Archive for March 2011

Jeffrey Meyers – Faith Works

March 29, 2011

“Personally, I would like to see us out from under the straightjacket of the Westminster standards.” — Jeff Meyers

Covenantal nomism (a phrase coined by New Perspectives liberal E.P. Sanders) is the anti-Christian belief that one enters into God’s covenant by grace but remains in through works of obedience or simply through faithfulness to the covenant’s demands.  Further, and as Michael Horton explains: (more…)

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Clark Quick Quote

March 29, 2011

A twofer…

Archaeology, of course, can contribute little or nothing toward proving that the doctrines, as distinct from the historical events, of the Bible are true . . . The literary style of some parts of the Bible is majestic, but Paul’s epistles are not models of style. The consent or logical consistency of the whole is important; for if the Bible contradicted itself, we would know that some of it would be false.

— What Do Presbyterians Believe p. 17,18.

If, nonetheless, it can be shown that the Bible — in spite of having been written by more than thirty-five authors over a period of fifteen hundred years — is logically consistent, then the unbeliever would have to regard it as a most remarkable accident . . . Logical consistency, therefore, is evidence of inspiration.

— God’s Hammer p. 16.

Important New Discovery

March 27, 2011

Archeologists Discover Letter Written to St. Paul

Still Strange

March 25, 2011

Dr. Alan Strange has decided to respond again to the question of how saving faith should be defined over at the Lane Keister’s Greenbaggins blog.  We’ll get to his response in a moment, but first I have to admit I thought Keister’s response to “When You’re Strange” was thoughtful, helpful and actually went a long way in bridging the gap between the simplified view of faith advanced by Gordon Clark and the traditional tri-fold definition of faith as a combination of understanding, assent, and trust.  As most readers of God’s Hammer already know, especially those who have had the pleasure of reading Clark’s What is Saving Faith? (which right now at the Trinity Foundation you can buy one copy and get two free), is that Clark’s objection to the traditional definition is due to the fact that belief and trust are synonyms and that the traditional tri-fold definition is hopelessly deficient, tautological, and amounts to defining the word belief with itself.  For example, in What is Saving Faith? Clark argues:

The crux of the difficulty with the popular analysis of faith in to notitia (understanding), assensus (assent), and fiducia (trust), is that fiducia comes from the same root as fides (faith). The Latin fide is not a good synonym for the Greek pisteuoo. Hence this popular analysis reduces to the obviously absurd definition that faith consists of understanding, assent, and faith. Something better than this tautology must be found.

Clark’s solution was to simply drop the tautological and meaningless addition to the traditional definition entirely.  The reason for doing this is obvious if one speaks English where belief and trust are synonyms (which is perhaps why religious types love Latin so much as they can get away with so much more when us pew-ons don’t know what they’re saying).  As Clark states on page 76, “to trust is to believe that good will follow.”  Similarly, in his piece “R. C. Sproul on Saving Faith” John Robbins writes; “Strictly speaking, trust is belief of propositions in the future tense, such as ‘he will be good to me’ or ‘this bank will keep my money safe.’”  What makes saving belief different from ordinary belief are the propositions believed.  For belief to be saving one must understand and assent to the finished work of Christ in the Gospel.  After all, that is the only thing the Scriptures require.  In Acts we read; “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.”  And, again in Romans, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”  Belief alone is all that is required to be saved, despite what some misguided and confused seminary professors and the men they train may say. Even worse, some seminary men still insist that faith alone is different from belief alone.   Notice too that, and to Clark’s point above, there is no verb form of the word fides that can be used in either of the above verses.  Instead, the Latin translation of pistueo (which is translated believe in Scripture) is credo.   Clark argues:

It is clear that Greek verb pisteuo is properly translated believe; and it would have been much better if the noun pistis had been translated belief. An English novel, The Way of All Flesh, indicates that in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the evangelical Anglicans recited the Belief, rather than the Creed. The author seems to assume that the congregation did not know that credo means I believe.

All things considered whether linguistically or logically, Clark’s solution seems like a very modest correction, but from the howls of those opposing Clark over at the Greenbaggins blog you’d think Clark and those who follow him have abandoned the Gospel entirely.  Frankly, some have said exactly that.  One particularly virulent and nasty Van Tillian, Vern Crisler, exclaimed: “Clarkians do not believe in Jesus, or have faith in Jesus. They only have faith in propositions about Jesus.”  I confess it is really tough to suffer this kind of inanity, but evidently such baseless and ridiculous comments are perfectly acceptable on the Greenbaggins blog. Oh, yeah, did I mention Crisler was a Van Tillian?

That’s not to say that all Van Tillians are willing to join Crisler under his rock, at least not publicly.  Lane Keister, who is also a Van Tillian, and he may be the exception, seems to understand just how modest Clark’s change is to the traditional understanding really is and writes: (more…)

When You’re Strange

March 17, 2011

Dr. Alan Strange is an assistant pastor in the OPC and an associate professor of church history at Mid America Reformed Seminary.   He also teaches a classes in applied apologetics.  Back in 2004 he wrote an unfavorable review of Gordon Clark’s What is Saving Faith that appeared in Mid America Journal of Theology and later in the OPC’s New Horizons magazine.  Admittedly, and given the OPC’s long and sad history of hostility toward Dr. Clark and Scripturalists in general, it would have been surprising for any OPC pastor to write a favorable review of even one of Clark’s books, assuming such a review could even get published.  Unfortunately, Dr. Strange’s review contained no surprises.

After his review appeared in New Horizons a friend of mine alerted me to the piece and after reading it I fired off a response to the editor that they refused to publish.  Interestingly, and unbeknownst to me at the time, John Robbins also sent a response to the Mid America Journal of Theology and later to New Horizons, both of whom refused to publish Dr. Robbins’ response.  Having since published Dr. Robbins response to Alan Strange and my own here, my interest today is related to a recent encounter I had with Dr. Strange over at Lane Keister’s Greenbaggins blog.   I had commented on a repost of Wes White’s insightful piece, “Sola Fide or Sola Fidelity?,” and made the following comment which didn’t sit well with Dr. Strange:

…Peter Liethart complains in The Baptized Body that “For some, the central problem with the Federal Vision is that it denies justification by faith, which no one has ever done….” But no one I know of has ever said that any of these men deny justification by faith. The pope doesn’t even deny justification by faith. What they deny is justification by belief alone. The supposed *fiducial* element, what Meyers calls an active, living, obedient faith is what keeps us in the covenant. This is why Wes White says they’ve replace sola fide with sola fidelity. He’s right.

Without reading any further, can anyone guess what the offending statement was in the above paragraph that required an associate professor of church history at Mid America Reformed Seminary to jump in to correct me?  Well, if you can’t don’t feel bad.  It took me a little while to figure out what my offense was.  Evidently my transgression of Reformed orthodoxy was that I used the phrase “belief alone” and “faith alone” interchangeably.  Dr. Strange explained:

Because Mr. Gerety threw in the “belief alone” comment, however, as that which is definitive of justifying faith, I thought that it was helpul[sic] to point out that the remedy to the problem of identifying faith and faithfulness is not to strip faith of trust.

Now think about this for a moment.  For Dr. Strange “belief alone” is something qualitatively different from  “faith alone.”  Evidently, and according to Strange, we are justified by faith alone, just not by belief alone.  In his mind belief alone lacks trust whereas faith alone includes trust.  However, in ordinary English belief and trust are synonyms.  Even more destructive to his argument (and something you would think an associate seminary professor would have already known) is that there is only one word in Scripture that is translated as both “faith” and “belief” and that is the Greek word pistis.

Dr. W. Gary Crampton observers:

In the New Testament, there is only one word for belief or faith, pistis, and its verb form is pistein, believe. There is no separate word for faith, and those who wish to say that faith is something different from and superior to belief have no support from Scripture. Gordon Clark once remarked that the Bible’s English translators could have avoided a lot of confusion if they had not used the Latin-based word “faith” and had instead simply used “believe” and “belief” throughout the English Bible, as the writers of the New Testament use pistis and pistein throughout the Greek Bible.  Faith in Hebrews 11

Some examples of pistis in Scripture are: (more…)

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

March 11, 2011

As many of my readers already know, Peter Leithart is one of the most high profile and prolific defenders of the Federal Vision in the PCA and has made it clear that the reason he didn’t simply leave the PCA for the FV CREC (the false church he labors in)  is because he hopes that a favorable verdict in his case will aid other Federal Visionists in the PCA who have come under attack.  I don’t want to see that happen.

PCA pastor Jason Stellman, who is leading the prosecution against Leithart, needs help mostly to help cover the costs of flying out and housing witnesses for the prosecution.  He has set up a fund to that end.   Although it may not seem that way at times, I sincerely love the PCA, and, despite thinking it is still a lost cause, would like to help get my former denomination back.  I’ve never asked for perfection, but I do expect whatever denomination or church I join to faithfully preach the gospel and to actively tolerate no other.  That hasn’t been the case in the PCA for a very long time, but thanks to the efforts of a handful of men like Pastor Stellman that all might change, God willing.

Make no mistake, this will be a decisive battle and one that I’m more that willing to help in ways more than just writing words on a blog.  I can assure you, I’m not a wealthy man by a long shot, but before I encourage others to give to this cause I opened up my checkbook first.  It’s not a lot, but I hope and pray it helps.  And I hope and pray you will help to.

Here’s Jason Stellman’s request for help:

_______________________________

Well, this is the first time I have ever done anything like this, so bear with me….

As many of you know, the Pacific Northwest Presbytery will be trying Peter Leithart on five doctrinal charges, and the trial will take place on June 3-4. Countless of you have voiced to me your support of this endeavor since the process began back in October of 2007, and I know that many more will be watching these events with great interest.

The reason for this post is to ask individuals and churches to consider contributing financially to a fund that the prosecution will draw from in order to try our case. The main need for funds is due to the cost of providing air fare and lodging for the witnesses that we plan to call. Obviously the prosecution desires to argue the best case possible, and so those of you who oppose the Federal Vision can be assured that your contributions will be used to that end. And of course, whatever funds that are sent but are not needed will be returned with many thanks. Make checks payable to:

Exile Presbyterian Church
PMB 132
14241 Woodinville-Duvall Rd.
Woodinville, WA, 98072
Attn: Prosecution Fund

And if those of you who publish blogs would be so kind as to spread the word, I would be much obliged.

Thank you. Posted by Jason Stellman at 10:31 PM

Jeffrey Meyers – The Parable of the Pharisee & Publican, Part Deux

March 7, 2011

“Personally, I would like to see us out from under the straightjacket of the Westminster standards.” — Jeff Meyers

And Jesus also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:  “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

As some might recall, Jeffery Meyers doesn’t see the doctrine of imputation anywhere in the above parable.   As he explained previously on a note posted on the Wrightsaid Yahoo Group (message #274) : (more…)


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