Totally Depraved Christians?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by PuritanCovenanter, Dec 3, 2012.

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  1. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I absolutely think Tchividjian helps us understand and proves that antinomianism is becoming prevalent amongst the Reformed Church just by his conclusions. Rick Phillips nails this issue in his Reformation 21 blog post that he wrote in response to Pastor Tchividjian's blog. I am grateful that Pastor T. has let us see behind the veil of what he is thinking. This is not to impose ill motive to Pastor T. He is a goodly man who wants to see Christ exalted. At the same time I think he needs to tune up his understanding of the Gospel and salvation a bit more. And evidently I am not the only one. Good men of God are seeing this also. And this tuning up will have a good effect upon us spiritually if we hear what Rick Phillips says.

    I am even more grateful for Richard Phillips whom I admire for following up and speaking so boldly on this issue. Thanks Rick!

    Rick has to be a cool guy. He can drive an Army Tank!

    Thank God that Christians Are Not Totally Depraved - Reformation21
  2. Zach

    Zach Puritan Board Junior

    Will read this later today when I get some time. I love reading and listening to Pastor Phillips.
  3. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I read both posts and they sound like two guys talking past each other.

    I grew up reading Berkhof and memorizing the catechism. I feel I understand people like Dr. Phillips. I also came to know and like the "Grace Movement" in its earliest years. Although Pastor Tullian is perhaps not that movement's best representative, he is heavily influenced by it. So I feel I understand people like Pastor Tullian too.

    Now, I don't want to get arrogant, and I appreciate both these guys, and maybe I'm wrong... but from their posts it sounds to me like these two guys don't understand each other.

    Pastor Tullian ought to realize that when he asks if there is "any sense" in which a Christian is still totally depraved and answers "yes," no amount of explaining that he uses the phrase in an unusual sense will help his case. Doctrinal types will still read it as a denial of definative sanctification. Tullian would have done better to use some other phrase. When he takes a phrase that's associated in Reformed thought with regeneration and uses it to discuss progressive sanctification, he's just asking to be misunderstood by the doctrinal crowd.

    For his part, Dr. Phillips ought to be able to see that Tullian is being pastoral and is taking aim at one particular spiritual malady: that of "bootstrap believers" who try to fight sin using their own power alone. Tullian's goal is to get such believers to see that sin remains a dangerous threat and they constantly need to turn in faith to God as they fight against sin—every bit as much as they did when they first believed. Well, that's the right pastoral counsel for that particular malady. Phillips would do better to put his refutation in pastoral terms too, showing perhaps how that counsel might prove unhelpful to believers who struggle differently. Doing so would better speak to Tullian's crowd.

    I really suspect both guys would heartily agree with Phillips when he says, "Christ-reliance will have the effect of strengthening his disciples." And (I've said it before and now do again) the church badly needs BOTH types—those who challenge heartless doctrine AND those who challenge doctrinal sloppiness. These two guys each fill one of those roles. I hope each can appreciate how the other is thinking even when it's not how he thinks.
  4. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I believe you are just plain wrong. Arrogance doesn't have anything to do with it either. I don't believe they are talking past each other. The previous writings, criticisms, defenses, clarifications, and discussion between men of God on these topics have been openly seen. Some refuse to open their eyes desiring to be accommodating and tolerant of antinomianism for the sake of brotherly love. Some claim it is being Pastoral. Rick Phillips is a very compassionalte man and Pastoral. At the same time this is not a slam on brotherly love. I appreciate my brothers whether I agree with them or not. We all have gifts differing and we all come to different conclusions. God is the revealer, teacher, and comforter. His Spirit the Paraclete is our whole source for accomplishing His end and making us what we are in the Holy Triune God.

    At the same time Antinomianism is dangerous. I think you would recognize that. And I am not saying that Pastor T. is advocating that it is okay to go out and sin. I believe he knows it is dangerous. But there is an antinomianism and cheap grace that is being taught on some level here. Do you disagree with me Jack?

    I also believe that John McAuthur made a very succinct relevant statement that can apply here. This is a point that the Grace movement is missing.

    Do we need to define Grace for you Jack?

    Are those the only other people whom he is going to be misunderstood by? Why do so many people believe in a cheap antinomian definition of grace Jack? It isn't just Reformed Thought either. It isn't just the doctrinal crowd. It isn't just Machem's Warrior Children. LOL. BTW, isn't doctrine the thing that saves us? Aren't we all doctrinal? So let me put it this way. Your doctrinal crowd of cheap grace antinomian brothers are just polluting the waters. This is sounding like an argument against someone who wants to quote the Bible and then is accused of being a Bible Thumper because he believes it. Dumb doctrinal Christianity. How dare they!

    This isn't just about justification and sanctification. Didn't you read the first paragraph by Pastor Phillips as he was being Pastoral and guiding us? This is about how the Gospel is being defined. Maybe that is too doctrinal. There is no application there. It is just a war of words. How dare those guys! Pastor T. should know better.

    Well, maybe he should know better. I think he needs to get his tuning fork out and see if what he is saying resonates with sound faith, doctrine, and practice. Saints Paul, James, John, and Peter sure thought sounding like the Gospel was very important and Pastoral. The whole Gospel for the whole man. The Gospel of the Kingdom has a King and it includes reconciliation and a renewed ongoing relationship with that King for eternity. And yes, apart of that salvation experience is a regeneration of our being. It doesn't just produce faith in Christ. It produces becoming like him and relating to Him as a child with a parent. As a King with his subject. All things become new in our Union with Christ. Even the fact that we have a place to run to when we do sin and violate our faith and practice because we have a loving father and brother in Christ.

    Did you read the same blog I read? Dr. Phillips did address exactly what you said he should recognize. He just doesn't agree with Tchividjian's understanding. Neither do a lot of other good Pastoral men. Ever read Head, Heart, and Hand Blog by David Murray. You probably won't find a more merciful gracious man. He is the person Reverend Phillips notes below.

    But let me post a bit more to show the context so you might read it a bit more slowly and precisely Jack....

    Okay, now you are sounding arrogant. Let me advise you that being Pastoral is not defining things poorly. That is what some of this problem is. I also believe it is deeper than that as I believe it is a doctrinal problem that sees that the law and gospel are opposed, but that is another subject. So tell me how misdefining truth or misrepresenting truth (making it a lie) is a great application for the wounded soul brother. Telling others to flee to Christ for power is a remedy and fleeing to Christ for reconciliation is a remedy. Jack, are you telling me that counselling a wounded Christian with knowledge that they are they are totally depraved and without means is also a remedy? We have been equipped if we are Christians. We might not know how to perform but we have been equipped and are held responsible. 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Philippians 2:12 Refute any possibility that we are depraved. We have been set free from the law of sin and death. We have all things given to us that we might fight the good fight. (Col 2:10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:.. That passage alone refutes this supposed Christian Depravity.

    We are complete in Christ raised in newness of life.

    (1Co 10:13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

    (Php 2:12) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
    (Php 2:13) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    BTW, teachers are going to be held to higher standard before God. Maybe we should just tell them to not worry about it because they are totally depraved. It is all covered. Or maybe we should tell them the truth that we have a means and are not depraved of those means as the world is. We have Christ.

    (Gal 2:20) 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 ,(There is our Union with Christ) who loved me, and gave himself for me.

    I am dead to the law of sin and death. I have been set free. My sin is my own. Yes, we still have indwelling sin but we are free and can obey God in Christ now as Romans 8 and the scriptures teach. Now I can fulfill the law unlike before. I whole heartedly agree with WCF chapter 16 on good works and with Romans 8 and 13 when it speaks of fulfilling the law in Christ. A Depraved Christian is no Christian at all. If that were true Christ is not a Saviour.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  5. Zach

    Zach Puritan Board Junior

    I read both posts and I liked both but Pastor Phillips does a good job of pointing out the doctrinal sloppiness in Pastor Tchividjian's post. On one hand, I think Jack is right that Pastor T. could have and should have used different words to communicate his point. What Tchividjian is saying, I hope, is that because of sin's lingering effects on our whole being, salvation is entirely an act of God's free grace. He is saying that with the wrong terms and rather sloppily, but his point still stands. Our Confession of Faith and Catechisms affirm that. Pastor Phillips points out excellently that using the terminology he uses, one gets the impression that the only change is our legal status with God.

    Phillips' point Tchividjian's statement actually degenerates God's grace by leaving them in their sins is an excellent one. Jesus died not only to save us from the penalty of our sins but from the power and fruit of them in this life. Sin is bad for us and Jesus is so good to us that he gives us his Spirit so that sin will reign in our bodies less and less because this is good for us and Jesus loves to do good for his flock. God has been hammering this home to me recently as I've struggled with remaining sin in my life and seen some victory in that area this week.

    What Tchividjian seems to miss with his definition is that we are being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ in our sanctification. Pastor Larry Semel said at Redeemer OPC in Carlisle this summer that sanctification, "Isn't becoming somebody we aren't, but becoming who we are in Christ." As we become who we are in Christ in sanctification we are still desperate for God's grace. When I read Tchividjian's section on growth he seems to be saying that anyone who says, "I need to be more holy," must really mean, "I really want to need Jesus less." That's just not true. We need to be more holy because Jesus was more holy and as Christians we are being made into his image and for us to become more holy we need MORE Jesus not less Jesus.
  6. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Well, Randy, I'm convinced that in general we Reformed people do fail to understand each other (especially the other guy's motivations and purpose) on this topic quite often. But I'm not really comfortable continuing to speculate on what these particular guys may be thinking or how they'd answer. As you could probably tell, I was somewhat uncomfortable doing that from the start. I'm just not familiar enough with either of them individually.

    From interactions you and I have had in the past, I don't know of any doctrinal differences we have regarding soteriology or the definition of grace. But I'm guessing you and I probably do tend to resonate to different pastoral concerns. We may be likely to respond to something the other has said by thinking "that isn't helpful at all!" when, in fact, it would be very helpful to certain people. What one should say does depend, in part, on whom one is addressing. That makes it hard for a writer or preacher, who's addressing many people at one time. When I write, I find myself wanting to say, "If you tend toward legalism you need to ______ ... but if you tend toward cheap grace you need to ______." And I do, like Pastor Tullian, probably speak more passionately to legalists.

    I assume you mean Tchividjian (look, I spelled it!). We'd have to define those terms and I'd need to read more of his stuff, but I suspect that in the end I would disagree. Most people I know who say the sort of things he does operate under the assumption that the listeners are already, and rightly, deeply concerned by their sin. This is part of what makes dwelling on grace so powerful to them. I don't see how a way of thinking that fundamentally sees sin as such a big concern could be called antinomian. I do suspect, though, as I suggested in my first post, that Tchividjian might benefit from a greater appreciation for definitive sanctification. (There I go, speculating again about someone I don't know well enough)
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Thankyou, Randy, for bringing this to our attention. Those who teach others must be held to a higher standard. Anyone who can speak what is so blatantly false and contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture ought not to be regarded as a faithful teacher, and those who are likely to listen to such a person should be quite clearly and charitably warned that they are swimming in dangerous waters.
  8. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


    You just totally ignored and dodged the truth of what I asked you to address. Do you want to carry on this discussion or do you just want to obfuscate? You didn't really address anything I mentioned. BTW, I am not a legalist but I am also not going to say that someone should have a content conscience when they shouldn't. I will also tell them the same thing that Father Staupitz told Luther. Look to the wounds of Christ. That is where the guilty soul needs to flee. But the story doesn't end there. The Gospel requires more. It is more. It doesn't leave one in a depraved state. Now are you going to obfuscate or will you address the things I mentioned above. Where is Richard Phillips being incorrect? He did address your claim. One Pastor is relying upon a false doctrine of depravity to sooth the conscience. The other is relying upon a Gospel message that is Biblical. It matters not if you are addressing the legalist. You don't address those with a perfectionist sensitive conscience with the thought that they are depraved as Christians. You don't address the legalistic Pharisee with the fact that they are equipped and sufficient on their own. They need the abiding Paraclete. They need to abide in Christ. You take the Pharisee to Romans 10 and you take the burdened struggling Christian to Philippians 1:6 and encourage him with the book of Hebrews and Psalms. Put away the besetting sin and look to Him who is able to succor them because He understands as he was tempted in all ways as we are. The Truth matters. So does our heart of compassion.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  9. Randy in Tulsa

    Randy in Tulsa Puritan Board Freshman

    Reminds me of Calvin's comment on Matthew 5:19, "Christ here speaks expressly of the commandments of life, or the ten words, which all the children of God ought to take as the rule of their life. He therefore declares, that they are false and deceitful teachers, who do not restrain their disciples within obedience to the law, and that they are unworthy to occupy a place in the Church, who weaken, in the slightest degree, the authority of the law; and, on the other hand, that they are honest and faithful ministers of God, who recommend, both by word and by example, the keeping of the law." What's wrong with being pastoral and restraining the disciples within obedience to the law? Come to think of it, how can you be a true pastor and do otherwise?
  10. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I am sorry Jack for wearing you down with my many words friend. But I am praying and want to make one more comment brother. I know what being a sinful Christian is like. Just ask anyone. I have over 30 years of walking with Christ in the heat of the day under my belt. Sinful yes,...

    It matters what kind of concern it is. To alleviate a conscience based upon false doctrine is antinomian. It has no reguard for the Law of God nor truth. His concern with sin here is to alleviate a conscience based upon a false teaching. To give a tender wounded conscience a remedy that is false and based upon a false doctrine is dangerous. Excusing sin in the Christian life because Christians are supposedly depraved is antinomian and is not grace. It is against the law as truth and God. It teaches a falseness that can render someone apathetic. Is sin's desire hard to bear under? Well of course, but I don't see St. Paul, James, John, Peter, nor any Biblical writer telling people the things that Reverend Tchividjian is saying when he writes like this. It matters, in what way, how one concerns their self with the topic of sin. The truth sets people free from sin. Not the easing of a conscience based upon a false doctrine. We could all fly to Rome or some idolatry and be safe if that were the case. But it isn't. And many do fly to idolatry and false doctrine to ease their consciences to their own destruction. Then they end up leading others to that same place. All we like sheep have gone astray. We have led everyone to his own way. It matters how we are concerned about sin and the truth is the remedy. We just need to be discerning on how to apply that truth in the Spirit. But false doctrine is never one of those ways.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  11. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    I read the blog entry, and I hear echoes of the Reformers in it. Pastor T is right: I'm still sinful. I particularly like the quote by J.C. Ryle he cited.

    I've also read Tchividjian's book Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything and never once did I get the impression from the book that he believes in or sanctions licentiousness or wallowing in sin. What was gathered from his book is that our confidence really is in Christ alone for our salvation, apart from any works, and Pastor T is absolutely right that "bootstrap believers" are taking Christians back to the law and away from grace, in part because sanctification is looked at often without referring back to justification at all. His perceived hostility comes from hearing pastors (and I agree with him on this) preach the sternness of the law without grounding it back in the gospel. And in some cases he's right.

    He makes the point of people saying "Yes, grace, but..." and he's quite correct. I would remind all of us here that the same accusation was made by Rome to Luther and Calvin. And I'm sure that, if you asked Pastor T if he believes a Christian has license to live purposefully in iniquity, he would answer with a resounding "No." The point I gathered from his book was that our sanctification, just like our justification, is rooted in Christ, and that we should not act as if sanctification is something completely separate from grace and the gospel (don't we get on the case of Arminians for this very thing?).
  12. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    I see the concern. I also see the other side. I will try to be fair to both sides.

    We must remember that the gospel requires nothing. It is a proclamation of good news...that we are forgiven in the beloved "while we are yet his enemy." We are called upon to believe, not to do. Yet, doing flows from believing, as is proper to emphasize.

    I refer to John Owen's works, particularly Volume 7, A treatise on the dominion of sin and grace.
    "'For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law, but under grace.' - Rom.6:14. The psalmist, treating with God in prayer about sin, acknowledgeth that there are in all men unsearchable errors of life, beyond all human understanding or comprehension, with such daily sins of infirmity as stand in need of continual cleansing and pardon: Ps.19:12, 'Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.' But yet he supposeth that these things are consistent with a state of grace and acceptation with God. He had no thought of any absolute perfection in this life, of any such condition as should not stand in need of continual cleansing and pardon. Wherefore, there are or may be such sins in believers, yea, many of them, which yet, under a due application unto God for purifying and pardoning grace, shall neither deprive us of peace here nor endanger our salvation hereafter...
    ....Although I am subject to many sins of various sorts, yet under them all I can and do maintain my integrity, and covenant uprightness in walking with God; and where I fail, am kept within the reach of cleansing and pardoning mercy, continually administered unto my soul by Jesus Christ: but there is a state of life in this world wherein sin hath dominion over the soul acting presumptuously, wherewith integrity and freedom from condemning guilt are inconsistent...
    ...It is supposed that sin doth still abide in and dwell with believers; for so is the meaning of the words: 'That sin which is in you shall not have dominion over you;' that is, none of them who are not sensible of it, who groan not to be delivered from it, as the apostle doth, Rom.7:24. Those who are otherwise minded know neither themselves, nor what sin is, nor wherein the grace of the gospel doth consist. There is 'flesh' remaining in every one, which 'lusteth against the Spirit,' Gal.5:17; and it adheres unto all the faculties of our souls, whence it is called the 'old man,' Rom.6:6, in opposition unto the renovation of our minds and all the faculties of them, called the 'new man,' Eph. 4:24, or 'new creature' in us; and there is a continual working and provision to fulfil its own lusts: so that it abides in us in the way of a dying, decaying habit, weakened and impaired; but acting itself in inclinations, motions, and desires, suitable unto its nature...
    ..."It is supposed that this sin, which, in the remainders of it, so abides in believers in various degrees, may put forth its power in them to obtain victory and dominion over them. It is first supposed that it hath this dominion in some, that it doth bear rule over all unbelievers, all that are under the law; and then that it will strive to do the same in them that believe and are under grace: for, affirming that it shall not have dominion over us, he grants that it may or doth contend for it, only it shall not have success, it shall not prevail. Hence it is said to fight and war in us, Rom. 7:23, and to war against our souls, I Pet.2:11. Now, it thus fights, and wars, and contends in us for dominion, for that is the end of all war; whatever fights, it doth it for power and rule.
    ..."What is that dominion of sin which we are freed from and discharged of by grace...for it is usurped. Sin hath no right to rule in the souls of me. Men have no power to give sin a right to rule over them. They may voluntarily enslave themselves unto it; but this gives sin no right or title. All men have originally another lord, unto whom they owe all obedience, nor can anything discharge them from their allegience thereunto; and this is the law of God. The apostle saith, indeed, that 'to whom men yield themselves servants to obey, his servants they are to whom they obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness,' Rom.6:16. And so it is. Men are thereby the proper servants of sin; they become so by their own voluntary subjection unto it. But this gives sin no title against the law of God, whose right alone it is to bear sway in the souls of men; for all that give themselves to the service of sin do live in actual rebellion against their natural liege Lord...
    "Hence man have a right in themselves to cast off the rule of sin, and to vindicate themselves into liberty. They may, when they will, plead the right and title of the law of God unto the rule of their souls, to the utter exclusion of all pleas and pretenses of sin for its power. They have a right to say unto it, 'Get thee hence; what have I to do any more with idols?' All men have this right within themselves, because of the natural allegiance they owe to the law of God; but they have not the power of themselves to execute this right, and actually to cast off the yoke of sin: but this is the work of grace. Sin's dominion is broken only by grace. But you will say then, 'Unto what end serves this right, if they have not power in themselves to put it in execution? and how can it be charged as an aggravation of their sin that they do not use the right which they have, seeing they have no power so to do? Will you blame a man that hath a right to an estate if he do not recover it, when he hath no means so to do?"...

    ...'It is otherwise with them that are under grace. Sin shall not have dominion over them; strength shall be administered unto them to dethrone it. 'Grace' is a word of various acceptations in the Scripture. As we are here said to be under it, and as it is opposed unto the law, it is used or taken for the gospel, as it is the instrument of God for the communication of himself and his grace by Jesus Christ unto those that do believe, with that state of acceptation with himself which they are brought into thereby, Rom.5:1,2. Wherefore, to be 'under grace' is to have an interest in the gospel covenant and state, with a right unto all the privileges and benefits thereof, to be brought under the administration of grace by Jesus Christ,-to be a true believer.
    But the inquiry hereon is, how it follows from hence that sin shall not have dominion over us, that sin cannot extend its territories and rule into that state, and in what sense this is affirmed.
    Is it that there shall be no sin in them any more? Even this is true in some sense. Sin as unto its condemning power hath no place in this state, Rom.8:1. All the sins of them that believe are expiated or done away, as to the guilt of them, in the blood of Christ, Heb.1:3; I John1:7. This branch of the dominion of sin, which consists in its condemning power, is utterly cast out of this state. But sin as unto its being and operation doth still continue in believers whilst they are in this world; they are sensible of it. Those who decieve themselves with a contrary apprehension are most of all under the power of it, I John.1:8. Wherefore, to be free from the dominion of sin is not to be freed absolutely from all sin, so as that it should in no sense abide in us any more. This is not to be under grace, but to be in glory...
    ...We are absolved, quitted, freed from the rule of sin, as unto its pretended right and title, by the promise of the gospel; for thereby we are freed and discharged from the rule of the law, wherein all the title of sin unto dominion is founded, for 'the strength of sin is the law:' but we are freed from it, as unto its internal power and exercise of its dominion, by internal spiritual strenght in its due exercise. Now, this is communicated by the gospel; it gives life and power, with such continual supplies of grace as are able to dethrone sin, and forever to prohibit its return...
    ...but now, saith the apostle, be of good cheer, notwithstanding all these things, and all your fears upon them, sin shall not prevail, it shall not have the dominion, it shall never ruin your souls.' But what ground have we for this hope? what assurance of this success? 'This you have,' saith the apostle, 'Ye are not under the law but under grace;' or the rule of the grace of God in Christ Jesus, administered in the gospel.'...
    ...Consider the end for which aids of grace are granted and communicated by the gospel. Now, this is not that sin may at once be utterly destroyed and consumed in us, that it should have no being, motion, or power in us any more. This work is reserved for glory, in the full redemption of body and soul, which we here do but groan after. But it is given unto us for this end, that sin maay be so crucified and mortified in us, -that is, so gradually weakened and destroyed, -as that it shall not ruin spiritual life in us, or obstruct its necessary acting in duties, and for prevalency against such sins as would disannul the covenant relation between God and our souls. Whilst we have supplies of it which are sufficient unto this end, although our conflict with sin doth continue, although we are perplexed by it, yet we are under grace, and sin shall have no more dominion over us. This is enough for us, that isn shall be gradually destroyed, and we shall have a sufficiency of grace on all occasions to prevent its ruling prevalency.
    Live in the faith of this sacred truth, and ever keep alive in your sould expectation of supplies of grace suitable thereunto. It is of the nature of true and saving faith, inseparable from it, to believe that the gospel is the way of God's administration of grace for the ruin of sin. He that believes it not believes not the gospel itself, which is 'the power of God unto salvaiton,' Rom.1:16. If we live, and walk, and act, as if we had nothing to trust unto but ourselves, our own endeavours, our own resolutions, and that in our perplexities and surprisals, it is no wonder if we are not sensible of supplies of divine grace; - most probably we are under the law and not under grace. This is the fundamental principal of the gospel state, that we live in expectation of continual communications of life, grace, and strength, from Jesus Christ, who is 'our life,' and from whose 'fulness we receive, and grace for grace.' We may therefore, in this case, continually expostulate with our souls, as David doth: 'Why go you mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Why are you cast down? and why are you disquieted within us? Still hope in God; he is the health of my countenance.' We may be sensible of great oppression from the power of the enemy; this may cause us to go mourning all the day long, and in some sense it ought so to do. Howbeit we ought not hence to despond, or to be cast down from our duty or our comfort. Still we may trust in God through Christ, and live in continual expectation of such spiritual reliefs as shall assuredly preserve us from the dominion of sin. This faith, hope, and expectation, we are called unto by the gospel; and when they are not cherished, when they are not kept up unto a due exercise, all things will go backward in our spiritual condition...
    ...You will say then, 'Whereto serves the gospel and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in this case, if it be not able to give us deliverance herein?' I answer, It doth give us a fourfold relief, which amounts virtually to a constant deliverance, though sin will abide in us whilst we are in this world: - (1) It is as ordered that the continuance of sin in us shall be the ground, reason, and occassion, of the exercise of all grace, and of putting a lustre on our obedience...Wherefore, the - continuance of us in this state and condition in this world, - a state of spiritual warfare, - is best for us, and highly suited unto divine wisdom, considering the office and care of our Lord Jesus Christ for our relief...(2) There are, by the grace of Christ, such supplies and aids of spiritual strength granted unto believers, that sin shall never proceed farther in them than is useful and needful for the exercise of their graces. It shall never have its will upon them nor dominion over them, as we have before declared...(3) There is mercy administered in and by the gospel for the pardon of all that is evil in itself or in any of its effects. 'There is no condemnation unto them that are in Christ Jesus.' Pardoning mercy, according to the tenor of the covenant, doth always disarm this sin in believers of its condemning power; so that, notwithstanding the utmost endeavours of it, 'being justified by faith, they have peace with God.' (4) There is a season when, by the grace of Christ, it shall be utterly abolished, - namely, at death, when the course of our obedience is finished. Wherefore, to affirm that this sin, and consequently a conflict with it, doth abide in believers whilst they are in this world, is no disparagement unto the grace of Christ, which gives such a blessed deliverance from it...
    ...But there is a conflict with sin where grace hath the rule and is enthroned; for although grace have the sovereignty in the mind and heart, yet remainders of sin, especially in the corrupt affections, will be continually rebelling against it..."

    Also not, Owen's Volume 6, The nature, power, deceit, and prevalency of the remainders of the indwelling sin in believers."
    "It is of indwelling sin, and that in the remainders of it in persons after their conversion to God, with its power, efficacy, and effects, that we intend to treat...
    ...The appelation he gives unto indwelling sin, whereby he expresseth its power and efficacy: it is 'a law;' for that which he terms 'a law' in this verse, he calls in the foregoing, 'sin that dwelleth in him.'...
    ...The state and activity of this law when the soul is in that frame when it would do good: it 'is present with him.' ..
    ...A law is taken either properly for a directive rule, or improperly for an operative effective principle, which seems to have the force of a law...hence, in a secondary sense, an inward principle that moves and inclines constantly unto any actions is called a law. The principle that is in the nature of every thing, moving and carrying it towards its own end and rest, is called the law of nature. In this respect, every inward principle that inclineth and urgeth unto operations or actings suitable to itself is a law...And for this reason doth the apostle here call indwelling sin a law. It is a powerful and effectual indwelling principle, inclining and pressing unto actions agreeable and suitable unto its own nature...'I see a law in my members,' it denotes the being and nautre of sin; so, in the latter, 'leading into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members,' it signifies power and efficacy...There is an exceeding efficacy and power in the remainders of indwelling sin in believers, with a constant working towards evil...
    ...It is in them a ruling and prevailing principle of all moral actions, with reference unto a supernatural and eternal end...They that find not its power are under its dominion. Whosoever contend against it shall know and find that it is present with them, that it is powerful in them. He shall find the stream to be strong who swims against it, though he who rolls along with it be insensible of it...
    ...Grace gives them a will to do good...'to commit sin' is to make a trade of sin, to make it a man's business to sin. So it is said a believer 'doth not commit sin;' and so 'to do that which is good.'...
    ...There is through grace, kept up in believers, a will of doing good notwithstanding the power and efficacy of indwelling sin to the contrary...
    ...This distinguishes them from unbelievers. The will in unbelievers is under the power of the law of sin....but believers have an inclination in their wills of doing this principle is not in any way in unbelievers...'"

    In conclusion, we must remember that this principle of sin in believers is not progressively getting more and more absent. It may wax and wane in strength, but it will always be a law in our members. It is constant as before. Yet, another principle is now present that never before existed in us, and that is the principle of grace. Sanctification is not the progressive absence of the old principle of sin in the believer, but is rather the continual influence of the new principle of grace within him, and the war that therefore ensues. Glorification is the removal of the old principle. This body is meant to be discarded, not restored. We are like a faucet that now runs hot and cold water, whereas before it only ran cold. The hot is not making the cold run less and less, but is rather exerting itself over the influences of the cold that are always continual throughout this life. As the Lord wills that more of his Spirit influence us, we will see less and less of sin's power show itself. But, if he desires a season of little influence from his Spirit upon us, so as to exercise our faith, the sinful principle will again dominate itself upon our lives, just as it did upon David and Sampson. Continual sanctification was the term used by Calvin, and not progressive. For, progressive has the connotation that the old will steadily dissolve into nothing. Yet, that is up to God, for Sampson's sinful principle did not seem to dissolve away a whole lot, and grace did not seem to gain an upper hand until perhaps the very end. Neither his sanctification, nor David's, was as progressive as the books today seem to make it out to be.

    Anyway...I just encourage everyone to read Owen's thoughts regarding the subject. Yes, believers are different from unbelievers, due to the imparting of a principle of grace within them. Yet, I refer to Owen, that the principle of sin remains until the end, exercising itself in various degrees for various people, and at differing amounts in different peoples' lives...We must mortify its fruit and its outward working. Yet, the principle will die only when the body dies.

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  13. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


    You haven't interacted with anything in this thread. Your post is unhelpful. It is an obfuscation whether you meant it to be or not. We already know that Pastor Tchividjian does not endorse licentiousness or wallowing in sin. You need to read the thread and deal with the content instead of just posting willie nillie.


    Thanks, Owen is wonderful on this topic. And I mentioned the same thing before that we have indwelling sin to deal with.
  14. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    In fairness to Dean, in post #10 above you did say the following about Pastor T.

    1. He excuses sin in the Christian life.
    2. He has no regard for the Law of God (Really? None at all? Zero?)
    3. He wrongly eases consciences based on false doctrine.

    The interesting thing is that I read the same blog entry from him that you did and I didn't think he was doing any of those things. In fact, #3 is the only accusation that even makes sense to me from what he wrote, and I think he addressed that (though rather badly) in explaining his unusual use of "total depravity."

    The charges you make are serious ones. If true, they make a person unfit even to be called a Christian, much less a pastor. They are devilish through and through. So why did you read that blog entry and read such damning error into his words when Dean and I read it and didn't see any of that?

    I suppose it's possible that I'm dense and uninformed. That has happened before.

    But consider also the possibility that between Pastor T. and you there was a failure to communicate and understand each other. This might be due to differences in background, life experiences, theological circles and their jargon, or ideas about what sort of pastoral counsel tends to be most necessary in the lives of most people. There might also be some theological sloppiness from Pastor T. that should be addressed. But until you (or anyone who wishes to provide a critique) understand better where he's coming from, it'll be hard to provide a critique that's actually helpful and resonates with the pastor. It goes the same for him. He needs to better understand you so that he'll write things that can actually edify you.

    This doesn't mean doctrine and truth don't matter. It just means understanding and good communication also matter. And that's the only point I was trying to make. I'm not competent to provide a full analysis of either of those pastors' theologies. Accuse me of refusing to play ball if you like, but I won't do that. I haven't heard/read enough from either of them.


    As for what I believe, you've asked a lot of questions in some long posts. I admit I'm not sure which of them are argumentative and where you're truly looking for answers so that you, intending to be helpful to me, can better understand me. Maybe if you repeated just one or two questions at a time that you most care about, I could give you some helpful responses. Better understanding is always good. That's why I'm on this board.
  15. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    Tullian gracefully responds:

    LIBERATE » Sin Remains: My Response to Rick Phillips

    I know it is hard for some out there to believe that the people pastor T is ministering to actually exist. There really are those of us who learned a legalistic way of thinking about our sanctification, in a Reformed church. Justification was presented to us as the gospel in response to Rome's definition of justification, or in response to other false views. It was then put up on the shelf as a doctrinal trophy so to speak. Justification never touched our souls in its fullness, rather only in its proper formulation. And it was only brought off the shelf when it was time to remind us of the proper formulation. Justification as the soul-freeing, conscience-cleaning, hope-resting, gospel for me was not an emphasis or a means of dealing with our christian life. It was presented in a way thay essentially stated: "ok, now that we have justification properly defined, let's move on to christian living, the real meat of christianity", and from there it was focus on law in some form. Law was never used in its second use. Gospel was used as something we need to be saved. But without that second use of the law, the gospel just became a generic insurance into heaven. It remained a formal creed, and not the comfort for a law broken, sin filled conscience.

    It is pastors like Tullian and Horton and Clark who reach people like us. We do not understand the fear people have towards us as possibly being antinomians or unconcerned about sanctification. Because we were originally so educated on the importance of sanctification, when we hear the importance of justifcation, we don't run from sanctification, we run towards it now. Not everyone comes from a cheap grace mentality in this regard. Many of us come from a place where we truly have the desire to be holy and sanctified, but easily forget, or were never taught, the central role that justifcation has in sanctification/the christian life.

    I can understand many come from evangelicalism where the law is not taught properly, if at all. And thus the concern for people like us missing the importance of the law and sanctification. But it would mean a lot to people like me if you could accept us as brothers in christ who have a different route/experience to and in the faith than you do. Charity could go a long way in understanding that we are christ's sheep too who have to be approached differently from you. I am sorry we are so different from some of you. More and more I feel like there is not a place for me here or in many Reformed churches.
  16. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    I did read the thread, including both posts by TT and Phillips. Did you or did you not state that you believe antinomianism is prevalent in the church as evidenced by Tchividjian? Every addressing of antinomianism I've ever heard is either expressly or implicitly linked with unrestricted sinful action. That's the only conclusion I can come to.
  17. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    That is a fair assessment.
  18. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Obfuscation (or beclouding) is the hiding of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, wilfully ambiguous, and harder to interpret.

    So Mr. Dean's just lying to us, wilfully, whether he means it or not? That makes sense...

    Can't ya just feel tha love? :hug:
  19. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


    First off you still have not addressed my questions from the first. That is why I wondered if you would still be obfuscating. Please answer my questions first before you proceed farther. If you don't this discussion won't go anywhere. It is meaningless and you are only sounding like a diverting sound byte.

    For the purpose of this thread let's start here.

    1.) How do you define Grace? That seems to be a big issue here. There is such a thing as poorly understood grace as I noted before. How do you define Grace?

    In relationship with this ..
    2.) Why do so many people believe in a cheap antinomian definition of grace Jack? Could it be that it is this kind of message that Christians are depraved that might be giving them a reason to hold to it? After all since they can't overcome a bessetting sin it must be that they are depraved and are in bondage. It isn't just Reformed Thought either that is critical of this teaching.

    3.) Being Pastoral doesn't mean you use poor terminology to get to an ends. The ends do not justify the means. I would like for you to tell me how misdefining truth or misrepresenting truth is a great application for the wounded soul.

    4.) Should Dr. T get a free pass on his very public account of defining things poorly (as you noted he has)? Teachers are going to be held to higher standard before God. Maybe we should just tell them to not worry about it because they are totally depraved. It is all covered. Or maybe we should tell them the truth that we have a means and are not depraved of those means as the world is. We have Christ. Or maybe we should give them a free pass. Should we give Pastor Tullian a free pass.

    Those are just four points I am taking from post 4 that I expected to have some interaction on. Maybe to get a clearer picture of the questions you should go back and reread post #4.

    I have asked you to defend him and answer questions Jack. I was responding to this quote by you and not necessarily Pastor Tullian. And I quote..."I don't see how a way of thinking that fundamentally sees sin as such a big concern could be called antinomian."

    I was addressing your statement and I only mentioned Reverend Tchividjian in context of comparing his teaching in light of the men who wrote the Word of God. I was addressing your point about a concern for sin. It seems you are defending Reverend Tchividjian based upon the fact that he is being Pastoral. I just pointed out that your phrase of BIG CONCERN could have various potential angles and that the one you seem to be addressing is the easing of a conscience or wounded soul. It also seems that you are advocating it might be okay to do it poorly because Pastor Tullian is being Pastoral and Rick Phillips is not.

    So your accusations are falling on the ground empty Jack. Please start addressing my quotes and quit attributing to me things that I did not say.

    A.) I did not say Pastor Tullian exused sin in the life of the believer. That is a lie. In fact I did say...
    B.) I never said that Pastor Tullian had no reguard for the law. I think I already explained the context........

    C.) He wrongly eases consciences based on false doctrine. This might be true and I am asking you to defend him. So far I can not see that you have and I see that you are rabbit trailing and obfuscating so that you aren't answering my questions. Whether you are doing it purposefully or not I don't think you are. I sincerely believe that you do care and that you want the honor of men upheld. I am not trying to tear down but make a situation known that is of utmost importance. The Church is weak now. She has left her moorings. I pray for truth to be revealed and for Holiness to once again be found in the grace of God and in our Union with Christ. I deeply care as much as I am sure Pastor Tullian does. He might even care more. Please answer my questions and quit attributing things to me that aren't true.

    P.S. I know this is a painful subject and that it is not enjoyable. It isn't for me. I am not relishing in this.

  20. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I mean no disrespect to you sir but you have a very limited and truncated understanding of antinomianism. Mark Jones, who just collaborated with Joel Beeke on a Puritan Theology is coming out with a book on Antinomianism soon. Look for it. Off of the top of my mind I can't reference you to anything. Maybe someone else can. The only thing that comes to my mind is..... Samuel Rutherford's A Survey of the Spiritual Anti-Christ.....
  21. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Time out. Let's chill for a bit and come back later.
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