I always enjoy reading Doug’s rhetoric. It is always creative and colorful. One criticism that could never be levelled against Doug’s writing is “boring.” In this instance, it is the language used to describe his astonishment that I have apparently given Lusk a free and clean bill of health (perhaps unknowingly). Let me set the record straight on this issue. I have never criticized Lusk for saying that union with Christ is the central soteric benefit. I agree with him (and have always agreed with him) on that issue. I do not think that this is the heart of the disagreement between Lusk and myself, or between Lusk and his critics. The problems come in when discussing the relationship of justification to union with Christ, the place of baptism in relation to union with Christ, the relationship of perseverance to union with Christ, etc. I find it somewhat ironic. There are critics of the Federal Vision, of course, who may indeed criticize Lusk on this point, and may even lay the Federal Vision at Gaffin’s feet. I am not one of them (fairly obviously, I think). Could it be that Wilson is lumping all the critics of the Federal Vision together, when, in fact, they do not all come from the same viewpoint? Is assuming a monolithic critical stance happening for people who hate charges of monolithicity? Isn’t this ironic? Can I end another sentence with a question mark? Okay, I’m done being silly now (and please take this in a light-hearted manner. One of the things I have noticed is that the atmosphere being charged the way it is, humor is thought to be serious, especially my humor. A great pity.).
I really challenge the assertion that repentance and faith are only indirectly from God. What else does the Holy Spirit accomplish in us but repentance and faith? Just because we are the ones who exercise faith does not mean that faith is indirectly from God. Ephesians 2 says that our faith is a gift from God. That sounds a bit direct to me, but maybe I’m off. Maybe there is a middle-man in the direction of faith from God to us. I don’t know yet who or what that would be. Maybe Doug can enlighten us on how faith is only indirectly from God and not directly from God. The troubles I seem to be having saying that faith is obedience are mirrored by Doug’s trouble in saying that faith is a direct gift from God. If faith is a direct gift from God, then that challenges his assertions that faith is obedience, and yet Scripture plainly indicates that faith is such a direct gift from God. I am not asserting, however, that God exercises faith for us. I am saying what Scott Clark said: the categories of law and gospel help us out here, as does the gift-character of faith. Obedience is a law term, whereas faith is a gospel term. And since all sorts of confusion arise when law and gospel are confused, I will stick with the Reformed tradition on this one. I really think the bottom line on this one is that Doug does not accept the hermeneutical law-gospel distinction (against the whole Reformed tradition), and I do. My syllogism to answer Doug’s looks, therefore, like this: 1. faith is a gift of God; 2. obedience is not gift; 3. therefore faith is not of the category of obedience, but rather of gift. QED Of course, Doug would contest premise 2, and not premise 1 (although see the question of directness above). He would probably say that obedience can be gift. But obedience as I am using the term means obedience to the law. From whence does the impetus come for us to have faith? It cannot come from us (as the law would command). It can only come from God.