Antinomianism

My friend Mark Jones has just written a very important book on antinomianism. The term “antinomianism” means “against the law” etymologically. However, as Jones points out, that may not always be a helpful way of describing the theological positions (which are not always very uniform). Jones carefully delineates the historical positions that were around at the time of the Westminster Assembly. It is very important to note here that antinomianism was one of the most important bogeymen of the Westminster divines. Jones ably shows this through the primary sources of the time (something of which Jones shows quite the mastery). Much of the book is taken up with this historical debate. Rightly so, for that debate in the 17th century has an enormous impact on how we define terms and categorize beliefs today.

Several other things are highly commendable about this book. Jones is an extremely careful, irenic author, always acknowledging where antinomians have said something that is true. I have noticed, and Jones agrees, that most of the time we and they (the antinomians) would agree about much of what they say concerning justification. Sanctification, of course, is where we would disagree.

His insights concerning Christology are worth the price of admission. I had connected antinomianism with a truncated view of grace, but I had not taken it back one further step to Christology, as Jones does. Antinomians do have a truncated view of grace. God’s grace is saving me not only from sin’s guilt in justification (here the antinomians would agree), but also from sin’s power in sanctification, and the latter grace is an enabling grace, unlike the former grace. But Jones takes it back to Christology: what about Christ’s ongoing work as our Mediator in heaven? Does He not view the sinner with great pity and compassion? Jones says that we should never confuse Christ’s procurement of saving benefits (redemption accomplished, also called “impetration”) with the application of those saving benefits.

The distinction Jones makes between the beneficent love of God and the complacent love of God is a vital distinction. The former means basically how God sees us in Christ in justification. The latter is how God sees sanctification progressing in us. The former admits of no degrees, but the latter does. The flip side of the coin is how God sees our sin. God can be displeased with our sin, not as a judge, but as a Father. This displeasure admits of degrees, while never attaining to the level of a judging condemnation for the Christian. The distinction Jones makes here, which is based on the Reformed fathers and, more importantly, Scripture, helps us to make sense of the biblical data.

Only a few very small things would I mention by way of criticism. They are mostly in the category of things that Jones mentions but doesn’t develop, and are therefore things about which I wish he had said more. One of them is something I heard Rick Phillips say at the Gospel Reformation Network conference two years ago, and which really shocked me when I first heard it, but which made a lot of sense after I thought about it for a while. Jones mentions it but doesn’t develop it, and it is this: a Christian is no longer totally depraved. If God has given that person a new heart and mind, giving them new life, then they are not just declared righteous in justification, but have the beginnings of a new way of life in sanctification. There is still indwelling sin, yes. There is still a lifelong battle, yes. But isn’t it such an encouragement to know that the Triune God has taken up residence in us? That place where God dwells in us in no longer totally depraved. Jones mentions it on page 129, but I would have enjoyed some development of that theme, especially in the historical theology.

The other thing that I wish he had done is to engage Westminster West’s theology a bit more directly. Jones has shown that he is very irenic, and is very concerned to be fair. This decision not to engage Westminster West feels like an intentional decision on his part. He talks about Michael Horton a bit. But we need writing on this subject that casts light and not heat on the subject. And when it comes to Westminster West, there has all too often been heat and not much light.

One tiny disagreement I have is with regard to the Horton/Garcia exchange in the Confessional Presbyterian Journal last year. Horton’s article was designed to address the hermeneutical issue of the law/gospel distinction in relation to reading Scripture. It was never designed to address the issues that are but tangentially related vis-a-vis legalism and antinomianism.

All in all, this is an extremely important and helpful book, and one cannot but agree with Carl Trueman’s assessment of this book as timely. In Jones’s effort to be irenic, he did not say that antinomianism is rife in the Reformed and evangelical world right now, but of course it is. This book is a very important corrective, and needs to be read, particularly by pastors. Pastors need to be very careful to avoid antinomianism and legalism. This book helps us to do that.

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88 Comments

  1. Todd said,

    January 22, 2014 at 10:13 am

    “In Jones’s effort to be irenic, he did not say that antinomianism is rife in the Reformed and evangelical world right now, but of course it is.”

    Lane,

    I have seen you make this statement a number of times, and I am curious what you mean by this. How are you defining antinomianism, and how are you defining the reformed world? In other words, if elders in a reformed church were not Sabbatarian, are you considering them antinomians? And by Reformed world are you including churches that are not self-consciously reformed but happen to belong to a denomination which holds to the WCF or Three Forms?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    January 22, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Todd, I think the best way to answer your question is to say “read the book!” I don’t mean for that to sound snarky or anything, but Mark says it better than I could. One does not have to agree with everything Mark says, either, to agree that antinomianism is rife in the evangelical world. There are many shades of the problem. And I would say that the problem is quite broad, including almost all denominations.

  3. Todd said,

    January 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Lane,

    I was more interested in your opinion than Mark’s, since you have stated this concern about the reformed world long before the book came out, but that’s fine if you would rather not dialogue on this; your nickel

  4. Jack Bradley said,

    January 22, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Todd,

    On this subject of antinomianism, I want to get your take on Frame’s appraisal of Westminster West. Do you think it is fair/accurate?

    “To protect the doctrine of justification by faith alone, the Escondido theologians maintain a very sharp separation between Law and Gospel, derived from Martin Luther… The Escondido theologians, though confessionally reformed, have adopted an emphasis on the law/gospel distinction that is more characteristic of Lutheran, then reformed theologians. So Michael Horton attacks much modern evangelical preaching as softening the law to make it good news (“principles for happy living”), and turning the gospel into pieces of good advice, really law.

    . . . Traditionally, Lutherans and Calvinists have distinguished three “uses” of the law: (1) to restrain evil in society,(2) to terrify sinners in order to drive them to Christ, and (3) to provide guidance to those who believe to live the Christian life. The Escondido theologians, like the Lutherans, neglect the third use, and, as I indicated in my review of Horton’s Christless Christianity, they tend to criticize those who present law without driving people to Christ, as if the third use didn’t exist.”

    John Frame, The Escondido Theology, pp. 2, 19

    I can put it in the context of a few (not all!) West West grads that I have known and say that his evaluation reflects accurately their view on Law and Gospel.

    And yet, I remember Scott Clark on this blog stating that this is definitely not West West’s view, and that they had a conference in recent years specifically addressing a positive view of the Law.

  5. toddbordow said,

    January 22, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Jack,

    No, I don’t think it is accurate. When I went to school there the third use of the law was standard teaching, as it is today. I think Reformed people tend to define anti-nomianism too broadly, instead of defining it as the Apostle does in Romans 6:1

  6. January 22, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Jack,

    Here is the conference to which you referred:

    http://wscal.edu/resource-center/category/the-law-of-god-and-the-christian

    We just held another conference on sanctification where this topic was addressed at length. The conference audio is scheduled to be released tomorrow.

    http://wscal.edu/resource-center/category/wsc_conferences

    We’re doing about 20 half-hour episodes on the doctrine of sanctification on Office Hours this season, including discussions of the third use of the law, nomism, and antinomianism:

    http://heidelblog.net/category/office-hours-season-5-new-life-in-the-shadow-of-death/

    I’m discussing nomism and antinomianism on the Heidelcast:

    http://heidelblog.net/the-heidelcast

    Here’s the first episode in the series:
    http://rscottclark.org/wp-content/audio/heidelcast-58-jan-12-2014.mp3

    Our faculty certainly do teach the third use of the law. It is sheer calumny to say otherwise. Any WSC faculty member found denying the third use would be subject to discipline. If Frame knew of faculty denying the third use, while he taught here for two decades, he certainly did not act on that knowledge. I was Academic Dean for 3.5 years during that period and he never approached me with any concerns.

    Since leaving, however, he has come out in defense of Norman Shepherd’s corruption of the gospel.

    http://heidelblog.net/2013/12/should-i-buy-it-2/

    This, of course, is why we can’t move on from the FV.

    http://heidelblog.net/2013/12/why-we-cant-move-on-1/

    Remember, Frame thinks God is simple AND complex, God is three persons AND one person, Gordon Clark was right (with respect to Van Til), and the Reformed confessions are wrong on the second commandment. So, perhaps, he is not the most accurate barometer for measuring Reformed orthodoxy and heterodoxy?

    As far as I know there are six official summaries of the teaching of Westminster Seminary in California: The Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort, and the Westminster Standards. That is our doctrine.

  7. January 22, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    A follow up to my previous. When I think of total depravity, I don’t understand it to mean that all humans are as corrupt as they might be but that all our faculties (intellect, will, and affections) are remain corrupted, even after regeneration.

    This is why the HC says, in q. 60, of the regenerate, “that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them,b and am still inclined to all evil…”

    We are renewed. We are being sanctified but we remain (Rom 7) inclined toward corruption. This is no license to sin but it is a sort of Reformed realism about life in the inter-regnum.

  8. Jack Bradley said,

    January 22, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks for this good follow up, Dr. Clark. I also appreciated your recent article on the 3rd Use:

    “There are some, however, who, as a matter of principle, deny that believers are under the law as a norm for Christian behavior. This is antinomianism. It is anti-Christian. The law is holy and good. In Christ, the terrors of the law having been satisfied for us by Christ’s righteousness and now that we live in union with Christ, by the Spirit, under grace, the law is a gift to us and the Spirit does use it to sanctify us.”

    http://heidelblog.net/2013/07/law-gospel-and-the-three-uses-of-the-law-2/

    Unfortunately, this article does contain a serious misunderstanding of the Federal Vision regarding justification–but otherwise, an excellent post :)

  9. Jack Bradley said,

    January 22, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Todd, thanks for that reassurance about West West. I just came across this, from Michael Horton, which I also found reassuring and helpful:

    “While the commands of both testaments fall into the category of “Law,” the Gospel itself nevertheless promises that this very Law will be engraved on the hearts of believers. . . In seeking righteousness, the Law is an intolerable burden leading to despair; but in seeking a manner of gratitude for an imputed righteousness already freely given, the Law is a gift. Christ is not only the foundation of the Gospel, but of the Law as well. In fact, the Law is merely a written rule for the believer’s conformity to Christ’s image, although it can never produce the slightest effect toward that end. It is always the Gospel that produces faith and faith that produces grateful service, but the Law now assists not by adding any power or virtue to the Gospel, but by providing a written rule for the evangelically-produced obedience.”

    http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/articles/calvin_and_the_law-gospel_hermeneutic.shtml

  10. Jack Bradley said,

    January 22, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Lane, I hope you’ll permit a quick endorsement of a great ministry tool (for which I receive nothing financially and have no personal relationship to).

    I just recently discovered a cornucopia of theological journals (all fully searchable) and other resources at galaxie.com. It is well worth the subscription. The webmaster is a familiar and trusted name.

  11. JC said,

    January 22, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    I too am reading Jones’ book in preparation for a SS school class I’ll be teaching on the role of the law in the Christian life. Along with his excellent work, might I commend Kevan’s very thorough and greatly documented work on antinomianism. Bolton’s little book is also amazing. He has quiet the ability to say cover all the bases with minimal writing and he demonstrates a loving boldness in disagreeing with antinomians!

  12. Michael Snow said,

    January 22, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Yes, “timely.” All my life I have heard the cry “legalism” while antinomianism ran rampant.

  13. pilgrim said,

    January 23, 2014 at 2:14 am

    I’ve had some interesting discussions with Mar–a good mind-and a heart for the gospel.

    I’ll have to check this book out.

  14. pilgrim said,

    January 23, 2014 at 2:22 am

    Mark, that’s Mark–with a “K”-oops.

  15. tominaz said,

    January 23, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I attended the WTS-CA faculty conference on Sanctification last weekend. As #6 Scott Clark mentions, the audio should be on the website later today. Mike Horton gave an excellent address “Sanctification Undermined” in which he engaged with antinomianism and neonomianism.in their historic and present forms. My suggestion is to listen and then, perhaps, re-evaluate.
    BTW I am WTS-PA grad.

  16. January 23, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Part 2 of the series on nomism and antinomianism is up now.

    I understand that there is worry about and a perception of widespread antinomianism. I believe that it exists in broad evangelical circles, especially where forms of dispensationalism have flourished. Is there evidence, however, that it is rampant among confessional (NAPARC) Reformed churches?

    I have heard anecdotal reports that pastors in the Southeast USA are concerned that it is widespread in their congregations. I have not heard similar reports about the Northeast, East, West, Midwest, or Mountain-West. One objective measure would be a spike in church discipline cases. Is there evidence of a significant increase in the number of discipline cases before sessions, presbyteries, or other assemblies (consistory, Classis)?

    My experience, over the last 30 years, is that it is difficult to predict, when I am on the road, whether I will hear the gospel in an average NAPARC congregation. I am virtually certain to hear the law in some form. It is a delightful surprise when I hear the gospel. Now, that is only one man’s anecdotal evidence. Perhaps, in the providence of God, I needed to hear the law particularly on those Lord’s Days. I should think, however, that I also needed to hear the gospel.

    We did just come through the so-called Federal Vision crisis/controversy. That form of nomism did produce actual ecclesiastical action. I understand that there is concern about antinomianism but is there an parallel movement on the part of the antinomians requiring an equivalent response?

  17. Michael Snow said,

    January 23, 2014 at 11:39 am

    This quote from Charles Spurgeon bears on this topic: http://spurgeonwarquotes.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/holy-living-spurgeon-precepts-war-chritistians/

  18. January 23, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    One thing that I remember having a hard time convincing people of is the fact that WSCA taught (on its better days) that the law/gospel distinction is something primarily applied to the doctrine of justification, and that it’s not necessarily a hermeneutical grid through which every verse in the Bible must be filtered (unless, of course, every verse in the Bible is about justification).

    That said, though, I do remember getting frustrated when certain people did in fact treat each and every passage as though it were either law or gospel (and then treat all law passages as accusatory and threatening, which in my mind does smack of Lutheranism).

    But Horton thankfully was always more careful than that.

  19. Ron said,

    January 23, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Remember, Frame thinks God is simple AND complex, God is three persons AND one person, Gordon Clark was right (with respect to Van Til), and the Reformed confessions are wrong on the second commandment.

    Dr. Clark,

    I trust you believe God is “simple” lest he is left to conform to abstract qualities.To be impressed by God’s holiness is to be impressed by God himself. No problem there I trust. So, what is in Frame’s formulation of “complex” that you find troubling or contradictory with respect to God’s simplicity? Moreover, in what contradictory sense does Frame think God is three and one and how might you be a fair judge of such a contradiction given your view of paradox and your belief that “God’s essence is a dark, unrevealed entity. God, as he is in himself (in se) is hidden from us…We know that God’s hidden essence is but we don’t know what God’s essence is. We’re not capable of knowing or understanding that essence. We know what God has revealed of himself to us”?

    I won’t bother trying to tease out what you mean when you say that Frame sided with Clark (as well as the part about the second commandment).

    All that said, my experience is like yours. Very little gospel in most churches.Very little indicative at all in fact, mostly just imperatives. I also like the part about God’s providence. Maybe I need to hear more law, but all the time?! :)

  20. January 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Ron,

    Re: divine simplicity I explained that on the HB.

    Scripture teaches that God is simple. The Reformed churches, following holy Scripture, confess that God is simple. Our theologians teach that God is simple. Scripture does not teach that God is complex. The churches do not confess it and Reformed theologians do not teach it. Socinians have taught it. Open Theists and others have taught it.

    Have you read Recovering the Reformed Confession? The Reformed do not confess, have never confessed, that we know God in se. We only know God as he accommodated himself to us. That’s BASIC, fundamental Reformed theology. Read Junius. Again, it’s thoroughly documented in RRC.

  21. Ron said,

    January 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Dr. Clark,

    I don’t think you dealt with my questions.

    Frankly, sometimes I get the impression that you’re running from a play book that prevents you from dealing with (understanding too?) what is being argued and / or asked.

  22. January 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Ron,

    Did you read the post on the HB?

    I answered your question. I just don’t accept your apparent assumption that there is some formulation of “divine complexity” that would be true to Scripture and orthodox. When you ask, “what is there about Frame’s formulation…” I reply: that it is exists.

    It is contrary to reality to say “God is complex.” This is not some rationalist a priori invented out of my head and imposed on people in order to harsh their mellow. This biblical and catholic truth!

    “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” He isn’t one and many. He is one, in three persons. This is the of the essence, e.g., of our doctrine of immutability.

    See these two essays:

    http://rscottclark.org/2012/09/horton-on-hellenism-and-open-theism/

    http://rscottclark.org/2012/09/richard-muller-on-open-theism/

  23. Ron said,

    January 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    All that said, my experience is like yours. Very little gospel in most churches.Very little indicative at all in fact, mostly just imperatives. I also like the part about God’s providence. Maybe I need to hear more law, but all the time?!

    Clarification – this is my assessment of the church without reference to where I have been a member or where I currently worship. Thankfully, my experience regarding membership is quite different than what I see when on vacation or on those rare occasions I’m away for business over a weekend.

  24. Ron said,

    January 23, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I just don’t accept your apparent assumption that there is some formulation of “divine complexity” that would be true to Scripture and orthodox.

    Dr. Clark,

    You cannot properly infer that I assume there is some formulation of complexity that is orthodox, which doesn’t logically imply I differ from Frame. I can only imagine that if you drew such a hasty conclusion about what I wrote then it is quite possible that Frame’s writings were treated even more recklessly. Personalities aside however, this remark is woefully inadequate: “When you ask, “what is there about Frame’s formulation…” I reply: that it is exists.” As Michael said to Vincent regarding Joey Zasa, “Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.” (Yes, I realize you don’t hate JF, but the sentiment seems fitting just the same.) After all, are you really that anxious to call Frame’s doctrine of complexity unbiblical and unorthodox virtue of its existence without reference to content? If John Frame tagged the doctrine with an unfortunate label yet merely communicated truth that would delight you even in your most sanguine moments, what then? So much for existence being sufficient for rejection! What if, also, when Frame spoke of God as a “person” he distinguished that “we are using person in a different sense from its Trinitarian use?” (Page 488 Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Christian Belief)

    I’ve been down this road way too many times, Dr. Clark.

    Best of providence,

    Ron

  25. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 24, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Scott Clark wrote:

    Remember, Frame thinks God is simple AND complex, God is three persons AND one person, Gordon Clark was right (with respect to Van Til), and the Reformed confessions are wrong on the second commandment. So, perhaps, he is not the most accurate barometer for measuring Reformed orthodoxy and heterodoxy

    Do you really think that Frame would see your simplification as representing his views?

    Secondly, just because you can launch an ad hominum, doesn’t mean his analysis of WSCal is wrong on the issue of antinomianism. Sure Frame his theological problems, but so do you. In RRC you spent more pages warning of the danger of 6×24 Creation as you did regarding the dangers of the Federal Vision and Theonomy combined. So it doesn’t seem likely you have a good grasp of what the real dangers the reformed churches are actually facing either.

  26. Dave Sarafolean said,

    January 24, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Andrew wrote,

    “Sure Frame his theological problems, but so do you. In RRC you spent more pages warning of the danger of 6×24 Creation as you did regarding the dangers of the Federal Vision and Theonomy combined. So it doesn’t seem likely you have a good grasp of what the real dangers the reformed churches are actually facing either.”

    Really? RRC is a defense of confessionalism, not a textbook on all sorts of theological dangers. His discussion of 6 x 24 creation is an illustration of that point. Have you not visited the Heidelblog? I cannot think of one who has posted more about the dangers of Federal Vision than RSC.

  27. January 24, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Andrew,

    I’m excited that you’re looking for resources on the FV. Happy to oblige.

    Here is the HB category on the FV

    One reason I didn’t say much about the FV in RRC is because I had just published a book on it through the same publisher.

    Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry.

    This title is also available via iTunes.

    There’s also an inexpensive booklet that several congregations have found useful. Perhaps you would like to order a batch for your congregation?

    Baptism, Election, and the Covenant of Grace.

    There is also a free, pdf of an article on it at the Confessional Presbyterian, “Baptism and the Benefits of Christ.”

    Finally, there’s a lot of audio on the FV, including a great series of interviews with Lane (!) on the Heidelcast as well as a series of talks on the Nine Points adopted by the United Reformed Churches against the FV.

  28. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 25, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Dave,

    Exactly, RRC is about confessionalism, and so we know what Scott Clark thinks are the dangers facing the church in regard to being faithful its confession(s). We know in RRC what his emphasis is. He made the decision about how much space to spend on each topic. I counted the pages he spent per topic in QIRC. What I said about RRC is true.

    His total corpus of writing is certainly more against the FV than 6×24 creation. However in the book he wrote about what’s wrong with the reformed churches, (the RRC) it was his decision to spend more time warning about 6×24 creation than the FV.

    You may disagree with my conclusion, but that doesn’t change the message of RRC as a book.

    Was he careful in the way he represented Frame in his comments above?

    Frame is generally right in his book The Escondido Theology, which is a response about “Two Kingdom Theology”, but antinomianism is closely related, and comes from the same people and places, at least as it has found its way in the Reformed and Presbyterian churches.

    The FV is condemned because they destroy the gospel in the name of holy living. The antinomians may get JBFA right, but what kind of Christian life do they really have?

  29. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 25, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Scott,

    We both know I am more than aware of what you have on your blog. You know quite well that I already know about your blog category for resources on the FV. You know I read your blog, how could I miss it?

    We both know that I am more than aware of your books and where you sell them. While you do have useful resources against the FV, Word for word, Lane’s blog is a much better resource for that purpose.

    What’s better is that Lane really does strive to address other important things like antinomianism, and how it finds its way into the reformed churches.

    So I am thankful that he’s posted a review of Jones’ book.

  30. Steve Drake said,

    January 25, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Andrew,

    it was his decision to spend more time warning about 6×24 creation than the FV.

    Thanks for bringing up this point brother. One that can’t be emphasized enough in this day and age of Christian compromise. While this is not the topic of Lane’s post, it’s good to be reminded of those who have fallen short of the full orthodox position.

  31. Mark B said,

    January 25, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Andrew,
    I think Dave’ comment was spot on (and you are still missing his point).
    My take on RCC was that the overarching theme was to make a case for confessionalism as opposed to conservatism (and other things). Your comments seem to have an inference that they are the same thing, which while often true, is not always the case. Your observation about the time spent on various subjects I think is accurate, but while it may give us partial insight into what Dr Clark’s views are on various subjects (or give us insight into what his pet theological peeves are), that’s about all that can be drawn from them. You (and Steve) seem to be basing your view of it on whether or not the various examples given align with your specific personal definition of what a conservative orthodox position should look like. For that matter, I may agree with you rather than Dr Clark on various examples given, but that’s hardly relevant. I, for one, would find it more helpful if you stated where you specifically think Dr Clark is guilty of antinomianism and why.

  32. Ron said,

    January 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Mark B,

    I resonate with your remark that conservatism must be distinguised from confessionalism. This particular article by DGH makes that very point on a weighty matter facing the Reformed church.

  33. Mark B said,

    January 25, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Ron
    Yes. DGH states more points concisely in that short review than even get mentioned in some rather lengthy books on worship. I appreciated this: ” the case of exclusive psalmody is not going to resolve the worship wars, or if it does, its success will be to make everyone feel like the vanquished”. I think that even if we somehow managed to gather all 14 of the guys in North America that consider themselves true confessionalists together that they would still find themselves in disagreement. For example, Dr Clark has been a prominent voice arguing for confessionalism, but it’s been argued that, because he seems to follow Kline on creation, he’s heretical and not even on the confessional radar. I’ve been accused of being a strict subscriptionalist, but I wouldn’t insist on a strict 6/24hr day creation (I can’t see that a couple minutes either way matter:)), and I think it would be a sin to not encourage those in the body of Christ with talent with musical instruments to use them for God’s glory, so I don’t consider myself one. To argue with Rayburn that when the WCF says psalms the Divines meant hymns also is as ludicrous (hasn’t he ever seen the DPW? it’s clear what they meant), as it is to argue that the Divines meant something other than 6/24hr days when they quoted “in six days God” (I doubt at that point in history many of them foresaw Darwin and the current controversy).

  34. Andrew said,

    January 27, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Lane,
    Genuine question: how do you fit your statements about Christians no longer being totally depraved in with Westminster Confession of Faith 13.2? “This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” The way I understand and define total depravity is well expressed in that phrase: “some remnants of corruption in every part.”
    Thanks.

  35. greenbaggins said,

    January 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    It’s a good question, Andrew. the way I would put it is like this: the old man and the new man are fighting inside the believer. Both the old man and the new man encompass every aspect of our being, but partially in each aspect. Yes, there are remnants of the old man in every aspect of our being, but there is also the Holy Spirit dwelling in every aspect of our being, and wherever He is, that part of us in no longer totally depraved. I define total depravity a bit more specifically as having no non-depraved sectors anywhere in our being. I don’t know if this makes any sense to you. It is a difficult thing to describe.

  36. rfwhite said,

    January 27, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Speaking of the old man/new man, I remember John Murray’s discussion of the old man and the new man in his Principles of Conduct as a model of great clarity. As to the question of total depravity and the Christian, it looks to me that we have to be careful to distinguish the place and degree of depravity. Depravity is still found in all our parts (total as to place); because of the Spirit’s renewing work and presence in the Christian, however, depravity is not found in the same degree (not total as to degree).

  37. Reed Here said,

    January 27, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Does this help at all? Paul hold out “death” as a matter of the end of a relationship.

    Our sin nature is dead to us, that is we have no relationship with it, regarding the penalty due us for it. This is the effect of justification.

    Our sin nature is dead to us, we have no relationship with it, regarding its power over us. This is the effect of sanctification.

    Our sin nature is still alive to us, we still have a relationship with it, regarding is presence in us. This will be dealt with at glorification.

    It is only in this latter sense that we have a relationship with our old sin nature. It is dead in terms of its penalty and power (Rom 4, 6). Yet it is still alive in terms of its presence (Rom 7, the old man vs. new man).

    Thus, our new nature can be dominant; we are no long totally depraved, under the rule and obligation (power and penalty) of our sin nature. Yet our old nature is still alive, at least in terms of its presence.

  38. Andrew Buckingham said,

    January 27, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Good post Lane, and an important topic.

    Interesting discussions seem to be running parallel at OLTS, as well. Interesting..

    Take care.

  39. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 28, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Mark B,

    You may need to read my comments again. In my first comment, I was responding to Clark’s ad hominem re: Frame. Clark was discrediting Frame’s critique of Westminster California because of Frame’s theological problems. So I pointed out one of Clark’s errors, that would disqualify him from a critique of Frame on the the same basis. I was specific and accurate. I engaged an application of the principles in Matt 7:1-5.

    You are mistaken in thinking I argue for conservatism. I don’t. I’m for radical continual reformation, seeking where, at least I, need to be corrected in both doctrine and life based on the teaching of Holy Scripture. You also don’t seem to grasp what the overarching goal of Westminster California is. If you haven’t read Frame’s Escondido Theology, then do so. (If you don’t want to read the whole book the answer is on page 153).

    While RRC may have a stated purpose about confessionalism, but that’s clearly at odds with the QIRC chapter section on 6×24 creation. 6×24 is not only taught in the standards in WCF 4.1 but also WLC 120 and WSC 62. So while claiming those as his own with a very, very high ex animo view of subscription, Clark contradicts their teaching. His appeal to authority in doing so, by using Warfield and Machen is fallacious in that Machen and Warfield don’t get to define what reformed is – the confessions do. So under the guise of saying the word “reformed” should be defined by what the reformed confessions say, he ends up arguing the contrary, that Machen and Warfield were reformed, and they disagreed with the WCF on creation so the definition of reformed must include what Machen and Warfield believed about creation.

    Machen and Warfield were good guys, but they were not confessional on creation (or worship). They were hardly alone in their views about those.

    Lastly I didn’t accuse Clark specifically of antinomianism. In my reply to Dave, you should note there is shift way from Clark specifically to more general grouping.

    So, if you haven’t read Mark Jones book, you should, then you can analyse the writings from Westminster Seminary California professors and graduates and judge for yourself.

  40. Tom Albrecht said,

    January 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    “Depravity is still found in all our parts (total as to place); because of the Spirit’s renewing work and presence in the Christian, however, depravity is not found in the same degree (not total as to degree).”

    Let’s be careful. TP depravity, even for the unbeliever, has never been defined as total in degree, but only as total in extent. The unbelievers’ actions are never as bad as their potential because they are not as depraved as they could possibly be.

    As RC Sproul puts it, “The Bible teaches the total depravity of the human race. Total depravity means radical corruption. We must be careful to note the difference between total depravity and “utter” depravity. To be utterly depraved is to be as wicked as one could possibly be. Hitler was extremely depraved, but he could have been worse than he was. I am sinner. Yet I could sin more often and more severely than I actually do. I am not utterly depraved, but I am totally depraved. For total depravity means that I and everyone else are depraved or corrupt in the totality of our being. There is no part of us that is left untouched by sin. Our minds, our wills, and our bodies are affected by evil. We speak sinful words, do sinful deeds, have impure thoughts. Our very bodies suffer from the ravages of sin.”

  41. Mark B said,

    January 28, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Andrew D
    Thanks for your clarification. FWIW, I indicated above that I agree in general with your analysis of Clark’s view on 6/24 re confessionalism. Not so much on “The Escondido Theology”. It would seem that Frame bears some animosity towards his former employer, which makes what could have otherwise been a helpful critique in some ways hard to take seriously, as not all of what he mentions corresponds with what I’ve read from various WestWest writers. At least it was toned down a bit from his (overly lengthy) reply to RCC. But that’s my take on it, you are entitled to yours. I don’t really want to argue about various personalities who have obvious differences and whom I don’t personally know.
    I apologize for assuming anything I shouldn’t have about your views in my reading of your comments. However, one of the reasons I responded to them is because they struck a sharp cord with this comment from the original post:
    “This decision not to engage Westminster West feels like an intentional decision on his part……….we need writing on this subject that casts light and not heat on the subject. And when it comes to Westminster West, there has all too often been heat and not much light.”
    So, regardless whether you are accusing one professor in particular or WestWest more generally of antinomianism, I still think it would have added more to the conversation (more light) to state specifically (perhaps with examples) why it would be fair to characterize WestWest as antinomian. To take your example of Clark’s view on 6/24, I see that as more inconsistent personal belief rather than advocating antinomianism.
    Peace, Mark

  42. Ron said,

    January 28, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    1. With Augustine I think we must maintain that all the “good” unregenerate man does is merely the result of one lust restraining another. Man’s so-called good, not wrought in regeneration, suits him for depraved and sinful reasons. The miserly man does not spend his money on licentious living, but the reason for such respectable refrain is a sinful lust for money; if not also self-respect and desire for the respect of others. Maybe splendid pagans aren’t really so splendid after all. God’s common goodness restrains man through the providential employment of man’s sinful lusts in conjunction with man being made in God’s likeness. I for one will not say that Hitler’s judgement won’t be less severe than some splendid popes or nuns. How could I possibly know? {This isn’t a bad reminder for us Christians to consider the impetus for our own works of charity, without getting into a morbid introspection, of course. But a little introspection here and there is always under good regulation.} :-)

    2. When we say that man “can always do worse” or that “Hitler didn’t kill his mother,” we must also maintain, over-and-above the sinful reasons for not wanting to do worse, that man is unable to do other than what God has decreed. So, in another sense man actually is as bad as he can be, in a metaphysical and decreetive sense.

    3. Finally, what I tend to read in discourses on total depravity is not what it actually means but what it doesn’t mean, which I find unfortunate. Points 1 and 2, which I think gets to the heart of man’s depravity, is rarely mentioned by those who profess the doctrine. What is too often missed is that this is no mild antithesis that exists between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. It’s a deep seated enmity.

    My 2 cents.

  43. rfwhite said,

    January 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    39 Tom Albrecht: I agree with your call for care when speaking of depravity. Having previously read and learned from Sproul’s statement, I appreciate your citation from him. From his statement, it looks to me that his contention is that degrees of depravity in a sinner are a matter of the frequency and severity of his sinning. Is that how you understand him?

  44. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Mark B,

    There is no intentional heat in my remarks. Here’s the deal with antinomianism vis-a-vis Westminster Seminary California in four words: “Lee and Misty Irons”. This is were it all leads. They don’t teach there, but if you read the Upper Register and Misty Irons’ “Musings On” and “More Musings On” especially the Upper Register, you’ll see Irons own thoughts on the major influence on his thought (and where he got his MDiv.) Consider why Irons would call his website the Upper Register.

    The one thing they (Irons and the Westminster Seminary California faculty (in general)) have in common is a shared theological school of thought. Does that make it the cause? No, correlation doesn’t imply causation. However, surely you’re familiar with what Dr. Michael Horton who does teach at Westminster Seminary California wrote:

    Legal benefits (“partnerships”) at least allowed a distinction between a contractual relationship and the covenant of marriage. However, the only improvement that “marriage” brings is social approval—treating homosexaul[sic] and heterosexual unions as equal. Although a contractual relationship denies God’s will for human dignity, I could affirm domestic partnerships as a way of protecting people’s legal and economic security.

    http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/05/11/should-we-oppose-same-sex-marriage/ (accessed 1/28/2014 17:18 EST) emphasis mine.

    Why does a domestic partnership protect anyone’s legal or economic security? Are unmarried persons at more legal risk simply by being single? No. They are not at risk, but rather those partnerships are meant to provide next-of-kin “rights”. So what Horton is doing is supporting legal status for an evil relationship. I don’t see how that avoids in some real sense calling evil good. In no sense is it loving to to affirm people in sin is it?

  45. JackMiller said,

    January 28, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Andrew @43:
    And there are professors at WSC that would not take the position that Dr. Horton quoted in your comment. So? And how does his statement prove anything that is anti-confessional or antinomian? And then how does the above position by Horton show that the overall doctrinal and confessional teaching of WSC is defective? Are there any graduates of WS Philly that one could call into question as to being neonomian? Should one make broad brush accusations against Philly due to any of them?
    But…

    There is no intentional heat in my remarks.

  46. JackMiller said,

    January 28, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    The rest of Dr. Horton’s quote:

    I could affirm domestic partnerships as a way of protecting people’s legal and economic security. However, the “marriage card” is the demand for something that simply cannot consist in a same-sex relationship. Human love is defined not by a feeling, shared history, or animal attraction, but by something objective, something that measures us—namely, God’s moral law. To affirm this while concluding that it’s good for Christians but not for the rest of us seems to me to conclude that this law is not natural and universal, rooted in creation, and/or that we only love our Christian neighbors.
    At the end of the day, what tips the scales toward the second view is that I can’t see how neighbor-love can be severed from love of God, which is after all the most basic command of all. Even if they do not acknowledge “nature and nature’s God”—or anything above their own sovereign freedom to choose—reality nevertheless stands unmovable. Like the law of gravity, the law of marriage (of one man and one woman) remains to the end of time—not just for Christians, but for all people everywhere.

    - See more at: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/05/11/should-we-oppose-same-sex-marriage/#sthash.enQaVudM.dpuf

  47. Tom Albrecht said,

    January 28, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    #42. “From his statement, it looks to me that his contention is that degrees of depravity in a sinner are a matter of the frequency and severity of his sinning. Is that how you understand him?”

    I’m not sure I get that meaning from Sproul. I would say there are degrees of sinning, i.e., in thought, word and deed, rather than degrees of depravity, which is a condition.

  48. January 29, 2014 at 11:24 am

    FWIW, I’ve taken a strong stance against homosexual marriage. I’m opposed to legitimizing or sanctioning homosexual relationships.

  49. January 29, 2014 at 11:25 am

    The link is here:

    http://heidelblog.net/category/homosexuality-2/

  50. greenbaggins said,

    January 29, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I have gone on record before, and I will reiterate my stance here on John Frame’s book _The Escondido Theology_: it was a hit piece, written by a bitter man trying to get revenge at WSC for how he felt he was treated. Frame has written lots of good things, but this book wasn’t one of them. I think it is quite telling that he wasn’t able to get any decent publisher to take the book (when almost all his other books are published by P&R). He had to self-publish this book. I have found many inaccurate statements in it that distort what WSC teaches. I do not recommend the book at all.

  51. greenbaggins said,

    January 29, 2014 at 11:42 am

    And just to point out a different way to engage WSC: I think the exchanges in the Confession Presbyterian Journal last year, this year, and LW next year will show how the debate ought to proceed.

  52. Tom Albrecht said,

    January 29, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    #46. So is it Horton’s contention in this quote that he can support “it” as long as it’s not called “marriage?” Can I set up a domestic partnership to provide economic security for my cat? It starts off sounding rather utilitarian.

  53. Ron said,

    January 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Can I set up a domestic partnership to provide economic security for my cat?

    Only if they’re the same sex. If not, then they must get married.

  54. Tom Albrecht said,

    January 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    #48. Does that stance include “domestic partnerships?”

  55. Jack Bradley said,

    January 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Lane, I can’t agree with your facile dismissal of Frame’s Escondido book. He’s honest about his jaundiced view of West West, but his critique is too thoroughly buttressed by substance to dismiss it out of hand. One example, which accounts for the radical Two Kingdom view espoused by Iron’s and others at West West:
    “Kline seems to believe that since common grace culture involves cooperation between believers and unbelievers, that believers should accept, in some measure, within that sphere, the standards of non-Christians. That, in my judgment, is a very dangerous position. The ultimate standard for human life is the word of God, the Scriptures. If the Scriptures limit the degree to which Christians and non-Christians can cooperate in some cultural area, then so be it.
    . . . One way or the other, it is impossible (in principle) for a believer to avoid imposing biblical principles upon the body politic. There is room for debate as to just what principles of Scripture government should invoke in a particular situation. But it is always wrong to seek in government a complete indifference to religion in general or to the word of God in particular.
    . . . [we must] defend the Christian’s freedom to bring all the activities of his life under the word of God, and to bring these to bear on non-Christian societies insofar as that is biblically legitimate. It is to defend the continuation of the great tradition of Christian activism. . . Christians should never concede that non-Christian societies, because they are governed by common grace, should be left alone. Christians should never imagine that their religion has no relevance to the public square.”
    171, 176, 192

  56. Jack Bradley said,

    January 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Make that: “Irons” :)

  57. Ron said,

    January 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    But it is always wrong to seek in government a complete indifference to religion in general…

    Not only is it wrong for Christians to seek this, it’s impossible for government to meet such naive expectations. So-called religious indifference must manifest itself in the non-indifference of opposition to the religion in view.

  58. greenbaggins said,

    January 29, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    There are several problems with this quotation by Frame. First of all, he doesn’t allow for the category of natural law, as defended by, say, Van Drunen. But the natural law category is what allows 2K guys to defend heterosexual marriage on grounds that unbelievers can conceivably agree with. Second of all, Frame doesn’t make a distinction between the first and second tables of the law, as Scott Clark does, for instance. Thirdly, Frame doesn’t make a distinction between radical and less radical forms of 2K, a failing I have noticed quite consistently among critics of the 2K positions. So, the Frame quote is a distortion of WSC positions, lumps them all together, and fails to understand the 2K positions on 2K’s own assumptions and positions.

  59. greenbaggins said,

    January 29, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    And the statement “Christians should never imagine that their religion has no relevance to the public square” is a common canard and a misunderstanding, not to mention a gross caricature of 2K positions.

  60. Jack Bradley said,

    January 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Lane, if you want Frame’s fuller treatment of 2K, you can read his Doctrine of the Christian Life. Frame does make a distinction between radical and less radical forms of 2K, He also has extended sections on Natural Law. (Doctrine of the Christian Life, 612):

    “Certainly [2K] thinkers have encouraged Christians as individuals to take an active part in politics and to oppose injustice by appeal to natural law. . . But, as we have seen, a right knowledge of natural law presupposes Scripture. Denial of the right of Scripture to criticize government opens the door wide to injustice, even atrocity.”

    Again: “a right knowledge of natural law presupposes Scripture.”

    Kline’s (and Kline’s followers) radical 2K views do not, cannot, affirm this presupposition of Scripture: 534: [quoting Kline, Kingdom Prologue, 96]: “Particular emphasis needs to be given to the fact that the political, institutional aspect of common grace culture is not holy, but profane.”

    536: “Certainly nothing in Genesis 4-9 suggests that God made any distinction between holy and nonholy governments and cultural movements, though he certainly made distinctions between righteous and wicked ones. . . Kline’s contrast between holy and nonholy governments and cultural programs does not exist in Genesis 3:16-9:17 (or, I suspect, anywhere else in Scripture). Certainly in these chapters God never founds as institution or cultural program and declares that it is, and should be, nonholy. God establishes culture before the fall, in Genesis 1:28. In 3:16-9:17, he expects people to carry out these duties in faithfulness to him. That’s all there is to it.”

    Frame displays how Kline’s radical 2K “claims a duality, not only in God’s providence, but also in God’s standards. There are secular values and religious values, secular norms and religious norms. Secular society is responsible only to follow natural laws, the morality found in nature. . . Therefore, although the Christian can participate in the general culture, he should not seek to Christianize it, to turn it into a Christian culture. There is no such thing as a Christian culture; there is only secular culture and a Christian church.” (Doctrine of the Christian Life, 871).

    Lane, if you think these last sentences are a caricature, you simply don’t know many West West graduates–who are completely consistent with Kline.

  61. Ron said,

    January 29, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    And the statement “Christians should never imagine that their religion has no relevance to the public square” is a common canard and a misunderstanding, not to mention a gross caricature of 2K positions.

    Lane,

    Lest you are misunderstood, I believe that precise quote from your standpoint is not a caricature of 2K positions. What the literal quote communicates is, I believe, something you think is agreeable to 2K. I would imagine that the quote was an attempt to correct what the author thinks defines 2K, which you think is a caricature of 2K. Or did I miss something?

  62. Jack Bradley said,

    January 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Lane, How is this for a 2K “common canard”:

    “The very essence of faith, at least the Christian variety, might be that it is private, personal, and something to keep distinct from expression in the public arena of politics.” –A Secular Faith, pp. 176-177, Darryl G. Hart, Adjunct Professor, Westminster, Escondido.

  63. dgwired said,

    January 29, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Jack B., does the word “might” mean anything to you? Can’t we talk about this? Or is it your position that public expressions are of the very essence of faith? If so, what do you make of Jesus telling us to pray in closets, not put on displays when fasting, or give without calling attention to ourselves?

  64. Jack Miller said,

    January 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Tom A,

    #46. So is it Horton’s contention in this quote that he can support “it” as long as it’s not called “marriage?” Can I set up a domestic partnership to provide economic security for my cat? It starts off sounding rather utilitarian.

    You miss the point. What Dr. Horton would accept or not re: civil unions, etc. doesn’t speak directly to the issue of antinomianism properly defined or to the question of the orthodoxy of WSCal’s teaching. Go ask Dr. Horton his views rather than speculate or solicit guesses. I personally fall into advocating against civil unions. Will it be the end of the world if it were to become the law of the land? Does if follow that the gospel would suffer? Go ask the first century Christians. Though the argument doesn’t sway me, do I think support of same-sex civil unions on the ground of protecting citizens economic and legal rights to be clear evidence that someone is antinomian? Certainly not.

  65. Jack Bradley said,

    January 29, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    DGH wrote: “Jack B., does the word “might” mean anything to you?”

    I think the question is, does “might” mean anything to you?
    Why would you highlight this word now, unless you really don’t mean what you say?

    Did you mean this in your book: when you addressed Abraham Kuyper’s appeal to “the Lordship of Christ over all temporal affairs”–that such an appeal “fails to do justice to the reduced character of Christ’s sovereignty in the Christian era.”

    I don’t see a “might” here.

    DGH: “Or is it your position that public expressions are of the very essence of faith?”

    No. I of course do not need to hold that position in order to question your position.

  66. dgwired said,

    January 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Jack B., I am questioning Kuyper (in case you couldn’t figure that out). “Might” works just fine.

  67. Jack Bradley said,

    January 29, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    So, if “might” is rhetorical, I take it you do mean, “reduced character of Christ’s sovereignty in the Christian era”, and that you do mean, “The very essence of faith, at least the Christian variety, [*is*] that it is private, personal, and something to keep distinct from expression in the public arena of politics.”

  68. Ron said,

    January 29, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Jack,

    Walk with me a moment. I’m going to show some real ignorance here, so I hope you can bear with me.

    Let’s assume that the tax benefit I get by being married is not sinful. On what biblical principle do I get such a benefit? I can’t think of one, which doesn’t mean I think it’s wrong that I get one. Now let’s suppose that two old widowed woman (widowed to show their sexual preference) wanted to gain the same sort of tax benefit yet were set on never marrying men again. Would it be biblically unlawful for them to pursue a “domestic partnership” or a “civil union” in order to gain the perquisite status for similar benefits? Is a promise of romance or conjugal activity required for such an agreement? I really don’t know the answer to that, but if it’s no, then on what basis may it be opposed? I don’t think I would want to see legislation based upon an appearance of evil, even if the shoe usually seemed to fit. My theonomic bones forbid such tyranny.

    However, sexual relationships aside, is it biblical to enter into these sorts of covenants (even if purely platonic)? Let’s say for argument’s sake it’s not biblical. Let’s say it’s actually sin. Not all sins, however, should be deemed crimes.The Bible distinguishes between murder and anger, lustful looks and adultery, just to name a couple. This general equity of the law that distinguishes crimes from non-criminal transgressions should be upheld I think. So, as one who believes that the practice of homosexuality should be illegal based upon God’s law, on what basis should we not allow two old ladies to gain a tax break through a legal partnership? Now, of course, if the civil case laws forbid platonic covenants, then I think that general equity ought to be modelled in contemporary application, which doesn’t imply that all Christians would need to crusade on that hill. Again though, all this is moot for me if such covenants presuppose sexual relations. What say you?

  69. JackMiller said,

    January 29, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Ron, sorry I’m thick. I’m not following all your qualifications and hypotheticals. Are you suggesting if something is against the moral law then the state should legislate it as a crime?

  70. Jack Bradley said,

    January 29, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Ron, I’m trying to appreciate your example, but from everything I know there is much more of a tax penalty for being married than a tax advantage–which accounts for much of the shacking up we see.

  71. Ron said,

    January 29, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Too many Jacks. Jack Bradley I meant to address, but let me elaborate / clarify because I might have been unclear.

    Are you suggesting if something is against the moral law then the state should legislate it as a crime?

    No, I wasn’t saying that at all. In fact, most sins are not magisterial concerns as I believe God would have it. Government should not punish for sinful anger, but it should most often punish when anger is acted upon with force or reckless behavior. That’s fairly non-controversial I would think.

    To my point, if non-marital compacts do not imply the necessity of homosexual tendencies acted upon, then on what biblical grounds are such agreements to be denied, on the appearance of evil? That seems a bit frothy to me, if not tyrannical by biblical standards. In an effort to leave no stone unturned… if same sex platonic arrangements are sinful due to some principle I’m unaware of, we must remember that God legally sanctioned sinful divorce as an accommodation under Moses. Indeed, Jesus tightened that regulation under the newer economy so I think governments are responsible to follow suit; notwithstanding, we may not dismiss, at least without a bit more exegesis, that God would not actually have governments regulate same sex unions for tax benefits (given that married folks enjoy the benefit), but only because such unions feasibly can be platonic and not provide occasion for sinful behavior (like the two old woman); they need not foster illicit behavior, so why should the tax break be denied? Read on…

    Now, of course, I do recognize that most such unions are of the sinful sort and that the interested parties want to parade their sin publically if not, also, tear down the culture. The point I’d like to make is that the sin we should be concerned with, whether we think its punishable or not, is not to be indexed to place of dwelling or a government tax break but to the illicit act itself. Indeed, if the ungodly practice of homosexuality was illegal, then I suppose homosexuals that were more interested in the tax break than inflicting their morality on society would stay in the closet and take the money and run.

    All that to say, I think a case can be made that the biblically correct thing to do would be to grant the same tax break to same sex partners that married folks enjoy, whether these unions be comprised of God-fearing old ladies on social security or whatever. In a word, the problem isn’t the equality of tax breaks or shared dwelling, but rather that a particular sin does not come under the domain of civil government. We mustn’t build a fence around the wall. If we fail to do the latter, that’s no reason not to allow the former.

    Now of course I have a different slant on this than most of those who also agree that such persons should get the tax break, but I also have a different slant on those who would deny the tax break yet legally condone in the public sphere this sinful act. Yet given these differences, I don’t see how it’s antinomian with respect to one’s personal piety, if that’s what you meant.

  72. Ron said,

    January 29, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Ron, I’m trying to appreciate your example, but from everything I know there is much more of a tax penalty for being married than a tax advantage–which accounts for much of the shacking up we see.

    Jack,

    Single people are crippled by taxes relative to married couples.

  73. Jack Bradley said,

    January 29, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Ron, I was thinking of retired singles who do suffer tax-wise & benefit-wise for getting married, since you used the example of “two old widowed women.” But I do agree that singles in general are penalized more tax-wise.

    You asked: “Would it be biblically unlawful for them to pursue a “domestic partnership” or a “civil union” in order to gain the perquisite status for similar benefits?”

    Yes, I do think so. What else does a “domestic partnership” or a “civil union” imply other than a married, sexual relationship? If we start advocating these terms for pragmatic reasons, such as tax benefits, we are sacrificing biblical principles for pragmatism. And you certainly don’t have to be a “Theonomist” (which I am not) to say that.

  74. Jack Bradley said,

    January 29, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Of course, it goes without saying, we should seek legislation that corrects this inequity.

  75. Ron said,

    January 29, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Jack,

    Let me add something that might be helpful. I believe that non-evangelical worship of a public nature should be illegal. Not a popular view, I know. Yet I also believe that citizens that come from Muslim countries should be able to own houses in the states even though such ownership could possibly afford opportunity for false worship. By analogy, same sex persons living together, whether they’re the golden girls or Bruce and Skippy, isn’t the issue for me. The issue for me is drawing the line at sin and not those things that might provide occasion for sin. There were differences between touching and eating; trees in the midst of the garden and the forbidden tree; dying and surely dying.

    Again though, I don’t think antinomianism is the issue really, unless that term is being used very selectively.

  76. Ron said,

    January 29, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Yes, I do think so. What else does a “domestic partnership” or a “civil union” imply other than a married, sexual relationship?

    It can imply a high probability of illicit behavior but it cannot imply marriage since marriage is not feasible for same sex persons. Accordingly, the marriage fear is off the table for me. Regarding illicit behavior, yes let’s call it not just sinful but illegal.

    If we start advocating these terms for pragmatic reasons, such as tax benefits, we are sacrificing biblical principles for pragmatism..

    I’m not quite sure how you can avoid arbitrary prejudice against a certain class of persons if you don’t justify your views by an authority greater than yourself. Natural law indeed tells us it’s wrong, but it doesn’t tell us whether it’s a crime.

    If we placed the transgression under the jurisdiction of civil government, where I think God would have it, we wouldn’t be discussing this issue. There would be no marches promoting such behavior and we wouldn’t see states caving into the pressure. The only ones who would be seeking the tax break would be closet cases and frat boys.

  77. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 29, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Jack M @45/46:

    It is entirely disingenuous to suggest (as Horton does — suggesting its about legal and economic security) that the subject of domestic partnerships is not about “gay” rights. Sure he’s insistent that it not be called marriage, but so what. The domestic partnership is just a ruse to nudge the conversation further in that direction. And intentionally or not, he helped move it along. As he says, Horton could affirm domestic partnerships, but he should not, under any circumstances.

    The domestic partnership is a apartheid (separate but equal) solution for those who choose partners that don’t meet the biblical or has Horton would prefer the natural or creational definition of marriage. Despite the equivocation on the the reasons for domestic partnerships, there is really one and only one reason — to establish legal family status rights for same sex couples. Affirming domestic partnerships is calling evil good. Since “good” for man is entirely and only defined by God’s law, calling something evil good is inherently antinomian. Do you have an alternate definition for affirm?

    Moving along to Irons and WSC, as I said they share a common school of theological thought. That doesn’t mean they all will say and agree entirely about every aspect of that system or its logical conclusions. Some focus on different aspects, and not every aspect of that school of thought is not antinomian in itself. People were right to ask questions about the real Westminster Seminary because some graduates were answering questions on justification wrong. So when WSC graduates and professors say things that get questions of Christian living wrong we should give them a pass? Why can’t we insist that both justification and sanctification be handled well and right by seminaries on both coasts?

    Were the Federal Vision guys right that opposition was illegitimate because the anti-FV distilled a common school of thought among the FV, even though the various FV writers didn’t all agree on every aspect of the FV? Did that mean there was no FV? Does that mean that the FV is limited to the big 5 or 6?

  78. Ron said,

    January 29, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Andrew,

    Because the GOP and Coral Ridge types are all in panic doesn’t compel me to build a fence around where the wall should have been built all along. It’s some sort of mock horror that we’re now having over civil unions. What did we expect when we decided to negotiate “thus saith the Lord” for an appeal to the nature of things? Taking issue with the non-sin of a tax break for sinful, fallen people is not the solution to our problem. The problem is we scrambled outside the pocket when we gave up on presupposing the epistemic Lordship of Christ and Scripture as our final appeal even to a lost world that will not hear.

  79. jsm52 said,

    January 30, 2014 at 1:07 am

    Andrew D.

    Me: “And how does his [Horton's] statement prove anything that is anti-confessional or antinomian? And then how does the above position by Horton show that the overall doctrinal and confessional teaching of WSC is defective?”

    I understand your position/accusation and that you disagree with Dr. Horton’s position as stated, but aside from that it seems to be just a lot of hand waving…

    Should adultery be a crime? For anyone to run a business on the Sabbath, should that be a crime? Is it a violation of the moral law to vote for an otherwise competent candidate for mayor if he is pro-abortion or if he has a female “relationship” outside of marriage? All three, if no, why not? If allowed, is that calling evil good?

    AD:

    … correlation doesn’t imply causation…

  80. Tom Albrecht said,

    January 31, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    #64. ” Though the argument doesn’t sway me, do I think support of same-sex civil unions on the ground of protecting citizens economic and legal rights to be clear evidence that someone is antinomian? Certainly not.”

    Since the law of God is against such unions, what would you call such advocacy?

  81. Tom Albrecht said,

    January 31, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    #58. “Second of all, Frame doesn’t make a distinction between the first and second tables of the law, as Scott Clark does, for instance.”

    And that is the novelty of Clark’s 2K position. The moral law is binding on all men. The second table is not more binding than the first when it comes to the magistrate in his roll as diakonos of God. Neither is the first table out of bounds as Clark argues.

  82. Ron said,

    January 31, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Since the law of God is against such unions, what would you call such advocacy?

    Tom,

    That the law of God is against something should not suggest to you that what it is against should be illegal. The law of God is against drunkenness, but should drunkenness in the home, as unfortunate as that is, be against the law? Isn’t Scripture clear that because something is sin is not a sufficient condition for enacting civil laws in an effort to curtail that sin? Since not all sins are to be considered crimes, your premise needs a bit of refining. I wouldn’t call you antinomian if you were to think that sinful bottled-up anger shouldn’t be permissible under civil law.

    Secondly, although I for one think that many applications of porneia are to be civil matters (bestiality to name an easy one), I don’t think that there should be laws against owning pets. In the like manner, the sin in view is homosexual acts and not that which might afford occasion for such acts.

    I think it is about time Christians start dealing with the root cause of this resolvable tension, but that might lead to dealing with our inconsistencies and reluctance to invoke the Scriptures on matters of civil law.

  83. JackMiller said,

    January 31, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Tom @80:

    Should someone who is homosexual have the same constitutional legal and economic rights as other citizens?

    As I wrote, I don’t support civil unions as necessary to achieve that end. Civil unions and marriage are not constitutional rights. The state is not mandated to legislate and sanction either in order for citizens’ constitutional rights, both legal and economic, to be protected. If you agree that as citizens they should have equal rights then the question is what are the appropriate means to that end. One might view civil unions as a means to that end (mistakenly IMO) without being an antinomian, which term describes a position that advocates that the believer has no need of the moral law in the Christian life. One would certainly need a lot more evidence than this to support a charge of antinomianism.

    Should a man and women who live together outside of marriage have the same constitutional legal and economic rights as other citizens?

    Divorce is a sin. Moses allowed (sanctioned) divorce. Was he antinomian? It seems to me that there is a lot of “hardness of heart” (Jesus’ words – Matt.19:8) in the civil kingdom that in certain situations might be “allowed” even though it isn’t in keeping with the Ten Commandments.

  84. Ron said,

    January 31, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Jack,

    Sorry to cut in line with a republication of an old post, but I need to to turn a negative into a positive, corrected in bold type below.

    Tom,

    That the law of God is against something should not suggest to you that what it is against should be illegal. The law of God is against drunkenness, but should drunkenness in the home, as unfortunate as that is, be against the law? Isn’t Scripture clear that because something is sin is not a sufficient condition for enacting civil laws in an effort to curtail that sin? Since not all sins are to be considered crimes, your premise needs a bit of refining. I wouldn’t call you antinomian if you were to think that sinful bottled-up anger should be permissible under civil law.

    Secondly, although I for one think that many applications of porneia are to be civil matters (bestiality to name an easy one), I don’t think that there should be laws against owning pets. In the like manner, the sin in view is homosexual acts and not that which might afford occasion for such acts.

    I think it is about time Christians start dealing with the root cause of this resolvable tension, but that might lead to dealing with our inconsistencies and reluctance to invoke the Scriptures on matters of civil law.

  85. Tom Albrecht said,

    January 31, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    #82. “That the law of God is against something should not suggest to you that what it is against should be illegal.”

    I agree that many “private” sins while immoral should not necessarily be illegal. Take lust in the heart as an example. However, that not the issue here. Here we are speaking – using Horton’s words – of public, civil acknowledgement/advocacy of something that is against the law of God. How then do you describe a public position affirming a public arrangement (“domestic partnerships”) if not antinomian? Some make the same argument for adultery and other corruptions of the institution of marriage. But last time I checked adultery is in the same table of the Law as murder and theft. I don’t see anyone suggesting those sins get a pass by the civil magistrate. Where exactly do you draw the line?

  86. jsm52 said,

    January 31, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Tom, Jesus equates divorce except for unfaithfulness to be adultery. Moses allowed divorce… ‘It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce’ (Matt. 5:31). Was he antinomian?

  87. Ron said,

    January 31, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Tom,

    I’m not clear on how you are defining antinomian.I trust you are not saying that Mike Horton does not strive by grace to live according to God’s precepts any less than you do.I have zero reason to question his love for God’s law as it applies to his personal walk with the Lord. In fact, knowing a few of his close friends (and being married to an old friend of his) I have positive reason to believe that he is anything but antimonian in the way I would define the term. Regardless, I limit the “A” word to that sort of thing and don’t bring it into discussions regarding the general equity of the OT civil laws.

    Indeed, I might arrive at the same bottom line conclusion as Mike on this issue though most surely for different reasons. My single point is that I have no sympathy for your frustration with society on this one because you seem only interested in preventing laws that afford greater access to a sin which I’m not sure you would call a crime. If that’s the case, then Mike is more consistent than you. There are three perspectives in view. Gee wiz, I sound like John! :) (I couldn’t have more respect for that man. I’d love to see MH and JF sit in my house and discuss things over some libation. Nuff said.)

    Please consider that (i) you want to call something illegal because it accommodates something you aren’t willing to say should be illegal. How consistent is that? (ii) Mike possibly wants to allow the sin behind the accommodation to be legal (or at least not to be declared illegal based upon an appeal to Scripture), which makes sense of his willingness to allow for the legal accommodation. (iii) Whereas I want the sin behind the accommodation to be illegal, yet am agreeable to the same sorts of arbitrary tax laws for all people (i.e. the accommodation).

    I always prefer to argue on principle. But, from a pragmatic standpoint you and Mike are left to deal with this tension in society differently than I must. If the sin was staunchly opposed from the start as a matter of historic precedence based upon biblical precepts, then the only types of people looking for tax amnesty would be the Higgans and Pickering sorts of chaps. Rather than spoon feeding all the rest of the answers, I’ll leave it to you to figure out how very close you are to Mike. I’ll give you one hint though.Mike could very well be just as outraged and sickened by society as you.

  88. Andrew Duggan said,

    February 2, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Jack,

    Really, me hand waving? That doesn’t mean what you think it means. I don’t just disagree with Horton, I showed you how what he said was antinomian, you just didn’t like it.

    Did you know that until quite recently it was illegal to run a business on the Lord’s Day in most parts of the US? So for the first 200+ years of the US it was wrong for states to make it illegal to run a business on the Lord’s Day? Who was harmed by making it illegal to run a business on the Lord’s Day in the past?

    Should adultery be illegal, or the Sabbath enforced? I’ll answer those if you answer this. Was it wrong for Nebuchadnezzar to make blasphemy against Jehovah illegal (punishable by death) in the Babylonian empire per Dan 3:29?

    Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort

    Babylon wasn’t the covenant people of God. It wasn’t the Holy Nation set apart. So if you want to say it was wrong, then please be specific from scripture why it was. My reading of Daniel is that final clause (in English anyway) in Dan 3:29 at least implies approval of Nebuchadnezzar’s law against blasphemy. If the nations are forbidden from enforcing the first table of the law, then why is Dan 3:29 even in scripture?

    You ask if adultery should be a crime? So I ask you should prostitution be a crime? It seems as though you think that only things that involve money or property (and probably non consensual physical harm — I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt) should be crime?

    Should any action forbidden in the 7th commandment be a crime? If so, then why shouldn’t every action forbidden in the 7th commandment be a crime? NB. I said action, so we’re not talking about words or thoughts.

    The issue here isn’t even over the 1st or 2nd table of the law it’s about what you personally according to your own moral code should think should be a crime.


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