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The Pilgrims Progress discuss Sonship in the The Christian Walk forums; Can someone define/describe what 'sonship' is and the good points/problems with it?...

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    Romans922's Avatar
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    Sonship

    Can someone define/describe what 'sonship' is and the good points/problems with it?
    Elder Andrew Barnes (PCA)
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    The Sonship course is sort of an introspective study in grace. PCA pastor and missionary Jack Miller put it together and World Harvest Mission (a Presby missions group I believe) uses it.

    SOme of its foci: Not living as orphans but as sons. In other words, we verbalize salvation by grace, but we base our happiness and our feelings of "Elect-edness" on our performance. If we have a bad day we think God hates us; a good day means that God loves us. The Sonship course buries these myths and stresses God's love for His children and how we should live in that grace. We are sons of God.

    Key readings would be Luther's preface to his commentary on Galatians.


    I am sure someone here will find areas to critique Sonship, but overall it is a good study into one's personal patterns. It is edifying and causes one to look inward at how they live out the graceof God in their life. Us "reformed" folks like to dot theological eyes, but to look inward at motivations and feelings (ohhh....) is a little harder for us.


    I have listened to Jack Miller's tapes and read his wife's book and overall I think it is very good stuff, and very practical too.
    Pergamum


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    They are trying to create a "higher Christian life" within a Reformed context. So they believe that most Christians have all sorts of psychological hangups because they don't understand that they have been "adopted" into the family of God. They are "orphan" Christians who need to experience "sonship" to have a good self-esteem.

    People in this movement talk in slogans about how you ought to "preach the gospel to yourself" and whatnot. They overemphasize the doctrine of adoption to the extent that they wind up downplaying imputation. They give easy answers to hard questions. It isn't necessarily heretical, but it isn't very helpful, either. John Owen on sin and temptation deals with the same problems Sonship wants to fix, without the buzzwords.
    Chris Stamper
    Park Cities PCA
    (Dallas, TX)

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    Yes, Jack Miller was fond of saying, "Preach the Gospel to yourself daily."


    What's wrong with that?



    I have never heard any downplaying of imputation. And what's wrong with phrasing things smartly so that people remember it?

    It has seemed helpful to many people; and within the bounds of good doctrine. Are we not loved by God, or are we?
    Pergamum


    "If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    Yes, Jack Miller was fond of saying, "Preach the Gospel to yourself daily."
    What's wrong with that?
    It's too glib. The Bible tells us to "pray without ceasing." There's a subtle difference from having a conversation with yourself. Besides, we have Word and Sacrament ordained as means of grace to present the Gospel to us.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    I have never heard any downplaying of imputation. And what's wrong with phrasing things smartly so that people remember it?
    It is the same error of technique that shows up time and again in Evanglicalism. Everybody has personal issues -- and they don't go away if you throw proof texts at them. Sanctification depends on operations of the Holy Spirit, who is not bound to our agendas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    It has seemed helpful to many people;
    Well, they force-feed this stuff to missionaries.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    and within the bounds of good doctrine...
    we not loved by God, or are we?
    Sure. My concern is that sanctification is not based on reminding yourself of your adoption.
    Chris Stamper
    Park Cities PCA
    (Dallas, TX)

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    Gentlemen,

    I suppose it depends a good deal what one’s sources of knowledge are concerning this matter. One may hear (or read) a poor teacher on “Sonship”, or hear from an objector to the teaching, and have one’s views strongly affected, negatively.

    Jay E. Adams wrote a booklet critiquing the movement/doctrine – called Biblical Sonship – and then Ed Welch wrote a gentle and warm response to Adams, but strongly defending Sonship, which was distributed to CCEF faculty and a few others. Adams is sort of their grandfather, from whence they sprung, and they love him.

    Those who know the materials that come out of CCEF know that a good bit of it is profoundly informed by the Sonship view of the Gospel. Two areas (among many others) involve the concept of “idols of the heart”, and the expulsion of these “lesser loves” by the power of a greater love. There is also an examination of this “modern” idolatry and how it affects what drives/motivates us, as in “what is the sin underneath the sins” we seem to persist in and have great difficulty mastering? I have seen the Sonship awareness bring light into dark regions of the heart, leading souls to genuine and healthy holiness. I rarely use the word “Sonship,” as it is simply the Gospel.

    Another area is summed up in this brief meditation:

    Galatians 3:3 -- After beginning with the Spirit,
    are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?


    Christians will always drift back toward a legalistic view of salvation. It starts subtly: our spiritual fervor, or devotion, or ministry involvement, or consistency, or new-found obedience really are signs of our Christian vitality. Before long, however, we begin to think of them more and more as the cause of our vitality.

    Being right with God slowly drifts from grace alone to grace plus achieving this standard. At this point, Paul tells us we have created a false gospel, a gospel of law rather than grace. The same grace that began our relationship with Jesus is what keeps us in that relationship. "Lay your deadly doings down, down at Jesus' feet; / Rest in Him, and Him alone, gloriously complete."

    From lesson Three -- In Line With the Gospel (Study: "A Community Which Serves God's Purposes"). Redeemer PCA, NYC

    In other words, in answer to this statement, “My concern is that sanctification is not based on reminding yourself of your adoption”, I would say sanctification is vitally connected to justification, which is a component of adoption. Even when I was an enemy, ungodly and a wretch, Christ loved me and called me to Himself with an irresistible love. He loves me not one whit less today than He did some 40 years ago when He first revealed Himself to me (in the midst of my vigorously arguing against the person bearing witness to Him!), and it is this grace first revealed when He justified me before the Father that is even today a mighty factor in my ongoing sanctification.

    In the mornings, when, with my coffee and Bible, I seek His face and the intimacy of His heart, I am not deterred by the coldness and sluggishness of my own heart, nor by my poor performance in one area or another, neither by my knowledge of strong corruption within me, for I know His heart me-ward, and I remind myself – preach to myself, if you will – of His steadfast love:

    Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. (Ps 42:5)

    And I recall, sometimes on a field of spiritual battle, sometimes in a pit of devastating failure, sometimes in a fiery furnace of testing, “I am a beloved son, adopted into a royal family, clothed in a priceless garment made by the Son of God, cleansed in the very fountain of eternal life (Zech 13:1), and it is well with my soul! Nothing can separate me from Father’s love, for I am in His Beloved.”

    When in Africa, encouraging my class of 40 men who were bound to shortly return to their villages (mostly in South Sudan) and likely opposition, and in some cases possible death, I would talk to them about how they looked in the eyes of angels – and the eyes of those in Heaven if those were given to see them – that they were royalty, not merely the simple villagers others, or even themselves, might look upon them as, but younger brothers of the Lord Christ, of whom the world is not worthy, and children of the great God, the Almighty Father, who from an eternal love of them adopted them to Himself in Christ Jesus. “Remember,” I would tell them, “remember who you are, Whose you are!”

    I, and many I come into contact with, have great need for sustaining power in tribulation, and this “Sonship” awareness of intimate fellowship with the God who gave His only Son for me braces my soul to stand in the evil day.

    …the young King, He who is so glorious in majesty that the angels shield their eyes….leads His people into the fray against the powers of darkness – they having learned that the “jaws of death” are sometimes the bite of exquisite pleasure – and turn from the allurement of the world’s fair beauties to gaze, if but fleetingly, upon the smiling face of Him who flung forth the billions of galaxies, and the Creator of all this earth’s pleasures; His smiling approval is a beauty that satisfies the heart and steels the nerves; men and women both will walk through fire for His love. [from, “Battlefield of Beauty”]

    I suppose anything with a label given by men may be brought under suspicion (look, even “Presbyterian” is disparaged by some!), and sometimes rightly. But the gospel in its purity never – not in truth – and I see this teaching as the gospel, plain and simple.
    Steve Rafalsky
    Member, Queens Presbyterian Church, Astoria (PCA)
    Queens, New York
    USA

    "I am set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17)

    "Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious
    power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness...
    " (Colossians 1:11)

    Jerusalem Blade's PB Blog; Collected Textual Posts, Eschatology, and Misc.
    Lightning Sword: Journal of the Apokalypse
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    Archlute's Avatar
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    Chris's statements are really quite unfounded, and are a good reason why it is always better to read something for yourself, rather than to take someone's critique of it at face value. Miller's writings do have a definite piety to them that make the more intellectual and objective types within Reformed circles uncomfortable, and therefore to "pooh-pooh" them, but the substance of his writings are usually not very thoughtfully dealt with by his opponents. This goes for Chad Van Dixhoorn's attempt to critique Sonship in his WTJ essay as well, where not only does he not fairly represent, nor really seem to understand, the theology of Jack Miller, but also gives a one-sided interpretation of the WCF on the issue, ignoring significant statements therein which both simultaneously uphold Miller's theology and undercut his own critique.

    Sonship is not an attempt to create a "higher-life" movement within Reformed circles, but is indeed a helpful paradigm in Christian discipleship that places a renewed focus upon God's grace, and His benefits to us in our salvation, for dealing with the inevitable difficulties and setbacks that arise in the Christian walk. I have found the summary of "sanctification by faith" to be an edifying and thought provoking way of looking at the whole in summary fashion.

    That is the basic message of Sonship; that not only are we justified by faith alone, we are also to progress in our sanctification by that faith, and to strengthen it by our knowledge of who we are in Christ.

    Anyone who has a problem with that, has a basic problem with understanding the message of the Scriptures on the Christian life.
    Archlute

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerusalem Blade View Post
    Gentlemen,

    I suppose it depends a good deal what one’s sources of knowledge are concerning this matter. One may hear (or read) a poor teacher on “Sonship”, or hear from an objector to the teaching, and have one’s views strongly affected, negatively.

    Jay E. Adams wrote a booklet critiquing the movement/doctrine – called Biblical Sonship – and then Ed Welch wrote a gentle and warm response to Adams, but strongly defending Sonship, which was distributed to CCEF faculty and a few others. Adams is sort of their grandfather, from whence they sprung, and they love him.

    Those who know the materials that come out of CCEF know that a good bit of it is profoundly informed by the Sonship view of the Gospel. Two areas (among many others) involve the concept of “idols of the heart”, and the expulsion of these “lesser loves” by the power of a greater love. There is also an examination of this “modern” idolatry and how it affects what drives/motivates us, as in “what is the sin underneath the sins” we seem to persist in and have great difficulty mastering? I have seen the Sonship awareness bring light into dark regions of the heart, leading souls to genuine and healthy holiness. I rarely use the word “Sonship,” as it is simply the Gospel.

    Another area is summed up in this brief meditation:

    Galatians 3:3 -- After beginning with the Spirit,
    are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?


    Christians will always drift back toward a legalistic view of salvation. It starts subtly: our spiritual fervor, or devotion, or ministry involvement, or consistency, or new-found obedience really are signs of our Christian vitality. Before long, however, we begin to think of them more and more as the cause of our vitality.

    Being right with God slowly drifts from grace alone to grace plus achieving this standard. At this point, Paul tells us we have created a false gospel, a gospel of law rather than grace. The same grace that began our relationship with Jesus is what keeps us in that relationship. "Lay your deadly doings down, down at Jesus' feet; / Rest in Him, and Him alone, gloriously complete."

    From lesson Three -- In Line With the Gospel (Study: "A Community Which Serves God's Purposes"). Redeemer PCA, NYC

    In other words, in answer to this statement, “My concern is that sanctification is not based on reminding yourself of your adoption”, I would say sanctification is vitally connected to justification, which is a component of adoption. Even when I was an enemy, ungodly and a wretch, Christ loved me and called me to Himself with an irresistible love. He loves me not one whit less today than He did some 40 years ago when He first revealed Himself to me (in the midst of my vigorously arguing against the person bearing witness to Him!), and it is this grace first revealed when He justified me before the Father that is even today a mighty factor in my ongoing sanctification.

    In the mornings, when, with my coffee and Bible, I seek His face and the intimacy of His heart, I am not deterred by the coldness and sluggishness of my own heart, nor by my poor performance in one area or another, neither by my knowledge of strong corruption within me, for I know His heart me-ward, and I remind myself – preach to myself, if you will – of His steadfast love:

    Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. (Ps 42:5)

    And I recall, sometimes on a field of spiritual battle, sometimes in a pit of devastating failure, sometimes in a fiery furnace of testing, “I am a beloved son, adopted into a royal family, clothed in a priceless garment made by the Son of God, cleansed in the very fountain of eternal life (Zech 13:1), and it is well with my soul! Nothing can separate me from Father’s love, for I am in His Beloved.”

    When in Africa, encouraging my class of 40 men who were bound to shortly return to their villages (mostly in South Sudan) and likely opposition, and in some cases possible death, I would talk to them about how they looked in the eyes of angels – and the eyes of those in Heaven if those were given to see them – that they were royalty, not merely the simple villagers others, or even themselves, might look upon them as, but younger brothers of the Lord Christ, of whom the world is not worthy, and children of the great God, the Almighty Father, who from an eternal love of them adopted them to Himself in Christ Jesus. “Remember,” I would tell them, “remember who you are, Whose you are!”

    I, and many I come into contact with, have great need for sustaining power in tribulation, and this “Sonship” awareness of intimate fellowship with the God who gave His only Son for me braces my soul to stand in the evil day.

    …the young King, He who is so glorious in majesty that the angels shield their eyes….leads His people into the fray against the powers of darkness – they having learned that the “jaws of death” are sometimes the bite of exquisite pleasure – and turn from the allurement of the world’s fair beauties to gaze, if but fleetingly, upon the smiling face of Him who flung forth the billions of galaxies, and the Creator of all this earth’s pleasures; His smiling approval is a beauty that satisfies the heart and steels the nerves; men and women both will walk through fire for His love. [from, “Battlefield of Beauty”]

    I suppose anything with a label given by men may be brought under suspicion (look, even “Presbyterian” is disparaged by some!), and sometimes rightly. But the gospel in its purity never – not in truth – and I see this teaching as the gospel, plain and simple.




    Great post, Steve. You have enunciated much of what I was getting at - we were just apparently writing our posts at the same time.
    Archlute

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    I went through the course some years back, and benefited from it, although I heard some criticisms of it that may have been valid in certain cases.

    One part of the teaching is that in the verse...
    Gal 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
    ...you can replace the words circumcision and uncircumcision with anything. The Elder teaching the class, who felt I was a tad too strident (and maybe was) about being Reformed, asked me if I thought you could say, "Neither being Reformed nor not being Reformed counts for anything...". My reply was to ask if he thought we could say, "Neither being Christian nor not being Christian counts for anything...". He said, "Well, no.", to which I replied, "some of us consider those two statements to mean the same thing.". He was not pleased.
    Brad

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    Sonship uses artificial categories of "orphan Christian" and "adopted Christian." This bifurcation does not exist. Scripture knows nothing of it.

    I am concerned that those who find this stuff compelling have missed something fundamental about the Reformed Faith. If one was legalistic enough to find it liberating, then there is a theological problem. There are basic questions that Calvinism answers:

    What are we saved from?
    How are we saved?
    What are we saved into?

    We have catechism for this. We have 450 years of Reformed teaching on these matters. We have 52 Lord's Days a year on this. When the orphan/adopted dichotomy sounds good, something is wrong.
    Chris Stamper
    Park Cities PCA
    (Dallas, TX)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerusalem Blade View Post
    There is also an examination of this “modern” idolatry and how it affects what drives/motivates us, as in “what is the sin underneath the sins” we seem to persist in and have great difficulty mastering?
    This is introspective, moralistic and morose. You will drive yourself nuts that way. That's too much "experiential" and not enough "Calvinist."

    Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here in this world we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness. 

    Peter says we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. 

    No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small?
    Chris Stamper
    Park Cities PCA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archlute View Post
    Sonship is not an attempt to create a "higher-life" movement within Reformed circles
    The analogy fits. The artificial dichotomy of "orphan Christian" and "adopted Christian" is nowhere found in Scripture. It originated with Jack Miller.
    Chris Stamper
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerusalem Blade View Post
    Two areas (among many others) involve the concept of “idols of the heart”, and the expulsion of these “lesser loves” by the power of a greater love.
    These categories do not exist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerusalem Blade View Post
    Christians will always drift back toward a legalistic view of salvation. It starts subtly: our spiritual fervor... or new-found obedience really are signs of our Christian vitality.
    What? If obedience is obedience, it cannot be legalism. It just can't. While even our good works are affected by sin, others cannot judge another's obedience as legalism.
    Chris Stamper
    Park Cities PCA
    (Dallas, TX)

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    Quote Originally Posted by clstamper View Post
    That's too much "experiential" and not enough "Calvinist."
    Spend some time actually reading Augustine, Luther, and Calvin and you will find plenty of experiential faith within their works - it's part of being human. Christians (even Calvinist Christians) live with emotions, fears, struggles, setbacks, joys, discoveries of the faith, you name it. If one is to assume a view that seeks to overcome those realities by denying them, than that one has just adopted a docetic view of the Christian life that seeks to eliminate our human experience by focusing exclusively upon the divine promises. We are the church militant, the pilgrim people living out a theology of the cross. Human frailty is a reality with which we contend.

    Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here in this world we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness. 

    Peter says we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. 

    No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small?
    I understand your zeal in living out the freedom of the Christian life, but nowhere do I see apostolic encouragement to "sin boldly" and treat it with lightness. We are to live boldly in the grace of Christ, and fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil with an equal boldness.
    Last edited by Archlute; 10-26-2007 at 09:51 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by clstamper View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Archlute View Post
    Sonship is not an attempt to create a "higher-life" movement within Reformed circles
    The analogy fits. The artificial dichotomy of "orphan Christian" and "adopted Christian" is nowhere found in Scripture. It originated with Jack Miller.
    Be a theologian, not a biblicist. Their are many categories in theological parlance that are not found in Scripture. The observation made there is founded upon the reality that many Christians live in their thoughts according to a view of life and themselves which is severed from the reality of who they have become in Christ. There are any number of realities for the Christian life that have been set before us in Scripture of which, in truth, many Christians need to be reminded.
    Archlute
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    Quote Originally Posted by clstamper
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerusalem Blade View Post
    Christians will always drift back toward a legalistic view of salvation. It starts subtly: our spiritual fervor... or new-found obedience really are signs of our Christian vitality.
    What? If obedience is obedience, it cannot be legalism. It just can't. While even our good works are affected by sin, others cannot judge another's obedience as legalism.

    It is a matter of motives, not practice. You can be obedient out of a legalistic drive, or out of a foundation of grace leading to thankful and joyful service. There is a large difference between the two, although the duties are the same.
    Archlute

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerusalem Blade View Post
    In other words, in answer to this statement, “My concern is that sanctification is not based on reminding yourself of your adoption”, I would say sanctification is vitally connected to justification, which is a component of adoption.
    Big red lights go off here. Sirens too. Justification is not merely a component of adoption. Instead, adoption flows from justification.

    Both are legal acts. Adoption lets us call God "Abba," gives us the inward work of the Spirit and unites us with the Church. Packer calls it "the positive outworking of God's justifying sentence."

    Here's Hodge:

    "Justification [secures] a restoration to the favour and fellowship of God. We become the sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ. (Gal. 3:26.) No one can read the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans without being convinced that in Paul’s apprehension a justified believer is something more than a pardoned criminal.

    "He is a man whose salvation is secure because he is free from the law and all its demands; because the righteousness of the law... has been fulfilled him; because thereby he is so united to Christ as to become a partaker of his life; because no one can lay anything to the charge of those for whom Christ died and whom God has justified; and __because such believers being justified are revealed as the objects of the mysterious, immutable, and infinite love of God__." (emph. mine)
    Chris Stamper
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archlute View Post
    You can be obedient out of a legalistic drive, or out of a foundation of grace leading to thankful and joyful service. There is a large difference between the two, although the duties are the same.
    It doesn't matter. All our works are stained by sin. To strain the stain is itself legalism.
    Chris Stamper
    Park Cities PCA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archlute View Post
    Be a theologian, not a biblicist. Their are many categories in theological parlance that are not found in Scripture.
    If a teaching is not found in scripture or a consequence of it, it is not teaching. It is speculation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Archlute View Post
    The observation made there is founded upon the reality that many Christians live in their thoughts according to a view of life and themselves which is severed from the reality of who they have become in Christ.
    Are you serious? Personal experience, even the experience of the finest Christians, is not a test of religious truth. Sola scriptura, 1 Tim 3:16 and all that.

    What you describe is more extreme than Sonship. I sincerely doubt that World Harvest accepts that view.
    Chris Stamper
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archlute View Post
    I understand your zeal in living out the freedom of the Christian life, but nowhere do I see apostolic encouragement to "sin boldly" and treat it with lightness. We are to live boldly in the grace of Christ, and fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil with an equal boldness.
    The teaching is classic Martin Luther. I have the "Sin Boldly" motto on a beer bottle with his face on it. I am an experiential Calvinist, sure, but moralistic introspection is a ticket to the funny farm.

    Christ already defeated the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are free from the curse of the law. Hallelujah!
    Chris Stamper
    Park Cities PCA
    (Dallas, TX)

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    This has been a tremendous thread, and I've been edified by both sides. Here's hoping that cooler heads can prevail and this thread can be finished with Christian charity because I would like to see the conclusion of this one.
    Ryan Barnhart
    Husband to a beautiful wife, Father to two beautiful girls and one on the way
    4th year student at Whitefield Bible College - B.A. Bible
    2nd year student at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary - MDiv

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    Dude, you're just shooting from the hip, and wasting people's time. Specifically, you're wasting my time.

    The only thing that I will even bother to respond to is your assertions in post #19, since those became a personal challenge of orthodoxy. If you want to be snide with your "sola scriptura and all that" remarks, then why don't you sit yourself down in front of the Gospel of Mark for the evening (from which I happen to be preaching this week), and see just how much Scripture itself testifies to the struggles, fear, and setbacks of being human disciples who only slowly gain in our understanding of the knowledge of Christ, and who have to be constantly reminded of our position in him.

    Although the Scriptures are our final source of authority, and the only revelation of man's salvation, it is rather myopic of you to insist that no theological understanding can be drawn from our observations of creation and human nature outside of the Scriptures. In basic theological terminology, which only the most strident biblicist will refuse to accept, this is usually called "General Revelation".

    By your reasoning you just called the Apostle Paul into error, because he makes it clear that there are things that can be known about God from the natural order (in Romans 1:18ff, 1 Cor. 11:14, etc.). You practically just called John Calvin himself a heretic, because he opens his Institutes with the assertion that a knowledge of ourself is essential in gaining a knowledge of God, that our impoverished and miserable state leads us to look upward to Him and his perfections, and that our smitten consciences testify to our sin and fallen state, and consequently our need of a Savior. Merely read through the initial chapters of Book One of the Institutes.

    I have no idea who you are, or the reasons for your contentiousness, but if I were you I would sit myself down in Sunday school for a few weeks and learn a bit more of a posture of humility. Then when you have become teachable, go back and read the Scriptures and writings of Church history on this subject. They are of one mind that theological knowledge (although never perfect - for that matter, neither can our interpretations of Scripture be perfect), may be found through observation of self and creation, and this includes making deductions from our frail human experiences as we study the Scriptures.

    If you want to get confessional on this point, read the opening line of the WCF, which affirms the acquisition of theological knowledge (although not saving) from creation and providence, and the last phrase of 1.5 as well, which clearly states that our affirmation of the truth of Scripture comes not because it says that it is God's word, but through an experiential affirmation to our hearts by the internal working of the Holy Spirit.

    Then go back and read Calvin again. Then the Gospels. Then... You get my point.
    Last edited by Archlute; 10-27-2007 at 12:07 AM.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barnpreacher View Post
    This has been a tremendous thread, and I've been edified by both sides. Here's hoping that cooler heads can prevail and this thread can be finished with Christian charity because I would like to see the conclusion of this one.
    There is a time and a place for coolness, but the arguments above should be conclusive regardless.

    If all of church history were conducted w/o passion, it would make for a rather boring read, don't you think?

    (btw, passion is part of our, and of Christ's, humanity - don't get all docetic on me!)
    Archlute

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    CLSTAMPER:


    I agree with Archlute here. You definitely are shooting from the hip and wasting my time too.


    You are condemning Sonship and I would bet you have not even read of fraction of Jack Miller's material.

    You make broad sweeping generalizations. You quote some unhelpful info.


    For instance...

    "Sin boldly" emblazoned on your beer mug is, I am sure, quite a great witnessing tool.


    Introspection of what Christ is doing in your soul is vital. What does it mean to work out your salvation in fear and trembling after all?

    Much of the Christian life lies outside of learning your catechism. How do you mentally process disapointments in life? How do you handle those inner sins even when you can look holy on the outside?


    Also, "they" don't "force-feed missionaries" this stuff. Most of them eat voluntarily and love the stuff! Many I have seen have been profoundly blessed. It is an intense application of sound doctrine into one's personal life. Some Reformed like to live in the realm of the ivory tower, but Sonship forces them into the real world.

    If you do not bow down before idols of stone, but your life is devoted to things other than Christ that are hidden deep in the heart, you might do well to do a little introspection.



    Jerusalem's Blade assessment is right on, thanks for that most excellent response.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archlute View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Barnpreacher View Post
    This has been a tremendous thread, and I've been edified by both sides. Here's hoping that cooler heads can prevail and this thread can be finished with Christian charity because I would like to see the conclusion of this one.
    There is a time and a place for coolness, but the arguments above should be conclusive regardless.

    If all of church history were conducted w/o passion, it would make for a rather boring read, don't you think?

    (btw, passion is part of our, and of Christ's, humanity - don't get all docetic on me!)
    Adam,

    Forgive me for sounding overly-pious in my post. I think passion is a tremendous thing, and if you and clstamper wanted to literally duke it out in the ring I'd grab a box of popcorn and be on the front row.

    Seriously though, I was just hoping to glean some more from this thread before it came to an end. For the record, I agree with what you and Steve have been saying in this thread. I just wanted to hear more of where clstamper is coming from before things came to a halt.

    Blessings, bro.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post

    Introspection of what Christ is doing in your soul is vital. What does it mean to work out your salvation in fear and trembling after all?

    Much of the Christian life lies outside of learning your catechism. How do you mentally process disapointments in life? How do you handle those inner sins even when you can look holy on the outside?

    Jerusalem's Blade assessment is right on, thanks for that most excellent response.


    The verse that keeps popping back into my head throughout the course of this thread has been,

    Romans 6:11, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Though I don't know much about this specific teaching of "Sonship" this verse seems to fit what has been said about it.
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    Chris,
    For your information Jack Miller uses Luther's Commentary on Galatians extensively in his material. He is not teaching a "higher life" view of carnal/spiritual Christians; we experience both the feelings of "orphans" and "sons" in our relationship to God, because we still have indwelling sin - which this program never claims to eradicate. I don't think Miller is as precise as he might be in his terminology, and every teaching requires examination and balance with other teaching, but this isn't "higher life," believe me, I would know; I was steeped in that as a child.

    What really bothers me though, is your tone. There's no excuse for calling anyone's orthodoxy into question here, it's not done on this board unless someone says something truly outside the creeds and confessions, which neither Adam nor Pergamon have done. This is a good way to draw negative attention to yourself here.
    The man who is disposed to think of his sin as a great calamity, rather than as a heinous crime, is not likely either to reverence God or to respect His law. - John Kennedy, 1873
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barnpreacher View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Archlute View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Barnpreacher View Post
    This has been a tremendous thread, and I've been edified by both sides. Here's hoping that cooler heads can prevail and this thread can be finished with Christian charity because I would like to see the conclusion of this one.
    There is a time and a place for coolness, but the arguments above should be conclusive regardless.

    If all of church history were conducted w/o passion, it would make for a rather boring read, don't you think?

    (btw, passion is part of our, and of Christ's, humanity - don't get all docetic on me!)
    Adam,

    Forgive me for sounding overly-pious in my post. I think passion is a tremendous thing, and if you and clstamper wanted to literally duke it out in the ring I'd grab a box of popcorn and be on the front row.

    Seriously though, I was just hoping to glean some more from this thread before it came to an end. For the record, I agree with what you and Steve have been saying in this thread. I just wanted to hear more of where clstamper is coming from before things came to a halt.

    Blessings, bro.

    No problem, brother. Occasionally, when my flesh gets the better of me, I have considered that a weekly bout in the ring with some of the local house church guru's would be a refreshing way to end the week. Like I said, when my flesh gets the better of me. None of that is meant as a swipe at you, Chris.
    Archlute

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    Quote Originally Posted by Archlute View Post
    If you want to be snide with your "sola scriptura and all that" remarks...
    Well, legalism that calls itself "freedom" is still not a good thing. The Reformed church is supposed to clear out those things, not make up extra-scriptural categories as a man-made meter of spiritual progress.
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    Quote Originally Posted by turmeric View Post
    There's no excuse for calling anyone's orthodoxy into question here, it's not done on this board unless someone says something truly outside the creeds and confessions, which neither Adam nor Pergamon have done.
    You can't redefine justification as a function of adoption. You can't define Christian spirituality by your inner lights. That's truly outside the creeds and confessions.
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    I must admit this orphan Christian thing does sound a bit off the wall. Does Jack Miller really use those words? It would probably be more in line to think of it as unpleasing to God and pleasing to God. Our confidence or assurance is based upon this sometimes. I am leary of this orphaned thing. Especially if we have the promise that he will never leave us or forsake us. I would chalk up anything that made one feel orphaned as unbelief and besetting. And that is unpleasing to God also.

    Moderator stepping in here. Remember guys.

    (2Ti 2:24) And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

    (2Ti 2:25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;


    (2Ti 2:26) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
    Knowing that this is how we should treat others outside of the faith, I believe we should be more gentle and loving towards each other.

    (Gal 6:1) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

    (Gal 6:2) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

    (Gal 6:3) For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

    (Gal 6:4) But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

    (Gal 6:5) For every man shall bear his own burden.

    (Gal 6:6) Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

    (Gal 6:7) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

    (Gal 6:8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

    (Gal 6:9) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

    (Gal 6:10) As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    CLSTAMPER:


    You are condemning Sonship and I would bet you have not even read of fraction of Jack Miller's material.
    Where did Chris condemn Sonship? He affirmed it I thought when discussing it in relation to justification.

    He may have some problems with this kind of sonship teaching but I didn't see him condemn the biblical doctrine of sonship or adoption anywhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clstamper View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerusalem Blade View Post
    In other words, in answer to this statement, “My concern is that sanctification is not based on reminding yourself of your adoption”, I would say sanctification is vitally connected to justification, which is a component of adoption.
    Big red lights go off here. Sirens too. Justification is not merely a component of adoption. Instead, adoption flows from justification.
    Chris,

    What I had in mind was from Ephesians 1:3-6,

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

    According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

    Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

    To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

    Perhaps I used the wrong word – component – when saying Justification was an element (could that be better?) of Adoption. In eternity past God decreed we should be His beloved children He would adopt to Himself by placing us within Christ, this even before the foundation of the world. In this light (I realize there are other approaches to viewing these things) adoption is the all-inclusive category of the “spiritual blessings” He bestows upon us, within which the subsequent blessings – whereby He effects His gracious plan us-ward – are then implemented.

    I know most expositors of Ephesians list Election as the all-inclusive primary category of His blessings to us – and I agree with them – I vary from this only because I am here looking at the effect (toward ourselves) and not the cause (His decree).

    Is not the grand view of these things the fact that in uniting us to His Son He has adopted us into His eternal family, seating us with the Lord Christ in heavenly places, even to share the throne with Him? And from which we have intimate communion with the great God, even our Father?
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    Regarding “orphaned” Christians, there is no such thing! And yet, there is much teaching – false teaching, really – in many churches which posit that our acceptance with God is based on our performance. In Arminian – as well many Charismatic – churches your standing before God depends on the quality and quantity of the effort you put forth in various areas of your life. I deal with casualties from this paradigm regularly. These Christians (and some of them are genuine) feel orphaned due to a false view of their standing before Him.

    And who, even among the Reformed, does not struggle with this? In John 14:18 the Lord tells His disciples that He will not leave them “comfortless” (KJV); in others versions it is “orphans” (Greek: orphanos). We often may feel this way, but it is a delusion, for we are loved more than we can know.

    Is it that any new application of Gospel truth, to a new generation of lost sinners, will be termed “a novelty” and “not in the revered Confessions”? But if new applications of truth are in perfect accord with the biblical Gospel, leave them alone.

    In this postmodern age I often use imagery from the horror genres to get across to those who think themselves “beyond good and evil” the actuality of their condition – the human condition! Yet some would think my talking in terms of the living dead – zombies, vampires, werewolves – is alien to the salvation message. Who is in touch with the spirit of our age (the zeitgeist)? Can it not be seen, a growing affinity in the culture (movies, books, TV, etc) for the “undead”? And, truth be told, the unregenerate human condition is one of the profoundest horror. And the Lord may be seen in a new light for such desperate souls, a bringer of life in the realm of death. May it not be that speaking in ontologic rather than moral categories may reach souls hardened against the traditional gospel presentation?

    If Sonship re-presents Gospel truths without betraying them, but simply recasting them in thought-forms amenable to our generation, what is wrong with this?

    To be honest, I have not read any of Jack Miller’s stuff, though I have some books, and a Sonship workbook from World Harvest. I got what I know of it through many years of gospel preaching informed by it. I know it as the Gospel. Although I realize the pastor was deeply touched by the teaching. If in any particular I deviate from the Biblical Gospel, please let me know, and I will weigh it, and if I do err, will repent of it, for I am zealous to be found sound in my teaching by Him who will examine all who take upon themselves that office (James 3:1). But if my fresh applications of Biblical orthodoxy are sound, let me get about the business of seeking to “turn many to righteousness” (Dan 12:3), “and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18) unmolested.
    Steve Rafalsky
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    Sonship was discussed last year in a thread and Matt posted Chad Van Dixhoorn's article or a portion of it I think.
    Sonship Theology
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    How does sonship deal with Definitive and Progressive Sanctification?
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    I would say the same as the standard Reformed view. Per Hebrews 10:10, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.” And 10:14, “For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Christ’s perfection is imputed to those who are in Him.

    Eph 4:15, we “grow up into Him in all things”; Romans 12:2, we are “transformed by the renewing of [our] mind”; 1 Pet 2:2, we are encouraged to attend to the Word, that we may “grow thereby”; 2 Pet 3:18, we are enjoined to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”. And there are many other Scriptures which show that we progress in godliness, daily following Christ and denying our “fleshly” wills.
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  38. #38
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    Andrew,

    The problem with Sonship is the same problem with most issues. Namely, Miller saw a need (moralism trumping the doctrines of grace) and posited a helpful solution, which later supporters took and ran with to the exclusion of all else. The problem is one of emphasis. So churches that are heavily into Sonship now downplay pointed application in preaching, downplay the imperative over against the indicative, and often limit themselves to trite applications "cheer up, you're worse than you thought!" (which is true, but not the whole truth)

    The same (type) of criticism could be leveled at nouthetic counseling. This speaks why we must be balanced in our theology and try to fit everything into a "system" (or part of a system).

    In this line Sonship advocates tend to downplay (or ignore) progressive sanctification and bring definitive sanctification into every discussion. This is no more Biblical than it would be to focus solely on progressive sanctification to the exclusion of definitive sanctification.

    Do yourself a favor, make a lunch or breakfast appointment with Bebo to discuss this.
    Fred Greco
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    Thanks Fred, that is what I wanted to know.

    I am preaching at a church tomorrow where their former pastor was big into Sonship. And I am preaching a classic imperative from Paul!!! I hope God blesses them!

    Also, Continue to pray for the church in Tchula. I have been preaching there once a month and they are still looking for a Pastor. They have given up on some things in their worship (singing their Psalm and Doxology/Gloria Patri). Their piano player has been ill so they haven't done these things or become 'lazy' since about summer. Pray that God would raise the right man up for them.
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    People who support sonship seem to need to read John Owen.
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