This may come as a big shock to you, but you are not Reformed-you are an Arminian and your appeals to Calvin are really off base- for your historical information, Arminius also made the same kind of appeals.For someone who postures himself as being keenly aware of Reformed theology-despite not being the least bit familiar with Turretin- you are even more in the dark about Arminius!

  64. R. F. White said,

    January 7, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    52 Curate, the exodus generation is the generation that experienced the exodus but was given over to death in the wilderness; the wilderness generation was born in the wilderness and entered the land.

    52-53 Curate, help us understand: from what did God save the exodus generation?

    62 Curate, help us understand how election can devolve into reprobation.

  65. Roger Mann said,

    January 7, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Mr. Mann, thanks for the Calvin excerpt. I didn’t find anything that I disagreed with…

    Well, then, you must need a remedial course in reading comprehension. For you are the type of person that Calvin was referring to when he said, “Some absurdly pervert these words of Paul,” the same way that all “untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction…the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:16). Calvin is a clear enemy of your position not its ally.

    Just as a reminder, this is what you wrote:

    How do we know that they were truly saved as in united to Christ and not just saved politically? Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 10 where we are told that they ate and drank from the same spiritual rock, which is Christ. That is union with Christ language that means that they received spiritual life from Christ. The OT supports this judgement by saying in so many words that they were saved.

    Calvin’s denunciation of your reprehensible position is clear and forthright:

    Some absurdly pervert these words of Paul, as if he had said, that Christ was the spiritual rock, and as if he were not speaking of that rock which was a visible sign, for we see that he is expressly treating of outward signs

    The name of the thing, therefore, is transferred here to the sign — not as if it were strictly applicable, but figuratively, on the ground of that connection which I have mentioned…

    Here again it is objected: “If it is true, that hypocrites and wicked persons in that age ate spiritual meat, do unbelievers in the present day partake of the reality in the sacraments?” Some, afraid lest the unbelief of men should seem to detract from the truth of God, teach that the reality is received by the wicked along with the sign. This fear, however, is needless, for the Lord offers, it is true, to the worthy and to the unworthy what he represents, but all are not capable of receiving it [namely, the reprobate]. In the meantime, the sacrament does not change its nature, nor does it lose anything of its efficacy. Hence the manna, in relation to God, was spiritual meat even to unbelievers, but because the mouth of unbelievers was but carnal, they did not eat what was given them. (Calvin’s Commentary on 1 Cor. 10:1-5)

    You plainly state that all the Israelites [elect and reprobate] were “truly saved as in united to Christ” and “that they received spiritual life from Christ.” Calvin clearly condemns such a ludicrous position, and writes that the unbelieving reprobates “are not capable of receiving” the thing signified by the sacrament and “they did not [spiritually] eat what was given them.” His entire point is that “unbelievers” (“hypocrites and wicked persons”) within the visible church do not “partake of the reality in the sacraments.” You need to repent for slandering Calvin and twisting Scripture!

  66. Roger Mann said,

    January 7, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    62: Curate wrote,

    The following from Calvin on 1 Corinthians 10 courtesy of Mr. Mann, post 58: “God,” says he, “had chosen them all as his people, but many of them fell from grace.” These FVers are everywhere!

    Yes, and “they are not all Israel who are from Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham” (Rom. 9:6-7). What a novel distinction that Calvin came up with! Again, Calvin is a clear enemy of the your position not its ally. You need to repent for slandering Calvin and twisting Scripture!

  67. Kyle said,

    January 7, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Reed,

    Thanks for bringing renewed attention to my question. I think I did ask it, in one form or another, at least three times in that thread: once of Pr. Wilson, once of Gabe Martini, and once of Andy Dollahite.

    And here again we don’t really get an answer. While Curate is busy throwing around red herrings about all of the Babdists lurking in the shadowy signs (of which I suppose I’m one, since he has elsewhere so accused me), Gabe is busy telling us nothing we haven’t already heard. (Not that it matters, since Gabe won’t speak for the FV anyway.)

    Round and round we go . . .

    But, I do look forward to reading the rest of your posts in this series, Reed.

  68. Curate said,

    January 8, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Ref 64

    Mr. White, please read what I have already written about Hebrews 3-4 and 1 Corinthians 10 to see what their salvation involved.

    Re the distinction between the exodus generation and the wilderness generation, I am using the terms synonymously.

    How can election devolve into reprobation? Decretal election cannot. National election can. The reality of the second doesn’t need proving. This applies to us because the church is the new nation that has inherited the covenants of promise from Israel since their national apostasy in crucifying the Lord. And just like them if we prove unfaithful and unbelieving we will be lost, as Paul and Calvin said.

    1 Cor 10.5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
    6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

    and

    … for God will not suffer that to go unpunished in us, which he punished so severely in them.

  69. Curate said,

    January 8, 2008 at 2:32 am

    Messrs. Johnson and Mann

    I will no longer be answering you. Your rudeness makes it impossible.

  70. Curate said,

    January 8, 2008 at 2:35 am

    Reed, Mr. White and Jeff, I am here to have a proper debate, and to date it has been enjoyable. Let’s keep it up.

  71. GLW Johnson said,

    January 8, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Curate
    I have asked you directly about your position as it relates to the Reformed confessions and you have avoided answering the question and instead take refuge behind the accusation that I have been rude to you by labelling you an Arminian. Roger, I have not called you names or the like. Rather I have identified your postion by comparing it with its historical predecessor.Not surprisingly, you are offended-but that is because you are being historically naive. This is interesting since you have repeatedly charge that we are ‘weak’ on historical theology- and I am directly responding to that charge. One of the problems that I see with many of the advocates of the FV, you being one of them, is that you are theologically inbred. By that I mean your reading appears to be restricted only to what people in your own camp write-with an occasional
    ‘cherry-picking’ expedition into the writings of Calvin to find support for you views ( and Roger Mann properly took you to task for your abuse of Calvin).You have admitted that Turretin is a stranger to you, and I would ask if you have ever taken time to read the Arminians to whom your postion is so strikingly similar. To begin with the obvious,there is the three volume , ‘The Writings of James Arminius’ trans. by J. Nichols and W.R. Bagnall that was reprinted years ago by Baker Book House. This is required reading for anyone who desires to know the views of the system that carries his name. Then there are the standard systematic theologies of the 19th cent by such capable men as William Pope, ‘A Compedium of Christian theology’ in three vols.; John Miley’s two vol. work, ‘Systematic Theology’ that was so highly thought of that Warfield wrote an extented review of it. Finally ,from that century there is the classic two vol. work of Richard Watson ,’Theological Institutes’ ( Dabney called Watson a first class theological thinker).Added to this list is the 20th,cent. three vol. work of Nazarene theologian, J. Orton Willey, ‘Christian Theology’. Anyone wishing to engage Arminian theology MUST begin here. I would add to the recommended reading list Carl Bangs’ outstanding biography of Arminius and Richard Muller’s , ‘God, Creation and Providence in the Thought of Jacob Arminius’- have you read any of these?
    On one final note, neither you or I are free to define for ourselves what it means to be ‘Reformed’- the Reformed Confessions to that-and since you cannot find the slightest support for the notion of a ‘losable justification’ in the Reformed confessions, then you cannot claim to be ‘Reformed’. On the other hand, a short walk back into the field you claim that we are so unfamiliar with reveals that a ‘ losable justification’ is associated with Arminianism. It is as simple as that.

  72. R. F. White said,

    January 8, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    68 Curate, I have read your previous posts. I am not debating you at present. I am trying first to understand your views and their bases.

    Given what you have said so far, I have some other questions.

    Would you say that the faith that saved the exodus generation was the gift of God?

    Why is it that decretal election cannot devolve into reprobation, but national election can?

  73. Curate said,

    January 8, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Ref. no. 72

    Would you say that the faith that saved the exodus generation was the gift of God?

    All faith is the gift of God, since man is totally unable to generate himself.

    Why is it that decretal election cannot devolve into reprobation, but national election can?

    Because the Bible tells me so. Israel was the elect people of God. It is not anymore. Its rejection is final. Now the Christian Church of believing Jew and Gentile is the chosen nation. “The kingdom will be taken from you and given to a people bearing its fruit.”

  74. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 8, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Curate (misc.):

    I would like to suggest a completely “new” (though really mostly “old”) paradigm for thinking about Corinthians and Ephesians.

    A central plank of the FV doctrine of the objective covenant is that there is one church, and that while we might distinguish between visible and invisible aspects of that one church, the invisible church is in effect eschatological; the concept of the invisible church is only useful when thinking about who will stand at the judgment of Christ. Meanwhile, the historic church, the one we interact with, is the visible church.

    Hence, from the FV statement:

    (1)

    We affirm that membership in the one true Christian Church is visible and objective, and is the possession of everyone who has been baptized in the triune name and who has not been excommunicated by a lawful disciplinary action of the Church.

    and again,

    (2)

    We affirm that there is only one true Church, and that this Church can legitimately be considered under various descriptions, including the aspects of visible and invisible. We further affirm that the visible Church is the true Church of Christ, and not an “approximate” Church.

    The arguments that you have made here have been entirely consistent with (1) and (2), and I would speculate that you see the Church in precisely this way, yes?

    The exegetical underpinnings for (1) and (2) appear to be the fact that within 1 Cor and Eph, statements that are normally attributed to the members of the “invisible church” (1 Cor 6.1-11, Eph 1.5-14) are mixed in together with statements normally attributed to the “visible church” (1 Cor 10.1-11, Eph 4.25) and warnings to stand firm.

    Because these statements are intermixed without any clear indication marking some as “to the invisible church” and others “to the entire visible church”, Wilkins and others argue that we must read them consistently. That is, that the pronoun “you” must, in general, refer to the same group of people. Else, 1 Cor and Eph become fragmented documents that get cherry-picked for theological systems but cannot be read as whole letters.

    What group of people is “you”? Wilkins argues that it must be the addressees — that is, the visible church.

    Of course, the problems with this reading have been thoroughly hashed out here:

    It leads precisely to a soteriology that is pragmatically Arminian and explicitly contradictory to the Canons of Dort wrt the understanding of NECMs, and explicitly (Jordan) or implicitly (Wilkins) contradictory to the Scriptural doctrine of definitive sanctification. It is incoherent. “You” are sealed with a guarantee of your inheritance — but the inheritance is not guaranteed. “You” have been predestined to adoption — but the predestination isn’t decretal predestination. “You” have been (past tense) forgiven of your sins — except that some of “you” are going to be judged for your sins. “You” used to be wicked but have now been washed and sanctified (1 Cor 6.11), except that some of “you” are wicked (1 Cor 5.1-13).The reading pushes the invisible church entirely into the eschaton, while the statements normally attributed to the “invisible church” are clearly present realities in both of those epistles.

    As a result, the FV soteriology has been forced to qualify the objective covenant in terms of salvation “in some sense.” And while there has been some attempt to specify which sense that is, it has turned out to be somewhere between “very, very hard” and “impossible” to specify a sense in which the objective covenant readings can be true AND standard Reformed soteriology can be true. Or a sense in which the objective covenant readings can encompass the full exegesis of the books in question.

    Now, I have sympathy for the point that motives the objective covenant. The factual basis on which the “objective covenant” rests is correct: there is a mixture in both of those epistles of statements that *must* apply to the invisible church and statements that *must* apply to the visible church.

    It was 1 Cor after all that lead Murray to conclude that there is but one church with visible and invisible aspects, NOT two different churches, and I am persuaded that Murray is essentially correct.

    So: what can we do with that factual basis besides the “objective covenant”?

    Here’s my suggestion, following the lead of Frame’s perspectivalist thought:

    There is but one Church. Those who properly belong to that church are those who have genuine, justifying faith (following Murray here). However, our knowledge of that one church is imprecise (parable of wheat and tares; “God knows who are his”). As a result, when we either address the church or even contemplate ourselves in relationship to that church, the noetic effects of sin prevent us from knowing perfectly who is in the church and who is not.

    (Notice that the FV claim that the visible church is not “an approximate church” is false even on its own terms. Are Philips, Craig, and Dean (Christian(?) singers whose church is squishy on the Trinity) members of the visible church or not? Are the modern Donatists, the community churches who baptize and serve the Lord’s supper but do not have membership rolls, a part of the visible church or not? These counterexamples show that our knowledge of even the visible church is “approximate” only.)

    As we pursue knowledge concerning the church, we have three different perspectives from which to ask and answer the question, “What is the Church, and who belongs in it?”

    Normatively, we are obligated to view all those who are baptized into the name of Christ and members in good standing of a local church as members of the Church. That is to say, when we read normative commands in, say, Ephesians 4 concerning our obligation to fellow church members, the object of those commands are, essentially, the Visible Church. What is the Church? Normatively, it is the Visible Church. This explains, for example, how to live in light of 1 Cor 11 – 14.

    Situationally, we view all those who actually have living faith as members of the Church and those who do not, as non-members of the Church. This is what Murray means when he says that only genuine believers have a right to be in the Church. As a simple matter of fact, only those who have “received the right to become children of God” (which happens through genuine faith) are actual church members. This is why Paul tells the church to expel the immoral brother. In terms of a matter of fact, his behavior is prima facie evidence that he is not a “true believer.” Thus, he has no right to be in the church. What is the church? Situationally, it is the Invisible Church.

    Existentially, as we consider our own hearts, we view ourselves as belonging to the Church through the lens of assurance. The means of our salvation is through faith; we examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Cor 13), and we receive assurance through the various means mentioned in Scripture. What is the church? Existentially, it is my home, my family, and my body — if indeed I am in Christ.

    Now, much much more can be said about this. But I believe that this way of viewing the Church allows for Eph and 1 Cor to be read as unified documents, while still allowing for diversity in reading the various passages I mentioned above. I also believe that this way of viewing the Church allows us to handle “problem” passages like Heb. 10.26-31 without having to “tame” them into irrelevancy.

    What do you think?

    Jeff Cagle

  75. R. F. White said,

    January 8, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    73 Curate, one more question. What was the basis of the election of Israel?

  76. Curate said,

    January 9, 2008 at 2:11 am

    Ref. 74

    1. Jeff, has it occurred to you that you have accused Augustine and Luther of Arminianism? They believed in absolute predestination and in a loseable salvation too. Yet you are saying that they had a … soteriology that is pragmatically Arminian.

    What does this tell us about your brand of Calvinism? Has it crossed the line into Hyper-Calvinism? In many cases it has.

    2. I notice that no-one is dealing with the scriptures I quoted which state that Israel believed in Egypt, were saved, and then fell into unbelief in the wilderness. While it disappointing, it is no surprise. Exegesis is for sissies and Arminians.

  77. Curate said,

    January 9, 2008 at 2:13 am

    Ref. 75.

    What do you think?

  78. Ron Henzel said,

    January 9, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Curate,

    I see nothing rude in Gary Johnson’s assessment of your theological position. How does it offend you?

  79. GLW Johnson said,

    January 9, 2008 at 6:40 am

    curate
    Roger, did you know that there were Lutherans who complained that the findings of the Synod of Dort were directed against them? Yes, there are elements in both Augustine and even Luther himself ( and not just the Lutherans who later followed the lead of Melanchthon )that are out of harmony with the Reformed Confessions. This does not make the Reformed confessions like Dort and Westminster ‘Hyper-Calvinistic’ .More to the point of this discussion, you are equally out of step with the Reformed confessions with you uniquely Arminian understanding of a ‘losable justification’, which I suppose would make the Calvinism of Dort and Westminster look decidely ‘hyper’ to someone like you.

  80. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 7:06 am

    Ref. #76:

    Not quite fair Roger. There has been some engagement on your point that the Exodus generation was saved. You just aren’t satisfied with it. That doesn’t mean no one hasn’t been willing to join you in at least being a sissy.

    More importantly, I think Dr. White asked a crucial question to moving this point forward, namely, please explain in what way this generation was saved.

    Not a trick question, but one that goes to a continual complaint we opposed believe truly applies to many FV advocates, namely, what does “saved” mean iin this context. The usual FV mantra goes something like “both ECM and RCM are united to Christ and possess a JF, at least temporarily.” When we call foul, y’all jump on us for not recognizing you are speaking of 2 (supposedly) different unions at the same time.

    The question here is significant for the conclusions you draw. “Saved” in Scripture, like in ordinary conversation, has a range of meanings. Which one(s) do you think are required by the text(s)?

  81. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 9, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Curate (#76):

    Jeff, has it occurred to you that you have accused Augustine and Luther of Arminianism?

    That would be anachronistic. I am “accusing” Augustine and Luther of having a tension in their theology that was resolved at Dort as Reformed theology matured. There were other ways to resolve that tension. The Catholic church retained Augustine’s belief in losable justification while rejecting his version of predestinarianism. The Lutheran church did something similar, though with different details.

    I put forward a serious proposal that aims to retain some of the positive pastoral features of the FV while avoiding some of the problematic errors.

    Are you willing to interact with it?

    Jeff

  82. R. F. White said,

    January 9, 2008 at 8:34 am

    76 Curate, your point 2 is surprising. Some of us are actually trying to understand what you believe and why you believe it. Before there is agreement or disagreement, there has to be understanding. Avoid petulance.

  83. Curate said,

    January 9, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Ref. 80

    (Rant coming up)

    Yes, I know that it is anachronistic, but you got my point, didn’t you? What would you have me call it?

    Yes, I am willing to interact with your argument, but not yet. It is seriously flawed, and you have to interact with me first as courtesy demands. You have not made a serious attempt to interact with my argument. Israel believed in Egypt, then they disbelieved in the wilderness. They too ate and drank form Christ. Then they were condemned.

    Perhaps you feel that it has been addressed, but I do not. Gary Johnson and Roger Mann’s posts were so embarrassingly bad I didn’t have the energy to deal with them. Are you saying with them that Israel did NOT eat and drink from the rock, and are you saying that they were never at any time believers? Really?

    If so then I will have to bow out, because then there is no possibility of serious interaction when the plain words of the Bible are so disrespected.

    You still have to deal with these biblical facts, whether they fit your system or not.
    Make your system fit the Bible.

    If I have the facts wrong then show me from the Bible. Show me that they never believed, show me that that fell from a state of non-salvation. Tell me what the point of 1 Corinthians 10 is, if that is the case. Answer these questions please.

    Exegesis first, and then theology.

    (Rant over)

  84. GLW Johnson said,

    January 9, 2008 at 8:50 am

    I am curious curate why my repeated requests for you to find support for your brand of ‘Reformed’ theology in any Reformed confessions are continually ignored and you resort constantly to this childish kind of evasive manuvering of putting your hands over your ears and shouting ” Naha, naha, naha, I can’t hear you!”

  85. Curate said,

    January 9, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Ref. 79

    Saved means the opposite of not saved. You need to explain to me how it is possible for the exodus generation to be saved “in some sense” (heavy irony) but not in the full sense. You see, I am not saying that they were saved “in some sense”, as you are. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 10 that they ate and drank from Christ, but the Roger Mann’s of this world insist that that means that they did NOT eat and drink.

    How can one eat and drink of the spiritual rock while being a reprobate? In my version of the confessions it explicitly denies that such a thing is possible. Deal with that.

  86. GLW Johnson said,

    January 9, 2008 at 9:19 am

    curate
    Help me out here- in my very limited exposure to the Reformed tradition I have yet to discover your version of the confessions- is there such a thing? What is called-‘Roger’s Confessions’? Where can I find a copy? When was it drawn up? What churches have adopted it?

  87. R. F. White said,

    January 9, 2008 at 10:00 am

    84 The exodus generation was saved from slavery in Pharaoh’s kingdom, not from slavery to their sins, including unbelief and apostasy.

    They ate and drank from the spiritual rock, all right, but in the state of bondage to their sins, including unbelief.

  88. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Ref. #85:

    Roger, there you go again, putting words into my mouth. I never said they were saved “in some sense.” You read into my question. Not fair and a rather silly mistake. Please, no more.

    I am asking you to differentiate, to remove the possibility of equivocation on your part, or misunderstanding on ours. Words have a range of meanings. Which one(s) are you meaning.

    Use a vulgar (common) example. The modern movie Titanic has a line in it in which the old lady (the heroine), looking back on Jack’s action to keep her alive, says, “He saved me in every way a person can be saved.” (Sense accurate, a few words may be off). What does she mean?

    Clearly in the context she means that Jack saved her from a bad marriage, a restricted lifestyle (read moral), the freedom to pursue a life of proto-feminism (the pictures of her life represent this), as well as physical life. She means spiritual salvation in some new-ageish mumbo jumbo manner. What she does not mean is saved as in the regenerative sense.

    A word has a range of meanings.

    Saul saved the Jabeshites (1Sam 11:1ff.) – temporal salvation. God saved Daniel in the lion’s den – temporal salvation.

    When you say that the Exodus generation was saved, what do you mean? Differentiate it for us. Do you mean saved as the ECM? Do you mean saved in a manner that merely had the temporal appearance of ECM salvation, but was something different? Do you mean saved in a manner parallel to but not the same as that experienced by the ECM, but nevertheless a salvation that is more than temporal?

    Of course, then support your position by exegesis. No arguments that I am asking you to theologize before exegesis. I am asking you to exegete and coordinate. Don’t give us a flat statement in one passage that lends itself to equivocation and then give us a contradicting statement from a different passage. Coordinate them, as surely as the Scirptures themselves do.

  89. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Ref. #87:

    Roger, note Dr. White’s point – they ate and drank as unbelievers. Is this not the exact same as the following passage in 1 Cor. 11, where those who eat and drink in an unbelieving manner eat and drink judgement to themselves?

    Its not that they were ever saved. Its that they were unbelievers partaking of that which is only received by JF, not TF. (1John 2:19).

  90. R. F. White said,

    January 9, 2008 at 10:23 am

    It seems to me that we have to conclude they ate and drank in unbelief, else God would not have given them over to death.

    More generally, of apostates like the exodus generation, Scripture says that, seeing, they did not see; hearing, they did not hear. They had knowledge, but their knowledge was according to the flesh (cf. 1 Cor 1:26), not the Spirit (1 Cor 2:6-16; Matt 13:11). So we can reasonably say, eating, they did not eat; drinking, they did not drink–and yes, believing, they did not believe.

  91. David Weiner said,

    January 9, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I would really appreciate somebody telling me why post #57 did not put the ‘did they or did they not believe’ question to bed.

  92. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Ref. #91:

    David, it happens sometimes that you miss a post.

    Roger, what do you think of David’s answer to you (see no. 57)?

  93. Curate said,

    January 9, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Reed and Mr. White, when we take another look at the exodus account, there is a transition in the faith condition of Israel from Egypt into the wilderness. In Egypt they believe and obey, and they are saved. They cross the Red Sea, and greatly rejoice and praise GOD for the destruction of the Egyptians. At this point they are not under God’s wrath, but under grace and mercy.

    The text tells that they believed God and gloried in him. God’s attitude toward them is one of loving care, not wrath.

    This changes almost immediately upon the first test of Israel, where for three days God withholds food and water. They grumble, and immediately their faith is turned to unbelief/lack of trust, and God’s attitude changes to hostility. From here on it is all downhill for that generation until they are all dead.

    Therefore it is too simplistic to say that they ate and drank in unbelief, unless we add that they started off eating and drinking in faith. That is the whole point of why they are an example to us. They started well but fell through subsequent unbelief. We have begun well, but we must continue in faith and trust lest we fall like they did.

    I have great difficulty accepting that God saved Israel from Egypt when they were in a state of rebellion, and confining salvation to deliverance from slavery. God does not respond to unbelief with salvation, but judgement. There is a clear transition from grace to wrath, and from faith to unbelief.

    They started off eating and drinking life, and then they ate and drank death.

  94. January 9, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Roger, #93,

    I have great difficulty accepting that God saved Israel from Egypt when they were in a state of rebellion, and confining salvation to deliverance from slavery. God does not respond to unbelief with salvation, but judgement.

    Really? That’s how he saves the elect. Try Eph 2:1 and Col 2:13.

    There are always tares amongst the wheat, and the tares were never saved but only fit for the fire. I wrote several posts on this. Remember the remnant of only 7000 who had not bowed a knee to Baal? The clear implication is that the rest were not saved.

  95. Matt Beatty said,

    January 9, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Dr. White,

    Perhaps you could speak to the boldfaced comments in the Curate’s last post (at least for MY benefit), if for no-one else. To wit: Why is Israel’s judgment used as an example to the Corinthians (and to you and me)? On your reading, Paul would appear to be telling them, “You Corinthians are unbelievers, just like your unbelieving ancestors. You never were in (though you drank and ate from Christ), though you THOUGHT you were. In point of fact, however, you were never, in any way, part of the people of God.”

    Thank you.

  96. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 9, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Curate (#83):

    Yes, I am willing to interact with your argument, but not yet. It is seriously flawed, and you have to interact with me first as courtesy demands. You have not made a serious attempt to interact with my argument. Israel believed in Egypt, then they disbelieved in the wilderness. They too ate and drank form Christ. Then they were condemned.

    It’s hot in here. I apologize if I said something discourteous. It was certainly my intent to provide a method for reading 1 Cor in a way that includes 1 Cor 10.

    Here’s how that reading would function: What is Israel? That is, who is it that believed in Egypt, then disbelieved in the wilderness? Who is it that ate and drank from Christ and then were condemned?

    On my reading, true Israel, “Israel as it really is”, consists of those who walked by faith. Cf. Rom. 2-3, 9-11 on this.

    But because our knowledge is imperfect, we approach it from different perspectives. Who was in fact rescued by God and therefore *should* have believed? The entire assembly — visible Israel. (And their children and servants, BTW; some were born in the wilderness and were not actually rescued from Egypt. Nevertheless, they were obligated to worship God). Normatively, Israel is the visible community.

    Who was it that actually had belief and were therefore pleasing to God? The invisible Israel, the “decretal” Israel. Situationally, Israel is the set of believers.

    And because there is a difference between those two sets, God provides discipline, such as mentioned in 1 Cor 10, in order to bring about greater conformity between the two.

    Thus, some in the visible church shared in the water from the rock and shared in the delivery from Egypt. But they did not believe. Therefore, God expelled them from the community. Link this over to 1 Cor 5.

    Church discipline, then, is an attempt to reconcile our knowledge of the church along the situational-normative side of the triangle.

    And finally, existentially, as individual Corinthians read Paul’s letter, they are to examine themselves in order to determine whether they are in the faith — 1 Cor 10.11-13 and cf. 1 Cor 11.27-32.

    Our knowledge of the church is *always* approximate, and the ambiguities that drive you to concepts like losable justification are better seen (IMO) as fuzziness in our knowledge.

    Does that help?
    Jeff

  97. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Ref. #93 (#88):

    So Roger is it fair to understand you to be saying that the Exodus generation was saved in the sense of the ECM? If not, in what other sense.

    Please, the Scripture makes such distinctions (cf. John 2:20-23). We need to do likewise.

    It may be that you just do not have time, but you really do need to distinguish for us if we are not to simply conclude that you equivocate on the meaning of saved.

    “They were saved, then they weren’t,” is the summary of what I’ve heard you say so far. I’m not so naive as to assume that you’re merely offering an Arminian position. No, its actually worse at this point. We can’t tell what you are espousing – and confusion is never a blessing.

  98. R. F. White said,

    January 9, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    95 — Matt Beatty, thanks for the question and for the opportunity to clarify.

    As I see it, Israel’s judgment is used as an example for the Corinthian Christians and for us Christians because, like our fathers in the exodus generation, we are in the wilderness between exodus and entry. In the wilderness, the temptations to apostasy are real, and we will not escape from those temptations and God’s wrath against those who succumb to apostasy unless we use the way of escape appointed for their avoidance.

    On my reading, then, Paul is saying, “You Corinthians, as you come face to face with temptations, should be sure not to follow the example of our fathers in the exodus generation, who yielded to temptations and died under God’s wrath. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

  99. GLW Johnson said,

    January 9, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Reed
    Actually, as I have pointed out, curate’s arguments are striking similar to those made by Arminius and the Remonstrants and later refined by the noted Arminian theologians that I earlier referenced. Roger thinks that by drawing these parallels I am being rude and unnecessarily offensive- but I am not doing anything other than what a professor would do if Roger put forth this same kind of thing in a graduate level course in historical theology.

  100. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Ref. #99:
    Gary:

    I hear yah! I’m sure Roger does too.

    Y’know I often have to remind myself that the flatness of the digital communication is a weakness I must keep in mind. Far too often what sounds like rudeness, if the person were face to face smiling while he said it, I’d take it with a grain of salt and smile right back.

  101. January 9, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I have learned that, while Calvin is sometimes wrong, Calvin’s commentary on verses like these is indispensible and cannot be brushed aside without contending with it. FV recklessly brushes aside his exposition of I Corinthians 10 just as it does with his commentary on James 2.

    Sorry, FV folks. You’re going to have to man up and do a lot better than that if you want your novelties and tinkerings to hold sway on the Reformed world. To do otherwise does not do intellectual justice to either Scripture or our Reformed heritage.

  102. Roger Mann said,

    January 9, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    69: Curate wrote,

    I will no longer be answering you. Your rudeness makes it impossible.

    If you don’t want to answer me, fine and dandy. But if that’s how you want to play the game, then stop taking cowardly cheap shots at me in your subsequent posts!

    85:

    How can one eat and drink of the spiritual rock while being a reprobate?

    The quotation I provided from Calvin already answered that question, but you simply ignored it as if it didn’t exist. So, since you apparently missed it, here’s the quote one more time:

    Some absurdly pervert these words of Paul, as if he had said, that Christ was the spiritual rock, and as if he were not speaking of that rock which was a visible sign, for we see that he is expressly treating of outward signs… The name of the thing, therefore, is transferred here to the sign — not as if it were strictly applicable, but figuratively, on the ground of that connection which I have mentioned… (Calvin’s Commentary on 1 Cor. 10:1-5)

    That’s how one can “eat and drink of the spiritual rock while being a reprobate” — by eating and drinking only the outward elements as unbelieving hypocrites.

    Paul tells us in 1 Cor 10 that they ate and drank from Christ, but the Roger Mann’s of this world insist that that means that they did NOT eat and drink.

    Actually it was the “John Calvin’s of this world” who insisted on this — I was simply quoting him. You really should get your facts straight before taking cheap shots at people. It makes you look quite foolish! Here’s the Calvin quote once again. Pay attention now — this is really not that difficult to follow:

    Here again it is objected: “If it is true, that hypocrites and wicked persons in that age ate spiritual meat, do unbelievers in the present day partake of the reality in the sacraments?” Some, afraid lest the unbelief of men should seem to detract from the truth of God, teach that the reality [i.e., Christ and His benefits] is received by the wicked along with the sign. This fear, however, is needless, for the Lord offers, it is true, to the worthy and to the unworthy what he represents, but all are not capable of receiving it [namely, the reprobate]. In the meantime, the sacrament does not change its nature, nor does it lose anything of its efficacy. Hence the manna, in relation to God, was spiritual meat even to unbelievers, but because the mouth of unbelievers was but carnal, they did not eat what was given them. (Calvin’s Commentary on 1 Cor. 10:1-5)

    As you can plainly see, it was John Calvin Himself who said that the unbelieving Israelites “did not [spiritually] eat what was given them,” not the “Roger Mann’s of this world.” I do, however, agree with Calvin on this point — so that must make me a “hyper-Calvinist” in your unique FV view of reality!

  103. GLW Johnson said,

    January 9, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    curate
    With all due respect to Roger Mann- and I share his frustration with your antics- I have not used his language in my comments about you. But you really brought this on yourself. You steadfastly avoid anything that goes contrary to your claims, even when faced with the evidence that flies in the face of your assertions. What do you hope to gain by this? This is a forum for theological discussion and debate-not a wrestling contest to see who can get out of tight spots by hook or crook. You are hopelessly trapped in a corner with no way to escape. Time to get out the white flag and surrender. You have been routed on the field of battle. No use playing the part of the black knight in the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie.

  104. David R. McCrory said,

    January 9, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    “but all are not capable of receiving it… because the mouth of unbelievers was but carnal, they did not eat what was given them ”

    ~ The blessings and benefits of union and communion with Christ are only recieved by electing, saving faith alone. It is really that simple.

  105. Matt Beatty said,

    January 9, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Dr. White,

    Thanks for your response; I appreciate your taking the time.

  106. Curate said,

    January 10, 2008 at 3:00 am

    If I impose order upon the sequence of events that some of you have argued, we end up with this:

    1. Israel did not believe in Egypt. When the text says that they did it means that they believed an arbitrary piece of info about Moses being sent from YHWH. David W, could you please expand upon why this is not the gospel? I am not getting your point.
    2. Israel was always under God’s wrath, right from the beginning, except for Moses, Joshua and Caleb.
    3. They were always unbelievers. In what way then are they an example to us again, and a warning against falling?
    4. What did they fall from, since they were never in a state of grace?

    I would appreciate a precis response on the above points.

  107. Curate said,

    January 10, 2008 at 3:01 am

    a last point:

    5. There is no transition from faith to unbelief with that generation. Is that right?

  108. Ron Henzel said,

    January 10, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Curate,

    1. 1 Cor. 10 does not call the message that they were commanded to believe “the gospel.” The message they refused to believe was the promise of a land.
    2. “Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert” (1 Cor. 10:5). Note the phrase, “with most of them.” I don’t know that Scripture authorizes us to limit the number of believers to Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. Moses would be an example of a believer who did not enter the promised land for reasons other than unbelief.
    3. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12).
    4. They *thought* they were standing. They fell from their position of presumption.
    5. Correct.

  109. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 10, 2008 at 8:47 am

    My precise response would be that Israel was not homogeneous. Within Visible Israel, there were some who believed (as Calvin says, “the Church of God was in their midst”). And there were some who did not.

    And some of those who did not had deceived themselves, believing that their status as circumcised members of Visible Israel protected them from God’s wrath.

    So if you take Visible Israel at any one given moment and divide it into three groups: clear reprobates, deceived and deceiving reprobates, and true believers, we can clearly see now both how God’s providence worked in Israel *and also* how the warning in 1 Cor 10 functions.

    The clear reprobates are dealt with via the Law: expulsion and/or death is to be their fate. This corresponds to the expulsion of unbelievers as in 1 Cor 5.

    The deceived and deceiving reprobates are dealt with by God directly. The Lord knows who are His, and he arranges for times of testing so as to prune off unbelieving branches. This corresponds to the death of hypocrites mentioned in 1 Cor 11, as well as the scene in Acts 5.

    But also, in God’s decrees, *some* who are deceived and deceiving reprobates can turn from their wickedness. The discipline visibly inflicted by God on some can be the means for others to fear the Lord and repent from their wickedness.

    This is the intent, for example, of the death of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu (cf. Lev. 10.3).

    It is also the intent of the warning in 1 Cor 10.

    Think about it: given a belief that you and I share, that the elect will in fact persevere, the warning in 1 Cor 10 is technically irrelevant wrt the salvation of those people. Warning or no warning, the elect will stand (though God could use that warning to help them stand, as Lane has pointed out).

    But the warning is not addressed to them; rather, it is addressed to those who “think they stand” but who are in danger of falling. That is, it is addressed to the deceived and deceiving reprobates. And it functions in God’s providence to bring some of them to repentance.

    So the picture is *not* that some people are currently believing but wavering, standing on the edge of a knife. That kind of “faith” is decried by James as ineffective faith (cf. Jas. 1.6-7).

    Rather, the picture is that some people are unaware of their own hearts, and need to measure themselves according to their behavior wrt the body (1 Cor 11), wrt following Christ v. partisanship (1 Cor 1-3), and thus repent and believe.

    So why do Moses does address the entire group of Israel instead of singling out the hypocrites among them? Why is the entire Corinthian epistle addressed to the entire church? The answer now is very clear: the hypocrites *don’t know* that they are hypocrites. All within the Visible Church need to consider the question, “Is it possible that I am among those who thinks that he stands?” Or in Confessional language, even believers who have assurance of their salvation need to consider whether they have a vain and carnal hope.

    Jeff Cagle

  110. David Weiner said,

    January 10, 2008 at 10:41 am

    ref: 106,

    curate said: 1. Israel did not believe in Egypt. When the text says that they did it means that they believed an arbitrary piece of info about Moses being sent from YHWH. David W, could you please expand upon why this is not the gospel? I am not getting your point.

    The comment to which you are here referring addressed only the first of the passages (Exodus 4:31) which you identified as supportive of your contention that Israel believed and therefore was saved. In comment #49 you said: the Bible is unequivocal that they did indeed believe at first and were truly saved. You followed this with: Here is where it is said that the wilderness generation believed: Ex. 4:31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.

    Exodus 4:31 does not teach (IMHO) that these people (all of them????) were saved (i.e., possessed ever so briefly, eternal life). Nor does characterizing the content of what they believed as some arbitrary piece of info about Moses solve the problem. For, the gospel is not believe anything that contains the word God and you will be saved. What they believed was not something which God had told them and into which they were to put their trust through faith. What was going on with the Israelites upon leaving Egypt had nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just because God was involved (He is involved in everything, no?) does not make it a matter of eternal life. It takes eisegesis to make this passage about saving faith. Does this help in any way to clarify my earlier point?

  111. Curate said,

    January 10, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Ref. 108 and 110

    Both you have made the interesting observation that what Israel believed was not the gospel. This is the key of the argument that Israel did not at any time believe. It would be fair to say that most of the posters would agree with you.

    The fly in the ointment is this verse from Hebrews 4:2: For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them (the exodus generation); but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

    In my opinion the following from Exodus 4.31 is the same gospel:So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.

    The gospel is all the promises God made to Abraham, summarized as blessing I will bless you. The promise of deliverance from Egypt is linked to the promise of the lad, all of which are part of the promises, and thus part of the gospel that they had preaches to them.

    In the Exodus passage they are believing that the promise of deliverance from slavery made to Abraham is coming true, and by the time they were in the wilderness they had ceased to believe.

  112. Curate said,

    January 10, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Ref. 109

    Jeff, a very cogent argument, and one that I can mostly agree with. I think that your reading of 1 Corinthians is articulate and possible. The deceived and deceiving could be any of us, so we have to check ourselves. No problem.

    I still remain to be convinced that 1 Cor 10 teaches that the eating and drinking were a participation in the outward sign only, not the inner grace. I think that you are deducing that from your theology, not the text itself, especially if we put it next to Hebrews 6 and 10.

    An interesting point arises from your thesis re the self-deceiving hypocrite and assurance. If any of us could be a Cylon, and we need to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith, what does that do to our assurance that we are indeed the true election? How would that be different in practice from temporary faith?

  113. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 10, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Curate (#112):

    How would that be different in practice from temporary faith?

    Excellent question. It’s this: do we become what we are, or are what we become?

    From an “eternal perspective”, the answer is “both.” This is how I interpret the conditionals like “if indeed you remain steadfast,…”

    But from a temporal perspective, the perseverance of the saints lands squarely with the former. We “work out our salvation” in the sense of becoming what we really are. The root produces the fruit.

    Hence, God’s work of definitive sanctification in us produces (via the Holy Spirit) the result. We become sanctified because we have already been sanctified.

    Temporary justification, OTOH, would argue that we are what we become; that is, *if* we persevere, then we become “those who have persevered.” And if not, then we become “those who fall away.” I think the causation is backwards.

    Jeff Cagle

  114. David Weiner said,

    January 10, 2008 at 11:38 am

    curate, re: 111,

    There is all sorts of good news. For example, “you just won the lottery” is good news. However, the good news about the lottery has nothing to do with eternity.

    You quote Hebrews 4:2 (the fly in the ointment) as: “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them (the exodus generation); but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

    Well, I don’t see how you can have it both ways. Exodus 4:31 says they believed; Hebrews 4:2 says they didn’t have faith. Which is it? For if one puts these two verses together a garbled message results. The references for both verses must be different.

    Both groups (we and they) in Hebrews 4:2 had heard good news. The particular content of both messages is not indicated in that verse. Again, eisegesis is needed to see the message as being the gospel of Jesus Christ in both cases. Take a look at Acts 8:35 where the same verb is used and translated as telling good news. Here Luke added about Jesus. Without this added information, one must guess as to what good news Phillip was preaching.

  115. its.reed said,

    January 10, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Ref. #114:

    Roger, Jesus’ teaching on two types of belief is the biblical path out of the valid conundrum David presents here.

    Consider John 2:23-25:

    “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”

    Jesus clearly observes two different kinds of belief in his admirers. To one kind (inferred from the broader context), possessed by his disciples, he responds with entrusting himself to them. To the other, possessed by the undifferentiated crowds, he did not entrust himself to them.

    What was the difference between these two types of belief? Following the explanation of Scripture, Turretin calls one JF and the other TF.

    This is the answer to the dilemma your either-or scenario for the Exodus generation (“either they believed or didn’t, or they believed for a time and then stopped.”) You are not recognizing that the Bible does teaches two different kinds of faith, not 2 different varieties of the same faith.

    The Exodus generation is an example. They believed (TF), they did nont believe (JF). Different kinds of belief, not a temporary experience on the same kind.

    All those in the crowds around Jesus to whom He did not entrust himself (in spite of their belief) are another example. Don’t limit yourself in your options when Scripture clearly teaches such options.

  116. R. F. White said,

    January 10, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    The citations from Exod 4 and Heb 4, with John 2, focus the issues: not only is it a question of what they believed, but also what the nature of their faith was. In other words, we have it both ways because Scripture gives it to us both ways.

  117. Curate said,

    January 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Ref. 113

    A self-deceived hypocrite is sure that he is truly elect. How can I know whether I am a self-deceived hypocrite or a true believer? What is the experiential, existential, difference?

  118. Curate said,

    January 10, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Ref. 114

    Hebrews 4:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them (the exodus generation)

    This text makes it clear that we have heard the same gospel. Note the words as well. I am not saying that they had all the info that we have, but it is still essentially the same gospel of the kingdom. There is not more than one gospel.

    BTW gospel only really means good news if one transliterates the Old English word “gospel”. The original word does not have a single English equivalent. It means “tidings regarding the kingdom”. Whether the evangel is good news or not depends.

    So then, the tidings of the kingdom was preached to us as well as to them. It is the kingdom of David, upon whose throne the Lord Jesus is now reigning.

  119. Curate said,

    January 10, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Ref 114

    Reed, I have no problem with the two types of faith described in John. The issue for me is whether this bogus faith is the same thing as temporary faith. Maybe there are three types of faith, not just two.

  120. Curate said,

    January 10, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Ref. 116

    Please expand. The little you have given us is intriguing.

  121. GLW Johnson said,

    January 10, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    curate
    As an ARMINIAN posing as a Calvinist, you don’t have y assurance at all. This is self-evident based on everything you have previously said.

  122. Ron Henzel said,

    January 10, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Curate,

    You wrote: “BTW gospel only really means good news if one transliterates the Old English word ‘gospel’.”

    On the contrary, when you transliterate the Greek word for “gospel” (εὐαγγέλιον) you get euangelion, which in classical Greek referred to the reward a messenger received for bringing good news, as when Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey said, “εὐαγγέλιον δέ μοι ἔστω” (“And let me have a reward for bearing good tidings”) [14.152], but by the first century referred to the good news itself, as when Josephus wrote in The Wars of the Jews, “Φλώρῳ μὲν οὐ̂ν δεινὸν εὐαγγέλιον ἠ̂ν” (“Now this terrible message was good news to Florus”) [2.420]. Both the usage and etymology of εὐαγγέλιον are strongly against your position.

    You wrote: “The original word does not have a single English equivalent.” I’ve already demonstrated that the word changed in meaning over time, but unless by the word “equivalent” you actually mean “referent,” I think you’re overstating your case, especially with reference to the word’s usage in the New Testament. And even if you only intend to say that εὐαγγέλιον does not have a single referent in all contexts, the same truism applies equally to English words, rendering the observation irrelevant.

    You wrote: “It means ‘tidings regarding the kingdom’.” Since you have already denied that εὐαγγέλιον has a single English equivalent, I assume that instead of supplying one here you are indicating that this is the word’s referent in Hebrews 4:2. But where is the concept of the kingdom addressed anywhere in the context of this verse? Indeed, outside a couple of future-looking references in Deuteronomy 17, where is the the concept of the kingdom addressed in the Pentateuchal narrative to which the author of Hebrews refers?

    Curate wrote, “Whether the evangel is good news or not depends.” Could you kindly supply us with a single place in biblical literature where εὐαγγέλιον does not mean “good news?”

  123. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 10, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    GWJ (#121):

    As an ARMINIAN posing as a Calvinist, you don’t have y assurance at all. This is self-evident based on everything you have previously said.

    It took a second read to realize that you were saying that “Arminians don’t believe in assurance”, as opposed to my first read, “Since you’re an Arminian, I’m not sure you’re really saved!”

    Jeff

  124. Curate said,

    January 10, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Ref. 122

    But where is the concept of the kingdom addressed anywhere in the context of this verse?

    Where do I begin? I think that this is off topic, but I recommend David Seccombe’s the King of God’s Kingdom.

    Could you kindly supply us with a single place in biblical literature where εὐαγγέλιον does not mean “good news?”

    In every instance where it was rejected. To them it became bad news of judgement.

  125. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 10, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Curate (#117):

    A self-deceived hypocrite is sure that he is truly elect. How can I know whether I am a self-deceived hypocrite or a true believer? What is the experiential, existential, difference?

    Surely this is what assurance is all about, yes? The fruit we bear; the internal witness of the Spirit; our obedience to Christ and connection to his body — these all function as cumulative evidence that we are truly connected rather than not. (And if at any point we suspect “not”, then the cure is not to go bear a lot of fruit. Rather, it is to *believe* the promises of God, and then act accordingly).

    I think it’s entirely possible that someone might evaluate himself more positively than he deserves. That’s part of the reason we have church discipline.

    If you’re willing to see the fuzzy edges that we’ve been discussion as problems of knowledge rather than some kind of dual ontology (“saved, but only in a sense”), then I suspect it will clear up a lot of the exegetical problems.

    Jeff

  126. Ron Henzel said,

    January 10, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Curate,

    In response to my question, “But where is the concept of the kingdom addressed anywhere in the context of this verse [Heb. 4:2]?” you wrote:
    “Where do I begin? I think that this is off topic, but I recommend David Seccombe’s the King of God’s Kingdom.”

    How does this answer my question? I don’t see how it does.

    Then, in response to my question, “Could you kindly supply us with a single place in biblical literature where εὐαγγέλιον does not mean ‘good news?'” your wrote: “In every instance where it was rejected. To them it became bad news of judgement.”

    So what you’re saying then is that when εὐαγγέλιον is accepted it means “good news,” and when it’s rejected it means “bad news?” Can you think of any other word that changes its definition or even its referent based on how people respond to it? This does not seem to square with the manner in which context influences meaning.

    Would it not be more accurate to say that the original news was the “bad news” (κρίμα, krima, “judgment” or “condemnation”) that God will punish sin, and then came the “good news” (εὐαγγέλιον) that Christ paid for the sins of believers, which means that if you refuse to believe the εὐαγγέλιον all that is left for you is the κρίμα?

    Biblically speaking, when it is rejected the good news (εὐαγγέλιον) does not become bad news (κρίμα), but rather gives way to the bad news from which it was designed to redeem God’s elect. “He who believes in Him is not judged (κρίνω); he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18, NASB95).

  127. R. F. White said,

    January 10, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    120 — What I had in mind in 116 was just that the observations made by David W., Jeff, and Reed have their roots in the phenomena to which the authors of Scripture themselves call our attention, e.g., questions of faith’s object, content, or nature.

    Here’s another angle from which to consider the role of the exodus generation as an exemplar of temporary faith. In light of Gal 3-4, don’t we have to presume that Moses has so written his narrative as to disclose the identity of the exodus generation as ‘children of the bondwoman’ rather than as ‘children of the free woman’ and hence to show that their faith was not Abrahamic (saving) faith? Think of it: according to the apostle, the redemption mediated through Moses (i.e., Levi) to the nation had delivered them from physical bondage to physical freedom, but had left them, nonetheless, in spiritual bondage. The covenant mediated through Moses to the nation after their redemption required them, as a people who were still slaves of sin, to obey God’s Law from the heart (Deut 6:6) — something they could not do in their natural condition. Moreover, that covenant was powerless to deliver those slaves from their slavery (death) and provided them no enablement (life) to satisfy its requirements (Deut 5:28-29; 29:4; Gal 3:21). Hence, as Paul put it, Mount Sinai bore children who were to be slaves in bondage to sin (Gal 4:24-25; cf. 4:1-3).

    All this casts the exodus generation as ‘children of the bondwoman” rather than as true spiritual Abrahamites.

  128. Ron Henzel said,

    January 10, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Dr. White,

    What ramifications do your observations have for the traditional concept of the Mosaic Covenant as an administration of the Covenant of Grace?

  129. Curate said,

    January 10, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Ref. 126

    Ron, the issue of what the gospel is is off topic, that is why I am not addressing it. I would love to do so, but maybe on a different thread.

  130. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 10, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Curate (#112):

    I still remain to be convinced that 1 Cor 10 teaches that the eating and drinking were a participation in the outward sign only, not the inner grace. I think that you are deducing that from your theology, not the text itself, especially if we put it next to Hebrews 6 and 10.

    We’ve shifted fields some from the baptism discussion of December, which focused on what the “true Reformed teaching” was. Now, we’re asking what Scripture actually teaches.

    I’m much more comfortable with the new field, since in the end what really matters is what the Word teaches.

    But before we leave our old field — will you grant that Calvin teaches in his commentary on 1 Cor 10 that the eating and drinking were for the reprobates a participation in the sign only?

    With 1 Cor 10.1- 13, I would begin here: It is part and parcel of some things that are on Paul’s mind which start in chapter 7 and relate to various matters of ethics and worship.

    Very important for our understanding of 1 Cor 10.1 – 13 is the discussion that follows in vv. 14 – 33 as well as the discussion of communion in 11.17-33.

    For Paul, we can eat meat sacrificed to idols — if our consciences permit it. But we cannot participate in pagan worship services and thereby “drink the cup of demons.”

    When we participate in communion, we participate in the body and blood of Christ as a body (10.16,17). BUT, not all receive the grace that is offered. Instead, those who participate in an unworthy manner, the means of grace becomes a means of condemnation (11.27-32).

    What can we say, then? That only those who truly belong to the Lord have the right to the Lord’s table. And if we pursue knowing that existentially (i.e.., by judging ourselves and by heeding the warnings), then we will not have to risk the Lord showing it to us Himself. That for Paul, the *act* of eating and drinking is secondary to the faith, or lack of it, that motivates the act.

    Hence, the sacraments are not the same event for everyone. They are neither a bare sign nor yet a undifferentiated grace for the whole Visible Church. Rather, they are a means of grace for God’s people (and therefore the occasion for judging oneself) and a means of condemnation for hypocrites. In a sense, they are a time of testing.

    Normatively, all who participate *should* participate in faith. And the church officers *should* admit to the table all who credibly profess faith.

    Situationally, we must consider behavior as a kind of confirming indicator of the professed faith of our fellow church members. And if their behavior is grossly at odds with their profession, then for their own good we say, “stay away from the table.”

    And existentially, we must consider ourselves — our faith, its integrity wrt our actions (James 2 and 3), its integrity wrt our conduct towards the church. And if we need to repent, then communion is actually an occasion for repentance.

    Hence, 1 Cor 10.1-13 speaks again to the problem of knowledge with respect to communion. How does eating and drinking function? It does not, says Paul in v. 10.3-4, function as an undifferentiated source of grace. Those who presume will fall.

    Instead, eating and drinking function as a differentiated source of grace: blessing to those who should eat by faith, and do. And a curse to those who should eat by faith (Visible Church, normative perspective), and do not.

    So I think viewing 1 Cor 10.1-13 in light of 10.14 – 11.34 is the first place to begin, exegetically.

    And then we can expand outwards to cross-correlation with Heb. 6 and 10.

    Jeff Cagle

  131. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 10, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Dr. White (#127):

    Thank you.

  132. R. F. White said,

    January 10, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    128 — Ron Henzel,

    Thanks for the question. Our moderator will probably tell us that this is a discussion that is off the topic of this thread. A too-brief answer would be to say that my comment was intended to reflect the WCF in its statement that the one Covenant of Grace was differently administered in the time of the law and in the time of the gospel. Beyond that, allow me to refer you to the essay that I wrote with E. Calvin Beisner, “Covenant, Inheritance, and Typology: Understanding the Principles at Work in God’s Covenants,” in Guy Prentiss Waters and Gary L. W. Johnson, eds., By Faith Alone (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007).

  133. Curate said,

    January 11, 2008 at 4:24 am

    Ref. 130

    But before we leave our old field — will you grant that Calvin teaches in his commentary on 1 Cor 10 that the eating and drinking were for the reprobates a participation in the sign only?

    Absolutely. The rest of your argument I would heartily agree with as well.

    Where you are having difficulty with is the fact that the exodus generation had the gospel preached to them, just as we have:

    Heb. 4:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them

    David W and others argue that they did NOT have the gospel preached to them, just some stuff about a land! This is the central plank of the argument that they did not fall from faith, but were always unbelievers. You have not yet responded to those exodus passages that say that they did in fact believe – and, I would insist, that what they believed was the gospel, no holds barred.

    Ex. 4:31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.
    Ex. 14:31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.

    “Where is the gospel in this?” people ask.

    Allow me a little smile here as one who is accused of abandoning the Reformed Faith. What Israel is believing is the beginning of the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Abraham of deliverance from Egypt and a land.

    Point: we Reformed types are supposed to be THE people who know and see that the work of Jesus Christ is the final fulfillment of the Abrahamic Promises. What Israel believed was the beginning of fulfillment of the gospel (Abraham’s promises), and what we believe is the final fulfillment of the same.

    Hence Paul’s point in 1 Cor 10. We have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did. They ate and drank from the spiritual rock, which is Christ, just as we do! Without that parallel his argument is meaningless. IOW they too had real spiritual blessings – which they forfeited through lusting after sin. If we continue in sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth no sacrifice for sin remains, just the certain expectation of the fire that consumes God’s enemies.

    Watch out that you do not follow their example, for God will not allow to go unpunished in us what he punished so severely in them. (Calvin).

  134. Curate said,

    January 11, 2008 at 4:27 am

    PS In Egypt they believed that the gospel promises had begun to be fulfilled. By the time they saw the size of the Canaanites they had completely ceased to trust and believe.

  135. Ron Henzel said,

    January 11, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Curate,

    You wrote: “Ron, the issue of what the gospel is is off topic, that is why I am not addressing it.”

    I don’t think so. This is not about “what the gospel is,” but about what the word “gospel” means, particularly in Hebrews 4:2 (and I should have noted before this that its actually εὐαγγελίζω there rather than εὐαγγέλιον). Your refusal to take the word “gospel” in the generic sense of “good news” in that verse is a cornerstone of your position that the Israelites first believed in “the gospel” (which you seem to somehow equate, or put a par with, the New Testament’s Gospel message), and then fell away from that belief. This is evident from the way you keep coming back to the verse (e.g., comment 133), which would be pointless if you were not allowed to force your meaning of “tidings regarding the kingdom” onto its use of εὐαγγελίζω/εὐαγγέλιον.

    The simple fact is that in the New Testament εὐαγγέλιον always means “good news,” and εὐαγγελίζω always means “I announce good news,” but the content of the good news may vary depending on the context. In Hebrews 4:2 it clearly does not refer to the good news of the atoning death and victorious resurrection of Christ, but rather the context indicates that “the message they heard” (ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς ἐκείνους) was that of God’s promised rest in the land.

  136. Curate said,

    January 11, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Ref. 135

    See 133.

  137. David Weiner said,

    January 11, 2008 at 10:36 am

    curate, re: 136,

    I guess we have to deal with Exodus 14:31 before we can reach consensus on Exodus 4:31. You say: “What Israel is believing is the beginning of the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Abraham of deliverance from Egypt and a land.

    It is true that God did make the promises that you mention here. However, Exodus 14:31 says “When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.

    This verse does not say what you say it says! (IMHO, of course) This verse says that they believed IN God and Moses.

    They had just seen an unmistakable miracle. They believed that God had done this and that Moses had been God’s agent in accomplishing it. There is no need for any faith here. The people were not believing what God had promised; they were simply believing that it was He who had done this great thing which they had just seen with their own eyes. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

    They did not believe anything which could contribute to their justification. However, should one overlook that little word IN then one can insert anything as the content of their belief. Remember that even the demons believe in the power of God (James 2:19); but, surely nobody would conclude that they have ‘salvation’ as a consequence of this belief!

  138. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 11, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Curate (#133):

    Where you are having difficulty with is the fact that the exodus generation had the gospel preached to them, just as we have:

    Heb. 4:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them

    David W and others argue that they did NOT have the gospel preached to them, just some stuff about a land! This is the central plank of the argument that they did not fall from faith, but were always unbelievers. You have not yet responded to those exodus passages that say that they did in fact believe – and, I would insist, that what they believed was the gospel, no holds barred.

    Well now, I don’t think the argument is as simple as that.

    (1) Exodus does not contain the entire record of God’s (or Moses’) teachings to the Israelites. So it’s not a slam-dunk that Hebrews 4 is referring to Exodus 4 or Exodus 14. It may, but it may simply be talking about some of the vast amount of teaching that took place over 40 years in the wilderness. Or it may (more likely in my mind) refer to the entire Exodus experience from Ex. 4 through Deut. 34.

    (2) David W., is it not fair to say that the Exodus deliverance is a type of the gospel message (esp. in Matthew)? And further, that the promise of land was an integral part of the Abrahamic covenant?

    I’m not comfortable decoupling Exodus 4 from “the gospel” entirely. It seems that when God was rescuing Israel, he was being faithful to the covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus, Israel’s belief in Exodus 4 seems indicative of their heart participation in the covenant. No?

    (3) But now, we return again to the point made earlier: Israel was not homogeneous. Some who worshiped in Exodus 4 did so through faith. Others, like the disciples in John 6, may have “worshiped” out of any number of other motives. They heard the gospel but did not combine it with faith. It was these with whom God was not well-pleased.

    Take Korah (Num. 16). Was he (a) a believer at some point who just went off the deep end? OR, was he (b) a hardened heart who finally revealed his heart when the time came?

    The information given in Num. 16 alone does not decide the issue. But it’s reasonable to say that he did not just wake up one morning and have a 180 degree heart change.

    As the story of salvation unfolds, we find in fact that those who are believers have a promise from God of *eternal* life and a deposit of the Spirit *guaranteeing* their inheritance. That strongly suggests that (b) is the right way to read Korah. He became what he really was.

    (4) And finally, Exodus 4 combined with Hebrews 4 warns us all not to take participation in worship as certain proof that we have faith. This has, I think, implications for the FV doctrine of objective covenant.

    Jeff Cagle

  139. David Weiner said,

    January 11, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Jeff Cagle, re: 138,

    Regarding Exodus deliverance as a type of the gospel message: First, I’m really having a hard time figuring out how to respond to you on this. On the one hand, I can say sure, it is a type, and I can see all sorts of ways to connect it to salvation in Jesus. On the other hand, it scares me to go down that path. It just opens up all of our fallen creative juices. We start attributing meaning to details of the story which may in fact be fallacious. Looking at the story for what it is and how God had it as part of his overall plan seems good enough. I hear so many topical sermons that take advantage of types to makes points that the preacher wants to make regardless of what the text actually says.

    Your second question was much easier :) Yes, the promise of land was an integral part of the Abrahamic covenant.

    Regarding decoupling Exodus 4 from “the gospel” entirely. I fully agree that when God was rescuing Israel, he was being faithful to the covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am absolutely confident that neither of us would ever consider that God would not be faithful to a promise He had made! To extend this thought to the heart condition of Israel at the exodus just seems like a tortuous connection. Furthermore, the texts (Exodus 4 and 14) that are under scrutiny here seem to make clear what the content of the belief being discussed included. And, the content seems very narrow and not of a justification producing type.

  140. Curate said,

    January 12, 2008 at 4:10 am

    Ref. 138

    Jeff, when the text says that the people believed in God and in Moses, we are being told that Israel as Israel believed. It is a generalization, and a true one. So we must say with the text that Israel seen as a whole believed, and that later Israel seen as a whole no longer believed. The exceptions are not in view.

  141. Curate said,

    January 12, 2008 at 4:16 am

    David W, here is some NT material that ties the Lord Jesus directly to the Abrahamic promises. No fanciful exegesis, just the plain words of scripture:

    Mary speaking of meaning of the birth of Christ:

    Luke 1.53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
    And the rich He has sent away empty.
    54 He has helped His servant Israel,
    In remembrance of His mercy,
    55 As He spoke to our fathers,
    To Abraham and to his seed forever.

    This from the father of John the Baptist, Zechariah:

    Luke 1:70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
    Who have been since the world began,
    71 That we should be saved from our enemies
    And from the hand of all who hate us,
    72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
    And to remember His holy covenant,
    73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham
    :
    74 To grant us that we,
    Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
    Might serve Him without fear,
    75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
    76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
    For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
    77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
    By the remission of their sins,

  142. David Weiner said,

    January 12, 2008 at 9:35 am

    curate, re: 141,

    I am a little confused as to why you provided this comment. I must have said something that was confusing and for that I am sorry. Let me say it as clearly as I can: Jesus is the fulfillment of part of the Abrahamic Covenant. If you can show me where I seem to conflict with this idea I will be happy to try to clarify it.

  143. Ron Henzel said,

    January 12, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Curate,

    Regarding your comment 133, in which you appeal to Exodus 4:31 and 14:31 as examples of true faith on the part of those Israelites who later apostasized: Calvin is to be counted as one who did not see the verb “believed” in those verses as referring to saving faith. Regarding 4:31 he wrote:

    31. And the people believed. Either this is asynecdoche, a part of the people being put for the whole, or else Moses signifies that after the announcement was published, all with one consent embraced the message of their deliverance. I prefer the former meaning; because their solemn adoration is immediately subjoined, which could only have taken place in a public assembly. But we shall presently see how fickle and infirm was their belief. It is plain, from its levity and inconstancy, that it was without any living root. But it is not unusual that the word belief should be improperly applied to a mere assent and disposition to believe, which speedily passes away. Thus Christ (Mark 4:15) speaks of the faith of many as transient. “The people,” therefore, “believed,” when they heard that their afflictions were regarded by God, since that statement carried with it credibility and authority; but it was such belief as might be dissipated by the first adverse wind; and so, indeed, it happened. This passage, then, teaches, that theirs is no great attainment, and that they are deserving of no great praise, who eagerly and joyfully receive what is propounded to them in God’s name, unless faith, being deeply rooted in their hearts, sustains itself boldly against the assaults of temptation.

    [Harmony of the Law,, Volume 1, (Albany, OR, USA: AGES Software, 1998), 85.]

    Regarding 14:31 he wrote:

    By the word “believed,” I think that the principal part of fear is marked, and I understand it to be added expositively, as if it were said, “that they reverenced God, and testified this by faithfully embracing His doctrine and obediently submitting themselves to Moses.” I understand it that they were all generally thus affected, because the recognition of God’s hand bowed them to obedience, that they should be more tractable and docile, and more inclined to follow God. But this ardor soon passed away from the greater number of them, as (hypocrites [added by the editors from the French translation]) are wont to be only influenced by what is visible and present; although I hold to what I have just said, that, in some small number, the fear of God, which they had once conceived from a sense of His grace, still abode in rigor.

    [Ibid., 191-192.]

    Thus in both verses Calvin flatly contradicts your assertion that, “What Israel is believing is the beginning of the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Abraham of deliverance from Egypt and a land.” In the case of Exodus 4:31 Calvin held that any faith the people may have had was nothing more than an evanescent mental assent, while what impressed him most about the “faith” of the majority of Israelites in 14:31 was how hypocritical it actually was, even after witnessing the great miracle at the Red Sea.

  144. Curate said,

    January 12, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Ref 143

    I said that they believed, not that they had a strong faith. Of course it was a weak and miserable thing. I wasn’t suggesting otherwise, indeed, I asserted that it had evaporated within weeks, if not days.

    But we cannot escape the fact that scripture says that they believed and worshipped. It does not say that they never believed.

  145. its.reed said,

    January 12, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Ref. #144:

    Roger, simple question, do you understand the Scripture to teach that there are different types of belief? Do you understand the Scripture to use belief (faith) in different ways, to mean substantively different things?

    If yes, what type of belief do you believe the Scripture is talking about here.

  146. Roger Mann said,

    January 12, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    145: Roger, simple question…what type of belief do you believe the Scripture is talking about here.

    Reed, you must have forgotten, because he already answered that question:

    45: Faith justifies, whether it is temporary or permanent. There is no such thing as faith in Christ that does not justify. Thus a non-elect person who believes for a while is necessarily in a state of salvation until he falls through unfaith.

    How do we know that they were truly saved as in united to Christ and not just saved politically? Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 10 where we are told that they ate and drank from the same spiritual rock, which is Christ. That is union with Christ language that means that they received spiritual life from Christ. The OT supports this judgement by saying in so many words that they were saved.

  147. Ron Henzel said,

    January 12, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Curate,

    So then, according to you, the weak and miserable faith of the Israelites that evaporated within weeks if not days, justified them, united them with Christ, and saves them?

  148. Gabe Martini said,

    January 12, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Yes, just as your weak and miserable faith justifies you, and my weak and miserable faith justifies me. We all fall short of the glory of God and are saved by grace, grace, grace.

  149. Ron Henzel said,

    January 12, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Gabe,

    The real point here concerns whether the saving faith that God gives by grace (or as you put it, grace, grace, grace) is of the evaporating variety or something more durable. How gracious would it be of God to give a faith that does not ultimately justify, but only temporarily justify…in some sense…that apparently has yet to be defined…or not.

    I’m still trying to make sense of the things FV defenders appear to be advocating.

  150. Roger Mann said,

    January 12, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    149: Ron wrote,

    The real point here concerns whether the saving faith that God gives by grace (or as you put it, grace, grace, grace) is of the evaporating variety or something more durable.

    According to FV advocates, God gives both types of faith which equally justify its recipients. Actually, it’s the same type of faith — the only difference is that it “evaporates” in some people (the non-elect) and remains in others (the elect). Thus, some people are “temporarily” justified, while others are “permanently” justified. Do you mean to tell me that you didn’t realize this was the “historic” Reformed position all along? Have you been living in a cave or something?

    How gracious would it be of God to give a faith that does not ultimately justify, but only temporarily justify?

    It’s very gracious indeed — it’s “grace, grace, grace!” Even though it only temporarily justifies, and even though it ultimately results in greater condemnation for its recipients, it’s all part of God’s loving “grace.” Didn’t you pay attention in theology 101 Ron?

  151. Ron Henzel said,

    January 12, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Roger,

    You wrote: “Have you been living in a cave or something?” I’m able to take a lot in the way of personal put-downs and insults, but I begin to take umbrage when people start to slam the Neanderthal motif in which my wife decorated our place here.

    You wrote: “Didn’t you pay attention in theology 101 Ron?” Well…er…attendance wasn’t exactly mandatory in those days…and our fraternity had this file we dipped into for the tough assignments and tests…other than, it’s all a blur to me now.

  152. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 12, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Curate (#140):

    Jeff, when the text says that the people believed in God and in Moses, we are being told that Israel as Israel believed. It is a generalization, and a true one. So we must say with the text that Israel seen as a whole believed, and that later Israel seen as a whole no longer believed. The exceptions are not in view.

    Well, exactly. The authors of Scripture, both in OT and NT, have a tendency to speak of a whole entity (“all Israel”, “the Church”). But that usage is very different from our modern usage.

    If I as a 21st century man say, “All prime numbers are odd” — I’m wrong. 2 is prime and even. It’s not that I made a true generalization with some exception; it’s that I made a false generalization. That’s the way our language works, and it works that way in order to serve a purpose: so that we can build on top of our true generalizations without having to make up special sub-rules for the exceptions.

    In other words, modern language (over against post-modern language) has developed in a way that supports the growth of stable systems.

    Biblical language is very different from this. “All Israel believed” is intended to be a generalization about the group of people called “Israel” that does not intend to imply that each and every single person within that group believed.

    Agreed?

    And the judgment of God on the unbelievers within Israel then makes all manner of sense.

    Jeff Cagle

  153. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 12, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Myself (#152):

    In other words, modern language (over against post-modern language) has developed in a way that supports the growth of stable systems.

    Not that this is inherently good or bad. The tower of Babel was enabled by a too-efficient language system.

  154. Curate said,

    January 13, 2008 at 4:13 am

    Ref 152

    Exactly.

  155. Curate said,

    January 13, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Ref. 149

    How gracious would it be of God to give a faith that does not ultimately justify, but only temporarily justify…in some sense…that apparently has yet to be defined…or not.

    The issue is not what makes sense to us, or what is logically feasible, but what God actually does. Hebrews 6 tells us about real people who have once received grace and who fall away, so our objections are thereby rendered completely null and utterly void. Since it pleases God to grant temporary blessings, even such great gifts as the Holy Spirit, that makes the discussion of whether it is gracious or not ultimately meaningless.

    Heb. 6.4-6:  For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

  156. Curate said,

    January 13, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Ref. 145

    Roger, simple question, do you understand the Scripture to teach that there are different types of belief? Do you understand the Scripture to use belief (faith) in different ways, to mean substantively different things?

    I have been thinking about this for a few days. I know where you are going with this, and I have no problem with it in principle.

    Yes, there are different types of belief. I am not sure that they mean substantively (entirely?) different things. Could you give us a few examples where faith means substantively different things please?

  157. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 13, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    The two that immediately spring to mind are James 2 and Matt 13, in which different types of faith are explicitly distinguished.

  158. Gabe Martini said,

    January 13, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Re #149:

    God’s temporary electing of some only for them to fall away is actually part and parcel of the Biblical definition of the mystery of predestination and election. Both Augustine and Calvin base their understanding of predestination on God’s general call of Israel or “special election” as they do on individual election unto glory. Fwiw.

  159. its.reed said,

    January 13, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Gabe:

    Might you provide some references in Augustine and Calvinn where I might read up on this point? Thanks.

  160. R. F. White said,

    January 13, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Why is national [corporate, general] election revocable, while individual [particular, special] election is irrevocable?

  161. Gabe Martini said,

    January 13, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    BTW, “special” election refers to corporate election in Calvin and many other older thinkers’ vocabulary.

  162. R. F. White said,

    January 13, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Rephrasing the question in 160: why is it that the national [corporate, general] election of Israel resulted in apostasy? Why is it that individual [particular, special] election always results in perseverance?

  163. Jeff Moss said,

    January 13, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Jeff C. (#109),

    Think about it: given a belief that you and I share, that the elect will in fact persevere, the warning in 1 Cor 10 is technically irrelevant wrt the salvation of those people. Warning or no warning, the elect will stand (though God could use that warning to help them stand, as Lane has pointed out).

    Jeff, I generally think that you’re one of the most careful and balanced people to comment on this site, but on this specific point you’re a bit off track. One of the problems with privileging a decretal perspective on salvation over a historical perspective, is that the historical means that God uses to save people become unnecessary or simply unimportant.

    Are the warnings given in 1 Cor. 10, throughout the letter to the Hebrews, and all through the Bible really irrelevant to people’s final salvation? Why not say (as some people objected to Spurgeon) that if God has elected some to salvation, it’s unnecessary to preach the Gospel to them? But if God has predestined a man to salvation, He has also foreordained that set of conversations, sermons, acts of love, warnings, etc. that lead that man to believe in Christ and then persevere to the end. Otherwise, we could simply tear Romans 10:13-15 out of our Bibles, and write in its place, “Those who are predestined to salvation will be saved. End of story.”

    These two statements can be fully consistent with each other:
    “God predestined this man to salvation since before the foundation of the world.”
    “If the man had not heard and heeded a solemn warning on such and such a date, he would not have been saved.”

  164. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 14, 2008 at 1:39 am

    Oh, right. Sorry about that. I hadn’t meant to imply otherwise. I fully agree with the idea (in fact, taught it to Middle Schoolers this morning) that God’s decrees are worked out by man’s instrumental causes.

    So I think we’re on the same page here.

    Rather, I was responding to a particular line of argument:

    (1) The the apostle Paul meant for the warning in 1 Cor 10 to be a real warning.
    (2) Therefore, it must be the case that someone in the Corinthian church was in danger of falling away.
    (3) Therefore, someone within the Corinthian church must have been a believer who could, hypothetically, lose his belief.
    (4) Otherwise, the warnings would be hypothetical and irrelevant warnings only.

    And my badly-worded response intended to say, “This argument proves too much. If we take that line of reasoning, then anyone who believes in predestination would believe that the warnings are irrelevant. So whether the warnings are to justified believers who might lose their belief (Curate) or to false believers who need to repent from their unbelief (me), the warnings are equally effective or hypothetical, depending on whether we focus on man’s instrumentation or God’s predestination.”

    See? Isn’t it all clear how my one sentence meant that entire paragraph? :lol:

    Jeff Cagle

  165. Curate said,

    January 14, 2008 at 2:10 am

    Ref. 163

    WSC; Q. 88. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?
    A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

    One of the things that marks the elect out is the fear of God, namely, trembling at the threatenings. The wicked have no fear of God before their eyes.

    I believe that the failure to come to grips with the administration of the decree via the ordinary means of grace is a major weakness of anti-FVism.

  166. Curate said,

    January 14, 2008 at 2:13 am

    WSC, Q. 85: What does God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?
    To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption.

  167. its.reed said,

    January 14, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Ref. 165#:

    Roger, this is not the place for it, but I would say that one of the major problems with the FV advocates’ criticism of FV opponents is that the FV advocates assume unproven problems on the part of the FV opponents’ understanding.

    Is there a problem in evangelicalism, generally speaking, with understanding of the means of grace? To be sure. Is that problem specifically, or expressly, or in any other way particularly found among those of us opposed to the FV? Frankly, I think that’s rather silly, as formally all of us in the reformed world give our faith to the means of grace principle. Specifically, I know of no FV opponent (I know a few) whose view of the means of grace even comes close to the mischaracterization that keeps coming up in your comments.

    Again, let’s not move off topic here. Consider this my “no its not,” to your “yes it is,” and leave it at that here.

  168. Curate said,

    January 14, 2008 at 7:13 am

    Reed, could you respond to 156 please?

  169. its.reed said,

    January 14, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Ref. #156 (168):

    Roger, I thought Jeff C.’s response (no. 157) was sufficient to answer you. I might add John 2:23-5.

    If we might advance this line of thought by getting to answering my question of you, you say you agree “in principle”, at least with where you think my question is heading. It might be worth outlining the principle.

    Even better, let’s just get to the heart of it: do you see a distinction between TF and JF, as expressed by Turretin, following Calvin (Institutes 3, 2.9-13)? If so, in principle, as this distinction is expressly eschatological perspective rooted, if you agree with it, might you coordinate it with the insistance you demonstrate here that the Exodus generation really believed the gospel (and by extension other ordo salutis items).

    I recognize that you are speaking from the historical perspective. (Something you don’t make abundantly clear until someone says “wait a minute!” Then you offer some clarification).

    The problem is not with recognizing these two different perspectives in Scripture. The problem is their coordination with one another in a given text.

    A post-modern interpretation of Scripture is wrong. You cannot say “they believed,” affirm that no one can fall away from belief, and then say, “and sometime later they stopped believing.” To do so is to insist on living with an inconsistency, to live with a paradox that Scripture itself does not offer God’s children. It is confusion, the interpretation better suited for the Sons of Darkness, not the Sons of Light.

    Don’t throw at me the Trinity (et.al.) – there is no paradox there. The Trinity is perfectly understandable, as defined by Scripture. The tension we experience is that the nature of divinity is outside our experience, and thus all we can do is understand what is revealed. Yet be certain that enough is revealed so there remains no tension in the text of Scripture!

    I contend that you offer regular is/is not statements, say there is no contradiction between them, and then, after much rabbit-trailing, retreat behind the notion that Scripture teaches both and we can’t understand the paradox presented to us. That is just not how Scripture works.

    If you prefer, it might be better to move your response to another thread. If you want to debate the principle of JF/TF, it would be better to move it to JF/TF part 3. That way those reading along will have the benefit of interacting with the full development of my argument.

    If you want to debate this from the historical/eschatological perspective, and how the Scripture coordinates the two (if you believe they do), or how the Scripture lets them (apparently) contradict each other (if you believe they do), it would be best to move you response to the Wrong Starting Point thread. Again, this will place us all in the right context for the discussion.

    Thanks!

  170. Curate said,

    January 14, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Reed, it sounds to me that I have exasperated you. I try to keep things simple and straightforward, but you seem think that I am being deliberately devious. Perhaps I should withdraw.

  171. its.reed said,

    January 14, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Ref. #170:

    Roger, no, absolutely not. Chalk this up to a failure to communicate due to the flatness of digital exchange. If we were face to face you would see rather than the things you are concerned about, that I am actually simply being direct and to the point merely out of respect for your and my other committments. You’d see me speaking gently, hopefully humbly, giving my frank assessment of where things are, etc., all with a smile on my face.

    We’re not at a party where we can spend the next 4 hours boring our wives while we hammer out solutions to all the doctrinal conundrums we can imagine (we’d only get 1/2-way on one topic; we both talk too much :) ).

    As you and I have said on another venue, what we discuss here is not the most important thing to which our Lord has called us. Hopefully what we do here is both a service to Him (His Bride) and a joy to us. Don’t back off for fear of my feelings. Do so, with peace and well wishes from me, when you no longer sense God’s pleasure in your committmen to these activities.

  172. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 14, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    We’re not at a party where we can spend the next 4 hours boring our wives while we hammer out solutions to all the doctrinal conundrums we can imagine

    Ain’t that the truth! It’s not so much that Colleen is “bored” as that she came to a conclusion a long time ago and wonders when I’m going to finally catch up. :)

    It’s the whole Meyers-Briggs J/P distinction, I guess.

    Curate, I have appreciated your persistence in dialog. These things take time and effort, and you’ve certainly showed both.

    Jeff Cagle

  173. Curate said,

    January 14, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks for the edifying response, Jeff and Reed.

    When I say that I think I see where you are going Reed, I mean that you see a difficulty because the Exodus passages discussed say that Israel believed, and your system does not permit you to acknowledge that they had real faith, so you seek refuge in the idea that words often mean different thing in different contexts.

    With that principle I have no problems. James 2 uses the word “justification” in a very different way to Paul in Romans 1-5. A cosmos can be a flower, or the world, or Israel in particular, depending on usage.

    When I asked you for examples of faith having essentially different meanings I wanted to know exactly which examples you had in mind, which is why I didn’t respond immediately to Jeff’s citing of James 2 and Matthew 13, and your John 2.

    Faith is assent and trust. I need you to give me examples where it means something else for your point to be demonstrated.

    James does not concede that a faith that is alone, a faith that is without works, is faith at all. Notice his language, “You say that you have faith”. This faith that is alone cannot save he says!! Why, because it is not the real thing, being devoid of works.

    This is a different faith from the faith that is devoid of perseverance. He does not say that faith must be persevering to be real, he says that faith must be manifested in works for it to be real. In short, he denies that that other faith is faith at all. It is a counterfeit faith.

    Let’s talk about that before we move to the parable of the sower.

  174. R. F. White said,

    January 14, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    In case there is still some curiosity about my own answers to the questions I posed in 75, 160, and 162, here are my responses.

    The only way for election, corporate or individual, to result in apostasy is for its basis to be something other than or in addition to Christ’s obedience. My point comes through loudly and clearly in, e.g., God’s words to Israel in Isa 43:27-28: “Your first father sinned, and your mediators transgressed against me. Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary, and deliver Jacob to utter destruction and Israel to reviling” (ESV).

    God cast off nationally elect Israel because those on whose obedience its national covenant was based –– its first father, Abraham, and all its later mediators, whether Moses or Joshua or any of the priests or judges or prophets or David or Solomon or any of their descendants, not to mention the nation as a whole –– were sinners. So Israel’s identity as God’s “elect nation” was and could be revocable precisely and only because its basis was something other than Christ’s obedience. The individually elect in Christ God could and can never cast off because their Mediator, their Everlasting Father (Isa 9:6), their Prophet, Priest, and King, though tempted in all ways like as we are, never sinned, and on that basis he claims––and receives––all for whom he died.

    Because FVers fail to consider that Israel’s election could be revocable only if its basis were something other than or in addition to Christ’s obedience, their appeal to “national election” to explain apostasy within the church also fails. Contrary to the FV view, it is the perfection of Christ’s obedience that renders the church’s identity as God’s “elect nation” (1 Pet 2:9) irrevocable, and that in distinction to Israel. For the FV view to succeed it has to define the church’s (corporate, national) identity as God’s “elect nation” apart from Christ’s obedience.

    To adopt, then, the FV explanation of the church’s election to explain the temporary blessedness and eventual apostasy of some covenant community members is to introduce error into our understanding of that doctrine, error that, if consistently applied, will introduce an anti-Reformation contagion into every doctrine in the ordo salutis.

  175. Curate said,

    January 14, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Ref 173

    Here is a faith that does not justify because it is not true faith.

  176. Curate said,

    January 14, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Ref 174

    I for one am interested in your answers. I would be interested in your exegesis (not theologizing) of the relevant passages in Hebrews 6 and 10. Are you of the opinion that this is empty threatening, something that cannot happen?

  177. R. F. White said,

    January 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    176 — No, I do not share the opinion you mention. I would go at it like this. As it was with the warnings of wrath for unbelief before conversion, so it is with the warnings of wrath for apostasy after conversion: the warnings of texts like Heb 6 and 10 are not mere rhetorical manipulations; they are among the very means God has appointed for averting apostasy and His wrath against it. The dangers of apostasy and of God’s wrath against it are real, and the elect will not avoid either of them unless they use the means appointed for their avoidance. The warnings of God’s Word, as a means of grace, retain their integrity because the decree of election is realized through them, not apart from them.

  178. Ron Henzel said,

    January 14, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Curate

    You wrote in comment 155:

    The issue is not what makes sense to us, or what is logically feasible, but what God actually does.

    Your high-sounding rhetoric merely restates the goal we all claim to have here: that of ascertaining God’s actions on the basis of God’s word. Implications to the contrary come off as less-than-charitable.

    Hebrews 6 tells us about real people who have once received grace and who fall away, so our objections are thereby rendered completely null and utterly void.

    Your reference to “our objections” here seems vague to me, but my objection is not over whether reprobate people receive grace, but whether they ever receive the specific grace of justifying faith. You have yet to nullify this objection, and to insert into this discussion a passage such as Hebrews 6 that does not have justification as its subject in the manner that you have serves only to confuse the issue.

    You wrote:

    Since it pleases God to grant temporary blessings, even such great gifts as the Holy Spirit, that makes the discussion of whether it is gracious or not ultimately meaningless.

    This once again simply confuses the issue. The question is not whether the temporary blessings that God grants are truly gracious, but in what sense temporary justification can be considered “gracious.” Whatever the phrase “have shared in the Holy Spirit” (ESV; μετόχους γενηθέντας πνεύματος ἁγίου) means, it certainly is not a reference to justification, let alone temporary justification, nor can it be convincingly demonstrated that it is even a reference to regeneration. As Calvin wrote on Hebrews 6:4-5:

    That God indeed favors none but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and that by this they are distinguished from the reprobate; for they are renewed after his image and receive the earnest of the Spirit in hope of the future inheritance, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on their hearts. Otherwise, where would be the temporal faith mentioned by Mark 4:17? There is therefore some knowledge even in the reprobate, which afterwards vanishes away, either because it did not strike roots sufficiently deep, or because it withers, being choked up

    [The Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, (Albany, OR, USA: AGES Software, 1998), 119.]

  179. Ron Henzel said,

    January 14, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Regarding what I just wrote in comment 178: although Calvin acknowledges the existence of temporary faith (which he calls “temporal faith”), it’s quite obvious from what he wrote elsewhere that he never assigned to it anything approaching the attributes of justifying faith.

  180. Ron Henzel said,

    January 14, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Curate wrote in comment 173:

    Faith is assent and trust. I need you to give me examples where it means something else for your point to be demonstrated.

    Here’s one that’s already been mentioned: “Even the demons believe – and shudder!” (ESV; καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια πιστεύουσιν καὶ φρίσσουσιν).

  181. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 14, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Curate (#173):

    Is it fair to say that in James 2, he uses the word faith in “scare quotes”?

    And if so, could it be possible that others do the same?

    I’m very happy with the idea that the faith in James 2 is not a real faith. I believe that James, the brother of Jesus, is likely using the word faith in a way very similar to Matt 13.

    Faith is assent and trust.

    *Looks nervously around for Dr. Robbins.* I don’t know if we can synonymize faith at all. Here’s what we do know about saving faith:

    * It rests on and looks to Christ alone.
    * It results in the fruit of the Spirit because of the indwelling Spirit received in union with Christ.
    * It is the sole instrument of justification.

    Whether “assent and trust” meet that definition, I will not presume to say.

    Jeff Cagle

  182. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 14, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Dr. White (#177):

    Would it also be fair to say that the warnings are the means by which some hypocrites repent and are regenerated?

    That is, the warnings function (perhaps inter alia) as a way for some within the visible church to avert visible apostasy?

    Jeff Cagle

  183. R. F. White said,

    January 14, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    182 — Jeff C.,

    You ask, “Would it also be fair to say that the warnings are the means by which some hypocrites repent and are regenerated?” My answer is, No — but I may be missing something in the “digitality” of our exchange!

    You ask further, “That is, the warnings function (perhaps inter alia) as a way for some within the visible church to avert visible apostasy?” My answer is, I’m not sure what you mean by ‘visible apostasy.’ Sorry if I’m being dense.

  184. R. F. White said,

    January 14, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Let me elaborate a bit about context. The author states that he has cause for concern in 5:11-14: instead of going on to Christian adulthood, they are regressing (going back again) to Christian childhood. In that light, he issues a call to go on from childhood to adulthood in 6:1-3, finishing his call with the words, “and this we will do [that is go on to adulthood] if God permits.” Then in 6:4-8 he tells them why to heed his call, namely, they should do so because God will not permit those who fail to persevere in faith to be renewed again to repentance. Regression may lead to a state of unrepentance (unbelief), exposing the former “repentance” (“faith”) as temporary, not saving.

  185. Curate said,

    January 15, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Ref. 178

    Ron, you say that Hebrews 6 does not address the issue of justifying faith at all, and that it is just a red herring for me to say so. I will concede that the text does not say in so many words that “temporary believers are justified as long as they believe, but when they fall away they lose it”. However, I think that it is obvious that one cannot receive the Holy Spirit without at the same time receiving the gift of justification. Yes?

    I had naively thought that this was too obvious to actually mention out loud.

    Are you proposing a new kind of second blessing where one receives the Spirit first, and the remission of sins separately, or even not at all? Also, perhaps you could explain why a temporary believer may receive the gift of God himself, but not justification?

  186. Curate said,

    January 15, 2008 at 2:47 am

    Ref. 178

    The meaning of the text is on the face of the text brother. Don’t make it difficult. Keep it simple. Hebrews says that some of those who received the Spirit have fallen away. Receiving the Spirit is shorthand for ALL of the blessings, justification not excluded. They had it, then they lost it. What is the problem? Just believe.

  187. its.reed said,

    January 15, 2008 at 7:02 am

    Ref. #185 & 186:

    Roger: your response in these two comments is an exemplar of the errors I believe you continue to make.

    1. You use other texts to inform your understanding of what Heb 6:4-6 means when it describes the Spirit’s work in the RCM.
    2. You specifically say “receive” the Spirit always means the same thing, i.e., in an ordo salutis manner.
    3. You affirm that this is both the same as the ECM and not the same as the ECM.
    4. When your opponents introduce other texts (following the principle you yourself use, see point no. 1), you object, “keep it simple, let the text speak for itself.”
    5. You will acknowledge in principle the idea that words have a range of meanings in the Bible, yet you refuse to acknowledge that a given word’s (in this case “receive”) range of meanings can even be introduced into the discussion (see point no. 4).

    Ironically, this passage does not say “receive”.

    Hebrews 6:4-6: For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

    You are interpreting the meaning of this passage to mean receive as in how the ECM receive the Spirit in regeneration – – you have used the very principles of interpretation you refuse to allow your opponents to use.

    The question to be answered is what the references the Spirit’s work actually mean here. Your comments are mere assertions masquerading as exegesis.

    Please do not take offense. I’m not frustrated, or lashing out. I truly believe you make the errors listed here,. More generally, I believe you have demonstrated a rather consistent use of these tactics in this and other debates here at Green Bagginses.

    As an example of what I am hoping you will perceive, prior to coming to the reformed faith I was credo-baptist in conviction. I remember coming to my key professor and presenting him with 6 keys arguments defending a covenantal view of credo-baptism. It was not something I read elsewhere, I came up with it all on my own (no one else’s fault).

    He listened, agreed, and then suggested that I was limiting my exegesis based on an a priori position. Ignoring the look of frustration on my face (I thought I actually was going to persuade him), he gently gave me an example from one text. As he did, the Spirit crashed my arguments around me. I immediately saw what he was talking about.

    Being kind, my professor suggested I do some more reading, and then recommended a number of books on the subject. To my surprise, they were all texts arguing for my covenantal view of credo-baptism. Here were my six arguments, fully documented, and much more effectively and carefully argued then mine. It was study of these arguments that led to my conviction that padeo-baptism is the position of Scripture.

    Specifically here, it was examining the numerous meanings of baptism (both direct and inferential) in Scripture, and then coordinating them to identify what I call the center of meaning (revolves around repentance-cleansing), and then seeing this meaning as the center of circumcision’s meaning in the OT, that put me over the edge.

    You may very well believe you’ve gone through such a process with your convictions. You’re debating brothers who believe likewise about their position. Mere assertions, coupled with even mild chastizing of your opponents, is not a reasonable manner of debate.

  188. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 15, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Dr White (#184):

    Regression may lead to a state of unrepentance (unbelief), exposing the former “repentance” (“faith”) as temporary, not saving.

    Yes, this was what I had in mind. Take a given person within the church whose faith is not genuine but who believes that it is. I was wondering out loud (a) whether such people could be stimulated by the warnings in Heb 6 etc. to repent, and (b) whether they are the primary audience to whom the author is writing.

    Jeff Cagle

  189. R. F. White said,

    January 15, 2008 at 10:12 am

    185-187 — Hopefully, we all agree that exegesis cannot be done responsibly without an identification of the context, context that is not only presupposed by the A/author and expressed in H/his text, but that also can and must be inferred from H/his text. Meaning is not only expressed; it is inferred.

    In many ways, it seems to me that the FV debate is itself about the identification of the proper context in which to interpret the phenomena in the text of Scripture.

  190. R. F. White said,

    January 15, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Clarification to 189: Meaning is not only expressed; it is implied and inferred.

  191. David Weiner said,

    January 15, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Hebrews 6:4-6 continues to be brought forward as proof for the position that an ECM (one really and truly saved) can become an RCM. I fail to see this and I would appreciate any help anybody here could give to point out my error. Obviously, I have a faulty presupposition at work here but I have not been able to find it yet.

    I look at the passage and see the following: Beginning at the end of chapter 5 the writer says (my paraphrase):

    You ought to be teachers by now; but you still need teaching yourselves. THEREFORE let’s leave the elementary and not revisit teachings concerning repentance, faith, etc. We push on BECAUSE it would be of no use to go back to teaching you the basics. This is so BECAUSE it is impossible for an ECM who has apostasized to be made an ECM again. For this would be just like re-crucifying Christ, which is too horrible to even consider.

    1. This passage is usually termed a ‘warning.’ It seems to me to be a simple statement of fact. The writer is saying that it is impossible to save a person twice.
    2. If this is talking about a real possibility then it is saying that God can save a person once but not twice. Do we really believe that there is something that God can not do (I know God can not lie, etc.)?

    My conclusion: these people have become a little sluggish and need to get on with it and the writer is going to help them do just that. He knows that if they are RCM then this is a waste of time. Yet, he does it. Thus, I conclude he does not think any of them have made the journey from ECM to RCM nor that they ever could.

  192. R. F. White said,

    January 15, 2008 at 10:29 am

    191 — David Weiner, I agree with you. Heb 6:4-6 has been been brought forward as proof that an ECM with justifying faith can morph into an RCM with temporary faith. That position begs the question.

  193. Jeff Moss said,

    January 15, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Re: #191-192,

    I think there’s a confusion in terminology here. As far as I know, everyone in this discussion up to this point who has used the term “elect covenant member” (ECM) is talking about those who are chosen (elected) to eternal life and will in fact inherit the Kingdom of God. Therefore, to say that an ECM can become reprobate is simply false by definition.

    I think that when Mr. Weiner and Dr. White say “ECM” in these two comments, they actually mean “covenant member according to the Federal Vision understanding.” Of course, that would change other things in what they wrote.

  194. R. F. White said,

    January 15, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    193 — Jeff Moss, thanks for your observation. In my 192 statement that ‘an ECM with justifying faith can morph into an RCM with temporary faith,’ I did have in mind certain FV claims and certain claims that, unless I’m mistaken, I have read on this thread.

  195. David Weiner said,

    January 15, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Jeff, re: 193,

    Sorry for any confusion I may have introduced. I meant ECM exactly as you defined it. And, I see no warning in Hebrews 6:4-6 that such a one can become NOT an ECM. I guess you are saying that the correct term for one who has it ALL but only for a while is CM? That would then seem to get us back to the ‘what does water baptism do for the one without ECM faith?’ question.

  196. Jeff Moss said,

    January 15, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Dr. White,

    See Reed’s use of “ECM” in the original post and Gabe Martini’s (an FV proponent’s) use of the term in comments #4, 11, etc.

  197. R. F. White said,

    January 15, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Yes, that’s what I thought. This thread is long; my memory is not.

  198. Ron Henzel said,

    January 15, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Curate,

    When I read your comment 186 I was struck by the fact that your statement, “Receiving the Spirit is shorthand for ALL of the blessings, justification not excluded,” actually begs the question on two levels simultaneously: (1) the very proposition it expresses assumes precisely the disputed point you have yet to demonstrate, and (2) it also assumes that a μέτοχος (Heb. 4:6; “one who shares in, partner; companion, comrade”) is one who receives the Spirit.

    So I started to compose a lengthy response, but then I scanned the subsequent comments and saw that my concerns seemed to be pretty well addressed in them. So now I’ll just say, “Yeah, what they said.”

  199. Roger Mann said,

    January 15, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.” Hebrews 6:9

    If this verse means what it says, then verses 4-8 describe things that do not “accompany” or “belong to salvation” (ESV). Thus, it is not a reference to genuine believers, no matter how much it may sound like it is. As John Gill points out:

    “Now it may be observed, that here is nothing said of these persons but what may be applied to hypocrites, nor any thing that is peculiar to true believers; these are not said to be regenerated, nor sanctified, nor justified, nor adopted, nor sealed by the Holy Spirit of God, all which are true of real saints. Besides, true believers are in the context, manifestly distinguished from them, and are compared to the fruitful earth, when others are only likened to the barren land, verse 8, 9; their case is mentioned with a view to stir up the saints to industry and diligence (vv. 11, 12); and so be the means of their final perseverance, which they had reason to expect and believe, from the immutability of God’s counsel, the safe refuge in Christ, the nature of hope, the anchor sure and steadfast, and the entrance of Christ, their forerunner for them, into heaven (vv. 17-20).” (The Cause of God and Truth, Part 1, Sec. 50)

    Furthermore, 1 John 2:19 clearly teaches that those who fall away were never really part of the body of believers or of the faith, though it may have appeared for a time that they were:

    “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

    The very fact that they fall away (if indeed they fall away finally and forever) is proof that they never had a part or place in the kingdom of heaven and were never partakers of the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus. They never were elect, never were purchased by the blood, never did receive the Holy Spirit and regeneration, never were justified or sanctified, and never had the gift of holiness. They were the stony and thorny soil and the wayside in the parable of Jesus, and the Word, however it affected them, never had root or fruit.

  200. Curate said,

    January 15, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Ref. 187

    1. You use other texts to inform your understanding of what Heb 6:4-6 means when it describes the Spirit’s work in the RCM.

    If you mean that I use other texts that are saying similar things, then that is what every exegete does. I have to inform you that it was from studying Hebrews that I changed from your opinion to the present one. Hebrews was the letter that opened my eyes to the fact that Christians can and do fall, and that warnings to that effect do not contain empty threats, but real ones.

    The fact that it provides us with an object lesson nullifies the kind of explanation that Mr. White offers, and that I accepted for many years.

    I moved from Hebrews to the other passages, not vice-versa.

    2. You specifically say “receive” the Spirit always means the same thing, i.e., in an ordo salutis manner.

    Where? Is there another way of receiving the Spirit in the New Age?

    3. You affirm that this is both the same as the ECM and not the same as the ECM.

    I don’t understand.

    4. When your opponents introduce other texts (following the principle you yourself use, see point no. 1), you object, “keep it simple, let the text speak for itself.”,/i>

    Did I miss the post where you gave examples of where the word faith means essentially different things? I maintain that it means knowledge, assent, and trust. What else does it mean?

    5. You will acknowledge in principle the idea that words have a range of meanings in the Bible, yet you refuse to acknowledge that a given word’s (in this case “receive”) range of meanings can even be introduced into the discussion (see point no. 4).

    I must have missed that. There is so much being said that I am missing some things.

    PS: I too used to be a Baptist. I even ministered for a short while as one. I had to leave because I could not endure the wide-spread belief among those I knew that Paedo-baptists were not true Christians at all. Neither could I shake the belief that Calvin and Luther must have had very good reasons for infant baptism, even though I was unable to find anyone at the time who could mount a coherent defence of it.

  201. David Weiner said,

    January 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Roger Mann, re: #199,

    In Hebrews 5:12 the writer says that the people to whom he is addressing this letter should be teachers by now. Do you think he thinks they are ECM or RCM?

    In Hebrews 6:4 he is not addressing anybody. He is simply making a statement of fact. He is stating a situation that is impossible to remedy. Fortunately for us, God has so ordained things such that that situation can never occur.

  202. R. F. White said,

    January 15, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    200 — For my understanding, could you elaborate on the nullification to which you refer: “The fact that it provides us with an object lesson nullifies the kind of explanation that Mr. White offers, and that I accepted for many years”? To expedite your consideration, perhaps it will help for me to focus my inquiry. With others, I have acknowledged that Hebrews provides us Christians with an object lesson. I have acknowledged that the warnings are not empty threats, but real threats. I will even acknowledge that Christians can and do fall, if you will grant with that not all Christians are Christians indeed. Perhaps that’s the rub. In any event, I’m not sure to what you refer when you mention “the kind of explanation that Mr. White offers.” Lots of issues have passed under the bridge here.

  203. R. F. White said,

    January 15, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    4 — Gabe Martini,

    Reading over your comments in 4 again, I find your analysis of what temporary faith believes to be indicative of why it is indistinguishable from saving faith, and why that distinction doesn’t happen until times of trial and tribulation arise. I also find it heartening to read that the justification of the temporary believer is only apparent, but not actual.

    Question: when you say that ‘they receive the promise of forgiveness for a time,’ do you mean to say that ‘they receive forgiveness for a time’? In other words, is their forgiveness only apparent but not actual?

  204. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 15, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Re #199:

    “The very fact that they fall away (if indeed they fall away finally and forever) is proof that they never had a part or place in the kingdom of heaven and were never partakers of the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus. They never were elect, never were purchased by the blood, never did receive the Holy Spirit and regeneration, never were justified or sanctified, and never had the gift of holiness. They were the stony and thorny soil and the wayside in the parable of Jesus, and the Word, however it affected them, never had root or fruit.”

    I would agree with some of this list, but not all of it. The RCM were in fact sanctified by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:29), and did receive the Holy Spirit in some measure, having a “part” or “share” in Him (Heb. 6:4-5) and perhaps thus, one could say, a “part” in the historical blessings of the kingdom.

    Re: #203

    It’s not directed toward me, but that doesn’t usually keep me from giving an opinion ;) I would distinguish between an eschatological forgiveness and a temporal remission, or setting aside of the penalty. This temporal remission is something like the common grace of forbearance, but differs in being granted to covenant members, rather than the world in general. For the time being, the penalty which could be required immediately is set aside, but if true faith is absent, the debt is called in–and I’m sure you can see clearly the interpretation of the unforgiving servant in the background. Wherein does this temporal remission differ from general forbearance? In that it is comes through the operations of the church to those within her pale, not simply to the world at large; that it is offered or applied through the Word, rather than through general revelation.

  205. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 15, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Joshua (#204):

    Your last paragraph is a good explanation of this concept. Thank you.

    It’s very confusing to have it called “temporary justification” — because it’s not a declaration of righteousness, but a kind of forbearance.

    But I could agree to the idea (based on the parable of the wheat and the tares) that God postpones some judgments within the visible church for the sake of his (decretally) elect. And also, I could envision arguing that God *accelerates* some judgments within the visible church for the sake of the elect — as in Acts 5 or 1 Cor 11.

    Now, I wonder about Hebrews 10. The author is a bit paradoxical. On the one hand, he stipulates that “we” have been made holy through the blood of Jesus once for all (v. 10), and that this happens in contrast to the ineffective, shadowly blood of goats and bulls. And again, “we” have been made perfect forever by the work of our great high priest, over against the work of the previous priests (v. 14). And then he connects all of this to the promise of the new covenant in Jer. 31. (vv. 15ff).

    All of that culminates with an exhortation to persist in faith and an assurance that our sins have been cleansed forever.

    And then, by way of contrast, he speaks of those who deliberately keep on sinning, who trample the Son of God underfoot, and who insult the Spirit of grace.

    Whatever kind of sanctification is in view in v. 29, it’s not the holiness and perfection found in vv. 1-25. That is to say, it did not make these people perfect forever. Nor did it cleanse them of their sins. Nor yet did it write God’s law on their hearts.

    Perhaps the key is found in v. 30: ‘For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”‘

    These folk are part of God’s people, but not genuinely. Perhaps we can say that they have been sanctified in the sense of “set apart” (as per the common use in the Pentateuch). They *ought* to worship; they *ought* to trust.

    Only they don’t; the reality doesn’t match their obligations. And so God removes them from his people just as He did in the OT.

    To this point, we’ve been treating “sanctified” as if it means something internal and regenerating and then trying to figure out how little of such sanctification a person could receive and still be an unbeliever.

    Perhaps instead “sanctification” means something normative: set apart for the Lord and specially obligated to belong to Him, in the same sense that all Israel was holy to the Lord.

    Does that work?

    Jeff Cagle

  206. Roger Mann said,

    January 16, 2008 at 12:01 am

    201: David wrote,

    In Hebrews 5:12 the writer says that the people to whom he is addressing this letter should be teachers by now. Do you think he thinks they are ECM or RCM?

    I believe he is addressing his readers with the “judgment of charity,” as is the case with many of the statements in the New Testament. He writes to them as if their profession of faith is genuine, while acknowledging that their may be exceptions. I believe Hebrews 6:9 makes this quite clear:

    “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.” Hebrews 6:9

    Most of the confusion regarding this passage (among both Arminians and FV advocates) comes from ignoring this fact.

    In Hebrews 6:4 he is not addressing anybody. He is simply making a statement of fact. He is stating a situation that is impossible to remedy. Fortunately for us, God has so ordained things such that that situation can never occur.

    That is one possible (pardon the pun) interpretation that would be consistent with the doctrine of preservation/perseverance. John Gill, in the same book that I quoted from earlier, points this out:

    “Admitting that these words are spoken of true believers, they will bear such a version and sense as will be so far from furnishing out an argument against the saints’ perseverance that they will conclude one for it; for they may be rendered thus: it is impossible that there should be any who have been once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and yet fall away, that is, it is impossible that such should fall away; agreeable to which is the Syriac version of the words, it is impossible, etc, that they should sin again, so as to die spiritually, or lose the grace of God, and stand in need of a new work of grace upon them, which would require the crucifying of Christ again, and a re-exposing him to public shame which latter things are impossible; and, therefore, the former, namely, that they should sin in such a manner; for, according to this version, the several other things mentioned, are connected with the word impossible, as it is impossible that they should be renewed again to repentance, that they should again crucify the Son of God, and put him to shame. This sense of the words is also confirmed by the Arabic version. Moreover, should we read the words, if they fall away, they do but at most contain a supposition of the saints falling; a supposition puts nothing in being, proves no matter of fact; nor can it be concluded from hence that any such have fallen away, and are, at most, only expressive of the danger they are in, and of the difficulty of restoring them when fallen even partially; a total and final falling away being prevented by the grace and power of God.” (The Cause of God and Truth, Part 1, Sec. 50)

    However, Gill goes on to lay out a powerful argument for why this is not the correct interpretation, and begins by saying: “It is not evident, from the characters of those persons, that they were true believers.” I agree with his conclusions, and believe they line up better with the rest of Scripture, and 1 John 2:19 in particular.

    “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

    I believe this passage clearly teaches that those who fall away were never really part of the body of believers or of the faith, though it may have appeared for a time that they were.

  207. Roger Mann said,

    January 16, 2008 at 10:36 am

    204: Joshua wrote,

    I would agree with some of this list, but not all of it. The RCM were in fact sanctified by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:29), and did receive the Holy Spirit in some measure, having a “part” or “share” in Him (Heb. 6:4-5) and perhaps thus, one could say, a “part” in the historical blessings of the kingdom.

    When I wrote that those who fully and finally fall away “never had a part or place in the kingdom of heaven,” I was using the term kingdom of heaven in its full sense of being “born again” (Jn. 3:3-5) and “transferred” from the power of darkness into the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). I completely agree that as members of the “visible church” they had a “part” in (i.e., experienced) the historical blessings of the kingdom (see WCF 25.2).

    Also, when I wrote that they were “never partakers of the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus,” I was specifically referring to the “saving grace” of God not the “common operations of the Spirit” (WCF 10.4). A good historical example would be Simon the sorcerer: “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21).

    In reference to Hebrews 10:29, I do not believe this verse teaches that reprobates who apostatize were “in fact sanctified by the blood of Jesus.” That would contradict numerous passages of Scripture and the Reformed doctrine of limited atonement. Only those for whom Christ died (the elect) are “in fact sanctified by the blood of Jesus.” John Gill provides three alternate interpretations, all of which are consistent with the rest of Scripture and the Reformed doctrine of the atonement:

    “If then these words are to be considered as spoken of these apostates, the meaning of them is, either that they were sanctified, or separated from others, by a visible profession of religion, had given themselves up to a church to walk with them in the ordinances of the Gospel, had submitted to baptism, and partook of the Lord’s Supper, and drank of the cup, the blood of the New Testament, or covenant; though they did not spiritually discern the body and blood of Christ in that ordinance but counted the bread and wine, the symbols thereof, as common things;”

    “Or that they professed themselves, and were looked upon by others, to be truly sanctified by the Spirit, and justified by the blood of Christ. Persons are often described, not by what they really are, but by what they are thought to be. Thus the apostle writing to the Corinthians says of them all, that they were sanctified in Christ Jesus, and by his Spirit, because the professed themselves to be so, and in the opinion of others, were so; though it cannot be thought that they were all of them really so.”

    “But after all, it seems most probable, that not he that trod the Son of God under foot, but the Son of God himself, is said here to be sanctified by the blood of the covenant; which is mentioned as an aggravation of the wickedness of such that count that blood unholy, by which the Son of God himself was sanctified, that is, set apart, hallowed, and consecrated; as Aaron and his sons were by the sacrifices of slain beasts, to minister in the priest’s office: Christ, when he had offered himself, and shed iris precious blood, whereby the covenant of grace was ratified and confirmed, was, through the blood of that covenant, brought again from the dead, and declared to be the Son of God with power; and being set down at God’s right hand, ever lives to make intercession for us; which is the other part of his priestly office he is sanctified by his own blood to accomplish.” (The Cause of God and Truth, Part 1, Sec. 51)

  208. R. F. White said,

    January 16, 2008 at 10:36 am

    204 Temporary faith, temporary forgiveness, temporary justification — Help us out some more. What is the Biblical basis for these concepts?

  209. David Weiner said,

    January 16, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Roger, re: 201,

    I asked you if you thought the one’s in Hebrews 5:12 were ECM or RCM. Your response was that he was writing to them as if their profession of faith were genuine. Of course, all groups have a probability of being mixed in the ECM/RCM sense. So, it appears that you are saying that he is writing to ECM but realizing that there will also be RCM who read it and that the message that they should be teachers by now does not apply to them?

    The main question here upon which we seem to differ is the identity (RCM or ECM) of those in 6:4. I understand you to say that they are RCM as does Gill. Nice company to be in. ;) And, that the falling away is just their leaving the assembly. Is that right?

    If so, then I am even more confused. (I am certainly not blaming you for this. ;) ) The problem is that they can not be renewed to repentance if they leave per Hebrews 6:6. But, if they were never of us then they had never really repented in the first place. Can you shed any light on this issue?

  210. R. F. White said,

    January 16, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    204-207 — Heb 10:29 — Thanks for the exchange and for the citations of Gill.

    It seems to me demonstrable that Heb 10:29 and Heb 6:4-6 are examples of God’s rhetoric of reproach and rebuke in the Bible. According to this view, the contention is that, throughout history, as God administers His covenant, He brings reproach on the name of apostates by mocking their pretensions to blessedness with sarcasm (aka reproachful irony). Multiple Biblical examples from the OT and NT periods are cataloged in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, ed. L Ryken, J. D. Wilhoit, and T. Longman III (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 409; and in E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible Explained and Illustrated (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), 807-15.

    As I see it, the author of Hebrews is, in a sarcastic way, a reproachfully ironic way, attributing certain saving blessings to apostates. Consequently, we are able to discern that, in the author’s eyes, apostates were never actually savingly blessed.

    Fairly consistently, the author sets up a comparison and contrast in the warning passages in Hebrews between the punishments of old covenant apostates and new covenant apostates, ordinarily urging that, because of the progress of the history of revelation and redemption, the sin and punishment of the latter exceeds the sin and punishment of the former. The following picture emerges.

    Israel, by their apostasy in the past, subjected Moses the servant of God to ridicule and the name of God to blasphemy among the Gentiles, casting doubt on His oath to the fathers.

    Apostates today, by their defection, trample Jesus the Son of God under foot, subjecting Him again to the shame of crucifixion and profaning His covenant blood by casting aspersions on its efficacy to save sinners from the bondage of their sins.

    Apostates under Jesus will incur a punishment even more severe than the wrath meted out to apostates under Moses. In keeping with the retributive principle established in Gen 3:15, it will not be Christ who suffers the final and greatest reproach. Rather, as apostates had brought reproach on Christ’s name, so in avenging measure He brings reproach on theirs.

  211. R. F. White said,

    January 16, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    The comparison and contrast between old covt apostates and new covt apostates can be seen by examining the concordance of words and concepts in the OT to those in Hebrews. For example, on Heb 6:4-8, see David Mathewson, “Heb 6:4-6 in Light of the Old Testament,” Westminster Theological Journal [Fall 1999]), where Mathewson rehearses the correspondences of word and theme, showing that the blessings mentioned in the NT warnings, including Heb 6:4-6, are new covenant counterparts to old covenant experiences between the exodus from Egypt and the entry into Canaan. Those experiences focus on the ministry of the Word and the manifestations of the Spirit and His gifts. This thesis would work out something like the following.

    Apostates “have once been enlightened,” 6:4a: Neh 9:19, “You, in Your great compassion, did not forsake them in the wilderness; the pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, to guide them on their way; nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in they were to go.” See also Ps 105:39. The pillar of fire gave Israel light by night in the wilderness. Even so, the light of the gospel of Christ’s glory has shone on sinners through gospel preaching. Matthew applied a comparable light metaphor to Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom, saying, in effect, that, in Jesus’ preaching, great light had come on people sitting in the darkness of sin and death (Matt 4:12-17).

    Apostates “have tasted of the heavenly gift,” 6:4b: Neh 9:15, “You provided bread from heaven for them for their hunger.” See also Exod 16:4; Ps 78:24; 105:40. In the gospel, the Father offers Jesus as the true bread of life, John 6:22-71.

    Apostates “have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,” 6:4c : Neh 9:20, “You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them.” See also Isa 63:11. The Spirit and His gifts were present and active among them, certifying the gospel, Heb 2:3-4.

    Apostates “have tasted the good word of God,” 6:5a: Josh 23:14, “Not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed.” See also Neh 9:13. Israel tasted God’s ‘good word’ as the prophet Moses preached to them. Even so, the new covenant community has tasted God’s ‘good word’ as the apostles and prophets preached to them. And, just as the exodus generation had the promise of rest in Canaan preached to them, so the church has had the promise of rest in New Canaan preached to them (Heb 4:1-2).

    Apostates “[have tasted] the powers of the age to come,” 6:5b: Num 14:11, 22-23, “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? … Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, neither shall any of those who spurned Me see it.” See also Exod 7:3; Ps 78:4, 26, 43; 106:8. The covenant community has seen God testifying to His word through the apostles and prophets by signs, wonders, and deeds of power (Heb 2:4), just as Israel had seen God testifying to His word through the prophet Moses by signs, wonders, and deeds of power (Deut 34:10-12).

  212. Roger Mann said,

    January 16, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    209: David wrote,

    So, it appears that you are saying that he is writing to ECM but realizing that there will also be RCM who read it and that the message that they should be teachers by now does not apply to them?

    Yes, I suppose that is correct, though I would not put it in those words. While he’s writing to the entire body of professing believers, his rebuke would only apply to the majority of genuine believers (the elect) who “ought to be teachers” by that time (5:12), since he recognized that there may be a minority of false believers (reprobates) among them who would eventually “fall away” (6:6) and apostatize.

    The problem is that they can not be renewed to repentance if they leave per Hebrews 6:6. But, if they were never of us [i.e., they were RCM’s] then they had never really repented in the first place. Can you shed any light on this issue?

    Since I’ve already quoted from Gill several times — and I certainly can’t explain it any better — I’ll let him “shed light on this issue”:

    “The phrase, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, does not imply that they had once truly repented, and their loss of true repentance; that cannot be lost, it is inseparably connected with life and salvation, and therefore is called repentance unto life, and unto salvation. The repentance of these persons, like that of Cain, Pharaoh, and Judas, was only a show of one, a counterfeit one; and consequently, the renewing them again to repentance designs a renovation of them to that which they only seemed to have, and to make pretensions to.” (The Cause of God and Truth, Part 1, Sec. 50)

  213. Roger Mann said,

    January 16, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    210 & 211: R.F. White, excellent posts and comments!

  214. R. F. White said,

    January 16, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    212 — Roger Mann, good stuff again from Gill! The assertion by the author of Hebrews regarding the apostate’s impossible future (second!) renewal to repentance necessarily presupposes a prior assertion regarding his past (initial) renewal to repentance; otherwise the use of the adverb ‘again’ [palin] is meaningless. What is more, there is no lexical justification for distinguishing the repentance [metanoia] of 6:6 from the repentance [metanoia] of 6:1 (N.B. the companion grace of ‘faith’ also appears in 6:1). It is the apostate’s failure to continue in repentance (as indicated by his need to be renewed to repentance) that provides us the clue (non-lexical, but contextual) to justify distinguishing the apostate’s initial repentance as temporary and not as persevering and, hence, saving.

  215. Jeff Moss said,

    January 16, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Jeff C. (#205),

    Perhaps instead “sanctification” means something normative: set apart for the Lord and specially obligated to belong to Him, in the same sense that all Israel was holy to the Lord.

    Does that work?

    I agree that this “condition” is a major part of how the Bible describes sanctification (see 1 Cor. 7:12-14; 1 Tim. 4:4-5; Heb. 10:29; etc.). This aspect of sanctification is an objective condition, a done deal. At the same time, it ought to be inseparable from the sanctification of heart and life without which no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).

    A lot of our problems come from constantly asking how far these two aspects of sanctification can be pushed apart — instead of preaching both of them simultaneously and urging the saints to have both of them together.

  216. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 16, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Re #207:

    Roger, notice that saving grace was something I left out–only the things that I mentioned appear to me to be shared in by the RCM.

    As for Heb. 10:29, Gill’s third option doesn’t fit with the Greek. I essentially agree with his first option, but I would strengthen it a little. As we see from Heb. 6:4-5, the person sanctified, set apart through baptism, does participate in some of the blessings of the new age, so this sanctification is not merely external or visible (cf. my difficulties with these dichotomies in comments on JF and TF 2).

    Re: #208:

    Temporary faith: Matt. 13, the rocky and thorny soils (but because true faith, eschatologically understood, is one that perseveres and bears lasting fruit, this temporary experience of notitia, assensus, and positive emotions is only “faith” in some sense…)
    Temporary forgiveness: I would consider that the parable of the unforgiving servant indicates something like this, but I know that there is debate about whether that detail of the parable should be applied. I think it should, given the qualifications I laid out in #203.
    Temporary justification: I don’t think I would use that term. Does anyone use this terminology besides Wilkins? I think that when he uses it, he always uses the scare quotes, to indicate that it is an experience that seems similar to true justification, but is not really. He explains that this “justification” of the RCM is not bringing the final judgment upon that individual into the present, which is the case for the elect. Here’s a terminological point that I don’t think I agree with him on. Wilson talks about the RCM as “unjustified members of the Justified Body,” which I think is okay, depending on context. It is important to highlight the ecclesiastical and corporate context of individual justification, but I don’t think I would use those terms, since they could be misunderstood.

  217. Roger Mann said,

    January 16, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    214: R. F. White wrote,

    It is the apostate’s failure to continue in repentance (as indicated by his need to be renewed to repentance) that provides us the clue (non-lexical, but contextual) to justify distinguishing the apostate’s initial repentance as temporary and not as persevering and, hence, saving.

    I agree that the key to correctly interpreting this passage is “contextual” rather than “lexical,” however I see several problems with your conclusion here. First, the author caps this section off by saying:

    “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.” Hebrews 6:9

    As I mentioned before, if this verse means what it says, then verses 4-8 describe things that do not “accompany” or “belong to salvation” (ESV). Thus, it is not a reference to genuine believers or genuine repentance, no matter how much it may sound like it is. This was precisely Gill’s point when he wrote:

    “Now it may be observed, that here is nothing said of these persons but what may be applied to hypocrites, nor any thing that is peculiar to true believers; these are not said to be regenerated, nor sanctified, nor justified, nor adopted, nor sealed by the Holy Spirit of God, all which are true of real saints. Besides, true believers are in the context, manifestly distinguished from them, and are compared to the fruitful earth, when others are only likened to the barren land, verse 8, 9.” (The Cause of God and Truth, Part 1, Sec. 50)

    So, the “context” argues for the opposite of your conclusion.

    Second, if their “repentance” was genuine from the beginning, then it would have been “saving” and hence “lasting” (see Acts 11:18; 15:8-9; 2 Tim. 2:25; etc.). As the Confession makes clear, genuine “repentance unto life is an evangelical grace” (WCF 15.1) granted to the elect alone.

    Finally, your conclusion contradicts 1 John 2:19, which clearly teaches that those who fall away were never really part of the body of believers or of the faith, though it may have appeared for a time that they were:

    “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

    If the apostates’ “repentance” in Hebrews 6:6 was genuine (with the only flaw that it was not “persevering”), then John could not have written that “none of them were of us” — for they would have been “of us” until their repentance failed to persevere and they proceeded to “fall away.”

  218. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 16, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    And I’ll chime in in saying that 210 & 211 are excellent points. This also goes with the previous comment, since one could talk about a historical “justification” or vindication (but it’s the same Greek & Hebrew terminology) of the nation of Israel in the Exodus: they were demonstrated to be in the right about who was God. The God of Israel was true and mighty, the gods of the Egyptians were not. So, corporately, Israel was shown to be right to follow YHWH–of course, as individuals, many of them did not. They were vindicated through the work of their mediator, Moses…

  219. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 16, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Jeff Moss (#215):

    Yes, I agree. Interesting that you picked 1 Cor 7.12-14 as an example; that passage was at the back of my mind as well.

    Let me distinguish two aspects or types of sanctification.

    Normative sanctification: Being “set apart” in the sense that all Israel was set apart.

    Definitive sanctification: being internally regenerated so that “set apart” behavior follows. (this term borrowed from John Murray)

    Now, the two are inseparably related in the realm of ethics: all who are normatively sanctified should necessarily, are morally obligated to be, be definitively sanctified. Hence, we should not push the two apart (as you say) to the extent that we allow for a legitimate category of person who claims the name of Christ (normatively sanctified) but refuses to obey his commands (siding with his sin nature).

    But in the realm of experiential religion, the two are quite separable. Those who have been set apart as God’s people will nevertheless often exhibit the deeds of the flesh. That is, their definitive sanctification has not yet completely renovated their minds and hearts to the point of glorification.

    Or even, some who have been normatively sanctified, who have been marked as “God’s people”, have never experienced regeneration at all. And that category of person *doesn’t have the right* to be in the Church. As a result, (s)he is in danger of “falling into the hands of the living God.”

    And it makes all manner of sense to me to read Hebrews 10 now in that light. The author is addressing an entire group of those who profess faith. All are “set apart” in the sense of being marked as Jesus’ people. But (perhaps) not all are regenerated. Thus, he urges them all to draw near to the high priest and endure through faith (“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”).

    For those who are already regenerated, the result will be endurance to run the race. And for those who are not already regenerated but who heed the warnings, the result will be the cleansing of their hearts.

    Now, this account is basically a “judgment of charity” kind of theology, but it adds a single small element: those who are within the Church *are* sanctified and holy in the sense of “being set apart.” While we don’t know who’s “really saved”, we do know who ought to be saved.

    So over against Thornwell, I would argue that our children are not Esaus until they prove otherwise. Rather, they are like the children of Israel: regenerational status unknown, moral obligations certain. For example, they are obligated to fulfill the duties of Eph 4 and 1 Cor 12-14 (and thus, WCoF 26).

    But over against FV theology, I would argue that the term “objective covenant” misses the mark by a bit. Yes, all those who are “within the sphere of the covenant” (to use the classic term) are there objectively. But no, they are not all there legitimately. They do not all have access to Christ’s life-giving sap because they are not all regenerated. Thus, these RCMs are morally obligated to behave as God’s people, but are unable to do so.

    And in this sense, their baptism is judgment to them.

    Also, I object to the term “objective covenant” because “objective” equivocates. Is the RCM objectively in covenant with God? As measured by the objective standard of “being a member of the Visible Church”, yes. As measured by the objective standard of “being regenerated and justified”, no. I think I know what was intended by the term “objective”, namely, “empirical.” But it was an unfortunate choice of terms.

    A lot of the FV debate has centered around the precise ontological nature of the RCMs, and the resulting discussions have gotten us all wrapped around the axle.

    I’m suggesting that we might get more mileage if we read the sanctification of the Visible Church members in the normative, ethical realm: (s)he is set apart, holy to God in the sense of being set apart as belonging to Him.

    In the truly objective realm, the realm of actually belonging to the Church as a legitimate member — who knows? (But the fruit borne, the profession of faith, and the participation in the fellowship of the saints provides evidence).

    This is new thought territory for me, and I would appreciate any and all criticism.

    Jeff Cagle

  220. R. F. White said,

    January 16, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    217 — Roger, we may be talking past each other, at least in part. Let me try again and see if we aren’t closer to agreement than you think.

    On your first point, I agree with you that the author of Hebrews is addressing his readers with the “judgment of charity” in his letter. As you suggest, he writes to them as if their profession of faith is genuine, while acknowledging that there may be exceptions. In 6:4-8 he describes the exceptions, and in 6:9 he assures his readers that he does not count them among the exceptions, even though reproves them for their spiritual condition.

    That point aside, Gill’s arguments, which you cite, appear as little more than special pleading when we consider that the author does make reference in the immediate preceding verses to repentance and faith in 6:1. Gill’s (and your) claim — that the author’s statement of confidence in 6:9 implies that the experiences mentioned in 6:4-5 are not among the “better things,” “the things that accompany salvation.” — appears to assume that the “better things” in 6:9 must include things not only better than the deeds of apostates in 6:6 but also better than the experiences attributed to apostates in 6:4-5. That assumption is gratuitous: it is enough to see the comparison as being between the “things of apostasy” in 6:6 and the “things of perseverance” in 6:10-12: that is, the things of perseverance, rehearsed in 6:10-12, are better than the things of apostasy in 6:6. The “for” that introduces 6:10 indicates that the details of 6:10ff. are the evidence by which the author substantiates his statement of confidence in 6:9. In other words, the better things that belong to salvation that make him confident for them are the things of their perseverance itemized in 6:10-12.

    On your second and third points, I think we have talked passed each other here. I don’t disagree with your points. The past repentance attributed to apostates in 6:6 (6:1) was attributed to them by the judgment of charity. Once apostasy occurred in those who were formerly judged to be repentant, the judgment of charity no longer applied, In fact, their repentance, formerly thought to be genuine by the judgment of charity, is exposed for what it is: no repentance at all.

  221. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 16, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Joshua (#216):

    Temporary justification: I don’t think I would use that term. Does anyone use this terminology besides Wilkins?

    Yes. Steven Wedgewood defends the idea that “real justification can be lost” as orthodox, and attributes that view (with cause, I should add) to Augustine and Luther.

    Xon Hostetter has argued for it, though we’re still working on what that might mean. And he, apparently, follows Jim Jordan on this point.

    I don’t know whether Rich Lusk would speak of temporary justification, but he certainly speaks of “initial justification”, “subsequent justifications”, and “future justification”, which suggests that one might experience the first without the others.

    I don’t have “The Federal Vision” in front of me, but the final three chapters are related to the issues of justification and apostasy; you might find something there.

    Jeff Cagle

  222. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 16, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Re: #219.

    I think you’re leaving out an important 3rd type of sanctification, Jeff, viz. progressive sanctification (WCF 13). It is this type of sanctification that is the moral obligation, not definitive sanctification/regeneration. Would you really say that regeneration is morally obligatory? Is it part of the imperative? I don’t think so, since it is not even part of our natural faculties to change our nature. We are not commanded to be born again, but to repent and believe, which can only be accomplished when the necessary condition of regeneration has been performed by God. In John 3, the imperative is not used for being born again; instead, it is set up as an exclusive condition (v. 3) and a necessity (v. 7). It’s simply not something we can do–it’s a creative work of the Spirit, just as the first creation was (v. 8).

    As I recall definitive sanctification, it is part of the indicative: God has transferred us from the rule of death through sin into the rule of righteousness through Jesus Christ. The imperative follows from this, which is to mortify the sinful flesh with its desire, etc.–progressive sanctification.

    You say: “he urges them all to draw near to the high priest and endure through faith (”Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”).

    For those who are already regenerated, the result will be endurance to run the race. And for those who are not already regenerated but who heed the warnings, the result will be the cleansing of their hearts.”

    I’m pretty sure you simply overlooked something here: wouldn’t we agree that only those who have been regenerated can heed the warnings? You seem to say here that the “result” of “draw[ing] near to the high priest and endur[ing] in faith” will be a “cleansing of heart” for those “not already regenerated…”–but I don’t think you mean to imply that…

    I think, though, that it is important to look at the idea of definitive sanctification–is it the same as regeneration? That is the debated point: can we say to the unregenerate church member that they have been “delivered from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son”? I would say that we can: through baptism they are now under the covenant rule of Christ, instead of merely His general sovereignty, and if they do not live as befits members of the kingdom, they will be cast out and will not inherit the fullness of the kingdom.

  223. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 16, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    And Jeff C., I forgot to preface my criticisms with an appreciation of your comments in #219 (and throughout!). I’m continuing to find this dialogue helpful, and your contribution and tone not the least in that respect! Thanks.

  224. January 16, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    ” I would say that we can: through baptism they are now under the covenant rule of Christ, instead of merely His general sovereignty, and if they do not live as befits members of the kingdom, they will be cast out and will not inherit the fullness of the kingdom.”

    It is very hard to take seriously FV protests that it does not hold to an “in by grace, stay in by works” covenant nomism when one runs across statements like these.

  225. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Josh,

    Thanks for the feedback. You’re absolutely right that I left out progressive sanctification; I was blinkered on Heb 10.26 and didn’t step back far enough.

    Would you really say that regeneration is morally obligatory? Is it part of the imperative? I don’t think so, since it is not even part of our natural faculties to change our nature. We are not commanded to be born again, but to repent and believe, which can only be accomplished when the necessary condition of regeneration has been performed by God. In John 3, the imperative is not used for being born again; instead, it is set up as an exclusive condition (v. 3) and a necessity (v. 7). It’s simply not something we can do–it’s a creative work of the Spirit, just as the first creation was (v. 8).

    This is interesting, and I need to think more on it, especially the whole indicative/imperative paradigm. A few quick responses:

    (1) Fulfilling the obligations of the Law is morally obligatory on all, though not naturally possible for anyone. So I’m not too worried about inability here.

    (2) And perhaps, it would be more precise anyways to say that those who are “set apart” are specially morally obligated to keep the Law.

    (3) I’m pretty sure you simply overlooked something here: wouldn’t we agree that only those who have been regenerated can heed the warnings? You seem to say here that the “result” of “draw[ing] near to the high priest and endur[ing] in faith” will be a “cleansing of heart” for those “not already regenerated…”–but I don’t think you mean to imply that…

    Actually, I did, but not in the heretical sense. :) Rather, I meant that the warning (as part of God’s word) can be the occasion for regeneration, and thus cleansing of heart, for some. For whatever reason, I’m stuck on the idea that the author to the Hebrews is offering a kind of last chance to the reprobates among them who continue to offer sacrifices as if Jesus had not died once-for-all. Perhaps I’m mis-reading it.

    (4) I think, though, that it is important to look at the idea of definitive sanctification–is it the same as regeneration? Good question. Not according to Murray:

    While regeneration is an all-important factor in definitive sanctification, it would not be proper to subsume the latter under the topic “regeneration.” The reason is that what is most characteristic in definitive sanctification, namely, death to sin by union with Christ in his death and newness of life by union with him in his resurrection, cannot properly be referred to regeneration by the Spirit. There is multiformity to that which occurs at the inception of the Christian life, and each facet must be accorded its own particularity. Calling, for example, as the action of the Father, must not be defined in terms of what is specifically the action of the Holy Spirit, namely, regeneration. Definitive sanctification, likewise, must be allowed its own individuality. We impoverish our conception of definitive grace when we fail to appreciate the distinctiveness of each aspect or indulge in over-simplification. — John Murray, “Definitive Sanctification”, fn. 4

    But the pragmatic difference between the two is razor-thin. All who receive DS do so because they have been regenerated; all who are regenerate receive DS.

    AND

    “Regeneration” as used by Calvin is different from “regeneration” as used in the WCoF. For Calvin, regeneration is a gift of the spirit corresponding to repentance — hence much more connected with sanctification — and *follows* faith rather than preceding it (Calv. Inst 3.1.1,3). This usage of regeneration (a work of the Spirit that causes us to repent of sin) is much closer to DS.

    I tend to lapse into this usage, and that’s exactly what happened up in post #219. The “normatively sanctified” are under obligation to be dead to sin.

    So, thanks for the sharpening comments.

    Jeff Cagle

  226. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 16, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    So, David G., can we inherit the fullness of the kingdom even if we do not put to death our sinful nature and produce lasting fruit?

    I would say that with respect to the historical covenantal community, we are in by baptism and public profession, and we stay in this community through living faith, which necessarily produces and is therefore made visible to that community only through the works it produces. If we abide to the end, trusting in Christ with the kind of faith that produces fruit (which is the only kind that does truly rest in Christ), then we enter into the inheritance of glory which Christ’s perfect merit and righteousness have earned for His people. We remain in the visible, historic covenantal community by works, yes, because those entrusted with the oversight of that community cannot read the hearts of men, but those works are not the grounds for our receiving the fullness of the eternal inheritance–that can be done only by Christ’s atoning sacrifice to do away with sin and his perfect covenantal faithfulness (trusting the Father and keeping the law perfectly). If we view the covenant from its decretal perspective, we are placed in and kept in by God’s sovereign choice, based purely on his good pleasure and not on any works we have done or are foreseen to do, even those wrought in us by the Holy Spirit.

    FV enough for you?

  227. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 16, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    That is the debated point: can we say to the unregenerate church member that they have been “delivered from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son”? I would say that we can: through baptism they are now under the covenant rule of Christ, instead of merely His general sovereignty, and if they do not live as befits members of the kingdom, they will be cast out and will not inherit the fullness of the kingdom.

    That’s a sticking point. Exegetically, I read Col 1.13 as a statement applying to those who actually have forgiveness of their sins and who are actually qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints. And the non-justified aren’t.

    For another, I read “the kingdom” in an eschatological sense, with now/not-yet implications for history. I suspect a post-mill might tend to read “the kingdom” in a more “Christendom” sense, which would lend support to reading Col. 1.13 as true for all members of the Visible Church. But because I don’t share that eschatological perspective, I’m less primed to see it in that way.

    And so I would say to the unregenerate church member that (s)he needs to begin at the beginning: repent and believe the Gospel. You have been drawn into the sphere of God’s church, you ought to believe, and you know the promises — believe them.

    I also see a potential danger in saying “…if they do not live as befits members of the kingdom, they will be cast out…” because so many interpret a condition like that as a causal statement: our lack of works will cause us to be cast out. That appears to be David G’s concern.

    The truth is, for those who do not believe, the wrath of God remains on them, and they are judged for their unbelief. The lack of works is simply evidentiary or additional fuel for the fire.

    Jeff Cagle

  228. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 16, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    My pleasure, Jeff. Do you have a comment on the end of #221, the part that David G. identifies as “covenant nomism”? I think I may be extending Murray’s definitive sanctification to cover the RCM in some way, which he does not seem to have intended. Is this problematic?

  229. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 16, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Sorry–I wrote 227 while you were writing 226!

  230. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 16, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    You imply that the following is an error: “our lack of works will cause us to be cast out.”

    So, a lack of works, a lack of fruit, won’t cause us to be cast out?? Could you please elaborate on that, or clarify it, since this sounds like it runs totally contrary to much Jesus’ teaching (e.g., Matt. 21:33ff)…

  231. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 16, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Joshua (#230):

    So, a lack of works, a lack of fruit, won’t cause us to be cast out?? Could you please elaborate on that, or clarify it, since this sounds like it runs totally contrary to much Jesus’ teaching (e.g., Matt. 21:33ff)…

    Well first, the statement “if they do not live as befits members of the kingdom, they will be cast out and will not inherit the fullness of the kingdom” is technically true. So I’m not criticizing it as a flat error, per se.

    The issue is specifying the causation.

    The unregenerate’s lack of fruit certainly makes him guilty of failing to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength and neighbor as self. So when the books are opened, unbelievers will certainly be confronted with what they have done and judged accordingly (Rev. 20).

    But what causes good works? They are the fruit of the Spirit, the result of faith working through love. So in the end, a Christian will necessarily produces works because the Spirit necessarily resides in him. That’s the efficient cause of good works.

    What then causes a lack of works? Not having a live root. Not being born again. Not believing.

    This is, I think, what Jesus means when he says “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” and again “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (Jhn 3) The unbeliever is already condemned, regardless of the “fruit” he bears.

    So if we trace the causal chain back, it goes like this:

    lack of fruit <= caused by = lack of belief <= caused by = sin nature.

    I suspect we’re in agreement here.

    The danger in attributing being cast off to a lack of works is that it will communicate two things to the congregation. To those who lack assurance, it can lead them to believe that their continued status in Christ depends on working hard. And to those who are unregenerate within the Visible Church, it can back-handedly suggest that doing good works is the means of maintaining their status, and that their status can somehow “morph” into being regenerate simply by virtue of persevering in what they are already doing.

    Whereas, if we assign works to be the result of faith working in love, empowered by the HS, and then make it clear that all who believe (a) are sons of God through faith, and (b) will produce the fruit of the Spirit in varying degrees, then we maintain (I think) Jesus’ teachings on works while placing the right remedy, faith, always before the congregation.

    Re-reading your statement once again makes me think about something else:

    can we say to the unregenerate church member that they have been “delivered from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son”? I would say that we can: through baptism they are now under the covenant rule of Christ, instead of merely His general sovereignty, and if they do not live as befits members of the kingdom, they will be cast out and will not inherit the fullness of the kingdom.

    One of the worries I have about the Objective Covenant is an insinuated “election leakage”, the suggestion that covenantal election *can become* decretal election for those who persevere.

    Take an unregenerate covenant member. Now, tell him that if he does not live as befits members of the kingdom, he will be cast out. Assuming he believes you “in some sense”, he work to make sure that, to his satisfaction, his life befits members of the kingdom.

    Now what if, to all external measures, he *succeeds*?

    Does that make him regenerate? Not at all.

    Now, we might say that a non-regenerate person can’t possibly really live as befits members of the kingdom. But I’ll tell ya — there really are many folk within the Visible Church across America who, to all *external measures* (and therefore to their own satisfaction) look like Christians, but whose definition of the Gospel is “Jesus gives me a second chance to get my life right.”

    I am confident that the FV advocates would agree that perseverance in covenantal election can’t change the decrees of God.

    But I’m not so confident that their hearers will catch that nuance.

    And so on that score, I would say that “if they do not live as befits members of the kingdom, they will be cast out” is a teaching error, because it focuses attention on the wrong solution of producing works rather than on the right solution of believing the Gospel.

    Jeff Cagle

  232. David Gadbois said,

    January 17, 2008 at 3:51 am

    Jeff C. said:

    Yes. Steven Wedgewood defends the idea that “real justification can be lost” as orthodox, and attributes that view (with cause, I should add) to Augustine and Luther.

    I read that post some time back. As much precedent as there is for such a view, it is not a confessionally Reformed view. Should it shock anyone that Luther and Augustine weren’t confessionally-reformed, as much good for the church as they did in their time and circumstance? And, yes, there were some early Reformed who held to this view, but that view was eventually precluded by the received confessional standards (3FU and WS). See CoD 5, RE 3, WCF 3.6; and 11.6.

    Xon Hostetter has argued for it, though we’re still working on what that might mean. And he, apparently, follows Jim Jordan on this point.

    Maybe he should “keep working on what that might mean” in the privacy of his own home before he joins the FV rabble in disturbing the church of Christ with half-thoughtout speculations, tinkerings, and novelties. Seriously.

  233. David Gadbois said,

    January 17, 2008 at 4:29 am

    Joshua said:

    “Temporary forgiveness: I would consider that the parable of the unforgiving servant indicates something like this, but I know that there is debate about whether that detail of the parable should be applied. I think it should, given the qualifications I laid out in #203.”

    I don’t know how this category is any better than the idea of temporary justification. A few posts back, I posted an article criticizing the idea of “corporate justification.” The same criticisms would apply to the idea of temporary forgiveness. I don’t see that idea as any sort of improvement.

    First, it is a concept that is vague (indeed, incoherent) in definition. Pointing to a parable doesn’t help the matter. And it ignores the fact that God’s justice is binary – either one has satisfied the demands of God’s law and is therefore at peace with Him or one is not.

    Second, it is exegetically weak. It is quite telling that FV has a habit of running to parables to establish their peculiar ideas rather than more clear passages of Scripture. This is not “good and *necessary* consequence” theologizing, people. This is pressing the details of a parable in order to make a kooky system work.

    The parable can “work” and teach us that those who do not forgive others will not be saved. We don’t need to try to squeeze a one-to-one correspondence out of it.

    Third, I would urge everyone to, again, read Romans 1-3, where we see that Israel “fell short of the glory of God” and was not justified – in the same boat as Gentile unbelievers. These RCM/NECM were not justified and not forgiven. This fact is constantly ignored in these discussions.

    Fourth, to say that RCM were “temporarily forgiven” as defined here:

    I would distinguish between an eschatological forgiveness and a temporal remission, or setting aside of the penalty. This temporal remission is something like the common grace of forbearance, but differs in being granted to covenant members, rather than the world in general. For the time being, the penalty which could be required immediately is set aside, but if true faith is absent, the debt is called in–and I’m sure you can see clearly the interpretation of the unforgiving servant in the background

    Does the FV never blush at its own desperate sophistry? I know, Josh, that you may not want to be labeled FV, but you’ve far too much cyber-ink in this thread supporting these views.

    What this explanation absolutely fails to do, however, is to actually tell us how the RCM has any benefits (resulting from some “forgiveness”) beyond the common grace of non-covenant member reprobates. Both parties do not yet “have their debt called in” and enjoy many earthly delights and benefits. Yes, the RCM do have the additional benefits of the preached Word and administration of the CoG, but this really doesn’t help this scheme along. That fact doesn’t (at least, not obviously) stem from the fact that one party is “forgiven” (everyone say it with me: “in some sense”!) and the other is not. It just seems that one party has additional common grace (notice: not universal grace, but common grace) that the other party does not.

  234. David Gadbois said,

    January 17, 2008 at 4:50 am

    Joshua said:

    I think, though, that it is important to look at the idea of definitive sanctification–is it the same as regeneration? That is the debated point: can we say to the unregenerate church member that they have been “delivered from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son”? I would say that we can: through baptism they are now under the covenant rule of Christ, instead of merely His general sovereignty, and if they do not live as befits members of the kingdom, they will be cast out and will not inherit the fullness of the kingdom.

    With regard to the definition of “regeneration” as well as “definitive sanctification”, this is clear equivocation. The ordo salutis category of regeneration is indexed to John 3’s teaching on the new birth, something which is more than just being “under the covenant rule of Christ.” John 3 is talking about a heart transformation unto eternal salvation. This concept cannot simply be smeared together with the idea of merely being under the administration of the visible church. Nor can definitive sanctification. Notice that the primary proof-texts for definitive sanctification all refer to members of the invisible church – I Cor 6:11, 2 Tim 2:21, and Eph 5:25, not all members of the visible church (if you examine each context). Simply because one is legally a member of the CoG and in the visible church does not mean that they have experienced a definitive break with sin and does not live under sin’s dominion. That is demonstrably false.

    What appeal is there, Joshua, in trying to blur the line between ECM and RCM in this? Why must we all see some sort of parallel ordo salutis or quasi-salvation for RCM? I honestly want to know, because clearly the driving force behind all of these speculations and tinkerings is not exegesis.

  235. David Gadbois said,

    January 17, 2008 at 5:00 am

    Jeff Cagle said:

    The issue is specifying the causation….

    But what causes good works? They are the fruit of the Spirit, the result of faith working through love. So in the end, a Christian will necessarily produces works because the Spirit necessarily resides in him. That’s the efficient cause of good works.

    Precisely. It is telling that we must explain this same principle to Romanists (who misuse such parables in the same way) as we do to FV proponents. Good works are *descriptive*, not prescriptive conditions. Good works, therefore, are evidentiary and not causal in our salvation *or* our the condition required in the Covenant of Grace (as if the two were separated):

    “wherein he freely offered unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.”

    People, what does WCF say the CoG requires of us? Faith or works or “covenantal faithfulness” or perseverance?

  236. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 17, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Maybe he should “keep working on what that might mean” in the privacy of his own home before he joins the FV rabble in disturbing the church of Christ with half-thoughtout speculations, tinkerings, and novelties. Seriously.

    That’s unkind, and I would not have posted that link if I thought it would lead to that criticism. Xon has *not* published his ideas, and our discussion is on my own relatively low-traffic website, and he has been upfront abuut the speculative nature of his thoughts. Grrr….

    Jeff Cagle

  237. its.reed said,

    January 17, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Ref. #236:

    Dave, while in complete agreement with the caution you offer, I think I’ll join Jeff in suggesting you might speak better of Xon – and at the same time offer the criticism.

    Just a plea for more thoughtful words, especially when they must necessarily move in an direction you know the other person will find provocative. My goal (not acheived, but always strive for) is to make my words like a knife in a skilled surgeon’s hands, they cut so painlessly that the person doesn’t feel the pain until the operation to heal them is almost over.

    (Of course, from the faith perspective, else anyone misunderstand me to be claiming something I do not. I’m more akin to the knife in the Surgeon’s hands, maybe even the handle of the knife if we want to include the Word in the analogy. But oh well, let’s end this exercise of trying to make an analogy say more than it possibly can. :) )

  238. Roger Mann said,

    January 17, 2008 at 10:38 am

    220: R. F. White wrote,

    Roger, we may be talking past each other, at least in part. Let me try again and see if we aren’t closer to agreement than you think. On your first point, I agree with you that the author of Hebrews is addressing his readers with the “judgment of charity” in his letter. As you suggest, he writes to them as if their profession of faith is genuine, while acknowledging that there may be exceptions. In 6:4-8 he describes the exceptions, and in 6:9 he assures his readers that he does not count them among the exceptions, even though reproves them for their spiritual condition.

    Ok, perhaps I misunderstood something you wrote earlier, for I agree with everything you have stated here. However, you then go on to say a few things in your second paragraph that appear to conflict with what you have written above. Maybe I’m just slow today! :-) For example, you wrote:

    That point aside, Gill’s arguments, which you cite, appear as little more than special pleading when we consider that the author does make reference in the immediate preceding verses to repentance and faith in 6:1.

    I’m not sure how Gill’s argument is “special pleading” if the author of Hebrews is speaking to his readers with the “judgment of charity” (as if their repentance and faith is genuine) and verses 4-8 “describes the exceptions” (those whose repentance and faith is not genuine). Later, in your third paragraph, you even seem to acknowledge that the “repentance” of 6:1 and 6:6 are not the same: “In fact, their repentance, formerly thought to be genuine by the judgment of charity, is exposed for what it is: no repentance at all.” So, if their repentance was really “no repentance at all,” then how is Gill’s point “special pleading?”

    Gill’s (and your) claim – that the author’s statement of confidence in 6:9 implies that the experiences mentioned in 6:4-5 are not among the “better things,” “the things that accompany salvation.” – appears to assume that the “better things” in 6:9 must include things not only better than the deeds of apostates in 6:6 but also better than the experiences attributed to apostates in 6:4-5.

    But if their repentance was really “no repentance at all,” then aren’t you “assuming” the very same thing — that the “experiences mentioned in 6:4-5″ are not among those things that “accompany salvation?” Remember, he’s no longer speaking with the “judgment of charity” in verses 4-5, but is rather listing the “exceptions.” Therefore, since those who are included among the “exceptions” never truly repented, and were never truly saved, then their “experiences mentioned in 6:4-5″ must have been experiences that fall short of salvation. That is not an “assumption” but rather a “good and necessary consequence” of the teaching of Scripture.

    That assumption is gratuitous: it is enough to see the comparison as being between the “things of apostasy” in 6:6 and the “things of perseverance” in 6:10-12: that is, the things of perseverance, rehearsed in 6:10-12, are better than the things of apostasy in 6:6. The “for” that introduces 6:10 indicates that the details of 6:10ff. are the evidence by which the author substantiates his statement of confidence in 6:9. In other words, the better things that belong to salvation that make him confident for them are the things of their perseverance itemized in 6:10-12.

    Again, for the reasons cited above, I’m confused as to how this is “gratuitous.” I agree that “the details of 6:10ff. are the evidence by which the author substantiates his statement of confidence in 6:9.” But how does that argue against the points I’ve raised above? Is not the apostasy of 6:6 also “evidence” that their “experiences mentioned in 6:4-5″ must have been experiences that fall short of salvation (i.e., do not “accompany salvation”)? I fail to see how it could not be.

    Anyway, I appreciate your comments, and hopefully I’m not still misunderstanding you.

  239. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    David G.,

    Working backwards through your posts:

    #235: I completely agree with Jeff on this. If you could point me to anything in my cyber-ink that indicates that good works are the meritorious or efficient cause of our salvation, I would love to clarify that, since I don’t think it is the case. Good works are necessary, non-meritorious conditions for receiving eternal life, because they are the necessary fruit of living faith, the only kind of faith that truly receives and rest on Christ alone. And your final question is a false disjunction, given WCF 14.2 & 16.2-3.

    #234: You may have misunderstood…I was actually saying that regeneration is not the same thing as definitive sanctification and characterizing the latter as being “under the covenant rule of Christ” –notice that I applied this term specifically to the “unregenerate church member.” Is this exactly what Murray meant by the term? No, but I wasn’t saying that either. Using Jeff’s terms, in the normative perspective, there is a definitive break with sin: baptism signifies that break with sin that is required of every professing believer, so undergoing that baptism is a covenantal break with sin…And I’m not trying to blur the distinctions, just to understand how to deal with that fact that within history RCM and ECM can look very much the same to us at a particular time (as Reed said elsewhere, they appear undifferentiated). The distinctions from God’s perspective are perfectly clear, but we can’t see it from where he does…

    #233: The only reason I would not want to be identified as FV is so that certain parties will not simply dismiss what I’m saying, David. Ring any bells? Why must you insist on my “desperate sophistry”? Do you know the status of my heart? Am I truly desperate? Am I being deliberately invalid in my argumentation in order to deceive? You cannot know that, so dial down the rhetoric. I have not impugned your intentions at all, so kindly return the favor. As for the argument, I haven’t read your post on corporate justification, so I’ll put that off. On your fourth point, I would agree with you–that’s why I compared “temporary forgiveness” to forbearance; I might even say that the former is a type of the latter (would “covenantal forbearance” work better, so that we see that they are really more in the position of the world than the elect?). I would just be a little more “glass half full”–the ONLY additional benefits they enjoy are the Word and Sacraments? That’s it? I would not consider that a minor difference. So, yes, the difference is that the RCM has some additional benefits that the reprobate worldling does not, but those benefits make all the difference–the covenantal reprobate are condemned more, because they had more and squandered it. Sure, there are only two positions: at peace with God, or at war against Him–but the RCM are at war from within His house, which makes a difference. I’m trying to figure out a way to express that without dismissing the benefits upon the RCM as negligible…

  240. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Re: #231

    Jeff, your suspicion is correct–we are in agreement. We should not offer works as the remedy to the weak, but Christ, as He is found in the Word and Sacraments. How should we deal, do you think, with the presumptuous, who are not living a godly life, but when confronted, insist that they really do believe and quote Paul to the effect that we are justified apart from works? Should we apply to them the condition: if you do not produce fruit, you will be cast out? Then, if the warning brings them to repentance, we point them to Christ as the solution to their lack of works…What do you think? No sophistry here–this is a serious question, not a rhetorical one.

    On your point about the hearers of the FV, you may be correct. I’ve thought about trying to listen through the weekly sermons of those men to see what their consistent preaching is like, but that’s more time than I have. I did attend Doug Wilson’s church for about a year or so some time ago, and I was impressed with his focus on faith. For example, in a sermon series on the seven deadly sins, he nailed us with the law and its demands, but always present the solution along these lines: “You may say ‘I have done these things! What should I do?’ The answer is not vain resolution: you cannot do better. The answer is to look to Christ, who has taken the penalty for you…” He never pointed to works as the way to fix any sin, but rather to faith in Christ, and exhorted the congregation to press on because of what Christ had done. So, the one example of FV preaching that I am familiar seems to avoid the problem you are describing.

  241. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 17, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Joshua (#240):

    I’m glad to hear that Doug focused on faith as the remedy. Oddly enough, the tack that I’m taking was something I began to think about through Sonship training, which seems miles apart from FV in many ways.

    How should we deal, do you think, with the presumptuous, who are not living a godly life, but when confronted, insist that they really do believe and quote Paul to the effect that we are justified apart from works? Should we apply to them the condition: if you do not produce fruit, you will be cast out?

    This is actually a current issue in a particular case in my own shepherding, and I apply the condition like this: The fruit that you bear is evidence of your root. And if the fruit is bad, then you need to consider the real possibility that you’ve never had the root to begin with. And if that’s the case, and you persist in telling your officers that your life is just fine, thanks very much, then we need to walk down the path of church discipline with you.

    Notice that all three perspectives are firing simultaneously here: The hypothetical person here applies situational information (his known behavior), normative information (the way he ought to be acting as a member of Christ’s Church), and existential information (what is the status of your heart?) to determine whether he really is a part of the Church or not.

    And if not, then the remedy is “either hot or cold” — either to repent and believe or else acknowledge the truth and leave the Church.

    So the distinctions are these:

    FV: “You *are* a member of the Church by virtue of your baptism”

    Thornwell: “You are a junior member of the Visible Church, but you’re under probation until you prove that you really belong to the real, invisible Church.”

    Mine: “You are a member of the Visible Church as sealed by your baptism, and thus you *ought* to be a member of Christ’s Church.”

    (Dispensational: “Visible Church? What Visible Church?!”)

    (I say “as sealed” rather than “by virtue of” because I believe that we baptize covenant infants because they are members of the Visible Church, not in order to make them so.)

    Jeff Cagle

  242. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 17, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks, Jeff. Could I modify the FV distinction? It seems that those writers do make a distinction, viz. between the historical and eschatological church. So they would say: “You are a member of the historical church, and thus you ought to behave as those who will receive the inheritance (i.e., the eschatological church).” That is how they would apply church discipline, as far as I can tell…

    “And if the fruit is bad, then you need to consider the real possibility that you’ve never had the root to begin with.”

    I still see this sort of statement as unduly circuitous, much as my pastor fried added election in the middle of his argument for banning someone from the table. If I were to speak to such a person the way that Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 10:6-13, would that be acceptable? He doesn’t argue to the reality of the root, but simply from the covenantal reality of baptism to what should be done. Or could I apply Rom. 6:2ff to someone who uses God’s grace as an excuse to sin? If they are intentionally continuing in sin, and even misusing the doctrine of grace, that would seem to indicate that their profession is not genuine, right? But Paul still seems to argue with such a person from the covenantal reality of baptism…

    Perhaps I should ask it as a question: to whom would you apply Rom. 6?

  243. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 17, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    I suppose we should note v. 19–Paul recognizes that he speaks this way is not perfect…I would call this the historical perspective, not perfectly representing God’s eternal, decretal perspective, but still the way that Paul argues…

  244. R. F. White said,

    January 17, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    238 — Roger, thanks again for continuing the conversation. We may be veering away from the topic of the original post into another topic, namely, one of Lane’s prior posts on the warnings in Hebrews.

    1. You write,
    I’m not sure how Gill’s argument is “special pleading” if the author of Hebrews is speaking to his readers with the “judgment of charity” (as if their repentance and faith is genuine) and verses 4-8 “describes the exceptions” (those whose repentance and faith is not genuine). Later, in your third paragraph, you even seem to acknowledge that the “repentance” of 6:1 and 6:6 are not the same: “In fact, their repentance, formerly thought to be genuine by the judgment of charity, is exposed for what it is: no repentance at all.” So, if their repentance was really “no repentance at all,” then how is Gill’s point “special pleading?”

    My response:
    Gill argued “that here [in Heb 6:4-6] is nothing said of these persons but what may be applied to hypocrites, nor any thing that is peculiar to true believers; these are not said to be regenerated, nor sanctified, nor justified, nor adopted, nor sealed by the Holy Spirit of God, all which are true of real saints.” Gill’s argument is special pleading in that it ignores the evidence that is unfavorable to it. Specifically, he argues from silence, i.e., from what the author did not say about these persons, and he ignores what the author did say (imply) in 6:6 about their prior renewal to repentance. Renewal to repentance is something the author said of these persons that is peculiar to true believers, and this he said on the basis of his prior judgment of charity. But here’s the key: after their apostasy, his judgments of charity became his judgments of reproach. It is only after their apostasy that their earlier repentance can be judged for what it really was.

    2. You write,
    But if their repentance was really “no repentance at all,” then aren’t you “assuming” the very same thing — that the “experiences mentioned in 6:4-5″ are not among those things that “accompany salvation?” Remember, he’s no longer speaking with the “judgment of charity” in verses 4-5, but is rather listing the “exceptions.” Therefore, since those who are included among the “exceptions” never truly repented, and were never truly saved, then their “experiences mentioned in 6:4-5″ must have been experiences that fall short of salvation. That is not an “assumption” but rather a “good and necessary consequence” of the teaching of Scripture.

    My response:
    No; in fact, I am making no assumption at all about the experiences in 6:4-5 and their relation to salvation. That relation matters only if we start with the assumption that the author is writing factually and not sarcastically. My contention is that, having dropped the judgments of charity about these apostates, he takes up the judgments of reproach and uses the language of those former judgments of charity sarcastically to mock them.

    In addition, I would say that the fact that those exceptions — i.e., the apostates — never truly repented and were never truly saved does not mean that the experiences attributed to them in 6:4-5 are experiences that fall short of salvation. That conclusion follows not merely if we presume the broader theological context of Calvinism, but if we presume the attributions made by the author are statements of fact. With you I presume Calvinism; I don’t presume that the author is writing factually and not sarcastically.

    3. You write,
    Again, for the reasons cited above, I’m confused as to how this is “gratuitous.” I agree that “the details of 6:10ff. are the evidence by which the author substantiates his statement of confidence in 6:9.” But how does that argue against the points I’ve raised above? Is not the apostasy of 6:6 also “evidence” that their “experiences mentioned in 6:4-5″ must have been experiences that fall short of salvation (i.e., do not “accompany salvation”)? I fail to see how it could not be.

    My response:
    I meant that it is gratuitous (i.e., there is no need) to appeal to the details of 6:4-5 to identify “the things that accompany salvation” if the content and syntax of 6:9-12 is enough to cause us to favor the identification of those “things” by the details of 6:10-12. The apostasy of 6:6 is evidence that the experiences mentioned in 6:4-5 must have been experiences that fall short of salvation (i.e., do not “accompany salvation”) not merely if we presume the broader theological context of Calvinism, but if we presume the attributions made by the author are statements of fact. Again, with you I presume Calvinism, but I don’t presume that the author is writing factually. I believe he is writing sarcastically to mock the pretensions of temporary believers.

  245. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 17, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Joshua (#242):


    JRC: “And if the fruit is bad, then you need to consider the real possibility that you’ve never had the root to begin with.”

    JWDS: I still see this sort of statement as unduly circuitous, much as my pastor fried added election in the middle of his argument for banning someone from the table. If I were to speak to such a person the way that Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 10:6-13, would that be acceptable?

    Well, think about how many times this precise point is argued in the Scriptures: Matt 3.7-10; Matt 7.15-20; Matt. 13.1-23 and 24-30 (note esp. v. 26); Rom 2.14-15; Gal. 5.16-26 are but a few places in Scripture where it is argued that “fruit” is a good metric for what is happening in the heart.

    See, one unfortunate feature of FV arguments is that they entangle decretal election in discussions of the heart — “How can we really *know* whether we have been elected by God?” That’s a bit of a red herring, and it adds an element of circuitousness that need not be. God actually never calls us to know that in some absolute, peek-into-the-throneroom-of-God sense. Rather, He calls us to repent and believe the Gospel, and the fruit we bear is a metric for whether or not we have repented and believed the Gospel. (And therefore evidence that assists my assurance of election, but that’s a separate point).

    So back to 1 Cor 10; how would I preach that? First, suppose I were talking to someone who is involved in idolatry (the immediate context). Perhaps, he participates in church *and* dabbles in New Age.

    I would say to him, “If you think you are standing, be careful lest you fall!” And again, “Consider all these Israelites who walked with Moses. They thought they were secure by being in the Church, but God was not pleased with them. Why? Because they did not believe (drawing in Hebrews here). And one evidence they didn’t believe was stunts like the golden calf. Think about what it means to claim that you are a Christian AND try to channel spirit powers. Repent now (like Aaron), or else admit to yourself that your faith isn’t what you think it is.”

    And Romans 6: “When you were baptized, you were given the sign of being washed from your sins. And this sign is so strongly real that when you combine it with faith, you really are cleansed from your sins. And that causes you to have an entirely new relationship to sin: you are dead to sin. It’s not your master anymore. Now, in our conversations, you’ve talked as if sin were still your master, as if you have no option but to sin.

    So you have a question to ask here: have you combined the promise offered in baptism with faith? Do you believe that Jesus has washed you of your sins? And if so, do you realize that this means you are united with him and His righteousness is yours? That you have the resource to say No to sin?”

    Etc.

    To whom does Romans 6 refer? It refers to all who have been effectually baptized. That is, to all who believe what baptism offers: the promise of cleansing from sin through being united to Christ.

    This *should* be true for all who are baptized, so Paul speaks this way to the whole Roman church. But it is *in fact* not true for *all* who are baptized, so Paul warns the Corinthians in 1 Cor 10 not to presume on their baptismal status for their standing.

    Jeff Cagle

  246. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 17, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Addendum: Just to add some weight to the idea that Paul is speaking “normatively” in Rom 6 (i.e., “it *ought* to be true that you were united to Christ in your baptism”), consider the language in 2 Cor 13.5:

    “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”

    It’s the same kind of language. Paul speaks normatively “Christ Jesus is in you”, but then allows for the possibility that this might not in fact be the case.

    Jeff Cagle

  247. Roger Mann said,

    January 17, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    244: R. F. White,

    Ok, thanks for the further clarification. I still don’t quite agree with some of the finer points of your interpretation (and lean more toward Gill’s explanation), but we both agree on the broader issue, and that’s what truly matters. So we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Take care, and thank you once again for the time you’ve taken.

    Roger

  248. curate said,

    January 18, 2008 at 4:05 am

    Jeff, I am not able to access your blog. Your link takes me to start a blog etc. Help.

  249. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 18, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Try this.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 351 other followers

%d bloggers like this: