It has come to my attention in the debates surrounding various posts of mine here that a methodological question needs to be raised. Various people have hinted at it, but Chris’s comments brought it rather starkly to light.
A parable: a Jehovah’s Witness claims up one side and down the other that Jesus is Mighty God (via Isaiah 9:6. They do say that this passage refers to Jesus. However, then what they say is this: “He is not *Al*mighty God, only Mighty God. Oh, and they will also put “God” in lower-case letters. If one were to ask them “Do you believe that Jesus is God?” They can say “yes.” But they qualify it such that they really don’t say it. One could conceivably keep on pushing the JW to state whether or not they believe Jesus to be God, and theoretically, they could still keep on saying “yes.” But we know that they don’t mean it.
FV guys do the same thing. We will accuse them of denying the visible/invisible church distinction. They will say, “No fair! I said it here, here and here.” But then, if you look at how they define it, they have qualified it away. This is absolutely true of Wilkins, as I have more than demonstrated in my previous post. The same is true of imputation in justification in Lusk. He says he believes in imputation in one place, but then he will say that imputation is redundant in another. It cannot be both, friends. The truth of imputation cannot be expressed simply by union with Christ, since the RCC church also believes in union with Christ. I am really, really tired of FV supporters thinking that it is a good argument to say “He said this over here,” when we, as critics, actually acknowledge it most of the time. I have been extremely careful in this regard in my posts on Wilkins’s exam. In fact, this caution is clearly in evidence with regard to the visible/invisible church distinction. The real issue is this: is the theology consistent with the WCF (or 3FU) everywhere?
So then, what I mean is that Lusk, for instance, in taking away imputation (saying it is redundant, that is) has taken away what is distinctive from the Reformed position vis-a-vis Rome wrt justification. Rome believed in union with Christ. This is the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, par 790 (pg. 227): “Believers who respond to God’s word and become members of Christ’s Body, become intimately united with him: ‘In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification.’ (quote is from Lumen Gentium 7) This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ’s death and Resurrection, and the Eucharist, by which ‘really sharing in the body of the Lord,…we are taken up into communion with him and with one another’ (quote from Lumen Gentium 7).”
The question that imputation deals with is this: “How does the righteousness of Jesus become mine?” The answer cannot simply be union with Christ, since that does not differentiate us from Rome. Rome would say that the righteousness of Christ comes by way of union with Him and receiving the infusion of Christ’s righteousness. See CCC pars. 2019-2023. The Reformation says that the righteousness of Jesus Christ comes to us by way of imputation, not by infusion. This was the entire debate with regard to justification in the Reformation. Some might say “that is a terrible argument, to argue that Rome said this, and therefore we cannot believe that.” That’s not what I’m arguing, actually. What I’m saying is that the Reformation had major differences with Rome over justification. What were the nature of those differences? If we say the same thing as Rome, then we have denied that we are Reformed. That’s what I’m arguing.
Has Lusk dealt with the Rome question of imputation? That is, has he anywhere detailed why it is that saying imputation is redundant does not also take away the barrier to Rome? How does he differentiate his view from Rome? One would presume he would want to do so.
So, let’s cut through the methodological double-speak and ask the right question: is the FV theology compatible at every point with the WCF (or 3FU)?