The Covenant of Life…Er, Works

First I will examine the section of the Joint Statement concerning the covenant of life, and then I will answer Doug’s last post.

My previous statement concerning this section is something to which I still hold, although it needs to be qualified. I am more willing to speak of Adam’s needing to believe God. What I really object to is language that implies that Adam’s obtaining eternal life (or maintaining eternal life, which is a contradiction in terms) is the same instrumentality as we have today. The instrumentality of obtaining the glorified state was works in the first covenant, and faith in the second covenant. This is non-negotiable. This is why I utterly reject this statement: “Adam was created to progress from immature glory to mature glory, but that glorification too would have been a gift of grace, received by faith alone.” Of course, the main part to which I object in this statement is the second half of the sentence, not so much the first half, although I reject James Jordan’s view of maturity.

First of all, eternal life is by definition eternal and immutable. Therefore it is something Adam did not possess. One cannot have eternal life but lose it. Adam possessed innocence, of course. But he did not possess the glorified body, which is immutably glorified in eternal life. Does this in any way deny the וְהִנֵּה־טוֹב מְאֹד of Genesis 1:31? Of course not. The description “very good” does not imply that it is as good as it could possibly be. “Very good” is different from “best.” So, when the WCF says that life was promised to Adam, it is talking about the immutable, glorified state, which Adam most certainly did not possess. A careful exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15 and Genesis 2 will bear out this claim.

Secondly, to say that Adam would have obtained the highest state by faith alone (indicating instrumentality) contradicts utterly the WCF 7, which explicitly says “upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.” As I said in the previous treatment, the moral law was given to Adam as a covenant of works (WCF 19.1). As such, the commands given to Adam are subject to the same interpretive procedures that govern the Ten Commandments (see WLC 99). FV interpretations of Genesis 2:16-17 tend to be very minimalistic. However, aside from the cultural mandate commands, which clearly indicate the moral law, what is behind the forbidding of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the first table of the law. Adam was being tested as to whether he would honor his liege-lord (the cultural mandate commands imply that Adam was vice-regent under God, a vassal to the Lord’s Suzerainty) or not.

Thirdly, as has been said by myself and many others ad nauseum, if God binds Himself to reward Adam’s obedience with something, that neither contradicts the sonship aspects of Adam in the Garden (in the same way that the forensic does not contradict the participatory in the ordo salutis), nor reduces the Garden to a cold business, any more than the legal aspects of marriage are cold and lifeless. Fathers can make legal agreements with their sons, the last time I checked. So, in saying that “the gift or continued possession of that gift was not offered by God to Adam conditioned upon Adam’s moral exertions or achievements,” the statement takes direct aim at WCF 7.2, which says that eternal life was offered on condition of Adam’s obedience (or moral exertions). This section of the Joint Statement is the most problematic of all the sections, in my opinion, as it guts WCF 7 of practically everything important. I would direct readers’ attention again to my previous handling of it (the very last quotation) where a’Brakel anticipated by three hundred years the kind of thing the FV would try, and already answered it decisively.

Now, to move on to Doug’s post. Doug says this, “The reason I said that Lane was (unwittingly) messing around with sola fide is that he was talking about something that saving faith had to go and do.” This involves a gross misunderstanding of my position, and a misunderstanding of what belief entails. First of all, my position is that saving faith has to know something. Notitia is an all-important aspect of faith. We cannot leave it behind. As I said in the post to which Doug was responding, I do not believe that one has to understand Bavinck in order to be saved! But one does have to understand forgiveness on the basis of grace, grasped by faith. This is perhaps the most bare-boned understanding of justification that it is possible to have. And I also argued that the disposition of infants was such that the minds of saved infants are changed by God such that they will grow up into a clearer understanding (after all, why underestimate what babies can actually know?). The other misunderstanding that Doug evidences here is a misunderstanding of what belief entails. He seems to think that knowing something is equivalent to a work, such that if faith has to know anything, then we are making faith into a work, and thus denying sola fide. The only way this argument works is if one rips out notitia from the definition of faith, which is tantamount to mysticism. But if notitia is an essential element in faith, then the argument fails utterly. Obviously, then, notitia is not in the same category as works.

The distinction in this image is fruit-bearing vs. fruitless, and abiding vs. not abiding. That is all Jesus says about it. He does not equate death and fruitlessness or death with not abiding. To bring those terms in is eisegesis.

Continuing our discussion of John 15, I would direct the readers to the excellent comments on Doug’s post. If Doug is right, then allowing Ephesians 2 into the discussion (in that most eisegetical Reformed practice of allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture) is not allowed. In the passage, if a branch is fruitless, it is dead (verse 5 is clear: if fruitless, then not-abiding. Not-abiding equals death). Period. A fruitless branch never was alive spiritually, according to Ephesians 2. James is also crystal clear: faith without works is dead. I find it highly ironic that a passage upon which the FV’ers love to harp because they think it means that we are justified by the instrumentality of faith’s aliveness actually destroys their interpretation of John 15. I feel that I have beat John 15 to death now, so Doug can have the last word on this passage if he wants.

149 Comments

  1. rfwhite said,

    December 2, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    How significant, if at all, is it in your opinion that the FV Joint Statement omits an affirmation that Adam was the federal representative of all in the covenant of life? I do not mean to suggest they deny this role to Adam. I do mean to ask if that omission from the Joint Statement with its affirmations and denials about Adam holds a clue to the issues you identify.

  2. David Gadbois said,

    December 2, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Good stuff as always, Lane..

    This has been said before, but bears repeating – FV also misses the different *kinds* of instrumentality at play in the two different covenants. Not only does faith belong to one covenant, and works to the other, but the condition of faith is instrumental only (operates only in a passive, receptive capacity, or “appropriating organ”) whereas the condition of works is not only instrumental, but the ground and legal basis of the reward (eternal life).

  3. greenbaggins said,

    December 2, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Very true, David.

    Dr. White, I think it is significant, because one of the strongest planks of the critics is the parallel between Adam and Christ. If Christ earned our salvation, then in some way Adam had to have had that structure in place as well, or else Christ does not actually fix Adam’s problem.

  4. tim prussic said,

    December 2, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Pr. Lane, a good response to the notitia issue. Could one say that notitia is to faith as life or liveliness is, that is, part of its very composition or nature? Faith without notitia is not faith at all. Faith without life, similarly, is not faith at all. Our justification, however, is not because of faith’s liveliness or notitia, but faith’s not faith without them.

    David, I appreciate your analysis of the *kinds* of instrumentality – that’s clear and helpful. However, I certainly wouldn’t limit faith to the covenant of grace. Faith is certainly present pre-fall, but in a different capacity. Would you disagree?

  5. Vern Crisler said,

    December 2, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Tim, as I think Lane and others have pointed out till they’re blue in the face, there was no need for “faith” prior to the Fall. Faith is evidence of things not seen, whereas Adam knew God.

  6. Pete Myers said,

    December 2, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Hi,

    1) In 2005 Bruce Ware, at the Desiring God Conference, actually explicitly argued that Jesus’ lived by faith. His talk is available here: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByConference/9/2143_The_Trinity_of_Persons/

    It’s interesting that Ware’s argument is essentially the same as Lusk’s here: http://www.hornes.org/theologia/rich-lusk/living-by-faith except that Ware has nothing to do with the Federal Vision.

    2) In Reformed Dogmatics, Bavinck is very happy to talk about “merit” when he covers the work of Christ in Volume 3… but he’s also very happy to talk about Adam living by faith. I’ve stuck some of the relevant texts up here: http://www.metepyers.com/2008/11/23/bavinck-believed-adam-lived-by-faith/

    (I just moved to WordPress, so my site’s a bit of a mess, sorry… but at least the page numbers are there for the relevant portions of Reformed Dogmatics.)

  7. December 2, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    I had posted the following comment on the referenced post at Pastor Wilson’s blog, but I fear it got buried in time, given my tardiness in making the comment. So here it is again – though cleaned up a bit for clarity:

    Pastor Wilson,

    I too find your approach to the question of saved infants and their response/fruit helpful and good.

    I am troubled by this statement, though:

    “If fruitlessness leads to a dead withered state, it cannot be a dead withered state.”

    But Scripture is very clear that before regeneration, we were dead in our trespasses. We were the valley of dead, dried bones. Our hearts were of stone, not yet flesh. And this is true of the non-redeemed whether outside the covenant community or in. No one is half-alive in the spiritual sense.

    I know this is what you hold and teach, given your Easy Chairs, Hard Words and other writings. It seems to me, though, that it should also inform our interpretation of John 15: Scripture interprets Scripture. The more clear sheds useful light on the less clear. So, there are clear blessings from being included in the covenant family – as there was for Israel. But it seems way off to suggest that there is any spiritual life at all in the fruitless branches. They are connected by covenant, not sap.

    Or am I misunderstanding what you are trying to explain here?

  8. Pete Myers said,

    December 2, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Eric,

    All Doug’s been trying to say – from my reading of the discussion so far – is that *in the particular parable in John 15* the branches that end up dead & withered *move from* being in the vine *to* being dead and withered.

    But when we put our systematic theology together, we absolutely shouldn’t take the picture of John 15, and use it to deny everything else scripture says. Which is what Doug is doing – as you have pointed out in that very comment. You’ve explicitly stated that when Doug systematises the ways the Bible describes salvation, he does take into account the rest of the Biblical data, and describes people as either “dead” or “alive”, that the non-redeemed have a heart of stone, as you say.

    But to apply that same logic the other way… when we systematise our faith, and try and plug it all together, we can’t ignore the picture Jesus gives us in John 15.

    So being a “live branch” in the parable in John 15 is different altogether to being “made alive” in Ephesians 2. In John 15, Jesus is warning against apostasy. So just recognise that there’s different ways the word “life” can be used in the scriptures, do your exegesis – but then pull it all together in systematic theology.

    In other words – it’s perfectly possible to do eisegesis with *GOOD* theology… to read something right into the wrong place. In fact it’s the most common Small Bible Study Group mistake in my experience – to take lots of true and right facts we all know, and to put them into whatever passage we’re reading, regardless of whether those facts are in there or not. That’s not to deny that truth is in *scripture*… just to deny that truth is in this particular *passage* of scripture.

  9. Pete Myers said,

    December 2, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Sorry, it’s late in my part of the world and I’m suffering with insomnia.

    Above comment should say
    paragraph 2: that Doug is harmonising scripture properly. Wording’s a bit funny there.
    last sentence should actually read: “That’s not to deny that particular truth is in scripture… just to deny that particular thuth is in this particular passage of scripture.

  10. John Paulling said,

    December 3, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Good post, can you tell me how get hebrew, and greek fonts on your blog?

  11. greenbaggins said,

    December 3, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    John, I cut and paste from websites that use unicode font (that is the only way).
    For Hebrew, I use this site: http://www.tanach.us/Tanach.xml and for Greek I use this site (with the Palatino Linotype font chosen from the drop down box):

    http://www.greekbible.com/index.php

  12. jared said,

    December 3, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Lane,

    What of the following simplification:

    Adam would have received eternal life if he had obeyed God to the extent of that law which was revealed to him (cultural mandate, not eating the forbidden fruit, etc.). Adam’s ability to obey was contingent upon the quality/strength of his faith in what God had spoken to him. In other words, Adam could only have obeyed given the presence of a living and active (and perfect, given his sinlessness) faith.

    Jesus obtained eternal life for His people through his faithful obedience to the revealed (and unrevealed to us) ordinances of His father. Like Adam, Jesus’ ability to obey was contingent up the quality/strength of His faith in what His Father spoke to Him. Jesus, of course being God and unlike Adam in this regard, had such faith that would not fail in the face of temptation as Adam’s did. Thus Jesus secured salvation for His people and the only requirement is the receiving this perfect faith and all that it achieved.

    The contrast is not works and faith (because both play a role in both scenarios), as it were, but the immeasurable difference in quality of faith of the first Adam and the second Adam. Adam’s faith could not stand the test, whereas Jesus’ could. Adam’s faith resulted in disobedience and death whereas Jesus’ faith results in obedience and life. And, perhaps most relevant to this discussion, the faith given to us imputes His righteousness rather than us procuring our own as Adam would have done for himself. I wonder if Adam had obeyed initially if his righteousness would’ve been imputed to the rest of humanity or if we each, individually, would’ve needed to obey in our own right.

    In any case, the instrumentality of life in both covenants is faithful obedience. In the original covenant it is man’s own obedience and in the new covenant it is the obedience of a mediator made manifest in those He is mediating for but in both cases the obedience must be faith-wrought.

  13. Reed Here said,

    December 3, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Jared:

    I think the prior problem still exists. I do not see any biblical warrant for labeling Adam’s pre-fall relationship with God as one of faith. Or better yet, the type of “faith” Adam had before the fall is qualitatively different than the type we have after regeneration.

    Thus, even if the comparison between Adam and Jesus stands, in terms of their faith-obedience to God, it is qualitatively different than the faith we experience, and thus of no value in comparison for our lives. I.e., Jesus’ faith-obedience is qualitatively different, of a completelu different category than that in the Christian. There can be no comparison between the two.

    Still, I am uncomfortable with the language of faith-obedience. Why not stick with the nomenclature already understood. Adam had to obey; he didn’t. Jesus had to obey; he did.

  14. Brett said,

    December 3, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Did Adam’s obedience to God’s commands before the fall depend upon his faith in the promises of God? What initiates a Christian’s obedience today? Was the means by which Adam obeyed different than our obedience?
    “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” – Romans 1:5 (NIV)

  15. John Paulling said,

    December 3, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks for the help on the fonts

  16. rfwhite said,

    December 3, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Reed, I wonder about the utility of the phrase “type of faith” in this context. Granting for the sake of discussion that Adam had faith before the fall as well as after it, it seems more to your point to say that there are acts of faith before the fall that differ from the acts of faith after the fall. For example, isn’t it the case that only faith after the fall assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel and receives and rests upon Christ and his righteousness for pardon of sin and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation. Are there acts of faith that are the same both before and after the fall? What do you think?

  17. rfwhite said,

    December 3, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Again, granting that Adam had faith before the fall, could we not say that one of pre-fall faith’s acts was (should have been) that it assented to the truth of the promise of life upon the condition of perfect and personal obedience?

  18. Pete Myers said,

    December 3, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Jared,

    I totally agree with your simplification… and… so does Bavinck, in the passages that I linked to above.

    I simply don’t understand why many of the rest of you guys find this view so *offensive* bearing in mind that everyone claims to have such a high view of Bavinck, and he shares it.

  19. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 3, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Would Heb. 11:6 be taken as a general statement that includes Adam? Although it is interesting to note that the list of those who exercised faith begins with Abel…

    As for Jesus’ faith, didn’t He have to perfectly trust the Father? So that the triumph over temptation (both in the wilderness and in Gethsemane) was because He trusted the Father’s plan, to bring the Son to victory through suffering, rather than through power. I would agree that the acts of faith are different, as well as something of the characteristics: e.g., Adam needed to trust God as provider and law-giver, while we need to trust Him as savior (as well as provider and lawy-giver). Hmm…although the Messianic Psalms present Christ as the one who trusted God as Savior, the one who would rescue the anointed from Sheol…
    This deserves some thought. The Reformed liked to compare and contrast the CoW and CoG in different ways: in terms of parties, circumstances, etc. Could we not do the same for faith?

  20. David Gadbois said,

    December 3, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I don’t mind saying that Adam had faith in God before the Fall, if by that all we mean is that Adam believed God. That belief certainly was necessary in order for Adam to perform the works of obedience that were commanded and that were the condition of the CoW. But believing God in order to obey commandments and produce good works is not the same thing as believing in the work of Another on your behalf. That is, this kind of “faith” is not the same thing as saving faith. The latter is purely passive and receptive.

    I don’t object to using the word “faith” in a more general sense. I do object to the equivocation that is almost always involved, and the monocovenental agenda that is behind it.

  21. Reed Here said,

    December 3, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Dr. White, et.al.,

    David’s last comment , as well as your clarification on the acts of faith differing pre/post-fall do remove some of my concern.

    The main concern I have is not with a comparison between Adam and Christ, but between Christ and us. When we say something like, “Christ’s was an obedient faith. We are called to an obedient faith,” and then offer no differentiation, we end up flattening te atonement to nothing more than Christ being a moral example which we are to follow.

    There needs to be more differentiation in the comparison between Christ’s faith as the obedient Son of God and ours as the adopted sons of God.

  22. rfwhite said,

    December 3, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    David Gadbois, I agree with you. We have to maintain a “bright line” of distinction between pre-fall faith and post-fall faith as well as the bicovenantal structure of revelation.

    Joshua, your reference to the Psalms is thought provoking, especially when linked with the teaching of Heb 2:13, where Jesus, who was perfected through suffering and death (2:10, 14), is quoted as saying, “I will put my trust in him.” Can we say that the faith of Jesus involved assenting to the truth of the promise of life from His God and Father upon the condition of perfect and personal obedience, even obedience to the point of death (Phil 2:8)?

  23. Roger Mann said,

    December 3, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Can we say that the faith of Jesus involved assenting to the truth of the promise of life from His God and Father upon the condition of perfect and personal obedience, even obedience to the point of death (Phil 2:8)?

    Yes. And that would have been Adam’s faith as well — “assenting to the truth of the promise of life from His God and Father upon the condition of perfect and personal obedience” to God’s law (Rom 2:15; cf. Lev 8:5; Rom 10:5; Gal 3:12). But in both cases (Adam’s and Christ’s), the promise of eternal life was conditioned upon their “works” of perfect and personal obedience to God’s law, not their “faith.” As Paul makes clear, the “law is not of faith” (Gal 3:12) as the gospel is, and “to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” (Rom 4:4). If Adam would have obeyed God’s law, his obedience would have been counted as a “wage” or “debt” due under the terms of the covenant, just as it was for Jesus.

    “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” Romans 11:6

  24. tim prussic said,

    December 4, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Vern, I don’t think that redemption was necessary before the fall. Thus, the function of faith before and after the fall would differ greatly. I tend to agree with David in his assessment. I don’t, however, think that passive nature of faith is any different. Adam’s pre-fall faith (simply believing God – taking him at his word) was not any more “active” than ours. I don’t see how it could be.

    Now, what’s received through that passive faith differs a great deal. *Maybe* (conjecture, here) Adam received something through believing God (and maybe not), but we (end conjecture) receive the Lord Christ and all his saving benefits. That’s a earth-shaking difference. Further, Adam wasn’t told to *believe*, but to obey unto life (though he couldn’t obey without faith). He had to believe in order to obey, but in a different fashion than we do. We’re told to believe unto life. Once we believe, we are continually called to walk in faith-wrought obedience, which is part of that life and precipitates further growth in that life. Again, a massive difference.

  25. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 9:12 am

    All:

    I’m appreciating the distinctions being brought out by David Gabois, R.F. White. and Roger Mann.

    My main concern with Jared’s original comment was that it didn’t differentiate. The FV wants to create a parallel between Christ’s obedience of faith and the Christian’s obedience of faith, a parallel that I believe is fatally harmful to the gospel: our faith has to be an obedient faith just like Jesus’s.

    Without any further differentiation such a construction slides into a faith + formulation, whether that is the intention or not. I.e., I’m willing to accept some FV protestations that this is not the intention of the formulation. O.k., then we need to make biblical differentiations.

    Thanks for your differentiation brothers.

  26. Ron Jung said,

    December 4, 2008 at 9:58 am

    From an outsider:

    This has been one of the best dialogues (in tone and content!) you all have had on the FV. Thank you for this.

  27. rfwhite said,

    December 4, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Lane’s post and the discussion are striking. Can we say, then, that one major disagreement that some of us have with the FV formulation of Adam’s pre-fall faith is that it conflates that faith with the (post-fall) faith of sola fide, which, in turn, diminishes the uniqueness of Adam’s role as our first federal representative as well as the uniqueness of the two Adams and their works (if you will, works of [pre-fall] faith)? … Trying to sharpen and summarize the criticism. Help!

  28. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Dr. White: yes.

  29. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    The question I’d put to you guys is this: Is Christ’s faith an example for us?

    And if you believe it’s dangerous for us to think so, then are you also aware that you’re not just calling the “Federal Vision” dangerous, but you’re also calling Bruce Ware’s view on this dangerous…?

  30. greenbaggins said,

    December 4, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Dr. White, that is precisely the point at issue, in my opinion.

    Pete, in the sense of knowledge, assent, and trust, there is no reason to say that Christ did not have faith. However, saving faith looks outside itself to rest in an alien righteousness. That is plainly NOT something that can be predicated about Jesus. Therefore, Christ’s faith is an example in terms of knowledge, assent, and trust, but not in any other way. As is so often the case, something that Christ does winds up being exemplary in some ways, and unique in other ways.

  31. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Greenbaggins: Yep… there are differences in the faith of Christ and the faith of Christians. I’m pretty confident Doug wouldn’t deny that actually.

    Bruce Ware explicitly argues that Christ’s obedience to the Father was a faith-wrought obedience. And he draws THAT connection between Christ and the Christian.

    So… does that mean Bruce Ware has to go in the FV box?

  32. rfwhite said,

    December 4, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Pete Myers, re: 29-31, I would agree with Mr. Greenbaggins. You may be right about D. Wilson’s affirmation of the differences between the faith of Christ and the faith of Chirstians. The Joint Statement doesn’t answer that question, as far as I can tell. It’s worth re-reading with that question in mind. As for Dr. Ware, based on your report, my opinion is that his affirmation that Christ’s obedience to the Father was a faith-wrought obedience, similar to that of Christians, would not be a point of dispute. A dispute would arise if Dr. Ware did not distinguish carefully between Christ’s faith and the faith of sola fide. Every indication I have of Dr. Ware’s work is that he would make that distinction.

  33. jared said,

    December 4, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Reed,

    I don’t know why Adam’s faith would need to differ in type from Jesus’ faith (or our own, for that matter); the issue is not what kind of faith, but how successful that faith is in accomplishing a particular end. For example, Adam’s faith was not salvific in any sense because there was nothing from which he needed to be saved. But why should his peculiar end necessitate a fundamentally different kind of faith than that faith which accomplishes another end? I’ve been thinking that the issue isn’t primarily a works covenant versus a faith covenant which, I believe, is a misunderstanding of what’s going on in the Scripture narrative as a whole. Faith is fundamental in both covenants because there is no obeying or pleasing God without it. Adam’s success was dependent on his faith and his works whereas my success is dependent on my faith with my works. Adam’s faith failed and his works failed as a result. My faith cannot fail because (1) it isn’t mine and (2) it isn’t dependent on my works in particular (though my works will always accompany it). What FV wants to emphasize is that Adam, no less than Jesus (and us) needed faith first and foremost. They want to say that Adam’s test wasn’t “do this and live” as much as it was “believe me and live” because the doing is supposed to flow from the believing. How is that different from today? It’s different in that Christ has done the “doing” part for us already but the “instrumentality” is the same, that is living faith (or faith with works).

  34. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    rfwhite: Sure, but I’m sure that Doug Wilson would distinguish between Christ’s faith and the faith of sola fide on the same points that Dr Ware would.

    My point is this: if you listen to the lecture given by Dr Ware that I linked to above, then he’s saying basically the same thing as the FV guys are. Dr Ware doesn’t – in that lecture – carefully pick apart the differences between the faith of Christ and the faith of Christians, he doesn’t qualify himself in any way.

    So he’s said as much as an FV-er at this stage. Why assume bad faith with an FV-er and assume good faith with Dr Ware?

    What’s more, Bavinck says this about the covenant of works and the covenant of grace: “In both there is one faith: then, faith in God; now, faith in God through Christ; and in both covenants there is one hope, one love, and so forth.”

    Bavinck is saying the *same thing* as the FV proponents here, earlier he says: “There is no such thing as merit in the existence of a creature before God, nor can there be since the relation between the Creator and a creature radically and once-and-for-all eliminates any notion of merit. This is true after the fall but no less before the fall. Then too, human beings were creatures, without entitlements, without rights, without merit.”

    The Federal Vision joint statement is almost identical to Bavinck on this point: “We deny that continuance in this covenant in the Garden was in any way a payment for
    work rendered.” and “We deny that Adam had to earn or merit righteousness, life, glorification, or anything else.”

    Bavinck says that “Religion is always the same in essence; it differs only in form.” Bavinck thinks that the covenant of works and the covenant of grace are the same in essence, but differ in form. That similarity of essence extends to there being one faith, one hope and one love.

    For Bavinck there *is* a distinction between faith in the covenatn of works and the covenant of grace. But it is the *same* faith – there is only *one* faith.

  35. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Jared… puts things very well again.. and again his summary reflects Bavinck in RD, Vol 2, p.570.

  36. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Jared:

    As to your ruminations on Adam’s faith, I guess a critical problem for me is that I do not see the Bible talking about the faith of Adam or Christ in the same way it talks about the faith of the Christian. Even with all the helpful differentiation we’ve identified here, we are simply engaging in an exercise of logical necessity.

    What we are not doing is discussing the Bible’s own formulations. Adam is presented as one who had to obey – any faith in view is implicit, not explicit. So when the FV wants to talk about Adam’s faith, then Christ’s faith (again implicit), the FV is making explicit applictions based on implicit items, and re-working the whole system of Scripture at the same time (at least in my opinion).

    Your construction on the face of it sounds o.k. There are enough caveats to remove any stumbling blocks. Yet this is not how Scripture presents Adam or Christ in their work as Federal heads.

    (No disrespect intended toward FV writers Jared, but I’ve yet to see these kinds of qualifications from any of them. I’ve read quite a few things from them that, if they agree with your formulation, would create fundamental conflicts with other things they’ve written. I wonder to what degree you are reading into their loose formulas your own understanding. To that degree, you are not agreeing with them.)

    This last paragraph really takes me into my key frustration with the FV project. I do appreciate the “problems” the FV initially sought to address (e.g., the status of covenant children). My frustration is that the FV solutions are no better (at least) than the standard reformed solutions, and introduce a host (can I say legion without anyone thinking I’m trying to be pejorative ;-) ) of other problems – problems at the core doctrines of our faith.

    As a former 20 year dispensationalist (’80 to ’00), I am actually very, very happy with the standard reformed solutions to these problems. By God’s grace and mercy I am raising my covenant children to trust in Christ without any of the usual reformed uncertainty about their status. Not only do I not need the FV solution to this problem, the FV solution would mess my kids up.

    Similarly, I read your ruminations here and I ask myself, “why, why do I need this? How does this advance my understanding of the Bible and my faith in Christ?’

    If all the FV means is the kind of thing you summarize in your last two sentences, then my question is, why the convoluted, controversial, and confrontational way of saying it? When reasonable challengers (consider the Knox Colloquim) say “wait a minute,” why the continuing confusion? It seems as if the key FV voices began by putting a characterization of reformed theology in their cross hairs.

    To end where I began, I go back to this question: why do we need to make something that is implicit (Adam’s faith – Christ’s faith) the foundation for solutions when the existing explicit (Adam’s obedience – Christ’s obedience) is sufficient for the problems at hand?

  37. Todd said,

    December 4, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Pete,

    The following is from Bavinck’s “Our Reasonable Faith,” chapter on the covenant: Do you think FVers would agree with Bavinck below?

    “if this salvation is not the sheer gift of grace but in some way depends upon the conduct of men, then the covenant of grace is converted into a covenant of works. Man must then satisfy some condition in order to inherit eternal life. In this, grace and works stand at opposite poles from each other and are mutually exclusive. If salvation is by grace it is no longer by works, or otherwise grace is no longer grace.”

    “The one, great, all-inclusive promise of the covenant of grace is: I will be thy God, and the God of thy people. … this promise is not conditional, but is as positive and certain as anything can be. God does not say that He will be our God if we do this or that thing.”

    “The covenant of works which was concluded with man before the fall was violable and it was violated, for it depended upon changeable man. But the covenant of grace is fixed and established solely in the compassion of God. People can become unfaithful, but God does not forget His promise. He cannot and may not break His covenant; He has committed Himself to maintaining it with a freely given and precious oath: His name, His honor, and His reputation depends on it. It is for His own sake that He obliterates the transgressions of His people and remembers their sins no more. Therefore the mountains may depart and the hills removed, but His kindness will not depart from us, nor shall the covenant of His peace be removed, says the Lord who has mercy on us (Isa. 54:10).”

    “This accounts for the fact that the covenant of grace, which really makes no demands and lays down no conditions, nevertheless comes to us in the form of a commandment, admonishing us to faith and repentance … the covenant of grace is pure grace, and nothing else, and excludes all works. It gives what it demands, and fulfills what it prescribes. The Gospel is sheer good tidings, not demand but promise, not duty but gift.”

    “But there can also be persons who are taken up into the covenant of grace as it manifests itself to our eyes and who nevertheless on account of their unbelieving and unrepentant heart are devoid of all the spiritual benefits of the covenant.”

    Todd

  38. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Pete:

    Might I add, I don’t know you from Adam. (Pun intended :) ). Todd’s quoting at length is more helpful than your snippet quoting. Not saying you are taking things out of context in Bavink. Just saying that without fuller context you require me to go look it up – a time expense that this conversation does not warrant.

    (No disrespect to you guys, but my wife, kids, and congregation are vastly more important in the use of my time. Spending time here with y’all is an awful lot like playing Risk or Halo; it may be fun but it’s not a priority. P.S. I haven’y played either in a long time, so you guys are at least more important than games ;-) ).

  39. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Reed,

    I’m quoting snippets because at the top of the conversation I linked to a post where I’ve quoted a whole section of Bavinck, with the relevant bits highlighted.

    Here’s the link again: http://www.metepyers.com/2008/11/23/bavinck-believed-adam-lived-by-faith/

    Now, on to what you said in brackets:

    I *do* know you from Adam, Reed… I know you from Christ. And even though I live on another continent, am not a Presbyterian, and have never met any of the involved parties in the flesh, the reason why I do care enough to engage with this whole discussion, to read lots about it, and then to challenge people… is because brothers in Christ are saying things about other brothers in Christ. And that matters – a LOT.

    I care about this simply because – being an outsider doing a whole lot of reading – it just feels like lots of you guys are bullying the FV guys. You assume the worst about them, you talk about them as though they’re the only people in the world to say these sorts of things, and – frankly – lots of the stuff you throw at them is just totally unjustified and/or actually held by other people who aren’t part of the FV movement.

    You are my brother in Christ Reed, so is Doug Wilson… and so I don’t understand why people so keen to hang him. And reading Green Baggins’ attempts to hang Doug from the FV statement, actually, there’s plenty of other non-FV Christians who would fit into the same noose. I guess, Reed, that’s why I think this is important… because real people get hurt when nasty things are said about them… and since such serious and major things are said about the FV, then we have to treat it as a major and weighty matter when it happens.

  40. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Todd,

    This is from Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2, p.570. Do *you* agree with it?

    It is clear, in the second place, that a creature cannot bring along or possess any rights before God. That is implicitly – in the nature of the case – impossible. A creature as such owes its very existence, all that it is and has, to God; it cannot make any claims before God, and it cannot boast of anything; it has no rights and can make no demands of any kind. There is no such thing as merit in the existence of a creature before God, nor can there be since the relation between the Creator and a creature radically and once-and-for-all eliminates any notion of merit. This is true after the fall but no less before the fall. Then too, human beings were creatures, without entitlements, without rights, without merit. When we have done everything we have been instructed to do, we are still unworthy servants (douloi achreioi, Luke 17v10). Now, however, the religion of Holy Scripture is such that in it human beings can nevertheless, as it were, assert certain rights before God. For they have the freedom to come to him with prayer and thanksgiving, to address him as “Father,” to take refuge in him in all circumstances of distress and death, to desire all good things from him, even to expect salvation and eternal life from him. All this is possible solely because God in his condescending goodness gives rights to his creature. Every creaturely right is a given benefit, a gifts of grace, undeserved and nonobligatory. All reward from the side of God originates in grace; no merit, either of condignity or of congruity, is possible. True religion, accordingly, cannot be anything other than a covenant: it has its origin in the condescending goodness and grace of God. It has that character before as well as after the fall. For religion, like the moral law and the destiny of man, is one. The covenant of works and the covenant of grace do not differ in their final goal but only in the way that leads to it. In both there is one mediator: then, a mediator of union; now, a mediator of reconciliation. In both there is one faith: then, faith in God; now, faith in God through Christ; and in both covenants there is one hope, one love, and so forth. Religion is always the same in essence; it differs only in form.

  41. Todd said,

    December 4, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Pete,

    Can you answer my question first? Then I will answer yours.

    Todd

  42. Sam Steinmann said,

    December 4, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Adam is presented as one who had to obey

    I think that here, we’re nearly at the core of the dispute as I understand it.

    The key issue is: Adam had to obey; Christ had to obey; do WE have to obey? Or is obedience a nice-but-fundamentally-irrelevant add-on to faith?

    I’m not Reformed, so I say “of course we have to obey.”

  43. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Todd,

    And to answer *your* question…

    The covenant of works depended on Adam… do the FV guys agree with that? Yes they do: “We affirm that Adam was in a covenant of life with the triune God in the Garden of Eden, in which arrangement Adam was required to obey God completely, from the heart. We hold further that all such obedience, had it occurred, would have been rendered from a heart of faith alone, in a spirit of loving trust. Adam was created to progress from immature glory to mature glory, but that glorification too would have been a gift of grace, received by faith alone.
    We deny that continuance in this covenant in the Garden was in any way a payment for work rendered. Adam could forfeit or demerit the gift of glorification by disobedience, but the gift or continued possession of that gift was not offered by God to Adam conditioned upon Adam’s moral exertions or achievements. In line with this, we affirm that until the expulsion from the Garden, Adam was free to eat from the tree of life. We deny that Adam had to earn or merit righteousness, life, glorification, or anything else.”

    For example, let me highlight this one sentence: “Adam could forfeit or demerit the gift of glorification by disobedience”

    Clearly the FV guys DO believe that the covenant of works depended on Adam. You could put it this way: they believe that the power to obey the covenant was not part of the covenant.

    HOWEVER, consistent with Bavinck, they believe that the obedience to the covenant was not a “meritorious working” but was an obedience that flowed out of a faith/trust in God. That faith is not guaranteed by the covenant of works.

    Here’s the difference: In the covenant of grace, *the command to believe comes with the power to believe*.

    This is essentially the difference between Adam’s innocence (which was perfect, but, could choose to not sin but could choose to sin), and the glorified saints’ maturity (which was perfect, and, couldn’t choose but to not sin).

  44. Sam Steinmann said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Re-readign my comment above, it is easily mis-read.

    I’m am NOT saying that the Reformed traditons does not generally affirm that obedience is necessary. I’m saying that only in the Reformed world would the question “is obedience necessary” arise among Bible-believing Christians.

  45. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Sam,

    Sadly we too easily believe that we “do not have to obey” because we misunderstand grace.

    We hear “Christ has freely saved us from our sins” and misunderstand by saying “does that mean I can just do what I want?” When we should hear that and say “that means I owe him everything.”

    Who said that then? Wilson? Wilkins? Heaven forbid: Shepherd?

    No… funnily enough, Keller :)

  46. Vern Crisler said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    So much confusion. The FV should be condemned for that reason alone. FVists are after church power, pure and simple. That’s why they stress the objectivity of the covenant so much, denigrate the subjectivity of salvation so much, and try to turn Adam into a non-persevering Christian. If only Adam had kowtowed to the absolute authority of his ecclesiastical betters, so to speak, he’d not have fallen. Thus, Christians who fail to do the same will also fall. That’s FV theology in a nutshell. It is an abandonment of Reformed theology, and there’s no confusion about that.

    Vern

  47. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Pete:

    I think maybe I was not clear enough in my Adam reference. I did not mean to impugne your faith. I merely meant that given this format we cannot know each other and give each of the kind of “take for granted” responses that we do those we rub shoulders with every day. Simple prudence requires us to grant each other more than just snippets. Consider it the kind of thing the Apostles’ Creed did for the early Church; it provided a means of accepting a stranger’s profession of faith at face value. That is all I meant.

    Thank you for your reference to your prior link. I have not had time to check it out. It may provide the kind of detail I’m looking for. I will get back to you as I can.

    As to the rest of your comment, you seem to care very much about the appearance that some of us are out to hang Doug Wilson, et.al. In response, I’d ask how much of this blog you have read? No intention of sounding nasty. Rather, it sounds from the intensity of your concern that you have not followed the whole conversation. (And that’s completely understandable, its been going on for a few years now, at the pace most of these posts demonstrate).

    Lane, nor other regular posters here who are opposed to the FV (those listed as moderators on the left sidebar in particular) have ever considered or spoken of Doug Wilson as anything other than a brother in Christ. We take his profession of faith at face value. Lane in particular has demonstrated a willingness to engage very congenially with Doug, inspite of substantial differences.

    Further, we strive to be very careful that criticism of positions does not devolve into personal attacks. I myself have been maligned with some very nasty labels for my moderation of those I believed were unfairly attacking those with FV positions. Lane has banned from his blog more anti-FV commenters than he has pro-FV commenters.

    Even charged interactions such as those between Gary Johnson and Doug Wilson carry a level of civility about them. To borrow from Doug Wilson’s vocabulary, while some of the comments may have a “serrated edge,” the intention in not to wound the person but rather the position.

    Finally let me simply note I do not believe any of the regular commenters here engage with any intention of destroying a fellow brother in the Lord. Rather, we engage because the issues are so serious. It sounds like you will disagree with this opinion, but I believe the FV (in general, some minor points notwithstanding) is at best heterodox and is inimical to the spiritual well-being of Christians.

    I fully recognize and respect that my FV brothers believe I am wrong. Their belief to the contrary does not mitigate my responsibility to be true to the convictions I believe God has placed on my heart, and act on them according to my calling. I strive to do so in a manner that is honoring to God.

    Take a look at Lane’s original post here. Do you really see anything in it which even hints that Lane’s motive is to “hang” Doug Wilson? Rather, is it not that Lane is interacting with the substance of Doug’s position?

    I appreciate your concern. I think you are over-reacting a bit. Even when things get a little heated here, we all tend to calm down and get back to smiling with one another.

    By the way, just out of curiosity, where are you, both physically (country) and spiritually (denomination)?

    reed depace
    pastor, 1st pres (PCA)
    montgomery al, us

  48. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Sam:

    I believe your options are insufficient for the Bible’s expression.

    > Yes we have to obey. But we can’t, indeed we won’t.
    > Christ has obeyed for us – his obedience is credited to me; in Christ I am accounted by God as righteous as Christ himself.
    > In this sense, no, I do not have to obey; i.e., in Christ I already have obeyed.
    > Evangelical obedience, that flowing after regeneration by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-10), is part of the fruit of my vital union with Christ; it is a expected blessing not an on-going obligation.
    > Such evangelical obedience is only required in the sense that it is a necessary consequence of being united to Christ; i.e., if such obedience does not follow in my life, then I’m never really united to Christ in the first place.
    > Such evangelical obedience is never required as a condition for being united to Christ; i.e., if I don’t obey I am not cut off from Christ because I was never united to him in the first place (see prior point).
    > For one who is united to Christ <disobedience is a non-sequitor; I already am perfectly obedient (Christ’s righteousness mine), and therefore I am to expect that obedience to demonstrate itself increasingly in my life.

    Paul’s arguments in Rom. 6 are very helpful here.

    Does this help?

  49. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Reed,

    I know that your reference to Adam was just a “turn of phrase”… however I just picked up on it to make the point I wanted to make.

    Frankly… I have read a LOT of this discussion, both on Green Baggins, and elsewhere. I just plain disagree with you about the nature of it. Heck – LANE LISTS THE FEDERAL VISION UNDER HERESY in his blog labels, next to Roman Catholicism and the New Perspective on Paul.

    Reading lots of Lane’s posts on this, and many, many comments, I do believe you guys are unfair to the FV. That’s why I’m quoting Bavinck at you… it’s also why I’ve tried to point you towards Bruce Ware. I’m confident that if you consistently applied the level of criticism to everyone else that you do the FV, then there’ll be just a handful of the “truly faithful” left in your little corner.

    I am an Anglican British Evangelical, but love Presbyterian theology. I’m currently based in Cambridge, UK.

  50. Joe Brancaleone said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Brett:
    “Did Adam’s obedience to God’s commands before the fall depend upon his faith in the promises of God? What initiates a Christian’s obedience today? Was the means by which Adam obeyed different than our obedience?”

    Joe:

    I don’t think it’s very helpful to try and parallel pre-fall Adam’s faith and the Christian’s faith, since they were not sustained in the same way and did not operate in their respective covenants in the same way.

    Before the fall, one could say Adam needed to “walk by faith” only in the sense that as a federal head he was obviously obligated to take God at his word. But not only was Adam to take the promise held out by God to be sure, he also needed to believe the certainty that there would be visitation of covenant stipulations upon him and all whom he represented depending on his obedience.

    That’s precisely why the tactic of the serpent was to get Adam and Eve to question both the *certainty* and the *fairness* of the terms of the covenant. Resultant unbelief in that sense (which resulted in disobedience) was to likewise question the terms and the outcome of judgment.

    The Christian’s faith in the promise of God is faith in another federal head, who on our behalf both fulfilled the terms of the covenant that guarantees the surety of the promises, AND who took the curse of the prior covenant upon Himself so that we do not enter into that judgment, AND who gives us the power and life to necessarily continue in said faith. Faith here operates only as the instrument of connecting us to the blessings already secured by Christ’s obedience (“*Through him* we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand”), while faith in Adam’s case was a covenantal condition of perfect faithfulness to maintain ongoing blessings and to receive further blessing held out in promise (“as by the one man’s *disobedience* the many were made [or constituted] sinners” … the implicit corollary would be future blessings through obedience).

    We can really only look at Adam post-fall as an example of one who walks by faith in the same sense as Christians walking by faith. When Adam and Eve stood guilty of breaking the terms of the covenant and deserved nothing but judgment by the covenant Lord, and THEN the Lord pronounced a promise of blessing through the obedience of another, that is the moment where faith in the Christian sense took place. Their subsequent actions of accepting the animal coverings, naming his wife Eve, naming their children appropriately, etc. were the demonstrable works proving their faith in the promise.

    There’s a reason why the rest of scripture never uses words like “grace” or “faith” when speaking of Adam in the garden. Instead it uses terms like “dis/obedience”, having “broken” the covenant, “transgression”, etc. This is so that we are perfectly clear that pre-fall Adam “was a type of the one who was to come.” (Rom 5:14), NOT an example of how the Christian walks by faith.

    Furthermore, though Adam was innocent in the garden, he did not have God’s Law written on his heart in the sense promised by God about members of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31. The sheer graciousness of the new covenant includes the promise of the Holy Spirit empowering and enabling its members to be sustained, through new hearts of flesh born from above, and beyond even the possibility of falling away and breaking covenant. This was obviously not a grace extended to Adam in the garden otherwise his heart would never have wandered from his covenant Lord to make a new covenant with the serpent. By contrast, faith operates in the covenant of grace by connecting us to the life incorruptible, eternal life. It’s a completely different means by which we now obey in comparision to how Adam obeyed.

    Also look how God promised a new work in Gen. 3:15. God himself creates enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent – dissolving the covenant b/w a certain portion of the human race and the serpent and thus turning them back to God, i.e. regeneration.

    j

  51. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    46, Vern,

    That’s a totally unfair representation of the FV.

    It’s exaclty this kind of stuff that makes the FV seem far more godly that it’s critics.

  52. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Pete, no. 45:

    You are presenting a mischaracterization of to what most critics of the FV hold. See my comments to Sam in no. 48.

    The issue is what does “have to” mean. I am aware the most FV’ers will say they agree with my comments. I am also aware that they speak with enough confusion that Vern’s challenge is fair and needs to be heeded. The FV simply saying “no, that’s not what I mean,” and then repeating the same formulas given to as least easy misunderstanding is simply not helpful.

    If the issue were as simple as it seems, we wouldn’t have so much debate. Doug says he agrees with many of the criticism in the various anti-FV positions, and then adds that these aren’t the FV positions. I’ve been listening since Steve Wilkins first AAPC (’01 I think). If this were all that there is, then why hasn’t the FV removed the confusion for those of us who apparently don’t seem to understand?

    If the answer is that we are motivated by a desire to harm these men, then why not write us off and ignore us? I continue to be very, very tired of the accusations that I don’t understand and that I must be motivated by evil when I speak against the FV (Gary, I’m echoing you here).

    The Knox Colloqium was a good effort. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had another one of those?

  53. David Gadbois said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    I don’t know why Adam’s faith would need to differ in type from Jesus’ faith (or our own, for that matter); the issue is not what kind of faith, but how successful that faith is in accomplishing a particular end.

    This is shockingly bad theology. Are we really to be so indifferent to the fact that

    1. The object of faith differs in both cases. In the CoW, Adam would have believed in God, in His goodness and trustworthiness, and the goodness of His Law. In the CoG, we are to believe in God’s salvation in the particular person and work of the God-man – whose incarnation and suffering under Pontius Pilate occured in historical time and space. The former involves trust in God as Creator and Sustainer. The latter involves trust in God as Savior. The former acknowledges that God is good and worthy of being obeyed. The latter acknowledges that God is also gracious.

    2. The character of faith in both cases differs. Adam was not trusting in an alien righteousness. The righteousness, had he obeyed, would have been intrinsically his. I trust we don’t have to debate this, do we? In the CoW, Adam was to trust that by doing the works of the Law, he would live. In the CoG, we are to trust in what Christ did for us. Only the latter character is passive and receptive. Only in the latter are we directed to a work and righteousness outside of ourselves.

    Yes, the general notions of belief and trust are involved in both cases, but that does not justify blurring the two into one category.

    Adam’s success was dependent on his faith and his works whereas my success is dependent on my faith with my works.

    This seems confused. What, exactly, is “success” in this context? The condition of the Covenant of Grace is faith alone, not works of any kind, in order to be “successful” (receive eternal life). This seems to blur justification and sanctification together. It also seems to miss that our works, in the CoG, uniquely flow from gratitude for what Christ already did.

  54. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Joe:

    Why do we have to disagree on this? What don’t you like about these statements:

    1) If Adam obeyed God, he would eventually have eternal life.
    2) If Adam disobeyed God, he would die.
    3) Adam’s obedience would flow out of his belief and trust in God (his faith)
    4) Adam’s disobedience would be a consequence of Adam not believing and therefore not trusting God (lacking faith).
    5) Therefore the covenant of life/works was something Adam *could* have walked in *by faith*
    6) However, *a* crucial difference between the covenant of life/works and the covenant of grace is that the covenant of grace provides the irresistible power to believe and obey, whereas the covenant of life/works did not provide such an *irresistible* power.

  55. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Pete:

    O.k., disagree with the nature of it. But to say that we are out to “hang” Doug Wislon et.al. is to impute wicked motive to us. How is that any better than what you think we are doing? Would it not be better to ask such questions first, and then when we clarify offer criticism where you think we misspeak? Why instead criticise under the assumption of our wicked motive?

    As to the “small corner” metaphor, please just drop it. I am not swayed by such silly accusations. That is nowhere near what is going on.

    As to how much you’ve read of this blog, your comment about Lane’s posting under “heresy” suggests you have not read very deeply. Have you looked in the archives to examine why Lane does this? If you have, then you’ll know that he means the same thing as I do by my use of the label heterodox.

    Seriously Pete, have you read very much of this conversation here, or are you just taking cheap shots at us. You are not demonstrating a fair reading of us. Isn’t that the same thing you accuse us of doing to the FV?

  56. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    52, Reed…

    Ok, all I’m telling you, Reed, is that I read Lane’s posts, and I read Doug’s posts, and I read all the comments to them.

    And as a total outsider… I don’t feel people are being fair to Doug’s position. I’m sorry if you don’t like that.

    And I’ve tried to point it out by giving you examples of people outside of the FV who believe the same/similar things.

    As an outsider, from my perspective, it looks to me as *not* as though you guys aren’t intelligent enough to understand the FV… but… as though there is an innate and inherent suspicion that prevents you from weighing what they’re saying fairly.

    And I ONLY say that, because, you criticise them for things that – actually – people you respect also say. For example, Bavinck believes there is one faith across the covenant of works and grace. If Doug said that… people would be all over him.

  57. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Reed,

    “What I am going to do here is list some reasons why the Federal Vision is heretical, and utterly to be abhorred. It should be noted that not all FV advocates hold to all these points. It is not a monolithic movement. Therefore, some of these points will apply to some and not to others.” – https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2006/11/30/why-is-the-federal-vision-heresy/

    https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/04/12/the-virtue-of-heresy/

  58. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Pete (no. 54):

    You are using such terms as “walk by faith” without any differentiation. This is exactly the kind of problem we have with the FV. This is a problem for us because this is NOT how the Bible speaks.

    Consider the clarifications David Gadbois offers a few posts previous. Do you not see the problems when you use such undifferentiated language? You make Adam’s pre-Fall experience out be just a variation of our post-Fall experience. The Bible goes to great lengths to differentiate the two however.

    Why does it bother you that we insist we stick with the Bible’s differentiation? (I know I am assuming a “high ground” here, please don’t take unnecessary offense).

  59. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    My point, Reed, is that Doug says the same thing as Bavinck when it comes to Adam walking by faith… why then are you so suspicious of Bavinck?

    I’m not imputing “wicked” motives to you. I am, however, suggesting that your approach to the question is “skewed”… for whatever reason.

    Don’t elevate what I’ve said above what I *actually* said.

  60. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Reed,

    3 things:

    a) the differentiation is primarily systematic, rather than biblical… for example, while there may be no explicit connections you can see… where are the explicit disconnections?

    b) Perhaps the term “walk by faith” IS actually alluded to in the Genesis narrative. I’ve felt it was *before* I ever came across the FV, Gen 3v8 implies the “walking with God” that is then picked up of the faithful in the rest of the Genesis narrative.

    c) Maybe we disagree? Ok, fine, we may disagree… but… Bavinck agrees with me. And so if Bavinck agrees with me, and you think that my view is “seriously wrong”, then you *also* think that Bavinck’s view is seriously wrong.

    Why do I keep banging on about Bavinck? Because… I was hoping people would take stock, and not be quite as dogmatic about the “wrongness” of the FV position on this, if they saw that a highly respected Reformed theologian took the same view.

  61. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    And yet Pete, Todd gave a quote from Bavinck thay suggests he did not say the same things as the FV.

    I’m going to stick to my criticism here Pete. You are being unfair to those of us who oppose the FV. You demonstrate you have not read deeply enough to be fair in your criticisms. It is offensive for you to assume a wicked motive on our part (out to hang DW) and then ignore my gently pleadings that you are misspeaking. So now I’ll be more blunt. You are guilty of that which you charge.

    It is fair to offer the Bavink (et.al.) challenges. That actually does help us determine if we are misunderstanding ( we’ve spilled lots of digital ink doing the same with a host of other respected reformed writers). I

    t is not fair for you to keep challenging a wickedness in us without acknowledging our defense. Please cease.

    Feel free to engage the question of whether or not Lane is reading Doug accurately. Please do not spend your time trying to prove we’re out to get anyone. This is a blog where we are interested in developing our understanding, not dealing with silly charges.

  62. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Reed,

    I have EXPLICITLY said that I’m not charging you with being wicked.

  63. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Pete:

    No. 58, sorry, but I do not think I’ve elevated what you said. You questioned motice (out to hang). I offered you at least two posts in which to respond and clarify. A simple “that’s not what I meant,” would have sufficed. You chose to ignore that and insist on making a point that you have insufficient proof for – and are disturbed that we do not seem to want to respond to you.

    My criticism in no. 60 stands. I believe in your effort to demonstrate that all that is going on is a serious misreading of the FV by us, you are hauling out tired shibboleths that we are frankly done with discussing.

  64. Joe Brancaleone said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Pete:

    (6) is not the only crucial difference. The “walking by faith” / faithful obedience of Adam was the basis for which blessings would be bestowed upon him AND upon others. That’s why its unhelpful to talk about Adam as “walking by faith” since immediately we would tend to conjure up the NT descriptions of Christians walking by faith, when it’s not the same thing by a longshot. We are not called to take God at his Word so that our covenant faithfulness will meet the terms which result in blessings being bestowed on others whom we represent.

    Adam taking God at his word, and Jesus taking God at his word (“I am come to do the will of him who sent me”) are in a class of their own. The entirety of the human party represented in the covenant would stand or fall by what resulted from that individual’s “faith”.

  65. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    I apologise for using language that’s obviously hurt more than intended. I’ve linked to some posts, and given a quote (57) that demonstrate why I suggested that.. and tried to show a little bit more understanding of this blog than simply this one discussion.

    To be fair – all you’ve done so far is just *assert* that I haven’t read what I claim to have read.

  66. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Pete: a backhanded way of explicitly not charging wicked motive. Does “out to hang” even infer “skewed”?

    I know I’m on your case here. Sorry about that, but your comments truly do sound like so much of the deflecting and evasive behavior of others here who have only wanted to score Brownie points.

    May I suggest that you read a little closer my criticisms. I am more than willing to accept that you are not making your point very well. That is not what you are claiming however.

  67. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Joe, 64,

    I know that’s not the *only* crucial difference, which is why I emphasised the *a* crucial difference.

    63,

    Reed. I’m sorry that I questioned your motives. I apologise. From 57 can you at least see why I’d think that?

    Let’s separate out some of these issues:

    1) The two quotes of Bavinck.

    2) The actual issue of Adam’s faith.

    3) How the FV is read/understood/treated.

    Am I right in saying that we have these three issues now floating around? Can we separate out any others?

  68. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Pete:

    “To be fair – all you’ve done so far is just *assert* that I haven’t read what I claim to have read.”

    No, that’s not what I’ve done at all. I asked you a series of questions about how deeply you’ve read, as your comments included accusations that would not be made by someone who has read as deeply. Your reference to the heresy label is case in point.

    Just consider this for a moment Pete. Maybe I was being helpful in suggesting your criticisms are off target, and that a deeper reading of the conversation would have helped you better focus your comments. That is, in the end, what I am after.

    You may very well have something to say that will be of tremendous value. Making the kinds of criticisms you have does not help that.

    That’s all I’m trying to get at. Is that o.k.?

  69. David Gadbois said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Pete, that DW and Bavinck both use the term “faith” in a broad sense that includes the motive and character of Adam’s obedience does not exhonerate DW and other FVers from the problems Lane actually listed in the article above. Nor does Bavinck’s rejection of the idea of merit. Re-read the post. Lane never even mentioned merit. Specifically, he took issue with the FV Statement saying

    1. “the gift or continued possession of that gift was not offered by God to Adam conditioned upon Adam’s moral exertions or achievements”

    2. “Adam was created to progress from immature glory to mature glory, but that glorification too would have been a gift of grace, received by faith alone”

    Now, you keep harping on us for being more suspicious of DW than of Bavinck. That’s because of context. Neither DW nor Bavinck come to us with a blank slate – they have larger bodies of written work. In this instance, the FV Statement is the immediate context of DW’s statements and beliefs concerning this issue. If Bavinck had said similar things to the FV Statement, then we’d pile on him, too. You can accuse us of being biased, but you cannot say that our biases are unjustified.

  70. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Reed,

    Can we just call “time out” for a second… because this is already more of a slugging match than I want.

    I APOLOGISE. Have I made that clear?

    Now, what do you make of the 3 topics on the table that I posted above?

  71. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Why don’t we just pick up the Bavinck issue?

    Are we all square on other counts?

  72. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks Pete for no. 66. Yes this does help. To be particularly focused, my concern these last series of (getting on you) comments is with no. 3.

    Let me try to be as transparent as I can: I am not out to get any FV’er. I count them as brothers. I sincerely and carefully have read most of what they have written (at least of the main voices). I have endeavored to ask questions before criticising. I still remain with serious doubts, doubts strong enough that I believe I still need to question and challenge.

    Given the previous, when someone tells me I’m not listening, or ignoring, or skewed in some way that is completely unreasonable, my immediate response is “oh please.” That this is a typical response from FV advocates leads me to even more simply ask, do we want to discuss, or do we want to throw around accusations? I’m all for the former; I have no time for the latter.

    So I’d say have at it with your first two points. Try to leave the last one alone, at least here at GB.

    Also, and particularly noted, thank you for your gracious apology. Please know that I was no where near as offended as this medium might suggest. I was attempting more to drive home a point than I was to secure an apology.

    Finally, thanks for your patience and not letting tempers rise over these last flurry of posts. As you can seen from the date/time stamps, we have been posting over one another. Another weakness of the blog – if we were face to face (over a pint?) we wouldn’t do that, and so avoid some of the tension this format has enabled.

    Again, thanks. I’ll try to get to the Bavinck quotes. Might you have time to consider Todd’s question?

  73. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Pete:

    To your last two comments, does my last comment help clear the air? If not, let me know and I’ll do what I can to help do so.

  74. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Pete:

    No. 60: you’ll have to do a lot more exegetical work to demonstrate that any “implicit” by faith in Gn 3:8 is analogous to say Gal 2:20’s usage. Even then you will need some differentiation, not from systematic considerations, but because the Bible differentiates.

    I think David Gadbois’ last comment is very helpful in this regard. We mean substantially different things in talking about a pre-Fall vs. post-Fall faith.

  75. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Reed, no 72

    Thanks for your longer post. This is indeed a problem with the blog medium.

    I understand where you are coming from about being upset/fed up with being accused of “not understanding” the Federal Vision.

    I guess from my perspective… I feel I have seen lots of people engage with FVers in lots of different contexts, and not fairly engage with what the FVers are saying, but then put up this barrier of “please don’t tell me that I’m misunderstanding you, I’m fed up of that”. So, I can see how – from both perspectives – this must be very, very frustrating.

    It’s heightened by the fact that one party believes the other to be potentially dangerous for the gospel, while the other party is feeling the pressure of being accused of being dangerous for the gospel. That’s not nice for either side!

    From my perspective, I guess I’d like to suggest two things:
    a) The FV guys are unconsciously not as clear as they could be for everyone else. I am not suggesting this is deliberate. But it sort of “ingrained” into the way they think now.
    b) The anti-FV guys are unconsciously overly-sensitive as they read/listen to FV proponents. I am not suggesting this is deliberate either. But, again, it seems to be sort of “ingrained” into the way they think.

    Now, I guess either side won’t be happy with what I’m saying there. It’s not intended to be antagonistic… simply as two explanations that – because of our sin – are in play as we engage with these sorts of issues. I suppose that’s born itself out in the way you and I have engaged with each other here, Reed.

    For example – I answered Todd back in 43… I’ve been waiting for his response since.

    I should have been a lot more careful right from the word go, and people would have been more likely to read my response properly.

  76. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Reed,

    On faith… I think one of the “pictures” of faith that we’re given in Genesis is this picture of “walking with God”. It appears first in Genesis 3v8, then appears in 5v24, 6v9, implied in 12v4-9, 17v1, … etc.

    That is not to deny there are differences in faith… or even crucial differences as we move from pre-fall to post-fall. But that, essentially, this “faith” is the same thing… but changes in form.

  77. Pete Myers said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    It’s VERY late where I come from. So, unless there’s a response soonish, I’m going to bed in the next few minutes, as it appears our discussion is over for now!

  78. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Pete:

    Yes, I went home have dinner with the family. Catch up tomorrow.

    P.S. Todd did respond right back. He asked you to answer his specific question first.

  79. jared said,

    December 4, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Reed,

    RE: 36

    Engaging response, as always; thank you. I think at its core the FV wants to place a healthy sized electric fence around complacency. I also think it wants to make sure the “tradition” part of “Reformed Tradition” doesn’t mean “complacency” (which eerily turns it into “RC”…). I’ve jumped on the bandwagon in a roundabout sort of way by using the FV controversy as an “excuse” to peddle my desire to see a serious reworking of the Westminster Standards; not because I think it’s central truths need to be changed but because such a reworking might, in the future, prevent something like the FV controversy from beginning in the first place. But enough of this tangent and to your concern(s). You say,

    Your construction on the face of it sounds o.k. There are enough caveats to remove any stumbling blocks. Yet this is not how Scripture presents Adam or Christ in their work as Federal heads.

    There’s a reason for this, neither of them were working for their own salvation; Adam didn’t need to be saved (initially) and Jesus was obtaining salvation because of Adam’s initial failure to believe (that is, his failure to obey by continuing to believe God rather than believing the Serpent instead). Scripture doesn’t present Adam or Jesus in their work as federal heads explicitly within the context of faith (or faithfulness) because as federal heads they were both perfect. Adam didn’t remain so and the burden was placed upon his progeny (that is, Jesus) to restore that which he had broken. This restoration was promised and accomplished by God. As I’m sure you will agree, whenever works are required in Scripture, they are always required from within the context of faith. Noah believed, and built the Ark. Abraham believed, and had his people circumcised. Moses believed, and delivered his people. David believed, and slew Goliath which eventually resulted in his kingship and the promise that the future king would come from his line. What is significant about these examples throughout is that belief results in something that can only be accomplished by God. They are all pictures that point to what Jesus would do.

    The same is true of pre-fall Adam; had he believed it would have resulted in his eventual glorification. Because of this, Adam’s failure is on scale more grand than the minor (in comparison) failures of the others, but they all point to the One who would not fail. Jesus succeeds in every way that those before Him could not: in belief and in action. Because of this, the formulation in the new covenant (and, thus, explicit in the text of the new testament) is not faith and works, but faith with works. Moreover, neither the faith nor the works are our own, but they are given to us in whatever measure (some strong, some weak) the Father has seen fit to give. Thinking of the Scripture narrative this way helps prevent the creation of a false dichotomy between works and faith; works were never intended to be the primary (and certainly not the only) means to the respective covenantal ends. Adam needed to believe, Jesus needed to believe, we need to believe. Another false dichotomy this prevents is between works and grace. Again, works were never the sole intended medium for achieving the promised ends. And those ends could only be obtained (pre-fall and post-fall) by the good grace of God. Pre-fall that grace could’ve enabled Adam to withstand the test. Post-fall that grace enables us to withstand the test via the Christ. You continue,

    I read your ruminations here and I ask myself, “why, why do I need this? How does this advance my understanding of the Bible and my faith in Christ?’

    You need this for the same reason I do, the same reason all Christians do: as a reminder that love covers a multitude of sins. The description of Jesus as the second Adam is meaningless if we take faith out of the equation. Why? Because Jesus exemplified perfectly that in which Adam failed: complete submission to the will of the Father. How does this advance your understanding of the Bible? It helps center all things around faith, hope and love. Those three are present and operating from the beginning through to the end. As for helping your faith in Jesus, well that’s entirely up to you. You continue,

    To end where I began, I go back to this question: why do we need to make something that is implicit (Adam’s faith – Christ’s faith) the foundation for solutions when the existing explicit (Adam’s obedience – Christ’s obedience) is sufficient for the problems at hand?

    Because it saves us from complacency. Because you can’t separate faith and obedience since obedience is (or is supposed to be) the result of faith. This seems abundantly clear given Adam’s failure and Jesus’ success. Adam’s failure to obey was a failure of his faith in God by allowing the Serpent to twist and warp His word (well, there’s the whole providence thing too, but this doesn’t need to be overly complicated). All of this to say, of course, that I’m okay with the terms “covenant of works” and “covenant of grace” and that I honestly don’t see what the fuss is about here either. So FV’ers want to say Adam would’ve been glorified upon being obedient and that that obedience could only be faith-wrought. Great, how is that substantially different from the “old” formulation? Who ever thought that Adam’s obedience would have been anything but faith-wrought? How could it not be faith-wrought? So FV’ers want to say this faith is by grace alone. And what meaningful faith isn’t? Maybe I just don’t get it.

  80. David Gadbois said,

    December 4, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Pete and josh,

    Please, enough of the ‘what’s the problem?’ routine. I see a serious lack of interaction with the actual criticisms that Lane leveled against very specific points and wording in the FV statement.

  81. jared said,

    December 4, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    David Gadbois,

    You say,

    This is shockingly bad theology.

    Thanks for criticizing my being in the PCA for 28 years. You continue,

    Are we really to be so indifferent to the fact that

    1. The object of faith differs in both cases. In the CoW, Adam would have believed in God, in His goodness and trustworthiness, and the goodness of His Law. In the CoG, we are to believe in God’s salvation in the particular person and work of the God-man – whose incarnation and suffering under Pontius Pilate occured in historical time and space. The former involves trust in God as Creator and Sustainer. The latter involves trust in God as Savior. The former acknowledges that God is good and worthy of being obeyed. The latter acknowledges that God is also gracious.

    How does this demonstrate a difference in type of faith? Sure, what is being trusted is different between the two covenants but that there is trust is my point. Moreover, the trust is the same: living faith that’s supposed to result in obedience. For Adam it did not. The test was not more than he could withstand, but he faltered nonetheless. For Jesus it did/does. He withstood it all so that we don’t have to. His faith was absolutely perfect so we don’t have to be (because we can’t be). But Jesus’ faith was not different from Adam’s in type, only in depth. You continue,

    2. The character of faith in both cases differs. Adam was not trusting in an alien righteousness. The righteousness, had he obeyed, would have been intrinsically his. I trust we don’t have to debate this, do we? In the CoW, Adam was to trust that by doing the works of the Law, he would live. In the CoG, we are to trust in what Christ did for us. Only the latter character is passive and receptive. Only in the latter are we directed to a work and righteousness outside of ourselves.

    Again, how does this demonstrate a difference in type? Of course Adam did not need an alien righteousness, but he did need the very same thing we do: a living faith in the word of God. Our faith results in salvation which was obtained for us by the obedience another. Adam’s faith would’ve resulted, ultimately, in his glorification which he would’ve obtained via his own obedience. But that obedience could only be faith-wrought, just as Jesus’ and just as ours. The difference is quantity/quality and not type/kind. You continue,

    Yes, the general notions of belief and trust are involved in both cases, but that does not justify blurring the two into one category.

    Perhaps not but you have not begun to demonstrate otherwise. I said “Adam’s success was dependent on his faith and his works whereas my success is dependent on my faith with my works.” and you responded,

    This seems confused. What, exactly, is “success” in this context? The condition of the Covenant of Grace is faith alone, not works of any kind, in order to be “successful” (receive eternal life). This seems to blur justification and sanctification together. It also seems to miss that our works, in the CoG, uniquely flow from gratitude for what Christ already did.

    Success is achieving an intended result, what is confusing? The problem with your language (and one of the things the FV has been trying to get you to see) is that “condition of” and “not works” don’t go together. If there’s a condition that needs to be met then there is something that must be done to meet it. Of course, what we don’t want to do is turn faith itself into a work, right? The problem is that Scripture tells us faith really is something we do and something that results in further doing. I will readily grant that there has been a great deal of confusing equivocation occurring around the concept of “works” and maybe a clearly defined concept would go a long way in reconciling some of the odds and ends there are between FV’ers and their critics, at least on some issues. Moreover, I disagree that our works, in the CoG, flow uniquely from our gratitude for what Jesus has done; rather they uniquely flow from the living faith and heart of flesh given to us by God. Gratitude is good an all but it isn’t faith and, therefore, it isn’t exactly the best place from which works should be uniquely flowing. I’m also not entirely sure how any of this is blurring the lines between justification and sanctification. Oh, maybe because I said my success (i.e. receiving eternal life) depends on faith with works rather than faith and works? Yes, faith, if it is not accompanied by works is dead and a dead faith cannot justify. So my justification is not dependent on those works (and neither is my sanctification, really) but if I don’t have those works then I don’t have the faith which is the basis of my justification and my sanctification. So I have to have faith with works (or a faith that works, or a faith which necessarily produces works, or a faith that is always accompanied by works, or an obedient faith, or a living faith, or however you want to formulate it) in order to receive eternal life. This is a subtle and important difference. For Adam, faith and his works gets him glorification. For me, faith gets me glorification and that faith will produce works. But those works don’t have anything to do with my glorification except in as much as they simply verify that I have a living faith (the same kind of faith Adam and Jesus had). Is this still shockingly bad theology?

  82. David Gadbois said,

    December 5, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Who ever thought that Adam’s obedience would have been anything but faith-wrought? How could it not be faith-wrought? So FV’ers want to say this faith is by grace alone. And what meaningful faith isn’t? Maybe I just don’t get it.

    The problem that you share with the FVers is that this tenuous chain of reasoning is…well, a tenuous chain of reasoning that has no warrant from Scripture. Scripture everywhere talks about faith *in the post-lapsarian sense* being the result of grace, and never makes such a connection with pre-lapsarian faith. Only if we buy into your equivocation does this reasoning work. Instead we find the NT teaching that neither grace nor passive/receptive faith is compatible with a principle of works in justification:

    if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

    the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”

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

    But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.

    Now, if you are trying to say that Adam’s pre-lapsarian-faith-motivated obedience would have been decreed and effected by God, as the First Cause, we would agree. But the Bible does not label any and all of God’s non-obligatory actions and decrees as ‘grace.’ That term is reserved for His treatment of sinners in the face of demerit.

  83. David Gadbois said,

    December 5, 2008 at 1:25 am

    How does this demonstrate a difference in type of faith? Sure, what is being trusted is different between the two covenants but that there is trust is my point.

    Because the difference in object and character of faith makes the chain of reasoning you employ break down. The “Adam should have believed, Christ believed, so now I should believe” reasoning doesn’t work if it is a different kind of belief in different things. If I told you to trust that this bologna sandwich tastes good, that doesn’t serve as an example for you to trust that Lord of the Rings is a good novel. Sure, ‘belief’ and ‘trust’ is involved in both…but that does not compel anyone to the latter conclusion.

    Success is achieving an intended result, what is confusing?

    I didn’t say it was confusing, I said it was *confused*, because it does not distinguish between the ‘intended result’ of justification and sanctification. When we talk about CoW vs. CoG we are talking about how we are justified unto eternal life. Your arguments gloss over this.

    The problem with your language (and one of the things the FV has been trying to get you to see) is that “condition of” and “not works” don’t go together.

    Well, Mr. 28 Years in the PCA, perhaps you should let the Westminster Larger know about this:

    Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?

    The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant…and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him.

    Moreover, I disagree that our works, in the CoG, flow uniquely from our gratitude for what Jesus has done; rather they uniquely flow from the living faith and heart of flesh given to us by God.

    Speaking of false dichotomies…

    Of course Adam did not need an alien righteousness, but he did need the very same thing we do: a living faith in the word of God.

    It is not the ‘very same thing’ if Adam needed a living faith in God’s law, and we need a living faith in the Gospel. Both are the word of God, but they are not the ‘very same thing.’ And Adam needed more – perfect obedience. Precisely that which is not compatible with a receptive faith in Christ.

    You may protest that we do ‘need’ works as well in the CoG. That works accompany true, saving faith does not mean that works are the ground or even instrumental in our justification. It only means that works are a *descriptive* condition of our justification, not a prescriptive one. Whereas with Adam works were a prescriptive condition, in that it was both instrumental and the ground of Adam’s justification (had he obeyed). With all of these discontinuities, how does the ‘Adam shoulda had faith, Jesus had faith, so we need to have faith’ have any force at this point?

  84. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 5:22 am

    Reed, 78, Sorry, I must be missing something, I thought i had answered Todd’s question. Here’s an attempt to clear up some of the loose threads I can see hanging from our discussion. I hope there’s no bad blood between us now?

    David, 80, This whole thread is a big mess. For my part in that, I didn’t mean to create such a stir or sound so personal, and I’ve apologised for that.

    Ok, in a nutshell, 2 statements from Bavinck:

    1) Bavinck says in RD Vol 2, p.570, when talking about the covenant of works, that, because religion is always essentially the same, Adam’s relationship with God, covenantally, was one of faith.
    2) Bavinck also says in ORF in the chapter on the covenant, that the covenant of grace is wholly God’s work, and if it was man’s work in any way, then it woudln’t be grace, but would be a covenant of works. I don’t have a copy of ORF, but, this is totally consistent with my reading of Bavinck in – say – volume 3.

    Firstly, the Federal Vision… what do they say about the covenant of works?

    Yes, I think it is, in the section on the “covenant of life” in the FV statement, they say this “Adam was required to obey God completely, from the heart.” and “Adam could forfeit or demerit the gift of glorification by disobedience, but the gift or continued possession of that gift was not offered by God to Adam conditioned upon Adam’s moral exertions or achievements.”

    In other words, the FV statement is saying that:
    a) The Covenant of works depended on Adam, and could be broken by him.
    b) But the essential way in which the covenant of works depended on Adam was not one of merit/works, but of faith.

    Secondly… what does the Federal Vision say about the covenant of grace?

    In the section on “Justification by faith”, they say: “We affirm we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone. Faith alone is the hand which is given to us by God so that we may receive the offered grace of God.”

    So, the FV statement is affirming that faith is *given to* us, and we are saved by that faith.

    Let me try and put this my own way:

    1) The covenant of works and the covenant of grace are both essentially calling the human parties to *faith*… I think Bavinck’s point in RD vol 2, p.570 is – that’s what a covenant *is*.
    2) The covenant of works stands or falls on Adam’s “keeping” covenant… which means he either faithfully obeys, or unfaithfully disobeys. If he faithfully obeys he hasn’t *earnt* anything. And so he’s not *working* for a *reward* in that sense. However the eventual covenant blessings (of eternal life) will be freely given to him if he remains in the covenant. But – this is crucial – *The covenant of works does not provide Adam with that faith irresistibly*. Again, I think that’s – essentially – what Bavinck’s saying.
    3) The covenant of grace comes with the irresistible power to be kept (in other words to persevere in the faith), because Christ has done everything, and in the covenant I’m united to him. But because of this, the covenant of grace is all of Christ. The FV guys have at least got this right, when, in their section on Union with Christ they say “What matters is that we confess that our salvation is all of Christ, and not from us.”

    Finally… this is obviously related to the question of unbelievers partaking in the covenant (it’s no accident that Lane and Doug have been debating the Adamic faith/John 15 stuff side-by-side I don’t think… they’re connected). Here is where I would differ slightly with Bavinck’s language… but I think simply to use more Biblical language – and (I’d like to emphasise this) – I think that this language is more consistent with the way Bavinck *treats* the issue. At the end of Todd’s Bavinck quotation (no37) Bavinck says this:

    “But there can also be persons who are taken up into the covenant of grace as it manifests itself to our eyes and who nevertheless on account of their unbelieving and unrepentant heart are devoid of all the spiritual benefits of the covenant.”

    Rather than contrast “what we can see” with the “spiritual”… I think I’d contrast “the flesh” with “the spiritual”. In other words, “there are unelect unbelieving persons who are taken up into the covenant of grace *according to the flesh*… who nevertheless on account of their unbelieving and unrepentant heart are devoid of all the spiritual benefits of the covenant.”

    The language of “flesh” is simply because, they experience some invisible benefits of the covenant – but those benefits are tied to *this world*.

  85. Todd said,

    December 5, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Pete,

    Others have already answered well instead of me so I won’t repeat their answers, but you are reading too much into Bavinck to try to conform him to agree with Wilkins and co. By the way, according to your last post, what invisible benefits of the covenant do the non-elect in the covenant experience in this life?

    Todd

  86. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Todd,

    I guess I don’t see how others have answered this point about Bavinck. I’m not sure I see how I’m reading too much into him.

    I’m not suggesting that Bavinck is exactly where the FV guys are – by no means! However, it seems very clear to me from RD that Bavinck believed that Adam’s relationship with God in the covenant of works was one of faith.

    People have argued that the content of that faith is different… and they’ve argued that the things that faith needs to achieve is different. Fine… but I’m struggling to see the argument that very clearly puts the TR camp within Bavinck’s frame of thinking and very clearly puts the FV camp outside of it.

    Invisible benefits of the covenant received by non-elect members of it? Sanctification of the flesh… which would include some aspects of thinking in a less ungodly way. At root, of course, that thinking is still totally unacceptable to God, because the bottom line is it’s being used idolatrously.

    An example of this would be a guy from Cambridge, UK who used to be a really godly pastor, and was renowned for his scriptural insight, very well respected by solid conservative evangelical men… but who then fell away very dramatically by having a gay affair and leaving his wife.

    I’m sure that – for a time – he experienced some visible and invisible benefits of the covenant. The visible/invisible distinction probably isn’t the best one here… probably best to simply say fleshly benefits of the covenant.

    Look… please help me here guys. If the FV are seriously wrong on this kind of stuff, I’d love to see that clearly. I genuinely would. But for as much as I’ve been accused in this discussion of not adding any content… I’ve felt that it’s reciprocal at points – and indeed that the content I /have/ added hasn’t been addressed properly, or acknowledged.

    I”m reading through Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics. And I’m now halfway through volume 3. And from my reading so far, I can see genuine points of overlap with the FV camp.

  87. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 8:50 am

    #85 again,

    In fact, Todd, people definitely haven’t answered my points in #84 because the reason I was repeating that stuff was because Reed hadn’t read my respond to your question in #43, and kept asking me to answer you.

    So… Reed thought I hadn’t even answered you… if that’s the case he *can’t possibly* have addressed the issues I’ve raised.

  88. Todd said,

    December 5, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Pete,

    See David’s response in #69. I’m no Bavinck expert, but when I read him, I have enough of Bavinck’s work before me to see that he was bi-covenantal, and saw the covenants of works and grace as polar opposite ways of salvation (works vs. grace), and means of salvation (perfect obedience of works vs. faith alone apart from any works). When Bavinck deals more philosophically with the question of merit in the creator-creature relationship, you shouldn’t see in those reflections on merit a flattening of the distinctions between the two covenants that he so clearly states elsewhere.

    Now, as to the benefits of the covenant to the non-elect, I’m glad you backed off your “invisible” category to describe a a man who outwardly becomes a better person because of his association with the covenant. You do realize that Wilkins clearly disagrees with you on this key point?

    Todd

  89. Ron Gleason said,

    December 5, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Dear Brother Myers,
    As someone who knows a little something about Bavinck (my doctoral dissertation was on him and I’m writing an English biography on him), you cannot claim him as a friend of the FV. Not even close.

  90. GLW Johnson said,

    December 5, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Now wait just a minute Gleason. So you wrote you PhD diss. On Bavinck and you studied at the two schools where Bavinck taught,The Free Univ. of Amsterdam and Kampen. And you spent ten years pastoring in Dutch speaking churches in Holland and you are writing the first English biography of Bavinck, not to mention you were one of the judges at the Bavinck conference that was held this year at Calvin theoloical seminary. So what? Just how does that make you more of an expert on Bavinck than you run -of-the mill Federal Visionist who are reknown for being experts on everything??!!

  91. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Todd & Ron,

    Look guys… so far you’ve told me that Bavinck sees a clear distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. I agree. I’ve tried to describe that difference, I’ve tried to answer the points people have raised.

    But your response in #88, Todd, seems to imply that I was trying to flattent the distinctions – I have NOT tried to do that AT ALL in this discussion.

    And your response in #89, Ron, is very helpful… thank you for really moving the discussion onward.

    You’ve confirmed one thing for me, and that’s that this blog comment medium is useless for really discussing issues. If anyone cares enough about this to want to help me see the dangers behind the FV, and to convince me that I’m wrong about Bavinck, then feel free to email me: peterdanielmyers —— at ——- googlemail —- dot —– com

    I understand that nobody may have the time, or inclination, to do that. But flashing your credentials in my face without offering any actual help is making me feel like it’s a lot harder to try and be godly in this discussion.

  92. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 9:50 am

    This is exactly the kind of spirit of discussion that makes me feel like you guys over the water just aren’t sitting down and discussing the issues fairly.

    If you’re so clever… then why do I feel so unhelped???

    If I’m flirting with theological disaster, I’m still not clear as to how or why???

  93. Reed Here said,

    December 5, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Now, Gary, sarcasm will win you no new friends ;-)

    Pete: I missed your response to Todd in 43. Trying to multi-task at the time. And yeah, we’re square.

    As to the experience of “temporary” faith, we had an extended discussion on that about a year ago (3-part). Very informative.

    As to the differences between Bavinck and the FV, the problem as always is in the details. In one of your last posts it sounded like you were saying, “yeah, there’s differences between faith pre / post-Fall, but so what, they are still the same thing in the end.” If I’m reading you right, it appears that you do not find the differences to be material.

    How about your take on John 2:23-25? Are there material differences in the faith in view, or was Jesus making much ado about nothing?

    Finally, in most of our circles, the label “TR” is a pejorative, and almost always used unkindly. Given your context, I expect you picked this up from a thread somewhere and weren’t aware of the negative context. It’s almost as bad as calling DW a heretic (not that I am ;-) ).

  94. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Reed,

    I am really sorry for using “TR”. I’ve picked it up in lots of different places (think I first heard in on an mp3 debate). And I’ve thought it sounds like the most /positive/ label (I’d rather be labelled “Traditional Reformed” than “Federal Vision”…)

    Faith. Bavinck says in Vol 2 that there is *one* faith across the covenants.

    Now, I guess the problem I’ve been having is, that, I’ve been presenting stuff that Bavinck has said, and, rather than exegeting Bavinck – people have just quoted other bits of him.

  95. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Reed,

    So… it depends how “material” material differences are supposed to be :)

  96. Reed Here said,

    December 5, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Pete:

    It’s “truly” reformed. If it were traditional reformed I wouldn’t mind the label either. ;)

    And yes, the “materialness” of the differences is the material that matters. :)

    Coming from a dispy background, what appealed to me most about reformed doctrine is its cohesive coherency – it makes sense of the whole and the parts.

    With reference to Adam-Christ-us and the nature of faith, I again point you back to the series of posts here from David Gadbois. He is helpfully noting material differences that the FV seems wont to make. And without those differences, our exegesis degenerates into a conundrum machine.

    With reference to your reading of Bavinck, does he note any differences? I suspect he does. I would investigate with you, but I have not been able to afford the set yet.

  97. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Reed,

    1) Adam-Christ-us: David Gadbois has illustrated how the content of the faith of Adam, Christ and us is different, but not the /nature/ of it, I don’t think.

    There is a material difference in the nature of the faith of Adam/Christ and us… that difference in nature is that the faith I have is *irresistibly given* to me. Whereas that’s not the case with Adam and Christ.

    2) Bavinck… all the way through this discussion I have recognised that Bavinck does note differences. Feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall here. Let me say it three times, just so we’re all clear I agree:

    Bavinck notes differences between the covenant of works and covenant of grace.
    Bavinck notes differences between the faith Adam had in the covenant of works and the faith we have under the covenant of grace.
    Bavinck notes differences in the way in which the covenant of works and the covenant of grace achieve the goals they’re given for.

    In fact… to be really explicit… Bavinck thinks both covenants have the same *end*, but supply different *means*. However… he still explicitly says there is one faith across the covenants.

    To draw that out: Bavinck does *not* think that the distinction is between a covenant of not-faith and a covenant of faith.

    I am *not* arguing that there are NO DIFFERENCES here.

  98. greenbaggins said,

    December 5, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Pete, you might check to see about who is in the covenant of grace. It seems to me that this is one of the biggest issues in FV theology. The FV’ers simply cannot affirm WLC 31, which rules out of court the possibility of a “non-elect covenant member.” Of course the CoG has an administration, which includes all who are connected with the church. However, the essence of the CoG is made with the elect. Ron can correct me here, but I believe that this is Bavinck’s definition of who is in the CoG as well.

  99. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Lane,

    Errr… ok… I’m pretty confident that I agree with you that Bavinck differs with the FVers on how we count who is “in” and “out” of the Covenant of Grace. How does that help?

    Basically.. on the point of whether Adam’s relationship with God in the covenant of works is one of faith, as it relates to your post above, concerning the section on the Covenant of Life in the FV statement…. On my reading of Bavinck there is essentially one faith that is true across the covenants, though there are significant differences in that faith and those covenants, this seems to be close enough to the FV statement to make me think that the FV guys aren’t seriously wrong on that issue, as they’re pretty close to Bavinck on it.

    But, it seems that I’m horribly wrong in that assertion. It seems that, actually, Bavinck doesn’t support my thesis at all, and that I’ve misread him terribly. It also seems that I’m simply too dumb to understand how that’s the case, and that I’m just too dumb to understand what you guys are saying in this thread.

    So, with that, I’ll leave you all with your mysterious gnostic reasons for why teh FV are dangerously wrong on this particular count. And you can all feel good that someone who feels reasonably sympathetic to the FV has said that – for a change – he’s not clever enough to understand you, rather than the other way around.

    :) no hard feelings… but reading Bavinck he just feels closer to Doug than to you on this. I’m sorry if I’m just too thick to see where I’ve got that wrong.

  100. Reed Here said,

    December 5, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Pete:

    No need to the gnostic nastiness. That’s another of the FV taglines demonstrating more a willingness to denigrate than to debate.

    I guess it comes down to that most of us here have had this debate, noting the critical differences between the FV and a traditional reformed view as that expressed by Bavinck.

    You are asserting something different, and the references you’ve made are insufficient at least to persuade us.

    Maybe we have read and discussed more. Maybe the kind of response DW gave Gary is so typical that we’re not surprised when DW seems unable to give a straightforward response.

    Maybe even more he and the rest of us just don’t have the time to demonstrate why Bavinck is nowhere near the FV. Frankly, such conversations in the past have left all of us unsatisfied.

    That doesn’t mean anyone is gnostic. Again, that is some of the FV silliness that just gets no traction with us. It’s like being called a facist by a socialist.

  101. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Reed,

    Sure… ok… let me get this straight. Is this a fair simplification of what’s happening here, from both angles?

    The FV guys say some stuff that you guys don’t like. Now we have a problem.
    – So you guys say to the FV guys “We don’t like it when you say X, it sounds unfaithful”
    – The FV guys respond “Well, we’re not saying X, we’re actually saying Y, it’s closer to X than Z, but it’s not X… you obviously didn’t listen to us the first time.”
    – So you reply with “No, no, what you’re saying isn’t X exactly necessarily, but it is B… which is clearly a subset of X for these reasons, blah, blah…”
    – The FV guys returns with “No! If you think that B is a subset of X, then you obviously don’t understand B properly…”

    and this repeats itself ad nauseam… much to the irritation of both sides.

    So I come into the discussion here, I’ve read around a bit, I’ve been following things for a while, and I’ve listened to lots of different things. But ultimately I’m not *in* the situation… so I fully admit that I’m not going to see things as clearly as either of the other sides.

    But, anyway… I enter this particular discussion. I hear DW say something, and Lane respond to him saying “here you are again harping on about X”, but when I read DW, I don’t read him saying “X”… he clearly seems to me to be at “Y”. But when I say that to you guys, you say to yourselves “oh no, not this again!” And so, from your persepective, either I (a) haven’t listened properly myself, (b) am just being difficult, or (c) don’t understand the issues involved.

    I can see how that would be annoying.

    From my perspective, however, criticisms of the FV I’ve listened to/read I honestly don’t think reflect the reality of what I’ve read/listened to of the FV. On this thread, there’s points where *I* honestly haven’t felt listened to, or my points been properly addressed… and the range of responses I’ve had have been things like: (a) It may say that there, but what about here, (b) let me prove that there’s some disconnection between X and Y, which therefore proves you’re wrong that X and Y are connected in any way, (c) you’re wrong but I haven’t got the time to show you how… etc. etc.

    From your perspective, I’m irritating, because I can’t see the *obvious problem* with what DW is saying. From my perspective, you’re dodging the issue, assuring me that you all know what Bavinck is *really saying*, and that I should just trust you guys that the FV is dangerous.

    I think it is fair to say that this medium is not going to provide any resolution. And, as someone with ***zero*** investment in either side (other than the pain of watching this controversy beginning to create unhelpful stirs over in the UK) I just can’t see how the FV are *that* wrong. Maybe I’m listening to the wrong debates on mp3, maybe I’m reading the wrong criticisms of the FV. Maybe I’m just not converted or something.

    But if you’re saying to me, Reed, that “we’ve dealt with all of this before, and we don’t have time to go into it here” it’s obvious that this medium isn’t going to resolve any *real* discussion is it?

  102. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 5, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Re # 80:

    Where on this thread have I performed a “what’s the problem” routine? All I have done has been to point out the trust that the Messianic psalms express in God as the one who draws the Anointed out of the grave…

    Re # 22-23, 30

    I think it is important to include Jesus’ fiducia, trusting, in His father, not simply assensus. And that trust in the Father was as Savior, in some sense: the one who would save the Anointed from death. See Luke 23:46, where Christ prays Ps. 31:5a: “Into your hand I commit my spirit.” That verse continues: “you rescued me, Yahweh, God of truth.” I would say rescue, since the usual translation, “redeem,” doesn’t fit well in applying it to Christ. This is echoed in Ps. 16:8-11 as well: an expression of trust that God would not allow him to remain in the grave.

    And this faith of Christ was meritorious: he was the perfect Son who trusted all the Father promised. He also trembled at the threatenings of Scripture, though not on his own account, since he was innocent, but since he knew his task was to bear the threatened punishment for his people. Of course, the principle act of saving faith is receiving Christ, which Christ himself obviously did not do, so we wouldn’t call his faith “saving faith” according to the terms of ST or the WCF. The merit of Christ’s faith is part of the merit that is imputed to us: just as the perfection of his good works covers and completes the imperfection of ours to earn the reward, so also the perfection of his trust and reliance upon the Father covers and completes the imperfection of our faith.

    Re #82:

    ‘Grace’ is not used only to refer to demerited favor in Scripture–see Luke 2:52.

  103. David Gadbois said,

    December 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Joshua,

    My mistake. I meant to type “Jared.” I couldn’t tell you why I said Josh.

  104. Reed Here said,

    December 5, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Pete:

    As with all simplifications, it hits and misses. No, it is not a matter of irritation. It is a matter of having covered all this ground before, with no movement toward resolution.

    Have you read, The Auburn Avenue Theology, Pros and Cons: Debating the Federal Vision. The Knox Theological Seminary Colloquium on the Federal Vision,/i> (ed. E. Calvin Beisner)? This provides as good a fair summary of the divide as anything.

    The FV may be exploratory, and it may in time refine in such a way that we appreciate valuable insights. So far, it appears to many of us opposed, it has produce a lot of heat, confusion, and difficulties – outside the congregations of the men promulgating it. And no one went on a witch hunt. Even the earliest denominational statement opposing it came in response to pastoral needs within the denomination.

    To answer your particular point would require some hours of study, to either prove or disprove what is a relatively minor point. Assume for a second (sorry Ron G.) that Bavinck was a proto-FV’er. So what. That does not mitigate the concerns we have.

    This is because, contrary to another lame accusation from the FV side (we’re reading our historical theology wrong), our concerns are first-order concerns – they grow out of our own understanding of the biblical passages, not simply someone’s talking points.

    No desire to belittle you Pete, but as least for me your Bavicnk point has not been worth pursuing. I take comfort in the opinion of a Bavinck expert like Ron G that my choice to not spend my time in such has been wise.

    And no, I’m not saying such efforts are worthless. We’ve done this same thing with numerous other reformed “dignitaries” that the FV has claimed in support of their position. Usually those conversations have ended up with neither side being persuaded to the contrary.

    In the end (and I reached this point a while ago), I think this is something we are going to have to leave in the hands of God, and agree not to fight. This means we will have to agree to disagree.

    Me, I need to be busy shepherding my family and the congregation God has put under my charge. I suspect for others here, similar thoughts have stoppted them from more interaction.

    It’s not annoying, it’s a question of whether or not it is God honoring.

  105. jared said,

    December 5, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    David Gadbois,

    Now we’re getting somewhere; you say,

    The problem that you share with the FVers is that this tenuous chain of reasoning is…well, a tenuous chain of reasoning that has no warrant from Scripture. Scripture everywhere talks about faith *in the post-lapsarian sense* being the result of grace, and never makes such a connection with pre-lapsarian faith. Only if we buy into your equivocation does this reasoning work. Instead we find the NT teaching that neither grace nor passive/receptive faith is compatible with a principle of works in justification

    The Bible doesn’t speak of pre-lapsarian faith at all, in fact. Since Scripture only speaks of faith as being the result of grace, and we know that Adam needed faith (because he couldn’t be obedient otherwise), well, I wouldn’t call this chain of reasoning either tenuous or unscriptural. I realize that the NT teaches that faith and works are incompatible for justification in our post-lapsarian world; this is why I have distinguished between faith and works from faith with works. Pre-fall Adam (and Jesus) needed the former, we need the latter. I don’t know how or why this would require a different kind of faith. I also don’t know how Adam could have faith and works without grace, just like we can’t have faith with works without grace. Again, we have the problem of an ill-defined concept of “works” at play. You continue,

    Now, if you are trying to say that Adam’s pre-lapsarian-faith-motivated obedience would have been decreed and effected by God, as the First Cause, we would agree. But the Bible does not label any and all of God’s non-obligatory actions and decrees as ‘grace.’ That term is reserved for His treatment of sinners in the face of demerit.

    Well of course Adam’s pre-lapsarian-faith-motivated obedience would’ve been decreed and effected by God; everything is. Adam was, originally, not in need of the special grace that we are privy to. I don’t know how or why this means he was not given grace at all or that the grace given him was (or would have been) the basis of any faith and/or obedience on his part. You continue (in comment 83 now):

    Because the difference in object and character of faith makes the chain of reasoning you employ break down. The “Adam should have believed, Christ believed, so now I should believe” reasoning doesn’t work if it is a different kind of belief in different things. If I told you to trust that this bologna sandwich tastes good, that doesn’t serve as an example for you to trust that Lord of the Rings is a good novel. Sure, ‘belief’ and ‘trust’ is involved in both…but that does not compel anyone to the latter conclusion.

    Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t; you have not shown either way. I will readily grant that the reasoning doesn’t work if it is a different kind of believing, but so far you’ve only shown that Adam believed something different than what we believe, which doesn’t affect my reasoning/position in any way; I agree. Adam had to believe in God’s spoken word and we have to believe in the Incarnate Word. The object is different, but the believing is not. Your meat/novel example actually supports my view. The kind of belief involved in that example is the same (and, I will happily agree, that kind of belief is different from the kind of belief taught in Scripture). If you told me bologna was good and I believed you, why would that belief be any different given your suggestion that LotR is a good novel? My belief doesn’t change, only it’s peculiar object does (your suggestion regarding meats versus your suggestion regarding books). The kind of belief given both suggestions is the same. Moreover, if you told me bologna is good and it turns out that you are right, that would serve as a valid basis for believing you that LotR is a good book. You were right about the bologna, why wouldn’t you be right about the book? You are not helping your case here; you continue,

    Well, Mr. 28 Years in the PCA, perhaps you should let the Westminster Larger know about this

    It isn’t as simple as just letting the Westminster Larger “know about this”, though I’m sure you’ll agree that the Standards are not Scripture. Continuing,

    It is not the ‘very same thing’ if Adam needed a living faith in God’s law, and we need a living faith in the Gospel. Both are the word of God, but they are not the ‘very same thing.’ And Adam needed more – perfect obedience. Precisely that which is not compatible with a receptive faith in Christ.

    The faith that Adam had would’ve been the same as the faith we have (and the faith Jesus had). I agree that Adam needed more, but how does that prove his faith was different? You say that perfect obedience is not compatible with a receptive faith in Jesus, but that is an odd saying since that receptive faith supposedly includes His perfect obedience… (and it does, but you are being inconsistent here). Going on,

    You may protest that we do ‘need’ works as well in the CoG. That works accompany true, saving faith does not mean that works are the ground or even instrumental in our justification. It only means that works are a *descriptive* condition of our justification, not a prescriptive one. Whereas with Adam works were a prescriptive condition, in that it was both instrumental and the ground of Adam’s justification (had he obeyed). With all of these discontinuities, how does the ‘Adam shoulda had faith, Jesus had faith, so we need to have faith’ have any force at this point?

    I agree that works are not the ground of our justification, or even instrumental. I agree that works are a descriptive condition of our justification, that works merely validate (or verify or whatever you want to call it) the reality of a saving faith (and that faith is the basis and instrument of our justification). For Adam it was faith and works, but you still haven’t shown how his faith would be different from mine except that I, because of the new terms of the new covenant, do not need works.

  106. Reed Here said,

    December 5, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Jared:

    Might I question your critical presupposition?

    You said, “and we know that Adam needed faith (because he couldn’t be obedient otherwise),”.

    How do we know this?

  107. rfwhite said,

    December 5, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Joshua, re: 22-23, 30,102, thank you for picking up the pieces of our brief interaction about the acts of Jesus’ faith. I had hoped someone else would add the notitia and fiducia aspects to the lone assensus aspect I had broached in talking about His faith. Christ’s faith more than prevails in all three aspects, doesn’t it? I want to think more about your comments on the merit of Christ’s faith.

  108. Pete Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Reed,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I guess I’ll just keep reading Bavinck and praying/thinking things through. I’ll take a look at that book you suggest. Most of the stuff I’ve read on this aside from web exchanges has been reports from the various bodies and Presbyteries.

    I, indeed, need to pastor my family and congregation too… so I’m not going to pursue this any further here.

    I’d love to pray for your family and ministry, though Reed, so do please drop me an email at peterdanielmyers —- at —– googlemail —- dot ——- com

    I promise *not* to raise any FV issues over email. But since we’ve interacted in this way, I’d love to be lifting your ministry up in prayer.

  109. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 5, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Dr. White,

    Thanks for noticing. I will say that the FV debates have led me into certain reflections that I mightn’t have run into otherwise, so it’s been edifying in that way at least. I’d suggest that the faith (notitia, assensus, & fiducia) of Jesus of Nazareth is a part of his high priestly work–tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin. Certainly one of the great temptations that besets the pilgrim is a lack of faith, and it is comforting to know that Christ wrestled with this as we do, and so he is sympathetic when we pray about that struggle. But it is far more comforting to know that his perfect trust (and perfected through testing–not as though he just breezed through everything because, hey, he was the eternal son) in the Father is given us in our union with him, and so our weak faith is perfected and completed by his. The wilderness and Gethsemane are given to us as ours as part of that bestowed righteousness.

  110. rfwhite said,

    December 5, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Joshua, re: 109, I should have been more precise: I want to reflect more on your comments about the imputation of the merit of Christ’s faith. The merit (worth, value) of His faith is unfathomable, beyond measure.

  111. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 5, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Joshua and Dr. White (#19 et al.):

    Thanks for putting the Scriptures together in a way I hadn’t seen before.

    If we think of faith as an instrument that receives (guided here by Rom 4), then what do Jesus and we, respectively, receive by faith?

    My list:

    Jesus: help for His trials (wilderness, Gethsemane, crucifixion); status of ‘author of our salvation’ and ‘atoning sacrifice’

    Us: a share in all of the above.

    Thus, our faith is *like* Christ’s in that it receives the same set of benefits; but unlike His in that it receives them derivatively, from participating in His headship.

    Is this fair?

    Jeff Cagle

    P.S. It may be misleading to ask whether Christ’s faith was ‘meritorious’ — it wasn’t condignly meritorious, nor was it congruently meritorious, so …

  112. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 5, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    “What would have happened if Adam had obeyed?”

    Had Adam obeyed, we’d all know the answer.

    Since he didn’t, we don’t.

    I move that we toss this question into the bin marked “Self-referentially irrelevant.”

  113. rfwhite said,

    December 5, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Jeff C, re: 111, while contemplating your comments, it occurred to me that we should add Ps 22:8-9 to the texts that help us understand the faith of Jesus, even with v 8 being the testimony of His opponents and v 9 being His own testimony to His faith.

    8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

    9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
    you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

  114. rfwhite said,

    December 5, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Consistent with what others have introduced above, can we not say that, by faith, Jesus believed to be true whatever is revealed in the Word, because of the authority of God himself speaking in it? Can we not also say that He also responded differently to what each particular passage contains—obeying the commands, trembling at the threatenings (albeit as the priest for His people and not for His own sin; e.g., Gethsemane), and embracing the promises of God for this life and for life after death? As others have pointed out, however, in His faith, He did not exhibit the principal acts that distinguish the grace of saving faith to the elect in that He did not–and did not have to–accept, receive, and rest upon His Father and the Spirit alone for His exaltation after humiliation. He did not look away from Himself to Them for a righteousness that was alien to Him. However, as the Second Person of the Godhead who, in His humiliation, obeyed the will of the First Person in the power of the Second Person, He did accept, receive, and rest upon Them for the fulfillment of His mediatorship and its rewards, by virtue of the covenant of redemption. Does this makes sense? Correct this, as needed, please!

  115. jared said,

    December 6, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Reed,

    A fine question. One, however, I have already answered. We can see that faith is never separate from obedience. Noah and the Ark, Abraham and circumcision (and Isaac, and lots of other things), Moses and the exodus, David and Goliath, Jesus and the cross. Adam represents the ultimate failure and the rest of the OT figures paint pictures of the promised success that was finally obtained by Jesus. Or how about, as one Puritan put it, “Faith is the lodestone of obedience, and obedience is the touchstone of faith.” Or maybe as Paul put it (speaking within the context of liberty no less), “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” Or what about the author of Hebrews, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” If Adam had obeyed God it could only have been by faith; this is how Scripture presents faith and obedience over and over. For the life of me I can’t understand the difficulty of this. Please, someone, show me how you could be obedient to God without faith. Or show me a legitimate faith that does not have obedience tagging along. Anyone?

  116. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 6, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Hi Jared,

    The open question is whether the two Scriptures you reference (Rom 14, Heb 11) are speaking *absolutely, for all time*, or only for the post-lapsarian situation.

    There is one consideration that suggests the former.

    In order for Adam to obey, he would have needed to trust God’s warning: “in the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.” This consideration applies doubly to Eve in her moment of temptation. We see somewhat of faithlessness in her corruption of God’s command (“or even touch it…”). This suggests that Adam obeyed by faith.

    On the other, there are two considerations that suggest the latter. First, as pointed out above, Adam had the ability to walk with God directly. So for him, faith to the extent that he had it was not “evidence of things unseen.” Nor did he have to “believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him”, which is the way that Hebrews 11 develops faith. No, Adam was past that point — he saw God directly and knew, by sight, that God was.

    This suggests that perhaps the kind of faith that is necessary in order to please God in Hebrews 11 is *not* the kind of faith that Adam needed. Joshua’s point in #19 that the list of faith heroes begins with Abel is worth considering here. Perhaps that’s just because Adam fell. Or perhaps it’s because his situation was completely different.

    Second, if we think of the eschaton as a restoration of Eden, then it seems reasonable to draw parallels between the two. Faith will certainly not be needed in the eschaton; thus, (runs the argument), faith was not needed in Eden either.

    So I don’t think “Adam’s faith” is a slam-dunk case either way. My own opinion is that Adam needed the faith to trust in God’s sanction for disobedience, but that this faith was unique to his situation and unlike the faith described in Heb 11.

    But more importantly, I don’t think it’s a useful question! The answer itself is speculative; how much more speculative would be conclusions drawn from the answer?!

    So this is where I depart strongly from Dr. Jordan’s analysis of Adam in The Federal Vision. In Jordan’s view, Adam would have trusted in God, passed the probation (presumably with Eve having failed, but he doesn’t go there), and been given the right eat from the Tree of the KoGaE, and been raised from a death-like state into a state of glorification.

    It’s a delightful, creative, imaginative piece. But Dr. Jordan’s purpose is not to delight, but rather to lay the foundation for the idea that our situation parallels Adam’s in certain ways. Specifically, he wants to argue that our faith resembles the faith that Adam would have had to have had; and that Adam’s obedience would not have been ‘meritorious’ but purely receptive of God’s promises — just as Abraham’s was (TFV 164), just as ours is.

    And the prize, for Jordan, is to deny a “Covenant of Works” and replace it with a “Covenant of Life.”

    And that’s the place I can’t go. It’s just too many layers of speculation, too many unexamined and unproven axioms to be able to say, “Thus saith the Lord.”

    So while it can be entertaining to think about Adam’s faith, I don’t find the answers there to be useful in thinking about our own faith, because we just don’t know how and to what extent Adam’s situation is like ours. It’s an interesting question, but whatever answer we find for it must remain in isolation from the rest of our theology because the Scripture provide sufficient support for our answer to be at the level of “good and necessary inference.”

    Jeff Cagle

  117. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 6, 2008 at 9:54 am

    last para #116: “…because the Scriptures do not provide sufficient support…”

  118. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 6, 2008 at 9:57 am

    #112 was elliptical and obscure. Here’s what I meant:

    “What would have happened had Adam obeyed?”

    Had Adam obeyed, we would all know the answer because we would not be limited by sin and could therefore ask God directly.

    Because Adam didn’t obey, we are limited in our knowledge to what the Scriptures tell us. And since the Scriptures don’t address the question, it is safe to say that we can’t know.

    So the question is futile; the only means for getting the answer is to go back in time and change what Adam did.

  119. jared said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Jeff Cagle,

    Thanks for jumping in, you’ve helped clear some things up for me. You say,

    On the other, there are two considerations that suggest the latter. First, as pointed out above, Adam had the ability to walk with God directly. So for him, faith to the extent that he had it was not “evidence of things unseen.” Nor did he have to “believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him”, which is the way that Hebrews 11 develops faith. No, Adam was past that point — he saw God directly and knew, by sight, that God was.

    Except this isn’t any less speculative than the former. Scripture seems, in both testaments, to affirm the fact that no man has ever seen God (Him being a Spirit and all) so I don’t know why Adam’s pre-fall situation should be any different. Why wouldn’t Adam need to believe that God is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him? Because Adam didn’t need to seek Him? It seems to me like seeking Him is exactly what would/could have prevented the fall. That is, had Adam maintained his faith (the only kind of faith that Scripture talks about) he would not have fallen. What’s the only way one can maintain their faith? Obedience. Scripture throughout is always tying the two together. It seems to me that suggesting Adam had some other kind of faith is more speculative than suggesting his faith was the same kind of faith (the only kind of faith) that Scripture talks about. You continue,

    Second, if we think of the eschaton as a restoration of Eden, then it seems reasonable to draw parallels between the two. Faith will certainly not be needed in the eschaton; thus, (runs the argument), faith was not needed in Eden either.

    Except that prophecies will cease, tongues will be stilled, knowledge will pass away and still faith, hope and love remain. You conclude,

    So while it can be entertaining to think about Adam’s faith, I don’t find the answers there to be useful in thinking about our own faith, because we just don’t know how and to what extent Adam’s situation is like ours. It’s an interesting question, but whatever answer we find for it must remain in isolation from the rest of our theology because the Scriptures do not provide sufficient support for our answer to be at the level of “good and necessary inference.”

    But if Jordan is right (and I think he made a compelling case) there’s some things that need to be reworked. Ultimately though, I agree with you. In as much as our salvation is concerned it isn’t vital. So now my question becomes why the fuss over CoW vs. CoL? If it doesn’t really matter (i.e. if salvation is still by faith through grace in either scheme) then why jump on the FV about this point? If we should keep our speculations about pre-fall Adam in isolation from the rest of our theology, then here is not a place we should be arguing.

  120. GLW Johnson said,

    December 6, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Jared
    Go over to Scott Clark’s blog and read the entry and comments on ‘ Is The Pope a Protestant.’ This is NOT a secondary issue.

  121. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 6, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    So now my question becomes why the fuss over CoW vs. CoL? If it doesn’t really matter (i.e. if salvation is still by faith through grace in either scheme) then why jump on the FV about this point?

    Out of all of the positions taken in the Federal Vision paper, I believe this one is mostly a red herring. I mean that in both ways: the original position was unhelpful, and the criticism of that position has been mired in bickering. Here’s the quote:

    We affirm that Adam was in a covenant of life with the triune God in the Garden of Eden, in which arrangement Adam was required to obey God completely, from the heart. We hold further that all such obedience, had it occurred, would have been rendered from a heart of faith alone, in a spirit of loving trust. [1]Adam was created to progress from immature glory to mature glory, but that glorification too would have been a gift of grace, received by faith alone.

    We deny that continuance in this covenant in the Garden was in any way a payment for work rendered. Adam could forfeit or demerit the gift of glorification by disobedience, but the gift or continued possession of that gift was not offered by God to Adam [2]conditioned upon Adam’s moral exertions or achievements. In line with this, we affirm that until the expulsion from the Garden, Adam was free to eat from the tree of life. We deny that Adam had to earn or merit righteousness, life, glorification, or anything else.

    The language in [1] requires too much — it affirms as a point of orthodoxy the Jordan-ian analysis of Gen 2-3 of “moving from immature glory to mature glory.” Why stake a point of belief on something so tentative?

    The language in [2] is unnecessarily provocative — it appears to challenge WCoF 7.2 directly , which says “life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience. ”

    Of course, the point in the FV statement is that “perfect and personal obedience” is not the same as “moral exertion”, and I agree. So the challenge is more apparent than real.

    But coupled with Jordan’s now-famous quote that WCoF 7 ought to be reworked, and coupled with reports that some FVers were teaching a kind of monocovenantalism, this position was read as an open door to a works-salvation. It was the classic Kline argument: deny the covenant of works, and what you get is no more covenant of grace.

    Assuming that works-salvation was not in view, which is what FVers down the line have affirmed, it seems that the language here was infelicitous and unguarded.

    But likewise, the response — I don’t mean Lane’s post here, but the whole response from ’06 onward, which is when I started paying attention — has focused narrowly on refuting CoL in favor of CoW. In my view, this has been a mistake — not the defense of the CoW, but the insistence that we reject the CoL. In my view, the CoL (with small modifications) can be co-opted as a form of the CoW.

    The point of CoL, charitably construed, is to refute certain interpretations of “conditioned on obedience.” In particular, it appears to me that the FV camp was rightly concerned that when people say “Christ earned our salvation”, what they have in mind is that there is an external and objective law by which we accrue merits and demerits — “condign merit” — and that Christ earned those merits for us and shoves them across the table to us when we believe.

    Even in Reformed circles, certain ways of presenting the Gospel come close to this.

    The problem with the condign merit model is that in Scripture, there is no external and objective standard of law. The Law of God is a reflection of His character, and we are righteous only insomuch as we love Him. In other words, righteousness is relational, always. And the Law comes from the Lawgiver; the Covenant conditions are set by Him, not by an external law of righteousness that binds Him.

    So the FVers wanted, I think, to move out of the condign merit model and into a covenantal righteous model.

    What should have happened here (speaking only for myself, and not as supreme judge of the PCA) is that on this point, both sides could have moved towards finding common ground, by

    (1) Acknowledging the positive points of the other side, and
    (2) Agreeing to a solution that satisfied the concerns of the other side.

    Lane, for example, has put forward the idea (claiming the mantle of the Reformers) that “merit” in Reformed Theology is not based on an external standard of righteousness, but on fulfilling the terms of the covenant: merit pactum. That’s exactly right (IMO).

    If I were king for a day, I would urge all sides even at this late date to try to work out a solution on those grounds, or else to discover why merit pactum is not the grounds for a solution.

    In fact, to go one step further, I think if we all agree that “merit” means “merit pactum”, then the way is clear for some of the denials in the FV statement to become affirmations.

    http://johannesweslianus.blogspot.com/2008/02/observations-on-merit.html
    https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2006/07/07/merit-in-the-reformed-fathers/
    https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2006/09/24/adams-merit/

    Jeff Cagle

  122. jared said,

    December 6, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    GLW Johnson,

    I read the post and the comments and I’m not sure how it’s relevant to this discussion. I’ve been talking about Adam’s faith and obedience, which he needed to continue on to whatever God would’ve had in store for him. Adam needed faith and obedience, his own personal obedience, in order to continue on to glory. We, in contrast (and thanks to Jesus) only need faith. The obedience part necessarily follows because the two always go together, but the obedience part of it for us is not instrumental or affective for justification. To suggest that Adam had some other faith seems extraordinarily problematic to me, but that question in particular does not harm one’s salvation or systematic theology in any meaningful way. I prefer my systems to be consistent and coherent, so I believe Adam’s faith was the same pre-fall as it was post fall. Since the circumstances had changed Adam’s obedience was no longer required (because of God’s promise of a redeemer) though it remained an integral part of the whole. If faith is not followed by obedience then it is not faith (hence Adam’s failure). We can see a clear picture of this in the New Testament when Jesus tells Peter to come to him on the raging waters. Peter gets out and stars going but then his faith falters and he is no longer able to obey; he begins to sink. Of course that obedience plays no role in justification, except in that it identifies a true faith. We can see that Peter’s faith is true because he is able to walk (even if only for a few steps), it was believing what Jesus said that affected this result. Peter was “justified” even before he got out of the boat simply because he believed what Jesus said. Moreover, we see that even when Peter’s faith begins to falter Jesus comes to rescue him. This is a great picture showing that salvation is total and it comes by faith alone. It also shows that obedience flows from faith and that even when obedience on our part falters (for any reason) Jesus is there to ensure that we continue on; none of those who are His can be lost. Am I mistaken here?

  123. Reed Here said,

    December 6, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Jared:

    Jeff’s done a good job of responding. As well, Gary’s made a good suggestion.

    I would simply add that you are presuming a degree of similarity between Adam’s “faith” and our faith. The issue is not obedience per se, it’s faith.

    Adam’s faith was not in someone else (a redeemer), it was directly in God. The challange from Satan was that God was not telling Adam the whole truth, that he did not need to give obedience to God.

    Our faith is in a redeemer (Christ) who obeyed for me (justification) and gives me his obedience (sanctification) (I’m deliberately writing generally here; please don’t assume into the silence :-) ). The challenge to us is to trust in our own obedience, rather than Christ’s. This is expressly opposite Adam, who could trust his own obedience would be sufficient.

    But note the similarity to both Adam and us is to doubt God’s word. The critical difference is God’s word spoken to Adam vs. us (trust in his own obedience vs. trust in Christ’s obedience).

    Thus, when I see the list of examples you provide, I see the differences a little more starkly between Adam and us.

  124. Vern Crisler said,

    December 6, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Doug Wilson said on his blog, in response to me: “To set faith (a motive for action) over against obedience (the action itself) seems to me to simply be confused.”

    Then St. Paul was confused since he said we are justified by faith APART FROM works. (Rom. 3:28.)

    FV, they name is confusion.

    Vern

  125. jared said,

    December 6, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Reed,

    I will, once again, happily grant that Adam’s faith was not in the same thing that our faith is in (though in a roundabout way it is, his trust was in God ours is in Jesus who is God, so). My question this entire time has been how does this make the faith itself different? It’s still trusting which results (or was supposed to result) in obeying. Adam’s obedience would have contributed to his “justification”, ours doesn’t. That is the only difference I can see; the faith is the same but the function of obedience in the grand scheme is not. How is this a bad thing? More importantly, how is this not a secondary issue? I’m not even the one questioning faith or it’s role in either case!

  126. David Gadbois said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    jared said Since Scripture only speaks of faith as being the result of grace, and we know that Adam needed faith (because he couldn’t be obedient otherwise), well, I wouldn’t call this chain of reasoning either tenuous or unscriptural.

    Again, this depends on your equivocation on the term ‘faith.’ If we do not grant this equivocation, your argument doesn’t work. In case you don’t understand by now, we don’t grant this equivocation. Whenever Scripture talks about faith resulting from grace, the ‘faith’ in view is specifically our Christian faith in Christ, not a general trust in God. There is no contextual warrant to believe that it is referring to a more general sense of faith that can be applied to pre-Fall Adam. You have a big exegetical problem. Ephesians 2 is not talking about ‘faith’ in a general sense of trust in God. It is salvific and Christocentric.

    I don’t know how or why this means he was not given grace at all or that the grace given him was (or would have been) the basis of any faith and/or obedience on his part.

    I already supplied this answer. The reason is because God’s grace is not the same thing as His goodness. You and the FVers have a basic failure in your theology proper. God’s grace is a subset of God’s goodness, but not all of His goodness is grace. God’s creative and sustaining acts constitute expressions of His goodness. God’s grace is expressed toward sinners who demerit His favor. Adam’s original character and constitution fall into the former category. To deny this is to make God’s creative actions gracious, a basic confusion of categories. God’s creative acts were non-obligatory, but that does not make them gracious.

    you also clearly haven’t reflected on the verses I cited. Paul teaches that works are not compatible with grace – but the CoW operated on just this works principle of “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” So the CoW is not compatible with grace.

    You say that perfect obedience is not compatible with a receptive faith in Jesus, but that is an odd saying since that receptive faith supposedly includes His perfect obedience… (and it does, but you are being inconsistent here)

    Are you serious? Given the Pauline verses that serve as the context for my statements, it should be obvious that I meant that OUR perfect obedience is not compatible with receptive faith. This is what Paul means. This what I meant.

    I will readily grant that the reasoning doesn’t work if it is a different kind of believing, but so far you’ve only shown that Adam believed something different than what we believe, which doesn’t affect my reasoning/position in any way; I agree.

    I also already explained why the character of belief is different – our belief in Christ is passive and receptive. That is because believing that I should do something is different from believing that something was done for me.

    Again, this matters to Paul. This explains why he teaches that salvific, Christocentric, post-lapsarian faith is compatible with grace whereas works (that are predicated on a more general sense of faith and belief) are not compatible. This is why we distinguish the two senses of faith – because they are, by nature, indexed to two different principles of reward. The reward given in the CoG is a gracious reward, whereas this is not the case in the CoW. This alone justifies the Reformed position of singling out post-lapsarian, Christocentric faith as being of its own distinct kind. Because Paul does.

    Also, do not confuse the nature of the terms of the covenant with God’s working in conditioning His creatures to fulfill the terms of the covenant. Even if we were to say that God was gracious in granting Adam obedience (which I do not grant), that would not make the CoW gracious, because the terms of the covenant are not gracious (the terms stipulate the condition of works).

  127. David Gadbois said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Joshua, regarding Luke 2:52, you know we’ve been over this before. Just because the NT semantic range of the charis word group includes the more broad meaning of ‘favor’, whether merited or unmerited, does not justify extending our understanding of grace, as a category of systematic theology, to all instances of the word group’s usage. We’ve seen this same problem in relation to the dikaio word group and Leithart.

    Or, to put it simply – God did not show Jesus grace. Jesus earned the favor he was showed.

  128. David Gadbois said,

    December 7, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Jared,

    I’ve thought about this some more. Are you essentially trying to argue that our faith is ‘the same’ as Adam’s conceptually? Meaning that we can categorize both senses of faith into a broader category that includes any sort of belief and trust. I won’t disagree that we can rightly conceive of such a generic category, but that just means that:

    1. There is continuity between pre-lapsarian and post-lapsarian faith in that generic belief and trust are involved.

    2. But discontinuity in the object of faith, the notiatia of faith is different

    3. Discontinuity in the character of faith, such that one is passive and receptive. The character of one is such that it engenders reward in accordance with grace, while the other does not.

    Given that, how is it accurate to say that we have the ‘same faith’ as Adam, given the discontinuities. If we were consistent with this, we’d have to say that we need to have the ‘same faith’ as Jews and Muslims (at minimum) and perhaps even Buddhists or Mormons or whoever. They all have belief and trust in a generic way, but do not have the same object of their faith. How is this way of speaking helpful?

    Or, to attack this from another angle: even given a generic ‘faith’ category, the discontinuities listed above justify the distinction of ‘kinds’ of faith. That is all that is meant when we talk about ‘kinds’ of faith. That means that, even given the continuities, there are discontinuities that thereby make them qualitatively different. What can be predicated of one set cannot necessarily be predicated of the other set.

    Apples and oranges are both part of a generic category called ‘fruit.’ They share similarities, which is why they can be grouped into this broader category. But that doesn’t mean that there is no qualitative difference between the two, or that one can necessarily predicate of an apple what you can predicate of an orange. And it certainly isn’t accurate to say that if Adam and Jesus ate an apple that I am eating the ‘very same fruit’ if I’m eating an orange. You can say that we are both eating fruit, but you can’t say we’re eating the same fruit.

    Or do you mean that our faith is ‘the same’ as Adam’s exegetically? Meaning that anything Scripture predicates of ‘faith’ can be applied to pre-lapsarian faith. That certainly isn’t good hermeneutics (it ignores context), although it seems to be something that is at work in your arguments (especially concerning faith’s connection with grace).

  129. jared said,

    December 7, 2008 at 1:02 am

    David Gadbois,

    Very nice (though not exactly friendly) response, you say:

    Again, this depends on your equivocation on the term ‘faith.’ If we do not grant this equivocation, your argument doesn’t work. In case you don’t understand by now, we don’t grant this equivocation. Whenever Scripture talks about faith resulting from grace, the ‘faith’ in view is specifically our Christian faith in Christ, not a general trust in God. There is no contextual warrant to believe that it is referring to a more general sense of faith that can be applied to pre-Fall Adam. You have a big exegetical problem. Ephesians 2 is not talking about ‘faith’ in a general sense of trust in God. It is salvific and Christocentric.

    Except I haven’t been equivocating on the term “faith”. You’re wrong about Scripture always specifically referring to our Christian faith when it speaks of faith. Again, I agree that Scripture speaks only one way of faith, but how that faith works out is different pre-fall, post-fall pre-Jesus and post-fall post-Jesus. Able didn’t believe in Jesus, neither did Noah, or Abraham, etc. but their faith is the same as ours; that God makes good on His promises. Why else would they be used as examples? It makes sense to me that Adam wouldn’t be used as an example since he is the one that got us into this mess in the first place. For us faith is a resting and receiving of Jesus. For the OT patriarchs it was a resting and receiving of the promised coming. For pre-fall Adam it would’ve been a resting and receiving in whatever it was God would’ve done had he actually rested and received in it. Sorry, but there’s no “getting around” the togetherness of faith and obedience. You continue,

    I already supplied this answer. The reason is because God’s grace is not the same thing as His goodness. You and the FVers have a basic failure in your theology proper. God’s grace is a subset of God’s goodness, but not all of His goodness is grace. God’s creative and sustaining acts constitute expressions of His goodness. God’s grace is expressed toward sinners who demerit His favor. Adam’s original character and constitution fall into the former category. To deny this is to make God’s creative actions gracious, a basic confusion of categories. God’s creative acts were non-obligatory, but that does not make them gracious.

    Now you’re hitting your stride! If you are right that grace is a subset of God’s goodness and I am, in fact, confusing my categories in this regard then we might have something here. I think there is more than one kind of grace but not more than one kind of faith. I think that any faith given by God is given graciously and not simply out of goodness. Grace seems more of an extension of love/mercy than a subset of goodness (or are love and mercy subsets of His goodness too?). If God had chosen to let Adam die He would still be exhibiting goodness but He would not be exhibiting His graciousness. I agree that making God’s creative acts gracious would be stretching it, that it would be confusing categories; but I don’t think that’s what I’m doing. Would it be confusing categories to say that God giving Adam His own breath for life was a gracious act? Was being fashioned in God’s likeness a gracious act? I’m not entirely sure where the line should be drawn, but we are talking about faith, not about creative acts in general. Faith is always gracious, so is the preservation of it. If Adam had faith at all it could only have been by grace and if he had obedience at all it could only have been by faith. Grace for Adam didn’t need to extend beyond faith since he was already sinless. You’ve got me thinking here, that’s good. Keep pushing here and we may get somewhere. You continue,

    you also clearly haven’t reflected on the verses I cited. Paul teaches that works are not compatible with grace – but the CoW operated on just this works principle of “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” So the CoW is not compatible with grace.

    The problem is that “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM” is still within the framework of the CoG, not the CoW. Paul is talking about the Old Covenant within overarching CoG, not the pre-fall Adamic covenant. I clearly didn’t need to reflect on these verses because you’re trying to apply them to the wrong covenant. Paul says earlier in Galatians 3, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse”, does this mean pre-fall Adam was under a curse? Of course not! I have already agreed that grace and works are not compatible in as much as our justification is concerned. And, as I mentioned above, Adam didn’t need grace to cover his “filthy rags” because they weren’t filthy yet. Adam could earn his “reward”, we cannot. Adam needed faith and works to get his “reward”, we need only faith with (accompanied by, verified/validated by, however you want to express it so that they are not a part of the justifying but are necessary for the faith to be genuine) works. Adam apparently needed a wee bit more grace (or is it goodness?), and we have it abundantly. You say,

    Are you serious? Given the Pauline verses that serve as the context for my statements, it should be obvious that I meant that OUR perfect obedience is not compatible with receptive faith. This is what Paul means. This what I meant.

    Good, we’re on the same page here. Perhaps we are brothers after all? Going on,

    I also already explained why the character of belief is different – our belief in Christ is passive and receptive. That is because believing that I should do something is different from believing that something was done for me.

    Of course our faith is passive and receptive, we’re dead beforehand. I also agree that believing you should do something is different from believing that something was done for you. What isn’t different is believing that something was done for you and believing that something would be done for you. Adam’s faith could only be passive and receptive in as much as God’s promise was concerned. The difference is that Adam didn’t just have to believe, he had to obey as well. We just have to believe, and even though the ensuing obedience will not be perfect, it’s covered. You continue,

    Again, this matters to Paul. This explains why he teaches that salvific, Christocentric, post-lapsarian faith is compatible with grace whereas works (that are predicated on a more general sense of faith and belief) are not compatible. This is why we distinguish the two senses of faith – because they are, by nature, indexed to two different principles of reward. The reward given in the CoG is a gracious reward, whereas this is not the case in the CoW. This alone justifies the Reformed position of singling out post-lapsarian, Christocentric faith as being of its own distinct kind. Because Paul does.

    Now this is good. I don’t think Adam’s works would’ve been predicated by some general sense of faith and belief; I think his faith had to be of a very specific kind. Namely, it had to be grace-wrought and living. Also, I don’t think it is the faith that is indexed by two different principles of reward, rather it’s the obedience. Our obedience isn’t what gets us our initial reward, whereas for pre-fall Adam it did. The issue isn’t two different kinds of faith. Faith is a staple in both situations because faith (and not your general bologna/LotR example faith) is necessary for obedience. Adam, however, doesn’t have someone obeying for him; we do. So I agree that the respective rewards are meted out differently, but I still don’t see how this requires the faith to be different more than requiring obedience in differing manners. You conclude,

    Also, do not confuse the nature of the terms of the covenant with God’s working in conditioning His creatures to fulfill the terms of the covenant. Even if we were to say that God was gracious in granting Adam obedience (which I do not grant), that would not make the CoW gracious, because the terms of the covenant are not gracious (the terms stipulate the condition of works).

    This is good advice. Though, I think it wouldn’t make the reward gracious, as you said above. That there is a covenant at all seems a matter of grace more than mere goodness so I don’t think you’ll have much luck with me on that point. But who knows? You are making very good points and making me rethink some things. Thanks for sticking with my thick head thus far.

  130. jared said,

    December 7, 2008 at 1:08 am

    David Gadbois,

    Sorry, I’ll hit #128 sometime later tonight probably. I started writing 129 quite some time before your 128 came along so nothing in 129 is taking 128 into consideration. I need time to mull (and sleep, and worship)

  131. David Gadbois said,

    December 7, 2008 at 2:56 am

    Very nice (though not exactly friendly) response, you say:

    But keep in mind the context of these debates. I’ve been fighting various forms of these errors for some 9 years now (back when Shepherd published Call of Grace). I have since seen this theological cancer grow and agitate the Reformed world for as long as I’ve been in it. Shepherdism, FV, NPP, monocovenentalism, denial of law/gospel, etc., they’re all forms of the same error. I believe it has led to, and will continue to, lead to both the injury and destruction of souls. And I fully expect that I’ll be fighting it, tooth and nail, all the way to my deathbed (I’m only 29 right now). Guess if that prospect makes me happy?

    Monocovenantal theology is anti-gospel. You need to stay much further away from it than this sort of compromise. I do respect that you are still trying to think these issues through, and I’m glad for it. But I will also say that you are trying awfully hard, through much cyber-ink and in the face of much correction from folks smarter than me, to make this compromise work.

    You’re wrong about Scripture always specifically referring to our Christian faith when it speaks of faith.

    In all of the Old Testament examples you bring up, it would still fall in the same category. The OT ‘faith’ was not generic or pre-lapsarian Adamic faith. It was still salvific, Christocentric faith (and thus ‘Christian’ faith). The fact that they trusted in the Messiah to come does not change that. That just makes the faith prospective rather than retrospective. It was still passive/receptive trust in an alien righteousness. You still have the exegetical problem. The ‘faith’ of the OT saints would still be included in Ephesians 2. It is specifically *this faith* which is said to be by grace.

    For pre-fall Adam it would’ve been a resting and receiving in whatever it was God would’ve done had he actually rested and received in it.

    Incredible. Now you are trying to impute a passive/receptive character to Adamic faith? This is beyond the pale. Forget that there is no exegetical warrant for this. “Trusting” that I need to obey commandments perfectly in order to inherit God’s blessing is not resting and receiving. Trusting that Another obeyed for me is.

    The problem is that “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM” is still within the framework of the CoG, not the CoW. Paul is talking about the Old Covenant within overarching CoG, not the pre-fall Adamic covenant.

    Well, first I’d say that you ‘clearly should have reflected’ on these verses, inasmuch as that has been the uniform interpretation of Galatians 3 by the Reformed (what have you been reading, anyway?). As a matter of fact, Galatians 3:10 and 3:12 are the prooftexts WCF 7.2 gives for the CoW. That’s because Reformed commentators have seen in the Mosaic law that Paul refers to a shadowy “republication” of the Covenant of Works. The reason is simple – in the Mosaic economy obedience was the requirement for blessing. “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM” Or as Jesus said, “do this and you will live.” That’s the same principle as the Covenant of Works in the Garden – “life was promised to Adam… upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.” Obey the commandments, and live.

    To get around this you’d have to argue that Paul thought that only a post-lapsarian works principle was incompatible with grace, rather than a pre-lapsarian works principle. But he nowhere makes such a distinction. Nor does it make any sense that pre-lapsarian works would somehow be fundamentally different so as to be compatible with grace. Indeed, Paul says in Romans 4 (in a context not limited to works of the Mosaic law):

    Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness

    Now notice that works are 1. given wages that are not a gift, and therefore are not gracious and that 2. they are contrasted with passive/receptive faith in “Him who justifies the ungodly”. Now, do those works presuppose a trust or belief in following commandments? Of course, but Paul still posits these two separate and distinct categories.

    Adam’s faith could only be passive and receptive in as much as God’s promise was concerned.

    Adam wouldn’t have passively received God’s promise. He would have worked for it. Working for something and receiving something as a gift are two different things.

    I don’t think Adam’s works would’ve been predicated by some general sense of faith and belief; I think his faith had to be of a very specific kind

    You are missing the point – Adam’s works would’ve been predicated on trust in God’s law and in God as Creator, rather than the more specific trust in God in Christ as Redeemer.

    Also, I don’t think it is the faith that is indexed by two different principles of reward, rather it’s the obedience.

    But, unlike in the CoG (where faith is merely instrumental), in the CoW faith and obedience can’t be separated like this. Having faith is part of what it means to obey. Faith is commanded. Adam couldn’t have been an atheist who happened to follow God’s commandments and produce good works. Faith was not an incidental precondition, but part of what it meant for Adam to be righteous.

  132. David Gadbois said,

    December 7, 2008 at 2:59 am

    Jared,

    You are right. I need to sleep, too. Yes, do not be distracted from your worship of God on the Lord’s Day. Peace.

  133. Vern Crisler said,

    December 7, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    One should note that a creature’s belief in God, or in what God says will happen, is not saving faith, else devils would have saving faith.

    Saving faith results in good works. Adam did not have good works, nor do devils, so they did not having saving faith. Mere (generic) belief is not saving faith, nor the faith by which we are justified.

    Vern

  134. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 8, 2008 at 11:01 am

    David G., as for Luke 2:52, what you said was that “the Bible does not label any and all of God’s non-obligatory actions and decrees as ‘grace.’ That term is reserved for His treatment of sinners in the face of demerit.”

    Perhaps you can see how it appears that you are saying the Bible reserves the term grace for demerited favor, which is not the case, as Luke 2:52 shows. Whether the technical definition you give is the standard one in systematic theology is another question–for me it would depend upon the context. “Grace” could be considered more broadly as “unmerited” favor, which would make creation and the institution of the first covenant “gracious,” (or “gratuitous” as Turretin says, which just means “gracious,” from gratia).

    Jeff C., I would say that Christ’s faith has condign merit. His entire incarnate life was voluntary, not required from him, and so that entire process was a work of supererogation and thus true merit. Within that state, he was granted power in himself, and yet chose not to use it, and so that voluntary submission (not owed) is also truly meritorious…This part, by the way, I am finding particularly edifying to discuss: let us focus more on the person, work, and infinite worth of Christ, by all means!

  135. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 8, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Jeff C., I would say that Christ’s faith has condign merit. His entire incarnate life was voluntary, not required from him, and so that entire process was a work of supererogation and thus true merit.

    Ah, the perils of the ‘Net. Yes — true merit is definitely the case. Hebrews, I think, makes a good case for both merit and also imputation.

    The emphasis I had in mind was on “condign”, which (in RCC theology) refers to an action that is intrinsically meritorious. That definition presupposes an external standard of “goodness” against which Christ’s actions can be weighed. Thus Anselm:

    Anselm.. Very true. Consider, also, that sins are as hateful as they are evil, and that life is only amiable in proportion as it is good. And, therefore, it follows that that life is more lovely than sins are odious.

    Boso. I cannot help seeing this.

    Anselm.. And do you not think that so great a good in itself so lovely, can avail to pay what is due for the sins of the whole world?

    Boso. Yes! it has even infinite value.

    Anselm.. Do you see, then, how this life conquers all sins, if it be given for them?

    Boso. Plainly.

    Anselm.. If, then, to lay down life is the same as to suffer death, as the gift of his life surpasses all the sins of men, so will also the suffering of death.

    Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, 2.14.

    This quote is not as clear as I might like; one must read the whole to get the sense of Anselm’s argument. Nonetheless, it is the case that Anselm conceives of Christ’s death as “meritorious of itself” — rather than “meritorious with reference to God’s Law.”

    It is that latter category that I would place Christ’s death in. He is not dying in the abstract; He dies as the Paschal lamb. And so on.

    Jeff Cagle

  136. rfwhite said,

    December 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Joshua, re: David G., “grace,” “charis,” and Lk 2:52, unless I’m misreading your exchange with David, you have the matter exactly reversed. It is the word “charis” that has a wider range of meaning than “grace”: “charis” is the genus of which “grace” is a species. “Charis” (aka “favor”) applies to acts of favor contrary to demerit (aka “grace”), to acts of favor according to positive merit (aka “merited favor”), and to acts of favor despite the absence of positive merit (aka “unmerited favor”). In Lk 2:52, God’s “charis” toward Jesus was acts of favor according to positive merit. I take it this is what David was saying. If not, he can let us know.

  137. rfwhite said,

    December 8, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Jeff and Joshua, if I may chime in on the applicability of the term “condign merit” to Christ’s faith, it is my understanding that the whole “congruent v. condign” merit distinction makes sense only within the larger scheme of infusionist justification and is actually a distinction that is alien to the construct of imputationist justification that defines Reformation (and especially Reformed, covenantal) soteriology. Among other problems with the infusionist scheme, it saw merit as something “deserving of grace”—an oxymoronic phrase incompatible with the Biblical doctrine of grace as favor contrary to ill desert.

  138. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 8, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Jeff, I’m not sure that Christ’s death was positively meritorious according to the Mosaic law–wouldn’t it be the active obedience that would merit life, according to the law? Death in the CoW was the penalty for violating the cov’t, not the basis for the reward. Yet, Christ was clearly rewarded for his death. Perhaps that is under the terms of the pactum salutis…But certainly the work of the man Jesus of Nazareth had intrinsic worth, since it fit perfectly with God’s own righteousness, not simply the terms of the CoW.

    Condign merit is also called adoequatum, i.e., equal, or merit properly called, where there is real equity between the act and the reward. I’m not sure that it is dependent upon infusionism, though…

    Anyhow, my point is that Christ’s work was instrinsically worthy, not simply by the terms of the agreement, because of its voluntary nature (in terms of his divine nature) and its super-erogation (in terms of his human nature–i.e., the CoW does not require the innocent to die for someone else’s trangressions, so what he merited was more than simply under the terms of the CoW).

    As for the terminological questions, I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer. What you are saying, Dr. White, is exactly what I was getting at. There is not a Biblical word that is only used for demerited favor: that is one meaning of the broader term ‘charis.’ The distinctions regarding merit come in in ST, not in Biblical terminology, which latter is what David seemed to be saying.

  139. jared said,

    December 8, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    David Gadbois,

    We are making progress, I assure you. Your comment in 128 is pretty simple and I think it’s helpful; you say,

    Apples and oranges are both part of a generic category called ‘fruit.’ They share similarities, which is why they can be grouped into this broader category. But that doesn’t mean that there is no qualitative difference between the two, or that one can necessarily predicate of an apple what you can predicate of an orange. And it certainly isn’t accurate to say that if Adam and Jesus ate an apple that I am eating the ‘very same fruit’ if I’m eating an orange. You can say that we are both eating fruit, but you can’t say we’re eating the same fruit.

    I largely agree with you. It is not accurate at all to say that we are eating the same fruit if Adam and Jesus ate apples and we are eating oranges. In this analogy I see the fruit itself as parallel to obedience and its particular function(s) within the two covenants (hence the different kinds of fruit). And I see the eating of fruit as parallel to faith. Adam and Jesus needed to eat apples whereas eating oranges is like an added bonus for us. We don’t need to eat oranges (though we invariably will) but we do need to eat, just as Adam and Jesus. This is what I mean when I say we all share the same kind of faith. Now for 131, you say;

    Monocovenantal theology is anti-gospel. You need to stay much further away from it than this sort of compromise. I do respect that you are still trying to think these issues through, and I’m glad for it. But I will also say that you are trying awfully hard, through much cyber-ink and in the face of much correction from folks smarter than me, to make this compromise work.

    Is monocovenantalism the “same error” of which Shepherdism, FV, NPP, etc. are all forms? If it’s any consolation those I like to read in the FV are not monocovenantal (e.g. mostly Wilson in the form of his blog and some of Jordan). Moreover, I am far from monocovenantalism; even in my attempts here to show that there is “one faith” I have been careful (and I thought clear) in distinguishing our situation from pre-fall Adam’s. If not, let me do so now: Adam had to work for his glory, we don’t. And if that isn’t straightforward enough then I’ll say directly that God’s covenant with pre-fall Adam is not the same as His covenant with post-fall Adam. Is that non-monocovenantal enough to get me off the hook? You continue,

    In all of the Old Testament examples you bring up, it would still fall in the same category. The OT ‘faith’ was not generic or pre-lapsarian Adamic faith. It was still salvific, Christocentric faith (and thus ‘Christian’ faith). The fact that they trusted in the Messiah to come does not change that. That just makes the faith prospective rather than retrospective. It was still passive/receptive trust in an alien righteousness. You still have the exegetical problem. The ‘faith’ of the OT saints would still be included in Ephesians 2. It is specifically *this faith* which is said to be by grace.

    I can mostly agree with you here, though you seem to be assuming that pre-lapsarian Ademic faith could only be generic (while accusing me of assuming it wasn’t generic). My argument has been really simple: Scripture only speaks about two kinds of faith, living and dead. If Adam had faith it was one of those two kinds and I’m “speculating” that it was the former and not the latter. All you have been doing (except in the last couple comments) is harping on the fact that Adam had to obey and we don’t. However this only shows that the function of obedience in each respective covenant is different, not that faith is different. Adam’s faith would’ve been at least indirectly salvific had he withstood the devil’s lie(s) and Eve’s offering of the fruit, he would be spared from sin and death (isn’t that odd, yet strangely familiar?). My problem is that I don’t see Scripture ontologically separating faith and obedience even though they are forensically separated in the CoG. On this side of the fall our obedience is as filthy rags (thank God for the cleansing blood!) and on the other side of the fall Adam’s obedience would be quite righteous. In both cases faith is a prerequisite. You continue,

    Incredible. Now you are trying to impute a passive/receptive character to Adamic faith? This is beyond the pale. Forget that there is no exegetical warrant for this. “Trusting” that I need to obey commandments perfectly in order to inherit God’s blessing is not resting and receiving. Trusting that Another obeyed for me is.

    I agree that “trusting” that you need to obey commandments perfectly in order to inherit God’s blessing is not resting and receiving. That isn’t what Adam needed to trust. Adam needed to trust that God would keep His promise pending his obedience. His obedience is tertiary to his faith, not the object of it. I’m okay with talk about Adam’s faith being “beyond the pale” because the “pale” hasn’t really talked about it; it’s focused on the fact that he had to obey in order to receive (which I agree). I will readily grant that Scripture does not explicitly address whether or not Adam (or Jesus) had faith but I will not grant a multiplicity of faiths. From a biblical viewpoint faith is either living or dead or not present at all. Moving on,

    Well, first I’d say that you ‘clearly should have reflected’ on these verses, inasmuch as that has been the uniform interpretation of Galatians 3 by the Reformed (what have you been reading, anyway?). As a matter of fact, Galatians 3:10 and 3:12 are the prooftexts WCF 7.2 gives for the CoW. That’s because Reformed commentators have seen in the Mosaic law that Paul refers to a shadowy “republication” of the Covenant of Works. The reason is simple – in the Mosaic economy obedience was the requirement for blessing. “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM” Or as Jesus said, “do this and you will live.” That’s the same principle as the Covenant of Works in the Garden – “life was promised to Adam… upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.” Obey the commandments, and live.

    This seems confused (not confusing) to me. I can agree that in the Mosaic law there’s a shadowy republication of the CoW. Actually, I think it’s more accurate to say it’s a shadowy republication of the principle of works operating in that original covenant. However, it’s a good thing the Mosaic covenant is not a shadowy republication of the CoW itself. The “he who practices them shall live by them” is an example of what the OT patriarchs were not supposed to do. Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Are we, then, to posit that the Abrahamic covenant is different from the Mosaic covenant in how one is justified? Just how many covenants are there, really? Only two, right? And the Mosaic law was given under which? The CoG, right? The law was never meant to justify, as Paul goes on to say that the “Law, which came 430 years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.” Those who did not have faith were under the curse of the law because the law cannot bring justification to sinners. As for WCF 7.2 using those verses as prooftexts for the CoW, there are plenty of prooftexts in the WCF that aren’t, so that isn’t compelling. Note, I am not saying I disagree with WCF 7.2 so no charging me with being anti-confessional please. You continue,

    Adam’s works would’ve been predicated on trust in God’s law and in God as Creator, rather than the more specific trust in God in Christ as Redeemer.

    Our works are predicated on trust in God in Christ as Redeemer. Our works don’t justify us (they couldn’t) but we still must have a specific kind of faith (namely a living faith given by God). Adam must have been given a living faith as well, otherwise his works would have been selfish rather than self-righteous. Adam wasn’t to obey primarily for his own gain, he was to obey because God is who He is and does what He says He will do. In other words, Adam should be able to say “God, I’m going to do this because You require it” instead of “God, I’m going to do this because I really want what’s coming to me.” The faith itself isn’t different, what that faith is in is different (God as Creator vs God as Redeemer) and the role obedience plays is different (instrumental with faith vs non-instrumental with faith). You say,

    But, unlike in the CoG (where faith is merely instrumental), in the CoW faith and obedience can’t be separated like this. Having faith is part of what it means to obey. Faith is commanded. Adam couldn’t have been an atheist who happened to follow God’s commandments and produce good works. Faith was not an incidental precondition, but part of what it meant for Adam to be righteous.

    Again we are largely in agreement. Only for us having faith is all the “obedience” that is required of us. Faith in Jesus plus nothing. For us faith isn’t just part of being righteous, it’s the whole shebang. Adam needed faith and works, we just need faith. So now I’ve completely lost track; where am I being anti-gospel or monocovenantal or anti-confessional or anti-reformed?

  140. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 8, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Joshua (#138):

    I think we’re seeing just about the same picture, but using different words to describe it:

    But certainly the work of the man Jesus of Nazareth had intrinsic worth, since it fit perfectly with God’s own righteousness, not simply the terms of the CoW.

    Condign merit is also called adoequatum, i.e., equal, or merit properly called, where there is real equity between the act and the reward. I’m not sure that it is dependent upon infusionism, though…

    One key issue here is what “intrinsic worth” means — how it is evaluated. If according to an external, objective standard of righteousness that stands outside of God’s law, as Anselm’s system and thus RCC theology requires, then there is no such thing.

    But if by “intrinsic worth” you mean, “fits in perfectly with God’s righteousness”, then I agree with you — but we aren’t (strictly speaking) talking about condign merit anymore.

    So this gets a bit confusing.

    A Roman Catholic would say,

    “The death of Jesus had intrinsic merit”,

    and mean, “The death of Jesus when evaluated objectively by God was seen by God as an act that was more righteous than all of the sin of mankind, and therefore provided the basis for forgiving man, assuming that man received that merit through the sacraments.”

    while a Protestant would say,

    “The death of Jesus had intrinsic merit”,

    and mean, “The death of Jesus was well-pleasing to the Father as the atoning sacrifice required by the terms of the Covenant; it both satisfied His wrath against sin (strict justice) and also qualified Him to be the representative of His people as high priest.”

    So in both cases, strict justice is in view. But in the RCC case, “strict justice” is external to God, while in the Protestant case, “strict justice” is defined by God.

    Better?

    Jeff Cagle

    P.S. I’ll let Dr. White explain the relationship between condign merit and infusionism, since I’m fuzzy on that myself.

  141. rfwhite said,

    December 8, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    For clarity, let me add that on merit as truly or not truly deserving of grace, I am dependent on R. A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, s.vv. meritum de condigno and meritum de congruo, pp. 191-92.

  142. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 8, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Oh, I absolutely think we agree. I guess I wasn’t using condign merit in a strictly RC manner. The odd thing with them is that they lay out condign in such a way as seems to preclude any human work meriting that way, then argue that because of infusion, human works can merit in that way:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10202b.htm

    So, I was taking condign as “according to strict justice.” I need to look at Turretin’s discussion of merit to see what he says…I think he uses “proper merit”–although I don’t what the Latin is behind that.

    I would add to your Protestant version, Jeff, in saying that Christ’s death was well-pleasing in itself, not just considered under the CoW. Notice that in the Cantus Christi of Phil. 2, the exhaltation of Christ is based upon his submission to death. Where is that in any of the covenants, that if one submits to death, God will seat him on the throne? So, the merit of Jesus’ death could not have been simply according to the human covenants. That’s why I suggested it might be according to the terms of the pactum salutis…but I would still want to say that Christ’s work is unique in that it has instrinsic merit per se, not simply through any pactum. That is part of the dissimilarity between Adam and Christ: Adam’s obedience only had merit because of the covenant, while Christ’s had even more worth.

    I suppose I would argue this by, perhaps, conflating the saying about the “unprofitable servants” and the parable of the wicked tenants. That is to say, while for us, and even for Adam, when we have done all that is required, we can still only say: “We are unprofitable servants.” But when Christ has done all His work, He can say much more…though I’m not sure how I’d characterize that in contrast to the “we are unprofitable servants” line. “I am the profitable Son?” Hmm…

    On a side note, I’m not sure that RC theology requires a standard external to God. I certainly don’t think that Anselm’s theology requires that: I think that’s why he uses the idea of “fitting,” i.e., it is more fitting with God’s character to accomplish salvation in this way. Thus, God’s character is not limited by some other standard, but we are required to see how God’s actions fit with His character, making Him self-consistent. I suppose this also rests on an overall view of Anselm’s theological method (which I have researched in some detail), which was not, in my opinion, rationalism–holding God up to the standard of the human mind–but rather an exercise in fitting the reason to the reality of God’s being.

  143. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 8, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    It may be unfair to tag St. Anselm with holding to an objective standard of goodness. I defer to your scholarship in this matter, and would add that his ontological proof of God’s existence falls into the class you describe: fitting the reason to the reality of God’s being.

    But it’s also true that as Anselm’s theology develops in the scholastics, and in Aquinas in particular, there arises a notion of “goodness” that is “of itself.” It is affirmed, for example, that “God is good” means that “God meets the criteria for goodness” — thus taking the right horn of the Euthyphro dilemma.

    Here’s the Cat En on good:

    St. Thomas starts from the Aristotelean principle that being and the good are objectively one. Being conceived as desirable is the good. The good differs from the true in this, that, while both are objectively nothing else than being, the good is being considered as the object of appetitie, desire, and will, the true is being a the object of the intellect. God, the Supreme Being and the source of all other being is consequently the Supreme Good, and the goodness of creatures results from the diffusion of His goodness.

    Catholic Encyclopedia, “Good”

    and again,

    The moral good (bonum honestum) consists in the due ordering of free action or conduct according to the norm of reason, the highest faculty, to which it is to conform. This is the good which determines the true valuation of all other goods sought by the activities which make up conduct. Any lower good acquired to the detriment of this one is really but a loss (bonum apparens). While all other kinds of good may, in turn, be viewed as means, the moral good is good as an end and is not a mere means to other goods.

    And again,

    In conclusion, we may now state in a word the central idea of our doctrine. God as Infinite Being is Infinite Good; creatures are good because they derive their measure of being from Him. This participation manifests His goodness, or glorifies God, which is the end for which he created man. The rational creature is destined to be united to God as the Supreme End and Good in a special manner. In order that he may attain to this consummation, it is necessary that in this life, by conforming his conduct to conscience, the interpreter of the moral law, he realizes in himself the righteousness which is the true perfection of his nature. Thus God is the Supreme Good, as principle and as end. “I am the beginning and I am the end.”

    Note that God here is the Supreme Good, the source of goodness to others. To this Protestants would agree. But also, the quality of goodness, rather than being defined by what God is, is instead an objective quality of being which God possess by virtue of being the ultimate Being.

    For this reason, Catholics object to imputation of righteousness — God is not able to declare us righteous unless we actually *are* righteous in an objective sense.

    Protestants, by contrast, are perfectly happy with righteousness on the basis of being in the Righteous One.

    Jeff Cagle

  144. rfwhite said,

    December 9, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Joshua and Jeff, it is interesting to learn from Scott Clark (in CJPM, p. 256-57 n. 93) that, according to Witsius, “Christ’s active obedience merited a reward for himself and his elect, by virtue of the covenant of strict justice he made with his Father—Jesus earned his righteousness and ours by works—and by virtue of the condignity, i.e. the inherent worth of his obedience.” See Herman Witsius, De oeconomia foederum Dei cum hominibus (Leeuwarden, 1677), 2.3.32–33. Idem, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, trans. William Crookshank (1803; Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1990), 1.190–192.

  145. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 9, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Yes, that is interesting. I’m trying to hunt down the source, but Google Books only has the second volume of Witsius. Oh, and there’s this entire inapropos analysis of Witsius.

    So anyways, clearly I have some things to learn here. Does Witsius himself speak of “condignity”, or is that Dr. Clark’s gloss? Did the term “condign” expand somewhat from the RCC scholastic definition? Perhaps have I misunderstood that definition?

    Meanwhile, I also submit for consideration Calvin’s treatment of Christ’s merit in Inst. 2.17.1, 6 in which he opposes certain understandings of merit and admits others.

    While I’m thinking about it, Jared will be pleased with this from Calvin:

    The prohibition to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a trial of obedience, that Adam, by observing it, might prove his willing submission to the command of God. For the very term shows the end of the precept to have been to keep him contented with his lot, and not allow him arrogantly to aspire beyond it. The promise, which gave him hope of eternal life as long as he should eat of the tree of life, and, on the other hand, the fearful denunciation of death the moment he should taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were meant to prove and exercise his faith.

    — Inst. 2.1.4, emph. add.

    Jeff Cagle

  146. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 9, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Also for consideration, Lee Irons’ discussion of merit here: link.

    In passing, we note that Lane affirms the use of “condign merit” wrt Jesus. :)

  147. rfwhite said,

    December 9, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Definitions and context matter, huh? :-)

  148. jared said,

    December 9, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    Thanks for the handout! ;-)

  149. December 10, 2008 at 11:50 am

    […] bookmarks tagged assenting The Covenant of Life…Er, Works « Green Baggins saved by 7 others     teenxtream bookmarked on 12/10/08 | […]


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