A Short Credo on Justification: Douglas Wilson

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WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Thoughts or comments?

A Short Credo on Justification

Douglas Wilson

I believe that Jesus Christ was justified by God in His resurrection from the dead, being declared with power to be the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). He was justified in the Spirit (1 Tim. 3:16), vindicated by God, and exalted to the right hand of God the Father. This justification, along with Christ´s active and passive obedience, and all His other perfections, is imputed to His people, and is the only basis for all that they have in Him. This justification of Christ, this resurrection from the dead, was for our justification (Rom. 4:25).

I believe that God in His sovereign and secret decree has elected by name a countless number to eternal salvation (Eph. 1:11). Each of these elect are justified individually, and irreversibly, at the point of their conversion, when God imputes to them all the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29-30). The ground of this justification is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, plus nothing, and is appropriated by the instrument of faith alone, plus nothing, and even this faith is to be understood as a gift of God, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-10).

I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ, an organic covenant body, is also justified, sanctified, regenerated, and elect. Because her sanctification, like ours, is not yet complete (Eph. 5:24-32), I believe that non-justified, non-elect, non-sanctified, and non-regenerated individuals can be covenant-breaking members of this covenant body for a time. But in the passage of time all such fruitless branches are removed (John 15:1-7; Rom. 11:20; Matt. 13:24-40). Non-elect warts are removed from the elect Bride (Eph. 5:27).

I believe that God established two distinct covenants with mankind, one before the Fall, and one after. The first covenant was called a covenant of works in the Westminster Confession (7.2). I would prefer to call it a covenant of creational grace. The condition of covenant-keeping in this first covenant was to believe God´s grace, command, warnings, and promise. If Adam had avoided sin in this temptation, he would have had no grounds for boasting, but could only say that God had graciously preserved him. "œPerfect and personal obedience," even for an unfallen man, is not possible unless he trusts in God´s goodness and grace. Because God endued Adam with the power and ability to keep covenant with Him (WCF 19.1), Adam was a recipient of grace, and thus, the sin that plunged our race into death was a revolt against grace.

The second covenant is a covenant of redemptive grace. The thing that the two covenants have in common is grace, not works. The condition for keeping this covenant is the same as the first, although the circumstances are different. The condition always is to believe God.

These points are made, not to smuggle "œworks" from the covenant of works into the covenant of grace, but rather the opposite. I believe we must insist that autonomous works be banished from every human realm and endeavor, whether fallen or unfallen (1 Cor. 1:31).
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
I will not deny that I believe there was some measure of grace in the garden. But I will not agree with him in his view about Adam. If Adam would not have been justified by his obedience, then we have to assume that Christ did not obtain justification for us with His obedience. The comparisons in Romans and 1 Corinthians should make that abundantly clear for Mr. Wilson.

I believe what he is saying is that he somewhat agrees, if not wholeheartedly, on the view of Adam the RCC puts forward; that Adam was not made perfectly good in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. I believe he also misses the fact that although Adam's obedience is not devoid of godly assistance, God did expect him to obey from the heart. To me, it seems that Mr. Wilson does not agree with the four-fold state of man if he insists that Adam could not have "autonomously" obeyed. He must be disagreeing then with what the divines said about our first parents, "...being left to the freedom of their own will."

He still has a ways to go, In my humble opinion. But at least he is not denying imputed justification by faith alone through the merits of Christ. That is a huge step.

He would have impressed me to death if he would have formed his credo more in accord with the standards. That seems to be his weak point in that he feels he must make some different statement than what has already been established, thus making his own way.

In Christ,

KC
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
If Adam would not have been justified by his obedience, then we have to assume that Christ did not obtain justification for us with His obedience.

I am not sure that is valid. Type vs. Antitype works within a biblical framework as far as Federal headship goes, but Adam was able to fall, Christ, was not.

We are justified by Christ's works, and He Himself is justified by his own works. The very nature of His human works are rooted in that He was without sin and had a divine nature as well.


Joh 5:36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

Joh 10:32 Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?"

Joh 10:37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;

Joh 10:38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."

Joh 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.


And we perform good works through the power of the indwelling Spirit, not our flesh:

Joh 14:12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

I have always thought Christ was the only man who could be justifies by his works . . is that wrong ?

[Edited on 3-16-2006 by Saiph]
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Mark...

It is not a question of ability, but of righteousness to the law. Adam was given a covenant by which he would live if he obeyed. He didn't, of course. But that didn't change what is required before a holy God. The remedy of the disobedience of the law is death, therefore, in Adam, all died. The grace of God in Christ is manifest in that He was given the same law to obey, and He did it all perfectly.

If you disallow the result of Adam's obedience, then by rights, you should disallow the result of Christ's obedience, because they fulfill the same thing - righteousness.

Adam faced the probation of God's creatures and failed. Christ faced that same probation and succeeded. That is a fuller-orbed federal headship. It doesn't hinge upon the ability, it hinges upon the probation set before the heads.

But that is why Christ is above all and better than any created being. He accomplished what no one else could. The accomplishment had to be made or none would be saved.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

In Christ,

KC
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by Saiph
If Adam would not have been justified by his obedience, then we have to assume that Christ did not obtain justification for us with His obedience.

I am not sure that is valid. Type vs. Antitype works within a biblical framework as far as Federal headship goes, but Adam was able to fall, Christ, was not.

We are justified by Christ's works, and He Himself is justified by his own works. The very nature of His human works are rooted in that He was without sin and had a divine nature as well.


Joh 5:36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

Joh 10:32 Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?"

Joh 10:37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;

Joh 10:38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."

Joh 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.


And we perform good works through the power of the indwelling Spirit, not our flesh:

Joh 14:12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

I have always thought Christ was the only man who could be justifies by his works . . is that wrong ?

[Edited on 3-16-2006 by Saiph]

Mark,

I would say the credo is a good example of confusion leading to problems. It most often comes from a sdesire to restate "better" classical formulations.

What do I mean? The initial two paragraphs are very good, and I say, "Amen!"

I believe that Jesus Christ was justified by God in His resurrection from the dead, being declared with power to be the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). He was justified in the Spirit (1 Tim. 3:16), vindicated by God, and exalted to the right hand of God the Father. This justification, along with Christ´s active and passive obedience, and all His other perfections, is imputed to His people, and is the only basis for all that they have in Him. This justification of Christ, this resurrection from the dead, was for our justification (Rom. 4:25).

I believe that God in His sovereign and secret decree has elected by name a countless number to eternal salvation (Eph. 1:11). Each of these elect are justified individually, and irreversibly, at the point of their conversion, when God imputes to them all the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29-30). The ground of this justification is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, plus nothing, and is appropriated by the instrument of faith alone, plus nothing, and even this faith is to be understood as a gift of God, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-10).

The problem comes in that as soon as Wilson speaks of a "Covenant of Creational Grace," he is (unwittingly?) militating against those paragraphs. How? If the first Covenant was one of grace, not works, then how does Christ come by obedience that is imputed to us? what is the active obedience that Wilson speaks of that is imputed? It can't be fulfillment of the Covenant, since Wilson also says that Adam would not have earned anything by his obedience. Classical Reformed theology says that God graciously determined to make a covenant (where He did not have to) and to grant a reward upon obedience (which He again did not have to do), but once He did make that Covenant, He was bound by His oath.

Further, I think that this statement is at least unclear:

"Perfect and personal obedience," even for an unfallen man, is not possible unless he trusts in God´s goodness and grace

I don't see the Scriptures ever calling unfallen man, or glorified man to trust in God's grace (which presumes demerit), but rather to trust in God Himself. A small difference perhaps, but significant.

This credo expresses well for me where Wilson is - I think he is orthodox in his main doctrine, and especially on imputation and justification. But he too often (and in too many areas) desires to be "cute" or novel and that makes things less clear instead of more. Not a good thing. I don't think a blanket condemnation of Wilson is in order. Instead we should affirm what is good in what he says, and at the same time warn that he is a confusing teacher at times. I hope I am coming accross as balanced and not strident, because that is how I feel at the moment.
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Kevin and Fred,

Thank you for the clarifications. I am starting to see a difficulty in the concept of Adam not earning his prelapsarian spiritual sustenance by his own merit.

As for the following statement:

"Perfect and personal obedience," even for an unfallen man, is not possible unless he trusts in God´s goodness and grace

I do not know what Wilson means here either. But I do believe in a type of determinism wherein even the reprobate depend on God's sustaining power, and work, to live breath and exist as human beings. Whether or not you want to call that "common grace" (because mere creation does not necessitate any obligation on God's behalf) or not, is not an argument I want to begin again. Whatever we decide to call that benefit of life and health vouchsafed to every human by God still implies that man is in no way autonomous, and so even Adam's obedience, in that sense, still depended on God's work in and through him.
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Mark...

This is where the four-fold state is beneficial because we can't look back on Adam and see it from the same perspective. He was created in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. Perhaps an analogous way to look at it would be that, if he were a car, this was standard equipment for him as was his builtin ability. He was made already sanctified. And that continued in him until his fall.

I'm not saying that God created him and walked away, but we have to assume that, with original equipment, he could do whatever he wished because his will was predisposed to line up with what God willed. We say this because he had not yet sinned. Therefore we cannot attribute any thought, word, or deed as sinful to him before he fell. We cannot do that with Eve either. Nor could we say that he was being perfected before his fall. He was made upright and perfect.

In our state as a "car", knowledge, righteousness, and holiness are added options only after being regenerated by the Holy Spirit, in other words, we have to be sanctified. These options, though they come by God, are put into substandard equipment. And so they work as good as can be expected given both the will of God and the sin nature of man. With a renewed will and renewed parts, man can obey, but never coming near perfection, whereas Adam, when he obeyed, fully complied with God's will. His one act of disobedience made it so that we can never render perfect obedience even with God's help. So because of this, men still need alien righteousness even after they've been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. They still need sanctification in order to take hold of those blessings.

Otherwise, why did Christ have to come and die? If God could make us righteous by giving us spiritual blessings and enabling us to perfectly obey, Christ is no longer needed. But that is not God's design.

So, I would say that Adam's obedience did not rely upon the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. God created him with ability and without sin, therefore, he could render obedience apart from the direct work of the Holy Spirit. Without sin, it is possible to please God, as we will do in eternity.

In Christ,

KC
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Ok, Adam had intrinsic righteousness (infused), we have alien righteousness imputed (extra nos).

The dilemma I have is ontic. Adam still had to rely on God by faith, the revelation was more lucid, but the creature/creator dependance has to be there right ??

Acts 17:26-29

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.

How much, and what aspects of the imago dei are/were diminished by the fall ?

Whatever those liminal qualities are, they require us now to be justified by the works of Christ, and sanctified internally by the Spirit.

Adam, was justified by himself, and I think still sanctified (or kept holy - sustained in a state of grace) by the same Spirit.
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Saiph
Ok, Adam had intrinsic righteousness (infused), we have alien righteousness imputed (extra nos).

The dilemma I have is ontic. Adam still had to rely on God by faith, the revelation was more lucid, but the creature/creator dependance has to be there right ??

Creator/creature distinction is there. Adam relies upon God just as any other created thing. But, he is not relying upon God to save him as there is nothing to save him from. He was righteous according to the law, so God was pleased with him.


How much, and what aspects of the imago dei are/were diminished by the fall?

We are fallen in every part of our being. No amount of God's blessing upon us will remove our fallenness, which is why we require a full-orbed salvation from beginning to end.

I am assuming that you know and understand the four-fold state? If not, I can explain that further.

Whatever those liminal qualities are, they require us now to be justified by the works of Christ, and sanctified internally by the Spirit.

Adam, was justified by himself, and I think still sanctified (or kept holy - sustained in a state of grace) by the same Spirit.

But that state of grace, is it saving or common? When we talk about grace we must be specific.

In Christ,

KC
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Adam was not relying on God to save him, but do you think he might have been relying on God to keep him from falling ?

I was using grace as "common", and even when I use it as saving, I do not mean that in the ultimate soteriological sense. I will use the word elect, or regenration for that idea. I believe one can have different measures of grace (ie. Judas, Hebrews 6/10) without it necessarily leading to total salvation.

If grace is umnmerited favor . . well then . .what isn't grace ? Even breathing, and walking and God's covenant of the rainbow are unmerited.
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Because I am still not convinced.

Where does anyone on this board get from the bible that everything down to the synapses firing in your brain right now as you read these words are not total gifts of God's active and unmerited grace ?

Where does anyone get from the Bible that Adam and Christ were not ontologically different ?

And we will not be more "like God" ontologically as well as behaviorally in heaven than we are right now in this flesh ?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Fair enough Mark but is Wilson's issue of the classic construction of the COW an issue of ontology? If it isn't then your concern might be better addressed in another thread. I think if we pursue your issue it may distract the real criticism of Wilson's thoughts.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Mark, I think you bring up a point which does lead to some confusion of language. If we use grace to speak strictly in terms of God's favor to the guilty (I forget who defined it that way, maybe Geoff Thomas --though AW Pink is another option?) then it is obvious that there was no pre-lapsarian grace; there was what WCF 7.1 calls voluntary condescencion, in kindness giving a covenant whereby by entire, perpetual, personal obedience Adam could have some fruition of God as his blessedness and reward. Without that covenant, Luke 17:10 would have applied, as the WCF rightly notes because of the Creator/creature distinction. It seems clear that they are distinguishing voluntary condescencion from grace, in order to preserve that concept for man in sin.
If you read Spanish I've been tackling this a bit on my Spanish blog (in my signature). However, I have discovered that Babelfish is thoroughly unreliable for translation.
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Rich, if Wilson is viewing prelapsarian grace from an ontological perspective then I think his argument has some validity.

As Ruben mentioned from the WCF, the terminology of "voluntary condescencion" is for me and my pea brain, is synonymous with grace.

As I said, I believe there are degrees of grace. The degree by which men are delivered from darkness to light is salvific in the sense that it grants power to do what the law could not (Rom. 8:3-4). And I believe one can apostasize from that degree as stated in Hebrews 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

Perseverance is a matter of what God has done through His sovereign election, and so I agree with the doctrine as far as it is viewed from His vantage point. But assurance of the fact existentially is a gift of grace that comes with a life of obedience.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Saiph
Rich, if Wilson is viewing prelapsarian grace from an ontological perspective then I think his argument has some validity.
Right but if he isn't then you're opening up a separate :worms:.

From what I know of Wilson's work, I would be shocked if his concern was ontological. I think the issue here is one of covenant.

I really, really love reading what you have to write Mark because it helps me think. I'm only arguing that if this is not an issue of ontology that we ought to deal with the Covenantal issues in this thread.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
A Short Credo on Justification

These points are made, not to smuggle "œworks" from the covenant of works into the covenant of grace, but rather the opposite. I believe we must insist that autonomous works be banished from every human realm and endeavor, whether fallen or unfallen (1 Cor. 1:31).
[/quote]

Did Jesus perform "autonomous" works? :detective:
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by fredtgreco

This credo expresses well for me where Wilson is - I think he is orthodox in his main doctrine, and especially on imputation and justification. But he too often (and in too many areas) desires to be "cute" or novel and that makes things less clear instead of more. Not a good thing. I don't think a blanket condemnation of Wilson is in order. Instead we should affirm what is good in what he says, and at the same time warn that he is a confusing teacher at times. I hope I am coming accross as balanced and not strident, because that is how I feel at the moment.


:up:

Thank you for not throwing out the baby with the bathwater!
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Just my :2cents:.

I disagree with Fred when he wrote of Wilson; "œI think he is orthodox in his main doctrine, and especially on imputation and justification." I have to wonder if we´re all reading the same thing? Wilson´s "œcredo" is a thinly veiled denial of the Protestant doctrine of JBFA. Some of the clues:

I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ, an organic covenant body, is also justified, sanctified, regenerated, and elect.

Reprobate, baptized members of the church, what most would have called nominal Christians or Christians in name only, are, per Wilson, equally "œjustified, sanctified, regenerated, and elect." So what differentiates elect members of the CoG who go to Heaven and those who go to Hell? For Wilson the CoG is conditional and the conditions are met by works done by faith through grace:

The condition for keeping this covenant is the same as the first [the Covenant of Works], although the circumstances are different.

I think Mark picked up what many might charitably think is Wilson´s equivocal use of the word justified as applied to Christ and as it is applied to members of the CoG. The problem is that what at first appears to be an equivocation turns out to be no equivocation at all. Jesus was justified by His faithful obedience to the demands and conditions of the Covenant and so are we. Faithful obedience to the conditions of the Covenant are what would have preserved Adam in the CoW and is what preserves those per the CoG who are "eschatologically" justified on the last day. Consider Wilson´s confession again:

I believe we must insist that autonomous works be banished from every human realm and endeavor, whether fallen or unfallen (1 Cor. 1:31).

Notice Wilson has no intention of banishing works from his false doctrine of justification, just "œautonomous works." Wilson´s doctrine of justification is by works done by faith through grace. This is Romanism pure and simple and the second half of Wilson´s heretical "œcredo" contradicts the first as Wilson's doctrine of imputation turns out to be no imputation at all. Obviously it's Wilson´s hope that no one will notice his sleight of hand. Sad to say in the case of many Wilson´s wish has been answered.

[Edited on 3-30-2006 by Magma2]
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
As a nice and timely follow up for those who have been snookered or pacified by Wilson´s credo above, the new Trinity Review features an outstanding piece by Robert Reymond which supplies a nice response. Here´s just a bit:

These teachers have rejected the clear Pauline teaching that justification is an act of God's free grace alone by which the moment a penitent sinner places his faith in Christ God forgives him of all of his sins forever and imputes to him and hence also to his weak and imperfect "œgood works"5 the perfection of the obedience of his Son Jesus Christ (see Acts 13:38-39; Galatians 2:16; Romans 1:16-17; 3:21-22, 28; 4:4-15; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-10), thereby constituting and declaring him righteous in his sight. These teachers, either minimizing or denying altogether the imputation of Christ's active obedience to the believer, teach that justification is not a purely forensic declaration but a transforming activity in which the believer's obedience also plays a significant role in his justification. This corrupted doctrine of justification includes within it the lie of Satan that Christ's righteousness is not enough in itself to justify and that obedience on the part of the believer is also necessary for his full and final justification before God." http://www.trinityfoundation.org/latest.php
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Magma2

I disagree with Fred when he wrote of Wilson; "œI think he is orthodox in his main doctrine, and especially on imputation and justification." I have to wonder if we´re all reading the same thing? Wilson´s "œcredo" is a thinly veiled denial of the Protestant doctrine of JBFA. Some of the clues:

I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ, an organic covenant body, is also justified, sanctified, regenerated, and elect.

Reprobate, baptized members of the church, what most would have called nominal Christians or Christians in name only, are, per Wilson, equally "œjustified, sanctified, regenerated, and elect." So what differentiates elect members of the CoG who go to Heaven and those who go to Hell? For Wilson the CoG is conditional and the conditions are met by works done by faith through grace:

The condition for keeping this covenant is the same as the first [the Covenant of Works], although the circumstances are different.

You miss the point that Wilson sees these terms in different senses.

As you know, the word "saved" doesn't always mean the same thing in Scripture. Neither does the word "justified". James 2 doesn't contradict Romans 4. They just are talking about different things, and are using words in different senses.

Wilson does NOT believe that 'Reprobate, baptized members of the church, what most would have called nominal Christians or Christians in name only, are . . . equally "œjustified, sanctified, regenerated, and elect."' --- That is a flatly false representation of what Wilson believes.

Before you critique someone, you should make sure that you understand their position. If Wilson truly believed that there were no distinction whatsoever between a reprobate member of the church and a regenerate member of the church, then I would cry foul just as much as you do. But Wilson does NOT believe that. Therefore your accusation is unfounded.

I have personally corresponded with Wilson's assistant, Mike Lawyer. And they explicitly affirm the fact presented by passages such as Matthew 7:23 & 1 John 2:19. There are those among us who are not of us, and who are not savingly known by the Lord. Wilson never denies this, except in your own mind.

Originally posted by Magma2

I think Mark picked up what many might charitably think is Wilson´s equivocal use of the word justified as applied to Christ and as it is applied to members of the CoG. The problem is that what at first appears to be an equivocation turns out to be no equivocation at all. Jesus was justified by His faithful obedience to the demands and conditions of the Covenant and so are we. Faithful obedience to the conditions of the Covenant are what would have preserved Adam in the CoW and is what preserves those per the CoG who are "eschatologically" justified on the last day. Consider Wilson´s confession again:

I believe we must insist that autonomous works be banished from every human realm and endeavor, whether fallen or unfallen (1 Cor. 1:31).

Notice Wilson has no intention of banishing works from his false doctrine of justification, just "œautonomous works." Wilson´s doctrine of justification is by works done by faith through grace. This is Romanism pure and simple and the second half of Wilson´s heretical "œcredo" contradicts the first as Wilson's doctrine of imputation turns out to be no imputation at all. Obviously it's Wilson´s hope that no one will notice his sleight of hand. Sad to say in the case of many Wilson´s wish has been answered.

Which doctrine of justification? As far as his personal, salvific doctrine of justification goes, it looks like yours and mine.

But that doesn't keep him from using the word "justification" at other times, and in other senses, sort of like James did in James 2. Affirmation of some other justification does NOT automatically mean that he has abandoned his understanding of justification in the primary sense upon which we all agree.

Furthermore, who said that Wilson has "no intention of banishing works"? Just because he was trying to be helpful, clear, and specific by using the word "autonomous", you automatically assume he is trying to sneak some other kind of works in the back door?

Have you given Wilson the courtesy of emailing him (or his assistant), or calling him, or writing him a letter, to find out whether or not you understand his position? Or does Matthew 18 mean nothing to you?

I am not a FV guy, and I do not endorse everything Wilson says or does. But he IS our brother in Christ, and he has done and is doing many good things for the church and family. People like you should be ashamed of yourselves. You have no right to anathematize him and call him a heretic until you can articulate his position in such a way that HE would agree that you understand it. And you are not even within ten miles of that.

First, get your facts straight. Portray his position accurately.

THEN you will have earned the right to comment. If you understand his position, and then still want to call him a heretic, at least you will have a little better grounds for doing so. But as it stands, you are either involved in ignorance or slander, or a mixture of the two.

As Matthew 18 commands, please contact the parties you accuse, and get your facts straight first, instead of anathematizing them for things they don't even believe.
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
MODERATORS:

I just remembered that there used to be a rule on the PB to not defend Douglas Wilson.

However, since Pastor Fred Greco has publicly posted on this thread his opinion that Doug Wilson is within the bounds of orthodoxy, and is not a damned heretic, I assume that the old rule is gone, and that neither Fred Greco nor I will be kicked off the PB for defending a Christian brother from charges of heresy.

However, if I am mistaken, please U2U me so I can edit my statements in my post above. I do not want to break any PB rules.

(And if I receive a U2U asking me to edit my post, I will expect a similar U2U to be sent to Pastor Fred Greco.)



Again, Fred, I really want to thank you for your post above, and for your unwillingness to throw the baby out with the bathwater! Even if you don't agree with all of Wilson's theology, I commend you for defending him as being at least within the bounds of orthodoxy, a fellow brother in Christ. Like you, this is my goal.
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
As you know, the word "saved" doesn't always mean the same thing in Scripture. Neither does the word "justified". James 2 doesn't contradict Romans 4. They just are talking about different things, and are using words in different senses.

Wilson does NOT believe that 'Reprobate, baptized members of the church, what most would have called nominal Christians or Christians in name only, are . . . equally "œjustified, sanctified, regenerated, and elect."' --- That is a flatly false representation of what Wilson believes.

Hogwash Joseph and perhaps part of your problem is that you are not seeing Wilson´s anti-Christian deceptive "œcredo" in context of his other writings, specifically his book, Reformed is Not Enough, where he writes:

"œ. . . there is no such thing as a merely nominal Christian any more than we can find a man who is a nominal husband. There are many faithless husbands, but if a man is a husband at all, then he is as much a husband as a faithful one. He is a covenant breaker, but this is not the same as saying that he has no covenant to break. In the same way, there are multitudes of faithless Christians, who do not believe what God said at their baptism" (96).

. . . when people are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they are ushered into an objective, visible, covenant relationship. Regardless of the state of their heart, regardless of any hypocrisy, regardless of whether or not they mean it, such people are now visible saints, Christians (194).

Per Wilson Christians are saved by their faithfulness, not by faith alone. That's the point. You need to take your blinders off.

Before you critique someone, you should make sure that you understand their position. If Wilson truly believed that there were no distinction whatsoever between a reprobate member of the church and a regenerate member of the church, then I would cry foul just as much as you do. But Wilson does NOT believe that. Therefore your accusation is unfounded.

Where did I say Wilson makes no distinction whatsoever between a reprobate member of the church and a regenerate one? The distinction is individual faithfulness, not mere belief alone which is what put´s Wilson outside of the fellowship of believers and why I publically mark him, as should all Christian men, as the dangerous heretic he is.


Which doctrine of justification? As far as his personal, salvific doctrine of justification goes, it looks like yours and mine.

Maybe Wilson´s credo is yours, but I reject that works play any role, autonomous or otherwise, in justification.

But that doesn't keep him from using the word "justification" at other times, and in other senses, sort of like James did in James 2. Affirmation of some other justification does NOT automatically mean that he has abandoned his understanding of justification in the primary sense upon which we all agree.


I don´t see that "œall agree" on justification in the least Joseph. Some, like you, are in agreement with Wilson.


Furthermore, who said that Wilson has "no intention of banishing works"? Just because he was trying to be helpful, clear, and specific by using the word "autonomous", you automatically assume he is trying to sneak some other kind of works in the back door?


Well, you seem to be the expert on Wilson´s theological and soteric views, why don´t you tell men why he added the word "œautonomous"to works in his view of justification?

Have you given Wilson the courtesy of emailing him (or his assistant), or calling him, or writing him a letter, to find out whether or not you understand his position? Or does Matthew 18 mean nothing to you?

Matthew 18 means very much to me, but it is irrelevant in this case. Wilson´s anti-Christian credo is a public statement and his book, Reformed is Not Enough, is also available publically and is even free for download in a pdf. His statements are a public attack on the Biblical doctrine of justification and should be treated as such. Perhaps you should study the book of Galatians to better understand how men who openly teach another gospel should be treated "“ or who even show any deference for those false teachers as in the case of Peter.

I am not a FV guy, and I do not endorse everything Wilson says or does. But he IS our brother in Christ, and he has done and is doing many good things for the church and family.

Sounds to me like you´re very much endorsing him here. Now you´re even praising him for all the good he´s done.

First, get your facts straight. Portray his position accurately.

I have portrayed Wilson´s position accurately and you have done nothing to demonstrate otherwise. Perhaps if you would present an argument next time instead of just emoting it might be more effective?

However, since Pastor Fred Greco has publicly posted on this thread his opinion that Doug Wilson is within the bounds of orthodoxy, and is not a damned heretic, I assume that the old rule is gone, and that neither Fred Greco nor I will be kicked off the PB for defending a Christian brother from charges of heresy.

You have provided ample evidence why RE Greco´s remarks were misguided and has, even if inadvertently, given aid and cover to Christ's enemies.
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Magma2
As you know, the word "saved" doesn't always mean the same thing in Scripture. Neither does the word "justified". James 2 doesn't contradict Romans 4. They just are talking about different things, and are using words in different senses.

Wilson does NOT believe that 'Reprobate, baptized members of the church, what most would have called nominal Christians or Christians in name only, are . . . equally "œjustified, sanctified, regenerated, and elect."' --- That is a flatly false representation of what Wilson believes.

Hogwash Joseph and perhaps part of your problem is that you are not seeing Wilson´s anti-Christian deceptive "œcredo" in context of his other writings, specifically his book, Reformed is Not Enough, where he writes:

"œ. . . there is no such thing as a merely nominal Christian any more than we can find a man who is a nominal husband. There are many faithless husbands, but if a man is a husband at all, then he is as much a husband as a faithful one. He is a covenant breaker, but this is not the same as saying that he has no covenant to break. In the same way, there are multitudes of faithless Christians, who do not believe what God said at their baptism" (96).

. . . when people are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they are ushered into an objective, visible, covenant relationship. Regardless of the state of their heart, regardless of any hypocrisy, regardless of whether or not they mean it, such people are now visible saints, Christians (194).

Sean, would you care to tell me what problem you have with Wilson's statements above? I have read "Reformed is Not Enough". And I think Calvin or Witsius would be perfectly happy with both of the quotes you just referenced.

You would do well to read these articles concerning the book, and the twisting that people like yourself have done with it:
http://ecsowder.blogplot.com/categorylist_html?cat_id=17

You see, IF Wilson were saying that a person were automatically in a eternally saving relationship with Christ, regardless of the state of their hearts, then of course it would be heresy. But that is NOT what Wilson is saying at all.

Rather, Wilson is simply pointing out the fact that unregenerate people are in relationship with God. But he is certainly not saying that it is a good relationship or a saving relationship.

For example, consider Korah. He was "baptized into Moses" just as much as all the other Israelites were (cf. 1 Cor. 10:2). But he nevertheless proved to be apostate, a covenant breaker, and God caused him to be consumed into a fiery pit.

Or consider Jeremiah 11 and Romans 11. There are unregenerate people who are part of the covenant tree. Then, because of their unbelief, they are "cut off" of the tree. Well, you cannot be "cut off" from something unless you were connected to it in the first place.

You see, Douglas Wilson AGREES with you that an unregenerate person is not in relationship to God in the same way that a regenerate person is in relationship to God. To borrow Wilson's analogy, an adulterous husband is not in relationship to his wife in the same way as a faithful husband. Nevertheless, he is her husband, and she is his wife.

So, a regenerate person and an unregenerate person can both be in covenant with God, just as Romans 11 says, and just as the majority of the Reformed community has always said. But what is the difference between these two people? The difference is FAITH! The unregenerate person has no faith in Christ, and so the covenant is condemning for him, rather than salvific. But the regenerate person does have the gift of faith, so the covenant is salvific for him, not condemning.

It seems like we have debated this elsewhere on this board, Sean. Several of us have made it abundantly clear what the historic Reformed position is: Both regenerate people and unregenerate people partake of the covenant. But only regenerate people partake of it savingly. --- This is basically what Wilson is saying. You just don't like the way he is saying it. And you don't have enough obedience to Christ to make sure you understand Wilson before you curse him. Shame on you!


Originally posted by Magma2

Per Wilson Christians are saved by their faithfulness, not by faith alone. That's the point. You need to take your blinders off.

Hogwash.

Prove your statement. Or am I just supposed to take your word for it? Wilson has very clearly said, repeatedly, that Christians are saved by faith ALONE. He believes in sola fide just as much as you and I do.

Originally posted by Magma2

Before you critique someone, you should make sure that you understand their position. If Wilson truly believed that there were no distinction whatsoever between a reprobate member of the church and a regenerate member of the church, then I would cry foul just as much as you do. But Wilson does NOT believe that. Therefore your accusation is unfounded.

Where did I say Wilson makes no distinction whatsoever between a reprobate member of the church and a regenerate one? The distinction is individual faithfulness, not mere belief alone which is what put´s Wilson outside of the fellowship of believers and why I publically mark him, as should all Christian men, as the dangerous heretic he is.

Hogwash! And again, shame on you for slandering a brother in Christ. Wilson's theology may not be perfect (whose is?), but he is no heretic. I agree with Pastor Fred Greco on this point. Wilson clearly believes the sola fide gospel of the Reformation.

If you want to accuse Wilson of denying justification by faith alone, then prove it! Document your support for such a claim!

Originally posted by Magma2

Which doctrine of justification? As far as his personal, salvific doctrine of justification goes, it looks like yours and mine.

Maybe Wilson´s credo is yours, but I reject that works play any role, autonomous or otherwise, in justification.

I personally hold to what the Westminster Confession of Faith says about justification.

So do you. And so does Doug Wilson.

But answer this for me:
Every time a Christian uses the word "justification", does he HAVE to use it in reference to our commonly held doctrine of imputation and forensic righteousness?

If the answer is "yes", then James really goofed up! In James 2, he does NOT use the word "justified" in reference to imputed righteousness.

Now, if you talked to James, he would have agreed perfectly with Paul in Romans 4. But James was addressing a totally different subject, and nevertheless believed that the use of the word "justified" was appropriate.

Wilson is doing nothing different. He agrees with the WCF on forensic justification and imputed righteousness. But he just simply happens to agree with James that we can still use the word "justification" in other contexts unrelated to imputation.


Originally posted by Magma2

Have you given Wilson the courtesy of emailing him (or his assistant), or calling him, or writing him a letter, to find out whether or not you understand his position? Or does Matthew 18 mean nothing to you?

Matthew 18 means very much to me, but it is irrelevant in this case.

A lot of Scripture is obviously irrelevant to you. Thanks for admitting it.

The passages in Scripture which command love of the brethren also seem to be overlooked by you.

In fact, even if Douglas Wilson IS the enemy, you have failed to obey Scripture and love your enemies! You have twisted and mischaracterized Wilson, and thus YOU are the one in opposition to the Scriptures. Even if you are totally convinced that Wilson is a heretic, you still owe him the courtesy of representing him correctly. But I guarantee you that he would NOT agree with your representation of him.

State his views in a way that HE will agree with, and THEN make your critique. Don't run off at the mouth before you understand what he has said.

Originally posted by Magma2

I am not a FV guy, and I do not endorse everything Wilson says or does. But he IS our brother in Christ, and he has done and is doing many good things for the church and family.

Sounds to me like you´re very much endorsing him here. Now you´re even praising him for all the good he´s done.

I very much endorse his family books, as well as his "Easy Chairs, Hard Words" book which does an excellent job of presenting Reformed soteriology.

But endorsing some of his theology is not the same as endorsing all of it.

Originally posted by Magma2


First, get your facts straight. Portray his position accurately.

I have portrayed Wilson´s position accurately and you have done nothing to demonstrate otherwise. Perhaps if you would present an argument next time instead of just emoting it might be more effective?

The burden of proof is on you, not me.

You are the one raising false charges of heresy against a brother in Christ. The ball most certainly is in your court. If you want to call Wilson a heretic, then present your case. Prove it!

But if the quotes you produce are as flimsy for your argument as the ones you produced above, it won't help your case at all. Wilson has said nothing heretical. Quote away.




Originally posted by Magma2

You have provided ample evidence why RE Greco´s remarks were misguided and has, even if inadvertently, given aid and cover to Christ's enemies.

If Doug Wilson is a child of God, and a faithful Christian, then YOU are being Christ's enemy by slandering him.

Present a quote for me that demonstrates Wilson as a heretic. Let me see your data.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Stick to the issue gentlemen. The off hand remarks judging each others character are completely unnecessary to your arguments. Stick to the issue. Prove your assertions. Last warning. :judge:
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Good point, Patrick.

Please forgive me.

Sean, I apologize for harshly judging your character. While I obviously disagree with your conclusions regarding Douglas Wilson, I do have to admit that your intentions are good . . . I do believe you are trying to preserve the purity of the church. And for this desire you should be commended.

Anyway, please forgive me for my harsh rhetoric. I was wrong to speak to you in that manner.

:pray2:



[Edited on 4-4-2006 by biblelighthouse]
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sean, would you care to tell me what problem you have with Wilson's statements above?

I already have.

I have read "Reformed is Not Enough". And I think Calvin or Witsius would be perfectly happy with both of the quotes you just referenced.

I suggest you read "œNot Reformed At All" for a thorough reply. As for what you think concerning Calvin and Witsius I suggest you read the piece by Robert Reymond linked above. He doesn´t share your opinion.

So, a regenerate person and an unregenerate person can both be in covenant with God, just as Romans 11 says, and just as the majority of the Reformed community has always said. But what is the difference between these two people? The difference is FAITH! The unregenerate person has no faith in Christ, and so the covenant is condemning for him, rather than salvific. But the regenerate person does have the gift of faith, so the covenant is salvific for him, not condemning.

God´s covenant is with the elect; "the Covenant of Grace: whereby he [God] freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe" (WCF 7.3). Notice that the promise of the Holy Spirit is to "those that are ordained unto eternal life." The promise is not to all men, nor to all who hear the Gospel, nor to all the baptized, nor to all who profess faith, but only to the elect, to "those who are ordained unto life." Notice also that the promise includes God's making the elect "willing and able to believe." Belief is not a condition that sinners meet in order to receive covenant blessings; saving faith is itself a promised blessing of the Covenant of Grace. That is exactly what God says in Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8 when he speaks of writing his Word in the minds of his people.

The Larger Catechism reiterates this doctrine:Q. 31 With whom was the Covenant of Grace made? A. The Covenant of Grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed. Notice that all the elect and only the elect in Christ are mentioned as parties in the Covenant of Grace. They, and only they, are those for whom Christ died. They, and only they, are those whom Christ represented in his life and death. The Covenant of Grace is not made with a mixed multitude of elect and reprobate, nor with the baptized, nor with all members of organized churches.

Reprobate baptized members of the Church are not Christians and are not members of the covenant except in an external or nominal sense. This Wilson denies along with the other heretics making their claims at Auburn Avenue.

Per Wilson Christians are saved by their faithfulness, not by faith alone. That's the point. You need to take your blinders off.


Hogwash.

Prove your statement. Or am I just supposed to take your word for it? Wilson has very clearly said, repeatedly, that Christians are saved by faith ALONE. He believes in sola fide just as much as you and I do.

I have no idea what you believe. Wilson on the other hand is clear which should have been evident to all per his credo above. But since you've read his diatribe against the Reformed faith, you'll recall that according to Wilson, "both the true and false son are brought into the same relation" to Christ. So what is the determining factor that separates the sheep from the goats? Wilson explains that "faith in the biblical sense is inseparable from faithfulness.... But when we have faith that works its way out in love, which is the only thing that genuine faith can do, then the condition that God has set for the fulfillment of His promise has been met" (186-187, emphasis added). The ones who, through their faithfulness, "meet the condition that God has set for the fulfilment of His promise," become sheep. In the objective covenant in which the sinner meets conditions and fulfills his covenantal obligations, thus qualifying himself for the salvation God has promised, Wilson confuses works with sanctification, and both with justification. Wilson's conditional objective covenant is an outright denial of the Covenant of Grace and the doctrine of justification by faith alone: Those whom God effectually called he also freely justified; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous: not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone: not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith: which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God [WCF, 11:1].

Wilson favorably quotes Randy Booth: "Only faithful covenant membership (i.e., those full of faith in the Savior), receive the covenant blessings, including the blessings of imputed righteousness" (175, emphasis added). Read that sentence again Joseph. The imputation of Christ's righteousness is the result of being a faithful covenant member. Wilson immediately adds, "This is fundamental to the central point of this book. Election is one thing and covenant membership is another." For Wilson it is the conditions of salvation that God sets at baptism that become the dividing line between salvation and damnation: "Those who obligate themselves under the terms of the covenant law to live by faith but then defiantly refuse to believe are cut away" (134).

I can see you didn´t get the point of his book.
 
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