Frame review of Horton's "Christless Christianity"

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Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Same with 2K, despite the differences of application (i.e. Theocratic among the magisterial reformers, principled pluralism today).
The "differences in application" are directly contradictory theories of civil government. Simply because somebody uses the term "natural law" does not mean that they mean the same thing as the Reformers, or that they agree with them at all. There is a difference between mousish quitude regarding whether sodomites ought to be allowed to marry and a demand that sodomites should surely be put to death. The two theories of natural law have nothing in common, and are therefore not the same thing. This is even true if we examen Luther's theory of "natural law" as it was applied to the civil sphere. He called for the punishment of heretics and idolaters, as did Lutheran theologians for some time afterward. This has nothing to do with modern civil antinomianism, even if the same terms are used.

Cheers,
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
I have appreciated (not uncritically, but pretty generally) the work of Dr. Horton. Such a withering review by a former colleague on the same faculty is beyond the pale. If Horton and Frame need to go out back and whack each other around for a bit, so be it. But this kind of public broadside is unbecoming, embarrassing, and unnecessary.

It sort of reminds me of the academic equivalent of a divorced couple where the one ex-spouse is so bitter that she/he cannot find a positive (or even neutral!) word to say about the other one.
 

Myshkin

Puritan Board Freshman
Regarding what the concern is, I believe Matthew already spelled it out:
The positives of this review are to be found in the criticisms of Horton's view of law, morality, and redemption. I think it can be sustained that Horton is representing more of a Lutheran than Reformed view of the law. He seems to espouse the "gospel of justification alone," with very little concern with the way the gospel changes man in the totality of his life. At this point some of Frame's criticisms are very pointed and well worth pondering in an age when reformed churches are falling prey to the "justification only" gospel.
Don't get me wrong, I love Mike Horton. I consider him a dear Brother in Christ and an important voice for the Gospel of Grace. I also note, however, that the WHI has a problem with some of our Confessional notions where there is an "oughtness" to the Gospel. Romans 6 is as much a part of the Gospel as Romans 8. Both are grounded in what God has accomplished through the power of Christ's death and resurrection for us His own.
Thanks Rich. As to the quote you cite from Matthew, I answered that in my original post with the directive towards the book edited by Horton "Christ the Lord". This book clearly denies what it "seems" Horton is teaching. I guess if one does not focus on/emphasize the law as much as another individual does, then that automatically is grounds for concerns of antinomianism or anti-lordship salvation? Where in the bible is the exact degree of personal law emphasis/focus given for which we can discern whether one is being antinomian? I'm not trying to be feisty here, I just think it is dangerous to think someone else is antinomian if they don't care about the law as much as I do. At that point we are conflating the subjective experience(personal assessment?) with the objective definition of antinomianism. It is one thing to be a practicing antinomian and clearly another to be a theoretical antinomian. And once we get into judging who is a practicing antinomian we start getting into issues of stronger and weaker brothers if the judgements are separated from a proper interpretation of biblical law.

To add to Irish Presbyterian's challenge, certainly there are commands ("oughtness") under the gospel (i.e. the third use of the law), but that is not the same as the gospel itself being a command (which would be a contradiction of terms). I believe law and gospel are not to be confused, nor are they to be separated, but they are to be distinguished. There is an "oughtness" that comes from the gospel (law and gospel are not separated), but it is not gospel itself that commands (law and gospel are distinguished and not confused).

Thanks for the response Rich.
 
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Josiah

Puritan Board Senior
Darryl Hart at Old Life Theological Society Has weighed in on this as well.

Erdman’s Passive-Aggressive Step-Grandson-in-Law
October 22nd, 2009 by Darryl G. Hart

John Frame faced a choice. He could have reviewed Mike Horton’s book, Christless Christianity, or he could have abstained. He could have critiqued Horton’s indictment of Joel Osteen. He also could have offered his own critique of Osteen. Even if he disagreed vigorously with Horton, he could have let it go out of a sense of living with the eccentricities of a former colleague and a minister in a church with whom his own communion is in fellowship.

But Frame decided to write a lengthy review in which Horton’s assessment comes off as more theologically flawed than those whom Horton critiques.

On the one hand, according to Frame, Horton is wrong about contemporary evangelicalism:

Speaking, perhaps presumptuously, for “the American church,” let me attempt a reply. For what it is worth, my own perception of American evangelicalism is very different from Horton’s. My observation is anecdotal (just like his, in the final analysis), but based on around 55 years of adult observation in many different kinds of churches including the much maligned mega-churches. In most every evangelical church I have visited or heard about, the “focus” is on God in Christ. There has been something of a shift over the years in what Horton would call a “subjective” direction. But that is best described not as unfaithfulness, but as a shift toward more application of Scripture to people’s external situations and inner life. There is a greater interest in sanctification (not just justification), on Christianity as a world view, on believers’ obligations to one another, on love within the body of Christ, and in the implications of Scripture for social justice.

I don’t see this as wrong, or unbiblical. Indeed, I think this general trend is an improvement over the state of affairs fifty years ago. Scripture is certainly concerned about these matters, and we ought to teach and learn what it has to say.

(By the way, Frame thinks that Horton shares this outlook primarily with secular critics of American religion. But Frame does not acknowledge that conservative Protestants like David Wells and Carl Trueman, or moderate to liberal Protestants such as Douglas Webster, William Willimon, and Stanley Hauerwas agree with Horton more than Frame.)

On the other hand, Frame thinks that the basis for Horton’s critique is theologically defective:

Horton’s alarmism is persuasive to many people, and I have been moved to try to show them their persuasion is premature. The problem is that the yardstick Horton uses to measure the American church’s allegiance to Christ is not an accurate yardstick. Or, to drop the metaphor, Horton measures the American church with a defective theology.

He comes on to the reader as a generic Protestant Christian with a passion for the historic doctrines of the atonement and of justification by faith alone. He writes engagingly. Naturally, then, other Protestants tend to resonate to his arguments. But Horton is not just a generic Protestant or even a generic Reformed theologian. He holds certain positions that are not warranted by the Reformed Confessions and which in my mind are not even Scriptural.

Frame is fully within his duties as a theology professor to review critically the book of another theologian, even one who apparently shares his theological tradition. But he is on shaky ground when he has faulted folks like Horton at other times for being Machen’s Warrior Children, that is, for needlessly criticizing those within the Reformed household. According to Frame:

The Machen movement was born in the controversy over liberal theology. I have no doubt that Machen and his colleagues were right to reject this theology and to fight it. But it is arguable that once the Machenites found themselves in a “true Presbyterian church” they were unable to moderate their martial impulses. Being in a church without liberals to fight, they turned on one another.

For some reason, John Frame thinks he is not a pugilist even after writing reviews like his of Horton (not to mention that the Warrior Children piece contained several punches, some below the belt). If he had a better understanding of “the Machen movement, Frame might realize that every controversy has more than two sides. In the 1920s, the alternatives were not simply conservatives like Machen or liberals like Harry Emerson Fosdick. In between were evangelicals like Charles Erdman who needed to decide whether to agree with conservatives and oppose liberals, or find a way to avoid controversy and work for the unity of the church, even to the point of keeping people who were not Calvinistic in the fold. Erdman never thought that his case for unity was controversial or contested. He thought Machen was extreme and temperamentally defective, and Erdman, an acknowledged evangelical, threw Machen under the bus. In so doing, Erdman made room in the Presbyterian Church for Machen’s enemies.

Blame it on the tri-perspectivalism, but Frame does not see that his notion of evangelical unity does not make room for Horton or other confessional Protestants who critique born-again Protestantism. Does Frame mean to embrace Osteen more than Horton? He may not. But if he doesn’t, why not write his own review of Osteen, instead of waiting to rip Horton’s critique?

John Frame is in denial about being a warrior. But at least he is correct about his family ties to Machen.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It is remarkable how a differing interpretation of an author instantly brings forth a challenge to read this or read that as if simple ignorance must be the reason. Well, I have read Horton, both earlier and latter works. The reality is that he teaches the Lutheran view of the Mosaic covenant as a covenant of works and the Lutheran view of the antithesis between law and gospel. Please read God of Promise. And, if you don't agree with my interpretation of him, then I will simply ask you to read God of Promise ... again. If you believe other writings of Horton contradict what is taught in God of Promise, so be it; that doesn't prove anything other than a unique ability to negate with one book what he affirms with another.

Anyone who attempts to reconcile Horton's Lutheran sympathies with the Westminster formulary is simply deluding himself. It cannot be done. If you think otherwise, you need to read the Westminster formulary. The law is given as an administration of the covenant of grace and the the good works of believers which are done in obedience to God's commandments are called evangelical obedience. If you agree with Horton over the Westminster formulary, so be it; but no amount of sophistry will make Horton's teaching agree with the Westminster formulary.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I have appreciated (not uncritically, but pretty generally) the work of Dr. Horton. Such a withering review by a former colleague on the same faculty is beyond the pale. If Horton and Frame need to go out back and whack each other around for a bit, so be it. But this kind of public broadside is unbecoming, embarrassing, and unnecessary.

It sort of reminds me of the academic equivalent of a divorced couple where the one ex-spouse is so bitter that she/he cannot find a positive (or even neutral!) word to say about the other one.
Perhaps in one sense it is an advantage to never have read anything by Mr. Frame, only to have heard of him in generalized discussion.

From that standpoint, one thing is becoming more pronounced. Whatever the underpinnings of Mr. Frame's philosophy and teaching, more and more it is used to pit the Confessional standards (e.g. Westminster Standards) against Scripture, rather than as a faithful summary thereof.

While his arguments are cited to support claims for need to "change" or "amend" the Standards, it seems never to be stated just what, specifically, should be changed.

Those who seem to want to move toward a "works based" gospel (e.g. under 'federal vision') cite them. Also those who disagree with the regulative principle, not only toward worship but generally, cite them.

This is not what someone who is biblical, reformed, confessional and holds the mystery of godliness in a clear conscience would want for the fruit of his work.
 

Myshkin

Puritan Board Freshman
It is remarkable how a differing interpretation of an author instantly brings forth a challenge to read this or read that as if simple ignorance must be the reason...Anyone who attempts to reconcile Horton's Lutheran sympathies with the Westminster formulary is simply deluding himself. It cannot be done. If you think otherwise, you need to read the Westminster formulary.
I am sorry Matthew, but is this not a double standard? It is impossible that you are misinterpreting, but it is certain that we are delusional? I'd hate for this to derail an otherwise civil conversation.

...the Lutheran view of the antithesis between law and gospel.
Please, may I have your exact definition of what constitutes the Lutheran view of antihesis between law and gospel? I can't really begin to agree with you until I know exactly what you are saying.
 
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Casey

Puritan Board Junior
This part of the response (not by Horton) is included in the rebuttal:

6. ... That’s why the law reveals our sin and misery (as the Heidelberg Catechism and Westminster Shorter Catechism confess), and the gospel reveals God’s saving grace toward us in Jesus Christ. One should be far less bothered that Professor Frame is confused about Christless Christianity than that he seems confused about the difference between commands (imperatives) and declarations of God’s promises (indicatives).

Must I embrace the WSCal/Lutheran law-gospel distinction to not be adhering to a "Christless Christianity"?

The Shorter Catechism, strictly speaking, nowhere explicitly links the phrase "sin and misery" with the law. It is rather linked with the fall and the consequences of guilt (see QQ. 17, 20, 31). But the answer to Q. 44, connecting the law with believers, does say: "The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us that because God is the Lord, and our God, and redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments."

"I agree with the law that it is good" (Rom. 7:16). The law is not the source of my problem; I am.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
It is remarkable how a differing interpretation of an author instantly brings forth a challenge to read this or read that as if simple ignorance must be the reason...Anyone who attempts to reconcile Horton's Lutheran sympathies with the Westminster formulary is simply deluding himself. It cannot be done. If you think otherwise, you need to read the Westminster formulary.
I am sorry Matthew, but is this not a double standard? It is impossible that you are misinterpreting, but it is certain that we are delusional? I'd hate for this to derail an otherwise civil conversation.
I do believe he was being slightly ironic.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
A review from the Heidelblog in which Dr. Scott Clark also makes note of Frame's underlying motives:

In John’s Latitudinarian Garage Heidelblog

If you still don't believe it, then ask yourself why John Frame has not published a similar tirade against David Wells' work The Courage to be Protestant in which Wells makes many of the same assessments and critiques of the American church as Horton.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Thanks for citing Clark. His concluding paragraphs were particularly telling:

In the interests of duct-taping evangelicalism together, Frame is advocating confessional minimalism and multi-perspectival inclusivism. By contrast, in the interests of a genuinely biblical and Reformed theology, piety, and practice, Horton is advocating confessional maximalism. He still believes not just the broad outlines (from some perspective or other) of the faith confessed by the Reformed churches but he actually believes the stuff between the first article and the last. He actually wants to see that inform our piety (the way we relate to God) and practice (the way we live out our faith). The practical fruit of John’s theology is that Reformed churches become less distinct from broad evangelical churches. Frame is explicit that, in his view, this is a good thing. He’s argued for this sort of “evangelical” ecumenism in his book Evangelical Reunion. Horton is arguing for a sharp antithesis between what today constitutes “evangelicalism” and confessional Reformed theology, piety, and practice. The function of the review then is to discredit, partly by misrepresenting him, Horton’s case so as to strengthen confidence in the broad, inclusivist approach to evangelicalism.

This review is an outstanding example of latter-day latitudinarianism. If you want to know where latitudinarianism leads, check out Julius Kim’s chapter in CJPM. What happened to the Church of England when it was over run by Latitudinarians?

Finally, the odd thing about this version of Latitudinarianism is that John seems to have room in his theological garage for theonomy, Norman Shepherd, the Federal Vision, and Joel Osteen but he doesn’t have room for Mike Horton and his ilk. That’s an interesting garage but it’s not one in which folk who still believe the Reformed faith should want to live.
I would agree with those who complain that Christians get into too many shooting wars over secondary (or tertiary) issues. However, any review that censures Horton and celebrates Osteen is one that makes me want to take up arms. Where is my weapon? I have heard Dr. Kim speak on his doctoral research (English Latitudinarianism done as a PhD research project at Trinity-"TEDS"). Clark is correct: it is a VERY scary direction for the church to go.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It is remarkable how a differing interpretation of an author instantly brings forth a challenge to read this or read that as if simple ignorance must be the reason...Anyone who attempts to reconcile Horton's Lutheran sympathies with the Westminster formulary is simply deluding himself. It cannot be done. If you think otherwise, you need to read the Westminster formulary.
I am sorry Matthew, but is this not a double standard? It is impossible that you are misinterpreting, but it is certain that we are delusional? I'd hate for this to derail an otherwise civil conversation.
I do believe he was being slightly ironic.
Yes, holding the challengers to their own standards. Why should they be the only ones to set required reading in order to qualify one to speak on the subject?
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This part of the response (not by Horton) is included in the rebuttal:

6. ... That’s why the law reveals our sin and misery (as the Heidelberg Catechism and Westminster Shorter Catechism confess), and the gospel reveals God’s saving grace toward us in Jesus Christ. One should be far less bothered that Professor Frame is confused about Christless Christianity than that he seems confused about the difference between commands (imperatives) and declarations of God’s promises (indicatives).

Must I embrace the WSCal/Lutheran law-gospel distinction to not be adhering to a "Christless Christianity"?

The Shorter Catechism, strictly speaking, nowhere explicitly links the phrase "sin and misery" with the law. It is rather linked with the fall and the consequences of guilt (see QQ. 17, 20, 31). But the answer to Q. 44, connecting the law with believers, does say: "The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us that because God is the Lord, and our God, and redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments."

"I agree with the law that it is good" (Rom. 7:16). The law is not the source of my problem; I am.


:ditto:

As Paul says in Romans 7:7a "Is the law sin? Certainly not!"...and verse 12 "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.".
 

Irish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
It is remarkable how a differing interpretation of an author instantly brings forth a challenge to read this or read that as if simple ignorance must be the reason. Well, I have read Horton, both earlier and latter works. The reality is that he teaches the Lutheran view of the Mosaic covenant as a covenant of works and the Lutheran view of the antithesis between law and gospel. Please read God of Promise. And, if you don't agree with my interpretation of him, then I will simply ask you to read God of Promise ... again. If you believe other writings of Horton contradict what is taught in God of Promise, so be it; that doesn't prove anything other than a unique ability to negate with one book what he affirms with another.

Anyone who attempts to reconcile Horton's Lutheran sympathies with the Westminster formulary is simply deluding himself. It cannot be done. If you think otherwise, you need to read the Westminster formulary. The law is given as an administration of the covenant of grace and the the good works of believers which are done in obedience to God's commandments are called evangelical obedience. If you agree with Horton over the Westminster formulary, so be it; but no amount of sophistry will make Horton's teaching agree with the Westminster formulary.
First of all, I think that it is not necessary to say that someone is 'deluded' because they may hold a view of the Law to your own. A Little humility wouldn't go amiss.

Secondly, Horton does not say in 'God of Promise' that the Mosaic covenant is a covenant of works. This is simply a misunderstanding of the Reformed Federal understanding of Covenant Theology which describes the Mosaic covenant as 'partly' a recapitulation of the covenant of works and yet still being fundamentally an administration of the covenant of grace. Their is absolutely no conflict here with the Westminster Standards. The new publication 'The Law is not of Faith' (which Horton contributed to) makes this point very clearly. There is no conflict with the content of 'God of Promise' and 'The Law is not of Faith'. To suggest that the recapitulation theory (which Horton teaches) is Lutheran is to lump Owen, Boston, Bullinger, Hodge, Warfield and others into this category.

Thirdly, the law/gospel distinction is held by Reformed authors from the magisterial reformers, through the scholastic, right up to Louis Berkhof. R. Scott Clark has written great articles on this and I'd advice people to read the above link I posted by Horton on 'Calvin on law/gospel'.

Armourbearer, maybe you should take your own advice and re-read 'God of Promise' until you understand what Horton is saying. You might realize that it is not him that is in conflict with the Reformed heritage.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Anyone who attempts to reconcile Horton's Lutheran sympathies with the Westminster formulary is simply deluding himself. It cannot be done.
First of all, I think that it is not necessary to say that someone is 'deluded' because they may hold a view of the Law to your own. A Little humility wouldn't go amiss.
Brother, as an observer of this thread, I think you may need to re-read what Rev. Winzer actually said. He didn't say you had to agree with him.

Cheers,
 

Irish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
Anyone who attempts to reconcile Horton's Lutheran sympathies with the Westminster formulary is simply deluding himself. It cannot be done.
First of all, I think that it is not necessary to say that someone is 'deluded' because they may hold a view of the Law to your own. A Little humility wouldn't go amiss.
Brother, as an observer of this thread, I think you may need to re-read what Rev. Winzer actually said. He didn't say you had to agree with him.

Cheers,
I'm sorry, I think my phrasing was misleading. However, I still think that their was a lack of humility in the post. He said:

Anyone who attempts to reconcile Horton's Lutheran sympathies with the Westminster formulary is simply deluding himself. It cannot be done.


I think that suggesting that if anyone attempts to reconcile Horton's views to the Westminster formulary they are deluding themselves, does show an distinct lack of humility. To suggest that Horton's views are in tension with the Westminster formulary in the first place (a set of standards which he subscribes to at WSC) is mistaken. It also suggests that armourbearer's interpretation of those standards is the right one and those who hold Horton's views are deluding themselves. I have absolutely no personal animosity to Rev Winzer and have a great respect for him. I'm just saying that I found it to be a personally offensive comment.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
I think that suggesting that if anyone attempts to reconcile Horton's views to the Westminster formulary they are deluding themselves, does show an distinct lack of humility.
To state that the Westminster formulary teaches a republication of the covenant of works is likewise hubris of the highest order, despite its clear statements to the contrary. This argument can be turned back upon you.


To suggest that Horton's views are in tension with the Westminster formulary in the first place (a set of standards which he subscribes to at WSC) is mistaken.
No, it is simply honest. By the way, this kind of appeal to a person private actions is unbecoming in discussions of ideas, and is logically invalid.

Cheers,
 

Irish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
I think that suggesting that if anyone attempts to reconcile Horton's views to the Westminster formulary they are deluding themselves, does show an distinct lack of humility.
To state that the Westminster formulary teaches a republication of the covenant of works is likewise hubris of the highest order, despite its clear statements to the contrary. This argument can be turned back upon you.


To suggest that Horton's views are in tension with the Westminster formulary in the first place (a set of standards which he subscribes to at WSC) is mistaken.
No, it is simply honest. By the way, this kind of appeal to a person private actions is unbecoming in discussions of ideas, and is logically invalid.

Cheers,
Please indicate the 'clear' statements to the contrary in the Westminster Standards'

Michael Horton's subscription to the Westminster Standards is not a private action. It is something that he must uphold in order to teach in Westminster Seminary. When a member of one of the Westminster faculties is seen to be saying something that is contrary to the Westminster Standards then this is treated very seriously. See for example Norman Shepherd and Peter Enns. Michael Horton's stand on the Westminster Standards is no less public than his written works and therefore in a discussion of the man, it is very appropriate and not at all logically invalid.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Please indicate the 'clear' statements to the contrary in the Westminster Standards'
Chapter XIX
Of the Law of God
V. The moral law does forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof;[8] and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it.[9] Neither does Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.[10]

VI. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned;[11] yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly;[12] discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts and lives;[13] so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin,[14] together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience.[15] It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin:[16] and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law.[17] The promises of it, in like manner, show them God's approbation of obedience,and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof:[18] although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works.[19] So as, a man's doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.[20]

VII. Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it;[21] the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.[22]


Chapter VII
Of God's Covenant with Man
II. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works,[2] wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity,[3] upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.[4]

III. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second,[5] commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved,[6] and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.[7]


V. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel:[9] under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come;[10] which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah,[11] by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the Old Testament.[12]

VI. Under the Gospel, when Christ, the substance,[13] was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper:[14] which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy,[15] to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles;[16] and is called the New Testament.[17] There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.[18]



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.[114]

Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?

A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator,[115] and life and salvation by him;[116] and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him,[117] promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit[118] to all his elect, to work in them that faith,[119] with all other saving graces;[120] and to enable them unto all holy obedience,[121] as the evidence of the truth of their faith[122] and thankfulness to God,[123] and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.[124]

Q. 33. Was the covenant of grace always administered after one and the same manner?

A. The covenant of grace was not always administered after the same manner, but the administrations of it under the Old Testament were different from those under the New.[125]

Q. 34. How was the covenant of grace administered under the Old Testament?

A. The covenant of grace was administered under the Old Testament, by promises,[126] prophecies,[127] sacrifices,[128] circumcision,[129] the passover,[130] and other types and ordinances, which did all fore-signify Christ then to come, and were for that time sufficient to build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah,[131] by whom they then had full remission of sin, and eternal salvation.[132]


Cheers,

Adam
 

Ron

Puritan Board Freshman
A review from the Heidelblog in which Dr. Scott Clark also makes note of Frame's underlying motives:

In John’s Latitudinarian Garage Heidelblog

If you still don't believe it, then ask yourself why John Frame has not published a similar tirade against David Wells' work The Courage to be Protestant in which Wells makes many of the same assessments and critiques of the American church as Horton.
I won't bother to read anything so absurd as Clark's pronouncements on John's motives, as if Clark could possibly know them. And I hope that you have not impugned Dr. Clark by suggesting that he has declared another man's motives if he indeed hasn't. I prefer to remain agnostic on the entire matter.

Regarding the comment on David Wells being off limits to John:

John is somewhat a logician, though I saw some definite lapses in his thinking or else an unwillingness to cut Mike any slack whatsoever, like with the whole Osteen matter. I even found an irony in his treatment of Mike given that John postured himself as one who wanted to be charitable and precise. Having said that, the sweeping statements and false dichotomies that have become all too customary in (if not dominating of) Mike’s writings are no doubt troublesome to many of us who want to fight for the truth and keep the peace and unity of the Spirit. Nobody wants to see another brother violate the ninth commandment. A little more precision in representing opposing views would suit us all. Nuff said.

As for Wells verses Mike - I don’t find such sweeping condemnations and anathemas coming forth from Wells. Consider the balance of Wells in The Courage to Be Protestant:

“The desire of marketers and emergents to engage the culture is commendable. Engaging it, though, is not the same thing as capitulating to it. Missionaries know the difference… If the evangelical church does not want to lose its voice, it will have to ensure that its engagement with postmodern culture is done biblically, thoughtfully, and conscientiously.”

Wells notes well that IF the church does not want to lose its voice (implying that it has not yet lost its voice), it must continue in its commendable endeavor to engage the culture “biblically, thoughtfully, and conscientiously.” Mike on the other hand seems to prefer to shock his audience into thinking that the battle has already been lost, but thankfully Mike retracts those hooks he casts into his readers and devout followers. As John observes: “This is something of a ‘bait and switch.’ Horton scares us to death with his brash title, telling us that we are headed for Hell. But then he backtracks. He says there is really no movement today that could be called “Christless Christianity.” But there are some things going on that could lead the church that way.”

I have serious problems with Mike’s covenant theology and the emphasis he puts on some doctrines over others, like justification over salvation; forensic over existential; and its close cousin, imputation over union. Frankly, I think Mike would do well to spend a bit more time in the circular letter of Ephesians than the situational letter written to the Galatians. Notwithstanding, I do believe that he has some good spiritual reflexes when it comes to Christendom and the culture. I think those he disagrees with as well as those he wants to see the light would all be better off if he expressed his concerns in a more irenic manner.

Ron
 

Myshkin

Puritan Board Freshman
I am sorry Matthew, but is this not a double standard? It is impossible that you are misinterpreting, but it is certain that we are delusional? I'd hate for this to derail an otherwise civil conversation.
I do believe he was being slightly ironic.
Yes, holding the challengers to their own standards. Why should they be the only ones to set required reading in order to qualify one to speak on the subject?
It is unfortunate that the thread has taken this direction. I am at a loss as to how suggesting a book that contradicts one's interpretation is the equivalent of "you're not qualified to speak"; it simply means I think you are incorrect on this particular point. Your post said that it "seems" Horton was teaching what you accuse him of. This clearly means that you are not certain that he does, hence the suggestion in order to clear up the "seems". Apparently this suggestion was off limits because now you are certain that he teaches what at first he seemed to teach and to question your certainty is to mean that one is delusional. All I have been asking for is clarification and defintions so that I can better understand your viewpoint and better interact with it, and therefore not misrepresent you. Thats all. I am not here to make, nor have I made, statements about one's competence.

Matthew, can you please just answer my question? I am not trying to fight you. I just want to be clear, are you stating that Horton definitely teaches a "No-Lordship salvation" ("the gospel of justification alone" in your terms)?

Thanks.
 

Irish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
Please indicate the 'clear' statements to the contrary in the Westminster Standards'
Chapter XIX
Of the Law of God
V. The moral law does forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof;[8] and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it.[9] Neither does Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.[10]

VI. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned;[11] yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly;[12] discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts and lives;[13] so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin,[14] together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience.[15] It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin:[16] and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law.[17] The promises of it, in like manner, show them God's approbation of obedience,and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof:[18] although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works.[19] So as, a man's doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.[20]

VII. Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it;[21] the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.[22]


Chapter VII
Of God's Covenant with Man
II. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works,[2] wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity,[3] upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.[4]

III. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second,[5] commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved,[6] and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.[7]


V. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel:[9] under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come;[10] which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah,[11] by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the Old Testament.[12]

VI. Under the Gospel, when Christ, the substance,[13] was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper:[14] which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy,[15] to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles;[16] and is called the New Testament.[17] There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.[18]



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.[114]

Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?

A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator,[115] and life and salvation by him;[116] and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him,[117] promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit[118] to all his elect, to work in them that faith,[119] with all other saving graces;[120] and to enable them unto all holy obedience,[121] as the evidence of the truth of their faith[122] and thankfulness to God,[123] and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.[124]

Q. 33. Was the covenant of grace always administered after one and the same manner?

A. The covenant of grace was not always administered after the same manner, but the administrations of it under the Old Testament were different from those under the New.[125]

Q. 34. How was the covenant of grace administered under the Old Testament?

A. The covenant of grace was administered under the Old Testament, by promises,[126] prophecies,[127] sacrifices,[128] circumcision,[129] the passover,[130] and other types and ordinances, which did all fore-signify Christ then to come, and were for that time sufficient to build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah,[131] by whom they then had full remission of sin, and eternal salvation.[132]


Cheers,

Adam
Adam,

Thanks for taking the time to publish these notes. I can't help but think that you misunderstand the idea of republication when you use these quotes against it. No Reformed believer in the republication theory denies the third use of the Law or that the Mosaic covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace. Let me give you a couple of quotes to show what I mean.

"To affirm the doctrine of republication does not entail the view that the Mosaic covenant is not part of the covenant of grace. While there are perhaps those in the past who separated the Mosaic covenant and argued that there are two separate covenants of grace, the vast majority of those who hold to the doctrine of republication affirm that the Mosaic covenant is a part of or connected to the covenant of grace (Westminster Confession of Faith 7.6)...To affirm the doctrine of republication is in no way to deny the third use of the law; it is not antinomianism. To hold that the Mosaic covenant republishes the covenant of works does not therefore mean that because Christ fulfilled the obligations of the moral law the believer therefore has no use for the law post-conversion. Rather, in concert with historic Reformed theology, the doctrine of republication merely points the redeemed sinner to Christ as the one who has fulfilled the broken covenant of works and has redeemed him from the curse of the law. Morever, because the believer is no longer under the curse of the law of God upon his heart, the believer is thereby enabled to walk in the statutes of the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit (Westminster Confession of Faith 19.1-2, 5-7). So, then, while these criticisms are perhaps common objections, one should note that they are unfounded when one carefully examines the scriptures and historic Reformed theology". ('The Law is Not of Faith': Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant.)

"1. The law of Moses was, in the first place, a re-enactment of the covenant of works. A Covenant is simply a promise suspended upon a condition. The covenant of works, therefore, is nothing more than the promise of life suspended on the condition of perfect obedience.

2. The Mosaic economy was also a national covenant; that is, it presented national promises on the condition of national obedience. Under this aspect also it was purely legal.

3. As the gospel contains renewed revelation of the law, so the law of Moses contained a revelation of the gospel. It presented in its priesthood and sacrifices, as types of the office and work of Christ, the gratuitous method of salvation through the Redeemer. This necessarily supposes that faith and not works was the condition of salvation."
Charles Hodge: 1&2 Corthinians.


Adam, in fairness, I'd say again that the quotes you gave from the standards don't stand against the historic Reformed doctrine of republication.

Thanks.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Can we look out for irritants?

Yes, holding the challengers to their own standards. Why should they be the only ones to set required reading in order to qualify one to speak on the subject?
Actually the PB stipulates that it is subject to the WCF which stipulates how theological disagreements are to be settled. It is an easily observable trend that some folk on the board tend to put forth unsupported statements that someone is wrong, instead of providing full statements analyzing the disputed premise by Scripture and GNC deductions therefrom justifying their opinions as seems to be required by WCF 1:x.

I am aware that adopting this practice might lead to longer posts and slow down the pace of discussions, but I also believe that it would increase the light and reduce the heat (now too often generated). For those who want to continue the present practice, may I urge you to consider that when anyone asserts that person A's book B takes an incorrect or heretical position C, such an assertion comes across as lacking humility and needlessly provocative – unless one can demonstrate at least some of the grounds on which that opinion is based.

Another suggestion I would put forward is that we all try to answer the questions we are asked. I have noticed that sometimes correspondents on one side of the discussion do not answer questions asked by correspondents on the other. While some of this may be due to oversight, (I know I have stumbled here) I also know of at least one instance where the practice seems to be habitual. Omitting to answer questions may have an unfortunate result when the questions have point: not answering them may be experienced as the debaters trick of "dodging", which is another irritant.
 
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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
MODERATOR WARNING!!!

Please refrain from name calling, counter name calling, counter complaining, sur rejoinders characterized by name calling, counter name calling, counter complaining, etc. We need to stick to the issue of the original post.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
A review from the Heidelblog in which Dr. Scott Clark also makes note of Frame's underlying motives:

In John’s Latitudinarian Garage Heidelblog

If you still don't believe it, then ask yourself why John Frame has not published a similar tirade against David Wells' work The Courage to be Protestant in which Wells makes many of the same assessments and critiques of the American church as Horton.
I won't bother to read anything so absurd as Clark's pronouncements on John's motives, as if Clark could possibly know them. And I hope that you have not impugned Dr. Clark by suggesting that he has declared another man's motives if he indeed hasn't. I prefer to remain agnostic on the entire matter.

Regarding the comment on David Wells being off limits to John:

John is somewhat a logician, though I saw some definite lapses in his thinking or else an unwillingness to cut Mike any slack whatsoever, like with the whole Osteen matter. I even found an irony in his treatment of Mike given that John postured himself as one who wanted to be charitable and precise. Having said that, the sweeping statements and false dichotomies that have become all too customary in (if not dominating of) Mike’s writings are no doubt troublesome to many of us who want to fight for the truth and keep the peace and unity of the Spirit. Nobody wants to see another brother violate the ninth commandment. A little more precision in representing opposing views would suit us all. Nuff said.

As for Wells verses Mike - I don’t find such sweeping condemnations and anathemas coming forth from Wells. Consider the balance of Wells in The Courage to Be Protestant:

“The desire of marketers and emergents to engage the culture is commendable. Engaging it, though, is not the same thing as capitulating to it. Missionaries know the difference… If the evangelical church does not want to lose its voice, it will have to ensure that its engagement with postmodern culture is done biblically, thoughtfully, and conscientiously.”

Wells notes well that IF the church does not want to lose its voice (implying that it has not yet lost its voice), it must continue in its commendable endeavor to engage the culture “biblically, thoughtfully, and conscientiously.” Mike on the other hand seems to prefer to shock his audience into thinking that the battle has already been lost, but thankfully Mike retracts those hooks he casts into his readers and devout followers. As John observes: “This is something of a ‘bait and switch.’ Horton scares us to death with his brash title, telling us that we are headed for Hell. But then he backtracks. He says there is really no movement today that could be called “Christless Christianity.” But there are some things going on that could lead the church that way.”

I have serious problems with Mike’s covenant theology and the emphasis he puts on some doctrines over others, like justification over salvation; forensic over existential; and its close cousin, imputation over union. Frankly, I think Mike would do well to spend a bit more time in the circular letter of Ephesians than the situational letter written to the Galatians. Notwithstanding, I do believe that he has some good spiritual reflexes when it comes to Christendom and the culture. I think those he disagrees with as well as those he wants to see the light would all be better off if he expressed his concerns in a more irenic manner.

Ron
Hello Ron,

I suppose if you are unwilling to read the assessment in that article then you will be unable to make a response of any substance.

However, I would challenge you on wagging your finger against any minister who would place a very strong emphasis upon the forensic doctrines of justification and imputation. Historic Evangelical Protestantism has always placed a higher emphasis upon those aspects of soteriology precisely because they are the points that are denied by the Roman Catholic church. Rome's theologians would have no problem sitting down with you to affirm existential union and the broad definition of "salvation" while shelving a forensic doctrine of justification.

It would seem that you are following after the trend of some at WTS-P and within the OPC who would push existential union over and above the legal and particular aspects of Reformed soterieology (Gaffin, Garcia, Tipton, etc.), but this is ultimately unhelpful, and most likely detrimental for the health of the OPC in the long run. The down playing of the former doctrines for the latter has already been picked up by Leithart and other men who would seek, not to give some more floor time to union and the broad picture of salvation while still maintaining imputation and a forensic view of justification, but who rather would emphasize the one to cover up their personal denial of the other.

The Christian should glory in active obedience, imputation, sola fide, and like doctrines every day of the week. Without them, our salvation is not nearly so grand.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
RAS,

Don't get me wrong, I love Mike Horton. I consider him a dear Brother in Christ and an important voice for the Gospel of Grace. I also note, however, that the WHI has a problem with some of our Confessional notions where there is an "oughtness" to the Gospel. Romans 6 is as much a part of the Gospel as Romans 8. Both are grounded in what God has accomplished through the power of Christ's death and resurrection for us His own.
Please substantiate the claim that there is an 'oughtness' to the Gospel in the Confessions and how the WHI have a 'problem' with it.

Also, you say:

"Both are grounded in what God has accomplished through the power of Christ's death and resurrection for us His own".

The death and resurrection of Christ (that object work) is the Gospel (good news, proclamation) (1 Corth 15). The walking in newness in Romans 6 and life in the Spirit in Romans 8 are the 'result' of the Gospel, so I don't see the point being made here. Sorry.
The point being made is illustrated in one of the threads that CT cited: http://www.puritanboard.com/f31/what-reformed-view-law-gospel-33247/

Please read that thread from beginning to end as you keep asking for substantiation.

Dordt states that the Gospel includes imperatives. If I could find the specific post I would even note where a WSC theologian was arguing that when Peter responded "Repent and Be Baptized" to the crowd at Acts 2 that this was not the Gospel due to the imperative nature of the command.

Dordt:
Article 3: The Preaching of the Gospel

In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends proclaimers of this very joyful message to the people he wishes and at the time he wishes. By this ministry people are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. For how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without someone preaching? And how shall they preach unless they have been sent? (Rom. 10:14-15).

Article 4: A Twofold Response to the Gospel

God's anger remains on those who do not believe this gospel. But those who do accept it and embrace Jesus the Savior with a true and living faith are delivered through him from God's anger and from destruction, and receive the gift of eternal life.
In other words, the Gospel has an "oughtness". There are imperatives associated with.

Also, as Fred Greco (and others) note in the thread cited, the Good News cannot be divorced from the definitive work that is wrought in the believer by the Holy Spirit as he is vitally united to Christ. It is not that sanctification is justification but that the Gospel includes our definitive sanctification. As Paul notes when he's rebuking the Galatians:

Galatians 3:
1O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
In other words, Paul considered it an abandonment of the Gospel not simply that the believers were forgetting the grounds of their justification but the grounds of their sanctification.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Actually the PB stipulates that it is subject to the WCF which stipulates how theological disagreements are to be settled.
These questions have already been discussed on PB. It is not as if this is a new subject or new information has come to light requiring a fesh treatment.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
[OFF-TOPIC]
Another suggestion I would put forward is that we all try to answer the questions we are asked. I have noticed that sometimes correspondents on one side of the discussion do not answer questions asked by correspondents on the other. While some of this may be due to oversight, (I know I have stumbled here) I also know of at least one instance where the practice seems to be habitual. Omitting to answer questions may have an unfortunate result when the questions have point: not answering them may be experienced as the debaters trick of "dodging", which is another irritant.
Just one response to this, and I don't believe I'm the person you have in view here, Tim, but in my own experience I have noticed that questions are often difficult to answer because:
A. They have no apparent bearing on the topic at hand
B. They impute a false position to the one being asked the questions
C. They are leading or tendentious
D. They could be rhetorical (and that trick can sometimes be used to maintain deniability)
E. Other points have to be addressed before we can come to that question
F. The question has been answered several times, just not to the questioner's satisfaction

So that those asking questions should endeavor to make sure that the questions are fair, on topic, precise, and not previously addressed ad nauseam.
[/OFF-TOPIC]
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
First of all, I think that it is not necessary to say that someone is 'deluded' because they may hold a view of the Law to your own. A Little humility wouldn't go amiss.
As noted by Adam, my statement looks for honesty; humility does not require one to be less than honest.

Secondly, Horton does not say in 'God of Promise' that the Mosaic covenant is a covenant of works. This is simply a misunderstanding of the Reformed Federal understanding of Covenant Theology which describes the Mosaic covenant as 'partly' a recapitulation of the covenant of works and yet still being fundamentally an administration of the covenant of grace. Their is absolutely no conflict here with the Westminster Standards. The new publication 'The Law is not of Faith' (which Horton contributed to) makes this point very clearly. There is no conflict with the content of 'God of Promise' and 'The Law is not of Faith'. To suggest that the recapitulation theory (which Horton teaches) is Lutheran is to lump Owen, Boston, Bullinger, Hodge, Warfield and others into this category.
God of Promise, pp. 100, 101: "The Decalogue (Ten Commandments), although it begins with the indicative announcement of God's liberation -- thus showing its continuity with the Abrahamic promise -- is basically a law covenant. Purely a suzerainty treaty, it does not obligate God to do anything but instead simply command, with sanctions for obedience and disobedience."

Thomas Boston, Works 2:89: "The ten commandments were not given to the Israelites as a covenant of works, but in the way of the covenant of grace, and under that covert. Ye saw it was Jesus the Mediator that spoke these, Heb. xii. 24, 26. -- Amongst all the reasons there is not one of terror; but the sweet savour of gospel-grace."

You are misreading either Horton or the theologians you have named, but facts are facts, and the fact is that they do not teach the same thing.

Thirdly, the law/gospel distinction is held by Reformed authors from the magisterial reformers, through the scholastic, right up to Louis Berkhof. R. Scott Clark has written great articles on this and I'd advice people to read the above link I posted by Horton on 'Calvin on law/gospel'.
A law-gospel distinction is held by reformed theologians. It is not the Lutheran distinction as advocated by Horton. In Lutheran theology, the law promises nothing. In reformed theology, the law holds out precious promises to the justified believer from the hand of Christ. Boston (Works 2:255): "Christ being the Surety of the better covenant, having made a new covenant of grace in his blood, he takes the same law in his hands, and gives out the commands of it as a rule of life to his covenanted people, and renews the promises of it to their sincere obedience of them, 1 Tim. iv. 8, 'godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.'"
 
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