List Paradigm Versus Agape Paradigm

Over on Called to Communion, Bryan has critiqued my friend Nick Batzig’s post on imputation in justification.

In this post, Bryan Cross attempts to delineate two different paradigms for understanding what it means to keep the law. What he describes as the Protestant paradigm is the “list” paradigm, which he describes in these words:

In the list paradigm, perfect law-keeping is conceived as keeping a list of God given precepts. According to this paradigm, perfect law-keeping requires perfectly and perpetually keeping (and not in any way violating) every single precept in the list. In the New Covenant, we are given more gifts for growing progressively in our ability to keep the law, but nevertheless, nobody in this life keeps the list perfectly. All fall short of God’s perfect standard of righteousness. That’s the paradigm through which Batzig views God’s requirement of righteousness for salvation.

Cross compares and contrasts this paradigm with what he calls the “agape” (Greek word for “love”) paradigm:

In the agape paradigm, by contrast, agape is the fulfillment of the law. Agape is not merely some power or force or energy by which one is enabled better to keep the list of rules, either perfectly or imperfectly. Rather, agape is what the law has pointed to all along. To have agape in one’s soul is to have the perfect righteousness to which the list of precepts point. Righteousness conceived as keeping a list of externally written precepts is conceptually a shadow of the true righteousness which consists of agape infused into the soul. This infusion of agape is the law written on the heart. But the writing of the law on the heart should not be conceived as merely memorizing the list of precepts, or being more highly motivated to keep the list of precepts. To conceive of agape as merely a force or good motivation that helps us better (but imperfectly, in this life) keep the list of rules, is still to be in the list paradigm. The writing of the law on the heart provides in itself the very fulfillment of the law — that perfection to which the external law always pointed. To have agape is already to have fulfilled the telos (Greek word for “end,” “purpose,” or “goal,” LK) of the law, a telos that is expressed in our words, deeds, and actions because they are all ordered to a supernatural end unless we commit a mortal sin (bold and italics original).

Cross’s critique of Batzig’s exegetical arguments are examples of his explication of this list paradigm versus agape paradigm difference.

He argues:

He (Batzig, LK) uses the list paradigm in order to argue for the extra nos conception of imputation. Catholic doctrine, however, is formulated within the agape paradigm. So using the list paradigm to construct an argument against the Catholic doctrine of justification presupposes the Protestant position in the very methodology by which the argument is constructed. It loads the premise “Protestantism is true” into the very argument by which one attempts to show that Protestantism is true and Catholicism is false.

I would encourage people to read the comments. Nick Batzig and Jerry Koerkenmeier have done an excellent job responding to Bryan Cross, especially on the exegetical points. I want to talk about the whole paradigm argument.

First point (regarding the last paragraph quoted above): one can turn this argument right on its head. A Romanist paradigm assumes the Romanist position in the very methodology by which the argument is constructed. Without actually arguing for the paradigm itself, Cross is simply saying that there are two different paradigms. No doubt he would say that he has argued for it. Does he argue with exegesis? Well, his point concerning “Christ our righteousness” doesn’t have any exegesis to go along with it. He only quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Aquinas’ Summa Theologica. In answering Batzig’s exegesis on Romans 4, he only quotes Trent. That is not exegesis. Again, read Batzig and Koerkenmeier’s comments and you will find some exegesis.

Secondly, even if his description of the two paradigms is true, that does not make the Protestant position circular. This is because assuming a list paradigm is simply not the same thing as saying or assuming that “Protestantism is true.” Those are two completely different statements. Again, assuming the list paradigm is true for the moment, that hardly constitutes the totality of Protestantism. Cross is here guilty of extension. This is what happens when a person looks at a statement or assumption and extends it beyond what the original statement or assumption meant, and then refuting the extension, instead of the actual statement or assumption. Protestantism includes Sola Scriptura, for instance, not a doctrine directly implied in the list paradigm.

Third point, and this point regards the whole list paradigm-agape paradigm: this is, quite simply, a false dichotomy. What Protestant fails to recognize that the heart of the law is love? Isn’t this what Jesus says when asked which is the greatest commandment? He says that the greatest commandment is to love God, and the second greatest is to love neighbor. Protestants have almost universally understood this to mean that the first four commandments have as their heart the love of God, while the second six commandments have as their heart the love of neighbor. So, law-keeping has NEVER been solely about keeping a list of commandments, although it certainly includes that, as I think even Cross acknowledges. Law-keeping has always been about loving God and loving neighbor. That is the heart of the law. It is also a clear reflection of the character of God, Who is love. The moral law, therefore, is an expression of the very character of God.

The point, then, is that the Protestant position has NEVER assumed what Cross says it assumes. Imputation is NOT just about Christ’s obedience to a list of commands, which obedience is then imputed to us. It is also about Christ’s love for His Father, and His love for His neighbors, which is imputed to us. It is, therefore, BOTH Christ’s obedience to a list (which the TEN Commandments certainly are!), AND His love for God and love for neighbor that is imputed or reckoned to us. It is the fulfillment of everything the law is, including its very heart of agape. Quite frankly, Cross has not understood the Protestant position very well here. On other occasions, I have seen him do fairly well describing the Protestant position, but I don’t recognize ANY Protestant position in what he describes.

The real question is this: does the Protestant doctrine of imputation itself assume a list paradigm? How can it? The idea of imputation doesn’t directly address the question of how Jesus obeyed the law. It rather addresses the question of how Christ’s righteousness becomes ours. So, Jesus could have obeyed the law any number of ways, and that would be immaterial to whether we get that righteousness by imputation or infusion. What Cross has not even remotely demonstrated is that imputation itself assumes a list paradigm. This, I would think, would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove.

In looking at the comments, there are a couple more things necessary to say. Firstly, though this is indeed debated in Protestantism, I would disagree with Cross’s claim that Protestants do not believe that a person can be truly righteous internally. This made me think of a very important thing that Rick Phillips said at the recent Gospel Reformation Network conference in February. He said that when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of us, we are no longer totally depraved. The remnants of sin still cling to us, yes. However, wherever the Holy Spirit is inside us, that place (if you want to think spacially as metaphorical) is no longer totally depraved. This follows from the doctrine of regeneration. We have a new nature. Sometimes Protestants are so gung-ho about total depravity, that they forget the nature of the change wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. It is a real change. The doctrine of “T” in TULIP, then, is NOT true of the believer. This does not mean that we are ever perfect. Perfection is for eternity. However, it does mean that we can be really righteous internally, the imperfection also being covered by the blood of the Lamb.

Secondly, Nick and Jerry surely got the better of Cross exegetically when it comes to Romans 4. Cross’s claim that when Paul uses Abraham as a paradigm for believers in Romans 4 and Galatians 3, that it was not in every respect that Abraham was a paradigm is an evasion. The particular aspect in which Abraham is a paradigm is with regard to imputed righteousness apart from any aspect of his own law-keeping and apart from any ceremony or sacrament! This is explicitly true in Romans 4:11 (Cross’s claim that the New Testament sacraments are greater than the old is ably answered by Jerry in comment 77).

One last point. Cross claims that justification is a process because imputation happens more than once in Abraham’s case. Firstly, it is startling to see any Romanist speak favorably of imputation. Secondly, Abraham was not reckoned righteous before God in the justificatory sense more than once. To simply quote James 2, as if that settled the matter without any exegesis or acknowledgment of the reams of Protestant exegesis, simply ignores the issue. “Dikaioo” can be used in more than one sense. When wisdom is justified by her children, it does not mean that wisdom was declared not guilty on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ. It means that wisdom was shown to be in the right. This is an evidentiary sense of “dikaioo,” not a declaratory. I would argue, therefore, that James is talking about showing faith to be genuine, when he uses the word “dikaioo.” This is supported by the contextual factors of the (false) claim to have faith in verse 14, and the explicit reference to “show me” (twice, no less!) in verse 18. James is not talking about being right before God, but about being shown to be right before God. So, in Abraham’s case, he was declared to be justified in Genesis 15. He was shown to be righteous in Genesis 22 (which fact James references in 2:21, the actual event that proved that Abraham was in fact justified).

About these ads

199 Comments

  1. Bryan Cross said,

    August 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Lane,

    You wrote:

    Cross is simply saying that there are two different paradigms. No doubt he would say that he has argued for it.

    Actually, no, I did not say that, nor would I say that. I have observed both paradigms, not only from the outside, but as one standing within them.

    This is because assuming a list paradigm is simply not the same thing as saying or assuming that “Protestantism is true.”

    The list paradigm entails the falsity of the Catholic position. And given that the two positions on the table (for the sake of my post) are Protestantism and Catholicism, the list paradigm entails that Protestantism is true.

    Third point, and this point regards the whole list paradigm-agape paradigm: this is, quite simply, a false dichotomy.

    As I defined them, it is not a false dichotomy, because the two are mutually exclusive. As you redefine the agape paradigm, then sure. But then by redefining the agape paradigm, you’re effectively presupposing the falsehood of the agape paradigm as I have defined it. And that Reformed presupposition of the falsity of the agape paradigm is part of the point of my post.

    Cross’s claim that the New Testament sacraments are greater than the old is ably answered by Jerry in comment 77).

    Actually, the WCF says that they are — “more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy” (WCF VII.6)

    Secondly, Abraham was not reckoned righteous before God in the justificatory sense more than once. … So, in Abraham’s case, he was declared to be justified in Genesis 15.

    The purpose of my post was not about demonstrating how many times Abraham was justified or when he was justified. That would require a different post altogether. When Scripture says in Gen 12 that Abram obeyed the Lord’s call to leave Ur, and built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord, I don’t assume that he was faking it, or somehow obeying God while still dead in trespasses and sin. And when Melchizedek says in Gen 14 “Blessed be Abram of God Most High,” I don’t think Melchizedek was merely saying that Abram was one more piece of God’s property, as are trees and flowers and birds. Abram was “of God” in the sense that he was a man of faith, a friend of God. But if you think Abram was still dead in sin in Gen 12-14, I’ll not debate it, because the point of my post was not about establishing that Abraham was already justified prior to Gen 15.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  2. David Gadbois said,

    August 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Bryan said The list paradigm entails the falsity of the Catholic position. And given that the two positions on the table (for the sake of my post) are Protestantism and Catholicism, the list paradigm entails that Protestantism is true.

    For the charge of circularity to stick, it would have to be the case that the list paradigm *presupposes* that Protestantism is true, not that it *entails* that Protestantism is true.

    As I defined them, it is not a false dichotomy, because the two are mutually exclusive. As you redefine the agape paradigm, then sure.

    This reasoning is bizarre. Two propositions can be mutually exclusive, yet there still can exist other coherent options beside the two. If such options do, in fact, exist then it would indeed be a false dichotomy.

  3. Bryan Cross said,

    August 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    David, (re: #2)

    For the charge of circularity to stick, it would have to be the case that the list paradigm *presupposes* that Protestantism is true, not that it *entails* that Protestantism is true.

    As I explained in comments #6 and #8 of the Epistle of Mathetes of Diognetus thread, there are two ways of begging the question. One is internal to an argument (i.e. placing the conclusion in the premises), and the other is inter-paradigmatic, by presupposing one’s own paradigm in one’s argument’s against another paradigm. My point in reply to Nick is that his exegetical arguments against the Catholic position all presuppose the list-paradigm, and in that sense (i.e. the second of the two ways) beg the question.

    This reasoning is bizarre. Two propositions can be mutually exclusive, yet there still can exist other coherent options beside the two. If such options do, in fact, exist then it would indeed be a false dichotomy.

    You’re referring to a false dilemma, not a false dichotomy. In a false dilemma, there are actually more than the two options presented. But a false dichotomy means that the two things presented are not rightly divided. And in this case, the list-paradigm and the agape paradigm (as I have defined them) are rightly divided (i.e. they are not one paradigm), because they are mutually exclusive.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  4. David Gadbois said,

    August 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Bryan said the other is inter-paradigmatic, by presupposing one’s own paradigm in one’s argument’s against another paradigm. My point in reply to Nick is that his exegetical arguments against the Catholic position all presuppose the list-paradigm

    The Protestant case *need* not presuppose the list-paradigm nor list/agape paradigm if the paradigm can be established by the normal rules of exegesis. Unless you are arguing that the Bible simply cannot determine the issue one way or another. But are you really willing to say that multiple, conflicting paradigms are compatible with the biblical teaching?

    You’re referring to a false dilemma, not a false dichotomy

    OK, then let’s just change one word in Lane’s post thusly:

    Third point, and this point regards the whole list paradigm-agape paradigm: this is, quite simply, a false dilemma.

  5. jedpaschall said,

    August 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Bryan,

    A particular point I would like for you to defend here (links will be fine):

    Righteousness conceived as keeping a list of externally written precepts is conceptually a shadow of the true righteousness which consists of agape infused into the soul.

    The issue is infusion, what specifically do you mean by this? Are you simply trying to articulate a RCC understanding of infusion, or are you using the term loosely? I suspect you are trying to be precise here.
    The issue of infusion I think we as Protestants take is it is lacking in biblical precedent – which is why we opt for imputation; as it is more consistent with the broad language of the court that is so prevalent in Scriptrure, where God as divine King/Judge either imputes guilt or innocence upon his covenant people, or humanity broadly.

    BTW, like Lane says, I think you really do miss the fact that Protestants do see the Law in an eschatological paradigm that looks beyond the “list” to the moral perfections that the commands and prohibitions point to – namely holiness or godly character. Agape might be a good organizing principle of what the Law points to, but it isn’t reduced to this; wouldn’t you agree? Broadly speaking, the keeping of the Law points to a cacophony of holy attributes that point to both the original and eschatological ideals for which man exists. I’ll dig up examples as I am able, but suffice to say, your proposed antithesis to work should be something to which a confessing Protestant would agree to, rather than a RCC caricature of Protestant views. We see this in the imputation/infusion antithesis upon which Catholics and Protestants disagree over, namely that we both agree that we hold to one or the other.

  6. Bryan Cross said,

    August 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    David (re: #4),

    The Protestant case *need* not presuppose the list-paradigm nor list/agape paradigm if the paradigm can be established by the normal rules of exegesis.

    I agree. If exegesis alone could tell us which paradigm is correct, then the Protestant case for extra nos imputation of Christ’s obedience need not presuppose either the list-paradigm or the agape paradigm. I myself don’t think exegesis alone can answer the paradigm question, but I haven’t made any argument for that. My point in the post was more modest — to present the two paradigms of imputation, and to point out how typically, in my experience the Protestant exegetical arguments presuppose the list-paradigm.

    Unless you are arguing that the Bible simply cannot determine the issue one way or another.

    No, I haven’t made such an argument.

    But are you really willing to say that multiple, conflicting paradigms are compatible with the biblical teaching?

    Tentatively, yes. Presently standing in the agape paradigm, I see no incompatibility with the biblical data. I see no incoherencies. But, likewise, when I stood in the list-paradigm, I also did not see any incoherencies with the biblical data. I’m not saying that both paradigms fit the biblical data equally well. But, I do (tentatively) think that it is possible to assimilate the biblical data coherently into both paradigms. And that’s why, in my opinion, when attempting to resolve the Protestant-Catholic disagreement regarding how we ought to understand imputation, we ought not ignore the paradigmatic aspect of the question.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  7. Bryan Cross said,

    August 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Jed, (re: #5)

    By infusion I mean merely pouring into the soul, as described in Rom 5:5.

    The issue of infusion I think we as Protestants take is it is lacking in biblical precedent – which is why we opt for imputation; as it is more consistent with the broad language of the court that is so prevalent in Scriptrure, where God as divine King/Judge either imputes guilt or innocence upon his covenant people, or humanity broadly.

    I think the difference between the Reformed and Catholic positions regarding infusion is a bit more nuanced. I think it is not true that the Reformed position denies the infusion of agape. In the Reformed system, regeneration is, or at least includes, the infusion of faith, hope and agape, along with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Faith, hope, and agape are gifts of God through Christ, not something that come from ourselves. This is why in the Reformed system sanctification is not Pelagian. But, as I described in the post, in the Reformed system this agape within the believer does not make him righteous before God. It is incomplete and imperfect during this earthly life, only perfected in the life to come. But in the agape paradigm, agape is righteousness, and so the person having agape within has righteousness within, and is therefore presently righteous.

    BTW, like Lane says, I think you really do miss the fact that Protestants do see the Law in an eschatological paradigm that looks beyond the “list” to the moral perfections that the commands and prohibitions point to – namely holiness or godly character.

    I’m not unaware of this. But, again, I think the difference between the two paradigms regarding imputation is, as I just said, that in the list-paradigm, agape within is not enough to make us righteous now, whereas in the agape paradigm it is, because in the agape paradigm, agape is righteousness.

    Agape might be a good organizing principle of what the Law points to, but it isn’t reduced to this; wouldn’t you agree? Broadly speaking, the keeping of the Law points to a cacophony of holy attributes that point to both the original and eschatological ideals for which man exists. I’ll dig up examples as I am able, but suffice to say, your proposed antithesis to work should be something to which a confessing Protestant would agree to, rather than a RCC caricature of Protestant views. We see this in the imputation/infusion antithesis upon which Catholics and Protestants disagree over, namely that we both agree that we hold to one or the other.

    I’m sorry, I don’t quite follow you here in this paragraph. Because of other responsibilities, I may not be able to reply for some time.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  8. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 9, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Bryan, I’m not sure I understand your post, and that’s leading me to a puzzle.

    What I gather from your post is that in the Protestant paradigm, righteousness consists of actions taken, whereas in the Catholic paradigm, righteousness consists of a disposition of agape.

    The former leads inexorably to justification-by-imputation, while the latter requires justification-by-infusion.

    And, it also allows for an initial justification leading to ever-greater justifications.

    Here’s where I’m lost. Both Protestants and Catholics affirm the doctrine of original sin in two parts: that we are judicially guilty before God because of Adam’s sin, and that we are further actually guilty before God because of our own sins committed because of our inherited disposition towards sin.

    So I’m not finding in Protestant theology the paradigm that you put forward. Is that indeed the paradigm you held as a Protestant?

    Now here’s the puzzle. James says,

    If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

    James appears to be operating out of both paradigms at once. One the one hand, fulfilling the royal law means having a disposition of love towards one’s neighbor. Then on the other, loving one’s neighbor means keeping the list of laws … and breaking one means breaking the whole law.

    Doesn’t James point to an all-or-nothing justification, beginning with love as the core of righteousness?

  9. Bob S said,

    August 10, 2012 at 1:59 am

    8. Bryan, I’m not sure I understand your post, and that’s leading me to a puzzle.

    And what makes you so sure you are supposed to be able to understand the post?

    It would seem to me that since Mr. Cross et al the cuttlefish over at CtC deny private judgement that that would be the end of the story.
    If not, emit more ink, copiously.

    But since I believe in PJ which is circular reasoning, anything I may say, may be disregarded.
    Carry on.

  10. TurretinFan said,

    August 10, 2012 at 2:36 am

    “If exegesis alone could tell us which paradigm is correct, then the Protestant case for extra nos imputation of Christ’s obedience need not presuppose either the list-paradigm or the agape paradigm.”

    “But, I do (tentatively) think that it is possible to assimilate the biblical data coherently into both paradigms.”

    a) The naming of the positions in this kind of argumentative way muddies the waters. Lane has provided part of this objection already, but to fill it out, calling one side’s position by the name of a word whose meaning is disputed and calling the other side’s position by the name of a word that is not found in the text looks very much like an attempt to win the argument through a rhetorical trick of framing.

    We could get a similar effect if we simply say, “Oh no – the Reformed position is the “agape paradigm” and the BryanCross position is the “virtue paradigm.””

    b) The Reformed position is derived from the text, not one imposed on the text externally. In other words, there is exegetical support at every step of the way for the Reformed position. Bryan Cross’ position doesn’t have that kind of exegetical support. He doesn’t get his virtue approach to love from the Scriptures.

    c) The upshot is that the Reformed position wins, because Mr. Cross’ position does not have a sufficient basis upon which to be accepted, whereas the Reformed position does have a sufficient basis upon which to be accepted.

    -TurretinFan

  11. TurretinFan said,

    August 10, 2012 at 3:49 am

    “To conceive of agape as merely a force or good motivation that helps us better (but imperfectly, in this life) keep the list of rules, is still to be in the list paradigm. ”

    But compare:
    (1) “Love works no ill to his neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law. Observe how it has both virtues, abstinence from evils (for it works no ill, he says), and the working of good deeds. For it is, he says, the fulfilling (or filling up) of the Law; not bringing before us instruction only on moral duties in a concise form, but making the accomplishment of them easy also.”

    (2) “… the man who is well disposed to someone does not do away with the man he is fond of, does not commit adultery with his wife, does not filch anything of his friend’s possession, does nothing that may cause him harm. He went on to say as much, in fact, Love does no wrong to the neighbor (v.10); then as a logical conclusion, love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the Law.”

    Those look like “motivation” type interpretations of the passage. Where is Bryan’s position represented among the ancients?

    -TurretinFan

    (1) Chrysostom (2) Theodoret

  12. greenbaggins said,

    August 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Bryan, you write: “The list paradigm entails the falsity of the Catholic position. And given that the two positions on the table (for the sake of my post) are Protestantism and Catholicism, the list paradigm entails that Protestantism is true.” The problem with this is that you are confusing necessary and sufficient conditions. While, in your argument, the list paradigm entails the falsity of the Catholic position, that does not in and of itself imply that Protestantism is true. In other words, granting your position on the list paradigm for a moment, the list paradigm might be necessary for the Protestant position, but you have not proven that it is sufficient. That is why it is false to say that the list paradigm is the same thing as saying that Protestantism is true. As I have argued already, of course, I do not believe your version of the list paradigm is in any way, shape, or form, a proper representation of Protestantism. Look at any Puritan exposition of the Ten Commandments. They will say until they are blue in the face that the heart of the law is love, and that loving God and loving people fulfills the law. They would say, of course, that unregenerate man is incapable of doing so.

    On the definition of the agape paradigm, it would be more helpful if you would delineate just how your definition of it and mine differ. I quoted you in your own words, after all.

    On the WCF’s definition of the Sacraments, you are overlooking WCF 27.5, which says “The sacraments of the old testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the new.”

    As to the purpose of your original post, you have said what it is not about, but that doesn’t help us get at what your post really was about. I am not sure what Abraham’s doings in Genesis 12-14 have to do with the discussion, either. Chronology is tricky in those chapters.

    You have not addressed the vast majority of my post. For instance, the whole issue concerning imputation, and the definition of it, and whether it inherently implies the list paradigm you have not addressed. Neither have you addressed my exegetical claims regarding James 2.

  13. johnbugay said,

    August 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Bryan #6:

    My point in the post was more modest — to present the two paradigms of imputation, and to point out how typically, in my experience the Protestant exegetical arguments presuppose the list-paradigm.

    Why do you need to invent “paradigms” that no one has ever heard of, the criteria for which will take forever to be decided upon?

  14. Andrew said,

    August 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Inventing ‘paradigms’ seems to be Brian’s idee fixe; all part of selling a pig in a poke.

  15. David Gadbois said,

    August 10, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Bryan can’t be expected to soil his pristine, baby-soft hands with the trenchwork of textual exegesis or even historical study. He wants to philosophize his way through an argument, going round and round about paradigms, presuppositions, and accusations of circular reasoning. He’s up in the stratosphere pondering hypotheticals, meta-considerations, and meta-meta-considerations, and thus can’t be asked to present a case using concrete evidence. I can’t say I have much patience for this method of theology.

  16. johnbugay said,

    August 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    David: I can’t say I have much patience for this method of theology.

    I’m not either, but some are impressed by it.

  17. jsm52 said,

    August 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Bryan,
    Rather than leading with the List paradigm and the Agape paradigm “paradigm,” why not just take the debate straight-on visa-vis Scripture. Start there and make your case. If the Roman position is so over-whelming in the Gospels and Epistles (as I have been told by CtCers), then bring it on, and once you’ve established superior RCC biblical position you can move in for the kill with your paradigms and more rarified methodologies.

    In other words, call our supposed bluff!

  18. ajmccallum said,

    August 11, 2012 at 1:06 am

    I’ve had the experience over at CTC of trying to correct the Catholic understanding of historic Protestant position on justification, particularly on the matter of justifying faith being a faith that is formed by love. I have spent quite a bit of time arguing with the Catholics over what it is that we believe concerning faith and the nature of saving faith. It seems to me that we never really get to compare systems because we cannot agree on what the Protestant position is. You would think they would let us define this, wouldn’t you?

    So the same thing is happening here. Lane and others have tried to show where the Catholic side has gone wrong in understanding us. As it turns out we agree with much of what the Catholic side is describing as distinct about the Catholic paradigm. So now we have to get the Catholics to agree that they have mis-formulated our position and ask them to restate it so that we agree that they have got it right. So do you think this will happen? I’m a little skeptical, but we shall see.

    It would just be so nice to actually have a discussion over respective paradigms without having to argue about what OUR paradigm actually is.

  19. August 11, 2012 at 2:03 am

    This is a problem on both sides, Andrew. I trust you know that.

    So would you agree with Calvin that, when speaking of justification, we must never speak of love? Or would you say that we are justified by faith working through love? Or thirdly, would you agree with option two, but insist that while we are justified by faith working through love, the working through love part plays no role in the justification part?

    Just want to make sure I understand you….

  20. Bob S said,

    August 11, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Yo John and David, it’s called speculative theology. If Protestants are their very own Robinson Crusoe clones, each sitting all by their abandoned lonesome on some choice beach front property on their private version of a Forgotten Island of solipsistic and autonomous epistemology, by the same token Bryan is a member of the Grand Academy of Lagado.

    The same found on the flying island of Laputa, from Swift’s lesser known third voyage of Gulliver (of which yers trooly is an intemperate yahoo from the fourth voyage for even bringing this up), the Roman version of which flies high above Scripture, reason and history, descending occasionally to punish the same. (Don’t take the yahoo’s word for it, read the book.) The same Grand Academy which has a machine so that nobody has to know anything to literally crank out books. (And we thought it was not till Lulu, that everyman over at CTC could be his own theological expert author).

    Yet “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law Rom. 13:10”.

    So much for the false dichotomy between the list and agape paradigms – note bene, the question begging IP which presupposes the precious Roman position – a diversion/red herring to evade what the Bilbo rather notes is the real question; that of the imputation or infusion of Christ’s righteousness. IOW the exegesis or lack thereof.

    (But since both Bryan and JJS have told us Jack, that arguing from Scripture is to first or alone is circular reasoning/begging the question/presupposing the prot position, we musn’t go there. T’would not be nice.)

    But my question as the resident yahoo is, when does the low rent vaudeville imitation of the patriarch of the Sackville-Baggins get sent packing? Like where does somebody get the nerve to cobble something together like this and try to foist it upon the reading public? Do they think it will really fly? (Are we really Called to Chutzpah?)

    Further does membership in an infallible church mean something automatically rubs off and redeems our every statement, ex internet cathedra? If so, I need the explicit chapter and verse from the RCC before I’ll exercise my private judgement believe it.

    Thank you.

  21. Bryan Cross said,

    August 11, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Lane,

    I’ve written a more complete reply to your post here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  22. ajmccallum said,

    August 11, 2012 at 9:39 am

    This is a problem on both sides, Andrew. I trust you know that.

    Jason,

    I find that for many Reformed turned Catholic, particularly those who have studied theology and/or philosophy while Protestant, there is certain confidence that they really know Reformed theology inside and out. This sometimes makes convincing these converts to Rome that they have misconstrued certain aspects of Reformed theology very difficult and we end up endlessly debating what it is that we Reformed actually believe. From my standpoint I have no particular expertise in RC theology and I’m happy to learn from someone who is on the inside of the system so as to speak. I think most the Reformed guys would feel similarly. There are no doubt some converts from Rome here, but I would guess that very few of the guys who have swum the Tiber this way ever made an academic study of Roman Catholicism before leaving.

    As I read Calvin’s exegesis of Gal 5:6, I don’t find that he is saying anything different than what Lane and others have said here. For instance, Calvin says, “We….refuse to admit that….faith can be separated from the Spirit of regeneration; but when the question comes to be in what manner we are justified, we then set aside all works.”

    Calvin appeals to the logical relationship between regeneration and justification here which is apropos. And he comes out saying that it is impossible to be justified by a faith that is not working through love. But of course when we get into the matter of the basis by which we are justified then Calvin rightly sets love/works aside.

    Have not read Bryan’s response yet so I will do that in a little….

  23. August 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Andrew,

    Calvin appeals to the logical relationship between regeneration and justification here which is apropos. And he comes out saying that it is impossible to be justified by a faith that is not working through love. But of course when we get into the matter of the basis by which we are justified then Calvin rightly sets love/works aside.

    Calvin says, “… when the question comes to be in what manner we are justified, we then set aside all works…. 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 [‘faith alone’].”

    This gets to the heart of the matter, I think. For you and for Calvin, love and works fall into the same category (which is why you use the term “love slash works” above, and why Calvin says “love or works” in the quote I cited.

    My question to you would be this: In the context of Gal. 5 where we hear that for justification (not sanctification), circumcision avails nothing, but faith working through love, why do you think that Paul is speaking of love as a symptom of justification by works rather than as the antidote to it?

    After all, he goes on to say that love fulfills the law, that the fruit of the Spirit is love, and that if we sow to the Spirit we will reap everlasting life.

  24. jsm52 said,

    August 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Hello Jason,

    Looking at Gal. 5 – “5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”

    Why isn’t this to be nderstood simply in the way that the Reformed confessions do? Since the Galatians were confusing works with justification, it seems to me that Paul is showing in these verses the proper relationship of a faith that justifies to the works of love that do surely follow that true faith. For instance, from the 39 Articles:

    XI. Of the Justification of Man.
    We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

    XII. Of Good Works.
    Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

    “Faith working through love,” i.e. faith alone in Christ alone results in a justified sinner, who now born of the Spirit, with a new heart and right-will, shows forth that justifying faith with good works and love. One follows the other as sure as fruit is produced of a tree. Justification through faith alone in Christ bears the fruit of love and good works.

    cheers….

  25. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Re: jsm52 (#17)

    Have you read Bryan’s post “Does the Bible teach Sola Fide”? Does that post satisfy your request for an exegetical argument?

  26. August 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Jack,

    You write:

    Justification through faith alone in Christ bears the fruit of love and good works.

    Paul seems to be saying much more than this in Gal. 5-6. When he insists that “circumcision avails nothing [for justification],” he presents the alternative, or, that which does indeed avail for justification: “faith working through love.” The apostle appears to be ascribing to love something more than a mere result of a justification already received in full.

    Thus the progression of his thought seems to go like this:

    Justification happens by faith working through love; this love fulfills the law; this love is the fruit of the Spirit; if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life.

    In other words, this is not a simple already accomplished indicative (justification) leading to an inevitable imperative (love). Rather, Paul ascribes to love a causal relationship to justification.

    So my question to Andrew was, “Why does Calvin categorize Spirit-wrought love together with the works of the law which cannot justify, when Paul seems to argue the exact opposite?”

  27. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    My question to you would be this: In the context of Gal. 5 where we hear that for justification (not sanctification), circumcision avails nothing, but faith working through love, why do you think that Paul is speaking of love as a symptom of justification by works rather than as the antidote to it?

    Jason – I certainly don’t want to say that love is a “symptom” of justification by works. Is that what you think I am saying? As far as being an antidote against it I would say that “faith working through love” is an antidote against justification by works as long as we understand love as an outworking of faith. As far as just “love” being an antidote against justification by works, I would have to ask what you mean by this.

    But do you think it’s possible we are trying to make more of this phrase than we ought? We agree that justification happens through a living faith, that is a faith working through love. But does the inclusion of the phrase “through love” necessitate the conclusion that God uses the works which flow out of love for God as a means to obtain our justification?

  28. August 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Andrew,

    I certainly don’t want to say that love is a “symptom” of justification by works. Is that what you think I am saying?

    What I mean is that to the Reformed, the “agape paradigm” falls prey to Paul’s indictment of the Galatians, namely, it is a veiled way of saying that man is justified by something within him (maybe not plain old works, but Spirit-wrought love, which makes no soteriological difference since both fall short of grace as described in the WCF). Both Horton and White stressed this point over and over to me over the past few months.

    My question to you is whether you agree with Calvin as echoed by Horton and White on this point? And how does this not say the exact opposite of Paul in Gal. 5-6?

  29. Jsm52 said,

    August 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Jason,

    Thanks for the response. I just think you are investing too much in your interpretation of “faith working through love” as far as an explicit, or even implicit, definition of justification by Paul.

    The are no evidences of love apart from works of the law. Jesus makes this crystal clear in his summary of the law. And righteousness only comes by the keeping of all the law, i.e.perfect love expressed in complete and perfect acts. So, if works are instrincally interwoven with love then the above phrase of Paul’s must be understood in light of not only the previous chapters of Galatians, but the first 8 chapters of Romans, especially 3-4.

    I am well aware this is not new territory for you, far from it. And I don’t presume to be your teacher. Would that you were still adhering to the Reformed understanding of the faith. I would be sitting at your feet. But reading your explanations, I just don’t see how one can ignore the law court language throughout these epistles when discussing how a sinner is declared righteous before the law of God and instead adopt an intrinsic/infusion model of righteousness based on faith and love within that bypasses the perfection of the law required for justification.

    Blessings bro…

  30. August 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Jack,

    When I get a moment later I will try to unpack this a bit, but no, I don’t think I am making too much of Paul’s formula in Gal. 5-6. In fact, I think that he is simply following the paradigm Jesus taught, and which is also echoed in John, Peter, and James (which is more than can be said of extra nos imputation).

    No need to respond now, I will try to fill in the gaps later….

  31. jsm52 said,

    August 11, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Jason,

    Wrote: When I get a moment later I will try to unpack this a bit, but no, I don’t think I am making too much of Paul’s formula in Gal. 5-6. In fact, I think that he is simply following the paradigm Jesus taught, and which is also echoed in John, Peter, and James (which is more than can be said of extra nos imputation).

    Therein is the rub… I look forward to your unpacking this. But do address, not only your take on J,P, and J, but also Paul’ letters in context. It is all-together the full picture.

    Blessings…

  32. August 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Jack,

    OK, this is just a brief sketch of (what Bryan calls) the “agape paradigm” (but which I would have more catchily labeled because I am ex-PCA and therefore all about style over substance), but any robust, book-length defense would follow this basic trajectory.

    My basic thesis would be something like this: The gospel is the teaching that, because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ and subsequent gift of the Spirit, the love of God is shed forth in sinners’ hearts, enabling them to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life.

    First, I would insist—contra some Reformed guys like VanDrunen—that in order to learn the gospel we need to start with Jesus and then look for his teaching echoed in the other NT writers (rather than saying that we should begin with Paul). So keep that in mind: Jesus gets the first and last word.

    On several occasions Jesus taught that love of God and neighbor fulfill the law and prophets (the golden rule in Matt. 7, his answer to the scribe in Matt. 22). In fact, in Mark’s account of the question about the greatest commandment, the scribe, after hearing Jesus’ answer, goes on and says that Jesus spoke truly, and that love for God and neighbor are more important than sacrifices and burnt offerings. Jesus then encourages him that he is “not far from the kingdom of God” (which leads me to believe that Jesus’ intent was not to use the dual command of love as a first-use, pedagogical tool that the scribe should have realized was impossible to keep. This love, I think, is the “righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees” that Jesus spoke of in the sermon on the mount. In other words, that righteousness is not just more exact obedience than they offered already (as if), but a qualitatively different kind of obedience, one flowing from the heart, wrought by the NC gift of the Spirit.

    If this is Jesus’ message, do we find it echoed throughout the NT? I would say yes, by every single major writer.

    Turning from Jesus to Paul, we read in Galatians 5-6:

    You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace…. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love…. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” … But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…. But the fruit of the Spirit is love…. the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (vv. 5:4, 6, 14, 16, 22; 6:8)

    Here we see Paul echoing Christ by saying that love of God and neighbor fulfills the law, but also adding that this is only possible through the NC gift of the Spirit, which he calls “walking in the Spirit.” This fruit-bearing, far from being a veiled attempt at self-righteousness, is the very “sowing to the Spirit” that will enable us to “reap eternal life.”

    John:

    Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

    By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

    We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (4:7, 11-13, 16-21).

    Again, same progression: We are called to “love one another,” which we can do because “he has given us of his Spirit.” Hereby “we can have confidence on the day of judgment.”

    Next up, Peter:

    His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

    For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

    For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

    Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    All the elements of Jesus’ and John’s and Paul’s paradigm are there: God’s divine power causes us to partake of the divine nature (Peter’s way of talking about what Paul speaks of in terms of the indwelling of the Spirit of the risen Christ). He then says that our faith, far from being alone, is supplemented with spiritual virtues, the final and greatest of which is “love.” Finally, he says that we must “practice these qualities,” for “in this way” we will gain our eternal inheritance.

    Finally, James:

    If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well…. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment (2:8, 12-13).

    James here speaks of a “royal law” which he also calls “the law of liberty.” If we love our neighbor by showing him mercy, we are placing ourselves under this law of liberty in order to be judged by it, the end result of which will be the triumph of mercy over judgment.

    My point in providing this brief and incomplete sketch is simply to show how I arrived at the position I now espouse (which I consider Augustinian). When the paradigm of sola fide was used to understand the biblical data, I found that the paradigm explained a few passages (albeit in a debatable way), while it left many, many more unexplained and even inexplicable. But when I began to try to view the data through the lens of Spirit-wrought love of God and neighbor as the fulfillment of the law, I found that there was much more data explained, as well as a much more consistent message woven through the pages of the NT.

    You also asked for a synopsis of Paul, but I don’t have the time to attempt that right now. But when it comes to the overall comparison of paradigms, I hope this feeble attempt will at the very least show that I have some biblical reasons behind what I’m thinking.

  33. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 12, 2012 at 1:04 am

    What I mean is that to the Reformed, the “agape paradigm” falls prey to Paul’s indictment of the Galatians

    Jason (28),

    For starters, there is just too much in the “agape paradigm” that we agree with to say that we feel that it falls prey to something. This is just Lane’s point which Bryan still has not grasped (hopefully Lane will respond back). Why the Catholics won’t let the Protestants define their own paradigm rather than the Catholics defining something for us (which we don’t agree with) is beyond me. Don’t you think it would be nice if Bryan said to Lane, “Hey Lane, you seem to disagree with my assessment of your paradigm, so why don’t you define the Protestant paradigm and I’ll do the Catholic one, and then we can chat.” How about that for a novel idea :)

    Concerning your question, we Reformed speak of the faith being formed by love or working through love. Didn’t you speak this way when you were Reformed? Calvin does fully affirm such a concept in his commentary of Gal. 5. Faith he says is “invariably accompanied by good works.” So before we go any further, how on earth would the “agape paradigm” fall prey to Paul’s critique if we affirm at least a major part of it? Again, maybe the Protestants should be defining our paradigm rather than the Catholics doing it for us.

    Now, there are parts of Scripture which speak of the “manner we are justified…” and this is a different question (I take this phrase from your quote of Calvin in your #23). There are two different questions raised by Scripture and Calvin and Horton, etc have two different answers to the these questions. I’m not saying that Galatians does not get to this question. Of course it does. But I am saying that the phrase “working through love” does not carry with it a necessary connotation that this love, and the works that flow out of it, become part of the the basis by which God justifies us. It seems to me that you are trying to make the phrase bear more than it is able.

  34. August 12, 2012 at 2:41 am

    Andrew,

    For starters, there is just too much in the “agape paradigm” that we agree with to say that we feel that it falls prey to something.

    I don’t think you’re really grasping it then, because the entire Reformation was fought over this. As I said above, from Calvin on down the line to Mike Horton, Reformed theologians insist that any gospel which sees Spirit-wrought love for Christ as contributing to justification is no gospel at all.

    Why the Catholics won’t let the Protestants define their own paradigm rather than the Catholics defining something for us (which we don’t agree with) is beyond me.

    Andrew, with very few exceptions (you and Lane being two), Reformed bloggers here at elsewhere make their living telling Catholics what they really believe despite the latter’s protestations and clarifications, which just fall on deaf ears while the same old false charges are leveled. Physician, heal thyself.

    That said, though, it doesn’t make it right if the Catholic side is doing it to you. I have not seen it, but I will let Bryan speak for himself if there has indeed been any misrepresentation.

    Concerning your question, we Reformed speak of the faith being formed by love or working through love. Didn’t you speak this way when you were Reformed? Calvin does fully affirm such a concept in his commentary of Gal. 5. Faith he says is “invariably accompanied by good works.” So before we go any further, how on earth would the “agape paradigm” fall prey to Paul’s critique if we affirm at least a major part of it? Again, maybe the Protestants should be defining our paradigm rather than the Catholics doing it for us.

    Again, I really don’t think you are grasping what the Catholic, “agape” paradigm is saying. If you think there is sufficient agreement between the two sides, such that the Catholics are making too much of the divide, then you’re not listening hard enough.

    Of course I “spoke that way when I was Reformed,” but as a faithful and confessional Reformed theologian I would never have acquiesced to the Catholic paradigm as laid out by Bryan, or above by me. If I had, I would have taken myself to court. I trust you know I’m not bluffing!

    I am saying that the phrase “working through love” does not carry with it a necessary connotation that this love, and the works that flow out of it, become part of the basis by which God justifies us. It seems to me that you are trying to make the phrase bear more than it is able.

    I heartily agree that Paul’s formula of FWTL doesn’t “necessitate” the view I am propounding. I never said it does. Did you actually read that last long comment of mine?

    All I was trying to show was that, when we look at the NT as a whole and all of its principal writers, a picture forms according to which we are saved through the Spirit’s internal inscription of the law, which is fulfilled in love of God and neighbor. I nowhere gave the impression that this is a necessary connotation, but instead said simply that this is something I have recently begun to see as I look at the evidence.

    The fact that it “seems to you” that I am resting my entire case on one verse from Gal. 5 makes me scratch my head and wonder if you even saw my last comment.

  35. dgh said,

    August 12, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Jason, in the agape paradigm, is the vicarious sacrifice of Christ necessary? If love is the fulfillment of the law, and love can be infused through baptism, why does Christ need to die? It seems to me that the forensic emphasis in Protestantism makes the cross central and plausible.

  36. Mark Scheve said,

    August 12, 2012 at 8:42 am

    David G,
    In #15 you said, “Bryan can’t be expected to soil his pristine, baby-soft hands with the trenchwork of textual exegesis or even historical study.”
    I’ve spent plenty of my life digging actual trenches and ditches. Imagine you’re standing outside the trench I’m digging and you say, “Hey, do you realize the dirt you’re digging is falling back in the trench behind you filling up the place you just dug?” The proper response would not be to chide you about not being down in the trench with me getting your “baby-soft hands” dirty. It would be to stop digging, turn around, and see if what you say is true. Of course, assuming I am truly concerned about making actual progress digging my trench.

    Similarly, if one wants his exegesis on issues that separate Catholics and Reformed to make actualy progress in finding the truth of the matter, it sure seems obvious that one would not want his exegesis to rely on presupposed paradigms, circular reasoning, question-begging assumptions, or other logical problems. This would be especially so, when the critiques come from a guy who has plenty of calluses on his own hands and a degree in ditch digging from a school in the same ditch-digging tradition.
    Hope you as well as all commenters and lirkers here have a blessed Lord’s day.
    Mark

  37. Bryan Cross said,

    August 12, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Andrew, (#33)

    You wrote:

    Why the Catholics won’t let the Protestants define their own paradigm …

    Feel free to point out anything in the list-paradigm that you think is contrary to the system of doctrine set out in the WCF concerning imputation, justification, sanctification, law, and love.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  38. August 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Darryl,

    Without the cross, there is no satisfaction for man’s sin. So yes, Jesus had to die.

    Furthermore, it is Jesus’ participation in my nature that ensures my participation in his.

  39. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Bryan (#36): Feel free to point out anything in the list-paradigm that you think is contrary to the system of doctrine set out in the WCF …

    Well, the actual paradigm is pretty much 180 degrees opposite what the Confession teaches.

    You wrote, In the list paradigm, perfect law-keeping is conceived as keeping a list of God given precepts.

    Essentially, you think of the Reformed faith as teaching some kind of externalism.

    But in the Shorter Catechism we find:

    Q. 39. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
    A. The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will.

    Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
    A. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law.

    Q. 41. Wherein is the moral law summarily comprehended?
    A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.

    Q. 42. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
    A. The sum of the ten commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.

    What is our duty according to the WSC? To love God and neighbor. Love precedes the list, as it does also for Jesus: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Agape is built in to the very foundation of what it means to be righteous in the Reformed faith. A list of commands is the means by which that love is expressed.

    If indeed you love us Reformed folk, please make every effort to clarify this egregious — perhaps unintentional? — misrepresentation for your readers.

  40. Bryan Cross said,

    August 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Jeff,

    If you presently have agape, why aren’t you presently righteous?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  41. dgwired said,

    August 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Jason, my point was that the cross would seem to be an overtly forensic construction of the work of Christ, and that the so-called list paradigm is also forensic. The agape view suggests more stress on relational relations, and participating in God (as in union).

    So I am wondering where forgiveness fits in the agape view. If righteousness is love, and if you are stressing the law written on the heart, what makes Christ’s passion necessary. Why can’t God miraculously implant a new heart without the work of a mediator?

  42. Sean Gerety said,

    August 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    This sometimes makes convincing these converts to Rome that they have misconstrued certain aspects of Reformed theology very difficult…

    Perhaps impossible is a better word. The writer of Hebrews said:

    For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

    This describes Jason and Bryan to a T. I can’t remember if it was Andy Webb or someone else who said he stopped debating Romanists when he realized that for them their endless debating was one of the many works they thought would justify them on the last day. It makes me gag every time I see Bryan sign off his letters “In the peace of Christ” when there is no peace and he and Jason are Christ’s avowed enemies.

    Regardless of their “paradigms” and twisted logic, they deny Christ’s finished work alone and think their putrid “working through love” will one day justify them instead. They deny Christ and the sole sufficiency of His cross-work to propitiate the wrath due them. So, they will one day very soon get what they deserve, in spades, and for eternity.

    Jason writes:

    “The gospel is the teaching that, because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ and subsequent gift of the Spirit, the love of God is shed forth in sinners’ hearts, enabling them to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life.”

    Notice, Christ did not gain eternal life for those He died. His cross-work only made it possible for men like Jason to save themselves. According to Jason we gain eternal life ourselves and with a little help from Rome’s non-existent and false “spirit.” Jason is no different from the FV men he pretended to prosecute. They share his exact same doctrine of justification and understanding of saving faith. I’m surprised Lane allows him to post here after how Jason used him setting him up in his staged prosecution of Leithart his true brother.

  43. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Bryan (#39): If you presently have agape, why aren’t you presently righteous?

    If you presently are righteous, then why aren’t you sinless?

    James: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”

    James presents a binary option: keep the whole law, or be accountable for all of it.

    Fortunately, there is a righteousness apart from the Law that is by faith …

    The problem with trying to drive a wedge between the Law and love is that it was Moses and not Jesus who wrote, “You shall love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Being justified by love and not the law is like being married to one’s spouse but not one’s wife.

    But it is important here that you acknowledge to us and to your readers that your words mis-portray Protestants as externalists. Perhaps that was not your intent, but your words say that very clearly.

    It’s offensive and false, and contrary to your stated goal of peace.

  44. Bryan Cross said,

    August 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Jeff (re: #38-39),

    James: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” James presents a binary option: keep the whole law, or be accountable for all of it. Fortunately, there is a righteousness apart from the Law that is by faith

    That’s my point. In Reformed theology agape is not righteousness because (a) you believe you presently have agape and (b) you believe you presently aren’t internally righteous, precisely because you don’t keep the list. So the selections you cite from the WSC are fully compatible with the list-paradigm, because those statements in the WSC have to be qualified by what is said elsewhere in the WCF entailing that persons having agape within are nonetheless still internally unrighteous and in absolute need of the extra nos imputation of the obedience of Christ in order to be saved. To treat WSC 39-42 as entailing that according to the WCF those having agape within are internally righteous, would be to distort and misrepresent the WCF. At an ordination exam, would you approve candidates who appealed to WSC 39-43 to ground their claim to be presently internally righteous on the basis of the agape within them. Of course not. You would say they are not in conformity with the standards.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  45. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Sean (re: #41) ,

    Your picture looks like a demon. Do you intend to portray yourself as one?

    Regardless of their “paradigms” and twisted logic, they deny Christ’s finished work alone and think their putrid “working through love” will one day justify them instead.

    According to Jeff and the WCF, we have the “duty” to love your neighbor, and I think we can all agree with that, whether or nor we believe that our love for God and obedience to Christ (only possible because of his grace) will affect our final judgment.

    Let’s agree to uphold the goodness of our brothers, even if we’re not perfect.

    Jonathan

  46. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I don’t think you’re really grasping it then, because the entire Reformation was fought over this. As I said above, from Calvin on down the line to Mike Horton, Reformed theologians insist that any gospel which sees Spirit-wrought love for Christ as contributing to justification is no gospel at all.

    Jason,

    You are stating something different from the quote that Lane draws from Bryan at the top of the post. Look at the second quote from Bryan in Lane’s original post (and then Lane’s response to this paragraph). So now where does Bryan discuss, “Spirit-wrought love for Christ as contributing to justification?” Bryan’s discussion is over things we largely agree with, which is Lane’s third point (questions over definitions of false dichotomy aside).

    But you have it right in your quote above. Reformed theologians insist that God does not use the spirit-wrought love for Christ, and I would add, the works which flow out of this love to justify us. That’s the heart and sole of the paradigm difference, rather than what Bryan writes above.

    The fact that it “seems to you” that I am resting my entire case on one verse from Gal. 5 makes me scratch my head and wonder if you even saw my last comment.

    I did not say anything about you resting your whole case on anything. I just feel that there is oftentimes too much made of the phrase “faith working through love.” Maybe you are not guilty of this.

    All I was trying to show was that, when we look at the NT as a whole and all of its principal writers, a picture forms according to which we are saved through the Spirit’s internal inscription of the law, which is fulfilled in love of God and neighbor. I nowhere gave the impression that this is a necessary connotation, but instead said simply that this is something I have recently begun to see as I look at the evidence.

    I don’t think that there is anything here for me to respond to. It the specifics of this picture where we are in disagreement.

    Feel free to point out anything in the list-paradigm that you think is contrary to the system of doctrine set out in the WCF concerning imputation, justification, sanctification, law, and love.

    Bryan – It’s not a matter of what is contrary. Just the opposite – the problem is over what we AGREE with in your statement of the Reformed (“list”) paradigm. You have not sufficiently differentiated the two paradigms IMO. My humble proposal was that you ask Lane to define the Protestant paradigm and then you define the Catholic one.

  47. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 12, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Bryan (#43): Your explanation has nothing to do with agape and lists.

    It is simply a question of imputation or infusion: Are we counted as righteous because Christ’s love is imparted into our hearts, or are we counted as righteous because Christ’s love is reckoned as righteousness to us?

    We agree what righteousness is — loving God and neighbor.

    Please acknowledge and retract your misrepresentation.

  48. jsm52 said,

    August 12, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Jeff @42:
    Being justified by love and not the law is like being married to one’s spouse but not one’s wife.

    My wife sometimes refers to me as the analogy-man. I just want to say, that the analogy above is brilliant!

    -passing the mantle…

  49. Bryan Cross said,

    August 12, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Jeff,

    Before we get to you issuing imperatives to me (as I could just as easily do to you, in a futile exchange of imperatives), first it must be established that I’m misrepresenting something. As alleged evidence that I’m misrepresenting something, you quoted WSC 39-42 as if those answers were incompatible with the list-paradigm. But I showed in #43 that when understood in light of the rest of the WCF, those answers (to WSC 39-42) are fully compatible with the list-paradigm, because they do not mean that all those having agape within have righteousness within. They are quite compatible with it being the case that only those perfectly keeping the list have righteousness within.

    Again, here’s the bottom line. You believe you presently have agape within, and yet you believe that you presently are not righteous within, because you don’t keep the list. So it follows from your position that agape within is not righteousness within. And that notion that agape is not righteousness is at the center of the list-paradigm. Thus either your position (i.e. that agape within is not righteousness within) is also what the WCF teaches, or you are out of accord with the WCF. But you can’t be affirming here on GB a position out of accord with the WCF, because otherwise by now there would be a number of corrective comments from persons who are keen about such things and keep a watchful eye here. So what you believe about agape within not being righteousness within must also be what the WCF teaches, and since that’s at the center of the list-paradigm, you haven’t yet shown the list-paradigm to misrepresent the Reformed position.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  50. jsm52 said,

    August 12, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Jason,

    I hope you’ll unpack your view of Paul when you have time. What Darryl is asking is what I am curious about. And I will most certainly agree – yes, Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Yet the forensic/law-court paradigm of Paul goes beyond forgiveness, and is found even Jesus’ teachings. Or should I say, it includes more than just forgiveness of sins as Paul expresses in Romans, Philippians, and 2Corinthians.

    And by the way, I don’t agree that Jesus gets the first and last word on justification. There’s a whole lot of assuming going on in that assumption. Not to say, Jesus words in Scripture are no more the Word of God than Paul’s or any other writers. Jesus doesn’t trump Paul, nor do His words solely define Paul’s words (I’m not saying you claimed that, but one can infer that from your words).

    Isn’t it with the entirety of Scripture one finds the teaching on justification, on how a ungodly sinner attains righteousness, and what the nature of that righteousness is? And let me say, though the we are declared righteous with the extrinsic righteousness of Christ which he merited through his life and death as a Man, yet that righteousness is not far off, but very near to us, in fact, brought as close to us as the Holy Spirit poured out into every believing heart. Though near as the oneness we now have with God in Christ, yet it is still the righteousness of Christ by which I am accepted in the Beloved. And it is by the merit of that righteousness (his blood) that Jesus mediates our sins and works in heaven.

    Phil. 3- that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith

    – On the basis of “faith”(!) – i.e. resting, trusting in Christ. My keeping of the law of love falls woefully short. Paul uses the law language. And now, putting my faith in Jesus, the federal Head of the new humanity, who kept the Law perfectly is the only solid ground for a righteousness before God for any and all born of God. Where is the mention of ‘love infused’ as the basis of righteousness? Rather, the emphasis is on a faith that looks, not within for proof of righteousness, but away from one’s self and works to Christ Jesus. And this the Holy Spirit bears witness to in our hearts.
    -my two cents, or maybe three. ;-)

    cheers…

  51. August 12, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    All,

    I’ve been out and about all day, I will try to respond this evening when I get home.

  52. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Bryan (#48): You believe you presently have agape within, and yet you believe that you presently are not righteous within, because you don’t keep the list. So it follows from your position that agape within is not righteousness within.

    It does not follow at all. I believe that I have some measure of agape within … even to the extent of believing the best of you in asking you to fairly represent us … and yet I believe that my measure of agape does not meet James’ requirement of keeping the whole law.

    Or God’s requirement of loving Him with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength.

    It has nothing to do with a contrast between agape and lists. It has everything to do with whether we can call someone righteous who still sins. If someone sins, he clearly does not love as he ought.

    The problem is not that Protestants believe righteousness is something other than agape. The problem is that Protestants do not believe we can legitimately call someone righteous who exhibits anything other than agape.

  53. Bryan Cross said,

    August 12, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Jeff, (re: #51)

    I addressed that in my reply to Lane, available at the link in #21. It denies that we have received agape, and instead claims that we receive only a part or portion or measure of agape, as if agape can be divided into parts or units. None of these portions or units is agape. Only a certain quantity of agape units constitutes righteousness, and that quantity of agape units is then defined as agape. That quantity is specified by it resulting in perfect keeping of the list. So, again, the standard of righteousness, and what constitutes agape, is still ultimately defined in terms of perfect keeping of the list.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Bryan, I read your whole reply, and you do not address any notion of quantity of agape in it whatsoever. You do speak of ‘imperfect’ and ‘perfect’ agape, but nothing about quantity. Perhaps you had a different post in mind?

    In any event, you would first have to reckon with 2 Peter 1:

    For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, … and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Apparently, love can increase.

    In any event, don’t you argue yourself into a corner here? For on the one hand, you claim that Christians receive true righteousness, which is agape. You further claim that agape is all-or-nothing, indivisible, perfect, and unquantifiable.

    It follows, therefore, that Christians love perfectly — and therefore never sin.

    Surely you don’t believe that.

    But leave all that aside. The central point is this:

    Protestants don’t believe that righteousness is a matter of keeping a list.

    They do believe that the righteousness that God requires is perfection — specifically, perfect love for Himself and for one’s neighbor, which issues forth from the heart.

    If you want to take issue with the demand for perfection, then I might disagree with you, but I would at least acknowledge that you have the Protestant position correctly represented.

    This “list paradigm”, though, is a real dog. It’s worse than a strawman; it’s the opposite of what we Protestants teach.

  55. Bryan Cross said,

    August 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Jeff,

    and you do not address any notion of quantity of agape in it whatsoever. You do speak of ‘imperfect’ and ‘perfect’ agape, but nothing about quantity.

    Claiming that we receive only a “portion” or “unit” or “measure” or “part” of agape, and don’t actually have agape, is an example of the notion that we receive only “imperfect agape in this present life. Scripture does not teach that we receive imperfect agape; it says that the Holy Spirit pours agape into our heart. The Catholic understanding of growing in agape is not growing from imperfect agape to less imperfect agape, but from agape [which is perfect] to greater participation in agape.

    It follows, therefore, that Christians love perfectly — and therefore never sin.

    No, for the reasons I explain in the comments under the CTC post.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  56. August 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Darryl,

    Jason, my point was that the cross would seem to be an overtly forensic construction of the work of Christ, and that the so-called list paradigm is also forensic. The agape view suggests more stress on relational relations, and participating in God (as in union).

    You appear to be begging the question by assuming that the cross is “overtly forensic” and then favorably comparing it with the list paradigm, which you say is also forensic. But it’s that overtly forensic idea that is itself in dispute.

    I would agree with you if you had said, “The cross, as understood through the lens of the list paradigm, would seem to be an overtly forensic construction of the work of Christ.” But the Catholic lens shows something else, or more, than the merely forensic.

    The Catholic understanding sees the cross as the culmination of the Father’s redemptive plan, according to which the divine Son assumed a human nature and human flesh so that we, by our union with him, can participate in the divine nature, in the sacrifice of Christ, and the life of the Trinity. So the cross is not, for Catholics, a penal substitution according to which the Father punishes the Son instead of punishing us, but rather, it is a sacrifice offered by the Son that is more pleasing to the Father than our sins are displeasing, the result of which is our being adopted by grace into the divine Family, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and thus enabled to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit by bearing the image of our heavenly Father.

    It’s all about the divine Family, is what I’m saying. So to posit an overtly forensic dynamic is to assume the list paradigm, when you need to be trying to prove it.

  57. August 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Jack,

    I hope you’ll unpack your view of Paul when you have time. What Darryl is asking is what I am curious about. And I will most certainly agree – yes, Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Yet the forensic/law-court paradigm of Paul goes beyond forgiveness, and is found even Jesus’ teachings. Or should I say, it includes more than just forgiveness of sins as Paul expresses in Romans, Philippians, and 2Corinthians.

    See my reply above to Darryl, where I argue that the Catholic understanding of the gospel is more familial than forensic. In other words, it’s more about the family room than the court room.

    Of course, there is law-court imagery, but the overarching concern is always the divine Family. I think we’d agree that adoption is both legal and relational. I think Paul’s emphasis here is on the familial. For example, although I was told there’d be no math, I would guess that for every one usage of a legal image (justified rather than condemned, etc.) there are ten that stress the organic kinship bond that we share with Jesus: that we are one with Christ, united with him, members of his Body, in him, etc. I say this not to deny the forensic, but to place it in what I think is the Bible’s larger context, which the work of God in fathering a universal, worldwide family.

    After all, what is God by his very nature? Not a judge, not a creator, but a Father. And what do fathers do? They beget sons and daughters, reproducing their own image in their offspring.

    And by the way, I don’t agree that Jesus gets the first and last word on justification. There’s a whole lot of assuming going on in that assumption.

    OK, then we’d have to have that discussion elsewhere. I didn’t argue for that hermeneutic, I just stated it as my position so that you’d better see where I’m coming from.

    Jesus doesn’t trump Paul, nor do His words solely define Paul’s words (I’m not saying you claimed that, but one can infer that from your words).

    You’re right that I didn’t say that, for to say that “Jesus trumps Paul” would imply that Paul’s words could be at odds with Jesus’, which I don’t believe.

    And let me say, though the we are declared righteous with the extrinsic righteousness of Christ which he merited through his life and death as a Man, yet that righteousness is not far off, but very near to us, in fact, brought as close to us as the Holy Spirit poured out into every believing heart. Though near as the oneness we now have with God in Christ, yet it is still the righteousness of Christ by which I am accepted in the Beloved. And it is by the merit of that righteousness (his blood) that Jesus mediates our sins and works in heaven.

    I like what you say about union here, but I also think we’re circling around the issue that divides us. My question to you would be, “If Jesus, by his sacrifice on the cross, creates a covenantal context according to which the Father can unite me to his Son and allow me to participate in the divine nature, be a temple for his Holy Spirit, and adopt me into his family (such that he looks at me with an analogous but surpassing love to the love with which I behold and accept my own children), then why do I need an extra nos imputation of alien righteousness?”

    That’s a rhetorical question, of course (I know your answer). I ask it to highlight the difference in our two paradigms. If we’re ever going to get anywhere in our discussion, I need to know why you would insist on imputation (which I discover by getting a feel for your paradigm), and you need to know why the Catholic sees no need for it (by getting a feel for his paradigm). And this is hard work.

    Phil. 3- that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith

    As long as you think (or are suspicious) that Paul is contrasting a Protestant gospel with a Catholic one in this passage, we’ll never get anywhere. No Catholic thinks he has “a righteousness of his own, based on law.”

    On the basis of “faith”(!) – i.e. resting, trusting in Christ. My keeping of the law of love falls woefully short. Paul uses the law language. And now, putting my faith in Jesus, the federal Head of the new humanity, who kept the Law perfectly is the only solid ground for a righteousness before God for any and all born of God. Where is the mention of ‘love infused’ as the basis of righteousness? Rather, the emphasis is on a faith that looks, not within for proof of righteousness, but away from one’s self and works to Christ Jesus. And this the Holy Spirit bears witness to in our hearts.

    The Catholic would deny that the faith which was the basis of Paul’s righteousness was “faith alone” or a “dead faith” (to borrow James’ terms). Rather, the gospel brings about “the obedience of faith among all nations” as Paul says at the beginning and end of Romans. It is a faith described in terms of Abraham’s trust in God’s promise as described in Rom. 4 which, if you read to the end of the chapter, you see was hardly passive and merely receptory (is that even a word?). Rather, Abraham’s faith was by definition an obedient faith (which is why Heb. 3, speaking of Israel, uses “unbelief” and “disobedient” interchangeably). In fact, the faith Paul speaks of in the passage you cite is a faith that “works through love,” or to borrow again from James, “Abraham’s faith was active along with his works,” which is why James says it is justifying.

    Further with regard to the Phil. 3 passage, I think we can both agree that the righteousness that Paul clung so hard to was one that was not one that sprung from his own obedience to the law of Moses (which is clearly the context of this pericope). So, no quibbles there. But does Paul here speak of this righteousness being imputed from without, or as arising from the union he shares with Jesus and his participation with him in his work? Look at what he says:

    I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

    Read from a Catholic perspective, far from attributing his superior-to-the-Mosaic-law righteousness to some external factor, Paul sees this righteousness-based-on-faith as something that is being produced in him as a result of his union with Christ and his participation in his suffering and cross-bearing.

    So we agree on the fact that Paul does not look to himself, to the flesh, or to the Mosaic law. And we agree that he looks to the righteousness that comes from faith. But the Catholic would say that, just as God counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness, so Paul sees the righteousness he has from Christ not as something imputed from without, but something infused within as he, like a branch united with a vine, lives out his union with Jesus.

  58. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 12, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Bryan (#54):

    None of this proves that Protestants believe in a “list paradigm” — Even if one could draw a meaningful distinction between “greater quantity of love” and “greater participation in love”, which seems like a dubious distinction.

    What lacks in your argument are the logical connections. You argue,

    (1) Protestants believe that perfection is required to be seen as righteous in God’s eyes.

    (2) So they believe that righteousness is keeping a list of rules instead of believe that righteousness consists of love.

    Where’s the logic?

    You’d think that if Protestant beliefs actually entailed a list-paradigm in contrast to love, that at least one systematic theologian might have noticed this fact before.

  59. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 12, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Further, you misread Calvin. In your post on Calvin, you write that he thinks about righteousness as a lawyer and neglects love. But Calvin himself writes,

    But the generality of men, even while they are most anxious to conceal their disregard of the Law, only frame their hands and feet and other parts of their body to some kind of observance, but in the meanwhile keep the heart utterly estranged from everything like obedience. They think it enough to have carefully concealed from man what they are doing in the sight of God. Hearing the commandments, “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt not steal,” they do not unsheathe their sword for slaughter, nor defile their bodies with harlots, nor put forth their hands to other men’s goods. So far well; but with their whole soul they breathe out slaughter, boil with lust, cast a greedy eye at their neighbour’s property, and in wish devour it. Here the principal thing which the Law requires is wanting. Whence then, this gross stupidity, but just because they lose sight of the Lawgiver, and form an idea of righteousness in accordance with their own disposition? Against this Paul strenuously protests, when he declares that the “law is spiritual”, (Rom. 7: 14;) intimating that it not only demands the homage of the soul, and mind, and will, but requires an angelic purity, which, purified from all filthiness of the flesh, savours only of the Spirit. — Calv Inst. 2.8.6.

    And again, In the First Table, accordingly, he teaches us how to cultivate piety, and the proper duties of religion in which his worship consists; in the second, he shows how, in the fear of his name, we are to conduct ourselves towards our fellow-men. Hence, as related by the Evangelists, (Matth. 22: 37; Luke 10: 27,) our Saviour summed up the whole Law in two heads, viz., to love the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and our neighbour as ourselves. You see how, of the two parts under which he comprehends the whole Law, he devotes the one to God, and assigns the other to mankind. — ibid 2.8.11.

  60. Bob S said,

    August 13, 2012 at 2:13 am

    44 Jonathan,

    Speaking of demons, if Lewis’s Screwtape Letters is any indication, Jason will be disciplined by the arch demon for spilling the beans in 32:

    “The gospel is the teaching that, because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ and subsequent gift of the Spirit, the love of God is shed forth in sinners’ hearts, enabling them to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life.”

    IOW King Crimson nailed it in 41. What we have here is the same old same old Roman confusion of justification and sanctification and substitution of infusion for the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

    And while Jason is entitled to his opinion of all the passages he cites, neither has he categorically demonstrated that they cannot be understood as referring to sanctification, which is how the reformed have always understood them, rather than justification which is how he wishes to understand them.

    IOW all hat and no cattle. But maybe the CtC has some of those pointy little hats that the heretics used to wear in the auto-da-fes they could lend Mr. Stellman.

    Meanwhile how to explain all the sewage that still needs to be pumped out of the manure lagoon for a certain ecclesiastical body. Not to worry, the Artful Dodger and Reviver of scholastic Sorbonne sophistries is up to the task of hopelessly confusing things to the point of no return in false dichotomies/dilemmas.

    Which is no matter. The reformed have always understood that we cannot love God without keeping his law, as well as we cannot keep God’s law without loving him.
    They are one and the same and all Mr. Cross is intent on doing is separating what God has joined together in order to promote the Roman gospel of infusion of grace in order to enable the Romanist to perform works of righteousness unto salvation.

    Nyet.

  61. Bob S said,

    August 13, 2012 at 2:18 am

    FTM Calvin on Gal. 5:1 “But faith, which worketh by love” says,

    There would be no difficulty in this passage, were it not for the dishonest manner in which it has been tortured by the Papists to uphold the righteousness of works. When they attempt to refute our doctrine, that we are justified by faith alone, they take this line of argument. If the faith which justifies us be that “which worketh by love,” then faith alone does not justify. I answer, they do not comprehend their own silly talk; still less do they comprehend out statements. It is not our doctrine that the faith which justifies is alone; we maintain that it is invariably accompanied by good works; only we contend that faith alone is sufficient for justification. The Papists themselves are accustomed to tear faith after a murderous fashion, sometimes presenting it out of all shape and unaccompanied by love, and at other times, in its true character. We, again, refuse to admit that, in any case, faith can be separated from the Spirit of regeneration; but when the question comes to be in what manner we are justified, we then set aside all works.
    With respect to the present passage, Paul enters into no dispute whether love co-operates with faith in justification; but in order to avoid the appearance of representing Christians as idle and as resembling blocks of wood, he points out what are the true exercises of believers. 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. Had he done so, the same argument would prove that circumcision and ceremonies, at a former period, had some share in justifying a sinner. As in Christ Jesus he commends faith accompanied by love, so before the coming of Christ ceremonies were required. But this has nothing to do with obtaining righteousness, as the Papists themselves allow; neither must it be supposed that love possesses any such influence.

    But if there is no mention, much more condemnation, of agape, maybe the CTC paradigm is home free. Yet I for one, wouldn’t stake eternal life on it. No one, can keep the law/love God and his neighbor unto saving righteousness, not even after repenting of their sin and believing on Christ unto salvation.

    At best, we only have evangelical obedience which is the relative perfection of Zacharias and Elizabeth who in Lk.1:6, “were both righteous before God,walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”. Likewise the righteousness of David – apart from that imputed unto him in Christ – who was a man after God’s own heart and yet still a sinner. Which distinction has also been distorted in attempting to put over the Roman gospel of agape and the infusion of righteousness.

  62. August 13, 2012 at 3:35 am

    Bryan said The Catholic understanding of growing in agape is not growing from imperfect agape to less imperfect agape, but from agape [which is perfect] to greater participation in agape.

    I’ll give this points for creativity, but zero points for scriptural warrant.

  63. August 13, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Bob S said Speaking of demons, if Lewis’s Screwtape Letters is any indication, Jason will be disciplined by the arch demon for spilling the beans in 32:

    That’s what it keeps coming back to. Once penal substitution is denied, the “Gospel” becomes the news that Jesus died to make it possible for us to earn eternal life ourselves by our works: “enabling them to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life.” This strikes us as not only unbiblical, but blasphemous and impious in the extreme. And this system only holds up if the bar is lowered, and the demands of God’s law are lessened such that imperfect obedience is acceptable to God. So Jesus is just giving us a second chance, whereas Adam blew it we can now be accepted by God by fulfilling a less demanding standard and less demanding law that is “doable” by fallen and corrupt sons of Adam. God will grade on a curve, so if we only score an 85% then we will still pass the class. Well, maybe, anyway. The Roman Magisterium hasn’t been kind enough to tell us how many Hail Marys or how much mass attendance will keep us in the black. You just have to do the best you can and hope you squeak by.

  64. dgh said,

    August 13, 2012 at 6:15 am

    Thanks, Jason, but the agape w-w still looks arbitrary. On the forensic point, the Eden economy was if you sin you die. That seems pretty law and order. So the forensic seems pretty well built into the history of salvation.

    But your view that the cross is more pleasing than our sin is odd in that why wouldn’t Christ’s sinless life be more pleasing that Adam or Israel’s disobedience? Not to mention that your view does leave open the idea that God the father is prone to child molestation.

    Still, how do we get rid of our guilt and the death penalty? The Father now loves his son and calls it all off?

  65. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 13, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Re: Bob S. (#61)

    There would be no difficulty in this passage, were it not for the dishonest manner in which it has been tortured by the Papists to uphold the righteousness of works. When they attempt to refute our doctrine, that we are justified by faith alone, they take this line of argument. If the faith which justifies us be that “which worketh by love,” then faith alone does not justify.

    You’re totally making a strawman of the Church. For instance, the pope has said just the opposite of this:

    “For this reason Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love.”

    Catholics can accept “sola fide” if you define “faith” to include agape. Even so, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t write our Catechism this way. It’s extremely confusing to use the phrase “justification by faith alone” as a basis of doctrine when the only instance of this phrase in scripture says just the opposite, that faith alone does not justify.

    So, Bob, if you really believe that that the kind of faith which justifies is the “faith which worketh by love”, and if you would also say that a belief in God which does not “work by love” does NOT justify, then we are in complete agreement on the basis for justification. The schism can be over. Bryan can get off the computer and give his family some attention. God be praised!

    But, do you really agree with this?

  66. johnbugay said,

    August 13, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Jonathan Brumley 64: in other words, “you can have ‘faith alone’ if it is not really ‘alone'”.

  67. TurretinFan said,

    August 13, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Bryan Cross wrote:

    Claiming that we receive only a “portion” or “unit” or “measure” or “part” of agape, and don’t actually have agape, is an example of the notion that we receive only “imperfect agape in this present life. Scripture does not teach that we receive imperfect agape; it says that the Holy Spirit pours agape into our heart. The Catholic understanding of growing in agape is not growing from imperfect agape to less imperfect agape, but from agape [which is perfect] to greater participation in agape.

    But Augustine writes:

    He, therefore, who wishes to do God’s commandment, but is unable, already possesses a good will, but as yet a small and weak one; he will, however, become able when he shall have acquired a great and robust will. When the martyrs did the great commandments which they obeyed, they acted by a great will,— that is, with great love. Of this love the Lord Himself thus speaks: Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) In accordance with this, the apostle also says, He that loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law. For this: You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18) Love works no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10) This love the Apostle Peter did not yet possess, when he for fear thrice denied the Lord. (Matthew 26:69-75) There is no fear in love, says the Evangelist John in his first Epistle, but perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) But yet, however small and imperfect his love was, it was not wholly wanting when he said to the Lord, I will lay down my life for Your sake; (John 13:37) for he supposed himself able to effect what he felt himself willing to do.

    Again, we see the same problem I pointed out at #11, which is that Bryan Cross is setting forth a novel interpretation of the text — one unknown to the ancients.

    That wouldn’t be a problem in an absolute way, if Bryan could establish his position from the text, but since he has already confessed that he does not begin with the text, and since his interpretation departs from the consensus of the fathers, why should we even give it the time of day?

    -TurretinFan

  68. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 13, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Re: #61 (Bob S)

    Sorry, Bob – your post answered my question:

    only we contend that faith alone is sufficient for justification.

    Let me change my question – what exactly is a “faith alone” which justifies”? Is it just intellectual assent, to a standard of belief

    You seem to be saying that you can’t separate faith from the spirit of regeneration (which is the spirit of love), but at the same time, you separate these two concepts when you talk about justification.

    I just can’t see what these two concepts look like when separated.

    Side question: what does adherence to “ceremonies and circumcision” have anything to do with love in the new covenant? I don’t see how Paul is condemning love as a basis for justification when he is condemning adherence to these rites.

  69. johnbugay said,

    August 13, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Jonathan 68: It is an empty hand that does nothing but receive.

  70. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 13, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Re: John Bugay (#66)

    Yes – and in other words, you can say justification is by faith alone if you define faith as “living faith” and don’t define faith as merely intellectual assent to a standard of belief.

  71. johnbugay said,

    August 13, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Jonathan, who defines faith as “merely intellectual assent to a standard of belief”?

  72. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 13, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Re: johnbugay (#69) Yes, I usually feel that way.
    But even dogs ask for crumbs from the master’s table.

  73. johnbugay said,

    August 13, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Jonathan 72: But even dogs ask for crumbs from the master’s table.

    This is about as misguided an application of Scripture as you can get. Even a dog asking for crumbs (as in “turn and be healed”) is going to receive something infinite from the God of the universe.

    And however you want to characterize it, God is not going to be stingy. It is “glorious grace”, which he has freely given us [past tense] in the One he loves”. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us [past tense]“.

    But it doesn’t stop there. Roman Catholicism somehow has the impression that this gift of grace is a one-time thing.

    We “saints” are “his glorious inheritance”. That is, in context (Eph 1:18), those whom God freely justifies (by faith), these are the very ones who are “his glorious inheritance”. He inherits us. This is a promise, of “him who fills everything in every way” (Eph 1:23).

    Rome is what gives out crumbs. Go to “the Eucharist”, you still have got to go again and again and again, or you will “fall out of the state of grace”. Be sure to worry about getting “confession” in, too. And the proper saying of your Hail Marys for penance. Stay on the treadmill, or you’ll certainly be out of that “state of grace”.

  74. Zrim said,

    August 13, 2012 at 9:41 am

    JJS (#56), so is it then accurate to say that while the Protestant view is that man’s problem is moral-legal, the Catholic view is that his problem is metaphysical-ontological, i.e. sin is a lack of being in the “chain of being,” or even a lack of divinity, that by virtue of being created and finite man is deficient and in need of grace in order to become perfected, in contrast to the Protestant view which affirms the paradox of man’s high state at creation, his free will and his mutability which made the fall a possibility?

  75. Bob S said,

    August 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

    65 You’re totally making a strawman of the Church. For instance, the pope has said just the opposite of this:

    Dunno know, Jonathan other than liars should have good memories.
    IOW Rome pretty much says what she wants whenever she wants and gets away with it. After all she is infallible. And implicit faith is what it is.

    For but one instance, remember the unanimous consent of the fathers? How far do we get with that when it comes to establishing the papacy on Matt. 16? To ask is to answer. The question dies the death of a thousand qualifications. Blah, blah, blah.

    Yeah, whatever. Been there, done that. I was born in the communion and went to a Jesuit school. Enough said.

  76. Sean Gerety said,

    August 13, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Catholics can accept “sola fide” if you define “faith” to include agape.

    Your point here dovetails nicely with the two previous posts regarding Jeff Meyers and the Federal Vision theology. Why is it that Reformed TEs and Res can identify the heretical core of the Roman system but can’t identify it when it comes from men pretending to be Reformed? Stellman at least was somewhat able to make this distinction, which is why he left the Christian faith and joined himself to that antichrist in Rome. Like the Federal Visionist he half-heartedly and hypocritically prosecuted while still in the PCA, he rejects justification by faith alone, and, like you and Bryan, believes for faith to save it must work.

    …you can say justification is by faith alone if you define faith as “living faith” and don’t define faith as merely intellectual assent to a standard of belief.

    Why would anyone define faith as an intellectual assent to a standard of belief? The words faith and belief are translations of the same Greek word. Faith is actually a poorer translation as it has no verb form. Faith IS belief and your definition is no definition at all. As Gordon Clark observes:

    The Latin language has not been an unexceptionable advantage to theology. Dikaioo was translated justus-facere; and thus the New Testament word for acquit or pronounce righteous was taken to mean make righteous. The result was a theory of infused grace that obscured the method of salvation until the time of Luther and the Reformation. So too it would have been better if the King James Version had omitted the word faith and emphasized the root meaning of belief. http://tinyurl.com/c9vagqy

    As someone who has been attacked on this blog (and not by devotees of Rome I might add) for using the phrase belief alone and faith alone interchangeably, I agree that a whole lot of confusion could have been avoided if pistis was translated belief instead of faith, just as pistein is translated believe. We are justified by belief alone, apart from works even works done out of or in response to love.

    If the Roman scheme was correct then Jesus’ cross-work was insufficient to save us from the wrath to come. David Gadbois was correct and this is blasphemous and impious in the extreme for the simple reason that it is an affront to God the Father. It is an admission that His giving of his Son who knew no sin to be sin for us was not good enough. All this prattle about “agape” is a farce, since you demonstrate that you have no love of the Father because you trample on the finished work of His Son.

  77. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Re: Sean,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any of the following claims have been made:

    1. Christ’s sacrifice is insufficient to atone for our sins.
    2. Works are necessary for justification
    3. Works of agape are necessary for justification
    4. Agape is a work.

    I really am trying to understand what “living faith” means to you guys, so I apologize if my strawman definition of faith was incorrect or offensive.

    Am I understanding you correctly that you would describe the “living faith” by which we are justified is no more than belief in Christ and His righteousness?

    The WCF seems to describe faith in two ways. First of all, it describes the faith through which we are justified

    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.

    This seems to indicate that living faith is the same as “resting on” one’s belief in Christ and his righteousness.

    But secondly, it describes faith according to its effects:

    By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; 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.”

    This seems to indicate that living faith includes an aspect of trust or obedience, or that trust and obedience are an effect of faith.

  78. August 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Darryl,

    But your view that the cross is more pleasing than our sin is odd….

    It’s not really “my view,” it’s the standard view of the atonement as satisfaction, as defended by Anselm in <Cur Deus Homo. You can consult that work to find out whether God is a child molester.

  79. August 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Darryl,

    (HTML tags fixed)

    But your view that the cross is more pleasing than our sin is odd….

    It’s not really “my view,” it’s the standard view of the atonement as satisfaction, as defended by Anselm in Cur Deus Homo. You can consult that work to find out whether God is a child molester.

  80. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Bryan,

    I feel that you deserve an explanation for my aggressive challenges, especially the imperative that annoyed you (#49).

    We can follow one of two models for our discourses. In the basketball model, the goal is to deliberately foul and to get away with fouling as much as possible. Fouling is part of the strategy in basketball. In terms of discourse, a ‘basketball model’ means deliberately using bad reasoning or prejudicial language and hoping that no-one will call it.

    Without a referee, the basketball model degenerates into a situation devoid of charity and peace, characterized by suspicion.

    In the golf model, people call their own fouls. They ‘fess up to bad reasoning, they clarify unfortunate language. The golf model enables love and peace to go forward, because we can trust one another, within reason, to police ourselves.

    Clearly, your aim is to demonstrate that Catholicism is superior to Protestantism. Towards that aim, your post delineates what you consider to be an important difference between Catholics and Protestants.

    The core of that difference, as I understand it, is that Catholics believe that having infused agape, to whatever degree they ‘participate’ in it, causes one to be seen as righteous in God’s sight. Protestants believe by contrast that one must be entirely without sin to be seen as righteous in God’s sight.

    That is certainly a legitimate difference, and I don’t mind discussing or debating it.

    However, it is not a difference between agape and list-keeping. Not only do Protestants not teach list-keeping as a means of righteousness, but they actively teach against list-keeping. Quite the contrary, as documented above, they believe that righteous is, in fact, agape.

    To say otherwise is offensive, just as when Protestants say that “there are two paradigms, the Grace paradigm and the Works paradigm, and Catholics believe in the Works paradigm.”

    In sharply challenging you, I am asking you to police yourself, to call your own foul here. The persistent insistence that you have not fouled, that Protestants secretly believe in list-keeping despite their own Confessions, does not persuade but rather diminishes trust. It looks like doubling down on your foul.

    The goal here is a charitable, peaceful discussion of differences. Please help make that happen by accepting our own explanations of what we believe, and by being quick to police your own fouls.

    If you believe that I have crossed the line between critiquing your arguments and attacking you personally, feel free to contact me here or via the moderators.

  81. August 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Zrim,

    JJS (#56), so is it then accurate to say that while the Protestant view is that man’s problem is moral-legal, the Catholic view is that his problem is metaphysical-ontological, i.e. sin is a lack of being in the “chain of being,” or even a lack of divinity, that by virtue of being created and finite man is deficient and in need of grace in order to become perfected, in contrast to the Protestant view which affirms the paradox of man’s high state at creation, his free will and his mutability which made the fall a possibility?

    You mean, is Horton right?

    I will leave a detailed answer to someone who is familiar enough with Thomas and the philosophical terms needed to answer it properly. I will say, though, that filtering all of our considerations of the relation of God to man through the Creator/creature distinction is a bad idea, since God by his very nature is not a Creator, but a Father. Better to begin with the Trinity.

    But the paradigm I am arguing for doesn’t violate the Creator/creature distinction anyway. But yes, there is an ontological element to it beyond the merely legal or moral (but only if Jesus partook of my nature ontologically, of course. He did, didn’t he? He wasn’t just covenantally human or forensically human, was he?). As John says,

    See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

    See how John’s explanation of agape is thoroughly Trinitarian, and how he isn’t afraid to affirm what (I think) you and Horton would be seriously uncomfortable with (seeing Jesus as he is)?

  82. dghart said,

    August 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Jason, the word you used was “pleasing.” Most accounts of Anselm talk about the honor God. But as far as the “standard” view, you may be running over history in the CTC fashion. If this article is right, there is hardly a “standard” view among the church fathers: http://therebelgod.com/AtonementFathersEQ.pdf

    BTW, the article argues as much against Protestant overinterpretation as that we see at CTC.

  83. August 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I would like to issue a request (I actually thought I would wake up this morning and find that it had already been met, but alas, it hasn’t):

    I would really appreciate it if someone here would provide a sketch of the imputation paradigm similar to the one I provided for the agape paradigm in comment #32. In order to do this:

    1. The sketch should draw from Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and James.

    2. The sketch should demonstrate that imputation is a thread that weaves through the NT such that it is worthy of also being a broader motif that unites and explains the various data.

    3. The sketch should show that each of the NT writers taught not just that God “reckons” sinners righteousness (since we all agree on that point), but that God actually imputes an alien righteousness to sinners from without. In other words, just as mine tried to show something you all reject (namely, that there is a causal connection between our Spirit-wrought obedience and our gaining our eternal reward), so your sketch should include biblical evidence that you think, on the face of it, I would be uncomfortable with.

    I showed you mine….

  84. Bryan Cross said,

    August 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Jeff, (re: #80)

    I feel that you deserve an explanation for my aggressive challenges, especially the imperative that annoyed you

    They didn’t annoy me. They simply don’t help reach agreement (as you would realize, if I started issuing imperatives to you).

    Your response to my description of the list-paradigm is to claim that believers don’t have agape; they receive something that is different in kind from agape, implying that agape is composed of parts that are different in species from agape.

    If you want to take that route, you obviously can. That leads to serious implications regarding divine simplicity, implying that God is composed of things that are not God. I don’t have time to lay all that out, or explain why what seems to you “like a dubious distinction” is an absolutely crucial and real distinction.

    But, in my experience, confessional Protestantism includes the idea that believers have agape within (not something different in species from agape), and yet that they do not have righteousness within. That entails that within that paradigm (even if those holding it typically do not draw this conclusion explicitly) agape is not righteousness. And that’s the central feature of the list-paradigm.

    Unfortunately right now I don’t have time to continue the conversation.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  85. Frank said,

    August 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    No offense to either side, but from the cheap seats where most of us sit neither side is very good news, never has been. I mean from what I can tell from Mr. Gerety very very few people are “saved”. I have to laugh and cry at the same time when they claim their “salvation” is not works oriented. It seems they work awful hard.

  86. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Jason (#32, 83):

    Two things.

    (1) If you have to go RC, you could do a lot worse than Augustinian. Just please stay away from the Sedevacantist crowd.

    (2) Up above, you contrast ‘familial’ with ‘legal.’ And of course, that distinction looks … ‘familiar’ … having seen it over on CtC.

    But the secret is, there is no distinction between the relational and the legal. This notion that there’s some courtroom out there, and God is just handicapped by the Justice Of The Universe, is foreign to Christianity.

    Sin is sin because it demonstrates a lack of love. Adam sinned because he failed to love God enough to obey Him.

    Likewise, God’s wrath against sin is not on account of abstract and impersonal justice, but because sin is a rejection of relationship.

    And like-likewise, God’s justification of us, in the Reformed paradigm, does not consist of His seeing us as Righteous In the Abstract, but in His viewing us, through the lens of His Son, as those who are genuinely obedient to Him out of love.

    WLC 1, 27, 70 — God accepts our persons, a relational move.
    Heidelberg 4, 5, and especially 60:

    Question 60. How are thou righteous before God?

    Answer: Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.

    What is the righteousness and holiness of Christ that is granted and imputed to me? Not that he kept a list of rules, but that “I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15.10).

    So we don’t have obedience to the Law over here (righteous? Check the list … No.) and love over there, hanging out orphaned in theological space.

    The two belong together, and they do go together in the best understandings of Reformed theology.

    One doesn’t have to swim the Tiber to get ‘relational’ salvation. It was baked in from the beginning.

    As to your request, I hope to put up something on the blog this week.

  87. Bryan Cross said,

    August 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Jeff, (re: #80)

    For the sake of argument, let the unit of “measure” of agape (in your “measure of agape” from comment #52) be a cup, and let one hundred cups be the measure of agape necessary for perfectly keeping the law.

    So, here’s the position you’re taking, One cup of agape is not agape. Two cups of agape is not agape. Three cups of agape is not agape. Etc. Ninety-nine cups of agape is not agape. But, one hundred cups of agapethat’s agape, and in this present earthly life no one has one hundred cups of agape. During this present life, the number of cups of agape each believer has is always less than one hundred.

    The problem with that position is that it is continually equivocating on the word ‘agape,’ when it claims that n cups of x is not x, and when claiming that 100 cups of x is x. Salvaging the position requires acknowledging either that whatever the “one cup of agape” is supposed to be referring to is not agape, or that “one hundred cups of agape” is not agape per se, but actually one hundred cups of agape. One cannot have it both ways, without equivocating.

    If one acknowledges that “one cup of agape” is not agape, this implies that agape is composed of parts that are not themselves agape, and that God (who is Agape) is composed of non-God. On the other horn of the dilemma, if “one hundred cups of agape” is not agape per se, but actually one hundred cups of agape, then the believer actually has agape within. And if the believer actually has agape within, then either he is thereby righteous (in which case that’s the agape paradigm), or he is still unrighteous, in which case that’s the list paradigm.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  88. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Bryan (#84): Your response to my description of the list-paradigm is to claim that believers don’t have agape; they receive something that is different in kind from agape …

    But I actually said …

    JRC (#39): Agape is built in to the very foundation of what it means to be righteous in the Reformed faith.

    JRC (#52): I believe that I have some measure of agape within … and yet I believe that my measure of agape does not meet James’ requirement of keeping the whole law.

    The record speaks.

  89. spctc2008@gmail.com said,

    August 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Jeff.

    Just so you know, those very small number of people that are known as the ‘sedevacantist crowd’ are not Roman Catholic. They are Protestants but just a funny sort of Protestants that call themselves Roman Catholic. Kind of like the so called ‘Roman Catholic Womenpriests’ who are Protestant but call themselves “Roman Catholic.”

  90. jsm52 said,

    August 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Having read through the comments this morning, I’ll chime in with a couple questions and thoughts:

    1. Isn’t the so-called agape/righteousness that believers have simply Christ himself? That is, his perfect life of love, as a Man, in loving God and loving neighbor, fully satisfying the law of love? And though, by the Spirit through faith we have Christ (the agape of God), it is still his perfection of love-living (laying down his life for the sheep the ultimate act of love). Not a righteousness that is my righteousness, nor some abstract agape/righteousness of God infused into my being. It is Jesus’ perfection of sacrificial love that is the righteousness of Christ which is reckoned to me by faith alone in him, upon which I stand before God my Father and God my Judge. No?

    2. And I find curious that the law-court paradigm is seen as foreign to Jesus in the Gospels. Just a small question – Isn’t it a bit more than coincidental that Jesus was tried in two legal proceedings (the High Priest/Jews and Rome, i.e. the court of God’s people and the court of the world)? That Jesus was charged with blasphemy against the Law of God? They claimed he made himself out to be God, which is the most unloving act towards God that could be charged. And though innocent, he was given the death penalty, “condemned” to die a criminal’s death for violating the Law. This takes up a considerable amount of ink in the four Gospels. If the law-court / forensic is unnecessary why all the legal drama?

    And he will come again to judge both the living and the dead…

    just wondering…

  91. jedpaschall said,

    August 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Jason,

    One of the issues that keeps coming up over and over in the current discussions is how justification is construed biblically. I think your request for a response to #32 is a good idea, and I would hope to see a list that also accounts for the relevant OT data as well. I don’t want to bog the combox down with a ton of quoted material, so I’ll simply refer you over to G.K Beale’s most recent work – A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New, because I think his chapter on justification (15) which is in in part 5 of the book titled “The Story of Salvation as Inaugurated End-Time New Creation”. Beale deals with the diversity of justification in the NT quite well, and better than probably any of us could here, accounting for all the major NT contributors on the topic.

    I think his work is corrective for Protestants that might be prone to reducing salvation to sola fide, as he depicts both justification and salvation in a unified eschatological/biblical vision that doesn’t shrug off the diversity of how justification is taught in various textual contexts. By expounding salvation eschatologically he highlights man’s entrance into a right relationship with God by being justified by faith alone, however he also deals with the passages that speak to salvation being bestowed on the basis of the evaluation of one’s works. He does this by placing these passages in the context of final justification, when resurrected believers are judged according to their works, which serve as an attestation to genuine salvation which was obtained (by faith) in the inter-advental age. Those who posses genuine faith will be vindicated in judgment with reward for their faithful works. Beale does a good job, in my estimation, of taking the parts of the NT that draw a close link between works and salvation by taking them seriously and at face value, in a way that doesn’t cram them into a JBFA paradigm, all while he still upholds a robust Reformed soteriology.

    While you wait for a response to #32, if you get a chance to read that chapter, I’d be interested to see what you think about it. I think it might address some of the problems you seem to be having with the question of whether or not the Reformed doctrine of justification is biblical

  92. Sean Gerety said,

    August 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Jonathan (#77)

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any of the following claims have been made:

    1. Christ’s sacrifice is insufficient to atone for our sins.
    2. Works are necessary for justification
    3. Works of agape are necessary for justification
    4. Agape is a work.

    If you don’t think any of these claims have been made by your side then you must be reading a different discussion on a different blog.

    Did you miss Jason’s explanation of the gospel:

    “The gospel is the teaching that, because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ and subsequent gift of the Spirit, the love of God is shed forth in sinners’ hearts, enabling them to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life.”

    Notice, Jesus Christ doesn’t fulfill the law for us and on the basis of his active and passive obedience even to the cross he cannot and does not secure eternal life for us. It is WE who must, through God’s imagined “enabling,” fulfill the law of love and thereby gain eternal life. This is a denial of Jesus Christ. The Roman system of justification is as blasphemous as they come.

    Am I understanding you correctly that you would describe the “living faith” by which we are justified is no more than belief in Christ and His righteousness?

    “Living faith” as opposed to one that is “dead” are metaphors that are sometimes used to describe the fruits of a genuine and sincere belief in Christ’s finished work alone, completely apart from anything that might be wrought in us.

    For example as Lane explains above:

    James is not talking about being right before God, but about being shown to be right before God. So, in Abraham’s case, he was declared to be justified in Genesis 15. He was shown to be righteous in Genesis 22 (which fact James references in 2:21, the actual event that proved that Abraham was in fact justified).

    I would have preferred the word “evidenced” or “demonstrated” rather than “proved” just for clarity.

    The WCF seems to describe faith in two ways. First of all, it describes the faith through which we are justified

    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.

    This seems to indicate that living faith is the same as “resting on” one’s belief in Christ and his righteousness.

    I don’t know why this is hard, but if you believe certain things to be true it will result in certain behaviors. If you are someone who believes in the Communist Manifesto you might think that eliminating the Bourgeoisie at all costs is justified in order to usher in the Proletarian utopia even at the point of a gun. Obviously if someone is willing to shoot a businessman in the head all in the name of the revolution, you might be justified in thinking that person is a true believer.

    Similarly, if someone believes they’re accounted as righteous before the Father not on the basis of anything they have done, but rather on the basis of what Christ has done completely outside of them and on cross some 2000 years ago, it will have an affect on their behavior. This is how we might determine genuine belief in Christ and His finished work from someone who is just giving the Christian faith lip service.

    Perhaps a clearer explanation of the WCF that you cite in part is the WLC 72:

    What is justifying faith?

    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.

    Notice, a belief that justifies is one that not only assents to the promise of the gospel (i.e., that one will have their sins forgiven, be granted eternal life, etc.), but they must also assent to Christ and his righteousness as the only basis by which they are accounted as righteous in the sight of God for salvation. Clearly, Romanists believe in many of the promises of the gospel, and, like Jason believe that by God’s help they will somehow fulfill the law of love and gain eternal life. Yet, they do not believe that Christ and his righteousness is enough in order to be accepted and accounted as righteous in the sight of God. You have to do your part, with God’s help of course.

    And, here’s the clincher in the very next question and answer:

    How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
    Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receives and applies Christ and his righteousness.

    As you can see saving faith is described quite apart from its effects.

    This seems to indicate that living faith includes an aspect of trust or obedience, or that trust and obedience are an effect of faith.

    If saving belief includes obedience then you’re right; there is no real objection dividing Rome and Geneva. It seems like such a small point but it really is the difference between life and death. FWIW this is also the central error made by Federal Visionists in the PCA and elsewhere and why they all have more in common with Roman Catholics than Protestants. Obedience is properly a result of true belief and not an aspect of it.

  93. August 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Just a quick clarification. I went out of my way NOT to deny the forensic element, and to say that the familial context of redemption is the larger biblical context in which forensic imagery is to be understood. Adam was the “son of God,” Israel was Yahweh’s “firstborn son,” Jesus is the divine “Son,” and we, in Christ, are “the children of God.” In fact, the entire covenantal formula throughout Scripture is that Yahweh will be “a Father to us.”

    So the whole story is about God fathering a worldwide family, and part of how he does that is by acquitting us in his divine court. Both/and, not either/or.

  94. Zrim said,

    August 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    JJS, no, I’m not really asking if Horton is right. I know a Catholic would say he’s wrong. I’m asking if you think that basic difference is fair, because one of your refrains is that most Protestants don’t characterize their Catholic opponents fairly or accurately. But in your explanation of what the function of the cross is, you seem to be putting a familial and relational emphasis on matters (satisfactory), as opposed to a forensic and legal emphasis (penal substitution). Of course, assuming this is a more or less fair way to distinguish the approaches, as a Prot I would reserve the right to criticize what your construal leads to, just as much as you have a right to criticize the Protestant construal leads to.

    Even so, I don’t see what would make a Protestant uncomfortable affirming what John says, namely that God is our Father, we are his children, and that we will be like him when he appears. My Protestant read is that as adopted children we will be glorified upon his appearance, not deified. So why would any Protestant be “seriously uncomfortable with affirming that we will see Jesus as he is”? Unless you mean we will know him as he knows us, in which case, that would be disconcerting since it seems closer to deifying creatures than glorifying them.

  95. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Re: Sean (#90)

    Thanks a lot for this response. I expected a crumb and got a mouthful instead. I think I understand the WCF notion of faith a lot better now. Especially helpful were your example about belief driving action and your assertion that “obedience is properly a result of true belief and not an aspect of it”.

    Other responsibilities are engaging me, so I plan to reply later…

    For now, I’ll just check for understanding – and there’s no need to reply unless it is to correct:

    What makes faith “living” is that it is “sincere belief in the righteousness of Christ”.

  96. jsm52 said,

    August 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Jason,

    Your wrote: So the whole story is about God fathering a worldwide family, and part of how he does that is by acquitting us in his divine court. Both/and, not either/or.

    Right then. Let me ask a few questions…

    – On what basis are sinners-made-children-of-God acquitted in the divine court?
    – What is the charge they are acquitted of? Is it a “once for all time” acquittal?
    – Or can that graciously-given acquittal of God’s yet be rescinded or lost?
    – How does the cross of Christ acquit those whom the Father has given to Jesus?

    Thanks…

  97. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 13, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Re: Jeff, John, (and others),

    Do you have any scriptural data to back up what you seem to be implying – that God’s grace is NOT efficacious enough to perfect agape in the heart of the believer, such that the law is satisfied by this perfect sanctification?

    The reason I’m asking, is because 1 Thess 5:23 seems to say otherwise:

    “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

  98. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 13, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Bryan (#86): So, here’s the position you’re taking, One cup of agape is not agape.

    Not at all. You’re recapitulating the fallacy of the continuum (“If beards can have different lengths, no-one has a beard”).

    My actual position is that any amount of agape is in fact agape, and agape can be of a greater or lesser quantity in different individuals.

    This is the clear teaching of 2 Peter 1.

    And my position is further, The quantity of righteousness that God requires in order that there be no wrath against the individual is a quantity sufficient that the individual does not sin.

    To be righteous before God, requires enough righteousness that there is no disobedience.

    The obedience to His commands is a symptom of love; disobedience is likewise a symptom of insufficient love.

    To put it clearly:

    If someone … Joseph, say … possesses a certain quantity of agape for his wife, so that he is willing to ‘put her away privately’ rather than humiliate her, then he can reasonably be described as ‘righteous’, as indeed the Scripture does. On the scale of human beings, Joseph was righteous. So was David, the man after God’s own heart.

    But their righteousness, in whatever degree, did not justify them before God.

    Rather, David says, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

    For the righteousness that God requires, per James and per Jesus, is the righteousness that manifests itself without fail in love for God and for neighbor, which in turn results in obedience to His commands.

    What is missing in both of your paradigms is the recognition that true righteousness leads to true obedience.

    On the Protestant side, you miss this when you mis-identify Protestant ‘righteousness’ as obedience to the commands, rather than the quality of love that leads to such obedience.

    On the Catholic side, you and Catholics in general miss this when you claim that one can have ‘perfect righteousness’ without having ‘perfect obedience’ as a consequence.

    But if there were people with the quality of perfect righteousness, then there really would be people who could be justified by the Law, for their works of the Law would be proof of their righteous love.

    The list of rules is evidentiary, not essential.

  99. August 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Jack,

    I’m stepping out for the rest of the day and won’t have the time to respond until tomorrow morning. This Gurkha’s not going to smoke itself.

  100. jsm52 said,

    August 13, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Gurkha,eh? Here, it’ll be an Arturo Fuente, the cigar of the early church fathers. You didn’t know that?!

  101. David R. said,

    August 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    You’re saying you’ve discovered the cigar that Christ smoked? ;)

  102. sean said,

    August 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    David R,

    Therefore there is no sampling, much less autonomous conclusions about the value, benefit or appreciation of other cigars apart from the official sanctioning of Rome. So sayeth the sacred tradition as interpreted by the magisterium which may vary as maturation occurs and the clamor from the ‘community of faith’ demands.

  103. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 13, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Re: Sean (#90)

    After understanding how you define justifying faith, I would like to pose the Catholic definitions of faith, hope, and agape and show you why I don’t believe that “belief alone”, without the addition of agape, can ever justify.

    First, let’s define what Catholics mean by the theological virtues:

    * Faith is belief in what is revealed by God. (“Belief alone”, so to speak)

    * Hope is the desire for God’s will.

    * Agape is the will to obey God, even if such obedience is at great sacrifice to oneself. Agape, because it is just the “will” to obey God, is a virtue, not a good work in and of itself. But before you can do anything, you must will to do it. So, since any “good work” which is pleasing to God must obey His will, therefore all such works must be done by virtue of agape. No good work can be done without the virtue of agape.

    James 2 defines “living faith” as the kind of faith which inevitably leads to good works. You admitted that the kind of faith which justifies is the kind of faith which will inevitably lead to good works, although such works are not in any way necessary for justification.

    So, let’s talk about a hypothetical “faith alone” situation – that someone receives, by God’s grace, the virtue of faith, but receives neither hope nor agape at the same time. Someone else in this thread said that the spirit of regeneration is received at the moment of justification, so the situation I’m describing may be a purely hypothetical situation to you (heaven forbid 500 years of schism based on a purely hypothetical situation).

    The problem with saying that this hypothetical gift of faith is a “justifying faith” is that when a person who receives only “belief in what is revealed by God”, even if it is sincere belief, this person could never do a good work. Without the supernatural virtues of Hope and Agape, a person would never desire God’s will and would never will to do a good work. Why not? Because – a person could never obtain the virtues of Hope and Agape unless given those virtues by God. (If you believed a person could obtain the virtue of Agape without being given it by God, then you would be a Pelagian).

    You gave the example of how believing the Communist Manifesto would drive someone to action. But belief in the manifesto would NOT drive someone to action if they didn’t desire the purpose of the manifesto. For instance, a member of the Bourgeois might believe what the manifesto says about the good of society, but have no desire for the good of society, and no desire to change things in accordance with the purpose of the manifesto. Before wanting to act in accordance with the Manifesto, such a “believer” would also need to “desire” the purpose of the Manifesto.

    A similar example is that given by James when he describes the demons who “believe God”. These demons certainly have belief, but what is missing in them is that they have no desire for God’s will, in fact they oppose it! Whether you call this kind of belief “dead faith”, or “insincere” faith, it is in any case a belief in the truths revealed by God, but it is a belief which will never result in any good works because there is no Hope.

    The second problem with this hypothetical “faith alone” situation is that even if a person had Hope, this person would not have the will to obey God without also having the virtue of Agape. An example of this situation is the man who comes to Jesus wanting to know what he must do to obtain eternal life. But when Jesus told him he would need to sell all his possessions to the poor, he went away sad. He desired eternal life more than his possessions, but he didn’t have the will to obey God.

    In summary, if justifying faith is a faith which will inevitably result in good works, then “belief alone” cannot be a justifying faith because belief alone can NEVER result in good works unless it is also accompanied by agape. And since James describes living faith as a faith which will always result in good works, his definition of living faith must include the virtue of agape.

  104. David R. said,

    August 14, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Sean,

    There you go again, demonstrating your hopeless imprisonment within an interpretive paradigm that can only continue in its question-begging failure to apprehend what many daily discover, to wit, that what appears to your fallible investigative faculties as variance among cigars is simply a question of development. I will pray for you.

  105. Bryan Cross said,

    August 14, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Jeff, (re: #98)

    My actual position is that any amount of agape is in fact agape

    If believers have agape within (and not just a part or piece or portion of agape within), and if these believers do not have righteousness within, then it follows that agape is not righteousness. And that is the central feature of the list-paradigm, and therefore places your position squarely within the list-paradigm.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  106. August 14, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Jonathan Brumley, it should be noted that Sean G. holds to a view of saving faith that is quite idiosyncratic amongst reformational Protestants. I will not be drawn in to a debate that sidetracks the discussion here (the matter has been debated PLENTY in the past), but it should be known by those observers who are not familiar with his position, that it is not shared by the vast majority of Protestant commenters here, in fact it is probably shared by no one else here. Those of us who hold to the Westminster Standards as well as those who subscribe the Three Forms of Unity hold that saving faith is not “belief alone” but includes three elements: knowledge (knowing the facts of the Gospel), assent to the truthfulness of the Gospel message, and trust (a volitional embracing of the promises of the Gospel, casting ourselves and our hope on Christ). This distinction is present most clearly in the Heidelberg Catechism.

    It is not as though hope and love need to be added to this sort of saving faith in order for it to be a genuine and therefore justifying faith. Hope and love are the necessary and inevitable fruits of this faith. Saving faith is justifying because of the fact that it looks to Christ and his merits. It is passive, extrospective, and receptive in nature in the act of justification. The fact that saving faith also produces authentic piety and good works in the life of the Christian does not thereby make good works instrumental in our judicial standing before God.

  107. Bob S said,

    August 14, 2012 at 1:54 am

    96 Jack, apply/smear agape liberally on your propositions/questions/computer screen. It should work just fine.

    99. JJS, your position got smoked at the Reformation. Sorry.

    103 Jonathan,
    Please don’t waste our time. In that the clearer passages of Scripture interpret the darker WCF 1:9 – or if you prefer Augustine On Christian Doctrine – the Reformers saw Romans and John as the gateway to understanding the NT. You persist, as a good Romanist/FVers must, to appeal to James, when you get knocked off your tradition game and feel the need to compromise a bit by bringing Scripture as window dressing in order to score some credibility with the prot. fundamentalists. But we are not fundies. Bryan should know that, but there is a lot he should know and doesn’t – or even worse pretends he doesn’t. But we’ve been here before at GB on this. Go read through the previous discussions under Roman Catholicism.

    49 Before we get to you issuing imperatives to me (as I could just as easily do to you, in a futile exchange of imperatives), first it must be established that I’m misrepresenting something.
    105.
    Mr. Cross,
    The central problem with the list/agape paradigm is that it is a philosophical construct of your own makings and bears little resemblance to the fact that you cannot keep the law if you do not love God and you cannot love God if you do not keep his law. Yet you continue to assert your propaganda in order to push your agenda. The question then becomes one, your credibility as an honest inquirer after truth and two, why then did Christ need to die on the cross if all he needed was agape in his heart, even a smidgeon.
    And of course, if just a smidgeon was good enough for Christ, it should be good enough for us. But it wasn’t and it is not. Why is that?
    Maybe because God is holy as well as loving and neither he nor his son could blot out our transgressions with a couple of agape handiwipes lovingly administered or not.

    But neither can Christ be resacrificed in the Roman mass in order to atone for sins you committed after your baptism. One of those sins being your repeated refusal to represent the protestant and reformed position honestly, much more believe in the scriptural gospel instead of prevaricating about it.

    For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness Rom. 4:3-5.

    What is that faith? Is it works/list/law keeping? Love/agape? Or belief in Christ?
    Is Christ’s righteousness then applied to us by faith? Is it imputed or infused? Is it a forensic affair or fuzzy wuzzy? Does Christ’s righteousness consist of love of God, law/list keeping or both? Do our works justify us or prove our justification? Does a good tree bear bad fruit and a bad heart good works? Do good works include praying to Mary, worshiping the host and saying our rosary while burning votive lights before statues of saints and adding our works to Christ’s all sufficient and final work upon the cross?

    You and JJS both bailed over on the Arguments for the Papacy thread after refusing to deal with 2 Tim. 3:15-17 and the sufficiency of Scripture. Here, while JJS came to the rescue in 32 by posting many Scripture verses, (yet without categorically showing that any or all of those verses could be taken for sanctification, instead of justification as he wished,) which is an improvement of sorts, the outstanding issue right now which is imperative for you to deal with, is your refusal to deal with your false dichotomy/dilemma of the list/agape paradigm instead of motoring on with agape about agape.

    But Rome is a vicious, proud and wicked superstition, that abuses Scripture, reason and history pretty much across the board. Thus we have seen here with the CTC appeal to logical fallacies and factual errors in framing their arguments and trading on the ignorance of their audience in asserting the Roman gospel that supersedes Scripture, reason and history.

    Thank you.

  108. Sean Gerety said,

    August 14, 2012 at 9:36 am

    @David (#106). Those of us who hold to the Westminster Standards as well as those who subscribe the Three Forms of Unity hold that saving faith is not “belief alone”

    What is idiosyncratic is for Reformed men to deny justification by belief alone. The Scriptures teach: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” Yet, David Gabois said belief alone is not enough. Weird.

    What’s even more idiosyncratic is to refuse to even acknowledge that “faith” and “belief” are translations of the exact same Greek word pistis. At one time I might attribute it to ignorance. Now, not so much.

    Finally, I do hold to the WCF and it nowhere teaches a three fold definition of saving faith. But your ignorance of what faith is in Scripture is a prime example why Federal Visionists have been able to construct a virtual superhighway to Rome right under your nose.

  109. Sean Gerety said,

    August 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Jonathan (#103)

    A similar example is that given by James when he describes the demons who “believe God”. These demons certainly have belief, but what is missing in them is that they have no desire for God’s will, in fact they oppose it! Whether you call this kind of belief “dead faith”, or “insincere” faith, it is in any case a belief in the truths revealed by God, but it is a belief which will never result in any good works because there is no Hope.

    Read the passage Jonathan. James said that demons believe God is one and tremble. They’re certainly not wrong for believing that God is one, but do you really think anyone is saved by a belief in monotheism? Clearly, many people say they believe in God, even that God is one, yet it doesn’t follow that they’re saved men because of it. To be saved one must believe the Gospel. The good news is that Christ is our merciful and faithful high priest who, by His perfect sacrifice even to the cross, has propitiated the wrath of God due us on account of our sin. Christ alone has saved us from the wrath to come.

    This is why a Roman Catholic, if he believes Rome’s dogma, is not a saved person simply because they do not believe the good news. The gospel is not God will enable you “to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life.” That’s not good news at all. The gospel also isn’t that Christ’s sacrifice “is more pleasing to the Father than our sins are displeasing.” Again, where’s the good news in that much less any biblical proof?

    The second problem with this hypothetical “faith alone” situation is that even if a person had Hope, this person would not have the will to obey God without also having the virtue of Agape.

    If you would like to discuss the rich young ruler we can, but Jesus is not teaching salvation by some combination of belief+hope+agape (or more simply belief plus works). IMO you’ve failed to understand Jesus just as you’ve failed to understand James and wrongly assume that his use of the word to justify is being used in the sense of being justified before God.

    In summary, if justifying faith is a faith which will inevitably result in good works, then “belief alone” cannot be a justifying faith because belief alone can NEVER result in good works unless it is also accompanied by agape. And since James describes living faith as a faith which will always result in good works, his definition of living faith must include the virtue of agape.

    The problem is your argument doesn’t follow and James is not discussing how someone might be justified before God, but rather how a person claiming to be a believer might justify their claim. I would refer you to Lane’s remarks re James above.

  110. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Re: Sean (#109)

    The good news is that Christ is our merciful and faithful high priest who, by His perfect sacrifice even to the cross, has propitiated the wrath of God due us on account of our sin. Christ alone has saved us from the wrath to come.

    God will enable you “to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life.”

    The gospel is both Part 1 and Part 2.

    If God didn’t forgive us of our sin, then we would deserve eternal punishment. That’s why Christ’s perfect sacrifice is absolutely necessary to atone for our sins and make possible our salvation.

    However, if after forgiving their sins, God left his children dead in their sin, then that’s not very good news either. Would it be loving for God to allow his children to continue in sin for all eternity? Or would it better for Him to create in them a new life, free from sin?

    The good news is He gave His children the Holy Spirit, which proceeds out of the perfect love between the Father and Son (demonstrated by Christ on the cross). It’s this Holy Spirit which gives life, makes possible our sanctification, and creates in us a pure heart. And Part 2 is also necessary for their salvation, because scripture says “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God”.

    That’s why I can profess that Christ alone saved us from the wrath to come and gained for us eternal life, because our Lord’s perfect sacrifice and perfect love for the Father made it possible for God to:

    1. forgive our sins, and
    2. free us from sin

    Does it glorify God to make his children into the image of His Son? Does this renewal somehow detract from His glory? I don’t think so. I think, in fact, it a testimony to how loving a Father which He is.

    What do you think?

  111. Sean Gerety said,

    August 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    The gospel is both Part 1 and Part 2.

    Part 1 and Part 2 are mutually exclusive. If Jesus Christ fulfilled the law and gained eternal life for us, then saying that God will enable us “to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life” is not just redundant, it is an admission that Christ’s work on our behalf was not good enough. Part 2 is a denial of Christ and His finished work.

    If God didn’t forgive us of our sin, then we would deserve eternal punishment. That’s why Christ’s perfect sacrifice is absolutely necessary to atone for our sins and make possible our salvation.

    That’s just it, Christ didn’t make salvation possible. As Paul said:

    “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

    Your theory contradicts Paul.

    However, if after forgiving their sins, God left his children dead in their sin, then that’s not very good news either. Would it be loving for God to allow his children to continue in sin for all eternity? Or would it better for Him to create in them a new life, free from sin?

    Are you free from sin?

  112. jsm52 said,

    August 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    John B,

    1. forgive our sins, and
    2. free us from sin

    This Christ did once for all in his death and resurrection.

    Romans 6:10-11, For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    In Christ we died to sin and were made alive to God, and therefore, as Paul goes on to say, “sin shall no longer have dominion over you” (6:14), i.e. sin’s dominion or rule has been broken, ended for all that believe in Christ. This is part of the gospel, that which was accomplished by Jesus on the cross for his people.

    For all those who put their trust in Christ for the above, there is then the outworking of that glorious good news of forgiveness of sin and freedom from sin’s domain (Col. 1:13 – who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love) in the present work of the Holy Spirit in believers lives, i.e. our sanctification.

    Rome errs in conflating sanctification in the believer with the good news of Jesus’ work of reconciliation in his death and resurrection.

  113. August 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Zrim,

    But in your explanation of what the function of the cross is, you seem to be putting a familial and relational emphasis on matters (satisfactory), as opposed to a forensic and legal emphasis (penal substitution).

    Yes, as I explained yesterday I think the forensic elements of God’s work of redemption need to be understood within the broader context of the divine Family. That which connects Adam, Israel, Jesus, and us is that we are all called sons of God, and the entire redemptive plan consists not just of God forgiving sinners by the non-imputation of their sin, but of God raising up a worldwide family consisting of people from every tribe and nation.

    So when it comes to the cross, I see it as a sacrifice offered to God which fulfilled the telos for which man was originally created, thereby pleasing the Father. But I’m getting the feeling I’m not really addressing your question, so feel free to re-ask it.

    Even so, I don’t see what would make a Protestant uncomfortable affirming what John says, namely that God is our Father, we are his children, and that we will be like him when he appears. My Protestant read is that as adopted children we will be glorified upon his appearance, not deified. So why would any Protestant be “seriously uncomfortable with affirming that we will see Jesus as he is”? Unless you mean we will know him as he knows us, in which case, that would be disconcerting since it seems closer to deifying creatures than glorifying them.

    My point was just that there is such a suspicion in much of Reformed theology about any notion of so-called “fusion” between the human and divine, as well as over the idea that we will see God as he is. Everything is always so filtered through the Creator-creature distinction to the point where any intersect between the two is merely covenantal and stipulative. As if the incarnation never happened.

    But that was an off-handed remark that I will happily withdraw as it would sidetrack us from the topic at hand.

  114. jsm52 said,

    August 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    amended last sentence from 112-

    Rome errs in conflating sanctification in the believer with the good news of Jesus’ completed work of reconciliation and deliverance from sin for believers through his death and resurrection.

  115. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Bryan (#105): If believers have agape within (and not just a part or piece or portion of agape within), and if these believers do not have righteousness within, then it follows that agape is not righteousness. And that is the central feature of the list-paradigm…

    Two major problems.

    (1) You now appear to be arguing that a portion of X is not actually X.

    I drank several hundred milliliters of milk this morning, and I can assure you that it was milk.

    We’ve already established from 2 Peter 1 that agape is a quality that can increase. It follows therefore that one can have a portion of agape.

    We could pile on Scriptures if we wanted: “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.””

    Do you really believe that one cannot have a greater or lesser quantity of love?

    (2) Related to this, you overlook the fact that the argument here is not ‘whether agape or not?’, but ‘how much agape is necessary?’

    You wrote the two paradigms to turn on the first question, but nobody argues the first question. The only thing argued is the second question. You want to conflate them as if they were equivalent.

    They are not.

  116. Bryan Cross said,

    August 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Jeff (re: #115),

    None of that refutes my argument in #105.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  117. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Bryan (#116),

    Actually, it does.

    You define “The list-keeping paradigm” in this way:

    L: In the list paradigm, perfect law-keeping is conceived as keeping a list of God given precepts.

    I’ve already established that this is not the Protestant position. Rather, the Protestant position is that (P) righteousness is agape, and perfect agape is required in order to be seen as righteous in God’s eyes.

    These two positions are clearly not the same.

    In #105, however, you argue that If believers have agape within (and not just a part or piece or portion of agape within), and if these believers do not have righteousness within, then it follows that agape is not righteousness. And that is the central feature of the list-paradigm …

    You have redefined the ‘list-paradigm’ in a way other than ‘keeping a list of God-given precepts.’

    So logically speaking, one of two things is going on.

    (1) You’re moving the goal posts, or

    (2) You believe that the Protestant position is logically equivalent to the ‘list-paradigm.’

    And (2) appears to be the case. You seem to believe the Protestant position is equivalent to your ‘list-keeping paradigm.’ On what ground? On the ground that agape is indivisible — that one either has agape or one doesn’t, and a portion of agape is not agape.

    This ground, however, is refuted in #115.

    Your argument is therefore refuted.

    Unless you can show the logical equivalence between P and L, you have no case.

  118. Bryan Cross said,

    August 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Jeff, (re: #117)

    You have redefined the ‘list-paradigm’ in a way other than ‘keeping a list of God-given precepts.’

    Explaining is not redefining. To believe that persons who have agape are not righteous because they don’t perfectly keep the law, is to define righteousness ultimately in terms of keeping the list. And that conception of righteousness is the central feature of the list-paradigm.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  119. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Bryan (#118): To believe that persons who have agape are not righteous because they don’t perfectly keep the law, is to define righteousness ultimately in terms of keeping the list.

    That is not what Protestants believe, as explained before.

    They are not righteous because they do not have enough love within them to prevent them from sinning.

    The obedience is evidentiary, not essential. Being precedes doing.

    You’ve simply misunderstood the position.

  120. jsm52 said,

    August 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Bryan,

    Can a person who is righteous sin?

  121. Bryan Cross said,

    August 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Jeff, (re: #119),

    They are not righteous because they do not have enough love within them to prevent them from sinning.

    Where “sin” is defined in terms of failure to keep the list. So you are defining righteousness by “enough love,” and then defining “enough love” by “prevent them from sinning,” and then defining “prevent them from sinning” in terms of list keeping. Hence, even though it is hidden behind layers of semantics, this position still ultimately defines righteousness by way of list-keeping, and hence falls into the list-paradigm.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  122. jsm52 said,

    August 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Bryan,

    Can a person, like yourself, who has agape sin? If so, how is that sin manifested?

  123. johnbugay said,

    August 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    jsm52 (122):

    Note how Bryan defines sin, and what it’s consequence is:

    What’s tripping you up here is thinking that venial sins are violations of God’s law. So you’re not yet seeing the basis for the difference between mortal and venial sins. Venial sins are not violations of the law; they are not violations of love. They are deficiencies or defects in carrying out the love that is the spirit and principle of the law. So to view venial sins as merely more rule violations is to approach the whole question through the list-paradigm, rather than through the agape paradigm, which gets ‘behind’ the list to the spirit or principle (i.e. agape) of the law, thus allowing for a distinction between actions that violate this spirit, and those that are still ordered by this principle but fall short of its perfect expression.

  124. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Bryan (#121): ‘Sin’ is from the heart. It is a failure to love, which is evidenced in breaking the Law.

    Come now, we’ve been many rounds. You failed to distinguish between being and doing, and your argument is unsound. Retract it, reformulate it. There is a real difference between Catholics and Protestants on ‘righteousness’, but it’s not ‘list-keeping.’

    Get some perspective. You argue that Catholics and not Protestants define righteousness in terms of love. The WSC defines righteousness in terms of love. This ought to be enough.

  125. johnbugay said,

    August 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    In Comment 13, John Bugay asked:

    Bryan #6: Why do you need to invent “paradigms” that no one has ever heard of, the criteria for which will take forever to be decided upon?

  126. jsm52 said,

    August 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    John B. – 123,

    So, then if I commit the actual deed of adultery, that is called a “real” sin, I mean mortal sin. But if my eyes happen to fall upon an attractive woman and a lustful thought just happens to pop into my mind (not that this has ever, ever happened) that is kind of a mulligan-sin?

    So for the Roman Catholic, if agape is infused righteousness and if agape makes a person righteous, can they commit a mortal sin (let alone any sin)? If so how? They either are or aren’t righteous by the infusion of agape. As James says: “Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?” Defining it away doesn’t change the reality. The word sophistry or double-talk comes to mind…

    Is there a ‘Cliff Notes’ booklet available on all this?

  127. johnbugay said,

    August 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    JSM 126, you just have to follow Bryan’s links around. He explains everything, quite thoroughly.

    ;-)

  128. jsm52 said,

    August 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    John B.,

    I’m tempted to keep asking my “innocent” questions, as our back and forth reminds me of a comedy routine. Kind of like “Who’s on first?”

    Maybe Bryan will chime in to explain the path out of the above dilemma.

    cheers…

  129. Zrim said,

    August 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    …as I explained yesterday I think the forensic elements of God’s work of redemption need to be understood within the broader context of the divine Family. That which connects Adam, Israel, Jesus, and us is that we are all called sons of God, and the entire redemptive plan consists not just of God forgiving sinners by the non-imputation of their sin, but of God raising up a worldwide family consisting of people from every tribe and nation.

    JJS, I don’t see how the forensic emphasis of Protestantism would have any trouble at all the idea of “raising up of a worldwide family” as you’ve described it. It seems to me the point is simply one of priority: sinners are made members of the family by first being declared righteous. There seems to be good reason the biblical analogy is familial. I don’t get to become bone of my wife’s bone and flesh of her flesh until I am first objectively declared her husband (and vice versa). And once that forensic aspect takes place, we are subjectively united and have become family in ways that were impossible before that declaration. In short, the forensic emphasis does for us spiritually what our wedding ceremony did for us physically. But the familial emphasis seems like the spiritual version of something like common law marriage (hey, we’ve never gotten married in the conventional sense, but we’ve lived like it for a long time so we’re basically married. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather my daughters go the forensic route someday).

    Re the Reformed aversion to the notion of human-divine fusion, I’m not sure it’s too far a distance between Catholicism’s blurring of the lines and praying to dead saints. Still, you seem to think Protestantism’s priority of the forensic diminishes or even precludes the relational. This escapes me entirely. Again, if a forensic declaration of marriage puts into motion and sustains the most intimate of created human relationships known to man, so the Protestant emphasis on the forensic does the same for us spiritually.

  130. David Gadbois said,

    August 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Jeff, I got curious about Bryan’s, uh, creative construction of Rome’s vs. the Protestant’s view of sin, so I perused the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We would, in fact, agree on every word under the section “The Definition of Sin”

    1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”121 [emphasis mine - DG]

    1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”122 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125

    1851 It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate’s cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas’ betrayal – so bitter to Jesus, Peter’s denial and the disciples’ flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world,126 the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly.

  131. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”

    Just wanted to repeat that.

  132. David Gadbois said,

    August 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Zrim, I’ll second what you said and add that *adoption* is part of our ordo salutis. We are justified so that we can become adopted sons and daughters. So the familial works hand in hand with the forensic in Reformed theology.

    The reason Romanists want to emphasize the familial is because they want to construct a “do-able” law so that they can mix grace with works righteousness. Just lower the bar and we can partly earn our own salvation. God wouldn’t really require sinless perfection because, gosh, human fathers don’t expect that of their children. See how that works?

  133. dghart said,

    August 14, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Zrim and Jason, not to mention that family is hardly a non-forensic category. I mean, with the Roman Catholic Church’s (welcome) opposition to gay marriage, it sure seems that family is all about law.

  134. August 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Darryl,

    Why be coy about mentioining that a family is “hardly non-forensic”? I could have sworn I have bent over backwards insisting that forensic categories are biblical and important. But then, I’d hate for what I actually say to get in the way of your prior-held narrative….

  135. August 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    David,

    The reason Romanists want to emphasize the familial is because they want to construct a “do-able” law so that they can mix grace with works righteousness. Just lower the bar and we can partly earn our own salvation. God wouldn’t really require sinless perfection because, gosh, human fathers don’t expect that of their children. See how that works?

    Lovely. I’m hoping a moderator of this site will warn you about treating your guests this way. Oh wait, you are one.

    Last I checked, about 100 comments ago I provided a lengthy attempt to show from Scripture that the agape paradigm is found explicitly in the words of every principal NT writer. But you’re right, better to just ignore that and attribute to me a sinful motive for thinking the way I do.

    So I’m pretty much going to bow out of this discussion until someone addresses my request for a similar biblical sketch of the imputation paradigm. If your aim was to clear the room of everyone except those you agree with, well done.

    Enjoy the echo-chamber.

  136. dgwired said,

    August 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Jason, here is how you bent over to say that forensic is important (57):

    “. . . the Catholic understanding of the gospel is more familial than forensic. In other words, it’s more about the family room than the court room.

    “Of course, there is law-court imagery, but the overarching concern is always the divine Family. I think we’d agree that adoption is both legal and relational. I think Paul’s emphasis here is on the familial. For example, although I was told there’d be no math, I would guess that for every one usage of a legal image (justified rather than condemned, etc.) there are ten that stress the organic kinship bond that we share with Jesus: that we are one with Christ, united with him, members of his Body, in him, etc. I say this not to deny the forensic, but to place it in what I think is the Bible’s larger context, which the work of God in fathering a universal, worldwide family.

    “After all, what is God by his very nature? Not a judge, not a creator, but a Father. And what do fathers do? They beget sons and daughters, reproducing their own image in their offspring.”

    10 to 1 doesn’t count importance in my book. A student who gets one out of 11 on a quiz is not doing well.

    But your math gets ahead of you when you say that God is by his “very” nature Father. Is that all the persons or just the father? What about saying God is essentially son or spirit? And when you mention spirit you may recall the Shorter Catechism on the attributes of God which don’t mention father as an attribute but do mention holiness and righteousness.

    But what kind of father do you think God is? One slip in the garden and he casts his children out of paradise. Sorry but the forensic makes a whole lot more sense of Christ’s passion and God’s love than does your view of God as the ur-breeder. A son without law is a bastard. A father who doesn’t set rules and punish his children is an absentee parent.

  137. Jed Paschall said,

    August 15, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Enjoy the echo-chamber.

    Is CTC anything less?

  138. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 15, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Sean,

    In your quote from Paul, he lists two means by which Christ saved us:

    He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    Part 1: by the washing of regeneration (a washing which forgave our sins)
    Part 2: by the renewing by the Holy Spirit (a Spirit which poured out agape into our hearts and thereby freed us from sin)

    Both of these are the means by which he saved us.

    Are you free from sin?

    Agape frees us from mortal sin.

    But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

    Since, by God’s grace, I have agape in my will (mind,soul,heart), I am free from mortal sin. However, I still commit venial sins, because I don’t perfectly express agape in the flesh.

  139. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 15, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Jason,

    Here’s a stab at tracing imputation extra nos through the Scripture. This attempt is made with the awareness that the ‘problem passages’ cannot all be addressed in this space.

    The broad themes are these: (1) The Scripture paints a picture everywhere of our being unable to keep the Law, so that (2) being justified before God is a matter of being forgiven of our transgressions.

    This being forgiven of our transgressions is accomplished by God not counting our sins against us, paving the way to receiving us as sons.

    The mechanism by which this happens is faith simpliciter, which receives Christ’s righteousness as clean clothing to replace the clothing of our sins, which is my understanding of imputation.

    In the OT, we see these themes developed, first in the Law itself. Reading the detailed code in the Law should impress upon anyone how easy it was to transgress the Law. Joshua stresses the inability of the Israelites to keep the Law (Josh 24.19), and the history of Israel bears witness to his words.

    For this reason, the sacrificial system bore witness to God’s justification by forgiveness of sins. The prophets bore witness to a new covenant in which God removed the sins of Israelites by placing them on the shoulders of His suffering servant. Zechariah 3 in particular bore witness to a righteousness from outside of the man that covers him and replaces the guilt of his sin. This passage in particular unites the forensic and covenantal aspects of justification.

    Coming forward to the New Testament, we find Jesus speaking to an audience who believed that while God had graciously restored them to the land, law-keeping was necessary to keep them there. For this reason, they wrongly thought of themselves as already sons of the kingdom, as already justified.

    The Synoptic Gospels further our two themes in these ways.

    (1) Jesus makes clear that justification consists of forgiveness of sins and not law-keeping.

    The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] 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.” — Luke 18.11 – 14.

    (2) The Law is more demanding than we can possibly fulfill.

    This is how I read the Beatitudes, and this is possibly the first point of divergence with Catholic thought. For Jesus says,

    “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

    and

    “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    and again

    “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    I take this as Jesus’ exposition of the Law, both in its 1st Use and its 3rd Use. Given the audience, it makes more sense that Jesus’ words are to be understood as Paul wrote: “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

    But interestingly, Jesus in the Synoptics speaks very little about the mechanism of justification (whether Catholic or Protestant!). That is left instead to John.

    For John, justification comes by faith in the Son of God (John 1.12, 3.16 – 18 and 36, 5.24, ad infinitum), who is the paschal Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, who is the bread of heaven, whose Spirit is living water.

    In Paul, the question of forgiveness of sins is given an explicit answer: Our sins are forgiven on the basis of a righteousness that is not our own, but is had by being ‘in Christ’, by faith (Phil 3). We are justified by a faith apart from works (Eph 2.8, 9). We are justified by God reckoning us as righteous apart from works (Rom 4). And so on.

    And here, I would think that Catholics and Protestants could agree: That our forgiveness of sins is granted to us because the merits of Christ are reckoned to us, and our sins are not reckoned to us.

    That’s the core of imputation extra nos: A righteousness that is not my own pays for my sins.

    Now, I understand that there’s more. How do we go from being forgiven to being seen as positively righteous in God’s sight? Etc.

    But my point is this, that our forgiveness does not come as a quid-pro-quo: God puts righteousness into us, and then on that basis forgives our sins. Such a concept is actually not ever taught in OT or NT. Rather, our forgiveness comes because we are found in Christ with a righteousness not our own. It is ‘us in Christ’ and not ‘Christ in us’, that is the basis for our acceptance as God’s children. It is Jesus life and death, His merits, and not His indwelling righteousness, that secures our forgiveness.

    Aside: The problem here, of course, is that Catholicism and Protestantism have been around long enough that each system has an ‘answer’ for every verse. So I note above that you have a different understanding of Phil 3 than I’ve articulated, that you limit Paul’s ‘not having a righteousness of my own’ to refer to righteousness based on law-keeping (list-keeping?).

    Peter likewise affirms that we are saved by faith.

    So does James — but he insists that justifying faith is not alone, but is accompanied by works.

    For my part, I see imputation as a necessary consequence of being justified in Christ by faith. For that reason, I ‘find’ imputation in passages that Catholics do not. Arguing that point is a whole other something, but I hope the sketch here satisfies your request.

  140. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 15, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Jonathan (#138): You write,

    Part 1: by the washing of regeneration (a washing which forgave our sins)
    Part 2: by the renewing by the Holy Spirit (a Spirit which poured out agape into our hearts and thereby freed us from sin)

    A Protestant looks at that and says, Yes, there’s Part 1, which is justification; and Part 2, which is sanctification, and these are both distinct parts of our salvation.

  141. Sean Gerety said,

    August 15, 2012 at 9:35 am

    It’s ironic that Jason, a man who once pretended to be a Christian pastor and even a compatriot in the fight to rid the church of frauds just like the one he turned out to be, who even publicly solicited money to support him in this phony fight, is now whining about how he’s being treated.

  142. Sean Patrick said,

    August 15, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Sean # 141.

    Your avatar picture is quite a fitting match to your online persona. Fear. Anger. Sweat. Red Faced. Snarl. Nervous eyes. Inflamed nostrils. Well done.

  143. Sean Gerety said,

    August 15, 2012 at 9:51 am

    “I still commit venial sins,”

    I bet you do. Interesting, although not surprising given Bryan’s fabricated “paradigms,” the Roman state/church provides no list of either venial or mortal sins. Do you think lusting after a woman is venial or mortal? Is it only venial if it doesn’t result in masturbation which is mortal (ccc 2352)? What does Jesus say (Matthew 5:28)?

    Anyway, all the best availing yourself of plenty of that “agape” in your quest to fulfill the law and gain eternal life.

  144. Sean Gerety said,

    August 15, 2012 at 9:52 am

    @Sean Patrick. So is yours. A green square.

  145. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 15, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Jason,

    Just wanted to say something quickly in addition to what Jeff writes in #139. There does not seem to me to be anything to debate in your discussions of the law being fulfilled in love for Christ and the familial aspects of the gospel up until you speak of “Spirit-wrought love for Christ as contributing to justification.” So much of what you and Bryan wrote about the agape paradigm just does not get to this core issue which is why I told Bryan that his attempt to define what he sees as the respective paradigms does not work.

    But certainly the belief that Spirit wrought love and works contribute to our justification would be something that strikes at the center of the difference between us. My observation is that Catholics don’t believe that faith + Spirit wrought love/works = justification because they have derived it from the Bible. Roman Catholics will continue to believe in this system regardless of what specific biblical texts can be brought to bear on the matter. Different paradigms arise between us partly because of different philosophies of revelation.

  146. dghart said,

    August 15, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Jeff, echo effect: good work, especially on the sacrificial system and the lamb. It is hard to see how the agape paradigm in anyway squares with all that blood, guts, and smoke in the OT, not to mention the cross.

  147. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 15, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Re: Jeff (#140) – thanks – perhaps I confused Sean’s objection to Part 2 as an insistence that sanctification is not a part of how we are saved.

  148. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Re: Sean (#143) – there are lists, but it doesn’t boil down to a list because it’s not a list paradigm. Mortal sin rejects God and kills agape.
    Venial sin does not.

    I’m pretty sure you know that Lust is one of the “7 deadly sins”, so it’s definitely on a list. But grave sins only leads to death if committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent. Habit or weakness in the will is not deliberate consent.

    Paul describes this same struggle in Romans 7 and 8.

  149. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    This is not a question for disputation, but for understanding the system. In Catholic theology, does sin ‘do something’ to love, or is sin itself a lack or deficiency of love?

  150. Sean Gerety said,

    August 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    “there are lists, but it doesn’t boil down to a list because it’s not a list paradigm.”

    Oh, OK. So there are lists even though they’re not part of a papal “list paradigm” (funny, I can’t find any list of venial and mortal sins anywhere). So masturbation AND lust are both mortal sins, is that correct?

    Also, since you’re operating from the “agape paradigm” are you telling me that you live lust free? That’s very impressive. Keep up the good work. You’re going to need it.

    I guess I’m just trying to figure out what kind of curve you think God will judge your agape lacking venial sins verses your hell deserving mortal ones and how you can tell the difference? I would have thought this would be all worked out by now as so much hangs in the balance. I understand your general aversion to lists, but whenever I’ve asked Roman prelates and their imprisoned parishioners for a list of any sort in regard to which is which I just get a bunch of vagaries like “white lies are venial whereas murder is mortal.” Yet, Jesus in Matthew 5 says even if one is angry with his brother without a just cause or calls him an idiot or even think he is a fool has already committed murder. So is thinking your brother is a fool a venial or a mortal sin?

  151. Bob S said,

    August 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    In the spirit of some of the great hypocrites of our day, Martin Luther King, if not Joe Biden, a little papal plagiarism seemed like just the ticket. Particularly since our interlocutor of #150 with the tortured protestant/lutheran angst (Joshua Lim?) gravatar persists in quoting Scripture.

    And mind you, not a more obscure passage, which is what the Romanists seem to inconsistently do when hard pressed and they think we have forgotten the crown jewel in the Roman apologetic: Sola Ecclesia, if not Sola Roma.

    I bring it up in response to Jonathan’s comment because applied to the venial sin question, using the “solo scriptura” paradigm to evaluate the venial sin question presupposes the falsehood of the Roman Catholic paradigm. No real evaluation of two paradigms is taking place when one of the two paradigms is being presupposed in the criteria used to compare the two. I would agree, of course, that using the Roman Catholic paradigm to evaluate the Roman Catholic paradigm would also be circular reasoning. But, so far as I know, none of the Roman Catholic persons commenting here is suggesting such a thing.

    Of course, any resemblance to #469 on another thread is purely superficial, if not imaginary. Likewise that “All You Need is Agape” was really written by John and Paul.

  152. jsm52 said,

    August 15, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Jeff (139),

    Good stuff in your response to Jason. Your words –

    Rather, our forgiveness comes because we are found in Christ with a righteousness not our own. It is ‘us in Christ’ and not ‘Christ in us’, that is the basis for our acceptance as God’s children”

    – really get to the difference between Rome and Reformed: that the righteousness that comes from God is not an infused-righteousness to be found within the believer, as if it were his own. Rather it is the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer, when by grace he is “found in Him, not having [his] own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith…” (Phil. 3:9).

    Thanks for your many helpful comments here and at Old Life.

  153. Jed Paschall said,

    August 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Jason, (Re: #32 & 83)

    I think your request is very reasonable, but I was wondering as I was plowing through the issues you raised how ultimately useful it would be since you are 1) asking for a Reformed response to your questions on the basis of Scripture, and 2) seem to deny that anyone outside of Rome can come up with an interpretation of the text that is authoritative, since we are fraught with an inescapable hermenutical individualism. But, in hopes that you might still yet reconsider your move to Rome (which I am not sure that I can be of any help in, given your inability to be convinced by the very best of our scholars and even past mentors), and because the question itself presents a good personal opportunity to grapple with scripture, I’ll answer, hopefully in a way that compliments the work that Jeff Cagle has already done. As I understand, your request is as follows (BTW: I apologize beforehand for the length of the comment, the issues you bring up demand lengthy answers):

    I would really appreciate it if someone here would provide a sketch of the imputation paradigm similar to the one I provided for the agape paradigm in comment #32. In order to do this:

    1. The sketch should draw from Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and James.

    2. The sketch should demonstrate that imputation is a thread that weaves through the NT such that it is worthy of also being a broader motif that unites and explains the various data.

    3. The sketch should show that each of the NT writers taught not just that God “reckons” sinners righteousness (since we all agree on that point), but that God actually imputes an alien righteousness to sinners from without. In other words, just as mine tried to show something you all reject (namely, that there is a causal connection between our Spirit-wrought obedience and our gaining our eternal reward), so your sketch should include biblical evidence that you think, on the face of it, I would be uncomfortable with.

    I had intimated in my earlier comment to you that your list, in order to be more thorough should also consider instances from the Old Testament, wherein the Reformed view of imputation should also be defended. I will argue (relying heavily on GK Beale) that justification, canonically speaking is fundamentally eschatological in nature, and I think that what your account is sorely lacking in is the distinction between the canonical interplay between inaugurated justification (where the Reformed doctrine of JBFA is located) and consummated justificated (where JBFA is vindicated when God demonstrates the genuineness of faith with the final judgement on the basis of works, and the believer’s [imperfect but genuine] obedience ). Or, briefly, you seem to be confusing the biblical notion that works and obedience attest to genuine faith rather that contribute to (in a salvific manner) to justifying faith that in the end will merit final salvation. With that here goes:

    I. Eschatological Justification and Righteousness in Genesis’ Abraham Narratives

    In Genesis 15, we see the first instance of the imputation of righteousness to Abraham, and though the immediate context does not prove that it is specifically “Christ’s alien righteousness”, the broader intra-canonical context hopefully should. In 15:6 God reckons/credits (Heb. hsb) Abraham as righteous (Heb. zdk), on the basis of his belief/trust (Heb. amn). Specifically of interest here is God’s crediting, or reckoning righteousness to Abraham. NIDOTTE says of the verb hashab (hsb), “In any case hsb has two semantic elements: (a) count, compute, calculate, calculate, value, credit – the only vb. in Heb. that deals with mathematic computations beyond numbering (Seybold, 234), and, (b) plan, think out, devise, intent, scheme.” It would appear that the semantic range of hashab in 15:6 points to the former usage. Now to the contested question of who is the proper subject of righteousness (i.e who’s righteousness is credited, God’s or Abraham’s personal righteousness). Paul clearly interprets this as God’s righteousness – in Romans “the righteousness of God” alone is salvific, and comes from faith (Rom 3:21-22) as opposed to the works of the Law. Paul then goes on in Rom. 4 to prove this from the example from Abraham, who was justified, declared righteous apart from the works of the law (4:1-5). So, if we accept Calvin’s axiom that “Scripture interprets Scripture”, we must concede that the righteousness reckoned to Abraham was an alien righteousness, belonging to God, not himself, that places him into a right relationship with God. This essentially sets the pattern for the forensic aspect of inagurated justification, which is developed by Paul and expounded in the Protestant doctrine of sola fide. Here the faith (itself a gift of grace) of the believer in the promises of God (for Abraham the “seed”, for the New Covenant believer in the finished work of Christ), secures for him God’s imputed righteousness, which becomes the basis for right relationship to God in the inaugurated eschatological age, properly the inter-advental age.

    However, even as early on as Genesis 22, we see how inextricably good works are related to faith in the whole episode of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. It is crucially important from the get-go to recognize that God’s command to Abraham is a TEST. I place this in caps to emphasize the critical theological role of testing in the OT, especially the verb used in 22:1, nasah (nsh). Israel is forbidden to put God to the nasah, yet God nasah, or tests his saints not in order to highlight their failures, but to prove the quality of their faith, or vindicates the true quality of their faith and righteousness. A good word study of nsh in the OT will easily bear this out, and I can e-mail you one if you would like. Anyhow, Abraham, in spite of his chronic failures to be truthful and courageous in the preceding chapters, which only serve to confirm that this OT saint is fallen and not without warts, passes the ultimate test of his faith, ultimately vindicating the righteousness that God credited to him in chapter 15. In God’s testing of Abraham, the quality of his faith is proven with attesting obedience:

    And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:15-18)

    So the faith in the promises of God (leading to the eschatological “seed” [cf. Gen 3] of ultimate deliverance) by which Abraham was credited righteous was ultimately vindicated as authentic by his attesting obedience. Which is precisely what I think James 2 is speaking to in its reference to Gen. 22. So, what we can surmise is that Abraham’s belief in Gen. 15 was no mere intellectual assent to a set of propositions, it was a living faith that trusted in God, through all his failures and lies in the intervening chapters, even up to the point of surrendering his own son to obey God. So we can say that Abraham’s righteousness was credited by faith, and this faith’s genuineness was proven through God’s continued protection of Abraham through his failures, and ultimately vindicated in his obedience to God when faced with a defining test. Had Abraham not obeyed, it may have very well been the case that his faith was not genuine, however, when God tests nasah the faithful, it is to vindicate not only the quality of their faith, but his faithfulness, and the fact that his righteousness is operative in a positive manner in his saints even prior to final judgement. This final testing, or evaluative judgement that Abraham underwent (the last of Abrahams major ordeals in the Genesis narrative) are instructive of the final judgement where the quality of all of God’s saints faith will not only be tested, but proven and vindicated to the cosmos against all prior accusations. So, this speaks to the consummated eschatological justification of the believer, whose genuine faith is attested to and vindicated by their faithful, even if imperfect works at the end of the age.

    *** In writing this, I can already see that the reply will be unreadable due to length. Instead of breaking everything down at once, I will finish with one or two of the following sub-topics a day until I am able to complete the argument.

    II. Eschatological Justification and Righteousness in the Psalms

    III. Justification and Righteousness in Jesus’ Teaching

    IV. Justification and Righteousness in Paul’s Epistles

    V. Justification and Righteousness in the non-Pauline Epistles

    VI. Justification and Righteousness in John’s Apocalypse

    BTW, if you are interested in interacting with the issues I raise, please consult Beale’s NT Theology, chapter 15. Conceptually, I think it addresses every major issue you raise in comments 32 & 83, and in a manner far more competent than I am able to. I am not trying to parrot Beale here, but conceptually speaking, I think he has adequately answered many of the hermenutical issues you raise, yet within a resolutely Reformed framework.

  154. Jed Paschall said,

    August 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    The last paragraph was not meant to be in bold, my bad.

  155. Brad B said,

    August 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Hi Jonathan, @ #147 I think you mean something slightly different than Jeff when you say

    “perhaps I confused Sean’s objection to Part 2 as an insistence that sanctification is not a part of how we are saved.”

    The thing that strikes me is I think Jeff would uphold your statement in regards to difinitive sanctification which comes with being justified, but distance himself from your use [progressive sanctification] if I’m reading you rightly. I think the earlier excange with Jeff/Bryan and the cup ‘o agape analogy might have an application to shed light here. Maybe?

  156. Brad B said,

    August 15, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Thanks, Jed. Looking forward to your forthcoming/followup comments on justification and righteousness also.

  157. August 16, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Jeff,

    Thanks for the sketch, I’ll offer some thoughts.

    The broad themes are these: (1) The Scripture paints a picture everywhere of our being unable to keep the Law, so that (2) being justified before God is a matter of being forgiven of our transgressions.

    Couple thoughts. No disagreement that no one can by his own strength obey the Mosaic law, but (1) was the Mosaic law ever intended to be even a hypothetical means to gaining eternal life, or was it intended to govern Israel’s typological tenure in the land? And (2) How do you understand the statements in both testaments that indicate that people did in fact obey the law, lived righteously, were blameless, etc.? Especially the ones that attribute their righteousness unequivocally to their own works?

    The mechanism by which this happens is faith simpliciter, which receives Christ’s righteousness as clean clothing to replace the clothing of our sins, which is my understanding of imputation.

    Often the metaphor of clothing happens right alongside the metaphor of inner renewal (“purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean, create in me a clean heart,” etc.). If God’s declarations are performative speech-acts, then why can’t his saying “You are clean” be accompanied by the inner accomplishment of that declaration? Paul uses God’s “Let there be light” as analogous to the gospel act of re-creation.

    The prophets bore witness to a new covenant in which God removed the sins of Israelites by placing them on the shoulders of His suffering servant. Zechariah 3 in particular bore witness to a righteousness from outside of the man that covers him and replaces the guilt of his sin. This passage in particular unites the forensic and covenantal aspects of justification.

    You’re leaving out the most characteristic aspect of the NC, namely, that God would write his law on our hearts and minds, accomplishing by his Spirit what the Mosaic law could not do. I think Paul’s summary of this idea is found where he says, “There is therefore now no condemnation… for what the law could not do, God did… that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk after the Spirit.” There’s no argument that Jesus bore our iniquities and suffered in our stead, but I don’t see the promise of the NC pointing to a righteousness that is solely outside us. Rather, it comes from Christ, through the sacraments, and permeates our very being. I know you agree and would label this sanctification, but I don’t see the Bible making the distinction that sharply. Rom. 6:7 says that we are “justified from sin” when the power of sin is broken in our lives. Why use dikaioo as a synonym for sanctification when his entire gospel hinges on properly distinguishing the two?

    Jesus makes clear that justification consists of forgiveness of sins and not law-keeping.
    The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] 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.” — Luke 18.11 – 14.

    No argument here, other than to wonder whether the text gives us any reason to think that this was the publican’s first and once-for-all justification.

    The Law is more demanding than we can possibly fulfill. This is how I read the Beatitudes, and this is possibly the first point of divergence with Catholic thought. For Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” and “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” and again “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    I take this as Jesus’ exposition of the Law, both in its 1st Use and its 3rd Use. Given the audience, it makes more sense that Jesus’ words are to be understood as Paul wrote: “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

    You say you see Jesus’ words as being both 1st and 3rd use, but then you quote from Paul a 1st use text only. I see no reason to understand Jesus as using the law in a pedagogical sense at all here. If he did, then the sermon is all bad news and no good. Rather, I see his “blessed are” statements as intending to announce the very righteousness the gospel makes possible, one that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees (not because it’s just MORE of the same kind of letter-of-the-law righteousness that God demands, but a different quality of righteousness altogether: of the Spirit and not the letter).

    Plus, the “being perfect” text is not a stumbling block if indeed have the love of God in our hearts is itself having righteousness within.

    But interestingly, Jesus in the Synoptics speaks very little about the mechanism of justification (whether Catholic or Protestant!). That is left instead to John. For John, justification comes by faith in the Son of God (John 1.12, 3.16 – 18 and 36, 5.24, ad infinitum), who is the paschal Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, who is the bread of heaven, whose Spirit is living water.

    I disagree. In Matthew Jesus says, “Of every idle word a man speaks he will give an account on the day of judgment, for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” Note that the context is sinful humans on the last day, that the term Jesus uses is “justified,” and the criterion is not faith, but our words.

    And your quotations from John are very select. You forgot the one where Jesus says, “The hour is coming when all in their graves will hear the voice of the Son of God and come forth. Those who have done good will rise to live, those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” Why, if the criterion for final salvation (not just rewards) is faith in Jesus’ work imputed to us, does Jesus seemingly rob himself of glory by not just giving the impression, but explicitly saying, the very opposite?

    So the Catholic gospel is makes plenty of room for the passages you cited, but does the Protestant one make room for the ones I cite? If so, how?

    In Paul, the question of forgiveness of sins is given an explicit answer: Our sins are forgiven on the basis of a righteousness that is not our own, but is had by being ‘in Christ’, by faith (Phil 3). We are justified by a faith apart from works (Eph 2.8, 9). We are justified by God reckoning us as righteous apart from works (Rom 4). And so on.

    And here, I would think that Catholics and Protestants could agree: That our forgiveness of sins is granted to us because the merits of Christ are reckoned to us, and our sins are not reckoned to us.
    That’s the core of imputation extra nos: A righteousness that is not my own pays for my sins.
    Now, I understand that there’s more. How do we go from being forgiven to being seen as positively righteous in God’s sight? Etc.

    But my point is this, that our forgiveness does not come as a quid-pro-quo: God puts righteousness into us, and then on that basis forgives our sins. Such a concept is actually not ever taught in OT or NT. Rather, our forgiveness comes because we are found in Christ with a righteousness not our own. It is ‘us in Christ’ and not ‘Christ in us’, that is the basis for our acceptance as God’s children. It is Jesus life and death, His merits, and not His indwelling righteousness, that secures our forgiveness.

    We agree on some things and disagree on others. We agree that we are saved by a righteousness based on Jesus’ work and that does not originate in us, and we agree that our own works cannot get God’s attention or indebt him to us in any way.

    But where we disagree is where you say that all of this is “the core of imputation extra nos.” None of what you say up to that point necessitates the conclusion of the imputation of alien righteousness. In fact, in all the verses you allude to there is reason to believe that the not-of-works righteousness we receive is precisely something that doesn’t remain outside of us or find its effectiveness in that way, but is something that is placed within us (and I don’t agree with your division between “us in Christ” and “Christ is us,” but that may be for another topic).

    I note above that you have a different understanding of Phil 3 than I’ve articulated, that you limit Paul’s ‘not having a righteousness of my own’ to refer to righteousness based on law-keeping (list-keeping?).

    Let me ask you this: The servant who took his master’s five talents and turned them into ten, was he not admitted into the kingdom for that very reason? The master says, “Well done, good and faith servant. You have been faithful in a few things, not enter into the joy of your Lord” (and remember: the servant who buried his master’s talents got thrown into hell, so this text is not about the rewards saved people get, but about being finally saved or condemned).

    My question, then, is: “Was that servant’s righteousness ‘a righteousness of his own’?” Of course not! He had no talents until his master gave him some. But was his being admitted into heaven (rather than condemned to hell) done for a reason irrespective of what he himself did? No, quite the opposite. Like the sheep on Jesus’ right who “did these things” the judge says, “Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom, FOR I was hungry and you fed me….”

    Peter likewise affirms that we are saved by faith.

    This is cheating, I asked for an argument that says more than I already affirm. Plus, Peter says that the way we receive eternal life is by adding to our faith a bunch of other things, especially love.

    So does James — but he insists that justifying faith is not alone, but is accompanied by works.

    James doesn’t say that justifying faith is necessarily accompanied by works, for that would be like saying that a body is necessarily accompanied by a soul. But this messes up his entire point. Rather, he says that if a body is not accompanied by a soul, it may still be a body, but it is a dead one. Likewise, faith alone cannot justify unless it is accompanied by works of sacrifice and mercy. It may be true faith, even to the point of trembling like demons, but if it is faith alone, it is by James’ definition dead. In other words, it’s not a certain quality of faith James has in mind (saving faith versus the faith of demons), but rather faith alone for justification on the one hand, and faith accompanied by works for justification on the other.

    I hope the sketch here satisfies your request.

    Yeah, I really appreciate your taking the time to do it. My suggestion, now that we’ve both written these honkin comments, would be that we try to focus on one or two particulars as we go forward.

    That said, though, I would appreciate it if someone would interact with my sketch in #32.

  158. August 16, 2012 at 1:01 am

    Andrew,

    Just wanted to say something quickly in addition to what Jeff writes in #139. There does not seem to me to be anything to debate in your discussions of the law being fulfilled in love for Christ and the familial aspects of the gospel up until you speak of “Spirit-wrought love for Christ as contributing to justification.” So much of what you and Bryan wrote about the agape paradigm just does not get to this core issue which is why I told Bryan that his attempt to define what he sees as the respective paradigms does not work.

    But Andrew, every single text I cited in #32 from Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John draw the direct connection between what you agree is necessary (our Spirit-wrought works of love) and what you don’t think is causally related to it (our gaining the eternal kingdom).

    So I agree that nothing I am arguing for is controversial until you get to that last link in the chain, but I can’t understand why you think nothing I wrote addresses that point. The texts connect those dots, and if you don’t think those dots should be connected, you need to show me how I am connecting them incorrectly.

    My observation is that Catholics don’t believe that faith + Spirit wrought love/works = justification because they have derived it from the Bible. Roman Catholics will continue to believe in this system regardless of what specific biblical texts can be brought to bear on the matter.

    Bro, this is just really, really not cool of you to say. I had to read this a few times to make sure I wasn’t misreading you, because you’re usually a pretty fair and even-handed fellow.

    I provide a sketch of passages from all over the NT making the case that “faith + Spirit wrought love/works = justification,” and you turn around with an “observation” that basically says I (and all Catholics in general) am lying, and that I actually believe what I argue for in spite of “specific biblical texts” that apparently disprove my position, despite the fact that, unlike me, you don’t bother to cite any.

  159. Jed Paschall said,

    August 16, 2012 at 3:35 am

    Jason, (Continued from 153)

    II. Eschatological Justification and Righteousness in the Psalms

    Picking up on the patterns set forth with Abraham, the Psalms themselves are crucial in setting forth a two-fold structure of Justification and the means by which Righteousness is obtained. The role of eschatology and judgement in the Psalms cannot be overstated, “The introductory function of Pss. 1-2 indicates that the the theme of eschatological kingship throughout all creation and judgement is going to be the heartbeat of the whole Psalter, and that the individual’s behavior is inextricably linked to this cosmic theme.” (Beale, p. 77). Throughout the Psalter the Temple, as the footstool of Yahweh’s throne, serves not only as a locus of worship for the covenant community, but also as the seat of judgement, where God judges the righteous and wicked. Here petitioners flee, typically those who are poor and without legal recourse, but also those afflicted with the guilt of their own sin, and await God’s verdict on their behalf, whether to assign guilt and mete out punishment to those who afflict the needy, or to offer the pronouncement of forgiveness to the guilty sinner.

    A. The Contours of Inagurated-Eschatological Justification in the Psalms

    The first pattern I will look at is what will, in the NT become more fully developed as inaugurated-eschatological justification, wherein the afflicted are declared to be in right relation to Yahweh and offered the benevolent protection of his presence, and the sinner is forgiven and restored/kept in right relation to his God. H.J. Krauss has done masterful work both in his Theology of the Psalms and in his 2 volume Commentary on the Psalms in elucidating this theological theme:

    A detailed investigation of the terms shows that the “poor” person in the persecuted and disenfranchised one who seeks refuge against his powerful enemies (cf. 10.4) with Yahweh and entrusts his lost cause to God as the righteous Judge. The “poor” person therefore is he who is dependent on God’s legal aid: Pss. 9:18; 10:2; 8; 9; 10; 14; 18:27; 35:10; 74:19. The terms listed above almost universally have the same meaning: “helpless”, “miserable”, “oppressed”, “lowly”, “weak”, “poor”. In their need the “poor” take their refuge in the temple area and plead with Yahweh for his intervention and defeat of the enemies…

    The real depth of enmity lies in this, that the righteous (zdk) is going to be separated from Yahweh by these assertions, accusations, and judgements of the enemies…they often still attempt to bring up new schemes and slander if the verdict of God has turned out to be in favor of the oppressed person (Ps. 4). But the one who laments and pleads with Yahweh for his rights, he declares that he is innocent (Ps. 7) and he takes refuge in the saving verdict of God. Beyond that, we may not disregard the asylum function of the sanctuary. The helpless victim flees to the temple area and waits for Yahweh’s verdict concerning the justice or injustice of those who are lying in wait for him. (Comm. on the Psalms vol. 1 pp. 93,98).

    So, essentially, the pattern of justification (or vindication, which Beale uses interchangeably) plays out as follows:

    1. The afflicted/poor petitioner presents God with his dilemma (often in prayer formula), usually persecution from a wicked enemy, often in the temple, or directed towards it, to intervene and render judgement on his behalf.

    2. The verdict is pronounced (or implied in the context of the psalm) from the temple by Yahweh. While the sitz im leben isn’t entirely known, it is believed that the verdict is mediated by a priest, who relay’s Yahweh’s kingly judgment. And the innocent, always in the context of these formulary psalms (4,5,7,9/10, 11, 18, et. al.) obtains Yahweh’s favorable verdict, wherein they are declared “not guilty” of false accusation, or the enemy is declared “guilty” of unduly oppressing the righteous.

    3. The sentence resulting from the verdict is then executed. Here the afflicted may be strengthened in battle, or Yahweh may directly intervene to crush the wicked. Conversely, the afflicted may experience a reversal of his prior lowly position, and have health or covenant blessings of abundance in the land restored to him.

    4. The afflicted render praise and thanksgiving to Yahweh for his saving judgement.

    A good example of this process can be seen in Samuel’s birth narrative (1 Sam. 1-2:11), where Hannah is afflicted by barrenness and the mockery of Peninniah, Elkanah’s other wife. She seeks refuge in the temple, makes petition to God for a son whom she will pledge to God if he would remove her shame. God answers through the priest Eli, and promises her a son. For answering her petition and rendering a favorable judgment, Hannah offers thanksgiving to God in a song, praising God, for among other things vindicating her affliction of both barrenness, and shameful treatment (context implies Peninniah as her oppressor).

    With this dominant pattern in mind, the Psalms also provide this pattern for those whose affliction is their own sin. Typically here the sinner makes lament to God where he confesses sin and complains of the afflictions that flow from his guilt. The sinner requests God’s mercy and forgiveness, and restored relationship to God and (sometimes) the covenant community. It is God’s declarative act of forgiveness, where righteousness in imputed, rather than guilt, that brings restoration to the sinner. Theologically speaking the process in not altogether dissimilar to Horton’s notion of justification being a locutionary act, where the word of forgiveness is imparted to the one under the threat of sin and separation from God. While several Psalms fit this paradigm well, including Pss. 6, 25, 32, and 51, I will refer to Psalm 130 to demonstrate the point.

    In vv. 1-2 of Ps. 130 the psalmist cries out to God for mercy “from the depths.” The depths are a place of absolute distance and separation from God, where the existential weight of sin has removed the psalmist from the presence of God. Jonah uses similar terminology to describe his alienation from God and his temple while in the belly of the great fish. God’s Temple, in spiritual-spatial reckoning is on the chief mountain, set above all the earth, and the psalmist is in the depths, in spiritual-spatial terms, the place furthest from God, nearer to the grave than to his presence. In vv. 3-4, in fear of God and with a likely sense of the crushing seriousness of his sin doesn’t even venture to directly plea for forgiveness, rather he indirectly seeks it by acknowledging that it comes from Yahweh alone. This forgivenness is meant to produce fear, which in the OT conceptual world was vital to and supremely indicative of a right relationship with God. By seeking to fear Yahweh, the sinner is seeking forgiveness and restoration to God.

    By the time we get to vv. 5-6, we see the percolation of confidence on part of the psalmist as he awaits Yahweh’s intervening judgement. The psalmist’s confidence is placed in Yahweh’s word for which he waits – “in his word I hope.” Krauss notes:

    What is the psalmist waiting for? He is waiting for the word. [The word] dbr is here the oracle of salvation (cf. J Begrich “Das Priesterliche Heilsorakel” ZAW 52 [1934] 81-92). The proclamation of salvation authoritatively transmitted through the mouth of the priest would bring the [forgiveness] slh’h to him who has hope. (Comm. Ps. 130, p.467) *English translation of Hebrew terms indicated in [brackets]

    The psalmist is as hopeful and certain of this word, this pronouncement of salvation and redemption (vv. 7-8) which is bound up in Yahweh’s purchase of his people and cleansing from unrighteousness, as the watchmen are of the certainty that night will pass into dawn. To the psalmist, once wracked with the knowledge of guilt, is as certain of God’s forgiveness as he is the sun will rise in the morning.

    Now, there is a whole set of theological assumptions built into the Israelite cult about how forgivenness is obtained and the sinner is made righteous, but I simply lack the time or space to get into this now. However, the cult instituted in the Law essentially provides for the sinners guilt to be applied to the guilt offering, restoring the sinful person (and community) to God. This forgiveness is appropriated by faith, and for the members of the True Israel, or Israel of God (Waltke’s designation), they share in the Abrahamic faith, wherein they too are credited (Heb. hashab) righteousness, which is properly “the righteousness of God” described by Paul. In this manner the contours of an inagurated eschatological justification are present in the Psalms, where the question of guilt and its remedy, and how one is made right with God (by being declared righteous in the salvation oracle, or word of justification) is outlined in the existential experience of the OT covenant community of saints. These protological themes of inagurated justification, or how one’s right relationship to God is initiated and entered into become the structural foundation of much of how NT authors will represent forensic justification as it is played out in the divine court under the Judgeship of God. Of course I am being brief in this point, maybe too brief, but I seriously doubt that Rome’s notion of infusion accounts best for the OT textual data in the Psalms and elsewhere.

    B. The Contours of Consummated-Eschatological Justification in the Psalms

    Forthcoming, I need to get some sleep.

  160. davejes1979 said,

    August 16, 2012 at 8:13 am

    It should be pointed out that Roman Catholic theology has no problem with a conception of imputation of merit to the Christian for salvation, the problem is that this merit comes from the Treasury of Merit, merit from Mary, merit from the saints. So, you know, other than the stark blasphemy part, we aren’t THAT far apart on the issue.

  161. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Re: Sean (#150)

    I understand your critique to be two points (not that these are the only two, but these are the two most recently mentioned):
    1. Roman Catholic moral teaching, especially about what constitutes mortal sin, is unclear.
    2. As such, Catholics can have no assurance of salvation because of the unclear moral teaching.

    For a sin to be mortal, the sinner has to deliberately commit a grave sin which the sinner knows is a grave violation of God’s law. There are no accidental mortal sins. And ignorance is not a mortal sin. Accidents and ignorance are compatible with love, whereas deliberate disobedience is not.

    Whether you’re Protestant or Catholic, assurance is based on faith. As a Catholic, I place my trust in Him, both in the mercy He offered in his Son, and in his gift of the Spirit, with which He promises to sanctify us. He will be faithful as He promised.

    Maybe you want to ask whether at some point in the future, will I get tired of Him? Will I find some worldly distraction to desire more than my God? Would I choose to walk away from his love? Do I have assurance I won’t do this? My answer is, if I do this, it will be my own damn fault. If I decide to go to eternity that way, then He’ll show me the horrible nothingness of that empty distraction forever and ever as I burn in the fire of His love, the love which I chose to reject.

    But He will be faithful, no matter what. Even if I walked away in this life, He would always be calling me to come back. All I would have to do is take His hand, and He would lift me up.

    I can say this because He has done it before. I once loved Him, but I left Him to pursue idle fantasies, pointless fun, and lust. What I desired more than anything else was pornography. And I could never get enough. I was without doubt a slave to sin for years and years. But He loved me all along – He showed me His love through the consequences. After my wife left, He made sure I had nothing. I felt death in everything, except when I looked in His direction. He led me back, all along guiding me by showing me the emptiness in everything else. Eventually, I tried to quit pornography – but I was still tempted – constantly, incessantly. I couldn’t stop, because I was powerless. Even after I remarried, I continued to fall all the time. I almost lost my new wife to the same sin. Until, through a friend, He told me two things –

    1. Lust leads only to more lust. Not only pornography, but also masturbation leads to death.
    2. Through His gift of agape, He gives the will to do what we can’t do without agape.

    So with nowhere else to turn, I took Him by the hand as my Father, and asked for the mercy and grace of His Son. I decided to trust him, and He was faithful. He freed me from sin. He saved me by His grace, through the clear moral teaching of His Church and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, by which He gave me the will to love Him.

    Sean, I am sadly not surprised to hear that you could get no clear moral teaching from the priests with whom you talked. But if you are in doubt about whether some action is sin, then my advice is – don’t do it. Whether you’re Catholic or Presbyterian, or Baptist, no good will come of sin.

  162. August 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    [...] this comment, Jason began a biblical exposition of his understanding of salvation. I want to interact with this [...]

  163. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Jason (#157):

    Thanks for the thoughts. I would like to focus on just three out of many, at least at this time. I recognize this leaves many pieces on the cutting-room floor.

    A

    You write,

    (1) was the Mosaic law ever intended to be even a hypothetical means to gaining eternal life, or was it intended to govern Israel’s typological tenure in the land?

    Here, I think Kline overstates things a bit.

    In many ways, the Law most certainly governed Israel’s typological tenure in the land.

    But also, it was an enfleshing of what it means to love God and neighbor. To speak anachronistically, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” It’s not just the second person of the Trinity who thinks this way!

    And so we say that Jesus was righteous and merited salvation for us, why? Because He loved the Father, and therefore obeyed the Father, and therefore kept His Father’s commandments, even unto death on the cross.

    So: Was the Mosaic Law a means of gaining eternal life? Not as a list of rules. Righteousness, the true love of God and man, was and is the only way to gain eternal life. For what is eternal life? John 17 — it is knowing God. The Mosaic Law is then added “because of transgressions” to reveal our failures to love, whether in 1st Use or 3rd Use senses. Root, fruit.

    So for that reason, Jesus’ Law-keeping obedience, the external reflection of His internal love for the Father, was meritorious on our behalf; not because of the Law itself, but because what keeping the Law without fault indicated.

    So it is important on my side of the discussion that we understand two things. First, that the Mosaic Law served more than one function. Yes, it was a 2nd Use rule for Israel and the locus of the Deuteronomic curses and blessings.

    But even more, it was added because of transgressions to expose and reveal sin, BECAUSE the Law is synonymous with loving God and neighbor.

    Second, as you can see, I will argue strenuously that there is not a hair’s-breadth of difference between genuine love and genuine keeping of the Law. So that if we are to be justified by love, then we are going to have to be justified by keeping the Law.

    Fair warning: this will be a major objection to Catholic soteriology. I cannot at this time admit a difference between “being justified by love” and “being justified by works of the law.”

    B

    JJS: And (2) How do you understand the statements in both testaments that indicate that people did in fact obey the law, lived righteously, were blameless, etc.? Especially the ones that attribute their righteousness unequivocally to their own works?

    Well, and how would you understand them? For if we take these statements to mean “I am without sin; I am righteous in God’s eyes on account of my works”, then Pelagius was actually right, and Paul and David were wrong to say that ““None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”

    OR, if we understand them to mean “righteous on the relative scale of men’s behavior”, then things make a lot more sense.

    David is the best test case for this, for he speaks both of his own righteousness and his own sin also.

    On the one hand, he says this:

    The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
    For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
    and have not wickedly departed from my God.
    For all his rules were before me,
    and his statutes I did not put away from me.
    I was blameless before him,
    and I kept myself from my guilt.
    So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
    — Ps. 18.20 – 24.

    On the other, he says,

    Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
    Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
    For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
    For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
    I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
    I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”,
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
    — Ps 32.1 – 5

    It’s pretty clear that there is no room here to see David as never having committed sin. So what was he?

    I would argue that David was justified before God because God did not count his iniquities against him. Call it a legal fiction if you will, but David says it.

    But he was justified before his enemies because he was righteous on a relative, human scale. To be specific, his good works were accepted by God despite their imperfections. His good works, imperfect as they were, were proof that he belonged to God and could therefore claim vindication before God’s enemies.

    C

    JJS: Plus, the “being perfect” text is not a stumbling block if indeed hav[ing] the love of God in our hearts is itself having righteousness within.

    Here, the Catholic scheme begins to dissolve into incoherence for me, and requires a whole theoretical framework that cannot claim Scriptural support.

    I can see — if I squint a bit — that Scripture can be used to support the idea that we are justified by works done in love.

    But if so, then it is clear that only perfect love will justify. As James points out, failure to keep the law at one point (a symptom of imperfect love) makes one accountable to the whole law.

    It seems to me that James is simply echoing Jesus here: Be perfect.

    That is, after all, the plain meaning of the words.

    OK, but now the Catholic comes along and says, No no no … we are righteous because God puts His love in our hearts. Love is righteousness; we have love; so we are righteous.

    So … we don’t sin, right? The Catholic says, No no no … we can still sin venially and still be righteous in God’s sight because venial sins don’t destroy love.

    So … we are simultaneously saints and sinners? And the Catholic chokes in his beer.

    Here’s the test: I cannot find any place in Scripture where the commission of a sin is considered anything other than ‘unrighteousness.’

    The theoretical framework that says that we can be actually, internally righteous having God’s perfect love, AND can sin, is in my view a greater legal fiction, than saying that we are justified by being in Christ just like we are condemned by being in Adam.

    Federal headship can at least claim Scriptural parallel. Being righteous-but-not-really-righteous-but-really-righteous is ad hoc and unsupported.

  164. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 16, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Your question about the talents is a good one.

    Here’s the problem. There are two ways that one could read the parable, and the parables that surround it (sheep and goats, virgins).

    (1) The master is granting them entrance into heaven on the grounds of their works.

    (2) The master is granting them entrance into heaven on grounds other than their works, but the works are the external evidence of those grounds.

    Here’s the problem: Both Catholic and Protestant must choose (2), or be Pelagian!

    For (1) is nothing more than works-righteousness.

    The Protestant will say that the faithful servants exhibited the fruits of true faith; the Catholic will say that the faithful servant had faith working through love. But both would say that they were counted righteous because of something invisible (imputed righteousness or infused agape).

    So I don’t see how Jesus’ parables help the Catholic case, unless the Catholic wants to portray his own position as Pelagianism in disguise. Me genoito!

  165. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    (I should say that I do regard the Catholic position as a kind of alia-semi-Pelagianism, but I’m trying to argue from the ‘agape’ paradigm that Bryan put forward as the Catholic position)

  166. August 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    This’ll have to be quick, sorry.

    The Catholic view is that initial justification is given in baptism, and that the baptized person needs to increase in that free gift through living faith-induced, Spirit-wrought works of mercy and love.

    And that, it seems, is a perfect picture of the servant in the parable. It’s not (1) since he was given talents graciously. But it’s also not (2) since the master explicitly says otherwise by tying his entrance into the kingdom with his faithfulness with the free gifts he received.

  167. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    JJS: OK, but.

    Suppose Larry, Curly, and Moe Catholic are given the initial grace through baptism. Then they fail to increase that grace at all throughout their lifetimes, which are 1 second, 1 year, and 50 years respectively.

    No mortal sins are committed.

    At the end of their lives, who gets to heaven (eventually)?

    For this would be the situation you are positing wrt the man with five talents, right?

    But also, notice what you did. (1) and (2) are comprehensive, mutually exclusive options: either the ground is the works, or the ground is something else. Your reply is “none of the above” … Isn’t that a sign of a problem?

  168. Brad B said,

    August 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    So, Jason, what is it about the ones who:

    “increase in that free gift through living faith-induced, Spirit-wrought works of mercy and love.”

    that you can say has separated them from those who either do not increase in the free gift or those who never even have attempt to, or even have the free gift to increase upon? Again, simply, what is it about them?

  169. Brad B said,

    August 16, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Hi Jeff, I think I was looking to spotlight what you did in 167, but wanted to say that I’m also looking to see an answer to your #149

    “This is not a question for disputation, but for understanding the system. In Catholic theology, does sin ‘do something’ to love, or is sin itself a lack or deficiency of love?”

    I think it is an important question that needs to be answered–though it seems to be a rock/hard spot to the proposed agape system.

  170. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Re: Brad B (#169) and Jeff (#149)

    “This is not a question for disputation, but for understanding the system. In Catholic theology, does sin ‘do something’ to love, or is sin itself a lack or deficiency of love?”

    Here’s the answer:

    CCC 1850: Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it.

    CCC 1855: Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.
    Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

  171. August 16, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Jeff,

    Suppose Larry, Curly, and Moe Catholic are given the initial grace through baptism. Then they fail to increase that grace at all throughout their lifetimes, which are 1 second, 1 year, and 50 years respectively.

    No mortal sins are committed.

    At the end of their lives, who gets to heaven (eventually)?

    For this would be the situation you are positing wrt the man with five talents, right?

    Well, all of us should be loath to guess about who goes to heaven, shouldn’t we? But I would venture to say that a baby who dies one second after his baptism, or a child who dies a year afterwards, falls outside the intended scope of this parable, as I’d hope you’d agree.

    About the 50 year-old, who knows? But as with your other examples, I am not sure he fits the parable either. The servant who buried his talent considered his master to be a hard and unreasonable man, and his master described him as wicked and slothful.

    But this is all sort of beside the point.

    But also, notice what you did. (1) and (2) are comprehensive, mutually exclusive options: either the ground is the works, or the ground is something else. Your reply is “none of the above” … Isn’t that a sign of a problem?

    I think the fact that you see your two choices as capturing all the possible options just shows that you’re not yet grasping my position (and I don’t say that to be a jerk, I’m just saying).

    I am arguing that the parable of the talents teaches us (among other things) that we enter heaven because we are given a free gift of grace that we are called to cultivate rather than wickedly ignore, and that our “growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ” (as Paul calls it), by God’s grace, contributes to our final salvation because the Father mercifully unites us with his risen Son and enables us to eat his flesh and drink his blood, bear his cross, and participate in his work.

  172. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    No jerkiness inferred. We’re both just trying to clarify.

    I am arguing that the parable of the talents teaches us (among other things) that we enter heaven because we are given a free gift of grace that we are called to cultivate rather than wickedly ignore, and that our “growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ” (as Paul calls it), by God’s grace, contributes to our final salvation because the Father mercifully unites us with his risen Son and enables us to eat his flesh and drink his blood, bear his cross, and participate in his work.

    As written, I don’t have a single issue with that from a Reformed perspective.

    * Given a free gift of grace — imputed righteousness of Christ, leading to adoption as sons
    * That we are called to cultivate rather than wickedly ignore — yes, absolutely
    * These things contribute to our final salvation — in terms of rewards for our works
    * Because the Father unites us to the Son — at our moment of faith.
    * Enabling us to eat, drink, bear, participate — all of this by faith.

    So again, how does the parable help to falsify the Protestant picture of salvation?

    The difficulty here is going to be to articulate why works (done in love) create merit for the believer while still making the ground of the believer’s acceptance be the merits of Christ infused as agape.

    The latter is some kind of state of being (which I don’t understand very well — it seems like reification at this moment); the former is, well, list-keeping.

    What has been put forward for us is that God accepts the believer because He creates something in the believer that He then sees as ‘righteousness.’ That’s the putative ground.

    How then can our cultivation, or lack thereof, be the ground of our acceptance?

    Are we righteous in God’s sight because of what we are or because of what we do?

    So back to Moe Catholic. You were reluctant to judge Moe, which is laudable. Your ground for doing so is that you don’t know Moe’s heart. Was he wicked and slothful? You don’t know (though I did mention that no mortal sins, including sloth, were committed :-) ).

    So doesn’t that mean that the ground of the servant’s condemnation was his being, his heart, rather than his actions?

    You take two guys, the wicked servant and Moe, and we can’t tell from their actions whether or not Moe is justified — it all depends on his heart.

    If so, then doesn’t that undercut the idea of merit-by-love-created-works and reduce it to merit-by-love?

  173. August 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Jeff,

    So again, how does the parable help to falsify the Protestant picture of salvation?

    Because you are importing into your formulation something I denied already, namely, that the issue in the parable is merely the rewards we get on the last day. My argument is that since the servant who buried his talent is cast into hell, the issue is not rewards among the saved, but entering the kingdom at all.

    The difficulty here is going to be to articulate why works (done in love) create merit for the believer while still making the ground of the believer’s acceptance be the merits of Christ infused as agape.

    Again, not to be a douche, but the reason you don’t get this is because you are not sufficiently grasping the issue of union with Christ and participation in his work. For my part, once I got a better grasp of all that “I in them, them in me, you in us” stuff in John 17, the easier it was to see that the believer’s performing meritorious works is no more a threat to Jesus than was Simon’s carrying his cross, or Paul’s desire to “save” some Jews.

    What has been put forward for us is that God accepts the believer because He creates something in the believer that He then sees as ‘righteousness.’ That’s the putative ground. How then can our cultivation, or lack thereof, be the ground of our acceptance? Are we righteous in God’s sight because of what we are or because of what we do?

    As a father, I accept my son because he is my son, and the more he pleases me by exhibiting in himself my good traits, the more proud of him I am.

    God is our Father. He accepts us in Christ our elder Brother, and Jesus tells us that if we love him we must keep his commands, and if we do, the Father will love us and further manifest himself to us. His acceptance of us is not initially grounded in anything we do, but he does grow more pleased with us as we obey him, for he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

    You take two guys, the wicked servant and Moe, and we can’t tell from their actions whether or not Moe is justified — it all depends on his heart. If so, then doesn’t that undercut the idea of merit-by-love-created-works and reduce it to merit-by-love?

    I don’t think I understand you. But according to James, we are justified (in the sense of growing in justification as Abraham did when he bound Isaac) when we couple faith with works of mercy and sacrifice. That may miss your point, in which case you’ll just have to rephrase it for me.

  174. Brad B said,

    August 17, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Oh hi Jonathan, I read your catechism answers, wanted to respond initially though I only have a minute and with words not my own

    “Rom 8:33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
    Rom 8:34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was [fn]raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
    Rom 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
    Rom 8:36 Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
    Rom 8:37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
    Rom 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
    Rom 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  175. Bob S said,

    August 17, 2012 at 12:34 am

    I don’t think I understand you. But according to James, we are justified (in the sense of growing in justification as Abraham did when he bound Isaac) when we couple faith with works of mercy and sacrifice. That may miss your point, in which case you’ll just have to rephrase it for me.

    Lane already dealt with this.
    IOW why are we going to the parables and James and ignoring Romans.
    WCF 1:9 in that the clearer passages illuminate the more obscure.

    Unless we are interested in throwing dust in someone’s eyes.
    Then the rabbit trails and diversions serve a purpose and an ulterior motive.
    Just saying, that’s what it looks like.

    What it really is, perhaps remains to be seen, though unfortunately things don’t look too good, based on the previous record.

    Hopefully I will be proved wrong.
    So far, we haven’t been.

  176. Sean Gerety said,

    August 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Jonathan, you wrote:

    Whether you’re Protestant or Catholic, assurance is based on faith. As a Catholic, I place my trust in Him, both in the mercy He offered in his Son, and in his gift of the Spirit, with which He promises to sanctify us. He will be faithful as He promised.

    Where we disagree is whether sanctification plays any role whatsoever in justification. You say yes, I say no. You admit to committing “venial sins” but believe that they will not exclude you from heaven. I say with Scripture that there are no “venial sins” and that you will be commended on account of your sin regardless of what you call them or how you choose to categorize or rationalize them.

    Maybe you want to ask whether at some point in the future, will I get tired of Him?

    I wouldn’t ask that at all. From your testimony here it’s clear that you don’t know Him at all, so how could you ever tire of someone you don’t know? Anyone who thinks their imagined “agape” good works, their own sanctity, will help them obtain eternal life has already denied Him. The Christ of Scripture lived and died to secure eternal life for those given to Him by the Father; the elect. Jesus said; “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” The Christ of Rome is a decidedly different Christ from the one found in Scripture and turns out to be no Christ at all. Yours is a Christ that, at best, has only made salvation possible. To be saved you must do your part. Even worse, and by your own testimony, you believe this paltry “Christ” you profess today is a Christ you can lose tomorrow. Which is not surprising as the false Christ of Rome is impotent and unable to actually save anyone. His cross-work didn’t secure eternal life for anyone. Whereas the Christ of Scripture accomplished it all for those whom He died.

    Sean, I am sadly not surprised to hear that you could get no clear moral teaching from the priests with whom you talked. But if you are in doubt about whether some action is sin, then my advice is – don’t do it. Whether you’re Catholic or Presbyterian, or Baptist, no good will come of sin.

    FWIW those I’ve talked to on the subject were no less vague than you are when you write:

    For a sin to be mortal, the sinner has to deliberately commit a grave sin which the sinner knows is a grave violation of God’s law. There are no accidental mortal sins. And ignorance is not a mortal sin. Accidents and ignorance are compatible with love, whereas deliberate disobedience is not.

    There are no accidental sins and there are no sins that will be overlooked. All sin is IN-compatible with the righteousness and holiness of God.

    “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

    Justification is by faith alone.

  177. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Re: Sean (#176)

    I get your point that you do not believe I am a sincere believer and that you believe my testimony is a lie.

    But let me ask you this, if I “were” a sincere believer, could I THEN trust in God’s promise to sanctify his adopted children by the renewal of the Holy Spirit?

  178. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Jason,

    And I trust that you likewise understand that I’m not trying to be jerk by drilling down. I am asking you the same kinds of questions I would ask myself in trying to put a position together: “What about this?”

    You ask,

    So again, how does the parable help to falsify the Protestant picture of salvation?

    Because you are importing into your formulation something I denied already, namely, that the issue in the parable is merely the rewards we get on the last day. My argument is that since the servant who buried his talent is cast into hell, the issue is not rewards among the saved, but entering the kingdom at all.

    I think you misunderstood me. It seems natural to me to understand Jesus as rewarding the first two faithful servants, and casting the third into hell. Why? Well, because the first two produced fruit (would you agree these are good works of some sort?); but the third had no faith to begin with.

    In other words, there are two, not strictly parallel, things going on here.

    So again, I don’t see how the Protestant picture is falsified here.

    …the reason you don’t get this is because you are not sufficiently grasping the issue of union with Christ and participation in his work.

    OK, lay it on me. :-)

    Here’s one of my basic issues. The Scripture presents a kingdom of darkness and a kingdom of the Son, with no Middle Earth in between. People belong to one kingdom or another.

    So in thinking about justification, my basic question is “At what point does one pass out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light?”

    John’s response is that one does this at the moment of faith, and those who “depart from us were never of us.”

    Can you agree so far?

  179. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Relatedly, but in response to the parable, you write:

    God is our Father. He accepts us in Christ our elder Brother, and Jesus tells us that if we love him we must keep his commands, and if we do, the Father will love us and further manifest himself to us. His acceptance of us is not initially grounded in anything we do, but he does grow more pleased with us as we obey him, for he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

    OK. But notice that this is not your interpretation of the parable!

    For in your understanding of the parable, we have two who are accepted into the kingdom because of their works-done-through-love. The third, meanwhile, clearly fails to have agape from the beginning …

  180. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Finally, what is your understanding of justification prior to the New Covenant?

    For example, how is it that Abraham was justified by faith-through-love-works, if infused love was unavailable prior to the New Covenant?

    Or conversely, if it *was* available, then what was inadequate about the Old Covenant? After all, it was the *Old Covenant* that taught that righteousness was loving God and neighbor!

  181. Sean Gerety said,

    August 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I get your point that you do not believe I am a sincere believer and that you believe my testimony is a lie.

    Jonathan, I don’t think you got my point at all as I don’t doubt your sincerity in the slightest. I believe you are a sincere believer in the Roman system and the so-called “Magisterium’s” conception of Christ and their scheme of justification through faith plus works, or, if you prefer, justification through sanctification.

    Also, I don’t believe your testimony is a lie, just that your faith is not in the Christ of Scripture but rather it’s in Rome’s emasculated and anemic counterfeit who has, in essence, atoned for the sins of no one.

    But let me ask you this, if I “were” a sincere believer, could I THEN trust in God’s promise to sanctify his adopted children by the renewal of the Holy Spirit?

    Again, a believer in what and in whom? We both use the name Jesus Christ but we each have a completely different understanding of who He is and what He did. I mean, we couldn’t be further apart. I argue that whomever He justifies, those He sanctifies. Whereas you, Bryan and your new prized convert Jason argue that whomever he sanctifies those he justifies (well, maybe). You guys have it completely backwards, and, unless you change your mind on this matter, you will spend eternity in darkness wishing you had been able to see the true nature of your sin and the amazing extent of Christ’s work done for his elect. Now, I say you guys, but I presume I mean just you as I see no biblical hope for either Jason or Byran. I don’t know who the writer of Hebrews was, but I think he had those two hypocrites particularly in mind.

  182. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    This para was unclear:

    It seems natural to me to understand Jesus as rewarding the first two faithful servants, and casting the third into hell. Why? Well, because the first two produced fruit (would you agree these are good works of some sort?); but the third had no faith to begin with.

    What I meant was,

    In the text, we clearly see the first two receiving rewards (Luke 19.17 || Matt 25.21), while the third is cast into hell (Matt 25.30). So there’s not just a question of entering into heaven, but also of being rewarded as one enters heaven.

    Lack of faith — clearly the third servant lacks faith, yes? — is the ground for condemnation; works are the ground for the reward.

    Hope that’s more clear.

  183. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Finally, you make mention several times of initial and subsequent justifications. Can you point to anything in Scripture that teaches that there are two or many justifications in the sense of being transferred from one kingdom to another?

  184. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Re: Sean

    OK, I’m glad you don’t think I was lying.

    I hope to address some of your listed objections to the “Roman system”, and maybe we’ll see if your version of the “Roman system” is also my version. But there is a point I want to make before going on.

    The reason I keep bringing up sanctification is that you don’t seem to want to admit that believers can do something that is pleasing to God (good works). And I want you to know the truth, which is that God promises to sanctify those who have faith in Him, and by this sanctification believers will do works that are actually good, because they will do good things out of love for and obedience to Him. (Good works not done out of a reason other than love for God are not pleasing to God because He is jealous for the love of man).

    If you don’t believe that even God’s adopted children can do good works that are pleasing to God, then you are effectively denying that there is such a thing as sanctification. Do you believe in a sort of “imputed sanctification” but not real sanctification? But surely you don’t believe that God thinks it good for his children to continue to be slaves to sin. Do you think He just want to free people from the consequence of sin but not cure them of this deadly sickness?

    I think it is possible to simultaneously believe in “justification solely by the imputed righteousness of Christ” and believe that God will sanctify his people as part of his plan of salvation. Other reformed folks on this thread have testified to this. But the way you come across is that you don’t think these two beliefs are compatible.

    The truth is that God promises to sanctify His people and really free them from sin. I’m not saying this process is completed before a person dies. I’m not saying that this process is completed before “judgement day”. But I’m saying that God really promises to complete this process of sanctification before a person’s salvation is complete.

    At this point, I think I’ll drop the subject of sanctification and hope to go on to some of your listed objections (as time allows). But if you think I have mischaracterized your beliefs, then please corect me.

  185. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Re: Sean (#181),

    I’m hearing two objections to the Roman system. One objection is that Catholics believe in a distinction between mortal and venial sin. I admit believing in this distinction and you may think this condemns me. But I won’t address that distinction in this comment. I hope to comment on this in a later response to Brad S’s earlier comment, and maybe you can follow up from there.

    The second objection is you think since justification is “by faith alone”, the Roman system is untrue.

    Before I address this, I would like to clarify a few things to make sure we are talking about the same Roman system. I’ll call my version the “Roman paradigm”, just to distinguish from any preconceived notions. Now, I do believe that my “Roman paradigm” is compatible with what the Catholic Church teaches, but you may want to point out there is some incompatibility of which I am unaware.

    1. The Roman paradigm does not state that good works (by which I mean good works done out of love for God) are “required” for justification. Nor does the paradigm say that good works are “necessary” for justification. I think Jason Stellman had an earlier comment which used the word “necessary”, but I absolutely deny that are “necessary” for justification in my Roman paradigm.

    Furthermore, in no sense can a fallen man “rely on” good works for justification.

    The Roman paradigm is absolutely contrary to this, because in the paradigm, it is absolutely impossible for a human to do a good work (a work pleasing to God), before that person is justified. It’s absolutely impossible because a person can’t do a work which is pleasing to God before that person has been given the supernatural virtue of agape. And if a person were given the virtue of agape, that person would be justified, because God does not give agape until the moment of justification. In justification, the gift of the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and love are all at once, and that person’s former sins are forgiven. This gift is totally gratuitous on the part of God. The gift is not given because of anything pleasing that the person has done, but only because of God’s goodness and love for man, a love by which He gave up his Son to suffer and die for man’s sins.

    2. In the Roman paradigm, the virtue of agape is not the same thing as a “good work”. Agape is a virtue which is demonstrated in works, but the virtue can exist without any good works at all. In fact, this virtue must exist prior to any good works, because a person must have the will to do something out of love for God before that person can do any act which demonstrates love for God.

    So when I say “living faith” will “inevitably” result in good works (if given a chance), what I mean is that in living faith, a person has a virtue which will almost certainly demonstrate itself in works.

    OK, with those clarifications out of the way, I want to speak to what is meant by “increase in justification” in the Roman paradigm. It is simply this: God is pleased by good works done out of love for Him. He considers these good works “just” because He is the creator of the Universe, and He is the very essence of love. Man should act out of love for Him, because He designed Man to desire and love Him more than anything else. It is right and it is just for Man to express his love for what he loves.

    So when an adopted child of God does a good work, God is pleased. And because of God’s pleasure for those truly good works, God will probably think it good on the day of judgment to give a His child a little “bonus” or “pat on the back” for the good works which the child has done.

    I do not know what the “bonus” will be. Perhaps the bonus will be as small as a kind word from the judge, something like – “When you did these good works, I was pleased because you did them out of your love for me. Good work, faithful servant”. And the believer will probably respond with perfect humility – something like “No, please don’t mention it. I could not have done it except by your grace. All that I did is due to your Son.”

    Perhaps the bonus will be just a little happiness as the believer looks back on his life and feels happy rather than ashamed by a few of his actions.

    Perhaps he will be happy when he sees people who were saved by God working through him. (Maybe his good work was to love his neighbor or tell someone the gospel, and that good work brought them to Christ). Of course, there’s no pride involved. He’ll be equally happy to see the salvation of his brothers and sisters in Christ no matter whose good works were involved with their salvation.

    So not everyone will get the same “bonus”, but that’s OK. A person who spent his whole life in horrible sin and came to know the joy Christ only at the moment of his death will still find the greatest possible joy. If you are forgiven by your Lord and Savior, and brought into Heaven, that’s more happiness than any of us can imagine.

    What I am saying is that whatever bonus a Man gets will not compare to the joy Man experiences when he is taken into the Beatific Vision, where he will spend eternity with his God and Savior, his best friend, forever and ever. He will experience the awesome love of God and the whole communion of saints, and the perfection of God’s plan for creation. It doesn’t get better than that.

    OK that’s enough for now. Let me know what you think.

  186. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Jonathan,

    For my part, your “Roman paradigm” sounds very Augustinian, and in many ways it maps to the Reformed paradigm with this one exception:

    For the Roman Paradigmist, God is pleased to accept the believer not on the basis of works but on the basis of love infused; works then please the Father.

    For the Reformed Paradigmist, God is pleased to accept the believer not on the basis of works but on the basis of the merits of Christ imputed; works then please the Father because they are viewed through the Son (cf. WCoF on Good Works).

    But my problem is that your paradigm doesn’t fit well with Roman Catholic exegesis. For example, Jason exegeted the parable of the servants in this way: The first two servants were welcomed into heaven because they produced good works (out of love, of course); the third was cast into hell because he did not produce good works. He stated that this was parallel to the parable of the sheep and goats, who are sent to heaven and hell respectively because of (cue Keith Green) what they did and didn’t do.

    So I can see clear sense in your paradigm, and in many ways it is not far from the Reformed paradigm, with the exception of imputed or infused. But I cannot see that your paradigm fits with the arguments made by Catholics from Scripture against the Reformed position.

  187. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 18, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Re: Jeff (#186)

    I would interpret the Parable of the Talents this way:

    First of all, the Parable says the men were already servants in God’s household. So this story happens after some initial justification event.

    The gift of talents represents operative grace (a gift of some measure of agape by which the servants could obey God). The action of the servants represents their response to this gift. The return on investment for the action of the faithful servants represents God’s cooperative grace, by which their actions produced something good.

    The wicked servant buried the talents because he had come to neither desire nor love the master. When he had first come into God’s household, he had every intention to be faithful. But he fooled himself into believing that the master was too harsh, and he lost the will to obey the master. His action was a mortal sin. So, in the end, he was kicked out of the household.

    Whereas, for the faithful servants, the master’s praise and reward represents merit, or “increase in justification”.

  188. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Jonathan, that interpretation makes sense as an exposition of Catholic justification theology. Thank you.

    But now:

    (1) Does it make sense as exegesis? For example, where in the text do we have any indication that the servant ‘had every intention of being faithful’?

    We see no evidence of agape whatsoever in the third servant.

    Which brings us to

    (2) To get to your interpretation, we must first assume Catholic soteriology. We must assume that the very word ‘servant’ implies an initial justification event, which justification is then lost …

    And that’s acceptable as a method, assuming that Catholic soteriology is well-grounded. I’m not suggesting that your interpretation is wrong because it is Catholic (though I happen to be a committed Protestant!).

    Rather, I’m pointing out that this parable does not demonstrate the truth of Catholic soteriology; rather, Catholic soteriology is required in order to get to the Catholic interpretation of the parable.

    And that was my point to Jason. Both Catholics and Protestants have an interpretation of this parable. They are remarkably similar in some ways — the first two have initial justification (saving faith); they both perform good works in response to God’s grace; they receive rewards. The third has initial justification (no saving faith — the big difference); he disobeys; he is judged.

    Where in the text itself is the feature that helps us to decide between the two interpretations?

    And if there is not such a feature in the text, then how is it that Jason upholds this parable as evidence that pushes him in the Catholic direction? Without such a feature it cannot, assuming that he’s reasoning clearly.

  189. August 20, 2012 at 6:02 am

    [...] In this comment, Jason began a biblical exposition of his understanding of salvation. I want to interact with this on the level he’s been asking. So, here goes. Jason’s words are block-quoted, and my commentary follows. [...]

  190. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 23, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Re: Sean – (venial and mortal sins)

    Where we disagree is whether sanctification plays any role whatsoever in justification. You say yes, I say no. You admit to committing “venial sins” but believe that they will not exclude you from heaven. I say with Scripture that there are no “venial sins” and that you will be commended on account of your sin regardless of what you call them or how you choose to categorize or rationalize them.

    I absolutely agree that God hates venial sin and would condemn someone on the basis of that sin if that sin were not forgiven. The difference between venial sin and mortal sin is NOT that mortal sin needs forgiveness and venial sin does not. Even venial sins need forgiveness for a person to avoid condemnation.

    The difference is that in mortal sin, a person by his own freedom, rejects God’s love. By rejecting God’s love, that person, by act of will, rejects faith. He no longer “abides in Christ”. He is no longer “friends with God”. And without living faith, the merits of Christ’s passion no longer apply to him.

    I think the misunderstanding here is this. Catholics don’t believe that agape makes us righteous by cancelling our sins (venial or otherwise). Agape is a gift which makes us righteous after all sins are cancelled.

    In justification, forgiveness of sins saves one from Hell. But in a justified person (whose sins are forgiven), there is simultaneously is given something beyond simple forgiveness – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is the source of agape. And in this new life, the person has a participation in the divine nature through the gift of living faith. It is this new life of faith and love which allows a person to express love of God through good works. The good works will not express God’s love like Christ did, they are certainly imperfect expressions of love – but the works become more and more perfect as that person is sanctified. An imperfect expression of agape may be mixed with some sin. But in Christ, sins are forgiven and cancelled, so what remains after sins are forgiven is a good work done out of love for God.

    These works also justify. But it’s not that they somehow complete or replace the justification a person has been already given.

    Think of it like the difference between a student who “graduates”, and the person who “graduates with honors”. We say the works “increase” the justification, and add merit, because in doing Good works, the person causes justice to be done to God. And by those good works, God is pleased. That’s why the works count as merit.

    By saying a person merits a good work, we are not saying that the good work is not due to Christ. Every good work merited by man is also merited by Christ in the following way:

    1., A man “causes” or “merits” the good work because by his free response to God’s gift of agape, he chooses to do the good work.
    2. The Holy Spirit “merits” the good work because the man would not be able to do the good work without the agape which was poured out into his heart by the grace of the Spirit.
    3. Christ “merits” the good work because it is the love between Christ and the Father, shown in the passion, by which the Holy Spirit proceeds.
    4. The Father “merits” the good work by giving up his Son to suffering and death.

    So, when God judges one of his adopted children, he will not just find the person not guilty (because all sins have been forgiven). He will also measure good works, and a pure heart (agape). So, in heaven, if we make it there, and if God gives us the grace to do good hear on Earth, then we may enter with some small honor.

    So yes, justification is in a sense dependent on sanctification. But not in the sense that perfect sanctification is required for justification. But only in the sense that in the process of sanctification, a justified man will do good works, and these works will increase his justification/merit before God.

  191. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 23, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Hi Jeff (Re: #188)

    Where in the text itself is the feature that helps us to decide between the two interpretations?

    I don’t think this parable (or any other) “proves” the Catholic faith (or my “Roman paradigm”, which is in itself an interpretation). I agree with you that this parable can be translated different ways.

    But here’s one reason I prefer my interpretation –

    In my paradigm, God’s will for man to be saved is not an “absolute” will, but a will which He makes “contingent” on man’s free acceptance or rejection of His grace. That’s why a man can reject God’s love in an act of mortal sin even after being justified.

    However, in the reformed paradigm, as I understand it, grace is considered irresistible. God never justifies anyone except the elect.

    In my paradigm, when the text says that the third man is a “servant” of God at the beginning of the parable, that implies justification. A person cannot be considered a “servant” of God until that person is adopted into the household of God. And the only way a person is adopted into the household of God is through justification.

    But in your interpretation, the third man is somehow a servant in the household of God, without ever having had “saving faith”. But is that possible? Is adoption distinct from justification? Or do you think the man’s status as “servant” means something other than adoption?

  192. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 23, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Re: Brad B (#174)
    I Brad, I read the texts you quoted. but before I reply, I would like to know how you think these texts contradict something I quoted from the catechism. Obviously, as a Catholic, I don’t think these contradict, but our interpretations probably don’t agree.

    Perhaps you are saying something like this:
    * I (Brad) interpret these verses as proving that God’s grace is irresistible
    * therefore, mortal sin is impossible

    But perhaps you’re making some other point.

  193. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 23, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Jonathan (#191): In my paradigm, God’s will for man to be saved is not an “absolute” will, but a will which He makes “contingent” on man’s free acceptance or rejection of His grace. That’s why a man can reject God’s love in an act of mortal sin even after being justified.

    However, in the reformed paradigm, as I understand it, grace is considered irresistible. God never justifies anyone except the elect.

    In my paradigm, when the text says that the third man is a “servant” of God at the beginning of the parable, that implies justification. A person cannot be considered a “servant” of God until that person is adopted into the household of God. And the only way a person is adopted into the household of God is through justification.

    In the Reformed understanding, there is God’s election and also His providence. Both of these are unseen and work themselves out according to His decrees. The first is accomplished by the direct work of God’s Spirit, using also secondary means like the preaching of the Word. The second is accomplished primarily by secondary means and only rarely by miraculous interventions.

    In addition, there is the outward, or “man’s”, or empirical perspective. Outwardly, people make professions of faith and join the visible church. Inwardly, they have genuine faith according to the work of the Spirit — or else not — and are attached by the Spirit to Christ’s bride invisibly.

    We take Romans 11 and John 15 to be central texts for this two-perspective view, as well the parable of the soils and many others. Particularly, Romans 2 explicitly teaches “he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, …”

    So here, we are looking at three individuals who are servants in the outward sense. But only two actually have any inward sense of service.

    This is one reason that I think your understanding is improbable. You say that the third must have been initially justified because he is called “servant.” I ask, where is the agape? He ought to demonstrate some kind of love that then disappears; instead, he shows only fear and mistrust.

  194. Jonathan Brumley said,

    August 23, 2012 at 9:42 am

    In my interpretation, the servant must once have had agape or else he would not have once been taken into the household by the master. However, it is a fair criticism that this is an assumption, and it is not directly stated by the parable.

    Another interpretation is that the initial gift of one talent corresponds to the agape initially given, and when the servant buried the talent, and finally, gave the talent back to God (‘here you have what was yours’), he rejected the gift.

    I don’t see why the master would have taken a false (“outward”) servant into his household in the first place. A man can’t put himself in God’s household – it’s God who does that.

    There is another parable which I would interpret as a false believer – the one where the man who receives an invitation but shows up to the wedding without wedding clothes. But this parable doesn’t in my reading lend itself to that.

  195. johnbugay said,

    August 23, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Just as a hermeneutical point, if you study how parables functioned in the ancient world, you’d note that the parable is intended to make one, and only one point. All else is just speculation.

  196. johnbugay said,

    October 6, 2012 at 5:32 am

    I’ve put up a couple of blog posts that describe why I find the concept of “list paradigm” as applied to Protestants to be extremely disingenuous:

    Roman Catholic List Paradigms

  197. Bryan Cross said,

    October 6, 2012 at 9:01 am

    John, (re: #196)

    I’ve replied here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  198. michael said,

    October 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Bryan @ 197

    There are a couple of places in Scripture that box your opinion in that we are righteous through and through because God infuses His Righteousness into us so that after our salvation by the system of the RCC (baptism) we thereafter are always “righteous” before God because of it.

    Clearly the Scriptures teach otherwise.

    There is a measure of truth in that in what the Apostle Paul writes using a Greek Word in two places, this subtle idea of infusion. Once you get out of your box, think outside the box if you will, you might be touched by the Spirit of Truth and receive the revelation of the Eternal Redemption we have by imputation because of Christ shed blood? This Greek Word that is used by Paul is in these two places only and in no other place and no other writer of the New Testament uses the word. The word is:

    συζωοποιέω
    suzōopoieō: to reanimate conjointly with (figuratively): – quicken together with.

    Paul uses this word at Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:13.

    Now for the Scriptural box that you really cannot think yourself outside of by your religious practices and because of your strongly held opinion about infusion is this one:

    Joh 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
    Joh 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
    Joh 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;
    Joh 16:10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;
    Joh 16:11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

    Rom 5:16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
    Rom 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
    Rom 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

    The verses that reveals the error of the doctrine of infusion of His Righteousness are John 16 verse 9 and Romans 5:17.

    There are some who will no doubt have to die and come before the Lord in Heaven to realize that the doctrine of infusion is false, regrettably.

    At John 16:9 you see clearly the reason is because they do not believe in their total human depravity or the Truth about the imputation of Christ’s Righteousness as a gift from God alone. John 16:10 makes it very clear the reason why! Jesus said “you must be born again”. And ironically the Apostle Peter wrote the same to those he was writing to as well and all of us who call upon the Name of the Lord!

    Remember what Jesus said when He was teaching the Truth as the Son of Man? He said no one comes to the Father but by Him. His teaching wasn’t we come to the Father by Him and us working with Him because He infuses His Righteousness into us making us perfect so we with Him are saved! To see another angle of this perspective I refer you to Philippians 3:20-21, Hebrews 9:27-28.

    Now what is the significance of quoting from Romans 5:16-18?

    Well if you look closely at the Greek you discover in verse 16 the Greek word for justification Paul uses is:

    δικαίωμα
    dikaiōma: an equitable deed; by implication a statute or decision: – judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness.

    And in verse 18 the Greek word for justification is:
    δικαίωσις
    dikaiōsis: acquittal (for Christ’s sake): – justification.

    Either it is infusion as you and your church teach because your situation before God has now changed. You believe as a saved human on earth you have so changed it is now Christ’s equitable deed, decision, judgment, justification, ordinance and righteousness along with yours not as we believe it is “Just” His equitable deed by His decision alone prophetically given as a statute and decision, judgment, justification and ordinance of His Righteousness imputed to those of us He elects and calls out of this fallen world of all living.

    I would just tie up one more thing here regarding Romans 5:17 with a verse from Genesis.

    Why can the Apostle say “death” came by the transgression of Adam?

    Moses records this fact found in Genesis about Eve:

    Gen 3:20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

    To reign in the “life/zoe” Paul refers to in Romans 5:17 is by His power alone through the abundance of Grace and the free gift of Righteousness through Jesus Christ Our Lord not through the RCC’s extra biblical religious practices added onto His finished Work He declared here:

    Joh 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

  199. Vincent said,

    March 6, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Bryan I must say that I find the historical and patrisitic evidence for this “agape” paradigm to be lacking. It cant even find support in the writings of Thomas Aquinas, who also affirmed that in this life we are imperfect. Nor is there evidence for it in the writings of Roman Catholic theologians or Trent.


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 345 other followers

%d bloggers like this: