Debating Galatians on Justification

I know that Lane will have much more to say by means of following up his opening shot in Reponse to Jason Stellman, Part 1, but I wanted to open up a new thread so that those who want to focus on the issue of Galatians, especially chapters 5-6, in relation to justification can continue the debate in the combox.  Since the comments are about to break the 500 comment barrier under Lane’s post, it is probably useful to focus in on the most relevant issues being discussed.  Jeff Cagle has been good enough to respond to some of Jason Stellman’s arguments from Galatians, and I wanted to highlight these issues amidst the rest of the cluttered and often irrelevant back-and-forth.

I did want to give a few brief thoughts of my own.

1.  The pivotal issue being discussed is what “faith working through love” actually counts for in Galatians 5:6.  Does it count for justification, or for the Christian life (sanctification)?  Horton is not the only person to say that justification is not in view here.  Luther wrote:

Therefore no one with any sense can take this passage to refer to the business of justification in the sight of God; for it is speaking of the total life of Christians, and it is faulty dialectic or the fallacy of composition and division  to attribute to one part what is said of the whole.

And Calvin:

With respect to the present passage, Paul enters into no dispute whether love cooperates 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….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; and neither must it be supposed that love possesses any such influence.

Note that Calvin mentions that even Romanist theologians admit that justification is not in view here.  As far as I can tell, much (most?  all?)  of the debate surrounding this verse during the Reformation period was not over whether this was the case, but whether this verse established that faith is *constitued* by love, that is to say either “formed by love” or “wrought by love” as opposed to love being a description of what faith does or fruit of faith.  That debate is largely dead in our time, at least as far as serious commentators are concerned.

Jason Stellman has objected:

The immediate context of the FWTL is Paul’s question to those “who would be justified by the law” (v. 4). He then insists that circumcision avails nothing (v. 6). The only reasonable answer to the question “avails nothing for what?” is “avails nothing for justification.”

One should note that Paul is concerned throughout his letter to the Galatians with the antithesis of circumcision/law/flesh in relation to both justification and the Christian life.  At least as early as 3:3 he expresses that the Christian life is incompatible with it:  “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”  It should be no surprise that, at various points in the letter, justification or sanctification come to the forefront respectively or, indeed are present side-by-side in some cases.

Strictly speaking, 5:6 grounds or somehow explains 5:5, and 5:5 grounds or explains 5:4 (“gar” is present in 5:5 and 5:6).  5:4 explicitly refers to justification, but 5:5 refers to eagerly awaiting the hope of righteousness, an apt description of the Christian life.  And 5:6 starts with “in Christ…”, a strong indication that “what doesn’t [or does] matter/count” is in reference to those already in union with Christ.  I know that Romanists will simply answer that justification and the Christian life/sanctification are co-mingled, but in any case it cannot be said that Paul has no concern with the Christian life in relation to the faith vs. circumcision/law antithesis.

There is also an exegetical matter that is not often discussed, and that is the significance of the parallels that 5:6 has with 6:15:  “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”  Paul omits the “in Christ” clause here, but in 6:16 he pronounces blessing on all those who “walk by this rule.”  Again we find here a reference to the Christian life, a principle by which the Christian “walks.”  And in I Corinthians 7:19, the expression appears again: “For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.”  This immediately follows on Paul’s admonition in 7:17:  “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”  Here neither circumcision nor uncircumcision “count” for the life in Christ that the Lord has assigned us.

2.  Jeff Cagle rightly points out that 3:27 does not establish a causal link between baptism and “putting on Christ”.  I think the lack of attention to the actual grammar and logic of texts such as these is a habitual fallacy made by Romanists.  “As many as X, have done Y” only establishes that the same group of people who have undergone X have also undergone Y.  It does not say nor imply that X causes Y.  This is to be contrasted with the way Paul speaks about faith, the prepositions in the “by faith” clauses indicate that faith is an instrumental cause of justification.  No such construction exists for either baptism or good works.

Jeff is also right to point out that Abraham’s justification came before the sacrament of the faith, circumcision, and is held up by Paul as the exemplar and archetype of our own salvation in both Galatians and Romans.  We are familiar with the problem baptismal justification and/or regeneration poses to various Protestant sacramentalists and moralists, such as the Federal Visionists, as it shatters the unity of the covenant of grace.  And with Roman theology, too, one is forced to conclude that one is justified by different means than was Abraham when one adopts a scheme like this.

It will not do to simply object that Abraham had demonstrated faith before Genesis 15, especially in leaving his homeland in Ur to follow God’s leading.  Most (all?) Protestant commentators admit that Abraham had saving faith before Genesis 15:6 and that this was not the moment he went from a state of wrath to a state of justification before God.  But both Moses and Paul pick out this instance of faith in the life of Abraham for good reason, it articulates, specifically, the promises and messianic hope that he was to trust God for and, strikingly, the fact that Abraham performed no good work in response.  He was passive, he simply believed and trusted.  Sure, when we finally get around to 15:10 Abraham arranges the animals for God as commanded, but this was provided as a help to Abraham to assure him of God’s promises.  And even then, God puts Abraham to sleep and God is the one active in the ceremony.  You couldn’t ask for a better picture.

3.  This is a somewhat tangential point, but I will say that I would find no intellectual attraction to Rome even if the Protestant doctrine of sola fide were not biblical and, indeed, even if sola scriptura were  unbiblical or untrue.  The claims of Rome go far, far beyond a mere denial of sola fide (as they will freely admit) and, in fact, if I had to earn my own salvation I would avoid their medieval,  man-made, labyrinthian system of works in favor of the piety that the Bible actually promotes.

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52 Comments

  1. johnbugay said,

    August 26, 2012 at 8:43 am

    David, you said:

    This is a somewhat tangential point, but I will say that I would find no intellectual attraction to Rome even if the Protestant doctrine of sola fide were not biblical and, indeed, even if sola scriptura were unbiblical or untrue. The claims of Rome go far, far beyond a mere denial of sola fide (as they will freely admit) and, in fact, if I had to earn my own salvation I would avoid their medieval, man-made, labyrinthian system of works in favor of the piety that the Bible actually promotes.

    This is really not tangential at all (except that it is tangential to the subject of this blog post). But Rome’s “system” is all or nothing (in the sense that the Roman Catholic must accept all of Rome’s teachings; there are no exceptions to this “subscription”).

    A guy like Jason Stellman has bought into the whole ball of wax.

  2. Wide Reader said,

    August 26, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Logically speaking (I know Pre-Vatican II Catholics like Bryan Cross and presumably Jason Stellman aren’t crazy about logic and reason because of its ties to the atheism of the Enlightenment) I just don’t know how anyone can read the Bible and come up with the idea that justifcation is a process in which we gradually work our way to being right with God. The only way this works in practice is if we greatly reduce the holiness of God and greatly increase our view of our own goodness. Come on, guys. The gulf is really, really big. The Pharisees made the same mistake in changing the Law into something manageable that they thought they could actually keep. I would become an atheist before I became a Catholic. It least atheistic, nihilistic, hedonism is logically consistent.

  3. August 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    ‘ That debate is largely dead in our time, at least as far as serious commentators are concerned.’

    LOL. I only got this fa, but I will read the full post. The reason for my chuckle, is that the debate is truly dead, and yet, 2000 or so comments (as many years since our Lord walked this earth, and died that I might live) shows that for some reason, people here like to beat dead horses.

    I imagine this is David G. writing this blog post. Thank you, whomever you are. If it is you, you are a Cali guy. Maybe you golf…

    See you all in green pastures, with little flags blowing to show which way the wind blows,
    AB

  4. August 26, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    *far PS green baggins makes me think maybe even the hobbits enjoy swinging sticks around the shire. They did enjoy a good ale, so, if you don’t golf, come on over and enjoy some guiness. You nameless, faceless, internet avatar. I’m going to personally write an algorithim to have my comments show up here automatically. They do that with sports writing. You load the box score into a program, and out spits an article. I do look forward to when this blog moves past the C2C and onto some real important topics. C2C should know now we love them. Oh, and know that we believe they are really really confused. Sorry, off topic, I know, trim at whim.

  5. August 26, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    PPS remember today is Sunday folks…I will do what I can, about this,as well. See you in church, Andrew

  6. August 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    PPPS, David G, your last sentence is put so well,I hate to add another comment. You are a good writer. GB is fortunate to have your skills and talents!

    Peace,
    Andrew

  7. August 26, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Sorry, last comment. I just love the ‘if I had to earn my own salvation.’ There’s a reason Machen’s last words were, ‘I’m so thankful for the Active Obedience of Christ. No hope without it.’ It’s precisely because we don’t have to earn anything.

    Keep at it, you RC’s. In 500 years, our algorithms will have read fire answers to your questions, even as you type them.

    There’s nothing new under the sun.

    As Fesko says, “the more things change, the more, they stay they stay the same.”

    Maybe Stellman and the Benedict can surf together off the Italian Riviera. We’ll be working hard over here. Best to you all.

    Andrew

  8. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Bryan on the other thread wrote: If baptism were merely a sign of faith, there would have been no need to replace circumcision with baptism.

    That argument’s flat wrong. There are several other possible reasons. Here’s one, the one that I hold to:

    Circumcision was the sign of the promised clean seed. Baptism is the sign of the pouring out of the Spirit.

    The reason for the change in sign is redemptive-historical, not the institution of a new requirement for justification.

  9. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Bryan, same comment: Not only that, but you have to make St. Paul not even mean what he says in Gal 3:27. He says there, “ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε.” That’s not mere sign language; that’s ontological language. As many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ, that is, become united to Him, inserted into His Body, regenerated by His Spirit, infused with grace, supernatural faith, and agape, which is His righteousness.

    As you know, there is baptism with water and baptism by the Spirit. The two are distinct concepts.

    The problem here is that you are operating from a Roman Catholic presupposition that ‘baptism’ always refers to both together.

    However, I don’t accept that presupposition; I believe that baptism by the Spirit effects regeneration, and is primarily in view here as an ontological statement; while baptism by water empirically signs this regeneration, and is in view here as an outward sign of the Spiritual reality.

    BC: This union with Christ, and all that goes with it, is effected in baptism, which is not merely a sign of faith, but is the means by which we receive the salvation Christ won for us on Calvary.

    You assume this, but you have not proven it.

    BC: What’s going on here is that your paradigm won’t allow you to grant baptism any efficacy…

    Actually, that’s not so. In fact, some think I make baptism more efficacious than I ought.

    But in any event, here’s my confession: What the sacraments promise is received by faith. They are every bit as efficacious as the Scripture; and faith is the efficacy of the Sacraments.

  10. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Bryan, same comment: Because Christ said so. He is the one who said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (St. John 3:5) And “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mk. 16:16)

    You know enough logic to recognize that the latter statement is entirely compatible by justification apart from baptism. Nowhere does Jesus say, “He who has not been baptized will be condemned.”

    That’s assuming that the end of Mark 16 is genuine. I’m pretty sure you don’t practice snake-handling?

    As for John 3, it is equally likely that ‘water and Spirit’ is a hendiadys, as Jesus uses ‘water’ to refer to the Spirit elsewhere in John (and Ezekiel does, too, in the announcement of the New Covenant — Ezek 36.25). To assume, without proof, that this is a reference to baptism simply reflects a Catholic presupposition.

    So Jesus has said nothing of the sort, not unless you have actual proof.

  11. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Jason (#477): A couple thoughts: first, who says that this particular breakdown of the epistle is in fact the correct one, and the one Paul (and/or the Holy Spirit) had in mind when it was originally written?

    Well, I hope you’re asking “what evidence shows that …” rather than “who says …”

    For I do not accept the idea that the quality of an argument depends on who makes it, and that concept has been in the air in discussions about authority.

    If you think a different structure fits the text better, please feel free to argue for it. I don’t believe I’ve infallibly arrived at the correct one.

    Here’s my reasoning, for what it’s worth. What I noted, from the text, is that Paul uses “justified by…” language several times from 1.1 – 5.15, and he makes the explicit argument “you were not justified by X; you were justified by Y.”

    From 5.16 onwards, there is no more talk of “being justified.” Instead, Paul speaks of “living by the Spirit.”

    I hope we can agree to these facts so far.

    This is the basic ground of my division into two pieces, 1.1 – 4.31 and 5.16 – 6.18: the linguistic observation that the term “justification” ceases after 5.4.

    Second, I observed (as did you) that Paul speaks of the Spirit in the first division. But in each instance, he speaks of how they received the Spirit. In the second half, he speaks exclusively of living by the Spirit.

    So it is the nature of Paul’s argument and not the mere presence of the word “Spirit” that is in view here.

    The next question is what to make of 5.1 – 15? I notice that it is encapsulated by the affirmation “You were called to freedom.” In this section, Paul reiterates his argument from ch. 1 – 4, and he begins a new theme: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” The chapters 5 – 6 then develop that theme, which I have called ‘living by the Spirit’ (making the two equivalent, which was perhaps confusing).

    For this reason, I view 5.1 – 15 as a hinge between the two.

    And again: I’m not claiming that I’ve arrived here, but I do stand on the following facts.

    * When Paul speaks of justification, he is entirely focused on an initial event by which we have been made children of God, inheritors of the kingdom, and recipients of the Spirit.
    * There is a transition between ch 4 and ch 5 from “what has happened” to “live in this way.”

    You may interpret these differently, of course. But to get justification-as-ongoing-event in Galatians, you must import the idea from somewhere. It’s not in the language of the text.

  12. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Gentlemen, my shot-clock has expired.

    I hope that God’s word will be rightly understood by all of us, and that we seek to be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of our own.

  13. Paul Weinhold said,

    August 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Note that Calvin mentions that even Romanist theologians admit that justification is not in view here. As far as I can tell, much (most? all?) of the debate surrounding this verse during the Reformation period was not over whether this was the case, but whether this verse established that faith is *constitued* by love, that is to say either “formed by love” or “wrought by love” as opposed to love being a description of what faith does or fruit of faith. That debate is largely dead in our time, at least as far as serious commentators are concerned.

    St. Thomas More wrote what C.S. Lewis called a “great Platonic dialogue, perhaps the best in English,” in which he refutes the Lutherans using, among numerous other passages, Galatians 5:6.

    As far as I can tell, justification is precisely what More has in view, making him at least one Catholic during the Reformation period who saw that the question of charity’s relationship to faith is of no little importance to the larger question of justification.

    If you’d like to do some fact-checking and you like reading early modern typeface, you may wish to read this, or if you’d prefer a modernized version, you could purchase this.

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul Weinhold

  14. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 26, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Note that Calvin mentions that even Romanist theologians admit that justification is not in view here. As far as I can tell, much (most? all?) of the debate surrounding this verse during the Reformation period was not over whether this was the case, but whether this verse established that faith is *constitued* by love, that is to say either “formed by love” or “wrought by love” as opposed to love being a description of what faith does or fruit of faith. That debate is largely dead in our time, at least as far as serious commentators are concerned.

    Lane and All,

    The discussion over faith working through love does not seem to be much of a debate today as well. Too often the Catholics have framed our position as justification by faith alone while their position is justification by faith working through love. But this just does not capture the heart of the matter at all. As you can see from Jason’s response to me in the first part of #352 from the last thread, Catholics are often not really distinguishing their position on the matter (assuming Jason sees himself as Roman Catholic, which I don’t actually know to be the case).

    I asked Jason if he can affirm a distinctly Tridentine theology of justification from the Bible. I’m wondering if it might be a helpful idea to take the statements on justification from Trent and talk about whether these doctrines can be found in the Bible. I would guess that some of the Catholic response here would be that while the essence of the Catholic faith, including justification, is found in Scriptures (hence their affirmation of the material sufficiency of Scripture), there is much that has been carried down through the tradition of the Church which is not explicitly laid down in Scripture. So from the Roman Catholic standpoint there is more to be known about justification than what find find explicitly promulgated in the Scriptures. So where does this leave us when we are done discussing what the Bible does and does not teach about justification? As I see it, In the final analysis it’s no problem for Roman Catholic dogma if there is no specific warrant in Scripture for a given tenet of Tridentine justification. IOW, once you reject sola scriptura as a rule for the Church, debates over what the Scripture alone says on a given topic, in this case justification, don’t get you anywhere.

  15. August 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    “IOW, once you reject sola scriptura as a rule for the Church, debates over what the Scripture alone says on a given topic, in this case justification, don’t get you anywhere.”

    Precisely. Which is why, if conservative Christians like us ever get around to engaging the Modern theologians, we will find that’s the crux of the issue there too!

    Whether you place something above Scripture, or you vacate it, you end up in the same place. Despair and confusion.

    We would end up asking ourselves, what must I do to be saved? Well, repent and believe, of course. Then what must I believe?

    I believe, help thou my unbelief!

    Rest secure in Jesus and in Him alone.

    Maybe you guys have already taken the Moderns to town. If so, then I truly am simply the last guy to the party. However, there’s work to do. RC’s can join us if they want. But this discussion is well captured by the words of Andrew Mc.

    Shot clock, Jeff? I’ve never been a baller…maybe after running and surfing, Basketball is the next hobby to tackle. It’s been a fun ride, all.

  16. Wide Reader said,

    August 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Andrew – But you need to keep the mission of CTC in mind. Stellman knows that we don’t accept the authority of the Catholic church (yet) so he believes the first step is to convince us that we are wrong about what the BIble says about justification by faith. Once he can get us doubting that he can start to get us to doubt other things (like Sola Scriptura). It’s actually a better approach than Bryan Cross takes. He really gets no traction with Reformed guys in my experience.

  17. August 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    So it really does amount to them just, really, having nothing better to do.

    Whatever. It’s been fun, if nothing else. That’s what Trueman says in “Theater of the Absurd” (if i break a rule by posting this, then delete):

    “Or you could try another way, what we might call the “Samuel Beckett” option: face this theater of the absurd head-on; join in with the other nobodies pretending to be somebodies; laugh at your own ridiculous complicity in this nonsense; expose the systematic contradictions for all they are worth; mock the blogworld for all of its inane self-importance; and in so doing try in some small way to subvert the system from the inside. It may not ultimately work; but you will have fun in the process.”

    Thanks, Wide. Peace.

  18. Wide Reader said,

    August 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    The #1 reason to debate with Catholics, Baptists, & other Reformed guys with whom you disagree is to spark your own mind to pursue your own reading & study. If your main motivation is to persuade the other guy you will mostly end up frustrated. It happens occasionally, but for the most part focusing on changing others beliefs is one of the greatest causes of frustration with life. This is why I don’t pay too much attention to politics. It’s all about trying to force others to believe and act as you do.

  19. paigebritton said,

    August 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    I cleaned out some comments…these threads get mighty long even without off-topic stuff. Thanks.

  20. August 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Glad there are still adults around here. Thanks Paige. I really get going when golfers emerge :-) peace and thanks for work. Do delete as needed and no need to explain. We know…

  21. jedpaschall said,

    August 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Jeff, (Re # 8)

    Circumcision was the sign of the promised clean seed. Baptism is the sign of the pouring out of the Spirit

    You are absolutely correct, and I would like to to add briefly to your point and reinforce the Biblical reason why there was a transfer in the sign of the covenant between the Old and the New. Circumcision was the seal that secured Israel in the Promised Land (Josh. 5) and signified a right relation to God through the cutting of of the sinful self (Deut. 10). Christ completes the blood sign of circumcision as he is cut off for the sins of his people and transfers the new sign to water baptism. Water baptism signifies the forgiveness of sin, secured by Christ being cut off, which allows the New Covenant community to enter the eschatological Promised Land (Ezek. 36).

    One has to wonder how Reformed folk are ensared by the cartoons of Reformed theology that the CTC crew (Bryan especially) continue to put forth:

    If baptism were merely a sign of faith, there would have been no need to replace circumcision with baptism. Circumcision would have been the sign of faith in all those who are sons of Abraham by faith. But your reduction of baptism to a mere sign of faith, and not the sacramental means of faith, is nowhere to be found in Scripture

    When our confessions, which you as an officer in the PCA affirm and uphold, say so much more:

    Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church; but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world. (WCF 28.1)

    Obviously Bryan’s caricatures of our theology, baptism and otherwise will not suffice. In saying that baptism signifies faith through the putting on of Christ, which Paul is asserting in Galatians 3, is not to reduce the whole eschatological thrust of the sacrament to a faith sign, nor does Cross’ counter-argument justify the transition from circumcision to baptism. To reduce baptism as “the sacramental means of faith”, as opposed to the true function as a sign and seal is to actually drive a wedge between circumcision and baptism that is foreign to scripture. Reformed exegesis actually begins to grapple with the continuity between the sacraments in the Old and New in terms of promise and fulfillment.

    Certainly baptism saves us (1 Pet. 3:21), but through the instrumentality of the death and resurrection of Christ, which baptism signifies. Elsewhere, Scripture is clear that the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection are appropriated through faith. Yet, Rome, with it’s doctrine of baptismal regeneration cannot get around the fact that for some who are baptized, Christ’s death and resurrection are ineffectual and not ultimately regenerative, because some who are baptized are reprobate. Peter is not upending the doctrines of justification by faith here, rather demonstrating the correspondence between the sign (baptism) and the thing signified (the death and resurrection of Christ), which should give great comfort to the elect in the efficacy of the sacraments to accomplish the promises they signify. Nowhere in Scripture, Old or New Testament, is the necessity of faith upended by the effecacy of the sacraments. Yet, we are reminded in Peter that the sacraments are not mere trinkets, or human pledges, but the means through which God ordinarily works to confer and build faith through the power of the Holy Spirit working through them (WCF 27.3).

    BTW – Thanks for all the time you have taken to carefully respond in these discussions, it has gone a long way in confirming for me, and others I hope, why we are Reformed and not Papists. Semper Reformanda!!!

  22. bsuden said,

    August 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    18. WR/Erik

    The #1 reason to debate/discuss anything with someone is that the truth demands it. Or if you prefer, truth is worthy of a just defense. It is also true, that just as iron sharpens iron, it is quite likely that you will grow in understanding of the truth, but that is not the main reason one engages per se in what scholastically would be called a disputation.

    That not to mention, there is a time for all things. Not everybody is called everywhere and at all times to speak up. There is even time, at times, for what Jerry Falwell called cow pasture pool.

    To each his own, though and not to fire anybody up. We have enough Roman nincompoop comments as it is and we don’t need any more from protestants.

    Again, like it or not, CtC has opened up on the reformed faith and contra sola scriptura and sola fide, has posited sola papa and sola fide et opere as being fundamental to genuine Christianity; infusion contra imputation and faith plus works.

    For those who haven’t had a first hand introduction to the deceitful dialectics of papist apologetics, it should be quite an eyeopener. That they are right now inconsistently arguing from the darker places in Scripture on justification by infusion rather than from the ECFs in the thread on justifying the supremacy of the pope should come as no surprise.

    But then again, if you become what you worship Ps. 115:8, even a piece of bread, it can’t hold a votive candle to the real bread of life come down from heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ no matter what the phds. TKOed by the Mormons might say.

    Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

    Romans 4:2-5 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 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.

  23. bsuden said,

    August 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    FWIW on Gal. 5:6,

    Thirdly, let the Reader observe, that in the fifth verse, opposing the true justification by the Spirit unto that counterfeit justification which the Galatians sought in the flesh of circumcision, lest he be thought to stretch out justification unto good works, which are the gift and fruites of the Spirit, he interpreteth what gift of the Spirit he meaneth in the next words, saying, by faith. Last of all, in the sixth verse, lest any should abuse the holy doctrine to unbridled licentiousness of life, he marketh out justifying faith to be no bare knowledge of God, or dead faith, such as the devils but to be lively, fruitfull, and working by charity. . . . Secondly, unto our answer that charity, although necessarily joined unto faith, yet justifieth not, their reply, that it is evidently reproved by this place, which teacheth that faith hath her whole activity and operation to salvation of charity, is evidently brutish. For first of all thereby they set Peter against Paul, which saith that God by faith purgeth the hearts [Act.15:9] of men, and not by charity as they say. Secondly, they make Paul against himself [1Tim.1:5], which maketh charity an effect proceeding from faith: so that to say, that faith hath her activitie of charity, is all one as if they should say, the efficient cause hath activite and operation of her effect, a worthy principle for the Iesuites demonstrations.
    And if the Reader will yet further see the dizzie spirit of these Iesuites, let him consider it in the conclusions, which are of the same stamp with theirs: The soule speaketh by the mouth, therefore the soule hath all her activity of the mouth: The will worketh by the affections, therefore the will hath all her activity from the affections. Againe, the soule speaketh by the mouth, therefore the soule alone understandeth not but by the mouth also; the will worketh by the affections, therefore the will chooseth not onely, but by the affections also. For even such is their Logick, when of this, that faith worketh by charity, they will conclude, that faith only justifieth not.
    These things, although they be more then sufficient to convince them of a slumbering and drowsie spirit . . .

    Thomas Cartwright, A confvtation of the Rhemists translation, glosses and annotations on the New Testament : so farre as they containe manifest impieties, heresies, idolatries, superstitions, prophanesse, treasons, slanders, absurdities, falsehoods and other evills. . . 1618.

  24. August 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    [...] via Debating Galatians on Justification « Green Baggins. [...]

  25. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 26, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Wide Reader (re:16),

    Andrew – But you need to keep the mission of CTC in mind. Stellman knows that we don’t accept the authority of the Catholic church (yet) so he believes the first step is to convince us that we are wrong about what the BIble says about justification by faith. Once he can get us doubting that he can start to get us to doubt other things (like Sola Scriptura).

    I believe you are addressing my statement about not getting anywhere with Catholics on what the Scriptures say since they have already rejected sola scriptura. And I think you are right about your comment above and my statement is too strong. It’s certainly not a waste of time talking to Roman Catholics about what Scripture says. I will say instead say that it’s important to get out on the table exactly what the Roman Catholics do believe about Scripture and oral tradition. What we hope as Reformed Christians is that a conversation concerning Scripture’s teaching on a given doctrinal matter, justification in Galatians in this case, won’t be obviated by an ad hoc appeal to oral tradition and doctrinal development at the end of the conversation.

  26. August 27, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Jeff,

    Here’s my reasoning, for what it’s worth. What I noted, from the text, is that Paul uses “justified by…” language several times from 1.1 – 5.15, and he makes the explicit argument “you were not justified by X; you were justified by Y.”

    From 5.16 onwards, there is no more talk of “being justified.” Instead, Paul speaks of “living by the Spirit.”

    Well, from 1:1 – 2:15 he doesn’t use that language at all, nor does he use it in chapter 4. And as I pointed out yesterday, the verses referring to the Spirit in your Justification section of Galatians equal the number of ones that refer to the Spirit in the Sanctification section.

    Plus, I find it very artificial and convenient that the final usage of “justified” in Galatians appears in a section that you will not concede is part of the Justification section of the letter. So I guess I’m just not buying your breakdown.

    I observed (as did you) that Paul speaks of the Spirit in the first division. But in each instance, he speaks of how they received the Spirit. In the second half, he speaks exclusively of living by the Spirit.

    That is true, but that doesn’t detract from my argument at all (since my whole point is that living by the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, and sowing to the Spirit are all (for Paul) synonymous with exhibiting a living and active faith that works through love that results in justification.

    And again: I’m not claiming that I’ve arrived here, but I do stand on the following facts:

    * When Paul speaks of justification, he is entirely focused on an initial event by which we have been made children of God, inheritors of the kingdom, and recipients of the Spirit.

    Well, if you set aside my argument alluded to above and made elsewhere, and if you isolate Galatians from the rest of the NT, then maybe you’re right. But still, you’re a long way off from proving your position since a Catholic can, for the sake of argument, concede that all of Paul’s uses of dikaioo in Galatians refer to something that does all you claim, but that those blessings can be forfeited, and that there’s also a thing called progression in justification and sonship.

    * There is a transition between ch 4 and ch 5 from “what has happened” to “live in this way.”

    Yes, but this proves nothing, since the Catholic view of justification is such that justification is broad enough to incorporate “living this way.” So your argument contains within it a view of justification that I do not share.

    You may interpret these differently, of course. But to get justification-as-ongoing-event in Galatians, you must import the idea from somewhere. It’s not in the language of the text.

    Yeah, but to get imputation of alien righteousness in Jesus, Acts, Peter, John, James, Hebrews, or 11 of Paul’s letters, you have to import it from Galatians or Romans.

    Plus, I said this at the end of my last comment to you:

    The living faith that I spoke of above is what Paul says Abraham exhibited in Rom. 4 (and as is clear from the end of the chapter, his faith was anything but passive and non-contributory). Abraham clearly had justifying faith in Gen. 12 (else Hebrews 11 severely misinterpreted the significance of his leaving Ur and striking out for a land that God would afterwards show him). Abraham was explicitly declared righteous in Gen. 15:6 (“he believed God, and his faith was counted as righteousness”). But James cites that very passage from Gen. 15:6 to describe the “justification” that Abraham received in Gen. 22, when the patriarch’s “faith was active along with his works” (which sounds a bit like “faith working through love”!). And on top of all this, both Jesus and Paul speak of a final “justification” on the last day (both in unequivocally soteriological contexts).

    So no, according to the Bible, justification is not “once and done.”

    Gotta bounce. I’ll check back in tomorrow after I roll out of bed.

  27. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 27, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Jason, very briefly, you gotta keep your eye on the ball.

    The question I was tackling was, Does Galatians provide evidence for the Catholic position?

    It is not enough to show that Galatians is consistent with the Catholic position. Galatians is “consistent” with pastafarianism if we first assume that “faith” means “noodles.” Being consistent with X is weak, weak, weak.

    And my point is that Galatians does not provide that evidence. The only kind of justification that Paul talks about as justification is the once-and-done justification that is by faith, makes us inheritors, grants us forgiveness, and gives us the Spirit.

    Does he go on to speak of life in the Spirit? Yes. If we call that “ongoing justification” (or “noodles”), do we arrive at a consistent system? Possibly so. But to get there, we have to bring it in from the outside.

    My point, then, is that Galatians is not the passage that pushes one to the Catholic understanding, not if one is thinking straight. The account of your remarkable transformation should not be, “well, I read Galatians and that pushed me over the edge.” That would be evidence of poor reasoning.

    The same criticism applies to Bryan’s arguments. Could we read 3.27 as straight-up baptismal regeneration? Yeah, we could read it that way. But not from evidence in the text.

    Now, your point is that imputation stands in the same relationship, and I can see that point since Paul doesn’t use the word “impute” here.

    I’m able to argue for the concept being present without the word, but I just don’t have time at this time. I’m sorry. :(. I’m hoping others will take the baton here.

    On the structure, you need to read my argument more carefully. The “hinge” section properly belongs to both sections, since the material overlaps both sections. Your charge of arbitrariness is not warranted.

    Peace,
    Jeff

  28. Wide Reader said,

    August 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I think I can resolve all this. I picked up a free copy of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Catholicism” today at the public library, plus a copy of The Catholic Catechism. I’ll check back in when I have the answers.

    “Oh c’mon guys, it’s so simple, maybe you need a refresher course. It’s all ball bearings these days.”

  29. Wide Reader said,

    August 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Might it be possible that when your Catechism is over 2000 entries long that there might be a few logical inconsistencies in your theology? Perhaps we should extend the same definition of “materiality” that a Big 4 auditing firm would grant to a similarly large, well-seasoned, global enterprise? The RCC is kind of the Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, or Wal-Mart of the religious world.

  30. August 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Reader, I want you to apply that fetzer valve with some three-in-one oil and some gauze pads.

  31. August 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Looks like a funny movie!

    Hey, I don’t think they want me commenting anymore at C2C. I should leave them alone. But my point that I think got deleted, was that, after talking about The Matt 13:8, I told them they’re missing something, as regards, Justification. From Eph. 2, it’s clear that the gradation concept that is being shown there, is not in fact, how we view justification. Jesus doesn’t score 100, Chevy Chase an 80, and Andrew a 40. Rather, Jesus gets a 100, and Andrew and Chevy get zeros. Precisely because we are dead. But GOD, that’s the key verse in Eph 2. God makes us 100 – imputed righteousness, people.

    Sorry, this will make no sense. So go look at C2C, if interested, and see my exchange with JJ. I think it’s clear where the difference lies, and read BC’s comments on Ferguson.

    Maybe we’re getting somewhere?

    Back to my cave, with John Owen,
    Andrew

  32. Wide Reader said,

    August 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    “Novelty teeth, 49 cents?!”

  33. August 27, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Jeff C., I second what you are saying. It is doing theology in reverse to ask “what paradigm can fit here” rather than deduce what the text actually establishes.

    And, yes, it is exegetically illegitimate to predicate of justification that which Paul predicates of the Christian life in his letter fo the Galatians. We can fully affirm the role of sound systematic theology and yet still acknowledge that this is a fallacy.

  34. Jason Loh said,

    August 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Jason re at #26 said:
    “So no, according to the Bible, justification is not “once and done.”

    Where does it say in the Bible that initial justification is the basis for the Christian’s final justification — that is (taking my cue from Bryan’s explanation over at C2C re Imputation and Paradigms: A Reply to Nicholas Batzig) where in the Bible is there a distinction between justification as righteousness and justification as merit?

    And … isn’t the following para …

    “St. Paul is not saying that Christ acts within him the way a demon acts in a demon-possessed person, such that the person is not freely consenting, and the evil spirit moves the person’s body the way a puppeteer moves a puppet. That would be monergism. Nor is Christ working through St. Paul a case where each provides a portion that adds up to the whole. Rather, the work is both fully St. Paul’s (“I worked harder”) and fully Christ’s, because St. Paul is freely participating in the work of Christ. Grace does not destroy nature, but perfects and elevates it. So St. Paul’s entire natural faculties and freedom are entirely preserved as he is elevated into participation with the life and operation of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. (re#213, Imputation and Paradigms: A Reply to Nicholas Batzig) …

    a grotesque caricature of the Reformed and Lutheran — IOW, the Protestant Reformation understanding of monergism? I’m “baffled” as to how Bryan could construe monergism in that manner given that he was once Reformed.

  35. Bryan Cross said,

    August 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Jason Loh, (re: #34)

    It would be a “grotesque caricature of the Reformed and Lutheran … understanding of monergism” if I had said that it was supposed to represent the Reformed and Lutheran understanding of monergism.

    When I say that St. Paul is not saying x, please don’t assume I mean that Reformed and Lutheran people believe x. When I say that St. Paul is not saying x, what I mean is that St. Paul is not saying x.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  36. Jason Loh said,

    August 28, 2012 at 10:53 am

    ” … that is (taking my cue from Bryan’s explanation over at C2C re Imputation and Paradigms: A Reply to Nicholas Batzig) where in the Bible is there a distinction between justification as righteousness and justification as merit?”

    Looks like I may have jump the gun here. OK, let me try again. I think what Bryan is saying over at C2C re Imputation and Paradigms: A Reply to Nicholas Batzig, particularly the most recent posts) is that initial justification equals infused righteousness (agape paradigm) but final justification combines both infused righteousness and merit — infused righteousness is dependent on merit for its increase or growth, and in turn merit is dependent on infused righteousness for its continuity. Both are “co-efficient” — they affect one another.

    Bryan says that: “[C]onceiving justification through this framework confuses merit with righteousness. God the Father has no merit (who would He merit from?), but He is righteous. Therefore merit and righteousness are not the same. Adam was created with sanctifying grace and agape, and thus was already righteous (see “Lawrence Feingold on Original Justice and Original Sin“), but had no merit. God gave him an opportunity to merit. Conceiving of merit as righteousness per se leads to the list-paradigm

    But doesn’t the very concept of “merit” another example of the list-paradigm since it is never fulfilled perfectly in this life time (by the Christian no less)?

    IOW, initial and final justification is a combination of agape and list paradigms?

  37. Jason Loh said,

    August 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Bryan,

    So which monergism would you be referring to??

  38. Bryan Cross said,

    August 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Jason L (re: #37)

    So which monergism would you be referring to??

    The one I described in comment #213 of that thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  39. Jason Loh said,

    August 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Bryan,

    I quoted from #213 … so Protestant monergism is a variation of demon-possession “monergism”?

  40. Jason Loh said,

    August 28, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I suppose the latter part in my question directed to Jason is still valid, namely: Where in the Bible is there a distinction between justification as righteousness and justification as merit?

    So being righteous is not enough, one must also act righteous to attain final justification. But this implies the priority of “do-ing” over “be-ing” – isn’t this the list paradigm, or least a variation thereof?

  41. Jason Loh said,

    August 28, 2012 at 11:49 am

    To quote Andrew Buckingham (re Imputation and Paradigms: A Reply to Nicholas Batzig, see #214): The agape paradigm results in the bifurcatation of grace … the Person (“Bei-ing) and Work (“Do-ing”) of Christ is separated whereas the patristic understanding is that the “Person is the Work” and the “Work is the Person” (on the basis that Person represents “infused righteousness” and “merit” roughly correspond to the Work). The God-Man ends up as Saviour Who saves by His example and Who Exemplifies by saving which means that He is the Exemplar first and then only Saviour. This has christological construal in practice has trinitarian implications for it presupposes Modalism/ Sabelianism where the “attributes” or properties and operations/ energies have the same logical status as Persons (notwithstanding both are equally deity) which means that the distinction between the two within the ordo theologiae is notional rather than real. of course, there is the problem “extrincism” all over again (in addition to the list paradigm charge, this is also ironic given the common Roman Catholic accusation of Protestantism as guilty of “extrincism”) — that is the relationship between merit and righteousness, Uncreated Grace and created grace.

  42. August 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Wow, Jason. Thanks. I might also add, that I was helped along by an Eastern Orthodox priest, John Anthony McGuckin, on questions of Christology. I found this book to be one of the most illuminating sources available, with regards Hypostatic Union:

    http://www.svspress.com/saint-cyril-of-alexandria-and-the-christological-controversy/

    I’m just a golfer, but for some reason, this one really “takes the cake,” IMHO.

    Peace.

  43. Jason Loh said,

    August 29, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Thanks for the kind words, Andrew. The expression is somewhat convoluted and woolly but the idea is there … somewhere :-D

  44. Jason Loh said,

    August 29, 2012 at 4:42 am

    Yes, I find that EO triadology and christology has much to teach us Protestants … we don’t have to buy into their teaching on theosis (which seems like theological fad these days even amongst Lutherans) but the distinctions “within” (for lack of a better term) the Trinity are real and *absolute* — person is absolute and essence cannot be “conceived” apart from persons. IOW, there is no “essence” prior to or behind persons which is what the pope (unity) is vis-a-vis bishops (plurality) … I for one “recoil” from such a “manifestation” in Roman ecclesiology.

  45. August 29, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Yeah, I have a lot to learn. You are welcome. I purchased, ‘The Holy Trinity’ by Robert Letham, and I have been meaning to get into that. I listened to a lecture or two by Letham in the audio section of http://www.wts.edu. Thank you for the pointers. Peace. AB

  46. August 29, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Author of blog post:

    I’m a newb, who can’t really piece my systematics fully into one ball of wax…but regardless…

    The whole system of works, mentioned in your final paragraph remind me of the lectures by Sinclair Ferguson, on the Marrow Controversy. It seems with matters here on GB lately, we have men promoting a type of works righteousness. Legalism, so to speak. I would highly encourage any Ferguson fan out there to give these three lectures a whirl:

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakerWithinSource=&subsetCat=&subsetItem=&mediatype=&includekeywords=&keyword=Dr.%5ESinclair%5EB.%5EFerguson&keyworddesc=Dr.+Sinclair+B.+Ferguson&currsection=sermonsspeaker&AudioOnly=false&SpeakerOnly=true&keywordwithin=marrow+controversy&x=0&y=0

    Gotta run,
    Andrew

  47. August 30, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Ronald Fung’s commentary on Galatians reflects the same or similar interpretive approach as Calvin and Luther.

    …the full expression “justified by faith,” which might have been expected [in 3:5], is lacking. This lack is perhaps to be explained by the fact that the thought of vv. 5f. relates not only to the initial act of justification but extends to the believer’s subsequent life as well. [my emphasis - DG]

    He continues

    Union with Christ Jesus (literally being “in Christ Jesus”), says Paul, makes circumcision and the want of it matters of no religious importance; they are, indeed, totally irrelevant in the realm of the Christian life.

    and

    Paul is once more clearing his doctrine of this allegation [that his doctrine of justification by faith encourages sin- DG] by pointing to the nature of faith as operating through love; his thought seems to have glided from the believer’s justification to his subsequent Christian existence, which is characterized by this “expressing-itself-through-love” faith. Just as earlier Paul replied to the charge by bringing justification in Christ into relation with the new life of union with Christ (2:17, 20), so here his rejoinder presents justification by faith in inseparable connection with a life of love.

    and

    Thus a proper understanding of the phrase “faith active in love” throws light on the relation between justification and the new life in the Spirit, permitting the conclusions (a) that justification by faith is experientially coincident with the beginning of new life in the Spirit and (b) that, in view of the logical sequence “justification, adoption, receiving of the Spirit” we saw earlier, justification is logically prior to the new life in the Spirit.

  48. September 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    I agree with point #3…. I too would not be attracted to Rome.

    But that said the historical questions would loom over my conscience. Without Sola Scriptura, the only options seem to be Rome or Constantinople.

    At that point I would probably (to be honest) struggle with being a Christian at all. There would be no standard upon which to rest and I would be left wondering why God created a religious system doomed to fail, irreformable (again assuming no SolaScrip) and unable to clearly elaborate the oracular nature of His Word.

    If I were to wander down Stellman’s road, a conversion to Rome would be followed by an ultimate apostasy.

  49. Darlene said,

    September 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Andrew Buckingham: You said, “There’s a reason Machen’s last words were, ‘I’m so thankful for the Active Obedience of Christ. There’s no hope without it.’

    Could you (or someone else here), elaborate on this a bit further? As an Orthodox (Eastern) Christian, I (we) don’t believe we earn our salvation either. However, such language is not used within the Orthodox understanding.

    Grace and peace to you.

  50. Andrew Buckingham said,

    September 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Darlene,

    I’m happy to elaborate, why, personally, I found peace when I understood imputation of active obedience (IAOC).

    Not only do I not earn my salvation, but the benefits of Christ’s work are credited to my account. Its like, as a pastor said, I show up at the bank, and they tell me that Jesus deposited $1 mil to my account.

    His active obedience is mine, his law keeping, mine. I am clothed by his righteousness. Whiteness.

    Blessings,
    Andrew

  51. Trent said,

    September 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Darlene,
    Being quite ignorant of EO Theology, how is salvation in your view? From what little I have read of the EO and Catholic traditions, I am content with the fact that it seems that Protestant theology has it right and glorifies God in soteriology more.

  52. Darlene said,

    September 27, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Trent: I just noticed your comment early this morning. As it is late and the subject of soteriology is quite profound, I will hold off from giving an answer just now. However, Orthodoxy would begin by saying that salvation is by grace through faith. But of course that needs to be expounded upon.

    You said, “I am content with the fact that it seems that Protestant theology has it right and glorifies God in soteriology more.”

    If you are “quite ignorant of EO Theology” as you say, then how can you make such a statement? Your presuppositions have already inhibited you from the start. Nonetheless, if you have a sincere interest, I am willing to converse with you on the subject.

    Blessings in Christ Jesus


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