A Short Credo on Justification: Douglas Wilson

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biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
Joseph, you are confounding Justification and Sanctification, in my opinion, when you say "A faith that does not work is a faith that does not save."

Gabriel, thank you for your input.

I certainly don't want to be argumentive . . . I honestly want to understand your perspective . . . please explain to me how it is that you think my statement confounds justification with sanctification? I do not understand why you are making that charge.

I believe (as did all the Reformers) that "a faith that does not work is a faith that does not save."

Please help me understand how that statement is any different whatsoever from these sample statements:

As Dr. John Gerstner said: "Faith is Not a Work, but it is Never without Work"

As Brian Schwertly said: "Justification is by faith alone, but not by the faith that is alone. Biblical Protestants agree with the apostle James "œthat faith without works is dead" (Jas. 2:20). "

"œJustification is by faith alone, but not by the faith that IS alone." - Martin Luther


Like I said: "A faith that does not work is a faith that does not save."


Now, let me break up that statement into its constituent parts.

First of all, I am saying that there are two different kinds of faith. There is true faith, and there is dead faith. Do you agree with me so far, Gabriel? If so, great. (If not, then let's stop here and see why we disagree on this point.)

True faith is self-explanitory. It is simple honest belief in Jesus Christ for the salvation from sin. This is real faith.

Dead faith is false faith. It may outwardly appear identical to true faith for a while. But from day one, it never truly trusts in Christ for salvation. Thus, it is not real faith at all. Perhaps this could be better termed "apparent faith".

Now let me ask you: Which one of these two kinds of faith can save? Does God justify people on the basis of true faith, on the basis of dead faith, or on the basis of both?

I would argue from Scripture that ONLY true faith is salvific. Dead faith cannot save (James 2). Apparent faith is not good enough (Matthew 7:21-23).

In other words, I am saying that salvation is only granted to true, actual, real faith. If a person honestly believes in Christ for salvation, then he is justified by faith alone. Works have absolutely NOTHING to do with this imputed righteousness received by the sinner.


**** Now, on a totally SEPARATE note *****

Of the two types of faith, which one produces good fruit? Clearly, the dead faith does not produce good fruit. The true faith, though, most certainly WILL produce good works. As you well pointed out, this is sanctification, NOT justification. This is progression in holiness, NOT imputed righteousness.




Now let's ask the question:

Q: "Which faith saves?"
Answer: "Only True faith saves. Dead faith does not save."


Now let's ask this:

Q: "Which faith works?"
Answer: "Only True faith works. Dead faith does not bear good fruit."



------------- We have made two separate and distinct statements. Now let's succinctly say BOTH distinct truths in a single statement ---------


"A faith that does not work is a faith that does not save."



This statement is perfectly logical, and is perfectly TRUE.

Notice what is NOT said in the statement. The statement does NOT say that the salvation is *because* of the works! If it said THAT, then I WOULD be confounding justification with sanctification.

But I am saying nothing of the sort. Rather, I am simply pointing out that there are two different kinds of faith, and that only one kind of faith saves. True faith saves; dead faith does not save. True faith works; dead faith does not work.

What kind of faith is true faith? It is a faith that results in works!

Therefore, what kind of faith saves? The only faith that saves is the faith that works!

But it does not save BECAUSE it works. Rather, salvation & works are two DIFFERENT things that EACH flow out from true faith SEPARATELY.

In other words, true faith results in both justification AND sanctification.

The justification is granted BECAUSE of the faith. The justification is NOT granted because of the works.





Roman Catholic theology looks like this:

rcjustify.jpg




Reformed theology looks like this:

solafide.jpg



Justification comes on the basis of true faith.
Works flow out of true faith.
Thus, "the faith that works is the faith that justifies".

And since dead faith brings about neither justification nor good works, we can also say that "the faith that doesn't work is the faith that doesn't justify".

The negatives always go together, and the postives always go together.

(It is kind of like people in the Bible sparing someone's life, judging by how they pronounce the word "Shibboleth". They did not save someone or kill someone because they wanted the word pronounced a certain way. Rather, the basis for saving or killing a person was based on totally different grounds. But they just used their pronunciations of the word "Shibboleth" as a way to properly identify the people they were looking for. It was a method of identification, NOT a grounds for saving or killing someone.)


As you can clearly see in the diagram, justification is NOT on the basis of works, and does NOT flow from works in any way. Justification is on the basis of faith ONLY.

Justification and works both come from faith, but only side by side, in parallel lines.


Make sense?







[Edited on 4-7-2006 by biblelighthouse]
 

Myshkin

Puritan Board Freshman
If I may as an observer. It is clear to me, I think, that Joseph is only articulating the reformed position.

The original discussion is whether Wilson agrees with this position. Based on what has been stated I think he does, if his statements on justification quoted by Joseph are left alone. However as Sean and others have pointed out, it is the other stuff (faith, works, covenant, etc.) that seems to take away any area of orthodoxy on justification that was stated.

To be clear, I am not a Wilson advocate, and I am not pro-FV, however I don't think it is fair to Joseph to paint him in to a corner that he is clearly articulating he wants no part of. If Joseph is confused, he is confused about Wilson agreeing with the truth. I don't think he is confused about what that truth is. I may be wrong, but I have no horse in this race and am giving Joseph the benefit of the doubt.

That being said, I think the discussion would progress better if a focus on the definition/nature of faith would be given by Joseph and Sean.

If faith is reduced to mental assent, than Joseph's point is confirmed by historic reformed orthodoxy. If faith is revised to include works as part of the nature of faith itself as opposed to a fruit of that faith, then Sean's point is confirmed by historic reformed orthodoxy.

Anyways, just thought I'd feebly attempt to spur on the discussion towards clarity. Maybe discussing the nature of faith would help?

(back to the sidelines...)

[Edited on 4-7-2006 by RAS]
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by RAS
If I may as an observer. It is clear to me, I think, that Joseph is only articulating the reformed position.

Thank you!

Originally posted by RAS

The original discussion is whether Wilson agrees with this position.

Correct. And I am arguing that Wilson believes the reformed position every bit as much as I do.

Originally posted by RAS

Based on what has been stated I think he does, if his statements on justification quoted by Joseph are left alone.

Again, thank you!

Originally posted by RAS

However as Sean and others have pointed out, it is the other stuff (faith, works, covenant, etc.) that seems to take away any area of orthodoxy.

Please clarify what you mean by this statement. Specifically what is it that Wilson has said about "faith, works, covenant, etc." that causes you to question his orthodoxy in any way? I have already discussed Wilson's statements about faith & works, and they are no different from the classic reformed view of faith and works. The faith that works is the same faith that saves. But the salvation is based only on the faith, not on the works. So what is wrong with Wilson's view, in your opinion?


Originally posted by RAS

That being said, I think the discussion would progress better if a focus on the definition/nature of faith would be given by Joseph and Sean.

If faith is reduced to mental assent, than Joseph's point is confirmed by historic reformed orthodoxy.

:amen: To have true faith, you have to:
1) have knowledge (content)
2) mental assent to that knowledge (conviction)
3) trust in Christ according to that conviction (personal confidence)

Works have nothing to do with it.


True faith ALWAYS results in salvation.
True faith ALWAYS results in good works.
Thus, the faith that works is the same faith that saves.
But the salvation is based only on the faith, not on the works:
solafide.jpg


Originally posted by RAS

If faith is revised to include works as part of the nature of faith itself as opposed to a fruit of that faith, then Sean's point is confirmed by historic reformed orthodoxy.

Wilson (and the rest of the reformed community) say that good works are the fruit of true faith. Wilson (and the rest of the reformed community) do not revise faith to include works as part of the nature of faith itself.

For example, apples are not a tree, and a tree is not an apple. The nature of "apple treeness" does not include apples in its definition. An apple tree can live for years as a sapling without ever bearing apples, and yet it still is an apple tree. However, it is the nature of the apple tree to bear fruit eventually. It is coded into the DNA of the tree itself. The bearing of fruit is NOT what makes it an apple tree, but rather is the natural outgrowth of what that tree is in and of itself, apart from its fruit. --- The nature of faith does not include works as part of its definition. Nevertheless, the nature of faith is such that it eventually WILL bear good fruit. Good works are not part of the definition of faith, but the proclivity toward good works is built into the "DNA" of faith itself. A true faith saves. And true faith will eventually bear fruit. It is within its nature to do so.

Now, good works do not just "maybe" flow from true faith. Rather, good works *definitely* flow from true faith. Thus, it is a true statement that faith and works are inseparable. However, faith and works are not identical.

Wilson DOES say faith and works are inseparably tied together, as has said every other Reformed theologian in history. A faith that doesn't work is not true faith at all, because true faith always bears the fruit of good works.

Wilson does NOT say that faith and works are the same thing.


Originally posted by RAS

Anyways, just thought I'd feebly attempt to spur on the discussion towards clarity. Maybe discussing the nature of faith would help?

(back to the sidelines...)

THANK YOU very much for your contribution to this thread! I agree that the definition of faith is very important.

Ironically, I think the problem is that many opponents of Wilson are the ones who don't engage this argument with enough precision. Too many people mistake the word "inseparable" for "identical", and thereby mistake Protestant theology for Roman Catholic theology. If faith and works are one and the same, then we are talking Roman Catholicism. If faith and works are inseparably tied to one another, then we are talking Protestantism.

Works do not save.
Faith and works are not the same thing.
True faith always works.
True faith always results in salvation.
The faith that works is the same faith that saves.
Justification is by faith alone, but not by the faith that IS alone.




[Edited on 4-7-2006 by biblelighthouse]

[Edited on 4-7-2006 by biblelighthouse]
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sean, thanks for clarifying. I am glad to know that I did understand you. One more question. Assuming you allow the existence of a dead faith, what distinguishes dead faith from living faith?

Of course I allow for the existence of a dead faith, but unlike Wilson who argues that a dead faith is no different from true faith with the exception that it lacks works, I would say a dead faith is no faith at all. The term "œdead faith" is a metaphor. A word picture. Dead faith means lip service -- a feigned faith; the faith of a hypocrite. It is a person who says he believes, but really doesn´t. Who claims to assent to the truth of the Gospel, but does not. Remember, per Wilson, hypocrites are Christians and by their baptism they are the recipients of ALL the benefits of the Covenant (except obviously for the gift of faith and salvation). Amazingly and according to Wilson, "œboth the true and false son are brought into the same relation." Wilson doesn´t understand that the phrase "faithless Christian" is a contradiction in terms, and a "nominal Christian" is a person who acts like, but is not, a Christian -- the sort of hypocritical church member James discusses in James 2. Wilson denial in his book that there are "nominal Christian" implies that all hypocrites are Christians. But the Bible speaks of "false brethren," "false teachers," and "false prophets," all of whom are nominal Christians.

To restate: for Wilson a person CAN believe the Gospel, assent to the truths of Scripture and Christ´s finished work on their behalf and still be lost. Like those who will one day cry "œLord, Lord" and point to their many outstanding works as evidence of their faith, and of whom Jesus will turn and say "œI never knew you," Wilson also would have us look to our works as evidence of our faith in order to receive our "œfinal justification." Therefore it follows, that belief alone is not enough to justify a man before the bar of divine justice.

I would ask Joseph, as Wilson´s able defender and advocate on these boards (or at least the only one so far with the courage to show his face ;) ), would he "“ or would you, since you´re asking the question -- agree with the following :

. . . James does not see anything wrong with the faith he is talking about. The faith isn´t the problem; the fact it is alone is the problem.

To understand what kind of faith James has in mind, one must avoid the temptation to read something bad into it. This is where the "mere intellectual assent" solution went wrong. Its advocates correctly identified verse 19 as the key to understanding the faith being discussed, which is intellectual assent. The problems were created by adding the term "mere" to make it sound bad. Leave "mere" off, and the problems vanish. Someone can go around boasting that he intellectually assents to God´s truth (v. 14), prompting James´s need to show that intellectual assent without works is dead and barren (vv. 17, 20, 26). He could offer to show his intellectual assent by his works (v. 18). And he could commend a person for having intellectual assent (v. 19a), while saying that even the demons have it though it doesn´t stop them from shuddering at the prospect of God´s wrath (v. 19b).

Finally, he can speak of how Abraham´s intellectual assent was active with and completed by his works (v. 22) and can conclude that man is not justified by intellectual assent alone (v. 24). James views intellectual assent as good thing ("you do well," v. 19a), but not as a thing that will save us by itself (vv. 14, 17, 20, 24, 26).

You also asked:

For Wilson, from your quoting of him, it seems to be that one is assent and another is assent plus something. How would you distinguish the demonic belief from the believer's belief?

Let´s make sure we first agree with what Wilson is saying and that the assent plus something else which makes faith saving is an assent plus works; "œThe works of which he is speaking are works that spring from faith and are the expression of faith . . . Without them [works done by faith] no man can inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21). " Do we agree?

Just an aside, it´s also important to note that Gal. 5:21 does not say anything at all what Wilson claims. What the verse states is; "œ. . . envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Wilson´s inference is invalid. The verse does not say nor does it imply that works done by faith are necessary in order to inherit the kingdom of God. Wilson doesn´t understand the alien righteousness of Christ; the righteousness of faith. In his sensate and "œphotographical" religion Wilson can only understand what he can see with the eyes in his head and that´s pretty doubtful too.

Anyway, I just want to make sure we´re on the same page before we can discus demonic theology, which is, after all, what I thought we´ve been discussing all along.

[Edited on 4-7-2006 by Magma2]
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
That being said, I think the discussion would progress better if a focus on the definition/nature of faith would be given by Joseph and Sean.

I'm in agreement with Gordon Clark who defines faith as an assent to understood propositions. I think the addition of trust or "œfiducia" as a third component which is supposed to make faith "œsaving" is to, in essence, define the word faith with itself (since one of the synonym for belief per my thesaurus is trust) and adds nothing to the definition or to our understanding of what faith is. I would strongly recommend anyone interested to read Clark´s "œWhat is Saving Faith," even if only to see the profound confusion that has been the result of adding this third and mostly undefined element which is supposed to make ordinary belief salvific. OTOH, my hat is off to Wilson who is very clear in what he means by "œfiducia," even to the destruction of the Gospel.
 

Dan....

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by Magma2


. . . James does not see anything wrong with the faith he is talking about. The faith isn´t the problem; the fact it is alone is the problem.

To understand what kind of faith James has in mind, one must avoid the temptation to read something bad into it. This is where the "mere intellectual assent" solution went wrong. Its advocates correctly identified verse 19 as the key to understanding the faith being discussed, which is intellectual assent. The problems were created by adding the term "mere" to make it sound bad. Leave "mere" off, and the problems vanish. Someone can go around boasting that he intellectually assents to God´s truth (v. 14), prompting James´s need to show that intellectual assent without works is dead and barren (vv. 17, 20, 26). He could offer to show his intellectual assent by his works (v. 18). And he could commend a person for having intellectual assent (v. 19a), while saying that even the demons have it though it doesn´t stop them from shuddering at the prospect of God´s wrath (v. 19b).

Finally, he can speak of how Abraham´s intellectual assent was active with and completed by his works (v. 22) and can conclude that man is not justified by intellectual assent alone (v. 24). James views intellectual assent as good thing ("you do well," v. 19a), but not as a thing that will save us by itself (vv. 14, 17, 20, 24, 26).

Sean,

Who wrote this quote?

[Edited on 4-7-2006 by Dan....]
 

MICWARFIELD

Puritan Board Freshman
Thats funny. That quote is from James, an old friend of mine. I havent seen him in a few years. I've been meaning to get back in touch with him. He is VERY into trying to convert protestants into Catholics. He is very well studied. He definately drove me to search the scriptures. (Sorry for getting off subject.)
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Of course I allow for the existence of a dead faith, but unlike Wilson who argues that a dead faith is no different from true faith with the exception that it lacks works, I would say a dead faith is no faith at all. The term "œdead faith" is a metaphor. A word picture. Dead faith means lip service -- a feigned faith; the faith of a hypocrite. It is a person who says he believes, but really doesn´t. Who claims to assent to the truth of the Gospel, but does not.
So dead faith is merely the insincere profession of a hypocrite, or the sincere but deluded profession of a self-deceived person? How would that then tie in to James' statement that the devils believe? I ask again, knowing that you asked me to answer another question first, viz, this one:
Let´s make sure we first agree with what Wilson is saying and that the assent plus something else which makes faith saving is an assent plus works; "œThe works of which he is speaking are works that spring from faith and are the expression of faith . . . Without them [works done by faith] no man can inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21). " Do we agree?

I am not sure if we agree, because I am not sure I understand you --and clarifying in what sense the demons can be said to believe would help me to do so, I think. I gathered from your statement above that Wilson's view is this:
Assent plus works is saving.
Joseph, of course, believes that you are wrong. He thinks, if I understand him correctly, that Wilson is saying this:
Saving faith always produces works.
Of course, you and Wilson disagree on the question of whether dead faith is merely professed faith without true belief, or whether it is intellectual assent simpliciter

While I'm at it, I would like to ask Joseph again, as it kind of got buried in a flurry of posts. Between the statements that, A. justification is on the basis of faith or B. justification is through faith which would you choose?

[Edited on 4-8-2006 by py3ak]
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
So dead faith is merely the insincere profession of a hypocrite, or the sincere but deluded profession of a self-deceived person?

I don´t see that it matters, in both cases the profession is a false one.

How would that then tie in to James' statement that the devils believe?

This is what Calvin says: "œ. . . it would be ridiculous were any one to say, that the devils have faith; and James prefers them in this respect to hypocrites."œ Can you guess what Calvin would say about Wilson? ;)

:
Let´s make sure we first agree with what Wilson is saying and that the assent plus something else which makes faith saving is an assent plus works; "œThe works of which he is speaking are works that spring from faith and are the expression of faith . . . Without them [worksdone by faith] no man can inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21). " Do we agree?

I am not sure if we agree, because I am not sure I understand you --and clarifying in what sense the demons can be said to believe would help me to do so, I think. I gathered from your statement above that Wilson's view is this:
Assent plus works is saving.
Joseph, of course, believes that you are wrong. He thinks, if I understand him correctly, that Wilson is saying this:
Saving faith always produces works.
Of course, you and Wilson disagree on the question of whether dead faith is merely professed faith without true belief, or whether it is intellectual assent simpliciter

Well, Ruben, it´s hard for me to see any qualitative difference between the argument against justification by faith alone in the quote I provided from Catholic Answers and in the selection I provided from Wilson´s blog. Also, there is nothing "œmere" about assent and in Wilson´s case its addition is an unnecessary rhetorical device. Wilson doesn´t understand what´s entailed in assent and he evidently can get a lot of milage out of the ignorance of many. If you can find any substantial disagreement between the argument presented by these men, let me know? Look at them again:

Wilson: "œThe demons also, he says, have that sort of faith, and yet evidently they are not saved (James 2:19)."

Catholic Answers : Someone can go around boasting that he intellectually assents to God´s truth (v. 14), prompting James´s need to show that intellectual assent without works is dead and barren (vv. 17, 20, 26). He could offer to show his intellectual assent by his works (v. 18). And he could commend a person for having intellectual assent (v. 19a), while saying that even the demons have it though it doesn´t stop them from shuddering at the prospect of God´s wrath (v. 19b).

Wilson: "œThe answer is perfectly plain. The faith which James is condemning is a mere intellectual assent which has no effect upon conduct."

Catholic Answers : James does not see anything wrong with the faith he is talking about. The faith isn´t the problem; the fact it is alone is the problem.

Wilson : "œWhat Paul means by faith . . . is not . . . intellectual assent to certain propositions, but an attitude of the entire man by which the whole life is entrusted to Christ . . . Faith working through love" is the key to an understanding both of Paul and James. The faith about which Paul has been speaking is not the idle faith which James condemns, but a faith that works.

Catholic Answers: "œFinally, he can speak of how Abraham´s intellectual assent was active with and completed by his works (v. 22) and can conclude that man is not justified by intellectual assent alone (v. 24)."

Both Wilson and Rome deny that belief alone in the understood propositions of the Gospel are enough to save a man or is what makes faith "œsaving." Even if we disregard "œassent simpliciter" everyone should see that both assert that the addition of works done by faith are what make faith "œcomplete" or saving. So, for our purposes here, I could care less what Joseph thinks concerning what Wilson has written. If you can´t see that Wilson and Rome are in agreement concerning James and the nature of saving faith, then I frankly can´t see how I would have any better chance in answering your questions then I was in addressing Joseph´s many objections. I will just be wasting my time and yours.

However, since so many seem so patently blind to the thinly veiled false gospel promulgated by Wilson and his allies, it gives me even less hope that God will cause men to rise up and throw these base heretics out of our ranks. Actually, if they would all leave and join Wilson´s denomination that would be a great blessing, but of course they won´t. I think perhaps the only solution is the one offered by Paul Elliot in his book, Christianity and Neo-Liberalism, which can be summed up; "œcome out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord . . . ."
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Sean,

Thanks again for your reply. I feel like I am slowly making some headway in understanding where different people are coming from on this whole issue. I grant you that Catholic Answers and Wilson sound very similar. But I wonder if there isn't a subtle difference at this point?
Even if we disregard "œassent simpliciter" everyone should see that both assert that the addition of works done by faith are what make faith "œcomplete" or saving.
With Catholic Answers that does seem extremely clear. With Wilson's statements it seems possible that there is still one other possibility. According to Catholic Answers it is the addition of works to faith that makes faith saving. I think Wilson may be saying that is the character of saving faith to work. Obviously, they agree in taking "faith" in James 2 to refer to assent. But in one case the point would be: without works faith is not saving, because works are essential to justification, whereas in the other case it would be: without works faith is not saving, because genuine faith is a living, busy active faith, and the lack of works demonstrates the falsity of the faith, without the works being in any sense the grounds or instrument of justification.
Does that make any sense?
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
I have been ignorant throughout most of this discussion . . . ignorant about Sean Gerety, that is.

I finally realized that Sean co-wrote a book with John Robbins.

No wonder this discussion is going nowhere!

I will still respond to some of the posts above, as I have time, just because other people are reading this thread. But no longer will I attempt to change Sean's mind. If he is comfortable working with John Robbins, then it is a waste of time for me to try to convince him of anything whatsoever.


Frankly, I would consider it an HONOR to be anathematized by John Robbins! If John ever bothers to call me a heretic, I will gladly find a link to where he does so, and I will proudly display the link on my website. My opinion is that Robbins is a nut; and I categorically ignore what he has to say.


I am amazed that anyone would want to write a book with John Robbins.

However, I do hope Sean is better than Robbins. I guess only time will tell.



[Edited on 4-8-2006 by biblelighthouse]
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by py3ak
Sean,

Thanks again for your reply. I feel like I am slowly making some headway in understanding where different people are coming from on this whole issue. I grant you that Catholic Answers and Wilson sound very similar. But I wonder if there isn't a subtle difference at this point?
Even if we disregard "œassent simpliciter" everyone should see that both assert that the addition of works done by faith are what make faith "œcomplete" or saving.
With Catholic Answers that does seem extremely clear. With Wilson's statements it seems possible that there is still one other possibility. According to Catholic Answers it is the addition of works to faith that makes faith saving. I think Wilson may be saying that is the character of saving faith to work. Obviously, they agree in taking "faith" in James 2 to refer to assent. But in one case the point would be: without works faith is not saving, because works are essential to justification, whereas in the other case it would be: without works faith is not saving, because genuine faith is a living, busy active faith, and the lack of works demonstrates the falsity of the faith, without the works being in any sense the grounds or instrument of justification.
Does that make any sense?


:amen: :ditto: :amen:


AMEN, Ruben! You understand it!!

Your excellent input definitely makes this thread worthwhile. THANK YOU for taking part in this discussion, Ruben!

You have stated Wilson's position PERFECTLY, in my opinion. And you have done an excellent job of demonstrating why Wilson's view is TOTALLY different from Rome's view.

A+ superb! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!


:sing:


Your brother in Christ,
Joseph
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Ruben put it better than I did! In a nutshell:

"the lack of works demonstrates the falsity of the faith, without the works being in any sense the grounds or instrument of justification."

:amen:
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Joseph,

An attempt to discredit what has been said regarding Doug Wilson by appealing to a relationship to John Robbins is a genetic fallacy.

I realize that many people do not care for Mr. Robbins, but that does not invalidate the issues he raises against FV.

Would you make the same arguments against R. Scott Clark, Calvin Beisner, J. Ligon Duncan, et. al. who also see the serious errors of FV?
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Joseph,

I am glad my statements met with your approval. It seems like the only way to make sense of all parts of what Wilson says.
An interesting point that came up to me was the difference in the ways of reconciling James and Paul. Some do it by stating that they use 'justification' in a different sense and others by stating that they use 'faith' in a different sense. I think it might be a profitable discussion to hash out that difference (maybe in another thread). What is the evidence for different meanings to justification as opposed to different meanings for faith?

It has also caused me to wonder if there are any major splits among Gordon Clark followers? Van Til seems to have left at least two threads; did Clark leave just one, represented by Mr. Robbins? Or is there someone who feels that Robbins does not understand Clark?
 

Casey

Puritan Board Junior
Well, I just finished reading this whole thread -- I find it interesting that Wilson's Credo on Justification cannot, on its own, settle the matter. Is not a creed written for the express purpose of being clear? If so, Wilson has failed in this respect . . in my humble opinion.

And he certainly manifested a strange twist in it:
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. (Bold = mine)
This is strange and novel (do I really have to say that?). The condition had little to do with believing and everything to do with obeying. Well, obeying involves believing, too . . this is true (as the first table of the Commandments makes clear). But, it wasn't merely that he believe, he had to obey!
Adam was a recipient of grace, and thus, the sin that plunged our race into death was a revolt against grace.
Wilson seems to confuse creation and covenant here. On account of God having created Adam, he had to believe he existed, and he had to obey God with a personal, perpetual, and perfect obedience -- even without the covenant!

The goodness of God (note: not the grace of God) is manifest in the "voluntary condescension." The point? Man always owed God obedience, but now God promised to bless that already-owed obedience! This is what expresses the goodness of God.

So, Adam would have merited eternal life ex pacto, on account of the covenant. It wasn't that his works were inherently valuable, but that God was pleased, by "voluntary condescension" to attach a promised blessing to that obedience.

This is exactly what the Confession says (7.1): The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

So, to call this a covenant of "creational grace" seems rather silly to me. His definition of this strikingly different covenant from the one the Confession describes. It denies that Adam could have obeyed on his own merits, and seems to confuse grace (prelapsarian/postlapsarian grace?). I am just unclear with what he means by "grace" here. How is God's grace to Adam any different from his grace towards us in Christ? Is Wilson differentiating the two?
The second covenant is a covenant of redemptive grace. The thing that the two covenants have in common is grace, not works.
No, he's not. That's what makes it confusing. Apparently grace is grace, and the same grace was in the first covenant that manifests itself in the second . . ?
"œPerfect and personal obedience," even for an unfallen man, is not possible unless he trusts in God´s goodness and grace.
Wilson here seems rather clearly to deny the fourfold state of grace taught explicitly in the Confession's chapter on Free Will. I quote the Confession (9.2): Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God; but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.

For Wilson, apparently Adam didn't have this power? Of course he had to obey God and believe in him, but is such the basis of his power to obey? No, the power to obey was not contingent on his obedience, but on the way God had created him. Strangely, it seems like Wilson is saying "Adam's obedience is based on his obedience." (Yes, in his Credo he quotes from WCF 19.1, but he seems to deny this . . he's trying to ride the fence, it seems.)
The condition for keeping this covenant is the same as the first, although the circumstances are different. The condition always is to believe God.
Wait a second. If, according to Wilson, grace was required in the Covenant of Works to enable Adam for obedience in order to obey that covenant . . And the conditions of both covenants are the same (obedience, I suppose?), then in the Covenant of Grace is God merely giving the same sort of grace he gave in the Covenant of Works to Adam? Is God merely enabling us to obey? This seems to be what Wilson is saying (but, it's very possible I'm misunderstanding him).
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).
Seems to me he's trying to sit on that fence again. He's denying what he just tried to prove. Grace enables Adam for obedience. It's the same grace and same condition in the Covenant of Works as in the Covenant of Redemption. God enables us for obedience, by his grace, in the Covenant of Grace.

Am I reading him wrong? (Disclaimer: I have read very little of Wilson's other works, and am merely discussing on the basis of his Credo quoted at the beginning of this thread . . which I supposed should be clear enough to make his point.)
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Casey,

I agree that Wilson seems very confused on the Covenant of Works. Smuggling grace into that covenant seems to be precisely what the Westminster divines were trying not to do. And I think that lack of understanding does play out into the rest of what he says. Of course, I am not a Wilson expert. I recently download Reformed Is Not Enough but so far have found it deeply boring.
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel

I realize that many people do not care for Mr. Robbins, but that does not invalidate the issues he raises against FV.

Would you make the same arguments against R. Scott Clark, Calvin Beisner, J. Ligon Duncan, et. al. who also see the serious errors of FV?

Whereas I do not respect Robbins much, I certainly DO respect Clark, Duncan, etc.

However, I think their interpretive errors regarding the FV are just as grave. They miss the point just as badly as Robbins does. McMahon totally misses Wilson's point as well. And I highly respect McMahon!

The question keeps coming up: "Could all of these great theologians be wrong?"

The plain answer is: YES!! They are all wrong. They do not understand what Wilson is saying. And I do understand what Wilson is saying.


If I were to explain Federal Vision theology, FV people would themselves agree that I have respresented them correctly.

But when McMahon, Duncan, Robbins, Clark, etc. attempt to explain Federal Theology, the FV people plainly point out that they have not been well-understood AT ALL.


Wilson does NOT believe in justification by faith + works. He believes in justification by faith alone.

Wilson DOES agree that Adam had to be PERFECTLY obedient in the Garden of Eden, in order to avoid the fall. So what's the huge stink? We are free to disagree with him regarding whether Adam could "merit" anything. But numerous (though certainly not all) Reformed theologians have questioned the place of "merit" in the Garden of Eden too, so even if Wilson is wrong, he is NOT outside the pale of orthodoxy.

Wilson does NOT believe that ex opere operato *salvific* grace is conferred through the sacraments. If a person is baptized and/or partakes of the Lord's Supper, that does NOT automatically make that person right with Christ. Wilson is no Roman Catholic.

Wilson uses phrases like "baptismal regeneration", that make us uncomfortable. And frankly, it may be unwise for him to throw such phrases around. Nevertheless, he means something very different by that phrase that Roman Catholics do. Let Wilson define *himself*, and his discomforting language suddenly proves itself to be nothing resembing a scandal.

You may not like Wilson's paedocommunion. But I do! And so would Augustine, Cyprian, G.I. Williamson, Vern Poythress . . .


At the end of the day, Wilson has said nothing that hasn't been said by other Reformed theologians. Wilson just says things in a way that gets people's feathers ruffled. Maybe Wilson goes too far with this. On the other hand, there are probably some people who need their feathers ruffled! But in any case, regardless of any agreements or disagreements, we should ALWAYS give a brother the benefit of the doubt, and do everything we can to TRY to understand him in a way that does NOT suggest "heresy".

Far too many Reformed Theologians are "heresy hunters", just looking for someone to verbally burn at the stake. And THIS error is FAR WORSE that ANY doctrinal error Wilson may or may not have. Heresy hunting is a SIN.

We should always assume the best, not the worst, and we should dialogue carefully with a brother, LONG before we finally toss in the towel and write off a brother as being an apostate heretic. I think Christ is *ashamed* of Robbins, McMahon, Duncan, Gerety, Clark, and anyone else who has jumped on the "FV is heresy" bandwagon. The body of Christ is hurt FAR worse by such slander, than it is hurt by any error the FV may have to offer. The distance between "FV" and "heresy" is so great that only a quick-tempered and uncharitable person would openly proclaim that the FV people are "going to hell", without having first had the courtesy to dialogue *directly* with them to make sure they have been *clearly* understood.
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
McMahon said:

Take note of the Scriptures, especially on serious issues - Proverbs 29:20, "Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Such is the case when critiques are sent out that are unfair, or hasty in response.

:amen:

That is EXCELLENT advice! I wish Robbins, Gerety, McMahon, Clark, Duncan, etc. would FOLLOW that advice regarding the FV!

I would be very interested to hear, for example, how much time ANY of these men spent dialoging *directly* with Doug Wilson?

Early on, I spent a little time dialoging with Wilson's office, because there were some things I heard that truly concerned me. But my few questions were quickly cleared up quite to my satisfaction. --- And sadly, it is my genuine assumption that many of the men listed above didn't give Wilson the same courtesy.

If I am wrong, then please correct me. If any of these men spent some serious time dialoging directly with Wilson before publicly blasting him, then I would be glad to hear that at least an attempt was made.
 

Casey

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian
Am I reading him wrong? (Disclaimer: I have read very little of Wilson's other works, and am merely discussing on the basis of his Credo quoted at the beginning of this thread . . which I supposed should be clear enough to make his point.)
Joseph, do you think I have misread Wilson's Credo on Justification?
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian
Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian
Am I reading him wrong? (Disclaimer: I have read very little of Wilson's other works, and am merely discussing on the basis of his Credo quoted at the beginning of this thread . . which I supposed should be clear enough to make his point.)
Joseph, do you think I have misread Wilson's Credo on Justification?


-------------------- My response: -------------------


Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian
Well, I just finished reading this whole thread -- I find it interesting that Wilson's Credo on Justification cannot, on its own, settle the matter. Is not a creed written for the express purpose of being clear? If so, Wilson has failed in this respect . . in my humble opinion.

Personally, I think Wilson´s Credo on Justification is perfectly clear. I don´t have any difficulty understanding it (that I know of). However, I must respect the fact that Wilson´s Credo is not clear to you. No one can argue with that.


Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian

And he certainly manifested a strange twist in it:
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. (Bold = mine)
This is strange and novel (do I really have to say that?). The condition had little to do with believing and everything to do with obeying. Well, obeying involves believing, too . . this is true (as the first table of the Commandments makes clear). But, it wasn't merely that he believe, he had to obey!

Wilson agrees 100% that Adam had to obey. A couple sentences after your quotation, Wilson does make it clear that "œPerfect and personal obedience" was required of Adam. Wilson´s only qualification is that "œeven for an unfallen man, is not possible unless he trusts in God´s goodness and grace."

In other words, Wilson is not belaboring the point about the necessity of Adam´s perfect obedience in the original covenant, because it is a given. We all 100% agree on that. Wilson´s focus, therefore, is elsewhere. While he agrees that Adam had to perfectly obey, he wants to stress the point that perfect obedience was ONLY possible via a gift from God. And since this gift from God was undeserved, it can properly be called "œgrace". The word "œgrace" does not have to be used in the context of sin. It is a word that can be properly used *anytime* that a person is given something he has not earned. It simply means "œunmerited favor".

I recently got an email from Mike Lawyer, an assistant of Doug Wilson. He was challenging my view of the Covenant of Works. He said:

Just so you know, as I think you already do, Doug is all about grace. He´s all about receiving gracious things by faith. Not even Adam could have earned what cannot be earned. Salvation has always been a gift of God to undeserving people. For Adam it would have been a gift to a man who never sinned, for us it is a gift to people who are sinners by nature.

I believe this quote from Doug Wilson´s assistant is the same thing we would hear from Doug Wilson´s mouth if he were to participate in this discussion.

There is a similarity: Adam received grace. And we receive grace.

There is also a difference: Adam received grace in a sinless state. But we receive grace in a sinful state. God has to condescend much further to offer us grace, than He did for Adam.


Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian


Adam was a recipient of grace, and thus, the sin that plunged our race into death was a revolt against grace.

Wilson seems to confuse creation and covenant here. On account of God having created Adam, he had to believe he existed, and he had to obey God with a personal, perpetual, and perfect obedience -- even without the covenant!

Where do you see the word "œcovenant" in Wilson´s quote you give here?

Even if you take the covenant totally out of the picture, Wilson´s argument still remains coherent. He is arguing thus: Adam did not deserve to be created in the first place. It was gracious for God to even give him his very existence. And if God gave him the natural ability to retain perfect holiness, this was a gracious gift as well, which Adam did not and could not have earned. Thus, covenant or no covenant, Adam´s very existence was necessarily in a state of grace "“ having received unmerited favor from his Creator.

Thus, in this particular part of Wilson´s quote, I think any focus on the covenant itself is not necessary in order to understand Wilson´s thinking.


Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian

The goodness of God (note: not the grace of God) is manifest in the "voluntary condescension." The point? Man always owed God obedience, but now God promised to bless that already-owed obedience! This is what expresses the goodness of God.

Arguing from Wilson´s position, I think a person would have to say that your statement here just moves the question one step back. After all, did Adam *earn* or *merit* this reception of "œthe goodness of God"? Did Adam inherently *deserve* for God to create him and to be infinitely good to him? If not, then the word "œgrace" is still appropriate.


Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian

So, Adam would have merited eternal life ex pacto, on account of the covenant. It wasn't that his works were inherently valuable, but that God was pleased, by "voluntary condescension" to attach a promised blessing to that obedience.

When you say, "œIt wasn´t that his works were inherently valuable", you argue strongly for Wilson´s point. You admit that Adam could not truly merit anything before God.

Then you go on to say that God voluntarily condescended to attach a promised blessing to the obedience. I think Wilson would heartily agree with you! But note your use of the phrase "˜voluntary condescension´. If it was "œvoluntary", then it must not have been *required* by strict (merit-based) justice. If it was a genuine "œcondescension", then it must not have been intrinsically *required* by strict (merit-based) justice. In other words, you are saying that Adam did not deserve for God to make this promise to him as a reward for obedience. Thus, you are saying that God was *gracious* to offer a reward in return for obedience.

In short, you are saying that Adam could merit salvation from God, but *only* because God was *gracious* enough to put him in that position of ability.

Now, that would be a funny way to state it. But it appears to me that this is just what you have said, Casey. So we need to get rid of that word "œmerit", or we need to get rid of the word "œgracious", or we need to get over it. Those are our three options.


Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian

This is exactly what the Confession says (7.1): The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

:amen:

I love that part of the WCF. Do you think Wilson disagrees with anything in that paragraph at all? If so, what?

Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian

So, to call this a covenant of "creational grace" seems rather silly to me. His definition of this strikingly different covenant from the one the Confession describes. It denies that Adam could have obeyed on his own merits,

How is his understanding different from the Confession?

Even if Adam could have obeyed totally on his own, where did he get this ability? Did he get this ability on his own, or did God create him with this ability? Of course, we would say that God created him with this ability. Well, did Adam *earn* the right to be created with this ability? Did Adam *merit* his own creation? Clearly, it would be silly to suggest that a yet-uncreated-being can merit *anything* from God. God was gracious to give Adam existence in His image. Adam didn´t deserve to be created like that!

Adam didn´t merit the right to be created any more than a baby merits the right to be conceived.

Life is a gracious gift from God. You can´t earn physical life any more than you can earn spiritual life.


Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian

and seems to confuse grace (prelapsarian/postlapsarian grace?). I am just unclear with what he means by "grace" here. How is God's grace to Adam any different from his grace towards us in Christ? Is Wilson differentiating the two?

The second covenant is a covenant of redemptive grace. The thing that the two covenants have in common is grace, not works.

No, he's not. That's what makes it confusing. Apparently grace is grace, and the same grace was in the first covenant that manifests itself in the second . . ?


There is a similarity: Adam received grace. And we receive grace.

There is also a difference: Adam received grace in a sinless state. But we receive grace in a sinful state. God has to condescend much further to offer us grace, than He did for Adam. God only had to condescend down to a perfect man then. But He now condescends all the way down to fallen men, who are infinitely lower than Adam initially was.


Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian

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

Wilson here seems rather clearly to deny the fourfold state of grace taught explicitly in the Confession's chapter on Free Will. I quote the Confession (9.2): Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God; but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.

For Wilson, apparently Adam didn't have this power? Of course he had to obey God and believe in him, but is such the basis of his power to obey? No, the power to obey was not contingent on his obedience, but on the way God had created him.

But did Adam *merit* being created that way? Did Adam *deserve* to be created with such an awesome ability? If not, then we still come back to the same fact of unmerited favor (grace) existing before the fall.


Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian

The condition for keeping this covenant is the same as the first, although the circumstances are different. The condition always is to believe God.

Wait a second. If, according to Wilson, grace was required in the Covenant of Works to enable Adam for obedience in order to obey that covenant . . And the conditions of both covenants are the same (obedience, I suppose?), then in the Covenant of Grace is God merely giving the same sort of grace he gave in the Covenant of Works to Adam? Is God merely enabling us to obey? This seems to be what Wilson is saying (but, it's very possible I'm misunderstanding him).

I don´t think that is where Wilson is trying to go.

First of all, there is a difference. While God gives grace both to Adam and to us, it is very significant to note that God´s condescension is MUCH farther now than it was then. So in one sense, grace is much bigger now, because it lifts us so much farther (because we start out so much lower than Adam.) The *quality* of the grace is the same, but the *extent* of the grace has to be much greater for us, in order to lift us out from the deep pit of sin we are in.

Second of all, any Reformed theologian worth his salt DOES say that perfect sinless obedience is just as much a requirement for us as it was for Adam. But in our case, Christ keeps that requirement for us. Thank God that there is a Savior for us! But the presence of the Savior in no way removes that fact that perfect obedience is still required. The legal stipulations of the covenant aren´t any lighter for us than for Adam . . . it´s just that in our case there is someone else who meets the conditions for us, rather than we having to meet those conditions ourselves.


Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian

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).

Seems to me he's trying to sit on that fence again. He's denying what he just tried to prove. Grace enables Adam for obedience. It's the same grace and same condition in the Covenant of Works as in the Covenant of Redemption. God enables us for obedience, by his grace, in the Covenant of Grace.

Wilson is arguing that there is grace in both covenants. But he is not arguing that grace operates in precisely the same way in both covenants.

I think Wilson is saying this:

for Adam:
God´s grace enabled Adam to obey.

for you and me:
God´s grace provided Christ to die in our place.
God´s grace provided Christ to obey in our place.
God´s grace caused us to trust in Christ.


I do not think Wilson is making both covenants the same. He sees most of the same distinctions that you and I see between them. He is just arguing that the presence of grace is NOT one of the distinctions.

Obedience was required of Adam.
Trust in Christ´s obedience is required of us.
But in both cases, only God´s grace could bring about the good result.

Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian

Am I reading him wrong? (Disclaimer: I have read very little of Wilson's other works, and am merely discussing on the basis of his Credo quoted at the beginning of this thread . . which I supposed should be clear enough to make his point.)

I don´t think you are anywhere near the error of those who anathematize Wilson. I think your understanding of Wilson´s Credo might have been a lot clearer if you had spent a lot of time reading other writings by Wilson. But since you have not done this, I think you raised some fair questions. I hope I understand Wilson correctly, and I hope I have helped clear up some of your questions about what Wilson is really saying. Please let me know whether I have succeeded or failed in this case.



Casey, thank you for participating in this discussion, and THANK YOU for your EXCELLENT attitude!!


Your brother in Christ,
Joseph




[Edited on 4-9-2006 by biblelighthouse]
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
While we are on the topic of grace vs. merit, I would like to share some interesting quotes with you:



John Calvin openly complained about the word "merit", saying, "œI wish that Christian writers had always exercised such restraint as not to take it into their heads needlessly to use such terms foreign to Scripture that would produce great offense and very little fruit" (Institutes 3.15.2.). Regarding Christ he writes, "œIt is absurd to set Christ´s merit against God´s mercy"¦Apart from God´s good pleasure Christ could not merit anything" (Institutes 2.17.1.).

Of Adam´s position in the garden of Eden, Turretin wrote, "œAdam"¦would not have merited life in strict justice, although (through a certain condescension) God promised him by a covenant life under the condition of perfect obedience" (Institutes 17.5.7.).

Anthony Burgess (A Westminster delegate) could say of the pre-fall situation, "œthough it were a Covenant of Works, it cannot be said to be a covenant of merit" (Quoted in Garver's essay, "œThe Covenant of Works in the Reformed Tradition," available at http://www.joelgarver.com).

Theologian without number could be multiplied that made these same reservations. . . .

Rowland Ward, who has probably amassed a greater amount of resources than any other recent historian regarding the Reformed doctrine of the covenant of works, has argued that its administration was almost always seen as gracious, and its rewards as unmerited (See his recent God and Adam).
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Originally posted by fredtgreco
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.

If Wilson is being 'cute', and knows the difference between orthodoxy and illicit in regards to justification, shame on him for being cryptic to the confusion of Gods saints! Personally, I know that Wilson knows the difference; sitting on the fence for the sake of being contemprary is just plain irresponsible, not at all cute. The overseeing body here on this forum is the RPCGA; Federal Vision is heresy. As has been said before, Wilson has elbowed up to the discipline; if he does not embrace it, it would behoove him to come out and say so, so as not to endanger Gods people whom look to his wisdom; I won't hold my
breath.........

Joseph,
The board has no official rule per se on discussing Wilson. However, we are against components of the discussions that promote the heresy. Draw the line as you see fit, but be cautios as we will be watching.

[Edited on 4-9-2006 by Scott Bushey]
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Scott Bushey

If Wilson is being 'cute', and knows the difference between orthodoxy and illicit in regards to justification, shame on him for being cryptic to the confusion of Gods saints!

Wilson is not cryptic. He has said nothing unorthodox concerning justification. He believes in sola fide like you and me. There just happen to be a number of people (such as yourself) who have a "Ready, Fire, Aim" mentality. Instead of being responsible, you just lambast your opponent before you even bother to understand what he's saying.

If you knew what Wilson taught, you wouldn't say the things that you do. You've just managed to build a straw-man you enjoy attacking, and you named it "Douglas Wilson". But Wilson himself doesn't believe at all like the straw-man you have erected.

In short, your characture of him is false.

Originally posted by Scott Bushey

The overseeing body here on this forum is the RPCGA; Federal Vision is heresy. . . .

The board has no official rule per se on discussing Wilson. However, we are against components of the discussions that promote the heresy.

Shame on you (and the RPCGA micro-denomination) for calling it heresy! It is an in-house debate, and all of us are free to disagree with it. But until you can state the FV position in a way which THEY would agree with, then you have no business critiquing it.

Understand them first. THEN you can decide whether they are orthodox or not.

Originally posted by Scott Bushey

Draw the line as you see fit, but be cautios as we will be watching.

Nice threat. Am I supposed to be impressed? You're basically saying, "Slander the same people we do, or we'll kick you out of our little club." Please. Grow up!

You can kick me off the board if you want, but what would it prove? . . . that you have the keys to the PB kingdom, and so I'll only be able to play in the land of BibleLighthouse and Monergism.com? Believe me, I am not the only person on the PB who has observed the irresponsible, nonsensical, and arbitrary ways you have gone about kicking people off the board in the past. So banning me merely because I say the FV is an in-house debate will merely serve to solidify this opinion in the minds of many, both on this board and off. I do not promote the FV, so what are you so worried about? It would really tick you off to meet all the FV advocates in heaven, wouldn't it?

I have not been promoting the FV on this thread. Nor do I have any desire to do so. So you and your buddies can rest easy.

I don't promote Lutheranism, but I will certainly step up to the plate to defend Lutherans against charges of heresy.

I don't promote Arminianism, but I will certainly step up to the plate to defend Arminians against the charges of heresy.

I don't promote Congregationalism, but I will certainly step up to the plate to defend non-Presbyterians against the charges of heresy.

etc., etc., etc. . . . .

The Federal Vision is no different. I am no more a Federal Visionist than I am a Lutheran or an Episcopalian. But if you dare to call Lutheranism a heresy, or Arminianism a heresy, or FV a heresy, etc., then you are guilty of slander, and you make yourself an enemy of Christ's church. Unity with brothers who differ with us does FAR more to further the cause of Christ than does the hurling of petty anathemas.



Check out some of the recent threads on Arminianism. I have defended the Arminians. I have made it clear that they ARE Christians and they ARE going to Heaven despite their error. I gladly fight for them, and I defend them against charges of heresy, even though I personally disagree with them VERY strongly. I am a hard-nosed dyed-in-the-wool 5-point Calvinist. But that doesn't keep me from defending the Arminians from slanderous charges of heresy.

Likewise, I will defend the FV people from charges of heresy. They ARE Christians, and they ARE going to Heaven, despite any theological error. Their error is not critical to salvation. But my defense of the FV people does not make me a FV-promoter, any more than my defense of Arminians makes me an Arminian.

So please get your categories straight! Just because I say someone is going to Heaven, does NOT mean I agree with that person on all points.





[Edited on 4-9-2006 by biblelighthouse]
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
I am locking this thread, and let me be absolutely clear why:

Some of the comments made here violate the rules of the Puritanboard, mainly that "all discussion must be done with respect to others." This thread has degenerated to a point where we can no longer debate the intended subject in a civil manner and we can't play nice anymore.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Originally posted by biblelighthouse
Originally posted by Scott Bushey

If Wilson is being 'cute', and knows the difference between orthodoxy and illicit in regards to justification, shame on him for being cryptic to the confusion of Gods saints!

Wilson is not cryptic. He has said nothing unorthodox concerning justification. He believes in sola fide like you and me. There just happen to be a number of people (such as yourself) who have a "Ready, Fire, Aim" mentality. Instead of being responsible, you just lambast your opponent before you even bother to understand what he's saying.

If you knew what Wilson taught, you wouldn't say the things that you do. You've just managed to build a straw-man you enjoy attacking, and you named it "Douglas Wilson". But Wilson himself doesn't believe at all like the straw-man you have erected.

In short, your characture of him is false.

Originally posted by Scott Bushey

The overseeing body here on this forum is the RPCGA; Federal Vision is heresy. . . .

The board has no official rule per se on discussing Wilson. However, we are against components of the discussions that promote the heresy.

Shame on you (and the RPCGA micro-denomination) for calling it heresy! It is an in-house debate, and all of us are free to disagree with it. But until you can state the FV position in a way which THEY would agree with, then you have no business critiquing it.

Understand them first. THEN you can decide whether they are orthodox or not.

Originally posted by Scott Bushey

Draw the line as you see fit, but be cautios as we will be watching.

Nice threat. Am I supposed to be impressed? You're basically saying, "Slander the same people we do, or we'll kick you out of our little club." Please. Grow up!

You can kick me off the board if you want, but what would it prove? . . . that you have the keys to the PB kingdom, and so I'll only be able to play in the land of BibleLighthouse and Monergism.com? Believe me, I am not the only person on the PB who has observed the irresponsible, nonsensical, and arbitrary ways you have gone about kicking people off the board in the past. So banning me merely because I say the FV is an in-house debate will merely serve to solidify this opinion in the minds of many, both on this board and off. I do not promote the FV, so what are you so worried about? It would really tick you off to meet all the FV advocates in heaven, wouldn't it?

I have not been promoting the FV on this thread. Nor do I have any desire to do so. So you and your buddies can rest easy.

I don't promote Lutheranism, but I will certainly step up to the plate to defend Lutherans against charges of heresy.

I don't promote Arminianism, but I will certainly step up to the plate to defend Arminians against the charges of heresy.

I don't promote Congregationalism, but I will certainly step up to the plate to defend non-Presbyterians against the charges of heresy.

etc., etc., etc. . . . .

The Federal Vision is no different. I am no more a Federal Visionist than I am a Lutheran or an Episcopalian. But if you dare to call Lutheranism a heresy, or Arminianism a heresy, or FV a heresy, etc., then you are guilty of slander, and you make yourself an enemy of Christ's church. Unity with brothers who differ with us does FAR more to further the cause of Christ than does the hurling of petty anathemas.



Check out some of the recent threads on Arminianism. I have defended the Arminians. I have made it clear that they ARE Christians and they ARE going to Heaven despite their error. I gladly fight for them, and I defend them against charges of heresy, even though I personally disagree with them VERY strongly. I am a hard-nosed dyed-in-the-wool 5-point Calvinist. But that doesn't keep me from defending the Arminians from slanderous charges of heresy.

Likewise, I will defend the FV people from charges of heresy. They ARE Christians, and they ARE going to Heaven, despite any theological error. Their error is not critical to salvation. But my defense of the FV people does not make me a FV-promoter, any more than my defense of Arminians makes me an Arminian.

So please get your categories straight! Just because I say someone is going to Heaven, does NOT mean I agree with that person on all points.





[Edited on 4-9-2006 by biblelighthouse]

Joseph,
Dordt leveled the charge of heresy to Arminianism; it's historic fact. Is this new stuff for you? No one ever said that that every single Arminian whom ever was born is in hell. If the Arminian is trusting in anything but Christ for their salvation, they have or will assurely perish. To take any other position is contrary to historic reformed thinking. My church and our overseeing body, the "micro denominational" RPCGA calls FedVis heresy. Hence, administratively, this boards position as well.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Sorry I got into this so late - I've been very busy. I would have stopped this a long time ago.

Shame on you (and the RPCGA micro-denomination) for calling it heresy!

The RPCGA is in control of this board.

As already stated, no Federal Vision theology will be propagated on the board.

I'm not sure where you lost sight of that again.

There has been and there is AMPLE theological correspondence between Wilson, Schlissel, Jordan, and others etc., with the orthodox Presbyterian denominations such as the PCA, OPC, RPCGA, RPCNA, URC, and many others who have personally not only contacted these men, but have sat in colloquiums debating with them. One can quickly turn to the published papers of the Knox Seminary Colloquium and find the Federal Vision espousing theological garbage. No simple trite answer is going to overshadow the hundreds of theological papers and thousands of emails that have corresponded between a number of these advocates, and would simply be STUPID to say that one has all the info they need. Personally, I don't even have all that I would like to have in terms of the emailing that went on between Wilson and Phillips for over two years, though I was privy to the information. A credo here or a credo there is not going to clean up the big mess spilled by these guys, and some more blatantly than others. They can't "clarify" what they need to repent of. They first need to repent of their heretical views, and then clarify what they mistakingly said and did not mean. But you will never see that, except God-willing.

In any case, The Federal Vision won't be defended here. Sorry. That the board's official stance.

_______________________________________

As a further note, I recieved this email from an outsider who is watching as well:

_______________________________________

"Well... You can't even keep FV heresy out of your own forum let alone your mainstream Presbyterian churches...
http://www.puritanboard.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=17330&page=2

Look how brazen Joseph Gleason is. Look how petulant in declaring everybody wrong but his - it has to be said - cult leader Doug Wilson. This is a cult-bonded individual you're witnessing. Look how he is turning minds too! Look how they soften people and make their infiltration into minds by degree. Look how they NEVER concede ANYTHING. Look at the ENERGY with which they make their attack.

Of course heresy is taking over the visible churches. I mean the last remaining bastions of biblical doctrine. It's the end times and the devil has the upper hand. Look how you can't even keep it out of your own forum. By the way: havn't you banned numerous people for about an infinity of worse things on your forum?"

__________________________________________

This should cause the posters in the thread to think heartily about what a witness they gave.



[Edited on 4-9-2006 by C. Matthew McMahon]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
John Calvin, On the Subject of "MERIT"

John Calvin: By way of addition this question also should be explained. There are certain perversely subtle men who — even though they confess that we receive salvation through Christ — cannot bear to hear the word “merit,” for they think that it obscures God’s grace. Hence, they would have Christ as a mere instrument or minister, not as the Author or leader and prince of life, as Peter calls him [Acts 3:15]. Indeed, I admit, if anyone would simply set Christ by himself over against God’s judgment, there will be no place for merit. For no worthiness will be found in man to deserve God’s favor. Indeed, as Augustine very truly writes: “The clearest light of predestination and grace is the Man Christ Jesus, the Savior, who brought this to pass by the human nature that was in him, through no preceding merits of works or of faith. Answer me, I beg of you, whence did that man deserve to be the only-begotten Son of God, and to be assumed into unity of person by the Word co-eternal with the Father? We must therefore recognize our Head as the very foundation of grace — a grace that is diffused from him through all his members according to the measure of each. Everyone is made a Christian from the beginning of his faith by the same grace whereby that Man from his beginning became the Christ.” Likewise, in another passage: “There is no more illustrious example of predestination than the Mediator himself. For he who made righteous this man of the seed of David, never to be unrighteous, without any merit of his will preceding, of unrighteous makes righteous those who are members of that Head,” etc. In discussing Christ’s merit, we do not consider the beginning of merit to be in him, but we go back to God’s ordinance, the first cause. For God solely of his own good pleasure appointed him Mediator to obtain salvation for us.
Hence it is absurd to set ChristÂ’s merit against GodÂ’s mercy. For it is a common rule that a thing subordinate to another is not in conflict with it. For this reason nothing hinders us from asserting that men are freely justified by GodÂ’s mercy alone, and at the same time that ChristÂ’s merit, subordinate to GodÂ’s mercy, also intervenes on our behalf. Both GodÂ’s free favor and ChristÂ’s obedience, each in its degree, are fitly opposed to our works. Apart from GodÂ’s good pleasure Christ could not merit anything; but did so because he had been appointed to appease GodÂ’s wrath with his sacrifice, and to blot out our transgressions with his obedience. To sum up: inasmuch as ChristÂ’s merit depends upon GodÂ’s grace alone, which has ordained this manner of salvation for us, it is just as properly opposed to all human righteousness as GodÂ’s grace is. Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, ed. John T. McNeill and trans. Ford Lewis Battles, (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, reprinted 1977), Book II.17.1, pp. 528-529.

John Calvin: For if righteousness consists in the observance of the law, who will deny that Christ merited favor for us when, by taking that burden upon himself, he reconciled us to God as if we had kept the law? Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, ed. John T. McNeill and trans. Ford Lewis Battles, (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, reprinted 1977), Book II.17.1, pp. 528-529.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Furthermore...

And as for his other quote, deprecating the term "merit", the context is that of putting down any human work as "meritorious.

John Calvin: I must first make these prefatory remarks concerning the term “merit”: whoever first applied it to men’s works over against God’s judgment provided very badly for sincere faith. Of course, I would like to avoid verbal battles, but I wish that Christian writers had always exercised such restraint as not to take it into their heads needlessly to use terms foreign to Scripture that would produce great offense and very little fruit. Why, I ask, was there need to drag in the term “merit” when the value of good works could without offense have been meaningfully explained by another term? How much offense this term contains is clear from the great damage it has done to the world. Surely, as it is a most prideful term, it can do nothing but obscure God’s favor and imbue men with perverse haughtiness.
I admit that the ancient writers of the church commonly used it, and would that they had not given posterity occasion for error by their misuse of one little word! Nevertheless, in some passages they also testify that they did not intend to prejudice the truth. For in one place Augustine speaks thus: “Let human merits, which perished through Adam, here keep silence, and let God’s grace reign through Jesus Christ.” Again: “The saints attribute nothing to their merits; they will attribute all to thy mercy alone, O God.” Again: “And when man sees that all the good that he has, he has not from himself but from his God, he sees that all that is praiseworthy in himself arises not from his own merits but from God’s mercy.” You see that Augustine, when he has denied to man the power of well-doing, also overthrows any worth of merit. Moreover, Chrysostom says: “Our works, if there are any that follow the freely given call of God, are repayment and debt, but God’s gifts are grace and beneficence and great generosity.”
But laying aside the term, let us rather look at the thing itself. Previously, indeed, I cited a statement from Bernard: “As it is sufficient for merit not to presume concerning merit, so to lack merits is sufficient for judgment.” But he immediately adds his interpretation, in which he sufficiently softens the harshness of the utterance by saying: “Accordingly, take care to have merits. When you have them, know that they have been given. Hope for fruit, the mercy of God, and you have escaped all peril of poverty, ungratefulness, and presumption. Happy is the church that lacks neither merits without presumption nor presumption without merits.” And a little before, he had abundantly shown the godly sense in which he had used the word. “For why,” he asks, “should the church concern itself with merits when it has a firmer and more secure reason to glory in God’s purpose? God cannot deny himself; he will do what he has promised [cf. 2 Timothy 2:13]. Thus you have no reason to ask, ‘By what merits may we hope for benefits?’Especially since you hear: ‘It is not for your sake... but for mine’ [Ezekiel 36:22,32 p.]. For merit, it suffices to know that merits do not suffice.” Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, ed. John T. McNeill and trans. Ford Lewis Battles, (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, reprinted 1977), Book III.15.2, pp. 789-790.

Thus, what Calvin wishes had never been was the use of "merit" as any term dealing with sin-tainted human action. It has no bearing on Christ's work or on Adam prior to the fall.

{quotes courtesy of DTK, as usual}

[Edited on 4-10-2006 by Contra_Mundum]
 
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