The Discussion Phase Is Clearly Over

Posted by Andy Webb

When we first commented on the Lampooning of the PCA discipline process at the most recent Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference in a post to the Warfield list, noting the obvious lack of respect it indicated, a few FV apologists were quick to say it was all in good fun. Then Mark Horne a PCA minister and signer of the “Joint Federal Vision Statement” blogged in response comparing the FV men to Jesus and those involved in the process against the FV to Pharisees on their way to hell. Apparently this is why the FV men were right in refusing “to take them and their judgments on him seriously” and for not showing “respect or the love for them.

Now James Jordan, one of the chief architects of the FV and another signer of the Joint FV Statement, in comments he made here has made very clear what the FV opinion of the “gaggle of fools” (the PCA) and its discipline process is, and indicated beyond all possible contradiction that the Rubber Nose treatment was not lighthearted Jovian pranksterism.

Here then are some lowlights from Federal Vision Joint Statement Signer, Recent Auburn Avenue Speaker, and the”godfather of the Federal Vision” Jim Jordan’s opinions of the PCA:

Blogger James Jordan said… The actions of the Star Judicial Chamber of the PCA are so openly wicked and evil, and so totally tyrannical, that is makes the Papacy look like small potatoes by comparison. All Christians in all kinds of churches should be appalled by this tyranny, and it is certainly fine for Armstrong, myself, and others to comment on it.
Blogger James Jordan said… If you men cannot recognize the actions of this Star Chamber as tyranny and evil, you are really beyond help. The presbytery has twice examined Wilkins and said he is not out of accord with the Confession. Since this was not the “verdict” desired by the antichrists of the Star Chamber, they threaten the presbytery! I stand by my words. These actions are nothing less than demonic, and evidence that the PCA is being given over. The very fact that the PCA would set up such a Star Chamber, which is beyond appeal, is more evidence. Not even the Papacy has such power, nor claims such power. And you men cannot see this? You are blind, and need to pray for salvation from bondage. Also, the fact that the ignorant PCA GA blindly voted to accept the distortions and downright lies of the FV Report is only evidence that these men are easily misled and are too busy to investigate matters for themselves. The PCA is now virtually a tyranny, and I’m overwhelmingly happy not to be part of it.
Blogger James Jordan said… This is a joke, right? The PCA committee, stacked from the start, produces a series of easily-provable lies, allows virtually no time for discussion so that not only FV person even gets to the mike, and you want to defend this? My language is not over the top. It is very mild. And if you are offended, good. Those of you who lie repeatedly about the beliefs of ordained ministers of Christ, and who rape and divide His church, are going to hear far worse in time to come.
Blogger James Jordan said… Whenever someone points out liars, he’s obnoxious. Goes with the territory. The PCA committee was a pack of liars. The discussion at GA was a joke. I’m not PCA. I wasn’t there. I saw it online. I saw that clown Sproul lie about the FV, and I saw the cowardly committee try and explain why they did not interview anyone, and I saw them lie and say they had actually read and studied the supposed FV material. All out there for the world to see. No fear of God before their eyes. What I gather bothers you is that people outside the PCA can see this abomination and the tyranny of your evil Star Chamber and can comment on it. Yes, we can. It’s appalling. Luther was treated far better. But I assure you, lying about God’s ministers and tearing up the bride of Christ is far more serious than being seen as obnoxious on some blog.
Blogger James Jordan said… Well, this is now just a joke. If you don’t think Sproul is a clown, you obviously did not watch his performance at GA. I don’t need to interview him. He clowned around quite clearly in front of everyone. For the rest, you chaps clearly are not interested in the Bible and the Reformed confessions, so there’s no point in continuing with you. And, you clearly despise Presbyterian church government, since the LA Presbytery has TWICE investigated Wilkins and found no ground for charges. You are not presbyterians at all. I wash my hands of you. Be offended as much as you want. If you wish to be treated with respect, cease your contemptable behavior.
Blogger James Jordan said… The idiocy continues. Justification by faith alone has nothing to do with the FV matter, since all FV exponents affirm completely and wholeheartedly the historic protestant and Reformed doctrine of justification by faith alone. No matter how many times you men repeat your lies, we shall stand up and call you liars and rebuke your wickedness.
As for the Star Chamber, it’s true that the PCA, like a gaggle of fools, set this evil thing in place. It’s the opposite of any kind of Biblical and presbyterian government, as anyone can see, and it’s going to be pointed out as such by many more than Armstrong and myself. You have to be amazed at the morality of the gods of the PCA. Among normal decent people, if you said I was beating my wife, and I said, “No, I’m not,” that would be it. Innocent until proven guilty. Not in the PCA. No, there has to be an investigation. So, the investigation conducted by those nearest to me comes back and says, “Nope, he’s not beating his wife.” Among normal decent people that would be enough.
But not for the gods of the PCA. No, they demand another investigation. The second investigation, by people close to me who know me, comes back and says, “Nope, he’s not beating his wife.” Now among normal decent people that would be more than enough. But not for you evil men, and not for your gods. Your gods come back and say, “Either find this man guilty of beating his wife or we will cut you out of our denomination.” THAT’s the PCA. You regard your sect as a church of Jesus Christ? It is about like the church of Sardis, and EVERYONE CAN SEE IT! You should really step back and take a look at your collective appalling behavior — your misrepresentations, your character assassinations, your lies, and your tyrannies — and do something about it; because if you don’t, the Lord of the Church most certainly will do something about it.

As I’ve said before, the discussion phase is clearly over. These men have nothing but contempt and vitriol and incredibly offensive insults for any denomination or individual that opposes their will and ever-changing theological opinions. Why do they remain in a denomination they brand a Pharisaical “sect” of “antichrists” and a “gaggle of fools”? Still, they seem determined to do so, and to cast their envenomed barbs from within, so there isn’t going to be any other option other than to continue with the discipline process with as much patience and attention to doing things decently and order as possible.


  1. Ron Henzel said,

    January 17, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    If you keep a vile of water in your pocket for emergency baptisms, you might be part of the Federal Vision movement.

    If you think the phrase “sign and seal” is simply the Reformed version of ex opere operato, you just might be a Federal Visionist.

    If your church cut “Trust and Obey” out of its hymnal because the session thought the title was redundant, then you just might be in a Federal Vision church.

    And if you think thumbing a rubber nose at an entire denomination’s judicial process constitutes the epitome of sophisticated humor, then perhaps, just maybe, there might be a home for you in the Federal Vision fun house.

  2. James Jordan said,

    January 17, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Some men remain in the PCA because God has told them they have a duty to help the 7000 who have not yet bowed the knee to antichrist. They hatred of the Kingship of Jesus, which characterizes so much of the PCA, is with fighting. The Reformed faith is that faith includes fiducia, and this is still worth fighting for, regardless of how many antinominian blogs hate it.

  3. James Jordan said,

    January 17, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Oops. The hatred of the Kingship of Jesus, which characterizes so much of the PCA, is worth fighting.

  4. markhorne said,

    January 17, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    “the discussion phase is clearly over”

    You wrote and published that back in January 2003.

  5. markhorne said,

    January 17, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    And it was you actual position since 1875.

  6. Daniel Meyer said,

    January 17, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Do you have some way of verifying that the person posting those comments as ‘James Jordan’ is really James? How hard would it be for someone to post comments and sign their name as James Jordan and have it be hard to tell the difference?

  7. greenbaggins said,

    January 17, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    The comments are from James Jordan, since the email that is posted (but hidden) matches with the email address I used to email him.

  8. David Gadbois said,

    January 17, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Andy, I hope you won’t mind that I edited the format of your post, to help fit in with the rest of the Greenbaggins posts. If you don’t like anything I’ve done, please do feel free to change it back and edit it in the way you see fit.

  9. markhorne said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    And furthermore, my blogpost said nothing at all about you or anyone else. Whatever application the Pharisees have to anything current, I left open. I’ve pointed out other times about dangers of pharisaism in the Reformed war camp, but I did not do so here. You call me out by claiming the authority to read my mind. Well, fine. But I am not answerable for your willingness to apply the description to yourself.

    When MO presbytery investigated and upheld me, my appeal to that for the sake of my good name and reputation was openly mocked on the Warfield List as whining. You have shown yourselves unanswerable to any authority you did not agree with from the beginning. And continue to do so, using stacked committees to evade the verdict of presbytery after presbytery that does not buy your extremist views, and now applauding the persecution a whole presbytery for simply following process and not coming to your preferred verdict.

    You shouldn’t continue down this path, Andy. You ought to turn from it.

  10. pduggie said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    “the discussion phase is over?”

    bwah ha ha ha ha

  11. pduggie said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    “Still, they seem determined to do so, and to cast their envenomed barbs from within, so there isn’t going to be any other option other than to continue with the discipline process with as much patience and attention to doing things decently and order as possible.”

    Is that supposed to sound generous?

    ‘we have no choice but to keep attacking you because you won’t run away. We’d like to stop attacking you, but you keep staying in our jurisdiction’

    That’s faux generosity

  12. anneivy said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Don’t the posts in this combox illustrate that – right or wrong, good or bad – the FV and the PCA are not capable of coexisting?

    It doesn’t really matter who is primarily at fault, or who started the doctrinal conflagration; what does matter is that the two viewpoints are antithetical.

    Beating one’s head against a brick wall is generally considered nonproductive behavior. Repeating the same action multiple times in the expectation that the next time will produce a different result is a working definition of insanity.

    At what point will the FV’ers in the PCA – setting aside whether their theological distinctives are “Reformed” – recognize the situation as it exists, and not as they want it to be?

    There’s no sense making an idol of a denomination, for pity’s sake.


  13. Kyle said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Re: 2,

    The Reformed faith is that faith includes fiducia, and this is still worth fighting for, regardless of how many antinominian blogs hate it.

    Define fiducia.

    If Mr. Jordan follows the standard tack that has previously been used on this blog by FVers (some time ago now), then fiducia will include faithfulness or obedience or faithful obedience.

    Re: 6,

    You can see my comments over on Pr. Gleason’s blog. My first thought was this might be some troll pretending to be James Jordan. But it became too absurd not to be Mr. Jordan himself.

  14. pduggie said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Fiducia includes proneness to obedience.

    How’s that?

  15. Kyle said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    pduggie, re: 14,

    I wasn’t asking you, but “proneness to obedience” is fine. Hard to have “faith” if it doesn’t trust God’s commandments.

    But if Mr. Jordan means simply the same, then to which antinomians does he refer? Is the PCA generally rife with folks who deny that true faith is inclined to obedience? If true faith weren’t inclined toward obedience, it can hardly be expected that good works would follow it, and no one could speak of good works as evidentiary of true faith.

  16. Andrew Webb said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    In answer to Daniel’s question, I confirmed that the “Blogger” identity that posted the comments was the same one that Jordan has posted on elsewhere. In any event, he’s here, and clearly proud of his prior statements.

    It’s telling of course but not at all unexpected that the other FV men (his co-signers, co-lecturers, co-authors) etc. are continuing to support his statements, the problem is of course us.

    In reply to Mark, while I wouldn’t agree, I’d respect you if you’d owned up to indicating that your post was indeed in reference to my and Reed’s exchange on Warfield. After all, you’ve had no problem publicly calling me a Pharisee and a son of the devil in the past (or am I not exegeting “of the Father of Lies” accurately?) As it is the dissimulation is just sad and assumes that the people you were talking about are just obtuse. Even the Pharisees knew when Jesus was talking about them, even when he didn’t use their names you know. I’m sorry Mark, I’m not going to buy (and I doubt anyone else will) that it’s a wild coincidence that your post came out the same day of our exchange, and cited exactly the same language that Reed and I used in speaking of the recent AAPC conference. I say take a page out of your “godfather’s” playbook and be open with your vilification.

    And yes, Mark, if you won’t realign, and if no one in your Presbytery will bring charges against you and Jeff for your FV theology, I’ll go the exceedingly tedious way and bring charges from outside. I still have hopes that someone in Missouri will file first however. Clearly, the idea that you can stay in communion with men you FV men describe as fools, devils, antichrists, and Pharisees is idiotic.

  17. Gabe Martini said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Re: #13,

    Surely faith includes obedience, if we’re going by the Westminsterian definition.

    That’s the problem. The antinomian nature of those opposing the FV denies this aspect of ‘saving faith,’ as the WCF denotes it. As James Jordan has said, this antinomianism is part and parcel of a denial of the Kingship of Christ. If Jesus is King, our faith in him necessitates obedience. Otherwise, we don’t have faith — at least, not saving faith.

  18. markhorne said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    “After all, you’ve had no problem publicly calling me a Pharisee and a son of the devil in the past (or am I not exegeting “of the Father of Lies” accurately?)”

    OK, so my apology was not accepted then. My sin of the tongue will be remember forever. I get it.

  19. pduggie said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    If Christ can justify the ungodly, why can’t FV guys stay in communion with sinners?

  20. markhorne said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    No one has brought charges, by the way, because I am obviously aligned with the system of faith of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, as is witnessed by all my writings.

    My exceptions (paedocommunion, existence of images of deity, Sabbath recreation) have always been noted by me and I have been approved by my presbytery. By saying otherwise Andy is continuing to be a libel and slanderer. I never had any right to say anything about the source of his inaccuracies, but I do have the right to say they are both false, and groundless, and that it is wrong for him to spread them.

  21. pduggie said,

    January 17, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    “Is the PCA generally rife with folks who deny that true faith is inclined to obedience?”

    I’d say that some of the FVs opponents (Godfrey and Scott Clark) would say so.

    I’d also never deny that there is unsupportable (but understandable) hyperbole in JBJ’s jeremiad

  22. pduggie said,

    January 17, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    I’m also pretty sure that’s what Lusk and Shepherd are talking about in their new book. Proneness to obedience. The same faith that receives salvation will issue forth in works or it won’t be suitable to justify, though the works-issuing nature isn’t that which makes it suitable.

    If the argument is over the more limited question of whether faith’s obedience to the call of the gospel (‘Believe in Jesus” as a command, though not a meritorious work) I think that’s just a lot of gnat straining. Poor dumb Abrakel even gets that “wrong”, if you read Berkower.

  23. Gabe Rench said,

    January 17, 2008 at 3:06 pm


    The discussion phase was over along time ago, and this was evident when the GA voted to uphold the committees report. If you remember this report ran on the platform of upholding Sola Fide…but ALL men that I know on the FV side also uphold Sola Fide. What a joke…who is not listening…who is not discussing? This issue has been polarized and all sides need to go back to ground zero and put everything back on the table. Charity is not being pursued and a sincere desire to understand the issue is out. Cheers!

  24. Andrew Webb said,

    January 17, 2008 at 3:07 pm


    You and Jeff have publicly stated that you are in agreement with the teaching of Steve Wilkins and in print you have said basically the same things he has about a wide range of subjects from Baptism to Perseverance. The SJC, which is the highest judicatory of the PCA, has stated that Wilkins’ teachings raise a “strong presumption of guilt” and that he should have been brought to trial. You teach the same things, therefore the strong presumption of guilt applies to you too. Additionally the GA of the PCA by at least at 90% margin declared your teachings to be in error. I strongly suspect you have been shielded simply by the glacial speed at which we do discipline, the hope that a natural realignment would occur, and the PCA’s natural aversion to bringing charges on doctrinal matters.

    That your teaching is erroneous is not a libel, it is the official declaration of at least 7 denominations, various seminaries, and the SJC.

  25. January 17, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    […] James Jordan lashes out once again in response to an article posted on Green Bagginses entitled The Discussion Phase Is Clearly Over. Here’s another taste of Mr. Jordan’s shameful behavior. James Jordan said, January 17, […]

  26. markhorne said,

    January 17, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Andy, all good things must come to an end and my participation in this thread must also. I’ll gladly let you have the last word. I have said all I need to.

    By the way, I mentioned my writings so I should have linked them:

    My blog


    My Reformation Day sermon at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church

  27. James Jordan said,

    January 17, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    The question of why FV mean don’t leave the PCA has another aspect. Mr. Webb and others here assume that THEY speak for the majority of the PCA. That is far from demonstrable. The fact that in a few presbyteries the bullies have gotten false statements about the FV passed, and the fact that the GA was hoodwinked into the doing the same, does not prove that the PCA is in fact hostile to what the FV actually stands for. It’s entirely possible that the antinomians and two-kingdom haters of Jesus’ kingship are the minority in the PCA, and that the FV represents the majority. Why don’t you who deny that faith involves faithfulness leave the PCA? You’ve certainly left the Reformed faith.

  28. Andrew Webb said,

    January 17, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    BTW Mark, I’m sorry I missed your post 18 in my first response. But you’ll have to forgive me, how is “I’m sorry I called you what I think you are, what I will approve of other people calling you, and what I will continue to imply in the future” an apology exactly? Would you accept that from your kids? “Sorry I called Bill an idiot, dad, but everyone knows he’s not smart at all. I really apologize for using that particular word to describe his shocking lack of intelligence that time.” Are you more concerned about the mouth or the heart?

  29. January 17, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Gabe R. said “but ALL men that I know on the FV side also uphold Sola Fide. What a joke…who is not listening…who is not discussing?”

    It is comments like these, which are also similarly found in Jordan’s writings, that give me deep concern about even FV’s very *conception* of orthodoxy. Yes, it is true that all of the FV players formally affirm sola fide. I think we all know that. Is that really a sufficient test of orthodoxy, however? If terms and concepts are redefined, or a person’s teachings fail to reflect such formal affirmations, then is that person really “upholding” sola fide? I find, from Jordan, Horne, and many other FVers the implicit assumption that as long as sola fide is formally affirmed by FV proponents that that is enough.

  30. markhorne said,

    January 17, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    You have continually borne false witness against me, Andy, and against others. Can’t apologize for saying so.

    Can apologize for claiming you did so because you were in line with “the father of lies.” Did so.

    If you want some sort of further reconciliation, then stop saying things that aren’t true.

  31. markhorne said,

    January 17, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    By not interpretation, by the way, did I ever say, “I’m sorry I called you what I think you are.” Nothing justifies you accusing me of such.

    I have every duty to warn people to stop giving in to the way of lies and to warn them of what will happen if they continue.

    So stop. Lay the burden down.

  32. January 17, 2008 at 4:00 pm


    Shoot me down for this if you wish, but there is something unseemly about the public nature of this particular discussion. I am not commenting about the seriousness of the theological issues, or the need to discuss them publicly on the internet. I am, however, struggling to see how this thread (on a blog that has provided plenty of helpful and robust debate) is going anywhere useful.

  33. Andrew Webb said,

    January 17, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Well when you say it that way Jim it seems so reasonable.

    So let me get this right, demonic haters who are in fact the gods of the PCA hoodwinked the ignorant gaggle of fools in the GA using a cowardly pack of liars and that clown RC Sproul into voting overwhelmingly against the FV in order that they might further corrupt this sect called the PCA that resembles the church of Sardis and is almost entirely given over, and in which only a tiny remnant have not bowed the knee to Baalbut its still entirely possible that the majority in the PCA support the FV.

    Well now why didn’t you just say that from the get-go?

  34. Andrew Webb said,

    January 17, 2008 at 4:14 pm


    I’m willing to accept your admonition brother that this is going nowhere profitable and remain silent from here on, but I must disagree that any further debate on the the theological issues surrounding the ever-morphing FV will genuinely prove useful to Christ’s church. The problem as the post indicated isn’t the system, as there isn’t really a system, the problem is the proponents. At this point, I believe only the use of the third mark of the true church will be profitable. I appreciate the work others have done to attempt to nail down and identify the illness, but now that we have a diagnosis in hand, its time to move to treatment before the patient gets sicker.

    Thanks for attempting to keep the high ground in view though.

  35. magma2 said,

    January 17, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Jordan barks:

    The Reformed faith is that faith includes fiducia, and this is still worth fighting for, regardless of how many antinominian blogs hate it.

    Even when he is not wearing his disguise, including the one where we’re supposed to believe he is a Christian man and teacher, Jordan still looks foolish, but he does provide another great example why men need to read Gordon Clark’s, What is Saving Faith. While most P&R men are nearly universally confused on the question of what is saving faith, it’s clear Jordon and his ilk haven’t got a clue.

    Fiducia is translated trust and the word trust is synonymous with belief. Yet, in the lexicon of FV heretics like Jordan, fiducia means works and evangelical obedience. It means “faithfulness” as that other gospel hater Doug Wilson repeatedly asserts in his sustained attack against the Christian faith in RINE.

    Not only do these men say foolish things, now they’ve finally found a look that goes with their doctrines.

  36. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 17, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Dear Mr. Horne and Mr. Webb,

    Aside from any charges of heresy that you might wish to bring against each other, there is clearly a personal offense between you. We should not be privy to it, and I urge both of you to resolve it ASAP for the sake of the brethren and your vows, per Matt. 18.15.

    As to the rest: I can’t see for the life of me how repeating Dr. Jordan’s comments can possibly be edifying.

    James, your anger at the SJC leads you to believe wrong things about people you don’t even know. Antinomian? Hardly.

    Here it is: Saving faith always results in good works. The righteous requirements of the law are met in us forensically through justification and actually through sanctification, all accomplished by faith which is the instrument of our union with Christ.

    I learned this doctrine at one of the seminaries most heavily represented by TEs in the PCA.

    So unless those TEs all failed their classes, they agree, more or less, with what I wrote above. And that’s by no means antinomian.

    Please, dial down the anger several decibels, read James 3, and do not provide the occasion for sin.

    (steps down off of soap box and dons vegetable-proof gear)
    Jeff Cagle

  37. January 17, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    …that it makes the Papacy look like small potatoes by comparison.

    One of my biggest pet-peaves is historical ignorance. For someone to say that shows a severe lack of knowledge in basic ecclesiastical history. When someone starts erecting a stack of sticks in Saint Louis. Let me know.

  38. Machaira said,

    January 17, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    James Jordan #26

    Why don’t you who deny that faith involves faithfulness leave the PCA? You’ve certainly left the Reformed faith.

    I heard the same nonsense come from Steve Schlissel in a debate. Can you point to any of these individuals in the PCA who deny that faith involves faithfulness? Unless you’ve redefined the word “involves” I think your charge is way off mark.

  39. pduggie said,

    January 17, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    “involve” and “include” are antithetical?

  40. Machaira said,

    January 17, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    #38 pduggie,

    Let me put it to you this way; If Mr. Jordan is charging individuals in the PCA with “easy-believism,” then he couldn’t be more wrong. Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is never alone. That’s the point.

  41. Kyle said,

    January 17, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Gabe, re: 17,

    Is obedience a constituent element of faith? There is an old discussion here, wish I could point you to that most ancient of threads on GreenBaggins, but Pr. Wilson defined fiducia as consisting partially of obedience. Obedience is not an element of faith, but an evidence of it. Yes, our obedience is by faith, but not an element of faith itself. “These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith” (WCF 16.2).

  42. tim prussic said,

    January 17, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Anne Ivy (way up in #12): Thou hast said, “Don’t the posts in this combox illustrate that – right or wrong, good or bad – the FV and the PCA are not capable of coexisting?”

    I don’t think it’s the “FV” and the “PCA” that are the problems. I think it’s the pride of men on both sides. Men holding ideas more widely divergent than FV covenantalism and Southern Presbyterianism have held peacefully together in gospel unity. But on both sides: sin is sin, pride is pride, and politics is politics – and it’s all sickening.

    E.g., when the “gospel” is tied to something as minute and obscure as the imputation of Christ’s active obedience over-against union with the whole of the person and work of Christ, I think we’ve become a good bit near sighted. Doesn’t sola fide justification actually guard the gospel against such theological nit picking being put into the “heart of gospel”? Justification is not through a particular and specific theological formulation of justification; it’s through faith ALONE. I understand that faith has (and must have) content, but the tail easily wags the dog in our circles on this issue. “You’re not supralapsarian, 6-day creationist, traducianist, amil, partial preterist with a twist? Sir, you’ve denied the gospel! You’re a heretic!”

  43. January 17, 2008 at 5:58 pm


    Just curious, but how many distinguishable formulations of justification can you have and still have “sola fide”?

  44. Mark T. said,

    January 17, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Pastors Keister & Webb,

    Perhaps you would considering turning off the comments on this particular post to help fulfill the point of the title. Jordan wrote these things and Pastor Webb’s conclusion is the appropriate response, so let’s end the discussion.

  45. Gabe Martini said,

    January 17, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Re #41:


    The WCF presents obedience and yielding to God’s commands as part of the definition of saving faith. The chapter on Good Works is dealing with a separate issue.

    In chapter 14 of the Confession of Faith, the divines include within the definition of Saving Faith (para. 2) the phrase “yielding obedience to the commands…” If this is simply the result of faith, the WCF does not specify appropriately. Given the language of the confession, and how para. 2 begins (i.e., “By this faith, a Christian …”), we should interpret this as a definition of saving faith, not the results of saving faith.

    Why? Look at the chapter on Repentance, and how it is defined: “By it, a sinner …” Is the Confession of Faith defining repentance here or saying what the fruits of repentance are, after one has already repented? I think we all know the answer to this, don’t we?

    To quote Mark Horne, if we interpret the Confession as using the phrase “by this faith…” to indicate the fruits of faith rather than what faith is, we must in turn say that repentance “must not be defined as turning from sin to God, but as something else, previous to that turning, which causes or enables one to do it (Mark Horne, “Reformed Covenant Theology and Its Discontents,” A Faith that is Never Alone, p. 99.).” And that’s a little absurd, I must say.

  46. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 17, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Gabe (#45):

    To quote Mark Horne, if we interpret the Confession as using the phrase “by this faith…” to indicate the fruits of faith rather than what faith is, we must in turn say that repentance “must not be defined as turning from sin to God, but as something else, previous to that turning, which causes or enables one to do it.” And that’s a little absurd, I must say.

    Absurd it might be, but it’s the absurdity that Calvin thought was necessary.

    The shortest transition, however, will be from faith to repentance; for repentance being properly understood it will better appear how a man is justified freely by faith alone, and yet that holiness of life, real holiness, as it is called, is inseparable from the free imputation of righteousness. That repentance not only always follows faith, but is produced by it, ought to be without controversy. For since pardon and forgiveness are offered by the preaching of the Gospel, in order that the sinner, delivered from the tyranny of Satan, the yoke of sin, and the miserable bondage of iniquity, may pass into the kingdom of God, it is certain that no man can embrace the grace of the Gospel without retaking himself from the errors of his former life into the right path, and making it his whole study to practice repentance. Those who think that repentance precedes faith instead of flowing from, or being produced by it, as the fruit by the tree, have never understood its nature, and are moved to adopt that view on very insufficient grounds…Still, when we attribute the origin of repentance to faith, we do not dream of some period of time in which faith is to give birth to it: we only wish to show that a man cannot seriously engage in repentance unless he know that he is of God. But no man is truly persuaded that he is of God until he have embraced his offered favor. — Calvin, Inst. 3.1.1, 3.

    I think “by this faith” in WCoF 14 is clearly representing the fruits of faith, for several reasons:

    (1) The results cited (such as acting “differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come”) presuppose an ongoing process, unless we require that the Christian at the moment of faith to automatically know what each particular passage containeth?

    (2) “But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.” is a clear distinction between two types of effects that might be summarized as “obedience” and “accepting”; in fact, the “accepting” is clearly marked as “the acts of faith” — NOT as “faith means …”

    (3) And in any event, obedience is not the principle act of saving faith!

    Jeff Cagle

  47. January 19, 2008 at 12:14 am

    My response is posted here.

%d bloggers like this: