Fiducial Jokesters

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It is gratifying when on occasion others have drawn the same conclusion that you have even when so many others seem perpetually oblivious to the painfully obvious.  For a number of years I have been saying, or rather yelling, that there is no such thing as justification by faith alone in the Federal Vision.  For that reason I have called men like Doug Wilson, Steve Wilkins, Steve Schlissel, Peter Leithart, Mark Horne, Jeffery Meyers, Norman Shepherd, John Kinnaird, and a host of others heretics.  Feel free to include N.T. Wright and the followers of the so-called New Perspectives on Paul in that list, but for my purposes here I just want to pick on Federal Visionists and not the other dogs that travel in their pack.  Identifying such men as heretics  would seem to be a biblical imperative like the one found in Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”  Some like R. S. Clark are uneasy about calling these notable false teachers heretics, and even refuses to do it, even though he admits, “The FV is a profound corruption of the gospel masquerading as the Reformed faith.” You’d think if Clark really believed that he’d be right there following the Apostle Paul’s lead sounding the alarm that these men are indeed accursed to hell (Galatians 1:8).  And, it’s for this reason men like Clark refuse to identify these FV teachers as heretics, because, he says, he’s “not anxious to see folk in hell.”  Well, neither am I, but I am quite confident that neither R. S. Clark or I  have that kind of juice.  I would rather that all of the above mentioned self-styled Christian teachers would repent of their identified and deadly doctrines.  Yet, even with all the official statements and studies condemning their doctrines, these men remain entrenched, solidly committed to their corrupt gospel “masquerading as the Reformed faith.”

What seems to leave more than a few TEs and REs (teaching and ruling elders) bewildered, and hesitant to mark these men as they should and instead call them “brothers,”  is that some of the FV’s leading advocates and defenders will from time to time claim to believe in justification by faith alone.  The question is, why does anyone believe them?  Even the current Antichrist in Rome recently told a general audience that “Luther’s phrase: ‘faith alone’ is true if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love.” Should we just assume that Razinger (aka Benedict XVI) has abandoned Romanism and is now a Protestant; a Christian?  Why is it “charitable” to believe the profession of ersatz-Reformed pastor with a Roman soteriology and not when the same is said by Roman bishop with a funny hat?  Shouldn’t we assume because the pope said “faith alone is true” that the divide that has separated Protestants and Catholics for centuries is nothing more than an ancient artifact from a time when everyone wore funny hates?   Of course, what may seem to be an issue of semantics to some is a matter of life and death to others.  For example, concerning the above mentioned papal affirmation of Luther’s phrase, “faith alone” R. S. Clark points out,  that the whole question comes down to that little conditional “if”:

That conditional, that “if,” makes all the difference in the world. That one little conditional is the difference between Rome and Wittenberg. Why? After all, Protestants affirm that faith alone is not opposed to charity (love) or sanctification. That’s certainly true, but the question here is whether the Benedict means by “faith” what we mean by it and whether we’re talking about the same justification and the same role of faith? For us Protestants, charity is the fruit and evidence of justification. Is it so for Benedict? If so, he’s abandoned his own catechism and magisterial Roman dogma since 1547. That would be remarkable indeed!

Read in its broader context (Roman dogma since 1547) and in its immediate context it becomes clear that he has not capitulated to Luther. The little expression “faith in charity” is a shorthand way of expressing the Roman doctrine that it is “faith formed by love” that justifies, i.e. faith justifies because and to the degree that it sanctifies. The “supreme pontiff” (so much for the theologia crucis) knows what he’s doing. He’s a German theologian.

Let’s let him explain what he means by “justification.

“Being just simply means being with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Further observances are no longer necessary. For this reason Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love. Faith is looking at Christ, entrusting oneself to Christ, being united to Christ, conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence to believe is to conform to Christ and to enter into his love. So it is that in the Letter to the Galatians in which he primarily developed his teaching on justification St Paul speaks of faith that works through love.”

We can see exactly what the pope means by “justification” and why he says “faith alone is true” provided it is definitionally related to charity and the works of love.  According to Razinger, it is through faith that we are “conformed to Christ” and it is this process that ultimately  justifies us before the throne of God.  The problem should be obvious and what Razinger attributes to justification Luther rightly attributes to sanctification.  This is the central issue of the Reformation.  Reformation 101.  Justification is a fiat once-for-all  declaration that occurs the moment someone first believes. We are accounted as righteous not because of anything or any change that occurs within us, or, that we are by any means actually righteous, but are accounted as righteous because of Christ’s righteousness (His active and passive obedience, i.e., His life) imputed to us.  By contrast, sanctification is an ongoing process that occurs throughout a believers  life whereby we are being formed by the work of the Spirit more and more into the likeness of Christ as we mortify the work of the flesh and grow in personal or subjective righteousness.  However, sanctification contributes absolutely nothing to our justification.   While sanctification naturally follows or flows from justification, the two doctrines are necessarily and logically distinct. It’s absurd that anyone would ever think God’s work in us could ever satisfy God’s absolute standard of justice apart from us as long as the stain of sin remains.  Purgatory isn’t going to help anyone either.  The ongoing transformation that occurs as the result of our progressive sanctification is something that is never perfected in this life (Methodists notwithstanding), is wrought with sin even in the seemingly most sanctified sinner (see 1 Tim 1:15, Romans 7), and, again, contributes absolutely nothing to our justification before the bar of God’s justice.  That’s why it should be no surprise that the pope appeals to Galatians 5:6 in support of Rome’s scheme of justification.  It is the faith that works through love and not faith alone that justifies.

That said, have you ever noticed how often Federal Visionists make the exact same arguments whenever they discuss justification even justification by faith alone?  Compare what Razinger writes above concerning faith’s relationship to justification to what Doug Wilson has written in light of his feeble and failed attempt to harmonize the seeming contradictory use of “justification” in  James and Paul:

The solution of the whole problem is provided by Paul himself in a single phrase. In Gal. 5:6, he says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.” “Faith working through love” is the key to an understanding both of Paul and James. The faith about which Paul has been speaking is not the idle faith which James condemns, but a faith that works. It works itself out through love. And what love is Paul explains in the whole last division of Galatians. It is no mere emotion, but the actual fulfilling of the whole moral law. “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Gal. 5:14). Paul is fully as severe as James against a faith that permits men to continue in sin. The faith about which he is speaking is a faith that receives the Spirit who gives men power to lead a holy life.

So, when Wilson talks about justification by faith alone it should be clear that what he means is identical to what Ratzinger means.   Ratzinger and Wilson both appeal to Galatians 5:6 as evidence that the faith that saves is that faith that “works through love.” Like Ratzinger, Wilson denies that merely believing the Gospel can justify any man:

So what is meant by faith? According to James faith without works is dead; according to Paul faith is all sufficient for salvation. But what does James mean by faith? The answer is perfectly plain. The faith which James is condemning is a mere intellectual assent which has no effect upon conduct.

Now, what exactly is a mere intellectual assent that has no affect upon conduct?  In reply Wilson makes reference to James 2:19 and the old saw about demonic faith, completely oblivious to the fact that James is discussing monotheism and the demonic belief that God is one.   Yet, even this belief in the unity of the Godhead affects the conduct of demons, for James tells us that they tremble as a result.   How this verse can be marshaled as proof that justification by belief alone is false or somehow insufficient all by itself is a mystery?  Beyond that one failed example, Wilson doesn’t provide any other examples of an intellectual assent that has no affect upon conduct.  If someone assents to the Communist Manifesto or believes that the government has a duty to provide health-care for all of its citizens, will it not have an affect on their conduct or at least on how they vote?  I should think it would. By the same token, if someone assents to the truth of Jesus Christ and the Gospel will it not also affect the way they live; their behavior?  Again, I should think it would and James in fact argues this very point even if Federal Visionists and their big brothers in Rome fail to get it.

It should be crystal clear by now in Wilson’s Federal Vision, or in Ratzinger’s Romanism,  that without the concomitant conduct no man can be justified.  Faith alone or mere intellectual assent to the truth of the Gospel cannot justify anyone, therefore it follows that Christ’s work alone that a sinner receives and rests on for their justification  is insufficient to make any man right before God.  Our conduct is required because without works done through faith faith alone is “dead.”   So says Razinger.  So says Wilson.  Of course, Jesus disagrees with these two brazen religious heretics.  In  John 5:24 Jesus said;  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”  Oddly, Jesus doesn’t seem at all concerned with the affect this belief will have upon conduct and as it relates to justification, rather the one who believes has already passed from death to life and is already justified.  The will not “come into judgment” at any time. Belief alone and nothing else is required, much less “faith working through love,” in order to be justified.  Jesus says in the next chapter of John’s Gospel; “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”  Notice, the flesh, what we do or what is wrought in us, profits nothing, but the very words or doctrines Jesus spoke are “spirit and are life.” Again, belief alone will suffice.  And, if that still wasn’t enough, add to that what Jesus says  in Chapter 8  to believing Jews: “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;  and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”   If we abide or believe in Jesus’ word, his doctrines, we shall know the truth and be set free from the curse and penalty of sin (John 8:34).  By mere belief alone we are  truly His disciples.  Notably absent again from Jesus’ words is the need for any concomitant works, even works done in love and through faith.   That’s not to say that our assent to the truths of the Gospel won’t affect our conduct, but rather our conduct should not be confused or conflated with an assent to the truth resulting in justification.  A man is saved by mere or simple belief or faith alone and not through some Roman or Federal Vision fusion of faith and works no matter how cleverly disguised.   Believing is believing and doing is doing.   Not so in Romanism or in the Federal Vision. This also is why Federal Visionists will often attempt do differentiate belief from faith when in fact these words mean the exact same thing in Scripture and are translations derived from the exact same Greek word pistis.

Which brings us back to how gratifying it is when others seem to draw the same conclusion that you have.  Recently on Darryl Hart’s blog, Old Life, Reformed Faith and Practice, a small band of Federal Visionists were busy defending Norm Shepherd as a perfectly good Christian man and teacher, a saint really, who fully affirms the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone.  At one point one contributor, Nicholas Batzig,  taking exception to the claims of at least one of Shepherd’s defenders, wrote:

… Shepherd has developed the doctrine of justification in a way that those who hold to the Reformed doctrine of justification do not understand. It is precisely because he has ADDED an eschatological element to the biblical doctrine that we believe he has taken away from it. I think you might have misunderstood the point of my previous comment. Do you think that obedience is a part of fidei? Shepherd and the Federal Vision think so. Doug Wilson says as much in his article “A Pauline Take on the New Perspective. (Credenda/Agenda vol. 15, issue 5)” Expounding the nature of the three-fold definition of faith Wilson says, “It is the essential nature of fiducia to trust gladly in everything that God has spoken in His Word—whether law or gospel, Old or New Testaments, poems or prose, odd-numbered pages or even. This means that fides salvifica is related to ongoing fidelity, trust or obedience in the same way that a body is related to breathing. Without a body, there is nothing to breathe with. Without breathing, there is something that needs to be buried.” Wilson, as is true of Shepherd, lodges obedience or faithfulness in the third part of the essence of faith, namely, fiducia or trust. This is not what the Reformers and Puritans meant by fiducia. They meant what is expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith’s definition of faith–”receiving and resting on Christ alone as He is offered to us in the Gospel.” That is a largely passive act. It is not what we do, it is what Christ has done and our appropriation of it by faith.

Batzig point is exceptional and not only because it’s the same one I have made and in reference to the exact same 2003 Credenda article.  No one anywhere that I know of has leveled the same criticism against Wilson based on the same source.  Frankly, most just don’t seem to get it.  Yet,  Batzig exposes Wilson, and by extension Shepherd, by showing that Wilson includes obedience as the third or fiducial element of saving belief.

As the readers of this blog or the many publications of the Trinity Foundation already know, Gordon Clark demonstrated years ago that the traditional tri-fold definition of saving belief consisting of  a combination of understanding (notitia), assent (assensus), and trust (fiducia) is tautological nonsense.  To define belief as trust is to define the word by itself.  To trust someone is to believe what they say and to believe someone is to trust what they say.  Consequently, and as Clark demonstrates, the history of how Reformed men have understood saving faith (which is of critical importance since it is intimately  and ultimately related to justification) is a morass of pious sounding psychological nonsense and confusion.  However, whereas most holding to the tautological and self-referencing tri-fold definition do not end up denying the Gospel, there are many out there who do. Wilson provides a powerful case in point.  Perhaps at one time  Clark’s critical analysis could be dismissed as a curiosity or the obscurant observations of some aging professor of philosophy.  Not any more.  FVist like Wilson, Shepherd, and others have been able to avoid the tautology charge by successfully adding trust in the sense of obedience as the central element that makes faith the sole instrument of justification. Salvation by faith and works through redefinition

This is precisely why James Jordan (who some call the Godfather of the Federal Vision) said :

A baby’s trust in his mother’s arms becomes the primary analogy for faith, as Jesus taught. As we grow, our understanding matures, and we expect mature faith to have lots of notitia and assensus; but fiducia is the foundation. It’s the Clark controversy with feet on it.

On justification, during the Shepherd controversy at WTS, it was shown time and again that Calvin and Bucer and various Scottish Seceders (part of Shepherd’s background, with the Covenanters) and Dutch theologians had all said exactly the same thing. The faculty and the OPC both examined and exonerated Shepherd. There’s no doubt but that Shepherd’s doctrine of justification is the Reformed traditional doctrine. But it is not the American evangelical doctrine, and that’s why the more broadly evangelical (largely Southern) bloc in the presbyterian churches could not fathom it.

… I think excitement about being Reformed is grossly sectarian. Jesus did not die to make me Reformed, and going around tooting a Reformed horn compromises the gospel, in my opinion. My theological understanding is thoroughly Reformed; within that broad stream. But I’m not of Paul, Apollos, or Reformed. And if that’s part of what’s offensive about the FV, so be it.

Jordan recognizes, better than most, that Clark’s analysis of saving faith strikes at the heart of the entire Federal Vision, which perhaps explains why the “faculty [of Westminster Seminary] and the OPC both examined and exonerated Shepherd.”    That’s because Clark’s clear, logical, and biblical analysis strips away the Reformed veneer from the Federal Vision’s Romanish doctrine of justification which is nothing more than a scheme of salvation by faith and works.  That is why Jordan calls the fight over the Federal Vision “the Clark controversy with feet on it.”  Like Wilson, Jordan sees the relationship of fiducia to saving faith as the linchpin on which this entire controversy hangs.  And,  so there can be no doubt, Jordan howled on another blog:

Some men remain in the PCA because God has told them they have a duty to help the 7000 who have not yet bowed the knee to antichrist. They hatred of the Kingship of Jesus, which characterizes so much of the PCA, is with fighting. The Reformed faith is that faith includes fiducia, and this is still worth fighting for, regardless of how many antinominian blogs hate it.

As the writer of what must be in  Jordan’s fevered mind an “antinomian blog,” I confess he is right for admittedly all the wrong reasons.   The Reformed faith is that faith that includes fiducia.  This is a something Gordon Clark sought to correct.  The Federal Vision defines fiducia or trust in the sense of obedience.  To their credit, their understanding of the fiducial element of saving faith completely avoids Clark’s charge that the tri-fold definition of faith is tautological nonsense.  In this sense the Federal Vision’s understanding of faith is superior to the traditional Reformed understanding of faith.  Therefore, if Jordan is correct and his understanding of fiducia is allowed to stand, the Reformed faith differs in no substantial way from the Roman Catholic faith when it comes to the question of faith’s role in justification and the schism is over.  Worse, if Jordan is right, the Reformed are the schismatics.

The rise of the Federal Vision and the NPP is the reason why John Robbins reissued Clark’s Faith and Saving Faith and The Johannine Logos in one volume, simply, What is Saving Faith? This book, more than any other, is the antidote to the Federal Vision’s superhighway to Rome.  And, while I have no doubt that Clark’s analysis is correct, correctly identifying the Federal Vision’s incorporation of obedience as the necessary and definitional component that makes ordinary faith saving does not require that one agrees with Clark — although it certainly helps.  If someone wants to continue to think of faith in nonsensical terms while patting themselves on the back for maintaining a meaningless and unscriptural tradition that they called “Reformed,” who am I to stop them?  The question is; why are so many schooled in the traditional seminary infused tri-fold definition of saving faith so completely unable to correctly draw out from Wilson and the other Federal Visionists their transparent Romanish deception (Mr. Batzig excepted)?  Could it be that these adherents to this well-worn traditional definition are simply blinded due to their own fiducial cup that remains forever empty and can’t see it being filled by clever con-men like Doug Wilson?  It would seem so, and, sadly, the joke is on them.

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115 Comments on “Fiducial Jokesters”

  1. Gus Gianello Says:

    The 4 depts. of philosophy in order of importance are: epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and politics. If you believe in salvation by a change of your essential nature (metaphysics) you are a mystic. Absorption in the Godhead is your thing. If you believe in salvation by politics. Absorption in the state is your thing? Anybody for universal healthcare? If you believe in salvation by law, you are a legalist. Works-righteousness is your thing. Talmud anyone? If you believe in salvation by knowledge then you are a Christian. Then the Bible is your thing.

    The tri-fold definition of faith has driven most people into the “Wonderland” that Alice only visited–but they live there. In other words they speak “religious” nonsense, and assume that because its religious, its not nonsense. Piper speaks nonsense, Sproul speaks nonsense, even Robert Reymond (who is exceptional) speaks nonsense.

    So when you call “nice” guys like Wilson heretics people take offense because they cant see behind the nonsense, to see that it is an agenda. To put it another way its a conspiracy to forward a unified and coherent world-view.

    About Hitler, all people see is his nonsense–atrocities such as Dauchau, etc. But study Hitler and you see the first European nation that banned smoking and gun ownership, promoted environmentalism, institutionalized patriotism and the view that the State must interpose itself between children and parents. People dont understand that the dark side of Hitler’s universal daycare was euthanasia, the dark side of Hitler’s environmentalism was concentration camps, etc. In other words his “nonsense” made complete sense to him. Other people thought he was kidding–he knew he meant it.

    Wilson, FV and NPP mean it–they are not kidding. Of course they are expanding into Europe. They have a coherent (to them) worldview. Traditional Reformed people are NOT coherent. Therefore their epistemological schizophrenia will always weaken them so that they cannot oppose FV.

    Sean, they CANT see it. That one man could see it, temporarily only proves it. ( The exception that proves the point). Even the blind can have their sight temporarily restored. But, will it result in action? Will his “mere” assent to the gospel cause him to re-assess his ecclesiastical ties? I doubt it. My faith in my fellow Christians has been tempered by over twenty-five years of seeing them embrace EVERY error that comes down the road. You wont receive me, Jesus said, but if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.

    As Scripturalists I think we only have one choice, to accept the fact that this is an age of apostasy, and that the vast majority of professing (visible) Christians are probably not going to heaven. We can only question whether the depth of apostasy is so deep that we can afford to expose our family to the local “Reformed” church in our area. We are like the former Roman Catholics at the Reformation, we say to ourselves, “well, my Roman congregation and my priest arent THAT bad; its his that’s really bad. I can hold to justification by faith alone in private and go to mass on Sunday. We should all read “Against the Nicolaitanes” by Calvin.

    God Bless.

    Gus

  2. Cliffton Says:

    Concerning Scott Clark, responding to some of my statements on his blog regarding the relationship of the theory of analogical knowledge to the FV, he actually claims that Gordon Clark has been the one who has underminded the Reformed faith by denying the “Creator/creature” distinction. Apparently Scott believes that those who claim that they can actually have knowledge of the truth, by implication undermine the Reformed faith. Scott claims that it is this type of rationalism that leads individuals to the FV and the Roman Catholic Church/State.

  3. Sean Gerety Says:

    Scott Clark has a very peculiar if not truncated understanding of Reformed tradition. He is without question on the wrong side of the watershed the occurred in the ’40’s with the Clark/Van Til controversy and seems to view all of Reformed history from that distorted lens.

    On the plus side, Clark is without question one of the more consistent opponents of the Federal Vision, considerably more than most other Vantilians who are generally powerless to even discern the Christ denying nature of the FV. However, given that he holds to a contradictory view of Scripture on any number of doctrines from the so-called “Well Meant Offer” to God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, I would be curious to see how he could possibly argue that Clark’s non-contradictory biblical philosophy leads to the FV and Romanism, when both the FV and Romanism — not to mention neo-orthodoxy — are merely extensions of the Vantilian view of truth and Scripture. After all, the FV is a tangle of ambiguously defined contradictory doctrines and virtually all its adherents and defenders are Vantilians to one degree or another. John Frame argued years ago that Van Til’s doctrine of biblical contradiction extends to the doctrine of justification, so I would think the FV is merely the next logical step in Van Til’s un-biblical Creator/creature distinction. I mean, Scripture does seem to teach in places both justification by faith alone and justification by faith and works. Sounds to me like just another Vantilian “paradox” that men must bow to in another act of intellectual suicide parading as Christian piety. On what epistemological basis can any Vantilian rightly oppose just one more biblical paradox? I asked Clark that question recently, he either couldn’t or wouldn’t say, but he did refer me to another of his books.

    Do you have a link to where Clark blames GHG for the FV? I’m curious if he actually argues the point or just asserts it, which seems to be his habit. That way when someone challenges him he just refers them to some book he’s either edited or written. You’d think by now he could just cut and paste the relevant arguments so that we might judge for ourselves without having to wade through another lame defense of Van Til’s dialectical and self-refuting theology.

  4. Cliffton Says:

    The title of the post is “we may not be able to move on yet.”. Sorry, I don’t have the link for you (I am on a phone and my technological capabilities are rather deficient). And yes, he just asserts his “argument.” And yes, he has referred me to an essay or book of his…twice.

  5. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Cliffton. Got around to reading his remarks and they’re ridiculous. Scott Clark writes:

    There are many things in Reformed theology thay[sic] are not expressed explicitly in the Creeds and confessions. They do imply analogical knowledge, however.

    Another assertion without an argument. Why can’t Clark take 2 minutes and provide the argument from the Confession proving that the Confession writers of either the 3 Forms or the WCF believed that God’s knowledge and that possible for man do not coincide at any point? Perhaps because it’s not implied in the Confessions at all. Utter rubbish.

    One thing taught explicitly by the confessions and denied explicitly by G. Clark is the 3 aspects of justifying faith.

    More rubbish. And, again, where’s the argument? I can only assume since other Vantilians reading the Confession with the same glasses that are distorting Scott Clark’s vision, will often refer to WLC 72 that that is what he has in mind. So let’s take a look…

    WLC 72 What is justifying faith?

    Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receives and rests upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

    Of course, the above says nothing at all about any “3 aspects of justifying faith.” Vantilians and others will try and draw a distinction between assenting to the promise of the gospel with receiving and resting upon Christ as they try and cram their 3 fold definition into a square hole.

    John Robbins dispelled this myth in his reply to Alan Strange over the same question and it should suffice as an answer to Scott Clark as well:

    Question 72 does indeed have a contrast in mind, but it is not contrasting assent with “receiving and resting,” as Dr. Strange mistakenly supposes. There are two reasons Dr. Strange’s contrast cannot be correct.

    First, “receiving and resting” are figures of speech, and “assenting” is literal language. “Receiving and resting” mean “assenting.” Dr. Strange has made the common theological error of taking a figure of speech as literal. Incidentally, that is why he fails to offer any definition of “receiving and resting” that differentiates them from assent. In fact, they are not different, but metaphorical expressions of the literal word, “assent.”

    The second reason that Q. 72 is not contrasting “assenting” with “receiving and resting” is that the authors of the Westminster Standards have a different contrast in mind. Reading the Standards with subjectivist presuppositions, Dr. Strange supposes they are contrasting differing psychologies of faith (assent vs. receiving and resting), when they are actually contrasting the truths believed. Psychology was not on the minds of the Westminster Assembly, but making clear what truths had to be believed in order to be saved was. Dr. Strange forgets that the word “faith” has two distinct meanings, one objective and one subjective. The Standards are contrasting belief in the “promise of the Gospel,” that is, in the truth of eternal life, with belief in the “righteousness [of Christ] for pardon of sin, and the accepting and accounting of his person righteous.” They are making clear that the sinner must not only believe in (assent to) salvation from sin and eternal life (which they call the “promise of the Gospel”), but that he must also believe in (assent to) the imputed righteousness of Christ in order to be saved. Their concern is that the proper object of faith is believed, not that some undefined and nebulous mental state must be added to belief in order to make it efficacious. Their message is that belief in eternal life and pardon from sin is not saving faith, but to that must be added belief in Christ and his righteousness as the sole means of obtaining eternal life.

    An Answer to Alan Strange

    The distinction Clark asserts is one that exists only in his mind and evidently that of Alan Strange. Frankly, since they’ve failed to demonstrate that the WCF advances their definition, I’d love to see one of these defenders of the “3 aspects of justifying faith” deduce these aspects from Scripture. The things you can get away with when you abandon the law of contradiction and can convince others to bow in submission to paradox and nonsense while getting them to believe it’s just another example of the “Creator/creature distinction.”

    OTOH, Clark’s post from a year ago in which you discuss his silly Vantillian presuppositions is actually quite good. I particularly liked this concerning the ongoing ministerial apathy concerning the continued spread of the FV/NPP:

    Yes, there are issues on which we ought to be tolerant because they do not affect the substance of what it is to be Reformed, but the nature of the gospel and the nature of faith in the act of justification, a redefinition of election, justification, and the sacraments these things are surely of the essence (substance) of what it is to be Reformed. These things are of the essence of our faith and confession. When we ministers took vows before God and the church we promised fidelity to these things and to see to the order and faith of the churches. In other words, with all the pressing daily business of ministry, seeing to the truth of the gospel in the broader or higher assemblies is also a part of our vocation.

    This isn’t a purely theoretical issue. Our congregations are full of people who depending upon us to defend and protect them, to tell them the truth, to love them, in short, to serve them as shepherds. God give us grace to fulfill our vocation in the Kingdom of God.

    I wish more TEs and REs thought like Clark, despite his adherence to Van Til’s failed philosophy.

  6. Lauren Kuo Says:

    Sean, there are those of us such as yourself, who like the lone little boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes have spoken out the truth regarding the Federal Vision. What is true about the Federal Vision is an embarrassment to the PCA. The PCA leadership knows that the Federal Vision is heresy, but to treat it as such would require a major overhaul of the denomination. It would not be politically expedient for them to do anything now because it is too late. The yeast of the Federal Vision has putrified the entire denomination.

    Those of us who dared to call a spade a spade are viewed as troublemakers. At one time our former pastor and OVP stated clerk advised us to seek out another position in two of the Federal Vision-free zones – the Mississippi Valley Presbytery or Dr. Aquila’s Rocky Mtn. Presbytery. He even offered to buy our house! That’s how desperate he was to get rid of us! Corrupt political agendas that undermine the primary doctrine of justification by faith alone have put the PCA on the fast track to Rome.

  7. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Clifton,
    “Concerning Scott Clark, responding to some of my statements on his blog regarding the relationship of the theory of analogical knowledge to the FV, he actually claims that Gordon Clark has been the one who has underminded the Reformed faith by denying the “Creator/creature” distinction. Apparently Scott believes that those who claim that they can actually have knowledge of the truth, by implication undermine the Reformed faith. Scott claims that it is this type of rationalism that leads individuals to the FV and the Roman Catholic Church/State.”
    Scott’s sentiments are the sort of display of confusion and gross incompetence that one has grown accustomed to and come to expect from certain quarters.
    Asserting that there are similarities or characteristics that a cat and dog share(such as four legs, hair, a tail, domestication and mutual contempt for each other) is not to deny the cat/dog distinction! The Bible says man is the image of God! Surely this is an assertion of similarity of sorts? It behoves us to seek out in what this similarity consists! To mindlessly harp on the “creature/creator” distinction and sweepingly and unthinkingly impose it on all areas without due consideration results not only in being unfaithful to holy writ, but in denying and contradicting the word of God!

    An analogy of the truth is NOT the truth. If all we can have is an analogy of the truth, then we never have the truth! As Sean has noted before, this is unrelenting scepticism! We can not even call van Tilian analogy, analogy, since we know not what it is an analogy of. A theory of analogy requires knowledge of the truth.

    We must insist with the Bible, “Ye shall know the truth and
    the truth shall set you free!”, not an analogy of it, and “verily(truely), verily(truely) I say unto you” and not “analogously, analogously I say unto you”.

    Denson

  8. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Lauren – Just FYI, Scott Clark citing the Aquila Report (I’ve added the Report to my blog rolls) notes that evidently another FV man was investigated, a TE Greg Lawrence, the pastor of Christ Church PCA by the Siouxlands Pres which in turn exonerated him.

    The story is a bit confusing, but I’m a bit perplexed if other pastors in the Pres thought he was FV why didn’t they just bring charges against the man? Instead, if I’m understanding things correctly, they asked for an investigation and the man was cleared by the Pres, now those asking for the investigation are contemplating bringing the matter to the GA. See The Aquila Report.

    But, isn’t the Siouxlands Pres Lane Keister’s pres?

  9. Lauren Kuo Says:

    Hi Sean’
    The decision of the SP once more reveals that the Federal Vision has a comfortable majority home in the PCA – this time right in Lane’s backyard! It also reveals the “on-the-fence” results of the PCA study report which states that an elder can be both a false teacher and a brother in Christ – a wolf that is to be regarded as a sheep! Pardon the pun, but I guess the report is coming back to bite them – couldn’t resist 🙂

    I understand that Green Baggins has invited you back into his “royal blogence”. Seems to me to be more of an invitation to the lions’ den or maybe a challenge to a duel of words? Will he treat you with kid gloves like he did with Doug Wilson? Or, perhaps like Herod towards John the Baptist, he wants your head on a platter for your criticism of him in your book.

    Going after a single pastor in the remote Siouxlands when there are whole packs of Federal Vision wolves called presbyteries in the Pacific Northwest and in the Ohio Valley seems to be a futile token attempt at orthodoxy. I guess every two years the PCA has to dust off the report to show they still care about sound doctrine. Their strategy? Flex your theological muscles and go after the little guys that nobody knows about, but don’t touch the big cheeses – that would disrupt the “unity and the peace” of the denomination.

    Keep up your biting but truthful critique, Sean. Be the burr in the PCA saddle – the thorn in their side. It’s good for them and if nothing else, it makes for a good show!

  10. Sean Gerety Says:

    The decision of the SP once more reveals that the Federal Vision has a comfortable majority home in the PCA – this time right in Lane’s backyard! It also reveals the “on-the-fence” results of the PCA study report which states that an elder can be both a false teacher and a brother in Christ – a wolf that is to be regarded as a sheep! Pardon the pun, but I guess the report is coming back to bite them – couldn’t resist 🙂

    Hi Lauren.

    That was a significant defect in the entire report since I simply cannot see how someone can deny JBFA and imputation, denials that the report made explicit and even named names, and still be a “brother in Christ”? I mean, if they were just holding out hope that some of the men cited in the report are Christians, they probably just should have not added that little bombshell.

    So, while I’m happy to see that the report is at least being used specifically by responsible elders like Brian Carpenter and Wes White to pursue suspected FV men within the Siouxlands Pres, I think without directly charging elders suspected of advancing the FV, we’re just going to see a repeat of the Wilkins case and one more FV pastor will make his way to the CREC as a “pastor in good standing.” I’d like to think GA precedent upholding a heresy conviction against even one FV/NPP man would open the door to more successful prosecutions. But I don’t think that will ever happen. I just think men in the PCA are more concerned with the illusion of peace, and, somewhat justifiably, don’t like the confrontation and the real personal costs required to actually stop the spread of these false gospels. I think most would rather pretend, like those in the OPC who actually have court precedent in favor of the FV as they overturned a heresy conviction against one of Norm Shepherds more notorious students, that everything is alright in the PCA.

    After all, they have a report.

    I understand that Green Baggins has invited you back into his “royal blogence”. Seems to me to be more of an invitation to the lions’ den or maybe a challenge to a duel of words? Will he treat you with kid gloves like he did with Doug Wilson? Or, perhaps like Herod towards John the Baptist, he wants your head on a platter for your criticism of him in your book.

    Kid gloves? You’ve got to be kidding. I’m a pariah in the minds of Lane’s supporters and that’s being nice. Don’t forget Pastor Gary Johnson, who is a moderator and contributor on the list, has publicly called me a “turd” and a “sewer rat,” and those were probably two of the nicer names he has for me — and that was even before I wrote the book.

    And, yes, I have been allowed a very limited hall pass on Lane’s blog. Lane had asked me to send him a free copy of my book and that is what I requested in return. I asked him to simply extend to me the same courtesy he extended to Wilson when he reviewed Reformed is Not Enough over the course of a year. I certainly have no illusions that I will be treated as well.

    Going after a single pastor in the remote Siouxlands when there are whole packs of Federal Vision wolves called presbyteries in the Pacific Northwest and in the Ohio Valley seems to be a futile token attempt at orthodoxy. I guess every two years the PCA has to dust off the report to show they still care about sound doctrine. Their strategy? Flex your theological muscles and go after the little guys that nobody knows about, but don’t touch the big cheeses – that would disrupt the “unity and the peace” of the denomination.

    I honestly don’t know how deeply the FV or NPP has penetrated throughout the Siouxlands pres, but I am very thankful that there are godly men like White and Carpenter willing to even stick their necks out even if they keep getting their faces slapped by the rest of their fellow Presbyters.

    Keep up your biting but truthful critique, Sean. Be the burr in the PCA saddle – the thorn in their side. It’s good for them and if nothing else, it makes for a good show!

    To be honest, the whole thing makes me very sad.

  11. Lauren Kuo Says:

    It is sad and I don’t mean to make light of it, but it does help to keep a little sense of humor to keep your sanity. You are right that defending the truth of the Gospel does come with great personal cost. We can speak from experience. But when you compare it to the cost that Christ paid on the cross, we have no word to say.

    Because the Federal Vision has established such a stronghold in the PCA, the personal cost is much greater. But it is worth the cost of a clear conscience before God and before our children. How can we look our children in the eye and tell them we believe in the Gospel but are not willing to pay the price to defend it – but we expect them to do it? That’s the worst kind of hypocrisy.

  12. Eric Says:

    “We can only question whether the depth of apostasy is so deep that we can afford to expose our family to the local “Reformed” church in our area.”

    Yes, there is a famine in the land and people console themselves with the name “Reformed,” or as the Israelites boasted, “The Temple! The Temple!”

    “To mindlessly harp on the “creature/creator” distinction and sweepingly and unthinkingly impose it on all areas without due consideration results not only in being unfaithful to holy writ, but in denying and contradicting the word of God!”

    And this man is teaching in a seminary. In denying the mind, or rather, the image of God, he might as well be a pentecostal, or, as Luther would say, “an enthusiast.” Clark is raising up whole generations of pastors hostile to the Clarkian–Biblical–view.

    “Those of us who dared to call a spade a spade are viewed as troublemakers. At one time our former pastor and OVP stated clerk advised us to seek out another position in two of the Federal Vision-free zones – the Mississippi Valley Presbytery or Dr. Aquila’s Rocky Mtn. Presbytery. He even offered to buy our house! That’s how desperate he was to get rid of us! Corrupt political agendas that undermine the primary doctrine of justification by faith alone have put the PCA on the fast track to Rome.”

    I can tell you from experience that the Rocky Mountain Presbytery is not free of its gospel deniers. And, they are just as zealous to remove ‘troublemakers’ as any other presbytery in the U.S.

    Just think, the hive of false teachers and elitist gospel deniers at WTS has NEVER been disciplined, or the anathema called down, by ANY Reformed or Presbyterian denomination or presbytery in the U.S. Does this sound like a church discipline issue to you?

  13. Lauren Kuo Says:

    Jesus teaches us that we enter the covenant of grace, not through our parents but through faith – through a second birth. Nicodemus, a religious Pharisee, was astounded by this revelation because his understanding was that you entered the covenant through your first birth by being born a physical descendent of Abraham.

    The Federal Vision holds the same view. They believe you enter the covenant of grace by being physically born into a covenant family. They still hold to the old wineskin. That is why it follows that they believe that faith and works are both necessary for justification. For they still live in the old wineskin of the covenant of works just as the Jews have done for thousands of years.

    The Scriptures are very clear “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness”. What is “it”? Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Abram’s descendants would be like the stars and would come not from just the Jews but from all peoples on the earth. And, who are those descendents? Those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and are credited with His righteousness – not their own – but Christ’s righteousness through faith alone.

    The Federal Vision, like Nicodemus and the Jews, limits itself to the visible church. Its proponents attempt to put new wine into old wineskins. The old wineskins of works cannot hold the new wine of justification by faith alone. They do not understand the need for a second birth – a spiritual rebirth. The need to be born again is not in their vocabulary. For them the symbol of baptism becomes the substance. The Lord’s Supper is tied to the physical Passover of the Old Testament. It is a theology that lives in the O.T. shadows that point to Christ instead of living in the spiritual reality of Christ. The invisible reality is saved for eschatological endtimes.

    To put it bluntly but simply, Federal Vision advocates are made up of a bunch of arrogant men who want to hijack the church and control people. Their behavior is cultish. They guard their territory. They are creepy and oppressive because they know nothing of grace that comes through faith alone.

  14. Lauren Kuo Says:

    And let me just add that Federal Vision proponents reject justification by faith alone because that truth usurps their power and puts Christ back as the head of the church. A truth that caused their fellow Pharisees to nail Him to a cross.

  15. Lauren Kuo Says:

    Sean – you vitriolic, uncharitable, Robbins-wanta-be! I am getting quite a chuckle from the comments on GB. One important step that Lane left out in accountability was to ask if his opinions were based on Scripture and to require his commenters to do the same. Oh- I forgot – you have to be an ordained man-approved elder to write with any authority.

  16. The Portuguese Pietist Says:

    On a side note, you know you are being strongly convicted by the Holy Spirit (in opposition to being accused by the Evil One) when you organise a meeting where all of your speakers – as well as yourself – must hide their faces.

    I remember watching a presentation video in Emergent Village that showed ’emergent’ leaders of several classical evangelical denominations hiding their faces from the camera when Doug Pagitt tried to film them. I find this parallel most useful.

    Both groups engage very often in word-masquing and semantics-masquerading. Only the FVs are still alive, though.

    Guess MacLaren and Pagitt should converse with Wilson, Jordan and Wilkins in order to find out how did they bring their act into the mainstream of the Evangelical stage.

  17. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m just wondering how on earth Keister is going to defend Wilson on JBFA? He did promise: “We’ll get to Wilson’s doctrine of JBFA, don’t worry.” OK, I’m not worried, just waiting.

    But, I think I already have a pretty good idea of what his defense will consist of. Evidently Keister believes that when Wilson openly contradicts JBFA or redefines faith to include obedience, this doesn’t really qualify as denial of JBFA, per se, rather it is just a case of Wilson being ambiguous. As Keister said, Wilson just isn’t as clear as he should be. Well, of course he’s not, neither is Norm Shepherd, John Kinnaird, Little Stevie Wilkins, Peter Leithart, Jeff Meyers, your own Bill Smith, and the rest of these schismatic dogs. That’s because none of these men actually believe in or teach JBFA except as they’ve redefined it.

    Yet, in the clouded Vantilian minds of men like Keister, it is somehow “charitable” to believe Gospel deniers like Wilson when they say they believe in JBFA and imputation. FWIW I suspect the Judaizers disrupting the churches in Galatia also affirmed JBFA and imputation. So what if they contradicted these truths elsewhere or that their system of doctrine necessarily implies a scheme of justification premised on a combination of faith + works? Men like Keister are trained to believe that both sides of any given contradiction not only may be, but in many cases, must be true.

    This is sick root of Vantilianism and is the connection between Van Til and the FV. These men have been trained, and trained well, not to let things like the law of contradiction get in the way of their analysis. That would be “rationalism.”

    Frankly, how hard would it be to pull the wool over the eyes of such men? After all, the bible does in places seem to teach both JBFA and justification by a combination of faith + works. Isn’t that what Christians and Roman Catholics have been squawking about for generations? Besides, just like the apologists for Rome, don’t all the FV love to reference James 2 or Galatians 5:6 in almost every discussion of justification?

    I know I sound like a broken record, but what is one more so-called biblical contradiction in the minds of these men even as it reshapes and distorts the heart of the gospel? And, just to be clear, I’m not saying that men like Keister don’t believe in the truth of the Gospel themselves, just that they are ill equipped to defend it as anyone can see in Keister’s public exoneration of Wilson on the vitals of the faith.

    As I told Keister in an email my use of him in my book was purely anecdotal. I don’t bear him any ill will, but his public dealings with Wilson simply exemplify the crippling and debilitating nature of Keister’s own underlying philosophy.

    And, as I explained to him once again in that same email, the connection between Van Til and the FV is simply this: no Vantilian has any epistemological ground to rightly oppose any of the FV men other than as the result of some fortuitous aberration to their own philosophy; what some might call a blessed inconsistency or perhaps just another in the list of “mystery of paradoxes.”

  18. Lauren Kuo Says:

    We first started reading the Trinity Review when we were right in the thick of the PCA-Federal Vision battle. I cannot tell you how refreshing and encouraging it was to finally find someone who was willing to so boldly defend the Gospel. The reason John Robbins is so criticized is because he was convicting for he understood from Scripture that the Word is a Sword – it pierces the heart. The truth is often painful but it always heals. Lies may seem charitable or bring comfort at the time, but in the end they kill.

    John Robbins understood that it is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie. He also understood that it is better to stand alone with the truth than to be wrong with a multitude. You are in good company, Sean.

    Do you notice that the commenters on GB attack the person of John Robbins and his demeanor, but they never attack his message?

  19. speigel Says:

    Sean, I went to check out the GB post that I’m assuming you and Lauren were talking about. I noticed that they dislike Robbins (a lot), while they like Wilson. It seemed the me that most of those commenting don’t care that someone is right if he’s also slightly rough around the edges. But, they also don’t care if he’s wrong so long as he’s a nice guy.

    Those comments were really sad (read as in pathetic). I hear the word “elitist” thrown around and I never really saw it anywhere until I read those comments.

  20. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Speigel. Let me recommend Imperious Presbyterianism by Kevin Reed if you haven’t read it already. Great little booklet that examines that very phenomenon and its reasons.

  21. Sean Gerety Says:

    Do you notice that the commenters on GB attack the person of John Robbins and his demeanor, but they never attack his message?

    Keister even compares Robbins to James Jordan.

    It would be one thing if these men could actually refute John’s arguments. They can’t, so they latch on to the next best thing.

    It’s like all the Vantilians who scream that John “slandered” Van Til in his booklet, The Man and the Myth. Actually, the only one I know of who actually tried to refute John’s arguments here was Wilson’s compatriot in irrationality, Doug Jones. Ironically, Jones actually helped make John’s case (hmm, I might use that in a future blog piece). 🙂

    I will say, in my own experience, I thought John might have crossed the line in his review of John Piper’s, Future Grace (see the Trinity Review, Piep Piper). That is, until I actually sat down and read Piper’s book. =8-o

  22. speigel Says:

    I think I have two copies of Reed’s book and thought it well written.

    Recently, on another site, GWL Johnson said that Robbins slandered Van Til. He said that two other people could verify that. I emailed both. Only one responded and he said he doesn’t remember it happening, though it could have.

    Coincidentally, Vincent Cheung has a new post, Slander and Discipline, that sort of deals with this kind of stuff.

  23. Sean Gerety Says:

    Yeah, I know about Johnson’s wild claims. He contends that John Robbins told him and two others that Van Til was a non-Christian. When I asked John about this, John denied it.

    Johnson also claims that Clark told him that Ned Stonehouse and not Van Til was “the man in the black hat” in the whole Clark controversy. Now what exactly “the man in the black hat” means, even if true, is hard to tell, but Johnson contends that Stonehouse is the one responsible for the complaint filed against Clark and that it was really the Clark/Stonehouse controversy.

    However, Johnson’s faded memories aside, even as late as Clark’s posthumously published Clark Speaks for the Grave, Clark said: “Cornelius Van Til . . . furnished the basic content of A Complaint.”

    Of course, when I pointed this out to Johnson his response to me was a bunch of name calling that would make a New York cab driver blush.

    As Dr. Robbins said in an email to me:

    “Johnson makes his unreliability clear by fabricating a quote about VT and attributing it to me. That should make the status of his “quotation” of Clark very clear too.”

  24. speigel Says:

    Good to hear Robbin’s response.

    I was actually referring to Johnson attributing Robbins in calling Van Til non-Christian. However, I’ve heard some Clarkians call Van Til (and others) a non-Christian.


  25. I have to admit I’m not well read in either Van Til or Clark. However, I noticed early on the similarity between Van Til and neo-orthodoxy. R.C. Sproul sells out to natural theology as a beginning point for apologetics, which is no better.

    I’m in the process of reading Clark on Saving Faith and the Atonement.

    Charlie

  26. Lauren Kuo Says:

    One thing about false teaching is that it eventually dies out. For it never produces the fruit of the Spirit and over time it starts to stink and loses its appeal. We have two PCA churches here in Louisville that are pretty much dead because of the Federal Vision. The members who really wanted to impact the community with the true gospel have all left both churches. One pastor is just hanging on until retirement and the other tenaciously holds down his fort because he knows that no other church would tolerate his bizarre cultish teachings and practices.

    Parasites like the false teaching of the Federal Vision eat away and ultimately destroy their host before dying out themselves. Sadly, that is the path that the PCA leadership has chosen to take. The time for arguing about which theologian is right or wrong is over. Instead, we should pray with confidence that God will protect His sheep and His sheep will hear His voice and follow Him. Let the PCA die as a denomination; God’s church will prevail with or without it.

  27. ray Says:

    something seems to be wrong with blogs … I sent a message to the GB blog , but see that no new messages have been updated since yesterday.

  28. Sean Gerety Says:

    He and the rest of his moderators probably have you blocked. They tend to like to keep things tilted in one direction.

  29. pat Says:

    “I will say, in my own experience, I thought John might have crossed the line in his review of John Piper’s, Future Grace (see the Trinity Review, Piep Piper). That is, until I actually sat down and read Piper’s book. =8-o”

    What do you make of Piper’s book “The Future of Justification?” Piper makes it clear he is against N.T.Wright and the NPP movement, if not the FV movement, even though he won’t make separation against the individuals involved or deem them heretics. His teaching seems clear Reformed theology on JBFA. It would seem to make Robbins’ remarks appear a little over the top. I haven’t read “Future Grace.” I don’t doubt that the statements and teachings are off the mark. But I have a hard time believing Piper is or was another type of FV advocate or a false teacher as the epithet “Pied Piper” suggests him to be.


  30. It seems to me that the link between Piper and Daniel Fuller explains the many departures Piper makes from covenant theology and his over-emphasis on sanctification, including the confusion of sanctification with “future justification.” This is the trouble with Reformed Baptists and charismatics as well. They are inconsistently covenantal.

    Charlie

  31. pat Says:

    Yes, Piper’s link with Daniel Fuller explains a lot. But I don’t think it’s a matter of being Baptist (Fuller’s errant theology has nothing to do with Baptism). Of course, I don’t think there is anything inconsistent with being Baptist and convenantal.


  32. Why is it not surprising that a Reformed Baptist would be caught up in the New Perspectives on Paul? Well, one reason might be that Spurgeon himself was unable to extricate himself completely from the appeal of Arminianism. Piper’s connection with Daniel Fuller’s emphasis on merits rather than justification by faith alone is the most obvious answer to his compromise. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and acts like a duck–it’s a duck.

    Piper’s other problem is his connection with the Arminianism inherent in the charismatic movement. The charismatics have an overt concern with antinomianism in general and this is usually translated into Arminianism in practice even when the minister is allegedly “reformed.” Wayne Grudem comes to mind here as well.

    Charlie

  33. lawyertheologian Says:

    Spurgeon, being Baptist, has nothing to do with his being hypo Calvinist. Again, I fail to see how one views baptism, whether believers and babies ought to be baptized, or believers only, causes one to be more or less Calvinistic in their thought.


  34. You are correct that specific and individual examples of departures from Reformed doctrine by certain Reformed Baptist ministers does not entail that most or all of them have done so. However, it does point to a tendency of that tradition.

    Unfortunately, those tendencies have infected neo-Calvinism at large and not just the RBs. I’m thinking of the PCA and OPC here. CRC has openly gone liberal, imo.

    Charlie

  35. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie, I think you may be seeing a tendency where there isn’t one. After all, there are far more paedobaptists associated with the NPP and FV.

    Would you at least agree that there is no inconsistency with being RB and being covenantal?

    BTW, Piper is in no way associated with the NPP. He is very much against it, at least with N.T Wright’s NPP.

  36. lawyertheologian Says:

    Sean, no comment?

    Not to speak bad of the dead, but it’s a serious thing to in essence call someone a false prophet.

    I have always found JR to be fair in his treatment of others. I wished he had dealt with Piper like he did with MacArthur. But I think he saw him too closely associated with neo legalists, and was a bit hasty in lumping him in with the rest. Also, I think in part he may have misunderstood Piper’s book and meaning of future grace. Not that it is accurate, but I think Piper was/is referring to favor from God for the sake of sanctification not salvation.


  37. There is a fine line between ignorance and knowing the truth and denying it. Both deny the truth but there is hope for those who do it in ignorance. I view MacArthur on the latter level. Piper is another question. He seems to know better but persists in pushing unbiblical views on justification in the future and emphasizing charismatic gifts which are unbiblical in practice and in fact lead people into false teaching.

    I think the idea that there is a “future justification” is wrong from the get go. I am as justified now as I ever will be. Justification is based on believing what Jesus said. It is by faith alone and nothing which conforms me or sanctifies me adds one whit to my justification here and now. When I die I can be absolutely sure based on what Jesus did, not on my own “faithfulness.” If that is so, no one has assurance and we can all just join up with Rome.

    Even Tommy Cranmer had the sense to know this:

    Now they that think they may come to justification by performance of the law, by their own deeds and merits, or by any other mean than is above rehearsed, they go from Christ, they renounce his grace: Evacuati estis a Christo, saith St. Paul, Gal. v., quicunque, in lege, judificamini, a gratia excidistis. They be not partakers of the justice, that he hath procured, or the merciful benefits that be given by him. For St. Paul saith a general rule for all them that will seek such by-paths to obtain justification; those, saith he, which will not knowledge the justness or righteousness which cometh by God, but go about to advance their own righteousness, shall never come to that righteousness which we have by God (Rom. 10:1-4); which is the righteousness of Christ: by whom only all the saints in heaven, and all other that have been saved, have been reputed righteous, and justified. So that to Christ our only Saviour and Redeemer, on whose righteousness both their and our justification doth depend, is to be transcribed all the glory thereof.

    Necessary Doctrine

    Charlie

  38. lawyertheologian Says:

    Piper doesn’t speak of future justification or justification in the future. His book “the future of justification” is not about either. It’s about the future of the doctrine of justification by faith alone in the Church. It’s a good book. I only wish he would have just come right out and say N.T. Wright’s view is heresy.

  39. lawyertheologian Says:

    Piper’s future grace is in fact not much different in essence from MacArthur’s view of discipleship, where he basically views every professed Christian as it were on probation until they perform enough good works to make their faith real. In fact, most of professed Christianity views sanctification as an outward manisfestation of one who is truly walking with God. They need to read Clark’s book on sanctification.

  40. qeqesha Says:

    Everybody,
    I agree with you that being of such and such distinctive, reformed baptist, PCA, OPC, even Anglican is not in itself necessarily an indication of one’s soundness or lack thereof of one’s beliefs. People must be judged by what they actually believe. Piper is a Reformed Baptist, so-called. Let it pass. What does Piper believe? Check this out and take note especially of SECTION 7! http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1985/1487_What_We_Believe_About_the_Five_Points_of_Calvinism/
    What you think!

    Denson


  41. [quote]Our experience is that clear knowledge of God from the Bible is the kindling that sustains the fires of affection for God. And probably the most crucial kind of knowledge is the knowledge of what God is like in salvation.[/quote]

    Looks like Piper is connecting “affections” or “emotions” with the intellect. Is this the proper way to do theology???

    Charlie

  42. lawyertheologian Says:

    Maybe not. Knowledge does kindle and sustain our affection for God.

  43. lawyertheologian Says:

    Denson,

    Section 7 sure seems to me to describe MacArthur’s and most evangelicals view. It’s not accurate, but I wouldn’t call it heresy or align it with FV.

  44. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Charlie J. Ray,
    Piper has a theory that he calls Christian Hedonism in which the main thing in life or our purpose in life is to have pleasure, satisfaction and enjoyment in God! The Bible seems to say the opposite; God created us for His pleasure. I suppose that is why his ministry has the name “desiring god” “Affection” perhaps ties up with his hedonistic theory? My understanding is that the purpose of knowledge of God is not to generate affections in the sense of feelings for God but rather to think like God. Conformity to God’s mind is about our minds thinking His thoughts after Him. The “flame” that is to be kindled in us is the light of the truth, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and unbelief and bringing in understanding and clear thinking.
    The Piper is a brewer of novel cocktails for itchy ears, pious sounding half truths, confusion(section 7 in my quote from my previous post) and down right poisonous nonsense!

    Denson

  45. qeqesha Says:

    Pat,
    Section 7 forms part of the FV(Doug Wilson) teaching about the saved that never make it because they did not fulfil certain conditions! The teaching of the Bible is that there is nothing we can do to be saved. Only God alone must save. It is only the merit of Christ imputed to a sinner freely by His mercy alone that any one will be saved. Any view such as Piper’s above strikes at the heart of the Gospel and brings the bad news of a conditional salvation dependent upon what we do! Our justification is at the heart of the Gospel and anything that twists or obscures that truth is Heresy!

    Denson

  46. lawyertheologian Says:

    Isn’t man’s chief end to know God? And isn’t there joy in knowing God? Is that not a matter of pleasure? Does not the knowledge of God make us passionate for Him, even if it is know Him further?

    Rather than being poisonous nonsense, his books “Desiring God” and “The Pleasures of God” I believe are right on the money. We Christian should be pleasure seeker; but the pleasures we seek are not physical, but mental/spiritual.

  47. lawyertheologian Says:

    All that section 7 indicates is that one who truly has faith has a changed life which evidences true faith. It is not FV’s fulfilling the condition of being sanctified in order to ultimately be saved, that is, welcomed into heaven. Rather,it is making faith more than a matter of belief, or assenting to propositions.

  48. qeqesha Says:

    Pat,
    Piper’s use of language is meant to deceive while giving the impression of orthodoxy. The chief end of man is God’s glory and pleasure, not our pleasure! Our pleasure logically follows His of course. God is not an item on our grocery least that we wish to indulge our palates on. He is sovereign and first and is the creator! It is therefore His pleasure that we are there to satisfy.

    Quoting from Piper, section 7: “The way we put together these crucial threads of biblical truth is by saying that we are indeed justified through our first act of faith but not without reference to all the subsequent acts of faith which give rise to the obedience that God demands.”

    This is very confused language. It is typical of Heretics and allows them to feign acknowledgement of the truth from one corner of their dirty mouths while denying the same truth out the other. Justification by which we are accepted before God is not dependent on what we do prior to or subsequent to justification.
    It is conditioned only on what Christ has done, all in the past! Piper’s phrase, “..but not without reference to all the subsequent acts of faith which give rise to the obedience that God demands” is vague. Of course, justification should lead to sanctification, so in that sense, “justification is not without reference to all the subsequent acts of faith…” Justification certainly has in view all things subsequent to justification. But that is NOT what Piper means. Piper means our final justification awaits “subsequent acts of faith which give rise to the obedience that God demands”. Piper means our justification is conditioned on “subsequent acts of faith which give rise to the obedience that God demands”. Piper means we are not really justified until we fulfill the condition of “subsequent acts of faith which give rise to the obedience that God demands”. This is anti biblical and heretical! Subsequent acts of faith which give rise to the obedience that God demands is called sanctification and sanctification is not a condition for or means to our justification. The thief on the cross only had a few hours of life subsequent to his confession of faith. Christ simply assured him of eternal life right there and there. There was no “subsequent acts of faith which give rise to the obedience that God demands” that the thief had to do in order to be finally justified.

    “It is not FV’s fulfilling the condition of being sanctified in order to ultimately be saved, that is, welcomed into heaven.”
    But that is precisely what Piper says!
    Quoting from Piper, section 6 Unconditional election: “We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life.” Piper calls faith in Christ a condition which we must meet in order to have final salvation. If faith is a condition, then it is a work that must be fulfilled by us and if it is a work then it no longer grace as Paul says! Eternal life becomes a payment for fulfilling the condition( the work) of faith in Christ! This is another gospel!

    You wrote: “Rather,it is making faith more than a matter of belief, or assenting to propositions.”
    Oh dear, oh dear! You are kidding right? Faith is precisely,”a matter of belief, or assenting to propositions”, ONLY. Acts of faith are not “more than” belief or assenting to propositions. They are a consequence of “belief or assenting to propositions”. Doing is not “more than mere belief”, but it is conforming to belief. Doing/Behaviour does not add anything “more” to belief, but is the belief itself being manifested! A house is not “more than” the building plans, it is a reflection of the plans. It is built in conformity to the plans, therefore it is not “more than” the plans.

    Piper is not a child, but an adult who pretends Christian ministry but apparently has never bothered to learn and understand what he ought to believe or preach to his hapless victims!

    And I am at a loss as to why you find confusion and such indefensible nonsense if not out right heretical half-truths acceptable!

    Denson

  49. lawyertheologian Says:

    Let’s not be judging Piper in his use of language. I don’t find in it anything deceptive. The chief end of man is “to glorify God and ENJOY HIM forever.” That latter part sure sounds like pleasure to me.

    “Piper means our final justification awaits “subsequent acts of faith which give rise to the obedience that God demands”. Piper means our justification is conditioned on “subsequent acts of faith which give rise to the obedience that God demands”. Piper means we are not really justified until we fulfill the condition of “subsequent acts of faith which give rise to the obedience that God demands”.”

    Denson, I don’t see that all. I think you’re reading into his comments. Piper does not advocate what you are attributing to him. Maybe if you read his book “The future of Justification” you”ll understand better where he is coming from. I know I did.

    I’m not advocating faith being more than assent to propositions. Read more carefully what I said. But those who do are not heretics. In fact, that view is the predominant one in all Reformed churches.

    But there is a big difference between thinking that real faith has non intellectual element to it, and thinking that the obedience that flows from faith is itself necessary as part of the basis of our justification. Again, Piper is merely affirming what all evangelicals affirm, that real faith includes sanctification, that is, a changed life.


  50. Pat, the fact of the matter is that Piper’s emphasis on the “affections” reveals him to put more emphasis on “experience” than on propositional truth. Also, it is clearly documented that he has a link to Daniel Fuller’s view of future justification. See Don Garlington’s article reviewing Piper’s book: http://johnharmstrong.typepad.com/john_h_armstrong_/2008/02/the-future-of-j.html

    Garlington is a Federal Visionist and John Armstrong is obviously in agreement with him. Also, John Frame wrote a scathing critique of Dr. Michael Horton’s book, Christless Christianity. Horton is no saint but the fact that Frame derides Horton’s critique of Evangelicalism shows that Frame is indeed a heretic.

    Make no mistake about it. These are not merely secondary issues. The very Gospel is at stake here. Piper’s charismatic emphasis is not only anti-intellectual but it opens him up to the legalism inherent in any idea of “future grace” or “future justification.”

    What we ought to be doing instead of drooling all over ourselves because of some silly popular preacher is to follow Scripture alone wherever it leads! Denominations and ministers may err and even go apostate. But Scripture and a healthy confessional statement of faith will lead you in the right direction.

    Charlie


  51. Pat, exactly what is this mysterious “non-intellectual” aspect of faith you speak of???

    If it is ineffable, then how is it “faith” since “faith” is believing in logical propositions and truth claims made by Scripture and by Jesus?

    Charlie


  52. qeqesha,

    I tend to agree. I came out of the charismatic movement years ago and I am very familiar with what emphasizing the affections can do to Christian truth and beliefs.

    I’ve been reading Gordon H. Clark and I’m finding myself moved to his point of view. I might change my apologetics to the presuppositional view held by Clark.

    John Frame is another compromiser of the Reformed faith/theology.

    Charlie

  53. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie, future grace is not future justification.

    Yes, sola Scripture, and leave personalities out of it. If the teaching is incorrect, simply point it out. If it is to the point of heresy, than the person teaching such is a heretic. But let’s be careful about heresy hunting and labelling men as heretics. Neither Frame nor Piper can be properly labelled heretics.

    The only aspect of non intellectual faith seems to be something to do with the emotions. At least that was what Dr. Robbins concluded concerning MacArthur’s non intellectual aspect of faith. Maybe current Reformers think of something different when setting forth a tri fold definition of faith.

  54. Cliffton Says:

    Indeed, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But that’s just it. Piper doesn’t understand what it is to “enjoy” God forever. He doesn’t understand what Christian joy is.

    Joy is either intellectual/propositional or it is not. If it is not, then “joy” has no cognitive value. Christian joy must be propositional and these propositions must be Scriptural. If the propositions are not Scriptural, they are by definiton not of the Truth and therefore false. This would be false joy, the joy (or as Pat put it, “pleasure”) of the world. Since the propositions are Scriptural then, the only way Christian joy can be defined is knowing the Truth.

    To “enjoy” God is not a reaction or a consequence of biblical faith, as Piper “desires”. Joy is thinking as God thinks. Christian joy is a sovereign unconditonal gift like every other aspect of the Christian’s salvation. This is something that Piper just don’t get.

  55. lawyertheologian Says:

    I don’t think it is correct to define joy as knowledge of the truth. For we are told to rejoice in the Lord, and rejoice in the truth. Joy IS the result, the Spirit prompted response to, knowledge of the truth. All feelings/emotions are prompted/triggered in some way by thought. Yes, we receive joy from God, but is not separate from the knowledge of the truth or the same as the knowledge. It is an emotion. And His Spirit moves us to desire the truth, that is, God, who is the truth.

    There is no such thing as false joy, only joy based on false premises or wrong reasons. Many rejoice for the wrong reason. “Rejoice not the Spirits are subject to you, but rejoice BECAUSE [for this reason, this truth, that you know] your names are written in heaven.”


  56. John Frame is a Van Tillian and emphasizes “lordship” salvation, etc. His recent review of Horton’s book makes him even more suspect. My inclination is that Frame is a heretic.

    Arminianism is indeed a secondary heresy. Some would argue it is a primary heresy.

  57. pat Says:

    Inclination?? Suspician maybe. But Frame, I think, has been very clear about his beliefs, though I hadn’t heard about his “Lordship salvation.” Is it similar to MacArthur’s view? Properly understood, MacArthur is/was correct about that. You can’t accept/believe Christ as savior without acknowledging Him as Lord.

    Yes, Arminianism is heresy, but I don’t know why you bring it up.

  58. pat Says:

    Charlie, I did not see a link to Fuller’s future justification. And clearly Piper is on the other side of the FV,NPP movement, even as you point to those critical of Piper’s treatment of N.T. Wright.


  59. Well, actually MacArthur was wrong on the Lordship salvation thing. You should read John Robbins’ article on Matthew 7:21-23. http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2009/10/justification-and-judgment-matthew-721.html

    Gordon H. Clark’s book, What Is Saving Faith? Pretty much blows that lordship idea out the window. If we are justified at the point we believe the Gospel, there is nothing we add to it. Good works are unnecessary for justification but they do follow naturally after being justified. The problem is good works are always imperfect and therefore can never be any part of our salvation at all. God requires perfect obedience, not imperfect works. In fact, our good works are only acceptable AFTER we come to faith. Good works before that point are not acceptable to God at all.

    Charlie

  60. qeqesha Says:

    Pat,
    “Let’s not be judging Piper in his use of language.”
    Yes we should! Clarity is part and parcel of communicating the truth. This is the trouble we have with Cornelius van Til’s writings which some people think they understand and one of his disciples, John Frame says, “I have listened to people who think they have understood van Til and they were dead wrong!” and I usually add, ” And may be Frame is dead wrong too”! Obfuscatory language does not belong to the truth, the word of God. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, ”
    1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, 2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

    “I don’t find in it anything deceptive. The chief end of man is “to glorify God and ENJOY HIM forever.” That latter part sure sounds like pleasure to me.” No! If I say I enjoy the use of Pat’s car, I mean I have the use of Pat’s car. It has nothing to do with indulging the senses. I can even say I had the pleasure to drive Pat’s car. This simple means I had the privilege of the use of Pat’s car. It does not necessarily imply that I had sensory titillation or an emotional experience! Enjoying God forever means having access to and being beneficiary to his gift of eternal life forever! Piper’s pleasure, desire and affections is mindless sensory titillation forever! In other words Piper wishes to enjoy God, a cold beer and pussy! It just is the pagan nonsense that it is!

    “Denson, I don’t see that all. I think you’re reading into his comments. Piper does not advocate what you are attributing to him. Maybe if you read his book “The future of Justification” you”ll understand better where he is coming from. I know I did.”

    This is what we hear all the time! “But you haven’t read his
    latest offering!” And it goes on and on! I have Piper’s “Future Grace”. In it he acknowledges his debt to Daniel Fuller and it goes down from there! It is the same obfuscatory, confusing language.
    Read section 6 again! And I quote: “We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life.” Am I reading this into Piper or did Piper put it in his website?

    “I’m not advocating faith being more than assent to propositions. Read more carefully what I said. But those who do are not heretics. In fact, that view is the predominant one in all Reformed churches.” Since when was truth established by counting noses? Within the FV, the predominant view is the FV!!! Wow!

    “But there is a big difference between thinking that real faith has non intellectual element to it, and thinking that the obedience that flows from faith is itself necessary as part of the basis of our justification.”
    Real faith has no non intellectual element to it! Real faith is totally intellectual. Faith is thinking(which is intellectual) with assent as Augustine put it! It is simply thinking that a proposition is true! It is by mere belief of the message of the gospel that we are counted righteous!

    It is Piper who says, “the obedience that flows from faith is itself necessary as part of the basis of our justification.” Read Section 6 and 7 again!

    “Again, Piper is merely affirming what all evangelicals affirm, that real faith includes sanctification, that is, a changed life.” Counting noses again!
    You are either just being dishonest or you are illiterate! Please read Piper’s section 6 and 7!!!
    Cats will catch and kill mice or rats, but this act is NOT part of the definition of a cat even if it is a characteristic of a cat. A cat is a cat even if it never catches a single rat all its life! The question is how is one justified, not, what is the characteristic of justified people or what follows justification. Piper is clearly discussing how we are justified and he is just confused and confusing!

    Denson

  61. ray kikkert Says:

    Faith is an unconditional gift of the Lord given to His elect alone. Lord’s Day 7 of the Heidelberg Catechism states that faith is first a “certain knowledge” and also ” an assured confidence which the Holy Ghost works by the Gospel in my heart”

    That assured confidence is based on the certain knowledge we find in the Gospel, the Word of God. If confidence is based on something that is contrary or contradicts the simple Word of God … it fails to be reality… and that confidence and trusting then … is vain and sinful.

    God’s Word, the Gospel, is not dependant on “our trusting” or “our confidence” … it stands as truth in spite of these. Let God be true and every man a liar. That is what man is by nature as totally depraved. Confidence and trust are just as much gifts of the Lord to His elect children as the gift of faith.

    It is when man rely’s in their strength, their willing, their running, their supposed obedience and good works, rather than the sovereign grace of the Lord in salvation and that alone … that the definition of faith becomes no faith at all, but a vain and carnal philosophy that has no power to save, but only to hold in bondage to sin… such a blinded individual.

    It is able to be spotted. If one in his discussion’s regarding faith, trust, confidence… busy’s himself in the idea’s of obedience and “their/my/his faithfulness” rather than defining faith as a gift and resting in the finished work of Christ and Him crucified and stating these instead … then mark such a one as blinded to the Gospel truth.

  62. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Let’s not be judging Piper in his use of language.”

    Denson, I was referring to your statement “Piper’s use of language is meant to deceive.” You don’t know that. You don’t know what is in his mind, what his motive is.

    All non physical pleasure has a thought behind it. And our emotions have thoughts behind them. Maybe you’re assuming pleasure must be physical. But taking pleasure in something and enjoying something means the same thing.

    ” ‘We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life.’ Am I reading this into Piper or did Piper put it in his website?”

    What’s wrong with it? Faith in Christ is what is necessary to inherit eternal life.

    Denson, I know what real faith is. That is not the issue. Unless you are claiming that mostly all the Reformed churches are heretics who believe in a tri fold definition of faith. Again, Piper’s and MacArthur’s view of faith and sanctification are off the mark, but they don’t amount to heresy.

    “It is Piper who says, “the obedience that flows from faith is itself necessary as part of the basis of our justification.””

    Again, he simply means that real faith has obedience flowing from it. He does not mean that obedience operates separately from faith to provide the basis of our justification. As you can tell from Garrison’s review of his book, “The future of justification” he clearly believes that the basis of our justification is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Piper is not at all confusing in that book. He is very clear, and his view is clearly the orthodox view of justification by faith alone.


  63. ” ‘We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life.’ Am I reading this into Piper or did Piper put it in his website?”

    What’s wrong with it? Faith in Christ is what is necessary to inherit eternal life.

    Faith is a gift unconditionally given to the elect only. Believing itself is a gift (Eph. 2:8-9). We are not justified by the one work of our own faith. Rather Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches that we are saved by grace “through” faith and even faith is a gift of God. In other words, we are justified by the instrument of faith but EVEN faith is a gift and NOT a work. The ability to believe is not given to mankind in general but only to the elect.

    Thus, even faith is not a condition but an instrument which is itself given by God “unconditionally.” Faith is instrumental in salvation and not conditional in salvation. This would imply that election is conditional to our response. However, the biblical teaching is that election is unconditional and in the ordo salutis faith follows regeneration.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie


  64. That should have been in quotes above.


  65. Technically speaking even sanctification is a gift and is imperfect. So sanctification has nothing in itself that would “merit” the forgiveness of sins.

    Philippians 2:11-13

  66. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie, no one is claiming that we are justified on account of faith. Faith is not what justifies, but Christ alone, the object of our faith.

    But many reformers,when speaking of faith as the instrument of justification, do speak of faith as meeting a condition. See especially Jonathon Edwards on this. I, for one, am for eternal justification.

    In any event, it is not heresy, though one may consider it error to view faith as a condition we meet “on our part” (Edwards).

  67. qeqesha Says:

    Pat,
    “Denson, I was referring to your statement “Piper’s use of language is meant to deceive.” You don’t know that. You don’t know what is in his mind, what his motive is.”
    The Bible calls heretics, “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. It calls them deceivers. It also says “ye shall know them by their fruit”. A good tree does not bear bad fruit, etc etc I do not know what more one needs to know about a heretic’s mind! A good intentioned hyena is a myth!

    “‘We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life.’

    What’s wrong with it? Faith in Christ is what is necessary to inherit eternal life.”

    Piper said, “We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life.” and you say “Faith in Christ is what is necessary to inherit eternal life.” You deliberately change Piper’s words to mask the clear and heretical implications of what Piper believes. Faith is NOT a “condition” for salvation! To say we are saved by faith in Christ means we are saved by what Christ has done.
    It is a gift from God, hence is NOT a condition we have to fulfil. As I said, a condition would be a work we do and hence salvation would be merited if it was conditioned on what we do! Salvation is the sovereign work of God in regenerating a sinner and causing them to believe the Gospel! In none of this do we fulfil any “condition”.

    “Denson, I know what real faith is. That is not the issue. ”
    No you don’t! You just agreed with Piper who calls it a “condition for salvation”, which it is not! And YES it is the issue!

    “Unless you are claiming that mostly all the Reformed churches are heretics who believe in a tri fold definition of faith.”
    I am not claiming anything about “reformed churches” since I hardly know what they believe. We are discussing the views of a baptist called Piper.
    “Again, Piper’s and MacArthur’s view of faith and sanctification are off the mark, but they don’t amount to heresy.”
    You simply say his views are off the mark, and you do not even provide any quotes and your reasons for saying they are off the mark!!

    “It is Piper who says, “the obedience that flows from faith is itself necessary as part of the basis of our justification.””

    Again, he simply means that real faith has obedience flowing from it. He does not mean that obedience operates separately from faith to provide the basis of our justification.”

    Really? Lets see:
    Quoting Piper in section 7 Perseverance of the Saints

    “But we mean more than this by the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. We mean that the saints will and must persevere in the obedience which comes from faith.”
    Did you hear that? Perseverance is in the obedience which comes from faith! It is not simply God preserving the elect in believing the word until the end without any reference to what they do or have done. Perseverance according to Piper is “the obedience which comes from faith”.
    Quoting Piper:
    “Election is unconditional, but glorification is not. There are many warnings in Scripture that those who do not hold fast to Christ can be lost in the end.”
    See what I mean? How can one be elect and then be lost in the end? Then election is meaningless! Piper has changed the meaning of election and perseverance into an oxymoron! Piper uses orthodox terms to talk nonsense. And you agree with this nonsense!
    “As you can tell from Garrison’s review of his book, “The future of justification” he clearly believes that the basis of our justification is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.” But I have just quoted to you that Piper believes that this imputation does not necessarily lead to salvation but one may be lost in the end!

    ” Piper is not at all confusing in that book. He is very clear, and his view is clearly the orthodox view of justification by faith alone.”
    NO! Piper uses orthodox terms in that book, but they have unorthodox meaning which he explains clearly elsewhere as on the website quotations I have provided and in his “Future Grace”.

    Further, what then did you mean by,”Again, Piper’s and MacArthur’s view of faith and sanctification are off the mark, …”, if you are now glowing with approval?

    Denson

  68. Cliffton Says:

    Just so everyone knows who they are dealing with, Pat/lawyer theologian belongs to a church which is pastored by Dr. David A. Booth. Dr. David A. Booth is one of the signers of the “Presbyterians and Presbyterians Together” document. This document is a call to “charitable theological discourse” all centered around the Federal Vision heresy. This might bring to mind the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document, but maybe that’s a stretch…or is it? Take a look at some of the winners who signed the document. I’ll just mention a few.

    John Armsrong, David L. Bahnsen, Randy Booth, Garrett Craw, John Frame, S. Joel Garver, Peter Leithart, Samuel Logan, Andrew Sandlin, Gregg Strawbridge, etc…

    Certainly you can understand the difficulty Pat/lawyer theologian is having here. Understand yes, excuse no!

  69. Sean Gerety Says:

    Faith is NOT a “condition” for salvation!

    Hi Denson. I don’t have time to get embroiled in anything right now, but just wondering how you would understand Answer (WLC 32)

    How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?

    The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provides and offers to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promises and gives his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he has appointed them to salvation.

    I guess the question could be rephrased and can someone be saved apart from faith? I don’t think you would say that. FWIW I think the crucial question is how does Piper define faith? Does it include obedience or works? Sometimes it does seem that he does, other times not so much.

    But long and short, Piper is a very confused man. And, while I thought Robbins might have gone too far in his review of Piper’s book, that was until I actually sat down and plowed through Future Grace. Really horrific stuff and explains why Piper says that neither Wilson or Wright teach a false gospel and actually invited Wilson to speak at his DG conference. I think people should avoid John Piper.


  70. Say no mo. I won’t be wasting my time going in circles with Pat now that I know his church has compromised with the FV.

    Charlie

  71. lawyertheologian Says:

    “The Bible calls heretics, “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. It calls them deceivers. It also says “ye shall know them by their fruit”. A good tree does not bear bad fruit, etc etc I do not know what more one needs to know about a heretic’s mind! A good intentioned hyena is a myth”

    But you haven’t shown that Piper is a heretic. And certainly not by any bad fruit. Instead,you were judging his motive, as if you could see into his mind.

    “Piper said, “We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life.” and you say “Faith in Christ is what is necessary to inherit eternal life.” You deliberately change Piper’s words to mask the clear and heretical implications of what Piper believes.”

    That is what Piper’s words mean. A condition is what is necessary.

    “Denson, I know what real faith is. That is not the issue. ”
    No you don’t! You just agreed with Piper who calls it a “condition for salvation”, which it is not! And YES it is the issue!

    Denson, will you calm down already,and quit flying off the handle. Faith is a condition for salvation, though I don’t believe it is a condition for justification. But again, probably most Reformers believe that is, that is the nature of being the instrumental cause of justification. Thus, it is not the issue as regards Piper’s supposed link to FV. For this is hardly heresy. It is pretty much the historical Reformed teaching on justification by faith alone.

    “We mean that the saints WILL and must persevere in the obedience which comes from faith.” My emphasis added.

    What do you find wrong with this. This is the properly expressed doctrine of the perseverence of the saints.

    “Election is unconditional, but glorification is not. There are many warnings in Scripture that those who do not hold fast to Christ can be lost in the end.”
    See what I mean? How can one be elect and then be lost in the end?”

    He didn’t say the elect can be lost in the end. You need to start reading better and stop jumping to your conclusions. Those who don’t hold fast to Christ are not elect and are not true believers.

    “But I have just quoted to you that Piper believes that this imputation does not necessarily lead to salvation but one may be lost in the end!”

    No, he didn’t say that at all. One’s claim to faith is what is at issue. If one doesn’t endure, then one’s claim to faith is false.

    “NO! Piper uses orthodox terms in that book, but they have unorthodox meaning…”

    You haven’t shown that at all. His meaning is clear in the context of the book. You don’t need another book to explain his language. Again, I’ve read it, and it is very clear.

    “Further, what then did you mean by,”Again, Piper’s and MacArthur’s view of faith and sanctification are off the mark, …”, if you are now glowing with approval?”

    I’ve never been “glowing with approval.” From the outset, I said I didn’t believe his and MacArthur’s view was correct and yet I wouldn’t call it heretical.

  72. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Say no mo. I won’t be wasting my time going in circles with Pat now that I know his church has compromised with the FV.”

    Charlie

    What a bunch of nonsense, guilt by association. Neither myself, David Booth, my congregation, or Presbytery has compromised with the FV. And the OPC has at least made it clear that they are not in agreement with FV.

  73. lawyertheologian Says:

    “FWIW I think the crucial question is how does Piper define faith? Does it include obedience or works? Sometimes it does seem that he does, other times not so much.”

    Yes, but that is hardly a matter of heresy.

    But long and short, Piper is a very confused man. And, while I thought Robbins might have gone too far in his review of Piper’s book, that was until I actually sat down and plowed through Future Grace. Really horrific stuff and explains why Piper says that neither Wilson or Wright teach a false gospel and actually invited Wilson to speak at his DG conference. I think people should avoid John Piper.

    I would for the most part agree. MacArthur is confused also and I think Robbins should have simply made that same statement about Piper as he did about MacArthur.

    But to call Piper a heretic, or even worse, a false teacher, is clearly going over the line.

  74. Pat Says:

    I’ve looked at “Presbyterians and Presbyterians together” and I find nothing objectionable in it. And the fact that several FV’ers signed it doesn’t make it about FV. Quite a host of OPC and PCA Elders and Ministers signed it. Nor we should be put off by the phrase “charitable theological discourse” as if that somehow must mean tolerating error.

    BTW, even if one is involved in toleration of error (as I believe Piper is), that doesn’t mean we should have nothing to with that individual or attribute to them the same errors. J.I. Packer appears to accomodate Catholics and their teachings, but that doesn’t mean we should no longer think of Packer as Reformed, or fail to accept anything he says because of that.

  75. Pat Says:

    ‘Well, actually MacArthur was wrong on the Lordship salvation thing. You should read John Robbins’ article on Matthew 7:21-23.”

    I have. And it is not that MacArthur was wrong, but that he was right for the wrong reason: those who advocate accepting Christ simply as savior were proclaiming a false gospel, and not a matter of misunderstanding faith.


  76. Pat, you might want to read Gordon H. Clark’s book, What Is Saving Faith?. It’s a real eye opener.

    The false gospel is that anything we do contributes anything at all to our justification or salvation. Is there any other way to be saved other than accepting what Jesus says about justification and salvation? (John 12:47-48). There is no other way to accept Jesus except as your Savior. “Simply as savior…” implies that you are adding something to what Jesus accomplished in living a perfect life and dying on the cross for the sins of His elect.

    Sanctification is always imperfect and therefore cannot in any way contribute to your justification. Period. Either Jesus did it all, paid it all and imputes it all to you by means of faith OR you earn or merit you way on the basis of your infused sanctification. Justification is imputed and sanctification is inherent. Only at death is anyone “perfect” and that is only because now the saint is dead and cannot sin anymore.

    MacArthur’s teaching on this point is poison.

    Charlie


  77. While we might utilize Packer’s writings, it does not mean Packer is always a good source. You might want to read what David Engelsma had to say about Packer’s view of assurance of salvation in the April 2009 edition of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal.

    Imo, Packer is helping lead people to hell by joining in league with pelagian Anglo-Catholics. He compromises his own theology to join with them and he compromises his character by joining with them. This is not to be taken lightly.

    Charlie

  78. pat Says:

    Charlie, I’ve read “What is Saving Faith” and pretty much every other book Clark wrote.

    “There is no other way to accept Jesus except as your Savior. “Simply as savior…” implies that you are adding something to what Jesus accomplished in living a perfect life and dying on the cross for the sins of His elect.”

    Yes, and this is what MacArthur opposed. Again, since you don’t seem to be familiar with it, there were those who were claiming one can believe the gospel, accept Jesus as savior, and NOT have a changed life as a result. MacArthur’s claim was simply that Jesus is more than a savior, He is Lord, our Lord. Thus, we do what He says, we follow Him, we are his disciples, we deny mother, father, brother, sister, if that is what it takes, to follow and obey Jesus. No, we are not saved because we follow and obey Jesus, but if we truly believe the gospel, the true gospel, we will do so. MacArthur’s error, again, is not in this claim, but in thinking that faith is more than intellectual assent, that one can believe, that is assent to, the right things (the gospel), and still not be saved. For him, true faith cannot be manifested/indicated by a clear, articulate and credible confession of belief/assent to the propositions of the gospel, but can only be manifested in/by a changed life.

    Again, if by Lordship salvation is meant that we must believe in Jesus as Lord, then clearly that is true. For the gospel includes confessing Jesus as Lord. Rom.10:9

  79. pat Says:

    “While we might utilize Packer’s writings,”

    That is all I have been arguing for: that we call things correctly, and not go too far in our criticism/condemnation of person’s teachings or practices.

    We need to avoid an all or nothing approach, and deal fairly and accurately with all things.


  80. Sorry, Pat, but you are dead wrong. FAITH alone saves. Any emphasis on “Lordship” salvation is wrong precisely because NO ONE obeys ENOUGH to be justified on this BASIS. If you sin AT ALL, then Lordship salvation is a lie. No one is arguing that there are not good works which follow justification. But the degree or level of sanctification is irrelevant to whether or not one is saved as long as there is a true believing in what Jesus did for us. Sanctification is merely a fruit or a testimony to others of a change of mind or repentance. It does not mean that some are more holy than others just that some are more mature than others. Everyone is on level ground at the cross. There are no super saints or carnal Christians. You are either a believer or you are an unbeliever.

    Luke 17:7-10

    Charlie

  81. pat Says:

    Charlie, what the heck is the matter with you! Why are you being so obtuse! Lordship salvation is not claiming that one has to obey enough in order to be saved/justified. Rather, it is that one has to believe that Christ is Lord, your Lord, that any claim to believe or accept Christ as savior is bogus if not accompanied by a changed sanctified life. And yes, there are those who would argue that good works are not necessary as following justification, that one can truly believe the gospel and live like the devil, to go on sinning as if Christ’s death has no effect in one’s life. That is precisely what John MacArthur and the idea of Lordship salvation attacks.


  82. Good works are not necessary for justification. Why? Because good works are not the reason you are accepted by God. Good works before conversion, during conversion, and after conversion contribute absolutely NOTHING to salvation. Sanctification in this life is imperfect, up and down, and maybe even disappears for a time in the elect. Sanctification is a “fruit” that follows justification through faith alone. What we need are less “fruit” inspectors and more preachers of grace! The flaw in “Lordship” preaching is that it is an incipient legalism and arminianism. It’s a way of saying, “I’m more holy than you are.” This is a lie from hell. If you are saved, it is of sheer grace and not because you proclaim yourself holy through “Lordship salvation.”

    This does not mean we are free to sin all we want or that we have a license to sin. What it does mean, however, is that Christian can have assurance immediately at the point of believing in Jesus Christ and there need to be no doubt whatsoever after that point EVEN if there is a struggle in the process of being sanctified. Some progress more than others but the bottom line is ALL receive the SAME reward and none is more saved than another. (Luke 17:7-10; Matthew 20:1-16). Sanctification is a witness to man not to God.

    The Pharisees LOVE to boast about how they have made Jesus LORD. The last time I checked Jesus is Lord whether you acknowledge it or not. The contrast between a person trusting in Christ alone to save them and trusting in their own good works is the contrast between the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:10-14); between those who trust in their own works (Matthew 7:21-23; Matthew 25:41-46) and those who do good works expecting nothing in return (Matthew 25:31-40).

    There is no room for boasting about “Lordship” since all are sinners and are saved by sheer mercy and sheer grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 9:15; 18-20).

    Faith/believing/mental assent is all that is necessary to be assured of salvation.

    21. Q. What is true faith?
    A. True faith is not only a sure knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his Word, but also a firm confidence which the Holy Spirit works in my heart by the gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

    Heidelberg Catechism

  83. Sean Gerety Says:

    Not exactly sure how things turned into the Lordship controversy, but Charlie perhaps you should google it. As I understand it, and I really never followed it, the idea is that one could accept Jesus as “savior,” but not as “Lord.” I’m not really sure of the origins, but if I recall it was some odd dispensational teaching I guess as a way to explain why their so-called “evangelism” made no difference in the lives of those who prayed a prayer and who claimed to have let “Jeeezzzus” into their hearts.

    The idea is that one can be a “carnal” Christian, indulge in whatever sinful behavior they chose, and yet could still be assured that they are saved, even if just. Besides being rooted in Arminanism and thoroughly antinomian, the idea that one could accept only half a Jesus is by itself bizarre.

    On a different note, I’m more concerned about what Pat said above: “I’ve looked at “Presbyterians and Presbyterians together” and I find nothing objectionable in it.”

    You can read it here:

    http://www.joelgarver.com/ppt/home.html

    The first thing to note is that it has been advance, if not authored, by one of the leading proponents of the Federal Vision, Joel Garver. It provides another excellent example of why heretics win battles and is a concerted effort to mollify opposition against those advancing the false gospel of the FV. There is plenty wrong with Pres and Pres Together for it attempts to claim peace where there is no peace.

  84. pat Says:

    “The flaw in “Lordship” preaching is that it is an incipient legalism and arminianism. It’s a way of saying, “I’m more holy than you are.” This is a lie from hell. If you are saved, it is of sheer grace and not because you proclaim yourself holy through “Lordship salvation.””

    Where the heck are you getting this from? Have you actually read anything on Lordship salvation? BTW, it wasn’t MacArthur who coined the phrase, but those against the idea, those who considered a changed life not necessary to faith. I think we need to distinguish Lordship salvation from the form of Lordship salvation that MacArthur taught/teaches.

    “The Pharisees “LOVE to boast about how they have made Jesus LORD.”

    Are you for real? The Pharisees were dogmatic in not accepting Jesus’ claim to be LORD. They wanted Him stoned for making such a blasphemous claim.

    “The contrast between a person trusting in Christ alone to save them and trusting in their own good works is the contrast between the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:10-14); between those who trust in their own works (Matthew 7:21-23; Matthew 25:41-46) and those who do good works expecting nothing in return (Matthew 25:31-40).”

    For the umpteenth time, no one is contesting this. Good works, even according to MacArthur’s Lordship salvation, has nothing to with saving anyone. They simply evidence that the person has true faith. The book of James teaches this.

    “There is no room for boasting about “Lordship” since all are sinners and are saved by sheer mercy and sheer grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 9:15; 18-20).”

    Again, who the heck is boasting about Lordship?

    “What it does mean, however, is that Christian can have assurance immediately at the point of believing in Jesus Christ and there need to be no doubt whatsoever after that point EVEN if there is a struggle in the process of being sanctified.”

    Yes, that it is true. But if one shows no evidence of a changed sanctified life, one should doubt the reality of his faith.

    “Faith/believing/mental assent is all that is necessary to be assured of salvation.”

    Yes, and MacArthur’s teaching doesn’t necessarily deny this. Rather, in accepting ANOTHER person’s claim to faith, it tends to look more at a person’s conduct than at the content of the person’s belief.

  85. pat Says:

    Sean, where in the article does it claim peace where there is no peace?

    And it doesn’t matter who advanced or authored it, though it would give me pause as to what others might think if I signed it.

  86. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Sean, Pat,
    If we describe faith as a “condition for salvation”, it would imply that a sinner is capable of doing something “before” being saved, which God rewards with salvation. This is my basis for objecting to Piper’s language. Faith is a saving grace that a sinner does not and cannot have “before” being saved(regenerated). In other words, faith itself is part of, flows from and is by reason of the work of Christ of salvation. If not, then there is one thing that Christ did not purchase for the sinner at Calvary, and that is faith! The result is Armenianism all over again.

    Denson

  87. Sean Gerety Says:

    Pat, it does matter very much who is advancing it and who authored it. Are you really that naive?

    Like the PCA report that identified those who deny JFBA and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness “brothers,” the Garver whitewash and phony call to “charity” that your pastor signed rings a similar note. Those who would, like Mr. Garver, deny the central truths of the Christian faith deserve no charity and are certainly not anyone’s “brother in Christ.”

    Get a grip Pat.


  88. Pat, “a changed life” is NOT necessary to salvation. What IS necessary is regeneration, believing the gospel and what Jesus said. The “result” of true faith/belief is an imperfectly sanctified life. “A changed life” is just another way of saying good works justify you!

    Charlie


  89. Pat said, “…, in accepting ANOTHER person’s claim to faith, it tends to look more at a person’s conduct than at the content of the person’s belief.”

    Here we go again. You have tipped your hand again. For you “conduct” is the deciding factor rather than believing the propostional truths of the Gospel and Jesus Christ.

    I must say that if you read Clark you didn’t understand him.

  90. pat Says:

    Sean, how is signing “Presbyterians and Presbyterians Together” a matter of compromising with FV?

    And everyone deserves charity. Tolerance of their error, no.

    YOU need to get a grip.

  91. pat Says:

    Pat, “a changed life” is NOT necessary to salvation. What IS necessary is regeneration, believing the gospel and what Jesus said. The “result” of true faith/belief is an imperfectly sanctified life. “A changed life” is just another way of saying good works justify you!

    Charlie

    A changed life is of course an imperfectly sanctified life. Why do you insist on creating opposition where there isn’t any?

  92. pat Says:

    Pat said, “…, in accepting ANOTHER person’s claim to faith, it tends to look more at a person’s conduct than at the content of the person’s belief.”

    Here we go again. You have tipped your hand again. For you “conduct” is the deciding factor rather than believing the propostional truths of the Gospel and Jesus Christ.

    THAT’S NOT MY BELIEF! PAY ATTENTION! READ MORE CAREFULLY! “it” refers to MacArthur’s teaching.

    Again, we can accept the idea of Lordship salvation without accepting MacArthur’s and other’s idea of it. He and others think that one can understand and intellectually assent to the gospel and still not be saved. The something extra, ACCORDING TO THEM, the trust, the committment, or whatever else it be, something emotional or otherwise, is necessary. But we should all agree that one can’t possibly have true faith if one continues on in sin.

    Why don’t you go back and read Robbins article and you will see that he doesn’t charge MacArthur with heresy or the idea of Lordship salvation as heretical.

  93. pat Says:

    “If we describe faith as a “condition for salvation”, it would imply that a sinner is capable of doing something “before” being saved, which God rewards with salvation.”

    Denson, meeting a condition does not imply that doing so provides the basis for receiving. A condition for receiving candy on Halloween night might be ringing a doorbell. Without doing so, one receives no candy. But doing so doesn’t provide the basis for receiving candy. In the same way, meeting the condition of faith doesn’t mean that it is the basis for God’s granting salvation. No one enters heaven without faith. But that doesn’t mean that faith is what gets people into heaven. We are saved “through” faith, but not on account of faith. Faith is what God gives men(the elect), the knowledge of the truth, to bring them to salvation, the deliverance from the penalty and power of sin. Again, though it is true that “if you believe, you will be saved,” it does not mean that believing is the basis of salvation.

  94. qeqesha Says:

    Pat,
    Heresy simply means wrong or incorrect. 1+1=3 is heresy, though of course heresy is reserved for wrong, incorrect or inaccurate teaching in religious matters.
    Further, yes one can be “guilty by association”. The Bible says “can two walk together unless they be agreed?” In other words, you are assumed to agree with those you walk with unless you explicitly dissavow their beliefs.
    And one more thing. Piper, a man who invites Doug Wilson, an FV heretic, and exposes thousands of unsuspecting victims to confusion and mortal error and gives a wolf a platform to propagate his pernicious views according to you, “..he clearly believes that the basis of our justification is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.” Then why does he invite Doug Wilson, if “..he clearly believes..”?

    Remember, a dog does not find s**t objectionable because it is a dog, not because s**t is not what it is.

    Denson

  95. Sean Gerety Says:

    And everyone deserves charity. Tolerance of their error, no.

    No. Not every error rises to the same level. Also, we’re not talking about some pew-on, but those supposed teachers and self-styled protectors of Christ’s sheep. Paul didn’t share your or your pastor’s open mindedness and “charity” when dealing with those who were advancing a different Gospel. Instead, he said:

    But it was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.

    Denial of vitals of the faith should not be tolerated. Did Jesus tolerate the error of the Pharisees? Did He teach that everyone deserves charity? I think you should spend some time in Matthew 23.

    Finally, Denson, please ease up with the colorful metaphors. 😉

  96. Sean Gerety Says:

    Also, since the discussion has gone pretty wide of the subject of this blog piece, please get back on track or take it somewhere else. Thanks in advance.

  97. pat Says:

    “Heresy simply means wrong or incorrect. 1+1=3 is heresy, though of course heresy is reserved for wrong, incorrect or inaccurate teaching in religious matters.”

    No, heresy is serious error, denying something it basis to the Christian faith, or what is plainly taught in Scripture.

    “one can be “guilty by association”. “you are assumed to agree with those you walk with unless you explicitly dissavow their beliefs.”

    True, but walking together is more than associating with.

    I have no idea why Piper invites Doug Wilson to speak. I guess he just can’t believe Wilson’s teaches what he appears to teach. Why does Packer associate with Catholics? Is it necessarily because he believes what they believe? Obviously not. Or do you actually think that Packer believes we are justified by infused righteousness?

  98. justbybelief Says:

    Denson,

    “Remember, a dog does not find s**t objectionable because it is a dog, not because s**t is not what it is.”

    That is a fabulous commentary on The Pied Piper and for that matter, our time!

    One thing I like to remember is Jesus’ statement, “To him who has ears…” Those who support heretics and see nothing wrong with their teaching think that because they don’t see the problem, nobody can. I am reminded of an OPC ‘pastor’ in the not too distant past who thought that simply because he believed that they (OPC) couldn’t know anything for sure and presbytery baptized their ignorance didn’t necessarily mean that the rest of us accept their ignorance–their position. God has not left the elect in ignorance, He has given us ears to hear and eyes to see. Just because they (reprobate) can’t see, doesn’t mean that we (elect) can’t see. It is simply amazing the supernatural aspect of the Christian Faith. They hate us because God has revealed Himself to us.

    Eric

  99. pat Says:

    Sean, what the heck are you talking about?

    How can you make signing “Presbyterians and Presbyterians Together” tantamount to supporting FV? There’s nothing in the document itself that makes it advocating FV. This just makes no sense at all. This has nothing to do with tolerating error. Keep your wits about you.

  100. pat Says:

    Eric,

    that’s a serious thing to call Piper a false prophet/teacher. You’d better be sure it’s accurate.

  101. pat Says:

    And besides Sean, I never signed the document. But I’m guilty for associating with a Pastor who did. And my friend is guilty for associating with me who associates with a pastor who signed the document. And my friend’s friend is guilty, and his friend’s friend, and so on, and so on. How absurd.

  102. justbybelief Says:

    Pat,

    “that’s a serious thing…”

    Putting a stumbling block in front of God’s elect is also…

    “It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” Luke 17:2

    …from which Wilson and Piper have not repented, and therefore, deserve condemnation not pity.

    Eric

  103. Pat Says:

    For what sins should Piper be condemned for causing believers to do?

    I don’t pity Piper.

    Contrary to what others might lead you to think, I do not coddle those who teach error or who compromise with those who do. I am not happy with what Piper or Packer do. I would be outraged if they were my pastors and would let them know it.

    But Piper is no Wilson. He is no heretic or worse, a false teacher( teaching heresies of perdition, 2 Pet.2:1).

  104. justbybelief Says:

    Pat,

    “For what sins should Piper be condemned for causing believers to do?”

    1) http://www.trinityfoundation.org/horror_show.php?id=35

    2) Giving aid and comfort to an enemy of the gospel and thus laying a stumbling block before God’s little ones.

    Eric

  105. Pat Says:

    Eric, can you be more specific? How are God’s little ones moved to sin? Is it in believing in destructive error? I don’t think that is possible. For the elect regenerate believe the true gospel, not a false one.

    BTW, the link to Piper’s website and the quote from his church is surely wrong with respect to the gospel.It is the Arminian/Dispensational gospel. It is totally inconsistent to what Piper says in his book “The future of Justification.” Of course, that was written in 2004, the website was updated in 1998.

    Again, deal with the teaching, not so much the person. BTW, false teachers come with certain characteristics (covetous and licentious) which clearly doesn’t characterize Piper, or Arminians/Dispensationalists.

    I would also be curious what Piper would say if confronted with the charge of preachinga an Arminian/Dispensational gospel. MacArthur, for one, made it clear that he did not condone such teaching (which Robbins accepted), which was later added to the end of Robbins article on MacArthur and his books on the gospel.

  106. Sean Gerety Says:

    Give it up Eric. You couldn’t be more specific.

    If Pat can’t see how Piper has “provided aid and comfort to an enemy of the gospel,” you are wasting your time trying to convince him otherwise.

  107. Pat Says:

    “If Pat can’t see how Piper has “provided aid and comfort to an enemy of the gospel,” you are wasting your time trying to convince him otherwise.”

    That is not what I said or asked for. It was not about whether or not Piper “provided aid and comfort to an enemy of the gospel.” But how, in doing so, how that is “thus laying a stumbling block before God’s little ones.” I’m not necessarily denying that he laid a stumbling block, but again, just what stumbling block is/was laid.

  108. Sean Gerety Says:

    You can’t figure it out for yourself?

  109. Pat Says:

    I pretty much have. I’m waiting for you guys to realize that “provided aid and comfort to an enemy of the gospel,” does not equal “… laying a stumbling block before God’s little ones.”

  110. justbybelief Says:

    Pat,

    Jesus stated, “He who has ears let him hear.” Now, because you cannot understand plain language doesn’t mean we’ve not proved the case, only that you are dull in your hearing.

    Eric

  111. qeqesha Says:

    Pat & All,
    I thought this conversation had been discontinued .. !
    Pat: ““We mean that the saints WILL and must persevere in the obedience which comes from faith.” My emphasis added.

    What do you find wrong with this. This is the properly expressed doctrine of the perseverence of the saints.”

    No, Pat! The perseverance of saints is based on God’s faithfulness in unchangeably predetermining a certain number and persons to receive eternal life, to be glorified in him and to be with him forever! It is not about their faithfulness! From the Gospel by John:
    “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast away. …. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

    Pat:”No, heresy is serious error, denying something it basis to the Christian faith, or what is plainly taught in Scripture.”
    Errors of course have differing consequences according to what they are an error about. A navigational error will end one in the wrong place, alive and well and perhaps a little embarrassed. On the other hand, misjudging the distance to a tree branch by a monkey might mean plunging down to a certain death, etc etc. But, we are not always aware or it is not always obvious what the consequences of what seems at face value a small error might be. In other words we might be in error about a particular error. Besides, since God is a holy and terrible God, messing with his word in what ever matter is a serious thing! To grade errors might place us in a position where we are second guessing God! We develop a habit of not taking God seriously enough until we hold him literally in contempt. Further, Christianity, or the Bible is a system in which every concept has its proper place determined by God. We have absolutely no authority to say what is unimportant! It is better to err on the side of the truth.

    Pat: “I have no idea why Piper invites Doug Wilson to speak. I guess he just can’t believe Wilson’s teaches what he appears to teach.”
    If Piper does not believe that Doug Wilson teaches what he appears to be teaching, in other words, that Doug actually teaches error, does this not mean that Piper believes that what Doug teaches is true? Does believing a heresy not make one a heretic?

    Pat: “But Piper is no Wilson. He is no heretic or worse, a false teacher( teaching heresies of perdition, 2 Pet.2:1).”
    Isn’t aiding and abating equally a serious matter? Is Piper not an accessory to heresy in giving Doug a platform to air his heretical views?

    “that’s a serious thing to call Piper a false prophet/teacher. You’d better be sure it’s accurate.”
    As Eric has said:” ..because you cannot understand plain language doesn’t mean we’ve not proved the case, only that you are dull in your hearing.”
    You cannot convince or prove to an atheist that God exists since he rejects the very notion of God. Equally so, one cannot prove to a heretic that he is a heretic or to use “colourful language”(my apologies to Sean), You cannot prove to a dumb ass that he is a dumb ass because he is a dumb ass!

    Denson

  112. Sean Gerety Says:

    Denson, I did close the combox and may do so again. From my experience on the Yahoo Scripturalist list, I believe it is useless to engage the “lawyertheologian.” While I love a good argument, or what Clark would call “a good brawl,” I despise arguing for argument’s sake. Arguing with Pat is like that old Monty Python Argument Sketch. After a while it’s like taking “Being Hit on the Head” lessons.

  113. Pat Says:

    Sean, maybe you need to take a good look in the mirror. Because I can’t figure out why you cannot be corrected, or for whatever reason you just can’t/won’t see your errors/mistakes.

  114. Sean Gerety Says:

    And the last word goes to Pat… 🙂


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