It is a reasonable question, especially of those engaging in theological novelty and innovation:
“So, I ask the question again: what benefits do reprobates members of the visible church receive, and what do they lose when they apostatize, and how are these benefits the same and different from those received by the elect?”
The FV proposes that the reprobate Church member (RCM) possess a real experience of Christ and his salvific benefits. To be fair, they propose:
An experience of Christ and his benefits that is real, originating in the work of the Spirit, and
- An experience of Christ and his benefits that parallels those benefits experienced by elect Church members (ECM), but
- An experience of Christ and his benefits that is not the same as that experienced by ECM, in that,
- The experience of the RCM is temporary, whereas the experience of the ECM is permanent.
Admittedly there are additional differences noted by different FV advocates (the spectrum seems to run from Wilson on the moderate end, to Wilkins in the middle, to Jordon on the extreme end). Yet this summary is the minimal that can be summarized with a reasonable expectation that no cries of “foul” will be heard from the FV.
This summary is not sufficient to relieve those of us opposed to the FV of our case of the willies. It could be that we “anti’s” are misunderstanding, overreacting, maybe even deliberately misrepresenting the positions of FV advocates. Or it could be that FV advocates are less than clear. My efforts at listening to the FV lead me to conclude that the problem is a matter of equivocation. FV advocates continually use the same words to mean different things – without distinguishing or (apparently) even recognizing the problem.
Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, we can move past this dilemma by putting effort into answering the question asked at the beginning of this post. A place to start is with reference to the differences between Justifying Faith (JF) and Temporary Faith (TF).
Turretin offers a substantial explanation of the differences between JF and TF (15th Topic, 15th Question, pgs. 587-593, Vol. 2, Elentics, P&R, 1994). In this post I want to summarize Turretin’s key conclusion. The following two posts will offer a summary of Turretin’s arguments.
Turretin was writing in opposition to the Remonstrants. The Remonstrants affirmed a TF that was the same as JF except in one quality only, that of duration. According to the Remonstrants, the key difference between JF and TF is that JF includes the grace of perseverance and TF does not. I am not trying to be provocative when I observe that this is the same description offered by the FV.
If you’re familiar with Turretin’s format, you know that he introduces each subject by asking a question and then giving an answer that summarizes his conclusion. Here is Turretin’s introduction to this subject: “Does temporary faith differ only in degree and duration, or also in kind from justifying faith? The former we deny; the latter we affirm against the Remonstrants.”
To be clear, Turretin says that the Bible teaches that the JF and TF are not the same at all. The differences between TF and JF are not like the differences between dogs and cats. These differences are more like the differences between a counterfeit $100 bill and a real one. They have some things in common (both are printed on paper, and are used to purchase things). Yet, to use Turretin’s terminology, these are not two different types of the same kind; they are two different kinds altogether. The differences between JF and TF are as dramatic as well.
Posted by Reed DePace