Even D Students Have A Calling

Lane’s recent post questioning the consistency of Doug Wilson’s affirmation of sola fide evoked a number of responses. One of the more unhelpful ones came from Doug Wilson himself:

“As I put it in a recent comment elsewhere, I really don’t understand why the C students think they get to grade everybody else’s papers.”

In the comments section of this post Lane challenged this comment, noting that it was a use of ad hominem argument (ad hominem abusive). Such arguments actually do not advance discussion. They merely serve to squash it by belittling one’s opponent.

In the hope that Doug will consider retreating from such argumentation, I want to offer some biblical insights as to why even C students actually do get to grade everybody else’s papers.

  • 1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
  • 1 Corinthians 14:29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.
  • Acts 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Hopefully it is relatively clear that the Bible expects Christians to grade each other’s papers. In fact, it wouldn’t be going too far to observe that such exercise of faith is a means God promises the Spirit will grace with insight unto blessing in Christ.

I admit to being at best a C student (most often D, with some gifts from the teacher). I appeal to Doug Wilson to consider changing his rhetoric and no longer resorting to such ad hominem arguments.

After all, the Bible proposes that even the D students have a biblical calling based on promise to question the A students. I pray the A students join us D’s in rejoicing in this promise.

Reed DePace
Pastor, 1st PCA Montgomery, AL
TE, SEAL Presbytery, PCA
(sorry for forgetting this)

113 Comments

  1. April 8, 2010 at 9:22 am

    So here’s the question I have, and I don’t see it being dealt with squarely:
    I know it shouldn’t matter, but let me start out by saying that I’m not that crazy about Wilson. I’ve benefited from a lot of the things he’s written. I love the cleverness and the wordplay, but I’m scared to death that there are times where he’s being glib when he shouldn’t be and that the wordplay may be covering up significant doctrinal differences.
    Having said that, Wilson’s post on the three uses of the law seemed pretty clear and jives with what I understand to be the historical Reformed position. And I think his statement on what the Law is (an embodiment of the character of our righteous God) also jives with the Reformed position.

    So when I come to Greenbaggins to read the posts articulating why Wilson denies Sola Fide, it seems like the use of the word law keeps getting flipped between the different uses of the law and what the law is. (which is kind of ironic, since I have problems with Wilson and Leithart when they flip between the context of confessional language and Biblical language and pretend they aren’t actually doing it)

    So having said all that, what I’d like to ask is this: Do you guys (or Lane, or Wes, collectively or not) disagree or agree with the three uses and the distinction between what the law does and what the law is as Wilson laid out in the post I linked to above? If you don’t disagree, then I have trouble understanding the nature of your arguments. If you do disagree, then I don’t understand where and would like to understand how you see the law.

    Thanks,
    Charles

  2. David Gray said,

    April 8, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Who wrote this?

  3. April 8, 2010 at 10:07 am

    The “C” student comment is a bad joke. Wilson has no credentials whatsoever, so even an “F” student who tried has more credibility than DW.

  4. David Gray said,

    April 8, 2010 at 10:10 am

    >Wilson has no credentials whatsoever

    What are your credentials? If DW was engaging in ad hominem what are you engaging in?

  5. April 8, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Reed, thanks much for the gracious admonition. And in receiving it, I am not receiving your self-deprecating grade. I have appreciated your involvement in the discussions here, just as I have appreciated most of Lane’s contributions.

    Everything you say about Christians interacting with each other above is of course correct, and it includes the C and D students. I agree with that, and would also agree that in the kingdom of God, if the A students were to taunt the C students for their halting or confused questions, that simply means the A students are actually F students. I agree with that.

    But there are students who don’t know which sanctifies which, the altar or the gold. There are students who devour widow’s houses and for a pretense offer lengthy prayers. And no, I am not here talking about you or Lane — although I do believe that many good-hearted Christians have allowed themselves to be manipulated by men they shouldn’t be manipulated by. Ecclesiastical politics is just as ugly as the other kind.

    There are students in this classroom who have failed every basic test, particularly the section on polity, justice, and righteous adjudication, and yet continue to pursue the imposition of their misunderstandings by coercive means. What shall we say to such? Fools and blind? That was also said to covenant members, theological leaders, and respected members of the general assembly. The Bereans asked questions, as did the members of the Sanhedrin during various trials, but they were different kinds of questions.

    There is so much in the New Testament about Pharisaism — is there none in the church today? Is there no one today who knows how to manipulate the levers of church power to get the intended results without a fair and judicious hearing? Are there no leaders who are afraid of an open debate with someone that their qualifications to ministry require them to be able to shut down, but who refuse to do so?

    In short, my problem is not with C students at all. My problem is with C students who are prepared to defend their misunderstandings by means of coercion, while neglecting everything the Bible says to do about such problems first. My problem is C students in on behind-closed-doors SJC deliberations. My problem is C students setting up the greased skids. My problem is C students stacking committees. I could go on.

    But again, for the record, apart from the occasional outbreaks of irritation and bad temper here or there from commenters, Greenbaggins is one of the few places in the Reformed world where people on opposite sides of this thing can talk to each other. So good job to Greenbaggins . . . but doesn’t anybody else find that to be sick?

  6. Reed Here said,

    April 8, 2010 at 10:25 am

    David, no. 1, see my subscript. Sorry for forgetting this.

  7. Reed Here said,

    April 8, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Doug: thank you for your comment.

    I understand and agree with your observations. Pharisaism is still a problem. Sanhedrin can still be manipulated by the worldly savvy. All Christians of good will, no matter how weakly that will may yet be formed in their souls, must eschew such behavior.

    As we consider interactions with one another, both intra-denominationally (e.g., within the PCA), and inter denominationally (e.g., a PCA guy interacting a CREC guy), may God bless all of us to never look back and question whether or not our actions were above reproach.

    Thank you for your willingness to interact. May God prosper His Church through such committments.

  8. Dean B said,

    April 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Pastor Wilson

    BOQ
    My problem is with C students who are prepared to defend their misunderstandings by means of coercion, while neglecting everything the Bible says to do about such problems first. My problem is C students in on behind-closed-doors SJC deliberations. My problem is C students setting up the greased skids. My problem is C students stacking committees.EOQ

    How do you become aware of the grades certain people received? Why would knowledge of their grades be of interest to you?

    Is you main issue the grade level of the people on these committees, or the fact that these committees exist? Would the outcome change if they were filled with A students? If so, why?

    Mark Driscoll proposed the following: Christians should feed the sheep, rebuke the swine, shoot the wolves, bark at the dogs, and pray for the shepherds. I wonder how much of these discussion have devolved into an intramural exercise with one side rebuking the swine and the other side barking at the dogs.

  9. Jesse Pirschel said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Reed and Lane,

    Why all the hurt feelings over a “C student” comment? I have been on this blog enough to see far worse things said about Rev. Wilson, and Lane you were on a radio show that constantly questions Dougs credentials and insinutates that he is a cult leader and the Mullah of Moscow.

    I say either we not worry about such a small slight, or we stand up just as eagerly to defend the reputations of others especially the ones we may disagree with.

  10. KEn Pierce said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Doug,

    Of course, it could be true that the C Students are mistaken about the A students and what they are promoting.

    Could it also be true that the A students have deviated from the coursework? In a class on Austrian economics, they are turning in papers touting the truth of Keynsian principles? Could it be that they themselves don’t necessarily see the deviation?

    I guess the question, to really mix a metaphor here, who the referee of the truth is here. Ultimately, it is God, of course. But, here, where we see through a glass, darkly, who decides what is in bounds and out?

    Ultimately, it must be the church, meeting in deliberation. Process can always be faulted. The professor is not always going to grade fair.

    But, the question is, at the end of the day, and leaving metaphors behind, is the FV teaching something new that is itself a deviation from confessional Calvinism? Is it teaching something new that is within the bounds of confessional Calvinism? Is it teaching something old that is nothing different than confessional Calvinism? All these answers have been proposed by Federal Vision advocates.

    Is there any wonder that we poor C students are confused? If we’re confused, what about the people in the pew? Christians that don’t go to heaven? Election that can be forfeited? Union with Christ that can be lost? A baptism that saves, but a salvation that can be lost? An unconditional covenant of grace that has conditions? Salvation by faith alone, but plus works too?

    Yes, this poor C student is very confused. So confused I once held to Dan Fuller’s teaching down the line, when I studied with one of his disciples. I guess I was an A student then. Sadly, my grades have declined a bit…

  11. Reed Here said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Jesse: please re-read the post, and then consider my efforts here at clarification.

    There are no hurt feelings. There is no whining in either Lane’s comments at Doug’s blog, nor here in my post.

    Rather, my point is quite simple: such comments that attack the person rather than the proposition are detrimental to the kind of discussion that we pray the Spirit use in His Church to resolve/remove the things that keep us from greater unity.

    No hurt feelings; only concern that we might not let frustrations prompt us to unhelpful comments.

  12. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Reed, then what about Clark’s consistent tone of ad hominem? He did it with Bahnsen (constantly referred to in conversation as “Rabbi Greg”) and he does it with Wilson (“cult leader,” “Mullah of Moscow,” etc.). I don’t recall Lane rebuking that sort of thing. Sauce, goose, gander…something like that.

    Also, Wilson never said he was an A student or that the FV was–he said “Why do the C student get to grade everyone else?” He’s concerned about everyone. But his point is not that these people actually got C’s, but that they don’t understand some basic elements of the Reformed tradition. One example: someone who says that real Reformed tradition means the congregation only uses inspired words in Scripture–totally ignoring the fact that a variety of Reformed liturgies (e.g., Calvin’s Geneva) actually use the Apostle’s Creed, which is not inspired. So, we have a definition of “the real tradition” that is simply incorrect in its facts.

  13. David Gray said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:33 am

    >David, no. 1, see my subscript. Sorry for forgetting this.

    Thanks, I thought it was you but it is nice to be sure.

  14. Tom Wenger said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Josh,

    I would think that theonomists would find the title “rabbi” to be a compliment.

  15. Reed Here said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Joshua, no. 12: if you’re going to engage in tit for tat, you’ll need to put more in the scales on the other side of the balance.

    Just for balance to your one example, I note in a recent post that Doug referre to Scott’s blog (and Scott by necessary inference) with the lable “Heidelhoneyhut.” Shall we read this as an example of that which you are deriding?

    We’ve got two options here Joshua:

    1. Scott and Doug are both acting in good will toward one another and in their relationship are willing to use a form of sarcasm to jibe one another into thinking about the subject, or
    2. Scott and Doug are unwisely (sinfully?) engaging in a tit for tat.

    I’m inclined to assume the first, even when I might wince at times when I think maybe one or the other has been a tad bit clumsy in their efforts.

    I’d ask you to consider that your criticism in some manner rests on presumption that two wrongs make a right. What’s good for the goose is always good for the gander under the Fall. In the Kingdom of Christ we’ve been blessed with a better standard.

  16. Jesse Pirschel said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Reed,

    I understand the desire to clarify, and I get that ad hom’s dont help the discussion progress, but this conversation has been regressing for years into name calling and shots “below the belt”. My only question is why now are we so quick to point out that it doesnt advance discussion? From where I am standing it seems it is because one of the “cup checks” came Lane’s way. There are certain authors here who get personal often and nary a word of rebuke is offered from the staff.

    What is even more insidious, is the very fact that I mention this on behalf of the “wrong” team will mean to many that I too must deny justification be faith (can you say “latitudinarian”?). Which fallacy is that?

  17. Reed Here said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Also Joshua: your example of A vs. C is decided irrelevant to the comment/discussion between Lane and Doug.

  18. Reed Here said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Jesse: I’m sorry you see the things you see here at GB. To reiterate one of Lane’s rule here: if you are upset with a comment made by a poster, believing it is below the belt, you are urged to contact one of the moderators off line. I promise you that we do respond to these.

    As it is, if one wishes to take on this role themselves then as a husband-father-pastor-evangelist of my community, I’m inclined to let y’all “duke it out” a bit, and only step in when it becomes nothing but personal.

    Hard arguments, even harsh words for the position, are not wrong. Asuming motives, goals, or denigrating the person always are wrong.

    You are right to hold me to a higher standard. May I do the same with you? Why complain when I ask two men (Lane and Doug) who have arguably done a better than average job of avoiding this error to consider retreating from the error? Why not instead consider oneself one of the C or D students, and take lesson from those more mature?

    I include myself in such admonishment.

  19. Jesse Pirschel said,

    April 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Reed,

    I don’t have a problem with it at all Reed, in fact I welcome it. We have to start somewhere, so why not here. It just seemed a lot was being made of what seemed to me a small “rhetorical” comment in the midst of fists and feet a flyin.

    I am all for the conversation becoming more civil (myself included)…lest we bite and devour one another.

  20. Jesse Pirschel said,

    April 8, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Reed,

    You wrote,
    “Why complain when I ask two men (Lane and Doug) who have arguably done a better than average job of avoiding this error to consider retreating from the error?”

    But in your post you wrote,
    “In the hope that Doug will consider retreating from such argumentation, I want to offer some biblical insights as to why even C students actually do get to grade everybody else’s papers. ”

    and again,
    “I appeal to Doug Wilson to consider changing his rhetoric and no longer resorting to such ad hominem arguments.”

    I only see you asking one man to change, so I think my original question stands.

  21. Ron Henzel said,

    April 8, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Perhaps now would be a good time to move past the whole rhetoric issue and take note of the fact that Doug Wilson’s “C student” remark comes at the end of a paragraph in which the only substantive remark is found in its first sentence:

    Lane over at Greenbaggins has said that I deny sola fide (which I emphatically affirm), and he has made this claim on the basis of his own failure to make the most basic distinctions that someone with a Reformed theological education should be able to make.

    So Wilson’s “C student” remark is actually rooted in his contempt (I honestly don’t know how else to put it) for those he claims are unable “to make the most basic distinctions” that Reformed theologians should be able to make. This little comment he put on our report cards, combined with his “river boat pilots” metaphor, are perhaps designed to suggest to those of us who agree with Lane that we should all line up to thank Mr. Wilson for graciously grading us on the curve! Based on that analogy, imagine what “F students” must have put down for an answer! We really need to place a nicely-polished red apple on his desk, stop messing around, and get back to work.

    And to prove that he himself is qualified to grade us in this fashion and to keep us from questioning his teaching skills, he brought in Principal Turretin to deliver a little lecture to us. The problem here, however, is that he told Principal Turretin that we needed to hear a lecture on why the Mosaic Covenant is part of the Covenant of Grace and not its own separate covenant of works per se, or some kind of mixture between the Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace, or a totally separate and distinct species from either the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace that is neither works nor grace. Mr. Wilson knew that Principal Turretin had a lecture already prepared on that topic (he kept it filed under “Twelfth Topic, Twelfth Question”), but there was a special part in it that Mr. Wilson wanted to hear (IET 12.12.18, 21/2:267-68), so he arranged for Principle Turretin to come down the hall and give it to us.

    And while we sat patiently (or not) through it, we all thought, “Gee, doesn’t Principal Turretin have a lecture on the question of whether the Mosaic Law in general and the Decalogue in particular are nothing but a covenant of grace? That’s what Mr. Wilson is really trying persuade us of. We have, after all, tried to tell him over and over that we understand that the moral law is part of the Covenant of Grace even more than he does!”

    Well, wouldn’t you know it: Principal Turretin does have a lecture that covers this question (filed under “Twelfth Topic, Seventh Lecture”). The question comes up about half-way through the lecture:

    And hence we can clearly gather [from the manner of the giving of the law] what is to be determined about a question here agitated by some—whether the decalogue promulgated on Mount Sinai contained nothing except the covenant of grace and its pure stipulation. […]

    [12.7.28/2:226]

    Gee, I wonder if Principal Turretin knows that Mr. Wilson is one of those agitators?

    […] the law (contained in the decalogue) is of natural right, founded on the justice of God; while the covenant of grace is of positive and free right, founded on his good pleasure (eudokia) and mercy. The latter sets forth a surety, promises remission of sins and salvation in his satisfaction; not only demands but also effects obedience. But in the decalogue, no mention either of a surety or promise of salvation to be given to sinners occurs; but a bare promise of life to those doing and a threatening of death to transgressors. Hence the law of works (comprised in the decalogue) is everywhere contradistinguished by Paul from the law of faith and the promise of grace (Rom. 3:27; Gal. 3:17, 18) for as the law is not of faith (Gal. 3:12), so neither is faith of the law. So great is the contrariety between these two means that they are wholly incompatible (asytata) with each other.

    [Ibid.]

    Wow! That doesn’t sound anything like what Mr. Wilson has been saying in class!

    Meanwhile it pleased God to administer the covenant of grace in this period under a rigid legal economy—both on account of the condition of the people still in infancy and on account of the putting off of the advent of Christ and the satisfaction to be rendered by him. A twofold relation (schesis) ought always to obtain: the one legal, more severe, through which by a new promulgation of the law and of the covenant of works, with an intolerable yoke of ceremonies, he wished to set forth what men owed and what was to be expected by them on account of duty unperformed. In this respect, the law is called the letter that kills (2 Cor. 3:6) and the handwriting which was contrary to us (Col. 2:14), because by it men professed themselves guilty and children of death, the declaration being written by their own blood in circumcision and by the blood of victims.

    [12.7.31/2:227]

    And to think, after all that time Mr. Wilson spent trying to convince us that it was we who didn’t even know our own Reformed tradition and its most basic distinctions! I think we need to look up the procedures in the student handbook for appealing to the principal that “C” that Mr. Wilson gave us.

  22. Ron Henzel said,

    April 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Excuse me, but “Twelfth Topic, Seventh Lecture” in my previous comment should be Twelfth Topic, Seventh Question.”

  23. Mark Horne said,

    April 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I don’t think Doug disagrees with Turretin on that point. But even if he did, where is the evidence that Turretin thinks that all who disagree with him are deniers of sola fide?

  24. Andy said,

    April 8, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    I think this comment thread deserves at least a B+.

  25. Ron Henzel said,

    April 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Mark,

    That would be fine if this were merely Turretin’s idea. But you also find it in abundance in the entire Reformed tradition. You find it in the Puritans. You find it in the Continental Reformed. It is prominent in Owen. Witsius distinctly echoed Turretin when he wrote:

    Hence the question, which is very much agitated at this day, may be decided: namely, Whether the ten words are nothing but the form of the covenant of grace? This, I apprehend, is by no means an accurate way of speaking. […] the ten words contain only a prescription of duty fenced on the one band by threatenings, taken from the covenant of works […]

    [“The Decalogue: Covenant of Works or Covenant of Grace”]

    You find it in Hodge, Bavinck, Vos, and Berkhof. After finding it so clearly and repeatedly set forth in so many places, by so many historic leaders of the historic Reformed tradition, including those who stood much closer in time and place than we do to the framing of our confessional standards, might not one be pardoned for concluding that those doctrinal formulations which include the Covenant of Works, its republication in the Mosaic Law, and the law/gospel distinction stand squarely and firmly in the Reformed tradition?

    Who is this who sets himself up as the arbiter of what constitutes the Reformed tradition while openly denying what that tradition’s fathers have historically taught? Who is this who assigns lower and lower GPAs to students as they get closer and closer to the Reformed tradition? Who is this who rambles through its writings as through a smorgasbord buffet, selecting the hot dogs and trying to pass them off as prime rib? “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2)

  26. David Gray said,

    April 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    >Who is this who assigns lower and lower GPAs to students as they get closer and closer to the Reformed tradition?

    Bob Mattes?

  27. Mark Horne said,

    April 8, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Who is this who sets himself up as the arbiter of what constitutes the Reformed tradition while openly denying what that tradition’s fathers have historically taught? Who is this who assigns lower and lower GPAs to students as they get closer and closer to the Reformed tradition? Who is this who rambles through its writings as through a smorgasbord buffet, selecting the hot dogs and trying to pass them off as prime rib? “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2)

    This started out being a good question but got carried away. Kind of like lying about a pastor and making up a denial of sola fide in order to punish him for not appreciating your hobby horse.

    But the Westminster Confession clearly does not demand an affirmation of the doctrine that the covenant of works is somehow republished in the Mosaic Covenant. Rather, it teaches that the Mosaic Covenant is an administration of the Covenant of Grace. There is no point in being confessional if the Confession can be dispensed with by a long list of other writing and forced on pastors.

    Of course, all sin deserves death. But that is true if one breaks a command on Sinai (“Thou shalt not commit adultery”) or disobeys an apostolic instruction to the church (“Husbands, love your wives”). Jesus has died in our place so that believers are no longer subject to the penalty they deserve.

  28. Jesse Pirschel said,

    April 8, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    With all the “who, who”s I thought there was an owl in the place.

  29. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 8, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Reed,

    My point was not that what Doug did was okay. My point was that if it was not okay for Wilson, then it is not okay for Clark, and if you’re so concerned about the former, then you should be concerned about the latter–but it doesn’t seem that you are. So the GB folks getting indignant about Wilson’s remark looks self-serving, not actually consistent.

    Case in point: does Tom’s comment here advance the discussion? Is it a substantive response to theonomy? Is it helpful? Does it show a spirit of brotherly love? Or is it simply divisive and abusive? But no one is concerned about it. Huh.

    And the point about A versus C was directed to Ken Pierce’s comment. He seemed to assume that Wilson was implying that the FV was the A students.

  30. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 8, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Ron,

    What Witsius goes on to say seems to sound like Wilson’s distinction between the nuda lex and the tota lex:

    “The covenant made With Israel at mount Sinai was not formally the covenant of works, 1st. Because that cannot be renewed with the sinner, in such a sense as to say, if, for the future, thou shalt perfectly perform every instance of obedience, thou shalt be justified by that, according to the covenant of works. For, by this, the pardon of former sins would be presupposed, which the covenant of works excludes. 2dly. Because God did not require perfect obedience from Israel, as a condition of this covenant, as a cause of claiming the reward; but sincere obedience, as an evidence of reverence and gratitude. 3dly. Because it did not conclude Israel under the-curse, in the sense peculiar to the covenant of works, where all hope of pardon was cut off, if they. sinned but in the least instance…

    “…we may look upon them [the ten words] as having a relation to any covenant whatever. They may be considered in a twofold manner. 1st. Precisely, as a law. 2dly. As an instrument of the covenant. As a law, they are the rule of our nature and actions, which HE has prescribed, who has a right to command. This the were from the beginning, this they still are, and this they will continue to be, under whatever covenant, or in whatever state man shall be…”

    Notice that the decalogue by itself is not actually a covenant, but can have relation to any sort of covenant. Wilson’s point is that the moral law, all by itself (the nuda lex) does indeed condemn, but the tota lex, the law as it exists in the covenant after the fall, is gracious, because it directs to Christs and teaches us how to live in gratitude.

    Witsius also, by the way, makes the issue the unbelieving heart rather than the actual text:

    However the carnal Israelites, not adverting to God’s purpose or intention, as they ought, mistook the true meaning of that covenant, embraced it as a covenant of works, and by it sought for righteousness. Paul declares this, Rom. ix. 31, 32. “but Israel which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness; wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law,; for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone.” [In Gal. iv. 24, 25]…Paul does not consider the covenant of mount Sinai as in itself, and in the intention of God, offered to the elect, but as abused by carnal and hypocritical men. Let Calvin again speak: “The apostle declares, that, by the children of Sinai, he meant hypocrites, persons who are at length cast out of the church of God, and disinherited. What therefore is that generation unto bondage, which he there speaks of? It is doubtless those, who basely abuse the law, and conceive nothing concerning it but what is servile. The pious fathers who lived under the Old Testament did not so. For, the servile generation of the law did riot binder them from having the spiritual Jerusalem for their mother. But they, who stick to the bare law, and acknowledge not its pedagogy; by which they are brought to Christ, but rather make it an obstacle to their coming to him, these are Ishmaelites (for thus, and I think rightly, Morlorat reads) born unto bondage.” The design of the apostle therefore, in that Place, is not to teach us, that the covenant of mount Sinai was nothing but a covenant of works, altogether opposite to the gospel-covenant; but only that the gross Israelites misunderstood the mind of God, and basely abused his covenant; as all such do, who seek for righteousness by the law. See again Calvin on Rom. x. 4. ”

    I would guess the Latin for “bare law” is “nuda lex”–which is what Wilson is talking about.

  31. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 8, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Sorry about the length of the previous comment. On a side note, how does one make italics here, so that one can draw attention to what one is emphasizing?

  32. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 8, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    While I’m on this, I have to say that one part of Witsius is unconvincing. He argues that the law partakes of the CoW because of the terror and threatening at Sinai. Turretin and others argue the same way.

    This seems to run aground, however, on Hebrews 12:18-29:

    -The author of Hebrews explicitly refers to the terrifying judgment threatened at Sinai, and earthly mountain (18-22).
    -He declares that we have come to the heavenly mountain (22-24).
    -And concludes that there is the threat of greater judgment at the latter (25-29).

    But the latter is also the new covenant, with better promises. Thus, if terrifying potential for judgment is a characteristic of a CoW, then the new covenant, with better promises, partakes of that characteristic more than the Mosaic!

  33. Mark Horne said,

    April 8, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Not just Hebrews. The Apostle John fell over like a dead man at the sight of Jesus. Saul was throne to the ground, too, but he was unregenerate at the time. John’s reaction is more interesting.

  34. Steven Carr said,

    April 8, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    “Jesus has died in our place so that believers are no longer subject to the penalty they deserve.”

    Mark, don’t forget the other part: Jesus was obedient to the Father in our place, so that we could gain His perfect righteousness.

  35. April 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Joshua,

    I’m not sure if this’ll work, but I’ll give it a shot:

    Before the word you want to italicize, put a . When you’ve typed the word, but a . For bold, switch the i to b.

  36. April 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Foiled again, it removed my less-thans and greater-thans!

  37. Mark Horne said,

    April 8, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Stephen, I do believe that the resurrection, as a verdict on Christ, included all his faithfulness. So we who are justified in Christ’s justification are indeed the recipients of that credit. His obedience is imputed to us.

    However, ….

    OK, I was about to write you an epistle but it would be way off topic. Some other time.

  38. jared said,

    April 8, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Joshua,

    Let me have a go at the italics thing. You have to use html tags which are “opened” and “closed”. The tags are single letter commands that modify the text accordingly. For italics the open command is the letter “i” and the close command is the letter “i” preceded by a “/”. Both commands need to be in brackets “”. Now, since we can’t use those brackets for demonstrating I’m going to substitute the “<" with "{". I'll use two examples; the first will be with the demonstration brackets {} and the second will be with the actual brackets "”

    1a – I want to emphasize {i}this{/i} word.
    1b – I want to emphasize this word.

    You’ll notice that you don’t need to use the quotation marks. You also don’t need to include spaces between the open/close tags and the word you are modifying; write them all as one word. There are other commands:

    2a – I want to bold {b}this{/b} word.
    2b – I want to bold this word.

    3a – I want to underline {u}this{u} word.
    3b – I want to underline this word.

    Hopefully this makes sense.

  39. jared said,

    April 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    And that’s what happens when you forget to close one of your tags. Here are the last two examples (maybe?):

    2a – I want to bold {b}this{/b} word.
    2b – I want to bold this word.

    3a – I want to underline {u}this{/u} word.
    3b – I want to underline this word.

  40. jared said,

    April 8, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    So, apparently you can’t underline on Lane’s blog; but is that helpful?

  41. David Gray said,

    April 8, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    > So, apparently you can’t underline on Lane’s blog; but is that helpful?

    It has something to do with the law-gospel distinction.

  42. Phil Derksen said,

    April 8, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Jared,

    Well done! This is very informative for us techno-tards. Thanks!

  43. Ron Henzel said,

    April 9, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Douglas Moo on Romans 10:5-13:

    Central to the Reformers’ teaching about salvation was their distinction between “law” and “gospel.” “Law” is whatever God commands us to do; “gospel” is what God in his grace gives us. The Reformers uniformly insisted that human depravity made it impossible for a person to be saved by doing what God commands; only by humbly accepting, in faith, the “good news” of God’s work on our behalf could a person be saved. This theological “law”/”gospel” antithesis is at the heart of this paragraph, as Paul contrasts the righteousness that is based on “doing” the law (v. 5) with the righteousness that is based on faith (vv. 6-13). Significantly, Paul finds this distinction in the OT itself, manifesting his concern to prove that the gospel that has proved a stumbling block for so many Jews and a foundation stone for so many Gentiles is in continuity with the OT.

    [The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans, 1996), 644.]

    As Moo says, the distinction is not merely in the human heart, but it’s at the heart of the text.

  44. Reed Here said,

    April 9, 2010 at 7:37 am

    I want to bold this word ({b}this{/b}).
    I want to italicize this word ({i}this{/i}).
    I want to underline this word ({u}this{/u}).

    Where the “{” character substitute for the “”.

    (Just a little help Jared).

  45. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 9, 2010 at 8:02 am

    You can do the correct brackets with a little HTML help like this:

    <i>Italicize this!</i>

    Italicize this!

    See here for complete help.

  46. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 9, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Hah! My link failed. Pride goes before a fail. Here’s the correct link (he says hopefully)

  47. Phil Derksen said,

    April 9, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Hey, getting back to the original theme of the thread here, I’ll give all of you IT guys a grade of A-.

  48. Reed Here said,

    April 9, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Good thing you’re not the professor handing out the grades. At least with my grade anyway.

  49. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 9, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Reed, I’ve lost your e-mail addy. Would it be possible to contact you off-line? Put it over on my blog and I’ll “disappear it” forthwith.

  50. tim prussic said,

    April 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Ron (#43), regarding your quote of Moo, you wrote: “As Moo says, the distinction is not merely in the human heart, but it’s at the heart of the text.” Funny thing is he says nothing of the sort. He’s saying that Paul’s argument in vv. 5-13 is a contrast between keeping the law for righteousness and the righteousness of faith. That’s not “in the text” – Paul’s talking about the law and gospel in the person. The person either works the law or he trust in Christ.

    In any event, I have a question that maybe you can answer. I’ve asked it of Pr. Lane a few times over the course of the past couple weeks, but I don’t see that he’s answered it. I want to know what the connection is between denying the law/gospel hermeneutic and denying sola fide. That connection seems to be at the heart of Pr. Lane’s retraction.

  51. Andy Gilman said,

    April 9, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    In #37 Mark says:

    I do believe that the resurrection, as a verdict on Christ, included all his faithfulness. So we who are justified in Christ’s justification are indeed the recipients of that credit. His obedience is imputed to us.

    For Mark, it appears that a person is justified when Christ’s justification is imputed to him. Contrast Mark’s view with the OPC Report on Justification, on pgs 42 and 43, found here: http://www.opc.org/GA/JustificationBook.pdf

    Paul says that those who reign in life through Christ are those who receive the gift of dikaiosunh, righteousness,—hence, justification consists in receiving righteousness, as a gift. A number of commentators understand this righteousness as a reference to the Christian’s status as righteous. As considered above, however, our predicament in regard to righteousness concerns our moral uprightness, not our status per se. Paul speaks not of a gift of justification, which might indeed refer to a gift of the status of being righteous. He speaks instead of a gift of righteousness, a provision of the moral rectitude that we lack in ourselves. Given all that Paul says elsewhere, this gift of righteousness must be the righteousness of God in Christ, somehow bestowed upon us.

  52. Andy Gilman said,

    April 9, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    The italics didn’t work right on that blockquote from the OPC report. Let me try it again:

    Paul says that those who reign in life through Christ are those who receive the gift of dikaiosunh, righteousness,—hence, justification consists in receiving righteousness, as a gift. A number of commentators understand this righteousness as a reference to the Christian’s status as righteous. As considered above, however, our predicament in regard to righteousness concerns our moral uprightness, not our status per se. Paul speaks not of a gift of justification, which might indeed refer to a gift of the status of being righteous. He speaks instead of a gift of righteousness, a provision of the moral rectitude that we lack in ourselves. Given all that Paul says elsewhere, this gift of righteousness must be the righteousness of God in Christ, somehow bestowed upon us.

  53. Andy Gilman said,

    April 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I know Mark’s comment, and my follow-up on Mark’s comment are both off topic, but I didn’t think it was any more off topic than the foray into HTML coding, so I hoped I might be excused! :-)

  54. April 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Tim,

    I want to know what the connection is between denying the law/gospel hermeneutic and denying sola fide.

    Simply put, when it comes to the issue of justification in particular, there are two ways to attain the eternal reward: either by our own personal law-keeping, or by faith in Jesus and his work of obedience and sacrifice on our behalf (I’m really trying to retain our confessional language here).

    So when you come to a passage that urges obedience to God’s commands, we think to ourselves, “Since I maintain sola fide, I must therefore understand this passage to NOT be saying that this law-keeping is the means for my justification. Rather, it presupposes it.”

    And likewise, when we come across a passage that urges faith in Christ, we say, “Since I maintain sola fide, I understand this passage to be telling me how to be justified.”

    And furthermore, since Paul everywhere pits faith against works, our works/faith (or law/gospel) distinction enables us to biblically navigate the Scriptural waters, thus coming to an understanding of justification that does not blur what God everywhere separates.

    But once we abandon the law/gospel distinction when it comes to justification, we end up with a soteriology that says that Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, and we all need to walk in faithful obedience (or, golawspel) in order to receive the eternal reward. Which is a denial of sola fide.

  55. Paige Britton said,

    April 9, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    #54, JJS –
    Though, just to be clear, Jesus did have to walk in faithful obedience in order to earn the eternal reward for us, since he is the one who kept the covenant of works for us. So of the list you mentioned, he is the only one we can say is justified (or earns justification?) not via sola fide, right? :)
    pb

  56. April 9, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Paige,

    My point was that those who blur law/gospel (FV’ers in particular) love to talk about how both Adam and Jesus were/would have been justified by faith, plus obedience. But in Adam’s case, whatever trust he inevitably had in God is not exactly analogous to what our tradition calls “saving faith” on the part of sinners. And in Jesus’ case, although he also trusted his Father, he wasn’t doing so as the antithesis of appealing to his own works (the way Paul tells us to). In fact, he talked about his works all the time.

    So like, don’t draw a line from pre-fallen Adam or Jesus straight to ourselves, is what I’m saying.

  57. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 9, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Jason,

    I don’t see, though, how that distinction in the various texts is necessary. Consider Rom. 10:6ff. This would seem to be the paradigmatic “law” passage in Deut. 30:12-14–Israel is to hear the law and do it, and if they do not, they will receive the curses of 15ff. This is clearly what God commands to do, and thus seems as though it should go in the “law” category. But that is exactly what Paul does not do! He says that this text actually expresses what the righteousness of faith says. So, Deut. 30:12-14 is “law” according to the text–it is a clear command, with blessings and curses attached–but according to the one who receives it in faith, it is “gospel.”

    What is there about the text of Deut. 30 that is different from Lev. 18? Where are the unconditional promises in Deut. 30? Both texts as such are imperatives, what God commands and must be done (“Do this…” and “so that we might do it”), with attendant blessings and curses. But for Paul, one is “law” and one is “gospel.” Thus, the distinction must be in how the text is received.

    What’s odd is that this actually sets up justification by faith alone as the governing hermeneutic of every Scripture: if one seeks righteousness in Christ alone through faith, then a text that seems to be clearly a legal demand, with possible curses, is actually the gospel. JBFA thus is what rules the text! How can that be a denial of JFBA?

  58. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    What Adam had (or did not have) actually fits much of WCF’s identification of the acts of saving faith: obedience, trembling at the warnings, embracing the promises. Of course, he didn’t obey, didn’t sufficiently fear the warning of death, didn’t embrace the promise that God has provided everything he needed and would give him life…

    I suppose we need to distinguish “faith” simpliciter and “saving” or “redemptive” faith as a specific term, since Adam obviously had to have faith in those ways, but it was not saving in the same way before the fall as after the fall. If he had obeyed, trembled, embraced, he would have been saved from falling, so it’s “saving” faith in some sense (!).

    It seems that the redemptive aspect of “general faith” is a subset of “embracing the promises”: i.e., embracing the specific promise that Christ died for the ungodly. Faith is not just a general attitude of trust, but a placing of confidence in something that God says specifically. So, Jesus had faith that God would do what He had promised there, namely raise him from the dead and make him the firstfruit of a great posterity, thus declaring him to be truly the Son of God in power (and thus “justifying” Jesus claims throughout his ministry)…

  59. Paige Britton said,

    April 9, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Jason #56 —
    So like, don’t draw a line from pre-fallen Adam or Jesus straight to ourselves, is what I’m saying.

    Got it. Thanks. (I’d forgotten about pre-fallen Adam, too.)
    pb

  60. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 9, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Jesus’ faith was similar to ours in:

    -the immediate object, conceived generally, i.e. the promises of God
    -the ultimate object, i.e., God Himself and His faithful character
    -some of the acts, considered according to their form or genus, i.e., the non-principle acts of “saving faith” in WCF (obeying and embracing–trembling was indirect and general, since Jesus did tremble at the judgment against sin in genera, but that was not a judgment specifically against his sins, since he had none)

    Jesus faith was different from ours in:

    -the specific immediate object:
    -Jesus believed in the promises made to him (e.g., Ps. 16:10, 2:8)
    -we believe in the promises made to us, that we have life through him
    -the material of the non-principle acts:
    -e.g., we tremble at God’s warnings against our sins personally
    -the inherent quality:
    -Jesus’ was perfect and perpetual
    -ours is sometimes weak, or mixed with pride or self-righteousness
    -and thus in effect:
    -Jesus’ was properly meritorious: “because”
    -ours is only instrumental: “through”
    -and thus in other specific acts:
    -Jesus’ has the act of a meritorious cause, a basis, for God’s delight
    -ours has the act of an instrument, a means through which God applies the meritorious cause to us.

    Anyhow, a little modern-day Protestant scholasticism, I hope. Don’t know whether it’s helpful or not…

  61. April 9, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Joshua,

    I don’t have time to apply the law/gospel distinction to every text, nor do I think it ought to be applied to every text. So I can’t comment on your point about Rom. 10 at the moment (heck, I’m having a hard enough time prepping my sermon on Heb. 6:4-8 for this Sunday morning!).

    My point is really very simple: Setting aside whatever dynamic was happening beween both unfallen Adam and Jesus on the one hand, and God on the other, the fact is that the NT posits two distinct principles of inheritance of eternal rewards for sinners: personal law-keeping, and faith in the obedience and sacrifice of Another.

    As a Reformed minister in the PCA, I simply do not have the option of denying this principle (forget the PCA, as a Protestant I can’t deny this). So when I come to a text that issues commands, I seek to understand it in the light of this law/gospel distinction. Sometimes I conclude that the text is law intending to show my need for Jesus, other times I conclude that the text is law that presupposes my union with Christ and serves as a way for me to express my gratitude to Jesus, but what I can never conclude is that the text issues law as a means for me to earn my justification.

    Sorry to seemingly dodge your Rom. 10 question, but I really am under the gun here!

  62. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 9, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Adam’s faith differs from our in much the same way that Jesus’ differs from ours, I would say, and Adam’s differs from Jesus’ in:

    1. the specific immediate object: the specific promises to Jesus were not made to Adam.
    2. the specific object of the trembling: Adam was to tremble at the warning against his own personal sin
    3. the effect: Jesus’ was properly meritorious, beyond what was naturally necessary, because he could have accessed his divine nature (or perhaps have legitimately asked for a revelation to his human nature) to know perfectly, rather than simply trust. Adam’s was not properly meritorious, because he was a creature and thus dependent upon God for all that he received.

    Hm…don’t know if this helps either…

  63. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Jason,

    I appreciate what reply you can give. I’m in the pleasant spot of having an extra half-day free after conferences.

    Since the law and all the Scriptures testify to Christ, am I allowed as a Protestant to look for Christ in the law? Can I read Lev. 18:5 and “Christ did these things, and because He did these things perfectly, I can live”? Isn’t the perfect righteousness demanded in the law also a witness to Christ, not simply a condemnation of myself? That seems to me how Paul is reading Deut. 30…

  64. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Sorry, and say “Christ did…”

  65. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 9, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Paul’s reading of Deut. 30 doesn’t seem to me to fit your options. He doesn’t conclude that he is unable to do it, nor does he conclude that it teaches us gratitude: he rather says it is the gospel (“the word of faith which I preach”)…

    Anyhow, blessings on your sermon. Don’t worry about answering for the time being.

  66. April 9, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Joshua,

    Since the law and all the Scriptures testify to Christ, am I allowed as a Protestant to look for Christ in the law? Can I read Lev. 18:5 and “Christ did these things, and because He did these things perfectly, I can live”? Isn’t the perfect righteousness demanded in the law also a witness to Christ, not simply a condemnation of myself? That seems to me how Paul is reading Deut. 30…

    Yes, yes, yes, no question about it.

    When I read about King David and his sins, I say, “This shows me the need for the Son of David and King of kings to be perfectly faithful.”

    And when I read about King David and his righteousness, I say, “This is a type of the righteousness that David’s royal Son provides for me.”

    Like I said, my remarks about how to read the law are not exhaustive by any stretch.

  67. Paige Britton said,

    April 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Joshua #57 —
    If I may — you wrote,
    Consider Rom. 10:6ff. This would seem to be the paradigmatic “law” passage in Deut. 30:12-14–Israel is to hear the law and do it, and if they do not, they will receive the curses of 15ff. This is clearly what God commands to do, and thus seems as though it should go in the “law” category. But that is exactly what Paul does not do! He says that this text actually expresses what the righteousness of faith says. So, Deut. 30:12-14 is “law” according to the text–it is a clear command, with blessings and curses attached–but according to the one who receives it in faith, it is “gospel.”

    I am not sure I agree with you here, that the text of Deut. 30 “actually expresses what the righteousness of faith says.” It seems that Paul is not here equating the “law” of Deut. 30 with the “gospel” of his message, to be received in different ways by different people (i.e., as law by those without faith, and as gospel by those who do have faith). Rather, it seems that he begins in 10:5 with a direct look at the law in Lev. 18:5, but then in 10:6ff he simply makes use of the structure of Deut. 30 to talk about something different — the gospel message of “righteousness by faith.” It’s almost playful, in a literary way. Thus there’s a continued allusion to Deut. 30 coupled with a complete contrast of content.

    BTW, I liked your scholastic attempts.

    pb

  68. Ron Henzel said,

    April 9, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Tim,

    In comment 50, you wrote:

    Ron (#43), regarding your quote of Moo, you wrote: “As Moo says, the distinction is not merely in the human heart, but it’s at the heart of the text.” Funny thing is he says nothing of the sort. […]

    Actually, if you look a wee bit more closely, you’ll see that Moo not only says it, but he says it explicitly. He wrote:

    This theological “law”/”gospel” antithesis is at the heart of this paragraph […]

    Unless, of course, you’re arguing that “this paragraph” (Rom. 10:5-13) is not part of the text of Scripture! Moo also wrote:

    Significantly, Paul finds this distinction in the OT itself […]

    So, according to Moo, the law/gospel distinction is not only in the text of the NT, but also the OT.

    In any event, I have a question that maybe you can answer. I’ve asked it of Pr. Lane a few times over the course of the past couple weeks, but I don’t see that he’s answered it. I want to know what the connection is between denying the law/gospel hermeneutic and denying sola fide. That connection seems to be at the heart of Pr. Lane’s retraction.

    Actually, I think Lane explained the connection in his original post, when he wrote:

    If there is no distinction in the text of Scripture between law and gospel (that is, if the difference between law and gospel is only in the application, and not in the text), then all the discussion of faith in the New Testament is both law and gospel, which we’ll call Golawspel. This means that, even in the apostle Paul’s most rigorous separation of faith and works, which occurs in his discussions of justification, Paul is not really claiming that law observance is separate from faith within the structure of justification. For the definition of faith itself must fall prey to the Golawspel muddlement. If faith, therefore, is not opposed to works in justification, then justification is no longer sola fide.

    In other words (if I may add here to the good things Jason has been writing), when you deny the law/gospel distinction, inevitably the traditional works/faith distinction goes out the window with it, in that both “works” and “faith” get re-defined through the collapsing of the distinction between the law and gospel to which they correspond. We’ve seen this again and again how this approach plays out in actual practice, including relatively recently in one of its late-20th century practitioners, Daniel P. Fuller, whose book Gospel & Law: Contrast or Continuum? (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: William B. Eerdmans, 1980), effectively merged faith and works into “the obedience of faith,” making obedience an essential part of faith, and hence of justification. Scott Clark refers to this as, “The inversion of law and gospel into grace and obligation,” explaining:

    Having received initial grace, now the emphasis falls on the obligation to cooperate with grace. This move is fundamental to covenantal nomism and is common to the Reformed revisers of the doctrine of justification.

    [“Letter and Spirit,” in Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry, (Phillipsburg, NJ, USA: P&R Publishing, 2007), 351-352.]

  69. Reed Here said,

    April 9, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Ron and Tim: if I might jump in for a minute,

    The lack of distinction in the text between law and gospel results in faith = faithfulness (good works); a mixing of the condition and its fruits. Does this not also eliminat the distinction between:

    > Works that yield salvation, and
    > Works that follow from salvation?

    In a Golawspel scenario all works are in some manner related to faith. There can be no work which in and of itself is meritorious.

    Further question: what does that then do to Christ’ work? If his were nothing more than an expression of faith, then how can they in any manner be meritious? If this is so, what’s the good news on the gospel?

    I feel myself potentially spinning off into space thinking about these things, so please feel free to reel me back in.

  70. terry west said,

    April 9, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Reed,
    What about this, what if what is being missed in this discussion is that our faith can never merit anything because our faith is always less than perfect. Our faith by its very nature is tainted with sin. So even if faith is considered as a duty or a command (and in a sense it must be considered this way) it doesn’t matter cause it can of itself never merit anything at all from God. Christ on the other hand had perfect faith. All of Christs obedience and/or works were perfect. So, this seems to me to bring us to the point of Doug’s emphasis on the distinction being in the heart. The saved man sees his faith (and all his duty for that matter) for what it is, i.e. falling way short of the mark and therefore looks to Christ as his mediator no matter what text he is reading. The wicked prideful man thinks by performance of his duty God owes him and therefore tries to put his Creator in his debt. Which, by the way, seems to be what Joshua was saying as well when he made the point that JBFA in this way becomes the driving factor in studying Scripture precisely because it resides in the heart of the man made alive by the Spirit.

  71. terry west said,

    April 9, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    In that last sentence I meant say that JBFA becomes the driving factor because the distinction between law/Gospel resides precisely in the heart of the man who has been effectually called and made alive by the Spirit.

  72. terry west said,

    April 9, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    To all in Lane’s corner,
    What is the point of trying to insist that the distinction must reside in the text or JBFA is denied? I mean can the unregenerate man see this even if your position is granted? Doesn’t the distinction need to be in the heart for the text to be properly understood and salvation to occur? Isn’t this really the point that Doug is making? So in light of this fact it seems lto me that Lane’s conclusion is invalid den if his premises is granted.

  73. terry west said,

    April 9, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    You guys will have to excuse me… I am typing this from my Droid and sometimes the spell checker gets it wrong and I don’t catch it. The last sentence in the above post was supposed to say – “even if his premise is granted.”

  74. Reed Here said,

    April 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Terry: I’m sorry, but your definition of faith lacks the necessary biblical distinctions. what you’ve said in effect is tha Adam’s faith is of the same character as Christs faith, as our faith. To be sure you’ve identified differences in qualities (at least between our’s and Christs). Yet you’ve defined faith as being coterminous with obedience (a.k.a., Shepherd’s faithfulness).

    This paradigm completely contradicts the Bible’s presentation of the active nature of the obedience required from Adam and us. It is not obedience of faith. It is obedience apart from faith.

    From your paradigm, yep JBFA is not denied by denying the law/gospel distinction. But that is only because you redefine what faith is. Such a definition of faith completely voids the necessity of alien righteousness. You don’t see it because you’ve called faith obedience.

    You guys are actually persuading me of Lane’s position (I was somewhat ambivalent before).

  75. terry west said,

    April 9, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Reed,
    How did what I say void the necessity of an alien righteousness? I said that the regenerate man sees his inherent sinfulness and his need for the alien righteousness of Christ his mediator. And also please enlightened me on these necessary Biblical distinctions I didn’t apply to my definition of faith? My argument was simply that even if we were to consider faith as a duty it still doesn’t change the fact that it still cannot merit anything regardless. Therefore justifying faith is precisely in the heart of the regenerate aloneman because he doesn’t look to any performance of duty but rather to Christ alone as his righteousness, etc.

  76. tim prussic said,

    April 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Ron, Reed et al,

    Thanks for the discussion. I feel like I’m sliding over the same material again and again without getting the traction to understand the position.

    Let’s see… Ron (#68), that quote from Pr. Lane is what sparked the questions that I don’t think have been addressed. He moves from a confusion of the text of Scripture (this text is law and that gospel) to faith being muddled with works in the person justified. He moves from a hermeneutic to the faith of a person in justification. Now, I think that the person being justified must eschew all efforts of his own and trust Christ alone. The Gospel necessitates that. In other words, his faith MUST not cling to his own works, but only to Christ, offered in the Gospel. That’s a different thing than a hermeneutic. The subjective appreciation of the LGD is necessary. The (more) objective application of the LGD in hermeneutics is not necessary for justification. Are we justified by faith alone plus hermeneutics? If our hermeneutics is screwed up, are we without Christ? It just seems that we have a confusion of categories, here. But maybe I’m all wet.

    BTW, I DO hold to a LGH (not the one I’ve heard at Westminster West, but a toned-down version of it).

  77. wardhillchurch said,

    April 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Reed: “This paradigm completely contradicts the Bible’s presentation of the active obedience required from Adam and us. It is not obedience of faith. It is obedience apart from faith.”

    God demanded from Adam an obedience apart from faith? Is there even such a thing as true obedience apart from faith?

  78. wardhillchurch said,

    April 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Btw, the wardhillchurch post is mine. I forgot to sign out of that wordpress account.
    Peace, Manlius

  79. tim prussic said,

    April 9, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Also, it would be worth reading Berkhof’s short treatment of LGD in his ST. He seems to hold a workable middle ground on these issues. It’s in Part V, The Means of Grace, section II.

  80. David Gadbois said,

    April 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Paige said Rather, it seems that he begins in 10:5 with a direct look at the law in Lev. 18:5, but then in 10:6ff he simply makes use of the structure of Deut. 30 to talk about something different — the gospel message of “righteousness by faith.” It’s almost playful, in a literary way. Thus there’s a continued allusion to Deut. 30 coupled with a complete contrast of content.

    Bingo. Paul is borrowing some of the language of Deuteronomy 30 to make the point that the requirements of God (specifically the requirement of believing in Christ’s resurrection) are not burdensome. He was not saying nor implying that the covenantal nomism that characterized God’s dealings with Israel (requiring good works as the condition for continued blessing) is the Gospel, ie. is equivalent in character to the covenant of grace.

  81. terry west said,

    April 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Reed,
    Also, please explain to me how it is possible to have obedience apart from faith? True obedience must presuppose faith in a finite creature who has a very limited knowledge. It is absurd to try to concieve of any true obedience in a creature apart from any sense of faith being at the foundation of any true acceptable obedience render to God.

  82. Reed Here said,

    April 9, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Terry: you and I are working off completely different definitions of faith. You’ve made faith coterminous with obedience. As well, you’ve flattened any distinctions within obedience itself. E.g., the distinction between meritorious obedience and evangelical obedience does not exist in your paradigm. For you Adam’s faith is in essence the same as the faith we exercise as a gift from Christ.

    It is fruitless to try and handle your questions, as we will be talking past one another.

  83. terry west said,

    April 9, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Reed,
    You will have to forgive me if I don’t buy that at all. Nice dodge though. But that’s fine if you don’t see any need to proceed.

  84. Ron Henzel said,

    April 9, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Reed,

    In comment 69, you wrote:

    […] if I might jump in for a minute,

    By all means!

    The lack of distinction in the text between law and gospel results in faith = faithfulness (good works); a mixing of the condition and its fruits. Does this not also eliminat the distinction between:

    > Works that yield salvation, and
    > Works that follow from salvation?

    Yes, ultimately it has to. This is pretty much what I was trying to get at when I noted that Fuller “merged faith and works into ‘the obedience of faith,’ making obedience an essential part of faith, and hence of justification.” After 500 years of Reformation theology and its development, however, the problem for people like Fuller (if I may focus on him as an archetype of sorts), who want to somehow remain in the historic Protestant fold, is to explain how it’s possible to actually maintain sola fide, while denying the law/gospel distinction. Unlike members of the FV, Fuller was acutely aware of the problem, and actually discussed it. He was not only honest enough to admit that he was contradicting the Reformed tradition all the way back to Calvin on this point (which he documented), but he spelled out in some detail the dramatic extent of his project to revise Reformed soteriology.

    First he sums up the conclusion that is essentially his abandonment of the law/gospel distinction:

    The conclusion, then, is that instead of two sets of promises in the Bible—conditional and unconditional—there is only one kind of promise throughout Scripture, and the realization of its promise is dependent upon compliance with conditions which are well characterized as “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26).

    [Daniel P. Fuller, Gospel & Law: Contrast or Continuum? (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: William B. Eerdmans, 1980), 105.]

    He then anticipates his readers asking how it will be possible to maintain sola gratia, sola fide, and sola gloria in light of this conclusion. He even asks the questions himself. Regarding the second, he writes:

    If men must do certain things in order to carry out the obedience of faith, how can the scriptural emphasis that man is saved by faith, apart from works, be maintained (sola fide)?

    [Ibid.]

    His answer is essentially to redefine faith. In fact, the denial of the law/gospel distinction sets up a domino effect on the definitions of theological words. When you redefine law as something not essentially different from gospel, you tip the first domino. That one, in turn, knocks over the “gospel” domino, so that “gospel” has to be somehow connected with the works in a way that it was not previously.

    How does this work in Fuller’s system? Once he obliterates the distinction between law and gospel, replacing sola fide with “the obedience of faith,” he realizes that the Reformation’s doctrine of grace is the next domino to tip over. This launches him on one of the longest and most contorted discussions in his book (105-109) in which he ultimately concludes—if I may make an allusion to a favorite FV shibboleth—that “grace alone is not a grace that is alone.” For Fuller, “grace” is something that God does for us based on something in us—viz., humility.

    Likewise, unless people come to God with an attitude of humility in which they believe that he will do his best for them and they patiently yield to his way of conducting their lives, they will not experience his grace in bringing them many blessings.

    [Ibid., 109.]

    It’s clear from the context that one of the blessings to which he is referring is salvation itself. Salvation is no longer by “grace alone” in the way the Reformers defined it because people cannot receive the grace of salvation unless they first have the proper attitude. So instead of defining grace as “unmerited favor” (a definition which he directly criticizes), God’s grace to us is conditioned upon a quality He finds within us.

    But how does this explain how Fuller still maintains both sola gratia and the requirement of “works of faith,” since, after all, if salvation “is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Rom. 11:6)?

    Down goes the next domino! Fuller has, in fact, been planting the seeds of his redefinition of “works” in his redefinition of “grace.” He used a “workman/client” analogy in his redefinition of grace to shift the emphasis from our lack of merit to God’s motive for showing grace (i.e., our humble patience). Now he continues with that analogy to explain “grace alone” can still be based on our works:

    …the “work” that a person [sinner] does to gain optimal benefit from what a workman [God] is doing for him—this “work of faith” entails no pride, but only an acknowledgment of how greatly the client [sinner] needs the services administered to him and how grateful he is for them. The work done by a client [sinner] is a work of faith because it entails a confidence that the workman [God] has the resources and the expertise to meet the need of the client [sinner].

    [Ibid., 111.]

    Essentially, Fuller argues that salvation without the law/gospel distinction is still by “grace alone” because it doesn’t require the kind of works that he thinks Paul is talking about when he says it is “not by works.” According to Fuller, in those texts Paul is talking about the kind of works that only God can perform for us. But “works of faith”—the same humble patience that motivates God to give us grace in the first place—are still required.

    But if salvation is something based on “works of faith” it’s clear that faith (the sola fide that saves) can no longer be something that takes hold of Christ alone for salvation, but rather,

    Faith, then, is basically a confidence directed toward a future in which God will do and be all the he has promised in the Bible. … One of God’s promises is that he will give everyone his just deserts at the proper time …

    When one understands what a “work of faith” is, he ceases to be troubled by those Bible passages which stresses the works one must do in order to be saved, or more fully blessed, while others speak only of believing. …

    [Ibid., 112-113.]

    So the next domino to fall is the word “faith.” Forget all this complicated stuff about trying to distinguish between “law texts” that make salvation impossibly conditional upon works and “gospel texts” that sound too good to be true! Faith is just about trusting God. Sometimes He says you will be justified by faith alone; other times He says you’ll need works. Not to worry! It’s all good. Just count on the fact that you’ll need “works of faith” (a.k.a., “the obedience of faith”).

    But if we will ultimately saved through the obedience of faith, which requires works of faith, isn’t that legalism? Funny you should ask. That brings us to the next domino.

    Legalism, then, is no longer defined, as it has been in these two systems [Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism], as doing things “in order to…” gain a blessing from God. … But we propose that a legalist…is a person who presumes that because of some distinctive he has acquired, he is able to render needful service to God and his fellow man.

    [Ibid., 113.]

    The further the development of a system in which the law/gospel distinction is denied goes, the more difficult dialogue with it from the Reformed perspective becomes due to increasing terminological differences. The situation is similar with Roman Catholicism, which defines “faith” as mere mental assent and “justification” as being “made righteous,” which helps to explain why “justification by faith alone” sounds absurd to a Roman Catholic who is educated in his own tradition.

    You wrote:

    Further question: what does that then do to Christ’ work? If his were nothing more than an expression of faith, then how can they in any manner be meritious? If this is so, what’s the good news on the gospel?

    If salvation is by “grace alone” (as long as we have the quality of humble patience), by “faith alone” (i.e., confidence in God when He promises us that our eternal destiny is conditioned on our “works of faith”), apart from “works” (i.e., the works that only God can do for us—we still have to do works for God), then we are talking about a “gospel” that is in some respects more Pelagian than the semi-Pelagianism of the Council of Trent. At least Trent made room for “initial grace” that was not dependent on any prior quality in the sinner! A “gospel” such as Fuller’s has no need for the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers—whether we’re speaking of His active or His passive righteousness.

    Fuller’s attack on the law/gospel distinction came at the end of a journey that began with his defection from Dispensationalism, which he concluded destroys the unity of Scripture. He took refuge for a time in Covenant Theology, but eventually came to the conclusion that the law/gospel distinction that Dispensationalism shared with it (although in a very different form) was to blame for the offenses of Dispensationalism itself. In my opinion, his comments on Reformed Theology consistently reveal only the most rudimentary level along with crucial gaps in his understanding, as when he wrote more recently:

    So he [Calvin] and his followers, who down to the present advocate what is often called covenant theology, have regarded Adam and Eve as under what is called a “covenant of works.” According to this system, when Jesus came to earth, he fulfilled the covenant of meritorious works that Adam and Even broke. Consequently the gospel by which we are saved is then a “covenant of grace,” made such by Jesus’ having merited it for us by his perfect fulfillment of the covenant of works. Reformed theology declares that the covenant of grace is thus “unconditional,” though I have yet to find anywhere in Scripture a gospel promise that is unconditional. Sometimes repentance, but always faith, is the explicit condition a person must meet to receive the forgiveness of sins made possible by Jesus’ finished work in his incarnation and death on the cross.

    [Fuller, The Unity of the Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 181-182.]

    As muddled as this is, it is even more so when we consider how he redefines both “faith” and “works.”

    I’m not saying that all those who deny the law/gospel distinction will have their dominoes fall exactly the same way Fuller’s have, much less that the FV parallels Fuller in every respect. On the other hand, except for a few minor criticisms, Mark Horne has high praise for Fuller, particularly when Fuller is expanding on his denial of the law/gospel distinction.

  85. Ron Henzel said,

    April 9, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Terry,

    Your comments 70, 81 and 83 are perfect examples of what I illustrated in a paragraph of my comment 84:

    The further the development of a system in which the law/gospel distinction is denied goes, the more difficult dialogue with it from the Reformed perspective becomes due to increasing terminological differences. The situation is similar with Roman Catholicism, which defines “faith” as mere mental assent and “justification” as being “made righteous,” which helps to explain why “justification by faith alone” sounds absurd to a Roman Catholic who is educated in his own tradition.

    In comment 70, you said, “[…] even if faith is considered as a duty or a command (and in a sense it must be considered this way) […].” In comment 74, Reed correctly observed that you’re working with a definition of faith which treats it as coterminous with obedience, which is a fundamentally different definition from the biblical (and hence Reformed) definition of faith. You then raised a question about faith in comment 81, to which Reed again appropriately pointed out the futility of discussing something on the basis of a faulty definition. Your “don’t buy that/nice dodge” reply is perfectly in keeping with what I’m talking about.

    I couldn’t have set it up better. Thanks.

  86. Ron Henzel said,

    April 9, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Tim,

    Regarding your comment 76: does anything I wrote in comment 84 help?

  87. Tom Wenger said,

    April 9, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Terry,

    Speaking of nice dodges, care to answer the question I posed to you about about a week ago? In case you can’t recall it, I asked you what your definition of “reformed” was based on, if the confessions and a host of confessional theologians affirm the Law/Gospel distinction which you reject as non-reformed?

    Just curious.

  88. terry west said,

    April 9, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Ron,
    Excuse me, but I explicitly said that the man who has justifying faith does not look to any of his own performance of any duty, i.e. obedience at all but to Christ alone as his righteousness. So how do you get out of that that I have redefined faith? I simply argued that even IF we considered faith as performance of duty it still merits nothing in itself because nothing we can do period can merit anything before God. So what I am saying has absolutely nothing to do with what Fuller is talking about. I am in no way saying that we are justified by the obedience of faith. I am actually saying that we look to nothing at all of our obedience even our own faith as if it merits anything at all.

  89. terry west said,

    April 9, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Tom,
    For one thing I have never stated that I denied the law/Gospel distinction. I haven’t said I affirm it either. My problem is that I think Lane and those siding with him have failed to make the case that denying the law/Gospel distinction as they have defined it entails a denial of solar fide. The only way that Lane’s conclusion follows is if you accept his premise which is in dispute. This is called “begging the question” and is a fallacy. But, I also think that there is another fallacy at work here as well. Because even if I grant Lane’s premise his conclusion still does nit follow as I showed in my arguemnt to Reed. So, if Lane’s conclusion is based on faulty reasoning and can only be supported by “begging the question” then he needs to go back to the drawing board and retract his retraction for the time being and stop accusing people of denying something as essential as sola fide. But, alas once someone has so much invested and has received so much praise from the choir then I can see why all the effort is being put into propping up such a ridiculas line reasoning. And I am by no means saying that I am the only one that has shot gaping holes in Lane’s reasoning. Tim certainly has and Doug himself. And Joshua’s interaction on this thread alone has been simply devastating. So, as Reed said and Ron agreed there is probably no point in proceeding any further with the conversation because obviously there is an agenda afoot and we certainly don’t want to get in the way of that now do we.

  90. terry west said,

    April 9, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Tom,
    Just for clarification, my first two sentences in my last post was simply to make the point that whether I affirm or deny the L/G distinction is not why I have a problem with Lane’s conclusion. But, I see no reason to state my position either on the L/G distinction because I’m not going to satisfy the choir either way simply because I reject the line of reasoning being presented to support the conclusion that Wilson and the FV deny sola fide. So I’m just going to keep my position to myself and take Reed and Ron’s advice and proceed no further with the discussion.

  91. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 10, 2010 at 4:01 am

    Re 69:

    Reed, I tried to take a couple of comments to answer your question about Christ’s merit and its relation to faith. See comments 58 & 60, with Adam’s faith addressed in 62.

    I should note that I was specifically looking at Jesus’ faith, i.e. his trusting of God. Thus, those comments should not be taken to:
    -equate faith and obedience
    -collapse faith and faithfulness into one indistinguishable concept
    -deny that Jesus’ obedience was meritorious

    I was simply trying to suggest how we might talk about Jesus’ faith in an accurate and, hopefully, Reformed-orthodox way.

  92. Ron Henzel said,

    April 10, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Joshua,

    In comment 30, you wrote:

    What Witsius goes on to say seems to sound like Wilson’s distinction between the nuda lex and the tota lex:

    First of all, as I’ve said before, the whole nuda lex/totus lex thing is a red herring. The real issue is whether the law/gospel distinction can actually be found in the text of Scripture.

    Does the Bible contain texts that demand perfect obedience to God under threat of eternal curse, and other texts that promise the lifting of the curse in Christ for all who believe, or is that distinction merely in the perception of the readers? Doug Wilson has signed a document that concludes, “The fundamental division is not in the text, but rather in the human heart.”

    Now, however, in a recent comment (Wednesday, March 31, 2010 9:15 am) to his “Three Reasons…” blog post, he vacillates:

    Tim, law and gospel are both in the text, but the text as a whole is gospel. The prohibited tree was in the garden, but the garden as a whole was grace.

    If this doesn’t muddy the waters, I don’t know what does. For the purpose of this discussion I think we need to focus on the official document that he signed with ten other FV leaders back in 2007.

    You quote two sections from Witsius that begin as follows:

    “The covenant made With Israel at mount Sinai was not formally the covenant of works…

    And:

    “…we may look upon them [the ten words] as having a relation to any covenant whatever.

    And then you write:

    Notice that the decalogue by itself is not actually a covenant, but can have relation to any sort of covenant.

    Yes, Witsius held that the decalogue was not essentially a covenant, but an “instrument of the [Mosaic] covenant.” He held to the “subservient covenant” view of the Mosaic Covenant, which viewed it as a separate covenant from both the Covenant of Grace and the Covenant of Works, but instituted to serve the purposes of the Covenant of Grace. Turretin, on the other hand, viewed the Mosaic Covenant as “nothing else than a new economy of the covenant of grace” (IET 12.12.5/2:263). Both views included the thesis that the Covenant of Works was republished in the Mosaic Law, although it seems that Turretin was more comfortable characterizing the decalogue itself as that republication (IET 12.7.28/2:226), while Witsius is more apt to locate that republication elsewhere in the Pentateuch (e.g., Lev. 18:5).

    You wrote:

    Wilson’s point is that the moral law, all by itself (the nuda lex) does indeed condemn, but the tota lex, the law as it exists in the covenant after the fall, is gracious, because it directs to Christs and teaches us how to live in gratitude.

    If that were all he actually said, we’d have no problem. But if you go back and reread the tenth paragraph of his “Three Reasons…” post, immediately on the heels of his nuda lex / tota lex diversion he writes:

    We are therefore not outside that tradition when we say that the real division between law and grace lies within the human heart, not in the text itself.

    So we’re back to square one, and for some reason you seem to think he has Witsius on his side, for you wrote:

    Witsius also, by the way, makes the issue the unbelieving heart rather than the actual text:

    However the carnal Israelites, not adverting to God’s purpose or intention, as they ought, mistook the true meaning of that covenant, embraced it as a covenant of works, and by it sought for righteousness. …

    But if Witsius is really saying here the same thing that Wilson says, then he is contradicting at least two of the four premises that he articulates at the beginning of the article as foundational to all that follows. I will summarize those premises, one for each of his first four paragraphs, here:

    1.) The Mosaic Law repeats the terms of the Covenant of Works in its actual content.
    2.) The Mosaic Law repeated the terror that the Covenant of Works holds for sinners in the manner in which it was originally delivered to Israel.
    3.) While the Mosaic Law repeats the terms of the Covenant of Works, it does not reestablish it again as a covenant.
    4.) The Mosaic Law also repeated elements of the Covenant of Grace.

    In historic Covenant Theology, the Covenant of Works/Covenant of Grace distinction directly parallels the law/gospel distinction. They are virtually synonymous. If the Mosaic Law actually includes the content of the Covenant of Works, then it has to contain the command to obey God’s law with the promise of life for obedience and death for disobedience—i.e., it contains the pedagogical use of the law in its text. And if the Mosaic Law actually contains elements of the Covenant of Grace, then actual Good News is also found in its text. The distinction was not merely in the hearts of those who read or heard the Mosaic Law.

    By now it should be obvious, based on Witsius’s third premise, what he meant when he wrote that carnal Israelites “mistook the true meaning of that covenant, embraced it as a covenant of works, and by it sought for righteousness.” Republishing the Covenant of Works’ terms for the purpose of driving people to the Covenant of Grace and reestablishing it again as a covenant are two completely different things.

    You wrote:

    I would guess the Latin for “bare law” is “nuda lex”–which is what Wilson is talking about.

    You are, of course, referring to this sentence:

    But they, who stick to the bare law, and acknowledge not its pedagogy; by which they are brought to Christ, but rather make it an obstacle to their coming to him, these are Ishmaelites (for thus, and I think rightly, Morlorat reads) born unto bondage.”

    Again, the nuda lex/totus lex distinction is a red herring because Wilson is trying to use it to pit totus lex (the law “in all its parts and relations,” as he put it) against the traditional law/gospel distinction. He is attempting a reductio ad absurdum: if “the law” includes everything in the Mosaic Law, including the parts that reflect the Covenant of Grace (totus lex), how can there be an utter distinction between it and the Gospel? But the law/gospel distinction was never a distinction between the entire Mosaic Law and the Gospel. It refers to the law, first and foremost, as the moral law, and secondly as part of the terms of the republication of the Covenant of Works. In other words, it is a reference to the pedagogical use of the law, which is obviously distinct from the Gospel. That’s what the law/ gospel distinction has always been about in Reformed theology.

  93. Reed Here said,

    April 10, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Terry, no 82: you have no right to accuse me of dodging your questions. You are wrong to accuse me of this.

    I stated what I believe to be true. If you would care to give attention to the prios paragraph, I offered you sufficient explanation as to why I believe it to be true. I offered that explanation with the intention that you might be able to consider my conclusion and work with me to eliminate the difference.

    Such a display of arrogance on your part is uncalled for. I’ve not interacted with you to “win a debate” but to hoplefully engage in some brotherly iron sharpening iron.

    Shame on you.

  94. greenbaggins said,

    April 10, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Honestly, I’m not sure it would be profitable at this point to continue the conversation.

    1. People say that they don’t see why my conclusions follow from my premises. But these people will not read the Reformed tradition on the LGD. I don’t know how they will get it if they don’t read the paradigm. I cannot explain it all better than the Reformed fathers did. Read Colquhoun. Then you might understand the paradigm.

    2. People claim to have shot gaping holes in the argument. This is only because they have extended my argument way beyond what I said, and made it say something that I didn’t. For instance, I am accused of denying the third use of the law in affirming the LGD in regard to justification. The third use of the law is utterly, completely irrelevant to the LGD as it applies to justification. The third use of the law has to do only with sanctification, not justification. Secondly, people have said that my position is that one has to divide absolutely every passage in Scripture rigidly into one category or the other in order to uphold sola fide. I never said that, and I don’t mean that. What I mean is that all passages having to do with justification have to be rigidly divided between law and Gospel. So, people have shot gaping holes in arguments I never made, and people have not taken the trouble to understand what I actually wrote. I really don’t feel the need to interact just now. My point is relatively simple: if there is no law/gospel distinction in the text of Scripture, then every passage that defines faith is both a law passage and a gospel passage, which makes faith into a work, which hence denies sola fide. There has been no rebuttal to this specific argument. There have been many rebuttals of arguments I never made.

  95. Ron Henzel said,

    April 10, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Terry,

    Regarding your comment 88:

    I simply argued that even IF we considered faith as performance of duty it still merits nothing in itself because nothing we can do period can merit anything before God.

    First of all, you argued a bit more than that. In comment 70, you wrote:

    So even if faith is considered as a duty or a command (and in a sense it must be considered this way)

    [Bolding of text is mine.]

    This took your argument out of the hypothetical sphere. Are you now striking the “it must be considered this way” part of what you wrote? It is not my intention to offend you, only to understand you at this point. If I misinterpreted you, I apologize, but I still request your clarification.

    Meanwhile, secondly, when faith is considered as the performance of a duty it cannot justify, because we cannot be justified through the performance of a duty. It is identical to saying that we are justified through keeping the command to believe, which in turn is identical to saying that we are justified through a work of the law, which just happens to be faith.

    This reality is not affected by the addition of qualifiers, such as “faith as performance of duty […] still merits nothing in itself because nothing we can do period can merit anything before God,” because faith is the instrumental means for receiving justification (“by grace…through faith,” Eph. 2:8). So even with your qualifier, we still end up with the notion that we’re saved by grace through the instrumental means of performing a duty, instead of the instrumental means of embracing Christ, His atonement, and the duty He performed for us.

    Any time we focus on the role of faith in justification there is the danger of exaggerating its role. Here is some strong medicine from Bavinck to deal with that malady:

    To that end it needs to be in the foreground of our consciousness that all the benefits of salvation are secured by Christ and present in him and that he himself, as the Lord from heaven, is by his Spirit the one who distributes and applies them. Neither faith nor conversion is the condition that in any way acquires salvation for us. They are only the way in which the benefits of the covenant enter into the subjective possession of those for whom they were acquired. To that extent it is completely correct to say that justification, like the other benefits of the covenant, precedes faith. In “the pact of salvation” (pactum salutis) the Son already acted as the Guarantor and Mediator of his own. According to 2 Cor. 5:19, God reconciles the world to himself in Christ, who was handed over to death on account of our sins, was raised for our justification; that is, to acquire this justification by his death and to communicate it to us by his resurrection. Reconciliation (καταλλαγη) is not distinguished from expiation (ἱλασμος) by the fact that while the latter is objective the former is subjective. The former is also objective. The content of the gospel message is this: God has been reconciled, accept this reconciliation, and believe the gospel. Reconciliation, forgiveness, sanctification, and so forth, are not effected by our faith or our conversion but have been completely secured by Christ, who distributes them at his pleasure.

    [Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Academic, 2008), 4:122. Again, bolding of text is mine. The italics is in the original.]

    And all God’s people said…

  96. terry west said,

    April 10, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Ron,
    With all due respect what you are arguing for is simply hyper-calvinism. To deny duty faith is a mark of hyper-calvinism. That which Christ did does not in the least benefit us unless we become one with him and he dwell in us. This we receive by faith. This is what Calvin said. Calvin also said this work was done for the whole human race but is not received indiscriminately by all but is the efficacy of the Spirit that causes us to enjoy the blessings of Christ. In the link below u can see the exact quote. I’m typing this from my Droid and cannot copy and paste the text.
    http://reformedchristianmuse.wordpress.com/2007/05/08/worth-quoting-john-calvin-on-how-we-recieve-the-benefit-of-christs-work/

    Faith is certainly and act of our will and it is also a performance of duty because it is a response and compliance with a divine command to believe the Gospel. To deny this is to move from historic mainstream Calvinism into hyper-calvinism. But just because it is a duty does not therefore make it meritorious. To argue that is a non-sequitur. Faith can be both a duty and still simply instrumental because justify faith does not look to itself but rather looks to Christ and his work alone as that which is pleaseing to God and that which is need to be justified before God. So, I totally agree that faith as a performance of duty cannot justify. That’s the essence of my point. But to try and save justification from being by obedience by denying that faith is a performance of duty is simply absurd and not even necessary. Its unnecessary because justifying faith doesn’t look to itself as a performance of duty, i.e. a compliance with the command of God to believe on his Son as something that could possibly merit anything from God but rather recognizes that it is only in Christ alone that justification and righteousness is found.
    So, I agree with both you and Reed, this conversation is not going to advance but it because its you guys that are moving from historic Calvinism to hyper-calvinism. So, I’ve enjoyed the discussion but I think at this point we will simply have to disagree.

  97. terry west said,

    April 10, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    This is the last thing I will say on this discussion. But, I have suspected for a long time that the hostility toward the FV guys is coming from the hidden hyper-calvinism that is embedded in modern reformed churches. Especially in the pop culture Calvinism and the popular personalities that are taking it upon themselves to defend the “Reformed Tradition” as they see it.

  98. Phil Derksen said,

    April 10, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Re: #97. I have to suppose that Terry is referring to the “hidden” hyper-Calvinism that has caused every orthodox NARAPC church that had carefully studied the FV to subsequently and forcefully reject it (in the case of the PCA by 95%+ of its ministers).

    For my part, I think we have a very clear winner (if that’s the right word) here. That is, I believe that Rev./theologian Keister, Rev./theologian DePace, and lay-theologian extraordinaire Henzel have more than amply demonstrated to any reasonable observer of this debate that their understanding of LGD and IAOC is certainly the historical, orthodox Reformed, and, most importantly, biblical one. Thanks guys. I learned a lot.

    A brave attempt nonetheless, FVers and sympathizers.

    (Like Terry promised, this is also “the last thing I will say on this discussion.”)

  99. Mason said,

    April 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Rev Keister @ #94 –

    Very well said. It has amazed me that time and again people have completely dodged and/or mis-represented your pain point throughout this discussion. Doug Wilson himself doesn’t deal with your core argument at all. He re-iterates that he believes in sola fide, but doesn’t interact with you on the implications of the LGD as it relates to justification. I’m hoping someone who disagrees with you will actually take time to argue against what you actually wrote.

  100. April 10, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Just curious, Terry, where do you go to church?

  101. Ron Henzel said,

    April 10, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Terry,

    In comment 96, you wrote;

    With all due respect what you are arguing for is simply hyper-calvinism. To deny duty faith is a mark of hyper-calvinism.

    This is false. Nowhere did I deny the universal duty of sinners to believe. You are clearly confusing the universal call to sinners to repent and believe (the denial of which is the true hallmark of Hyper-Calvinism) with the concept of faith as the performance of a duty, which makes it effectively a work.

    You wrote:

    That which Christ did does not in the least benefit us unless we become one with him and he dwell in us. This we receive by faith. This is what Calvin said.

    And nowhere did I write anything inconsistent with or contradictory to this. But receiving Christ’s benefits through the empty hands of faith (which is what Calvin meant) is the functional opposite of performing faith as a duty so that we can have Christ’s benefits. Why can’t you see that in the latter instance you have transformed faith into a work?

    You wrote:

    Calvin also said this work was done for the whole human race but is not received indiscriminately by all but is the efficacy of the Spirit that causes us to enjoy the blessings of Christ. In the link below u can see the exact quote. I’m typing this from my Droid and cannot copy and paste the text.
    http://reformedchristianmuse.wordpress.com/2007/05/08/worth-quoting-john-calvin-on-how-we-recieve-the-benefit-of-christs-work/

    It’s a great quote. I especially like the place where he referred to the “secret efficacy of the Spirit, to which it is owing that we enjoy Christ and all his blessings,” (Institutes 3.1.1.; Battles 1:537) since I am sure that he would include justification as one of all Christ’s benefits. After all, just a few pages later he even wrote, “But faith is the principal work of the Holy Spirit” (Institutes 3.1.4.; Battles 1:541). That he is referring to justifying faith is obvious, since a little earlier he wrote, “By his secret watering the Spirit makes us fruitful to bring forth the buds of righteousness” (Institutes 3.1.3.; Battles 1:540). It seems to me that Calvin’s emphasis on faith as a gift of the Spirit combined with the way he makes the largest possible distinction between faith and works makes it difficult to see him countenancing the notion that faith-as-the-performance-of-duty could be the instrumental means of justification.

    Faith is certainly and act of our will and it is also a performance of duty because it is a response and compliance with a divine command to believe the Gospel. To deny this is to move from historic mainstream Calvinism into hyper-calvinism.

    This is complete and utter nonsense. You clearly do not know what Hyper-Calvinism is. (Cf. Peter Toon, “Hyper-Calvinism,” in Ferguson, Wright, and Packer, eds., New Dictionary of Theology, [Downers Grove, IL, USA and Leicester, UK: InterVarsity Press, 1988], 324-325.) There’s no question that faith is an act of our will, but the notion of justifying faith being the performance of a duty is uniformly denied by all mainstream Calvinistic theologians.

    Nor have you provided anything from Calvin to support this “performance of a duty” thesis. If there were any place we would expect to find it, it would be in his discussion of the “order of justification”:

    Indeed, it [Scripture] presents this order of justification: to begin with, God deigns to embrace the sinner with his pure and freely given goodness, finding nothing in him except his miserable condition to prompt Him to mercy, since he sees man utterly void and bare of good works; and so he seeks in himself the reason to benefit man. Then God touches the sinner with a sense of his goodness in order that he, despairing of his own works, may ground the whole of his salvation in God’s mercy. This is the experience of faith through which the sinner comes into possession of his salvation when from the teaching of the gospel he acknowledges that he has been reconciled to God: that with Christ’s righteousness interceding and forgiveness of sins accomplished he is justified. And although regenerated by the Spirit of God, he ponders the everlasting righteousness laid up for him not in the good works to which he inclines but in the sole righteousness of Christ. When these things are pondered one by one, they will give a clear explanation of our opinion.

    [Institutes 3.11.16.; Battles 1:746.]

    You wrote:

    But just because it is a duty does not therefore make it meritorious. To argue that is a non-sequitur.

    On the contrary, not only is it not a non sequitur to say that when the performance of a duty secures a reward it is because their was merit in it, it is a non sequitur to deny it.

    You wrote:

    Faith can be both a duty and still simply instrumental because justify faith does not look to itself but rather looks to Christ and his work alone as that which is pleaseing to God and that which is need to be justified before God.

    Francis Turretin didn’t seem to think so. He would say that your problem is that you’re understanding faith “absolutely and according to its nature and essence.” When looked at that way, there is no way to deny that is a “righteousness or obedience of the law,” because it is in that sense that it is “commanded by the law.” Turretin argues that faith in its justifying role must be understood in the “relatively and instrumentally,” making it consistent with the grace of God “for which nothing but a reception is required, which is the proper action of faith.” He would say that you’re trying to combine two mutually exclusive senses of “faith” (IET 12.3.11; 2:187). In other words, faith as the performance of a duty is an active thing, while justifying faith is purely passive in nature—i.e., passive in its role justification (just to be clear!). In the event of being justified by faith, we do not “perform a duty,” but we receive the One (Christ) Who performed in our place all the duties we failed to perform, and then went beyond that to pay for those failures.

    You wrote:

    So, I totally agree that faith as a performance of duty cannot justify. That’s the essence of my point.

    OK, this is a good thing, and I don’t want to detract anything from it! I am very glad you wrote this, and it goes a long way toward potentially resolving this issue.

    But the context of this discussion has been justifying faith throughout this whole discussion, so your “total agreement” here—as welcome as it is—doesn’t quite explain why you are arguing so persistently that we should view faith as duty-performance in the context of justification. Frankly, I think you’re just being enormously inconsistent. Especially when you continue as follows:

    But to try and save justification from being by obedience by denying that faith is a performance of duty is simply absurd and not even necessary. Its unnecessary because justifying faith doesn’t look to itself as a performance of duty, i.e. a compliance with the command of God to believe on his Son as something that could possibly merit anything from God but rather recognizes that it is only in Christ alone that justification and righteousness is found.

    So you’re essentially arguing that even though justifying faith is the performance of a duty, because it doesn’t consider itself in that light (or perhaps more accurately, because the believer doesn’t consider his justifying faith in that light), that therefore it’s OK to say that this “compliance with the command of God” (because that’s what you’re saying faith is) is the instrumental means of justification.

    And you don’t see anything wrong with this picture?

    You wrote:

    So, I agree with both you and Reed, this conversation is not going to advance but it because its you guys that are moving from historic Calvinism to hyper-calvinism. So, I’ve enjoyed the discussion but I think at this point we will simply have to disagree.

    You really need to bone up on your theological terms. Especially when you embarrass yourself in comment 97 by writing:

    I have suspected for a long time that the hostility toward the FV guys is coming from the hidden hyper-calvinism that is embedded in modern reformed churches. Especially in the pop culture Calvinism and the popular personalities that are taking it upon themselves to defend the “Reformed Tradition” as they see it.

    You don’t even need to invest in a theological dictionary to discover how far off your definition of Hyper-Calvinism is. For a few bucks you can pick up Murray’s Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, where he encapsulated it in his preface:

    But does the denial of Arminianism mean that God has no love for all? that Christ is not to be proclaimed as the Saviour in whom all are called to trust? Does the particularity of grace mean that there can be no universal entreaties, no gospel for ‘every creature’? Hyper-Calvinism answers ‘Yes’ to these questions and in so doing constitutes a serious hindrance to the progress of the evangel.

    [Ian H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching, (Edinburgh, UK and Carlisle, PA, USA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995), xi.-xii.]

    None of us who oppose the Federal Vision here have provided even the slightest hint that we hold to Hyper-Calvinism. It’s one thing to disagree with us, but quite another thing to try to label us with that slur. I don’t know anyone here who does not believe in preaching the gospel to every sinner, and that there is biblical warrant for making the entreaty to trust in Christ to all. You really owe us an apology.

  102. Ron Henzel said,

    April 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Phil,

    Regarding comment 98: your kindness in placing me on a par with the real luminaries on this blog is undeserved, but appreciated.

  103. Reed Here said,

    April 10, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Terry, no. 97: maybe you want to re-think who is doing the dodging. I’m a hyper-calvinist? You’re going away after that ridiculous statement?

    Thought I was speaking to someone who wanted to advance understanding. Very disappointing behavior Terry.

  104. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    A miscellany:

    Re #92

    Does the Bible contain texts that demand perfect obedience to God under threat of eternal curse, and other texts that promise the lifting of the curse in Christ for all who believe, or is that distinction merely in the perception of the readers?

    The texts say these different things, but the question is what is the overarching purpose of God. The terms of the CoW may be stated, but not as an actual covenant per se. Rather, they are subservient to the covenant as the pedagogue. So, if we read a law offering life for perfect obedience and respond: “Ah, see? I’m going to obey perfectly and thus merit that life,” then we have misread God’s purposes, God’s righteousness, and sought to establish our own. But if we read a law that does that and respond: “But I am already dead in sin, and I cannot obey perfectly and thus merit that life…what shall I do?” then we have read it correctly in the context of God’s covenantal dealings after the fall.

    Re #94:

    Just to be clear, I didn’t assert that I had somehow blown away your argument. I was just discussing and trying to clarify. Someone else characterized what I did as “demolition.”

  105. terry west said,

    April 12, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Ron,
    I retract the hyper-calvinism comment… you are right it was over the top. But to deny duty faith is a mark of hyper-calvinism but I am perfectly willing to acknowledge I miss understood why you have such a problem seeing faith as a performance of duty. And Reed, my apologies to you as well. But, to your question, Ron, no I do not see any inconsistency in acknowledging that faith, even the faith that justifies, being and act of our will, as a performance of duty or as a compliance with the command to believe the on Christ. For one I think it is simply absurd to deny that it is in some sense a performance of duty as an act of man’s will. It is certainly commanded/required by God is it not? So, yes it can be both a performance of duty and still remain simply and instrumental means because of what the man believing does, i.e. looks not at himself but to Christ alone. Simply asserting that there is an inconsistency does not make it so. And as far as I can see you have provided no good argument to say that justifying faith is not a performance of duty. I know you think you have to maintain that it can’t be because somehow that would make justification be founded on our duty, but this simply does not follow because it’s not our faith that is our righteousness but rather it is the righteousness of Christ that is imputed through the instrumental means of this faith. As long as the faith we excercise is not confused with that which actually justifies us, i.e. Christ, sola fide is preserved.

  106. terry west said,

    April 12, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Jason,
    I already stated this on another thread, but to answer your question, I recently left the ARP and am now visiting an Anglican Church. I affirm paedo-communion and am seeking an environment where my young children a allowed to partake. But I am thoroughly Calvinistic and Reformed. But I am no longer a high calvinist or in other words I hold to a dual intent in the atonement. I also hold to a higher view of the sacraments than some of you guys do as well. Even through I would consider myself perfectly in line with Calvin on this issue paedo-communion being excepted obviously.

  107. terry west said,

    April 12, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Ron,
    One more point. I just read through your last comment again and I would say that I would agree with Turretin’s intent but not his argument. Faith is an act of the will and it is clearly a performance of duty. Scripture I believe is clear on this. But, I would agree that what that justifying faith does is “passive” in the sense that it receives that which Christ gives. But, even this is a compliance with God’s command in the Gospel. And is still an act of the will and performance of duty. It is the condition of the covenant of grace that must be met if we are to benefit in the least from the work Christ did for the whole human race. As Shedd argued, all legal obstacles have been removed. There is only one condition to be met to possess the benefit of Christ’s work on our behalf, faith.

  108. terry west said,

    April 12, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Ron,
    Just to bring this full circle and tie it back to the unfortunate, on my part, hyper-calvinism comment. I believe what happens is if we are not willing to acknowledge that faith is a duty, even justifying faith, and we emphasize to much the passive aspect then we end up with the hyper-calvinistic notion that faith cannot be a duty. That it is not commanded of all men and that therefore the elect are totally passive in salvation. Which leads to no sincere offer in the Gospel to all men, etc. But, again I do apologize for the hyper-calvinism slam directed towards you and Reed as well.

  109. terry west said,

    April 12, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Ron,
    I have been thinking some about this issue. Let me see if you and can agree on this. Faith is active (act of the will/performance of duty) in the sense that by it the man lays hold on the promises of God in Christ, but is passive in the sense that it as an act of the will/performance of duty contributes nothing to our justification i.e. merits nothing for it recieves on that which has merit, i.e. Christ alone and his righteousness. The fact that faith as an act of the will in compliance with God’s command in the Gospel (and a compliance with the command in the Gospel is by definition a performance of duty) does not make faith a meritorious work. Unless the act of the will itself is understood as meritorious but this simply does not follow because not all acts of the will are necessarily meritorious acts, even when they are a performance of duty. Especially when this act is a condition of the new covenant and/or the covenant of grace.

  110. terry west said,

    April 12, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Ron,
    I should probably quit while I’m ahead but I’ve been thinking some more about why there is such a fear about acknowledging faith for what it is, i.e. an act if the will and thus a performance of duty in compliance with the command of God. I think the problem is with the introduction of the covenant of works as a notion that man can actually truly merit anything from God. Especially fallen sinful man. Lets think this through from the garden. It would seem that the first time man got the notion that he could merit anything by the act of his own will was when he believed the lie of the serpent and thought by acting and taking that which he had no right to he could gain more than what was graciously given by his own efforts, i.e. earn it for himself and sinned against his gracious Creator who had freely given him all that he had. But, if Adam would have believed God he would have remained under God’s favor and many more gifts of grace would hand been given to Adam and his posterity. Now we certainly can not merit anything from God now in light of the fact that we are fallen wicked creatures at war with our Creator. So if no act of the will of man or any performance of duty can ever truly merit or earn God’s favor or gifts then certainly justifying faith as a compliance with the command of God by its very definition could not possibly ever be a meritorious act or earn justification, because by it the sinful man looks to the only one in whom righteousness can be found and thus received freely as a gift of grace. A meer act of the will does not entail infusion of righteousness, unless one is assuming something that has been unnecessarily added, i.e. the idea of the covenant of works in which it is supposed that man could truly merit or earn eternal life by is own acts of will. The issue in the reformation was the difference between infused righteousness and imputed righteousness. Faith as an act if the will and/or performance of duty does not entail infusion of righteousness, and is completely compatible with the Biblical doctrine of imputed righteousness unless one is assuming that performance of duty automatically entails merit. So, to solve the problem all we need to do instead of trying to haggle over fine distinctions that cause us go beyond Scripture in an attempt to preserve that which truly needs to be preserved, i.e. sola fide, lets just get rid of the unnecessary and faulty bit of reasoning called the covenant if works. Lets just recognize that someone of the second generation reformers missed on this and be willing to correct this part of the reformed tradition that has been perpetuated down to today by some very well meaning but, after all, fallible men. Well, that’s my opinion. Just thinking out loud.

  111. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Terry: thank you, apology accepted, issue forgotten.

    You are being consisten in your last comment. The ordinary trajectory for those who take your position is to next deny the notion of merit. You pretty much ahve to for consistency of the argument’s sake.

    One question, was merit (in any form) present or not present in the Tree of Good/Evil test?

    Suggestion, don’t let yourself get gripped with an over absolutized perspective. There is strict merit as between equals, and there is conditional merit as between superiors and inferiors.

    As to the latter, e.g., when I tell my son, “do so and so and I will give you X,” this is not strict merit. It is a form of merit nevertheless.

  112. Ron Henzel said,

    April 14, 2010 at 6:27 am

    Terry,

    Regarding your comments 105 and 107-110: a sudden rush of obligations came upon me and has kept me from responding until now. Even so, I’m still in the thick of things and I’m just taking a moment to check in here.

    First of all, thank you for retracting the Hyper Calvinism charge. I also accept your apology and am eager to forget about it and move on.

    I’m still treading water with various responsibilities, and so I haven’t had the opportunity to give your comments the attention they deserve. So for now I’d like to raffirm my appreaciation of your affirmation in comment 96:

    So, I totally agree that faith as a performance of duty cannot justify. That’s the essence of my point.

    And what an important point this is! Thanks.

  113. Brandon Davis said,

    April 15, 2010 at 12:25 am

    I think it is more interesting that Wilson took Turretin out of context in his original comment on his blog than that he presumes to grade his opponents. Check it out in Turretin’s Institutes.


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