Assurance and Apostasy

Doug has, of course, been very busy lately, what with blogging through Calvin’s Institutes added to the AAPC conference. So, just to help him remember where we are, this is my last post in the series, which is as yet unanswered. In the current post, I will examine the last two areas of positive theological statement. My last treatment of the sections is here.

I can be exceptionally brief with this section, as my previous treatment still gets to the heart of the matter. I will phrase the question this way: can a believer be absolutely assured of his own salvation in knowing that he is decretally elect? It should be noted here that Cardinal Bellarmine, the foremost Catholic apologist for the Council of Trent, once said that the worst sin of the entire Reformation was their doctrine of assurance.

On the section on apostasy, I think I will simply quote what I said before, as I don’t think I can improve on it:

The section on apostasy is much more problematic. Now, it is important to note that they use the term “Christian” of someone who is baptized, not of someone who is decretally elect. We do use the term this way when we say that a certain percentage of the world is “Christian.” Usually those figures that we use are quite a bit higher than we would allow if we were talking about just the decretally elect. Nevertheless, the statement does not make it easy here to distinguish among the various uses of the term. One gets the distinct impression that that use is the only use they want to use. But in evangelicalism, surely the more common use of the term is of someone who is born again.

The real problem (the above paragraph is only a small quibble about a term) is with what is ascribed to the apostate before he apostatizes. They say that such people were united to Christ in His covenantal life, that they fall from real grace, and that the connection to Christ is not merely external. Let’s break this down, claim by claim.

Such people were united to Christ in His covenantal life. Almost certainly they have their interpretation of John 15 in view here, especially as they use the branch metaphor in this very paragraph. So, whatever the NECM has, he has life. Chapter 14 of John is usually ignored in FV discussions of John 15. There is not only no mention of apostasy in John 14, but the life that Jesus speaks of is clearly eternal life (look at verses 3, 4, 6, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19-20 (!), 27). Therefore, the non-fruit-bearing branches do not have the kind of life that Jesus speaks of in verse 14. They have an external connection only (contra the FV statement). Particularly, they have the “cut off” kind of life. They are already as good as dead. Plainly, verse 1 of John 15 is speaking of the visible church, not of the invisible church. It is only in that sense that Jesus speaks of the branches being “in me.” FV advocates really front-end load that phrase. They want to read covenantal life into that phrase. But if Christ is talking about true life, then the FV understanding is Arminian, even if they affirm decretal election. You cannot have a little bit of salvation. You cannot be a geep or a shoat. You are either a sheep or a goat. Period. There is no mutation or tertium quids. What is the difference between a fruit-bearing branch and a non-fruit-bearing branch? It is that they do not sustain the same relationship to the vine. The non-fruit-bearing branch is a sucker, a parasite. He is only externally related to the vine. The fruit-bearing branch sustains an ordo salutis relationship to Christ, and the other does not. The FV stresses that these branches are not stuck onto the vine by scotch tape. No, they are not. But the vine is not salvation, either. It is the visible church. It is not covenantal salvation, either. These branches never bear any fruit. I think I have dealt with the external thing as well.

No one can fall from saving grace. You cannot simply say that apostates fall from real grace, without defining what that grace is from which they have fallen. This is the same kind of ambiguity that has plagued FV teaching from the start. What kind of grace is it? Is it common grace, special grace, or a tertium quid? I suspect they would call it covenantal grace. That’s a big help. What does it do? Does it save or not? Wilkins says yes in his article in the Federal Vision. It just doesn’t save permanently. This is still Arminian, and it doesn’t matter in the least that he affirms decretal election also. To say that anyone has temporary saving grace and then loses it is Arminian. Leave decretal election out of the picture for a moment. Let’s just talk about those who will fall away. If you define what they fall away from as real salvific benefits, then it is an Arminian scheme, however much it may be juxtaposed with a more Calvinistic scheme. Affirming Calvinism in one spot isn’t enough. It has to be thorough-going. I suspect that there is division in the ranks of FV here, although Wilson was willing to put his name on this horribly ambiguous statement.

About these ads

131 Comments

  1. Reed Here said,

    January 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Lane:

    Love the geep and shoat line :-) A few brief observations:

    You say,

    Let’s just talk about those who will fall away. If you define what they fall away from as real salvific benefits, then it is an Arminian scheme,

    (emphasis added).

    I’d say this is the nub of it, what does this what mean? In answering I’d say we actually need to go back to your graciously dropped quibble, the meaning of the term Christian and it’s covenantal defintion given it by the FV. Clearly this definition is neither the,

    > merely external only, “Christian in name, by profession only,” that most of us agree with, nor
    > the inward also, “Christian by vital union,” that is also understood and commonly accepted in our circles.

    This is where some other criticism comes in and has weight with me. Not to make any other particular comparisons, but it seems to me that the FV’s use of “Christian” is most akin to the RCC’s usage – if you’re baptized then you are a “real” Christian.

    Of course, the debate then must go to what the FV means by the word real. In exposition to approach an answer, I’d refer any interested to the usage of this word in the FV’s Joint Statement. Simply a review of the usage of real in their statement on baptism will leave one persuaded that the FV leaves ample latitude (I suggest unbiblical latitude.)

  2. Pete Myers said,

    January 21, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Hi Reed and Lane,

    Firstly – I got really busy in the last week, sorry if I just disappeared from conversations. Reed – we were having a couple of conversations on some threads last week… I’m pretty sure I left some of them in the lurch, but have lost track now. If there’s something you’d like me to take a look at and pick up again, drop me a link.

    Secondly, on this:

    I’d say this is the nub of it, what does this what mean?

    This does seem to be a crucial question. And the confusion, as Lane notes, is that there are a range of views on what this “what” is among FV advocates and sympathisers.

    In fact, I’d suggest that at this point the terminology of “FV” and “non-FV” is too broad… we could do with distinguishing between what the different FV positions are, I don’t even know how many different “what’s” there are out there.

    Of course, I’ve no idea how to get clarity on what particular individuals think on this.

  3. Reed Here said,

    January 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    No. 2, Pete: as to other threads, nah, we’re good.

    As to various shades within the FV, yeah, agreed. The recent use of “lite” vs. “dark” (as in “ale”, if you will) is somewhat helpful. Yet this only works to the degree FV proponents are willing to adopt the terminology.

    It is possibly a hopeless and pointless exercise. This is because the proponents themselves do not like being heard as a comprehensive (or cohesive) system. Yet they do speak in a comprehensive manner (else their Joint Statement is nonsense apart from such an understanding).

    Best we can do is strike for the common, and/or note the particular in any given discussion. This seems fairest to FV proponents, while nevertheless burdensome to those of us who are FV critics.

  4. rfwhite said,

    January 21, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    If we fail, as the Joint Statement does, to distinguish the apostate’s blessings from the elect’s, then are we able to account for the irresistible grace of God that leads to the salvation of the elect? If we do not clarify, as the Joint Statement does not, how the covenantal life of elect branches differs from that of reprobate branches, then what prevents us from concluding that the perseverance of a given branch depends on its nature as one “who wills or runs and not on God who has mercy”? It seems to me that this lack of clarity confuses and misleads the church on the soteriology of the Scriptures.

  5. Reed Here said,

    January 21, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Dr. White: very effective summary of concerns. Thanks!

    All who wonder what the hubbub is about among critics of the FV, I commend Dr. White’s summary to your consideration.

  6. January 21, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    [...] via Assurance and Apostasy « Green Baggins. [...]

  7. Ron Henzel said,

    January 21, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Here’s what Mark Horne has to say about this post:

    I’ve been out of this for months and come back to see that Lane is still chasing his tail. It is sad to see. It reminds me of the scene in The Last Battle when the dwarves refuse to acknowledge they are in Aslan’s country and insist they are prisoners in the stable. (Sadly, unlike Lane’s targets, Lewis uses the scene to present Arminian teaching).

    First of all, Lane is insisting on using the term “salvific” and “saving” and the like as univocal terms for final salvation. Since God does not so restrict the use of these words, this is simply a pharisaical word rule that no one should allow to bind their conscience of speech. God, after all, “is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (First Timothy 4.10). I could show more examples but one is all that is necessary to establish the point. Nothing in the Westminster standards requires a Presbyterian ministers to use salvation univocally (and if it did then the Standards would simply be in error, binding God’s people with rules God not only does not impose, but which He himself does not follow).

    Secondly, the only way this argument will work is to go full-bore into the hyper-calvinism of the Protestant Reformed variety. It is not PCA. It is not Reformed mainstream. It is not Confessional to mandate this rather novel and minority (mis)understanding of the grace of God.

    God pours out his grace on many, including non-elect within the Covenant and Church. Making God look stingy with his blessings involves not knowing what Spirit one is following. Using convoluted and nonsensical rationalizations to make Calvinist ministers into Arminians is simply not in keeping with Christian behavior nor all the more with duties toward fellow ministers of the Gospel.

    But now we will just see more of the same. Say it again and again to yourself: We are locked in a dark stable. There is no sunshine. There is no pleasant breeze. There is no lion with a feast for all. The temple of the Lord. The temple of the Lord. The temple of the Lord.

    He is essentially arguing for a “present salvation” that may be lost, and a “final salvation” which, by definition of course, cannot be. He seems totally clueless to the fact that there is no distinction between this and the historic Arminian position. There is nothing more tautological than to say that final salvation cannot be lost, and nothing more Arminian than to say that present salvation can be.

    In his blog post he links to other articles on his blog that, in my opinion, deny essential tenets of Reformed soteriology. I’ll ask others to look over these texts by Horne and answer my question: is it right that this man is an ordained minister in the PCA?

  8. pduggie said,

    January 21, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    I’ve said this before.

    I don’t know if it can be improved upon

    ” That the general election of a people is not always effectual and permanent, a reason readily presents itself, because, when God covenants with them, He does not also give the spirit of regeneration to enable them to preserve in the covenant to the end; but the eternal call, without the internal efficacy of grace, which would be sufficient for their preservation, is a kind of medium between the rejection of all mankind and the election of the small number of believers. The whole nation of Israel was called “God’s inheritance,” though many of them were strangers;”

  9. pduggie said,

    January 21, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Its also probably more important to talk about WHO they fall away from than what.

  10. pduggie said,

    January 21, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    If, as Fisher’s catechism says ” future sins may provoke the Lord to withdraw the sense of former pardon”, how can anyone have assurance at any given time?

    Sin might cause God to take away your sense of having been pardoned even though you actually are. If I have no sense of pardon, where is my assurance of election?

  11. Reed Here said,

    January 22, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Well, you gotta admit that Horne is a consistent equivocater. Talk about oxymorons.

  12. jared said,

    January 22, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Reed (#1),

    It would probably be less burdensome if you stopped trying to criticize “the FV” and started criticizing particular points of “interest” (or concern, as I suppose it is) instead. The term “Christian” is a perfectly legitimate place to start such criticisms. So, what/who is a Christian?

    Lane,

    You say,

    Chapter 14 of John is usually ignored in FV discussions of John 15. There is not only no mention of apostasy in John 14, but the life that Jesus speaks of is clearly eternal life (look at verses 3, 4, 6, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19-20 (!), 27). Therefore, the non-fruit-bearing branches do not have the kind of life that Jesus speaks of in verse 14. They have an external connection only (contra the FV statement). Particularly, they have the “cut off” kind of life. They are already as good as dead. Plainly, verse 1 of John 15 is speaking of the visible church, not of the invisible church. It is only in that sense that Jesus speaks of the branches being “in me.”

    I’m sure this could be more convoluted, but I’ll give it a go anyway. FVers usually leave chapter 14 of John’s gospel out of discussions because it isn’t relevant to the argument. It’s been said a hundred times before (though I’m sure it’s just that “functional equivalency” dog barking away), the life that “non-fruit-bearing branches have is not the same kind of life that the fruit-bearing branches have. I will happily, merrily (and maybe even gaily) concede that some FVers argue this way; but the Joint Statement doesn’t and some FVers don’t argue that way. An “external only” connection doesn’t make any sense whatsoever given the vine metaphor. Satan didn’t just come along and staple (or tape, or whatever it is these days) those branches onto the vine. Those branches grew out of the vine just like most every other branch (some are grafted, but that’s a tangent issue). Pointing out that verse 1 of John 15 is plainly speaking about the visible church doesn’t help you, especially given the direction you go from here:

    FV advocates really front-end load that phrase. They want to read covenantal life into that phrase. But if Christ is talking about true life, then the FV understanding is Arminian, even if they affirm decretal election.

    I’m assuming the “phrase” referenced here is the “in me” which is plainly referring to the visible church, yes? If that’s the case then how is it unreasonable to “read” covenantal life into that phrase? Isn’t that what all members of the visible church have? Some have it truly and some have it falsely. Could that be the difference between fruit-bearing and non-fruit-bearing? I think so though I don’t know why thinking so would (or should) be considered heretical. So, since Christ isn’t talking about true life (since He’s referring to the visible church) it seems, then, that the FV understanding isn’t Arminian after all. At least not in the Joint Statement. Moving right along,

    You cannot have a little bit of salvation. You cannot be a geep or a shoat. You are either a sheep or a goat. Period. There is no mutation or tertium quids. What is the difference between a fruit-bearing branch and a non-fruit-bearing branch? It is that they do not sustain the same relationship to the vine.

    No one disagrees with this. Well, the Joint Statement doesn’t anyway.

    The non-fruit-bearing branch is a sucker, a parasite. He is only externally related to the vine.

    Incorrect. If they were only externally related to the vine there would be no need to cut them off; other less “violent” means could be utilized. Continuing,

    The fruit-bearing branch sustains an ordo salutis relationship to Christ, and the other does not. The FV stresses that these branches are not stuck onto the vine by scotch tape. No, they are not. But the vine is not salvation, either. It is the visible church. It is not covenantal salvation, either. These branches never bear any fruit. I think I have dealt with the external thing as well.

    The vine is not salvation!? The vine is the visible church? Isn’t the vine Jesus? I’m pretty sure Jesus says “I am the true vine…” Anyway, for the sake of discussion, let’s say that Jesus was using the vine metaphor to illustrate an ecclesiastic reality; namely that the church is His body (which is yet another metaphor, but again a separate tangent). So, let’s grant that the vine is not salvation and that the vine is the visible church. You already concede that non-fruit-bearing branches are not “taped” onto the vine. But look at what you’re asserting, that the vine (being the visible church) is not salvation (covenantal or eternal). Okay. How does this help your case at all? It seems obvious that we want to say the vine provides life to both kinds of branches, though not the same kind of life (i.e. true covenantal versus false covenantal). And, since the non-fruit-bearing branches aren’t merely “taped” on it means their relationship can’t merely be external. A branch connected externally to the vine gets nothing at all, it might as well have been taped on; but clearly the non-fruit-bearing branch gets more than this (i.e. it gets something, and not only something but something fundamentally different from what the fruit-bearing branch gets). You continue,

    No one can fall from saving grace. You cannot simply say that apostates fall from real grace, without defining what that grace is from which they have fallen. This is the same kind of ambiguity that has plagued FV teaching from the start. What kind of grace is it? Is it common grace, special grace, or a tertium quid? I suspect they would call it covenantal grace. That’s a big help. What does it do? Does it save or not?

    I hope I can be of some service here, though given my record that might be expecting much. I think FV is less concerned with “kind” of grace than they are that it is grace from which one is apostatizing. To wit, common grace and special grace are both “real” grace. If the FV did (or does) call it covenantal grace I should think, then, that they would want to describe that grace as “real” too. I’m not entirely sure why it is unclear that the grace from which one falls does not save. Obviously if one is falling from it then it doesn’t save, so saving grace is not (or shouldn’t be) in mind. It also seems to me that common grace, as I understand it, is not in mind either since I think the only time an individual can lose common grace is at death (and even then I am unsure); it is grace that everyone has regardless of their religious views (and some in greater measure than others, as God wills). So, I suppose it is some iteration of special grace to be distinguished from saving grace via faith (e.g. whether one has true faith or false faith).

    Leave decretal election out of the picture for a moment. Let’s just talk about those who will fall away. If you define what they fall away from as real salvific benefits, then it is an Arminian scheme, however much it may be juxtaposed with a more Calvinistic scheme. Affirming Calvinism in one spot isn’t enough. It has to be thorough-going. I suspect that there is division in the ranks of FV here, although Wilson was willing to put his name on this horribly ambiguous statement.

    I’m pretty sure the statement doesn’t (anywhere) say that apostates fall away from salvific benefits, so (for the nth time) the charge of Arminianism doesn’t stick here either. Moreover, you haven’t shown at all that the statement is ambiguous on this point. Vague, perhaps, but not ambiguous. I’m also curious as to how falling away from “real grace” is more vague (or more ambiguous) than falling away from “common operations of the Spirit” which, as I understand, are a product of “real grace” (whether common or special has, it seems, yet to be determined?). Lane, I’m sure you could’ve improved upon what you quoted; especially given some of the recent discussions that have transpired here on this very topic. You are smarter than this.

  13. Ron Henzel said,

    January 22, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Here’s what the Joint Statement says about apostasy:

    We affirm that apostasy is a terrifying reality for many baptized Christians. All who are baptized into the triune Name are united with Christ in His covenantal life, and so those who fall from that position of grace are indeed falling from grace. The branches that are cut away from Christ are genuinely cut away from someone, cut out of a living covenant body. The connection that an apostate has to Christ is not merely external.

    We deny that any person who is chosen by God for final salvation before the foundation of the world can fall away and be finally lost. The decretally elect cannot apostatize.

    [The italics is in the original; the bold has been added by me.]

    If being “united with Christ in His covenantal life” is not a salvific benefit, I don’t know what is. To say that the “connection that an apostate has [sic] to Christ is not merely external” strongly implies that it is (or was) internal, and exists (or existed) in reality at the spiritual level.

    The argument that Mark Horne makes, to which I refer in my comment #7 above (which got stuck in the moderator’s queue until just a bit ago), is that there is such a thing as “temporary salvation” which can be lost. This “temporary salvation” remains nonetheless a present salvation, and thus those who have it are thus presently “saved.”

    So what’s the difference between saying that someone who does not have a merely external union with Christ, but a spiritual one which brings him into Christ’s covenantal life, and who is thus presently saved—what’s the difference between saying that such a person who the Joint Statement calls a “Christian” can lose his salvation and the Arminian teaching that Christians can lose their salvation?

  14. Ron Henzel said,

    January 22, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Oops! I’ve been in too much of a hurry while composing my recent comments. I only meant to put the words “united with Christ in His covenantal life” in bold text above. Many apologies.

  15. Dan Seitz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    First, let me admit that I am not seminary trained. This fact will become evident as you read my post. Praise the Lord for perspicuity.

    I wonder how you anti FVers take Hebrews 6:4-12. It would seem to me that some of you would rather it didn’t say what it does or at the very least you misunderstand it into your paradigm. I think the Scripture is very clear here. There is something to lose. And I would offer that the Scripture tells us that what can be loss is something more than mere affiliation with a local church and Mrs. Petigrew’s chocolate fudge brownies at the all church dinners.

    Paul tells us elsewhere to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. What’s he saying? I think he is telling us to not be complacent. Don’t take the grace of our Lord for granted. Look at your life; don’t kid yourself. Who is your master? Whose drum are you marching to? Are you grieved by your sin. Wake up, man!

    The New Geneva Study Bible (RC Sproul, editor) gives various interpretations of the Hebrews 6 passage. The one that seems to me to support the text is as follows: “Another interpretation holds that the author is describing the apostates of vv. 4-8 in terms of their profession and the blessings they appeared to share with genuine believers up to the moment of their apostasy [enlightenment (the Gospel); tasting the Heavenly gift (Sacrament of the Lords Supper); partakers of the Holy Spirit (They had some experience with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it is not necessary to conclude that regeneration is specifically intended.)]. Although Jesus saves completely (7:25) and has made perfect forever (10:13) those who hear His word with faith, the author exhorts the readers to prove the faith they profess by their perseverance. Without faith, proximity to God in the fellowship of His covenant people is no blessing; rather, it subjects apostates to more severe judgment.”

    If we live long enough, we’ll all see shocking turnarounds in the life of the church. Someone who we would have bet was a believer–they served the Lord in many ways, taught Sunday School, might even have been the pastor–lost faith and left. Of course we pray for their repentance… Apostasy is real, a fall from grace. And if someone falls from grace, they had grace; some kind of grace.

    The author of Hebrews is not presenting an unlikely, hypothetical situation; he is telling us to make our calling and election sure. Don’t take God’s grace lightly and make a mockery out of it. There is something to lose. To those who would reply that what can be lost is merely the fellowship of the church, I don’t think the Hebrews passage takes it that lightly. What exactly is the connection before apostasy? I don’t know, but it isn’t just a love of fudge brownies.

  16. Reed Here said,

    January 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    No. 15, Dan:

    A search of the archives here (see search box on left sidebar) will bring up the various places where we have interacted together (fur and agin FV) on Heb 6. You’ll get a good exposure to both our understanding(s) and the seriousness with which we approach the passage.

  17. jared said,

    January 22, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Ron Henzel (#13),

    You say,

    If being “united with Christ in His covenantal life” is not a salvific benefit, I don’t know what is. To say that the “connection that an apostate has [sic] to Christ is not merely external” strongly implies that it is (or was) internal, and exists (or existed) in reality at the spiritual level.

    Perhaps it would be beneficial to distinguish between salvific benefits and spiritual benefits? I am not, here, intending to imply that you don’t know what a salvific benefit is. Life in the covenant is necessarily (and always) spiritual life but it is not necessarily salvific life. This seems obviously so given the parable of the sower and the vine metaphor. That the apostate’s union with Jesus is not merely external should be incentive for us to work out our salvation in order that we can be proven true as evidenced by our remaining in Him. You continue,

    So what’s the difference between saying that someone who does not have a merely external union with Christ, but a spiritual one which brings him into Christ’s covenantal life, and who is thus presently saved—what’s the difference between saying that such a person who the Joint Statement calls a “Christian” can lose his salvation and the Arminian teaching that Christians can lose their salvation?

    The difference is that while the Joint Statement presents a picture of “temporary salvation”, Arminianism does not. Arminians don’t distinguish between “temporary salvation” and genuine salvation; on their view an individual moves back and forth between a singular conception of salvation. On the FV view an individual is either saved or “saved” with the former belonging to the elect (which can never be lost) and the latter belonging to a certain number of the reprobate (namely those who are covenant members). For the Arminian, the “reprobate” is a non-existent category.

    So, leaving aside the doctrine of election it is easy to think that FV and Arminianism are not different. Of course, leaving aside the doctrine of election and making such a declaration is also willful ignorance. That whole election thing is kind of important, I’d say.

  18. rfwhite said,

    January 22, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    As I try to avoid willful ignorance, isn’t it the case that on the FV view an individual is either elect or “elect”?

  19. Todd said,

    January 22, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    First of all, too much doctrine is being excised from parables and metaphors. Not a good idea. Those parables and metaphors are not written to bear the weight of such precise doctrinal questions. Go to the epistles for such.

    Secondly, Phil 2:12 is being taken out of context. The point is not for each Christian to keep working fearfully to prove or be assured that he or she is truly elect. The “you” is in the plural in v. 12 and 13; this is important! The context is the “one anothers” of Philippians 2, one anothers lived out in the community of believers. “Be of the same mind (1)” “do nothing from rivalry” (2), the imperative of v. 5ff., “do not murmur” (14). The idea is to live out our salvation with fear and trembling knowing God is among us in the community of saints; to live out our salvation in such a way as to honor the Lord in the way we love one another in the community where God is working in the hearts of his people.

    Todd

  20. pduggie said,

    January 22, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    “what’s the difference between saying that such a person who the Joint Statement calls a “Christian” can lose his salvation and the Arminian teaching that Christians can lose their salvation?”

    1. The person who looses covenant salvation in the calvinist scheme is predestined to do so. The person who looses eternal salvation in the arminian scheme is simply exercising free will.

    2. The person who looses covenant salvation in the Calvinist scheme looses all the aspects of salvation that he holds in common with the elect. The Philippian jailers HOUSE was saved that day, even if his kids later apostatized.

    Man is social, sins socially, and is saved socially as well as individually.

    The person who looses salvation in an Arminnian scheme doesn’t posit salvation aspects that are common and those that are special to the elect

  21. David Gadbois said,

    January 22, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    pduggie said The person who looses salvation in an Arminnian scheme doesn’t posit salvation aspects that are common and those that are special to the elect

    jared said So, leaving aside the doctrine of election it is easy to think that FV and Arminianism are not different. Of course, leaving aside the doctrine of election and making such a declaration is also willful ignorance. That whole election thing is kind of important, I’d say.

    So FV doesn’t make all of the mistakes that traditional Arminianism makes. Great for them. This still doesn’t make FV Reformed.

    No one is saying that FV *is* Arminianism. But it is legitimate for Lane to point out that certain FV teachings are Arminian doctrines. Both are functional rejections of the 5th Head of the Canons of Dordt. Romanists and Lutherans would also join the FV on this point – groups that also have threads of strong predestinarian theology in them. Simply pointing out differences between FV and Arminianism doesn’t get FV into the confessionally-Reformed category.

  22. David Gadbois said,

    January 22, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Mark Horne was quoted by Ron as saying God pours out his grace on many, including non-elect within the Covenant and Church. Making God look stingy with his blessings involves not knowing what Spirit one is following.

    Hmmm…what is worse, God being stingy or God being a a fickle Indian-giver?

  23. pduggie said,

    January 22, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    David: Does the fifth head mean that I have to assume that all Lutherans who reject Dordt are Carnally minded and not in the Bride?

  24. David Gray said,

    January 22, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    I think anyone who feels closer to Baptists than Lutherans should reconsider his commitment to the reformed understanding of Christianity.

  25. David Gadbois said,

    January 22, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    pduggie – no, Lutherans are in the visible church. But we don’t let Lutherans into our pulpits as confessionally Reformed churches, do we? Neither should we let these FV teachers.

    David Gray – at least Lutherans get justification and the law/gospel distinction right, unlike FV. So FV has much of the baggage and defects of Lutheranism, without any of its charms. How embarrassing.

  26. David Gray said,

    January 22, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    David Gadbois — I think my comment stands.

  27. Zrim said,

    January 22, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    (David Gray,

    I think anyone who feels closer to Baptists than Lutherans should reconsider his commitment to the reformed understanding of Christianity.

    I think you just indicted the larger balance of the Reformed/Presbyterian world. You should write a book and call it Recovering the Reformed Confession. If you do, would you please consider the question of why, if there can be a tradition called (credo) Baptists, there isn’t one called (paedo) Communionists?)

  28. David Gray said,

    January 22, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    >I think you just indicted the larger balance of the Reformed/Presbyterian world.

    I am comforted by having Calvin on my side.

  29. Zrim said,

    January 22, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    David Gray,

    Well, let’s just start with R. Scott Clark and see how far we get.

  30. jared said,

    January 22, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    rfwhite (#18),

    Not exactly. You see, it is possible to be “elect” and elect; such a one has been designated as EVCM. It is also possible to be “elect” and not elect; such a one has been designated NEVCM. So it isn’t necessarily an “either or” in the case of election. It is my understanding that the elect with the scare quotes (why do they call them that anyway?) refers to covenantal election which all covenantal members have. So one who is reprobate can be “elect” but not elect. And one who is elect cannot not be elect, and of course he is also “elect”. Is that too confusing? You know it’s not good theology unless it’s confusing…

    Todd (#19),

    You say,

    Those parables and metaphors are not written to bear the weight of such precise doctrinal questions. Go to the epistles for such.

    Sure they are; the epistles don’t teach anything different than the parables do.

    David Gadbois (#21),

    You say,

    No one is saying that FV *is* Arminianism. But it is legitimate for Lane to point out that certain FV teachings are Arminian doctrines. Both are functional rejections of the 5th Head of the Canons of Dordt. Romanists and Lutherans would also join the FV on this point – groups that also have threads of strong predestinarian theology in them. Simply pointing out differences between FV and Arminianism doesn’t get FV into the confessionally-Reformed category.

    The FV doesn’t functionally reject the “5th Head of the Canons of Dordt.” The 5th Head is where the rubber meets the road; it’s what primarily distinguishes those with true faith and those with false faith. I can agree that simply pointing out the differences between FV and Arminianism doesn’t get FV into the confessionally-Reformed category; but so far it hasn’t been shown (to my satisfaction at least) that the FV is outside that category, certainly not at the points where the majority of critics are saying it is outside.

  31. thomasgoodwin said,

    January 22, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    #24 – count me in as reconsidering!

  32. rfwhite said,

    January 22, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    30 jared, fair enough: on the FV view an individual (in the covenant community) is not necessarily either elect or “elect.” He may be “elect” and elect or “elect” and not elect. The point I sought to have you confirm is, as you say, “that whole election thing is kind of important.”

    Would you agree that “election” is revocable and that election is irrevocable?

  33. David Gadbois said,

    January 22, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    David Gray said I am comforted by having Calvin on my side.

    It doesn’t particularly comfort or impress me to have just about everyone claim Calvin for their ‘side’.

    I think my comment stands

    Your comment prompts the question, ‘who should I feel closer to?’ Very often I feel closer to Lutherans, what with me being aligned with those crypto-Lutherans at Westminster Seminary California and all.

    Jared said The 5th Head is where the rubber meets the road; it’s what primarily distinguishes those with true faith and those with false faith…so far it hasn’t been shown (to my satisfaction at least) that the FV is outside that category, certainly not at the points where the majority of critics are saying it is outside.

    Why don’t teachings found in the original AAPC conference, in the Federal Vision book, and the Knox Colloquium count?

    The 5th Head isn’t just about distinguishing true from false faith. It establishes the unique, irrevocable blessings that belong to those that are converted or born again.

  34. David Gray said,

    January 23, 2009 at 6:36 am

    >Very often I feel closer to Lutherans, what with me being aligned with those crypto-Lutherans at Westminster Seminary California and all.

    Good.

    You seem a bit tense…

  35. Pete Myers said,

    January 23, 2009 at 8:52 am

    There is such a thing as “covenantal election”. Pduggie and Jared have their fingers on the button, when they want to ensure that nobody denies that. They’re right I think, in identifying it as a Biblical category. However, what we understand by that category is the crucial point of discussion here.

    I suppose we may even be fine to use the terms “salvific” and “salvation” of that coventally elect category – as long as we had defined how we were using them. On all these things, I’m very happy to use these sorts of “FV” categories and labels.

    However… the problem is precisely that what these terms are being used to cover is:
    (a) unclear and different between different people.
    (b) often the terms seem to cover too much.

    As to the distinctions between different positions on what reprobates actually have in covenant with Christ… perhaps here’s a start on describing some of the different ways people are seeing this.

    We may not necessarily think these positions are coherent even in summary form, furthermore, this is just a crude first attempt – I’m just trying to see if I can articulate what the different things people believe actually are:

    1) Genuine forgiveness, and all the benefits of unity with Christ in every sense… except in the sense of having being “chosen in him” before the beginning of time.
    2) Genuine forgiveness, and all the benefits of unity with Christ in every sense, except not to the same extent or quality as the elect.
    3) Some sort of forgiveness which isn’t real forgiveness, and some sort of benefit of a union with Christ where they receive something from him that nourishes them in some way spiritually.
    4) Being part of a community that are outwardly treated like they are forgiven and alive in Christ, which has all sorts of great blessings in itself, but receiving no actual inward benefits – which is the real blessing.
    5) Being part of a community that are outwardly treated like they are forgiven and alive in Christ…. but the only benefits are the ones experienced by the truly decretally elect.

    Now, we’re talking about reprobate covenant members – people who are elect in a “covenantal” sense (and in only a covenantal sense) here.

    It seems as though the subscribers to the Joint Statement can take positions ranging from (1)-(3), I’m most of the “non-FV” people here would be at (4), and I know lot’s of people at (5), and I’m sure you do too.

    Now – here’s where lots of confusion seems to happen:

    – people at (1)-(3) look at people at (4), and they appear to be at (5) [I'm not saying whose fault this is... both overstatement and not listening properly are, I'm sure, involved on all sides at all times]
    – (1) is as close to Arminian as makes no odds.
    – people at (4) look at people at (2)-(3), and they appear to be at (1) [again, I'm not suggesting it's anyone's fault]
    – people at (5) get really really confused as they look down the line at (1)-(4) and can find it hard to distinguish the different positions.

    Now… my problem with the term “FV” is it covers (1)-(3) of the spectrum. I’m at (4). I really don’t like (1), I’m relatively uncomfortable with (2), but very relaxed about (3).

  36. Todd said,

    January 23, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Jared,

    Correct, the epistles teach the same as the parables, which means, according to the proper principle of interpretation, the clear always interprets the unclear. We don’t start with the parables for doctrine. The epistles interpret the parables, in other words. So show me in the epistles where someone can be “in Christ” according to Paul’s terminology, and then be not “in Christ?”

    Todd

    Todd

  37. rfwhite said,

    January 23, 2009 at 10:21 am

    35 Pete Myers, you comment, “There is such a thing as “covenantal election”. Pduggie and Jared have their fingers on the button, when they want to ensure that nobody denies that. They’re right I think, in identifying it as a Biblical category. However, what we understand by that category is the crucial point of discussion here.”

    From where I sit, Pete, there is a proviso that has to be attached to your observation that what we understand by “covenantal election” is the crucial point of discussion. That proviso is that one must believe that “covenantal election” is applicable without change throughout the history of God’s administration of the covenant of grace. Some of us here are willing to argue that it is applicable only with change. Here’s how I see it: the FV’s proposed continuity of “covenantal election” has its basis in a postulated continuity of national (a.k.a. covenantal) election from Israel to the Church. This version of covenantal/national election rightly identifies the continuity between the Church and Israel, but wrongly ignores the discontinuity between the two. The discontinuity turns on the basis of election. The Church’s election (identity as God’s elect nation) is based on Christ’s obedience; Israel’s election (identity as the elect nation) was not based in Christ’s obedience. For my money, then, here is the key point: covenantal election is revocable (dissoluble) only if its basis is something other than or in addition to Christ’s obedience.

  38. Sam Steinmann said,

    January 23, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Todd,

    I would recommend re-reading Romans, with especial attention to Chapter 11.

    But if some of the branches were broken off, and you,although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

  39. Todd said,

    January 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Sam,

    In the OT tree is not the same as being in Christ according to the New Testament. See # 37. My question still stands.

    Todd

  40. jared said,

    January 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    rfwhite (#32, 37)

    I think it’s fair to say that “election” is revocable (i.e., it can be lost via apostasy) while election cannot be revoked (or lost via apostasy). I see you play your point in you most recent comment. Can you show that Israel’s election was not based in Jesus’ obedience? What else could it be based in? It can’t be the Law since it was given to them after they were chosen.

    David Gadbois (#33),

    You say,

    Why don’t teachings found in the original AAPC conference, in the Federal Vision book, and the Knox Colloquium count?

    The 5th Head isn’t just about distinguishing true from false faith. It establishes the unique, irrevocable blessings that belong to those that are converted or born again.

    And FV says those unique, irrevocable blessings do belong to those that are converted or born again. In fact, they belong only and permanently to those who have been decretally elect. But not all who are converted or born again are decretally elect, so those unique blessings to not belong undifferentiated to the covenant community as a whole.

    Here, once again, is a perfect illustration of why it’s foolish to talk about the FV collectively. I can grant that what some FVer’s believe is functionally indistinguishable from Arminianism. But when you broadly state things like the FV rejects the 5th Head of Dordt you are unjustly mis-characterizing a fair number of individuals who, in fact, don’t reject it. You import the negative aspects of those who are wrong into the whole group. And if teachings have changed since the AAPC conference, the book or the colloquium then those changes need to be taken into consideration.

    Todd (#36),

    You say,

    Correct, the epistles teach the same as the parables, which means, according to the proper principle of interpretation, the clear always interprets the unclear. We don’t start with the parables for doctrine. The epistles interpret the parables, in other words. So show me in the epistles where someone can be “in Christ” according to Paul’s terminology, and then be not “in Christ?”

    The parables I used above are not unclear. The parable of the sower Jesus Himself explains (quite clearly and adequately, I think) and the vine metaphor isn’t exactly a parable or unclear either. As for the epistles, I don’t know why the warnings and the admonishments towards perseverance wouldn’t be enough to demonstrate by inference that it is possible to the “in Christ” and/or in Christ. The two-fold nature of the Church (visible and invisible), I believe, necessitates this distinction as well. With John I will somberly agree that those who leave were not of us, but they certainly were in us; that seems indisputable.

  41. rfwhite said,

    January 23, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    40 jared, in answer to your question, I would say that Israel’s national election is based on God’s oath-promise to obedient Abraham; see, e.g., Gen 22:16-18 with Deut 4:37-38; 7:6-8; 9:4-6; 10:14-15. The Church’s national election is based on God’s oath-promise to the obedient Seed who is greater than Abraham (cf., e.g., Heb 7:4-10, 20-22, 28; 8:6).

  42. Ron Henzel said,

    January 23, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Jared,

    You wrote in #17:

    Perhaps it would be beneficial to distinguish between salvific benefits and spiritual benefits?

    Beneficial to whom? Not to the FV! I haven’t found this particular bifurcation of blessings in Federal Vision theology. As I read, for example, Wilkins and Barach, they seem to have emphatically gone on record as arguing that “non-elect covenant members” receive the same salvation benefits that elect covenant members receive, they just do not receive them permanently.

    It seems logical to me that the reason for this is that it’s difficult to think of a single spiritual benefit that is not presented in Scripture as a benefit of salvation. Can you name one? Isn’t forgiveness a salvific benefit? Are not justification, sanctification, and so on, salvific benefits? Practically the only benefits I see the FV withholding from “non-elect covenant members” are (1) perseverance, and (2) being part of the elect.

    Even if we can speak of various benefits that accrue to the non-elect as the result of God’s covenant with the elect, to what extent can they be called “spiritual” in a legitimately biblical sense? I certainly don’t see Paul in any sense applying the word “spiritual” to anyone who does not possess salvation.

    That is why, I think, that instead of drawing the line between spiritual and salvific benefits, the FV has chosen to draw the line between temporary and permanent salvation. If we fight the battle on some front other than the one where the FV is launching its assault we’ll be wasting our time.

    You wrote:

    I am not, here, intending to imply that you don’t know what a salvific benefit is. Life in the covenant is necessarily (and always) spiritual life but it is not necessarily salvific life.

    Once again, I think this begs the question of how it is scripturally possible to have anything remotely resembling “spiritual life” without being saved. Reformed theology declares that we are spiritually dead until we receive salvific life.

    This seems obviously so given the parable of the sower and the vine metaphor.

    I don’t think it’s obvious at all. Rather it seems supremely obvious to me that in both illustrations the test of true spiritual life is the bearing of fruit, in keeping with similar Old Testament illustrations (Isaiah 5 comes to mind).

    In any case, illustrations are never meant to stand on all fours, and just as narrative passages should be interpreted in the light of didactic passages, figurative didactic passages should be interpreted in light of non-figurative didactic passages. To follow this rule we would have to talk about non-figurative didactic passages which teach that unsaved people receive spiritual blessings. But, as I explained above, I don’t think finding such verses will address the actual position of the FV.

    That the apostate’s union with Jesus is not merely external should be incentive for us to work out our salvation in order that we can be proven true as evidenced by our remaining in Him.

    If I believed that, I go back to being a Roman Catholic.

    The difference is that while the Joint Statement presents a picture of “temporary salvation”, Arminianism does not.

    Huh? Are we talking about the same doctrine that was originally propounded by Jakob Harmenszoon (a.k.a. Arminius), defended by the Remonstrants, and later advocated by John Wesley, et. al.? How can a theology that teaches that true salvation can be lost not be teaching temporary salvation?

    Arminians don’t distinguish between “temporary salvation” and genuine salvation; on their view an individual moves back and forth between a singular conception of salvation.

    Based on some things I’ve read by Baruch and Wilkins, it seems that neither do some FV people distinguish between temporary and genuine salvation. Who are the ones that do? But even if others in the FV do make such a distinction, where do we find in Scripture such a dualistic concept of salvation?

    On the FV view an individual is either saved or “saved” with the former belonging to the elect (which can never be lost) and the latter belonging to a certain number of the reprobate (namely those who are covenant members).

    Hence Mark Horne’s totally lame argument that Scripture is not univocal in its references to (spiritual) salvation.

    For the Arminian, the “reprobate” is a non-existent category.

    If you define “reprobate” as those who have been chosen from all eternity to be lost, you are correct. But I think it’s less conducive to misunderstanding (especially on the part of Arminians) to say that in Arminianism people themselves choose to be reprobate just as they choose to be saved.

    So, leaving aside the doctrine of election it is easy to think that FV and Arminianism are not different. Of course, leaving aside the doctrine of election and making such a declaration is also willful ignorance. That whole election thing is kind of important, I’d say.

    I think that the doctrine of election is a red herring. If all you’re trying to prove is that the FV is not Arminiamism, fine. I never intended to communicate that the FV is identical to Arminianism. I only said, in comment 13, that there’s no difference between the Arminian doctrine that Christians can lose their salvation and the FV doctrine that says the same thing. The only difference of which I am aware between a Christian who will ultimately lose his salvation in the Arminian scheme and the same person in the FV scheme is their status in the eternal decrees of God (or lack thereof). The FV and Arminianism still essentially share the tenet that Christians can and do lose their salvation.

    So again, I ask: what’s the difference?

  43. pduggie said,

    January 23, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    “The Church’s election (identity as God’s elect nation) is based on Christ’s obedience; Israel’s election (identity as the elect nation) was not based in Christ’s obedience. For my money, then, here is the key point: covenantal election is revocable (dissoluble) only if its basis is something other than or in addition to Christ’s obedience.”

    Thats an interesting distinction.

    I’d tend to agree. For the Church as a body, her covenant election IS irrevocable as a body: the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The participation of individuals in that covenant election is revocable.

    I’m not sure how you can deny that Israel’s national election was unconnected to Christ. I wonder what it was based in if not. God is at pains to tell Israel that its not because of her own greatness she was chosen.

    It would be good to define what we mean by “saved”.

    I’m familiar with the phrase “I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved…”

    I think what I want to emphasize is that the first part of that “I am saved” is NOT simply or merely a reflection of the truth about “I will be saved”. I don’t merely posses the attribute “saved” because of a future possession of the attribute “saved”

    There is a present shared attribute “saved” that the elect nation possesses(all of Israel was SPIRITUALLY baptized as the NC church was), but some fell in the wilderness because of unbelief.

    Some will fall from their present status of “saved” because of unbelief.

    if you stopped having faith in Jesus, you wouldn’t be saved any longer, right? Don’t we all agree with that?

  44. rfwhite said,

    January 23, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    42 Ron Henzel, I wonder if that doctrine is more than a red herring in this sense: the FV doctrine of apostasy is organically related to their doctrine of national (covenantal) election (i.e., apostates are the covenantally elect who become reprobate). If one presumes that election is decretal and unconditional, the FV and the Arminians are different. If one presumes that election is covenantal-national and conditional, the FV and the Arminians are similar, though not the same. The election that Jared mentions in 17 is decretal and unconditional, as we’d all appreciate.

  45. rfwhite said,

    January 23, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    43 pduggie, the reasons I deny that Israel’s national election was based on Christ’s obedience include the Scriptures I cited in 41. I deny that the elect nation of the NC is able to fall from their present status of salvation; rather they will persevere to the end and will be finally saved. The elect nation is not coextensive with the visible church.

  46. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Re 36 & 39:

    Rom. 6:3: as many as have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death…

    In this passage there is some way in which one can be in Christ, and yet not be elect.

    Plus, the tree of Rom. 11 is Christ: it is the true Israel, the true people of God. The tree is not national Israel, since Gentiles in the NT era are said to be grafted into that olive tree…but Gentiles were certainly not grafted into national Israel.

    Re #42:

    There is a category of spiritual blessings that are not salvific: Heb. 6:4 makes it clear that it is possible for the reprobate to share in the Holy Spirit (and the confession agrees, referring to the “common operations of the Spirit” in 10.4). So, if spiritual means “from the Spirit,” or “pertaining to the spirit,” then there are clearly spiritual benefits that are not salvific. If you want to redefine “spiritual” to mean “salvific” co-terminously, then that’s your business.

  47. jared said,

    January 23, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    rfwhite (#41),

    If the basis for Israel’s election is God’s promise to Abraham and the basis for the Church’s election is God’s promise to Jesus, how do you maintain a bi-covenantal structure? Would there not, then, be three covenants: pre-fall Adam’s, post-fall Adam’s (or Abraham’s) and Jesus’? Besides this, how would a different basis imply that election functions differently? Under the Old Covenant one could be an Israelite (i.e. “elect”) and not be of Israel (i.e. elect). Is this not the same as in the New Covenant?

    Ron Henzel (#42),

    You say,

    That is why, I think, that instead of drawing the line between spiritual and salvific benefits, the FV has chosen to draw the line between temporary and permanent salvation. If we fight the battle on some front other than the one where the FV is launching its assault we’ll be wasting our time.

    If you say so. I’m not going to go through the spiritual benefits of NEVCM’s again, it’s been covered several times (and not just by me) before in other posts. I’m willing to give the FV a line between temporary salvation and permanent salvation; I don’t see it harming Reformed theology at any point. You say,

    Once again, I think this begs the question of how it is scripturally possible to have anything remotely resembling “spiritual life” without being saved. Reformed theology declares that we are spiritually dead until we receive salvific life.

    Well God forbid we progress in knowledge and theological understanding! Here we’ll stand, for we can do no less (or something to that effect). I think the parable of the sower makes it quite clear that there are seeds which grow but don’t get to blossom fully because of one thing or another. If growth isn’t evidence of something resembling life then I don’t know what is. Maybe it’s like that time when Jesus said “I never knew you” but really we all know that Jesus knew them better than they knew themselves? So, the seeds just look like they’re growing but really they aren’t. I think I’ll take Scripture’s way instead of yours (even if yours is Reformed). You say,

    Huh? Are we talking about the same doctrine that was originally propounded by Jakob Harmenszoon (a.k.a. Arminius), defended by the Remonstrants, and later advocated by John Wesley, et. al.? How can a theology that teaches that true salvation can be lost not be teaching temporary salvation?

    Do I really have to explain this? Really? Arminianism conceives of true salvation in a way that is significantly different than the Reformed way; namely that it can be lost. The FV doesn’t teach that true salvation (i.e. permanent salvation) can be lost. In other words, FV’s “temporary salvation” is not the same concept/category as Arminian’s “true salvation”. You say,

    Based on some things I’ve read by Baruch and Wilkins, it seems that neither do some FV people distinguish between temporary and genuine salvation. Who are the ones that do? But even if others in the FV do make such a distinction, where do we find in Scripture such a dualistic concept of salvation?

    As ultimate categories every individual who signed the Joint Statement distinguishes between a temporary salvation and genuine salvation, though they may not use those particular terms. The very section Lane is “analyzing” says as much, “The decretally elect cannot apostatize.” Those who do apostatize from the covenant body (from covenantal election, as it were) are the ones who received temporary salvation. According to some FVer’s it is a salvation that is essentially identical to genuine salvation except for duration (and all that that exception implies). Clearly, though, such is a distinction even if it is not at the point where we would like them to draw it.

    I’m not sure how this concept of salvation is “dualistic” but perhaps your understanding of what “dualistic” means is different from mine. I understand dualism as basically referring to a single element/concept/entity with two natures (e.g. man being composed of body and soul/spirit). Scripture doesn’t present a dualistic conception of salvation, and I don’t think FV theology teaches a dualistic conception of salvation. In other words, salvation isn’t composed of “temporary” and “permanent/genuine” natures. Rather, there is one concept of temporary salvation and another, different, concept of permanent/genuine salvation (and there may be more differentiations than just these). You say,

    If you define “reprobate” as those who have been chosen from all eternity to be lost, you are correct. But I think it’s less conducive to misunderstanding (especially on the part of Arminians) to say that in Arminianism people themselves choose to be reprobate just as they choose to be saved.

    I was defining reprobate as those who have been chosen from all eternity to be lost, but I can agree with (or concede to) you that Arminians believe one chooses to be reprobate just as they believe one chooses to be saved (that has been my understanding of Arminianism). However, my point was that this isn’t how FV works; here, as in many (many) places, they are different. I think this difference (along with the other differences) is in large part due to the fact that Arminianism isn’t Reformed and the FV is (or at least was wrought from it). In response to your last paragraph and question, I think this has already been adequately addressed. Maybe not to your satisfaction, but I suppose that’s the thing about being a jaded critic. Forgive me if you aren’t, but it seems to me that there are several regulars here that are.

    pduggie (#43),

    You say,

    If you stopped having faith in Jesus, you wouldn’t be saved any longer, right? Don’t we all agree with that?

    I think the FV-critics are wanting to say that you were never saved in the first place, not that you are no longer saved. At least, that’s how I always thought of it (until recently).

    Joshua (#46),

    Thanks for the help, brother.

  48. Ron Henzel said,

    January 24, 2009 at 8:03 am

    jared,

    You wrote:

    If you say so. I’m not going to go through the spiritual benefits of NEVCM’s again, it’s been covered several times (and not just by me) before in other posts.

    Fine. But just to summarize: the FV teaches that “non-elect covenant members” share “every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” with the elect (Barach, “Covenant and Election” in The Federal Vision, 28). According to Ephesians 1, from which Barach cites, that would mean that reprobate church members enjoy “election, adoption, justification, forgiveness of sins, sanctification, regeneration, possession of the Kingdom, and so forth,” as the PCA Ad Interim Study Committee’s report pointed out (2231). So let’s not gloss over this point: the FV believes and teaches that true Christians who have true salvation can lose it and find themselves ultimately reprobated.

    You wrote:

    I’m willing to give the FV a line between temporary salvation and permanent salvation; I don’t see it harming Reformed theology at any point.

    And you consider yourself Reformed?

    Regarding my presentation of the parable of the sower and John 15 as defining true spiritual life in terms of bearing fruit for God, you wrote:

    Well God forbid we progress in knowledge and theological understanding!

    I’m sorry you’re so opposed to such progress. I was trying to show you that you and the FV simply misinterpret those passages of Scripture as teaching that any kind of growth or reproduction constitutes “spiritual life.” They do not; rather, they limit true spiritual life to fruit-bearing.

    Here we’ll stand, for we can do no less (or something to that effect).

    All cheap imitations of Luther aside, you then repeated your misinterpretation:

    I think the parable of the sower makes it quite clear that there are seeds which grow but don’t get to blossom fully because of one thing or another. If growth isn’t evidence of something resembling life then I don’t know what is.

    You are very correct. growth is “evidence of something resembling life.” I could not have stated it better myself. But it is not life itself. True spiritual life always results in the bearing of true spiritual fruit. As Calvin pointed out in his exposition of John 15:2 “…that many are reckoned by men’s opinions to be in the vine who in fact have no root in the vine.” And, as he elaborates on verse 6, “But there are many hypocrites who apparently flourish and are green for a time, but who afterwards, when they should yield fruit, disappoint the Lord’s hope.” Sin, error, and false spirituality are also portrayed in Scripture as exhibiting “signs of life.” “A little leaven leavens the whole lump,” etc. That doesn’t mean they have true spiritual life before God. In the case of the leaven, it bears “fruit,” alright, but it’s evil fruit.

    Maybe it’s like that time when Jesus said “I never knew you” but really we all know that Jesus knew them better than they knew themselves?

    No, I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s anything like that. Sorry.

    So, the seeds just look like they’re growing but really they aren’t. I think I’ll take Scripture’s way instead of yours (even if yours is Reformed).

    Uh, let’s move on…

    I challenged your assertion that Arminianism does not teach a “temporary salvation” comparable to that which the FV teaches, and you wrote:

    Do I really have to explain this? Really? Arminianism conceives of true salvation in a way that is significantly different than the Reformed way; namely that it can be lost.

    But that’s totally unrelated to the context of my statement. The subject was not the difference between Arminianism and Reformed theology, but between Arminianism and the FV (which, as we all know, is not Reformed theology). I was contradicting your assertion that “…while the Joint Statement presents a picture of ‘temporary salvation’, Arminianism does not,” because you are totally wrong on that point. (Please do not presume to lecture me on the nature of Arminianism. From the looks of your avatar, I think I’m not too far off when I say that I purchased my copy of the Arminius’s works and began reading it when you were still in diapers, or perhaps pre-K. It was about 20 to 25 years ago or so…but then again, Mark Horne uses his kindergarten picture as his avatar, so perhaps you’re not that young…)

    But then you seem to get back on track when you essentially repeat your previous assertion:

    The FV doesn’t teach that true salvation (i.e. permanent salvation) can be lost. In other words, FV’s “temporary salvation” is not the same concept/category as Arminian’s “true salvation”.

    I think you are deeply mistaken when you posit a distinction between “true salvation” and “permanent salvation” in FV theology. But I am open to correction. Please show me where they do that, keeping in mind that I have come across references in their own literature where they equate “true salvation” with “temporary salvation.”

    In response to my previous request that you show me where the FV distinguishes between temporary and genuine salvation—along with asking you where we find such a dualistic concept in Scripture—you wrote:

    As ultimate categories every individual who signed the Joint Statement distinguishes between a temporary salvation and genuine salvation, though they may not use those particular terms. The very section Lane is “analyzing” says as much, “The decretally elect cannot apostatize.” Those who do apostatize from the covenant body (from covenantal election, as it were) are the ones who received temporary salvation. According to some FVer’s it is a salvation that is essentially identical to genuine salvation except for duration (and all that that exception implies). Clearly, though, such is a distinction even if it is not at the point where we would like them to draw it.

    OK, it seems to me that you have just proven my point: temporary salvation “is a salvation that is essentially identical to genuine salvation except for duration,” except I do not believe a true FV proponent would have used the word “genuine” in this formula. Instead, they would have said, “Temporary salvation is a salvation that is essentially identical to eternal salvation except for duration.” I do not believe they think temporary salvation is anything less than genuine salvation that only endures for a season. If I’m wrong on this, you’ll have to show me.

    Then you wrote:

    I’m not sure how this concept of salvation is “dualistic” but perhaps your understanding of what “dualistic” means is different from mine. I understand dualism as basically referring to a single element/concept/entity with two natures (e.g. man being composed of body and soul/spirit).

    This is pretty much the opposite of what most theologians mean when they refer to “dualism.” As Paul Helm explained, “A dualism exists when there are two substances, or powers, or modes, neither of which is reducible to the other. Dualism is to be distinguished from monism, according to which there is only one substance, power or mode” (New Dictionary of Theology, Ferguson, Wright, and Packer, eds., 210). What you describe sounds more like a form of monism.

    Then you write:

    Scripture doesn’t present a dualistic conception of salvation, and I don’t think FV theology teaches a dualistic conception of salvation. In other words, salvation isn’t composed of “temporary” and “permanent/genuine” natures. Rather, there is one concept of temporary salvation and another, different, concept of permanent/genuine salvation (and there may be more differentiations than just these).

    I can see where the confusion is coming in here, and now that I think about it, I should have steered clear of the word “dualism,” although not for the reasons you put forth. I agree that Scripture does not teach a dualistic concept of salvation (otherwise why would I have asked my rhetorical question in comment 42?), but the dualism I was contemplating with regard to FV soteriology was their tempoary salvation/permanent salvation dualism. While I don’t think it’s wrong to call this a “dualism” of sorts, it is a dualism limited to the adjectives “temporary” and “permanent,” and this limitation can obscure the fact that the FV strongly asserts that temporary and permanent salvation are identical to each other in substance. They are the same thing; one just lasts longer than the other.

    So perhaps I should have instead asked, “Where do we find this bifurcation in Scripture?” Precisely where do we find the Scriptures extending a “temporary salvation” to all non-elect-but-baptized members of the visible church? The answer is, I am quite confident, that we do not.

    This is not an exegetical conclusion, but a theological construct of the FV based on a corrupt hermeneutical method. They begin by assuming that any passage addressed to the whole church is intended to include the hypocrites in their midsts, despite the fact that the epistles go out of their way to address the “saints” and those who have faith in Christ, and then they feel free to apply anything said about true believers in those Scriptures to the non-elect. It’s really that simple—and that stupid.

    You wrote:

    I was defining reprobate as those who have been chosen from all eternity to be lost, but I can agree with (or concede to) you that Arminians believe one chooses to be reprobate just as they believe one chooses to be saved (that has been my understanding of Arminianism). However, my point was that this isn’t how FV works; here, as in many (many) places, they are different. I think this difference (along with the other differences) is in large part due to the fact that Arminianism isn’t Reformed and the FV is (or at least was wrought from it). In response to your last paragraph and question, I think this has already been adequately addressed. Maybe not to your satisfaction, but I suppose that’s the thing about being a jaded critic. Forgive me if you aren’t, but it seems to me that there are several regulars here that are.

    Hmmm…”a jaded critic…”

    jaded
    1 : fatigued by overwork : exhausted
    2 : made dull, apathetic, or cynical by experience or by surfeit

    And, of course, we all know that “surfeit” in this case refers to the disgust caused by excess…

    But given all that I and others here have read from FV authors (and it’s been plenty), why would anyone consider us to be “jaded” critics of the FV? Do you think we can be so easily exhausted by their incessant, faucet-dripping, special-pleading, theologically-ignorant, confessionally-impaired, windmill-thrusting attacks on the Reformed faith? Do you think we have perhaps become a little cynical due to excessive exposure to their presumptuous prose?

    I don’t get it.

  49. Ron Henzel said,

    January 24, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Sorry I goofed up the formatting on the last post. I think you can follow it, though.

  50. Ron Henzel said,

    January 24, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Dr. White,

    You wrote:

    I wonder if that doctrine [election] is more than a red herring in this sense: the FV doctrine of apostasy is organically related to their doctrine of national (covenantal) election (i.e., apostates are the covenantally elect who become reprobate).

    If I understand what you’re saying here (and I’m not sure I do), it’s that just as the FV bifurcates between temporary and eternal salvation, so also they bifurcate between covenantal and decretal election, with the former identified with everyone in the visible church, and the latter identified with only those who ultimately enjoy eternal salvation. Thus, because they have come up with what seems to be a new category of election in order to prop up their doctrine of apostasy, we need to address their doctrine of election when addressing their doctrine of apostasy.

    I have no problem with that if the task is to analyze the FV as an organic whole, in which case we would also have to address their doctrine of the sacraments as well. But my task here has been more limited: to demonstrate the similarities between the Arminian and FV doctrines of apostasy. I don’t think that the similarity of a single doctrine can be invalidated on the basis of other dissimilarities between the two systems, even when that single doctrine appears in a different theological context in one system than it does in another, as Jared is apparently trying to argue.

    If one presumes that election is decretal and unconditional, the FV and the Arminians are different. If one presumes that election is covenantal-national and conditional, the FV and the Arminians are similar, though not the same.

    I’m not sure I understand the “one” to whom you refer as doing the presuming in these sentences. I’m also not sure if you’re referring to two different kinds of election—perhaps election to eternal life in the first sentence and the FV’s so-called “covenantal election” in the second?

    The election that Jared mentions in 17 is decretal and unconditional, as we’d all appreciate.

    Yes, but it appears to me that the reason Jared inserts election into this discussion is to prove that the FV is not Arminianism, something which we all freely concede. There are many differences between the FV and Arminianism.

    But while I’m not saying that the FV is Arminian, I am saying that the FV’s teaching that truly saved Christians can lose their salvation is virtually identical in every meaningful respect to the version held by Arminians. In both cases you have people who have all the blessings of salvation in Christ and lose it. I don’t see any difference on that point.

  51. rfwhite said,

    January 24, 2009 at 10:49 am

    47 Jared, referring back to my comments in 41,

    You ask, “If the basis for Israel’s election is God’s promise to Abraham and the basis for the Church’s election is God’s promise to Jesus, how do you maintain a bi-covenantal structure? Would there not, then, be three covenants: pre-fall Adam’s, post-fall Adam’s (or Abraham’s) and Jesus’?”

    My answer: The bi-covenantal structure is maintained because the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant are two of the historical administrations of the one covenant of grace.

    You ask, “Besides this, how would a different basis imply that election functions differently?

    My answer: A different basis implies that election functions differently because the blessings and curses that God dispenses to certain representatives and their seeds are dispensed according to the representative’s obedience or disobedience. For the obedience of the representative God appoints the representative’s seed to a state of blessing; for the disobedience of the representative God appoints that seed to a state of curse. As the Biblical record shows, the representative’s disobedience brings the division of his seed into both blessed and cursed (see Adam, Noah, Abraham, and David). Only Christ, because of His perpetual, perfect obedience, secures blessings for all the seed that God gives Him.

    You say, “Under the Old Covenant one could be an Israelite (i.e. “elect”) and not be of Israel (i.e. elect). Is this not the same as in the New Covenant?”

    My answer: No, it is not the same in the new covenant. Under the old covenant, identification as “elect” (covenantally-nationally elect) was based on something other than Christ’s obedience. For the same to be true under the new covenant, identification as “elect” (covenantally-nationally elect) would have to mean that election is based on something other than or in addition to Christ’s obedience.

  52. rfwhite said,

    January 24, 2009 at 11:16 am

    50 Ron Henzel, at bottom, we don’t disagree. So as not to distract others with our discussion, I’ll shoot you a note offline.

  53. Reed Here said,

    January 24, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    All:

    I’ve been away for a few days at a conference. Let me note my appreciation to you and gratefulness to Christ for how well this discussion has been handled. You’ve been debating the serious things (again), with serious give and take (again), with serious language (again), and have shown a level of civility and respectfulness that does credit to our claim to Christ’s name.

    Well done brothers. God be praised.

  54. rfwhite said,

    January 24, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    47 Jared,

    As I understand it, FV advocates urge that the covenantal (national) election of Israel applies to the Church, such that we should say that as Israel was covenantally elect, so the Church is covenantally elect. Is this correct?

    You say, “Those who do apostatize from the covenant body (from covenantal election, as it were) are the ones who received temporary salvation.” In this statement, you connect apostasy, covenantal election, and temporary salvation.

    Question: Would you say that covenantal election before Christ was the same as covenantal election after Christ? In other words, would you count those Israelites who apostatized from the covenant body (from covenantal election, as it were) among those who received temporary salvation?

    Question: What biblical evidence would you cite to support your conclusion that Israelites who apostatized from the covenant body (from covenantal election, as it were) are among those who received temporary salvation?

  55. Lauren Kuo said,

    January 24, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    How can God who is eternal and faithful and true be so capricious as to offer temporary salvation? This idea of a half baked salvation seems to me to be more in line with the character of Satan who disguises himself as an angel of light. I am convinced from what the Bible says that every true believer will never be an apostate. The good Shepherd will never lose any one of his sheep.

    I love the words of the Heidelberg Catechism:
    “Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me whole-heartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”

  56. David Gadbois said,

    January 24, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Joshua said

    Rom. 6:3: as many as have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death…

    In this passage there is some way in which one can be in Christ, and yet not be elect.

    So many FV errors stem from such basic failures in reading the text of Scripture. If you actually read two more verses after Romans 6:3, you’ll come to 6:5 which says that this same group who have been baptized into Christ “will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” Needless to say, this cannot be in reference to the non-elect.

  57. Lauren Kuo said,

    January 24, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Jared, can I ask you a question? In a previous post, you stated that you do not hold the views of the Federal Vision. If that is true, why do you seem to so passionately defend a view that you yourself do not believe in or embrace? That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

  58. David Gadbois said,

    January 24, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Jared said And FV says those unique, irrevocable blessings do belong to those that are converted or born again. In fact, they belong only and permanently to those who have been decretally elect. But not all who are converted or born again are decretally elect, so those unique blessings to not belong undifferentiated to the covenant community as a whole.

    Read that last sentence again. CoD specifically say that those converted and born again WILL persevere and are therefore elect.

    It seems to me that FV reduces the Fifth Head to ‘Perseverance of the Elect’, a trivial tautology if ever there was one. But that’s not what it is, it is Perseverance of the SAINTS. You can’t be a saint one day, and the next day not be a saint. Regeneration/new birth and justification are not revocable gifts (RE 3 & 8). This demonstrates an incredibly low view of the efficacy of Christ’s merits and work of mediation (Article 8).

  59. jared said,

    January 24, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Ron Henzel (#48),

    I’m going to keep my responses to you brief because it seems clear that you don’t wish for me to contribute to your cynicism and I don’t feel like wasting my time doing so. You say,

    Fine. But just to summarize: the FV teaches that “non-elect covenant members” share “every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” with the elect (Barach, “Covenant and Election” in The Federal Vision, 28). According to Ephesians 1, from which Barach cites, that would mean that reprobate church members enjoy “election, adoption, justification, forgiveness of sins, sanctification, regeneration, possession of the Kingdom, and so forth,” as the PCA Ad Interim Study Committee’s report pointed out (2231). So let’s not gloss over this point: the FV believes and teaches that true Christians who have true salvation can lose it and find themselves ultimately reprobated.

    Sorry, I disagree. Barach (and a few others) may teach that the non-elect receives every spiritual blessing in heaven, but you simply cannot pin that to the FV as a whole. You say,

    And you consider yourself Reformed?

    Quite. You say,

    I was trying to show you that you and the FV simply misinterpret those passages of Scripture as teaching that any kind of growth or reproduction constitutes “spiritual life.” They do not; rather, they limit true spiritual life to fruit-bearing.

    I sympathize with you to a point, here, because I agree with you that true spiritual life is fruit-bearing. So while I would say that those seeds which grow but don’t make it to the harvest have spiritual life, I would want to qualify it by saying it’s a false spiritual life (they have a false salvation, a false hope, a false faith). It really is spiritual, just not in the right way. You say,

    But that’s totally unrelated to the context of my statement. The subject was not the difference between Arminianism and Reformed theology, but between Arminianism and the FV (which, as we all know, is not Reformed theology). I was contradicting your assertion that “…while the Joint Statement presents a picture of ‘temporary salvation’, Arminianism does not,” because you are totally wrong on that point. (Please do not presume to lecture me on the nature of Arminianism. From the looks of your avatar, I think I’m not too far off when I say that I purchased my copy of the Arminius’s works and began reading it when you were still in diapers, or perhaps pre-K. It was about 20 to 25 years ago or so…but then again, Mark Horne uses his kindergarten picture as his avatar, so perhaps you’re not that young…)

    Yes, I’m 28 years old and clearly I am in no position, here, to carry on such a theological discussion. So I wont. You say,

    I think you are deeply mistaken when you posit a distinction between “true salvation” and “permanent salvation” in FV theology. But I am open to correction. Please show me where they do that, keeping in mind that I have come across references in their own literature where they equate “true salvation” with “temporary salvation.”

    I was not intending to posit a distinction between “true salvation” and “permanent salvation”. I was trying to distinguish between true salvation, which is genuine and permanent, from false salvation which is insincere and temporary. It is my understanding (and you can correct me if I’m wrong) that Arminianism does not have a concept/category of “false salvation” nor can such a concept/category be deduced from its systematic theology. You say,

    This is pretty much the opposite of what most theologians mean when they refer to “dualism.” As Paul Helm explained, “A dualism exists when there are two substances, or powers, or modes, neither of which is reducible to the other. Dualism is to be distinguished from monism, according to which there is only one substance, power or mode” (New Dictionary of Theology, Ferguson, Wright, and Packer, eds., 210). What you describe sounds more like a form of monism.

    I don’t think that’s a very helpful definition of dualism (or monism), theologically or philosophically. I’m not saying Paul Helm is wrong, just that this particular quote isn’t helpful as far as defining what “dualistic” means (which is odd given his strong philosophical background). Even so, I’m pretty sure I basically said a dualism is something that is divided into two parts (or natures). I’m not entirely sure how you were able to construe that as monism; I even gave an example! Man (the “something”) is composed of two parts, body and soul/spirit (the two parts or natures). Anyway, you say,

    …it is a dualism limited to the adjectives “temporary” and “permanent,” and this limitation can obscure the fact that the FV strongly asserts that temporary and permanent salvation are identical to each other in substance. They are the same thing; one just lasts longer than the other.

    I don’t think this can be pinned to the FV as a whole, though I do agree that some are saying what you say they are saying. And as many are also mistaken, I believe. You continue,

    So perhaps I should have instead asked, “Where do we find this bifurcation in Scripture?” Precisely where do we find the Scriptures extending a “temporary salvation” to all non-elect-but-baptized members of the visible church? The answer is, I am quite confident, that we do not.

    I’d say we find this bifurcation in the same places where we identify the distinctions of “visible” and “invisible” in reference to the Church. All the while we (and I) have been saying “they weren’t really saved to begin with because if they were, like John says, they would have remained” but I think the FV way (as I understand it) is more accurate. In other words, I’d replace “really” with “truly” (or eternally, or genuinely, or permanently; pick your flavor). This isn’t something that needs to be cried “Wolf!” about. You conclude,

    But given all that I and others here have read from FV authors (and it’s been plenty), why would anyone consider us to be “jaded” critics of the FV? Do you think we can be so easily exhausted by their incessant, faucet-dripping, special-pleading, theologically-ignorant, confessionally-impaired, windmill-thrusting attacks on the Reformed faith? Do you think we have perhaps become a little cynical due to excessive exposure to their presumptuous prose?

    Touché, I suppose.

    rfwhite,

    I’ll get to your comments sometime tomorrow (or Monday, depending). I think I’m too young and naive(?) for the likes of Mr. Henzel, so perhaps we can continue fairing a little better.

    Lauren Kuo (#57),

    Because the FV are being called wolves and they are not. Forgive me for trying to defend my brother’s honor even if I don’t agree with him at every point.

    David Gadbois (#58),

    First, The CoD weren’t written with FV categories and terminology in mind. Second, the CoD don’t say that all those converted and born again “WILL” persevere; there’s probably a reason for that. Third, the category of “SAINTS” as the CoD uses it refers only to those who are decretally elect and, to that extent, it is a “trivial” tautology. FV advocates don’t speak only in decretal terms, so “saints” on their account are “all visible church members” rather than (per the CoD) “all invisible church members”.

  60. David Gadbois said,

    January 24, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Second, the CoD don’t say that all those converted and born again “WILL” persevere; there’s probably a reason for that.

    Wrong. Just because they text doesn’t use the term ‘all’ does not mean that the door is open to logically understanding the text as meaning ‘some.’ Just the opposite – the CoD state that “those who have been converted” (group A) are mercifully strengthened by God’s grace unto perseverance (B). If you belong to group A, then B follows. This is buttressed by the 3rd and 8th Rejection of Errors of the 5th Head. Your evasion of this is sophistry, and not even particularly good sophistry at that.

    Not to mention the fact that the efficacy of Christ’s work and the doctrine of limited atonement must be chucked if it is the case that regeneration and justification are revoked.

    Third, the category of “SAINTS” as the CoD uses it refers only to those who are decretally elect and, to that extent, it is a “trivial” tautology

    Wrong again. And not just because I don’t believe the CoD was written to dogmatize trivial tautologies. The category of sainthood implies more than simply decretal election, but also entails ordo salutis benefits. Since they are not interchangable, it is not trivial at all.

  61. Ron Henzel said,

    January 25, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Jared,

    I realize we’re not making any progress, but I don’t think it helps to resort to name calling. Some anonymous person once said, “Cynics regarded everybody as equally corrupt. Idealists regarded everybody as equally corrupt, except themselves.”

    To be cynical is to be “contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives,” and/or “based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest” (Merriam-Websters). I do not think I have written anything here to even imply that the FV is taking the positions it does out of improper or otherwise selfish motives. As far as I can see, all of our exchanges have focused on a disagreement over what the FV explicitly teaches. I say it teaches one thing, and you disagree. Since now you choose to begin your argument by slapping a label on me, I see it’s time to move on.

  62. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 25, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Jared, I have some questions, if I may.

    (1) Up in #12, you say,

    I think FV is less concerned with “kind” of grace than they are that it is grace from which one is apostatizing. To wit, common grace and special grace are both “real” grace. If the FV did (or does) call it covenantal grace I should think, then, that they would want to describe that grace as “real” too. I’m not entirely sure why it is unclear that the grace from which one falls does not save.

    What’s the prize? What is to be gained in seeking to be more precise about our theology of apostasy and non-decretally-elect covenant members?

    (2) In John 15, the “one who does not abide in me” is spoken of generally, but there is a specific person in view as well: Judas Iscariot, who has just left the gathering in order to betray Jesus. In this discourse, Jesus says of his apostles, “you are clean, but not all of you” — referring specifically to Judas.

    Would you agree or disagree that Jesus is denying that Judas is justified in any sense? And if so, could this modify our understanding of John 15 and what it means to be “in Him” (in John’s usage of the word)?

    (3) Calvin says of John 15 that

    But here comes a question. Can any one who is engrafted into Christ be without fruit? I answer, many are supposed to be in the vine, according to the opinion of men, who actually have no root in the vine. Thus, in the writings of the prophets, the Lord calls the people of Israel his vine, because, by outward profession, they had the name of The Church. — John Calvin, Comm. John 15.1-6

    Here, Calvin identifies being “in the vine” as neither “vitally connected” per Wilkins nor yet “stapled on” per the straw man, but rather “in the vine as men see it.”

    That is, Calvin locates the distinction between fruitful and unfruitful branches in the vine within the problem of knowledge: we cannot know with certainty by outward appearance who it is that is actually in the vine v. who only appears to be in the vine. So from our perspective, we see someone who is “in Christ” who fails to abide.

    Do you accept Calvin’s reading? If not, why not?

    (Note that while Calvin is one of my favorite theologians, I don’t consider him infallible or above correction — so it’s not a loaded question. What I’m after with questions 1 and 3 is why the FV, or some of the FV, cannot solve the problem of apostasy by referring it to the problem of knowledge).

    Jeff Cagle

  63. jared said,

    January 25, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    rfwhite (#51),

    You say,

    The bi-covenantal structure is maintained because the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant are two of the historical administrations of the one covenant of grace.

    I don’t disagree, but it looks like you said the respective corporate elections (of Israel and of the Church) are based on different promises (e.g. God’s promise to obedient Abraham versus God’s promise to the obedient Seed). I have always been under the impression that the promise God made to Abraham is the very same promise that Jesus fulfilled (or is fulfilling), not that there are two distinct or separate promises as you seem to have implied in comment #41. I apologize if I misread you. You say,

    A different basis implies that election functions differently because the blessings and curses that God dispenses to certain representatives and their seeds are dispensed according to the representative’s obedience or disobedience. For the obedience of the representative God appoints the representative’s seed to a state of blessing; for the disobedience of the representative God appoints that seed to a state of curse. As the Biblical record shows, the representative’s disobedience brings the division of his seed into both blessed and cursed (see Adam, Noah, Abraham, and David). Only Christ, because of His perpetual, perfect obedience, secures blessings for all the seed that God gives Him.

    I don’t see how this demonstrates that election functions differently. It does show how blessings and curses function differently between the administrations and, ironically perhaps, it shows that the basis for corporate/covenantal election is the same: representative obedience. We can play around with this idea but I don’t think it’s going to end with corporate/covenantal election functioning differently between Israel and the Church. You take an excellent stab, though, in answering my question about it being the same:

    No, it is not the same in the new covenant. Under the old covenant, identification as “elect” (covenantally-nationally elect) was based on something other than Christ’s obedience. For the same to be true under the new covenant, identification as “elect” (covenantally-nationally elect) would have to mean that election is based on something other than or in addition to Christ’s obedience.

    This too, however, does not show that they function differently. I am arguing that they function the same by modifying Paul’s statement of “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” and applying it to the Church. Essentially I am turning it into “not all who are members of the Church are the Church.” It’s rough but it presents the visible/invisible distinction we are all familiar with (and agree with?). In short, then, I am arguing that election functions the same regarding Israel and the Church on the basis of this familiar distinction. That election is affected differently given the two administrations does not alter its functionality. In comment #54 you say,

    As I understand it, FV advocates urge that the covenantal (national) election of Israel applies to the Church, such that we should say that as Israel was covenantally elect, so the Church is covenantally elect. Is this correct?

    Yes, I believe that is basically correct. I also don’t think this is novel to the FV. You ask,

    Would you say that covenantal election before Christ was the same as covenantal election after Christ? In other words, would you count those Israelites who apostatized from the covenant body (from covenantal election, as it were) among those who received temporary salvation?

    For all intents and purposes, yes. Covenantal election before Jesus involved belonging to the chosen people-group “Israel” and covenantal election after Jesus is belonging to the chosen people-group “Church”. These two respective people-groups were chosen for eschatological glory (i.e. ultimate redemption/salvation). To temporarily be a member of such a group is to temporarily participate in that procession to glory. That is, it is to temporarily possess some elements/aspects of such a procession. Why else would their punishment be more severe than those who never participated? You ask,

    What biblical evidence would you cite to support your conclusion that Israelites who apostatized from the covenant body (from covenantal election, as it were) are among those who received temporary salvation?

    I think the most clear picture of this is in the rise and fall of King Saul. It is said that the Spirit of God came upon him mightily but we all know how it worked out for him in the end. I should think anywhere that God says “I will be your God and you will be My people” supports the notion of a temporary salvation for those who are only temporarily “My people”. Again, John says “they went out from us but they did not really belong to us” for if they really belonged then they would’ve remained. It’s like those “which word doesn’t belong” games. The word that doesn’t belong really is among those other words, but it really shouldn’t be.

    David Gadbois (#60),

    You say,

    Just because they text doesn’t use the term ‘all’ does not mean that the door is open to logically understanding the text as meaning ’some.’ Just the opposite – the CoD state that “those who have been converted” (group A) are mercifully strengthened by God’s grace unto perseverance (B). If you belong to group A, then B follows. This is buttressed by the 3rd and 8th Rejection of Errors of the 5th Head. Your evasion of this is sophistry, and not even particularly good sophistry at that.

    I agree that if you belong to group A, then B follows. So do FV proponents. However, FV proponents propose that “those who have been converted” is a larger group than group A; I tend to agree (on this point). This is because for us “those who have been converted” refers to the entire visible church, which clearly does not belong in its entirety to group A. Group A, then, would be referencing the invisible church, of which (I believe) the CoD are narrowly referring to by “those who have been converted”. I think this is a great, and legitimate, “evasion” even if it isn’t particularly impressive sophistry. You continue,

    Not to mention the fact that the efficacy of Christ’s work and the doctrine of limited atonement must be chucked if it is the case that regeneration and justification are revoked.

    Hardly. Jesus’ work was completely effective for group A (i.e. the invisible church). This efficacious work is, likewise, also limited to group A. So on my account (and on the FV’s account at this point) neither of those items need to be “chucked”. In my mind, if regeneration and justification are revoked, then they aren’t/weren’t true; just like a faith which fails to produce good works is not true. Such people do not (and cannot) belong to group A at all, ever. To the extent that FV advocates say they do (or can) belong, I disagree with them. You say,

    The category of sainthood implies more than simply decretal election, but also entails ordo salutis benefits. Since they are not interchangable, it is not trivial at all.

    It’s okay for us to disagree here. It doesn’t make you more Reformed or me less Reformed (nor does it make the FV un-Reformed or against the 5th Head of Dordt). I think the category of sainthood includes all believers, that is, it describes the visible church. It seems to me that Scripture does use the term “saints” as referring to all believers without differentiation; just look at how often you can replace it with “Church” (or “visible Church” or “Christians” or “Israelites” in the case of the OT) without changing the meaning of the passage. Obviously it won’t work in every instance, but it doesn’t need to in order to support the FV’s view (or my view).

    Ron Henzel (#61),

    You say,

    To be cynical is to be “contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives,” and/or “based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest” (Merriam-Websters). I do not think I have written anything here to even imply that the FV is taking the positions it does out of improper or otherwise selfish motives. As far as I can see, all of our exchanges have focused on a disagreement over what the FV explicitly teaches. I say it teaches one thing, and you disagree. Since now you choose to begin your argument by slapping a label on me, I see it’s time to move on.

    I understand and recognize when someone doesn’t want to engage with me for the purposes of dialogue (as opposed to simply showing me to be in err as if presuming to be invincibly in the right). The end of your comment 48 is what put me off. A jaded (and/or cynical) critic doesn’t want to learn because they think they already have all understanding given a particular situation. There are some commentators here who have this attitude and I was trying to determine (or decide) whether you were among them or not. You noted that the FV uses a “corrupt hermeneutical method” which results in their “theological constructs” being “that simple, and that stupid”. Of course your picture of this simple and stupid (and corrupt) hermeneutical method was completely ungracious and not entirely accurate either. I asked for forgiveness if I had incorrectly counted you amongst the jaded critics that post here, but your (rhetorically?) rushing description of how FV is “attacking” the Reformed faith seems to have sealed the deal. Nevertheless, I continued to pointedly engage you where I thought progress might be made. I did so because I didn’t want to resort to name calling (though I don’t think describing someone as jaded or cynical is “name calling” any more than describing myself as young and naive is “name calling”) and I didn’t want to contribute to the “incessant, faucet-dripping, special-pleading, theologically-ignorant, confessionally-impaired, windmill-thrusting attacks on the Reformed faith”, though it appears I am incapable of doing otherwise in your estimation. I’m sorry if this offends you or if I had previously offended you. I am, here, simply trying to show you how I respond given my perceptions of one’s online debating personality/style. I know I’m young. I know I’m not half as well read as people like Lane, Reed, Dr. White, David Gadbois, Jeff Cagle or yourself. But that doesn’t mean what I say isn’t worth consideration even if you’ve supposedly heard it all before.

    Jeff Cagle (#62),

    Thanks for jumping into the fray, I don’t mind at all.

    (1) I believe the “prize” is having a more precise and exhaustive theology with which to better honor, worship and glorify God.

    (2) It seems to me that the case of Judas is not that different from the case of King Saul. So I don’t think Jesus was necessarily indicating (in John 13) that Judas had no justification whatsoever. It is clear that Judas was not “clean” in the same way the others were “clean” but Jesus washed his feet nevertheless. Likewise, it is clear from John 15 that the branches which are cut off are not “in Me” in the same way that those branches which are pruned are “in Me”, but they are called branches nevertheless.

    (3) Calvin’s answer is kind of a subtle dance around the wrong question, but I think ultimately he sides with me (and the FV). He will go on to say (of verse 6) that “the exhortation to fear is not uncalled for, lest our flesh, through too great indulgence, should root us out.” In outward appearance, which is all we have to go by in assessing one’s inward status (something we should do with the utmost care and charity), Calvin says that some “flourish and are green for a time” though when the time comes they do not yield fruit as they ought. So the question is not “Can any one who is engrafted into Christ be without fruit?” but rather it is “Are those who ‘flourish for a time’ really in Christ?” I would want to qualify or contrast “really in Christ” with “vitally in Christ” so that the former does not necessitate the latter (I think I have been consistently doing this, and I think the FV has too).

    I agree with Calvin that none of the elect, and here I understand decretally elect, are ever “dried up” but those who are become so because they are cut off: “Those who are cut off from Christ are said to wither like a dead branch; because, as the commencement of strength is from him, so also is its uninterrupted continuance.” Calvin, here, seems to be implying that those who are green for a time (but ultimately fruitless) have some “commencement of strength” which, I assume, the non-covenant member does not have and in which the elect covenant member continues. Further, he seems to be implying that those who get cut off are cut off at Christ’s design. In other words, the elect continue on because He maintains their strength just as He has initiated it and the non-elect are cut off because He does not maintain their strength even though He initiated it. Why doesn’t He maintain their strength? I don’t believe that is for us to know, nor do I believe it is for us to question. Does this help; did I answer/address your questions?

  64. David Gadbois said,

    January 25, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    In my mind, if regeneration and justification are revoked, then they aren’t/weren’t true

    First, I’ll note that this was not Wilkin’s position in the Federal Vision book. Jared, you’ll have to excuse me for using a book entitled ‘The Federal Vision’ in order to launch my critique against the Federal Vision.

    Second, if the regeneration and justification aren’t true, then what exactly is being revoked? A fraud, an illusion? If so, what sense does it make to say that the reprobate in the visible church are regenerated or justified? It would be like saying ‘Jared is a millionaire’, even if your million dollar bill is a counterfeit you created in Photoshop. The statement ‘Jared is a millionaire’ is false.

    However, FV proponents propose that “those who have been converted” is a larger group than group A; I tend to agree (on this point). This is because for us “those who have been converted” refers to the entire visible church

    Then what is the meaning of ‘converted’ that does not intersect with the meaning of ‘converted’ as the CoD use it? Again, we can all play these word games where we make up our own alternate meanings to existing words with accepted definition so as to evade falsification. For instance, I can say ‘Yaweh is a creature’, and then when you object I respond ‘well, I named my dog Yaweh, so my previous statement is true, naner naner naner.’ This FV word game is only slightly less juvenile. I wonder what possible theological or pastoral benefit there is from such evasive equivocation.

    You and the FVers need to do the real legwork of showing an exegetical foundation to way you use these terms. You can’t just say they apply indiscriminately to the visible church without dealing with the fact that the NT writers often spoke with a judgment of charity toward their audience, assuming that the visible church was roughly equivalent to the invisible church in composition.

    just look at how often you can replace it with “Church” (or “visible Church” or “Christians” or “Israelites” in the case of the OT) without changing the meaning of the passage

    Prove it. Give just one example where a ‘saint’ is a member of the visible church without being a member of the invisible church.

    It’s okay for us to disagree here. It doesn’t make you more Reformed or me less Reformed (nor does it make the FV un-Reformed or against the 5th Head of Dordt). I think the category of sainthood includes all believers, that is, it describes the visible church.

    This misses the point – the CoD are defining a category of persons -‘saints’- who are more than simply elect. That is, they are ‘holy ones’ by virtue of their justification, adoption, union, and sanctification in Christ. And the blessings and status they have are not revocable.

  65. rfwhite said,

    January 25, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    63 Jared, I’ll take your comments in separate posts.

    About God’s promises to Abraham and Jesus: I would say that the promises God swore to fulfill to Abraham for his exemplary obedience were shadow-types of the promises God swore to fulfill to obedient Jesus for His perfect obedience. E.g., God promised to reward Abraham’s exemplary obedience with descendants (the nation of Israel), dominion (the dynasty of David), and domain (the land of Canaan), which I understand to be shadow-types of the reward God promised to Jesus for His perfect obedience.

  66. rfwhite said,

    January 25, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    63 Jared, regarding election and its basis: The representative obedience of Abraham was sufficient to secure that elect nation’s reception of the blessings God promised; the representative obedience of Abraham was not sufficient to secure the elect nation’s retention of those blessings. The representative obedience of Jesus is sufficient to secure the elect nation’s reception and retention of the blessings God promised.

  67. rfwhite said,

    January 25, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    63 Jared, as for your modifying of Paul’s statement of “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” and applying it to the Church (“not all who are members of the Church are the Church”), I do understand you. I could agree with you if you could show that something other than or in addition to Jesus’ obedience is required to secure the election of the Church — that is, that the election of the Church is based on something other than or in addition to Jesus’ obedience. In other words, your proposal presumes that the basis of the national election of the Church (i.e., the Church’s identity as God’s elect nation) is the same as the basis of the national election of Israel (i.e., Israel’s identity as God’s elect nation), does it not?

  68. Curate said,

    January 26, 2009 at 1:36 am

    DR White, a cursory reading of the above three posts creates the impression that you have disconnected the Abrahamic Promises from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    First, the flies in the face of traditional Reformed theology that roots the gospel in the Abrahamic covenants of promise.

    Second, it sounds like classic Baptisitic polemics.

  69. Ron Henzel said,

    January 26, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Curate,

    There is nothing more Reformed than to affirm differing administrations of the one Covenant of Grace, as Dr. White has done. And there is nothing less Reformed than to say that the Gospel is rooted in the Abrahamic Covenant, rather than the Protoevangelium delivered to Adam and Eve in the Garden after the Fall. There is nothing Baptistic about this.

  70. GLW Johnson said,

    January 26, 2009 at 6:20 am

    A reminder to Jared,Curate & other pro FV . The Reformed Churches ,as represented by the PCA,OPC, URC and others ,have unanimously declared the FV to be out of harmony with the Reformed confessions.This should count for something.

  71. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 26, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Jared, thanks for the reply. I wonder if we could spend a little more time on Calvin. You wrote,

    In outward appearance, which is all we have to go by in assessing one’s inward status (something we should do with the utmost care and charity), Calvin says that some “flourish and are green for a time” though when the time comes they do not yield fruit as they ought. So the question is not “Can any one who is engrafted into Christ be without fruit?” but rather it is “Are those who ‘flourish for a time’ really in Christ?”

    This argument shifts ground at the very point I’m interested in. Calvin refers this passage entirely to the problem of knowledge. He says re v.6 :

    If any one abide not in me. He again lays before them the punishment of ingratitude, and, by doing so, excites and urges them to perseverance. It is indeed the gift of God, but the exhortation to fear is not uncalled for, lest our flesh, through too great indulgence, should root us out.

    He is cast out, and withered, like a branch. Those who are cut off from Christ are said to wither like a dead branch; because, as the commencement of strength is from him, so also is its uninterrupted continuance. Not that it ever happens that any one of the elect is dried up, but because there are many hypocrites who, in outward appearance, flourish and are green for a time, but who afterwards, when they ought to yield fruit, show the very opposite of that which the Lord expects and demands from his people.

    So on Calvin’s account, the “flourishing” is in appearance only: as seen by man, not as seen by God (or “in reality”, which is equivalent for both Calvin and for me).

    Now at first, you seem to be agreeing with him: that when we assess someone else’s status, we have a problem of knowledge and we can only go by what we see. So up to this point, you are saying, “Yes, the problem of apostasy is a problem of knowledge.” And if that’s all that’s going on, then I would be content.

    But then you say that the real question is, “Are those who ‘flourish for a time’ really in Christ?” And here the ground shifts.

    For the phrase ‘flourish for a time’, unqualified by Calvin’s ‘in appearance’, seems to mean that we have people who are *really*, *in the eyes of God*, flourishing for a time, and then falling away.

    And this also is the point of the Wilkins and Barach analyses in The Federal Vision — that the “union” experience by the branches is “real” in the sense of “God sees it as real.” Wilkins is specifically allergic to the ‘problem of knowledge’ interpretation.

    And there is the point of departure, with Calvin and with Dort. The FV takes one additional step, assigning “reality” to the union of the unfruitful branches, and it is that step that causes all of the trouble.

    Jeff Cagle

  72. David Gray said,

    January 26, 2009 at 6:53 am

    >The Reformed Churches ,as represented by the PCA,OPC, URC and others ,have unanimously declared the FV to be out of harmony with the Reformed confessions.

    Well they have declared a series of positions which they identify as FV as being out of harmony…

  73. GLW Johnson said,

    January 26, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Yes, very much like the Synod of Dort declared a series of positions which they identified as Arminian as being out of harmony with the Reformed faith.

  74. David Gray said,

    January 26, 2009 at 7:39 am

    >Yes, very much like the Synod of Dort declared a series of positions which they identified as Arminian as being out of harmony with the Reformed faith.

    And people who adhere to those actual positions should take great care.

  75. GLW Johnson said,

    January 26, 2009 at 7:54 am

    yes again-Roger Olson constantly complains that the Synod of Dort misunderstood the Arminians. This familiar complaint is always dragged out by the devotees of theological innovations that have branded heterdoxical.

  76. David Gray said,

    January 26, 2009 at 8:23 am

    >Roger Olson constantly complains that the Synod of Dort misunderstood the Arminians.

    I wasn’t aware that Dort was attempting to represent the positions of Roger Olson. Nor have I read that the Arminians as a whole didn’t acknowledge their very real differences with Dort.

    >This familiar complaint is always dragged out by the devotees of theological innovations that have branded heterdoxical.

    Like Zwingli?

  77. GLW Johnson said,

    January 26, 2009 at 8:33 am

    DG
    You are living proof that of the maxim that the advocates of heterodoxy never admit that they, and not their critics, were wrong.

  78. David Gray said,

    January 26, 2009 at 10:02 am

    >You are living proof that of the maxim that the advocates of heterodoxy never admit that they, and not their critics, were wrong.

    Pastor Johnson,

    Does your session realize you do this in public?

    You don’t even know my position on most of this. And if you’d read what I have written you’d not have had grounds for writing that.

  79. GLW Johnson said,

    January 26, 2009 at 10:17 am

    DG
    Yes, and they approve of me doing everything I can to keep the errorrs of the FV from spreading. Oh, and simply based on your comments on Lane’s blog David, do you really think that your FV overt sympathies are not known?

  80. David Gray said,

    January 26, 2009 at 11:34 am

    >Oh, and simply based on your comments on Lane’s blog David, do you really think that your FV overt sympathies are not known?

    Perhaps to the simple minded.

  81. rfwhite said,

    January 26, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    63 Jared, regarding Saul and “My people” as evidence that Israelites who apostatized from the covenant body (from covenantal election, as it were) are among those who received temporary salvation, let me be sure I’m following you here. You also said in 63 that the chosen people-group Israel and the chosen people-group the Church — these two respective people-groups — were chosen for eschatological glory (i.e. ultimate redemption/salvation).

    Question: what biblical evidence would you cite to show that the chosen people-group Israel was chosen for eschatological glory (i.e. ultimate redemption/salvation)?

  82. greenbaggins said,

    January 26, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    I think at this point it would be good to get the discussion back to what Jeff, Jared, and Dr. White were discussing.

  83. David Weiner said,

    January 26, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Dr.White,

    You said (in #66): “the representative obedience of Abraham was not sufficient to secure the elect nation’s retention of those blessings.”

    I know you don’t say anything that is not without strong biblical support and so I searched the Scriptures to try to see how you might have come to this conclusion. Alas, the only way I can support this statement is to use my observations of history. And, of course, history has not yet run its course. In particular, Genesis 17:8 is most troubling to me in that I have to significantly spiritualize it to get to your conclusion and even so, Abraham would seem to have been completely mislead by the promise. Would you be so kind as to offer one or two Scriptures which might support your assertion?

  84. Ron Henzel said,

    January 26, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    David,

    Genesis 17:8 reads, “And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God” (ESV). What is there in that verse or its context that indicates that Abraham’s obedience secured the nation’s retention of the land and their covenantal relationship to God?

  85. David Weiner said,

    January 26, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Ron, re: #84,

    The land seems to be fairly clearly identified and it is to be an ‘everlasting possession.’ So, retention should not be a question?

  86. Reed Here said,

    January 26, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    No. 85:

    Ron’s question was to “Abraham’s” obedience. The record seems to indicate that the retention in view was a generation to generation thing. Ron is asking for a federal headship of Abraham for these blessings (seems to be missing).

  87. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 26, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    So an additional interesting question is why there would be interludes during which Israel clearly did not possess the land, if in fact we require the promise to be taken absolutely literally in every respect?

  88. David Weiner said,

    January 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    #86:

    Yes, I believe I know what Ron was asking. However, my original post had to do with Dr. White’s statement that the obedience was not sufficient etc. I was asking for support for that statement. If that statement is not supported, then the question of obedience is not really germane to retention, no?

  89. David Weiner said,

    January 26, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Jeff, # 87,

    I don’t know how to take something ‘absolutely literally in every respect.’ But,do we have to go that far to not understand at least the simple minded intention of ‘everlasting possession’ of a small chunk of land? Given the vagaries of human beings and their sin, the idea of coming and going from the land does not have to trump the promise of ‘eternal possession.’

  90. rfwhite said,

    January 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    83 David Weiner, thanks for the comments and question. When I said (in #66) that “the representative obedience of Abraham was not sufficient to secure the elect nation’s retention of those blessings,” what I had in mind was that Abraham’s exemplary obedience didn’t guarantee his national seed’s residence in the land; the elect nation’s obedience was also necessary to maintain residence and to avoid exile. In that light, I think you’ll know what I mean when I say that the book of Deuteronomy expounds that point in spades and provides context in which to understand a text like Gen 17:8. Beyond that, I follow A. Hoekema’s view of the land promises and see them fulfilled in the new earth, the New Canaan, if you will.

  91. David Weiner said,

    January 26, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Dr. White, re: #90,

    Thank you for the clarification. I believe I better understand what you meant in the sentence I quoted. Also, I do see the conditional nature of continuous possession of the land while the nation was a mixture of elect and non-elect. However, then you say: “Deuteronomy expounds that point in spades and provides context in which to understand a text like Gen 17:8.”

    Forgive me but I don’t see how Deuteronomy explains ‘eternal possession’ per Gen 17:8; intermittent possession, yes. As for Hoekema and the New Canaan, that is probably too far afield for this thread. Once again, thank you for your help.

  92. rfwhite said,

    January 26, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    91 David W, when I said that “Deuteronomy expounds that point in spades and provides context in which to understand a text like Gen 17:8,” I meant a couple of things. One, I meant that Deut shows how the elect nation’s obedience was necessary for maintaing residence and avoiding exile. Two, I meant that Gen 17.8 establish Israel as heir of the land, while Deut explains the conditions of the heir’s tenure in the land.

  93. jared said,

    January 26, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    David Gadbois (#64),

    Thanks for the stimulating response. You say,

    First, I’ll note that this was not Wilkin’s position in the Federal Vision book. Jared, you’ll have to excuse me for using a book entitled ‘The Federal Vision’ in order to launch my critique against the Federal Vision.

    Yes, Wilkins and I would probably disagree on this point. The problem with using the book in order to critique the movement has already been explained. It’s a compilation of several authors who don’t even necessarily agree amongst themselves about many particulars. So just because you (and I) disagree with Wilkins on this point, it doesn’t follow that (a) the entire FV is wrong on this point or (b) the entire FV is not Reformed and/or is attacking the Reformed faith, as some want to say. You say,

    Second, if the regeneration and justification aren’t true, then what exactly is being revoked? A fraud, an illusion? If so, what sense does it make to say that the reprobate in the visible church are regenerated or justified? It would be like saying ‘Jared is a millionaire’, even if your million dollar bill is a counterfeit you created in Photoshop. The statement ‘Jared is a millionaire’ is false.

    I’m not sure that “revoked” provides the right connotations for what occurs to an apostate. I know we’ve been using it some in this thread but your questions here show me that it might not be quite adequate. What is being revoked (or lost) is the apostate’s covenant status along with the included benefits (e.g. the common operations). I think “fraud” is more accurate than “illusion”, as the apostate has a counterfeit ordo (e.g. false repentance, false faith, false justification, etc.). This goes along with your analogy of me being a “millionaire”; I really do have a million dollar bill even if it isn’t a legitimate note. When that note is taken from me there is a sense in which I cease being a millionaire and there is a sense in which I am proven not to have been a millionaire at all. Does that make sense? You say,

    Then what is the meaning of ‘converted’ that does not intersect with the meaning of ‘converted’ as the CoD use it? Again, we can all play these word games where we make up our own alternate meanings to existing words with accepted definition so as to evade falsification. For instance, I can say ‘Yaweh is a creature’, and then when you object I respond ‘well, I named my dog Yaweh, so my previous statement is true, naner naner naner.’ This FV word game is only slightly less juvenile. I wonder what possible theological or pastoral benefit there is from such evasive equivocation.

    It seems clear to me that by “converted” the CoD are explicitly referring to the decretally elect and not to the entire visible Church as the FV is wanting to do. I point to article nine of the third and fourth head as evidence of this; the CoD, here, present a notion of “temporary faith” but do not feather it out at all. Your example of the juvenile word games is inaccurate it’s more like this: I say ‘Yaweh is a creature’ and when you object I respond ‘Well, Yahweh is Jesus and Jesus is a man and man is a creature; so naner naner naner.’ It’s not as though the FV is completely changing the meaning of those “accepted” definitions. Instead of “convert” referring only to the decretally elect it refers to all believers; how is that confusing or difficult to understand? You say,

    You and the FVers need to do the real legwork of showing an exegetical foundation to way you use these terms. You can’t just say they apply indiscriminately to the visible church without dealing with the fact that the NT writers often spoke with a judgment of charity toward their audience, assuming that the visible church was roughly equivalent to the invisible church in composition.

    This is fair and I feel like I am trying to do my part in working these issues out in my own theology. I’m curious as to the history of the concept of “judgment of charity”, it’s a concept I’m familiar with as it is used but I am not familiar with its origins or development. As I think about the above issue of “convert” it seems like going the FV route eliminates the need for such a concept (to an extent, at least), but I don’t know if that’s a more biblical route or not since I’m not read up on how the judgment of charity came to be. Any recommendations? You challenge,

    Prove it. Give just one example where a ’saint’ is a member of the visible church without being a member of the invisible church.

    Acts 9:13, 32; Romans 15:25-26, 31; 16:2, 15; 1 Cor. 6:1-2 (it seems evident to me that the visible church and the invisible church will be identical at the time of the judgment) 14:33; 16:15; 2 Cor. 1:1; 8:4, 9:1, 13:13 — I know that’s more than one but I thought it prudent to give more than just one. It seems to be used a lot in the Psalms as well.

    rfwhite (#65),

    Thank you for your vigilance. You say,

    About God’s promises to Abraham and Jesus: I would say that the promises God swore to fulfill to Abraham for his exemplary obedience were shadow-types of the promises God swore to fulfill to obedient Jesus for His perfect obedience. E.g., God promised to reward Abraham’s exemplary obedience with descendants (the nation of Israel), dominion (the dynasty of David), and domain (the land of Canaan), which I understand to be shadow-types of the reward God promised to Jesus for His perfect obedience.

    I think we’re talking past each other on this point. We both agree that there are only two covenants and that the latter covenant (the one of grace) has multiple administrations which all point to the final administration we have in Jesus. What I am saying about election is that it correlates with the one covenant and not its multiplicity of administrations. So while its basis may be different dependent on the administration, it’s function(s) remain unchanged. You say (#66),

    Jared, regarding election and its basis: The representative obedience of Abraham was sufficient to secure that elect nation’s reception of the blessings God promised; the representative obedience of Abraham was not sufficient to secure the elect nation’s retention of those blessings. The representative obedience of Jesus is sufficient to secure the elect nation’s reception and retention of the blessings God promised.

    I can agree with this. You say (#67),

    Jared, as for your modifying of Paul’s statement of “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” and applying it to the Church (“not all who are members of the Church are the Church”), I do understand you. I could agree with you if you could show that something other than or in addition to Jesus’ obedience is required to secure the election of the Church — that is, that the election of the Church is based on something other than or in addition to Jesus’ obedience. In other words, your proposal presumes that the basis of the national election of the Church (i.e., the Church’s identity as God’s elect nation) is the same as the basis of the national election of Israel (i.e., Israel’s identity as God’s elect nation), does it not?

    My proposal presumes that the function of those respective national elections is the same even though the basis may differ. Israel didn’t do anything to gain (or merit) her election, neither does the Church. God could’ve done it otherwise, but He didn’t. You ask (#80),

    what biblical evidence would you cite to show that the chosen people-group Israel was chosen for eschatological glory (i.e. ultimate redemption/salvation)?

    Without going into specifics, would the book of Revelation be sufficient? As I understand it, Israel and the Church are a singular body under the New Covenant. Some passages in Isaiah and Jeremiah are fluttering about in my head but I can’t think of the chapters off hand (Isa. 54, perhaps?). Some of the minor prophets too; forgive my lack of study, I feel as though I’m sparring outside of my weight class and experience. You are being quite gracious, nevertheless, and I appreciate that.

    GLW Johnson (#70),

    I’ve already spoken my piece about the PCA study report. Only one of the nine declarations (the 7th, in case you were curious) can really be stuck to the FV as a whole.

    Jeff Cagle (#71)

    You say,

    This argument shifts ground at the very point I’m interested in. Calvin refers this passage entirely to the problem of knowledge

    Yes, this is what I meant by saying Calvin is dancing around the wrong question. The real question is ontic, not epistemic. The epistemic question comes after the ontic question, as I see it. The issue of “appearance” is related to what kind of ontic union one has with Jesus, not whether one has any ontic union at all. Calvin’s “outward appearance” is couched in the fact that Jesus has given the reprobate a “commencement of strength” and the difference between the reprobate and the elect is that Jesus continues to preserve the elect which (always) results in perseverance. The reprobate can only appear saved outwardly because what Jesus has given him He does not continue to support. My point (and the FV’s point, I think) is that Jesus really has given the reprobate something (something spiritual, no less) and that is from what they apostatize.

  94. rfwhite said,

    January 26, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    93 Jared, if vigilance weren’t yielding some fruit in mutual understanding and even in some agreement, I’d abandon the conversation.

    You say, “What I am saying about election is that it correlates with the one covenant and not its multiplicity of administrations. So while its basis may be different dependent on the administration, it’s function(s) remain unchanged.” — I’m tracking with your argument. This is not where we differ.

    You say, “My proposal presumes that the function of those respective national elections is the same even though the basis may differ. Israel didn’t do anything to gain (or merit) her election, neither does the Church. God could’ve done it otherwise, but He didn’t.” — Here is where we differ. With others, I maintain that Israel didn’t do anything to gain her election, but she did have to do something to retain her election. The Church does not do anything to gain or retain her election.

  95. jared said,

    January 26, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    rfwhite,

    Ah, I see. Israel had to remain faithful in order to retain her election. I think the FV says the Church must also remain faithful in order to retain her election; is that what you’re looking for? Obviously Israel could not remain faithful, hence the sending of the Savior and the instituting of the Church. I would say that the difference between Israel and the Church is not that one needed to do something to retain her election and the other does not; rather it’s that one has someone who guarantees she will remain faithful. In other words, it not that the Church does nothing to retain her election, it’s that she has someone supporting her who will not let her fail.

  96. rfwhite said,

    January 26, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    95 Jared, the point I’m pressing is that any election that depends on anything other than or in addition to Christ is dissoluble. And Israel’s depended on her obedience; the Church’s does not and is therefore indissoluble.

  97. rfwhite said,

    January 26, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    95 Jared, alternatively, if, as you say, the Church has someone supporting her who will not let her fail, then are you also acknowledging that Israel fell from her election for lack of someone to support her who would not let her fail?

  98. jared said,

    January 27, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    rfwhite,

    I don’t believe the Church’s election is dissoluble. However, I do believe that the notion that there are some members of the Church who have elect status by virtue of (and solely from) being members can lose their election is theologically viable. It also seems to me that Israel’s election is now, as a result of Jesus’ work, bound up together with the Church’s.

  99. January 27, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Jared,

    I know that Dr. White doesn’t need my help, but…

    However, I do believe that the notion that there are some members of the Church who have elect status by virtue of (and solely from) being members can lose their election is theologically viable.

    From WLC 66:

    Q. 66. What is that union which the elect have with Christ?

    A. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.

    Note the term “inseparably”. The elect can never lose their election. This is a major part of Jesus’ points in John 6, 10, and 15-17. Not one is snatched from his hand (Jn 10:28). No one truly elect is lost to Christ, period. If someone “falls away,” they never were elect regardless of whether they were members of the visible church or not (Mt 7:21-23).

  100. jared said,

    January 27, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    reformedmusings,

    Yes, and that is precisely not the election or group of elect that I am talking about. I completely agree that if one is truly elect (that is, decretally elect) they cannot be lost, ever. The issue has nothing to do with the decretally elect because that is all very clear, the Shepherd will save all His sheep.

  101. Ron Henzel said,

    January 27, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Bob,

    I was going to point out that Jared holds to the typical FV bifurcation of the elect into “decretally/truly elect” and “covenantally/(falsely?) elect.” Interestingly, I did not expect him to say anything that would imply that the “covenantally/(falsely?) elect” are not to be counted among Christ’s sheep. After all, according to the FV, they are justified, sanctified, regenerated, and so on, by virtue of their baptism into “the covenant.”

  102. January 27, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Ron,

    Yep, back with that old mythical group, the “untruly elect”. Funny, I can’t find anywhere that Jesus addresses or even mentions this group in the NT. Paul seems to drive a stake in the heart of this error even in the OT in Rom 11:7-8:

    7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,
    8 as it is written,
    “God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that would not see
    and ears that would not hear,
    down to this very day.”

    Not a very charitable description of the undistinguished, undifferentiated non-elect, also known as the reprobate. But then, we’ve been wasting air and electrons on this for a number of years now. Same players, same tired arguments.

  103. rfwhite said,

    January 27, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    98/100 Jared, we may be running out of gas on this exchange for the time being, but indulge me a bit more. I’m encouraged by your comment in 100 because I could have answered for you. :-)

    You say, “I don’t believe the Church’s election is dissoluble.” — I respond: Then the term Church must refer to the invisible church whose election has Christ as its surety.

    You say, “However, I do believe that the notion that there are some members of the Church who have elect status by virtue of (and solely from) being members can lose their election is theologically viable.” — I respond: Then here the term Church must be the visible church and the individuals therein whose election has its members as its surety.

    You say, “It also seems to me that Israel’s election is now, as a result of Jesus’ work, bound up together with the Church’s.” — I respond: Then a dissoluble election with its members as its surety is now bound up with an indissoluble election with Christ as its surety.

    Election with something other than or in addition to Christ as its surety provides no assurance against apostasy.

  104. jared said,

    January 28, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    rfwhite,

    Thank you for not looking down on me (in writing at least). You say,

    You say, “I don’t believe the Church’s election is dissoluble.” — I respond: Then the term Church must refer to the invisible church whose election has Christ as its surety.

    I don’t know why this should necessarily be the case, especially given that at some point in the future the visible church and the invisible church will contain identical numbers (i.e. the invisible church will be “realized” in the visible church). You continue,

    You say, “However, I do believe that the notion that there are some members of the Church who have elect status by virtue of (and solely from) being members can lose their election is theologically viable.” — I respond: Then here the term Church must be the visible church and the individuals therein whose election has its members as its surety.

    I think the visible church and the invisible church can have the same surety. The difference between the two is that the visible church’s surety is not applied across the board to all of her members. That is, not all members of the visible church are saved, at least at this point in redemptive history. I think both FV and FV-critics would agree with me here. You say,

    You say, “It also seems to me that Israel’s election is now, as a result of Jesus’ work, bound up together with the Church’s.” — I respond: Then a dissoluble election with its members as its surety is now bound up with an indissoluble election with Christ as its surety.

    Yeah, I’m still working on this part. Is this not a theologically viable construction? Is it impossible for Israel to be integrated, in a manner, into the Church? Paul seems to hint at this in Romans 11 (which reformedmusings misquotes I think) but I will readily confess that I’ve much to learn in this vein. You say,

    Election with something other than or in addition to Christ as its surety provides no assurance against apostasy.

    I think I can agree with this while still maintaining the differentiations and distinctions I’ve been doing thus far.

  105. rfwhite said,

    January 28, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    104 Jared, if not all of the members of the visible church are saved, then, by definition, Jesus was not their surety and they are not elect.

  106. jared said,

    January 29, 2009 at 12:04 am

    rfwhite,

    I don’t entirely disagree with you. This is what I was saying about surety in the visible church not being applied across the board. Not all of the members of the visible church are saved, and those that aren’t saved obviously did not have Jesus as their surety. The reason for this is that they were not elect from before the foundations of the earth. It seems to me that individual decretal election is a prerequisite for membership in the invisible church, but it is not a prerequisite for membership in the visible church. So, I would say that Jesus is efficient for the surety of all invisible members (decretally elect) and sufficient for the surety of all visible members (covenantally elect). The only manner in which a reprobate can call himself elect is to the extent and duration that he is a member of the visible body. When he loses his individual covenantal status he confirms his individual non-decretal status, hence “they went out from us [visible], but they did not really belong to us [invisible].” I don’t know why this kind of formulation should be considered “threatening the vitals” of the Reformed faith. I am less certain that such a formulation itself isn’t Reformed or can’t find it’s origins in the Reformed tradition. This is something I look forward to rectifying once I get around to seminary.

  107. Todd said,

    January 29, 2009 at 8:55 am

    “I am less certain that such a formulation itself isn’t Reformed or can’t find it’s origins in the Reformed tradition. This is something I look forward to rectifying once I get around to seminary.”

    Jared,

    One of the most important statements in the WCF is I:7

    “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.”

    After hundreds of years of speculative and almost metaphysical writings of the medieval theologians, where the possibility of average Joes really understanding their teachings on salvation was almost nil, the reformers made a startling statement. Though certain truths of Scripture are not entirely clear, the truths of salvation are clear, so clear that even uneducated people, even children, can understand them by simply reading the Bible or hearing it taught.

    Now, you are not yet a minister yet so there is less responsibility (James 3:1) to be clear while you work these things out, but the fact that well educated men in this discussion are still having difficulty understanding your views of salvation should be a warning to you. The problem may not be with them. If, after I preached a sermon, my people misunderstood an important point, I know the problem was with me – either I didn’t communicate it well or I didn’t understand the point correctly myself.

    Peace,

    Todd

  108. jared said,

    January 29, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Todd,

    I completely agree with WCF 1.7, and I agree that the truths of salvation are transparent so that even very little children can comprehend them (I was saved at 4 and I remember it clearly). I don’t think any of the well educated men who have been discussing with me have had difficulty understanding my views of salvation. We haven’t been discussing salvation directly, for one, and where salvation has been brought up there has been agreement. Moreover, I don’t feel like I am being misunderstood; at least in this thread, excepting reformedmusings’ poke in #102 and maybe a couple of others. I don’t think a comment here and there out of 100 is enough to be construed as egregious misunderstanding or difficulty.

  109. David Gray said,

    January 29, 2009 at 11:03 am

    >After hundreds of years of speculative and almost metaphysical writings of the medieval theologians, where the possibility of average Joes really understanding their teachings on salvation was almost nil, the reformers made a startling statement.

    Let’s not be too hard on the medieval churchmen, Calvin looked to them for wisdom so perhaps we should as well…

  110. January 29, 2009 at 11:11 am

    David,

    Let’s not be too hard on the medieval churchmen, Calvin looked to them for wisdom so perhaps we should as well…

    Some, and with careful discernment on the part of the reader. The medieval church went way off base, to the point of trading the gospel of grace for a lie of grace + works and martyring those who disagreed. Best to avoid even the appearance blanket endorsements.

  111. David Gray said,

    January 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Brother Mattes,

    Well yes, many medieval churchmen are not worthy of consultation. I’d thought that so obvious I didn’t need to say it but at least in a lot of Protestant circles the idea that there are any medieval churchmen who speak with authority is not an idea that can be assumed.

    I’d say careful discernment is always in order. If the Bereans used it with Paul I’d say use it on everyone after Paul.

  112. rfwhite said,

    January 29, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    106 Jared,

    You say, “Not all of the members of the visible church are saved, and those that aren’t saved obviously did not have Jesus as their surety. — I reply, I would agree, but don’t forget the implications of what you said in #17: all visible church members are “saved,” though they are not all saved.

    You say, “The reason for this is that they were not elect from before the foundations of the earth.” — I reply, Okay, but remember, according to your view, they were “elect.” Did their “election” take place after the foundation of the earth at some identifiable point in history?

    You say, “It seems to me that individual decretal election is a prerequisite for membership in the invisible church, but it is not a prerequisite for membership in the visible church.” — I reply, Agreed.

    You say, “So, I would say that Jesus is efficient for the surety of all invisible members (decretally elect) and sufficient for the surety of all visible members (covenantally elect).” — I reply, If Jesus is no more than sufficient as the surety for all visible members, then on what basis do they ever become “saved”?

    You say, “The only manner in which a reprobate can call himself elect is to the extent and duration that he is a member of the visible body.” – I reply, But we would agree that the most important issue is, does God call a reprobate person elect to the extent and duration that he is a member of the visible body, or, for that matter, does God call a reprobate person elect to any extent or duration at all? For example, were reprobate Israelites to call themselves elect to the extent and duration they were members of the visible church? Is that what God taught them about their election?

    You say, “When he loses his individual covenantal status he confirms his individual non-decretal status, hence ‘they went out from us [visible], but they did not really belong to us [invisible].’ I don’t know why this kind of formulation should be considered ‘threatening the vitals’ of the Reformed faith.” – I reply, The threat to the vitals of the Reformed faith is not whether the loss of covenantal status confirms non-decretal status. The threat is whether covenantal status is construed as coextensive with election in Christ. Lurking throughout our discussion has been your supposition that Israel’s covenantal-national election continues without change in the Church. I, for one, maintain that it is because Christ’s obedience has rendered covenantal-national election obsolete. Covenant and election are not coextensive, corporately or individually, unless we are referring to the Father’s covenant with the Son.

    You say, “I am less certain that such a formulation itself isn’t Reformed or can’t find it’s origins in the Reformed tradition. This is something I look forward to rectifying once I get around to seminary.” I reply, Fair enough. The weight any of us attaches to the history of doctrine and to the counsel of the Reformed churches is a major question for every man who claims the “Reformed” identity as his own. As you know, many of your fathers and brothers see an anti-Reformation contagion (tendencies not unlike Arminianism and Amyraldianism) in FV theology, while some do not.

  113. David Gadbois said,

    January 29, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Jared said I think “fraud” is more accurate than “illusion”, as the apostate has a counterfeit ordo (e.g. false repentance, false faith, false justification, etc.). This goes along with your analogy of me being a “millionaire”; I really do have a million dollar bill even if it isn’t a legitimate note. When that note is taken from me there is a sense in which I cease being a millionaire and there is a sense in which I am proven not to have been a millionaire at all.

    And in what ‘sense’ does one cease being a millionaire? The fact that one is mistakenly believed to be a millionaire by some due to a fraudulent appearance does not ‘in a sense’ make one a millionaire. And, likewise, simply because some may have a mistaken belief that a reprobate is regenerate does not ‘in a sense’ make that reprobate regenerate.

    It’s not as though the FV is completely changing the meaning of those “accepted” definitions. Instead of “convert” referring only to the decretally elect it refers to all believers; how is that confusing or difficult to understand?

    That is neither difficult to understand nor confusing, but once again it also fails to address the point. Saying *who* the category applies to is not the same thing as actually defining what it is. I’m still waiting for a coherent definition. But don’t feel bad, even Wilkins couldn’t come up with anything when he was fighting for his ecclesiastical life when questioned by his presbytery on this very issue.

    Acts 9:13, 32; Romans 15:25-26, 31; 16:2, 15; 1 Cor. 6:1-2 (it seems evident to me that the visible church and the invisible church will be identical at the time of the judgment) 14:33; 16:15; 2 Cor. 1:1; 8:4, 9:1, 13:13

    What makes you think that any of these uses of the term ‘saints’ is referring to non-elect members within the visible church? You are assuming that it makes your case anytime Paul simply refers to local groups of believers as saints.

  114. January 30, 2009 at 8:44 am

    You are assuming that it makes your case anytime Paul simply refers to local groups of believers as saints.

    That’s because many FVers don’t believe in the judgment of charity, contrary to Calvin and most other Reformed fathers. I wrote a whole post on that subject a while back. Wilkins explicitly rejected the judgment of charity in one of his essays.

  115. David Weiner said,

    January 30, 2009 at 9:55 am

    David Gadbois, re # 113,

    I was following your post in complete agreement and them I ran into the last sentence. I was just about to give you a perfect score! (just kidding)

    I would just like to comment that I don’t see Paul ‘refer to local groups of believers as saints.’ He is quite specific in defining the particular people within the ‘local groups’ to whom he is speaking. There is no need for a ‘judgment of charity.’ For example, the two following verses that I just picked at random:

    Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and [who are] faithful in Christ Jesus:

    Romans 1:7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called [as] saints:

    Paul is not writing to the ‘visible church.’ He is quite clear to whom he is writing and it is the saints, the real ones. As an aside, the unreal ones could not possibly do what he then asks them to do in the remainders of his letters. He is not writing to the people who other people may or may not think of as saints or millionaires or whatever. He is writing to the SAINTS.

  116. Reed Here said,

    January 30, 2009 at 11:13 am

    No. 115, David: very interesting. You are essentially saying that our exegesis (both pro and con FV) has been incomplete, yes?

    I’ll have to do more study on this one, but you’ve got my attention. It may very well be that there are specific markers in each of the “debatable” texts that follow your arguments here. That would go a long way toward eliminating the basis for the fundamental plank in the whole FV project, to wit that the Bible speaks beyond the traditional reformed categories in it’s use of words such as election, etc.

    No. 112, Jared & Dr. White:

    I’d also encourage y’all to work on getting your heads around what Dr. White has been saying with Jared. Again, the sharpening here is impressive.

    Dr. White, I’m particularly taken by the inferences of what you ask with reference to even what OT saints were to believe,

    Is that what God taught them about their election?

    If I might do a friendly hijack (hopefully not erroneously), this seems to be to be rooted in the point that I’ve stumblingly tried to make numerous times, to wit that God speaks to His children not covenantally also but decretally only (using the FV’s hermeneutical based distinction here). Dr. White, the answer to your question will reveal the degree to which the FV is right in it’s covenantal-also perspective.

    I might (with the sharpening provided by y’all at this point) summarize this way: does the Bible speak in a?

    > Joint external/covenantal – internal/decretal manner (the FV [position)
    … so that we can speak of any of the ordo salutis, at least in terms of application (accomplishment too?) in both a external/covenantal/temporary AND an internal/decretal/permanent manner,

    OR does the Bible speak in a:

    > Subservient external/covenantal to internal/decretal manner
    … so that we can speak of the ordo salutis in terms of application: external/covenantally/temporary only as implicit type/shadow pointing to the internal/decretal/permanent as the explicit anti-type/real.

    It seems to me that the latter is the pattern of the Bible. The OT reveals this in a shadow form, gradually becoming more explicit; while the NT reveals it explicitly.

    The FV however, wants to read into the NT experience the ongoing reality of the implicit type/shadow of the OT. Further, it does so in a way that divorces the subservient role of the OT type/shadow and provides a categorical existence in the NT church that is not intended by God.

    As you can tell, I’m still working on clearing this up.

    To that end, Dr. White, might you contact me off list? reed dot here at gmail dot com

  117. David Weiner said,

    January 30, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Reed,

    You are essentially saying that our exegesis (both pro and con FV) has been incomplete, yes?

    Please, understand that I have no desire to say anything of the sort. I, simply using my own flawed presuppositions, see the words of the text. Quite possibly Paul had various meanings in mind each time he used the word ‘saint?’

  118. Reed Here said,

    January 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    No. 117, David: well, at least with how pro and con FV have argued these texts here at GB, you are saying this.

    Don’t worry that this is a slam. It’s rather an encouragement that we all need to do better at making sure our position is rooted in consistent exegesis. Nobody, pro or con, would debate this.

  119. Andrew said,

    January 30, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Apologies for butting in without something outside of this post, but relevant to the whole FV thing.

    I have been following D. Wilson’s reading through the Institutes(As lane mentioned at the beginning of the post – which prompted this), and noticed this passage, in which Calvin seems to say something similar to D. Wilson in the law/grace distinction being essentially a matter of application rather than hermenutic. Responding to Libertine objections that he was devoted to the ‘dead letter’ of the law, he says;

    “The letter therefore is dead, and the law of the Lord kills it readers when it is dissevered from the grace of Christ, and only sounds in the ear without touching the heart. But if it is effectually impressed on the heart by the Spirit; if it exhibits Christ, it is the word of life converting the soul, and making the simple wise”

    Bk1.9.3

    Just a passing thought.

  120. jared said,

    January 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    rfwhite (#112),

    Great questions! You say,

    You say, “The reason for this is that they were not elect from before the foundations of the earth.” — I reply, Okay, but remember, according to your view, they were “elect.” Did their “election” take place after the foundation of the earth at some identifiable point in history?

    I think so, individuals become “elect” as they join the visible body (or by virtue of being born into said body). You say,

    You say, “So, I would say that Jesus is efficient for the surety of all invisible members (decretally elect) and sufficient for the surety of all visible members (covenantally elect).” — I reply, If Jesus is no more than sufficient as the surety for all visible members, then on what basis do they ever become “saved”?

    On the basis of that sufficiency, I suppose. This is why their election and salvation don’t last, they have an affective basis rather than an effective one. It needs to be noted that Jesus is more than sufficient for some visible members (namely, those who are also invisible members). But on that, I believe, we agree. You say,

    You say, “The only manner in which a reprobate can call himself elect is to the extent and duration that he is a member of the visible body.” – I reply, But we would agree that the most important issue is, does God call a reprobate person elect to the extent and duration that he is a member of the visible body, or, for that matter, does God call a reprobate person elect to any extent or duration at all? For example, were reprobate Israelites to call themselves elect to the extent and duration they were members of the visible church? Is that what God taught them about their election?

    I think reprobate Israelites (like reprobate Christians) would call themselves elect period, even though they are not; they simply don’t know and their hearts are deceiving them. God, however, sees the heart so I don’t think He would describe or “call” someone who is reprobate as an elect person. In other words, God knows whether they are “elect” (thinking themselves to be elect) or elect (actually being elect). When you say “God taught them” who is the “them” that you’re referring to? Is it all of Israel or is it only that portion of Israel who would ultimately see heaven? If it is all of Israel, then don’t you think the reprobates present there would have thought of themselves as elect rather than as “elect”? It seems to me that the very notion of reprobates within the body is what has spurned the FV conception of temporary salvation. Is it a helpful category? To some, sure, but not to everyone it seems. Is it a non-Reformed category? Perhaps. Is it an un-Reformed category? I don’t think it is. Is it a category that puts one outside of the Reformed camp? Again, I don’t think so. You say,

    You say, “When he loses his individual covenantal status he confirms his individual non-decretal status, hence ‘they went out from us [visible], but they did not really belong to us [invisible].’ I don’t know why this kind of formulation should be considered ‘threatening the vitals’ of the Reformed faith.” – I reply, The threat to the vitals of the Reformed faith is not whether the loss of covenantal status confirms non-decretal status. The threat is whether covenantal status is construed as coextensive with election in Christ. Lurking throughout our discussion has been your supposition that Israel’s covenantal-national election continues without change in the Church. I, for one, maintain that it is because Christ’s obedience has rendered covenantal-national election obsolete. Covenant and election are not coextensive, corporately or individually, unless we are referring to the Father’s covenant with the Son.

    I’m not sure how to respond here. Are you saying that the Church is not a covenant body?

    David Gadbois (#113),

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. You say,

    And in what ’sense’ does one cease being a millionaire? The fact that one is mistakenly believed to be a millionaire by some due to a fraudulent appearance does not ‘in a sense’ make one a millionaire. And, likewise, simply because some may have a mistaken belief that a reprobate is regenerate does not ‘in a sense’ make that reprobate regenerate.

    One ceases to be a millionaire in a social sense, at least. Once all appearances are removed and the truth is made known it will be shown that such an individual was never really a millionaire (sounds kinda like John, doesn’t it?). He looked like a millionaire, smelled like a millionaire, lived like a millionaire and even fooled other millionaires into thinking he was one of them, but it was all pretense in the end. I agree with your last sentence. My mistaken belief that you are regenerate does not “in a sense” make you regenerate. How do I know you’re regenerate? Well, you live like you have faith and talk like you have faith so I take it for granted (this is normal and not bad) that you actually have faith. How do I know whether that faith is temporary or not? I don’t, and I can’t until it is demonstrated otherwise. But the only way you can have temporary faith is to have temporary life and the only way you can have temporary life is to have temporary regeneration. You don’t remain because you have participated in a false ordo. It should be kept in mind that “false” here does not mean “unreal”, these temporary benefits are not ontologically vacuous. They are the result of being in Him but not in Him; they have no root but they are connected. You continue,

    That is neither difficult to understand nor confusing, but once again it also fails to address the point. Saying *who* the category applies to is not the same thing as actually defining what it is. I’m still waiting for a coherent definition. But don’t feel bad, even Wilkins couldn’t come up with anything when he was fighting for his ecclesiastical life when questioned by his presbytery on this very issue.

    What’s incoherent about “convert” meaning “to bring over from one belief, view, or party to another” or “one that is converted”? What’s incoherent about defining “conversion” as ” an experience associated with the definite and decisive adoption of a religion”? Within the context of Christianity, then, a convert is anyone (reprobate or not) who has experienced the paradigm shift from “x” to Christianity and all that such a shift entails (e.g. being baptized, joining a local body, etc.). My parenthetical “reprobate or not” doesn’t change or affect the meaning of “covert” at all; rather it reflects my acknowledgment that I don’t (and can’t) know who is reprobate and who is not (other than myself). You say,

    What makes you think that any of these uses of the term ’saints’ is referring to non-elect members within the visible church? You are assuming that it makes your case anytime Paul simply refers to local groups of believers as saints.

    Nothing makes me think that any of those uses of the term “saints” is referring to non-elect members within the visible church. But context makes me think those particular instances are referring to the visible church without differentiation. Your last sentence here proves my point. Those local groups of believers referred to as “saints” inevitably contained non-elect believers. Moreover, I don’t think this is the case every time Paul uses the term; sometimes he is referring only to true believers.

  121. rfwhite said,

    January 30, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    116 Reed, I believe I get the drift of your comments and I agree with them. One level of this ongoing debate is reckoning with discontinuities and continuities between the old covenant community and the new covenant community, which involves identifying what is shadow and substance.

  122. rfwhite said,

    January 30, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    119 Jared,

    As to when the election of the visible church took place –Individuals in Israel did not become “elect” when they joined the visible body, did they? No, their covenantal-national election occurred when God spoke His oath to Abraham.

    On the question, “If Jesus is no more than sufficient as the surety for all visible members, then on what basis do they ever become ‘saved’?” — We agree that Jesus is more than sufficient for some visible members, namely, those who are also members of the invisible church. But as far as salvation by a surety who is no more than sufficient, a sufficient surety isn’t efficient, so how is their election and salvation effected?

    Regarding questions such as “does God call a reprobate person elect to the extent and duration that he is a member of the visible body?” and “what did God taught them about their election?” — You basically answer that reprobate Israelites were deceived to call themselves elect. But wait a minute: you have already said an individual can be not elect and “elect” – see #30. So, of course, I think you mean to say that God does describe someone who is reprobate as an elect person. And God did teach Israel that He had chosen them, right? Then, even the eternally reprobate would be wrong to deny that God had made him a member of the covenantally-nationally elect people, right?

    As for the very notion of reprobates within the body [prompting] the FV conception of temporary salvation and whether that notion is helpful, we cannot answer that question without first proving that covenantal-national election resulted in temporary salvation in the OT. I maintain that it did not: covenantal election resulted in temporal salvation-redemption from Egypt, but not temporary salvation-redemption from sin and death.

    On the question of “Are you saying that the Church is not a covenant body?” — No, I affirm that the Church is a covenant body. If I correct my typing errors, perhaps it will help. I maintain that by His obedience Christ has rendered covenantal-national election obsolete, except as “elect nation” now refers to the elect seed given to the Son by the Father as a reward for His obedience. As with all previous administrations of the covenant of grace, the new covenant is not the covenant of the Father with the Son; the new covenant is based on the covenant (oath-promise) of the Father with the Son. Therefore, the new covenant community, as in every previous administration of the covenant of grace, is not coextensive with the elect given to the Son. Rather the new covenant community embraces all those whom God calls His people — namely, believers and their seed — to whom Christ, because of His obedience, functions as covenant mediator of blessing (salvation) and curse (judgment) according to the Father’s covenant with Him. Christ mediates blessing to the elect among God’s people, and as such He functions as their Savior and Head. Christ also mediates curse to the reprobate among God’s people, and as such He functions as their Judge.

  123. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 31, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Jared, what do you make of WCoF 10.4:

    Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.

    Now, I know that the Confession is speaking here of decretal salvation. However, it is interesting that in this location (unlike many others that have been discussed) the Confession positively denies usage of the word “saved” for NECMs. Does this affect the term “covenantal salvation”?

    Also, in your opinion, does the last clause “And to assert and maintain that they may is very pernicious…” apply only to the immediate antecedent or to the whole?

    Jeff Cagle

  124. January 31, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    [...] quite a discussion going about the Federal Vision. One line of Federal Vision argumentation under Assurance and Apostasy attracted my attention, causing me to finish a post that I started over a year ago. I posted it [...]

  125. January 31, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    [...] The Federal Vision folks like to say that their view is more Biblical, that they use words in a more Biblical way than classic Reformed formulations. Seven orthodox Reformed denominations have found otherwise, yet the Federal Vision myths persist. Dr. R. F. White wrote a comment on another thread that again struck at the heart of Federal Vision’s defective hermeneutic. In response to Jared, Dr. White wrote: [...]

  126. jared said,

    January 31, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    rfwhite (#122),

    You say,

    As to when the election of the visible church took place –Individuals in Israel did not become “elect” when they joined the visible body, did they? No, their covenantal-national election occurred when God spoke His oath to Abraham.

    Except we’re ultimately talking about individuals and not people-groups. If Abraham had not circumcised one of his entourage that individual would not have been part of the “elect” people and, thus, would not have been “elect”. Circumcision was a prerequisite for covenant membership in Israel like baptism is a prerequisite for covenant membership in the Church. Just because you were circumcised doesn’t mean you got to see heaven, the same is true of baptism; it’s not what’s on the outside that counts. You continue,

    On the question, “If Jesus is no more than sufficient as the surety for all visible members, then on what basis do they ever become ‘saved’?” — We agree that Jesus is more than sufficient for some visible members, namely, those who are also members of the invisible church. But as far as salvation by a surety who is no more than sufficient, a sufficient surety isn’t efficient, so how is their election and salvation effected?

    It isn’t effected, only the decretally elect have an effective election/salvation. Those who experience “temporary salvation” have their hearts and minds changed, but they are not changed in the same manner as those who are truly saved. In other words, they aren’t temporarily decretally elect but they are really changed in comparison with other reprobates. The gospel has affected such individuals but not to the effect of their salvation. You say,

    Regarding questions such as “does God call a reprobate person elect to the extent and duration that he is a member of the visible body?” and “what did God taught them about their election?” — You basically answer that reprobate Israelites were deceived to call themselves elect. But wait a minute: you have already said an individual can be not elect and “elect” – see #30. So, of course, I think you mean to say that God does describe someone who is reprobate as an elect person. And God did teach Israel that He had chosen them, right? Then, even the eternally reprobate would be wrong to deny that God had made him a member of the covenantally-nationally elect people, right?

    Reprobate Israelites were deceived to call themselves elect, but they could certainly and rightly call themselves “elect”. That is, they were deceived in thinking they would ever enter into Abraham’s bosom but they were not deceived in thinking of themselves as Israelites. I think God would describe the reprobate as “elect” only to the extent that they are members of His covenantally elect people (be it Israel in the OT or the Church in the NT). You say,

    As for the very notion of reprobates within the body [prompting] the FV conception of temporary salvation and whether that notion is helpful, we cannot answer that question without first proving that covenantal-national election resulted in temporary salvation in the OT. I maintain that it did not: covenantal election resulted in temporal salvation-redemption from Egypt, but not temporary salvation-redemption from sin and death.

    Could it not be said that the temporal salvation from Egypt is a shadow/type of temporary salvation from sin and death? Jesus came to do away with all these pseudo-salvations of His people, but how does that prevent them from continuing to be descriptive of individuals? Isn’t this precisely why we are given warnings to continue in the faith? Jesus is it, no other sarifice(s) remain. If you fall away from Jesus (as the “temporarily saved” will do and as the decretally elect never will do) there is no hope left for you. Now, as I understand it, the heart of the issue has to do with this whole concept of “falling away from Jesus”, right? That’s the point of all the contention isn’t it? It’s here were all the semantics and functional equivalence things are happening. For me it really comes down to the parable of the sower and what to call those seeds which grow but don’t make it to the harvest. They aren’t “dead” like the seeds that immediately get eaten by the birds, but clearly they are reprobate because they eventually die without producing a crop. They are “temporarily saved” because they didn’t get eaten by the birds, which is to say that they were not immediately snatched up by the evil one. They are alive but they end up unfruitful and are destroyed one way or another. I think this parable is an incredibly succinct summary of redemptive history.

    To me, your last paragraph here looks like a different angle of the same thing that FV wants to say. A couple of observations, though. You say,

    I maintain that by His obedience Christ has rendered covenantal-national election obsolete, except as “elect nation” now refers to the elect seed given to the Son by the Father as a reward for His obedience.

    And then you say,

    Christ mediates blessing to the elect among God’s people, and as such He functions as their Savior and Head. Christ also mediates curse to the reprobate among God’s people, and as such He functions as their Judge.

    But if your first point is true then your last point is an impossible situation. If the “elect nation” only contains those “given to the Son by the Father”, then it does not (or cannot) contain any reprobate people; there would be no one to which Jesus could mediate curse. Unless you’re wanting to maintain that the Father gave some reprobates to the Son for the express purpose of mediating judgment upon them. This would essentially remove them from the category of reprobate and into a completely new (and different) category of elect. The reprobate, then, would be all those outside this “elect nation” and then inside this nation there would be two kinds of elect: those elected for salvation and those elected for judgment. However, I don’t think you’re wanting or intending to say this; it’s too “FV-like” for you.

    Jeff Cagle (#123),

    You say,

    Now, I know that the Confession is speaking here of decretal salvation. However, it is interesting that in this location (unlike many others that have been discussed) the Confession positively denies usage of the word “saved” for NECMs. Does this affect the term “covenantal salvation”?

    Yes, I don’t like the terms “covenantal salvation” or “temporary salvation” but I don’t know what else to call it, or how else to describe it. The former is too vague and the latter is, as I noted in the other thread, basically a misnomer. Temporary salvation is really just greater damnation, which is why I say it is basically a misnomer. This is why it needs to be explicitly qualified and I think the FV has done so (and I think I have as well, to a greater or lesser extent). You ask,

    Also, in your opinion, does the last clause “And to assert and maintain that they may is very pernicious…” apply only to the immediate antecedent or to the whole?

    I don’t know why it couldn’t apply to the whole. I should rather think it ridiculous more than detestable that one may posit decretal salvation for the non-elect. But certainly it is pernicious and detestable to maintain that one may be saved outside of Jesus.

  127. rfwhite said,

    January 31, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    126 Jared, your latest post tells me that we are no longer communicating effectively in this format, and it is simply too involved to try to disintangle the strands here. But I will say this in winding up my part in this conversation: yes, the heart of the debate here is how we account for apostates. For the FV, apostates are the covenantally elect who become reprobate, and the blessedness of apostates derives from their covenantal election. This is the FV thesis, and it has its basis in the continuity of national (a.k.a. covenantal) election from Israel to the Church. In my and others’ opinion, the FV appeal to this continuity does not work because it fails to take account of a fundamental difference between the old covenant and the new. I recognize that I have only sketched certain details of my counterargument in our exchange, but I lack the confidence that this format will facilitate our mutual understanding any further. I do hope if you want a sustained elaboration of my argument, you’ll take the time to read my essay, “Covenant and Apostasy” in E. Calvin Beisner, ed., The Auburn Avenue Theology, Pros & Cons: Debating the Federal Vision.

  128. jared said,

    February 1, 2009 at 11:47 am

    rfwhite,

    Thanks for the conversation. I do need to pick up a copy of “Pros & Cons”, I look forward to reading your essay

  129. David Gadbois said,

    February 2, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    One ceases to be a millionaire in a social sense, at least. Once all appearances are removed and the truth is made known it will be shown that such an individual was never really a millionaire (sounds kinda like John, doesn’t it?). He looked like a millionaire, smelled like a millionaire, lived like a millionaire and even fooled other millionaires into thinking he was one of them, but it was all pretense in the end.

    Being a millionaire is a financial status, not a social status. It has implications, of course, for social status. Likewise, being converted and regenerate is a spiritual/existential condition – one is either regenerate or not regardless of social status, and it is not a reversible or loseable condition.

    But the only way you can have temporary faith is to have temporary life and the only way you can have temporary life is to have temporary regeneration.

    You act as if you don’t need to provide argument, biblical or logical, for this absurd claim.

    What’s incoherent about “convert” meaning “to bring over from one belief, view, or party to another” or “one that is converted”? What’s incoherent about defining “conversion” as ” an experience associated with the definite and decisive adoption of a religion”?

    You act as if you actually offered these definitions previously in our discussion. You didn’t.

    My parenthetical “reprobate or not” doesn’t change or affect the meaning of “covert” at all; rather it reflects my acknowledgment that I don’t (and can’t) know who is reprobate and who is not (other than myself).

    This is a common FV error – confusing the ontological issue with the epistemological. Yes, there is real epistemological difficulty determining who is elect and who is reprobate in any given individual. But that is a distinct issue from the ontological status we assign to the elect vs. the ontological status of the reprobate. FV seems to think that the epistemological difficulties justify blurring the ontological categories.

    Nothing makes me think that any of those uses of the term “saints” is referring to non-elect members within the visible church. But context makes me think those particular instances are referring to the visible church without differentiation.

    Again, this ignores the judgment of charity in speech.

    All through the NT, ‘saints’ or ‘holy ones’ are said to be holy and set apart by virtue of their *vital* connection with Christ, not simply their connection with the visible church. This is evident, for example, in Ephesians 1-2, where the ‘saints’ are clearly elect and regenerate. Paul likewise uses the terms ‘brothers’ and ‘beloved’ just as freely. This does not imply that he is using the terms in some diminished or alternate sense. The reprobate inside the church are not brothers at all – they are pseudoadelphoi (Galatians 2), false brothers.

  130. rfwhite said,

    February 5, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    It seems to me that the apostasy of the rocky soil in the parable of the sower and the soils has to be interpreted in light of Jesus’ opening statement about apostates as those in whose case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled: ‘You will listen carefully yet will never understand, you will look closely yet will never comprehend’ (Matt 13.13-14). The emphatic negation οὐ μὴ (never, by no means) is telling: “you [apostate] will … never understand, you will … never comprehend.” To apostates it was not given by God to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven: that knowledge is the blessing of God to the elect alone. Those who apostatize knew all right, but their knowledge was according to the flesh (cf. 1 Cor 1:26), not the Spirit (1 Cor 2:6-16; Matt 13:11). As Jesus says, apostates “believed,” but their faith, as Jesus also says, was only “for a while” (Luke 8:13).

    The point I’m pressing is that apostates see, hear, know, and believe, but apostates do all those things without the blessing of God — it is not given by God to them to see, hear, know, and believe “lest they turn and be forgiven.” Only the elect are said to be “blessed” (13.16) and “gifted” (13.11) to see, hear, know, and believe such that they “turn and are forgiven.” Clearly, apostates were not blessed to turn and be forgiven even though they are said to “believe for a while.” There is no forgiveness for those who have temporary faith. In fact, they are the ones who have not and even what they have will be taken away.

  131. June 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    […] his most recent post on assurance and apostasy, Lane frames the question of assurance this way: “Can a believer be […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 351 other followers

%d bloggers like this: