Justifying Faith distinguished from Temporary Faith (part 2)

Turretin offers seven different ways in which Justifying Faith (JF) and Temporary Faith (TF) differ in not just duration and degree, but even more importantly in kind as well. As noted in the previous post, JF and TF are two totally different things. Here is the summary of Turretin’s points:1. As to their origin:

  • JF originates in sovereign election (Tit. 1:1;Acts 13:48) and effectual calling (Rom. 8:28); whereas,
  • TF issues from common grace, external and temporal (2 Tim. 2:19).

2. As to their recipient,

Of whom:

  • JF is received by the elect (Tit. 1:1); whereas,
  • TF is received by the reprobate (Mt. 24:11). 

In what:

  • JF is received in a good heart (Lk. 8:15) and good ground (Mt. 13:23), that is a heart (ground) from the Spirit’s regenerative work (Ezk. 36:26); whereas,
  • TF is received in rocky ground (Mt. 13:20), the original stony heart of death not removed by the Spirit (Ezk 36:26).

3. As to their internal principle and rooting

Internal principle:

  • For JF the principle is the Spirit of regeneration (Jn. 3:5) and adoption (Rom. 8:15); whereas,
  • For TF the principle is the Spirit of illumination (Heb. 6:4).

Manner of rooting:

  • JF is rooted deeply, intimately, vitally, friendly, efficaciously, implanted and tempered by faith in the heart (soul; Jam. 1:21, Heb. 4:2), rooted in love (Eph. 3:17) rooted in Christ, established in faith (Col. 2:7); whereas,
  • TF has no root (Mt 13:21), sticks only in the uppermost surface of the soul (the intellect), it does not penetrate the heart (soul), no true trust in Christ because it has no real uniting to, no real sap from Christ (Heb. 3:14; Rom. 11:17, 20).

4. As to their effects:

  • JF in good ground (living heart, soul), united to Christ, bears fruit constantly, indeed abundantly (Mt. 13:23); whereas,
  • TF, in rocky ground (dead heart, soul) having no root, remains unfruitful and barren (Lk. 8:6).

5. As to acts of faith:


  • In JF knowledge is deep, cleaving to the inmost heart, not merely hearing but experientially confirmed (1Pet. 2:3; Phil. 1:9), living and practical, both heat and light (1Jn. 2:4); whereas,
  • In TF knowledge is superficial, theoretical, giving wisdom but not regeneration.


  • In JF assent is certain and solid, offering fullness of assurance (Col. 2:21), perceiving and agreeing to the invisible things of God as if visible (Heb. 11:1); whereas,
  • In TF assent is weak, slippery, perpetually hesitating and wavering, readily yielding to temptations (Mt 7:26, 27).


  • In JF trust is true and real, arising from the deepest knowledge and sense of God’s grace (1Tim. 1:5; 2Tim. 1:5), continually cleaving to Christ (1cor. 6:17), prepared to do and suffer anything to remain in Christ (Lk. 9:23; 14:26, 27; Mt. 16:24, 25; Acts 15:26); whereas,
  • In TF trust is blind and weak, mere verbal profession, not touching the heart (soul), a trust that is an empty presumption, rashly glorying in grace not possessed (Mt. 19:16-22), received only in intellect not will through love (Tit. 1:16),half-hearted (Acts 5:3), deserting Christ rather than renouncing the world (Lk 18:23).

6. As to their adjuncts and properties,


  • JF results in solid (unspeakable) joy and abiding hope for future glory (Jn. 16:23); whereas,
  • TF results in some joy (Mt. 13:20), but joy that is fleeting, arising from: intellectual pleasure in the newness of the doctrine (Jn. 5:35), or from its pleasantness or promise of advantages in this life, so that when persecution arises the joy dies (Mt 13:21). .


  • JF is necessarily followed by sanctification, as it purifies the heart (Acts 15:9) and is efficacious through love (Gal. 5:6), enervating a reciprocal love willing to live and die or Christ (2Cor. 5:14, 15; Gal. 2:20) and a willingness to endure all things (2Cor. 4:16, 17) ; whereas,
  • TF is followed by temporary external changes in behavior, escaping to some degree the pollutions of the world (2Pet. 2:20), yet never leads to heart renewal (purity in real holiness) as that when world enticements or persecutions appear, TF wearies of the changed behavior and reverts to its original pollution.

7. As to the object:

  • JF perceives the gospel simply under the idea of truth, thus when facing temptations or trials it adheres to the gospel even more fully; whereas,
  • TF perceives the gospel merely as a useful or pleasant good, thus when facing temptations or trials self-love asserts itself and abandons the gospel.

Rather than offer any extended analysis, let me just observe that Turretin is very clear on one thing, JF and TF have nothing essential in common. Yes, both initiate in the work of the Spirit. Yet in TF the Spirit enables the natural fallen faculties of a man to intellectually perceive the glories of the gospel. All that follows in such a man are the results of the operation of his own fallen faculties – there is no work of the Spirit producing the results seen in TF.

This is exactly opposite JF. The Spirit does not illuminate so that a fallen man can see a little better; He transforms, makes a man new so that he perceives and adheres to the gospel with a faith the never fails.

Where, in this description, is there room for the FV’s proposal that the key difference between TF and JF is the presence of perseverance in the latter?

Posted by Reed DePace


  1. Kyle said,

    January 7, 2008 at 10:41 pm


    Does Turrentin discuss more of the “Spirit of illumination”?

  2. its.reed said,

    January 8, 2008 at 6:43 am

    Ref. #1:

    Good question Kyle. I believe he does, but I’ll need to look it up. Will get back to you. I think I see where you’re heading. It would be helpful to see more distinguishing on the work of the Spirit in ECM vs. RCM.

  3. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 8, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Notice that in the points on TF under the headings “Assent,” “Trust,” “Joy,” “Sanctification,” & “Object,” the issue is clearly one of perseverance. All these mention that the nature of TF is such that it does not persevere in adversity, because it looks to itself, finds the gospel simply pleasant, etc. This strikes me as very much what Leithart’s point was (followed by Wilkins): that the failure to persevere demonstrates that there was a difference all along, even if it wasn’t apparent at the time. So, it seems to me that there is a substantial fit between Turretin here and some of the FV…I would suggest, however, that perhaps Turretion does underestimate the force of 1 Cor. 10, Heb. 6, and John 15. These passages seem to strengthen to some degree the connection between the temporary believer and Christ, as they emphasize how much it is possible to have and still fall away.

  4. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 8, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    I would also like to comment on the train analogy from the previous post, by raising a question based upon it. Aren’t the RCMs and the ECMs on the same train for a time, namely in the the historical church? The historical church as a body is headed for glory (cf. Eph. 5), and the RCM are currently within that body, albeit in the way that a dead limb is still in the tree (as we’re mixing organic and industrial metaphors). So, the train is headed for glory, but not everyone on board will remain on board to the destination. How then do we account for them getting off the train? Well, at some point they decide that they don’t actually want to go to that destination, or perhaps that they don’t want to put up with what is required to get there (e.g., persecution–to extend the analogy, they don’t want to put up with people shouting insults at the passing train). Now, why does anyone decide to stay on or get off? Only because of the eternal decree–but we can still talk about what they choose, understanding it in the qualified, historical sense…

    This analogy falls down when we come to talk about union, though, since it them becomes organic rather than simply contained. Nevertheless, I suggest that my version of the train analogy is more apt: there are not two different trains or two different tracks, any more than there are two different churches. This is what I take Horton’s point to be about historical and eschatological being superior categories to visible/invisible or internal/external (see the opening chapter of Covenant and Eschatology for his criticism of the Platonic nature of the internal/external distinction, which, BTW, dominates Turretin’s discussion of the church).

  5. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 8, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Isn’t one of the pat phrases at Westminster (SC) “eschatology precedes soteriology?” So, eschatology is THE question, and that means that for faith to be temporary or lacking in perseverance “to the end” is not a tiny difference, but rather the biggest difference? Thus, to say that the only difference between RCMs and ECMs is perseverance to the end is not a minor thing, but rather incredibly significant.

    Here’s another thing, though: eschatology is pneumatology, no? The life of the age to come, the resurrection body, is pneumatikos, i.e., motivated and animated by the Holy Spirit, and this is the true and final freedom from all sin an corruption. This whole order of things breaks into the current age in the church, through the power of the HS, who works in the Word and Sacraments. Notice that even RCMs have some sort of share in this: Heb. 6 speaks of them sharing in the HS (and metoche is very similar in meaning to koinovia–see 2 Cor. 6:14) and tasting the powers of the age to come, participating somehow in the “regeneration” (cf. Matt. 19:28). Often that consists in performing miracles (cf. Matt. 7:22), but those are a crucial part of the new order, testifying to Jesus and the gospel, so it can’t be dismissed: “Well, they ONLY performed miracles in Jesus’ name–it’s not like that’s very important.” The miracles were the sign of the new order, the sign that the future was breaking into the present, the beginning of the decisive defeat of the old prince. So, some reprobate participate in that–and they have absolutely no REAL connection to Christ, but only nominal (i.e., in name)? They somehow share in the power of the age to come: that’s not simply sharing in a name, not merely external…

  6. R. F. White said,

    January 8, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    3 — Joshua Smith, I appreciate your comment here very much. I don’t have Turretin in hand, so I can’t comment on your remark that he underestimates the force of Heb 6, 1 Cor 10, and John 15. That said, I would agree with you that there are real losses by temporary believers/apostates. As an FV critic, I do not want to be understood to say that apostasy does not involve real losses of real covenant blessings. Nevertheless, if the connection between the temporary believer and Christ means that God blesses all branches equally (identically), then the perseverance of any branch must depend on the one who wills or runs and not on God who has mercy.

  7. R. F. White said,

    January 8, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    5 — Joshua Smith, your comments on eschatology and pneumatology are helpful insofar as it is a helpful first step to see the blessings of Heb 6 as derived from the ministry of the Word and the Spirit in the covenant community, the Word being the divine covenant in form and content, and the Spirit being the divine witness of the covenant through signs, wonders, miraculous deeds, and gifts. The terms ‘nominal’ and ‘external’ may well be insufficient to describe those blessings. Even so, it seems to me that we also have to ask whether those experiences in Heb 6 are saving or non-saving.

  8. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 8, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    #6: Thank you for the response. I don’t see that the FV says that each branch is blessed identically, although they may be blessed in covenantal/sacramental ways equally. Leithart, Wilson, Wilkins, Lusk–all have said that the blessings are not identical, since the ECM actually receives the gift of perseverance, which is no small thing from a historic-eschatological perspective. Are the blessings equal? I know folks are going to jump on me for this, but I would have to say “in some sense”: both hear the same Word, receive the same bread and wine, have the same current fellowship status. Can we say these are “only” external or nominal blessings? I would say the the Reformed tradition would say: no, these are real and substantive blessings, special graces given to those who name Christ and are called by his name, things to which the world as such have no title. Apostates are not judged because they never received any of the inheritance, but rather because, having been given the first payment of the inheritance, they threw it away. Both 1 Cor. 10 and Heb. 6 emphasize that those who fell away really had something that the elect also have, otherwise the warnings make no sense. Calvin makes just this point on 1 Cor. 10: “As, however, on examples being adduced, any point of difference destroys the force of the comparison, Paul premises, that there is no such dissimilarity between us and the Israelites, as to make our condition different from theirs.”

    I should say that I don’t agree with Calvin’s take on how this works: he asserts that the RCM receive only the outward sign and reject the thing signified. This must be read into the text, however, as Paul says that those who fell drank from Christ, not that they drank the water but didn’t really drink from Christ. So, it seems that the RCM really did have something of the substance, not simply an outward sign. I should point out that I argued for this extensively in my first systematics paper at Westminster Seminary in California for Horton’s class, explicitly disagreeing with Calvin, Westminster, and the 3FU (only on this particular point–that the RCM receives only the sign), and he not only did not call me in for a serious discussion of my orthodoxy, but pointed me to Kline’s work on baptism for a similar perspective. So, I find the same sort of thing in some of the FV work, and suddenly it’s dangerous sacerdotalism on the way to Rome. Huh?

  9. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 8, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    #7. Clearly, from the eschatological perspective, those benefits are non-saving: they do not result in final salvation, full redemption of the body, resurrection unto glory, of those who have them. In another sense, the gifts could be considered saving: if you consider that salvation is not just about an individual, but about the whole new creation. They are part of bringing in the whole new order of things, even if they don’t wind up benefiting from it themselves. Others may believe (with a true and living faith that does persevere) because of these RCMs, or the kingdom could advance in other ways (although that’s it’s own can of worms!), etc. (e.g., could a reprobate write an influential and correct theological work?) So, perhaps I would call these gifts “salvific,” i.e., “tending toward salvation,” because they may result in salvation (in the individual sense) for others, they may advance the overall program of salvation (in the broad or corporate sense), and because they flow from the same Spirit that will infallibly bring forth glory in the elect and in the new creation. Just as the sacraments still signify and seal even if an unbelieving and even reprobate pastor administers them, so also these other gifts really do signify and bring the blessings of the Spirit even if the one who applies them is reprobate.

    One of my favorite lines from RC Sproul Sr. is “If is it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, it is a theologian’s prerogative to make distinctions.” I’m trying to make the distinctions fine, but also clear and apt–I’m not trying to play words games or pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.

  10. its.reed said,

    January 8, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Ref. 38:

    Only a brief response here Joshua, as I don’t have time to respond in detail. Hopefully to go to a critical distinction that I believe is at the heart of the issue, at least in view of the discussion here.

    You say, “…I would have to say “in some sense”: both hear the same Word, receive the same bread and wine, have the same current fellowship status. Can we say these are “only” external or nominal blessings? I would say the the Reformed tradition would say: no, these are real and substantive blessings, special graces given to those who name Christ and are called by his name, things to which the world as such have no title.”

    No jumping on you; just simply to observe that this is the heart of the question in terms of distinguishing between the ECM and the RCM. Turretin is arguing (following Calvin as your reference shows) that the RCM only receive externally, never internally.

    To nuance that more, externally means to receive a work of the Spirit only with and respond to it only with one’s natural faculties; to reference Boston’s 4-fold distinction here for clarity, to receive such as the non-posse non-peccare (i.e., unregenerate fallen man).

    Internally means to receive a work of the Spirit and respond to it with one’s redeemed faculties; Boston’s posse non-peccare.

    The RCM receives a work that is not nominal; it is substantial, significant, we could even go so far as to say temporally effectual. We might say (I’m open to perfecting this language) that what the RCM receives from the Spirit so enables his natural faculties that he experiences real temporal blessings as a member of the Visible Church.

    These blessings are of benefit here and now, yet they avail him nothing eternally. They avail him nothing eternally because we must say that the Spirit’s work in the RCM is effectual only to the degree that it enables a man to say “yes” to Christ in the context of his own fallenness. This is what is meant by TF. The RCM never experiences any sort of regeneration, which would effect a change in being enabling him to say “yes” to Christ with JF.

    The FV goes beyond this distinction, insisting that the RCM experiences real-internal blessings of the Spirit. As Dr. White has noted under part 1 here, some goes as far as to say that these are the same blessings as those experienced by the ECM. Yet even those FV advocates who say parallel but different blessings go beyond the distinction Turretin is making. Such folk are saying that the Spirit’s work in the RCM results in some sort of internal – regenerative change, albeit a temporary one that is lost because it does not come with perseverance.

    As clumsy as it is that is why I said same trains, different parallel tracks. The distinction between tracks was to note the difference between the ECM and RCM decretally. Externally at a distance it may indeed appear to be one track, 2 cars. Internally (the Spirits bird’s eye view) it is seen that it is two different tracks.

    If we go with your analogy either we must eliminate the decretal distinction or or so blur the distinction that for all practical purposes it does not exist.

    One final note, and why I cannot go with the one track analogy is simply because Scripture does not. You contend that Turretin reads in. Rather, I would say he is arguing for necessary inferences from such passages as John 10:28 and 1 John 2:19.

    The issue is not who is reading into the passages. Rather the issue is who is drawing inferences that are necessary from or denied by the Scriptures. Historically the Remonstrants were the one’s whose inferences were rejected. To the extent that their inferences follow a similar pattern, likewise FV inferences must be rejected.

    P.S. I truly do appreciate the sincere distinguishing effort you make. Please hear nothing in my response as perjorative, intended in any way to get a rise out of you.

  11. Machaira said,

    January 8, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    The RCM never experiences any sort of regeneration, which would effect a change in being enabling him to say “yes” to Christ with JF.

    It’s funny that you mention regeneration as one of the differences between RCM and ECM. Just before I saw your comment I was looking at Calvin’s comments on Hebrews 6:4:

    To all this I answer, That God indeed favors none but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and that by this they are distinguished from the reprobate; for they are renewed after his image and receive the earnest of the Spirit in hope of the future inheritance, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on their hearts. Otherwise, where would be the temporal faith mentioned by Mar_4:17? There is therefore some knowledge even in the reprobate, which afterwards vanishes away, either because it did not strike roots sufficiently deep, or because it withers, being choked up.98

    And by this bridle the Lord keeps us in fear and humility; and we certainly see how prone human nature is otherwise to security and foolish confidence. At the same time our solicitude ought to be such as not to disturb the peace of conscience. For the Lord strengthens faith in us, while he subdues our flesh: and hence he would have faith to remain and rest tranquilly as in a safe haven; but he exercises the flesh with various conflicts, that it may not grow wanton through idleness.

  12. its.reed said,

    January 8, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Ref. 11:

    Well, I don’t expect that to happen very often. Thanks Mahcaira (first name?).

  13. Machaira said,

    January 8, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    My first name is Jim.

  14. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 9, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Reed, thanks very much for your response, in tone as well as content. If I could make a few points to hopefully continue the discussion…

    1. It seems to me that this discussion shows up the weakness of the internal/ external paradigm for explaining the various blessings. The Spirit assisting the RCM’s natural faculties to say “yes” to Christ seems to be an internal work: the mind and to some degree the heart respond positively to the gospel message. Taking joy, affirming the truth of the gospel (assensus), etc.–these are all operations of the soul, the psuche, and seem to be internal. How is taking joy in the message or assenting to it’s truth with the mind “external”? I grant you the stipulative definitions of “internal” and “external,” but those definitions seem to go very far from resembling the main definitions of the words themselves. So, why not a different set of terms? Spiritual/psychical, perhaps? That’s another Pauline distinction…Or historical (temporal)/eschatological (eternal)? I’m not sure, but it doesn’t seem that internal/external is the best dichotomy here.

    2. I think I failed to understand the analogy, and thus used it in a different way. Notice that in my version of the analogy, the train is the church–am I right in saying that you understood the train to be the individual? This alters things considerably, and this is one of the strengths, it seems to me, of Wright’s work and the FV in stressing the corporate nature of salvation over against modern individualism. As I recall, the Reformed agreed with the dictum of Cyprian, that outside the visible church (defined by the 3 marks of the church, rather than apostolic succession) there is no ordinary chance of salvation, which means that soteriology has an irreducibly corporate element. Properly qualified, I would agree with Wright’s idea that soteriology is ecclesiology–consider Eph. 2-3, or 1 Cor. 11 (et passim)–and even your distinction between elect and reprobate church members indicates that we are considering the relation of the corporate to the individual throughout. And in my analogy I tried to make it very clear that decretal election is not eliminated or blurred: the individual passengers on the train are decretally elected, which is the ultimate and deepest reason for why they do not leave the train (i.e., the historical church). I really think this version of the analogy works better, but I’m hardly objective on that! I do think, though, that my version does not contradict Scripture in blurring or negating the eternal decree.

    3. There are certainly conclusions by “good and necessary consequence” from Scripture that apply, but I would say that we need to take seriously the reality of the blessings given to the RCMs in passages like Heb. 6 and 1 Cor. 10, and I don’t think the traditional dichotomy between internal and external does this sufficiently, as I explained above.

    I’d welcome continuing discussion, and, out of respect for your time, I must say that I find your previous comment sufficiently long to further the discussion, so if you only have time for posts of similar brevity, I would be happy. I’ll try to stick to the central points as well as you have done. Thanks again for the tone and content of your posts and comments.

  15. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Ref. #14:

    Joshua, one point at a time here.

    Your no. 1: I think you’re reading internal-external via the faulty Platonic structure you rightly complained about on your post at part 3. See my comment there for more details.

    To be sure, internal-external has a weakness that you are picking up. The Bible’s terms are flesh and spirit. The distinction is not between the material and immaterial, or the temporal and eternal. Rather, the distinction is between fallen (body-soul) man and regenerate (body-soul) man.

    The former, fallen man, only receives the Spirit’s work externally – not materially externally as in it does not touch his soul, but externally as the Spirit’s work in him effects no substantive change in nature. I.e., the fallen man remains fallen after the Spirit effects him. The fallen man receives the Spirit’s work only via his fallen faculties. The effect to be sure touches him body and soul, but it is the body and soul of a fallen man who has not experienced the effectual call of the Spirit initiating forth in the new birth to a redeemed man.

    By flesh Paul means man as fallen, buy spiritual he means mans as regenerate. Read with this distinction in place, the concerns you address disappear.

  16. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Ref. #14, 2:

    Joshua, my criticism (and mildly as were only talking an analogy here) was that my distinguishing two separate tracks was to picture the decretal vs. temporal distinction between the ECM and the RCM in the Visible Church. The Visible Church is that which we observe from man’s perspective (from the side) – it does not appear there are two separate tracks but one. This is the temporal perspective. The decretal perspective is from the Spirit (the bird’s eye above angle) – in reality there are two separate tracks after all.

    Your adjustment eliminates the distinction pictured by the tracks. I fully concur with your effort to emphasize that both ECM and RCM are in the Visible Church. Maybe we could tweak the analogy to include the “right of way” ( each railroad runs on a bed cut across everyone’s land as the railroads right of way easement). I.O.W. both tracks run in the path of the right if way, both ECM (decretal track) and RCM (temporal track) are in the Visible Church.

  17. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Ref. #14, point 3:

    Interact with my observations (from Ridderbos) about what Paul means by flesh vs. spirit (post in answer to you on part 3). I agree with you that the limits are there when we read the internal-external as a dualistic material (soma) vs. immaterial (pneuma) distinction. This is not what Paul means, nor waht commentators like Calvin and Turretin mean when they say internal-external.

    Hopefully you’ll be faster than me on picking this up. I read Ridderbos on this over 5 times before it started to sink. I was so given to the dualistic perspective that it was difficult for me to remove the blinders.

    It really does offer great hope for answering adequately the FV’s challenge that the blessings of the RCM are real and involve both body and soul. I agree. The difference is that the ECM are regenerate. The RCm never are, and so only receive the Spirit’s work via their fallen faculties.

  18. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 9, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    As I said in regards to your comments on post 3, I agree. Here’s the thing: the very terms “internal” and “external” have to be so radically (re)defined by explanation through the sarx (or psuche)/pneuma idea (which itself has to be understood through the lens of biblical eschatology rather than the Hellenistic usage) that those very terms do not seem like the best ones. Can we find better terms without rejecting the reality they stand for? I fully agree with the substance: there is a qualitative difference between the “faith” of the RCM and the faith of the ECM, at any given time you might look at their historical, professing lives from the eternal perspective (which, by the way, no mortal actually has–God reads the hearts of man, to Him belong the secret things). Leithart (and Wilkins, who simply quotes him in his exam responses) affirms this explicitly, much as your point #2 in post 3: perseverance is the evidence of what was really the case all along (see pp. 14-15 in Wilkins’ written responses).

    This is why the debate sometimes seems to be over terms: I fully agree with your explanation of what “internal” and “external” mean, but I don’t see that those particular terms are the only or best ones to use. So, I try to use other terms/analogies, but that doesn’t mean I reject the substance. As to whether Turretin and Calvin mean everything Ridderbos means, that is certainly the most charitable way to read them. I’ll have to go back and see whether it fits everywhere–as I’ve noted, they tend to still fall into some Platonic categories (e.g., Turretin’s view of the visio Dei as purely intellectual, w/o any physical aspect–David van Drunen pointed this out in Doctrine of the HS at WSC), so I’m not automatically convinced that their internal/external distinctions are always capable of your interpretation. Oddly enough, I tend to read the FV writers just as charitably, figuring that they may be using terms differently than I expect without being unbiblical or anti-confessional. Not saying that the FVers are somehow equals in status or ability to Turretin and Calvin–I don’t think they themselves would say that…

  19. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Ref. #18:

    David Gadbois on part 3 offers some other terms. I’m more than happy to use any that are carefully distiniguished.

    I realy do like sarx/psuche(pneuma), as explained by Ridderbos. Frankly, his explanation seems to match up both specificaly (key texts) and comprehensively (works everywhere else). For me, the key was observing that Paul’s usage follows the Biblical pattern of speaking in common language, but investing the langauge with meaning that transcends the common. This is vital in light of the noetic effects of the fall.

    As to the charitable reading of FV advocates, I continue to be willing to do that, and will do so. My continuing concern, and one which is significant, is their failure to offer effective distinguishing. There is still too much equivocation going on. E.g., for each example of Leithart (viewed by most critics as the most reasonable of the FV advocates) affirmed by someone like Wilkins, there is a whole host of other problematic statements that he either won’t clarify or back off from.

    I wold be more sympathetic if there was reality to the perspective that some FV advocates gave over at De Regno Christi, to wit that the FV is a theological discussion still under way among friends who do not intend for their private ruminations to impact the Church unless/until they perfect their language.

    With such things as private internet discussion groups, they cleary have the ability to effect this perspective. As they have not and have made very public a plethor of problematic statements makes it necessary to ask for clarity.

    The continual failure for it to be offered is disappointing at best.

    No intention to fan flames here, just a little bit of my internal motivation brought to the surface.

  20. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 9, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I should also point out that “flesh” and “spirit” are also to be read eschatologically, not simply anthropologically and soteriologically, since the age to come is characterized by the life of the Spirit, rather than simply the living soul (1 Cor. 15:45). So the distinction is not simply between fallen man a regenerate man, but between what the animating power of this age and the animating power of the age to come. This is how Jesus uses the term “regeneration” in Matt. 19:28: as shorthand for the entire new order of things. So, even RCM participate in the regeneration (cf. Heb. 6:4-5), even if they are not regenerate themselves in the strict sense. This seems to me to bring the experience of blessings by the RCM and ECM closer together, since they are both have something of the character of the age to come.

    This is why I still prefer my one-track version of the analogy, and I will try to expand it so that hopefully it will be clear that it does not do away with the element of decretal election. Trains are defined by their destination, not their internal characteristics. If I ask what train my friend is taking, and he answers with a minute description of the number of coaches, the type of engine, the amount of fuel it burns, etc., I will give him an odd look and say that’s not what I was asking. The proper response is “I’m taking the train to Chicago,” or even “I’m taking the Chicago train.” If he gets off the train before its destination, was he ever really going to Chicago? Well, yes and no. Actually, you could say he was going to Chicago externally, since his actual motion was in that direction, but not internally, since it turned out that he didn’t want to go there! This would not be strictly accurate, though. Let’s say that he initially wants to go to Chicago–he’s heard great things about it, etc. He’s happy to get on the train. Now, on the way, he hears more about Chicago from fellow passengers, and maybe now he thinks Chicago doesn’t sound so great. Or, he finds out that they have to go through Iowa, which, when described, sounds really unpleasant (no offense meant to Iowa here!), and starts to wonder if Chicago is really worth going through Iowa. Or, he discovers that the food on the train pretty ordinary, the seats aren’t that comfortable, and they don’t get his favorite radio station. The conductor and fellow passengers point out that getting off this train is quite dangerous–it involves jumping off at high speed–but he decides that he really doesn’t want to stay on the train, for whatever reason, and then he jumps off, killing himself in the process. Did he ever really want to go to Chicago? Well, yes and no…What matters, though, is that at one point he decided not to go and got off.

    Actually, this is more allegory than simple analogy! The historical church is the “train to the glorious presence of God in the new creation.” The track is history: God sovereignly directs all things to one great goal. Iowa is the “present sufferings,” the plain food is the Supper, the uncomfortable seat is the confession of sin, the lack of entertainment is, well, a lack of entertainment (either of the Evangelical pop variety or the Roman glitter & gold, smells & bells), etc. (I didn’t add a conductor or engineer, but I suppose we could fit them in to get a divine figure.) So, you’re asking, where does decretal election fit in?

    Why did I stay on the train and my friend jump off? Well, because my desire was qualitatively different from his: my desire to get to the goal was the kind of desire that perseveres, and it is this perseverance itself that shows this qualitative difference. But why do I have that desire? Did I work myself up to it? Am I just less of a quitter? No. It turns out, this is only because God chose me long “before” He made anything at all–he elected me for a purpose, for a goal: to reach the consummation. Election itself is goal-oriented. We never do get to see the track all at once: we’re always on it.

    So, were we on difference tracks? No. Were we on different trains? No. Or yes–for him, it was not the “train to Chicago,” but rather, for him, it was a train ride to some ditch in Wyoming. The train, the purposes of God in history for His church, are undeterred. And the only reason why anyone is strong enough to stay on the train is because God has given Him that persevering heart.

    Please forgive me for totally running that analogy into the ground–I had way too much fun with it. But I have a small hope that, in spite of overdoing it, I may have shown that my version of the analogy does take seriously the eternal decree–it is the only reason why anyone stays on the train.

  21. its.reed said,

    January 9, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Ref. #20:

    Joshua, no problem understanding spirit to be of the age to come, that has broken in upon the present.

    The problem is when you propose that the RCM, even in just some sense, experience regeneration (et.al.). Doing this, you only have two choices: 1) either the RCM posess in the same manner as the ECM, with the regeneration (et.al.) being loseable, or 2) the RCM posess in a similar but not the same manner as the RCM, and with this regeneration being loseable.

    Option 1) devolves to the Arminian position, if not formally than for all practical purposes. The historic criticisms apply.

    Option 2) proposes a two-fold regeneration. Regeneration1 is posessed only by the ECM. Regeneration2 is posessed by the RCM. Regeneration2 is the same as Regeneration1 to a degree so substantial that it looks temporally the same as Regeneration1.

    Option 2, aside from also practically devolving to arminian (lower case intended) weaknesses, has the added burden of having no biblical support. Where does one go to find the case that the RCM are regenerated, even in some sense?

    Back to Turretin, to be sure he is arguing against option 1. Yet his insights critique option 2 as well. His summary of the blessings on the RCM, as found in Heb. 6:4-6, are benefits that do not in any manner flow from regeneration in the RCM. Again, his point is that Scripture expressly denies that the RCM experience any sense of regeneration, or any other ECM like benefit. Therefore, we must understand such lists as Heb. 6:4-6 via an option other than 1 or 2.

    I just don’t see the need to insist that the RCM experience any sense of regeneration. The traditional system is completely sufficient for the problems the FV proposes to solve. (I find that the FV critiques charactures of positions, not the positions rightly understood).

  22. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    November 24, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Since I was looking up this thread to see whether we had discussed this before, Reed, I thought I would answer here.

    I will admit that I am redefining “regeneration” in a non-ordo salutis way. I would not in normal contexts refer to the non-elect receiving “regeneration,” since that would be very confusing, but this is a forum for theological debate and discussion among those versed in the subject, rather than a forum for teaching catechumens.

    I would clarify your Option 2 in this way:

    The RCM experiences something that a) may look very like regeneration proper and b) is indeed similar in having the same source–the Spirit who is the vivifying power of the entire age to come but is not in fact regeneration proper. And this “something” has yet to be given a name by systematic theology–I would not recommend “regeneration” at all, given the potential for confusion…

  23. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:05 pm


    Man dude, responding almost a year later, and buried in the archives! You really are putting the pressure on me :-)

    I like your clarifications. I’m reminded of the summary found in the last paragraph on election in the WCF, where the divines took up this same subject. “Like” does not necessarily mean “same”. As long as we’re differentiating the way you do here, “like” is fine. And yes, I agree that they are both the work of the Spirit.

    As to the theological nature of this blog, I’ll grant that. At the same time however I suggest to you that the subject under debate is not simply for us eggheads – it is part and parcel of every day ministry. As well, do not discount how many laymen read this blog as a source of nourishment.

    I remember my first licensure exams (I almost passed). The advice I got was very, very good. They told me that it was obvious I was convinced of reformed doctrine, yet my expression of it was not all that clear. They noted that one of the prerequisites of the office I was seeking was the ability to feed (teach) the sheep. I took the admonition seriously, memorized the WSC, and since then have striven to make my teaching as clear and succinct as possible.

    I enjoy discussing things floating around up where the air is thin. But at heart I’m more suited for flying down near the earth where the air is thicker. That happens to be where most Christians are as well. My only point is even here on GB, we need to make sure we are as clear as we can be. Your caveats in this post are the exact kinds of things we need to do when we engage in theologizing. It takes seriously our responsibility to those listening in.

    Thanks for the helpful conversations.

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