TE Jeffrey Meyers trial transcripts available

Posted by Bob Mattes

The transcripts for TE Jeffrey Meyers trial in Missouri Presbytery, PCA, can be downloaded from this link. There’s a lot of reading there. I haven’t been through the transcripts yet. I’ll obviously have more to say as time goes on.

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157 Comments

  1. Alan D. Strange said,

    July 27, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Bob:

    I have not read through all the transcripts and depositions, yet, but I am disheartened with what I read in re: the discussion of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ (IAOC) at the Westminster Assembly of Divines (WAD). This point continues to be missed by many and seems as if it was in this trial.

    I’ve written a Confessional Presbyterian Journal article on this as well as published an essay (a modified form of the CPJ article) in the book edited by Haykin and Jones, “Drawn into Controversie,” (V&R, 2011).

    Here’s a brutal summary: When the WAD began in July 1643, it undertook to revise the 39 Articles. The Assembly got to Article 11 (on justification) in September and thus begin the big debate (the “hot peppercorn”) over how the article might be amended, particularly the motion that the word “whole” modify “obedience,” understood by all there to be an affirmation of the IAOC in our justification.

    The debate raged for some days and when the vote was taken, only three or four voted against adding the word “whole.” Thus the only time a vote was taken at the WAD with specific reference to the IAOC, it was overwhelmingly in favor of affirming the IAOC in our justification.

    Then this process of revising the 39 Articles stopped because of the Solemn League and Covenant with Scotland and the new mandates of the WAD. The Assembly would now toss the 39 Articles and write an entirely new confession due to England and Scotland working together.

    The debate about “whole” never resurfaced in the 1645/6 drafting of the Westminster Confession of Faith. In 1643 the entire freight of the argument for the IAOC rested on the one word “whole.” But in 1645/6, the Assembly no longer simply had one article with which to work in terms of defining justification and the IAOC, but a whole chapter (WCF 11) and more. It is my contention that the word “whole” was no loger needed and thus did not appear in that form because the wording of WCF 11.3 and 8.5, especially, did everything that the revision of article 11 by the addition of the word “whole” was intended to do, and, arguably, more.

    There’s a good bit more texture and detail to the argument but that’s at least the heart of it. I regret that, at least from what I heard, this did not come out clearly. It is in line with what Van Dixhoorn brings out and is based on a comprehensive use of his work, though it goes beyond what happened just in 1643 to what happened in 1645/6.

  2. Jon Barlow said,

    July 27, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Alan, nothing in your fine summary here adds to or contradicts the testimony in the trial. Three or four witnesses spoke to the issue. We all understand these facts, and whether Christ’s “whole” obedience is imputed to us or not is beside the point, as the defendant testified. He is comfortable with that language, but he is not comfortable with many of the construals of imputation of active obedience that he was being asked to confess by the prosecution. I think you’ll find witness Mattes’s version of IAOC to be rather incoherent and good example of something no one should be teaching. See the portion with Mattes’s thought experiment about why Christ couldn’t have come down for only a weekend prior to his passion. The proof that this was clear is in the verdict – not a single presbyter voted to convict Meyers on the point about the imputation of the active obedience of Christ because a. he’s not required to confess it by the confession, and b. he believes all the doctrines protected by that notion.

  3. Alan D. Strange said,

    July 27, 2012 at 8:10 am

    The testimony that I read wrt the specific historical question of the affirmation of the IAOC in our justification at the Westminster Assembly was not clear vis-à-vis the short summary that I wrote above or what I wrote more fully in the article and essay on this subject. I was dismayed because I did not hear that history accurately represented.

    Whether for the defendant “whole” is no problem and thus misses the mark is not my point. I am making no comment on the trial as a whole or its outcome. How all of this is to be applied to Rev. Myers is the business of that court and the point of my comment here is not to second-guess them on their verdicts.

    Your penultimate point, however, indicates to me that my concern was missed: the WCF does affirm the IAOC in our justification using terms other than “whole.” The point of my study was to examine whether Westminster affirmed the IAOC or not and I concluded that it did. Now you may enter the lists and go toe to toe and argue that it did not. But I don’t think that a bare assertion is sufficient.
    Apart from that, however, it’s a curious and gratuitous approach, it seems to me, to assert “he’s not required to confess it by the confession” when you proceed to argue that he affirms it anyway. I’ve quite a bit of judicial experience at every level of governance, including serving as defense counsels, and I cannot imagine for the life of me that if my argument were that the defendant did not believe X, I would want the additional burden of proving that even if he did believe X, that would be acceptable since the Confession does not require him to confess X. That’s so “in your face” as a judicial tactic and another matter altogether that I would not argue such as his defense counsel.

    I would be prepared in any court of any church to argue at length that the WCF does affirm, and require the affirmation of, the IAOC. I appreciate, Mr. Barlow, your contention that Rev. Meyers affirms it. If that’s so, why on the earth in a trial that charges him with denying it, would you undertake a completely different, and, to me, inexplicable burden, of proving that the WCF does not require it? In my writings, I address matters that Barker, Mitchell and Struthers, and even Van Dixhoorn do not explicitly address with respect to this. So while I am happy to concede that you may have proved to the court that Rev. Meyers does not deny the IAOC, I see nothing in the transcripts that prove in any respect that “he’s not required to confess it by the confession.” That’s another matter which has nothing to do with this trial specifically since Br. Meyers affirms the IAOC.

  4. July 27, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Dr. Strange:

    It’s too bad the book with your essay in it is a little pricey…If you like, I appreciate any tips you can give on where I might study more about IAOC. Since I started reading Machen, that doctrine, to me, is perhaps one of the most powerfully liberating or peace producing doctrines, I have ever had the pleasure to read about. I enjoyed Machen’s essay on it. It just makes my heart happy to hear you defending it.

    Blessings.

  5. barlowjon said,

    July 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Four or five witnesses spoke to this issue. My point is that even if you heard some infelicity in one of the witnesses on the historical point, the fuller picture emerged over the course of the trial.

    As for your point about IAOC being *in* the confession, that all depends upon what you mean by IAOC. Meyers’s point is that there are versions of that doctrine that he cannot affirm, and versions that he can. Hopefully that point won’t get lost. There are ways of construing the IAOC that bring a host of related emphases into the picture, and this is the way we perceived many of the critics to be confessing the doctrine. As I say, check out the transcripts and you’ll see witness Mattes express just one of those problematic ways of construing the issue.

  6. Alan D. Strange said,

    July 27, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Yes, Andrew, the V&R book is pricey, but you can get the CPJ for a song. Here’s a link to the issue in which I wrote on the IAOC at the Westminster Assembly: http://www.cpjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/CPJ4-contents.pdf.

    In that article, and even more in the essay in the pricey volume, I give some bib. on the question of the IAOC. The OPC report on justification has a nice section on that as well. I agree that it is a doctrine that affords us much comfort.

  7. Alan D. Strange said,

    July 27, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Mr. Barlow:
    That’s all fine about the particulars as they applied to Rev. Meyers. I do not seek to comment on them.

    And I realize that my point about the IAOC being in the Westminster Standards is debatable. But to engage in that debate properly one needs all the relevant data. I neither read such being brought into evidence nor did I see anywhere in the transcripts that the presbytery made any sort of ruling that would imply: “no one is required to confess [the IAOC] by the confession.” That’s a rather large and separate debate from what I read going on there.
    I still maintain that, for the sake of truth and comprehension, in any public ecclesiastical judicature, I would want the clearest witness to everything at hand. I do not believe that such was given in that trial with respect to what Westminster affirmed about the IAOC in our justification.

  8. greenbaggins said,

    July 27, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Alan, I have so appreciated your’s (and Jeff Jue’s!) painstaking work on the IAOC in the WAD. So far, I’ve only read Richard Phillips’s deposition, and part of Gary Johnson’s. Both have been excellent.

    Jonathan, I’m not sure how you can assert that Meyers believes in the IAOC in any respect, when Meyers so clearly rejects all forms of merit.

  9. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I don’t reject “all forms of merit.” Never said anything like that.

  10. Reed Here said,

    July 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Jeff, rather than ask you to offer explanations here, might you reference for us in the trial manuscript where we can find what forms of IAOC you affirm? Thanks!

  11. Jon Barlow said,

    July 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Reed – I would refer you to the defense questioning of Meyers – that section gives you a good overview of where Meyers stands on the issues involved. It’s in the third pdf of the trial day transcripts. We essentially took all of the prosecution witnesses language and asked Jeff if he was agreeable to that language. One helpful phrase that came from a prosecution witness was “vicarious obedience” and Jeff explicitly affirms that Jesus obeyed vicariously for us.

  12. Jon Barlow said,

    July 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    missed the apostrophe on witnesses’ language

  13. Frank Aderholdt said,

    July 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Alan,

    Thanks for the reference to your article in The Confessional Presbyterian Journal. I have all issues at home at will revisit the article this weekend.

    Just a quick review of WCF Chapter 11 reveals the phrases “imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ” (11.1), “Christ, by his obedience and death” (11.3), “his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead” (11.3).

    I cannot conceive how the above phrases could be interepreted in any other way than referring to both the “active” and “passive” obedience as traditionally understood. To read them another way would result in a mere tautology, and a rather clumsy one at that. The Westminster Divines were masters of precision; they rarely waste a word or repeat a thought needlessly.

    I also agree with certain theologians (can’t remember who at the moment) who believe that the entire active/passive distinction is unnecessary, since not only Christ’s person, but his work as well, cannot be divided.

  14. greenbaggins said,

    July 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Frank, Hodge stressed the inseparability of the active and passive as “one seamless garment.” But he acknowledged the practical helpfulness of distinguishing the two _if_ one or the other is attacked.

  15. greenbaggins said,

    July 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Jeff,

    I am going on recall at the moment, which may be faulty, of course. But haven’t you made fun of merit theology multiple times in the past? I seem to recall that you’ve done it on your blog. Your thoughts on chapter 7 of the WCF also seem to lean in that direction.

  16. greenbaggins said,

    July 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    As an example, in your book _The Lord’s Service_, p. 43, footnote 4, you say, “It is also sometimes called the ‘the covenant of works,’ but this can be misleading if one thinks that Adam’s fundamental relationship with God was not founded on God’s gracious gift of life but rather on his ‘meriting’ God’s favor. Adam is not required to work for God’s love and favor, but to continue in the life he has been given by faithfully and joyfully doing his duty as God’s servant, a ‘light’ yoke that he tragically throws off.”

    The footnote references this sentence “We call this ‘the creation covenant’ or ‘the covenant of life.'” To put it bluntly, this footnote falls foul of chapter 7 of the WCF in any number of ways. As Richard Phillips well pointed out, grace is a post-Fall category. Secondly, despite the scare quotes around the word “meriting,” you clearly reject merit as being part of the Covenant of Works in this quotation. Since earlier, you rejected any kind of idea of agreement as being the covenant (p. 36), it is quite understandable that you would also reject this scare-quoted idea of merit as being part of the Adamic covenant. This is directly opposed to the ideas of chapter 7 of the WCF, which state categorically that Adam would have obtained (he was PROMISED, as in _he did not already possess_) eternal life (which by definition is immutable, so Adam could not possibly have owned it already, contra your statements, and the position of James Jordan in his article “Merit or Maturity,” a position which mirrors yours precisely) by virtue of his obedience, which is most certainly a kind of merit.

    Contrary to your position in this footnote, Adam was most certainly required to work for God’s favor in the sense of obtaining eternal life on the basis of his works. This is merit according to agreement (which you would deny outright, since there is no agreement in the CoW). How can you escape this conclusion?

  17. Jon Barlow said,

    July 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Saying that the fundamental relationship between God and Adam is love and not merit, doesn’t imply a denial of all forms of merit in the garden. He’s saying “this and not that is fundamental” he’s not saying “this and not that were present.” And whatever else it teaches, WCF 7 does not teach that Adam had to earn God’s love and favor by his obedience. It presupposes that he had God’s love and favor, and it teaches that Adam had a condition of obedience for his life. God’s condescension is his love and favor. I believe you can definitely read your theology of “obtaining” into WCF 7, and it is valid part of the tradition, but it isn’t the only allowable view.

  18. greenbaggins said,

    July 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Jon, I have not ever seen him advocate merit, because he categorically rejects “agreement” as part of the CoW (or of ANY covenant, for that matter). The agreement is the basis of the pactum merit. And if Adam had to perfectly and personally obey in order to obtain life that was promised, then he didn’t already have it. To read it differently is to be in denial about what the text of WCF 7 actually says. Please find for me a single pre-FV commentary on the WCF that advocates the position that Adam already had eternal life, and did not have to obtain it by his obedience. You are reading into the text an FV view. But trying to muscle it in to the text like that doesn’t work very well.

  19. Frank Aderholdt said,

    July 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Well said, Lane. Either Adam “had it all” by virtue of his creation, or he did not. Either he was merely to continue in the same relationship by “faithful obedience,” or by/through/as a result of/in consequence of his perfect obedience he would receive something else – namely, confirmation to eternal life. These two scenarios are not the same, and can never be made the same.

    As has been written and said many times over the past decade, the first view leads inevitably to some version of “monocovenantal” theology, while the second always produces a two-covenant structure (regardless of the precise terms used). In bi-covenantalism, individual performance always gains the promised blessing – By Adam himself without a Mediator in what we call the “covenant of works,”, and all the elect born in Adam by the life and suffering of Another, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the the “covenant of grace.” The parallel is perfect, satisfying, and does justice to the comprehensive scope of Biblical revelation.

    Note that I purposely avoided the word “merit” above. It’s not necessary. Properly defined, it’s useful, but we can do without it, as does WCF Chapter 7.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    July 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Right, Frank. We don’t need the word “merit,” but we do need the concept that is often represented by the word “merit.” Adam would have obtained the promised eternal life on the basis of his personal and perfect obedience. This IS what WCF 7.2 says.

  21. Jon Barlow said,

    July 27, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Lane, I would just point out that the word “obtain” is not used in WCF7.2. Yet we agree that Adam had a blessing promised on condition of obedience; some kind of eschatological glory in which he could no longer sin. In any case, that was not an issue in Missouri. Everyone here agrees that some Reformed folks emphasize a “strict justice” approach, and some emphasize Adam’s sonship and that there is room for both. The issue with IAOC relates to this in the question of how it is that Jesus succeeds for us where Adam failed for us. Is there some finite list of positive demands of the law that Jesus needed to fulfill in order to take care of a still-in-effect probationary standard. That was the issue here.

  22. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Re: merit and works, what Jon says. Read what I’ve written in my defense against the prosecution’s charge #1:

    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/62419900/JJMAnswerstoCharges.pdf

  23. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Re: #16. Phillips is free to use “grace” exclusively to refer to the post-lapsarian situation, but I’m not required to. Obviously, the word “grace” takes on another layer of meaning after the fall because the posture and action of God which the term describes deepens.

    But describing the pre-lapsarian covenant as “gracious” has a long history in Reformed theology.

    One of the expert witnesses designated by the prosecution to defend this charge in the Indictment (p. 11), but who for some reason decided not to testify before the court either in person or by phone deposition, was Dr. Mark Herzer. Herzer was to testify in regard to my views on covenant theology. Interestingly enough, last year Herzer published an essay on the controversies related to the Adamic covenant among seventeenth-­century English Puritans. This is the same book in which Dr. Strange’s essay can be found (“Adam’s Reward: Heaven or Earth?” in _Drawn into Controversie: Reformed Theological Diversity and Debates Within Seventeenth-­‐Century British Puritanism_, ed. by Michael A.G. Haykin and Mark Jones [Göttingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011]).

    In that essay Herzer argues that virtually all of the English Reformed divines argued for the presence of grace in the pre-­fall “covenant of works.” Here is a portion of his comments toward the end of his essay:

    “In the full bloom of federal theology in the seventeenth century, the divines saw and argued forcefully that the covenant of works itself and the required obedience in Adam were gracious acts on God’s part. It is actually difficult to find examples where this point is not at one place or another noted when they develop the doctrine of _foedus operum_. This gracious element existed in an earlier generation in men like Ursinus. . . .

    Gillespie spent a considerable amount of time showing how the Covenant of Works agreed with the Covenant of Grace. In the fourteen ways in which they agree, one of the ways was that they were both of grace: ‘They agree in this, that there was very much of Grace Favour in both: the moving cause in both was mere Grace [. . .] yet even the Covenant of Works [. . .] even that Covenant was thus far a Covenant of Grace.’ These are simply stunning statements” (p. 179-180).

  24. rfwhite said,

    July 27, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Greenbaggins, Jeff, Jon:

    Reading along with you here, whether we grant the use of the term “grace” to apply to both pre-fall and post-fall or to apply only to post-fall, I think you would agree that the key is the definition of the term in each circumstance lest we each talk past the other.

  25. Frank Aderholdt said,

    July 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    The best place to begin a discussion of the meaning of “grace” in the pre-fall covenant may be the phrase in WCF 7.1, “voluntary condescension on God’s part.” Every divine-human covenantal relationship begins here. If this is what we mean by “grace” in the covenant of works, I have no problem at all. I would be surprised if Gillespie meant more than this. In the same sense, the covenant of grace is full of this “grace” of voluntary condescension. It is much more, of course, but it is certainly not less.

    Thus, I see nothing particuarly striking or “stunning” in Gillespie’s assertion that the covenants “were both of grace . . . that there was very much of Grace Favour in both.”

    We might say that every covenant has a “grace” component per WCF 7.1. Or call it a “foundational layer,” if you will, upon which other covenants may build but never discard.

    I may be missing something important here, but I just don’t see the problem, once we define our terms carefully.

  26. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 27, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Frank: defining terms is crucial. Define “grace” as favor despite demerit and there’s no grace before the fall. Define grace as simply unmerited favor, as in “the grace of God was upon him [Jesus]” (Luke 2:40), and it’s there from the beginning.

  27. greenbaggins said,

    July 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Jon, you are using the word-concept fallacy. Adam was promised eternal life on condition of perfect and personal obedience. Whether you use the term “get” or “obtain” or “procure,” you’re still getting at (pardon the pun) the idea that Adam would have wound up having eternal life on the condition of perfect and personal obedience. That is NOT the condition of the covenant of grace. I use the word “obtain,” but one could use any number of other terms to describe something that IS THERE in the text of WCF 7.2.

    Jeff, agreed. The problem is that you and just about all the other FV proponents do not carefully distinguish these two quite distinct ideas, when you are talking about the CoW. Everything you guys say tends towards devaluing the aspect of works as the basis of eternal felicity for Adam in the CoW. As Phillips said repeatedly, it is not a question of WHETHER there is a difference pre-Fall and post-Fall with regard to the covenantal arrangements. The question is: what is the nature of that difference? In particular, how do humans obtain eternal life pre-Fall versus post-Fall? The WCF clearly says works before the Fall, grace after the Fall (based on Christ’s person and work). I have never seen any FV proponent agree with that. Instead, they confuse works and grace so that it is by golawspel before and after the Fall.

  28. Jon Barlow said,

    July 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I’m not sure how one would “use” a fallacy, and I don’t want to get into a quarrel about words, but I’m merely pointing out that your using the word “obtain” serves your overall theological point beyond the service that 7.2 provides in and of itself. Bottom line: Jeff agrees that Adam did not possess life in its eschatological fullness, nor the inability to sin, and so whatever mileage your use of the word “obtain” is supposed to achieve, I don’t think we have a disagreement here in the important points.

    I also think your second paragraph is not very helpful. That’s the whole purpose of a trial, to examine a particular man. Whether you’ve seen “any FV proponent” do anything or not is beside the point. What were the questions in this trial, and how did the defendant answer them? That’s the important pair of questions. This “works” vs. “grace” question is not a problem in Jeff’s case. Of course he agrees that the condition of pre-Fall Adam’s continued experience of God’s presence was obedience, and of course he agrees that the only hope for sinners is God’s grace. He also further maintains that God’s promises to Adam included a further reward, beyond the amazing life as a son in the early days of the garden. And this reward would have been given on condition of obedience. Again, not sure why Jeff runs afoul of any of the things our doctrines are trying to protect. Phillips said some very good things, no doubt. And so did Jeff.

  29. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    RE: 27. I thought I did carefully distinquish the two ways that God’s grace functions before and after the fall.

    Everything I say tends toward devaluing the aspect of works as the basis of eternal felicity for Adam? Devaluing “the aspect of works”? I don’t even know what that means.

    The WCF doesn’t “clearly” say that there’s no grace before the fall. It just doesn’t say. Are we working with some “regulative principle” when in comes to interpreting the WCF? Whatever is not mentioned in the Confession is not permitted?

    “Works before the fall, grace after the fall”? Lots of people don’t agree with such a simplistic way of putting it. That’s not even close to being a helpful summary of the relationship between works and grace.

  30. greenbaggins said,

    July 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Jeff, if my way of putting the method of obtaining eternal life is simplistic and not even close to being a helpful summary, the only reason I can think of why that’s the case, is if you mix law and gospel into golawspel before and after the Fall. Faith is not of the law, but of Gospel. Works is not of faith (these two statements being understood of justification only, mind you). This is Galatians.

    In answer to your third paragraph, not only does the WCF not say that Adam would have obtained eternal life by faith, it in fact says that it would have been by his works. This isn’t rocket science, Jeff. To say that the WCF actually says that Adam would have obtained eternal life on condition of his faith runs directly counter to WCF 7.2. So there is no need to patronize me with your “simplistic” comment and your “not even close to being a helpful summary” nonsense.

  31. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Well then, I guess we just disagree. I wasn’t patronizing. I was just saying your formulations are not adequate to deal with the richness of the relationship between law, works, grace, and the Gospel.

  32. greenbaggins said,

    July 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I can accept, perhaps, that you didn’t mean to be patronizing. But you have a history of patronizing me. Just about every time we interact, you say something like what you say above. If someone were to tell you that your formulations were simplistic and not even close to being helpful, would you be content with that? That wouldn’t irk you in any way, shape, or form?

    I’ll take simplistic orthodoxy over complex heterodoxy any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  33. Jon Barlow said,

    July 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    And I would point out that the only thing that would make a minister run afoul of the WCF is if he put works in with grace in justification for sinners. Whether and how he puts God’s lovingkindness/grace in the pre-fall garden is kind of an intramural discussion. I think Jeff is saying that even given the differences before and after the fall, Adam was a son before the fall, not simply a contractor, and so the pre-fall relationship between God and Adam can’t be reduced to “works” even if you’re talking about the narrow issue of the eschatological fulness of salvation. The problem comes when some try to deductively force a man who sees a more complicated picture in the garden into bringing works into justification for sinners. And this is something Jeff simply does not do, no matter what deductive kinds of moves can be attempted. So yes, “works before the fall, grace after the fall” is fine only if you’re thinking about protecting justification from works. But if you’re worried about protecting Eden from the appearance of a GSA contract, then it doesn’t really work so well.

  34. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 28, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Re: 32. Heterodoxy? Really? Just because I confess that the relationship between grace, works, and the law is more complex than the formulation you advanced? Such complexity is evident throughout the history of theologizing by Reformed scholars. If you are talking about how a sinner is saved or justified, then the matter is simple: we are saved by God’s grace alone and not by our works. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us and received by faith alone. Our works do not enter into the equation. Very simple. But there are many other questions regarding how Adam, Israel, Jesus, and believers relate to grace, the law, and works that require a bit more nuancing. Surely you would agree.

    I say your formulation was simplistic and not helpful and you get testy. You consistently accuse me of heterodoxy and I’m supposed to graciously accept it? I’ve not accused you of being heterodox. I respect your right to theologize in the way you do. Your way of putting things has a place in the Reformed community because it has had a respected place in our tradition. I don’t always agree with some of it. And maybe what is most relevant to our present-day challenges, I don’t find some of what you say helpful in resolving the current controversies. But pointing that out doesn’t mean I’m patronizing you. It just means I disagree with you.

  35. July 28, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    We covered the FV Joint Statement here some time back, and JM was one of the signatories to this. Regarding the covenant of works/life, it says:

    We hold further that all such obedience [from Adam], had it occurred, would have been rendered from a heart of faith alone, in a spirit of loving trust. Adam was created to progress from immature glory to mature glory, but that glorification too would have been a gift of grace,
    received by faith alone.

    This is one of the most flatly unconfessional statements, as the glorification would not have been “received by faith alone” if perfect and personal obedience is the condition of reward, as WCF says.

    This statement also assumes that a demand for works/obedience as the condition for reward can be characterized as “gracious”. I can’t envision the sort of mental gymnastics involved in squaring up such an idea with Romans 11:6, But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

    The Joint Statement continues:

    We deny that continuance in this covenant in the Garden was in any way a payment for work rendered.

    This is a minor point, but Paul does not have a problem describing the reward given on the condition of work as a “wage” that is “due”, and that such is antithetical to the character of a gift: Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

    Adam could forfeit or demerit the gift of glorification by disobedience, but the gift or continued possession of that gift was not offered by God to Adam conditioned upon Adam’s moral exertions or achievements

    This is also a flatly unconfessional statement. To perfectly and personally obey is to morally exhert oneself, and would constitute a moral achievement.

  36. barlowjon said,

    July 28, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    David, the “received by faith alone” part was covered in the trial transcripts. Jeff said explicitly in the trial that he thinks the language there is infelicitous and he would not put that in there. Jeff also clarified his relationship to that document, saying explicitly that he is not a “strict subscriptionist” to the FV statement.

  37. July 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Jeff also clarified his relationship to that document, saying explicitly that he is not a “strict subscriptionist” to the FV statement.

    Isn’t it funny how people these days “clarify” things instead of repenting?

  38. Jon Barlow said,

    July 29, 2012 at 12:50 am

    David, that’s not very constructive.

  39. July 29, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Jon,

    Well, your comment #2 isn’t particularly constructive, either. You can reject the historical view of IAOC if you like, but you ought to have more than an empty nonsense statement behind that rejection.

    And David has a good point. After reading through the transcripts of Jeff’s testimony, I see that Jeff didn’t SPECIFICALLY recant much of anything. He said that he found a few words in the Joint FV Statement problematic. Jeff was essentially non-responsive to many if not most of the prosecution’s specific questions in cross, and wasted a lot of time being non-responsive.

    I was hoping to read of Jeff’s specific repentance of specific statements in the indictment, but all I read was a clever tap dance around the specific questions and issues.

  40. Jon Barlow said,

    July 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Reformed musings, you’ve said that my objection is “empty nonsense” and that Jeff is doing a “clever tap dance.” Would you use those kinds of expressions if we were face to face? I’m willing to discuss this, but you’re going to have to pretend that I’m a brother in Christ sitting in your living room with our wives watching. We’re both PCA elders and we should treat each other better than that. There is nothing I can do with your first sentence in order to continue the conversation; you’ll need to be specific about my shortcomings in order for me to understand your point. I will try to guess what you might mean below.

    As for what you expected vs. what Jeff said in the trial, I completely understand if you are unsatisfied, but the key issues in Missouri related to what Jeff believes, whether this runs afoul of the WCF, and whether his more heated rhetoric betrayed theological problems or just a need to tone it down here and there. Most of Jeff’s retractions related to his more heated rhetoric, and the trial was just another in a series of presbytery events were Jeff made clear either that he should not have worded things that way or that these were throwaway lines in near-private communication and were never intended to be well-crafted statements of belief.

    As for my comment #2, reading over it, I do directly say that your version of IAOC is incoherent, and I will stand by that statement. I think your version of that doctrine, illustrated by your thought experiment, provided Jeff with a perfect opportunity to distinguish what he believes about Christ’s vicarious obedience for us from the more Klinean approach. I will refer readers to the transcripts to read Elder Mattes’s response to questions about IAOC and to Meyers’s response when asked about Mattes’s thought experiment. Furthermore, I think you should be very careful in using that thought experiment when you teach Sunday School because it could take people’s thoughts down the wrong path – namely that there was a check box list of deficits that humans have with regards to their obedience and that Christ’s work consisted of a series of checking of the boxes such that a weekend would not have been enough time to perform this finite list of actions. Jeff was agreeable to the language of the prosecution – that Jesus obeyed vicariously for us to make up for our and Adam’s disobedience and that this vicarious obedience is imputed to us. I think that is more than enough proof of his fealty to the scriptures and to Reformed doctrine on this topic.

  41. July 29, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Jon,

    I just recently found all these blogs and comments websites. Between you and me, I don’t read anymore the blogs that allow people to comment. Or if I do, it is only for some very good reason. At least that’s my latest maturity development (at least i hope i am growing up…). I’m sure I am the one with the log, but just so you know, I’ve got some pretty harsh words for these type of forums broadly speaking. I am seeing a lot more heat than light. Then church should know better.

    And now to tend to those around me, and stopping trying to be a smarty pants,

    Peace,
    AB

  42. July 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Jon,

    Yes, I would say it if you were right here sitting across the table. I don’t take or treat error lightly, nor did I learn to be a shrinking violet during 30 years in uniform. Ever since FV hit the public stage, there’s been a lot of defensive strategies employed by FVers to avoid getting called on the core theological issues. There is “you don’t understand what we’re saying,” “you’re violating the 9th commandment” (apparently without reading the full content of LC 145), “none of us believe that” (after quoting exactly what they said from printed materials), and the ever popular “we fit into the broader Reformed tradition” (whatever that is; and who gets to draw that line?) All that wears mighty thin after 9 years. Your buddy Wilson considers himself the master of his “serrated edge” kung fu nonsense. If you want to go kinder and gentler, maybe you should start with Wilson and Jordan. The company one keeps is not irrelevant.

    I understand what should have been at issue in MOP according to the indictment. Jeff avoided answering most of those issues on cross examination. Meanwhile, the defense’s close proceeded as if Jeff had answered all the core questions. It was foolish to think that MOP could try Jeff on the issues, just as it was in LAP for Wilkins, PNWP for Leithart, and Souixlands for Lawrence. These FV trials should all be before the SJC, where personal feelings won’t enter into the process. Hear this loud and clear – I don’t say that to demean any of those presbyteries, but simply to state a common human failing from which few are immune.

    Lastly, you have an odd reading of my testimony on the IAOC. The point made that comes through even with all the large number of typos and incorrectly transcribed words in the transcript, is simply that the IAOC is absolutely essential to our salvation. Christ’s passive obedience on the cross, though critical, was not sufficient for our salvation. Christ had to fulfill the Covenant of Works for us – that’s clear from Gen 3:15 on. It’s not a question of “brownie points” as Jeff derisively called it, but the entire character of Jesus’ perfect, sinless life. I said that clearly in my answer to Solomon’s question (page 122, 123 in the first transcript file) on Romans 5:18 (recorded incorrectly in the transcript as 5:28). We’re not Roman Catholics who count demerits, and you and Jeff should know better. That’s a silly red herring. I hope that this is clear enough.

  43. Jon Barlow said,

    July 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Elder Mattes, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree about the nature of what you were trying to prove with your thought experiment and how you expressed yourself. I accept your point that we need Christ’s vicarious obedience for us, and so does Jeff.

    As for your first paragraph, I’m not sure what any of that has to do with the current discussion of the Missouri Presbytery trial. I’m not trying to hide anything here and I have no defensive strategy other than trying to point people to what I believe the actual issues are, what Jeff’s answers were, and where the allegations fall short.

    As for your doubt about the whole proceedings, that sounds almost like a challenge to the wisdom of presbyterianism. I’m not completely sure how the SJC with its particular set of rules fits into presbyterianism, but I sure know how presbyteries do, and I think the Missouri trial and the two rounds of examinations of Jeff that proceeded it were exemplary. If I admit it’s a common human failing to favor one’s close associates, surely it is also important to admit that it is a common human failing to distrust a trial with a verdict with which one disagrees. That’s why we have to be specific.

    As for whether Jeff dodged a question, best thing to do is name one and we can discuss his answer.

  44. Roy Kerns said,

    July 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Reading about IAOC led me to recall a lecture from years (decades) ago. Leslie Sloat (OPC minister and Westminster Phila prof) commented on Mt 4 and Jesus’ wilderness confrontation with Satan. Sloat made a connection that initially took me aback, but almost immediately made sense. And later, with growing biblical theology awareness, made even greater sense. He said we see Jesus in Mt 4 *earning* the right to go to the cross.

    How could that be? How could Jesus need earn any right? As God the Son, he had no such need. But as God Man, he did. Jesus accomplished what Israel failed to do (witness that incredible response in Mt 4:4, where Jesus responds to his challenger with a quotation from Dt 8:3b, noting especially the connection of immediately preceeding verses 2-3a).

    Justification depends upon both the active and passive obedience of Christ. That children’s level mnemonic says it well: not only just as if I’d never sinned, but just as if I’d kept the whole law perfectly.

    Trying to remember details about Rev Sloat led me to google his name. Doing so coincidentally led to what I found a startlingly very interesting link, a discussion, tho on a different topic, strikingly parallel to the FV question and the imputation subtopic. I commend for edification this 32 page historical analysis of the conflict between covenant theology and dispensationalism which took place among Presbyterians (!) during a couple decades of the second quarter of the 20th C. Very humbling history underscoring the importance of disambiguation and avoidance of equivocation, and of how some people still don’t get it no matter how hard others try.

  45. July 30, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Roy,

    Thanks for the tips. I’ll have to check those out.

    It’s humbling, yes, that for all of us, it takes the Holy Spirit to do the work of opening our eyes. We can not force anyone to see the light, not the least of which, ourselves. But when Jesus rubs mud in our eyes, our only response can be, “My Lord and My God…” and silence, at what a wonderful Savior is ours.

    Peace,
    AB

  46. Tony Phelps said,

    July 30, 2012 at 6:38 am

    My simplistic thoughts… Covenant of “grace” in the Westminster Standards means the covenant of God’s unmerited favor towards fallen sinners chosen for salvation in Christ. Agreed, “grace” carries the broader meaning of “favor” at times in Scripture. But the predominate use of the word by Paul, for instance, is grace in its redemptive sense. And that’s the sense Westminster intends with the phrase, “covenant of grace.” Westminster chose to speak of God’s pre-Fall kindness to Adam & Eve with the phrase “voluntary condescension.” I, for one, think they were wise to do so. It certainly helps to avoid confusion not only of categories, but of Law & Gospel – which is the forgotten and now much maligned HERMENEUTIC of the Reformation, the interpretive apostolic foundation of sola gratia and sola fide. It is the hermeneutical basis of Westminster’s categories of covenant of works (Law) and covenant of grace (Gospel). To deny it is to introduce confusion at best, and to fatally compromise the Gospel at worst.

  47. Roy Kerns said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:52 am

    The link I mentioned in #44 got stripped. It was not directly clickable. Here is the location in still another, not clickable format which will need one to copy and paste. I hope it won’t disappear.

    ntresources.com/documents/DSG2010_Mangum_DispCovRift.pdf

  48. Sean Gerety said,

    July 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Meyers writes as he chafes against the accusation that his views are heterodox: “The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us and received by faith alone.”

    To some late in the game it would appear Meyers is orthodoxy, that is, until you understand what he means by faith. According to the FV Profession of Faith:

    We deny that the faith which is the sole instrument of justification can be understood as anything other than the only kind of faith which God gives, which is to say, a living, active, and personally loyal faith. Justifying faith encompasses the elements of assent, knowledge, and living trust in accordance with the age and maturity of the believer.

    Elsewhere, Meyers explained:

    The key is to understand what “righteous” means. It does not refer to moral purity or conformity to a legal standard (the “Lutheran” mistake). “Righteousness” in the Bible means covenant faithfulness. A person is righteous when he does what the covenant requires of him.

  49. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    On what “righteous” means, you have quoted from one of my expositions of a particular passage of Scripture. The word “righteous” does not mean the same thing everywhere it is used in the Bible and in our theological writings. It’s proper to inquite what it means in each case. That’s all I was doing there. No need to take that comment out of context and make it apply to every time I use the word. When I say “the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us and received by faith alone” I am using the standard Reformed systematic theological understanding of “righteousness.”

    So what’s the problem with the FV statement about the nature of true faith?

  50. Roy said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I’ve not read the transcripts, much less all that Jeff has written. But I know that his words quoted in Sean #48 take one to a realm where not only is a great deal at stake, but precision in discussion gets difficult.

    Who among the reformed does not believe (again, a children’s level mnemonic) “If you’re saved and you know it, your life will surely show it”? Who among the reformed would tolerate the idea of Jesus saving in sin rather than Jesus saving from sin? Who among even the actually evangelical would deny church discipline, which ultimately hinges upon the certitude that a Christian (eventually) hears and responds to the Word?

    Simultaneously, the same set of whos regarding the inextricably related questions: Who would deny that the Christian’s war with sin does not involve at least temporary defeats? How long do we allow for that “eventually” cited above? What about recognizing that God does not grant everyone to see everything with the same clarity as some one or some others? How do we treat beloved Christians who defy the Lord by refusing submissively placing the sign of the covenant upon themselves and upon their children?

  51. Sean Gerety said,

    July 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    @Meyers. Personal loyalty, or what FVist call our “covenant keeping,” is not a component of saving faith, for if it were, as you maintain, then our own personal loyalty or covenant keeping is the instrument of justification. Beyond that, saving faith is passive, not active. Read your Confession or is that one of the sections you think is deficient and want to revise?

  52. Mark Kim said,

    July 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Jeff, the problem with the FV understanding of faith is that it synonymizes faith with obedience. The WCF makes it clear that not only our meritorious obedience (due to sin) even our “evangelical obedience” (after conversion) is excluded from our being declared justified before God (now or in the future). Genuine faith produces obedience (James 2:14-26) but those two are never conflated or confused (like justification and sanctification)

  53. July 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Jeff,

    Honest question here. If there are issues with the JFVS, as you indicate that you have on at least two key points, then why not renounce it? As long as your virtual signature is on the document, it will be an anchor around your neck. Endorsements are important indicators.

    Bob

  54. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    RE: 51. Sean: I don’t maintain that “pesonal loyalty” is the instrument of justification. I don’t believe in justification by personal loyalty. And the FB statement doesn’t say anything of the sort. Here’s the statement again:

    “We deny that the faith which is the sole instrument of justification can be understood as anything other than the only kind of faith which God gives, which is to say, a living, active, and personally loyal faith. Justifying faith encompasses the elements of assent, knowledge, and living trust in accordance with the age and maturity of the believer.”

    The words “living” and “active” and “personally loyal” all describe the kind of faith that justifies. They are adjectival. I don’t believe in justification by “personal loyalty” any more than I believe in justification by “living” or justificatioin by being “active.”

    It would be absurd for someone to say that the JFVP is advocating “justification by living.” Right? Or that it was teaching “justification by being active.” The words “living” and “active” modify “faith.” It is just as absurd for someone to charge the JFVP with teaching “justification by personal loyalty” when the phrase “personally loyal” only describes the kind of faith that is instrumental in justification.

    You may not like the adjectival phrase “personally loyal,” but the signers of the FV statement are not advocating some back-door jusification by works. We’re just trying to describe the kind of faith that justifies and distinquish it from false faith. And we use the words “living” and “active” because these are the words James uses to describe the kind of faith that saves (James 2:14-26).

  55. Tony Phelps said,

    July 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Captain Obvious here again. I don’t see how the JSFV offers more clarity about the nature of saving faith when compared, once again, to the Westminster Standards. WCF 14.2 describes the nature of saving faith: “2. By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God himself speaking therein; and acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.”

    What’s inadequate about that statement? It even references James 2:14-26, as I recall. I think there is far more clarity in this statement, and the old Reformation cliche, “we are saved by faith alone – but not by a faith that remains alone,” than FV’s proposed alternatives which have caused much confusion. Sometimes, it seems to me like nothing more “chronological snobbery,” to steal CS Lewis’ phrase. As in Luther, Calvin, and the Westminster Divines were obviously limited by their historic & cultural context. But NT Wright? James Jordan? Peter Leithart? THEIR exegesis could not possibly be. So we need to reformulate… A little exegetical & historical humility would go a long way, I think.

  56. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Tony: I think the WCF 14.2 is great. The FV statement is not necessarily trying to improve on it, just bringing some more modern language to the table. It’s interesting that WCF 14.2 describes the kind of faith that justifies as “acting” certain ways and “yielding obedience,” etc. I don’t see how this is any different in principle than the FV statement. Would you accuse the WCF 14.2 of advocating “justification by yeilding obedience” or justification by “trembling at the threatenings”?

  57. Tony said,

    July 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Jeff: I think it’s great that you think WCF 14.2 is great. I also think it would have been great if the signers of JSFV had positively interacted with or at least referenced the Reformed confessions. And no, I wouldn’t accuse WCF of those things. Nor would I say the same of you, since you are now pretty clearly saying that faith alone is instrumental for justification – but that faith is always accompanied by good works. However, the works are by no means instrumental in our justification. If that’s what you mean, I say, “Yay!” Sounds like Reformed orthodoxy to me. I also say, “I wish you had said so sooner and more clearly!” You admitted in your brief response to the charges of your presbytery that you tend to learn better and clarify your views by writing. I can appreciate that. But I also think that as a PCA TE, perhaps it would have been more helpful to avoid confusion and misunderstanding if you not done so “out loud,” so publicly. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that, no?

  58. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Re: 57. I’ve never taught anything different. I’ve said the same thing on this topic throughout my 25 years of ministry. What’s happened is that my accusers have ignored my explicit statements and argued that other teachings of mine necessarily implied that I held an unorthodox doctrine of justification.

  59. Sean Gerety said,

    July 30, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    The words “living” and “active” and “personally loyal” all describe the kind of faith that justifies. They are adjectival. I don’t believe in justification by “personal loyalty” any more than I believe in justification by “living” or justificatioin by being “active.”

    That is precisely the problem with you Jeff as you speak out of both sides of your mouth. Here you say that you don’t believe in justification by personal loyalty, while at the same time you say living, active and personal loyalty are all adjectives that describe justifying faith. The problem is they are not descriptions of justifying belief at all. Belief in Christ alone and His finished work completely outside of ourselves is utterly passive. Have you forgotten the adjectives the Confessions writers used to describe saving faith as receiving and resting?

    It would be absurd for someone to say that the JFVP is advocating “justification by living.” Right?

    Yet, that is precisely what Federal Visionist do say. I’m a member of the Wrightsaid Yahoo group and you said:

    “Baptism makes one a disciple and disciples are called Christians. One may be a faithful disciple or an unfaithful disciple. But one is a disciple and Christian when one is baptized . . . Personally, I would like to see us out from under the straightjacket of the Westminster standards.”

    Through the magic of water baptism people are made Christians, not by mere belief alone, and they remain Christians through their obedience or personal loyalty which you say are “adjectival” of saving faith.

    Again, you wrote:

    “Israel, the bride, is to cling to Yahweh, her Husband and Lord, in faithfulness. What is this but salvation by faith? How is that wrong? . . . NT Wright’s point is that these [Reformed] confessions could be (and probably are) wrong. His argument is that the Lutheran law-gospel dichotomy is not particularly helpful in exegeting passages in Paul (to put it mildly).”

    And, again:

    “The rectification of the [Tax Collector] follows upon his being faithful to the covenant . . . There’s nothing in the parable to indicate that something was imputed to him. He was rectified because he did what was right. He was declared by God to be in the right. He was judged to be faithful (=righteous) to the real terms of the covenant.”

    A person is declared right with God by doing what is right. Your scheme of justification could not be clearer.

    Or that it was teaching “justification by being active.” The words “living” and “active” modify “faith.” It is just as absurd for someone to charge the JFVP with teaching “justification by personal loyalty” when the phrase “personally loyal” only describes the kind of faith that is instrumental in justification.

    There are both sides of your mouth moving at once again. If personally loyal describes the kind of faith that is instrumental in justification then personal loyalty is instrumental in justification. Are the seminary trained men at Covenant and in your presbytery that examined you so painfully stupid that they can’t see something even as simple as this?

    You may not like the adjectival phrase “personally loyal,” but the signers of the FV statement are not advocating some back-door jusification by works.

    That is exactly what I think as does dozens of church fathers who have studied the FV statement and your teaching for years and have found you wanting.

    We’re just trying to describe the kind of faith that justifies and distinquish it from false faith. And we use the words “living” and “active” because these are the words James uses to describe the kind of faith that saves (James 2:14-26).

    Big surprise. The FV men don’t understand James. Romanists don’t either. I guess you’re in the same boat.

  60. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 30, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    If some one wants to see if your accusations are true, they can read the transcripts of my trial and decide for themselves.

  61. Jack Bradley said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Sean, Your misreading, makes Letham “painfully stupid”.

    Robert Letham, The Westminster Assembly:

    pp. 271-272: [WCF 11.2] “. . . the section adds that saving faith is never alone in the one who is justified, but is always accompanied by other saving graces. It works through love. It is living faith, for without works faith is dead. . . If the faith through which we are justified is always accompanied by love, does not love justify? . . . This statement at the end of WCF 11.2 is directed against antinomianism, but it is not an acceptance of Romanism. We are not justified by faith working through love, as Rome held. We are justified only by faith, since only by Christ. The faith through which we are justified has reference exclusively to Christ. However, it happens to bear fruit at all times in love and evangelical obedience. But these latter things have to do with sanctification, the renewal brought about by the Spirit, not with our legal status before the bar of God’s justice. They are inseparable from the faith that justifies, but they are disconnected from the justification received through faith. They define the person justified, not the justification of the person. They describe the one who has faith, but do not constitute his standing before God received through faith.”

  62. Jack Bradley said,

    July 31, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Sean,

    Here are a couple more “painfully stupid” guys.

    John Murray, Collected Writings, Vol. 2, p. 220-221:

    “As regeneration is the fountain of faith and faith is the logical precondition of justification, we can never think of justification apart from regeneration. . . Faith works itself out by love. The faith that does not work is not the faith that justifies: ‘Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works’ (James 2:18).

    Robert Strimple, Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Lecture 23, 101 minute mark (available on itunes):

    “What is James’ answer to the question, ‘who has faith?’ ‘who is justified?’ His answer is that it is not the one who has a mere profession of faith. . . just a bare profession of faith. . . the demons would qualify on that basis. But it is the one who has a living faith in God. And a living faith is one that reveals itself—here’s where the element of demonstration comes in—by the works that it produces, the works which are its inevitable fruit and concomitant. . . Sometimes when we say ‘fruit’ we get into this business of saying, ‘Faith here, and then later, fruit.’ And so you still have a time when faith is all by itself. And so faith stands alone. I want to get rid of that idea, with the Westminster Confession of Faith again. . . Because those works are the fruit and concomitant of faith. That is, they go along with faith, so that whenever the faith is there, the works are there. They don’t come in at some later point, so that there was a time when ‘All I had was faith.’ They are faith’s fruit and concomitant.

    . . . True pistis, faith, has that element of entrustment: fiducia. . . that the demons don’t have. And that the false teachers that James is opposing don’t have. . . Bare faith—that doesn’t justify anybody. . . This [fiducia] faith is never without works.

    . . . Abraham was justified by a living faith, not a dead faith. Abraham was justified by a faith that works by love. . . It seems to me that is the way we must read verse 21 [of James 2] ‘justified by works’. ‘Works’ is a code word in the context, meaning living faith, as opposed to dead faith, which is what a bare faith is.

    Note well, that this does not now mean that we are to be justified by works after all. No. Faith alone justifies, because it is faith that receives and rests upon Christ and His righteousness alone for justification. But, as Paul says in Galatians 5:6, and James says in chapter 2, and the Westminster Confession of Faith says in chapter 11, paragraph 2: “This faith, which is the alone instrument of justification” as the WCF puts it, is not, and never is, alone. And that’s what James is teaching, in very arresting fashion, in James 2, beginning in verse 14. It is a living faith, a faith that works by love.

    . . . Institutes 3.11.20: I think very well put, very important section, where Calvin writes, and I quote: ‘Indeed we confess, with Paul, that no other faith justifies, but faith working through love. But it’—by ‘it’ he means faith—‘does not take its power to justify from that working of love. Indeed, it justifies in no other way but in that it leads us to fellowship with the righteousness of Christ.’

    . . . It doesn’t justify because it works, it justifies because it’s faith. But a living faith is always one that works by love. Faith without works is dead. It is really no faith, of course.

    . . . Faith is unto justification not because of anything it does, but because it is my looking to Christ only, resting in Christ. But it’s that very faith that always works by love. . . It’s living.”

  63. Reed Here said,

    July 31, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Sean: might your reference the source of this quote ascribed to Jeff?

    he key is to understand what “righteous” means. It does not refer to moral purity or conformity to a legal standard (the “Lutheran” mistake). “Righteousness” in the Bible means covenant faithfulness. A person is righteous when he does what the covenant requires of him.

    Thanks.

  64. Sean Gerety said,

    July 31, 2012 at 9:59 am

    @ Reed. The quote is from a response Meyers gave while a member of the Wrightsaid Yahoo group. Here is the exchange in full (highlights are mine – although play close attention to the role the Vantillian aberration of perspectivalism plays in Meyers’ “exegesis”):
    ___________________________

    Aug 30, 2002

    Re: [Wrightsaid] Pharisee/Tax collector

    Joel and Rachel Wilhelm wrote:

    > Luke 18:9-14 (ESV)
    > He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were
    > righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple
    > to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing
    > by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men,
    > extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast
    > twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector,
    > standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his
    > breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went
    > down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts
    > himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    >
    > We have the term “justified”–(dikaioo)–there used in a very Lutheran way it
    > seems to me.

    What’s “Lutheran” about this parable? Be careful not to read to much into it. The verb justified here cannot bear the full weight of the Lutheran doctrine of Justification. Always remember that theological terms used in systematic and confessional theology are loaded with a great deal more than such words normally bear. (see Poythress, _Symphonic Theology_).

    When the terms “justification” or “justify” or “righteous” (all have the
    same root) occur in the Bible they *never* mean everything that they mean in systematic theological contexts. The doctrine of “justification” is built up from many different passages, even from the story of the Bible as a whole, so that when we hear the word “justification” we think of the whole shebang. But you can’t dump all of that into each occurrence of one of these words in the Bible.

    Here in Luke 18 we learn that the Pharisee was not righteous (even though they thought he was) and the tax collector was righteous. The key is to understand what “righteous” means. It does not refer to moral purity or conformity to a legal standard (the “Lutheran” mistake). “Righteousness” in the Bible means covenant faithfulness. A person is righteous when he does what the covenant requires of him. The Pharisee thinks he’s righteous but
    in fact is not; the tax collected does not claim to be righteous, but in
    fact he is. The TC goes back to his house “justified” or “rectified,” which in context means, “shown to be righteous.”

    This text says nothing about God “imputing an alien righteousness” to the TC. One has to read that into the passage. Jesus, rather, is exposing the fact that the Pharisees are not truly *faithful* to the covenant. The TC’s humble plea *fulfills* the terms of the covenant. The TC is faithful to the covenant, that is “righteous.” His faithfulness to the covenant *is* his righteousness. This is why Jesus sums it all up with a call to humility. The covenant is faithfully fulfilled by those who humble themselves. The humble are justified.

    So I don’t understand how one can read into this passage a Lutheran doctrine of justification. Nothing is said about imputation. Nothing is said about an alien righteousness being needed. In fact, the notion of an alien righteousness being imputed to the TC hardly fits with the story. The TC’s righteousness is his humility. In other words, covenantal faithfulness (=righteousness) in this story means humility. When it says that the man is “justified” it means that he has proven his genuine “righteousness” (faithfulness to the covenant). To confess one’s sins and plead for mercy is righteous. It fulfils the terms of God’s covenant with Israel.

    I don’t have my little commentary on Luke by NT Wright at the moment. My assistant (ahem) has it. But I’ve read enough of Wright to channel him after a scotch or two, so I’d bet a pint of beer that Wright says something similar.

    Jeffrey J. Meyers
    Senior Pastor, Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church
    9229 Lawndale Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63126

  65. Jon Barlow said,

    July 31, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Sean, Meyers was asked about that passage in two separate places in the committee investigation and in the trial. What did you not find satisfactory about the answers therein?

    Also, suppose Jeff is entirely wrong about the exegesis of this parable; that doesn’t necessarily mean that his view of the systematic theological doctrine of justification is wrong.

  66. Reed Here said,

    July 31, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Thanks Sean.

  67. Sean Gerety said,

    July 31, 2012 at 11:58 am

    @Jon.

    Why don’t you want to stay on topic and deal with what Meyers has said here Jon? He not only doesn’t distance himself from the FV statement on saving faith, he completely affirms it. He said; “The words ‘living’ and ‘active’ and ‘personally loyal’ all describe the kind of faith that justifies. They are adjectival.”

    According to Meyers the faith that saves is the one that works and does what the covenant requires. Read the FV statement on justification again Jon:

    “We deny that the faith which is the sole instrument of justification can be understood as anything other than the only kind of faith which God gives, which is to say, a living, active, and personally loyal faith. Justifying faith encompasses the elements of assent, knowledge, and living trust in accordance with the age and maturity of the believer.”

    A “living trust” is synonymous with personal loyalty and is the third element of saving faith along with assent and knowledge. As Jeff said personal loyalty describes saving faith. It is precisely in this third, or what some call the fiducial element of saving faith (which in the traditional understanding is, at best, ambiguous) where FVists like Jeff slip in justification by works through the back-door. Jeff openly affirms what he says he denies and evidently this is enough to convince (or, better, fool) investigative committees. I get it. Yet, this is absolutely key to understanding the entire FV movement.

    As James Jordan put it:

    Some men remain in the PCA because God has told them they have a duty to help the 7000 who have not yet bowed the knee to antichrist. They hatred of the Kingship of Jesus, which characterizes so much of the PCA, is with fighting. The Reformed faith is that faith includes fiducia, and this is still worth fighting for, regardless of how many antinominian blogs hate it.

    Notice how Jordan employs his understanding of saving faith in reference to and in opposition to antinominianism. That should be a red flag that even Covenant Seminary types and Missouri Presby folks can see, just like when Jeff cites James 2 in terms of forensic justification. He said; “And we use the words “living” and “active” because these are the words James uses to describe the kind of faith that saves (James 2:14-26).”

    All this may seem like minor points to you and the men on the investigative committee, but it is the exact point that separates the FV from biblical Christianity. As Mark Kim correctly observers above (#52): “Genuine faith produces obedience (James 2:14-26) but those two are never conflated or confused (like justification and sanctification).”

    But, why do you and Jeff persist? I think at this late date these are settled points in the dispute. Besides, the PCA has exonerated Federal Visionists in one presbytery after another, from the Souixlands to the Pacific Northwest to presbyteries in between. You guys have won. Federal Visionists are safe in the PCA. So why do you keep sticking your necks out on blogs like this one? I really don’t understand the psychology of people like you and Jeff.

  68. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Sean, you’ve quoted comments of mine made ad hoc on a internet discussion list 10 years ago. A lot of theological and exegetical water has passed under my bridge in 10 years. As Jon has pointed out, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to explain, clarify, and correct my part in that discussion (to the satisfaction of my presbytery on multiple ocassions). If you care to read what I’ve said, it’s all part of the public record. If you give it an honest reading, you will see that I did not “fool” the presbytery’s investigative committees or the jury. And I have never sought to “slip in justification by works.”

  69. Sean Gerety said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Jeff, those quotes you made 10 years ago are consistent to what you’re saying now. Why is it you don’t want to deal with what you’ve said here? You affirm the FV statement and defend its definition of saving faith. This isn’t old news Jeff. This is where you stand even today.

  70. July 31, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Reblogged this on The Sovereign Logos.

  71. July 31, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    This blog world feels like wiki leaks..thus, my cue to never engage here again, unless is absolutely ncessary. Side comment yes, but we must be careful what we say in public. A good post on reformation 21 talks about thinking out loud. Back in my cave (pray for India right now), Andrew. PS the stuff in this thread is fascinating! Please don’t give me a trim :-)

  72. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Sean, I’m not sure I understand. I’ve already explained the FV statement on faith and why I think it’s consitent with the WCF and the Scriptures. I’ve not refused to deal with what I’ve said in defense of that statement. There’s no justification by works there. There’s no justification by personal loyalty in that statement. There’s just a description of the kind of faith that saves.

  73. Reed Here said,

    July 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Jeff: I do appreciate your efforts in response to Sean’s challenges.

    I accept that in your description of saving faith by adjectives such as “personal loyalty” you do not intend in any manner to mix works with justification. As you know, in these discussions, negative as well as positive clarification is always helpful. Might you direct us to statements which clarify your understanding of the relationship between faith as adjectively described and justification? Again, particular references in the transcript (if you covered this in the trial) would be sufficient.

    Greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

  74. barlowjon said,

    July 31, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I think we have to accept, in a discussion like this, that there will be some parties who will not see eye to eye on whether a man has adequately stated things so that:

    1. His present beliefs are accepted as orthodox
    2. His claims about his present beliefs are believed
    3. His present statements are credibly explained in light of his past statements

    It strikes me that given the posts here already from Jeff about the JFVP concerning faith, there’s not much more profitable discussion to be had about that issue. Sean is not satisfied, I understand that, but I don’t think further discussion of that issue will change that. He either accepts that Jeff is not trying to sneak works into faith or he doesn’t, but I think it is clear Jeff claims not to be sneaking works into faith and has credibly sketched a reason why that is. His yes is yes, his no is no. Sean has already written off the PCA, and I think it is more profitable to discuss this trial with parties who have skin in the game.

  75. barlowjon said,

    July 31, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Sorry, Reed, we must have hit send at the same time. I’m just seeing your good question to Jeff. I didn’t mean “further discussion of that issue” to include that question. I meant more about the JFVP and whether it meant a sneaking in of works in Jeff’s eyes.

  76. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Reed, look at my document “An Answer to the Charges and Specifications”:

    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/62419900/JJMAnswerstoCharges.pdf

    You will find my defense of the FV statement on faith on pp. 21-27.

    Also, look at pp. 40ff in the 3rd doc of the trial transcripts for my response on the stand to the prosecution’s question about this:

    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/62419900/Meyers%20Trial%20Transcripts/MeyersTrial3.pdf

  77. Reed Here said,

    July 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks Jeff, Jon.

  78. July 31, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Sean,

    To be fair to Jeff, he addressed that part of the JFVS directly both before and during the trial. We can discuss his answers, but he did answer directly. So, I’m going to diverge a bit and address Jordan’s statement.

    Jordan, like many FV proponents, is a theonomist (though to be clear and fair, not all theonomists are FVers). Any non-theonomist would match that description in the eyes of a theonomist. To a hyper-theonomist like Jordan, apparently non-theonomists are all antinomian.

    That said, Jordan doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of ‘fiducia’ in his quoted statement. Fiducia is trust, not loyalty. Good works RESULT from fiducia. As our Confession says, “These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith…” They are not the faith, but are evidences of it. That’s one of the places that I see many FVers running off the rails. To add the term “loyalty” to faith as the JFVS takes faith down a whole different path than the WCF and Scripture go.

  79. rcjr said,

    July 31, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    What Bob said. Thank you Bob.

  80. Tom Albrecht said,

    July 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    #78

    To be clear and fair, Jordan no longer self-identifies as a theonomist.

  81. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 31, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Re: 78. I thought we’ve already established that the JFVS statement does not *add* loyalty to faith. You have “loyalty” in quotes, but the JFVS does not use that term. Rather, the statement describes the kind of faith that saves as a “personally loyal faith”. Nothing is being added to faith as the instrument of justification.

  82. July 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Jeff, RE #81,

    Thank you for correcting my imprecise language. I think, though, that a “personally loyal faith” is the same thing. That seems to me to be a simple analysis base on the common use of the English language. I’m not sure how you can say that the JFVS didn’t add loyalty to faith when it clearly modifies the word “faith” with “personally loyal”. I’m not basing that on theology, but plain English. What am I missing?

  83. July 31, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    rcjr,

    You’re welcome, and thank you for your kind assessment.

  84. July 31, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Tom, RE #80,

    That reminds me of a pagan back in the 80’s who called herself Claire Elizabeth Prophet. At the time, it cost $40 to enter the room and hear one of her sermons in person. She used to say to her audience, “Aren’t you tired of being called ‘sinners’?” I always thought to myself that I might get tired of being called short, but that doesn’t make me tall.

    Put another way, a rose by any other name will still stick your finger. Most squirrels don’t self-identify, but it isn’t hard to ID one.

  85. Jeff Meyers said,

    July 31, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Re: 82. So would you say that the WCF and other Reformed confessional documents are adding “living” to faith? And adding “activity” to faith? No, they are simply describing what kind of faith saves—a living, active faith. In a similar way, the JFVS simply delineates true faith over against “faith” or “belief” that does not save. The demons “believe” or “have faith” (pisteuo), but that faith is not living, active, or personally loyal to the Lord.

  86. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    July 31, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    James Jordan has not been a Theonomist since the late 1980’s.

    In this interview with Greg Bahnsen done in 1994, Bahnsen notes in the next to last question that James Jordan is no longer a Theonomist nor is he involved in the Christian Reconstruction movement. Bahnsen also critiques Jordan’s “Interpretive Maximalism”.

    http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pe179.htm

  87. July 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Jeff, Re #85,

    The Standards stick to Biblical language. James 2 contrasts live and dead faith, hence a “lively” faith in the language of the 17th century. The same passage also points to a true faith, which is also contrast in Mt 7:21-23. No where in Scripture or in the Standards do I see faith characterized as “personally loyal”. I believe that this is unbiblical because it adds works where they do not belong. What would be the value or helpfulness of adding a descriptor to faith that is neither Biblical nor confessional?

  88. July 31, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Ben, RE #86,

    Thank you for the helpful link. In the answer you indicate, Bahnsen says, citing Jordan, that Jordan is no longer a Reconstructionist. That’s a specific flavor of theonomy. Just because Jordan no long follows Reconstructionism doesn’t mean he isn’t another flavor of theonomy. In fact, in the previous answer, Bahnsen clearly indicates that all theonomists aren’t the same. I believe that Jordan’s words and writings indicate a hypertheonomy combined with a hyperpostmillenialism wrapped in high church liturgy and sacerdotalism. The combination leads to some pretty bizzare theology. It certainly didn’t acquit itself well in Tyler, nor has it since.

    Bottom line: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, chances are that it isn’t a rhinoceros.

  89. William Scott said,

    July 31, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I’m not FV and I affirm the vital importance of the clear Scriptural teaching of the imputation of Christ’s Active Righteousness, etc. However, the affirmation that faith must be “living” or “active” faith (and thus “personally loyal faith”) in order to justify/continue to partake in the perfect justification in Christ is certainly not contrary to the teaching of justification by faith alone as articulated by Luther.

    Luther–1540 sermon:
    The sins remaining in saints after conversion are various evil inclinations, lusts and desires natural to man and contrary to the Law of God. The saints, as well as others, are conscious of these sins, but with this difference: they do not permit themselves to be overcome thereby so as to obey the sins, allowing them free course; they do not yield to, but resist, such sins, and, as Paul expresses it here, incessantly purge themselves therefrom. The sins of the saints, according to him, are the very ones which they purge out. Those who obey their lusts, however, do not do this, but give rein to the flesh, and sin against the protest of their own consciences.

    They who resist their sinful lusts retain faith and a good conscience, a thing impossible with those who fail to resist sin and thus violate their conscience and overthrow their faith. If you persist in that which is evil regardless of the voice of conscience, you cannot say, nor believe, that you have God’s favor. So then, the Christian necessarily must not yield to sinful lusts.

    http://www.orlutheran.com/html/mlse1co5.html

    In another sermon:
    The apostle refers to this subject in Romans 7: 5, 8, 23, and elsewhere, frequently explaining how, in the saints, there continue to remain various lusts of original sin, which constantly rise in the effort to break out, even gross external vices. These have to be resisted. They are strong enough utterly to enslave a man, to subject him to the deepest guilt, as Paul complains (Rom 7, 23); and they will surely do it unless the individual, by faith and the aid of the Holy Spirit, oppose and conquer them.

    29. Therefore, saints must, by a vigorous and unceasing warfare, subdue their sinful lusts if they would not lose God’s grace and their faith. Paul says in Romans 8, 13: “If ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” In order, then, to retain the Spirit and the incipient divine life, the Christian must contend against himself.

    http://www.orlutheran.com/html/mlseco31.html

    I would encourage ya’ll to click the links and read the entire sermons.

    Luther says likewise in innumerable passages throughout his great reformation career.

    I’m not saying that the understanding of justification by faith alone held by Luther is the position of the WCF–but it would be absurd to say that Luther (or someone who holds a position like him on Baptism or apostasy) is a damnable heretic who denies the Gospel or justification by faith alone.

    God Bless.

  90. William Scott said,

    July 31, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    p.s. Not that I’m saying that anyone here considers someone who holds a position like Luther is a damnable heretic–but it does come across that way sometimes…

  91. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    July 31, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Ok Bob.

  92. Andy Gilman said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:50 am

    In #56 Jeff says:

    “I think the WCF 14.2 is great. The FV statement is not necessarily trying to improve on it, just bringing some more modern language to the table. It’s interesting that WCF 14.2 describes the kind of faith that justifies as “acting” certain ways and “yielding obedience,” etc. I don’t see how this is any different in principle than the FV statement. Would you accuse the WCF 14.2 of advocating “justification by yeilding obedience” or justification by “trembling at the threatenings”?

    But 14.2 does not describe the “kind of faith that justifies” as “‘acting’ certain ways and ‘yeilding obedience'”. It describes what the Christian does “by faith.” Believing, yeilding, trembling and embracing are what Christians do “by faith,” and principally what Christians do by faith is “accepting, receiving and resting upon Christ alone…” “Yeilding,” “trembling,” and “embracing” are not words defining “faith.” You might as well say that justifying faith is a living, active, personally loyal, believing, yeilding, trembling, embracing, accepting, receiving, resting, loving, joyful, patient, peaceful, kind, gentle, faithful, long suffering, merciful, sincere, diligent, repentant, obedient, holy, persevering kind of faith?

  93. Mark Kim (Grace Toronto) said,

    August 1, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Can the understanding of saving faith as a passive resting and trusting in Christ and his merits for justification be incompatible with this faith also being characterized as being “active in love”? I think this is the key issue here.

  94. August 1, 2012 at 8:09 am

    To further reinforce what Andy said re. #56, and that Rev. Myers is still apparently not reading WCF 14.2 correctly, just read WLC 72, which makes it plain that “JUSTIFYING faith” is entirely passive. Or, why else would the divines have added this question? Here it is:

    Question 72: What is justifying faith?

    Answer: Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receives and rests upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

  95. Sean Gerety said,

    August 1, 2012 at 8:28 am

    @85 and speaking of demon faith, maybe you need to take a closer look at the passage Jeff. James said; “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” Monotheism doesn’t save. Are you surprised by that? There is nothing in the passage that says one can believe in the truth of Christ and in his finished work completely apart and outside of anything wrought in them that they will not be saved if they somehow lack “personal loyalty.” Your twisting of James is a demonstration of your denial of justification by faith alone because you admit that believing the Gospel is not enough; to be saved one must be personally loyal too. You confuse that which results from true belief with belief itself.

    BTW, I read through your testimony and I remain unmoved. Your affirmation of JBFA is nothing more than a meaningless deception because you have redefined what it is that you mean by faith. The fact that you come here and continue to defend the FV statement of faith and shove it in the faces of the men here is outrageous. I am amazed to this day that you and your fellow FV travelers haven’t all been laughed out of the PCA. But, since Bob wants me to be fair, the best I can say about you and your testimony to the committee and concerning your testimony here is that perhaps you have even succeeded in deceived yourself and sincerely believe personal loyalty is the sin qua non of saving faith.

  96. Jeff Meyers said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Why does the conversation always need to degenerate to the level of #92? I’ve never said that someone will not be saved if they believe in the truth of Christ and his finished work but “somehow lack personal loyalty.” The JFVS does not say, and I have never said that “believing the Gospel is not enough; to be saved one must be personally loyal too.” And I have never even remotely suggested that “personal loyalty is the sine qua non of saving faith.” I repudiate such formulations. I’ve never said these things and I don’t believe or teach them.

    Here’s another stab at it. This is from Donald Macleod’s _A Faith to Live by_ (Mentor, 1998). I assume you guys have some respect for his theological acumen. Chapter 11, “What is Faith?” has this:

    What, then, is the nature of saving faith. It involves two basic elements. First of all, it means belief, or assent. It is an intellectual commitment: the submission of the mind to the truth of the Gospel. . . .

    Secondly, faith is trust. It begins with belief, but it is always more than belief. It is a personal commitment to God in Christ. That has sometimes been disputed. . . . Trust is emphasized in the New Testament. With the heart we believe and because we believe we come to Christ. We turn to Christ and we look to Christ. Our faith is directional. It is dynamic. It is mobile. Faith is a leaning grace. It leans on God. Faith is a grace that wraps the soul around the Saviour, not all that far removed from love. It is a personal relationship. It begins with belief that, in the light of all the information we have, Christ is trustworthy. That is a proposition: “Christ is trustworthy.” But my faith moves on from that to actual commitment, and that is brought out fully in many biblical metaphors. We trust God as we trust our father. We trust Christ as a flock trusts it’s shepherd. We trust Christ as we trust a physician. . .

    Is Macloed’s use of “personal commitment” (extra-biblical language) to describe the nature of saving faith all that different from describing faith with the adjectival qualifier “personally loyal”? And as Macleod describes it, faith is not entirely passive but is “dynamic,” “mobile,” and “wraps the soul around the Saviour.” These are all extra-biblical ways of describing the nature of saving faith as “trust” (fiducia).

  97. Jon Barlow said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:58 am

    RE 90 and 91 – we can do this so many ways to try and get at the nature of justifying faith. One way is to divide faith into various aspects and designate which aspect is involved with justification. One way to is to describe various acts of faith and designate what kind of acts are okay for justification (receiving, for instance) and which kinds aren’t. All of this is helpful with respect to various questions that arise when doing theology. But the point remains, we still want to say something about that faith itself – that it is true faith, and we can’t really construe a man to be saying something pernicious or deny something important simply because he wants to find a way to emphasize that the faith, with its various aspects, or the faith, with its various actions, is a true faith. When I think about it, I sometimes ask “what does it mean for faith to have an ‘aspect’ to it” and that puts me back on the realization that our trying to define acts and aspects is always in the service of trying to protect various values. One of those values is that we want to protect justification from human works, and I think Jeff shares that value. Thus, it is unfair to come, in advance, with an expectation that the only way to protect that value is to limit oneself to a particular formulation that protects that value. There are other formulations a man may make and not be risking a theological verity, and once we’ve interrogated him to make sure his motivations are good and his use of his formulations are okay, then we need to drop it and move on to other things.

  98. August 1, 2012 at 11:56 am

    RE #93,

    I’ve not read Macleod’s book so I’m not sure if he’s trying to tie his argument to James 2. I offer the following from R.C. Jr., which follows our Standards more narrowly on avoiding common errors when considering saving faith:

    We avoid both problems when we embrace the wisdom of our fathers, the Westminister Divines. In their Shorter Catechism they ask, “What is faith in Jesus Christ?” and answer, “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered to us in the gospel” (question 86). Faith is not a work on two counts. First, it is a gift from God. It is not just received by grace, but is a grace. Faith is something God gives to us. On our own it is not possible, for we are dead in our trespasses and sins. And note that our faith has a specific object- as He is offered to us in the gospel.”

    Second, faith, by its nature, is passive. We rest; we do not work. We receive; we do not earn. There is more to resting than mere assent, but there is not more work. Indeed there is no work at all, just resting and receiving the very ground of our salvation- the work of Christ for us.

    Either way, loyalty doesn’t enter into it on our part. Again without having read the context for the Macleod quotation, I take “personal commitment” to be equivalent to trust, which seems to be the core of Macleod’s point.

    I’m still not sure why, as a PCA officer, having your name on the JFVS is so important to you. This issue of a “personally loyal faith” is just one of a number of issues that Lane, Scott Clark, I, and others have critiqued in the JFVS. It doesn’t seem to me that this hill is worth the battle over.

  99. August 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Just a quick note. There were a number of comments in moderation. I released them, but that changed the comment numbering. Sorry, but there’s no way to avoid that happening.

  100. Sean Gerety said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Jeff, I suppose things degenerate because 1) you’re not being honest, or 2) you don’t understand what it is you’re saying (with a nod to Bob Mattes).

    You wrote:

    The demons “believe” or “have faith” (pisteuo), but that faith is not living, active, or personally loyal to the Lord.

    What are we to infer from this other than what is lacking in the faith of demons is personal loyalty?

    Elsewhere and concerning the First Commandment you wrote:

    Israel, the bride, is to cling to Yahweh, her Husband and Lord, in faithfulness. What is this but salvation by faith? How is that wrong?

    As for Macloed, at best he’s ambiguous and his argument is tautological for to believe someone is to trust what they say. Similarly, to trust someone is to believe that what they say is true. The words “belief” and “trust” are synonyms, at least in English, so Macloed’s explanation is far from helpful.

    However, in your case and in the case of the FV profession of faith that you signed, you’re understanding of the third “fudicial” element that is supposed to make ordinary belief saving is not tautological at all. I’ve been saying for years that the central problem in stopping the FV and removing you men out of the PCA once and for all is that the FV has been extremely successful in exploiting the weakness in the Reformed faith when it comes to understanding what faith is.

    Look, don’t get me wrong, I have to hand it to you guys, you are masters at attacking the Reformed faith at one of its most unguarded points. If you think I’m exaggerating, those who frequent this blog will remember that not that long ago Doug Wilson had Lane tied up in knots over the “aliveness of faith” and it’s relation to justification.

    I don’t know why this would be a surprise to anyone as it was the means by which Norm Shepherd was able to tie up the faculty and administration at WTS for years as O. Palmer Robertson observed:

    For in his view the faith that justifies is itself a work of obedience which is an integral aspect of the larger covenantal response of obedience for justification. If justification is by obedient faith, it also is by the obedience of faith. If justification is by a working faith, it also is by the works of faith. Even the classic assertion that justification is by faith alone thus comes to mean that justification is by faith and by works, since the faith that justifies is understood as integral to good works done as the way of justification.

    In his commentary on Galatians, Calvin warned:

    When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle. Paul does not here treat of justification, or assign any part of the praise of it to love.

    I would add to Calvin’s warning the word “loyalty.”

  101. Jeff Meyers said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Just to be clear, then, my comment about the degeneration of the argument was a reference to comment #95 (after the updated numbering).

  102. Jack Bradley said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Sean,

    How do you square your Calvin quote with mine? He obviously does make mention of love in connection with justification.

    Institutes 3.11.20: “Indeed we confess, with Paul, that no other faith justifies, but faith working through love. But it does not take its power to justify from that working of love. Indeed, it justifies in no other way but in that it leads us to fellowship with the righteousness of Christ.”

    And I’m still waiting for some interaction from you regarding my other quotes: Letham, Murray, Strimple. Are they in your “painfully stupid” category, or not?

  103. Jack Bradley said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Mark #93: “Can the understanding of saving faith as a passive resting and trusting in Christ and his merits for justification be incompatible with this faith also being characterized as being “active in love”? I think this is the key issue here.”

    I agree. This is the key issue here. Calvin, Letham, Murray and Strimple clearly say: Yes, it is compatible.

  104. tony phelps said,

    August 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    To piggyback on #89, Luther is helpful in distinguishing between passive and active faith. My paraphrase: Before God, faith is entirely passive, and receives the forgiveness of sins and righteousness of Christ. Before neighbor, faith is active in love. Before God, I want to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified for me. Before neighbor, the fruit of my passive faith is active in love – or it is no faith at all. The former is the passive faith of Romans 3:28 et al. The latter is the active faith of James 2:14-26. Good theology is the business of making the right exegetical distinctions. I think the weakness of the JSFV is that it muddies the distinction between passive and active faith. Passive faith is the priority in justification. Active faith is the priority in sanctification.

    Luther from his preface to Romans, describing active faith:
    “Faith … is a divine work in us which changes us and makes us to be born anew of God, … It kills the old Adam and makes us altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers; and it brings with it the Holy Spirit. O it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done them, and is constantly doing them. Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever. He gropes and looks around for faith and good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Yet he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works.”

  105. August 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Someone far above suggested that people like Leithart and Jordan should show a bit of humility in their advocacy of supposed FV views. Well, uh, the Federal Vision CONVERSATION is a CONVERSATION, as we have said about 150,000 times over the last ten years. It is not a POSITION, save insofar as it is a position of being open to more strictly Biblical ways of saying what has pretty much always been said. Or maybe you don’t know what a conversation is?

  106. Mark Kim (Grace Toronto) said,

    August 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Mr. Jordan, yes we do know what a conversation is and your comment “Or maybe you don’t know what a conversation is?” does not help much in alleviating our prejudices against the FV people about their attitude and humility in this whole discourse.

  107. August 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Mr. Kim, actually I have to wonder, not about you yourself but about what I’ve seen here and at similar locations over the last decade. In the art of conversation each side listens to the other and hears what the other is saying, seeks to understand what is meant by what is being said, what the concerns are, and so forth. In ten years of reading this blog on and off, I see virtually no evidence of this. In fact, the present series is a case in point: Where is the attempt to understand Meyers? Over and over he has to correct wild statements by pointing to what he has actually written.

    My comment, however, was pointed not at your “we”, not a comment on this blog as such, but was pointed to the particular person who said those of us who are in the FV conversation and who offer our thoughts as grist for the mill within the Reformed world (which is much wider than one particular tradition’s understanding of the WCF), that we lack humility. Anyone who has read the FV statement knows that it is not in any way offered as a final word.

  108. Sean Gerety said,

    August 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Is this the same James Jordan now lecturing us on wanting to have a “conversation” within the Reformed world who wrote on the Biblical Horzions site:

    Oh, it’s true enough: We depart from the whole Reformation tradition at certain pretty basic points. It’s no good pretending otherwise. I think the PCA is perfectly within its rights to say no to all BH types. We are NOT traditional presbyterians. The PCA suffers us within itself, but we are poison to traditional presbyterianism. We are new wine, and the PCA is an old skin. So, for the sake of the people we are called to minister to, we do our best. But we don’t really “belong” there.

  109. August 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    [...] Providentially, I haven’t had time to follow-up in a timely manner. Also, the discussion on the previous post announcing the record release has proven fruitful and that took [...]

  110. August 2, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Ah, Mr. Gerety. I may well be. But since you want to have a conversation, why don’t we start by your explaining to us what this Jordan guy was getting at, what he’s concerned about, what he means by what he wrote based on your reading of his work. As I wrote above: “In the art of conversation each side listens to the other and hears what the other is saying, seeks to understand what is meant by what is being said, what the concerns are, and so forth.” Back to you.

  111. Sean Gerety said,

    August 2, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Aren’t you being presumptuous? I don’t recall anyone saying they wanted a “conversation” with you? Did I miss it?

    But, you’re right, perhaps the little snippet I provided from “this Jordan guy” was insufficient for readers to grasp all that he had to say in context. So here is the rest of piece where the above selection was taken. I’ve highlighted some of my favorite bits.

    Well, John, sounds good to me. I’ve said for years that paedocommunion and non-pc cannot live together any more than infant and adult baptism. And by returning to pc, we drive back 1000 years, and definitely back before the Reformation. We also don’t like the rationalism of the “grammatical historical method” (a good way of weeding out about 95% of what the text means). I — and since BH is me, we — don’t think metrical psalms are real psalms and think Calvin and the Reformed tradition made a huge mistake by substituting metrical psalms for real ones — a gnostic move, since the assumption is that the IDEAS of the text are all that matter, and not the shape thereof. I could go on. . . .

    Oh, it’s true enough: We depart from the whole Reformation tradition at certain pretty basic points. It’s no good pretending otherwise. I think the PCA is perfectly within its rights to say no to all BH types. We are NOT traditional presbyterians. The PCA suffers us within itself, but we are poison to traditional presbyterianism. We are new wine, and the PCA is an old skin. So, for the sake of the people we are called to minister to, we do our best. But we don’t really “belong” there.

    I mean, think about it. Would any of you seek ordination in a Baptist denomination? No. Then why do you seek ordination in non-paedocommuning Presbyterian/Reformed denominations? Don’t tell me that these aren’t the same question, because at the practical level, American presbyterianism is just “Baptist light.” That’s what Banner of Truth Calvinism is, and why it’s been Reformed Baptists who most appreciate it. That what Duncan is. That’s what the So. Presbyterian tradition is. That’s what American individualist conversionist presbyterianism is: Baptists who sprinkle babies.

    I can’t really put feet on this, but I “feel” sure that the Reformation tradition is rationalistic precisely because it is anti-pc. Or maybe better, these are part of one complex. Being anti-pc was the greatest mistake of all the Reformers(except Musculus, and who cares about him?). This mistake is part of the heart of the Reformation; they knew about pc and rejected it. This has affected, or else helps be a part of, all kinds of things, like piety, liturgy, and hermeneutics.

    So, why are you trying to get ordained presbyterian? Why not seek to get ordained Baptist? There are a whole lot more baptists out there. A bigger pond. Larger sphere of influence.

    Well, it’s because the baptists won’t have us, and so far the presbys will. But there’s no reason why the presbys should receive us, since sacramentally speaking we are NOT Reformed and NOT presbyterian.

    I’m a little bit sympathetic with Duncan & Co. when they suspect some of you guys are not being honest when you try to show that you’re just good traditional Reformed guys. I guess it’s a good thing I did not make it to the Knox Seminary discussion, because I would have openly said, “I’m not on the same page as Calvin and the Reformation in these regards.” Showing that the Reformed tradition is wider and muddier than Duncan wants it to be is fine, but the fact is that if you believe in pc, you’re not in the Reformed tradition at all in a very significant and profound sense. No more than you’re Baptists.

    JBJ >:-}

    James B. Jordan
    Director, Biblical Horizons
    Box 1096
    Niceville, FL 32578

    Back to you.

  112. Mark Horne said,

    August 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    But 14.2 does not describe the “kind of faith that justifies” as “‘acting’ certain ways and ‘yielding obedience’”. It describes what the Christian does “by faith.”
    —————————
    I find this interpretation of 14.2 is impossible. It would mean that the next chapter on “Repentance unto life” contains no definition of the term in the chapter head:

    “2. By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments.”

    What is done “by” repentance unto life *is* the definition of repentance unto life.

    In any case, the accusations against TE Jeff Meyers were also contrary to 11.2 in the confession. It states that justifying faith ” is no dead faith, but worketh by love” thus tying in James 2. The signatories to the Joint FV document were simply asserting Reformed and Confessional orthodoxy by affirming that we are justified by a “personally loyal” faith.

  113. August 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Mark,

    I will reply to your comment on 14.2, but would someone please explain what a “personally loyal” faith is? We keep talking around it, but no one has really defined what is meant by a “personally loyal” faith. Thanks.

  114. Mark Horne said,

    August 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    A faith that is not simply a recitation of words. A faith that clings to Christ and no other alleged savior. A faith that refuses to believe the promises of salvation or glory made by anyone else. A faith that produces personal loyalty. Something like that.

    A faith that is not dead but living, that works by love.

  115. August 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Mark,

    Thank you for the definition. I’m tied up tonight, but will get back to you with some thoughts tomorrow.

  116. August 2, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Mark,

    Faith does not “work by love” FOR justification (final or otherwise). I am not sure that is what you are saying, but 11.2 says this:

    “II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.”

    The emphasis — like 14.2 and WLC 72 — is upon receiving and resting on Christ alone. THEN, if one has justifying faith — which merely receives and rests — one will also have a faith which works by love stemming from that initial resting; i.e. as part of “all other saving graces.” But the works of love are NOT the faith which justifies.

    Or else: how MANY works or how MUCH love (or how much personal loyalty) do I need to have in order to be justified? That is a sincere question, not mere rhetoric.

  117. Mark Horne said,

    August 3, 2012 at 9:03 am

    I don’t believe “‘work for love’ FOR justification” is a reasonable interpretation of what I am saying. And your last question is no more problematic than the eternal soul-searching question I have heard pastors encourage us to ask at the Lord’s supper. “Has my faith been genuinely empty of trust in good works?” or, in other words, “Was I passive enough?” or, another version: “Am I REALLY converted.”

    In my opinion, these barbs ought to be aimed at the Westminster Divines and then at James and then at the Holy Spirit. Or better don’t aim them at all. I’m happy to work on them as problems to be solved, but not as accusations to be answered.

    The Apostle Paul shows us though, how this works. Believers are assured of their salvation up to the point of Church discipline. Thus, the Corinthians are asked if they are “really” in Christ at the end of the second letter when he is about to come to them and hold trials with 2 or 3 witnesses. So in general, when you insist you can ignore church discipline and abandon your spouse, your “faith” has insufficient works.

    (But I do wonder if that covers everything James is speaking of in James 2. That is pretty much all I can do with it at this point in my understanding.)

  118. August 3, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I certainly agree that if a person ignores church discipline, then they, by all evidences, lack saving faith.

    But church discipline is not often mentioned in the NT passages dealing with assurance, nor mentioned at all in the WCF chapter on assurance.

    In fact, WLC 171 says that those who take the Lord’s Supper are to prepare themselves by “examining themselves of them being in Christ,” among other things. I’m certain that means more than just asking, “am I under official church discipline.”

    I am no fan of the fencing questions you reference above, but there is a wide gap between those and simply asking folks whether they are currently resting in Christ alone for their justification.

    And they are still less problematic than the question your system seems to require: do I have ENOUGH good works? do I have ENOUGH love to prove that my resting in Christ is real?

    Of course, if you are simply saying, nah, my requirements are not that high, all I ask is whether folks are baptized and not under church discipline, well then we are back to square one: what is saving faith?

  119. Sean Gerety said,

    August 3, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I’m not too sure what Mark is rambling on about above, but he sounds like a politician caught in a lie. :) Besides, what on earth does church disciple have to do with justification by faith alone!? FWIW I don’t know anyone who thinks men like Mark and Jeff deny justification by faith. Roman Catholics believe in justification by faith too. The question has to do with faith being alone.

    Mark writes:

    TE Jeff Meyers were also contrary to 11.2 in the confession. It states that justifying faith ” is no dead faith, but worketh by love” thus tying in James 2. The signatories to the Joint FV document were simply asserting Reformed and Confessional orthodoxy by affirming that we are justified by a “personally loyal” faith.

    James 2 has nothing to do with forensic justification. James 2 (specifically 2:17, 22, 26) has to do with justification before men. The last clause in WCF 11.2 has to do with the evidence of true belief. To employ James 2 as part of a definition of forensic justification (which is why I suppose Mark has brought in the question of church discipline) is to smuggle in works through the back door.

    And, simply saying you’re doing something doesn’t mean you’re not doing it. :)

  120. Sean Gerety said,

    August 3, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Oops, should read… simply saying you’re NOT doing something doesn’t mean you’re not doing it.

  121. Mark Horne said,

    August 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    James 2 has nothing to do with forensic justification. James 2 (specifically 2:17, 22, 26) has to do with justification before men.
    —————————
    You are free to argue this from Scripture as best you can, but as a convinced Presbyterian I agree with WCF 11.2. For the sake of time here I’m operating within that parameter and plan to not interact more widely.

  122. Mark Horne said,

    August 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    And Sean, regarding your remarks about my character, the Day of the Lord will reveal all.

  123. Mark Horne said,

    August 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Chris, for some reason I think this is less problematic than you do. I admit I’m struggling to see how it raises the problems it does. Of course, if someone is going to a lax church and is apathetic about Jesus that is a lot different than telling a conscientiously questioning parishioner how he can know he possesses true saving faith.

    But in your post I feel like I’m being treated to a view of assurance that is quite different from the one we see in the Confession. Thus WCF 3.8:

    “The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, **attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto**, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.”

    Professing Christians who are “attending the will of God, and yielding obedience thereto” get assurance. Others don’t. So “how MANY works or how MUCH love” is a question that really seems to make problems regarding virtually everything that the Westminster Divines say about faith and assurance that we are right with God. It might be good to ask why this obvious problem with their formulations did not occur to them.

    I’m not saying I can’t imagine your question as a real one. Just that I want it solved with mutual investigation and a real acknowledgment that this is a question within the Reformed Tradition. I’m not willing to engage in such questions in a brotherly manner with an accuser intent on my exile (a general point that covers the last decade or more).

    I think you are right to point out that I switched from the perspective of “How do I know I am in Christ?” to “How do I know you are in Christ?” and that needs more explanation. I think that sins, before they are matters of Church discipline in the face of contumacy, commonly start as secret sins. So I would say that we ought to examine ourselves that we are not harboring unbelief in that way, that has not yet been revealed to others.

    Finally, I don’t see how this can have nothing to do with assurance even if the word is not mentioned (ch 25)

    “2. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

    3. Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.”

    And then the sacraments (“ordinances” in the Church): “Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ, and his benefits; and **to confirm our interest in him**” Again, is this not assurance?

  124. Sean Gerety said,

    August 3, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Thankfully Mark, I don’t think anyone has to wait until the Day of the Lord for your character to be revealed. Don’t kid yourself. You’ve done an outstanding job revealing yourself already. Your misuse of James above is just a bonus. And, as a signer of the FVS I think your conflation of faith and works in justification is painfully clear. As Wes White observed:

    This is the Federal Vision Statement written by Douglas Wilson and signed by PCA Pastor Jeff Meyers [and Mark Horne]. It says:

    “We deny that the faith which is the sole instrument of justification can be understood as anything other than the only kind of faith which God gives, which is to say, a living, active, and personally loyal faith.”

    Now, notice that last phrase, “personally loyal faith.” Here’s how dictionary.com defines loyalty:

    1. The state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations.
    2. Faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc.

    They tried to slip one past us by using the word “loyal” instead of “faithful,” but it means basically the same thing. Faithfulness to commitments and faithful adherence, according to the Federal Visionists, is included in the “sole instrument of justification.” This is justification by faithfulness, justification by obedience, and justification by works. This is a rejection of the sola fide of the Reformation. http://tinyurl.com/d9kdoke

  125. August 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    OK, let’s please leave the character comments out and stick to the theology. We all feel strongly about our positions on this, and the issue is critical. But, we must keep the discussion centered on the theology. Thank you all in advance.

  126. August 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    “Mr.” Gerety,

    Ah. Now I see. You read other peoples’ mail, making you a dog. Either way, it is clear that no conversation is possible with you. In obedience to the one who will judge you in time, I do not cast pearls before swine. Hence, I have nothing to say to you. I could not if I wished, never having learned the language of swine.

    Should, however, some actual Christian human being wish to converse with me about the contents of this letter, I should be happy to do so. I receive mail at

    jbjordan4@cox.net

  127. Sean Gerety said,

    August 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Wow. I guess I should take that as a compliment. I’ve been called a “dog” by James Jordan. I guess that means I’ll be included in one of liturgies of hate, like the one John Robbins wrote about in the Reconstructionist Road to Rome (http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/087a-TheReconstructionistRoadtoRome.pdf):

    For special occasions, Jordan recommends cursing as part of the worship service. “It is the church,” he bellows, “that binds and looses on Earth” (280). “She is only to bind on Earth what she knows has been bound in Heaven,” and that is easily discerned. Here are some excerpts from the liturgy Jordan’s Reconstructionist church has used:

    “Presiding Elder. ‘Tonight we bring before you the names of _______________, who have attacked the church of Jesus Christ. We ask you to join with us in praying that God will pour out His wrath upon them, and upon all in alliance with them in this sinful act….

    (Praying) “Almighty and Most terrible God, Judge of all men living and dead, we bring before You _______________(here name the persons being cursed), who have brought an attack upon the integrity of Your holy government on the Earth. We as Your anointed office-bearers now ask that You place Your especial curse upon these people, and upon all in alliance with them. We ask You to pour out the fire of Your wrath upon them, and destroy them, that Your church may be left in peace…’” (281-282).

    What heinous persecution provoked this vitriol? It seems that a former teacher at the church’s school had filed for unemployment benefits (280-281). Well, add another chapter to Foxe’s Martyrs. One wonders what Jordan would recommend were the church actually to be persecuted. In any event, one need only contrast his suggested liturgy with the instructions Peter gives us about rulers in 1 Peter 2:13-23.

    It’s amazing how far ahead of the curve John was concerning you and the entire corrupt FV movement. The above was taken from a piece written in 1992! Robbins had you pegged way back then when he wrote about your denial of JBFA:

    Jordan apparently believes in salvation by works. He writes: “Paul goes on to speak [in Romans 2] of Gentiles who did not have the law, but who did the things contained in the law. The plain implication here is that such Gentiles were saved (by their faithful obedience)” (107).

    Too bad people didn’t listen to John back in ’92. If they did perhaps the PCA wouldn’t be in the trouble it’s in today because of men like you.

  128. August 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    To all and sundry,

    Anyone who follows Christ can easily see the evils in liberal “theologian” John Robbins’s Greek rationalistic heresies. Christians pray all the psalms, including those of imprecation. Interested parties can find this version of the ancient and traditional Liturgy of Malediction in my book The Sociology of Church. Copies can be ordered from Amazon, or Wipf and Stock, or at http://www.biblicalhorizons.com.

    And to the humans on the list, Robbins’s penchant for quoting partially and out of context is in plain view in #127. It amounts to a lie.

    It is sad how much the modernism of men like Robbins has blinded parts of the conversative church.

  129. Jack Bradley said,

    August 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Jordan and Gerety have each demonstrated that they are conversation-challenged, but I hope this conversation will continue.

  130. August 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Mark,

    I am a little bit at a loss how to respond. On the personal notes, I don’t even know where you live now or where you are pastoring, or if you are even pastoring, so I can hardly be seeking your exile. But I do want you to conform your thinking to the clear reading of Westminister — and thus to the Reformed faith — without constantly confusing people with your strange readings. I would not even care if you had not endeavored to make yourself a teacher of many via the internet. And I have largely stayed out of the debates these past few years — unless I see justification and assurance being messed with. I’m just trying to be as open as possible here.

    But whatever, to the issues — First, I granted, and still grant, that church discipline plays a role in assurance. I have used it to that end numerous times over the past few years. Few things are more joyous than restoring a brother to the Lord’s Supper as he once again learns to trust the Gospel for his salvation. It’s a good point, and I grant it. Thank you for reinforcing it.

    Second, you really want to read WCF 3 as saying our assurance of election is based upon our acts of obedience to the Bible? Read the sentence again — the assurance comes from “the certainty of their effectual vocation,” not the their obedience. Or, even if both phrases modify what brings assurance, Isn’t it also better to interpret the sentence by the whole paragraph, particularly the last phrase — that is, those who “sincerely obey the Gospel?” Of course, I realize that we may differ on that phrase (taken presumably from 2 Thes and I Peter) means.

    The point: the paragraph does not teach what you are saying it teaches, and my point is reinforced by the ACTUAL WCF chapter on assurance. It says nothing about our obedience as the GROUNDS of assurance, but rather the FRUIT of it. Interesting, isn’t it? (I suppose one could argue that to “walk in good conscience” are good works, but the whole point is that one gets assurance NOT from one’s own obedience, but from WHAT JESUS and the HOLY SPIRIT HAVE DONE for and in one. Here are the three relevant paragraphs (ignore the footnotes, too lazy to edit them out):

    I. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation[1] (which hope of theirs shall perish):[2] yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace,[3] and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.[4]

    II. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope;[5] but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation,[6] the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made,[7] the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God,[8] which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.[9]

    III. This infallible assurance does not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it:[10] yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto.[11] And therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure,[12] that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness ***in the duties of obedience,[13] the proper fruits of this assurance;*** so far is it from inclining men to looseness.[14]

    So, no, I don’t need to ask the Westminister Divines why they included our obedience as a grounds for our assurance, because they didn’t. Why rob glory from God in such a way? He alone saves and assures me.

  131. August 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Mark,

    A couple more thoughts (non-polemical this time), as I had to rush that last post a bit.

    First, I appreciate the interaction. It’s sharpening me and making me study. You are a clear and honest writer. I appreciate that more than you know.

    Second, I have not yet looked at the WLC on the question. Will do so shortly, really out of curiosity. Again, thanks for the prompting.

    Third, I do have a particular understanding of James 2, since you keep bringing it up. Obviously, I don’t think James is saying look to your obedience for assurance. It’s more negative than that — he is saying, if you don’t show mercy to others, then you never knew mercy yourself — you are not yourself justified — similar to Jesus’ teaching that if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven.

    Finally, I realize my answer above appears to be saying that I might give assurance to someone who is not in any way living the Christian life, even if they once said the sinners prayer or something. I do not. The question is the basis for why I say they should not have assurance.

    Blessings, Chris

  132. Mark Kim (Grace Toronto) said,

    August 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Just reading the discourse between Mr. Jordan and Mr. Gerety I’m just appalled at how low things can get (# 126 and # 128) here especially by someone who professes to be a “learned” Christian. I hope this doesn’t degenerate further by others engaged in this conversation.

    Aside from that, if someone here can answer this question (perhaps Mr. Horne can chime in here): is it possible to say that James 2:24 is talking about future justification without undercutting the once-for-all character of present justification received through faith alone (cf. Rom 3:28; Gal 2:16)?

  133. Sean Gerety said,

    August 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Mark, you shouldn’t be appalled by James’ remarks. They are tame by his standards. You might want to take a look at these pearls he dropped around when the PCA passed the FV/NPP report to put things in perspective:

    http://federal-vision.blogspot.com/2008/01/james-jordan-is-loose.html

  134. August 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Mark, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ and the Bible, and not of some post-18th century reduction of Biblical religion to mere sight-walking ideology, then by all means help yourself to the rebukes offered at these places. As a Christian elder (I’m 62), I am under orders to rebuke contentious men, but then to leave them to their vomit after 2-3 times. I am not to cast pearls before swine. These are my ORDERS.

    Ideologues are, of course, not men under orders. Those who make up lies about others stand condemned before all, as is evident by the amazement of every outside observer of this “FV Controversy” farce. I hope you will cling to Jesus and to the Bible, and not to any temporary and perforce imperfect local confessions of faith, however admirable most of what they say often is.

  135. Reed Here said,

    August 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Sean and James: enough, stop.

  136. Sean Gerety said,

    August 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Fair enough Reed. I stumbled on a website this evening with more high praise for the work of Meyers, Horne, and Jordan that might help get the discussion back on track. Actually, it’s a tribute and reads in part:

    I also know many good men who have studied James Jordan’s works or worked personally with Jeff Meyers and have now entered into the Catholic Church. Jeff Steel and Al Scharbach come to mind. I’m in contact with others who wish to remain anonymous. Jordan, Meyers, Horne, and the Auburn Ave set claim to be Protestant, but their fruits are proving otherwise. Their one-time adherents are turning to Rome.

    http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2009/12/catholic-tribute-to-james-jordan-jeff.html

  137. Sean Gerety said,

    August 5, 2012 at 8:11 am

    In another post Taylor Marshall, who pays tribute to Meyers, Horne, and Jordan above, explains why the “Auburn Ave set” have been so successful in turning their adherents to Rome. Marshall explains:

    Justification through faith alone and the hermeneutic of Scripture as the sole authority for Christian doctrine are rightly identified as the sine qua non of the Protestant Reformation. Without sola fide and sola scriptura buttressing Protestantism, all roads lead to Rome, plain and simple. http://tinyurl.com/csdzao8

    Can any Christian deny the accuracy of Marshall’s statement? Jason Stellman’s recent abandonment of the Christian faith for Rome testifies to this fact. Meyer’s affirmation and defense of the FV statement on justification is no less an abandonment of justification through faith alone than is Stellman’s. Meyers maintains that “personal loyalty,” or faithfulness (because that is what loyalty means), is nothing more than an extra-biblical way “of describing the nature of saving faith as “trust” (fiducia).” Like Rome, Meyers confuses faith which can’t been seen with the evidence of faith which can. Meyers writes: “Israel, the bride, is to cling to Yahweh, her Husband and Lord, in faithfulness. What is this but salvation by faith? How is that wrong?” It is wrong because faith isn’t faithfulness. Meyers makes the same categorical error Doug Wilson makes when he along with Doug Jones assert that believing is doing.

    Meyers and the Auburn Ave set have successfully exploited the ambiguity surrounding the traditional understanding of fiducia as the third element of saving faith. The FV guts one the two central pillars of the Reformation identified by the Roman Catholic Marshall. Then when combined with Meyer’s perspectivalism along with Jordan’s rejection of the grammatical historical method which he calls “rationalism,” and the FV is now an RCC superhighway. No wonder these men receive such high praise from Marshall. The only question is how could the MOP examine and then exonerate such a dangerous man?

  138. Jack Bradley said,

    August 5, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Sean,

    One more time: Does your ax grinding include Letham, Murray, Strimple, Calvin? Are they also “dangerous” and “painfully stupid”?

    They have each, of course, adequately qualified all that they say about fiducia–as has Meyers.

  139. Jeff Meyers said,

    August 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Re: #137. I met Taylor Marshal once, 10-12 years ago. I didn’t know him. I don’t know what kind of issues he has with me. I don’t care. I had nothing to do with his apostasy to Rome. I don’t believe it’s so easy to identify the central motivations and influences when men shift ecclesiastical alliances like this. Stellman is a good example. And it may be that Westminster West share some of the blame:

    http://www.barlowfarms.com/index/cm_id/1868314

    I don’t know who Sean is, but he keeps mischaracterizing my position, even after I’ve repeatedly clarified it. Who is Sean anyway? A minister? A ruling elder? Of what church is he a member? He seems obsessed with attacking me and other men associated with me. I don’t see any benefit in continuing to respond to his false accusations.

  140. Sean Gerety said,

    August 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I must be lying because I’m quoting you verbatim.

  141. Jack Bradley said,

    August 5, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Jeff wrote: “I don’t see any benefit in continuing to respond to his false accusations.”

    Stay with that thought, brother. Sean has a long history of obtuseness.

  142. Doug Sowers said,

    August 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Oh, I didnt want to exclude Jack Bradley who’s done yomens work. Keep pressing on!

  143. Jack Bradley said,

    August 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Well, thanks, I think, Doug. I’m not really trying to “advance FV”. I’m just trying to advance clear, reformed theology, as I believe are the others you mentioned (except Sean).

  144. Doug Sowers said,

    August 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Nice clarification Jack, that’s where my heart is as well :)

  145. Reed Here said,

    August 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    ENOUGH!

  146. August 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Re. 135. Mr. Here. I stopped with Mr. Gerety after two rebukes, as my Master has commanded me. My initial post was to establish that FV is a Conversation, not an ideology. I assume that such has been established and granted by all here. My later posts consisted of an offer to converse with open Bible and in the realm of the Spirit with Mr. Kim and anyone else wanting to understand more about Reformational conversations. No one has taken me up on this, which is just as well as I have several things on my plate right now.

  147. Sean Gerety said,

    August 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    One of the very first lies that James, Jeff, Wilson, Wilkins and Co., spread early on was that this was an “intramural” debate among Reformed Christians. As we’ve seen from James, Jeff and Horne that isn’t the case at all and their lies cut to the very heart of the Gospel, even JBFA. The only true thing James has said is when he confessed in an unguarded moment:

    I think the PCA is perfectly within its rights to say no to all BH types. We are NOT traditional presbyterians. The PCA suffers us within itself, but we are poison to traditional presbyterianism.

    The FV isn’t a conversation. It’s a damnable heresy. This has been demonstrated in this thread repeatedly in regard to Meyers’ false doctrine of saving faith. Beyond that, the PCA’s FV/NPP report further exposed these men, even if the PCA has failed to follow through and discipline these false teachers by removing them from her ranks.

    So, while James continues to solicit takers in his ungodly “conversation,” Paul had a command on how we are to deal with men like him when he said; “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them….”

  148. locirari said,

    August 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    James Jordan has spoken about conversation in the following terms:

    In the art of conversation each side listens to the other and hears what the other is saying, seeks to understand what is meant by what is being said, what the concerns are, and so forth.

    It appears that false dilemmas and “poisoning the well” like the examples below are part of what he means by conversation.

    Mark, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ and the Bible, and not of some post-18th century reduction of Biblical religion to mere sight-walking ideology…

    I hope you will cling to Jesus and to the Bible, and not to any temporary and perforce imperfect local confessions of faith…

    I find it very interesting that Mr. Jordan has written very much in the spirit of the lectures of the original 2002 Auburn Avenue Federal Vision conferences. Reformed theology was straw-manned and ridiculed throughout those lectures. I don’t think it has ever been acknowledged by advocates of the “Federal Vision conversation” (if that is indeed what it is) that said conversation began with some questionable assumptions about the other side.

  149. Reed Here said,

    August 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Gentlemen: you are off topic. You are re-hashing. If another moderate starts a post for re-hashing, have at it there. Otherwise here – stick to the issue of the Meyers Transcripts. I will delete any further comments not on that subject.

  150. August 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    [...] I am a bit reluctant to write more about PCA TE Jeff Meyers as I would have thought that his words, many of which I have documented here on God’s Hammer,  would have been more than enough to have him defrocked in any Christian church in the country.  Sadly, that is not the case in the PCA where he was completely exonerated by the Missouri Presbytery (the same presbytery where the PCA’s Covenant Seminary is located).  That said, a few weeks ago Meyers’ trial transcripts were released and he has been making the rounds letting anyone who will listen know that the Federal Vision has been vindicated as confessionally Reformed and perfectly within the bounds of theological orthodoxy according to the PCA.  And, if you don’t believe him, he has Federal Visionists like Mark Horne, Jon Barlow, and others, not to mention that bag of loose change James Jordan, helping him make his case (see the comments at Greenbaggins here). [...]

  151. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    September 6, 2012 at 12:10 am

    In something of an attempt to get back to the issues, I have to point out, Lane, that you are incorrect in #16 and #18 when you say Meyers

    “rejected any kind of idea of agreement as being the covenant (p. 36)”

    What he says on p. 36 is:

    “One cannot simply substitute the word…’agreement’…for ‘covenant.’…God’s covenant cannot be reduced to an agreement…”

    He does say:

    “The covenant is certainly not…an agreement,”

    But I think he has in view an “is” which mean “is the same as” or “is equal to,” as the following sentences seem to indicate. They follow this pattern:

    “It is not solely…It is not simply…And it is much more than…”

    And finally he concludes:

    “These words [including 'agreement'] may express something of the meaning of the covenant…”

    So, the overall structure of his discussion indicates that he is not excluding “any kind of idea of agreement as being in the covenant.” He is simply saying that covenant cannot be reduced to, or equal to, or the same as, an agreement.

  152. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    September 6, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Okay, I missed a close italics in there.

    “The covenant is certainly not…an agreement.”

    “It is not solely

    I was trying to emphasize the specific words he uses that show his concern is to say that “covenant” cannot be only, or the same as, an agreement.

  153. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    September 6, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Furthermore, your response in #30 has some flaws.
    First, it is a self-report: you are simply saying that you can’t think of another reason why he considers your seven-word summary simplistic. This is just a statement about your own thought, not about Meyers’ actual statement. As you know, a self-report is logically self-supporting, not supported; this means that as it stands, there is no way actually debate it.
    Second, even if it were about Meyers’ statement (“There is no other reason to say this” instead of “I can think of no other reason”), it’s a fallacy of presumption, since you don’t actually seem to consider or discuss any other option.
    Third, your own qualification on works and faith makes its relevance to the specific question somewhat dubious. You specifically say that works and faith are mutually exclusive in regards to justification, but the question you and Meyers are discussing at that point is the covenant with Adam before the Fall. But there was no justification before the Fall, since justification is first “pardoning their sins.” (WCF 11.1) So, this argument misses the mark:
    A. Faith and works are mutually exclusive in justification.
    B. Therefore, faith and works are mutually exclusive before the Fall.
    C. Therefore, to include faith in the covenant before the Fall denies works.
    But A does not lead to to B, since there is in fact a change of covenant administration after the Fall, and justification is only in view after the fall.

    Anyhow, if we’re going to debate the actual issues, it is important to make sure we are debating with clear terms.

  154. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    September 6, 2012 at 2:11 am

    #35 falls into a similar problem, by changing the terms:

    “the glorification would not have been ‘received by faith alone’ if perfect and personal obedience is the condition of reward, as WCF says.”

    Except that the WCF doesn’t talk about glorification: it says that “life was promised to Adam…upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.” But “life” was clearly already possessed (“and man became a living being”), so that the Confession can be read as saying that the continued possession of something Adam already had was based on obedience. And that is perfectly in accord with the Genesis account, where Adam is not promised anything extra based on his obedience. Rather, he is given one thing to obey; if he never violates that one command, he never dies, never loses what he already has. Whether Adam would have gained anything further than simply continuation of what he had is simply not stated, either by the Confession or by Scripture. So, to say that “glorification” would have been a gift, received entirely by faith, is not covered by the Confession.

    Furthermore, in the transcript Meyers very clearly indicates that he has for a long time made public to the various presbyteries under which he served that he takes an exception to a certain understanding of the CoW language. So, this is not some hidden or deceptive thing that he is doing; he has been entirely clear about this, and has explained what he is trying to guard against.

  155. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    September 6, 2012 at 3:31 am

    As I’m reading over some of the transcript, I don’t know whether Mattes’ “Jesus coming for a weekend” thought experiment indicates an incoherent understanding of IAOC, but it seems to me that the answer to his thought is experiment is much more basic. He would not have been a true human, if he had just come down from heaven on Maundy Thursday.

    But it still seems clear to me that the Westminster Assembly did not write IAOC into the Confession.

    1. “whole obedience” was the term that entailed IAOC.

    2. the term “obedience” did not entail IAOC.

    3. The Assembly chose the term “obedience.”

    4. The Assembly chose the term that did not entail IAOC.

    5. Therefore, the use of “obedience” in the WCF does not entail IAOC.

    In short, there was a clear term that specifically included IAOC. The Assembly considered and debated that term, and chose not to use it.

    How does that fail to demonstrate that they left it open to hold IAOC?

  156. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    September 6, 2012 at 3:52 am

    The prosecution’s closing re-stated every statement exactly as it appeared before, without taking into account any of Meyers qualifications, attempts at clarification, and even retractions. For example, Meyers retracted the posts from the Wrightsaid list, specifically affirming that those statements do not reflect what he currently believes. Yet they were still brought up in the prosecution’s closing. How is that a fair hearing? The man says: “X no longer reflects what I believe.” And the prosecution says: “You should find against him for believing X.”

  157. September 6, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Joshua,

    I don’t have time to address all of your comments at the moment. Let me just get to two.

    RE #156: To this day, Jeff has retracted nothing specifically. Read pages 18-19 of the third transcript file. The moderator wisely offers for clarity after several attempts to get the defense to be more specific:

    There has been general denials or categories that has been listed in the specification. That is my understanding. I think it would be helpful to the Court it they were specified. I don’t know if on cross they’re going to be bringing those out or not, but in your direct examination if Defendant is denying something, let’s specifically say what he is denying.

    The moderator could not have been more clear, nor the prosecution on cross. All the defense had to do was lead Jeff through the specific statements in the prosecution’s indictment and have Jeff specifically retract each one. Yet, Meyers never does so, and has never done so. There’s a lot of spin, but no specific statements are specifically retracted. So, the prosecution was correct to use all the unretracted statements, i.e., all the statements used in the indictment, in the closing. All statements are still on the table.

    Also, note that I did not use the statements from the past blog posts in my testimony. I only used ones from the investigations. However, all previous statements are still on the table.

    RE #155: I covered this in detail in my testimony and Dr. Barker essentially agreed with my account when he testified. Specifically, I used the historical record to refute the myth that IAOC was rejected by the Assembly. Quite the opposite is true as evidenced by the rest of the Confession and Catechisms. You need to go back and read those trial sections in detail.


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