Interview With Mark Garcia

The differences between WTS and WSC are very interesting to discuss. And Mark Garcia is a strong proponent of the WTS version, which states that Calvin’s duplex gratia stems from his doctrine of union with Christ. Listen to this interview with him.

85 Comments

  1. Vern Crisler said,

    July 19, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Well, I wasn’t going to get involved in another long discussion, having other commitments, but my fingers wouldn’t stop typing, so for what it’s worth:

    Re: Calvin

    Calvin discusses union with Christ in the context of Osiander’s doctrine of union with Christ. He agrees with Osiander that Christ lives in our hearts, that this doctrine of the mystical union is “accorded by us the highest degree of importance….” (Calvin’s Institutes, McNeill-Battles edition, p. 737.) He says that, “We do not, therefore, contemplate him outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us but because we put on Christ and are engrafted into his body — in short, because he deigns to make us one with him.”

    This is a somewhat surprising comment, in that it appears to involve Calvin in an analytic view of justification. The only explanation he gives in context is that this union is a “spiritual bond.”

    So how does Calvin’s view of union differ from Osiander’s? As against Osiander, Calvin goes on to affirm the legal nature of the term “to be justified” and that justification is by “free imputation.” He further says that justification and reformation into newness of life “must be very different,” that while justification cannot be separated from regeneration (i.e., sanctification), “they are things distinct.” He speaks of newness of life as “this second point in his elect, and progresses in it gradually, and sometimes slowly, throughout life….”

    It seems then that Calvin’s vaunted unionism was thus in the nature of a debating point. He merely denied Osiander’s charge that imputation divided us from Christ, then appears to have forgotten about it. In other words, Calvin did not have a developed concept of union with Christ, but used it as a simple rebuttal to Osiander’s accusation, then went on to discuss justification by free imputation at great length. And the main idea Calvin was opposing was Osiander’s claim that only Christ’s divine nature justified us, thus denying the (active and passive) obedience of Christ as the source of our imputed righteousness. Union with Christ hardly appears again.

    At one point, Calvin does give us an ordo (Inst. P. 746. Sec. 16), but there is no discussion of union.

    How do we reconcile Calvin’s minimally expressed doctrine of union with his clearly and extensively expressed doctrine of justification? Well, a little later, Calvin does mention union again. As I said, it’s not a well thought out doctrine for Calvin, but he clearly places union in the secondary position after justification. After discussing the Bible’s teaching that God cannot abide sinners, and that we are enemies of God before grace restores us, Calvin says:

    “Thus, him who he receives into union with himself the Lord is said to justify, because he cannot receive him into grace nor join him to himself unless he turns him from a sinner into a righteous man. We add that this is done through forgiveness of sins.” (Inst. Sec. 21, p. 751.)

    It’s clear from this quotation that Calvin regards justification or forgiveness of sins as the antecedent condition for union with the Lord. In no way can we interpret Calvin as teaching an overarching concept of union in which justification is subordinated and thus relativized.

    Calvin continues on later to reaffirm imputation, and rejects the idea that the Spirit of God in man is what justifies him. (Inst. Sec. 23, p. 753.) Calvin says we possess righteousness by being “partakers in Christ” but he envisages this as something like Esau’s clothing that Jacob used to fool his father, something we “hide under” in order to be pleasing to God, clearly a representative, imputational concept.

    Vern Crisler
    vcrisler3@cox.net
    http://vernerable.tripod.com

  2. Vern Crisler said,

    July 19, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Darn, I can’t stop! Some more thoughts on Unionism:

    Sadly, Herman Ridderbos was something of a Unionist. He believed that justification is based on union with Christ. He says that “the foundation for the doctrine of justification, too, lies in the corporate unity of Christ and his own.” (Paul: An Outline of his Theology, p. 169.)

    I think that a lot of this Unionism stems from a Barthian influence on many Reformed thinkers. One can see it in Ridderbos’s discussion of election. He rejects “formal concepts” like the plan of God, abstract predestinarianism, God’s decrees, or a hidden decretum. Over against these he points to the “christocentric character” of the divine purpose. Further, “the predestinarian and the redemptive-historical ‘in Christ’ define each another reciprocally.” (Ridderbos, pp. 348-351.)

    Thus predestination is subsumed and relativized under union with Christ. It’s not surprising then, that Ridderbos would want to do something similar with justification. But is he successful?

    He quotes E. Tobac, from Le problem de la justification dans Saint Paul, who says: “rigorously speaking this ungodly one who is justified by God is already not an ungodly one any longer: he is a believer united with Christ, a righteous one…whom God no longer considers separately from Christ, but whom he envisages uniquely as a member of the body of Christ.”

    “But in this way,” says Ridderbos in rebuttal, “the corporate is employed in a manner that means a recasting of the Pauline concept of justification. “ (Paul, p. 175.) Tobac believes that the Spirit’s inward renewal of man, rather than Christ’s imputed righteousness, is what God looks upon in justification. His Unionism is thus purely analytic.

    Nevertheless, how does Ridderbos block the Unionist conclusion? He does believe in the synthetic character of justification and rejects any analytic construction: “In the justification of the ungodly it is a matter of man as a sinner and not yet of his future inner renewal; it is also a matter solely of the forensic aspect of the divine work of redemption.” In addition, “as Christ died for the ungodly at the time appointed…, so the object of God’s justification, , from whatever viewpoint one chooses to regard it, is not the righteous, but the ungodly.” (Paul, p. 175.)

    But again, where is the explanation of how the ungodly could be united to Christ? Tobac was at least consistent. He could not see how union with Christ was compatible with ungodliness, and therefore he overturned Paul’s teaching. Compare with Calvin, who saw justification as the condition that brought us into union with God.

    Despite claims to the contrary, Calvin never subordinated the “for us” to the “in us.”

    Well, that’s my thoughts, and I’ll stop now. Thanks for reading.

    Vern Crisler
    vcrisler3@cox.net
    http://vernerable.tripod.com

  3. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    July 20, 2008 at 7:28 am

    Hi Vern,

    Calvin’s doctrine of union is most fully laid out in his sacramental writings. It seems somewhat irresponsible to me to make such a statement as union with Christ is “not a well thought out doctrine for Calvin” while neglecting to make any mention of his formulation of this doctrine within the context of his writings on the sacraments, and most specifically in his treatises against Westphal and Heshuss. Calvin continually speaks of our reception of all the benefits of Christ (in which is included justification) flowing from our personal and mystical union with Christ himself, whereby through the power of the Spirit he “transfuses eternal life into us.” As I said in a previous thread, he never confuses justification and sanctification. They always remain clearly distinct in his thought. But they nevertheless do spring from the same root: our personal union with Christ himself.

    I’d be curious to know how you interpret Calvin in those places where he speaks of our receiving Christ *with all his benefits* through our spiritual union with him. Is he just being inconsistent, confused, uncareful? I’d submit that it is rather the case that he really did think these things through in the midst of controversy, and came to the conclusion that, as he says, we really do receive “Christ with all his benefits” through a mystical, Spiritual union with the risen Lord himself, whereby we are made “flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones.”

  4. Richard said,

    July 20, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Hi Lane,

    I have been reading Richard Gaffin’s By Faith, Not By Sight which I have been enjoying.

    Is that the view you are calling the WTS view?

  5. Roger Mann said,

    July 20, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    3. Jonathan wrote,

    Calvin continually speaks of our reception of all the benefits of Christ (in which is included justification) flowing from our personal and mystical union with Christ himself, whereby through the power of the Spirit he “transfuses eternal life into us.” As I said in a previous thread, he never confuses justification and sanctification. They always remain clearly distinct in his thought. But they nevertheless do spring from the same root: our personal union with Christ himself…Is he just being inconsistent, confused, uncareful?

    If this is an accurate representation of Calvin’s position (and I don’t claim to know one way or the other), then it would appear that he was definitely being “inconsistent, confused” and “uncareful” here. For justification is not an act of God accomplished by the Spirit “transfusing eternal life into us.” Justification is a purely mental act wherein God accounts, credits, or reckons a sinner to be righteous in Christ. It is something that takes place within the mind of God and is wholly outside of us. In other words, justification is an immanent act that has its complete essence in the mind of God and is entirely within Himself — it is not a transient act terminating on an external subject, producing any real or inherent change in us, as the acts of regeneration, sanctification and glorification are. Moreover, if justification is an immanent or internal act of God’s mind, then it must essentially be an eternal act of God’s mind, as God is not subject to a temporal succession of thoughts as we are. Thus, it is not correct to say that justification is one of the benefits of Christ “flowing from our personal and mystical [i.e., existential] union with Christ” in time.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    July 20, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Richard, yes, Dr. Gaffin’s book is definitely representative of the WTS view. That’s a bit like calling water wet, but yes.

  7. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    July 20, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Roger,

    Fine then… you think Calvin is confused and wrong. But I wasn’t attempting to place Calvin’s views on the table for scrutiny per se, but rather to simply point out what he actually taught when taking into consideration the entirety of his work, and not simply selected sections from the Institutes.

    And to say that justification flows from union rather than the other way does not do away with the strictly forensic character of justification, it is simply to make it clear that our justification comes through our being united to Christ. Yes, it is a declaration. But it is a declaration based on a reality: namely, we are truly one with He whose righteousness is imputed to us.

  8. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    July 20, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Dr. Keister (or others),

    Any thoughts on where Dr. Tipton falls in relation to the views of Dr. Gaffin on this matter? Do you think they are substantially the same on union and its relationship to the justification and sactification?

    Having not read or heard much from Tipton on union yet, I am slightly curious.

  9. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    July 20, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    oops… should have addressed you “Rev. Keister”… sorry…

  10. July 20, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Jonathan,

    Yes, Tipton and Gaffin I suspect agree. Tipton has written an article in Justified by Christ (the WTS book on Justification) where he argues the same thing that Gaffin does with respect to the relationship of justif/sanct and union. He also has an audio where he discusses it online found here: http://www.theologian.org.uk/doctrine/lanetipton.html

  11. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    July 20, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Rev. Keister,

    Can you recommend a good book to read on this subject?

  12. Roger Mann said,

    July 20, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    7. Jonathan wrote,

    Fine then… you think Calvin is confused and wrong. But I wasn’t attempting to place Calvin’s views on the table for scrutiny per se, but rather to simply point out what he actually taught when taking into consideration the entirety of his work, and not simply selected sections from the Institutes.

    Yes, I was aware of that. I just took the liberty to make a brief side comment on the assumption that your quote from Calvin accurately represented his view. I’d have to personally conduct a major study of the “entirety of his work” in order to know whether you’re accurately summarizing Calvin’s position or not.

    And to say that justification flows from union rather than the other way does not do away with the strictly forensic character of justification, it is simply to make it clear that our justification comes through our being united to Christ. Yes, it is a declaration. But it is a declaration based on a reality: namely, we are truly one with He whose righteousness is imputed to us.

    If justification is one of the benefits of Christ that we receive by the Spirit “transfusing eternal life into us,” then it most certainly conflicts with the strictly imputative and forensic character of justification. As I stated above, “Justification is a purely mental act wherein God accounts, credits, or reckons a sinner to be righteous in Christ. It is something that takes place within the mind of God and is wholly outside of us…it is not a transient act terminating on an external subject, producing any real or inherent change in us, as the acts of regeneration, sanctification and glorification are.” Thus, justification is most definitely “based on a reality” — it is based solely on the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, the purely mental act of God wholly outside of us wherein He reckons and declares a sinner to be righteous in Christ.

    Moreover, were we not “truly one” with Christ long before we were existentially united to Him through regeneration and Spirit baptism? Were we not “chosen in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4) and “given” to Christ by the Father from all eternity (John 6:38-39)? As the Larger Catechism puts it, “The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed” (WLC 31), which took place in the eternal counsel of the Godhead. So I’m not sure why you feel that existential union in time is the necessary precondition for justification to be “based on a reality.”

  13. Jeff Waddington said,

    July 20, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    You might benefit from actually reading Reformed theologians who understand justification as a benefit of union. This is standard. Sorry if it bothers some here. But get over it. And one should not assume that union with Christ simply is sanctification. That is erroneous. Try reading Walter Marshall, John Flavel, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards. Do your homework and then come back and comment.

  14. Manlius said,

    July 20, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Roger: Your comment (12) is very puzzling from a Reformed point of view. Wouldn’t you say that faith is a precondition for justification and that faith happens “in time”? Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you’re arguing for “justification by predestination alone.” This is not confessionally Reformed or biblical.

  15. Vern Crisler said,

    July 20, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Re: #3, quick note:

    Jonathan said: Calvin’s doctrine of union is most fully laid out in his sacramental writings. It seems somewhat irresponsible to me to make such a statement as union with Christ is “not a well thought out doctrine for Calvin” while neglecting to make any mention of his formulation of this doctrine within the context of his writings on the sacraments, and most specifically in his treatises against Westphal and Heshuss.

    Vern: Hi Jonathan. Personally, I think it’s irresponsible of Unionists to distort Calvin’s teaching on this subject. As Tom Wenger said, Calvin must be interpreted correctly: “When union is permitted to blur the distinctions that are crucial to Reformed theology, like the relationship of justification and sanctification, it causes serious problems.”

    I see nothing at all in Calvin’s teachings on the sacraments that show he had a developed — much less a Gaffinite — conception of union. By that I mean that he did not spend a lot of time discussing union in relation to the ordo, and where he does discuss it, he clearly argues that union is a result of justification:

    “Thus, him who he receives into union with himself the Lord is said to justify, because he cannot receive him into grace nor join him to himself unless he turns him from a sinner into a righteous man. We add that this is done through forgiveness of sins.” (Inst. Sec. 21, p. 751.)

    What is it about Calvin’s statement above that you and other Unionists don’t understand, Jonathan? Are you going to ignore it and wish it away. It destroys the whole New Perspective on Calvin fad in one fell swoop.

    Gotta go,

    Vern

  16. Kyle said,

    July 20, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Roger, re: 5,

    I still intend to get back to our exchange in the previous discussion!

    Vern, re: 15,

    Calvin in that passage is speaking of union with God qua God, not union with Christ qua Mediator. Here’s some of what Calvin has to say concerning union with Christ qua mediator in the same book:

    “First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. Therefore, to share with us what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell within us. For this reason, he is called ‘our Head,’ and ‘the first-born among many brethren.’ We also, in turn, are said to be ‘engrafted into him,’ and ‘to put on Christ;’ for, as I have said, all that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with him” (Institutes 3.1.1, p. 537).

    “Therefore, that joining together of Head and members, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts – in short, that mystical union – are accorded by us the highest degree of importance, so that Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with him in the gifts with which he has been endowed. We do not, therefore, contemplate him outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us but because we put on Christ and are engrafted into his body – in short, because he deigns to make us one with him” (Institutes 3.11.10, p. 737).

    Do you wish, then, to attain righteousness in Christ? You must first possess Christ; but you cannot possess him without being made partaker in his sanctification, because he cannot be divided into pieces. Since, therefore, it is solely by expending himself that the Lord gives us these benefits to enjoy, he bestows both of them at the same time, the one never without the other. Thus it is clear how true it is that we are justified not without works yet not through works, since in our sharing in Christ, which justifies us, sanctification is just as much included as righteousness” (Institutes 3.16.1, p. 798).

    Indeed, just two sections after your quote, Calvin writes:

    “You see that our righteousness is not in us but in Christ, that we possess it only because we are partakers in Christ; indeed, with him we possess all its riches” (Institutes 3.11.23, p. 753).

    (I refer the reader to WSC Q&A 30.)

    It is precisely because Christ is the God-Man who mediates between God and man that we can be united to Christ. Thus united to Christ, we are justified because we partake in all of the benefits of His mediation, and being so justified we are reconciled to God and brought into union with the Divine.

  17. ReformedSinner said,

    July 20, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Q: is Tipton and Gaffin on the same page in the “union of Christ” teaching?

    My A: from Tipton’s class he specifically taught on the Doctrine of Union with Christ and I have to say it elaborates and supplements very well with Dr. Gaffin’s formulations. If there is a difference he didn’t note it there.

  18. Roger Mann said,

    July 21, 2008 at 12:18 am

    14. Manlius wrote,

    Roger: Your comment (12) is very puzzling from a Reformed point of view. Wouldn’t you say that faith is a precondition for justification and that faith happens “in time”? Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you’re arguing for “justification by predestination alone.” This is not confessionally Reformed or biblical.

    Referring to Christ’s death on the cross, Scripture says that we are “justified by His blood” (Rom. 5:9), and that in God’s estimation Christ was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 1:8). So justification clearly precedes faith in the eternal mind of God. Indeed, in the case of elect infants dying in infancy and those who are mentally incapable of believing the gospel, God justifies them apart from faith. This could not be the case if faith (i.e., belief in the propositions of the gospel) was the necessary “precondition for justification.”

    Moreover, as I’ve pointed out several times now, “Justification is a purely mental act wherein God accounts, credits, or reckons a sinner to be righteous in Christ. It is something that takes place within the mind of God and is wholly outside of us…it is not a transient act terminating on an external subject, producing any real or inherent change in us, as the acts of regeneration, sanctification and glorification are.” And if justification is an immanent or internal act of God’s mind, then it must essentially be an eternal act of God’s mind, as God is not subject to a temporal succession of thoughts as we are. As John Gill points out, “was justification, as the papists say, by an infusion of inherent righteousness in men [which takes place in time], there would be some strength in the objection; but this is not the case, and therefore there is none in it.”

    Of course, there is a sense in which we are justified by faith in time (i.e., when justification is published to our consciousness), as Scripture amply testifies. But this in no way contradicts or disproves the above points, as John Gill explains:

    “Those scriptures which speak of justification, through and by faith, do not militate against, nor disprove justification before faith; for though justification by and before faith differ, yet they are not opposite and contradictory. They differ, the one being an immanent act in God; all which sort of acts are eternal, and so before faith; the other being a transient declarative act, terminating on the conscience of the believer; and so is by and through faith, and follows it. But then these do not contradict each other, the one being a declaration and manifestation of the other. What scriptures may be thought to speak of faith, as a prerequisite to justification, cannot be understood as speaking of it as a prerequisite to the being of justification; for faith has no causal influence upon it, it adds nothing to its being, it is no ingredient in it, it is not the cause nor matter of it; at most, they can only be understood as speaking of faith as a prerequisite to the knowledge and comfort of it, and to a claim of interest in it; and this is readily allowed, that no man is evidentially and declaratively justified until he believes; that is, he cannot have the knowledge of it, nor any comfort from it; nor can he claim his interest in it, without faith; and this being observed, obviates another objection, that if justification is before faith, then faith is needless and useless. It is not so; it is not of use to justify men, which it is never said to do; but it is of use to receive the blessing of justification, and to enjoy the comfort of it.”

    “Faith adds nothing to the ‘esse’ only to the ‘bene esse’ of justification; it is no part of, nor any ingredient in it; it is a complete act in the eternal mind of God, without the being or consideration of faith, or any foresight of it; a man is as much justified before as after it, in the account of God; and after he does believe, his justification does not depend on his acts of faith; for though ‘we believe not, yet he abides faithful’; that is, God is faithful to his covenant engagements with his Son, as their Surety, by whose suretyship righteousness they are justified; but by faith men have a comfortable sense, perception and apprehension of their justification, and enjoy that peace of soul which results from it; it is by that only, under the testimony of the divine Spirit, that they know their interest in it, and can claim it, and so have the comfort of it.

    And Abraham Kuyper adds:

    “There is undoubtedly a moment in our life when for the first time justification is published to our consciousness; but let us be careful to distinguish justification itself from its publication. Our Christian name was selected for and applied to us long before we, with clear consciousness, knew it as our name; and although there was a moment in which it became a living reality to us and was called out for the first time in the ear of our consciousness, yet no man will be so foolish as to imagine that it was then that he actually received that name. And so it is here. There is a certain moment wherein that justification becomes to our consciousness a living fact; but in order to become a living fact, it must have existed before. It does not spring from our consciousness, but it is mirrored in it, and hence must have being and stature in itself. Even an elect infant which dies in the cradle is declared just, though the knowledge or consciousness of its justification never penetrated its soul. And elect persons, converted, like the thief on the cross, with their last breath, can scarcely be sensible of their justification, and yet enter eternal life exclusively on the ground of their justification. Taking an analogy from daily life, a man condemned during his absence in foreign lands was granted pardon through the intercession of his friends, wholly without his knowledge. Does this pardon take effect when long afterward the good news reaches him, or when the king signs his pardon? Of course the latter. Even so does the justification of God’s children take effect, not on the day when for the first time it is published to their consciousness, but at the moment that God in His holy judgment-seat declares them just.”

  19. Vern Crisler said,

    July 21, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Well, arguing with Unionists is about as productive as arguing with FVists. They’ve made up their minds, despite Calvin’s clear teaching that justification is what makes union possible. If they ignore Calvin’s own ordo, what’s the point of continuing the argument?

    Vern

  20. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    July 21, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Roger,

    I have to reitterate what Jeff has said (#13). You don’t seem to really get what Calvin and those who follow his teaching on union with Christ are saying. Justification is always a forensic declaration, and does not itself produce a change in the justified sinner. Mark Garcia himself in the interview linked here clearly states this. What produces change is our union with Christ, from which all the benefits of redemption come to us.

  21. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    July 21, 2008 at 6:46 am

    Vern,

    We can sit here and toss around our favorite Calvin quotes all day long. I disagree with you that Calvin did not have a developed understanding of union. I have been clear that his emphasis on union does not serve to blur the vital distinction between justification and sanctification. It holds them to be distinct benefits received by us through union with Christ. This does not blur the distinction anymore than saying that Jesus Christ is both God and man united in one person blurs the distinction between his divine and human natures. As Calvin is always telling us with reference to Christ, redemption, and the sacraments, we must clearly, but never separate.

    You said: “arguing with Unionists is about as productive as arguing with FVists. They’ve made up their minds.”

    I’d encourage you, brother, to look at your own comments on this thread. You haven’t interacted with the points I made, but simply dismissed them, saying basically that you see no warrant in them. (and no one has yet really interacted with the two quotes I offered on the “Friendly Response..” thread.) How is this productive? How is it the case that you have not “made up your mind” also? I and many others think Calvin’s views on this subject are just as clear as you think they are. When, for instance, we read Calvin saying in that passage which Kyle has always cited (but which bears repeating)…

    “I confess that we are deprived of this blessing [justification] until Christ is made ours. Therefore, that joining together of head and members, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts–in short, that mystical union–are accorded by us the highest degree of importance, so that Christ, having been made our, makes us sharers with him in the gifts with which he has been endowed. We do not, therefore, contemplate him outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us but because we put on Christ and are engrafter into his body–in short, because he deigns to make us one with him. FOR THIS REASON, we glory that we have fellowship of righteousness with him.”

    …we see him as being quite clear, consistent, and even profound. You seem to read him as unclear, inconsistent, and confused. I say that this is nothing but an insulting charge to make against such a great doctor of our Church without any substantial backing other than “this is what I think is so clear”, especially when said thinker is quite persistent on this very point.

    I ask you the same question you ask us: what is it about Calvin’s statement that you don’t understand? I’m thankful to see that Kyle has given you a quite satisfactory answer for the passage you marshalled forth. Do you have an answer for Inst. 3.11.10?

  22. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    July 21, 2008 at 6:53 am

    The last sentece of par. 1 should be “we must clearly distinguish…” And the last sentence of my second full par. should read, “…that passage which Kyle has ALREADY cited…”

    Sorry… typing while eating my cereal. :-)

  23. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    July 21, 2008 at 7:00 am

    and btw, Vern… it is quite misleading to style what the (to use your term) “unionists” are saying here as the “new perspective on Calvin.” The interpretation of Calvin on union wasn’t really a point of lengthy exposition until the nineteenth century, when we can see scholars on both sides arguing for two different perspectives on Calvin’s teaching concerning union. (See, for instance, the interaction between Charles Hodge and John Nevin on these very points. I love Hodge, but he didn’t have any answers for Nevin’s exposition of Calvin.). So, it really is as old as the perspective which you seem to think is the “Old Perspective.”

  24. greenbaggins said,

    July 21, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Benjamin, I would advocate reading Mark Garcia’s book. It is pricey, but worth it.

  25. Roger Mann said,

    July 21, 2008 at 10:17 am

    13. Jeff wrote,

    You might benefit from actually reading Reformed theologians who understand justification as a benefit of union. This is standard. Sorry if it bothers some here. But get over it… Do your homework and then come back and comment.

    And you might benefit from actually addressing the points I’ve raised instead of arrogantly assuming your own intellectual superiority over my perceived ignorance. Figure out how to answer my arguments and then come back and comment. Sorry if that bothers you. But get over it.

  26. Roger Mann said,

    July 21, 2008 at 10:41 am

    20. Jonathan wrote,

    I have to reitterate what Jeff has said (#13). You don’t seem to really get what Calvin and those who follow his teaching on union with Christ are saying.

    Or perhaps I get it and just don’t agree with it? No, that couldn’t possibly be the case. I must just be ignorant and dimwitted.

    Justification is always a forensic declaration, and does not itself produce a change in the justified sinner. Mark Garcia himself in the interview linked here clearly states this. What produces change is our union with Christ, from which all the benefits of redemption come to us.

    If justification is always a “forensic declaration,” an immanent or internal act of God’s mind, then it must essentially be an eternal act of God’s mind, as God is not subject to a temporal succession of thoughts as we are. While our vital or existential union with Christ in time certainly “produces change” within us (e.g., regeneration, sanctification, glorification), it doesn’t “produce a change” in the eternal nature of God’s thoughts. And since justification “does not itself produce a change in the justified sinner” (as you yourself acknowledge), then it must be solely an immanent and eternal act of God’s mind as I have pointed out.

  27. Manlius said,

    July 21, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Roger: Are the elect born already justified? Should a preacher who says “repent and be baptized” also say to those same people that they may already be justified if they are elect?

    What you have argued here is really confusing not just in terms of Reformed Xy, but biblical and ecumenically orthodox Xy as well. You’re coming to a point where you may have to reassure us that you’re not a hypercalvinist.

  28. Jeff Waddington said,

    July 21, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Roger (25)

    I do not assume intellectual superiority over you. I assume that you should take the time to actually read people before you criticize them.

  29. Roger Mann said,

    July 21, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Jeff,

    Then you shouldn’t assume that I haven’t read what many of these authors have written, since you know nothing about what I have or haven’t read. Perhaps you should answer some of the points I’ve raised, rather than arrogantly assuming things you have no clue about.

  30. Roger Mann said,

    July 21, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    27. Manlius wrote,

    Roger: Are the elect born already justified? Should a preacher who says “repent and be baptized” also say to those same people that they may already be justified if they are elect?

    I’m not sure how these new questions answer any of the points I’ve raised so far, but I’ll address them anyway. “Are the elect born already justified?” It depends on what covenant head they are being viewed from. In order to save my self some time I’ll simply quote Gill again, as he has already answered these types of questions several hundred years ago:

    “And now, to remove this seeming difficulty, let it be observed, that the elect of God may be considered under two different “heads”, Adam and Christ, and as related to two covenants at one and the same time; as they are the descendants of Adam, they are related to him as a covenant head, and as such, sinned in him, and judgment came upon them all to condemnation and death, and so they are, by nature, children of wrath, even as others. But as considered in Christ, they are loved with an everlasting love, chosen in him before the world was, and always viewed and accounted righteous in him, and so secured from everlasting wrath and damnation; hence it is no contradiction to say, that the elect of God, as in Adam, and according to the covenant of works, are under the sentence of condemnation; and that as in Christ, and according to the covenant of grace, and the secret transactions thereof, they are justified, and saved from condemnation. This is no more a contradiction, than that they were loved with an everlasting love, and yet are children of wrath, at one and the same time, as they most certainly are; nor than that Jesus Christ was the object of his Father’s love and wrath at the same time, he sustaining two different capacities, and standing in two different relations, when he suffered in the room and stead of his people; as the Son of God he was always the object of his love; as the Surety of his people, bearing their sins, and suffering for them, he was the object of his wrath, (Ps. 89:38).”

    Moreover, I’m only referring to the essence of justification here, as it is an immanent and eternal act wholly within the divine mind; I’m not referring to our personal reception and enjoyment of its blessings in time. As Gill observes:

    “What scriptures may be thought to speak of faith, as a prerequisite to justification, cannot be understood as speaking of it as a prerequisite to the being of justification; for faith has no causal influence upon it, it adds nothing to its being, it is no ingredient in it, it is not the cause nor matter of it; at most, they can only be understood as speaking of faith as a prerequisite to the knowledge and comfort of it, and to a claim of interest in it; and this is readily allowed, that no man is evidentially and declaratively justified until he believes; that is, he cannot have the knowledge of it, nor any comfort from it; nor can he claim his interest in it, without faith; and this being observed, obviates another objection, that if justification is before faith, then faith is needless and useless. It is not so; it is not of use to justify men, which it is never said to do; but it is of use to receive the blessing of justification, and to enjoy the comfort of it.”

    “Justification, as a transient act, and declarative [terminating on the consciousness of a believer], follows calling; but as an immanent act in God, it goes before it, of which we are only speaking, as ought always to be remembered.”

    “…but by faith men have a comfortable sense, perception and apprehension of their justification, and enjoy that peace of soul which results from it; it is by that only, under the testimony of the divine Spirit, that they know their interest in it, and can claim it, and so have the comfort of it.”

    What you have argued here is really confusing not just in terms of Reformed Xy, but biblical and ecumenically orthodox Xy as well. You’re coming to a point where you may have to reassure us that you’re not a hypercalvinist.

    Were Twisse, Kuyper, and Gill hypercalvinists? Or how about the other Reformed divines mentioned by Gill in the following quote? If so, then I suppose I should be classed among them, as I agree with their arguments on this point as well:

    “All the elect of God were justified in Christ, their Head and Representative, when he rose from the dead, and therefore they believe: Christ engaged as a Surety for all his people from eternity, had their sins imputed to him, and for which he made himself responsible; in the fulness of time he made satisfaction for them by his sufferings and death, and at his resurrection was acquitted and discharged: now as he suffered and died, not as a private, but as a public person, so he rose again, and was justified as such, even as the representative of his people; hence when he rose, they rose with him; and when he was justified, they were justified in him; for he was “delivered for their offences, and was raised again for their justification”, (Rom. 4:25; 1 Tim. 3:16) and this is the sense and judgment of many sound and learned divines; as, besides our Sandfords and Dr. Goodwins, the learned Amesius, Hoornbeck, Witsius, and others.”

  31. Manlius said,

    July 21, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Roger: If you’re going to view justification only from the perspective of God’s eternal decree, then why can’t you do that with union as well? I don’t understand why you’re so interested in viewing justification in terms of election but not doing the same with any other benefit of redemption.

    If we’re talking eternal decrees, then let’s keep it there. If we’re talking about “in time”, then let’s do that. You seem to suggest that the only legitimate way to discuss justification is from the perspective of divine, eternal decree.

    Perhaps I’m just not getting you. That’s all I’ll say about it, I guess. Peace.

  32. Jeff Waddington said,

    July 21, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    (29) Roger

    It works both ways.

  33. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    July 21, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I’d second what Manlius has said in 31. We were originally talking here about the working out of redemption in time, not the eternal decree. Shifting the focus only causes undue confusion. All the Reformed would agree that the accomplishment and application of redemption in history has its foundation in the eternal decree. That is not at issue in this discussion.

    But even so, if we are wanting to talk about about eternal decree, then our argument wouldn’t change much, since union has its foundation in the divine decree no less than justification: we were chosen and given all spiritual blessings *in Christ* before the foundation of the world. Bavinck, for one, argues precisely this way when treating union in his Dogmatics, vol. 3.

    The way these benefits are received by us in time occur in the same way: we are placed into union with Christ by the Spirit (who is the bond of our union), on the basis of which union we are justified–having Christ’s righteousness imputed to his–and sanctified, having Christ’s life communicated to us.

  34. Roger Mann said,

    July 21, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    31. Manlius wrote,

    Roger: If you’re going to view justification only from the perspective of God’s eternal decree, then why can’t you do that with union as well?

    I’m not viewing justification “only” from the perspective of God’s eternal decree; I’m merely pointing out that our federal union and justification in the eternal mind of God precedes our existential union and justification by faith in time. Thus, justification in its essential character does not logically or temporally follow our existential union with Christ in time (i.e., effectual calling, regeneration, baptism by the Spirit, sanctification, glorification, etc.).

    I don’t understand why you’re so interested in viewing justification in terms of election but not doing the same with any other benefit of redemption.

    Because not all the benefits of Christ are immanent and eternal acts within the divine mind — many, such as regeneration, sanctification, and glorification take place within us in time. The same can be said for justification when viewed from its secondary temporal aspect:

    “Justification, as a transient act, and declarative [terminating on the conscience of a believer], follows calling [and takes place in time]; but as an immanent act in God, it goes before it, of which we are only speaking, as ought always to be remembered.”

    If we’re talking eternal decrees, then let’s keep it there. If we’re talking about “in time”, then let’s do that. You seem to suggest that the only legitimate way to discuss justification is from the perspective of divine, eternal decree.

    The above quote from John Gill should put to rest any notion that I’m claiming “the only legitimate way to discuss justification is from the perspective of divine, eternal decree.” But there is no doubt that justification in its essential character within the eternal mind of God takes priority over any temporal manifestation of it. The entire point I’ve been getting at is summed up by Gill:

    “In a word, the sentence of justification pronounced on Christ, the representative of his people, when he rose from the dead, and that which is pronounced by the Spirit of God in the consciences of believers, and that which will be pronounced before men and angels at the general judgment, are only so many repetitions, or renewed declarations, of that grand original sentence of it, conceived in the mind of God from all eternity; which is the eternal justification pleaded for; and is no other than what many eminent divines of the highest character for learning and judgment, have asserted, as before observed; and it is to such as these Dr. Owen (Doctrine of Justification vindicated from the animadversions of R. B. p. 9.) refers, when he replied to Mr. Baxter, who charged him with holding eternal justification; “I neither am, nor ever was of that judgment; though as it may be explained, I know better, wiser, and more learned men than myself, (and he might have added, than Mr. Baxter,) that have been, and are.”

    Most, if not all, of the confusion in this discussion is eliminated when these careful distinctions between the twofold nature of our “union” and “justification” in Christ are maintained. We are actively justified by God ad infra (as an immanent and eternal act in the mind of God) both logically and temporally prior to our existential union with Christ by faith. But we are not passively justified by God ad extra (as a transient and temporal act terminating upon our conscience) until we are reborn by the Spirit of God and personally believe the gospel message.

  35. Roger Mann said,

    July 21, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    33. Jonathan wrote,

    But even so, if we are wanting to talk about eternal decree, then our argument wouldn’t change much, since union has its foundation in the divine decree no less than justification: we were chosen and given all spiritual blessings *in Christ* before the foundation of the world.

    Yes, that is true. We were chosen and given all spiritual blessings in Christ from all eternity (Eph. 1:3-4; 2 Tim. 1:9). But stating that doesn’t answer the question of logical priority. For example, when Scripture says that we were “chosen in Him” (Eph. 1:4) from all eternity, does this mean that our federal union with Christ logically precedes our election, or that our election logically precedes our federal union? The latter makes the most sense to me. Likewise, when we say that God regards us as “righteous in Christ” from all eternity (as an immanent and eternal act of His mind), does this mean that our federal union with Christ logically precedes our justification, or that our justification logically precedes our federal union? The latter makes the most sense to me (although I’m open to good arguments for the alternate view and am in no way dogmatic here). The former view seems to suggest that we are federally united to Christ as unrighteous and in a state of condemnation. And that seems totally contrary to God’s absolute purity and holiness — that ungodly sinners viewed as sinners are federally united to Christ logically prior to being imputed with His righteousness in the eternal mind of God.

  36. Matt Beatty said,

    July 21, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    An interesting discussion all the way around. Mr. Waddington, I don’t know you, but I saw your picture in a recent issue of New Horizons. I think I recall seeing that you were a recently ordained (installed?) pastor within the OPC? If that’s true (and even if it isn’t quite…), I’d encourage you to look more closely at you how – a man called to teach others, by word and EXAMPLE, to “avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and bto show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

    You tell Roger (and others?) to “get over it” in a snarky comment that every casual observer would readily identify as impugning the man’s theological understanding, whether by omission or misunderstanding. Then, when he calls you on it, you simply say, “Cuts both ways.” Or, as my seven year-old son says when attempting to extricate himself from a difficult situation, “He did it too!”

    You and you alone are responsible for your words, Mr. Waddington. [For what its worth, you (and the other “unionists”) clearly have the better argument to my mind.] What shame that these interactions have to sour so quickly and become ad hominem and accusatory.

    I just listened to a colloquium on the sacraments at the PCA’s general assembly. I know enough of the background of the debates on sacramental efficacy that Rob Rayburn, Jeff Meyers, and Lig Duncan aren’t of one mind (by a long shot), and yet things were very brotherly and civil… possibly even loving. Perhaps we should forgo all internet “debate” (accusations) until we can more closely approximate this sort of exchange.

    That’s my $.02, Mr. Waddington. Take it for what its worth.

  37. Jeff Waddington said,

    July 21, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    (36) Matthew

    I apologize to Roger if I have offended him. My initial response was not aimed at Roger or anyone in particular. It was a general comment about the nature of these kinds of debates. However my subsequent comments were in response to Roger and they were curt. I will strive to do better.

  38. Roger Mann said,

    July 22, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Thank you Jeff. Apology accepted.

    Roger

  39. Jeff Waddington said,

    July 22, 2008 at 9:56 am

    (39)

    Roger:

    Thank you too brother!

  40. Jeff Waddington said,

    July 22, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Folks:

    I am reminded of J. Gresham Machen’s dying words to John Murray that he was so thankful for the active obedience of Christ and had no hope without it.

    Amen and amen!

  41. Matt Beatty said,

    July 22, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Mr. Waddington,

    Bless you, brother!

    In all sincerity, what is it about the ACTIVE obedience of Christ that brought Machen such comfort on his deathbed over/against Christ’s PASSIVE? Or, even just to say, “I’m thankful for Christ’s obedience…”

    Thanks,
    Matt

  42. Jeff Waddington said,

    July 22, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Matt (41)

    Well, I am drawing on my memory here. But Machen and Murray apparently had many discussions about this topic and Murray seems to have helped Machen come to see the beauty of having Christ’s active obedience imputed to him.

    Christ’s passive obedience is his taking our sin upon himself. Not many dispute that. But God’s expectation and demand of perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience to his will was not set aside with the fall. In other words, Adam ended up with two interrelated problems. He had to continue to obey God as he was expected to do as a mere creature of God (personally, perfectly, and perpetually) and he had to now offer reparation or satisfaction for having broken God’s law. So he was in a bind. And we are too. So Christ’s passive obedience answers to the owing reparation and the active obedience answers to the abiding demand for perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience. Without the active obedience it would be the case that we would have to provide that perfect obedience.

    You are correct to note that these are not really two obediences, but one obedience considered from two angles.

  43. Manlius said,

    July 22, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Active obedience is a nice concept and all that … now only if it were found in the Bible. :)

  44. Manlius said,

    July 22, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Sorry. Should have said “imputation of active obedience.” That Christ was actively obedient is, of course, beyond question.

  45. GLW Johnson said,

    July 22, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    It was only a matter of time before the Federal Visionists decided to bring up their opposition to the doctrine of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ and import their own brand of Union with Christ- and then imply that what Gaffin & co. are saying comports with their views.

  46. Manlius said,

    July 22, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    GLW: what are you saying here, that I’m a Federal Visionist? For the record, I’m not. I’ve never really heard an adequate or consistent description of what FV actually is, so it would be hard for me to subscribe to it. In any case, I don’t express my theology the way the prominent FVers seem to do. I don’t even claim to be confessionally Reformed, though I am broadly Reformed and have great respect for the Reformed confessions. (BTW, as a Congregationalist I love the Savoy Declaration of Faith, and the SDF amended the WCF (thanks to Owen) to be much more explicit in its support of IAO. I think I can still love Owen and the SDF without agreeing on everything, right?).

    It’s quite odd that you would would feel free to make such an (erroneous) assumption.

  47. GLW Johnson said,

    July 22, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Manlius
    You sounded like a FVer-and Lane can testify that your language echos a standard FV line.

  48. Manlius said,

    July 22, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    What language is that? Seriously, I’d like to know! :)

    I’ll admit that I’m not that troubled by most of the FV stuff I hear and will probably aggravate you by saying that my Gaffinized-WTS education has something to do with that, but I think I approach theology at a distinctly different angle than they do.

    In some ways I’m probably closer to this blog than the FVers, and in other ways I’m even farther away (hence my inability to subscribe to the WCF and be part of the OPC or PCA.)

  49. GLW Johnson said,

    July 22, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    I too, am a WTS product.Is Manlius your real name? Calling all witnesses, calling all witnesses to confirm my comment in #47.That is all.

  50. Manlius said,

    July 22, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    How does what I said confirm your comment #47? I am not an FVer, so you were plainly wrong.

  51. Manlius said,

    July 22, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    And yes, Manlius is my real middle name. My more complete name is Alexander M. Burgess.

  52. ReformedSinner said,

    July 22, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    #19

    “Well, arguing with Unionists is about as productive as arguing with FVists. They’ve made up their minds, despite Calvin’s clear teaching that justification is what makes union possible. If they ignore Calvin’s own ordo, what’s the point of continuing the argument?”

    Many possible reasons for that Vern:

    1) As you said maybe we’re a bunch of arrogant believers.

    2) You misread Calvin (and the Bible) and refuse to respect our counter arguments.

    As you can see it’s not as black and white is it?

  53. ReformedSinner said,

    July 22, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    #43,

    There are many but I’ll start with one (others feel free to jump in)

    1 Cor. 1:30

    Christ has become for us “wisdom” and not just intellectually defined but Biblically defined “wisdom.” It’s only in Christ’s becoming wisdom for us that we have “righteousness, holiness, and redemption.”

  54. its.reed said,

    July 23, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Ref. #50:

    Manlius:

    I think Gary’s call for witnesses in #47 was actually for others on the blog to affirm his observatin about your comments and their affinity with FV formulations.

    Without labeling you an FV’er (I don’t think Gary is either), I would affirm Gary’s point. Much of your language has at the very least a formal similarity with the types of arguments and language used by FV’ers.

    From what else you’ve said however, it may simply be that this similarity is incidental verses consequential (is that the right way to put it?). I.e., as with all such discussions, further clarification may reveal that what at first appeared to be a duck was, upon closer inspection, actually a swan.

  55. Manlius said,

    July 23, 2008 at 10:09 am

    My theological perspective is probably a little different than most who blog here, and while I’m not FV, perhaps my arguments will sound that way to some. So be it. It doesn’t really bother me one way or the other. As long as people interact with my arguments (as I humbly hope to do with theirs), let the labels fall where they may. My concern with GLW’s comment was that people would assume I’m FV and stop listening. That’s why I put it on the table that I’m a non-confessionally Reformed Congregationalist. In no way am I pretending to be someone who stands within the OPC/PCA tradition.

    I’ll admit that my comment on IAO was meant to be a little mischievous, but it was honestly meant in a good-natured way (hence the little smiley face I included at the end of it) to remind everybody that there are other perspectives on the matter. Perhaps it was that provocation which encouraged GLW’s erroneous labelling, particularly because most FVers are critical of IAO. I’ll take some responsibility for that and also say that I’m sorry for this needless distraction from what has been an interesting discussion.

    As for your final point, reed, I doubt many on this blog will conclude that I’m a swan, but all I ask is that you don’t mind putting up with my squawking, whatever bird variety I happen to be. :)

  56. its.reed said,

    July 23, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    honk, honk :)

  57. greenbaggins said,

    July 23, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Manlius, what is primarily required of a poster in order to be heard properly is a thoughtful, irenic manner. Denial of the IAOC is quite problematic in my opinion, and is the position of some of the FV’ers. Not all of them deny it, interestingly. Mark Horne and Doug Wilson affirm it, for instance. According to the Joint Statement of the FV, the denial of the IAOC does not constitute one of the agree-upon points. Nevertheless, there are different forms of said denial, some of which go only as far as Piscator, whereas some go as far as Norman Shepherd. One must be nuanced and careful about something like this. Denial of the IAOC is a commonplace among the FV’ers, however.

  58. Tom Wenger said,

    July 24, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    This is not a reply to any particualr individual, but simply some observations about this topic in general.

    I wish that more people involved with this discussion took the time to realize that we don’t have to choose between “union” or legal foundations for our salvation but that the Pactum Salutis establishes the legal/covenantal foundation for why we are united to Chris, and union with Him is the means by which we can share in all His saving benefits. But at the same time there is an organic relationship between these saving benefits which permits and even encourages discussing a flow from justification to sanctification which is not, as Garcia and others unfairly allege, a non-reformed, Lutheran formulation. Garcia’s attempt to accuse those who use this language of forcing justification into non-forensic categories is extremely irresponsible.

    Calvin often uses language of justification being a “foundation” for piety and good works, as does the bulk of the Reformed tradition.

    Just listen to Vos and Bavinck:

    “From the carrying through of the forensic scheme in the work of Christ follows the same chain of consequences with the same absolute necessity. The atonement must issue into justification, justification must issue into the gift of the Spirit, the gift of the Spirit must issue into the complete renewal and glorification of man.”
    [Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos, ed. Richard Gaffin (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1980), 360.]

    “Naturally, the problem becomes most accentuated where it touches the center of Paul’s teaching. This, we may still insist, is the doctrine of justification. Recent attempts to dislodge it and to make the mystical aspect of the believer’s relation to Christ, as mediated by the Spirit, entirely coordinated with it-we cannot recognize as correct from the apostle’s own point of view. In our opinion Paul consciously and consistently subordinated the mystical aspect of the relation to Christ to the forensic one. Paul’s mind was to such an extent forensically oriented that he regarded the entire complex of subjective spiritual changes that take place in the believer as the direct outcome of the forensic work of Christ applied in justification.”
    [Vos, Ibid., 384.]

    “Justification is able to produce all these splendid fruits… Among Catholics justification is a process equipping people for a moral purpose; among Protestants, it is the restoration of the religious relationship with God. THE LATTER MUST COME FIRST BEFORE THERE CAN EVEN BE A TRULY CHRISTIAN LIFE. As long as we still stand before God as judge, seek life by conformity to the law, and are obsessed with the fear of death, that love is not in us which is the fruit of faith, the fulfillments of the law, the bond of perfection , which casts out all fear. But if in justification we have been granted peace with God, sonship, free and certain access to the throne of grace, freedom from the law, and independence from the world, then from this faith will naturally flow a stream of good works.”
    [Herman Bavinck Reformed Dogmatics: Vol 4, Holy Spirit, Church and New Creation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 227-229]

    Though Garcia would have you believe that formulae like these force Christ to remain extra nos, this is just standard fare for confessional Reformed orthodoxy. Sure, it might not achieve Trumper’s dream of “constructive Calvinism” but least it’s coherent and Scriptural.

  59. October 27, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    […] the trajectory of this concerns me, I trust Reverend Keister’s explanation of this on his blog: Interview With Mark Garcia Green Baggins Someone once told me that if you cannot explain to someone on the street the business of a company […]

  60. james said,

    February 27, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I know this is a late contribution, but I thought Cornel Venema’s book on Calvin and the Twofold Grace of God (Accepted and Renewed in Christ by Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht), and his current review of Garcia’s book in the OPC’s New Horizons hit the nail on the head on the inter-relationship of union with Christ and the two fold grace of justification and sanctification.

    In New Horizons, Venema writes: “Students of Calvin and the Reformation will find much value in Garcia’s study [Venema reviewed this book very well, astutely and charitably in my opinion]…Although believers who are united to Christ enjoy free justification on the basis of Christ’s righteousness alone, which is received by faith alone, they are simultaneously and necessarily renewed after the image of Jesus Christ…However, Garcia may overstate his case. Although Calvin undoubtedly insists on the inseperability of justification and sanctification in the framework of union with Christ, HE DOES EMPHASIZE THE PRIORITY OF JUSTIFICATION in two significant respects. First, Calvin speaks of justification as the “main hinge of the Christian religion” in Book 3 of his Institutes. He frequently speaks of justification as the “first” or “principal” benefit of saving union with Christ. And second, contrary to Garcia’s thesis, Calvin DOES TREAT SANCTIFICATION AS THE “FRUIT” OR “EFFECT” OF JUSTIFICATION. ALTHOUGH CALVIN ALWAYS REGARDS JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION AS “SIMULTANEOUS” BENEFITS, HE DOES ARGUE THAT SANCTIFICATION CAN FLOURISH ONLY WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF CHRISTIAN “FREEDOM” FROM THE LAW THAT JUSTIFICATION ALONE SECURES” (Emphasis Mine)

    In Accepted and Renewed in Christ, Venema elaborates:

    “[referring to the priority of Justifiction] When Calving treats the subject of the benefits of our reception of God’s grace in Christ, he clearly grants a kind of priority to Justification as the “first” aspect of the “twofold grace of God”. The pre-eminence of this benefit is affirmed in various passages in his writings, which speak of justification as the principal aspect of the “Twofold grace of God”…For example, Calvin argues that, since the knowledge of our salvation chiefly depends on our proper conception of this benefit, it may be termed the “leading tenet of the gospel”(praecipium evangelii caput). [Venema cites Calvin’s comments from Luke 1:77; Matt. 1:14; and Luke 1:6]”

    “[referring to “Sanctification as the “fruit” or “effect” of Justification] Calvin acknowledges and order between Justification and Sanctification. Justification is the basis or presupposition for sanctification, and sanctification is the telos, consequence, or effect of justification…Sanctification is by faith and follows upon it, not in any chronological sense, but in the sense that an effect follows upon its cause. As Calvin puts it in a passage representative of this understanding: “The rigteousness of works […] is the effect of the righteousness of faith, and the blessedness which arises from works is the effect of the blessedness which consists in the remission of sins […]. We should consider here the order of causes as well as the dispensation of the grace of God” [Venema cites Calvin’s comments from Rom. 4.6; and cf. 4.9-10]

    There is also a lot of other rather pointed and clear statements from Venema exposing Calvin’s nascent ordo salutis where Justification has a certain “priority” and Sanctification is a “fruit” of Justification. To be very honest, I was shocked to read not only Venema’s assessment of Calvin’s theology, but also looking up the citations from Calvin and reading him myself. If I just read Garcia’s remarks and Gaffin’s lectures on Calvin, I would have thought the WSC folks are totally wrong and that they are “Lutheran”, rather than Reformed. I just hope that people will go ad fontes and read Calvin for himself and the logic of his arguments for a more full orbed historical theology of Calvin that should help us in our present circumstances. By the way, I just heard the eminent Calvin scholar Herman Selderhuis from the Theological University of Apeldoorn, Netherlands lecture on Calvin. He gave a lecture entitled: “Calvin: Longing for Luther”, which was on the strong dependence, admiration, and love that Calvin had for Luther. Look for it on the RTS Orlando 2009 Kistemaker lectures. I think it will help us all to see that Calvin was not only Luther’s best student, but also his true student and that the “Calvin against Luther” thesis of church history and theology is indeed wrong headed.

  61. Ron Henzel said,

    February 27, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    James,

    I’m glad you posted this. Thanks!

  62. Benji Swinburnson said,

    February 28, 2009 at 10:48 am

    In the interests of going ad fontes, readers should know that Richard Gaffin, responding to JV Fesko’s review of Garcia and Billings, has addressed (albeit in an indirect fashion) some of what you have posted here from Venema. It is in the latest Ordained Servant, which can be read here: http://www.opc.org/os.html?issue_id=39

    Also Garcia has publicly addressed the issue of the “priority” of justification to PROGRESSIVE sanctification in his Clarification in Ordained Servant last year, and is more than willing to affirm a few ways in which we can speak this way. The real issue, it seems to me, has to do with the distinctness, simultaneity, and inseparability of justification and what we today call DEFINITIVE sanctification in union with Christ. You can read that clarification here: http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=79.

    Here is the relevant portion:

    “There has been some question too about my own understanding of the relationship of justification and sanctification, particularly about any “priority” of the former to the latter. First of all, I would guess we all find language of “priority” to be at least somewhat ambiguous. What does one mean by priority, even “logical” priority? Is it chronological? Causal? Of central importance? Something else? I find that proponents of the priority of justification are ordinarily unable to explain this idea without using causal language (suggesting, for instance, that sanctification “flows from” or in some sense arises from justification as its effect) and without being left with a doctrine of union with Christ that is merely formal or nominal.

    However, I would alert the reader to the fact that, in my article, I affirmed one sense in which I think language of priority is helpful: experiential, and not theological. As I said in reply to a point raised in Dr. Jones’s essay, “I am not aware of anyone who would deny this [i.e., the realization that one is pardoned motivates obedience to the will of God], and speaking in this way of ‘motivation’ is surely appropriate. But we must not confuse the existential—what can be described in terms of my experience of grace—with the theological, as Jones, Godfrey (270, on Calvin), and others in CJPM seem to do.” This is a useful and biblical way to think about priority, and I do not find it contradicts what is said in the OPC’s Justification Report. In the Report, the relevant language speaks specifically of justification as the prerequisite to sanctification understood as a process (p. 60 in the edition published by the CCE). Because justification is in its very nature definitive (i.e., non-progressive), its being prior to progressive sanctification is self-evident and beyond dispute. What the Report does not affirm, however, is that justification is the prerequisite to definitive sanctification. Instead the Report includes an important footnote to the effect that definitive sanctification is not in view in their discussion (p. 58, n. 92). On justification as a definitive act being prior to sanctification understood only in its progressive dimension, I would think that the contributors to CJPM and I strongly agree. Further, the preceding paragraph on p. 60 of the Report clearly states that both justification and sanctification come to us in our union with Christ, a point I heartily affirm and with which my statement regarding their simultaneity sits rather nicely. And whatever our understanding of this priority, let us be clear that CJPM presses a specifically causal, “fruit” or “effect” understanding of the relationship sanctification bears to justification. My citations (and those I did not list but can be found in the essays) confirm this.”

    I agree: let’s go ad fontes. To Calvin, and Garcia-Gaffin.

  63. D G Hart said,

    March 1, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Benji, to the sources was an effort to go back to the original or early teachings. Are you suggesting that Garcia and Gaffin are sources of Reformed Protestantism the way that Calvin is?

  64. Benji Swinburnson said,

    March 1, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Re: Garcia and Gaffin as sources on a par with Calvin in Reformed Protestantism. Of course not! Such a notion would be among the silliest I have ever heard. I can’t see how anything I said above would give that indication. If so, I apologize, and thank you for the opportunity to clarify myself.

    My reference to going “ad fontes” was (as it historically is, at least in my understanding) a general call to accurately consult and represent primary (“source”) documents, whether they be from 16th, 17th, 20th, 21st or any other century (I add that last bit just to make sure you don’t think I am implying that there is not significant theology beyond those four centuries!).

    My point (as I think was fairly clear) is that it is important to consult primary documents (ad fontes) carefully and thoroughly, whether it is Calvin’s, or anyone else’s. As I see it, the previous poster did not really articulate Garcia and Gaffin’s concerns accurately. I think Gaffin addresses some of those misrepresentations/misunderstandings (also evident, in my opinion, in both the Venema review [NH] and in Fesko review [OS]). In sum, the issue (as both Gaffin and Garcia have clarified) has to do with the relationship and “priority” of justification and DEFINITIVE sanctification. It does not seem to me that Fesko, Venema (or the poster above) articulated that this question was the precise concern of Garcia and Gaffin. Perhaps even this formulation will prove to be an innacurate representation of Calvin, but we must understand that it is the precise formulation under debate.

    This is meant not so much as “an attack” on any of these men, but rather as a point that will hopefully help to clarify the precise state of the question, and hopefully provide a context for more fruitful debate on this subject. That is why I linked readers to the Ordained Servant page with links to the entire discussion in the latest OS. I would link to the Venema review as well, but that was not up online (to my knowledge) when I first posted. However, if any of you attend an OPC church this morning, you should be able to pick one up there.

    How’s that, Dr. Hart, for OPC “evangelism” :)?

  65. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 1, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Tom:

    Sure, it might not achieve Trumper’s dream of “constructive Calvinism” but least it’s coherent and Scriptural.

    Spin this out a bit. What do you mean?

    Jeff Cagle

  66. D G Hart said,

    March 2, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Benji, to the sources I went (at least some of them). Garcia’s review of the Westminster California volume on justification never mentions definitive sanctification. I do actually think that definitive sanctification gets at the root of some of the differences here (and I’m not convinced that anyone before Murray articulated this doctrine in this way — more WTS creativity). But it is not the case that the WTS position has always distinguished between definitive and progressive sanctification its its writings on the ordo.

  67. Benji Swinburnson said,

    March 2, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Dr. Hart:

    Re: Garcia’s review of the Westminster volume. I haven’t thoroughly looked it over, but you may in fact be right. However, the subsequent “Clarification” makes the definitive sanctification issue much clearer (which is why I linked to it and posted a bit of it). It is from that point (in addition to the most recent Gaffin article in OS) that the debate should proceed. I agree that the “WTS” side has not always distinguished these things clearly, which they should have. But this distinction (I think) is becoming clearer in the more recent publications, and for that I am thankful. At the same time, I don’t think the WSCAL side has always been clear on what they mean by a “certain priority” of justification to sanctification, though that may becoming clearer as well in the latest article by Fesko.

    As for its place in the history of theology, appeal has been made to texts like WCF 13.1 and more especially LC 75 for some kind of precedent for the idea of definitive sanctification:

    Q. 75. What is sanctification?
    A. Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.

    This seems to distinguish between a “definitive” (?) “renew[al] of the whole man after the image of God, and all other saving graces put into their hearts” from the progressive stirring up, increasing, and strengthening of those graces. And all of that is under the head of “sanctification.” Perhaps I am over-reading the confession here, but it seems like a fairly natural way to read it.

    I would not say Murray is adding nothing new (he is fairly clear, in my reading, that he thinks he is). Still, I think there is a good basis in Reformed theology to distinguish between the inception of our transformation (regeneration) and our progress in that transformation (progressive sanctification). Perhaps that even better describes the “root of some of our differences,” as you said above.

    So then, maybe the WTS folks should speak more consistently about the general simultaneity, inseparability, and distinctness of the transformative and forensic aspects of union with Christ. I don’t think there are many who will disagree with the validity of those broader categories. That gets at the issue precisely, without laying a potential stumbling block at the feet of those not convinced of Murray’s doctrine of definitive sanctification. The Westminster Assembly’s “Sum of Saving Knowledge” (Head IV) makes a similar distinction, speaking of “a change in their persons” (regeneration, repentance, sanctification, etc.) as well as “a change in their state” (justification, reconciliation, adoption, etc.). I think I have heard Gaffin make this broader distinction before, but I cannot remember where.

    Thanks for the opportunity to dialogue on this. After thinking about this more, I am now convinced that my initial post may not really be the best way to define the state of the question either. It just goes to show that perhaps fruitful progress can be made!

  68. Todd said,

    March 2, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Benji,

    You wrote, “I think there is a good basis in Reformed theology to distinguish between the inception of our transformation (regeneration) and our progress in that transformation (progressive sanctification).”

    I think this is where the confusion comes in. Why call regeneration the reception of our transformation? Usually transformation includes moral transformation. This language suggests that sanctification actually begins at regeneration. But in regeneration the Lord only enlightens our minds and renews our wills to believe the gospel. Once we believe, the Lord fills and seals us with the Spirit, definitively, and as a result, progressively sanctifying us (Rom 5:1-5). Shepherd read as if he was suggesting the new obedience that comes from the Spirit is an instrument of justification, instead of the result, because the moral transformation that led to obedience is part of regeneration, instead of a result of justification. So my question is, where do you find in reformed theology, or the Bible, the idea that regeneration includes moral transformation?

    Thanks,

    Todd

  69. D G Hart said,

    March 2, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Benji:

    First, I think the position that union is central and makes justification (the forensic) and sanctification (renovative) simultaneous even if distinct fails to do justice to the centrality of the forensic – period – no matter how you order the ordo. Vos would seem to bear on this point when he wrote, “Naturally the problem becomes most accentuated where it touches the center of Paul’s teaching. This, we may still insist, is the doctrine of justification. Recent attempts to dislodge it from this position, and to make the mystical aspect of the believer’s relation to Christ, as mediated by the Spirit, entirely coordinated with it—so that each of the two covers the entire range of religious experience, and becomes in reality a duplicate of the other in a different sphere—we cannot recognize as correct from the apostle’s own point of view. In our opinion Paul consciously and consistently subordinated the mystical aspect of the relation to Christ to the forensic one. Paul’s mind was to such an extent forensically oriented that he regarded the entire complex of subjective spiritual changes that take place in the believer and of subjective spiritual blessings enjoyed by the believer as the direct outcome of the forensic work of Christ applied in justification. The mystical is based on the forensic, not the forensic on the mystical.”

    Second, your reading of WLC on sanctification seems to blur the renovative and forensic dimensions of definitive sanctification (if such a doctrine does exist). Sometimes def. sanct. is explained as being freed from bondage to sin, sometimes as the renewal of the whole man. Being freed from bondage seems to me to be a forensic category, that requires a prior justification. Now that I am no longer guilty sin has no power to condemn me. I’m not denying renewal of the whole man, but that seems to me to indicate that the sanctification that we enjoy and that is imperfect in this life extends to the heart, mind, soul, and strength.

  70. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    March 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    What section of Calvin are you quoting? Could you please give the reference in the standard form: Book number in capital Roman numerals, chapter in lower case Roman numerals, and section in Arabic numerals? E.g., III.xiv. 8 is Book Three, Chapter Fourteen, section Eight.

  71. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    March 2, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    This is more a reply to Todd: regeneration is the inception of sanctification because there is the same sort of thing going on in each:

    WLC 67 (BTW, regeneration seems to be lumped in with effectual calling in the WS): Effectual calling includes the renewal of the will…

    WLC 75: Sanctification is the renewal of the whole man…

    So, the work of renewal that the Spirit begins in effectual calling/regeneration is continued in sanctification. They are related in both being internal renovating works of the Spirit.

  72. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    March 2, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    And, Darryl, I would argue that the forensic can still be central, since the renovative is always imperfect and must therefore never stand on its own.

    Furthermore, the WLC seems to give a pretty good confessional case for at least allowing a Unionist perspective. Notice:

    -effectual calling is that which accomplishes union (66), and this is listed even before justification (66-69 & 70, respectively).
    -Answer 69: “The communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is their partaking of the virtue of his mediation, in their justification, adoption, sanctification, and whatever else, in this life, manifests their union with him.” Notice that adoption, sanctification, etc. do not manifest justification, but that all three of these manifest union, implying that union is logically prior.
    -In 73, good works are said to the fruits of justification, but sanctification is not identified with good works. Rather, sanctification is one of the “graces” that always accompany justification (cf. 75: “Sanctification is a work of God’s grace…”).
    -In 77, when justification and sanctification are explicitly compared, the latter is not said to be an effect or fruit of the former. Rather, they differ not as cause and effect, but in the sphere of their effects: imputation v. infusion, pardon sin v. subduing it, perfect v. progressive.

    From this, it seems that unionism, properly understood, is permitted by the Confession.

  73. Benji Swinburnson said,

    March 2, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Todd:

    First of all, I did not say that “regeneration is the RECEPTION of our transformation,” but rather the INCEPTION of our transformation. I take it this is just a minor typo, but I just want to be clear.

    You ask: “where do you find in reformed theology, or the Bible, the idea that regeneration includes moral transformation?” I never used the language “moral transformation,” I just spoke of “transformation.” My point was to say that at bottom, there are two different kinds of benefits we recieve from Christ. I called them “forensic” and “transformative.” Perhaps I should speak in the more traditional language of the Westminster Assembly’s Sum of Saving Knowledge (which I cited above), which speaks of these two kinds of benefits as “a change in their persons” (what I call “transformative”) and a change of “relation” (what I call “forensic”):

    I. BY these outward ordinances, as our Lord makes the reprobate inexcusable, so, by the power of his Spirit, he applies unto the elect, effectually, all saving graces purchased to them in the covenant of redemption, and maketh a change in their persons. In particular, 1. He doth convert or regenerate them, by giving spiritual life to them, in opening their understandings, renewing their wills, affections, and faculties, for giving spiritual obedience to his commands. 2. He gives them saving faith, by making them, in the sense of deserved condemnation, to give their consent heartily to the covenant of grace, and to embrace Jesus Christ unfeignedly. 3. He gives them repentance, by making them, with godly sorrow, in the hatred of sin, and love of righteousness, turn from all iniquity to the service of God. And, 4. He sanctifies them, by making them go on and persevere in faith and spiritual obedience to the law of God, manifested by fruitfulness in all duties, and doing good works, as God offereth occasion.

    II. Together with this inward change of their persons, God changes also their state: for, so soon as they are brought by faith into the covenant of grace, 1. He justifies them, by imputing unto them that perfect obedience which Christ gave to the law, and the satisfaction also which upon the cross Christ gave unto justice in their name. 2. He reconciles them, and makes them friends to God, who were before enemies to God. 3. He adopts them, that they shall be no more children of Satan, but children of God, enriched with all spiritual privileges of his sons. And, last of all, after their warfare in this life is ended, he perfects the holiness and blessedness, first of their souls at their death, and then both of their souls and their bodies, being joyfully joined together again in the resurrection, at the day of his glorious coming to judgment, when all the wicked shall be sent away to hell, with Satan; whom they have served: but Christ’s own chosen and redeemed ones, true believers, students of holiness, shall remain with himself for ever, in the state of glorification.

    As for the Reformed background for understanding regeneration as the inception of the transformative work of the Spirit that is increased in progressive sanctification, I would appeal again to LC 75 (quoted above) compared to WCF 13.1 which speaks of the regenerate being “further sanctified.”

    Also, AA Hodge says this:

    “What relation does sanctification sustain to regeneration? Regeneration is the creative act of the Holy Spirit, IMPLANTING A NEW PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE in the soul…Sanctification is the sustaining and developing work of the Holy Ghost, bringing all the faculties of the soul more and more perfectly under the purifying and regulating influence of the IMPLANTED PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE.” (Outlines of Theology, 521-22).

    Regeneration implants the new principle of spritual life, sanctification brings us more perfectly under its purifying and regulating influence.

    I would give a few more quotes, but that should be enough. Besides, my little 9 month old is crying.

  74. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    March 2, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    To clarify my response to Todd: transformation of the will is moral transformation. This is what is in view in Rom. 1:18ff: the problem with man is not intellectual, since he knows God, but moral, in that he refuses to worship God. That is an issue of the will: to choose or to refuse. We can’t accept the gospel, repent, trust, or any of those things without a moral transformation, since without a moral transformation we would still be implacably opposed to God. Now, it does not require a complete moral transformation, nor is that small degree of transformation the basis on which we are pardoned or accepted.

  75. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    March 2, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Has anyone been following Wilson’s blogging about NT Wright’s book? It looks as though he’s holding the same position as Darryl on this: anti-unionist, shall we say. He also makes some very good comments on Wright’s odd juxtaposing of the grand sweep of covenant history (which the bishop is quite good at) and the individual results (which he’s not).

  76. Benji Swinburnson said,

    March 2, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Turretin says that sanctification “…is begun here in this life by regeneration and is promoted by the exercise of holiness and of good works.” (II:689)

  77. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I don’t think Calvin can be pressed for a clear answer on the priority of justification as Venema wishes to (as cited by James above).

    We [admit] that when God reconciles us to himself by the intervention of the righteousness of Christ, and bestowing upon us the free pardon of sins regards us as righteous, his goodness is at the same time conjoined with mercy, so that he dwells in us by means of his Holy Spirit, by whose agency the lusts of our flesh are every day more and more mortified while that we ourselves are sanctified. — Inst. 3.14.9

    Here, union (“dwells in us by means of his Spirit”) runs in parallel with justification and is the cause of sanctification.

    By contrast, Venema reads Calvin as putting justification as the source of sanctification. Here is Calvin:

    Hence the righteousness of works is the effect of the righteousness of God, and the blessedness arising from works is the effect of the blessedness which proceeds from the remission of sins. Since the cause ought not and cannot be destroyed by its own effect, absurdly do they act, who strive to subvert the righteousness of faith by works. — Calv., Comm., Rom. 4.6 – 8

    Why is Calvin seemingly so cavalier with his ordo? Primarily, because he wasn’t interested in that question. Detailed questions of ordo (such as the one we are asking) really arise later than this. Instead, we have to read Calvin through the lens of the central question of his time, which was this: How can a righteous God declare unrighteous man to be just apart from righteous works? Rome pressed this question by way of opposing Luther and his slogan of “simultaneously righteous and sinner.”

    Calvin’s answer is that God declares us righteous because we are clothed in Christ (a statement of union!) and we are therefore justified by virtue of forensic transfer of status:

    [The schoolmen] say that good works are not of such intrinsic worth as to be sufficient to procure justification, …, but that the faults which are committed are compensated by works of supererogation. I answer, that the grace which they call accepting, is nothing else than the free goodness with which the Father embraces us in Christ when he clothes us with the innocence of Christ, and accepts it as ours, so that in consideration of it he regards us as holy, pure, and innocent. For the righteousness of Christ (as it alone is perfect, so it alone can stand the scrutiny of God) must be sisted for us, and as a surety represent us judicially. Provided with this righteousness, we constantly obtain the remission of sins through faith. Our imperfection and impurity, covered with this purity, are not imputed but are as it were buried, so as not to come under judgment until the hour arrive when the old man being destroyed, and plainly extinguished in us, the divine goodness shall receive us into beatific peace with the new Adam, there to await the day of the Lord, on which, being clothed with incorruptible bodies, we shall be translated to the glory of the heavenly kingdom. — Inst. 3.14.12

    And again,

    The whole may be thus summed up: Christ given to us by the kindness of God is apprehended and possessed by faith, by means of which we obtain in particular a twofold benefit; first, being reconciled by the righteousness of Christ, God becomes, instead of a judge, an indulgent Father; and, secondly, being sanctified by his Spirit, we aspire to integrity and purity of life. — Inst. 3.11.1

    My conclusion is that Calvin was just not interested in a detailed ordo. For him, owning Christ gave the whole package, and that was enough. In fact, to go further, Calvin seems to equate possessing Christ and justification in such a way that “union is justification.” For Calvin, being justified is being clothed in Christ and His righteousness. Union is the work of the Spirit; justification, the work of the Son. Which then could possibly precede the other?! Or put another way, union and justification are equivalent because the persons of the Godhead are inseparable.

    In this sense, I fully associate myself with Tom’s remark above:

    I wish that more people involved with this discussion took the time to realize that we don’t have to choose between “union” or legal foundations for our salvation but that the Pactum Salutis establishes the legal/covenantal foundation for why we are united to Chris, and union with Him is the means by which we can share in all His saving benefits.

    Jeff Cagle

  78. Benji Swinburnson said,

    March 2, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Dr. Hart:

    I think I agree fully with the Vos quote. As I read him, he seems to be refuting the more extreme ideas of Schweizer (perhaps from “The Mysticism of Paul’s Relgion?”). It does not seem to me that he is critiquing Calvin, or Garcia and Gaffin here at all. We must interpret his statements in light of his conversation partners.

    I think the quote you gave from Vos needs to be interpreted in light of what Vos says in his article on the doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology:

    “But the covenant of redemption also has meaning for the application of salvation. It provides the guarantee that the glory of God’s works of redemption shall be impressed upon the consciousness of the elect and be actively expressed through their lives. This can happen only when the application of Christ in its entirety occurs because of and in union with Christ. Only when the believer
    understands how he has to receive and has received everything from the Mediator and how God in no way whatever deals with him except through Christ, only then does a picture of the glorious work that God wrought through Christ emerge in his consciousness and the magnificent idea of grace begin to dominate and to form in his life. For the Reformed, therefore, the entire ordo salutis, beginning with regeneration as its first stage, is bound to the mystical union with Christ. There is no gift that has not been earned by Him. Neither is there a gift that is not bestowed by Him that does not elevate God’s glory through His bestowal. Now the basis for this order lies in none other than in the covenant of salvation with Christ. In this covenant those chosen by the Father are given to Christ. In it He became the guarantor so that they would be planted into His body in order to live
    in the thought-world of grace through faith. As the application of salvation by Christ and by Christ’s
    initiative is a fundamental principle of Reformed theology, this theology has correctly viewed this application as a covenantal requirement which fell to the Mediator and for the fulfilling of which He became the guarantor. In this way Reformed theology simply showed that here too it would be content with nothing but its one all-embracing slogan: the work of grace in the sinner as a mirror for
    the glory of God.

    Later on he says this about the difference between the Reformed and Lutheran ordo:

    “Whereas the Lutheran tends to view faith onesidedly—only in its connection with justification—for the Reformed Christian it is saving faith in all the magnitude of the word. According to the Lutheran, the Holy Spirit first generates faith in the sinner who temporarily still remains outside of union with Christ; then justification follows faith
    and only then, in turn, does the mystical union with the Mediator take place. Everything depends on this justification, which is losable, so that the believer only gets to see a little of the glory of grace and lives for the day, so to speak. The covenantal outlook is the reverse. One is first united to Christ, the Mediator of the covenant, by a mystical union, which finds its conscious recognition in faith. By this union with Christ all that is in Christ is simultaneously given. Faith embraces all this too; it not
    only grasps the instantaneous justification, but lays hold of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King, as his rich and full Messiah. The deepest reason for this difference in view is none other than the fact that the reception of the full glory of the work of God’s grace in the consciousness of faith is the most important thing to the Reformed believer. Therefore faith may not be confined within the limited circle of one piece of the truth and its gaze fixed on that all the time; it must have in view, freely and
    broadly, the whole plan of salvation. The Lutheran lives as a child who enjoys his father’s smile for the moment; the Reformed believer lives as a man, in whose consciousness the eternal glory of God throws its radiance.”

    At any rate, I think Vos’s statements fit rather well with the thesis of Gaffin and Garcia regarding the priority of union in the ordo salutis, as well as the theological differences between the Lutheran and the Reformed.

  79. Benji Swinburnson said,

    March 2, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Dr. Hart:

    Also, with regard to your comment about the forensic and transformative aspects of definitive sanctification. I have never heard anyone argue that definitive sanctification has a forensic aspect. Perhaps Murray or others have spoken that way (I haven’t read that anywhere), but (unless someone could explain it to me further) I certainly would reject such a notion as confusing and illogical. Definitive sanctification is a transformative benefit, not a forensic one (at least for me).

  80. D G Hart said,

    March 2, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Josh, I am not anti-union. I am anti-decentering justification and the forensic aspect of salvation. I have heard some appeal to union (and by implication definitive sanctification) that suggests the righteousness of Christ in justification only goes so far to remedy our sin, and that we need the other benefits to get the “whole Christ.” The last time I checked, we get the “whole” of Christ’s righteousness in justification, so that the imperfection of our sanctification will not be held against us.

  81. James said,

    March 2, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Dear Benji,

    In your reference to Vos from “The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology”, a lot of people cite it as Vos’ definitive understanding of the place of Union with Christ and Justification. That article was written in 1891. Hart’s quote from Vos’ article entitled “The Alleged Legalism in Paul’s Doctrine of Justification” was written in 1903. That’s an interim of 12 years.

    It’s quite possible that Vos’ thoughts had matured and developed since he wrote the 1891 article that highlights the difference between the Lutheran and Reformed conception of the ordo. It is possible that Vos in his series of articles examining Paul’s Theology in several areas (“St. Paul’s Conception of Christianity” (1895), “The Pauline Conception of Reconciliation” (1901), “The Pauline Conception of Redemption”(1902) and “The Theology of Paul” (1903)) brought about a more mature “conception” of Paul’s overall theology including Justification and Union. After all, the 1891 article was an exercise in historical theology, not biblical and exegetical, and the 1903 article was a direct engagement with Pauline texts and misconceptions of his theology.

    All of this is to say that Vos’ quotes should be taken in light of their own historical contexts and particular concerns. I think it might be more helpful to understand Vos’ differences in this light where the later quote from 1903 shows more direct engagement with the subject at hand and demonstrates a more mature understanding regarding Justification and Union with Christ than the 1891 article.

    What’s interesting to me is the continuity regarding the mystical aspect that may show a maturation or shift:

    ” This can happen only when the application of Christ in its entirety occurs because of and in union with Christ….For the Reformed, therefore, the entire ordo salutis, beginning with regeneration as its first stage, is bound to [the mystical union with Christ]” (1891)

    But now look at how differentiates the mystical from the judicial:

    Naturally the problem becomes most accentuated where it touches the center of Paul’s teaching. This, we may still insist, is the doctrine of justification. Recent attempts to dislodge it from this position, and to make the [mystical aspect of the believer’s relation to Christ], as mediated by the Spirit, entirely coordinated with it—so that each of the two covers the entire range of religious experience, and becomes in reality a duplicate of the other in a different sphere—we cannot recognize as correct from the apostle’s own point of view. In our opinion Paul consciously and consistently subordinated the [mystical aspect of the relation to Christ to the forensic one]. Paul’s mind was to such an extent forensically oriented that he regarded the entire complex of subjective spiritual changes that take place in the believer and of subjective spiritual blessings enjoyed by the believer as the direct outcome of the forensic work of Christ applied in justification. [The mystical is based on the forensic, not the forensic on the mystical].” (1903;emphasis mine)

    I think Vos’ later quote reflects his more mature understanding that, to me at least, does not buttress Gaffin and Garcia as well as you think.

  82. Benji Swinburnson said,

    March 2, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    James:

    An excellent point worthy of further consideration. I realize that the DCRT quote is in the “early Vos.” But I don’t necessarily see the need to posit “development” in his thought on this point (though that may indeed be the case).

    It could be that his concern in the DCRT quote was to contrast the Reformed view with the Lutheran view. The later quote is an emphasis over against Schweizer’s (?) mystical interpretation of Paul. I think we can equally account for the difference in emphasis because of the polemical context of Vos’s comments without positing a change in his thinking.

    As I read the later comment, Vos is emphasizing the priority of the forensic against those who “that each of the two covers the entire range of religious experience, and becomes in reality a duplicate of the other in a different sphere.” In other words, these men (again, I am not sure who is in view here, Schweizer may be too late) are saying that the Mystical and the Forensic in Paul are really the same thing. They are confusing the transformative to the forensic. Over against this, Vos emphasizes the priority of the forensic aspect of our union with Christ.

    I don’t think I would disagree with that. And I don’t think Vos’s earlier comments contradict that in the least bit. And, as you will be able to tell from the latest discussion on this issue from Gaffin (in the latest OS) and Garcia, I don’t think they would disagree with that either, provided it was understood in a proper sense. I think it is better to assume that these statements really cohere together, and that the differences in emphasis should be accounted for on the basis of other factors.

    Then again, Vos could be changing his view. I will have to reflect further on this. Thanks for pointing it out!

    However we account for the “differences” (if they are really there) I would still say I agree with the “early Vos” quote.

    One final point:

    My whole point in raising this discussion again was to direct readers to the latest contributions of Gaffin and Fesko in the OS. My point was that we should all look at what is being said now, because I think the issues are becoming more clear, and the precise points of disagreement are being articulated in a way that may have been lacking before. I am sure that this discussion will come up again, probably here on this blog. Hopefully when it does, it will be a discussion of the Fesko-Gaffin exchange.

    Until then, I retire from commenting on this point, and I bid all of you, my fellow brothers who are with me definitively justified and progressively being sanctified in Christ, a good evening. It will be a great day indeed when we all stand before Christ in glory, and rejoice in the mutual perfection we will share together by his grace alone. Thanks for the discussion, and giving me more to think about.

  83. GLW Johnson said,

    March 3, 2009 at 7:55 am

    JWDS
    I applaud DW’s critique of Wright- and I assume he is fully aware of the parallel views by fellow FV advocates, esp. Rich Lusk who has repeatedly defended Wright along the very same lines that DW expresses grave reservations. In addition, Peter Leithart gave this most recent book from Wright a glowing endorsement. It would be refreshing if DW expanded his concerns over Wright by turning his sights on the same problems that plague the Wright/Shepherd wing of the FV.

  84. Ron Henzel said,

    March 3, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Gary,

    Amen!

  85. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Off-topic: DGH, I posted something over on my blog and am awaiting your OK to proceed.

    Jeff Cagle


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