Alien Fantasies of the Federal Vision

I thought I had the Federal Vision’s heretical nonsense pretty much under my belt. I understand their blasphemous belief in union that occurs via the waters of baptism and the mumbling of some self-styled priestling that magically engrafts both believers and unbelievers into Christ.  I understand that in the Federal Vision light has communion with darkness and righteousness fellowship with unrighteousness. I understand their reworking of the traditional definition of faith whereby the tautological fiducial element that is supposed to make faith saving is really just another name for our own personal obedience. I understand their phony agnosticism concerning the imputation of Christ’s active obedience as they scrape out a role for our own “good works” in justification — or what they fraudulently call “final justification.” I understand their flattening of the Covenant of Works as they eliminate Adam’s probation in the Garden and replace it with a gracious call to faithful obedience.  I understand that these men are all liars and antichrists that dishonestly wear the name “Christian” while they pretend to be “Reformed.” In short, I understand  the “parallel soteriological system” of the Federal Vision as they continue to lead countless men, women and children, baptized or otherwise, to hell.  However, there are certain aspects of the Federal Vision that are so alien to anything even remotely Reformed or Christian, that it rightly places their false religion into the realm of the cults.

I recently stumbled on John Fesko’s 2004 study:  The Federal Vision and the Covenant of Works.  In this short piece Fesko takes aim at the warped and anti-Christian retelling of the Biblical account of the Fall championed by FV architects Richard Lusk and certifiable lunatic, James Jordan.  To be fair, I have read a few things by Lusk over the years that seemed downright crazy, but you don’t have to read very far into almost anything Jordan writes to realize he is a giant bag o’ allegorical nuts.  However, I confess reading their respective theories on the Fall was so bizarre I thought I was reading some Dianetics tract written by that dead science fiction writer and cult leader, L. Ron Hubbard. Here is just a sample from Jordan’s “Merit verses Maturity” as cited by Fesko:

What is set before Adam is a choice. He is free to eat of every tree, including the special Tree of Life. He is forbidden to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Approaching the garden’s center, he must choose which of the Trees to eat first. If he rejects the Tree of Knowledge and partakes of the Tree of Life, he will enter into a process of further life that will eventuate in eternal life. Having obeyed God in faith at the outset, he will set himself on a road of further faithful obedience. If, however, he chooses to eat of the Tree of Knowledge first, he will die and not move any farther down the road to eternal life. We notice that there is nothing of ‘merit’ or ‘work’ here.

Rather than a Covenant of Works “wherein life is promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience,” Jordan fantasizes that had Adam remained obedient one day God would grant him permission to eat of the Tree of Knowledge in order that Adam would continue in a process that would one day “eventuate in eternal life.” According to Jordan’s retelling, and had Adam chosen correctly, “The Tree of Knowledge, then, not the Tree of Life, was the eschatological tree, the tree of promise.  The Tree of Knowledge would end Adam’s first phase in life.”  Adam was given a choice: eat of the Tree of Life or the Tree of Knowledge.  Had Adam ate of the Tree of Life first, Adam would have moved from childhood into a kind of cosmic puberty.  Then, I suppose around the time Adam was ready to get his cosmic driver’s license, or in Jordan’s case, his first drink at the Garden pub, Adam would be given the present of eating from the Tree of Knowledge, dying, and then moving on to a home in the celestial suburbs complete with a never ending mortgage payment.  However, choosing to eat from the Tree of Knowledge first, Adam still dies, doesn’t pass Go, never has to shave, and must remain in his soiled diapers for eternity.

However, all is not lost in Jordan’s covenantal Price Is Right, Jesus came to offer us one last deal which will allow at least some of Adam’s offspring to one day peel off their stinky diapers and have another chance at maturity.  Jesus’ life and death basically allows the rest of us to pick up where Adam left off.  Concerning Jesus’ cross-work  Jordan writes:

Jesus came under the Old Covenant, which is ultimately the Adamic Covenant. He properly ‘cultivated and guarded’ His garden. He grew from strength to strength within the Old Covenant, so to speak, but also from weakness to weakness. Becoming fully convinced, as a man, that there was no other way to accomplish God’s work save through total weakness and the death of the cross, after asking that ‘if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me’ (Matt 26.39), He willingly went to the cross. He became the first mature man, perfect in faith toward the Father and in obedience to the Father’s will. He thus became eligible for transformation into glory through death, not because he earned the right to it, but because He had matured to the point of being fit for it. He became fit for glory not by earning merits or by growing in strength, but precisely by coming to an awareness of need.

Notice, Jesus’ obedient life and even his death on the cross did not merit or earn anything for those he died, it didn’t even propitiate God’s wrath against us on account of sin, but rather Jesus’ life and death provides the archetype of the “first mature man” for us to follow.  Notice too, Jesus “became fit for” and “eligible for transformation into glory.”  The absurdity of Jordan’s delusion here is almost beyond description.  Jesus didn’t become “fit” or “eligible” for glory, he was always fit and eligible for glory.  Jesus, unlike us, was without sin.  Which leads to a whole host of additional problems as Fesko observes:

In what way does Christ’s death atone for sin if death is part of the process by which one progresses from childhood to maturity? If Adam was to eat from the tree of knowledge and die, how is his death different from Christ’s? In Jordan’s understanding, death is no longer sacrificial. Jordan goes on, of course, to reject the traditional doctrine of the active and passive obedience of Christ: “Everything Jesus did was passive under the command of the Father and the prompting of the Spirit. Moreover, of course, everything He did was active on His part, as He agreed to do it, including His active refusal to come down from the cross until the Father’s will had been perfected.” The question still remains, however, in what way does Christ’s death atone for sin? If Christ’s death is merely because he is the first one to obey the Father’s will, then Jordan fails to explain how this is propitiatory.

In Jordan’s alien scheme the idea of atonement, propitiation, mediatorship, along with imputation and a whole host of other central Christian doctrines become completely irrelevant, since the problem of the Fall was not so much a problem of sin as a lack of maturity.  The Fall resulted in mankind’s stunted growth.  And, if it were even possible, Lusk does Jordan one better if only on the question of candor, and, like any number of other FV cult leaders, completely eschews the doctrine of imputation by subsuming everything under their sacrodotalistic doctrine of union with Christ through water baptism. Jordan at least enjoys pretending that imputation plays some undefined role in his convoluted and anti-Christian scheme of redemption.

I confess, it is unfathomable to me that anyone takes any of these Federal Divisionists seriously.  Their doctrines, as exemplified by their fairytale retelling of the Fall, are so far outside of anything plausibly Christian as to make them complete laughingstocks.  However, considering Jim Jones conned nearly 1,000 of his followers to drink cyanide laced Kool-Aid, and that Heaven’s Gate wack-a-doo convinced about 40 of his deluded and supposedly highly educated followers to kill themselves in the hope of meeting up with the “Mothership,” I’d say James Jordan and Richard Lusk are in good company.  Evidently people, even those claiming to be Reformed, will believe just about anything.

I strongly recommend Fesko’s piece as it is an excellent analysis and example of the FV cult’s mythology.  However, there was one interesting point that seems to have gone completely under Fesko’s radar and it comes right at the beginning of his analysis of Jordan:

Jordan defines a covenant as “a personal–structural bond which joins the three persons of God in a community of life, and in which man was created to participate.” It is important to note that proponents of the federal vision do not see the covenant as merely the means by which the trinity brings about the redemption of man, i.e., the pactum salutis, but rather the covenant is part of the opera ad intra of the trinity. That the covenant is part of the ontology of the trinity is evident in Jordan’s definition—the covenant is the bond that joins the three persons of God in community.

And, a little later Fesko adds:

The first issue with which we must begin is the very definition of the term covenant. As we saw, Jordan defines a covenant as “a personal-structural bond which joins the three persons of God in a community of life, and in which man was created to participate.” We must ask, however, where in the Scriptures do we see a covenant defined only as a relationship? While relationships certainly take place within the context of a covenant, we must recognize that Scripture sees a covenant primarily as an agreement . . . Covenant therefore is not the means by which the trinity brings about the redemption of man but a part of the essential nature of the Godhead.

Fesko is correct when he concludes: “There is no direct scriptural evidence to suggest that covenant is part of the ontological essence of the trinity . . . At this point  the federal vision relies upon a rationalistic assumption whereas the traditional view rests upon the authority of Scripture” [emphasis added].

The problem is, while there is no direct, or even indirect, Scriptural evidence to suggest that covenant “is part of the ontological essence of the trinity,” there is some theological evidence that the Federal Vision’s underlying “rationalistic assumption” comes from none other than Cornelius Van Til.  With the help of Brandon Adams I was able to track down the following selection from Van Til that Federal Visionists like Jordan, Lusk and others use to support of their “rationalistic” Trinitarian assumption.  Van Til writes:

Covenant theology sprang up naturally as the most consistent expression of Calvinism, in which the idea of the self-sufficient, ontological Trinity is the final reference point in all predication. It is this idea that lies at the center of covenant theology. The three persons of the Trinity have exhaustively personal relationship with one another. And the idea of exhaustive personal relationship is the idea of the covenant.

– Cornelius Van Til, “Covenant Theology,” in The New Schaff-Herzog Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, ed. L. A. Loetscher (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1955) 1.306

Notice, according to Van Til “the idea of exhaustive personal relationship is the idea of the covenant.”  While it is perhaps understandable why Fesko, who, at least according to Gary Johnson, is a Vantilian, would overlook this connection between Van Til and Federal Visionists like Jordan, I think it is important when exposing the myth making of others not to engage in any myth making of your own.  And, while it is also possible that perhaps Fesko was unfamiliar with Van Til’s definition of covenant above, it stretches the imagination to think that any serious Vantilian could possibly miss the central and expanded role the Trinity plays in Van Til’s philosophy from providing a solution to the problem of the “one and the many” to furnishing a basis for all predication.

Consequently, and as should be obvious, the “rationalistic assumption” Fesko objects to in men like Jordan, Lusk and others is the exact same one we see in Van Til.  Jordan, Lusk and the other Federal Visionists are simply more consistent Vantilians applying Van Til’s unscriptural application of the ontological Trinity to the covenant.  Once again, the philosophic connection between Van Til and the Federal Vision is plainly evident.  My guess is Vantilians will continue to refuse to take their sunglasses off long enough to see it.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Heresies, James Jordan

434 Comments on “Alien Fantasies of the Federal Vision”


  1. Nice post, Sean. I have not read that much of Van Til since I’ve spent most of my time reading the classical systematic theologies from the Reformed tradition. Van Til is looking more bizarre to me as time goes on.

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    Van Til said a number of odd things, and while he can’t be responsible for all the errors of his many followers, there can be no mistake Jordan’s definition of the covenant as “the bond that joins the three persons of God in community” is the same as Van Til’s. I just don’t understand why Fesko or any other student of Van Til would be surprised by this?

  3. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: Fesko is correct when he concludes: “There is no direct scriptural evidence to suggest that covenant is part of the ontological essence of the trinity…”

    Cliffton: Exchanging the words “ontological essence” with the unambiguous term “definition”, I would have to disagree with you (and Fesko) at this point. Scripture reveals God as a Trinity of Persons, that of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Father and Son most surely have a relational significance, and the Holy Spirit is spoken of as the Spirit of Truth, of Life. The Scriptures also state that God is love, that love is of the Spirit, and that the Spirit procedes from the Father and the Son. Further, the Spirit is also idenitified as the bond of peace. Taking all this into consideration we can claim according to Scripture, that comprehended within the “definition” of God is the life of the three Persons, the covenant life of family fellowship, the love of Father for Son and Son for Father, in the Spirit. It is this bond of fellowhsip, or rather, this union in Truth (I believe this to be a clearer definition of covenant than that of a bond of frienship and fellowhsip), that God establishes with the elect. God says to Abraham, I will establish MY covenant. It is His covenant.

    The problem with the Federal Vision heretics (Jordan most certainly included) is they deny that election governs the covenant. They deny that it is the will of God that governs the covenant. And as Prof. Engelsma once asked, if God’s will does not govern the covenant, than whose does? This is the great pride of the FV. And for this they will be judged, and are being judged.

    I am aware that theologians like to distinguish between the economical Trinity and the ontological Trinity. But my question to such men would be, does God ever reveal Himself as other than He is, in Truth. The Scriptures reveal Christ, and Christ is the revelation of God, the Triune God.

  4. Sean Gerety Says:

    Cliffton, just curious, and I honestly don’t know, where in Scripture do we find the relationship of persons in the Trinity spoken of in terms of a covenant?

    Also, are you PRC?

  5. brandon Says:

    Van Til the rationalist? Oh my

  6. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: Cliffton, just curious, and I honestly don’t know, where in Scripture do we find the relationship of persons in the Trinity spoken of in terms of a covenant?

    Cliffton: Explicitly, the Scriptures do not use the term “covenant” when speaking of the relationship of persons in the Trinity. The Scriptures however do use the term “covenant” when speaking of the relationship between God and His people in Christ the Head. And the term “covenant” expressing this relationship is spoken of as a bond of frienship and fellowship, or again, as a union in Truth. Because the purpose of Scripture is to reveal the Triune God, all revelation, and in particular, the revelation of His (“My”) covenant is a revelation of God. And in fact, our salvation (or rather eternal life) is spoken of as the knowledge of God (John 17:3). Christ is indeed mentioned in this verse not in distinction from that knowledge of God, but as the necessary way unto that knowledge, and, that knowledge itself. As Christ has said, “I have glorified thee on the earth…I have manifested thy name unto the men…I have delcared unto them thy name” (John 17:4,6,26). In short, the covenant that God establishes with His elect in Christ is simply God’s revelation of Himself. The revelation of God in the mind’s of His people is our salvation. And certainly and most necessarily this includes that knowledge in the mind of God concerning his will to send His Son to merit salvation for His people. But even here, we understand the truth of our salvation to be in the eternal, immutable, omniscient thoughts of God. Which is to say, God’s will is the willing God.

    I mentioned in my previous post statements concerning Scriptures use of the terms “Father” and “Son” and I believe these, in the very least, suggest a familial relationship between the first and second person of the Trinity. John 5:20 specifically states that the Father loves the Son. John 14:10 speaks of the Father “dwelling” in the Son and the Son “in the Father” (please note that the Scriptures often speak of God dwelling among is people). This last verse must be understood in the context of Phillip’s request for Jesus to “shew us the Father” (v.8). Interestingly enough, chapters 14-16 of the Gospel of John have also been used as support for the proceeding of the Spirit from the Father and the Son. This ought not to be separated from Christ’s statements regarding His relationship to His Father and the Father’s dwelling in Him. Clearly, there is much in those couple of chapters that speak to the Trinitarian life of God. Also, I agree with Clark when he states, “Thus the begetting of the Son occurs, and the Son as a Person exists, by a necessity of the divine nature- the nature of the divine will” (The Trinity, pg.112). This is significant because it suggests that the will of the Father to generate the person of The Son was(is) an eternal “act” of love. Engelsma has put it this way:

    “To say, then, as does the Reformed tradition, that the generation of the Son took place apathos (dispassionately) is puzzling. The Father begets with infinite love. The Son is begotten in infinite love” (Trinity and Covenant, pg.63 footnote 17).

    To answer your question in another way, I acknowledge that the Scriptures do not use the term “covenant” when speaking of the relationship among the persons of the Trinity. But I believe that the purpose of revelation and the definition of the covenant is principally concerned with the life of God. It may be more proper to say that the covenant of God with His people is the revelation of His own Trinitarian life, rather than the make the statement that the Scriptures speak of the relationship among the three persons as a covenant relationship.

    Sean: Also, are you PRC?

    Cliffton: Yes

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    The Scriptures however do use the term “covenant” when speaking of the relationship between God and
    His people in Christ the Head.

    Which is a qualitatively different from the relationship than the one that exists between the three persons of the Trinity. I don’t know why the same word should be used to describe both the relationship between the divine Persons and that which exists between God and his people? Isn’t this simply equivocating on the word “covenant”?

    In short, the covenant that God establishes with His elect in Christ is simply God’s revelation of Himself.

    Yes, but the covenant is the basis by which this relationship is established and upon specific conditions. Whether it’s Adam in the Garden or Jesus Christ sinless life and sacrificial death on behalf of those given to Him by the Father. I still don’t see the unique relationship of the Three Persons as a covenant bond?

    The revelation of God in the mind’s of His people is our salvation. And certainly and most necessarily this includes that knowledge in the mind of God concerning his will to send His Son to merit salvation for His people.

    And Jesus Christ fulfilled the terms of the covenant on our behalf. BTW, I really like that sentence; “The revelation of God in the minds of His people is our salvation.” I hope you don’t mind if I steal it. 🙂

    Clearly, there is much in those couple of chapters that speak to the Trinitarian life of God. Also, I agree with Clark when he states, “Thus the begetting of the Son occurs, and the Son as a Person exists, by a necessity of the divine nature- the nature of the divine will” (The Trinity, pg.112). This is significant because it suggests that the will of the Father to generate the person of The Son was(is) an eternal “act” of love. Engelsma has put it this way:

    “To say, then, as does the Reformed tradition, that the generation of the Son took place apathos (dispassionately) is puzzling. The Father begets with infinite love. The Son is begotten in infinite love” (Trinity and Covenant, pg.63 footnote 17).

    I don’t disagree, but I don’t see how this really speaks to the idea that the ontological Trinity is the archetype, if you will, of the idea of covenant? Or, as Van Til says, “the idea of exhaustive personal relationship is the idea of the covenant.” Even as we’re brought into a personal relationship with the Triune God by means of the covenant, and while God certainly exhausts us, the idea of us ever exhausting God is an eternal impossibility.

    It may be more proper to say that the covenant of God with His people is the revelation of His own Trinitarian life, rather than the make the statement that the Scriptures speak of the relationship among the three persons as a covenant relationship.

    Or, that by means of the covenant God brings his people into the revelation of His own Trinitarian life.

    Sean: Also, are you PRC?
    Cliffton: Yes

    I had that suspicion. 😉 It’s been a while since I’ve picked up HH’s Dogmatics, but in it he writes:

    And so, as the living God He is the covenant God. For the idea of the covenant is not that of an agreement, pact, or alliance. It is the bond of friendship and living fellowship. Friendship is that bond of fellowship between persons, according to which and by which they enter into one another’s life in perfect knowledge and love, so that mind is knit to mind, will to will, heart to heart, and each has no secrets from the other. It presupposes a basis of likeness, of equality: for only like knows like. (152)

    It does seem that HH is very close, if not identical, to Van Til here and “the idea of exhaustive personal relationship is the idea of the covenant.” Some of the problems I have here is that covenant in Scripture is also spoken of in terms of “an agreement, pact, or alliance,” so defining covenant exclusively in terms of friendship and fellowship and on the basis of equality is, to me, stretching the word a bit. Perhaps it is on the basis of covenant that un-equals come into a bond of friendship and fellowship?

    In any case, it is still interesting that Fesko, a Vantilian, would take issue with Jordan, Lusk, and Ralph Smith on this important point when they’re just parroting Van Til. I would include Kuyper and perhaps Hoeksema too in this Dutch stream, but, if nothing else, Jordan, Lusk and Smith consider themselves Vantilians and not Kuyperians or, well, whatever “ians” that would go with Hoeksema.

    Also, regardless of whether or not one defines covenant in terms of the ontological Trinity, I think we can agree that the Garden myth that Jordan and other FVers advance and are comfortable with (after all, “Merit v. Maturity” is piece featured in Wilkins’ book, The Federal Vision) is just a downright bizarre fairytale.

  8. Sean Gerety Says:

    Quick side note, a friend of mine, I guess sometime last year, sent me a few books, one of which was “The Federal Vision” edited by Wilkins where Jordan’s above hallucination is found. I think I’ll take the plunge and see what other bits of blasphemous insanity are in there. Besides, I noticed that used copies of the paperback on Amazon start at $63 !!!


  9. I noticed in my brief reading of Herman Hoeksema’s Dogmatics that he also rejects the “covenant of works.” But I think he does so on different grounds from the Federal Visionists. Hoeksema says that even if Adam had not fallen he would still not be able to fulfill a covenant of works because it would be based on his own merits and not on God’s gracious gifts. (See Vol. 1:304-312).

    Charlie

  10. Cliffton Says:

    Sean, I didn’t think that response was posted. I don’t have a computer and I only have access to the computers at the public library. We are given an hour at a time, and it came down to the wire. I wasn’t aware that the post was sucessfully submitted. I actually thought otherwise. So I spent all this morning writting up something else. And if you don’t mind, I would like to post it? And maybe it will answer some of your remarks, but there will also be much repetition.

    The Scriptures do not explicitly use the term “covenant” to identify that relation among the persons of the Trinity. Nevertheless I believe the idea of covenant, that of a bond of friendship and fellowship (or union in Truth), is most certainly expressed. When speaking of the relationship between God and His elect people in Christ the Head, the Scriptures explicitly identify it is a covenant both in word and idea. Whether it is proper therefore to speak of the relationship between the persons of the Trinity as a “covenant”, and not rather to reserve the term “covenant” for the revelation of that relationship in the minds of the elect, this would be something with which I would not take issue. The point I wish to make is that the covenant of grace is the revelation of that fellowship among the persons of the Trinity in the minds of the elect. The Scriptural warrant is as follows.

    The purpose of Scripture is to reveal the One True God in Jesus Christ. As I had mentioned in the previous post the Scriptures speak of the One True God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Father and Son certainly express, in the very least, a familial relatioinship. John 5:20 speaks of the Father’s love for the Son, and John 17:24 speaks of that love of the Father for the Son as from before the foundation of the world. Further, I am in full agreement with Clark when he states, “Thus the begetting of the Son occurs, and Son as a person exists, by a necessity of the divine nature- the nature of the divine will” (The Trinity, pg.112). That is, the Father willed to generate the person of the Son. Engelsma says it this way: “To say, then, as does the Reformed Tradition, that the generation of the Son took place apathos (dispassionately) is puzzling. The Father begets with infinite love. The Son is begotten in infinite love” (Trinity and Covenant, pg.63 fn.17). The Father’s generation of the Son then, is an eternal “act”(?) of love of Father for Son.

    The Scripture’s also speak of the Son as being given a particular work to do, that of glorifying the Father (John 17:4). He does this by manifesting His name unto men (John 17:6), by declaring unto them His name (John 17:26). This revelation of God in Jesus Christ in the minds of the elect is our salvation (John 17:3). This revelation of God most necessarily comprehends the work of Christ in meritting salvation for the elect. But even this work is grounded in the eternal mind of God, and not apart from it.

    Further, Jesus in John 14:10 speaks of the Father’s dwelling in the Son (please note, the covenant between God and His people is also spoken of as a dwelling among us, Rev 21:3), and the Son in the Father. This must be understood in the context of Jesus’ response to Phillip, “Lord, shew us the Father” (John 14:8). Interestingly enough, John 14-16 has been used by the church Fathers to establish the eternal procession of the Spirit from both the Father and the Son. Clearly there is here much to learn regarding the relationship among the persons of the Trinity. But what I wish to be emphasized is that Jesus reveals, or “shews the Father”, by discussing their mutual indwelling, and that not apart from the sending of the Holy Spirit (as the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, and the Spirit as Truth). And we know that the Spirit searches the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10).

    In conclusion, if we understand that Scripture is the revelation of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is the revelation of the One True God, it necessarily follows that our knowledge of God in Jesus Christ by the operation of the Holy Spirit, is the knowledge of the mutual indwelling of the Father and Son in the Holy Spirit who is that bond of love. The revelation of that relationship, that life, in the minds of the elect is God’s covenant with us. And we know that even now we are being built up in Jesus Christ together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph: 2:22), members of the household of God (Eph 2:19), with God as our Father, and our Elder Brother, His Son. The knowledge of God is indeed eternal life.

    Sean: Or, that by means of the covenant God brings his people into the revelation of His own Trinitarian life.

    Cliffton: I just don’t think Scriptures speak of the covenant as a means to an end. This necessarily makes the covenant conditional. And this is where I think the FV boys try to capitalize. I think we should understand the covenant as the end itself. I think Rev 21 makes this very clear. In fact, if we define the covenant as a bond of fellowhsip, a union in truth, we MUST see the covenant as the end itself. Knowledge of the Truth can only be an end. If it were a means and not the end, we could never know the end. The law in summary form is to love God. And as Clark once stated, “it is the work of love to understand.”

  11. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: Which is a qualitatively different from the relationship than the one that exists between the three persons of the Trinity. I don’t know why the same word should be used to describe both the relationship between the divine Persons and that which exists between God and his people? Isn’t this simply equivocating on the word “covenant”?

    Cliffton: Not if we define the Covenant as I suggested, a union in Truth. For, there is not a qualitative difference between our knowledge and God’s knowledge. This is why the FV fools claim VanTil as their Teacher. It allows them to posit an analogy of being, an analogy of our knowledge in relation to God’s knowledge whereby there is no univocal point of contact, and then apply this to the doctrine of the covenant. They deduce a “parallel soteriological system”, as you so aptly put.

  12. ray kikkert Says:

    For sure …Jordan’s bong inspired account of Adam was dealt with by Prof. Engelsma in his critique of the Federal Vision which was featured by the Trinity Foundation in 2006 … he writes…

    “James Jordan’s presence in the book is significant. Jordan is one of the old-guard Christian Reconstructionists, involved in the fiasco of Tyler, Texas, where an early attempt to bring in Christian Reconstruction’s earthly kingdom died aborning. Jordan connects the original movement of Christian Reconstruction with its contemporary manifestation. It should not be overlooked that most of the men of the ìfederal visionî are zealots on behalf of postmillennial Christian Reconstruction.

    James B. Jordan is the wildest hare started by Christian Reconstruction. His speciality is allegorical, fantastical exegesis. In comparison with Jordan, Origen and Harold Camping are pikers. According to Jordan, Adam in Paradise would eventually have eaten the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil with God’s approval. Adam would then have died a ìgood-death.î By this ìgood-death,î he would have been glorified, maturing into eternal life. This would have enabled Adam to fight the dragon for a while in the unfallen world at large. But Adam would have needed help. Help would have appeared in the form, not of St. George or Frodo, but of the incarnate Son of God. The eternal Son would have become incarnate even if Adam had remained obedient. But the incarnate Son likewise would have passed through the ìgood-deathî of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so that He too could ìmature.î This fantasy is further embellished by Jordan with mind-boggling theories about garments and distinctions among animal, vegetable, and mineral (151-200).

    If James Jordan is the exegete of the federal vision, the movement is not only heretical but also absurd.

    The absurd is the unintelligible.”

    Prof. Engelsma also wrote another article in which he deals with Federal Visionist’s who try to hedge support for their twisted idea of the rejection of the covenant of works by referring to Hoeksema … as a forerunner in rejecting the covenant of works … Prof. Engelsma deals with how and why the PRC do not define the Lord’s covenant as one of works.

    for example ….”This appeal is both misleading and mistaken. It is misleading
    because it leaves the impression that there is some agreement be-tween
    the covenant theology of Herman Hoeksema and the cov-enant
    theology of the Federal Vision. In fact, the covenant theol-ogy
    of Herman Hoeksema is the sworn foe of the Federal Vision.6
    The appeal to Hoeksema’s rejection of the covenant of works
    by the men of the Federal Vision is mistaken because Hoeksema’s
    fundamental objection against the covenant of works was differ-ent
    from that of the proponents of the Federal Vision. Hoeksema
    objected to the notion that Adam by his obedience could have
    earned a higher, heavenly, eternal life. Although Hoeksema
    couched his objection in terms of Adam’s being incapable of mer-iting
    higher life, his objection held against Adam’s obtaining higher
    life for himself and the human race in any manner whatever. View-ing
    the covenant with Adam in light of God’s eternal decree to
    glorify Himself by realizing His covenant in Jesus Christ,
    Hoeksema insisted that only the Son of God in human flesh could
    obtain the higher and better heavenly and eternal life for Himself
    and elect humanity, in the way of His cross and resurrection.
    Hoeksema denied that in the paradisal covenant Adam could
    have merited with God. But this denial of the possibility of merit
    on Adam’s part did not imply any rejection of Adam’s legal
    headship. Even though he regarded the covenant with Adam as
    essentially fellowship, Hoeksema did full justice to the legal as-pect
    of the relationship. Hoeksema taught that because of Adam’s
    legal, representative headship—his “federal headship”—his dis-obedience
    was imputed to all his posterity, Christ only excepted.Nor did Hoeksema’s denial of the possibility of Adam’s mer-iting
    imply a denial that the work of Jesus Christ was meritorious.
    There is in this respect a significant difference between the first
    Adam, who was a mere man, and the second Adam, who is per-sonally
    the eternal Son of God. Hoeksema taught emphatically
    that Jesus Christ merited salvation for all His own by His obedi-ence.
    The objection against the covenant of works by the men of the Federal Vision is radically different. It is part of their rejec-tion
    of the legal aspect of the Christian religion. Not only could
    Adam not merit with God, but also his disobedience was not im-puted
    to all his posterity. In addition, Jesus Christ’s work was not
    meritorious. Accordingly, justification for the Federal Vision is
    not a strictly legal act, the imputing of the obedience of Christ to
    the elect sinner by means of faith only.
    Highlighting the difference between Hoeksema and the men
    of the Federal Vision is the fact that, although they deny that Adam
    could have merited higher, eternal life, the advocates of the Fed-eral
    Vision allow that Adam might, nevertheless, have obtained
    the higher life for himself and the race by “maturing” into that
    life through his obedience. Hoeksema would have condemned
    this notion as heartily as he did the notion of earning. He would
    have charged that there is no difference between a mere man’s
    meriting the higher, eternal life by his work and a mere man’s
    obtaining the higher, eternal life by his work. Indeed, there is no
    difference. In both cases, mere man works his way into the higher
    life of heaven. He does not receive it as a gift of grace through
    Jesus Christ.”

    …Prof. Engelsma -Covenant Of Creation With Adam – PRTJ November 2006.

    So … men like Barach who like throwing names (Hoeksema) around when the covenant of works comes up for discussion … is a counter measure to deflect criticism of the Federal Vision’s handling of the doctrine of the Lord’s covenant and for what reasons they reject the covenant of works. When cornered though … these men throw out to typical line of …”well not all of us who advocate the FV agree on all things …. and by the way … the FV isn’t some movement … it simply is an ongoing discussion.”

    … such are the plys and games played by FV freaks

  13. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Cliffton.

    Also, and just FYI, the phrase “parallel soteriological system” is from the PCA’s FV/NPP report.

  14. Lauren Kuo Says:

    The reason the Federal Vision rejects the covenant of works is because their theology is in essence the covenant of works. We are not saved because we keep the covenant or the commandments but we will keep the covenant or the commandments because we are saved. The Federal Vision turns this truth on its head with its crazy idea of final justification. And,because the FV is the covenant of works and not grace, it can offer no assurance of salvation but only threats of apostasy.


  15. The Federal Vision heresy is bad. But Anglo-Catholicism is worse. They brag about how apostate they are and nobody is calling them to repent:

    How horrible of them to combine Catholics, Orthodox, and Evangelicals all under the umbrella category of “Christians”! They should be ashamed! Don’t they know that only Calvinists can be true Christians?

    On Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 10:39 PM, Charlie J. Ray wrote:

    http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2010/02/calvinists-against-manhattan.html


  16. That last quote was a remark from Bruce Atkinson, a charismaniac Anglo-Catholic in the new Anglican Church-North America. ACNA is as bad or worse than The Episcopal Church.

    Take a peek at VirtueOnline sometime. It will raise your dander.

    Charlie

  17. Roger Mann Says:

    Cliffton wrote,

    This revelation of God most necessarily comprehends the work of Christ in meritting salvation for the elect.

    Christ couldn’t have “merited” salvation for the elect apart from fulfilling the terms of a voluntary covenantal arrangement between Himself and the Father, since they are coequal members of the Godhead. Moreover, Scripture reveals that this covenantal arrangement was purely legal and conditional, as the agreed upon terms were for the Son to assume a human nature and submit Himself to the rigorous demands of the Law (the same covenantal/legal terms imposed upon Adam — which he failed to keep, meriting death for us all).

    But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. — Galatians 4:4-5

    And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. — Hebrews 9:15

    For as by one man’s disobedience [to the legal, conditional covenant] many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience [to the legal, conditional covenant] many will be made righteous. — Romans 5:19

    No matter how unintentional, defining God’s covenant as a “bond of friendship and fellowship” undermines the entire gospel of grace, and is the root of all manner of heresy. The Federal Vision is only its most recent manifestation. The Protestant Reformed Church ought to repent of this error, and for contributing to the continuing corruption of the gospel. The covenant of grace is only gracious to us because the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled its conditional terms by perfectly obeying the Law and suffering its penalty in our stead. Praise God!

    I just don’t think Scriptures speak of the covenant as a means to an end. This necessarily makes the covenant conditional.

    Of course the covenant is “conditional,” which is why Adam earned death by his disobedience to the covenant law, and Christ merited eternal life for us by His obedience to the covenant law, as Romans 5:19 makes abundantly clear. Just as the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), obedience to the law merits eternal life.

    For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” — Romans 10:5

    “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So [Jesus] said to him…”if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” — Matthew 19:16-17

    And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. — Romans 7:10

    I’m not sure what else God would have to say to make it any clearer. The covenant is a legal, conditional arrangement, not a “bond of friendship and fellowship.” The bond of friendship and fellowship between God and His elect people is established by Christ’s fulfillment of the covenant, but it is not the covenant itself.

    Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. — Romans 5:9-10

  18. Gus Gianello Says:

    Dear Roger,
    I agree with just about everything you say. But I think its important to note where there is disagreement.

    1. I disagree with you that the covenant of works is a conditional covenant IF you mean by the term “conditional” that Christ or Adam could have rejected the covenant. It is a “suzerain” covenant, not a covenant of equals and therefore was imposed. Logically necessitarianism drives us to the conclusion, since this is the only possible reality, that the covenant of works could not be rejected and the covenant of grace could not be hypothetical. But I am fairly certain, that what you actually mean is that the covenant of works functions through means. The means was/is the obedience of Adam/Christ, and that in that sense it was conditional. Like any contract, which is what a covenant is, there are clauses, that render it null and void if the conditions are not met.
    2. I agree with you that rejection of the covenant of works can only lead to disaster. I originally thought that rejecting the cov. of works MUST necessarily imply a fatal defect in the formulation of the cov. of grace. I no longer believe that. If you read Hoeksema his concern was to safeguard the particularity of grace. Or to put it in covenant terms, to defend the belief that the covenant of grace only applied to the elect. He did not believe that it was necessary to believe in a cov of works to do so. He, I believe was wrong—and that has introduced a serious error in the theological foundations of the Protestant Reformed. I hesitate profoundly to call it heresy. I would be more prepared to say, that rejection of the covenant of works logically and consistently leads to heresy. Thank God, that the PR are not consistent.

    Their definition of the covenant as a relationship of love founded upon the truth simply runs against all evidence to the contrary. Look up covenant anywhere in the Bible and it reeks of legality. In Deut God calls the ten commandments His covenant. There is nothing of relationship here.

    It also plays into the hands of the FV. The FV believe that “covenant” is relationship and that cov. is intrinsic to God. In other words the Trinity is the Trinity BECAUSE it is covenantal in nature. I do not believe that the Scriptures teach that. In fact I believe that God chose to deal with the human race by covenant, because of His nature–holiness. And holiness is conformity to the divine law, which is the righteousness of God. The Trinity chose cov. bec. it was holy, not because it was itself a covenantal society. This explains the Cov. of Redemption, of Works and of Grace.

    Finally, I find it odd that nobody has noticed that Christ is the only one to be a federal head under both covenants. His covenantal status is unique. That is why He is called the “Last Adam” in 1 Cor. 15 and the effects of his obedience are contrasted with the first Adam’s disobedience in Romans 5. He is mediator BEC. He suffered as the new federal head under the cov. of works perfectly, and so became the new federal head of the cov. of grace. That is why he did not die for everyone. He could only die for those humans born under the cov. of works who were ALSO elect under the cov. of grace.

    Interaction anyone?

    Gus G.

  19. Gus Gianello Says:

    ET al,

    As a follow up, being the last federal head under the covenant of works, logically implies the necessity of the virgin birth. Do away with the virgin birth, and Christ is not a perfect human being, and therefore incapable of fulfilling the demands of the law under that cov. of works. Instead, he is born fully culpable under that covenant, and cannot be a federal head. Meaning of course, that he cannot be mediator.

    Which by the way, negates the Ecumenical Creeds’ formulation of the Incarnation. He cannot be one person with two natures, since a “nature” is not a person, and only a person can be the federal head of a race. But that’s another controversy.

    Gus

  20. Roger Mann Says:

    Gus wrote,

    I disagree with you that the covenant of works is a conditional covenant IF you mean by the term “conditional” that Christ or Adam could have rejected the covenant. t is a “suzerain” covenant, not a covenant of equals and therefore was imposed.

    No, I did not mean by “conditional” that the covenant could have been rejected by Adam. Adam had no “choice” but to agree to the terms of the covenant, as it was no doubt sovereignly imposed upon him by God (as it is upon all of Adam’s seed by ordinary generation). But surely you don’t mean to say that the covenant was “imposed” upon Christ — that it wasn’t a “covenant of equals” between He and the Father?

    But I am fairly certain, that what you actually mean is that the covenant of works functions through means. The means was/is the obedience of Adam/Christ, and that in that sense it was conditional. Like any contract, which is what a covenant is, there are clauses, that render it null and void if the conditions are not met.

    Yes, that is precisely what I meant.

    I hesitate profoundly to call it heresy. I would be more prepared to say, that rejection of the covenant of works logically and consistently leads to heresy. Thank God, that the PR are not consistent.

    I agree. That’s why I said, “The Protestant Reformed Church ought to repent of this error, and for contributing to the continuing corruption of the gospel.” I also agree with Hoeksema/PRC that the covenant of grace only applies to the elect. As you pointed out, “Thank God, that the PR are not consistent.”

    Look up covenant anywhere in the Bible and it reeks of legality. In Deut God calls the ten commandments His covenant. There is nothing of relationship here.

    Yep. It’s pretty hard to miss! Of course, there is a “relationship” here. It’s just a legal, conditional relationship that can be severed. But I know what you meant — there is nothing of an unconditional “bond of friendship and fellowship” here.

    Finally, I find it odd that nobody has noticed that Christ is the only one to be a federal head under both covenants.

    I have to disagree with you on that point. Adam is the federal head under the covenant of works (that’s why through his “one offence judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation” Rom. 5:18 ), while Christ is the federal head under the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace is only gracious to God’s elect people because Christ perfectly fulfilled its terms (perfect obedience to the law) in our stead. If Adam wasn’t our federal head under the covenant of works, then he couldn’t have represented all mankind (apart from Christ), and his sin could not have been imputed to us.

    He cannot be one person with two natures, since a “nature” is not a person, and only a person can be the federal head of a race.

    I’m not sure what you mean by that. There is only one human nature (shared by billions of human persons), just as there is only one divine nature (shared by the three Persons of the Trinity). Yet, the second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, assumed a human nature in the Incarnation. Thus, there is only one Person, the Son of God, who possesses two distinct natures — human and divine. How does that preclude Him from being the federal head of elect mankind?


  21. Gus, I have to disagree with you on Herman Hoeksema’s rejection of the covenant of works. If you read carefully what Hoeksema says, it is worlds apart from what the Federal Visionists and folks like John Piper are saying. The FV view is that Law is somehow the Gospel, essentially. Their critical confusion is out and out heresy. While I would agree that the giving of the law is an act of mercy and grace, since the role of the law is to point out to us our sinfulness and point us to Christ.

    Hoeksema does not deny that God made a covenant with Adam. However, his objection is that the covenant is one that could have “merited” something for Adam. Even if Adam had not rebelled against God, according to Hoeksema, Adam could not have merited eternal life. What Adam had on earth was immortality, not eternal life in heaven. That is the distinction Hoeksema makes.

    In fact, in 1:313 Hoeksema specifically says, “Even though the first three chapters of Genesis do not mention the covenant, there can be no doubt that the relation between God and Adam was a covenant relation.” The essence of Hoeksema’s rejection of the doctrine of the covenant of “works”, however, is that it means that Adam could have “merited” eternal life for his descendants. “If the covenant of works theory were true, then Adam stood in a position in which he could attain to eternal life and glory and merit that same glory and life for all his posterity by obeying God’s command.” (Hoeksema 1:312).

  22. Roger Mann Says:

    Charlie wrote,

    The essence of Hoeksema’s rejection of the doctrine of the covenant of “works”, however, is that it means that Adam could have “merited” eternal life for his descendants. “If the covenant of works theory were true, then Adam stood in a position in which he could attain to eternal life and glory and merit that same glory and life for all his posterity by obeying God’s command.” (Hoeksema 1:312).

    If that’s the official PRC position, then it’s really quite pointless for them to “reject” the covenant of works outright, for that is merely a minority version of the covenant of works that other theologians have taken in the past. For example:

    “[God’s covenant with Adam] contained a promise; which was a promise of life, of natural life to Adam, and of a continuation of it so long as he should observe the condition of it; just as life was promised to the Israelites, and a continuance in it, in the land of Canaan, so long as they should observe the law of God; for neither the law of Moses, nor the law of nature, made promise of any other than of a natural life. Some divines, and these of great name and figure in the churches of Christ, think, and indeed it is most generally received, that Adam continuing in his obedience, had a promise of eternal life. I cannot be of that mind. There is, indeed, an ambiguity in the phrase “eternal life”; if no more is meant by it than living for ever in his present life, it will not be denied; but if by it is designed such a state of glory and happiness, which saints shall enjoy in heaven to all eternity; that must be denied for the following reasons…” (A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, 3.7)

    Of course, I don’t agree with that position. For Christ Himself answered the question, “what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?,” by saying, “if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17). Christ wouldn’t have been telling the truth here unless he was referring to “eternal life,” as the context makes clear. Moreover, on what basis did Christ “merit” eternal life for us, if it wasn’t on the basis of His perfect obedience to the law — that is, “keeping the commandments” in our stead? There is no other basis. Therefore, perfectly “keeping the commandments” merits eternal life. Thus, if (theoretically) Adam would have kept the commandments throughout his probationary period, he would have covenantally “merited” (pactum merit) eternal life, just as God’s law promises.

  23. speigel Says:

    @Gus: I’m not following the connection between Christ being born under the law and the two-person theory of the incarnation. Could you clarify that point a little for me. Thanks.


  24. Roger, I only quoted one sentence. Hoeksema lists several other objections similar to the one you mentioned in your post.

    I’m not saying I fully agree with Hoeksema but he does seem to have a legitimate point that only a divine man could merit anything from God. Adam was not divine.

    Charlie

  25. ray Says:

    As one within the PRC … there are many reasons why we reject the theory of a covenant of work’s.

    The main glaring reason is mainly because the definition of the covenant of works is based on hypothesis … that had Adam not sinned … he could have merited eternal life…. or if you do not like the idea of merit … had Adam not sinned … then he would have continued in a life everlasting.

    The whole idea of Christ is thrown out the window in this hypothesis. Most of you are bound by the Westminster Confession where the terminology and definition of God’s covenant of works is front and center.

    The PRC defines the Lord’s covenant as unilateral period … not bilateral … or unilateral and bilateral together.

    The PRC are not bound by the Westminster… while we have respect for the Westminster Confessions … we do reject the responses on the “covenant of works” … and with the “innocent party” response to divorce and remarriage.

    We confess and are bound by the Heidelberg, the Belgic, or the Canons of Dort… the Three Forms of Unity.

    I posted earlier our reasons why we reject the idea of defining God’s covenant of work’s and how we differ from the FV as to why.

    That some here would think that the PRC are on the road to heresy or are not consistent in our theology regarding the Lord’s covenant … well …. such babble isn’t worth a rebuttal…. we have dealt with such crap before. Our articles are out there for all to read …and unlike Dr. S. Clark. no funds are required to read them.

    The idea and usual terminology within theology for the idea of merit and conditions are damned by the PRC. The reasons why … show themself in part with Roger’s first response to Clifton … and then his second clarification response to Charles.

    To attach conditions and merit to man in any way by any method … well … we have enough church history to figure out what mess is made when these are advocated. That’s what happens when you tie conditions and merit to the Lord’s covenant.


  26. Ray, I have to agree that there seems to be a seed of works righteousness in the idea of the covenant of works. However, you’ll have to forgive me for asking why the PRC has lifted the doctrine of marriage higher than Moses? Even Jesus conceded that Moses allowed divorce, and presumably remarriage, because of the sinfulness of the heart. However, Jesus never says that such sins are unforgivable or that marriage is permanent when one of the parties breaks the covenant. Even Paul says that in the case of desertion the believer is not under further obligation.

    We’re all aware that Jesus said that marriage to a divorced man or woman is adultery and causes the other party to commit adultery. However, that depends on how you understand what Jesus said.

    I might also point out that the PRC prides itself on justification by faith alone apart from merits. But apparently one can “merit” salvation by not remarrying after a divorce?

    I might agree that there is no “innocent party” in a divorce. Both are sinners. However, it is often the case one party wants to save the marriage and the other party does not. In such cases the Christian is no longer bound.

    Charlie


  27. Law = Thou shalt not remarry after a divorce.

  28. Roger Mann Says:

    Charlie wrote,

    I’m not saying I fully agree with Hoeksema but he does seem to have a legitimate point that only a divine man could merit anything from God.

    I don’t see how that conclusion follows from the biblical evidence. Since God has freely promised eternal life to those who perfectly obey His law (Leviticus 18:5; Matthew 19:16-19; Luke 10:25-28; Romans 10:5; etc.), then those who perfectly obey His law have “earned” or “merited” or are “due” eternal life. Doesn’t Scripture plainly say, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” (Romans 4:4)? Is Scripture lying here? If not, then perfectly obeying God’s law “merits” eternal life according to the terms of the covenant, whether the one fulfilling the terms is divine or not.

  29. Roger Mann Says:

    Ray wrote,

    As one within the PRC … there are many reasons why we reject the theory of a covenant of work’s. The main glaring reason is mainly because the definition of the covenant of works is based on hypothesis … that had Adam not sinned … he could have merited eternal life…. or if you do not like the idea of merit … had Adam not sinned … then he would have continued in a life everlasting.

    Your “main glaring reason” flatly contradicts the numerous passages of Scripture that promise eternal life to those who perfectly obey God’s law (Leviticus 18:5; Matthew 19:16-19; Luke 10:25-28; Romans 7:10; 10:5; etc.). Since these verses are absolutely true, it necessarily follows that Adam would have received eternal life had he perfectly obeyed God’s law.

    That some here would think that the PRC are on the road to heresy or are not consistent in our theology regarding the Lord’s covenant … well …. such babble isn’t worth a rebuttal….

    The truth is more likely that you are unable to rebut the points that have been raised.

    The idea and usual terminology within theology for the idea of merit and conditions are damned by the PRC. The reasons why … show themself in part with Roger’s first response to Clifton … and then his second clarification response to Charles.

    “The reasons why … show themsef” in what I’ve said in what way? You have accused me of spouting “babble,” but you have yet to produce a coherent argument to refute anything I’ve said.


  30. Roger,

    I think you should show more charity to the PRC. Anyone reading their theology can see immediately that they stand against merits of any kind as a means of justification. Moreover, their doctrinal standards are the Three Forms of Unity, not the Westminster Standards. While there is harmony regarding the various Reformed confessions and standards–the Second Helvitic Confession, the 3 Forms of Unity, the Westminster Standards, etc., there is no one church or denomination that can lord it over the others precisely because the Scriptures are the final authority. We are not focused so much on the amalgamation of visible churches into one “catholic” church on earth as we are focused on the true “catholic” church, which is invisible and gathered in heaven around Christ.

    I would suggest that before you jump to conclusions about the Dutch Reformed tradition that you actually take time to read their standards. You might want to read Hoeksema before assuming you know his position.

    In particular, the PRC has made a convincing argument against the doctrine of the 3 points of common grace. Common grace is in essence a political argument used by Abraham Kuyper to help him in his secular office. It is not biblical. Common grace is irrational and leads straight back to Arminianism.

    Charlie


  31. From the Heidelberg Catechism:

    Second Part: Grace (Questions 12–85)

    Lord’s Day 5

    12. Since, then, by the righteous judgment of God we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, how may we escape this punishment and be again received into favor?

    God wills that His justice be satisfied;[1] therefore, we must make full satisfaction to that justice, either by ourselves or by another.[2]

    [1] Ex 20:5, 23:7; Rom 2:1-11; [2] Isa 53:11; Rom 8:3-4

    TOP

    13. Can we ourselves make this satisfaction?

    Certainly not; on the contrary, we daily increase our guilt.[1]

    [1] Job 9:2-3, 15:15-16; Ps 130:3; Mt 6:12, 16:26; Rom 2:4-5

    TOP

    14. Can any mere creature make satisfaction for us?

    None; for first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man committed;[1] and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it.[2]

    [1] Ezek 18:4, 20; Heb 2:14-18; [2] Ps 130:3; Nah 1:6

    TOP

    15. What kind of mediator and redeemer, then, must we seek?

    One who is a true[1] and righteous man,[2] and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.[3]

    [1] 1 Cor 15:21-22, 25-26; Heb 2:17; [2] Isa 53:11; Jer 13:16; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26; [3] Isa 7:14, 9:6; Jer 23:6; Jn 1:1; Rom 8:3-4; Heb 7:15-16

    TOP

    Lord’s Day 6

    16. Why must He be a true and righteous man?

    Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned should make satisfaction for sin;[1] but one who is himself a sinner cannot satisfy for others.[2]

    [1] Rom 5:12, 15; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 2:14-16; [2] Isa 53:3-5; Heb 7:26-27; 1 Pt 3:18

    TOP

    17. Why must He also be true God?

    That by the power of His Godhead[1] He might bear in His manhood the burden of God’s wrath,[2] and so obtain for[3] and restore to us righteousness and life.[4]

    [1] Isa 9:5; [2] Dt 4:24; Isa 53:8; Ps 130:3; Nah 1:6; Acts 2:24; [3] Jn 3:16; Acts 20:28; [4] Isa 53:5, 11; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Jn 1:2

    TOP

    18. But who now is that Mediator, who in one person is true God and also a true and righteous man?

    Our Lord Jesus Christ,[1] who is freely given unto us for complete redemption and righteousness.[2]

    [1] Mt 1:21-23; Lk 2:11; 1 Tim 2:5, 3:16; [2] Acts 4:12; 1 Cor 1:30

    TOP

    19. From where do you know this?

    From the Holy Gospel, which God Himself first revealed in Paradise,[1] afterwards proclaimed by the holy patriarchs[2] and prophets,[3] and foreshadowed by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law,[4] and finally fulfilled by His well-beloved Son.[5]

    [1] Gen 3:15; [2] Gen 12:3, 22:18, 49:10-11; [3] Isa 53; Jer 23:5-6; Mic 7:18-20; Acts 3:22-24, 10:43; Rom 1:2; Heb 1:1; [4] Lev 1:7; Jn 5:46; Heb 10:1-10; [5] Rom 10:4; Gal 4:4-5; Col 2:17; Heb 10:1

  32. qeqesha Says:

    Ray & ray,
    “I’m not saying I fully agree with Hoeksema but he does seem to have a legitimate point that only a divine man could merit anything from God. Adam was not divine.”
    Hoeksema’s view teems with confusion. God gave Adam a command, a Law to obey on pain of death. Therefore, to remain in fellowship with God Adam had to obey God’s commandment. Being in fellowship with God is eternal life. Hoeksema’s idea that “only a divine man could earn eternal life” would imply that only a divine man could fellowship with God. In other words Adam was defective by design! But the Bible says God created Adam in His own image and God and Adam would commune in the cool of the day!
    Hoeksema’s view mixes up the atonement and the covenant of works. It is true that only God’s Son(divine man) could save us! This is because Adam had sinned together with all the human race in him as federal head, and so no man could qualify to stand for us. God had to be incarnate, become a man, a second Adam to effect redemption. To take this and project it back to the covenant of works with Adam and assert “only a divine man can earn eternal life” is confusion.

    Denson

  33. Gus Gianello Says:

    Spiegel says,
    Gus: I’m not following the connection between Christ being born under the law and the two-person theory of the incarnation. Could you clarify that point a little for me. Thanks
    ______________________________________________________

    In clarification,
    It seems to me—am I wrong?== that in order to do justice to the biblical data concerning the doctrine of atonement, that must be a man as well as God. In other words not just have a human nature but BE a human being. How can a human nature be born under the Law? Gal 4.

    The typical incarnational formulation, based on the ecumenical councils is that Christ is “one person but subsisting in two natures.” At Clark’s death, his full position was unstated, BUT he was very sympathetic to the Nestorian position–historically stated. Most church historians now admit, that the usual classification of Nestorianism as heresy is a misstatement based on historical propaganda. Read Clark’s “Incarnation” to get all the arguments.

    Christ could not have been fully under the covenant of works unless he was fully man. “Nature” is a word for nothing.

    nes pas?

    Gus

  34. ray kikkert Says:

    Charlie … with respect to divorce and remarriage … you stated:

    “However, you’ll have to forgive me for asking why the PRC has lifted the doctrine of marriage higher than Moses? Even Jesus conceded that Moses allowed divorce, and presumably remarriage, because of the sinfulness of the heart.”

    As Christ stated that it was because of the hardness of man’s heart … but from the beginning … it was not so. What is Christ wanting us to acknowledge and do by His grace? … continue from Moses on because the hardness of men’s heart? … or to go back to the beginning where it was not so? The answer is obvious … the Lord hates putting away … and would have couples stay married and reconcile … or if one is obstinate then … that the other remains unmarried. The hardness of man’s heart does not void God’s intent for marriage. But like I said … your bound by the Westminster Confession which allows for this … the PRC does not. Like Christ said to the disciples … it is a hard saying … but it is the truth … nonetheless.

    you continue …” However, Jesus never says that such sins are unforgivable or that marriage is permanent when one of the parties breaks the covenant. Even Paul says that in the case of desertion the believer is not under further obligation.

    We’re all aware that Jesus said that marriage to a divorced man or woman is adultery and causes the other party to commit adultery. However, that depends on how you understand what Jesus said.”

    … what Jesus said is clear … excuses are required to muddy the water with the “it depends” response. It is pretty simple … you marry an adulterer … your living in sin… your an adulterer, you divorce and remarry … your living in sin … your an adulterer if you are disserted … so be it … but then you cannot remarry … such sins are not unforgiveable as you say … but then the person involved must turn from the sin by the grace of God … not continue in it … for such adulterers who continue in this the Lord states will not inherit eternal life.

    …you continue …”I might also point out that the PRC prides itself on justification by faith alone apart from merits. But apparently one can “merit” salvation by not remarrying after a divorce?

    I might agree that there is no “innocent party” in a divorce. Both are sinners. However, it is often the case one party wants to save the marriage and the other party does not. In such cases the Christian is no longer bound.”

    … we do not “pride” ourselves in our rejection of the idea of merit. That’s babble used to excuse one’s advocation of divorce and remarriage … which … as I stated before … is tolerated by the Westminster Confession … and thus by it’s membership. What were saying is … take a look at where this toleration has gotton you … mixed marriages, divorce and remarriage are rampant … children are reared in this crap. The one who wants to reconcile and keep the marriage who is rejected by their husband or wife … must remain unmarried. That is the hard saying … that is the hardline stance the PRC takes and by the grace of God … we will continue to sheild against this and attack it for the wicked crap it is , and the damage it causes many families. Only death … physical death can break that marriage bond.

    …you then stated… “Law = Thou shalt not remarry after a divorce.” … well it actually says thou shalt not commit adultery … and from that it follows that one who marrys another person who has been married and is either divorced , seperated … and marrys that person commits adultery. Inspired David is right … how I love Thy law … it is mine meditation day and night. This coming from an adulterer himself who had to endure many painful outworkings from the sin he committed. What David did in secret … his family did openly. Can we keep it … No … a man commits adultery in his heart when he lusts after a women … but by the grace of God …we flee from the sin … not come closer for a better look … so to speak… and continue in adultery.

  35. Gus Gianello Says:

    ray,
    that is one of the reasons I could never go to a prc church. I think you better rescind your invitation to me, to attend your church. You see, I am divorced, and remarried. To a nice Dutch Reformed girl. By the way, thats why I believe the three forms are inferior to the Westminster Standards. My first wife left me, when I embraced the Reformed faith, and refused to speak in tongues. Then while I was single, she remarried, thus according to the WCF committing adultery against ME, and setting me free.

    To answer your prejudicial question–Jesus does expect us to start from Moses. He did not affirm that the reason for divorce was no longer valid–sin is still extent. Read the exception clause, and the traditional reformed interpretation of 1 Cor 7. Paul says, that if they leave I do not say that you are bound.

    I have always found the PRC’s position, which admittedly is not novel to be problematic. In my estimation, with respect it is the essence of Phariseeism, where it binds men to heavy loads. I appreciated Nelson Kloostermann’s analysis of the WCF. Kloostermann who is with the Mid America Reformed, defended the WCF formulation. I could neverr understand victimizing the victims of divorce. Anyone who says that every party is guilty in every divorce is either naive or incredibly cruel. When for instance a Baptist ordained man, abandons his wife and six children, even though she begs him not to, to then demand that she stay single smells of Phariseeism.

    But, generally speaking I very much appreciate Hoeksema and the PRC.

    By the way, what do you do when a man who has been married twice gets converted? Do you demand that he leave the “adulteress” he is living with? The reason I ask, is that in my Charismatic years, I was member of a church which followed that policy religiously.

    Gus

  36. Sean Gerety Says:

    like I said … your bound by the Westminster Confession which allows for this … the PRC does not. Like Christ said to the disciples … it is a hard saying … but it is the truth … nonetheless

    Hi Ray. No reason to make the truth harder than it already is. I’m a little confused how you would understand Mat 5:32; “…but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Is the exception not an exception and I’m still confused how you get around this?

    Anyway, I love the PRC. I’ve greatly benefited from reading Hoeksema, Hanko, Engelsma, and other PRC theologians. I do have trouble with the PRC’s view of the CoW and marriage/divorce, but, hey, I’m currently attending a Reformed semi-baptist church. I say “semi” because the pastor told me I could still be a member as a paedobaptist, provided my understanding of baptism is covenantal. Needless to say I looked at him a bit puzzled, but he said they’re just concerned about the RC view of baptism. Relived, we still haven’t joined. I guess I’m just a Presbyterian at heart. 🙂

  37. ray kikkert Says:

    Roger states …”Your “main glaring reason” flatly contradicts the numerous passages of Scripture that promise eternal life to those who perfectly obey God’s law (Leviticus 18:5; Matthew 19:16-19; Luke 10:25-28; Romans 7:10; 10:5; etc.). Since these verses are absolutely true, it necessarily follows that Adam would have received eternal life had he perfectly obeyed God’s law.”

    … and like I said … all this is hypothesis and Christless. Reality is that God from before the foundations of the world … before man was even created … determined that Christ would save His elect. God determined that Adam would sin … Christ was not a plan B … or back up plan because the devil and man made hypothesis plan A … Adam ahving eternal life …impossible.

    Those verses only have reality in the fact that the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world would impute His righteousness to the elect … so that the Lord can say with all truth … that He does not see iniquity in Jacob.

    …you continue …”Truth is more likely that you are unable to rebut the points that have been raised.”

    …and also states…
    “ You have accused me of spouting “babble,” but you have yet to produce a coherent argument to refute anything I’ve said.”

    …well here is your original babbling statement …”The Protestant Reformed Church ought to repent of this error, and for contributing to the continuing corruption of the gospel.” As I said … I set forth our reasoning why we reject the covenant of works … your reply is that we are corrupting the Gospel. We reject it as something incidental to man’s life in relation to God … that this covenant is a means to an end, not the end itself … it’s not given with man’s creation … it is not a fundamental and essential relationship .. it’s an agreement supposedly afterman was called into being. This theoryis quite unworthy of God … as Hoeksema rightly puts it .. especially in light of what the Lord has to say regarding His covenant being everlasting and eternal. This theory presents the work of God as a failure. Let’s work out the hypothesis a tad more shall we? … If eternal life and glory could have been attained in the first man Adam, would God have chosen the long and deep way through the death of His Son?

    You can also read Prof. Engelsma’s entire article on God’s covenant relation with Adam.

    http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:gZkR5YtXqoIJ:www.prca.org/prtj/nov2006.pdf+adam+covenant+works+federal+vision+site:prca.org&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk

    …no fee is required … but you could back off on the “babylon5” reruns …

  38. speigel Says:

    @Gus: Thanks for your clarification. I’m sure more can be said. As I understand the theory, Jesus Christ is man, not God, though there is a special relationship between the God the Son and Jesus Christ. (This is at least how Robbins explains it.) Would you, Gus, then say that Denson is wrong in that Christ is a divine man and that God the Son became incarnate since the person, God the Son, didn’t become man.

  39. ray kikkert Says:

    Gus, my invitation stands to come by for worship … it’s not like your asking for membership in the PRC … your still welcome to worship with us. Like I said… you appeal to the WCF … I do not. On that basis you consider the 3 forms inferior … I reject such babble…. it’s more of an excuse to justify your present situation. So too … is the rail of Phariseeism … legalism is not the reason for the rejection … the love and protection of the flock of Christ is more like it.

    … in your attempt to pull at the heart strings … and make us out the bad guys… you stated…”Anyone who says that every party is guilty in every divorce is either naive or incredibly cruel. When for instance a Baptist ordained man, abandons his wife and six children, even though she begs him not to, to then demand that she stay single smells of Phariseeism.” … well …in the PRC …we look after our own … that is what the church of Christ is called to do … we do not leave the flock high and dry … to fend for themselves”

    Then you ask the question with the example …”By the way, what do you do when a man who has been married twice gets converted? Do you demand that he leave the “adulteress” he is living with? The reason I ask, is that in my Charismatic years, I was member of a church which followed that policy religiously.”

    …such is able to worship with us, as long as he is not disruptive …. but cannot have membership within the PRC.

  40. Roger Mann Says:

    Charlie wrote,

    Roger, I think you should show more charity to the PRC. Anyone reading their theology can see immediately that they stand against merits of any kind as a means of justification.

    I’m sorry, but it would be uncharitable to allow the PRC to remain in error on this point unchallenged. Standing against “merits of any kind as a means of justification” undercuts the entire gospel of grace! It is only by means of the “one Man’s obedience” (Romans 5:19) to the law that unworthy sinners are justified. We have been “justified by His blood” (Romans 5:9) precisely because He “merited” righteousness and eternal life for us through His sinless obedience to God’s commands. Moreover, without “merit” for perfectly obeying the law, there could be no “demerit” for disobeying the law. How could the “wages” of sin be death (Romans 6:23), without the just “recompense” for righteousness being eternal life (Matthew 19:16-17; Romans 4:4; 7:10; 10:5)?

    Moreover, their doctrinal standards are the Three Forms of Unity, not the Westminster Standards. While there is harmony regarding the various Reformed confessions and standards–the Second Helvitic Confession, the 3 Forms of Unity, the Westminster Standards, etc., there is no one church or denomination that can lord it over the others precisely because the Scriptures are the final authority.

    I haven’t even mentioned the Westminster Standards (some of which I disagree with), let alone “lord it over” others on this blog. My entire argument has appealed to Scripture, and Scripture alone!

    I would suggest that before you jump to conclusions about the Dutch Reformed tradition that you actually take time to read their standards. You might want to read Hoeksema before assuming you know his position.

    And you might ask me whether I’ve read anything by Hoeksema or other PRC teachers before “assuming” that I haven’t. As a matter of fact, I have. I’ve even debated Engelsma on this issue through a brief email exchange about two years ago, and his arguments were pathetically weak. I have benefited from his writings very much over the years; but on this issue he is dead wrong.

    In particular, the PRC has made a convincing argument against the doctrine of the 3 points of common grace. Common grace is in essence a political argument used by Abraham Kuyper to help him in his secular office. It is not biblical. Common grace is irrational and leads straight back to Arminianism.

    Yes, I agree with most of what the PRC teaches on common grace, and have read extensively on that issue.

    From the Heidelberg Catechism… Can any mere creature make satisfaction for us? None; for first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man committed; and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it.

    Yes, I agree with that 100%. But, of course, it has nothing to do with the question of whether Adam could have merited eternal life by perfectly obeying God’s law. The Heidelberg Catechism here is dealing with escaping God’s punishment and satisfying His justice for sin. But Adam was not standing as a mediator and redeemer of justly condemned sinners; he was standing as mankind’s federal head in a state of innocence before God’s law. It’s a comparison of apples to oranges. No one is claiming that Adam could have “sustained the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeemed others from it.” Thus, the fact remains: If Adam would have perfectly obeyed God’s law, he would have “earned” or “merited” eternal life for all mankind according to the terms of the covenant. For God’s Word plainly states:

    For Moses writes about the righteous which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” — Romans 10:5

    Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt [i.e., what is due]. — Romans 4:4

  41. ray kikkert Says:

    Sean wrote …”I’m a little confused how you would understand Mat 5:32; “…but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Is the exception not an exception and I’m still confused how you get around this?”

    … actually Sean … the exception and only this exception clause… of fornication is affirmed by the PRC…but divorce is to be diverted if possible… an attempt to reconcile the couple should be foremost … if this cannot be then they would remain unmarried … the ability to reconcile must always be there … if one decides to leave the other and continue in sin … then the other is to remain unmarried. Whoever marrys either of the 2 …commits adultery with them. The consistory would be active with the family throughout this whole ordeal… and church discipline would be active throughout as well.

    This would be why Gus has a problem … his wife left him … they could not reconcile … she later remarried … her new partner committed adultery with her … Gus then later remarried … and his new partner also committed adultery with him. According to Scripture …both are to remain unmarried. Only physical death can void the marriage vow. The ability for them to reconcile is pretty much out the window when remarriage takes place. Gus’ exception clause is that his wife left him and remarried… therefore he is free to remarry. No he is not.

    This whole idea is sidestepped with the innocent party clause in the WCF … it’s also why we have wholesale divorce and remarriage within reformed churches. It’s a loophole.

    Prof. Engelsma states it well …”The Scriptures draw the lines plainly. Marriage is a lifelong bond; divorce is forbidden, except on the ground of the sexual unfaithfulness of one’s mate; remarriage is forbidden until death separates the two. These lines make a narrow way into the Kingdom for men and women, as regards marriage; and it is not surprising that there are only few who find it. But this is the way into the Kingdom; no adulterer shall enter. This is what the church is called to preach, publicly and privately, and when we do, we are defending marriage in the face of the all-out assault on marriage today.”

  42. Cliffton Says:

    Dear Mann,

    Thank you for your response and the apparent zeal for the position you hold. But I must say that in this particular instance, your zeal is without knowledge. I’ll answer some of your comments and also speak to why most of your response is irrelevant.

    Cliffton: This revelation of God most necessarily comprehends the work of Christ in meritting salvation for the elect.

    Mann: Christ couldn’t have “merited” salvation for the elect apart from fulfilling the terms of a voluntary covenantal arrangement between Himself and the Father, since they are coequal members of the Godhead. Moreover, Scripture reveals that this covenantal arrangement was purely legal and conditional, as the agreed upon terms were for the Son to assume a human nature and submit Himself to the rigorous demands of the Law (the same covenantal/legal terms imposed upon Adam — which he failed to keep, meriting death for us all).

    Cliffton: You begin by asserting your position. Following your first sentence you begin the next with a “Moreover.” This adds nothing substantial to your assertion. For implicit in your first statement is all that you believe is comprehended in that second statement. The latter is a further explication of the former. So regarding your assertion, thank you for making it clear what you are asserting.

    This leads me to my first criticism however. It is clear you were opposed to what I wrote. But, by simply asserting your position and presenting it as an argument as to why what I said was wrong, you say nothing more than I am wrong because you are right. This will not do. In addition, implicit in your assertion is the idea that that which is legal is necessarily conditional. This does not follow. And all the texts that you refer to are supposed arguments in support of your premise. That is to say, because you believe that that which is legal is necessarily conditional, all the texts that speak of law, of justification, of covenant, necessarily imply the conditionality of the covenant. In this way, you assert the consequent. This will not do either. So in short, your references to Scripture are irrelevant until you demonstrate that your implied premise is correct.

    Mann: No matter how unintentional, defining God’s covenant as a “bond of friendship and fellowship” undermines the entire gospel of grace, and is the root of all manner of heresy. The Federal Vision is only its most recent manifestation.

    Cliffton: Again, you offer another assertion. Let me offer one as well. I believe that the Federal Vision is the necessary consequence of VanTil’s theory of knowledge and a definition of covenant that you are asserting here. I also believe that for both these reasons, much of the Reformed/Presbyterian church world is incapable of defending the Gospel of Grace. They are arguing against the necessary consequence of their premises. And may I also assert that I believe that many (if not all) of the conflicts in the history of the Reformed church world have been conflicts over whether or not we are to think of the covenant as a means to an end (conditional), or the end itself (unconditional), and, whether Thomas was right or Augustine was right (and in the contemporary scene, whether Vantil was right or Clark was right). Again, these are my assertions.

    Mann: …The covenant of grace is only gracious to us because the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled its conditional terms by perfectly obeying the Law and suffering its penalty in our stead. Praise God!

    Cliffton: Here, you are equivocating on the idea of the covenant of grace. Either the covenant of grace is conditional or it is unconditional. Further, an implication of your statement would be that Christ is not Head OF the Covenant, but rather Head IN the Covenant. This is also a distinction the FV makes to avoid identifying the covenant as being grounded in eternity and thereby to deny that the decree of election governs the covenant. The only way around this is to posit a third covenant, the covenant of redemption. Yet even here, when we come to the covenant of grace, Christ would still stand as Head and Mediator IN the Covenant and not as the Covenant Head. This provides the Arminians who call themselves Calvinists to argue for some sort of ineffectual grace within the covenant of grace, and, for some sort of “offer of the gospel.” And of course, we don’t want to find ourselves calling that Pelagian heresy back out of hell.

    Cliffton: I just don’t think Scriptures speak of the covenant as a means to an end. This necessarily makes the covenant conditional.

    Mann: Of course the covenant is “conditional,” which is why Adam earned death by his disobedience to the covenant law, and Christ merited eternal life for us by His obedience to the covenant law, as Romans 5:19 makes abundantly clear. Just as the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), obedience to the law merits eternal life.

    Cliffton: The Scriptures contradict you. The Scriptures define eternal life as the knowledge of God and the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:3). This ought to be definitive for anyone’s understanding of the supposed reward of eternal life that Adam would have received. This must fit into how we are to understand God’s relation to Adam.

    Mann: And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. — Romans 7:10

    Cliffton: If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law (Gal. 3:21).

    Cliffton: Christ is the Representative (legal) Head of the Covenant. He is the legal Head by sovereign divine appointment. And, He is the legal Head as the first born from the dead. God, in the order of the decree, has first appointed Christ as the first born of all creation, as the first born from the dead (Col. 1:15-18). As the first born from the dead, the decree concerning Christ as Head comprehends His satisfaction of law on behalf of the elect. Rev. 5:6 attests to this truth:

    “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb as it had been slain…”

    The resurrected Christ is first in the order of the eternal decree as a Lamb standing as one who had been slain. We are said to be in the Head in two ways, and only two ways, legal and intellectual. That legal relation we have to Christ as Head is also by sovereign divine appointment, which is to say, it is grounded in our eternal election in Christ. This is why the Scriptures make the claim that God has not conceived of iniquity in Jacob.

  43. Forrest Schultz Says:

    THE MEANING OF THE TERM “COVENANT”

    The term “covenant” is only a legal term. But Reformed people have been expandinging it to include more and more different things so that it is in danger of becoming meaningless. Consider, for instance, John Murray, who, in his booklet “The Covenant of Grace” defined it to mean “whole-souled commitment”!! This problem has resulted from the erroneous notion that the only kind of relationship God has with man is by means of covenant, which would mean God has ONLY a legal relationship with man! What malarkey!! (Almost as bad as some of the obfuscational FV stuff!!)

    Here is the truth and it is very simple to state. God’s relationship with man is multi-aspectival:

    Familial: God is our Father, we are His children
    Educational: God is our Teacher; we are His students
    Economic: God is our Employer; we are His employees
    Aesthetic: God is the Artist; we are His art work
    Lingual: God speaks to us in His Word; we speak to
    God in prayer.
    Legal: God is our Lawgiver and Judge

    OK — get the idea??!!

    Now if you are going to say that covenant is the only relationship we have with God, then the term covenant is going to have to be inflated to include all these other aspects.

    This is the root of the problem.

    Sincerely,

    Forrest

    P.S. Sean, I would have posted soemthing sooner but have been so outrageously busy with so much other computer stuff I never get around to visiting your blog!! You have got some great discussions going on here! F.

  44. Roger Mann Says:

    Ray wrote,

    … and like I said … all this is hypothesis and Christless. Reality is that God from before the foundations of the world … before man was even created … determined that Christ would save His elect. God determined that Adam would sin … Christ was not a plan B … or back up plan because the devil and man made hypothesis plan A … Adam ahving eternal life …impossible.

    Here’s what I wrote once again:

    Your “main glaring reason” flatly contradicts the numerous passages of Scripture that promise eternal life to those who perfectly obey God’s law (Leviticus 18:5; Matthew 19:16-19; Luke 10:25-28; Romans 7:10; 10:5; etc.). Since these verses are absolutely true, it necessarily follows that Adam would have received eternal life had he perfectly obeyed God’s law.

    The conclusion drawn here is a “good and necessary consequence,” not merely “hypothesis and Christless.” How can accurately quoting Scripture and drawing valid inferences from it be called “Christless,” without the charge itself being blasphemous? If you simply mean that the conclusion is hypothetical in nature, so what? Of course Adam couldn’t have actually attained eternal life by his obedience… Of course God infallibly ordained the fall… Of course God eternally decreed that Christ would redeem elect sinners. Again, so what? That doesn’t alter the fact that God promises eternal life to anyone who fully obeys His law. And since God cannot lie, it necessarily follows that had Adam (hypothetically) perfectly obeyed God’s law, he would have (hypothetically) merited eternal life according to the terms of the covenant/law. To argue against that, is like arguing that God’s promise to destroy Nineveh was a lie, because He had decreed their repentance and determined not to destroy the city from all eternity. Frankly, it’s absurd! The fact is, had Nineveh (hypothetically) remained in defiance, the Lord would have (hypothetically) overthrown the city.

    Those verses only have reality in the fact that the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world would impute His righteousness to the elect … so that the Lord can say with all truth … that He does not see iniquity in Jacob.

    No they don’t. They are solemn promises that the Lord must justly uphold for those who meet the terms. Take just one of the verses as an example.

    For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” — Romans 10:5

    This passage doesn’t limit the promise to Christ alone. It plainly states that the “man” who fully obeys God’s commandments “shall live by them.” Therefore, if Adam had (hypothetically) perfectly obeyed God’s law, he would have (hypothetically) merited eternal life according to the terms of the covenant/law.

    This theory presents the work of God as a failure. Let’s work out the hypothesis a tad more shall we? … If eternal life and glory could have been attained in the first man Adam, would God have chosen the long and deep way through the death of His Son?

    Talk about vain speculation… Sheesh! Yes, God would have, for that is precisely what He did. He ordained the Fall and Redemption through Christ, for that “option” brought Him more glory! You don’t like the way God chose? “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?” (Romans 9:20)

  45. ray kikkert Says:

    Roger responds … “If you simply mean that the conclusion is hypothetical in nature, so what? Of course Adam couldn’t have actually attained eternal life by his obedience… Of course God infallibly ordained the fall… Of course God eternally decreed that Christ would redeem elect sinners. Again, so what?”

    … you have me at a disadvantage Roger … what congregation of churches do you belong to? It might help me understand your misplaced zeal for the covenant of works.

    Also …since Clifton did a better job at refuting your basic premises … I would be interested in your reponses to his post. After all … I am unable to come up with a coherant argument that does not include using “so what” as my main rebuttal.

  46. Sean Gerety Says:

    … actually Sean … the exception and only this exception clause… of fornication is affirmed by the PRC…but divorce is to be diverted if possible… an attempt to reconcile the couple should be foremost … if this cannot be then they would remain unmarried ..

    Thanks. I had forgotten about this caveat. So, the PRC does permit divorce, but then the divorced person has to remain as if they were never divorced and not remarry. Wasn’t the whole idea of divorce breaking the marriage bond? But, if a person can’t remarry, then the bond isn’t really broken.

    I confess, this does not make any sense to me, because the exception allowing for divorce would be understood, both to Jesus’ immediate listeners and to us today, as permitting remarriage. What you’re describing is a separation that, admittedly, may last a person’s whole life, not divorce.

    Anyway, probably doesn’t make much sense going around on this, but this issue and H’s denial of the CoW are problematic for me. BTW, I once wrote a letter that was published in Standard Bearer on the issue of divorce and Prof. Engelsma was nice enough to respond. I didn’t really buy his reply either, so don’t feel bad. 😉

  47. Sean Gerety Says:

    Ray, or Cliffton, I do have one question.

    Suppose Mrs. PRC is married to a famous adulterous golfer and, with the help of her session, they try to reconcile, but to no avail. She divorces said golfer with the blessing of her session.

    A couple of years later after intensive sex-addiction therapy with Dr. Drew, the golfer and Mrs. PRC reconcile.

    Now, here is my question: Are they allowed to remarry each other?

  48. ray kikkert Says:

    Sean stated …”I had forgotten about this caveat. So, the PRC does permit divorce, but then the divorced person has to remain as if they were never divorced and not remarry. Wasn’t the whole idea of divorce breaking the marriage bond? But, if a person can’t remarry, then the bond isn’t really broken.”

    …yes …if there is no reconcilation on account of fornication … then a divorce can be put in place… but the initial hope is that a certificate of divorce is not required because the couple work’s it out.

    You know as well as I do that the fornicator who remains inpenitent will not stick around long …and as is the case … will continue down that path. His original spouse who cannot reconcile will need some certificate so that they can move on themselves as a single person in day to day life … where there status is asked for on forms and such.

    The hope is the 2 reconcile and remain committed to each other.

    I know what your saying and really … thinking about this … it is pretty sad … the state of our families. One is hard pressed where this has not affected one’s immediate family members. The PRC has had many sorrows, trials, and temptations to deal with as well… do not think were are unaffected because of the stance we take …it’s tough …especially when it involves one’s own family member … let alone church family member. More so I guess for ministers who see these problems come through their study door. My guess is that many minister’s have had to deal with such havoc coming through the study door… and why men like Prof. Engelsma take a firm stand. They deal with it first hand over the period of their ministry.

  49. ray kikkert Says:

    Sean states …”A couple of years later after intensive sex-addiction therapy with Dr. Drew, the golfer and Mrs. PRC reconcile.

    Now, here is my question: Are they allowed to remarry each other?”

    …my initial response is that it would take more than just outward therapy … there has to be a real , committed change of the heart, which only the Lord can do … that being said … if your scenario plays out … rip up the certificate and renew the marriage vows they made originally … in the eyes of the Lord, the congregation, there families … it is a renewal and recommitment.


  50. Regarding divorce and remarriage, it seems to me that raising Law above the Gospel is just another form papist theology. Of course sin is sin. But the real question is whether or not divorce and remarriage is an unforgivable sin? If so, then we’re still living under the law.

    That is not to say we have a “license” to sin. However, simply because Jesus identifies unfaithfulness as “adultery” does not mean that it is an ongoing sin for life. That’s legalism. Simply to look at a woman is adultery according to Jesus. And we shouldn’t forget that the patriarchs had several wives and concubines. Need I remind you that the Law and the Gospel are the same in the OT and in the NT? The simple fact is all sin and fall short of God’s holiness and therefore our justification and salvation is not based on sanctification but on the active and passive obedience of Christ.

    Call me an antinomian but I don’t buy it. There is only one unforgivable sin. I don’t believe remarriage is it. Of course, I disagree with serial marriage. Who doesn’t? But the bottom line is that salvation is by grace not by works. If divorce and remarriage is unforgivable we might as well all become Roman Catholics!

    Sanctification is what we do out of gratitude, not out of a need to justify ourselves before God.

    Charlie

  51. Sean Gerety Says:

    if your scenario plays out … rip up the certificate and renew the marriage vows they made originally … in the eyes of the Lord, the congregation, there families … it is a renewal and recommitment.

    Then you do believe in remarriage after divorce.

    Also, I don’t see why it couldn’t play out. Mrs. PRC is a vibrant beautiful young woman, and, being faithful to her church’s teachings, and what she believes is being obedient to God, her only choice is to reconcile with Mr. now repentant adulterer golfer (who, I forgot to mention is stinking rich) or remain celibate for the rest of her days.

    Your position allows for the exception to divorce in the case of infidelity and for remarriage provided it is with the original philanderer. Seems a bit incoherent to me.

    Normally, I would think it would be better to marry than to burn, but I guess she would have no choice outside of reconciliation post divorce but to burn.

    (BTW did you know it was Ronald Reagan who was the first governor to pass a no-fault divorce law?)

  52. Bob Suden Says:

    The problem with the PRC view of marriage is that it seems like they view it as or collapse it into their denominational distinctive of an unconditional/unbreakable covenant of grace, much more that marriage is a covenant with God.
    And since a covenant with God cannot be broken, much more that God never breaks his covenant with the elect – which is true re. election – they also assume that the marriage covenant cannot be broken. (I know there is exegesis that is cited in support of the doctrine, but the presuppositions don’t seem to be acknowledged as well.)

    One problem then would be that the unbelievers cannot marry/do not have valid marriages because only believers may covenant with God.

    But unbelievers may have valid marriages, hence marriage is not a covenant with God, but a covenant of which God is a witness, at least as Creator, though not perhaps as Redeemer, in that marriage is a creation ordinance established before the fall into sin.

    Again, if unbelievers do not have valid marriages, hypothetically upon conversion they should be able to marry somebody from the PR. Yet regardless of that and speaking of what might appear to be casuistry in the perjorative sense(?), if I remember correctly, the PRC had a case where Hoeksema’s granddaughter wanted to marry a guy who had previously been married to a divorcee.
    On the one hand, his first marriage shouldn’t have been valid according to the PRC and he should have been free to marry Candace H., but the PR said since the civil magistrate recognized the first marriage, it was valid and since CH’s fiance was then already married, the PR position kicked in and he couldn’t marry/get remarried to CH – or something like that to the best of my knowledge.

    That is not to say that the serial divorce and remarriage of the evangelical church is anything but a scandal. The rate is about the same as the unbelieving world. It is to the PR’s credit that they oppose this trend, but unfortunately they go to far in the other direction.

    Also it was my understanding that, biblically speaking, remarriage to one’s original spouse after divorce is only allowed when they haven’t been remarried to another partner in the mean time.

  53. ray Says:

    I take remarriage as marrying someone else other than your original mate. I am not really interested in a play on words per say. As for the legal aspect of it … you may very well have a point .. I am no lawyer.

    In the PRC we receive many such hypothetical “what if’s” …. reality isn’t as clear cut as the scenario above…. or the meager …eeking out a life scenario you place the woman under Sean … but your trying to make a case for remarriage … while I am not… as you say …I’m not buying it 😉

    As for Ronald Reagan … Is anybody really surprised a Holywood star would usher in such crap?

  54. Gus Gianello Says:

    Dear PRC fellows,

    Sorry guys, I smell hypocrisy. Your position pushes you into an untenable situation. I am divorced AND remarried. I am an adulterer, Paul says we are not to fellowship with any so-called brother who is an…adulterer. He also says, 1 Cor 15:33, “Evil companionship corrupts good manners.” I am an adulterer and a professing Christian, I am therefore a hypocrite and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Unless I “divorce” my second wife and live single and celibate, I have not repented..I am abiding in sin, therefore I am reprobate. 2 cor 13:5. Therefore, you are sinning by inviting me to your church.

    This is what I think….oh and by the way…sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me…

    You can make of my argument what you will, but it is nothing more than reductio ad absurdum. It is an argumentum ad hominem by reductio ad absurdum. Your position does not adhere to the WCF statement that Scripture shows its divinity by the “consent of the parts.”

    I am not looking for mercy, appealing to pity, etc., I am pointing out that by such a position you have unchurched EVERY victim of divorce. And unless this is the unpardonable sin, you do not have the right to. You’re like the exclusive psalmodists who accuse hymn singing Christians of idolatry and then quite inconsistently re-assure them that they will fellowship with them. Well, are hymn-singers idolaters or not? Is a re-married professing Christian an adulterer or not. Last time I read Rev 21 both are in the list of those who get sent to the Lake of Fire and brimstone.

    Regards,
    Adulterer Gus


  55. The problem with the PRC position is that it turns “case” law into the moral law. The two are not the same. It is essentially legalism and works righteousness.

    I do believe marriage is a covenant and a solemn vow before God. However, if the other party breaks covenant with God and with the original spouse, there is no more obligation or duty on the part of the one keeping covenant.

    For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. (1 Corinthians 7:14-15 ESV)

    If one partner leaves, especially without bibiical grounds, then the partner keeping covenant is not bound according to Paul. That’s clear cut and simple. Paul never adds anything that gives any other conditions. Those are all arguments from silence.

    The idea that the marriage covenant is absolute has more to do with Roman Catholicism than with Scripture.

    It’s based on the false assumption that those who remain in one marriage for life somehow merit something more than those who are shamefully divorced and/or remarried. Salvation always based on sheer mercy, not on remaining married. Even if we sin 777 times, God is still willing to forgive. Has no one ever heard of the perseverance of the saints?

    Placing a heavier burden on other sinners than you place on yourself has more to do with the Pharisees than with the Gospel:

    Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35 ESV)

  56. Daniel Chew Says:

    For what it’s worth, a recent sermon by Prof Hanko in which he gave as an example of Antinomianism is that of a woman fearing that if she prayed to God she would lose her salvation. (That is Legalism btw, not Antinomianisn!) The more I mix with PRCA folks, the more it seems that one side-effect of denying the Covenant of Works is that they mix-up Law and Gospel. The Federal Visionists makes Gospel into Law, whereas the way it seems to me, the PRCA makes Law into Gospel.

    I really wonder whether the PRCA preached the Law with its full power of condemnation against sin to its members. Or do they just preach the Law merely to ask people to cling to Christ? Are the members asked to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith, or are the “precious covenant children” assumed to be saved as long as they profess faith and do not commit any “serious sins”?

    I supposed I may have to check the PRCA archives. However, in my time in a church related to the PRCA (Prof Hanko is currently here to “aid” the church), I have not heard ONCE the Law being proclaimed from the pulpit and calling the people to greater holiness. Instead, all I have heard on that topic are variations of “we ae sinners, but nevermind God’s grace saves us so therefore all is fine”. Everytime Prof Hanko is here, he goes through the Canons of Dordt, while worldliness is more of a pressing issue here than legalism.

  57. ray Says:

    It’s obvious that most have a beef with the PRC over both the covenant of works and it’s stand against divorce and remarriage. Both sides have set forth their positions on both subjects.

    Gus complains of hypocrisy and plays the emotion card. Charles complains of legalism and plays the Phariseeism card. Sean has problems with the logical outworkings of Matthew 19:9… Roger complains of Gospel error … and now Daniel Chew… instead of posing these serious questions to Prof. Hanko while he is in Singapore … decides to rail him here with tail tucked neatly between his legs.

    What do you guys want from me… per say? Here is a brief run down of what I think you guys want from me in your responses.

    Gus wants me to accept with full church membership … a person/persons who is/are divorced and remarried … ( I assume they are somewhat repentant as to events that transpired that led to a divorce and remarriage previously) on the basis that this is not an unforgivable sin and also because of the sheer number of such people … they are thus unable to have church membership within the PRC …let alone worship in a PRC church. According to Gus’ view the PRC should welcome any divorced or remarried person/person’s both to church membership and worship on the main basis that the PRC are advocating hypocrisy if they do not. No real harm can come to the church as a body if they do this … and Gus is free to worship within the PRC … providing there aren’t any other problems Gus has with the PRC.(oh yes… I almost forgot … we will also have to bind ourselves to the Westminster Confession since it allows for divorce and remarriage and is a far superior confession than the 3 forms)

    Charles has a problem that this stance elevates works over grace. Thus in the PRC stance… the PRC are advocating works righteousness over grace in their rejection of allowing divorce and remarriage to take place and have these folks as members within the PRC. The PRC are in fact advocating arminian – semi-pelagian theology in their stance against divorce and remarriage. The idea of merit is firmly advocated in such a stance agaimst divorce and remarriage. The PRC then should allow divorce and remarriage because in doing so we are elevating grace over works … the idea of merit or works righteousness will vanish by allowing this …nor will we be quilty of arminian and semi pelagian error … all because of our allowance of divorce and remarriage.

    Seans complaint is that based on Matthew 19:9 the stance is actually illogical and troublesome … that remarriage actually is advocated by the text … regardless what the other clearer text’s within Scripture say and say clearly with respect to divorce and remarriage. Thus the PRC should allow divorce and remarriage based on the text of Matthew 19:9 alone. Nevermind the other text’s of:
    Mark 10:11, 12: And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

    Luke 16:18: Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

    I Corinthians 7:10, 11: And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

    I Corinthians 7:39: The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

    Romans 7:2, 3: For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

    Thus the PRC should disregard as essential exegesis these other verses and have Matthew 19;9 as our main logical stance.

    Roger says the PRC are guilty of Gospel error in rejecting the covenant of works. The PRC should instead adopt the covenant of works as the Gospel truth on the basis that created man can merit and preform good works that possibly could have inherited eternal life for Adam and his posterity conditional upon his obedience… instead of the pesky …long and deep road in which Christ needlessly had to inherit eternal life for man instead. The PRC will have to view God’s covenant as actually a means to an end … rather than the end itself …or eternal and everlasting for that matter.

    Mr. Chew will not be as fortunate as to receive a reply from me … I have instead… emailed Prof. Hanko with your statements here Daniel … along with your email address so that Prof Hanko can answer you directly … your serious charges and concerns against his preaching … providing he see’s the need to answer. This will go along way to hopefully rectify a problem in the Singapore churches with the PRC’s inability to preach the Gospel properly.

    If there is anything else I forgot … then please let me know … then I can forward a list over to the PRC seminary for the Prof’s to look over and get their responses … to these problems… since I am …but a member.

  58. Cliffton Says:

    Ray, keep the discussion on a theological level. And, thank God for individuals who in the history of the church, were “but a member.”

  59. Sean Gerety Says:

    Seans complaint is that based on Matthew 19:9 the stance is actually illogical and troublesome … that remarriage actually is advocated by the text … regardless what the other clearer text’s within Scripture say and say clearly with respect to divorce and remarriage. Thus the PRC should allow divorce and remarriage based on the text of Matthew 19:9 alone. Nevermind the other text’s of:
    Mark 10:11, 12: And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

    … I Corinthians 7:10, 11

    Ray, I’ll only speak to my point concerning the illogic of the PRC’s position. The problem with citing Mark and Luke is that the PRC already agrees that divorce is permissible in cases of infidelity.

    Where we disagree is on the question of remarriage and for the PRC remarriage IS permissible if it is to the original offending spouse under the presumption that the divorce wasn’t really a divorce in “the eyes of the Lord.” I fail to see how the PRC’s position on remarriage can be deduced from Matthew, perhaps because it can’t. Of course, we can’t take the other passages in Mark and Luke in isolation as if Jesus’ words in Matthew didn’t exist. Frankly, if the passages in Mark and Luke were all we had, then the PRC is sinning by allowing for divorce in the case of adultery.

    I don’t mean to pick on you, but it seems to me to be an untenable position exegetically and logically. That’s all. As you say, these are hard truths, but I don’t think it is wise to make these truths harder than they already are. It’s akin to creating new laws out of thin air.

    As for I Corinthians 7:10, 11, I did just want to focus just on the exception clause in Matthew for my own purposes — which was not to beat up on either you or the PRC. Besides, while I’m mostly an Irishman, my mother was a Petermann and I was baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church in Flatbush, NY. 🙂


  60. Ray, the PRC and the oneness pentecostals and the Roman Catholics all have in common the idea that there is some sort of state of “living in adultery.” I have not seen that in Scripture anywhere. It’s an argument from silence. The only unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

    Either we’re saved by grace alone or we’re saved by keeping the law. You can’t have it both ways.

    Charlie

  61. Daniel Chew Says:

    >Mr. Chew will not be as fortunate as to receive a reply from me … I have instead… emailed Prof. Hanko with your statements here Daniel … along with your email address so that Prof Hanko can answer you directly.

    I remembered the answer he gave when I first posed questions to him – utterly vacuous. He denigrated the entire entreprise of apologetics in an answer to just one question I had then innocently asked about one statement he has uttered in one of his talks on the uselessness of studying philosophy.

    I am fine with you sending him my “charges”. The only thing I hope is that he does not misinterpret what I say. I have heard enough tirades attacking the concept of merit without even understanding and addressing the Reformed understanding of merit. When someone consistently misrepresents the views of others (Reformed orthodoxy), you will excuse me for switching off. Having read Witius’ (Dutch Reformed) magnum opus, I am astonished how the PRCA can distort history to make it seem as if the Covenant of Works is a puritan invention when it is found in mainstream Reformed thought. (I guess the issue of Reformed versus the Puritans would probably be an interesting thesis for those studying historical theology to refute) Dr. C. Matthew McMahon, who has read many Reformed and Puritan works himself, isn’t too impressed with the PRCA’s understanding of historical theology, and I can understand why.


  62. Daniel,

    I knew “C. Matthew McMahon” in college. We were both in the Assemblies of God at the time. He was not one of the honor students. Also, his “doctorate” is from Whitefield Theological Seminary in Lakeland, Florida. It’s not an accredited seminary and they only have 3 maybe 4 professors. It is primarily a “distance learning institution” and leans toward Van Til and theonomy. There are none who advocate Gordon Clark’s apologetics or theology there.

    McMahon studied at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando where John Frame teaches. RTS is “loosely” Reformed since there is no solid commitment to the Westminster Standards. Their commitment and philosophy is rather to be more “broadly evangelical” so that they can draw students from other denominations, including Arminian ones. I heard the statement about being “broadly evangelical” from Simon Kistemacher, a professor emeritus there.

    Let’s put it this way: I’m not that impressed with RTS as a “reformed” seminary. I think there is a tremendous need for seminaries which teach “classical” Reformed theology, not all this modern higher criticism and modern theology crap.

    Heck, at Asbury, where I went to seminary (Wesleyan Evangelical) students are not even required to take Hebrew–just NT Greek.

    Charlie


  63. I’ve been to pastor’s conferences at RTS. The Wycliffe Hall lectures where I met J.I. Packer and Richard Turnbull. Kistemacher happened to be there and so was Mark Driscoll.

    I didn’t even know who Driscoll was until later.

    Oh, well.

    Let’s put it this way: I wasn’t impressed with any of them. I like my old redneck buddies better! Haha.

  64. speigel Says:

    @Charlie: “None” is an odd word being that Kenneth Talbot is at Whitefield and was a student of Gordon Clark’s and advocates much of his thought. Unless, of you course, you were referring to a time when Talbot wasn’t at Whitefield.

    Whether a school gets accreditation is dependent on the situation of the school and a lack of accreditation does not necessarily reflect badly on the school. Find and read Sangre de Cristo’s (founded by GHClark’s son-in-law) stance about accreditation.

    This isn’t the first time you’ve talk about McMahon through reference of his educational experience. But I’ve yet to see you actually deal with the merits of McMahon’s writings, outside his educational background, though I could have just missed it.

  65. Daniel Chew Says:

    @Charlie:

    yes, RTS is indeed “broadly evangelical” and “loosely reformed”. But it is not as if they do not teach Reformed doctrine there? Furthermore, McMahon in his writings shows that he is not “loosely reformed”. In fact, he is a strong advocate of Exlucisve Psalmody now, precisely the opposite of “broadly evangelical” and “loosely reformed”.

  66. Jim Butler Says:

    From Screwbaal, Trinity Review July 1998

    “Thankfully, today’s seminaries don’t require Clark’s works to be read (with the exception of Whitefield Theological Seminary; something must be done about that institution). And few if any “Christian” journals or “scholars” acknowledge his writings. There is still, however, this annoying fly of an institution: The Trinity Foundation, which is trying to reintroduce the thoughts of Clark and Christianity to the church.”

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=145

    jim


  67. McMahon is a theonomist. Need I say more???


  68. @spiegal,

    Kenneth Talbot is associated with theonomists like Gentry. I hardly think he is dedicated to Clark’s theology.

    Regarding McMahon, it is enough to say that his degree is not legitimate. He is not a doctor of theology and neither is R.C. Sproul, whose understanding of theology from my reading is far superior to McMahon’s.

    In fact, McMahon’s “denomination” is smaller than the PRC and essentially “sectarian.”

    I wouldn’t cite McMahon as an “academic” authority. Roger Nicole? Yes, McMahon, no.


  69. http://www.goodbirthministries.com/IntroducingDrGentry.php

    The idea that Talbot adheres to Clark’s theology is either irrational or outright wrong since Talbot is obviously enamored with those affiliated with Van Til and Bahnsen. Would anyone care to explain that one to me?

    Charlie


  70. Daniel, if you consider John Frame and Van Til “reformed” I guess RTS qualifies. If you think Arminianism is a legitimate part of Evangelicalism, then RTS is “reformed.” If you think Anglo-Catholics who deny justification by faith “alone” are legitimately “Christians,” then RTS Orlando is a wonderful Reformed Seminary.

    Then again, it just might be that RTS is just a precursor to the historical cycle of conservative seminaries which go liberal within 80-100 years of their founding. WTS is headed in that direction with its acceptance of the higher critical views of the OT and the NT. It’s just a matter of time.

    Charlie


  71. I met Frank James, the former president of RTS Orlando a couple of years ago. He was visiting a local Anglican Mission in American congregation which had just seceded from The Episcopal Church. The pastor and congregation were openly charismatic in theology and didn’t give a rip about justification by faith alone. Their whole focus is on the gifts of the Spirit.

    At the Wycliffe lectures of last year at RTS, Richard Turnbull of Cambridge University, where Frank James earned his doctorate, deliberately referred to “justification by faith” and failing to identify the doctrine as by “faith only” as the 39 Articles state it. In attendance at the conference sponsored jointly by Wycliffe Hall and RTS were numerous Anglo-Catholics who paid lots of money to be there. Of course J.I. Packer and Richard Turnbull, being the good Evangelicals they are, would not want to offend the heretics who provided the financial base for the conference.

    Yes, RTS is a wonderful, marvelous reformed seminary. I can’t wait to see what the future holds and I wonder what the legacy of Packer and Bray will hold for Evangelical Anglicanism?

    Charlie


  72. Their reasoning is as follows. Since the creature owes all obedience to God, and since there is an infinite distance between God and man; therefore, man’s obedience cannot merit anything from God. As Lusk writes, “The creature is indebted to the Creator for his very existence; the creature can never indebt the Creator, no matter how much he serves or obeys” (Auburn Avenue, 121-122). In other words, since man owes God everything, man can never make a claim on God. Consequently, Lusk, Shepherd, and many others reject the idea of a covenant of works.

    The problem with this is that they have not really rejected the covenant of works. They have rejected the idea of merit in the covenant of works, but so did the classic Reformed theologians. Thus, Francis Turretin writes, “Hence also it appears that there is no merit properly so-called of man before God, in whatever state he is placed. Thus Adam himself, if he had persevered, would not have merited life in strict justice…” (Institutes, XVII:v.7). This is clearly the doctrine of the Reformed confessions. The Westminster Confession of Faith says that man “could never have any fruition of [God] as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension” (7.1). The Formula Consensus Helvetica states that God “in this covenant freely promised [Adam] communion with God, favor, and life, if indeed he acted in obedience to his will” (emphasis mine, Canon 7). Whatever “different theologians” might have said, they agreed that this reward of eternal life was not a matter of simple justice.

    From Wes White’s blog at: http://johannesweslianus.blogspot.com/2007/12/merit-covenant-of-works.html

  73. speigel Says:

    @Charlie: Apparently you have an ax to grind (with McMahon and Whitefield) and the grinding prevents you from seeing clearly.

    Talbot is associated Crampton who is not a theonomist. What does that prove? Poisoning the well is an odd tactic.

    Talbot has acknowledged and praised Gordon Clark in some articles. In addition, Crampton has said that it was Talbot who introduced Crampton to GHClark’s works. It’s irrational and sloppy to say that Talbot doesn’t adhere to Clark’s philosophy.

    I’ve also heard that Robbins (and Clarkians) was sectarian. What does that prove? None of this has anything to do with the merits of the content of McMahon’s writings. But you seem bent on trying to ruin his credentials. This is similar as to how some critics have talked about Robbins’ educational background. Robbins didn’t think highly of such tactics.

    The idea that Talbot adheres to Clark’s theology is either irrational or outright wrong since Talbot is obviously enamored with those affiliated with Van Til and Bahnsen.

    If you adhered to Clark’s theology you would be Presbyterian. You’re not Presbyterian, therefore you don’t adhere to Clark’s theology. In addition, what does your link to Gentry prove? That Gentry studied under Talbot and therefore Talbot doesn’t adhere to Clark’s philosophy since Gentry associated with Bahnsen? So what? Samuel Frost adheres to hyper-preterism. Samuel Frost also studied under Talbot, therefore Talbot must be advocating hyper-preterism? But this is invalid and unsound since Talbot strongly argues against hyper-preterism. Again, poisoning the well and ax grinding prevents you from seeing clearly.

    I hope your next post on Talbot, Whitefield, or McMahon would be more substantial. In fact, I hope you wouldn’t post about them in the same fashion as you have before. But this isn’t my blog and I can’t control your motives.

  74. Bob Suden Says:

    OK, so I am chiming in here, but as has been pointed out and it bears repeating:

    The Westminster Confession of Faith says that man “could never have any fruition of [God] as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension ” (7.1).

    IOW the PRC, Hoeksema et al who have a beef with the CoW need to read the manual. Nobody denies the fact that God does not owe anything to anybody. Never has and never will.

    Rather as WCF 2:2 says,

    “He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things;
    and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleaseth. . . .
    To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.”

    But when he freely and voluntarily lowers himself to enter into an agreement or covenant with man in which all parts of the same were dictated and arranged by him, it is a completely different matter.

    And since God cannot lie and has bound himself by his word, eternal life was the reward to Adam if he kept the covenant.

    IOW the objections/reactions to the historic and confessional CoW are generally an over reaction and a mischaracterization of the doctrine by the objectors, which doesn’t say much for their credibility or the substance of their objections, which includes the PRC.

  75. ray kikkert Says:

    Cliffton writes …”Ray, keep the discussion on a theological level.” … that was initially done … but as we see … doctrine does dictate one’s lifestyle and living. That’s the way it should be … not one’s lifestyle and living dictates one’s doctrine… that’s why we have problems in the first place … and that is why we have folks advocating divorce and remarriage … mainly because … their lifestyle’s and style have dictated their doctrine … not the other way around.

    If you could help in response to these problems … it would be appreciated … maybe you have more clarity where I have not been. That would help.

  76. Sean Gerety Says:

    doctrine does dictate one’s lifestyle and living. That’s the way it should be … not one’s lifestyle and living dictates one’s doctrine… that’s why we have problems in the first place

    That’s not really fair Ray. I certainly have not argued that lifestyle dictates doctrine, I just am concerned that the doctrine that is dictating lifestyles is biblical. In this case I’m not convinced that it is and for some of the reasons already given.


  77. Smeagal,

    You’re obviously enamored with denominations, much like the theory of “christendom” held by Rome. I suppose you can be “reformed” and kiss the pope’s ring?

    If you were reformed, you would know that all the reformed confessions emphasis the visible church as a local congregation, not one’s denominational affiliation.

    Furthermore, there is no more biblical evidence for presbyterian polity than for episcopal polity. I.e., neither polity is strictly biblical and is more traditional than anything else.

    Regarding associations, the biblical mandate is to separate from those who preach another gospel. Theonomists in my opinion are no better than the Federal Visionists, the Arminians or the Anglo-Catholics. They are all wolves masquerading as preachers of the gospel.

    Hope this clarifies things as to where I stand.

    Charlie


  78. I might add that blogs are for discussion of bible and theology and “opinion.” This is not the place for academic papers and formal rebuttals. I don’t need anyone’s approval to state what I see as bare facts. You’re welcome to your own opinion.

    The fallacy that I must answer every possible objection Smeagal raises is ridiculous at best.

    Charlie


  79. Regarding the divorce and remarriage issue, the exegesis of the passages in question nowhere mentions the sin of “living in adultery.” That would be eisogesis.

    Also, it seems to me that sanctification is the matter we’re dealing with in divorce and remarriage, not justification. The law says, “Thou shalt not.” But Jesus said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” While we can judge that certain actions are sinful, Jesus raises the standard so high that no one can possibly meet it and then he says that if you teach anyone anything less, you deserve hell. The purpose of the law is first and foremost to show that you’re a low down dirty sinner, not to show you how sanctified and great you are.

    This is Reformed theology 101. Everyone ought to know from the get go that we are all adulterers even if we have never acted it out in behavior. To look at woman wrongly is adultery. To think about divorce is adultery. Everyone falls short of the demands of the law. But the Pharisees would have us believe that they are somehow “holier” than everyone else.

    It’s legalism whether it’s the PRC view of divorce and remarriage or the theonomists emphasizing judicial law as one and the same as the moral law–which is exactly opposite of what the reformed confessions unanimously teach against.

    Sanctification is always imperfect, though it is inside our hearts. Justification is solely and completely objective and outside of us.

    The whole point of the law is not that you can be holy but that you have a duty that you never quite live up to!

    Charlie

  80. Sean Gerety Says:

    If you were reformed, you would know that all the reformed confessions emphasis the visible church as a local congregation, not one’s denominational affiliation.

    Hypothetically, suppose you were a member of a local RC church, one which oddly preached the true gospel, would you be un-Reformed for leaving this particular local church? Whatever happened to “come out from them and be ye separate”?


  81. The trouble with theonomists is they are irrational. They sign stupid documents like Evangelicals and Catholics Together, romp with charismaniacs, laud the Manhattan Declaration, and other compromises of the Gospel. Is it a coincidence that theonomists tend in the Federal Vision direction?

    Theonomy leads straight back to the polluted theology of Rome. So, yes, I have an ax to grind.

    Charlie

  82. ray kikkert Says:

    Seans writes …”Ray, I’ll only speak to my point concerning the illogic of the PRC’s position. The problem with citing Mark and Luke is that the PRC already agrees that divorce is permissible in cases of infidelity.”
    … and the PRC’s point is that the exception of Matthew 19 does not void/contradict and nullify the text’s I sent through… it does so in conjunction with Matthew 19.

    Sean wrote …”Frankly, if the passages in Mark and Luke were all we had, then the PRC is sinning by allowing for divorce in the case of adultery.”
    … and we would agree there Sean … just as if Matthew 19 was the only verse of exegesis we had … then we also would advocate remarriage … but we cannot because of the clearer texts sent through in conjunction with Matthew 19.

    Charles wrote … “Ray, the PRC and the oneness pentecostals and the Roman Catholics all have in common the idea that there is some sort of state of “living in adultery.” I have not seen that in Scripture anywhere. It’s an argument from silence. The only unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.”
    … the PRC does not view adultery as the unforgiveable sin … it is forgiveable … and the Lord works repentance in the lives of those whom He has also justified … and that is where the rubber hits the road. Man does and will fall into sin many times in life … we are unrepentant and disobedient … in sovereign grace we cling to Christ and His imputed righteousness. The example of King David was used … David was a sinner, an adulterer, had multiple wives … he …with a contrite heart and broken spirit confessed his sins … his heart was not hardened … yet in spite of this he too continued to sin with his multiple wives which he had including Bathsheba… and there would be consequences that would show themselves because of this. This does not negate what the Lord says about adultery and all sins within Scripture. The danger we must by the grace of God understand is the same thing the Lord tells us in Matthew 23 in His judgement of the Pharisee’s and scribes. They sit at Moses’ seat … all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; (and here is the qualifier) … but do not after their works: for they say, and do not. The PRC are railed stating hypocrisy, Phariseeism, work’s righteousness … are we advocating what we do because our intent is to inflict heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders … while we ourselves will not move them with one of our fingers??? …Do we advocate what we do to be seen of men??? … Do we want to revel in being called Master’s of theology proper … superior to our brethren elsewhere in the church militant??? … do we turn the grace of God into lasciviousness … that sovereign particular grace of God … that is the principle reason for establishment of the PRC from the CRC??? ….

    Then … God damn me … and the PRC as a whole … we are fools and blind… if this is our premise in rejecting divorce and remarriage … or the covenant of works … for that matter.

    It’s simple to type words on a blog … the proof of the wisdom of the words cited is whether by the grace of God we can stand by them in honesty and humility…. for the glory of God and His church … that being our goal.


  83. Sean,

    So if separation is necessary, why are you still in the PCA? The PCA is only steps away from going in the same direction the PCUSA went.

    Denominations are essentially secular organizations with little to no authority to actually do anything about heresy. The PCA and the OPC are proof enough of that by you own admission.

    Furthermore, the 39 Articles demonstrate well enough that the Anglican churches are to be Reformed, not Anglo-Catholic. The church I attend upholds the 39 Articles. While it is true that the Anglican Communion is apostate, it is just as true that there are apostate congregations in the PCA and the OPC.

    Denomination means absolutely nothing. The only “catholic” church is the communion of saints gathered around Christ in heaven. It’s a spiritual and invisible church. All this silliness about “orthodox” denominations is a fleeting illusion. I judge individual congregations on a case by case basis because there is no guarantee that their confession is actually upheld or that Scripture and the Gospel are rightly preached simply because of the label on the church sign.

    Charlie


  84. Ray, be careful what you ask for. God might damn you and the PRC if you think you’re law givers. There is nothing in Scripture that says that divorced cannot remarry in the Lord. You want to add to the book of the law. That’s called Phariseeism.

    Charlie


  85. Sean, your hypothetical is for all practical purposes impossible given the polity of the Roman Catholic system.

    However, it is still possible to be a Reformed congregation within the Anglican system. How much longer I do not know but it is still possible at the present time.

    Frankly, I’m not impressed with Evangelicalism at large. Ravi Zacharias seems to think the Manhattan Declaration is the Gospel. The PCA is open to “broad” evangelicalism rather than teaching reformed theology. And the OPC seems to think there’s nothing wrong with theonomy.

    As I said, there is no place to go denominationally. The best one can hope for is to find a congregation where the Gospel is preached and the sacraments are rightly administered.

    Maybe the situation was similar in the Protestant Reformation? And maybe that’s why all the confessions emphasize the local congregation as the source of authority, not the denominational hierarchy!

    Charlie

  86. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean,

    So if separation is necessary, why are you still in the PCA?

    I (sadly) left the PCA over a year ago. I explain why in my little book.

    Also, I agree that Christians ought to leave the OPC as well. In their case there can be no debate since there is court precedent affirming the teachings of Shepherdite John Kinnard as being within Confessional bounds.

  87. speigel Says:

    @Charlie: So now you’re calling me “Smeagal”? Maybe I should start making jokes about your mother.

    Apparently you’re blind to see that I was using you’re bad use of logic against you. My point about presbyterian polity was not about presbyterian polity. More evidence of you neglecting Clark’s philosophy?Feel free to continue to use whatever invalid methods you have to reach your conclusions about McMahon and Talbot.

    You should also notice that the ax to grind I was talking about was with respect to McMahon and his educational background (and Talbot) not theonomy. All I see is that your opinions mark some personal vendetta against McMahon. Learn to argue the merit of someone’s work and not use some mediocre tactic.

  88. Sean Gerety Says:

    Everyone please play nice. Thanks.

  89. ray kikkert Says:

    Charlie wrote …”Ray, be careful what you ask for. God might damn you and the PRC if you think you’re law givers. There is nothing in Scripture that says that divorced cannot remarry in the Lord. You want to add to the book of the law. That’s called Phariseeism.”

    …then God judge between you and I … and I’ll leave it at that.

  90. Cliffton Says:

    Regarding the PRC’s (Scriptural) understanding of the doctrine of marriage, it is interesting how Paul uses marriage to speak to our salvation in Christ in Romans 7. And it is also interesting to note that to advocate the position as set forward in the WCF results in a denial of the Gospel, per Paul’s argument. Let me try to explain.

    Romans 7:1 teaches that the law has dominion over man as long as he liveth which implies the corresponding judgment of the law relative to those who have violated it. Paul then uses the doctrine of marriage to establish his point.

    Romans 7:2 teaches that the woman is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth. But, if the husband dies, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

    Paul deduces the necessary implication of Romans 7:2 and concludes in 7:3-

    “So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law: so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”

    Paul, applying these truths, picks up his argument from verse 1 and concludes in verse 4:

    “Wherefore…ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another…that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

    Paul’s point is that we were at one time under the rule of the law and its dominion. Christ as our legal representative came as one “born under the law,” and, having our sins reckoned to His account, He bore the corresponding judgment of those sins, that which the dominion of the law implied. He placed Himself under (in submission to) the dominion of the law, and that as our legal Head. In so doing, he slew the law by fullfilling it both in its precept and penalty. That is, he put to death death, he put to death the judgment of those sins, that very judgment which is implied in the law having dominion over us. That “husband”, that dominion of law has been put to death. We, as those who were once under that dominion, have been freed from that law, in order to be married to another man, the Last Man, the Second Adam, “to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:4). “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law (that dominion and its corresponding judgment which our first husband had over us), did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death” (v.5). Now however, we stand no longer in the position of being under the law, but rather, under grace. Therefore, sin shall no longer have dominion over us (Rom. 6:14).

    Now, if Paul allowed for a woman to divorce her husband and marry another while her husband was still alive, Paul could not say in verse 3 that such a woman shall be called an adulteress. The way Presbyterians have attempted to get around this text and its implications for the doctrine of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, is to say that the guilty party is reckoned as dead, and therefore the innocent party is free to remarry. This poses a couple of problems for Paul’s argument.

    1. If the guilty party is reckoned as dead, and the wife is free to remarry, on what grounds could the guilty party be denied the privilege of remarriage…particularly in view of the innocent party’s remarriage? In this instance, if the wife is no longer bound by the law to her first husband, on what grounds (legal?) could we say that the husband is still bound. And bound to what, to who? It was the law that bound the two together. FWIW, this notion of guilty party/innocent party as it has respect to remarriage has resulted in the church permitting both parties to remarry. Oh, I forgot to say, permitted on the conditon that they “repent.”

    2. The innocent party IS NOT COMMANDED to divorce the guilty party. So now, per Paul’s argument, we can claim that though the guilty party is reckoned as dead, the innocent party may remain married. This is tantamount to saying that though we be dead to the law (on account of the work of Christ), the law still has dominion over us. The believer’s relationship to Christ would now be reckoned as an adulterous relationship, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to [her] husband so long as he liveth” (Rom. 7:2). “So then if, while [her] husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress” (v.3).

    3. To claim that one can divorce and marry another while the spouse remains alive (contra Rom. 7:2-3), is to imply per Paul’s argument, that we may sin that grace may abound. If the sin of adultery merits the right to be reckoned as dead, let us sin that we may be legally permitted to marry another. For being reckonded as dead, there no longer is that law to which we were once bound. This applies to both the “innocent party” and the “guilty party”. For there is one law, and the law teaches that God has made the twain one.

    Indeed, the doctrine of marriage is a matter of salvation. A false doctrine of marriage stands in a direct relation to a false doctrine of salvation. God will not be mocked, adulterors will not inherit the kingdom of God.


  91. The letter of Law brings death. The Spirit gives life.

    By Clifton’s argument, we are still under the law and you’d better keep all of it and not get divorced and remarried. That’s not “repentance.” I guess repentance by that definition is to turn back to the law.

    I think Reformed folks could learn much from reading Luther on the Law and the Gospel. If you want to return to slavery, be my guest!


  92. Theonomy and Clark are about as compatibile as logic and Van Til. The fact that Talbot and Gentry are doing lectures together is proof enough of Talbot’s compromise. Heck, why not go the whole nine yards and invite Piper, Wilson and Leithart to town.

    Naw, that’s not really compromise.


  93. Sean, I wasn’t aware that you had left the PCA. Sorry about that.

    There is no perfect congregation or church. However, for the present at least I can teach and preach and try to reform this congregation. How much headway we’re making I don’t know.

    My major complaint with my rector is he’s a 4.5 point Calvinist according to him.

    They take the sufficiency in the atonement thing too far.

  94. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m sorry Cliffton. I’m not following. How does anything you wrote pertain to Matthew and Jesus’ teaching on divorce in the case of adultery? Or even the PRC’s doctrine which allows for divorce and remarriage in the case of adultery but only remarriage to the guilty party?

    Do you believe with Ray that in such cases the divorced couple were never really divorced? If so, why call it divorce? It seems to me that the PRC really doesn’t allow for Jesus’ exception at all. Death is the only thing that qualifies as a divorce. Outside of that, the marriage bond remains and divorce in the PRC is, well, a word signifying nothing. Isn’t this sort of binding extra biblical? If not, where is the argument?

  95. ray kikkert Says:

    Sean said …”That’s not really fair Ray. I certainly have not argued that lifestyle dictates doctrine, I just am concerned that the doctrine that is dictating lifestyles is biblical.”
    … that’s a good concern … one I share with you for sure … though we are at odds as to what grounds there are (or are not)… for remarriage … which then will lead to lifestyle and living whether for us or immediate and church family and neighbors we interact with.

    …Cliffton wrote …”Now, if Paul allowed for a woman to divorce her husband and marry another while her husband was still alive, Paul could not say in verse 3 that such a woman shall be called an adulteress. The way Presbyterians have attempted to get around this text and its implications for the doctrine of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, is to say that the guilty party is reckoned as dead, and therefore the innocent party is free to remarry. This poses a couple of problems for Paul’s argument.”

    …that’s a good and legit point Cliffton … and because of this statement by the Westminster … it directly affects one’s lifestyle and living … I guess that’s the point I am making…

  96. Sean Gerety Says:

    that’s a good and legit point Cliffton … and because of this statement by the Westminster … it directly affects one’s lifestyle and living … I guess that’s the point I am making…

    It might be a good point, but irrelevant as far as I can tell to our discussion of Matthew 19 and the logical coherence of the PRC’s doctrine concerning divorce and remarriage.

  97. ray kikkert Says:

    Matthew 19:9 …”And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery:and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

    Mark 10:11, 12: And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

    Luke 16:18: Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

    I Corinthians 7:10, 11: And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

    I Corinthians 7:39: The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

    In the example you gave between Mrs. PRC and Mr. PRC golfer who committed fornication who eventually reconcile … I agreed that in the first attempt to reconcile … it was not forth coming obviously because of the husbands hardness … the women could get a certificate of divorce …but later on the husband does wish to reconcile … to which you asked if they could remarry. I stated that if genuine and consentual … that they could renew the marriage vows.

    You then stated that then Ray does in fact… advocate remarriage after divorce as long as it is with the original husband. To which I agreed. The text’s above give this as the only exception in which all things being equal … this could happen.

    The problem you have I guess is that well if Ray says that…. then the PRC is making an allowance for divorce and remarriage … when we say we do not.

    In looking at all the verses … the point that Christ makes in all these text’s is that Mrs. PRC may get a certificate of divorce if MR. PRC fornicates and does not want to reconcile. But if both Mrs/Mr. PRC remarry another person … then both Mrs/Mr. are adulterers.

    In your view of Matthew 19 you take the “and shall marry another” … as to be implying that Christ says that it is okay for Mrs. PRC to remarry another person because MR. PRC fornicated. Mrs. PRC can get a certificate of divorce and remarry someone else becuase you take that clause as affirmative to Mrs. PRC remarrying.

    I said …no … because the other texts make it clear that remarriage to another person is adultery. The texts do not state that remarriage to one’s origical partner is adultery because Mrs. PRC got a certificate of divorce after the 1st attempt at reconcilation with Mr. PRC and now after the 2nd attempt they do reconcile and renew the marriage bond.

    This is where you scratch your head right? 🙂 Mainly because you say … well Ray … if Mrs. PRC gets a certificate of divorce because he committed adultery and would not reconcile … then Mrs. PRC cannot marry Mr. PRC because that would be a remarriage.

    Maybe I have been tackling this wrong … because the Lord says the wife (or husband) is bound by the law to her husband (or his wife) as long as her husband (or his wife) lives. Only death dissolves the bond. Adultery does not dissolve the marriage bond. Emphatically, adultery does not have the power to dissolve the marriage bond.

    Then also a divorce certificate does not dissolve the marriage bond either because Mrs/Mr PRC are still within that same origical marriage bond…despite all the attempts to rebell against it.

  98. ray kikkert Says:

    snobby Bob wrote …”IOW the PRC, Hoeksema et al who have a beef with the CoW need to read the manual.”

    …and followed it up with this ….

    “IOW the objections/reactions to the historic and confessional CoW are generally an over reaction and a mischaracterization of the doctrine by the objectors, which doesn’t say much for their credibility or the substance of their objections, which includes the PRC.”

    … to which I respond … that while your at it … you might as well put Hodge and Murray on your hitlist as well.

    When Hoeksema … in his dogmatics 1966 …dealt with the covenant of works …he first quoted what Hodge stated regarding this covenant view. Hoeksema then lists 6 main points of the COW from COW confessors themselves… Hoeksema was clear that the Irish Articles of Religion Art 21 … and WCF 7.2 mention the COW … while the 3 forms of unity … Hoeksema’s confessional base … do not.

    44 years later we receive your latest definition of the COW. While you may have some credence for reprimanding fellow WCF confessors …. why Hoeksema is on your hitlist … is but a sucker punch … which I do not like seeing anybody really receiving … so I usually respond to such snobbery.

    You and MR. Chew would get along quite well I think 😉

  99. Sean Gerety Says:

    Only death dissolves the bond. Adultery does not dissolve the marriage bond. Emphatically, adultery does not have the power to dissolve the marriage bond.

    Then also a divorce certificate does not dissolve the marriage bond either because Mrs/Mr PRC are still within that same origical marriage bond…despite all the attempts to rebell against it.

    Sorry Ray. Divorce does dissolve the marriage bond. That’s what the word divorce means.

  100. ray Says:

    Sean writes …”Sorry Ray. Divorce does dissolve the marriage bond. That’s what the word divorce means.”

    Well that being the case then … Mrs. PRC can separate from Mr. PRC without getting a cert. of divorce … whether the civil majetrate or her hardened husband want one. While the ability to get a cert. of divorce is possible … it is not mandatory.

    Queen to B3 🙂

  101. ray Says:

    Sean writes …”Sorry Ray. Divorce does dissolve the marriage bond. That’s what the word divorce means.”

    Well that being the case then … Mrs. PRC can separate from Mr. PRC without getting a cert. of divorce … whether the civil majetrate or her hardened husband want one. While the ability to get a cert. of divorce is possible … it is not mandatory.

    “Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the final termination of marriage, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between married persons. In most countries divorce requires the sanction of a judge or other authority in a legal process.

    In western countries, a divorce does not declare a marriage null and void, as in an annulment, but divorce cancels the marital status of the parties.”

    Queen to B3 🙂

  102. Sean Gerety Says:

    In western countries, a divorce does not declare a marriage null and void, as in an annulment, but divorce cancels the marital status of the parties.”

    Do the rules of language also change in the PRC? If a marriage is null and void it is canceled. What do you think the phrase “null and void” means? An annulment is something that allows papists to remarry in their make-believe church by pretending that the person wasn’t really married to begin with. In both cases the marriage is considered “null and void”; canceled.

    You’re not playing chess Ray, you’re straining gnats.

  103. Sean Gerety Says:

    Oh, and where did this “mandatory” idea come from? No one has ever said or implied, Jesus included, that divorce is mandatory in the case of adultery.

  104. Daniel Chew Says:

    >You and MR. Chew would get along quite well I think

    Wow, and are you a PRCA minister? Ad-hominem and red herring argumentation does not help to prop up your case. I tell you what: when you PRCA types can properly represent the historic Reformed position on the CoW, then at least I will give it a hearing. So far, the strawmen argumentation against concepts like “merit” is simply hilarious.

    Of course, you can also interact with Herman Witsius and his magnum opus on Covenant Theology, and explain to us why a prominent Dutch Reformed pastor-theologian in the 17th century does in fact teach the Covenant of Works. I make it simpler for you: just parrot whatever you can find in the Standard Bearer if you can do so.

  105. Bob Suden Says:

    Ray,
    Hoeksema quotes Hodge (and Girardeau if I am not mistaken, at least G holds Hodge’s view), but that is not to say that Hodge’s view is confessional on the CoW. I don’t have a copy of Hodge’s Systematics to read. Yes Murray didn’t agree with the CoW, but that’s what et al means. The PRC as a denomination though, not just a theologian here or there, disagree with the CoW.
    Regardless, what does the WCF actually say?

  106. Sean Gerety Says:

    Regardless, what does the WCF actually say?

    Not exactly sure of the relevancy here since the PRC holds to the 3 Forms as their standards.

  107. Sean Gerety Says:

    Charlie, do you know if it’s downloadable somewhere?


  108. As for the covenant of works, I already quoted from Wes White’s blog that the covenant of works does not necessarily mean that Adam “merits” anything. I think Hoeksema would have agreed with that.

    According to Hoeksema, the covenant is not probation instituted after Adam’s creation. It is part of the nature of creation itself.

    Fourth (objection), the covenant of works presents the covenant relation as something incidental and additional to man’s life in relation to God. The covenant relation is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It is not given with man’s creation, and therefore is not a fundamental and essential relationship, but an agreement established sometime after man was called into being. The question as how long after Adam was created God made this agreement with him is quite irrelevant. Whether it was a week, a day, or even an hour after his creation that the probationary command was given to him, the fact remains that this covenant was imposed upon the relation that Adam already sustained to God by reason of his creation. What then was Adam’s relation to God apart from this covenant of works? The word of God, however, does not present the covenant relation as an accidental relationship, but as fundamental and essential. It is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. In its highest perfection in Christ, it is life eternal: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). [Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 1:311-312]

    Furthermore, Hoeksema does not deny there is a covenant with Adam or responsibilities that go with it. You might want to read Hoeksema on the nature of the adamic covenant, etc. vol. 1: pp. 313-321.

    Both trees together, therefore, embodied the antithesis. Adam must serve his God and reject the devil, from whence the term probationary command. This command put Adam to the test, the main purpose of which was the realization of the antithesis… Only God’s forbidding word made it wrong for Adam to eat of the tree. Therefore, Adam confronted the clear calling of serving God with the rejection of evil, of unconditionally heeding the word of God with rejection of the lie of the devil. [Vol. 1:320-321]

    Hoeksema does not reject the idea of a probationary command but rather that there is any merit on the part of Adam. Hoeksema rejects the covenant of works because it implies merit, not because there is no probationary command. Also, as I pointed out before, the covenant of works need not be taken as based on merit but rather on the probationary command. So Hoeksema may be going too far in condemning the covenant of works altogether.

    The Federal Visionists confuse grace and merits. They wish to return to Rome while pretending to be Reformed. That obviously isn’t the position taken by Hoeksema or the Westminster crowd.


  109. Smeagal, you should try taking your own advice.

    Besides, facts are facts. Robbins had an earned Ph.D. Neither Sproul nor McMahon have an earned and accredited degree.

    It might be true that we should judge on the merits of the writings themselves. However, it is also true that we should not misrepresent ourselves as something we are not.

    McMahon’s writings in general are ok but in my opinion do not rise to the level of doctoral academics. Sorry.


  110. Sean, you can try this one but I only see vol 1 and 2 there:

    http://www.ntslibrary.com/theology-PDF-books.htm


  111. I meant Spiegal,not Smeagal. Sorry. Temptation got the best of me.

    Charlie

  112. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Charlie. Some other good stuff there too. Wilson’s RINE excepted.

  113. speigel Says:

    @Charlie: I don’t know how dense you can be, but you evidence yourself to be very dense.

    No one denies Robbins has a PhD. But when Robbins argued with others about Christian doctrine, these others would talk about his lack of seminary credentials. Hence my bringing up of the lack-of-education-tactic which you use. Nor do I see McMahon misrepresenting his credentials. Again, see Sangre de Christo’s stance about seminary accreditation. And I do take my own advice – hence me telling you to do the same.

    I have no idea what vendetta you have against McMahon, but I’m done talking about what school he went to or if it was accredited and then make a determination about his work based on that. You can keep talking down about McMahon and have the last word on him. I just hope it’s not the story of your life.


  114. Spiegal, I have no vendetta against McMahon. In fact, we were on friendly terms back in college.

    However, the fact remains that McMahon is not a recognized scholar. He’s basically a blogger like everyone else. His books are self published.

    Clark, Hoeksema, et. al. were legitimate scholars having taught in recognized seminaries, etc. Besides, citing McMahon is fallacious argument in and of itself. It’s called “appealing to authority”. If you’re going to argue a point, stick to the issues and to the evidence rather than pointing to fallacious authorities to bolster your argument.

  115. Sean Gerety Says:

    Besides, from what I’ve seen, McMahon is a pretty good amateur magician and evidently makes a heck of a beef jerky (that’s no joke, I recently received a mass email from him concerning some jerky company I assume he’s part of or runs — looks good). 🙂

  116. Cliffton Says:

    Charlie: By Clifton’s argument, we are still under the law and you’d better keep all of it and not get divorced and remarried. That’s not “repentance.” I guess repentance by that definition is to turn back to the law.

    Cliffton: Care to substantiate?

  117. Bob Suden Says:

    “Regardless, what does the WCF actually say?

    Not exactly sure of the relevancy here since the PRC holds to the 3 Forms as their standards.”

    If Hoeksema or the PRC care to quarrel with the CoW, the WCF is where to start, not cherrypicking presbyterian theologians, in that the PRC seems to think the CoW something the presbyterians smuggled in to the reformed tradition in 1648 with the Confession.

    Yet as alluded to above by others, that is not quite what is going on. For example, see The Covenant of Works in Dutch Reformed Orthodoxy
    About the only thing Lems misses is that the doctrine is mentioned in the Staten Vertaling or States General Bible, also known as the Dutch Annotations. The same was called for by the Synod of Dordt (1618) – one of the six who worked on the Annotations was Bogerman, the president of the Synod – and translated into English by Haak in 1657 as per the request by the Westminster Assembly in 1645.

    Leaving aside the mention in Genesis, the Argument/preface to the New Testament says:

    The word Testament is a Latine word, whereby the Greek word Diakethe is rendered, which the Greek translators use to express the Hebrew word Berith, that is Covenant. And thereby I properly understood the Covenant itself, which God hath made with mankinde upon certain conditions to give them everlasting life: which Covenant is twofold, the Old and the New. The Old is that which God made with the first man before the fall, wherein eternal life was promised upon condition of a thoroughly perfect obedience, and keeping of the Law; and is thereby called the Legall Covenant, which God again propounded to the Israelites, that from thence they might learn to understand (seeing this condition is transgressed by all men, and can now be fulfilled by no man) that they must seek their salvation in another Covenant, which is called the New [Covenant,] and consisteth in this: That God hath appointed his Son for a Mediator, and promiseth eternal life upon condition that we believe in him; and is called the Covenant of Grace.

    Reformation Heritage Books, Grand Rapids used to carry the 2002 facsimile reprint this was taken from for $175?, but it doesn’t seem to be offered any more.

  118. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Bob for the clarification.

  119. speigel Says:

    @Charlie: First, I haven’t cited McMahon. Second, you’re using a genetic fallacy. Third, all stones have been turned over – move on, Charlie.

    @Gerety: I’ve seen videos of the jerky. It looks good but there’s a high shipping cost. It’s not worth it when I can get pretty good jerky near me.


  120. Clifton, basically, repentance has nothing to do with the issue of whether or not the PRC is correctly exegeting the passages in question. Jesus raises the standard higher than the OT not so you can be holier than the saints in the OT but to show you how far short you fall of the mark.

    Adultery is not the unforgivable sin and neither is remarriage. According to PRC logic, one can repent of murder because it was a one time thing. But remarriage is an ongoing sin that never ends unless you divorce your second wife which you married illegitimately, etc. This is shaky exegesis at best.

    The point is that we fall short. It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. What’s the point of that saying? By that standard most Americans are rich and therefore going to hell.

    No, the point of the law is the conviction of our sinfulness. No one is righteous, not even the best PRC who never got divorced and remarried. Everyone deserves hell. That’s the point of the law, isn’t it?

    The first use of the law is conviction. The PRC seems to have forgotten that and emphasized the 3rd use of the law instead–which leads to self-righteousness, pride, and despair.

    The Lutheran distinction between Law and Gospel is helpful here.

    Charlie


  121. Speagal,

    I let it go from the get go.


  122. There’s a metaphor somewhere in there. The jerky is better and cheaper at home?

  123. ray kikkert Says:

    Sean said …”You’re not playing chess Ray, you’re straining gnats.”

    …your right Sean … I am sorry I used the metaphor, that was not wise … and your also right … a marriage after divorce is remarriage … regardless that it involves the initial couple only. The PRC then does allow remarriage after divorce for the original couple only, but does not allow remarriage of either partner to someone other than their original spouse. As you say… words have meaning … and according to Jeremiah 3 this is exactly what the Lord himself did with His adulterous bride. Some may say that this is not a remarriage … but a renewal … mo matter … words have meaning … where their is divorce …their is remarriage. That is where the PRC will hold the line.

    I sympathize with the comments of Gus and Charles, and as I said the PRC stance is not out to advocate this as the unforgiveable sin and promoting works righteousness. Where their is repentance … a gift of God to the elect … their is forgiveness. The PRC stance is to hold back the tide of rampant, wholesale divorce and remarriage with wicked intent that in turn leads to more wickedness. Our stance may be a hard saying … not all men will hear it… the command is … “and be ye holy” … not ..”and be ye happy” … and the church should uphold the command to be ye holy and be happy with that.

    Bob also stated …”If Hoeksema or the PRC care to quarrel with the CoW, the WCF is where to start, not cherrypicking presbyterian theologians, in that the PRC seems to think the CoW something the presbyterians smuggled in to the reformed tradition in 1648 with the Confession.”

    … Hoeksema did mention the WCF statement in his dogmatics … I do not think he inserted the footnote without himself reading it. I agree that within the reformed tradition the COW is found …the fact is that the COW is dominated presbyterian doctrine …. the problem with the COW theology is that it is a moving target. Men …mostly presbyterian … and newer dutch theologians cannot even agree on the basic premises of what constitutes a COW. Back in 1966 … Hoeksema reviewed Hodge. You say that Hodge was incorrect … well … where would you like me to go to find a true …uniform commentary as to what the COW is?
    The PRC and myself only comment on the COW when asked … or when we see a snarky, snobby, scoff …we see the doctrine as irrelevant … it has no sway within the PRC… not so much as mentioned within Scripture or the 3 forms of Unity. In fact … your focus should be with respect to the Lord’s covenant as gracious , eternal, and everlasting.

    But presbyterians are not alone … in the dutch reformed tradition… those who hold and maintain a COW also …maintain conditional covenant theology. The PRC rejects both the COW and conditional covenant theology … we are the only one’s that I know of, as churches in the dutch reformed …that do.

  124. ray kikkert Says:

    Chew snorts …”Wow, and are you a PRCA minister?”

    No… I am a member.

    “Ad-hominem and red herring argumentation does not help to prop up your case.”

    …yes mine are unkind and your’s are witty…

    “I tell you what: when you PRCA types can properly represent the historic Reformed position on the CoW, then at least I will give it a hearing.”

    …that is going to be tough …since those as yourself cannot even agree as to the definition of the COW.

    “So far, the strawmen argumentation against concepts like “merit” is simply hilarious.”

    …you must be talking about watching reruns of “everybody loves Raymond” … those are hilarious … dealing with merit within covenant theology is serious business for me…..anyways.

    “Of course, you can also interact with Herman Witsius and his magnum opus on Covenant Theology, and explain to us why a prominent Dutch Reformed pastor-theologian in the 17th century does in fact teach the Covenant of Works.”

    …sure he teaches the COW … there are …from that same time other dutch theologians who did not …the economy of the 2 covenants was Witsius view…not that I have read that book yet … but I also know he viewed God’s covenant as an agreement, a pact,a bargain, consisting of a promise, a condition, and a penalty. The PRC reject this and advocate that God’s covenant is a bond of fellowship …Adam or Abraham were not the heads of the “Teamsters for Covenant keeping with God” union … They were the friends of God in fellowship with God. What bargaining chips and proposals did Adam and Abraham have with which to come up with an agreement with God for the covenant? None. God is the unconditional establisher, maintainer, and sustainer of His everlasting and eternal covenant which fellowship the thrice Holy God graciously bestows that fellowship upon His chosen elect.

    “I make it simpler for you: just parrot whatever you can find in the Standard Bearer if you can do so.”

    ..okay thanks…but the SB is not the only thing I read with respect to the idea of the COW’s contract and bargaining agreement …John Murray, Bavinck, and John Calvin all critique such language for God’s coevannt. Calvin taught neither the prelapsarian covenant of works nor the pretemporal pactum salutis as an agreement …. but as fellowship, not dependant upon the creature’s obedience . Neither was covenant initially introduced with Adam’s creation, but is grounded in the Trinity from everlasting to everlasting … words used in Scripture which do define God’s covenant.Grounded in grace … not works, bargains, mutual agreement and pact, stipulations and conditions.

  125. bsuden Says:

    “…the fact is that the COW is dominated presbyterian doctrine …. the problem with the COW theology is that it is a moving target. Men …mostly presbyterian … and newer dutch theologians cannot even agree on the basic premises of what constitutes a COW. Back in 1966 … Hoeksema reviewed Hodge. You say that Hodge was incorrect … well where would you like me to go to find a true …uniform commentary as to what the COW is?”

    Come on, Ray, let’s not beg the question.
    The WCF talks about voluntary condescension – there is not any contractual meritorius obligation or argument for the necessity of God to enter into a covenant with man. That’s all a smokescreen and diversion.
    But for that matter, you can start again with the Dutch Annotations called for by the Synod of Dordt as quoted from above. Reformed theology did not start and stop with Calvin and then and only then picked up again with Hoeksema. There was development, which was what Lems paper documented.

    (And incidentally, don’t bother with the comments regarding snarky/snobby. That’s not the issue here at least with me and you know it. If others have gone there, take it up with them, please. Thank you.)

    The preface of Genesis says:
    This first Book of Moses, is, by a greek word, termed Genesis, which is as much to say, Birth, Source, Generations; seeing that in the same there
    are declared the Beginnings (which are in a manner the Generations, Gen.2:4) of all things visible and invisible, which in the beginning were created by God, through his word, out of nothing, and among the same that of Man, endowed with the Image of God, and seated in Paradise, that persevering in obedience, he might have lived for ever, whereof the Tree of Life was a visible token to him. . .

    Gen 2:9 says: . . . tree of life [i.e. a token of eternal life, signifying that man had received and should hold and continue his life at Gods hands, if he continued in his obedience, until it should please God to take him up into his celestial immortality] . . .
    Gen 3:22 says: … Now then that he may not put forth his hand, and take likewise of the Tree of Life, and eat and live forever: [God would not
    suffer man to make use of the token of life, having forfeited the same by
    his transgression.]

  126. Dave Resh Says:

    Was Hoeksema saying as I believe Rutherford said that the COW was meant to be a gracious inlet to Christ?Was Hoeksema saying that the life offered through the COW was inferior to the life given to us by the sacrifice of Christ?  Was this what Hoeksema was saying that even the COW was still all about grace?


  127. Hoeksema rejected the covenant of works because it implies merit. He did not reject the idea that there was a probationary command.


  128. Also, Hoeksema says that there was a covenant with Adam from his creation and not subsequent to his creation. The probationary command is not something added later as a covenant. Rather, the covenant is inherent in the creation of man and existed from the beginning.

  129. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: I’m sorry Cliffton. I’m not following. How does anything you wrote pertain to Matthew and Jesus’ teaching on divorce in the case of adultery?

    Cliffton: What I wrote pertains to Matthew and Jesus’ teaching on divorce in the case of adultery in so far as that which Paul taught cannot contradict that which Jesus taught. To argue that Jesus in the “exception clause” is permitting a spouse to divorce and marry another while her husband yet liveth would explicitly contradict Romans 7:2. The only other possible explanation of Romans 7:2 which would escape the charge that Paul is contradicting Christ would be to assert that, per Paul, one who commits adultery is reckoned as dead. This, as I indicated in my previous post, results in a denial of the Gospel of our salvation.

    Sean: Or even the PRC’s doctrine which allows for divorce and remarriage in the case of adultery but only remarriage to the guilty party?

    Cliffton: I think an important point to keep in mind in this discussion is that marriage must first be properly defined. We cannot not define marriage, argue from the vantage point of divorce, and then conclude with a proper definition of marriage. Only when marriage is defined can we correctly speak of divorce, and the implications of divorce. In fact, this was Jesus method in Matthew 19, the text to which I believe you are referring.

    Concerning Matthew 19:9 (and Matthew 5:32!), my understanding of the text(s) is as follows:

    Matthew 19:9 is teaching that the only legitimate ground for divorce is “except it be for fornication.” That spouse who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. “And, whoso marrieth her,” that very one which was put away illegitimately, “doth commit adultery.” In this text, not only is the husband who puts away his wife and marries another charged with committing adultery, but also, the man who marries this woman, the “innocent party” who is put away illegitimately, would be charged with committing adultery.

    Matthew 5:32 is similar to Matthew 19:9, but not identical. Matthew 5:32 teaches that the husband who puts away his wife “saving the cause of fornication, causeth her,” that one who was put away illegitimately, “to commit adultery.” And like Matthew 19:9, “whosover shall marry her that is divorced,” that very one which was put away illegitimately, “committeth adultery.” In this text, the husband who divorces his wife not on account of adultery is charged with causing his wife to commit adultery. And of course it should go without saying, if the husband divorces his wife on account of adultery, he cannot be so charged with causing his wife to commit adultery. For she has already done so.

    This is what makes the exception clause in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 so extremely important. The issue in both these texts is not only to identify the only legitimate grounds for divorce, adultery, but also who is to be charged with the crime of committing adultery, or causing one to commit adultery. Far from being an Achilles heel to the PRC’s doctrine of marriage, the exception clause serves to reinforce Christ’s teaching (which was from the beginning) that marriage is a union which God and God alone has made, and, a bond that God and God alone can put asunder, and that by means of the death of a spouse. The exception clause so serves by clearly identifying the one (or ones) to whose account is reckoned that which is the only legitimate ground for divorce, the sin of adultery.

  130. Cliffton Says:

    Charlie: By Clifton’s argument, we are still under the law and you’d better keep all of it and not get divorced and remarried. That’s not “repentance.” I guess repentance by that definition is to turn back to the law.

    Cliffton: Care to substantiate?

    Charlie: Clifton, basically, repentance has nothing to do with the issue of whether or not the PRC is correctly exegeting the passages in question. Jesus raises the standard higher than the OT not so you can be holier than the saints in the OT but to show you how far short you fall of the mark.

    Cliffton: One, I never claimed that Jesus “raises the standard higher” (whatever that means, for there is one law to which all men are accountable) so that we can “be holier than the saints in the OT.” Two, “have ye not read, that he which made them at the BEGINNING…” Three, even if I did make these sort of claims (which I have not, nor would I), this still does not substantiate your charge.

    Charlie: Adultery is not the unforgivable sin and neither is remarriage.

    Cliffton: Not sure what you mean here. But I am certain that adulterors will not inherit the kingdom of God. This does not subtantiate your charge either.

    Charlie: According to PRC logic, one can repent of murder because it was a one time thing. But remarriage is an ongoing sin that never ends unless you divorce your second wife which you married illegitimately, etc.

    Cliffton: As in the case of murder (or any other one of the ten commandments), the individual(s) who are involved in such an adulterous relationship can repent, if God should grant them such a gift. But this repentance would imply leaving that one with whom you are committing adultery.

    Charlie: The point is that we fall short. It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. What’s the point of that saying? By that standard most Americans are rich and therefore going to hell.

    Cliffton: Huh?

    Charlie: No, the point of the law is the conviction of our sinfulness. No one is righteous, not even the best PRC who never got divorced and remarried. Everyone deserves hell. That’s the point of the law, isn’t it?

    Cliffton: Thanks for the tip

    Charlie: The first use of the law is conviction. The PRC seems to have forgotten that and emphasized the 3rd use of the law instead–which leads to self-righteousness, pride, and despair.

    Cliffton: Don’t you think you ought to substantiate your first charge before you go and make another unsubstantiated charge?

    Charlie: The Lutheran distinction between Law and Gospel is helpful here.

    Cliffton: Indeed it is Charlie!


  131. Cliffton:

    The bottom line is this: The PRC is not infallible. If their exegesis is correct–and it is not–, then repentance would be to stop committing adultery by living in an illegitimate marriage while the former spouse is still living. However, the problem is even repentance will not merit ANYTHING AT ALL FROM GOD. Repentance is a gift first, last and always.

    The second problem is the assumption that one must divorce the wife you’re now with because of some fallible exegesis that is most likely wrong. So by PRC standards, the vast majority of individuals who have remarriage are beyond God’s grace UNLESS they fulfill some pharisaical letter of the LAW as defined by the PRC.

    Sorry, but I have to go with the Lutherans on this one. EVEN repentance earns you nothing with God since repentance is always tainted by impure motives. Repentance is acknowledging that you deserve hell, not living up to some denomination’s definition of what sins can be forgiven and what sins cannot.

    Law keeping, including the law that says you “must” repent”, can only earn you the wages of sin–death. Romans 6:23. Salvation is always and forever a free and unconditionally given gift of God. The only sin that separates you from God is self righteousness and establishing your own works as a means of meriting salvation. Keeping the PRC marriage law won’t earn you one damned bit of brownie points with God.

    Charlie


  132. remarried, that is.


  133. Cliffton, the Gospel is not “good advice” or a “tip.” You’re revealing yourself to be a legalist who thinks the law is somehow justifying.

  134. Sean Gerety Says:

    What I wrote pertains to Matthew and Jesus’ teaching on divorce in the case of adultery in so far as that which Paul taught cannot contradict that which Jesus taught. To argue that Jesus in the “exception clause” is permitting a spouse to divorce and marry another while her husband yet liveth would explicitly contradict Romans 7:2.

    Thanks for clarifying Cliffton. But, if there is a contradiction between Jesus permitting an exception for divorce and remarriage in Matthew 19 and what Paul teaches in Romans 7 then I fail to see how the PRC’s doctrine solves the problem? The PRC *does* allow for divorce and it *does* allow for remarriage, albeit only to the guilty spouse.

    Of course, the problem is easily solved simply because Paul is not discussing divorce and remarriage in Romans 7, but rather what it means to be set free from the penalty of the law and what it means to be “dead” to it. He using the death of a spouse for illustrative purposes: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

    The only other possible explanation of Romans 7:2 which would escape the charge that Paul is contradicting Christ would be to assert that, per Paul, one who commits adultery is reckoned as dead. This, as I indicated in my previous post, results in a denial of the Gospel of our salvation.

    The guilty party in a divorce is reckoned as dead.

    XXIV:5. Adultery and Divorce

    Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, giveth just occasion to be innocent party to dissolve the contract. In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce [b], and, after the divorce, to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.

    Interestingly, in the PRC the guilty party is not reckoned as dead at all, for even after a lawful divorce per the exception clause in Matthew remarriage is possible on the presumption that no real divorce has occurred, provided it is a remarriage to the offending spouse.

    While I appreciate your effort Cliffton, the PRC’s doctrine still appears to be incoherent and extra-biblical.

  135. Dave Resh Says:

    Sean,
    This was posted on Desiring God Blog.
    Is Piper saying that there are future conditions which must be met by us? Its sounds like he is saying we are to rest in the in being given future ability to meet future conditions rather than resting in the finished work of Christ:

    Unconditional Is the Ground of Conditional
    March 1, 2010 | By: John Piper | Category: Commentary

    Some Bible passages make crystal clear what we must not assume when reading other Bible passages. For example, consider Exodus 33:13 where Moses prays to God,

    If I have found favor in your sight,
    please show me now your ways,
    that I may know you,
    in order to find favor in your sight.

    What this verse prevents us from assuming is that, if God’s favor is conditional, it is therefore not unconditional.

    Or to put it another way, the verse prevents us from assuming that, if God’s favor is unconditional, it is not therefore conditional.

    Knowing God through knowing his ways is the condition of finding favor in his sight in the future. “Please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight.”

    And finding favor in God’s sight is the unconditional ground of knowing God through knowing his ways. “If I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways.”

    We may not assume that conditions of being in God’s favor in the future cancel out the truth that we are already in his favor, and that this is how we are able to meet the conditions of future favor.

    Nor may we assume that the presence of conditions makes our future insecure! As if God’s prior unconditional favor will not guarantee that we meet the conditions.

    O how precious are the strange and wonderful verses like Exodus 33:13!

    And even more, how precious is the electing, calling, regenerating, all-providing, favor of God’s unconditional grace!

  136. Daniel Chew Says:

    @Ray Kikkert:

    >No… I am a member

    I see – a lay leader then (http://www.prca.org/current/Protestant_Reformed_Churches.htm).

    >…yes mine are unkind and your’s are witty

    OK, I apologize for my part.

    > They were the friends of God in fellowship with God. What bargaining chips and proposals did Adam and Abraham have with which to come up with an agreement with God for the covenant?

    Of course, absolutely NOBODY has ever stated that Adam and Abraham have any “bargaining chips and proposals” with God. That has got to be one of the worst misrepresentation of historic Protestant and Reformed bicovenantalism the PRCA has ever made.

    >Calvin taught neither the prelapsarian covenant of works nor the pretemporal pactum salutis as an agreement …. but as fellowship, not dependant upon the creature’s obedience

    Yes, Calvin did not teach the pretemporal pactum salutis, as he was focusing on other issues. However, to re-make Calvin into a PRCA mono-covenantalist is to ignore the writings of what Calvin actually said.

    Similarly, Calvin did not teach the Covenant of Works in its developed form. However, to say that Calvin did not have some concept of that in mind is to ignore the plain evidence in Calvin’s writings.

    That is what Calvin actually taught in his Institutes:

    … In this upright state, man possessed freedom of will, by which, if he chose, he was able to obtain eternal life. It were here unseasonable to introduce the question concerning the secret predestination of God, because we are not considering what might or might not happen, but what the nature of man truly was. … (John Calvin, trans. by Henry Beveridge, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.15.8)

    … it will be necessary to attend to the perculiar nature of the sin which produced Adam’s fall, and provoked God to inflict such fearful vengence on the whole human race. The common idea of sesual intemperance is childish… We must therefore, look deeper than sensual intemperance. The prohibition to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a trial of obedience, that Adam, by observing it, might prove his willing submission to the command of God. … The promise, which gave him hope of eternal life as long as he should eat of the tree of life, and, on the other hand, the fearful denunciation o death the moment he should taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were meant to prove and exercise his faith. … (Institutes, 2.1.4)

    Notice that John Calvin taught that Adam in the Garden of Eden was: 1) under a trial of obedience, 2) by nature could choose to obtain eternal life, 3) that the reward of obedience to God’s command and eating of the tree of life was eternal life, 4) the puishment for disobedience in eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was death.

    The PRCA do not believe what Calvin taught on the state and relation of Adam before the Fall. The PRCA teaches that: 1) Man cannot obtain eternal life in his own nature, contrary to Calvin, 2) that there was no reward of obedience to God’s commandment, 3) the trial was not one of obedience whereby Adam could merit eternal life.

    Thus, the PRCA have no right to put themselves historically in the line of John Calvin, much less re-making John Calvin into their image. The redefinition of covenant (foedus) into friendship smacks too much like Barthian influence for me to take it seriously.

  137. Sean Gerety Says:

    God’s favor is unconditionally conditional? Piper is a very confused man.

    Basically, if I understand the above nonsense, God enables us to meet the conditions required for us to receive his favor. It certainly does appear that your assessment of him is spot on. Certainly explains why he and Wilson are pals.

  138. Daniel Chew Says:

    On a side note, the only difference separating the PRCA and the FVists is that the FVists make their mono covenant condition, while the PRCA made theirs unconditional. That is why Engelsma, in his book ‘The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers’, keeps on hammering on the issue of the “conditional covenant” in his reply against the FVists.

    Of course, historic bicovenantalism does not have to veer into the false conditonal/unconditional dichotomy all mono-covenantalists have to deal with. We believe in a conditional Covenat of Works, and an unconditional Covenant of Grace. The conditional Covenant of Works, as the Law, shows us the impossibility of earning our salvation by setting the bar at 100% sinlessness plus positive righteousness. The unconditional Covenant of Grace, in the Gospel, freely offers to us Christ’s righteousness which He has because He fulfilled the Covenant of Works on our behalf.

    It is a pity that Hoeksema and the PRCA cntinue to repeat ad nauseum misrepresentations of the historic Protestant and Reformed position. Their system is supremely illogical (for example, maintaining the parallelism between Adam and Christ yet Christ can merit with God while Adam can’t – which part of the parallelism is not clear?) and a practical denial of the principle of necessary consequence.


  139. @ Daniel

    Daniel, the PRCA is not out of line with Dutch Reformed “confessional” theology. The Heidelberg Catechism answers your question regarding the distinction between Christ and Adam on merits:

    Lord’s Day 5

    12. Since, then, by the righteous judgment of God we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, how may we escape this punishment and be again received into favor?

    God wills that His justice be satisfied;[1] therefore, we must make full satisfaction to that justice, either by ourselves or by another.[2]

    [1] Ex 20:5, 23:7; Rom 2:1-11; [2] Isa 53:11; Rom 8:3-4

    TOP

    13. Can we ourselves make this satisfaction?

    Certainly not; on the contrary, we daily increase our guilt.[1]

    [1] Job 9:2-3, 15:15-16; Ps 130:3; Mt 6:12, 16:26; Rom 2:4-5

    TOP

    14. Can any mere creature make satisfaction for us?

    None; for first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man committed;[1] and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it.[2]

    [1] Ezek 18:4, 20; Heb 2:14-18; [2] Ps 130:3; Nah 1:6

    TOP

    15. What kind of mediator and redeemer, then, must we seek?

    One who is a true[1] and righteous man,[2] and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.[3]

    [1] 1 Cor 15:21-22, 25-26; Heb 2:17; [2] Isa 53:11; Jer 13:16; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26; [3] Isa 7:14, 9:6; Jer 23:6; Jn 1:1; Rom 8:3-4; Heb 7:15-16

    TOP

    Lord’s Day 6

    16. Why must He be a true and righteous man?

    Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned should make satisfaction for sin;[1] but one who is himself a sinner cannot satisfy for others.[2]

    [1] Rom 5:12, 15; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 2:14-16; [2] Isa 53:3-5; Heb 7:26-27; 1 Pt 3:18

    TOP

    17. Why must He also be true God?

    That by the power of His Godhead[1] He might bear in His manhood the burden of God’s wrath,[2] and so obtain for[3] and restore to us righteousness and life.[4]

    [1] Isa 9:5; [2] Dt 4:24; Isa 53:8; Ps 130:3; Nah 1:6; Acts 2:24; [3] Jn 3:16; Acts 20:28; [4] Isa 53:5, 11; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Jn 1:2

    TOP

    18. But who now is that Mediator, who in one person is true God and also a true and righteous man?

    Our Lord Jesus Christ,[1] who is freely given unto us for complete redemption and righteousness.[2]

    [1] Mt 1:21-23; Lk 2:11; 1 Tim 2:5, 3:16; [2] Acts 4:12; 1 Cor 1:30

    TOP

    19. From where do you know this?

    From the Holy Gospel, which God Himself first revealed in Paradise,[1] afterwards proclaimed by the holy patriarchs[2] and prophets,[3] and foreshadowed by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law,[4] and finally fulfilled by His well-beloved Son.[5]

    [1] Gen 3:15; [2] Gen 12:3, 22:18, 49:10-11; [3] Isa 53; Jer 23:5-6; Mic 7:18-20; Acts 3:22-24, 10:43; Rom 1:2; Heb 1:1; [4] Lev 1:7; Jn 5:46; Heb 10:1-10; [5] Rom 10:4; Gal 4:4-5; Col 2:17; Heb 10:1

    From: http://www.christurc.org/heidelberg.html

  140. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Cliffton. I thought I’d go back and reply to some of your earlier objections to the Westminster doctrine of divorce and remarriage since I don’t know that they’ve been addressed.

    1. If the guilty party is reckoned as dead, and the wife is free to remarry, on what grounds could the guilty party be denied the privilege of remarriage…particularly in view of the innocent party’s remarriage? In this instance, if the wife is no longer bound by the law to her first husband, on what grounds (legal?) could we say that the husband is still bound. And bound to what, to who? It was the law that bound the two together. FWIW, this notion of guilty party/innocent party as it has respect to remarriage has resulted in the church permitting both parties to remarry. Oh, I forgot to say, permitted on the conditon that they “repent.”

    Why is the word repent in quotes? You don’t believe that someone guilty of adultery can in fact repent of this particular sin? It would seem to me refusing to marry the guilty party in the case of divorce is a form of discipline that may indeed function as an impetus by God’s grace to repentance.

    2. The innocent party IS NOT COMMANDED to divorce the guilty party. So now, per Paul’s argument, we can claim that though the guilty party is reckoned as dead, the innocent party may remain married. This is tantamount to saying that though we be dead to the law (on account of the work of Christ), the law still has dominion over us. The believer’s relationship to Christ would now be reckoned as an adulterous relationship, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to [her] husband so long as he liveth” (Rom. 7:2). “So then if, while [her] husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress” (v.3).

    No one said the innocent party has to divorce the guilty party, but it seems to me that you’re stretching Paul’s illustration well beyond its intended purpose. The point is, if there is a divorce on what basis can you conclude that remarriage to the guilty party is only possible exception that is permissible? That’s the doctrinal position that you need to defend, since, unless Ray is mistaken, that’s the one the PRC teaches.

    Again, where do you folks get this idea that in such cases the couple are still married in “the eyes of the Lord”? If they’re divorced I would think in the eyes of the Lord they’re really divorced otherwise the word divorce loses all meaning. And, if divorced, the innocent part is indeed free to remarry.

    3. To claim that one can divorce and marry another while the spouse remains alive (contra Rom. 7:2-3), is to imply per Paul’s argument, that we may sin that grace may abound.

    A person may divorce and remarry while the spouse remains alive in the case of adultery and this in no way implies that “we may sin that grace may abound.” That’s why they’re called exceptions and why, in the case of adultery, divorce and remarriage is no sin. You and the PRC may not like it, but you haven’t shown that it is sin.

    Also, everyone agrees that apart from the exceptions given in Scripture a married person is bound to their spouse until death do they part. Again, it seems to me that you are misusing Paul’s illustration of what it means to be set free from the law to try and support the PRC’s doctrine when Paul is not discussing divorce and remarriage per se, but rather using the normative case as an example in his broader argument.

    If the sin of adultery merits the right to be reckoned as dead, let us sin that we may be legally permitted to marry another. For being reckonded as dead, there no longer is that law to which we were once bound.

    I guess we could always just murder our cheating spouses and solve a couple of problem in one shot. =8-)

    This applies to both the “innocent party” and the “guilty party”. For there is one law, and the law teaches that God has made the twain one.

    Right, except in the case of adultery and desertion (which I suppose we can also discuss, but since we both agree that Jesus provides for divorce in the case of adultery why muddy the water).

    Indeed, the doctrine of marriage is a matter of salvation. A false doctrine of marriage stands in a direct relation to a false doctrine of salvation. God will not be mocked, adulterors will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    And it would seem to me that it is the PRC that has a false doctrine of marriage and divorce, at least one that doesn’t do justice to Christ’s teaching and appears to abuse Paul discussion in Romans 7 in the process.

  141. Daniel Chew Says:

    @Charlie:

    I agree that the PRCA is in line with her confessional heritage, albeit logically inconsistent. What I am saying however is that they cannot claim to be following Calvin’s theology in this area of Covenant Theology.

  142. Sean Gerety Says:

    FWIW I stumbled on an interesting piece on the PRC’s doctrine of divorce and remarriage from a Lutheran who at one time was part of the PRC and actually seeking to be a PRC pastor.

    http://lambonthealtar.blogspot.com/2009/12/remarriage-revisited.html

    I thought this was helpful:

    How and where did the PRC go wrong? In regards to Matthew 19 in particular, I’ve now come to realize that both the PRC and I have missed the entire point of the passage. The Pharisees were coming to Jesus in order to have a debate with him about the law. The Pharisees sought their salvation in their obedience to the law. When Jesus answers He’s not acting as some kind of new Moses. Jesus is not primarily interested in providing them with principles for living untainted by the sin of adultery. Jesus’ point is to show them that they are all sinners. Jesus’ point was to show them that both rabbinic schools were guilty of adultery and worthy of God’s present and eternal punishment. Only by crushing them with the law would they realize that they could not stand before God with their own righteousness but needed an alien righteousness. Their righteousness could only be found in the crucified Christ.

    OTOH I certainly don’t endorse everything the man writes, particularly his attack on necessary inference where he calls reason “the devil’s whore.” He obviously doesn’t hold to the belief that the meaning of Scripture is one and that any inference that contradicts any other teaching of Scripture is an invalid inference. IMO it is only by pressing the logical incoherence of the PRC’s position that will lead them to reevaluate and perhaps change their doctrine to one in conformity with the whole of Scripture. I mean, isn’t that how most of us come to recognize errors in our own thinking and theology? And, didn’t Luther appeal to Scripture and “right reason” in his quarrel with Rome?

  143. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: Thanks for clarifying Cliffton. But, if there is a contradiction between Jesus permitting an exception for divorce and remarriage in Matthew 19 and what Paul teaches in Romans 7 then I fail to see how the PRC’s doctrine solves the problem? The PRC *does* allow for divorce and it *does* allow for remarriage, albeit only to the guilty spouse.

    Cliffton: Yes Sean, but why does the PRC allow for it? It is because we understand that even in the case of divorce, that bond IS NOT BROKEN. Only in the death of the spouse is the bond broken. Just like Christ’s death on the cross legally severs the bondage of believers to the law, per Paul’s argument. It appears as if you are operating on a false notion of what divorce is? You can only make the claim that the PRC doesn’t solve the problem based upon your implied premise that divorce severs the bond.

    Sean: Of course, the problem is easily solved simply because Paul is not discussing divorce and remarriage in Romans 7, but rather what it means to be set free from the penalty of the law and what it means to be “dead” to it. He using the death of a spouse for illustrative purposes:…

    Cliffton: Agreed. But how can the death of a spouse serve an “illustrative” purpose if it doesn’t illustrate the truth that Paul wants to make?

    Sean: The guilty party in a divorce is reckoned as dead.

    Cliffton: I understand that is what you are claiming and that is what the WCF has claimed. However, as I indicated before, you are not commanded to divorce your spouse if she commits adultery. This would have to imply, per your argument, that it is not the adulterous party in a divorce that is reckoned as dead per se, but rather the determination of the innocent party to reckon or not reckon the guilty party as dead. In the end it would become subject to the will of the one making the determination. This would imply per Paul’s argument in Romans 7 that only as we reckon ourselves dead to the law, are we then dead to the law.

    Sean: Interestingly, in the PRC the guilty party is not reckoned as dead at all…

    Cliffton: Precisely!

    Sean: …for even after a lawful divorce per the exception clause in Matthew remarriage is possible on the presumption that no real divorce has occurred,

    Cliffton: Or rather on the presumption that, negatively, divorce doesn’t break the bond. And positively, that:

    “the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to [her] husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of [her] husband. So then if, while [her] husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress:”

  144. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: Why is the word repent in quotes?

    Cliffton: I placed the word repent in quotes because according to the position that I am advocating, repentance would necessarily imply a changing in one’s mind concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage. So that from the vantage point of the PRC’s position, any repentance that was involved with an individual who is divorced and remarried while their husband is still alive would necessitate that individual leaving that relationship. And since the WCF doesn’t hold that position, any repentance of an individual in such a relationship would not be repentance, in truth.

  145. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: The point is, if there is a divorce on what basis can you conclude that remarriage to the guilty party is only possible exception that is permissible?

    Cliffton: On a correct understanding of divorce which only results from a correct understanding of marriage.

  146. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: If they’re divorced I would think in the eyes of the Lord they’re really divorced otherwise the word divorce loses all meaning.

    Cliffton: Or the meaning that you are attributing to it. And, if marriage is between one man and one woman, and Paul says in Romans 7 that if a spouse “marries” another while her “husband” still lives, the term marriage and husband lose all meaning??


  147. @Daniel

    The Dutch would be surprised to learn that their Three Forms of Unity are not built on Calvin’s theology.

  148. ray kikkert Says:

    Sean … if your going to use Chuck’s example as to why he left the PRC to somehow vindicate your weak stance … then I really have nothing else to comment on with respect to the subject.

    Both of you suffer from tunnel vision … there was no getting through to Chuck … (who is at best … a loose canon with whom I spent much time in discussion with) and yourself.
    The inability to exegete Scripture as a whole … in order to vindicate a weak eisegetical stance. The WCF is quilty of this as well. The last phrase put in to reckon the guilty party as dead, but not physically dead … is … well …an excuse (drawn up to answer Romans 7 I might add) to vindicate divorce and remarriage … so as not to be guilty of adultery because the problem is magically fixed by simply reckoning the party as spiritually dead. How convient and what a remarkable legacy this little excuse has left within the presbyterian and reformed churches who call upon this carnal precedent to vindicate their sinful behaviour, rather than curb it in glory to God.

    The legacy of divorce and remarriage, allowable adultery, mixed marriages, and broken homes for the children. If any think that things have gotten better … and those involved live better lives and are the better for it … really show that repentance is the last thing to be concerned about … one’s happiness trumps repentance … another shining example of the total depravity of men.

    Here I stand … the opinions and excuses expressed do nothing to prove the supposed illogical stance of the PRC. Eisegesis would be required to have that happen…

  149. ray kikkert Says:

    Well Daniel … had a read through your attempts at vindicating the COW. It would require too many Singapore slings for me to agree with you on this stance.
    I do somewhat appreciate the attempts at defending the COW … it provides evidence which which to make a polemical stance against it.


  150. The remarks of the Lutheran fellow are completely in line with Luther’s own theology. Law cannot justify and never will. All the Law can do is damn your behind to hell. When the PRC and others figure that out maybe the self-righteous attitudes will change?

    I stand with the PRC when it is right. On the divorce and remarriage thing the PRC is enshrining Law as a means of repentance and justification–something it can never do.

  151. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean: Thanks for clarifying Cliffton. But, if there is a contradiction between Jesus permitting an exception for divorce and remarriage in Matthew 19 and what Paul teaches in Romans 7 then I fail to see how the PRC’s doctrine solves the problem? The PRC *does* allow for divorce and it *does* allow for remarriage, albeit only to the guilty spouse.

    Cliffton: Yes Sean, but why does the PRC allow for it? It is because we understand that even in the case of divorce, that bond IS NOT BROKEN.

    I have to admit, I find this bizarre Cliffton. Needless to say yours is a very odd definition of divorce, but where does it come from? Certainly not from Matthew 19 where the Pharisees are testing Jesus on the law when they ask; “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?”

    For example, the word for divorce in the OT is kerithuth which means to cut the matrimonial bond. See for example Jerimiah 3:8. The word in the NT and the one translated divorce in Matthew 19 is apoluo means to “free fully, that is, (literally) relieve, release, dismiss… set at liberty.” I have no idea where you get your understanding of divorce from which you believe is binding on others?

    Only in the death of the spouse is the bond broken.

    So it is not true that the PRC allows for divorce in the case of adultery at all simply because you have somehow refined “divorce” to mean “no divorce.” How is this not bizarre? If the marriage bond is not broken as the result of divorce, what does divorce mean in your mind? Are we to believe that Jesus and the Pharisees he was addressing understood divorce to mean a simple and perhaps temporary separation?

    Also, per the link above, how do you support your understanding of divorce as being no real divorce at all in light of Deuteronomy 24:1-4? God forbids the remarriage of the original married couple; “Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife….” Yet, per the PRC not only is the second marriage invalid, sinful and adulterous, but the PRC actually advocates the very thing the Scriptures forbid which is the remarriage of the original couple.

    Just like Christ’s death on the cross legally severs the bondage of believers to the law, per Paul’s argument.

    Death does sever the bond of marriage, hence Paul’s use of this example in his discussion of the law, but that doesn’t mean that death is the only means by which the bond is severed. Again, you universalize Paul’s illustration and make it the basis for understanding all other passages dealing with marriage and divorce.

    It appears as if you are operating on a false notion of what divorce is? You can only make the claim that the PRC doesn’t solve the problem based upon your implied premise that divorce severs the bond.

    I guess we’re at an impasse. I have a false notion of what divorce is, yet I’m defining the term as it has traditionally been defined and in accordance with standard Greek and Hebrew lexicons. What do I know?

    Sean: Of course, the problem is easily solved simply because Paul is not discussing divorce and remarriage in Romans 7, but rather what it means to be set free from the penalty of the law and what it means to be “dead” to it. He using the death of a spouse for illustrative purposes:…

    Cliffton: Agreed. But how can the death of a spouse serve an “illustrative” purpose if it doesn’t illustrate the truth that Paul wants to make?

    If you “agree” then why do you cite Romans 7 as the defining text in this case? The death of the spouse DOES illustrate the legal reality that Paul is discussing in relation to the entire law and not just the Seventh Commandment, but it does not follow that there are no other cases in which the marriage bond is dissolved.

    Sean: The guilty party in a divorce is reckoned as dead.

    Cliffton: I understand that is what you are claiming and that is what the WCF has claimed. However, as I indicated before, you are not commanded to divorce your spouse if she commits adultery. This would have to imply, per your argument, that it is not the adulterous party in a divorce that is reckoned as dead per se, but rather the determination of the innocent party to reckon or not reckon the guilty party as dead. In the end it would become subject to the will of the one making the determination. This would imply per Paul’s argument in Romans 7 that only as we reckon ourselves dead to the law, are we then dead to the law.

    I’m sorry, but your argument makes no sense. Paul uses the dissolution of the marriage bond that results from death to illustrate his argument. He is not discussing marriage or remarriage. Further, unless you kill your cheating spouse, their death is about as much under your control as it is to be set free from the law.

    Sean: Interestingly, in the PRC the guilty party is not reckoned as dead at all…

    Cliffton: Precisely!

    They’re not even reckoned as divorced when they in fact do divorce on account of adultery. Oh, wait, divorce doesn’t mean to dissolve a marriage or release from marital obligations. No married couple is ever actually divorced, therefore when Jesus allows for divorce in the case of adultery the PRC must interpret Jesus as meaning something other than divorce as either He or the Pharisees would have understood or used the word. Sound like some weird eisegesis to me.

    Sean: …for even after a lawful divorce per the exception clause in Matthew remarriage is possible on the presumption that no real divorce has occurred,

    Cliffton: Or rather on the presumption that, negatively, divorce doesn’t break the bond.

    I’m sorry, this is just strained. Admittedly, it would be helpful if you could actually demonstrate that the word divorce in Scripture never means the breaking of the marriage bond. Oddly, in all this, neither you or Ray have done this. Instead you beg the question and simply assert the very thing you need to prove.

  152. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean … if your going to use Chuck’s example as to why he left the PRC to somehow vindicate your weak stance … then I really have nothing else to comment on with respect to the subject.

    Why? Because he makes some good arguments and has come to a different conclusion than you have?

    Both of you suffer from tunnel vision … there was no getting through to Chuck … (who is at best … a loose canon with whom I spent much time in discussion with) and yourself.

    Please don’t make this about personalities Ray. I think Marc Carpenter is a loose canon and a certifiable nut-bag, but I think the articles he wrote years ago for TF were excellent. A less extreme example is Michael Sudduth. His piece in TF was excellent, but I haven’t read anything from him in years that even remotely measures up.

    I said I stumble on the piece and he makes some good arguments that I would think, if your doctrine were defensible and biblical, you would want to refute.

    The inability to exegete Scripture as a whole … in order to vindicate a weak eisegetical stance. The WCF is quilty of this as well.

    I’m trying to understand how you arrive at your conclusion, but I don’t see how your reinterpretation of the word divorce can be justified? You and Cliffton beg the question. What’s more disturbing to me on a personal note is the tacit assumption that the PRC could not possibly have erred in this or in the case of the CoW. I mean, even while I was in the PCA I had no problem saying that the PCA has erred in any number of her official statements. Yet, when it come the PRC it seems members are bound to even the most untenable doctrines and unquestionably so. That seems to be an odd legacy when Herman Hoeksema spent so many years carefully tracing out errors like those of the free offer and common grace. If the WCF is in error let’s see the argument, if you’ve got one.

    The last phrase put in to reckon the guilty party as dead, but not physically dead … is … well …an excuse (drawn up to answer Romans 7

    I don’t see why since Romans 7 is not the basis upon which all other passages are to judged and must conform to as if nothing else were said throughout the rest of Scripture concerning divorce and remarriage (see Deuteronomy above for starters).

    The legacy of divorce and remarriage, allowable adultery, mixed marriages, and broken homes for the children. If any think that things have gotten better …

    Red herring. No one has argued that things are better or that the current situation is preferable. What has been argued is that the PRC’s position amounts to extra-biblical binding.

    Here I stand … the opinions and excuses expressed do nothing to prove the supposed illogical stance of the PRC. Eisegesis would be required to have that happen…

    The illogical stance of the PRC has been demonstrated. Standing there with your hands over your ears isn’t going to change anything. 🙂

  153. Bob Suden Says:

    Sean,
    I think where Chuck gets closest to why the PRC derail is regarding the covenant. (I don’t agree with the PRC’s 100%, but Lutheranism as the alternative?) The PRC think it the same as the unconditional CoG and since God will never divorce the elect, ergo . .
    William Young also has some things to say re. Historic Calvinism, Neo-Calvinism and Hyper Covenantism that may be of general interest to the discussion.

  154. Daniel Chew Says:

    @Charlie:

    >The Dutch would be surprised to learn that their Three Forms of Unity are not built on Calvin’s theology.

    I did not say that. I said that the PRCA’s views are not agreeable to that of Calvin on the issue of Adam in paradise. The three forms of unity are orthodox, but they are neutral with regards to the issues of contention between the PRCA and Reformed orthodoxy. It is because of this “neutrality” that allows the PRCA to insists it is Reformed while simultaneously and systematically denying the Reformed view of the covenant.

  155. Daniel Chew Says:

    @ray:

    >Well Daniel … had a read through your attempts at vindicating the COW. It would require too many Singapore slings for me to agree with you on this stance.

    Singapore slings? Mockery seems to be your second nature!

    No thanks to your non-response. If I really feel irritated enough, I just might decide to refute Hoeksema’s eisegesis of the doctrine of the Covenant for a MTh thesis in the future, alongside the PRCA’s evil mono-covenantal twin the FVists.

    Of course, the issue of D&R would probably factor in, since it is the reading into the analogy of marriage the unconditional CoG that is the main reason why the PRCA defends their view as it is (not individual verses per se). I have read Engelsma’s article regarding Jer. 3 in one issue of the PRTJ so I can see the “mono-covenantal hermeneutic” that they use in interpreting the marriage covenant.

  156. Daniel Chew Says:

    @Bob:

    thanks for the link.


  157. Daniel, the last time I checked the Westminster Standards are not the final definition of what is and what is not “Reformed”. There are many Reformed confessions and standards precisely because no one communion or congregation can “lord” it over the others. Scripture is the final authority. The Canons of Dort define what is and is not heresy regarding Arminianism, Federal Vision, and Amyraldianism.

  158. Bob Suden Says:

    Charlie,

    That was one of the legitimate points of RS Clark’s Recovering the Reformed Confession.
    The WStandards and the 3 Forms largely define what the P&R churches understand Scripture to say/mean as over and against all the other interpretations, i.e. what it means to be “reformed”. Yeah, there are other reformed confessions, but these two are the main ones.

    Further, the CoW is found in the Westminster because obviously both the development of the doctrine and the WStandards came after the 3 Forms. While formally the 3F don’t confess the CoW (or anything on divorce and remarriage), so the PRC’s have an somewhat of an excuse to deny the CoW is doctrinally binding, it really is obtuse to insist that the CoW is not reformed/calvinistic whether explicitly or in substance.

    R. Ward in his God and Adam (2003, Australia)which is a very helpful historical survey of the CoW, mentions the Walcheren Articles 1693 (Netherlands)of which Art. 4 affirms the CoW over and against those who denied it because the doctrine was only 60 or 70 yrs. old. Subscription to the Articles in the classis lasted until 1816.

    In short, the PRC’s to be fair, ought to at least acknowldge that there is liberty in the reformed tradition to hold to other views than just theirs on supralapsarianism, CoW, divorce and remarriage.
    Will that happen and when? Stay tuned, but maybe don’t hold your breath.

  159. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: I have to admit, I find this bizarre Cliffton. Needless to say yours is a very odd definition of divorce, but where does it come from? Certainly not from Matthew 19 where the Pharisees are testing Jesus on the law when they ask; “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?”

    Cliffton: Jesus’ initial response to the Pharisees *first* question was a word concerning the institution of marriage. You must ask yourself why does Jesus answer the Pharisees question after this manner, particularly when you consider their first question was concerning divorce for any reason? Further, you must notice the follow up question from the Pharisees in view of what Christ said:

    “They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?”

    The Pharisees follow up with this question because they see an apparent conflict between what Christ said (as He referenced the text in Genesis, with which I believe Moses had something to do), and what Moses said. Based upon your understanding of the text, there was no conflict with what Christ said. Christ simply did not answer the Pharisees first question.

    Sean: I have no idea where you get your understanding of divorce from which you believe is binding on others?

    Cliffton: The definition of marriage and the Spirit of Christ’s exposition of marriage is determinative for how we are to understand divorce, as Christ teaches us in Matthew 19, Matthew 5, Romans 7, and elsewhere.

    Sean: So it is not true that the PRC allows for divorce in the case of adultery at all simply because you have somehow refined “divorce” to mean “no divorce.” How is this not bizarre?

    Cliffton: It is only bizarre if you apply your understanding of divorce. And of course, I am not advocating that we should do so.

    Sean: Also, per the link above, how do you support your understanding of divorce as being no real divorce at all in light of Deuteronomy 24:1-4?

    Cliffton: Again you are applying your definition of divorce with which I disagree. Nevertheless, my response would be the same as Christ’s response:

    “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”

    Sean: If you “agree” then why do you cite Romans 7 as the defining text in this case?

    Cliffton: I was agreeing that Paul uses the doctrine of marriage for the purpose of articulating the Gospel.

    Sean: I’m sorry, but your argument makes no sense.

    Cliffton: Sean, you claim the quilty party, the one who committs adultery, is reckoned as dead. Yet, you claim you understand that one does not have to get a divorce, but rather can remain married. Unless you are claiming that one remains married to another who is reckoned as dead, then you can only claim that the guilty party, the one who commits adultery, may or may not be reckoned as dead. This determination would be subject to the innocent party. Therefore, the guilty party, as such, is not necessarily reckoned as dead. Yet, this is your way around Romans 7.

    Sean: Paul uses the dissolution of the marriage bond that results from death to illustrate his argument.

    Cliffton: Paul also makes use of the idea of remarriage and adultery. You seem to continually leave this out of the equation.

    Sean: No married couple is ever actually divorced, therefore when Jesus allows for divorce in the case of adultery the PRC must interpret Jesus as meaning something other than divorce as either He or the Pharisees would have understood or used the word. Sound like some weird eisegesis to me.

    Cliffton: The Pharisees were apparantley “confused” with Jesus’ first response to their first question. Although, to go along with the theme of the whole context, I would rather say they were deviant. For,

    “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him,…”

    Sean: Admittedly, it would be helpful if you could actually demonstrate that the word divorce in Scripture never means the breaking of the marriage bond. Oddly, in all this, neither you or Ray have done this. Instead you beg the question and simply assert the very thing you need to prove.

    Cliffton: I am dealing with Matthew 19 and Matthew 5, and Romans 7, am I not? I think someone else may be begging the question here.


  160. Bob, I agree with most of what you’re saying. However, I disagree that the two main Reformed Confessions are the WS and the 3 Forms. Don’t forget the English Formularies: 39 Articles, 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal. These are just as “Reformed” as the other two symbols. I could also mention the 1st and 2nd Helvetic Confessions, the Formula Consensus Helvetica, etc.

    There are many Reformed Confessions and I believe all of them taken together as a whole give us a good overview of Reformed theology. Secondly, I think the Three Forms of Unity and even Hoeksema do uphold that there is a covenant with Adam and a probationary command with consequences for breaking that command.

    I might also point out that the covenant of works is not necessarily based on Adam’s merits but rather on his obedience or disobedience of God’s command. I don’t see the WS and the 3 Forms as opposed to each other but rather as complementary.

    There are those who think the 39 Articles are minimalist and celebrate that brevity. I, however, do not believe the Articles would allow for the so-called “moderate” Calvinist view or Amyraldian view since Cranmer himself, the author of the Articles, did not hold that view. Another indication of that would be the Lambeth Articles of 1595 and the Irish Articles of 1615. We do not see any formal expressions of Amyraldianism in the Anglican tradition but we do see the Lambeth Articles and the Irish Articles, both of which influenced the Westminster Confession of 1645.

    The Sydney Anglicans love to focus on the ambiguities and the brevities to justify their 4.5 point Calvinism but I’m not buying it, especially since there were Anglican representatives at the Synod of Dort and there is no word that the Anglican representatives sided with either the Remonstrandts or the later Amyraldians.

    Charlie


  161. Bob, I might also mention that the Westminster Standards do not take a position on the issue of infralapsarianism or supralapsarianism. I have come to accept the supralapsarian view at least in principle. I think Robert Reymond’s Systematic theology makes a convincing argument for the supralapsarian view.

  162. Sean Gerety Says:

    Cliffton: Again you are applying your definition of divorce with which I disagree. Nevertheless, my response would be the same as Christ’s response:

    “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”

    Why do you stop there Cliffton when in the very next verse Jesus says: “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery.”

    You might disagree with “my” definition of divorce, but that’s irrelevant. Besides, the way I’ve defined it is what the word means and as it is understood and used in Scripture. Oddly, your definition, which is not really a divorce but a separation where a couple is still legally married, has no support whatsoever in Scripture.

    I think everyone reading this exchange will agree that you have not supported your novel definition in light of Scripture and instead have imposed it upon the Scriptures and upon members of your church.

    Cliffton: Sean, you claim the quilty party, the one who committs adultery, is reckoned as dead. Yet, you claim you understand that one does not have to get a divorce, but rather can remain married. Unless you are claiming that one remains married to another who is reckoned as dead, then you can only claim that the guilty party, the one who commits adultery, may or may not be reckoned as dead. This determination would be subject to the innocent party. Therefore, the guilty party, as such, is not necessarily reckoned as dead. Yet, this is your way around Romans 7.

    I’m not trying to get around Romans 7 at all. OK, maybe your argument isn’t nonsense, it’s just irrelevant since as I’ve said repeatedly Romans 7 is not a discussion of marriage, divorce, remarriage or any thing else you are using (or abusing) it for.

    Cliffton: Paul also makes use of the idea of remarriage and adultery. You seem to continually leave this out of the equation.

    It would be adultery except in cases where a divorce is the result of adultery, which I suppose is why you continually leave out that little bit and continually prooftext.

    Sean: Admittedly, it would be helpful if you could actually demonstrate that the word divorce in Scripture never means the breaking of the marriage bond. Oddly, in all this, neither you or Ray have done this. Instead you beg the question and simply assert the very thing you need to prove.

    Cliffton: I am dealing with Matthew 19 and Matthew 5, and Romans 7, am I not?

    No, you are not. You have not demonstrated – or even tried – to show how your unusual and seemingly sectarian understanding of divorce comports with Scripture. Your argument thus far has been “You have your definition and I have mine.” Well, big deal. Where is your exegesis? Where is your proof that divorce in Scripture does not mean a cessation of the marital bond? Well, you can look at all of your posts and Ray’s too and you won’t find even the slightest argument. What you will find is plenty of asservation.

    Finally, while I’d rather be dead myself than ever divorce my wife (I hope she feels the same way ;-), I guess we’ve played this out as far as we can go. And, in spite of a couple of weird doctrines, I still love you PRC guys. You can have the last word.

  163. Bob Suden Says:

    Charlie,
    I agree that there are other reformed confessions besides the WS and the 3F, but for all practical purposes they are not what is generally meant by the term or what comes to mind. All told, those confessions were and are affirmed by a minority of reformed churches.
    Further reformed, means reformed from the deformed roman church at the Reformation in doctrine, worship and government. The Anglican communion and confession does not affirm the reformed stance on worship and government, but is lutheran and episcopal. Sorry , but that’s not reformed. Doctrine plays out in the worship and government of the church which is the watershed issue between the Lutehran/Anglican and Presbyterian/Reformed.
    Another way of looking at it might be the sov. of God in salvation/doctrine (the doctrines of grace and sola scriptura), worship (the RPW) and government(jus divinum.
    cordially

  164. Daniel Chew Says:

    @CHarlie:

    actually, I said: “…the Reformed view of the covenant”. I may be wrong, but I doubt they are any reformed creed/confession taking the PRCA view of the Covenant before the time of Karl Barth?

  165. Bob Suden Says:

    “I still love you PRC guys. You can have the last word.”

    Well, I love the PRC guys too, I spent a number of years in that communion, but enough’s enough and pushing the denominational hobbyhorse about the unconditional CoG so far as to make it the paradigm for the marriage covenant is where the line is drawn in the sand for me. IOW I appreciate the dogmatism of the PRC’s, but within Scriptural and reasonable limits, in that order.

    Re. Matt. 19 & “in the beginning it was not so”.
    IOW in the Garden before the Fall, guess what? There was no divorce. Is anybody surprised?

    But Moses allowed it,i.e. divorce. So did Christ, though the Jews had perverted it by allowing it for any and all reasons.
    But Christ says only for fornication or porneia.
    And then it is allowed.
    The disciples protest, they hold the broad view of lawful causes for divorce and Christ clarifies his comments further.

    Rom 7 is talking in context about the law. It is applicable to marriage, but not definitively, nor does it rule out the exceptions because of “porneia” or fornication.

    As re. dead in general – the guilty party in adultery in the OT was executed. No need for divorce there, folks, your spouse is deceased and you are free to remarry. Hence the term in the WCF. (As I understand it rape, adultery,kidnapping and murder were capitol offenses in that day, but I could be wrong, which wouldn’t be the first time.)

    Further the Scots recognized the ‘deceitfulness of man’s heart in studying arguments to put asunder what God had joined together’ and among other things said, the adulterer could not marry their accomplice/partner in that obviously, if one wanted out of marriage, the solution was to commit adultery. Your partner would divorce you and then you could marry your lover/partner in crime legally and lawfully and live happily ever afterwards.
    Not.

  166. Drake Says:

    Sean,
    I wrote a book review and critique of a standard defense of the One Person view of the incarnation in defense of Clark’s position. He makes some comments in their that are helpful and one section on a two mind view that is quite vindicating.

    Book Review: The Logic of God Incarnate by Thomas V. Morris by Drake Shelton

    http://sites.google.com/a/thekingsparlor.com/the-kings-parlor/theology-proper/book-review-thomas-morris-the-logic-of-god-incarnate


  167. Bob, you obviously want to “bait” me into a debate about what is and what is not Anglican. You missed the whole point. I didn’t say that modern Anglicans are true to their formularies. What I said was the formularies themselves are Reformed and Protestant. Anyone who reads the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the 39 Articles, the Homilies, and the Ordinal cannot come away thinking that Anglo-Catholicism or Arminianism or even Amyraldianism is the confession of the English Reformers.

    Second of all, you’re forgetting that simply because today the 2 best known Reformed standards are the WS and 3 Forms does not mean that has always been the case. If you really want to understand the Reformation, it behooves you to study the Reformed confessions and standards as a collective group–even if your particular confession is the one you are obligated to uphold.

    What I have found enlightening is the amazing harmony and agreement of the many confessions. The reason I do not think the 39 Articles limit one to Amyraldianism as the Sydney Anglicans would have us believe, is that I can read the history of the English Reformation and the Synod of Dort, the Lambeth Articles of 1595, the Irish Articles of 1615, and the Westminster Confession of 1645. All of these confessions are related to one another.

    To ignore history is to repeat the errors of history.

    Charlie


  168. Daniel,

    The PRCA certainly does not speak for all the Dutch Reformed. However, the PRCA is certainly more faithful to the original language and intent of the Three Forms of Unity than the Christian Reformed Church. The CRC for all practical purposes has gone Amyraldian and even liberal in my opinion.

    I don’t agree with the PRCA on everything. They are way too fundamentalist in some ways. But they are not guilty of the charge of “hyper-Calvinism,” as some reformed baptists would have us believe. Rather, the RBs are a mix of common grace, incipient Arminianism, and even Amyralidianism.

    In short, I prefer the “fundmentalists” over liberals and neo-orthodoxy any day of the week.

    Charlie


  169. Drake, Scripture unequivocally states that Jesus Christ is God and that He is a man. You can re-argue the theology until eternity but the orthodox position is biblical whether you admit it or not. That is not in dispute by anyone except heretics.

    The Anabaptists love to radically question what has been accepted as Scriptural since the beginning.

    Charlie


  170. Bob, maybe you’ve never read the 39 Articles? Article 17 clearly teaches the sovereignty of God in salvation:

    Article XVII
    Of Predestination and Election

    Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, He hath constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by His Spirit working in due season; they through grace obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works; and at length by God’s mercy they attain to everlasting felicity.

    As the godly consideration of Predestination and our Election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: so for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation or into wretchlessness of most unclean living no less perilous than desperation.

    Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise as they be generally set forth in Holy Scripture; and in our doings that will of God is to be followed which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.

  171. Bob Suden Says:

    Charlie,
    No I haven’t, but that’s not the point.
    Anglicanism is not reformed in worship or government.
    And while the Irish Articles allude to the CoW in para.21, what about the 39A?
    Yet regardless of the 39A, the CoW is the majority position in the P&R tradition, whatever the PRC’s scruples on the doctrine. That at least is my point.
    Thank you.


  172. Bob, your point is wrong. The covenant of works is only mentioned in the Westminster Confession of Faith. It’s not mentioned in the Three Forms of Unity. It’s not mentioned in the Savoy Declaration or the Second Helvetic Confession, nor is it mentioned in the First Helvetic Confession. It’s not mentioned in the 39 Articles but that does not mean that the 39 Articles are not Reformed. I’ve seen it listed by many Reformed scholars as a Reformed Confession.

    Again, your ignorance of Anglican history and the current situation in the Anglican communion is appalling. First of all, there are many 5 point Calvinists in the Anglican Communion, including J.I. Packer and Gerald Bray. Also, the Sydney Anglicans, a diocese in Australia, is Evangelical, low church, and mostly either 4.5 or 5 Calvinist.

    As you ought to know Scripture itself is the final authority, not the confessions. Any Reformed confession–whether it be the WCF or the Belgic Confession, the 2nd Helvetic Confession–or whatever has no more authority than it can prove from Scripture itself.

    Charlie

  173. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: You can have the last word.

    Cliffton: Thank you for this fine gesture. I think I will avail myself to it.

    Sean: Where is your proof that divorce in Scripture does not mean a cessation of the marital bond

    Cliffton: The burden of proof is upon those who are ASSERTING that divorce means a cessation of the marital bond. All the texts that have been referenced by those who deny the biblical position of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, have come down to one thing, the “exception clause.” Here they beg the question. All the texts mentioned do not support the claims of the WCF. Only in so far as they utilize their invalid inference from the “exception clause” can these other texts not be an explicit rejection of the WCF. For example:

    As you acknowledged, Romans 7 teaches that death destroys the marriage bond. And, in so far as one marries another while the spouse is still alive, “she shall be called an adulteress.” Yet you not only claim that there are other means that destroy it, but also, and in direct contradiction to Paul’s explicit statement, you claim that a woman can marry another while her husband is yet alive and not be called an adulteress. This you can’t get from the text. Your proof is the invalid inference drawn from the “exception clause.”

    Let me in closing say a few words concerning Matthew 5. This text specifically says that if a man divorces his wife, except for fornication, and marries another, he CAUSES HIS WIFE TO COMMIT ADULTERY. In view of Matthew 19:9, I believe that we would both agree that this man in Matthew 5 would be identified as an adulteror, for he divorced his wife not on account of adultery and married another. So now we have a guilty party (the husband), and the innocent party (the wife). But the husband in Matthew 5, the guilty one, is said to CAUSE HIS WIFE, the innocent one, TO COMMIT ADULTERY. How can this be if, as you say, the bond has been broken? One could claim that he causes her to commit adultery in so far as she might pursue a sexual relationship outside the institution of marriage. Yet Matthew 5 not only says that he causes her to commit adultery, but also, THAT WHOSOEVER MARRIES HER, the innocent party, COMMITTETH ADULTERY! So now we have a particular example of the remarriage of an innocent party. And yet, the man who marries this woman, the innocent party, is identified as an adulteror. This explicitly contradicts the WCF and your claims. And it does so, properly applying the “exception clause.”

    “His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.”

    May he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.

    Sean, thank you for this fine discussion.


  174. Bob, you make my point for me. The Irish Articles are proof enough that there does not need to be any idea of “merit” in the covenant with Adam.

    21. Man being at the beginning created according to the image of God (which consisted especially in the Wisdom of his mind and the true Holiness of his free will) had the covenant of the law ingrafted in his heart: whereby God did promise unto him everlasting life, upon condition that he performed entire and perfect obedience unto his Commandments, according to that measure of strength wherewith he was endued in his creation, and threatened death unto him if he did not perform the same. http://www.lasalle.edu/~garver/irish.html

    And the Belgic Confession says:

    Article 14: Of the Creation, Fall and Corruption of Man

    We believe that God created man of dust from the ground[1] and He made and formed him after His own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy.[2] His will could conform to the will of God inevery respect. But, when man was in this high position, he did not appreciate it nor did he value his excellency. He gave ear to the words of the devil and wilfully subjected himself to sin and consequently to death and the curse.[3] For he transgressed the commandment of life which he had received; by his sin he broke away from God, who was his true life; he corrupted his whole nature. By all this he made himself liable to physical and spiritual death.[4] http://www.christurc.org/belgic.html#a14

    The 39 Articles were expanded by the Irish Articles, which incorporated the Lambeth Articles of 1595 and then the Irish Articles were the basis for the Westminster Confession of 1645. The idea that the 39 Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, etc., are not really Reformed is just ridiculous. Simply because Anglo-Catholics departed from the English Reformation does not mean that the English Reformation wasn’t Calvinistic.

    The Swiss Reformers in the Second Helvetic Confession do not go into detail either:

    CHAPTER VIII
    Of Man’s Fall, Sin and the Cause of Sin

    THE FALL OF MAN. In the beginning, man was made according to the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness, good and upright. But when at the instigation of the serpent and by his own fault he abandoned goodness and righteousness, he became subject to sin, death and various calamities. And what he became by the fall, that is, subject to sin, death and various calamities, so are all those who have descended from him. http://www.ccel.org/creeds/helvetic.htm

    The Canons of Dort:

    Article 1. Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright; all his affections pure; and the whole man was holy; but revolting from God by the instigation of the devil, and abusing the freedom of his own will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and on the contrary entailed on himself blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity and perverseness of judgment, became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections. http://www.christurc.org/dort.html#a28

    And even the Westminster Confession does not mention merits at all in the formulation of the Covenant of Works!

    Of God’s Covenant with Man.

    I. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him, as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

    II. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience. http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/westminster_conf_of_faith.html

    I have no problem with the doctrine of the covenant of works since it seems to me that it is in harmony with the Scriptures and the other Reformed confessions. I do object to idea of “merit” in the covenant of works, however. The command to obey does not entail merits but rather simple obedience. Disobedience brings consequences but obedience does not merit anything.

    Only a divine man could “merit” salvation for us.

    Charlie

  175. speigel Says:

    Without discussing the merit of either the one-person or two-person theory, Drake’s review of Morris’ book is more evidence of his sloppy research and reading skills.

    First, according to Morris, an individual-nature is NOT defined as an individual (person). It is therefore not tautological nor contradictory for Morris to use the term. It is proper to say that an individual has an individual-nature. For example, X is a human and therefore belongs to the kind-nature of humanity. X also has 6 fingers on one hand and has red hair on his head – this belongs to his individual-nature. Therefore X fits in the kind-nature of humanity yet exhibits an individual-nature, which includes the kind-nature of humanity, of 6 fingers and red hair. Not all those who have the kind-nature of humanity have X’s individual-nature of 6 fingers and red hair. The lack of reading skills from Drake is appalling.

    Second, Drake misquotes Morris. Drake says that Morris claimed “Christ as God existed before the days of Herod and Christ as man did not exist before the days of Herod.” Morris was quoting someone else when Morris said that statement! Morris repeatedly talks about his dislike of using (this) reduplication as a way to explain the incarnation. Also, Cyril’s anathema, which Morris also quotes in the book, is against those who uphold a two-person theory. Drake doesn’t understand Cyril either.

    Third, Drake says that Morris fails to explain how two minds make one person. Of course Morris failed to explain that which he never said. Morris never said that the two minds make one person. Morris said that the one person has two minds. Morris, with orthodox Christology, says that Christ was already a person before taking on a human mind. Did Drake only spend 5 minutes reading this book?

    Lastly, Drake complains about Morris’ use of psychology all the while Clark had complained about the one-person theory because of psychology. Great double standard, Drake.

    More of his “review” can be said, but it’s stupid that others should have to do the hard and proper work that Drake should have initially done. (Did you even try?) Everyone should read Morris for himself as Drake clearly can’t read.

  176. Bob Suden Says:

    Charlie, if you want people to read your posts and interact with them, please return the favor.
    Reformed refers to confessionally reformed in doctrine, worship and government. Lutheranism and Anglicanism are protestant churches that are reformed in their soteriology, but not their government and worship. Consequently when it comes to discussing the reformed faith or reformed churches, the P&R standards generally get the nod and the majority of recognition. Sorry, but it’s called history and there’s an objective reason for it. That’s not a putdown, it’s a fact.

    Further the WS explicitly recognize the CoW because by that time the doctrine had developed and while the 3Fs don’t, the Synod of Dordt called for and the reformed church of Holland officially approved an annotated Bible which affirms the doctrine. It is also found elsewhere both before and after the 3F in the Dutch reformed tradition as per Lems’s The Covenant of Works in Dutch Reformed Orthodoxy. We are not to make a man an offender for a word or exalt shibboleths, but neither are we to quibble when something is taught in substance, though not labeled as such.

    The PRC’s may scruple at the doctrine, but it has got at least as much going for it in the reformed tradition as infra or supralapsarian, the last of which is another PRC “extra-confessional” hobbyhorse.

    Clifton,
    I agree with you, except.
    Except for fornication or
    “saving for the cause of fornication”.
    Yes, the innocent party is guilty of adultery if they get remarried – except in the case of fornication.
    Not to be boorish, but it is called the historical and grammatical interpretation of Scripture.
    That is why people balk at the PRC pov on the question.
    But I didn’t say it, another PRC elder did. ‘How come we are so stubborn we have to hit people over the head to get their attention?’
    Thank you.

  177. Daniel Chew Says:

    @Charlie:

    >But they are not guilty of the charge of “hyper-Calvinism,” as some reformed baptists would have us believe

    I do not think so either. However, their belief in Eternal Justification seems to lead to some hyper-cal tendencies (tendencies, not that they are as yet).

    >In short, I prefer the “fundmentalists” over liberals and neo-orthodoxy any day of the week.

    Actually, I don’t know whether such comparisons can be made. Are we supposed to choose between the better of two evils? At least it is blatantly obvous that the liberals are heretics, and slightly less obvious but still noticeable that neo-orthodox are heretics too. Tbe PRCA however claim to follow Scripture and consider themselves heirs of the Reformation (which I must say that in somme sense they are). Not to mention they are extremely polemical on certain hobbyhorses of theirs, some of which they are wrong and some of which are non-essential (ie supra- vs infralapsarianism).

  178. qeqesha Says:

    Bob Suden,
    “Lutheranism and Anglicanism are protestant churches that are reformed in their soteriology, but not their government and worship.”

    What is not reformed about anglican worship and government? Do you mean they call upon Mary, and have seven sacraments? Do they recognise papal authority etc etc?
    You must be drinking something you shouldn’t, Bob!

    “Consequently when it comes to discussing the reformed faith or reformed churches, the P&R standards generally get the nod and the majority of recognition. Sorry, but it’s called history and there’s an objective reason for it. That’s not a putdown, it’s a fact.”

    That may be history, but it’s just ignorance … what we are after is the truth.

    There are differences in the details of worship and government, but both Presby and Anglican are reformed. I am not endorsing everything done by everyone who calls themselves anglican or presbyterian as reformed. In my anglican church, we do not have “priests” and they do not wear dresses, though we have a couple of bishops.

    Denson

  179. Sean Gerety Says:

    Denson, for one thing an episcopal for of govt is more hierarchical, whereas the Reformed have a representative form of govt where church officers are nominated and elected (Acts 15:22) from the congregation, not appointed.

  180. Bob Suden Says:

    Denson,

    If you get a chance take a look at H. Davies Worship of the English Puritans. It has been reprinted by Sola Gratia Publ. in paperback. The watershed issue between the Lutheran/Anglicanism and the Reformed/Presbyterian is not over soteriology, but over worship. See also Eire’s (incidentally he is a Romanist) War Against Idols and the largely unreported destruction of idols and purification of the churches at the Protestant Reformation. L/A sees worship and govt. as indifferent. P/R see it as jus divinum or divine right.

    In short it boils down to the good and necessary consequences of the Second Commandment: Whatsoever is not commanded by God, explicitly or implicitly (WCF 1:6)is forbidden.

    Not only gross idolatry, but also the superstitious inventions and additions of men to the worship of God is forbidden. As per WCF 21:5 and the list of the elements of worship, the Word is central, being read, preached, sung in the psalms and as the basis of the prayers, along with the administration of the visible word in baptism and the Lord’s supper.

    Luther(though maybe not the Anglicans) accepted the Roman division of the commandments, and the Second with its explicit condemnation of idolatry is subsumed under the first and the tenth commandment is split in half in order to get ten commandments. (See the Roman and Lutheran catechisms on the law.)

    Reformed – in doctrine, worship and government.
    The Word of God is sovereign – in the doctrine, worship and government of Christ’s church.
    God tells us how we will be saved, what we will teach and preach, how we will worship and how is church is to be ruled.

    Again, the Lutheran and Anglican churches are reformed in their soteriology, but not their worship and ch. government.

    “Bob, you make my point for me. The Irish Articles are proof enough that there does not need to be any idea of “merit” in the covenant with Adam.”

    Dunno what you mean by this, Charlie. For the record again, I never insisted on merit in the CoW and it is not found in the WCF. God “condescended” to make a covenant with man.
    Thank you.

  181. Gus Gianello Says:

    Lets not make too much of this guys. Lutheranism Anglicanism, Reformed, and Presbyterian are all reformation churches. In a properly functioning Lutheran or Anglican church I would not hesitate to attend. I would not become a member, because I dont buy into the real presence or bishops, but congregations that follow their original standards are REALLY Christian Churches. But I have to wonder about the PCA presbytery an acquaintance of mine belongs to. He was threatened with discipline for refusing to refer to the pope as “our brother in Christ” and calling him the antichrist.

    To be reformed, rather than reformational I think means, believing in the regulative principle of worship. What God has not explicitly or implicitly by good and necessary consequence allowed, is forbidden. And I would add, a representative form of government.

    So trust me guys, there are lots of OPC, PCA, URCNA, and BP ministries, that are not reformed, or reformatonal, I dont understand why they have not joined the Roman Communion.

    Gus

  182. mqeqeshi Says:

    Sean and Bob,
    “Denson, for one thing an episcopal for of govt is more hierarchical, whereas the Reformed have a representative form of govt where church officers are nominated and elected (Acts 15:22) from the congregation, not appointed.”
    Pastors, who must have at least a seminary qualification need to apply for a job, attend an interview, have their cv scrutinised etc etc, all this is done by a presbytery not the congregation. It would be impractical to have a congregation “appoint” anyone. We recently had a change of pastor in our congregation, and we had various candidates preach at our church, then only those the congregation had a preference for were interviewed by session and by mutual agreement whoever accepted the position. I do not know where you get your information from! This is the kind of ignorance and misinformation that Presbyterians like to keep because it seems to reinforce in them this bizzare desire to be thought to be the only reformed! This is so childish it defies explanation. The reformation, the restoration of God’s church took place in geographically dispersed places in Europe and by God’s providence took various forms in as far as certain details are concerned. The Dutch reformed, the Lutherans, the Swiss, the English puritans, the Scotish, the Irish and the French all had their own perculiarities. They are all reformed though disagreeing in certain details. It is common practice to refer to the various reformed churches by their perculiarities rather than the essential truth of the Gospel. i.e. the Presbyterians refers to their form of church government, the Episcopal refers to their form of church government, Congregationalists refers to their form of church government, the Baptists refered to their view of credal baptism etc etc. Even among the presbyterians or all reformed churches, there is various disagreements on a number of issues eg infra and supralapsarians, pre, post, and a -milianism etc etc It is rather arbritary and quite immature to say because a certain church has an “episcopate” and another doesn’t it makes one reformed and the other not! On the other hand, the “hireachical” shepherding loonies were presybeterians and I dare say they did not get it from us Anglicans.

    Bob, you seem to be quoting from the 39 Articles but forgot they are Anglican.
    Article VI “Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation”.
    Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation….

    Nothing is to be believed or required of anyone as an article of faith that is not stated in scripture or can be deduced by good and necessary consequencies. You have not proved anything that the 39 Articles contain that cannot be proved from scripture.

    The trouble with the so called “whatever is not commanded is forbidden” is that we then need papal authority to decide for us if meeting at 09:00HRS is ok since it is not commanded in scripture and many other things that are expedient for the worship of God. It is such wild extrapolations with their glaring contradictions that reduce some so called reformed people into ludicrous and laughable caricatures of christian piety.

    Denson


  183. Bob, you seem to not know the 39 Articles. Article 19 defines the visible church as a “congregation” where the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments duly administered. Also, the Sydney Anglicans have rightly argued for lay administration of the sacraments and for congregational calling of the ministers based on Article 23.

    See Articles 19-23 at: http://www.members.tripod.com/~gavvie/39articles/art3.html


  184. By the way, your prayers would be appreciated. My house burned down on March 4. I was able to save my books, clothes, and computer. However, my sister lost everything. See the story at: http://www.wftv.com/news/22748185/detail.html#COMMENTTOP

    Your prayers would be appreciated. If anyone would like to donate to assist in relocation, contact http://www.christchurchlongwood.com or call 407-339-6812.

    Charlie


  185. Gus, the 39 Articles do not teach real presence. The Articles are either Zwinglian or Calvinist on the sacraments. They are certainly not Lutheran or Anglo-Catholic regarding the Lord’s Supper. See Articles 25-31:

    http://www.members.tripod.com/~gavvie/39articles/art3.html

  186. Sean Gerety Says:

    That’s terrible Charlie. I’ll certainly be praying for you. Is the story you linked your house? It says the person renting the the house is Eric Thomas and the owner is Doris Ochoa.

  187. Bob Suden Says:

    Charlie and Denson,
    I am sorry, but I don’t see where your responses are germane.
    Again, the Lutheran, Anglican, Congregational, Baptist, Presbyterian and Reformed churches are all Protestant churches. They all affirm Just. by faith alone.

    The differences in general lie in sacraments/worship and government.

    Govt. is either monarchical/hierarchical,episcopal; presbyterian/republican; or congregational/ democratic (I am NOT talking about politcal parties, but rather principles. Rule by representatives (elders) is a republic. Rule by congregation is democratic). Your example sounds like a mix, Denson, of episcopal and presbyterian.

    Art. 20 in the 39 articles has a long history of objections from the Puritan presbyterian party. It allows the church to introduce rites and ceremonies not commanded by God which conflict with the purity of worship according to presbyterianism.

    They include vestments, kneeling at communion, musical instruments,uninspired hymns, feastdays etc.
    and go beyond or have in the past, mere allowance to the point of mandatory compliance. You must wear this, you must pray this etc.

    The WCF 1:6 to the contrary says besides what is expressly or by good and necessary consequences found in Scripture that:

    “there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.”

    In other words, time and place, a building, chairs, a public address system, bathroom etc. are not elements of divine worship needing papal direction to resolve. They are merely common to human societies and actions in general rather than the supposed chink in the armor to the reformed doctrine of worship/regulative principle of worship.

    Again protestant and reformed are not necessarily synonymous and if the Lutheran/Anglican churches want to quarrel about that, the question is why do they call themselves what they do and not reformed like the “Reformed Churches”? Answer: Because they are not reformed in worship and government. Those issues are adiaphora/indifferent according to L/A and it is reflected in their name. That is what they teach. More power to them. The P&R disagree. That does not mean that they L&A churches are not protestant and nobody has ever said that, whether in general or on this forum.

    Personally coming from a Roman background, I was very surprised at how much was retained in the Lutheran church I once visited. (Never been to an Anglican church.) The gospel was preached, but the accompanying paraphernelia was an eye opener and a distraction, if not that as P&R now, I think it needs to go on the basis of the RPW. Likewise a lot of stuff in the nominal P&R churches these days, but that’s a different story and explains why there are so many different P&R’s.

    Thank you.

  188. Bob Suden Says:

    Sorry to hear about the fire, Charlie.

  189. Jim Butler Says:

    I am sorry too Charlie. I trust the Lord will see you through this trial.

    jim

  190. Lauren Kuo Says:

    Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Matthew 5:11.

    It looks like you are getting blessed again over at Green Baggins. Keep up the good work, Sean. We need a few “brood of vipers”- “whitewashed tombs” truth-preaching bloggers. When they can’t attack the truth of the message, they’ll always attack the messenger.

  191. Gus Gianello Says:

    Dear Charlie,
    I am so sorry to hear about your house. I wish I could help. But it seems the closer to the truth you are, the poorer you are. I can only offer you my prayers, and hope that the Lord will make provision for you.

    Speaking of prayers, I would appreciate everyone’s prayers for my situation. My wife went to BC to see her family, and when she came home Tuesday night all seemed fine. But, the first thing we had to deal with Wednesday morning was a visit from the local children’s services. It seems we were anonymously reported for our kids being truant from school and not eating properly. IE, we are starving them. Now they are insisting on having a conversation with the kids in private. I dont know what it is like in your area but in Ontario, the Children’s Aid Societies are out control. Canada is a fascist country, everything is done for the “common good.” Last week it was reported by the media, that a child that had been taken from its parents by children’s aid, had been murdered in foster care. The CAS in Oshawa, is the only CAS in Canada, that has been successfully sued for client abuse. Pray for us.

    Gus


  192. Hi, Sean…

    My sister owns the mobile home. I was renting from her for 10 years. I’m divorced.

    The other guy is a roommate who was renting the other room.

    Charlie


  193. Gus, it’s called “socialism.” When the socialists take over the first thing to go is freedom of religion. When the atheists run the country every Christian is suspect and a “fundamentalist.”

    Regarding my situation, I’m the only educated one in my family. The rest are all high school dropouts.

    Quote of the Day: “They is only one thang worse than a ig-no-rant redneck….. a ed-ju-muh-cated redneck.”


  194. Redneck theologian, “Never do theology without havin’ a beer first.”


  195. Bob, regarding your remarks about Anglicanism and Lutheranism, I would agree that you are “generally” correct. However, you’re committing a fallacy called “sweeping” generalization. Not “all” Anglicans are Lutheran in their theology of the sacraments. Also, the 39 Articles are the “official” doctrine of the Anglican communion even if the vast majority either ignore them or re-interpret them via Anglo-Catholicism. The Articles uphold a Calvinist or Zwinglian reformed view of the sacraments. I fail to see why you would object to that?

    Also, the Lutherans are not “reformed.” They are Lutheran. And modern Lutherans would have declared Luther a heretic because their theology is determined more by Melancthon than Luther.

    Furthermore, I would say that you’re failing to recognize that not all the Reformed churches are “Puritan.” The Presbyterians are not uniform on the so-called regulative principle of worship.

    The fact of the matter is the Puritans and Presbyterians are not as uniform as you seem to paint them. There are a great many varieties of presbyterians and all of them have different understandings of the Westminster Standards.

    Not all Presbyterians adhere to the regulative principle and not all presbyterians sing the psalter instead of the hymns. While I would agree that the Reformed Anglicans are not “Puritans”, that does not mean that they are not “reformed.”

    Samuel Luenberger, the Swiss Reformed theologian, wrote a book in the 1990’s called Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s Immortal Bequest. He argued that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer was the most evangelical and evangelistic liturgy then and since that time.

    The prayer of humble access in the Lord’s Supper, for example, says, “We do not presume to come to this thy table, Oh, Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies…”

    The problem with not having a Reformed liturgy is that worship becomes generic and less Scriptural. 90% of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer services come straight from Scripture. AND the 1662 lectionary has longer and more extensive Scripture readings than ANY Presbyterian service I have ever attended.

    IF the Puritans are so great, in your opinion, Bob, then why do you cut out so much Scripture in your services???? The 1662 BCP has three psalms in Morning Prayer and three in the Evening Prayer. The whole Psalter is read in 30 days. So the whole Psalter is read through 12 times a year. Can you match that?

    Also, the 1662 Lectionary does not edit out the more controversial Scripture reading as you see in many Presbyterian services. There is no Reader’s Digest lectionary. You get the exhaustive reading. Simply reading the Bible to people makes all the difference.

    There is an OT reading, an Epistle Reading, and a Gospel Reading. Count ’em. That’s Psalms, OT, NT/Gospel reading. And if you read the Propers for Holy Communion that’s more Scripture. You won’t find any Presbyterian church reading that much Scripture in a service.

    I might also mention the collects and prayers are all thoroughly Calvinistic. “Lord grant us the grace to do according to thy will….” etc.

    Bob, I hate to burst your bubble, but I have to say a truly Reformed Anglican service is more “Reformed” than anything you’ll get in a Presbyterian service.

    How about the confession of sin? The BCP confession is way more biblical than any so-called RPW Presbyterian. The last RPW service I attended they had a “silent” confession of sin!

    That’s more like an agnostic service than Christian! The BCP has “biblical” confession for the whole congregation to say together because ALL have SINNED:

    LMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

    When is the last time you heard a Puritan asking for God to have mercy upon him?????

    And the 1662 BCP calls for the decalogue to be read every time the Lord’s Supper is administered. After each commandment the sinner says: “Lord have mercy upon us and incline us to keep this law…”

    After the last one we say: “Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee.”

    Now I will admit that most Anglicans don’t follow the 1662 BCP anymore. But if you have ever worshipped where the 1662 BCP was read, you cannot come away with any other understanding but that this is a Reformed service.

    So, Bob, please save your breath. Anyone with any knowledge of the 39 Articles and the 1662 BCP knows that both are reformed if not Puritan. Too bad the Puritans forgot that liturgy serves a didactic or teaching function as well. It teaches biblical theology.

    I think memorizing Scripture and a solidly biblical liturgy serves to instruct and teach. Ignorance and “silent prayers of confession” are just silly, imo.

    Hope this clarifies why “I” am Reformed and you are not, Bob.

    Charlie


  196. The Lectionary readings for March: 1662 BCP

    The Psalter readings for today: http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/psalter/psalms_1.html#Day7E


  197. The Collect.
    ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Ash Wednesday

  198. mqeqeshi Says:

    Bob,
    “The differences in general lie in sacraments/worship and government.”

    What sacraments are you talking about,Bob?
    Article XXV “…. There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord ….”
    Anglicans, have just these two. Do you, Bob, have more perhaps?

    As for worship, the so called “un-inspired songs” are no more un-inspired than sermons. A sermon is the word of God if it accurately expounds the word of God. And anything that can be deduced from the word by good and necessary consequencies is the word of God. The same applies to singing. If a song’s content is sound theologically or its contents can be deduced from the word of God by good and necessary consequencies, it is the inspired word of God and it can be sung in worship of God. If we restrict singing to the psalms, why not restrict sermons to only those recorded in the Bible and to only reading passages from the Bible?

    Your charge that Article XX allows for things that are against the word of God is simply not necessitated by logic.
    Article XX says “The Church has power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree anything against the same, ….”
    The articles say over and over that nothing may be ordained that is against the word of God. So, whether it is “feast days” or “smells and bells”, people can not justify these from the 39 articles as they perversely imagine! Further, the Rites and Ceremonies refered to are such things as Marriage, Funeral, Ordination of ministers, even the order of a church service in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper and anything that may be necessitated by circumstances. These things are not laid out in the Bible and so the church may ordain them with the proviso that they they may not be against the word of God. No denomination can avoid these things. To argue as you do that ” Art. 20 in the 39 articles … It allows the church to introduce rites and ceremonies not commanded by God which conflict with the purity of worship according to presbyterianism.

    They include vestments, kneeling at communion, musical instruments,uninspired hymns, feastdays etc.
    and go beyond or have in the past, mere allowance to the point of mandatory compliance. You must wear this, you must pray this etc.” is to argue precisely like Anglo-Catholics and Arminians who in their perverse minds imagine that the 39 Articles provide justification for their perversities! This is like arguing that the Westminster Confession “allows” for the Federal Vision, Norman Shepherd, van Til etc etc. No! People corrupt the word of God inspite of its purity because of abominations in their hearts.

    As for Traditions of the Church, Article XXXIV says, “It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, and utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word….”

    As for monarchy, there is nothing wrong with it per se, but for the fall of man. The same problem of the fall attends to republican, democratic and mornachical systems or any systems of man. When God expressed displeasure at the Israelites’ pining for a King, it was not the concept of a king that God was condemning, for God himself was Israeli’s king. It was their rejection of God as king over them and their choice of the heathen model of king that He was angry at. Samuel gave them the rundown of what a heathen king is like. In the New Testament Jesus does not condemn leadership, but rather prescribes the kind of leadership approved of God, which is servanthood. He did not express preference for a particular system. It is not therefore the system, whether a so called representative, hiearchical or democratic, that guarantees godliness but rather servanthood. All these systems in practise are represantative. Not everyone can be a pastor or bishop or a king. Only one person can be appointed in all three. Presbyterians are as hierarchical as anybody, though they may use different titles for their hierarchies from other denomns!
    As Charlie noted, you do not seem to know what you are talking about when you refer to the 39 articles. The 39 articles are reformed confessions.

    Denson

  199. mqeqeshi Says:

    Charlie,
    Thank you charlie for being a little more forth right with Bob! I sometimes want to tell my reformed bretheren, the presbys, that they need to pull their heads out of their presby posteriors and smell some coffee. But then Sean has warned me against use of such language before, so I won’t say it!

    Denson

  200. Bob Suden Says:

    What do they say:
    ‘You don’t catch a lot of flak unless you’re over the target.’

    Or ‘ methinks he protesteth too much’.

    “Bob, regarding your remarks about Anglicanism and Lutheranism, I would agree that you are “generally” correct.”

    Thank you, Charlie, you just gave it away/made my case.
    We’re talking classic confessional distinctions here regardless that there is a great deal of declension in the representatives of all the confessional traditions today.

    Neither I am I arguing so much about sacraments other than re. Lutheranism in that Luther had a real difference with the reformed over what the sacraments meant/represented. Yet the point is that the reformed doctrine of worship flows out of the second mark of the church, the proper administration of the sacraments. IOW only whatsoever sacrament is commanded by Christ is lawful in the worship of God. There are only two, and the five roman pretenders have to beat it.

    The puritan/presbyterian argument against prayer books is simple. As Geo. Gillespie put it in part in Reasons For which the ServiceBook Urged Upon Scotland Ought to be Refused,

    “It is against the dignity of Christ, in making his gifts needless. For though he send down no gifts at all, they can serve themselves with the book, without them.
    It quenches the Holy Spirit, because he gets no employment.
    It hinders the edification of God’s people because they may as well stay home and be edified by reading the book themselves . . .
    It fosters a lazy ministry, and makes way for putting down preaching. They need take no pains, and therefore need no stipend. Yea, they may come from the alehouse, or a worse place, and step to and read their service, without either check or preparation.
    It may be done by a boy of seven years old, and so every private man that may read, yea, a Turk if he may read, may be such a minister.
    It cannot express the several needs of all people to God, or deal with them, according to their several estates, that will alter otherwise than any prescript form can be applies to.
    If any one stinted liturgy had been good, or needful, no doubt but Christ would have set one down for us.”

    As to the question of which service is more reformed, take for instance the Lord’s Prayer. Is it more biblical to just repeat the prayer by rote or to understand it as an example also and as the P&R catechisms do, go through and expound the principle of each clause so that one might enter into the spirit of prayer and not just the letter.
    Again while it might appear very biblical to repeat it by rote, as well as read Scripture, I did enough of that attending mass, as well as being a reader at mass in grade school, versus praying after the example of Scripture and the Lord’s prayer.

    Contra the very common paradigm that sees preaching, praying and singing as given over to liberty, the Westminster divines saw 4 elements in worship, the reading and preaching as directed to the congregation and the praise of God in song and prayer as addressing God.
    The first two of each couplet, the reading and singing are restricted to the inspired scripture and hymnbook (psalter) and the second two, the preaching and praying are free to expound and enlarge upon the word of God in application of the needs of the congregation.
    Secondly, it is the inspired praise of God in song and we need to hear it, as well that God commands it. Neither does the praise of God in prayer serve the same end and need as the preaching and it is to confuse categories to allow the same G&NC to apply to the songs as to the sermons. Again the sermons are addressed to the congregation, the songs to God.

    Yes, I know what Art. XX says and you should know what history has made of the “anything that is contrary to God’s Word written” clause. This is the watershed between the L/A and the P&R approach to worship. “Not contrary” or “is commanded”.
    Are feastdays commanded? No and so they are forbidden according to the P&R.
    Are they contrary? No according to the L/A and so they are permitted.
    So the historic argument of those who see nothing wrong with steadying the ark as it were. That is the lesson of history and the gist of the puritan/anglican disagreement from Knox and Jewell all the way to the Westminster Assembly a hundred years later.

    As regards the respective types of government, Calvin says that the mind of man is a perpetual idol factory. There is nothing so good as man cannot confound and debase it.
    Yet the material point is, if power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely as the romanist, Lord Acton put it, which type of government works best at separating the powers? Rule by representative (elder) is arguably the happy medium between monarchy and democracy.
    FTM the ancients considered a tyrant to be man in whom the powers were centered and it made no difference if he were benevolent or not. God is our monarch, but he is perfect, not so our earthly monarchs whether in church or state.

    As for the ad hominem cheap shots, gentlemen, there is no need for them per se if you have a reasonable, compelling or comprehensive argument or if I have descended to that level myself or my arguments are so ridiculous they deserve to be mocked on sight.

    But if that is not the case, then they reflect poorly not only on the character of the argument, but also those who make them.

    If that is the caliber of discussion you wish to maintain, then you are free to do so amongst yourselves and we will simply move on.
    It’s your choice.

    Thank you.

  201. qeqesha Says:

    Bob,
    I wouldn´t get carried away by some of these Puritan arguments as some had more to do with politics than sound scriptural teaching or logic. Gillespieś arguments for rejecting the book of common prayer are as silly as they are irresponsible. This was a time when ignorance and superstition reigned supreme amongst the people and any biblically based form of liturgy including prayers was expedient for both instructing pastors and for guiding the ignorant in biblically based worship to hasten reformation. Even today, the Anglican liturgy is far superior and is to be preferred over the free for all entertainment and nonsense one sees in churches including the reformed. One also sees Puritan pietistic tendencies in Gillepsie´s arguments such as that the Spirit is quenched by a planned service and pre-written prayers which are just plain false and have more in common with enthusiasts and charismaniacs than reformed belief.
    Your caricature of Anglican prayer, that somehow it consists of simply rote repetition of the Lordś prayer is as laughable as it is silly. This is the kind of shameless ignorance that is hard to understand amongst presbys. If you wish to be taken seriously and not invite ridicule, you will have to show seriousness in your deliberation.

    You wrote, ¨Contra the very common paradigm that sees preaching, praying and singing as given over to liberty, the Westminster divines saw 4 elements in worship, the reading and preaching as directed to the congregation and the praise of God in song and prayer as addressing God.
    The first two of each couplet, the reading and singing are restricted to the inspired scripture and hymnbook (psalter) and the second two, the preaching and praying are free to expound and enlarge upon the word of God in application of the needs of the congregation.
    Secondly, it is the inspired praise of God in song and we need to hear it, as well that God commands it. Neither does the praise of God in prayer serve the same end and need as the preaching and it is to confuse categories to allow the same G&NC to apply to the songs as to the sermons. Again the sermons are addressed to the congregation, the songs to God.¨

    There is nothing ¨given over to liberty¨. The Bible says all should be done to the glory of God. Edifying people is the work of the Spirit and is not something one may do as they please. The separation you make between preaching and singing has no biblical basis. Preaching is no less worship of God than singing. And singing is no less didatic than preaching. Singing is not entertainment either to God or man. Both are the word of God. People are edified by biblically based hymns. Further, my arguments are not against the Psalter, since I have already said singing must be biblical. I am simply saying arguments for exclusive psalmody are not sound. Are you so desperate that you have to make up things like this?

    You wrote:
    ¨Yes, I know what Art. XX says and you should know what history has made of the “anything that is contrary to God’s Word written” clause. This is the watershed between the L/A and the P&R approach to worship. “Not contrary” or “is commanded”.
    Are feastdays commanded? No and so they are forbidden according to the P&R.
    Are they contrary? No according to the L/A and so they are permitted.¨

    An argument from silence either way just won´t do. Further, it is adding to scripture. Both (some)Anglicans and Presbys suffer from poor use of logic. No case can be made for either positions based on silence. Though, in my denomination we take the route of minimal and most simple rites. In other words, no feast days, no vestments, no clowning, nothing fancy, as we don´t believe God can be flattered!
    ¨As for the ad hominem cheap shots …¨ These are I believe are deserved since you shamelessly and consistently present ignorant caricatures of Anglican belief.

    Denson

  202. Bob Suden Says:

    Denson,

    You assert that the Puritan arguments are political rather than scriptural or logical, much more Gillespie’s are silly. You need to prove, as in substantiate this. Further the preface to the Westminster Directory for Worship, written largely by puritan anglicans says pretty much the same thing as Gillsepie, noting among other things,

    ”that the Liturgy hath been a great means, as on the one hand to make and increase an idle and unedifying ministry, which contented itself with set forms made to their hands by others, without putting forth themselves to exercise the gift of prayer, with which our Lord Jesus Christ pleaseth to furnish all his servants whom he calls to that office”

    And if prayers may be read, why not sermons? Yet again another reason the puritan party objected to the bishops, who either did not preach or merely read the homilies. IOW that the Anglican liturgy is superior, is asserted, not proved.

    Neither am I caricaturing Anglican prayer to say it is the rote reading of the prayer book. That is by definition what a prayer book is. If it is not, what is it? The rote repetition of the Lord’s prayer is only the most obvious example and one that even many non anglican churches practice without paying any attention that the LP is a form or example of prayer. Not that I quarrel with the use of the Lord’s prayer in worship, just that to merely rest in repeating it is not quite what the spirit of the prayer is all about, even the spirit of prayer in general.

    As regards the parallel between songs and sermons, your argument was that just as a sermon is not required to literally repeat the Word of God, so too the songs in worship. Just as a preacher uses G&NC in a sermon, so too may hymnwriters use G&NC to pen uninspired songs.
    All this without answering, but rather ignoring the objection that the purpose of the preaching and the singing are different. While both are generically the worship of God and didactic, that is really immaterial. Rather this is to blur the distinctions and definitions,(which incidentally has been one of John Frame’s primary tactics in his campaign against the reformed doctrine of worship.)
    One is more one than the other and vice versa. The sermon is addressed to the congregation and in as much as it is usually defined as text, doctrine, application, it applies the word of God to the congregation. It is directly didactic and indirectly praises God because of that. A song is addressed to God and is not a sermon. It is the praise of God first and foremost, though it cannot help being also and indirectly didactic.
    For that matter, I am sure that all the comments written here intend to be to the praise of God, but they are first and foremost by their very nature – not even an uninspired hymn – but a didactic exercise. Even if they are just combox comments, they more resemble a sermon than a song.
    Neither does God per se need to hear our praises, but we need to hear him praised, much more it is to detract from the inspired songs to make uninspired songs equal to them by singing them along side the inspired psalms.

    As regards Art. 20, again that is the history of the matter.
    Art. 20 teaches ‘what is not contrary to the Word may be permitted in worship’.
    The RPW teaches ‘what is not commanded in the Word is forbidden in worship’. Those are two fundamentally different approaches to worship. Art. 20 says the church may introduce rites and ceremonies that are not contrary to the Word into worship. The RPW says the church may not introduce anything that is not commanded in the Word in to worship. Again, that is why historically – whatever your church does or does not do – uninspired hymns, musical instruments, vestments, feastdays were brought in or removed from the public worship of L/A and P&R churches.
    It was the grand disagreement between the puritans and the anglicans; between Knox, Jewell, Cartwright and the puritan party in the anglican church and Hooker, Laud and the bishops. That is why the puritan anglicans wrote the Westminster Standards and why the WS differ from and are not the same as the 39 Articles and why they produce different churches.

    But if that is not the reason the P&R churches do not resemble the L&A, what is the reason? Why are there differences between the reformed Anglican church and the reformed Reformed Church and what are they?
    IOW if it is not true that it has been generally admitted that those differences lie in the areas of worship and government, then it needs to be demonstrated – not asserted – that:
    1. these are not the differences, they lie elsewhere than worship and government or that:
    2. there are no differences and both churches really only differ in name; that the reformed Anglican church is the same thing as the reformed Reformed Church and that their subordinate standards teach the same thing on doctrine, worship and government.; even more that Art. 20 teaches the same thing as the RPW.

    As per Crampton on infant baptism, if you care to break a lance feel free. But there is nothing new under the sun.
    Thank you.


  203. Bob, rote reading? Gimmee a break ALL church “rote” read Scripture! How else do you “memorize” the verses? Duh! This is the silliest argument I’ve ever heard.

    The Bible tells us to hide the word in our hearts that we sin not against God. (Psalm 119:11). Furthermore, the idea that improvised prayers are more “biblical” than written prayers is silly as well–particularly when the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is thoroughly reformed and augustinian.

    What is objectionable is the “content” of prayers and liturgies, not the liturgies themselves since everyone has one. The question really is whose liturgy is most faithful to Scripture?

    Imo, that would be the 1552 or 1662 BCP.

    Sincerely,

    Charlie


  204. Bob, as for your future information, the reason the Anglican communion is apostate in many of its provinces is because of theological liberalism and Anglo-Catholicism. But then, the puritan tradition has produced the Presbyterian Church USA and the PCA. So what’s your point? The Puritans have liberals as well.

    I might add that Puritan congregationalism in New England went Socinian and produced the Universalists via Ralph Waldo Emerson and others. Again, so what is your point?

    As for infant baptism, I thought the Puritan practiced infant baptism except for maybe the particular baptists. Again, what is your point?

    And as for Cranmer, whom you mock as Crampton, Cranmer was burned at the stake for denying transubstantiation and upholding sola Scriptura, sola Fide, etc. Your ignorance is really showing.

    As I said before, Samuel Leuenberger’s book Cranmer’s Immortal Bequest proves over and over again that Cranmer is a Reformer and in line with the continental reformation. Most agree that Cranmer’s theology of the Lord’s Supper is somewhere between Calvin and Zwingli if not out and out Zwinglian.

    Perhaps what bothers you is that you’re a Reformed Baptist? Of course the Reformed Baptists are simply Anabaptist on the sacraments and don’t accept the fully reformed view of the sacraments.

    Charlie

  205. Sean Gerety Says:

    It looks like you are getting blessed again over at Green Baggins.

    It’s pretty mild over there, however it is true that linking to my blog is considered a chargeable offense in some Presbyteries. From what I understand anti-FV man, Brian Carpenter, is being investigated for violations of the Ninth Commandment in large part because he provided a link to my blog. So I guess my blog is controversial. Which is odd, since you would think the real controversy would be having men like Moon, Lawrence, Meyers, Horne, Leithart and all the rest of these FV dogs barking from PCA pulpits.

    I have figured out that being “temperate” in the PCA means shutting your mouth when the Gospel is being shredded.

  206. Bob Suden Says:

    Charlie,
    I was referring to the rote reading of prayers in the BoCP. Likewise Geo. Gillespie’s “silly” objections to the same.

    Likewise the objections of the Westminster divines, who were largely Anglican ministers, but puritan and presbyterian in principle, who wrote the Preface to the Directory for Public Worship.

    They said the DPW was a necessary replacement for the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, not only because the prelates abused it and it confirmed the papists in their worship, but it also displaced the preaching at the expense of exalting lip service to the rote prayers, hindering true religion, faithful ministers and members and ‘caused an offense abroad with the reformed churches’ Hmmm.
    They also go on to say that the DPW is an “answer the expectation of other reformed churches”. Double hmmm. The rote reading of prayer is contrary to the spirit of prayer, which is supposed to be from the heart and though premeditated, not a canned or rote affair.

    But if the anglican Westminster divines, who wrote the classic subordinate doctrinal standards of presbyterianism, don’t know what the objections to the BCP were, nobody does. Much more that contra the denials on this site, historically considered, there have been principled objections to the BCP from the “reformed churches”. IOW believe it or not, it’s not just yours truly’s fevered opinion.

    As for the question whose liturgy is most faithful to Scripture, obviously the P&R, much more the DPW, did not consider a scripted liturgy to be Scriptural, though the continental reformed churches generally have a form to be read for the administration of the sacraments. Still the prayers in the DPW which are given as examples, may be read for the prayers in worship for those who need to, but ministers in general are to stir up:

    “the gift of prayer, with which our Lord Jesus Christ pleaseth to furnish all his servants whom he calls to that office”.

    The DPW again, is a guide, not a straitjacket or a routine from which the minister may not deviate as per the BoCP.

    As for the respective apostasies of the various Protestant churches, the fact is immaterial to the discussion. What is under discussion again is the confessions and classic theological principles of the respective L/A and P&R churches.

    My point re. Crampton and infant baptism – not Cranmer – is that the issue is (again) between the RPW and Art. 20 regarding what is permitted in worship.
    Again like the Preface to the Westminster’s DPW, historically there have been differences between the P&R and the L/A approach to worship. That is not a matter of opinion. If anyone thinks so, they like Crampton (again), can break a lance, i.e. engage in denying the obvious, if not tilt at windmills and play Don Quixote.

    Neither do I have any quarrel with Cranmer, much more the Anglican view of the sacraments as being contrary to the Calvinist or reformed position, but rather again for the umpteenth time the different approach to worship (and govt.) between the reformed churches and the lutheran/anglican churches.

    Thank you.


  207. Well, Bob, since you haven’t even bothered reading the 1552 or the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, how do you even know what prayers you are objecting to????

    The issue of rote is irrelevant. You’re accusing the Prayer Book of catering to Roman Catholics and papists. But is it true? You can’t give a credible answer since you’re merely arguing from second hand sources.

    The fact of the matter is the “content” of a prayer is what determines whether or not it is biblically justifiable. Whether the prayers are read on a regular basis or whether the prayers are made up on the spot, they are still subject to be tested by Scripture.

    I might add that written prayers are well thought out for a particular theological purpose. God only knows what some idiot can say on the fly.

    The written prayers and confession of sin in the 1662 BCP far exceed anything I’ve heard in ANY RPW service. In fact, the last RPW church where I worshipped the service sounded more broadly evangelical than anything else. Sorry, but Presbyterianism is just as bad as any other broadly Evangelical church.

    If the modern Presbyterians were following the same kinds of liturgies used by Presbyterians in the 16th century, I might agree with you. But the fact of the matter is most modern churches have very SHORT worship services because people cannot be bothered with long readings of Scripture from the Bible.

    I’m willing to bet that earlier Puritans read much more Scripture in their services. Your presumption and prejudice that the BCP is inherently papist is so patently false as to need no answer.

    As for the Reformed Baptists, I’m becoming less and less impressed since they seem more committed to being “Baptist” than to being “Reformed.” Spurgeon, for example, is a mixed bag. He’s reformed but seems willing to compromise somewhat with Arminianism.

    Charlie

  208. Bob Suden Says:

    Charlie,

    ??? Your remarks continue to miss the point. I know having a house fire is no fun, but take some more time to read the posts and respond accordingly, please.

    The question or charge that I have not read the 1552 or 1662 BoCP is immaterial to my objection in principle against the rote reading of prayers, whether in the BoCP or the Westminster’s Dir. Public Worship.
    Rote repetition of even the most eloquent or “Scriptural” prayer is contrary to the spirit of prayer, though it may fulfill the letter to a T. Yes, content is important, but so also is the heart. If it is not from the heart, it is an abomination in God’s eyes, however it might appear or sound to us.

    As far as a my failure to give a “credible answer since I am merely arguing from second hand sources”, again if:
    1. the Westminster divines – who were all anglican ministers in good standing – are not credible witnesses,
    2. much more competent to the question of what the shortcomings of the BoCP were,
    3. even further that there were objections from other reformed churches to the BoCP, when those divines gave their reasons in the preface to their Directory for Public Worship, which was intended to replace the BoCP,
    Then
    4. A reasonable conclusion might be that there is no point in continuing this exercise in futility and evasion.

    As for “Your presumption and prejudice that the BCP is inherently papist is so patently false as to need no answer”, I might agree. Answers to your previous assertions don’t seem to have done any good and it might border on presumption to think things are going to change any time soon. (I could bring up the famous quote re. a certain church though, which has a Calvinist creed, an Arminian clergy and Popish ritual, but I won’t. The obfuscation is painful enough already. Why give somebody even more rope to hang their argument with.)

    That “the written prayers and confession of sin in the 1662 BCP far exceed anything I’ve heard in ANY RPW service” is again immaterial. I already affirmed that things are far gone all across the denominational spectrum.
    For the last time, the argument is about what should replace the current mess:
    1. A return to the anglican Art. 20 and the BoCP?
    2. or the reformed confessional RPW? – which steers the middle way of premeditated prayers between the rote BoCP prayers and evangelical free form gush
    3. if not that there is no real difference between the two communions in their approach to worship and government, so not to worry, both/and will suffice?

    Again I affirm the second. Best I can tell, you affirm the first, if not the third. I of course, deny this on the basis of the expert anglican witnesses aka the Westminster divines. You assert that neither I or my “second hand” sources are credible or competent. (I thereupon fall out of my chair laughing . . .) OK, whatever.

    Thank you.

  209. qeqesha Says:

    Bob,
    “Again like the Preface to the Westminster’s DPW, historically there have been differences between the P&R and the L/A approach to worship. That is not a matter of opinion.”
    I am glad that you have come down from your quixotic high horse of “L/A worship and government is not reformed” to “there are differences between the P&R and the L/A approach to worship”. Though pointless, it is a giant step and a great leap forward on your part.
    You keep on repeating the charge of “rote” reading of prayers, just how do you know that those who read these prayers are “rote” reading them? And how does the “spotanteous” emission of prayer gaurantee its genuiness? James says to his addressees that they ask and get not because they ask with wrong motives. The scriptural requirement is right motive, not spontaniety. Lazy or hypocritical pastors exist in all churches, without an Anglican liturgy.
    Your appeal to the Anglican Puritans as “expert” witnesses is unconvincing since their reasons for objecting to an orderely liturgy are vacuous or circumnstantial at best and false or selfcontradictory at worst. Following their “whatever is not commanded is forbidden”, one would commend at least their logical consistency if they forbade spontaneous prayers and argued for “rote” reading(oops!) of the prayers in the Bible(like “The prayer of Jabez”!!!!!)
    “For the last time, the argument is about what should replace the current mess:”
    Really, Bob? I thought the argument was over your remark that L/A are “not reformed in worship/government” and your spectacular failure to substantiate your assertion and desperate appeal to the lame arguments of the English puritans!!!
    “You assert that neither I or my “second hand” sources are credible or competent. (I thereupon fall out of my chair laughing . . .)”
    Laughing at one’s self is commended by doctors sometimes! I’m glad you are not taking yourself seriously! You just need to take one more step and that is, stop taking everything the puritans say as inspired!

    Denson


  210. Bob,

    If you have not done so already, I would suggest you read Gordon Clark’s book, “Justifying Faith.” The “heart” cannot be divorced from the “mind,” according to Clark. That is a pietist argument and a compromise with the holiness movement and Arminianism.

    Charlie


  211. Semper ecclesia reformanda!

  212. Bob Suden Says:

    Denson

    According to the P&R point of view the L&A are not reformed, nominally or substantially, when it comes to worship or government. Art.20 and the RPW are again, very different approaches to worship and history substantiates that.

    As far as rote reading of prayers, we are never given anything but a form to use by Christ in Scripture. It’s called the Lord’s Prayer. That’s good enough for the P&R. The L/A essentially bind the conscience when rote prayers are used. While the prayers in the DPW can be used/read verbatim in worship, by merely changing the tense, they are not required and no one’s conscience is bound, even by religious authority – which the P&R deny is a proper exercise of their authority.
    Further/again the P&R argue for the middle road in premeditated prayers, versus prayer books or evangelical gush. Likewise lazy and hypocritical pastors exist everywhere, but a prayerbook only makes it easier.

    If the reasons for Anglican Puritan objections to the BoCp are ‘unconvincing since their reasons for objecting to an orderly liturgy are vacuous or circumstantial at best and false or self-contradictory at worst,” you need to walk through their reasons and spell them out/demonstrate, rather than pontificate/assert.

    Following their “whatever is not commanded is forbidden”, one would commend at least their logical consistency if they forbade spontaneous prayers and argued for “rote” reading(oops!) of the prayers in the Bible(like “The prayer of Jabez”!!!!!)

    Spell out your argument. It is incoherent at this point.

    “For the last time, the argument is about what should replace the current mess:”
    Really, Bob? I thought the argument was over your remark that L/A are “not reformed in worship/government” and your spectacular failure to substantiate your assertion and desperate appeal to the lame arguments of the English puritans!!!”

    Yeah, you’re right. The misconstructions, confusion and introduction of irrelevancies has abounded to the point, that I either bought it for a moment or I was trying to be a nice guy and accommodate, but still refute what both you and Charlie keep wanting to bring up – the present day situation/inconsistencies of contemporary P&R and L/A churches – when it really has nothing to do with the original point.

    The English/Anglican puritans wrote the presbyterian Westminster Standards and they had their reasons for it, much more they didn’t think the liturgy/BoCP was reformed. (Imagine that! Why else would they go to all the trouble they did?) You can either rebut them or turn up the rhetoric and so far we’ve only heard the latter.
    The prelates abused the BoCP, the papists were confirmed in it, godly ministers and members were stumbled or worse by it, much more Christ’s example is to the contrary.

    Charlie,
    The head/heart distinction is immaterial to the argument. Denson mentions the concern as does the preface to the DPW. While it sounds good, even eloquent, the liturgy made and increased an idle and unedifying ministry, i.e. lazy and hypocritical. God knoweth the heart of man, that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God (cp. Lk. 16:15).

    Further semper ecclesia reformandum historically referred not to the ongoing evolution of doctrine, but that the church is constantly reforming her practice to her confession. The Reformers thought they had reached some high water marks in theology that were not to be overturned or repudiated in the next generation.

    For the L/A that means worship and government are indifferent/adiaphora and that the church via Art. 20 with the Anglicans may introduce ceremonies, including prayers, into the worship and bind men’s consciences. The P&R understand that Scripture speaks to not only doctrine, but how we are to worship and govern the church. IOW Christ has the divine right to establish how his church will worship and be governed. And yes, the P&R view the L/A position as an incomplete reformation. Nobody’s asking you to agree with that per se, but what it really sounds like, is this is the first time you and Denson have ever heard of these distinctions/differences and you won’t even admit that they exist, never mind whether they are right or wrong.

    Thank you.

  213. Sean Gerety Says:

    According to the P&R point of view the L&A are not reformed, nominally or substantially, when it comes to worship or government. Art.20 and the RPW are again, very different approaches to worship and history substantiates that.

    I confess, while I’m enjoying the back and forth, and there have been some good arguments on both sides (and a couple of historic nuggets I hadn’t heard before), I really thought this point was beyond debate.

    No one has said that Anglicans cannot be Reformed in some areas, after all, you guys have Augustus Toplady (you did have J.I. Packer but his ecumenicism pretty much did him in) ;), but when it comes to church govt and worship I really don’t understand all the fuss?


  214. Sean, I understand that Anglicanism in general is not reformed. No arguments there. I do not believe Lutheranism is reformed since they refused to compromise with the reformed in the Consensus of Tigerinus on the sacraments.

    But my point is that Anglicanism is not uniform. The 39 Articles themselves uphold the congregation as the center of authority, not the bishops. The Ordinal does not uphold the bishops as ruling over the pastors and deacons either. In essence the three offices can be understood as equal in authority.

    Also, anyone familiar with the Sydney Anglicans in Australia knows that they reject real presence, denominations as “a church,” etc. In fact, the Sydney Anglicans argue that the congregation or gathering of God’s people is the ONLY way to define the word “church.”

    By that definition, then, the presbyterian form of government is no more biblical than the episcopal form of government. In other words, a denomination is merely a secular organization because denominations are not local gatherings of Christians for fellowship and worship, Word and sacrament!

    So, Sean and Bob, your “church” is too high. A “church” is not a denomination but a congregation. I know this is a radical idea for presbyterians as well as episcopalians but I would challenge you to show from Scripture otherwise.

    Sincerely,

    Charlie


  215. Bob said:

    Charlie,
    The head/heart distinction is immaterial to the argument.

    Bob, if it is immaterial to the discussion, why did you bring it up? I merely pointed out that well thought out “reformed” prayers can be written and recited weekly to teach sound doctrine and theology. You, otoh, think prayers are more theologically correct if they are made up on the spur of the moment?

    Your point was that you think there is a dichotomy between the “mind” and the “heart.” Clark blew that one out of the water AND it is germane to this argument. In fact, I would argue that a good written prayer is more consistent with sound propositional truth than one made up spontaneously without forethought!

    Now, the problem with Anglicanism today is that only the Africans are using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer consistently. Here in the US we have the 1928 BCP, which is Anglo-Catholic, and we have the 1979 BCP, which is a mix of Anglo-Catholicism and pelagianism, particularly in the catechism and Rite II services.

    I am pushing for a return to either the 1552 or 1662 BCP. And the fact is the 1662 BCP is supposed to be the basis for doctrinal standards for ministers and congregations anyway. That’s why I’m calling for reform. Isn’t that a principle of the reformation? The church should always be reforming.

    The congregation where I worship is not perfect. But the pastor and I are on the same page when it comes to reformed and evangelical doctrine. We have one major disagreement on the atonement. Other than that he is close enough on the major doctrines that we can work things out as we go.

    Besides, you’re losing sight of the fact that God does not need you. I may disappear from blogging today or tomorrow. The house fire proves that to me. God does not need me or you or even John Robbins, who is now history. So fuss and fume all you like but God’s decrees will come to pass and fall out just as He has determined before the foundation of the world–even if that means the vast majority of “denominations” go apostate!

    Charlie


  216. I refer you to a piece written by the late David Broughton Knox, former principal of Moore Theological College in Sydney:

    http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2009/08/part-ix-thirty-nine-articles-historic.html

  217. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, I understand that Anglicanism in general is not reformed. No arguments there . . . But my point is that Anglicanism is not uniform.

    Huh? If Anglicanism is “in general not reformed” then in general it is unreformed. 🙂 Bob has not argued that Anglicanism is completely “unreformed,” except in specific areas which he has discussed at length. So if there are no augment there, what’s the argument?

    The 39 Articles themselves uphold the congregation as the center of authority, not the bishops. The Ordinal does not uphold the bishops as ruling over the pastors and deacons either. In essence the three offices can be understood as equal in authority.

    Don’t the Scriptures have only two offices, elder and deacon? FWIW I have not been impressed by arguments made by PCA types for TEs and REs.

    In fact, the Sydney Anglicans argue that the congregation or gathering of God’s people is the ONLY way to define the word “church.”

    By that definition, then, the presbyterian form of government is no more biblical than the episcopal form of government. In other words, a denomination is merely a secular organization because denominations are not local gatherings of Christians for fellowship and worship, Word and sacrament! So, Sean and Bob, your “church” is too high. A “church” is not a denomination but a congregation.

    I don’t agree with this. If the church is just defined as the local congregation what do you call the Jerusalem council in Acts 15? Wasn’t that a gathering of the church to deliberate on an important matter affecting all local congregations? I would think the Pres model of gov’t better reflects what we see in Scripture. Nowhere do we see local churches as autonomous bodies, but rather each is accountable to other even to the point where we see the collection of alms for needy believers in local churches in other countries (see Romans 15:26).

  218. Lauren Kuo Says:

    This brief article sums up why we left the PCA and the Federal Vision. It’s entitled “Satan Loves Religion”
    http://www.lwf.org/site/News2?abbr=for_&page=NewsArticle&id=6029


  219. Sean, the Council at Jerusalem was headed up by apostles. Since you have no apostles today, that doesn’t qualify. You’re sounding like you accept an episcopal view to me. Regarding “bishops” I guess you overlooked where I said that bishops, presbyters and deacons are equals not a hierarchy. A “bishop” is simply the pastor of a church or “elder” or “presbyter.” There are no NT priests except for the priesthood of believers.

    The idea that there is a denominational meeting which is the “church” is not biblical–unless of course you accept “apostolic” ministry today. Sounds like presbyterians are unwilling to give up the view of “church” as a denomination on earth rather than congregation of saints gathered around Christ.

    Charlie

  220. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, the Council at Jerusalem was headed up by apostles. Since you have no apostles today, that doesn’t qualify.

    By that logic there can be no elected elders or deacons in the church either since the first churches were founded by the apostles. Besides, what better example do you need on how to deal with controversies and questions that arise in the church (writ large of course)? What if, say, the Anglican church wanted to ordain homosexuals? Oh, that’s already happened. 😉

    I guess you overlooked where I said that bishops, presbyters and deacons are equals not a hierarchy.

    No I didn’t. You said the AC has three offices, whereas the Reformed denoms only recognize two.


  221. Sean, technically there are only 2 offices. bishop/elder/presbyter and deacon. Satisfied?

    However, both the presbyterian and the episcopal forms of government are developed out of tradition, not Scripture. There is no mention of either form of government in Scripture and your assumption that the Council at Jerusalem somehow proves all the additions that presbyterians have added are “biblical” is nonsense and simply eisogesis. Neither form of government is mentioned in Scripture, which is why all the reformed confessions identify the visible church as a congregation, not a regional denomination.

    A church is an “assembly” and as David Broughton Knox points out, it is impossible for there to worship, word, and sacrament in business setting for what is essentially a “secular” organization. That would include the various presbyterian “denominations.”

    “The authority and character of the Church was one of the principle areas of disagreement at the time of the Reformation. We have already seen that the Thirty-Nine Articles very distinctly subordinate the authority of the Church to the authority of Scripture. Of the character of the Church not much is said, but what is said is of great significance. . . . The nineteenth Article defines the church, not by reference to the ministers, but in terms of the congregation.”

    David Broughton Knox, The 39 Articles.


  222. he authority and character of the Church was one of the principle areas of disagreement at the time of the Reformation. We have already seen that the Thirty-Nine Articles very distinctly subordinate the authority of the Church to the authority of Scripture. Of the character of the Church not much is said, but what is said is of great significance. Article 19 defines the visible church in terms of a worshipping congregation. This is in sharp contrast to the Roman Catholic Church, which defines the visible church in terms of the ministry and in particular the hiearchy. In Roman Catholic theology the bishops are the ‘primary and principal’ element in the constitution of the Church.i However the twenty-third Article makes no mention of bishops in its definition of lawful ministery, and the nineteenth Article defines the church, not by reference to the ministers, but in terms of the congregation.

    The English language currently uses the word ‘Church’ with several different meanings; for example, for a building, a denomination, or a profession. We should be on our guard lest what is true of the word in one of its meanings is transferred to its use in another, and in particular we need to guard lest the aura of glory which surrounds its New Testament meaning is used to heighten loyalty to institutions other than the New Testament Church.

    In the New Testament the word ‘church’ always means ‘a gathering’ or ‘an assembly’. Acts 19 shows it was not a technical ecclesiastical word, for in verse 32 St. Luke used it of the gathering of the mob in the amphitheatre in Ephesus, and in verse 39 of the regular political assembly of the citizens. In the Old Testament the two Hebrew equivalents of the Greek ekklesia are applied to the Old Testament people of God, especially when that people is conceived of as assembling or gathering; for example when gathered around Mount Sinai for the giving of the law, or later on Mount Zion where all Israel were required to assembly three times a year. The usual English equivalents of the Hebrew are ‘congregation’ and ‘assembly’, but Stephen in Acts 7 [Acts 7:38] used the word ‘church’ (ekklesia) of this Old Testament congregation of God. In the New Testament the Christian Church is the fulfilment of the Old Testament assembly. Jesus Christ is its constituent. Just as in Exodus 19:4, 5 God is said to have gathered His people around Himself at Mount Sinai, and as later they regularly gathered at His command around His dwelling place on Mount Zion, so Christ gathers His people around Himself as their shepherd. He gathers them through the preaching of the Gospel: ‘The Lord added to their number day by day those that were being saved’ (Acts 2:47, R.S.V.). It is Christ who builds His Church (Matt. 16:18). He calls into one flock around Him His sheep, whether near or far off (John 10:16, Acts 2:39).

    The Epistle to the Hebrews makes it clear that the assembly or Church, which Christ is building now is a heavenly assembly. In Hebrews 12:18-24 the writer contrasts the assembly of which his readers are members with the Old Testament assembly of the people of God. That earlier assembly was gathered round God on Mount Sinai, but the present assembly into which Christian believers have been gathered is around the heavenly Zion, the city of the living God. This assembly is described as ‘the church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven’. It is being gathered round Christ where He now is. Our membership of this assembly or Church is a present reality. We have already come to the heavenly Zion and already are members of this ‘church of the firstborn who are in heaven’. We are already ‘seated with Him in the heavenly places’ (Eph. 2:6, R.S.V.; cf. Col. 3:1-4). The book of Revelation gives us several glimpses of this heavenly assembly around Christ in its completed eschatological character; for example, Revelation 7:9 ‘a great multitude . . . standing before the throne and before the Lamb’, and 14:1 ‘The Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty and four thousands, having his name, and the name of His Father, written on their foreheads.’

    The Scriptures make clear that Christ is now primarily to be thought of as in heaven, and this is clearly affirmed in Article 4. There are many passages in the New Testament to this effect, such as ‘seek the things that are above where Christ is’ (Col. 3:1, R.S.V.); ‘Jesus Christ who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven’ (I Pet. 3:22, R.S.V.); ‘Jesus whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things’ (Acts 3:21, R.S.V.); ‘I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God’ (Acts 7:56); ‘Absent from the body . . . present with the Lord, (II Cor. 5:8; cf. also Acts 1:11, 2:33, 9:6, 26:15-19; Phil. 3:20; I Thess. 1:10, 4:16; Heb. 9:24-28).

    Since Christ is now in heaven, it is there that the New Testament thinks of Him as building His Church, because the Church of Christ is the assembly which He calls into being around Himself. This heavenly Church or assembly round Christ is a present, not merely a future, reality, and we are to think of ourselves as already members of it, assembled with Him in heaven. It is this Church to which Jesus referred in Matthew 16:18 and which He is now building; it is this Church or assembly which He loved and gave Himself up for (Eph. 5:25). This is the Church affirmed in the Nicene Creed (endorsed in Article 8), ‘I believe one Catholick and Apostolick Church’. Its principle of unity is the fact that Christ has assembled it round Himself. It is logically impossible for Him to assemble two Churches; for Christ is to be primarily thought of as in one place only, that is, in heaven, if we are to use biblical imagery, which is the only imagery available in a matter which transcends experience.

    We are called into membership of this one Church of Christ by the preaching of the Gospel. As a consequence of membership of Christ’s Church there is a duty on Christians to assemble in local gatherings. Interestingly enough this duty was not so obvious to the early Christians that they did not need to be exhorted not to forsake the assembling of themselves together (Heb. 10:25). And the letters of Ignatius of Antioch are notorious for their constant iteration of the duty of Christians to assemble together rather than each to worship God on his own. These exhortations confirm that the word ‘Church’ refers to the heavenly assembly which Christ is gathering. For every New Testament Christian was vividly conscious, as he awaited his Lord from heaven, of belonging to His Church. The fact that they nevertheless required exhortation to assemble together suggests that their concept of the assembly of Christ, of which they all knew themselves to be members, did not of necessity suggest membership of a local gathering. It may well be that the phrase in the Creed ‘the Communion of Saints’, that is, ‘the fellowship of Christians’, refers to the visible fellowship expressed in local churches or assemblies, just as the preceding clause refers to the heavenly gathering or Church of Christ, which is the regulative antecedent of the local fellowship.

    It remains true, however, that the most frequent use of the word ‘church’ in the New Testament is of the local gathering of Christians. These local gatherings, whether at Corinth, or in the cities of Galatia, or in Jerusalem, were manifestations of the one Church of Christ. Christ had gathered them, and He Himself was present, according to His promise, where two or three were met together in His name. [Matthew 18:20]. Thus, they were gathered round Christ through His Spirit, and consequently nothing was lacking for a complete church or gathering of Christ. These gatherings were never spoken of as part of Christ’s Church because each was Christ’s Church, gathered by Him round Himself at a certain time in a certain place. They were manifestations of the heavenly Church, of which every member of the local church was at that very time a member. It is a grave mistake, common in current theology, to reverse the order, and to think of Christ’s universal Church as made up by adding together the total membership of the local churches, whether backwards through time or extensively over the earth’s surface.

    It is worth noting that Ignatius, who was the first to use the term ‘the Catholic Church’, seems to apply it to the gathering of Christians around Jesus in heaven. ‘Where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church’ (ad Smyrn., 8). From the way Ignatius is arguing it would appear that it is the heavenly assembly (‘where Jesus is’) which Ignatius designated as Catholic or universal, for he contrasts it with its counterpart, namely its local manifestation in the assembly of Christians round their minister. It is not a spiritualized presence of Jesus to which Ignatius is referring, as this would defeat his argument, which is that just as the Catholic Church is gathered round Jesus (in heaven), so Christians should gather round their bishop (in their own locality). This interpretation of Ignatius’s phrase is supported by the gloss placed on it by the interpolator in the longer recension of Ignatius’s letters. The interpolator reproduced the section almost verbatim, but instead of the clause, ‘where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church’, he has ‘where Jesus Christ is, there the whole heavenly army is present . . .’ This variation shows that the concept that Christ is in heaven was congenial, and that at least to one contemporary Ignatius’s phrase ‘the Catholic Church’ sugggested the heavenly assembly.

    The local churches come into being as their members are joined to Christ. These local churches will never be visibly one assembly until the Second Coming. Then, when Christ will be manifested, the Church (that is, all believers) will be seen united around Him (Col. 3:4). St. Paul in II Thessalonians 2:1 speaks of this quite correctly as our ‘gathering together’ around Him in the air. [I Thessalonians 4:17]. But just as at the present time Christ’s lordship is not yet manifest as it will be but remains an object of faith, so His gathering or Church is not yet manifest but remains an object of faith, not only in its characteristic of unity, but in all its characteristics as His Church, so that quite properly the Creed affirms ‘I believe in one . . . Church’.

    Article 19 gives the marks by which a Christian assembly may be distinguished from assemblies called for other purposes. It defines it in terms of its constitutive principle — the Word of God. It states that those who form the assembly have aready received this Word of God into their hearts. It is a congregation of believers. The Article further states that the activity in which the assembly engages is the ministry of the Word of God. Faith is the highest form of worship, i.e. honoring of a God whose character is love, and faith springs from hearing the Word of God. Nor can there be nobler acts of praise and adoration than proclaiming the gracious acts and promises of God. Ministering the Word of God to one another is the primary activity of Christian assembly (Heb. 10:25; cf. Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16). ‘I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise’ (Heb. 2:12).

    God’s acts and promises may be made known, and a response evoked, both by the preached word and by the acted, visible word of the sacraments. Article 19 defines the visible church in terms of ministry of Word and sacraments and this is essentially one ministry, the sacraments being, as Augustine said, visible words: ‘The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same’.

    As to over how large an area the congregation forming the visible church (that is, the local church) may be scattered is not defined by the articles. Presumably this will differ from age to age according to means of transport. Article 19 refers to the churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Rome. These cities were compact areas of population, and differed widely from some modern dioceses where, because of distance, Christians find the greatest difficulty in assembling together to form a church or congregation in which the Word of God might be preached and the sacraments administered, in the way Article 19 declares the visible church to be constituted.

    The visible church is the congregation worshipping according to the Word of God, and there are as many visible churches as there are true congregations. The Articles do not speak specifically of the ‘invisible Church’ but have only passing references. It is a mistake to think that the Articles deny the concept of the invisible or mystical Church, or to misread Article 19 as though it began ‘The Church of Christ is a visible congregation’, as is frequently done.ii Nor is there any ground for the assertion of the Vicar of All Saints’, Margaret Street, London, that ‘The Church of Engand repudiates any notion of an invisible church.’iii The concept of the invisible Church was uniformly held by the Reformers and was affirmed as early as the Bishop’s Book of 1537 and the Thirteen Articles of 1538. It would be very unlikely, and in fact is not the case, that the Thirty-Nine Articles repudiated the concept of the invisible or mystical Church of Christ, or fell into the mistake of which Hooker castigated when he wrote: ‘For lack of diligent observing the difference between the church of God mystical and visible, the oversights are neither few nor light that have been committed’.iv

    Article 19 is concerned with the church in its visible aspect — the visible congregation. But the opening clause of Article 26 which also speaks of the ‘visible Church’ implies a contrast with the Church in its invisible aspect round the throne of God, where the evil is not mingled with the good. The word ‘Church’ appears to be used of the ‘invisible’ Church in Article 27, which states that ‘they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church’, the mystical body of Christ; for all without exception who outwardly receive baptism are admitted to the visible church. But right reception (Latin recte), that is with a believing heart, is the requisite for being engrafted into Christ and into the assembly gathered around Him in heaven.

    i Papal Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi (1943), paragraphs 17, 40. Cf. Pius X, Encyclical Vehementer Nos (1906): ‘As for the masses, they have no other right than that of letting themselves be led, and of following their pastors as a docile flock.’ And Leo XIII (1890) in Denzinger 1936C: ‘The duty of the laity is that of “echoing image like the voices of their masters”.’

    ii For example: ‘The article starts off with the assumption that the church of God is a visible society’, E. J. Bicknell, A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, 3rd edition, revised by H. J. Carpenter (London, 1955), p. 292.

    iii K. N. Ross: The Thirty-Nine Articles, p. 47.

    iv Ecclesiastical Polity, III (London, 1954), pp. 2, 9.

    http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2009/08/part-ix-thirty-nine-articles-historic.html

    Charlie


  223. Sean, just for clarification’s sake… The Anglican Communion is not a “church.” It is a secular organization. I hope this clarifies the doctrine for you. The Sydney Anglicans do not believe that a “denomination” or a “province” is a “church.” The “church” is defined only as local gathering of Christians to worship God, fellowship, and break bread.

    And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47 ESV)

    The difference between the Council at Jerusalem and modern councils is obvious. The Council at Jerusalem was presided over and decided by apostolic authority. That authority does not exist today:

    Article XX
    Of the Authority of the Church
    The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies and authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God’s word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ: yet, as it ought not to decree anything against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce anything to be believed for necessity of salvation.

    The “church” in Article 20 is defined in Article 19 as a congregation, not a worldwide communion or a denomination.

    Also, a congregation or church cannot ordain anything that contradicts Scripture.

    And finally, councils can and do err:

    Article XXI
    Of the authority of General Councils
    General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes. And when they be gathered together, forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and word of God, they may err and sometime have erred, even in things pertaining to God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.

    The difference between the Acts 15 council and presbyterian councils is modern councils err and Acts 15 did not because it was done by apostolic authority. Unless you’re going to resort to papist arguments?

    Maybe we Evangelical Anglicans are more reformed than the presbyterians after all?

    Besides, the “episcopal” polity has never been justified on the basis of Scripture but rather on tradition. It can be thrown out if need be. Can you say the same of presbyterian polity?

    If not, then I would suggest that you’re elevating presbyterian “tradition” to the level of apostolic authority and therefore you have more in common with the papists than with sola scriptura.

    Charlie


  224. Should have been: “A church is an ‘assembly’ and as David Broughton Knox points out, it is impossible for there to be worship, word, and sacrament in a business setting for what is essentially a ‘secular’ organization.”


  225. By the way, the last time I checked the Presbyterians and the Lutherans are ordaining homosexuals, too. The liberal mainline ones anyway. It’s only a matter of time before we see the OPC and PCA doing the same thing. The first thing to go will be male only ordination. Next you’ll see women ordained and finally homosexuals.

    Your mistake is a categorical one. The true Anglican “church” is a congregation where the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments are duly administered. It is not a denomination, a province or a worldwide communion.

    Of course, sometimes it is necessary for congregations to separate from corrupt secular organizations. But this is precisely why secular organizations are not to be trusted. When authority is given over from the congregation to secular organization then the organization presides over the congregation which is trying to be faithful to Christ and to the Scriptures.

    Seems to me that when the Federal Visionists win then presbyterians congregations will be subject to an evil secular organization as well.

    Charlie


  226. Lauren, Adrian Rogers is hardly the theologian to look to for guidance in leaving the PCA. Rogers is an Arminian!

    Charlie

  227. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, technically there are only 2 offices. bishop/elder/presbyter and deacon. Satisfied?

    Sure. You said 3, I didn’t, which I presumed meant you differentiate been the office of bishop and elder. Do they have different roles? I thought bishop had a broader overseeing role. I would think elder and deacon would have different roles in the church and different areas of authority. They do biblically.

    However, both the presbyterian and the episcopal forms of government are developed out of tradition, not Scripture.

    I would beg to differ as the form of church govt is very much implied and even exemplified in Scripture. But, I suppose that’s the difference between Reformed and Anglican believers.

    There is no mention of either form of government in Scripture and your assumption that the Council at Jerusalem somehow proves all the additions that presbyterians have added are “biblical” is nonsense and simply eisogesis.

    You might think it nonsense, but this is where historic Reformed folks part ways with Anglicans. I think the JC provides an example of how leaders or shepherds in the church are to deal with important issues facing the whole church and not just isolated congregations, and we see a Paul initiating a system of representative govt. in the churches he established. Therefore, it would seem to me that we very much have a preferred system of govt. taught in Scripture.

    By the way, the last time I checked the Presbyterians and the Lutherans are ordaining homosexuals, too. The liberal mainline ones anyway.

    Right, which is only one reason why I would consider the PCUSA and the mainline Lutherans apostate and which is why men like Machen started new and distinct Presbyterian denoms separated from the mainline. If it were up to you should Machen have remained in the PCUSA as long as their local congregation remains biblical sound?

    I guess my question is, why call yourself Anglican? Why not just Ray’s Church? Why not just be completely independent?


  228. The Sydney Anglicans are moving for lay administration of the sacraments. I don’t see the presbyterians doing that. I don’t like episcopal polity anymore than you do.

    But the ruling elder thing is no more biblical than bishops are. A ruling elder is nothing more than a bishop in essence.

    The center of authority is not bishops, ruling elders, or denominations but Scripture and congregations. Any attempt to amalgamate local congregations runs into the problems you’re seeing in the OPC and PCA. The only way to guarantee orthodoxy is for local congregations to adhere to a reformed confession and call their own ministers.

    Even that can deteriorate but from my observation apostasy is only one generation away whether it is a denomination or a local congregation or a Christian college or seminary.

    Charlie


  229. Sean,

    Joining a local church is not necessary for salvation. But is a command of the Lord to assemble together for worship.

    I am here because the people in this congregation need to hear the Gospel. They have been led astray by the Anglo-Catholics for many years. I fail to see why I should abandon a few sheep to the wolves? I have an opportunity to reform this congregation and to preach and teach here. I suppose you prefer I should go get lost in some big church somewhere and not use my ministry gifts at all?

    God is God and I intend to do what He leads me to do. This congregation has called me as “lay” minister. Fact is, I can do more as lay minister than I could do if were ordained by the apostate denomination of The Episcopal Church. At this point the denomination controls the property so they cannot do anything about it.

    In three years the pastor might be fired because he’s too Evangelical. Your solution is that he should sacrifice the sheep?

    I belong to Christ, not to any denomination.

    Charlie

  230. Sean Gerety Says:

    I belong to Christ, not to any denomination.

    Then why are you here defending Anglicanism?

    Oh, who cares. I give up.


  231. Sean, I’m not defending “Anglicanism.” I’m defending the 39 Articles and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as part of the Reformed Standards or “formularies” of the Reformed Church of England. The 39 Articles may not be as fully developed as the other confessions but it is listed by most church historians and Reformed theologians as a “Reformed” confession of faith.

    Denominations are man-made. The local congregation is the center of authority, not church councils.

    Charlie


  232. Churches in Association

    Perhaps the most serious danger which the denominational groupings of Christian congregations presents is that such groupings provide a focal point for loyalty. For many members, the denomination replaces the true centre of loyalty which a Christian assembly should have, namely Christ who gathers His assembly together, through His Word, which is the instrument of His lordship.

    Nowadays denominationalism is greatly strengthened and perpetuated by the centralized structure that has been built up to serve denominationally linked churches. Organization increases the influence of the denomination in the community. Some denominations, especially those who give high-sounding titles to their office bearers, are more effective than others in securing this influence. But it remains true that influence secured by denominational organization is worldly influence rather than the influence which arises from the power of the Gospel, and so it will fail to advance God’s glory. It falls under the ban, ‘But it shall not be so among you’ (cf. Luke 22:24-27). God’s purposes are not advanced by pressure groups but by prayer, preaching, and Christian living and suffering. From: http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2009/08/part-x-thirty-nine-articles-historic.html

    Anglicanism really should be congregational, not “episcopal.”

    Charlie

  233. Bob Suden Says:

    Oh, who cares. I give up.
    Man, I can hear that.

    Yo Charlie, I think I’ve asked you at least 3 times to read the posts before responding and twice I’ve mentioned that presbyterianism/DPW is in favor of premeditated prayers, as opposed to robot/autopilot eloquent protestant versions of a tibetan prayer wheel on the one hand or spontaneous evangelical mush and gush on the other.

    As re. progress/semper reform.eccl., again that is why the anglican Westminster divines called for a revision of the BoCP and wrote the Dir.Pub.Worship. The Reformation had progressed and they felt the first generation Reformers would agree with them, that the liturgy and prayerbook had served its purpose.

    As far as the head/heart dichotomy, I didn’t bring it up. You did. What is at issue with read prayers is the divide between the head/heart and the mouth.

    As far as Act15, the P&R view generally is that both apostles and elders are represented vs.6,22 and there was a general discussion and then a decision signed by the same to all the churches. Hence the view that Act 15 was the first general assembly. (I know, you disagree. But can you support it exegetically?)

    As far as the larger church vs. the local church/congregationalism Acts 16:4  speaks of “the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem”. The officers of the local churches came together and reached a binding decision – not mere advice – to the local churches represented at the council.

    Anglicanism really should be congregational, not “episcopal.”

    Wow. I’ve thought this discussion has been confused, but if that don’t beat all/explain a lot.
    Whatever.

    As far as the P&R position/principle on worship and govt. some may be interested in the section on the RPW from W. Cunningham’s “Leaders of the Reformation” essay in his The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, 1862,rpt. BoT 1967. People can read it for themselves if they are interested. (No, I am not going to copy the whole thing and spam the combox.) IMO he’s quite a stylist and TR&ToR is my favorite WC volume.

    Thank you.

  234. Bob Suden Says:

    The 39 Articles may not be as fully developed as the other confessions but it is listed by most church historians and Reformed theologians as a “Reformed” confession of faith.

    Sorry, missed this. (Not to beat a dead horse, but if repetition is the mother of learning. . . ) The salient point is again: “may not be as fully developed as the other confessions”

    Exactly. The 39 Articles are reformed in doctrine, but they are not reformed when it comes to . . . worship and church govt. IOW the difference between the P&R and the L&A churches is not just nominal.

    That is also why, after the imposition of a revision of the anglican BoCP, known as of “Laud’s Liturgy” (after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Wm. Laud) was imposed on Scotland in 1637, Geo. Gillespie wrote his bombshell, if not bestseller, Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies Obtruded On the Church of Scotland (rpt. Naptali 1993).

    Those same anglican (eng.popish) ceremonies included the sign of the cross, vestments, feastdays, kneeling at communion, episcopal confirmation, private baptism and communion, etc.!


  235. Bob, the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, the direct predecessor off the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, rejects all the departures you mention–and so does the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The rubrics forbid high church vestments imposed during the reign of Edward VI.

    Also, there is nothing wrong with “kneeling.” This does not imply anything other than humility before God. Lots of folks pray while kneeling even in private prayer.

    Again, you’re making a categorical error. Simply because the Laudians, Carolingians, and Anglo-Catholics have corrupted the English confession of faith and the reformed formularies does not entail that “all” Anglicans are corrupt.

    The fact is the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is perfectly reformed. Although the English formularies are not Puritan, they are certainly not anything other than Reformed. In other words, the Articles and the Prayer Book uphold a Reformed view of the sacraments, the church, and the Scriptures. There is nothing in the formularies which would contradict the Five Solas of the Reformation.

    But my point, Bob, is that congregations must be judged individually. Denominations mean absolutely NOTHING. I have seen “puritan” churches that were as Laudian in practice as any Arminian church. Also, their liturgy was more broad church than anything else. That is particularly true of PCA churches where there is no teaching of the Larger and Shorter Catechisms whatsoever.

    And you neglect that the 39 Articles are the basis for the Westminster Confession. The Lambeth Articles and the Irish Articles are directly formulated from the 39 Articles (Cranmer’s 42 Articles). The Westminster divines based their work on the Irish Articles.

    Cranmer was as Reformed as he could be in the circumstances within which he found himself. I find it amusing that you think you’re more theologically correct, etc. when your liturgy is as empty as any Baptist or broad evangelical liturgy.

    I’m fighting an uphill battle. I know that. I’m fighting the same battle with my own pastor who comes from the broad evangelicalism of Sydney. They have thrown out the prayer book, too. Semi-pelagianism lurks everywhere. Amyralidianism is as pernicious as Arminianism.

    For the record, if I ever plant a church it will be independent, use the 1662 BCP and adhere to the 39 Articles as well as the Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity for a doctrinal “confession.”
    Unlike other Anglicans, I utilize all three confessions.

    Charlie


  236. Bob, you had better go back and read your posts. You’re the one who made a distinction between “head” and “heart.” I answered your false dichotomy by pointing to Clark’s work on that issue.

    Really, Bob, I could care less what your prejudices are. I follow Scripture as the final authority, not you, denominations, or “communions.”

    Although I am also a confessional Reformed believer, that does not necessitate that I accept presbyterian polity OR episcopal polity. I reject both. Although denominational organizations can be helpful, they are mostly unhelpful because historically they turn into tyrannical organizations which go apostate and then oppress the truly orthodox and reformed remnant. The Anglican provinces around the world and the state of presbyterianism here in the US are proof enough of that.

    I really enjoyed all your rabbit trails, Bob. But you haven’t shown me anything in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer to which you can offer any legitimate critique as being not reformed.

    I guess your holiness and theology is right up there with Jesus himself. Maybe you’re papist pretending to be a Puritan?

    Charlie


  237. The laws under Edward VI rejected high church vestments. Sorry about the lack of clarity there. The things to which you refer, Bob, are the result of 19th century Anglo-Catholicism. So in essence your argument is an anachronism.

    Charlie


  238. Bob, unless ya’ll Puritans got apostles today, your appeal to the council at Jerusalem “don’t” count. Councils today err!

    Also, citing one council in Scripture does not mean that modern councils are equal to a “church”. Councils are councils. Churches are congregations of believers gathered or assembled for worship. Therefore, denominations are not “churches.” They are secular organizations prone to error, confusion, and heresy. The fact that the PCA and the OPC overlooks Federal Vision heresies is ample proof that presbyterianism is as miserable a failure as any denomination with an episcopal polity.

    As if Presbyerianism rises above the corruption of sinful men?

    PUH LEEZE!

  239. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m fighting an uphill battle. I know that. I’m fighting the same battle with my own pastor who comes from the broad evangelicalism of Sydney. They have thrown out the prayer book, too. Semi-pelagianism lurks everywhere. Amyralidianism is as pernicious as Arminianism.

    Now, come on Charlie, not having a prayer book doesn’t lead to semi-pelagian-amyraldian-arminianism. That’s just silly. We’re all fighting uphill battles. And, fwiw my old pastor on (rare)occasion would read from a book of old Puritan prayers and they were wonderful not only for their eloquence, but for the sheer depth of their theology. I can’t remember the title of the book, but some good stuff. 🙂

  240. Bob Suden Says:

    Hi Charlie,

    It’s Bob the reformed baptist, puritan quasi- papist fill in the blank bufoon once again.

    If ignorance talks loudest and longest, in all the abundance of your wisdom and knowledge, surely you can tell us:

    1. Why the Anglican divines at the Westminster Assembly in 1645 were still objecting to the Anglican liturgy and prayerbook if Edward the 6th abolished vestments, if not the english popish ceremonies Gillespie objected in 1637, when Edward died in 1553?

    2. Whether God approves of what one says with one’s mouth, regardless if one believes it in their heart/mind/soul? Or better yet, what is the definition of hypocrisy?

    3. Why Christ did not give us a prayerbook to be followed verbatim, if not command his church to write one or even imply that his church had power to bind consciences to such a prayerbook?

    4. Why in Act 7, it is the 12 alone who make the inspired apostolic decision to institute the deaconate, but in Acts 15 & 16, 3 times it is the “apostles and elders” who discuss and decide the question?

    Further one may continue to stuff the combox full of the alphabetic version of foam packing peanuts, but we still think that either somebody
    1. is incompetent to the question.
    2. much more wants to avoid the question (baffle ’em with baloney and lots of it)
    3. both 1.& 2.

    Our vote is for 4. all of the above, but what do bufoons know?

    Bye.


  241. Bob,

    Your accusations are not worthy of a response. I would suggest that you get a grip and read the materials for yourself.

    The most obvious evidence against your view is the picture of Archbishop Cranmer, who is wearing only a black cassock, white surplice, and a black scarf. Where are the “vestments” you seem to think the Reformation Anglicans wore???

    But thanks for confirming for me that your Anabaptist prejudices exclude you from even the Puritan view. The Puritans were sacramentalists, unlike Baptists who go beyond Zwingli to the Anabaptist side of things.

    Besides, I don’t recall referring to you as anything other than possibly a “papist.” In the end, Anabaptists wind up closer to Rome than they are willing to admit, which is why none of the Magisterial Reformers like Luther, Calvin, Bullinger, Zwingli, Cranmer, etc., were enormored with the “Radical Reformers,” i.e., the Anabaptists.

    Sincerely yours,

    Charlie


  242. If creeds and confessions–and by implication “reformed” prayer books are disallowed–why pray tell do “reformed” Baptists have the London Baptist Confession of Faith, which is modeled after the Westminster Confession of Faith?


  243. The fallacy of endless questions does not work with me, Bob. If you wish to substantiate something against my position you’re going to have to do the work. Give me specifics, not general accusations.

    Charlie


  244. Declaration of Principles
    of the Reformed Episcopal Church

    Adopted, December 2d, 1873

    i

    The Reformed Episcopal Church, holding “the faith once delivered unto the saints,” declares its belief in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God, and the sole Rule of Faith and Practice; in the Creed “commonly called the Apostles’ Creed;” in the Divine institution of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; and in the doctrines of grace substantially as they are set forth in the Thirty–nine Articles of Religion.

    ii

    This Church recognizes and adheres to Episcopacy, not as of Divine right, but as a very ancient and desirable form of Church polity.

    iii

    This Church, retaining a Liturgy which shall not be imperative or repressive of freedom in prayer, accepts The Book of Common Prayer, as it was revised, proposed, and recommended for use by the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, A. D. 1785, reserving full liberty to alter, abridge, enlarge, and amend the same, as may seem most conductive to the edification of the people, “provided that the substance of the faith be kept entire.”

    iv

    This Church condemns and rejects the following erroneous and strange doctrines as contrary to God’s Word;

    First, That the Church of Christ exists only in one order or form of ecclesiastical polity:

    Second, That Christian Ministers are “priests” in another sense than that in which all believers are “a royal priesthood:”

    Third, That the Lord’s Table is an altar on which the oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ is offered anew to the Father:

    Fourth, That the Presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper is a presence in the elements of the Bread and Wine:

    Fifth, That Regeneration is inseparably connected with Baptism.

    (Note: The Declaration of Principles stand alone as a witness to the faith of the Founders of the REC, without any need for commentary or explanation, especially any contrary to the plain language of the formulary, such as been said ” Particular terms such as priest, altar . . .are not actually forbidden” when the Declaration plainly says “This Church condemns and rejects” them as “erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word”! http://www.redemptiontrec.org/Pagea.html

  245. speigel Says:

    I would like to see some exegetical work arguing for a two-person theory against something like Reymond’s “Jesus Divine Messiah” where Reymond exegetically concludes that according to biblical evidence, Jesus is one person who was and is fully God and man. For example, in his book, Reymond looks as how the OT prophecies looked to a single person, Messiah, who was both God and man; and how the Jews and his disciples understood Jesus’ own claims.

    In the same vein as Reymond, Leon Morris is correct when he says,

    [A Christian] takes the evidence as it stands, and does not try to explain away that which does not please him. Thus he finds himself affirming that Jesus was both human and divine, both God and man. Nothing less will do justice to the Bible evidence.

    Understanding how the incarnation works is difficult, but that has no bearing as to its truthfulness. Clark wrote his book to explain how the incarnation worked. Clark couldn’t explain how it worked, so he denied the orthodox understanding of the incarnation.

    This is in my opinion backwards. Clark couldn’t completely explain other biblical doctrines, but kept them nonetheless. Why didn’t he do the same with the Incarnation? Was the Trinity that much easier for him to understand? No, for Clark admitted that the Trinity was difficult to understand and that his theory on the Trinity was incomplete.


  246. speigel,

    I doubt that Gordon H. Clark questioned the doctrine of the incarnation as it is upheld in the Westminster Standards and neither does Robert Reymond. Jesus is confessed to be both God and man in one person because Scripture teaches the doctrine. Moreover, all the reformed confessions uphold the same doctrine and so do the three universal creeds. We do not accept confessions and creeds based on their own inherent authority but because they are based on Scripture, the only infallible rule for faith and practice.

    I think that you are misunderstanding Clark on the trinity as well because Clark upheld propositional truth and that the trinity is a rationally comprehensible doctrine. It is Cornelius Van Til who thought that the trinity is irrational. Van Til said that God is both one person and three persons!

    The trinity is not difficult to understand at all once you realize the distinction between one divine nature which subsists in three distinct persons within that one nature.

    Charlie


  247. If Drake Shelton denies the one person doctrine of the incarnation of Christ, then he is an heretic–pure and simple. The position of the church is there is one person, Jesus Christ, who is both divine and human perfectly united. He has both a divine will and a human will, thus He could be tempted in His human nature and human will. The doctrine of one will or the monothelite heresy was condemned universally.

  248. Sean Gerety Says:

    Clarlie, FYI, Gordon Clark denied, or at the very least seriously questioned, the one person doctrine of the Incarnation.


  249. Sean, I was unaware of that. I would need to read his remarks for myself. If you could kindly point me to the appropriate place to read his position?

    I for one do not take the creeds and confessions lightly, though in principle the creeds and confessions may err. Church councils may and do err, according to the 39 Articles and the WCF.

    Charlie


  250. I’m aware that Robert Reymond questions the dual procession doctrine of the Nicene Creed but this questioning of the one person of Christ incarnate is a new one to me.

    Charlie

  251. Sean Gerety Says:

    Leon Morris is correct when he says,

    James Anderson argues that Morris’ two minds or “centers of consciousness” theory is heretical and necessarily implies a two person view of the Incarnation. I hope to review Anderson’s book someday soon when I can carve out some time God willing.

    If anything, and certainly unintentionally, Anderson makes a very strong case for both Clark’s theory of the Trinity and the Incarnation. He even at one point admits the that one implies the other. Of course, Anderson does give you a choice, assuming you buy his underlying premises concerning these two doctrines, and that Christians can continue to spout utter incoherent nonsense for another few thousand years. This is without question Anderson’s goal. He just wants to claim that he and other like him are “rational” for believing nonsense (which is his purpose for writing the book).

    Interesting, Anderson doesn’t deal with Clark at all in his book. However, in his rejoinder to Crampton he explains that his reason for ignoring Clark is because he considers Clark treatment of these central doctrines “unsophisticated” and not worthy of serious consideration. Spoken like a true Vantilian irrationalist.

    Also interesting, reading Anderson it appears that Clark, being a brilliant logician and philosopher head and shoulders above lilliputian Anderson, was evidently well ahead of the curve and could not only see but even overcome the logical difficulties that lesser minds, and not just Anderson’s, simply could not get past.

  252. Sean Gerety Says:

    If you could kindly point me to the appropriate place to read his position?

    I would recommend reading Clark’s monograph on the Trinity first. Here are the links:

    http://www.trinitylectures.org/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=78

    http://www.trinitylectures.org/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=92

  253. speigel Says:

    @Charlie:
    Reymond doesn’t deny the traditional understanding of the incarnation. He upholds it contra Clark.

    In addition, I never said the doctrine of the Trinity was irrational. I only said it was hard to understand and that Clark himself admitted that his theory couldn’t answer all the questions.

    I suggest you actually read Clark’s books before you comment on any of my questions on Clark.

    @Sean:
    Leon Morris is not Thomas Morris. But both deny the two-person theory. I would like to see Anderson’s arguments (or a summary of it) as Morris questions some presuppositions as to why some think his view leads to Nestorianism, or to two persons.

    In the end, I would like to see some exegetical work for the two-person theory, or at least pointed to a book or an article that does so.

  254. Sean Gerety Says:

    Leon Morris is not Thomas Morris. But both deny the two-person theory.

    Sorry, got my Morrises mixed up. 😎 Also, I never said they didn’t deny the “two-person” theory.

    I would like to see Anderson’s arguments (or a summary of it) as Morris questions some presuppositions as to why some think his view leads to Nestorianism, or to two persons.

    Anderson’s book is available on line. Also, a two-person theory is not necessarily Nestorianism. Beyond that, and as we already discussed, the argument is essentially the same one I’ve made and that if you have two centers of consciousness then it would seem to follow you have two persons. Not very complicated. Anderson goes into some of Morris’ AI analogies, but that’s it in a nutshell.

    In the end, I would like to see some exegetical work for the two-person theory, or at least pointed to a book or an article that does so.

    I’ve already provided links above. Buy Clark’s two monographs and you’ll have more than you need. But, I recommend you read The Trinity first because I think that provides the necessary and logical foundation for Clark’s discussion on the Incarnation.


  255. Speigal, I never said anything about Reymond’s position on the incarnation. Reymond’s Systematic Theology is what I’m talking about. Reymond says in that work that there is no dual procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son. He goes with the Eastern view that the Spirit proceeds only from the Father.

    I’m withholding judgment on Clark’s view of the incarnation until I can read the book. However, unless and until there is overwhelming evidence against the WCF, I’m sticking with that.

    I disagree with Reymond on the dual procession, btw. Other than that Reymond’s work is very good. I’m leaning toward the supralapsarian view, too.

    Charlie

  256. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, let me just add, I really think Anderson has done an unwitting service to the cause of Christ, not if we follow Anderson, but that he helps point to a way out. Basically, if his view of the Trinity is sound (and I’m not convinced it is) and that the only way to understand the Trinity and remain orthodox is on the basis of numerical identity between the oneness and threeness of the Godhead, then the doctrine is hopelessly contradictory (no paradox here) and Van Til’s one person/three persons declaration is the height of orthodoxy.

    Interestingly, Anderson doesn’t even mention Van Til on this score, probably because that would have tipped his hand. However, Van Til’s doctrine is front and center in Anderson’s mind and he virtually says as much, even if Van Til is never explicitly mentioned. Fortunately, I think most would agree Van Til was completely heterodox on this point which, in turn, points to Clark’s contention that more work needs to be done even if one rejects Clark’s logical and biblical solutions.

    Anderson’s survey of numerous twentieth century attempts to address these problems is more than enough evidence that the historic creedal formulations are not infallible (although at one point Anderson says for Protestants they are) and should be revisited. For example, he admits that social trinitarians like Swinburne completely avoid any charge of “paradox.” The same is true for Morris when we move over to the Incarnation. His point is that both men are heterodox, Swinburne for advancing a generic as opposed to a numeric identity of the Godhead and Morris for separating the spheres of consciousness in Jesus Christ, one distinctly human (is ignorant of some things, thirsts, dies, etc.) and the other divine (immutable, impassive, omniscient, etc.) and thereby implying a two-person view of Christ.

  257. Cliffton Says:

    I am reading through Cheung’s Systematic Theology (which by the way is excellent) and he made a couple of interesting statements regarding the definition of God. He said…”the very definition of deity involves each member of the Trinity, so that each member is not an independent deity.” He also stated later, “the very definition of deity includes the ontological attribute of the Trinity.” This got me to thinking once again about the incarnation.

    Could we legitimately claim that whereas the definition of God necessitates the truth of three persons, the definition of Man does not necessitate the idea of person(s). I remeber Clark had stated that there is no individual Man. But rather, there are individuals that participate in the definition of Man. And while it is true that there is no individual man that is not a person, this would not neccesarily imply that a man is by definition a person. The fallacy of the argument would be similar to those that claim that because man is composed of both a mind and a body, that the definition of man includes the idea of a body. Of course, this could not be the case for the man Christ Jesus told the thief that today he would be with Him in paradise, while it is also true that Christ was without His body for three days. And certainly that One who was in paradise was not less than a man.

    So that, while the person of the Son took to himself man, it would not necessitate taking to himself a person. Cheung says it this way:

    “In the incarnation, God the Son took upon himself the nature of man; that is, he added to
    his person the set of attributes that define man”

    It is the Logos, the second person of the Trinity that took to himself man. And while it is true that the definition of God comprehends the “ontological attribute of the Trinity”, it is not true that the definition of the second person, comprehends the “ontological attribute of the Trinity.” Likewise, the definition of the incarnation comprehends the Son taking to himself man, the definition of man does not necessarily comprehend the ontological attribute of person.

    No? Yes??

  258. Sean Gerety Says:

    Cliffton, it would be helpful if you provided citations or quotes from Clark so at least we’re all on the same page. Also, per Cheung:

    “In the incarnation, God the Son took upon himself the nature of man; that is, he added to his person the set of attributes that define man”

    Not exactly how this solves the problem of Jesus’ growing in wisdom, ignorance of the day of his return, dying, etc.? Were attributes ignorant or was a person ignorant? Did attributes die, or did a person die?

  259. speigel Says:

    @Charlie:
    You wrote: “I doubt that Gordon H. Clark questioned the doctrine of the incarnation as it is upheld in the Westminster Standards and neither does Robert Reymond.” You put Reymond in a statement about the incarnation. You didn’t read what you wrote carefully.

    @Gerety:
    I’ve read and reread Clark’s “Trinity” and “Incarnation” many times. He doesn’t deal with the topics exegetically in any substantive manner. He does so more philosophically. It’s nowhere close to something like Reymond’s “Jesus Divine Messiah.” But I would say that his “Trinity” was far better than his “Incarnation.”

    There are two separable issues here that should be discussed in a logical order. First is, does the Bible evidence that Jesus is both God and man in one person. Second, if so, how does it “work.” From what I can tell, the two-person theorist primarily deal with the second issue without dealing with the first. This is backwards. As I stated before, Clark dealt with the second issue first. Since he couldn’t figure out how it worked, he answered the first issue in the negative without going into any exegetical work.

    Another question I have is, why is there no major Clarkian theologian, philosopher, or student that agree with Clark on this issue. Robbins is an exception. But who else? Neither Reymond, Crampton (per Gerety), Talbot, Henry, or Cheung accept Clark’s view. Even the Trinity Foundation’s and Robbins’ church’s official position is as stated in the Westminster Confession of faith with no express disagreement. Perhaps no one talks about Clark’s view because his major students don’t either.

  260. Sean Gerety Says:

    First, I think the easiest answer is that of all of Clark’s books IMO that his volumes on theology proper are the least read. I think most people who read Clark are more interested in his more philosophic and apologetic works.

    Second, I think while most would have little problem with Clark’s take on the the Trinity, his view of the Incarnation is more controversial. The other thing is I just don’t think most people are all that interested.

  261. Jim Butler Says:

    Dr. Crampton does agree with Dr. Clark’s view of the Incarnation. See his review of Robert L. Reymond’s NST, http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=140

    jim

  262. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Jim, where exactly? Could you cut and paste the relevant portion. I’m happy to be wrong on this account, but I do recall reading where Crampton wrote that if Clark held to a two person view of the Trinity he was lost, a heretic, or probably both.

  263. Jim Butler Says:

    “As mentioned above, prior to studying the doctrine of Christ, the author examines “The Unity of the Covenant of Grace” (503-541). He then goes on to explore Christology, including “The Supernatural Christ of History” (545-581) and “The Christ of the Early Councils” (583-622). The historical theology discussed in this latter section is superb. It is here, however, that we encounter another problem. Reymond affirms the traditional view of the incarnation and the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures in Christ, as stated in the Chalcedonian Creed. That is, that “the eternal Son of God took into union with himself in the one divine Person that which he had not possessed before–even a full complex of human attributes–and became fully and truly man for us men and for our salvation” (546). But if Christ is now one divine Person, with two natures (one divine and one human), as clearly averred by Chalcedon, how can it be said that he “became fully and truly man?” In other words, if he is not a human person, is he fully man? How does this teaching square with Hebrews 2 which asserts that Christ, having “partaken of flesh and blood” (verse 14) has now “in all things” been “made like his brethren” (verse 17)? This problem has plagued the traditional view for centuries. For rational solutions to these problems, the reader should study the last book Gordon Clark ever wrote: The Incarnation.8”

  264. speigel Says:

    @Butler:
    Based on my readings from Crampton, I had always thought that Crampton agreed with Clark’s view of the incarnation. Sean, however, stated that Crampton didn’t agree with Clark’s view based on some email from Crampton. So I took Sean’s word for it. Sean did note that I should take his word with a grain of salt since he couldn’t find the email. Crampton’s review of Reymond’s Systematic was in 1999. Can anyone verify if Crampton has kept the same stance?

    //

    I found this quote by GH Clark interesting:

    The Christology of the New Testament is admirably summed up in the Creed of Chalcedon; and those who repudiate this creed, and all creeds in principle, are simply not Christians. There may indeed be any number of people in the churches who have never heard of Chalcedon. There are undoubtedly some who have never heard of one person and two natures – a disgrace to the church they attend – but there is a great difference between being an ignorant Christian and being a witting repudiator of the doctrine.

  265. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Jim. I stand corrected.

  266. Jim Butler Says:

    @speigel Yeah, that’s interesting. I read that (or something similar) not long ago and thought it was interesting that he went on to state matters as he did in The Incarnation.

    jim

  267. speigel Says:

    @Butler:
    It’s from his commentary on Colossians. I wonder if GH Clark knew that he would be referring to his future self as a witting repudiator. Of course, with hindsight, everything is 20/20.

  268. Jim Butler Says:

    @speigel

    You’re right — I just finished going through Colossians and read it in there.

    @Sean

    Perhaps you were thinking of Professor Engelsma’s review of The Incarnation? I seem to remember he was not too fond of Dr. Clark’s position.

    jim

  269. Sean Gerety Says:

    Well, I decided to ask Dr. Crampton directly. Evidently my recollection was correct after all. He said he not only does not hold to a two-person theory of the incarnation, he doesn’t believe that Clark did either. He thinks the reason Clark is believed to hold a two-person view has to do with JR’s final paragraph which “took the Nestorian view of the “Person(s)” of Christ.”

    He also added: “If I am wrong about GHC (and JWR is correct), then he is unorthodox at this point (“heretic” is a word I am very careful to avoid because of the negative connotations). I would not say that JWR is a heretic for holding the Nestorian view, but I would say that he is in error.”

    Admittedly, it’s hard to reconcile Dr. Crampton’s position with what he wrote above per the Reymond review, but maybe he hasn’t thought it all the way through or misunderstood Clark. OTOH perhaps everyone else has misunderstood Clark, but I honestly can’t see how anyone can avoid coming away with a two-person view of the Incarnation after reading Clark’s book.

  270. Jim Butler Says:

    @Sean

    Thank you for the information concerning Dr. Crampton. I agree with your last line. I have been a long time reader of Dr. Clark’s works but only just read The Incarnation in 2009, shortly before it became a topic of discussion on your blog. I was surprise at his conclusions and in my mind, I thought Dr. Robbins summation at the end was consistent with all that preceded.

    BTW, I just re-read “Not Reformed At All” and appreciated it all over again. I find it amazing that these FV men have made such controversial statements and now appear all over the internet sounding so innocent and so orthodox.

    jim


  271. It seems to me that maybe folks are misreading Clark on the two persons thing. I don’t know because I haven’t read his book on the incarnation or the one on the trinity.

    Although it is difficult to understand the incarnation and the trinity, these are absolutely esential doctrines. I have gotten into several debates with my rector over these issues. He believes Jesus was peccable and could sin. I do not hold that view. God cannot sin. Jesus is God. Period. He’s also human so that means He felt the pressure of temptation and everything we experience. But to say that God can sin or that Jesus’ mission could have failed undermines God’s decrees. There was never a possibility that Jesus would fail to do even one thing that the Father decreed should happen.

    … this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (Acts 2:23 ESV)

    My rector also has the idea that Jesus emptied himself of deity in the incarnation. The kenosis theory makes Jesus less than fully God. I cannot accept that view either.

    Theology and dogmatic theology are absolutely essential to a healthy reformed congregation. If Clark is off on this–and I’m not sure he was–then that has serious implications.

    In Christ,

    Charlie

  272. speigel Says:

    @Gerety:
    Thanks for the information about Crampton. I find it an aberration on Crampton’s part to read Clark without coming to a conclusion that Clark held to a two-person theory. Even Carl Henry recognizes that Clark held to a two-person theory.

    Would Crampton then say that he holds to a one-person theory? I can’t see how as he argues that the traditional one-person is somehow wrong.

  273. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: Cliffton, it would be helpful if you provided citations or quotes from Clark so at least we’re all on the same page.

    Cliffton: Fair enough-

    “But it is hard to imagine any Realist identifying the perfect eternal idea with a temporal and imperfect individual. The relationship of Adam to the Idea is precisely the same as the relationship of any other individual man to the Idea. The individuals participate in, or are all patterned after the Idea” (Clark, The Biblical Doctrine of Man, p.49).

    “So we say, God knows, has the idea of, defines man, Adam, and Peter. God’s knowledge is clear and distinct. He does not confuse one definition with another; he does not confuse Adam with Peter, or either one with the definition of man” (Clark, The Biblical Doctrine of Man, pg.70-71).

    “Realistic…, becaue realistic, holds that the Platonic Idea of Man, or on our view the several propositions describing “generic humanity” were never created at all, but are eternal, uncreated thoughts in the mind of God” (Clark, The Trinity, p.129).

    There are many other statements similar to these that can be found throughout many of Clark’s works, particularly Clark Speaks from the Grave (where he includes a chapter on the problem of individuation), and Thales to Dewey. But let me quote just one more that is quite explicit. And it can be found in his book on The Incarnation no less:

    “The Idea Man never becomes a man or several men” (Clark, The Incarnation, p.48).

    Sean: Also, per Cheung:

    “In the incarnation, God the Son took upon himself the nature of man; that is, he added to his person the set of attributes that define man”

    Not exactly how this solves the problem of Jesus’ growing in wisdom, ignorance of the day of his return, dying, etc.? Were attributes ignorant or was a person ignorant? Did attributes die, or did a person die?

    Cliffton: When I referred to the “attributes that define man” I was using “attributes” as another word for definition. I was hoping that this would be understood by my use of this term when speaking about the definition of God. That is, to articulate all the attributes of God would be to define God. So to answer your question, the man Christ Jesus died. Regarding your other question, “Were attributes ignorant or was a person ignorant?”, I would say that the person was ignorant according to his humanity. I do not see these two concepts, personhood (as it pertains to idividuals) and the definition of man, as in a relationship of disjunction. We must not however confuse one definition with the other.

    To clarify my answer, when speaking of the second person of the Trinity as He stands in relation to the other two persons, that is, in terms of what He shares in common with the others- the definition of deity- he is God. However, when we speak of the Son as He stands in distinction from the Father and the Spirit, that is as He stands as an individual, we do not speak of what He shares in common with the others. This implies that when we speak of the Son as an individual, we would not speak of His deity. Although His deity would comprehend the truth of His person, according to the principle of individuation the Son as an individual does not comprehend the definition of deity. For, it would not comprehend what He shares in common with the other two.

    When we speak of the Son taking to himself humanity, we are not saying the Trinity took to himself humanity. Rather, we are saying in so far as the Son stands in distinction from the Father and the Spirit (according to the principle of individuation), the Word became flesh; not the Father or the Spirit. And yet, becuase He is God the Son, that is, in so far as He is reckoned according to what He shares in common with the Father and the Spirit, He is Immanuel.

    In conclusion, the Son according to His deity cannot change, yet the Son as an individual did add to Himself the definition of man. That is, on account of the incarnation, Mary gave birth to One who pariticipated in the definition of Man. Again, this does not contradict the omniscience of God because we are not speaking of the Son here in terms of what He shares in common with the other members of the Trinity. A realistic epistemology, Scripturalism, along with a correct principle of individuation, infima species, makes the incarnation of the Son coherent.

  274. speigel Says:

    @Cliffton:
    Is everything from “When I referred to the attributes that define man” to the last sentence, “…Scripturalism, along with a correct principle of individuation, infima species…” written from Cheung?

  275. Cliffton Says:

    Speigel: Is everything from “When I referred to the attributes that define man” to the last sentence, “…Scripturalism, along with a correct principle of individuation, infima species…” written from Cheung?

    Cliffton: No. In my last post the quotation from Cheung begins and ends here-

    “In the incarnation, God the Son took upon himself the nature of man; that is, he added to his person the set of attributes that define man”- (Cheung, Systematic Theology)

  276. Cliffton Says:

    Speigel, at first I didn’t understand why you asked me this question, but now I think I see what you were getting at. Instead of saying this:

    “When I referred to the ‘attributes that define man’…”

    I should have said this:

    “When I incorporated Cheung’s statement, ‘attributes that define man’…” (or something like that)

    Sorry for the confusion.

  277. speigel Says:

    @Cliffton:
    I asked because your wording seemed to suggest that the words were Cheung’s. Also, the explanation sounded like something Cheung would write as Cheung has stated before that Clark was sometimes inconsistent with his own methodology of Scripturalism.

    @Butler:
    It seems that I was correct when I said that Crampton disagreed with Clark’s two-person view, in that Crampton believes in a one-person view (as he also believes that Clark believed in a one-preson view). So in the end, no major Clarkian theologian, philosopher, or student agreed with Clark’s view. Robbins excepted.

    //

    During the weekend I tried an interesting exercise of reading a NT book under a two-person premise. I read the book of Hebrews. The book made little sense under such a premise. I ask that some of you here try the exercise. I’ll be doing it again with an OT book. A Drake Shelton expressly said that a one-person theorist has more problems when reading the Bible than a two-person theorist would. I suggest otherwise and think that the exercise will show the same.

  278. Jim Butler Says:

    @ speigel

    Thank you for following up. I should make it clear: I do not accept a two person view and am content with the statement on Christology in the WCF.

    It sure seemed to me that Dr. Clark advocated a two person view in his The Incarnation.

    jim

  279. speigel Says:

    @Butler:
    The way I read Crampton is that the traditional formula is incomplete in that it doesn’t affirm that Jesus was also human person. So I understand Crampton to affirm that Jesus was both a divine person and a human person. And therefore Crampton may have read Clark as also affirming that Jesus was both a divine person and a human person.

    However, Clark affirmatively states that the human person, the man Jesus Christ, and the Second Person of the Trinity are not the same person. They are two different persons. This, I believe Crampton would disagree with. Crampton would say that the Second Person of the Trinity is the same person as the human person Jesus Christ. The divine person took on human attributes and is therefore also a human person (while remaining a divine person). I am assuming that the simple definition of a divine person as a person with divine attributes and the definition of a human person as a person with human attributes. Therefore since the divine person took on human attributes, the person is also a human person. Jesus was necessarily a divine person and contingently a human person. This is why we can say that Jesus is a divine-human person, the theanthropic person, the God-man.

    This is not the same as saying that the divine person assumed or took over another pre-existing human person. This is where enhypostasia and anhypostasia comes in. But I’ve found not too many Clarkians to be familiar with the doctrine or issue.

    //

    Though I disagree with Drake Shelton (and anyone else affirming the two-person theory) I think that Shelton is at least consistent in that he is willing to apply the two-person theory to other Christian doctrines. I find that Shelton must jump leaps and bounds to retain traditional reformed understanding of certain doctrines or otherwise redefine them. But no one else adopting Clark’s incarnational view has done any work in applying this new incarnational view to other doctrines.

  280. Jim Butler Says:

    @speigel

    Thank you for the breakdown. I received Drake Shelton’s link from him but have not read it based on a review I read here (it might have been your review actually).

    Anyway, thank you again.

    jim

  281. speigel Says:

    @Butler:
    I did write a review of Shelton’s review on Thomas Morris’ book. Shelton said he couldn’t completely follow the book since it was difficult for him to understand. It’s irresponsible for him to write a review critiquing a position he hardly understands. It’s even more irresponsible for anyone to use Shelton’s review as a critique against Morris.

    I suggest you read Morris yourself. It’s well written and deals with several possible attacks against his position.

    //

    This will probably be the last comment on Clark’s view of the incarnation unless someone else has anything else to say or if someone decides to write an exegetical work defending Clark’s view.

    But I have one last point to make. If Clark’s view is right, his previous books are wrong. His book on the atonement is wrong where the traditional view of the incarnation is presupposed. The same with some parts of his commentary on the WCF and with several of his commentaries where he discusses Christ. It’s probably time to get an editor to edit his books.

  282. Roger Mann Says:

    Sean wrote,

    OTOH perhaps everyone else has misunderstood Clark, but I honestly can’t see how anyone can avoid coming away with a two-person view of the Incarnation after reading Clark’s book.

    I agree. After reading Clark’s book, I thought it was beyond question that he was espousing a two-person view of the Incarnation. And, while I may not be the sharpest tool in the box, I’ve always had pretty good reading comprehension skills.

  283. Roger Mann Says:

    Speigel wrote,

    I am assuming that the simple definition of a divine person as a person with divine attributes and the definition of a human person as a person with human attributes. Therefore since the divine person took on human attributes, the person is also a human person. Jesus was necessarily a divine person and contingently a human person. This is why we can say that Jesus is a divine-human person, the theanthropic person, the God-man.

    Very well put. That has been the way I’ve always understood the hypostatic union. It doesn’t seem that difficult to comprehend to me. If all three Persons of the Trinity are divine Persons because they possess the divine attributes/nature, then the second Person of the Trinity is also a human person since He assumed human attributes/nature in the Incarnation. The distinction is solely between Christ’s divine attributes/nature and human attributes/nature, not His unique Personhood that is common to both. Cheung is definitely better than Clark here.

  284. qeqesha Says:

    Spiegel & Mann,
    Boys, boys, boys, calm down!!! Clark asked what a “human nature” is, and what a “divine nature” is, without at the same time being a “human person” and a “divine person” respectively? What are “divine attributes” and “human attributes” without each being corresponding persons? In other words, it is not clear how one cannot end up with two persons. Read Clark again or think about it again. You are just regurgitating Chalcedon unintelligibility, the very thing Clark was trying to address!

    Denson


  285. I have been thus far holding my peace since I have not read Clark’s book on the incarnation. That being said, however, I fully agree with Chalcedon because it is Scriptural. To divide the human nature from the divine nature by saying there are two persons instead of on means essentially that you have only a human dying for the sins of the elect through out the ages and throughout the world.

    Clearly the Heidelberg Catechism says that only a divine man could possibly bear full force of God’s wrath against the sins of the whole world. If Clark says there are two persons rather than one–and I’m not sure at all that this is what Clark said–then Clark’s position undermines the entire dogmatic position of the Reformed reading of Scripture.

    Yes, I have an a priori position. But who does not? It seems to me that over-reacting to any hint of paradox in any theological formation we do can lead to the precise heresy we’re discussing here, namely Nestorianism.

    I ran into a similar error on the part of my rector in discussing the issue of Christ’s peccability or impeccability in Sunday school class. The rector said that “Christ laid aside His deity” when he came to earth. I politely said that this is no less than the liberal heresy of “kenosis” or the idea that Christ emptied Himself of His deity. But if Christ emptied Himself of deity then He is not God!

    The same can be said of Nestorianism. If Christ is not one Person, then it is not God who paid the full penalty for our sins but merely a man. This is really no different than the Oneness Pentecostals who said that Jesus was merely the son of God: i.e. a mortal man who is the son of the Father. Since in their view there is only the Father or one Person in the godhead then Jesus is the “manifestation” of the Father in human form. In other words, the Oneness Pentecostals do not really believe in the deity of Jesus Christ despite all their protests that they do.

    As for the appeal to Scripture alone, denigrating the creeds and confessions is not the point of the magisterial reformers. On the contrary, they sought to uphold the Scriptural authority of the creeds and confessions.

    The 39 Articles state the Reformed position clearly:

    Article VIII

    Of the Three Creeds

    The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’ Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.

    Article VI upholds the doctrine of Sola Scriptura so do not even think about accusing the English Reformers of rejecting that doctrine.

    The problem is that when folks jump without thinking they wind up in worse errors than the error they are trying to refute. Denson’s post above has more in common with the Anabaptists who rejected all creeds than with the magisterial Reformers. A similar error would be the Disciples of Christ and the Christian Church, which came out of the Cane Ridge, Kentucky revivals of the Second Great Awakening. Their motto was, “No creed but the Bible.” Looking at the results of such thinking we can take for our example Charles Grandison Finney and Barton Stone. Take a good look at the Disciples of Christ today and you’ll see the results of throwing out the creeds. Take the Quakers for another example. These are simply a couple of pagan denominations with no doctrinal grounding and no dogmatic or systematic exposition of Holy Scripture.

    No, it is no positive thing, no point of spiritual pride to say that “we do not have creeds or confessions of faith.” Rather it is a sign of impending disaster!

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie


  286. I might add that I don’t follow Clark. I follow Christ and Scripture. Where Clark is wrong I will reject Clark. I uphold the confessions above Clark as well. How is rejecting the confessions in favor of Clark any different from Norman Shepherd making the same sort of claims in rejecting the Westminster Standards and their position on imputed righteousness? Do you not see where this sort of “radical” departure from Scripture and the creeds/confessions leads??

    In Christ,

    Charlie


  287. I have to agree with Roger Mann above. Cheung would be superior to Clark if Clark advocates a two persons view. Such a view actually denies the deity of Christ indirectly.

    Charlie

    14. Can any mere creature make satisfaction for us?

    None; for first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man committed;[1] and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it.[2]

    [1] Ezek 18:4, 20; Heb 2:14-18; [2] Ps 130:3; Nah 1:6

    TOP

    15. What kind of mediator and redeemer, then, must we seek?

    One who is a true[1] and righteous man,[2] and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.[3]

    [1] 1 Cor 15:21-22, 25-26; Heb 2:17; [2] Isa 53:11; Jer 13:16; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26; [3] Isa 7:14, 9:6; Jer 23:6; Jn 1:1; Rom 8:3-4; Heb 7:15-16

    The Heidelberg Catechism


  288. Regarding the impeccability of Christ, if we say Christ could sin we deny the absolute sovereignty of God in redeeming the elect (Acts 2:23).

  289. speigel Says:

    @Denson:
    Clark asked what a man is without being a human person. This was answered above. I believed that Clark misinterpreted or read without charity previous works when they said that Jesus was not a human person. Those works were guarding against the idea that Jesus was a separate person from the Second Person of the Trinity or that Jesus was only a human person. But these works were stating that Jesus wasn’t only a human person or a separate human person. Jesus is the divine-human person. Jesus is a divine person necessarily and a human person contingently.

    As I said before, two-person theorists talk about the second issue of “how” and and not the first issue of exegesis and biblical evidence. Maybe if you read more than Clark with regards to the incarnation (or anything else), you response would be more intelligible. Since Clark has done all your thinking for you, you no longer need to think about anything. So take Clark’s word when he says that you’re not a Christian – See his quote from Colossians.

  290. Sean Gerety Says:

    Maybe if you read more than Clark with regards to the incarnation (or anything else), you response would be more intelligible. Since Clark has done all your thinking for you, you no longer need to think about anything. So take Clark’s word when he says that you’re not a Christian

    Completely uncalled for.

    And for the record, nice post Denson.

  291. speigel Says:

    Wait, sarcasm isn’t allow here? Thought people had thicker skin around this area.

    I was responding to someone’s comment to me. First, I observe that some, not all, Clarkians have only read Clark on anything. Denson seems to appear that much of what a Christian needs to think about has been done by Clark. Second, Clark called those who repudiate Chalcedon as non-Christian, not I. Denson can repeat Clark’s words on the Incarnation. I shall repeat Clark’s word with regards to those who repudiate Chalcedon. If you have a problem with what Clark says about those who repudiate Chalcedon, then you should take it with Clark.

    So I can call someone a heretic here without offending anyone? This seems almost like arbitrary cherry picking on your part, Sean. But it’s your blog – you can deem whichever comment you think inappropriate, however arbitrary your standards are.

  292. qeqesha Says:

    Thanks Sean!
    Charlie, your warnings are appreciated. But you forget that the same creeds warn us that councils do err and have erred. So, when an issue arises in which a primacie case of possible error is in evidence, due to lack of definition(use of unintelligible terms), shouldn’t we rather concentrate on adressing the source of dissatisfaction, rather than restating over and over the same thing that is being objected to? For all I know, you have no clue what those “substances” and “persons” etc etc the good bishops were carrying on about, are. How then can you insist on the “orthodoxy” of a creed which is in some ways unintelligible? Is there any difference between an unintelligible creed and a meaningless mantra(Ohm, Ohm, Ohm)?
    As for your advice that we must not recoil at the slightest hint of paradox(confusion), my position is that it is only through intelligibility, an appeal to the understanding, a comprehensible message that one can be benefited by, for otherwise, there is nothing to believe. The Bible nowhere requires us to believe nonsense, contra James Anderson. Therefore, Clark’s effort in injecting intelligibility to the Definition of Chalcedon is to be lauded.

    Speigel, well, Clark has thought for me on a lot of issues I would never have been able to tackle, for which I am grateful to God. So did Martin Luther, Calvin, JC Ryle, John Robbins etc etc
    And I suppose Cheung and the good bishops at Chalcedon have thought for you?

    Denson

  293. speigel Says:

    @Denson:
    They have thought for me. But unlike you, I don’t treat Clark (or anyone else) as final authority. Fortunately, Scripture fills that role for me. It should be the same for you.

    Dissatisfied with the Chalecdon definition, two-person theorists whine and complain about the definition but do NOTHING else with regards to the doctrine. They show no proof and no exegesis for their view, they provide no explanation of how other doctrines are to be affected. For all the talk about nonsense, I’ve seen nothing but nonsense from the two-person theorist. I’m surprised no one has taken the two-person theorist to task. Maybe it’s because their view is so ridiculous, so contradictory, to the Bible, that no one has to.

    So please go ahead and show me the biblical evidence that the Messiah(s?) were to be two persons united in some mysterious union – mysterious because even Clark couldn’t figure out what this union was – to save his people. Tell me how I should read the Word of God under the premise that there are two persons in the incarnation and explain to us if there was even an incarnation. Or are you going to tell me that certain words are meaningless? If you don’t take Clark’s theory seriously enough to do all that work, there’s no need for interacting with Clark’s view nor your’s.

  294. Sean Gerety Says:

    Wait, sarcasm isn’t allow here? Thought people had thicker skin around this area.

    I have no problem with sarcasm, just that there wasn’t any. Your remarks were just priggish and rude. Nothing satirical at all.

    Denson seems to appear that much of what a Christian needs to think about has been done by Clark.

    Clark did cover a lot of ground in his career and provided many things that I only wish more Christians thought about. And, as far as the Trinity and Incarnation I’m convinced (even more so after reading Anderson) that Clark was light years ahead of the current batch of anemic paradox mongers posing as theologians.

    Second, Clark called those who repudiate Chalcedon as non-Christian, not I.

    We got the irony the first time.

    Denson can repeat Clark’s words on the Incarnation. I shall repeat Clark’s word with regards to those who repudiate Chalcedon.

    Then you’re just being an idiot on top of being rude. I don’t think anyone would disagree that Clark changed his views near the very end of his life. Besides, even Nestorius is looked on considerably more favorably thanks to modern scholarship. Frankly, I think a much stronger case can be made that Chalcedon was more than a little politically, as opposed to theologically, motivated.

    So I can call someone a heretic here without offending anyone?

    I don’t know that you can call anyone a heretic without offending them anywhere. So where you really attempting to be sarcastic or were you just lying above?

    But it’s your blog – you can deem whichever comment you think inappropriate, however arbitrary your standards are.

    I said your remarks were uncalled for. If that seems arbitrary to you then too bad.

  295. Roger Mann Says:

    Denson wrote,

    Spiegel & Mann, Boys, boys, boys, calm down!!!

    I was and am calm. And, now, I’m going to have a scotch and calm down even more! 🙂

  296. Sean Gerety Says:

    Maybe it’s because their view is so ridiculous, so contradictory, to the Bible, that no one has to.

    IMO now you’re just whining. If you think Clark’s position is contradictory, then prove it. Where’s the contradiction? Clark provided a definition of person that you may not like and Anderson called “quirky,” but who cares? Clark’s definition of person is drawn from Scripture and his solution to the problem of the Incarnation avoids the glaring contradiction and theological problems inherent in the traditional formulation.

    First, he provides a solution to the question of how one person can be simultaneously omniscient and immutable, yet ignorant of some things, grow in wisdom, thirst, and die. The solution is obviously two persons. Also, building on his theory of the Trinity in which there is but one God yet three persons (again, person defined as an aggregate of propositions, see also Joel Parkinson’s discussion of Clark’s view per The Intellectual Trinunity of God), I think it is clear that he applied the same solution the the problem of the Incarnation. I don’t see the problem other than it is admittedly a departure from Chalcedon.

    Since Clark defines “person” as a collection of propositions and a person is his mind, then it would follow that a two-mind theory is really just two persons at least how Clark defines it. Frankly, without having read Morris (he’s on my list) I have to think he and Clark are on a similar track with Clark drawing out the implications of a “dual centers of consciousness” position to its logical conclusion (oddly something Anderson would agree with).

    Echoing Denson, you might recall Clark provocatively asking if a nature died on the cross or a person? And, if a person, then what person? Obviously the Second Person didn’t die and for three days God was a Bianity. So who died? I think Clark’s conclusion is unavoidable. Further, per Crampton above, a person had to die on the cross in order to propitiate the Father’s wrath for those other “persons” he died for. Jesus had to be like us in every way, yet most theologians have an impersonal nature dying on the cross. How can an impersonal nature or some generic collection of attributes satisfy God’s wrath against sin?

    Now, FWIW, Crampton sees Morris and Clark essentially arguing the same thing and evidently has a piece in Blue Banner dealing with his Christology (I haven’t looked for it yet). However, he did say to me, “It is true, however, that there are those who take the One Person view and deny that there are two minds, two self-consciences, etc., but that is foolishness (IMO).” I couldn’t agree more. However, per Anderson and in relation to Chalcedon that would make Crampton and Morris as heterodox as Clark, regardless of how they would define person.

  297. qeqsha Says:

    speigel,
    You have not given any cogent objections to the two person theory, other than emotional huffing and puffing! Why is ‘person’ not a ‘nature’ or ‘attribute’? A stone does not have a ‘personal’ nature(attribute), while a human being has a ‘personal’ nature(attribute). Or let us say, a person is a bundle of atrributes. So a bundle of human attributes would be a human person and a bundle of divine attributes would be a divine person. How then do you end up with one person?
    Is rejecting the two person theory not tantamount to rejecting the two natures?
    And why should a two person theory change any of the usual understanding of the doctrines like substitution, satisfaction etc etc?
    The often repeated view that the Son of God became incarnate to satisfy ‘infinite wrath’ is a load of cods wallop! First of all, ‘infinite justice’ cannot be satisfied by definition! Secondly, the wages of sin is ‘death’, not some mysterious ‘infinite justice’! The stated principle of justice in the bible is ‘a tooth for a tooth’. Christ only had to satisfy the demands of justice(a tooth for a tooth), which was death. He also had to be sinless, which he satisfied by His active obedience. This makes much more sense to me than your speculative infinite nonsense about ‘infinite justice’.
    The difficulties of uniting two persons are not unique to the two person theory. The trinity is three persons. How are they united to be one God? Married people become one flesh! How is that? I can still see two bodies, one beautiful and the other a bit ragged!
    Your ejaculations are just a lot of hot air and show very little reflection. You seem carried away by a sense of your own brilliance, which is not evident to me. What is evident to me is a little uncouth midget!

    Denson


  298. Lawd, Lawd. Looks like Spiegal and I will agree on something here. I did my undergraduate degree with a minor in systematic theology, including one unit on the doctrine of Christ. I also did systematic theology as a minor in seminary. Personally, I think it is telling that Clark’s specialty is philosophy and that he had no formal training in theology.

    Philosophy is fine but philosophy does not train one to do exegesis or hermeneutics. I read Clark’s book on predestination and while I thought it was good I did notice that his treatment of certain biblical texts was superficial at best, including the passage on Isaiah 45:7.

    The short answer is that theology is better done through a wide reading of theology from all sides and that theology should be tempered by creeds and confessions. Otherwise what you wind up with is closer to Anabaptist or Radical Reformation rather than Magisterial Reformation.

    When we ignore church history we’re doomed to repeat mistakes of the past. When I read Scripture I do not see anywhere that Scripture says that there are two persons in Christ. That is someone’s fallible interpolation. The Bible I read says simply, “The Word became flesh.” Do the math. One person is the Word.

    Charlie


  299. I have Clark’s two books (Trinity and Incarnation) on order so I will be reading them in a couple of weeks.

  300. speigel Says:

    @Sean:
    Actually my initial remark was sarcastic. My intention of my own remark rules what I said and not by how you read it. Being a little priggish and rude (and idiotic!) is probably something I’ve imitated from you while reading your posts on various blogs and on the PB.

    Second, Clark’s view is contradictory to Scripture. And therefore, as some others have claimed, contradictory to Clark’s own methodology of Scripturalism. How is it contradictory? Maybe if you read books outside of Clark, you would see how so. Should I spoon feed Clarkians their dinner as well?

    Nor have I said that I disliked Clark’s definition of person. I’ve only asked for the biblical basis that all Clarkians say there is for such a definition. Oddly, the favorite text of Proverbs 23:7 is about character, the content of the propositions, not the collection itself. Yet, Clarkians assert that the verse does define personhood. The verse is more in line with saying that the definition of a cat is fuzzy and purrs. This is especially odd when considering that Clark’s definition of a person could probably be had by various other methods and deductions from the Bible. But then again, Clarkians don’t do any of their own work. They simply parrot what Clark has already written, leaving empty what Clark left empty.

    Third, even though Morris argues for a two-minds view, he argues against there being two persons, something Clark argued for. This is why I said that Clark’s view could probably be harmonized with Morris’ view so long as Clark gave up his view of two persons. Honestly, Clark could have used a little help from some analytical philosophy for Clark wasn’t always precise nor did he always think outside the box.

    Clarkians would do well to be more well read. In that manner, they would at least see that the incarnation as traditionally espoused is not contradictory and has defended itself against attacks of contradictions. But Clark is a sacred cow here. No one else writes books but Clark. But I’m glad to see someone like Charlie not bowing down to some golden calf.

    Fourth, Anderson is irrational but now Anderson is rational and right in calling Morris heterodox? But since contradictory things are acceptable in Anderson, then Morris is really orthodox. My point exactly!

    Fifthly, I read Crampton’s piece, “Christ the Mediator,” last night (not sure if it’s the same piece you are referring to) but it’s as I said before. Crampton believes that Jesus was both a divine and a human person. And this is consistent with Morris and Chalcedon and the Bible. Insofar as Crampton argues that Jesus is both divine and human yet one person, he disagrees with Clark. Crampton would even argue that Clark really espouses a one-person view.

    Lastly, your response further evidences that Clarkians will not do the work that they need to in order to make their view a legitimate view.

    Here’s what I say. The Clarkian understanding of the incarnation is right. The traditional understanding is lacking. I admit it. Would you therefore please provide us, the world and the church, with the correct and affirmative understanding of the incarnation? Would you please give us the exegetical basis for your work? Would you please help us read the Word using this new and correct understanding of the incarnation? Would you please? Since all this work will take some time, how about I hear back from you in several weeks?

  301. Sean Gerety Says:

    Clark’s view is contradictory to Scripture. And therefore, as some others have claimed, contradictory to Clark’s own methodology of Scripturalism. How is it contradictory? Maybe if you read books outside of Clark, you would see how so. Should I spoon feed Clarkians their dinner as well?

    Denson is again spot on and all we get from you is “emotional huffing and puffing!” Where does Clark contradict Scripture? Demonstration please. Oh, yeah, that’s right, that would require you actually prove and defend your position not just assert it. As far as I can tell Clark nowhere contradicts Scripture, even though he does contradict Chalcedon. Instead, his theory explains the biblical data. Admittedly, my theological knowledge is nowhere near as vast or as deep as yours, so perhaps instead of just asservation, pompous condescension and your usual name calling perhaps you will have pity on this starving waif and spoon feed me a few nuggets of your wisdom. [Now, that’s sarcasm]. 🙂

    I’ve only asked for the biblical basis that all Clarkians say there is for such a definition. Oddly, the favorite text of Proverbs 23:7 is about character, the content of the propositions, not the collection itself.

    Hogwash. Even Vincent Cheung agrees and writes: “the Bible teaches that a person is what he thinks (even in Proverbs 23:7).” Yet you claim he “wrote a commentary on the passage would also say that the verse isn’t a metaphysical claim of personhood,” but as I demonstrated in the last go round this is false.

    Yet, Clarkians assert that the verse does define personhood.

    So do Cheungians. The only people who don’t seem to are you and paradox mongers like Anderson.

    Third, even though Morris argues for a two-minds view, he argues against there being two persons, something Clark argued for. This is why I said that Clark’s view could probably be harmonized with Morris’ view so long as Clark gave up his view of two persons.

    Well, since the only thoughts Clark has now are all true thoughts who knows what he’s given up or retained. Regardless, and I realize this might be a spoiler since I do want to read Morris for myself, how does Morris define person? And, while we’re at it, since I am tiring of your endless emotional outbursts, how does Morris or you define mind so that one person can have two of them?

    Honestly, Clark could have used a little help from some analytical philosophy for Clark wasn’t always precise nor did he always think outside the box.

    ROFLOL! If nothing else you’re good for a hoot Speigel.

    Clarkians would do well to be more well read. In that manner, they would at least see that the incarnation as traditionally espoused is not contradictory and has defended itself against attacks of contradictions. But Clark is a sacred cow here. No one else writes books but Clark. But I’m glad to see someone like Charlie not bowing down to some golden calf.

    I think it’s time for you to change your diapers. I’m happy for Clark to be wrong on this score, trust me it would make things a whole lot easier, but I’m going to need something more substantive than just your “emotional huffing and puffing.”

    Fourth, Anderson is irrational but now Anderson is rational and right in calling Morris heterodox?

    I thought all I read was Clark? Am I the one who has to now spoon feed you? Why don’t you buy Anderson’s book for yourself and learn from a real analytical philosopher why you and Morris are heretodox?

    Fifthly, I read Crampton’s piece, “Christ the Mediator,” last night (not sure if it’s the same piece you are referring to) but it’s as I said before. Crampton believes that Jesus was both a divine and a human person. And this is consistent with Morris and Chalcedon and the Bible.

    Have you read Chalcedon? Evidently not, so here it is.

    Creed of Chalcedon

    We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the unity, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

    Point out for me and the rest of us where in the above does it states “that Jesus was both a divine and a human person.” It’s nowhere in there. But, if Jesus was both a divine and a human person and 1 + 1 = 2 …. You’re evidently so busy thinking outside of the box that you forgot how to count. LOL =8-P


  302. There is one person with two natures hypostatically united, neither confused as one nature nor divided. One person is the Eternal Son, Jesus Christ. He is the Eternal Son who assumes a human nature into the godhead. It is not the other way around. God does not come down to earth and make Himself less than God. The same person is both limited and unlimited depending on how Scripture shows Him at that moment in time.

    If we push the extreme then we wind up agreeing with the Muslims that God cannot assume human form.

    Charlie

  303. Sean Gerety Says:

    There is one person with two natures hypostatically united, neither confused as one nature nor divided.

    Do you want to explicate the creed or regurgitate it Charlie? Speigel said “Jesus was both a divine and a human person.” Hypostasis is typically translated “substance,” but as you’ll find out shortly when your order arrives is that substance is a term without meaning (at least none that I know of and Clark makes a compelling case that no definition exists). OTOH Matthew McMahon from Puritan Boards assured me that substance as it applies to the unity of the Trinity and to the dual natures of Christ coalescing into one person has a very definite meaning but he couldn’t tell me what it is. He claimed it would take him “too long to define it.” I even pleaded for him to point me to a source where the term is defined in order to save some time, but, again, he couldn’t or simply wouldn’t do it.

    One person is the Eternal Son, Jesus Christ. He is the Eternal Son who assumes a human nature into the godhead. It is not the other way around. God does not come down to earth and make Himself less than God. The same person is both limited and unlimited depending on how Scripture shows Him at that moment in time.

    Very pious sounding indeed, but what does it mean? How can the same person be simultaneously limited and unlimited from one moment to the next or even omniscient and ignorant? Seems to me that Anderson was correct after all and that the Incarnation, if we’re to accept the Chalcedonian definition (which really is no definition at all) is hopelessly contradictory.

    If we push the extreme then we wind up agreeing with the Muslims that God cannot assume human form.

    Again, Morris from all accounts provides a completely non-contradictory solution, but the question is how does he avoid a two-person conclusion? I have no idea, but I’m guessing Speigel will define both person and mind ala’ Morris so we can see how the two or three logically relate. Clark on the other hand skipped the middle man, defined person in accordance with Scripture, got rid of substance, and ended up with one Christ who is both fully God and and fully man united, not confused, indivisible, yet each person remaining distinct in exactly the same way the Three divine persons are distinct yet not three Gods but one.

  304. speigel Says:

    @Sean:
    Where do I begin?

    First, I would be hard pressed not to cite Reymond’s entire book “Jesus Divine Messiah”. But here is a quote:

    I have considered only four Psalms – 2,45, 102, and 110. A biblical/theological study of these as well as certain other Psalms, such as Psalms 16, 24, 72, 96, and 98, will lead the unprejudiced scholar, I submit, to adduce that these Psalms do foretell the coming of a divine Messiah. That same objectivity will also conclude that Jesus was, both as he himself claimed (Mark 14:62; John 4:26; 17:3) and as Peter and Martha confessed (Matt 16:16-17; John 11:27), that very Messiah who was to come. (2003/89)

    To be honest, I think the verse Charlie quoted before (The Word became flesh) is enough to repudiate the two-person view since under such a view no incarnation took place – it’s all a mysterious union a la Clark.

    You should also read Murray Harris’ “Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus” and William Webster’s “Behold Your King: Prophetic Proofs That Jesus is The Messiah.” Two books that no one here has heard of or read. (Apologies to those who have. And am glad you did!)

    Second, Cheung’s entire commentary is about a person’s character. When Cheung states that a person is what he thinks Cheung is saying that a person’s character is determined by what he thinks. This isn’t the first time you’ve taken a quote outside their context (Reymond’s Systematic Theology, anyone?). He does NOT use that verse as a proof-text for the definition of a person. So please stop citing Cheung as affirming Proverbs 23:7 as a text for the definition of a person. It’s sad to see you continually making the same mistake over and over again. Cheung is accessible by email. Email him if you don’t believe me.

    Third, you must be really dense in idolizing Clark if you thought he was the most precise philosopher there is.

    Fourth, according to you Anderson is a Van Tilian irrationalist. Now he’s a “real analytic philosopher” whom I should learn from? You’re starting to sound like a irrationalist. I find that you’re willing to jump ship or make others appear to jump ship whenever it’s convenient for you and your views. Anything to win an argument though, right?

    A philosopher of cognitive science and mind criticizing Morris’ view noted that “our grasp of the necessary structure of consciousness is very tenuous” and therefore “[i]t may be impossible to imagine what it would be like to have a consciousness in which synchronic co-consciousness isn’t transitive, but it is far from clear that such a consciousness is logically impossible.” So though he tries to criticize Morris’ view, he finds it difficult to completely argue against it. I take this guy’s credentials over Anderson when it deals with issues of consciousness and minds.

    From what I’ve read, your M.O. is to read snippets of a book or look up a topic on Wikipedia and argue from the little you’ve read. I’m glad you actually bought a book and is reading it this time. I shall pick up Anderson’s book in the near future. Currently I have several other books to read, most of which are written by more authoritative authors than Anderson. But thanks for the suggestion.

    Fifth, Chalcedon says there is one person. It also says that the one person is divine and human. Hence Jesus is a divine and human person.

    Tangential , here’s a quote from Oliver Crisp’s book with regards to what Chalcedon does and doesn’t do:

    …[T]he Chalcedon definition is rather like a fence or boundary around the mystery of Incarnation. What it does is establish what cannot be said of Christ, consistent with taking seriously the full range of New Testament data about him and denying certain Christological heresies, such as Apollinarianism and Nestorianism. There is also a sense in which the Chalcedonian settlement is a piece of apophatic, or negative, theology: it states what the two-natures doctrine is not. It also deploys certain technical, metaphysical notions to make some things about this union clear. However, it does not attempt to make plain what is mysterious, nor could it begin to do so, because the precise nature of the Incarnation is not revealed in Scripture. And since the Incarnation, like the Trinity, is revealed doctrine, it is sufficient for the purposes of Christian belief that the Christian hold to what has been revealed, even though (some of) the content of that revelation is mysterious. The Christian is not thereby committed to one or other metaphysical theory of how exactly the two natures subsist in the hypostatic union beyond what has been revealed and what the Church has ratified in the catholic creeds, including Chalcedon. (2007/168-169)

    Sixth, I’ve lost count at the number of times that Clarkians have failed to actually produce an affirmative work on the incarnation using the two-person model. Apparently, Clarkians only huff and puff, whine and complain, but they do it louder and many more times than I do. Your show is the grandest of them all.

    Lastly, the two-person model doesn’t allow you to say that there is one Christ who is both anything. Under the two-person view, there is one person who is a human and there is another separate person who is divine. There is not one Christ, but two (?).

    You analogize the two-person view with Clark’s view of the Trinity (Does Clark do this?), which was that there are three persons, yet one definition. There is a unity in his view of the Trinity by way of definition. But the two-person view of the incarnation is that there are two persons and two definitions. Where is the unity you try to speak of? It’s not in personhood nor in definition. So what is it? Clark expressly stated that he didn’t know. But you do? Finally, someone filling in Clark’s gap.

    //

    Whether I agree with you or not, I hope this is only your preliminary work in defending and expanding Clark’s two-person view of the incarnation. I hope to see more work from you on this area as time goes by. If what you say is true, the church should know about it. I will ask for an update about this work from you or any other two-person theorist in several weeks (mid-May) and I hope to get a serious reply.

    On another note, I am surprised not more people are speaking up. I credit Shelton for being consistent and open about his beliefs on accepting Clark’s view and even being dogmatic about it. Where’s everyone else? Who else accepts the two-person view?

  305. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Charlie,
    I will be the first to agree that I have had no formal theological education and consider it a disadvantage which I ought to have corrected already. But I suspect that if I studied theology, I would probably eschew the experience, from my interaction with those who boast of theological “education”. Further, Clark was fallible like all of us and could be and has been wrong. But why does it seem so difficult for you to simply quote and show by argument what it is that I have not read and am missing that you are so convinced of, that is relevant to the discussion? All you can come up with is an ad hominem, “Clark was not a theologian but a philosopher and you fellows have not studied theology” an appeal to the usual tiresome priestly condescension?
    Clark, by all accounts read quite a lot, certainly more than “young Charlie”, in his 90 odd years and he does not seem to have found the untold treasures that enthuse you and Speigel. His books evince learning and considered reflection and argumentation and fair treatment of those he disagrees with. Your ad hominem, can be replied with a tu quoque(equally fallacious), “Charlie is not a philosopher, that is why Charlie has difficulties descening nonsense when he reads it”, and that’s all the consideration it deserves!

    Denson

  306. speigel Says:

    @Denson:
    Sorry, I didn’t see your previous comment to me. In general, I find that most of your questions (fishing for something?) are not questions Clark would ask or even agree with. Perhaps you don’t read wide enough of Clark.

    First, I don’t know why a “person” isn’t an “attribute.” You should ask Clark since in his books he sees and presupposes a difference between the two.

    Second, Clark states that the doctrine of the incarnation affects one’s views on other doctrines. Ask him yourself why a new two-person view should change one’s views on other doctrines.

    Third, who mentioned anything about infinite justice or infinite wrath? Am I supposed to understand you as saying that sinning against God only deserves limited, possibly temporary, punishment. You should the world that hell isn’t eternal. They can celebrate with you.

    Justice is only a tooth for a tooth? Sounds like justice is an act against a thing, not a person. Now you are just confusing.

    Fourth, married people aren’t one in flesh. Even Clark is rolling his eyes at you on this one.

    I thought Clark’s view of the Trinity solved all your problems. So how did Clark answer the question, how are the three persons united?

    Fifth, I never said I was brilliant. Maybe, just maybe, I said you were obtuse. So maybe I’m just brilliant but only relatively speaking. Seems like you got an axe to grind with people smarter than you (not that I am). Hope it’s not the story of your life.

    Sixth, to be fair to Charlie, his comment on Clark’s lack of theological training was to emphasize Clark’s lack of ability to exegete Scripture. It wasn’t an ad hominem.

    Last, calling me a midget seems like a easy way to be nasty to me. Sean probably won’t call you out on it. That’s fine. But others will see how you act. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Sean said “Great post Denson!” You two are like two peas in a pod – something like your view of the incarnation!

    //

    I find it odd that you continually complain about orthodoxy regurgitating “nonsense” yet all you do is parrot Clark. O wait, this is because Clark made sense. That’s right! The lack of exegetical work proves that.

    Like your blog, I’ll probably skip over your comments. You see, my only objection, a very cogent one, is that you can’t prove your view exegetically from Scripture (I would say not even philosophically). But if you provide some exegetical work for your view, maybe you can work in conjunction with Sean, then I’ll be glad to read your comments. Even if I disagree with your view, I would be joyful to see you expand and explain the two-person view. The work will be distributed, and people can actually see what the Bible says about the incarnation. Will you do it? And why not?

  307. Sean Gerety Says:

    Not surprising, Speigel has AGAIN failed to define his terms. Notices he again fails to define “person” and “mind” yet he whines that Clark is not “precise.”

    Further, when it is obvious that his own heterodox theory is nowhere supported by Chalcedon, his reply is the typical irrationalist appeal to mystery via some irrelevant quote from Crisp. Frankly, and not surprising, Spiegel has proven once again to be a lot of hot air without any substance.

  308. qeqesha Says:

    Spygirl,
    “You see, my only objection, a very cogent one, is that you can’t prove your view exegetically from Scripture (I would say not even philosophically).”
    I guess the meaning of exegete must be different for you from mine, for that, Clark has done! One does not even need to make an effort to see it.

    “But if you provide some exegetical work for your view, maybe you can work in conjunction with Sean, then I’ll be glad to read your comments. Even if I disagree with your view, I would be joyful to see you expand and explain the two-person view.”
    What need is there to expand on something when you can’t even see the difficulty of the one person theory, not to mention all the undefined terms, including person itself. All you do is evade questions by pretending you have this secret knowledge that I don’t have access to!
    I do not have a problem with people who are smarter than me … they are my heroes! Why else do you think I followed Clark over muddleheaded van Till and eschew clowns like Anderson juggling “contigent”, “ontological” and “paradox” over and over; or Michael Sudduth with his morbid fascination with the demonic?

    Denson


  309. The last time I checked philosophers have a worse track record than theologians.


  310. Spiegal,

    Your quote from Oliver Crisp on Chaldedon was absolutely right. Apophatic theology is not necessary an appeal to mystery. It simply says what cannot be said about the incarnation. Now it is one thing to say that we are not omniscient in these matters and quite another to say that we are somehow appealing to irrationalism and mystery to support the one person view of the incarnation. I do not believe for a minute that we are irrational for saying we do not know. I haven’t read Clark’s book yet but you said:

    You analogize the two-person view with Clark’s view of the Trinity (Does Clark do this?), which was that there are three persons, yet one definition. There is a unity in his view of the Trinity by way of definition. But the two-person view of the incarnation is that there are two persons and two definitions. Where is the unity you try to speak of? It’s not in personhood nor in definition. So what is it? Clark expressly stated that he didn’t know. But you do? Finally, someone filling in Clark’s gap.

    It seems to me that if Clark admits he cannot explain it fully and he does not know then it would appear that Clark’s two person view fails his own test of truth and verifiability: he appeals to “mystery”! Given that situation I think I am rationally justified in staying with the simple statements of Scripture. The Bible is not exhaustive. It is not a theological treatise on the incarnation nor is the Bible a philosophical discussion on the technical definitions of “person” or “nature” or Clarkian views of the incarnation.

    The Bible simply and plainly states that Jesus Christ is the Word become flesh. Jesus describes Himself as the “I AM.” I do not fully understand all the implications of the incommunicable and communicable attributes of God and how that all works out in the incarnation. However, I think the apophatic approach is the best we can do from below.

    Sola Scriptura!

    Charlie

  311. qeqesha Says:

    Charlie,
    “The last time I checked philosophers have a worse track record than theologians.” I would say they have the same track record! Just depends on what one is talking about and which theologians or philosophers one is talking about!

    Denson


  312. Not necessarily an appeal to mystery, that is.


  313. With all due respect, Sean, and having not read Clark yet it seems to me that saying there is one Christ, both divine and human, and TWO persons is just as ridiculous, mysterious and contradictory as Chalcedon. Your solution raises more problems than Chalecdon, imo.

    The simple fact is that we are limited in our knowledge. That isn’t “mystery.” It is a theological fact. Your solution is rather like the logical positivists who say that only empirical knowledge is real knowledge. Therefore, you say that “substance” has no “definite” meaning. Of course abstract terms do not have empirical definitions. That goes without saying.

    I for one seek to understand the truth and I accept arguments based on what I find compelling and persuasive. Thus far I find the view that there are two persons and one Christ more problematic than saying there is one person with two natures and two wills, which is the traditional position of the church AND the Reformers. I won’t budge on that unless you can give “overwhelming” evidence and argument to prove your view overturns the historical and traditional view. To do otherwise opens the door to all kinds of theological innovations and liberalism.

    Clark’s intentions may have been good but in the end his view winds up opening up to liberalism. Reason has limits from below. Saying that does not mean I buy into Van Til’s irrationalism. It is simply a statement of fact.

    Only God has perfect reasoning ability. Calvin’s doctrine of total depravity shoots that down.

    In Christ,

    Charlie

  314. qeqesha Says:

    Charlie,
    “Given that situation I think I am rationally justified in staying with the simple statements of Scripture.” Well there is really no such thing as “simple satatements of scripture”, there is no “given” as Augustin said. The “simple statements of scripture” are already intepreted by Charlie, otherwise you would not “understand” them!

    “The Bible simply and plainly states that Jesus Christ is the Word become flesh. Jesus describes Himself as the “I AM.” ”
    Well, isn’t this a selection of just a couple of verses? Doesn’t the bible “simply” say “the man Christ Jesus”, “the son of man”, etc etc. Further, how can the same and “one person” know(as required by omniscience as a member of the trinity, the Son) and be ignorant of the same thing at the same time?(The day of His return) Doesn’t two persons explain this better?

    Denson


  315. Denson,

    The study of theology is a lifelong enterprise. It does not end with your graduation. In fact, I think I learned more theology arguing with other students after class than I did reading or hearing lectures–which is why I participate in forums and blogs like this one.

    If you don’t want to “study” theology, Denson, then might I suggest that you don’t participate here? This IS studying theology, albeit in a hostile and unfriendly environment.

    In fact, these sorts of arguments among believers is WHY we had church councils and theological debates in church history! This is why there was a council at Chalcedon.

    I might point out it is also why there is an ongoing debate over the Federal Vision error and church trials over that issue. It is also why there are debates over the link between theonomy/reconstruction and the Norman Shepherds and Greg Bahnsens and the Cornelius Van Tils of this world.

    It is clever and rhetorical to avoid the term “theology” but what you’re doing here is “theology” whether you admit it or not. The question is whether nor not your view is exegetically verifiable and consistent?

    In Christ,

    Charlie


  316. Denson, two persons implies two individuals. So in your view Jesus is not God. God the Eternal Son is one person and the man, Jesus Christ, is another person? So that means you’re really implying that Jesus is just a man and not God. Which is it???

    By the way, to confuse the three persons of the trinity with incarnation won’t work because the trinitarian persons are not “individuals.” Yet it is obvious that Jesus is an individual.

    Van Til said that God is both three persons and one Person. That is irrational. So how does saying that Jesus is an individual person yet TWO persons solve anything? That is as irrational as anything Van Til said!

    Doing acrobatic redefinitions of “person” or “subsistences” solves nothing but merely obfuscates the difficulty of the incarnation. While Chalcedon may appear to be hopelessly self-contradictory, the atheist makes that same criticism of the entire Christian faith as a dogmatic and systematic whole. To the atheist the trinity is irrational even from a Clarkian perspective. So simply saying that Chalcedon is hopelessly irrational says nothing other than that you agree with the atheists on that point. Why not go whole hog and mutilate yourself?

    In Christ,

    Charlie

  317. Sean Gerety Says:

    With all due respect, Sean, and having not read Clark yet it seems to me that saying there is one Christ, both divine and human, and TWO persons is just as ridiculous, mysterious and contradictory as Chalcedon. Your solution raises more problems than Chalecdon, imo.

    Not surprising, I completely disagree Charlie. First, if you accept Speigel’s spiel (and it seems that you do) that Jesus was both a divine person and a human person yet one person then it is you who has a serious problem. Without any further elucidation, and none has been forthcoming, Jesus is then both one person and two persons. That’s a contradiction. Frankly, it’s painfully similar to Van Til’s heterodox Trinitarian claim that God is both one person and three persons.

    However, I do agree with Crampton that to deny that in Christ there are “are two minds, two self-consciences, etc.” is “foolishness.” This would seem, at least to me, to support a two-person theory. So in that sense, and assuming one accepts Clark’s definition of person, I hardly see what all the fuss is about?

    According to Crampton, and evidently per his piece “Christ the Mediator,” Morris “does adhere to the possibility of a two mind theory, but this is no way obviates a single person (rightly defined).” The caveat there is person “rightly defined.” I downloaded Crampton’s piece so I’m curious what his operating definition of person is? If Clark didn’t properly define it then maybe Morris or Crampton has? I’ll let you know if I find anything. This is also why I repeatedly pressed Speigel (to no avail) to define person and mind. Heck, all he had to do was cite the relevant portions from Morris and that would at least be better than just more of his vacuous spit and vinegar.

    The simple fact is that we are limited in our knowledge. That isn’t “mystery.” It is a theological fact.

    But who is setting these limits Charlie? Who is to say what implications can be drawn from Scripture that have heretofore gone unnoticed? According to Clark’s critics God’s sovereignty and human responsibility defy logical harmonization, is a bona fide mystery, and this too is a “theological fact,” yet Clark successfully harmonized the two.

    IMO the goal of any competent theologian is to draw out the implications of Scripture and to solved these theological puzzles for God is not the author of confusion. However, if we’re going to say that the traditional formulations of the Trinity and Incarnation are somehow inviolable and every jot and tittle is somehow infallibly received, then I guess no progress can ever be made and we will remain uttering nonesese for another 1,000 years. I don’t share that view and I think the theological concerns that were met concerning both the Trinity and the Incarnation can be met without an appeal to nonsense, contradiction, or logical incoherence.

    Frankly, if Crampton, Morris or someone else has a theory that harmonizes two minds in one person so that a person is not his mind, then I suppose I could be happy with that. However, this too would be a modification of Chalcedon and perhaps a necessary one, but you’ll still come under the charge of being heterodox from men like Anderson and I’m sure plenty of others.

    Your solution is rather like the logical positivists who say that only empirical knowledge is real knowledge. Therefore, you say that “substance” has no “definite” meaning. Of course abstract terms do not have empirical definitions. That goes without saying.

    Since that is not what I’m arguing, your objection is moot. As far as I can tell “substance” as it relates to the unity of the Godhead or the person of Christ is without any intelligible meaning. Now you may object to Clark’s maxim, define or discard, but unless you define your terms you’re not really saying anything — positive or negative. You’re just uttering nonsense. Admittedly many think that nonsense is the real job of a theologian, but I don’t share that view.

    I for one seek to understand the truth and I accept arguments based on what I find compelling and persuasive. Thus far I find the view that there are two persons and one Christ more problematic than saying there is one person with two natures and two wills, which is the traditional position of the church AND the Reformers. I won’t budge on that unless you can give “overwhelming” evidence and argument to prove your view overturns the historical and traditional view.

    I can’t imagine you have a problem with saying God is three persons yet one God, do you? Consequently, I don’t see the massive hurdle in saying that Jesus Christ is both two persons or two minds yet one Christ? I mean, even if you say Jesus Christ consists of a human and divine nature you have to differentiate between the two, yes? There is simply no way to avoid it. The question comes down if you grant that the Second Person of the Trinity can’t die, then who or what died on the cross? A person or a nature? If you say a person, then you need to explain (or at least you should) how one person can simultaneously both die and not die. Frankly, I’ve read theologians who argue that an impersonal human nature died on the cross and evidently this doesn’t raise an eyebrow, but I fail to see how an impersonal human nature can be like us in every way when we are all also very much human persons?

    Clark’s intentions may have been good but in the end his view winds up opening up to liberalism. Reason has limits from below. Saying that does not mean I buy into Van Til’s irrationalism. It is simply a statement of fact.

    Clark does say if someone does not like his attempt to solve the difficulties involved in these two central doctrines of the Christian faith, then he certainly encourages others to come up with their own solution. I’m certainly open to counter arguments and alternative solutions, but the problem is that I haven’t heard any yet. So far what I’ve gotten are contrarian assertions and insults, but no arguments.

  318. qeqesha Says:

    Charlie,
    What I meant by not probably enjoying the experience of learning theology was the seminary type of experience. I have not been overly impressed by many seminary graduates. I am left with the impression that theological education at seminary is the worst sort of education one can get.

    ” … two persons implies two individuals”
    “… the trinitarian persons are not “individuals.””
    Bwa ha ha ha ha!!!
    This debate is finally taking its toll on you!

    “So in your view Jesus is not God.”
    I never said so. I just quoted scripture, if you did not notice! It says “the man Christ Jesus”. I was supplementing your convenient and selective quotation of “I AM” etc.
    “God the Eternal Son is one person and the man, Jesus Christ, is another person?” It would seem so!

    “So that means you’re really implying that Jesus is just a man and not God.”. No, Charlie, Jesus is both since the scriptural data has both. What do you think is the intention of the Bible when it says “the man Christ Jesus”, “the son of David”, “the son of man”? Do you think it means to deny that Jesus is God? I do not think so.
    “Which is it???” Good question Charlie. I think it is both!

    As for your evasion of my question about how “one person” can know and not know the same thing at the same time, my sympathies are with you! These questions are just too difficult and it is just naughty of me to ask you this!

    Denson


  319. Sean, I appreciate your sincerity. However, as I said before, I will stay with the Reformers.

    I have never said that Christ is two persons, a human person and a divine person. The Reformers all agreed with the creeds and I intend to do the same. I think re-inventing the wheel is a bit much.

    The creeds simply try to make sense of the Bible. While the church theologians did use philosophy to figure out these things, I don’t think philosophy is the answer to theological issues per se. Clark is simply doing over again what has already been done from a philosophical point of view.

    I prefer to say there is no analogy between the three persons of the trinity and the one person of Jesus Christ. The Bible says He is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Nowhere does the Bible differentiate between Christ and Christ but only between the Son and the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. There are only THREE persons. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That’s Bible. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that postulates a FOURTH person, who is simply the man, Jesus Christ. No, however you slice it the orthodox position is there is one SON and that Person is both human AND divine. Not only so but Jesus Christ the God and Human Person is at the right hand of the Father. He is not present in the bread and wine because His bodily presence is in heaven. How He is both human and limited in presence and yet omnipresent as God the Son is a rational debate but denying there is ONE person is to deny that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. There is no way around it.

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That in no way implies two persons. Take as it stands is my view. If I were to err I would err on the side of the deity of Christ. No one is arguing that Jesus is not human. It is His deity that is under attack and to say that Christ has two persons is to undermine His deity no matter how you slice it. That is why Nestorianism was condemned as a heresy. Now you can accuse me of being an irrationalist all you want but I am a fundamentalist. I’m going with the Bible, not Clark.

    Charlie


  320. Sean said:

    Clark does say if someone does not like his attempt to solve the difficulties involved in these two central doctrines of the Christian faith, then he certainly encourages others to come up with their own solution. I’m certainly open to counter arguments and alternative solutions, but the problem is that I haven’t heard any yet. So far what I’ve gotten are contrarian assertions and insults, but no arguments.

    I can say the same for the traditional creeds, which the Reformers unanimously accepted. Since Clark’s position seems to pose more problems than it solves and Clark himself acknowledged his position posed further problems he didn’t know how to solve, I am staying with the traditional view and the “confessional” view.

    I can say the same for Robert Reymond’s view of single procession. I’m staying with the Reformers on dual procession since it seems to me that those emphasizing the Eastern Orthodox position usually have a hidden agenda, mainly something ecumenical.

    Charlie


  321. I see you’ve disabled links here. Whatever for? I can save time and space by linking rather than quoting.


  322. If Christ is two persons and one man, how is that different from Van Til who said that God is three persons and one person????

    The traditional view is that Christ does not have the Logos replace his human soul. So there is one man, one soul, one God. Jesus Christ.


  323. Denson, all lawyers are graduates of law school. Judging by the quality of lawyers law school is a dismal failure. Therefore, throw out law school and be your own lawyer.

    “So that means you’re really implying that Jesus is just a man and not God.”. No, Charlie, Jesus is both since the scriptural data has both. What do you think is the intention of the Bible when it says “the man Christ Jesus”, “the son of David”, “the son of man”? Do you think it means to deny that Jesus is God? I do not think so.
    “Which is it???” Good question Charlie. I think it is both!

    As for your evasion of my question about how “one person” can know and not know the same thing at the same time, my sympathies are with you! These questions are just too difficult and it is just naughty of me to ask you this!

    Denson

    Denson, what is silly is that I have not ignored the emphasis of Scripture. Scripture nowhere says that Christ is two persons, which would mean that there are actually 4 divine persons. Who is this 4th god you speak of?

    Jesus is God incarnate in human flesh. The Bible nowhere says that God is the Eternal Son and Jesus is a human person. That would deny the deity of Christ. But being the lawyer you are, irrational arguments count for you as long as you can persuade the ignorant laity on the jury. Isn’t this always how heresy starts?

    There are three persons in the Godhead. Count ’em. 1, 2, 3. Where’s #4???

    Charlie


  324. I am trying to withhold judgment until I’ve read the two books on order. However, my opinion of Clark has gone down. Anyone who opts for heresy over against the Reformers who held the line against the Anabaptists and other innovators is questionable in my opinion.

    Nestorianism is a heresy. Jesus is one person. There is only one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus is fully God. He is worshipped as God. If He is two persons, then you have committed idolatry because you’re worshipping a mere creature who is only a man. But Scripture says He one Word become flesh, one man who is worshipped as God Almighty. He is the Lord who sits on the Lord’s right hand.

    While I value fellowship with other Christians, this is one doctrine that is not negotiable.

    Charlie

  325. speigel Says:

    @Sean:
    This will be a quick reply for now since I have a busy day.

    First, please note that I accept Clark’s definition of “person” or “mind.” I have no duty to define that which you all accept.

    Second, I am heterodox because Anderson says so? Jumping on any bandwagon must be fun for you.

    Third, you once again misrepresent other people. You have taken Crisp’s use of “mystery” out of context.

    What does mystery mean to Crisp? Crisp says there is mystery “because the precise nature of the Incarnation is not revealed in Scripture.” In other words, mystery is something not revealed. This is how Clark and Robbins understood it as well. Crisp is not appealing to something that cannot be understood. Crisp only acknowledges that not all things are revealed.

    I hope that people will now read passages from where Sean quotes from as he has consistently misrepresented what people have said, taking their words out of context.

    Sean, you may not agree with other people about their positions or ideas. But you should not misrepresent them. I find this to be very common with you. I don’t agree with your position, but I don’t misrepresent you. But if you won’t do the same with me or those whom I quote from, then you’re not worth talking to.

  326. Sean Gerety Says:

    as I said before, I will stay with the Reformers.

    Me too and the Reformed position is that “All synods or councils since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as an help in both.”

    Consequently IF a creedal formulation is logically paradoxical and need to be modified then I think they should be. The creeds are not infallible and being around for a long time and even revered by Catholics and Protestants alike doesn’t make them infallible either.

    I have never said that Christ is two persons, a human person and a divine person.

    That’s true, you didn’t, but since you were expressing your explicit agreement with Speigel’s position and since he did say it I thought you concurred with him. Of course, you didn’t explain how the traditional formulation answers the question of how Jesus could be both omniscient and ignorant, but then neither did the Reformers. Admittedly, they had more important fish to fry.

    The Reformers all agreed with the creeds and I intend to do the same. I think re-inventing the wheel is a bit much.

    I’m not interested in re-inventing the wheel either. I do think we have a duty to understand what God has revealed about Himself rather than just throwing up our hands and saying it is settled when it clearly isn’t.

    The creeds simply try to make sense of the Bible. While the church theologians did use philosophy to figure out these things, I don’t think philosophy is the answer to theological issues per se. Clark is simply doing over again what has already been done from a philosophical point of view.

    I agree the creeds try to make sense out of the Bible and to a large part they do, but I think more work needs to be done. However, it is almost an impossible task. For example, Anderson claims a strict numerical identity when dealing with the Persons and unity of the Trinity, whereas the Social Trinitarian approach of, say, Swinburne (and I think Clark falls in this category) avoids even the slightest appearance of being contradictory. However, according to Anderson Augustine advanced a strict numeric view as opposed to a generic view of God’s unity and that is how the Trinity must (not may) be understood in order to be faithful to creedal orthodoxy. Therefore, the ST position is deemed heterodox. Needless to say, it’s a catch-22 and one that works in Anderson’s favor.

    Also, theology and philosophy are more intertwined than you seem to realize. After all, where do you think the idea of “substance” came from? Let me give you a hint, it’s not derived from Scripture. However, here we have Clark who defines person in accordance with Scripture, sheds the idea of “substance” as meaningless baggage, and all we get are howls of derision. Like I said, it’s an impossible task and fortunately for Clark he died before having to defend his position.

    I prefer to say there is no analogy between the three persons of the trinity and the one person of Jesus Christ. The Bible says He is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

    And, as you will see for yourself, Clark too nowhere denies that Jesus Christ is one Lord, the Son of God. But, the Scriptures do identify Jesus as being very much a man too, who was ignorant of the date of His return, tempted just like you and me yet without sin, etc. Jesus wasn’t just God in a body.

    Nowhere does the Bible differentiate between Christ and Christ but only between the Son and the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. There are only THREE persons. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That’s Bible. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that postulates a FOURTH person, who is simply the man, Jesus Christ. No, however you slice it the orthodox position is there is one SON and that Person is both human AND divine. Not only so but Jesus Christ the God and Human Person is at the right hand of the Father.

    Of course the Bible does differentiate. The Bible says an angel of the Lord appeared to Joesph and said: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Paul says in 1 Timothy; “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus….” But you seem to be saying that Jesus was also a man, but just not also a human person? But, isn’t a man also a person? The question is how do you do justice to both Christ’s divinity and his humanity? Prior to His divine conception in the womb of a virgin that man Jesus did not exist, yet the Divine Second Person is eternal. I mean, obviously there is something unique about Jesus, don’t you agree?

    How He is both human and limited in presence and yet omnipresent as God the Son is a rational debate but denying there is ONE person is to deny that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. There is no way around it.

    That doesn’t follow. Besides, whether or not you end up agreeing with Clark you’ll see he does not diminish Christ’s humanity or his divinity in the slightest. The problem is that Christ must be both fully human as well as divine, yet no one has any difficulty saying the Second Person took on flesh and dwelt among us. However, when it comes to Jesus’ growing in wisdom, etc., it was only a human nature not a human person growing in wisdom. But how does a nature, human or otherwise, grow in wisdom? Jesus was also fully God and God doesn’t grow in wisdom. Now, if you don’t find that puzzling and worthy of theological inquiry, then perhaps you should have saved your money on those books. Just recite the creeds and they’re free online. 🙂

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That in no way implies two persons.

    I never said it did, but then John 1 isn’t the only description of Jesus we have. We also have passages like Luke 2:40: “And the Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” And, Mark 13:32: “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”

    You need to consider all of Scripture Charlie and not just one or two verses that happen to suit your purpose.

    Take as it stands is my view. If I were to err I would err on the side of the deity of Christ.

    Me too, but you can’t deny Hebrews which make it abundantly clear that Jesus had to be a man just like you and me as well. You can’t have the one without the other, the question is how can the two be harmonized or are Vantilians like Anderson correct and that the Incarnation is hopelessly paradoxical? As far as I can tell that’s your choice. If you say the latter, then you should get Anderson’s book and he’ll explain how you can feign rationality with the help of Plantigna while affirming what you admit is clearly contradictory and irresolvable.

    No one is arguing that Jesus is not human. It is His deity that is under attack and to say that Christ has two persons is to undermine His deity no matter how you slice it. That is why Nestorianism was condemned as a heresy. Now you can accuse me of being an irrationalist all you want but I am a fundamentalist. I’m going with the Bible, not Clark.

    You act like I’m asking you to go somewhere?

    Again, I don’t care what you do or what you think. I am persuaded that Clark was on to something, but I’m admittedly still somewhat agnostic. Perhaps Crampton or Morris or Swinburn or someone else can define the word person in such a way that is both biblical and explains how one person can have two minds or centers of consciousness and this be fully in harmony with Chalcedon. I think the first part is perhaps possible, the latter may prove to be impossible.

  327. Cliffton Says:

    qeqesha writes: What are “divine attributes” and “human attributes” without each being corresponding persons?

    Cliffton: As I already indicated, Clark maintained that there is no individual Man, and that for God (and therefore for us) there is a definition of Man and a definition of Adam, and, these definitions are clear and DISTINCT in the mind of God. If what Clark says here is true, then it necessarily follows that we can speak of the definition of man (or human attributes), without speaking of a corresponding definition of an individual. This seems to be overlooked. Further, Clark spoke of a human person and a divine person. To speak of a human person is simply shorthand for saying an individual that participates in the definition of man. To refer to Christ as a divine person and a human person then is simply shorthand for saying that the individual participates in the definition of God and the definition of Man. These terms are clear and DISTINCT. And since the claim is not being made that the definition of God participated in the definition of Man, there is no contradiction in claiming that Christ is one person. And for what it’s worth, Robbins also maintained the idea that in the incarnation, there is one individual. If this is true, the individual cannot be defined as the sum (1+1=2) of God and Man. This would be to confuse the definition of God and the definition of Man with the definition of Jesus Christ. Therefore, for Clark to make the claim that Christ was a human person and a divine person would not necessarily imply two persons. Nevertheless, I hope the value of Clark in general, and his great work on the Incarnation in particular is not judged on account of whether or not he was saying two persons, or, one person that participated in the definition of God and the definition of Man. And for those who are inclined to think that way, they have missed the value of the book on the Incarnation in general, and the value of Clark in particular.

  328. Sean Gerety Says:

    In other words, mystery is something not revealed. This is how Clark and Robbins understood it as well.

    Really? Care to provide a citation?

    Here are a few from TF that clearly do not comport with your claim:

    Paul M. Elliott in The Marks of Neo-Liberalism:

    “Mysteries in the Word of God are not that which remains inscrutable, but rather divine secrets that have been revealed and explained in the Scriptures for human understanding through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.”

    John Robbins, The Heresy Matrix:

    “…in Scripture, mysteries are divine secrets revealed to men for their understanding and knowledge.”

    And, in the Trinity Manfesto, Dr. Robbins writes:

    “Nonsense Has Come

    Is it any wonder that the world is grasping at straws-the straws of mysticism and drugs? After all, if people are told that the Bible contains insoluble mysteries, then is not a flight into mysticism to be expected? On what grounds can it be condemned? Certainly not on logical grounds or Biblical grounds, if logic is futile and the Bible mysterious. Moreover, if it cannot be condemned on logical or Biblical grounds, it cannot be condemned at all. If people are going to have a religion of the mysterious, they will not adopt Christianity: They will have a genuine mystery religion.”Those who call for Nonsense,” C.S. Lewis once wrote,”will find that it comes.” And that is precisely what has happened. The popularity of Eastern mysticism and of drugs is the logical consequences of the irrationalism of the twentieth century. There can and will be no Christian revival-and no reconstruction of society-unless and until the irrationalism of the age is totally repudiated by Christians.”

    So, despite your tired lible against me, it would seem you are once again wrong Der Speigel.

  329. Roger Mann Says:

    Speigel wrote,

    Lastly, the two-person model doesn’t allow you to say that there is one Christ who is both anything. Under the two-person view, there is one person who is a human and there is another separate person who is divine.

    That seems to be an accurate criticism of the two-person view, that so far hasn’t been answered (of course, I could have missed something, as there have been quite a few posts under this thread).

    To affirm with Scripture that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14) either means that what the man Christ Jesus experiences, God experiences — or it means nothing at all. If Jesus the dependent man is not in fact God experiencing human dependency on the independent Father, in what meaningful sense did the Word really become flesh? And if Jesus the praying man is not in fact God as a man praying to God, in what meaningful sense did God really become a man? Either God became a man or He did not; if He did, then everything that the man Jesus does, God does. This is why Christians have always accurately called Him “the God-man.” To assert anything less — like “there is one person who is human” and “there is another person who is divine” — is to assert something far less than what John 1:14 affirms: “The Word became flesh.”

    To state it bluntly, the two-person view postulates a God who takes up residence in a man, but who does not actually become a man. The man is always a distinct person from the second Person of the Godhead. Thus, the second Person of the Godhead never truly became a man, but only indwelt the man Jesus. Thus, ironically, the two-person view of the Incarnation leaves us with no genuine Incarnation at all. But, the fact is, Scripture plainly teaches that God truly “became flesh” and truly purchased the church “with His own blood” (Acts 20:18). I don’t see how that can be maintained in any meaningful sense under the two-person theory.

    And, now, let the name-calling and belittling begin… I’m fully expecting it after reading many of the post so far.

  330. Sean Gerety Says:

    That seems to be an accurate criticism of the two-person view, that so far hasn’t been answered (of course, I could have missed something, as there have been quite a few posts under this thread).

    It’s an accurate criticism provided you simply don’t define what you mean by “person.” If a person is what he thinks then you could say there is one man Jesus Christ who both grows in knowledge yet is simultaneously omniscient according to his divine person. I think the stumbling block is when we say Jesus grew in knowledge according to his human person. This seems to be what is out of bounds and has caused so much derision and consternation.

    Yet, if what a person thinks is his mind, and a dual-mind theory is the only way to resolved the paradox inherent in the Incarnation (and I think it is), then I think Clark’s solution follows logically and what we’re arguing is semantics.

    I guess the question I have, leaving Chalcedon aside for the moment, is why saying that Jesus Christ has two minds or two centers of consciousness is OK (at least it seems to be according to some participants in this discussion and I believe Crampton rightly argues that a denial of this dual-mind view is “foolishness”), yet it is verboten to say that Jesus Christ consists of two persons one divine the other human? If the words mind and person are essentially synonymous you’re in fact saying the same thing (and, just a reminder, this is essentially Anderson’s objection to Morris’ two-mind theory).

    To state it bluntly, the two-person view postulates a God who takes up residence in a man, but who does not actually become a man.

    I think that’s right because men grow in knowledge, are ignorant of some things, can be tempted, and can die. The Second Person of the Trinity, the Eternal Logos can’t do any of those things (that is, unless you’re willing to completely redefine God). I guess the other option is perhaps saying that Jesus didn’t really grow in knowledge, wasn’t really tempted like we are, didn’t really die, but then you’ve got a whole slew of new problems.

    The man is always a distinct person from the second Person of the Godhead. Thus, the second Person of the Godhead never truly became a man, but only indwelt the man Jesus. Thus, ironically, the two-person view of the Incarnation leaves us with no genuine Incarnation at all.

    That doesn’t follow, for if that were the case the Three persons of the Trinity would by necessity be Three God’s and Christians would all be polytheists. It seems to me that Clark’s theory is that the human person and the divine person are united in one individual man, Jesus Christ, much in the same way the Three Divine Persons aren’t three gods, but One God. The thoughts of the one Person are included in the thoughts of the other, yet subjectively they’re not the same. Concerning the Trinity the Father can’t think I will take on flesh and dwell among men, only the Son can think that, yet objectively both think the Son will take on flesh and dwell with men.

    Things are slightly different in the Incarnation because Jesus can both say “I and the Father are one” yet at the same time be ignorant of the exact day and time of His return, etc. Now Clark may not be correct in his analysis, but at least his position explains how this can be while avoiding the contradictory notion that one person is at the same time all knowing yet ignorant of some things (among other difficulties).

    At the very least Clark avoids the charge of paradox but at a price evidently too high for most folks. And that I can certainly understand. It’s frankly too high for me, but I am just not willing to dismiss it out of hand.

    I’ve always said that I think Clark’s books on theology proper are his most important and ground breaking, this discussion is just one example of why.

  331. Roger Mann Says:

    To state it bluntly, the two-person view postulates a God who takes up residence in a man, but who does not actually become a man.

    “I think that’s right because men grow in knowledge, are ignorant of some things, can be tempted, and can die.”

    If God merely “takes up residence in a man” but does not “actually become a man,” then we are left with no genuine Incarnation, as I stated earlier. The doctrine of the Incarnation is that God “became flesh” (i.e., man). It seems to me that you are proving the point I was making. I may not be able to adequately explain how the omniscient God grew in knowledge as a man, but the alternative of denying that He truly became a man is a bridge too far for me.

    The man is always a distinct person from the second Person of the Godhead. Thus, the second Person of the Godhead never truly became a man, but only indwelt the man Jesus. Thus, ironically, the two-person view of the Incarnation leaves us with no genuine Incarnation at all.

    “That doesn’t follow, for if that were the case the Three persons of the Trinity would by necessity be Three God’s and Christians would all be polytheists.”

    I’m not sure how that “doesn’t follow,” as it simply restates in different words what I said about “a God who takes up residence in a man, but who does not actually become a man.” And you said “I think that’s right” in reference to that statement. So I’m a little confused. Is that right or not?

    Moreover, I’m not sure how the three Persons of the Godhead are analogous to the dilemma I pointed out above. The three Persons of the Godhead equally share the divine attributes. But if “the second Person of the Godhead never truly became a man, but only indwelt the man Jesus,” or if God merely “takes up residence in a man” but does not “actually become a man,” then we are indeed left with no genuine Incarnation. In other words, if a human “person” is a necessary aspect of being “human,” then the second Person of the Godhead could not have become a genuine “human.” No? He was merely indwelling a human.

    “It seems to me that Clark’s theory is that the human person and the divine person are united in one individual man, Jesus Christ, much in the same way the Three Divine Persons aren’t three gods, but One God.”

    But how can the human person and the divine person be united in one “individual man.” What is an “individual man?” A physical body? But Scripture doesn’t teach that the Word merely assumed a “physical body” in the Incarnation. It teaches that the Word became a genuine “man” with a human soul/mind/will. Anything less than that is not a genuine Incarnation. So if that is Clark’s theory, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  332. Roger Mann Says:

    I’m reposting this, since I screwed up the blockquote tags.

    To state it bluntly, the two-person view postulates a God who takes up residence in a man, but who does not actually become a man.

    “I think that’s right because men grow in knowledge, are ignorant of some things, can be tempted, and can die.”

    If God merely “takes up residence in a man” but does not “actually become a man,” then we are left with no genuine Incarnation, as I stated earlier. The doctrine of the Incarnation is that God “became flesh” (i.e., man). It seems to me that you are proving the point I was making. I may not be able to adequately explain how the omniscient God grew in knowledge as a man, but the alternative of denying that He truly became a man is a bridge too far for me.

    The man is always a distinct person from the second Person of the Godhead. Thus, the second Person of the Godhead never truly became a man, but only indwelt the man Jesus. Thus, ironically, the two-person view of the Incarnation leaves us with no genuine Incarnation at all.

    “That doesn’t follow, for if that were the case the Three persons of the Trinity would by necessity be Three God’s and Christians would all be polytheists.”

    I’m not sure how that “doesn’t follow,” as it simply restates in different words what I said about “a God who takes up residence in a man, but who does not actually become a man.” And you said “I think that’s right” in reference to that statement. So I’m a little confused. Is that right or not?

    Moreover, I’m not sure how the three Persons of the Godhead are analogous to the dilemma I pointed out above. The three Persons of the Godhead equally share the divine attributes. But if “the second Person of the Godhead never truly became a man, but only indwelt the man Jesus,” or if God merely “takes up residence in a man” but does not “actually become a man,” then we are indeed left with no genuine Incarnation. In other words, if a human “person” is a necessary aspect of being “human,” then the second Person of the Godhead could not have become a genuine “human.” No? He was merely indwelling a human.

    “It seems to me that Clark’s theory is that the human person and the divine person are united in one individual man, Jesus Christ, much in the same way the Three Divine Persons aren’t three gods, but One God.”

    But how can the human person and the divine person be united in one “individual man.” What is an “individual man?” A physical body? But Scripture doesn’t teach that the Word merely assumed a “physical body” in the Incarnation. It teaches that the Word became a genuine “man” with a human soul/mind/will. Anything less than that is not a genuine Incarnation. So if that is Clark’s theory, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.


  333. Roger said:

    But how can the human person and the divine person be united in one “individual man.” What is an “individual man?” A physical body? But Scripture doesn’t teach that the Word merely assumed a “physical body” in the Incarnation. It teaches that the Word became a genuine “man” with a human soul/mind/will. Anything less than that is not a genuine Incarnation. So if that is Clark’s theory, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    Yes, you’ve stated what I could not seem to find words to express, Roger. That is exactly my feeling. To redefine “person” in such technical language that it misses the entire point is not to offer a rational explanation but simply to muddy the waters from a different angle. Of course, I still have to read the books. I am out of town and won’t get home to read them until next week some time.

    The traditional position is that the Logos does not replace the human soul. That would be Apollinarianism. Rather, the church fathers said that Jesus had a human soul with the same reasoning faculties we have. How that is reconciled with His complete and full deity is another matter. The kenosis option is also out since that would make Jesus less than God. But that is the view of many these days. Popular among Pentecostals and Charismatics is that Jesus was a “spirit-filled” man. In other words, He’s not God He was just infilled at His baptism and we can do the same miracles Jesus did if we can just work up enough of the Holy Ghost.

    I have thought long and hard about the incarnation as most everyone else has. I don’t think it is a cop out to “mystery” to say that I have not yet figured it out. The trinity is much easier to deal with because of God’s transcendence. But the incarnation brings it down to where we are.

    I’m open to what Clark has to say. However, I think Roger might be on to something when he says that Clark might not be talking about two distinct persons in Christ at all. I’ll read the book later and draw my own conclusions.

    In Christ,

    Charlie

  334. speigel Says:

    @Cliffton:
    I wish there was a “like” button for your post. Though I feel that Clark’s value with regards to the incarnation is overshadowed by its errors, I agree that Clark’s work is indeed valuable.

    @Roger:
    I apologize for partaking in the name calling and belittling. That I should not have done and hope that it will not prevent you from commenting.

    @Sean:
    Clark says that there are divine secrets (or per Clark mysteries) which have been revealed. So revealed mysteries are revealed mysteries. Per your quotes of Robbins and Elliot, they agree as well. But what were they before they was revealed and still hidden? Were they still a divine secrets? Clark says that while hidden the secrets, in the form of propositions, were intelligible but only hidden and unrevealed. You can find his commentary on the word “mystery” in his commentary on Colossians (and I think First Corinthians). Crisp says the same in the context of his quote.

    Like Cheung, I agree that one cannot and should not appeal to mystery for a doctrine that has been revealed. This is in his commentary to Ephesians.

    //

    I find the explanation of the two-person view interesting. (Wrong, but interesting.) I hope more will be said. I fail to understand what the unity is between the two persons. Is the “individual man” the unity? And is this deducible from Clark’s view?

  335. Sean Gerety Says:

    If God merely “takes up residence in a man” but does not “actually become a man,” then we are left with no genuine Incarnation, as I stated earlier. The doctrine of the Incarnation is that God “became flesh” (i.e., man). It seems to me that you are proving the point I was making. I may not be able to adequately explain how the omniscient God grew in knowledge as a man, but the alternative of denying that He truly became a man is a bridge too far for me.

    Are you saying the Logos becoming flesh means that the Second Person ceased being God for the 33 years Jesus walked the earth? However, and as Clark rightly points out, “human qualities cannot be attributes of God.” But, you are right and you have not adequately explained how the omniscient God grew in knowledge as a man. Yet, for some reason you don’t think this is required?

    I’m not sure how that “doesn’t follow,” as it simply restates in different words what I said about “a God who takes up residence in a man, but who does not actually become a man.” And you said “I think that’s right” in reference to that statement. So I’m a little confused. Is that right or not?

    What doesn’t follow is that Clark’s two-person theory “leaves us with no genuine Incarnation at all.” The Second Person didn’t cease being God. The problem is your position, so far as I can tell, is a denial that Jesus was fully God and fully man. While there are many examples that can be adduced, here’s one from Clark:

    Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 support this [Clark’s] view: “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?” Since a rift within the eternal immutable Persons of the Trinity is absolutely impossible, Jesus is here speaking as a man. An impersonal human “nature” cannot speak. Nor is there much intelligibility in supposing that the Father could forsake a “nature.” Those words from Psalm 22:1 were the words of a true man, a real human being, whom the Father forsook, thus imposing the penalty of propitiation by which we are redeemed.

    Another pertinent event supports this general position. In the epistle of James (1:13) we learn that “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” But Jesus was tempted. Since the undefined and therefore meaningless term *nature* cannot be tempted, Jesus must have been a man.”

    Later Clark argues: “The Logos never gets tired or thirsty; the Logos never increases in either stature or wisdom. The Logos is eternal and immutable. How then can these human characteristics possibly characteristics of God?”

    Moreover, I’m not sure how the three Persons of the Godhead are analogous to the dilemma I pointed out above. The three Persons of the Godhead equally share the divine attributes. But if “the second Person of the Godhead never truly became a man, but only indwelt the man Jesus,” or if God merely “takes up residence in a man” but does not “actually become a man,” then we are indeed left with no genuine Incarnation. In other words, if a human “person” is a necessary aspect of being “human,” then the second Person of the Godhead could not have become a genuine “human.” No? He was merely indwelling a human.

    So your position is that God the Second Person set aside his divine attributes, i.e., omniscience, immutability, etc., if so in addition to some of the passages already adduced, Clark dispels this notion on pages 64-65.

    But how can the human person and the divine person be united in one “individual man.” What is an “individual man?” A physical body? But Scripture doesn’t teach that the Word merely assumed a “physical body” in the Incarnation. It teaches that the Word became a genuine “man” with a human soul/mind/will. Anything less than that is not a genuine Incarnation. So if that is Clark’s theory, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    Clark has not argued that the Incarnation was God in a body, or an impersonal human “nature,” but that Jesus was a real human person in every way like you and me except without sin as well as a wholly divine one. Dr. Robbins sums up Clark’s position as follows:

    The relationship that obtains between the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, and Jesus is unique, unlike that between the Logos and every other man who comes into the world (see John 1:9). The Logos did not merely light the mind of Christ; the Logos Himself is fully in Christ. Christ could therefore say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” No mere prophet could make such an astounding claim. Prophets, inspired by God, possess some of the divine propositions. Christ, however, possess them all, as the author of Hebrews argues in the first chapter. *All* the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

    Again, the real Incarnation is completely maintained in Clark’s theory where Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

  336. Sean Gerety Says:

    The traditional position is that the Logos does not replace the human soul. That would be Apollinarianism. Rather, the church fathers said that Jesus had a human soul with the same reasoning faculties we have. How that is reconciled with His complete and full deity is another matter. The kenosis option is also out since that would make Jesus less than God.

    Exactly the problem I’m having with Roger’s position. Well said. However, as Clark points out, “the one who died on the cross was a man, he had or was a soul, he was a human being, a person.” I guess the question is how can Jesus also have “a human soul with the same reasoning faculties we have” yet not also be a human person?

    I’ll read the book later and draw my own conclusions.

    Also well said. 🙂

  337. qeqesha Says:

    Clifton,
    “… we can speak of the definition of man (or human attributes), without speaking of a corresponding definition of an individual.”
    Ok, let me try and restate what you say and see if I have understood you. The definition of man and individuation or instantiation of the definition must be kept distinct. Further, the definition ‘Man’, is the definition of a ‘human person’, in other words ‘Man’=’human person’?
    And so we can also say, the definition ‘Son’=the definition ‘divine person’ with the caveat that, the ‘Son’ is also and perhaps properly, the instantiation of the definition ‘divine person’. So is ‘Father’ and ‘Holy Spirit’, their distinctions being maintained by certainr propositions in them as Clark explained.

    “To speak of a human person is simply shorthand for saying an individual that participates in the definition of man.”

    This is where I would have to request for clarification. You seem to distinguish or believe Clark distinguished between the definition ‘Man’ and ‘human person’? I think they are the same as I have put it above! Doesn’t ‘Clifton is a man’ and ‘Clifton is a human person’ mean the same thing? This means Clifton is an instantiation or individuation of the definition ‘human person’ or ‘Man’. Notice that a particular name is required in specifying an instance of individuation.
    Now back to the ‘nature'(oh dear!!!) of Christ:
    “To refer to Christ as a divine person and a human person then is simply shorthand for saying that the individual[Jesus Christ] participates in the definition of God and the definition of Man.”
    I agree absolutely! And thank you for putting it in a way I might never have been able to or figure out. I wish you could have stopped here!

    ” And since the claim is not being made that the definition of God participated in the definition of Man, there is no contradiction in claiming that Christ is one person.”
    This statement taken as a whole is problematic for me, or perhaps I should say I do not understand it. The first part, “No claim is being made that the definition of God participates in the definition of man”, is clear to me. In other words, the definition of God and the definition of man are distinct. What escapes me is the meaning of the second part, how this implies that no contradiction is entailed in calling Christ a person. This would seem to me to be a simple case of equivocation. This may or may not be the same as van Til’s view on the trinity, that the members of the trinity are persons and God is a person. What is wrong with calling Him two persons but one individual, Christ Jesus? In other words, Christ is a unity of two persons. It would seem you would answer in the positive as you say, “And for what it’s worth, Robbins also maintained the idea that in the incarnation, there is one individual”.
    Further you wrote,
    “If this is true, the individual cannot be defined as the sum (1+1=2) of God and Man. This would be to confuse the definition of God and the definition of Man with the definition of Jesus Christ.” How so? The definition of Jesus Christ must in some way refer back to God and man. This is unavoidable.
    Whether it is a sum, product, logarithm, integral, derivative, moving average, or Fourier Transform etc etc of God and Man, I do not know, but there is a need for specifying in what the unity of the definition of God and man consists, in the individual, Christ Jesus.
    If we take the one person route, the seeming solution turns out to be an illusion as the biblical data will not allow it. How does “one person” know and not know at the same thing at the same time? How can a person be omniscient and learn at the same time? etc etc
    A part of our debate may center around semantics, saying what one intends to mean seems to be a challenge. But does this not serve to emphasize again Clark’s insistence on clear definition of terms?
    Thanks for a great post Clifton!
    Helped me clear up some of my own confusion!

    Denson

  338. lawyertheologian Says:

    To state it bluntly, the two-person view postulates a God who takes up residence in a man, but who does not actually become a man.

    “I think that’s right because men grow in knowledge, are ignorant of some things, can be tempted, and can die.”

    If I may, what I believe Sean is saying is that the Logos Himself didn’t become a man. That is, He didn’t cease to be divine. He didn’t cease to be omniscient, omnipotent, etc. Now, it seems that some here would like to think that the Logos became a mystery, or better yet, a logical impossibility. That is, the Logos became ignorant while remaining omniscient, suffering while remaining impassible. Traditionally, theologians have instead considered that the limita tions of Jesus are due to his human nature,that such is not confused with his divine nature. Clark simply declared that there are no natures unattached to a person, that is, a mind. I think we should all agree that we are referring to a unit when speaking of Jesus. He is the God-man (not an “individual man”. The question therefore is what is meant by man? Only a human nature? Is man ever defined as such? BTW, having a human soul means he had a human mind.

    Cliffton confuses what something is and who something is, its definition as to what is essential to it verses what/who it also is. The persons of the Godhead is who God is. Truth is what God is.

    “As I already indicated, Clark maintained that there is no individual Man, and that for God (and therefore for us) there is a definition of Man and a definition of Adam,”

    What Clark meant by there being no individual Man, is that Man is not like God, being only One. God created men, Adam included. The definition of Adam is “a man.” That is what he is. All men have that same definition, the definition of man. And what that is is thinking beings having bodies.

    “To speak of a human person is simply shorthand for saying an individual that participates in the definition of man.”

    What’s an individual? Who or what participated in the man who is the second part of the God-Man.

    “And for what it’s worth, Robbins also maintained the idea that in the incarnation, there is one individual.”

    Please provide a quote.

    “Nevertheless, I hope the value of Clark in general, and his great work on the Incarnation in particular is not judged on account of whether or not he was saying two persons, or, one person that participated in the definition of God and the definition of Man.”

    I really can’t make sense of this talk of participating in definitions of God and Man, and how it possible that one or two persons can participate in these definitions. Maybe Cliffton or someone else can try to rearticulate this in other language.

    “And for those who are inclined to think that way, they have missed the value of the book on the Incarnation in general, and the value of Clark in particular.”

    Well, in the last paragraph of “The Incarnation” Robbins claimed and implied that Clark was claiming that Jesus is two persons.

  339. lawyertheologian Says:

    Denson,

    Thanks for clearing up some things.

    But I’m still wondering how Jesus Christ can be spoken of as one individual. Is God one individual and three persons? Aren’t persons a type of individual?

  340. qeqesha Says:

    Pat,
    “I think we should all agree that we are referring to a unit when speaking of Jesus. He is the God-man ”
    This I must agree with. Further, Jesus is unique. There are many instantiations of the definition ‘man’, but there is only one unique instantiation of the God-man. There are not many “Jesuses”, or instances of the God-man.

    “Cliffton confuses what something is and who something is, its definition as to what is essential to it verses what/who it also is. The persons of the Godhead is who God is. Truth is what God is.”
    Which is the definition and which is the individuation or instantiation? Or is there just no way of putting it that way?
    “What’s an individual? Who or what participated in the man who is the second part of the God-Man.” An individual is an instance or individuation of an idea or definition. Pat is an individual man, or an instance of a man! Christ Jesus is the instantatiation of the definition of the God-man. Since scripture says, “The Word was made flesh”, we must conclude that the Son participates in the definition of man. In other words there is a dependence or derivation of the man from the Son that is uniquely unlike all other man’s dependence on the Light of the world as John Robbins put it. Possibly, it means, the mind of Christ, the propositions of the Son, were in the mind of the man in a unique way, without replacing the normal definition of a man.
    “I really can’t make sense of this talk of participating in definitions of God and Man, and how it possible that one or two persons can participate in these definitions. Maybe Cliffton or someone else can try to rearticulate this in other language.”
    Perhaps Clifton can elaborate?
    On my part I see it as the necessity of keeping the distinction between the definition say of a man, which is generic, and particular instances of man. If we do not do so, we end up with only individuals(men) but no genera(Man)! In other words we have only particulars but no universals. But there is also a sense in which each instance of man is a universal in that no two man are identical. There is only one Plato! Because God is unique(One), He is both the particular and the universal. This is NOT the “one and the many”, of van Tilian gobledy gook. It does not mean that God is three persons and one person as van Til put it! That would be nonsense!

    Denson

  341. qeqesha Says:

    Pat,
    “But I’m still wondering how Jesus Christ can be spoken of as one individual. Is God one individual and three persons? Aren’t persons a type of individual?”
    An individual refers to any instance of a “thing” or definition. In this case, certainly a person in the trinity is also an individual, since each is an instance of a divine person. But is God an individual? Is the trinity an individual? We say God is a unity or God is One. Can a unity of persons be an individual? I think so. Countries are a unity consisting of territories marked by geographical boundaries, with internal structures of political, economic and social relations. Yet one refers to an individual country, the USA!
    How can we refer to Christ as an individual? Well, if we restrict the meaning of individual to instance of some definition, one can refer to Christ as an individual. It can also refer to the fact that He is a unity(of persons)!

    Denson


  342. Denson, there are not three “individuals” in the Godhead. That would be tri-theism, three gods instead of one God.

    The English word “person” is misleading since the Greek word is “subsistence”. So within the one divine nature, Godhead, or “substance” (ontos) there are three subsistences which are not separate from the others nor confused but “distinct” from the others. This is how the three persons can be held without committing the error of tri-theism.

    One of those subsistences, the Eternal Son, assumes the form of the “individual”, Jesus Christ, on earth in bodily form. All the fullness of the “Godhead” dwelt in Him bodily (Colossians 2:9). In other words, you cannot divide the Godhead or Divine Nature into three separate parts.

    Also, God is pure spirit. (John 4:24). He has no body and is therefore not an “individual” in the sense you mean.

    Charlie

  343. lawyertheologian Says:

    Denson,

    What something is is it’s definition. Who someone is a description of that someone. God is truth. That is what defines God. God is three persons. That is who He is. God being three person is not the definition of God but simply describes further who God is. It is not essential to the meaning of God that He be three persons. But that is who He is. He is three persons.

    Individuals or individuation, as I understand it, and as Clark taught, are based on qualitative differences. Yes, there is only one God, but He (speaking colloquially) is not described as being one individual but three; He is actually a they. Again, Clark associates the Three Persons with three individuals, which they are. Thus, God cannot be one individual and three individuals.

    Cliffton’s understanding of Clark’s book “The Incarnation” does not comport with what Clark said in that book and with his book “The Trinity.” For Clark makes clear that his definition of person when speaking of Jesus being a man he applies to the Persons of the Trinity. Quotiong from the “The Trinity”

    “Accordingly the proposal is that a man is a congeries, a system, sometimes an agglomeration of miscellany, at any rate a collection of thoughts. A man is what he thinks: and no two men are the same collection.

    This is true of the Trinity also,” p. 106.

    Further, Clark made clear that he believed was more than a divine nature or a divine person having a human nature.

    “An impersonal human ‘nature’ cannot speak. Nor is there much intelligibility in saying that the Father forsook a ‘nature’.” “The Incarnation” p.71.

    “How an X with a human will and a human intellect, who or which increases in wisdom, can be devoid of personality requires some non-existent explanation. … How can a man be a man without being a human person?” Ibid. p.69.

  344. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thus, God cannot be one individual and three individuals.

    FWIW I think some of the difficulty could also be due to the ambiguity of the word “individual.” Since individual can be predicated on virtually everything (i.e., an individual hallucination, ocean, tree, rock, person, cloud, etc.) it logically is about as much value as the word existence.

    Also, I think it’s fair to say (and I don’t have Clark’s The Trinity handy), but that Clark held to a generic as opposed to a numeric unity of the Godhead.

    I think Joel Parkinson’s excellent TR piece, The Intellectual Triunity of God, is helpful here (see http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/083a-TheIntellectualTriunityofGod.pdf). I think particularly helpful was his demonstration of the indivisibility of the three omniscient Persons:

    1. Omniscience means knowledge of all truths, without exception, whether past, present or future. This is true by definition.

    2. God has such universal knowledge and is omniscient (Isaiah 46:10; Hebrews 4:13; 1 John 3:20). There are some who attempt to limit God’s knowledge to all past and present truths, but not all future truths, in defense of human free will (for example, see Richard Rice, God’s Foreknowledge & Man’s Free Will, 39, 54). But such attempts fail in the face of Scriptures which affirm that God foreknows the words (Psalm 139:4) and even the sins (Deuteronomy 31:21; Jeremiah18:12) of men. Therefore if we accept the Bible as truth, we are forced to concede God’s total omniscience.

    3. God is also immutable (Psalm 102:27; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8). This again is the inescapable testimony of the Bible.

    4. For God to be immutable and omniscient, he must also be immutably omniscient. This necessarily follows from Premises 2 and 3. Otherwise, he could learn something new in violation of his immutability and would not have previously known all things contradicting his omniscience.

    5. One omniscient Person knowing all truths also entails comprehensive knowledge of the thoughts of other omniscient Persons. If, for instance, the Son did not know the Father’s thoughts in entirety, he would not know all things.

    6. Such penetrating inter-personal knowledge does exist within the Godhead. This is necessarily true since the three Persons are God and God is omniscient. But it is also the explicit teaching of Scripture. “No man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him (Matthew 11:27). Here the Son’s knowledge of the Father is placed on a level with the Father’s knowledge of the Son. This parity of knowledge is demonstrated by the antithesis between the Father knowing the Son and the Son knowing the Father, by that fact that neither attain this knowledge by revelation (as men do) but simply know it on their own, and by the fact that each “knows” (Greek: “epignoski” meaning “fully knows”) the other. Similarly, the Holy Spirit knows the thoughts of the Father. “For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). Again, this knowledge is intrinsic to the Holy Spirit since it is independent of any revelation (1 Corinthians 2:10). Hence, each of the three omniscient Persons eternally and immutably knows the thought of the other two completely.

    7. For this to be the case, separability among the three is absolutely impossible. If there were to be a rift within the Godhead, then each of the Persons could no longer immediately know the thoughts of the others. But this could only occur if these thoughts were never known (denying that they were ever omniscient) or if they were to forget something (denying their immutable omniscience). So we see that the unique case of divine omniscience is only possible for the three Persons if they are utterly inseparable. Or, to put it another way, the fact of divine omniscience makes divisibility among the three thinking Persons metaphysically impossible.

    In any case, to the extent that Parkinson correctly explains Clark’s idea of unity so that we have one God and not three gods (and FWIW I can find no fault in Parkinson’s argument and I believe it tracks with Clark’s position), then I think it fair to say that Clark held to a form of Social Trinitarianism. In that case, and according to James Anderson, Clark is heterodox because the only orthodox reading of the so-called Athanasian creed is on the basis of a numerical identity between the unity and persons of the Trinity.

    Oddly, if one were to follow Anderson, and even though he doesn’t mention it explicitly, Van Til is the standard bearer of orthodoxy when he proclaimed that God is one person and three persons. Again, reading Anderson makes Clark’s solutions to the problem of the Trinity and Incarnation all the more attractive. 🙂

  345. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie: “Denson, there are not three “individuals” in the Godhead. That would be tri-theism, three gods instead of one God.”

    This doesn’t follow. This again confuses what God is with who God is. Consider the following:

    “To say that God is one essence would mean that Deity, REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY PERSONS THERE ARE, has a SINGLE definition.” “The Incarnation.” p. 7.

    Charlie: “The English word “person” is misleading since the Greek word is “subsistence”. So within the one divine nature, Godhead, or “substance” (ontos)”

    The Greek word translated “person” in the Nicene creed is hypostasis which is properly translated “substance”, which means literally a standing under. That is, the Trinity is defined as one being (mia ousia) and under that definition, there are three substances. In the NT, “person” is the translation of both hypostasis as well as proswpon, the latter meaning “face.” BTW, ontos is the masc. or neut. participle of eimi, to be.

  346. Cliffton Says:

    qeqesha writes: Further, the definition ‘Man’, is the definition of a ‘human person’, in other words ‘Man’=’human person’?

    Cliffton: I disagree. As you noted, I believe “To speak of a human person is simply shorthand for saying an individual that participates in the definition of man.” Implicit in this statement is the idea that Man is to be distinguished from an individual that participates in the definition of Man.

    Sean writes: Also, I think it’s fair to say (and I don’t have Clark’s The Trinity handy), but that Clark held to a generic as opposed to a numeric unity of the Godhead.

    Cliffton: Indeed. And his reason for saying so has implications with respect to the incarnation, particularly with respect to the current discussion. FWIW, Clark also acknowledged that in the sense that there is only one numerical definition of God, then in this vague sense, we could speak of a numerical oneness. But of course, this is something different and irrelevant to the conversation. It does however indicate that Clark understood precisely what he was saying…and what he was not saying.

  347. lawyertheologian Says:

    Cliffton: Indeed. And his reason for saying so has implications with respect to the incarnation, particularly with respect to the current discussion. FWIW, Clark also acknowledged that in the sense that there is only one numerical definition of God, then in this vague sense, we could speak of a numerical oneness.

    Why is saying that there is only numerical definition of God vague? Doesn’t truth have only one definition? BTW, is there any other definition of one other than numerical? Or were you simply being redundant?

  348. Cliffton Says:

    Sean writes: FWIW I think some of the difficulty could also be due to the ambiguity of the word “individual.” Since individual can be predicated on virtually everything (i.e., an individual hallucination, ocean, tree, rock, person, cloud, etc.) it logically is about as much value as the word existence.

    Cliffton: It would appear that Clark thought otherwise. His posthumous work indicates quite the contrary (Clark Speaks From The Grave).


  349. There are three distinct entities or hypostases which cannot be separated into three separate Gods. That’s tritheism. In other words, there are not three “separate” anything in the Godhead. There is only one God. So however you solve the problem you can’t opt for either the oneness view that there is only one person in the Godhead, nor can you choose the option for three gods in the Godhead. Both are out. One divine nature or being and 3 subsistences or hypostases.


  350. “To say that God is one essence would mean that Deity, REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY PERSONS THERE ARE, has a SINGLE definition.” “The Incarnation.” p. 7.

    See Colossians 2:9. Of course Jesus has all the fullness of God. Otherwise He wouldn’t be worshipped as Lord and God and Creator.

    He has all the fullness of deity.

    Charlie

  351. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie,

    The Reformed Creeds all confess God as three persons. Again, a hypostasis is a person.

    God being one does not necessitate one person or one individual, but simply one God. There is no other thing to describe God. He is simply one as to definition.

    Yes, there are three separate things to God. Again, these are referred to as persons or substances. God is three persons, because each individual person can think distinct thoughts.

  352. Roger Mann Says:

    Sean wrote,

    Are you saying the Logos becoming flesh means that the Second Person ceased being God for the 33 years Jesus walked the earth?

    No, and I don’t see how that is even a reasonable question in light of what I wrote:

    If God merely “takes up residence in a man” but does not “actually become a man,” then we are left with no genuine Incarnation, as I stated earlier. The doctrine of the Incarnation is that God “became flesh” (i.e., man).

    How does that even remotely imply that “the Second Person ceased being God” in the Incarnation? The Second Person of the Godhead assumed a human nature in the Incarnation; He didn’t “cease being God” or relinquish the “divine nature,” and I never hinted that He did. The orthodox position is that the Second Person of the Godhead assumed a human nature while He retained the divine nature — one Person with two distinct natures. The “personal” quality common to both the divine and human natures is supplied by the Second Person of the Godhead. There is nothing confusing or contradictory about that; and it is has been the orthodox Christian doctrine for about two thousand years now.

    However, and as Clark rightly points out, “human qualities cannot be attributes of God.”

    But who claimed that “human qualities” are attributes of God? I certainly haven’t. Again, the orthodox position is that the “divine qualities” are attributes of the divine nature, while the “human qualities” are attributes of the human nature. The Second Person of the Godhead equally shares both sets of “qualities” or “attributes” in the Incarnation — one Person with two distinct natures.

    But, you are right and you have not adequately explained how the omniscient God grew in knowledge as a man. Yet, for some reason you don’t think this is required?

    It’s not required in order for the orthodox position to be true. Accurate biblical doctrines are true whether they can be fully explained or not. Neither is an exhaustive comprehension of any biblical doctrine necessary in order for it to be true or believed. But here’s my feeble attempt to explain it anyway: The Second Person did not grow in knowledge according to His divine nature, but He did grow in knowledge according to His human nature. Again, there is nothing confusing or contradictory about that. The “personal” quality of the Second Person is not an essential aspect of the divine nature/attributes. That’s why the Second Person can equally share both the “divine nature” and “human nature” in the Incarnation — one Person with two distinct natures.

    What doesn’t follow is that Clark’s two-person theory “leaves us with no genuine Incarnation at all.”

    Actually, it does. It states that there are two distinct persons in the Incarnation — a “divine Person” and a “human person.” Thus, the “divine Person” never truly becomes human, but merely takes up residence in a human body — that is, co-exists side by side with the “human person” in the physical body of Jesus. Sorry, Sean, but that is not a genuine Incarnation. The biblical doctrine is that the eternal Word “became” a human being (John 1:14), not merely that He “indwelt” a human body.

    [Clark wrote] Jesus is here speaking as a man. An impersonal human “nature” cannot speak.

    Clark simply misunderstood the orthodox position. An impersonal human “nature” did not speak in Jesus. The personal quality is supplied to both the human and divine “natures” by the Second Person in the Incarnation. Thus, when the Second Person spoke according to His human nature, He spoke as a mutable man; when He spoke according to His divine nature, He spoke as the immutable God.

    So your position is that God the Second Person set aside his divine attributes, i.e., omniscience, immutability, etc.

    Once again, no, that is not my position. My position is the orthodox position. The Second Person did not “cease being God” or relinquish the “divine nature” in any way in the Incarnation. Rather, the Second Person of the Godhead assumed a “human nature” while retaining the “divine nature” — one Person with two distinct natures.

    Clark has not argued that the Incarnation was God in a body, or an impersonal human “nature,” but that Jesus was a real human person in every way like you and me except without sin as well as a wholly divine one.

    He has argued for two distinct “persons” in the Incarnation — a “divine Person” (possessing a “divine nature”) and a “human person” (possessing a “human nature”). Thus, according to Clark’s view, the Word never became a real “human” being in the Incarnation. The Word was and is only a “divine Person” — He is not “human” in any way. I’m not sure why you are unable to see this necessary implication of the two-person theory, but I don’t know how to explain it any clearer.

    [Robbins wrote] The Logos did not merely light the mind of Christ; the Logos Himself is fully in Christ.

    Not according to the two-person view He isn’t. The “divine Person” is never in the “human person” in any way. There is merely a “divine Person” and a “human person” mutually indwelling a physical human body — two distinct “persons” with one common physical “body.”

  353. Roger Mann Says:

    Calvin expresses the orthodox position quite well here. Notice that he isn’t saying anything that is essentially different from what I’ve been saying:

    This observation, if the readers apply it properly, will be of no small use in solving a vast number of difficulties. For it is strange how the ignorant, nay, some who are not altogether without learning, are perplexed by these modes of expression which they see applied to Christ, without being properly adapted either to his divinity or his humanity, not considering their accordance with the character in which he was manifested as God and man, and with his office of Mediator. It is very easy to see how beautifully they accord with each other, provided they have a sober interpreter, one who examines these great mysteries with the reverence which is meet. But there is nothing which furious and frantic spirits cannot throw into confusion. They fasten on the attributes of humanity to destroy his divinity; and, on the other hand, on those of his divinity to destroy his humanity: while those which, spoken conjointly of the two natures, apply to neither, they employ to destroy both. But what else is this than to contend that Christ is not man because he is God, not God because he is man, and neither God nor man because he is both at once. Christ, therefore, as God and man, possessing natures which are united, but not confused, we conclude that he is our Lord and the true Son of God, even according to his humanity, though not by means of his humanity. For we must put far from us the heresy of Nestorius, who, presuming to dissect rather than distinguish between the two natures, devised a double Christ. But we see the Scripture loudly protesting against this, when the name of the Son of God is given to him who is born of a Virgin, and the Virgin herself is called the mother of our Lord (Luke 1:32, 43). We must beware also of the insane fancy of Eutyches, lest, when we would demonstrate the unity of person, we destroy the two natures. The many passages we have already quoted, in which the divinity is distinguished from the humanity, and the many other passages existing throughout Scripture, may well stop the mouth of the most contentious. I will shortly add a few observations, which will still better dispose of this fiction. For the present, one passage will suffice—Christ would not have called his body a temple (John 2:19), had not the Godhead distinctly dwelt in it. Wherefore, as Nestorius had been justly condemned in the Council of Ephesus, so afterwards was Eutyches in those of Constantinople and Chalcedony, it being not more lawful to confound the two natures of Christ than to divide them

    Meanwhile, however, the definition of the Church stands unmoved, that he is accounted the Son of God, because the Word begotten by the Father before all ages assumed human nature by hypostatic union,—a term used by ancient writers to denote the union which of two natures constitutes one person, and invented to refute the dream of Nestorius, who pretended that the Son of God dwelt in the flesh in such a manner as not to be at the same time man. (Institutes 2.14.4-5)

  354. Sean Gerety Says:

    So however you solve the problem you can’t opt for either the oneness view that there is only one person in the Godhead, nor can you choose the option for three gods in the Godhead. Both are out. One divine nature or being and 3 subsistences or hypostases.

    Well, from what I can tell, only by positing a generic unity, as opposed to a numerical unity, can the contradictory nonsense of asserting, as Van Til does, that God is one person and three persons be avoided. Critics, of course, will claim that the “social trinitarian” solution which posits a common genus as the basis for the unity of the Godhead are really closet tritheists, but IMO there is really is nothing that can ever satisfy people like that. Van Til, James Anderson and their ilk who claim that God is one person will never be satisfied with anything other than a contradictory Trinity and an incoherent Incarnation to go along with their other contradictory and incoherent doctrines.

    No wonder Christianity is reviled as irrational and the Reformed faith remains in the backwaters of what passes for Evangelicalism. These phony defenders of the faith, pseudo-intellectuals, and self-styled “theologues” give Christ’s enemies more than enough ammunition. Frankly, for all his supposed quirkiness in defining person as a collection of thoughts, Clark’s solution to the problem of the Trinity and the Incarnation is so far superior to the nonsense that these (Neo)-neo-orthodox ersatz-Reformed frauds keep dishing out, that almost anything is preferable.

    For the record, I’m looking forward to reading both Morris and Swinburne as soon as I can get my hands on them.

  355. Sean Gerety Says:

    How does that even remotely imply that “the Second Person ceased being God” in the Incarnation? The Second Person of the Godhead assumed a human nature in the Incarnation;

    No, you said:

    “If God merely “takes up residence in a man” but does not “actually become a man,” then we are left with no genuine Incarnation”

    which would mean that, per you, the Logos actually became a man. However, to do that the Second Person would have to be divested of His deity since the characteristics that make a man a man cannot be simultaneously attributed to God.

    He didn’t “cease being God” or relinquish the “divine nature,” and I never hinted that He did.

    I think you did, which is why I was asking for clarification. I suspect Charlie thought you were going in this direction too, which is why he provided the appropriate cautions above. If he didn’t, his warnings were certainly warranted given some of your statements.

    The orthodox position is that the Second Person of the Godhead assumed a human nature while He retained the divine nature — one Person with two distinct natures.

    I realize that now, but you were saying something that appeared more radical. However, the question is what is a nature? If we agree that the Second Person in his “divine nature” is immutable and cannot die, who or what died on the cross? Does the orthodox position have an answer? From what I’ve always heard it was Christ “in his human nature” that suffered and died, grew in knowledge, thirsted, etc. But, unless you define what you mean by “nature,” you’re not really saying anything. Again, I’ll refer you to the Clark citations above.

    The “personal” quality common to both the divine and human natures is supplied by the Second Person of the Godhead. There is nothing confusing or contradictory about that; and it is has been the orthodox Christian doctrine for about two thousand years now.

    So, again, if the personal quality of Jesus as he hung on the cross and was forsaken by the Father was essentially, if I’m understanding you correctly, animated by the Second Person, then what you’re saying is that no real person died on that cross. Have I got it?

    However, and as Clark rightly points out, “human qualities cannot be attributes of God.”

    But who claimed that “human qualities” are attributes of God? I certainly haven’t. Again, the orthodox position is that the “divine qualities” are attributes of the divine nature, while the “human qualities” are attributes of the human nature.

    Yes, but a divine Person possess “divine qualities,” since there is no human person involved I want to know where these “human qualities” come from that we see so evident in the life of Christ? You don’t seem to have an answer and I’m quite convinced that the orthodox position doesn’t have one either or it would have been provided a long time ago and we wouldn’t be here 300 posts later playing theological ring-around-the-rosy.

    The Second Person of the Godhead equally shares both sets of “qualities” or “attributes” in the Incarnation — one Person with two distinct natures.

    Did a nature die on the cross and if so what is a nature and how can it satisfy God’s just wrath against sin? Again, you’re regurgitating some very orthodox sounding things (as opposed to your last post), but I still don’t see how you’re answering any of the objections raised?

    But, you are right and you have not adequately explained how the omniscient God grew in knowledge as a man. Yet, for some reason you don’t think this is required?

    It’s not required in order for the orthodox position to be true. Accurate biblical doctrines are true whether they can be fully explained or not.

    I didn’t ask you to fully explain anything. What I asked is how the Second Person could grow in knowledge? I would have thought that was a logical impossibility we both could agree on, but evidently not. Again, if the orthodox doctrine can’t answer this question, as you said yourself the creeds are there to explain the Scriptures, then what good is it?

    The Second Person did not grow in knowledge according to His divine nature, but He did grow in knowledge according to His human nature.

    Great, got it. But what does this mean? How does a human nature grow in knowledge? I thought human persons grew in knowledge, but evidently not.

    Again, there is nothing confusing or contradictory about that. The “personal” quality of the Second Person is not an essential aspect of the divine nature/attributes. That’s why the Second Person can equally share both the “divine nature” and “human nature” in the Incarnation — one Person with two distinct natures.

    But the Second Person is a person. A human nature, it would seem, and whatever that means, is not a person. It’s an it.

    Actually, it does. It states that there are two distinct persons in the Incarnation — a “divine Person” and a “human person.” Thus, the “divine Person” never truly becomes human, but merely takes up residence in a human body — that is, co-exists side by side with the “human person” in the physical body of Jesus. Sorry, Sean, but that is not a genuine Incarnation.

    No, it’s just not the Incarnation as you understand it, but from what I can tell your theory does not explain the biblical data and is in large part nonsense. And, since you’ve provided no definitions for the terms you use with seeming ease, you’ve really said precisely nothing. So, start by defining what you mean by “nature” and then explain how a human one of these can grow in knowledge, thirst, and die. Thanks in advance.

    Clark simply misunderstood the orthodox position. An impersonal human “nature” did not speak in Jesus. The personal quality is supplied to both the human and divine “natures” by the Second Person in the Incarnation.

    Nice try. I think Clark understood the orthodox position thoroughly.

    So, again, per you Jesus wasn’t really a man. He certainly wasn’t a real human person. The one the Scriptures calls “the man Jesus Christ” was really an impersonal nature animated by the Second Person so as to appear as if he was a real person who grew in knowledge, thirsted and died. Got it. Thanks for the clarification.

    Thus, when the Second Person spoke according to His human nature, He spoke as a mutable man;

    So the Second Person was play acting, manipulating this thing called a “human nature” like a person playing with a puppet. Have I got it?

  356. qeqesha Says:

    Charlie,
    Thanks for your comments. Well, being a person or individual is not what makes God, God! We have human persons and angels etc etc. As Sean has made a very good point, individual can refer to anything that is countable. Therefore, saying there are three individuals does not specify what sort of individuals they are. It can not be rashly concluded or inferred that three Gods have been implied. In this instance, it is persons that ‘individual’ refers to. Because ‘person’ is not what makes God, God, it is a false conclusion that tritheism is being asserted. I never asserted that the three persons are ‘independent’ or ‘seperate’! But they are certainly individuated, otherwise there is no Father, Son or Holy Spirit to talk about. And how can they be ‘distinct’ without being ‘distinct’ individuals?
    You might have lost your counting ability as there certainly are three of something in God. And how did you come to assert ‘three persons’ yourself, as your post shows? How do you count to three of anything, without ‘distinguishing’ three individual entities? Perhaps you prefer three ‘unspeakables’? From the thirty nine articles, I …. “And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Now Charlie, for you to say “Person is misleading” when it is used in a creed, zat iz veery, veery naughty! Taking after Clark, already, huh? In any case the bible does not use ‘substance’ or ‘subsistences’ etc etc all meaningless mumbo jumbo. It is words drawn from philosophy, again showing how difficult it is to avoid philosophizing in doing theology. And it is bad philosophy at that, in my opinion(You can tell those bishops at Chalcedon I said so!). The English, ‘Person’, must be considered an improvement, of course with appropriate definition, rather than Aristotelian doodle-do(I suspect).

    Denson


  357. Good quote from Calvin, Roger. Whether we call it hopelessly self-contradictory or too much an appeal to mystery, I prefer to stay with what the Reformers had to say–as imperfect as they were.

    Charlie


  358. Roger said:

    He has argued for two distinct “persons” in the Incarnation — a “divine Person” (possessing a “divine nature”) and a “human person” (possessing a “human nature”). Thus, according to Clark’s view, the Word never became a real “human” being in the Incarnation. The Word was and is only a “divine Person” — He is not “human” in any way. I’m not sure why you are unable to see this necessary implication of the two-person theory, but I don’t know how to explain it any clearer.

    My thoughts exactly, Roger. You’re doing an excellent job of presenting the “orthdox” position. By the way, simply because Calvin and the church fathers left some things unexplained or because they at times appealed to “mystery” does not make them Van Tillians. It is a simple acknowledgment that our knowledge is limited and not exhaustive or comprehensive or anywhere near omniscience.

    Charlie


  359. Denson, the language concerning the trinity is precise. The word “individual” is absolutely inappropriate for use in describing the trinity or tri-unity of God. There is one “individual” God with three subsistences or persons. Hypostases or personas are the terms used in the creeds. The Bible uses on the term “deity” in Colossians 2:9.

    When doing law you don’t assume the Bill of Rights and the Constitution are the same thing. They are not.

    An “individual” as commonly understood refers to a human being. Jesus is an “individual.” There is only one “individual” who is both God and man. His name is Jesus. Read the quote from Calvin again.

    There is only one individual, one person this person is both fully God and fully man at the same time. That’s Scripture. One mediator between God and man….

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to simply take the simple statements of Scripture as “propositional truth.”

    Charlie

    2 Timothy 3:15

  360. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie: “There is one “individual” God with three subsistences or persons. Hypostases or personas are the terms used in the creeds.”

    Charlie, are you paying attention or what? There is no “individual” God. Individuals implies there being more than instance of something. God is the only one of his kind. Thus he is not “An” individual by definition. But He is Three Individuals, because He
    is three Divine Persons; that is, because there is more than instance of a Divine Person, we can speak of individuals with reference to them. They are “individual” persons. BTW, you won’t find any creed that says God is one individual.

    Roger said:

    Thus, according to Clark’s view, the Word never became a real “human” being in the Incarnation. The Word was and is only a “divine Person” — He is not “human” in any way. I’m not sure why you are unable to see this necessary implication of the two-person theory, but I don’t know how to explain it any clearer.

    I don’t see the problem with this. The Reformed position has never been that the Logos became a human being. Rather, it has always been that the Logos took on human nature. The Logos is and will always be the Logos. He cannot change for he is divine. He cannot and did not cease being God. He didn’t become ignorant of some things. He didn’t die. Now if you want to say that the Logos through the incarnation died, then fine. But we are speaking now of the unit, the Logos and man; and again it is only with respect to the part of the unit which is man is this true.

  361. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie: “An “individual” as commonly understood refers to a human being. Jesus is an “individual.” There is only one “individual” who is both God and man. His name is Jesus. Read the quote from Calvin again. ”

    This isn’t even logically consistent. You say an individual is a human being. Then you say Jesus is one individual though he is not simply a human being. At best you are saying that Jesus is an individual human being who happens to be Divine also.

    Nor do I see Calvin saying that Jesus is an “individual.”


  362. God is not three “individuals”. That’s tri-theism. You might as well join up with the Mormons.

    He is one in divine nature and three in hypostases, subsistence, prosopon. The English word “person” is not accurate but it is the closest term we can get to what the original Greek says. It’s not the word “person” as in “individual.” You’re right, I should not have used the word “individual” of God at all since God is a “Spirit” and not an “individual.”

    Individual has connotations of separate persons as in a human being but God is not in that category at all.

    Roger Mann has a solid understanding of the theology of the trinity. Don’t know where he studied but this is the same view I got in both college and in seminary. And it is the view I ‘ve read in practically every systematic theology I’ve come across, including Robert Reymond.

  363. speigel Says:

    Another busy day, but I think Roger is very accurate as to his description of the two-person theory. Nor did I find Roger to espouse some kenotic theory of the Incarnation.

    @Sean:
    I think you will find Morris’ book worth your money. Swinburne, not so much. I find that his divided mind view explains less than Morris’ two-minds view. I also don’t think William Craig’s (and JP Moreland’s?) view is better than Morris’. I suggest that you also look to some of Eleonore Stump’s arguments for the coherence of the traditional orthodox view of the Incarnation. Though you, I, and everyone here may agree that her Thomism is lackluster.

  364. qeqesha Says:

    Charlie,
    Are you hard of hearing?
    lawyertheologian wrote,
    “The Reformed Creeds all confess God as three persons. Again, a hypostasis is a person.

    God being one does not necessitate one person or one individual, but simply one God. There is no other thing to describe God. He is simply one as to definition.

    Yes, there are three separate things to God. Again, these are referred to as persons or substances. God is three persons, because each individual person can think distinct thoughts.”

    Denson.

  365. qeqesha Says:

    Charlie,
    “Good quote from Calvin, Roger. Whether we call it hopelessly self-contradictory or too much an appeal to mystery, I prefer to stay with what the Reformers had to say–as imperfect as they were.”

    And I prefer fruit and vegetables!

    Denson

  366. qeqesha Says:

    Roger, Charlie and Speigel,
    “He has argued for two distinct “persons” in the Incarnation — a “divine Person” (possessing a “divine nature”) and a “human person” (possessing a “human nature”). Thus, according to Clark’s view, the Word never became a real “human” being in the Incarnation. The Word was and is only a “divine Person” — He is not “human” in any way. I’m not sure why you are unable to see this necessary implication of the two-person theory, but I don’t know how to explain it any clearer.”

    This criticism[of the two person theory] implies that when the Word became a man He ceased to be the Word! We should only talk about a man, after the Incarnation, because the Word has become a man. Then why did Jesus call Himself God?(“I AM”) He did not say “I am (now) only a man”. Scriptural data contains both divine and human discourses in the life of Jesus.
    “I AM”, “I am the truth”, “I and the Father are one” Who was saying these, a ‘nature’ and not the Son?
    And then, “the son of man”, “son of David”, “the man Christ Jesus”, “I sorrow even unto death”, “I thirst”, “The son of man does not know ….”, “Jesus grew in wisdom …” etc etc. Is this just a ‘nature’ and not a human person? That is, whatever the Incarnation is, the Word was unchanged(He was still God) together with being a man. It seems “becoming a man” causes unnecessary confusion. Perhaps “taking upon himself human nature” may be better? Clark has tried to apply rational massage to this charley horse between the ears and his suggestion is a two person theory. Whatever difficulties may attend to this theory, it simply does not seem to be what to me amounts to no more than mere howls of incoherent derision one sees here and elsewhere.

    Incidentally, the same procedure I outlined above is the same used to prove the three persons in the God head and one never hears all these incoherent noises and appeals to nonsense for authority being made!

    You boys are on the road to Shambala!

    Denson

  367. Sean Gerety Says:

    I think you will find Morris’ book worth your money. Swinburne, not so much. I find that his divided mind view explains less than Morris’ two-minds view. I also don’t think William Craig’s (and JP Moreland’s?) view is better than Morris’. I suggest that you also look to some of Eleonore Stump’s arguments for the coherence of the traditional orthodox view of the Incarnation. Though you, I, and everyone here may agree that her Thomism is lackluster.

    I’m more interested in Swinburne’s The Christian God since, at least per the Trinity, it seems he has a promising solution. But, I’ll start with Morris’ The Logic of God Incarnate since it seems Morris has the most promising solution to the Incarnation and might even have some relation to Clark’s theory. Hopefully at some point I’ll look into Stump too.

  368. Sean Gerety Says:

    God is not three “individuals”. That’s tri-theism. You might as well join up with the Mormons.

    There is one individual God who consists of three individual persons. I agree that any notion of tritheism must be avoided.

    However, back to the Incarnation, I was thinking on this more and do either you or Roger think it bizarre, or even a little weird, that neither of you can seem to say that Jesus was a real human person? And, if Jesus wasn’t a real human person how then could he be a real man?

    FWIW it seems to me that you two are the ones left without any real Incarnation.


  369. Lawyer, I don’t know why folks don’t use real names in here. R. Scott Clark does not allow folks to post unless they take responsibility for what they post on his blog.

    At any rate, human “being” and human “nature” are essentially the same thing. “Being”, “nature”, or “essence” are the same but synonymous. Jesus had a genuine human soul, which would be included in the human nature. That’s the “orthodox” position. As you can see your idea that there are two persons denies that Jesus is fully human with a real human nature or “being.” Jesus possesses a reasonable human soul and the Logos does not replace that soul and yet Jesus is the Logos as a “person.” There is only one person in the Incarnation and that “person” is Jesus Christ the God/Man.

    Theanthropos.

    Charlie


  370. Sean, regarding the Incarnation, Jesus is a unique human in several ways. Yes, He is fully human. But you seem to be saying that He cannot be BOTH GOD AND HUMAN. That is what SCRIPTURE SAYS. Are we God? NO! Is Jesus God? YES! Is Jesus human? YES!

    What you are implying is that Jesus is not equally God because it does not fit your rational proofs so you can appear to not be paradoxical or irrational. The fact is Jesus is not like other humans in several ways.

    1) He was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:27, 34-35).

    2) Jesus was absolutely sinless. (John 8:7, 34-36, 46-47; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). [Unless you’re going to agree with the Arminians and Amyraldians and say that Jesus could “possibly” sin or unless you’re willing to concede with the Arminians that sin is merely a “violation of a known moral law”, which would mean that you’re lowering the bar or standard of God’s law and God’s holiness. (Isaiah 6:1-7)]

    3) Jesus performed miracles by His own authority and not by a derived authority from God. (John 2:1-11; 5:46-54; Luke 5:1-11; and many others).

    4) Jesus raised Himself from the dead. (John 2:19-22; Mark 14:58).

    I could go on. But you have read the systematic theologies and dogmatic theologies. The short answer is you are implying that Jesus is somehow less than God because absolute deity and absolute humanity are incompatible. So your solution is to deny mystery, paradox and irrationality at all cost–even the cost of an orthodox and biblical teaching on the complete deity of Christ.

    Sorry but any solution that does not do honor to BOTH the complete human nature/being of Christ AND His complete and full divine nature/being is unacceptable. Is Jesus God? YES. Do we worship Him as God? YES! (John 20:28-29).

    Is Jesus fully human? YES! No one has a problem with that one. Even the liberals can accept that Jesus was a real human being, a wise teacher, a wise man. No one has a problem saying that Jesus grew up, that He learned just as we do, that He was tempted like we are, etc.

    Your problem, Sean, is that you cannot accept the plain teaching of Holy Scripture that Jesus IS GOD IN THE FLESH. GOD! OK, I’m preaching now. But His name will be “mighty God” and “everlasting Father” and “Emmanuel, God with us”. (Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23). In the words of a redneck thelogian: “Either He is o’ He ain’t.” Which is it? Any solution you offer cannot deny His full divinity/deity. (Colossians 2:9).

    My professors in college tried to convince me that folks do not have a problem accepting Jesus’ full deity, rather they have a problem accepting His humanity. Sorry, but I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now. It seems to me just from this entire conversation that Clarkians are like everyone else. They have no problem accepting Jesus as a “human person” or an “individual human being” because that is easily rational and understandable through reason. But the idea that Jesus is one Person who is both human (with a reasonable soul) AND the Logos (with the full deity and personality of the 2nd person of the Godhead) is “irrational” or “paradoxical” in your opinion so you would rather opt for some other view that essentially denies His deity.

    I am not a Van Tillian. I am not irrational. I do not appeal to mystery or paradox. However, I do appeal to Scripture first and to the Reformers and the creeds/confessions secondarily. And I stand with Scripture in affirming without obfuscation, equivocation, or compromise that Jesus IS God AND man at the same time and in the SAME person. Anything less would make Him less than human and less than God. He is either BOTH God AND Man OR the Bible is just plain wrong.

    I’m an ant. I am not omniscient. But I will accept Scripture over against Clark or anyone else any day of the week.

    Charlie


  371. It seems to me that inherent in this conversation is the issue of Apollinarianism. Did Jesus have a reasonable human soul? Yes. The Logos does not “replace” Jesus’ human soul so that He is less than human. But the Logos “becomes” a “human soul.” That’s how Apollinarianism is avoided.

    Charlie

  372. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie,

    Are you losing your mind? I’ve posted here many times in the past, sometimes using my first name as my handle. I’ve also given my blog link which has a brief biography of me. I absolutely have no problem standing up for what I say to anybody. I’m not hiding from anyone.

    “At any rate, human “being” and human “nature” are essentially the same thing.”

    No, that’s not so. A man IS a human being. But a man HAS a human nature.

    “Being”, “nature”, or “essence” are the same but synonymous.

    Again, that does not appear to be so. You need to prove such assertions, not just assume them that such is self evident.

    “Jesus had a genuine human soul, which would be included in the human nature.”

    Define human soul. Jesus had a human mind/spirit.

    “As you can see your idea that there are two persons denies that Jesus is fully human with a real human nature or “being.”

    Just the opposite is so. To assert that Jesus is a human person (as well as a Divine Person) is to assert that he was a man, a human being.

    “There is only one person in the Incarnation and that “person” is Jesus Christ the God/Man.”

    You need to define “person.” Otherwise we cannot know what you mean by Jesus being only one person.


  373. Denson, you seem to prefer Nestorian fruits and vegetables.


  374. Yes, there are three separate things to God. Again, these are referred to as persons or substances. God is three persons, because each individual person can think distinct thoughts.”

    Denson.

    Denson, here is where your lack of theological training betrays ignorance and lack of precision. God cannot be “separated” in to “parts”. God is ONE and God is a spirit, not “separate” individuals (Deuteronomy 6:4; John 4:24). There is one divine nature (Colossians 2:9).

    Charlie


  375. Denson, define Nestorianism and Apollinarianism for me.


  376. Denson, the word “being” implies nature or essence. A human being is also a human “nature.” This is just an indication of the limits of grammar and syntax. A human being is a human nature and it is also correct to say that a human nature has a human being. Human nature IS human being. Or, to put it another way, human being IS a human nature.

    “A” human being has a human nature AND a human being IS a human nature.

    Jesus is a human being. Jesus is a human nature. Jesus has a human nature. And Jesus is at one and the same time a divine being and a divine nature. He IS the same individual and He IS God/Man at one and the same time. To postulate that Jesus is two persons is nonsense and irrational. Would anyone looking at Jesus in Biblical times see Him as 2 persons? I think not.

    No, the Bible sees Jesus as one individual, one person, one human being AND one God hidden in human flesh. As I said, the two persons theory denies the full deity of Christ incarnate in human flesh. It can only be described as Nestorianism. Great option to solve the mystery. Yessir. Just re-invent an ancient heresy and WALLAH! No more irrationalism. No, all you have now is nothing new under the sun: Nestorianism.

    Charlie


  377. In Clark’s favor, however, he does avoid the monothelite or “one will” heresy. How do we explain the fact that Christ has both a human will AND a divine will in one Person? We can avoid Apollinarianism by saying that the Logos assumes a human soul into the divine nature and person. But then how do we differentiate between the two wills? Do they not for all practical purposes become one will?

    Charlie


  378. J.P. Moreland: “It is extraordinarily difficult to preserve the unity of Christ’s person once distinct wills are ascribed to the Logos and the human nature of Christ.” Cited from the link to Apollinarian discussion.

    Seems that Clark avoids Apollinarianism but does he avoid Nestorianism? I haven’t read his book yet. Lets see?

  379. Sean Gerety Says:

    Charlie, in an effort to keep the heat down but increase the light, will you please define Nestorianism for me?

    The reason I ask is that Clark claims to have avoided this charge simply because he defines “person.” FWIW, James Anderson, who is about the most hostile critic of Clark you will find, writes:

    I concur with Clark that it wouldn’t be fair to charge him with the heresy of Nestorianism, since Nestorius clearly didn’t employ anything like Clark’s definition of ‘person’. (Who does?)

    Well, the fact that most don’t accept Clark’s definition is irrelevant. Clark admits that many theologians will think his definition is “queer” (Anderson calls it “quirky”), but his definition is not something he came up with when writing his monograph on the Incarnation, rather he has always argued that a person is a collection of propositions. Virtually his entire career he was attacked with the same tired objection, “Then is your wife a set of propositions?” To which he answered not only in the affirmative (he makes a wonderful joke on this point in the Incarnation), but stresses that he too is a set of propositions. And, elsewhere I recall him telling a critic, I think in the Q&A at the end of one of his lectures, that he thanks the Lord that his wife was such an agreeable set of propositions.


  380. “In any case, dyothelitism [two wills] does not entail Nestorianism.” Oliver Crisp. So the question for me is how does Clark handle this? Does he maintain two wills without committing the error of two persons or Nestorianism?

  381. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, regarding the Incarnation, Jesus is a unique human in several ways. Yes, He is fully human. But you seem to be saying that He cannot be BOTH GOD AND HUMAN. That is what SCRIPTURE SAYS. Are we God? NO! Is Jesus God? YES! Is Jesus human? YES!

    I’ll ask again since you and Roger just keep avoiding the elephant sitting in the middle of the room: was Jesus of Nazareth a human person?

    You can say that Jesus was “fully human,” but isn’t someone who is fully human a human person?

    What you are implying is that Jesus is not equally God because it does not fit your rational proofs so you can appear to not be paradoxical or irrational. The fact is Jesus is not like other humans in several ways.

    You’re wrong Charlie, I’m not implying or suggesting anything of the sort. Jesus was and is fully God. Jesus, unlike any man in history can say I and the Father are one. Jesus alone can say I am the way the truth and the life. So, do me a favor and take that tired canard of yours that I’m somehow denying Jesus’ divinity and put it to rest already. It really is tiresome and a patently dishonest charge.

    The question here is not concerning Jesus’ divinity, but rather how can Jesus be a man, be fully human as you say, but not be a human person? And, yes, I believe that the God of Scripture is a rational God who has revealed Himself in such a way that his rational creatures, through the work and illumination of God the Holy Spirit, might come to understand and believe the truth. Doctrines that end in logical paradoxes should function as an indicator for all those who love the truth that more work needs to be done. No contradiction is of the truth. However, if you want to remain in the darkness of antinomies and ignorance while pretending to be a paragon of piety you’ll have plenty of company.

    Sorry but any solution that does not do honor to BOTH the complete human nature/being of Christ AND His complete and full divine nature/being is unacceptable

    .

    I agree. However, how can Jesus be a “complete human nature/being” without also being a a real human person who grew in wisdom, suffered, and died is something you just refuse to address. To me this is just bizarre.

    The way out, IMO, is to define what is meant by “person,” and I think drawing from Scripture Clark’s definition serves to explain how Jesus could be fully human and fully God without confusing the two. The traditional formulation which you simply and unthinkingly regurgitate, explains nothing simply because it defines nothing. It doesn’t define person, nature, substance, anything. These key terms are just left hanging there and are repeated as if some meaning were attached to them, when in reality there isn’t any. The emperor has no clothes and evidently it took the brilliant mind of Gordon Clark to point that out. For that I’m thankful.

  382. speigel Says:

    @Sean,
    If I remember correctly, Roger expressly agreed with me that Jesus is a human person. Roger, however, disagrees that this human person was a separate person from the divine person. I believe Roger would say that the human person is the one and the same person as the divine person. An example, a poor one I know, is that there is a tall person and there is a fat person. Yet nothing precludes us from saying that the tall person is the same person as the fat person. So we have a tall, fat person.

    I believe that you think that to agree that Jesus was a human person would mean that he must be a separate person from the divine person. I (and I think Roger) would disagree with this. I also believe this would be Crampton’s view from my emails with him.

    I believe you think that by stating that the human person and the divine person are the same, single, person we then have a problem with how certain things said of Jesus can be compatible with what we know about the divine person. This is the second issue of how the incarnation works that should be addressed and I think Roger has answered it in several manners. For one, we don’t need to know exactly and completely how the incarnation (as we understand it) works to determine whether or not our view is true. That would be the first issue.

    Roger seems to be addressing the first issue – whether there was an incarnation at all. It seems to me that your view necessarily precludes that there was an incarnation because the two natures are incompatible. I believe Morris deals with this with his discussion on natures.

    There also seems to be internal inconsistency between those who hold to a two-person view. It seems to me that some say that one cannot talk about natures without talking about persons, while others say one can talk about natures without talking about persons. I am still unsure as to what kind of unity there is between the two persons. Is it in persons, definition, will, purpose, etc.?

    //

    Sorry if the questions have been answered, but I haven’t been following as closely these last couple of days because of my schedule.

  383. Sean Gerety Says:

    If I remember correctly, Roger expressly agreed with me that Jesus is a human person. Roger, however, disagrees that this human person was a separate person from the divine person. I believe Roger would say that the human person is the one and the same person as the divine person.

    You’re probably right, I guess I was stumbling on its obvious incoherence. It was just odd to me that human person seemed to be nowhere to be found, but perhaps it was shoved in there somewhere without any explanation how human person can also be a divine person.

    An example, a poor one I know, is that there is a tall person and there is a fat person. Yet nothing precludes us from saying that the tall person is the same person as the fat person.

    It is a poor example, because I think a better one would be there is a fat person and thin person and they’re both the same person. Simultaneously being tall and short would also work. 😎

    I believe that you think that to agree that Jesus was a human person would mean that he must be a separate person from the divine person. I (and I think Roger) would disagree with this. I also believe this would be Crampton’s view from my emails with him.

    Yes, that’s correct. I don’t see how one person can be both tall and short at the same time.

    I believe you think that by stating that the human person and the divine person are the same, single, person we then have a problem with how certain things said of Jesus can be compatible with what we know about the divine person.

    Yes. I think it comes down to how do you define person. Of course, none has been forthcoming so I don’t know? Anderson admittedly defines a person, but I think it simply presupposes Clark’s definition which is much more streamline without all the clanking machinery. Also, I’m interested to find out what the definition of mind is so that one person (also properly defined) could be said to have two of them so we’re not back to saying one person is tall/short and fat/skinny.

    This is the second issue of how the incarnation works that should be addressed and I think Roger has answered it in several manners.

    Really, where? Where does he define person?

    For one, we don’t need to know exactly and completely how the incarnation (as we understand it) works to determine whether or not our view is true. That would be the first issue.

    Roger seems to be addressing the first issue – whether there was an incarnation at all. It seems to me that your view necessarily precludes that there was an incarnation because the two natures are incompatible. I believe Morris deals with this with his discussion on natures.

    Great, I hope Morris at least defines natures. That will be an improvement over the current discussion.

    There also seems to be internal inconsistency between those who hold to a two-person view. It seems to me that some say that one cannot talk about natures without talking about persons, while others say one can talk about natures without talking about persons. I am still unsure as to what kind of unity there is between the two persons. Is it in persons, definition, will, purpose, etc.?

    The unity is propositional in the same way the persons of the Trinity are united. In the Trinity the persons think the same thoughts objectively, but subjectively only the Second Person can say I took on flesh, etc. What’s true of the one person is true of the others. Only in the Incarnation there is a near, as opposed to a complete, interpenetration of propositions, save some specific propositions that are reserved by the Father such as the time and date of Jesus’ return. I would hope we would all at least all agree that the Logos knows when Jesus will return, yes?

    I have to think Morris has something similar in that the content of Jesus’ human and divine minds overlap save certain pieces of information to account for Jesus’ ignorance in some areas. I also have to think the way in which the human mind thinks as it interacts with the divine mind (which obviously doesn’t think in succession) plays a role in his theory. Again, I wouldn’t think (without reading Morris of course) that this would be too far removed from Clark’s two-person theory, but I’m just guessing.

    Sorry if the questions have been answered, but I haven’t been following as closely these last couple of days because of my schedule.

    That’s OK, and I completely understand. I’m just glad we’re not nipping at each other. 🙂

  384. speigel Says:

    @Sean:
    One quick comment. If you’re talking about Mark 13:32 it seems to me that you are reading it such that even the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son knows the time of his return. But the verse says no one knows when the time of the return – not the angels, not even the Son, only the Father. So apparently, not even the Logos knows.

    I wonder how you interpret Mark 13:32 for even under the two person view, not even the Logos knows. I can see one trying to argue that “the Son” means Jesus, the human person alone (under the two-person view). However, the “only” in “only the Father knows” seems to also preclude God the Son from knowing. Of course, like Roger, I don’t think we need to fully exhaust the explanation of this verse in order to vindicate the coherence of the traditional orthodox understanding of the Incarnation. But I do wonder how you and other two-person theorists explain this verse.

  385. speigel Says:

    I meant to say “vindicate the truth of the traditional orthodox understanding of the Incarnation.”

    Yes, no nipping is fine by me.

  386. Cliffton Says:

    Sean writes: I would hope we would all at least all agree that the Logos knows when Jesus will return, yes?

    Cliffton: If you don’t mind me answering a question with two questions-

    1. Is only God omniscient?

    2. Is the definition of God and the definition of the Logos identical?

    Keep in mind, Clark has stated that the Son does not possess the predicate “eternal” because He is the Son, but because He is Deity.

  387. qeqesha Says:

    Charlie,
    “Denson, you seem to prefer Nestorian fruits and vegetables.”
    I was talking about ordinary fruits and vegetables. They are a far superior diet to nonsense and muddleheadedness which you say you prefer.

    Denson

  388. qeqesha Says:

    Charlie,
    “Denson, here is where your lack of theological training betrays ignorance and lack of precision. God cannot be “separated” in to “parts”. God is ONE and God is a spirit, not “separate” individuals (Deuteronomy 6:4; John 4:24). There is one divine nature (Colossians 2:9).”

    This is where your inability to think, muddleheadedness, dishonesty, lack of integrity and seminary nonsense sparkles! Who separated God? One distinguishes, the persons in the Godhead not separate them, you retard! How do you yourself talk about three persons in the Godhead without distinguishing them?

    Denson

  389. qeqesha Says:

    Charlie,
    “Denson, define Nestorianism and Apollinarianism for me.”
    I suppose this is meant as an insult? I honestly do not see any need to. Because your bubble has been burst, you now lash out with accusations of every heresy your little mind can recall! You are pathetic! What I see in you is a typical muddleheaded, hard of hearing slow wit who thinks their dumb ass foot stomping and self righteous gorrila-in-the-mist chest drumming is debate!

    Could you be so kind as to define for me theotokos? Is your position on the Incarnation not ‘Mary, God’s mother’?

    Denson

  390. speigel Says:

    @Sean:
    I wonder if some of what Denson writes can be censored or toned down.

  391. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m not going to censor anyone, although if we all can’t keep the discussion as dispassionate as possible, and that goes for me too, I’m going to shut the thread down.

  392. Sean Gerety Says:

    One quick comment. If you’re talking about Mark 13:32 it seems to me that you are reading it such that even the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son knows the time of his return. But the verse says no one knows when the time of the return – not the angels, not even the Son, only the Father. So apparently, not even the Logos knows.

    Well, if that’s how you understand the verse, then I would think you would have an even graver issue because then the Second Person would no longer be omniscient and, hence, no longer God.

    I wonder how you interpret Mark 13:32 for even under the two person view, not even the Logos knows.

    I would interpret the verse basically as it has traditionally been interpreted. For example, Gill argues:

    And though he is said (Mark 13:32) not to know the day and hour of judgment; yet, that is to be understood of him, not as God, but as man. Omnipotence is another perfection essential to God, and may be truly predicated of Jesus Christ, who is (Revelation 1:8) the Almighty.

    Notice, the verse is to be understood of Jesus not as God, but as a man. So, I hardly see why that would case any difficulty for a two-person view. Same with the idea of the Jesus being forsaken on the cross (see Clark above).

    I can see one trying to argue that “the Son” means Jesus, the human person alone (under the two-person view). However, the “only” in “only the Father knows” seems to also preclude God the Son from knowing.

    Even if you were to say Jesus was speaking in his “human nature,” it is impossible for the Second Person not to know all things, so unless you want to compromise Christ’s divinity and lose God in the process, the only way to read the verse is that the Son means either the “human person” or the “human nature.” I think person has the edge simply because Clark has defined the word and persons can be ignorant, natures, so far as I can tell, cannot know or not know anything.

    Hope that helps.

  393. speigel Says:

    @Sean:
    From reading the little of Gill, he seems to use the reduplication method to interpret the verse: Christ as man doesn’t know yet Christ as God does know. Gill presumes a one-person view in using this method. So Gill would affirm that person through his divine natures the date of the return, but the person through his human nature does not.

    I am still unsure how the two-person view deals with this verse as reduplication does not seem to be an option for the two-person theorist as there is nothing to reduplicate with identity since there are two persons. According to you, the two-person view upholds that the divine person, God the Son, does know when the return will take place. But how does he uphold this in llight of Mark 13:32 where it says “only the Father knows.”

  394. speigel Says:

    I meant to say “that the person through his divine nature knows the date of the return, but the person through his human nature does not.”

  395. qeqesha Says:

    Speigel,
    “I wonder if some of what Denson writes can be censored or toned down.”
    I will happily tone down if you can ask Charlie to reign in his wild imagination and stop recklessly throwing around heresy confetti.

    Denson

  396. Sean Gerety Says:

    Denson, you have to realize that what Clark was arguing was a departure from the historic orthodox position concerning the Incarnation. Even his jettisoning the idea of substance per the Trinity was a departure. I can certainly understand the fear and trepidation. I’m not even 100% convinced Clark was right, but I am certain he was on the right track and that the historic creeds are not, nor can they be, the last word.

  397. qeqesha Says:

    Sean,
    Since the creeds themselves say councils can err and have erred, Clark’s dealings with the creeds is consistent with the creeds and hence he is not heterodox. One ought, with their fear and trepidation, consider that it remains a possibility that they may be asked to make some adjustments to long cherished positions, for the simple reason that these are not inspired documents!

    Denson

  398. Roger Mann Says:

    Sean wrote,

    No, you said:

    “If God merely “takes up residence in a man” but does not “actually become a man,” then we are left with no genuine Incarnation”

    which would mean that, per you, the Logos actually became a man.

    No, not per me, but per Scripture:

    “And the Word [Logos] became flesh [i.e., a man or human being]” (John 1:14).

    “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh…” (1 Timothy 3:16)

    “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same…” (Hebrews 2:14)

    The Logos/God “became flesh” by assuming a “human nature” while retaining the “divine nature” — one Person with two distinct natures. That is what Scripture plainly teaches. That is what Christians have always believed and maintained. If you don’t believe that “the Logos actually became a man” you are not a Christian; you are a heretic.

    However, to do that the Second Person would have to be divested of His deity since the characteristics that make a man a man cannot be simultaneously attributed to God.

    You either don’t understand the orthodox doctrine of the Incarnation, or you are simply not thinking clearly. The “characteristics that make a man” (i.e., the “human nature”) are not attributed to the “characteristics that make God” (i.e., the “divine nature”) in the orthodox teaching. In the Incarnation, the divine nature and human nature remain distinct, without confusion and without change, the property of each nature being preserved and concurring in the one Person (i.e., the Logos).

    If we agree that the Second Person in his “divine nature” is immutable and cannot die, who or what died on the cross?

    The Second Person in unity with His assumed “human nature” died on the cross. Of course, you reject this, for you deny that the Second Person or Logos ever became a man. According to your heretical two-person theory, the “divine Person” is never united with the “human person” in any way. There is merely a “divine Person” and a “human person” mutually indwelling a physical human body — two distinct “persons” with one common physical “body.” Thus, only a “human person” was crucified and died on the cross, in direct opposition to Scripture:

    “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

    “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8)

    And, as John Gill rightly points out, if only a “human person” died on the cross, we have no redemption, no hope, and no salvation:

    2d1c. [I]f the two natures in Christ were two distinct separate persons, the works and actions done in each nature could not be said of the same Person; the righteousness wrought out by Christ in the human nature, could not be called the righteousness of God: nor the blood shed in the human nature the blood of the Son of God; nor God be said to purchase the church with his blood; nor the Lord of life and glory to be crucified; nor the Son of man to be in heaven, when he was here on earth: all which phrases can only be accounted for, upon the footing of the personal union of the human nature to the Son of God, and his having but one Person; of which these various things are predicated. Besides, if the human nature of Christ was a person of itself, what it did and suffered could have been of no avail, nor of any benefit to any other but itself; the salvation wrought out in it, and by it, would not have been the common salvation, or common to elect men; but peculiar to that individual human person; and the righteousness he is the author of, he would only have had the benefit of it, being justified by it, and accepted with God in it; whereas, it being wrought out in the human nature, as in personal union with the Son of God, this gives it an enlarged virtue, and spread; and so it comes to be “unto all, and upon all them that believe.” (A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, 5.1.2)

    So, again, if the personal quality of Jesus as he hung on the cross and was forsaken by the Father was essentially, if I’m understanding you correctly, animated by the Second Person, then what you’re saying is that no real person died on that cross. Have I got it?

    No, the Second Person in unity with His assumed “human nature” died on the cross, as I demonstrated above. The Logos is a “real” Person — divine in accordance with His “divine nature” and human in accordance with His “human nature.” To quote Gill once again:

    To which may be added, that the human soul of Christ is a part of the human nature assumed by him; it is included in the word “flesh”, the Word, or Son of God, is said to be made, as will be shown presently; it is a part of that nature of the seed of Abraham, in distinction from the nature of angels, which the Word, or Son of God, a divine Person, took upon him, and into union with him…(see Heb. 2:14,16). (A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, 5.1.1)

    Yes, but a divine Person possess “divine qualities,” since there is no human person involved I want to know where these “human qualities” come from that we see so evident in the life of Christ? You don’t seem to have an answer and I’m quite convinced that the orthodox position doesn’t have one either or it would have been provided a long time ago and we wouldn’t be here 300 posts later playing theological ring-around-the-rosy.

    The reason we’re playing “theological ring-around-the-rosy” is because you consistently confuse the category of “person” with “qualities” (i.e., “nature” or “attributes”), as if they are the same thing. They are not. A “person” is a self-conscious substantive entity while a “nature” is a complex of attributes. In other words, a “person” is a principle in its own right, not to be deduced from the “nature.” So the “human qualities” so evident in the life of Christ come from the Second Person’s “human nature,” as I’ve made clear over and over now. Robert Reymond makes this quite clear:

    While it is true that the Definition [of Chalcedon] denies that the Son of God, already a person within the Trinity, took into union with himself a human person, insisting rather that he took into union with himself a full complex of human attributes (the doctrine known as the anhypostasia, literally, “no person”), these fathers would never for a moment have thought of Jesus, as a man, as being an impersonal human being. Jesus was personal, as a man, by virtue of the union of his manness in the person of the Son. In other words, as a person, the Son of God gave personal identity to the human nature which he had assumed without losing or compromising his divine nature. Never for a moment did the man Jesus exist apart from the union of natures in the one divine person, but then this means as well that the man Jesus from the moment of conception was personal by virtue of the union of the human nature in the divine Son. (Systematic Theology, p. 610)

    There is nothing confusing, contradictory, or nonsensical about any of this. The only thing that is nonsensical is your heretical fantasy that only a “human person” was crucified and died on the cross, when Scripture plainly states that the “Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8) was crucified on the cross!

    Did a nature die on the cross and if so what is a nature and how can it satisfy God’s just wrath against sin?

    If the Second Person of the Godhead equally shares both sets of “qualities” or “attributes” in the Incarnation (i.e., the “divine nature” and “human nature”), then obviously it wasn’t merely a bare “nature” that died on the cross. How many times does this need to be pointed out?

    I didn’t ask you to fully explain anything. What I asked is how the Second Person could grow in knowledge? I would have thought that was a logical impossibility we both could agree on, but evidently not.

    I’ve already answered that question in plain, easy to understand language. You simply refuse to listen or carefully think through my answer, as is evident by your next question.

    Great, got it. But what does this mean? How does a human nature grow in knowledge? I thought human persons grew in knowledge, but evidently not.

    Here’s my answer once again: “The Second Person did not grow in knowledge according to His divine nature, but He did grow in knowledge according to His human nature.” How is that difficult to understand? I never said that a bare “human nature” grew in knowledge; I said that the Second Person grew in knowledge according to His human nature. To be more precise, it was the rational, human soul of Jesus, which derived its personality from the Second Person, that grew in knowledge. “This means that all of the human qualities and powers were present in Jesus, but that the ego, the self-conscious acting subject, was in fact a composite union of the human and the divine” (Wells, Person of Christ, p.108).

    But the Second Person is a person. A human nature, it would seem, and whatever that means, is not a person. It’s an it.

    Yes, the Second Person is a person — and that applies equally to His relationship with the “divine nature” and assumed “human nature.” I’ll re-quote Gill, as you obviously are having trouble grasping this point:

    To which may be added, that the human soul of Christ is a part of the human nature assumed by him; it is included in the word “flesh”, the Word, or Son of God, is said to be made, as will be shown presently; it is a part of that nature of the seed of Abraham, in distinction from the nature of angels, which the Word, or Son of God, a divine Person, took upon him, and into union with him…(see Heb. 2:14,16). (A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, 5.1.1)

    No, it’s just not the Incarnation as you understand it, but from what I can tell your theory does not explain the biblical data and is in large part nonsense.

    The two-person fantasy is not an Incarnation period. The Logos never “becomes flesh” or assumes a “human nature” in any sense whatsoever. In other words, the “divine Person” never truly becomes human, but merely takes up residence in the shell of a human body — that is, co-exists side by side with the “human person” in the physical body of Jesus. That is not an Incarnation; that is heresy plain and simple.

    So, again, per you Jesus wasn’t really a man. He certainly wasn’t a real human person. The one the Scriptures calls “the man Jesus Christ” was really an impersonal nature animated by the Second Person so as to appear as if he was a real person who grew in knowledge, thirsted and died. Got it. Thanks for the clarification.

    Yes, Jesus was a real man, with a rational human soul, which derived its personality from the Second Person of the Godhead. “This means that all of the human qualities and powers were present in Jesus, but that the ego, the self-conscious acting subject, was in fact a composite union of the human and the divine” (Wells, Person of Christ, p.108). But, since you blatantly reject that, you have demonstrated yourself to be a heretic who denies the Incarnation. Got it. Thanks for the clarification.

    So the Second Person was play acting, manipulating this thing called a “human nature” like a person playing with a puppet. Have I got it?

    No, all you have is a ridiculous, distorted caricature of the orthodox doctrine of the Incarnation. It reminds me of the Mormon, who after I explained the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, replied: “So, you believe in a three-headed monster God, is that right?” Yeah, sure, that’s right! You got it!

  399. qeqesha Says:

    Sean,
    I meant ” … he is not heterodox for merely querying some cherished positions.” Even if one may dissagree with Clark, I consider his position a great improvement over meaningless or undefined terms.

    Denson

  400. lawyertheologian Says:

    Sean writes: I would hope we would all at least all agree that the Logos knows when Jesus will return, yes?

    Cliffton: If you don’t mind me answering a question with two questions-

    1. Is only God omniscient?

    2. Is the definition of God and the definition of the Logos identical?

    Keep in mind, Clark has stated that the Son does not possess the predicate “eternal” because He is the Son, but because He is Deity.

    1) yes.

    2)No.

    But each Person of the Trinity is omniscient. They all know when Christ shall return. But only the Logos knows/thinks “I shall return on such and such a day.” BTW, being eternal and being Deity are both true predicates of the Son, that is , the Logos. But the Logos is not the Logos because he is either. He is the Logos because He thinks certain propositions distinctly from the Father and the Spirit.

  401. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Yes, Jesus was a real man, with a rational human soul, which derived its personality from the Second Person of the Godhead. “This means that all of the human qualities and powers were present in Jesus, but that the ego, the self-conscious acting subject, was in fact a composite union of the human and the divine” (Wells, Person of Christ, p.108). ”

    I’m surprised people don’t see how ridiculous this is. What the heck is a person that is not an ego, that is , the thinking self? Was not the Logos an ego, a self-conscious acting subject before He became incarnated? And how do you combine a person with a nature and get an ego?

  402. Sean Gerety Says:

    Since the creeds themselves say councils can err and have erred, Clark’s dealings with the creeds is consistent with the creeds and hence he is not heterodox. One ought, with their fear and trepidation, consider that it remains a possibility that they may be asked to make some adjustments to long cherished positions, for the simple reason that these are not inspired documents!

    Spoken like a real Protestant. 🙂

    Of course, there are dangers and I don’t want to diminish the historic controversies and battles. The main battle early on was the deity of Christ. IMO Christ’s humanity has been lost as a result. Of course, the history leading up to Chalcedon is, well, checkered. As the lone reviewer of Nestorious’ The Bazaar of Heracleides said on Amazon:

    “…one gets the feeling that this is a desperately sincere Christian debating a devious and ambiguous Cyril.”

    From what I’ve read of Cyril I think he should have left off “ambiguous.”

    That said, one must at all times maintain the full divinity of Christ as well as his humanity. IMO, and this discussion has confirmed (in my mind at least) that both have suffered at the hand of the devious Cyril.

    And, to Roger, I’m done. You’re post above is the last word. We don’t agree, but that’s OK. FWIW you do have the orthodox doctrine and it is so painfully incoherent and contradictory that I think you’d really appreciate James Anderson’s work in this regard. That’s not meant as a slight, but you simply have confirmed everything Anderson says concerning the orthodox position.


  403. Spiegal, I think Mark 13:32 refers the incarnate Son and not simply the bare Logos. Jesus the Son of God incarnate has laid aside voluntarily the free exercise of the incommunicable attributes of deity, not the attributes themselves.

  404. speigel Says:

    @Roger:
    How is Wells’ book? I’ve been trying to get a copy of it. Please let me know!


  405. Sean said:

    The unity is propositional in the same way the persons of the Trinity are united. In the Trinity the persons think the same thoughts objectively, but subjectively only the Second Person can say I took on flesh, etc. What’s true of the one person is true of the others. Only in the Incarnation there is a near, as opposed to a complete, interpenetration of propositions, save some specific propositions that are reserved by the Father such as the time and date of Jesus’ return. I would hope we would all at least all agree that the Logos knows when Jesus will return, yes?

    The analogy of the three persons of the Godhead and the interaction between two persons in Christ fails. First of all, the three persons in the Godhead are all equally God. So if there is a human person united with the Second Person of the Godhead, then the other two Persons are NOT united with the the human person but only the Son of God, the Second Person. So the allegedly analogy of interaction fails because the Incarnation involves a creature that is NOT divine in the human nature. To separate the two natures (divine and human) into two separate Persons (one a divine person and the other a divine person) is Nestorianism no matter how you redefine “person.”

    The analogy of tall and short does not work either because those are physical attributes, not spiritual attributes of an invisible, intangible spirit. God is a spirit, not a created thing or a physical entity. That would be Mormonism.

    Apollinarianism erred by saying that Jesus did not have a genuine human soul but that the soul was replaced by the Logos. Nestorianism erred by saying that Christ is two person, one divine and one human, both occupying the same body. The monophysite error is that the two natures are confused into one nature such that the human nature is absorbed into the divine nature.

    The monothelite error is similar to Apollinarianism in that it assumes that Jesus only had a divine will since the human will is absorbed into the divine will such that both act in synchronicity. But that would not explain how Jesus could pray, “Nevertheless, not my will but thy will be done.”

    Whether or not Clark espoused Nestorianism is still an open debate in my mind. However, it is not open to my mind what is being discussed here and in my opinion the ideas here are openly Nestorian. Whether that be because some have not read widely in theology or because what is being said is not precise I do not know.

    The idea that there are two persons in Christ is blatantly Nestorian. Now, if you say there are two wills in Christ, I have no problem with that because it is the orthodox position. But to say that there are two persons in Christ is just plain heresy or Nestorianism.

    Charlie


  406. I have to agree with Roger. If what you are saying is what you really believe, Sean, then you’re a Nestorian and therefore a heretic. The Heidelberg Catechism makes it clear that Jesus was a divine man since a mere creature could not pay the eternal penalty for our sins.

    I think Roger has answered the questions you raised as well as anyone could. AND Robert Reymond is hardly a follower of Van Til! There are many other systematic theologians out there who say similar things about the incarnation.

    Now, we can argue over how there can be two wills in Christ and how we avoid the monothelite error but to say there are two persons is to deny the incarnation as Roger said. The Logos never truly becomes human in one divine and human person. That’s Nestorianism and heresy. We can argue over how to avoid Apollinarianism and how to avoid the Ebionite error (i.e. that Christ was merely a man). But to sell out to Nestorianism is to place oneself outside the Christian faith. It’s no different from a oneness Pentecostal denying the trinity.

    I try to be objective and dispassionate but objective facts are facts. It really is no different from the Federal Vision folks who distort the biblical data and the confessional data to justify their errors.

    After I read Clark I plan to do a blog post reviewing the book.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie


  407. I’ll ask again since you and Roger just keep avoiding the elephant sitting in the middle of the room: was Jesus of Nazareth a human person?

    No. Jesus was more than merely a human person. Jesus is a human person AND a divine person incarnate in one individual human body. And more than that Jesus is both a reasonable human soul AND the divine Logos in one Person. The hypostatic union means, as Roger stated so clearly, that the two natures are not to be confused into one nature, NOR are they to be separated into two separate natures. From your previous remarks it seems to me that Clark must be redefining “person” so that it is no longer personality or conscious existence but rather simply propositions, attributes, etc. But this is to confuse the term “person.” A person has distinct personality. He is not an “it.” That would mean that Logos is simply an it and not a thinking personality with a mind and consciousness.

    The Logos assumes a reasonable human soul into the divine and so the human soul is limited as we are yet is still the same person who is also the Logos and in possession of all the incommunicable attributes of deity.

    Charlie


  408. Roger is entirely rational and consistent in everything he said, Sean. You’re the one who is hopelessly irrational. Either Jesus is one person who is both divine and human or you deny the incarnation.


  409. Lawyer said,

    I’m surprised people don’t see how ridiculous this is. What the heck is a person that is not an ego, that is , the thinking self? Was not the Logos an ego, a self-conscious acting subject before He became incarnated? And how do you combine a person with a nature and get an ego?

    And I’m surprised that you don’t just come out and admit that you believe Jesus was merely a man and the Logos is merely God the Eternal Son and never do the twain meet.

    That’s really a combination of the Ebionite error and Nestorianism. You seem to think Jesus is merely a man.

  410. Roger Mann Says:

    lawyertheologian wrote,

    I’m surprised people don’t see how ridiculous this is. What the heck is a person that is not an ego, that is , the thinking self?

    You are simply displaying your lack of reading comprehension here. Wells did not say that a “person is not an ego” or a “thinking self.” I’ll simplify it for you by paraphrasing his comments: “This means that all of the human qualities and powers [of a “human nature”] were present in Jesus, but that the ego, the self-conscious acting subject [i.e., His “Person”], was in fact a composite union of the human and the divine [natures].”

    Was not the Logos an ego, a self-conscious acting subject before He became incarnated?

    Yes, the Logos or Second Person of the Godhead was an “ego, a self-conscious acting subject before He became incarnated.” Wells implied nothing different in his comments. He was simply saying that the Logos or Second Person of the Godhead supplied the personality (i.e., “ego” or “self-acting subject”) for both the “divine nature” and “human nature” in the Incarnation.

    And how do you combine a person with a nature and get an ego?

    You don’t, since the terms “person” and “ego” refer to the same thing — a self-conscious substantive entity — while a “nature” is a complex of attributes. As I mentioned before, a “person” or “ego” is a principle in its own right, and cannot be deduced from the “nature.” Wells was merely saying that in the Incarnation “the ego, the self-conscious acting subject [i.e., the Logos or Second Person], was in fact a composite union of the human and the divine [natures].” There is nothing “ridiculous” or nonsensical about that. It is simply an accurate explanation of the “hypostatic union” of the divine and human natures in the “one Person” of Jesus Christ.

  411. Roger Mann Says:

    speigel wrote,

    How is Wells’ book? I’ve been trying to get a copy of it. Please let me know!

    Sorry, but I haven’t read it yet. That was actually a quote taken from Robert Reymond’s Systematic Theology, p. 610. I wasn’t trying to be misleading. I was just getting tired of typing and didn’t feel like supplying the entire reference at the time. My bad! 🙂

  412. Roger Mann Says:

    Charlie wrote,

    To separate the two natures (divine and human) into two separate Persons (one a divine person and the other a divine person) is Nestorianism no matter how you redefine “person.”

    Absolutely correct. That is the “necessary consequence” of the two-person theory of the Incarnation — which is really not a genuine Incarnation at all. The logic is quite simple and undeniable.

  413. Sean Gerety Says:

    I have to agree with Roger. If what you are saying is what you really believe, Sean, then you’re a Nestorian and therefore a heretic…to sell out to Nestorianism is to place oneself outside the Christian faith …After I read Clark I plan to do a blog post reviewing the book.

    Some umpteen posts ago Roger admitted:

    I may not be able to adequately explain how the omniscient God grew in knowledge as a man….

    Since that time neither he nor you have made even the slightest progress in explaining how one person can be omniscient yet ignorant, immutable yet mutable, etc., etc. In short, neither of you, despite your self-righteous bluster and brave condemnations, have explained these things, therefore you have not explained the Incarnation.

    To say that this person was ignorant of some things in his “human nature” and to define nature “characteristics that make a man” and hence was ignorant of some things “according to his human nature” does not resolve the contradiction inherent in the orthodox formulation in the slightest.

    That said, I do agree that Clark does come very close to Nestorianism, but since more competent and even more hostile reviewers than you have agreed with Clark and that his definition of “person” is sufficient to deflect this charge, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

    In the meantime, I will close my conversation with you by saying I do find Clark’s solution to the problem of the Incarnation compelling and certainly worthy of careful consideration; something I do not believe will be forthcoming any time soon and certainly hasn’t been evidenced by either you or Roger. Oddly enough, Speigel who got this whole ball rolling and who has been equally hostile of Clark’s position at times, at least seems to grasp the problem better than either of you who just repeat the party line as if you were saying something new — or even saying anything at all. I gather from Speigel’s remarks that he is in line with Dr. Crampton who says that to take the One Person view and deny that there are two minds, two self-consciences, etc., is foolishness. I completely agree.

    Therefore, the question remains do either Crampton or Morris define person and mind in such a way so that one person can properly be said to have two minds without being also two persons? Or, is James Anderson correct when he says the two-mind view necessarily implies two persons? This is something I hope to learn in the near future God willing.

  414. Sean Gerety Says:

    Anyone who wishes may make their final remarks to whomever they want and then this thread will be closed. Thanks for playing. Oddly enough, I found it very helpful. 🙂

  415. qeqesha Says:

    Charlie and Speigel,
    I want to sincerely apologize for my outburst and insults at you and to everybody here for causing offence! I do not condone my behavior in the slightest and think it most unchristian and sinful.

    Denson


  416. Actually, Oliver Crisp’s book, Divinity and Humanity, looks like a worthy read. He has at least a Reformed perspective, although the anti-intellectuals might say don’t read him because he went to Notre Dame and studied under Plantinga.


  417. Denson, your apology is accepted. I apologize to you as well since some of my remarks could be considered insensitive.

    This is a highly technical debate and it is difficult to cover all the technicalities and details in a brief post in comments.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie


  418. Sean, actually you’re the irrationalist here. You claim you believe Jesus is fully God and fully man yet you divide Him into two persons. That is the very height of paradox and irrationalism. You can try to wiggle out of it with silly redefinitions of “person” to fit your supposed solution but it will not change the fact that your solution is hopelessly mysterious, irrational, and paradoxical. It is no solution at all, which is why the church fathers AND the Reformers, including Calvin, condemned it as heretical.

    My opinion of this blog and of the Trinity Foundation is marred beyond repair I’m afraid. My final opinion is reserved until I read Clark’s two books on Trinity and Incarnation, however.

    I was initially drawn to study Clark because I have read Carl F. H. Henry’s systematic theology, God, Revelation and Authority. Henry mentions Clark as his influence in rejecting neo-orthodoxy and in his understanding of propositional truth.

    However, it looks like the dismissal of Clark from Westminster may have been justified after all if it had anything to do with his two person theory or with his theory of the trinity.

    Sincerely yours,

    Charlie


  419. I would be interested to know who Roger Mann is? You can e-mail me if you like, Roger. cranmer1959 AT hotmail DOT com.


  420. Crampton said:

    Jesus himself, both a man and the Second Person of the Trinity, spoke words that were at once human and divine.

    From Neo-Orthodoxy of Donald Bloesch

    My other statement:

    To separate the two natures (divine and human) into two separate Persons (one a divine person and the other a divine person) is Nestorianism no matter how you redefine “person.”

    That last part should have been: (one a divine person and the other a human person).

    Charlie

  421. speigel Says:

    Though I agree that there are some things that are difficult to explain under the traditional orthodox understanding of the Incarnation I do not agree that it is therefore false. I think that was Clark’s methodology. Since he could not explain it, he discarded it.

    I am however uncertain whether reduplication is the way to defend the incarnation from attacks of incoherence. Some say that reduplication is unnecessary and doesn’t work. Others say it does work. I’ll be doing more reading on that. But I suggest that we read with regards to the first issue of the incarnation – does the Bible say it happened and what was it that was to happen. This is why I suggested books by Reymond, Harris, and Webster. They dealt with the material in an exegetical manner concluding that the Messiah, a single subject, referent, person, was to be both God and man.

    I have also noted that some here have been some misunderstanding of the traditional orthodox view of the incarnation. For example some don’t understand anhypostasis or enhypostasis. While reading Clark’s book, I noted that Clark also misunderstood anhypostasis, misrepresenting some of what it teaches.

    From my limited readings, there have been many theologians, past and present, who have stated that Christ has two minds. I find it odd that some think that Christ didn’t have two minds – one human and one divine. Crampton quotes with approval John Murray who says that there may be a definition of Person such that Christ’s single personhood may be maintained while affirming that he has two minds. Morris defines, in another book of his, that a person is his mind. Yet he also states that a person may also have a mind and not simply is his mind. Morris goes on, just for a little, about what this may look like.

  422. Roger Mann Says:

    Some umpteen posts ago Roger admitted:
    I may not be able to adequately explain how the omniscient God grew in knowledge as a man….
    Since that time neither he nor you have made even the slightest progress in explaining how one person can be omniscient yet ignorant, immutable yet mutable, etc., etc.

    I only meant that it doesn’t ultimately matter if a doctrine can be exhaustively explained or fully comprehended by any particular person. If a mentally retarded person cannot adequately explain or completely grasp the doctrine of the Trinity, does that make the doctrine untrue or incoherent? Of course not. Neither does the fact that you can’t seem to wrap your mind around how the divine Second Person of the Godhead became a finite man without being divested of His divinity make the doctrine of the Incarnation untrue or incoherent.

    To say that this person was ignorant of some things in his “human nature” and to define nature “characteristics that make a man” and hence was ignorant of some things “according to his human nature” does not resolve the contradiction inherent in the orthodox formulation in the slightest.

    Sure it does. It would only be a contradiction if the orthodox doctrine were saying that the Second Person of the Godhead was both omniscient and ignorant according to His “divine nature.” But that is not what the orthodox doctrine is saying. It is saying that the Second Person of the Godhead is omniscient according to His “divine nature” and ignorant of some things according to His assumed “human nature.” If you think that entails a contradiction, then I would suggest that you study logic a little more carefully.


  423. Spiegal, I don’t agree that Christ has two minds. He had two wills. Two minds would imply two persons instead of one.


Comments are closed.


%d bloggers like this: