No. I think Kline’s point is to show that God’s liberality in establishing the covenant of works is not *inconsistent* with the just claim Adam would have if he kept it. Kline doesn’t anywhere deny God’s liberality to man in the creation covenant. Instead, what he suggests is that we rethink our use of the term “unmerited” because it so obviously leads to confusion when we want to distinguish between God’s goodness to His creatures vs. His grace to sinners.
Re: #1 There are even better quotations from John Calvin. The French Confession, for example, which he personally approved when it was sent to him:
We believe that man was created pure and perfect in the image of God, and that by his own guilt he fell from the grace which he received, and is thus alienated from God, the fountain of justice and of all good, so that his nature is totally corrupt (The French Confession, Article 9; emphasis added).
John Calvin himself taught the same thing. In 1536 he wrote in his first edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion,
In order for us to come to a sure knowledge of ourselves, we must first grasp that Adam, parent of us all, was created in the image and likeness of God. That is, he was endowed with wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and was so clinging by these gifts of grace to God that he could have lived forever in Him, if he had stood fast in the uprightness God had given him. But when Adam slipped into sin, this image and likeness of God was cancelled and effaced, that is, he lost all the benefits of divine grace, by which he could have been led back into the way of life (emphasis added).
Twenty-four years later, Calvin still taught the same thing in his final version of the Institutes,
If man had no title to glory in himself, when, by the kindness of his Maker, he was distinguished by the noblest ornaments, how much ought he to be humbled now, when his ingratitude has thrust him down from the highest glory to extreme ignominy? At the time when he was raised to the highest pinnacle of honor, all which Scripture attributes to him is, that he was created in the image of God, thereby intimating that the blessings in which his happiness consisted were not his own, but derived by divine communication. What remains, therefore, now that man is stripped of all his glory, than to acknowledge the God for whose kindness he failed to be grateful, when he was loaded with the riches of his grace? Not having glorified him by the acknowledgment of his blessings, now, at least, he ought to glorify him by the confession of his poverty (2.2.1; emphasis added).Indeed, it is a matter of Confessional orthodoxy for those in the continental Reformed tradition to affirm that upright, sinless creatures only live by the grace of God:
He also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect; some of whom are fallen from that excellency in which God created them into everlasting perdition, and the others have by the grace of God remained steadfast and continued in their first state (The Belgic Confession, Article 12, emphasis added).
If even sinless angels are preserved by the grace of God for eternal life, why should Adam be any different? It is one thing to disagree with the Belgic Confession here, but it is altogether different to claim that it is a heretical compromise of the Gospel. Nor is this a simply a pragmatic matter of how we speak theologically. Luke 2.52 explicitly says that the grace of God was upon Jesus. Any claim that grace only refers to blessing shown to a sinner is an attack on the holiness of our Lord. If grace was shown to the Second Adam, why not the First?
But there is more: William Ames writes in his Marrow of Theology of God’s covenant with Adam that, “In this covenant the moral deed of the intelligent creature lead either to happiness as a reward or to unhappiness as a punishment. The latter is deserved; the former is not” (1.10.11).
Or consider Fisher’s Catechism in questions and answers 30-32:
Was there any proportion between Adam’s obedience, though sinless, and the life that was promised?
There can be no proportion between the obedience of a finite creature, however perfect, and the enjoyment of the infinite God…
Why could not Adam’s perfect obedience be meritorious of eternal life?
Because perfect obedience was no more than what he was bound to, by virtue of his natural dependence on God, as a reasonable creature made after his image.
Could he have claimed the reward as a debt, in case he had continued in his obedience?
He could have claimed it only as a pactional debt, in virtue of the covenant promise, by which God became debtor to his own faithfulness, but not in virtue of any intrinsic merit of his obedience, Luke 17:10.
Note here the promissory nature of Adam’s relationship to God. Only by believing God’s promises and threats rather than Satan’s lies would Adam inherit eternal unmerited glory. Adam needed no forgiveness but he still lived by faith in God. He was disinherited for unbelief. Likewise, Zacharias Ursinus teaches in his Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism that,
even if our works were perfectly good, yet they could not merit eternal life, inasmuch as they are due from us. A reward is due to evil works according to the order of justice; but not unto good works, because we are bound to do them as the creatures of God; but no one can bind God, on the other hand, by any works or means to confer any benefit upon him. Evil works, again, in their very design oppose and injure God, whilst good works add nothing to his felicity (p. 335).
Francis Turretin agrees with this overwhelming testimony. In the first place he defines “merit” in a way that rules out the possibility that a creature could merit anything from the Creator:
To be true merit, then, these five conditions are demanded: (1) that the “work be undue”–for no one merits by paying what he owes (Luke 17.10), he only satisfies; (2) that it be ours–for no one can be said to merit from another; (3) that it be absolutely perfect and free from all taint–for where sin is there merit cannot be; (4) that it be equal and proportioned to the reward and pay; otherwise it would be a gift, not merit. (5) that the reward be due to such a work from justice—whence an “undue work” is commonly defined to be one that “makes a reward due in the order of justice.” (17.5.4; p. 712).
This would lead one to expect that Turretin would deny that sinless “legal obedience” could ever be meritorious in God’s sight. Turretin explicitly meets this expectation. Even if sinless, “there is no merit properly so called of man before God” (Ibid). “Thus, Adam himself, if he had persevered, would not have merited life in strict justice” (Ibid). And, for a sinless being “the legal condition has the relation of a meritorious cause (at least congruously and improperly)” (12.3.6; p. 186; emphasis added). Why “congruously and improperly”? Because, as Joel Garver summarizes:
Regarding prelapsarian grace in general, he [Turretin] writes that Adam’s “original righteousness can properly be called ‘grace’ or a ‘gratuitous gift’ (and so not due on the part of God, just as the nature itself also, created by him)” (Institutes 5.11.16).
Regarding the gratuitous promise of life held forth in the prelapsarian covenant of nature, Turretin argues that God promises not only bodily immortality, but also a transformed heavenly life. Had Adam persevered in obedience, the immortality of his body would only have been “through the dignity of original righteousness and the power of God’s special grace” (5.12.9). Moreover, Adam’s elevation to heavenly life would not have been a matter of mere justice, but also “the goodness of God” who is “plenteous in mercy” and by whom Adam would “be gifted” with heavenly life (8.6.6, 8).For Turretin, not only was grace involved in Adam’s creation, in God’s promise, and in its reward, but Adam was also given “sufficient grace” by which to remain obedient to that first covenant, a grace that Turretin describes as “habitual and internal” (9.7.14-17).
Turretin’s nephew, Benedict Pictet, reiterated this Reformed Orthodox position. His Christian Theology was translated by Frederick Reyroux and it was published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication in Philadelphia before January of 1846. At that time, the issue of the Princeton Review announced the publication and declared,
In this small but compact volume, we have a comprehensive epitome of Theology; from the pen of one of the most distinguished theologians of Geneva. The great excellence of Pictet, is simplicity and perspicuity. He is, even in his large work, much less scholastic, than his predecessors, and less disposed perhaps to press his statements beyond the limits of certain knowledge. We are glad to see so sound and readable a book placed within the reach of all classes of readers (vol 18, issue 1, “Short Notices,” p. 180).
Pictet wrote regarding God’s covenant with Adam that it involved both promise and warning. The warning involves a rather straightforward exposition of the text of Genesis. Proving that a promise was also involved, however, requires some extrapolation, because the future reward is not stated in the text. Pictet reasons from God’s character saying:
With regard to the promise of the covenant, though it is not expressly laid down, it is sufficiently clear from the threatening of death, which is opposed to it; for although God owes nothing to his creature, yet as the whole scripture sets him forth to us as slow to anger and abundant in mercy, it is not at all probable, that God denounced upon man the threat of eternal punishment, and at the same time gave him no promise (p. 141; emphasis added).
Not Kline’s strict justice but God’s abundance in mercy would lead Adam to glory had he kept the Covenant of Works.
Pictet also deals with the principle of the possibility of meritorious works later in his book. In dealing with the good works of a believer, and proving “the necessity of good works,” he goes on to point out that such necessary good works are not meritorious before God. In doing so he gives four reasons (pp 332, 333). At least two of these would apply to all creatures regardless of sin or innocence. First “a meritorious work must be one that is not due, for no one can have any merit in paying what he owes; but good works are due; ‘When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which it was out duty to do’ (Luke 17.10).” Second, there must be a “proportion” between “the good work and the promised reward; but there is no proportion between the two in the present case; not even when the good work is martyrdom, the most excellent of all. For (all) ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed,’ (Romans 8.18).”
But Pictet not only speaks of good works in general, but specifically addresses the issue of how good works would have related to Adam’s vindication and glorification if he had continued in faith and obedience rather than falling into unbelief and disobedience. He writes that “if the first man had persevered in innocence, he would have been justified by the fulfillment of the natural law which God had engraven on his heart, and of the other commandments which God might have enjoined on him; in short, by perfectly loving God and his neighbor” (p. 312). Thus, if Adam had persevered he would have been declared righteous and “acquired a right to eternal glory, not indeed as if he had properly merited it, for the creature can merit nothing from the Creator, but according to the free promise and Covenant of God” (Ibid; emphasis added).This “free promise,” as we have seen, Pictet believed was according to God’s abundant mercy.
As can be seen by the fact that Pictet was translated, American theologians did not reject Turrettin’s faithful summary of the Reformed heritage; far less did they condemn it as a subversion of the Gospel. As Joel Garver writes in his essay, “The Covenant of Works in the Reformed Tradition,” of, A. A. Hodge’s Outlines of Theology, published in 1860.
In it he writes of the covenant of works, “It was also essentially a gracious covenant, because although every creature is, as such, bound to serve the Creator to the full extent of his powers, the Creator cannot be bound as a mere matter of justice to grace the creature fellowship with himself.” In his posthumously published Evangelical Theology: A Course of Popular Lectures (1890), Hodge similarly states, “God offered to man in this gracious Covenant of Works the opportunity of accepting his grace and receiving his covenant gift of a confirmed holy character” (167).
I will cut short my discussion list of evidence here, though it could be much much longer. Readers are directed to Joel Garver’s much more detailed and better-organized essay (http://www.joelgarver.com/writ/theo/covwor.htm) for more evidence, though it too could be much longer. Far from undermining it, those being criticized as “miscreants” and “aberrant” and worse are simply promoting Reformed theology in this area.
Here’s Kline, agreeing that “The establishing of the covenant springs from [God's] liberality,” (which #3 says Kline denies):
“For God’s love, though it may find expression in gospel grace, is also expressed in the bestowal of good apart altogether from considerations of the merits of man’s response to covenantal responsibility. Such is the goodness or benevolence of God displayed in the act of creation. This marvelous manifestation of love seen in God’s creational endowment of man with glory and honor had nothing to do with human merit. Without prior existence, man was obviously without merit-rating one way or the other when the Lord creatively assigned him his particular ontological status, with its present good and eschatological potential” (Kingdom Prologue).
Read that quote again. It isn’t talking about establishing the covenant from liberality. Its talking about creating from liberality.
Kline makes it so that God HAD to promise man him life for obedience because of man’s nature.
“”We will then reckon with the fact that man’s hope of realizing the state of glorification and of attaining to the Sabbath consummation belonged to him by virtue of his very nature as created in the image of the God of glory. This expectation was an in-created earnest of fullness and to be denied that fullness would have frustrated him to the depths of his spirit’s longing for God and God-likeness. Whatever he might be granted short of that would be no blessing at all, but a curse. ”
Not quite sure who you’re trying to convince here because in the quotations you’ve provided, you’re not arguing anything that we confessional people would deny. Of course God condescended in kindness, grace, liberality, etc to grant such a covenant offer to Adam and hence the entire human race. That does not make the STIPULATIONS themselves gracious, and that is why the confession that you’ve sworn to defines it as a covenant of works; because the stipulations say “Do this and live” which Paul clearly shows is contrary to grace. This is why most versions of the Standards include Gal 3:12 and/or Lev 18:5 as a proof text for the Covenant of Works.
Until you grasp this, you’re in danger of going the way of Steve Wilkins. And we all know how THAT ends up.
As to the relation of good works to rewards, it may be observed –
(1.) The word “merit,” in the strict sense of the term, means that common quality of all actions or services to which a reward is due, in strict justice, on account of their intrinsic value or worthiness. It is evident that, in this strict sense, no work of any creature can in itself merit any reward from God; because — (a.) All the faculties he possesses were originally granted and are continuously sustained by God, so that he is already so far in debt to God that he can never bring God in debt to him. (b.) Nothing the creature can do can be a just equivalent for the incomparable favour of God and its consequences.
(2.) There is another sense of the word, however, in which it may be affirmed that if Adam had in his original probation yielded the obedience required, he would have “merited” the reward conditioned upon it, not because of the intrinsic value of that obedience, but because of the terms of the covenant which God had graciously condescended to form with him. By nature, the creature owed the Creator obedience, while the Creator owed the creature nothing. But by covenant the Creator voluntarily bound himself to owe the creature eternal life, upon the condition of perfect obedience.
It is evident that in this life the works of God’s people can have no merit in either of the senses above noticed. They can have no merit intrinsically, because they are all imperfect, and therefore themselves worthy of punishment rather than of reward. They can have no merit by covenant concession on God’s part, because we are not now standing in God’s sight in the covenant of works, but of grace, and the righteousness of Christ, received by faith alone, constitutes the sole meritorious ground upon which our salvation, in all of its stages, rests. See chapter. xi., on Justification.
Covenant theology has always acknowledged a distinction between strict merit, and covenant merit—or as Ames called it in the very quote you supplied “pactional debt.” While Adam could not have merited eternal life on the basis of strict merit, it is more than obvious to anyone not blinded by a (primarily semantic) presupposition alien to the text of Scripture that he would have merited it on the basis of the arrangement God made with him in the covenant of works.
Who are these people? Messrs. Webb and Gadbois, the Nicene Creed deniers? You’re ‘avin’ a laugh mate. They certainly do not believe in, or acknowledge, one baptism for the remission of sins. They told us so themselves, didn’t they?
Hypocrisy is a great sin, and it is sickening to see hypocrites like these hounding others out of their denominations for being unconfessional. Beware the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Curate, don’t stop there.
I mean, Pharisees and Saducees are one thing, but what about the good ol’ days when we were accused of being the church of Sardis and instruments of the devil? Now THAT was good interaction.
Good grief man. First, Presbyterians are sworn to the WCF, not Nicene. So there is no contradiction in calling men “confessional” even if they “deny Nicene.” 2. No non-Anglican Protestant has ever said that Nicene is inerrant. On the contrary, we say that councils can and often do err. 3. When one speaks loosely of “affirming Nicea” one ordinarily refers to the Christology — all of which assertions are preserved in more succinct, accurate, and precise form in WCF. 4. As such, “one baptism for the remission of sins” is ambiguous, in that the syntax could support a variety of meanings. So one could say “I believe that” yet be as historically idiosyncratic as say Calvin was in his interpretation of the phrase “descended into hell.” It bought Calvin the ability to affirm the Apostle’s Creed but at the expense, presumably, of changing original intent. That may have been useful politically in Calvin’s day, but is not tenable nor necessary for the church as it moves forward.
The second point is helpful and I’m glad it was quoted.
The “merit” Hodge affirms cannot, contrary to his intention, be restricted to Adam. Trusting in God to deliver on his promises because one has met the conditions attached to the promises is not only a situation in the garden, but a situation in the Covenant of Grace.
I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
Correct me, O Lord, but in justice;
not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.
Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not,
and on the peoples that call not on your name,
for they have devoured Jacob;
they have devoured him and consumed him,
and have laid waste his habitation (Jeremiah 10.23-25).
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing (2 Timothy 4.7, 8).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1.9)
The difference between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace is that God required perfect (and non-meritorious by any proper definition) obedience in the former while in the New Covenant he requires repentance toward God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.
If meeting the conditions of a covenant and obligating God by his own gracious promise to reward you according to the terms of the covenant counts as merit then faith in the New Covenant becomes meritorious.
But we all know that language is totally inappropriate. Faith is the means that unites us to Christ, the only meritorious ground of our standing before God. We cannot make that distinction and then follow Hodge and claim that there are two sense of merit. His proffered language game might work if there were not passages in the Bible like I have quoted above (though I doubt it).
You (not Hodge?) write: “Covenant theology has always acknowledged a distinction between strict merit, and covenant merit.” No, the Westminster Standards never mention, imply, nor allude to such a distinction. Far from being nonconfessional, you are condemning the innocent for not embracing your extra-curricular hobby horse.
Mark, I am grateful that you finally seem to be acknowledging at least the possibility of pactional debt, or pactum merit. It is in one of the quotations you provided. It only took about two years to convince you.
But you keep on papering over the distinction between pre-Fall and post-Fall when it comes to what humans are able to do. Our sin makes us completely incapable of any of the three kinds of merit after the Fall. Period. The only merit of which we can speak is Christ’s. But before the Fall, Adam was capable of pactum merit only. You tend to throw your arguments at us as if we were advocating strict merit as possible in the case of Adam. In all honesty (although this is a disputed point), I don’t even believe that Kline was advocating this. None of the quotations you offer are against pactum merit. Not in the slightest. And the WCF advocates covenant merit in *concept,* though not in the words themselves (and only in reference to pre-Fall Adam, not any of the rest of fallen humanity), when it says that Adam would have obtained life on the principle of perfect and personal obedience. This obedience was part of the terms of the covenant (hence pactional, or pactum), and the principle of obtaining was obedience, not faith. You simply cannot squeeze in faith in WCF 7 as the principle of Adam’s obtaining eternal life. The principle was obedience. That obedience was the agreed-upon pactum merit upon which Adam would have obtained the glorified state. That is what the WCF says. Period. Any other reading grossly twists the chapter into something completely and utterly unrecognizable.
Sam, in order for any work to have any kind of merit, it cannot be tainted by sin. Sin is negative condign merit: it inherently merits hells. And there is nothing about a so-called good work (on our part!) that can counteract that negative merit. WCF 16 is quite clear on this, especially section 5.
“But you keep on papering over the distinction between pre-Fall and post-Fall when it comes to what humans are able to do. Our sin makes us completely incapable of any of the three kinds of merit after the Fall. Period. The only merit of which we can speak is Christ’s. But before the Fall, Adam was capable of pactum merit only.”
No, if pactum “merit” is simply the meeting of the conditions of a promise, then fulfilling the conditions of the Covenant of Grace is meritorious. Since no one is denying that Adam was required to perform perfect and personal obedience, there simply no argument between you and your adversaries, and accusing them of denying this point would be false witness.
“This obedience was part of the terms of the covenant (hence pactional, or pactum), and the principle of obtaining was obedience, not faith”
Beside the point. If this obedience was “pactionally” meritorious, then so is faith. It is a condition for out interest in Christ and thus our benefitting from the Covenant. Therefore it is meritorious. Since I find that conclusion wrong, I reject the principle.
Besides, what makes this pactional merit different than the other kind? Why, that it is non-meritorious merit. We’re having a fratricidal conflagration over whether or not Adam was able to acheive non-meritorious merit? Why not burn people at the stake over differences of opinion over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
Westminster never states, implies, or does anything else to say indicate are 1) more than one kind of merit; or that, 2) if there was another kind, Adams obedience in the Covenant of Works would qualify.
The entire heresy hunt in this area is simply an illegal use of force to impose private opinions at the expense of the peace of the church or its doctrinal constitution.
Lane, I did point out (Wilson’s comments ages ago) that I couldn’t go along with the non-meritorious merit because it would infect the covenant of grace. I also pointed out that it would make Christ’s merit non-meritorious, given the rhetoric floating around about how both Adam and Christ’s work must be meritorious.
Is it possible for you to respond without accusing someone of bearing false witness or libel? I know, I know, you would except for the fact that you are always libeled and lied about. Right? Anyway, it just comes off as incessantly whiny.
Mark, the CoG is meritorious in that Christ fulfills the conditions of it. Your objection about “infecting” the CoG falls to the ground because you have assumed that the two covenant must operate precisely the same way with regard to human beings. If you start with that, then you have ruled out a priori any kind of merit in either covenant. Basically, Adam needed to have merited by pact eternal life. He failed to do that. The only kind of merit that could correct such a problem was the condign and pactum merit that Christ has. Or does Adam’s sin not merit hell condignly?
On whether WCF has pactum merit, I have already argued that WCF 7 has the concept, though not in so many words. You are making the word concept fallacy here, saying that in order for you to be bound by this idea, it has to be stated in so many words. Obedience as the ground of Adam’s obtaining eternal life is the very definition of pactum merit. If I wanted to describe pactum merit, I could do no better than that. You didn’t answer this argument.
With regard to fratricidal argumentation, you are shrinking all the myriad issues of the FV down to this, and then saying that we shouldn’t fight about it. There are quite a few more issues involved in the FV than just this, although this is a very important issue, since the doctrine of Christ’s mediatorial work depends on this bo-covenantal structure, as a’Brakel so eloquently put it.
You are conflating faith and obedience as well. Obedience does not involve receiving and resting upon Christ’s work. It certainly did not involve that in the garden. Adam’s obedience was to consist of guarding and tending the garden, keeping out intruders such as Satan. Faith as it is a condition of the CoG is something that God gives us, first of all, so it really isn’t us fulfilling any condition by ourselves, contrary to what Adam would have done. Secondly, faith as it relates to justification is completely opposed to works, or obedience. The reason is that faith is not itself a thing, but receives someone else as the object of faith. The point of faith is Jesus Christ, not faith itself. This is not true of obedience.
#8: “Read that quote again. It isn’t talking about establishing the covenant from liberality. Its talking about creating from liberality.”
I think you’re mistaken. Kline had said “Without prior existence, man was obviously without merit-rating one way or the other when the Lord creatively assigned him his particular ontological status, with its present good and eschatological potential.”
“Eschatological potential” obviously has reference to more than just creation. He has the covenant in mind as well.
“Mark, the CoG is meritorious in that Christ fulfills the conditions of it. Your objection about “infecting” the CoG falls to the ground because you have assumed that the two covenant must operate precisely the same way with regard to human beings.”
No, I’ve pointed out that your definition of “pactional merit” applies to faith in the covenant of grace as well as to obedience in the covenant of works.
It is much less beset with problems to simply point out that personal obedience is not required because through Christ and his work we have forgiveness by faith.
“Obedience as the ground of Adam’s obtaining eternal life is the very definition of pactum merit”
I don’t see how “ground” does not put is right back in the meritorious kind of merit. The ground of Adam’s obtaining eternal life would have been God’s gracious promise.
“Or does Adam’s sin not merit hell condignly?”
Of course it does. Just because Adam was a son and not a contract employee does not make his apostasy any less sinful, but more so. We need Christ’s real and meritorious merit because of Adam’s real demerit.
“I have already argued that WCF 7 has the concept, though not in so many words. ”
No, you have asserted it. No one denies that Adam had to be perfectly obedient to inherit the promised glory.
“There are quite a few more issues involved in the FV than just this, although this is a very important issue, since the doctrine of Christ’s mediatorial work depends on this bo-covenantal structure, as a’Brakel so eloquently put it.”
I understand the point about “more issues,” but your sentence ends with a demonstration that I am right. This stuff that doesn’t even matter is being invented into a major case. A’ Brakel is not the Confession. There is zero Confessional issue here.
“Obedience does not involve receiving and resting upon Christ’s work.”
Not for Adam, but we’re commanded to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is offered in the covenant of grace and therefore, by the “pactional” definition, trusting in Christ is meritorious. The Westminster Confession even affirms that faith is “evangelical obedience” while being careful to show that it is not the meritorious ground of our salvation. (In fact, the Westminster Confession is a shining beacon of clarity on this issue without ever getting into the headache of trying to define faith as disobedient.)
“Faith as it is a condition of the CoG is something that God gives us, first of all, so it really isn’t us fulfilling any condition by ourselves, contrary to what Adam would have done”
It is true that there is some kind of difference between what Adam would have done, and what we do when we believe. Nevertheless, your sentence does not follow. Yes faith is a gift but it is still we who believe. That fact that we don’t do it “by ourselves” does not change the fact that if we define “pactional debt” as meritorious then those who believe have done a meritorious deed by relying on Christ. Pactional “merit” is not in the Confession and really needs to be excised as problematic and confusing.
And even though Adam was different than us, he still would have been grateful to God for preserving him if he had passed the test of Satan’s temptation. Even the angels who persevered did so by God’s predestinating power along with us. And the Belgic Confession was typical in describing the perseverance of the angels who did not fall to God’s grace.
“faith is not itself a thing”
Lane, this isn’t even intelligible. Of course faith means relying on Christ and his work rather than ourselves or anything we do. But faith is still a definable thing or else there would be no such thing as faith. The non-existence of faith was never a tenet of the Reformation.
Furthermore, the whole story of the Fall makes it clear that Adam stopped trusting God’s promises and believed Satan’s life. His object of faith was not the same as ours–with the incarnation and atonement involved–but the Bible makes it totally clear that he was supposed to believe God and regard God as faithful.
Look, we can argue about this as much as you want. But this certainly has nothing to do with the Confessional orthodoxy of anyone and needs to be withdrawn from the present war. It is a discussion, not a trial.
I notice that so far no-one has rushed to defend these hypocrites from the charge that I have leveled against them. It can only be because it is true.
I am surprised to discover that the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds are not a part of your confession. At least you still have the Apostles’ Creed.
Concerning the one baptism for the remission of sins, it is undeniable that the same meaning and content of that article has been retained in the WCF article 28, where it is fleshed out and defined in no uncertain terms. Baptism really and truly conveys the things that it signifies to worthy receivers.
Therefore the charge of being unconfessional still stands against Webb and Gadbois, as does the charge of hypocrisy.
I keep waiting for someone within the NAPARC with a conscience to take action against these sinful men on this, but to no avail.
It seems to me that you all are confessional only when it suits you to be so. Talk about cynicism.
The whole anti-FV thing is supposed to be about defending justification. Since baptism is for the remission of sins, it is impossible to argue that it is a secondary issue. Effectual justification in baptism is a part of the doctrine of justification, and it is thus right at the heart of the present controversy.
But you differ, so you are heretical on the very subject that you are claiming to be zealous for.
Lane, while I do agree that Adam’s obedience certainly included guarding the garden, etc., wasn’t the specific obedience stipulated by the CoW simply the prohibition of the tree? It was on that issue of obedience that the sanctions of the cov’t depended. So, the pactum meritum was simply not disobeying God at that one point…
I’m not sure if that helps the discussion, but I was curious about that…
“I notice that so far no-one has rushed to defend these hypocrites from the charge that I have leveled against them. It can only be because it is true.”
Um, curate, you may have noticed that I am somewhat in favor of the FV side of things here, so you shouldn’t take this as an attack, but the kind of argument I’ve quoted here is really, really bad. Using it doesn’t help the discussion, and just gives your opponents more things to carp at than the issues.
I skipped down after #22 to comment, so this may have been cleared up already, but I think you’re mistaken about merit being the meeting of conditions in order for a promise to be fulfilled (which, you say, would apply pactum merit to both the pre- and post-fall covenants).
Our Confession says that Adam’s obedience would have been the basis upon which God would have rewarded him before the fall. But in the covenant of grace, faith doesn’t hold the same place that works held earlier (unless we’re neonomians).
Faith is the instrument by which we receive what saves us. Jesus fulfilled the conditions for us, meaning that our believeing is not analogous to Adam’s obeying, as if both are “the conditions” for receiving God’s promises.
My understanding of merit in its various kinds is poor. What I was wondering is–do you have an article/book that you’d recommend I read to get a better understanding; I’m pretty sure there’s something in the definition of pactum merit that I’m missing.
The problem is, you have a large school of argument going around in reformed circles that says “exegetically, whenever you see a promise hanging on a condition, you know you’ve got works and pactum merit”
And then you have the FACT that lots of orthodox reformed people will freely admit that faith is a condition of God granting his blessings to us. Yes, its an “instrumental” condition, and it isn’t a meritorious one, but its a condition.
And then you notice that putting those two things together means that the people if the first school of argument suddenly realize that they have to start denying that faith is actually a “condition” and they can now attack everyone who speaks that way as undermining true reformed doctrine, even though the ones who do DON’T BUY the argument of the first school.
I don’t recall finding Kline actually saying “strict justice” for pactum merit.
He talks about “simple justice” which seems to me his way of getting around the issue that calling pactum merit “strict” justice is monstrous, while dissing those who want to see any grace because of the context of the pact.
“Obedience as the ground of Adam’s obtaining eternal life is the very definition of pactum merit”
And then you wrote:
I don’t see how “ground” does not put is right back in the meritorious kind of merit.
The “meritorious kind of merit?” Do you mean “strict merit?” If you do, you’re dead wrong. The covenant (pactum) provided a way for Adam to merit eternal life by fulfilling its terms.
Then you wrote:
The ground of Adam’s obtaining eternal life would have been God’s gracious promise.
The “gracious promise” that is actually recorded in Scripture is the promise of death: eat and die a well-deserved (i.e., merited) death. Please demonstrate from Scripture that the life Adam would have earned if he had obeyed would have been an undeserved gift.
The Confession uses the same language for both in the Larger Catechism:
Q. 20. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?
A. The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth; putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself; instituting the Sabbath; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.
Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?
A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.
There are differences, but I don’t know anywhere where the Confession or Catechisms say that Adam’s obedience was the “basis” for his standing before God. He was created righteous, after all, before he had done anything good or bad. It was a gift.
Joshua (#30), The very purpose of putting man in the garden was so that Adam could tend and guard it. That is not outside the scope of the covenant of works. See a’Brakel on this point. Of course, the negative command not to eat is also part of the stipulations. But there are positive and negative stipulations to the CoW. Look at the juxtaposition of Genesis 2:15 with vv 16-17. They are part of the exact same context. It is more than artificial to separate the commands of verse 15 (the fact that the actions are in the form of a purpose clause is irrelevant: God would not have hidden the purpose of Adam’s existence from him, and such a revelation would have the force of a command) from the command of verses 16-17. Therefore, the command of 1:28 is also part of this covenant.
Adam was never “independent” of God. But that is not what I am claiming. What Adam had by nature would have been sufficient for him to obey. He had the command, and he had the moral uprightness (though not immutably) to obey the commands of God. Adam needed nothing beyond what he had by nature. To say otherwise is to say that Adam was not created “very good,” as Genesis in fact says.
BOQ No, I’ve pointed out that your definition of “pactional merit” applies to faith in the covenant of grace as well as to obedience in the covenant of works. EOQ
This is assertion, not argument. Adam’s obedience was not a matter of faith alone without works. So, the two are not parallel in that respect.
BOQ No, you have asserted it. No one denies that Adam had to be perfectly obedient to inherit the promised glory. EOQ
This is what is assertion. Obedience is to a law. The law constitutes the terms of the CoW. Obeying the law therefore “merits” (according to the terms) what the law promises. And your second sentence is weasel-wording. What the FV denies is that the principle of Adam’s obtaining glory was works. They argue that Adam would have inherited glory by faith alone through grace alone, thus conflating the pre-Fall situation with the post-Fall situation.
On the continental Reformed tradition, we do indeed accept the Nicene Creed along with the Apostle’s and Athanasian along with the 3 Forms of Unity. Note, however, that the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg don’t use the same language that WCF does on the issue:
Question 72. Is then the external baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?
Answer: Not at all: for the blood of Jesus Christ only, and the Holy Ghost cleanse us from all sin.
Question 73. Why then does the Holy Ghost call baptism “the washing of regeneration,” and “the washing away of sins”?
Answer: God speaks thus not without great cause, to-wit, not only thereby to teach us, that as the filth of the body is purged away by water, so our sins are removed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; but especially that by this divine pledge and sign he may assure us, that we are spiritually cleansed from our sins as really, as we are externally washed with water.
The language of the Nicene Creed, of course, is not objectionable to any Bible-believing person, since that is just reflecting the language of Acts 2.
“Please demonstrate from Scripture that the life Adam would have earned if he had obeyed would have been an undeserved gift.”
1) that’s a complex question like “have you stopped beating your wife.” I deny that Adam would have EARNED life at all, rather he would have received it as inheritance. Covenant is family language first, suzerainty and employment language only metaphorically.
When you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.
For the PROMISE to Abraham and his Seed that he would be HEIR of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
Now the PROMISES were made to Abraham and to his Seed. It does not say, “And to seeds,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your seed,” who is Christ. … For if the INHERITANCE comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise
“He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and gifted him the name that is above every name,”
“But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.””
“basis,” can be meritorious ground (not necessarily, but I need Jason to clarify where he is going with the term. The Confession says that both obedience was a condition for Adam and that faith is a condition for us.
Which means, according to Lane, that the Confession says that faith is pactionally meritorious.
I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
Correct me, O Lord, but in justice;
not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.
Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not,
and on the peoples that call not on your name,
for they have devoured Jacob;
they have devoured him and consumed him,
and have laid waste his habitation (Jeremiah 10.23-25).
What adam had “by nature” was a ‘supernatural’ relationship with God sustaining him at every point. He wasn’t on his own.
God restores his relation to us when he fills us with the Spirit Jesus won the right to distribute by his death.
You seemed to claim that if Adam can fulfil his condition of obdience “by nature” that totally bifurcates it from us fulfilling the condition of faith, since we need “help” to do that.
But we can fulfil the condition of faith by our new natures, and Adam’s nature wasn’t a nature that was alone, but a nature in fellowship with God, and loved by God.
I can’t take credit for my faith because God decreed in eternity that he would give it to me.
If Adam had not sinned, he could not take credit for that, because it would reveal the counterfactual that God had decreed in eternity past that Adam would obey. Right?
I feel like all reformed theology has devolved into words desigend to snag people. Its like some words are unclean when they show up in certain contexts: grounds, basis, doing, condition, merit, forensic, evidence, justice, favor, grace, etc.
You keep trying to come up with ways to deny the obvious *analogies* between Adam’s situation and ours, because you’re concerned that admitting the analogies will lead to identities. But it doesn’t have to.
Jesus is an example of faith, as well as the author. There has to be some fundamental analogy between his life of faith and ours, even in justification. All the arguments bifurcating them serve to seperate us from Christ’s example.
Paul, you don’t even seem to have a view of federal headship. Christ’s life, in terms of our justification, is in no way, shape, or form, exemplary. Christ was not justified by faith. Scripture nowhere says that, either in words, or in ideas. Christ’s obedience is precisely that which we are unable to do. You are running roughshod over the four-fold state distinctions, none of which correspond to Christ’s nature except the last one.
“Was Adam’s wife an undeserved gift, or did Adam earn her?”
Clearly he didn’t earn her. Instead, she was a gift. But Adam was created by nature to reproduce, so God had to be just to provide a wife to fulfil that mandate. But it makes it no less true that Adam’s wife was a gift.
Likewise Adam would have obeyed the command, but his inheritance would be in the zone of gift, not wages.
Paul, you are assuming only two possibilities: grace or strict merit. But there is a tertium quid: pactum merit. I have the feeling that I can explain this until I’m blue in the face, and it won’t enter the somewhat thick skulls of FV advocates. They seem to think that an argument against strict merit is an argument against my position. While is undoubtedly true that God gave many things to Adam, that does not mean that the obtaining of glory would be pure gift, pure grace. On the contrary, God made it clear to Adam that though the reward would not be in proportion to the work, nevertheless the work was the basis (by divine fiat, covenantally) on which Adam would obtain eternal life. Paul, there is no possible way that you can reconcile your opinion with WCF 7.
And, again, I’m confused. Why isn’t pactum merit a possibility for us? WCF 16.5 focuses on the disproportion between the act and the reward, but that doesn’t seem to argue against pactum merit at all–that’s sort of the point of pactum merit to the extent I’m understanding it.
“On the contrary, God made it clear to Adam that though the reward would not be in proportion to the work, nevertheless the work was the basis (by divine fiat, covenantally) on which Adam would obtain eternal life.”
“Paul, there is no possible way that you can reconcile your opinion with WCF 7.”
There’s nothing in WCF 7 I take issue with.
What I take issue with is Kline, who identifies what Adam had by covenant into what Adam has by nature with no condescension on God’s part. He brackets off the context of the covenant and doesn’t allow the context to affect his interpretation of the promise for a condition as justice and nothing but justice.
Klines disciple Bill Baldwin is explicit that he thinks WCF 7.1 is CONTRADICTED by WSC #1. You don’t think that, do you Lane?
It becomes wages, instead of inheritance. Nothing in WCF 7 is opposed to seeing what Adam would receive from his obedience as an inheritance.
Does a’Brakel or Turretin have a discussion on the difference between pactum merit and congruent merit? It seems possible to see these two things as similar, especially in your last post, where you say that “the reward would not be in proportion to the work,” which is, as I recall, very close to what Biel, etc. said about congruent merit.
As for Jesus’ faith, he was not justified by faith in anything like the same way that we are, by receiving someone else’s work on our behalf. Jesus did have faith, however, in the sense of trust in God and His promises–Jesus believed that the Father would raise Him from the dead, for example, trusting in the Father’s proclamation at His baptism that was fulfilled by the resurrection. Jesus trusted and believed God’s promises perfectly, as well as perfectly obeying all its commands, but the Son’s relation to those promises was categorically different from ours, since they were His by right and as reward, while to us they are indirect, through union with Him. Jesus’ faith was thus meritorious, not instrumental; His trust and obedience were the combined, meritorious ground for the Father’s forensic declaration that Jesus was righteous and truthful in His claims of sonship.
Sam, the reason pactum merit is not possible for us is that even our best works are tainted with sin, which is not true of pre-Fall Adam. Sin is what makes the situation worlds apart from pre-Fall Adam to us.
Paul, why are you tarring me with Kline’s brush? You seem to think that an argument against Kline is an argument against me. It would be nice to see a Baldwin quotation, and not just assertion, although that is irrelevant to this discussion.
In an improper sense, Adam’s obedience resulting in eternal life is wages. The “do this and live” describes the substance of the covenant of works. Romans 4 describes this as well.
Also, does anyone have access to Turretin’s Institutes in Latin? When T. discusses the CoW, he refers to it as fundamentally “gratuitous,” and I’ve been wondering what term he uses there in Latin and how it relates to his other terms for grace…
Are you familiar with Gallant’s article “Monocovenantalism? Multiple Covenants, No Adamic Merit”? If so, what do you think of it? He denies Adamic merit while still maintaining Christ’s merit and asserting that perfect obedience was necessary for Adam. Is that a permissible position, differing only on the interpretation of Genesis rather than on the substance of the bi-covenantal difference and the need for Christ’s merit? I’m not sure if I agree with him on his view of Adam’s works, but I think he effectively safeguards Christ’s unique merit in a way that keeps him from dangerous error…
Paul is getting his interpretations from James Jordan, of course. Not just in theological content, but also the method of argumentation is similar to Jordan’s (such as making sweeping statements without argument like “covenant is family language first, suzerainty and employment language only metaphorically”).
Noteworthy is the fact that this feature of “covenant” is precisely what led Scott Hahn and Gerry Matatics (both former Presbyterian ministers) into Rome and her false doctrine of justification. This, unsurprisingly, bears overlapping features with Norman Shepherd’s theology. Just replace the supposedly “cold” legal elements of covenant and justification with a warm, fuzzy “family” model. Not only does God’s justice as well as the legal nature of justification go down the tubes (making the atonement incoherent), but it turns out that our works really *can* have a place in our salvation, since the bar of obedience is lowered to an attainable level (perfect obedience is not required anymore) and, just like in a family situation, we have an “in by grace, stay in by works” covenantal nomism.
Not attempting to answer for Lane (I’m eager to hear his thoughts), but I see a lot of … erm … “merit” in Tim Gallant’s article. A whole lot indeed.
* He begins the discussion by distinguishing caustive necessary conditions from logically necessary conditions. That just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
* He seeks a real third way in this discussion. I’m quite tired of the Murray-Kline fight, and think that both men have fundamental irreducibly valid points that need to be acknowledged, and then moved past. YES: there was grace operative in the garden. NO: there is no such thing as “strict merit” (in fact, there’s no such thing as “good” outside of God anyways). YES: the covenant of grace unfolds over time. YES: the Mosaic covenant operates on two levels simultaneously. YES: we require that Christ was righteous for us in order for the New Covenant to be truly gracious. Etc. Gallant, I think, comes very close to capturing echoes of all of those points in his article. Kudos to him!
* I’m struck by the fact that his contrast between Adam’s demerit and Christ’s merit sticks close to the Biblical metal. I’ve always been a tad uncomfortable with the highly speculative nature of the discussions about what “Adam would have earned [or inherited] had he only obeyed…” (but see below).
* I very much appreciate the fact that this is the first FV author I’ve read who has explicitly distanced himself from the idea that we in the New Covenant are under a scheme of “Covenantal Nomism”, and who places the Spirit working through the Word at the center of Christian living.
* I’m struck by the fresh way in which Gallant both differentiates and joins the Mosaic Covenant to the overall covenant as it unfolds. The most striking paragraphs in the article:
This line of thinking also opens up for us the possibility of thinking of the Mosaic covenant in terms other than those of the two choices commonly given (i.e. either as a republication of a meritorious “covenant of works,” or a mere extension of the “covenant of grace”). As was the case with Adam, God did not offer Israel an opportunity to merit the eschatological promise. The inheritance was never intended to be by means of the Mosaic law (see esp. Gal 3.15-18). Israel was, however, placed under the terms of that law and could not escape from it. This subjugation was not to tempt Israel to try to earn their salvation; rather, it was a necessary measure to place the immature child under a custodian (paidagogos; Gal 3.24). Moreover, Paul writes further that the Mosaic covenant was introduced “for the sake of transgressions” (Gal 3.19); one of the most compelling readings of this particular phrase is: “in order to increase transgressions.” This is also what Paul indicates in Romans 5.20: “the law entered that the offense might abound.”
In that sense, the traditional theologians were entirely correct in drawing a parallel between the Adamic covenant and the Mosaic, between Adam and Israel. In fact, the Mosaic covenant functions in some ways as a heightened version of the Adamic covenant, not intrinsically, but precisely because it has been “made weak through the flesh” (Rom 8.3). But in both cases, the covenant is a temporary, non-eschatological arrangement designed to govern the relationship between God and His people during their period of immaturity. (The “heightening” feature of the Mosaic covenant is necessary, at least in part, to draw the sins of the world upon the priestly nation, as preparation for Christ’s sacrificial work.) In neither case is the covenant designed to elicit merit-producing works aimed at earning glorification. And yet, in neither case is the covenant to be construed as simply “the covenant of grace” – and certainly not to be viewed as essentially equivalent to “the new covenant.”
Yet, even so, it is grace which underlies both Israel’s life under the Mosaic period as well as Adam under the original order. And both are taught to live sola fide, by faith alone. We know that this is the case in connection with the Mosaic covenant, not least because Paul is able to appeal to Habakkuk 2.4 to prove sola fide – which was written during the old (Mosaic) covenant period.
* I don’t want to be too quick to abandon a more strict Adam/Christ parallel. Essentially, the motivation for the CoW is to try to take the multiple parallels between Christ and Adam in Scripture — 1 Cor 15, Rom 5, 2 Cor 5, Rev 20, and the garden scenes in Gen 2-3 and the gospels — and give them full expression. So, it is reasoned, if Jesus recapitulates Adam’s life, then why *not* say that Jesus accomplished what Adam should have accomplished?
That’s a non-trivial argument to sweep aside, and I’m slow to do so.
* Similarly, if we grant that there was a demerit scheme in the garden, does that not require an implicit merit scheme as well? That is, if man’s natural state was to be in fellowship with God … does anyone want more reward than this? … and Adam’s choice caused a loss of such state, then would not the opposite choice have ‘accomplished’ maintaining fellowship with God? And further, is that not what Jesus’ merit accomplishes for us?
So it seems at least plausible that we could say that Adam could/should have merited in the sense of “failing to demerit.”
* The whole reading of Adam’s covenant in terms of “maturity” and “inheritance” vs. “righteousness” and “reward” strikes me at this point as highly speculative. I may be prejudiced by the fact that I first read of this in Jordan’s article in “The Federal Vision”, which was quite speculative indeed. Nevertheless, I think we cut loose from sound Biblical moorings when we debate “righteous” v. “mature.”
However, that last criticism does not strike at vital points in Gallant’s article. I would like to see the conversation move towards more development of Third Way solutions like Gallant’s.
Jim, thanks for that link. It’s a great resource…of course, the word that Turretin uses is “gratuita,” so that doesn’t help a whole lot. Has anyone got Muller’s dictionary of Latin & Greek theological terms? If so, does it have “gratuita” in it?
Jeff C., my pleasure. I haven’t thought through Gallant’s essay in detail, but I did find it helpfully fresh in its approach. Glad you benefited from that. I read it early on, so I figured that his distinction between necessity and cause was part and parcel of the FV understanding. That’s why Tim Wilder’s comment on another thread surprised me somewhat, because I knew I’d read an FV guy who was very clear about that distinction. I guess even those friendly to the FV shouldn’t lump them all together!
Has anyone got Muller’s dictionary of Latin & Greek theological terms? If so, does it have “gratuita” in it?
Grātŭīta is an inflected form the of the adjective grātŭītus, which means “done without pay, not for reward, free, spontaneous, voluntary, gratuitous” (cf. the entry in Charlton T. Lewis, An Elementary Latin Dictionary). There is no separate entry for it in Muller. You can get a morphological analysis of the form here, and more extended lexical information here.
Mister Keistner, you and your friends Gadbois and Webb are in need of repentance. You are sinning, and you have brought your churches and your movement into disrepute, and you have perverted the doctrine of justification.
1. You are guilty of hypocrisy. You are claiming to be defending your confessions, but you are selective in the same. You are all semi-baptists, and you are all out of conformity on the subject of the sacraments. Have you declared your exceptions on the sacraments to your presbyteries? No, you have not. And yet you have the brass neck call the FV heretics. Shame.
2. You are heretics. Not the heretic-lite that you ascribe to the FV, but the full-fat version. You claim to be defending justification, but you deny the efficacy of the sacraments in the matter of remitting sin. That has been more than clearly demonstrated on this site.
This is the charge: you have departed from the Reformation and your beloved confessions in denying that baptism is for the remission of sin (justification). You are guilty of perverting the very doctrine that you are claiming to defend. You are not sola fidists, and you are un-Reformed on this central plank.
I am not interested in debating with you. That has been done to death already.
Joshua, a man who refuses to defend himself against a charge of heresy places himself under grave suspicion. When his friends refuse to defend him, it brings their friendship into question, as well as their opinion of his views. Taking the fifth is not really an option amongst Christians.
Curate, I would count myself as a friendly acquaintance of yours. I would urge you to reconsider.
Sean asked me over in the other thread why I wasn’t willing to call Tim Prussic an Arminian. I wasn’t going to answer, but it’s time for me to put some cards on the table.
Here’s why I haven’t saddled Tim with that label, and also why I think you’ve gone beyond warrant in your charges:
(1) Concern for strict accuracy and factuality. Regardless of the fact that Tim uses the term “synergy”, he plainly demonstrates that he doesn’t have an Arminian model of salvation in mind.
That doesn’t mean I like everything he says, and it doesn’t mean that I’m not concerned about Arminian-like tendencies in the way he says it. It just means that the fact is, he’s not an Arminian.
Likewise, Curate, while you might be concerned about perceived baptistic tendencies in the sacramentology of Lane and David and others, the fact remains that David has demonstrated his good-faith subscription to the 3FU, and I’m sure that Lane could do the same with WCoF.
It’s just not factual to say that either one has departed from their respective confessions when both have affirmed them.
You *could* say that, in your opinion, the views they express are inconsistent with your understanding of the Confession. In which case, that could launch a possibly fruitful discussion. But saying that they don’t believe what they say they believe can only end in shouting. Has ended in shouting, at this point.
It’s likewise with Tim; despite my dispute with him, I recognize that he’s affirming confessional bounds even as he attempts to use non-standard language to describe something about the nature of faith.
(2) The reality of the charge. Curate, you have alleged that Lane and David are hypocrites and heretics. Both of those are chargeable offenses under BCO 29-3 and 34-5 (and the analogous constitutional document for David). If you really believe your charges to be valid, you need to formally make them to Lane’s presbytery. Or else, don’t make them.
The Internet is virtual, but the people behind the keyboards are real; if Lane is “industriously spreading” a genuine heresy (rather than a “weakness of the human understanding” — or expression), then do something about it. But if “heresy” is simply a rhetorical point, then reconsider your rhetoric.
The same applies to Tim. If I thought that I really had enough information to believe that he is Arminian, I think I would need to consider pressing charges (assuming he’s an elder — he’s not listed as such on his church’s website).
That’s how real it is, gentlemen, to throw these labels around.
(3) Lack of knowledge Let’s face it; the Internet is a terrible way to assess what somewhat really believes. I have a slogan that I learned the hard way at work: “The best way to start a fight is to send an e-mail.” Flatness of tone, lack of correlation and cross-examination, the difficulty of asking clarifying questions … all these make for a situation where we are flying “by the instruments” in a fog.
For that reason, I would almost never consider these ‘net discussions to be a sufficient basis for making a charge.
These discussions can be useful for tapping into the best arguments for and against positions; they are worthless for divining what Alice or Bob actually believes.
(4) The difficulty of assessing positions in a polemic situation The fact that David, especially, has argued against your particular understanding of baptism does *not* mean that he believes everything opposite to your beliefs. It just means that there’s disagreement somewhere.
Please, Roger, leave the rage behind and rejoin the discussion.
Roger, there is nothing personal here. Therefore, I don’t know why you are so furious as to go far, far, far beyond what any other FV’er has said concerning me (the only exception has retracted what he said, and I will let it lie). But if you do not heed Jeff’s excellent wisdom, then you will be banned from this blog.
I’m actually a Latin teacher, so I was pretty familiar with the morphology and classical meaning of that term. Thanks anyway. I was just wondering whether that term was more technical in 17th century theology or even earlier scholasticism…
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens; Justification, by John Fesko; The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan; Recovering the Reformed Confessions, by Scott Clark; Brief Outline of Theology, by Friedrich Schleiermacher; Principles of Sacred Theology, by Abraham Kuyper
Books I am now reading
Exodus commentaries; Matthew commentaries; Turretin's Institutes of Elenctic Theology; Baker's new history of the church
Books for future reading
Turretin's Institutes; Joseph Caryl on Job, German encyclopedias of theology