Reformed Protestant Church {New Denomination}

pgwolv

Puritan Board Freshman
Not making a judgment regarding the PRCA one way or the other here, but what you said here reminds me of one of my favorite Martyn Lloyd-Jones quotes:

The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge [of antinomianism] being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this, that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel.​
—D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Exposition of Chapter 6 – The New Man, vol. 5, Romans (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972), 8.​
Thanks for the quote. We are currently in Rom 6 in our Lord's Day morning expositional series. Our Pastor has also share some of Martyn Lloyd-Jones' comments on these things with us. Romans really is an eye-opener to the heart.
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
If I may, 14 minutes trough 23 minutes into the "doctrine class" frame the RPC claims fairly well. It still doesn't get to the crux of the dispute, in my opinion, though Rev. Lanning certainly insists it does. About 35 mins. in he addresses the "gift" factor of justifying faith (on which I'd say both the PRC & RPC agree as well) and the imputation of Christ's righteous upon us. Doctrinally, it's the old, long-standing Reformed clash of Paul against James, which in the inerrant consistency of Holy Scripture is a false though understandable quandary difficult for many far more studied than I. Rev. Lanning does interpret James through Paul. Rev. Lanning and the PRC are working through (still, one may hope), or at least working with differing definitions and implications of passive faith. And, in my opinion, the RPC actually aren't insisting passive faith isn't active, but that any activity is all from God toward man (or even God toward God, through man), and not man toward God, and further that it is wholly external to us. Not addressed in this doctrine class, one might do well to delve into the particulars of what the RPC defines as our thankfulness, though in refinement since this particular dispute began, the RPC at least has honed in on a perceived distinction regarding justification, where they see in the PRC as teaching of justification by the 'active' works of man.
52 mins. in is also revelatory.
Again if I may (I haven't spoken personally to any parties in this, as Scripture and the Standards direct), both, or rather all human sides in this bear guilt. We, brethren of these, as we bacame aware, ought to be moving heaven and earth to preserve the Bride of Christ in unity and reconciliation, in my opinion. Yes, peace without purity is no peace at all; but at least both sides admit to being sinners - maybe not heretics, but sinners.

Gal. 2:20 (KJV): "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
Rom. 3:21-28 (KJV): "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
"Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."

James 2:14-26 (KJV): "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
"But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
"Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
What you say, Ruben (in post 56), resonates with me simply because of its sensitivity and quality of discernment.

Boston's "tincture", while illustrative of a flavor (fragrance?) of heart or spirit that affords subtle nuances of content (spiritual, emotional, meaning) – yet in the context of the Marrow controversy and the situation in Scotland of those days, as well its repercussions even to our time, brings to the fore another phenomenon: that of various differing doctrines and theologies and their near labyrinthine complexities, difficult to understand and discern – all within the Reformed and Presbyterian camp.

The people in the pews, so to speak, need simplicity, clarity, and the stamp of godly common sense, so as to put doctrine to practical use in understanding and sanctified (God-loving and honoring) living.
I recall a man in Mexico who wrinkled his nose with a look of disgust and asked "Why would anyone want to do that?" when the question was brought up if the reality of free justification made us indifferent to holiness. That was very simple, but very effective. Because he loved Christ, he hated sin. He never took freedom in Christ as meaning freedom to continue in sin, because he grasped quite directly and clearly that sin is unpleasant. He didn't need the more convoluted discussions.

They do become necessary because of error. And I think they get overruled for good, not least because it is sometimes from the materials of controversy that one finds the tools to address a spiritual disease. Someone who is sick may need a lot of complexity that wouldn't come up for a healthy person.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I will have to listen to the sermon by Rev. Nathan Langerak (post #50), “The Necessary Defense of Justification”, to see his view, though I think I should desist from commenting until a greater clarity arises out of the present confusion. I am thankful I am not in the midst of it – among the parties – though it does impact us who have looked to the PRCA for light and soundness.
_______

Here's an entrée from David J. Engelsma’s book, Gospel Truth of Justification: Proclaimed, Defended, Developed, Chapter 21, “Paul and James”, (2017, RFPA) :

Always the objection to the gospel truth of justification by faith alone is the fear, whether real or concocted, that the doctrine leads to carelessness of life and sheer lawlessness. Justification by faith alone is a danger to the Christian life of love for God and the neighbor in obedience to the good and holy law of God! Such is the fear and charge of the foes of justification by faith alone.

Let us do full justice to the alleged fear. Justification by faith alone means, and vigorously proclaims to the believing people of God, that the good works of those who believe the gospel from the heart add absolutely nothing to their righteousness with God and that their carelessness, sins, and immorality detract absolutely nothing from their righteousness with God. It means and openly teaches that God’s verdict upon them, now and in the final judgment, depends not at all on their holiness and good works. Justification by faith alone is unconditional forgiveness and unconditional imputation of the obedience of another, even Jesus Christ. The righteousness of the guilty sinner with God has absolutely nothing to do with his own obedience to the law of God. Regarding his righteousness, and therefore the salvation that depends on this righteousness, the law is excluded, completely excluded (not regarding Christ’s obedience to the law in his stead, but regarding any and all demands of the law on the sinner himself as conditions of righteousness and salvation).

“The righteousness of God without the law” (Rom. 3:21, emphasis added). “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16, emphasis added). “By grace are ye saved…not of works” (Eph. 2:8-9, emphasis added).

…The fear, if fear it is, that justification by faith alone makes people careless or even profane, so that in order to achieve godly living and good works, the church must teach justification by faith and works or a conditional covenantal salvation, is an utterly mistaken and wicked fear…

The fear that the biblical truth of justification needs the help of contemporary theologians to safeguard godly living is unbelief. Unbelief does not trust grace to save the elect believer to the uttermost, that is, to sanctify as well as to justify, to deliver from the power of sin as well as from the guilt and shame of sin. Unbelief does not trust grace to save fully because it does not know the grace of God.

…Underlying the fear of salvation by grace alone is the notion that the real motivation to holiness of life and zeal for good works must be the conviction that one must himself earn his salvation, or that his salvation depends upon his own good works, or that failure to work means hell. The result in those who are driven by this foolish and wicked fear is that they try to live the Christian life like a slave or out of terror…

…It is impossible that the divine act of the justifying by faith alone of the elect ungodly, apart from his own works, should bring about, or lead to, or allow carelessness or profanity of life. First, the true faith by which one is justified is spiritual union with Christ. Spiritual union with Christ brings the life of Christ into the heart of the justified sinner. The sin-overcoming life of the risen Christ rules in the justified sinner, producing love for God and love for the neighbor. One can no more be united to Christ by the faith that justifies and not bring forth the fruits of good works than a branch can be grafted into a tree and not bring forth, by the life of the tree, leaves, blossoms, and fruit.

The faith that is the means of justification is always also the faith that is the means of sanctification, God’s work of making the elect sinner holy, so that he obeys the law and performs good works…

Second, it is impossible that justification by faith alone makes one careless… The sinner experiences deliverance from the guilt of sin unto a right standing with God the judge as the greatest good. For this deliverance he is thankful. Such is his thankfulness that he loves the Savior and the God who gave him. In this love the forgiven sinner obeys the will of the gracious God… (pp 435, 436, 437, 439, 440)​

[End Engelsma quotes]
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
I will have to listen to the sermon by Rev. Nathan Langerak (post #50), “The Necessary Defense of Justification”, to see his view, though I think I should desist from commenting until a greater clarity arises out of the present confusion. I am thankful I am not in the midst of it – among the parties – though it does impact us who have looked to the PRCA for light and soundness.
_______

Here's an entrée from David J. Engelsma’s book, Gospel Truth of Justification: Proclaimed, Defended, Developed, Chapter 21, “Paul and James”, (2017, RFPA) :
...​
Second, it is impossible that justification by faith alone makes one careless… The sinner experiences deliverance from the guilt of sin unto a right standing with God the judge as the greatest good. For this deliverance he is thankful. Such is his thankfulness that he loves the Savior and the God who gave him. In this love the forgiven sinner obeys the will of the gracious God… (pp 435, 436, 437, 439, 440)​

[End Engelsma quotes]
Not that the issues involved don't go way back in many Presbyterian and Reformed denominations, but Reformed Covenanter in post 8 succinctly addresses the doctrinal issues of conditional fellowship. Things went wrong early and often back in 2015-18 in the matter of Rev. David Overway of Hope PRC (where Rev. Jon Muhtani (of Lanning's doctrinal class address) now shepherds - Rev. Overway asked for and was granted to be deposed last year). Everyone seems to be admitting of those errors now. Unfortunately, due to court conclusion in those matters that what was being taught was that we enjoy fellowship with the Father "in the way of" our obedience, the "Way to the Father" was misconstrued. I've not listened to Rev. Overway's sermons of evidence before the courts.

I don't think any involved every doubted that our praying to God, our Bible study and fellowship with believers, our helping a Samaritan beat-up and lying in a ditch on the side of the road, our care of widows, visitation to the sick and those in prison, all in Christian love and with a thankful heart toward God enriches the communion, the fellowship, the way of walking betwixt us - that God is pleased with such. (I'd post more on that, but it's perhaps too untoward here.) This, as denoted by Engelsma above, is at least part of what was intended and interpreted early on. The dispute of course goes beyond that, in particular reference to our justification; but though human error is most certainly found in all parties of this disputation (as in each of us), whether of preaching or other actions, I find both the PRC & RPC agree on justification through Christ. Both the PRC & the RPC are definitely not agreeing they agree. In fact, they so ardently disagree that they agree so as to say the matter of their disagreement is perhaps the most important issue in all of Christendom, worth whatever other briars and brambles befall the Bride of Christ.

Given our own history it might be thought an odd thing for a PCAer to say, but I would hope my dear family of both PRC & RPC would empathise that (given God's providence) I, as many, cannot express the depth of sadness this brings. I warrant many a fine and dear member of our family have passed from us unto the Lord over such grievous disputations.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
but might not personalities
Not commenting on the current kerfuffle amongst the Contenintalists, but in the case of the continual splits in the Presbyterian micros, the dispute is more frequently caused by egos and personalities rather than substantial theologial distictions.
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
Not commenting on the current kerfuffle amongst the Contenintalists, but in the case of the continual splits in the Presbyterian micros, the dispute is more frequently caused by egos and personalities rather than substantial theologial distictions.
A lot of intramural Presbyterian disputes can be summed up by whatever the theological analogy of this would be:

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reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
Not commenting on the current kerfuffle amongst the Contenintalists, but in the case of the continual splits in the Presbyterian micros, the dispute is more frequently caused by egos and personalities rather than substantial theologial distictions.
I wrote a piece years ago incorporating You've Got Mail:
Joe Fox: [It was business,] It wasn't... personal.
Kathleen Kelly: What is that supposed to mean? I'm sick of all that. All that means is that it wasn't personal to you. But it was personal to me. It's *personal* to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal, anyway? ... Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

Again, I think beyond theological 'purity' all parties see the personalness of most all Presbyterian and Reformed kerfuffles since the Reformation began. But you're right, and hit the nail on the head on this one too. Machen was kicked out of the PCUS[A], but forming the OPC was over real boogey-men. Hoeksema was kicked out of the CRC, but his concerns were obvious and remain. 60% of his PRCA returning to the CRC in the 50s-60s maybe says, "Hey, we can tolerate common grace and some other things"; though OK, the CRC(NA) has unraveled since then. I was around when theonomy hit with Rushdoony, Bahnsen, North, Morecraft, Jordan, & others. I think maybe most of those would have tried to mitigate brother Joe.

I'm a wee regulative myself, and sympathetic to folk ditching the Roman calendar and focusing music more toward Holy Writ. I don't mind shepherds standing up for Reformed theology or even particular personal beliefs they find important. But hey, there ain't nothing wrong with learned men listening to other learned men and sitting down over sweet-tea, tater salad, and even chopped pork to work out their differences, before chucking it all and dragging whole churches and other denominations into the fray, esp. if a whole lotta folk looking on are of an opinion that the hill of beans ain't that big... yet. My church sings hymns, celebrates Christmas, even (I'm truly ashamed to say) a trunk-or-treat dressed as something... tolerable (like maybe even Calvin or Luther). Do I scream about it? Yes. But I don't disassociate myself from the church over it or travel 100 miles to somewhere else. The next closest churches to me are a church who left the PC(USA) to join the EPC, lost their property, and went down the street and built a whole new building. I'm old. I've listened to women preachers before (no, not at our church), and once I even found myself at some hair salon getting my hair cut by a... homosexual (I've cut my own hair for 40 years since then). Foxhole companions aside, I'm telling you I'll be dead before I find myself staring wide-eyed up from a pew eating a wafer with a swig of honey-mead severed by some lady in pants and a halter.

These days some say we're very very selfish and individualistic. Near as I tell we humans have always been that way. We church-hop, churches denomination-hop, and whole denominations denomination-hop. But when we point fingers and cry, "heretic!" at the top of our lungs, it seems to me we better have gone through more than a few tea-and-tater meals with one another first, esp. if we're totting a boat-load of sheep in our wake. With all due apologies to any it may offend, if one finds oneself in a living room with twelve disciples after exiting church after church, well, I'd be ashamed to even think I qualify for a "presbyterian" moniker, let alone "reformed". I mean, I know it came down to Noah, or Abraham & Lot, but surely the Spirit has led us a long way since then.
 
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BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
A few interesting things from the blog of Dewey Engelsma in this controversy:

 

Grant Van Leuven

Puritan Board Freshman
Even then, it seems to me their concern is really with the term “grace.” They certainly believe in the “common operations of the Spirit,” they just object to calling it grace. While we may disagree with this, it is hardly heresy or hyper-Calvinism:

“The idea of common grace is a theologoumenon (theological opinion) and does not have confessional status.”​
—Robert Letham, Systematic Theology (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 650; italics original.​

Note: As far as I know, Letham himself affirms common grace.
Another appreciated clarification. The Westminster Standards use distinctions like general and special providence as well as common operations of the Spirit.
 

Grant Van Leuven

Puritan Board Freshman
Per the topic addressed within this post that I've briefly responded to twice above, related to the Westminster Standards, here's something our church put together years ago for interacting with various Presbyteries (part of a larger work) while seeking a denominational home for whom it may be of interest:

"Searching the Westminster Standards (in Bible Works), the exact phrase, “free offer”, does not exist (and of course, nor does “well-meant” in any way). The only places where “freely” and “offered” appear in the same paragraph, or “freely offereth” are:

WCF (Westminster Confession of Faith) 3:1: Here, “freely” speaks of God’s own will to do whatever He chooses. And “offered” refers to violence not being offered on the will of the creatures in God’s execution of His will. The sincerity of the offer is not the referent with “freely” or “offered” considered alone or together, but rather God’s not being dependent on man; this is at odds with a portrayal of God eagerly anticipating the reprobate’s response.

WCF 5:2: Notice “freely” here again is related to God not being contingent on what will happen.

WCF 7:3: Here “freely offereth” speaks of the general offer to all sinners indiscriminately, yet requiring the condition of faith [which is God's gift]. And His promise to give eternal life (salvation) is only said to be given “unto all those that are ordained to eternal life” so that they are in fact “willing, and able to believe”. So “freely offereth” refers to an unconditional offer to everyone (other than the need to believe). Here, the Sum of Saving Knowledge would be helpful to consult, where the emphasis is on “whosever wills” and a sinner’s sincere response to God’s wrath and offer of forgiveness; it never discusses God’s “internal” intention.

WCF 9:4: Here the free will is the sinner’s, to whom it is divinely given to by God (also in 10.1).

WCF 11:1 This speaks of those God effectually calls, whom He “freely justifieth”, communicating not God’s intent (it is free) but the gift of justification as “no strings attached”, no payment to be made by the sinner. WCF 11:3 makes this especially clear, “freely” being contrasted with “anything in them”. We are building the case that “freely” is always used in contrasting reference to “conditional works”.

WCF 11:3: Here is a discussion of the assurance of things being “freely given him of God”. Here again, “freely” is being used not in reference to God’s will toward the reprobate, but His gift being without cost.

WCF 19:7: Here God’s subduing a Christian to now do the moral law “freely” and not under compulsion, coercion, or condemnation -- free of ill will. It does not refer to God’s will to the reprobate in preaching.

WLC (Westminster Larger Catechism) 32: The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant in that God “freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by Him”. Notice here the offer is connected with the provision to “mankind” in general (see B.B. Warfield’s explanation of “world” in John 3:16, for instance). The Mediator is presented free of cost before all sinners that some might embrace Him. Freely, not conditionally, is the point. Freely is not referring to God’s sincerity toward the reprobate. It is a sincere presentation in a general call for “whosoever will” respond to it. Notice faith is required in the general call, but then the question goes on to clearly focus on what is promised and provided to the “elect” who have been “enabled” and “appointed … to salvation”, the special aim of the general call.

WLC 67: Here the question refers to effectual calling, and so specifically has in view God’s will and effectual execution of it toward the elect alone. So any discussion of God’s intent is restricted to His intent toward the elect. The reprobate (or even all mankind) are not in view in discussion of God’s “well meant” or “good intentions” in the Gospel call. Here, though, the “freely” relates to the elect’s new ability to actually will to answer the general Gospel call (effectually administered by the Spirit inwardly), and does not speak of God’s inner intent (let alone, to the reprobate). The word “offered” referring to grace is not connected to “freely”, but still it does refer to the offer of grace. Important to note is that the context is the effectual call, so the object of the special call within the general is restricted to God’s elect.

WLC 141 and 144 use the word “freely” but not remotely connected to the Gospel call.

WSC (Westminster Shorter Catechism) 31: Here “freely offered” is in the context of “effectual calling”, so the general call has only God’s intent to save His elect in view, and so it ends with “freely offered” “to us”. Freely offered again is making an emphasis that salvation is not earned by conditional works but is received by grace. God’s intent toward the reprobate in the general call is nowhere in view.

WSC 105: Here is considered what do we ask for in the fifth petition, and included in the answer is that God would, for Christ’s sake, “freely pardon all our sins”. The obvious connection again is the grace able to forgive in the end of the answer. Again, “freely” means a gift in contrast to conditional payment.

In conclusion, when we see “freely offered” or “offereth” in the Westminster Standards, “freely” is not referring to God’s will or intention or “well meaning”, even to the elect, as its direct referent, but rather what is being referred to is the freeness of salvation as a gift of grace rather than a conditional work. It is not commenting on God’s intent to anyone in its direct usage, but rather the idea of “no hidden strings attached”. It is communicating “free sovereign grace” against the idea of man’s meritorious work. Salvation cost us nothing but to receive what cost God His Own Son. Thus, the burden of proof would seem to be on those who argue a “well meant offer” is inherently Confessional or obligatorily understood as a synonym with “free offer” or “freely offered”, and that this is not rather anachronistic reading."
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Doesn’t it come down to us as the instrument, or vessel, of faith. That the gift of faith is freely given.

I don’t really love the word offer myself. It’s almost like it cheapens the divine gift when improperly applied by today’s standards of the contingency of natural man’s response. But in the context of preaching and sharing the gospel, it’s not conditional or half-hearted in any way. That’s where the ‘offer’, more appropriately, the gospel call, comes in. That we are indiscriminately called to come out of darkness. To ‘offer’, appears to remove the unconditionality from election.

See: 2 Corinthians 4:7 for the free, divine gift of faith.
 
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BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
Rev. Blackateer of the CRCNA wrote an essay on the Three Points of Common Grace in the Calvin Theological Journal. In the above context, I find it very useful. It can be found here:

 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
But the PRC denies the free offer and goes towards hypercalvinism....
It is true that the PRCA denies the wellmeant offer. Also, sadly enough, because many ministers are so afraid to preach any kind of offer, they neglect to preach the call of the Gospel, period.
 
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Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
It is true that the PRCA denies the free offer.
How are you defining "free offer"? Because David Engelsma in his book Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel seems to assert that the PRCA categorically affirms the free offer—i.e., that the gospel is to be proclaimed freely to all, and all are to be called to believe it, because all have a duty to believe it. It is rather the well-meant offer they deny.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
How are you defining "free offer"? Because David Engelsma in his book Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel seems to assert that the PRCA categorically affirms the free offer—i.e., that the gospel is to be proclaimed freely to all, and all are to be called to believe it, because all have a duty to believe it. It is rather the well-meant offer they deny.
My apologies, I should have said 'wellmeant offer'. However, the word 'offer' is not normally used in the PRCA. And, like I stated above, in practice, many preachers do not want to be tainted with heresy, and avoid any 'Call of the Gospel'. Because of that, sadly, Christ is not preached. A such, there is a variance of orthodoxy and orthopraxis. And that is also part of the present controversy, as I understand from personal conversations with men that have left the PRCA...
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
My apologies, I should have said 'wellmeant offer'. However, the word 'offer' is not normally used in the PRCA. And, like I stated above, in practice, many preachers do not want to be tainted with heresy, and avoid any 'Call of the Gospel'. Because of that, sadly, Christ is not preached. A such, there is a variance of orthodoxy and orthopraxis. And that is also part of the present controversy, as I understand from personal conversations with men that have left the PRCA...
I wonder if that could be a trapping of extreme Reformed distinctiveness. Theology and doctrine without the heart of it, which is the Gospel of Christ. As if our inability negates our accountability and ultimately acceptance into the Body of Christ.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I finally listened to / saw the preaching of Rev. Nathan Langerak’s sermon, “The Necessary Defense of Justification” on Youtube (the sermon starts at 33 minutes, 40 seconds).

I found no fault with it – it was sound, and his whole heart was in it. I would now like to hear him preach on sanctification. It is very true that our righteousnesses are as filthy rags to God, as our best works are polluted with our remaining corruption and wicked self-centeredness. Only the righteousness of Jesus Christ is acceptable to God as warrant to enter His presence and His paradise New Earth, and when it is imputed to us as a gift, through the gift of faith, we are received by the Almighty God even as He receives His Son the Lord Jesus, holy and beloved. It was a refreshing sermon, even though his heart was heavy amidst all this business.

I would like to hear Pastor Nathan speak on the work of the Spirit of Christ in sanctifying us, both the “mechanics” of how He does that (as in Romans 8:13), and how God views His ongoing work of purifying our hearts by faith. We do have sayings of the Lord Jesus as regards the latter:

Matt 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

Luke 8:15, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”

Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

We know it is the Lord who does this work in us, as it is written, “the Holy Ghost…purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8, 9), and, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). I am interested in these things, and His working, and ours (for in sanctification we both work, cf. Col 1:29; 1 Cor 15:10; 3:9).

I also noted that Prof. Engelsma reproved one of the editors of the Standard Bearer, Rev. Kenneth Koole, for his offensively ridiculing a saying of Herman Hoeksema, after no one else objected: from the April 2019 issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal (PRTJ), posted on Dewey Engelsma’s blog :

 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
@Jerusalem Blade - if your Cyprus plans don't work out, I nominate you to mediate this dispute in the PRCA - which is another way of saying I appreciate your careful study of and comment on this issue.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks, JP, for the kind view of me, but I could not mediate between such powerful opponents. The best I can do is try to sort my way through people – and a church, now churches – I highly respect so as to order my own life and way, and that which I will be preaching and teaching to others, if the Lord blesses our labor to replant a church. We can learn from the troubles of others, and be sharpened from the failures of others.
 

cmiersma

Puritan Board Freshman
As far as the PRCA's position on the offer is concerned, the best description is to be found in the Declaration of Principles: "This preaching of the particular promise is promiscuous to all that hear the gospel, with the command, not a condition, to repent and believe." The issue is that the word offer is used in the Canons in both a positive and a negative way. The position in the Declaration carefully divides up the concept of the preaching of the gospel into two components, both of which are general, but which nevertheless present particular grace. The goal of this is to ensure that the relationship between God and the elect is always based on the types of figures taught in scripture, such as a parent-child, master-servant, last will and testament, etc. These figures all involve one-sided initiation and maintenance, although they all involve real interaction. The concept of a contractual covenant, along with any associated uses of the word offer, places God and man on an equal footing, as business partners. As such, a contractual covenant can imply perfectionism. In addition, if you properly understand Heads 3-5, the expression "in the way of," which is standard PRCA terminology, normally implies irresistible grace.

Both Lanning and N. Langerak have vocally denied any distinction between a condition and a way. In addition, Rev. Overway used the expression "in the way of," in a context that did not imply the correct order of salvation, stirring up an element of suspicion towards the phrase in the minds of some. This is at the root of the split. The RPC appears to stand for a rejection of both expressions. Depending on how you understand it, their position could be taken as antinomianism, hyper-calvinism, or legalism.

I would add that we do also recognize that we have some challenges as a denomination. I was a member of the same congregation with Bert Mulder during the last years he was in the PRCA, about which he has mentioned leaving. I brought protests against that minister, for teaching that God's providence was similar to human foresight as well as teaching that conversion consists of a progressive regeneration, both of which were taught over many years. Often, people in the pew, including elders, can hear that there are problems, but actually finding heretical statements, protesting them, and carrying the point is difficult. I personally am to blame in some of this, as I should have protested much earlier than I did.

I believe the real dispute is about the order of salvation, and that this can actually be generalized across several different cases.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
As far as the PRCA's position on the offer is concerned, the best description is to be found in the Declaration of Principles: "This preaching of the particular promise is promiscuous to all that hear the gospel, with the command, not a condition, to repent and believe." The issue is that the word offer is used in the Canons in both a positive and a negative way. The position in the Declaration carefully divides up the concept of the preaching of the gospel into two components, both of which are general, but which nevertheless present particular grace. The goal of this is to ensure that the relationship between God and the elect is always based on the types of figures taught in scripture, such as a parent-child, master-servant, last will and testament, etc. These figures all involve one-sided initiation and maintenance, although they all involve real interaction. The concept of a contractual covenant, along with any associated uses of the word offer, places God and man on an equal footing, as business partners. As such, a contractual covenant can imply perfectionism. In addition, if you properly understand Heads 3-5, the expression "in the way of," which is standard PRCA terminology, normally implies irresistible grace.

Both Lanning and N. Langerak have vocally denied any distinction between a condition and a way. In addition, Rev. Overway used the expression "in the way of," in a context that did not imply the correct order of salvation, stirring up an element of suspicion towards the phrase in the minds of some. This is at the root of the split. The RPC appears to stand for a rejection of both expressions. Depending on how you understand it, their position could be taken as antinomianism, hyper-calvinism, or legalism.

I would add that we do also recognize that we have some challenges as a denomination. I was a member of the same congregation with Bert Mulder during the last years he was in the PRCA, about which he has mentioned leaving. I brought protests against that minister, for teaching that God's providence was similar to human foresight as well as teaching that conversion consists of a progressive regeneration, both of which were taught over many years. Often, people in the pew, including elders, can hear that there are problems, but actually finding heretical statements, protesting them, and carrying the point is difficult. I personally am to blame in some of this, as I should have protested much earlier than I did.

I believe the real dispute is about the order of salvation, and that this can actually be generalized across several different cases.
What do you believe is the correct ordo salutis?
 

cmiersma

Puritan Board Freshman
What do you believe is the correct ordo salutis?
regeneration, effectual calling, faith, conversion justification, sanctification, preservation and perseverance, glorification. Note that I have regeneration before effectual calling. I acknowledge that there might be some ineffectual external calling prior to an immediate regeneration. Some period of ineffectual external calling must be acknowledged, even if infants are regenerated before they are born, which was evidently the case with John the Baptist and David. I also distinguish between faith and conversion, as Herman Hoeksema and Homer Hoeksena do, rather than lumping them together under the heading of saving faith as the PRCA essentials book does. Likewise, I distinguish preservation and perseverance. Also, I include glorification, as the activities and experience of faith, can be understood as signs to us of God's work in us, and thus a beginning of glorification in this life. I believe this is the most accurate terminology to reflect the breadth of biblical and confessional language, as well as reflecting the doctrinal thinking underlying the decisions of the PRCA Synod from 2016-2021, the Declaration of Principles, and the Conclusions of Utrecht. In addition, because I distinguish conversion and perseverance, I prefer to avoid the term progressive sanctification, which I have found has too many erroneous possible meanings. For example, progressive sanctification can imply perfectionism, or it can imply theological liberalism. Instead, I point out that regeneration in the narrowest sense is immediate, that calling is a process, that the effects of calling are progressive, and that therefore elements of initial conversion and perseverance are both progressive. I believe my thinking on this point aligns with the late Prof. Homer Hoeksema: (https://sb.rfpa.org/the-order-of-salvation-2/). Adding to that, I would distinguish adoption as the legal aspect of immediate regeneration and the consciousness of adoption as an aspect of conversion, though the 3 Forms do not have a separate article on the subject of Adoption. The word is used only twice in scripture, but it makes sense to associate it with both election and regeneration. I've done a bit of research on this, and I believe this also reflects the thinking of Voetius and Hoornbeeck, from shortly after Dordt. In addition, Bavinck, although he places calling before regeneration does acknowledge immediate regeneration, which leads to the same result.
 
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BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
regeneration, effectual calling, faith, conversion justification, sanctification, preservation and perseverance, glorification. Note that I have regeneration before effectual calling. I acknowledge that there might be some ineffectual external calling prior to an immediate regeneration. Some period of ineffectual external calling must be acknowledged, even if infants are regenerated before they are born, which was evidently the case with John the Baptist and David. I also distinguish between faith and conversion, as Herman Hoeksema and Homer Hoeksena do, rather than lumping them together under the heading of saving faith as the PRCA essentials book does. Likewise, I distinguish preservation and perseverance. Also, I include glorification, as the activities and experience of faith, can be understood as signs to us of God's work in us, and thus a beginning of glorification in this life. I believe this is the most accurate terminology to reflect the breadth of biblical and confessional language, as well as reflecting the doctrinal thinking underlying the decisions of the PRCA Synod from 2016-2021, the Declaration of Principles, and the Conclusions of Utrecht. In addition, because I distinguish conversion and perseverance, I prefer to avoid the term progressive sanctification, which I have found has too many erroneous possible meanings. For example, progressive sanctification can imply perfectionism, or it can imply theological liberalism. Instead, I point out that regeneration in the narrowest sense is immediate, that calling is a process, that the effects of calling are progressive, and that therefore elements of initial conversion and perseverance are both progressive. I believe my thinking on this point aligns with the late Prof. Homer Hoeksema: (https://sb.rfpa.org/the-order-of-salvation-2/). Adding to that, I would distinguish adoption as the legal aspect of immediate regeneration and the consciousness of adoption as an aspect of conversion, though the 3 Forms do not have a separate article on the subject of Adoption. The word is used only twice in scripture, but it makes sense to associate it with both election and regeneration. I've done a bit of research on this, and I believe this also reflects the thinking of Voetius and Hoornbeeck, from shortly after Dordt. In addition, Bavinck, although he places calling before regeneration does acknowledge immediate regeneration, which leads to the same result.
And how do the RPC differ on this point?
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
regeneration, effectual calling, faith, conversion justification, sanctification, preservation and perseverance, glorification. Note that I have regeneration before effectual calling. I acknowledge that there might be some ineffectual external calling prior to an immediate regeneration. Some period of ineffectual external calling must be acknowledged, even if infants are regenerated before they are born, which was evidently the case with John the Baptist and David. I also distinguish between faith and conversion, as Herman Hoeksema and Homer Hoeksena do, rather than lumping them together under the heading of saving faith as the PRCA essentials book does. Likewise, I distinguish preservation and perseverance. Also, I include glorification, as the activities and experience of faith, can be understood as signs to us of God's work in us, and thus a beginning of glorification in this life. I believe this is the most accurate terminology to reflect the breadth of biblical and confessional language, as well as reflecting the doctrinal thinking underlying the decisions of the PRCA Synod from 2016-2021, the Declaration of Principles, and the Conclusions of Utrecht. In addition, because I distinguish conversion and perseverance, I prefer to avoid the term progressive sanctification, which I have found has too many erroneous possible meanings. For example, progressive sanctification can imply perfectionism, or it can imply theological liberalism. Instead, I point out that regeneration in the narrowest sense is immediate, that calling is a process, that the effects of calling are progressive, and that therefore elements of initial conversion and perseverance are both progressive. I believe my thinking on this point aligns with the late Prof. Homer Hoeksema: (https://sb.rfpa.org/the-order-of-salvation-2/). Adding to that, I would distinguish adoption as the legal aspect of immediate regeneration and the consciousness of adoption as an aspect of conversion, though the 3 Forms do not have a separate article on the subject of Adoption. The word is used only twice in scripture, but it makes sense to associate it with both election and regeneration. I've done a bit of research on this, and I believe this also reflects the thinking of Voetius and Hoornbeeck, from shortly after Dordt. In addition, Bavinck, although he places calling before regeneration does acknowledge immediate regeneration, which leads to the same result.
I'm with Bavinck on this one. How can one be regenerated without an initial effectual call? It's the call that, by the power of the Spirit, breathes new spiritual life into us... at least that's how I've understood it.
 

brent20

Puritan Board Freshman
Regeneration is the new birth. How can a dead man answer the call of Him who is Life unless the man is first given life. I go back and forth on this one in my mind too and in a way both views make sense. Doesn't their have to be some life first before we can effectually be called?
 
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