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.

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51 Comments

  1. Ken Christian said,

    June 8, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Hey Lane – Concerning your last paragraph, I think Doug was being a bit funny in the whole “Jeepers” section of most recent post to you. I dont’ think he was actually entertaining the notion that you might think faith is an act of disobedience. What he was doing was putting this question before you (as am I): If faith isn’t obedience, than what is it? Now you might say that to ask such a question is to engage in a category mistake. If so, please tell us why.

  2. rgmann said,

    June 9, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Also, Lane, if faith is not an “act of obedience,” then how do you square that with the Confession, which clearly states that faith is an “evangelical obedience” — “not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness” (WCF 11.1)?

  3. Ron Henzel said,

    June 10, 2008 at 4:21 am

    Lane,

    Wilson wrote:

    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.”

    Yeah. God’s people said, “Jeepers, Doug, who was the goofball that tried to teach you elementary logic?” I think it’s safe to assume that the fault here does not lie with you, Lane.

    rgmann,

    I think Lane made clear in a previous paragraph that he excludes faith from “the category of obedience when it comes to justification” (his emphasis), which is precisely the same thing WCF 11.1 is saying. This does not mean that faith cannot be considered evangelical obedience when it comes to sanctification.

  4. magma2 said,

    June 10, 2008 at 8:54 am

    You miss Roger’s point Ron. Lane said; “I will in no way countenance a formulation that allows obedience in any way, shape, or form, however delimited and qualified, to be instrumental in justification.” Yet, faith in Roger’s reading of the Confession, which is the “alone instrument of justification” is to be included among those things that fall under “evangelical disobedience.”

    FWIW I agree with Roger and the obedience of faith is simply synonymous with believing the message of the Gospel (see Rom 1:5 and 16:26 and surrounding context). I don’t think Paul has our progressive sanctification in mind at all. Lane excludes this as a possible interpretation and instead considers the phrase “the obedience of faith” to be speaking of sanctification. The fact that Wilson now has him cornered is evidence, at least to me, that Lane needs to go back and recheck his premises.

    Also, if Wilson’s logic is in error on this point why don’t you prove it? FWIW I can’t? It seems to me Wilson’s argument is simply:

    1. God commands we believe the gospel
    2. To be obedient is doing what God commands
    :. We are obedient to God’s command when we believe the gospel

    How does that not follow?

  5. magma2 said,

    June 10, 2008 at 8:55 am

    I wrote: “alone instrument of justification” is to be included among those things that fall under “evangelical disobedience.”

    LOL that should, of course, be obedience. DOH!

  6. Roger Mann said,

    June 10, 2008 at 10:11 am

    3. Ron wrote,

    I think Lane made clear in a previous paragraph that he excludes faith from “the category of obedience when it comes to justification” (his emphasis), which is precisely the same thing WCF 11.1 is saying. This does not mean that faith cannot be considered evangelical obedience when it comes to sanctification.

    Ron, the “faith” spoken of in WCF 11 is faith in relation to justification not sanctification. And the Confession specifically refers to it as an “evangelical obedience.”

    “Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth…not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness.” (WCF 11.1)

    Indeed, as Sean pointed out, the faith spoken of here is the “alone instrument of justification” (WCF 11.2). Thus, there’s no problem in saying that saving faith is an act of “evangelical obedience.” The problem only arises when one makes “evangelical obedience” (whether faith or subsequent good deeds) a partial ground of our justification before God — as our “legal obedience” would have done under the Law viewed as a covenant of works. That’s all the Confession is guarding against when it says, “not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness.” If that’s all Lane is trying to say, then I would agree wholeheartedly with him. But I think he needs to be a little more precise in the language he’s using — for the Confession plainly states that justifying faith is an act of “evangelical obedience.”

  7. magma2 said,

    June 10, 2008 at 10:49 am

    NOTE: I realize I’m trespassing posting here, but it pains me to see Lane “checkmated” as Wilson rightly points out. I just want to help put the puzzle pieces together. Shut me down any time you like.

    The problem only arises when one makes “evangelical obedience” (whether faith or subsequent good deeds) a partial ground of our justification before God

    The other problem is making something other than simply belief or faith (they’re synonyms) instrumental in justification, which the FV men regularly do through their conditional view of the covenant which render our *ongoing* obedience to the so-called “demands of the covenant” instrumental in order to achieve our so-called “final justification.” Of course, these charlatans will deny that our ongoing evangelical obedience is instrumental, but they are liars since they affirm it nonetheless as it is a necessary consequence of their system.

    The FV is a works based religion no matter how Wilson spins it or insists he believes in sola fide. He does not. He does not believe that the moment someone believes the message of the gospel they are justified saved men and their eternal salvation is eternally secure. He is opposed to salvation by what he calls “raw” belief alone. This is in his mind “easy believism.” He even thinks belief and faith are qualitatively different animals rather than just synonyms and differing translations of the same Greek word pistis. That’s why in his scheme of salvation elect and reprobate members of the visible church are brought into the exact same covenantal relationship with Christ via baptism. This explains his Romanish take on James and the relationship he draws from the so-called “aliveness of faith” in justification. Wilson writes:

    The faith which James is condemning is a mere intellectual assent which has no effect upon conduct. The demons also, he says, have that sort of faith, and yet evidently they are not saved (James 2:19). What Paul means by faith is something entirely different; it is not a mere intellectual assent to certain propositions, but an attitude of the entire man by which the whole life is entrusted to Christ. In other words, the faith that James is condemning is not the faith that Paul is commending.

    The solution of the whole problem is provided by Paul himself in a single phrase. In Gal. 5:6, he says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.” “Faith working through love” is the key to an understanding both of Paul and James. The faith about which Paul has been speaking is not the idle faith which James condemns, but a faith that works. [Posted by Douglas Wilson – 1/3/2006]

    From this it follows that those who perform, i.e., persevere, as a result of their ongoing obedience (which in Wilsonspeak is the result of faith and is therefore not biblically speaking “works”) to the UNSPECIFIED demands of this conditional and tenuous relationship, are those who will be finally justified in the parusia. No easy believism here. No gospel either.

  8. David said,

    June 10, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Justification takes place outside the believer. It is an act of God’s free grace whereby He objectively declares a sinner righteous. Justification is accomplished in the heavenly “court room” of God where the just Judge passes His sentence of innocence upon the forgiven sinner.

    Faith is the instrument set in place whereby the sinner, who has been declared righteous, receives this declaration & has the work of Christ applied to him subjectively his life. It is the sole means by which the declared justification of the sinner, in and through the person and work of Christ, is applied to him.

    Faith, therefore, is obedient – in that we actively assume that which has been accomplished on our behalf in and through faith alone. God freely justifes the sinner apart from any works (or obedience) and yet, at the same time, as an act of faithful obdience, we procure, as an act of faith, the justification God freely bestows.

    So while God does not justify the sinner based upon his or her response of faithful obedience – and therefore our justification does not rest upon any works based obedience – we do truly respond to the command to receive God’s evangelical grace humbly and faithfully by obeying Him.

  9. Roger Mann said,

    June 10, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    The other problem is making something other than simply belief or faith (they’re synonyms) instrumental in justification, which the FV men regularly do through their conditional view of the covenant which render our *ongoing* obedience to the so-called “demands of the covenant” instrumental in order to achieve our so-called “final justification.”

    Good point. And, of course, I agree that faith is the “alone” instrument of our once-for-all justification in God’s sight. While there are indeed many other acts of “evangelical obedience” that are produced as a result of our faith, they are in no way instrumental in our justification before God.

  10. tim prussic said,

    June 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Ron, #3, your selective quote makes Pr. Wilson look very illogical, indeed. But the problem was that you ignored the rest of the post that immediately followed it. What follows inn that post goes a little something like this: If God commands a thing, the command’s either obeyed or it’s not obeyed. God has commanded men to believe in the Messiah. Thus, by the logical rule of the excluded middle, if the belief in Christ is not obedience, then it must be disobedience in regard to the command. On a less-selective reading, I think Wilson’s logic’s okay.

  11. synthesizer said,

    June 10, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Rey,
    Who is separating salvation from justification? I don’t see that anywhere in #8. If you are justified. you are saved. The point in #8 is that faith alone justifies, and also saves. Works cannot enter into the picture, it is a gift from God.

  12. Vern Crisler said,

    June 10, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Keep in mind that Paul’s opponents were Jews or Judaizers. Their main ideology was continued obedience to the law of Moses as the way of being within the kingdom. For them, faith works by law, law is the fulfilling of love.

    Paul turns things around. It is not obedience to the law of Moses, but the obedience of faith (apart from works) that saves. It is not faith working through law, but through love. It is not law fulfilling love, but love fulfilling the law.

    So the whole idea of the obedience of faith is an ironic reversal of the ideology of works-righteousness (i.e., self-righteousness, faithfulness, obedient faith), the view held by Paul’s opponents (and resurrected by FVists).

    Vern

  13. Roger Mann said,

    June 10, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    10. Rey wrote,

    Based on the proposed system of comment #8, a person may beleive and be justified prior to calling on the name of the Lord…

    Of course, Paul specifically states that a man is justified “prior to” calling on the name of the Lord, so what’s your point?

    “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:10-13

    Notice that “confession” and “call” are being used as synonyms is the above passage, as they both result in “salvation.” Moreover, in the context Paul is not arguing that justification or imputed “righteousness” is separate from “salvation,” as John Calvin pointed out almost 500 years ago:

    With the mouth confession is made unto salvation. It may seem strange, that he ascribes no part of our salvation to faith, as he had before so often testified, that we are saved by faith alone. But we ought not on this account to conclude that confession is the cause of our salvation. His design was only to show how God completes our salvation, even when he makes faith, which he implants in our hearts, to show itself by confession: nay, his simple object was, to mark out true faith, as that from which this fruit proceeds, lest any one should otherwise lay claim to the empty name of faith alone: for it ought so to kindle the heart with zeal for God’s glory, as to force out its own flame. And surely, he who is justified has already obtained salvation: hence he no less believes with the heart unto salvation, than with the mouth makes a confession. You see that he has made this distinction, — that he refers the cause of justification to faith, — and that he then shows what is necessary to complete salvation; for no one can believe with the heart without confessing with the mouth: it is indeed a necessary consequence, but not that which assigns salvation to confession. (Calvin’s Commentary on Romans 10:10)

    Many other passages of Scripture teach the very same thing — that the imputation of “righteousness” or “salvation” is by faith alone. For example:

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

    “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13

  14. tim prussic said,

    June 10, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Synth – #12 – It can be very easy to fall into equivocation. Sometime “justified” and “saved” are the same. Sometimes “justified” can stand for the whole of salvation. In our theological parlance, justification and other parts of salvation ought not be confused, nor ought they be separated one from another.

    Thus, we can say we’re saved by faith and mean that we’re justified though the alone instrument of faith. We can say we’re saved by faith in that faith plays a deciding and central role in the whole of our salvation (that is, we derive all Christ’s saving benefits through faith). We would not want to say that faith has the same relation to other parts of our salvation (e.g., sanctification) as it does to our justification. Mr. Mann’s hand-picked texts above demonstrate varying functions of faith in our salvation.

  15. Joe Brancaleone said,

    June 10, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    If “obedience” was narrowly limited to the definition, “doing what God says” then of course faith qualifies as an act of obedience.

    But what is vehemently denied by Paul in Romans, Galatians, etc. is any attempt to mix faith with any sort of obedience as doing what God says in his revelatory commandments. Any sort of doing that comes from the disposition of love for neighbor or the advancement of the glory of God, is all of the sort of obedience which is not of faith (Gal. 3:12). It is a distinct act of the will that rests and relies on the obedience ( to the revelatory will of God) of another, Christ.

    Therefore, to expand “obedience” at all and make it anything more than a very generic definition of “doing what God says”; so that the “obedience of faith” included any sort of doing of the revelatory law; is to assume righteousness can come from the Law which both nullifies the grace of God as well as make the death of Christ unecessary (Gal. 2:21).

    j

  16. Pat Woods said,

    June 10, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    What does one do when he or she attends a church with Peter Enns or Norman Shepherd (or people who agree with them) or maybe has a parent who loves the Lord but is Roman Catholic?
    That’s where the tire meets the road.
    Do I share in the Lord’s supper with them? Do I let them teach my kids? Do I argue with them during coffee hour, over the dinner table? Do I change churches? Do I snub them? Do i stop supporting the school where they teach?
    If anyone is in error are they sinning? Is it a sin to be wrong?
    How do we deal with people that we disagree with?
    Can you talk about this for a while? Honestly I just need advice because I have these folks in my life and they love the Lord and they love me and I love them, but i do disagree with them (and them with me).

  17. tim prussic said,

    June 10, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Joe, thanks for that post. I, too, think it’s unavoidable that faith is obedience. The issue (piggy backing on your post) is how we distinguish the nature and parts of faith from the function of faith in justification. I think faith is living and obedient by nature. I don’t think that it justifies because of its nature. I think it’s the instrumental means of justification because it’s God’s means of uniting us to Christ, the Righteous One. Further, faith being a direct gift of God and faith being passive help in understanding how it functions. God gives his elect sinner faith which passively receives, rests in, and trusts Christ alone unto justification. There’s certainly no merit for the sinner there! The sticky part is that the sinner obediently believes unto his justification. I think that the obedience of faith is clearly distinct from other obedience (works of the law) in that it itself if a gift (our keeping of God’s commandments is gracious, but it’s not a specific gift implanted in our hearts) and it is passive in a way that other obedience is not. Keeping commandments involves action or the cessation of it (in thought, word and deed), while justifying faith simply rests in Christ.

    Thus, I think we can speak of justifying faith as obedience, but must clearly distinguish how faith is different from other types of obedience. Discussion?

  18. Joe Brancaleone said,

    June 10, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Other types of obedience simply do nothing to escape us from condemnation or connect us to the blessings of Christ.

    I believe it is inherently slippery to speak too much of faith as obedience, as these series of blogs and comments show. Even if a sharp theologian is clear in his mind of the limited way in which he means “obedience” wrt justifying faith, that doesn’t mean the same clarity is shared by his audience. Because we typically speak of sanctification and law keeping in terms of obedience. Love of neighbor and love of God is demonstrated in obedience (to the revealed Law). But grasping hold of the promises of God is an act of *taking refuge* and relying upon the obedience of another.

    One analogy I’ve read recently in a paper on faith may be helpful. It’s not a perfect analogy but it will work for this point. Suppose you are stuck in the bottom of the ocean, out in the middle of the Pacific. Someone comes down and pumps oxygen into you with their spare tank such that you are able to be transferred to the surface of the ocean. A line from a helicopter has been dropped in front of you and you recognize the need to grasp on to that cord to be connected to the man in the helicopter. This is your means of escape from death by drowning, as well as new life in connection with the helicopter.

    The act of grasping on to the line is like the act of faith. It is a refuge-seeking act, an act of reliance, wholly from an affection of relying upon the merits and power unto salvation of Another. To heed the call from the helicopter’s speaker to grab hold of the line, okay YES technically that is an act of obedience in a sense but can you see how that can also completely obscure the unique nature of the act?

    It is passive in its instrumental character: the act of grabbing the cord itself doesn’t possess the power to save, it simply connects you to a savior. No other actions whatsoever will contribute to being saved; no sense of love for the savior or love for others who may be floating near you. . . nothing else completes the instrumental act of grabbing the cord. To suggest otherwise would not only insult the saving power of the man in the helicopter, to do otherwise would nullify the effectiveness of the one act involved.

    “The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” Psalm 34:22

  19. tim prussic said,

    June 10, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I like it, baby. This discussion (broadly speaking, but including with you, Joe) has been quite edifying for me.

    One factor that was brought up on Blog & Mablog yesterday that wasn’t really hashed out to my satisfaction was the issue of call or summons as associated with faith. The obedience of faith, so it went, is further distinct from the obedience of law keeping in that faith is the response to a divine call or summons, while law keeping is work. I’m not sure exactly what that all means, but it appears to be getting at the notion of passive/active, again. Hearing a call and trusting it would be quite passive, while serving the master who calls is quite active. Maybe there’s more to it.

    BTW, I quite agree that we oughn’t speak of faith as obedience much, even if highly and carefully qualified, as that can be confusing to folks. However, it’s good to think through the issue, as we (rightly) contrast faith with works vis-a-vis justification so much, that if someone opposed to that doctrine (sola-fide justification) were to bring up this sticky little notion we’ve been talking about, it might be a stumbling block to some, as well.

    Thanks for the discussion, Joe.

  20. Roger Mann said,

    June 10, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    BTW, I quite agree that we oughtn’t speak of faith as obedience much, even if highly and carefully qualified, as that can be confusing to folks.

    I suppose we oughtn’t speak of “salvation” by faith alone either, since some people are confused and unable to recognize that it’s simply a synonym for “justification” in many passages of Scripture (too bad the Holy Spirit wasn’t aware of this!). Of course, I’m being facetious, but I think you can see my point. Since the WCF refers to justifying faith as an act of “evangelical obedience,” I don’t think Presbyterians should shy away from using such language. The answer is to educate average Christians better — so there won’t be as much ignorance and confusion — not to downplay theologically correct language.

  21. David Gadbois said,

    June 11, 2008 at 2:17 am

    You can disagree with the position, but there is good precedent for the position Lane is coming from. I quoted from this section of Turretin during my “Turretin and Justification” post here at Greenbaggins some time ago. It bears reviewing:

    The faith by which Abraham was justified cannot be called obedience to commands (although obedience was prescribed to him as a condition, Gen. 17:1), for it is clearly taught to have been faith in the promise (Gen. 15:5, 6; Rom. 4:11, 13, 16). The walking before God spoken of in Gen. 17:1 is not a condition of the justification of faith, but its effect. Nor can the offering of his son also be said to be its cause because already thirty years before he had been justified (Gen. 15:6). Therefore, the causal particle “since” or “seeing that” (occurring in Gen. 22:16) is a cause or mark of consequence, not of a consequent.

  22. magma2 said,

    June 11, 2008 at 9:05 am

    There is plenty of good precedent for Lane’s position, but I think much of it comes down to equivocating on the different senses the single phrase “the obedience of faith” can be and has been understood. I think most commentators (at least those that I’ve read) attribute the obedience of faith to our ongoing obedience which results from faith. Even Luther writes:

    The obedience towards God is the obedience of faith and good works; that is, he who believes in God, and does what God has commanded, is obedient unto him; but the obedience toward the devil is superstition and evil works; that is, who trusts not in God, but is unbelieving, and does evil, is obedient unto the devil.

    Understood in this sense “the obedience of faith” is excluded from being instrumental in justification and Lane is correct when he said: “I will in no way countenance a formulation that allows obedience in any way, shape, or form, however delimited and qualified, to be instrumental in justification.”

    But I think it is a bit knee jerk to assume that is the way Paul intends the phrase in Romans 1:5 and 16:26. It is on this point that I think Wilson has Lane trapped both logically and exegetically. It seems to me the phrase “the obedience of faith” can (and should) be understood in terms of simply believing the message of the gospel. I think this is also perfectly acceptable and exegetically defensible understanding given the immediate context and the overall thrust of Romans in general. Calvin writes concerning Romans 1:5:

    We hence learn, that they perversely resist the authority of God and upset the whole of what he has ordained, who irreverently and contemptuously reject the preaching of the gospel; the design of which is to constrain us to obey God. We must also notice here what faith is; the name of obedience is given to it, and for this reason — because the Lord calls us by his gospel; we respond to his call by faith; as on the other hand, the chief act of disobedience to God is unbelief, I prefer rendering the sentence, “For the obedience of faith,” rather than, “In order that they may obey the faith;” for the last is not strictly correct, except taken figuratively, though it be found once in the Acts 6:7. Faith is properly that by which we obey the gospel.

    Notice in the highlighted section Calvin makes Wilson’s argument.

    Also, as noted, the WCF does include faith among the “evangelical obediences” that, while excluded from the grounds of justification, is still the alone instrument of justification.

    So, as I have been trying to point out (and Lane said he’s open to persuasion on this point) is that the phrase can be used in different senses, whereas Lane only allows it to be understood in one sense, hence the checkmate. The problem with Wilson and the rest of the damnable FV heresy is that these men DO NOT clearly differentiate and define the sense of almost anything, much less this little phrase of Paul’s (which, so far as I can tell is only found in Romans). Consequently, simply believing the message of the gospel in their soteriology is no different from our ongoing obedience to God in good works done by, or as the result of, faith and which shapes the Christian life in sanctification. For men like Wilson, Jordan and the rest faith means doing, hence they successfully smuggle works into their scheme of salvation through their errant understanding of faith. This is what they call the “fiducial” aspect of faith — what Jordan has said over and over is the heart of the FV and is what they are standing for and protecting. This is why he said that the FV is the “Clark controversy with feet on it.”

    IMO until men learn this lesson false teachers like Wilson will be able to continue to run circles around their opponents and checkmate their critics.

    Anyway, hope that helps.

  23. Roger Mann said,

    June 11, 2008 at 9:26 am

    The faith by which Abraham was justified cannot be called obedience to commands (although obedience was prescribed to him as a condition, Gen. 17:1), for it is clearly taught to have been faith in the promise (Gen. 15:5, 6; Rom. 4:11, 13, 16).

    In the historical context of Genesis 15, Turretin may be correct that the “faith by which Abraham was justified cannot be called obedience to commands,” as God had not given Abraham a specific “command” to believe. But I’m not sure how the same point can be brought to bear upon our present historical context, for God has quite clearly “commanded” us to “repent” (Acts 17:30) and have “faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). The Apostle John leaves us with no doubt:

    “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 3:23

    It seems quite a stretch to argue that when we obey God’s commandment to believe in His Son, that our “faith” is not an act of obedience. Moreover, as I pointed out above, the Confession clearly states that justifying faith is an act of “evangelical obedience” — “not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness” (WCF 11.1). So, unless one feels that the Confession is wrong on this point, I’m not sure how we can argue that faith is not an act of evangelical obedience.

    The problem created by the FV’s use of “obeying the gospel” or “the obedience of faith” is that they reject the biblical Law/Gospel distinction — the Law in its character as a covenant of works, and the Gospel in its character as a covenant of grace. Obedience to the Law as a covenant of works “earns” the promised reward (Romans 4:4), while obedience to the gospel as a covenant of grace passively “receives” what Christ has already earned by His obedience to the Law in our stead (Romans 5:17-19). That’s why Paul writes:

    “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them.’ But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:4-10)

    In other words, “obedience” to the gospel command to believe in Christ is of an entirely different nature than “obedience” to the commands of the Law as a covenant of works. The latter contributes to our justification before God; the former contributes precisely nothing to our justification, but merely receives the “abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness…through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).

  24. magma2 said,

    June 11, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Is your latter mixed up with your former? =8-/

  25. greenbaggins said,

    June 11, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Sean, I have not lifted your ban.

  26. magma2 said,

    June 11, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Good to see we’re still friends. I’ll continue to answer you from my own blog (GLW Johnson’s favorite). Bye.

  27. Roger Mann said,

    June 11, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Is your latter mixed up with your former?

    Um, I don’t think so. In the last paragraph of my post I mentioned “obedience” to the gospel command to believe in Christ first, and “obedience” to the commands of the Law as a covenant of works second. Thus, the “latter” is referring to the second half of the sentence (obedience to the commands of the Law), while the “former” is referring to the first half of the sentence (obedience to the gospel command). Perhaps I could have been more clear. Sorry about that — you bad “banned” blogger! :-)

  28. tim prussic said,

    June 11, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Good post (#25), Mr. Mann. I appreciate your handling of the faith/obedience issue. As to the law/gospel distinction…

    *Deviation in topic*

    I have issues with construing God’s law largely in terms of the COW. I think there’s an aspect of the law that is the COW recapitulated: do this and live (in an absolute sense). In this sense, the law is not a means of life, but of death. Life is offered, but is an impossibility, which reveals our wickedness and need of the Mediator of a better covenant!

    However, I think there are various other aspect of the law that need to be kept in hand, which frankly are more important, I think. To God’s people, freed from bondage in Christ, that law is life and freedom. Keeping it and loving it are as life to us, since we love Christ specifically by keeping his commandments. That is, Christ himself is our life, he works in us to will and do, and then through the means of grace by the occasion of our obedience he invigorates and strengthens us. I think attempts to understand God’s law strictly, or even largely, in terms of the COW is sub-biblical, as such a understanding takes but part of the truth for the whole.

  29. Pat Woods said,

    June 11, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    ‘If we love him we’ll keep His commands” not “we love him by keeping his commands”,
    we love him because “he first loved us” not because we initiated it. He doesn’t offer grace by the occasion of our obedience, that’s not grace, if we have to obey to get it. But he blesses us by disciplining us when we don’t obey.
    I think he does bless us when we obey Him, but He blesses no matter what, remembering that not only nice things are blessings, but discipline is a blessing too.
    We are His children, not numerals in a formula.

  30. Roger Mann said,

    June 11, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    30: Tim wrote,

    I have issues with construing God’s law largely in terms of the COW. I think there’s an aspect of the law that is the COW recapitulated: do this and live (in an absolute sense)…However, I think there are various other aspect of the law that need to be kept in hand, which frankly are more important, I think.

    While I certainly agree that “there are various other aspect of the law that need to be kept in hand,” I would disagree that they are “more important” than viewing the law in terms of the CoW. I say this for several reasons:

    1) It was precisely in terms of the law’s legal aspect that Christ purchased our redemption — by His “active” and “passive” obedience to its demands (Romans 5:18-19; Galatians 4:4-5). In other words, if the law did not primarily bear this CoW character, then we could not have been redeemed by Christ’s obedience to it.

    2) It is precisely in terms of the law’s legal aspect that we are promised eternal life upon fulfilling its demands (Matthew 19:16-17; Romans 7:10; 10:5; Galatians 3:11), and threatened with death when we violate it precepts (Galatians 3:10; James 2:10).

    3) It is precisely in terms of the law’s legal and condemning aspect that we are convicted of our utter sinfulness (Romans 7:7-12), and led to Christ so “that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:22-25).

    I see these as being the primary function of the law, while our relationship to the law as “keeping it and loving it” only takes place as a consequence of our already having been redeemed, regenerated, and justified (Romans 6:14; 7:4-6; 8:1-4). Or, to put it another way, we are all related to the law as a CoW by nature (WCF 19:1-2); we are only related to the law as the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) after we have entered into the CoG by faith in Christ alone.

  31. Roger Mann said,

    June 11, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Sorry, my last post should have looked like this:

    30: Tim wrote,

    I have issues with construing God’s law largely in terms of the COW. I think there’s an aspect of the law that is the COW recapitulated: do this and live (in an absolute sense)…However, I think there are various other aspect of the law that need to be kept in hand, which frankly are more important, I think.

    While I certainly agree that “there are various other aspects of the law that need to be kept in hand,” I would disagree that they are “more important” than viewing the law in terms of the CoW. I say this for several reasons:

    1) It was precisely in terms of the law’s legal aspect that Christ purchased our redemption — by His “active” and “passive” obedience to its demands (Romans 5:18-19; Galatians 4:4-5). In other words, if the law did not primarily bear this CoW character, then we could not have been redeemed by Christ’s obedience to it.

    2) It is precisely in terms of the law’s legal aspect that we are promised eternal life upon fulfilling its demands (Matthew 19:16-17; Romans 7:10; 10:5; Galatians 3:11), and threatened with death when we violate it precepts (Galatians 3:10; James 2:10).

    3) It is precisely in terms of the law’s legal and condemning aspect that we are convicted of our utter sinfulness (Romans 7:7-12), and led to Christ so “that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:22-25).

    I see these as being the primary function of the law, while our relationship to the law as “keeping it and loving it” only takes place as a consequence of our already having been redeemed, regenerated, and justified (Romans 6:14; 7:4-6; 8:1-4). Or, to put it another way, we are all related to the law as a CoW by nature (WCF 19:1-2); we are only related to the law as the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) after we have entered into the CoG by faith in Christ alone.

  32. Pat Woods said,

    June 11, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    i wonder if there is a difference between being saved by grace “through” faith and entering into the covenant of grace “by” faith.
    “BY” seems to imply that i initiate the faith after God has given me His grace.
    “Though” seems to imply that grace and faith both come from God.

  33. Pat Woods said,

    June 11, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I wonder if a good filter for all theology would be something like: If it glorifies God we are on the right track, but if it brings honor to man, we need to rethink things.

  34. tim prussic said,

    June 11, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Pat, #31, interesting. In our love for God, we desire to honor our Savior by keep his commandment. He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me; he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him (Jn 14:21). Our love for God is manifest in commandment keeping. That’s what I meant by we love him by keeping his commandments. Further, God DOES bless those who keep his commandments. The Bible is all together full of that, so much so that a proof text is asinine, but I’ll be a fool: Psalm 1. Further, the WHOLE of our salvation is grace, including sanctification. In sanctification, God works in us so that we will and do. Thus, our willing and doing is response to his grace. His blessing upon our righteous willing and doing is a matter of his covenant faithfulness and is rooted in his redemptive grace that was manifested in working in us to will and do. Covenantal quid pro quos are still in the realm of graciousness, as they’re rooted in God’s gracious covenantal dealings with his people. Further, if I say that God blesses us one way, that does not imply that he doesn’t bless us another. So, yes, discipline is a tremendous blessing, too.

    Of course we love God because he love us first. My comments to Mr. Mann were not meant to be understood in the context of us being dead in sin, but rather in the context of us being made alive in Christ, converted, justified, adopted and being sanctified. My comments were to be taken in the context of a saint being further sanctified. Hope that helps.

  35. tim prussic said,

    June 11, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Mr. Mann, I fully agree with your posts (!) above. With regard to the legal aspect of the law, I have no bones. Christ fulfilled it and that’s the basis of our salvation. You’re right that it’s hard to get more important than that! That said, as redeemed Christians, our focus on the law should be primarily ethical, not legal. The legal is sealed up for us in Christ. Thus, we stand before God in Christ, positionally righteous. Our concern now is to be conformed to the image of Christ, which is ethical. We should seek to be commandment keepers, which involves the law not in it’s legal aspect, but in its ethical one.Thus, I’d argue, that the primary focus of the law for the redeemed Christian is ethical, not legal. This time tell me what you REALLY think. :) BTW, did you come out of Westminster?

  36. Pat Woods said,

    June 11, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Wonderful, thanks!
    “Our love for God is manifest in commandment keeping” sounds better to my ears than what you had written. And I agree with all you wrote. I know that God blesses those who obey Him.
    I’m glad that you are not excluding the fact that He blesses people who don’t obey Him (for now)
    through common grace.
    It is hard to know exactly what a person means, I do apologize if I offended you, but in my experience, people sometimes try to slide things by using little words that mean a great deal more than they appear to mean.

  37. tim prussic said,

    June 11, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Notta bit of offense, Pat. Don’t worry about that. As to God blessings for heathen – it’s a very interesting subject…. for another time!

  38. Pat Woods said,

    June 11, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    yeah…

  39. tim prussic said,

    June 11, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Pat, what’s up with the link on your name – it leads no where! Where ya from? What’s your story?

  40. Pat Woods said,

    June 11, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Pat is my middle name.
    I attended seminary, but not Westminster.
    I don’t want people to know exactly who i am, so the links leads no where,
    I am from the east coast.
    :)

  41. tim prussic said,

    June 11, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Your desire for anonymity is strange, Pat. But that’s okay. By the way, you don’t have to put a link in your name. It’s also okay not to go to Westminster. I’ve a couple seminary degrees, too, but (alas) not from Westmisnter. I went to a more conservative seminary, where only one faculty member wasn’t a 6-day creationist! It must be getting to be about dinner time over there on the east coast, huh?

    Is Pat male or female? Pat’s a funny name that way, you know… you’ve seen the SNL skits!

  42. Pat Woods said,

    June 11, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Yes, it is either male or female.
    I don’t think there was even one 6 day creationist on the faculty of the seminary I attended.

    Where are you from?

  43. tim prussic said,

    June 11, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I’m from Olympia, Wa. Married to a wonderful wife – got 2 kiddie so far. We’re members of the Olympia Bible Presbyterian Church (see my link) and I graduated from Western Reformed Seminary (www.wrs.edu). I’m currently working as a dispatcher at a freight company and building an online business with my wife (yourwebstore.mychoices.biz). Aside from that, I’m a closed book!

  44. Pat Woods said,

    June 11, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Hey can you re-read post 18 and give me some advice?
    It wasn’t a trick question, i am truly troubled by these things…

  45. Pat Woods said,

    June 11, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    BTW your work is similar to mine.

  46. Pat Woods said,

    June 11, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    You can email me at altureego at gmail dot com if you don’t want to post but do have advice.

  47. its.reed said,

    June 12, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Reminder: when inserting your email address in a post, be sure to type things out, rather than list the exact email address. This will protect your email address from surfing programs used by spammers.

  48. Roger Mann said,

    June 12, 2008 at 9:41 am

    37: Tim wrote,

    As redeemed Christians, our focus on the law should be primarily ethical, not legal. The legal is sealed up for us in Christ. Thus, we stand before God in Christ, positionally righteous. Our concern now is to be conformed to the image of Christ, which is ethical. We should seek to be commandment keepers, which involves the law not in it’s legal aspect, but in its ethical one. Thus, I’d argue, that the primary focus of the law for the redeemed Christian is ethical, not legal. This time tell me what you REALLY think.

    I REALLY think that we agree in substance, and only disagree on emphasis. For instance, I completely agree that as far as our sanctification is concerned, “our focus on the law should be primarily ethical, not legal.” But the fact that “the legal is sealed up for us in Christ” seems to support what I was getting at — that the legal aspect of the law is primary (even for the Christian), while the ethical is only secondary. In other words, if our standing before God relies upon the legal aspect of the law (fulfilled by Christ in our stead), and the ethical aspect only flows from that as part of our progressive sanctification, then the legal aspect must take precedent in the overall scheme of salvation. Nitpicky? Maybe. But I believe it’s an important distinction to make in order to guard against misunderstanding or potential error.

    BTW, did you come out of Westminster?

    Westminster? Isn’t that some kind of dog show or something? Seriously, though, I never went to seminary (or college for that matter). I joined the U.S. Army at 19 and served 11 years as a Military Police Officer, and for the past 14 years as a Correctional Officer at the Federal Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas. The study of Scripture and Systematic Theology just happens to be my passion!

  49. tim prussic said,

    June 12, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Mr. Mann, thanks for your service. I appreciate it.

    The reason I ask about W’mister is that it seems folks that come outta there tend to emphasize things as you do. As to agreement, I agree! The legal aspect of the law is prior in the sense that if it’s not taken care of the ethical never comes in toto. As to the primacy of the ethical aspect of the law, I’m simply parroting Calvin. When he writes of the famous 3 uses of the law in his Institutes, he explicitly places emphasis on the third, as it’s the rule for life. Redemption underway, we need moment by moment to meditate on God’s law and be conformed to Christ’s image. The flip side of that is that we also need frequently to meditate on how Christ took the curse of the law that was due us. I guess we’ll have to find something else to fight about…

  50. Mark Chambers said,

    June 13, 2008 at 8:04 am

    It is passive in its instrumental character: the act of grabbing the cord itself doesn’t possess the power to save, it simply connects you to a savior.

    Joe,

    I see nothing there that an Arminian could not affirm. One would hope that all Calvinists understand that regeneration is antecedent to faith. A better analogy then (and a Scriptural one at that) is the blind man receiving his sight or one in being a dark room when the light is turned on. Is the will involved? Is seeing the light an act of obedience? No, it is a matter of realization. One with eyes to see, sees. The regenerate mind believes. It does not have to will to believe any more than the seeing person must will to see light. Whole eyes see. Regenerate minds believe.

    Justification took place at the cross. It is applied to the individual at the moment of regeneration. It is received by that person in the same way the eye receives light from an outside source. One does not intend to see, they see. It is a matter of realization and is utterly passive.

    Acts of obedience; positive responses to the commands of God; all those things that are part and parcel of progressive sanctification and the life of the disciple (which proceed from the regenerate heart) involve the will.

  51. Joe Brancaleone said,

    June 17, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Mark,

    Hi Mark… Yes the analogy is imperfect and I see your point. Would it be improved if I more explicitly stated that the resuscitation received by the diver’s oxygen tank while at the bottom of the ocean is something like regeneration. No will was involved and justification is applied as well. The regenerate mind believes, so too the resuscitated individual who’s also been transferred to the surface of the ocean receives the cord. I can see how this analogy breaks down terribly, since an Arminian would agree with all this but then say that there is the option to refuse the cord — Although strictly speaking, a resuscitated individual would reflexively receive the cord as automatically as breathing when oxygen is given.


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