I’m Back (And Heads Up, Sean Gerety)

When I came back to the surface after nearly drowning in the month of September, I was astonished to find that I had any readers left. I had had two classis meetings and a Presbytery meeting in September, all one week right after another. I was even more astonished to find that I made the top five list of Keith Mathison’s favorite blogs. All sorts of astonishing things have been happening recently.

Another astonishing thing that I found out recently was that I figured rather prominently in a recent book by Sean Gerety, entitled Can the Presbyterian Church in America Be Saved?. The book is 130 pages, if you include the index, but not the extras at the back that are usually included in Trinity Foundation books. Of those 130 pages, I am mentioned on a whopping 17 pages. The reason that this is astonishing is that I am a nobody. My blog has a few readers, but I am not exactly what you would call a heavyweight in the PCA. I do not figure at all in the inner workings of the PCA. I know many who do figure in those inner workings, but I am not usually included in the “inner circle,” if one could call it that. At least, that is my impression. I’m not a speaker at conventions or conferences. And I’m only 31 years old. Obviously, Sean Gerety takes me a whole lot more seriously than I take myself, especially in terms of my importance. I’m flattered, in one way, that he would consider my position that important. I will take his position equally seriously. A quick note to moderators: Sean is allowed to respond to these review posts of his book either on my blog or on his own blog. I promised him that.

I am going to respond mostly to Sean’s assessment of my position. Firstly, on page 34 of this book, Sean says,

To give another example of the inability of Vantilians to effectively deal with the contradictory doublespeak of the Federal Visionists, and what is easily the most disturbing recent development in the battle to stop the spread of the Federal Vision, was the clean bill of health self-professed Vantilian and PCA pastor, Lane Keister, gave Doug Wilson on his “Green Baggins” blog.

Sean goes on to quote Doug Wilson as saying that “[Keister] has not found anything that would place me outside the pale of Reformed orthodoxy” (the quotation is from here).

Sean asked me then if I agreed with Wilson’s assessment.

This was my answer:

My problem with Wilson lies in this: although Wilson says many things that are Reformed in a positive sense, he is not willing to reject the errors of the other FV proponents. Personally, I am willing to believe that Wilson holds to justification by faith alone, although he is too ambiguous on the aliveness of faith and its place in justification. He does hold to imputation. But he will not distance himself from any error of the FV, no matter how egregious. That is why, if Wilson were to apply for admission into the Presbytery of which I am a part, I could not vote to approve his transfer of credentials. What I have sought to show is that it is not enough to affirm the truth. One must also reject the errors. This is equally important to affirming the truth. That is my answer, Sean.

I italicized what Sean had italicized in the book. Sean also quotes what I say in this post, which was a response to Sean’s post here. Just so people can follow the paper trail.

Sean’s assessment of Wilson is well-known, and can be summarized by what he says in the book:

It was unfathomable to me that any Christian man, much less a minster (sic) of the Gospel and someone even considered a recognized and respected foe of the Federal Vision, could read Wilson’s book and conclude anything other than Wilson was a very skilled false teacher who has replaced the Gospel of Christ with a clever fraud (p. 34).

His ultimate conclusion (at least he strongly hints in this direction) is that the ambiguity in Wilson’s position is a mask for deception, and that Rick Phillips (whom Sean also attacks for reading Wilson charitably in the Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros and Cons book) and I are just dupes (p. 36).

How does one respond to all this? Well, first of all, let me admit right off the bat that I have been duped by people in the past, and that it is possible that Doug Wilson duped me. I’m not convinced just yet that that is true, because I am not convinced that Sean has read Doug Wilson correctly. Sean Gerety and John Robbins co-wrote a book that also went into great detail about RINE (Wilson’s book Reformed In Not Enough). I have read Gerety/Robbins, and am not convinced that they have read Wilson correctly. We’ll get into more of that later, however. At the moment, however, I want to respond specifically to the claim that I have given Wilson a clean bill of health. Now, admittedly, different definitions could possibly exist for “clean bill of health” ranging from “I would barely let him into my church” to “I would ordain him without a second thought,” and everything in between. My position is this: Wilson does not belong in the PCA, but I would not call him a heretic. I said it a little differently before, in that I said I would not vote for him to come into my Presbytery.

Sean seems to think that if someone is sound on justification by faith alone, then that is the only important issue. He says, “Sorry, Lane, you’re wrong. You did give Wilson a clean bill of health on the central question — and frankly only question — of Christian orthodoxy and his teaching in RINE concerning JBFA.” My response would be, “So what about baptism, assurance, visible/invisible church distinction, paedo-communion, perseverance, and covenant?” Are those issues ones that we should shunt to the side when considering the Federal Vision, and whether or not someone is confessionally orthodox? JBFA is certainly the main hinge, as Calvin would say, or the article by which the church stands or falls. But these other issues are quite important as well. Consider this post part 1. We’ll get to Wilson’s doctrine of JBFA, don’t worry.

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113 Comments

  1. Scott said,

    October 2, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Well, Reverend Keister,

    God is using you more than you know.

    We’re grateful for that.

    Rejoice in that, be faithful, be strong.

  2. Paige Britton said,

    October 3, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Hey! I’m glad you resurfaced. I did wonder, and I did pray. :) You seem to be quite a competent juggler, though only human. It isn’t hard to see why one might mistake you for a “somebody.” :)

  3. Reed Here said,

    October 3, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Ah, yah light-weight ;-)

  4. October 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Welcome back, Lane! We missed you, oh wise guru and distinguished central figure of the PCA…

  5. Vern Crisler said,

    October 4, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Lane, just remember when you enter into the halls of the great, where people such as myself reside, the one thing you must learn above all others is humility.

    Vern
    ;-)

  6. GLW Johnson said,

    October 5, 2009 at 5:44 am

    Lane
    Be of good cheer SG’s reputation has already discredited his claim to be the rightful heir to Gordon Clark- something that Phil Johnson rightly pointed out last week over at Pyromaniacs.

  7. Pete Myers said,

    October 5, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Hey Lane,

    Paul was often misunderstood because he was subtle too.

    The reason that this is astonishing is that I am a nobody. My blog has a few readers, but I am not exactly what you would call a heavyweight in the PCA.

    I stopped blogging, because, I got concerned with the fact that I’m self-publishing with no editorial check, not under any authority, etc. My website is basically now sitting idle waiting for me to put my college essays on it if I get a decent mark for them!

    Just because its possible to self-publish internationally on the web – how much is it right to do so?? In what ways can Christians rightly submit their web publishing to the church? These are things I’ve been thinking through with no firm conclusion as yet.

    The question is a little more academic for me though – becuase you do a far better job of running a blog! Because of that you – as you’ve spotted – exercise a measure of influence through your blog, since you get lots of readers, and also seem to attract discussion and debate. And as you’ve also spotted – your influence extends beyond your level of ordained authority in your denomination.

    I noticed that, cleverly, by having a few editors on the blog, you’ve got some sense of accountability.

    So… just wondered what you thought on the issue of self-publishing vis-a-vis church authority?

  8. David Gray said,

    October 5, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    >something that Phil Johnson rightly pointed out last week over at Pyromaniacs

    Could you give a link for that?

  9. David Gadbois said,

    October 5, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Lane, I’m glad to see you back.

    I’m not glad to see that you are responding to Sean Gerety, and giving his bloviations the time of day. This strand of hyper-Clarkianism should have been left to die in obscurity along with the scoundrel, schismatic, empty-headed, un-presbyterian, and un-ordained John Robbins. Undoubtedly, they are the Jack Chicks of the the rationalist sect of presbyterianism (which, undebatably, was not confessional in character on the nature of faith).

  10. jared said,

    October 5, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    I was thinking the same thing as David Gadbois; it was a weird experience for me (yes, that is supposed to be humor). Thanks for putting into words, though, David.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    October 6, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Thanks, David for your words. In response, I promised Sean I would review the book if he gave me a free copy of it. I was (naturally) interested in seeing what he had said about me. I noticed that he has not responded yet.

    Pete, you have definitely put your finger on a very important problem with the internet, one which Carl Trueman has dealt with on quite a few occasions. I have found that accountability can be present in more than one way. For instance, a lot of my fellow Presbyters read my blog. They call me to account when I do or say something wrong. The debates on the blog itself also hold me accountable. Blog posts can be edited, which is a good thing. It doesn’t work the same as peer reviewed scholarship, of course, because the blog is posted before accountability rather than after. That is why I believe extra steps must be taken in order to prevent problems that can occur. I ask myself these questions: 1. Do you remember that the whole world can see this? 2. Would you say this about that person if he or she were standing right in front of you? 3. Have you broken the 9th commandment at all in this post? 4. Have you at least made the attempt to be humble about setting forth your opinions? 5. How is this going to sound to someone who disagrees with you? I try to ask these kinds of questions of what I am writing before it is published. It does help, even if it doesn’t eliminate all problems.

  12. Sean Gerety said,

    October 6, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Hey David, you’re own bloviating vitriolic ad hominem aside, John Robbins was an ordained elder in the PCA. He resigned from the session of his church in TN when it became painfully clear that his session was not only unwilling to do anything concerning the spread of the FV within their own Presbytery, but even actively defended FV heretics like Steve Schlissel and Steve Wilkins, and, just like you, attacked Robbins instead. It seems you have a lot in common with John’s old session. You can read about it here:

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/midway.php

    And, to Lane, so far there has been nothing to respond to. I am looking forward to reading your defense of Doug Wilson concerning the vitals of the faith. That should be interesting.

  13. tim prussic said,

    October 6, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Pastor Lane, I think it’s too bad that you’re given Mr. Gerety a place to publish his views. I roundly agree with David; the Trinity Foundation should rest in peace with its maker.

  14. Sean Gerety said,

    October 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    I can really feel the brotherly love. It’s so nice we’re all one in Jesus. :)

  15. David Gray said,

    October 6, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    >I can really feel the brotherly love. It’s so nice we’re all one in Jesus. :)

    I feel the irony…

  16. Daniel F said,

    October 7, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Sean, that’s interesting that you made the (what I took to be a) sarcastic comment about all the “brotherly love” since your dealings with the FV on your blog has not been what most Christians would call charitable. A man reaps what he sows. I have been calling you to be charitable towards your FV brothers. Of course, you don’t view them as orthodox (so I guess that justifies being uncharitable?), but neither do I view Robbins as orthodox.

    I want to be charitable towards Robbins, even though I can’t take his writings seriously. If I interacted with his books on my blog, I would want to be very careful to reflect what he really says. This is something greensbaggins (Pastor K) has done very well. I think his interactions with DW have been exemplary in this respect. those “5 steps” he goes through are a very very good idea!

  17. tim prussic said,

    October 7, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Sean, I don’t have any problem loving you, brother. I just don’t think your ideas (nor the way they’re typically expressed) are edifying. It was the same way with John Robbins… got along just fine with that guy personally, but his ideas and the expression of them was usually not very helpful. Maybe we can rise above all that.

  18. Sean Gerety said,

    October 7, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Daniel, I have read Wilson charitably. He is a Christ denying heretic any way you slice it. He denies, in total, the very heart of the gospel and your posting his recent sermon (the long version and not the little snippet you selectively posted on Youtube) on my blog from this past September is only one more demonstration of that sad but obvious fact.

    Further, those teachers advancing the FV are neither Christians or brothers. And that is being charitable. They are false teachers, antichrists, and should be marked and recognized as such. If you are a Christian, you should take your wife and young family and get out of Moscow and Wilson’s corrupt church as fast as you can.

    Beyond that, do you think I really care what you or other men on this blog or anywhere else think of me? John Robbins has been sounding the alarm against the spreading heresy of the FV even before the FV had a name and look how these men treat him. Anyone can read for example his 1992 piece on James Jordan and the Recon Road to Rome and see all the central elements of the FV mapped out. I for one am forever appreciative of his work and efforts. He was a blessing.

  19. greenbaggins said,

    October 7, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Tim, this is a genuinely curious question. When you look at some of the things that James Jordan has said, go look over at “The Happy TR” blog so see a very good example, do you put him in the same camp with John Robbins?

  20. David Gray said,

    October 7, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    >He is a Christ denying heretic any way you slice it.

    Not from a Christian perspective.

  21. tim prussic said,

    October 7, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Pastor, I think that there are significant similarities between Jordan and Robbins. They’ve both quite abrasive and don’t extend much in the way of charity. Jordan, ISTM, offers a great deal of thoughtful analysis of OT symbolism (even if some of it seems to be coming out of left field), while Robbins honestly offers very little of enduring value or penetrating insight. I think Clark was more helpful than Robbins, and I’ve enjoyed Clark’s commentaries and some of his other writings, even as I’ve enjoyed some Jordan’s work; just about everything I’ve read from Robbins, however, has left me flat or out-and-out disgusted. Another point of comparison: I’ve met and spent a number of hours with Robbins (over the course of 3 or 4 days at my seminary). Except in debate, he was downright pleasant. I’ve only met Jordan in passing and have exchanged but a few words with him. That said, he didn’t seem as pleasant as Robbin on a personal level.

  22. tim prussic said,

    October 7, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    #18 is a textbook Trinity Review entry.

    The self-appointed (untrained) watchdog of the Reformed world has shuffled off this mortal coil and that is a blessing. May he rest in peace. I look forward to sharing eternity with him in perfect fellowship.

  23. Sean Gerety said,

    October 7, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Tim, are you going to answer Lane’s question?

  24. tim prussic said,

    October 8, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Sean, see #21… that’s where I tried to answer his question. I’m happy to field follow ups.

  25. Sean Gerety said,

    October 8, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Tim, read the question again. The question was not a request for you to wax on irrelevantly about Jordan and Robbins, but rather would you put The Happy TR blog in the same camp with John Robbins?

  26. Sean Gerety said,

    October 8, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Never mind Tim, I guess you did answer Lane’s question after all and I misread him. I stand corrected.

  27. greenbaggins said,

    October 8, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Thanks, Tim, you did answer my question. I think that James Jordan’s bile is not consistent with a Christian witness. No doubt, both Jordan and Robbins think they are defending the Gospel (well, the latter is dead). I think that Robbins just didn’t know when to quit. A person can disagree with someone else. Fine. But one does not have to spew bile in order to do it. I fear that Robbins fell into this trap even while thinking he was defending the Gospel in doing so. The only thing such language tends to do is make the fence stronger between positions. It will hardly ever convince someone on the other side of that fence.

  28. Sean Gerety said,

    October 8, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Lane, you said to me: “There is a time for defending the central truths of the Christian faith with all the Pauline offensiveness necessary.” In my view, that is exactly what John Robbins did. The problem is that you don’t think the central truths of the Christian faith are actually being threaten by the Federal Vision as exemplified by their chief spokesman, Doug Wilson. Which perhaps explains why you would draw a comparison of Robbins and Jordan. In your mind they’re the same. It also explains why you allowed Wilson to tickle your ears for more than a year and is why you exonerated him on “the central truths of the Christian faith.”

    What you did on an individual level is no different than what the LAP or the PNWP or your own Siouxlands Pres did on a corporate level when they exonerated others who share Wilson’s doctrines and vision. You should repent.

  29. Eric said,

    October 8, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    @David Gadbois: The way you talk about Robbins is the same if not worse than what I’ve seen Robbins say about others. Why you complain about the way he talks seems, therefore, odd and hypocritical. If anything, Robbins was very strong in his ecclesiology. To call him un-presbyterian makes you look like rather stupid. Don’t like the man? Fine. But don’t talk from where the sun doesn’t shine.

    @David Gray: I’ve heard other presbyterian pastors call Doug Wilson a heretic. So I don’t get why you think Sean Gerety is somehow alone in this.

  30. tim prussic said,

    October 9, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Eric, anything Gadbois has had to say about Robbins is fifteen shades lighter than the vitriol that came out of Robbins. Further, even it were not so, your scathing little rebuke seems quite hypocritical.

  31. Sean Gerety said,

    October 9, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Hey, Prussic, why don’t you prove it?

    I’ve read virtually everything Robbins has published, including his1988 book banned by the Federal Government, Pat Robertson: A Warning to America and nothing I’ve read by him warrants your and Gadbois gross libel. You remind me of all the whining Vantilians who complained loudly about Robbins’ excellent Van Til, The Man and the Myth, but who were impotent to refute any of the arguments he raised in the booklet. Instead like little girls they complained about his “tone.”

  32. Sean Gerety said,

    October 9, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    And, Prussic, just so you know what you need to do, you need to find an example that can top Gadbois big gob of vitriolic spit.

  33. Sean Gerety said,

    October 9, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I apologize. Correction. You need to find an example that can top Gadbois big lying gob of vitriolic spit. :)

  34. tim prussic said,

    October 9, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Sean, your name calling will get you nowhere. I have no interest in engaging you, as it would be a waste of my time. As mentioned, it’s too bad that Pr. Lane’s given you a forum to vent. Have a good weekend!

  35. Lee said,

    October 9, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    In an attempt to get this back on track rather than off on a tangent about Robbins, the first question here seems to be whether or not you saying you believe Wilson believes in justification by faith alone is a clean bill of health. I have to say not voting to ordain someone is not the same as saying he is a heretic. But the problem Sean seems to have is you agreeing that Wilson actually believes it.

    A second related problem is whether or not refusing to reject errors is the same as holding to them; thus, making one a heretic. Why Wilson refuses to reject them seems to be of some importance here.

  36. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 10, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Lee: “A second related problem is whether or not refusing to reject errors is the same as holding to them; thus, making one a heretic. Why Wilson refuses to reject them seems to be of some importance here.”

    I’ve been thinking about the issue of rejecting error and it’s place in the Christian’s walk with God. And it really depends on the severity of the error.

    Let’s suppose it’s an error that merits the charge of heresy (although I haven’t defined heresy). Then rejecting error would be very important, particularly for undersheperds of the church. If an undershepherd doesn’t reject severe error, isn’t he derelict in his duty to protect the sheep?

    If you don’t take a stand to reject severe error, don’t you risk having the saying “Evil happens when good men do nothing” come true?

    It seems to me that undersheperds are half-assing it when they only want to affirm orthodoxy, but refuse to reject severe error and refuse to sternly, but lovingly rebuke teachers of severely false doctrine.

    I think the leaven of heresy flourishes in an environment where only affirmations of orthodoxy are given while polemics at rejecting error are heavily discouraged and frowned upon because they offend false teachers.

    Of course, the kicker in all the above is establishing that severe error is occuring when errors are very subtle and not everyone agrees on whether an error has even occurred, much less the severity of it.

    P.S. I’m almost to the point where the first person to complain about “tone” is the first one to lose the argument. He can’t win on the merits or substance of his argument so then he has to resort to red herrings about “tone” so that he doesn’t have to admit that his position is wrong.

  37. David Gray said,

    October 10, 2009 at 3:53 am

    >If you don’t take a stand to reject severe error, don’t you risk having the saying “Evil happens when good men do nothing” come true?

    Sometimes evil happens when good men do something.

  38. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 10, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Sometimes evil happens when good men do something.

    OT Prophet Jeremiah. John the Baptist beheaded. Other examples in Scripture too attest to the veracity of that statement. Yet these men and women of God still acted in faithfulness to God.

  39. Vern Crisler said,

    October 10, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I figured it wouldn’t take much time before Sean would get around to dissing Van Til or “Vantilians.” That’s who he really hates, not FVists. Doug Wilson and the Federal Vision are just occasions for him to vent against “Vantilians.” It would be interesting to see if Sean could ever get through a critique of the Federal Vision without once mentioning Van Til. I wouldn’t hold my breath over it, though.

  40. Lee said,

    October 10, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    I have never seen a group of people complain more about tone, which inherently is subjective and whine about attacks on Van Til, which is not a confessional matter, than reading the posts here. Did Robbins use a type of language that I would have avoided? Absolutely. Did I find his tone winsome? Not particluraly. Are my sensibilities the standard? No, not at all. Doug Wilson uses a similar style of sarcasm as Robbins and even uses metaphors that occassionally offend, yet he is not lampooned half as much for his violations of tone as the Trinity Foundation members are.

    My point is simply this. This book is claiming that the PCA is beyond saving. That it is functionally apostate. A serious claim. And from the differing responses of the Presbyteries even after the decision of the GA, it is not a claim that can be dismissed out of hand. This blog has a number of serious minded and thoughtful Christians who read and respond regularly. I hope that this topic will actually receive that discussion.

    I for one am glad that Lane has decided to interact with the book. The topic is too important to ignore.

  41. Vern Crisler said,

    October 11, 2009 at 2:01 am

    That’s the point Lee. Maybe Sean would be taken more seriously if he would leave of his rants about Van Til when discussing FVism.

  42. Sean Gerety said,

    October 11, 2009 at 6:22 am

    And if men like you took my “rants” about Van Til more seriously we wouldn’t be discussing FVism.

  43. David Gray said,

    October 11, 2009 at 7:13 am

    >And if men like you took my “rants” about Van Til more seriously we wouldn’t be discussing FVism.

    Actually the best approach is to take none of your rants seriously, FV, Van Til or most anything else…

  44. eric said,

    October 12, 2009 at 12:45 am

    @Prussic: Sorry I took so long to reply. Not sure how my previous post was hypocritical or scathing (Really? Scathing? Do you bruise easily too?).

    All I said his comment made him look stupid since it attributed to Robbins something that was totally wrong. I also said was that Gadbois comment was hypocritical since it was worse than anything I’ve seen Robbins write in listservs or books. Has Robbins written some really horrible things? Maybe, but I haven’t seen them. When I’ve asked others to show me some of the horrible things Robbins has said, no links or writings have been provided. I’m just told to believe it. Hence my comment about Gadbois writing something worse than anything Robbins has ever written.

    Apparently in the end, Prussic, you’re not that bright either. And since Gadbois’ choice of words aren’t so bad in your opinion, I might as well add that you’re a scoundrel. Sleep well tonight and tend your bruises. Don’t want you crying all day.

    PS – Sorry for the tangent. But I look forward to Keister’s interaction with Gerety’s book.

  45. Reformed Sinner said,

    October 12, 2009 at 3:36 am

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/horror_show.php?id=32

    That was pretty stupid. Even if his distaste for Seely’s articles are true that doesn’t warrant a call to stop funding WTS nor does it warrant calling WTS an institution of “infidels” and “infidelity”

    Anyway, an easy browse of http://www.trinityfoundation.org will show similar unsubstantiated articles but him or others, especially when the matters pertains to Van Til, WTS, or OPC. They get real emotional and downright nasty when those topics are bought up.

  46. Reformed Sinner said,

    October 12, 2009 at 3:39 am

    #31,

    Actually, little girls or not his tone is embarassing, but it would be ok if he has anything constructive critiques to apply to Van Til, however, at the end the book falls short on substance, thought I suspect many anti-VanTil folks love the book preciously because of the tone.

    Robbin’s book made Sproul/Grentz book on Classical Apologetics and a critic of Van Til’s apologetics look like a masterpiece, and that book is already horrific in evaluating Van Til.

  47. Eric said,

    October 12, 2009 at 9:35 am

    #45,
    Apparently you can’t read the title of the article. The article was simply another explanation of why, according to Robbins, funding should be stopped for WTS. Robbins wasn’t citing Seely as the only reason to stop funding WTS and in calling WTS to have stop subsidizing infidelity.

    #46,
    Unlike you, at least Doug Jones tried to refute Robbins argument. Too bad Robbins refuted Doug Jones, to which Bahnsen gave an emotional response to. In addition, Reymond in his Justification of Knowledge also makes some of the same claims Robbins did in Robbins’ booklet. Reymond must be short on substance as well.

  48. David Gadbois said,

    October 12, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    My mistake – I should have said that Robbins was not ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament (or TE). He was ordained as a ruling elder.

    Eric said The way you talk about Robbins is the same if not worse than what I’ve seen Robbins say about others. Why you complain about the way he talks seems, therefore, odd and hypocritical.

    You’ll notice that I didn’t comment on ‘the way he talks.’ I said he was schismatic, which is not the same thing.

    The moral issue is not whether or not one uses harsher labels than someone else. The moral issue is whether or not the labels are justified or not.


    If anything, Robbins was very strong in his ecclesiology. To call him un-presbyterian makes you look like rather stupid.

    His ecclesiology was apparently so strong that he left the PCA to become a member of an independent, unaffiliated congregation (which oxymoronically called itself presbyterian).

  49. Eric said,

    October 12, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    #48,

    The moral issue is not whether or not one uses harsher labels than someone else. The moral issue is whether or not the labels are justified or not.

    This I know; even Robbins has stated this. Too bad you never argued whether or not Robbins was justified. All you did was label him. Good job, Gadbois! It’s a shame that Robbins actually talked about and explained his reasons. That was crazy for Robbins to do. Who needs to explain anything they do? I mean, you haven’t.

    His ecclesiology was apparently so strong that he left the PCA to become a member of an independent, unaffiliated congregation (which oxymoronically called itself presbyterian).

    Yes, yes. It’s always wrong to leave a denomination unless they have another one to go to. Other denominations will be fortunate if you stay with your current one so as not to spread your less-than-fully-thought-out-thoughts. I so sorry. I love you long time.

  50. David Gadbois said,

    October 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Eric said Too bad you never argued whether or not Robbins was justified.

    So? In the context of my response to Lane, making some an argument was unnecessary.

    Yes, yes. It’s always wrong to leave a denomination unless they have another one to go to.

    Why do you present this idea as being ridiculous? The fact is that there ARE other denominations to go to, or at least other true churches to federate with.

  51. Sean Gerety said,

    October 12, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I said he was schismatic, which is not the same thing.

    And that’s a lie too. The schimatics are men like Wilson who through their false gospel continue to sow division in the church, disrupted its peace, and provided a welcome haven for fellow antichrists in his false and very un-Presbyterian Confederation of Phony Evangelicals. Frankly, Lane Keister has given wide and open access to FV schismatics on this blog and has rewarded them nicely, Wilson in particular.

    Further, Robbins was ordained to preach in the PCA. You’re obviously completely uninformed about the man you continue to libel with impunity and with the blessing of the other moderators on this blog and evidently Keister himself. The fact is, leaving the PCA which continues, and with no end in sight, to permit the preaching of false gopsels, whether the one found in Wilson’s false religion or that of his buddy N.T. Wright’s, is no sin. Actually, it’s a Christian’s biblical duty (2 Corinthians 6:14ff).

    Further, you also lie when you say that Robbins and others who share Clark’s definition of faith are “not confessional in character on the nature of faith.” No matter how much I search I can’t find anywhere in WCF or the SC or LC where faith is defined as a combination of notitia, assensus, and fiducia? While you’re certainly free to hold to your unbiblical tautological traditional tri-fold definition of faith, the sad truth is it is you who is “not confessional in character on the nature of faith.” You impose a definition of faith on the confession which simply cannot be deduced from the Confession. Of course, rejecting the laws of logic as you do (you don’t want to be called a “rationalists” do you), I guess that’s not a problem for you.

    Finally, you call Scripturalists the “Jack Chicks of the the rationalist sect of presbyterianism.” Which I guess is preferable to the irrational sect of Vantilian paradox mongers that continue to coddle known enemies of the gospel and even refer to them as “brothers in Christ.”

  52. Eric said,

    October 12, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Why do you present this idea as being ridiculous? The fact is that there ARE other denominations to go to, or at least other true churches to federate with.

    Show me where I said or even implied that the idea was ridiculous? I never said that it’s wrong or inadvisable to join other denominations. I only assumed that it’s not always wrong. But you made a call that it’s wrong to be unaffiliated. No qualifications to that statement was given. Besides, where did these other denominations come from? Yea, see what I mean: less-than-fully-thought-out.

    So? In the context of my response to Lane, making some an argument was unnecessary.

    Exactly. So I don’t need to explain anything when I say that you should go home and cry. We can hug it out later.

    I’m guessing you’ll continue to respond all over the place. Too bad I don’t have time to teach you how to read, process ideas, research, etc. Someone else will have to do that for you. But I’ll give you a lollipop to soothe the process. You want the yellow one or the red one? I ran out of green.

  53. tim prussic said,

    October 12, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    WLC #72 – What is justifying faith? Among other things, it is that which “not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.”

    Do notice, Sean, the tripartite, or as you prefer to call is, the “unbiblical tautological traditional tri-fold” definition of faith is taught in the Standards. If you deny these three words: assent, receive, and rest, refer to the classical Latin verbiage, your historical theology is deeply lacking. I mentioned this specifically to Dr. Robbins in a public Q & A session. He responded something very close to the fact that my Latin words sounded like they came out of the Vulgate, and the Rome spoke Latin. There it is – Robbins’s erudite response to my argument: dismissal and guilt by verbal association… and in public to boot! I was embarrassed for him.

  54. David Gadbois said,

    October 12, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    And that’s a lie too. The schimatics are men like Wilson…

    Even if Wilson is schismatic, that doesn’t exhonerate Robbins. A pox on both your houses.

    Further, Robbins was ordained to preach in the PCA.

    He was *licensed* to preach, meaning he was not a TE.

    And did I mention no seminary degree?

    Further, you also lie when you say that Robbins and others who share Clark’s definition of faith are “not confessional in character on the nature of faith.” No matter how much I search I can’t find anywhere in WCF or the SC or LC where faith is defined as a combination of notitia, assensus, and fiducia?

    I’m a URC member, so I do very much care that Robbins denied Heidelberg Catechism 21, which teaches that true faith is not only knowledge, but also ‘assured confidence’ (trust).

    As for the Westminster Standards, the same thing is echoed in WLC 72 (‘not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness’). In both cases receptive trust is distinguished from bare knowledge.

    Which I guess is preferable to the irrational sect of Vantilian paradox mongers that continue to coddle known enemies of the gospel

    The truth or falsity of the Federal Vision does not hinge on whether or not paradox is a valid category. It is subject to rather plain analysis using the normal tools of exegesis and systematic theology.

  55. Sean Gerety said,

    October 12, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Do notice, Sean, the tripartite, or as you prefer to call is, the “unbiblical tautological traditional tri-fold” definition of faith is taught in the Standards

    I did notice Tim and the Confession teaches no such thing. There is a distinction being drawn, but it is not what you think. But since you men revile the late John Robbins so much, and can hardly contain yourselves now that he’s dead, why not hear how he answered your empty charge in a letter to Alan Strange:

    Question 72 does indeed have a contrast in mind, but it is not contrasting assent with “receiving and resting,” as Dr. Strange mistakenly supposes. There are two reasons Dr. Strange’s contrast cannot be correct.

    First, “receiving and resting” are figures of speech, and “assenting” is literal language. “Receiving and resting” mean “assenting.” Dr. Strange has made the common theological error of taking a figure of speech as literal. Incidentally, that is why he fails to offer any definition of “receiving and resting” that differentiates them from assent. In fact, they are not different, but metaphorical expressions of the literal word, “assent.”

    The second reason that Q. 72 is not contrasting “assenting” with “receiving and resting” is that the authors of the Westminster Standards have a different contrast in mind. Reading the Standards with subjectivist presuppositions, Dr. Strange supposes they are contrasting differing psychologies of faith (assent vs. receiving and resting), when they are actually contrasting the truths believed. Psychology was not on the minds of the Westminster Assembly, but making clear what truths had to be believed in order to be saved was. Dr. Strange forgets that the word “faith” has two distinct meanings, one objective and one subjective. The Standards are contrasting belief in the “promise of the Gospel,” that is, in the truth of eternal life, with belief in the “righteousness [of Christ] for pardon of sin, and the accepting and accounting of his person righteous.” They are making clear that the sinner must not only believe in (assent to) salvation from sin and eternal life (which they call the “promise of the Gospel”), but that he must also believe in (assent to) the imputed righteousness of Christ in order to be saved. Their concern is that the proper object of faith is believed, not that some undefined and nebulous mental state must be added to belief in order to make it efficacious. Their message is that belief in eternal life and pardon from sin is not saving faith, but to that must be added belief in Christ and his righteousness as the sole means of obtaining eternal life.

  56. Pete Myers said,

    October 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    #11 Lane,

    Sorry for not replying sooner, I don’t have as much time for the web as I used to.

    Thanks for your response Lane, they’re good principles, and I’ll give them some thought.

    Pete

  57. David Gadbois said,

    October 12, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Eric said I only assumed that it’s not always wrong. But you made a call that it’s wrong to be unaffiliated. No qualifications to that statement was given

    If you have a high ecclesiology, it is indeed always wrong. As long as there are true churches that can be federated with, or other orthodox denominations to join with, then going lone ranger ‘unaffiliated’ is decidedly low ecclesiology. And if low ecclesiology is wrong, then it is certainly wrong to be independent in this way.

    Exactly. So I don’t need to explain anything when I say that you should go home and cry. We can hug it out later.

    Most everyone who has read Robbins’ work doesn’t need to be presented an argument to this effect. You’ll just have to live with the fact that, very often, comments in blog posts aren’t directed to you or the 5% readership minority.

  58. Sean Gerety said,

    October 12, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    And, did I mention no seminary degree?

    Given the complete mush mindedness of those Vantilians, tri-persectivalists, and other similar imperious P&R men who like to parade their seminary degrees around, I consider that a blessing.

    I’m a URC member, so I do very much care that Robbins denied Heidelberg Catechism 21, which teaches that true faith is not only knowledge, but also ‘assured confidence’ (trust).

    Another reason why the WCF is superior since “assured confidence” which is a psychological state of mind is better attributed to the doctrine of assurance rather than as part of the definition of faith.

    As for the Westminster Standards, the same thing is echoed in WLC 72 (’not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness’). In both cases receptive trust is distinguished from bare knowledge.

    Wrong again. See above.

    The truth or falsity of the Federal Vision does not hinge on whether or not paradox is a valid category.

    Paradox is a valid category, just not as Van Til and his many followers define it. As such it is indeed relevant to the “truth or falsity of the Federal Vision” and explains why men schooled in this particular category have been so profoundly impotent in stopping the spread of the FV within the PCA and beyond and why they have even been so completely duped but charlatans and con men like Doug Wilson. Robert Reymond, who I guess you’d also compare to Jack Chick, provides a lengthy explanation of why this is in his Systematics as well. You should take some time and study it before you say any more stupid things.

  59. David Gadbois said,

    October 12, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Sean said As such it is indeed relevant to the “truth or falsity of the Federal Vision” and explains why men schooled in this particular category have been so profoundly impotent in stopping the spread of the FV within the PCA and beyond

    Assertion in lieu of argument.

    Robert Reymond, who I guess you’d also compare to Jack Chick, provides a lengthy explanation of why this is in his Systematics as well. You should take some time and study it before you say any more stupid things.

    Actually, I bought the 1st edition of his ST right when it was published, when I was in college and couldn’t afford many books at all. It is still one of my favorite STs.

    He addresses Shepherd and Fuller, but 1. criticizes them on normal exegetical grounds, not on philosophical or epistemological and 2. it was published in 1998, pre-dating the Auburn Avenue conference.

  60. Sean Gerety said,

    October 12, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    He addresses Shepherd and Fuller, but 1. criticizes them on normal exegetical grounds, not on philosophical or epistemological and 2. it was published in 1998, pre-dating the Auburn Avenue conference.

    I was referring to his discussion of the idea of biblical paradox. Given the sad track record of the PCA in dealing with the FV, the fact that he wrote it in 1998 only makes his arguments even more prescient.

  61. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 12, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    (Not intended as a joke)

    With regards to doctrinal conflict, pursuing purity, praying for unity, schism, and biblical separation, what really is the difference between all the denominations and churches claiming to be Reform and Presbyterian with all the independent Baptist churches/denominations otherwise known as the Fundamentalists who go through the same thing?

    Different polity, paedo-baptism vs. credo-baptism, but when it comes to disputes over doctrine, experiencing conflict, and undergoing biblical separation (some say schism), both Presbys and Baptists seem essentially similar.

  62. tim prussic said,

    October 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Sean, my ‘empty charge’ is not answered in the quote above. He supposes that the divines multiply words in order to mean the same thing. Then he goes on to say that the thing (faith) is the same, but the things believed different. Examining the Catechism, we see that the “truth of the promise” is being assented to and that Christ and his righteousness are being received and rested in. The difference here is that the first is propositional, while that latter is personal and forensic. Christ is no mere proposition, nor his righteousness, though the promise of them is. The truth of the promise is, therefore, that to which we intellectually assent, while Christ himself is trusted and we rest in his righteousness imputed to us. Robbins betrays his tendency toward rationalism, in that he flattens this all out into intellectual assent. I think the divines had a more robust view of men and things than Trinity Foundation guys do. In any event, there’s just no escaping that the divines are alluding to a long-standing tripartite view of the aspects of faith… that’s why they used the three words! Just admit it and move on; quit trying to recreate the Catechism in your image.

  63. David Gray said,

    October 12, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    >If you have a high ecclesiology, it is indeed always wrong.

    Spot on.

  64. Sean Gerety said,

    October 13, 2009 at 6:40 am

    I’ll certainly “move on” Tim, because I can’t even begin to take the time to unravel your profound confusion. Your argument amounts to: The divines used three words, therefore those three words mirror the traditional tripartite definition which also consists of three words. However, you do capture the kind of confusion concerning the nature of saving faith that has allowed FV to penetrate the church so deeply.

  65. ray kikkert said,

    October 13, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I stop by the GB blog on occasion and some topics I respond to. This would have to be one.

    I agree with Sean … FV theology is heretical and men as Doug Wilson, John Barach are heretics and this based on their explanations of major dogmatic doctrines within the reformed faith. They are not at a loss for words. Modern day remonstrants and arminians. They wish to “redeem” the reformed faith with the same corrupt doctrine the apostle Paul admonished the Galatians of. Bewitching indeed.

    The PCA are not the only one’s quilty of straddling the fence. The URC are as guilty. Both have drawn up positions that refute the filfth that passes for reformed doctrine in the vain philosophy of the FV advocate … but as of yet remain quite tedious to back up the written part. They have had time to do so, but have not. I am waiting to see when fraternal relations will start with the CREC. It’s bound to happen with so called “brothers”.

    Such is the case I see anyways with the GB blog. Lot’s of talk … babble even… but no real intent to do anything about it. If your name appears in a book it’s because your very much active in the discussion. It does not have to mean your something of a bigshot … it means you have interacted quite a bit and are in the thick of it.

    Every denomination has it’s share of problems and the wolves do not discriminate as to which one. It is what you will do with the wolves … will you get rid of them or will you have them peck away at the flock? Be careful of those in your circles who befriend and run with the wolfpack. They are not to be trusted.

  66. October 27, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Wow. Sean Gerety just threw a firebreathing temper tantrum against the Siouxlands Presbytery.

    http://godshammer.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/siouxlands-schizophrenia/

  67. David Gray said,

    October 27, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    >Sean Gerety just threw a firebreathing temper tantrum

    Actually by his standards I thought he was remarkably calm…

  68. October 27, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    That was calm? Seriously? C’mon!

    He all but called me an FV stooge and a coward on his blog when I challenged him on his tone.

    I bet his wife has to tie a pork chop around his neck just to get the family dog to play with him.

  69. GLW Johnson said,

    October 28, 2009 at 6:05 am

    BC
    Actually, this was one of SG’s better analysis in that he didn’t end up lynching Van Til as the real evil genuis behind the FV ( Van Til is to SG and the late John Robbins what Professor Moriarty was to Sherlock Holmes) That’s an improvement, wouldn’t you say?

  70. David Gray said,

    October 28, 2009 at 6:30 am

    >That was calm?

    Only by his standards.

  71. Sean Gerety said,

    October 28, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Sorry, forgot to turn off the itals. Doh!

  72. October 28, 2009 at 9:30 am

    OK Sean, then I apologize for mischaracterizing you comments when I said that you all but called me a coward.

    I notice you didn’t deny the “FV Stooge” part, though.

  73. October 28, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Sean,

    Here is a stylistic model for writing about these things:

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/something-weird-in-the-siouxlands/

    You might try emulating it. It will make it easier for people to hear what you’re saying.

  74. October 29, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    [...] is the sort of language that offends some and often leads to complaints about “tone.”  It could even get one banned from posting on certain blogs.  But Gerety’s on solid ground [...]

  75. October 30, 2009 at 9:22 am

    [...] Originally Posted by fredtgreco Typical Gerety: bomb throwing, everything is Van Til's fault, and only disciples of Robbins can save us. Thanks but can you expand on this? I assume you are saying it might not be worth reading? I would not recommend it. I believe that the FV is serious problem, but I do not think that Gerety has correctly identified it source (or the solution). He typically uses hyperbole, which is especially unhelpful in this kind of theological controversy. He did indeed use to post here, but was banned. There is more on this book at Lane Keister's blog (Green Baggins) from which he was also banned for his language and tone. I’m Back (And Heads Up, Sean Gerety) Green Baggins [...]

  76. R. Martin Snyder said,

    October 30, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Just a few words.

    I find it amazing that one of the central issues concerning Covenant Theology is rarely addressed in this discussion. Maybe it is something that I hold too dear to. But I absolutely love the doctrine of the Covenant of Works and the Bi-Covenantal system of understanding our Bible. I include the Covenant of Redemption in the Covenant of Grace. Sorry if that bothers some of you. Well, not really.

    The Federal Vision advocates hate this system of theology. Now they will acknowledge some form of the CofW but all of them that I have known of hold to a monocovenantalism which teaches only one Covenantal structure of grace for understanding the workings of God in historical redemption. This simply amazes me. This is so far from being Confessional that it ought to make the Confessional Church rise up and cry against it. It totally changes the Work of Christ and what He did. John Coloquoun made a great observation concerning this issue.

    John Coloquoun
    http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/puritancovenanter/347-mingled-covenants-gospel-law-neither.html

    Here is a typical quote by an FVer. BTW, Mark Horne use to spew this stuff also on his blog but I can’t find were he wrote about his monotheism and the Covenant of Works being gracious. I use to moderate the Reformation SuperHighway also which allowed this tripe to spew.

    Here is a quote from the Wilson rag.

    Here is what Douglas Wilson says about the Covenant of Works.

    quote.
    Furthermore, because the first covenant with Adam was a gracious covenant, coming from a gracious God, with the condition of the first covenant being the covenantal faithfulness of Adam, not merit, FV proponents suggest that believers should recognize the essential unity of the covenants from Adam through Christ. They are all basically the same with the same condition, covenant faithfulness. In addition, FV writers unanimously reject the concept of merit under the covenant of works: “God did not have an arrangement with Adam in the garden based on Adam’s possible merit. Everything good from God is grace. If Adam had passed the test, he would have done so by grace through faith”. Douglas Wilson, “Beyond the Five Solas,” Credenda/Agenda 16/2:15

    I also discussed this with Dr. R. Scott Clark whom some of you might or might not like. He responded to a similar question concerning Wilkin’s that I had asked him so I just used it as a response to the Doug Wilson quote.

    Here is Dr. Clark’s response.

    quote…

    The classic Reformed folk tended to use the expressions “covenant of works” and “covenant of life” and “covenat of nature” (and the like) interchangeably.

    Works refers to the terms.

    Life refers to the goal.

    Nature refers to the setting.

    It’s not that complicated.

    Wilkins clearly denies the substance of the covenant of works. According to W. the prelapsarian covenant is legal-gracious and the post-laps. cov. is gracious-legal.

    To admit a purely legal prelapsarian covenant does profound damage to the covenant moralist scheme because it entails the sort of law/gospel dichtomy which they abhor and which the Protestant faith embraces.

    Wilkins is advocating a “trust and obey” scheme before and after the fall. The Westminster Confession doesn’t. Neither do the rest of the Reformed confessions. They have it that Adam was righteous, holy, good and able to obey. He chose not to obey. He sinned. He fell and we with him. (The truth is, Adam) He didn’t fall from grace. He broke the law. The Wilkins account confuses law and grace. Of course, the Apostle Paul has no such problem.

    http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/puritancovenanter/48-working-federal-vision-summary-1689er.html

    This off base doctrine of monocovenantalism and teaching that the Covenant of grace is a gracious covenant is unconfessional and should be dealt with. Christ fulfilled the law on our behalf. He fulfilled what the first Adam failed to fulfill. If he didn’t than the justice of God was not met in Christ’s sacrificial atonement. There is no propitiation. The person and work of Christ is demerited by these men who teach this unconfessional and very unbiblical doctrine.

    BTW, I think Van Till got the paradox thing wrong as do many. That is a side issue in my estimation. The destruction of God’s biblical doctrine of the person and work of Christ is being attacked in an unbiblical teaching concerning Covenant Theology.

    Hope I have pricked the ears of some. May the Lord grant us eyes to see and ears to hear with or we will all fall by the wayside.

    Maybe that was more than a few words. LOL

    Be Encouraged and Contend for the Faith,
    R. Martin Snyder

  77. October 30, 2009 at 10:58 am

    This off base doctrine of monocovenantalism and teaching that the Covenant of grace is a gracious covenant is unconfessional and should be dealt with.

    OOPS. I should have written… that the Covenant of Works is a gracious covenant is unconfessional.

    I posted in way too much haste before checking spelling or grammar guys. I aint that smart so be kind please. LOL

  78. tim prussic said,

    November 2, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Mr. Snyder, I’m interested in working through some of your ideas above. I’m Tim *Good to meetcha* !

    I hold to a very clear distinction between the Adamic cov’t (works/nature/whatever) and the post-fall administration of the Cov’t of Grace (CoG). That is, when the dust settles, you and I are probably very, very close on this issue. I would like, however, to isolate a couple of Wilson’s comments and work through them.

    Let’s start here (and let’s try to be succinct and brief as possible!), with a definitions of “gracious” or “grace.” Can we work with a generalized notion like undeserved benevolence or undeserved goodness? In your mind, is the term “grace” reserved only for redemption (as in the ancient nature/grace setup)? If we can work with the term “grace” in the broad sense, then in what ways if the CoW gracious and in what ways is it not?

    Thanks, Tim

  79. R. Martin Snyder said,

    November 2, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Nice to have your acquaintance Tim.

    Actually if you want a more in-depth look at a discussion we had on this topic you could view a few threads on the Puritanboard. Lane participated a bit also.

    http://www.puritanboard.com/f31/mono-vs-bi-covenantal-view-38084/

    http://www.puritanboard.com/f31/dabney-graciousness-covenant-works-15098/

    http://www.puritanboard.com/f77/trinitarian-relationship-covenant-concerning-fv-15454/

    I think we need to understand the concept of grace and that of being gracious. God is gracious in condescending in anyway that he might in relating to His creation. So in one sense He was gracious in creation of his creatures. But as he is a Covenant God and relates to His creation by means of Covenant he made stipulations that merited a due recompense of actions rendered. Do this and live. I do believe that all of the decalogue is creation ordinance related. They are all involved with the violation of eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Even the one about honouring parents. Adam’s authority in that command would have been God. So there is a positive command related in that one. Violation of it would result in a wage of violating that command.

    I also hold to a more puritan understanding of grace. I don’t believe charis (χάρις) to be a blanket unmerited favor. The Greek word has too much other thought involved in the influence and power of God to bring an individual into a correct relationship with God either monergistically or synergistically. I hold to a view that the Gospel is the fulfilment of the Second Adam who fulfilled the Covenant of Works thus making him the perfect winner and earner of Heaven. He merited the Covenant of Life along with its promise of everlasting blessedness. In his atonement he met the justice of God and exhibited the Love of God toward His fallen creatures.

    The Covenant of Works is not a gracious covenant in that it only brings condemnation to the First Adam. It wasn’t an unmerited Covenant that brought peace and confirmed everlasting blessed fellowship with the creator based upon grace and not works. It would have been something that needed to be earned by a doing as well as a not doing. The Covenant of Grace is based solely upon the Person and Work of Christ on our behalf. There is no works that we must fulfill or perform to be included in its benefits. It is unmerited but it is also active in that it regenerates and brings us into a gospel obedience which could never cause us to earn or merit our Salvation as Christ has already done that.

    Hope I have cleared up any muddy mess I have created.

    Be Encouraged,
    Randy

  80. Reformed Sinner said,

    November 3, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Hi Randy,

    I’m a little confused by this paragraph:

    “The Covenant of Works is not a gracious covenant in that it only brings condemnation to the First Adam. It wasn’t an unmerited Covenant that brought peace and confirmed everlasting blessed fellowship with the creator based upon grace and not works. It would have been something that needed to be earned by a doing as well as a not doing. The Covenant of Grace is based solely upon the Person and Work of Christ on our behalf. There is no works that we must fulfill or perform to be included in its benefits. It is unmerited but it is also active in that it regenerates and brings us into a gospel obedience which could never cause us to earn or merit our Salvation as Christ has already done that.”

    You make it sound like God designed Cov. of Works only as a punishment/condemnation, however, Cov. of Works is gracious that Adam/Eve is also promised a gracious gift should they obey: eternal life. The Tree of Life is a sign that points to that promise, which is what Adam/Eve should of kept their gaze on. But instead, with the temptation of the Serpent, they chose freely to sin against God.

    Jesus earned nothing that isn’t offer to Adam in the context of that same Cov. of Works and fulfillment of it will result in gracious rewards, which we all know Jesus fulfilled.

    The chosen people of God, out of God’s election, still enjoy the benefits of being God’s children even thought it is unwarranted, that is the context of Cov. of Grace – free offer of the gifts of the Gospel.

    I really don’t see how you can say, definitively, that Cov. of Works is just for condemnation and has no grace elements.

  81. R. Martin Snyder said,

    November 3, 2009 at 11:47 am

    First off,

    Who are you Reformed Sinner? Just for future reference I do not respond to people who do not acknowledge who they are.

    You state that Adam was promised a gracious gift should they obey. That is one place were you err. He was promised life. Yes, God did promise life based upon obedience. But it wasn’t of Grace. It was promised upon the stipulation of complete obedience.

    As Romans 2 and 3 state that the doers of the law shall be just before God. But there are no doers. No one can fulfill it. No one has. We are all condemned. Then starting in vs. 24 of chapter 3 St. Paul starts to speak of being justified before God without the deeds of the law. In Chapter 4 St. Paul shows the disctinction between grace and debt. And it should be evident that the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace are two covenants that maintain ways of separate recompense.

    (Rom 4:4) Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

    (Rom 4:5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    (Rom 4:6) Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

    (Rom 4:7) Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

    (Rom 4:8) Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

    At the end of the passage it speaks on the matter of us being imputed with a righteousness that is by faith and not of works. The first Covenant is not one that has this stipulation of unmerited imputation of the righteousness of Christ. It was solely based upon a created man fulfilling and being rewarded according to a debt or wage promised him. As St. Paul noted, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” The scriptures make this distinction. Not I.

    Adam the first man, we ourselves, and Christ are not in the same boats. Adam didn’t need the grace of God as we do. He was holy, righteous and able to fulfill the Covenant. He didn’t need to trust in the Righteousness of God for Life. He had to obey and be righteous.

    I also believe that our resurrected state is going to be much better than Adam’s state of being. In his first state he was able to sin. I guess you could even say that he was created with a level of equipoise. I am not so sure that my language is as biblically accurate though. But in our resurrected state we are going to be so much more than that. Adam was barred from the tree after he sinned lest he eat the tree and remain in a fallen state if I remember correctly. I am not so sure we have to eat of the tree of Life. When we are resurrected we will be like Christ and without a capacity to sin. That has to be a better state.

    Yes, I do believe that God providentially set up the Covenant of Works to display his Righteousness and to condemn from the Foundation of the World just as he has chosen to elect a particular people and redeem them from the foundation of the World.

    Just remember
    (Rom 4:4) Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

    It is a matter of establishing ones righteousness. Is our Righteousness found in ourselves or is it in the Saviour. The letter of the law condemns. That is its purpose. Most of us are still trying to establish our own righteousness by it. Romans 10:3 because we don’t understand its intent which Paul shows us in the preceeding chapters.

    Don’t confuse goodness, holiness, and commandment with grace necessarily. The law is good, just, and holy. It is a terrible task master for creatures. As Romans 7 says that it came to kill. Paul said it slew him.

    (Rom 4:4) Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

  82. tim prussic said,

    November 3, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Mr. Snyder, thanks for your thoughtful response. I not only appreciate it, but find myself in a great deal of agreement… we can totally be friends!

    I’ll isolate a point, here, where I think we disagree. You seem to give with one hand and take away with the other. You’ll speak of all God’s dealings with creation as gracious (in a broad sense), but then you seem to remove all grace from the Covenant of Life, and that in the same paragraph that Reformed Sinner quoted above. We must have some room for graciousness in the making of the covenant in the first place. Adam didn’t merit or deserve God to enter into covenant with him, right? Also, I see grace in that covenant in other ways: that life is revealed and promised, and that the covenant forms the historical foundation for the Cov’t of Grace.

    Those gracious aspects don’t negate that the terms of obtaining blessing under the CoW was human works or obedience. Adam had to discharge his duties completely, and for that God would give him life. With that in mind, I think it must be said that even the Covenant of Works is rooted in and entirely surrounded by divine grace. Such is also the case with the Cov’t of Grace, but even more so, as that deals with the redemption of demerited, helpless, sinners being saved though faith the Last Adam – the one who kept the terms of the CoW.

    One issue I see constantly at play here is that TR fellows (like Dr. Clark) want to maintain a very narrow definition of grace (which, by the way, is fine with me), but then they turn around and accuse people who define grace more broadly as denying the law/gospel distinction. This seems fairly simple to sort out, provided we can agree on the definitions of some basic terms.

  83. tim prussic said,

    November 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Also, those links to Puritan Board are fine, but the threads are closed, so I cannot see the discussion. BTW, Dabney’s comments are close to what I have in mind with regard to the graciousness of the CoW.
    -Tim

  84. Reed Here said,

    November 4, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Tim:

    The problem is not a narrow or broad definition of grace, but a failure to distinguish between uses of the same word, to suggest a continuity between one grace and another that the Bible expressly denies.

    This, at least, leads to the problem of equivocation. I won’t say you are doing that, or have done that (as far as I remember in discussions here). I will say that such equivocation is common to the problem a number of us have with FV formulations: necessary distinctions that fail to be made, lends support to unfounded continuity, lends support to a cross-fertilization of nuances, and ends up with describing a sibling relationship when in reality it is nothing of the sort.

    The condescending grace which God shows in creation is related to the unmerited grace which God shows His children, merely because God is the author of both. A failure to distinguish further than that though leads to a formulation akin to saying that Man and Monkey came from the same ancestor.

    And old debate here yes. I think your TR smack at Dr. Clark is uncalled for, in that he is saying nothing more than what we’ve all agreed upon here. At least I think I understand you to be saying condescending grace and unmerited grace are world’s apart. If so, you and Dr. Clark agree.

  85. R. Martin Snyder said,

    November 4, 2009 at 10:54 am

    I agree with Reed. Thanks Reed for the good clarification. I was just going to use an example using the word love. There are differences in God’s love and how it is understood and applied.

  86. tim prussic said,

    November 4, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks, gentlemen. I appreciate your thoughtful interactions. I quite agree that necessary distinctions have been either left out or were difficult to find on the FV side. I also agree that it causes a blurring of the lines can tend toward further errors. All that is well said and I appreciate it.

    I think part of what Pr. Wilson’s after is trying to avoid some hard-and-fast, sealed-container categories that are persistently insisted upon by some TR folks. These (Dr. Clark included) seem to want to push the necessary distinctions into an absolute form. Basically, it appears to be something of an opposite error to the common FV error of leaving out or blurring those distinctions. Thus, Wilson speaks of the CoW as gracious and the law a gracious. Dr. Clark responds: “What utter nonsense! The law is not gracious!” And back and forth we go. This reminds me of the Kline/Murray debate over the CoW. It can devolve into a Tastes Great! / Less Filling! sort of row.

    As I mentioned above, a little definition and a little humility go along way. Again, thanks for your thoughts, gentlemen.

    -Tim

  87. Reed Here said,

    November 4, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Tim: I appreciate your take on Wilson. I agree with your take, in that he understands himself to be reacting (in part against) an over-absolutizing by others such as Clark. In fact, this claim is sincerely made by many if not all FV’ers.

    While I’ll not say this can’t, doesn’t, or hasn’t happened, I will observe that this claim was made foundational to the FV argument long before such critics as Clark (let’s include Waters) here began saying, “now a minute.”

    I actually think it fair to say to that Clark, et.al. are seeking to correct to over-de-absolutizing going on in the FV. It should be further noted the that de-absolutizing pre-dates the supposed over-absolutizing, and is often used as a critique that proves the a-priori held conviction. The FV is first arguing against what it perceives is over-absolutzing inherent in modern reformed theology. This is where the appeal to “medieval”, untainted-by-modernism sources comes to play.

    I find the whole thing rather an awful lot of reaction against something I’ve yet to see. I appreciate their intentions. It seems to me their solution is more constructed to fit their understanding of the problem than it actually matches the problem(s), whatever that may be.

  88. tim prussic said,

    November 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Reed, you might be right, but then again… :)

    I spent a week down at WSTCal about 11 years ago (when I was an undergrad). There was a preacher’s conference going on and I was all kinds of excited! Two things stand out to me that are telling and may shed a little light on our discussion.

    First, a good portion of the speakers spoke quite a bit about the Law/Gospel Hermeneutic (LGH). I specifically remember both Michael Horton and Dennis Johnson saying something very close to: “The first thing you do when you come to any text of the Bible is ask, ‘Is this Law or is this Gospel?’ It’s either one or the other. And to interpret it correctly, you’ll need to know which it is.” I remember being taken aback by that then. I walked away from that week thinking that there were two mutually exclusive categories that cover all the Scriptures and into which every Scripture must fall. The LGH was a huge thrust.

    A second huge thrust (there were three, LGH, theology of the cross/glory, and this one…) was a Redemptive Historical hermeneutic (RHH). There was a good deal of talk against exemplary preaching and in favor of RHH typology, many appeals to Lk 24, and multiple admonitions against moralism and for christological applications. I was hugely edified by all this. There were a couple panel discussions and Q&As. In one of these I remember Jay Adams, in response to so much RHH, saying something like, “I don’t know what the deal is with all this opposition to using biblical characters as examples. Doesn’t Paul teach that they ARE examples in 1 Cor 10?”

    Both of these are examples of helpful (necessary) distinctions and categories being pushed, I think, too far. This was back in the late 90s, too. So, to say that the FV antedates this is, I think, not accurate.

  89. rfwhite said,

    November 4, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    I have great appreciation for Dr. Adams, but the appeal to 1 Cor 10, if Tim’s memory is accurage, may overlook the highly probable implication that in 1 Cor 10 there is at least a necessary typological dimension to the moral example that the exodus generation was to be for the Church that now is. Perhaps the categories of type and example are not mutually exclusive. Plausibly, it is the typology of Israel that gives Paul’s appeal its moral force.

  90. Reed Here said,

    November 4, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Tim: do you see these three as fundamental to the over-absolutizing the FV is addressing? I may be just not remembering very well, but I don’t see that these apply. In fact, I think that for some of them, FV’ers will have some sympathy.

    Context is important. All I’m seeking to observe is that I’ve never been able to find the boogey-man that the FV is reacting against.

  91. GLW Johnson said,

    November 5, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Tim
    Have you read Fesko’s recent book ‘ Justification: Understanding The Classic Reformed Doctrine’ (P&R,2008). He deals with this at length.

  92. jared said,

    November 5, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Reed,

    You have to be willing to look under the bed, or in the closet, in order to see the boogey-man. And I think you’ve amply demonstrated that you are willing but, nevertheless, you are sitting on the bed denying that there is (or claiming not to see) one. This is part of the frustration experienced by FV advocates (and sympathizers): they keep pointing under the bed and we keep telling them there’s nothing there without actually looking for ourselves while maintaining a guise of willingness. Either that or we pretend to look and then go off on those supposed imaginings of the FV.

    One of the items under there is the Law/Gospel hermeneutic which, I think, should be contrasted with making a Law/Gospel distinction. The problem becomes clear when you replace “gospel” in the formula with “grace”. The problem is that both the Law and the Gospel are gracious, and the same kind of gracious at that. This means that the grace present in, and foundational to, the CoW is not merely a condescending grace that even unbelievers (after the fall, no less) can experience.

  93. GLW Johnson said,

    November 5, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Jared
    Have you read Fesko’s book?

  94. tim prussic said,

    November 5, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Mr. White, the point with 1 Cor 10 is that such was the inveighing against using the Bible for life examples, then Dr. Adams had to bring it up.

    Reed, similarly, such was the great stress on the LGH, that I walked out of there thinking that the LGH was the single, most fundamental hermeneutic and that every single pericope of Scripture was either Law or Gospel.

    These are issues well before the advent of the FV and do give rise to some of the FV underemphasis of certain distinctions. There’s one of your boogey-men. That should be clear enough. The boogey-man, however, does not justify an over-reaction. So, I’m not here to justify FV understatement any more then some TR overstatement.

    Thanks, Mr. Johnson, for mentioning Fesko’s book. I’ve not read it.

  95. rfwhite said,

    November 5, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Yes, Tim, I realize what you say.

  96. rfwhite said,

    November 5, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Jared: help us out. By stating parenthetically “claiming not to see,” do you intend to question Reed’s integrity? If not, how do you advise those to respond who honestly don’t see the boogey man under the bed?

  97. Ron Henzel said,

    November 5, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Jared,

    You wrote:

    The problem is that both the Law and the Gospel are gracious, and the same kind of gracious at that. This means that the grace present in, and foundational to, the CoW is not merely a condescending grace that even unbelievers (after the fall, no less) can experience.

    No. The problem is that when you say this, you not only eject the Law/Gospel Hermeneutic, but you collapse the entire Law/Gospel distinction into meaninglessness. And the problem is that to the extent that that FVers say this they are simply parroting the thesis Daniel P. Fuller set forth 29 years ago in Gospel and Law: Contrast or Continuum? which Meredith Kline rightly interpreted as a full frontal assault on all of Covenant Theology. “The law is not of faith” (Gal. 3:12), Paul wrote, and those who say it is “have fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

    Even if we concede that the Mosaic Law contains “the same kind of grace” as the Gospel (although not the fullness of that grace) as an administration of the CoG, it does not automatically follow that all previous administrations of Divine law (viz., the CoW) therefore must also have contained the same kind of grace as the Gospel.

  98. jared said,

    November 5, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    GLW Johnson,

    No, I have not.

    rfwhite,

    I do not intend to question Reed’s integrity at all. There is a difference between looking under the bed, not looking under the bed, and pretending to look under the bed. It has seemed to me over the years that much criticism leveled at FV theology (or Wilson’s “brand” of it anyway) has been founded on the latter two options with the majority falling on the last one. Reed has leveled his fair share though not nearly as many as some readers of this blog. Understanding the LGH and its correlates is an issue for both sides and it seems to me that anyone who doesn’t honestly see that isn’t honestly seeing (at least on this issue). And if they aren’t honestly seeing then they aren’t going to be helpful contributors to the discussion.

    Mr. Gerety is a perfect example of this from the (extreme?) anti-FV side. I believe he has honestly looked under the bed and he honestly doesn’t see anything. Now, what I really don’t want to do is put Sean and Reed in the same boat. I suppose, then, that the answer to your second question is more complicated. It appears to be the case that Reed has honestly looked under the bed and honestly doesn’t see any boogey-men. Rather, he sees only what’s supposed to be there, nothing out of the ordinary. To someone like him the FV looks a bit loony for whooping and hollering about something that isn’t really there whereas to someone like Sean the FV aren’t even in the same room. I’m glad that Reed is content in his position but I want to warn against complacency. The warning comes in the form of that age old adage: just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

    Of course this goes both ways, for just because I think I see it doesn’t mean it’s there; and I want to be careful of that as well.

    Ron Henzel,

    It does not hurt me to eject a rigid Law/Gospel Hermeneutic. And neither have I collapsed the Law/Gospel distinction (which is different from a LGH) into meaninglessness; asserting such is not persuasive in the least. Ignoring the broader context of Galatians doesn’t hep you either. I’ll let Calvin make my case, speaking on Gal. 3:12 he writes,

    “The law evidently is not contrary to faith; otherwise God would be unlike himself; but we must return to a principle already noticed, that Paul’s language is modified by the present aspect of the case. The contradiction between the law and faith lies in the matter of justification. You will more easily unite fire and water, than reconcile these two statements, that men are justified by faith, and that they are justified by the law. “The law is not of faith;” that is, it has a method of justifying a man which is wholly at variance with faith.”

    Paul will affirm this in his epistle to the Romans as well (see Rom. 10:4). The more I think about it the more it seems to me that the nomenclature surrounding the traditional CoW/CoG formulation(s) are a negative byproduct of the LGH. It’s almost enough to drive one to mono-covenantalism though I am still very much uncomfortable with that paradigm.

  99. GLW Johnson said,

    November 6, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Gee, fellows, Fesko’s book has been out for well over a year. Given your participation here at Green Baggins on this subject (and related topics that pertain to the Federal Vision), I kinda assumed you both would be up to speed on something like Fesko’s important contribution.

  100. Ron Henzel said,

    November 6, 2009 at 4:44 am

    Jared,

    It does not appear that you have read Fuller’s Gospel and Law, (published in 1980), for if you had you should have picked up on my reference to Galatians 3:12. In Gospel and Law Fuller argues quite extensively that that verse cannot be used to prove that works are not involved in justification. Fuller distorted the entire third chapter of Galatians (but especially verse 18 in his appendix) in a desperate effort to prove that God not only justifies on the basis of faith, but also “works of faith.”

    Thus you have also missed the key point in the Law/Gospel distinction: are works included in any way in the basis of justification before God? Otherwise, you should not have cited Calvin against the point I was making, but rather for it, because he flat-out says in the quote you provide that there is a “contradiction between the law and faith…in the matter of justification.” To continue reading Calvin’s commentary on this passage is to see that Calvin had absolutely no tolerance for Fuller’s position. And if any question remains, we can always turn to his Institutes (which, by the way, Calvin said was the final court of appeal for readers who found his commentaries unclear) to find the passage that Fuller specifically attacks. Immediately after quoting Galatians 3:12, Calvin wrote:

    How would this argument be maintained otherwise than by agreeing that works do not enter the account of faith but must be utterly separated? The law, he [Paul] says, is different from faith. Why? Because works are required for law righteousness. Therefore it follows that they [works] are not required for faith righteousness.

    [Institutes 3.11.18; cf Fuller 66. Emphasis mine]

    Fuller explicitly declared Calvin wrong for teaching that “biblical revelation contains an antithesis between law and works on the one hand, and the gospel, grace and faith on the other” (Fuller, 65). And, of course, the FV lines up right behind Fuller when it includes works in the basis for final justification. They have essentially plagiarized all his arguments about the CoW as well.

  101. Ron Henzel said,

    November 6, 2009 at 4:46 am

    I apologize for goofing up the emphasis in the body of the blockquote citation from the Institutes.I only intended for the words “different” and “not” to be in italics.

  102. jared said,

    November 6, 2009 at 10:48 am

    GLW Johnson,

    You’d think that since I work at a Christian book I’d be able to get my hands on a copy fairly easily. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to just order anything I want. Equally unfortunate is my financial situation even given my employment.

    Ron Henzel,

    No, I haven’t read Fuller’s Gospel and Law and I completely agree with Calvin (and you, apparently) that works have absolutely no place in justification by faith. Like Calvin says, they justify men in two completely opposite ways. It is not the Law/Gospel distinction that I have a problem with, it isn’t one of the boogey-men the FV is pointing out either. You say,

    Fuller explicitly declared Calvin wrong for teaching that “biblical revelation contains an antithesis between law and works on the one hand, and the gospel, grace and faith on the other” (Fuller, 65). And, of course, the FV lines up right behind Fuller when it includes works in the basis for final justification. They have essentially plagiarized all his arguments about the CoW as well.

    I would say that the biblical revelation contains an antithesis between faith and works only in as much as justification is concerned; otherwise they kind of go hand-in-hand. Of course this says nothing about the graciousness of either and I would maintain that both are, in fact, the same kind of gracious.

  103. todd said,

    November 6, 2009 at 11:35 am

    “It appears to be the case that Reed has honestly looked under the bed and honestly doesn’t see any boogey-men.”

    It may be more accurate to say that like Reed, we see many boogey-men under the bed, but we believe the cure for the boogey-men is classic covenant theology, not FV.

  104. Reed Here said,

    November 7, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Jared:

    Just ridiculous. Your first comment to me, and then your explanation to Dr. White assume that even if I look under the bed – I only see what I want to see.

    If that is not assuming something about my integrity – then I am duck.

    How about you settle for my repeeated expressions of paying sincere, close attention to the FV concerns? How about you accept my statement in the past that I’ve listened and read with sympathy from near the beginning of when the FV went public, right after the first AA conference?

    The FV has made wholesale challenges and claims that border on accusing what is traditional reformed soteriology (and then into ecclesiology) as heresy. They’ve at least leveled the heterodox charge. They’ve gone on to charge that the early reformers agree with the, and then push their heterdox charges back to at least Turretin (2nd generation after Calvin).

    The FV sees something very serious and sinister under the bed. I’ve looked with them. I’ve found some dust bunnie – to be sure dirt that needs sweeping out – but nothing requiring the FV firehose response.

    C’mon Jared, you’ve expressed yourself more reasonably than this here before. Feel free explain why my eyesight is bad. Don’t assume I’m not wanting to see.

  105. Reed Here said,

    November 7, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Tim:

    I may be missing something, but could you review briefly again how the FV understands an absolutized L/G hermeneutic to be foundational to their assessment of the existence and size of the boogey-men?

    I remember such criticism. I admit that at the time I listened to it, I didn’t see any foundation for it.

    For the record, my hermeneutic can’t be described as exclusive L/G.

  106. jared said,

    November 7, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Reed,

    Maybe you are a duck, I dunno ’cause I never met you outside of the interwebs.

    As for the FV claiming traditional Reformed soteriology and ecclesiology as heresy? That’s a new one to me. I’ve not seen any advocates or sympathizers here do it, nor has Wilson done it. Jordan (and maybe Horne, though I’ve not read much of him) is the closest I’ve seen to anything that might be considered as accusatory in that vein. Now I’ve seen the anti-FV crowd throw the term around like it’s going out of style. All of Lane’s posts on the topic(s) have heresy in the description tag even though he wants to qualify it only as a certain kind of heresy (you know, the non-condemning/judging kind). But you’ve read more than me so maybe I just haven’t gotten to the “good” stuff yet where all these claims of heresy on the FV side are laying about. You say,

    The condescending grace which God shows in creation is related to the unmerited grace which God shows His children, merely because God is the author of both. A failure to distinguish further than that though leads to a formulation akin to saying that Man and Monkey came from the same ancestor.

    This is you seeming to look right past the problem. As one commenter above demonstrated (unknowingly), the problem is a dichotomy between law and gospel rather than simply a distinction between the them. This becomes especially apparent the more one removes any semblance of special grace from the concept of law and/or works.

  107. Ron Henzel said,

    November 8, 2009 at 5:34 am

    Jared,

    You wrote:

    [...] As one commenter above demonstrated (unknowingly), the problem is a dichotomy between law and gospel rather than simply a distinction between the them. [...]

    A distinction without a dichotomy is a distinction without a difference in this case. When you try to have one without the other you’re merely playing with words.

    Furthermore, to affirm that the law-gospel distinction exists in Scripture but deny that it results in a hermeneutic amounts to a rather brazen denial of WCF 1.9.

    Gary is right. You really need to read Fesko on justification. It will go a long way toward filling in the obvious gaps you have in both your knowledge and reasoning on this subject.

    Both Lutheran and Reformed theologians employed the law-gospel hermeneutic, namely recognizing those portions of Scripture that brought moral demands upon the believer in contrast with those that offered promised redemption. Hence, Lutherans believed that “everything that condemns sin is and belongs to the proclamation of the law.” By contrast, the gospel is “the kind of teaching that reveals what the human being, who has not kept the law and has been condemned by it, should believe: that Christ atoned and paid for all sins and apart from any human merit has obtained and won for people the forgiveness of sins.”

    [Fesko, 23-24, citing the Formula of Concord 5:3-5.]

    Fesko then goes on to show how this same hermeneutic prevailed in the writings of Ursinus, Beza, and Perkins. I believe he also shows that to try to amputate the law-gospel hermeneutic from the law-gospel distinction in Reformed theology is both futile and foolish.

  108. Reed Here said,

    November 8, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Jared: you’ve seem to have gotten more hard boiled.

    You’ll note I said almost heresy – do not put words in my mouth. Instead, read me fairly. I was using hyperbole to express the intensity with which the FV sees its boogey-men. My parenthetical clarification that they at least make charges of heterodoxical error is consistent with the FV. This is clear to anyone who is willing to read fairly, or is paying attention.

    Yes, I’m in your face Jared. You’ve maintained your offense, and now upped it. You’re wrong.

    As to your quote supposedly proving my failure to see the boogey-man – you expect me to accept a example from a rather general statement of mine, that you have used without any further context, to conclude I am guilty of what you you say? This is an example of the very thing the FV charges us with – reading into their words instead of asking for clarification.

    You presume and assume. I’m never going duck hunting with you – Dick Cheney is safer.

    You’re just shooting from the hip Jared. I’m not sure why you want to do so. The conversation here was rather mild, covering a rather secondary innocuous area of disagreement, and not covering any new ground.

    As it is, I’m not engaging with you anymore on this. This is a silly conversation at this point.

    I encourage you to respoond to those challenginng you with substance. For instance, take up Ron’s Henzel’s charge.

  109. jared said,

    November 8, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Reed,

    As you wish.

    Ron Henzel,

    You say,

    A distinction without a dichotomy is a distinction without a difference in this case. When you try to have one without the other you’re merely playing with words.

    Assertion, nothing more. A dichotomy is a strict division whereas a distinction is simply a difference of some form or another. In this case the law and gospel are different in as much as they justify a man (and, in the matter of justification there is a dichotomy between law and gospel) but they cannot be strictly separated. So, let’s be clear. There is, in fact, at least one dichotomy within the law/gospel distinction (e.g. where justification is concerned) but there is not a dichotomy between law and gospel; they are not wholly, always and forever opposed to one another. You continue,

    Furthermore, to affirm that the law-gospel distinction exists in Scripture but deny that it results in a hermeneutic amounts to a rather brazen denial of WCF 1.9.

    That a distinction can inform one’s hermeneutic is something altogether different from forming a hermeneutic based on that distinction. Making more assertions doesn’t help you (or me), how am I denying WCF 1.9?

    As for the Fesko quote, the gospel does bring moral demands, it’s just that it isn’t your morality which obtains justification. That is, it isn’t your obedience which obtains justification. You are required to obey though (to have works); it’s that whole living faith thing, you know, that old “faith without works” horse.

    I want to be extremely clear here (as if I haven’t been in the past) works (and law) are also on the other side of justification. You get justified before any works come into play and all works thereafter are an indication, a validation if you will, that true faith and authentic justification have occurred. What this means is that the law is on both sides of the gospel; on one side it condemns and on the other side it rewards. On one side it’s supposed to drive you to the cross in need and on the other side it’s supposed to drive you to the cross in want.

  110. Ron Henzel said,

    November 9, 2009 at 4:20 am

    Jared,

    You wrote:

    Assertion, nothing more. A dichotomy is a strict division whereas a distinction is simply a difference of some form or another. In this case the law and gospel are different in as much as they justify a man (and, in the matter of justification there is a dichotomy between law and gospel) but they cannot be strictly separated. So, let’s be clear. There is, in fact, at least one dichotomy within the law/gospel distinction (e.g. where justification is concerned) but there is not a dichotomy between law and gospel; they are not wholly, always and forever opposed to one another.

    A red herring, and nothing more. To my knowledge, no orthodox Reformed person who insists on a law-gospel dichotomy has ever said that the law and the gospel can be “strictly separated.” In fact, to separate the law and the gospel makes the gospel itself unintelligible. To say that two things are dichotomous does not imply that they cannot coexist. You are confusing the issue with wordplay again.

    Furthermore, you and others also confuse the law-gospel dichotomy in soteriology (in which law and gospel are two perpetually opposing principles in justification) with the Mosaic Law-Gospel of Christ progression in salvation history (in which the former actually contains the seeds of the latter, and there is not inherent opposition). The Moses-Christ progression is not inherently dichotomous, as it is with law and gospel. You and others confuse things by imputing the one’s lack of inherent dichotomy to the other, again through wordplay.

    The fact remains that when you gut Reformed theology of the law-gospel dichotomy, you remove the basis for the law-gospel hermeneutic, and utterly destroy the biblical law-gospel distinction. If carried through to its logical conclusion, this will ultimately leave you with something other than Reformed soteriology. Perhaps it already has.

    You wrote:

    That a distinction can inform one’s hermeneutic is something altogether different from forming a hermeneutic based on that distinction. Making more assertions doesn’t help you (or me), how am I denying WCF 1.9?

    You agree that Scripture speaks very clearly about the law-gospel distinction. You do well. It says that you cannot be saved by keeping the law (works), but only by trusting in God’s grace (faith), in which Christ has kept the law on your behalf and paid the the penalty for your sin.

    Now this is a dichotomy: you cannot be saved the first way—in fact, you can only be condemned—but you can be saved the second way. A clearer dichotomy could not possibly exist, which completely upends your assertion “that both the Law and the Gospel are gracious, and the same kind of gracious at that.”

    Therefore, when we come across passages that might seem to imply that we can be saved by works, we can eventually know that passage’s “true and full sense…by other places that speak more clearly” (WCF 1.9) regarding the law-gospel dichotomy. If we assume that Scripture does not contradict itself, we are to interpret such passages in light of the law-gospel dichotomy, which, of course, rightly elevates that dichotomy to a hermeneutical principle.

    This is how the law-gospel hermeneutic works. Thus to go so far as to affirm the law-gospel distinction but fail to carry it through in actual interpretation in this manner is at the very least a culpable neglect of WCF 1.9 if not an outright rejection of it.

    You wrote:

    As for the Fesko quote, the gospel does bring moral demands, it’s just that it isn’t your morality which obtains justification. That is, it isn’t your obedience which obtains justification. You are required to obey though (to have works); it’s that whole living faith thing, you know, that old “faith without works” horse.

    In this paragraph here you have chosen a very un-Reformed way of speaking. Reformed theology does not speak of works produced by Christians as the “moral demands” brought by the Gospel, but rather as part of the Holy Spirit’s application of Christ’s benefits in sanctification. That is a huge flashing red light.

    Then you write:

    I want to be extremely clear here (as if I haven’t been in the past) works (and law) are also on the other side of justification. You get justified before any works come into play and all works thereafter are an indication, a validation if you will, that true faith and authentic justification have occurred.

    You protest that you have been clear all along. Could that, in fact, be the actual reason for people disagreeing with you?

    In any case, the only thing I would alter in your second sentence here is to note that any good works that follow justifying faith ultimately validate regeneration by the Spirit, rather than faith and justification by themselves, and are only counted as really and truly good due to our union with Christ, since they are still tainted by sin. Thus I believe your engine begins to run off the tracks when you write:

    What this means is that the law is on both sides of the gospel; on one side it condemns and on the other side it rewards. On one side it’s supposed to drive you to the cross in need and on the other side it’s supposed to drive you to the cross in want.

    The law does not “reward” us. According to the first half of Romans 7, we have died to the law and are united to Christ. As believers the law can neither justify nor condemn us (WCF 19.6), even though it informs us of our duties before God.

    With what can the law possibly “reward” us? It can only “reward” us with two things: a righteous standing before God (i.e., justification) and the blessings attendant thereto. But both of those things come to us solely through Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:3ff).

    What possible reason could anyone have for asserting that the law “rewards” believers? The only one that comes to mind in the context of a discussion about the FV is their insistence that works serve as a basis for our “final” or “future justification.” I hope that’s not where you were going with this idea.

  111. tim prussic said,

    November 9, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Reed (#106), you asked:

    I may be missing something, but could you review briefly again how the FV understands an absolutized L/G hermeneutic to be foundational to their assessment of the existence and size of the boogey-men?

    First off, boogey man is not FV, but TR terminology. :)
    Secondly, an OVER emphasis of the LGH very easily leads to a reaction that understates the LGH or distorts the relationship between L & G by minimizing distinctions. I don’t think the reaction is entirely justified, but it’s easy enough to understand.
    Thirdly, if I recall correctly, the LGH and Westminster West were both mentioned specifically in the original FV conference (2002, I think).
    Finally, you said: “my hermeneutic can’t be described as exclusive L/G.” – BRAVO!!

    -Timbo

  112. jared said,

    November 10, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Ron Henzel,

    You say,

    To my knowledge, no orthodox Reformed person who insists on a law-gospel dichotomy has ever said that the law and the gospel can be “strictly separated.” In fact, to separate the law and the gospel makes the gospel itself unintelligible. To say that two things are dichotomous does not imply that they cannot coexist. You are confusing the issue with wordplay again.

    Then using “dichotomy” in this instance is misleading. A dichotomy is nothing if not a strict division between two categories (good and evil, hot and cold, true and false, etc.). You need to explain what you mean by “coexist” and how that is relevant to this dichotomy. As I understand coexistence, it isn’t relevant to this discussion at all; no one is arguing that the law and gospel can’t exist at the same time. I fully agree that separating the law and gospel (i.e. creating a dichotomy between them) makes the gospel unintelligible. I thought that was the point I was making. You continue,

    The fact remains that when you gut Reformed theology of the law-gospel dichotomy, you remove the basis for the law-gospel hermeneutic, and utterly destroy the biblical law-gospel distinction.

    Yes, I can see that removing the law-gospel dichotomy removes the basis for the law-gospel hermeneutic. It does not, however, destroy the biblical distinction between the two. This is something that has yet to be demonstrated. It also doesn’t prevent this distinction from being used to inform how one approaches any given passage of Scripture. I would say that it should be used as a hermeneutical principle but not as a hermeneutic unto itself. You continue,

    Now this is a dichotomy: you cannot be saved the first way—in fact, you can only be condemned—but you can be saved the second way. A clearer dichotomy could not possibly exist, which completely upends your assertion “that both the Law and the Gospel are gracious, and the same kind of gracious at that.”

    I have already agreed that there is a dichotomy within the law-gospel distinction, and I noted (more than once) that justification is the prime example. Works (the law) justifies a man in a completely different way than faith (the gospel) does. This is what Calvin says and it’s what I’ve said. So, no, this doesn’t upend my assertion that both the law and the gospel are gracious, and the same kind of gracious. Also, you still haven’t shown that there’s a dichotomy between the law and the gospel. Oddly enough we both agree that such a separation of them would make the gospel unintelligible, so one of us is wrong about this dichotomy thing. You continue,

    Reformed theology does not speak of works produced by Christians as the “moral demands” brought by the Gospel, but rather as part of the Holy Spirit’s application of Christ’s benefits in sanctification. That is a huge flashing red light.

    Okay. The moral demands I was referring to are primarily faith, repentance and love (which is kind of a big all-encompassing category). Salvation, as a general rule, requires all three of these elements (see Westminster Shorter Catechism question 85 and Large Catechism question 153). Maybe it should be noted that “moral” and “meritorious” are not the same thing? This is especially true where justification and our works are concerned. You say,

    In any case, the only thing I would alter in your second sentence here is to note that any good works that follow justifying faith ultimately validate regeneration by the Spirit, rather than faith and justification by themselves, and are only counted as really and truly good due to our union with Christ, since they are still tainted by sin.

    I can agree with this; validating regeneration might as well be akin to validating faith and justification since regeneration is a prerequisite for both. You continue,

    The law does not “reward” us. According to the first half of Romans 7, we have died to the law and are united to Christ. As believers the law can neither justify nor condemn us (WCF 19.6), even though it informs us of our duties before God.

    But it does. By the work of Jesus we are rewarded primarily with eternal life (and all the benefits thereof) and secondarily according to what we do in this life. In the case of eternal life, His work is our work and we are afforded His reward as if it is our own. In the case of what we have done we are judged and rewarded accordingly. It would seem, by your last few paragraphs here, that this supposed dichotomy between law and gospel has negatively affected your understanding of the function of law after one has been set free from it. We do not deserve anything, sinners that we are. Both our primary and secondary rewards are not merited by us in any way, it is only by being united to Jesus that any (and all) good blessings come to us.

  113. December 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    It’s odd that the Federal Visionists are called “brothers”. How can heretics be legitimately “brothers” in Christ when the FV preaches another gospel?

    Although I do follow Gordon Clark’s Scripturalist apologetics, it should be pointed out that Sean Gerety, John Robbins, and Gordon H. Clark all endorsed another heresy called Nestorianism. Clark’s last book, The Incarnation, clearly promotes the Nestorian heresy.


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