All of you Green Baggins fans out there may remember the series of posts Lane did critiquing Leithart’s Federal Vision article some months back. At the heart of Lane’s critique was the accusation that Leithart was committing a sort of illegitimate totality transfer fallacy (a fallacy that those who have read Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies will recognize). In short, Leithart was trying to widen the dogmatic category of justification to include non-forensic and transformative realities based on biblical texts that use justification language in a broader sense.
Refreshingly, I found this critique echoed remarkably closely by an article in the current (Spring 2008 ) issue of the Westminster Theological Journal. It was written by two Wheaton College professors that I have not heard of before, R. Michael Allen and Daniel Treier. In Dogmatic Theology and Biblical Perspectives On Justification: A Reply to Leithart, the authors demonstrate that Leithart’s “argument fails to move clearly beyond the strictly semantic to a fully analytical domain of dogmatic theology. Leithart’s dogmatic case flounders insofar as he fails to distinguish between scriptural language and theological terminology.”
The authors discuss what Lane has termed a form of “word-concept fallacy”, confusing biblical words and theological concepts, a distinction they strangely (to my ear) refer to as “concepts” and “judgments” respectively. They write:
…the doctrine of justification may draw on many biblical uses of terminology insofar as they do not contradict its material import. The flip side of this claim, contra Leithart, is that the presence of justification language within the biblical texts does not necessarily imply that each of these texts will bear directly upon the doctrine of justification. Equally important will be texts that bear on the doctrine without using any of the biblical terminology of justification (e.g., Eph 2:7; 1 Cor 15:44-45).
Just remember that you heard it here first, folks.
Posted by David Gadbois