Complaint Sent by Hedman et al to the SJC

Here is the text of the complaint in full. It is important to read this carefully, because it provides the context for the prosecutor’s brief, which will be shortly following.

Complaint

To Dr. Roy Taylor, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America.

And now, this fourteenth day of May, A.D. 2012, comes RE Gerald Hedman and complains against the action of Pacific Northwest Presbytery on April 27, 2012 in denying the complaint of October 18, 2011, RE Wesley Witt versus Pacific Northwest Presbytery, in connection with the trial of TE Peter Leithart on June 3-4, 2011, and in support of said complaint sets forth the following reasons:

Whereas it is the obligation of teaching elders to uphold in their teaching the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards (BCO 21-5.2), and;

Whereas presbyteries are charged to “condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the Church” (BCO 13-9.f), and;

Whereas, the same or similar views taught by Pelagius and Celestius on final justification, on perseverance, on law and grace, and on the imputation of sin and righteousness were condemned as heresy by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., and;

Whereas, the same or similar views were opposed by the Protestant Reformers when taught by the Roman Catholic Church and denominated as Pelagianism by Calvin, Luther, Melancthon and other Reformers in the sixteenth century, and;

Whereas, the same or similar views when taught by Albert Barnes, Charles Finney and others in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America in the nineteenth century resulted in heresy trials denominated as the “Pelagian” trials, and;

Whereas the Standing Judicial Commission of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America ruled on March 5, 2010 that PNWP erred “in its handling of the Reports of the PNWP Study Committee appointed to examine Leithart’s fitness to continue as a PCA teaching elder” and sustained the complaint which was brought against the presbytery, and;

Whereas the Standing Judicial Commission further directed Pacific Northwest Presbytery in March of 2010 that they may counsel TE Leithart “that the views set forth above constitute error that is injurious to the peace and purity of the church”; that they may offer him “pastoral advice on how to recant or make reparations for those views”; that they may counsel him that “he is free to take timely steps toward affiliation with some other branch of the visible church that is consistent with his views”; or, that failing any of the above, they “shall take steps to comply with its obligation under BCO 31-2”, and;

Whereas PNWP did not counsel TE Leithart that this views “constitute error that is injurious to the peace and purity of the church”, and;

Whereas TE Leithart at the October 2010 meeting of PNWP declined to recant of his views or make reparations for them, and;

Whereas TE Leithart at the October 2010 meeting of PNWP informed the body that he would not transfer his credentials out of the PCA, and;

Whereas PNWP indicted TE Leithart on January 17, 2011; received his not guilty plea on January 31, 2011; and conducted a trial on June 3-4, 2011 (the results were sealed until October 7, 2011) which resulted in a judgment that he was innocent of all charges, and;

Whereas, PNWP’s Standing Judicial Commission deliberated upon and denied the complaint of October 18, 2011, and;

Whereas, Pacific Northwest Presbytery upheld the court’s Standing Judicial Commission’s decision on April 27, 2012, and;

Whereas TE Leithart continues to promiscuously teach and publish doctrines in flagrant contradiction of the Westminster Standards, to wit:

1) TE Leithart teaches a doctrine of baptism which contradicts the Westminster Standards and Scripture by attributing to the sacrament of baptism saving benefits such as regeneration, union with Christ, and adoption. Water baptism, according to Leithart, assures:


Those who are members of the church [that they] stand righteous before God, are holy, and are sons because they are members of the body inseparably joined to the Son of God, who is the righteous and holy Son…. Membership in the visible church involves us in marriage to Christ. We are members of his body as much as a bride is a part of her husband’s flesh. 

Again, Leithart says:

 
The baptized is made a member of the family of the Father … [and] branded as a sheep of Christ’s flock. All that is gift. All this the baptized is not only offered, but receives. All this he receives simply by virtue of being baptized.

Yet, the Westminster Standards teach that the efficacy of baptism or the saving benefits received through baptism are only for those who are true recipients of grace.


The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to the moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of the ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will. (WCF 28.6). 

These saving benefits are not for all the baptized, but only “to such as that grace belongeth unto.” Such people are those to whom the “the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost.”

TE Leithart teaches that these benefits of salvation belong, at least for a period of time, to everyone who is baptized. He teaches that through being united to Christ in baptism:


We enter into the new life of the Spirit, receive a grant of divine power, are incorporated into Christ’s body, and die and rise again with Christ. In the purification of baptism, we are cleansed of our ‘former sins’ and begin to participate in the divine nature and the power of Jesus’ resurrection, being made “new creations in the deepest possible sense,” being “born again as a ‘son of the house.” 

These benefits of water baptism are not for adults only, but also belong to infants who are baptized, according to Leithart. He says that the infant who receives the “justifying and sanctifying washing” of baptism becomes a son of God and “the sonship conferred by baptism is not ‘external’ to our basic identity but constitutive of it.” Additonally, baptism, Leithart says:

 
Also confers the arrabon of the Spirit, and in this sense too is a ‘regenerating’ ordinance. There can be no ‘merely social’ membership in this family.

There are obvious problems with Leithart’s views. First, how can baptism be a ‘regenerating’ ordinance without actually conferring the never ending new birth of the Scripture? Leithart has turned the matter completely around. He says all these benefits flow from water baptism, including the new birth. Yet, Shorter Catechism Question and Answer #31, says:

 
Q. What is effectual calling? A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel. (Bold added for emphasis).

According to the Westminster Standards, the new birth is the result of God’s effectual calling. Westminster Confession of Faith 10.1 describes this renewal of the will:

 
All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; in enlightening their minds spiritually to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh>; renewing their wills</strong, and, by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace. (Bold added for emphasis).

The new birth is often in Scripture described as taking away the old heart or the heart of stone and giving a new heart or a heart of flesh (Cf. Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:5-11). The Confession makes it clear that this new birth is the result of the Word and Spirit. Water baptism is never mentioned with respect to the new birth. Thus, Leithart’s view that water baptism effects the new birth contradicts the Westminster Standards. The answer to Larger Catechism Question # 67 teaches the same thing about the ministry of the Word and Spirit with respect to the new birth.

The Westminster Standards also make it clear that the elect, and only the elect, are so effectually called. Larger Catechism Question and Answer # 68 says:


Q. Are the elect, and they only, effectually called? A. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called; although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the word, and have some common operations of the Spirit; who, for their willful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ. 

Thus, the Westminster Standards leave no room for someone to hold to Leithart’s view that water baptism imparts the new birth “in the deepest possible sense.”

Second, how can all those who are water baptized become “new creations in the deepest possible sense”, and yet lose that status? If they are born again in the deepest possible sense, in what sense are those born again who persevere unto everlasting life? Leithart is left with two possible responses. Either he can say that those who are saved for eternity are born again in the exact same way as everyone who is water baptized (the result of that answer would be that the difference between the saved and the lost is all in the power of man); or, Leithart can answer that the saved experience an even deeper sense in which they are born again, which would make his words superfluous in the extreme. As noted below, Leithart chooses the first answer and, thus, makes man’s will- not God’s grace- the ultimate determiner of salvation. Such a view is in blatant contradiction to the Westminster Standards which teach consistently that it is God’s almighty power alone which makes us to differ.

Third, how can all who are baptized be righteous, holy, justified, sanctified, regenerated, sons of God, receive the arrabon of the Spirit and yet many of them are not even believers? Leithart answers these questions in the following way:

 
These benefits of baptism, however, belong, finally only to those who respond in God’s grace in faith; there are some who are made sons by baptism who fall away. (Judgment and Reasoning of the Standing Judicial Commission of Pacific Northwest Presbytery, October 7, 2011, p. 11).

Leithart’s answer raises even more questions. How can someone who is baptized by water receive all these benefits of Christ, including the new birth, as Leithart alleges, and not even be a believer? He cannot. Where do the Westminster Standards teach that saving faith and perseverance can be separated from the other saving benefits of Christ? They do not.

In the trial testimony, Leithart admitted under cross-examination that he had changed his earlier position, which was that everyone who is baptized receives everything that Christ has to offer. His reason was that:

 
There are obvious gifts that the elect receive… that don’t go to every baptized person. Perseverance was the obvious one. (Trial testimony, page 228).

Yet, the Westminster Standards connects perseverance with acceptance, calling and sanctification (WCF 17:1), which Leithart says are benefits every baptized person receives. The answer to Shorter Catechism Question # 36 (What are the benefits which in this life accompany or flow from justification, adoption, or sanctification?) says:

 
The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end. (Bold added for emphasis).

Perseverance is a benefit which all those who are justified, adopted, and sanctified receive according to the Westminster Standards. Thus, Leithart’s position contradicts the Westminster Standards. It is obvious why Leithart changed his position concerning perseverance. If every person baptized by water also received perseverance in addition to all the other benefits of Christ then every person baptized by water would also be eternally saved.

In the trial testimony Leithart stated that his views on the benefits of Christ covered Scripture truths which the Westminster Standards do not address. There are certainly areas of truth which are not addressed by the WCF. Yet, Leithart did not show from Scripture that everyone who is baptized receives all the benefits of Christ’s grace. Nor, did he show the difference between the benefits supposedly received by everyone who is baptized and the benefits which belong to those who are saved. What passage of Scripture shows the difference between the “justifying and sanctifying washing” which Leithart says every baptized person receives and the “justifying and sanctifying washing” which only true believers receive? The fact is that these distinctions are simply the product of Leithart’s fertile, but improperly informed mind. They are not taught by the Scriptures.

Leithart also stated in the trial that his own presupposition concerning baptism is that every passage which speaks of it is speaking about water baptism unless it states otherwise. When questioned by the defense, Leithart said that Calvin took the view that Romans 6 was speaking about water baptism (Trial transcript, p, 227). Yet, that was either an ingenuous or disingenuous misstatement of the truth. Calvin actually takes the opposite view; that baptism refers to God’s spiritual work in making believers new creatures in Christ. Commenting on Romans 6:3, 4, Calvin says:

 
It is not a washing alone, but also the mortification and putting to death of the old man, which is there set forth… Baptism means that being dead to ourselves, we may become new creatures… It is irrelevant to argue that this power is not apparent in all the baptized, for Paul, because he is speaking to believers, connects the reality and the effect with the outward sign in his usual manner (John Calvin, The Epistles of Paul to the Romans and to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973), 122-123).

Thus, Calvin’s view is just the opposite of Leithart’s view on Romans 6:3, 4. Calvin teaches that Paul is not speaking to everyone who is baptized, but to true believers. Therefore, says Calvin, Paul “connects the reality and the effect with the outward sign.” This is an example of TE Leithart trying to claim that his views have support among reformed scholars from the past when in fact his claim is repudiated by the views of Calvin.

Calvin’s view on baptism is made even clearer in his commentary on Jeremiah 9:26:

 
Hence the prophet says, that though they had the visible symbol in the flesh, they were yet uncircumcised in heart, and ought therefore to be classed with the nations. We see how sharply he reproves them; for God cares not for the external symbol, but regards the chief thing, the circumcision of the heart. It is a common thing with Moses and the Prophets to call an unrenewed heart, uncircumcision, and to say that the people are uncircumcised in heart: for circumcision, while an evidence of free salvation in Christ, at the same time initiated the Jews into the worship, and service of God, and proved the necessity of a new life; it was in short a sign both of repentance and of faith. When, therefore, the Jews presented only the sign, they were justly derided by Moses and the Prophets; for they seemed as though they sought to pacify God by a thing of nought, without regarding the end. The same is the case now when we boast of baptism alone; and are at the same time destitute of repentance and faith; our boasting alone is absurd and ridiculous. And hence Paul calls the external rite, when the sign separated from its reality and substance, the letter of circumcision; and on the other hand he calls that the true circumcision, which is in secret and in the spirit. We may say the same of baptism,- that the literal baptism avails hypocrites nothing, for they receive only the naked sign; and therefore we must come to the spirit of baptism, to the thing itself; for the interior power is renovation, when our old man is crucified in us, and when we rise again with Christ into newness of life (Bold added for emphasis. John Calvin, A Commentary on Jeremiah, Volume One (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1989), 507-508).

The teaching of Leithart is that water baptism conveys the very thing signified which differs from saving grace only because it does not last or does not produce fruit. As Leithart says:

 
Some are united to Christ yet do not persevere. During the time they are branches in the vine, they do receive benefits from Christ through the Spirit and may enjoy real, personal, and deep communion with Jesus for a time. Yet, their relationship with Christ is not identical to the relationship of the elect. Put it this way: Some are united to Christ as members of the bride but are headed for divorce; others are united and headed for consummation.”

Leithart continues by saying that:

 
Everyone who is baptized—every one—is brought into the body of Christ, ordained to be a priest before God, married to Jesus, and brought into the family of the Father, into the circle of God’s personal favor—everyone who is baptized is shown favor simply by the fact of their being baptized… [yet] that favor does not last, or it does not produce fruit, without faith. Only those who respond in faith fulfill their priestly role rightly, persevere in the marriage covenant with Christ, stay in the family, remain in the circle of God’s favor.

The failure of TE Leithart’s views on baptism is that he does not properly distinguish between the sign and the things signified; between what men can do and what God alone does. A minister can apply the water of baptism, but only God can renew the will and cause a person to be born again. A minister can baptize with water, but the saving benefits of Christ are reserved only for those who are effectually called, and none other according to the Westminster Standards.

2) TE Leithart teaches a view of the covenant of works/covenant of grace which is contrary to the Westminster Standards. Leithart says:

 
We do have the same obligation that Adam (and Abraham, and Moses, and David and Jesus) had, namely, the obedience of faith. And, yes, covenant faithfulness is the way of salvation, for the “doers of the law will be justified” at the final judgment. (Prosecution’s Brief, page 8). (Bold added for emphasis).

Leithart also wrote:


That the differences between Adamic and post-lapsarian covenants are not at a “soteriological” level, but at the level of covenant administration. (Prosecution’s Brief, p. 8). 

Leithart, therefore, obliterates the necessary distinctions between law and grace; the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. The Westminster Standards connect the law which Adam was responsible to obey in the garden with the law given on Mount Sinai:


God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all his posterity, to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endowed him with power and ability to keep it. This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them, as well as to others (WCF 19.1,2a, 5a). 

TE Leithart, thus, contradicts both the Westminster Standards and the Scriptures (cf. Galatians 3:10-14) in teaching that “covenant faithfulness is the way of salvation.” The Westminster Standards teach that no person is saved by a covenant of works, but by grace. If we are saved by covenant faithfulness, then we are saved by works and by law-keeping, whether Leithart realizes it or not. Paul specifically condemns trusting in circumcision which makes “Christ… of no benefit to you” and places you “under obligation to keep the whole Law.” (Galatians 5:2, 3). Paul contrasts such covenant faithfulness with salvation through faith in Christ.

3) TE Leithart teaches a view of the imputation of Christ which contradicts the Westminster Standards and the Scripture. TE Leithart in his views and teachings rejects the teaching of the Westminster Standards that the obedience and satisfaction of Christ are imputed to the believer (WCF VIII.5; WCF XI.3; Rom. 4:1-8; 5:17-18).

The Westminster Standards could not be plainer about the fact that what is imputed to the sinner in justification is the work of Christ:

 
Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies… by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them (WCF 11.1).

Yet TE Leithart explicitly denies this teaching when he writes:

 
There is no “independent” imputation of the active obedience of Christ, nor even of the passive obedience for that matter; we are regarded as righteous, and Christ’s righteousness is reckoned as ours, because of our union with Him in His resurrection. What is imputed is the verdict, not the actions of Jesus. (“More From Ward,” emphasis added).

While there is no dispute that some of the Westminster Divines rejected the language of the imputation of Christ’s active obedience, there has never been any debate about whether his passive obedience is so imputed to us. Yet TE Leithart insists that not only is he unsure about the concept of imputation in general (see the evidence for Charge #3 in the Indictment of the Leithart Trial Documents), but also that the actions of Jesus, whether active or passive, are not imputed to sinners.

From a theological standpoint, what is problematic about TE Leithart’s denial that the actions of Jesus are imputed to sinners, and his insistence instead that his righteousness is credited to us via our union with him, is that in this scheme the sinner is never counted as a law-keeper, neither can he said to be credited with any positive righteousness (as though man’s only problem were his sin, and not additionally his deprivation of positive righteousness). Rather, he only shares in a verdict pronounced over the Son by the Father at the resurrection, and this participation in the Father’s verdict comes by virtue of a baptismal union that TE Leithart unequivocally states can be lost through lack of covenant obedience. Furthermore, Paul teaches that the result of the second Adam’s obedience and satisfaction is that an “abundance of grace” and a “free gift of righteousness” is granted to all who trust in Jesus (Rom. 5:17-19). Furthermore, the “one Man’s righteousness” in verse 18 is parallel to “the one Man’s obedience” in verse 19, meaning that the free gift that the believer receives is nothing less than the right action or conduct of Christ. That which results from Jesus’ federal headship, therefore, is not merely his resurrection verdict being shared by those provisionally united to him, but the believer actually receiving, as a free gift, the imputation of the merit of Christ’s righteous conduct.

4) TE Leithart teaches a view of justification and sanctification which directly contradicts the Westminster Standards. The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 11:2, 4 says:

 
Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet it is not alone in the person justified, but it is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.”

The answer to Larger Catechism Question # 73 says:

 
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 receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

The answer to Shorter Catechism Question 33 says:

 
Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone.

TE Leithart affirmed during the trial that justification is a once-for-all judicial act and sanctification is a process of growth and holiness (Trial Transcript 6.11.21-25). Yet, he also teaches that there is a kind of justification for all who are baptized when God declares them to be right with Him and accepted by Him into His family. This justification which is the result of water baptism cannot be the once-for-all judicial act, though, because not all the baptized endure to the end so as to attain salvation, as Leithart admitted.

Leithart secondly teaches that those who believe in Christ are justified. According to his views, the justification which results from saving faith also cannot be the once-for-all judicial act he professes to believe for reasons which will follow in this paragraph. Leithart thirdly teaches that there is a final justification at the final judgment. This is the only “justification” according to Leithart’s views which can be a once-for-all judicial act. If the justification of the believer when he comes to saving faith was the once-for-all judicial act, then there would be no need for a final justification. Final necessarily means that everything which preceded it was not final nor was it “once-for-all.” Thus, Leithart’s views require that only his theory of ‘final justification’ can be the once-for-all judicial act he says he affirms. Such a view is out of accord with the Westminster Standards.

Leithart’s view of final justification is in complete contradiction to the Westminster Standards and the Scriptures. Neither the Bible nor the Westminster Standards ever mention a final justification. That term is a product of the Federal Vision theology to which Leithart holds, but is not taught anywhere in the constitution of the PCA. WCF 33 teaches about the final judgment, but the phrase ‘final justification’ is nowhere mentioned in the Westminster Standards nor is it mentioned in the Scripture. The final judgment is not a once-for-all judicial act which determines the eternal salvation of anyone. The final judgment is for “the manifestation of the glory of his mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect: and of his justice, in the damnation of the reprobate” (WCF 33:2).

The salvation of the elect is guaranteed by God’s eternal decree and the application of salvation to them through the work of the Holy Spirit- including effectual calling, saving faith and justification by faith alone. The salvation of the elect is not in suspense until the final judgment, as Leithart asserts, at which time they are finally justified on the basis of their whole life.

Leithart’s view of final justification also requires him to believe that sanctification takes place prior to this final justification or not at all. As WCF 13:1 says:

 
They who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them.

Sanctification, according to the Westminster Standards begins with the new birth and continues throughout the whole life of the believer. If the once-for-all judicial act of justification does not happen until the final judgment, then sanctification precedes justification. Yet, the WCF teaches a different ordo salutis in which effectual calling, regeneration, justification and adoption precede sanctification.

The Westminster Standards also connect justification and sanctification to effectual calling- not to water baptism. Effectual calling occurs only once according to the above quote from the chapter on sanctification in the WCF. Regeneration also occurs only once according to the same chapter in the WCF. Since the Westminster Standards additionally state that “those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth” (WCF 11:1) and those who believe are justified when the Holy Spirit “in due time, actually apply Christ unto them” (WCF 11:5), this establishes the only time in which justification can be said to happen according to the constitution of the PCA.

Justification does not happen when a person is baptized by water, according to the Westminster Standards. Justification does not happen at the final judgment, according to the Westminster Standards. Justification happens only at that one time when a person is effectually called and regenerated. Thus, once again, Leithart’s views on justification and sanctification place him in flagrant contradiction of the Westminster Standards.

5) TE Leithart teaches a view of the benefits of Christ which is in flagrant contradiction to the Westminster Standards. First, WCF 13:1 teaches in consistency with the Scripture that effectual calling and regeneration happen only once and are the result of God’s work of grace in the hearts of the elect (see previous paragraph).

The answer to Shorter Catechism Question #32 says:

 
They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, sanctification, and the several benefits, which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.

The answer to Shorter Catechism Question #36 says;

 
The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.

The Westminster Standards set forth a consistent order of salvation and the several benefits which accompany these acts or works of God’s free grace. The graces are effectual calling, justification, adoption and sanctification. The benefits of these graces of God are assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Spirit, increase of grace and perseverance. All these benefits of Christ are given to believers in their effectual calling- not their baptism.

Baptism, according to Shorter Catechism Question #94:

 
Doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

The benefits of the covenant are not applied to all those who are baptized, as Leithart contends, but only to those who are effectually called, truly regenerated, embrace Jesus Christ through saving faith, are justified, adopted and sanctified.

TE Leithart teaches a parallel plan of salvation which begins with baptism. All the graces of Christ and all the benefits of Christ are given to everyone who is baptized, according to his parallel plan (refer to his quotes about the benefits given through baptism in the point 1 above). Yet, he denies that perseverance is given to those who are baptized. Thus, Leithart teaches that this parallel plan of salvation begins with water baptism, not the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit (which is real baptism).

Leithart teaches that water baptism does not confer eternal grace, but rather confers graces which can be lost. He teaches that water baptism confers graces like regeneration which makes all who are baptized “new creations in the deepest possible sense”, but strangely they are not truly new creatures in the Scriptural sense. Does that mean, therefore, that Scriptural regeneration is deeper than the regeneration through water baptism; that the regeneration of saints is not as deep as the regeneration through water baptism; or, that they are both the same? Leithart does not clarify that point. Again, he teaches that water baptism confers all the benefits necessary to salvation, except the one benefit which will prevent them from losing their salvation, perseverance.

TE Leithart says he is not teaching a parallel way of salvation, but the evidence would show that he is either mistaken or confused. Like other people in the federal vision, Leithart has retracted some of his statements and changed his views on various things. At one time, he taught that even perseverance was a benefit given to everyone who is baptized with water. A study committee of PNWP convinced him to change his position on that point. If all those baptized with water were given the grace of perseverance, then that would guarantee their eternal salvation.

In making the difference between these parallel plans of salvation to consist in perseverance, Leithart puts salvation in the hands of man. The difference, according to Leithart, is that one persevered and the other did not. Leithart’s views are confused and dangerous. They are contradictory to the clear teaching of the Westminster Standards which makes the difference to be the grace of God who effectually calls one and not the other. Leithart himself is confused and has not yet reached a resting place in his theological journey. He began his journey by trying to think of a new way to express the statements of the Scripture concerning baptism. Leithart’s views are a new way, but they are contrary to the Westminster Standards.

TE Leithart contends that the benefits of Christ received at baptism concern areas of truth outside the teaching of the Westminster Standards. Is that really true? Are there really temporary benefits, such as justification, sanctification, regeneration, adoption, and others, which can be lost? Leithart originally taught that perseverance was also one of the benefits given to everyone who is baptized. Now, he has retracted that position. Why? Because perseverance would guarantee that all the baptized would be saved. Yet, that could only be true if the perseverance given to all who are baptized is exactly the same as the perseverance given to those who are effectually called. If perseverance is the same grace in both instances, then that means all the other benefits which Leithart alleges are given at water baptism are also the same as those given at effectual calling. That means Leithart is teaching that a person can be truly born again, regenerated by the Spirit of God, and yet lose his salvation. Moreover, it means that the only thing which makes one baptized person differ from another is that some persevere and others do not. Such teaching is clearly and flagrantly out of accord with the Westminster Standards.

Therefore, the undersigned complains that Pacific Northwest Presbytery acted unconstitutionally on April 27, 2012 in denying the October 18, 2011 complaint of RE Wesley Witt versus Pacific Northwest Presbytery, in their adopting the report of the court’s Standing Judicial Commission on October 7, 2011. This egregious and unconstitutional error permits TE Peter Leithart, who is flagrantly out of accord with the Westminster Standards, to teach and publish his false doctrines with impunity. We further complain that this action of PNWP undermines the Westminster Standards and the system of doctrine taught in the Scripture.

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107 Comments

  1. Howard Donahoe said,

    April 24, 2013 at 10:35 am

    The 722-page Record of the Case, including the 400 page trial transcript and the original Compliant, can be found via the Dropbox link below. It also has the 10-page pre-Hearing Briefs from the Complainant and the Presbytery, as well as the SJC Decision in the Case.

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kpzd4mjnptyipkm/ApHiA1kiZ9

  2. CD-Host said,

    April 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

    In reading this.

    1) I think Leithart is not guilty of the 1st charge. As written that charge asserts he preaches that baptisms is saving, a denial of election and that I don’t think he did. This is classic case of overcharging. A fair charge is that he separates covenantal benefits from salvation benefits perhaps.

    2) I think (2) is grossly oversimplifying what happened at Sinai. More than just the ten commandments are delivered. If the charge is going to assert the ten commandments and not the entire ceremonial system is the Sinai revelation than this can be tied to Adam even in a purely dispensationalist system.

    I think the authors don’t understand dispensationalism well enough here. This is another one where I think they are going to be wrong on the facts.

    3) I don’t understand well enough

    4 & 5) Sound like the best arguments. I’d like to hear the defense but those do seem viable.

    If I were Leithart I’d pound away on (1) and (2) and try and get the whole case thrown out on those two.

  3. Jack Bradley said,

    April 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Déjà vu

    I think we’ve seen all this before, as has the SJC.

  4. Tim Harris said,

    April 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    One thing I find confusing.

    If this is all bound up with “the same or similar views taught by Pelagius and Celestius on final justification, on perseverance, on law and grace, and on the imputation of sin and righteousness condemned as heresy by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D” not to mention by Luther, Calvin, and the rest,

    then why did SJC say “he is free to take timely steps toward affiliation with some other branch of the visible church that is consistent with his views”?

    Which branch would that be, that would not come under the same ecumenical condemnation?

  5. Cris Dickason said,

    April 25, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Tim @ #4.

    The point of the instruction or advice that someone “is free to take timely steps toward affiliation with some other branch of the visible church that is consistent with his views” is this: If (in this case) Mr. Leithart indicates self-recognition that his firm convictions are not in accord with those of the PCA, with his original ordination vows, he is free to say so, and initiate leaving the PCA for some body that will not take umbrage at his views.

    This is a recognition that the PCA (the OPC, the Canadian Reformed Federation, etc.) is not in the business of sitting around doling out the labels “True church,” “False church,” etc. Recall the words of the WCF (XXV, 4) “particular churches… are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced…” A person is free to sever ties with the PCA and seek membership (and office) where one’s views are acceptable, without having to be removed by a disciplinary process.

    The inter-church relations boards/committees of most churches do not engage in an active role of grading and labeling all religious entities. No one is more “strict” or cautious about sister-church relationship and inter-church relations than the Canadian Reformed Churches (my home Church and Church Federation for 18 years), but we regularly had to make this point plain: in the desire to recognize and use the true church/false church categories of the Belgic Confession, there is no warrant to sit in judgment as a federation of churches on where everyone else stands on the true/false line. You address persons and groups with which you have an actual contact or reason for evaluation. You exercise caution towards issuing blanket statements one way or the other without a necessary reason.

    Lack of inter-church relationship does not indicate “ecumenical condemnation.” The details of how a Presbytery would word a letter of status or an attestation of (for example) Mr. Leithart’s current/historic standing as ordain might be a little tricky*, but such an option nevertheless exists.

    -=Cris=-

    *the devil is always in the details, eh?

  6. April 25, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    [...] Read the preceding here. [...]

  7. William Scott said,

    April 26, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I’m not FV, nor am I Presbyterian in my beliefs so this is not really my fight. While I question if Leithart’s views are compatible with the WCF I find the charges of pelagianism rather amazing. From the little I’ve heard of Leithart’s beliefs, they appear to be identical to those of Augustine (and Luther and most if not all the great monergists until the time of Calvin) on the issue of God Sovereignly bestowing on some of the non-elect the “gift of faith” while justly withholding the “gift of perseverance in the end” (even as He justly withholds even the “gift of faith” from many non-elect). Augustine (and Luther) distinguish the “elect” (or “elect to glory”) as those who receive (undeservedly) not only the “gift of faith” but also the “gift of perseverance in the end.”

    Just a quick example of Augustine’s position on the non-elect (from his work Rebuke and Grace): “If, however, being already regenerate and justified, he relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say, I have not received, because of his own free choice to evil he has lost the grace of God, that he had received” (Chp 9) and “It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children— whom He has regenerated in Christ— to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also, when to children of another He forgives such wickedness, and, by the bestowal of His grace, makes them His own children.” (Chp 18) http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1513.htm

    Augustine held that many of those who are regenerated and justified later return to the damnable dominion of the unregenerate old man (and the elect who persevere are no better than the non-elect who fall away–the only reason they do not ultimately and justly fall away is that God Sovereignly and mercifully ordains for them to persevere in the end).

    The great monergist Luther likewise speaks innumerable times to the real danger of the regenerate coming under the dominion of sin and driving out saving faith and the indwelling Spirit. One of many examples:
    The apostle refers to this subject in Romans 7: 5, 8, 23, and elsewhere, frequently explaining how, in the saints, there continue to remain various lusts of original sin, which constantly rise in the effort to break out, even gross external vices. These have to be resisted. They are strong enough utterly to enslave a man, to subject him to the deepest guilt, as Paul complains (Rom 7, 23); and they will surely do it unless the individual, by faith and the aid of the Holy Spirit, oppose and conquer them.
    29. Therefore, saints must, by a vigorous and unceasing warfare, subdue their sinful lusts if they would not lose God’s grace and their faith. Paul says in Romans 8, 13: “If ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” In order, then, to retain the Spirit and the incipient divine life, the Christian must contend against himself.

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

    The great Anglican reformer Latimer notes (at the time the Articles and 1552 BCP were being completed and shortly before he was imprisoned for his Protestant faith) that one who falls under dominion of sin: “..loseth the Holy Ghost and the remission of sins ; and so becometh the child of the devil, being before the child of God. For a regenerate man or woman, that believeth, ought to have dominion over sin ; but as soon as sin hath rule over him, he is gone: for she leadeth him to delectation of it, and from delectation to consenting, and so from consenting to the act itself.” [THE SIXTH SERMON, PREACHED ON THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT, 1552, BY MASTER HUGH LATIMER], or as the Homily on Declining from God (Anglican Book of Homilies) says: “…they shall be no longer of his kingdom, they shall be no longer governed by his Holy Spirit, they shall be put from the grace and benefits that they had, and ever might have enjoyed through Christ, they shall be deprived of the heavenly light, and life which they had in Christ, whiles they abode in him: they shall be (as they were once) as men without GOD in this world, or rather in worse taking. And to be short, they shall be given into the power of the devil, which beareth the rule in all them that be cast away from GOD” http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk1hom08.htm

    God Bless.

    p.s. As a believer in the traditional monergistic position on apostasy held by Augustine and Luther I can say that it does not destroy true assurance of Salvation. In fact, I have struggled less with the assurance of Salvation since coming to this position a number of years ago than I did when I was a 5 pt Calvinist, but that’s a discussion for another day.

    p.p.s. It may be another week before I have time to contribute further

  8. William Scott said,

    April 26, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Here’s a link that has the sermon from Latimer I quoted from. http://books.google.com/books?id=EFoJAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

  9. April 26, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    CD – The complaint merely summarizes the case, it doesn’t “make” it conclusively. That’s done in the trial which is in the ROC. In a constitutional case like this, the SJC must consider the entire ROC. By the straight-forward reading of their decision, they did not consider the ROC, only the complaint. That represents a major breach of the SJC’s responsibility as outlined in BCO 39-3.4.

  10. Tim Harris said,

    April 26, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Chris @6,
    “There is no warrant to sit in judgment as a federation of churches on where everyone else stands on the true/false line,”
    the question is not “everyone” but “anyone.”

    In the case that a minister declared for satanism or mormonism, I assume these churches would defrock rather than gentlemanly stepping back to give a chance to “realign.” Or would it even go that far in your opinion?

    I’m not assuming (qua William’s comments) that the charge of pelagianism is sustainable, but just questioning the consequent logic — IF it is pelagianism, THEN do we look the other way and encourage realignment? Is full-bird pelagianism on the fuzzy part of the true/false line?

  11. CD-Host said,

    April 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    @reformedmusings

    I was saying I thought the current complaint was weak, because on points (1) and (2) the facts are on Leithart’s side. I understand the complaint doesn’t make the case but I don’t think there is a makable case on charges (1) and (2). The defense is going to have an easy time with (1).

    Q: Peter Leithart do you believe baptism saves?
    A: No
    Q: Peter Leithart do you believe that an unelected but validly baptized person will go to heaven if he dies immediately after the baptism?
    A: No
    Q: Do you deny the doctrine of election?
    A: No

    etc…

    How do you win on charge (1)?

  12. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Dear William (WA Scott) re #8,

    You’re right. Leithart’s view is not compatible with (Calvin), Calvinism, WCF, etc. Leithart should either leave Presbyterianism and identify with Lutheran Orthodoxy or Anglicanism (not the johnny-come-lately Anglo-Papist variety).

    However, Leithart’s view though compatible with Augustine is different from Luther’s. There are significant differences between Luther and Lutheran Orthodoxy. One important difference is the distinction between theology and proclamation. The language of theology is different from the language of proclamation. Proclamation is I-it-Thou discourse (1st to 2nd person pronouns) whereas theology is always general, universal, abstract 3rd person pronoun talk. Thus, the distinction between the hidden and revealed God — the unpreached and preached God. Luther’s exegesis of Ezekiel 18 and 33 in the Bondage of the Will is a classic case in point.

    One does not infer from the direct personal address of Jehovah to Israel to a general/ universal conclusion. IOW, one does not draw general/ universal principles from proclamation. The unpreached God is unbound and as you say sovereign and omnipotent – so He does what He wills – neither deploring nor takes away death and destruction. OTOH, the preached God as the revealed God as the Crucified One is so proclaimed *for you* here and now in the living present as the final eschatological word. Both theology and proclamation are in perpetual tension and cannot be resolved into a “higher synthesis” paralleling the distinction between Law and Gospel. Simply because the distinctions are not mere conceptual or philosophical distinctions but real, dynamic, existential distinctions — that is, a fact of life.

    So one does not talk about the baptised, “perseverance of the saints” and apostasy in theology the same way as in proclamation.

  13. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Leithart should know, though, that in Lutheran Orthodoxy, apostasy is a mystery (though having its “origin” in the non-elect baptised). I understand FV equates faith with obedience. And *sanctification* in Lutheran Orthodoxy (to its credit as heir to Luther) is *monergistic.*

  14. William Scott said,

    April 27, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Hello Jason and thanks for the posts. I realize this may not have been your point–but I wasn’t intending to say that Leithart’s views are identical to Luther’s (I don’t know that much about Leithart’s views–but I assume they aren’t identical). I’m only saying that as far as the temporary partaking of many non-elect in Salvation is concerned–and consequently on the danger of losing Salvation–Leithart agrees with Augustine and Luther (although some of the in-workings of his understanding are likely distinct). I better get back to work, but perhaps I can continue the discussion when I have time. God bless.

  15. Tim Harris said,

    April 27, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Jason — thanks for those expositions. The more I learn about Luther, the more I am overwhelmed by his genius.

  16. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Dear William,

    Leithart’s views on the baptised are incompatible with Luther. Read the Bondage of the Will.

    Luther is almost alone in his distinction between theology and proclamation. Leithart (and Blessed Augustine) conflate theology and proclamation — flattening out the distinction between the two so that in either case, either God is NOT sovereign and/ or Christ is not BOUND to His PROMISE. That is to say, the PASTORAL care and consequences for the people of God was never ever out of Luther’s sight.

  17. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Dear Tim,

    Yes, Luther was indeed a theological giant which I would say, unparalleled in church history, except Jesus and St Paul (to put it simplistically). Unfortunately even most of his heirs did not follow through all or the inner logic of his theology – which was too radical and revolutionary. In my opinion, doing theology according to “Aristotelian” logic and philosophy as epitomised by Protestant Orthodoxy had the effect of “neutralising” the explosive impact of the Reformation’s “discovery” of justification by faith alone whereby the paradigm is death and resurrection – a DISCONTINOUS *movement* that defies all HUMAN conception of progress as exemplified by Romanism (ala Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics).

  18. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 11:27 am

    If I may add, Luther understood well Romans 9. St Paul explicitly made the distinction between God’s *will* and God’s *word*. The fact that not all “are Israel which are of Israel” is simply because of the “misalignment” between the electing will of God (predestination) and the electing word of God (proclamation).

    For example in Romans 9:6 we find the distinction between the two …

    “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect (*proclamation in the form of promise*). For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel …” (*sovereign predestination as unconditionally willed by God*).

    In both cases, i.e. promise (proclamation) and predestination (theology), the sovereignty of God is upheld.

    Again Leithart and his ilk ignore the distinction between the two — with disastrous consequences for proclamation and theology — in effect undermining and undercutting both simultaneously.

    Distinction is of the essence of Protestant theology.

  19. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 11:33 am

    It is not so much that the promise is “subordinated” to or “subsumed” under predestination or in the case of FV et al the opposite but predestination in the form of the promise, i.e. predestination PROCLAIMED as promise (for you). Thus, one cannot as Leihart and his ilk tries to do underplay or “call off” God’s predestination but the only solution to the Absolute God is absolution to quote Gerhard Forde — the preaching of the forgiveness of sins by the preacher here and now which destroys all human pretenses or contribution.

    The approach adopted by FV does NO comfort whatsoever to believing parents. My advice (although I’m not one) is leave confessional Presbyterianism for confessional Lutheranism.

  20. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Despite their desire to have richer and more catholic understanding of Baptism, Leithart and FV do not properly understand Baptism. Their defective understanding of faith as obedience demonstrates this — simply because Baptism and the bondage of the will (Original Sin) are co-relates … they go hand in hand. Maybe — just maybe Leithart might want to leave for Rome rather … since I understand he’s now a regular contributor to First Things.

  21. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Baptism doesn’t represent “potentiality” … which is then co-related to obedience and conformity to the Law. Baptism (as faith alone) is “actuality” … co-related to FREEDOM from bondage to sin AND the law in its theological (2nd) use.

  22. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Leithart’s (Augustinian) distinction cannot be therefore sustained in light of the freedom of Baptism which is none other than the GOSPEL.

  23. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Frankly, I’m sick and tired of the likes of Leithart staying on in confessional Presbyterianism. Though I’m no longer Reformed, I still get worked up when the integrity of confessional Presbyterianism is undermined from within (even if based on ever so sincere and pastoral intentions) …

    Leithart and the so-called reformed catholics do not understand that our common catholic heritage and so on and so forth is PRECISELY based not on theological principles (the “Protestant principle” as epitomised by justification by faith alone) but FORMS such as creeds, water baptism, Trinitarian formula, etc. etc. whilst having at variance understanding concerning their meaning and significance …

    Such misunderstanding is fatal and grievous in pastoral terms …

  24. Jason Loh said,

    April 27, 2013 at 11:54 am

    When, for example, a Protestant preacher pronounces the absolution, “I forgive you,” it does NOT have the same meaning as when the Roman priest is performing the deed. This is the meaning of the GOSPEL of justification by faith alone — that is the Protestant Reformation was ignited by Luther’s rediscovery of the meaning of the Gospel …

  25. William Scott said,

    April 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Hello Jason, I’m afraid you’re misunderstanding me. I’m simply observing the non-disputable fact that Luther shares Leithart’s belief that the non-elect may partake temporarily in saving grace, and thus that it is possible to fall from grace. I’m not saying that Leithart’s understanding of this issue, let alone his particular understanding of Baptism, is identical to Luther’s (or even Augustine’s for that matter). And while you’re probably not saying this–it certainly was not my intention to defend Leithart’s precise positions on these matters contra Lutheran orthodoxy (esp. since I don’t even know what Leithart’s exact positions are)..

  26. Jason Loh said,

    April 28, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Dear William,

    Luther does not hold to the belief that the non-elect partake temporarily in saving grace. You’re sorely mistaken on this (although you are indubitably correct re St Augustine). You may have confused Luther’s position with Lutheran Orthodoxy (which is essentially the same as Augustine’s though minus double predestinarian and perhaps even limited atonement).

    For a confessional Presbyterian who subscribes to the WCF – and who is a teaching elder to boot – to hold that the non-elect may partake temporarily in saving grace is simply a “disgrace” and “foolishness.” The sooner the likes of Leithart does a Neuhaus the better. I may be wrong on this but I reckon that his empathy is more towards Rome than intra-Protestant traditions.

  27. William Scott said,

    April 28, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Hello Jason, I’ll squeeze in one more post here before going to worship. I agree that Leithart’s positions on the non-elect and falling from grace are not in accord with a straight-forward reading of the WCF. I’m responding, however, to the incorrect charges of pelagian heresy leveled against his belief that the non-elect may temporarily partake in saving grace.

    As for Luther’s position–you’re the first Lutheran I’ve heard argue that Luther did not hold the Augustinian position on the non-elect participating in saving grace. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this point. All my readings of Luther clearly indicate that he held the Augustinian position that many partake only temporarily in saving grace.

    Just one quick example that I have on hand–in his comment on 1 Cor 13:2 “…If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing,” Luther notes his agreement with the proposition that “many begin [i.e. in "true Christian faith"] but do not continue” (even though he doesn’t think it’s the best interpretation of that particular passage):
    “9. A second answer is: Though Paul alludes to the true Christian faith, he has those in mind who have indeed attained to faith and performed miracles with it, but fall from grace through pride, thus losing their faith. Many begin but do not continue. They are like the seed in stony ground. They soon fall from faith. The temptations of vainglory are mightier than those of adversity. One who has the true faith and is at the same time able to perform miracles is likely to seek and to accept honor with such eagerness as to fall from both love and faith.”

    http://www.orlutheran.com/html/mlse1co13.html

    Of course, this understanding of Luther regarding the mere temporary partaking in saving grace by many, is made possible by his belief in the real danger of losing true faith and the Spirit through coming under the dominion of sin.

    Smalcald Articles:
    42] On the other hand, if certain sectarists would arise, some of whom are perhaps already extant, and in the time of the insurrection [of the peasants] came to my own view, holding that all those who had once received the Spirit or the forgiveness of sins, or had become believers, even though they should afterwards sin, would still remain in the faith, and such sin would not harm them, and [hence] crying thus: “Do whatever you please; if you believe, it all amounts to nothing; faith blots out all sins,” etc.—they say, besides, that if any one sins after he has received faith and the Spirit, he never truly had the Spirit and faith: I have had before me [seen and heard] many such insane men, and I fear that in some such a devil is still remaining [hiding and dwelling].

    43] It is, accordingly, necessary to know and to teach that when holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them [they cast out faith and the Holy Ghost]. For the Holy Ghost does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it so that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are [certainly] not present. For St. John says, 1 John 3:9: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, … and he cannot sin. And yet it is also the truth when the same St. John says, 1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

    http://bookofconcord.org/smalcald.php#part3.3.42

    This is probably getting way off-topic, and I better get myself and my wife and my baby out the door for Church.

    God Bless,
    W.A.Scott

  28. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Dear Wliiam,

    Luther is not synoymous with Lutheran Orthodoxy. Even confessional Lutherans concede this fact to a certain extent – one way or another. Please refer to theologians such as the late Gerhard Forde, Jim Nestingen and Steven Paulson.

    Having said this, on Luther’s sermon on 1 Cor 13 that you quoted, I found that Luther said the following:

    7″. We hold, and unquestionably it is true, that it is faith which justifies and cleanses. Rom 1, 17; 10, 10; Acts 15, 9. But IF it justifies and purifies, love MUST be present. The Spirit cannot BUT impart love together with faith. In fact, where true faith is, the Holy Spirit dwells; and where the Holy Spirit is, there MUST be love and every excellence. HOW is it, then, Paul speaks as if faith without love were possible?” Luther then goes on to expound the reasons …

    Having said this, on the quotation from the Smalcald Articles, these do not negate the proposition that the non-elect do not partake of saving grace. Consistent with Luther’s sermon above, the quotation is *against* the idea that it is impossible for the ELECT to sin, and hence “cast out faith and the Holy Ghost.”

    AND yet the elect when sinning does not remain under the dominion of sin. Notice the typical Luther dialectic here — between under original sin AND yet not remaining under original sin. IOW, the simul iustus et peccator.

    “For the HOLY GHOST does NOT permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it (i.e. sin — Original Sin) so that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are [certainly] NOT present. For St. John says, 1 John 3:9: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, … and he cannot sin. And yet it is also the truth when the same St. John says, 1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

    IOW, the reference is to the ELECT (hence the reference to the OT elect whom Luther called ‘holy men’) who may fall into sin and thus “forfeit” faith and the Holy Spirit.”

    Your logic of appealing to the non-elect does not apply here.

  29. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 1:44 am

    May I also refer you to Dr Steven D Paulson’s latest book — “Lutheran Theology” published by Continuum (formerly T& T Clark). One of the critical areas in which Luther differed from his successors was in the ordo salutis. Luther did not hold to an ordo salutis because his thinking was thoroughly *eschatological*. That is, he did not hold to Aristotelian logic when it came to salvation. There is no temporal or logic SEQUENCE is salvation.

    Baptism is eschatological — Baptism is the whole of the Christian life — marking the break between the two in the death of the Old Adam and resurrection of the New Adam. That is the meaning of being taken from Adam and given to Christ. Hence, justification is synonymous with predestination, regeneration, conversion, faith, sanctification and glorification. This in turn PRECLUDES the non-elect partaking of non-saving grace.

    Read Dr Paulson’s section on “Predestination as Pastoral Care.”

    On the distinction between theology and proclamation in Luther, please refer to the Preached God by Gerhard Forde (publisher Luther Quarterly and Eerdmans).

  30. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 1:48 am

    In Bondage of the Will, Luther was a “double predestinarian” (to employ the “anachronistic” term). That he remained so is even acknowledged Romanists not least contemporary popular apologists such as Dave Armstrong and James Swan (All Beggars Reformation). Of course, the majority of confessional Lutherans would dispute that the language of the Bondage of the Will is undeniable; and it is undeniable that Luther claimed the book as his finest …

  31. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Double predestination and the idea that the non-elect can partake of saving grace do not go hand in hand.

    Thus, Leithart’s views on Baptism cannot claim the support of Luther if such occasion arose. That would be wholly disingenous to say the least.

  32. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 1:52 am

    I’m sorry I did not mean to say that James Swan was a Roman apologist. He is a sound Reformed apologist who has a keen interest in Luther research.

  33. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Here’s a quotation from the Bondage of the Will:

    “This asserted truth, therefore, stands and remains invincible – that all
    things take place according to the immutable will of God! which they call the necessity of the consequence. Nor is there here any obscurity or ambiguity. In Isaiah he saith, “My counsel shall stand, and My will shall be done.” (Isa. xlvi. 10.) And what schoolboy does not under- stand the meaning of these expressions, “Counsel,” “will,” “shall be done,” “shall stand?” Section X, The Sovereignty of God.

    The idea that the non-elect can partake of saving grace implies AND presupposes that there is a will or desire of God to save the non-elect. Luther unequivocally reject the idea that the will of God can in any way be frustrated/ overturned OR that the is the antecedent will and consequent will in God. Of course, he did SPECIFICALLY reject the distinction somewhere in his treatise.

    Again:

    “For if you doubt, or disdain to know that God foreknows and wills all things, not contingently, but necessarily and immutably, how can you believe confidently, trust to, and depend upon His promises? For when He promises, it is necessary that you should be certain that He knows, is able, and willing to perform what He promises; otherwise, you will neither hold Him true nor faithful; which is unbelief, the greatest of
    wickedness, and a denying of the Most High God!” (LW 33: 42-43, Bondage of the Will), quoting from the Captivation of the Will (Forde).

    In other words, everything have been “foreordained” — that is, the past, present and future, the beginning, middle and end of everything have been fixed. One cannot divorce the beginning from the end or the middle from the beginning such that the baptismal promise is always either true or false. There is no “middle” temporary, for the time being saving grace. “Saving grace” is ALWAYS and ONLY saving. Otherwise God is not God AND there is no comfort for the people of God.

    If the baptismal promise turns out to be false, it presupposes and implies that the the baptismal promise which is eschatological (whereby the PRE- is SYNONYMOUS with the POST-) has always been judgment on the non-elect Christian.

    IOW, when the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit promise the Trinitarian life – which They do to every baptisand – the promise does what it says and says what it does. If a “misalignment” occurs, then the proclaimed Word functions as the eschatological judgment brought forward into time and space. Thus, the non-elect can reject the external Word in its oral and sacramental forms for the time being (i.e. later on in life) but the Will of the Omnipotent Word (the Internal Word) cannot be rejected or resisted.

  34. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 2:29 am

    The one “nagging question” to the likes of Leithart is this:

    How does one know that one is not non-elect but elect if both of these abstract classes of Christians are virtually indistinguishable by BAPTISM?

    How then does one know that one has the grace of perseverance? recall that (total) assurance of salvation is IMPOSSIBLE in the Augustinian schema as it conceives of faith as the “mid-point” between presumption and despair.

    Hence the FV …

    But then we are back to Romanism.

  35. William Scott said,

    April 29, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Hello Jason, I don’t see anything you’ve quoted from Luther that’s contrary to an Augustinian understanding of the non-elect partaking in grace. Further, “double predestination” has nothing to do with whether the non-elect partake in saving grace or not–I hold to double predestination myself (in fact, double predestination is necessitated logically by the assertion of single predestination–i.e. if God chooses to bestow the gift of perseverance on one, He necessarily passes over the other). Augustine like Luther explicitly taught double predestination (although Augustine was infralapsarian while Luther was supralapsarian). Just one of many examples from Augustine:
    “He used the very will of the creature which was working in opposition to the Creator’s will as an instrument for carrying out His will, the supremely Good thus turning to good account even what is evil, to the condemnation of those whom in His justice He has predestined to punishment, and to the salvation of those whom in His mercy He has predestined to grace.”
    [Chapter 100. Enrichidion]

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1302.htm

    I don’t have time for a fuller response for at least the next few days, so I’ll have to leave it at this. God Bless.

  36. William Scott said,

    April 29, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Sorry, that should be:
    “double predestination is necessitated logically by the assertion of single predestination–i.e. if God chooses to bestow the gift of perseverance on one He necessarily *chooses* to pass over the other”

    Also, I want to apologize for being so dismissive to your points in my last post before giving a fuller response. God Bless.

  37. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Dear William,

    It’s clear from the Luther sermon and the articles of the Smalcald articles you quoted that Luther did not hold that the non-elect partake in saving grace.

    On double predestination, I mean that God *actively* reprobates the non-elect rather than just passing over (although I wouldn’t want to deny you the term). And yes arguably Augustine was more of an infralapsarian.

    But as it is, Luther as a SUPRALAPSARIAN as a short-hand for his theology *necessarily precludes the non-elect partaking of saving grace.

    I rest my case.

  38. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 8:14 am

    I don’t find it dismissive but I was concern that you’re reading what is perhaps the “wider” catholic tradition onto Luther when Luther indeed broke away from and turned the medieval and even patristic “understanding” of the Gospel upside down whilst at the same time clarifying the evangelical meaning of theology that laid incipient or “implicit” all these while. Luther also radicalised the understanding on Christology and hence soteriology. For example, Luther’s communication idiomatum went *beyond* the patristic and medieval which hitherto understood divine impassibility in “Platonic” terms whilst justification was understood in “Aristotelian” terms. In this, he stood virtually alone.

  39. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Dear William,

    May I refer you to an article by Piotr Malysz, a Polish-born confessional Lutheran on Luther’s communication idiomatum.

    http://lutherantheology.wordpress.com/2008/09/08/creator-est-creatura/

  40. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Kick Leithart and his ilk of out of the confessional Presbyterian fold, and so may it be …

  41. Jason Loh said,

    April 29, 2013 at 8:23 am

    It’s not about one’s understanding and approach to covenant theology and all that … it’s about the Gospel of justification by faith alone …

  42. William Scott said,

    April 29, 2013 at 8:39 am

    “On double predestination, I mean that God *actively* reprobates the non-elect rather than just passing over (although I wouldn’t want to deny you the term).”
    I’m saying that whether they want to admit it or not, anyone who holds to monergistic single predestination is necessarily saying that God “actively” reprobates the non-elect (inasmuch as He Sovereignly chooses/ordains from all eternity to pass over/reprobate them). Of course, this is not even a question with Augustine since he explicitly affirms the truth of double predestination (and the “active” reprobation of the non-elect).

    Now, if you mean “actively” reprobate in the sense of a symmetrical double predestination–any orthodox predestinarian (infralapsarian or supralapsarian) denies such a doctrine. Sproul has some good comments on the error of symmetrical predestination in the following link:

    http://www.the-highway.com/DoublePredestination_Sproul.html

    “But as it is, Luther as a SUPRALAPSARIAN as a short-hand for his theology *necessarily precludes the non-elect partaking of saving grace.”
    Actually, it doesn’t–no more than an infralapsarian view does.

    I’ll check out the link you’ve provided at get back to you on the other points you’ve made some time later this week, Lord willing. God Bless.

  43. Sean Gerety said,

    April 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Hi Lane. Just curious, who are the “undersigned”?

  44. greenbaggins said,

    April 29, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Sean, the undersigned includes Gerald Hedman. I am not actually sure if it includes anyone else. I think Bordwine was originally signed on, and then took his name off.

  45. Jason Loh said,

    April 30, 2013 at 3:29 am

    Dear William,

    Equal symmetry double predestination is unorthodox? Not sure about that (although you could well be right on this). But I do not know anyone who holds to equal symmetry. I suppose there are Trinitarian considerations. But I recognise you as a double predestinarian — it’s just that I for one do not hold that God passes over but “consign” the non-elect to their appointed end. Of course this is all abstract generalities theological talk. Proclamation is different — where the external Word in its oral and sacramental form comes in the form of a promise (where the particularity of the I-it-Thou personalism is addressed to a *concrete* universal *audience* in contradistinction from the whole world which is again abstract universalism and hence the grievous error of Arminianism).

    And yes, if it needs saying, your understanding of Luther is precisely that of mainstream confessional Lutheranism. So, yes, I am aware that I have names of Lutheran theologians that would be normally recognised as confessional Lutherans by confessional Lutherans (such as the LCMS in general) who however have the weight of history and scholarship behind them.

  46. Sean Gerety said,

    April 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    @45. Thanks Lane. One guy in the entire PNW. Unbelievable.

  47. May 1, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    @47, sounds like MOP (e.g. Meyers)

  48. William Scott said,

    May 2, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Hello Jason,

    I may have misread you’re last post, but I agree that God sovereignly “consigns” the non-elect to reprobation in “decreeing” or “foreordaining” to justly pass over/harden them in their sins and punish them with everlasting death. I can’t really improve on the Augustinian “double predestination” teaching in Chp.3 of the WCF (Of course, Chapter 3 of the WCF does prima facie depart from Augustine–and apparently Leithart’s position–in its apparent assertion that God has not ordained for the non-elect to partake temporarily in saving grace: “Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.” However, the rest of the chapter is solidly Augustinian). Again, I believe this truth of double predestination is a logical necessity for anyone who affirms monergistic single predestination and God’s absolute Sovereignty in decreeing all things.

    On the somewhat separate infralapsarian/supralapsarian issue– Bavinck considers that Augustine implicitly taught supralapsarianism (however, because of the lack of least any explicit supralapsarian teachings in Augustine I’ve tended to place him in the infralapsarian category–although I must say that Bavinck’s opinion on this matter carries a lot of weight with it). Further, a number of thomists have held to the Augustinian position that the non-elect partake temporarily in saving grace while also holding an explicitly supralapsarian position. Hence, Luther’s supralapsarian position has no application to the issue of whether he believed that many non-elect partake temporarily in saving grace.

    From everything I’ve seen, it appears that for Luther, as a former Augustinian monk, Augustine’s teaching that many partake only temporarily in saving grace was the non-controversial belief of any serious predestinarian. As already noted in an earlier quote (post 28), Luther explicitly affirms that many partake in true faith (and thus Salvation) only temporarily (“Many begin but do not continue”). Far from contradicting this, your quotation from the same sermon on 1 Cor 13 (post 29) only strengthens this point (note: I would encourage everyone to read this sermon from Luther–or any of his sermons for that matter). Luther says that this temporary faith is a “true Christian faith,” which for Luther always entails the indwelling of the Spirit and the presence of love in the heart. Your quote is an excellent example of this maxim of Luther–“The Spirit cannot but impart love together with faith. In fact, where true faith is, the Holy Spirit dwells; and where the Holy Spirit is, there must be love and every excellence. In fact, where true faith is, the Holy Spirit dwells; and where the Holy Spirit is, there must be love and every excellence.” Further, Luther affirms in the quote I gave that when those with a temporary faith fall from their “true Christian faith,” they “fall from both love and faith”–which, of course, would not be possible if they did not have love.

    And for the quote from the Smalcald Articles (post 28), Luther is making the same point on not allowing sin to drive out faith and the Holy Spirit as the quote from Luther in post 8 does. Again, Luther warns of this danger of falling away and losing saving faith and the Holy Spirit many times–for instance: “Here again is an admonition for Christians to follow up their faith by good works and a new life, for though they have forgiveness of sins through baptism, the old Adam still adheres to their flesh and makes himself felt in tendencies and desires to vices physical and mental. The result is that unless Christians offer resistance, they will lose their faith and the remission of sins and will in the end be worse than they were at first; for they will begin to despise and persecute the Word of God when corrected by it. Yea, even those who gladly hear the Word of God, who highly prize it and aim to follow it, have daily need of admonition and encouragement, so strong and tough is that old hide of sinful flesh.” (Note: The similarity of Luther’s statement to the quotes of Leithart in the Complaint–which is not at all surprising given their shared Augustinian understanding).

    You said:
    “How then does one know that one has the grace of perseverance? recall that (total) assurance of salvation is IMPOSSIBLE in the Augustinian schema as it conceives of faith as the “mid-point” between presumption and despair.”
    This is not the case–I struggled more with my assurance when I believed a number of years ago in the normative Calvinist understanding of the perseverance of the saints. Because of the clear testimony of Scripture on the necessity of perseverence both the Augustinian and Calvinist position hold that a necessary proof that someone is elect is perseverance to the end (as John Murray says in Redemption Accomplished and Applied: “…we may entertain the faith of our security in Christ only as we persevere in faith and holiness to the end” or as 1 John 2:19 says: “if they had been of us, they would have continued with us”). Thus, both positions hold that you may fail to persevere and thus prove you were never one of the elect, although outwardly it appeared for a time (to yourself and others) that you were one of the elect. In short, the Calvinist position does not eliminate the assurance struggle, it simply moves it out of the realm of whether you will persevere in grace received and moves it to the question of whether you actually received any grace to begin with–with one of the necessary proofs that you received grace being (ironically) perseverance to the end. (btw, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to have total assurance under the normative Calvinist understanding of perseverance of the saints–just that it doesn’t necessarily increase assurance–rather, it can do the opposite).

    As an Augustinian on the issue of apostasy, I believe that every Christian can have and is in fact commanded to have a total or absolute assurance of their election and final salvation (as 2 Peter says–“make your calling and election sure” or Psalm 23:6 “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”). In other words every Christian can and should have an absolute assurance that he is the elect Good Ground (in whom, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”), rather than the non-elect Weedy Ground which God has begotten new life in through the Eternal Seed of His Word but Sovereignly and justly ordains to ultimately be choked by the weeds of its own sin. This absolute assurance is grounded in proclaimation (Word and Sacrament) and testified to and increased by seeing the fruits of sanctification, etc. (I think WCF Chp.18 is an excellent exposition on the issue of assurance, and the Solid Declaration of the Book of Concord Chp.11 does a fine job describing the foundational role that the doctrine of predestination plays in our assurance).

    As far as apostasy is concerned, the fact that it theoretically could happen needn’t shake a firm and true assurance in one’s eternal election in Christ and hence one’s possession of the gift of final perseverance anymore than the theoretical possibility that one might decide to run out and murder someone in the future or the theoretical possibility for a staunch Calvinist that it might turn out that he has had a non-genuine faith all along, although for years it has clearly appeared to himself and others that he had a saving, fruit-bearing faith.

    I’ll have to stop for right now. God bless.

  49. Jason Loh said,

    May 4, 2013 at 2:02 am

    Dear William,

    For *Luther* at least, double predestination entails that the non-elect do not partake of saving grace. The Bondage of the Will is clear. In the terms of proclamation, the Incarnate God desires the salvation of all who hear – but as it the preached God is bound to His promise where as the hidden God/ unpreached God does all in all, neither deploring nor taking away death.

    On the Luther sermon re 1 Cor:13: I think you’ve overplayed your case. Here’s the quotation in full – where Luther sought to answer the question as

    “Three answers may be given to the question. First, Paul has not reference here to the Christian faith, which is inevitably accompanied by love, but to a general faith in God and his power. Such faith is a gift; as, for instance, the gift of tongues, the gift of knowledge, of prophecy, and the like. There is reason to believe Judas performed miracles in spite of the absence of Christian faith, according to John 6, 70: “One of you is a devil.” This general faith, powerless to justify or to cleanse, permits the old man with his vices to remain, just as do the gifts of intellect, health, eloquence, riches.”

    Thus Luther emphatically refers to general faith rather than CHRISTIAN faith – i.e. faith in the promise (promissio).

    “A second answer is: Though Paul alludes to the TRUE Christian faith, he has those in mind who have indeed attained to faith and performed miracles with it, but fall from grace through pride, thus losing their faith. Many begin but do not continue. They are like the seed in stony ground. They soon fall from faith. The temptations of vainglory are mightier than those of adversity. One who has the true faith and is at the same time able to perform miracles is likely to seek and to accept honor with such eagerness as to fall from both love and faith.”

    Again, Luther here is not so much referring to the TRUE Christian faith but faith nonetheless (general faith in *God* and His *power*).

    “A third answer is: Paul in his effort to present the necessity of love, supposes an INPOSSIBLE condition. For instance, I might express myself in this way: “Though you were a god, if you lacked patience you would be nothing.” That is, patience is so essential to divinity that divinity itself could not exist without it, a proposition necessarily true. So Paul’s meaning is, not that faith could exist without love, but on the contrary, so much is love an essential of faith that even mountain-moving faith would be nothing without love, could we separate the two even in theory.”

    There it is, faith and love are inseparable or even conceptually indistinct in this particular passage, i.e. 1 Cor:13. Thus, the it is IMPOSSIBLE for the non-elect to have faith and NOT love and thus to fall away from the Faith.

    These three answers given by Luther stand or fall together.

    I rest my case.

  50. Jason Loh said,

    May 4, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Dear William,

    You also wrote:

    “And for the quote from the Smalcald Articles (post 28), Luther is making the same point on not allowing sin to drive out faith and the Holy Spirit as the quote from Luther in post 8 does. Again, Luther warns of this danger of falling away and losing saving faith and the Holy Spirit many times–for instance: “Here again is an admonition for Christians to follow up their faith by good works and a new life, for though they have forgiveness of sins through baptism, the old Adam still adheres to their flesh and makes himself felt in tendencies and desires to vices physical and mental. The result is that unless Christians offer resistance, they will lose their faith and the remission of sins and will in the end be worse than they were at first; for they will begin to despise and persecute the Word of God when corrected by it. Yea, even those who gladly hear the Word of God, who highly prize it and aim to follow it, have daily need of admonition and encouragement, so strong and tough is that old hide of sinful flesh.” (Note: The similarity of Luther’s statement to the quotes of Leithart in the Complaint–which is not at all surprising given their shared Augustinian understanding.”

    Luther and Leithart are worlds apart … they are both enemies in so fat as the Gospel is concerned. Nothing you quote above contradicts what I have already clearly and unequivocally said indeed based it is on what Luther actually says in the Smalcald Articles, namely that the elect do fall into grievous sins, and can therefore “lose” faith and the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the whole point about the simul is precisely that the elect is distinguished from the non-elect only justification by faith alone. To repeat a point, according to Leithart, one can be justified and yet fall away completely. Not so with Luther …

  51. Jason Loh said,

    May 4, 2013 at 2:10 am

    “This is not the case–I struggled more with my assurance when I believed a number of years ago in the normative Calvinist understanding of the perseverance of the saints. Because of the clear testimony of Scripture on the necessity of perseverence both the Augustinian and Calvinist position hold that a necessary proof that someone is elect is perseverance to the end (as John Murray says in Redemption Accomplished and Applied: “…we may entertain the faith of our security in Christ only as we persevere in faith and holiness to the end” or as 1 John 2:19 says: “if they had been of us, they would have continued with us”). Thus, both positions hold that you may fail to persevere and thus prove you were never one of the elect, although outwardly it appeared for a time (to yourself and others) that you were one of the elect. In short, the Calvinist position does not eliminate the assurance struggle, it simply moves it out of the realm of whether you will persevere in grace received and moves it to the question of whether you actually received any grace to begin with–with one of the necessary proofs that you received grace being (ironically) perseverance to the end. (btw, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to have total assurance under the normative Calvinist understanding of perseverance of the saints–just that it doesn’t necessarily increase assurance–rather, it can do the opposite).”

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear enough — what I meant was that for AUGUSTINE himself … the person rather than the broader theology associated with his name or the eponymous theology in the history of the western catholic church. Thus, assurance in the sense of Luther and confessional Lutheranism and Calvinism is impossible or undesirable in the Augustinian schema.

    On the issue of full assurance, well, you’ve much more in common with the Puritans and their successors such Joel Beeke and the like.

    For Luther, faith is assurance is always total and complete as it is ESCHATOLOGICAL … and refers to entire, whole PERSON.

  52. Jason Loh said,

    May 4, 2013 at 2:15 am

    “As an Augustinian on the issue of apostasy, I believe that every Christian can have and is in fact commanded to have a total or absolute assurance of their election and final salvation (as 2 Peter says–”make your calling and election sure” or Psalm 23:6 “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”). In other words every Christian can and should have an absolute assurance that he is the elect Good Ground (in whom, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”), rather than the non-elect Weedy Ground which God has begotten new life in through the Eternal Seed of His Word but Sovereignly and justly ordains to ultimately be choked by the weeds of its own sin. This absolute assurance is grounded in proclaimation (Word and Sacrament) and testified to and increased by seeing the fruits of sanctification, etc. (I think WCF Chp.18 is an excellent exposition on the issue of assurance, and the Solid Declaration of the Book of Concord Chp.11 does a fine job describing the foundational role that the doctrine of predestination plays in our assurance).”

    Yes, of course, you’re a fine Augustinian although I do not know nor do the confessional Reformed here knows how much you’re sympathetic to Leithart who’s a heretic and a DANGEROUS false teacher.

    As for the ground of assurance, I hold with Luther that ONLY Word and Sacraments provide the ground of assurance … faith = assurance is extra nos … always from the outside … a faith which is intensely material and earthly … as I have said, Luther never held to an ordo salutis and the psychologising of faith found in many Protestant traditions and churches are simply foreign to his thinking.

  53. Jason Loh said,

    May 4, 2013 at 2:28 am

    “As far as apostasy is concerned, the fact that it theoretically could happen needn’t shake a firm and true assurance in one’s eternal election in Christ and hence one’s possession of the gift of final perseverance anymore than the theoretical possibility that one might decide to run out and murder someone in the future or the theoretical possibility for a staunch Calvinist that it might turn out that he has had a non-genuine faith all along, although for years it has clearly appeared to himself and others that he had a saving, fruit-bearing faith.”

    No, if you’re Reformed, apostasy – that is, FINAL apostasy is IMPOSSIBLE. As a Lutheran who follows Luther (and am grateful to Calvin who was also supralapsarian; Beza, Knox, Turretin), final apostasy is absolutely impossible — otherwise the people of God are deprived of assurance and comfort; otherwise election and predestination become devoid of pastoral value and useless as pastoral care.

    In theology, it is IMPOSSIBLE for one to have assurance, to know that one is elect; in proclamation one can know and indeed HAS assurance that one is ELECT. The theoretically is not theory but belongs properly to realm of the hidden God/ the unpreached God who does all in all. Thus, even the elect could be terrified by predestination in this context, and by extension, never have TRUE assurance about perseverance and so on. There is no word FROM God — therfore ONLY in proclamation can one have true assurance.

    Also, the difference between the elect and non-elect is this: The elect is a penitent sinner, the non-elect isn’t. That’s the lesson of the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.

    If the non-elect can partake in saving grace, on what basis then does one know that one is ELECT?

    The Sacraments are not just the “means of grace” but “means of salvation” — is only through, in, by, under, with the Word and Sacraments that the Triune God does the electing of sinners.

  54. Jason Loh said,

    May 4, 2013 at 8:54 am

    The following needs to be said, William:

    1. Augustine did not necessarily teach that the non-elect actually partake of non-saving grace. All the while I’ve been employing the phrase because you accurately described Leithart’s position. But then again in the interest of accuracy and for the sake of the truth of the Gospel of justification by faith alone, I say this — Augustine’s teaching is not only NOT synonymous with Leithart; it’s not even compatible with the official or mainstream theology in Romanism. The implication being this: Any attempt to try and approximate and converge with the Roman understanding on justification by faith alone as represented by the ecumenical efforts makes one further and further away from catholicity. IOW, Rome is quite SECTARIAN – Rome has one doctrine of justification which it claims on the basis of her own CLAIMS as the one apostolic blah blah … EO has its own understanding of justification which can be termed as theosis, the third-rate theologian before he perverted to Rome, Newman had his own version (talk about catholicity!), other Anglicans before him such as George Bull, Jeremy Taylor, etc. had their own peculiar versions and so on and so forth …

    Therefore, in the eyes of Rome, you’re not catholic ENOUGH as long as you’re not Roman. Hence, to reiterate, efforts to deviate, derogate, diverge, depart from sola fide makes one less, not more catholic EITHER WAY.

    2. It is agreed that Augustine taught that the baptised non-elect partake of the grace of justification/ sanctification which is wholly monergistic but which can be lost due to the LACK of the GIFT of perseverance (available only to the elect). See Great website … have actually been visiting the website off and on for donkey’s years since I have a keen interest in Traditional Roman Catholicism (including also Jansenism). See also on Augustine’s doctrine of operative grace. This IS different from mainstream Romanism where perseverance is SYNERGISTIC. Leithart’s view approximates or is closer to Rome than Augustine. Leithart is a Federal Visionist.

  55. Jason Loh said,

    May 4, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Want to be a Catholic (as in true Catholic not the pretentious type of Catholic as in Romanism), well for starters FV is a NON-starter …

    The WCF falls within the broad ambit of the Catholic theological spectrum historically and doctrinally … the particularity of grace is thoroughly Augustinian (though not consistently) particularly as found in his SUCCESSORS including the Blessed St Gottschalk of Orbais.

    As it is, Leithart’s views such as those who want to *play* at being Catholic is neither here nor there … (this is why Reformed Catholicism by Kevin Johnson and his pals are no longer what they used to be, at least in the blogosphere). Give it up … it’s no use romanticising the doctrine of the Church …

  56. Jason Loh said,

    May 4, 2013 at 9:03 am

    “Augustine did not necessarily teach that the non-elect actually partake of non-saving grace.”

    I mean Augustine did not necessarily teach that the non-elect actually partake of SAVING grace.

  57. Jason Loh said,

    May 4, 2013 at 9:35 am

    3. Also, as e.g. the PhD thesis above by J Patout Burns, a Roman Catholic scholar no less asserts that Augustine did not teach that God desires the salvation of all. See also Francis Gumerlock’s PhD thesis on “St Fulgentius of Ruspe and the saving will of God” – http://francisgumerlock.com/books/fulgentius-of-ruspe-on-the-saving-will-of-god-the-development-of-a-sixth-century-african-bishops-interpretation-of-1-timothy-24-during-the-semi-pelagian-controversy/

    Thus the idea that it is Augustine to teach that the non-elect partake of saving faith is tenuous at best or disingenuous at worst since it is co-related to the saving will of God.

    4. Hence for Augustine one is SAVED by what corresponds to “actual grace’ in Roman theology rather than “habitual grace.” Predestination then is co-related to the gift of perseverance, not justification. PREDESTINATING grace (i.e. from the OUTSIDE) is what enables the elect to increase in justification and persevere. This is qualitatively different from being justified initially by Baptism so as to be justified finally as per Leithart. For Augustine, justification is simply the “locus” of the Christian’s life in the EARTHLY city — as a homo viator … the pilgrim. Predestinating grace in the form of “actual grace” then acts upon the justified who then overcomes concupiscence (which contrasts with Rome’s lenient attitude towards concupiscence) — representing the overlap between the heavenly and earthly citizenships.

  58. William Scott said,

    May 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Hello Jason,
    I won’t have time to respond as thoroughly to your points as they deserve, but here’s what I managed to get out.

    1. In your post 50 you conclude that Luther is only referring to general faith in this passage. This is not the case. In this passage he contrasts option one (mere “general faith” in God and His power which he says is “not true Christian faith”) with option two (which he says IS “true Christian faith” although it is ultimately lost) as possible meanings of 1 Cor 13:2.

    2. You said: “There it is, faith and love are inseparable or even conceptually indistinct in this particular passage, i.e. 1 Cor:13. Thus, the it is IMPOSSIBLE for the non-elect to have faith and NOT love and thus to fall away from the Faith.”
    I think you’ve misunderstood what I was saying. Luther says in this sermon and elsewhere that someone can have true Christian faith (which *always* has love) and ultimately fail to continue in faith *and* love (according to Luther, if you fall from love then you have fallen from true faith since true faith always produces love). Again, Luther makes clear in the second option that those who do not ultimately continue in true faith “fall from BOTH faith and love.” He is stating here the same thing here as was stated in reference to the same passage (1 Cor 13:2) in the Apology of Augsburg: “If any one should cast away love, even though he have great faith, yet he does not retain it, 99] for he does not retain the Holy Ghost [he becomes cold and is now again fleshly, without Spirit and faith; for the Holy Ghost is not where Christian love and other fruits of the Spirit are not]. Nor indeed does Paul in this passage treat of the mode of justification, but he writes to those who, after they had been justified, should be urged to bring forth good fruits lest they might lose the Holy Ghost.” http://bookofconcord.org/defense_5_love.php
    Also, nothing else you’ve shown from Luther disagrees with his apparent Augustinian understanding of the non-elect temporarily partaking in saving faith.

    2.You said: “Luther and Leithart are worlds apart … they are both enemies in so fat as the Gospel is concerned.” This may be true for all I know of Leithart’s position. However, I’m only referring to their shared Augustinian position (and to my knowledge, the majority of orthodox Lutherans share my belief that Luther was Augustinian in his understanding of the non-elect temporarily partaking in saving grace).

    3. You said: “No, if you’re Reformed, apostasy – that is, FINAL apostasy is IMPOSSIBLE.” I agree completely that if you’re “reformed” (i.e. in the sense of following Calvin’s particular position on apostasy–as is done in the WCF) then final apostasy is impossible.

    4. You said: “On the issue of full assurance, well, you’ve much more in common with the Puritans and their successors such Joel Beeke and the like.”
    This is not just a Puritan vs. everyone else issue. Everyone agrees that the fundamental ground of our assurance are the promises of God (given and received in Word and Sacrament) and that looking only to our sanctification will bring despair. However, it is indisputable that Scripture requires the testimony of sanctification in assurance (one of many examples is 1 John 2:3-5–or the whole book of 1 John for that matter). Further, Luther also required the testimony of sanctification for assurance. He makes it clear over and over again that if someone does not have this fruit of sanctification in their life they can have no assurance of Salvation, and thus they need to test their faith and its fruits to know that they are saved.

    Here is one of many examples of Luther saying that you cannot take any comfort that the Gospel promises are yours if you do not have the fruit of sanctification visible in your life (in this sermon, victory over covetousness is the visible sanctification Luther is focusing on):
    “21. If you will not desist from the vice of covetousness, then know you are not a Christian, not a believer, but, as Paul calls you, a base, detestable idolater, having no part in God’s kingdom; for you are living wholly to the world and without intent to rise with Christ. You will receive no blessing from the joy-inspiring and gracious revelation that Christ died and rose for sinners. You cannot say, “Therefore he died for me, I trust.” Truly, Christ died for you, but if you continue in your wickedness, using this revelation as a cloak for your mean covetousness, do not–such is the declaration of the text–by any means apply that comforting promise to yourself. Although Christ indeed died and rose for all, yet unto you he is not risen; you have not apprehended his resurrection by faith. You have seen the smoke but have not felt the fire; you have heard the words but have received nothing of their power.
    22. If you would be able honestly to boast of this revelation as unto you, if you would have the comfort of knowing that Christ, through his death and resurrection, has blessed you, you must not continue in your old sinful life, but put on a new character.”

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

    [Continued]

  59. William Scott said,

    May 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    [Continued]
    5. As for your statements on the impossibility of assurance for those who believe the non-elect can partake temporarily in salvation (which you acknowledge that Lutheran orthodoxy itself holds), I think they have already been answered sufficiently for the time being in post 49 so I don’t think it would be helpful repeat myself.

    6. You said: “What I meant was that for AUGUSTINE himself … the person rather than the broader theology associated with his name or the eponymous theology in the history of the western catholic church. Thus, assurance in the sense of Luther and confessional Lutheranism and Calvinism is impossible or undesirable in the Augustinian schema.” I certainly agree. I should clarify on this point myself–when I refer to the Augustinian position, I am speaking strictly of his monergistic position on election (such as the gift of faith given to the elect and non-elect and the gift of perseverance given only to the elect). I am not including Augustine’s particular position on the issue of assurance , which focused unfortunately focused excessivley on the unknowability of God’s secret counsels and the dangers of presumption and thus was in great need of the corrective influences of Scriptural reformation thoughts on the grounding of assurance in proclomation (i.e.as you have said well “There is no word FROM God — therfore ONLY in proclamation can one have true assurance”).

    7. Augustine explicitly held to temporary partaking in faith, love, hope, the covering of sins in the Blood of Christ, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, etc in the non-elect. It’s unfortunate if Leithart departs from Augustine on the monergistic nature of the gift of perseverance given to the elect, but unless I have some verification of this I’ll assume he holds Augustine’s position.

    As for the other points:
    1. I’m not FV and I have serious issues with what I’ve heard of FV (e.g. the denial by some FV of the imputation of Christ’s active righteousness and merits to our account, the denial of the covenant of works, sympathy to N.T. Wright’s New Perspective, etc.).

    2. I have sympathy with Leithart to the extent that I have problems with someone being proclaimed a heretic on the basis of his agreement with Augustine and Luther on the possibility of the non-elect temporarily partaking in saving grace. I don’t know about Leithart’s other positions–although I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself in strong disagreement with them (particularly if they line up with some of the FV positions I’ve heard of). Also, I agree with those here who feel that Leithart’s views are out of accord with the WCF.

    3. I have no false pretenses when it comes to Rome and I agree that Rome is sectarian. I certainly desire those in Rome to acknowledge the truths of Scripture as much as is possible–and therefore when I can, I seek common ground. Further, I have no problem affirming something simply because it happens to line up with something Rome has said. However, I have no sympathy with the very serious and numerous errors of Rome (and the Eastern Orthodox-EO) and its apologists in denying the great reformation truths of sola scriptura, justification by faith alone, imputed passive and active righteousness of Christ, penal substitution, offering blasphemous praises and prayers to the Virgin Mary (Rome and EO), saying that “venial sin” only carries temporary punishment (and hence can be paid for by our own temporal suffering without the sufferings of Christ), the “agape paradigm,” common synergism (esp. Molinism in Rome, and across the board in the EO) and many other unorthodox and heretical innovations which contradict Scripture and the historic faith of the Church. In short, I find the idea of going to Rome (or to EO) or making the faith of any Protestant church compatible with their many erroneous beliefs repugnant (to use a strong, old fashioned sounding word).

    God Bless,
    W.A. Scott

    p.s. Although we’ll have to agree to disagree on Luther, I actually think you have a really interesting and unique Lutheran perspective (and although I’m not Calvinist myself, after hearing so many unjustified smears of Calvinism by Lutherans, it’s a breath of fresh air to hear a Lutheran who has respect for Calvin, Beza, double predestination, etc).

    p.p.s. This will have to be my last post for the foreseeable future, thanks for the discussion.

  60. William Scott said,

    May 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    p.p.s. Opps, I saw I missed one of your points. You said:
    “Thus the idea that it is Augustine to teach that the non-elect partake of saving faith is tenuous at best or disingenuous at worst since it is co-related to the saving will of God.”
    What is clear is that Augustine held that God gives faith to the non-elect which justifies and sanctifies them, although He withholds from them the gift of final perseverance. Whether one wants to say that this is not “saving faith”–since God does not have a “saving will” toward these non-elect inasmuch he has foreordained that they would not be finally saved–is largely a question of semantics. Thanks again for the discussion, it’s been very interesting.

  61. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Dear William (re #61),

    You wrote:

    1. In your post 50 you conclude that Luther is only referring to general faith in this passage. This is not the case. In this passage he contrasts option one (mere “general faith” in God and His power which he says is “not true Christian faith”) with option two (which he says IS “true Christian faith” although it is ultimately lost) as possible meanings of 1 Cor 13:2.

    Not at all. Again let me quote in full answer one: “First, Paul has NOT reference here to the Christian faith, which is inevitably accompanied by love, but to a general faith in God and his power. Such faith is a gift; as, for instance, the gift of tongues, the gift of knowledge, of prophecy, and the like. There is reason to believe Judas performed miracles in spite of the absence of Christian faith, according to John 6, 70: “One of you is a devil.” This general faith, powerless to justify or to cleanse, permits the old man with his vices to remain, just as do the gifts of intellect, health, eloquence, riches.” Luther did not reject answer one as he says later on “The third answer pleases me by far the best, though I do NOT reject the others, particularly the FIRST.”

    The three answers (options as you put it) stand or fall together.

  62. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 1:28 am

    William,

    You also wrote in re#61 that:

    >”You said: “There it is, faith and love are inseparable or even conceptually indistinct in this particular passage, i.e. 1 Cor:13. Thus, the it is IMPOSSIBLE for the non-elect to have faith and NOT love and thus to fall away from the Faith.” I think you’ve misunderstood what I was saying. Luther says in this sermon and elsewhere that someone can have true Christian faith (which *always* has love) and ultimately fail to continue in faith *and* love (according to Luther, if you fall from love then you have fallen from true faith since true faith always produces love). Again, Luther makes clear in the second option that those who do not ultimately continue in true faith “fall from BOTH faith and love.””He is stating here the same thing here as was stated in reference to the same passage (1 Cor 13:2) in the Apology of Augsburg: “If any one should cast away love, even though he have great faith, yet he does not retain it, 99] for he does not retain the Holy Ghost [he becomes cold and is now again fleshly, without Spirit and faith; for the Holy Ghost is not where Christian love and other fruits of the Spirit are not]. Nor indeed does Paul in this passage treat of the mode of justification, but he writes to those who, after they had been justified, should be urged to bring forth good fruits lest they might lose the Holy Ghost.” http://bookofconcord.org/defense_5_love.php“<

    Indeed, one is not justified by faith and love but faith alone. Indeed, the Christian may have "great faith" and yet be without Spirit and FAITH (i.e. true Christian faith).

    "Also, nothing else you’ve shown from Luther disagrees with his apparent Augustinian understanding of the non-elect temporarily partaking in saving faith."

    It's clear from his sermons and the even the quotations from the BoC. It's clear from the Bondage of the Will that double predestination ala Luther entails (EXPLICITLY) that the non-elect do not partake of SAVING faith.

  63. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 1:32 am

    “5. As for your statements on the impossibility of assurance for those who believe the non-elect can partake temporarily in salvation (which you acknowledge that Lutheran orthodoxy itself holds), I think they have already been answered sufficiently for the time being in post 49 so I don’t think it would be helpful repeat myself.”

    I said that assurance was impossible if you’re Reformed. Leithart claims to be Reformed; ergo he is not truly Reformed. I also said that assurance was TOTAL in Luther’s thought. These are not my views but those whom I have learnt, namely Prof Dr Steven D Paulson, Emeritus Prof Dr James A Nestingen, the late Prof Dr Gerhard Forde, Prof Dr Oswald Bayer, etc. Their writings are available for you to read.

  64. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 1:34 am

    “6. You said: “What I meant was that for AUGUSTINE himself … the person rather than the broader theology associated with his name or the eponymous theology in the history of the western catholic church. Thus, assurance in the sense of Luther and confessional Lutheranism and Calvinism is impossible or undesirable in the Augustinian schema.” I certainly agree. I should clarify on this point myself–when I refer to the Augustinian position, I am speaking strictly of his monergistic position on election (such as the gift of faith given to the elect and non-elect and the gift of perseverance given only to the elect). I am not including Augustine’s particular position on the issue of assurance , which focused unfortunately focused excessivley on the unknowability of God’s secret counsels and the dangers of presumption and thus was in great need of the corrective influences of Scriptural reformation thoughts on the grounding of assurance in proclomation (i.e.as you have said well “There is no word FROM God — therfore ONLY in proclamation can one have true assurance”).”

    Yes. But Augustine was clear that saving faith was NOT given to the non-elect. Do check out the website …

    romancatholicism.org

  65. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 1:36 am

    “As for the other points:
    1. I’m not FV and I have serious issues with what I’ve heard of FV (e.g. the denial by some FV of the imputation of Christ’s active righteousness and merits to our account, the denial of the covenant of works, sympathy to N.T. Wright’s New Perspective, etc.).

    2. I have sympathy with Leithart to the extent that I have problems with someone being proclaimed a heretic on the basis of his agreement with Augustine and Luther on the possibility of the non-elect temporarily partaking in saving grace. I don’t know about Leithart’s other positions–although I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself in strong disagreement with them (particularly if they line up with some of the FV positions I’ve heard of). Also, I agree with those here who feel that Leithart’s views are out of accord with the WCF.”

    Leithart does not agree with Augustine and Luther. He thinks he does, and yes, you think he does too.

    Let me repeat: The idea that the non-elect do partake of saving grace presupposes the saving will of God towards the non-elect. This Augustine and Luther expressly reject.

  66. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 1:47 am

    “3. I have no false pretenses when it comes to Rome and I agree that Rome is sectarian. I certainly desire those in Rome to acknowledge the truths of Scripture as much as is possible–and therefore when I can, I seek common ground. Further, I have no problem affirming something simply because it happens to line up with something Rome has said. However, I have no sympathy with the very serious and numerous errors of Rome (and the Eastern Orthodox-EO) and its apologists in denying the great reformation truths of sola scriptura, justification by faith alone, imputed passive and active righteousness of Christ, penal substitution, offering blasphemous praises and prayers to the Virgin Mary (Rome and EO), saying that “venial sin” only carries temporary punishment (and hence can be paid for by our own temporal suffering without the sufferings of Christ), the “agape paradigm,” common synergism (esp. Molinism in Rome, and across the board in the EO) and many other unorthodox and heretical innovations which contradict Scripture and the historic faith of the Church. In short, I find the idea of going to Rome (or to EO) or making the faith of any Protestant church compatible with their many erroneous beliefs repugnant (to use a strong, old fashioned sounding word).”

    I do apologise to you, then, William, for lingering or residual suspicion. As it is, you are an old-fashioned (the original Anglican/ Episcopalian) High Churchman, aren’t you? I have strong sympathies for Hooler, Andrewes and the Caroline divines. As you know, they were not necessarily Calvinists but broadly Reformed nonetheless – single predestinarians who upheld and affirmed justification by faith alone with very few exceptions. George Herbert was a “Calvinist.” Of course, later High Churchmen who were not Anglo-Papists such as Frederick Meyrick and Christopher Wordworth continued the legacy of the Protestant and English Reformation.

  67. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 1:50 am

    As it is, Leithart *is* a heretic and a false teacher. He and his fellow FV-ists should be ASHAMED of themselves for deluding believing parents with such false doctrines.

  68. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Dear William,

    Re# 61 again (the other half in that post), you wrote:

    “However, it is indisputable that Scripture requires the testimony of sanctification in assurance (one of many examples is 1 John 2:3-5–or the whole book of 1 John for that matter). Further, Luther also required the testimony of sanctification for assurance. He makes it clear over and over again that if someone does not have this fruit of sanctification in their life they can have no assurance of Salvation, and thus they need to test their faith and its fruits to know that they are saved.”

    The position you’re articulating is untenable or rather you’re trying to hold onto a position which contains an inner contradiction that inevitably seeks a “synthesis” – that is one of the other opposing propositions will have to “give in” (to resolve the anomaly). Either one’s assurance is in Word and Sacraments alone (the promise) OR one’s assurance is in both the promise as well as sanctification. Maybe you it’s because you want show that you agree with the WCF. But that’s not the position of Luther. The whole logic of Luther’s “external” faith is to look away from oneself and towards Jesus Christ as He is in, with, under the Word and Sacraments. The testimony of sanctification by its very nature is introspective – the opposite of assurance in Luther.

    See “Why Luther is not Quite Protestant: The Logic of Faith in a Sacramental Promise” by high church Episcopalian, Phillip Cary.

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-luther-is-not-quite-protestant.html

    I don’t agree with the 1st half of the title re Luther is not quite Protestant. Luther was indeed a PROTESTANT – he was the FIRST Protestant. It’s just the later Protestants were not quite Protestant as Luther.

    You quoted from Luther’s sermon on Colossians 3:1-7 in support of your position. Let me quote Luther’s opening words: “We have been hearing of the glorious message of Christ’s resurrection, how that resurrection took place and how we must believe, for our own blessing, COMFORT and salvation.” He goes on to say: “Now, that we may be sincerely THANKFUL to God for this inestimable blessing, and that our attitude toward the doctrine of the resurrection may be one to truly honor and glorify it, we must hear also, and practice, the apostles’ teaching of its essential fruits, and must manifest them in our lives.”

    IOW, in showing GRATITUDE for the grace given by FAITH, we then put practice and manifest the “fruits of sanctification.”

    On the quotation below that you quoted from the same sermon:

    “21. If you will not desist from the vice of covetousness, then know you are not a Christian, not a believer, but, as Paul calls you, a base, detestable idolater, having no part in God’s kingdom; for you are living wholly to the world and without intent to rise with Christ. You will receive no blessing from the joy-inspiring and gracious revelation that Christ died and rose for sinners. You cannot say, “Therefore he died for me, I trust.” Truly, Christ died for you, but if you continue in your wickedness, using this revelation as a cloak for your mean covetousness, do not–such is the declaration of the text–by any means apply that comforting promise to yourself. Although Christ indeed died and rose for all, yet unto you he is not risen; you have not apprehended his resurrection by faith. You have seen the smoke but have not felt the fire; you have heard the words but have received nothing of their power.
    22. If you would be able honestly to boast of this revelation as unto you, if you would have the comfort of knowing that Christ, through his death and resurrection, has blessed you, you must not continue in your old sinful life, but put on a new character.”

    Why of course, Luther was no ANTINOMIAN(!)

    The logic that if one revel in (sinful) vices and continue in wickedness, then one cannot claim to be a Christian is DIFFERENT from stating that one’s assurance or standing as a Christian is based on sanctification. Both are not equivalent or synonymous. They are stating two different things here – the former concerning sins and vices; the latter concerning “growth” in sanctification and holiness and good works. Thus whilst they are indirectly related, they should not be conflated.

    This is why Luther said in the same sermon:
    “If, Paul says, ye have apprehended by FAITH the resurrection of Christ and have received its power and consolation, and so are risen with him, that resurrection WILL SURELY be MANIFEST in you; you WILL feel its power, will be conscious of its working within. The doctrine WILL be something more than words; it will be truth and life. For them who do not thus apprehend the resurrection, Christ is not yet risen, although his rising is none the less a fact; for there is not within them the power represented by the words “being risen with Christ,” the power which renders them truly dead and truly risen men.”

  69. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 8:30 am

    “Paul’s words in Romans 8, 11 are: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” In other words: God having quickened, justified and saved you spiritually, he will not forget the body, the building or tabernacle of the living spirit; the spirit being in this life risen from sin and death, the tabernacle, or the corruptible flesh-and-blood garment, must also be raised; it must emerge from the dust of earth, since it is the dwelling-place of the saved and risen spirit, that the two may be reunited unto life eternal.”

    Here in the same sermon again, the antinomian Luther preaches what is clearly an anti-Leithart sermon. Luther clearly excludes the idea that one can be regenerated, justified and saved and yet lose salvation because of lack of sanctification, good works (I don’t’ know, whatever), what-not …

  70. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 8:34 am

    And again, see how Luther proceeds with his sermon (truly related to whether the non-elect partake of saving faith and grace) …

    “Paul would say: Ye must be dead to a worldly life of this sort, a life striven after by the heathen, who disregard God’s Word and suffer the devil to have his way with them. Ye must prove the resurrection of Christ in you to be something more than vain words. Ye must show there is a living power manifest in you because ye are risen, a power which makes you lead a different life, one in obedience to the Word and will of God, and called the divine, heavenly life. Where this change does not take place, it is a sign ye are NOT YET Christians but are deceiving yourselves with vain fancies.”

    So, there is no such thing as true Christians who nonetheless will never mortify the sinful flesh. IOW, for Luther, there’s no such thing as justified, born again, converted Christian united to Christ who remains carnal …

  71. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Continuing with Luther’s sermon on Colossians 3:

    “For Christ died and rose for the very purpose of effecting your eventual death with him and your participation in his resurrection: in other words, he died that you might be made a new man, beginning even now, a man like unto himself in heaven, a man having no covetous desire or ambition for advantage over a neighbor, a man satisfied with what God grants him as the result of his labor, and kind and beneficent to the needy.”

    Notice the DISTINCTION between Christ as Saviour (“For Christ died and rose for the very purpose of effecting your eventual death with him and your participation in his resurrection”) and Christ as Example (beginning even now, a man like unto himself in heaven, a man having no covetous desire or ambition for advantage over a NEIGHBOUR, a man satisfied with what God grants him … and kind and beneficent to the needy”).

    The implication being conformity to Christ and good works are not grounds of our assurance but the RESULT of our ASSURANCE. Sequence is very important.

    This is why Luther said again:

    “IN Christ ye SURELY possess eternal life. Nothing is lacking to a perfect realization except that the veil whereby it is hidden so long as we are in mortal flesh and blood, is yet to be removed. Then will eternal life be revealed. Then all worldly, terrestrial things, all sin and death, will be abolished. In EVERY Christian shall be manifest only glory. Christians, then, BELIEVING in Christ, and knowing him risen, should COMFORT themselves with the expectation of living with him in eternal glory; the inevitable condition is that they have first, in the world, died with him.”

    Worlds apart from heretic Leithart.

    Even if we read this quotation according to a paradigm of flattening out the distinction between theology and proclamation – which Leithart does wonderfully, Luther leaves NO room for any doubt that there is no such thing as elect and non-elect Christian.

  72. Jason Loh said,

    May 7, 2013 at 8:49 am

    If as you say, William, that there must be a testimony of sanctification, in that there *must* be good works for one to have *assurance*, then good works are *necessary* for salvation is it not? Since they are necessary for assurance of salvation.

    Now here comes the shocking thing: Luther said that “good works are detrimental to salvation.”

    I’m thinking of getting a copy myself. Refer to “The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of the Book of Concord”
    edited by Charles P. Arand, James Arne Nestingen (AugsburgFortress).

    The book can be partially read at Google Books:

    http://books.google.com.my/books?id=jV8Ib7xSIV4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=book+of+concord+history&hl=en&sa=X&ei=sOiIUf6eI8S4rAe4sYCAAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA

    Just type in “good works are detrimental to salvation” in the intra-search engine for the book just under the title of the book and you’ll be led to the chapter where there’s a discussion on the Agricolan and Majoristic controversies over good works and salvation.

    Amsdorf (who was Gnesio-Lutheran and if I’m not mistaken a double predestinarian) may have “popularized” the phrase but its origin lies with Luther himself.

  73. Jason Loh said,

    May 8, 2013 at 1:41 am

    > See “Why Luther is not Quite Protestant: The Logic of Faith in a Sacramental Promise” by high church Episcopalian, Phillip Cary.

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-luther-is-not-quite-protestant.html <

    Caveat: The *only* thing worth about this paper is the *accurate* description of Luther's external faith. The rest are mischaracterisations -which seeks to portray Luther as some crypto-Romanist, not surprising given that Phillip Cary is quite unabashed about his ecumenical aspiration.

  74. William Scott said,

    May 17, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks for the comments Jason.

    No disagreement on the truth proclaimed by Luther (and the Scripture) on how good works can be detrimental to salvation. One need look no further than the works-righteousness system of the Pharisees and Judaizers in Scripture or the works-righteousness system of Rome that Luther fought so hard against to see the manifest truth of this.

    I’ll look forward to responding to your other comments when I have time.

    God Bless, W.A. Scott

  75. William Scott said,

    May 28, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Leithart said:
    “There is no “independent” imputation of the active obedience of Christ, nor even of the passive obedience for that matter; we are regarded as righteous, and Christ’s righteousness is reckoned as ours, because of our union with Him in His resurrection. What is imputed is the verdict, not the actions of Jesus. (“More From Ward,” emphasis added).”

    Very unfortunate to see this departure from the awesome truths of the imputation of Christ’s passive and active obedience as expressed so well by Machen and other great men of God:

    http://www.the-highway.com/atone2_Machen.html

    Jason, I haven’t forgotten your posts. Hopefully I’ll have time to respond at least in part before too long. God Bless, W.A.Scott

  76. Jason Loh said,

    May 28, 2013 at 2:37 am

    God bless you too, William, as you seek to preserve and promote true catholicism/ catholicity according to the authentic Augustinian Succession as renewed, re-contextualised and re-embodied in the Protestant Reformation of which the Gospel of justification by faith alone the most singular pre-eminent expression.

  77. Tim Bayly said,

    June 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    >I think Bordwine was originally signed on, and then took his name off.

    For several reasons, it would be unwise for Jim Bordwine’s name to be associated with any part of this controversy.

    With some experience preaching and doing pastoral care there in the past few years, I would say PNP is quite weak and suffers from Pacific Northwest contextualization. Too, Rob Rayburn is intent on defending Peter Leithart. Betwixt the two of them…

    Love,

  78. Bob S said,

    June 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    80. Mr. Bayly,
    Would it be too much to spell out your comments a bit.
    “PNW contextualization” for instance.

    thanks

  79. Tim Bayly said,

    June 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Neither Tim Keller’s presbytery on the other coast nor Rob Rayburn’s presbytery in Portseattle seems able to summon the fear of God and love for souls that saying “no” to one of their own requires. But of course, this is unique neither to the coasts nor to the PCA. We live in an age of such desperate insecurity and fear of man that there is no fear of God. In such an age, all controversies are simple misunderstandings that teach us yet again that we all need to learn to be better listeners, to give “I” rather than “you” messages, never to say “always” or “never”…

    Meanwhile, a little chest-thumping every four years or so at the national level never hurt anyone.

    Anyone.

    Love,

  80. Tim Bayly said,

    June 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Let me add this. Is it really the end of the world for a presbytery to require one of its members to withdraw something he’s written or to cease a certain practice and admit it was wrong? I mean, how much does it really hurt Peter Leithart for his presbytery to ask him to repudiate some things he’s written? Are famous writers above correction, and is their correction never to bear the fruit of apologies and repudiations?

    Honestly, what’s the big deal? Why doesn’t Rob call Peter and tell him to admit his errors publicly and issue corrections that will satisfy everyone? What does it say about us that we can’t dream of such mutual accountability today? Calvin and the other pastors of Geneva did it every month and we can’t do it ever?

    If Rob can’t bring himself to use his personal authority for this good, what’s the point of that authority?

    Just my two bits. Love,

  81. locirari said,

    June 18, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Mr. Bayly,

    Why not call Leithart to account? This is a dust-up over nothing! Just look at how Rayburn reflects on the Leithart trial and the FV controversy in this sermon: http://www.faithtacoma.org/content/2011-12-11-pm.aspx

  82. Bob S said,

    June 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    83. If Rob can’t bring himself to use his personal authority for this good, what’s the point of that authority?

    One, I don’t know that NWP thinks there’s any mistake. Nor does Peter. To retract would be to deny the gospel. These innovations really are that important.
    Two, personal authority or presbyterial authority in that I can understand “seniority”, maturity etc. but presbyterianism is supposed to minimize the favoritism and good old boys club routine.
    Three, as per presbyterianism, a “standing” judicial commission? Don’t get me started. You never want your friends wielding power that you wouldn’t want your enemies to have.

    Thank you.

  83. Tim Bayly said,

    June 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    >>To retract would be to deny the gospel.

    Yes, and as I tell my congregation, the hubris of pastors is such that we could mount an argument that the Gospel depends upon painting the sanctuary black.

    Love,

  84. Bob S said,

    June 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    86. Mr. Bayly, if you could clarify please, is the FV heresy, or merely hubris?

  85. Tim Bayly said,

    June 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    If I believed it was merely hubris, I wouldn’t have said I think Peter ought to be led to repudiate things he’s said and written in the past. And I think they should be repudiated because of the danger they pose to souls. Pride is only pertinent to the matter because of the difficulty it introduces into the process of correction, hence my mention of pastors’ proclivity for arguing everything as if the Gospel depended upon it—including black sanctuaries. Every one of a pastor’s preferences is a matter of principle. Love,

  86. Tim Bayly said,

    June 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    BTW, Rob ends the sermon helpfully linked above with this: “I have seen not one good thing come out of this (Federal Vision) controversy. I could claim to have learned some theology and church history in preparing papers and testimony for the trial, but the entire process has hurt the church, distracted men from their proper work, produced a great deal of anger and ill-will, deepened animosity, and all the while has done nothing to bring harmony and peace. Nobody is changing his mind. I know this will infuriate some, but I think what we are going through is an unseemly and childish spat between aggressive or militant traditionalists, on the one hand, and, for want of a better term, theological progressives on the other, both of whom are committed to the full authority of the Word of God and the Reformed faith.”

    Note that little statement, “no one is changing his mind.”

    From the Council of Jerusalem to this present day, the purpose of church councils is to study and argue a matter until peace prevails, and peace always prevails by brothers changing their minds. Imagine a session meeting with no one changing his mind! The thought is awful. Same with congregational meetings, presbyteries, general assemblies, and marriages. When division arises (as it does constantly in this world where in the Upper Room the Twelve were striving amongst themselves as to which of them was the greatest and Judas was plotting betrayal), the way to restore peace is through study and argument and prayer which, Lord willing, bear the fruit of letters resolving the matter by calling men to change their minds because, at the end of the argument, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”

    Certainly there’s been much conflict across church history that has been so sinful that no one’s changed his mind. I would hope that won’t be the case with this present conflict concerning Federal Vision. Rob thinks it’s much ado over nothing and he has no hope of anyone changing his mind. May God prove him wrong.

    Love,

  87. didymusmartin said,

    June 19, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    @Tim said
    >Peter ought to be led to repudiate things he’s said and written in the past. And I think they should be repudiated because of the danger they pose to souls.<

    Seriously, out of approximately 300k PCA members, i would dare say that less than 500 men across the country care anything about FV and of which most are TEs' with a spattering of REs'. Thus the danger to the "souls " is rather embellished, and is mostly limited individuals in leadership that leave to commune with other bodies.

  88. locirari said,

    June 20, 2013 at 1:11 am

    Dr. Rayburn also states in his sermon that both sides are committed to the Reformed faith. Actually, that’s very much in dispute. Many FV proponents, while claiming to be true to the spirit of the Reformers, desire freedom from the Reformed confessions and call for “recasting” and “retooling” of Reformed theology. Or as Leithart says, the Protestant doctrine of Justification isn’t cutting it!

  89. Bob S said,

    June 20, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Rumor has it that Overture 19 was dismissed at the GA today.
    Any official word or way of knowing if you weren’t watching the live broadcast or know somebody attending?
    Has the proverbial FL sung?
    thanks

  90. locirari said,

    June 21, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Yes, O. 19 was ruled out of order. I watched some of the streaming video. Overall, I think the more confessional men are greatly disappointed this year.

  91. didymusmartin said,

    June 21, 2013 at 7:13 am

    @lociari said;
    >>Overall, I think the more confessional men are greatly disappointed this year.<<

    Beware, for diappoint can approach the level of contumacy.

  92. Bob S said,

    June 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Ah, but Luther was guilty of contumacy, was he not?

  93. locirari said,

    June 21, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    The contumacy I see going on is the trampling underfoot of Scripture and the subordinate standards. The 2013 GA of the PCA showed how much revisionists and their accomplices can accomplish by making skillful use of the machinery known as the Book of Church Order.

  94. didymusmartin said,

    June 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    The problem is that fallible men try to interpret infallible revelation and then create fallible standards to support fallible doctrine. Even revisionists like Martin Luther and John Calvin supported the Roman Church in calling Copernicus a heretic. Nothing new here.

  95. Don said,

    June 21, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    didymusmartin #97,
    Citation please, to support your claim about Calvin regarding Copernicus. And if you trust Andrew Dickson White, then you’ve got bigger problems than we can address here.

  96. didymusmartin said,

    June 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    @ Don #97

    I believe someone with little validity like …. RC Sproul, Sr.

    http://www.ligonier.org/blog/luther-calvin-and-copernicus-reformed-approach-science-and-scripture/

  97. didymusmartin said,

    June 21, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    but Don,
    I think this article is for cooler heads and gives Calvin some credit.

    http://www.dordt.edu/publications/pro_rege/crcpi/95095.pdf

  98. Bob S said,

    June 21, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Yo DM. If you could distinguish between someone’s area of expertise and their opinion it would be one thing, but you demonstrate that you can’t. The FV is a theology, not a physics theory. Calvin and Luther were theologians, not astronomers or astrologists regardless if they thought Scripture told them more than it did about the physical world.

  99. didymusmartin said,

    June 22, 2013 at 12:15 am

    Yo BobS
    To resolve any misunderstanding of my quotes at #94 and #97 i will restate:

    Fallible Theologins interpet Special Revelation in a fallible manner as do
    Fallible Scientists interpret General Revelation in a fallible manner
    thus the “so called experts” in their respective fields would be better served if they held less hubris….just saying

  100. didymusmartin said,

    June 22, 2013 at 12:29 am

    Theology whether Systematic or BIblical or Covenantal or by any other name is rapidly approaching nothing more then fallible opinion [as the proverbial nose]

    …when viewed by the average “Man on the street”, who all too often chooses to forsake gathering in YOUR visible church

    …..but is yet embraced by Christs in HIS invisible church.

  101. Don said,

    June 22, 2013 at 12:31 am

    didymusmartin 99,
    Do you realize that the Ligonier blog post to which you link is essentially retracting the Calvin part of the Sproul quote, since it’s not clear that Calvin knew anything about Copernicus?

    Also, FWIW, Calvin highly encouraged the study of astronomy and thought that it should be used to correct misunderstandings of the natural world that were based on misinterpretations of Scripture.

  102. didymusmartin said,

    June 22, 2013 at 1:10 am

    Just as RC made a historiograhical error in invoking the Copernicus-Calvin-Luther debacle to support his view that no one knows the age of the universe because God did not reveal the date in the scriptures, …..I likewise reiterate my comment at #100 and to give humbrage to Calvin.

    I didn’t expect the 2013 PCA GA to be an “Impartation Service” but I did expect behavior higher than a “brawl in a speak easy”.

  103. didymusmartin said,

    June 22, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Here is RC on the matter

  104. Bob S said,

    June 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    103. No doubt according to your fallible opinion.
    Or as somebody else used to put it, in previous discussions of romanism:

    “Thanks for sharing”.


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