Turretin on Justifying Faith

Thirteenth Question

Whether the form of justifying faith is love or obedience to God’s commands. We deny against the Romanists and Socians.

V. The Socians, the more easily to overthrow the fiducial apprehension of Christ’s satisfaction (in which the orthodox constitute the essence of faith) and thus retain the righteousness of works (as so expressly distinguished from the righteousness of faith in Scripture), hold that faith is nothing else than obedience to God’s commands. Thus good works are not so much the fruit of faith as its form…

VI. But on the other hand, faith cannot be obedience to the commands because thus two virtues would be confounded which are mutually distinct-“faith and love” (1 Cor. 13:13). The former is concerned with the promises of the gospel; the latter with the precepts of the law (which on this account is said to be the end or “fulfilling of the law,” Rom. 13:10). The former is the cause, the latter the effect: “For the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Tim. 1:5). That is the instrument of justification, while this is its consequent fruit. Hence in the matter of justification, faith and works are opposed as opposites and contraries (Rom. 3:28).

VII. Nor can it be replied that works (not of any kind, but perfect and in every respect agreeing with the law) can be opposed to faith in justification. It is clear from Paul that all works entirely, whether perfect or not, are opposed to faith in justification and that faith does not justify as a work (which is the fundamental error of our opponents, who thus confound the law with the gospel and the condition of the covenant of grace with a legal condition…)

VIII. Although to believe is to obey the command to believe prescribed in the gospel (1 J. 3:23), faith is not on this account rightly said to be obedience to God’s commands in the sense of our opponents (who here understand by commands the precepts of the law which are to be done and fulfilled on our part by good works; not the commands of the gospel which enjoin point us faith in the promises of grace). And if faith is called the “work of God” (Jn. 6:29), this was rather done imitatively, regard being had to the petition of the crowd, who had asked “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” Faith was able to give them what they had vainly sought in the works of the law…

Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 2, pgs. 580-582, 1994 P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ

As much as FV wants to make obedience to (partly) constitute faith, following the poor example of Norman Shepherd, Turretin spends a good part of the latter half of the second volume (or, properly, the 15th and 16th Topics) emphasizing the contrary, that obedience is a fruit of faith and that faith is, indeed, characterized by its passive and receptive nature (resting and receiving Christ) in justification, specifically. I have quoted only a small portion here, but elsewhere, for example, Turretin rejects that repentance serves as an instrumental means of justification (p. 681) alongside of faith. He also says that “in the effect of justification, [faith] is the principle and cause of new obedience; but in the act of justification, it can be nothing else than an instrument apprehending and applying to man that which justifies” (p.673). Furthermore, under the 15th Topic, 8th Question, he says that the acts of justifying faith in its “formal conception” include knowledge, theoretical assent, practical assent, refuge (seeking pardon in Christ), reception & union, and a reflexive act (seeing that Christ is *his* Savior). These elements are all receptive, not obedient.

Two things are worth noting as we continue to wade through Turretin’s expositions. First, that there is scarcely any issue that FV raises that he hasn’t already considered. Second, that Turretin is far more precise and clear-thinking than the FV’s blurring of these various categories and concepts. The contrast is so incredibly stark, as I read Turretin in contrast to my readings of FV literature. On these grounds alone, I feel compelled to weigh more heavily in favor of the “old ways” as opposed to the relatively amateur tinkerings that the Federal Vision offers us today.

Turretin, of course, might be wrong about everything. But FV will never be able to convince learned people of such a thing unless they deal with the substance of his expositions (and those “TR’s” who hold to the same opinion).

Posted by David Gadbois

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77 Comments

  1. David Gadbois said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:00 am

    I should also point out that Gabe is quite wrong in saying that faith is obedience. To say, as the Scriptures do, that faith is obedient is to ascribe a *quality* to faith – namely, that it is obedient (faith works and produces obedience as the cause and driving force), NOT that obedience CONSTITUTES the nature of faith. This basic systematic error is so prevalent, it is no wonder that FV sees its doctrine, supposedly, in so many texts of Scripture.

    Note, similarly, the actual grammatical connections of Hebrews 11:8, which Gabe cites but actually makes faith an instrumental cause of obedience.

  2. neilrobbie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 5:21 am

    It appears to me that the PCA and FV positions on justification by faith need to take into account Turretin’s question “The Necessity of Good Works” 17th topic question 3. “Are good works necessary for salvation? We affirm”

    Turretin holds to the nessesity of good works for salvation but distinguishes between the status and purpose of the believer’s salvation.

    The status of the believer is conferred by God’s merit, causality and efficiency (17:3:III) and the purpose of salvation is demonstrated my “the neccesity of means, of presence and of connection or order – Are they required as the means and way for possessing salvation? This we hold.” (17:3:III)

    Such that:

    “All the benefits (election, grace and glory) of God tend to this…these are destined to or conferred upon us for no other reason that to promote the work of sanctification. On this account, good works are set forth to us as the effects of eternal election (Eph 1:4); the fruit of present grace” (17:3:XI)

  3. its.reed said,

    January 31, 2008 at 6:57 am

    Ref. #2:

    No disprespect offered Neil, but the necessity of good works as fruits, their evidentiary necessity demonstrating the genuiness of true faith (ala James), has been affirmed on this blog substantially.

    I’ve haven’t heard anyone disagree with that point yet. Stretch it? Yes.

  4. neilrobbie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 7:17 am

    Ref. #3:

    I apologise for not having read everything on the blog and for not fully understanding yet the PCA/FV differences on justification by faith. Please forgive me. I wish to point out that to do justice to Turretin’s topics 15 and 16, topic 17 must be considered together with them. Turretin holds that good works are necessary for salvation and carefully defines the sense in which he affirms this.

    If Turretin’s Topic 17 has been discussed at length on this blog, can you point me to it and may I ask how Turretin’s distinction between status and purpose affects the current debate? I apologise for my naivity with respect to this American issue. I am Scottish.

  5. its.reed said,

    January 31, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Ref. #4:

    Neil, rather let me apologize for assuming your familiarity with the history of the discussion here at Green Bagginses.

    To answer your question, Turretin’s Topic 17 has not been the focus of a specific thread. Rather, good works, as they relate to the vital subjects at issue in the FV, have been discussed quite substantially. About the only thread that particularly started with good works as the focus is one from RE Bob Mattes.

    To better focus whagt seems to be the debate with reference to good works in the FV, let me note that all will affirm the evidentiary role (the gist of Turretin’s take, vis-a-vie election unto sanctification, the point of your final quote). The issue rather is the exact nature of the good works.

    If I might offer a simple summary that will probably generate some debate, it seems to me that the FV wants to insist on a necessity for godd works that troubles those of us opposed to the FV. Again, its not a matter of disagreeing on necessity. Its that FV’ers seem to not be satisfied with the traditional reformed expressions about good works. Instead thjey use language and arguments that seem to do two things:

    1) Give good works a more than evidentiary role at the final judgment, in some manner appearing to argue for some secondary justification meritoriously based on one’s good works.
    2) Undifferentiate good works in terms of their divine and human relations so that these “merit-worthy” good works appear to be a synergistic result vs. an exclusive monergistic result.

    In all fairness to FV proponents, they will vociferously deny the negative connotations in these last statements. I for one am willing to accept their denials. What troubles me is the apparent inability or unwillingness (I know not which) to clarify, qualify and temper their language so that it does not lend itself to such misunderstandings.

    If all the FV means concerning the necessity of good works is their evidentiary role, then its not that hard to qualify that. I’ve just done so in a few simple words in my last sentence.

  6. Tim Wilder said,

    January 31, 2008 at 10:06 am

    You have to distinguish necessity and causality. They are not the same. Necessity is an “if and only if relationship”. One problem with the Federal Vision they don’t understand logic. Consequently, they don’t understand what necessity is. Turretin’s works are for people who have mastered the preparatory disciplines such as logic and rhetoric. (Rhetoric is another topic that needs attention. Too many sermons I have heard come from seminary graduates who don’t know what metaphorical languages is.) That fact the certain seminaries actually teach students to despise logic, and some “Biblical theology” professors think that a crude literalism is brings than closer to what that imagine is the primitive mentality of the Biblical writers (historicism is the hidden presupposition of most “Biblical theology”) only makes matters worse.

    If we define a cat as a quadraped with a tail (among other things), then a cat will have four legs if and only if it has a tail. It doesn’t mean that the tail is the legs or that the legs are the tail. Nor does it mean that the tail makes the legs function. But a Federal Vision theory of cats would emphasize its “robust view of cats” with their “tail flourishing locomotion” and “tail possessing devouring of fish”, etc. The Federal Vision, in other words, does all it can to destroy the analytic distinctions and conceptual clarity achieved by the medieval disciplines of logic and rhetoric. The Federal Vision is like romanticism (of which it is a part). It is gothic in its trappings while being essentially anti-medieval.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    January 31, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Tim! Where have you been, my friend? Welcome back.

  8. Ron Henzel said,

    January 31, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Tim,

    You wrote: “One problem with the Federal Vision they don’t understand logic.” Which is ironic, considering that the only formal theological and pastoral training either Doug Wilson or Rich Lusk have had is in philosophy.

  9. Tim Wilder said,

    January 31, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    “Tim! Where have you been, my friend?”

    Been doing a study of family history, discovering the Old School Presbyterians, and wondering how their grandchildren could be utter moralists, with no concept of the gospel, how the Reformed turned into Universalists, and why almost all of them joined masonic lodges.

  10. Tim Wilder said,

    January 31, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    “The only formal theological and pastoral training either Doug Wilson or Rich Lusk have had is in philosophy.” Wilson, I think, even has a logic text book, but he still doesn’t get it. But it is Horne who is most noted for the logical blunders. He also likes to cite Turretin, because he believes that necessity is either identity or causality.

    Then, too, people like Turretin use the term “cause” in a technical sense that the FV boys can’t get their heads around. Many of they simply can’t understand Reformed theology when the read it, because they lack the educational preparation. It seems like seminary education demands mastery of the wrong things. You get biblical theology stars coming out who have mastered the latest esoteric trends but are incapable of clear systematic thinking.

  11. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    “Although to believe is to obey the command to believe prescribed in the gospel (1 J. 3:23)”

    Right!

    “faith is not on this account rightly said to be obedience to God’s commands in the sense of our opponents”

    right!

    “(who here understand by commands the precepts of the law which are to be done and fulfilled on our part by good works; not the commands of the gospel which enjoin point us faith in the promises of grace)”

    Right!

    And Mark Horne is right when he reminds us that the First Commandment of the Decalogue is a command of the gospel, not a precept of law to be fulfilled on our part by good works.

  12. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    So your distinguishing obedience constituting faith, and obedience being a quality of faith?

    How does that square with this definition of what a “quality” of something is

    “That which makes, or helps to make, anything such as it is; anything belonging to a subject, or predicable of it; distinguishing property, characteristic, or attribute; peculiar power, capacity, or virtue; distinctive trait; as, the tones of a flute differ from those of a violin in quality; the great quality of a statesman. &hand; Qualities, in metaphysics, are primary or secondary. Primary are those essential to the existence, and even the conception, of the thing, as of matter or spirit Secondary are those not essential to such a conception.”

    Since true faith will never cause disobedience, its essential to its conception.

  13. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    “What troubles me is the apparent inability or unwillingness (I know not which) to clarify, qualify and temper their language so that it does not lend itself to such misunderstandings.”

    Have you read Lusk’s chapter in the Sandlin book? I think its qualifys and tempers adequately. Lusk definitely goes for a “faith is obedience-prone” understanding, which I offered on the blog a while back and some at least found acceptable.

  14. kjsulli said,

    January 31, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    And Mark Horne is right when he reminds us that the First Commandment of the Decalogue is a command of the gospel, not a precept of law to be fulfilled on our part by good works.

    “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” is “a command of the gospel”? Or do you mean the preface?

  15. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    “What does God require in the first Commandment?
    A94: That, on peril of my soul’s salvation, I … rightly acknowledge the only true God, trust in Him alone, with all humility”

    http://www.hornes.org/theologia/mark-horne/moral-law-commands-faith-in-christ-alone

  16. January 31, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    No, pduggie. “Quality”, in this case, would refer to what faith *does* or has the capacity to do. It is obedient, but that does not mean that faith *is* obedience. A violin may have a musical “quality” but that does not mean a violin *is* music.

  17. kjsulli said,

    January 31, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Let’s use Pr. Hornes’ Standards.

    WLC:

    Q. 91. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
    A. The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will.

    Q. 92. What did God first reveal unto man as the rule of his obedience?
    A. The rule of obedience revealed to Adam in the estate of innocence, and to all mankind in him, besides a special command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was the moral law.

    Q. 93. What is the moral law?
    A. The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding every one to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul, and body, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he oweth to God and man: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it.

    Q. 97. What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?
    A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.

    Q. 98. Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?
    A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments, which were delivered by the voice of God upon mount Sinai, and written by him in two tables of stone; and are recorded in the twentieth chapter of Exodus; the four first commandments containing our duty to God, and the other six our duty to man.

    Q. 149. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
    A. No man is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.

    Q. 153. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?
    A. That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requireth of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.

    So,

    It would seem the “commands of the Gospel” are 1) repentance toward God, 2) faith toward Jesus, and 3) diligent use of the outward (and ordinary) means of grace. The law, in itself, is not “gospel.” Apart from the Gospel, we are condemned for our transgression of the law in Adam, who was under the law as a covenant of works.

    Here’s the WCF on the law of God (19.6):

    Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of his obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one, and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law; and, not under grace.

  18. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 31, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Pduggie (#13):

    Lusk definitely goes for a “faith is obedience-prone” understanding, which I offered on the blog a while back and some at least found acceptable.

    Oddly enough, I’ve heard a Sproulism similar to that before: “The faith that works is a faith that works.”

    But both of those are, I think, inferior to the insistence that faith leads to obedience *because* of the continuing, indwelling work of the Spirit.

    What’s the difference?

    Let F1: “faith” = genuine belief in God, including proneness to obedience.

    Let F2: “faith” = genuine belief in God.

    Now, let Alice have F1 and Bob have F2 at some time t. Both are justified. Both now receive the Spirit and are united to Christ. Both now produce the fruit of the Spirit as a result of the work of the Spirit.

    How did F1 make any difference at all?

    Pragmatically, none whatsoever.

    But F1 does do one thing: it confuses the issue. Where did Alice’s good works originate? Did they result from her “proneness to obedience”, or from the ongoing work of the Spirit in her? Romans 8 and Gal 5 require us to affirm the latter. But in that case, there’s nothing left for her “proneness to obedience” to cover. It becomes a meaningless addition to her faith, in that it accomplishes nothing more than Bob’s F2.

    Not a blinking thing.

    Our sanctification after the time of justification is dynamically generated by the Spirit, not internally generated by a quality that we possess when we are justified. (Else, our justification would be resting in part on our “tendency to do good works” … do we really want that?)

    Let’s put this another way: Our “proneness to obedience”, which is a genuine descriptor of the genuinely saved, is another way of saying “partaking of the righteousness of Christ, the only obedient One.”

    Does that partaking occur prior to or following our justification? Requiring it to occur prior to justification means that we must actually be righteous, at least in some degree, prior to being justified. In other words, requiring faith to include “proneness to obedience” means that we require the righteousness of Christ to be infused into us as a precondition for justification.

    And I think we can all agree that that’s a non-starter.

    Far better, I think, to insist on these points:

    * Obedience is a necessary result of saving faith because
    * Faith unites us to Christ and
    * One aspect of our Union with Christ is the ongoing work of the HS,
    * Which always results in fruitfulness.

    I think this solution does justice to the full range of Biblical texts, and I’ve never understood why it’s not acceptable to the FV.

    Jeff Cagle

  19. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    The Spirit begins a good work by inclining Alice to obedience, including responding to the command to believe.

    That’s what regeneration is defined as

    You have to be effectually called, and had the Law written on your heart, before you can respond in faith. You need a renewed will FIRST, before you can do any “good” including resting in Christ.

    “enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ”

  20. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    A violin that lacked its musical quality would be a non-violin. A picture of one, perhaps.

  21. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Jeff, it seems to me we don’t want to be telling anyone that they can beleive in Jesus for their salvation with a “faith” that has no real trust in what God says about his commands at the same time, and that isn’t immediately willing to take up his cross and follow after Christ. Can such a faith save?

  22. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    A A Hodge writes

    “Action positively holy is impossible except as the consequence of a positively holy disposition. The infusion of such a disposition must therefore precede any act of true spiritual obedience. Effectual calling, according to the usage of our Standards, is the act of the Holy Spirit effecting regeneration. Regeneration is the effect produced by the Holy Spirit in effectual calling. The Holy Spirit, in the act of effectual calling, causes the soul to become regenerate by implanting a new governing principle or habit of spiritual affection and action. The soul itself, in conversion, immediately acts under the guidance of this new principle in turning from sin unto God through Christ.”

    and

    “That, after regeneration, the new-born soul at once begins and ever continues more or less perfectly to co-operate with sanctifying grace, is self-evident. Faith, repentance, love, good works, are one and all at the same time “fruits of the Spirit” and free actions of men.”

  23. January 31, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    “A violin that lacked its musical quality would be a non-violin. A picture of one, perhaps.”

    OK, but that wouldn’t be saying anything relevant. Music still does not constitute the nature of a violin in its essence.

  24. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    The Spirit begins a good work by inclining Alice to obedience, including responding to the command to believe.

    That’s what regeneration is defined as

    Well, now we have two definitions floating around. Double the thread, I suppose. :lol:

    I want to call for a booth review on Alice here.

    (1) Passages such as Galatians 3.2 seem to put some space between believing and observing the Law.: “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?” Since obedience is included in the term “faith” for you, then how would you distinguish “obedience” (included in “faith”) and “observing the Law” (clearly NOT included in “faith”)?

    (2) Previously, you defined faith as “including a proneness to obey.” But now, you are stipulating that Alice’s belief is caused by her obedience to the command to obey. So before, her proneness to obey and her faith came together; now, it seems like you are saying that she has a proneness to obey *before* she has faith. Help?

    (3) It’s odd to me that you characterize “resting in Christ” as “doing good”, rather than “receiving good.” Overall, your outline of Alice seems to portray her as being rewarded for the good action of believing. Do you see justifying faith as a good work that is rewarded?

    Thanks,
    Jeff Cagle

  25. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Jeff, what youre doing is convincing me the confessions chapter on effectual calling and A A hodge are both a mess.

  26. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    1. Obeying the command to believe is in a different universe of discourse than what Paul is denying when he denies the Spirit came by obeying the torah. I don’t think Paul would deny the abstract question of “did i obey when God told me to believe in Jesus” has the answer “yes”

    For the WCF (based on more than just Galatians), the Spirit comes even prior to belief.

    2. yes, I may have muddled things between the “proneness to obey quality that the Spirit infused into her in regeneration, and the way proneness to obey characterizes her active faith. She’s now a holy person, and her acts partake of the qualities she possesses though, and that’s what I’m getting at.

    3. Faith is still an “act” of the “will” even if the “act” is to “rest”. So it’s a “good act” that her will needs to be powerfully determined by the Spirit to peform

    If we have to say all that just to avoid saying “doing” I think that’s straining a gnat.

    Part of me feels this is all abut making an airtight argument that a Roman Catholic can’t come by and poke holes in by saying “ahha! so you DO have Works!” But I really don’t care about that so I don’t worry about it.

  27. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    I’m not sure whether to take that as sarcasm or mere irony.

    Here’s what I read:

    1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.

    2. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it. — WCoF 10.1,2

    I can see how you would take 10.1 as support for your position. And I assume for Hodge you have something in mind like this:

    5. As to the effect of it, it is taught that it works a radical and permanent change in the entire moral nature of the subject, spiritually enlightening his mind, sanctifying his affections, renewing his will, and giving a new direction to his action. — AA Hodge, Comm. on WCoF, ch. 10

    I can see how one could take these as support for your position; I could also see how one could take them as separate aspects of the work of the Spirit.

    So how about my questions?

    Jeff

  28. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Part of me feels this is all abut making an airtight argument that a Roman Catholic can’t come by and poke holes in by saying “ahha! so you DO have Works!” But I really don’t care about that so I don’t worry about it.

    No, I don’t worry much about that either.

    For me (as I expressed to Lusk much earlier), the core central thing is to never lose hold of the notion that my continued obedience is sourced by the the continued work of the Spirit in me, not on a fleshly reliance on the past work of the Spirit within me.

    That is, I cannot say “God gave me a new nature, so I’m good to go!” (and then function autonomously thereafter).

    So the value of getting justifying faith right is found in getting sanctifying faith right. I become nervous about “faith = obedience” language because it sounds like the source of my future obedience is some quality I possessed at justification.

    (You can imagine that I’m *really* nervous about “subsequent justification” language, which is how the Lusk conversation began).

    Jeff

  29. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 31, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Jeff, it seems to me we don’t want to be telling anyone that they can beleive in Jesus for their salvation with a “faith” that has no real trust in what God says about his commands at the same time, and that isn’t immediately willing to take up his cross and follow after Christ. Can such a faith save?

    I need to go get my girls, but let me say this quickly: if the FV is misunderstood by many, your questions show a symmetric kind of misunderstanding.

    No one — and most especially me — wants to divorce salvation from a real willingness to follow Christ.

    It’s really, very, very important that the FV stop accusing their opponents of antinomianism, because that claim is a gross distortion that prevents conversation.

    (I’m not saying you’re intentionally doing that; but your questions flow out of that well)

    (And I’m not saying that some FV opponents aren’t antinomian — some probably are. But that’s not the status of the “best arguments against.”)

    I’ll flesh this out later and I hope that my haste hasn’t led to a sin of the keyboard here.

    Jeff

  30. Mark T. said,

    January 31, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    “A violin that lacked its musical quality would be a non-violin.” — P. Duggie

    “A flute without holes is not a flute, and a donut without a hole is a danish.” — Chevy Chase, Caddyshack

    Thank you.

  31. January 31, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Mr. Gadbois,

    You said:
    “OK, but that wouldn’t be saying anything relevant. Music still does not constitute the nature of a violin in its essence.”

    I would like for you to define what you think is the essence of a violin. I would be interested to see this without including the fact that it is a musical instrument by it’s very nature and reason for existence. I think that maybe you have picked a poor analogy.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Terry W. West

  32. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 31, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    OK, #29 was probably not wise to type in a hurry, so let me put it like this:

    It has been common in these discussions to point to James 2 and rest the case. “If you deny that faith = obedience, then you deny that faith without works is dead!”

    That line of argument is not simply wrong; it is misleading.

    Why is it wrong? Because one can accept James 2 in good conscience by saying that faith is the indirect, instrumental cause of works (faith causes union w X, which causes works) and yet not accept the formula “faith = obedience.”

    So clearly, I do not want to teach that a faith that does not lead to discipleship could still be a saving faith.

    But why is such an argument misleading? Because it contains within it the germ of a polarizing idea. It literally leads the discussion down the path of “You’re an antinomian!” “Am not!” “Are too!”

    So I request of you, in the charity of Christ, to accept at face value that one can reject “faith = obedience” and still believe that saving faith is always accompanied by works.

    Jeff Cagle

  33. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 31, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Pduggie (#26):

    1. Obeying the command to believe is in a different universe of discourse than what Paul is denying when he denies the Spirit came by obeying the torah…

    For the WCF (based on more than just Galatians), the Spirit comes even prior to belief.

    This is a more narrow response than the question I had in mind. We could also look at the very familiar Romans passages in which Paul contrasts faith and obedience to the Law as means by which one is justified.

    The question is this: in a variety of circumstances, Paul distinguishes works of the Law from faith, and without disparaging the Law, he nevertheless asserts that faith is that which justifies.

    So I wanted to know, how do you see “works of the Law” as different from “obedience”? I guess you gave somewhat of an answer here: I don’t think Paul would deny the abstract question of “did i obey when God told me to believe in Jesus” has the answer “yes”

    And yet, we both would agree that the justification that results from faith, results from the reception of Christ’s righteousness rather than resulting from God rewarding our faith as a good action, yes?

    3. Faith is still an “act” of the “will” even if the “act” is to “rest”. So it’s a “good act” that her will needs to be powerfully determined by the Spirit to peform

    If we have to say all that just to avoid saying “doing” I think that’s straining a gnat.

    It’s not “doing” that I want to avoid so much as “good.” Calling her faith an “act of the will” is perfectly acceptable to me; calling it a “good act” — insinuating “meritorious act” — is B-choice language at best.

    Jeff Cagle

  34. pduggie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    “we both would agree that the justification that results from faith, results from the reception of Christ’s righteousness rather than resulting from God rewarding our faith as a good action, yes?”

    Absolutely. I’ll respond to the rest later.

  35. Ron Henzel said,

    January 31, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Tim,

    Way back in comment 10 you wrote:

    Then, too, people like Turretin use the term “cause” in a technical sense that the FV boys can’t get their heads around. Many of they simply can’t understand Reformed theology when the read it, because they lack the educational preparation. It seems like seminary education demands mastery of the wrong things. You get biblical theology stars coming out who have mastered the latest esoteric trends but are incapable of clear systematic thinking.

    I think this highlights the fact that much of the FVers’ problems occur not only in the realm of logic but of semantics as well. Biblical theology and systematic theology have distinct vocabularies, and the widespread lack of proficiency in both of them hasn’t helped matters. But when I’m reading Wilson, who has no formal training in either, I can’t help but think a good college-level dictionary would have spared him much of his confusion.

  36. Jeff Moss said,

    January 31, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Jeff C. (way back in #18),

    What’s the difference?
    Let F1: “faith” = genuine belief in God, including proneness to obedience.
    Let F2: “faith” = genuine belief in God.
    Now, let Alice have F1 and Bob have F2 at some time t. Both are justified. Both now receive the Spirit and are united to Christ. Both now produce the fruit of the Spirit as a result of the work of the Spirit.
    How did F1 make any difference at all?
    Pragmatically, none whatsoever.

    Hmm. Does this sound to anyone else like the Lordship salvation controversy all over again? I doubt that you meant it in this way, but it sounds to me like you’re saying Alice (F1) gets Christ as Savior and Lord, while Bob (F2) gets Him only as Savior — not as Lord, because having a Lord implies an intrinsic requirement to obey Him.

    Maybe I’m beating a dead horse by referring to James 2 once again, but I happen to think that this particular horse is still very much alive:

    Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
    But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
    Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
    (James 2:17-26)

    The key exchange in v. 18 (bolded above) is debated by exegetes, but I think the broadly accepted view is this: The Lord’s brother is saying here that you simply cannot drive a wedge between faith and works. Demons separate the two — much good it does them! — and so does this “empty person” (lit. trans. of “foolish man,” v. 20) that James so satisfyingly demolishes in argumentation. But attempting to separate faith from works, as if you could really have one without the other (even in principle), is not recommended behavior for Christians.

    Standard disclaimer, since tone is so easy to misinterpret in blogdom: Jeff, I definitely don’t mean to equate your position with that of the demons or even of the empty fellow in James 2. I’m only trying to show exactly what relevance I see this chapter having to your what-if scenario.

  37. Ron Henzel said,

    February 1, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Jeff,

    You wrote:

    The Lord’s brother is saying here that you simply cannot drive a wedge between faith and works. Demons separate the two — much good it does them!

    I think this reading of James 2 misses the author’s use of irony. His point is not that the demons separate faith from works, but that even the demons show their faith by their works when they tremble, because even their faith is no a mere mental assent to orthodox statements.

  38. February 1, 2008 at 10:40 am

    “I would like for you to define what you think is the essence of a violin. I would be interested to see this without including the fact that it is a musical instrument by it’s very nature and reason for existence. I think that maybe you have picked a poor analogy”

    The fact that the *purpose* of the violin (the “reason for existence”) is music belongs to the category of the violin’s teleology, not its essential nature. I think this confirms Tim’s comment back in #6.

  39. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Jeff Moss (#36):

    Thanks for the standard disclaimer, and I’m glad you raised the issue. It gets to the heart of what I’ve been arguing (somewhat awkwardly, on re-read). Namely, that there are at least *two* ways of preserving your point, which is the Confession’s point, which is James’ point: that faith without works is dead.

    The first way is F1, to insist that faith includes obedience as an essential component.

    The second way is F2, to insist that faith entails obedience as a necessary outcome because of the work of God that occurs in the heart of every believer.

    F1 argues that “faith ==> obedience” analytically; F2 argues that “faith ==> obedience” synthetically.

    Or put another way, to agree that “faith without works is dead” does not require agreement to “faith is works.”

    So my point to Pduggie was simply this: it’s important for F1-ers to realize that F2-ers are *not* antinomian and *do* accept James 2 with a full conscience.

    For whatever reason, the discussion well on this point has been poisoned, so that anyone who expresses F2 automatically gets the James 2 rebuttal.

    Jeff Cagle

    (my thoughts on James 2)

  40. February 1, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Jeff C., your comments are spot-on. I don’t know why FVers have to make things so much more complicated, writings stacks and stacks of posts blurring the concepts of faith and works together (they’re clearly trying *really* hard to , when the answer is so elegant and simple, as you have expressed it.

  41. David R. McCrory said,

    February 1, 2008 at 11:51 am

    When will you all be picking apart the AACP Departure Statement?

  42. David R. McCrory said,

    February 1, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    …found here

    http://www.auburnavenue.org/documents/PCADepartureRationale.pdf

  43. Jeff Moss said,

    February 1, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Jeff C. (#39),

    Thanks for these thoughts. Thanks also for linking to your three posts on James 2, which for some reason made more sense to me than your comments on this thread. I think we agree on the heart of the matter, and really disagree only about the preferred formulations.

    To me, your descriptions of F1 and F2 raised red flags for this reason: if you distinguish between
    (F1) “genuine belief in God, including proneness to obedience,” and
    (F2) “genuine belief in God,”
    then what you’re implying is that F2 does NOT include proneness to obedience, or at least not necessarily.

    I see faith as a peach tree, works as the peaches, and the whole as a gift of God; I hear you saying (but I could be misunderstanding you) that faith is some other kind of tree (a crabapple?), on which God miraculously produces peaches in 10 out of 10 cases, but the production of peaches is not inherent in the nature of the tree. In other words, I believe the God-given DNA of the tree is such that it produces the fruit by its very nature, and in this sense “genuine belief in God includ[es] proneness to obedience” (F1). Yet it seems like you’re denying this. Am I getting you right here?

    On the other hand, I would never say that “faith is works” or that either faith or works is reducible to the other. Just because it’s the nature of the tree to grow a certain kind of fruit, doesn’t mean the fruit and the tree are the same thing.

    P.S. Do you have any thoughts on my analogy to the Lordship salvation controversy?

  44. Jeff Moss said,

    February 1, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    David G. (#40),

    Would you include me among the ranks of “FVers…writing stacks and stacks of posts blurring the concepts of faith and works together”? Do you think my comments here (#36, #43) are subject to this charge? I don’t see that in what I’ve said here, at least, but I’m willing to receive correction.

  45. tim prussic said,

    February 1, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    I, too, agree with Jeff C. (#39) and, like David, appreciate the pristine simplicity of it. I don’t quite get David’s comment in #40 implying that the FV (as a whole) messes this up. I just have not seen it. I think there are some folks within the FV camp that mess this up and I oppose them. I think there are probably FAR more ministers within the pale of, say, the PCA, OPC, etc. that mess it up, too. Should I point to a few within a whole bunch and malign the whole bunch? Let me put it this way: I’ve heard full-throated, clearly-stated affirmations of sola-fide justification from almost all the FV players – just as loud and clear as any of the TRs that oppose them.

    My point? This isn’t an FV issue. It never was. It was early on published and popularized as such (for political reasons, I think), but it’s never been the issue. The denial or confusion of sola-fide justification is indeed a major issue where it’s found, but you have to blur your eyes to think it applies to the Federal Vision as such.

  46. Roger Mann said,

    February 1, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    40: David wrote,

    I don’t know why FVers have to make things so much more complicated, writings stacks and stacks of posts blurring the concepts of faith and works together (they’re clearly trying *really* hard to), when the answer is so elegant and simple.

    It’s even more perplexing when the “answer” is given so clearly in the Confession that most of the FVists claim to uphold:

    “To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same.. effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey.” (WCF 8.8)

    Believing and obeying are clearly distinguished here.

    “These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith.” (WCF 16.2)

    Works of obedience are the “fruits” and “evidences” of genuine saving faith, not a constituent element (“part of the definition”) of saving faith.

    Moreover, even the act of believing (in obedience to the command of the gospel) seems to be clearly distinguished from the grace of faith in the Confession:

    “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts” (WCF 14.1)

    Two distinct things are taught here: 1) The “grace of faith” is the work of the Spirit of Christ in the hearts of the elect. 2) This “grace of faith” enables the elect to believe to the saving of their souls. In other words, the “grace of faith” is the work of the Spirit of Christ in our hearts, and this work of the Spirit is what causes (or “enables”) us to believe the propositions of the gospel. It is also what causes the elect to “yield obedience to the commands” and “tremble at the threatenings” (WCF 14.2), etc. Is this not what Scripture also teaches?

    “Looking unto Jesus, the author [the “grace of faith”] and finisher of our faith.” — Hebrews 12:2

    “As God has dealt to each one a measure of faith [the “grace of faith”].” — Romans 12:3

    “The Lord opened her heart [the “grace of faith”] to heed the things spoken by Paul [the “act of believing”].” — Acts 16:14

  47. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Jeff M (#43):

    P.S. Do you have any thoughts on my analogy to the Lordship salvation controversy?

    In the LS controversy, Ryrie and Hodges really *were* denying that saving faith is attendant with works. I vividly remember the onset of that issue and debates about whether the term “carnal Christian” was a theologically valid one. And some rather funny diagrams showing the Christian with a throne in the center of his life and all manner of other things sitting on the throne.

    And of course, the problem was that both sides had entrenched points that wouldn’t go away. Hodges was divorcing faith and works in a way entirely unreconcilable with James; some of his opponents were amalgamating faith and works in a way entirely at odds with Eph 2.8,9. That situation left just enough ammunition for both sides to keep going for a while.

    I wasn’t Presbyterian at the time, and it amazed me when I became one that the concept of Union with Christ solved the whole issue neatly.

    It is that concept that I’m appealing to here: that saving faith unites us to Christ; the resulting union leads to works.

    In the end, then, there’s no one here to take the “Free Grace” side of the LS controversy. You’ve got folk saying “Lordship because of what faith is” and “Lordship because of what faith results in.”

    Jeff Cagle

  48. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 1, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    I’m with Jeff Moss on #43: as I said to Jeff C. elsewhere, to distinguish F2 from F1 seems a false dichotomy. Genuine faith necessarily includes being obedience-prone: this is the (non-justifying aspect of faith) that makes faith causative in producing obedience. Even if you don’t want to accept the “whereby” clauses as part of the definition, if faith is that which causes the obedience, then the obedient attitude is part of the nature of saving faith. Of course, it’s not the part that justifies. I think that will become my Carthango delenda est…The obedient aspect of faith does not justify, but only the receptive aspect of faith.

    If I do prefer to include proneness to obedience in the definition of faith, do you all think I should talk to my pastor and elders about my Reformed orthodoxy?

    As far as definitions go, some things are defined by their effects: like trees for instance. A good definition of “apple tree” is “a tree which naturally bears apples.”

    As for the language of theological discourse (#10 & 35), if Turretin is going to be our go-to guy on all things theological, we couldn’t do theology without becoming competent or even expert in the 17th century appropriation of Aristotle. Do we really have to have the categories of form, material, etc. dictate our theology? I appreciate Turretin a great deal, but I don’t always find his terminology helpful, because I’m simply not an expert in 17th Aristotelianism. Are any of our pastors? Should our pastors be? Am I allowed to try to restate Turretin, trying to maintain substantial agreement, without using his philosophical apparatus?

    By the way, I’m still not saying “faith=works”; I think that would be a silly, reductionistic, and unconfessional way of speaking.

  49. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Jeff Moss (#44):

    To me, your descriptions of F1 and F2 raised red flags for this reason: if you distinguish between
    (F1) “genuine belief in God, including proneness to obedience,” and
    (F2) “genuine belief in God,”
    then what you’re implying is that F2 does NOT include proneness to obedience, or at least not necessarily.

    F2 entails proneness to obedience but is not defined by it.

    Why does it matter? Well, to me it matters in two ways.

    First, I want to preserve the dynamic (as opposed to static) nature of the Spirit’s work in us, flowing from our continued union with Christ. As I mentioned above, any works that Alice does post-conversion should properly be attributed to the Spirit’s ongoing work in her life, not to her “proneness to obedience” at conversion. Call this the “dynamic requirement.”

    Second, the action of faith in being saved is a receiving action: receiving the grace of Christ to us. And as such, “proneness to obedience” is simply non-apropos. It is my obedience that causes me to reach out to Christ, confess my complete spiritual poverty, and rest on his righteousness alone for my forgiveness? That’s just very weird; it’s simultaneously attributing total spiritual poverty and a tendency to obey at the same time.

    And I realize that in the regenerating process, there’s a bit of mystery so that the Spirit makes me alive through re-birth (John 3) and yet God makes me alive in Christ (Eph 2). So I can appreciate someone saying, “look, saving faith is always accompanied by works, and so from a pragmatic perspective, living faith includes works.” As an operational definition, it’s not too bad.

    But when we go beyond and insist that faith is faithfulness, and any other formulation is cheap grace or anti-nomian or what-have-you, then that’s where I draw the line.

    I see faith as a peach tree, works as the peaches, and the whole as a gift of God; I hear you saying (but I could be misunderstanding you) that faith is some other kind of tree (a crabapple?), on which God miraculously produces peaches in 10 out of 10 cases, but the production of peaches is not inherent in the nature of the tree. In other words, I believe the God-given DNA of the tree is such that it produces the fruit by its very nature, and in this sense “genuine belief in God includ[es] proneness to obedience” (F1). Yet it seems like you’re denying this. Am I getting you right here?

    No, I don’t see faith as a tree; all of the tree analogies in Scripture refer to whole people.

    If I did see faith per se agriculturally, it would be something like the biological processes of the plant itself, receiving nutrition and doing stuff with it. Maybe.

    Jeff Cagle

  50. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 1, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Jeff C., I think that very last sentence in #47 is what I don’t get. Perhaps Tim Wilder will take this as example of exactly that sort of carelessness and ignorance of theology he is critical of, but, since I view effects as part of a definition, in certain conditions, I find the distinction between these negligible. So, I would say that we seek to obey because of what faith is…but that obedient aspect of faith is not at all in view in justification. (CDE)

  51. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 1, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Jeff C., I think I agree with you in wanting to keep the dynamic understanding of the Spirit’s work unto salvation. Oddly enough, this dynamic understanding is what is making include the effects or fruits of faith in it’s definition. The whole point is that the definition that matters in the operational one, because saving faith is active–or perhaps actual is a better term. Now, someone may squawk that faith is passive, but here’s what I mean:

    If faith is just the saving grace wrought within that is distinguished from its acts, then faith is, in Aristotelian terms, pure potentiality. But potentiality does not save: faith does not save us without doing any of the acts. We’re not even united to Christ by the potential to believe, but by the actual believing. So insofar as faith is qualified as “saving” it has to be active–or actual–in this sense (which is, as always, non-meritorious, either condignly or congruently).

  52. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 1, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Ouch. That should be “making me include” and “its definition,” not “it’s”. That always bugs me when my students do it…

  53. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Joshua (#48):

    If I do prefer to include proneness to obedience in the definition of faith, do you all think I should talk to my pastor and elders about my Reformed orthodoxy?

    Well, I wouldn’t categorize your view as an exception, myself, especially with your qualification The obedient aspect of faith does not justify, but only the receptive aspect of faith.. But I would ask a couple of questions of anyone (not you or Jeff M) who made it a point to disparage other formulations.

    I’m with Jeff Moss on #43: as I said to Jeff C. elsewhere, to distinguish F2 from F1 seems a false dichotomy. Genuine faith necessarily includes being obedience-prone: this is the (non-justifying aspect of faith) that makes faith causative in producing obedience.

    It turns out that one of the amazing features of Calculus is that one can compute the area under any curve by doing one of two things:

    (1) Adding up large numbers of estimating rectangles and allowing the size of those rectangles to approach 0, OR
    (2) Finding the “antiderivative” of the equation for the curve and subtracting its value at the boundaries of the region.

    Now, it turns out that for almost any curve you might wish, (1) and (2) are always the same. *Poof!* The miracle of calculus.

    BUT

    (1) does not include (2) in its definition; nor does (2) include (1). (What’s needed to get there is another theorem called the Mean Value Theorem).

    The point is simply this: there is no false dichotomy in saying that genuine faith entails obedience but is not defined as proneness to obedience. Genuine faith entails obedience because of something additional: the dynamic work of the Spirit in our union with Christ, all of which is received by genuine faith.

    Thanks for unsplinching the two threads, BTW.

    Jeff Cagle

  54. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 1, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    “The point is simply this: there is no false dichotomy in saying that genuine faith entails obedience but is not defined as proneness to obedience.”

    See, I never said that faith is *defined as* proneness to obedience. I said that the definition or nature of faith *includes* proneness to obedience.

    “Genuine faith entails obedience because of something additional: the dynamic work of the Spirit in our union with Christ, all of which is received by genuine faith.”

    I don’t think the confession points this way, since it attributes the causality of obedience to saving faith: “by this faith” we obey, not “by the ongoing dynamic work…etc.”

    And the obedient aspect of faith is not at all that which makes it the instrument of justification. CDE.

  55. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Joshua (#50, 51):

    …since I view effects as part of a definition, in certain conditions, I find the distinction between these negligible.

    I think I agree with you in wanting to keep the dynamic understanding of the Spirit’s work unto salvation.

    Ah. Well, if it comes down to “how do we define ‘definition’?”, then I’m not particular. :lol:

    The major weakness in including “proneness to obedience” in the definition of faith is that in fact two factors are required for real obedience to occur: one must have faith, and (most importantly and resultingly) one must experience the work of the Spirit.

    If then obedience requires two separate factors, then placing “proneness to obedience” as part of the definition of the lesser of the two factors makes things confusing. To me at least. And doubly confusing when thinking about the whole faith/works dichotomy in Eph 2.8,9.

    Jeff Cagle

  56. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Joshua (#54):

    See, I never said that faith is *defined as* proneness to obedience. I said that the definition or nature of faith *includes* proneness to obedience.

    True, you didn’t say that. Let me rephrase: “there is no false dichotomy in saying that genuine faith entails obedience but is include proneness to obedience as a part of its definition.”

    I don’t think the confession points this way, since it attributes the causality of obedience to saving faith: “by this faith” we obey, not “by the ongoing dynamic work…etc.”

    Hm. “They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them, the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” — WCoF 13.1.

    “But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.” — WCoF 14.2.

    To my mind, the picture is: we rely on the Spirit; the Spirit produces the fruit. Do you disagree?

    Jeff Cagle

  57. Ron Henzel said,

    February 1, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Has anyone noticed that Steve Wilkins has published his rationale for leaving the PCA? Apparently he’s speaking primarily for his own reasons, rather than those of AAPC.

  58. David R. McCrory said,

    February 1, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Re # 57,

    Yes. See my # 41,42.

  59. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Wuff, typo!

    “there is no false dichotomy in saying that genuine faith entails obedience but does not include proneness to obedience as a part of its definition.”

    JRC

  60. Ron Henzel said,

    February 1, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Sorry for the redundancy, Dave.

  61. Jeff Moss said,

    February 2, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Jeff C. (#55 and elsewhere),

    I certainly don’t mean to exclude the continuing work of the Spirit to produce good works in the believer’s life. But who gives faith in the first place, if not the Spirit? If faith is His gift, then what is wrong with insisting that the faith that the Spirit gives includes willingness to obey the Giver?

    Let me try another analogy, and let me know what you think. The Apostle Paul tells Christian wives in one place that they should submit to their husbands, as to Christ. In another place he says that they should respect their husbands. Now I say that true respect for a husband includes willingness to submit to him (all other things being equal, since a husband is not sinless like God!). You argue (in my analogy) that respect and submission are two completely different things, and that if I claim submission flows directly out of respect (instead of being a separate and distinct work of the Spirit in the life of the Christian woman), then I have drifted in the direction of works-righteousness.

    I don’t get it. How can true and godly respect for a husband not include willingness (proneness) to submit to him? How can true and godly faith, the gift of the Spirit, not include proneness to obey the One who is believed in?

  62. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Jeff M (#61):

    (Now sitting behind a new router and ready for action. Hack me if you dare!)

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last week. Can we agree that you, Joshua, and I are actually talking about substantially the same picture of salvation, and we’re mostly just trying to pin down the best language to describe it?

    I would submit that limiting the definition of the faith that justifies to what Joshua calls the ‘receptive aspect’ of faith has several clarifying benefits:

    (1) It emphasizes that our ongoing obedience is a continued work of the Spirit and not merely a reliance on a past work of the Spirit.

    (2) It emphasizes that our ‘proneness to obedience’ is not the instrument that justifies.

    This second point is one that gets mightily confused in the discussions with “FV dark”, who want to have our obedience be the grounds for subsequent and/or final justifications.

    (3) Likewise, it reminds us that our righteousness in justification is received from the outside and is not inherent to us.

    It is very important in teaching about faith that we *not* communicate the notion that our justification is the reward for any action on our part, whether believing or obeying.

    Insisting that justifying faith must be, in part, a proneness to obedience appears to my Teacher Self to confuse that issue.

    (4) And finally, as mentioned above in #53, if faith requires an additional element — the ongoing work of the Spirit — to produce obedience, then obedience is simply not a part of its definition as a matter of logic. I think that’s why Pduggie wanted to qualify it as proneness to obedience.

    Back to you and Joshua: suppose we agreed to limit faith to the ‘receptive aspect’ of faith, with the understanding that what is received from God includes a proneness to obedience. What is lost by that definition?

    Jeff Cagle

  63. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Jeff M (#61):

    “respect” and “willingness to submit” are two substantially overlapping ideas. “Trusting reception” and “willing obedience” are two substantially disparate ideas.

    I can’t imagine divorcing the first pair, in most practical situations (a few, but not many). I can easily imagine distinguishing the latter pair.

    Jeff Cagle

  64. Roger Mann said,

    February 2, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    62: Jeff C. wrote:

    It is very important in teaching about faith that we *not* communicate the notion that our justification is the reward for any action on our part, whether believing or obeying.

    Amen! As usual, Jeff, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  65. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 4, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Jeff C.,

    I think we do agree overall, so we’re looking at specifics and semantics, etc.

    I would not want to limit the definition of faith to simply its receptive aspect, since the confession does not seem to: the WCF seems to make faith the cause or instrument of the acts of obedience, fearing, and receiving. So, if we are limiting the definition of faith to the reception, then we are defining faith by its acts, and the WCF includes other acts as well.

    “The major weakness in including “proneness to obedience” in the definition of faith is that in fact two factors are required for real obedience to occur: one must have faith, and (most importantly and resultingly) one must experience the work of the Spirit.”

    But the creation of faith is a work of the Spirit, so that again we have a false dichotomy here, now between faith and work of Spirit. Anyone who has faith has been given it by the work of HS. If you mean the ongoing work of the HS, I would consider that to be supporting the original work: every act of obedience does not require the same sort of Spiritual work as the creation of faith. And can you see by the phrase quoted above how Jeff M. would see the Lordship salvation issues here? Your statement could easily be taken to support a two-step spiritual life: faith, and then a later work of the Spirit to produce obedience. Not that I think you mean that, but it seems very open to such an interpretation…

  66. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 4, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    I forgot: no obedience that is part of, produced by, or included in the definition of faith has anything to do with justification. CDE.

  67. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 6, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Joshua (#65/66):

    I would not want to limit the definition of faith to simply its receptive aspect, since the confession does not seem to: the WCF seems to make faith the cause or instrument of the acts of obedience, fearing, and receiving. So, if we are limiting the definition of faith to the reception, then we are defining faith by its acts, and the WCF includes other acts as well.

    I can appreciate this, especially with your firm qualification that “no obedience that is part of, produced by, or included in the definition of faith has anything to do with justification.”

    IMO, I need to continue to consider faith as James sees it.

    JRC:

    “The major weakness in including “proneness to obedience” in the definition of faith is that in fact two factors are required for real obedience to occur: one must have faith, and (most importantly and resultingly) one must experience the work of the Spirit.”

    JWDS:

    But the creation of faith is a work of the Spirit, so that again we have a false dichotomy here, now between faith and work of Spirit.

    No, that’s not my intent. What I have in mind are two separate works of the Spirit: one in effectual calling, and the other in actually uniting us to Christ.

    And can you see by the phrase quoted above how Jeff M. would see the Lordship salvation issues here? Your statement could easily be taken to support a two-step spiritual life: faith, and then a later work of the Spirit to produce obedience. Not that I think you mean that, but it seems very open to such an interpretation…

    No. Well, yes, but no. :) I can very easily support the idea of a two-step spiritual life: regeneration, followed by union with Christ (I’m persuaded by Anthony Hoekema’s work here in Saved by Grace). But *that* two-step spiritual life is very, very different from the “justified-filled with the Spirit” two-step life that was central to the Lordship Salvation controversy.

    Jeff Cagle

  68. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 6, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Joshua and Jeff M,

    I want to be clear about something: it seems to me that there is a spectrum of understandings concerning what “by faith alone” and such might mean. I feel confident that we three are somewhere in proximity on that spectrum.

    I feel much less confident about where Rich Lusk, one of the contributors to “A Faith That is Never Alone”, is on this issue. I like Rich; he’s been gracious in our few interactions. So don’t interpret what follows as a gratuitous slam. My concern is simply that he uses language that very clearly places him at a different point on the spectrum:

    The Bible is clear: obedience is necessary to receive eternal life. There is no justification apart from good works. But more needs to be said about final judgment. What role will faith play? What role will works play?

    Again, we find the Bible teaching that future justification is according to works. Final justification is to the (faithful) doers of the law (Rom. 2:1ff) and by those good works which make faith complete (Jas. 2:14ff). Justification will not be fully realized until the resurrection. In fact, the main reason justification comes up at all in the Scriptures is because someday we will all stand before God’s judgment seat and answer for our deeds done in the body. This makes the question of justification the most practical question of all.

    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. Future justification is according to one’s life pattern. No one dare claim these works to be meritorious, but they are necessary. There is congruence between the life we live and the destiny we will receive. — Rich Lusk, Future Justification to the Doers of the Law

    In discussion with Rich about this article (here), he satisfied certain concerns; for example, he would deny merit-based works righteousness strongly. And yet he seems determined to make works make a contribution to our forensic justification. I don’t know how to parse that; it seems incoherent to me. It was unfortunate that he didn’t have time/inclination to discuss James 2.

    But in any event, I want both of you to be aware that certain criticisms that you’ve made have also been made by those who do not qualify that “no obedience that is part of, produced by, or included in the definition of faith has anything to do with justification.” So the polemic situation can be confusing.

    Jeff Cagle

  69. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 6, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Weird tags. Sorry.

    JRC

  70. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 6, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Jeff C.

    This is why I don’t use “justification” for the final verdict. Lusk does. So, he says that there is a forensic “justification” in which faith and works combine–that “justification” is the verdict rendered on the elect at the final judgment. When Lusk says that faith and works combine in “justification,” in context he means that faith and works are both considered at the final judgment…which is a–or perhaps even the paramount–forensic declaration, since that is where the language of the law-court is most pronounced. Thus, I don’t think his language is the clearest, but I honestly don’t think he is in substance unorthodox on this. The final judgment does have to do with (notice that I’m using a phrase that hangs loose–not “based on” or “caused by”) more than just faith in its receptive capacity.

    I should also note that his use of the term “combine” is not felicitous, since it seems to take faith and works as two more-or-less separate things, which can easily be inferred to be God’s contribution and ours, much like Trent.

  71. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 6, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Full agreement, except for the “not in substance unorthodox” — I won’t decide that firmly until/if I read his book.

    The weird part for me is that he insists on the “combines” language, and insists further that James 2 teaches it. It seems like there are a lot of ways to cut the James 2 cake other than to bring in a “subsequent justification” *POOF* from nowhere.

    Reminds me of the old Far Side cartoon where one math prof is explaining a proof to another. The board reads

    (eqn. eqn. eqn.) –>

    THEN A MIRACLE OCCURS –>

    (eqn. eqn. eqn.)

    Jeff Cagle

  72. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 6, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    But isn’t the traditional Reformed view essentially that there is some kind of subsequent “justification,” with “justification” as “shown to be justified to others”? Especially as James refers to a later event in Abraham’s life as a “justification.” Lusk just takes James to be referring to the last subsequent “justification,” the final judgment…

  73. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 6, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    But isn’t the traditional Reformed view essentially that there is some kind of subsequent “justification,” with “justification” as “shown to be justified to others”?

    But evidentially, not forensically. And before others, not God. Lusk rejects both of those in his reading of James.

    (FWIW, I actually agree with him that James is not talking about justification before others; I just disagree with him on the dual instrumentality).

    JRC

  74. pduggie said,

    February 7, 2008 at 12:05 am

    “But evidentially, not forensically. ”

    What does THAT EVEN MEAN?

  75. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Well, in some sense … just kidding.

    It means that, in my understanding, the “final justification” will provide evidence that we were God’s people; it will not evaluate our works for the purpose of deciding whether or not we are God’s people.

    Thus, it is an evidential justification, but not a forensic one.

    Jeff Cagle

  76. pduggie said,

    February 7, 2008 at 11:24 am

    So the last Judgement isn’t really a judgement? Its not a courtroom?

  77. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I don’t think so. It seems more to me to be a pronouncement of an already concluded verdict. Thus, our deeds are judged; and yet, it is those who names are not in the Lamb’s book of life who are rejected.

    The same seems to be happening in the parable of sheep and goats in Matt 25; the sheep and goats are separated before their deeds are judged…

    Jeff Cagle


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