Leithart Trial: My Cross-examination by Robert Rayburn and Howard Donahoe (Defense Counsels)

Since I have already put up my own testimony in the Leithart trial, I thought it would be fair to also post the cross-examination of my testimony by defense counsels TE Robert Rayburn and RE Howard (“Howie”) Donahoe. Here it is (HT: Jason Stellman):

MODERATOR O’BAN: Anything else that you want the witness to address, Mr. Prosecutor, in direct?

STELLMAN: No. I’ll have a chance to redirect after the cross-examination?

MODERATOR O’BAN: You will if there’s cross-examination.

STELLMAN: Okay then at this time nothing.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Any cross?

RAYBURN: Yeah, we have cross.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Go ahead.

RAYBURN: You’re responding at length in the first part, the largest part of your paper to the first charge, which is that Peter Leithart attributes saving benefits to baptism. Where is the term saving benefits found in the Westminster Confession of Faith?

KEISTER: I don’t have a copy of the confession with me so I can’t say _____.

RAYBURN: Would you be surprised to learn that it is not found in the Westminster Confession of Faith? In fact, that it’s not found in any reformed symbol.

KEISTER: Well, there is, there is a discussion whether the difference here would be between – – What we – – That’s usually a short hand for the things like justification, adoption, those kinds of things.

RAYBURN: Where does the confession say that?

KEISTER: The confession doesn’t have to say that.

RAYBURN: Alright. Explicit mention is made in that first charge, of 1 Peter 3:21 that baptism saves. I’d like to, I’d like to inquire a little bit more about your dismissing of that text as saying what it might at first blush seem to say that baptism saves. The charge reads that it’s not baptism that saves. It’s what baptism signifies that saves. In 1 Timothy 4:16, the Apostle Paul says to Timothy: watch your life and doctrine closely because by them you will save both yourself and your hearers. sozo. Same verb. Does the Apostle Paul mean in 1 Timothy 4:16 that, in fact, Timothy will save himself and his hearers not Christ?

KEISTER: I’m really not prepared to do exegesis from the hip. I would – -

RAYBURN: Well, it’s a standard statement in the Bible and it says: You will save yourself and your hearers. Baptism saves. You will save yourself and your hearers by your life and your doctrine.

KEISTER: Well, let me try to get at the point by saying that Peter in three, in chapter three, goes on to contextualize what he means. That it is not by the washing. [OUT OF RANGE] Using the English Standard Version. Goes on to say: Baptism which corresponds to this now saves you not as removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, if you’ve read the testimony, you’ll know that I don’t intend to separate the sign from the things signified except that they can be temporally displaced as it says.

RAYBURN: So, baptism does save?

KEISTER: If you consider baptism as the whole sacrament and not just the sign or at the time point of the sign, then that sign plus things signified and the sacramental union is the whole picture.

RAYBURN: So in 1 Timothy 4:16 when the Apostle Paul says: Watch your life and doctrine closely or by them you will save both yourself and your hearers. Or when the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that he’s all things to all man. That he might save some. Or when James says, if you will recover the sinner, you will save his soul. Or when in Proverbs we read that a parent who faithfully disciplines his child saves his soul from death. In all of these statements there is in fact a sense that some particular thing is instrumental in the totality of salvation. Do you think that’s a fair conclusion from all of those statements, those uses of the word save?

KEISTER: Again I wouldn’t be willing to make a comment like that without – -

RAYBURN: Okay. Would you be willing, Lane, to admit that there are many Presbyterians from the past and many ministers in the PCA today who would say of baptism that in this sacrament “God gives us the grace that he promises in his Word.” That in the sacrament of baptism, “there is a convergence, a meeting of Word and Spirit and Sign and the result [of that convergence] is baptism.” And that through his grace and the word of God, “the Spirit [somehow] connects this washing with water to a real inward cleansing and regeneration”. Would you accept that there are others who hold that view?

KEISTER: The research that I’ve done suggests that the connection and the efficacy lies in the spirit which gives faith. That connects the sign and the things signified. And the efficacy lies in the spirit- given faith. They don’t separate them but they don’t confuse them either. That’s in general what I’ve seen. And they don’t usually say – -

RAYBURN: So you wouldn’t define the sacrament in quite that way?

KEISTER: I would agree with that. What I just said in terms of there is the sign, the things signified, the spiritual union, the efficacy of baptism is in the spirit-given faith.

RAYBURN: But in speaking of baptism, as the Scripture does, to say that in the sacrament, somehow, the Holy Spirit connects this washing with water with real inward cleansing and regeneration.

KEISTER: I would be a little uncomfortable with that way of putting it.

STELLMAN: I object to this, Mr. Moderator. I don’t see the relevance in these unnamed other people out there, who may describe baptism in such and such a way. I don’t understand why my witness is being asked to comment on a formulation by some unnamed source. The issue here is what the confession says and what Dr. Leithart says. Not whether my witness thinks that some formulation of baptism that Dr. Rayburn is putting forth from some unnamed source or sources; whether he agrees with that or not. I don’t see the point.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Do you want to respond?

RAYBURN: Yeah. The point is that the description of baptism I just gave I quoted from Dr. Michael Horton’s paper on baptism. The other witness brought by the prosecution. We’ll move on. I want to go a little bit to the question of your objectivity, Mr. Kiester, and your, and maybe perhaps the perception of some bias. A year into your ministry, you published on your blog a review of Michael Williams’ book, Far as The curse is Found. Did you not?

KEISTER: I think it was more recent than a year ____ – -

RAYBURN: Okay. Perhaps. That’s fine. It’s irrelevant. Irrelevant. And in that review you accused Michael Williams of some of the same things concerning which Dr. Leithart has been accused in the indictment. But in the response to that review Sean Lucas who is one of the writers of the General Assembly Report on Federal Vision, took you to task with regard to your views of Michael Williams’ book and his argument. I’d like you to read if you would please for the record a highlighted portions of those two pages.

STELLMAN: Mr. Moderator, I would want to object and ask what the relevance is here of what my witness may have written on his blog however many years ago concerning somebody else. And what some other third person said about that. How is this pertinent to whether or not Dr. Leithart’s view of baptism is confessional?

MODERATOR O’BAN: Did I understand the defense correctly? You want to go to bias?

RAYBURN: Go to bias and competence frankly.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Okay. Proceed. Overruled.

KEISTER: Before I read this, I would like to say, I am not an objective witness. I am a witness for the prosecution. So, yes, I disagree with Sean Lucas in his interpretation. And this is what he said: I was quite surprised that you have read him this way. First when Mike says that the covenant of creation continues he is saying the same thing as traditional reformed theology. The covenant, the COF, I assume that means confession of faith, doesn’t define covenant beyond the language of condescension. To rule other definitions out of bounds is to create and extra confession to which others must subscribe. I don’t believe that the confession of faith requires one to believe in Adamic merit. Fourth, the charge that really surprised me was that Mike confuses law and gospel. Mike used to get on me for my supposed Lutheran preference for the first use of the law. I’ve always heard Mike talking in terms of traditional Calvinian third use of the law. To read him as though he was talking about covenantal nomism[M1] strikes me as worrisome. If we aren’t careful in the way we stress the continuing need for believers’ obedience we can slide into antinomianism. I’ve never read Mike as suggesting that our obedience will play a role in our final justification. You’ve read Mike more suspiciously than he deserves. Taking into context the traditional reformed theology, Mike’s book holds up quite well. If we aren’t careful in the way we talk about some of these things than well revered teachers of the reformed faith, I’m thinking here John Murray, Wilson Benton, David McWilliams, Dave Gaffin , would suddenly be outside the pale.
[OUT OF RANGE]

RAYBURN(?): Mr. Moderator, my questions are, in a similar vein in the interest of time I’ve tried to frame them succinctly, yes and no format. So – – First, Mr. Kiester, I assume you consider yourself to be an expert witness in theology. Is that correct?

KEISTER: That would not be for me to judge.

RAYBURN: Would the court determine for the defense whether he’s presented as a material witness or an expert witness or is there another category?

MODERATOR O’BAN: Well, let me ask the prosecutor, why, what’s the nature of this witness’ testimony if it’s not expert testimony?

STELLMAN: Well, he has read every single theological piece of literature or writing that Leithart has written. He’s read every single book, every single journal article, every single theological book I should say, every journal article. He probably has read as much of Dr. Leithart’s work as anyone else except perhaps Dr. Leithart himself. And so why his competence is called into question here is an answer I would like to hear.

MODERATOR O’BAN: No, I think the question more narrowly framed is in what capacity is this witness being called. He didn’t overhear a statement made by Dr. Leithart that no one else would know but for this witness and in that sense he would be a fact witness. It seems to me you’re calling him because he is conversant on Dr. Leithart’s theology through his writings

STELLMAN: Yes.

MODERATOR O’BAN: And you’re asking him not just simply to regurgitate those writings, but in fact to render and opinion on the nature of those writings vis-à-vis the standards. Correct?

STELLMAN: Correct.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Well, that, that is, I’ll just simply rule, is the capacity of an expert witness. So the question is, is he an expert witness that, it just simply may be that your witness doesn’t, didn’t understand maybe that fine distinction. So you’re calling him here as an expert witness, correct?

STELLMAN: Insofar as I understood what you just said. Yes.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Okay. So then – -

DEFENSE: I can reframe my question.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Go ahead.

RAYBURN: It’s the defense’s understanding that you’re well read on Dr. Leithart’ s writings. In addition to that, do you consider yourself to be an expert in theology? In theological issues, however phrase you wish to put that.

STELLMAN: Well, I would object – – What to we mean, what do we mean expert? How do we define expert? Dr. Kiester is a master of divinity.

KEISTER: I’m not a doctor.

RAYBURN: I am willing to let the witness define the term. Mr. Kiester.

MODERATOR O’BAN: An expert can be qualified through training, education or experience.

STELLMAN: Sure, but the person, a person is much less likely to call himself an expert on something as other people who have evaluated him are.

RAYBURN: I can rephrase the question. Mr. Kiester do you believe the prosecutor considers you to be an expert witness in theology?

KEISTER: Yes.

RAYBURN: Okay. I also assume you consider yourself to be an unbiased witness in this proceeding. Is that correct?

KEISTER: No.

RAYBURN: So you’re – -

KEISTER: I’m a witness for the prosecution. I’m not an unbiased witness. I have my point of view just like anybody else does.

RAYBURN: Okay. Your undergrad degree was in music. Is that correct?

KEISTER: Piano performance. Yes.

RAYBURN: I’m sorry?

KEISTER: Yes. Piano performance.

RAYBURN: You were ordained in 2004. Is that right?

KEISTER: I think my ordination date was 2005.

RAYBURN: Okay. So you’ve been in the ministry for less than 7 years. Is that right?

KEISTER: Correct.

RAYBURN: Have you had any formal seminary study of theology or biblical studies outside of your M.Div.?

KEISTER: No.

RAYBURN: Have you ever been on a commission of the General Assembly, a commission or any of its study committees?

KEISTER: No.

RAYBURN: You’re the Pastor of two different congregations. Is that correct?

KEISTER: Correct.

RAYBURN: And where are they?

KEISTER: They’re in rural North Dakota.

RAYBURN: These are RCA and CRC churches. Is that right?

KEISTER: Correct.

RAYBURN: Would you hold that these denominations are at least in their confessions reformed churches?

KEISTER: They are slipping confessionally. The particular churches I serve are considerably more conservative than their respective denominations.

RAYBURN: Okay. Is it correct that the RCA subscribes to Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Catechism[M3] , Canons of Dort, and the confession of Belhar

KEISTER: The first three, yes. I think they’re still talking about the Belhar. They may have confirmed that but I can’t remember for sure.

RAYBURN: In any of those do we read of the phrase, covenant of works?

KEISTER: I don’t believe that phrase occurs in those. No.

RAYBURN: In any of those, do we read the phrase, imputation of active obedience?

STELLMAN: I object, I don’t, Dr. Kiester’s – -

KEISTER: I’m not a doctor.

STELLMAN: Sorry. I keep calling everybody “doctor” today and – – So, Dr. O’Ban – -

MODERATOR O’BAN: Good, I like that. Keep going.

[Laughter]

STELLMAN: Pastor Kiester, he’s credentialed in Siouxland’s Presbytery of the PCA. And so I failed to see whether or not the churches that he serves out of bounds with permission of that presbytery, confess the, subscribe to confessions or catechisms that have particular phrases in them. I don’t understand why my witness is being, attempted to be discredited.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Do you want to respond?

STELLMAN: And forgive me if I’m misconstruing what’s going on.

DEFENSE COUNSEL DONAHOE: The intent of my question goes to bias, competence and credibility.

MODERATOR O’BAN: You understand where the defense is going with these questions?

STELLMAN: I do. How long must it continue?

DONAHOE: Probably for 15 minutes.

MODERATOR O’BAN: About 15 minutes, it sounds like.

DONAHOE: It’s also worth saying, Moderator, that in his final paragraph, Mr. Kiester recommends that we send Dr. Leithart to some other church. We certainly have a right to explore the other churches with which he is related.

MODERATOR O’BAN: I’m going to allow the testimony.

DONAHOE: Okay.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Or the questions I should say.

DONAHOE: I assume the prosecution reimbursed you for all your travel expenses related to your testimony. Is that correct?

KEISTER: Relevance?

MODERATOR O’BAN: Please answer, please answer the question.

KEISTER: Yes.

DONAHOE: I assume that.

KEISTER: Yes.

DONAHOE: Okay. Have either you, or have you or either of your churches contributed money to the prosecution’s fund?

KEISTER: No.

DONAHOE: Is it correct that three months ago, on March 11, you posted on your blog a plea for funds for the prosecution fund in this case?

KEISTER: I posted a link to Jason’s plea for funds. He asked me to.

DONAHOE: Can I read this into the record? March 11, you wrote this on your blog, Jason, it’s not just a link. Jason Stellman is asking for funds to help fly in key witnesses for the trial of Peter Leithart. If you or your church is able willing to do this, it would be a great boon so that the trial can be done correctly. Do you recall writing that and do you agree it’s more than a link?

KEISTER: Something like that. Yes.

DONAHOE: Okay. On your blog, between, in 2007, between June and October, did you write 15 articles critical of Dr. Leithart’s views? 07 June to October.

KEISTER: That sounds about right.

DONAHOE: On your blog three years later in 2010, between January and February, did you write 7 separate articles criticizing Dr. Rayburn’s supplemental brief in the SJC case, Bordwine vs. Pacific Northwest?

KEISTER: That sounds about right.

DONAHOE: Okay. Have you ever met Dr. Leithart or Dr. Rayburn before today?

KEISTER: No.

DONAHOE: Have you ever asked in correspondence with these men if, for instance, you were reading them correctly or charitably?

KEISTER: No.

DONAHOE: In 2006 on your blog, in an article titled, Why is the Federal Vision Heresy? Did you write, “Federal Vision is heretical and utterly to be abhorred[.”]?

KEISTER: I don’t have it before me. I progressed in my understanding and how I was going to describe Federal Vision theology from my initial, that was an earlier post, from my initial to point in engaging the discussion after the debates. I was really only more comfortable in talking about whether it was confessional or not. The word heresy is like an “h” bomb. You know. And people get distracted when that word gets thrown around. So, I stopped using that word after a while because it just got, it got in the way.

DONAHOE: So do you believe that Dr. Leithart is a heretic?

KEISTER: I believe that that is not the issue that we’re dealing with and so I would not comment on that question. I would say that he’s not confessional.

DONAHOE: Ok. Are you aware of the 2006 Missouri Presbytery report on Federal Vision which takes a rather different view than you do on these subjects? It’s defense exhibit 9.

KEISTER: Yes.

DONAHOE: Okay. Are you aware of the 2010 Missouri Presbytery material with respect to accusations brought against Teaching Elder Jeffrey Meyers? Defense exhibit 10.

KEISTER: Yes, I am aware of it.

DONAHOE: Were you one of the signers of the initial letter to Missouri Presbytery that called into question the credentials of T.E. Meyers?

KEISTER: I think calling the credentials into question is a little bit pejorative.

DONAHOE: Okay. I’ll strike that.

KEISTER: I was a signer, I was a signer of a letter of concern.

DONAHOE: Okay. Did you receive a later letter, I’m sorry. Did you receive a letter later from Missouri Presbytery warning of the violation of the 9th commandment and the accusations taken regarding that letter and its publicity?

KEISTER: Yes, I was given a letter that did not contact me about any possible 9th commandment violations and it did not contact me ahead of time seeing if they had read me charitably or not. Yes.

DONAHOE: Would you agree that the 2006 and 2010 Missouri Presbytery reports take a divergent view from the things you have presented and the stands you have taken in your blogging?

KEISTER: As the Missouri Presbytery report has been interpreted recently in the Meyers case by, for instance, the Study Committee report, I would say yes. At the time when I first saw the Missouri Presbytery report, I wasn’t sure. There was, there were ambiguities in it that I didn’t know what they meant by it, how they wanted to go with it, it was a little bit murky I felt. But certainly, that presbytery has taken a divergent view from mine now on these matters.

DONAHOE: Are you aware that members of the Missouri Presbytery committee for those reports included men such as Drs. David Calhoun, John Collins, Robert Peterson, Steven Esta, Sean Lucas, Michael Williams, Bryan Chapell, Will Barker and Wilson Benton?

KEISTER: Which committee are you referring to now?

DONAHOE: That would have been the study committee, I believe.

KEISTER: The original study committee? I knew some of those names were on it. Yes.

DONAHOE: So, you’re in your early thirties. Is that correct?

KEISTER: Correct.

DONAHOE: Does it give you any pause that such men as these, older and wiser, with better theological training, far more years of experience and service in the PCA, eminently qualified in the biblical and theological questions have come to such different conclusions that you have on this relevant material?

KEISTER: Well, on the one hand it always gives me pause when I see a divergent interpretation from mine. On the other hand, many men just as qualified, just as theologically astute have taken a different tack. So, there isn’t just, you know – – It’s not as simple as saying, well this group of men says this and so why shouldn’t you have listened to them and heard that. I have tried to read them as accurately as I possibly can. But there are other reformed voices that say very differently from that. And I have chosen to trust their judgment and their scholarship which is every bit as compelling in terms of years of scholarship, years of work as the men you’re talking about.

DONAHOE: Can you give me a couple names, of PCA men, for example.

KEISTER: Ligon Duncan, Joey Pipa, Rick Phillips.

DONAHOE: And my question is. Do you have any idea why none of those names were called to sit in that stand and testify at this trial?

KEISTER: I wouldn’t speculate.

DONAHOE: Okay. Would it be accurate to say that your blog index lists 350 posts under the topic of Federal Vision, and another 56 on the so called New Perspective on Paul. Is that sound right?

KEISTER: It’s about right.

DONAHOE: Would it be accurate to say you have more Federal Vision posts than all the posts on the New Testament combined. In fact, would it be accurate to say that you have at least 100 more Federal Vision posts than you have New Testament posts on your index?

KEISTER: It’s a possibility. I haven’t published all my sermons on there.

DONAHOE: I’m just talking about the posts.

KEISTER: I don’t remember what the exact number is.

STELLMAN: Excuse me, objection. Often a post can be labeled under more than one tag. And so a post can be labeled New Testament and Federal Vision.

MODERATOR O’BAN: You’ll have an opportunity for re-direct – want to bring that out.

DEFENSE: Would it be accurate to say your blog site has received over 2 million hits.

KEISTER: Yes.

DONAHOE: Would you say that these Federal Vision and New Perspective posts tend to be the ones that bring the most traffic to your blog?

KEISTER: Over the course of the history of the blog, they have certainly, especially the debates with Douglas Wilson, those garner the most hits, for sure. There are other issues that I’ve been bringing up such as the doctrine of scripture which have been bringing in a lot of hits too. But it’s, it’s not something I keep really close track on either.

DONAHOE: Do you receive any benefits say from book stores for traffic on your blog?

KEISTER: Yes. Well, only for clicks for the Westminster book store.

DONAHOE: Is it correct that you – – well, if people buy books through your links, do you get bonuses say from the Westminster bookstore for books?

KEISTER: The deal is, I believe, for every 10 clicks on my blog there is a, I think, it’s a $2, a $2 gift certificate. I get it at the end of the month.

DONAHOE: Sometimes you seem to have postings from others on your blog, for example a T.E. Carpenter and T.E. White. Is that correct?

KEISTER: They’ve commented yes.

DONAHOE: Are these two men, are these the two men who are currently either facing trial or possible indictment for allegedly disregarding the reputations of others in their blogging?

KEISTER: T.E. Carpenter is under judicial process. T.E. White is not under any judicial process currently.

DONAHOE: Do either of the or does the one gentlemen blog in question occur in any form on your own blog? The gentleman who is under indictment. Do any of the blog posts for which he’s accused appear on your blog?

KEISTER: I honestly don’t remember.

DONAHOE: Okay.

KEISTER: He’s not a poster on my blog. There might be – – It might possibly be a comment. But its – – I get comments from atheists, agnostics, Roman Catholics all over the map. I don’t generally delete a comment unless I find that it is rhetorically over the top. And I’ve deleted plenty of comments from people I’m sympathetic with on the nature of other people in the Presbytery or things like that. It’s not an easy thing to do. I have help in moderating the blog because there’s simply too many comments. Sometimes there’s as many as 100 or 200 in a single day. And I need help moderating that. So, I’m not the only one moderating the blog.

DONAHOE: In the few years that you have been in the ministry, you’ve been supportive of indictments against at least 2 ministers in your own Presbytery. Is that correct? Supportive of indictments of against at least 2 ministers in your own Presbytery.

KEISTER: Indictment is also not the word I would choose. I have supported the investigation into two members of the Presbytery.

DONAHOE: Were you yourself officially investigated this past year on whether or not your own view of baptism was within the Westminster standards?

KEISTER: At my own request. Yes.

DONAHOE: What was the result of that investigation?

KEISTER: Complete exoneration.

DONAHOE: Was the phrase complete exoneration the language adopted by the Presbytery?

KEISTER: No.

DONAHOE: What language was adopted by the Presbytery?

KEISTER: I don’t remember the exact wording. But it was to the effect that we do not find T.E. Kiester’s views to be out of accord with the standards or something like that.

DONAHOE: Would it be correct to say that the committee made the following motion. The committee asked Presbytery to declare that there is no reason to think 1) The teaching elder Kiester is teaching contrary to the standards in the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and 2) that Presbytery adopt the committee’s reasoning as grounds for this decision. Do you recall that being the exact motion from the committee?

KEISTER: It’s probably pretty close to that but I wouldn’t vouch for the exact wording.

DONAHOE: And do you recall that the Presbytery did not adopt that motion but instead adopted a motion that simply said at the present time we find no strong presumption of guilt.

KEISTER: That is definitely reading into the Presbytery’s reasoning. The reason why we did not adopt the reasoning of the study committee was because an adoption would have have the effect of creating extraconfessional standard.

DONAHOE: I’m not asking, I’m not asking, nor am I implying their reasoning. I’m saying in the minutes of the Presbytery, which I can give you to read if you want. The language that was adopted was: at the present time we find no strong presumption of guilt that teacher elder Kiester’s views are out of accord.

KEISTER: That could be. The whole thing arose because of a letter that Roger Dewberry sent to the Presbytery. Roger Dewberry is a minister in Britain. And he accused me of being hypocritical and not qualified to talk about the Federal Vision at all because my views were out of accord with confession. The presbytery did not want to examine me in general. They didn’t want to form a study committee at all. They thought it was ridiculous, most of them. That this – – They thought it was frivolous. Even people I strongly disagree with in the Presbytery thought it was frivolous. I insisted on it because it was a letter affecting my Christian character. I insisted on there being a study committee to look into my views because quite frankly hypocrisy is more than possible for someone like me. It’s very possible. And that my views would be out of accord with the confession is not anything I would want to take for granted. So I insisted on it, on a study committee being formed. And they did form it much against their will. And they found no strong presumption of guilt. To say at this time, and imply that that means that they were going to do more later. This was the end of it for the Presbytery. It’s quite plain.

DONAHOE: I’m simply asking. Was my reading an accurate quote of the action taken by Siouxlands Presbytery? And I have an excerpt of the minutes if – -

KEISTER: Well I can’t make a definitive pronouncement without seeing the minutes but it sounds about right.

DONAHOE: Okay. That’s all I have.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Okay. Any redirect?

STELLMAN: Rev. Kiester. Are you on trial here today?

KEISTER: No.

STELLMAN: What is your opinion about your experience being dismissed and about your age being brought up and about you being the subject of a study committee that you requested to defend your own Christian character in your Presbytery. A study committee that was reluctantly agreed to by the other members of your Presbytery. What is your opinion especially given all of the work you have done to understand Dr. Leithart? What is your opinion of the fact that that all we seem to want to talk about here is that you have a BA in piano performance and you’re 32 years old and you didn’t get ordained until 2004.

KEISTER: They’re complete red herrings. This is – – The truth is not determined by age. It’s not determined by one’s degree. It’s not determined by any of those things. It’s determined by its correspondence. And yes, everyone has a point of view. As I have already admitted, I am a biased witness. I am a witness for the prosecution. I believe that Leithart, while I have benefitted greatly from his work, I do not believe he’s in accordance with the standards. I benefit from many people whose works are not in accordance with the standards. But my age, I am ordained as a teaching elder in the PCA and that accords the same privileges, rights as any other teaching elder even though I acknowledge that I am not as learned as many other people. That’s a given. There’s always somebody else who has better knowledge of something, who has more experience, who has more general credibility than somebody else.

STELLMAN: Do any of these – -

KEISTER: That does not determine truth. It’s not determined by the number of noses that’s a logical fallacy. It’s not determined by age. Paul said to Timothy, Let no one despise you for your age. It’s not determined by any of those things.

STELLMAN: Do any of those people that you mentioned to have perhaps more experience, and more age, and more theological training than you do. Any of them object to Dr. Leithart’s views for the exact same reasons you do?

KEISTER: Yes.

STELLMAN: In your opinion, why did the defense just subject you to what I consider to be cheap and reprehensible attack on your own character? Why in your opinion would they raise that red herring?

DONAHOE: I have an objection. I would like the court to rule whether or not questioning on bias, credibility, and competency are valid questions on cross-examination.

MODERATOR O’BAN: I think the question probably goes more, counsel, to a lack of foundation for this witness to testify as to the motives for the defense and asking the questions they were asked other than those stated to go to bias, competency, and so forth. So, I am going to sustain the objection.

STELLMAN: In your opinion, what relevance does your own age and duration of pastoral ministry, what relevance does that have to the testimony that you have entered into the record on this day?

KEISTER: It’s irrelevant.

STELLMAN: Are any of these things less true because you’re 32 years old?

KEISTER: No.

STELLMAN: Are any of them less true because you got a B.A. in piano performance?

KEISTER: No.

STELLMAN: Are they less true because you were ordained in 2005?

KEISTER: No.

STELLMAN: What if you had been ordained in 1995 or 1985, would the things you have entered into the record as testimony be more true then?

KEISTER: Not more true. No.

STELLMAN: What if your B.A had been in philosophy?

KEISTER: Irrelevant. Let me, might I answer a little bit further on this question.

STELLMAN: You may.

KEISTER: I received direct, direct confirmation of my experience and knowledge from the men that I have mentioned: Lincoln Duncan, Rick Phyllis, Joe Pypa. Those men for instance and more like them have directly affirmed to me in either speech or anything else that I am qualified to talk about the Federal Vision and or witness concerning it. Men with just as much experience as the men on the covenant faculty – -

DONAHOE: Objection

MODERATOR O’BAN: I’ll allow it. Go ahead and finish your statement.

KEISTER: This is my testimony, not second hand knowledge. I’m done with my testimony. Would that – -

MODERATOR O’BAN: You shouldn’t have been interrupted. Do you want to finish anything further.

KEISTER: No.

MODERATOR O’BAN:Is your thought completed?

KEISTER: That thought was completed.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Alright. Any other questions for the witness?

STELLMAN: No.

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280 Comments

  1. curate said,

    October 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Lane, i have to admire you for asking your Presbytery to examine you as a result of my letter. I also applaud your thinking that you may well be wrong, and that these things happen.

    Just to recap, the reason that I believe that you are out of accord with your own confession on justification by faith alone, is the fact that justification/forgiveness is ordinarily granted to a Christian through baptism rightly received, the sacrament that truly conveys what it signifies.

    You deny that, which is why you are unconfessional on a key point of the doctrine of sola fide.

    That your Presbytery could not see that is odd, because it is out there for everyone to see in your testimony. Would I be correct in thinking that the PNW Presbytery would disagree with the opinion of your study committee?

  2. Reed Here said,

    October 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Roger: our standards do not believe that the sacraments are converting ordinances, but confirming ordinances. Think we’ve gone over this before, yes?

  3. David Gadbois said,

    October 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    It looks to me like the defense wasted most of its time cross-examining Lane, focusing on Lane and his credentials rather than matters of substance. The Confession and Scripture were only addressed at the very beginning of this block. It was a real missed opportunity for the defense.

  4. Sean Gerety said,

    October 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    @David. As shameful as that was, what else did the defense have to go on? You almost act as if they were even remotely interested the truth and the gospel. Their testimony along with their tactics speaks for itself.

  5. Dean B said,

    October 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Pastor Keister

    I am thankful for the defense highlighting a powerful opportunity we have as posters that I confess I have completely neglected in the past. I plan to hit the banner ad for Westminster Book store whenever I see it. Maybe if we all commit to doing this we can get get you such a credit at the bookstore that you can transfer the credit to the Seminary and get a free PhD.

    Get’n that there Dr. in front of your name seems real impotent w some peeps and I is intendin’ to does my part befur youse gotta go through that humiliation in front of thems fiiiine folks in thems big city again. Ims real glad youse movin’ outa that there state too and gettin’ some place respectable. Not sur what youse gunna do about bein’ young thats gunna be hard to fix, but me will do sum thinkin’ and let you no.

  6. October 14, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    What obnoxiousness! It makes me sad for the PCA, the way these men cross-examined you.

  7. Thomas said,

    October 14, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Lane,
    I appreciate your response to TE Rayburn through Mr. Stellman that your age, major, etc. is irrelevant to the issue. What is relevant is whether it is true; however, I found it ironic that repeatedly on your blog this comment of “no theological training, no Mdiv, and other similar comments” have been used to dismiss Doug Wilson by numerous bloggers, even including some moderators. I seem to have missed you objecting to those fallacious and irrelevant accusations in the same manner you did during your testimony. TE Rayburn’s tactic WAS irrelevant! Either you are correct about Leithart or not. I hope in the future you will call out this fallacy, even, when it is used by someone you agree with.

  8. curate said,

    October 15, 2011 at 12:40 am

    I have a few questions about your study Committee.

    1. What did they study? No-one contacted me, and since I am the one making the charge, that strikes me as odd.

    2. You must have brought the case against yourself. That is quite a precedent. How many accused wish they could do that? What does that tell us about the quality of the evidence you brought against yourself?

    3. You claim that you were completely exonerated. Exonerated from arguments you yourself brought? Were arguments made, or did you just say you are orthodox, and you all went out for coffee?

    4. How would you answer to the accusation that this looks and smells like a deal done in advance? What does that say about your claim of total exoneration?

    5. On that subject, three Presbyteries have ruled against you, and your friends, on these central issues. The tide has turned against you. Does that not give you pause to think that perhaps you may be mistaken? That so many of your peers and superiors disagree with you is telling.

  9. curate said,

    October 15, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Reed, you are avoiding the point. It most certainly is a converting ordinance. Three Presbyteries have now ruled against you.

    Does that make you think for even a minute that perhaps you may be wrong?

    Let me ask you a straight question: Was John’s baptism for the forgiveness of sins or not? Clue: see Mark 1.4.

  10. Cris Dickason said,

    October 15, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Well, another of Rev. Lane Keister’s qualifications: godly patience. I am not at all certain I could have remain calm (or even polite) in the face of that tone and line of questions from Mr Donahoe and Dr. Rayburn. And I’m a fair number of years older than Lane [cough]. It’s what I imagine it would be like to have Saruman interviewing one of the hobbits!

    The defense counselors seem pretty chummy with Moderator O’Ban. The Moderator tolerates the humiliating, condescending focus on age, and the attempt to portray Lane as a young, inexperienced, etc. Then observe that Leithart has been the Sacraments advisor/gatekeeper on the PNWP Candidates & Credentials committee.

    I’m struggling for a description that won’t just inflame or insult, but it looks like the majority of the TE’s are just circling the wagons, defending the professional ranks. This reminds me of the way Presbyterian polity and procedures were used [i.e., abused] against Machen. This is another “broadening of the Church” narrative.

    Maybe I’m cranky because its 3:00 AM Saturday and I’m overseeing a weekend long system upgrade process. OR maybe I’m insecure because I only have an M.Div. and am only a RE, and haven’t been on any denominational committees.

    -=Cris=-

  11. Sean Gerety said,

    October 15, 2011 at 7:06 am

    “Three Presbyteries have now ruled against you.”

    Three presbyteries are wrong and so are you.

  12. Dean B said,

    October 15, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Curate

    “That your Presbytery could not see that is odd, because it is out there for everyone to see in your testimony. Would I be correct in thinking that the PNW Presbytery would disagree with the opinion of your study committee?”

    Your day of joy is quickly approaching. Pastor Keister has just been exposed to another Presbytery and it should be abundantly clear to everyone in the room he is a complete fraud and completely ignorant what the WCF teaches. I am confident these charges of heresy will be coming quickly as these men take up there ordination vows to protect system of doctrine seriously.

  13. Kurt said,

    October 15, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Absolutely ridiculous performance here by the defense. Do they teach logic anymore? I think that I may use this for my 7th grade logic class and let them find the ad hominems.

  14. andrew said,

    October 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    V. poor taste.

    The first bit though, by Rayburn, on ‘x saves’ language in Scripture is pretty good.

  15. michael said,

    October 15, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    From where I sit, all that that examination does is re-enforce to me just how bad my own heart is even when God is my “Trust”.

    But for the Grace of God, who would ever be able to stand His or any human’s examination?

    Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
    Jer 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
    Jer 17:11 As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.

  16. greenbaggins said,

    October 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Roger, the Presbytery thought that your charges were, quite frankly, ridiculous and frivolous. They had to be almost bullied into examining me at all. Their method was to look at the areas where you had accused me of inconsistency with the standards, and then read my blog posts to see if my views were consistent with the standards or not. The material by which they judged was not, nor could it be, anything you said. The material had to be my own words, understood in their immediate context, when measured against the standards. They came to the conclusion that there was no chargeable offense here. If someone had wanted to complain that decision, they could have done so.

    Roger, you seem, along with myriads of other readers of my blog, to be ignorant of some of the finer points of Presbyterian polity. You act as if Presbyteries have the final word. They have no such thing. A Presbytery is ALWAYS subject to the review of a higher court. My understanding is that all three of these Presbyteries will be defending their indefensible decisions to the SJC via complaint. The final word has not been spoken until the SJC speaks. Furthermore, truth is not determined by the majority. It doesn’t matter how many people say something, that doesn’t make it true. And there have been rulings in the past, in several Presbyteries, with which I am in complete agreement. Take the SJC’s over-ruling of Louisiana Presbytery as a good test case. Take the Presbytery that would not transfer Rich Lusk’s credentials. And, speaking of arrogance, who is more arrogant: a blogger who agrees with the 2007 GA FV report, which was approved by about 95% of the PCA? Or three Presbyteries which are, in my opinion, now thumbing their noses at the GA?

  17. Lee said,

    October 15, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    It should be noted that the Heidelberg Catechism teaches imputation of the active obedience of Christ rather clearly in Question 60. The term is there, but the teaching is plain as day.

  18. curate said,

    October 16, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Lane, God is just, and time will tell whether my charge against you is ridiculous or not. I note that no attempt was made to inform me of the decision of your study committee, or indeed that there ever was one. Good manners are not forbidden in the standards.

    I have reason to believe that you will be made to answer yourself in a trial similar to the one that you testified in against a man who is your superior in skill and experience.

    Lane, I believe that you know in your heart that you are out of accord. Your friend Andy Webb has gone on record with his differences from the WCF on sacraments. Even so, his Presbytery also declined to act. You interpret that for yourself.

    The charge against you is simple and straightforward. You deny that sacraments truly convey the things signified, the exceptions and qualification notwithstanding.

    You attempt to evade the plain meaning of that clause by saying that they convey grace, but you do not mean by that word the thing signified. You mean an increase in faith, perhaps a feeling of blessing, or other things that do not include the things signified.

    In your words, you deny that baptism is a converting ordinance. This odd term I first heard by Andy Webb, your fellow denier.

    The WCF teaches that baptism conveys regeneration and the Holy Spirit. How those two blessings are not converting I cannot begin to understand.

  19. David Gadbois said,

    October 16, 2011 at 5:17 am

    Re: #14, the sad thing is that they almost had an interesting and relevant discussion concerning what the Bible means when it ascribes saving efficacy to various things.

    When we speak of faith being the “alone instrument” of justification we are not talking broadly about the various means and causes that God uses to bring us into a saving relationship with Himself. There is indeed normally a long causal chain of various means, causes, and events that precede this salvation, that effect this salvation in various direct and indirect ways. The term “instrumental” is a category that Reformation theologians appropriated from Aristotelian logic and metaphysics, and refers specifically to the means by which the sinner lays hold of Christ’s righteousness and appropriates His righteousness as the ground of our justification, resulting in a “not guilty” verdict in the divine courtroom. As such saving faith is instrumental in that it is the “appropriating organ” that receives Christ’s righteousness and accomplishes this. This is what is encapsulated in the Reformation sola fide slogan and universally enshrined in the dozens of confessions that the reformed and presbyterian churches have produced since the 16th century.

    WCF uses “alone” as an adjective, modifying “instrument”, meaning that there can be no co-instruments that accomplish this along with faith, whether it be any work of the law, any good work springing from true faith, or any God-ordained sacrament.

    It is true that in more common language we sometimes use the term “instrument” or “instrumental” in broader ways, to describe any of the various tools or means that God uses to lead us to this saving faith. But this falls outside the specific intent of “instrument” in this context. In the broader sense one can say that the covenant, the Word, and the sacraments are all effectual means of salvation, they are efficient causes while falling short of being sufficient or in some cases even necessary causes of justification. On this broader usage, one could even say that our ears and audio perception are means of salvation, since we hear the Gospel preached through them. But this hardly contradicts our confessions when they hold that faith is the alone instrument. None of those other means convey Christ’s righteousness to our account.

    Now, what Rev. Rayburn is trying to obscure with this tactic is the fact that Leithart has gone beyond simply stating that baptism brings about justification in a relatively indirect manner, but rather he contends that it operates as a de facto (if not formal) co-instrument alongside of faith for the sinner to convey Christ’s righteousness to his account. This is apparent from all of his writings, which Lane has ably documented – you can find the lowlights here.

  20. Tim Vaughan said,

    October 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I used to think that curate was just a nut job. Now after learning that 3 of 70 Presbyteries have begun favoring the FV there is a “turning of the tide”, I will have to re think my position. Clearly, the FV is in a tactical situation of overwhelming power.

  21. October 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

    But until the SJC rules judicially on the FV, there is no official PCA position. Remember, every time the SJC has weighed in, it has faulted presbyteries who failed to find a strong presumption of guilt on the part of FV proponents.

  22. Peter Green said,

    October 16, 2011 at 10:35 am

    “Furthermore, truth is not determined by the majority. It doesn’t matter how many people say something, that doesn’t make it true.”

    Hm, sort of like all the appeals to the FVSCR?

    But wait…

    “And, speaking of arrogance, who is more arrogant: a blogger who agrees with the 2007 GA FV report, which was approved by about 95% of the PCA? Or three Presbyteries which are, in my opinion, now thumbing their noses at the GA?”

    So can we expect to see continued inconsistency from the anti-FV crowd on this point?

    From my perspective, the anti-FV crowd appeal to official actions when it suits them (FVSCR), and claim that councils and presbyteries can error and that truth is not dependent on a majority when it suits them (MOP, PNWP, SLP). Perhaps there is a *crucial* (as opposed to irrelevant) distinction, but I can’t see it.

  23. andrew said,

    October 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Re. 19

    Thanks for that. V. helpful, as I don’t have a vast acquaintance with P. Leithart. It strikes me he might make two responses:

    i) That ‘baptism saves’ refers to more than justification, and does not contradict sola fide. It is more in the ‘sola gratia’ part.

    ii) Insofar as baptism does relate to justification, it is part of God’s declaration of the verdict, not the appropriating means. This seems to be the gist of point 9 in Lane’s post you link to.

    How would we respond?

    P.S. The WCOF seems to use very strong language of baptism – moreso, I guess, than the typical presbyterian would use today. How does this compare to the TFU?

  24. dougsowers said,

    October 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    @Andrew, the Bible uses very strong language of baptism, more than many on this blog are willing to use.

  25. Dean B said,

    October 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Good afternoon Doug.

    Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology writes: “The sacraments should never be divorced from the Word, for they have no content of their own, but derive their content from the Word of God; they are in fact, a visible preaching of the Word.”

    I believe you would agree with this statement and recognize the Preaching as the primary means of grace. Arguing from the lesser to the greater now, do you believe all the benefits of baptism are also available to all those who sit under the preaching? Specifically do you think it would be biblical to say everyone who sit under the preaching are united to Christ.

  26. greenbaggins said,

    October 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Peter, I am not arguing in the quotation concerning the FVSCR that it is true just because 95% of the PCA voted for it. That would be a fallacy. I am arguing there about arrogance, since some have accused me of being arrogant for disagreeing with three presbyteries. So your charge of inconsistency fails utterly.

  27. greenbaggins said,

    October 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Roger, why would a presbytery be required to answer to you, even for the sake of good manners? If it were not for this trial, you wouldn”t even have known about it. It is presbytery’s business. I don’t understand what you get out of persecuting me in this manner. You aren’t even in this country, much less in my denomination.

    Concerning this trial that you speak of, who is bringing charges against me? I have the right to face my accuser, rather than vague insinuations on the internet.

  28. Jerry Koerkenmeier said,

    October 16, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Peter,

    You do understand the difference in our polity between actions of the General Assembly and actions of Presbyteries, correct?

    The 2007 GA FV Report is a statement of the PCA from its highest and most representative court (a la the Jerusalem Council).

    The statements and decisions of the MOP, PNWP, and SLP are not.* They are subject to complaint and review by a higher court.

    If they are in conflict, we do well to submit to the decision of the highest and broadest authority, not the lower or more regional. This is even more obvious considering that none of the presbytery decisions cited has yet reached the court of final appeal for a final decision.

    At this time, it is premature to encourage anyone to view the decisions of these presbyteries as if they are final, since they may be overturned.

    BCO 11-4 is especially helpful in understanding the relations between the various church courts in the PCA.

    Jerry

  29. Jack Bradley said,

    October 16, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Regarding baptism, I found this to be a significant statement from the Leithart trial. Will Barker:

    “. . . the very issue that we have with evangelical Baptist forces has forced me to look more carefully at the standards, what they say about baptism. And I realize there’s one term in there I’d often overlooked, that the standards apply to the sacraments in general and specifically to baptism. Sign and it signifies and seals but also exhibits. Now, our 21st century understanding of the English word exhibit is sort of to show. And in 17th century it meant far more than that. It actually meant to convey. And of course they were much more conscious of Latin derivations exhibere take the word inhibere from which we get our English word inhibition, is a holding in. Exhibere actually meant holding out in the sense of conveying or communicating. And if you look at the Irish Articles of 1615, I think it’s article 94, uses the word exhibit and then as a parallel communicate. And in our standards, Westminster Confession 27, paragraphs 3 and 5 use the term exhibit. And then the Larger Catechism 162. So the – – the whole interaction with Jeff Meyers’ views has caused me to examine more carefully what our own standards say as to what happens. There is a sense in which in baptism the sacrament not only signifies and seals but conveys something to the recipient of the sacrament. Now, what is that? Federal Vision folks have their way of understanding that and I’m certainly considering what – – what that really means. And so here it is right in our Westminster reformed tradition that this term is there and – – and reading Bob Letham’s book, which I haven’t completed yet. But I read some of the relevant sections. It’s, it comes across very strong in his account of the debates on baptism at the Westminster Assembly. Some would even use the term baptismal regeneration. But we need to understand that 16th and 17th century used the word regeneration in a broader sense and we tend to use it in American evangelicalism also, as meaning sort of the total aspect of our salvation.”

    I take this testimony to be something of a watershed in the whole FV saga. For someone of Barker’s acumen and stature to recognize the original context and force of the Confession’s language is very significant, especially given that Barker was closely involved in both the Meyers and Leithart trials. In declaring a deeper appreciation of the Confession’s robust view of the sacraments neither Barker, or Leithart, nor Meyers, are buying into anything like the full-blown sacramentalism of someone like Roger du Barry,

  30. Towne said,

    October 16, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Much of that argument depends upon the definition assigned to exhibere.

    I would offer that “convey” is decidedly not the sense of the word; that would be a more active, or perhaps transitive, sense of meaning than is warranted.

    Rather, “display” would be a more accurate gloss.

  31. bsuden said,

    October 16, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    29 Bradley’s and Barker’s surmise is a fail.

    The Leithart FV gloss is that baptism not only exhibits, but also confers/conveys the grace promised to all that receive it.

    Unfortunately the WCF 28:5, 6 states quite clearly the opposite for anybody that bothers to read it.

    . Although it be 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.

    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 belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.

    Yes, we know, the WCF doesn’t actually/literally say “elect” for all the FV fundamentalists out there, but grace is not universal and does not belong to all men or all recipients of baptism whatever the Arminians, Lutherans, Romanists – and now the FV – believe.

    Sorry about that, but things is what they is, the WCF included.
    Nice try though.

  32. Jack Bradley said,

    October 17, 2011 at 12:03 am

    To quote your quote: “by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred”

    How is this the opposite of confers/conveys?

  33. Towne said,

    October 17, 2011 at 12:27 am

    I will note Mr. Suden’s argument as having precedence over my own input here, for he deals directly with the Confession. My own meagre offerings are more an initial stab at the linguistic claim.

    The argument presented to us by Mr. Bradley makes several logical leaps, yet without proof or evidence leading to the conclusion claimed.

    A quick search of several Puritan works in digital edition failed to turn up even one instance of the word “exhibit”.

    Finally I did find the Rev. James Usher (he who was so instrumental in the writing of the Irish Articles) using the word in his translation from the Greek of Philo Carpathius, yet not in such a way as to serve Mr. Leithart’s cause.

    From Volume III of the Works of Rev. James Usher, “An Answer to a Challenge Made by a Jesuit…(1625), page 352:

    “…for, having overthrown the strength of death, thou didst exhibt incorruption to all the dead by thy resurrection.”

    Certainly in this usage, Usher uses the word “exhibit” exactly as we would today, meaning to display or show forth. Were we to embed the word with the sense of “convey” then we would have to conclude that Usher is himself arguing an heretical doctrine there on page 352.

  34. Jack Bradley said,

    October 17, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Barker is referencing Bob Letham’s book, which draws from Chad Van Dixhoorn’s definitive study of the Westminster Assembly. I choose to take Barker as a credible witness of a credible source.

  35. October 17, 2011 at 6:03 am

    What did the Leithart trial reveal about one of the major views of FV theology? It denies the biblical doctrine of the necessity of Christ’s active obedience as presented by Scripture. Now, some FV men speak of the “active obedience” but only in the sense that Christ kept the law perfectly for Himself thereby qualifying to be our redeemer, but this does not mean that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, so they say.

    Norman Shepherd in his lectures in 2003 openly challenged the historic Reformed view of Christ’s active obedience asserting that neither Ursinus (mastermind behind the Heidelberg Catechism) nor Calvin taught the active obedience of Christ in the sense that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.

    The Leithart trial brings out testimony where Leithart does not agree that Christ’s active obedience is imputed to as some kind of necessary requirement in order for us to be redeemed.

    The FV men like to try to appeal to the Reformers, especially Calvin, in an attempt to support their views, but what did Calvin actually say? It is vital to see that Calvin definitively refutes what we know to be FV theology, and clearly advocates the necessity of Christ’s merits, and uses that term.

    Here are some Calvin quotes from his Institutes of the Christian Religion:

    “Therefore, we explain justification simply as the acceptance with which God receives us into his favor as righteous men. And we say that it consists in the remission of sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.”(Book 3, Chapter 11:2) (emphasis mine)
    “From this it is also evident that we are justified before God solely by the intercession of Christ’s righteousness. This is equivalent to saying that man is not righteous in himself but because the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him by imputation—something worth carefully noting.” (Book 3, Chapter 11:23)

    “… what else is this but to lodge our righteousness in Christ’s obedience, because the obedience of Christ is reckoned to us as if it were our own?” (Ibid) (emphasis mine)
    “Therefore Moses, after he had published the law, did not hesitate to call heaven and earth to witness that he had “set before Israel life and death, good and evil [Deuteronomy 30:19]. We cannot gainsay that the reward of eternal salvation awaits complete obedience to the law, as the Lord has promised. On the other hand, it behooves us to examine whether we fulfill that obedience, through whose merit we ought to derive assurance of that reward.” (Book 2, Chapter 7:3) (emphasis mine)
    “Therefore if we look only upon the law, we can only be despondent, confused, and despairing in mind, since from it all of us are condemned and accursed (Galatians 3:10).” (Ibid)

    “I reply: even if the promises of the law, in so far as they are conditional, depend upon perfect obedience to the law — which can nowhere be found — they have not been given in vain… For the Lord then freely bestows all things upon us so as to add to the full measure of his kindness this gift also: that not rejecting our imperfect obedience, but rather supplying what is lacking to complete it, he causes us to receive the benefit of the promises of the law as if we had fulfilled their condition” (Ibid)

    “If we are justified through the works of the law, then Christ died for nothing (Galatians 2:21 p.). From this we infer that we must seek from Christ what the law would give if anyone could fulfill it; or, what is the same thing, that we obtain through Christ’s grace what God promised in the law for our works: “He who will do these things, will live in them (Leviticus 18:5, cf. Comm.). This is no less clearly confirmed in the sermon delivered at Antioch, which asserts that by believing in Christ “we are justified from everything from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39; cf. Vg., ch. 13:38).

    For if righteousness consists in the observance of the law, who will deny that Christ merited favor for us when, by taking that burden upon himself, he reconciled us to God as if we had kept the law? What he afterward taught the Galatians has the same purpose: “God sent forth his Son … subject to the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4-5). What was the purpose of this subjection of Christ to the law but to acquire righteousness for us, undertaking to pay what we could not pay? Hence, that imputation of righteousness without works which Paul discusses (Romans ch. 4). For the righteousness found in Christ alone is reckoned as ours.”
    Concluding Remarks:

    It is clear that Calvin believed that Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us and was essential for our salvation. The Gospel is that Jesus provides us what we cannot personally give God – perfect obedience to the law by Christ alone, and Christ bearing the penalty for our transgression of His law.

    Our salvation depends upon BOTH the active and passive obedience of Christ. FV theology clearly denies the active obedience of Christ in terms of imputation. In its denial, FV theology aligns itself with Rome.
    This is why the church must definitively and once and for all put an end to FV theology – the gospel is indeed at stake.

    If anyone is interested in how FV theology attacks the active obedience of Christ, you can read much, much more in my chapter 4 of my book, “Danger in the Camp” titled “A Denial of Christ’s Active Obedience in Justification.” In this chapter, I discuss fully what the Westminster Standards teach, what the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism teach and how various FV men contradict these Reformed documents.

  36. Sean Gerety said,

    October 17, 2011 at 7:03 am

    @21 Jason Stellman. That’s not entirely true. The SJC did not fault the Siouxlands Pres for exonerating Federal Visionist Josh Moon based on the corrupt and newly applied “Coffin” principle.

  37. Phil Derksen said,

    October 17, 2011 at 8:59 am

    RE: #29-34

    Who better to speak to the issue of authorial intent in this matter than two authors writing at the very time the Standard were being formulated?

    “Our divines hold that the sacraments are appointed of God, and delivered to the church as sealing ordinances—not to give, but to testify what is given—not to make, but to confirm saints. And they not only oppose the Papist’s opus operatum, but they simply deny this instrumentality of the sacraments, that they are appointed of God for working or giving grace where it is not. This is so well known to all who have studied the sacramentarian controversies, that I should not need to prove it. Yet that none may doubt of it, take here some few, instead of many, testimonies.

    “…Protestant writers do not only oppose the opus operatum and the causalitas physica and insita, but they oppose (as is manifest by the testimonies already cited) all causality or working of the first grace of conversion and faith in or by the sacraments, supposing always a man to be a believer and within the covenant of grace before the sacrament, and that he is not made such, nor translated to the state of grace in or by the sacrament”

    (George Gillespe, Aaron’s Rod Blossoming; or, The Divine Ordinance of Church Government Vindicated, [Edinburgh:1844], 229, 233)

    “You will say, peradventure, that Protestant writers hold the sacraments to be, 1. Significant or declarative signs. 2. Obsignative or confirming signs. 3. Exhibitive signs, so that the thing signified is given and exhibited to the soul. I answer, That exhibition which they speak of, is not the giving of grace where it is not (as is manifest by the afore-quoted testimonies), but an exhibition to believers—a real effectual lively application of Christ, and of all his benefits, to everyone that believeth; for the staying, strengthening, confirming, and comforting of the soul…Our divines do not say that the sacraments are exhibitive ordinances, wherein grace is communicated to those who have none of it, to unconverted or unbelieving persons.”

    (Samuel Rutherford, The Due Right of Presbyteries, [London: 1644], 233)

  38. Jack Bradley said,

    October 17, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Pastor Otis,

    There was much discussion of active obedience during the trial, which I would encourage you to read, then this exchange:

    PROSECUTION: For the record, may I just say something?
    MODERATOR: Are you – – Well let me- – are you done with your line of questions?
    DEFENSE: If the prosecutor has a problem with that last question, feel free to strike it.
    PROSECUTION: Okay, I just want to let the record show that – – that nowhere has the prosecution faulted Dr. Leithart for quote unquote denying the imputation of the active obedience of Christ.
    MODERATOR: Okay. So noted.
    DEFENSE: We would love that noted.
    MODERATOR: It was just noted. It’s – – it’s in the record.

    http://pnwp.org/images/resources/final-leithart-trial-transcript.pdf p. 295

  39. October 17, 2011 at 9:24 am

    The importance of what Phil Derksen has pointed out about Gillespie and Rutherford is that they were two of the Scottish delegation to the Westminster Assembly meaning that in the formulation of the sections on the sacraments we do get an understanding of what the Westminster Confession actually means regarding baptism. The quotes that Phil has mentioned is consistent with the sections on baptism in the Confession.

    The FV adherents cannot take the same words of the Confession and add differing content to it. But, this is exactly the modus operandi of the FV proponents.

  40. bsuden said,

    October 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

    34. What does the WCF28:6 say, Jack?
    Baptism instrumentally confers grace to the elect.
    What does the FV say?
    Baptism confers grace to all who receive it.

    Barker (and Bradley) fail to confer with the primary source, regardless if Barker refers to Letham who refers to D.F. Wright or not.

    My surmise is that you have not read the WCF, Letham or Wright, never mind Van Dixhoorn.

    And while I could be wrong, the FV never is confused, mistaken or in error, right?

    Or IOW the WCF is not a credible witness.

    Thanks for sharing.

  41. Dean B said,

    October 17, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Good morning bsuden.

    Your zeal for the truth is not mixed with love. As long as it is not mixed with love your efforts to protect truth will be unhelpful if not counterproductive.

  42. Cris Dickason said,

    October 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    RE # 29, 34, 39 (Barker’s views and even those of Gillespie and Rutherford) and the general expressions with respect to the Westminster Standards in these debates, based on the work of Letham and especially Chad Van Dixhorn.

    We sideline Presbyterian officers (elders and deacons, OPC, PCA, RPCNA, et al.) subscribe to the Westminster Standards (WCF, LC, SC).

    We do not subscribe to the opinions of individual divines of the Westminster Assembly.

    We subscribe to the Westminster Standards.

    We do not subscribe to the range of views discussed or debated by the assembled divines.

    We subscribe to the Westminster Standards.

    We do not subscribe honestly or honorably if we mentally “cross our fingers” at chapter this, or Q/A that. We do not subscribe honestly or honorably if we hold to an internal interpretation of the Standards that is individualistic, or self-consciously at odds with the plain and received sense of the Standards. We do not subscribe honestly or honorably if we have a disagreement with the meaning of the Standards and keep silent about it, and fail to discuss it with the Candidates & Credentials or other interviewing committees and do not state it on the floor of Presbytery (or session in case of ruling elders and deacons).

    Further, ordination in a confessional church means that we continue to subscribe to the Standards throughout our ministry (or “career”). Subscription to the Standards is not merely an entrance requirement. Should one’s views of a theological matter covered by the Standards and the ordination vows change, even for the best reasons and by the most honorable of methods, such that you can no longer subscribe to the Standards at some given doctrine, one is honor bound to inform and discuss this with your session or Presbytery. For both the ruling elder and the teaching elder, sincere (or otherwise) subscription is not just an entry-fee into office, such that once you’re in the club, you can set that commitment aside, and continue to enjoy the benefits of the member or insider.

    We subscribe to the Westminster Standards. And in subscribing to the Standards, we are submitting to the Scriptures, what we believe the Word of God to teach concerning important matters, matters of common concern to our fellow officers and the people God has entrusted to us to shepherd with and by that Word.

    -=Cris=-
    (RE in the OPC)

  43. Phil Derksen said,

    October 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks, Rev. Otis, for your correct clarification of my earlier remarks. I was in a bit of a rush when I posted them. Now that I have more time, I would like to make a few additional points.

    First, someone mentioned James Ussher’s writings in this context. Here’s something quite apropos that he said:

    “…There is a general grace of baptism which all the baptized partake of as of a common favor, and that is their admission into the visible body of the church, their matriculation and outward incorporating into the number of the worshippers of God by external communion…And God thereby seals a right upon the party baptized to his ordinances, that he may use them as his privileges, and wait for an inward blessing by them. Yet this is but the porch, the shell and outside: and all that are outwardly received into the visible church are not spiritually ingrafted into the mystical body of Christ.”

    (A Body of Divinity: or The Sum and Substance of Christian Religion, [London: 1841], 500)

    Here Ussher makes clear his belief that not all who receive baptism enjoy true union with Christ.

    I am regularly amazed at how much time and ink is spent by the FV and friends (unwittingly or otherwise) trying to circumvent the plain and simple meaning of the foundational maxim of sola fide. EVERYTHING must be read in light of this imperative truth. It is a non-negotiable tenet of Reformed/biblical theology, and as such may have sometimes gone without specific reiteration by the reformers in certain of their discussions. But this by no means negates it, Rather, it shows the extent to which it was simply taken for granted – or granite :) .

    Moreover, the Westminster divines did in fact specify how this issue applies to the sacraments (plural) in the Shorter Catechism (which was formulated to teach the most elemental of truths to little children), and even emphasized it by repeating it twice (via the underlying qualifications of “by faith” and “to believers”).

    WSC Q. 91. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation? A. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.

    WSC Q. 92. What is a sacrament? A. A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.

    And this is where the divines’ exposition on baptism really begins. Nothing they wrote elsewhere contradicts this inviolable starting point. I must say that am utterly astonished at how often these basic articles of the Standards are simply passed over in discussions like this (by those on both sides, quite frankly). The increasing regularity with which their denial is taught or accommodated among our presbyters is absolutely heartbreaking.

  44. Jack Bradley said,

    October 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks, Cris. I hope Barker, Van Dix Hoorn, Letham, Collins, et al, note this and let their presbyterys know they will never again seek to better understand the context and original intent of the divines.

  45. Cris Dickason said,

    October 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Jack @ 44 – It is good and appropriate to seek to further our understanding of the people and events of the Westminster Assembly, but in the end, we don’t subscribe to the historical process, nor do we subscribe to the understanding of certain persons in the Assembly.

    Since some points (many, all) were debated and various views were present through various members of the Assembly, I am not sure we have clear original intent of the divines on any given point where someone raises a question. We have the completed and received documents. They are certainly capable of standing on their own in a normal, basic sense. The Westminster Standards are not so obscure as to require one to know the gamut of persons and opinions present at any given moment in the process of drafting the standards. That is just silly (with due respect).

    I am pretty sure that Dr. Van Dixhorn’s work was not meant to be some kind of meta-confessional standard. In fact, I’ll ask him.

    -=Cris=-

  46. October 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    The question was asked of me earlier if I had read the responses of Leithart during his trial on imputation. The answer is: yes, I have. However, what matters is what Leithart means by “active obedience of Christ.”
    As Sean Gerety has ably pointed out in some of his writings is that Leithart does not believe in the active obedience as understood by the Reformers and by the Westminster Standards.
    The FV men are notorious for inserting new content into old words, giving the impression they are Confessional when they are far from it.
    Wilkins, Doug Wilson, and Rich Lusk do not understand active obedience as they should. In a section in my book, I have this information about Rich Lusk that is crucial. For his understanding of active obedience is what the FV men believe, i.e. Leithart.
    Here are the relevant direct quotes from Rich Lusk:
    Those who advocate a meritorious covenant of works put a great deal of weight on the so-called “active obedience” of Christ. I remember hearing sermons in which I was told “Jesus’ thirty-three years of law-keeping are your righteousness. They were credited to you! He kept the law, the covenant of works, on your behalf!” Similarly, but more formally, Dr. Smith writes, “It is Christ’s active fulfillment of the law that becomes the ground of our acceptance with God. It is this righteousness that is imputed to us”
    Several things need to be said about this sort of theologizing. First, there is no question the perfect obedience of Jesus played a vital role in his salvific work on our behalf. If he had sinned, he would have fallen under God’s wrath and curse just like us, and wouldn’t have been be able to rescue us. If he hadn’t obeyed perfectly, he could not have been the spotless Lamb of God who went to the cross in fulfillment of the entire sacrificial system. So his active obedience is necessary to guarantee the efficacy and worth of his death and to guarantee his resurrection on the other side.

    But the notion of his thirty-three years of Torah-keeping being imputed to me is problematic. After all, as a Gentile, I was never under Torah and therefore never under obligation to keep many of the commands Jesus performed. Moreover, much of what Jesus did was, in the nature of the case, not required of others. Surely God does not require everyone to work as a carpenter or to turn water into wine or to raise a twelve year old girl from the dead.

    Lusk goes on to describe what he really understands imputation to mean. In his footnote 59, Lusk makes this comment:

    That there is a double imputation of our sins to Jesus and His glory to us is certainly beyond question, and I am not disagreeing with the general doctrine of imputation, or of double imputation. But merit theology often assumes that Jesus’ earthly works and merits are somehow given to us, and there is no foundation for this notion.

    The New Testament is clear throughout that what is given to the saints is the Spirit, who comes from the glorified Jesus. It is not Jesus’ earthly life and “works and merits” that are transferred to us, but His glorified and resurrected life in the Spirit that is transferred to us. There seems to be nothing in the Bible to imply that we receive Jesus’ earthly life and then also His death. His earthly life was “for us” in the sense that it was the precondition for His death, but it is not given “to us.” What we receive is not His earthly life and His death, but His death and His glorified life. What we receive is not Jesus’ merits, but His maturity, His glorification. (Emphasis Lusk)

    As one can see, this is not the traditional Reformed (biblical) understanding of Christ’s active obedience. It is not what John Calvin clearly taught.

    So, in a heresy trial, a man can say he believes in “the active obedience of Christ” but what matters is exactly what he means.

    Unfortunately, this is how the FV are escaping in some presbyteries, which is why the General Assembly needs to step in.

  47. Cris Dickason said,

    October 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Arghh! My apologies publicly for misspelling Dr. Van Dixhoorn’s last name!

    No excuse from someone with no “h” and that odd “a” in my surname.

    Blushing,

    Cris Dickason

  48. Peter Green said,

    October 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Rev. Keister, the salient point is that anti-FVers consistently point to the majority when it favors them and consistently point to the fact that the truth is not determined by majority. This is your blog. I know that you have seen this theme come up countless times here. I’m just one of the first to point it out.

    Jerry Koerkenmeier,

    I am well aware of the differences between GA and Presbyteries. The FVSCR is *not binding*. It is advice for presbyteries to consider–nothing more. In that regard, it is not *at all* like the Jerusalem Council. On the other hand presbytery decisions *are binding* (unless appealed to by a higher court). When the GA-level SJC makes a decision then you can draw an analogy to the Jerusalem Council.

  49. Hugh McCann said,

    October 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Keister contra mundum.

    Keep sluggin’ for & with the Scriptures!

  50. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    October 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Building on the exchange between Peter Green and Jerry Koerkenmeier: It’s important to point out that there’s a big difference between exactly what is being addressed in the NPP/FVSCR and the Presbytery decisions. The NPP/FVSCR was directed against *positions* which GA has determined are not confessional. The Presbyteries now have the responsibility of determining whether or not certain *persons* actually hold those positions. PCA Presbyteries ought not and cannot simply disregard the NPP/FVSCR. However, they also ought not and cannot simply assume that, just because certain persons are widely purported on places like blogs to hold the exact positions denounced in the NPP/FVSCR, they do in fact hold them. Hence the process of a Presbytery-level trial, the purpose of which is to determine whether or not a particular *person* holds an abberant view.

    So, it is actually the case that both the NPP/FVSCR and the Presbytery determinations hold ecclesial authority. And it is not *necessarily* the case that just because a whole lot of people think P. Leithart holds some of the exact positions denounced in the NPP/FVSCR and the PNW presbytery exonerated him, that the PNW presbytery acted out of line in its decision. One might disagree with their assessment (I personally haven’t read enough of Leithart to be sure one way or another), but in reading the reasons for their determination in this case, it seems to me that they don’t think Dr. Leithart actually holds the positions denounced in the NPP/FVSCR. Thus, blanket statements to the effect that PNW is a “rogue” presbytery would seem unwarranted.

  51. Jack Bradley said,

    October 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Pastor Otis: So, in a heresy trial, a man can say he believes in “the active obedience of Christ” but what matters is exactly what he means.

    DEFENSE: The third charge is that Dr. Leithart rejects the imputation of Christ’s righteousness insofar as Dr. Leithart frequently uses the term in its accepted sense and insofar as in his brief the prosecutor explicitly charges him with the failure to confess the imputation of Christ’s active obedience “the right action or conduct of Christ” and “the merit of Christ’s righteous conduct” WHICH IS NOT A STIPULATION OF THE CONFESSION OR THE CATECHISMS. This charge is utterly without merit. Because Dr. Leithart does not accept in traditional terms, the imputation of the active obedience of Christ notwithstanding that THE STANDARDS DO NOT REQUIRE THIS OF HIM. The prosecutor alleges that he does not believe that sinners – – sinners are credited with any positive righteousness. Positive righteousness is another term neither employed in the standards, nor commonly in the reformed authorities. We assume once again that it refers to the imputation of active obedience. But on the contrary, Dr. Leithart emphatically confesses that believers are credited with the righteousness of Christ.
    (EMPHASES MINE)

    . . . PROSECUTION: Okay, I just want to let the record show that – – that nowhere has the prosecution faulted Dr. Leithart for quote unquote denying the imputation of the active obedience of Christ.

  52. todd said,

    October 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    “This charge is utterly without merit.”

    No pun intended

  53. Jerry Koerkenmeier said,

    October 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Peter,

    Upon whom are the decisions of Presbyteries “binding”? Do they bind the rest of the church, or only the parties involved? The issue is not what is binding. Even SJC decisions are not “binding” on anyone but the parties involved in the case.

    The GA has power to “bear testimony against error in doctrine and immorality in practice, injuriously affecting the Church”. This is precisely what happened in Acts 15, and precisely what happened with the GA FV Report.

  54. michael said,

    October 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Pastor Otis,

    I want to thank you for what you are bringing into this conversation. It is focusing me on the issues. It is enlightening.

    Can you succinctly state what the error of the Federal Vision is, as you understand it, that has caused such disruptions these many years among several Presbyteries?

  55. October 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    To answer Jack’s question, “Pastor Otis: So, in a heresy trial, a man can say he believes in “the active obedience of Christ” but what matters is exactly what he means.”
    Yes, it is what a man actually believes, that is, what content he is importing into various theological concepts such as the “active obedience of Christ.” Heretics are notorious for utilizing confusing language, and inserting foreign content to words.
    I just showed in my lengthy quote dealing with Rich Lusk that he uses the term “active obedience” but it is not the historic, biblical use of it. The quotes I gave from Calvin are not what Rich Lusk believes, and it is not what Leithart believes either.
    If that is all that was asked of Leithart at the trial perhaps more should have been asked, but I am not in the position to know that for sure. But, what is important is whether a man during a heresy trial renounces anything he has written. If not, then what he has previously written would be considered still his views.
    For example, the following Leithart quote is damaging:
    By union with Christ, that verdict [which Christ received at his resurrection] is also passed on us. In this construction, there is no “independent” imputation of the active obedience of Christ, nor even of the passive obedience for that matter; we are regarded as righteous, and Christ’s righteousness is reckoned as ours, because of our union with Him in His resurrection. What is imputed is the verdict, not the actions of Jesus, and this is possible and just because Christ is our covenant head acting on our behalf.
    This quote demonstrates that Leithart is arguing just like Rich Lusk did in the quote I gave earlier.
    Leithart during his trial did not like the use of “merit” being used to refer to Christ’s imputation of righteousness. But this is what Larger Catechism question 70 says: Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.

    It will be interesting if the General Assembly hears the complaint being brought to it over the Leithart exoneration if Leithart escapes when the 2007 report on the FV was clear.

  56. Jack Bradley said,

    October 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    “What is imputed is the verdict, not the actions of Jesus, and this is possible and just because Christ is our covenant head acting on our behalf.”

    You may disagree with this, but the prosecution, and the presbytery, apparently found it within the bounds of the Westminster Standards.

  57. David Gadbois said,

    October 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    OK, Jack, then that would simply give us reason to call into question the basic reading comprehension and logical faculties of the men in the presbytery who voted that way. This shouldn’t have even been a close call:

    by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them -WCF

    is not compatible with

    What is imputed is the verdict, not the actions of Jesus -Leithart

  58. michael said,

    October 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    David G.

    Are you an ordained Minister or Pastor?

  59. David Gadbois said,

    October 17, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I’m just a layman member of a United Reformed Church, an aerospace engineer by profession, who happens to have little patience for ministers in NAPARC churches who abet, defend, and exhonerate Federal Vision proponents within their jurisdictions, failing in their duties to protect the flock and refute serious errors and heresies.

  60. greenbaggins said,

    October 17, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Nice try, Peter. You are trying to squirm out of my rebuttal by saying that you were only pointing out a general problem. But go back and look at your post. You were accusing ME of such inconsistency. I was pointing out that your accusation of inconsistency was incorrect, since the reference in my statement to the FVSCR had to do with arrogance, not with its truth value. Are you planning on acknowledging that you were incorrect in accusing me personally?

  61. Peter Green said,

    October 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Rev. Keister, if you had paid attention to my pronouns, you would have noticed that I was in fact pointing out a general problem from the beginning.

    “Are you planning on acknowledging that you were incorrect in accusing me personally?”

    Where did I accuse you? Or would it be appropriate for me to ask you if you are going to acknowledge that you were incorrect in accusing me personally (of accusing you)?

    You still haven’t interacted with my original point which I simplified and clarified. But that’s OK.

  62. greenbaggins said,

    October 17, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Peter, you quoted MY words as an example of inconsistency. How in the world is that not an accusation directed at me personally, even if you also include the entire anti-FV crowd? If I had quoted your words directly, and then said, “Is this all the consistency we can expect from pro-FV folks,” would you say that I had accused you of being inconsistent? I would say you would have every right to interpret that as saying that you were inconsistent. Stop being obtuse, Peter.

    And since you have provided no other examples of this phenomenon, I am only interacting with the one you provided. It is impossible to interact with a vague generality directed at a whole class of people, except to disagree with it, which I do. Point to specific examples, and then we can talk.

  63. Peter Green said,

    October 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Rev. Keister,

    You are right that I quoted your words as an example of the general truth I thought they illustrated, namely that the anti-FV crowd consistently appeals to the FVSCR and the “95%” acceptance as if that somehow should settle the issue. I stand by my original statement.

    You wrote,

    “Furthermore, truth is not determined by the majority. It doesn’t matter how many people say something, that doesn’t make it true.”

    and…

    “And, speaking of arrogance, who is more arrogant: a blogger who agrees with the 2007 GA FV report, which was approved by about 95% of the PCA? Or three Presbyteries which are, in my opinion, now thumbing their noses at the GA?”

    First of all, you have “accused” three presbyteries of “thumbing their noses at GA”.

    Second, you make the argument that they are more arrogant that you are because of the fact that they are disagreeing with more people and you are. How is this not counting noses? Perhaps it is not one-for-one equivalent to believing that truth is determined by the majority (who actually believes that, BTW, speaking of vague and general statements), but the underlying principle is consistent–that is, appeal to the majority when it is politically expedient and appeal to the fact that the majority does not determine truth when it is politically expedient. For other examples, do a word search on your blog for “NAPARC”. Many (most? all?) of the hits will be comments by people noting that all the denominations have condemned FVism (again speaking of vague generalities…), as if that were pertinent. But I trust you will want to defend these appeals.

  64. Jack Bradley said,

    October 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    David,

    I take your words very seriously. It is indeed the duty of ministers and elders to, as you put it, protect the flock and refute serious errors and heresies. I know that the ministers and elders of the PNWP also take this duty with utmost seriousness. If they believed that the category: active obedience of Christ, was a sine qua non of salvation, and its denial a heresy, Leithart would certainly have been convicted of at least being out of accord with the Westminster Standards.

    Without attempting an exhaustive defense of Leithart, allow me to cite a respected reformed scholar, and then some testimony from Leithart from the trial:

    John Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, pg. 346:

    “There are legitimate questions about whether the New Testament uses specific language of imputation in regard to Christ’s active righteousness. But, however those questions come out, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us is certainly implicit in the imputation of our sin to him. . . If our sin is placed on Christ, so that we are thenceforth in Christ (as the New Testament pervasively emphasizes), then we are righteous for his sake. God holds nothing more against us. People not charged with sin are righteous people. There is no such thing as ethical neutrality. Every human act or attitude, every human person, is either righteous or unrighteous. In Christ, then, we are not ethically neutral but positively righteous and therefore fit for heaven. But we are righteous only in Christ, not in ourselves. That point is obviously biblical, and it seems to me that it is equivalent to a doctrine of imputed active righteousness.”

    As I read him, this is what Leithart is, in essence saying:

    Q: Do you believe that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us?
    A: . . . Paul talks about imputation. The sac – – sacrificial system depended on an idea of imputation. I think imputation is a biblical concept.

    . . . Q: Do you believe that Christ’s active obedience is imputed to us?
    A: I believe that Christ had to obey perfectly. His active obedience is essential to our salvation. Whether or not it’s we should think – – I don’t think certain constructions of the imputation of active obedience are correct. The kind that Dr. Horton again represented this morning, where it’s understood as a works principle that Jesus was earning favor and by – – by means of a works principle was able to – – that that fulfillment of the law is imputed to us.

    . . . Jesus is raised from the dead as a declaration to the world that this is the righteous son of the Father. And that we particip- – we participate by faith and that verdict that God has pronounced in the resurrection. That is, that verdict is based on the perfect obedience of Jesus, the active obedience of Jesus. It’s based on the fact that he went to the cross and passively obeyed. But what I suggested is that the verdict is based on those realities, based on those actions of Jesus is what we share in by union with Christ. . . I’ve affirmed that sinners are positively righteous before God by union with Christ and imputation that is grounded in that union with Christ.

  65. bsuden said,

    October 17, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    41 Come on Dean B, what’s with the love card?
    This whole thing is so ridiculous it is pathetic.

    The reformed faith teaches that the sacraments are a means of grace to the elect.
    The FV teaches that the sacraments are a means of grace to all.
    End of story, at least on that point.

    And note bene, Mr. Bradley does not respond.
    Why?
    Because he can’t.

    It doesn’t get any more obvious than this.
    The FV are making Hans Christian Anderson look like a piker.

  66. bsuden said,

    October 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    44 Mr. Bradley,
    We’re still waiting for your response to what the WCF plainly says regarding the efficacy of baptism.
    Does it apply only to the elect/believers or to all who receive it?
    (Hint, the first is the confessional position, the second, the FV.)
    Please don’t keep us waiting in suspense.

  67. Hugh McCann said,

    October 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Re: Rayburn’s reference to Mike Horton; here is Horton at the popular level on baptism:

    The Bible doesn’t beat around the bush here. Whatever baptism accomplishes, the sign and seal (water and the Word) are [inseparably*] linked to the reality (washing of regeneration) itself (Titus 3:5). John the Baptist’s baptism was was still an Old Testament ritual washing. The Jews had many such washings, usually rituals of rededication after lapses. The Baptist informed his converts, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). In other words, the Coming One will do more than offer rededication ceremonies. He will actually unite believers to Himself through the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, this new baptism will need no repetition; the Holy Spirit himself will be given in this baptism. But he will also baptize with fire. This refers, of course, to judgment, as the next verse makes clear: “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Thus, there are, as it were, two fonts — the font of salvation and the font of damnation. Christian baptism, when joined by the Word and faith, assures us that our baptism will be of the former type.

    Baptism is, in effect, a “sprinkling by his [Christ's] blood” (1 Peter 1:2). “God. . . made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6). The apostle Paul further described this New Testament rite: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?. . . in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too may live new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” (Rom. 6: 3-5). In other words, Christ was baptized with God’s wrath so that we could be baptized with God’s grace. In baptism we are identified with Christ and united to him. He as truly saves us from God’s wrath as Moses saved the Israelites while condemning the Egyptians in the Red Sea.

    The apostle Peter compared baptism to Noah’s ark: “In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand — with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” 1 Peter 3:20-22.

    And the apostle Paul compares [compared*] baptism in Christ to the Isarelites’ wilderness experience when “They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:2). That cloud was the presence of God following and guiding the children of Israel (Exod. 33:8-11) and the sea, of course, was the Red Sea. Baptism for the apostles, then, was the descent of the indwelling presence of God and the “proof of purchase,” guaranteeing that we have already escaped the raging waters of divine wrath. While there are, of course, exceptions (for instance, the thief on the cross), the general rule is “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

    If we refuse baptism, we are refusing the promise God makes and seals to us and to our children. While we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, it is impossible to separate baptism and salvation, as though we can have gift, but refuse the box in which it comes. We are justified by grace alone through faith alone; baptism nevertheless promises the new life of the convert or child of the believer and attests to the fact that God has come to nurture us even in our earliest days.

    Putting Amzing Back into Grace, 2011 ed., pp 198ff.
    * From the 2005 ed. (pp 188f)

  68. Hugh McCann said,

    October 17, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Note: All typos in above cite from Horton are MY errors.
    Hugh

  69. Jack Bradley said,

    October 17, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    bsuden,

    I well understand the standard interpretations re: baptism and the elect.
    But your question as to whom baptism applies is too general to answer to your satisfaction or my time allotment. I would again encourage you to read the trial transcripts and documents.

  70. Hugh McCann said,

    October 17, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Speaking of typos, someone’s having way too much fun:

    “Lincoln Duncan, Rick Phyllis, Joe Pypa.” :)

  71. David Gadbois said,

    October 17, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Jack, you said If they believed that the category: active obedience of Christ, was a sine qua non of salvation, and its denial a heresy, Leithart would certainly have been convicted of at least being out of accord with the Westminster Standards.

    I don’t think anyone here would say that it is a damnable heresy, implying that belief in the imputation is essential to saving faith, but it is an error or lower-case “h” heresy in that it is against the Westminster Standards and thus grounds for defrocking in the PCA.

    Please note, that if only Christ’s verdict is imputed to us, and “not the actions of Jesus”, then the imputation of Christ’s passive obedience is also excluded along with His active obedience.

    I do realize that in presbyterian circles some exceptions to the Standards are permitted, but this is only in the case of areas not striking at the vitals of religion. Surely nothing in WCF 11 on justification can be considered as non-vital – we aren’t talking about recreation on the Sabbath or female deacons here. Those who hold to errors of this magnitude might still be considered to be brothers in Christ in some cases, but surely they are not fit for the pulpit in PCA churches.

    Leithart said: And that we particip- – we participate by faith and that verdict that God has pronounced in the resurrection. That is, that verdict is based on the perfect obedience of Jesus, the active obedience of Jesus.

    This is just more of the same, and confirms the fact that when Leithart speaks of imputation he is speaking about a transfer of verdict, not a transfer of obedience or righteousness.

  72. Jack Bradley said,

    October 18, 2011 at 12:06 am

    “if only Christ’s verdict is imputed to us, and “not the actions of Jesus”, then the imputation of Christ’s passive obedience is also excluded along with His active obedience.”

    This is your reading of Leithart, David. I do not think it is a fair reading.

    I would like to think you would give the trial transcripts and documents on this subject a fair reading. Until then, I’m sure that I will not be able to convince you.

  73. curate said,

    October 18, 2011 at 12:33 am

    “The FV teaches that the sacraments are a means of grace to all.”

    I have read Dr. Leithart’s defence, and he repeatedly says that he is speaking of “our own children”, not the “shell of an unbelieving Anglican parish”. Seems that he is making a distinction between the children of believers and the children of unbelievers.

    Reed says that I am not FV, just a sympathiser, but however you take it, I personally have always insisted that faith, even implicit infant faith, is necessary for the sacraments to be effective.

    I do not know of anyone who takes a different line.

  74. bsuden said,

    October 18, 2011 at 12:39 am

    72 Yo Jack (sorry to bother you). We’re ahem, still waiting for your fair reading of the WCF on baptism.

    OK, I get it. It’s not going to happen. You got bigger fish to fry. Move along, nothing to see here.

    But then how are you going to convince us that
    1. You are a credible witness for the FV?
    2. The FV is a credible witness for orthodoxy?

    Oops.
    Strike #1. You got that one covered.
    But #2, that’s a different story.
    Oh, never mind.

    (And yeah, Dean B., I’m still steamed. Note the reference above to the reformed theologian, one John Frame in 64. This is the same gentleman who led the charge on the reformed principle of worship beginning in the ’90’s.

    But why would I bring that up? Because most of those who are now the FV principals followed John’s lead in distorting the confessional RPW in order to substitute something else in its place. [To his credit JF has not come out in favor of the FV. But neither has he come out agin it. Go figure.]

    Before they moved onto bigger things like mischaracterizing the reformed view of the sacraments or the A&P imputation of Christ or JBFA with the FV.

    IOW these guys got an MO and a history and it would behoove those who really oppose the FV to get up to speed and realize what the charade is all about.

    The FV essentially hate the WCF and they do what they can to distort, take out of context or distract one from reading it.

    Just saying, friend. If you want to call it hate, go right ahead. But I already know who the real haters are.

    Thank you very much.)

  75. bsuden said,

    October 18, 2011 at 12:52 am

    73 curate.

    If the reformed faith teaches that the sacraments are means of grace only to the elect/believers and infant baptism is only administered to the families of believers, umm …. what is the logical/reasonable conclusion?
    Is baptism grace to all the infant seed of believers?

    You may not be FV, but you defend it and you seem to be pretty much half way there already – if you are reading what is posted – in that anglicanism subscribes to a ritualist view of the sacrament as opposed to the roman, or even reformed view.

    How else would one explain pressing charges against Bilbo at presbytery like you did on the basis that he was out of line with the confession? What a hoot.
    (Oops again. Starting to redline the hate-o-meter.)
    Never mind.

  76. David Gadbois said,

    October 18, 2011 at 12:54 am

    This is your reading of Leithart, David. I do not think it is a fair reading.

    Leithart is a smart fellow, if he believed in the imputation of Christ’s active obedience, he would have just said so when he was asked point blank in that instance. Instead we get the same hemming and hawing and talk about a transfer of Christ’s verdict via union. Yes, we also get the same affirmation that Christ’s active obedience was a necessary pre-condition, but no one in the history of Christendom has denied this. That does not answer the question.

    So we have only two logical options to explain this – either Leithart doesn’t believe in the active obedience of Christ or he somehow lacks the ability to clearly express an affirmation and articulation of this doctrine even when directly pressed on the issue. In either case, surely the bar for PCA ministers should be quite a bit higher, wouldn’t you think?

  77. Jack Bradley said,

    October 18, 2011 at 1:16 am

    bsuden, did you see #69?

  78. curate said,

    October 18, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Dr. Leithart clearly does not believe in the “imputation of active obedience”. I did not find any hedging on that answer. He got to the point, and made it. His argument is that the WCF does not require it.

  79. curate said,

    October 18, 2011 at 3:15 am

    David, your 3FU does teach it. WCF doesn’t, indeed, avoids taking a position on it.

    Why would you require people in a WCF denomination to subscribe to it?

  80. Reed Here said,

    October 18, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Roger, 73: yellow flag there! I did not call you anything, You’ve characterized yourself. If I remember correctly you made it clear that you were not FV, in that you were not in the circles of the men developing these expressions. Instead, you came to the same/similar conclusions all on your own.

    Call yourself what you want to Roger. Sympathizer, fellow traveler, whatever. Please refrain from using my name in that regard.

  81. Dean B said,

    October 18, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Pastor Roger

    “Reed says that I am not FV, just a sympathiser, but however you take it, I personally have always insisted that faith, even implicit infant faith, is necessary for the sacraments to be effective.”

    Do you believe each infants who receive the sign and seal of baptism already possess faith like Luther’s idea of incipient faith?

  82. curate said,

    October 18, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Dean B, no.

    Reed, I differ from some FVers regarding a reluctance to insist upon an absolute grace/law distinction in justification.

    I differ from those on your side who try to extend this distinction to the New Covenant as a whole, and, indeed to the Mosaic Covenant.

    Reading Turretin on Moses yesterday, he makes the point that even the legal covenant is an outworking of the covenant of grace, its works aspects notwhithstanding.

  83. October 18, 2011 at 8:35 am

    I would like to respond to David’s comment # 71. I would say that denying imputation as the Bible presents and as our Westminster Standards teach is indeed a damnable heresy. Making justification in any sort dependent upon “my works” thinking I don’t need Jesus’ righteousness imputed to me is a denial of the gospel.

    R.C. Sproul made a comment on the floor of the 2007 PCA General Assembly that the gospel was at stake in this whole debate on the Federal Vision. I and others totally concur.

    The chapter on justification in the WCF and several Larger Catechism answers make it clear that we need the imputed righteousness of Christ (His merits) and the term “merit” is used in our Standards with reference to what Jesus has done for the elect.

    John Calvin in his Institutes is clear of the necessity of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness for our salvation. The Judaizers of Paul’s day struck at the heart of the gospel which is why Paul in Galatians 1:8 says they are “anathema.”

    The Federal Vision refers to “faith” as “covenantal faithfulness.” Believing that somehow being in union with Jesus enables us by the Spirit to obey the law in order to be justified is heretical.

    Our Westminster Standards make it very clear of the necessity of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. The old term was the necessity for “alien righteousness” meaning outside of ourselves. WCF chapters 11 and 17 are important. Question 55 of the LQ speaks of the “merit” of Christ’s obedience and sacrifice on earth. LQ 70 is very clear in speaking of “the perfect obedience” AND full satisfaction of Christ. Hence, to be saved we need BOTH the active and passive obedience of Christ. LQ 71 refers to the Son “imputing his righteousness to them.”

    How one answers about the “active obedience of Christ” is vital to the gospel. A view that the active obedience is necessary only for Jesus to be worthy to be the sacrificial lamb Himself, but that this righteousness is not imputed or credited to us is totally unacceptable.

    Norman Shepherd made it clear in his terrible book, “Call of Grace” by saying, “Abraham had to keep covenant with the Lord, as did his descendants to whom the promises were also made. The preeminent covenant keeper is Jesus Christ. He is the seed of Abraham, “obedient to death – even death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). As the covenant is kept, according to the pattern of Jesus Christ, the promises of the covenant are fulfilled (p.75)”

    This comment is horrendous and typical of Federal Vision theology. The heresy is that we have the ability by the Spirit to follow Jesus’ pattern for our justification.

  84. October 18, 2011 at 9:00 am

    The incredible thing among FV adherents is their wanting to distance themselves from any notion of “merit.” They refuse to speak of the “merit” of Christ being credited to us received by faith alone.

    The reality is that in redefining “faith” as “the obedience of faith” meaning “covenantal faithfulness” they have reintroduced their own form of “merit” – THEIR OWN!!!

    This is why I have said numerous times that Norman Shepherd’s book, “Call of Grace” has nothing to do with biblical grace. The title is misleading, and I believe “deceitful.” For those who have read Shepherd’s book, you will find an uncanny similarity in terminology and argumentation with many FV men. Remember, Shepherd was suppose to have been at the 2002 Auburn Avenue Pastor’s Conference but had to withdraw. It was here where the bombshell was dropped on the Reformed community.

  85. jeff2552 said,

    October 18, 2011 at 9:09 am

    David G (#71): …speaks of imputation he is speaking about a transfer of verdict, not a transfer of obedience or righteousness.

    I’m not familiar with this distinction. What do you have in mind?

  86. Jack Bradley said,

    October 18, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Pastor Otis,

    Dr. Sproul’s opinion notwithstanding, I think “heretical” it will be a tough sell given that “active obedience” is not found anywhere in the standards.

    As I quoted him above, Leithart is on well record: “His active obedience is essential to our salvation.”

    And this from Robert Letham, at the trial:

    “Dr. Leithart replied, and I think you probably already seen his words, ‘I heartily affirm that Abraham was justified apart from works and before circumcision. And I heartily agree that sinners are justified when we receive Christ in his righteousness by faith alone. I completely agree and have always taught that our justification is not based on anything wrought in us or so done by us but only on the work of Christ and our union with him in his death and resurrection. I affirm that justification is only by faith.’ In my estimation that’s goes to really the heart of this question.”

    Does it give you any pause whatever to know that Letham, Collins and Barker all unequivocally said at the trial that Leithart is within the bounds of the Westminster Confession?

  87. October 18, 2011 at 9:42 am

    When Leithart speaks of those who actually receive “benefits of saving grace” such as forgiveness of sins but who can apostatize, failing to receive “final justification” he is not only showing himself to be clearly Arminian at this point, but raises issues as to his fundamental understanding of justification.

    The FV men consistently use terms as “initial justification” and “final justification.” There is not one place in the Reformed Confessions of distinguishing justification in this way. Some FV men refer to a progressive nature of justification. In doing so, they demonstrate they do not understand justification. Rich Lusk likes to talk about the “fluidity of justification.” There is no such thing as a fluidity where one can be “initially justified” but not “finally justified.”

    The FV distinction of forms of justification is a TOTAL necessity because they believe faith means “covenantal obedience.” Here are some of the horrendous and heretical statements of Rich Lusk, who by the way, was invited to speak at Doug Wilson’s church on of all things, justification.

    Lusk statements: “The law simply did not require perfect obedience.” (Rich Lusk, Future Justification To The Doers Of The Law). “If one sinned, one did not automatically become a “law breaker,” except in a highly technical sense.” “. Moses was right; this law was not too hard to keep, for it was a law of faith (Dt. 30:11ff; cf Rom. 10:1-12. Even Dt. 27:26 (“Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law”), when read in covenantal context, does not insist on 100% obedience to be regarded a law keeper…” (Rich Lusk, Why The Law/Gospel Paradigm Is Flawed)

    Other Lusk heretical comments:
    “Thus, initial justification is by faith alone; subsequent justifications include obedience … The fluidity of these symbols suggests a certain fluidity in our doctrine of justification. The white robes stand first and foremost for Christ’s free gift to his people… But his forensic justification cannot be separated from the good works that make the saints worthy of their new apparel. In other words, the poetic imagery points in the same direction as the theological prose of Paul (Rom. 2:13) and James (2:14ff): those who will be vindicated in the end are those who have been faithfully obedient. There is not hint of merit theology in these passages, but there is no escaping the close nexus formed between priestly investiture, justification, and obedience.” (Lusk, Future Justification To The Doers Of The Law.)

    “Final justification is to the (faithful) doers of the law (Rom. 2:1ff) and by those good works which make faith complete (James 2:14ff).( Lusk, Future Justification To The Doers Of The Law)
    ”it seems God will use “fatherly justice” in the final judgment, not “absolute justice.” He will judge us the way parents evaluate their child’s art work, or the way a new husband assesses the dinner his beloved wife has made. The standard will be soft and generous because God is merciful. Our works will not have merit before God, but they will have worth precisely because of the covenant relationship we are in. (Again, compare this notion to those passages in Scripture which claim a particular saint is righteous, or has kept the law, or has done good, e.g., Jn. 5:29, Lk. 1:6, Ps. 7:8, Acts 13:22, etc. These examples show the kind of “soft” evaluation God makes of his people.” ().( Lusk, Future Justification To The Doers Of The Law)

    What should have been asked of Leithart was whether he believed the same things as Rich Lusk. Several statements of Leithart indicate similar disturbing views.

  88. October 18, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Jack,
    When Leithart says – “And I heartily agree that sinners are justified when we receive Christ in his righteousness by faith alone. I completely agree and have always taught that our justification is not based on anything wrought in us or so done by us but only on the work of Christ and our union with him in his death and resurrection. I affirm that justification is only by faith.’ In my estimation that’s goes to really the heart of this question.”
    This statement does not clear Leithart. As consistent with FV tactics, what Leithart believes is not the same as what the Scripture and our Standards teach. Notice that Leithart refers to our union with Jesus and by our faith in Jesus we receive Christ’s righteousness by faith alone. The question needs to be asked what do you mean by “faith?” Moreover, Dr. Leithart, you believe one can receive saving benefits at baptism but lose them in Final Judgment. Do you believe in an “initial justification” and a “final justification?”

    Jack, the fact that Leithart admitted in his views of baptism that one is brought into saving connection with Christ but can possibily be lost indicates he agrees with the views of Lusk and others.
    Jack, the real problem with FV men is that they have REDEFINED BIBLICAL CONCEPTS INSERTING NEW CONTENT that is heretical.

  89. October 18, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Jack,
    The fact that the term “active obedience of Christ” is not used with that same phraseology does not mean what is meant by this term is not there because it is clearly there. This is the same ploy Norman Shepherd made in his 2003 lecture where he refuted the notion of “active obedience” saying that it was not in Calvin or the Heidelberg Catechism. This was blatantly false. The phrase was popularized later, but Calvin and the Heidelberg did refer to Christ’s imputation of His righteousness and the Reformed Confession do use “merit.”
    Jack, don’t get misled by these clever tactics. Our Confessional documents refer to Christ’s obedience imputed to us and of Christ’s merit. THIS IS WHAT ACTIVE OBEDIENCE MEANS.

  90. October 18, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Jack,
    I have a question for you. Do you think that the statements of FV proponent, Rich Lusk, that I quoted are heretical or not? No one in the FV camp has ever once to my knowledge distanced themselves from Lusk’s views?

  91. October 18, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Here are the types of questions that need to be asked of Leithart in a heresy trial: Dr. Leithart: do you believe and agree with what Norman Shepherd has written in his “Thirty-four theses on justification?”

    Dr. Leithart: do you agree or if not, specify where you disagree with Shepherd’s thesis 21 which reads – “the exclusive ground of justification of the believer in the state of justification is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but his (i.e., a believer’s) obedience, which is simply the perseverance of the saints in the way of truth and righteousness, is necessary to his continuing in a state of justification (Heb.3:6, 14)?

    Dr. Leithart: Do you agree or disagree with Shepherd’s thesis 22 which states – “The personal godliness of the believer is also necessary for his justification in the judgment of the last day (Matt.7:21-23; 25:31-46; Heb. 12:14)…?”

    Dr. Leithart: Do you agree or disagree with Shepherds’s thesis 23 which says – “Good works done from true faith, according to the law of God… are nevertheless necessary for salvation from eternal condemnation and therefore for justification (Rom. 6:16, 22; Gal. 6:7-9”

    Dr. Leithart: Do you agree or disagree with Shepherd’s thesis 20 that says – “…faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ will be justified.”
    Dr. Leithart: Would you be willing to say that Dr. Norman Shepherd and Rich Lusk are heretical in any of their written statements?

    Dr. Leithart: Please explain how your view of receiving saving benefits received at water baptism but which can be lost are essentially different from Shepherd and Lusk?

    Dr. Leithart: Do you believe justification is fluid? Do you believe in an “initial” and “final justification?” Is justification a “one time act” or is it fluid in the sense that one really doesn’t know he is justified until he ends his life, proving by “faithful covenantal obedience” that he is justified?

  92. October 18, 2011 at 10:39 am

    In a heresy trial, the prosecution needs to be very, very thorough, asking the accused to specify what he means by various terms like: “active obedience;” “merit;” “faith;” “justification” , etc.

    One needs to ask the accused if he agrees with or against other men who have been accused for heresy but not necessarily been put on trial, such as I did with Shepherd and Lusk.

    A heresy trial needs to be very, very, specific on numerous subjects. In others words, no stone must be left unturned.

    Hopefully, when Leithart’s exoneration is appealed to the General Assembly that the Assembly will be very, very, specific.

    I am convinced by Leithart’s writings that he is totally outside of the boundaries of the Westminster Standards. Minimally, he needs to be defrocked for being anti-confessional, but if his views are in line with Shepherd and Lusk, who I believe have committed the error of Galatians 1:8, then he needs to be declared as one who has corrupted the gospel.

  93. October 18, 2011 at 10:58 am

    By the way, Norman Shepherd insists that the “exclusive ground” of justification is the righteousness of Christ, but he also repeatedly stated that our good works are necessary for justification. Somehow, as mixed up as it is, Shepherd believes there is no inconsistency in holding to Jesus as the exclusive grounds for justification along with our keeping the commandments in the power of the Spirit, being in union with the resurrected Jesus.

    Does this sound familiar? Believing that one must persevere in obedience by the power of the Spirit for justification is still A WORKS SALVATION PARADIGM!!!

    The fact that all the FV men don’t like the term “merit” being used to refer to Christ’s merit imputed to us is very, very troublesome.

    I will say this, “I am convinced they all don’t want to use “merit” associated with Christ’s imputation to us because they are proposing their own “covenantal faithfulness” necessary to reach final justification.

    Look, the wording may change slightly, but heresy is heresy.

  94. October 18, 2011 at 11:09 am

    One of the FV men that you don’t hear much of these days is Steve Schlissel. I have a whole section in my book Danger in the Camp devoted to him. Schlissel rails against the law/gospel distinction thinking that Luther changed the world on a broken lever. Schlissel even took on the Reformed doctrine of total depravity. Why? It is simple. Total depravity as taught by the Reformed creeds would be problematic in maintaining “covenantal obedience” for justification.

    I trust people caught my quote from Rich Lusk that God judges men not on “strict justice” but “fatherly justice” like a newly wed husband cuts a break for his new bride on cooking meals.

    One has to set aside total depravity in order to advance a notion of law keeping for justification. Did you all note what Lusk said in his quote on the Mosaic law – “it wasn’t all that hard to keep.”

    Really Rich Lusk? Is that what Romans 3 teaches? Is that what Galatians 3 teaches? Why did Paul in Romans 7 say that the law (which is holy and good) kill him? It is because in his sin, he cannot render the perfect obedience the law demands.

    Brethren, it is precisely why we need the imputation of Christ’s perfect obedience because as sinners we cannot give what God demands. This is the whole point of Jesus’ encounter with the young rich ruler. By the way, read sometime Calvin’s commentary on the young rich ruler and see if it fits anywhere in the scope of FV teaching.

  95. October 18, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I recommend reading in addition to my book “Danger in the Camp: A Refutation of the Heresies of the Federal Vision”, Brian Schwertley’s excellent book titled “Auburn Avenue Theology: A Biblical Analysis.” He has a very good chapter on a defense of the active obedience of Christ and how the FV distorts it. Schwertly’s book came out in 2005 just like mine, several months after mine. Neither of us knew we were writing books on the subject. And both of our books preceded Guy Prentiss Water’s book on the New Perspective of Paul.

  96. David Gadbois said,

    October 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Pastor Otis, I appreciate most of your remarks but there is going to be a mountain of material here if we don’t stay on topic and focus on Leithart.

  97. October 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    David, while it may look like I have inserted views separate from Leithart, I really haven’t. That is why I listed them. My point is: Leithart argues like Shepherd and Lusk. We have to dig somewhat to see it, but it is there. Because there is similarity between them is why I mention them. I assure it, it is not extraneous.

  98. October 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    My point I hope is not missed is that both Shepherd and Lusk refer to the necessity of Jesus Christ’s righteousness and our union with Him. HOWEVER, they do not believe that Jesus’ law keeping is essential to be imputed to us as “alien righteousness.”

    Leithart was very evasive in his answer, careful I might add as to not saying we needed an “alien righteousness.” This is why Leithart said that he did not accept a common understanding of using “merit” to apply to Christ’s active obedience. The fact that Leithart like all FV men, what to avoid “merit” with respect to Christ’s work (imputation) is most telling.

  99. Sean Gerety said,

    October 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    @88 Leithart defines faith as follows:

    “Adam and everyone since have been called to “covenant faithfulness.” I use this term to describe saving faith because I believe it captures various dimensions of the biblical, and Confessional, portrait of faith. “Covenant faithfulness” as I use it means trust in God the Savior that expresses itself in obedience and loyalty to God and that perseveres until the end.”

  100. October 18, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Here is what Leithart has said in his trial:
    “. . . Jesus is raised from the dead as a declaration to the world that this is the righteous son of the Father. And that we particip- – we participate by faith and that verdict that God has pronounced in the resurrection. That is, that verdict is based on the perfect obedience of Jesus, the active obedience of Jesus. It’s based on the fact that he went to the cross and passively obeyed. But what I suggested is that the verdict is based on those realities, based on those actions of Jesus is what we share in by union with Christ. . . I’ve affirmed that sinners are positively righteous before God by union with Christ and imputation that is grounded in that union with Christ.”

    My observation: Notice what Leithart is avoiding in saying about the active obedience of Jesus. He only refers to the “passive obedience” meaning that He want to the cross. Norman Shepherd and Rich Lusk say exactly the same thing. And notice what Leithart says what he affirms to be “the active obedience of Christ” as it pertains to us. Leithart never says that we need an “alien righteousness” because we cannot render God personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience. Leithart says we receive a positive righteousness by union with Jesus and imputation is grounded in that union. In other words, because of our union with Jesus in His death, we receive imputation. BUT this is NOT what our Confessional documents say in full; it is not what Calvin and other Reformers meant by imputation.

    Lusk says the identical thing that Leithart about union with Christ, and Lusk goes on to explicitly say we don’t personally need Jesus’ 33 years of law keeping. Why do these men say this? It is because they insist that “faith” is “covenantal obedience.”

    So, out of one side of their mouth, the FV men can say we believe in “active obedience”, that is, Jesus needed to obey in order to be the paschal lamb of God that takes away sin, but then out of the other side, they say faith is “covenantal obedience” and we follow the example of Jesus as a covenant keeper.

    I would want to hear from Leithart’s own mouth that he refutes what Norman Shepherd and Rich Lusk, and Steve Schlissel have said. We need for him to say, “I believe these men’s interpretation is totally wrong.” We need Leithart to say, “We need an “alien righteousness” imputed to us because our works are in vain in reaching heaven.”

  101. October 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Sean, where is the quote by Leithart on his definition of faith found? It is a most incriminating quote indeed, and proves that he talks just like all the other FV men, particularly Shepherd and Lusk.

  102. Hugh McCann said,

    October 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Pastor Otis makes a point that needs pressing with those examining the FVaries: ‘My observation: Notice what Leithart is avoiding in saying about the active obedience of Jesus…’ (Emphasis added.)

    Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (2 John 9ff, ESV)

    Nor do the smooth prophets denounce the heresy in others: ‘I would want to hear from Leithart’s own mouth that he refutes what Norman Shepherd and Rich Lusk, and Steve Schlissel have said…’

    To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20, KJV)

    What’s NOT being said, and
    what’s NOT being denied,
    are as vital as what is being asserted.

  103. October 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    For a good while during the early days of the controversy over FV teaching, I did not understand why the FV men were consistently denying the covenant of works. But then, after reading more of what they said, it became clear. The FV men cannot bring themselves to believe that Romans 5 sets forth the parallel of Adam’s one act of disobedience with Jesus’ one act of obedience that brings justification for all in union with Him.

    The historic Reformed position on Romans 5 is that Jesus kept the law perfectly as the representative head in the covenant of grace in contrast to Adam’s failure, as the representative head of the human race. Adam personally failed; Jesus personally succeeded. How do we get the perfect righteousness needed for eternal life? By our own personal works? NO! But, by believing by faith alone in what Jesus did in our place. By faith, we receive all of Christ’s righteousness; it is imputed to us as if we personally did it.

    The renowned John Owen said in this regard – “I will grant the Lord Christ was “viator” whilst he was in this world, and not absolutely “possessor”, yet I say withal, he was so, not that nay such condition was necessary unto him for himself, but he took it upon him by especial dispensation for us. And, therefore, the obedience he performed in that condition was for us, and not for himself” (John Owen, Works, 5:259).

    John Calvin said the same thing as Owen a hundred years earlier. Jesus’ law keeping was not ultimately for Himself but for us in order to impute perfect righteousness needed to enter heaven.

    The FV men only talk of “active obedience” of Jesus for Himself, not in terms of others. Calvin referred to the same view of the present FV as that of “school boys” who don’t know much.

  104. October 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Ursinus, the one who was the mastermind behind the Heidelberg Catechism, wrote : “The law promises life to those whoa re righteous in themselves, or on the condition of righteousness, and perfect obedience, “He that doeth them, shall live in them.” “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Lev. 18:5; Matt. 19:17). The gospel, on the other hand, promises life by faith in Christ, or on the condition of the righteousness of Christ, applied unto us by faith. The law and gospel are, however, not opposed to each other in these respects; for although the law requires us to keep the commandments, if we would enter into life, yet it does not exclude us from life if another perform these things for us.”

    It is no coincidence that FV men like Lusk and Schlissel interpret falsely the story of the young rich ruler. Both these men explicitly state that the point was that the story was told in order for us to know how to keep the law ourselves for salvation. As I noted earlier, Lusk says that the law did not demand perfect obedience, that it wasn’t all that hard to keep.

    Jesus pressed the young rich ruler who thought that he had kept all the commandments that he didn’t get to first base (baseball analogy since World Series time) by failing on the first commandment. The young man’s riches was his god. Note that the disciples were in shock when young man went away. The disciples said, “Who then can be save?” And Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” In other words, Jesus was seeking to show the young man and ALL of us that in ourselves, our own law keeping, we are doomed to failure due to our sin natures, which is why we need Jesus’s law keeping in our place.

    Oh yes, the FV has abandoned the glorious gospel for a self righteous attempt at “covenant faithfulness.” It is truly tragic that certain “Reformed” men will skillfully change meanings, avoid clarity to advance their own views.

    But, praise God there are those who understand their tactics and will not let them escape.

  105. October 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    If the great John Owen were alive today, he would accuse the FV men of the error of Socinianism. In his work on justification (chapter 5) here are a few excerpts from Owen:
    “There are two grand parties by whom the doctrine of justification by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is opposed – namely, the Papists and the Socinians, but they proceed on different principles, and unto different ends… So speak all the Socinians constantly… and in all their discourses to this purpose they assert our personal righteousness and holiness, or our obedience unto the commands of Christ, which they make to be the form and essence of faith, to be the condition whereon we obtain justification, or the remission of sins… concerning this faith and trust, it is earnestly pleaded by many that obedience is included in it… Socinus, and those who follow him absolutely, do make obedience to be the essential form of faith; which is denied by Episcopius. For the Socinians do not make obedience to be the essence of faith absolutely, but as it justifies. And so they plead unto this purpose, that “faith without works is dead.”

    I sure hope that we realize that the error of Socinianism is alive and well on planet earth among all FV men. I hope you caught what Owens said about Socinianism that obedience is the essential form of faith. Sound anything familiar with saving faith being defined as Leithart said as “covenantal faithfulness?”

  106. October 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Here is a classic quote from Calvin that would be appropriate for Leithart and others to hear. Hear is Calvin’s quote (Institutes, Book 2, chapter 17:6):

    “But to ask whether Christ merited anything for himself, as Lombard and the Schoolmen do, is no less stupid curiosity than their temerity in making such a definition. What need was there for God’s only Son to come down in order to acquire something new for himself?”

    Pertinent is Calvin’s comment in the Institutes (Book 2, chapter 17:5):
    “For if righteousness consists in the observance of the law, who will deny that Christ merited favor for us when, by taking that burden upon himself, he reconciled us to God as if we had kept the law? What he afterward taught the Galatians has the same purpose: “God sent forth his Son … subject to the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4-5). What was the purpose of this subjection of Christ to the law but to acquire righteousness for us, undertaking to pay what we could not pay? Hence, that imputation of righteousness without works which Paul discusses (Romans ch. 4). For the righteousness found in Christ alone is reckoned as ours.”

    Note what Calvin said? The imputation of Jesus’ righteousness is WITHOUT OUR WORKS. Only Jesus’ righteousness reckoned to us. So much for Leithart’s view of imputation and saving faith being “covnenantal faithfulness.”

  107. October 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I will stop now, and I am fully aware that I have been monoplizing the postings, but I believed it was necessary to our understanding.

  108. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    (bump)

    David G (#71): [When P. Leithart] speaks of imputation he is speaking about a transfer of verdict, not a transfer of obedience or righteousness.

    I’m not familiar with the distinction between imputation as transfer of verdict and imputation as transfer of righteousness. What do you have in mind?

  109. andrew said,

    October 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Pastor Otis makes a quotation from Sheperd, which he finds problematic:

    ““the exclusive ground of justification of the believer in the state of justification is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but his (i.e., a believer’s) obedience, which is simply the perseverance of the saints in the way of truth and righteousness, is necessary to his continuing in a state of justification (Heb.3:6, 14)?”

    Perhaps someone could (gently) explain the difficulty.

    I find it hard to imagine any Reformed person denying the necessity of good works – ‘without holiness no man shall see the Lord’, etc.

    Is it because Shepherd links it more directly to justification (perhaps diluting it’s character as an act)? Had he said ‘state of salvation’ would all be well?

  110. Dean B said,

    October 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Good afternoon Andrew

    I do not not think any Reformed person is going to deny the importance of good works. The issue at stake is what function do good works play in our “final justification”.

    The typical way to express this idea is that good works are necessary for salvation and not our “final justification”. Our final justification is merely vindication or a public declaration rather than the way it is defined by Paul in Romans and in the WCF.

    I hope this helps.

    When good works are mentioned with justification

  111. David Gadbois said,

    October 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Pastor Otis, I’m not quite willing to cast folks like Piscator or our Lutheran brethren who don’t share our doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s active obedience (ICAO) with us into the lake of fire on that account. But I would note that either of those theologies would be HUGE improvements on what Leithart is offering us. Lutherans, for instance, still believe that it is Christ’s “righteousness” that is accounted to us, per Romans 4. ICAO in the Reformed tradition simply unpacks (correctly, I would say) some of what that means.

    But in Leithart’s system it is Christ’s righteous *verdict* that is transferred to us instead. To address Jeff Cagle’s query, the problem with this is that it truly does make our justification based on a legal fiction. God cannot pass a “not guilty” verdict unless the righteousness is, in some sense, “ours”, even if it is not *inherently* ours (i.e. it is alien). And the exegetical evidence is firmly on the side of the traditional formulation, not on Leithart’s. Dikaiosune does not mean righteous verdict or verdict.

  112. October 18, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Andrew, to answer your question about the relationship of good works to justification, we cannot do better than what WCF 11:2 and Larger Catechism Question and answer # 73

    WCF 11:2 says: “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification, yet is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.”
    LQ # 72 Question: How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God? Answer: “Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or act act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification, but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.”

    The error that Shepherd makes in the quote you mentioned is that he says that “perseverance” is necessary to continue in the state of justification. Our Westminster Standards indicate that good works and other graces always do accompany justification as “fruits” but not part of faith itself; hence, making faith “covenantal obedience” is anti-Confessional (anti-biblical).

    We do not continue in justification as such. Justification is a one time act of God independent of our works. Faith as defined by our Standards is simply the instrument by which we lay hold of Christ and His benefits.

    The Bible indicates that there is close union between justification and sanctification, but they are distinct and must remain distinct in that one cannot define justification as sanctification in a progressive sense. If there is no fruit, there is no saving faith is what James 2 indicates. As our Standards state, “faith” is no dead faith by ACCOMPANIED by saving graces. Accompanied is not the same as saying faith is “covenantal obedience.”

  113. October 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Andrew: Shepherd’s thesis 21 which reads – “the exclusive ground of justification of the believer in the state of justification is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but his (i.e., a believer’s) obedience, which is simply the perseverance of the saints in the way of truth and righteousness, is necessary to his continuing in a state of justification (Heb.3:6, 14)?

    Notice that Shepherd defines perseverance of the saints as “the believer’s obedience” which is necessary to continue in the state of justification. Shepherd has just made “our works” part and parcel with justification. Shepherd believes that unless one continues in these good works he will not receive “final justification.” Peter Leithart believes the same thing when he affirmed that one can initially receive forgiveness of sins but then apostatize.

    The Reformed Faith has always believed that the elect will persevere to the end, but the Reformed Faith has never made our perseverance as the grounds for justification; it is and will always ONLY be Jesus’ righteousness imputed to us.

    Notice too the text that Shepherd quotes for saying that our perseverance is necessary to continue in the state of justification. He quotes Hebrews 3:6, 14 to prove his point. The problem is that Shepherd leads us to think of those being referred to who hardened their hearts in the wilderness were believers in the first place. This is Shepherd’s fatal flaw.

    Hebrews 3:14 that he quotes says: “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” This is true but not how Shepherd understands it.

    As our Westminster Standards teach, the elect will persevere to the end but God’s eternal decree of salvation is NOT based on our perseverance. WCF 3:5 reads: “Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, OR PERSEVERANCE IN EITHER OF THEM, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto: and all to the praise of His glorious grace.” (Emphasis mine)

    Shepherd failed to mention Hebrews 3:12 which reads, “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.”
    The point is: those who fail in the wilderness WERE NEVER SAVED!! The Scripture says that had evil, unbelieving hearts which is why they apostatized.

    And in referring to the same people who apostatized, Hebrews 3 says that God swore in His wrath that they would never enter His rest. Hebrews 4:2 is key – “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also, but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”

    The Scripture affirms that those falling in the wilderness heard the Word via Moses, but they did not truly believe, which is why they fell away. In other words, they NEVER WERE JUSTIFIED. Hebrews 3:12 says explicitly they had “evil” hearts; they had “unbelieving hearts.” How can it be that they were ever justified according to Shepherd and Leithart? They can’t!!

    Shepherd and Leithart are totally wrong on a vital point. True Christians can never fall away. The heresy of distorting justification leads to a denial of the biblical doctrine of perseverance, and this is what heresy does, it is a slippery slope to destruction.

  114. greenbaggins said,

    October 18, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Roger, any response to 27?

  115. Dean B said,

    October 18, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    In another spot Leithart says: “With #3, Ward’s claims are vague. We are treated as if we have fully obeyed, he says, and this means that Christ’s obedience “comes into its own.” But how, exactly? Does “come into its own” mean “imputed”? Or is there another way that Christ’s active obedience could “come into its own” without positing the imputation of Christ’s active obedience? It would seem so: Christ obeyed perfectly, fulfilling the law without sin; Christ subjected Himself to the judgment of the Father on our sin, obeying “passively”; the Father was pleased, and judged Jesus to be the Righteous One, declaring that verdict by raising His Son from the dead; in raising Jesus, the Father was saying, “I judge My Son to be the one who has obeyed perfectly even unto death; by union with Christ, that verdict is also passed on us. In this construction, there is no “independent” imputation of the active obedience of Christ, nor even of the passive obedience for that matter; we are regarded as righteous, and Christ’s righteousness is reckoned as ours, because of our union with Him in His resurrection. What is imputed is the verdict, not the actions of Jesus, and this is possible and just because Christ is our covenant head acting on our behalf.” http://www.leithart.com/archives/print/000733.php

    If the verdict (I judge My Son to be the one who has obeyed perfectly even unto death) is passed on to us in our union with Christ then why would he hesitate to say that His active and passive obedience is also passed on to us as a result of that same union?

  116. Jack Bradley said,

    October 19, 2011 at 12:03 am

    http://pnwp.org/images/resources/pnwp-sjc-leithart-opinion.011.pdf:

    Judgment and Reasoning of the Standing Judicial Commission
    To the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest
    October 7, 2011

    “The Father’s verdict is based on the Son’s law-keeping, and so by sharing in the Son’s verdict the believer shares indirectly in the Son’s active and passive obedience. This is what I meant by saying we need not posit an “independent” act of imputation. We need not posit both that the Father imputes Christ’s law-keeping to us and that the Father reckons us righteous” (Defense 20 Brief, p. 6).

    Here Dr. Leithart inextricably connects the actual obedience of Christ in life and death to the verdict of God, and so necessarily to the justification of the elect through imputation. The Court cannot imagine what else we could ask of a minister. No just verdict is ultimately distinct from its grounds. In the context of our redemption through our covenant head, there is no “value” to his obedience if that obedience is not judicially applied to us according to the laws of the covenant. Without the obedience somehow included in the verdict, that verdict is unrighteous. Without the verdict the obedience lays fallow and does us no good. What’s more, the word “imputation” itself seems to necessarily involve the idea of verdict along with its grounds. Consequently, in Dr. Leithart’s view we see a necessary connection between the life and death of Christ and the righteousness imputed to us through God’s verdict. With these considerations, the necessary connection between verdict, obedience and the elect that is created by the act of imputation places his “verdict view” in line satisfactorily with the Standards.

    . . . Findings of Fact Related to Charge 3, Imputation:

    1. Dr. Leithart is “entirely certain” that the concept of imputation is Biblical (Defense Brief, p. 6; Trial Transcript, p. 161:13ff.).
    2. Dr. Leithart believes that imputation is a wholly gracious gift (Defense Brief, p. 7).
    3. Dr. Leithart has “never denied” that imputation is a biblical concept (Defense Brief, p. 6).
    4. Dr. Leithart believes that Jesus was perfectly obedient, and that he had to be in order to justify sinners (Defense Brief, p. 7; Trial Transcript, p. 161:17f.).
    5. Dr. Leithart believes that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (Trial Transcript, p. 161:23ff.).
    6. Dr. Leithart believes that God the Father’s verdict of righteousness rests on the Son because of the Son’s law-keeping, or active and passive obedience (Defense Brief, p. 6; Trial Transcript, p. 41 162:3ff.).
    7. Dr. Leithart believes that professing the imputation of active obedience “is not confessionally required” (Defense Brief, p. 6; Trial Transcript, p. 162:17ff.).
    8. Dr. Leithart believes that one who, by imputation, shares in Christ’s verdict has positive righteous status before God equal to the status of the resurrected Christ (Defense Brief, p. 6).
    9. Dr. Leithart believes that one who, by imputation, shares in Christ’s verdict also shares, indirectly, in the Son’s active and passive obedience, but that not in an independent act of imputation. (Defense Brief, p. 6)
    10. Dr. Leithart believes that the imputation of righteousness is equivalent to the act of justification or “reckoning righteous” (Defense Brief, p. 6, 7).
    11. Dr. Leithart does not believe that God imputes Christ’s obedience, and then in a separate act declares sinners righteous on the basis of that imputed obedience (Defense Brief 6).
    12. Dr. Leithart believes that the Bible and the Standards (WLC 69) teach that imputation is grounded in union with Christ in his resurrection (Defense Brief, p. 7).
    13. Dr. Leithart does not believe that imputation is redundant because imputation is grounded in union with Christ (Defense Brief, p. 7).
    14. Dr. Leithart affirms each of the passages from the Scriptures and the Standards that were cited in the indictment (Trial Transcript, p. 163:7ff.).

  117. David Gadbois said,

    October 19, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Jack, why is this so hard? You quoted this:

    The Father’s verdict is based on the Son’s law-keeping, and so by sharing in the Son’s verdict the believer shares indirectly in the Son’s active and passive obedience.

    “Shares indirectly” does not mean it is imputed to the sinner. This falls under the biblical and theological problems I mentioned in #111.

  118. bsuden said,

    October 19, 2011 at 12:32 am

    77 Jack
    Did I see 69?
    Nope. Not at the time I wrote 74 and 5. Didn’t seem to be up.

    But what of it?

    Or better yet, res ipse loquitur.
    It speaks for itself.

    Therein you essentially duck the issue.
    But what else is new?

    I well understand the standard interpretations re: baptism and the elect.
    But your question as to whom baptism applies is too general to answer to your satisfaction or my time allotment. I would again encourage you to read the trial transcripts and documents.

    I would again encourage you to read WCF 28:5&6.
    It’s self explanatory/perspicuous enough.

    The sacraments are means of grace to the elect contra the FV which teaches the sacraments are means of grace to all who receive them.
    End of story.
    Again.

    You either don’t understand that or you don’t want to admit it.

    But hey, that’s understandable, I wouldn’t want to either.

  119. David Gadbois said,

    October 19, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Also, Curate, as you know this blog has discussed in eye-watering detail the whole matter of WCF’s language concerning Christ’s “obedience” is imputed vs. “whole obedience”, and its relevance in the IAOC debate. It was not that long ago that we discussed Jeffrey Jue’s article, appropriating VanDixhoorn’s work. We are not willing to grant that using “obedience” vs. “whole obedience” was meant to allow for denying the imputation of active obedience.

  120. curate said,

    October 19, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Lane, no.27. Sorry, I thought you made a rhetorical point about your Presbytery.

    I do not know who will bring charges, frankly. I have just heard that it might happen.

    Any response to my post about your evading the meaning of convey in 18?

  121. October 19, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Jack, I agree with what David said in # 117 in the reposting of what Leithart said. Leithart said:
    “The Father’s verdict is based on the Son’s law-keeping, and so by sharing in the Son’s verdict the believer shares indirectly in the Son’s active and passive obedience. This is what I meant by saying we need not posit an “independent” act of imputation. We need not posit both that the Father imputes Christ’s law-keeping to us and that the Father reckons us righteous” (Defense 20 Brief, p. 6).

    Leithart is clearly not Confessional, and he is not in agreement with historic Reformed theology on this. Leithart has articulated what Norman Shepherd and Rich Lusk believe about imputation. The incriminating part is when Leithart says he does not believe in an “independent” act of imputation. The failure to state that Christ’s law keeping is directly given to us is a denial of Christ’s imputation.

    The fact that NWP believes Leithart’s statement is Confessional only demonstrates that there are a significant number in that presbytery that don’t understand imputation. I am sorry but either the men that exonerated Leithart are on the same page theologically with Leithart, wanting to completely change the meaning of “imputation,” or they are theologically inept. Either way, it is very sad. This is why an official complaint must be registered against NWP so that the General Assembly will rule against presbytery.

    Leithhart’s views are what many of us have said for some time. The FV men want to use the same words as the Confession but import foreign concepts to these words. In doing so, they have corrupted the Confession.

    The Westminster Standards nowhere speaks of imputation in the way that Leithart defines it. This bothers me and others to no end. So, in a heresy trial, Leithart can say paraphrasing, “Oh, I believe in imputation, Oh, I believe in faith that justifies, Oh, I am Confessional.”

    Does the WCF remotely refer to “imputation” as sharing in a verdict? NO. Leithart wants to speak of a sharing in some verdict of the Father with reference to the Son without believing that the Son’s law keeping is actually credited to us in our behalf. Did John Calvin believe what Leithart believes? Hardly. Calvin states: “For the Lord then freely bestows all things upon us so as to add to the full measure of his kindness this gift also: that not rejecting our imperfect obedience, but rather supplying what is lacking to complete it, he causes us to receive the benefit of the promises of the law as if we had fulfilled their condition.” (Institutes, Book 2, 7:3)

    Leithart, just like other FV men, refuses to believe that “merit” is proper with respect to what Jesus does for His people. But what does WCF 17:2 say? It says: This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; UPON THE EFFICACY OF THE MERIT AND INTERCESSION OF JESUS CHRIST; the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them; and the nature of the covenant of grace from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof. (Emphasis mine)

    When Leithart defines “faith” as “covenantal obedience” he has corrupted the meaning of the WCF. Question 71 of the Westminster Larger Catechism states:
    How is justification an act of God’s free grace?
    Answer: Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet in as much as God accepteth the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and REQUIRING NOTHING OF THEM FOR THEIR JUSTIFICATION BUT FAITH, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace. (Emphasis mine)

    Leithart defines faith as:
    “Adam and everyone since have been called to “covenant faithfulness.” I use this term to describe saving faith because I believe it captures various dimensions of the biblical, and Confessional, portrait of faith. “Covenant faithfulness” as I use it means trust in God the Savior that expresses itself in obedience and loyalty to God and that perseveres until the end.”

    Hence, in defining faith this way, Leithart strikes at the heart of the gospel. He definitively is opposing LQ 71. How can our Westminster Standards say that justification requires NOTHING OF THEM FOR THEIR JUSTIFICATION BUT FAITH when Leithart says that faith itself is covenant faithfulness that entails perseverance. It requires perseverance so much so that a person can legitimately be justified, be in union with Christ, be forgiven of sins, but LOSE IT ALL by not persevering in his justification.

    Jack, this is not the gospel! Jesus told His disciples to beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees. The term “leaven” is most illuminating. Leaven starts secretly and slowly permeates a loaf until it fills it. When leaven is used in a negative sense like how Jesus used it in this context, it demonstrates the insidiousness of heretical doctrine. The Pharisees actually believed that personal law keeping was how men were justified before God.

    The heresy of the FV is slowly infecting men; it infects presbyteries. The FV heresy is no different than how heresies have historically been seen in the visible church. It must be stopped or all is lost.

  122. Dean B said,

    October 19, 2011 at 8:30 am

    “The Father’s verdict is based on the Son’s law-keeping, and so by sharing in the Son’s verdict the believer shares indirectly in the Son’s active and passive obedience. This is what I meant by saying we need not posit an “independent” act of imputation. We need not posit both that the Father imputes Christ’s law-keeping to us and that the Father reckons us righteous”

    Mormons similarly profess Jesus is God, Redeemer, Savior, endless and eternal, the only begotten son of the Father. Should Christians conclude they hold to the orthodox view of Jesus just because they use very similar language?

  123. Jack Bradley said,

    October 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Pastor Otis, In the wake of your last statement, I really have no hope of persuading you, but I do want to continue to try to persuade Lane’s general readership.

    Robert Letham, Leithart trial: “On the question of imputation, Dr. Leithart indicated to me that he was opposed to imputation being viewed as an independent act, something in abstract, rather than in connection with union with Christ. This is something I myself, I’m concerned – – I share that view. I have a book coming out on union with Christ in September where we deal both with representational and transformational elements and seek to relate imputation to union with Christ. It has incidentally; it comes out with (inaudible) from Sinclair Ferguson, Joe Bekay, Joe Oldbrey, and J. I. Packer. The point is and I think we will explore this further that in my estimation and indeed in the Assembly’s estimation union with Christ is not in competition with imputation. But rather, Christ’s righteousness is made reckoned imputed ours precisely because he’s not only our substitute in our place, and our representative acting on our behalf, but he is one with us as our head. And we are united to him so his righteousness is reckoned ours by Christ. Now, Dr. Leithart affirmed that he is not opposed to imputation as such but rather that view of imputation which abstracts it from that context.”

  124. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 19, 2011 at 9:24 am

    David G: Without defending Leithart in general, I would say that his statements don’t read to me as affirming a transfer of verdict but denying a transfer of righteousness.

    I could be wrong, but I read his statements as affirming an imputation of verdict-and-righteousness subordinate to the believer’s union with Christ, as opposed to an imputation that occurs outside of the believer’s union with Christ.

    Now clearly, one must then ask “What kind of union? What roles do baptism or works play in establishing that union?” And that for that reason, I don’t want anyone to read me as defending Leithart generally.

    But on the narrow question of imputation, it seems to me that Leithart does affirm that in Christ, we are viewed by God as having the righteousness of Christ.

    In other words, What Letham Said.

  125. todd said,

    October 19, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Jeff,

    Having the righteousness of Christ because we share a verdict via union is not the same as being accounted as righteous. With Leithart what we have via union with Christ can be lost, because in his scheme we receive union through baptism, but without perseverance we lose that union, thus lose that righteousness we shared with Christ. But in the Reformed view of imputation we have already obeyed the law perfectly, we are already citizens of heaven at justification, thus it cannot be lost. The language may be similar but the meaning is as different as night and day.

  126. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 19, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Jack, Otis puts his finger on a significant issue in #121.

    To put his concern another way: If indeed the essence of the law is love for God and neighbor, then faithful obedience is the fulfillment of the Law.

    Which would seem to imply that receiving salvation by “faith = faithful obedience” would be to receive salvation by keeping the Law, which is exactly the opposite of what we know to be true.

    How would you respond?

  127. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 19, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Todd, I share your concerns about how Leithart views union. But his sketchy views of union are separate from the question,

    Is Christ’s righteousness imputed to us outside or inside of union with Christ?

    And if you’ve followed the discussion over at Oldlife, you’ve seen that the Reformed view (over against the Lutheran) is consistently that imputation occurs on account of federal headship, which is the forensic aspect of our union with Christ.

    In other words, assuming that Leithart is wrong about how union happens (baptism rather than faith), he is nevertheless right about how union functions (making us share in Christ’s righteousness).

  128. October 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I totally concur with what Todd has said. What does union with Christ really mean? Leithart is clearly outside the Westminster Standards. Just on this ground alone, he should be defrocked.

    LQ 80 states: Question 80. Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and that they shall persevere therein unto salvation?
    Answer: Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavour to walk in all good conscience before him, may, without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of God’s promises, and by the Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to which the promises of life are made, and bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God, be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and shall persevere therein unto salvation.

    Jack, please explain to me how Leithart is in agreement with the Standards? True believers do persevere! What Leithart has admitted is that one can be a true believer at one point but due to a lack of perseverance he can lose it.

    The biblical and Confessional position of the union of believers to Christ incorporates being justified freely by His grace and having Jesus’ perfect law keeping directly imputed to believers. Any view that wants to argue that we can be in union with Christ, no matter how you try to skip around, that does not say union with Jesus means Jesus’ law keeping is directly imputed is a deficient view of “union with Christ.”

    This really isn’t or shouldn’t be that hard to understand.

    Notice what LQ 61 says:
    Question 61. Are all they saved who hear the gospel, and live in the church?
    Answer: All that hear the gospel, and live in the visible church, are not saved; but they only who are true members of the church invisible.

    Leithart doesn’t believe the above statement. He believes all that are baptized in the visible church are saved as long as they don’t apostatize, at that point they lose their justification. This is Romanism!!!

    What does LQ 65 say?
    Question 65. What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?
    Answer: The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.[

    And what does LQ 79 say?
    Question 79. May not true believers, by reason of their imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken with, fall away from the state of grace?
    Answer: True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God, and his decree and covenant to give them perseverance, their inseparable union with Christ, his continual intercession for them, and the Spirit and seed of God abiding in them, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

    Peter Leithart doesn’t believe any of these Larger Catechism answers. Notice. God’s unchangeable decree GRANTS PERSEVERANCE, and true believers cannot totally and finally fall away. Leithart emphatically refutes our Standards.

    Leithharts’ view of union with Christ is Romanistic; it is not Protestant and not Confessional.

  129. October 19, 2011 at 10:24 am

    How should we view “union with Christ?” I will let LQ 69 answer that:
    Question 69. What is the communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ?
    Answer: The communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is their partaking of the virtue of his mediation, in their justification, adoption, sanctification, and whatever else, in this life, manifests their union with him.

    This is vital: what does it mean for the invisible church (elect and true believers) to partake in Jesus’ mediation? Biblically (and our Standards agree) we partake of Jesus’ mediation in two ways: His passive and active obedience. Both are needed. By His passive obedience we share in the forgiveness of sins by His atoning death credited to us. By His active obedience, we share in the right to eternal life by virtue of the crediting (imputing) of His perfect law keeping to us.

    I don’t care how you put it. If there is no direct imputing (crediting) of Jesus’ perfect law keeping to us, we don’t make it into heaven. Union with Christ entails such imputation. If one has a view of union with Christ (such as Leithart) that does not entail imputation of Jesus’ law keeping, then it is totally deficient.

    The Federal Vision assaults justification by faith alone and the imputation of Christ’s law keeping. Leithart is no different from Rich Lusk that I quoted earlier. Lusk believes we are in union with Jesus, but Lusk openly states that this DOES NOT mean that Jesus’ law keeping is imputed to us. In his paper for the 2003 Colloquium in Ft. Lauderdale, Lusk took a pot shot at Machen’s death bed exhortation to John Murray that his hope lay in the active obedience of Christ and that there was no hope without it.

  130. Sean Gerety said,

    October 19, 2011 at 10:32 am

    #121 – Pastor Otis nails it. Leithart does not hold to the Christian doctrine of imputation, but something considerably less. Christ work alone done outside of us and apart from anything wrought in us, this “alien righteousness,” is not what is reckoned to our account through the mere act of believing the message of the Gospel alone, but rather we are the imagined recipients of a “verdict” (and a tenuous one at that) that results from the sacerdotal magic of baptism (given to both the elect and the non-elect alike) and is a verdict we must maintain through our own ongoing works done through faith; what Leithart defines as “saving faith.”

    Leithart offers in his defense a brazen counterfeit and Robert Letham’s failure to identify it reveals him as a dangerous incompetent. And, since Letham says he shares Leithart’s view he should be charged as well. He certainly has no place remaining an elected officer in any P&R denomination.

  131. October 19, 2011 at 10:45 am

    By the way, notice the uncanny if not direct acceptance of Leithart’s view of union with Christ with what Rich Lusk, (fellow FV) has written. Lusk wrote:
    “I do not need the moral content of his life of righteousness transferred to me; what I need is a share in the forensic verdict passed over him at the resurrection. Union with Christ is therefore the key.” (Rich Lusk, “A Response to ‘The Biblical Plan of Salvation,’” in The Auburn
    Avenue Theology, Pros and Cons: Debating the Federal Vision (ed. E. Calvin Beisner;
    The Knox Theological Seminary Colloquium on the Federal Vision; Fort Lauderdale: Knox Theological Seminary, 2004)

    Sound familiar in Leithart? Of course it does. Catch the terminology “foresenic verdict” but one that does not need a perfect life of Jesus credited to us.

  132. October 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

    There is some uncanny similarity with John Calvin’s refutation of Osiander’s view of justification and union with Christ and our dealings with Leithart. I will share a few excerpts of Calvin’s analysis of Osiander. First Calvin states:

    But Osiander has introduced some strange monster of “essential” righteousness by which, although not intending to abolish freely given righteousness, he has still enveloped it in such a fog as to darken pious minds and deprive them of a lively experience of Christ’s grace.
    Consequently, before I pass on to other matters, it behooves me to refute this wild dream.

    Osiander explains “justify” as “to make righteous.” With the same rashness he corrupts that
    whole fourth chapter of Romans.

    Osiander proves himself anincompetent interpreter. Also, he discusses the term “righteousness” no more correctly, holding that the faith of Abraham was imputed to him as righteousness after he, having embraced Christ—who is the righteousness of God and God himself—had excelled in singular virtues.

    Does this sound familiar to Leithart, Shepherd, Lusk, Wilkins, and other FV men? Shepherd’s book argues exactly as Osiander did.

  133. Hugh McCann said,

    October 19, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Pastor John,

    Thank you for the historical quotes of late. They are great reminders of our blessed, precious heritage.

  134. October 19, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Continuing Calvin’s refutation of Osiander and indirectly the Federal Visionists of today, Calvin states:

    “Osiander laughs at those men who teach that “to be justified” is a legal term; because we must actually be righteous. Also, he despises nothing more than that we are justified by free imputation.”

    “Yet my readers ought to be warned to pay careful attention to that mystery which Osiander boasts he does not wish to hide from them. For first he contends long and verbosely that we attain favor with God not by imputation of Christ’s righteousness alone, because it would be impossible (I use his words) for him to regard as just those who are not just.”

  135. October 19, 2011 at 11:36 am

    As only Calvin could put it:

    “Somewhat too gross are the Schoolmen, who mingle their concoctions. Yet these men infect the simple-minded and unwary with a doctrine no less depraved, cloaking under the disguise of “spirit” and “grace” even the mercy of God, which alone can set fearful souls at rest. Now we confess with Paul that the doers of the law are justified before God; but, because we are all far from observing the law, we infer from this that those works which ought especially to avail for righteousness give us no help because we are destitute of them.” (Institutes, book 3:15)
    “As regards the rank and the of the papists or Schoolmen, they are doubly deceived here both because they call faith an assurance of conscience in awaiting from God their reward for merits and because they interpret the grace of God not as the imputation of free righteousness but as the Spirit helping in the pursuit of holiness.” (Institutes, Book 3:15)

    “Here we should recall to mind the relation that we have previously established between faith and the gospel. For faith is said to justify because it receives and embraces the righteousness offered in the gospel. Moreover, because righteousness is said to be offered through the gospel, all consideration of works is excluded.” (Institutes, Book 3:17)

    “Do you see how he makes this the distinction between law and gospel: that the former attributes righteousness to works, the latter bestows free righteousness apart from the help of works?” (Institutes, Book 3:17)

    From this it is also evident that we are justified before God solely by the intercession of Christ’s righteousness. This is equivalent to saying that man is not righteous in himself but because the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him by imputation—something worth carefully noting. Indeed, that frivolous notion disappears, that man is justified by faith because by Christ’s righteousness he shares the Spirit of God, by whom he is rendered righteous.” (Institutes, Book 3:23)

    “You see that our righteousness is not in us but in Christ, that we possess it only because we are partakers in Christ; indeed, with him we possess all its riches. And this does not contradict what he teaches elsewhere, that sin has been condemned for sin in Christ’s flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us [Romans 8:3-4]. The only fulfillment he alludes to is that which we obtain through imputation. For in such a way does the Lord Christ share his righteousness with us that, in some wonderful manner, he pours into us enough of his power to meet the judgment of God. It is quite clear that Paul means exactly the same thing in another statement, which he had put a little before: “As we were made sinners by one man’s disobedience, so we have been justified by one man’s obedience” [Romans 5:19 p.]. To declare that by him alone we are accounted righteous, what else is this but to lodge our righteousness in Christ’s obedience, because the obedience of Christ is reckoned to us as if it were our own?” (Institutes, Book 3:23)

  136. October 19, 2011 at 11:50 am

    It is amazing that Calvin’s works of 500 years ago are so relevant today, even in our dealings with FV men.

    Calvin states:
    “By way of addition this question also should be explained. There are certain perversely subtle men who — even though they confess that we receive salvation through Christ — cannot bear to hear the word “merit,” for they think that it obscures God’s grace.” (Institutes, Book 2:17:1)

    Sound familiar to FV men? Sound familiar to Leithart in his trial? Leithart wants to be free of “merit” but then turns around like many FV men and argues for our own merit, but cleverly disguises it as not “merit” but “covenantal faithfulness.”

  137. michael said,

    October 19, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    As many if not more, I, too, have been following this unfold in here. Pastor Otis is to be commended for the straight forward nature of his comments!

    Thanks Pastor Otis for your contributions in here!

    Pondering the issues being discussed, I come to this question:

    ” who is to gain from all this, that is, who wins?”

    If we frame this argument as the Federal Visionists’ do, those who add to the Covenant of Grace, some work, do.

    If we frame this argument as the WCF, the Standards and the Confessions do, those who have been raised from the dead, do; those who “know” their God and do exploits, doing those “good works” as the Apostle Paul writes about at Ephesians 2:10, because of the Resurrection and the Life of One Man, the Son of God, Jesus Christ!

    From the ESV, I can find only three places where we read these words:

    obedient/obedience to the Faith, Acts 6:7, Romans 1:5 and Romans 16:26.

    It seems to me what is being established in here as “error” to this obedience and what is not “error” to this obedience is vital for the Faithful?

    We need a clear sound blowing from the Trumpet, guys!

    It seems to me what is being established is the Federal Visionists are arguing that “being obedient” to the Faith is “our” work of Righteousness and that it is mandatory for our salvation?

    It equally seems to me what is being established is the Westminster Confession of Faith argues that “being obedient” is entirely different, that is, obedience is to receive the benefits of “Christ’s” work of Righteousness and that is the sole means of Grace, hence, those who walk in this obedience to the Faith receive the benefits of the Covenant of Grace without regard to the works of Righteousness that we do?

    Adam had his chance to obey the Will of God through the Covenant of Works and to live in God’s Righteousness, to subdue the wild beasts, to cultivate the garden, to exercise dominion over the fish of the sea and all creeping things on the earth and to enlarge this reality of works Righteousness as the Federal Head of humanity; and, being pre-determined that his “good work” would not overcome the work of evil and the wicked who were in the world working darkness against him, but be overcome by them and the evil darkness, he was destined to fail and he in fact, failed, thus accomplishing the Will of God?

    This seems to me to be the “mystery”.

    Jesus, on the other hand, being God Himself, Eternal in essence and Being with Our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit and being “pre-determined” to come into the fallen creation at His appointed time and did and did accomplish through His natural Life the Covenant of Works, accomplished the Covenant of Works by being put to death at the hands of godless men and by so doing, suffering the injustice, passively allowing such injustice to be done to Him, established the Covenant of Grace for all time and for us so that all of us, as the Apostle notes at Ephesians 1:9, will come into the mystery and take our stand “obeying” the Faith once delivered to the Saints.

    For us, obedience to the Faith is not a “work of Righteousness” that we do, but rather, it is an obedience that conveys the results of the Work of Righteousness revealed to us, by Faith, when we too, “hear” the Gospel and receive His Righteousness by Faith and not by works or merits:

    Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
    Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

    It seems to me the only ones who gain from this error of the Federal Vision doctrine is the Devil himself and the wicked, those whose names are not found written in the Lamb’s book of Life.

    He, Satan, it is, I submit, who is the one behind this doctrine. He, it is, I submit, is the one who wants to cloud and blunt the Truth of these two covenants and by so doing, keep us biting and devouring one another instead of doing what the Ministry anoints Her Ministers to do as succinctly argued before King Agrippa, here and fulfilling the Great Commission to preach this Gospel of the Kingdom to every creature and then “the end shall come” so that a New Heavens and a New Earth will come forth:

    Act 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
    Act 26:19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, …”.

    There are still a whole lot of Elect brethren sitting in darkness in the nations of the world these days and they sit in the valley of the shadow of death that need to “hear” about the Faith once delivered to the Saints, receive the benefits of the Covenant of Works “of Christ” and the benefits of the Covenant of Grace so that they, too, are made alive with Christ so that by Grace they too are saved through Faith and that not of themselves!

    Again, you PCA brothers have a difficult row to hoe in this time in history and I encourage you in this fight because many, as myself, have our eyes on you to see how you are going to excise this error from your midst!

    This is a timely honor for you. See Psalm 149. Be encouraged! Rejoice! Prove the Truth and destroy this false teaching. Be re-invigorated in the task at hand.

    Lane, you should be commended on how well you held up under such examination during the heresy trial that brings this comment thread about! Thank you for not allowing them to disregard your youth!

    Well done, brother, well done!

  138. andrew said,

    October 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Re 110, 112, 113 – Shepherd, justification and perseverance.

    Thanks for the reponses. I wholeheartedly agree with the theology you express.

    However, I am not sure we have shown Shepherd’s statement to be false. He does not say why good works are necessary, other than they not necessary as the grounds of justification.

    Seems plausible to read that as we might read statements in the NT. eg ‘without holiness no man shall see the Lord.’ That is, they are necessary because they are inevitable. No works means no real faith means no justification.

    It does seem a bit odd to link justification (rather than salvation) to perseverance, but consider this from the Canons of Dort on perseverance:

    “But God … does not … suffer them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption and forfeit the state of justification …” (Fifth Head, 6)

    Notice how they also talk about justification as a state and as one that is (conceptionally and hypothetically only) losable.

    Of course, as Pastor Otis says, Shepherd may believe such loss actually occurs. But as his indidivual statment stands, it seems to echo the Canons.

    Perhaps David Gadbois could comment on whether he is happy with the Canons’ talk of a ‘state of justification’?

  139. Mark B. said,

    October 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    When we stand before God on the last day and are Judged, on what basis are we Judged? In order for God to be Just, we need to have fulfilled the law perfectly in order to be admitted into heaven. Has any of us done this? NO, but Christ has, and it is on the basis of His obedience we are justified. (insert your favorite term here, obedience, active obedience, Christ’s merit, or any other theological term that FVists don’t feel comfortable with that may or may not have been used in the confessions or by reformed writers) At least one of the last Catholics I had this conversation with was honest enough to admit that their righteousness (covenantal faithfulness) would not be enough before they died, and that is why they expected to spend 10,000 years in purgatory. ANY “gospel” where our salvation is based on ANYTHING except Christ’s merit, obedience, active obedience, ect. is ANOTHER GOSPEL.

  140. David Gadbois said,

    October 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Andrew, Shepherd (and his sympathizers) would indeed not say that works are the grounds of us continuing in justification, but rather he says that works would be instrumental in that regard. This is precisely and explicitly his take on James 2. Of course, this still throws sola fide out the window.

    Whether our works are the grounds or instrumental in our justification, it would still be the case that works would be the prescriptive condition of justification. You have to do X in order to get Y. But when the Scripture says things like “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” , it is giving us a descriptive condition. That is, works are a concomitant gift given to the regenerated man along with justification.

  141. andrew said,

    October 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    David,

    That is v. helpful. Your posistion seems spot on.

    This is controversial, perhaps … but would Shepherd (or a follower) own your description? Would he use the term instrumental (or some term meaning the same, but less immediately obvious)? It is just that everyone is always claiming to be misunderstood!

    The reason I ask is not because I am suspect on justification, but because I know some (really good, Calvinistic folk) who understand ‘without holiness … ‘ as a reference to imputed righteousness, which seems to me to undermine the importance on personal holiness. For a while, I thought Shepherd was perhaps up against that mindset. I have relatives who claim to be ‘backslidden christians’, by which they mean a profession (usually as a child) and an open life of sin and godlessness (I don’t write from a legalistic mindset either) thereafter.

  142. David Gadbois said,

    October 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    That language of “instrumentality” and works in light of James 2 is straight from Shepherd’s latest book.

  143. andrew said,

    October 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Good. Thanks – what’s the title – me has some Amazon vouchers

  144. todd said,

    October 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    It is telling that a man appointed to teach true religion can explain his position on justification on paper, and still learned men cannot agree with what he means or where he stands concerning the central issues of the gospel. While no big fan of Baxter’s theology, his profound warning below comes to mind, especially concerning we ministers must plainly answer the greatest question of man – how can I, a sinner, be declared forgiven and righteous in the sight of a holy God?

    “All our teaching must be as plain and simple as possible…He who must be understood must speak to the capacity of his hearers. Truth loves the light, and is most beautiful when most naked. It is the sign of an envious enemy to hide the truth, and it is the work of a hypocrite to do this under the pretense of revealing it…that a man should purposely cloud the matter in strange words, and hide his mind from the people, whom he pretends to instruct, is the way to make fools admire his profound learning…It is, at best, a sign that a man has not well digested the matter himself, if he is not able to deliver it plainly to others.” (Richard Baxter – The Reformed Pastor)

  145. October 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Todd, your quote from Baxter was profound, and one that all of us preachers must take to heart. Are we sure Baxter is not still with us? If I cannot make biblical truth simple, clear, and to the heart, I don’t deserve to be a preacher. I am locking away this Baxter quote somewhere; it is a gem. Thanks a million for sharing it.

  146. curate said,

    October 20, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Pastor Otis, what is your exegesis of Romans 5 on the “one act of obedience” that results in our justification? That is the main, and often the only, passage quoted in support of the IAOC.

    I am seeing a lot of rationalising, but not much exegesis. There is much “if this then that” based on reason, but not much actual scripture.

    Reason must be subordinate to scripture, yes?

    Do you consider the “one act” to be Christ’s entire life of obedience? If so, could you explain how you arrive at this conclusion? It seems to me that you are coming to this text with your mind made up in advance that it must be so.

    Dr. Leithart argued that this passage is an argument against the IAOC by its use of the “one act of obedience” clause, pointing to the cross, and equating it with Adam’s “one act” of disobedience.

    How does the argument work if Christ’s entire life if being equated with Adam? Was Adam’s entire life of sinfulness imputed to us to, or was it restricted to the fall in the Garden?

    What is your exegesis?

  147. curate said,

    October 20, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Lane, still waiting for your response to your evasion of “confer”.

  148. October 20, 2011 at 2:48 am

    Curate: I will be glad to give my exegesis of Romans 5, but I will do so in terms of setting forth excerpts from what others historically have written on it. The excerpts will be drawn from the following: John Calvin, Charles Hodge, A.A. Hodge, John Murray, W.S. Plumer, John Dick, Greg Bahnsen, Brian Schwertley, Robert Lewis Dabney, Robert Shaw, to name a few.

    It will obviously take several posts to do this, but I hope it will be of benefit to our readers of the blog. First, allow me to address generally your question. While Romans 5 is of immense importance in support of the active obedience of Christ, it is not the only passage. I Cor. 1:30 and Phil. 3:8-9 are often used because they do apply.

    You mentioned that you think there is much rationalizing but little exegesis, and as you put it, “if this then that.” Of course reason must be subordinate to reason, but this obviously does not preclude the use of reason in interpreting Scripture.

    One of the most important hermeneutical principles is: Scripture interprets Scripture. I am an expository preacher, but anyone who has ever sat under or listened to my preaching notices one major mode of operation. I always bring in other passages (OT and NT) to buttress my exposition. The reason is that all of Scripture is relevant. There is a consistency to the theology of God’s word. It is why systematic theology is of such value. By the way, it is interesting that several of the FV men disdain systematic theology, which I find noteworthy. One FV man prefers to see Scripture as a story.

    The study of systematic theology is NOT the imposition of a preconceived concept upon texts. Biblical theology is obviously rooted in exegesis, and I have often argued that any theological controversy must be settled by sound exegesis. The point is: the exegesis of any passage can never and must never be taken in isolation from the rest of Scripture. Our Westminster Confession in 1:9 states – “The infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself; when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture, (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.”

    So, in coming to Romans 5, it is wholly appropriate to bring in other texts, which you will see how others have done so. It is wholly appropriate to reason from other texts to see how they apply to the passage under scrutiny. When Romans 5 refers to the “one act of obedience” that justifies, we should and must see how the rest of Scripture relates to this in coming to an understanding of the meaning of Romans 5. With that being said, here is what others have said about Romans 5.

  149. October 20, 2011 at 4:40 am

    Let’s consider how John Calvin approached this. Several places in his Institutes are of great value – Book 2, chapter 7 and Book 3, chapter 11, and of course his NT commentary on Romans.

    In speaking about the grace found in Christ from v.15, Calvin states, “We hence see how absurdly the schoolmen have defined grace, who have taught that it is nothing else but a quality infused into the hearts of men: for grace, properly speaking, is in God; and what is
    in us is the effect of grace. And he says, that it is by one man; for the Father has made him the fountain out of whose fullness all must draw.

    In discussing the meaning of v. 17, “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ,” Calvin states:

    The first is, that by Adam’s sin we are not condemned through imputation alone, as though we were punished only for the sin of another; but we suffer his punishment, because we also ourselves are guilty; for as our nature is vitiated in him, it is regarded by God as having committed sin. But through the righteousness of Christ we are restored in a different way to salvation; for it is not said to be accepted for us, because it is in us, but because we possess Christ himself with all his blessings, as given to us through the bountiful kindness of the Father. Hence the gift of righteousness is not a quality with which God endows us, as some absurdly explain it, but a gratuitous imputation of righteousness;…

    Regarding v.18, “Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto
    justification of life,’ Calvin states:

    “As by the offense of one we were made (constitute) sinners; so the righteousness of Christ is efficacious to justify us. He does not say the righteousness — dikaiosu>nhn, but the justification — dikai>wma, of Christ, in order to remind us that he was not as an individual just for himself, but that the righteousness with which he was endued reached farther, in order that, by conferring this gift, he might enrich the faithful.

    Regarding v. 19, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,” Calvin states:

    This is no tautology, but a necessary explanation of the former verse. For
    he shows that we are guilty through the offense of one man, in such a manner as not to be ourselves innocent. He had said before, that we are condemned; but that no one might claim for himself innocence, he also subjoined, that every one is condemned because he is a sinner. And then, as he declares that we are made righteous through the obedience of Christ, we hence conclude that Christ, in satisfying the Father, has provided a righteousness for us. It then follows, that righteousness is in Christ, and that it is to be received by us as what peculiarly belongs to him. He at the same time shows what sort of righteousness it is, by calling it obedience.
    And here let us especially observe what we must bring into God’s presence, if we seek to be justified by works, even obedience to the law, not to this or to that part, but in every respect perfect; for when a just man falls, all his former righteousness will not be remembered.

    Away then with those who confidently lay claim to the righteousness of works, which cannot otherwise exist than when there is a full and complete observance of the law; and it is certain that this is nowhere to be found. We also learn, that they are madly foolish who vaunt before God of works invented by themselves, which he regards as the filthiest things; for obedience is better than sacrifices.

  150. October 20, 2011 at 4:43 am

    In conjunction with what Calvin said in his commentary on Romans 5, it is important to see what he says from his Institutes regarding justification. We see these excerpts:

    God alone justifies; then we transfer this same function to Christ because he was given to us for righteousness. We compare faith to a kind of vessel; for unless we come empty and with the mouth of our soul open to seek Christ’s grace, we are not capable of receiving Christ.

    Therefore, I say that faith, which is only the instrument for receiving righteousness, is ignorantly confused with Christ, who is the material cause and at the same time the Author and Minister of this great benefit.

    Calvin asks: What is the nature of our union with Christ? Osiander laughs at those men who teach that “to be justified” is a legal term; because we must actually be righteous. Also, he despises nothing more than that we are justified by free imputation.

    But a great part of mankind imagine that righteousness is composed of faith and works. Let us also, to begin with, show that faith righteousness so differs from works righteousness that when one is established the other has to be overthrown. The apostle says that he “counts everything as dross” that he “may gain Christ and be found in him… not having a righteousness of [his] own, based on law, but one that is through faith in Jesus Christ, the righteousness from God through faith” [Philippians 3:8-9 p.]. You see here both a comparison of opposites and an indication that a man who wishes to obtain Christ’s righteousness must abandon his own righteousness.

    As regards the rank and the of the papists or Schoolmen, they are doubly deceived here both because they call faith an assurance of conscience in awaiting from God their reward for merits and because they interpret the grace of God not as the imputation of free righteousness but as the Spirit helping in the pursuit of holiness.

    But Scripture, when it speaks of faith righteousness, leads us to something far different: namely, to turn aside from the contemplation of our own works and look solely upon God’s mercy and Christ’s perfection.

    Here we should recall to mind the relation that we have previously established between faith and the gospel. For faith is said to justify because it receives and embraces the righteousness offered in the gospel. Moreover, because righteousness is said to be offered through the gospel,
    all consideration of works is excluded.

    For in comparing the law and the gospel in the letter to the Romans he says: “the righteousness that is of the law” is such that “the man who practices these things will live by them” [Romans 10:5]. But the “righteousness that is of faith” [Romans 10:6] announces salvation “if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and that the Father raised him from the dead” [Romans 10:9 p.]. Do you see how he makes this the distinction between law and gospel: that the former attributes righteousness to works, the latter bestows free righteousness apart from the help of works?

    The law, he says,is different from faith. Why? Because works are required for law righteousness. Therefore it follows that they are not required for faith righteousness.

    Now the gospel differs from the law in that it does not link righteousness to works but lodges it solely in God’s mercy.

    From this it is also evident that we are justified before God solely by the intercession of Christ’s righteousness. This is equivalent to saying that man is not righteous in himself but because the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him by imputation—something worth carefully noting.

    Indeed, that frivolous notion disappears, that man is justified by faith because by Christ’s righteousness he shares the Spirit of God, by whom he is rendered righteous.

    You see that our righteousness is not in us but in Christ, that we possess it only because we are partakers in Christ; indeed, with him we possess all its riches. And this does not contradict what he teaches elsewhere, that sin has been condemned for sin in Christ’s flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us [Romans 8:3-4]. The only fulfillment he alludes to is that which we obtain through imputation. For in such a way does the Lord Christ share his righteousness with us that, in some wonderful manner, he pours into us enough of his power to meet the judgment of God. It is quite clear that Paul means exactly the same thing in another statement, which he had put a little before: “As we were made sinners by one man’s disobedience, so we have been justified by one man’s obedience” [Romans 5:19 p.]. To declare that by him alone we are accounted righteous, what else is this but to lodge our righteousness in Christ’s obedience, because the obedience of Christ is reckoned to us as if it were our own?

  151. October 20, 2011 at 4:52 am

    In summarizing what Calvin says about Romans 5 as it dovetails with his comments in his Institutes, I trust that one can see that Calvin understands “the one act of obedience” as tied in with “imputation.” And, it is vital that we see Calvin emphasizing that it is NOT some kind of infusion of righteousness but only that of imputation. In other words, though he doesn’t use this terminology, it would be “alien righteousness” that is imputed. That is what imputation entails – alien righteousness, something outside of us, and we could say we receive that alien righteousness by Christ’s one act of obedience, Christ’s merits.

    Leithart and other FV men have thoroughly misunderstood Romans 5 if they think that it refers only to Christ’s death on the cross. The whole purpose of Paul in Romans 5 is to draw the contrast with Adam and Jesus. Adam brought condemnation to all in union with him, but Jesus brought justification to all in union with Him. Adam was a law breaker; Jesus was a law keeper. Adam by his one act of disobedience plunged the human race into condemnation, but Jesus by His one act of obedience justified those who by faith trust in Him.

    I will allow some others explain more fully what is all wrapped up in this “one act of obedience.”

  152. October 20, 2011 at 5:07 am

    I forgot to mention this portion from Calvin’s Institutes that is vital as it pertains to Calvin’s understanding of imputation as it relates to Jesus’ one act of obdedience.

    Calvin states in his Institutes, Book 2, chapter 7:3: “We cannot gainsay that the reward of eternal salvation awaits complete obedience to the law, as the Lord has promised. On the other hand, it behooves us to examine whether we fulfill that obedience, through whose merit we ought to derive assurance of that reward. What point is there to see in the observance of the law the proffered reward of eternal life if, furthermore, it is not clear whether by this path we may attain eternal life.”

    Therefore if we look only upon the law, we can only be despondent, confused, and despairing in mind, since from it all of us are condemned and accursed (Galatians 3:10). And it holds us far away from the blessedness that it promises to its keepers. Is the Lord, you will ask, mocking us in this way? How little different from mockery is it to show forth the hope of happiness, to invite and attract us to it, to assure us that it is available, when all the while it is shut off and inaccessible? I reply: even if the promises of the law, in so far as they are conditional, depend upon perfect obedience to the law — which can nowhere be found — they have not been given in vain. For when we have learned that they will be fruitless and ineffectual for us unless God, out of his free goodness, shall receive us without looking at our works, and we in faith embrace that same goodness held forth to us by the gospel, the promises do not lack effectiveness even with the condition attached. For the Lord then freely bestows all things upon us so as to add to the full measure of his kindness this gift also: that not rejecting our imperfect obedience, but rather supplying what is lacking to complete it, he causes us to receive the benefit of the promises of the law as if we had fulfilled their condition.

    To summarize this in Calvin, we see that Calvin insists on the necessity of all of us having to give God perfect obedience, but since we can’t supply that, we can get that perfect obedience from Jesus, who imputes that to us, that is we get it through His “active obedience.”

    But notice what Rich Lusk has said, “the law doesn’t require perfect obedience; God does not judge us by ‘strict justice.’; we don’t need Jesus’ thirty-three years of law keeping, but being in union with the resurrected Jesus we receive the verdict of the Father that saves us without direct imputation of any of Jesus’ righteousness to us. Lusk argues for faith being “covenantal obedience” and so does Leithart define faith this way, and so does Leithart believe that our union with Jesus gives us the benefit of salvation without Jesus’ merit imputed to us. Somehow this union with Jesus empowers us to exercise “covenantal faithfulness,” but we better try hard otherwise we might just lose this initial justification.

    I am sorry, but this is the denial of the gospel.

  153. October 20, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Let’s take a look at what Robert Lewis Dabney said about Romans 5. In this discussion by Dabney, he discusses what is meant by Jesus’ one act of obedience.

    Second, those who admit this definition of justification, will, of course, admit that the righteousness by which the sinner is justified must include a full obedience to the preceptive, as well as the penal part of the law. And as that righteousness, (to anticipate a point of future discussion) is Christ’s, hence, the merit of His obedience to the precepts, as well as of His atoning sufferings, must be imputed to us for justification. [It is common for theologians to say: "both His active and passive obedience" are imputed. The phrase is clumsy. In truth Christ’s sufferings contained an active obedience; and it is this which made them a righteousness: for mere pain, irrespective of the motive of voluntary endurance, is not meritorious. And Christ’s obedience to precepts was accompanied with endurance.]

    Arguments (offered by Dabney)
    (a) All the arguments then, by which the last head was supported, also go to prove that both parts of Christ’s righteousness are imputed for justification, if either is. He undertook to stand in our lawstead; and do for us, what the Covenant of Works demanded of us for our eternal life. We have seen that after we sinned, it required an obedience penal and preceptive.
    (b) It is most scriptural to suppose that all Christ did as a mediatorial person, was for us, and in our stead. Did Christ then, obey the preceptive law, as one of His official functions? The answer is, there was no other reason why He should do it —of which more anon. See Matt. 3:15; 5:17.
    (c) In many places, Christ’s bearing the preceptive law is clearly implied to be for our redemption. See for instance, Gal. 4:4. By what fair interpretation can it be shown that the law under which He was made to redeem us, included nothing but the penal threatenings? “To redeem us who were under the law.” Were we under no part of it but the threats? See also Rom. 5:18-19, “By the obedience of Christ, many are made righteous.” The antithesis and whole context show that obedience to precepts is meant (Rom. 8:3, 4). What the law failed to do, through our moral impotency, that Christ has done for us. What was that? Rather our obedience than our suffering. See also Heb. 10:5-7.

    8. Christ Did Not Lower the Law.
    A scheme of justification has been advanced by many of the lower Arminians, which is, in its practical results, not far removed from the Papal. It represents that the purpose of Christ’s work for man was not to procure a righteousness to be imputed to any individual believers; but to offer to God such a mediatorial work, as would procure for believers in general the repeal of the old, absolute and unbending law as a rule of justification, and the substitution of a milder law, one which demands only sincere evangelical obedience.

    The thing then, which is imputed for the sinner’s justification, is the whole merit of his sincere faith, humble penitence, and strivings to do his duty, which God is pleased, for Christ’s sake, to accept in lieu of a perfect righteousness. These theologians would say, with the Roman Catholics, and higher Arminians, that our “faith is accounted as our righteousness;” but they would define Justifying faith as a seminal principle of good works, and inclusive of all the obedience which was to flow from it. The point of inosculation of this, and the Papal theory, (determining them to be the same in essential character) is here. They both conceive Christ as having procured for man (in general) a new probation, evangelical indeed, instead of absolute; but in which the sinner still has his own proximate merit of justification to work out, by something he does.

    Whereas, the Bible conception is, that the Second Adam perfected, for His people, the line of probation dropped by Adam, by purchasing for them a title to eternal life, and covering also all guilt of the breaches of the first covenant. The student cannot discriminate these two conceptions too carefully. The former is “another gospel.” It robs us of the very essence of a salvation by grace. It violates that fundamental principle laid down by the Apostle, Rom. 11:6, that the two plans of adoption unto life, the legal and gospel plans, cannot be combined. The attempt to do so confounds both. In one word, since man’s will, in its best estate is, per se, fallible, if the plan of our salvation is that of a near probation by obedience, and if God’s grace in regeneration and sanctification is only synergistic, then no believer is ever sure of his redemption.

    Our view of Christ’s substitution under the Covenant of Paradise determines our view of justification. Thus, Adam by nature was righteous, innocent and guiltless; but not yet adopted. The first covenant was given him, that he might by it earn his adoption of life, his elevation from the state of a (holy) servant, to that of a son. He failed in the undertaking, and fell, with his race, into the state of an enemy, both corrupted and guilty. The second Adam steps into the place vacated by the fall of the first, takes up the work where he dropped it; and, while He makes expiation for the guilt, original and actual purchases for all believers a perfect title, not to restoration to that mutable state from which Adam fell, but to that state of adoption, to which he had aspired. My desire is, that the student adopt this view as the touchstone of his doctrine

  154. Ron Henzel said,

    October 20, 2011 at 6:53 am

    Now Roger,

    Of what specific “evasion” concerning the word “confer” are you accusing our brother Lane and demanding a response from him?

  155. October 20, 2011 at 6:57 am

    In the following comments, I will weave in comments made by Plummer, Charles and A.A. Hodge, John Owen, and W.G. T. Shedd on the necessity of the active obedience. To directly answer Curates’ question as to an exegesis of Romans 5 and the meaning of Jesus’ “one act of obedience,” I will seek to refute Leithart and others insistence that Jesus’ one act of obedience only refers to Jesus’ passive obedience or death. Leithart is simply following suit with all other FV men who agree with Norman Shepherd’s explicit denial of Christ’s active obedience.

    Jesus’s one act of obedience in Romans 5 must encompass both his death on the cross and the imputation of an “alien righteousness” to all who by faith alone trust Jesus as offered in the gospel. This is the consistent Reformed interpretation.

    The reason that a belief in the covenant of works is so important is that Adam was expected to personally, perfectly, and perpetually keep God’s law (not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) to maintain his sinless state. Our Westminster Standards clearly speak of the covenant of works in Chapter 19 on the law of God which states:

    I. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it: and endued him with power and ability to keep it.a
    (a) Gen. 1:26, 27 with Gen. 2:17; Rom. 2:14, 15; Rom. 10:5; Rom. 5:12, 19; Gal. 3:10, 12; Eccles. 7:29; Job 28:28.
    II. This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness, and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables:b the four first commandments containing our duty towards God; and the other six our duty to man.c

    Notice, that Romans 5:12, 19 are proof texts offered in section one. Why did they include this? It is vital because the fundamental point of Romans 5 is to draw a contrast between Adam’s failure and Jesus’ victory. Adam failed in keeping the law for those whom he represented, but Jesus keeps the law perfectly for those whom He represents. This perfect law keeping is viewed as “one act of obedience.” Yes, Jesus’ whole earthly life was one of obedience. Yes, Jesus was born under the law as Galatians 4:4-5 in order to redeem those under the law. As Calvin and others have said, to be “under the law” means to be under the curse of the law in that if we don’t render the law’s demand for perfection (Gal. 3:10; Deut. 27:26), then we are lost. As Calvin noted, the idea that Jesus kept the law for Himself is ridiculous. While the view of “union with Christ” is somewhat different than how Osiander argued in Calvin’s time, there are some similarities with Osiander’s view and the Federal Vision. Any view of “union with Christ” that leaves out Christ’s active obedience (imputation of His perfect law keeping to us) is a faulty view of union with Christ.

    Curate, it is vital that these passages from Galatians and a discussion of the covenant of works be brought to the table when we exegete Romans 5. Why? Because Scripture is one. We interpret Scripture by Scripture. We need to understand how Jesus is contrasted with Adam. To do so necessitates understanding the rest of Scripture. Biblical passages are not isolated entities!

    A.A. Hodge said, “The condition of the covenant of works was perfect obedience. The covenant having failed in the hands of the first Adam must be fulfilled in the hands of the second Adam, since in the covenant of grace Christ assumed all of the undischarged obligations of his people under the covenant of works. His suffering discharges the penalty, but only his active obedience fulfills the condition” (A.A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology, p. 500)

    John Dick wrote, “Righteousness supposes that the whole law has been fulfilled; innocence imports only that it has not been transgressed… in the case of a sinner, therefore, the imputation of righteousness is presupposed as the ground of his justification, which, consequently, implies something more than simple remission… if he (i.e. the sinner) cannot himself fulfill the law, another, taking his place, and coming under his obligations, may fulfill in his name; and coming under his obligations, may fulfill it in his name, and the obedience of this surety may be placed to his account.” (John Dick, Lectures on Theology, 2:190.)

    Jesus’ whole life was one of obedience and suffering. All of this is brought as part of His finished work. W.S. Plummer has said that there is a sense in which Christ’s righteousness is one. It is a seamless robe. In a moment Adam brought down ruin. It required the righteousness and obedience of the life of Christ and his agony in the garden and on the cross to bring us to God.” (Plummer, Commentary on Romans, pp. 246-47)

    Actually, Jesus’ whole life was one of humiliation and suffering. All of his obedience is tied with His suffering and atoning work. Jesus wasn’t perfect for Himself. Everything Jesus did was for His sheep!!! While it is true that “the lamb of God” must be without blemish (perfect) to be a sacrifice, it wasn’t for Himself but for us. BUT, I want to stress what Calvin insists. In his commentary on I Corinthians Calvin says, “… he says that he is made unto us righteousness, by which he means that we are on his account acceptable to God, inasmuch as he expiated our sins by his death, and his obedience is imputed to us for righteousness.”

    Notice that Calvin distinguishes between the necessity for expiation AND His obedience. Also, notice that with reference to “His obedience” Calvin refers to it as “imputation.” The fact that any of the FV men, particularly Leithart calls himself Reformed in line with the Reformers is incredible.

    Calvin understood clearly the necessity for double imputation. The believer’s guilt and liability to punishment as a lawbreaker is imputed to Jesus on the cross- expiation. And, the righteousness of Christ – His obedience is imputed to the believer. Therefore, Jesus’ “one act of obedience” pictured in Romans 5 is pictured as rendering perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience to the law’s demands.

    I would concur with what John Owen had to say about Jesus’ “one act of obedience.” Owen said, “But we were so under the law, as not only to be obnoxious unto the curese, but so as to be obliged unto all the obedience that it required; as hath been proved. And if the Lord Christ hast redeemed us only from the curse of it by undergoing it, leaving us in ourselves to answer its obligation unto obedience, we are not freed nor delivered… the Lord Christ being made under the law for us, he yielded perfect obedience unto it for us; which is therefore imputed unto us. For that what he did was done for us, depends solely on imputation.” (John Owen, Works, 5:272-73)

    I trust that we see that Owen insists that unless we have both the passive and active obedience we are not saved! What does this say about Leithart’s insistence along with all other FV men that we need only the death of Christ? It means they have corrupted the gospel. They have left out an essential element, and in doing so, they have no gospel.

    And the fact that they replace the precious merits of Jesus with our own “covenantal faithfulness” as the meaning of faith is unconscionable.

    It was W. G. T. Shedd who said: “When a criminal has suffered the penalty affixed to this crime, he has done a part, but not all that the law requires of him. He still owes a perfect obedience to the law, in addition to the endurance of the penalty…Consequently, the justification of a sinner must not only deliver him from the penalty due to disobedience, but provide for him an equivalent to personal obedience.

    The law is not completely fulfilled by the endurance of penalty only. It must also be obeyed. Christ both endured the penalty due to man for disobedience, and perfectly obeyed the law for him; so that He was a vicarious substitute in reference to both the precept and the penalty of the law. By his active obedience He obeyed the law, and by his passive obedience He endured the penalty. In this way his vicarious work is complete.”

    My final statement on the exegesis of Romans 5 is that a proper understanding of the contrast between the nature of Adam’s transgression and its effect with the nature of Jesus’ one act of obedience demands that we see imputation of Jesus’ law keeping for us.

    After all, it was meant for us to interpret Scripture by Scripture. Since Paul refers to this one act of obedience, it needs to be interpreted, and so Reformed scholars have done so quite ably. It’s too bad that Leithart and company refuse to see this and prefer a works righteousness in place of Jesus’ precious work.

    Let’s see if these men’s “covenantal faithfulness” on the Day of Judgment holds up. I think most of us know the answer to that question.

  156. michael said,

    October 20, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Pastor Otis,

    thank you very much for laying out clearly the issue and making plain the “error”.

    I tend to think what you have done is exegete a couple of things in Scripture with what you have laid out in here for us!

    First, you wrote: “Let’s see if these men’s “covenantal faithfulness” on the Day of Judgment holds up. I think most of us know the answer to that question.”

    That seems a heavy heavy gamble and burden that I certainly do not want to do or bear in light of Jesus’ own appeal to come unto Him those who are burdened and heavy laden with sin?

    You also wrote: “And the fact that they replace the precious merits of Jesus with our own “covenantal faithfulness” as the meaning of faith is unconscionable.”

    That to me is the vitality that is missing from the FV’s message, (the precious merits of Jesus) and maybe some, if not all, do not realize it? Makes me wonder if there are some within the Federal Vision movement that are just evil to the core and know exactly what they are doing? That question goes to a couple of places in Scripture, one with the things recorded Jesus taught at John 10 about how some climb into the sheepfold, not going through the proper channels so to speak and what Paul taught as recorded here:

    Act 20:29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
    Act 20:30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
    Act 20:31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.

    Paul says he knows fierce wolves and knows how they operate among the brethren.

    How can a man of God, called out of darkness, remain in such misery and darkness as these Federal Vision guys? It is as you say, “unconscionable”.

    Having said all that it occurs to me that what you have effectively made plain is the difference between the tares and the wheat; and also, you are making it much easier for me to understand what Jesus was getting at when he describes what happened to the strongman.

    Jesus says that a strong man, “fully armed” guards his house until a stronger comes and “attacks” him and takes away his armor in which he relied and spoils his goods.

    Luk 11:21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe;
    Luk 11:22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.
    Luk 11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

    That story epitomizes for me what Jesus did to Satan as recorded at Matthew 4 and Luke 4. After that factual event we read these words:

    Mat 4:23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.
    Mat 4:24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.

    That to me sounds like Jesus Christ spoiling the strong man’s goods, the souls of men held captive to his deceits?

    Again, it is a joy to read what you are laying out and it helps bring a focus upon the error.

    My only question now is what is your counsel to those of us that are getting it in just how to assist those proponents of the Federal Vision that seem to be disrupting the understanding of the Truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom that frees one’s soul, in light of these words from the book of Hebrews, quoted here:

    Heb 12:12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,
    Heb 12:13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
    Heb 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
    Heb 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
    Heb 12:16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.
    Heb 12:17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

  157. October 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Michael, if I understand your question, it is what is my responsibility as a Christian with reference to those teaching Federal Vision theology. My counsel breaks down to two main areas depending upon where one finds himself.

    1. There is the responsibility of elders, be they teaching or ruling elders to protect the church against those who would corrupt the gospel. Titus 1:9-10 brings out one of the most important duties of elders. They are to “hold fast to sound doctrine” to the extent that they can not only discern the error but have the ability to refute it. As the text says, the elder is to silence those who are upsetting whole families. The word “heresy” as used in the NT is often translated “schism.” This is what heresy does. It divides people; it disrupts the precious unity of the church.

    The Federal Vision has done precisely this. It has brought great dissension in the church. This is always the ploy of the “evil one” (Satan). Divide the church, and the church’s mission to storm the gates of hell is diminished.

    The elders must “contend earnestly” for the faith once delivered to the saints. The attitude is that of a great struggle for defending the truth. It is a fight to the death if necessary. Every preacher has a stewardship to which he must answer for to his Lord. The gospel is the priceless treasure that must be preserved. Shepherds are to defend their flocks; they must always be vigilant, looking out for the wolves in sheep’s clothing. What undershepherd is worth his “salt” who doesn’t protect Jesus’ precious sheep?

    Elders must go the distance in their denomination to rid the visible church of heretics. This is why the battle in Northwest Presbytery must be taken to the General Assembly. What did Paul do with the Judaizing heresy? He took it to the Council of Jerusalem to settle it, and they did. They condemned the Judaizers. The PCA General Assembly must have the moral fortitude to do the right thing in defrocking these “troublemakers” who are distorting the gospel.

    There are several men who need to be commended for their efforts as teaching elders. They are two men who have blogsites that help the visible church understand this vital issue of our day. I am referring to Lane Keister and Wes White. These men have and continue to pay a price in the defense of the gospel. They are to be esteemed for their faithful efforts in their denomination. Sometimes the fight will be fierce; sometimes it can get very lonely. But, elders are to have the attitude of Athanasius. When there was a point that seemed like the whole world was sucumbing to the Arian heresy, it was said to him that you are the only one against this, then Athanasius made the famous statement “Athanasius contra mundum” or “Athanasius against the world.”

    Elijah thought he was the only defender of Jehovah but was assured there were others who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

    The decision will need to be made if and what the PCA General Assembly will do. If the Assembly doesn’t practically protect the church from heresy, then serious consideration needs to be given to leaving.

    2. What if you are not a teaching or ruling elder. What is your responsibility to Federal Vision teachers? You must leave their churches and tell everyone to leave their churches. A very good counsel I heard a preacher give to church members is this: as a church member don’t try to convert your heretic preacher; just leave. Flee!

  158. michael said,

    October 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Pastor Otis,

    in hindsight I realize my question wasn’t very clear!

    What you said helps immensely nevertheless.

    What I was asking is not so much what to do with the identifiable “wolves”, (although you might want to say something about that?) and obvious intruders who climb into the sheepfold, but, rather what do you do with those who are novices to their poison, the FV doctrine where they are getting farther and farther away from the Covenant of Grace?

    How do you address this without bringing in harmful division? How do you get them connected to the I.V., so to speak, so that the “Grace of God” begins to flow through their being seeing Hebrews 12 implies such measures are to be taken? “Heb 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God;…”.

    Have you come across any who were not aware of the evil that this disruptive doctrine causes and then by the Grace of God been able to lead them back to safe pasture?

    I am specifically thinking about Peter Green and maybe others who have made comments in here and the other threads as this goes along this theme and topic. He seems to be one who is really on the fence going back and forth struggling through this as a lot of us are and though he comes across gruff in his responses, I am not convinced he is fully over on the proponents side?

    And there may be others who are just following along in here, too, who have not even made a comment or asked any question/s?

  159. October 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Michael,
    With those who don’t know exactly who is telling the truth, the best that you can do is pray for them and give them things to read, trusting that if they really know the Lord and are teachable then the Holy Spirit will guide them.
    I do know of an instance where a young man in the early days of the controversy was on the fence. I remember the girl who is now his wife gave him the transcripts of the 2002 Auburn Avenue Pastor’s Conference that our denomination had transcribed. It was his reading of those lectures by now recognized FV men that made him realize that they were not of the truth.

    The young man is now one of our promising ministerial students in our denomination.

  160. October 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Jason,

    Your concluding arguments were very good; you set forth the fundamental errors of Leithart. The exoneration of Leithart was a clear example of either one or a combination of two things. Either the presbyters are so weak theologically that they cannot discern error, which means they don’t deserve to be elders, or the presbyters were clearly on Leithart’s side to begin with, and no biblical argument would change their mind.

    The prayer of all in the PCA is that your General Assembly will remedy the great error for the sake of the church at large.

  161. Jack Bradley said,

    October 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Rob Rayburn’s closing argument:

    DEFENSE: I begin with the case of the prosecution. The defense has argued that its charges were vague. They represented a moving target. Dr. Leithart attributes saving benefits to baptism. Well, of course. But what does that mean? Baptism is a means of grace. It brings a person into the church, the family of God as the Confession itself says. Does baptism in and of itself get a person to heaven? The notion that Dr. Leithart thinks such a thing or ever has said such a thing is absurd. But it’s the Bible that says baptism saves. It’s Paul who says we were saved by the washing with water and the word. Mono-covenantalism, what does that mean? Dr. Leithart, as you heard, never imagined that there was but one covenant in the Bible. Surely apostasy amounts to a real change in the spiritual situation of a person, a falling away as the Scripture says. If the prosecution were to make its case, it would’ve had to, have done a much better job of identifying the precise error it was alleging and proving that Dr. Leithart was in fact guilty of it. Charges were doubtful on their face. Again and again we heard the prosecutor say, it sounds to me as if you are saying, it seems to me that you are saying, what it sounds like you are saying, and the like. But it didn’t sound to us that Dr. Leithart was saying any such thing because he had already either denied that such was his view or that he disagreed with the prosecution’s account of the teaching of the standards. Frankly, the defense regards the prosecution’s effort to impose its own interpret- -interpretation of Dr. Leithart’s words as a complete failure. The defense remains disturbed by the fact that while the prosecutor gave some idea of his, of his interpretation of certain passages of Scripture, he made no effort to disprove Dr. Leithart’s exegesis. And finally they were unsubstantiated either from the standards or the Scripture. Again and again we waited to hear precisely what statement of the standards and what assertion of Holy Scripture Dr. Leithart can be proved to deny. Again, we remind the court that Dr. Leithart asserts and has always asserted that he sus- -subscribes to the Westminster standards ex animo. The unhappy fact is that the, that at the end of the trial, the prosecution continued to characterize Dr. Leithart’s views in the same way as he did at the beginning as if Dr. Leithart had not spoken at length clarifying his views and responding to the prosecution’s criticisms on cross-examination. Dr. Leithart himself happily asserts, for example, that the key difference between Adam and believers is that Adam was a covenant head and we are not. He’s often asserted that he does not believe that baptism ex opere operato confers eternal life. Indeed, that without faith baptism only makes an unbeliever situation the worse. He stands very ready to confess that the obedience and satisfaction of Christ are imputed to the believer while he argues, as many have, that the prosecutor has imposed on that phrase an interpretation that is by no means necessarily the meaning of the words. He believes in the reality of divine election and justification by faith as those doctrines are adumbrated in the Confession of Faith. He acknowledged in the hearing of the court that there was a qualitative distinction between an apostate’s faith prior to his apostasy and the faith of the elect. He was careful to say that reprobate members of the visible church who are not elect share in the graces of salvation in some way for a time and that the reprobate are united to Christ in some respect. How many times does a man have to say the same things? Now, to the prosecution’s witnesses. Dr. Horton is known to represent a party in our current reformed world identified by a set of emphasis that many of our men do not share. His view of and his statement of the law gospel dialectic is highly controversial in our circles and the defense noted for the court it is not found in the Westminster standards. In the reformed tradition, law/gospel is in fact either a way of speaking of the epochs and the history of redemption, Old Testament, New Testament, or of Paul’s dialectic of works versus faith self-salvation versus salvation as a divine gift. A good many professors in our conservative Presbyterian seminaries do not agree with Dr. Horton’s construction of covenant or of law and gospel. He agreed on cross-examination that his views are not those of Peter Lillback or John Frame or Michael Williams, men who have taught many more PCA ministers than Dr. Horton has. Dr. Horton asserted if the court remembers that he had been misunderstood by John Frame. Dr. Leithart has asserted on direct testimony and in answer to the court’s questions that Dr. Horton has misunderstood him. The prosecution clearly thinks Dr. Leithart holds views that Dr. Leithart himself declares outright that he does not hold. Again, the defense urges the court to accept that the onus probandi must be very (inaudible) heavy indeed when the prosecution must prove that he knows Dr. Leithart’s mind better than Dr. Leithart himself. In his testimony regarding charge 5, that having to do with apostasy, Dr. Horton himself admitted that the Westminster Confession of Faith does not in fact distinguish between the quality, the term the prosecution used, the defense would not, the quality of temporary faith and saving faith which the defense reminds the court seems to be the issue as the prosecution framed it. An illustration of the problem we are facing presently in the church is that the prosecution dd not employ Dr. Horton to address the first charge. Fact is, Dr. Leithart is quite approving of Dr. Horton’s strong assertion of the efficacy of baptism. But Mr. Keister in dealing with charge one took issue with an account of baptism’s efficacy taken from the writing of Dr. Horton. Are we now to assume that the prosecution’s first witness is guilty of the same crime now being alleged against the defendant? Mr. Keister seemed not to understand what he was admitting when he described himself as a biased witness. It is not biased to believe to be true a certain opinion regarding the facts of the case. Bias suggests the failure to put the best construction on what a man says or writes, a determination to find fault and a lack of even handedness in the evaluation of evidence. Along with competence, the objectivity of an expert witness is his most important recommendation. The defense agrees with Mr. Keister’s admission that he is biased and that therefore his testimony should be weighed differently if not dismissed by the court. Our BCO warns us, great caution ought to be exercised in receiving accusations from any person who is known to indulge in malignant spirit towards the accused, who is not of good character, who is himself under censure or process or who is known to be litigious, rash or highly imprudent. Mr. Keister has been a public critic of the views of Dr. Leithart virtually from the beginning of his ministry. He is a known controversialist. He has the reputation among some of being someone who relishes such controversy. The Scripture warns us against such people. The defense reminds the court that Mr. Keister, an outsider to this presbytery, had the effrontery to propose that Dr. Leithart leave our brotherhood insofar as his income did not depend on a PCA church. The same might be said of Mr. Keister whose livelihood does not depend upon a PCA church. The defense reminds the court that it is only one side of this debate that has taken to proposing to drive men out of the church. Dr. Leithart has not proposed that those who disagree with him leave the church. He’s willing to live with different opinions. It’s only the prosecution that demands that all submit to his own particular and controversial interpretation of the standards. There’s high irony in the accusation of the prosecution that a senior and long serving member of the presbytery supported in his freedom to hold his views by all but three and now perhaps two members of the presbytery is the troubler of the church. The defense wants to register its great disappointment with the prosecution suggestion that Dr. Leithart is troubling the church and ought to leave. Fact is this presbytery was without any theological controversy for years after Dr. Leithart’s arrival. It was not until the prosecution joined the brotherhood that we have been roiled in these disputes. The prosecution argues that Mr. Keister’s testimony was not sufficiently considered. The defense cannot speak for others, but it read the submittal and heard it discussed and a number of particulars and questions the court put to the witnesses. Prosecution was offended by the questions asked Mr. Keister by the defense that went to his bias and his competence. But surely it’s only biblical to lend far greater weight to the testimony of mature men, mature in both godliness and scholarship, churchmen who are known both for their commitment to our faith and theology and for their commitment to the peace and unity of the church. The defense simply asked the court to weigh the comparative value of Mr. Keister’s testimony and that of Professors Barker, Collins and Letham. If such men as these, the defense witnesses, find Dr. Leithart’s teaching acceptable in the presbytery and church, the fact that Mr. Keister demurs frankly seems irrelevant. Mr. Keister has spoken on his blog in regard to matters presently before the bar. As an example of the quality of his criticism, the defense had him read to the court the reply to his ru- -review of Michael Williams’ book, Far as the Curse is Found, posted on his blog by Sean Lucas, formerly professor at Covenant Theological Seminary and now a PCA pastor in Mississippi. Dr. Lucas was a member of the PCA study committee on Federal Vision. He wrote that in his view, Mr. Keister had read Dr. Williams uncharitably and had misrepresented Dr. Williams’ teaching in every point raised in Mr. Keister’s review. To be frank, insofar as it was offered as expert testimony, the defense regards Mr. Keister’s testimony as virtually worthless. The case of the defense. Our argument was that none of the charges in the indictment can be sustained on either basis, confessionally or scripturally. We still await the identification of a line in the standards that Dr. Leithart can be proved to disagree with. And we draw the court’s attention once again to the fact that the prosecution made no effort to demonstrate that Dr. Leithart’s views fall short of the teaching of Holy Scripture in some particular. The defense stands by its brief submitted to the court February 17th arguing that the BCO and the Westminster Confession of Faith demand that any accusation of the sort brought against Dr. Leithart must be proved from Scripture. If the final and ultimate authority of Holy Scripture is not made the operative principle of the work of a church court in a heresy trial where in the world would it be found in operation. The defense reminds the court again, that the prosecution made no effort to prove his charges from the word of God. For this reason alone, his case must fail. Our witnesses. We favored the court with a learned testimony of honored teachers and authors, genuine experts in the fields relevant to the matters before the bar, two men of our own church, a former moderator, once the president of the PCA’s own theological seminary, once as well the dean of the faculty at Westminster Philadelphia, a specialist in English Reformation and Puritan studies, and secondly an Old Testament professor of great reputation who has written learned books and articles on issues before the bar. And finally we offered the testimony of an author of a highly regarded study of the theology of the Westminster Assembly, a man who was a widely published authority on reformed theology. Each of these men said clear- -clearly in their testimony that they did not find the views of Dr. Leithart to place him beyond the boundaries of Westminster Calvinism or the Westminster standards. The evidence of the defense presented amounted to this, Dr. Leithart’s views do not in fact fall outside the boundaries defined by the Westminster standards. The defense could elaborate its demonstration of this fact at some length but let a few examples suffice. In regard to the efficacy of baptism as a practical matter, the defendant expressed his concern that we be able to assure our children of God’s love for them and of the forgiveness of their sins. The defense reminds the court that such confidence linked to baptism is a commonplace of reformed understanding. It is in the Heidelberg Catechism, an instrument designed for the discipleship of children that we read and answer to question 69. How is it sealed to you in holy baptism that you have part in one sacrifice in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The answer reads that Christ instituted this outward washing with water and joined it to this promise that I am washed with his blood and spirit from the pollution of my soul that is from all my sins and certainly as I am washed outwardly with water. The defense also reminds the court that there are many in our church who do not believe or are not sure that parents can speak so confidently to and of their children. Our experts demonstrated (inaudible) second place that the Westminster Confession of Faith was written precisely to include or not to debar such views as are held by the defendant and in fact does not debar them in any matter before the court. Our witnesses demonstrated that the matters under discussion are high register issues of theological formation made the more complicated by the different ways Holy Scripture speaks to them. As to the reality of apostasy, of falling away, and of the biblical description of the spiritual and theological situation of the apostat- -apostate before his apostasy surely we would be quick to admit that we’re talking about ma- – matters shrouded in mystery. There are number of texts in the New Testament that read – – read like this, 2 Peter 1.9 and 10. For whoever lacks these qualities is so near sighted that he is blind having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 2 Peter 2.20 to 22. For if after, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome the last state has become worse for them than the first. Obviously there was something substantial in the experience of faith however temporary it may have proved to be. (Inaudible) The reason the Bible refers to apostasy as a falling away. One must be in someplace before one can fall from it. No one doubts the perseverance of the saints. Dr. Leithart certainly does not. But we must be faithful to all the Bible teaches and take seriously what it teaches even if that teaching creates tension with other teaching in Holy Scripture. Such tension is in fact characteristic of biblical reality and is found everywhere the divine decree and the Lord’s covenant with sinners intersect in theology and in life. Second, his views are not in contradiction to the teaching of the word of God. We gave you exhibit number 11 to demonstrate that fact, the different ways fresh and provocative but always in deference to the word of God that Dr. Leithart has found of putting things is something to be encouraged in our church, something wholesome and necessary, and the kind of theologizing that has long been tolerated and appreciated in the conservative Presbyterian world. Fourth, the polemics of the dispute that has caught up Dr. Leithart are being conducted far too much without charity, without brotherly concern to understand and appreciate and without adequate learning. It should not be so difficult to form a proper charge of heresy. It should not be so difficult to prove to like-minded brothers that the man actually holds the views that he is accused of. And it should not be so difficult to prove that such views as he does hold represent in fact critical disagreement with Holy Scripture or the standards. Finally, I’ve been a Presbyterian minister for 33 years. I’m a graduate of the college and seminary of our denomination. I have a doctorate in New Testament, done further graduate study in the history of theology in Holland. I am the longest serving minister in this presbytery. I have subscribed and do subscribe ex animo to the system of doctrine contained in the Westminster standards. I believe I know a killing error when I see one. I’m not sure there are errors here at all but in Dr. Leithart’s views I find no serious or significant. I’m not even sure I find any departure from the Westminster Confession and no one has demonstrated to my satisfaction that Dr. Leithart has mistaken in any material way any passage of the word of God. The prosecution has utterly failed to make an argument persuasive to me.

  162. Hugh McCann said,

    October 20, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Wow, Jack @162!

    If that’s the majority of leadership in the PCA, then the end is closer than we thought.

    Now Horton is (nearly?) outside the pale of Presbyterian orthodoxy (I hear the cry of ‘Too Lutheran!’ echoing), and Keister is painted as an uncharitable, misunderstanding controversialist. Both are denounced as incompentent novices.

    Well, the lines are being clearly drawn. Who has the cahones and tenacity to follow this through to the bitter end @ GA? Anyone?! Doubtful.

    Counsel admits of the defendant, ‘He was careful to say that reprobate members of the visible church who are not elect share in the graces of salvation in some way for a time and that the reprobate are united to Christ in some respect.’ THAT’S within confessional bounds?!

    The most chilling of all @162: ‘Finally, I’ve been a Presbyterian minister for 33 years.
    I’m a graduate of the college and seminary of our denomination.
    I have a doctorate in New Testament,
    done further graduate study in the history of theology in Holland.
    I am the longest serving minister in this presbytery.
    I have subscribed and do subscribe ex animo to the system of doctrine contained in the Westminster standards.’

    Imagine the apostle Paul saying such a thing. Shame on the ‘Rev Dr.’

    In the end, then, does baptism maybe mean/ possibly picture the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, or maybe not, eh? Or maybe temporarily? Or maybe not?

    It seems apropos to end with this: ‘As to the reality of apostasy, of falling away, and of the biblical description of the spiritual and theological situation of the apostat- -apostate before his apostasy surely we would be quick to admit that we’re talking about ma- – matters shrouded in mystery. . .’

    Ah! But of course: m-y-s-t-e-r-y!

    ‘Obviously there was something substantial in the experience of faith however temporary it may have proved to be. (Inaudible) The reason the Bible refers to apostasy as a falling away. One must be in someplace before one can fall from it.’

    Perhaps mere profession sans possession?
    Visible church membership without invisible church membership?
    But never in union with Christ!

    Matt.7:20ff ~ They call him ‘Lord, Lord,’ but in works they deny him, proving invalid their vaunted professions of faith (& parading their resumes, I’d add).

    They ‘knew’ Him as ‘Lord,’ but not as Savior!

    Most importantly, He knew them not.

  163. October 20, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    This observation needs to be made. Jesus said that when He departed He would send the Holy Spirit who would lead His people into all truth. How many of you does it really bother, I mean really bother that supposed Christians, and ruling and teaching elders could have such a different spirit in the same denomination? Jesus prayed that His church would be one, and look at what we see right now. It is disgraceful.

    Since we are so far apart on key doctrines, the Holy Spirit CANNOT be guiding one group; it is that obvious and that serious. We are so far apart that the Lord needs to visit us in a powerful way. If we still lived in the age of miracles, I would be wanting the Lord to come down and show us whose side He is on by opening up the earth and swallowing up those not of the Lord as He did in Numbers.

    If the General Assembly doesn’t follow through on its FV report by disciplining some people, then the report is meaningless, it would be really and truly meaningless. I liken it to a father and an erring son who is openly defying his father, and the father telling the son, “Now look here you better not to do that, but the son keeps up with a defiant spirit, and the father keeps saying, “Now look here you better not do that.” When is the father going to take the defiant son to the back shed and give him what I call “a good ole Tennessee dog whuppin?”

  164. Hugh McCann said,

    October 20, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Re, Pastor Otis @164, final paragraph:

    Sadly, the PCA presbyteries are comporting themselves like Nadab & Abihu, or Hophni & Phinehas.

    Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction ~ Pro. 19:18 ~

    23:13f ~ Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.[Sheol]

    Will Aaron and Eli correct their sons while there is time, or. . . ?

    Pro. 19:13a ~ A foolish son is the ruin of his father.

    29:15ff ~ The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall. Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul. Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.

  165. Ginger said,

    October 21, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Do not grow weary in doing good.

  166. curate said,

    October 21, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Thank you for posting those final arguments for both sides.

    Pastor Otis, in response to your reply to my request for exegesis of Romans 5, first of all, thanks for the systematic theology smorgasbord from so many respected Doctors of the Church. Their opinions should be treated with respect. It was good to have a summary of the key points of justification rehearsed.

    A few things struck me.

    First, you think that Dr. Leithart has rejected the exclusive forensic understanding of justification as a judicial verdict of righteousness for the believing sinner. You are mistaken, and have made a serious accusation against an elder that is untrue. Dr. Leithart affirms the traditional and biblical forensic view. He simply makes it part of the wider package called union, which all the fathers insisted upon as well. God does not justify anyone whom he does not also regenerate. These things are distinct, but not separate. Standard fare.

    You are wrong on the major point, which makes me wonder if you have given his work a close reading.

    Second, you did not exegete the key passage, instead, you quoted others, and presented mere statements and assertions about the necessity of “active obedience” in place of argument.

    You simply declared that active obedience to the law must be part of justification, quoted some people who agreed, and thought you had done exegesis.

    I still do not understand from your posts how many thousands of acts of obedience to the law of Moses can be called “one act”. You have not addressed that point.

    On the face of it, it looks absurd.

    Let me make an argument against you. There are six hundred and thirteen laws in Moses’ Code. Let us assume for the sake of simplicity that Christ obeyed each law once in his entire life. That does not take into account the evangelical acts of obedience like submitting to John’s baptism, his teaching and acts of power, which he received from the Father, and most importantly, his obedience to the command to die on the cross.

    How can 613 acts of obedience be “one act”? Make an exegetical case from the Bible, not other people.

    Third, have you cross referenced other biblical references to the word “obedience” re Christ, regarding our justification? What does that term mean there? Would you give us a few examples?

  167. Ron Henzel said,

    October 21, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Roger,

    You ask:

    How can 613 acts of obedience be “one act”? Make an exegetical case from the Bible, not other people.

    I believe that δι’ ἑνὸς δικαιώματος in Rom. 5:18 is more properly rendered “by the righteousness of one.” Since the exegetical arguments are very old, I find your “not other people remark” to be unreasonable, since you’re simply requiring us to rewrite what has been available to everyone for a very long time. Thus I refer you Charles Hodge’s commentary on Romans, most of the relevant portions of which can be read here. I recommend especially pages 169ff.

  168. October 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Curate,
    I am sorry, but I am finished providing further answers to your questions. I am not providing any more examples. I have spent plenty enough time already explaining things to you. Actually, I did it more for others than you.

    I did exegete the passage of Romans 5. I gave my own, and I let other notables from Reformed history exegete the passage. The exegesis entailed the meaning of “the one act of obedience.” I and others understand that it clearly entails “imputation.” This is why I quoted the various men. Our WCF is clear. It’s too bad that you did not glean that.
    You say, “Dr. Leithart affirms the traditional and biblical forensic view. He simply makes it part of the wider package called union, which all the fathers insisted upon as well.” By the way, I showed what Calvin has said about “union with Christ.” I shared in another post clearly what the WCF says about “union with Christ,” and it clearly refutes Leithart. It is sad you cannot see this.

    What can I say? If you think this Leithart’s statement above is true, which apparently you must, I am deeply sorry. The reality is: you would not have agreed with anything I or others would have said. You are in agreement with Leithart unfortunately.
    There are scores of teaching and ruling elders in various denominations that know this is not true. Leithart in several denominations wouldn’t make it through part of a presbytery examination before it would be terminated. Leithart’s own words during the trial, and his writings are self incriminating. It will be most illuminating what the General Assembly will do with Leithart. Let’s put it this way, the 2007 PCA Federal Vision Report approved by the Assembly is diametrically opposed to what Leithart has testified and written. Now, whether they will follow through with disciplining him is another matter.

    Yes I have made a serious accusation against Dr. Leithart, and I don’t back off from it. He and others are terrible threats to the precious church of the Lord Jesus. I have read enough of Leithart. The fact that he was put on trial says a lot doesn’t it? Think about it? Enough people do believe Leithart has heretical beliefs. This should say something to you; it should say something to Leithart, but I don’t think he cares what his fellow elders think. It would bother me, if the same number of elders accused me of heretical teachings. I would have to stop and think, “Why am I so different from them? Could it be there is really something wrong with my theology that they would accuse me of heresy?”

    It is quite obvious there is nothing I will ever say that will convince you, which is why I am not going to answer any more of your questions. I don’t think you are teachable in this realm. If you think that water baptism regenerates as Leithart does, if you think one can really and truly have saving benefits at baptism which can be lost by failing to persevere, if you think “faith” is defined as “covenantal faithfulness” then I fear for you.

    Federal Vision theology and Leithart’s agreement with it is a real threat to the church of our day. The bulwark of the Reformed Faith sees it as not consistent with Reformed Theology. Leithart hasn’t said anything different from Norman Shepherd, Rich Lusk, Steve Schlissel, Steve Wilkins, Jeffrey Meyers, Craig Higgins, Doug Wilson, Greg Lawrence, and James B. Jordan to name a few.

  169. October 21, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I left a part of my previous comment out by mistake. I wanted to further say:
    Some of these men that I listed above want to remain in the PCA despite the clear denunciation of the denomination on their views via the FV report. Louisiana Presbytery had to be reprimanded by the SJC for failing to protect their churches against Wilkins, and Leithart agrees with Wilkins on most all the areas under discussion. The PCA SJC needs to reprimand NorthWest Presbytery for its failure as well, and then try Leithart and defrock him.

  170. Jack Bradley said,

    October 21, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Pastor Otis,
    While you’re developing your heretic hit list, I think you ought to consider another prime candidate:

    Robert Godfrey, President of Westminster West, Blue Ridge Bible Conference, 6/16/97. Tape #9: Sacraments in Worship:

    “The Westminster Directory of Public Worship. . . said that the minister, at baptism, was to speak some words of instruction to edify the people, as they put it, “according to their particular needs,” and that one of the things the minister was encouraged to remind the people was that their children, and this is a quote from the Directory, that their children are ‘Christians, and federally holy before baptism and therefore are they baptized.” Their children are “Christians, and federally holy.” Now what do you think about that? Just a Roman Catholic holdover, right?

    . . . You see, this becomes a very fundamental question of the character of the Church, and the character of the family, and the character of children. . . My old colleague, Phillip Edgscombe Hughes. . . he once said ‘the trouble with Baptists is they have no proper theology of children. They don’t understand children. They don’t understand God’s relationship to children.” But I think a lot of us don’t either.

    We want, correctly, to uphold our Reformed doctrine of total depravity and the necessity of regeneration, right? We all want to uphold that, don’t we? . . . We recognize that our children must be regenerated by the Spirit of God, by a sovereign work of the Spirit of God in their hearts. And we are sensitive to. . . the danger of formalism. You know, if you tell your children as they’re growing up that they’re Christians and that they’re holy, how are they ever going to get converted? Isn’t it really better to tell them they’re sinners who need to make a decision for Christ? . . . If you tell your children they’re Christians, aren’t you just encouraging formalism? How do you know that they’re Christians? You can’t see into their heart to see if they’re regenerated, can you?

    . . . I am more and more convinced as the years go by that the genius of Reformed theology is the way in which it balances the issues related to regeneration with issues related to covenant—and that the danger that Reformed theology faces is that it can put too much stress on regeneration and undervalue to covenant, or, put too much stress upon the covenant and undervalue regeneration.

    . . . But then, how are we to think about children? How are we to relate to children? And there, I think, baptism stands at the very heart and center of what the Lord is saying to us and how we ought to think. . . because baptism says, ‘I will be a God to you and to your children. You are in covenant with Me. I have made promises to you. . . and you don’t need to have any doubts about that.’

    . . . There are people who wrestle with tender consciences with the question, ‘How can God love a sinner like me?’ . . . What do you say to someone in that kind of state? . . . Luther had a very different answer. When the fellow said, ‘How do I know I’m a Christian?’ Luther said, ‘You’ve been baptized.’

    . . . What’s Luther saying there? Is he saying that just because you’ve had some water sprinkled on you you’re automatically a Christian?. . . No, that’s not what Luther meant. What Luther meant is, when you’re struggling with the question ‘Am I a Christian?’ you’re struggling with the question, ‘Does God’s promise count for me?’ . . . Luther says in the waters of baptism the promise of God touches you, individually. . . Luther never denies that we share in the benefit of the sacrament only by faith. But what he’s saying is, stop looking at yourself, stop doing this moral inventory. And Calvin says exactly the same thing over and over again in his writings: the more you look at yourself the more uncertain you will become about your relationship with God—especially if you have a sensitive, regenerated conscience. A sensitive, regenerated conscience becomes more and more aware of the continuing sin in the life, becomes more and more aware of the weakness of faith, and in our weakness God in mercy has provided sacraments for His people—sacraments that carry His promise to us immediately, directly—sacraments that we can touch, lay hands on, to be sure that his promise is true and will not fail.

    And so, it’s a glorious answer: you’ve been baptized. It’s a glorious promise. And again, the Westminster Directory, very much in the spirit of Luther, says that when a baptism is performed the minister is to speak to all the people and admonish all that our present to look back to their baptism. . . we should remember those words were spoken to us. . . remembering that what is happening visibly before us to another happened once to us. . . it should lead us to remember that we have not been the faithful covenant children that we ought to have been and to lead us to repentance before God. . . and to stir up our faith. . . repentance and faith. Stir up repentance as we recognize our sin. Stir up our faith as we rest in Christ and His finished work. And then the wonderful phrase ‘to improve and make right use of our baptism.’ . . . What is the right use of our baptism? To remember that we are baptized people, that we are set apart from the world by the waters of baptism—that in the waters of baptism Jesus Christ has made a promise to wash away our sins.

    . . . when you read the New Testament, Paul, over and over again, makes appeal to baptism as a present reality in the Christian life and experience. I think that’s true in Romans 6, for example. When Paul wants Christians to mortify sin in their experience he reminds them that they’re a baptized people and that baptism speaks to them about sin being washed away. But we can get nervous about that. Even so noted a theologian as Martyn Lloyd-Jones just didn’t want to think that all that stress upon baptism in Romans 6 could be water baptism. It must be Spirit baptism, because we don’t want to become formalists. But I really think he misses the point there. You see, have you been Spirit baptized? It is a little harder to be sure that you are Spirit baptized than to be sure you’re water baptized. You see, water baptism, which certainly testifies to Spirit baptism—and we need Spirit baptism, every Christian is Spirit baptized, I believe all those things—but, you see, again, if you just begin introspectively to ask, ‘Have I really been Spirit baptized?’ you get right back in the morbid mess. And the water baptism, you see, is the way out, is the way to the objective statement of the glories of God’s grace and mercy to His people.

    . . . I read Luther’s large catechism, in which he has pages on baptism, and I kept waiting for that point at which I would see that he’d gone over the edge, gone too far—and was amazed to find out I agreed with every word of what he said in his statements on baptism in his large catechism, which made me worry, so I went back and read it again, and no, I really think he’s Reformed. [laughter] But listen to what he says: ‘Thus faith clings to the water and believes that in baptism is pure salvation and life.’

    Now, are you comfortable saying that? ‘Faith clings to the water.’ He does go on: ‘Not in the water, as we have said plainly enough, but in the Word and institution of God incorporated therein, and the name of God which inheres in it.’

    You see, what Luther is saying, it’s not water as some magical thing that saves us, but it’s water that bears the promise of God, it’s water connected to the Word and promise of God. I think this is what Calvin is saying as well: God’s institution is to link the promise with the water so that if our confidence in the promise begins to waver we can look to the water, which we have seen, which we touched, and can be renewed in the promise. So, we musn’t be wiser than God—one of my favorite phrases from the Heidelberg catechism. We must not be wiser than God. And when God says we need water to bear His promise to encourage us and to assure us, we need it. And, therefore, faith does cling to the water—not water as bare water, but water as sacrament which bears the promise of God. . . It’s the Word in the water. It’s the promise with the water. . . But it profits us only when we receive it by faith. . . Luther: ‘Although baptism is, in itself, a transcendent divine treasure it is of no avail without faith.’ . . . But to protect the importance of faith we do not have to deny His presence, which is what many people, in opposition to formalism, want to do. They say, ‘No, we don’t want to find Christ in the water, we want to find Him just by faith.’ But Luther and Calvin’s point is that the water bears Christ to us. The water makes Christ present for us because the water contains and visibly declares the promise of God. Calvin loves the phrase of Augustine, that the sacraments are ‘visible words.’ They’re not a different word than what we hear preached or what we read in the Bible. They don’t bring a different Christ. They bring the same Christ and His promise in a different way—a way that helps us in our weakness. And it’s at this point that Reformed theology says, yes, we do need to see the promise of God as well as hear it. We are weak, our ears are not enough for us. . . we ought to accept the institution of God, which is water, in baptism and bread and wine, in the Supper.

    . . . Baptism is the sacrament that testifies to the definitive work that God has done in saving His people. . . Calvin, Institutes: “It is a sign of our spiritual regeneration, through which we are reborn as the children of God.” Does baptism relate to regeneration? Sure it does. When we look, in faith, to our baptism, we are sure we are regenerate. . . you see, when I worry about my regeneration, in faith, then baptism tells me I am regenerated. . . Baptism stands there as the great pledge, the great encouragement. Calvin says, ‘Baptism is a sure testimony to us that we are united to Christ Himself, that we become sharers in all His blessings. For He dedicated and sanctified baptism in His own body in order that He might have it in common with us as the firmest bond of the union and fellowship which He has deigned to form with us. Hence Paul proves that we are children of God from the fact that we put on Christ in baptism.’

  171. Dean B said,

    October 21, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Roger

    “You are mistaken, and have made a serious accusation against an elder that is untrue.”

    I am confident the SJC of the PCA will not agree with your statement.

    On the other hand do you believe you have made a serious accusation against an elder that is untrue? Not only did his Presbytery rule in his favor, but there is no chance the SJC will overrule the decision.

  172. Reed Here said,

    October 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Jack: respectfully, you need to stop such extended quotes. We appreciate your desire for folks to consider these things in context. The way to do this is not to clutter up the combox with quotes that are longer than the original post. Instead, pull a few salient sentences out, quote them, make your point, and then provide a link where interested folks can go and read the rest in context.

    If you need some help with the html code in how to make a link in a comment, just ask and one of us we’ll be glad to help.

    As it is, this is the second time you’ve been admonished about this (abuse of the combox with lengthy quotes). The combox is for conversation from you. If you post a lengthy comment in your own words, relevant to the subject, that is fine. But please, no more extended quotes of others such as the last couple you posted.

  173. michael said,

    October 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

    curate/Roger,

    “…, Second, you did not exegete the key passage, instead, you quoted others, and presented mere statements and assertions about the necessity of “active obedience” in place of argument. …”.

    Ok, why not lay out for us your exegesis of the key passage and let us examine you in here from that?

    I would like to request you to clearly and in as straightforward a manner as Pastor Otis has, exegete the meaning of the key passage there in Romans 5 as you understand it?

  174. michael said,

    October 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Jack,

    I know these questions were addressed to Pastor Otis.

    I wanted to go into them a bit further on my own, if you don’t mind?

    You asked Pastor Otis: “…, Isn’t it really better to tell them they’re sinners who need to make a decision for Christ? . . . If you tell your children they’re Christians, aren’t you just encouraging formalism? How do you know that they’re Christians? You can’t see into their heart to see if they’re regenerated, can you? … “.

    Can you point to any Scripture in the Bible that teaches us that the decision for Christ rests upon the Elected, Called and Chosen Faithful decision?

    I believe if you can do that you will have laid a good foundation for the next questions you asked the Pastor on formalism, on bearing the Fruits of Repentance and on being validated by your elders and peers and those younger than you in the God Chosen fellowship you were brought into to be in covenant with, that Covenant of Grace?

    If you cannot, you just might have then been given a revelation of the Truth separates the Church in the world and that sets Her free from ourselves, this world and the devils.

  175. curate said,

    October 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Ron, thanks for making an argument from the text, and the original language too.

    Part of the point I am making is that people are getting their theology from other people, instead of doing the hard work of engaging the text, and reading the scripture closely and carefully.

    The views of the Doctors must be treated with respect, as I said, and we need them to help us understand the Bible. However, the authority of the Bible itself must work out in practice, not just theory.

    That means arguing from whole passages of scripture first and foremost. I have not seen much of that .

    I will look at your argument in my Greek text in the morning, before replying to your point.

  176. curate said,

    October 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Michael, i am happy to make an argument. Before I do so, could you help me assess whether you are capable of judging me? What is your training and experience? Thanks.

  177. michael said,

    October 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Curate,

    I am a trained and ordained Minister and been a part of one organization for over 35 years.

    I am not from the Presbyterian denomination although my group are being awakened to a deeper sense of one being “reformational”.

    What does that matter in any event? You have been judging quite well in here and I believe it would be good for you to be judged now; don’t you?

    By the way of information, I am assuming you minister in England?

  178. Dean B said,

    October 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Roger

    “Before I do so, could you help me assess whether you are capable of judging me? What is your training and experience?”

    Are you being serious?

  179. Hugh McCann said,

    October 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Dean, Michael,

    If your CV is wanting, then you’re in the wrong business.

    If you’re just another theological slattern, pack off.

    We’ve only time for REAL men of God, REAL scholars, ‘ere!

  180. Hugh McCann said,

    October 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Apart from curate & bradley & green, the banal and the illiterate, the parochial and the barbarous would blogging roughshod over the erudite, the refined, and the oh-so-orthodox.

  181. curate said,

    October 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I would still like to hear from anyone who can answer why it is that many hundreds, if not thousands, of acts of obedience can be called “one act”. Ron has had a go. Anyone else?

    I asked first, so have the right to hear a proper reply before making my own exegesis.

  182. Reed Here said,

    October 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Roger: bad form. Ron’s response deserves quid pro quo. Make your point or move on.

  183. October 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Curate,

    Since ‘enos is the same whether it’s neuter or masculine, many scholars take it to be the latter since that is how it appears in the immediate context.

    So it should read, “The righteousness of the one man” rather than “The one act of righteousness of the man….”

    Hope that helps.

  184. michael said,

    October 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Hugh,

    thanks for the huge tip!

    I would appreciate curate to at least be God fearing enough give an exegesis as requested?

    I believe I do have a Biblical warrant to take a stand here as an imitator of God and as one of His beloved children, at least:

    “… Eph 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

  185. michael said,

    October 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Pastor Stellman,

    just curious, from what translation are you finding that word enos?

    I am assuming you are referring to Romans 5:18?

  186. October 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    It’s the Greek word for “one.” Scholars say it can either modify “act” (if taken in the neuter) or “man” (if taken in the masculine). I’m saying there’s good reason to take it in the masculine to mean, “the righteousness of the one man, Jesus Christ.”

    I don’t have a Bible in front of me, sorry.

  187. Ron Henzel said,

    October 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Michael,

    Given the breathing mark, the word is more properly transliterated henos, and it is not found in a translation but in original Greek of Romans 5:8, where it occurs twice. Its second occurrence in the verse is in view here.

  188. Ron Henzel said,

    October 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    A few days ago, Jonathan wrote in comment 50:

    The NPP/FVSCR was directed against *positions* which GA has determined are not confessional. The Presbyteries now have the responsibility of determining whether or not certain *persons* actually hold those positions. PCA Presbyteries ought not and cannot simply disregard the NPP/FVSCR. …

    One might disagree with their assessment (I personally haven’t read enough of Leithart to be sure one way or another), but in reading the reasons for their determination in this case, it seems to me that they don’t think Dr. Leithart actually holds the positions denounced in the NPP/FVSCR. Thus, blanket statements to the effect that PNW is a “rogue” presbytery would seem unwarranted.

    The irony here is that, in the “Report of [the] Ad Interim Study Committee on Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn Avenue Theology,” Peter Leithart is identified as a Federal Vision proponent, and his writings are among those quoted (I think his may have even been quoted first) in order to establish what Federal Vision actually teaches—mostly on the doctrine of justification, in Leithart’s case, where he is cited as writing that “the Reformation doctrine has illegitimately narrowed and to some extent distorted the biblical doctrine [of justification].” (Reference: Peter Leithart, “Judge Me, O God: Biblical Perspectives on Justification,” in The Federal Vision, ed. Steve Wilkins and Duane Garner [Monroe, LA: Athanasius Press, 2004], 209.)

    If I’m reading correctly, “the positions denounced in the NPP/FVSCR” that are pointed at Leithart (among others), are found in “IV. Declarations,” on page 2235 of the document to which I’ve linked, under points 5 and 9 (although possibly others as well).

  189. michael said,

    October 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Pastor Stellman and Ron, thanks.

    Ron, are you a Greek Scholar?

    I have two Greek manuscripts here on my computer to review verse 18 of Romans 5 and I don’t see either henos or enos. The word “one” in both of my Greek translations is εἷς heis.

    Well?

  190. michael said,

    October 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Ron,

    ok then, I found henos in the Greek interlinear.

    thanks nevertheless!

  191. October 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I have a question for Jason Stellman: Jason, in light of the following excerpts from the FV report quoting Leithart, isn’t this sufficient grounds for the SJC to take Leithart to trial once someone officially complains of NWP’s exoneration of him?

    The references in the 2007 PCA FV report on Liethart are very damaging such as these quotes from Leithart’s writings. Dealing with justification, the report quotes Leithart saying:

    “… he suggests that biblical readers will come to see that God’s judgment is “never simply a declaration that changes one’s legal standing without changing one’s condition or situation.”

    “Justification does not refer merely to a declaration that changes the legal status of Israel, but leaves them in ruin and defeat. Their justification is their deliverance from ruin, exile, and the curse.”

    “This OT background, Leithart notes, informs Paul’s theology of justification, especially in
    Romans… And because this is so, “our justification must likewise involve deliverance from the power of death and from the threat of enemies, including the enemies of sin and Satan.”

    “Leithart argues that “to be justified from sin is to be liberated.” Because sinners are united to Christ through baptism, they are “joined with the vindicated Son.” Sinners share in Jesus’ prior vindication, evidenced in his resurrection, and realize liberation from sin. This justification is realized in the present by faith, but awaits the final judgment for the full and final vindication.”

    It is noteworthy that the FV committee report quotes the same areas of Rich Lusk that are so damaging.

  192. October 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Another question for Jason Stellman:

    Jason, since the FV report instructs presbyteries to be on the look out for erroneous teaching and since Leithart is used as example of such erroneous teaching, why can’t it assume original jurisdiction like what happened in Louisiana Presbytery with Wilkins?

  193. October 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    John,

    First a complaint needs to be filed TO the PNWP about their verdict. Assuming that gets denied, then an appeal would go to the SJC. All the BCO says about this situation is that a higher court cannot overturn the decision of a lower one unless a complaint is filed. But the big question is whether the SJC (assuming it sustains the complaint) will actually overturn the verdict. It’s possible that they could sustain the complaint but let the verdict stand (which would be odd, but safe).

    What I can’t really see happening is the SJC retrying the whole case, but what do I know? I just work here….

  194. October 21, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    And my understanding is that the SJC can no longer assume original jurisdiction at the request of other presbyteries.

  195. October 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Jason, from what you just said, it does seem that it all boils down to the General Assembly deciding if it really and truly wants to rid the denomination of FV theology. It seems to me that if the GA cannot take original jurisdiction now, then this is a kind of “bureaucratic” technicality that can end up actually allowing this theology to proliferate. This means that Leithart essentially escapes on bureaucratic grounds.

  196. Jack Bradley said,

    October 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Reed, thanks for the offer of allowing me to post a very brief excerpt and a link, to a good friend’s blog, where the entire excerpt can be found:

    http://www.dougwils.com/

    Leonard Vander Zee, Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper:

    “The New Testament understanding of the relationship of faith and baptism is that we are incorporated into Christ in baptism, and faith responds to it. Baptism is not primarily a response and follow-up to faith; faith is our response to baptism. We believe through and in our baptism.”

  197. October 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    John,

    Yes, if the SJC sustains the complaint against the PNWP’s acquittal of Leithart, but still refuses to overturn the verdict, then the PCA will officially become a denomination that considers FV theology to be within the bounds of the Westminster Standards.

    The question for many at that point (should it come) is whether to accept this decision as Christ speaking through the courts of his church, or whether to disregard the church court and seek out greener pastures.

  198. curate said,

    October 22, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Reed 183. I said to Ron that I would look at his point this morning. Did you miss that post? You have not responded to direct questions I asked you.

    I think that as a moderator you should red card the disrespect, and outright abuse, directed here at a court of your denomination. Those are Fifth Commandment sins.

    Be even handed.

  199. curate said,

    October 22, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Ron and Jason, I have first thing this morning looked at the whole verse in the Greek. There is a direct comparison between henos paraptwmatos and henos dikaiwmatos.

    Both nouns are neuter, singular, genitives. The adjective henos, while masculine, describes a neuter noun. Hence one act, not one righteous man.

    On the other hand, the KJV translates it directly thus: Rom. 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

    Notice that the KJV makes no attempt to interpret for us whether the offence refers to one act or one man. It leaves the question open. It dos not add either “man” or “act”.

    Therefore it does it comment on the AO issue, restricting itself to righteousness. Is that one act of righteousness or a whole life? On this it does not make a judgement.

    Every modern translation takes the one act line. It appears then that an overwhelming number of modern translators take the one act line.

    Ron and Jason, both of you feel the power of objection that the whole life of Christ can be called one act, which is possibly why you opt for an alternative reading.

    May I ask both of you whether you think that the “one act” translations re incorrect?

    If so, and this passage refers to a man’s righteousness, which texts would you advance to support your view that righteousness here is Christ’s entire life, not his obedience to the death of the cross, since this tradition prooftext for the AO is so inconclusive?

    According to your suggestion, the offence of one man here must be a reference to Adam’s whole life of sin as well.

    The force of the text is thus a contrast between Adam’s life of sin and Christ’s life of obedience.

    Which authorities support this reading?

  200. October 22, 2011 at 5:15 am

    To all Valiant Fighters of FV theology in the PCA:

    In light of how Jason has responded to my questions about the fallout of the Leithart trial and the distinct possibility that the General Assembly may not want to overturn the Leithart verdict, I would encourage you to one last battle stand. And, I would consider it, a “last stand.” If you know anyone in positions of influence in the PCA that you plead with them to do the right thing. The Assembly’s FV report was a good report; it even listed Leithart’s writings as indicative of what is aberrant about FV theology.

    I would encourage you men to write a plea and have Dominic Aquilla post it on the “Aquilla Report.” I know Dominic is opposed to FV theology. I think the plea should encompass a passionate exhortation for elders of your denomination to rise and “earnestly contend” for the Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Do not let bureaucratic technicalities rule your church. You know our Lord Jesus, to whom all elders are accountable to, would not be pleased with “bureaucratic” policy as the guiding policy for His precious sheep.

    Morton Smith, in his fine book, “How the Gold Becomes Dim” traced through various court decisions the eventual demise of the PCUS, and its slide into Liberalism. Bit by bit over a century, the PCUS in its General Assembly decisions failed to uphold the precious treasure committed to their charge. And, like Jesus said in his rebuke of the seven churches in Revelation, repent or He will come and remove the candlestick. The PCA, it appears, has reached the crossroads. If it fails to convict men such as Leithart of heresy, it has allowed this “cancer” to go untreated, and it will most assuredly destroy the denomination. There are also other very dangerous signs within the denomination, such as the debate over creation. There is the growing acceptability of “theistic evolution” as an acceptable understanding of Genesis.

    Concerning the Leithart trial, and even before the verdict came down, I had said on various threads that this was crucial, and that I thought the FV men knew it was crucial. I said that if Leithart goes to trial and escapes, then it will embolden FV men scattered throughout other PCA presbyteries to teach their theology unimpeded. It would not surprise me if Leithart’s friends told him to “go for it” knowing that if he could survive a heresy trial, then in one sense, they would be home free.

    The FV men are surely rejoicing over the Leithart verdict and knowing the tendency of the denomination to not want to “rock the boat” they now fill empowered to teach their theology vigorously.

    Again, I believe this to be your last stand “faithful men.” You can send a message to your churches that you will fight for truth and will encourage other faithful men in your denomination to insist that the General Assembly try Leithart and convict him.

    I assure you that other conservative Reformed denominations are watching the PCA. As one who by God’s providence has not been in the PCA for some time now (I was ordained in the PCA and pastored a church in it years ago), I am still concerned for the visible church at large. I do care. I don’t want to see heretical teaching proliferate.

    I plead with you faithful men in the PCA, love your sheep in the pews. Jesus has His precious sheep in churches where even FV men are teaching. These precious sheep need to be protected! Please fight the good fight!!

  201. Reed Here said,

    October 22, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Roger, yes I did miss your comment. You insisting from others what you already received and still have not given – that is why I pushed back. No need to insist when you already received it.

    As to your other comments, thanks for the admonition.

  202. michael said,

    October 22, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Curate/Roger,

    there you go again, “turning” the tables on these men!

    Why don’t you, in a straightforward manner, just put forth the answer to the question: “Which authorities support this reading?”

    You see, by that question, you have again put yourself on top!

    Can you show me in Scripture anywhere in Christ’s life where Jesus did that?

    And as for the verse, I read the whole thing in the Greek also.

    What is the point?

    Christ, had he just one fraction of active sin in His life, the Holy Spirit could not have vindicated Him before the Father after His death and there would therefore be no resurrection or Life available to anyone of Adam’s race!

    Hebrews establishes the force of the act, does it not?

    Heb 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
    Heb 9:25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,
    Heb 9:26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

  203. Ron Henzel said,

    October 22, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Roger,

    You wrote:

    Ron and Jason, I have first thing this morning looked at the whole verse in the Greek. There is a direct comparison between henos paraptwmatos and henos dikaiwmatos.

    Yes, and as Hodge pointed out on pages 169-170, δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος can be translated “by the offense of one” as easily as it can be translated “by one offense.” Thus the translation “by the righteousness of one” can survive on the principle of direct comparison.

    This is a good point at which to observe that Hodge was essentially defending the KJV translation of Romans 5:18:

    Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

    [Rom 5:18 KJV]

    You wrote:

    Both nouns are neuter, singular, genitives. The adjective henos, while masculine, describes a neuter noun. Hence one act, not one righteous man.

    This is an exegetical non-sequitir because it confuses natural gender with grammatical gender. All one need do to see the fallacy here is look at verses 15 and 17. In both verses, ἑνὸς παραπτώματι (henos + neuter noun) is universally translated with an English rendering meaning “the sin of one [man, i.e., Adam].”

    According to Moo, the primary reason for the shift in the translation of this verse since the English Revised Version (1885) was the absence of the article before ἑνὸς in verse 18 (the full phrase in verses 15 and 17 is τῷ τοῦ ἑνὸς παραπτώματι). That argument was already known to Hodge, and he replied to it by positing that the context already makes it clear what ἑνὸς refers to.

    Meanwhile, one cannot avoid the fact that the KJV rendering remains a valid option. In fact in his commentary on Romans Joseph Fitzmyer has difficulty choosing between it and the more modern translations (cf. 420) and seems to prefer the sense given by the KJV.

  204. Hugh McCann said,

    October 22, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Hear, hear, Ron Henzel! :)

  205. Hugh McCann said,

    October 22, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Pastor Otis & Curate (et. al.),

    It seems the context of Rom 5:18 helps, no?

    6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

    12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

    15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

    18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

    OTIS writes: The FV men cannot bring themselves to believe that Romans 5 sets forth the parallel of Adam’s one act of disobedience with Jesus’ one act of obedience that brings justification for all in union with Him.

    CURATE: Prove him wrong. Answer the following, or please cease & desist.

    OTIS has it: The historic Reformed position on Romans 5 is that Jesus kept the law perfectly as the representative head in the covenant of grace in contrast to Adam’s failure, as the representative head of the human race. Adam personally failed; Jesus personally succeeded. How do we get the perfect righteousness needed for eternal life? By our own personal works? NO! But, by believing by faith alone in what Jesus did in our place. By faith, we receive all of Christ’s righteousness; it is imputed to us as if we personally did it.

    AND, My final statement on the exegesis of Romans 5 is that a proper understanding of the contrast between the nature of Adam’s transgression and its effect with the nature of Jesus’ one act of obedience demands that we see imputation of Jesus’ law keeping for us.

    Finally, CALVIN: the papists or Schoolmen, they are doubly deceived here both because they call faith an assurance of conscience in awaiting from God their reward for merits and because they interpret the grace of God not as the imputation of free righteousness but as the Spirit helping in the pursuit of holiness.

    AND, We hence see how absurdly the schoolmen have defined grace, who have taught that it is nothing else but a quality infused into the hearts of men: for grace, properly speaking, is in God; and what is in us is the effect of grace.

    Thank you, Pastor Otis. You’ve been casting many a pearl here. May God bless your efforts.

  206. Hugh McCann said,

    October 22, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Curate: You may feel that the moderators have allowed some of us to stay here too long (we’re tempted to say the same of you, BTW), but even you should commend these (Reed, Lane, Bob) for abiding by Gal. 6:1, II Tim. 2:23ff and other such apostolic instructions. They have longsuffered extremes of both sides.

    Some of us have no patience for your blather and will risk the ultimate censure, banishment. Point at us your pious finger & reference yet another commandment; your words are as meaningless to me as sound teaching appears to be to you, as witnessed by your obstinence against those here who have well answered you. You refuse to answer calls for your exegesis; we call on you to repent if you favor the Federal Vision heresy.

    We speak & write the truth in love, and hope to battle to the end any who oppose our Lord Jesus Christ with their blending of merit & grace, mixing of law & gospel, confusing of works & faith, thus perverting the gospel of God’s absolute, sovereign grace and denigrating his effectual, electing love.

    Some of us may lack the tact & finesse & letters of our brethren. I’ll try to err on truth’s side, though my enemies no doubt find me as noxious as I do them. To these, I want to be the savor of death.

    These snakes, wolves, swine, and canines deserve as much respect & kindness as the vermin which Christ and the Apostle compare them to. There comes a time to move beyond instruction & reproof of supposed brethren, as when these prove obstinate and unteachable. II Tim. 3:16f apply to ‘the man of God,’ not to false teachers.

  207. Hugh McCann said,

    October 22, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Bob, Lane, Reed,

    Thanks for letting the ‘bad guys’ post here. They have helped provide stark contrast to the truth-tellers, and by their fruits we do know them!

  208. curate said,

    October 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Ron, are you arguing that the disobedience of one man is one act or many? Is it his disobedience in the Garden, or his whole life of disobedience? If there is to be a comparison between the two Adam’s, and Christ’s righteousness is his whole life, that would need Adam’s disobedience to be his whole life too, not so?

    Are you arguing that Adam’s one act of disobedience brought death, but Christ’s whole life brought life? Where is the comparison then?

    You did not comment on the fact that the KJV does not choose either act or man, but leaves it up to the exegete. Perhaps you think it chooses “man”implicitly?

  209. michael said,

    October 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Hugh,

    you “surprised” the day lights into me!

    Thanks!!

    I wanted to note something I discovered about the written Aramaic and those initial verses quoted by you from Romans just above.

    You quoted Romans:

    6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

    The written Aramaic alphabet and the written Hebrew are very close in their written form.

    The word righteous in Hebrew and Aramaic is very similar in written form to the naked eye. So is the word wicked. The only thing that distinguishes the two words, righteous and wicked, is one little tittle or jot. Just one little mark on a page is all. It is just like what Ron Henzel was pointing out to me, above, about the “breathing” mark on the Greek word ‘enos being transliterated henos.

    In one English translation (Lamsa Translation) from the Aramaic into English, when you read that verse it reads from Aramaic to English this way:

    “But Christ at this time, because of our weaknesses, died for the sake of the “wicked”. Hardly would any man die for the “wicked”; but for the of the good, one might be willing to die.”

    Just the thought of “what” Christ did, as His whole Life or just one act or “equitable deed/justification” done, Romans 5:16, we are the ones God “acquits”, by an act of acquittal/justification, Romans 5:18 seems overwhelming to me at times, especially when I am under some specific conviction of the Holy Spirit!

    The English Standard version:

    Rom 5:16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification/δικαίωμα
    .
    Rom 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
    Rom 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification/δικαίωσις
    and life for all men.

    The Amplified Bible renders into English, I believe, a more polished English manner and sense so that novices as I am can understand the meaning the Holy Spirit conveys to my spirit of what Christ did for me so that I am Elected and Saved by His equitable deed; and what I receive, nevertheless, because of that, a sinner and sinful man is a verdict of acquittal and not only that, but I receive all the promises of God for an eternal inheritance, to boot!:

    Nor is the free gift at all to be compared to the effect of that one [man's] sin. For the sentence [following the trespass] of one [man] brought condemnation, whereas the free gift [following] many transgressions brings justification (an act of righteousness). For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God's] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man's false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men.

  210. curate said,

    October 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Ron, I am gratified that you acknowledge that your reading is the minority one. I think that the fact that so many experts go with “one act” counts heavily against you. I do not say that it is conclusive, but weighty.

    I do not grant that the KJV takes your line, though. It does not choose, but leaves us with the literal translation, omitting “man” and “act”, because the Greek does.

    On the reading, “the righteousness of one”, what in the text tells you that this righteousness is his whole life, not his submission to the cross?

    For the record, the AV is superior to the more paraphrasing modern versions, in that it leaves room for the exegete.

  211. curate said,

    October 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Michael, you are reading motives into my posts. You cannot read my heart, so stop trying.

    If the text under discussion compares the two Adams, and the AO line is taken, the parallel with Adam demands that his one act of disobedience be his whole life too, or the comparison fails.

    I ask which authorities agree with this, because I cannot think of one. That would suggest that it is not a reading adopted by anyone who knows his oats.

    May I suggest for your calm consideration that you are importing things into the word “obedience”? Are you not reading obedience as “obeying Moses”? Why is it not “obeying God in an evangelical/gospel command”, the command to die on the cross?

    Romans 5.6 sets the scene by saying that we are saved by Jesus dying for the ungodly. No mention of Moses. I think that you are importing Moses into an entire passage, whereas it explcitly says it is about the cross.

  212. curate said,

    October 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    More than that, Paul says that the Law of Moses has nothing whatsoever to do with our justification. It is apart from the law, having nothing to do with it. It is only because of the hilasterion of the cross. Romans 3.

    I suggest to you that the mutual exclusivity of law and gospel applies to both us and the Lord Jesus. Moses did not command Christ to die. God did.

  213. Hugh McCann said,

    October 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Romans 5:

    15 But not as the offence,
    so also is the free gift.

    For if through the offence of one many be dead,
    much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

    16 And not as it was by one that sinned,
    so is the gift:

    for the judgment was by one to condemnation,
    but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

    17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one;
    much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

    18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation;
    even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

    19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,
    so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

    20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded,
    grace did much more abound:

    21 That as sin hath reigned unto death,
    even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

  214. Hugh McCann said,

    October 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Doesn’t the repetitious contrast of the Apostle Paul make this even the teensiest bit clear?!

  215. Eileen said,

    October 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Pastor Keister, you are in very good company historically, and this is not the first time that this line of attack has been used. I don’t even have an M.Div, so I’m just going to offer a couple of quotes from Scripture for the gentle readers of GB to consider:

    Acts 4 NASB, [emphasis mine]: The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

    5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

    8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is

    “‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’[a]

    12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

    13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

    18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

    21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.

    Matthew 11:25 NASB: At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.

    There is truly nothing new under the sun. FV men and their sympathizers and enablers are wise in their own eyes. They are steeped in the wisdom of men who profess to be wise but are fools. Would that they were mere children who could see the truth of Scripture. May all of God’s people flee from these and all other false teachers and pretenders.

  216. Reed Here said,

    October 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Roger, 212: you are demanding a degree of comparison between Adam and Christ that neither the text requires, nor does their actual record of obedience fit.

    Adam and Jesus are not comparable to one another, point for point, across their whole lives, in every detail. This is particularly the case with their obedience/disobedience.

    Adam began in a state of fallable righteousness. That state was lost at the moment of his ONE ACT of disobedience. The curse then confirms him in a state of sinfulness, from which all his other acts of disobedience flowed.

    Jesus was born under this state of sin (in this fallen realm), yet without the fallenness of his nature. His obedience then was measured not in one act at one moment, but over the course of his life. Had he failed once, his record of obedience would have been lost. Thus it is exactly the record of all Jesus’ acts of obedience over his ONE LIFE that is in view in the contrast with Adam.

    ONE initiating act of sin introduced sinfulness to all. ONE life of sinlessness provides the solution for the sinfulness of all (the elect). The parallel Paul provides is perfectly fitted to both the similarities and contrasts between Adam and Jesus.

    No need for yet another class on pretzel twisting.

  217. michael said,

    October 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Curate/Roger,

    first, if I have in anyway offended you by my comments, I accept that responsibility and repent. I ask for your forgiveness and restoration man to man?

    As for the point you are making about the Law of Moses, I would only respond roughly and raw, this way; and this may sting you, yet to know, that you are, in my humble opinion, [me as an unlearned, unlettered man] say you are conflating the Law of Moses improperly to the covenants of works and Grace, are you not?

    The argument centers around the issue Dr. Leithart has been charged with as heresy in the trial the prosecution brought about against him with formal charges from that Presbytery of the PCA, does it not? Is he not being charged with making the covenant of works blend or join together at the hip so to speak with the Covenant of Grace thereby blurring the purpose of the two so there is no clear Gospel distinction between them? In effect, I am confused by his teachings and that of the Federal Visionists.

    Am I saved by Grace through Faith alone or do I have to do something in conjunction with what Christ did to enter into the Eternal Inheritance by the Eternal Redemption Christ gained for me, too, by His own Blood?

    The Law of Moses came in its entirety (“after” Adam failed the work of righteousness given to him) to a people group selected from the masses of people groups at that predetermined future date through Moses; Abraham’s posterity through Isaac. And for that matter, these laws of righteousness given through sinful Moses were given only to one of Abraham’s bloodlines, not to all that came out of Abraham’s loins; his son Ishmael, son Isaac and the many sons of Keturah.

    Parenthetically, Adam was suppose to fail at keeping the Covenant of Works not the Covenant of the Law of Moses. He was created to be a blameless man made out of the red dirt of the earth, at first, to be sure, but, he was never created to overcome Satan and all the wicked forces of darkness of spiritual wickedness. After the encounter with his fallen wife, the mother of all living human flesh, he disobeyed God, which is what he was created to do according to the design of his human nature. Though he was blameless and sinless at the beginning, he was created to fail God before the evil forces of wickedness and darkness. It is not the creatures of this blameless then fallen creation, Adam that Christ was sent to die for, nor the Holy Spirit was sent to help. They are sent only to those foreknown (the Elect and Chosen separated out of the this world of humanity) that He chose before the foundation of the world, so that we could live holy and blameless before Him in His imputed Righteousness and not in our works of righteousness. No “man” is holy and blameless before Him, Him who seals His Own in this life to His Eternal Glory in Christ by the works of righteousness done. Only those born again.

    Remember, the Covenant of Grace only applies to the “Elect”, to those predetermined to exist in this creation before the very foundation of the earth was laid; those whom he (the Father) chose in him (the Son, Jesus Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we (the Elect) who He has placed His seal on by the sanctification work of the Holy Spirit. We are the ones called to be holy and blameless before him in this life. As has been established, Christ did not come to die for “all” men. [Heb 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
    ]

    The Covenant of works applies to all of us in this life, the Elect and non-elect alike. It also includes and notwithstanding, the Evil One, the ruler of this age, too, and to all ages that came after Adam’s fall, even to the very last age of this creation. We eagerly await Christ’s return, not for sin but rather as it is described at Hebrews 9,Heb 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
    Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

    Jesus and the Children share in flesh and blood. Christ came the first time to redeem the Elect from the posterity of Adam’s race. He was sent to destroy Satan and Death and all adversaries of the souls of the Elect, Psalm 143, by submitting to an unjust predetermined death by the hands of ungodly men and then afterwards,He was vindicated by the Spirit and declared Righteous by His Own resurrection from the dead, so that we, too, can be beneficiaries of the promises of the Covenant of Grace effected by His atoning propitious death, burial and resurrection in this life. All of us are failing (some of us miserably) under the covenant of works righteousness. If you say you are without sin, you are a liar. None of us fail living conjointly with Christ under the Covenant of Grace because as Peter said, we are being kept for the day of salvation by the power of God, not by our own strength and power.

    I like what Hugh said above and I have repeatedly said above, myself. What your argument does, Roger, is “blunt” the clarity of the two covenants (works and Grace). The Law covenant was introduced to the world through the Jews to give eyes and sense to all those who are sitting in darkness “once” it comes alive within our spirits, no matter how blameless we are when it comes alive within. The Law is pointing us to keep the Laws of Moses. Many have lived and have been living blameless lives morally before God. That doesn’t save anyone! Simeon is a good example of one being who was alive living blameless before God, living a just and devout life under the Law of Moses, Luke 2:21-32. The Apostle Paul claimed as much for himself, too, blameless according to the Law.

    Living a moral life justifies no one! Christ became sin for us (the equitable deed) so we can be imputed with the Righteousness of God through Him, (the acquittal), not by His righteousness infused so we can then be judged to have or have not led moral lives. It is only through Christ, alone, by the Holy Spirit, that we have been given free access to the Our Eternal, Sinless, Holy Righteous Father and so it is through Christ’s life, death and resurrection that we approach the Throne of Grace to obtain the blood purchased Eternal benefits of His Mercies and Grace having been called into this Kingdom by the God of all Grace Who calls us to His Eternal Glory in Christ.

    Again, I repeat, please accept my repentance and apology for offending you, Roger by any of my comments directed toward you.

  218. Hugh McCann said,

    October 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Christ’s enemies propound that the disobedience of one man is merely one act.

    That his disobedience in the Garden doesn’t destroy all mankind (including himself), apart from sola gratia.

    They must mingle Adam’s sin, works, and God’s grace.
    They must mingle our sins, works, and God’s grace.
    The blood of Christ cleanses neither them nor their votaries from all sin, it merely mingles with their works to make them acceptable if

    They cannot see or assert that Adam’s one act of disobedience brought death to all mankind, and that Christ’s entire life of righteousness is imputed to the elect.

    They squawk, “If there is to be a comparison between the two Adams, and Christ’s righteousness is his whole life, that would need Adam’s disobedience to be his whole life too, not so?”

    They are expert in the black art of equivocation.

    They, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, go about to establish their own righteousness, and have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

    They hate that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

    Instead they parse and snipe and lie in wait to deceive.
    They lead their visually-impaired lemmings into the ditch.
    And on Sunday, many of them will dress like mama to play papa.

  219. David Gadbois said,

    October 22, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    It should be noted that Ron Henzel’s exegesis is not the only way of understanding Romans 5 as supporting the imputation of Christ’s active obedience in reference to the one act of obedience standing in for Christ’s life of obedience. Others who have adopted the normal translation have made various arguments to this effect.

    John Murray argued:

    If the question be asked how the righteousness of Christ could be defined as “one righteous act,” the answer is that the righteousness of Christ is regarded in its compact unity in parallelism with the one trespass, and there is good reason for speaking of it as the one righteous act because, as the one trespass is the trespass of the one, so that one righteousness is the righteousness of the one and the unity of the person and his accomplishment must always be assumed.

    In Counted Righteous in Christ John Piper argued:

    …the word translated “act of righteousness” in verse 18, ESV (dikiaiomatos) is used in Romans 8:4 to refer, in the singular, to the entire scope of what the law requires: “…so that the requirement (dikaioma) of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” This suggests that in Paul’s mind the “one act of righteousness” that resulted in our justification may well refer to the entire obedience of Jesus viewed as a single whole – as one great act of righteousness- rather than any single act he did in life.

    and also:

    …does not the word “obedience” in Romans 5:19 without any limitation itself provide [the clue that Christ's obedience included his previous life of obedience to the law]? [Robert] Gundry gives the impression that it is easy and natural to picture Christ’s death as a single act of obedience. But is it? Were there not many acts of obedience in Jesus’ final days and hours? Are we to think of the obedience of Gethsemane, or the obedience when the mob took him away, or the obedience when he was interrogated, or the obedience when he was crowned with thorns, or the obedience when he was flogged, or the obedience when he was nailed to the cross, or the obedience when he spoke words of love to his enemies, or the obedience when he offered up his spirit to his Father? Is not Gundry treating the death of Christ as a unified act involving many acts of obedience? If so, then it seems arbitrary to draw the line at some point in the final hours or days of Jesus’ life and say that the obedience before that hour was not part of the righteousness that “leads to justification” (v. 18) or part of the “obedience” that constitutes many righteous (v.19).

  220. Hugh McCann said,

    October 22, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    DJG’79 @221 ~ Amen.
    Thank you for Murray, Piper, & Gundry.

    Do FV folk deny original sin?

  221. curate said,

    October 23, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Ron, I freely concede your point that grammatical and natural gender are different things. Good point well made. However, they are not always utterly dissimilar, as you know, but may well be an initial indicator, albeit not necessarily.

    The Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as “it” in Greek, as are men. So then, while grammatical gender may or may not be an indicator, the real test is context. And that is where I have made my main point.

    Adam’s obedience is clearly one act of disobedience, as all, everywhere, and at all times, agree. It is being compared with Christ’s one act of righteousness. That act is his submission to the cross.

    How do I know that? The passage itself mentions it a little earlier:

    Rom. 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, …

    There is no mention of Moses’ Law anywhere in the wider passage. Indeed, it has been excluded already in chapter 3.16 ff: God’s righteousness has been revealed at the present time in the atoning sacrifice of the cross. This is apart from Moses’ Law.

    If you wish to include it, as you do, there would have to be weighty textual reasons for it, which appear to be absent.

  222. curate said,

    October 23, 2011 at 12:55 am

    David G, I was waiting for you to quote John Murray on “compact unity” of his life and death, because “the righteousness of the one and the unity of the person and his accomplishment must always be assumed”.

    I greatly admire John Murray. His Romans was the very first commentary I ever bought. However, I thought that he was tainted in your eyes as a heretic? But no matter.

    Note that Murray makes no argument to support the claim that “the unity of his Person and accomplishment must always be assumed.” He simply asserts it.

    I believe that this assumption is the real root of the AO issue for all its supporters. There is no proof for it. It is just assumed in advance on systematic grounds, and then read into the text.

    Someone unforgettably said that this assertion of Murray’s is not exegesis, but ventriloquism.

    That summarises all of the arguments for AO.

    Piper mentions “the righteous requirement of the law” in support of AO in chapter 5. But Paul has made a clear distinction between the law and the gospel. The gospel is apart from the law. The gospel also has a righteous requirement – the cross. Indeed, Paul calls it God’s righteousness in Romans 1.16 and 3.16 ff. Legal and evangelical righteousness are not always, even necessarily, the same thing.

    The two kinds of obedience, legal and evangelical, answers your third quote as well.

  223. curate said,

    October 23, 2011 at 1:12 am

    218 Michael. You have not offended me, so there is no need for apology. Just stop imputing motive to me, and we will be fine.

    On confusing the covenants of grace and law, as you see it, I am able to help you see that we are not.

    First, as a matter of historical fact, Dr. Leithart has been acquitted by the court, on the considered judgement of his peers, who include a previous Moderator, the longest serving minister in PNW, and a Westminster Professor.

    That means that they do not share your concerns about conflating/confusing grace and works, resulting in the loss of the gospel.

    They deny that such is the case.

    This is why: the absolute distinction between grace and law must be confined to election, justification, regeneration, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and not extended to the rest of the gospel, or, indeed, to entire covenants.

    The requirement of godliness placed upon Christians, meaning obedience to God’s law, is on no way abrogated. As James says, can a faith without works save you?

    Even Moses’ covenant is considered to be an application of the covenant of grace! Yes, you read that correctly. Notwithstanding its legal aspects, it advanced the previous Abrahamic covenants of promise, that Paul explicitly calls the gospel.

    In the same way the New Covenant, while containing free grace at its heart, also demands obedience to laws, insisting that those who do not obey will not see God.

    As long as works are not smuggled into election, justification, regeneration, and the free gift, the gospel of free grace is safe. As long as works are insisted upon, godliness and holiness are safe. Together we have the whole gospel.

  224. Ron Henzel said,

    October 23, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Roger,

    You wrote:

    Ron, are you arguing that the disobedience of one man is one act or many? Is it his disobedience in the Garden, or his whole life of disobedience? If there is to be a comparison between the two Adam’s, and Christ’s righteousness is his whole life, that would need Adam’s disobedience to be his whole life too, not so?

    Analogies never “stand on all fours.” And in any case, the point Paul is driving at in Romans 5:12-21 is not whether both federal headships (Adam’s and Christ’s) rest entirely one one act, but the fact that each federal headship resulted in opposite effects for “the many” (used 5 times) or “all” (also used 5 times) in Adam and in Christ. And even if it were valid to limit δι’ ἑνὸς δικαιώματος in Rom. 5:18 to the obedient “act” of Christ’s atoning death, unlike Adam eating the fruit that death was not a single, isolated act but a series of acts spread out over hours. Like it or not—and admit it or not—your argument still ends up with Christ’s “act” in verse 18 actually being a collective of individual acts, which also leaves plenty of room for the exegesis of Murray and Piper that David supplied above.

    You wrote:

    Are you arguing that Adam’s one act of disobedience brought death, but Christ’s whole life brought life? Where is the comparison then?

    Again, the context of Romans 5 demonstrates that Paul’s comparison is not dependent on the singularity of the “act.” It’s not even his point. His point is, to paraphrase: “Adam’s sin is the basis of condemnation for all; Christ’s obedience is the basis of justification for all.” Just as people who press the prhase εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους (“for all men”) in verse 18 too far end up in error (i.e., universalism), so also those who press δι’ ἑνὸς δικαιώματος (“one righteousness” or “righteousness of one”) too far also end up in error (i.e., denial of the imputation of Christ’s active obedience).

    Arguments that insist on keeping to the precise wording of the text are all fine and good, but once severed from the scope of New Testament theology on the same subject they are quite capable of ending up defending error.

    You wrote:

    You did not comment on the fact that the KJV does not choose either act or man, but leaves it up to the exegete. Perhaps you think it chooses “man”implicitly?

    Yes; I find that conclusion inescapable when I compare the KJV’s translation of ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in verse 18 with its translation of the same phrase in verse 15, where the sense of “one man” (i.e. Adam) is an absolute requirement since it is clearly parallel to the phrase τοῦ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (“of the one man Jesus Christ”).

    You wrote:

    Ron, I am gratified that you acknowledge that your reading is the minority one. I think that the fact that so many experts go with “one act” counts heavily against you. I do not say that it is conclusive, but weighty.

    I did not acknowledge that. All we know is that the majority of modern translations have switched over the past 125 years, and even then some (like the ESV) retain the KJV rendering in their margins. I’ve not taken a nose-count on exegetes since the change, let alone over the past few hundred years.

    You wrote:

    I do not grant that the KJV takes your line, though. It does not choose, but leaves us with the literal translation, omitting “man” and “act”, because the Greek does.

    See my remarks above on this point.

    You wrote:

    On the reading, “the righteousness of one”, what in the text tells you that this righteousness is his whole life, not his submission to the cross?

    Please see the remarks in my first paragraph above, and then refer to Philippians 3:9 and 2 Corinthians 5:21.

    You wrote:

    For the record, the AV is superior to the more paraphrasing modern versions, in that it leaves room for the exegete.

    That’s an interesting view. I will have to think about it.

  225. October 23, 2011 at 7:25 am

    It is clear from the FV men that they do not like imputation. They do all they can to avoid it. Why? They have explained multiple times that “faith” in their thinking is our “faithful obedience.”

    It is clear from Leithart’s own statements that he defines faith this way. Leithart admits that water baptism does confer regeneration; he does admit that the saving benefits of Christ in union with Christ in however you want to view Romans 5 can be lost.

    Several of you have given fine exegesis of Romans 5 and the meaning of Christ’s one act of obedience, be it covering his whole life, or a translation of the righteousness of one which encompasses his whole life.

    FV men of which it sure looks like Curate is one of, must avoid any notion of “the active obedience of Christ” (imputation). Why would one not want Christ’s crediting of law keeping to us unless we want OUR LAW KEEPING as imperfect as it may be.

    It is word games! Word games! that the FV is playing with us in order advance a works righteousness. Norman Shepherd, Rich Lusk, and Leithart adopt the same meaning of union with Christ; all adopt the same meaning of the meaning of faith as “covenantal obedience.” All adopt the same position of denying imputation of righteousness to us. All believe initial justification can be lost; all believe OUR WORKS is what justifies in the final judgment; all believe the same on baptism.

    Do you see the pattern? This is the last stand of the PCA, I am telling you unless the General Assembly overrules the Leithart case. I will assure you if the GA doesn’t overturn the verdict, then this is assuredly the “green light” to every FV in the country to say, “My view is exactly like Leithart, and since the GA has no problem with it, then you cannot discipline me in my presbytery over it.”

  226. Sean Gerety said,

    October 23, 2011 at 9:06 am

    IMO you don’t take it far enough. If the GA doesn’t overturn the Meyers exoneration and the Lawrence verdict in addition to the Leithart one then this is assuredly the “green light” to every FV in the country to say, “My view is exactly like [fill in the blank as either Meyers, Lawrence, or Leithart as any one of the three will do], and since the GA has no problem with it, then you cannot discipline me in my presbytery over it.”

    IMO the great danger is that the GA will in their confused wisdom (after all they already upheld the exoneration of FV TE Joshua Moon at the presbytery level) will continue to act like wet blankets and send a mix message to the churches. That would be equally disastrous, arguably more so as pastors and pew-ons will be told the FV is fine just not the version of it advanced by X.

    Plus, a mixed set of decisions will make it more difficult for remaining Christian pastors and church members to justify separating from a denomination which tolerates and allows the preaching of the true Gospel along with the phony FV/NPP one. People will be debating forever whether or not the PCA really holds to the Gospel. No, they have three chances right now to stop the spread of the FV.

    They must act decisively and correctly in all three cases and not one of these men can be let off on a technicality. I’m not at all optimistic given the history of the PCA so far.

  227. michael said,

    October 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Roger,

    ” Just stop imputing motive to me, and we will be fine.”

    in light of Jeremiah 17:1-10 your motive and mine need to always be in view, don’t you think?.

    I see from your arguments they lend towards the arguments of some men other than the men who actually wrote Scripture by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

    Roger,

    “First, as a matter of historical fact, Dr. Leithart has been acquitted by the court, …”.

    So what? That would not be the first time such a reality has ever happened, that a group of men would rule adversely to others within the Faith. It still does not establish the issues clearly being argued against you and the Federal Vision proponents in here.

    Ok Roger, let’s see if you have lost your way and lost the cutting edge of the Gospel?

    I asked you in an earlier response to you: “Am I saved by Grace through Faith alone or do I have to do something in conjunction with what Christ did to enter into the Eternal Inheritance by the Eternal Redemption Christ gained for me, too, by His own Blood?”

    What is you answer to those questions?

    Roger,

    “… and not extended to the rest of the gospel, or, indeed, to entire covenants.”

    Hmmmm, can you expand that some more? What do you mean by “not extended to the rest of the Gospel?

    What is not covered in one’s “…election, justification, regeneration, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, …”?

    This is where it seems to me it falls apart? Is there something more to the Gospel of the Kingdom than one’s election, justification, regeneration, and the gift of the Holy Spirit for salvation?

    Roger,

    “The requirement of godliness placed upon Christians, meaning obedience to God’s law, is on no way abrogated. As James says, can a faith without works save you?”

    Here, too, it seems to me you might be in error on what that means?

    There is no requirement of godliness placed on me under the Covenant of Grace. Under the legal schemes, the covenant of works and the Law of Moses there certainly is.

    I would proffer several verses of more that I could post to carry over my point, here.

    1Ti 1:5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

    Heb 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
    Heb 6:2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
    Heb 6:3 And this we will do if God permits.

    1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
    1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
    1Pe 1:5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    No one is arguing that the Law of Moses is not holy, righteous and good.

    God is Holy, Righteous and Good. The Word of God and the Law of Moses is equally Holy, Righteous and Good. We by being conjoined to Christ are Holy, Righteous and Good, even though we sin and continue to sin until our dying breath and we, too, place out of our corrupted flesh, Adam’s nature.

    What we are saying is you are taking away Grace from the Elect and putting a burden of works righteousness on the Elect making this sort of fruitful life the final requirement for one’s Election and participation in God’s Righteousness, that that is Holy, Righteous and Good.

    What ever happened to the revelation within the Ten Commandments, especially this portion of one of them?:

    Exo 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,
    Exo 20:6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    Here God obligates Himself to “our obedience”, a work of righteousness that we have done and do.

    “… Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–
    Rom 5:13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
    Rom 5:14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
    Rom 5:15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

    Here God obligates Christ for us who cannot keep the Commandments!

    As has been said and I suppose you adhere,

    Act 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    If there is no one else available to me for me to be saved, why should I accept Dr. Leithart’s argument and your contention that his argument is correct and what we in our own unique ways are arguing is not?

    Your contention being:

    “In the same way the New Covenant, while containing free grace at its heart, also demands obedience to laws, insisting that those who do not obey will not see God”.

    Roger, I just don’t see it nor have I been given that kind of faith. I don’t see the Faith once delivered to the Saints as being like the “faith” that is demanding obedience to laws, as you say.

    My Bible says:

    Mat 1:19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
    Mat 1:20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
    Mat 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
    Mat 1:22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
    Mat 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

    With your faith there is no need to hammer home Matthew 1:23!

    With your faith, I am doomed!

    I am a wretch, just as the Apostle describes sinners to be in Romans 7, a sinner in need of My Savior!

  228. curate said,

    October 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Pastor Otis, when you say that we are do not like imputation, you are completely wrong. We love it.

    Our position is that the cross is sufficient for our forgiveness and the imputation of righteous status. The cross gives us both, because they are the same thing.

    Your scheme is based upon a fallacy, the idea that the cross gives us forgiveness, and the law keeping Christ gives us righteous status. The cross takes us from sinner to neutrality, and the AO takes us from there to righteous in God’s forensic reckoning.

    Not so! In a proper court of law there are only two possible verdicts: righteous or unrighteous. Forgiveness includes the righteous status, because they cannot be separated, being one. The only alternative to unrighteous is righteous. There is no neutral position.

    Our understanding posits the true “compact unity”.

    Scripture interchanges forgiveness and righteous status everywhere, because they are one and the same thing.

    Your rants are based upon a falsity. Do not repeat this slander.

  229. curate said,

    October 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Michael, you said: :There is no requirement of godliness placed on me under the Covenant of Grace.

    If by this you mean that godliness is not a precondition of election and justification, then I fully agree.

    However, if you mean that as a justified Christian you still have no requirement of godliness placed upon you, then you are a lawless man, and you cannot be saved. Saint Paul says, Do not be deceived. Without godliness no-one will see God.

    If you mean that as a justified man you cannot perfectly keep the law, then I agree. No-one is saying that you can.

    The word of God describes imperfect believers as righteous – men like Simeon, Zechariah, Elisabeth, and Joseph. Their justification covers their sins so that in God’s reckoning their obedience is without stain.

    That is the obedience that you cannot be saved without. But there has to be true repentance, a genuine turning away from sin, from the heart.

  230. Hugh McCann said,

    October 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Lane, Reed, Sean, Michael, DaveJess, PJMO, et. al.,

    Is Curate leaving the dark side?! He said @230:

    Our position is that the cross is sufficient for our forgiveness and the imputation of righteous status. . .

    In a proper court of law there are only two possible verdicts: righteous or unrighteous. Forgiveness includes the righteous status, because they cannot be separated, being one. The only alternative to unrighteous is righteous. There is no neutral position. . .

    Scripture interchanges forgiveness and righteous status everywhere, because they are one and the same thing.

    OK, so it’s sort of hyperbolic, shorthand, Luther-kinda-talk, but hey, it ain’t FedVis!

    It IS black-or-white; one is in the kingdom or not reckoned righteous or damned. There is no FFV* tertium quid!

    And in @231: The word of God describes imperfect believers as righteous – men like Simeon, Zechariah, Elisabeth, and Joseph. Their justification covers their sins so that in God’s reckoning their obedience is without stain.

    By George, he’s got it. By George, he’s got it.

    Curate’s HATING the *Flippin’ Federal Vision! :)

  231. Hugh McCann said,

    October 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Oops, an Eats, Shoots & Leaves moment:

    “one is in the kingdom or not; reckoned righteous or damned.”

    (I’m just so excited about our curate!)

  232. Hugh McCann said,

    October 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    3. . .charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
    4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
    5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
    6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
    7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
    8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
    9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
    10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
    11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

    ~ from I Timothy 1 ~

  233. Hugh McCann said,

    October 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    . . .And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. I Cor. 6:11

    . . .the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. I John 1:7b

  234. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Roger the Curate,

    Hi. I have been thinking about and studying your argument in re: Rom 5 and the larger point of imputation.

    I would recommend (to all) reading Hodge’s commentary for a close discussion of Rom 5.18-19 and the grammatical issues surrounding δι ενος δικαιωματος and reasons for and against “one act of justification” v. “the justification of one man.”

    In my view, your interpretation is within the realm of possibility, and the fact that the NIV, NASB, and ESV agree with you is evidence in favor of your position. But take the time to read Hodge and see how someone might still disagree.

    But on the larger question of imputation, I think you may have missed a significant point.

    When we are brought into union with Christ by faith, we do not receive a share in his crucifixion only. This is where the RCs run off the rails, by making the passion of Christ the central and transformative element.

    No, we are also clothed with Christ, and on that basis, we are adopted as children of God (Gal 3). We are not clothed with Christ in His death, for in His death He was accounted accursed. No, just as our sins were imputed to Him, so also His righteous status as son was imputed to us.

    We are counted as children of the Father because we belong to Christ, the seed of Abraham.

    His righteous life is a part of that status (“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him”), and is therefore a portion of what is attributed to us in Christ.

    Opposers of IAOX argue that the concept of “merit” is outdated and not found directly in Scripture.

    Fine.

    Still and all, God sees us “clothed with Christ”, which means that he views us as righteous in the Righteous One. Merit or no, the end result is the same: Christ’s righteousness that He exhibited in His life is the same righteousness that God grounds our adoption in. We are justified, made right before God, because of Christ’s obedience in His life and not only because of His death on the cross. We are sanctified, exhibiting our justification, because of the power of Christ’s resurrection (Rom 6) and subsequent sending of the Spirit (Rom 8), and not only because of His death on the cross.

    That’s the point. A crucio-centric theology, as the RCs have, misses essential elements that Scripture brings out. The doctrine of IAOX is an attempt to express those elements. It is not grounded in a particular scheme of merit, but in the notion of being clothed with Christ.

    Blessings,

  235. Hugh McCann said,

    October 23, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Curate!

    Prove me wrong; that you are NOT a part of my #219 tirade.

    Rather, you ARE in agreement with the irenic, articulate, & orthodox Cagle @236.

    Remember, In a proper court of law there are only two possible verdicts: righteous or unrighteous. Forgiveness includes the righteous status, because they cannot be separated, being one. The only alternative to unrighteous is righteous. There is no neutral position. . .

    AMEN!

  236. Jack Bradley said,

    October 23, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Jeff @ 236,
    regarding merit, the Meyers Investigative Committee (which fully exonerated Jeffrey Meyers) cites an excellent statement from the 2005 Federal Vision Study Committee of their Missouri Presbytery (PCA):

    We affirm as well the variety of interpretation of the Westminster Standards when it comes to the nature of the covenant. On the issue of the “covenant of works,” for example, we believe that those who read the Standards as emphasizing an Adamic meritocracy and those who read them as emphasizing the gracious foundation of all God’s covenant dealings with humanity can both claim confessional integrity and historical precedent in the Westminster tradition. Neither of these views does violence to the Standards given their lack of precision regarding Adam’s covenant relationship to God.

    The presbytery’s entire exchange with Meyers (pp. 54ff) is extremely helpful, and edifying:

    http://pnwp.org/images/resources/defense-ex-10-mop-mic-report.pdf

  237. Hugh McCann said,

    October 24, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Yeah Jack, but while Murray taught it (wrongly), and Fuller fell farther away, Kline and others have corrected that course.

    http://www.meredithkline.com/klines-works/articles-and-essays/covenant-theology-under-attack-full/

    God was not gracious toward man before he needed it.

    You want pre-lapsus grace with Adam #1?

    Good grief, then you’ll never have it in the new covenant with the second Adam!

  238. David Gadbois said,

    October 24, 2011 at 2:50 am

    1. It should be reiterated to those who continue to be anxious to exonerate Leithart on the alleged basis that the imputation of Christ’s active obedience is an optional doctrine for reformed ministers that Leithart’s system also denies the imputation of Christ’s passive obedience:

    In this construction, there is no ‘independent’ imputation of the active obedience of Christ, nor even of the passive obedience for that matter; we are regarded as righteous, and Christ’s righteousness is reckoned as ours, because of our union with Him in His resurrection. What is imputed is the verdict, not the actions of Jesus, and this is possible and just because Christ is our covenant head acting on our behalf

    Of course, Paul never writes in his epistles that the verdict is imputed, but rather that Christ’s righteousness is. WCF says Christ’s “obedience” is imputed. There is zero exegetical support for Leithart’s construction, it is merely the product of his idiosyncratic unionist soteriological model. He is the one indulging in illegitimate imposition of a systematic theology construct.

    2. The insistence that there is historical precedent in regarding the pre-lapsarian covenant as having gracious features or elements does not exonerate Leithart. Even if that were true, the Scriptures and Confession still maintain that the pre-lapsarian covenant was governed by a works principle, that perfect and personal obedience was the requirement of the covenant. A demand for works is by definition not gracious. The requirement of the post-lapsarian covenant of grace, on the other hand, is the requirement of passive, extrospective faith in Christ.

    3. Curate argued:

    Piper mentions “the righteous requirement of the law” in support of AO in chapter 5. But Paul has made a clear distinction between the law and the gospel. The gospel is apart from the law. The gospel also has a righteous requirement – the cross. Indeed, Paul calls it God’s righteousness in Romans 1.16 and 3.16 ff. Legal and evangelical righteousness are not always, even necessarily, the same thing.

    But even if true this misses the entire exegetical point Piper was making, in that he was pointing to Romans 8 as another example of Paul referring to a multiplicity of moral requirements and obedient acts as a compound unity. This opens it up as a plausible exegetical option in Romans 5.

    Also, positing a distinction between legal and evangelical faith does not overturn Piper’s other exegetical objection, that Christ’s Passion and crucifixion involved not a single act but many acts of obedience. Both sides must hold to some form of “compact unity” in Paul’s language, so the question must be answered why the line is drawn in the final hours of Christ’s life?

    4. Insofar as Paul, in Romans 5, is unpacking what it means for us to have righteousness reckoned to us in Romans 4, if we identify that righteousness as being Christ’s righteousness, there is already a prima facie case for understanding this righteousness to include *all* of Christ’s acts, as all of Christ’s works constituted His righteousness. To deny this would be to posit that only some of Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us. Christ was not only righteous on account of his obedience in the final hours of His life.

  239. David Gadbois said,

    October 24, 2011 at 3:39 am

    Regarding the political ramifications of the Leithart acquittal, I’d say that I am very, very optimistic about the PCA SJC sustaining a complaint against Pacific Northwest Presbytery for this action. Much better than 50/50 odds.

    However, much damage has already been done. Some of my family live in Washington, and are in need of finding a good reformed church in their area. Even though there are no other NAPARC churches near them, I cannot in good conscience recommend that they become members of a church in the PNW Presbytery in light of recent events (and, no, they do not live within range of Rev. Stellman’s church, sadly).

  240. October 24, 2011 at 5:02 am

    [...] of different parts of the transcript has been jaw-droppingly astounding. The defense’s cross-examination of a witness against Leithart — Lane Kiester — was something worthy of a Hollywood [...]

  241. michael said,

    October 24, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Roger,

    you write: “However, if you mean that as a justified Christian you still have no requirement of godliness placed upon you, then you are a lawless man, and you cannot be saved. Saint Paul says, Do not be deceived. Without godliness no-one will see God.”

    This seems to me to be where your “faith” and mine are quite different.

    I don’t suppose you can see what you wrote there?

    To me it is just another “legal scheme” that is choking out active living Grace, Mercy and Peace from the wellspring of the doctrine of the Covenant of Grace and it makes void the salvation power that saves the soul from eternal damnation keeping the soul saved by His power?

    The free gift is “Eternal Life”; it is not now that I am saved I work Righteousness to stay saved.

    Let me remind you of what you already know and hopefully the Holy Spirit will come alive within your mind, will and emotions and some of His Sense will quicken and come alive within your soul?

    We are to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness”.

    How does a dead man do that?

    The Kingdom that we enter into through the Gospel is as the Apostle defines it, “righteousness, peace and joy” in the Holy, Eternal, Everpresent Spirit, Who is referred to at Genesis 1:2. Jesus came into this world through Him and He offered Himself as a sacrifice for His people through Him, too.

    Heb 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,
    Heb 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

    Once “born again” we are taught to be “disciples” of Christ. The Holy Spirit is our Spiritual Helper sent to conform us, that is our spirit, soul and body into “Living Epistles”. By a daily cross life we die to our self/soulish life and by the sanctification Work of the Holy Spirit we come alive being daily established into the Kingdom of Righteousness, Peace and Joy, “in the Holy Spirit”.

    I was quite “dead” in trespasses and sins when God breathed upon my dead spirit making me alive to what is “Eternal” Spiritually:

    Col 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
    Col 2:10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
    Col 2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
    Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
    Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
    Col 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
    Col 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

    I would focus on the “union” with Christ from those verses.

    You see that one Greek word συζωοποιέω suzōopoieō, which means to reanimate conjointly with (figuratively): – quicken together with Christ that is used in verse 13 is used only one other place in the New Testament at Ephesians 2:5.

    When you say there in that that I cite, above, here again: “…a justified Christian you still have no requirement of godliness placed upon you, then you are a lawless man, and you cannot be saved.” you in effect place a requirement on me that I can never live up to in this life. My natural man can not live up to any requirements.

    Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

    If I could do what you say the requirement is, there would be no need for these verses to be in the Scriptures. I will cite three that hopefully carry my point across to your spirit, soul and body seeing your flesh profits nothing from any Living Words of God:

    Joh 17:25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.
    Joh 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

    Gal 2:18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
    Gal 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
    Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
    Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

    Php 3:17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
    Php 3:18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
    Php 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
    Php 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
    Php 3:21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

    Nowhere in those verses is a requirement placed on me. The Faith once delivered to the Saints, which we are using in here as a “spiritual weapon” against this doctrine started some years ago with I guess the Louisiana Presbytery and then up in Moscow, Idaho, [the New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision movement], leaves the “Glory” of my salvation with My Savior so that when I finally reach my Eternal Abode, it will be 100% because of a Work of Righteousness that Christ has done for me and to me and through me so that I, along with everyone else, will rejoice in Him as the Federal Head of this Holy Dwelling Place of the Most High.

    My salvation comes to me everyday, even on those days when my flesh gets the better of me.

    Daily I die.

    Daily I pick up my Cross.

    Daily I live in True Fellowship with My Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and it is through Christ by One Spirit I have access to My Heavenly Father, His Grace, His Mercy and His Peace in and through Christ. It is equally true that I have true fellowship with the Living Stones of my fellowship through Christ by the same Holy Spirit. And it is equally true that I can have true fellowship with anyone who has the Spirit of Christ living actively through their lives!

  242. Hugh McCann said,

    October 24, 2011 at 11:26 am

    David @241,

    If you are correct about a complaint being sustained contra PNWP, what more would you expect from GA?

    Might PNWP be judged competent (cringe) to retry Leithart, or would the SJC intervene/ take over?

    Is there anyone who cares enough to devote the time necessary to this?

    You are >50% confident. Why?

  243. Hugh McCann said,

    October 24, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Michael @ 242,

    Nicely put. Hopefully, our curate agrees that
    Daily we die. Daily we pick up our Cross.
    Daily we live in True Fellowship with our Heavenly Father,
    and our Lord Jesus Christ,
    and that it is through Christ by One Spirit
    that we have access to our Heavenly Father,
    His Grace, His Mercy and His Peace in and through Christ!

    I pray that’s what he meant when he wrote, However, if you mean that as a justified Christian you still have no requirement of godliness placed upon you, then you are a lawless man, and you cannot be saved. Saint Paul says, Do not be deceived. Without godliness no-one will see God.

    In other words, if our curate merely means that believers are “to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” (Titus 2:12), letting our light shine before men (Matt. 5:16), and that we are ‘created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them’ (Eph 2:10), then, Amen!

    Praise God that in Christ the righteous requirement of the law has been fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:4a), and we are now to “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (8:4b).

    Rom. 8:9ff ~ You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

    If curate speaks of progressive sanctification, fine.

    But as you say, we must never think, ‘now that I am saved I work Righteousness to stay saved’!

  244. michael said,

    October 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Hugh,

    that’s a “huge/h” amen @245: “…I pray that’s what he meant when he wrote, However, if you mean that as a justified Christian you still have no requirement of godliness placed upon you, then you are a lawless man, and you cannot be saved. Saint Paul says, Do not be deceived. Without godliness no-one will see God.!”

    I am eagerly awaiting Roger’s response to us!

  245. October 25, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Sorry for giving only an incomplete name–I accidentally hit “post” while entering my name.

    Also, I should point out that my argument, while it is arguing that Rom. 5:18 does not mean “righteousness of one man,” does not entail a denial of IAOC. In fact, I think a good case for IAOC could probably be made from v. 19’s use of υπακοης του ενος, which is certainly “the obedience of the one man.”

    I have to say I’m puzzled by something David Gadbois said, though–that δικαιωσυνη doesn’t mean a verdict. If it refers to what Christ transfers to us, doesn’t it have to be a verdict, since it is a forensic righteousness, not an infused one? And a forensic or legal righteousness is just that: a verdict of not guilty.

    There does seem to be more in view in v. 19, since the verb seems to imply being placed in an office (e.g., Heb. 5:1, 7:28, 8:3, LXX passim). Thus, to be established or set in office as righteous is a positive, added status given to the many…

    Also, as per David and Jeff C, I’m not sure how the verdict rendered on us is any more of a legal fiction than Christ’s specific righteous deeds being credited to our account. Either way, they aren’t really ours apart from union with Christ…

  246. October 25, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Now my post on Rom. 5:18 seems to have disappeared. Here it is again:

    Thesis: δι’ ενος παραπτοματος and δι’ ενος δικαιωματος mean “one transgression” and “one righteous act,” respectively.

    Argument 1: by syntactical similarity–wherever ενος is used in this passage without the article, its function is that of attributive adjective.
    A. v. 12: clearly, ενος modifies “man”
    B. v. 16: ενος modifies αμαρτησαντος, which is a substantive participle, effectively a noun, thus “one man who sinned”
    C. v. 16: ενος modifies an implied παραπτοματος, which is supplied later in the verse (even Hodge recognizes this: “the first transgression of Adam, spoken of in v. 16, as the one offence,” p. 173)

    Argument 2: by syntactical dissimilarity–wherever ενος is substantive, it occurs with the definite article.
    A. v. 15: τω του ενος παραπτοματι (I should note, Ron, that you use this phrase to prove the meaning of ενος παραπτοματος in v. 18, even though the construction is not similar–it seems hard to prove that B means the same as A, when there is a relevant difference between A and B)
    B. v. 17: identical phrase to v. 15, and two additional δια του ενος, the last one clearly substantive by the appositive name Jesus Christ, and thus the former certainly substantive by contrast (with a form of βασιλευω)

    Thus, the issue is not simply neuter vs. masculine, but the syntax of usage.

    Further considerations: in v. 15 & 19, the articular substantive του ενος is always contrasted with the articular substantive οι πολλοι/τους πολλους. In v. 16, the anarthrous attributive ενος is used in parallel with the anarthous attributive πολλων. Thus, the use of ενος seems always to parallel the use of πολλοι in the same verse. But in v. 18, the παντας is used *attributively* twice, modifying ανθρωπους; this would seem to indicate that the ενος is also attributive.

    Reply to objections: with all due respect to Hodge, his objections are not very strong.
    1. He simply says that the “omission of the article is sufficiently accounted for by the fact that the one intended, viz. Adam, had been before distinctly designated.” If someone could point out how that is any kind of a defeater to the syntactical arguments I’ve made, I’d be grateful.
    2. “The comparison is between Adam and Christ, rather than between the sin of the one and the righteousness of the other.” Sorry, but this is both false dichotomy (Paul could be contrasting both the persons and the acts or legal status) and begging the question (the very question is whether Paul is in v. 18 contrasting their sin and righteousness).
    3a. “The expression, one righteousness, is awkward and unusual…” Unsupported.
    3b. “…and if [it] be rendered one righteous act, then it is inappropriate, inasmuch as we are not justified by one act of Christ, but by his whole life of obedience and suffering.” Begging the question again. One cannot cite this text to prove IAOC while using IAOC as a premise for what the key term means here.
    4. “The natural opposition between one and all requires ενος to be masculine…” I’ve already pointed out that the way the passage seems to structure this opposition is in a syntactical pattern of articular substantive one-articular substantive all or anarthrous attributive one-anarthrous attributive all, and that this fits the latter category, so this is off-target (in fairness, Hodge wasn’t trying to reply to my syntactical argument, but rather a fairly simplistic, to be honest, neuter or masculine question).

  247. curate said,

    October 25, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Rona and David

    I am perfectly comfortable with the AV version of Romans 5.18. No issues at all. I was interested in Piper’s take on Romans 8 on the righteous requirement (singular) of the law as an example of “compact unity”. I am willing to accept that it is indeed an example of “compact unity”, while suggesting that there is a simpler and more obvious explanation.

    The requirement (singular) of the law must be singular (grammatically) as well – “lawkeeping”. The gift of the Spirit is intended to empower us to stop sinning and walk in obedience to God’s commands. That is the sense of that extended passage. It fulfils the OT promise that in the New Covenant that is unlike the older one, God would write his law in Israel’s minds and hearts, and put his Spirit in them to cause them to walk in his ways. (Jeremiah and Ezekiel).

    However, Romans 8 does not have any bearing on Romans 5.18 because are two different kinds of righteousness. What needs demonstrating is that the “compact unity” righteousness of Romans 8 is the same righteousness of Christ in Romans 5.18.

    I argue that they are clearly different.

    The “righteousness of God” that has been revealed at the “present time” is not the righteousness of the law – the righteousness that was previously revealed. The newly revealed righteousness is the atoning cross, that is apart from the law. Romans 3.16 ff.

    In Romans 5 we must look first to the immediate context for the meaning of righteousness before we go looking further afield. That is plain common sense and good practise.

    In chapter 3 we have been told that the new righteousness is the cross, and that it has nothing to do with the law at all. Two different righteousnesses – cross and law, gospel and law, absolute distinction in the matter of justification.

    That precedent determines the meaning of Romans 5.

    Rom. 5:6   For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

    8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

    10. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son,

    11. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

    16. … but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.

    17. … much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

    These six examples from the immediate context are determinative for the righteousness of the one in verse 18. Every one of them references the newly revealed righteousness of the cross.

    The “compact unity” here is the one act of the cross. The “compact unity” of Romans 8 and its singular requirement is the fruit of the cross – newness of life.

    Two different kinds of righteousness.

  248. October 25, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Jeff, you said:

    “We are not clothed with Christ in His death, for in His death He was accounted accursed.”

    Aren’t we included with Christ in his death by baptism (Rom. 6)? So, his death is attributed to us: we are considered to have paid the penalty for our sins. Everyone dies for their sins: either in Christ, to be raised to new life, or on their own, to remain dead.

  249. curate said,

    October 25, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Michael

    You mentioned that you are not in a Reformed Church. What tradition are you a part of?

  250. October 25, 2011 at 2:08 am

    I had expanded originally on my response to 3a.

    “The righteousness of one” is no more supported in the NT than “one act of righteousness.” So, to call the latter more unusual than the former is entirely arbitrary and may be the fallacy of special pleading.

    One thing more, overall: it can be the case that an article can suppressed by the preposition, but in v. 17 the article is still present even directly following the preposition, when the ενος is substantive–a further dissimilarity between the unambiguous substantives and the phrase is question from v. 18.

  251. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 25, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Joshua re 250 — Yes, we are. But not exclusively. If our salvation ended with Christ’s death, we would still be in our sins.

  252. curate said,

    October 25, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Jeff, I am thinking about your post.

  253. Jack Bradley said,

    October 25, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I appreciate all the exegetical discussion on Romans 5, but the bottom line is that affirming the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ is not mandatory in subscribing to the the Westminster Confession.

    Jeffrey Meyers makes this case convincingly:
    http://pnwp.org/images/resources/defense-ex-10-mop-mic-report.pdf

    “. . . denying the imputation of the active obedience of Christ is not tantamount to denying the Reformation doctrine of justification by Christ through faith alone. Furthermore, I wish that they would stop charging those that that deny the imputation of the active obedience of Christ with rejecting the truth that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers in justification. One can reject the former and still believe the latter.”

    “. . . Van Dixhoorn was perfectly clear that the Assembly debated this issue and that theconsensus was a compromise to write the confession in such a way that allowed ministers who did not believe in the imputation of the active obedience of Christ to subscribe.”

    “. . . Robert Letham makes this same point in his new book on the Westminster Assembly: ‘The compromise on justification was carried over into both the Confession and the Larger Catechism. . . . There is no mention of the active obedience of Christ anywhere in the Assembly
    Documents’
    (The Westminster Assembly: Reading its Theology in Historical Context (Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 2009), pp. 113-4).”

    “. . . I also agree with these two affirmations from the Missouri Presbytery Report (p. 7):

    7. We affirm that in justification, God the Father imputes the righteousness of Christ to believing sinners, a righteousness that is premised upon Christ’s lifelong obedience and his obedience unto death; we deny that anyone is justified by God apart from this imputation.

    8. We affirm that God justifies sinners by imputing Christ’s righteousness to them rather than counting their sins against them; we deny that justification is grounded in any infusion of grace or that faith itself, as an act of obedience, is imputed as the ground of justification.”

    These are the affirmations that count, confessionally.

  254. October 25, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Gentlemen,

    We can debate how to translate the Greek phrases to be “one righteous act” or “the righteousness of One” all the time, but lose the biblical intention of Romans 5. We must understand that a contrast is being drawn between Adam and Christ. Adam failed by his disobedience; he lost his righteousness. On the other hand, Jesus’ one act of righteousness (law keeping seen in its entirety) does justify us.

    The Federal Vision men, want to argue that our justification is exclusively rooted in only the passive obedience of Christ. The FV men go to great lengths to refer to Jesus’ work for His people as a law keeping for them, that is, imputed to them.

    Again, we must not miss the vital point. Why do the FV men not want any imputation of a righteousness apart from some vague “union” with the death of Christ, with some kind of verdict transferred to us but not imputed to us if it means we actually are receiving Jesus’ law keeping for us?

    Need I remind the readers that the Westminster Standards repeatedly refer to the work of Christ as His death AND His obedience; hence, the notion of the passive and active obedience of Christ. Just look at Larger Catechism # 70 on justification to see this where it says, “Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; not for any things wrought in them, or done by them, but ONLY FOR THE PERFECT OBEDIENCE AND FULL SATISFACTION OF CHRIST, by God IMPUTED to them, and received by faith alone” (Emphasis mine).

    How much more clear can it be? Notice that the two aspects (perfect obedience) AND full satisfaction (atoning death). Both aspects imputed to them. And notice that our justification is not for anything wrought in them. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing in them!!! So much for Leithart’s view that we must do something or we could lose it.

    So, in Romans 5, the emphasis is that in order to be justified we must have Jesus’ righteousness in both respects, not just one.

    Why does the FV distance themselves from the notion that we must be clothed in the law keeping of Jesus? BECAUSE they want their “covenantal obedience” to be the means for their final justification. Norman Shepherd is clear about this; so is Rich Lusk; so is Steve Schlissel; so is Steve Wilkins. And, so is Peter Leithart! Leithart openly stated that our perseverance is essential to be finally justified. The Reformed Faith has always believed that one must persevere to the end, but the elect do persevere, NOT MAYBE. The Standards are clear that the elect will persevere, and cannot finally apostatize.

    No where in Scripture and our Standards can one remotely say that one can have some kind of initial justification, that is, have saving benefits that can be lost. Leithart clearly said that they can be lost. Leithart is in opposition to so many parts of our Standards it is incredible.

    I cannot fathom how a group of elders in a presbytery are so theologically inept to have missed this. Sorry, but the General Assembly needs to deal with this rogue presbytery of North West Presbytery.

  255. October 25, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Jack,
    You said, “I appreciate all the exegetical discussion on Romans 5, but the bottom line is that affirming the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ is not mandatory in subscribing to the Westminster Confession.”

    You are ABSOLUTELY WRONG. You do not understand the Westminster Standards at all; I am sorry but you don’t. Try coming before various Reformed denominations wanting to be an elder, RE or TE and see how far you get with that perspective.

    Jack, you have placed yourself squarely in the camp of the Federal Vision. There is nothing else anyone can say to you that will convince you otherwise it appears. You are not teachable.

    The Federal Vision by several of the proponents own words admit that FV theology is a new paradigm to understanding various things on baptism, justification, and the like. It’s a new paradigm alright, a heretical one that strikes at the gospel.

    I have fought and will continue to fight every inch of the way to see FV men run out of Reformed denominations. FV theology is a hideous blight upon the visible church. I never thought in my lifetime I would have to be defending the fundamental truths of the Protestant Reformation again.

    FV men, why don’t you run to Rome, or to Episcopalianism. Norman Shepherd argued in his book, “Call of Grace” was a bridge between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. This blatant statement on p. 59 of this book is INCREDIBLE. Why do Wilkins, Meyers, and Leithart to name a few like wearing robes like Rome. Take a look sometime at a Roman Catholic priest doing mass, and take a look at Wilkins and his associate on the website of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church and see the similarity.

  256. ljdibiase said,

    October 25, 2011 at 11:30 am

    It seems evident that there were credible Reformed theologians who did not accept the doctrine of the IAOC, as has been pointed out with regard to Gataker at the Westminster Assembly. John Owen writes that the rejection of the IAOC “is made use of by sundry learned persons, who yet agree with us in the substance of the doctrine of justification.” (Faith and its Evidences, p.263, Banner of Truth).

    On the other hand, some on our side want to insist that the Westminster Standards ultimately adopted the IAOC, so to reject it is unconfessional. And then we get into this big argument about the disappearance of the word “whole” and speculation about what the Assembly intended.

    But isn’t there another issue here? If I understand correctly, Gataker, et. al., didn’t reject the IAOC for the same reasons the FV guys do. It’s one thing to believe with the older writers that the pardon of sins alone justifies us before God, and that an additional clothing with positive righteousness is unnecessary. It’s another thing to reject, as the FV apparently does, the covenantal framework within which justification and imputation takes place. Or so it seems to me.

    Could one of our pastors here please comment on whether this is a relevant distinction?

  257. michael said,

    October 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Curate/Roger:

    “You mentioned that you are not in a Reformed Church. What tradition are you a part of?”

    No, I never mentioned that I was not in a Reformed Church. I said my fellowship which started in the late 1960’s was a bunch of Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists, Southern Baptists, AOG and some down right rogues called out of darkness into His marvelous Light who were just marauding around the country looking for free food and shelter who have turned after many years to Reformational thinking. We consider ourselves a young, very young Reformational group of churches studying a lot of Theologies including looking serious at Calvinist thinking, Lutheran thinking and others. Now after many years we are in some cases four generations of True Reformed Believers all working and living in community together living for the Glory of God and our neighbor. We own homes and businesses and have Pastors who conduct worship services. At the height of our young movement we had established congregation around the United States, Canada, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe. After our beloved founder went on to be with the Lord, we disbanded the “international” organization as was his request so that we would not grow into a movement centered around him.

    The foundation of how we live and work and play as church groups, together, can best be summarized by these verses in Acts 20:26-35.

    Let me ask you based on this verse from 1 Corinthians 15:22: 1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

    Just how does one in Adam, die; and in Christ, one is made alive?

  258. Jack Bradley said,

    October 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Pastor Otis,

    I posted this earlier, above, but it apparently bears repeating:

    PROSECUTION: For the record, may I just say something?
    MODERATOR: Are you – – Well let me- – are you done with your line of questions?
    DEFENSE: If the prosecutor has a problem with that last question, feel free to strike it.
    PROSECUTION: Okay, I just want to let the record show that – – that nowhere has the prosecution faulted Dr. Leithart for quote unquote denying the imputation of the active obedience of Christ.
    MODERATOR: Okay. So noted.
    DEFENSE: We would love that noted.
    MODERATOR: It was just noted. It’s – – it’s in the record.

    http://pnwp.org/images/resources/final-leithart-trial-transcript.pdf p. 295

  259. David Gadbois said,

    October 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Jack said I appreciate all the exegetical discussion on Romans 5, but the bottom line is that affirming the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ is not mandatory in subscribing to the the Westminster Confession.

    As I noted in #119, this is opinion, one that is not shared by all Westminster scholars.

    And in the case of Leithart it is beside the point. As mentioned in #239, Leithart does not even believe in the imputation of Christ’s passive obedience. You cannot exonerate Leithart on these grounds.

  260. Hugh McCann said,

    October 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Whoa, Michael!

    @248, I am flummoxed by our curate:

    However, Romans 8 does not have any bearing on Romans 5.18 because are two different kinds of righteousness. What needs demonstrating is that the “compact unity” righteousness of Romans 8 is the same righteousness of Christ in Romans 5.18.

    I argue that they are clearly different.

    The “righteousness of God” that has been revealed at the “present time” is not the righteousness of the law – the righteousness that was previously revealed. The newly revealed righteousness is the atoning cross, that is apart from the law. Romans 3.16 ff.

    In Romans 5 we must look first to the immediate context for the meaning of righteousness before we go looking further afield. That is plain common sense and good practise.

    In chapter 3 we have been told that the new righteousness is the cross, and that it has nothing to do with the law at all. Two different righteousnesses – cross and law, gospel and law, absolute distinction in the matter of justification.

    How many ‘righteousnesses’ ARE there?!

    ‘Compact unity’ righteousness/ righteousness of Christ/ righteousness of God/ ‘new righteousness’ (of the cross)
    ~ VS ~
    The righteousness of the law.

    Looks like two steps backward, Michael. I’m not putting the champagne on ice just yet. . .

  261. michael said,

    October 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Hugh,

    You ask: “How many ‘righteousnesses’ ARE there?!”

    According to Roger apparently more than one.

    Can anyone point somewhere in the Westminster Confession of Faith or Standards or Catechisms where there is discussed more than One Righteousness?

  262. Hugh McCann said,

    October 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Michael @262,

    Remember that our friend is not a Presbyterian.
    Like me, he only need quote the West. standards when they suit his argument.

    Luther spoke of “two” in that God has inherent righteousness,
    while ours is alien, external, imputed.

    And of course there ARE two in Scripture:

    God’s perfect righteousness,

    and ours, the filthy rag variety (Isa. 64:6).

    But curate’s construction appears novel. I don’t recall the 39 Articles (or their homilies, etc.) speak of there being more than one righteousness in or from God.

  263. Hugh McCann said,

    October 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    This is tragically funny: nowhere has the prosecution faulted Dr. Leithart for quote unquote denying the imputation of the active obedience of Christ.

    Did not the prosecution fault Leithart for not asserting, preaching, teaching and defending (per Titus 1:9) the imputation of the active obedience of Christ?!

    NO HOPE WITHOUT IT, PEOPLE!

  264. Jack Bradley said,

    October 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    David @ 260,
    I posted this above, but apparently it bears repeating:

    Q: Do you believe that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us?
    A: . . . Paul talks about imputation. The sac – – sacrificial system depended on an idea of imputation. I think imputation is a biblical concept.

    . . . we participate by faith and that verdict that God has pronounced in the resurrection. That is, that verdict is based on the perfect obedience of Jesus, the active obedience of Jesus. It’s based on the fact that he went to the cross and passively obeyed. . . the verdict is based on those realities, based on those actions of Jesus is what we share in by union with Christ. . . I’ve affirmed that sinners are positively righteous before God by union with Christ and imputation that is grounded in that union with Christ.

  265. David Gadbois said,

    October 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Jack, that is desperation. Saying imputation is “a biblical concept” does not actually affirm the imputation of Christ’s obedience, active or passive. Nor does simply affirming that Christ’s “verdict” was based on His obedience.

  266. October 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Jack,
    I think everyone here deserves to hear your answers to the following questions:

    1. Can one in true union with Christ, having received some saving benefits like forgiveness of sins, ever apostatize?

    2. Do you need to be perfect in order to get into heaven?

    3. How much positively righteous are you in your union with Christ by virtue of this union with Christ in His death on the cross?

    4. How do you define “faith” that justifies us?

  267. Dean B said,

    October 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Pastor Otis

    “You are ABSOLUTELY WRONG. You do not understand the Westminster Standards at all; I am sorry but you don’t. Try coming before various Reformed denominations wanting to be an elder, RE or TE and see how far you get with that perspective.”

    The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) contains the following phrase, “They are justified wholly and solely because God imputes to them Christ’s righteousness. He imputes to them Christ’s active obedience to the whole law and His passive obedience in death. They receive Christ’s righteousness by faith, and rest on Him.” A mere 40 years prior a similar phrase is not found in the WCF.

    Dr. Scott Clark writes, “The mere absence of the later technical terms obedientia activa et passiva (which did not come into use until the 1570s) should not deter us from observing the substance of the doctrine in Calvin.” Clark later admits Calvin did not teach the doctrine in all its details. Covenant Justification and Pastoral Ministry pg 231

    Do not misinterpret this to mean that I believe Leithart, Shepherd or others can sidestep what is taught in the WCF, but the full blown and universally held Reformed teaching of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ was not a subscription issue in 1646.

  268. Hugh McCann said,

    October 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Good reminder, Jack@265. Thanks for these horrid quotes. We also see P.L. tellingly stumble through his answers.

    This is damning testimony, indeed, @64:
    Q: Do you believe that Christ’s active obedience is imputed to us?
    A: I believe that Christ had to obey perfectly. His active obedience is essential to our salvation. Whether or not it’s we should think – – I don’t think certain constructions of the imputation of active obedience are correct. The kind that Dr. Horton again represented this morning, where it’s understood as a works principle that Jesus was earning favor and by – – by means of a works principle was able to – – that that fulfillment of the law is imputed to us.

    . . . Jesus is raised from the dead as a declaration to the world that this is the righteous son of the Father. And that we particip- – we participate by faith and that verdict that God has pronounced in the resurrection. That is, that verdict is based on the perfect obedience of Jesus, the active obedience of Jesus. It’s based on the fact that he went to the cross and passively obeyed. But what I suggested is that the verdict is based on those realities, based on those actions of Jesus is what we share in by union with Christ. . . I’ve affirmed that sinners are positively righteous before God by union with Christ and imputation that is grounded in that union with Christ.

    SCANDALOUS, this: sinners are positively righteous before God by union with Christ and imputation that is grounded in that union with Christ.

    Wow. Can’t be much more Roman than THAT!
    [Or, for our friend across the pond, Anglo-Catholic.]

    If sinners are positively righteous before God by union with Christ, and if that union be the ground of imputation, then there is no good news, we are lost.

  269. Jack Bradley said,

    October 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Pastor Otis,

    Your questions are about as well formulated as the prosecution’s. I’ll pass.

    I do, along with Leithart, subscribe to the Westminster Confession.

  270. October 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Dean,

    I fully agree with what you said. The terms “active obedience” did become popularized later and are not used as such but that doesn’t matter. Norman Shepherd tried to say that Calvin and the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism never taught “active obedience.” This was some clever attempt on his part to obscure the obvious. Calvin and the two parts of the Three Forms of Unity do teach what is doctrinally the teaching of “active obedience.” In my book, “Danger in the Camp” I demonstrate multitude of places where Calvin and the Continental Reformers believed and taught what is meant by “active obedience.”

    What matters is what is meant by active obedience there, and it is by the use of Christ’s merit and the imputation of His righteousness.

    Jack,
    I am sorry to see that you refuse to answer a few simple questions. The kinds of questions that I asked are more than fair questions and vital to see if one understands the gospel. So, in other words, you want to be evasive.

    As far as the questions are formulated, I think they are straightforward and plain unlike the responses over the years of FV men who like to cloud simple, biblical truths in a shroud of verbiage that leaves people saying, “Now, what in the world did he just say?” Leithart is no different than others, and these men want to complain that most people don’t understand what they are saying. The reality is: after one treads through their use of words and the like, then one can understand, but it is painful. It is why none of them belong in a pulpit.

  271. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 25, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Hugh, I’m mystified (#269): If sinners are positively righteous before God by union with Christ, and if that union be the ground of imputation, then there is no good news, we are lost.

    I would quibble with the PL’s word “ground” because he is being insufficiently precise. But aside from that, it is boilerplate Reformed theology that we are positively righteous by means of being united with Christ through faith, which is done in our effectual calling (WSC 30, WLC 66, 69; Calv Inst 3.1). It is in fact a necessary part of Reformed theology to believe that we are justified by being federally united to Jesus, our head, from whom our righteousness is imputed.

    So what do you have in mind by naming it “Roman”?

    Seems to me that there’s lower-hanging fruit than technical discussions of union here.

  272. October 25, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Ditto, Jeff. I’d really like to know what exactly is Roman about that.

  273. October 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    By the way, my original post got lost. In it, I had pointed out that actually a good case could be made for the active obedience in Rom. 5:19 in the phrase υπακοης του ενος, where the ενος is certainly substantive, since υπακοη could well be argued to be a whole course of the life, and the verb κατασταθησονται seems to be chiefly being established in an office (e.g., Heb. 5:1).
    The other place from which to argue IAOC is the recapitulation/sonship structure of Matthew, which oddly enough I first found pointed out in an article by Leithart himself.

  274. October 25, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Maybe, Hugh, you are taking “positively righteous” to mean “personally righteous”? In which case, the movement would be union–> personal righteousness–> imputation. That would a Roman “infused righteousness” kind of idea. Either that or you’re follow a kind of Scott Clark approach where imputation is the basis of union: but that is a legal fiction, in which the merit of Christ really does fly across the courtroom and stick to someone else (as NT Wright’s caricature states). As Calvin says (paraphrasing), we have no part of Christ’s work until we have Christ himself. Union is the ground of imputation: Christ’s merit is attributed to us because we are his body. See WLC 66ff.

  275. curate said,

    October 26, 2011 at 1:26 am

    262 and 263 How many kinds of righteousness are there?

    I don’t know how many there are in the WCF, but I can point you to another little read standard that describes many different kinds – the Bible.

    1. Rom. 1:16   For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

    2. Rom. 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

    3. James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

    4. Rom. 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it (righteousness) was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

    I count four different kinds of righteousness from these texts:
    1. God’s righteousness.
    2. Christ’ human righteousness.
    3. Men’s righteousness.
    4. Imputed righteousness.

    God’s righteousness, which is unique to himself.

    Christ’s human righteousness which he earned by obedience.

    Men’s righteousness, the right conduct described as acceptable to God.

    Imputed righteousness, the alien, forensic righteousness granted to sinners.

    Alles klaar, Herr Kommissaar?

  276. michael said,

    October 26, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Curate/Roger,

    that is an interesting answer.

    We could start with Noah and Abraham then and work our way to Christ and His imputed Righteousness based on the entire Bible and the meanings?

    Back to my question on 1 Corinthians 15:22?

    Could you exegete that verse? Just how does one in Adam, die; and in Christ, one is made alive?

  277. David Gadbois said,

    October 26, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Michael, this discussion is going way far afield of the main point.

    I think no serious theologian has a problem seeing that the Bible distinguishes between legal and evangelical obedience, but this has no logical bearing on whether Romans 5 teaches the imputation of Christ’s active obedience.

  278. Hugh McCann said,

    October 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Curate @276,

    3 -perhaps all- of your 4 points are ultimately one in the same, or you have different perfections in God the Father (1), the Son (2), and that which is imputed to the elect (4).

    James (#3) is either referring to perfect, imputed righteousness (which is Christ’s, #2 which is God’s, #1), or else a godly man’s progress in sanctification. (A “righteousness” that is far from perfect!)

    If it’s this latter, then, OK, maybe he can be described as “righteous” in a “Let your light so shine” sort of way. But this is doubtful. If he’s reckoned fully righteous as God, his progress in grace is not much of a “righteousness” to get excited about.

    God’s righteousness, which is unique to himself.
    It’s unique to him in that it’s uniquely inherent in him alone, but he freely imputes this to us.

    Christ’s human righteousness which he earned by obedience.
    Hmm. OK, but this is no less than the righteousness of God the Father, too, else it couldn’t stand the test. (Glad you said “earned.” We know the Father showed the Son no grace!)

    Men’s righteousness, the right conduct described as acceptable to God.
    See above. It’s only “accepatable to God” b/c he’s already been accounted completely perfectly righteous in CHRIST.

    Imputed righteousness, the alien, forensic righteousness granted to sinners.
    Which has to be God’s, or else we’re doomed. Abandon any notion of mixed grace and merit, or abandon all hope of being saved.

  279. Hugh McCann said,

    October 27, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Jeff 272 & Joshua 273,

    My family is in the midst of a sore trial, necessitating my having to postpone replying to your valid concerns.

    Further, since it’s off this topic, I like to take up the issue of our union with Christ as the ground of justification at David Gadbois’ “A Quick Comment on Union with Christ.

    Your prayers are appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Hugh
    hughmc5 hotmail


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