A Faith That Is Never Alone, chapter 1, part 2

Going on with page 31ff in Armstrong’s article. (part 1 here).

Hywel Jones argues that the good news of the Gospel lies at the point where justification and sanctification are distinguished (CJPM, pg. 285). Armstrong’s comment is as follows:

Let’s be clear about this- we who are critiqued do not question that there is a distinction between these two doctrines but we differ about the ways this distinction has been made and how the Scripture has bee used by some to make this distinction (pg. 31. emphasis original).

He argues (pg. 32) that the distinction as made by CJPM authors leads us to “cheap grace” (as defined by Dietrich Bonhoeffer). With regard to the relationship of James 2 to Paul, for instance, Armstrong takes issue with Jones’s critique of Moo (who argues that “justify” means the same thing in Paul and James, contrary to most Reformed interpretations). Armstrong’s critique is based on charging Jones with adhering to the reified categories of Protestant responses to Catholic interpretation in the time of the Reformation (pg. 34). This leads Armstrong to some very questionable conclusions. First, he says “The danger of a faith rooted in historic confessions, without doing fresh and charitable exegesis and biblical theology, is a real danger for all of those who wrote for this present volume of essays” (pg. 34, emphasis original: he is referring to CJPM, not A Faith That Is Never Alone). Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is quite a bit of fresh and charitable exegesis in CJPM. I think especially of Duguid’s essay, which is an exegetical tour de force. However, I notice that the word “charitable” just had to be there. Disagreement (and especially sharp disagreement) seems to be an anathema to Armstrong, unless you agree with Armstrong against the reifying WSC authors. Then you can be as uncharitable as you want. Of course, I actually agree with Armstrong that there should be charitable exegesis. The problem is that Armstrong has probably defined “charitable” so narrowly as not to include sharp disagreement. Is it charitable for orthodox scholars not to challenge heresy?

This next statement is equally problematic: “It is also a danger for those of us who respond to their volume. We are not denying a place for confessional subscription but we think that place must always self-consciously remain under the Bible’s authority” (ibid.). This seems to carry the implicit claim that the WSC authors have not forced the Westminster Standards to be in submission to Scriptures, but have elevated the confessions above Scripture. This is a common claim for those folk who do not agree that we can view Scripture through the eyes of the confession as our own free choice (after all, we could easily be in a different denomination that did not choose to do so, like the RCA, for instance). Oh no, it is absolutely impossible for anyone to say that he views the confessions to contain the system of doctrine that is in Scripture, and yet still believe that the confession is the normed norm, while Scripture is the norming norm. That is a contradiction in terms, if you ask many people today.

Armstrong proves Jones’s point on pg. 36, where I will quote Armstrong in full, so that the full problem may be seen:

I have argued, for some years now, that the gospel calls us to a living and vital faith in Christ alone. I have frurther argued that we are justified by trusting in Christ alone. We are made right with God, thus declared not guilty in the present time and completely forgiven of all sin, through the instrumentality of this God-given faith. Our faith does not save, Christ alone saves! What I have also argued is that saving faith is, by its very nature, obediential. Here is the rub for me: What is saving faith? Inherent in real faith, properly defined, is a something that does more than passively trust in Christ to save me. Saving faith has in it an active principle that trusts and obeys, thus I see no real conflicts between James and Paul. I do not think we need to make various special appeals to two kinds of faith. Indeed, I believe that the right way to read these two great teachers of the gospel will make them harmonize in such a way that the non-technical reader can see the arguments I make very clearly. Emphases original.

Armstrong has conflated the discussion of justification and the discussion of sanctification here. Several points are necessary. First of all, justifying faith does not justify because it is alive, even though justifying faith is most certainly alive. To say that CJPM says anything different is a complete caricature. This is Hywel Jones’s point on pg. 292 with regard to Shepherd: “By using ‘living and obedient faith’ (or being faithful) as a working definition of faith, Shepherd prevents any distinction between (sic) made between faith and works in relation to justification, and that failure impacts justification adversely.” Jones says further, in direct contradiction to Armstrong’s understanding of him, “The whole of the Christian life is indeed one of ‘trusting and obeying,’ but that does not mean that the term faith means both whenever it is used” (pg. 293, italics original). Jones is explicitly not talking about two kinds of faith, as Armstrong says he is. He is talking about two aspects of saving faith that must be distinguished very carefully. Jones would say that the passive, receptive character is what applies to justification, and the active aspect applies to sanctification. The problem here is that whenever such language is used, we are immediately charged with believing that a dead faith justifies. I have yet to see any critic of the FV or the NPP say this. And yet, it is thrown our way regularly, simply because we do not believe that faith’s aliveness applies to justification. The two aspects of faith are distinguished, yet never separable, just as justification and sanctification are distinct, yet never separable. More to come.

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95 Comments

  1. Ronnie said,

    February 18, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    A living faith is not mutually exclusive from faith being passive in justification.

    An obedient faith is not mutually exclusive from a faith that is passive in justification. Faith is obedient in that it trusts and receives as commanded.

    It seems by both “living” and “obedience” the FV means “doing works of obedience” and this is why Dr. Armstrong can say Paul and James are talking about justification in the same way, however it is clear that Paul is excluding all works from justification. I don’t know why anyone would fall for this stuff as if these guys have some great insight. You hear rationale like this from Roman Catholics all day over the internet.

  2. Ron Smith said,

    February 18, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    who argues that “justify” means the same thing in Paul and James, contrary to most Reformed interpretations

    And what interpretations are those? The WCF alludes to James in chapter XI on Justification (“and is no dead faith”) and cites James 2 as scripture proof, so you must not be talking about that particular reformed interpretation.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    February 18, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Ron, that section does not even remotely prove that the WCF holds the term “justify” to be the same in James as it is in Paul. That section proves that the faith that justifies is no dead faith. I’m not sure how you’re even arguing here.

  4. Ron Smith said,

    February 18, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    “By using ‘living and obedient faith’ (or being faithful) as a working definition of faith, Shepherd prevents any distinction between (sic) made between faith and works in relation to justification, and that failure impacts justification adversely.”

    But this is exactly what James and Paul did and this is what the confession did in Chapter XI on Justification. Right there in the defining of justifying faith, they included works. *gasps* Were they impacting justification adversely?

    Not emphasizing the obedient nature of justifying faith – now that impacts Justification adversely as we can see with the easy believism of our day. I mean really, is the Church’s problem that we are trying too hard to obey God in an effort to merit righteousness? Or is it that we are by and large lawless because we have been told we don’t really have to obey God’s Law because Jesus obeyed it in our place?

  5. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Ron
    Please see my response to Andy Sandlin under the preface to a Faith that is never alone.

  6. Sam Conner said,

    February 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I would think that to the extent that it is true that self-confessed believers are “lawless”, it is not because of the doctrine of the justification of the believer on the merits of the active and passive obedience of Christ, but because they still in significant measure love the world. There are loads of “easy-believers” in the broader Evangelical churches whose theology is too mushy to make such distinctions.

    My sense of the problem of disobedience in the churches is that we do not love the glory of God. If we did, we would want to live in ways that manifest that. The heart of obedience is ‘love.’ Where obedience is lacking, love must be lacking, I think.

  7. Ron Smith said,

    February 18, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Ron, that section does not even remotely prove that the WCF holds the term “justify” to be the same in James as it is in Paul.”

    You are right. They quoted and cited both Paul and James on Justification in the same sentence in the same chapter on Justification because they wanted to point out how different their usages of the word “justify” were. Wouldn’t James 2 be better referenced in the chapter on Sanctification?

  8. greenbaggins said,

    February 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Ron, James means a demonstrative use of the term “justify” and Paul means a declarative use of the term “justify.” James is therefore not talking about the act of God’s declaration, nor is he talking about sanctification. He is talking about how good works done by the believer will show to the world on judgment day that the Christian was actually justified in this life. You really need to read Anthony Burgess’s treatment of this (which can be obtained via EEBO), who was the primary author of this section of the WCF.

  9. February 18, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Ron,

    You write: “… is the Church’s problem that we are trying too hard to obey God in an effort to merit righteousness? Or is it that we are by and large lawless because we have been told we don’t really have to obey God’s Law because Jesus obeyed it in our place?”

    This, I think, is the crux of the issue. One side sees antinomians behind every tree, while the other understands the church’s greatest enemy to be legalism.

    Which, do you think, bothered Paul more?

  10. Bret McAtee said,

    February 18, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Faith shows itself living, active and working in justification when it rests in Christ for all.

    #9 — I think Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit was bothered by both

    Bothered by legalism — Galatians 3, Romans 4

    Bothered by anti-nomianism — Romans 6:1f, Gal. 5:19-21

  11. greenbaggins said,

    February 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    So, faith is a work? It would seem that this is what you are saying when you say that it is working. If so, then you are at odds with the Reformation tradition.

  12. February 18, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Bret,

    First, Paul did yell at the Corinthians, but he threatened to anathematize the Galatians.

    Secondly, you can’t call “resting in Christ” an example of “working” and claim to be Reformed without causing some major confusion.

  13. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Gee, it appears that Andy and Ron have run away from my inquisit.

  14. February 18, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Nice job, Lane.

    I wonder what our Federal Visionist brothers would say about this statement:

    James gives us a powerful and explicit explanation of true faith. He describes to us what is saving faith. There is no question that he wants us to demonstrate our faith before the world, but his primary purpose is to show us how faith and works put us in a right relationship with God. He uses analogies, examples, and then Old Testament figures to show us that faith and works can not be separated in any way at all. He shows us through Abraham, the father of faith, that obedience is necessary for salvation.

  15. February 18, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Bob, who’s the source of that? Or are you not ready to tip your hand just yet?

  16. Ron Smith said,

    February 18, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    James is therefore not talking about the act of God’s declaration…He is talking about how good works done by the believer will show to the world on judgment day that the Christian was actually justified in this life.

    This doesn’t speak at all to the issue at hand which is whether or not the confession pits James’ and Paul’s usages of the word “justify” against one another. But since you have made such an easily refuted statement, I can’t resist.

    James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works *when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar*? (emphasis mine)

    You say that James “is talking about how good works done by the believer will show to the world *on judgment day* that the Christian was actually justified in this life.” (emphasis mine) But aside from the fact that this idea is nowhere in the text, the text clearly places Abraham’s justification *back at a point in time when he obeyed*. And then James said that Abraham’s obedience *fulfilled* the scripture “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS”. James does not therefore separate faith and faithfulness. Abraham *obeyed*, and this obedience fulfilled the scripture which says, “Abraham *believed*…”

  17. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    >He uses analogies, examples, and then Old Testament figures to show us that faith and works can not be separated in any way at all.

    I don’t think I’ve ever met a reformed minister of any stripe who would have a problem with that. Some antinomian evangelicals perhaps…

  18. Ron Smith said,

    February 18, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Bob, you do realizing you are employing a logical fallacy, don’t you?

    Anyway, isn’t repentance a saving grace? If so, then it is as the brother said: “obedience is necessary for salvation”.

  19. February 18, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Ron,

    Would you follow Turretin in distinguishing salvation and justification, saying that works are necessary for the former, but never the latter?

  20. Roger Mann said,

    February 18, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    2: Ron wrote,

    “who argues that ‘justify’ means the same thing in Paul and James, contrary to most Reformed interpretations.”

    And what interpretations are those?

    How about John Calvin’s interpretation, Ron? Is that “Reformed” enough for you?

    Was not Abraham. The Sophists lay hold on the word justified, and then they cry out as being victorious, that justification is partly by works. But we ought to seek out a right interpretation according to the general drift of the whole passage. We have already said that James does not speak here of the cause of justification, or of the manner how men obtain righteousness, and this is plain to every one; but that his object was only to shew that good works are always connected with faith; and, therefore, since he declares that Abraham was justified by works, he is speaking of the proof he gave of his justification.

    When, therefore, the Sophists set up James against Paul, they go astray through the ambiguous meaning of a term. When Paul says that we are justified by faith, he means no other thing than that by faith we are counted righteous before God. But James has quite another thing in view, even to shew that he who professes that he has faith, must prove the reality of his faith by his works. Doubtless James did not mean to teach us here the ground on which our hope of salvation ought to rest; and it is this alone that Paul dwells upon.

    That we may not then fall into that false reasoning which has deceived the Sophists, we must take notice of the two fold meaning, of the word justified. Paul means by it the gratuitous imputation of righteousness before the tribunal of God; and James, the manifestation of righteousness by the conduct, and that before men, as we may gather from the preceding words, “Shew to me thy faith,” etc. In this sense we fully allow that man is justified by works, as when any one says that a man is enriched by the purchase of a large and valuable chest, because his riches, before hid, shut up in a chest, were thus made known.

    Thus, Ron, John Calvin would have railed against you as being a “Sophist,” who perverts Scripture in an attempt to destroy the doctrine of justification by faith alone — apart from works of any kind. Of course, you would be in good company, for he would have condemned the entire FV movement for the same thing.

  21. Roger Mann said,

    February 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    17: David wrote,

    >He uses analogies, examples, and then Old Testament figures to show us that faith and works can not be separated in any way at all.
    I don’t think I’ve ever met a reformed minister of any stripe who would have a problem with that. Some antinomian evangelicals perhaps…

    You must be hanging out with too many FVist “reformed ministers” then! In the crucial matter of justification before God, faith and works are most definitely separated. Did you happen to miss these passages of Scripture?

    “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from deeds of the law” — Romans 3:28

    “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” — Romans 4:5

    “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” — Galatians 2:16

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” — Ephesians 2:8-9

  22. February 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    The quote in #14 was the first half of the concluding paragraph on James 2:14-26. Here’s the whole paragraph so that the context remains clear. I’ll add emphasis as appropriate:

    James gives us a powerful and explicit explanation of true faith. He describes to us what is saving faith. There is no question that he wants us to demonstrate our faith before the world, but his primary purpose is to show us how faith and works put us in a right relationship with God. He uses analogies, examples, and then Old Testament figures to show us that faith and works can not be separated in any way at all. He shows us through Abraham, the father of faith, that obedience is necessary for salvation. Justification is shown through these examples to be a lifetime process, not merely a one time event. Abraham seemed to have no hope at all of having a first-born son. He is given a son and an impossible demand is placed on him to offer his only son. He believed that God would provide and God was faithful. James also shows us how even a harlot woman can be changed to someone who would risk life, possessions, and all for God. James also clearly shows us that the material principle of the Reformation, sola fide is false.

    Now would anyone like to say that a reformed minister of any stripe would adhere to this? To answer Pastor Stellman in #15, I found this quote on a Roman Catholic apologetics site while searching for something else. I just had this feeling that FVers would bite on it but non-FVers would not. That’s exactly how it broke out here, though I’m not a prophet or the son of a prophet. Now, I realize that this wasn’t a scientific poll, but can anyone say they don’t see a problem here?

  23. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Bob
    you do know that the Calvinists at Dort and the English puritans saw Arminianism as pathing the path to Rome.

  24. February 18, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Gary,

    Who me??? :-)

  25. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Silly me. I guess I’d better stop reading James.

    Faith without works is dead. Faith justifies, works do not. But God tells me saving faith does not exist without works. I guess I’ll believe Him.

  26. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    >I just had this feeling that FVers would bite on it but non-FVers would not.

    BTW, that is indicative of the sickness at work in the PCA. Anyone who has a problem with the way the PCA is conducting itself becomes a fervent FV advocate.

  27. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    DG
    You could perhaps read James the same way Calvin did-that might help.

  28. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    >You could perhaps read James the same way Calvin did-that might help.

    Pastor Johnson,

    I know Luther thought about excising James from the canon. Calvin did not. I stated:

    “Faith without works is dead. Faith justifies, works do not. But God tells me saving faith does not exist without works. I guess I’ll believe Him.”

    How would Calvin differ with that?

  29. Ron Smith said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    RE: 20 – Roger, Calvin is not defining “justify” differently between Paul and James, in fact he calls the Sophists those who “set up James against Paul”. How is this not what one is doing when he says that Paul and James define justification differently? He is refuting those who used James 2 to say “that justification is partly by works”. But that is not what is being said by the FV. One is justified by faith alone and the nature of that faith is that it is a living, active, and obedient faith. This is what James means when he says one is justified by works, not by faith alone.

  30. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    DG
    Please consult the comments of Roger Mann- he has addressed that.

  31. Ron Smith said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    RE: 22 Guilt by association is a logical fallacy. And I never got a reply, Elder Mattes, as to whether or not repentance is a saving grace.

  32. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    >Please consult the comments of Roger Mann- he has addressed that.

    Actually he doesn’t even come close. But I don’t blame you for ducking the question. That is a better move than giving a bad answer.

  33. February 18, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    David, RE #26,

    That was not my implication at all. I do not and cannot know your heart. However, I get around the blogs pretty regularly and although I have seen you defend DW and other FVers, I’ve never seen you take an FVer to task. Maybe I just missed it. I have, however, seen you take many orthodox Reformed men to task. I can only go by what I see in this case.

  34. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    >although I have seen you defend DW and other FVers, I’ve never seen you take an FVer to task

    Oddly enough I stuck up for you on Pastor Wilson’s blog after you told me you’d consulted the JAG in your object lesson story. Admittedly you are not a minister but go figure…

  35. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    DG
    Actually he quoted Calvin on that very point. Wait a minute, you maybe thinking of the Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes! Your right, Roger didn’t quote him.

  36. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    >Actually he quoted Calvin on that very point.

    His response to me included no Calvin quotes.

  37. February 18, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Ron, RE #31,

    That was not guilt by association, but a judgment based on how a specific theological question was answered.

    As for an answer to your question on repentance, I recommend WCF 15.1:

    Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.

    Together with 15.3:

    Although repentance be not to be rested in as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ; yet is it of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.

  38. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    But you do well to bring up Hobbes as life around here threatens to become nasty, brutish and short…

  39. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    DG
    My apologies, Roger was responding to Ron-cf.#20

  40. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Pastor Johnson,

    I just reviewed post #20. I don’t see any conflict between what Calvin wrote and my statement:

    “Faith without works is dead. Faith justifies, works do not. But God tells me saving faith does not exist without works. I guess I’ll believe Him.”

    He says exactly that. He says a good deal more as well but nothing contradicting that. If I’m missing something please show me.

  41. February 18, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    David, RE #34,

    Oddly enough I stuck up for you on Pastor Wilson’s blog after you told me you’d consulted the JAG in your object lesson story.

    That’s a blog with which I don’t generally bother. I appreciate your trying to clear the air on that issue there, though.

    My whole point was to put an FV-sounding quote up that actually came from an RCC site and see who bit. The quote literally fell into my lap while looking for something else. I’ve seen Lusk write and Meyers defend statements essentially identical to that in #14, so I thought it would be interesting to see who bit here. You can take it from there if you like.

    Let me close by saying that it was not my intent to insult you in any way. If you took it that way, then I apologize.

  42. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    DG
    If that Flu-ridden Roger Mann can get out of bed I would refer your comment to him.

  43. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    >Let me close by saying that it was not my intent to insult you in any way. If you took it that way, then I apologize.

    Thank you. Everyone, but particularly those vested with authority in the church, need to assume less in my opinion.

  44. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    DG
    Perhaps you could rescind #38

  45. Bret McAtee said,

    February 18, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    The question is ‘What is faith to do in justification.’

    The answer is that it is ‘to look away and rest completely in Christ’

    As faith rests in justification then it does what it is supposed to do.

    When something does what it is supposed to do you call that its proper work. Faith does its proper work when it does not work and rests in Christ for all.

  46. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Fair enough, no. 38 is rescinded.

  47. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    DG
    Thank you . Now if you could sent a get well soon note to Roger Mann…..

  48. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    >Now if you could sent a get well soon note to Roger Mann…..

    I hope I didn’t make him sick…

  49. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    DG
    Nope, Roger has yet to claim his healing. Maybe you could direct him to one o Benny Hinn’s crusades ?

  50. February 18, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    [...] Lane has continued his review of A Faith That is Never Alone and has just posted a strong post dealing with Armstrong’s criticism of Hywel Jones’ contributions to Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry.Give it a read over on Greenbaggins when you have the chance.  Keep up the good work, Lane! [...]

  51. David Gray said,

    February 18, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    >Maybe you could direct him to one o Benny Hinn’s crusades ?

    Okay, now that is genuinely cruel…

    And an attempt at humour, I hope…

  52. GLW Johnson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    DG
    Poor taste on my part. Roger will probably never speak to me.I have enough on my plate without getting the Word of Faith on my case.Too late- I ripped them in my chapter in the book I co-edited with Guy Waters.

  53. Bret McAtee said,

    February 18, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    #12

    First, Paul did yell at the Corinthians, but he threatened to anathematize the Galatians.

    I think you need to re-read Galatians for when he gets to the issue of anti-nomian behavior in the context of writing to the Galatian Church he says, “that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”

    Sounds like Practicing anti-nomianism is likewise anathamatized.

    Bret

  54. Roger Mann said,

    February 18, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    29: Ron wrote,

    Roger, Calvin is not defining “justify” differently between Paul and James, in fact he calls the Sophists those who “set up James against Paul”. How is this not what one is doing when he says that Paul and James define justification differently?

    Ron, you either cannot comprehend basic English or you are a liar. You’ll have to tell us which one. Here’s the relevant portions of the Calvin quote once again for those FVists with eyes to see:

    When, therefore, the Sophists set up James against Paul, they go astray through the ambiguous meaning of a term. When Paul says that we are justified by faith, he means no other thing than that by faith we are counted righteous before God. But James has quite another thing in view, even to shew that he who professes that he has faith, must prove the reality of his faith by his works… That we may not then fall into that false reasoning which has deceived the Sophists, we must take notice of the two fold meaning, of the word justified. Paul means by it the gratuitous imputation of righteousness before the tribunal of God; and James, the manifestation of righteousness by the conduct, and that before men, as we may gather from the preceding words, “Shew to me thy faith,” etc.

  55. Roger Mann said,

    February 18, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    49: GLW Johnson wrote,

    Roger has yet to claim his healing. Maybe you could direct him to one o Benny Hinn’s crusades?

    Just as long as Benny doesn’t “blow” on me, I’ll be fine! :-) By the way, I’m slowly getting better, thank God.

  56. GLW Johnson said,

    February 19, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Roger
    I always fine your comments insightful and to the point-but tone down the inflamatory rhetoric. For example in your response to ton Ron-#54- you could have said something like,”Ron, either you can’t comprehend basic English or….you are having difficulty coming to grips with the obvious”. If you wanted to be a bit more forceful and a tad sacastic you could take a line from the movie ‘Cool Hand Luke’ and add ‘What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Anything but ‘liar’-that is below the belt .

  57. Roger Mann said,

    February 19, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Gary,

    I appreciate the advice, but I don’t agree with your assessment of my commenst. I wasn’t trying to be “inflammatory” but rather truthful. The quotation from Calvin was quite clear and straightforward, yet Ron responded by saying:

    Roger, Calvin is not defining “justify” differently between Paul and James…

    If Ron is incapable of grasping what Calvin is saying, then he has a comprehension problem. If he does in fact understand what Calvin is saying, then he has problem telling the truth about it. That’s the way I see it. I honestly don’t see “you are having difficulty coming to grips with the obvious” as being a valid option. Sorry, I just don’t see it. He either understands the Calvin quote or he doesn’t. I’m not sure which one it is, and that’s why I said he would have to let us know. I’m hoping it’s the former and he’ll simply reconsider and correct his original comments.

  58. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 19, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Re 14, 22, & 41

    Bob, I don’t actually see any FV defenders on this thread interacting with that quote at all, so I don’t see how that little test of yours had any impact at all, let alone confirming your hypothesis, as you seem to think. No one “bit,” FV or otherwise…

    Until now. In regards to the first, modified quote you posted, provided certain terms are properly qualified, there actually are not that many problems.

    “James gives us a powerful and explicit explanation of true faith. He describes to us what is saving faith.”

    Um, yes. What are the problems here?

    “There is no question that he wants us to demonstrate our faith before the world, but his primary purpose is to show us how faith and works put us in a right relationship with God.”

    Okay, this is problematic–what does “put in a right relationship” mean? If it means “justify,” then it is clearly wrong. Does it refer to the enjoyment of our relationship with God? Then, in some sense, yes–disobedience, while it does not remove election, can remove the enjoyment of God for a time.

    “He uses analogies, examples, and then Old Testament figures to show us that faith and works can not be separated in any way at all.”

    I would again agree, and say that I am with the tradition here. In reality, faith and works always go together–WCF 11.2 states this directly. But, that does not mean that they do the same thing, or that they are added together in justification. The second, fuller quote demonstrates that error.

    “He shows us through Abraham, the father of faith, that obedience is necessary for salvation.”

    Again, yep. See Jason Stellman’s comment that works were necessary for sanctification, and he has elsewhere stated that good works are necessary for salvation (distinguished from justification). (And I would still say, Jason, that works are necessary for justification–with a *consequent* necessity.)

    So, the quote as you initially presented it has only one problematic sentence. Now, once you add the missing elements in comment 22, that changes things considerably; but the initial quote in 14, that was supposed to be such great bait for the FVers (but wasn’t), can actually express Reformed doctrine overall.

  59. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 19, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    So here’s an interesting question, Joshua: can we construct a reasonably sound inductive slippery-slope argument that the premise (1) “faith and works cannot be separated in any way” will usually lead to (2) “James also clearly shows us that the material principle of the Reformation, sola fide is false.”?

    That is, if teacher Bob teaches (1) often enough, is it reasonable to conclude one of

    (a) Bob will end up teaching (2) eventually,
    (b) his hearers will conclude (2) anyways, or
    (c) his disciples will end up teaching (2)?

    I think that’s the spirit of Bob Mattes’ test.

    Let me propose a tentative slippery-slope mechanism for (c). Suppose that teacher Bob teaches both “faith and works cannot be separated in any way” and also that “we are justified by faith alone.” Let’s imagine, for the sake of argument, that he means it in the same sense that you and I have agreed to: that faith looks like faithfulness from the outside, but internally always involves receiving the promises of God; that is, faith is always receptive.

    In his determination not to separate faith and works, however, he refuses to teach our distinction, lest anyone slide into antinomianism. Instead, he always and consistently teaches that “faith is faithfulness.” We’ll call this the Shepherd point. At this point, Bob dies at a ripe old age and spends eternity with Christ.

    His hearers, now, begin to put the two statements together: “faith is faithfulness” and “we are justified through faith alone.” They then reason that James’ statement “we see that Abraham was justified by works” means literally that. Because they ‘know’ that faith means faithfulness, they have no obstacle to seeing the phrase “justified by works” to point in the direction of a positive role that our works play in making us righteous before God.

    They might articulate this as “faith and works provide a dual instrumentality of justification.” We can call this the Lusk point.

    Now into the third phase of evolution, the hearers begin to reason that since faith and works cannot be separated, and since works are an instrument of justification, then Paul’s statements in Rom. 3-4 cannot possibly be saying “we cannot be justified by obedience to the moral law” — of course we are! they reason — Paul must be saying something like “we are not justified by works performed for wages.” We of course are justified by works performed out of proper motives. Love, perhaps.

    We can call this point the Sungenis point after the famous RC apologist.

    I don’t think Shepherd or Lusk *are* at the Sungenis point. But I could easily imagine that it requires a whole lot of shoring up and qualification to keep their hearers from going there.

    What do you think? Is this a plausible mechanism? Or, are there more safeguards in their theology of justification that I’m not giving proper dues to?

    Jeff Cagle

  60. February 20, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Jeff,

    A fine argument with real feet.

    The fact is that faith and works ARE separated at justification as Paul makes abundantly clear. Faith is required for justification, my works are less than irrelevant for justification because I’m justified once and for all by Christ’s righteousness. My Spirit-enabled works are then an inevitable product and demonstration of my justification before men, but they have nothing to do whatsoever with my justification before God. So contrary to “faith and works put us in a right relationship with God”, faith alone puts us in a right relationship with God and my Spirit-enabled works then demonstrate the reality of that relationship to those around me. That’s what I believe that Calvin meant by “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is never alone.” That’s how he wrote about it.

  61. Roger Mann said,

    February 20, 2008 at 11:13 am

    60: Bob wrote,

    The fact is that faith and works ARE separated at justification as Paul makes abundantly clear… So contrary to “faith and works put us in a right relationship with God”, faith alone puts us in a right relationship with God and my Spirit-enabled works then demonstrate the reality of that relationship to those around me. That’s what I believe that Calvin meant by “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is never alone.” That’s how he wrote about it.

    Amen! Not only is that what Calvin meant (and Scripture teaches), but it’s also what the Confession means when it says:

    Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. — WCF 11.2

  62. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 20, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Jeff,

    “They might articulate this as “faith and works provide a dual instrumentality of justification.” We can call this the Lusk point.”

    Okay, but only if you say “final justification,” since Lusk clearly and repeatedly qualifies his faith and works statements in that way. He is not referring to the current status, but rather to the verdict that will be passed at the final judgment, which will, according to Scripture and tradition, have *something* to do with works.

    As for the rest, I’ll grant a degree of plausibility to the slippery slope as you’ve laid it out. Are there more safeguards in the FV theology that prevent it being a short layover on the way to Rome? I think so. Their opposition to merit should put the “treasury of merit” idea well out of play for them; they do not view “justification” as transformative, but rather as judicial (along with Wright), which puts them in entirely a different category from Trent; they reject the intercession of Mary and the saints which is so central to Roman righteousness. So, I’ve never found the “FV leads to Rome” argument convincing (even from those who have made the journey–I commented on what’s-his-name’s website to this effect). It only leads there if you’re not paying any attention at all, or if you have substantially the same view of justification that ECT II had (which ludicrously treated the question of Mary and the saints and purgatory as unrelated to justification).

    As for 60 & 61, both contain comments that seem to me to fit very well with a certain understanding of “faith and works cannot be separated in any way.” Notice that Bob said that works were the inevitable result of justification–that is, they are *consequently* necessary from justification, and thus those two things, faith and works, do not occur separately. And Roger quoted the very same portion of the confession that I referred to: notice that the confession say flat out that faith is not alone, but is always accompanied with the other saving graces–against, faith is not separate from works. I suppose the problematic phrase is “in any way,” if that phrase is understood functionally. I suppose I have a fairly specific definition of “separated” though, that I am applying here. Just because two things are not separated does not mean that they are mixed (e.g., the two natures of Christ) or that they are not *distinguished*. So I would say that faith and works cannot be separated, but they can be distinguished and should not be mixed. The quacking and walking cannot be separated if the duck is to live, but that doesn’t mean that the quacking makes it go.

    My point was that I could agree with the supposedly tell-tale quote from #14 without departing at all from confessional orthodoxy, depending upon how I understood the terms.

  63. Roger Mann said,

    February 20, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    62: Joshua wrote,

    [Lusk] is not referring to the current status [of justification], but rather to the verdict that will be passed at the final judgment, which will, according to Scripture and tradition, have *something* to do with works.

    Where does either Scripture or the Westminster Standards teach that faith and works “provide a dual instrumentality of justification” (a la Lusk) in the final judgment? And how can anyone square such a teaching with crystal clear statements to the contrary?

    “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification” (WCF 11.2).

    “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom. 3:28)

    As Bob quite correctly pointed out, “my works are less than irrelevant for justification because I’m justified once and for all by Christ’s righteousness” (#60).

    As for 60 & 61, both contain comments that seem to me to fit very well with a certain understanding of “faith and works cannot be separated in any way.” Notice that Bob said that works were the inevitable result of justification–that is, they are *consequently* necessary from justification, and thus those two things, faith and works, do not occur separately.

    The phrase “faith and works cannot be separated in any way” (#14) was in the context of “saving faith” and “how faith and works put us in a right relationship with God.” And, of course, Bob’s comments in post #60 were saying the exact opposite, so I’m not sure what you are talking about:

    “The fact is that faith and works ARE separated at justification as Paul makes abundantly clear… So contrary to “faith and works put us in a right relationship with God”, faith alone puts us in a right relationship with God.”

    My quotation from WCF 11.2 in post #61 demonstrated precisely the same thing — that faith is the “alone instrument of justification.” So, once again, I’m not sure what you are talking about.

    And saying that works are “consequently” necessary for justification simply means that good works are the “result of” justification and genuine faith — which means that faith and works do in fact “occur separately” in time relative to justification. It does not mean that “faith and works put us in a right relationship with God,” as the original quote from Bob was teaching (#14). That is what the author of the quote meant when he said “faith and works cannot be separated in any way.”

  64. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 20, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Joshua (#62):

    Thanks for the response. I agree that the rejection of merit is an additional safeguard. However, I think the “transformative” view of justification might not be, in that once we accept “faith = faithfulness”, it becomes natural to merge obedience into justification.

    That is, just as “we are justified by faith alone” might be transformed in my scenario into “justified by faith + works”, so also “justification is forensic only” might easily be transformed into “justification is both forensic and transformative.”

    The lack of prayers to saints is irrelevant; many Catholics (my relatives!) are “Jesus only” Catholics.

    Now,

    Okay, but only if you say “final justification,” since Lusk clearly and repeatedly qualifies his faith and works statements in that way. He is not referring to the current status, but rather to the verdict that will be passed at the final judgment, which will, according to Scripture and tradition, have *something* to do with works.

    It’s not so easy. Rich also posits “subsequent justifications.” He never gave me an answer as to what that might mean.

    The usual reformed reading (I think!) of final judgment is a public declaration of the verdict already passed. Rich attributes justification to Abraham’s works in James 2 — but he clearly states that this is forensic and *not* a justification of one’s justification.

    Frankly, it was rather muddled.

    But anyways, I agree entirely that our final judgment will involve our works; I’m just not 100% confident that Rich means what you mean by it.

    It would be interesting and probably impossible to trace the early development of beliefs about justification. I was wondering when I was thinking about #59 whether the historical development was along similar lines.

    Jeff Cagle

  65. Tom Wenger said,

    February 20, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Josh,

    The reason that your qualification about Lusk’s language being about the end and not the present doesn’t help is that according to Paul and the Reformed tradition, our present declaration of justification IS THE FINAL DECLARATION received in advance.

    And the fact that Lusk says that our current justified status must be “maintained” by obedience shows that there is clear synergism in his formula.

    Why not simply disagree with Lusk? Why do you think that he offers something so valuable to Reformed theology that all of his dross must be salvaged?

    He offers nothing but confusion and solutions to problems that don’t exist.

  66. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 21, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Re: #63

    This is the reason why I quit reading Waters’ book–a refusal to understand what an author means by the terms he uses. Is Lusk’s use of the term “justification” to refer to the final judgment confusing? Yes. Does it constitute a teaching error because of its confusion? Very possibly. Does it mean that he denies what the confession says about justification proper (i.e., the current status)? Not necessarily. To keep quoting the confession on justification does not constitute *direct* refutation of Lusk’s idea, since he is not talking about the concept conveyed in WCF 11, but about the one conveyed in WCF 33. Jeff’s indirect arguments are one thing, but to simply keep slapping down WCF 11 when he is talking about WCF 33 in different terms (which I have always disagreed with) is not on point.

    As for my response to 60 & 61, my point was that one could take the quote from #14 in a way that was orthodox, albeit less than clear. I already pointed out that “put in a right relationship with God” can be taken in the orthodox sense of “enjoy the benefits of the relationship with God”–if one supposes that the speaker is simply being unclear, which is, oddly enough, the judgment of charity. As Howard Davis said on another thread, if a lack of clarity was all it took to bring charges, a lot of REs would be on trial. So, when simply presented with an out-of-context block quote, should I say–“See, obviously heretical!” Or should I say–” Well, I could see how this is Reformed and orthodox–if the terms are properly clarified.” I prefer the latter, and I was simply trying to present a defeater to Bob’s triumphalist proclamation that agreement with this quote put one entirely out-of-bounds. And that was only on #14–with the full quote he gave in #22, the terms are clarified in their context to give a clearly non-Reformed answer.

    I quoted WCF 11.2 to point out that the confession in fact says that justification and works are never separate, with respect to the person. I also explained the difference between a separation and a distinction, going on to point out that just because two things are not separated does not mean that they are mixed or interchangeable. So, I would still say that faith and obedience are never separate, even in justification (taking WCF 11.2 to mean that even in justification the faith is not without the other saving graces, like repentance), but that obedience in no way contributes to the justification. I’ll say it again: just because a duck is walking and quacking at the same time does not mean that the quacking makes it go.

    Re: # 65

    Actually, as we went over in another thread, the traditional position, as explicated by Turretin, for example, is that reverse: the final judgment is just a public acknowledgment of the original one:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2008/01/23/turretin-on-justification/

    See the second block quote in the original post.

    But I’m glad you bring this up, because I’ve asked the question a couple of times and not gotten an answer: If the current justification is simply the final declaration received in advance, and that final declaration has something to do with works, doesn’t that mean that current justification has something to do with works? Let me lay it out this way:

    The current justification is simply the final verdict received in advance, and thus the current is dependent upon the final.

    The final verdict has something to do with works (WCF 33.1: “according to”; and Scripture is very clear on this). Even if works are only evidence at the final verdict, the works have *something* to do with the verdict–the verdict is *not* merely concerned with Christ’s imputed righteousness.

    So, indirectly, the current justification has *something* to do with works (even if not meritoriously or causally, play some sort of role).

    Which of these parts is incorrect? What am I missing? As I said to Jason Stellman several times, I don’t have access to Mike’s book where I am, so I’m asking those who have read it to explain to me what I’m missing. Is the minor premise incorrect–the final verdict actually has nothing to do with works? There’s no way to square that with Scripture or tradition. Then how does the intrusion of the future verdict (which is related to works) become by faith alone? Is there a Klinean element here that I’m not getting? Is faith alone the instrument by which the future eschatology becomes present (say, Heb. 11:1)?

    And I wasn’t agreeing with his position necessarily, either in part or in its entirety. I was just pointing out that we have to deal with concept that he is talking about, not simply jump all over the term he uses. Simply slapping him with WCF 11 doesn’t actually *directly* address his point when he is talking about WCF 33. Indirectly, perhaps, as Jeff’s comment points out, or yours, when we make the step of connecting the final verdict with present justification (but I’m still not entirely clear on how that works, as my question makes clear).

  67. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 21, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Re: #64

    Jeff,

    I suppose that the slippery slope is possible. A possible slippery slope is one thing, though, while a legitimate conviction for heresy is something else. I could argue that Kline’s work on the canon could lead to a slippery slope toward something like Marcionism, but that is simply a caution and a criticism, not a conviction.

    I’ve wanted for some time to write a post title “Anoth FVer Goes to Rome,” based upon my studies in Italy this past summer. Having recently seen real Romanism up close (not the American stuff, which is actually very, very Protestant in its view of Scripture and authority), and being inclined to agree with many (though not necessarily all) elements of the FV, I still don’t find myself one bit inclined to swim the Tiber. A few reasons:

    -the doctrine of authority. Communicants are required to believe that every doctrine of the church is perfect, pure, and altogether righteous–see, for example, the last canon of the Sixth Session of Trent, in which anyone who criticizes Trent’s doctrine of justification AT ALL is anathematized. Or, say, the whole of Vatican I on Peter’s primacy.

    -the actual view of authority. Contrary to the church, a number of important RCers today have pretended as though decisions of the church are not in fact binding (e.g., R.R. Reno, who claims that Trent doesn’t really have to be rescinded: it was valid back then, but it’s not now). Nonsense. If you want to be able to disagree with ecclesiastical authorities, just be Protestant and don’t be duplicitous or foolish.

    -the doctrine of Mary and the Saints. With all due respect to your relatives, they are bad Catholics. Mary and the saints are central and indispensable to the life of the church and the mediation of grace (again, in Romanism’s home soil of Italy, where every church has a reliquary). “Jesus only” Catholics are out of accord with Catholic doctrine and should just become Protestant (see the authority question above). This is huge: solus Christus was also vital for the Reformation. Just out of curiosity: were your relatives fans of the late JPII? If so, how do they reconcile a “Jesus only” approach with his personal motto “Totus tuus, virgo mater…”?

    -the requirement to believe in stupid doctrines. Transubstantiation is a required element of the faith, even though it is based a grossly naive reading of Scripture with a whole wagon train of Aristotelianism and superstition dragged in (e.g., the Corpus Christi) to verify or explain it.

    All these things are absolutely central to Romanism as it really is (not as American Catholics would like it to be), in Rome and Italy, where the Reformation never really took hold. They are not part of the peripherals of the Roman faith: they are the vitals, and the FV doesn’t get anywhere close to these.

  68. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Joshua (#66):

    If the current justification is simply the final declaration received in advance, and that final declaration has something to do with works, doesn’t that mean that current justification has something to do with works? Let me lay it out this way…

    YES, it does! Specifically, the initial verdict of justification is that which allows adoption and the indwelling of the sanctifying Spirit (as in Gal 3 — “so that they might receive the promised Spirit”), and thus causes the works.

    So the works measured at the final verdict are vindication that the Spirit was given. Oddly enough, Job may provide the clearest picture of this: declared righteous in chapter 1, vindicated throughout the rest of the book.

    Jeff Cagle

  69. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Joshua (#67):

    I suppose that the slippery slope is possible. A possible slippery slope is one thing, though, while a legitimate conviction for heresy is something else. I could argue that Kline’s work on the canon could lead to a slippery slope toward something like Marcionism, but that is simply a caution and a criticism, not a conviction.

    Full agreement. As soon as I constructed the S.S. argument for Lusk, my mind went to work on a parallel argument for Kline. I think he has adequate safeguards as well, which is why I do not agree with those who accuse him of “easy believism.”

    I also agree that a slippery-slope caution is not the same as a conviction. Or put another way, just because Lusk’s ideas might, hypothetically, lead to RC ideas does not mean that Lusk is actually *there*. He’s not. Rome won’t have him, as he’s pointed out.

    With all due respect to your relatives, they are bad Catholics.

    Yes, they are. :) But Catholics nonetheless, which would take us back to the post on the Papists being our brothers. Not a clear situation at all.

    Jeff Cagle

  70. Roger Mann said,

    February 21, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    66: Joshua wrote,

    This is the reason why I quit reading Waters’ book–a refusal to understand what an author means by the terms he uses.

    I fully understand that when Lusk teaches that faith and works “provide a dual instrumentality of justification” he’s referring to the final judgment. I simply reject Lusk’s teaching as unbiblical and unconfessional. That’s why I asked: “Where does either Scripture or the Westminster Standards teach that faith and works ‘provide a dual instrumentality of justification’ (a la Lusk) in the final judgment?” Unfortunately you simply dodged the question, and rather implied that I “refused” to understand what Lusk meant.

    To keep quoting the confession on justification does not constitute *direct* refutation of Lusk’s idea, since he is not talking about the concept conveyed in WCF 11, but about the one conveyed in WCF 33.

    The point I was raising is that WCF 33 does not teach, either explicitly or implicitly, that faith and works “provide a dual instrumentality of justification” in the final judgment (and neither does Scripture). WCF 33 doesn’t even mention “faith” or “justification” — it’s simply read into it by Lusk. The fact is that the final judgment is not a means of “justification” for elect believers, who have already been justified “by faith” and “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). That’s what WCF 11 clearly teaches as well (and why I quoted it). The role of “works” in the final judgment, in contradistinction to Lusk, is correctly explained by John Murray:

    “We must maintain…justification complete and irrevocable by grace through faith and apart from works, and at the same time, future reward according to works. In reference to these two doctrines it is important to observe the following: (i) This future reward is not justification and contributes nothing to that which constitutes justification. (ii) This future reward is not salvation. Salvation is by grace and it is not a reward for works that we are saved. (iii) The reward has reference to the station a person is to occupy in glory and does not have reference to the gift of glory itself. While the reward is of grace yet the standard or criterion of judgment by which the degree of reward is to be determined [not “justification” -- RM] is good works. (iv) This reward is not administered because good works earn or merit reward, but because God is graciously pleased to reward them. That is to say, it is a reward of grace.” (Murray, “Justification,” Collected Writings, 2:221)

    As for my response to 60 & 61, my point was that one could take the quote from #14 in a way that was orthodox, albeit less than clear. I already pointed out that “put in a right relationship with God” can be taken in the orthodox sense of “enjoy the benefits of the relationship with God”–if one supposes that the speaker is simply being unclear, which is, oddly enough, the judgment of charity.

    Again, I’m not sure how one could reach such a conclusion (even on the basis of “the judgment of charity”) when the original quote was referring to “saving faith,” how “faith and works put us in a right relationship with God,” and “that obedience is necessary for salvation.” The “judgment of charity” doesn’t require blind gullibility and the inability to make critical judgments about what someone has plainly written — especially on such a crucial matter as this!

    I quoted WCF 11.2 to point out that the confession in fact says that justification and works are never separate, with respect to the person.

    Fair enough. But the original quote in post #14 was referring to the fact that “faith and works can not be separated in any way at all” with respect to justification, and I thought that was the context of what we were talking about? Was it not? And in that context “faith and works” are indeed separated in point of time — which means that the statement “can not be separated in any way at all” is plain false!

    So, I would still say that faith and obedience are never separate, even in justification (taking WCF 11.2 to mean that even in justification the faith is not without the other saving graces, like repentance), but that obedience in no way contributes to the justification.

    You seem to be equivocating between “never separate” with respect to justification and “never separate” with respect to the person. It is not correct to say that faith and works are “never separate” with respect to justification, as the confession makes clear — “Faith…is the alone instrument of justification.” Yet it is perfectly fine to say that faith and works are “never separate” with respect to the person — “yet it is not alone in the person justified.” These are two entirely different concepts and must be “separated” if we hope to maintain the doctrine of justification by faith alone!

  71. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Roger,

    I’ll admit that I managed to read over the phrase “in the final judgment” in your quote–it was simply unobservant, so you’ve no call to accuse me of dodging the question.

    One has to do a complete replacement of terms. As Leithart notes, when an FVer says “final justification” he means “final judgment.” If one does that, then it becomes clear that WCF 11 doesn’t have a direct bearing on Lusk’s point. Now, this in itself is certainly a problem: he doesn’t bother to seek to connect, as far as I can tell, the initial justification with the “final” one in any clear way. And this is a major problem–that’s why I’ve never liked his use of the term “justification” for the last judgment, because it can so easily be confused with the technical meaning of “justification” in Reformed theology. But, if we translate his statement, what he says is “faith and works provide a dual instrument of vindication at the final judgment.” Should this be called “justification”? Clearly, the tradition would say no, as your quotes of Murray show. Is the verdict going to be a forensic (i.e., in a legal context) declaration of righteousness for the elect only? I think so…unless I’m missing a technicality. So, could it be called a “justification,” meaning the merest, lexical definition of “a legal declaration of righteousness”? Well, according to that mere lexical definition, yes–but mere lexical definitions aren’t what were dealing with. So, Lusk is very problematic in the terms he uses, causing a great deal of confusion, and I have always said that. Furthermore, he does cause problems in the relation between justification and the final verdict in his lack of clarity. BUT, when properly translated (and, I’ll say again, the fact that this translation has to be made is itself a problem), to say “faith and works have a dual instrumentality in the verdict passed at the final judgment” is not contrary to the confession: in fact, Lusk includes faith where WCF 33 does not.

    I should say that my point here is not to defend Lusk, but rather to try to get accurately at what he is saying so that the very real problems can be addressed without a criticism of misunderstanding. That’s why I’m willing to “translate” what he says fully–not because it gets rid of all the problems, but because it lets us get at the real problems.

    “I’m not sure how one could reach such a conclusion (even on the basis of “the judgment of charity”) when the original quote was referring to “saving faith,” how “faith and works put us in a right relationship with God,” and “that obedience is necessary for salvation.” The “judgment of charity” doesn’t require blind gullibility and the inability to make critical judgments about what someone has plainly written — especially on such a crucial matter as this!”

    I’ve already explained how this conclusion could be reached: the nature of saving faith does indeed include obedience (as per James, and, in my view, WCF 14.2–but this obedience, even if it part of the nature of saving faith, is not the part that is operative in justification, CDE); “put us in a right relationship with God” could be taken to refer to enjoyment of fellowship with God; and obedience is in fact necessary for salvation (which is broader than justification)–as, e.g., Jason Stellman has said.

    And I don’t consider a dozen lines, obviously taken out of context specifically in order to bait certain people, to be “what someone has plainly written.”

    Finally, I would not say that faith and obedience are *separated* with respect to justification. What I would say, and have said a number of times, is that they are *distinguished* and *not mixed or combined* in respect to justification, even though they are inseparably together.

  72. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 21, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    “The point I was raising is that WCF 33 does not teach, either explicitly or implicitly, that faith and works “provide a dual instrumentality of justification” in the final judgment (and neither does Scripture). WCF 33 doesn’t even mention “faith” or “justification” — it’s simply read into it by Lusk.”

    Where did you raise this point? I did not see you mention WCF 33 in either of your posts. My issue was exactly this, that you didn’t deal with WCF 33, which is the locus of theology Lusk is talking about, but that you rely entirely on WCF 11, which is not what Lusk is talking about (even if he incorrectly and problematically uses the term “justification”).

  73. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Joshua (#71):

    So, Lusk is very problematic in the terms he uses, causing a great deal of confusion, and I have always said that…

    Is it possible that his view of justification is simply incoherent, given that he genuinely does want to remain Reformed in his view of justification, but also feels compelled to interpret James 2 as teaching dual instrumentation for justification?

    I hesitate to suggest this, but it does strike me that sometimes things are hard to understand because they can’t be understood. Even after you and I translate Lusk into his own language, problems remain.

    As always, I want to leave space for the possibility that I’m just not bright enough to wrap my mind around it all; but at some point, it seems like Rich’s view runs out of degrees of freedom.

    Jeff Cagle

  74. its.reed said,

    February 21, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Ref. #72:

    Joshua, a complete aside from the particular points you and Roger (and Jeff) are discussing, yet to make a point salient to the whole discussion.

    One of the critical things driven home to me during my internship was the seriousness of the pastoral calling, ala with reference to being a means via which God feeds His sheep – and the significance of needing to be clear in my teaching.

    I.O.W. a man who cannot teach the simple and sound doctrine is evidencing a question with regard to his pastoral calling.

    Your comments about Lusk’s lack of clarity is yet another example of the main FV proponents demonstrating a serious lack of clarity in their teaching – to the end that they disturb the faith of many. How I wish, as Mr. Jordan has claimed, that this was a private discussion among themselves, and that they not bring it to the sheep unless/until they had worked out all the problems.

    As it is, they need to stop and be quiet, lest the earn the badge, “troublers of Israel” from the Great Shepherd himself.

    I speak with no rancor, just great dismay at their apparent inability to see how they are hurting the sheep.

  75. David Gadbois said,

    February 21, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Reed and others,

    Never fear, because in the coming years you are going to see folks like Steve Wilkins become clearer and clearer. Now that he is not under the oversight of orthodox men, he won’t have to try to varnish his teachings or remain guarded in his speech. Much of the previous nuancing, attempts at qualification, and so forth will disappear just as his accountability has and we will see his theology for what it is *clearly*. Don’t believe me? Consider this recent post from Wilkins here on the blog he just started.

    This is a many who so clearly cannot even distinguish law from gospel. And this man is a Reformed minister? Hooey.

  76. thomasgoodwin said,

    February 21, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    And I’ve responded to it …

  77. Tom Wenger said,

    February 21, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Josh,

    In reference to #67, I should have been clearer when I said “final verdict” because I was not inending to connect it to the final judgement but rather to Paul’s notion of “those He justified He also glorified.” This most certainly does not depend on works even in a consequential necessity scenario. Lusk’s claim that these things are maintained is a connection between the present and the final that is the most damaging. Calvin’s discussion of causality is helpful on this point:

    “The philosophers postulate four kinds of causes to be observed in the outworking of things. If we look at these, however, we will find that, as far as the establishment of our salvation is concerned, none of them has anything to do with works. For Scripture everywhere proclaims that the efficient cause of our obtaining eternal life is the mercy of the Heavenly Father and his freely given love toward us. Surely the material cause is Christ, with his obedience, through which he acquired righteousness for us. What shall we say is the formal or instrumental cause but faith? And John includes these three in one sentence when he says: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life”. As for the final cause, the apostle testifies that it consists both in the proof of divine justice and in the praise of God’s goodness, and in the same place he expressly mentions three others. For so he speaks to the Romans: “All have sinned and lack the glory of God; moreover, they are justified freely by his grace.”

    Here you have the head and primal source: that God embraced us with his free mercy. There follows: “Through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus”. Here you have, as it were, the material cause by which righteousness is brought about for us. In the words “through faith in his blood”, is shown the instrumental cause whereby the righteousness of Christ is applied to us. Lastly, he adds the final cause when, to demonstrate his righteousness, he says, “In order that he himself may be righteous, and the justifier of him who has faith in Christ” And to note also, by the way, that this righteousness stands upon reconciliation, he expressly states that Christ was given as reconciliation. Thus also in the first chapter of Ephesians he teaches that we are received into grace by God out of sheer mercy, that this comes about by Christ’s intercession and is apprehended by faith, and that all things exist to the end that the glory of divine goodness may fully shine forth.

    Since we see that every particle of our salvation stands thus outside of us, why is it that we still trust or glory in works? The most avowed enemies of divine grace cannot stir up any controversy with us concerning either the efficient or the final cause, unless they would deny the whole of Scripture. They falsely represent the material and the formal cause, as if our works held half the place along with faith and Christ’s righteousness. But Scripture cries out against this also, simply affirming that Christ is for us both righteousness and life, and that this benefit of righteousness is possessed by faith alone.” (Inst. 3.14.17)

  78. GLW Johnson said,

    February 22, 2008 at 4:44 am

    Mark #76
    Where did you respond? I am still in mourning over what I read on your blog about the 19th. cent editions of the Puritans.

  79. thomasgoodwin said,

    February 22, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I responded to the post on ‘regeneration’ both at Wilkins’ blog (written by his assistant, Duane) and then I wrote some thoughts on regeneration myself at my site.

  80. February 22, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Mark, RE #79,

    Great post on regeneration on your site. The AAPC folks continue to spin even after they’re gone.

  81. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 22, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Re #73:

    Yes, Jeff, it may be incoherent. But we can’t get at the real incoherence until we understand him on his own terms. I agree that problems remain even after we “translate” what he says, but if we don’t do that translation, we get the “you don’t understand me” response, with some justice. If I am talking about WCF 33, then repeatedly referring to WCF 11 is not *directly* relevant–although it may be indirectly so, as we start to ask what the relation is between justification (proper) and the final judgment.

    Re #74

    Reed, I’ve always thought it might be interesting to survey the actual weekly sermons of the FV to see whether they are in fact bringing these particular issues to the sheep. Several of them have insisted that the majority of their congregations don’t know about the FV, and I have personally heard a number of sermons by Wilson that are as clear on justification as I could wish. While the “public” nature of the discussion seems apparent to us, I wonder how much of it is getting to the pews, as it were. And much of the publicity has come from the fact that the opening response to a pastor’s conference (which is an in-house thing) was accusation of heresy.

  82. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 22, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Re #77:

    Tom, you say:

    “I should have been clearer when I said “final verdict” because I was not inending to connect it to the final judgement but rather to Paul’s notion of ‘those He justified He also glorified.'”

    I’m still not following. Do you mean that justification is glorification brought into the present? If what is brought into the present is not the verdict passed at the final judgment, then what is brought into the present?

    And I’m well aware of Calvin’s discussion and distinction of causality. I’m not entirely sure what you’re proving with that long quote. As Tim Wilder pointed out on another thread, there is an important difference between cause and necessity. Just because good works are necessary for salvation and glory (and, in my opinion, consequently necessary for justification) does mean they are causes in any of the four senses.

    Anyhow, Calvin insists that the Romanist error is to try to include works in the formal or material cause, not in the instrumental cause, which appears to be Lusk’s point.

    Could we say that faith and Spirit-wrought good works are the *instrumental* (not meritorious, certainly, nor the material or formal, which are still as Calvin lays them out) causes, not of justification proper, but of glory and eternal life? If not, then what does the confession mean that we receive “according to” the works done in the body? I’ll go look that up in Hodge’s commentary on the confession…

  83. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 22, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    So, Hodge says this about good works:

    “They are necessary to the attainment of salvation, not in any sense as a prerequisite to justification, nor in any stage of the believer’s progress meriting the divine favour, but as essential elements of that salvation, the consubstantial fruits and means of sanctification and glorification.”

    This is in his comment on WCF 16.2, which connects the good works to gaining the end of eternal life. And I say “connects” in purposely loose sense: the works are not the meritorious grounds of the reward of life, but do have something to do with that reward.

  84. Roger Mann said,

    February 23, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Joshua, I’ll try to respond to the points you raised in post #71 and 72 when I can find the time early next week. I’ve been really busy the past couple of days. However, I wanted to quickly comment on something you wrote in post #82:

    Anyhow, Calvin insists that the Romanist error is to try to include works in the formal or material cause, not in the instrumental cause, which appears to be Lusk’s point. Could we say that faith and Spirit-wrought good works are the *instrumental* (not meritorious, certainly, nor the material or formal, which are still as Calvin lays them out) causes, not of justification proper, but of glory and eternal life?

    I believe you are mistaken when you say that “that the Romanist error is to try to include works in the formal or material cause, not in the instrumental cause,” for Calvin was clearly teaching that the “formal” or “instrumental” cause of our salvation were one and the same. He writes:

    What shall we say is the formal or instrumental cause but faith? And John includes these three in one sentence when he says: “God so loved the world [the “efficient” cause] that he gave his only-begotten Son [the “material” cause] that everyone who believes in him [the “formal” or “instrumental” cause] may not perish but have eternal life”… In the words “through faith in his blood”, is shown the instrumental cause whereby the righteousness of Christ is applied to us… Since we see that every particle of our salvation stands thus outside of us, why is it that we still trust or glory in works?… They falsely represent the material and the formal cause, as if our works held half the place along with faith and Christ’s righteousness.

    Thus, for Calvin, the “formal” or “instrumental” cause of our salvation and eternal life is “faith alone” — apart from works of any kind. Indeed, he excludes “works” as being a cause of our salvation in any of the four senses that he lists in this quote.

  85. Ron Henzel said,

    February 23, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Joshua wrote in comment 71:

    But, if we translate [interpret? paraphrase?] his [Leithart's] statement, what he says is “faith and works provide a dual instrument of vindication at the final judgment.” Should this be called “justification”? Clearly, the tradition would say no, as your quotes of Murray show.

    The problems here are as follows:

    (1) “Vindication” is for all practical purposes synonymous with “justification,” at least in common English usage (and I think we should be very impatient with anyone who tries to sneak in a subtle distinction at this point), so including works in vindication is ultimately no different from including works in justification.

    (2) For Leithart himself to point out that “when an FVer says ‘final justification’ he means ‘final judgment'” simply highlights the arrogant attitude in the FV camp toward their misappropriation of extremely well-established theological terms.

    I initially read you to be saying that it is somehow incumbent upon FV critiques to be careful to read FV authors in their own terms, or according to words the way they use them. Now you appear to be saying that until we carefully parse their distinctive vocabulary we won’t be able to accurately identify their errors, as when you write in comment 81: “But we can’t get at the real incoherence until we understand him on his own terms.”

    In the meantime what you and Roger have actually done through your dialogue is demonstrate how all this time (which I would say goes as far back as 2002) the FV has been playing a shell game with the Reformed lexicon. You’re not going to have an easy time pinning down people who deliberately and arbitrarily change definitions to suit their theological whims. Sure, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to show how heretics distort words—we see Calvin doing it all the time—but let’s not miss the larger picture: it is primarily the responsibility of the communicator to use words properly. Furthermore, it is always an indicator of potential deception when educated adult communicators fail to do this.

    To insist for any reason that if the author does not know how to clearly use words in their standard senses it is up to the reader to compensate for the author’s incompetence simply plays into the hands the Gabe Martinis of this world who incessantly whine about how critics can’t demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FV authors that they actually understand FV works. The middle schoolers I teach come up with more creative ways to shirk their academic responsibilities! The fact that even you yourself claim we should “translate” what they’re saying only serves to show how easy it can be to cave in to such juvenile pressure.

  86. Roger Mann said,

    February 23, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    71 & 72: Joshua wrote,

    One has to do a complete replacement of terms. As Leithart notes, when an FVer says “final justification” he means “final judgment.” If one does that, then it becomes clear that WCF 11 doesn’t have a direct bearing on Lusk’s point.

    It most certainly does. The WCF correctly distinguishes between “justification” (WCF 11) and the “last judgment” (WCF 33). God justifies elect sinners once-for-all “by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous” (11.1) by “faith…alone” (11.2) the moment they believe the gospel. In the last judgment God will judge all men “according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil” (33.1). Thus, WCF 11 clearly teaches that God’s judicial act of “justification” is separate from the final judgment and excludes works of any kind. Likewise, WCF 33 clearly teaches that the final judgment is separate from justification and is based entirely upon works. Lusk’s “point” is therefore illegitimate, unconfessional, and unbiblical.

    But, if we translate his statement, what he says is “faith and works provide a dual instrument of vindication at the final judgment.” Should this be called “justification”?

    No, it should not be called “justification,” not only for the reasons cited above, but because the final judgment does not include “faith” at all — it is based entirely upon our “works” or deeds “done in the body” (WCF 33.1; 2 Cor. 5:10).

    Is the verdict going to be a forensic (i.e., in a legal context) declaration of righteousness for the elect only? I think so…unless I’m missing a technicality.

    No, the final judgment is not going to be a “forensic declaration of righteousness for the elect only.” The elect have already been forensically declared righteous once-for-all (WCF 11.5; Rom. 5:1), on the basis of “faith apart from works of the law” (Rom. 3:28), the very moment they believed the gospel. The final judgment for the elect is not a judgment of “justification” in contradistinction to “condemnation” — it is a judgment solely of “reward” for service: “If anyone’s work which he has built on [the “foundation” of Christ, v. 11] endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:14-15). That’s why I quoted John Murray earlier (post #70) as saying:

    This future reward is not justification and contributes nothing to that which constitutes justification.”

    to say “faith and works have a dual instrumentality in the verdict passed at the final judgment” is not contrary to the confession: in fact, Lusk includes faith where WCF 33 does not.

    The fact that “Lusk includes faith where WCF 33 does not” in fact proves that his “dual instrumentality” of faith and works is directly contrary to the WCF. As I mentioned above, the final judgment does not include “faith” at all — it is based entirely upon our “works” or deeds “done in the body” (WCF 33.1; 2 Cor. 5:10).

    And I don’t consider a dozen lines, obviously taken out of context specifically in order to bait certain people, to be “what someone has plainly written.”

    Huh? What are you talking about? How in the world were the “dozen lines” in post #14 “obviously taken out of context in order to bait certain people,” when Bob clearly demonstrated that they were indeed teaching justification before God by faith and works?

    “Justification is shown through these examples to be a lifetime process, not merely a one time event… James also clearly shows us that the material principle of the Reformation, sola fide is false.” (post #22)

    Finally, I would not say that faith and obedience are *separated* with respect to justification. What I would say, and have said a number of times, is that they are *distinguished* and *not mixed or combined* in respect to justification, even though they are inseparably together.

    According to Scripture we are “justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom. 3:28), and the one “who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5) is the one who is accounted righteous in God’s eyes. The only way these verses do not “separate” works from faith “with respect to justification” is if one redefines the term “separate” in some sort of novel way. The simple fact is that “works” of obedience have nothing to do with our justification — except for the fact that they are excluded from it!

    Where did you raise this point? I did not see you mention WCF 33 in either of your posts.

    I thought this point was implied by the questions I asked:

    “Where does either Scripture or the Westminster Standards teach that faith and works ‘provide a dual instrumentality of justification’ (a la Lusk) in the final judgment? And how can anyone square such a teaching with crystal clear statements to the contrary?”

    Since my point was not as clear as I thought it was, I’ve went on to further explain that the final judgment does not include “faith” at all — it is based entirely upon our “works” or deeds “done in the body” (WCF 33.1; 2 Cor. 5:10). Thus, Lusk’s “dual instrumentality” of faith and works in the final judgment does not exist — it is simply a figment of his imagination that is read into WCF 33. Furthermore, since the final judgment for the elect is not a judgment of “justification” in contradistinction to “condemnation” to begin with — it is a judgment solely of “reward” for service — Lusk is off base by referring to it as a “justification” from outset.

  87. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 25, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Re #84:

    Roger, thanks for pointing that out–again, I wasn’t reading carefully, and it is the case that formal and instrumental causes are not the same thing, classically defined. I read Aristotle in, when I should have been looking at Calvin more carefully.

    Re #85

    Ron, we’re not actually talking about “common English usage,” but about technical theological vocabulary, in which context “justification” has a specific meaning that is not the same as “vindication.” Indeed, “vindication” does not have a technical theological meaning in the WCF universe of discourse, so these two terms are not synonymous. Why should making a distinction between these terms be “sneaky”? I would use vindicate in Rom. 3:4 to make it clear that we’re not talking about God being “justified” in the technical WCF sense (which is incoherent)–am I trying to “sneak in” a subtle distinction?

    I agree with your point about the communicator’s responsibility–I’ve said a number of times that I don’t agree with Lusk’s use of “justification” for the final judgment because of the confusion it causes due to the technical definition of that term (Oddly enough, this would not be a problem if we were in the realm of “common English usage,” in which context the final judgment would be a “justification”!). My point is that when trying to correct or refute someone who teaches error, we have to make an effort to understand them on their own terms in order to correct them. It should not be every hearer’s responsibility to compensate for unclarity, but it should be a goal for critics, it seems to me.

    “The fact that even you yourself claim we should “translate” what they’re saying only serves to show how easy it can be to cave in to such juvenile pressure.”

    Dude, cut it out. This sort of snide ad hominem is just garbage. You have no access to my internal thought processes or motivations: I am not caving in to juvenile pressure. I feel no pressure from FVers, but rather from my own understanding of polemical debate (which, oddly enough, was honed at WSC). I have made the point that we should not have to translate: even for us to translate indicates a problem in their lack of clarity (see #71).

  88. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 25, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Re #86:

    Roger, in #63 you responded to the notion of faith and works as a dual instrumentality of justification by quoting WCF 11.2, which says that faith is the alone instrument of justification. I took you to be arguing this way: “faith and works cannot be a dual instrumentality of justification, because the confession clearly says that faith alone is the instrument of justification.” As you lay it out in #86, I see that that was not what you had in mind, so I apologize for a misunderstanding that took us down the wrong track.

    In your second block quote, you leave out just enough to misquote me. In the original, I clearly answered the question “Should this be called ‘justification’?” in the negative (as the block quote from Ron shows). By leaving out my answer, you seem to give the impression that I have not answered it and thus need some kind of correction on that. You may not have intended, that, but it appears to me to be the effect.

    For the third block quote, I am using “forensic” in a “common English usage” sense: “belonging to, used in, or suitable to the courts or to public discussion and debate.” In this sense, the final judgment is indeed a forensic event: see Matt. 25:31ff. & Rev. 20:11ff, where the scene is clearly that of a courtroom. That’s all I meant.

    As to the fourth block quote, are you saying that the the reward of eternal life is in fact based entirely and exclusively upon our works? Faith plays no role in that reward? See WCF 16.5-6–if the basis were only works, then we could receive no reward, but by our union with Christ (the only instrument of which is faith) our works are accepted and rewarded. So, faith has to be part of the instrument by which we receive the reward, since it is that which unites us to Christ.

    The fifth block quote: in #14, Bob was very clearly trying to bait people into responding, as he admitted in #22: “I just had this feeling that FVers would bite on it but non-FVers would not.” #14 did not tell us where the quote came from at all, and #22 made it clear that he had taken out important parts. If he had left those in, no FVer would have agreed (none of them paid any attention to #14 as it was, anyway). I was simply pointing out that the words themselves, without context, could in fact be taken as orthodox but confused or unclear.

    Sixth block quote: you don’t really believe that we are justified absolutely apart from the works of the law. No one who believes in IAO does, since in that view (which I hold) we are justified in Christ’s perfect works of the law; as Mike Horton has said, we *are* justified by the works of the law–only they are Christ’s works imputed to us. So, if you’re going to push for an absolute understanding of Rom. 3:28, then there goes IAO as well. But never mind– I’m happy to retract the fine distinction I’m making between “separate” and “distinguish” and say that faith is entirely separate from works with respect to the causes–material, final, efficient, instrumental, meritorious, et al.–of justification.

  89. Roger Mann said,

    February 25, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    88: Joshua wrote,

    In your second block quote, you leave out just enough to misquote me. In the original, I clearly answered the question “Should this be called ‘justification’?” in the negative (as the block quote from Ron shows). By leaving out my answer, you seem to give the impression that I have not answered it and thus need some kind of correction on that. You may not have intended, that, but it appears to me to be the effect.

    I’m sorry if it came across that way. I wasn’t trying to imply that you hadn’t answered the question in the negative, but simply to demonstrate why I too believed it was incorrect to refer to the final judgment as a “justification.”

    As to the fourth block quote, are you saying that the reward of eternal life is in fact based entirely and exclusively upon our works? Faith plays no role in that reward?

    With all due respect, you are confusing the free “gift” of eternal life (Rom. 6:23), which is received through faith alone apart from works of the law (Rom. 3:28; WCF 11.1-2), with our “reward” for faithful service, which is based solely upon our works of obedience (2 Cor. 5:10; WCF 33.1). Thus, the “reward” given for our faithful service at the final judgment is not “eternal life,” but rather varying degrees of blessings that we will enjoy in our eternal inheritance. It is a judgment solely of “reward” for service:

    “If anyone’s work which he has built on [the “foundation” of Christ, v. 11] endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” — 1 Cor. 3:14-15

    See WCF 16.5-6–if the basis were only works, then we could receive no reward, but by our union with Christ (the only instrument of which is faith) our works are accepted and rewarded. So, faith has to be part of the instrument by which we receive the reward, since it is that which unites us to Christ.

    While it’s certainly true that our works of obedience are only acceptable to God through our union with Christ (and our faith alone unites us to Christ), this does not mean that our faith is “part of the instrument by which we receive the reward.” In no way does WCF 16.5-6 imply that faith is “part of the instrument” by which we receive the reward. It may be helpful to read the quote from Murray once again, as my position here simply mirrors what he wrote:

    “We must maintain…justification complete and irrevocable by grace through faith and apart from works, and at the same time, future reward according to works. In reference to these two doctrines it is important to observe the following: (i) This future reward is not justification and contributes nothing to that which constitutes justification. (ii) This future reward is not salvation. Salvation is by grace and it is not a reward for works that we are saved. (iii) The reward has reference to the station a person is to occupy in glory and does not have reference to the gift of glory itself. While the reward is of grace yet the standard or criterion of judgment by which the degree of reward is to be determined [not “justification” or “eternal life” -- RM] is good works. (iv) This reward is not administered because good works earn or merit reward, but because God is graciously pleased to reward them. That is to say, it is a reward of grace.” (Murray, “Justification,” Collected Writings, 2:221)

    Sixth block quote: you don’t really believe that we are justified absolutely apart from the works of the law. No one who believes in IAO does, since in that view (which I hold) we are justified in Christ’s perfect works of the law; as Mike Horton has said, we *are* justified by the works of the law–only they are Christ’s works imputed to us. So, if you’re going to push for an absolute understanding of Rom. 3:28, then there goes IAO as well.

    The context of Romans 3:28 excludes our own works of obedience to the law, not Christ’s obedience to the law:

    “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from deeds of the law.”

    So, yes, I “really believe that we are justified absolutely apart from [our own] works of the law,” because Christ’s perfect obedience has been imputed to us through faith alone! Thus, my position cannot legitimately be said to damage or destroy the IAO of Christ in any way at all.

    But never mind– I’m happy to retract the fine distinction I’m making between “separate” and “distinguish” and say that faith is entirely separate from works with respect to the causes–material, final, efficient, instrumental, meritorious, et al.–of justification.

    Great! Praise God!

  90. Tom Wenger said,

    February 27, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Hey, Josh,

    Sorry I’ve been away for a while. Let me start from scratch to reiterate what my concerns have beeen with Lusk and Wilson. The quotes I posted previously use language that goes beyond both Scripture and our tradition with the notion that there is no difference in the standing of those who are cut off of the vine, as well as the need to maintain our justified status through works.

    What I have tried to do is show that the absolute certainty of our justified status in Christ gives us RIGHT NOW the assurance that we will not be cut off of the vine and that I do not have to maintain this status with works. Rather, the gift of the new heart as well as the indwelling of the life-giving Spirit, will insure that I am spurred on to do these works, but that is a transformative work, not a maintaining of my justified status. In this I have simply tried to echo the essence of the Calvin quote I posted a while ago:

    “There would be no difficulty in this passage, were it not for the dishonest manner in which it has been tortured by the Papists to uphold the righteousness of works. When they attempt to refute our doctrine, that we are justified by faith alone, they take this line of argument. If the faith which justifies us be that ‘which worketh by love,’ then faith alone does not justify. I answer, they do not comprehend their own silly talk; still less do they comprehend our statements. It is not our doctrine that the faith which justifies is alone; we maintain that it is invariably accompanied by good works; only we contend that faith alone is sufficient for justification. The Papists themselves are accustomed to tear faith after a murderous fashion, sometimes presenting it out of all shape and unaccompanied by love, and at other times, in its true character. We, again, refuse to admit that, in any case, faith can be separated from the Spirit of regeneration; BUT WHEN THE QUESTION COMES TO BE IN WHAT MANNER WE ARE JUSTIFIED, WE THEN SET ASIDE ALL WORKS.

    With respect to the present passage, Paul enters into no dispute whether love cooperates with faith in justification; but, in order to avoid the appearance of representing Christians as idle and as resembling blocks of wood, he points out what are the true exercises of believers. WHEN YOU ARE ENGAGED IN DISCUSSING THE QUESTION OF JUSTIFICATION, BEWARE OF ALLOWING ANY MENTION TO BE MADE OF LOVE OR OF WORKS, BUT RESOLUTELY ADHERE TO THE EXCLUSIVE PARTICLE.” [Commentary on Gal. 5:6]

    The fact that he elsewhere rejects that this justification can refer to the beginning of justification, also precludes the FV formular on this point.

    I apologize if my explanations earlier weren’t clear. Does this make sense?

  91. Tom Wenger said,

    February 27, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Sorry, I meant to include the quote where Calvin rejects two stage justification:

    “There is no room for the vulgar quibble that Paul is speaking of the beginning of Justification; for in both places he is showing, not how men who had hitherto been unbelievers begin to be righteous, but how they retain the righteousness which they have once procured during the whole course of life; for David speaks of himself after he had been adopted among the children of God; and Paul asserts that this is the perpetual message which is daily heard in the Church. In the same sense also he says, “Moses describeth the righteousness of the law, that he who doeth these things shall live in them, (Leviticus 18:5;) but the righteousness of faith thus speaketh, He that believeth,” etc. (Romans 10:5.) We thus see that the righteousness of faith, which by no means consists of works, is opposed to the righteousness of the law, which so consists.” [“Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote,”
    114-115]

    This is instructive in light of Lusk’s claim about “maintaining” justification because Calvin specifically says that this is how our righteousness is “retained” in this life and it “by no means consists of works”.

  92. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 27, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Tom,

    No worries: I’m sure we all have better things to do than comment on blogs, even one as relatively helpful as this.

    I agree with Calvin’s comments, as I’ve repeatedly said. The issue I was not clear on was the relation of the final verdict rendered at the last judgment to current justification. As I understand Horton’s view, the current justification is the future verdict brought into the present, and you had agreed that that was the case. My point was that this seems to make the final verdict logically prior, with justification dependent upon/subordinate to it. But that seems to mean that works are indirectly related to justification, since work do play a role (even if only evidentiary) in the final verdict. I was just asking for what I was missing there: see #66, where I tried to lay out the points distinctly. You responded by saying that you had meant glory when referring to the final verdict, and that’s where I wasn’t clear.

  93. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 27, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    And yeah, I don’t like Lusk’s “maintaining justification” idea much either– although I don’t think it’s Roman, since his point is maintaining the legal status. That’s where the FV view of the parable of the unforgiving servant comes in: all the actions of the master are applied to God, i.e., he will forgive the sins and then remand them if mercy is not shown. As Jeff Cagle pointed out, Lusk never, so far as I know, explains the “subsequent justifications” idea…although maybe what he’s after are Leithart’s “deliverdicts,” which seem to be vindications of God’s people in particular situations in which they are accused…

  94. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    February 27, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Roger, it still seems to me that WCF 16.2 indicates that good works are part of the means or instrument by which we attain the end, eternal life, but those works are imperfect and must be received in union with Christ (which is by faith alone), as per WCF 16.5-6. And WCF doesn’t talk about the different degrees of glory, so, while Murray may be right, you can’t call me unconfessional if I say that the reward of eternal life is received through faith and good works–WCF seems to talk about eternal life as the reward in question.

  95. June 23, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Lane,

    My question regarding this issue is, if James is talking about demonstrative justification, why does James ask the rhetorical question which expects the negative answer, “Can such a faith (a demonstrative one) save him?”?

    Thanks,
    Chris


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