Is this *gasp* Federal Vision talk?

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brianeschen

Puritan Board Junior
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.

. . .

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.
Heretic is found 5 times in this thread (8 now) and four of those times are by you (post 1, post 6 - a quote from post 1, post 9 - "heretical" not in relationship to FV and post 30 - used twice by you). For Confessor being quick to throw out the "heretic" word he sure is late in coming.:gpl:
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
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.

First off I haven't heard anyone say Piper doesn't understand the Gospel. In fact I have heard the opposite and that should be a reason that Doug Wilson shouldn't have been invited. Especially when Wilson attributes salvific work in the sacraments and that people are placed in union with Christ by them. So the complaints I have heard are not what you have heard.

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 concerning your conceivable reality of being snatched out of the Saviours hand. I couldn't disagree with you more. It is a promise from the Saviour that he will keep us and that no one can take us from him. Either one has eternal life or they don't. Either one passed from death to life or they have not. (John 5:24) Either one has been justified and paid for by Christ's atoning propitiating work or they haven't been. No works of obedience can ever be weighed in the equation.

I believe the warning is correct. Just as is the parable of the sower is a good warning as well as is 2 Corinthians 13:5 that we need to examine ourselves whether we are truly in the faith or not. For many have crept in unaware as it says in Galatians 2:4 and Jude 1:4.

BTW, there are no works mentioned in Colosians 1:23.

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.

A careful reading in the Hebrews passage reveals something different. And Paul doesn't assume everyone in the local gathering is truly considered sheep or he wouldn't tell of those who have crept in unawares in the passages I cited above.

(2Co 13:5) Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

(Gal 2:4) And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:


(Jud 1:4) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Our Reformed forefathers believed that justification, as explained by previous confessional statements (i.e. the Belgic Confession & the Heidelberg Catechism), was part of the bedrock of our perseverance and was instructive to our comfort with respect to its finality (and thus the finality of our 'destination'). For justification, as the following article shows, is based upon our election in Christ and so there is truly no grounds for us to conceive of it being in anyway contingent because election is, as we know, unconditional (cf. Romans 8:29-30).

Canons of Dordrecht, 5th Head, Article 6

But God, who is rich in mercy, according to His unchangeable purpose of election, does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit from His own people even in their grievous falls; nor suffers them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption and forfeit the state of justification, or to commit the sin unto death or against the Holy Spirit; nor does He permit them to be totally deserted, and to plunge themselves into everlasting destruction.

Without justification being connected to the doctrine of election one might certainly believe that one needs to do something in order to maintain their justification or persevere in it. And thus it was the Arminians who taught that one could lose their justification:

Canons of Dordrecht, 5th Head, RE, Paragraph 3

Who teach: That the true believers and regenerate not only can fall from justifying faith and likewise from grace and salvation wholly and to the end, but indeed often do fall from this and are lost forever.

It may also be helpful to note that our Reformed fathers certainly believed in the possibility of the elect falling away, with respect to themselves.

Canons of Dordrecht, 5 Head of Doctrine, Article 3

By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and also because of the temptations of the world and of Satan, those who are converted could not persevere in that grace if left to their own strength. But God is faithful, who, having conferred grace, mercifully confirms and powerfully preserves them therein, even to the end.

Justification is for our hope and comfort. The perseverance of the saints is built on or from that doctrine (among others) and therefore we may not confuse the appointed or decreed end (eternal salvation) with the means (justification - or sanctification for that matter - in time) as if the former depended on the latter.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
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?

:agree:

One must be careful to watch for the use of terms like justification being used in terms of assurance of ones own justification, as in we observe Abraham's justification by his works, and the secret act of God in justifying.

Similarly we know that in one who has been saved there is a certain amount of definitive sanctification.

This is why it is distinctly and precisely called definitive sanct.

It is a part of that same act of regeneration and yet there is an eye to that reflex action and fruit that the imparted faith will produce.

These are, should be, or nearly be indistinguishable to the human eye.

But we know they exist.

So it is proper in this understood context to speak of works being inevitable, and
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.

When in context with such language as
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.”

Not that the works actually are, but as it were, they so infallibly shall be that we can speak with certainty as to what will follow immediately and indiscernibly to man. Thus the language in James.

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.”

Not actually but virtually. Do you know the difference between reality and virtual reality?
He speaks very clearly and precisely of the fact that this faith will infallibly persevere therefore we can expect or behold it virtually as if it was there because indistinguishably to us as to timing, these works will begin to show up and will no doubt continue to the end.

This in no way implies works being involved in anything to do with becoming regenerated, or arising in and from the unregenerate, or having merit.

JE speaks only to us to inform us as James does, as to the fact God has so ordered these that the one will infallibly and indistinguishably follow from true conversion and we can glory and trust in this knowledge. If we are born again, we will produce fruit, and we will persevere, and this is the end god has in mind in the work of regeneration.

Though some people who have not spent much time in study of J Edwards or even some Puritans and their language may not be clear on how to understand them, a thorough reading of them makes it clear they believed in grace alone, faith alone and works absolutely and necessarily resulting from them.
Doctrinally distinguishable, but not necessarily to the human eye and experience.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
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.”
Austin,

I'm puzzled that you believe that Edwards is proposing that final justification has its root in faithfulness.

I think your understanding of the WCF on the nature of saving faith or union with Christ is deficient as you manifest confusion in your presentation.

Edwards is simply making a point that the Sinner who first believes with evangelical faith will fully and finally believe. Why? Because faith, and the union with Christ, are both as a result of Sovereign election (notice the language of divine establishment).
This means that justification, in some sense, whether remotely or intimately, is contingent upon perseverance.
You have the contingency backward. It's like saying that a tree is contingent upon its fruit. If we see a good tree and it yields good fruit to the end because its Maker ensures it then we cannot state that the tree itself was contingent upon the fruit it produced to the end. Final, persevering faith is, as Edwards sees it, contained within first, justifying faith and continued faith is a fruit of justifying faith (as is sanctification).

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?
The Parable of the Sower perhaps? John's 1st Epistle is also very good.

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?”
That is not what Edwards says. He states that the sinner "...is actually and finally justified on the first acts of faith...." If a person does not continue in faith, it does not follow that he first had such faith and did not continue in obedience but, as above, a person who had that first faith must continue in faith because the first faith was wrought from above and not from within just as obedience is wrought from above.

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?
You have the contingency backwards. First faith is the instrument by which the believer is justified and united to Christ. Perseverance is contingent upon union with Christ (God's sovereign election) and not the other way around.

If so what is the appropriate language to communicate this reality?

Here is a great way to communicate the truths of Divine Sovereignty in election and saving faith, the nature of the justification that occurs from faith wrought from above and the benefits that follow from the same. Again, perseverance is a fruit of union with Christ and the latter is not contingent on the former but gives rise to it.
CHAPTER XI.
Of Justification.

I. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

III. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction of his Father's justice in their behalf. Yet inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for any thing in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify the elect; and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins and rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.

V. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God's Fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.

VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respect, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.
CHAPTER XII.
Of Adoption.

All those that are justified, God vouchsafeth, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption: by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God; have his name put upon them; receive the Spirit of adoption; have access to the throne of grace with boldness; are enabled to cry, Abba, Father; are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by his as by a father; yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation.
CHAPTER XIII.
Of Sanctification.

I. They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

II. This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life: there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

III. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome: and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
CHAPTER XIV.
Of Saving Faith.

I. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts; and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word: by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.

II. By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of god himself speaking therein; and acteth differently, upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come. But the principle acts of saving faith are, accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.

III. This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; may be often and many ways assailed and weakened, but gets the victory; growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.


CHAPTER XVII.
Of The Perseverance of the Saints.

I. They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.

II. This perseverance of the saints depends, not upon their own free-will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; the abiding of the Spirit and of the seed of God within them; and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.

III. Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalancy of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their perseverance, fall into grievous sins; ad for a time continue therein: whereby they incur God's displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit; come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and prevalancy others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.

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?
Again, I think your deficient understanding of Reformed orthodoxy and the broader issue is manifest in your question. You are missing the nuance here.

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?
Again, you are missing the priority and what is the fruit of the other. You agree above that justification is not sanctification but then you drive a wedge between faithfulness and sanctification and assume that saying faithfulness is just another way of saying first, saving faith. Perseverance is between justification and glorification because it is subsumed, in a sense, with sanctification.

What you don't seem to apprehend is the nature of justifying faith, which is merely an instrument to lay hold of Christ's righteousness. That first act is wrought in us by the Holy Spirit and all saving graces ensue. That continued faith results (as well as exhortations to that end as means of grace) is not in dispute. But that continued faith is contingent upon God's movement and a fruit of justifying faith and union with Christ. You can't go to the conclusion of the matter and say my starting the race was contingent upon my finishing the race because I must finish the race if I started it. You are making Edwards contradict himself in your attempts to see something that is not there.

A gentle warning to be careful in your response and to consider the Confessions and what you are promoting here. You need to study more on this issue before you try to teach some of the folks here that have studied much more deeply on the subject as evidenced by your confusion of some very basic principles.
:judge:
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Especially when Wilson attributes salvific work in the sacraments and that people are placed in union with Christ by them.

I don't mean to imply you have any facts wrong in that quote, but for my own use in the future if this comes up, do you have any reference- preferably a direct link to Wilson himself or a page # in a book, and not what others said about him- to back up your sentence? Thanks. (If it is too much trouble don't worry about it.)
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Especially when Wilson attributes salvific work in the sacraments and that people are placed in union with Christ by them.

I don't mean to imply you have any facts wrong in that quote, but for my own use in the future if this comes up, do you have any reference- preferably a direct link to Wilson himself or a page # in a book, and not what others said about him- to back up your sentence? Thanks. (If it is too much trouble don't worry about it.)

Although I don't have a page number, in the book Not Reformed at All, Wilson's book "Reformed" Is Not Enough is critiqued, and in the latter he pervasively argues that someone becomes a Christian and is unified with Christ ex opere operato through baptism.

-----Added 7/8/2009 at 09:36:29 EST-----

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.

Naming people who you think agree with you, telling me to read them, and then telling me to read the Bible -- and all this without replying to the specific points I am making regarding your inversion of causality -- I can have no respect for that.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
I realize there are already so many posts in this thread that one more might simply cause confusion, but there are a few things that need to be said, Austin.

1.) You have not taken into account that condition is not a univocal term, but has diverse meanings: for one, you have confused conditions a priori with conditions a posteriori, and have also failed in your analysis to take into account the sina qua non.

2.) As noted above, you have confused the narrow term justification, with its more broad cousin "salvation," and in the midst of this have attributed too much to "final salvation" or "final justification," which is but the vindication and full declaration of what was/is already true.

3.) Coexistence does not imply coefficiency or cooperation.

4.) Again, our divines sometimes distinguish between justification a priori and justification a posteriori. The former is justification properly so called, wherein a person is transfered into a new forensic state -- faith alone has any role in this; the latter is declarative, and more things than faith as an instrument do play a part in this.

It is inaccurate to say that most of our divines did not wrestle deeply with these issues. Perseverance is a condition of the New Covenant, but this cannot be said properly (that is, a condition a priori) of justification. It is not the fact of perseverance which makes a faith to be a "persevering faith;" rather, it is the fact that it is a "persevering faith" which makes it to persevere. Therefore, as since this faith stands in the relationship of an a priori condition to justification, the perseverance can (at most) stand only in the role of an a posteriori, or a necessary, resultant disposition in the subject.

Finally, note well the quotes from Dort which Rev. Kok posted. Our confessions address these issues.
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Re:

PuritanCovenanter:

Here is the recent thread that bothered me:

http://www.puritanboard.com/f77/joh...son-inviting-doug-wilson-dg-conference-49931/

I'll let you decide. I have stated what I have stated and I stand by it. I have nothing more to say.


Brianeschen: Um, thanks for the stats, you heretic :) (Just kidding)


Confessor: I don't think you are right on the question of conditionality. I think mainstream Reformed thought agrees with Reymond. So, sorry man, keep reading.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Confessor: I don't think you are right on the question of conditionality. I think mainstream Reformed thought agrees with Reymond. So, sorry man, keep reading.

Austin, do you realize how disrespectful it is to tell someone that he's wrong and that he needs to keep reading without addressing his specific arguments?
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Semper

Semper,

You said, "I'm puzzled that you believe that Edwards is proposing that final justification has its root in faithfulness."

Didn't say that. Don't believe it.

Brother, please, notice what I was doing in my original post. I was upset with what people were saying about Piper. And I was raising Edwards, with all his "confusing" language, so as to make a point about one specific area of FV talk (especially Douglas Wilson).

Having missed my ambition (which may not have been sufficiently clear and for that I apologize) you want to say that I don't understand Reformed theology. I do. I am simply displaying some sympathy toward those who want to talk about the obedience of faith. I have personally wrestled with the relationship between justification and perserverance for a long time. Most of what I have read has not really wrestled with the issue. It is often the simplistic "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone." Well, true enough. Edwards probed the question further however. More than anyone I know. And he seems to say some things that echo, in certain ways, what someone like Douglas Wilson has expressed.


Edwards says, "I have shown that the way in which justiciation has a dependence on faith, is, that it is the qualitifacaiton on which the congruity of an interst in the righteousness of Christ depends, or wherein such a fitness consists. But the consideration of the perseverance of faith cannot be excluded out of the congruity for fitness, for it is congrous that he that believes in Christ should have an interest in Christ's righteousness, and o in the eternal benefits purchased by it, because faith is that by which the soul hath union or oneness in Christ; and there is a natural congruity in it, that they who are one with Christ should have a joint interest with him in his eternal benefits; but yet this congruity depends on its being an abiding union."

Note how Edwards begins his discussion (and read the rest). For him, if I am reading him right, he gives full weight to the conditionality of salvation (which includes justification). He is trying to thread together the points I am making about the warning passages and good old Reformed dogmatics regarding justification by faith alone (which he is right on).

I gotto go eat. I'll be back. Sorry, supper is getting cold :)

I'll explain myself further in a moment.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
Semper,

You said, "I'm puzzled that you believe that Edwards is proposing that final justification has its root in faithfulness."

Didn't say that. Don't believe it.

Brother, please, notice what I was doing in my original post. I was upset with what people were saying about Piper. And I was raising Edwards, with all his "confusing" language, so as to make a point about one specific area of FV talk (especially Douglas Wilson).

Having missed my ambition (which may not have been sufficiently clear and for that I apologize) you want to say that I don't understand Reformed theology. I do. I am simply displaying some sympathy toward those who want to talk about the obedience of faith. I have personally wrestled with the relationship between justification and perserverance for a long time. Most of what I have read has not really wrestled with the issue. It is often the simplistic "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone." Well, true enough. Edwards probed the question further however. More than anyone I know. And he seems to say some things that echo, in certain ways, what someone like Douglas Wilson has expressed.


Edwards says, "I have shown that the way in which justiciation has a dependence on faith, is, that it is the qualitifacaiton on which the congruity of an interst in the righteousness of Christ depends, or wherein such a fitness consists. But the consideration of the perseverance of faith cannot be excluded out of the congruity for fitness, for it is congrous that he that believes in Christ should have an interest in Christ's righteousness, and o in the eternal benefits purchased by it, because faith is that by which the soul hath union or oneness in Christ; and there is a natural congruity in it, that they who are one with Christ should have a joint interest with him in his eternal benefits; but yet this congruity depends on its being an abiding union."

Note how Edwards begins his discussion (and read the rest). For him, if I am reading him right, he gives full weight to the conditionality of salvation (which includes justification). He is trying to thread together the points I am making about the warning passages and good old Reformed dogmatics regarding justification by faith alone (which he is right on).

I gotto go eat. I'll be back. Sorry, supper is getting cold :)

I'll explain myself further in a moment.

Austin, I and others more knowledgeable than myself, have sought to advise you that your thinking on justification and contingency are not consistent with the historic Reformed doctrine of salvation. You do not seem to be taking these counsels seriously. Here again are the points that I asked you to consider and which you have not dealt with:
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.

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
Re:

Greenbaggins: I need to streamline this thread. Confessor and I don't communicate well. If it is inflammatory for me to say "keep reading," then ok. I withdraw it for the sake of charity.

-----Added 7/8/2009 at 05:32:05 EST-----

Semper (and all):

Question 73: How does faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

Answer: Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receives and applies Christ and his righteousness.


Do you think Edwards contradicts this when he says,

"On the whole, it appears, that the perseverance of faith is necessary, even to the congruity of justification; and that not the less, because a sinner is justified, and perseverance promised, on the first act of faith, but God, in that justication has respect, not only to the past act of faith, but to His own promise of future acts, and to the fitness of a qualification beheld as yet only in His own promise. And that perseverance in faith is thus necessary to salvation, not merely as a sine qua non, or as an universal concomitant of it, but by reason of such an influence and dependence, seems manifest by many scriptures..."

Doesn't this appear to contradict the WLC when it says, "not because of those graces which always do accompany it..."

Now when you say, "Edwards is simply making a point that the Sinner who first believes with evangelical faith will fully and finally believe," I trust you can understand why I have a hard time believing that statement.

Frankly, Edwards can sound confusing. Note how he wraps up:

"So that as was befroe said of faith, so may it be said of child-liek obedience, it has no concern ni justification by any virtue or excellency in it; but only as there is a reception of Christ in it. And this is not more contrary to the apostl's frequent assertion of our being justified without the works of the law, than to say that we are justified by faith; for faith is as much a work, or act of Christian obedience, as the expressions of faith, in spiritual life and walk. And therefore, as we say that faith does not justify as a work, so we say of all these effective expressions of faith."

The language goes back and forth.

But look, maybe I don't understand the FV to the extent of other people here, but when I listen to some, especially Wilson, I get the impression that he is wrestling with the relationship of justification to perseverance. Surely he doesn't sound any more confused than Edwards, right?

And in my own studies, apart from any FV guys or whomever, I am driven to think of the issue in terms of Edwards... and that may make me sound confusing. But only because I think the Scriptures present two pictures that are difficult to bridge.

Is that fair? Ultimately, I'm just saying, hey, it looks like justified saints are warned. They must not commit apostasy. But how is it even possible for them to commit apostasy, I ask? How is that even a threat? Or how could that be a threat given our view of justification? It feels like it is saying, "You cannot be burned, but don't touch that flame or you will be burned."

These are fair questions. And it seems like people want to slam me for raising them and wrestling with them and claim that I'm misguided.

So maybe someone could explain how a justified saint can be threatened with hell? (And I don't find ultimately convincing the argument that makes all the warnings retrospective... as if the warnings only reveal who isn't a Christian.)
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Austin,

If you want to ask how a person can be threatened with hell for apostasy then you took a very circuitous route to do so.

Which are you trying to establish:

a. that Edwards seems to be saying that justification is somehow contingent upon perseverance (rather than the other way around)
b. that Edwards can be confusing at times
c. that Wilson can be confusing at times
d. that Edwards and Wilson are confusing because, like Edwards, Wilson is one of the most brilliant scholars that America has ever produced.
e. that we cannot simply talk about justification by faith as some sort of abstract doctrine and not exhort Saints to improve upon their baptism?

I'm left puzzled because I engaged the very issue of Wilson and other FV proponents in two other threads and noted that they had valid critiques on modern forms of Reformed thought that have completed neglected the Standard's teaching on the 3rd use of the Law. I noted, as I will again to you, that if people seem to be having trouble finding places that talk about what it means "to work out your salvation with fear and trembling because God is at work in you to will and to do His good pleasure" then I would suggest they haven't read the WCF very carefully and, just as important, haven't read the Larger Catechism (just as a place to start).

FV proponents (and the PG-13 variants like Wilson) always want to paint the problem of Reformed Orthodoxy as the "let's only use Redemptive Historical hermeneutics and never exhort or warn Saints but only tell people what Christ has done". In other words, they haven't really ever critiqued (and in some cases one wonders if they ever really understood) Reformed causistry as it was practiced in an orthodox way. Thus, they lure in the unwitting how think it's either Antinomianism or their version of "Reformed isn't Enough" that will provide meat on what perseverance looks like.

As I said before, it is a false dilemma. It's not either the FV or antinomianism and just because Wilson has something to say about perseverance and you can't seem to find others talking about it doesn't mean our Reformed forebears (except Edwards) were silent about it either.
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Re:

Prufrock,

I'm confused with point one. I understand the words, but have no idea how that applies to me. Could you clarify? (Maybe just answer the 4th point. I think that where the substance of the discussion rests).

Point 2: Salvation is not justification. I agree. But as a matter of practical concern, salvation is just as important as justification, existentially speaking. And yes, justification is the verdict of the eschaton brought into the present (which is really good news). I agree. But do you think Edwards is right when he talks about God taking into account our continuation as a property of justifying faith?

Point 3. Again, don't know what you mean.

4. I follow you here. And note it.

You say, "It is inaccurate to say that most of our divines did not wrestle deeply with these issues. Perseverance is a condition of the New Covenant, but this cannot be said properly (that is, a condition a priori) of justification. It is not the fact of perseverance which makes a faith to be a "persevering faith;" rather, it is the fact that it is a "persevering faith" which makes it to persevere. Therefore, as since this faith stands in the relationship of an a priori condition to justification, the perseverance can (at most) stand only in the role of an a posteriori, or a necessary, resultant disposition in the subject."

Well, maybe most did wrestle with it. But then I guess I'm not well read enough. But never mind that. I'm trying to really understand what you mean with the rest of the paragraph.

Point out what is wrong in the following to help clarify:

You excercised faith in Christ and were declared righteous.

God declared you just, having forgiven your sins and imputing the righteousness of Christ to your account.

Now, in your new standing and relationship with God, you must continue to the end, persevering in the faith, or else be damned (Instead of "be damned" maybe we could say "not be saved?" Or, "go to hell" Or "Be condemned?")

Now if it is true that you must continue, then is it right to say that salvation is presently contingent upon abiding in Christ? In other words, there is a condition that must be met in order to obtain the salvation at the end of history (The not yet). And that condition is continuing in the faith.

If there is a condition, then doesn't it mean that, hypothetically speaking, something could be lost? (Note my disitnction concerning the breaking of Jesus' legs. They could have been broken, in one sense, but it was impossible in another sense).

What could be lost? Well, salvation. What is part of salvation? Justification.

Since justification (under the umbrella of salvation) could be lost, not in actual point of coming to pass, but by logical necessity, is it right to say that justification is contingent in some sense?

If not, why not?

See what I'm stabbing at? If God is keeping us, He is keeping us from something. What is that something. Damnation. And that presupposes there is a potentiality, on some level, of damnation. And if there is a potentiality, then it means that our present standing, while secure in the decree of God, is contingent. There could be a counter factual reality. And how would that counter factual reality come to pass? Apostasy. Or to put it another way, not continuing in the faith.

Now if we must continue in the faith, I ask myself, then doesn't obedience slide into the picture? And if obedience slides into the picture, how so? We don't want to say that works are in any sense a ground of justification. Christ is. But if salvation is contingent upon perseverance (which looks a lot like obedience), and if justification could be lost, hypothetically speaking, then it seems that obedience plays an important role.

So, ok, let's say it doesn't change the justification formula. But if a lack of perseverance (ultimately speaking) can have THAT profound an impact on our standing with God, then, well, what shall we say? We can be damned for lack of perseverance?



That's about as clear as I can express myself. Hopefully you can take your nomenclature and adjust it to my language. That would be helpful.

Thanks.

-----Added 7/8/2009 at 07:43:35 EST-----

Semper:

Well, the post has zipped this way and that. Maybe I was too jumbled originally- not focused enough. Here was my thought process that lead me to write it.

I read what people were saying about Piper. It ticked me off. His inviting Douglas Wilson to speak doesn't say anything, in my opinion, about his slipping or whatever. And as I've struggled with justification and perseverance, I ran across Wilson who said a lot of things that made sense to me. Those things that make sense, specifically, warnings and what not, have seemed to cause some to have a cow. Now granted, I know enough about this debate to know that there's a lot more to it than that. But still. If people, I was thinking, have a problem with Wilson, then why not Edwards (on this point)?

So I posted.

I just think Reformed Presbyterians are quick to call people into question if they don't say exactly what they think people should say about justification. Yes, sure, there's a lot of history here. I know. And it is a very, very important doctrine. I agree. But the Bible does have warnings. It does say "work out your salvation" as you point out. I just think the Bible speaks in ways that make some Reformed guys uncomfortable. They hesitate to say it like Paul did (or they say it but then fall back on systematic categories). But, sure, there's nothing really wrong with that. I do it as well. But again, sometimes an apostle just said one side of the coin and left it at that. He didn't feel the need to insert 22 footnotes.

I don't know. It's hard to put in words what I just know to be true by living life.

Anyone is free to disagree. But it's what I have experienced.
 
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