Priority of Theology Proper over Soteriology

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That is technically true, but on the issues (Doctrine of God; partitive exegesis; kenosis) where White has gotten in trouble are not those on the edge of the light. It is what the entire church has always affirmed.
Just to be clear I am not meaning my use of White's example to necessarily indicate agreement with White on all issues where these debates have been taking place. I do find the analogy helpful, whether or not we always agree on exactly where those limits are.
 
Just to be clear I am not meaning my use of White's example to necessarily indicate agreement with White on all issues where these debates have been taking place. I do find the analogy helpful, whether or not we always agree on exactly where those limits are.
From what I've seen, White isn't being condemned for putting forth bold, positive assertions about the hidden things of God, but rather for not uncritically accepting the modern Thomists' speculations about the hidden things of God as undisputed facts and requirements for orthodoxy.
 
"I'm first a Christian, next a catholic, then a Calvinist, fourth a paedobaptist, and fifth a Presbyterian. I cannot reverse this order."
John "Rabbi" Duncan

One cannot deny cardinal doctrines of the nature of God and be called a Christian, much less a Presbyterian.

The issue is one of basic Nicene and Chalcedonian orthodoxy. All Reformed and Presbyterian Confessions affirm the catholic doctrines on the nature of God, the Trinity, and the hypostatic union.

As an example, many were cool with Mark Driscoll because he seemed Calvinistic even though he fudged on certain basic catholic doctrines.

The Protestant Reformed and Orthodox Churches did not "un-catholic" errant Church bodies that still held to catholic doctrines but did not recognize Socinians or radical Anabaptists as Churches at all. One does not have to have all their philosophical ideas completely tight or worked out, but it's simply not possible to deny God as He is or core aspects of Trinitarian theology and be a Christian.
 
If I could put this another way, the Confessional statements in Chapter 2 of the WCF are all "catholic" statements. You're not even Christian if you can't confess these truths because you don't have the true God in view.

Furthermore, speaking of our Mediator:
Q. 38. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God?
A. It was requisite that the Mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death,144 give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession;145 and to satisfy God’s justice,146 procure his favour,147 purchase a peculiar people,148 give his Spirit to them,149 conquer all their enemies,150 and bring them to everlasting salvation.151

Q. 39. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be man?
A. It was requisite that the Mediator should be man, that he might advance our nature,152 perform obedience to the law,153 suffer and make intercession for us in our nature,154 have a fellow-feeling of our infirmities;155 that we might receive the adoption of sons,156 and have comfort and access with boldness unto the throne of grace.157

Q. 40. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God and man in one person?
A. It was requisite that the Mediator, who was to reconcile God and man, should himself be both God and man, and this in one person, that the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us,158 and relied on by us as the works of the whole person.159

You don't have the right Mediator if you don't understand that He is God and Man in one Person. Not a hybrid, not partially God, and not a God that is not the God confessed in Chapter 2.
 
From what I've seen, White isn't being condemned for putting forth bold, positive assertions about the hidden things of God, but rather for not uncritically accepting the modern Thomists' speculations about the hidden things of God as undisputed facts and requirements for orthodoxy.

From what I've seen, White isn't being condemned for putting forth bold, positive assertions about the hidden things of God, but rather for not uncritically accepting the modern Thomists' speculations about the hidden things of God as undisputed facts and requirements for orthodoxy.

Not one person has condemned Wright for not being a Thomist. Rather, we expressed concern over his comments on divine simplicity, whether the second person of the Trinity had full access to divine knowledge, and his comments on inseparable operations.
 
To be fair to James, there are many who are conflating the acceptance of the historical "rule of faith" (Trinitarian and Chalcedonian orthodoxy) with "you either agree with Thomas or you do not hold to the 'rule of faith'".

Thomas systematized the rule of faith in both helpful ways and ways that others might systematize differently while affirming the substance of the doctrines. It would be helpful if people who are trying to renew interest in the "rule of faith" would not argue that all Christians everywhere in the Reformation and post-Reformation era were "Thomistic."

To be critical of White, however, he sees every current criticism both as aimed at him directly when speakers might not even have him in view and that every speaker that talks about the rule of faith as being all cut out of the same cloth.
 
To be critical of White, however, he sees every current criticism both as aimed at him directly when speakers might not even have him in view and that every speaker that talks about the rule of faith as being all cut out of the same cloth.
Trueman could have put this to rest by simply having the courtesy to reply to White and confirm if the criticism was aimed at him or not. White says he has called, e-mailed, and requested clarification in every possible way but has received no response at all from Trueman.
 
"I'm first a Christian, next a catholic, then a Calvinist, fourth a paedobaptist, and fifth a Presbyterian. I cannot reverse this order."
John "Rabbi" Duncan

One cannot deny cardinal doctrines of the nature of God and be called a Christian, much less a Presbyterian.

The issue is one of basic Nicene and Chalcedonian orthodoxy. All Reformed and Presbyterian Confessions affirm the catholic doctrines on the nature of God, the Trinity, and the hypostatic union.

As an example, many were cool with Mak Driscol because he seemed Calvinistic even though he fudged on certain basic catholic doctrines.

The Protestant Reformed and Orthodox Churches did not "un-catholic" errant Church bodies that still held to catholic doctrines but did not recognize Socinians or radical Anabaptists as Churches at all. One does not have to have all their philosophical ideas completely tight or worked out, but it's simply not possible to deny God as He is or cored aspects of Trinitarian theology and be a Christian.
I say to you that getting theology proper right but getting the gospel wrong means you are not a Christian.
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If I could put this another way, the Confessional statements in Chapter 2 of the WCF are all "catholic" statements. You're not even Christian if you can't confess these truths because you don't have the true God in view.

Furthermore, speaking of our Mediator:


You don't have the right Mediator if you don't understand that He is God and Man in one Person. Not a hybrid, not partially God, and not a God that is not the God confessed in Chapter 2.
True. But the reason we are right to prioritize soteriology over theology proper is that there are definite gospel propositions that must be affirmed to be saved, but in theology proper as long a handful of propositions aren’t explicitly denied virtually all traditions grant wiggle room for saying someone is a Christian. Which is why your PCA member questions indicate a priority of soterioogy over theology proper (!) Yup. They do. Brute fact. All the questions are gospel related questions (well, the four are anyway) and they mention nothing about the Trinity or the hypostatic union, etc. (and no “as he is presented in the Gospel” is not shorthand for all that. But even if t is, note they aren’t explicitly being asked about.) But of course one must affirm (not deny) the Trinity or hypostatic union to be counted as having believed in the one true God. Heb 11:6 underscores the basic a priori belief in God that is required.

So 1 Cor 15 sets the tone. And so in my preaching and teaching I am right - to preach the Gospel week in and week out and not lectures on theology proper.

One more thing: it should be granted that not every single topic within “theology proper“ is of equal importance for orthodoxy, nor is every single doctrine within soteriology. The fact is certain doctrines related to theology proper are utterly essential for orthodoxy, and the same for soteriology. (Heck, I think just about every locus has *some* elements that are required to be considered a Christian, just some moreso than others.) I do not believe that *everything* in soterilogy or theology proper is equally essential. So please don’t hear me saying that EVERYTHING related to Soteriology should take priority over everything in theology proper. That’s not what I’m saying.

Anyway, I’ve said enough. Y’all have a great time debating this.
 
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So 1 Cor 15 sets the tone. And so in my preaching and teaching I am right - to preach the Gospel week in and week out and not lectures on theology proper.

I agree with a good bit of this, but there are some issues. By itself, apart from second order reflections, 1 Corinthians 15 full includes Roman Catholics, since they agree with all of those propositions. I'm not quite ready to go that far in table fellowship.

While it is true that I can't have eucharistic fellowship with everyone who affirms the Nicene Creed (e.g., Orthodox and Roman Catholics), neither am I ready to have table fellowship with those who say that Jesus is eternally subordinate to the Father.

And why must preaching soteriology be contrasted with "lectures on the doctrine of God"? That negatively prejudices the doctrine of God, effectively begging the question against it.
 
I agree with a good bit of this, but there are some issues. By itself, apart from second order reflections, 1 Corinthians 15 full includes Roman Catholics, since they agree with all of those propositions. I'm not quite ready to go that far in table fellowship.

While it is true that I can't have eucharistic fellowship with everyone who affirms the Nicene Creed (e.g., Orthodox and Roman Catholics), neither am I ready to have table fellowship with those who say that Jesus is eternally subordinate to the Father.

And why must preaching soteriology be contrasted with "lectures on the doctrine of God"? That negatively prejudices the doctrine of God, effectively begging the question against it.

We also cannot divorce 1 Corinthians 15 from fundamental and foundational texts like Deuteronomy 6:4 - Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Jehovah, I AM THAT I AM] our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

The early creedal statement of the Church is theology proper fused to devotion and adoration. In that, we also see that theology proper is never meant to be dry and abstract - but is meant to warm the heart and the soul and to overawe us with a sense of the God we are called to worship. That is how theology proper is to be preached!

So, 1 Corinthians 15 cannot be taken in isolation but builds on the rest of the Bible. In addition, we remember the mystery of godliness revealed to us: 1 Timothy 3:16 - And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

The proper identification of God and the Incarnate Son of God is fundamental to the gospel itself - the mystery of godliness - and part of the earliest Church's creedal confession (Shema).
 
The proper identification of God and the Incarnate Son of God is fundamental to the gospel itself - the mystery of godliness - and part of the earliest Church's creedal confession (Shema).
I think we would all agree with this-- the question is when differences over certain theology proper issues mean you are worshipping a different god, and when they just mean someone has an incorrect understanding. I think many of the modern evangelical set that is perhaps weak on theology proper falls into the latter category, in which case I'd think having the actual good news of salvation correct comes next in order of precedence.
 
As hardline as I am on the "Thomist" view of God, and as much as I affirm the Catholicity of the Reformed tradition in opposition to sectarianism, I do think it needs to be said that some of the retrieval people go so far in their zeal for these things that they end up giving the impression that there is not that much difference between ourselves and Rome. They forget that most of our forebears asserted that Rome was a false church because it rejected the gospel and persecuted the saints, though remnants of the true church remain in it, and that the pope was the antichrist. They were also willing to sharply critical of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas et al when it was appropriate.
 
I say to you that getting theology proper right but getting the gospel wrong means you are not a Christian.

True. But the reason we are right to prioritize soteriology over theology proper is that there are definite gospel propositions that must be affirmed to be saved, but in theology proper as long a handful of propositions aren’t explicitly denied virtually all traditions grant wiggle room for saying someone is a Christian. Which is why your PCA member questions indicate a priority of soterioogy over theology proper (!) Yup. They do. Brute fact. All the questions are gospel related questions (well, the four are anyway) and they mention nothing about the Trinity or the hypostatic union, etc. (and no “as he is presented in the Gospel” is not shorthand for all that. But even if t is, note they aren’t explicitly being asked about.) But of course one must affirm (not deny) the Trinity or hypostatic union to be counted as having believed in the one true God. Heb 11:6 underscores the basic a priori belief in God that is required.

So 1 Cor 15 sets the tone. And so in my preaching and teaching I am right - to preach the Gospel week in and week out and not lectures on theology proper.

One more thing: it should be granted that not every single topic within “theology proper“ is of equal importance for orthodoxy, nor is every single doctrine within soteriology. The fact is certain doctrines related to theology proper are utterly essential for orthodoxy, and the same for soteriology. (Heck, I think just about every locus has *some* elements that are required to be considered a Christian, just some moreso than others.) I do not believe that *everything* in soterilogy or theology proper is equally essential. So please don’t hear me saying that EVERYTHING related to Soteriology should take priority over everything in theology proper. That’s not what I’m saying.

Anyway, I’ve said enough. Y’all have a great time debating this.
I don't know if you think puffing your chest out and saying that you can get the nature of God right, but the Gospel wrong is intended to prove something.

Nobody (even Carl) would say that all you need to know is that God is who He is.

You're picking a fight with the idea that someone should be reminded of historical formulations that have served as the method for people to communicate that they believe that God is One Being in Three Persons. You're more concerned with Todd and Carl hoping all things in Aimee until she went off the rails than you ever were when people were trying to demonstrate that ESS and EFS were heterodox ideas.

I share your concern about the overuse of the "Great Tradition" without specifying what is being protected and what is being covered. What I don't share is your incurious indifference to being precise. On this topic, you might as well sound like the NP folks defending Greg Johnson over language and accusing conservative Elders of distracting from the mission. It matters in sanctification and it matters in the doctrine of the Trinity when teachers are communicating heterodox ideas.

As already noted, nobody is arguing that everyone in the pew is examined for their ability to properly articulate the Trinity. Just to point out, however, that our membership vows don't include being confused about sanctification and thinking you are perfected by your striving. Yet, it's what Paul is railing about in Galatians.

The point Carl is even pointing out has less to do with confusion in the pew and the confusion being propagated by teachers. Orthodox formulations can be treated as pets where people collect them and debate as to whose pet is prettier or who took care of it better. This is what some "Great Tradition" people are doing and failing to show why it matters or what specifically they are retrieving rather than "all of Thomas".

As for me, I'm always interested in what equips and builds up and that which I need to defend against. Most of us are content to affirm Nicene/Chalcedonian portions of the Confession. If, for instance, I say something that someone says: "If you teach it like that then it presents the idea that Jesus is not fully God," then I pause and reconsider how I'm teaching something. As an example, Mike K stood up in the midst of GA one year and made a speech about images of Christ that were a form of Nestorianism, implying that picturing Jesus wasn't picturing God. In fact, he said that if you don't picture Jesus, you are denying his humanity. Now n saying that it was Nestorian, all I'm communicating is that it is careless and teaches something that ends up infecting the way people think about the Son of God if it perpetuates. Is it true that He is One Person, and should you be more careful about what you say? Likewise, as someone like Mark Driscoll was constantly corrected, shouldn't someone in the Big Eva world care as much about the fact that he was cool with modalism is as consequential as the "Rise and Fall of Mars Hill". I think some think his greatest sin was toxic masculinity.

The point is that the "teaching" ministry of a Church has to attempt to be accurate on all fronts. Everyone, at some point, is a bit careless. They make mistakes. The Confessions and Creeds exist as guardrails to pull us back in when we're wandering outside the fence line. The fence line is not intended as a place to argue over whose fence is prettier, but it does serve a purpose, and it is likewise foolish to consider it manly or prudent to write in a way that presumes that the maintenance of the fence is not important.
 
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Trueman could have put this to rest by simply having the courtesy to reply to White and confirm if the criticism was aimed at him or not. White says he has called, e-mailed, and requested clarification in every possible way but has received no response at all from Trueman.
That would not have "simply" solved the problem. I like James, but he's lumping things together right now that ought not to be lumped together.

As one example, there's nothing that Carl said in that lecture he reviewed that cannot be read without making the implications that White implies that Carl did.

I know James gets flack, but he sets himself up for a smaller and smaller group of people who want to interact with him. Even the way he gloms onto conspiracy theories is a good example.
 
That would not have "simply" solved the problem. I like James, but he's lumping things together right now that ought not to be lumped together.

As one example, there's nothing that Carl said in that lecture he reviewed that cannot be read without making the implications that White implies that Carl did.

I know James gets flack, but he sets himself up for a smaller and smaller group of people who want to interact with him. Even the way he gloms onto conspiracy theories is a good example.
Carl can easily address this at any time. Why hasn't he? The impression I get (and I know I'm not the only one) is that he thinks himself to be far above White and that White isn't worth his attention. You'd think he'd at least have an interest in correct this impression.
 
I know this has been worked on by @Semper Fidelis; I’m not sure if any new merging has occurred since yesterday, but tagging him just in case.
The only thing I was concerned about was if I made a comment to which someone liked or otherwise reacted, then made a subsequent comment, their reaction is attached to the whole, where the there may not be agreement.
 
Carl can easily address this at any time. Why hasn't he? The impression I get (and I know I'm not the only one) is that he thinks himself to be far above White and that White isn't worth his attention. You'd think he'd at least have an interest in correct this impression.
He likely doesn't think he's above him as much as he doesn't want to be sucked into an endless back-and-forth that he doesn't have time for.

For what it's worth, I've been listening to James a lot longer than MOS. I also consider him a friend of sorts. That said, I also appreciate Carl for different reasons.

I am sympathetic to James in some sense because of the ridiculous way that some are conflating the rule of faith with Thomism or making it seem like the post-Reformation era simply "copied and pasted" Medieval ideas. That's not to say their basic ideas on the rule of faith changed but only that they reprioritized theology around the Word.

That said, Carl was complaining about the relative indifference in the Evangelical word with basic heresy long before this came up. Mark Driscoll seems like old news but that's how long ago he was concerned about this. Also, look at William Lane Craig, he's neo-Appolonarian.

I sort of "track" the Evangelical world by listening to certain podcasts. Denial of Hell, Impassibility, Aseity, Omniscience, etc are all readily discarded for the sake of a broader "witness" and getting people to accept the Gospel. I don't know of a time in Church history when we are so indifferent to these things.

That's not to lay the blame on James, but that's my point. I doubt Carl was even thinking of him. I suppose he could clear it up, but if he perceives James as being a bit shrill then I can understand why it's easier to just let people wonder whether he has him in mind.
 
The only thing I was concerned about was if I made a comment to which someone liked or otherwise reacted, then made a subsequent comment, their reaction is attached to the whole, where the there may not be agreement.
OK, I see what you're saying now. I've decreased the "merge post" time to 5 minutes. I'm trying to cut down on posts one after another from he same author in succession. I can see, however, if the person comes back an hour later with something so 5 minutes seems reasonable.
 
In Carl Trueman's article, "Protestants Need to Go Back to Basics", he states:


Are disagreements on theology proper -- like the ones mentioned on simplicity, impassability, eternal generation and God's foreknowledge -- more serious than disagreements on soteriology, such as justification?
Well that's annoying. I subscribe to "First Things" but just noticed I never received the November issue.
 
By the way, I do want to address the title of the thread as if Trueman's overall point was that soteriology was less important than basic Nicene and Chalcedonian orthodoxy. That's not really what he's driving at in the article. You can sort of see it summed up here:

The Reformed Orthodox of the Westminster Assembly would have considered deviance on the doctrine of God to be anathema and, if forced to choose, would certainly have preferred the company of a Thomist to that of someone who denied simplicity, eternal generation, or God’s foreknowledge. Why do we not think the same? The modern Protestant imagination is oddly different from that of our ancestors.

Notice that he's not saying here that the Westminster Assembly was Thomists. In fact, while the Roman Catholic Church turned its attention to the study of Thomas and many were fully Thomistic, you couldn't say the same of the post-Reformation era in terms of priority and method. Even if they thought certain ideas in Thomas were helpful among some who systematized Reformed orthodoxy, there were also modified Nominalist ideas and others that were used even while they all affirmed basic Creedal orthodoxy. In fact, the reason why Calvin and the post-Orthodox had different ideas of what it means that "He descended into Hell" in the Apostle's Creed was because the Reformed Churches did not want to change Creedal statements while they also felt free, in this case, to accord the statement with a Biblical truth.

I suppose what I'm saying is the question: "Why are you putting the doctrine of God over how God save men?" wouldn't have made much sense to the Westminster Assembly.

I suppose in this sense, Carl's quote above could be seen as anachronistic because there were no parties who were erstwhile orthodox on salvation who were denying the basic doctrines of God.

The problem we have now, however, is that the Evangelical world has always affirmed these basic Creedal formulations about God, the Trinity, and the hypostatic union. Liberals jettisoned everything and equivocated both soteriology and the doctrine of God. As Evangelicals have focused on the Gospel and how to respond to the world, however, they have placed such a high priority on convincing the culture of salvation that they have employed arguments that undermine the doctrine of God. They have stumbled into ancient heresies and many do not seem to notice because they seem to be on fire for Christ. The only time some Evangelicals seem to notice is when they venture into the acceptance of homosexuality, etc.

If I were to caution anything right now, it would be for Protestants, in their recovery, to look not merely to medieval theology but the post-Reformation orthodox era in how the rule of faith and other doctrines were brought together with Scripture, as the organizing principle. Presbyterians have a very full set of propositions in our Standards and we can trace the homework done from the early Reformation to its mature fruits. They will find theologians interacting with medieval schools of thought and refining them forward, keeping the rule of faith intact but slo bringing Scriptural ideas such as the Covenants to the fore.
 
Arius: Proverbs says Wisdom was created by God, and Paul calls Jesus the Wisdom of God.
Athanasius: You are misunderstanding the Economy of God. Here are reasons why....
Arius: I'm just reading the Bible. I don't need philosophy.

Literally how that debate went.

Probably off-topic, but is there a source for a collection of historical summaries of theological disputes in history like this from the early church to modern?

Historical theology is usually either:

1) a general survey ( I have a few)

or

2) you have to go to the foot/endnotes of the survey and fish out primary sources of church fathers, scholastics, etc. and get ready for super-determined reading.

I don't want to de-rail so anyone can reply in private or I'll start a new one if needed.
 
Probably off-topic, but is there a source for a collection of historical summaries of theological disputes in history like this from the early church to modern?
There’s a book called “Historical Theology” by Greg Allison which is at least supposed to do this. I think it’s helpful at times, but the author’s Baptist and charismatic leanings really shine through his work, to the extent that at times, he misrepresents church history and the early fathers. I have problems with it, but that’s one I know of. I think Berkhoff and maybe Hodge address historical matters in their systematics as well.
 
Probably off-topic, but is there a source for a collection of historical summaries of theological disputes in history like this from the early church to modern?

Historical theology is usually either:

1) a general survey ( I have a few)

or

2) you have to go to the foot/endnotes of the survey and fish out primary sources of church fathers, scholastics, etc. and get ready for super-determined reading.

I don't want to de-rail so anyone can reply in private or I'll start a new one if needed.
Historical Theology by Alister McGrath. He is recommended by our own @C. Matthew McMahon who has his own readers digest of historical theology.
 
A fatal error in both theology proper and soteriology will send you to hell.
I don't see any need to make one worse than the other.
 
I suppose in this sense, Carl's quote above could be seen as anachronistic because there were no parties who were erstwhile orthodox on salvation who were denying the basic doctrines of God.
Is Trueman choosing between parties who only differ in their doctrine of God? I asked my original question because it seemed like he leans towards those aligned on the doctrine of God rather than on the nature of justification.

But why should those properly committed to the creeds and confessions consider that person closer spiritually to them than those who affirm classical theism but share a different understanding of justification?

To clarify the original question. Are disagreements on eternal generation and God's simplicity and impassability, more serious than disagreements on the nature of justification?
 
I'll be honest guys, I no longer respect Trueman. And his fellow co-host. I literally DO NOT trust their judgment or ability to discern in real life up close. Sorry not sorry if I won't let it go: but they absolutely refused to see their budding Pastrix friend for what she was despite countless people warning them.
As a side note, she's off promoting a slander of Elisabeth Elliot now.
 
I just had another epiphany: those of us who prioritize theology are also generally stronger on soteriology as well.

Reason: Because we hold to the classical and historic view of God, that means we are also closer to the confessions, and being closer to the confessions, we are confessional in our view of things.

Proof: Back in the 2000s when FV was the rage, Trueman was among those who stood against it, remaining sound on soteriology. Perhaps not accidentally, those who are weak on the doctrine of God (e.g., Doug Wilson) are also weak on soteriology.

Counter: But doesn't that make you a Thomist and they were Catholics!

Sed contra: Not really. For one, you don't really know what Thomas taught, having never read him (or any Thomist for that matter). Moreover, we know Hebrew and Thomas didn't. We are generally sounder on the names of God and the covenants.

Second counter: Wayne Grudem is sound on soteriology.

Sed contra: true. He is infinitely preferable to Wilson, but since he doesn't hold to covenant baptism, any real fellowship, even by both sides, would be limited.
 
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