Is this *gasp* Federal Vision talk?

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austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Jonathan Edwards, “Justification by Faith Alone,” when contemplating the nature of perseverance and justification (Page 641 in the Works of Jonathan Edwards, Hendrickson Publishers) writes:

“So that although the sinner is actually and finally justified on the first acts of faith, yet the perseverance of faith, even then, comes into consideration, as one thing on which the fitness of acceptance to life depends. God, in the act of justification, which is passed on a sinner’s first believing, has respect to perseverance, as being virtually contained in that first act of faith; and it is looked upon, and taken by him that justifies, as being as it were a property in that faith. God has respect to the believer’s continuation in faith, and he is justified by that, as though it already were, because by divine establishment it shall follow; and it being by divine constitution connected with that first faith, as much as it it were a property in it, it is then considered such, and so justification is not suspended: but were it not for this, it would be needful that it should be suspended, til the sinner had actually persevered in faith.”

And again, “But inasmuch as a sinner, in his first justification, is forever justified and freed from all obligation to eternal punishment; it hence of necessity follows, that faith and repentance are beheld, in that justification, as virtually contained in that first faith and repentance; because repentance of those future sins, and faith in a Redeemer, with respect to them, or, at least, the continuance of that habit and principle in the heart that has such an actual repentance and faith in its nature and tendency, is now made sure by God’s promise.”

>>>>>>

Now if we look down at the recent posts concerning Piper and Wilson and all the rest, one will see strong language thrown around. Piper is a pariah. Piper is slipping.

Listen, brothers. Be careful. Let’s not shoot the good guys. And yes, Piper is a good guy. Do not speak evil about such a dear brother (and that is the tone and language). We are all men who are imperfect.

Now as for Edwards. Was he a heretic? Was his language so confusing, so double-talk oriented, so plainly wrong that we should, if he were still alive today, avoid him altogether, or, surely this much, not invite him to a conference on Calvin?

While there are some disturbing points with the Federal Vision (I especially have a problem with denying imputation as well as the hermeneutical approach of the NPP and its implications), I’m not entirely convinced that their language concerning faith and justification is altogether wrong.

How so?

Well, allow me to pull away from anything they would say and express my own thoughts. If it is true that a justified saint must continue in the faith, and any good Reformed guy would shout “Amen!” here, then it is true that final salvation is contingent upon perseverance. We must continue or else. Now our persevering is ultimately the product of God’s grace (Christ’s intercession, discipline, hearing the warnings, etc.). That’s true. But perseverance is still necessary. This means that justification, in some sense, whether remotely or intimately, is contingent upon perseverance. We can talk about faith as the only instrument, and that is right biblically speaking, but if a failure to continue results in damnation, then how might that impact our struggle to communicate these twin truths?

Someone might be tempted to say, “Well, I kinda want to say, since perseverance is necessary, that our final justification, or maybe I should say final salvation, is dependent upon our continuing, which maybe, I guess, is a lot like obedience? Or faithfulness? I mean, what is persevering if it isn’t continuing to trust in Christ? And what is trusting in Christ, throughout one’s life, if it isn’t adhering to the Gospel and living a transformed life under the Lordship of Christ?”

Now granted, one must be very careful to keep sanctification and justification distinct realities. They are two different things. Justification is a forensic act. A declaration. And it is grounded in Christ’s work. And faith (assent and trust) is the only instrument by which we are justified.
But isn’t justification intimately related to our union with Christ? And isn’t our union with Christ, and the attendant blessings, contingent upon persevering faith? If so what is the appropriate language to communicate this reality?

Stefan T. Lindbald, in the Banner of Truth, decries John Armstrong saying, “So, does justifying faith include our obedience, properly understood as the fruit of Christ’s righteous, powerful, saving work? Of course it does.”

And again, but this time with Norman Shepherd, “repentance is necessary for justification” and “there is no justification without a penitent faith.”

Now I haven’t kept up with these men and what they stand for in their totality (Actually I know very little about them), but isn’t this what Edwards is saying? And aren’t these words true, when we look at justification within the larger matrix of salvation or union with Christ?

Let me conclude by asking whether or not this wrong:

We are justified by faith alone.

The Scriptures are clear that we are not justified by works.

So faith must be contrasted with works.

Perseverance is necessary for a justified saint to be finally saved.

God, according to His sovereign grace and power, keeps us in Christ. So we ultimately continue.

This perseverance is active. It trusts in Christ, which, in turn, means that it acts.

This acting might be called obedience? Faithfullness?

Well, whatever it is exactly, we must not confuse it with the clear contrast of “not by works.”

Maybe we should look at what the Bible says about perseverance and use language appropriate to that.

What might that be?

Well, what about 1 Timothy 4:16, as one example?

Is perseverance watching one’s doctrine closely, which means studying and leaning on other solid teachers?

So is it right to talk about justification, in some remote sense, being dependent upon this kind of perserverance?

Respectfully,

Austin
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Ultimately, it's statements like these that are misleading and false: "Perseverance is necessary for a justified saint to be finally saved." It is true that perseverance necessarily accompanies justification, but it is completely false and anti-Biblical to say that it is a necessary cause of justification.

Edwards was stating the former; FVists state the latter.
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Confessor

Have you read Edward's treatment of this subject? Please do.

Edwards says, and I quote again, "God has respect to the believer’s continuation in faith, and he is justified by that, as though it already were, because by divine establishment it shall follow..."

He is saying here, so far as I can tell, that in the initial act of justification, God takes into account the believer's continuation- and this continuation regards all that God will do, which seems to strongly suggest, that justification does regard future actions (done by/through God's grace).

I don't think Edwards would say that it is a necessary CAUSE of justification, but it is factored into the larger picture. Why else would speak at all about taking into account the continuation?
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Edwards is simply saying that God views the sinner as actually righteous, as if he has completed the sanctification process (the result of perseverance). If he said that justification were in any way contingent upon perseverance (or based upon further actions), he would have contradicted the very first clause he stated: "So that although the sinner is actually and finally justified on the first acts of faith."

To say that justification is in some sense contingent on perseverance (as you have stated) is to indeed state that perseverance is in that sense a cause of justification. And that is nothing less than heresy.

Obviously, Edwards can speak of the "larger picture" as including perseverance (such that perseverance is necessarily included in the larger picture), but it's when words start getting jumbled and perseverance becomes a cause of justification that things start going downhill.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Austin, the field is divided on the interpretation of Edwards at this point. There are some who will point to passages like this one and say that it proves that Edwards's doctrine of justification was off, or at least precarious. Others argue differently. And this disagreement is within the Reformed camp. There are many respected authors on both sides. This is what I take Edwards to mean: faith always leads to good works. It is the kind of faith that leads to good works that is justifying faith. We could also say it this way: justification is never considered apart from sanctification. Justification occurs so that we will accomplish good works by the grace of God. We were created to do these good works. Edwards is guarding against antinomianism in this passage. Still, I would not phrase things the way Edwards has, because it can easily cause confusion. If you read the rest of the treatise, however, you will find that Edwards locates the sole cause of justification in Christ's righteousness. Those other passages must be allowed their say in how we interpret this one.

Ben, it is not true that all FV'ers say that about justification. We should be careful here.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
Jonathan Edwards, “Justification by Faith Alone,” when contemplating the nature of perseverance and justification (Page 641 in the Works of Jonathan Edwards, Hendrickson Publishers) writes:

“So that although the sinner is actually and finally justified on the first acts of faith, yet the perseverance of faith, even then, comes into consideration, as one thing on which the fitness of acceptance to life depends. God, in the act of justification, which is passed on a sinner’s first believing, has respect to perseverance, as being virtually contained in that first act of faith; and it is looked upon, and taken by him that justifies, as being as it were a property in that faith. God has respect to the believer’s continuation in faith, and he is justified by that, as though it already were, because by divine establishment it shall follow; and it being by divine constitution connected with that first faith, as much as it it were a property in it, it is then considered such, and so justification is not suspended: but were it not for this, it would be needful that it should be suspended, til the sinner had actually persevered in faith.”

And again, “But inasmuch as a sinner, in his first justification, is forever justified and freed from all obligation to eternal punishment; it hence of necessity follows, that faith and repentance are beheld, in that justification, as virtually contained in that first faith and repentance; because repentance of those future sins, and faith in a Redeemer, with respect to them, or, at least, the continuance of that habit and principle in the heart that has such an actual repentance and faith in its nature and tendency, is now made sure by God’s promise.”

>>>>>>

Now if we look down at the recent posts concerning Piper and Wilson and all the rest, one will see strong language thrown around. Piper is a pariah. Piper is slipping.

Listen, brothers. Be careful. Let’s not shoot the good guys. And yes, Piper is a good guy. Do not speak evil about such a dear brother (and that is the tone and language). We are all men who are imperfect.

Now as for Edwards. Was he a heretic? Was his language so confusing, so double-talk oriented, so plainly wrong that we should, if he were still alive today, avoid him altogether, or, surely this much, not invite him to a conference on Calvin?

While there are some disturbing points with the Federal Vision (I especially have a problem with denying imputation as well as the hermeneutical approach of the NPP and its implications), I’m not entirely convinced that their language concerning faith and justification is altogether wrong.

How so?

Well, allow me to pull away from anything they would say and express my own thoughts. If it is true that a justified saint must continue in the faith, and any good Reformed guy would shout “Amen!” here, then it is true that final salvation is contingent upon perseverance. We must continue or else. Now our persevering is ultimately the product of God’s grace (Christ’s intercession, discipline, hearing the warnings, etc.). That’s true. But perseverance is still necessary. This means that justification, in some sense, whether remotely or intimately, is contingent upon perseverance. We can talk about faith as the only instrument, and that is right biblically speaking, but if a failure to continue results in damnation, then how might that impact our struggle to communicate these twin truths?

Someone might be tempted to say, “Well, I kinda want to say, since perseverance is necessary, that our final justification, or maybe I should say final salvation, is dependent upon our continuing, which maybe, I guess, is a lot like obedience? Or faithfulness? I mean, what is persevering if it isn’t continuing to trust in Christ? And what is trusting in Christ, throughout one’s life, if it isn’t adhering to the Gospel and living a transformed life under the Lordship of Christ?”

Now granted, one must be very careful to keep sanctification and justification distinct realities. They are two different things. Justification is a forensic act. A declaration. And it is grounded in Christ’s work. And faith (assent and trust) is the only instrument by which we are justified.
But isn’t justification intimately related to our union with Christ? And isn’t our union with Christ, and the attendant blessings, contingent upon persevering faith? If so what is the appropriate language to communicate this reality?

Stefan T. Lindbald, in the Banner of Truth, decries John Armstrong saying, “So, does justifying faith include our obedience, properly understood as the fruit of Christ’s righteous, powerful, saving work? Of course it does.”

And again, but this time with Norman Shepherd, “repentance is necessary for justification” and “there is no justification without a penitent faith.”

Now I haven’t kept up with these men and what they stand for in their totality (Actually I know very little about them), but isn’t this what Edwards is saying? And aren’t these words true, when we look at justification within the larger matrix of salvation or union with Christ?

Let me conclude by asking whether or not this wrong:

We are justified by faith alone.

The Scriptures are clear that we are not justified by works.

So faith must be contrasted with works.

Perseverance is necessary for a justified saint to be finally saved.

God, according to His sovereign grace and power, keeps us in Christ. So we ultimately continue.

This perseverance is active. It trusts in Christ, which, in turn, means that it acts.

This acting might be called obedience? Faithfullness?

Well, whatever it is exactly, we must not confuse it with the clear contrast of “not by works.”

Maybe we should look at what the Bible says about perseverance and use language appropriate to that.

What might that be?

Well, what about 1 Timothy 4:16, as one example?

Is perseverance watching one’s doctrine closely, which means studying and leaning on other solid teachers?

So is it right to talk about justification, in some remote sense, being dependent upon this kind of perserverance?

Respectfully,

Austin

I believe that you have made a leap or two over some fundamental facts.

Justification, the objective forensic declaration from heaven that he who has believed upon Jesus is, and forever shall be, in a right standing with the Judge of all the earth. There is no element of contingency in this declaration. The declaration of Justification is inviolable owing to the authority of the Judge. Equally there is no degree of uncertainty as to the perseverance in this state owing to the saving union with Christ and the incessant, unfailing work of the Holy Spirit.

The only uncertainty that exists is in the minds of fallible man who does not know perfectly what God knows: the Lord knows those who are His; we know with more or less confidence who those are but we admit of midjudgments.
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Confessor

You say, "To say that justification is in some sense contingent on perseverance (as you have stated) is to indeed state that perseverance is in that sense a cause of justification. And that is nothing less than heresy."

Confessor, do you believe that you must continue to the end in order to be presented holy and blameless before God (Colossians 1:21-23)? If you do, and if you believe that you are a justified saint, then by good logic we can say that you must continue or else not be saved. And if not saved, then what of justification?

It follows simply.

Now you will want to say that perserverance will necessarily accompany justification. True! But note! Why does it have to necessarily accompany justification? Precisely because it is necessary! (Read Thomas Schreiner, "The Race Set Before Us.")

If God tells someone they will never be burned, you can interpret that in two ways. Someone may say to themselves, "Well, I can put my hand in a fire and not be burned." In that sense, being burned isn't possible in any sense. They are impervious. But there is another sense, namely, if they put their hand in the fire they would be burned, but since God has decreed that person Y will never put their hand in the fire, He can say that they will never be burned.

See the difference? Jesus' legs on the cross could have been broken. They weren't made of steel. But they couldn't be broken by virtue of decree.

I am saying that salvation is truly and really contingent upon perserverance (If you touch the fire you will be burned). God, not wanting any of His sheep to be damned, actually preserves them from failing to meet the condition of perseverance. There is a real condition to be met. And thus God fulfills that condition.

This, I believe, is what Edwards is trying trying to lace together. Justification, as one aspect of the larger picture of salvation, falls under the larger contingency of necessary perserverance. If so, then justification is contingent in a remote sense. If one were to hypothetically not continue, then justification would be lost. It's like saying, if Christ's cross work is not applied, then Y won't be saved. That's true. It must be applied.

So when you quote Edwards as saying, "So that although the sinner is actually and finally justified on the first acts of faith..." and then conclude that contingent justification equals cause of justification, you are missing the point.

Edwards explains how the FUTURE ACTS factor into the justification. This discussion occurs in the context of the question of how perserverance factors into the discussion of justification. The fact that he would talk at all about future acts or what God will do in the life of the saint points conclusively to his being concerned contingencies that must be met .

Confessor, read Edwards in its entirety on this point. If you have, feel free to discuss this. Otherwise please read his argument.
 

Southern Twang

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't even know why we use the term Federal Vision anymore. The meaning behind the term has become so obfuscated it hardly resembles anything. I notice how a lot of people throw the term out there like it is heretical, yet backtrack quite often because they cannot pin the details down.

Oh if life could be a little simpler!
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Rbcbob

Bob,

You said, "There is no element of contingency in this declaration. The declaration of Justification is inviolable owing to the authority of the Judge. Equally there is no degree of uncertainty as to the perseverance in this state owing to the saving union with Christ and the incessant, unfailing work of the Holy Spirit."

See my discussion with Confessor. There is no degree of uncertainty as to the final salvation and perserverance of the saints, but that doesn't preclude the notion of contingency. Something can be contingent and never happen (Like loss of salvation).

Saints (who are justified) must continue or else. That means that all of salvation is contingent upon the condition of contunation. God meets the conditions (not only by forgiving us of our sins and imputing Christ's righteousness to us, but also preserving us in that union, without which, we would be lost. I mean, why talk about preserving anything if there isn't anything to preserve, or anything to be lost!).
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Confessor, do you believe that you must continue to the end in order to be presented holy and blameless before God (Colossians 1:21-23)? If you do, and if you believe that you are a justified saint, then by good logic we can say that you must continue or else not be saved. And if not saved, then what of justification?

Good works can be evidence, but not a cause, of justification.

I am saying that salvation is truly and really contingent upon perserverance (If you touch the fire you will be burned).

No, that's still false. Fire causes burning, but perseverance does not cause salvation.

Edwards explains how the FUTURE ACTS factor into the justification.

As a necessary effect, not cause.

Confessor, read Edwards in its entirety on this point. If you have, feel free to discuss this. Otherwise please read his argument.

If the text in the post is insufficient, then please say so. Otherwise it seems odd that you would provide text, prompt a response, and then tell the responder that he should go elsewhere and read.
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Greenbaggins

Thank you, Greenbaggins.

I have read Edwards very carefully from beginning to end on this subject. That he sees things in accordance with how I am quoting him, shouldn't be disputed, although some do, as you point out. Honestly, I think they are trying to keep Edwards from saying things that bother them.

Edwards does locate the sole cause of justification in Christ's righteousness. No doubt about that. But he also teaches, and I think quite clearly, that perseverance factors into the equation. How so? Well, I think my two quotes explain his thought process. And it makes good sense if one asks the simple question:

Does a saint (a born again saint) have to continue or else suffer condemnation? If one answers "yes," then certain implications follow. And Edwards wrestles with that (At least that's how I understand him).

Most people want to deflect this by saying things like, "Well, those who fall away were never really saved in the first place." True. But that doesn't explain everything. Or some will say, "Perserverance necessarily follows." Well, true again. But why does it necessarily follow? Because it must?

Austin
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Does a saint (a born again saint) have to continue or else suffer condemnation? If one answers "yes," then certain implications follow. And Edwards wrestles with that (At least that's how I understand him).

The question is loaded. It's not that a saint has to persevere in order to be saved; it's that a saint will persevere.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
austinbrown

Bob,

You said, "There is no element of contingency in this declaration. The declaration of Justification is inviolable owing to the authority of the Judge. Equally there is no degree of uncertainty as to the perseverance in this state owing to the saving union with Christ and the incessant, unfailing work of the Holy Spirit."

See my discussion with Confessor. There is no degree of uncertainty as to the final salvation and perserverance of the saints, but that doesn't preclude the notion of contingency. Something can be contingent and never happen (Like loss of salvation).

Saints (who are justified) must continue or else. That means that all of salvation is contingent upon the condition of contunation. God meets the conditions (not only by forgiving us of our sins and imputing Christ's righteousness to us, but also preserving us in that union, without which, we would be lost. I mean, why talk about preserving anything if there isn't anything to preserve, or anything to be lost!).

I did read your discussion with Confessor and weighed in because, dear brother, I believe that you are terrible confused.

You either do not understand the meaning of the word contingent or you do not understand the several components of salvation, i.e. election, calling, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, etc.

contingent:1.accidental, fortuitous, incidental. 2.conditional, dependent, relative.
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Confessor,

Confessor,

Alright, it's probably best if we discontinue our discussion. I don't think we're making headway. I'm sorry if this seems rude. I don't mean to be. We just aren't communicating well with each other.

Cheers brother,

Austin
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Rbcbob

I'm sorry, but I do know what contingent means, and I mean it in the sense of condition.

You must do X in order for Y to happen. Y is dependent upon X happening. X is a condition.

One condition of salvation is being united to Christ.

Allow me to further explain what I meant (in the red you highlighted). I wasn't terribly clear there. Sorry. I had in mind one of the logical fallacies of Arminianism on this point. Just because we must continue in the faith, it doesn't follow that some will fail to continue. Arminians look at the warning passages and conclude that since they say we must do X in order for Y to happen, then X must not happen for some. That's non sequitur.

My point is that salvation is contingent upon perserverance. Just because it is contigent, it doesn't mean that the contingency will fail to be met. It will be met. God will preserve His sheep.

Again, I'm sorry for writing so sloppppiilly. Does that clear things up?

If it ends up that you disagree with my assessment of salvation being contingent upon perserverance, then I simply point you back to the warnings. They say that if we do not do X, then Y will not happen. They are "If/Then" statements. If you do... then... Or, if you don't... then... I take that to mean contigent upon, or conditional.

Austin
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
Austinbrown

Austin,

Please understand that I am not opposed to telling any professing believer that it is absolutely imperative that he persevere in the faith and that if he does not then he will surely spend eternity with the devils and his angels. Herein lies the arena of the if/then variable.

You may place a carefully qualified if/then formula within the doctrine of PERSEVERANCE and not disturb the overall biblical doctrine of SALVATION under which it is subsumed.

However in the doctrines of predestination, regeneration, union-with-Christ, effectual calling, and justification, each of which are likewise subsumed under the overall doctrine of SALVATION, it is contrary to Scripture to predicate contingency of these. They are unilateral sovereign activities of God.

I hope this clarifies.
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Clarification

Here's what Robert L Reymond says regarding salvation and perserverance and conditions:

"These several conditions- endurance to the end, abiding in Christ and His Word, continuing in or holding fast the faith- are they not essential to one's final salvation? And where they do not exist, can that professing Chrstian expect to be finally saved? To the first question, the Calvinist would answer emphatically in the affirmative, and to the second, he would respond just as emphatically in the negative... These answers may come as a surprise... but Calvinists are as zealous to insist upon these conditions as means to salvation as Arminians."

A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, page 786.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Austin,

First off I want to chime in on your rebuke or caution to us who have found what Piper did as unsatisfactory.

If you will remember that Piper basically claimed that NAPARC got it wrong and that Wilson has been misunderstood. It has been shown in other places that Wilson has been an unsafe guide and keeps company with many unsafe guides. It isn't just about their views of justification. It also has to do with the effectualness of the sacraments. Albeit, I do think Wilson has a very bad doctrine of Covenant Theology which ultimately does effect his view of soteriology.

In discussing Edwards and Justification I do know that many share concerns about some of his writings. I would even venture to tell you that some of Richard Baxter's doctrines of justification went wayward and sounded a bit FV in his later years. Both were concerned with antinomianism.

Concerning perseverance I would say that the teaching itself has had various definitions. Some would say it has more to do with the righteousness of the believer and others would say it has to do with a faith in Christ's Person and Work that perseveres. Good works do follow but there is nothing justifying in any good works before God that would cause him to glorify us in the future.

I like to refer to Perseverance as Christ getting his lambs into the fold despite themselves. He inclines their hearts to know His voice and follow. He is the one with the Rod and Staff.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Sorry to re-enter, but anyway...

Reymond simply uses a poor choice of words. Of course Calvinists will say that perseverance, abiding in Christ, etc. are essential to salvation. But the question is, Are they essential as effects or as causes of justification?
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Bob

Bob,

They are unilateral activities of God. I agree. But dear brother, It befuddles me to think of the if/then formula as located within perseverance, and not also think of it as having a significant bearing upon final salvation. Yes, by virtue of predestination and God's declaring us righteous, the end is secure. And God will meet the conditions. No doubt. But we must continue or else. That is a reality... and I think, and so does Edwards, it does have some bearing upon the question of justification.

Alright. Gotta go. My wife and I are going out on a date!

Laters!
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Bob,

They are unilateral activities of God. I agree. But dear brother, It befuddles me to think of the if/then formula as located within perseverance, and not also think of it as having a significant bearing upon final salvation. Yes, by virtue of predestination and God's declaring us righteous, the end is secure. And God will meet the conditions. No doubt. But we must continue or else. That is a reality... and I think, and so does Edwards, it does have some bearing upon the question of justification.

Alright. Gotta go. My wife and I are going out on a date!

Laters!

What if one develops Alzheimers. How do you define perseverance then?
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
This thread is a good example of why Reformed churches preach and live according to the Scriptures and the Reformed confessions, not the Scriptures and the writings of any one theologian. Great indeed is that minister who has never written or spoken something that they would later have taken back if upon reflection they were given opportunity.

Much of what Edwards wrote was good, but not all of it. I'm not certain why we should find one off-sounding statement from Edwards upon which to camp unless we think it supports some view that we ourselves would like to see promoted. It's better just to say at this point, "That's what happens when you are a philosophically speculative, New England Congregationalist", and be done with it.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
(Rom 4:1) What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

(Rom 4:2) For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

(Rom 4:3) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

(Rom 4:4) Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

(Rom 4:5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

(Rom 4:6) Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

(Rom 4:7) Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

(Rom 4:8) Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

There is nothing that works justify before God except what the Son of God did as the Second Adam in fulfilling the Covenant of Works on our behalf.
 

glorifyinggodinwv

Puritan Board Sophomore
This thread is a good example of why Reformed churches preach and live according to the Scriptures and the Reformed confessions, not the Scriptures and the writings of any one theologian. Great indeed is that minister who has never written or spoken something that they would later have taken back if upon reflection they were given opportunity.

Much of what Edwards wrote was good, but not all of it. I'm not certain why we should find one off-sounding statement from Edwards upon which to camp unless we think it supports some view that we ourselves would like to see promoted. It's better just to say at this point, "That's what happens when you are a philosophically speculative, New England Congregationalist", and be done with it.

Maybe off-topic and I probably should just respond with a simple "thanks" to this post, but I think these are wise words and something to consider when looking at the corpus of a particular theologian or pastor.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
1. Notice, first, this is not a proposal by Edwards that all in the Church possess some "type" of union with Christ that allows them to persevere until they forsake the Covenant and lose that union with Christ.

2. What if Edwards taught a point contra the Reformed Confessions? *Gasp*

In other words, does Edwards change the WCF by his exception to a doctrine?

This is the typical "I found some Reformed luminary that taught something different than the Confession and so I am permitted to teach that same principle just like {insert famous Reformed name here} did."

The Church confesses, not individuals. I find the thread title pointless as it's like arguing that Augustine was the first Roman Catholic because he believed in Purgatory.

St. Augustine - A Catholic Saint!

*GASP!*
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
This thread is a good example of why Reformed churches preach and live according to the Scriptures and the Reformed confessions, not the Scriptures and the writings of any one theologian. Great indeed is that minister who has never written or spoken something that they would later have taken back if upon reflection they were given opportunity.

Much of what Edwards wrote was good, but not all of it. I'm not certain why we should find one off-sounding statement from Edwards upon which to camp unless we think it supports some view that we ourselves would like to see promoted. It's better just to say at this point, "That's what happens when you are a philosophically speculative, New England Congregationalist", and be done with it.

Cross posting. :amen:
 

J. David Kear

Puritan Board Freshman
My opinion on the opening question is, no.

As I read the Edwards citation I found myself wondering if he could be alternating his use of the term justification between the Pauline sense and Jamesine (is there such a word) sense?
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Re all

Wow, I leave to watch a movie and this thread explodes. There is more to address here than I have time. My bed beckons me.

Allow me to reply to multiples in one thread (save virtual space... call me cyber green).

Confessor: Couldn't resist, I see? Well, I'll let you disagree with Reymond, Hodge, Schriener and Edwards, to name a few... oh, and me. Now that should settle it! :) Wrestle with the biblical warning texts. I have been, seriously, for six years, pondering this issue at length. Go back to the Scriptures and keep studying.


PuritanCovenanter: It's fine, disagree with Piper. But listen, and please note this well, people were speaking very harshly about Piper. What? He doesn't understand the Gospel? GIVE ME A BREAK. Seriously. My blood boils at comments like that. They are cheap shots. They are baseless and devisive. I hate that. And so should you.

Regarding Edwards. Well, maybe Edwards did get it wrong... but maybe not. I think he is right. And the more I listen to people rail against what is good logic firmly rooted in Scripture, the more I tend to think that some have railed too strongly against some of the FV'ers on this point, namely, the language of perseverance and final salvation.

But regarding how you like to describe perseverance... I couldn't agree more. But when God says that none can snatch them out of His hand, does that mean that snatching is a conceivable reality? I beileve it is, otherwise, why talk about keeping and preserving? Preserve from what? I say hell. And if that is right, then we come back full circle... must a justified saint continue or else? If so, then how is it that a person whose sins have been forgiven can IN ANY SENSE face the threat of eternal death (See Colossians 1:21-23)?

Now someone will say, "Ah, but some are not real sheep. Those who fall away were never really true sheep in the first place." Well, that's good theology, but it doesn't tell the whole story. A careful study of the warnings will reveal that the warnings are leveled truly and genuinely at a true Christian (Who also happens to be justified). What is the answer to this? Edwards explains.

Now what about alzheimers? Fair question. I believe that God is gracious and will keep His sheep... even those who lose their minds. As to how I work out the math on that issue, I must leave that up to God. But nevertheless, I don't want to make peculiar cases erase what the Scriptures teach clearly over and over again. People with sober minds are warned, and I build my case off of that.

Archulite: Well, I think there is wisdom in what you say. But here's the thing. In my study of the Scriptures, I began to ask the questions Edwards addresses. Look around. Seriously. Check out the systematics. Very few seriously address the relationship of justification to perseverance. Perseverance is often discussed against the backdrop of Arminianism. I think Edwards is fundamentally right here, based on the Scriptures. Does it contradict the WCF? I don't know. I don't think so. You seem to be assuming that it does.

Could you explain how his position does contradict it? Or maybe, just maybe, we have some overly sensitive Reformed folks when it comes to the necessity of perseverance. I think so, anyway. Just look at this thread. Confessor throws out the heretic word at the drop of a hat. He even disagrees with Robert L Reymond, a pretty solid Reformed guy, I think.

John Frame was right when he talked about Machen's warrior children. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are a people who like to fight and nitpick (And yes, there are times to piledrive people, I'm not denying that).

Semper: I don't follow what you are saying. Could you explain? I think you are making a reference to FV theology in point one, right? If that is right, then yes, you are correct. Some of the FV guys go too far and slip into dangerous waters. I don't deny that. But here I'm more concerned with one simple strand, namely, the relationship of justification to perseverance. I think people are quick to pull out the heretic card if someone even remotely sounds like they are saying obedience plays a role in salvation. I point you back to the questions of my original post in this regard, if you would like to address that.

David Kear: I think that's a good question. And I don't think that observation can entirely account for Edward's language and teaching on this issue. I'll let you read him and decide.

Ok, I made it. Night, night.
 
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