More Puzzled

I don’t recognize myself very much in this post. Something got garbled. It could have been me, or it could have been on Doug’s side. I make no immediate judgment. But at the moment, there is a clear mud of communication. At any rate, the arguments I was putting forward (or thought I was putting forward) bear very little resemblance to the arguments that Doug was cheerfully demolishing. I am very careful of making this claim, because I do not wish to sound like FV’ers in this regard. Furthermore, I cheerfully acknowledge the possibility (nay, even probability) that I am not always communicating clearly.

Lane took me as objecting to grammatical and dogmatic parsing generally, when I was only objecting to it as a means of solving non-existent problems.

This is not what I was doing. This sentence (“These texts cannot be properly understood with that sort of analysis”) qualifies this sentence: “What is puzzling about it is that grammatical and dogmatic parsing, as Doug puts it, is not allowed, in Doug’s thinking.” Emphasis added. So, I was not accusing Doug of rejecting exegesis altogether (which would be a rather stupid accusation). What I was saying was that Doug seemed to be objecting to my using exegesis as a way of solving this particular problem with these particular verses. the point is that if the verses do not mention or talk about justification, then what right have we to use such passages to speak about the inception of faith, when it much more likely refers to the process of the Christian life? Unless Doug wants to say that justification and sanctification are not actually distinct, which is surely something he does not want to do. That is, if he still wants his king left on the board. How else are we supposed to solve what looks like a problem with our theology, if not with exegesis and detailed parsing? If the exegesis leaves no choice but to change our theology, that’s fine. But we all have presuppositions, and we all have doctrinal undergirdings of our exegesis.

Second misunderstanding: Doug seems to think that my position entails a temporary distinction in time between justification and sanctification. At least, that is what the analogy of the bride and groom’s love starting only ten days after the wedding. I believe that justification and sanctification are simultaneously given in union with Christ. Therefore, they are inseperable, yet distinct. Josh Walker (Johnny_Redeemed on Doug’s website) made the all-important point that faith is not related to the category of obedience when it comes to justification. Doug objects that the Bible commands people to have faith. But this is the whole point under dispute. Doug simply states his conclusion as a way to answer the argument. If he wants actually to engage my exegesis, then we will get somewhere, I am confident.

Now, the passage from Mark 1:15 is to the point. What I believe we should avoid most assiduously is saying that obedience (even such a straight-jacketed obedience as Doug describes) has instrumentality in justification. In Mark 1:15, the point is that it is a turning from sin. This belongs to santification (which occurs, remember, at the same time as justification, at least, in its inception). So, the call to the obedience of faith has reference to sanctification, which is properly the realm of repentance and turning, since justification is completely passive.

Third miscommunication:

“No implication, therefore, is made of whether coming to faith itself is an act of obedience.” That means that believing in Jesus must be disobedient. And all God’s people said, “Jeepers.”

There is no indication here that Doug understands that I was talking about a specific passage here (2 Thessalonians 1). This is indicated by the “therefore” which concludes the exegesis of the whole paragraph. Furthermore, Josh’s comments are applicable. Because I do not say that faith is an act of obedience does not in the least imply that I am advocated that faith is an act of disobedience. So, as I said, there is miscommunication somewhere. At the moment, it feels more like the miscommunication is on Doug’s end. But I am open to persuasion on this point.