FV’s “Covenantal Justification”

Posted by David Gadbois

Bob Mattes has gone and stolen my thunder again in his recent post. Well, sorta. I started writing this post after a few folks were discussing the validity of FV’s idea of “covenantal justification” in the combox of an earlier post of mine. Hopefully this can complement Bob’s excellent comments by focusing on this specific issue.

I have six main objections to the idea of a “covenantal justification” that elect and non-elect members of the covenant share.

1. It is usually a term that FV proponents use in a completely undefined manner. Appending the adjective “covenental” to the term “justification” does not give meaningful definition to the term. Responsible systematic theology does not just toss out terms, concepts, and ideas that are devoid of cognitive and definitional content. In both pastoral and academic contexts, such ideas are worse than useless, since they cause confusion as well as fail to answer or illuminate questions of theology. It does no one any good to have terminology that is a shell or container that is empty of meaning. FV is compelled to offer this undefined term because of considerations explained under #3.

It is true that much Christian doctrine does contain mystery. But even in a doctrine like the Trinity, we find both a meaningful and coherent definition of what the Trinity is: three co-eternal persons who share one divine essence. There is much mystery involved in this, as we ask how this can be so and contemplate all of the ramifications and questions that come from this truth. So it cannot be comprehended. But we know that this is true, so the fact that three persons share one divine essence can be apprehended. Therefore, the reality of mystery in Christian doctrine cannot be used to defend FV’s error at this point.

2. Insofar as FV indexes the meaning of “covenantal justification” to the traditional Reformed doctrinal category of “justification”, it is incoherent. As Bob Mattes pointed out, such a reality is “digital” or binary – either it is present, or it is not. No gray area. Either Christ has satisfied the legal claims of God’s law on the sinner, and the sinner is reconciled to God and declared judicially righteous or He has not. The perfect demands of God’s law proceed directly from God’s nature as perfectly just. So there is only one, undivided courtroom in which the sinner’s legal, judicial status is decided, and the sinner can be either judged guilty or acquitted unto reconciliation with God and eternal life. There is no room for a half-way, temporary, or quasi-justification or forgiveness.

Justification takes place once for all. It is not repeated, neither is it a process; it is complete and for all time. There is no more or less in justification; man is either fully justified, or he is not justified at all. (Berkhof, ST, pg. 513)

Neither can this justification be of a corporate nature. This does not mean that there are not groups of justified sinners who can be rightly labeled a “justified body.” It means that God judges the judicial status of individuals, and appropriates either eternal life and reconciliation or else punitive damnation to individuals accordingly. Either according to the works that the individual has done, or according to the works of their Substitute.

Further, the doctrine of limited atonement tells us that only the elect, and not NECMs, have been atoned for by Christ’s work. So how can the non-elect have a justification that has not been effected by Christ’s subsitutionary atonement? Should we not ask, along with Paul in Romans 3:21-26, how God can be just and yet be the one who justifies sinners.

3. FV is forced to postulate the existence of a “covenantal justification” because FV theology posits the existence of a parallel ordo salutis, where benefits accrue to NECMs that are similar or analogous to various counterpart ordo salutis benefits that belong exclusively to ECMs. But there is neither a logical nor exegetical reason to believe in the existence of this parallel ordo.

The reprobate may be in covenant with God. They may enjoy for a season the blessings of the covenant, including the forgiveness of sins, adoption, possession of the kingdom, sanctification, etc., and yet apostatize and fall short of the grace of God.” (Wilkins, The Federal Vision, p. 62)

FV proponents such as Wilkins teach that this parallel ordo must exist because these benefits are said to be true of the audience of Paul’s epistles. Therefore, they conclude, such benefits (such as those listed in Romans 8, Ephesians 1, and I Corinthians) must be true of the whole visible church, whether elect or not. But this completely (and unjustly) dismisses the standard Reformed interpretation of Paul’s epistles, that Paul speaks to his audience with a presumption of charity, where he assumes that his audience is regenerate and elect. FV’s hermeneutic demands of Paul the sort of precision that we do not even normally demand in modern speech. Depending on the forum and medium, we often speak in the second person plural to potentially-mixed audiences in a generalizing way, making implicit assumptions and have unspoken and non-explicit qualifications.

It also ought to embarrass FV proponents that verses such as Romans 8 guarantee the perseverance of these “elect” who have justification and that the “elect” of Ephesians 1 have the seal of the Holy Spirit and are thus predestined for eternal salvation. We often have to walk our Arminian friends through the “Golden Chain of Redemption” in Romans 8, showing them the unbreakability of the ordo salutis. Why are we having to explain that to Federal Vision proponents as well?

4. There is no lexical or semantic basis for establishing the idea of a “covenantal justification.” Yes, it is true that the dikaio word group has a broader semantic range in the NT than is used in our definition of justification as a category of Reformed systematic theology. It can sometimes be used, as in James 2, to mean something like “to publicly vindicate”, rather than “to be declared righteous” in the divine law-court, as Paul uses it in soteriological contexts. But neither of these meanings establishes a separate sort of “justification” that is “covenantal” rather than decretal.

If FV wants to say that “covenantal justification” means that NECMs are “declared righteous” in some sense, then in what judicial sphere or law-court and according to what principle of law is this declaration made? If the answer is anything other than the divine law-court, according to the demand of perfect obedience required by the law issued in the Covenant of Works, then this “justification” cannot result in reconciliation to God, and adoption as a son and heir to eternal life. I then refer the reader once again back to Bob Mattes’ latest post.

5. More broadly, there is no exegetical basis for establishing the idea of “covenantal justification.” Even going beyond the “microscopic” level of lexical considerations, the NT never uses the term “to justify” or “justification” to refer to or define an alternate reality other than the so-called “decretal” sense that applies to the elect alone (when speaking of justification before God in soteriological contexts). Nor does it ever apply these terms to refer to all members without exception, including non-elect, within the covenant.

6. Positively, Romans 1-3 tells us what the status of non-elect covenant members is. They are not justified. Paul says that Israel, God’s covenant people, is in the same exact boat as Gentile sinners. These NECMs are “lawbreakers” who are not any better than non-elect non-covenant members (v. 9), and “alike are under sin.” Paul says that both groups are “not righteous”:

None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Paul’s conclusion? There is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

On account of all of these considerations taken together, we can cast a just conclusion. And let us be frank: FV’s “covenantal justification” is a big pile of sophistry. Transparently so. It exists, not as a serious, well-defined category grounded on systematic or exegetical concerns. It is an idea cobbled together to prop up FV’s inflated notion of quasi-salvific benefits that supposedly accrue to non-elect covenant members. It is a silly idea in service of bad theology and is thoroughly worthy of ridicule.

Advertisements

247 Comments

  1. Jack Spencer said,

    December 10, 2007 at 9:31 am

    The center of FV is this “covenant renewal” model of liturgy. It determines their view of salvation. Those quasi-salvific benefits all accrue by the grace conveyed in the sacraments, so that loyalty to the institutional church is buys you a ticket you heaven at the second justification.

  2. anneivy said,

    December 10, 2007 at 10:35 am

    ISTM there’s a motive underlying the FV insistence that whatever Paul wrote regarding the Church was necessarily applicable to every person (at least those baptized) in the assembly, and this is an utter determination that the children of believers be regarded as saved.

    At least in some sense. ;-)

    This doesn’t apply to each and every FV adherent (or sympathizer) without fail, but over the years I’ve noticed that many who are enthusiastic about the FV tend to be very child-centric.

    Mind, I’ve quite a few poppets of my own to whom I’m slavishly devoted, so I can see where they’re coming from, up to a point. ;^)

    The “you and your children” passages feature heavily in FV theology. That the “children” in question are the spiritual children of Abraham (whom, according to Christ, He could easily raise up from rocks, if need be) is rejected in favor of the “children” being believers actual kids.

    Basically, they appear to want salvation to be their offspring’s default position, i.e. theirs to lose, to employ a term often heard during the Olympics or other sporting events, wherein all a particular athlete has to do to win is not fall flat on his face.

    It cannot be denied it’s a comforting thought, that one’s beloved children have eternal salvation as their default position, that it’s “theirs to lose”, so that all their children need to do is remain “covenantally faithful/obedient” and it’s in the bag.

    It’s not biblical, but it’s certainly comforting. Were the LORD to put this up for a vote, I’d be all in favor. He didn’t, though, and it’s not the way it is. The children of believers have plentiful opportunities to hear and respond to the outward call in a way denied to the majority of the world, but that’s as far as it goes.

  3. davejes1979 said,

    December 10, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Anne, my problem with this particular business is the fact that, even though FVers feel free to just make up terms, they don’t feel any obligation to clearly define what these terms mean. Whatever they mean, apparently they think it is important enough to be divisive about it. And in that they show great contempt for the rest of the Reformed world about it. I admit that my comments in the last paragraph of the post are…saucy. Perhaps over-the-top. What struck me was not that this idea was intellectually indefensible. What struck me, especially as I reviewed Wilkins’ written response to his presbytery, was how vigorously FV was willing to dig its heels in on matters like this. At least some of these guys are convinced that their little, peculiar pet doctrines are worth tearing apart churches, presbyteries, and denominations. Sad, sad stuff.

  4. Denae said,

    December 10, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Only the regenerate are justified. Without it, one will perish. May the Church cherish and jealously guard the basic Gospel, and how one is saved.

    Excellent article, Dave.

  5. December 10, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Is not much of this resolved if we understand the Covenant of Grace (Redemption) to be made strictly between God, through Christ, and His elect?

  6. Andy Webb said,

    December 10, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Thanks Dave. BTW – I believe it would behoove us to stop using the FV wiggle term – “Non-Elect Covenant Members.” As in “Non-Elect Covenant Members are also really united to Christ by Baptism.” Let’s make it obvious what they are really saying by referring to them simply as Reprobate Members of the Church. The system begins to sound as blasphemously unbiblical as it really is when one says “Reprobate (or eternally Damned) Members of the Church are also really united to Christ by Baptism and enjoy the benefits of his redeeming work.”

    BTW – so much for Christ only dying for His Sheep, now we have Christ Dying for His Sheep and “His Goats.” When are these guys going to realize that this is not the theology of the Westminster Standards, but the theology of the members of the English Church opposed to the Westminster Standards. Their theology lines up perfectly with Laud, not Love.

  7. December 10, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Baptism does not unite anyone to Christ, only faith (sola fide) does that.

    Great point Andy.

  8. December 10, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    David G.,

    Great article! Sorry about the overlap. I finished mine whilst watching a team of juvenile equines tread a team of dark carrion-eating avi into the dust. But it’s all Anne’s fault anyway. :-)

    I see that you remain quite fond of Berkhof. I taught through him in a Saturday theology class at my last church. Berkhof wasn’t my first choice for the class as I inherited the class from someone else, but the more time I spent with him the more impressed I became. Your posts have drawn me back to look at his work yet again.

  9. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 10, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Andy (#6):

    I believe it would behoove us to stop using the FV wiggle term – “Non-Elect Covenant Members.”

    While I don’t use the term in the same way as the FV, I believe it is a valid term to use. The children of Israel were circumcised as a sign of belonging to the covenant; our children are baptised because of same.

    There *is* a legitimate fuzziness to the boundaries of the covenant, which corresponds to the fuzziness in the boundaries of the church.

    If we cannot affirm that some of our children might be Non-elect Covenant Members, we really cannot answer the accusation that we are deliberately bringing reprobates into our churches.

    Now, the other points that you make are also ones that concern me; I’m not arguing for any of the FV content, but rather for a legitimate sense of the term.

    Jeff Cagle

  10. anneivy said,

    December 10, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    The FV makes mice feet of all the petals of the TULIP, but particularly limited atonement. The orthodox Reformed position on LA is that Christ purchased eternal life and its attendant spiritual blessings for His elect. Now the FV has Him purchasing spiritual blessings of one form or another for the Churched Reprobate.

    Sort of a Limited Limited Atonement, with the “eternal life” atonement being applicable to a subset of the Atonement Provided for Everyone in the Church.

    The FV also knocks the pins out from under Total Depravity, since some FV’ers insist the Churched Reprobate can really, truly believe in the Jesus Who Is, not just a Jesus who is a figment of their imagination. The orthodox Reformed belief has been that the Jesus Who Is is anathema to anyone not regenerated, as the natural, unregenerated man is an enemy of God. It’s that binary thing Bob mentioned….either one is regenerated, meaning one is capable now of seeing and putting one’s faith in the Jesus Who Is, or one is not regenerated, meaning they have a heart of stone, are dead in their sins, and are natural-born God-despisers.

    If the reprobate are able to turn to Christ in faith, that pretty much toasts Total Depravity as a theological construct.

    Perseverance is trashed because the traditional doctrine says only those who are regenerated are capable of turning to and putting their faith in the Jesus Who Is, and once one has done so one is guaranteed to continue until death (although one might appear to fall away for a time). The FV has the Churched Reprobate putting their faith in Christ yet that faith not being sustained by the Holy Spirit. Thus endeth Perseverance. Just because someone possesses saving faith in May is no guarantee they’ll possess it in August.

    Unconditional Election is pushed off its orthodox moorings since one’s “final election” is conditioned upon one’s remaining “covenantally faithful/obedient” until death. The FV tries to keep its passport to the Reformed world in effect by saying whether or not one remains covenantally faithful/obedient is predestined by God, but that still leaves the Churched Reprobate being viewed as part of the elect, which is scarcely the traditional definition of who is counted among the “elect.”

    Irresistible Grace is weakened since it’s inextricably tied to Perseverance, as the latter is dependent upon the former.

    The FV bears a rather-more-than-passing resemblance to orthodox Reformed doctrine, but it’s sufficiently different that it’s unrealistic for its adherents to expect it to coexist in the same church or denomination as ORD.

    One way or another, each petal of the TULIP is plucked by the FV.

  11. December 10, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    I’m with Andy on this one. From the beginning of my blogging, I have called them what they are–reprobates or unregenerates in the visible church. I don’t like euphemisms as they are designed to obscure the underlying truths.

    Besides, if one uses NECM, then of what covenant are they members? If it’s the mythical “objective covenant”, then that’s a non-starter anyway.

  12. December 10, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Anne,

    The FV makes mice feet of all the petals of the TULIP, but particularly limited atonement.

    Mice feet of the petals? I must admit that my rodent lore is lacking on this point. From whence does that phrase come?

  13. anneivy said,

    December 10, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Heavens to Betsy, I don’t know. Just picked it up somewhere….most likely in a book. Seem to collect all sorts of odd expressions like that.

    Can I keep and retain anything useful like geometric equations or the capitals of the states?

    Nooooo.

    I glom onto peculiar aphorisms. :-D

  14. Travis said,

    December 10, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    I GooGleD “makes mice feet” and got Anne as the source in another GB Post. Do-do-Do-do…..

  15. December 10, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Anne, the problem with your thesis is that we are all five-point Calvinists, classically defined.

    And Bob, I though NECM was a term that was settled on by consensus, but I would be happy to start using RCM (Reprobate Covenant Members). And it doesn’t make hash of anything, but rather makes sense of a great many things. Who enjoys the common operations of the Spirit for a time? RCM. Who tramples underfoot the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified? RCM. Who once tasted the heavenly gift? RCM. Who escaped for a time from the corruptions of this world through their knowledge of Jesus Christ? RCM.

  16. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Sitting in a physical building doesn’t make you a covenant member.

    Regeneration and the grace of faith makes you a covenant member.

    And read Richard Muller on the visible church. It doesn’t refer to a building.

  17. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Wilson is saying: “OK, I can’t have this biscuit, so I’ll have this cookie that I’ll call a biscuit…”

  18. December 10, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Doug,

    If we’re negotiating terms, I’m very fond of RIVC (reprobates in the visible church). I think that’s the most accurate.

  19. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    >If we’re negotiating terms, I’m very fond of RIVC (reprobates in the visible church). I think that’s the most accurate.

    But there also ‘currently unregenerate.’ Not everybody who is currently unregenerate is a reprobate. I would just say UVC (unregenerate in the visible church).

    Then assign anything they get to common grace and to the nature of the external call as Berkhof describes it.

    Actually, just go with what Reformed Theology has taught since Calvin. It hasn’t taught what FVism teaches any more than it’s taught what Norman Shepherd teaches.

    Notice they never give up? That’s a quality of…

  20. anneivy said,

    December 10, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Travis, it’s clear Google isn’t reading the right books, that’s all.

    It’s also clear I’m repeating myself. =8^o

    Gotta go find me some new material…..

    ;-)

  21. December 10, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Bob, Andy, and David M.

    The term “non-elect covenant member” is plenty fine with me. As long as we know what the Covenant of Grace actually is and entails.

    All of the visible church is under the Covenant of Grace as a legal relationship, whereby Christ’s salvation is offered by the ministrations of the visible church in the preached Word and Sacrament. So I disagree with those who only see the CoG as applying to the invisible church and the elect. I take it this is what the FV mean when they talk about the objective nature of the covenant.

    What FV fails to grasp is the dual aspect of the covenant, a point that I mentioned a few articles back here. Although the whole visible church is under the administration of the CoG (the legal aspect), only the elect receive the offered salvation in Christ by faith, and thus are in the CoG as a “communion of life” with Christ and are made to be in union with Christ and recipients of all the blessings of His saving work.

  22. December 10, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Robert K states,

    “Regeneration and the grace of faith makes you a covenant member.”

    ~ This definition would, like mine, apply to those who show signs of true repentance and saving faith. In other words, without saving faith, you’re not a covenant member. This understanding fits in nicely with Jer. 31.

  23. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 10, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Doug (#15):

    Who enjoys the common operations of the Spirit for a time? RCM. Who tramples underfoot the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified? RCM. Who once tasted the heavenly gift? RCM. Who escaped for a time from the corruptions of this world through their knowledge of Jesus Christ? RCM.

    These things are fine, and no-one objects to them (I don’t think?!).

    It’s other things: “temporary justification”, “genuinely attached to Christ, then fall away”, “subsequent justifications”, an insistence that baptism always has an effect at the moment of baptism, an insistence that all who are baptized members of the church *are* Christians (not “should be called”, but “are”).

    It is those things that I either (a) can’t understand despite ongoing efforts, or (b) do understand and can’t accept as either Reformed or Biblical.

    If the former, I would suggest that the FV is being poorly presented. And if the latter, then I would suggest that the FV needs revising.

    Put simply, most of us have always understood TULIP in terms of man’s inability, which corresponds to the necessity and sufficiency of the work of Christ:

    TU — Christ’s work is necessary
    L — Christ’s death is limited to the elect
    IP — Christ’s work is sufficient.

    The FV as it has been presented in the various books and articles I’ve read wants to broaden L to include some kind of work or death on behalf of the RCMs. But in the process, it requires that Christ’s work *of that kind* is not sufficient for the RCMs to remain in the vine.

    So that leaves the rest of us wondering how this works out pastorally. The sufficiency of Christ’s work is the mainstay of our assurance; that sufficiency appears to be replaced in the FV by our perseverance.

    Thus there is an appearance of “pragmatic Arminianism.” That appearance is not helped by some of the language quoted above, nor by the FV emphasis on the necessity of works for salvation (which I *agree* with, but not in every formulation), nor by an affirmation of “Covenantal Nomism” (isn’t that the Pharisees were all about, as NT Wright demonstrated?!), nor by comments about “complacency” — comments which might be true, but are often received as code words for “we want to crack the whip and get people to work harder.”

    So without shouting nasty epithets in your direction, still and all, I would like for you to understand how someone like me could begin with a neutral and hopeful attitude towards the FV, and yet end up frustrated, bewildered, and — if a vote came to it tomorrow — ready to declare the doctrine of the “objective covenant” unorthodox. For the sake of people like me, please make an effort to build bridges here.

    Jeff Cagle

  24. December 10, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Doug,

    Going into your second paragraph of #15, I must take some issues:

    Who enjoys the common operations of the Spirit for a time? RCM.

    OK, no problem here as long as we mean the same things by common operations.

    Who tramples underfoot the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified? RCM.

    Updates in [] Problem here is that they were never sanctified by Christ’s blood [in a saving sense like the elect]. Regeneration and justification precede [the] sanctification [given only to the elect], and reprobates don’t get any of these. These are not common operations of the Spirit as listed in WLC Q.63. [However, if you mean simply that they benefited from the God’s special care and government in the visible church as Q.63 says, then I agree. I more fully flesh out the difference in comment #36 below. I apologize if I misunderstood your meaning initially.]

    Who once tasted the heavenly gift? RCM.

    If by heavenly gifts you mean the list in WLC Q.63, I’m with you. If you mean something else, I have a problem with this statement. Anything beyond common grace and the list in WLC Q.63 is reserved for the elect only.

    Who escaped for a time from the corruptions of this world through their knowledge of Jesus Christ? RCM.

    Depends what you mean by the knowledge of Jesus Christ. If you mean pure head knowledge consisting of understanding (notitia ) and assent (assensus) but without trust (fiducia) and without the illumination of Scripture by the Spirit, OK. Anything more claims benefits only possessed by the elect.

    That’s the nature of being reprobate. The only extra benefits that the reprobate get by being in the visible church over those who never darken the door are those listed in WLC Q.63, which are based on Scripture.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  25. December 10, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    David G.,

    Don’t disagree with anything you said in #21. It’s just that there are differing definitions of the ‘C’ in NEMC that bother me. FVers can use the term and mean a completely different group than non-FVers. Explaining the dual aspect of the covenant, which you, Grover Gunn, Berkhof, and others do quite well, gets tiresome after a while. Leaving the ‘C’ off adds clarity to the term. Just my thoughts.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  26. December 10, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Bob says,

    “Regeneration and justification precede sanctification, and reprobates don’t get any of these.”

    ~ So are these who trample the blood of the covenant regenerate? Possibly falling away, for a time?

  27. December 10, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    Robert K., RE #19,

    But there also ‘currently unregenerate.’ Not everybody who is currently unregenerate is a reprobate. I would just say UVC (unregenerate in the visible church).

    I agree 100% and defer. I didn’t think of that in my hasty commenting. “Unregenerate” is actually what I use in my posts. I was trying to get something pronounceable, but sometimes that doesn’t work out well.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  28. David Gray said,

    December 10, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Brother Mattes,

    Who do you believe is being referred to in Hebrews 10:29 when it says:

    “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”

  29. December 10, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    Whether you are not-yet regenerate (unregenerate) or a reprobate, you cannot have been sanctified by the blood of the covenant. You have to be elected, justified, and regenerated in order to have been sanctified.

  30. December 10, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    David M., RE #26,

    Calvin has some great comments on Heb 10:29:

    29. Who has trodden under foot the Son of God, etc. There is this likeness between apostates under the Law and under the Gospel, that both perish without mercy; but the kind of death is different; for the Apostle denounces on the despisers of Christ not only the deaths of the body, but eternal perdition. And therefore he says that a sorer punishment awaits them. And he designates the desertion of Christianity by three things; for he says that thus the Son of God is trodden under foot, that his blood is counted an unholy thing, and that despite is done to the Spirit of grace. Now, it is a more heinous thing to tread under foot than to despise or reject; and the dignity of Christ is far different from that of Moses; and further, he does not simply set the Gospel in opposition to the Law, but the person of Christ and of the Holy Spirit to the person of Moses.

    The blood of the covenant, etc. He enhances ingratitude by a comparison with the benefits. It is the greatest indignity to count the blood of Christ unholy, by which our holiness is effected; this is done by those who depart from the faith. For our faith looks not on the naked doctrine, but on the blood by which our salvation has been ratified. He calls it the blood of the covenant, because then only were the promises made sure to us when this pledge was added. But he points out the manner of this confirmation by saying that we are sanctified; for the blood shed would avail us nothing, except we were sprinkled with it by the Holy Spirit; and hence come our expiation and sanctification. The apostle at the same time alludes to the ancient rite of sprinkling, which availed not to real sanctification, but was only its shadow or image.

    The Spirit of grace. He calls it the Spirit of grace from the effects produced; for it is by the Spirit and through his influence that we receive the grace offered to us in Christ. For he it is who enlightens our minds by faith, who seals the adoption of God on our hearts, who regenerates us unto newness of life, who grafts us into the body of Christ, that he may live in us and we in him. He is therefore rightly called the Spirit of grace, by whom Christ becomes ours with all his blessings. But to do despite to him, or to treat him with scorn, by whom we are endowed with so many benefits, is an impiety extremely wicked. Hence learn that all who willfully render useless his grace, by which they had been favored, act disdainfully towards the Spirit of God.

    It is therefore no wonder that God so severely visits blasphemies of this kind; it is no wonder that he shows himself inexorable towards those who tread under foot Christ the Mediator, who alone reconciles us to himself; it is no wonder that he closes up the way of salvation against those who spurn the Holy Spirit, the only true guide.

    Hope that helps.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  31. December 10, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    So for Calvin then, the sanctification spoken of here is not part of the ordo salutis?

  32. Mark T. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Bob nails it in comment 18 because the FVists must succeed in degrading the language of the controversy in order to win the controversy (it’s not a debate). And if the term “reprobate” doesn’t fit, then perhaps “children of wrath in the visible church” does. You must maintain the words “visible church” and “invisible church” because if you don’t, then it’s just a matter of time before the FVists will have you using the “visible covenant” and the “invisible covenant.” The former is of grace; the latter, which trumps the former, of works.

    Along these lines, Pastor Bordow has written an excellent essay here that, among other things, contemplates the improper use of words in this controversy. As usual, it is very insightful.

  33. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Jeff C., you’re asking the FVists to be more clear when it is against their interest to be clear. What is happening now is everything they want to be happening. They want to sow confusion and out of the dust they hope to gather a few more moments of delay before the King returns. They can only play for time. Committed rebels can’t defeat God’s plan, but they can annoy God’s plan (rebels to the Kingdom of God actually think they can defeat God, though, it’s the core irrationality of sin). And since nothing happens that doesn’t further God’s plan they are probably hastening their judgment by their own actions without realizing it.

  34. David Gray said,

    December 10, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    It certainly appears that Calvin is believe the verse to be referring to those who are guilty of the “desertion of Christianity.”

    I think Turretin’s comments on this are interesting in his Institutes (Fourteenth Topic, Question XIV):

    “One sanctification by the blood of the covenant in internal, spiritual and real, belonging to those who are actually redeemed and regenerated by Christ; another is external and apparent as to profession. The former necessarily supposes that Christ died for those who are sanctified; but not so the latter because many hypocrites obtain sanctification by reason of an external calling or a reception of the sacraments (to whom, nevertheless, Christ with his benefits does not belong, since they are destitute of faith). When Paul speaks of those who count profane the blood fo the covenant wherewith they were sanctified (Hebrews 10:29), he cannot mean the former sanctification, which is inadmissible upon the hypothesis of the Reformed, but the latter — such as belongs to those who (professing the gospel, sprinkled in the sacrament of baptism) renounced it by a denial of Christ and apostasy from teh gospel. Just as he who takes the bread of the Eucharist unworthily is said to be guilty of the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor 11:27, 29).”

    By Turretin’s reading those apostates do receive sanctification of a sort, it is not to be understood to be the same as that received by those with faith.

  35. David Gray said,

    December 10, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    >They want to sow confusion and out of the dust they hope to gather a few more moments of delay before the King returns.

    Do you genuinely believe this? If not it is deceitful. If so it sounds rather mad.

  36. December 10, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    David M., RE #31

    Yes. JFB reiterates with Calvin on this verse (and I’m paraphrasing) that sanctification in the fullest sense belongs only to the elect. Sanctified in the sense of Heb 10:29 merely means having been a partaker of the common operations of the Spirit in the visible church as in WLC Q.63:

    The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.

    Notice the visible church and hence its members are under God’s special care and government. This is part of what David G. meant by the legal aspect of the Covenant of Grace, also called the COG broadly considered. The unregenerate in the visible church have all these benefits and so had greater opportunity to learn of the grace of God and the blessings of the Holy Spirit available to those who believe, and yet turned away. As a result, says Heb 10:29, their punishment is that much greater.

    Having said all that, it looks like I perhaps read too much into Doug’s comment. I assumed that he meant full sanctification, but I see now that I did not have a good basis for assuming that from his comment. I’ll go back and clarify that.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  37. December 10, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    David Gray (too many Davids here!), RE #34,

    I believe that this is consistent with my #36. I made a possibly bad assumption earlier which I will fix.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  38. David Gray said,

    December 10, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    >I believe that this is consistent with my #36.

    Looks that way to me as well…

  39. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    This is an excellent post from Pastor Bordow at Mark T.’s site.

    I think it was a Machen quote (but it couldn’t been been someone else) that said something about false teachers starting with rewriting the dictionary. The quote was put very well, I can’t remember it…

  40. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    False teachers say the same words, but they use a different dictionary. Something like that…

    The point is: nothing new under the sun regarding false teachers…

  41. tim prussic said,

    December 10, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    I think David’s post is helpful in identifying weaknesses and problems some FV articulations of covenant benefits of the NECMs, but I also think it falls into the same old terminological trap as does so much anti-FV analysis.

    There has been a great deal of nondescript adjectives, which do cause confusion. That much is true of enough of the FV writings, that the charge sticks, ISTM. What’s more, I think there’s no enough affirmation on the FV side of David’s positive assertion (point 6), that NECMs are ultimately sons of the Devil. Conversely, on the anti-FV camp, there’s simply not much affirmation of and explanation of the vast array of human experience for both ECMs and NECMs. While the law of the excluded middle (LEM) applies both ultimately and at all times (that is, a man’s either [decretally] elect, or he’s not), it doesn’t demolish distinctions (see David’s point 2). The LEM applies to all distinctions: A man’s either decretally elect, or not. A man’s either covenatenally elect, or he’s not. To affirm a man’s covenantal election is not to affirm nor deny his decretal election, at least logically, as they are distinct. I think this would apply to “covenantal justification” just the same. Thinking ONLY in those two categories doesn’t get one very far understanding the vast array of ways that God draws and hardens men.

    More to the point, NECMs, while ultimately and justly bound for hell, do share in covenantal blessings. So, the question are which blessings and to what extent.

    Since the blessing of the covenant are fundamentally salvific blessings, and since salvific-sounding things are applied hither and yon throughout the Bible to NECMs, it seems FV folks have developed (rediscovered?) a paradigm where, on one hand (scheme A), the salvific blessings of the covenant are applied properly only to the elect who are called. Also, on the other hand (scheme B), the blessings are nominally, externally, and improperly (read: covenantally) applied to all baptized covenant members. All that seems to me fair enough and worth discussion. I find this type of thinking in various Reformed divines, in one form or another.

    The terminological problem is taking scheme-A language and using it to “disprove” scheme-B. Theoretically, both schemes exist side by side, so using the terminology from one to disprove the other is simply an exercise in the fallacy of equivocation. This, ISTM, is exactly what David’s doing in points 2 and 3 in his post, and is a very common mistake among FV critics.

  42. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Re #41: Or, you could just read and learn from Boston’s Human Nature in its Fourfold State. A famously tight, Scriptural treatise laying out the truth of apostolic biblical doctrine in a way that is not the chaotic hell rhetoric you find in FV and FV-supporter comments…

    And, remember something else folks: FVists invent these categories (NECM, etc.) not for any pastoral reasons, as they claim (their stated pastoral concerns are actually vitiated by their doctrine that kills the P in TULIP, etc., etc.), but because they need to build a structure to assault doctrine such as justification by faith alone. Everything they do is done with the motive and goal to attack the heart of the gospel. They are no different from any other common false teachers in the past…

  43. tim prussic said,

    December 10, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Does #42 move the conversation along in any substantial way? His response has nothing to do with the post he claims to respond to and merely attacks FV men. Shouldn’t that be a strike? Looks right down the pipe to me.

  44. Mark T. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    Tim,

    This might help: “Another New Policy”

  45. tim prussic said,

    December 10, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    Thanks, Mark, it does. Sorry for post #43.

  46. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    I post with great trepidation, if it makes you feel any better…

  47. David Gray said,

    December 10, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    >FVists invent these categories (NECM, etc.) not for any pastoral reasons, as they claim (their stated pastoral concerns are actually vitiated by their doctrine that kills the P in TULIP, etc., etc.), but because they need to build a structure to assault doctrine such as justification by faith alone.

    What is your evidence for this statement? How do you know their motives?

  48. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    From their end it’s called: ‘they have a history.’

    From the end of one who knows the truth it’s called discernment for what is false.

    And, David, FVists don’t even *try* to fool Christians who know the truth. They are playing games in that sense. They are only trying to fool innocent people and people currently ignorant of Reformed Theology. Many people who support FV and do it with many and long comments you will find don’t know the basics themselves. We saw this in Jon Barlow who gave away on his blog that he didn’t know the basics of Covenant Theology.

  49. David Gray said,

    December 10, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    I see. You have no evidence as to what their motives are. More hand waving…

  50. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Why do you say no evidence? Does not one’s history give evidence of what one is up to?

    And, it seems you’ve received the FV memo that says: when cornered, affect disingenuous bewilderment at what is being said about us.

  51. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    As per Pastor’s Reed’s request, David, I’m not going to tit for tat with you. Your’e repetitive and you know you can get me ousted. If I do get ousted I’d rather it be for saying boldly the truth directly to false teachers rather than because David followed me around and got me to respond over and over…

  52. David Gray said,

    December 10, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    >Why do you say no evidence?

    Because you didn’t produce any.

  53. Gabe Martini said,

    December 10, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    In post #15, Robert K. said,

    “Sitting in a physical building doesn’t make you a covenant member.

    Regeneration and the grace of faith makes you a covenant member.

    And read Richard Muller on the visible church. It doesn’t refer to a building.”

    Are you a Baptist?

  54. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    It’s rather well-known in these theads I don’t hold to infant baptism. I call myself, for short-hand, description purposes, a John Bunyan Calvinist.

    But it’s a tactic of the FV side to make their poisonous heterodox doctrine that attacks Reformed distinctives (five solas, doctrines of grace, and Federal Theology itself) about sacraments. Infant baptism is not a Reformed distinctive, nor is it a distinctive of Covenant Theology. No one church polity is a Reformed distinctive, otherwise John Owen was not a Calvinist or Reformed theologian.

    Don’t let the FVists play this game that all they are talking about it baptism. They default to baptism when they get pinned on their hatred of God’s doctrine justification by faith alone. They babble about baptism when they are exposed as attackers of the heart of the Gospel, the five solas. They mock what Calvinists went to the stake to defend and bring into the light.

    And these little momentum shifts that are allowed to happen in the FVists’ favor due to moderators putting a chill into everybody are very annoying. When false teachers show up you give them some time to explain themselves, and once they do and expose themselves over and over for what they truly are you deal with them *as the wolves they are* – with no let up – or you don’t deal with them at all.

  55. Daniel Kok said,

    December 10, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Robert:

    I agree that ‘infant baptism’ is not distinctive to the Reformed but it is a sine qua non of Reformed theology. To reject infant baptism is to reject Reformed or classical covenant theology.

  56. Gabe Martini said,

    December 10, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    This is all heartbreaking. All of this hatred, bitterness, and schismatic speak is denying that God sent his Son to save us (John 17), it really is.

    I would be glad to meet you in person and discuss my beliefs, Robert. In fact, I would welcome you to visit our congregation’s worship any week. We’d love to have you and would welcome you with love to the Table of the Lord and get to know you better.

    It is one thing to discuss what one’s intentions are, along with their beliefs, face-to-face, with charity and dignity. It is quite another thing to sit at a keyboard and speculate about various “evil intentions” a particular group of people may have, destroying the peace and unity of the Church.

    I am okay with realizing that you and I may disagree on certain issues (apparently, infant baptism would be one of those things, and that’s fine). I’m okay with diversity among those united as the Body of Christ. We cannot all be the same members.

    I pray that you, and those like you on this blog (of which there appears to be many), would embrace the clear teaching of Holy Scripture that we are to love our brothers, pray for our enemies, and live in such a way that shows forth the unity of the Spirit and the love of Christ for His church and the world.

    Peace be with you,
    Gabe M.

  57. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    >I agree that ‘infant baptism’ is not distinctive to the Reformed but it is a sine qua non of Reformed theology. To reject infant baptism is to reject Reformed or classical covenant theology.

    Yes, you’ve been told this. Bunyan, Spurgeon, and Pink, three Reformed/Calvinist theologians as on-the-mark as the Spirit of discernment can make theologians, were classical covenant theologians (yes, Pink became so).

    This is the ultimate thread hijacker, but…(I could mention Gill as well, which no commenter here will rival as a Reformed theologian, hardcore, obviously).

    Obviously FVists play on this tension in Reformed Theology between the paedo’s and credos, and yes there is staunch Reformed belief ala R. Scott Clark, et al, that to be Reformed means to not only baptize infants but to hold to continental church polity, etc. (Clark doesn’t think the Puritans were Reformed), but this is all a side issue regarding what these Federal Visionists are doing. They want to redefine Reformed Theology itself, and to it within the temple, so to speak. It is in the interest of myself, as a Christian who not only holds to what the Bible calls sound doctrine but who wants to see that doctrine go out to the world (not just inside Reformed churches) to defend that doctrine against these dangerous false teachers; dangerous because they ARE within the temple.

    And when people have lost the degree of shame that they will defile language itself they are dangerous. Look at the history of the 20th century to see what people who defile language have been capable of doing. It is the spirit of the devil and the tactic of the devil to manipulate language as they do, and if you don’t confront them vigorously they won’t go away. As theonomists they finally wilted and went back to their caves…or bunkers. The devil will flee if you stand up to him.

  58. Robert K. said,

    December 10, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    Gabe, this attitude you promote comes across as a bit empty when I think back to some of your behaviour at the PuritanBoard. Your charity tends to run a bit thin when your precious Federal Vision enthusiasms are being questioned.

    This is spiritual warfare. This is not slight disagreements among the brethren…

  59. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 12:02 am

    And I know people read me and think I’m all intellectual with doctrine (I don’t mean to say I’m intelligent but that some will think I’m in the category of Calvinists who see doctrine as all head knowledge), but I have experiential understanding of apostolic biblical doctrine which is what Calvinism is a nickname for. And I know cults and cult leaders and the tactics used by them. I also see how valuable it was for me that pure Reformed doctrine existed for me to find. It was ‘close’ because when I first came into putative Calvinist environments I first came into ones that were populated with theonomists and Federal Visionists (and those quasi-related Reformed Catholics). There was alot of “what is going on here?” reactions in me. When you can discern sound doctrine you know when something is ‘off.’ I had advantages in that I knew the Bible, from the Bible, in a massive dose way, and I had gotten the basics from J. I. Packer’s Concise Theology (ha ha, I can hear the laughter from the intellectual vanity part of the gallery, but you know what? a beginner can’t do much better, God bless Mr. Packer for that little book). Then in the midst of that theonomy/FV mush I, on the side, learned Covenant Theology. By then the FVists and related types were very clear to discern. And it is obvious how they confuse people new to Reformed Theology who have less armor when they enter their sphere of influence.

    Don’t underestimate the ability of the FVists to corrupt people. When they are the ‘gateway’ to Reformed Theology there seems to be a stubborn loyalty that develops in the unwary-recruited that one has to go to the world of cults to find analogous behaviour for.

    Confront them, and never lose an opportunity to show their followers just what their leaders are. That is as pastoral as it gets.

  60. Gabe Martini said,

    December 11, 2007 at 12:04 am

    I am fully aware that I may have at some point been unkind in my words or less than prudent in choosing what words to use to convey my feelings, opinions, or beliefs on the Internet at some point in the past. If I have sinned against you, I ask for your forgiveness. No offense, but I didn’t even realize we had spoken before. Nevertheless, what I said is true, and it is something to be considered by all, no matter what your theological convictions may be. Theological formulations are worthless if we do not love one another. You are ignoring what I have said, though. I still welcome you to speak with me about anything you wish, so that your knowledge of “FV” or anything of the like can be grounded in an actual, charitable interaction with another human being — and not merely speculation or reading another without charity. Please, for God’s sake, I would ask everyone that reads this blog to meditate on the words of Christ and the teaching of John in his first epistle… “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.”

    Again, I realize I have acted immaturely on the Internet before (I’m a young guy, after all), especially on the Puritanboard. Much of it was likely misunderstandings or the disadvantage of not being able to hear another person’s tone when conversing with them. The Internet is a dreadful means of meaningful communication. This is why I attempt to stay out of “blogging” and other things as much as possible. However, when I come across posts such as this, so full of misunderstandings and harsh accusations, I can’t help but be heartbroken. I can’t help but plead that we could embrace one another as brothers and sisters in Christ — even IF we disagree in the end, which I concede may surely be the case.

    Peace be with you,
    Gabe M

  61. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 12:21 am

    Gabe, you’re leaving out the fact that Federal Vision doctrine and those who push it are not just minding their own business, they are actively attempting to take over churches and denominations and rewrite confessions. They know this fifth column operation gives them all their current leverage that their current numbers would never afford them. If they just minded their own business they’d be a single A minor league baseball team somewhere in Moscow, Idaho Jehovah’s Witness League.

    And when self-described Reformed Christians attack the five solas and doctrines of grace, and Federal Theology in general – and do it using tactics with language that the most corrupt in the secular world use – they are not my brothers, pure and simple. If that sounds harsh, you’re too sensitive, or you’re pretending to be.

  62. Andy Webb said,

    December 11, 2007 at 12:26 am

    Gabe,

    I ask the following because I’m simply curious, I don’t know you, and the first time I’ve read your blog was over the last hour or so.After doing so and considering your 9 or so exceptions to the Westminster Confession, I have to ask why you consider yourself to be a Presbyterian and not an Anglo-Catholic or Reformed Episcopalian of the Leonard Riches type. I ask because while you have to take exceptions all over the place and deny some fairly fundamental portions of Westminster Theology, I can’t personally think of a single problem you’d have with modern Anglo-Catholic theology. If I’ve missed a fundamental difference, please forgive me.

    You aren’t the first FVer I’ve wondered this about, I noted earlier that most of them would seem to have been just fine with the pre-Westminster Anglican theology of Laud’s party, especially with the emphasis on High Church Liturgical worship, vestments, the traditions of the church, Iconography, the church year, sacramentalism, objectivism etc. I ask because if that was what I believed, I wouldn’t be hanging out in a Presbyterian denomination with its Puritan confession. I’d want to be in the theological home of Pusey and Wright, not Gillespie and Thornwell.

    Thanks for your continued patience,

    Andy Webb

  63. Gabe Martini said,

    December 11, 2007 at 12:28 am

    Robert, I must confess I’m not sure where you are getting your insights into what Federal Vision people are trying to do. That all sounds a little fanciful to me, however. Again, I’m sorry if I’ve offended you at some point, and I ask your forgiveness. I pray and hope that someday you will be able to see me as a brother in Christ, and care more about what I as a person think and believe as opposed to what you suppose I think and believe. I am a sensitive guy, but I would hope anyone captured by the love of God in Christ Jesus would be such. Speaking the truth is important, but speaking the truth in love is more important.

    I just thought I’d try to get some genuine interaction with a brother or sister on this blog, but I fear I’ve been rather naive to think in such a way.

    I still love all of you and hope for the best in each of your respective lives.

    Enjoying and rejoicing in God’s love and blessings, both now and forever,
    Gabe M.

  64. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 12:33 am

    I defer to Andy Webb’s question, and I think interaction between you, Gabe, and Mr. Webb on the subject he brings up would not only be interesting but central.

  65. Gabe Martini said,

    December 11, 2007 at 12:39 am

    Andy, since you asked I’ll respond briefly.

    I guess I’d consider myself a Presbyterian because I’m a member of the PCA. I’m also under care of a PCA Presbytery. My “exceptions” to the Confession are always up for revision or critique, so I’d welcome any private correspondence in regards to that. I’m not “set in stone” on any of those positions, necessarily.

    I am not Episcopalian or Anglo-Catholic because I have a lot of reservations about many of their distinctives. I think, traditionally speaking, the liturgy of the Presbyterian Church (which has a long history of supporting the Church year, etc… just see the Book of Common Worship from the early 20th century of the PCUSA) is superior to the Anglican one. I don’t really see a lot of major disagreements between Anglicanism and Presbyterianism, however, other than in the liturgy, episcopate, and some other sacramental disagreements (I don’t expect anyone to bless my cat, for example).

    As far as the Confession is concerned, many of the men responsible for its development held to most of the distinctives I also hold dear (including objectivity, baptismal efficacy, etc.). Burgess would be a glaring example, for one. I am probably also being overly critical of it in regards to the Law, admittedly. My main problem is thinking the Law was ever in place so we could merit God’s favor. That has been, and always will be impossible. The Law given to Moses was after God saved them from Egypt, not before (so as to earn it). I think the WCF might incorrectly confound the prohibitions given to Adam in the covenant of works with the Law of the old covenant. That is my main concern there.

    I’ve surely said enough. If you have any questions or comments, I’d prefer to discuss it one-on-one via email.

    Peace be with you,
    Gabe M

  66. Gabe Martini said,

    December 11, 2007 at 12:46 am

    Oh yeah, I mostly only check my e-mail at gabemartini(at)gmail(dot)com, so direct any and all responses there. If you so desire. :-)

    Peace,
    Gabe M.

  67. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 12:51 am

    >I’ve surely said enough. If you have any questions or comments, I’d prefer to discuss it one-on-one via email.

    I have to break in and say: why? Keep talking! I’m interested in Andy Webb’s or whoever else’s answer to what you say regarding the law and the WCF…

  68. David Gadbois said,

    December 11, 2007 at 2:24 am

    OK, folks. Back onto topic, please.

    Over the course of the last 4 posts I have published here at Green Baggins, one thing consistently stands out – almost a complete lack of directly engaging the points I actually make in the body of the post. Tim Prussic came closest to fruitful discussion in this thread, but understand that it is frustrating for an author to post a structured, linear argument only to have the discussion take off in every direction except what the post actually laid out. In light of the 6 criticisms I gave, how can anyone here defend FV’s doctrine of covenental justification? Please give direct, to-the-point rebuttals.

    Tim P. – notice I said “insofar as FV indexes its meaning…” in point 2. I do fully realize (as do most FV critics) that FV makes a *formal* distinction between the decretal and covenantal benefits. I absolutely was not equivocating – I was saying that *insofar* as FV’s idea of covenantal justification overlaps with the “decretal” concept of justification, whether intentional or not, the game is over for FV. This has to do with a conflict of meaning, not terminology per se.

    Also understand that I put in both point #1 and #2 at the top of the post in an effort to “block all the exits” and shut off any *potential* options that FVers might take to explain their doctrine of covenantal justification.

    But, Tim, you FVers really need to man up to this discussion. Don’t give us another 5 paragraph-long post that beats around the main issue. Please define for us all what FV means by “covenantal justification.” Please give us a real definition, not just another variation of “covenantal justification is…well…its not decretal justification. It is different because…it is different.” We are all so very, very tired of that sophistic game.

    If you cannot straightforwardly provide us with a definition of covenantal justification, then could you please round up all the FV proponents and go back to your homes, stop disturbing the people of God and sewing division in Reformed churches by insisting on “covenantal” realities that you cannot even define. Go, talk amongst yourselves for a while, and when you have an answer, then get back to us.

  69. December 11, 2007 at 4:14 am

    The only thing wrong with the FV is the ecclesiology.

    Which is akin to the Arminian’s saying, “The only thing wrong with Calvinism is the sovereignty of God stuff.”

    The problem is not a monergistically induced, penitent, obedient faith by which the sinner is alone justified. The problem is not infant baptism and communion for all members of the church, not merely the ones who’ve outgrown Gap Kids. The problem is not the denial of the covenant of works, that is, the denial of prelapsarian Pelagianism.

    No, the problem is when “covenant” justification is mingled with sacerdotalism, high-church-ism, priestcraft, liturgical jingo-ism, principally “covenant renewal” worship (= the new “regulative principle of worship” for the Reformed hipsters).

    Jack Spencer (#1) is correct to the extent that he implies that “covenant renewal” is the undergirding principle of the FV, and it is hard to find an FV that doesn’t espouse this innovation.

    When we lose the power of the Holy Spirit, we compensate by playing church — inventing sweet, pretty, precise liturgies that appeal to our sinful love of ritualism; that suggest that by “renewing worship” (our way, of course), we reform the evil culture surrounding us; that implicitly condemn the diverse liturgies all other sectors of the church; and that furnish a “distinctive” by which we can appeal to “truly reformed” Christians to join Our Gang and abandon the “less mature” crowd they’ve been hanging out with.

    Other than that, the FV is just fine.

  70. GLW Johnson said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:58 am

    What Andy Sandlin does share in common with the FV is the pronounced influence of Norman Shepherd. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the FV is, at it core, an attempt to resuscitate and vivify the views of Norman Shepherd as it pertains to redefining the nature of saving faith as ‘covenantal faithfulness’ which then introduces the decidedly anti-Reformational notion of a final justification that is rooted and grounded in works. This is the hub around which all the distinctive spokes of the FV wheel turns. This allows them to claim that they are full-blown 5 pointers as well as boasting their hearty agreement with all of the solas-but they have injected a deadly virus into the bloodstream of the Reformed faith which renders their claim to be ‘Calvinists’ null and void. Stop and ponder their insistance that ‘justification’ can be possessed by the NECM by virtue of their being ‘in Christ’ through baptism ( thus the ‘objectivity of the covenant’). However this ‘initial’ justification will ultimately not sustain them from lapsing into apostacy because it is not accompanied by ‘covenantal’ faithfulness’ that in the final justification is grounded in good works and constitutes an actual inherit righteousness. This is why Shepherd dispenses with not only the Cov. of Works but the imputation of the active obedience of Christ and replaces it with the righteousness that is personified in the individual at the last judgment. This is,in essence , no different from the position put forth by the council of Trent and rejected by Calvin( cf his ‘Antidotes to The Canons and Decrees of The Council of Trent’ in ‘The Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts and Letters III’ (edted and translated by Henry Beveridge 1851 and reprinted by Baker Book House 1983). This is how he addressed the eleventh head of the sixth session of Trent on justification-“When they describe the Increase of Righteousness, they not only confound the free imputation of righteousness with the merit of works, but almost exterminate it. Their words are: ‘ Believers increase in righteousness by good works, through the observance of the commandments of God and the Church, and are thence more justified’.They ought at least to use the exception of Augustine ( De Civit.xixc.27) ‘The righteousness of believers, while they live in this world, consists more in the forgiveness of sins than the perfection of virtues’. He teaches that no dependance at all is to be placed on righteousness of works, which he names with contempt. For he declares that the only hope of all the godly who groan underthe weakness of the flesh is, that they have a mediator,Christ Jesus, who is the propitiation for their sins. (Lib.ad Bonif.,v.c.5.) On the contrary, the Fathers of Trent or rather the hirling monks, who ,as kind of Latin pipers,compose for them whatever tune they please,doing their utmost to call their disciples away from the view of grace,blind them by a false confidence in works. We, indeed, willingly acknowledge , that believers ought to make daily increase in good works, and that the works where with they are adorned by God, are sometimes distinguished by the name of righteousness. But since the whole value of works is derived from no other fountain than that of gratuitous acceptance, how absurd were it to make the former overthrow the latter! Why do they not remember what they learned when boys at school, that what is subordinate is not contrary? I say that it is owing to free imputation that we are considered righteous before God; I say that our works have the name of righteousness, though they are far from having the reality of righteousness. In short, I affirm, that not by our own merit but by faith alone, are both our persons and works justified; and that the justification of works depends on the justification of the person, as the effect on the cause. Therefore, it is necessary that the righteousness of faith alone so precede in order, and be pre-eminent in degree, that nothing can go before it or obscure it. Hence it is most iniquitous to substitute some kind of meritorious for gratuitous righteousness, AS IF GOD AFTER JUSTIFYING US ONCE FREELY IN A SINGLE MOMENT,LEFT US TO PROCURE RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR OURSELVES BY THE OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW DURING THE WHOLE LIFE .”(emphasis mine) p.128-29. This clearly shows that Calvin rejected outright the concept of ‘covenantal faithfulness’ as the basis for our eventual acceptance with God and as the grounds for our ultimate justification,

  71. magma2 said,

    December 11, 2007 at 9:53 am

    #70 – You ended with a comma so I’m expecting more ;) Great reply and should be its own blog since it sums up the dung Wilson and others serve up for our consumption while pretending to be Calvinists. Sandlin, Wilson, Wilkins and the lot of them have left the Reformed and Christian faith a long time ago. But, of course, they were never really were of us, it just took the heresies of the FV for these charlatans to reveal themselves so completely. In this sense the FV is really a blessing to the church as God works all things for the good and benefit of his elect.

    I would like to add to David’s remark that not only are silly ideas in service of bad theology thoroughly worthy of ridicule, but so are lies like Wilson’s above when he assures us, “we are all five-point Calvinists, classically defined.” Keep telling yourself that Doug as there seems to be no shortage of foolish men who desperately want to believe you.

  72. December 11, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Mr. Johnson summarizes the FV by stating it finds, “justification that is rooted and grounded in works”.

    So could we not look at it from another perspective and rightly say it is a denial of justification by faith alone, i.e. a denial of sola fide. This is what I have been saying, and what Dr. Sproul came out and said at the GA , is it not?

  73. magma2 said,

    December 11, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Bingo!

  74. Andrew Webb said,

    December 11, 2007 at 10:42 am

    My sincere apologies to David for taking us off topic. I’ll try to engage Gabe on the question via email as he suggests.

    – Andy

  75. Gabe Martini said,

    December 11, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Yes, my apologies for getting this off-track as well.

    To speak to the issue at hand, I must again plead “misunderstanding.” I know everyone is tired of hearing that, but what else am I supposed to say when a person says “You believe this!” and I most certainly don’t believe such a thing? If it isn’t a misunderstanding, then it is something far worse, but for the sake of charity, I would continue to plead my case as such.

    Before I bid all of my brothers in Christ here adieu, I will say that, in regards to Justification, I agree with everything the Westminster Confession of Faith says on the matter. Every jot and tittle, *and* as they originally meant it (not some fancy new way of interpreting it in postmodernistic fashion).

    And, just to be clear, that means that I am counted righteous before God both now and forever, because of what Jesus did for me, and I cling to this by faith alone (which is the gracious gift of God and He is entirely responsible for it all).

    Peace!
    Gabe M.

  76. December 11, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Sorry, Gary; close, but no cigar.

    Nobody says final justification “is rooted and grounded in works.” We say that final justification is rooted and grounded in Jesus’ death and resurrection alone, to which (Whom!) we are united by a living faith.

    And I quite happy to stand with the FVers — as well as A. W. Tozer, John Calvin, John Stott, and John Wesley — in positing a living, penitent, active faith, a faith that is never alone (sola fide) against the likes of Scott Clark, R. C. Sproul, and Guy Waters, who posit (or seem to posit) a faith that is always alone when it justifies (nuda fide).

    The FVers may say that baptized church members are salvifically justified; I say that all those who have repented of their sins and cast their lives on Jesus alone as their Lord and Savior and have become his disciples are justified and that those who lack that energetic faith are not justified.

    I say that faith without works is dead.

    But a much better theologian said that long before I.

  77. December 11, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    […] “Covenantal Justification” « Green Bagginses December 11, 2007 — reformedwomen FV’s “Covenantal Justification” « Green Bagginses Posted in […]

  78. magma2 said,

    December 11, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    “. . . those who lack that energetic faith are not justified.”

    Spoken like a true Roman Catholic. They don’t understand James either.

  79. Jack Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Andy, of course they say that final justification “is rooted and grounded in works.” You exercise cooperative grace by going to church every week and participating in the weekly sacrificial rites, aka covenant renewal worship. FV is primarily about being High Church and the soteriology flows from that.

    In your case, you are saying something simpler: that you are saved by works, yet you aren’t supposed to trust in them. The “energetic faith” is not just an instrument, but a piston that helps power the soul toward heaven.

  80. Gabe Martini said,

    December 11, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Great. I’m rejected by both TR’s *and* Mr. Sandlin (even though I agree with what he said, and if he’d asked for clarification I would’ve said exactly what he’s just said).

    This just all goes to show this hoopla’s all about talkin’ past each other, or at least a great deal of it is. :-)

    Love covers a multitude of offenses.

    Peace
    Gabe M

  81. Jack Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Thesis: Repentance does not justify any more than Baptism does. These things are necessary evidences, but they are only evidences.

  82. December 11, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Faith alone = Justification

    Faith working = sanctification

    Faith + Works = Justification (now or later) = heresy

  83. tim prussic said,

    December 11, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    David, your final two paragraphs in #68 seem a bit bullyish. I don’t need to be driven from the discussion because I don’t offer a definition of a phrase I don’t use. I’m not FV and I’m not anti-FV – I prefer not to be snowed by labels. I oppose certain FV teachings, just as I do across the theological board. So, if you please, leave out the personal jabs.

    As to a definition of “covenantal justification,” (a phrase I don’t find particularly helpful and, again, don’t use) I suppose I could hazard something for discussion’s sake, but I’ll have to back up and get a running start.

    Best I can tell, that is, “insofar as FV indexes its meaning,” the term “covenantal” means a base-level sharing in a thing by everyone in the visible covenant community. Covenantal things apply head for head to all in the covenant, as defined by the external rite of admission, that is, triune water baptism by a minister lawfully ordained. Since the blessings of the covenant include salvific aspects (in fact, are primarily so), such terms are applied to all in the covenant, but not to all in the same sense. By way of example, one should be said to be “covenantally reborn” at baptism, but not necessarily to have the substance of that covenantal gift, that is, regeneration properly considered. The one “covenantally reborn,” “covenantally justified,” et al is called so due to his sharing in the covenant, his covenant fellowship with God’s reborn and justified people.

    Thus, coming more to the point, covenantal blessings are possibly nominal, temporal, and able to be lost (to greater condemnation), but are certainly universal within the visible church. The proper substance of those blessings is ontological, eternal, unable to be lost, and universal only among the decretally elect who have been called.

    Finally, then, covenantal justification seems simply to be that sharing, universal to the visible church, among God’s people who, as a visible group in the world, are pronounced to be right/just before the thrice-holy God. It’s not the same as an individual laying hold of Christ and his righteousness by grace alone through faith alone, and is certainly not theoretically opposed to that doctrine.

    Please pardon my attempt to man up (a funny thing to do on an internet blog!), as what’s written above in this post had to be thought out and written over the course of 3.5 hours at work, as I had time and mind to flip over here and add to it bit by bit. It’s only intended to be a discussion piece; please hold imprecations to a minimum.

  84. December 11, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Tim, your assessment appears sound.

    But since one of the main emphasi(s) coming out of FV is it’s strongly pastoral nature, there seems a conflict between telling people they are most certainly “covenantally reborn”, some would say saved/justifed, by virture of being apart of the covenant community, and the fact that they may not be personally reborn and hence condemned to perish in hell (despite their apparent glorious covenantal inclusion). This would seem to do more to stir confusion and false assurances (the last thing a pastor should desire) rather than establishing and firming up real saving faith.

  85. Andy Gilman said,

    December 11, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    This whole argument about “covenantal justification” hangs on the FV premise that ceremonial baptism is a mechanism by which “members” are added to “the covenant.” The premise is flawed. What the FV is really in favor of is “ceremonial justification.” If you have been dipped, dunked or dribbled upon, you are justified.

  86. David Gray said,

    December 11, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    >What the FV is really in favor of is “ceremonial justification.” If you have been dipped, dunked or dribbled upon, you are justified.

    I’ve never seen Doug Wilson say that or anything that could be reasonably construed to mean that.

  87. December 11, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    I believe we could put a whole lot of this to bed, if there was consensus on the notion that only those who have saving faith, belong to the Covenant of Grace. Those that are of faith are the children of Abraham according to the promise. This elimates the category of NECM’s because no one who is not elect is in covenant with God. Period. By giving creedence to the notion that there are those in covenant with God, who are not justified, you have already captitulated to the mainstay of the FV argument.

  88. December 11, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    DRM,

    Yes, ultimately and from God’s perspective, only the elect belong to the covenant of grace.

    But must we not also affirm that all professing believers who are members of the visible church are covenant members, and at least are bound to the covenant of grace externally?

    It is this very insistence of speaking and thinking only in terms of “the elect” that the FV is trying to remedy.

    Now, I think their cure is worse than the disease, but I do agree that a proper covenant theology can alleviate us of the burden of determining who is truly elect and who is only pretending.

    So go ahead and predicate upon all visible church members all the benefits of the covenant of grace. But just be sure not to further insist that there are “decretal” and “covenantal” versions of each of these blessings, the former of which belong to the elect and the latter of which belong to all within the church’s four walls.

  89. A. Dollahite said,

    December 11, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    David McCrory,

    You said in #88

    I believe we could put a whole lot of this to bed, if there was consensus on the notion that only those who have saving faith, belong to the Covenant of Grace.

    I’m sure you’re going to find a lot of baptists giving you a big amen to that statement, but you might encounter problems with most of the presbyterians around here, FV or not.

    Here’s what David Gadbois had to say above in #21:

    All of the visible church is under the Covenant of Grace as a legal relationship, whereby Christ’s salvation is offered by the ministrations of the visible church in the preached Word and Sacrament. So I disagree with those who only see the CoG as applying to the invisible church and the elect.

  90. December 11, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Jason,

    I agree the church is fallable in it’s attempt to approximate the elect of God. Yet this does not change who is in the Covenant of Grace, from any perspective. That number is fixed. Therefore my contention is, it is the responsibility of the overseers to approximate the true church as best they can, through wise and discerning use of the sacraments and discipline. The closer we come, the better. Contrary to this, the FV appears to head in the other direction opening the flood gates, as it were. Rather than seeking the purity of the church, they are sacrificing purity for the sake of ecumenical unity (and false assurance). But true unity and purity only comes in and by faith alone.

  91. December 11, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    David,

    As was already pointed out, that is a very Baptist way of looking at it. I am not all that concerned with who “the elect” are. What I am looking for is a credible profession of faith and dilligent attendance upon the means of grace.

    If Paul referred to people in churches he had never even visited as “saints,” then he either (1) had received some supernatural gnosis that their names were in the Book of Life, or (2) he predicated this status upon them based on those “saints” being “in [the church in] Rome.”

    Sure, there are tares among the wheat. But that’s for the final harvesters to sort out.

    Battling the Federal Vision with Baptist theology only plays into their hands and makes their aberrant views seem attractive to those unfamiliar with the confessional, Reformed alternative.

  92. December 11, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    A. Dollahite,

    I saw David G.’s comment above. But in my own thinking, and a result of reading FV material, I have come to challenge the notion there are those who belong to the CoG apart from saving faith. Both the OT (Jer. 31) and the NT (Gal. 2 & 3) emphasize the fact that the extent of the New Covenant is limited to those who profess saving faith. This controversy has caused me, at least, to re-examine the nature and extent of the Covenant of Grace and it appropriate (and biblical)members. By allowing for non-elect covenant members, we have already opened the doors to Federal Vision Theology. Maybe others need too reconsider as well.

  93. December 11, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Jason says,

    “I am not all that concerned with who “the elect” are. What I am looking for is a credible profession of faith and dilligent attendance upon the means of grace.”

    ~ That’s a very Baptist way of looking at it as well. In fact nothing you said would be contrary to a sound Baptist position.

  94. Andy Gilman said,

    December 11, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Jason Stellman said:

    But must we not also affirm that all professing believers who are members of the visible church are covenant members, and at least are bound to the covenant of grace externally?

    Hi Jason,

    Could you make that case using the Westminster Standards? I think the notion of “membership in the covenant” is being used in unconfessional ways. To start with, you have to get past the clear statement in WLC 31:

    Q. 31. With whom was the covenant of grace made?
    A. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.

    I don’t see how anyone can say that all who are members of the visible church are “covenant members,” if you mean “members of the covenant of grace,” and still subscribe to WLC 31, unless one believes that all members of the visible church are elect.

  95. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    This is why Reformed Baptists who hold to classical covenant theology have the purer Covenant Theology including recognizing the republication of the Covenant of Works at Sinai. Trust the work of the Spirit. When you insist on infant baptism you gum up the plan of redemption and being able to see the plan of redemption. Zwingli preceded Luther (or at least owed nothing to Luther) and was dead on. He changed, only due to practical decisions of warfare (with Rome and the radicals that developed a counter-offensive). A little victory for the devil there. The faith is not about blood relations (Jesus made that clear).

    FVists know what the truth is, so they are one of the movements desperately trying to pull people back in the direction of Rome.

    The devil is scared. His time is running out…

    Beware Jason Robertson. (Too bad he’s got that Preterist chink in his armor…)

    I know this is a Presbyterian site…I’m just having some – just some – fun…

  96. tim prussic said,

    December 11, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Mr. McCrory, thinking of ecclesiastical things in truncated terms would simplify things, indeed! It would not, however, help us to be more biblical in our thinking. I haven’t read any FV denying the CoG under the strict consideration that you identify (#88). I have heard numerous FV affirmations it, though I’d like to hear more of them. Folks like you have to come to grips, I think, with the earthly and temporal workings of the CoG. This includes both grafting in and cutting out; this temporal aspect of the CoG not quite as clean cut as the strict consideration of it, but it’s just as true.

    As to the notion that stressing the objectivity of the covenant being non-pastoral, I don’t see it. Pastors don’t direct sheep to theological obscurities and fine distinctions. That’s what “theologians” do. Rather, I’ve heard over and over again: “Look to Christ through the means he’s appointed (Word and Sacrament) and humbly believe what he says about you. That is, believe God’s promises to you in his word, in your baptism, in the bread and wine that you eat. If you’re faith’s weak, look to God’s promises published in his word and sealed to you in your baptism and the Supper, know they’re God’s promises of salvation to you, and rest upon Christ through those means he’s appointed to that end.” Very pastoral. Very Reformed.

  97. December 11, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Robert K,

    As you can see from Any G.’s comment Westminister theology understands the CoG to be made in Christ with only His elect. This is not purely Baptistic thinking.

  98. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Andy Gilman’s comment #96 is an example why the Westminster Standards are so impressive. Yes, they promote infant baptism, but as long as Christians don’t get into sacerdotalism – which the Westminster Standards understand and don’t get into – then there is no problem for anybody. As long as people don’t believe in baptismal regeneration it really doesn’t matter if infants are baptized or not, because the Spirit will work in them one way or another if by the grace of God He does.

  99. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    >Robert K, As you can see from Any G.’s comment Westminister theology understands the CoG to be made in Christ with only His elect. This is not purely Baptistic thinking.

    DRM, by that if you mean Westminster theology there (“Westminister theology understands the CoG to be made in Christ with only His elect”) is something Baptists can agree with … I agree. The way you wrote it I’m not sure if you mean the statement about the elect goes against Baptist thinking… I think you meant the former…

  100. December 11, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Andy,

    WLC 166 says:

    “Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized.”

    This brings me back to the point made earlier: All visible church members are “in one respect” within the covenant, i.e., legally and externally (which is the basis for baptizing them).

    But only the elect are internally and truly members of the covenant of grace.

  101. December 11, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Tim you say,

    “Folks like you have to come to grips, I think, with the earthly and temporal workings of the CoG.”

    ~ I believe the Lord has left us with earthly means to administer the Covenant. But our practice should press towards, not away from, graces like assurance. I feel by tossing out phrases like “covenantally reborn” we’re bringing confusion, not clarity.

  102. tim prussic said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Andy (#96), does WLC #31 define the only way the Bible deals with the Covenant of Grace, or are there other aspects under which we can discuss it? The eternal aspect IS NOT at odds with a biblically-well-attested temporal aspect of the CoG. WLC #31 in affirming the eternal aspect, therefore, does not negate the temporal aspect.

    Also, your post #86 is quite unfortunate and doesn’t help us along in the least, I’m afraid.

  103. December 11, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    So is there not a contadiction, or least some ambiguity within the Confession at points Q.31 and Q.166?

    At one point it states only the elect are in the CoG, in another it states professing parents and infants are. Or are they differentiating between the CoG and the “covenant of promise”?

  104. December 11, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    David, I think the disrtinction is between being in the CofG in two different senses (hence WLC 166’s “in that respect [infants] are within the covenant”).

  105. December 11, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Tim you anticipated my question.

  106. December 11, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    I appreciate your reply Jason. But “between being in the CofG in two different senses” leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It reminds of somewhat dialetical theology.

  107. December 11, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Geesh, I should have written “It reminds me somewhat of dialetical theology”.

  108. December 11, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    I think that we’re losing sight of David G.’s original point which is consistent with the Westminster Standards and Scripture. The elect are the only ones in the invisible church and thus savingly in the Covenant of Grace–this is the COG narrowly considered or considered as a “community of life”. Regeneration, effectual calling, justification, adoption, etc., thus belong only to the elect chosen before the foundation of the world.

    However, everyone in the visible church is in the COG broadly or “legally” considered. That’s how WLC Q.63 deals with the benefits of being in the visible church and why Scripture, especially Heb 10:29 and the other apostasy verses, says that the unregenerate in the visible church, i.e., in the COG broadly or legally considered, have a punishment is greater than the unregenerate who never belonged to the visible church. They trample the blood of Christ from a position of knowledge and assent without trust. See comment #36 above.

    The problem here as I see it is that the FVers have tried to wrest away a perfectly good concept of the visible church being in the COG broadly or legally considered. In its place, they make up a mythical “objective covenant”, populate it with the unregenerate, and grant them justification, forgiveness of sins, and adoption but without perseverance in direct conflict with Phil 1:6 and Rom 8:29-30. This is NOT the same thing as the Reformed concept of the visible church and the COG broadly considered, but rather is an imposter. Sadly, it is an error that can cause over-reactions that reject the classic Reformed position. That’s what I see in some of the comments above. We must be careful to target and reject error precisely, and limit the collateral damage to perfectly good doctrines that the FVers try to hijack and redefine.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  109. tim prussic said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    The two senses or aspects come together, as Pastor Wilson has argued at length, in the last day. At that day, all hypocrites (NECMs, if you will) will be cut out and only the elect in Christ from before the foundation of world will stand as Christ’s bride. The historical/temporal workings of the covenant yield the product of the eternal elect in Christ in history.

    It’s important to see how the two aspects come together, how one works into the other.

  110. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    I agree with ReformedMusings, and envy his clarity in the above comment.

    Even as a Reformed Baptist – or Zwinglian – or John Bunyan Calvinist, or Pinkian (ahem) I can see there is a unique status for children of Christians and for non-elect who heed the external call and show up on sunday morning. But as in an earlier comment I tend to see Berkhof’s section on the external call in his Systematic Theology to explain that. I know he, and Reformed Theology, speaks of legal status and so on, but I think also the external call and what it accomplishes in terms of convicting hypocrites in the visible church has something to say…

    But to keep it simple, there is nothing in the WS that is explosively contradictory. FVists always try to throw these quote grenades to throw up dust and debri…

  111. December 11, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Bob you say,

    “However, everyone in the visible church is in the COG broadly or “legally” considered.”

    ~ How do you then reconcile this with Jer 31 which clearly states those in the New Covenant will “know the Lord” and “their sins will be forgiven”? This doesn’t sound characteristic of non-elect people. And how do you defend this Scripturally?

  112. tim prussic said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Bob, #110, I agree with your first two paragraphs, but the third seems inaccurate. Is not the church considered under its visible aspect “populated” with the unregenerate? The more Amil one is, the more unregenerate people one sees? (That was a joke.)
    The stress of the objectivity of the covenant is that of a judgment of charity based upon objective causes, that is, covenantal rites and God’s public declarations by them. It seems to me that MORE problems are caused by folks that cannot see how the visible church works, who want ONLY the eternal aspect of the CoG.

  113. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    I’ve been waiting for a comment like Tim P.’s above. This thread has drifted and gotten Reformed Christians to speak vaguely, so the FVists see their opening. “Actually, now we can all see how Wilson’s doctrine fits right in here and explians what Einstein was looking for up to his death, the unified field theory of Federal Vision is correcting everything and bringing everybody into the arms of Doug…! There is peace there! Once you all can see that then Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Metropolitans, or knickerbockers or whatever they call themselves will come into the fold too, and with Doug all will be love and peace and togetherness…”

  114. December 11, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Robert K.

    Covenant Baptist have always understood the idea that God works in and through covenant households to produce a godly seed. In this regard Presbyterians and Baptist agree. Baptist simply argue the need to withhold baptism until the child exhibits credible faith. The question is when the sign is to be applied. But they would not say this special status neccesarily places them in the CoG. For them, only repentance and faith can do that.

  115. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    All Reformed Baptists cease now. We are here to defend Reformed distinctives: the five solas, doctrines of grace, and Federal Theology in general.

    I.e., apostolic biblical doctrine.

    The FV attack on the Westminster Standards is not about infant baptism. They only retreat to talking about baptism when they get pinned on their attack on the five solas and doctrines of grace and Federal Theology.

  116. Andy Gilman said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Jason S. said:

    WLC 166 says:

    “Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized.”

    This brings me back to the point made earlier: All visible church members are “in one respect” within the covenant, i.e., legally and externally (which is the basis for baptizing them).

    But only the elect are internally and truly members of the covenant of grace.

    WLC 166 has to be reconciled with WLC 31.

    I think the “in that respect” phrase is too often left out. I won’t quibble as long as it is made clear that we are talking about professing believers, and the children of professing believers, who are “in that respect,” “in the covenant.” It is a very guarded and careful statement about the covenant, and the child’s “in the covenant” status is not tied to his baptism, but is tied to the professed faith of the believer, or the professed faith of child’s parents. They are “in the covenant” before they are baptized.

    Also, in your opinion, do we baptize visible church members, or does baptism solemnly admit into the visible church? I was a bit confused by your statements above.

    For anyone interested, I’ve raised these concerns in another thread:

    https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/10/12/startup-with-xon/#comment-33197

  117. December 11, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Tim,

    In answer to your question to Bob, I don’t see a problem recognizing the mixed nature of the historical church. The problem come for me in indiscriminately declarding said church “justifed”, when we know that eschatologically, it isn’t.

  118. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    I agree with you, DRM, and I think if I’d have had a minute or two with Calvin he’d agree with us, but ultimately I see issues of sacraments and church polity to be non-essential, and not even Reformed distinctives. Apostolic biblical doctrine is the five solas, doctrines of grace, and the over all plan of God elucidated by classical covenant theology systematized as Federal Theology.

    Presbyterians and Reformed Christians don’t believe in baptismal regeneration, so… They’re on this side of what is sound biblical doctrine. (They can rest easy that I’ve given them a clean bill of health…)

    But the moment they edge over into sacerdotalism we have to hit them hard…

  119. Andy Gilman said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Tim P. said:

    Also, your post #86 is quite unfortunate and doesn’t help us along in the least, I’m afraid.

    Maybe we should let the moderator’s decide what helps and what doesn’t. Do your unfortunate assertions about what “helps us along” help us along? I’m afraid they don’t.

    You see how circular that can get? So let’s not do it.

  120. December 11, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    DRM, RE #113,

    Goes back to the COG narrowly considered in which only the elect participate. Without the COG broadly or legally considered, the NT verses on apostasy like Heb 10:29, et al, don’t make sense. The beauty of Reformed Theology is that we don’t have to hide from any verse of Scripture.

  121. tim prussic said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Andy, you could at least attempt to be fair and honest… and maybe not so defensive. Let me put it this way: your post #86 is wrong and misleading. When I see what I think are wrong and misleading comments, I will identify them.

  122. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    I wrote: “FVists always try to throw these quote grenades to throw up dust and debri…”

    Is ‘quote grenade’ original? If so I claim coinage rights… Which are financially meaningless, but anyway…

  123. December 11, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Bob,

    I agree with not “hiding” from Scripture. But it seems apostasy verses still make sense if we understand that people can appear to be in covenant with God without actually being so. Since our knowledge of election is limited, we can only approximate the CoG in our churches. Those that fall away were never “really” among us (the elect). Therefore this does not neccesitate that everyone who belongs to a church then must belong in the Covenant. They may appear too, but Christ never knew them.

  124. December 11, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    tim p., RE #114,

    The stress of the objectivity of the covenant is that of a judgment of charity based upon objective causes, that is, covenantal rites and God’s public declarations by them.

    FVist like Wilkins have routinely rejected the judgment of charity as an explanation of the way Paul refers to the visible church. Their “objective covenant” is a substitute for the judgment of charity, not an outgrowth of it.

  125. December 11, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    DRM, RE #126,

    Again I don’t see you making the Biblical distinction between the two aspects of the Covenant of Grace. I don’t believe that your suggested approach leads to a consistent reading of Scripture, but in fact opens the door to Federal Vision-type errors. The Standards do an excellent job of handling the dual aspect of the Covenant of Grace, and orthodox Reformed theologians have done so as well. We don’t need Anglican bishops or “clever” Federal Visionists to create new, mythical covenants.

  126. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    I think the stand-off between Reformed paedos and Reformed credos is pretty set in stone. It’s just that Reformed credos are less likely to unconsciously or otherwise slide into sacerdotalism. And Reformed credos tend to be less U.N.-ish in defending the five solas and doctrines of grace and God’s plan of redemption known as Federal Theology (classical covenant theology systematized). On that last point, *when* Reformed credos actually get around to arriving at understanding or recognizing the existence of classical covenant – Federal – theology…

  127. tim prussic said,

    December 11, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Bob, I’m interested in #127. My understanding of FV teaching is that a naked judgment of charity (joc), but one based upon objective covenant rites and status. A simple joc is conceived of as more of a shrug and a hug, while the objectivity of the covenant is the joc with an objective reason… and then a hug.

  128. tim prussic said,

    December 11, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    How do I get my pic in the little box?

  129. J.Pirschel said,

    December 11, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    David M. and others,

    It is not “only” Doug Wilson that talks about the CoG becoming pure at the eschaton. If one looks at Jer 31 and sees how the NT interprets it in Hebrews 8, the questions begin to be answered.

    Hebrews 8, coming in the midst of warnings about apostasy (the kind you can actually commit, not the fake kind) shows us plainly that New Covenant membership is not exempt from the “now and not yet” tension of the rest of the New Testament. (the eschatological view of the NC can be seen defended in Kline’s work as well).

    If becoming baptist is the remedy for stopping the FV, we might have a problem.

    God makes covenants with “believers and their seed”. Simple, refreshing, true…and from the text.

    Blessings,

    Jesse Pirschel
    Temecula, CA
    Providence OPC

  130. J.Pirschel said,

    December 11, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    Robert K,

    The just become “UN”ish about the identity of their kids (and if they dont, its even more horrific).

  131. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    Robert K: Republication of the Covenant of Works at Sinai is the view of Predestinarian Baptists and followers of Kline. It is not the traditional Reformed view and more like Tobias Crisp and others like him. Not only that, it gives the FV a weak spot to attack.

    A big problem with this whole debate is that very few players actually represent classical federal theology.

  132. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Robert K:If the “Reformed paedos and Reformed credos is pretty set in stone” it is because the Baptist position is treated with kid gloves. Most “Reformed” churches refuse to require infant baptism of covenant children. This sort of negligence helps encourage things like the Federal Vision.

  133. J.Pirschel said,

    December 11, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Rey,

    Please connect the dots for me again

    1. infant baptism

    2. to make “sure” they are in the covenant (not why we do it but dont let that get in the way)

    3. while allowing the possiblity that they might not be elect (I am sure glad we “know” all the big people are elect)

    4. therefore they are justified.

    Who, pray tell, is saying this?

    Rey, do you have kids? And if so when they were young “who” were they (pagans, infidels)? Did you discipline them? If so, why? What Bible verses did you use to support it? Thanks in advance for the answers.

  134. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    Yes, it’s not being more strict with your infant baptism requirements that is making these Federal Vision [edited by RK] annoy your communions so much.

    >”Robert K: Republication of the Covenant of Works at Sinai is the view of Predestinarian Baptists and followers of Kline. It is not the traditional Reformed view and more like Tobias Crisp and others like him. Not only that, it gives the FV a weak spot to attack.”

    Not 5% of Reformed theologians even know about the subject of the republication of the Covenant of Works at Sinai, or who held to it, or what the implications are in Covenant Theology. Just calling it ‘Klinean’ gives you away. R. Scott Clark only tentatively even side-glances a reference to it when he skirts the subject in a post here and there (and you see the same thing on other Reformed sites) because they weren’t aware of it and they also sense it may undercut their infant baptism beliefs, which apparently come before all and everything.

    Of course Romanist Federal Visionists wouldn’t hold to the republication. They don’t even think Jesus’ active obedience in fulfilling the law is needed for their salvation. They don’t hold to a Covenant of Works, thinking pre-fall Adam and fallen man are in the same state. FVist are beyond ignorant – or have to pretend to be – to hold to their ‘covenant’ beliefs. If you are going to insert Romanist doctrine into the Westminster Standards you have to be or pretend to be radically dumb regarding alot of theology.

  135. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    >A big problem with this whole debate is that very few players actually represent classical federal theology.

    What I wrote is represented in the Westminster Standards.

    And I want to clarify what I said about R. Scott Clark (whose little finger knows more about classical covenant theology than my entire brain matter, it goes without saying): I’ve noticed when he just sidles up to the subject of the republication of the Covenant of Works (a subject he obviously knows about) he tends to give away that he hasn’t thought about it regarding such things as the typology involved re Jesus and the nation of Israel, etc. That’s all I was saying. And I could be wrong. I was going on a single post of his I read once…

  136. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    In fact, now that I recall, it is R. Scott Clark that makes the point that the Westminster Confession of Faith associated the Covenant of Works with the law given on Sinai. Of course, when you say ‘republication of the Covenant of Works’ all the people in the audience who don’t know the issue thing you’re saying that Israel could be saved by works, and then others get it all wrong in other ways… It’s just saying that Israel is a type for Jesus who could and did fulfill the law that Adam failed to fulfill. That law was republished on Sinai. It’s a covenant of works for Jesus, and part of the Covenant of Grace for us, i.e. His fulfilling it.) And you have to understand (if you are following this to any degree) that national Israel was unique in God’s plan just as pre-fall Adam was unique in God’s plan. I’ll stop there… This is Federal Theology. Objections to the repbulication of the Covenant of Works at Sinai, even by people who understand it all, tend to be driven – in some, real though half-unknown esoteric way – by a need to protect infant baptism. (And it’s a shame…)

  137. anneivy said,

    December 11, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Tim, to get your photo (or another photo of your choice) to show up, sign up for a WordPress account. Once you’ve done that you’ll be able to upload an avatar.

    All the really cool people have one. ;-)

  138. Andy Gilman said,

    December 11, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Tim P. said:

    Andy, you could at least attempt to be fair and honest… and maybe not so defensive. Let me put it this way: your post #86 is wrong and misleading. When I see what I think are wrong and misleading comments, I will identify them.

    At the risk of irritating the moderators, whose work here I value a great deal, I will make this last comment. Tim, you get the last word, assuming you have more calm insights to share.

    I had hoped Tim would see that I had made a reasonable point in #122 and then drop it, but that’s not his style, so he ups the ante.

    It is sadly amusing to me that Tim can accuse me of being unfair and dishonest in one phrase, and then chide me for being defensive in the next. He may also imagine that it is now my responsibility to assume that he meant to call me unfair and dishonest “in the best possible sense,” and to recognize that he was only trying to advance the discussion.

    Tim’s first insightful interaction with my post in #86 was to tell me that it doesn’t “help us along.” That was the sum total of his interaction and analysis. Now he seems to think he is bringing the discussion up a notch, treating #86 with a bit more care, so he declares it to be “wrong and misleading.”

    Do you have any actual arguments in your grab bag Tim?

  139. December 11, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    On the republication of the CoW, although the majority of the Westminster Divines held to a law/gospel distinction that was more Adam/Christ than Moses/Christ, at least they distinguished the law from the gospel.

    I happen to hold to the republication at Sinai view, but I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, provided they affirm a covenant of works somewhere.

    The FV guys, unfortunately, deny both, which leads them to scoff at the law/gospel distinction and call it “Lutheran.” Then the CoW gets smuggled in through the back door, only now it is we who have to keep it (in a congruent way, of course).

  140. tim prussic said,

    December 11, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Rey, #136, I agree that simplistic baptistic notions are SIMPLER, but I think they’re not fully biblical. It’s easy to limit considerations to gain clarity, but that’s not our task as Christians. We’re responsible to receive all of God’s word and do our best to understand it – even if it’s difficult. Simplicity is not necessarily an earmark of truth.

  141. J.Pirschel said,

    December 11, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Rey,

    Let me ask this, what “did” circumcision mean in the OT?

    Blessings,

    Jesse

  142. December 11, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Rey,

    Ever heard of post hoc ergo propter hoc? Look it up, it’s a logical fallacy that you’re commiting.

    Here’s how it works: Since Dispensationalists are all Baptists, therefore Dispensationalism couldn’t exist without Baptist theology. Since “one error begets another,” Baptist theology must be wrong since the Dispensationalism it spawned is wrong.

    “After that” doesn’t always mean “because of that.”

  143. Ronnie said,

    December 11, 2007 at 7:45 pm


    Andrew Sandlin said:

    And I quite happy to stand with the FVers — as well as A. W. Tozer, John Calvin, John Stott, and John Wesley — in positing a living, penitent, active faith, a faith that is never alone (sola fide) against the likes of Scott Clark, R. C. Sproul, and Guy Waters, who posit (or seem to posit) a faith that is always alone when it justifies (nuda fide).

    One would think Mr Sandlin would know this is an inaccurate belief of what men like Drs Clark, Sproul, and Waters believed. None of this gentlemen are positing ( or seem to posit ) “a faith that is always alone when it justifies”, but instead they all say it is the faith alone that justifies. There can be all kinds of other things that are present at the point justification(e.g. new life, repentance, conviction of sin ), but it is the faith alone that justifiies.

  144. tim prussic said,

    December 11, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    Rey, #145, I’m mystified. Non sequiturs aren’t as powerful as you might imagine.

  145. Josh Walker said,

    December 11, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    You said: “Further, the doctrine of limited atonement tells us that only the elect, and not NECMs, have been atoned for by Christ’s work. So how can the non-elect have a justification that has not been effected by Christ’s substitutionary atonement? Should we not ask, along with Paul in Romans 3:21-26, how God can be just and yet be the one who justifies sinners.”

    This is completely true!

    The problem is that some in the FV movement are denying limited atonement. There are using the likes of Hodge, and making him say things he does not. In other words, they are trying to hold that Hodge and other did not hold to limited atonement and they are using this as one way to deny the “L”.

    The reason for this is that they see this problem that you have so clearly pointed out. But instead of changing their FV possition, they would rather gut the cross of its significance. That is harsh, I know, but it is what is being done when Reformed thinkers are leaving the doctrines that we hold so dear!

    I have a blog post up about Hodge’s view on the atonement, it is helpful in this regard. http://bringthebooks.blogspot.com/2007/12/hodge-on-atonement.html.

    Stop by and check it out!

    Thanks for the great work on the FV. I enjoy all your great posts.

  146. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Rey, in his outsider way and innocence as one with no dog in the fight (and of course I still don’t know what he holds to generally other than, now, credo baptism) does point to a central and difficult thing for Reformed paedos to admit: Federal Visionists are attacking you at your weakest points, the points where Calvinism left too much Romanism on their plate, for whatever reason, sometimes understandable historical reasons. (Though read Calvin vs. Sadolet to get an idea which direction Calvin defaulted to when in the midst of direct spiritual warfare…)

    The fact remains, though, that one doesn’t have to tweak the beards of Reformed paedos in the direction or in the cause of Romanist doctrine. Federal Vision does this because that is the direction their sympathies lie in.

    I’ve stated elsewhere that too many Reformed Baptists have decided to not take up the fight against these Federal Visionists because they enjoy the spectacle of seeing Reformed paedos having to fight such silly foes, yet foes who are obviously harrassing and annoying you to a pretty good degree. I take the position that we must defend what the FVists are really attacking which is the five solas, doctrines of grace, and Federal Theology (i.e. apostolic biblical doctrine) in general.

    But that you’re able to be annoyed so easily by such ridiculous people and such ridiculously duct-taped doctrine as Federal Vision does say something about …well, I’ll leave it there…

  147. Jeff Moss said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Jason (#143),

    I happen to hold to the republication at Sinai view, but I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, provided they affirm a covenant of works somewhere.

    It was only about five years ago that I came to see Reformed theology as true and consistently Biblical. I am still a student, and freely confess not to understand some aspects of Christian doctrine as fully as I ought to. Also, although I am a member of a church (Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho) that holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith as its primary confessional document, I tend to see the WCF as rigid in some ways that the Bible itself is not; I have come to prefer the Three Forms of Unity as a standard summary of Christian belief and teaching.

    So I’d like to know (and David Gadbois, maybe you can help here) — is there anything in the Three Forms that is generally believed to imply a Covenant of Works? If not, how important do you believe this is to broader Reformed (not just Scottish-tradition Presbyterian) theology?

  148. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Paging Dr. Clark…

  149. December 11, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Jeff,

    Some relevant statements from the 3FU:

    Belgic Confession (1561) Art. 14: The Creation and Fall of Man, And His Incapacity to Perform What is Truly Good. We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will agreeably to the will of God. But being in honor, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin and consequently to death and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, who was his true life; having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death. And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his gifts which he had received from God, and retained only small remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed unto darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shines in darkness, and the darkness did not apprehended it; where St. John calls men darkness.

    Heidelberg Catechism (1563) Q. 6: Did God create man thus wicked and perverse? A: No, but God created man good and after His own image, that is, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him.

    Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 7: From where then comes this depraved nature of man? A: From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise whereby our nature became so corrupt that we are all conceived and born in sin (Heidelberg Catechism, 1563).

    Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 9: Does not God then do injustice to man by requiring of him in His Law that which he cannot perform? A: No, for God so made man that he could perform it, but man, through the instigation of the devil, by willful disobedience deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts (Heidelberg Catechism, 1563).

    Heidelberg Catechism Q. 62. But why cannot our good works be the whole or part of our righteousness before God?
    Because the righteousness which can stand before the judgment-seat of God, must be perfect throughout and wholly conformable to the divine law;1 but even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.

    Canons of Dort (1619) 3/4.1 Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright, all his affections pure, and the whole man was holy. But, revolting from God by the instigation of the devil and by his own free will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and an in the place thereof became involved in blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity, and perverseness of judgment; became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.

    I’m a Presbyterian, so I’m not as familiar with the Three Forms as I am with the WS, which reflect the more mature expreession of Reformed covenant theology.

  150. December 11, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    OK, guys. We are done following the Rey and Sandlin tangents in this discussion.

  151. December 11, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Jeff Moss – excellent question. I will try to answer it later this evening.

  152. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Robert, the WCF does not teach that Moses is a republication of the Covenant of Works. That is a Klinean slogan. Those guys in Escondido wrap themselves in orthodoxy, while they are in fact revisionist. Their teaching is more like that of Tobias Crisp, who was treated as antinomian by Rutherford and Burgess. FV is like Richard Baxter. Neither side represents orthodoxy.

    From a hermeneutic standpoint, Peter Leithart and Scott Clark are not far apart. Both depend on ad hoc redemptive-historical symbolic interpretations to support themselves. Both rely on Meredith Kline, even though FV uses his theories in unorthodox ways. Both are High Churchman who tend toward covenant renewal liturgy.

    While Clark is preferable to Leithart, he is only a lesser evil. Neither of them have a claim on the Reformed tradition. Neither of them teach real covenant theology.

  153. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Before the question is answered this quote is relevant:

    “The Westminster Confession is the first Reformed confession in which the doctrine of the covenant is not merely brought in from the side, but is placed in the foreground and has been able to permeate at almost every point.” – Geerhardus Vos, Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology

    The Three Forms of Unity obviously were drawn up quite a bit earlier than the Westminster Standards.

    Here are some relevant quotes from Dr. Clark’s site.

    ps- I’m starting to flinch when Mr. Gadbois’ name appears in one of these threads…

  154. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    Rey, infant baptism is NOT “an unstated support of this “covenantal justification” stuff.” The Church is Israel. The promise is to us and our Children. Baptism is not a regenerating power. It signs and seals the Gospel call to the child and is an ordained way of marking out his duty to believe in Christ.

    When Baptists talk about “covenant theology,” they mean it only in a personal sense. They see the church as simply a voluntarily association of gathered professors, not a covenant community of believers and their seed. That’s why Baptists can never be Calvinist nor Reformed.

  155. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Robert, yes, The Three Forms of Unity were drawn well before the Westminster Standards. Federal Theology was still developing, which is why the Belgic Confession is looser on these points. In practical terms, this creates a loophole for Kline followers to teach an antinomian view of covenant theology. In the Canadian Reformed Churches, there are many who use the discrepancy to support Shepherd’s soteriology. FV is worse than Escondido. but both are still wrong. To say that Moses is merely a republication of the CoW is antinomian.

  156. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    Joey, forgive me, but when I read such statements I have to respond that it’s all way too weighted to these modern names. And what one thinks of the Mosaic Covenant doesn’t put one ‘in’ or ‘out’ of orthodox Covenant Theology compared to whether one even recognizes the Covenant of Works and such positions that go to the heart of Federal Theology.

    If you see the First and Second Adam parallel whatever way you choose to view the Mosaic Covenant you still know Jesus fulfilled what Adam failed to fulfill, and what was a Covenant of Works for Jesus becomes part of the Covenant of Grace for God’s elect via faith.

    All this talk of ‘Klinean’, it’s all a hangover from the anger Theonomists (who have turned into Federal Visionists, many of them) developed for Kline in those doctrinal skirmishes. Kline, like Vos, was very much in the line of classical covenant theology. If you recognize CCT in the first place you will discern the on-the-mark carriers of it in the 20th century were Vos, Berkhof, and Kline. Others veered off the rails in one way or another.

  157. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Robert K, don’t let the errors of the FV distract you from your duty to have your children baptized. This is God’s command. It is not a negotiable point of theology.

  158. December 11, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Joey,

    You don’t seem to know what you’re talking about. WSC does not teach an “antinomian view of covenant theology,” nor does it teach that “Moses is merely a republication of the CoW.”

    Before leveling such broad attacks you might want to do a little homework so as not to oversimplify and attack a straw man.

  159. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    The apostle Paul was accused of being antinomian. A great Reformed preacher said you aren’t preaching the Gospel until you are accused of being antinomian.

    D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones…

    And again it’s wayyy too dramatic to say Kline and his followers – Escondido – teach antimonian covenant theology. It is just a statement that can be made to an audience that is not up to speed on the subject and so you turn minds, but to people who know the subject matter it’s an empty statement.

    All of classical Reformed doctrine seems antinomian to people who don’t understand the Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude structure of it. That don’t understand that good works are the fruit of justification, not the cause or ‘support’ of it. (Unless we are talking about Jesus’ works…)

  160. David Gray said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    As the WCF says of baptism: “it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance”. Hear and heed.

  161. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Robert, I am no theonomist. I think it should be stamped out of the Reformed churches. It is a horrible, legalistic error.

    Kline used BT to reinvent covenant theology to support his bifurcation of church and society. What he taught was within the boundaries of Protestantism, but it was not the CoW of Reformed dogmatics. Kline followers don’t like to discuss this, nor do they like to discuss how much FV theology depends on Kline’s BT.

  162. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    >Robert K, don’t let the errors of the FV distract you from your duty to have your children baptized. This is God’s command. It is not a negotiable point of theology.

    Where is this command in Scripture? If B. B. Warfield couldn’t find it… But I agree this is wayyy off topic. I fear Gadbois’ name is going to appear and I’ll be made to feel like a school kid who shouldn’t be in the hall again…

  163. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    WSC does too teach that Moses a republication of the CoW. We hear it over and over again. This two-kingdoms stuff is a distortion of the historic view and is indeed antinomian. The errors of Kline and his followers helped generate the FV errors as a reaction. This is the 500-lb gorilla in the living room.

    Both WSC and FV want high-church liturgy that somehow “renews the covenant.” Both love BT and stream-of-consciousness hermeneutics. Both claim to be “missional.” On certain points, they agree with each other against the Standards.

  164. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Robert: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

    If you believe in covenant theology, you recognize the consequences of this. You do not, so stop calling yourself covenental, Calvinist, or Reformed. This does not mean you are unregenerate, but you cannot wrap yourself in orthodoxy. As it stands, you give FVers an antinomian weak spot to attack.

  165. December 11, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Joey,

    Of course it does, but your point, perhaps made for its shock value a moment ago, was that WSC teaches that that’s all the Mosaic Covenant is.

    The Mosaic Covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace, for it furthers God’s redemptive agenda by highlighting, rather vividly (it uses an entire nation to illustrtate it), the folly of trying to secure heavenly blessings by means of “doing this and living.” This all functions to point ahead to Jesus, whose obedience does actually secure the reward for his people.

    This is hardly antinomian, revisionist, or unconfessional.

    So cut out the shock value tactics. You either don’t know what you’re critiquing, or you are being deliberately vague and misleading.

    Either way, it’s not helping.

  166. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Stellman: I’m not a theonomist. I’m not simply going for shock value. I’m familiar with how the Klinists explain Moses.

    This stuff about a “redemptive agenda” is still reducing Moses to only a CoW. It is an attempt to sound orthodox, just as FVers like to talk about “a faith that is not alone.” Both sides of this debate are fundamentally dishonest and they capitalize of the mass ignorance of systematic theology.

    These people are deliberately rewriting the Reformed tradition to support their high churchiness and their escapist view of the church. It has little to do with our historic understanding of the City of God and the City of Man. The Klinists can legitimately call themselves confessing Evangelicals, but they are not confessionally Reformed.

  167. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Joey is so helter-skelter methinks he may have a Moscow I.P. address. It is in their favor to put themselves on the same plane as a Kline or Westminster California, even in terms of being opposites. It’s all chaos and nonsense. If Joey is a real, non-FV person, forgive me, but you are helter-skelter anyway.

  168. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Robert K: You say that “not 5% of Reformed theologians even know about the subject of the republication of the Covenant of Works at Sinai.” That can’t be possible. You can’t refute dispensationalism without thinking about how Moses relates to the covenant. All sides have a vested interest in this issue.

    Not one Reformer talked in terms of Biblical Theologies of redemptive-historical literary symbolism. None of them used ANE treaties as a grid for understanding Biblical covenants. None of them though the support of legalized gay marriage deserved anything less than excommunication. This is all new stuff.

  169. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Robert: I’m not federal vision. I believe in the orthodox view of the Covenant of Works, which both Klinist and Federal Visionist deny. I deny any validity to covenant renewal in worship, which both sides affirrm.

    Federal theology is the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures. Messing with it is messing with the nature of the Gospel itself. Tread lightly, buys.

  170. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Joey, you can’t help but get in the Theonomy talking points, all the while not being a Theonomist yourself…

    I find Lee Irons to be a bit aloof, myself… I won’t comment on his wife’s campaigns or his Andrew Sullivan link on his blog… Fortunately Classical Covenant Theology doesn’t stand or fall on Lee Iron’s reputation or social views…

    It stands or falls on Scripture alone… (OK, and a lot of help from centuries of Reformed theologians…)

    Note to moderators: take into consideration, when you give warnings of off-topicness, that the ‘enemy’ hears you, senses the tension and chill in the air, and can easily move things off-topic so as to get things shut down, thereby achieving the enemy’s goal of getting FV criticism shut down.

  171. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Kline didn’t deny the Covenant of Works. He defended it. For the innocents reading this beware agents of chaos who ‘say anything’…

  172. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Robert:

    The Klinists reacted so hard to theonomy that they became antinomian. Lee Irons’ support of gay marriage is part of the Klinist paradigm. These people believe that any Christian public policy is a republication of Moses and therefore a CoW.

    That’s why the WSC boys supported Irons then and now. They believe that Christians have nothing to say about public morality and civic virtue based on Scripture.

    Ergo the Klinists don’t believe that Scripture supports overturning Roe v. Wade or banning sodomy. That’s the upshot of their two kingdoms theology. Lee Irons was too obvious about it., yet the Klinists defended him to this day. While Kline was correct about justification, he was not orthodox.

    In fact, Klinism and FV are BOTH high-church distortions. BOTH SIDES have an exaggerated ecclesiology that demands high church “covenant renewal” liturgy, Both sides hate the Puritans and anyone else who wants to apply the Bible to all of life.

  173. Joey Spencer said,

    December 11, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Robert:

    Scott Clark and Peter Leithart represent the two Janus faces of the same hermeneutic. As long as you guys defend the Klinist errors, you support the same system that generated FV.

  174. December 11, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    tim p. RE #130,

    I talk about the judgment of charity at length here about 1/4 way down the post. I apologize that don’t have time to duplicate that here tonight. I hope that helps clarify my meaning.

  175. David Gadbois said,

    December 11, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    Joey – you are done posting about Scott Clark, Kline, WSC, and the like NOW. I will use my newly-bestowed editor powers to delete any posts to this effect.

    And, others, do not answer Joey’s posts, even as unfair as his comments are.

    I’ve asked commenters TWICE now to focus back on the subject of this post. Now that I am asking a third time, I will begin removing comments.

    Robert K. – you are most welcome to be in this conversation. I do believe that Reformed Baptists who hold to a bi-covenantal theology have a legitimate dog in this fight, although we disagree on how/when to administer the sign of the covenant. But please refocus to the relevant topic. Thanks.

  176. Robert K. said,

    December 11, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Thanks, David. On your post, I just agreed with every word, like I do with most all the critiques of FV written by people who know Reformed Theology. No matter how many times they are written, though, the other side just pretends nothing has changed. So… But then again the various church bodies have spoken and continue to speak, and the documents they produce have that quality of being solid and on-the-mark. I guess the wheels turn slowly, but the outcome has been impressive thus far… I probably overstated when I said the FVists are able to mess with these churches and denominations to easily…

  177. Jack Spencer said,

    December 12, 2007 at 1:24 am

    Federal Vision is more than just Norman Shepherd’s doctrine of justification. It is a whole paradigm based on the centrality of the institutional church and covenant renewal worship. They accept the soteriology because it supports their view of the church and sacraments. So when you focus on justification, the FVer will say he is being misunderstood. He has a point.

    Federal Visionists look at the bible within a certain redemptive-historical grid that seeks to retain a levitical model of priesthood in a Christian context. They see themselves as Reformed since they are loyal to the Biblical Theology model taught at Reformed seminaries. You may think it unfair, but unless you understand the interpretive grid supporting FV, you don’t understand FV.

  178. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:49 am

    >I do believe that Reformed Baptists who hold to a bi-covenantal theology have a legitimate dog in this fight, although we disagree on how/when to administer the sign of the covenant.

    That view would seem to be out of accord with the WCF but it says a lot.

  179. December 12, 2007 at 6:40 am

    David Gray,

    If you read the Baptist Confession of 1689, you will see that it closely follows the WCF with the exception of the chapter on baptism. Charles H. Spurgeon, generally considered one of the greatest Reformed preachers, was a Reformed Baptist. We have two large Reformed Baptist congregations here in my area and they are dear brothers and sisters. I, for one, would be more careful before criticizing their theology apart from purely baptismal issues.

  180. GLW Johnson said,

    December 12, 2007 at 8:29 am

    Andy #76
    Simpy throwing out Calvin’s name in support of your position is not the same as actually quoting him as I did. Here is another ‘contra Shepherd/ Federal Vision’ citation from Calvin on the appeal Trent made to James 2:24. ” But any one who has raed our writings knows well enough that James gives them no support, inasmuch as he uses justification to signify, not the cause of righteousness, but the proof of it. This plainly appears from the context.” (op.cit. p.130). In the interview I did with Martin Downes ( http:// against-heresies.blogspot.com/2007_o8_01-archives.html) I cited this quote from Federal Visionist and Shepherd disciple Rich Lusk. ” Initial reception of the white garment is by faith alone; ongoing possion of the garment is MAINTAINED by faithful obedience…Their ‘whiteness’ before the Father’s throne is due solely to his death and resurrection. In this sense, the robes stand for initial justification. BUT this forensic justification cannot be seperated from the GOOD WORKS that MAKE THE SAINTS WORTHY OF THEIR NEW APPAREL. In others words, the poetic imagery points in the same direction as the theological prose of Paul (Rom.2:13) and James (2:14ff): those who will be vindicated in the end are those who have been faithfully obedient” ( emphsis mine). Calvin’s take on Rom. 2:13 likewise runs counter to Lusk’s claim as well. Here is a challenge: find for me in any of Calvin’s writings where he remotely suggest that justification has ANY connection with ‘good works’. I am somewhat surprized by your appeal to AW Tozer and especially John Wesley, who waffled back and forth on the doctrine of justification to such an extent that that is lost sight of ‘SOLA Fide’ altogether . I would refer you to John Girardeau’s excellent work ‘Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism compared as to Election, Reprobation, Justification and Related Doctrines’ (rpt, Sprinkle Publications, 1984). In addtion to lumping me in with my friends Scott Clark, Guy Waters and RC Sproul you could add to that list the likes of Girardeau, Dabney, the Hodges, Warfield, Machen as well as the late Martin Lloyd-Jones , who considered Shepherd’s doctrine of justification ‘another gospel’.

  181. GLW Johnson said,

    December 12, 2007 at 8:38 am

    p.s Could I ask you Andy if , along with Shepherd and the ‘paterfamilias’ of the FV, James Jordon, you would concur that one’s justification can be ‘lost’?

  182. December 12, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Federal Vision theology is simply incompatable with the doctrine of sola fide. The benefits and blessings of being united to Christ through the covenant community is administered by God to His elect by faith alone. Faith is the sole instrument of regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

    There is absolutely no union with Christ apart from saving faith. To speak of the benefits and blessings of Christ being granted to people “covenantally” and yet without faith, speaks directly against the heart of Reformational theology. Saving faith is the door way through whichGod administers His saving graces.

    The notion of “Covenantal Justification” (or any of the other supposed benefits of mere external covenant connection) appears to be an attempt to circumvent sola fide by suggesting mere adherence to the externals of covenant life (sacradotalism) brings with it the same benefits conveyed by saving faith, if only temporarily.

    We must reaffirm the idea that those who profess faith, and yet who do not possess it, have no interest in the person and work of Jesus Christ. They are deceived and the truth is not in them. They, like all unregenerate and reprobate people, have access to the common operations of the Spirit (common grace) but never participate in the special blessings and benefits that flow through faith in Christ alone.

  183. magma2 said,

    December 12, 2007 at 9:57 am

    “This is why Reformed Baptists who hold to classical covenant theology have the purer Covenant Theology including recognizing the republication of the Covenant of Works at Sinai. Trust the work of the Spirit. When you insist on infant baptism you gum up the plan of redemption and being able to see the plan of redemption.”

    Robert, this doesn’t follow at all. While not only being faithful to the biblical imperatives, infant baptism more accurately pictures God’s sovereign choice in election (Rom. 9:11, Gen. 17:19). Besides, the real dangers of so-called “believers baptism” is the implication that covenant membership is somehow premised on something within the person.

    I see no reason to depart from a sound biblical view of baptism just because some ran heretics have tried to corrupt the meaning of this sacrament. Frankly, there is hardly a central biblical doctrine left untouched by these men. David McCrory is also correct and that the Covenant is with the elect alone. NECM is a contradiction in terms.

  184. GLW Johnson said,

    December 12, 2007 at 9:59 am

    DM
    Actually regeneration is unto faith-not the other way around. But I concur with everything else you have said.

  185. December 12, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Right Gary.

    Regeneration preceeds faith and the rest flows from that. Passion before preperation ;-)

  186. magma2 said,

    December 12, 2007 at 10:09 am

    That’s should “rank heretics have tried to corrupt . . . “

  187. magma2 said,

    December 12, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Per #186, that Lusk quote is another in a long list of amazingly, openly heretical, anti-Christian statements coming from the FV men. I hadn’t seen that one, but how can any man calling himself a Christian embrace such a man or even call him “brother”? It constantly amazes me that any of these men are allowed to preach and teach in any Christian denomination. They belong to Rome heart and soul.

  188. Todd Bordow said,

    December 12, 2007 at 10:18 am

    As to the suggestion that none of the Puritans taught the Mosaic Law as a repub. of the covenant or works:

    “Wherefore I conceive the two covenants to have been both delivered on Mount Sinai to the Israelites. First, the covenant of grace made with Abraham, contained in the preface, repeated and promulgated there unto Israel, to be believed and embraced by faith, that they might be saved; to which were annexed the ten commandments, given by the Mediator Christ, the head of the covenant, as a rule of life to his covenant people. Secondly, the covenant of works made with Adam, contained in the same ten commands, delivered with thunderings and lightnings, the meaning of which was afterwards cleared by Moses, describing the righteousness of the law and the sanctions thereof, repeated and promulgated to the Israelites there, as the original
    perfect rule of righteousness, to be obeyed.”
    (Thomas Boston)

    “Since the complete difference between the new covenant and the old appeared only in the administration which came after Christ, this administration is properly termed the covenant and testament which is new. This differs also from the former administration in quality and quantity. Its difference in quality is in clarity and freedom. Clarity occurs, first in the more distinct expression than heretofore of the doctrine of grace and salvation through Christ and through faith in him … Freedom comes, first, in doing away with government by law, or the intermixture of the covenant of works, which held the ancient people in a certain bondage. The spirit of adoption, though never wholly denied to believers, is also most properly said to be communicated under the New Testament, in which the perfect state for believers most clearly shines forth. Gal. 4:4, 5.”
    (William Ames)

    “The covenant on Sinai” contained “a revival and representation of the covenant of works, with its sanction and curse..to shut up unbelievers, and such as would not seek for righteousness, life, and salvation by the promise, under the power of the covenant of works, and curse attending it.”
    (John Owen)

    “Their fall in Adam was almost forgotten [by the Jews] … Nay, in that long course of time betwixt Adam and Moses, men had forgotten what was sin … Rom. v.20, therefore, “the law entered,” that Adam’s offense and their own actual transgression might abound, so that now the Lord saw it needful, that there should be a new edition and publication of the covenant of works, the sooner to compel the elect unbelievers to come to Christ, the promised seed, and that the grace of God in Christ to the elect believers might appear the more exceeding glorious.”
    (Edward Fisher)

    FAITHFUL: But, good brother, hear me out. So soon as the man overtook me, it was but a word and a blow; for down he knocked me, and laid me for dead. But when I was a little come to myself again I asked him wherefore he served me so. He said because of my secret inclining to Adam the First. And with that he struck me another deadly blow on the breast, and beat me down
    backward; so I lay at his foot as dead as before. So when I came to myself again I cried him mercy: but he said, I know not how to show mercy; and with that he knocked me down again. He had doubtless made an end of me, but that one came by and bid him forbear.
    CHRISTIAN: Who was that that bid him forbear?
    FAITHFUL: I did not know him at first: but as he went by, I perceived the holes in his hands and in his side: Then I concluded that he was our Lord. So I went up the hill.
    CHRISTIAN: That man that overtook you was Moses. He spareth none; neither knoweth he how to shew mercy to those that transgress the law.
    (Pilgrim’s Progress)

    Blessings,

    Todd Bordow
    Pastor – Covenant Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth (OPC)
    low-church Klinean :-)

  189. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2007 at 10:31 am

    >If you read the Baptist Confession of 1689, you will see that it closely follows the WCF with the exception of the chapter on baptism. Charles H. Spurgeon, generally considered one of the greatest Reformed preachers, was a Reformed Baptist. We have two large Reformed Baptist congregations here in my area and they are dear brothers and sisters. I, for one, would be more careful before criticizing their theology apart from purely baptismal issues.

    Brother Mattes, I am familiar with the London confession having been a deacon in a reformed Baptist church in England a few years back. I still have many reformed Baptist friends and respect them greatly. And I’ve been a good customer of the Met Tab bookshop in my time (highly recommended) A couple of issues.

    1. As you know better than I the PCA report considers the FV proponents to be brothers in the faith. Yet we have an individual here who has publicly associated FV advocates with anti-christ and indicated that they would shed the blood of the saints if they were able. This is beyond the pale. He has also very recently and regularly flatly asserted that he knows their motives (how can he know such a thing) and that these motives are nefarious. Criticizing someone’s assertions is straight forward enough but those of us who are not omniscient might want to be a bit more circumspect in addressing motive. Anyone wanting to be part of a group hug with this individual will need a shower afterwards, at least if they agree with the PCA report.

    2. I don’t see, and don’t believe the Westminster Divines or Calvin to see, baptism as sort of an optional item from column B of your buffet menu. WCF teaches that “it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance” which is what Baptists do. I affirm the teaching of the WCF. And to be fair on the other hand Baptists don’t recognize Reformed baptisms of infants. Which is why John Piper, a very good pastor who I’ve had the pleasure to talk with before, honestly says John Calvin couldn’t be a member of Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis. I would also say the London confession differs somewhat in its ecclesiology if memory serves. And many American reformed Baptists don’t adhere to the London Confession’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper. So these are not small or meaningless things. Doesn’t mean there is no common ground but there are very meaningful differences. Sometimes our Baptist friends seem to understand that better than we do.

  190. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2007 at 10:39 am

    And regarding my comments on item please note I’m note speculating on anyone’s motives (they may be very good, I’m not in a position to judge) but rather observing the nature of the behaviour in question.

  191. December 12, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Gary,

    Fair question: I do NOT believe that justification can be lost:

    http://www.andrewsandlin.net/?p=181

  192. Jeff Moss said,

    December 12, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Re: #186, 193:

    In response a quote by Rich Lusk, magma2 (sorry, I don’t know your real name) writes, “how can any man calling himself a Christian embrace such a man or even call him ‘brother’? It constantly amazes me that any of these men are allowed to preach and teach in any Christian denomination. They belong to Rome heart and soul.”

    Now here’s the heart of the Lusk quote: “Initial reception of the white garment is by faith alone; ongoing possession of the garment is maintained by faithful obedience…Their ‘whiteness’ before the Father’s throne is due solely to his death and resurrection. In this sense, the robes stand for initial justification. but this forensic justification cannot be separated from the good works that make the saints worthy of their new apparel.”

    In turn, what amazes me is how some of these Reformed apologists denounce paraphrases of Biblical passages as false teaching or heresy. Doug Wilson talked about apostates having been sanctified by the blood of the Covenant, and he was loudly criticized for this perversion of Reformed theology — but it turned out that he was quoting Hebrews 10:29. Now read the following statements and compare them to Lusk’s quote above:

    “‘Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

    “I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent…. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with [Christ] in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments.”

    Both of these are taken directly from the words of Christ and of the Apostle John in the book of Revelation. Now, Pastor Lusk says that “ongoing possession of the [white] garment is maintained by faithful obedience,” and that “the good works…make the saints worthy of their new apparel.” Compare these quotes with the words of God quoted above, and then tell me why you think Christians should be ashamed even to call Lusk a brother.

  193. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Check out these sacerdotalist quotes from arch-hereticks!!!!

    “We assert that the whole guilt of sin is taken away in baptism, so that the remains of sin still existing are not imputed … There is a twofold grace in baptism, for therein both remission of sins and regeneration are offered to us. We teach that full remission is made, but that regeneration is only begun and goes on making progress during the whole of life.”
    John Calvin, “Reply to the First Decree of the Fifth Session,” Antidote to the Council of Trent.

    “Our supposed denial [of baptismal regeneration] is a fiction of his own mind. Since I’ve already clearly asserted that men are regenerated by baptism just as they are by the word.”
    John Calvin, “Second Defense against Westphal” (correspondance with a Lutheran)

    “We define baptism to be the sacrament of regeneration, purgation, initiation, sanctification, obsignation, and incorporation into Christ our Savior.”
    Wolfgang Musculus, AD 1554 (“Of Baptism,” in Common Places, Question 1, Section 8).

    “We confess and teach that holy baptism, when given and received according to the Lord’s command, is in the case of adults and children truly a baptism of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, whereby those who are baptized have all their sins washed away, are buried into the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, are incorporated into him and put him on for the death of their sins, for a new and godly life and the blessed resurrection, and through him become children and heirs of God.”
    Martin Bucer, AD 1548 (“Brief Summary of the Christian Doctrine and Religion Taught at Strasbourg”).

    Oh yeah, Turretin — the arch-heretick — believed in a covenantal or sacramental regeneration, forgiveness of sins, and sanctification… which could be lost! Of course, only those with saving faith will persevere and receive true forgiveness and glory on the Last Day. The same can be said for Cornelius Burgess, one of the men at the Westminster Assembly.

    The insanity of all this is overwhelming. Historical revisionism has a lovely history in America, but this is over the top, even for Americans.

    Peace, really,
    Gabe M.

  194. GLW Johnson said,

    December 12, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Jeff
    The fact that Lusk uses language from the book of Revelation is not the issue. It is the interpretation that he places on these phrases that are problamatic. In the same was that appeals to Revelation 3:10 is used by dispensationalists to support a pre-trib.rapture.

  195. tim prussic said,

    December 12, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    David, #188, I’m interested to discuss a couple points from you post:

    First and most important: “Faith is the sole instrument of regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.”

    This seems to me a distinct error in articulation if not in concept. Salvation is by faith from beginning to end, but not by faith in the exact same way from beginning to end. Faith is the alone instrument of justification in a way that it’s not for sanctification and glorification. The regeneration by faith thing already having been address. Since sanctification NECESSARILY involves human effort and work, it’s distinguished from justification, which does not. Justification is by faith alone. Sanctification is by faith, but not faith alone. Both, however, are by grace alone. Does this make sense?

    “There is absolutely no union with Christ apart from saving faith.”

    This seems demonstrably false at first blush. I’d simply assert that there’s some kind of union, but not the same union as the believing elect have (which alone is saving). A covenantal union is not necessarily a saving union. That’s why folks can be cut out of it and trample the blood of it under foot. If you limit covenantal union ONLY to the eternally elect, then you sacrifice the whole of calvinistic soteriology. Arminians carry the day, as they simply point to the apostasy texts alluded to three sentences ago (along with many others) and truncated Calvinists are left with mud on their faces. It’s not enough to say the weren’t of us, so they left. That’s PART of an answer. The other part of the answer is that they were CUT OUT of the olive tree (that is, covenant people of God). Thus, there has to be a way for individuals to be united to Christ and his people (Head and body) that is only temporary and non-saving. There also has to be a way, distinct from the temporary and non-saving one, for the elect to be united forever and savingly. The former is visible and temporal ONLY and the other visible, temporal AND invisible and forever. Thus, we speak of someone being in covenant broadly (or legally) and distinguish that from laying hold of the substance of the blessing of the covenant (Christ himself).
    The scriptures, it seems to me, offer both.

  196. December 12, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Gabe,

    If the quotes above can be taken at face value, then all those men have denied sola fide in those statements. I pray to God that is not the case.

  197. tim prussic said,

    December 12, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Mr. Martini, please quit annoying us with historical references. I think it’s clear that I’m “Reformed,” and thus whoever else is also “Reformed” thinks like me. So, you’re clearly misreading Calvin et al, because they use terminology that makes me really uncomfortable. See, intuitively I know what Calvin means and it just CAN’T be what he says. So, for the sake of my truncated historical theology and for the sake of the angst it causes me, would you please limit you quotations to ones that are “Reformed”?

  198. December 12, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Jeff,

    Rich Lusk was commenting on Zechariah 3 when he made that statement. This chapter does *not* connect Joshua’s works with the granting of clean clothes. The clean clothes were granted freely and monergistically. It never mentions the possibility of soiling those clothes. It only connects Joshua’s works with ruling the Lord’s house and having charge of the courts.

    Lusk’s statement was not a paraphrase, it was a conclusion that followed from simply bad, sloppy exegesis.

    And you can’t simply hop over to the Book of Revelation from Zechariah and go “hey, those white garments must be talking about the same thing as Zechariah.” This sort of irresponsible theology is what we should expect from someone like Lusk who has never had a formal theological education.

  199. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Wow. And I only thought it was a joke that some have said John Calvin couldn’t be ordained in the PCA.

  200. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    If one wanted to make this about “Who has the Reformed fathers on their side?”, there would be many more comments like brother McCrory’s rather troubling response above. Mis-interpreting the WCF to fit one’s modern, American, broadly evangelical sensibilities doesn’t count as “studying” Reformed theology. Study the Assembly itself, and the men who contributed. What else did they write about? (e.g., The Baptismal Regeneration of Elect Infants by Cornelius Burgess) What most amusing is that David F. Wright, in a book edited by Ligon Duncan, explicitly states the WCF teaches Baptismal Regeneration… and yet, somehow, it also teaches salvation by grace through faith! Baptismal Regeneration — properly understood in the Reformed tradition — does not undermine “Sola Fide” any more than it undermines Predestination. Just ask Augustine.

    Peace,
    Gabe M

  201. December 12, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Tim you write,

    “Since sanctification NECESSARILY involves human effort and work, it’s distinguished from justification, which does not. Justification is by faith alone. Sanctification is by faith, but not faith alone. Both, however, are by grace alone. Does this make sense”

    ~ My contention here is that access to sanctification is only gained through saving faith. It involves a synergistic work of both God and man. But sanctification is grounded in the reality that a saving relationship has been born out of saving faith. We must come through the door of genuine faith in order to be truly sanctified.

    ~ Regarding my comment about union with Christ I remain unmoved. Apostates falling away from the blood of Christ, never savingly partook of it (hence I affirm perserverance). All of those to whom the blood is actually applied are covered eternally. There is nothing Arminian about that. What they are falling away from is a presumed union. They professed to know Christ, but and more importantly, they weren’t known by Him. Reprobate and unregenerate people benefit from common operations of the Spirit avalible to all men, but are excluded from the special graces afforded the elect which come only by and through faith.

    I see the FV position as more the Arminian view whereby Christ’s benefits and blessings are available to the NECM, if only temporarily, but in the end they fall away fully and finally. The only covenant attachment I would concede of the non-elect is one of their own devising. This would apply to Heb.10 Jn. 15, etc. Any covenant relationship between the non-elect and Christ is merely one-sided. Christ NEVER knew them.

    Thank you, Tim, for our thoughtful reply.

  202. December 12, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Troubling Response?

  203. December 12, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Gabe, why are you shocked? Confessions represent generations of theological reflection, refinement, and systematization that we wouldn’t expect from a fresh-out-of-Rome Bucer in 1554.

    As for Turretin, whom you don’t actually quote, I’ll have to read him when I get home. One thing about Turretin, however, is that he actually defines the terms he uses, especially when using them in improper ways. That is a feature glaringly absent from FV’s use of “covenantal” benefits.

  204. magma2 said,

    December 12, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Per #198, the heart of the Lusk quote is just as Pastor Johnson quoted him:

    ” Initial reception of the white garment is by faith alone; ongoing possion of the garment is MAINTAINED by faithful obedience…”

    Neither the writer of Hebrews or John in Revelation teach any such thing and that the ongoing possession of the “white garment” – the imputation and covering of Christ’s active and passive righteousness – is maintained on the condition of our faithful obedience. The Scriptures nowhere teach the two-tier scheme of justification advanced by these shameful heretics and false teachers.

    But if you want to believe such distortions and perversions of Scripture go right ahead. Seems like many calling themselves Reformed and Christian do exactly that. Why, even Romanists use Scripture as window dressing to shore up their false doctrines too. Why should Lusk get off easy? If you want to argue for the soundness of Lusk’s theology you’re going to have to work harder.

  205. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    David, this isn’t about “early Reformed thinking” vs. “later Reformed thinking.”

    Many of the men at the Assembly (including those who authored the chapter on Baptism) believed in and taught Baptismal Regeneration. Now, what that means to a Reformed theologian is and should be a lot more nuanced than how Rome defines it. For Rome, Baptism exhibits PERSONAL regeneration, and Penance is required to keep the benefits of Baptism. For the WCF and other Reformed statements, Baptism’s benefits, received by saving faith, last the entire life of a Christian (which is an obvious reference to Regeneration as defined by Calvin, being the entire life of a Christian’s renewal by the Holy Spirit), but for all people rightly Baptized, there is exhibited what is called VISIBLE or ECCLESIASTICAL regeneration.

    As far as Turretin is concerned, he speaks of a “conditional and sacramental” regeneration, sanctification, and cleansing from sin, whereas only those who “truly believe” are cleansed “absolutely.” (cf. Institutes 17.1.22)

    Also:

    “The Westminster Divines viewed baptism as the instrument and occasion of regeneration by the Spirit, of the remission of sins, of ingrafting into Christ … The Confession teaches Baptismal Regeneration.”
    David F. Wright, “Baptism at the Westminster Assembly,” in The Westminster Confession into the 20th Century, vol 1., ed. J. Ligon Duncan III, pp. 168-9.

    “Elect infants do ordinarily receive the Spirit in baptism, as the first efficient principle of future actual regeneration.”
    Cornelius Burgess, The Baptismal Regeneration of Elect Infants, pp. 14-15.

    “God hath chosen you out of the world to be members of his visible Church, and given you the great privilege of early entrance into his holy covenant, and washed you in the laver of visible regeneration.”
    Richard Baxter, “Compassionate Counsel to all Young Men,” Ch. 5, Sec. 2.

    Peace,
    Gabe M.

  206. magma2 said,

    December 12, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Here’s another quote from Lusk where he conflates and confuses faith and works (this one is for you Jeff :)

    “Faith and obedience are not two separate ways of relating to God, as though we had faith for justification and works for sanctification. Rather, faith-filled obedience is the holistic, full-orbed response to God’s grace that the gospel calls for and calls forth, by God’s Spirit. The obedience of faith is nothing less than eschatological life – the life of the new age, the life of the world to come, already experienced in some measure by virtue of our union with the resurrected and glorified Christ. The church, as a community of disciples, living under the sign of the cross and in the power of Christ’s Spirit, is a signpost pointing ahead and above to the world to come. The church, in short, is a colony of heaven on earth, living the life of the future in the present (Phil. 3:20-21). Most of our talk about the Christian life (and the church!) is far too mundane; we must envision grasping once again Paul’s eschatological consciousness that declares to the church body, “The new age has come! You are a new creation! Live accordingly!”

  207. December 12, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Gabe, none of us are going to really care if by “baptismal regeneration” you mean “visible/ecclesiastical” regeneration being affected by baptism. That is not what this controversy is about. The last 2 posts I wrote before this one dealt with exactly this topic of baptismal efficacy.

    As a matter of fact, if you want to continue this line of argument, your comments properly belong under those posts. Do not continue to comment on baptism under this post. Thanks.

  208. tim prussic said,

    December 12, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    David M., #207, thanks for your response.

    As to the first point, it appears that your articulation have moved back this direction and I agree with it. Our salvation is rooted in God’s electing love and experientially begins with regeneration and effectual call, where we turn from sin, flee to Christ, and embrace him by faith alone unto our justification and all other things that flow from that union (including sanctification and glorification). Excellent. That, however, is a far cry from saying that just., sanct., glorif., are all by the alone instrument of faith. I trust you see the important difference. Too often, I think, we’re so zealous to protect justification sola fide that we make this very mistake.

    As to the covenant thing, I simply think you’ve imposed a paradigm on ecclesiastical life that doesn’t fit the Scriptures. God says that folks are broken off and cut out of something based in history and reality, not merely their on misconceptions. Look at, as merely one example, Romans 11:17-24. Give it a read.

    Out of what were the unbelieving Jews cut? Personal and eternal salvation and personal justification (as per Arminianism)? No. Were they cut off only from their own false notion that they were included in the covenant (as per you, I think)? No, how could that possibly be? That obvious eisogesis don’t work here, John 15, Heb 6, 10, or anywhere else, David. It’s nowhere in view in the text and, I think, makes a mockery of it. Here’s why: Those unbelieving Jews are cut out of the same thing that the Gentiles are being grafted into. Could that be a false conception of being in covenant? How silly! Similarly, those very same Gentiles (if they’re proud and unbelieving) will be cut out of that into which they were grafted. Quite simply, what we have in this text is either Arminianism in overdrive (which I reject), nonsense (people being cut out and grafted into nothing but their own misconceptions, which I also reject), or GOD’S REGULAR COVENANTAL DEALINGS with his people. This is simply another example of the same sort of covenantal dealing we see throughout all of the Scripture: Blessing and curses, grafting in and cutting out.

    If your paradigm can’t handle these texts faithfully (that is, without trying to minimize and answer away), then, David, please trade in your baptistic paradigm for a Reformed one, which can. This stuff is by no means FV, so don’t worry about that, it’s simply historic Federal Theology.

  209. tim prussic said,

    December 12, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    David G., #213, if one can have “visible/ecclesiastical regeneration,” how does that differ from the “covenantal” regeneration that I’ve tried to define above in, say, post #84? It looks to me like folks are playing shell games so as to keep their Calvin.

    Since regeneration (strictly and narrowly considered) is one of the ordo blessings given only to the elect (which, by the way, I believe), then how can it be okay to have “covenantal” regeneration (in effect) and not “covenantal” justification? If we, with all appropriate caveats and qualifications, can speak of one ordo-type blessing that’s common to ALL of the visible church, why not another? That is exactly, so far as I can tell, what your post was about.

  210. December 12, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Tim,

    I agree that by virture of their own strength, people grasp hold of God’s covenant hoping upon hope to be received into the Beloved. But I refuse to accept the notion they are invited by Christ to do so. Or that by virture of this external connection they receive any measure of God’s special electing grace (only common grace). Any perceived blessings for these people, are really nothing more but condemnation.

    I’m willing to push the limits of my understanding of what this relationship consist of, as long as it doesn’t compromise the unambigious teaching of Scripture that we are saved by grace through faith alone. And that none of those who are participants in the blessings and benefits of Christ are fully nor finally cut off from Him.

    In short, I might say, from our perspective these people appear in covenant with God, but from His persepctive, He knows they never were. Yet due to our limitations. we must deal with them, as long as their profession remains, as covenant members. And likewise, we must be willing to judge the fruit, and act accordingly.

  211. December 12, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    “Since regeneration (strictly and narrowly considered) is one of the ordo blessings given only to the elect (which, by the way, I believe), then how can it be okay to have “covenantal” regeneration (in effect) and not “covenantal” justification?… If we, with all appropriate caveats and qualifications, can speak of one ordo-type blessing that’s common to ALL of the visible church, why not another?”

    ~ I don’t believe we can.

  212. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Actually, David, by that admission, you have proven to me conclusively that this really IS what the controversy is all about.

    And, the latest post by Andy furthers my point.

    No one believes anyone but the Elect receives the Effectual Call in the FV.

    All covenant members — that is, everyone in the Visible Church — receives the “General Call,” whether by baptism or the preaching of the Word received (but not necessarily by saving faith). In this General Call, whether it be through baptism or the preaching of the Word to an adult, pagan, convert, all of the benefits of salvation in Christ are OFFERED to everyone in the covenant, without exception. HOWEVER, only those who receive this offer of the Gospel by saving faith — which is a gift of God — will actually “truly” be saved on the Last Day.

  213. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Incidentally, this is why the WCF says of the Visible Church, “outside of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.” This does not mean everyone in the Visible Church will be resurrected unto glory on the Last Day. It does mean, however, that the Church is the place of salvation, being the Body of Christ, where all of His blessings are offered to whomever will accept them by faith. This is classic, Westminsterian, Dordtian, Calvinism.

  214. December 12, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    Gabe,

    Faith come by hearing the Word of God (preached). Not the word of God preached and/or baptism. The free of offer of the Gospel is made available to all who here it, whether in the visible church or not. And all that is Christ’s is freely offered to those who will receive it by faith. All others, visible church members notwithstanding, do not.

  215. December 12, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    “”Incidentally, this is why the WCF says of the Visible Church, “outside of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.””

    ~ This simply emphasizes the ministry of the church in evangelism. People are brought into the visible church through Gospel preaching. God uses the means of the church to call in the elect. Outside of the ministry to the church, no one else does this work.

  216. December 12, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    rey,

    I agree this is a gross misrepresentation of historic confessional Baptist theology. And unfortunately too off topic to elaborate on.

  217. its.reed said,

    December 12, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Ref. 218:

    Gabe, to be even more focused:

    > Not only the elect “will actually be truly saved on the Last Day,”

    > But also only the elect ARE truly saved on their first day of New Life (i.e., at regeneration).

    The issue between pro FV and anti FV is not with regard to the first statement, but expressly the latter.

    > Pro FV posit (using the broadest expression) a real but temporary (labled “covenantal”) ordo-salutis experience of Christ by reprobate visible church members.

    > Anti FV posit a “not real” and temporary experience of the common operations of the Spirit by reprobate visible church members. By not real, we mean counterfeit ordo-salutis – it looks like the real thing but never really is/was.

    We can accept that this “not real” status will not be known objectively until the Last Day. However, we cannot accept the FV notion of “real but temporary,” as we see this contradicting the teaching of Scripture.

    This is the seminal issue dividing us. When a Pro FV thinks there is agreement and an anti FV is just not getting it – this is the issue. We do not agree that there is such a thing as a “real but temporary” (covenantal) ordo-salutis. Instead, what is in view is a not-real, a counterfeit pretending to be the real. It is a tare pretending to be a wheat. It is a goat pretending to be a sheep.

    Hope this increases at least peace through clarity.

    reed

  218. December 12, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Mr. Reed,

    Is not “real but temporary” classic Arminianism?

  219. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    This is hilarious. Thanks for the conversation, fellas. I have bigger fish to fry, and I’ve wasted far too much time on here as it is. Peace.

  220. David Gadbois said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Gabe said “Actually, David, by that admission, you have proven to me conclusively that this really IS what the controversy is all about.

    And, the latest post by Andy furthers my point.”

    Perhaps you’d like to share with the rest of the class how either of these statements is true. What is “my admission”, and how does Andy further your point? Do tell, rather than tossing out these bare assertions.

    “All covenant members — that is, everyone in the Visible Church — receives the “General Call,” whether by baptism or the preaching of the Word received (but not necessarily by saving faith). In this General Call, whether it be through baptism or the preaching of the Word to an adult, pagan, convert, all of the benefits of salvation in Christ are OFFERED to everyone in the covenant, without exception. HOWEVER, only those who receive this offer of the Gospel by saving faith — which is a gift of God — will actually “truly” be saved on the Last Day.”

    This is not in the least controversial. If this was all FV was saying, then we could all put our swords away, pack our bags and go home.

  221. David Gadbois said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    tim P. said “Since regeneration (strictly and narrowly considered) is one of the ordo blessings given only to the elect (which, by the way, I believe), then how can it be okay to have “covenantal” regeneration (in effect) and not “covenantal” justification? If we, with all appropriate caveats and qualifications, can speak of one ordo-type blessing that’s common to ALL of the visible church, why not another? That is exactly, so far as I can tell, what your post was about.”

    “Regeneration” has a wider range of meaning in both Scripture and dogmatic&historical theology than does “justification.” There is no symmetry here. “Visible regeneration” does not overlap with the dogmatic category of “regeneration”, nor is it simply a “covenantal version” of the decretal reality.

  222. David Gadbois said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    I have just erased the last handful of Rey’s comments. I want constructive conversation here, guys. I’ve asked nicely, numerous times.

  223. December 12, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    I would add that the word “salvation” carries temporal and or providential nuances, as well as it’s decretal meaning in Scripture. The issue doesn’t seem to be the varying uses of biblical language, but the proper application of them.

  224. December 12, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    tim p., RE #214,

    As to the covenant thing, I simply think you’ve imposed a paradigm on ecclesiastical life that doesn’t fit the Scriptures. God says that folks are broken off and cut out of something based in history and reality, not merely their on misconceptions. Look at, as merely one example, Romans 11:17-24.

    I believe that you are confusing the characteristics of analogies and metaphors here. Rom 11:17-24, Jn 15:2-8, etc., are analogies, not metaphors. Here is a good definition of a metaphor:

    What is important to note is that metaphor works wholistically – I transfer all meanings of X rather than some aspectual meanings of X. It is the process of transfer that can lead to the confusion of map with territory in that the whole map is a metaphor for the whole territory and thus the confusion is more total than partial.

    And an analogy:

    Analogy is when we say that part of X resembles Y; analogy has it’s root in the Greek work analogia meaning ‘proportion’. In analogy there is no replacement, only aspectual comparison, and implied in this is that if X resembles Y in certain states

    If you try to read too much into the vine analogy and turn it into a metaphor, you say too much. Analogies exist simply to make or emphasize a point. The point here is that there are those who believe that they are saved (the unbelieving Jews in this case), perhaps because of their perceived “covenant faithfulness”, who are not and are in for a rude awakening. By the same token, those whom God graciously elected should not use their election as an occasion to lord it over others, especially the Jews. Stop worrying about the Jews and bear the fruit that God created you for (Eph 2:10). That’s the point in Rom 11 and the limit of the analogy. You cannot create an entire “objective covenant” or any other theological system from an analogy. I also make this point in my post on Jn 15:2. I quote some Reformed sources in that post which make the same point.

    An important part of exegesis is to correctly identify the type of writing/form of speech that we are exegeting.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  225. its.reed said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Ref. #224:
    David, its actually Reed (my first name). I’m nobody special, so Reed is fine. And yes, in my estimation this is why the “arminian” lable rightly adheres to the FV position. I broached this on another thread here.

    Ref. #225: Gabe, a very disappointing attitude. Please note that such responses do not encourage us that pro FV’ers actually are interested in working things out with their anti FV brothers. Surely you intend better than this response suggests.

  226. Robert K. said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Loved the Boston quote from Pastor Bordow up above…

  227. tim prussic said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    David G., thanks for the answer (#227). Symmetry isn’t necessary, but similarity is. Both regeneration and justification are ordo blessings. Why can term one be qualified and applied to non-elect folk while the other cannot? Is there something specific to being declared right before God that makes the concept applicable in no way whatever to the non-elect? If so, what specifically is it that makes it so, and would the same aspect not be found in regeneration – being made alive from the dead spiritually? That’s a serious question.

    What do you mean visible regeneration “doesn’t overlap” with the dogmatic category? Does “visible” election “not overlap” with eternal election either? I couldn’t know what you mean by that.

    To my knowledge, no one here’s defined “covenantal” justification as a “‘covenantal version’ of a decretal reality.'” I think “covenantal” election could be so construed. Rather, it’s a covenantal version of an earthly and temporal reality, as I’m justified here and now (Hallelujah!).

  228. December 12, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Tim my question is;

    How does all the FV double speak such as,

    ‘Christians can be covenantally regenerated, but not savingly regenerated, we can be covenantally sanctified, but not neccesarily savingly sanctified, covenantally this and that etc,’

    All their talk about covenant justification and what not still sends people to hell. This is not pastoral. How does this amplify the simplicty of the Gospel? Paul wanted to know nothing among the Corithians but Christ and Him crucified. I simply cannot see how FVT furthers this purpose, and in it’s place brings confusion, derision and false assurances into the household of faith.

  229. tim prussic said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Bob, #230, the scripture uses the cut out/cut off image a ton. It’s not too much to say from Rom 11 that people are being taken out of and put into a particular status. ALL that I was positing was that that status wasn’t their personal delusion of salvation, nor was it salvation itself, but rather a third category called covenant. I appreciate your kind response, but I’m not quite sure what you’re responding to in my post #214. Nothing there is FV or “objectivitiy,” I don’t think. It’s just simple Federal theology. Basically, I was trying to give some biblical defense to YOUR articulation of the covenant considered both broadly/legally on the one hand and narrowly on the other.

  230. tim prussic said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Mr. McCrory, #234, no FV double speak send people to hell. So far as I can tell, there’s just as much equivocation against the FV as there could be in it. And, in any event, you should probably talk to Mr. Gadbois about “visible” regeneration. If the FV is so guilty, then there’s a lot more guilt to be spread around. We have yet to see about the “no overlap” defense.

    As to simplicity, when you’re neck deep in theology, you’re not in the necessarily in the green pastures of the “simplicity of the gospel.” Those are, for the most part, two different things.

  231. December 12, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    “Why can term one be qualified and applied to non-elect folk while the other cannot? Is there something specific to being declared right before God that makes the concept applicable in no way whatever to the non-elect?”

    Correct – in no way whatever. The non-elect and elect alike are held to the same standard in the divine courtroom – perfect and perpetual obedience. Since there is one standard of justice, the non-elect can never be declared right before God in “some other sense”. One justice, one law, one coutroom.

  232. December 12, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Way, way back in #84, Tim P. wrote this, in an attempt to define covenantal justification:

    the term “covenantal” means a base-level sharing in a thing by everyone in the visible covenant community. Covenantal things apply head for head to all in the covenant, as defined by the external rite of admission, that is, triune water baptism by a minister lawfully ordained. Since the blessings of the covenant include salvific aspects (in fact, are primarily so), such terms are applied to all in the covenant, but not to all in the same sense.

    OK, so far we know *who* “covenantal justification” applies to, but still have no idea what it *is*


    By way of example, one should be said to be “covenantally reborn” at baptism, but not necessarily to have the substance of that covenantal gift, that is, regeneration properly considered. The one “covenantally reborn,” “covenantally justified,” et al is called so due to his sharing in the covenant, his covenant fellowship with God’s reborn and justified people.

    So the fact that someone is in a group, of which some subset is actually X (in this case, justified), means that by virtue of inclusion in the group *all* members are “covenantally” X? This doesn’t make any sense, to begin with (is a pauper “covenantally rich” because he lives on Rodeo drive?), and still we have no idea what covenantal justification actually is. We still have no idea what the nature of this supposed blessing is, we only know that the recipient bears a connection with people who actually have a real blessing.

    Thus, coming more to the point, covenantal blessings are possibly nominal, temporal, and able to be lost (to greater condemnation), but are certainly universal within the visible church. The proper substance of those blessings is ontological, eternal, unable to be lost, and universal only among the decretally elect who have been called.

    OK, so this once again falls into the category of “covenantal justification is…well…it isn’t decretal justification.” You keep telling us what covenantal justification is *not*. Not what it *is*. You have told us that it is temporal, but that only tells us about its duration. You have told us who it applies to. One day, maybe someone will tell us what it actually *is*.


    Finally, then, covenantal justification seems simply to be that sharing, universal to the visible church, among God’s people who, as a visible group in the world, are pronounced to be right/just before the thrice-holy God. It’s not the same as an individual laying hold of Christ and his righteousness by grace alone through faith alone, and is certainly not theoretically opposed to that doctrine.

    This is the same as above, excepting that you now assert that there is some declaration of righteousness before God of the non-elect. Well, you only have two avenues to explore on this zany hypothesis. Either 1. there is some different, separate law by which the non-elect can measure up to by virtue of being in the visible church, or 2. God declares the non-elect to be righteous even though they don’t measure up to His law (i.e., He lies) or 3. God declares, publically, the non-elect to be righteous even though He has passed a guilty verdict in the divine courtroom.

  233. anneivy said,

    December 12, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Re: #238 Actually, David, I don’t think Tim P. meant that “covenantal justification” has the NECM being declared righteous before God in any sense, just that if the Church is – in theory, at least – comprised of those who are righteous before God, then so far’s the world is concerned, anyone in the Church is declared righteous before God.

    IOW, the “pronounced to be right/just before the thrice-holy God” of the NECM isn’t from the LORD’s viewpoint, but from a temporal one.

    Truth to tell, trying to squeeze non-elect people into the new covenant appears to be a tricky business indeed. I can understand them being in the temporal administration of the new covenant, but not real, true covenant members. Sort of like legal aliens, who are required to obey the laws of the country they’re living in but to which they do not belong.

  234. December 12, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    tim p., RE #235,

    I guess that I may have misunderstood you. You did not use the broad/narrow or legal/life relationship language, which would have helped. The fact that FV redefines key theological terms makes it very difficult to speak clearly using those terms. It’s like asking a Mormon if they believe in Jesus. They will always answer yes, but they don’t mean it the same way that a Christian does. So in an discussion about FV concepts, seeing the word “covenant”, “election”, or a number of other terms without defining them carefully in the orthodox Reformed manner can lead to misinterpretations.

    It’s unfortunate that the waters have been so muddied, but that’s how errors gain a foothold. The advocates sound orthodox because they use familiar terms in a generally familiar way, but when you pin down their definitions and constructs, you find something very different from the orthodox view.

    If you really meant to use the broad/narrow distinction in the COG and didn’t intend to impart ordo-like parallel benefits just for being in the COG broadly considered, then I did misread your comment and I apologize. I actually like my comment in a more general sense and may expand it into a post with specific examples.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  235. December 12, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    Anne, RE #239,

    Truth to tell, trying to squeeze non-elect people into the new covenant appears to be a tricky business indeed. I can understand them being in the temporal administration of the new covenant, but not real, true covenant members. Sort of like legal aliens, who are required to obey the laws of the country they’re living in but to which they do not belong.

    That’s an interesting and largely accurate analogy. They are legally bound in the COG, but derive none of the saving benefits reserved for the elect.

    Part of the issue with FV is that they try to marginalize the visible/invisible church distinction by falsely claiming that the invisible church doesn’t exist today in a meaningful way. They prefer a historical/eschatological church distinction to make room for their mythical “objective covenant”, thereby undifferentiating to some extent the current status of the elect and non-elect. The truth is that the non-elect are tares under the consuming wrath of God today, tomorrow, and in eternity. The elect are saved from the wrath of God today, tomorrow, and in eternity. The distinction could not be clearer today, tomorrow, as well as in eternity. Hence my earlier post on wrath and propitiation.

  236. Roger Mann said,

    December 12, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    194: As to the suggestion that none of the Puritans taught the Mosaic Law as a repub. of the covenant or works.

    Great quotations. Here’s a good article that demonstrates that the majority of historic covenant theologians have taught that the covenant of works was “renewed,” “repeated” or “republished” in the Mosaic Law:

    http://www.upper-register.com/papers/works_in_mosaic_cov.pdf

  237. Roger Mann said,

    December 13, 2007 at 12:12 am

    241: That’s an interesting and largely accurate analogy. They are legally bound in the COG, but derive none of the saving benefits reserved for the elect.

    I think an even better analogy would be that reprobate members of the visible church are like “illegal aliens” — illegitimate “tares” among the “wheat” of God’s church. Also, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that everyone who hears the gospel message is required to respond in repentance and faith (Acts 17:30; 26:20) not merely those within the visible church? How is this demand any different for those within the visible church?

  238. David Gadbois said,

    December 13, 2007 at 12:32 am

    Anne said “David, I don’t think Tim P. meant that “covenantal justification” has the NECM being declared righteous before God in any sense, just that if the Church is – in theory, at least – comprised of those who are righteous before God, then so far’s the world is concerned, anyone in the Church is declared righteous before God.”

    Maybe so, but I’m sure you’ll agree that this still doesn’t “work.”

    All that would be, in effect, is that to be “covenantally justified” means that the the non-elect mistakenly identify the NECM to be justified because they are lumped in with the truly-justified ECMs. How is this category a legitimate “benefit”? I guess, then, that Milli Vanilli were the “covenantal singers” of “Blame It On The Rain” and “Girl You Know It’s True.”

  239. tim prussic said,

    December 13, 2007 at 2:06 am

    The author of Hebrews seems to think that apostates really enjoyed “benefits”: They “have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age…”

    Mr. Milli Vanilli Gadbois, are these “benefits”? I understand that in the final judgment all these things will be counted against them, but are they not temporal “benefits”? Wait, maybe they’re only mistakenly identified as those who were once enlightened… yeah, that’s the ticket!

  240. tim prussic said,

    December 13, 2007 at 2:07 am

    Anne, #239, in the NC (please see #214) Jews are getting cut out and Gentiles grafted in with a threat of being cut out at a later time. Into and out of what do you think they’re being grafted and cut?

  241. anneivy said,

    December 13, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Re: #246

    The temporal administration of the new covenant, i.e. the Church.

    Look, one has to pick something to hang one’s doctrinal hat on, so to speak. Flat out Arminians choose the “free will” verses as normative, and interpret the sovereign verses in light of them. Open theists choose the “God changes His mind” verses, ditto.

    Traditional Reformation theology has at its core the belief that those who are united to Christ are saved by grace… permanently and eternally saved, and those verses that appear to contradict that are interpreted so as to not contradict it.

    FV’ers apparently have as a core belief that one can be united to Christ in a temporary sense. Well, fine. That and five bucks’ll get you a large mocha cappuccino.

    If you have one set of verses that you consider to be foundational, and I use a different set of verses, then all we’re going to do is throw verses back and forth at each other.

    I don’t agree with your interpretation, and you don’t agree with mine, that’s all.

  242. Kyle said,

    December 13, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Tim, re: 245,

    I know I’ve cited this probably close to ad nauseam, although not nearly as frequently as FVers and their sympathizers point to John 15, James 2, and Hebrews 6 as though four centuries’ worth of Reformed exegetical work had never touched on them. But, if you want to know the benefits that members of the visible church receive, both elect and reprobate:

    Q63: What are the special privileges of the visible church?
    A63: The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government;[1] of being protected and preserved in all ages, not withstanding the opposition of all enemies;[2] and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation,[3] and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved,[4] and excluding none that will come unto him.[5]

    1. Isa. 4:5-6; I Tim. 4:10
    2. Psa. 115:1-2, 9: Isa. 31:4-5; Zech. 12:2-4, 8-9
    3. Acts 2:39, 42
    4. Psa. 147:19-20; Rom. 9:4; Eph. 4:11-12; Mark 16:15-16
    5. John 6:37

  243. Roger Mann said,

    December 13, 2007 at 10:24 am

    245: Tim wrote,

    Mr. Milli Vanilli Gadbois, are these “benefits”? I understand that in the final judgment all these things will be counted against them, but are they not temporal “benefits”?

    They are called “common operations of the Spirit” (WCF 10.4), and they are most certainly not covenantal “benefits” bestowed upon reprobate members of the visible church — for the covenant of grace includes God’s solemn promise “to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.” (WCF 7.3)

    Furthermore, I’m not sure how the “common operations of the Spirit” can even be classified as temporal “benefits” for the reprobate, since God “doth blind and harden” and “withholdeth his grace” from the reprobate, and uses the “means” of grace (“the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper” — WCF 7.6) to “harden” them in their sin and rebellion:

    “As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden; from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had; and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.” (WCF 5.6)

  244. Andrew Webb said,

    December 13, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Gabe,

    A little Charles Hodge for you this morning, contra the Baptismal Regeneration camp. Incidentally, having been an appreciative reader of the Westminster Divines for many years now, I can tell you that Burgess was by no means the norm in the assembly. The vast majority of the divines were evangelical in their understanding of the sacraments rather than ritualists. Anyway, on to Hodge:

    In like manner when the Scriptures speak of baptism as washing away sin, Acts 22:16; or as uniting us to Christ, Galatians 3:27; or as making Christ’s death our death, Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12; or as saving us, 1 Peter 3:21; they do not teach—
    1. That there is any inherent virtue in baptism, or in the administrator, to produce these effects; nor
    2. That these effects always attend its right administration; nor
    3. That the Spirit is so connected with baptism that it is the only channel through which he communicates the benefits of redemption, so that all the unbaptized perish.
    These three propositions, all of which Romanism and Ritualism affirm, are contrary to the express declarations of Scripture and to universal experience. Multitudes of the baptized are unholy; many of the unbaptized are sanctified and saved.
    How then is it true that baptism washes away sin, unites us to Christ, and secures salvation? The answer again is, that this is true of baptism in the same sense that it is true of the word. God is pleased to connect the benefits of redemption with the believing reception of the truth. And he is pleased to connect these same benefits with the believing reception of baptism. That is, as the Spirit works with and by the truth, so he works with and by baptism, in communicating the blessings of the covenant of grace. Therefore, as we are said to be saved by the word, with equal propriety we are said to be saved by baptism; though baptism without faith is as of little effect as is the word of God to unbelievers. The scriptural doctrine concerning baptism, according to the Reformed churches is—
    1. That it is a divine institution.
    2. That it is one of the conditions of salvation. “Whosoever believes and is baptized shall be saved,” Mark 16:16. It has, however, the necessity of precept, not the necessity of a means sine qua non. It is in this respect analogous to confession. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” Romans 10:10. And also to circumcision. God said, “The uncircumcised male child—should be cut off from his people,” Genesis 17:14. Yet children dying before the eighth day were surely not cut off from heaven. And the apostle teaches that if an uncircumcised man kept the law, “his uncircumcision was counted to him for circumcision,” Romans 3:26.
    3. Baptism is a means of grace, that is, a channel through which the Spirit confers grace; not always, not upon all recipients, nor is it the only channel, nor is it designed as the ordinary means of regeneration. Faith and repentance are the gifts of the Spirit and fruits of regeneration, and yet they are required as conditions of baptism. Consequently the Scriptures contemplate regeneration as preceding baptism. But if faith, to which all the benefits of redemption are promised, precedes baptism, how can those benefits be said to be conferred; in any case, through baptism? Just as a father may give an estate to his son, and afterwards convey it to him formally by a deed. Besides, the benefits of redemption, the remission of sin, the gift of the Spirit, and the merits of the Redeemer, are not conveyed to the soul once for all. They are reconveyed and appropriated on every new act of faith, and on every new believing reception of the sacraments. The sinner coming to baptism in the exercise of repentance and faith, takes God the Father to be his Father; God the Son, to be his Savior; and God the Holy Ghost to be His Sanctifier, and his word to be the rule of his faith and practice. The administrator then, in the name and by the authority of God, washes him with water as a sign of the cleansing from sin by the blood of Christ, and of sanctification by the Holy Spirit; and as a seal to God’s promise to grant him those blessings on the condition of the repentance and faith thus publicly avowed. Whatever he may have experienced or enjoyed before, this is the public conveyance to him of the benefits of the covenant, and his inauguration into the number of the redeemed. If he is sincere in his part of the service, baptism really applies to him the blessings of which it is the symbol.
    4. Infants are baptized on the faith of their parents. And their baptism secures to them all the benefits of the covenant of grace, provided they ratify that covenant by faith; just as circumcision secured the benefits of the theocracy, provided those circumcised in infancy kept the law. The doctrine of baptismal regeneration, that is, the doctrine that inward spiritual renovation always attends baptism rightly administered to the unresisting, and that regeneration is never effected without it, is contrary to Scripture, subversive of evangelical religion, and opposed to universal experience. It is, moreover, utterly irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Reformed churches. For that doctrine teaches that all the regenerated are saved. “Whom God calls them he also glorifies,” Romans 8:30. It is, however, plain from Scripture, and in accordance with the faith of the universal church, that multitudes of the baptized perish. The baptized, therefore, as such, are not the regenerated.

    Of course Hodge is assuming, contra the FV, that none but the elect are regenerated, and that anyone who is regenerated perseveres.

    Incidentally, I particularly appreciate his comment at the end of this statement, namely that it is in those communions where baptism regeneration is assumed that regeneration is typically least likely to occur:

    Out of this spiritual relation, or sacramental union between the sign and the grace signified, which we have thus explained by a natural and legitimate use of language, the one is put for the other, and whatever is true of the grace signified is asserted of the sign which signifies it. Thus, to eat the bread and drink the wine in the Lord’s Supper is to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, that is, to participate in the sacrificial virtue of his death. And whatever is true of Baptism with the Holy Ghost is attributed to Baptism with water. Ananias said to Paul, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins.” (Acts 22:16.) “Christ gave himself for the Church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” (Eph. 5:26.) “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38.) Hence Romanists and Ritualists have inferred that the sign is inseparable from the grace signified, and that these spiritual effects are due to the outward ordinance. Hence the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. But it must be observed that the Scriptures do not assert these spiritual attributes of water baptism in itself considered, but of water baptism as the sign or emblem of baptism by the Holy Ghost. These spiritual attributes belong only to baptism by the Spirit, and they accompany the sign only when the sign is accompanied by that which it signifies. It does not follow, however, that the sign is inseparable from the grace. The grace is sovereign; and experience teaches us that it is often absent from the sign, and that the sign is least frequently honored by the presence of the grace when it is itself most implicitly relied upon.

  245. J.Pirschel said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Andy,

    Per your comment above concerning the Divines being “evangelical” and not “ritualists”. I remember you speaking against Calvin’s positions some years back, was his position too “ritualistic”?

  246. Jeff Moss said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:33 am

    magma2 (#212),

    I don’t think it’s beating a dead horse to refer to James again. James himself, of course, is very much alive. And besides, I think there’s more to explore that hasn’t been fully discussed on this site yet.

    So then, your quote from Rich Lusk:
    “Faith and obedience are not two separate ways of relating to God, as though we had faith for justification and works for sanctification. Rather, faith-filled obedience is the holistic, full-orbed response to God’s grace that the gospel calls for and calls forth, by God’s Spirit. The obedience of faith is nothing less than eschatological life – the life of the new age, the life of the world to come, already experienced in some measure by virtue of our union with the resurrected and glorified Christ.”

    What exactly is your objection to these statements? Do you believe, contra Lusk, that faith and obedience are “two separate ways of relating to God”? If so, then how would you relate to God in faith without obedience, or in obedience without faith?

    “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

    These are not two different ways of relating to God. There is one way of faith and obedience, faith that produces obedience, obedience grounded in faith. Is it possible that the hymn got it right?…”Trust and obey, trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.”

    “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (2:26).

    Here’s how the analogy works (and I’m grateful to Doug Wilson for pointing this out):

    Body:Spirit::Faith:Works

    that is,
    body = faith
    spirit = works

    Faith without works is dead. Works without faith are dead, too. The body and the spirit belong together.

  247. magma2 said,

    December 14, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Jeff asks:

    What exactly is your objection to these statements? Do you believe, contra Lusk, that faith and obedience are “two separate ways of relating to God”? If so, then how would you relate to God in faith without obedience, or in obedience without faith?

    While evidently not clear to you, Lusk conflates and confuses justification which is by belief alone apart from works and works of obedience done in sanctification. The biblical and logical distinction between justification and sanctification is completely obliterated in Lusk’s “eschatological consciousness” which he errantly attributes to Paul. In Lusk the message of the gospel is changed from a call to believe to “live accordingly.”

    If you can’t see any problem with this, my guess is there is a lot of purple robes and funny hats in your future.

    “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

    These are not two different ways of relating to God. There is one way of faith and obedience, faith that produces obedience, obedience grounded in faith.

    James is not arguing that works done by faith are necessary condition or component of justification or that works make faith “alive,” but rather that works are the result of salvation already received by belief alone. Works provide a way by which we may distinguish genuine faith from the feigned (i.e., dead) variety. Our works of obedience contribute precisely NOTHING to our standing before God either now or eschatologically. Again, in his New Age newspeak of “eschatological consciousness” Lusk transforms the message of the gospel from simply believe to “live accordingly.” Rather than being distinct logical categories Lusk conflates faith and obedience, justification and sanctification, and in his scheme faith and works function as synonyms in his “eschatological consciousness” nonsense.

    You don’t see a problem with this?

    FWIW the Lusk quote is from a discussion of the “obedience of faith,” but in contrast to Lusk Calvin writes:

    . . . we have received a command to preach the gospel among all nations, and this gospel they obey by faith. By stating the design of his calling, he again reminds the Romans of his office, as though he said, “It is indeed my duty to discharge the office committed to me, which is to preach the word; and it is your duty to hear the word and willingly to obey it; you will otherwise make void the vocation which the Lord has bestowed on me.

    We hence learn, that they perversely resist the authority of God and upset the whole of what he has ordained, who irreverently and contemptuously reject the preaching of the gospel; the design of which is to constrain us to obey God. We must also notice here what faith is; the name of obedience is given to it, and for this reason — because the Lord calls us by his gospel; we respond to his call by faith; as on the other hand, the chief act of disobedience to God is unbelief, I prefer rendering the sentence, “For the obedience of faith,” rather than, “In order that they may obey the faith;” for the last is not strictly correct, except taken figuratively, though it be found once in the Acts 6:7. Faith is properly that by which we obey the gospel.

    For Calvin the “obedience of faith” does not mean “live accordingly,” but rather it means believe the gospel. After all, isn’t this the command Jesus gave his listeners and to us; “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” The obedience of faith therefore is to do as we are commanded and that is to believe the gospel.

    Is it possible that the hymn got it right?…”Trust and obey, trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.”

    The hymn did get it right. Lusk did not. Sanctification is an important doctrine and worth singing about. It just should not be confused with justification.

    Here’s how the analogy works (and I’m grateful to Doug Wilson for pointing this out):

    Body:Spirit::Faith:Works

    that is,
    body = faith
    spirit = works

    Faith without works is dead. Works without faith are dead, too. The body and the spirit belong together.

    This explains a lot. Like Lusk Wilson fails understands belief or its relationship to works. Wilson thinks believing means doing and his toady Doug Jones had a series on this very idea in Screemdenda some time ago. This is how these charlatans can look you straight in the eye and affirm justification by belief alone while denying it at the same time. That’s because in their minds there is no such thing as belief alone.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: