A Gracious Covenant of Works?

Doug continues our discussion, which I think is getting very interesting. It may be a while before I get to the next section in Credenda. Let me interact with his post in some detail.

But if all Reformed theologians agree that obedience was necessary in the Garden, and a lot of them (as Lane concedes) believe that the covenant of works there was actually a gracious covenant, it follows from this that the required obedience, had it been rendered by Adam, would have been a gracious gift from God.

This does not follow, in my opinion, since there is equivocation present here in the term “gracious covenant.” In what sense is it gracious? If all that is meant is that condescension was necessary on God’s part for there to be a covenant of works at all, I agree. But this does not mean that, in an immediate sense, the required obedience would have been a gracious gift from God, since it is the nature of the immediate context of Adam’s obedience that is the question. Yes, God gave Adam the necessary moral qualifications to obey the covenant. However, it was up to Adam to obey. The terms of the covenant itself were not gracious. Not that they were harsh. Adam was expected to obey perfectly in the CoW. We are not, in the CoG. There was no leeway in the CoW, no forgiveness, no atonement, no redemption. Adam was in an unfallen state. Where would the impetus have come from, then, for Adam to obey God? It would have come immediately from Adam, even though such ability to choose the good had been given him by God. It was still up to Adam to use that gift properly. God bound Himself by the terms of the covenant, then, to reward Adam’s obedience. If Adam had obeyed, he could have come to God and said, “Father, you promised that if I obeyed, you would give me eternal life. I have obeyed. Please give me eternal life.” But to call the Covenant of Works a gracious covenant is misleading in that it obscures the ground of Adam’s inheritance, which would have been his obedience. Ultimately, we can ask the question this way: by the terms of the CoW, would Adam have deserved eternal life had he obeyed? (Notice the importance of the first clause of the question, which puts us in the realm of pactum merit.) The answer is yes. This can be inferred from the fact that disobedience most definitely deserved eternal death. By the law of opposites then, obedience (by the terms of the covenant) would have deserved eternal life, which Adam did not already possess. Eternal life, by its very definition, is not temporary, conditional, or losable, contrary to Adam’s situation.  

When Paul talks about grace and works driving one another out, he is talking about grace on the one hand and autonomous works on the other. In the Pauline vocabulary, grace and works displace one another. But Paul doesn’t think the same way about grace and obedience.

I have a proposal here, Doug. Let’s talk about some individual passages where you believe Paul is distinguishing between autonomous works, on the one hand, and obedience on the other hand, with regard to justification. This is a very important point, and one that has not really been discussed much in the literature of the Federal Vision to my knowledge (though the point has certainly been brought up in the Reformation literature). And it is an exegetical claim. Let’s get our exegetical hands dirty.

My exegetical claim is that when it comes to justification, Paul makes no such distinction between autonomous works and obedience. He excludes works and obedience from justification. Now, let’s be clear. I would think we both agree that there is a distinction between works done before faith and works done after faith. The former are not good works at all, since they are not done to the glory of God. The latter are those works which we were created to do, and which we should therefore do. So, the question is this: are the latter works, the works of obedience, the works that spring from faith (which are truly good works) part of justification, or not? I would say no. No works of ours of any kind, and no obedience of ours of any kind, factor into justification in any way whatsoever. In other words, in the Pauline sense of the word “justification,” works and obedience play no part. The only exception in the entire Bible is when James is talking about evidential justification. Is our justification true or not? The evidence brought forth to prove the point is our works. But this is not our justification before God. It is rather proof to the world and to Satan that their false accusations against the saints were not well-founded. It is not that declarative act of God by which He pronounces us not guilty and instead heirs of eternal life. Instead, what James is talking about is the genuineness of our justification. A genuine justification produces good works.  

If Adam had stood the test, it would have been through the instrumentality of faith-animated obedience, graciously given by God.

I would not put it this way. I would say that if Adam had stood the test, it would have through the instrumentality of faith-animated obedience (understanding faith here to be different than what we have, in that Adam could see God), the ability of which was condescendingly given by God. The obedience itself, in other words, was not given by God. The ability to obey was, since it was part of Adam being created morally innocent.

One other very important question to raise here is the nature of grace. Is grace defined as God giving something simply undeserved to someone? Or does it mean that God gives something to someone who has deserved the opposite? This is, of course, a Klinean question to raise. However, the WS do not use the term “grace” of the pre-Fall situation. Instead, they use the term “condescension.” I have a hard time believing that it is mere coincidence. At the very least, if we are going to use the term of both situations, we have to recognize the difference in meaning. Adam did not need grace in the same way that we need grace.

It has taken me awhile to figure out what Doug is saying about Romans 2:13. Let me try to summarize what he is saying. In effect, Doug is saying that justifying faith is never alone, even though it is alone in justification itself. The “doers” then are those who have already been justified, and are now doing the law. The only difficulty with this view of the passage is the future tense “will be.” Would not Doug’s view require Paul to have written “The doers of the law have been justified?” It is the future tense which, in my opinion, makes the two options I mentioned exclusive of other possibilities. Either it is saying that there is a hypothetical way of self-justification, namely, by doing the law perfectly (which cannot happen, since all have sinned), or it is saying that future justification depends in some manner on our works (which does not have to be taken in a legalistic direction: it could be taken in the Jamesian sense mentioned above, in which case we would have an evidential use of the verb in Paul). I see no other way to account for the future tense.

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108 Comments

  1. Dave Lort said,

    May 3, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Lane,

    I don’t quite understand your difficulty with the future tense, and your conclusion that Doug’s view would require Paul to have said, “have been justified.” If the context of the judgment/justification (vv. 12,13) in view is “the day when God shall judge the secrets of men” (v.16), is it necessarily inconsistent to say that those who have already been justified (in the sense of the Standards), and are now doing the law, “will be justified?” Since you have suggested becoming more exegetical in this discussion, perhaps if you were to lay out your analysis of the unit of verses 12-16, it would become more clear why that is the case.

    If, for example, Doug were understanding the “justify” of verse 13 along with Murray in his commentary as “not used here with reference to the justification which is the grand theme of the epistle,” but to describe the people who will be justified in that sense as “those who have already been justified (in the sense of the Standards), and are now doing the law” is there still a problem with the future tense?

    Dave Lort

  2. Joshua said,

    May 3, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Where is the promise of *eternal* life as the result of Adam’s obedience stated or implied in Genesis?

    If Adam would have obeyed, it does not follow of necessity that eternal life results. It is only necessary that life (rather than death) result.

    Adam is what God makes him to be.

    Adam was created morally mutable (able to sin), thus he would have had to be remade morally immutable (not able to sin) to have possessed *eternal* life. Where is this promise indicated in the Garden?

    But the problem of Adam’s ontological nature requires further thought. Having been created morally mutable, what prevented Adam from being tempted to sin? Adam was not created holy or righteous, ontologically, otherwise he would have been incapable of sin. That Adam was created innocent does not indicate that he possessed an ability to obey upon his own merit apart from the decree and providence of God (i.e., grace). It was only by God’s decree and meticulous arrangement of circumstances that Adam could have been kept free from succumbing to temptation, since Adam was created morally mutable.

    Who knew what it would take for Adam to disobey better than God? Who then would have been responsible for the circumstances necessary to preserve Adam from temptation leading into sin? The answer is clear: only by God’s provision could have Adam obeyed. That Adam was able not to sin does not logically entail that he was thereby able not to sin apart from God’s orchestration of circumstances ensuring the result of obedience.

    If Adam were capable of obeying without the aid of God, then he would have to be morally immutable, that is, able not able to sin under any circumstances. But if Adam were morally immutable such that no circumstance could tempt him to sin, it would have been God who would have determined and created Adam immutable. Therefore, it would have been by God’s gracious choice that Adam would have been not able to sin.

    There is no need to attribute to Adam the ability to have merited anything apart from God’s grace. It is not only a logical impossibility given God’s Sovereignty and Adam’s created status as morally mutable, but it plants the seed of synergy in the Garden, which can only harvest the fruit of synergy in the eclipse of innocence.

  3. Josh Walker said,

    May 3, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Lane,

    “There was no leeway in the CoW, no forgiveness, no atonement, no redemption. Adam was in an unfallen state. Where would the impetus have come from, then, for Adam to obey God?”

    Given this understanding of the CoW, it seems that Kline, and those who followed him, are mistaken to see the Mosaic Covenant as a “republication” of the CoW. Am I right on this? What is your take on this issue?

  4. Joe Rigney said,

    May 3, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Lane,

    On Romans 2:13, would the already/not yet paradigm help here? We are already justified by faith and we are not yet justified by faith (in the sense that our justification has not been publicly declared by God at the judgment seat). In other words, just as Paul can speak of already and not yet dimensions to salvation (Eph 2:8 and Rom 5:9) and adoption (Rom 8:14 and Rom 8:23), so also we can speak of an already and not yet dimension of justification. In neither case is justification BASED ON works; justification is always by faith alone, which unites us to Jesus Christ the Righteous. Nevertheless, one description of those who will be justified on the last day is “doers of the Law.”

    I think Richard Gaffin argues something along these lines in Resurrection and Redemption (p. 133-134) and By Faith Not By Sight. Gaffin points to Gal 5:6 as one place where a future dimension of justification is mentioned. I think Doug’s interpretation would be right in line with this.

  5. May 4, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Josh,

    To address your question, I think that Kline would say that the Mosaic Covenant was not an exact replica of the covenant of works, for it (necessarily) made provisions for the now-existing sin problem and furthers the agenda of the covenant of grace.

    What makes it “republication” of the original covenant is that the principle by which Israel would receive either blessing or curse was the same for them as it was for Adam: works.

    This is the best way, I think, to make sense out of Paul’s seemingly disparaging comments about the ministry of Moses (it administered death and condemnation). He is speaking of the Old Covenant strictly as a call to “do this and live” which, I would argue, is bad news.

  6. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 4, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Josh (#2):

    Where is the promise of *eternal* life as the result of Adam’s obedience stated or implied in Genesis?

    If Adam would have obeyed, it does not follow of necessity that eternal life results. It is only necessary that life (rather than death) result.

    Redoing the garden scene with a successful Adam is all hypothetical, I suppose, so we can’t make too much of things. But here’s how I see it:

    (1) We don’t fully know what it was like to be innocent Adam. Clearly, he was not above being tempted; but clearly, he did not possess a sin nature. Within those boundaries, I think it’s fair to say that the Genesis narrative presents the serpent’s temptation as something that would not have occurred to Eve or Adam on their own (in contrast to James 1.13-15, “…each man is tempted when he is carried away by his own evil desire…”).

    So I would dispute your “eventuality argument” that Adam would have eventually sinned unless God meticulously arranged circumstances. It appears from the Genesis narrative that the serpent’s temptation was exceptional, and that the only circumstance to be arranged was the expulsion of the tempter.

    (2) The parallel between Adam and Christ as second Adam adds weight to the idea that Adam’s innocence would protect him from … ermm … “garden variety” temptations. For in the case of Christ, his human nature was temptable (Heb 4.15), and yet there was no sense in which the Father had to arrange circumstances to keep Jesus from sinning, even with regard to the human nature.

    In other words, (1) and (2) cast doubt on your claim that

    If Adam were capable of obeying without the aid of God, then he would have to be morally immutable, that is, able not able to sin under any circumstances.

    The possibility that we must also consider is that few circumstances could induce Adam to sin. Once these were disposed of, he would be free from temptation; that is, morally immutable with respect to the circumstances he would face in the future.

    (3) The strong parallels between Rev. 20-21 and Gen. 1-3 indicate that the New Heavens and Earth are what “should have been” had Adam obeyed. This suggests, but does not prove in isolation, that the result of Adam’s hypothetical obedience would have been eternal life.

    There is no need to attribute to Adam the ability to have merited anything apart from God’s grace.

    The problem is defining what “grace” means. As used in the Murray line of thought, it refers broadly to any gift given by God to his creatures.

    Despite what I’ve said above, I would agree with you that Adam’s obedience would have been the result of God’s grace in that sense.

    But as used in the Confession, it appears to be more narrowly focused on God’s favor given not directly through the instrument of obedience, but instead bestowed upon sinners. WCoF 3.5 and 7.3 are good examples of this.

    There is no need to attribute to Adam the ability to have merited anything apart from God’s grace. It is not only a logical impossibility given God’s Sovereignty and Adam’s created status as morally mutable, but it plants the seed of synergy in the Garden, which can only harvest the fruit of synergy in the eclipse of innocence.

    Synergy is a worthwhile concern. Certainly, certain accounts of Gen. 2-3 could run the risk of portraying Adam as autonomous “Righteous Man” who is turned loose by God to face Satan on his own. My account above is not attempting to move in that direction; Adam’s ability to choose sin or not sin is always located within the context of God’s sovereignty. In fact, God decreed the Fall, though He could easily have decreed the Unfall.

    But within the circle of accounts that recognize God’s sovereignty, we can still discuss whether Adam’s obedience would have been instrumental in bringing about life for his people. That’s what the CoW is about, not about assigning Adam a “meritoriousness” apart from his relationship with God.

    Over against your concern, I would note that:

    (1) The Westminster Divines certainly were on their guard against synergy, and felt it therefore necessary to affirm that Adam’s probation in the garden was of a different quality than ours; they had no scruples about the CoW language.

    (2) Kline argues that if we abandon the notion of Adam and Jesus earning their peoples’ respective destinies, then we back-handedly place the onus of earning those destinies on the people themselves. In other words, he argued that Murray’s scheme leads to a breakdown in federal headship.

    Now I like Murray, and I think it’s possible that Kline may have gone too far with that one. But I respect his point that we need to recognize the distinction between the federal heads and the federally represented. At the level of human contingencies, we cannot escape sin until the eschaton. Adam was not like us in that way.

    Jeff Cagle

  7. rfwhite said,

    May 4, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    According to Kline, the Mosaic Covenant was a republication of the Covenant of Works modified to be compatible with the Covenant of Grace. The Covenant of Works was modified in the Mosaic Covenant by limiting the application of the principle of personal (including national and royal) obedience to the retention (vis-a-vis reception) of earthly and temporal (i.e., typological) blessings. (Those earthly and temporal blessings were received according to the principle of representative obedience: because Abraham obeyed, the many received blessings.) The common lesson of the Eden and Canaan probations was that, if man was ever both to receive and to retain the heavenly and eternal blessings, he must find them in a man who had proven to be non posse peccare.

  8. Tom Wenger said,

    May 4, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    It has been standard in the Reformed tradition to affirm that Adam’s earning eternal life by meeting the standards of the CoW would not have been anything but the results of what it means to have been created “good.” Obviously whatever God endowed him with would be a gracious gift that Adam did not necessarily deserve. But once endowed with these things, Adam had the ability in himself to meet the standards that God required. His reason, understanding and judgment sufficed for the direction of his earthly life, and by them he had the ability to attain eternal life.

    So yes, they were given to him, but they were given at creation, and Adam did not after that need some kind of super-added grace to sustain that state of affairs. In his initial integrity, Adam, by free will had the power, if he so willed, to attain eternal life.

  9. rfwhite said,

    May 4, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    To Jeff Cagle’s comments in 7, I think we can add G. Vos’s observation that Adam’s successful standing of his probation would enable him to pass from a state of peccable and unconfirmed holiness—posse peccare and posse non peccare—to a state of impeccable and confirmed holiness—non posse peccare. See his Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948), 22-23.

    One other observation: it seems to me that another text indicating that there was promise as well as threat in Gen 2 is 1 Cor 15:45-49. It seems clear that Paul infers that the blessing of man’s eschatology is typified in Adam. 1 Cor 15 is the complement to Rom 5. Adam as we encounter him at first was not Adam as should encounter him at last. The spiritual is not his first state; the spiritual is after the natural. The probation was designed to enable Adam to move from his first, natural, earthly, protological state to his second and last, spiritual, heavenly, eschatological state.

  10. GLW Johnson said,

    May 5, 2008 at 7:33 am

    I see that DW is calling into question Lane’s committment to Calvinism. DW calls himself ‘a high predestinarian’- I think he has a bad nosebleed as a result. As Fowler White has pointed out already Lane’s position falls squarely within the standard Augustinian/Reformed framework. Futhermore DWshould know that the ‘T’ in Tulip refers to Adam’s condition postlapsarian. The real question ,however for DW is:-‘Are you and your fellow FVers Arminians?’ Many of us have long suspected this to be the case since all of you have ‘justified’ individuals ceasing to be justified in the end. Conditional justification is an Arminian tenet.

  11. GLW Johnson said,

    May 5, 2008 at 7:44 am

    p.s by conditional justification I am referring to a losable salvation.

  12. Josh Walker said,

    May 5, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Jason (#5):

    Thanks for the response. Would you (and/or Kline) say that the Mosaic Covenant was fundamentally a gracious covenant? Also, this “do this and live” principle was not robotic, but more organic, right? God often let people live who did wrong and he did not always bless people who did right. This seems different (maybe in degree but not kind) from the CoW Adam was in.

    I am still working through all these issues, so my comments are really inquiry. I want to have a better understanding of these issues before I deiced where I fall on them. One reason I want to follow Kline is seeing where the “other guys” ended up (i.e. the FV).

    Thanks for helping me think through these issues.

  13. Sam Steinmann said,

    May 5, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Many of us have long suspected this to be the case since all of you have ‘justified’ individuals ceasing to be justified in the end.

    Called.

    Please, I’d like at least one quote, from Wilson, saying that a God-justified individual (justified individually, not merely part of a justified group), can cease to be justified.

  14. Tom Wenger said,

    May 5, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Hey, Josh,

    If you don’t mind me butting in here, I think that what Kline and the Reformed scholastics referred to in the CoW was that it served the purposes of the CoG by reminding those in it of the CoW that they had all broken. Thus it was gracious for God to point out to the people their need for Christ by highlighting their sin though the Mosaic Law.

    So it served a gracious function by recalling the works that they were lacking, and thus causing them to turn to the Messiah to provide them. Herman Witsius’ “The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man.” Says it better than any and I really apologize for how long this is, but it is just too rich to trim down any more.

    4.4.47. Now concerning this covenant made upon the Ten Commandments, it is queried, Whether it was a covenant of works or a covenant of grace? We judge proper to premise some things previous to the determination of this question. AND FIRST, WE OBSERVE THAT, IN THE MINISTRY OF MOSES THERE WAS A REPETITION OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE LAW OF THE COVENANT OF WORKS. For both the very precepts are inculcated on which the covenant of works was founded, and which constituted the condition of that covenant; and that sentence is repeated, “which if a man do he shall live in them,” Lev. xviii.5, Ezek. Xx.11,13, … NOW THE APOSTLE DECLARES THAT THIS IS THE CURSE OF THE LAW, AS THE LAW IS OPPOSED TO FAITH, OR THE COVENANT OF GRACE. NAY AS THE REQUIREMENT OF OBEDIENCE WAS RIGID UNDER THE MINISTRY OF MOSES, THE PROMISES OF SPIRITUAL AND SAVING GRACE WERE MORE RARE AND OBSCURE, THE MEASURE OF THE SPIRIT GRANTED TO THE ISRAELITES, SCANTY AND SHORT, Deut.xxix.4, and on the contrary, the denunciations of the curse frequent and express; hence the ministry of Moses is called, “the ministration of death and condemnation, 2 Cor. iii.7,9, doubtless because it mentioned the condemnation of the sinner, and obliged the Israelites to subscribe to it.

    4.4.48. Secondly we more especially remark that, when the law was given from Mt. Sinai or Horeb, THERE WAS A REPETITION OF THE COVENANT OF WORKS. For, those tremendous signs of thunders and lightings, of an earthquake, a thick smoke and black darkness, were adapted to strike Israel with great terror….AND THE APOSTLE IN THIS MATTER, Heb xii.18-22, SETS MOUNT SINAI IN OPPOSITION TO MT. ZION, THE TERRORS OF THE LAW TO THE SWEETNESS OF THE GOSPEL.

    4.4.49. Thirdly, we are not, however, to imagine that the doctrine of the Covenant of Works was repeated in order to set up again that such a covenant with the Israelites, in which they were to seek for righteousness and salvation…Besides if the Israelites were taught to seek salvation by the works of the law, then the law had been contrary to the promise, made to the fathers many ages before. But now says the Apostle, Gal. iii.17 “the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was 430 years after, cannot disannul, that is should make the promise of none effect.” THE ISRAELITES WERE, THEREFORE, THUS PUT IN THE MIND OF THE COVENANT OF WORKS, IN ORDER TO CONVINCE THEM OF THEIR SIN AND MISERY, TO DRIVE THEM OUT OF THEMSELVES, TO SHEW THEM THE NECESSITY OF A SATISFACTION, AND TO COMPEL THEM TO CHRIST. And so their being thus brought to a REMEMBRANCE OF THE COVENANT OF WORKS TENDED TO PROMOTE THE COVENANT OF GRACE.

    4.4.53. Nor was it formally a Covenant of Grace: because that requires not only obedience but also promises and bestows the strength to obey. For, thus the Covenant of Grace is made known, Jer. xxxii.39, “I will give them one heart, and one way that they may fear me forever.” But such a promise appears not in the covenant made at Mt. Sinai. NAY; GOD ON THIS VERY ACCOUNT DISTINGUISHES THE NEW COVENANT OF GRACE FROM THE SINAITIC, Jer. xxx.31-33. And Moses loudly proclaims, Deut. xxix.4, “yet the Lord hath no given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.” Certainly the chosen among Israel had obtained this. YET NOT IN VIRTUE OF THIS COVENANT, WHICH STIPULATED OBEDIENCE BUT GAVE NO POWER FOR IT: BUT IN THE VIRTUE OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE, WHICH ALSO BELONGED TO THEM.

    4.4.54. What was [the Mosaic Covenant] then? It was a national covenant between God and Israel, whereby Israel promised to God a sincere obedience to all His precepts, especially ot the ten words; God, on the other hand, promised to Israel, that such an observance would be acceptable to Him, nor want its reward, both in this life, and in that which is to come, both to soul and body. THIS RECIPROCAL PROMISE SUPPOSED A COVENANT OF GRACE…IT ALSO SUPPOSED THE DOCTRINE OF THE COVENANT OF WORKS, THE TERROR OF WHICH BEING INCREASED BY THOSE TREMENDOUS SIGNS THAT ATTENDED IT, THEY OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN EXCITED TO EMBRACE THAT COVENANT OF GOD. This agreement therefore is a consequent of the Covenant of Grace and of the covenant of works, but was formally neither the one nor the other….IF ANYONE SHOULD ASK ME, OF WHAT KIND, WHETHER OF WORKS OR GRACE? I SHALL ANSWER, IT WAS FORMALLY NEITHER: BUT A COVENANT OF SINCERE PIETY, WHICH SUPPOSES BOTH. (vol. 2, p 182-186)

  15. Joshua said,

    May 5, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Cagle:
    Redoing the garden scene with a successful Adam is all hypothetical, I suppose, so we can’t make too much of things. But here’s how I see it:

    Me:
    The very fact that it is hypothetical should caution us against using unsupportable premises.

    Cagle:
    (1) We don’t fully know what it was like to be innocent Adam. Clearly, he was not above being tempted; but clearly, he did not possess a sin nature. Within those boundaries, I think it’s fair to say that the Genesis narrative presents the serpent’s temptation as something that would not have occurred to Eve or Adam on their own (in contrast to James 1.13-15, “…each man is tempted when he is carried away by his own evil desire…”).

    Me:
    It is unclear to me what you mean by Adam and Eve being tempted “on their own.” Clearly no temptation occurs apart from circumstances. God is Sovereign over circumstances. Clearly no temptation can be indulged without the desire (Jesus was tempted, yet without sin, i.e. a desire to indulge in what the temptation offered). Adam and Eve’s desires were there own and not directly caused by external forces. Remember that the Serpent did not tempt Adam. Adam freely ate upon the example and offer of Eve, who used no guile with him as the Serpent had with her, according to the account. The doubt in Adam as to God’s command did not arise out of temptation, but out of willful rejection.

    Whatever we do not know about Adam’s innocence, we do know that he was created morally mutable. Adam could sin, therefore the seed of sinful desire only required the right circumstances to flourish. God ordains circumstances, therefore Adam was only held in obedience by God’s gracious providence over circumstances ensuring Adam’s obedience.

    Cagle:
    So I would dispute your “eventuality argument” that Adam would have eventually sinned unless God meticulously arranged circumstances. It appears from the Genesis narrative that the serpent’s temptation was exceptional, and that the only circumstance to be arranged was the expulsion of the tempter.

    Me:
    You seem to be assuming that the Serpent’s temptation was faced directly by Adam. Adam was not tempted by the Serpent. But even if Adam was directly tempted by the Serpent, how is that any less a circumstance ordained by God? God could have kept the Serpent from ever having the opportunity to tempt Eve. The simple fact that the Serpent was sentient does not make him any less a circumstantial factor within God’s Sovereign sway.

    Further, I think you make an unwarranted assumption. That the serpent’s temptation was exceptional may be granted. That from this follows that any temptation leading to sin was exceptional is clearly false. You ascribe to Adam’s nature something more than innocence. You are importing an additional ability to resist temptation. Where does the narrative afford such an interpretation? Where does Scripture indicate such an ability?

    Cagle:
    (2) The parallel between Adam and Christ as second Adam adds weight to the idea that Adam’s innocence would protect him from … ermm … “garden variety” temptations. For in the case of Christ, his human nature was temptable (Heb 4.15), and yet there was no sense in which the Father had to arrange circumstances to keep Jesus from sinning, even with regard to the human nature.

    Me:
    I’m sorry but this is very poor reasoning and borderline heresy. Christ as the second Adam pertains to the role of Christ as federal head, and compares nothing at all of the ontological nature of the two figures. To assume that God needed to arrange circumstances such that Christ would not sin requires that the mutable human nature of Christ was somehow separable from his divine nature. Two natures in one person, inseparable. Christ’s divine nature alone prevented him from sinning. The very fact that He endured far more severe temptations than did Adam and Eve is indication of as much. Adam was a type of Christ insofar as Adam stood as the representative one for the many. Nowhere is Paul comparing the nature of Christ to the nature of Adam. In fact, Paul contrasts them! The free gift is not like the transgression, for whereas through the sin of one man (Adam) the many were brought into death, through the redemption of on man (Christ) has not only covered the sin of the federal head, but of every subsequent sin that is committed by the individuals He came to save.

    Innocence does not imply a stronger or more capable will. In fact, the woeful performance of Adam and Eve given all that God gave them stands to show how incapable the human race is to obtain righteousness, even in its innocence. God had not spared any good thing from Adam and Eve, yet they sinned. Where does Scripture anywhere indicate that Adam’s volition was less mutable than any other man’s?

    Cagle:
    In other words, (1) and (2) cast doubt on your claim that

    (me, from before)
    If Adam were capable of obeying without the aid of God, then he would have to be morally immutable, that is, able not able to sin under any circumstances.

    The possibility that we must also consider is that few circumstances could induce Adam to sin. Once these were disposed of, he would be free from temptation; that is, morally immutable with respect to the circumstances he would face in the future.

    Me:
    I have shown that (1) and (2) are poorly inferred. You make an even more bold and impossible assumption here. That it only required one circumstance (Eve’s offer) to tempt Adam into sin, how does it follow that only a “few” circumstances would be required? One could imagine a thousand circumstances more trying than that which Adam faced, and yet you would have it be that the one he did face was a narrow example of only few that would have led him to sin. A simple logical argument from the lesser to the greater disposes of such reasoning. If Adam sinned upon the simple offer of the fruit from Eve, how much more would he have fallen into sin had the circumstances been more trying? The answer is patently clear: If Adam sinned in his leisure and ease, he would have surely done so under any duress. Therefore, only by God’s providential direction could have Adam avoided sin.

    Cagle:
    (3) The strong parallels between Rev. 20-21 and Gen. 1-3 indicate that the New Heavens and Earth are what “should have been” had Adam obeyed. This suggests, but does not prove in isolation, that the result of Adam’s hypothetical obedience would have been eternal life.

    There is no need to attribute to Adam the ability to have merited anything apart from God’s grace.

    The problem is defining what “grace” means. As used in the Murray line of thought, it refers broadly to any gift given by God to his creatures.

    Me:
    It is fallacious to read back the work of Christ into the command given to Adam in the Garden. That Christ has, by His merit, accomplished for us eternal life does not warrant reading this promise back into the Garden. First of all, we have the eternal covenant, which was made with Christ prior to the Creation, wherein God promised to Christ a people who would be His own. But even apart from this decree, a simple exegesis of the command in Genesis from God to Adam cannot support eternal life. Adam had been blessed with life by God’s free grace. God commanded Adam to obey upon penalty of death. The logical counterpart to the command is that Adam would have continued in the blessing he already possessed. Nowhere does the Bible say that the Tree of Life was forbidden to Adam. Nowhere does it say that it stood as a pledge of something greater than what Adam already possessed in being given life in the Garden. Adam’s obedience could not have merited anything, for he already possessed everything by virtue of God’s good pleasure. Had God intended to give Adam eternal life, then God would have assured such a result. Had God offered Adam eternal life, we would have reason to believe it stood behind the command. But the Scriptures nowhere indicate that a promise of eternal life was made to Adam. Christ has the second Adam has purchased for us a far greater gift than what was available to Adam: for the free gift is not life the transgression.

    Cagle:
    Despite what I’ve said above, I would agree with you that Adam’s obedience would have been the result of God’s grace in that sense.

    But as used in the Confession, it appears to be more narrowly focused on God’s favor given not directly through the instrument of obedience, but instead bestowed upon sinners. WCoF 3.5 and 7.3 are good examples of this.

    Me:
    WCoF 3.5 speaks nothing of sinners, but it does speak of creatures predestined to life. Adam was given life by God’s decree and held in it by God’s unmerited favor. God was not obligated to give Adam anything. Adam was obligated to be thankful to God for what he had been given. WCoF 7.3 should also be compared with 7.1, where this very obedience, creature to Creator, is pointed out. What is God’s love to Adam if not grace; a free, unmerited gift.

    Cagle:
    Synergy is a worthwhile concern. Certainly, certain accounts of Gen. 2-3 could run the risk of portraying Adam as autonomous “Righteous Man” who is turned loose by God to face Satan on his own. My account above is not attempting to move in that direction; Adam’s ability to choose sin or not sin is always located within the context of God’s sovereignty. In fact, God decreed the Fall, though He could easily have decreed the Unfall.

    Me:
    But had God decreed the “Unfall” it still would not follow that Adam’s obedience would have been meritorious. His obedience would still be contingent upon God’s decree that he be made immutable, or being created mutable, contingent upon God’s providential arrangement of circumstances to preserve Adam from sin.

    Cagle:
    But within the circle of accounts that recognize God’s sovereignty, we can still discuss whether Adam’s obedience would have been instrumental in bringing about life for his people. That’s what the CoW is about, not about assigning Adam a “meritoriousness” apart from his relationship with God.

    Me:
    There is nothing wrong with calling Adam’s obedience “instrumental,” provided that it is an instrument of God’s grace, the same way as faith is the instrument of justification, and not its ground or efficient cause. My concern is that “life” and “eternal life” exist as two separate things, and only one (life) logically follows from the stated command given to Adam–and that one cannot be merited as a reward owed by God to Adam. Your speculations may be ventured with good intent, but their sloppy reasoning opens the door for greater errors in more vital doctrines. Hence, my concern with synergism.

    Cagle:
    Over against your concern, I would note that:

    (1) The Westminster Divines certainly were on their guard against synergy, and felt it therefore necessary to affirm that Adam’s probation in the garden was of a different quality than ours; they had no scruples about the CoW language.

    Me:
    The Divines were not free from making assumptions beyond the pale of necessary warrant in every case. And they were much more careful in their language than many today.

    Cagle:
    (2) Kline argues that if we abandon the notion of Adam and Jesus earning their peoples’ respective destinies, then we back-handedly place the onus of earning those destinies on the people themselves. In other words, he argued that Murray’s scheme leads to a breakdown in federal headship.

    Now I like Murray, and I think it’s possible that Kline may have gone too far with that one. But I respect his point that we need to recognize the distinction between the federal heads and the federally represented. At the level of human contingencies, we cannot escape sin until the eschaton. Adam was not like us in that way.

    Me:
    Kline and Murray, insofar as you present them here, include in the differences more than is warranted. The difference between Adam and us is one of innocence. Adam was morally mutable: he could obey, but only by God’s provision. God’s provision is grace. God’s grace created Adam, God’s grace gave Adam life and life abundant in the Garden, and God’s grace would be necessary to keep Adam from falling into sin: such is the nature of being morally mutable. As Adam’s heirs, we are morally immutable: we cannot obey. Unlike Adam, we have been born into rebellion without the hope of obedience. Christ is morally immutable: he cannot sin. By being born again in Christ we go from a stated of immutability (cannot obey) to mutability (we can obey or sin) to immutability (we cannot sin). Therefore, the free gift is not like the transgression, because it wipes out all sins committed, and will bring us into a sinless state. Christ alone is reserved this mediating purpose. To give it to Adam (even hypothetically) is to rob God of glory.

    AND

    Rfwhite:
    To Jeff Cagle’s comments in 7, I think we can add G. Vos’s observation that Adam’s successful standing of his probation would enable him to pass from a state of peccable and unconfirmed holiness—posse peccare and posse non peccare—to a state of impeccable and confirmed holiness—non posse peccare. See his Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948), 22-23.

    Me:
    Probation is an assumption. The Tree of Life was never forbidden, nor was it stated to be a pledge. Nowhere is it promised that Adam’s obedience to one temptation would have led to the removal of all temptation. Nowhere is it promised that Adam would be made immutable for one act of obedience. The assumptions are not logically entailed in the command not to eat upon penalty of death.

    Rfwhite:
    One other observation: it seems to me that another text indicating that there was promise as well as threat in Gen 2 is 1 Cor 15:45-49. It seems clear that Paul infers that the blessing of man’s eschatology is typified in Adam. 1 Cor 15 is the complement to Rom 5. Adam as we encounter him at first was not Adam as should encounter him at last. The spiritual is not his first state; the spiritual is after the natural. The probation was designed to enable Adam to move from his first, natural, earthly, protological state to his second and last, spiritual, heavenly, eschatological state.

    Me:
    You infer that 1 Cor. 15 is correlated to Rom. 5. However, Romans 5 is concerned with justification, whereas 1 Cor. 15 refers to the resurrection. Your comparison employs a categorical fallacy. Romans 5 shows that Adam’s federal headship is a type of Christ’s federal headship. 1 Cor. 15 shows that Adam’s creation (born of the flesh and mutable) is a type of Christ’s recreation (born of the spirit and immutable). If anything, 1 Cor. 15 shows that those born of Adam could never attain eternal life because flesh and mutability follow from Adam’s created nature.

  16. GLW Johnson said,

    May 5, 2008 at 9:22 am

    SS
    DW has thrown in his lot with the FV and has refused to distant himself from his fellow FVers like Rick Lusk and Steve Wilkins who are on record explicitly affirming that one’s justification must be maintained (al’a Arminianism) by covenantal obedience or it will be lost-and this ‘loss’ is the loss a real redemptive benefit. Furthermore , following Norman Shepherd, they view election through covenant in which case the ‘elect’ can become reprobate and the reprobate can become ‘elect’.Likewise they view baptism rather than the Holy Spirit’s work in regeneration as the point of transition from lostness in death to salvation in life-but this can be reversed.DW has signed on to all of this.

  17. greenbaggins said,

    May 5, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Josh W, I agree with Dr. White in number 7. There are elements of the CoW and the CoG in the Mosaic economy. The “do this and live” aspect of the CoW is now meant to drive us to the expectation of the prophet greater than Moses.

  18. Sam Steinmann said,

    May 5, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Again, the call is for a quote, not a polemic.

  19. GLW Johnson said,

    May 5, 2008 at 9:48 am

    SS
    I have a better idea- why don’t you ask DW directly if he is on board with his fellow FV on these critical points? I am convinced that he is in lockstep with them.

  20. Sam Steinmann said,

    May 5, 2008 at 9:52 am

    GLWJ,

    One, you are the one making the accusation. And two, I don’t think you can even find a quote from Lusk or Wilkins that meets my criteria.

  21. GLW Johnson said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:04 am

    SS
    You must be new to this site because these very things have been dicussed over and over again- but here is one qoute from Wilkins: ” The elect are those who are faithful in Christ Jesus. If they later reject the Savior, they are no longer elect-theyare cut off from the Elect One and thus ,lose their elect standing. But their falling away doesn’t negate the reality of their standing prior to their apostasy. They were really and truely the elect of God because of their relationship with Christ.” cf. ‘The Federal Vision’ eds. S. Wilkins and D. Garner- (p.58). DW also contributed to this volume

  22. GLW Johnson said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:07 am

    I have no idea where that smiliy face came from- p.58

  23. greenbaggins said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Gary, an 8 with a closing parenthesis followed by a space is interpreted as a smiley face with shades. If you just make sure that the period follows the parenthesis immediately, then the blog will read it properly. For future reference.

  24. Sam Steinmann said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I’m newer than some, but hardly new.

    I’m 95% certain that the Wilkins’ quote is in the context of corporate election. (“Was Ahab elect or not?” is a good question to start with.)

    Basically, I’m tired of having to, while trying to learn and think through doctrine, continually deal with random personal attacks on DW, squabbles over who wronged who how in the 1970’s, repetitions of false and repeatedly-denied claims about what others believe, and so on.

  25. greenbaggins said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Yes. Sam, I can see that would be frustrating. It is equally frustrating to the critics of the FV to be told ad nauseum that their statements about what the FV believes are false, when, in fact, many if not most are not false. Every heretic in the history of the church throws up this very same objection “I’ve been misunderstood.” So, how are the critics supposed to be able to tell the difference between the FV’s cries of being misunderstood versus the constant chorus of heretics’ cries that they have been misunderstood? Do you see the problem?

  26. GLW Johnson said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Lane
    You have simply confirmed what my kids have long known- I am all thumbs on a computer!

  27. Roger Mann said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:30 am

    14: Tom wrote,

    Herman Witsius’ “The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man.” Says it better than any and I really apologize for how long this is, but it is just too rich to trim down any more…

    Tom, that was an excellent quotation, and demonstrates that the “republication” of the CoW doctrine has always been in the mainstream of covenant theology. It certainly wasn’t invented by Kline, as many on this blog would have us believe! Robert Shaw writes essentially the same thing in his exposition of the WCF:

    It may be remarked, that the law of the ten commandments was promulgated to Israel from Sinai in the form of a covenant of works. Not that it was the design of God to renew a covenant of works with Israel, or to put them upon seeking life by their own obedience to the law; but the law was published to them as a covenant of works, to show them that without a perfect righteousness, answering to all the demands of the law, they could not be justified before God; and that, finding themselves wholly destitute of that righteousness, they might be excited to take hold of the covenant of grace, in which a perfect righteousness for their justification is graciously provided. The Sinai transaction was a mixed dispensation. In it the covenant of grace was published, as appears from these words in the preface standing before the commandments: “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage;” and from the promulgation of the ceremonial law at the same time. But the moral law, as a covenant of works, was also displayed, to convince the Israelites of their sinfulness and misery, to teach them the necessity of an atonement, and lead them to embrace by faith the blessed Mediator, the Seed promised to Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed. The law, therefore, was published at Sinai as a covenant of works, in subservience to the covenant of grace. And the law is still published in subservience to the gospel, as “a schoolmaster to bring sinners to Christ, that they may be justified by faith.”—Gal. iii. 24. (Exposition of WCF, 19.2)

  28. Sam Steinmann said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Pastor Lane,

    I definitely see the problem (sometimes there is a real difference, not a misunderstanding). Just to be clear: I find a lot of the criticisms of the FV on this blog persuasive, and I find the exegetical work exceedingly helpful. What I DON’T find helpful, and really wish would stop, is the personal attacks, and the repeated accusations that opponents believe things that the said opponent has denied.

  29. GLW Johnson said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:41 am

    SS
    I havn’t made any personal attacks on DW. I responded to his cahrge against Lane and offered a counter charge. I have found that when some in the FV choir find themselves cornered they resort to a diversionary tactic of accusing thier opponents of being nasty.

  30. Roger Mann said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Doug Wilson wrote,

    When Paul talks about grace and works driving one another out, he is talking about grace on the one hand and autonomous works on the other. In the Pauline vocabulary, grace and works displace one another. But Paul doesn’t think the same way about grace and obedience.

    This type of argument was already answered almost five hundred years ago, but continues to be brought up by those who “delight in sporting with Scripture and in empty cavils.” The Biblical and truly Reformed position on the antithesis between grace and works in justification is explained quite well by John Calvin:

    The Sophists, who delight in sporting with Scripture and in empty cavils, think they have a subtle evasion when they expound works to mean, such as unregenerated men do literally, and by the effect of free will, without the grace of Christ, and deny that these have any reference to spiritual works. Thus according to them, man is justified by faith as well as by works, provided these are not his own works, but gifts of Christ and fruits of regeneration; Paul’s only object in so expressing himself being to convince the Jews, that in trusting to their own strength they foolishly arrogated righteousness to themselves, whereas it is bestowed upon us by the Spirit of Christ alone, and not by studied efforts of our own nature. But they observe not that in the antithesis between Legal and Gospel righteousness, which Paul elsewhere introduces, all kinds of works, with whatever name adorned, are excluded, (Gal. 3: 11, 12.) For he says that the righteousness of the Law consists in obtaining salvation by doing what the Law requires, but that the righteousness of faith consists in believing that Christ died and rose again, (Rom. 10: 5-9.) Moreover, we shall afterwards see, at the proper place, that the blessings of sanctification and justification, which we derive from Christ, are different. Hence it follows, that not even spiritual works are taken into account when the power of justifying is ascribed to faith. And, indeed, the passage above quoted, in which Paul declares that Abraham had no ground of glorying before God, because he was not justified by works, ought not to be confined to a literal and external form of virtue, or to the effort of free will. The meaning is, that though the life of the Patriarch had been spiritual and almost angelic, yet he could not by the merit of works have procured justification before God. — Institutes, Book 3, 11:14

  31. rfwhite said,

    May 5, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Joshua Not Walker, re: 2 and 15, lest I disagree before understanding, please help me by clarifying your position. Would you compare and contrast the life that Adam possessed at creation and the life that Adam would have possessed by keeping the command of God? Thanks.

  32. GLW Johnson said,

    May 5, 2008 at 11:13 am

    SS
    Now if you want to talk about over the top comments see #32

  33. Tom Wenger said,

    May 5, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Sam,

    In reference to #20, a few weeks ago I on this blog I made the claim that the FV believes that one’s justification must be maintained by faithful obedience which prompted Jeff Meyers amd James Jordan to call such a statement “stupid” and “idiotic” not to mention the default accusations of lying about them. They argued that no one in the FV camp claims such a thing. But then I posted the folloing quote from Rich Lusk:

    “[I]nitial reception of the white garment is by faith alone; ONGOING POSSESSION OF THE GARMENT IS MAINTAINED BY FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE …The white robes stand first and foremost for Christ’s free gift to his people. Just as he is clothed in white (cf. Rev. 1, 19), so he clothes his people in white. 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 other 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.” [Lusk, Future Justification to the Doers of the Law]

    Oddly enough I never heard back from Meyers or Jordan, but regrdless, I think that this is an example of the kind of teaching that Gary is talking about.

  34. David Gadbois said,

    May 5, 2008 at 11:35 am

    1. Tom W. was right when he alluded to something I have noticed before – that the FV scheme of a gracious covenant in the Garden entails a form of the old “grace perfecting nature” error.

    2. Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due

    Turretin sees this verse as being an expression of the CoW.

    FVers make much of the fact that Adam’s reward (eternal life) is not proportional to the services rendered (perfect obedience), but that is beside the point. That the CoW does not follow the equity of our free market economy should not surprise us.

    According to 4:4, the wage is still *due* to the one who works, so it cannot be gracious. It is incoherent to say that what is due is a gracious gift. Regardless of the wage’s value (in quantity or quality), it is still a *wage* that is *due* under the covenant stipulations. This fits nicely with the idea of pact merit.

    Again, whereas the works principle is not compatible with grace (11:6), faith (defined as passive/receptive trust in a Substitute) is compatible with grace (4:16).

    3. DW keeps bringing up the idea that Adam would have had to say “thanks” to God for his reward in the CoW.

    But this obscures the issue. We can give thanks to God for many reasons, not only for particularly gracious arrangements. Adam could have thanked God for the act of Creation, but that was an act of natural providence, not grace (again, consider the problem in #1 here). Our thanks to God should be in response to all expressions of his goodness (grace being just one such expression).

    The FV scheme seems to force us to define grace as “any act of God that he doesn’t have to do.” This is far too broad, and does not enjoy scriptural support.

    4. Lane said I would say that if Adam had stood the test, it would have through the instrumentality of faith-animated obedience

    Just to add to that, I’d say that obedience would have been the *ground*, not just instrumental cause of eternal life. That is something that FVers miss – that the condition required in the CoW (works) is the ground of the reward. Whereas the CoG is different – the condition required of us (faith) is only the instrumental cause whereas the ground is the works of Christ (fulfilling the CoW on our behalf).

  35. Sam Steinmann said,

    May 5, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Certain commenters I do not bother to read.

    And I’m out of time for today. Tom, I would say that I think (emphasizing think) that saying that justification, sanctification, and faithful obedience are inseparable is pretty standard Reformed teaching.

  36. Joshua said,

    May 5, 2008 at 11:44 am

    @ rfwhite, #31

    You said:
    Would you compare and contrast the life that Adam possessed at creation and the life that Adam would have possessed by keeping the command of God? Thanks.

    I say:
    The life Adam possessed at creation included: all the attributes given to him when God created him (innocence, moral understanding, reason), all the benefits of the Garden (health, fruitful labor, enjoyment), and all the benefits of fellowship with God. Adam possessed these things because God had graciously given them to Adam, without respect to Adam himself.

    Had Adam obeyed God’s command to not eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree, Adam would have retained all these possessions, which are indeed blessings.

    There is nothing that can be logically advanced beyond this simple acknowledgment. God did not promise Adam more than He had already given. God had given the Tree of Life, which Adam did not eat, but which was not forbidden him to eat of.

    We know nothing of how the Tree of Life may have afforded Adam everlasting life. Would it have required him to eat of it always, or would one bite have granted eternal life? There is no resolution for this question.

    All we can know for certain, that is, by logical implication, is that Adam would have retained what he already possessed had he been kept from sin. The necessary premises to draw alternative conclusions are simply not provided in Scripture, and are therefore entirely without justification.

  37. Tom Wenger said,

    May 5, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Sam,
    Depending on how you define “Inseparable” is crucial here. No one in the confessional camp is denying that all of the elements of the ordo salutis must necessarily be conferred on the believer. So in that sense sure, they are inseparable. But that is far from what Lusk is arguing for. His claim is that a person who is initially justified by faith must “maintain” such a status through their obedience and that is simply heretical.

  38. rfwhite said,

    May 5, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Joshua, still seeking to understand, what contribution, if any, does Gen 1:28 make to your understanding of the future that God promised Adam for his obedience?

  39. Joshua said,

    May 5, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    @ rfwhite #39,

    This blessing occurs before the command. It is not a condition of obedience, but a gracious gift. The condition of obedience came subsequent to the blessing, such that obedience was to be the requirement for retaining what God had given.

    I’ve already said that the ability for Adam to retain these blessings would require God’s grace. The promise of eternal life is not contained in Gen. 1:28.

  40. rfwhite said,

    May 5, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Joshua, please tell us how you know that the benediction was given before the command. Why isn’t it the case that, inasmuch as the blessing of 1.28 presupposes the creation of man male and female in 1.27, the events of Gen 2.7-25 actually must precede 1:28 in time?

  41. Tom Wenger said,

    May 5, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Rey,

    In ref to comment #32, what do you intend to accomplish by your posts on this blog? It doesn’t appear that you’re trying to recruit people to your sect because you won’t even tell us where you worship. And it can’t be for a love of good interaction because thanks to the extreme nature of your views, your ad hominem style, and your solipsistic hermeutic no one takes you seriously.

    So what is it? Do you just hate us? Can you not bear to let confessional reformed theology go unchecked (or rather un-mocked)? I’m curious.

  42. rfwhite said,

    May 5, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    And you are responsible for it too.

  43. David Gadbois said,

    May 5, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    I am glad that the village Pelagian is siding with the FVers.

  44. Joshua said,

    May 5, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    For the record, I’m not an “FVer” in case anyone is supposing it by my own arguments.

    @rfwhite #44 said:
    Joshua, please tell us how you know that the benediction was given before the command. Why isn’t it the case that, inasmuch as the blessing of 1.28 presupposes the creation of man male and female in 1.27, the events of Gen 2.7-25 actually must precede 1:28 in time?

    I say:
    That is a splendid question, but I’m not sure that it matters whether the command came first, or the pronouncement of blessing. The fact remains that the objects of blessing were bestowed prior to the fulfillment or breach of the command, whether or not the benediction, as you call it, came before or after the command.

    God prepared the Garden and gave it to Adam prior to Adam’s temptation to rebel and his subsequent Fall into sin. If the blessing was to be given on the condition of Adam’s obedience (rather than God’s grace), then how is it that Adam receives the blessing prior to his obedience?

    The assumption that the blessing is part of a “probation” period does not appear to be implied anywhere in Scripture.

    At any rate I find this discussion to be distracting from where our true focus should be.

    God gave freely of Himself and of His works to Adam. God commanded to Adam what was necessary to continue in the blessings of His grace. Adam failed to obey. God’s grace has not failed, but has been manifested in a way far beyond the scope of the transgression (Rom. 5).

  45. Joshua said,

    May 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    rfwhite,

    I’m afraid I must abandon our discussion for the sake of increasing my (severely lacking) productivity in responsibilities here.

    God’s grace be unto you,

    ~joshua

  46. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    May 5, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    This is why I was interested in that quote from Owen, which now appears problematic–it appears in one edition of his treatise on justification, but not in others…Lane, could you check the Banner of Truth edition? The quote was found at the end of ch. 13 of that treatise, but now I’m seeing editions which leave out a series of answers to objections…

  47. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 5, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Hi Joshua,

    I agree with Dr. White in #31: I don’t have a clear enough idea yet of your position for full engagement. Hopefully we can get there.

    In general, my post #6 was a call to caution, pointing out additional options that need to be eliminated before we can make a positive declaration about “what would have happened had Adam obeyed.” I think you read it instead as making a positive declaration about what would have happened had Adam obeyed, which wasn’t my intent.

    It is unclear to me what you mean by Adam and Eve being tempted “on their own.” Clearly no temptation occurs apart from circumstances. God is Sovereign over circumstances. Clearly no temptation can be indulged without the desire (Jesus was tempted, yet without sin, i.e. a desire to indulge in what the temptation offered). Adam and Eve’s desires were there own and not directly caused by external forces…

    I mean this: we are born as slaves to sin; Adam was not created thus. Therefore, we need to be cautious, I think, about taking Adam’s moral mutability and reading into that an inevitability towards sinning.

    WRT Adam being directly tempted by Satan or by his wife, I understand the phrase “and gave it to her husband who was with her” to indicate that Adam was present on the scene.

    In general, what I’m arguing is that there are so many details that we don’t know about the Genesis narrative that I’m not ready to sign on to one particular view as the definitive statement about what would have happened had Adam obeyed.

    JRC:

    (2) The parallel between Adam and Christ as second Adam adds weight to the idea that Adam’s innocence would protect him from … ermm … “garden variety” temptations. For in the case of Christ, his human nature was temptable (Heb 4.15), and yet there was no sense in which the Father had to arrange circumstances to keep Jesus from sinning, even with regard to the human nature.
    (emph. added)

    Joshua:

    I’m sorry but this is very poor reasoning and borderline heresy. Christ as the second Adam pertains to the role of Christ as federal head, and compares nothing at all of the ontological nature of the two figures. To assume that God needed to arrange circumstances such that Christ would not sin requires that the mutable human nature of Christ was somehow separable from his divine nature. Two natures in one person, inseparable.

    I think you misread my intent. I am affirming, along with you, that God did NOT need to arrange circumstances to keep Christ from sinning. Sorry that wasn’t more clear.

    What I don’t understand about your position is this: We agree that Adam was morally mutable. It appears that you infer from this fact that Adam’s psychology of temptation was like ours, so that Adam would have inevitably sinned just as we would inevitably sinned. But that seems to overlook the whole problem of being dead in sin (Eph 2), or slaves to sin (Rom 6), which is a clear and decisive difference between Adam’s psychology and ours.

    So could you elaborate on the *differences* you see between Adam and us, so that it’s more clear the difference between your understanding of “moral mutability” (which is where Adam was) and “not possible not to sin” (which is where we are)?

    Finally, there is a difference in terminology between us, so that some of your arguments I would agree with using different words:

    There is nothing wrong with calling Adam’s obedience “instrumental,” provided that it is an instrument of God’s grace, the same way as faith is the instrument of justification, and not its ground or efficient cause. My concern is that “life” and “eternal life” exist as two separate things, and only one (life) logically follows from the stated command given to Adam–and that one cannot be merited as a reward owed by God to Adam.

    * I would call Adam’s obedience as “instrumental” as an instrument of God’s decrees, but I would agree that it is not an efficient cause.

    * I would call Adam’s disobedience the ground for our state, and Adam’s hypothetical obedience would have been the ground for his life, insofar as the covenant was also a conditional promise.

    * BUT, I would not use the term “merited as a reward” — except if all parties clearly understood that “merited” is a synonym for “instrumentally acquired”, as per Calvin.

    * As to the concern for “life” v. “eternal life”, you have put forward a default position that the promise was “life” but not “eternal life” unless proven otherwise. That appears to me to be an improper shift of burden of proof; both “life” and “eternal life” are live possibilities, and both should have equal burden, IMO.

    But that last point can certainly be debated.

    Jeff Cagle

  48. rfwhite said,

    May 5, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Joshua, thanks for the exchange. On the assumption that you may at some point resume it or that others may continue it, I was preparing to add the observation that the exchange was not a distraction from the point raised (by Joshua) in Comment 2 pertaining to the life that Adam originally given and contigently preserved by his obedience, i.e., the life that Adam possessed before and after the command in 2.16-17 came to him. If I have understood Joshua’s position correctly, the first state of Adam is also his last. There is no probation.

  49. Joshua said,

    May 5, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    @ Jeff Cagle and rfwhite,

    I apologize for misreading you Jeff. I also appreciate your and Dr. White’s perseverance in responding to my questions and concerns.

    Briefly,

    I do not believe a probationary period is warranted from Scripture.

    As to the difference between Adam’s moral mutability and our own immutable propensity to sin, my contention is that Adam’s mutability requires that no circumstances occur such that the temptation for Adam to sin would be greater than he could bear without sinning. It is not known to us in detail what circumstances would have been necessary for Adam to have persevered in obedience. What we do know is that the circumstances he did face were greater than his ability to resist the temptation. In a very real sense then, Adam’s obedience depended upon God’s arranging circumstances such that Adam would not be tempted beyond what he could bear without sinning.

    Although Adam was not sinful by nature, he was susceptible to sin, otherwise he would not have sinned.

    As for where the burden of proof lays regarding “life” v. “eternal life,” I’m not sure how they could bear the burden equally. The prima facie evidence of Genesis 1-3 lends the weight toward “life” rather than “eternal life.” It thus remains for those who see “eternal life” as the proper meaning to prove their case over the prima facie case that follows from a plain reading of Genesis 1-3.

    As a peripheral note:
    IMHO, merit is a confusing and unfavorable term in the contemporary discussion. It is too easily assumed to be based in individual autonomy.

  50. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 5, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    IMHO, merit is a confusing and unfavorable term in the contemporary discussion. It is too easily assumed to be based in individual autonomy.

    AAAmen!

  51. Tom Wenger said,

    May 5, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Re: #54

    But why? The problem is not with the term “merit” nor is it with the way that the Reformed have handled it over the years. The only reason is a problem is because of the purposeful muddying of the waters by those who have ulterior motives – i.e. to cast doubt on the entire reformed doctrine of justification.

    I am not accusing you of this, Jeff, but rather am trying to point the criticism in the right direction: at the synergists not at the Reformed.

    Where in the history of Reformed theology did the confessional churches ever begin teaching that Adam actually had God in his debt through a concept of strict, autonomous merit? Our history and our standards are quite clear and could not be misread in this direction even slightly.

    There have continually from the beginning been careful descriptions and definitions that explained exactly what was meant, and along the way it was always those with Roman or Arminian leanings that called it into question.

    Calvin exposed this illegitimate argument when his opponents tried to use it way back then, and exhibited the clear demarcations on ho the word should, and should not be used:

    “A question must here be considered by way of supplement. Some men too much given to subtlety, while they admit that we obtain salvation through Christ, will not hear of the name of merit, by which they imagine that the grace of God is obscured; and therefore insist that Christ was only the instrument or minister, not the author or leader, or prince of life, as he is designated by Peter (Acts 3:15).

    I admit that were Christ opposed simply, and by himself, to the justice of God, there could be no room for merit, because there cannot be found in man a worth which could make God a debtor…. Therefore when we treat of the merit of Christ, we do not place the beginning in him, but we ascend to the ordination of God as the primary cause, because of his mere good pleasure he appointed a Mediator to purchase salvation for us…

    That Christ, by his obedience, truly purchased and merited grace for us with the Father, is accurately inferred from several passages of Scripture. I take it for granted, that if Christ satisfied for our sins, if he paid the penalty due by us, if he appeased God by his obedience; in fine, if he suffered the just for the unjust, salvation was obtained for us by his righteousness; which is just equivalent to meriting. Now, Paul’s testimony is, that we were reconciled, and received reconciliation through his death (Rom. 5:11). But there is no room for reconciliation unless where offence has preceded. The meaning, therefore, is, that God, to whom we were hateful through sin, was appeased by the death of his Son, and made propitious to us. And the antithesis which immediately follows is carefully to be observed, “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,” (Rom. 5:19). For the meaning is—As by the sin of Adam we were alienated from God and doomed to destruction, so by the obedience of Christ we are restored to his favour as if we were righteous.” [Institutes, 2.17.1,3]

  52. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 5, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    That’s a great question, Tom, and I’ve been trying to put thoughts together on this for a while. Here’s a sketch.

    (1) I don’t actually have a problem with the term “merit” as such, as long as we understand it in the historic Reformed sense. So in other words, I agree with you — as long as we are successful at teaching the right sense of the word: Christ “merits” our salvation in the sense that He acquires them for us as federal head.

    (2) But, teaching the right meaning is hard *because*

    (3) (Bear in mind that these are not the thoughts of a professional historian) Beginning some time in the Middle Ages, the meaning of the word “righteousness” shifted.

    Biblically speaking, being “righteous” is always a relational term. To live righteously means to love God with HSM&S and neighbor as self. When we say “God is good”, we are not affirming that He meets an outside standard of righteousness, but rather than we as image bearers affirm the fact that God’s character and covenantal faithfulness are reflected in our own consciences as “good.”

    But somewhen, the term “righteousness” began to mean “good as measured by an abstract standard.” Above, I pegged the development to the Middle Ages; what I had in mind was the development of the theology of infused merit. At the beginning, infused merit simply meant that God placed his love into our hearts — cf. Augustine for this. But somewhere along the line, it came to mean that God gave people “righteousness” as an ontological quality.

    So by the high MA, righteousness is thought of as something that God measures in us, rather than a description of our relationship to God. Through the indulgence system, righteousness becomes quantified, and merit is a synonym for “the righteousness of Christ given to us.” I don’t think Anselm intended this; but when he posits Christ’s death as an action that brings “supreme honor to God” and is therefore righteous enough to cover our sin, his language is moving in the direction of an abstractly measured, non-covenantal righteousness.

    The Reformation, in theory, sweeps much of this away. I’ve already noted in two different threads how Calvin reclaims the term “merit” to mean simply “acquiring for his people.” And, apropos enough, he refutes the notion that merit in this sense is opposed to grace (although the issues were different in that discussion).

    But now, in the Enlightenment, the term “righteousness” takes a sinister turn towards the autonomous. The high water-mark of this development is Kant’s development of Ethics which seeks the Good in terms of pure rationality (that which is Good is the Categorical Imperative, what could be generalized as a universal law and which cannot be denied without surrendering rationality).

    The current trend in ethics … well, in bio-ethics at least … is utilitarianism: maximizing pleasure or satisfied preferences for the most people.

    But either way, the notion of Good in peoples’ minds has been largely divorced from covenantal relationship and Loving God, Loving Neighbor (except in terms of trite sloganeering about the Golden Rule).

    As a result, when we say “Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law on our behalf” — which we must say! — a large number of people misread it like this:

    “There is a moral law out there that God is the primary enforcer of. If we fail to meet it, then He will throw us into Hell. And we all fail to meet it because we’re human, but because God is God, he cannot accept our failure. Hence, we’re at an impasse. Jesus solves my dilemma by paying my debt on the cross, thus earning my way into heaven, which I could never do myself. I receive the benefits of Jesus’ works by believing in Jesus as my Savior.”

    There’s enough that’s true even in this admittedly cartoonish sketch that the folk in the pew can believe it for years and never notice any problems in their theology.

    But you’ve probably already spotted the largest one: In this version of the Gospel, God is the dispassionate measurer of our moral performance.

    As a result, God is petty (why *can’t* He overlook sin? What’s wrong with Him anyways?) and ourselves as sympathetic perpetrators of peccadillos.

    What is missing in this version is the understanding of righteousness as relational obligations — our sin is not merely a personal moral failing, but an insult to our Creator. My failure to worship God is not merely a failure to say the right shibboleths so as to get into the Heaven club; it is a rejection of the relational obligations I have to my Father.

    You know all this and teach it, so I’m preaching to the choir, so to speak. But my high school students in my ethics class don’t get it for a long, long time.

    And neither do many who hear our salvation described primarily in terms of economic transactions and Jesus’ meriting of our salvation. I think NT Wright is wrong to believe that “imputation” necessarily relies on abstract standards of righteousness (he’s misreading Calvin and Augustine, IMO), but he’s correct to see that tendency in 21st century Protestants.

    So: yes, let’s teach the concept of the CoW as found in the Confession. And let’s teach the concept of pactum merit — that Adam acquired our sin nature by means of breaking covenant with God, and that Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law on our behalf.

    But at the same time, let’s find language that describes these concepts in relational terms. Over in the other thread, Steven Wedgeworth expressed that

    Our disputes today, however, are way out in left field (as far as the Christian Church is concerned), wrangling over just how Jesus Christ was the perfectly moral and meritorious human. He was the perfect human of course, but the bigger point is that He is God’s love in action, saving us and bringing us into Himself. And there’s no concept of “strict justice” that can explain why He’d do a thing like that.

    With a robust understanding of righteousness, there is no space between “perfectly moral and meritorious human” and “God’s love in action.” I think (*think*) that Steven is appealing for a view like that — but he goes about it by wanting to ban CoW talk.

    I’m saying, let’s keep the CoW, abandon “merit” talk, and speak less theoretically and more relationally about “righteousness.”

    Does that make sense?

    Jeff C

  53. Ron Henzel said,

    May 6, 2008 at 4:14 am

    Jeff,

    You wrote:

    Biblically speaking, being “righteous” is always a relational term.

    How can you support that from Scripture? What about those scriptures that talk about doing righteousness? (Gen. 18:19, etc.)

    To live righteously means to love God with HSM&S and neighbor as self.

    But how do you know when you’re loving God and your neighbor? Is this something purely internal, or something external that can be observed? How?

    You wrote:

    But somewhen, the term “righteousness” began to mean “good as measured by an abstract standard.”

    What do you mean by “abstract?” “Disassociated from any specific instance?” “Difficult to understand?” “Insufficiently factual?” “Expressing a quality apart from an object (i.e., ‘abstract’ as opposed to ‘concrete’)?” “Theoretical?” “Impersonal or detached?” Those are all the meanings of “abstract” as an adjective I could find in Merriam-Webster’s.

    When in the entire history of theology has righteousness ever been viewed as any of these things? I can’t think of a single instance, except perhaps in some form of Gnosticism. All one need do is read Aquinas to see how closely the High Middle Ages tied the concept of righteousness (although Thomas preferred the word “virtue”) to actual concrete actions and habits.

  54. Ron Henzel said,

    May 6, 2008 at 4:15 am

    It seems that putting a quotation mark next to a close parenthesis results in a smiley-wink icon. I’ll have to remember that.

  55. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 6, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Ron,

    I’m confident that I wasn’t nearly as clear as necessary, so thanks for the feedback and questions.

    The point of righteousness being relational is unrelated to questions of internal v. external and measurement.

    If you are interested in those questions, then the Scripture seems to indicate that loving God and neighbor is both a matter of the heart (cf. Jesus’ critique of the externalist Pharisees) and also of action (cf. James’ discussion of “go and be fed” in Jas. 2, and “if you love me, you will obey my commands”). Love is therefore partially measurable.

    But my point is different: what it *means* to be righteous is defined by relationship: love for God, love for neighbor. And this love is then the underpinning of the entire moral law in Scripture. (cf. WCoF 19.2, WLC 1, 98, 102 and 122).

    What I meant by “abstract” is “impersonal or detached”: that in the psyche of our culture, we have abstracted obedience to God’s commands from a close sense that we obey His commands out of love.

    In some cases (ethical theories such as Kantian deontology or utilitarianism), that abstraction is explicit and purposeful.

    In other cases, it is implicit. This is one of the major criticisms, for example, that the prophets had towards Israel. See Mal. 2.13ff for example – they followed the letter of the divorce laws without understanding the underlying covenantal obligation of marriage.

    My point was that our society has moved towards an abstract understanding of righteousness so that when we teach from the pulpit, we have to reform their knowledge of the basic meaning of terms.

    Therefore, as a pragmatic move, I was suggesting that “merit” is a term that is less essential, and could therefore be omitted.

    Better?
    Jeff Cagle

  56. Ron Henzel said,

    May 6, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Jeff,

    The “therefore” at the beginning of your last sentence does not follow logically from the previous sentence. First you seek to establish the premise that “we have to reform their knowledge of the basic meaning of terms,” and from that premise you deduce that eliminate a fundamental term (which, by the way, given its long history in Christian theology, you have not proven to be “less essential”)? Does it not rather follow that we should reform people’s knowledge of what “merit” means instead of jettisoning the word itself?

  57. Ron Henzel said,

    May 6, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Erratum: I should have written, “you deduce that we should eliminate a fundamental term,” in the middle of my comment above.

  58. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 6, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Well, it’s not intended as a logical deduction; it’s intended to be an approach to teaching federal theology in the hopes of avoiding a large amount of confusion.

    If you like the term, keep it! Teach it, help people understand what “merit” means (and does not mean).

    For myself, I find that I can express federal theology adequately without it.

    Jeff

  59. Tom Wenger said,

    May 6, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Jeff, In ref. to # 56

    I can’t fully agree with your historical assessment of the development of righteousness and merit because I think that there are some significant nuances missed between the Realists and the Nominalists over the issue of meritum de congruo vs. meritum de condigno, as well as the issue of how righteousness for many in the Middle Ages centered on notion of the habitus gratiae.

    In general though, I agree that in the Middle Ages there was indeed a notion of righteousness as an abstract principle that carried over from many of the early fathers. But the rise of the Franciscan pactum among the Nominalists moved things away from this and toward the habitus gratiae.

    But much of this is beside the point. The issue is not between abstract and relational terminology but rather centers on a false dilemma between the legal and the relational terminology. Obviously no one can be deemed righteous who does not love God and equally obvious is the fact that God Himself is the standard of all righteousness. When you say, “But at the same time, let’s find language that describes these concepts in relational terms”, where is there room for the fact that the relational ONLY exists because of the legal? What I mean is, there is no relationship with God outside of a covenant. And the terms of God’s covenants establish the nature and possibility of relationships with Him.

    So how “relational” is the command “Do this and live”? Well if the terms are met it secures a wonderful relationship and those terms happen to be loving God perfectly. If someone does not fulfill this command to love God, then they do not meet the terms and thus God is not obligated to give them what He said He would had they succeeded. Thus according to the terms He established, a person can merit an eternal relationship with Him by loving Him perfectly, or die.

    There is nothing oddly abstract about this nor does the merit concept detract from anything relational in the least. Steven Wedgeworth’s comments that you quoted are a prime example of the false dilemma’s that I’m referring to and they also betray a theological aversion to the traditional reformed emphasis on the imputation of Christ’s active obedience.

    I find it very unlikely that there are many, if any at all, who struggle to get around the medieval baggage of the word “merit” when presented with the traditional Reformed formulae. And I seriously doubt that people cannot understand what the Reformed position is without having to deprogram them. Recalling again Calvin’s post above there is nothing difficult to grasp about his formulations and they certainly don’t sacrifice anything relational. And neither have any of the confessional formulae.

    So again, there is nothing dangerous about the traditional language; the danger comes from those who exploit it to serve their revisionist ends.
    And PLEASE know, Jeff, that I am not lumping you in with that camp. I am only trying to point the criticism toward who I believe are the rightful culprits.

  60. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 7, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the comments. I don’t feel at all “lumped in.” The historical development of the term “righteousness” deserves some further study – I am not surprised to learn that nominalism plays a role here.

    I fully agree that the dilemma is a false one. So for example, you asked, So how “relational” is the command “Do this and live”? Well if the terms are met it secures a wonderful relationship and those terms happen to be loving God perfectly. And I agree whole-heartedly.

    In fact, I would go on to say that if, hypothetically, Adam had obeyed the letter of the command but had done so with a secret resentment towards God, then he would have been just as guilty as he was in breaking the command in action.

    So I think we’re on the same page wrt the complete union between legal and relational righteousness.

    But now, I’m not so sure that the false dilemma exists only for those who wish to exploit nuances for their own ends (and I am not at all ready to lump Xon or Steven in there, either). My reference frame is folk in our church and students in my school; both sets of people have a tendency at times to think of righteousness in terms of obedience to a list of commands. In fact, I suspect that this is a part of the sin nature common to all of us, for I find myself going there when I am on the defensive about my own sin.

    Finally, on the term “merit”, my language in posts #54 and #56 is probably overstated.

    I’m not so allergic to “merit” that I wouldn’t teach, say, WCoF 17.2.

    But when I explain the Great Exchange of 2 Cor 5.21 or the imputation of Christ’s righteousness implied in Rom. 4.18-25, I take great pains to frame righteousness in terms of love for God and neighbor and the replacement of wrath with reconcilliation. Framed in this way, the concepts of “merit” and “strict justice” rarely come up.

    Jeff Cagle

    P.S. Presbytery is on a Tuesday, so I won’t be seeing you there. What with teaching and all, I can only do Saturday meetings.

  61. May 7, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Adam was in an unfallen state. Where would the impetus have come from, then, for Adam to obey God? It would have come immediately from Adam, even though such ability to choose the good had been given him by God.

    Lane,

    I remember John Frame lamenting over how many men seeking ordination believe that Adam had libertarian freedom prior to the fall and yet lost it upon his sin. It would seem that you believe this very thing by your indexing Adam’s prelapsarian obedience to his own immediate impetus. In what way do you suppose that Adam’s will was purely contingent prior to his sin as opposed to after his sin?

    Thanks,

    Ron

  62. Tom Wenger said,

    May 7, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Ron,

    I don’t think that Lane is arguing anything different from Calvin on this issue:

    “Therefore God provided man’s soul with a mind, by which to distinguish
    good from evil, right from wrong; and, with the light of reason as guide, to
    distinguish what should be followed from what should be avoided… To
    this he joined the will, under whose control is choice. Man in his first
    condition excelled in these pre-eminent endowments, so that his reason,
    understanding, prudence, and judgment not only sufficed for the direction
    of his earthly life, but by them men mounted up even to God and eternal
    bliss. Then was choice added, to direct the appetites and control all the
    organic motions, and thus make the will completely amenable to the
    guidance of the reason.

    In this integrity man by free will had the power, if he so willed, to attain
    eternal life. Here it would be out of place to raise the question of God’s
    secret predestination because our present subject is not what can happen
    or not, but what man’s nature was like. Therefore Adam could have stood
    if he wished, seeing that he fell solely by his own will. But it was because
    his will was capable of being bent to one side or the other, and was not
    given the constancy to persevere, that he fell so easily. Yet his choice of
    good and evil was free, and not that alone, but the highest rectitude was in
    his mind and will, and all the organic parts were rightly composed to
    obedience, until in destroying himself he corrupted his own blessings.” [Institutes, 1.15.8.]

    It wouldn’t be the first time Frame disagreed with Calvin, but this is no different from what Lane argued (in my opinion).

  63. May 8, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Tom,

    This is not so much directed at you but to many.

    I have found on this site that many hide behind dead men rather than argue their positions. Rather than say Lane is in agreement with Calvin, maybe someone might tell me how Adam had libertarian freedom prior to the fall. Lane makes this same sort of assertion on Doug Wilson’s site. In passing I might ask, does anyone really believe that Calvin thought that Adam had LFW? In any respect, rather than exegete Calvin, why not put forth a metaphysic on the will that transcends sin and conversion and applies to moral persons (created or not) whether they are upright or fallen?

    I have found that there is a partisan spirit among many who post here, which prevents them in my estimation from thinking for themselves. I’ve seen this on Doug Wilson’s site as well. Truth be told, I point to Frame’s lament because he put his finger on an obvious problem in the Reformed church – even among men seeking licensure – which was precisely his obersvation. I did not appeal to Frame to prove I was right; rather I was reminded of Frame’s lament because of the obvious lack of appreciation the church as for the freedom and bondage of the will, which is why the church’s polemic against Molinism is pitiful. Lane’s remarks remind me of a time when I was having desert w/ one highly esteemed seminary professor in Escondido and when discussing the fall of Adam, he in no uncertain terms spoke of Adam’s libertarian freedom, but in different terms, suggesting Adam lost it after the fall. One professor at Westminster in Phladelphia suggested that because regeneration precedes faith, LFW is necessarily wrong. Now tell me, what do you suppose William Lane Craig would handle such assertions? It’s time that people who wish to defend Calvinism acquaint themselves with Edwards’ classic. If Adam had LFW prior to sinning, then we have it now and Open Theism is true.

    Warmly in Christ,

    Ron

  64. May 8, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Tom,

    This is not so much directed at you but to many.

    I have found on this site that many hide behind dead men rather than argue their positions. Rather than say Lane is in agreement with Calvin, maybe someone might tell me how Adam had libertarian freedom prior to the fall. Lane makes this same sort of assertion on Doug Wilson’s site. In passing I might ask, does anyone really believe that Calvin thought that Adam had LFW? In any respect, rather than exegete Calvin, why not put forth a metaphysic on the will that transcends sin and conversion and applies to moral persons (created or not) whether they are upright or fallen?

    I have found that there is a partisan spirit among many who post here, which prevents them in my estimation from thinking for themselves. I’ve seen this on Doug Wilson’s site as well. Truth be told, I point to Frame’s lament because he put his finger on an obvious problem in the Reformed church – even among men seeking licensure – which was precisely his obersvation. I did not appeal to Frame to prove I was right; rather I was reminded of Frame’s lament because of the obvious lack of appreciation the church as for the freedom and bondage of the will, which is why the church’s polemic against Molinism is pitiful. Lane’s remarks remind me of a time when I was having desert w/ one highly esteemed seminary professor in Escondido and when discussing the fall of Adam, he in no uncertain terms spoke of Adam’s libertarian freedom, but in different terms, suggesting Adam lost it after the fall. One professor at Westminster in Phladelphia suggested that because regeneration precedes faith, LFW is necessarily wrong. Now tell me, how do you suppose William Lane Craig would handle such assertions? It’s time that people who wish to defend Calvinism acquaint themselves with Edwards’ classic. If Adam had LFW prior to sinning, then we have it now and Open Theism is true.

    Warmly in Christ,

    Ron

  65. greenbaggins said,

    May 8, 2008 at 9:34 am

    To answer a few folks. Firstly, Sam in 28. I do not advocate personal attacks, ever, as I hope you know. It is exceedingly difficult for me to moderate all the comments. There are far more comments than I can even read, and keep up with! I try to make sure that the tone stays reasonably calm. But calmness is a rarity when these issues come up, precisely because some people will feel attacked, even if it is only their theology that is being attacked. It should be pointed out that FV’ers attack the critics all the time, calling them all sorts of hideous names. In fact, I would say that happens far more often than critics calling FV’ers names, and/or other personal attacks.

    Secondly, on the issue of Adam’s will. Augustine said that Adam was posse peccare et non peccare. Adam was able not to sin. Does everyone here believe that? I get the impression that some people are saying that because of God’s decree, Adam was really not able to obey God. Even Mark Horne has pointed out that Adam was actually created righteous. I personally do not see a whole lot of difference between innocent and righteous, except that innocence implies the untriedness of Adam’s righteousness, whereas righteousness might seem to imply an already tried righteousness. I’m fine with saying that Adam had an untried righteousness that was mutable. I really think that saying that Adam was not able to obey because of the decree does not do justice to the “very good” at the end of Genesis 1. How could Adam have been created “very good” if he didn’t have a chance of obeying God? But even this is NOT the same as libertarian free will. I advocate that Adam could do whatever it was in his nature to do. Adam’s nature was innocent. Therefore Adam could have obeyed God. Adam’s created nature was posse peccare et non peccare. Libertarian arguments about the power of contrary choice do not argue this way. They argue that no matter what the nature of the person, a person can choose to do A or its opposite, not A. In so doing, they blaspheme, since they imply that God can sin. God cannot sin, because it is not in His nature to sin. However, it was Adam’s created nature to be able to sin or not to sin. This is the standard Reformed position.

  66. greenbaggins said,

    May 8, 2008 at 9:36 am

    P.S., we must carefully distinguish the nature of man in his pre-fall state versus his post-fall state. In his post-fall state, man is no longer posse non peccare. He can only choose among various sinful options. But all of this is operating on the level of human causation. On the level of the decree, everything has already been fixed as to what is going to happen.

  67. May 8, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Lane,

    Did the metaphysics surronding LFW change with the fall? Have you defined for yourself, liberty, ability, pure contingency and necessity as it applies to the mechanics of choosing and moral accountability? When you speak in terms of Adam’s “ability” not to sin, it is clear to me that you are referring to a supposed metaphysical freedom to choose contrary to how one will, as oppposed to the mere moral ability to act in accordance with one’s nature. I believe this discussion is much more technical than you are willing to allow.

    Blessings,

    Ron

  68. greenbaggins said,

    May 8, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Ron, I’m not sure that it needs to be that technical. I do not call my position libertarian for the reasons I have given. The mechanics of how man chooses something are the same before and after: he can always choose what his nature determines that he can choose. However, his *nature* is different after the Fall. Of course, whatever his strongest desire is at the moment is what he will choose. And man cannot thwart God. So, no, I am NOT saying that Adam was free to choose contrary to how one will. What I am saying is that Adam could have willed to do the right thing.

    I define libertarian freedom as the ability to choose A or its opposite not A. But the Augustinian model does not follow this definition, since it is not a bare choice of opposites that Adam faced, but rather the various options that his nature would allow him to choose. Are you denying that Adam could have chosen to obey?

  69. MarkC said,

    May 8, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Are you denying that Adam could have chosen to obey?

    Are you suggesting that Adam had an equal ability to obey and not obey given that set of circumstances? Or worded differently he could have willed A or not A with equal ease?

    What I am saying is that Adam could have willed to do the right thing.

    If that is the case one wonders how you can say that one chooses according to their nature. Choices based on preference require a disposition toward the choice made. The absence of disposition or preference if you will is indifference making the word choice meaningless as any choice is accidental having occurred for no reason. On the other hand if you do affirm that one chooses according to who they are (doing what they want) then the possibility of Adam doing other than he did do in that set of circumstances is incoherent. For Adam to have wanted something different in that same set of circumstances Adam would have to have been someone else disposed to something else.

    It must also be asked how God knew what Adam would do given that Adam could choose between options with equal ease.

    Mark

  70. greenbaggins said,

    May 8, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Your position, Mark, implies that Adam was not created good, but rather with a predisposition towards evil. You are denying the original righteousness of Adam. I am saying that Adam’s nature was such that he could have chosen the good. He was righteous.

  71. May 8, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    The mechanics of how man chooses something are the same before and after: he can always choose what his nature determines that he can choose.

    Dear Lane,

    The nature determines no action of choice. The nature simply determines the moral quality of the choice that will necessarily occur according to the inclination at the moment of choice. So then, an unregenerate man will sin; his nature determines that he must. His nature, however, does not determine what sin he will choose.

    Of course, whatever his strongest desire is at the moment is what he will choose. And man cannot thwart God. So, no, I am NOT saying that Adam was free to choose contrary to how one will.

    You say that you are not saying Adam was free to choose contrary to how he would. For time sake, I will assume (but please correct me if I’m wrong) that you also mean that Adam was not free to choose contrary to how he would (I transferred the “not” in your statement). I feel safe in reading you that way simply because you noted that Adam’s choice was in accordance to his strongest inclination (i.e. necessary) and had to be in accordance to God’s decree. Accordingly, you would like to deny that Adam had the power of contrary choice.

    What I am saying is that Adam could have willed to do the right thing.

    You say that Adam could have willed the right thing. What I take you to mean is that Adam could have self-generated a different strongest inclination. So when I put this all together, it would seem that you are saying that although it was necessary that Adam choose according to his strongest inclination, he could have been the immediate cause of a different inclination than the one that necessitated his actual action. After all, you noted on a previous post “Where would the impetus have come from, then, for Adam to obey God? It would have come immediately from Adam, even though such ability to choose the good had been given him by God.” Lane, that is nothing other than libertarian freedom. What you are saying is that Adam was metaphysically free to choose contrary to how he did (i.e., “he could have willed to do the right thing” rather than the wrong thing), but that he would choose just as God had planned. William Lane Craig in his most sanguine moments would rejoice over such sentiments. Molinists draw this very distinction all the time. They say that Adam would choose what God knew Adam would choose, but that Adam could have chosen differently. This is where they come up with “would” and “might” counterfactuals of creaturely freedom.

    “it is not a bare choice of opposites that Adam faced, but rather the various options that his nature would allow him to choose.

    This statement is rather confused to me. You seem to be confounding the general nature of the agent, which only dictates the kind of choices that can and will be made, with the actual choice of the agent, which is strictly dictated by the specific intention, which of course is always consistent with the general nature. Again, the nature determines no action – yet the inclination and resultant choice will always be consistent with the nature.

    Are you denying that Adam could have chosen to obey?

    Adam could have obeyed had he been so inclined. In fact had he been so inclined, he could have done no other. But you are suggesting much more than that. What you are suggesting is that Adam could have chosen to obey – yet you already noted that Adam would not choose contrary to God’s decree, and that it was necessary that he choose according to his strongest inclination at the moment of choice. Consequently, you are allowing for a necessity of choice given an inclination, but not a necessity of inclination. Accordingly, the inclination must begin a new nexus, or else be in accordance to an infinite regress of moral choices and inclinations. If such could occur within Adam, then why not within post-fallen man? Sin does not affect your metaphysic, does it?

    At the end of the day my brother, you seem to allow Adam to operate under pure contingency in the realm of the human-instantiation of his inclination. Moreover, you (unwittingly I believe) affirm the very same construct of Molinism with respect to Adam’s prelapsarian make-up, in that you posit that he could have chosen contrary to how he did, while affirming that he wouldn’t choose contrary to how he did. I can prove thusly that Adam could not have chosen not to sin:

    Establish the necessity of God’s belief about Adam’s choice:

    1. Before Adam sinned, God believed Adam would sin

    2. If x is believed in the past, it is necessary in the future that x was believed then

    3. When Adam sinned, it was necessary that God believed he would

    Establish the necessity of Adam’s choice, given the necessity of God’s belief:

    4. Necessarily, if before Adam sinned God
    believed Adam would sin, then Adam would sin

    5. If p {p = God’s historical belief about Adam’s choice} was necessary when Adam sinned (3), and necessarily if p, then q; then q {q = Adam’s choice to sin was then necessary}: (consequent from 4 and transfer of necessity principle]

    6. Therefore, it was necessary that Adam would sin when God believed he would [3, 4 and 5]

    Establish that Adam does not act freely, given the necessity of Adam’s choice:

    7. If before Adam acted it was then necessary that Adam would sin in the future, then Adam could not have done otherwise

    8. Therefore, Adam could not have done otherwise than sin in the future

    9. If one cannot do otherwise, then one does not act freely

    10. Therefore, when Adam sinned, he did not do it freely (which is to say he could not have chosen to do right)

    Lane, I’m about done I think. I’ve seen this sort of thing way too many times before and I find it somewhat unprofitable, if not downright discouraging. It’s like debating the atheist in some respects. The only one’s who benefit are those with ears to hear. So, if I’ve said anything of use, then those with ears to hear have latched onto what I’ve offered. Feel free to chew on the meat and spit out the bones. I must say though that I am deeply saddened that Christians are so often quick to engage in weighty discussions but without any intention of defining terms and being rigorous in critical thought. Again, I find the climate very partisan on greenbaggins.

    In His service,

    Ron

  72. MarkC said,

    May 8, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Your position, Mark, implies that Adam was not created good, but rather with a predisposition towards evil. You are denying the original righteousness of Adam. I am saying that Adam’s nature was such that he could have chosen the good. He was righteous.

    Adam was created in innocence and His righteousness was relational not ontological. He was righteous only insofar as he was obedient. Your position grants Adam the same ontological status as Christ. Hardly safe ground for one to stand on Lane.

    Adam obviously had a disposition to sin for when the temptation presented itself that is exactly what he did. And we know that each person sins when carried away by their own lust. When Adam sinned did he do what he wanted? From whence did that desire proceed Lane, from his inherent righteousness? I’m sorry brother but you’ve got some serious re-thinking to do here.

    Does no one read Edwards anymore?

  73. May 8, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    “From whence did that desire proceed Lane, from his inherent righteousness?”

    Mark, I have great confidence that you will resonate with this. I already feel your vibrations!

    If Adam’s first sin was the action of taking and eating the forbidden fruit, then the act of sin would have come from a nature and inclination not to sin, which in turn would have made the act an unintended act, which of course is not consistent with an act being morally relevant. Accordingly, the first sin was the nature upon becoming fallen. Adam, in other words, had concupiscence prior to acting sinfully. To deny that Adam’s first sinful expression of the will came from a nature that had already fallen is to affirm that a sinful action came from a non-sinful nature, a monstrosity indeed.

    God is not a legalist, a reductio:

    If Adam intended to act sinfully and was tackled prior to acting upon his intention, wouldn’t he have sinned just the same? Moreover, had Eve abstained from eating the forbidden fruit solely because she was concerned for her figure, would she not have sinned just the same in the eyes of God? Certainly God is not a legalist who overlooks the intentions of the heart!

    Mystery, mystery when there is no mystery:

    The reason people call the first sin a mystery is because they begin their reasoning with the false premise that the action of taking and eating the forbidden fruit was the first sin. If we get back to first principles and focus on what precedes any action, whether sinful or not, we can begin to recognize that the first sin was the desire to be like God and not the action that proceeded from that desire. The question that we should be concerned with is not how did an unrighteous act spring from an upright being (which is a question that proceeds from a false premise), but rather how did an upright being acquire an intention to act sinfully? The answer is no different than the answer to the question of how does any intention and subsequent action come into existence. Doesn’t God providentially orchestrate circumstances that come before the souls of men thereby moving them by secondary causes to act in accordance with new inclinations that are brought into existence according to God’s providence that He decrees? By God’s pre-interpretation of the otherwise brute particulars of providence, the intentions of men and their subsequent actions fall out as God so determines.

    For Calvinists to argue that an act of sin proceeded from an upright nature is to assert a contradiction – and no amount of mystery can save a contradiction! The only thing I find mysterious is that so many Calvinists find the entrance of sin into humanity so mysterious. Note well that I am not pretending to know how God pre-interprets particulars or how the mind of man relates to the movement of the body. That’s not in view at all. My simple point is that Calvinists do not generally find it mysterious that actions necessarily follow from intentions and that God’s orchestrating of circumstances are an ordained means by which intentions come into being. Why, therefore, should we not apply the same theological reasoning to the first sin as we do to God’s sovereignty over the intentions of fallen men?

    Ron

  74. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 8, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    So Ron and MarkC, what do you make of the Confession:

    1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil.

    2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God; but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.

    3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.

    It’s hard for me to see here that Adam had a “disposition to sin”, or a righteousness that was not ontological. Note especially that Adam had the power to do what is pleasing to God — which is clearly with reference to obedience to the precept.

  75. MarkC said,

    May 8, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    It’s hard for me to see here that Adam had a “disposition to sin”

    What have you ever read on the matter? Have you spent anytime at all in study?

    Chapter IX. Of Free Will

    Section I.—God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to good or evil.

    The decision of most of the points in controversy between Calvinists and Arminians, as President Edwards has observed, depends on the determination of the question – Wherein consist that freedom of will which is requisite to moral agency? According to Arminians three things belong to the freedom of the will:

    1. That the will has a self-determining power, or a certain sovereignty over itself, and its own acts, whereby it determines its own volitions.

    2. A state of indifference, or that equilibrium, whereby the will is without all antecedent bias, and left entirely free from any prepossessing inclination to one side or the other.

    3. That the volitions, or acts of the will, are contingent, not only as opposed to all constraint, but to all necessity, or any fixed and certain connection with some previous ground or reason of their existence.

    Calvinists, on the other hand, contend that a power in the will to determine its own determinations, is either unmeaning, or supposes, contrary to the first principles of philosophy, something to arise without a cause; that the idea of the soul exerting an act of choice or preference, while, at the same time, the will is in a perfect equilibrium, or state of indifference, is full of absurdity and self-contradiction; and that, as nothing can ever come to pass without a cause, the acts of the will are never contingent, or without necessity – understanding by necessity, a necessity of consequence, or an infallible connection with something foregoing.

    According to Calvinists, the liberty of a moral agent consists in the power of acting according to a choice; and those actions are free which are performed without any external compulsion or restraint, in consequence of the determinations of his own mind. “The necessity of man’s willing and acting in conformity to his apprehensions and disposition, is, in their opinion, fully consistent with all the liberty which can belong to a rational nature.

    1. The infinite Being necessarily wills and acts according to the absolute perfection of his nature, yet with the highest liberty.
    2. Angels necessarily will and act according to the perfection of their natures, yet with full liberty; for this sort of necessity is so far from interfering with liberty of will, that the perfection of the will’s liberty lies in such a necessity.
    3. The very essence of its liberty lies in acting consciously, choosing or refusing without any external compulsion or constraint, but according to inward principles of rational apprehension and natural disposition.”
    From Robert Shaws Exposition of the WCF.

    This is an internet blog site. As politely as I can say it you need to get a copy of Edwards On The Freedom of the Will and educate yourself.

  76. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 8, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    This is an internet blog site. As politely as I can say it you need to get a copy of Edwards On The Freedom of the Will and educate yourself.

    I have to say, I’ve twice stifled the urge to respond sarcastically here. Please do not tempt my sin nature in this regard.

    I’m glad you’ve read Edwards, since it was his model of the will that I particularly had in mind: our will is the faculty that chooses according to our nature.

    Using the Edwards model, we then would conclude

    (1) if Adam was able to will that which is pleasing to God (obedience) — from the Confession, and
    (2) if his will was able to choose only according to his natural desires (Edwards), then
    (3) Adam had a natural desire to obey God, so that
    (4) He had a love for God by nature.

    And therefore, his righteousness was at least in part ontological.

    On what grounds would you dispute this?

    Thanks,
    Jeff Cagle

  77. May 8, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Jeff,

    First let me say that if a contradiction is shown to exist and if the Confession affirms the contradiction, then the Confession is equally wrong as the original contradiction. Accordingly, we need not jump to other documents to discuss the matter. We should be performing internal critiques of the opposing views as posited, rather than brining into the discussion appeals to other documents (and persons for that matter). So, I trust you want ask me to be entertain a series of “what about this” type inquiries. What I would have liked to have seen was someone articulate a philosophy of choice that does justice to liberty, ability, pure contingency, necessity and culpability, rather than simply bringing in more exhibits of A, B, C, and D, while painting with such broad strokes.

    Having said all that, YES Adam prior to falling had the “power” to perform spiritual good. Just as Tom’s quote from Calvin notes, Adam had the power to choose good over evil, but as Calvin also noted in that same excerpt, this power could be exercised “if he so willed.” So now we have power and what Calvin called “the will” to contend with. The “power” is akin to the nature and liberty – liberty being the ability to act as one wants – the nature in that case being un-fallen, yet mutable. Accordingly, Adam could have stood and not fallen – “if he [so] wished” – which is to say – had he been so inclined. Yet as Calvin also noted, Adam “was not given the constancy to persevere.” So you see, Adam needed more than an upright spiritual posture and the ability to choose as he wanted; he needed to be “given a constancy to persevere” in the face of temptation – which is to say an inclination that would direct and propel that power to the spiritual good when confronted.

    Finally, Adam had the moral nature that would be consistent with choosing good over evil, but when he fell he could only act according to his fallen nature until such time he was restored in his nature; at which time he had the moral nature that would be consistent with his choosing spiritual good once again. And although Adam’s nature changed, he never lost the ability to choose contrary to how he would, for he never had such radical freedom to begin with. Neither did he lose his liberty (i.e., his ability to choose what he wanted). What he lost was his moral ability, which is to say the ability to choose any good over evil. Yet, there are some who would assert that Adam lost something more – his alleged ability to act contrary to how he would. That is a philosophical surd; for if Adam had such radical freedom, then why not us? Moreover, if Adam could have chosen contrary to how he would, then he would have needed to have another inclination of the heart, but where would that inclination have come from within Adam? Would he have needed to choose it according to a more primitive inclination, ad infinitum? If Adam was metaphysically free to choose contrary to how did would, then it would have been philosophically false that he would have chosen to sin simply because purely contingent choices defy truth values prior to their occurrence. Accordingly, the choice would not have been knowable to God, since God cannot know as true that which is not true. Open Theists are very correct about this, and have dealt a lethal blow to Molinists who would like to embrace God’s exhaustive omniscience while affirming such radical freedom of the will.

    Unworthy but His,

    Ron

  78. May 8, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    For clarity sake I’ve reposted my last post with some modifications:

    Jeff,

    First let me say that if a contradiction is shown to exist and if the Confession affirms the contradiction, then the Confession is equally wrong as the original contradiction. Accordingly, we need not jump to other documents to discuss the matter. We should be performing internal critiques of the opposing views as posited, rather than brining into the discussion appeals to other documents (and persons for that matter). So, I trust you won’t ask me to entertain a series of “what about this” type inquiries. What I would have liked to have seen was someone articulate a “philosophy of choice” that does justice to liberty, ability, pure contingency, necessity and culpability, rather than simply bringing in more exhibits of A, B, C, and D, while painting with such broad strokes.

    Having said all that, YES Adam prior to falling had the “power” to perform spiritual good. Just as Tom’s quote from Calvin notes, Adam had the power to choose good over evil, but as Calvin also noted in that same excerpt, this power could be exercised “if he so willed.” So now we have “power” and what Calvin called “the will” to contend with. The “power” is akin to the nature and liberty – liberty being the ability to act as one wants – the nature in that case being un-fallen, yet mutable. Accordingly, Adam could have stood and not fallen – “if he [so] wished” – which is to say – had he been so inclined. Yet as Calvin also noted, Adam “was not given the constancy to persevere.” So you see, Adam needed more than an upright spiritual posture and the ability to choose as he wanted; he needed to be “given a constancy to persevere” in the face of temptation – which is to say an inclination that would direct and propel that power to the spiritual good when confronted.

    Finally, Adam had the moral nature that would be consistent with choosing good over evil, but when he fell he could only act according to his fallen nature until such time he was restored in his nature; at which time he had the moral nature that would be consistent with his choosing spiritual good once again. And although Adam’s nature changed, he never lost the ability to choose contrary to how he would, for he never had such radical freedom to begin with. Neither did he lose his liberty (i.e., his ability to choose what he wanted). What he lost was his moral ability, which is to say the ability to choose any good over evil. Yet, there are some who would assert that Adam lost something more – his alleged ability to act contrary to how he would. That is a philosophical surd; for if Adam had such radical freedom, then why not us? Moreover, if Adam could have chosen contrary to how he would, then he would have needed to have another inclination of the heart, but where would that inclination have come from within Adam? Would he have needed to choose it according to a more primitive inclination, ad infinitum? If Adam was metaphysically free to choose contrary to how he would, then it would have been philosophically false that he would have chosen to sin simply because purely contingent choices defy truth values prior to their occurrence! Accordingly, the choice would not have been knowable to God since God cannot know as true that which is not true. Open Theists are very correct about this, and have dealt a lethal blow to Molinists who would like to embrace God’s exhaustive omniscience while affirming such radical freedom of the will.

    Unworthy but His,

    Ron

  79. MarkC said,

    May 8, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    On what grounds would you dispute this?

    Who is righteous by nature does not and cannot sin. Answer the question put to Lane. Does disobedience proceed from an inherent (ontological) righteousness? Can such a righteous one want to sin? Could Christ have sinned?

    QED

  80. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 8, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    MarkC — before returning to your questions, I need to point out that Edwards is a strange witness for you to call. For in contrast to your account of God’s will, Edwards says,

    The Arminians ridicule the distinction between the secret and revealed will of God, or, more properly expressed, the distinction between the decree and law of God; because we say he may decree one thing, and command another. And so, they argue, we hold a contrariety in God, as if one will of His contradicted another. However, if they will call this a contradiction of wills, we know that there is such a thing; so that it is the greatest absurdity to dispute about it.

    and again,

    The commands and prohibitions of God are only significations of our duty and of his nature. It is acknowledged that sin is, in itself considered, infinitely contrary to God’s nature; but it does not follow, but that it may be the pleasure of God to permit it, for the sake of the good that he will bring put of it. God can bring such good out of that, which in itself is contrary to his nature, and which, in itself considered, he abhors, as may be very agreeable to his nature, and when sin is spoken of as contrary to the will of God, it is contrary to his will, considered only as in itself. As man commits it, it is contrary to God’s will; for men act in committing it with a view to that which is evil. But as God permits it, it is not contrary to God’s will; for God in permitting it has respect to the great good that he will make it an occasion of. If God respected sin as man respects it in committing it, it would be exceedingly contrary to his will; but considered as God decrees to permit it, it is not contrary to God’s will.

    (Edwards, Concerning the Divine Decrees)

    Edwards is, apparently, fully on board with calling both the “decretal will” and the “preceptive will” a reflection of the desires of God.

    JRC

  81. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 8, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Does disobedience proceed from an inherent (ontological) righteousness? Can such a righteous one want to sin?

    The question assumes that Adam had a pure psychology. Clearly, his nature included righteousness; else he would not have walked with God at all. We walk with God only because of the work of the Spirit in our lives, creating Christ’s righteousness in us — there is no indication that Adam had or needed this work. Hence, we suppose (along with the Confession!) that being righteous was a feature of his nature. Or in a word, his righteousness was ontological.

    But clearly, his nature included the ability to listen to and respond to temptations; else, he would not have fallen.

    So Adam, unlike Christ, was not pure in his psychology. He was righteous and “very good”, yet he also at one point wanted to sin. The Scripture is clear here on both points.

    Jeff Cagle

  82. greenbaggins said,

    May 8, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Mark, you are assuming that a person could only want one thing: obedience or disobedience. But if the nature of Adam as originally created included the possibility of both, then your argument falls flat.

  83. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 8, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Ron (#82):

    I think we have some differences in method, which might explain also our differences in opinion.

    To me, the Confession is the collective wisdom of the church concerning the proper interpretation of the Scriptures. The Confession can be wrong; but opinions contrary to it are automatically seriously suspect.

    (WRT our other thread: opinions contrary to the Scriptures are automatically out-of-court; the only hope for such is to demonstrate exegetically that the Scriptural objection is in fact a mis-reading)

    So an appeal to the Confession is akin to a counter-example. You’re absolutely right that it is not an internal critique, but it is a valid critique. If you are Presbyterian, I would challenge you on this point: are you claiming an exception to WCoF 9.1-3? And if you are not Presbyterian, I would offer a lesser challenge: are you willing to consider the wisdom of many councilors?

    About internal critiques: I teach math. When a student brings a flawed proof to me, I can proceed either by finding the internal logical error, or else by pointing out that the proposed proof contradicts a known fact. Both approaches have value, and both are considered dispositive in the math world. Obviously, the second approach lends itself to broader brush strokes.

    But also, it may be at times that an argument is valid but wrong because its starting axioms are incorrect. The first approach cannot detect these kinds of errors; the second can.

    So while I desire to walk down the path with you and try to understand your reasoning and be edified thereby, it may be that I will also have to correlate your reasoning with known facts to see whether it fits.

    (but I do promise to not simply throw random “what about this?” questions at you.)

    So you see, Adam needed more than an upright spiritual posture and the ability to choose as he wanted; he needed to be “given a constancy to persevere” in the face of temptation – which is to say an inclination that would direct and propel that power to the spiritual good when confronted.

    Agreed.

    What he lost was his moral ability, which is to say the ability to choose any good over evil.

    And again agreed.

    My original objection to MarkC’s #76 — and it may have proceeded from a faulty understanding of his intent? — was that he appeared to be assigning to Adam a “disposition to sin” that “carried him away” in the same sense that we are carried away. That is, I read him as saying that Adam was not able to not sin, and that he had a sin nature like ours.

    If he’s not saying that, if “disposition to sin” means something weaker than “inevitable tendency to sin”, then my objection goes away.

    That’s all.

    Jeff Cagle

  84. MarkC said,

    May 8, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Jeff,

    I don’t see Edwards saying what you imagine him to say and there is not going to a resolution here between us.

    We walk with God only because of the work of the Spirit in our lives, creating Christ’s righteousness in us — there is no indication that Adam had or needed this work.

    What Adam needed was God to sustain him in the type of circumstances that elicited obedience. Instead he was subjected to circumstances that exposed his disposition to sin.

    Thanks for the conversation.

  85. May 8, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    But also, it may be at times that an argument is valid but wrong because its starting axioms are incorrect. The first approach cannot detect these kinds of errors; the second can.

    Jeff,

    I put forth a ten-step proof that concluded that Adam could not have chosen contrary to how he chose. Rather than anyone deal with the premises of the proof, all I got back was “have you thought about this.” If the form was valid, then all someone needed to do was zero in on the premises I pumped into the equation. Then I did an internal critique of the opposing position, yet nobody dealt with the implied form of argumentation or with the truth of the premises. Again, all I got back was “have you thought of this.” A cursory reading of the thread demonstrates this to be true. So please don’t mind that I find your quote that I pasted above a bit disingenuous, or at least not pertinent to what I have offered in the way of argumentation and refutation.

    Best of providence,

    Ron

  86. MarkC said,

    May 8, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Mark, you are assuming that a person could only want one thing: obedience or disobedience. But if the nature of Adam as originally created included the possibility of both, then your argument falls flat.

    Two things Lane. You do not know what I am assuming and your assertion is only that, an assertion and not an argument. I assume that if you were capable of an argument you would make it.

    Second, Adam was able to not sin, provided God sustained Adam in the type of circumstances that elicited obedience. And by the way Lane, that would have been grace.

    Thanks

  87. MarkC said,

    May 8, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    If he’s not saying that, if “disposition to sin” means something weaker than “inevitable tendency to sin”, then my objection goes away.

    The difference is one of guilt and innocence. Adam could have not sinned if Adam had wanted to not sin, that is had his disposition been toward obedience. The temptation (circumstances divinely arranged as are all circumstances) revealed the actual disposition. In order for Adam to have done something else, (want something else) Adam would have had to have been someone else.

    Now really I’m finished.

  88. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 8, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Ron,

    Sorry to frustrate you.

    Jeff

  89. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 8, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Ron,

    I would dispute point #9:

    If one cannot do otherwise, then one does not act freely

    as being either (a) tautologously empty, or (b) untrue, depending on one’s definition of “freedom.”

    If “freedom” means “that one could have acted otherwise”, then no action is ever free. God’s foreknowledge alone, not to mention His decrees, prevent someone from acting contrary to His knowledge of the future. Speaking of “freedom” in this sense is like speaking of the probability of some event in the past occurring — “don’t bother, the probability is 100%.”

    As you have rightly pointed out, if this is what “freedom” means, then our only options are Open Theism (or Socinianism) or else a complete denial of “freedom.”

    But historically, and I suspect as Lane has used the term, “freedom” has meant something else: that the agent with freedom is acting without compulsion.

    And so as applied to Adam, we can see in the garden narrative that Adam is neither compelled by the serpent nor Eve nor God; but rather, chose by his own will, when presented with the temptation. So if we use “freedom” in this sense, then #9 is simply false.

    And to make the account as clear as possible, we also note that

    (a) Adam’s will was what God made it to be, which included the ability to respond to temptation, but
    (b) Unlike fallen man, Adam’s will was not inherently rebellious, looking for temptation to fall into. Instead, he was able to respond to external temptation.

    This is why Edwards, BTW, is so careful to say that God’s decrees include the “permitting” of sin, a phrase that is very common in his writings. Edward’s vision is that God creates agents who act for themselves according to their natures, according to God’s decrees.

    That is to say, Edwards saw the decrees of God being commonly carried out by secondary causes.

    God inclines to excellency, which is harmony, but yet he may incline to suffer that which is unharmonious in itself, for the promotion of universal harmony, or for the promoting of the harmony that there is in the universality, and making it shine the brighter. And thus it must needs be, and no hypothesis whatsoever will relieve a man, but that he must own these two wills of God. For all must own, that God sometimes wills not to hinder the breach of his own commands, because he does not in fact hinder it. He wills to permit sin, it is evident, because he does permit it.

    (Edwards, Concerning the Divine Decrees)

    This is also why the Confession speaks of God’s “passing by” of the elect unto damnation:

    The rest of mankind God was pleased … to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.

    God accomplishes His decree of damnation by turning over the non-elect to their own natures.

    So all of this is to say that the historical sense in which Lane is using the word “freedom” is untouched by your argument, which has force only for the first meaning.

    Is that more along the lines of what you were after?

    Jeff Cagle

  90. May 8, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I’m more disappointed than frustrated.

    Blessings Jeff,

    Ron

  91. Tom Wenger said,

    May 8, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    To Ron an Mark,

    We do read Edwards and see him as incorrect on this issue. He definitely departs from Reformed orthodoxy on several issues, this being one of them. His Occasionalism caused Charles Hodge to accuse him rightly of pantheism.

    Your position cannot avoid making God the author of evil, while the Reformed position has biblically avoided that issue by actually affirming the reality of God’s ill being brought about by secondary and tertiary means (something Edwards failed to do properly).

    And quoting Calvin is hardly hiding behind dead people. If you call yourself “Reformed” and yet have no notion of indwelling the tradition, then on what do you base your claim to the term?

  92. May 8, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    We do read Edwards and see him as incorrect on this issue.
    Tom,
    Tell me the truth my brother. Have you really read Edwards’ Freedom of the Will from cover to cover? Can you put forth his thesis with clarity? Does his thesis aptly apply to fallen and converted men and just not to prelapsarian Adam, or does it not apply to men in any state? Do you disagree with everything he said about the workings of the will, or just some of it? Can you explain what you affirm and what you reject, since you “found him incorrect on this issue”? Was he successful in dispelling the Arminian notion of the will? Are you willing to engage on the necessity of choice verses pure contingency as the subject pertains to moral accountability, because this must be what you found incorrect in your reading of Edwards? Are you familiar with the infinite regress dilemma of intention and choice? Are these matters relevant to the current discussion? Do you wish to address my criticism of the implicit use of might-counterfactuals, which is at the very heart of the non-Edwardsian view of the will that has been put forth on this site?
    He definitely departs from Reformed orthodoxy on several issues, this being one of them.
    I’m not here to defend Edwards, but I do find this rather amusing.
    Your position cannot avoid making God the author of evil, while the Reformed position has biblically avoided that issue by actually affirming the reality of God’s will being brought about by secondary and tertiary means (something Edwards failed to do properly).
    You might be showing here that you are not as unacquainted with Edwards as you would have us believe. Do you wish to explain how the rejection of metaphysical contingency in the garden makes God the author of evil, when it does not do so after the fall? Or do you think it does after the fall as well?
    And quoting Calvin is hardly hiding behind dead people.
    Calvin’s quote supported the idea that Adam fell because God did not sustain him. His point supported the view I’ve put forth. With respect to hiding behind a dead man, the point being made was not that the dead man was wrong, but rather there was no argument put forth. Instead, a dead man was quoted (in a way that did not even advance the position of the one employing the quote).
    If you call yourself “Reformed” and yet have no notion of indwelling the tradition, then on what do you base your claim to the term?
    Tom, as you will have to concede, you have put forth no argument but you have been long on rhetoric. I put forth a ten point proof that concludes with Adam’s choice being something he could not have avoided. It’s there in black and white for you to interact with, if you should so choose. If my position is as unorthodox as you suggest, you should have little problem dealing with my supposed heresies in a systematic fashion. My position is clearly stated, so if you would like to challenge the form of the argument or the truth of the premises, rather than making un-argued attacks at the man, by all means please do so. Otherwise, I would kindly ask you to refrain from such posts that do not advance a position, yet possibly speak volumes on other matters.

    Ron

  93. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 8, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Tom,

    Your comment about occasionalism inspired me to re-read FoW.

    Two questions for you:

    (1) Do you have the Hodge reference?
    (2) In your view, does Edwards deny secondary causes altogther? That is, is he explicitly occasionalist, or merely occasionally so?

    Ron,

    I’ve responded in brief to your ten-point argument, but the spam filter seems to have held it up.

    In short, #9 turns on one’s definition of “freedom.” I don’t think Lane has been using that term as you have defined it.

    Hopefully, the spam filter will relent and you can see the response in full.

    Jeff Cagle

  94. May 8, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Freely, as opposed to by necessity. It’s the only use of “free” we’ve been using. :)

    Jeff, if you’d like to call me, I’ll explain to you how confessional I am with respect to Chapter nine of the Standards.

    Ron

  95. May 8, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Jeff,

    Lane grants Adam the ability to choose contrary to how he did, yet I would suspect that he would not grant that ability to men after the fall. If he would grant that ability to men after the fall, then he would be a consistent proponent of LFW as opposed to one who just affirmed the notion for Adam prior to the fall.

    Ron

  96. Tom Wenger said,

    May 8, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Ron,

    I’ll have to decline your invitation for now because it isn’t accurate.

    First of all, I was addressing yours and Mark’s complaint about no one dealing with Edwards and obviously was not concerned with your 10 point manifesto. And I most certainly DID advance a position. I claimed that Edwards’ Occasionalism “caused Charles Hodge to accuse him rightly of pantheism”: a claim that you did not deal with. I’m not sure why you think that a cover to cover reading of Edwards’ Freedom of the Will is your trump card here because that couldn’t relate less to my statement about his Occasionalism.

    There weren’t even any questions that you had posed to me that accept for your accusation of hiding behind dead men and that I dealt with. Incidentally, I dealt with it my asking you question about being Reformed which you quoted but failed to answer.

    So how about leaving the moderating up to Lane?

  97. May 9, 2008 at 12:01 am

    John,

    You said I was unorthodox. My position is primarily put forth in a proof. Accordingly, any defense of your assertion would seem to hinge upon a refutation of my proof.

    Cheers,

    Ron

  98. rjs1 said,

    May 9, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Sum of Saving Knowledge, Head 1, Section 2:

    This God, in six days, made all things of nothing, very good in their own kind: in special, he made all the angels holy; and he made our first parents, Adam and Eve, the root of mankind, both upright and able to keep the law written in their heart. Which law they were naturally bound to obey under pain of death; but God was not bound to reward their service, till he entered into a covenant or contract with them, and their posterity in them, to give them eternal life, upon condition of perfect personal obedience; withal threatening death in case they should fail. This is the covenant of works.

  99. Mark C. said,

    May 9, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Accord

    It seems evident Ron, that Tom is laboring under the assumption that making a claim or asking a question is advancing an argument.

    Argument #1
    I claimed that Edwards’ Occasionalism “caused Charles Hodge to accuse him rightly of pantheism
    Argument #2
    I dealt with it my [by?] asking you question about being Reformed

    Well that settles it then.

  100. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 9, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Ron,

    Jeff, if you’d like to call me, I’ll explain to you how confessional I am with respect to Chapter nine of the Standards.

    I’ll take your word for it. Sorry if the question came across as a back-handed accusation.

    I was trying to understand what you meant by “…if a contradiction is shown to exist and if the Confession affirms the contradiction, then the Confession is equally wrong as the original contradiction.”

    Clearly, you meant it strictly hypothetically. I got confused because, from here, it looks like Lane was articulating boilerplate WCoF 9, but you were claiming contradiction in his statements — so I couldn’t figure out if you also saw the same contradiction in WCoF 9. Hence the question.

    I want to point out something about Edward’s Freedom of the Will. JE separates “choice of necessity” very clearly from “liberty.” He affirms in several places that we choose out of necessity, walking down the same argument that you do. But he also takes pains to deny that this interferes with the liberty of the agent.

    AFAICT, Lane has simply asserted that Adam had liberty as an agent:

    LK:
    I would say that if Adam had stood the test, it would have through the instrumentality of faith-animated obedience (understanding faith here to be different than what we have, in that Adam could see God), the ability of which was condescendingly given by God. The obedience itself, in other words, was not given by God. The ability to obey was, since it was part of Adam being created morally innocent.

    There’s no statement here about “Adam could have chosen differently”. He’s simply asserting Adam’s agency — which is the same thing Edwards does.

    So I don’t agree that we’ve been talking about the same kind of freedom here. Lane has been using “freedom” consistently with WCoF 9.2 (“I advocate that Adam could do whatever it was in his nature to do.”). Your argument takes on a different kind of liberty.

    Jeff Cagle

  101. May 9, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Jeff,

    Liberty is the freedom to do as we want, whereas libertarian freedom is the ability to choose contrary to how we would. Whenever a choice is made, the former (liberty) is exercised; the latter is never exercised. Lane was stating that Adam could have chosen differently than he did though wouldn’t. Accordingly, he wasn’t merely saying Adam had liberty. {Yet Calvin noted that Adam could have chosen differently had he wished, a different proposition indeed. Calvin was saying Adam had liberty. Let’s not get wrapped around exegeting Calvin though.} Lane supported my interpretation of his meaning by saying that Adam himself would was the impetus for his choice, which is nothing less than agent-causation. It was also evident (to me anyway) that folks on this site feel that Adam lost this ability after the fall, yet Adam never lost the liberty to choose according to his desire, nor did he lose the ability to choose contrary to how he would because he never had such ability to begin with – for as I’ve noted, such an ability would destroy moral accountability, not save it. What Adam lost was moral ability, the ability to choose any spiritual good. Notwithstanding, he still had liberty, the ability to choose as he wanted.

    Here is a pretty easy to digest link to a post on liberty and how it pertains to the will:
    http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/07/liberty-seat-of-moral-accountability_04.html

    Ron

  102. May 9, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Jeff,

    Let me put forth the troublesome quotes of Lane’s.

    “Where would the impetus have come from, then, for Adam to obey God? It would have come immediately from Adam, even though such ability to choose the good had been given him by God” (emphasis mine) (Note: an impetus coming immediately from Adam is the essence of agent causation; would Lane say that the impetus for my choices today come immediately from me?)

    “What I am saying is that Adam could have willed to do the right thing.” (This clearly defines LFW, not liberty which all men have when they choose.)

    “Are you denying that Adam could have chosen to obey?”” (Again, this points to LFW. Lane is sayin unequivocally that Adam “could have chosen” contrary to God’s decree, which is to say contrary to how God knew Adam would choose; this opens up the notion of might-counterfactuals and all the problems that goes along with it, which I discuss in two places (linked below), the second of which in a more detailed fashion and the first as it pertains to the orthodox creeds.

    Ron

    http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2007/12/molinism-dualism-nicene-creed.html

    http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2007/12/molinists-and-calvinists-agree-in.html

  103. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 9, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Ron,

    Lane was stating that Adam could have chosen differently than he did though wouldn’t.

    Maybe Lane can confirm this, but I think you “splinched” what actually happened with the hypothetical that Lane was discussing with Doug. As far as I can tell, Lane never affirms that Adam fell even though he could have thwarted God’s decrees and not fallen.

    Lane again:

    I would say that if Adam had stood the test, it would have through the instrumentality of faith-animated obedience (understanding faith here to be different than what we have, in that Adam could see God), the ability of which was condescendingly given by God. The obedience itself, in other words, was not given by God. The ability to obey was, since it was part of Adam being created morally innocent.

    So that if, hypothetically, Adam had obeyed, it would have been because he was willing what he wanted. The Edwardsian account of the will applied to the hypothetical under disucssion leads to a clear conclusion: hypothetical Adam had the will to obey.

    AND

    We know that Adam did in fact have this ability at least under some circumstances because Adam was, prior to the Fall, righteous and walking with God.

    I think it’s pretty clear that at the moment of the temptation, Adam did not will to obey! But it’s just as clear that, prior to the temptation, Adam *did* will to obey — unlike us.

    He had both abilities, under different circumstances, and exercised both at different times. No?

    Jeff Cagle

  104. May 9, 2008 at 8:54 am

    1. I did not get the quotes from his conversation with Doug. They’re all from this thread.

    2. You are dramatically changing the plain meaning of words. Lane did not say if Adam had obeyed he would have willed it; for one things, that pretty tautological, wouldn’t you say? He said that Adam could have chosen contrary to how he did did. The impetus for such a contrary choice would have immediately come from Adam.

    3. Jeff, in your last paragraph you are confusing moral ability with the ability to choose contrary to how one would. The former simply has to with one’s nature and speaks to the kind of choices that will be consistent with one’s nature – so with the case of Adam his nature permitted him to sin or not sin – either choice would have been consistent with who he was. Whereas the latter has to do with the particular choice (not kind of choice) that would be made. If we say that Adam could choose contrary to how he would, that means he could have chosen a different particular choice.

    Lane needs this radical freedom within Adam to uphold his view of merit. Finally, are you now suggesting that I am orthodox and that Lane agrees with me, but is just using different terms? One of us is clearly wrong, my brother. Lane is affirming (yet doesn’t realize it) LFW in the garden. It’s a common mistake among many, as John Frame noted. I mention John again only to point out that Reformed philosophers appreciate this very accutely. John’s or my theology or philosophy may be incorrect (though I don’t think so on this matter), but please don’t tell me that we are not assessing the articulated beliefs of people correctly. Lane’s words are clear; whether he actually believes what he articulates, I cannot know.

    Ron

  105. greenbaggins said,

    May 9, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Ron, you are getting tiresome. I have never said or implied that Adam could have thwarted God’s will in the Garden. Let me state that again: Adam could NOT have thwarted God’s will in the garden. That right there sets me off as distinct from the LFW view, which says that man can always thwart the will of God (and in all this, I am of course referring to God’s decretive will). When I said that if Adam had obeyed, the IMMEDIATE impetus would have come from Adam, I am claiming secondary causation status for Adam’s nature and will. The ultimate cause of Adam’s obedience would have been the decree of God. Furthermore, it is not tautological to say that if Adam had obeyed, it would have been because of his will, since it is the characteristics of Adam’s will and nature before the Fall that is the very thing under discussion. Jeff has read me accurately, and you are off your rocker, Ron.

    Mark, comment 90 is over the top. Consider it strike 1. I make arguments all the time. I am arguing that your argument makes an assumption about the nature of Adam’s choice with which I disagree. It is a hidden premise, in other words, that you have not proven, and yet have assumed. Don’t claim that I am incapable of making arguments.

  106. May 9, 2008 at 10:48 am

    please excuse the formatting of the previous post

    Lane,

    Ron, you are getting tiresome. I have never said or implied that Adam could have thwarted God’s will in the Garden. Let me state that again: Adam could NOT have thwarted God’s will in the garden.

    What you have said is that Adam could have chosen contrary to how he did, yet he would have chosen as God decreed. Accordingly, Adam would not have thwarted God’s plan. This is precisely the philosophy the Molinism! They protect God’s decree with what man “would” do and they try to protect man’s radical freedom with what man “could” do. This distinction escapes you. As you noted from the outset, you did not want to get technical. The only problem is that you are making assertions that have technical implications. Maybe you simply got in over your head?

    That right there sets me off as distinct from the LFW view, which says that man can always thwart the will of God

    Lane, no Molinist thinks that God’s decree won’t come to pass (or be thwarted). Molinism affirms two essential points: 1) Man will act in accordance to God’s decree; and 2) man could act contrary to how he will. Both of these sentiments you have affirmed in this thread. Accordingly, you do not distance yourself from the Molinist when you say that man will act in accordance with God’s decree. This is precisely what Alvin Plantinga and W.L. Craig affirm. You affirm the tenets of Molinism when you say that Adam *could* have acted differently than he did.
    The Molinist says, as do you, that Adam could have chosen contrary to how he did, yet that Adam would choose according to God’s decree (i.e. not thwart God’s decree).

    When I said that if Adam had obeyed, the IMMEDIATE impetus would have come from Adam, I am claiming secondary causation status for Adam’s nature and will. The ultimate cause of Adam’s obedience would have been the decree of God.

    Lane, the decree causes nothing, just like foreknowledge causes nothing. Events are caused in accordance with the decree and consistent with foreknowledge, but neither is causal. The question lurking behind all of this is what would have caused Adam’s strongest inclination and is it something categorically different than what causes your inclinations that necessitate your choices? If it’s not categorically different, then you would have to conclude that your good choices are as meritorious as Adam’s would have been!

    Furthermore, it is not tautological to say that if Adam had obeyed, it would have been because of his will, since it is the characteristics of Adam’s will and nature before the Fall that is the very thing under discussion. Jeff has read me accurately, and you are off your rocker, Ron.

    *sigh* It is tautological because the will is the faculty of choice or that by which the mind chooses; accordingly, it’s rather apparent that any choice is according to the will – the faculty of choice.

    Lane, from the outset you said that this matter is not as technical as I would make it out to be, yet (presumably unwittingly) you have tossed around terms that have clear and precise meanings among those who engage seriously in such discussions. At best, you have made some pretty unguarded statements that you did not appreciate had meaning you did not intend.

    Ron

  107. greenbaggins said,

    May 9, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Ron, cut out the condescension. It’s ridiculous, and hardly wise on my blog. I am by no means in over my head. And you have no right to make assertions about what you think I have read and have not read. The pre-Fall and post-Fall distinction is what is completely escaping you. You are outright denying that Adam was created righteous and innocent, contrary to all the Reformed confessions. You deny that Adam was created with the power to obey. You have not answered Jeff’s argument about Adam’s obedience before the Fall. And you are using the term “molinist” as if it was all about Adam’s will before the Fall, and wasn’t about middle knowledge and man’s ability after the fall. You cannot project the one onto the other, like you are so obviously doing. I am very tired of this thread, and am therefore closing it.

  108. May 30, 2008 at 9:58 am

    […] just want to remind Doug of where things stand at the moment. First there are the several points of this post, to which points Doug has responded to only a few here. Then there is this post, to which I […]


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