My Analysis of the “Instructional” Committee’s Report

Wes White and Brian Carpenter have both weighed in on their take of the committee’s report. I agree with their findings. What I wish to do here is to give my own thoughts on the matter, prefaced by a strong emphasis on the primary failing of the committee’s report. As Wes and Brian have both noted, the definition of salvation as “eternal salvation unto glory” does indeed allow the committee to miss the entire point of both investigative committees. Indeed, I believe it also involves a misrepresentation of the accusations, which is ironic, given how often Wes, Brian, and myself have been accused of misrepresentation in these matters. Let me stress once more how important this particular definition is. If salvation is only defined as “eternal salvation unto glory,” then anything less than that would not appear to fall under the stricture of the Westminster Standards, and this is precisely the point at issue. The issue is NOT what happens to those who are decretally elect. The issue IS what do the baptized non-elect receive? Moon and Lawrence have both said that these people receive benefits that use the same language as decretal benefits (justification, union with Christ, adoption), but are not the same as those decretal benefits.

This definition of salvation makes problematic their affirmations 4-5 under baptism that speak of baptism bringing various temporary benefits that are not sufficient for “salvation” (insert narrow definition here), and also their denial that baptism is ever accompanied by “saving” (again, read narrow definition here) operations of the Spirit. Nothing they have said there renders out of bounds an assertion that baptism brings temporarily saving (insert much broader definition of salvation here) benefits, that can still fall under the category of “common operations” of the Spirit. Here there is an ambiguity in the report. Would these temporary benefits like adoption, forgiveness of sins, and union with Christ (defined not in a decretal sense), which Lawrence has explicitly tied to the moment of baptism be labelled by them as common or saving operations of the Spirit? By their own definition of “saving” earlier in the document, these benefits would have to be labelled “common.” However, the word “common” here means common between believers and unbelievers, as in “common grace.” Baptism, therefore, cannot be the delineating mark of whether these benefits happen to baptized reprobate or not.

Under the “quotation a,” I noticed an unfortunate word choice in their discussion of faith related to justification. They call faith the “sole absolute requirement for our justification, and the requirement without which the full and saving benefits of baptism cannot be enjoyed.” One issue here is the with the word “absolute.” Why is that word needed? Would we lose anything by cutting it out, and reading “the sole requirement for our justification?” The word “absolute” might seem to suggest that other subordinate things are (normally) required, things like baptism. I am also uncomfortable with the phrase “full and saving benefits of baptism.” What does that mean? They told us that they were using the term “saving” in the sense of “eternal salvation unto glory.” In that case, baptism (if we are talking about the water rite) does not carry saving benefits. It is not instrumental in our justification, our obtaining of eternal life.

Under quotation b, again we have the problem mentioned above concerning the definition of “salvation.” For here, they all agree that the benefits of Romans 6 “belong finally only to the elect.” Why that qualifying word “finally?” These benefits of being buried with Christ, dead to sin (Romans 6:2) and rising with Christ to new life (Romans 6:4, 8), being freed from sin (Romans 6:7); can they belong temporarily to the non-elect? The report does not address this issue whatsoever. It only says that the saving (read narrow definition here) way of holding these benefits belongs only to the elect. But of course. No disagreement there whatsoever. Nor was there ever any disagreement on this point. It is somehow supposed to calm our fears when we are told that TE Lawrence believes that faith is necessary for salvation, and that baptism is not sufficient for salvation. These points do not address the issue at all. Everyone thinks that faith is necessary, and everyone believes that baptism is not sufficient for salvation. Would even the staunchest Roman Catholic deny these two points? These are a few of my thoughts. If I have time for more, I will write more.

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48 Comments

  1. Wes White said,

    August 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Excellent comments and very well said. I wish that you had been allowed to be on the committee.

  2. David said,

    August 17, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I am far removed from these controversies and only familiar with them by way of the internet. Lane, I appreciate you characterizing this as a “misrepresentation”, which does not necessarily denote malicious intent on the part of the authors. Ken, I’m not sure referring to teaching elders in good standing (though under investigation) as liars and deceivers is warranted, charitable, or helpful.

  3. Ken Smith said,

    August 17, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    David,

    I understand your rebuke, but I distinguish between respecting the office and the person. I respect the office of TE, but these men do not deserve respect as men. Read Brian Carpenter’s account of this (linked at the top). Lane only commented on the Instructional Report but Brian pieced it together with the rest of the actions of Greg Lawrence and Joshua Moon. There behavior is shameful and I am simply publically calling them out on it.

  4. Frank Davies said,

    August 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    If you really and truly believe your third paragraph, then you are out of accord with the WCF, and you need to notify your presbytery of your exception.

  5. Dean B said,

    August 17, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Frank

    Could you please elaborate on your post. What in the 3rd paragraph raises concern for you?

  6. Frank Davies said,

    August 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    “In that case, baptism (if we are talking about the water rite) does not carry saving benefits. It is not instrumental in our justification, our obtaining of eternal life.”

    Q. 88. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?

    A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ ******communicateth to us the benefits of redemption***** are, his ordinances, especially the Word, ***sacraments***, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

    Q. 93. Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?

    A. The sacraments of the New Testament are, ***baptism***, and the Lord’s Supper.

  7. Frank Davies said,

    August 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    The Sacraments are the ordinary means by which God communicates the benefits of salvation to us.

    He communicates saving grace through **means.**

    This is pretty basic Presbyterian stuff.

  8. Phil Derksen said,

    August 17, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    FD, Lane can of course answer for himself, but he made quite clear in what sense he was saying that baptism does not “carry saving benefits.” – it is not “instrumental” in our justification (WCF 11.2). Rather it spiritually strengthens saving faith in those who already believe through the hearing of the word (WCF 14.1; WSC 92). Baptism and the Lord’s Supper both operate in the same capacity in that they “communicate” spiritual grace to those “that by faith receive them” (WSC 91).

  9. Chris Griffith said,

    August 17, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Frank, I agree. Green beans are a “means” of nutrition but it would be entirely proper to say they are nutricious as well. Words bounce around the room, make their way to the ear drum via the ear canal, vibrate bones and somehow get to the brain. In a similar way, God the Holy Spirit is not afraid to use such physical activity as baptism to bring one into the body of Christ. Down with Gnosticsim!

  10. David Gray said,

    August 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    >This is pretty basic Presbyterian stuff.

    True but all that glowers is not Presbyterian.

    “The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.”

  11. David Gray said,

    August 17, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    “Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.”

    Consider the implications of that says.

  12. Phil Derksen said,

    August 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Sorry DG, my intentionally antagonistic internet shadow, but I’m not biting. The regulars on this site have been over and over this ground ad nauseum.

  13. David Gray said,

    August 17, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    >Sorry DG, my intentionally antagonistic internet shadow, but I’m not biting.

    My invitation to consider the implications of the quoted material above was neither primarily intended for you or singularly focused on you. So no problem…

  14. Frank Davies said,

    August 18, 2010 at 12:44 am

    David, it sounds to me like grace and salvation are indeed annexed unto baptism, but not in such a way that exceptions can’t happen.

    I’m sure God can and has saved people without the means of the Sacraments he instituted But, this is a rare thing, like a four leaf clover.

  15. David Gray said,

    August 18, 2010 at 6:25 am

    >David, it sounds to me like grace and salvation are indeed annexed unto baptism, but not in such a way that exceptions can’t happen

    I think a fair reading of the text leaves it hard to reach any other conclusion.

  16. greenbaggins said,

    August 18, 2010 at 9:55 am

    David, you are driving me crazy with your quotation of WCF 28.6 without any exegesis of it whatsoever, and quoting it as if I hadn’t spend a practical eternity exegeting every single clause of it, proving that the qualifying phrases sufficiently guard against any instrumental understanding of the water rite. Frank, if you look back at my posts of the FV, I have sufficiently answered your queries concerning baptism. I have explained and re-explained my position on baptism, and I have zero concerns regarding that paragraph.

  17. Phil Derksen said,

    August 18, 2010 at 10:32 am

    If I may be permitted to make it a little bit easier for those who may be sincere in inquiring, here are two posts in which Rev. Keister directly addresses the issues that FD and DG have raised here:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/on-baptism/

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/efficacy-once-again/

  18. Frank Davies said,

    August 18, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I think I can agree with much of what Lane says in those posts, but there is one thing that I feel is neglected or at least unacknowledged. The implication of the term “means.”

    It’s is possible to say God works salvation “in” and “through” something with out making that something:

    A. Magic
    B. Reduce God’s glory.
    C. the only way Salvation can be wrought in a person

    Let me try and capture my and DG frustration in a quick story. This is on the fly and not a direct analogy, but nevertheless less captures my frustration.

    Bill: You see Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish and fed 5000 people. it was distributed to the people and they were all fed. That is awesome! God is great.

    Ted: Why did he do that?

    Bill: Do what?

    Ted: Why did he have to feed the people with physical bread and fish?

    Bill: Uh, I don’t understand your question, Ted.

    Ted: Look, Jesus did not need those fish and that bread to feed people. He is God. He could have just zapped the hunger right out of there bellies.

    Bill: Um, yeah, I guess he could have. But..that’s…

    Ted: You think that bread was magic, don’t you?

    Bill: I uhh. Listen..Jesus…..

    Ted: No, No, the cat is out of the bag. Your believe in magic!

    Bill: Now hold on a sec….

    Ted: No, No, that story was made up. That never happened. My Savior is way more powerful than that. He would never ever need a crutch to work with to do his miracles. He can just remove the hunger directly. He can just make the bread or fish out of thin air, If he even needed real food to cure hunger; and he doesn’t by the way!

    Bill: Look, the bread and fish we just a means to accomplish something. He did not need them to make copies and he didn’t need them to make the people full. However, he did chose to play it out that way, for whatever reason.

    Ted: That’s all silly talk. I bet Indiana Jones will be looking for that special bread and fish in his next movie. I can see it the title now ….Indiana Jones and the last Helping of Magic Fish.

    Bill: ….

  19. David Gadbois said,

    August 18, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Lane’s recent post and comment thread on baptismal efficacy as an instrument of justification is less than a month old. This issue was covered thoroughly. So simply walking into the conversation at this point quoting WCF 28 isn’t going to sway us. Nor will Lane be rushing to notify his presbytery of his so-called exception.

  20. grit said,

    August 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    It did get us an entertaining story though.

  21. grit said,

    August 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Or, I guess it was more of a skit.

  22. Reed Here said,

    August 18, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Frank: you seem to be accusing Lane of beating a drum he is not beating. Your fish analogy frankly just does not apply to anything Lane has said here, or on any other baptism related post.

    I’m not saying your frustration does not apply to some (maybe some of our non-reformed Baptist brethren), but it doesn;t seem relevant here.

    Baptism, the actual rite in which a duly ordained man administers water in the three fold name, yep this is a means God uses to administer the grace in view.

  23. Frank Davies said,

    August 19, 2010 at 10:03 am

    “yep this is a means God uses to administer the grace in view.”

    Reed,

    No, it’s just a picture that points to the promise. The Holy Spirit applies the grace, he does not need or use the water to “administer” anything.

  24. Reed Here said,

    August 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Frank: sheesh dude, quit reading into what someone says. Why not first ask before assuming you’re reading them correctly?

    You need to be more careful, and possibly a bit more gracious in your reading.

    Your response is nonsense, as what I said does not contradict your response.

  25. grit said,

    August 19, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks, Lane; water, spirit, blood and all.

  26. Frank Davies said,

    August 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Reed, I was just pulling your chain. ;-)

    Now, the frustration you felt after reading my response is exactly how many “FV” people feel. Lot of that “reading into” going around these days.

  27. Reed Here said,

    August 19, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Not a fair analogy Frank. To be accurate I would had to have done what you did to me:

    > Not read what you’ve already said, or if I did
    > Not ask any questions to clarify what you said, or if I did
    > Ignore what you’ve said.

    I’m all for cute “gotcha’s” that are friendly in intent. I do not appreciate your attempt here. Your characterization of me (and/or Lane as the main writer on this blog) is completely inaccurate and grossly unjust representation of my (Lane’s) documented interaction with FV men.

    Beating up straw men is not only bad argumentation, it ignores the command to love as you would be loved. Thanks for being concerned with my reputation.

    Please don’t bother telling me to lighten up. I do not know you from Adam. I would at least get to know you before I “pulled your chain.” Your attempt at humor is unkind and uncalled for.

  28. Roger du Barry said,

    August 22, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Here is some further information on the meaning of the word instrument/instrumentum as it is used in the Reformation Confessions. This from the Protestant Dictionary, New and Revised Edition, 1933, a publication of the Protestant Reformation Society:

    The Latin of the Article (XXVII) should be noted: “est signum Regenerationis, per quod, tanquam per instrumentum, recti suscipientis Ecclesiae inseruntur …, i.e. “it is the seal of regeneration, by which seal, as if by a legal deed of conveyance, those who receive baptism in the right spirit are grafted into the Church.

    Disregarding the baptismal doctrine of the article, and focusing upon the word itself, instrumentum, as it was used back then, refers to a legal deed of conveyance. The word is applied here to baptism, although in the WCF it is applied to faith. In both cases it carries the same meaning, i.e., of a legal instrument like a deed of conveyance that confers on the recipient unconditional rights.

    It is my opinion that it would avoid misunderstanding to stick to its proper meaning, and avoid using it as a synonym for a general means.

  29. David Gadbois said,

    August 22, 2010 at 2:58 am

    The word “instrument” *can* refer to a legal deed of conveyance, but you can’t simply say “it is used this way over here, so it must mean the same when WCF uses it in regard to justification.” This is weak on a basic exegetical level, to the point that it is obvious that you are visibly grasping at straws.

    Also, even from the section you quote it is not clear that the Protestant Dictionary is intending to provide a literal, precise, or technical translation of the Latin clause that is quoted when it says “i.e. …” rather than an expanded, interpreted, or paraphrastic meaning given the particular context of baptism.

    IOW, yes, a legal deed of conveyance is one type of instrument, but the concepts are not interchangeable.

  30. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 22, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Roger, why do you conclude that instrument as used in the discussions of faith and justification does mean “a legal document” and does not a “means”?

    I grant that instrument can mean “a legal document.” But it can also mean “a meter” (as in the phrase “scientific instruments”) — which it clearly doesn’t here.

    So give me something to believe that your reading of instrument is correct, and not merely one possible dictionary definition that you prefer. I ask because in all my years, you are the first person to ever suggest this meaning to me.

  31. Roger du Barry said,

    August 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    David and Jeff

    Instrument and means in the WCF are two distinct things. The WCF says that faith is the alone instrument of justification, and it also says that sacraments are means of grace that convey the things that they signify.

    Is it deeply confused? No.

    The word alone in alone instrument indicates that there can be no possible overlap between these two things. If faith is the sole instrument of justification, and at the same time baptism truly conveys/confers/communicates it, then we are talking about two different things.

    Instrument cannot be a synonym for a means in this context. Instrument can mean a general tool in a different context, but that is not possible here.

    Jeff, I provide a dictionary definition of the term as it was used in about the same era as the WCF, and you ask me for something else that is more credible …. ! What exactly did you have in mind?

  32. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Roger: If faith is the sole instrument of justification, and at the same time baptism truly conveys/confers/communicates it, then we are talking about two different things.

    Yes, precisely. And that difference is between efficient cause and sacramental symbol.

    The effects of the first are attributed to the other because of the sacramental union between sign and thing signified, but there is no question, none whatsoever, that faith for both Calvin and Luther was the efficient cause of the justification of the individual.

    …a man will be justified by faith when, excluded from the righteousness of works, he by faith lays hold of the righteousness of Christ, and clothed in it appears in the sight of God not as a sinner, but as righteous. — Calv. Inst. 3.11.2

    I won’t multiply quotes here, but see also Inst. 3.1.1; WSC 30, esp. Fisher’s commentary; Belgic 22; Dordt 2.7; 39 Articles 11; Smalcald 4; Heidelberd 20, 21; any of Berkhof, Hodge, Dabney; and so on. By faith, we are united to Christ, whence His benefits become ours. The language used is universally the language of efficient cause, never the language of legal document. Not once is it said, “Faith grants us the right to justification, but baptism accomplishes it.” No, faith unites us to Christ, whence flow His benefits.

    Sorry to be so definite here, but I’m perplexed at your reading.

  33. Ron Henzel said,

    August 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I think it should be explicitly noted that “The Latin of the Article (XXVII)” in the quotation in Roger’s first comment above refers to the Latin of Article 27 in the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England (1563), and not to Chapter 27 of the WCF (1647)—which is on the sacraments and coincidentally mentions baptism. I think it should also be noted that perhaps the reason Roger would urge us to be “Disregarding the baptismal doctrine of the article” is that the context in which he found his citation (at least as it stands in a 1904 London edition of the same work [p. 63, col., 2, para. 2]) takes us in a direction opposite of where he wants us to go. The paragraph begins as follows (and I quote it here through the place where his citation ends in his more recent edition, which I could not find):

    The language of the baptismal offices, in which the baptized, whether adult or infant, is declared regenerate, is understood by many of our best divines as that of charitable assumption, and of faith in God’s promises, nor is it anywhere asserted in the Prayer Book that every baptized person is changed in heart and nature. Repentance and faith, which are prayed for in the Baptismal Service for Infants, are absolutely necessary to the realisation of the full benefits of Baptism. This view is well expressed by Bishop Harold Browne (Article XXVII.). He wrote : ” If a person has been baptized, but still remains with his carnal nature unrenewed, we are not to conclude that God was unfaithful though the man has been unfaithful. But we are still to look upon that person as practically unregenerated, and we ought to try to bring him to conversion of heart, to a real change of soul and spirit. We may indeed still hope that God’s Spirit promised in Baptism will be ever ready to aid him, when he does not continue obstinately to resist Him.” In this he fully agrees with Article XXVII., which defines Baptism as “a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby as by an instrument” (i.e., a legal deed of conveyance), “they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church, the promises of forgiveness of sins and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed ; faith is confirmed and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.”

    Regardless of whether Roger was or was not engaged in selective citation, one thing is clear from the above and another is not. What is clear is that even the Thirty-Nine Articles did not present baptism as conveying forgiveness and adoption, but only as conveying the promises of those things (which conveyance, it should be noted, is in itself an act of grace). What is not clear is that any technical sense of the word instrumentum as found in the 27th Article of the Church of England is also contained in the obviously technical phrase instrumentum iustificationis. A more recent reference work seems to insist that it is simply a synonym for “means”:

    instrumentum iustificationis: instrument of justification; i.e., faith. Justification is accomplished by grace in an actus forensis on the basis of faith. Both the Lutherans and the Reformed view faith as a passive instrument in justification, since faith does not cause justification but is the medium ληπτικόν (q.v.) of justification.

    [Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA, and Carlisle, UK: Baker Books and Paternoster Press, 1985), 156. Emphasis is Muller's.]

    A medium here is “something used to achieve an end” (cf. Merriam-Webster) which is synonymous with “means,” and so “instrument of justification” and “means of justification” can be interchangeable terms (although the former has been traditionally preferred). Thus the key difference between the terms “instrument of justification” and “means of grace” is not to be found in their initial nouns, but in their prepositional phrases. Something can be a means (or instrument) of grace without being an instrument (or means) of justification (of which there is only one). To argue that recognizing “instrument” as a synonym for “means” here somehow reduces it to “a general tool” ignores the fact that the phrase “of justification” modifies “instrument” so that it is no longer a general anything, but something very specific.

  34. David Gadbois said,

    August 23, 2010 at 1:52 am

    “Means of grace” is a broader term that applies to the Word as well as baptism. It need not mean anything more in relation to baptism than it means when applied to the Word. That is, baptism is a means of grace in that it engenders and reinforces faith in Christ. In this case baptism can, excepting adult converts, indirectly cause justification. But that does not mean that baptism is the means by which one lays hold of Christ’s righteousness.

  35. Roger du Barry said,

    August 23, 2010 at 4:17 am

    Thanks to Ron for the article on instrumentum iustificationis. Now we are starting to do proper research into the term. I noticed in particular the assertion of the forensic nature of faith.

    instrumentum iustificationis: instrument of justification; i.e., faith. Justification is accomplished by grace in an actus forensis on the basis of faith.

    This is exactly what I have been saying all along! An instrument is a legal tool, a FORENSIC tool in other words. It is in THIS SENSE that faith is the alone instrumentum/legal tool of justification.

    Prayer and sacraments are means of grace too, aren’t they? Therefore faith must be the alone instrument in a specific sense – a forensic/legal sense.

    Simple really.

  36. Roger du Barry said,

    August 23, 2010 at 4:31 am

    Erasmus called his first NT translation the Novum Instrumentum Omne, later changed to the more familiar Novum Testamentum Omne.

    Notice that instrumetum and testamentum are used interchangeably. A testament is a legal document, a forensic tool, that conveys rights to the recipients.

    Again, instrumentum is shown to be a forensic/legal term.

  37. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 23, 2010 at 7:02 am

    The core problem is that legal instruments are grounds. If I burst in and search your home, my warrant is the ground for doing so.

    By contrast, faith is not the ground of our justification. You agree that this is clear in the Reformers, right?

    So the legal instrument notion, even if etymologically correct, conveys the wrong intention — a ground instead of a means by which we grab ahold of Christ.

    Can I commend to your attention, Ursinus’ Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism? I’ve been reading it for other reasons, but his discussion on the Sacraments, Qn. 68, directly addresses the question of being saved without the sacraments, while Qn. 20 – 21get at the nature of justifying faith.

    Money quote: “The subject of faith is introduced next in order: 1. Because it is the means by which we are made partakers of the Mediator…” (Ursinus, Comm HC Qn. 21).

    Jeff

  38. Roger du Barry said,

    August 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

    An instrument as it is used in the confessions and in the Reformation Era, is not a ground.

    Faith is credited to us as righteousness, which it in one sense is not. Nevertheless, God counts it as righteousness. There is something forensic happening here. God is making a judicial judgement about us, on legal grounds. Faith is the legal instrument that he requires for this to happen.

    The ground is the cross and resurrection, of course, since Christ died for us and was raised for our justification.

    As for Ursinus, he means that faith is a means in the sense of instrument. Means are not grounds. Cash back.

  39. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 23, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Ah, brother Roger, I see that you will not be easily moved!

    So “means” means “instrument”, but “instrument” does not mean “means.”

    I will say, as a last thought on this, that your account of justification sounds like God is imputing faith to us as righteousness. I have a “certificate of faith”, and God justifies me upon presentation of certificate (at baptism, of course). So the faith is the legal grounds for the justification.

    I see it quite differently: faith is the means by which we lay hold of Christ, whose righteousness is the legal grounds for our justification.

    It would take a lot, a whole lot, for me to be moved from that view, for I consider it essential to the gospel.

    Peace,
    Jeff

  40. Roger du Barry said,

    August 24, 2010 at 1:50 am

    Jeff

    You have tried the trick of making a means into a ground before, so I am wise to you brother :) .

    You said: So “means” means “instrument”, but “instrument” does not mean “means.”

    Actually, I am saying that instrumentum is a specific kind of means. I have avoided using the word, means, regarding faith, because the WCF does so. It uses the word instrument, and reserves the word means for the Word, prayer and the sacraments, in accordance with traditional usage.

    There is a history to these words which I am respecting.

    I have shown you historical instances where the word instrumentum has the specific legal meaning that I have been arguing for. I have not found ANY instance, so far, where it has the general meaning that you are arguing for.

    I would like to see you produce similar evidence from the era under discussion where it is shown to mean something else. That is my challenge to you.

  41. Roger du Barry said,

    August 24, 2010 at 2:01 am

    PS: You said that I said: I have a “certificate of faith”, and God justifies me upon presentation of certificate (at baptism, of course). So the faith is the legal grounds for the justification.

    Nope. The cross is the legal ground, and faith is the instrument/legal deed of conveyance of the resulting justification. The time of conveyance is another matter.

    On that subject, the WCF has a very interesting comment on it. Under the sacramental article it says that justification is conveyed/conferred/communicated at a time of God’s choosing. It does not say, at the moment of believing, but at a time of God’s choosing.

    Therefore the WCF does not limit the moment of justification to either the moment faith or baptism. Neither do I, as a matter of record.

  42. Phil Derksen said,

    August 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Roger, is one of your basic contentions that faith is the instrument by which justification is “received” but not “applied”?

  43. Roger du Barry said,

    August 25, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Phil, for justification to be received and applied both faith and baptism are generally necessary, with faith the alone instrument/legal deed and baptism the means of conferring the same.

    In the Bible baptism follows a profession of faith immediately, with minimal delay. The idea that we must give a new believer time to prove to us that he is genuine is not found in the scripture. At Pentecost the new Christians are baptised immediately. Paul is given three days. Cornelius, his house, and his friends, are baptised immediately.

    My point is that faith and baptism should be closely connected if at all possible. That way the two things do not become separated as two distinct things that have almost no temporal connection.

    I have just met a Dutchman while on holiday on France who believes that Christian sacraments are for the Jews only, not the Gentiles, and that he has no need to be baptised. He believes in grace alone and faith alone through Christ alone.

    What would you say to such a man concerning his justification? Can a man who despises the ordinances of God, and refuses water for himself, be saved?

  44. Phil Derksen said,

    August 25, 2010 at 9:45 am

    RE: “What would you say to such a man concerning his justification? Can a man who despises the ordinances of God, and refuses water for himself, be saved?”

    CAN such a contemptuous sinner still be saved by the mercy and grace of a sovereign God? Absolutely. (WCF 28.5)

  45. Phil Derksen said,

    August 25, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Roger, re: “For justification to be received and applied both faith and baptism are generally necessary, with faith the alone instrument/legal deed and baptism the means of conferring the same.”

    I guess I’m still not clear whether the distinction I was getting at between “reception” and “application” is an accurate way to describe your position. One could certainly read the above statement and infer as much – faith is how justification is received, with baptism being the ordinary way it is applied. Is this a fair reading?

  46. Roger du Barry said,

    August 26, 2010 at 1:59 am

    Phil, I am sure that you do not believe that an unrepentant man can be saved. It is a great sin to refuse baptism according to the WCF. I would personally refuse to accept such a man into membership.

    On reception and application, I am resistant to those words, as they are too prone to misunderstanding. The sacraments are generally necessary to salvation, but they are ineffective without saving faith. The WCF terms are sufficiently accurate, namely, instrument and means.

    I am claiming that this is the position of the WCF, not a personal quirk. That means that I am saying that you all are unconfessional on these points.

    Y’all are confusing instrument with means, thus rendering the WCF incoherent. If the moment of faith is the moment of justification in every case, as you argue, why does the WCF say that sacraments confer it? Why then does it teach that the moment of application of justification is at a time of God’s choosing?

    I am arguing for the position that reconciles all of these different things.

  47. Ron Henzel said,

    August 26, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Roger,

    You never described an “unrepentant man;” you only described a man with confused ideas about baptism.

    As for “confusing instrument with means,” let me make the bottom line of the above-supplied definition from Muller’s dictionary perfectly clear: in the Westminster Standards, “instrument = medium = means.” Your idiosyncratic “legal deed” alternative, while interesting, is neither supported by standard reference works, nor have you adequately explained how it should alter our understanding of the standards. Based on our previous altercations on this blog, I detect an agenda on your part. Why not simply be abundantly clear about it, so we don’t misunderstand you and inadvertently impute to you views that you do not hold?

  48. David Gadbois said,

    August 26, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Roger’s scheme requires an idiosyncratic concept of two-step justification that is not supported by Scripture, nor found in our confessions, nor taught by any Reformed systematic theologian.


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