Reply to Jeff Meyers, Part 9

Point number 20 is very interesting to me. Is it any accident that imputation, which is the heart of justification, is not mentioned? Is it any accident that the mechanics of how Christ’s death benefits the believer are said to be indifferent? Pardon me, Jeff, but the mechanics of how Christ’s death and the believer’s justification are related constitute the entire debate of the Reformation on justification. How is Christ’s righteousness given to the believer? Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Reformers believed that Christ’s righteousness became ours. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Reformers believed in union with Christ. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Reformers could say “saved by grace.” The debate turned precisely on how Christ’s righteousness becomes ours. Does it come by an infusion of grace, such that our good works form part of justification (Roman Catholic belief), or is Christ’s righteousness imputed to us when we come into faith-union with Christ? Debate over these mechanics is the main hinge on which our religion turns. It really makes one wonder if Jeff has read any substantive account of the Reformation doctrine of justification. Has he read John Owen? Buchanan? Edwards? Burgess? My guess is probably not. Otherwise, he would not be making such breathtaking claims about the mechanics of how Christ’s death and our justification are related.

Point 21 is about the Leithart quotation, and then it morphs into a discussion about covenant and election. Firstly, let me interpret what I think the committee’s intention was in quoting Leithart here. They quote Leithart as saying that Leithart challenges the Reformed world in some way. They then turn that quote rhetorically to their advantage to say that the FV challenges the Reformed world in the very thing that makes the Reformed world Reformed. I seriously doubt that the committee was intending to state that Leithart would have agreed with the paragraph immediately after the quotation, nor that the following paragraph is what the FV proponents would actually come right out and say. The rhetorical effect of using this quotation is something like this: PL: “The FV challenges the Reformed world in some aspects.” Committee: “Yeah, it challenges the Reformed world in what is distinctively Reformed, and therefore constitutes an abandonment of Reformed orthodoxy.” In other words, the committee is using the quotation against him in a rhetorical manner. I think that Jeff probably missed this in his effort to manufacture misinterpretations on the part of the committee. With regard to these two boundary markers, I will repeat what I have already said before: saying that Israel is elect, but that some will be cut off is not the same as saying that every individual has this covenantal election wherein he is justified, sanctified, adopted, etc., which he then loses because of his apostasy. The properties of the whole are simply not the same as the sum of the properties of the individual members of that whole. To say that it is is called the fallacy of composition. I will reiterate the chemistry lesson in simple terms: sodium is a poison. If you put it on your tongue, it will burn a hole through it. Chloride is also a poison. So, we might think that the combination is even more poisonous than each component by itself. But the chemical combination sodium chloride is table salt. Much less poisonous than sodium or chloride by itself. We use the same argument in defense of capital punishment. When Jesus says “Judge not,” He is talking to individuals, not to a nation, as is obvious from the context, where the applications are all to individuals. Therefore, the nation has the right to judge, as is obvious from Romans 13. Private judgment and public judgment by the state are two different things. We are saying that the properties of an individual are not the same thing as the property of the aggregate. The same thing is true of “corporate election.” God’s choosing Israel out from among the nations has no bearing on whether each individual Israelite has “covenantal justification, sanctification, adoption, etc.” It simply does not bear on the subject. I am not denying that there are benefits that come from being part of the chosen nation. But that is different from saving benefits: not all Israel is of Israel. This plainly proves my point.

On point 22, Jeff must have missed the reference to Ralph Smith’s book on the Trinity and Covenant, which most certainly was referenced. No footnotes or citations? Footnote 17 doesn’t count as a reference? This is poor reading, Rev. Meyers. The last part of the paragraph constitutes an example of the first part of the paragraph. Meyers makes a further error when he claims that because there are differences in the FV position between the Adamic administration and the Covenant of Grace, that therefore the FV men are bicovenantal. this does not follow. I can say “the difference is that one was made with Adam and one was made with Christ.” That does not make me a bicovenantalist. The key principle in the bicovenantal schema of the WS is the works/grace distinction. If that is not affirmed, then one is not a bicovenantalist, whatever other differences may be asserted between the first and the second covenants. The works/grace distinction is clearly the operative distinction between the two covenants in chapter 7 of the WCF.