Hodge on Revival

Our friend from Iowa reminds us that Charles Hodge was not a sucker for the experience of Phebe Bartlet.

. . . The men who, either from their character or circumstances, are led to take the most prominent part, during such seasons of excitement, are themselves often carried to extremes, or are so connected with the extravagant, that they are sometimes the last to perceive and the slowest to oppose the evils which so frequently mar the work of God, and burn over the fields which he had just watered with his grace. Opposition to these evils commonly comes from a different quarter; from wise and good men who have been kept out of the focus of the excitement. And it is well that there are such opposers, else the church would soon be over-run with fanaticism.

That the state of religion did rapidly decline after the revival, we have abundant and melancholy evidence. Even as early as [March] 1744, (Jonathan) Edwards says, “the present state of things in New England is, on many accounts, very melancholy. There is a vast alteration within two years.” God, he adds, was provoked at the spiritual pride and self confidence of the people, and withdrew from them, and “the enemy has come in like a flood in various respects, until the deluge has overwhelmed the whole land. There had been from the beginning a great mixture, especially in some places, of false experiences and false religion with true; but from this time the mixture became much greater, and many were led away into sad delusions.”

Makes me wonder what happened to Phebe once she turned 24.

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116 Comments

  1. Richard Smith
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    mark mcculley: George Hunsinger, “Dispositional Soteriology: Jonathan Edwards on Justification by Faith Alone”, Westminster Theological Journal 66 (2004): 107-120.

    “If one brings a soft focus, Edwards can end up sounding very much like the Reformation”.

    “Works are not excluded from justification, ultimately because justification has a double ground:
    not only in Christ, but through Christ also in us.”

    “Though different in weight and expression, obedience and faith are essentially the same in
    principle, since both count as exertions of the saving disposition. It seems fair to sum up by saying that what Edwards finally teaches is justification by disposition alone.”

    RS: Hunsinger is the same guy who wrote the hatchet job on Edwards in the article in Modern Reformation. I cannot understand how a man who cannot read Edwards in context can actually get people to read him. Check the references and then the context. What he says Edwards denies Edwards will clearly assert in the same context.

  2. Richard Smith
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    mark mcculley: Morimoto, (Jonathan Edwards and the Catholic Vision of Salvation,: Penn State University Press, 1995), shows how Edward’s soteriology had many affinities with the Roman Catholic understanding of salvation. Morimoto thinks that Edwards’ theology opens a unique
    door for Reformed-Catholic dialogue.

    Schafer also concludes that Edwards is close to the Roman idea of the place of love in justifying faith.

    But none of these agree with RS, who reads Edwards in context and understands as they don’t that context.

    RS: Not sure what or where Schafer says something like that, but are you so sure Morimoto actually believes justification by faith alone? Does he have an affinity with Roman Catholicism and ecumenical thinking? I would suggest a close reading of Edwards himself.

  3. mark mcculley
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Edwards in his book on justification asks “whether any other act of faith besides the first act has
    any concern in our justification, or how far perseverance in faith, or the continued and renewed acts of faith, have influence in this affair?”

    When Edwards answers that no other acts are required, Edwards means that works after justification should not be considered separate from the initial act of faith. Edwards thought of perseverance as a part of the original act of saving faith, “the qualification on which the
    congruity of an interest in the righteousness of Christ depends, or wherein such a fitness consists.”

    By virtue of “union” with Christ, faith —Edwards claims– “is a very excellent qualification” (p. 154), “one chief part of the inherent holiness of a Christian”

    “The act of justification has no regard to anything in the person justified BEFORE THIS ACT. God beholds him only as an ungodly or wicked creature; so that godliness IN the person TO BE justified is not ANTECEDENT to his justification as to be the ground of it” (p. 147)

    justification finds its primary ground “in Christ,” in Christ’s righteousness, and its secondary or derivative ground “in us,” that is, in faith defined as a disposition, as a “habit and principle in the heart” (p. 204).

    Faith AFTER justification, along with the works and love that result from faith, is described as “THAT IN US BY WHICH WE ARE JUSTIFIED” (p. 222 ).

    mcmark: the CAPS are mine, in the interests of “close reading” (which I suppose means pay attention to the things I think this guy I am quoting wants you to notice if you are going to understand him on his own terms, and don’t waste your time reading him through the perspective of any church confession.)

  4. Richard Smith
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    mark mcculley: Edwards in his book on justification asks “whether any other act of faith besides the first act has any concern in our justification, or how far perseverance in faith, or the continued and renewed acts of faith, have influence in this affair?”

    When Edwards answers that no other acts are required, Edwards means that works after justification should not be considered separate from the initial act of faith. Edwards thought of perseverance as a part of the original act of saving faith, “the qualification on which the
    congruity of an interest in the righteousness of Christ depends, or wherein such a fitness consists.”

    By virtue of “union” with Christ, faith —Edwards claims– “is a very excellent qualification” (p. 154), “one chief part of the inherent holiness of a Christian”

    “The act of justification has no regard to anything in the person justified BEFORE THIS ACT. God beholds him only as an ungodly or wicked creature; so that godliness IN the person TO BE justified is not ANTECEDENT to his justification as to be the ground of it” (p. 147)

    justification finds its primary ground “in Christ,” in Christ’s righteousness, and its secondary or derivative ground “in us,” that is, in faith defined as a disposition, as a “habit and principle in the heart” (p. 204).

    Faith AFTER justification, along with the works and love that result from faith, is described as “THAT IN US BY WHICH WE ARE JUSTIFIED” (p. 222 ).

    mcmark: the CAPS are mine, in the interests of “close reading” (which I suppose means pay attention to the things I think this guy I am quoting wants you to notice if you are going to understand him on his own terms, and don’t waste your time reading him through the perspective of any church confession.)

    RS: It appears that most if not all of these quotes were taken from Hunisnger’s article. For what it is worth, I tried to find the statement on p. 222 of Edwards but it was not there. That was the last quote you gave.

    MarkM: By virtue of “union” with Christ, faith —Edwards claims– “is a very excellent qualification” (p. 154), “one chief part of the inherent holiness of a Christian”

    RS quoting Edwards: If Christ had not come into the world and died, etc, to purchase justification, no qualification whatever, in us, could render it a meet or fit thing that we should be justified; but the case bieng as it now stands, viz, that Christ has actually purchased justification by his own blood, for infinitely unworthy creatures… The part of “one chief part of the inherent holiness of a Christian” is actually followed by a question mark and is a question.

    “And thus it is that faith is that qualification in any person, that renders it meet in the sightof God that he should be looked upon as having Christ’s satisfaction and righteousness belonging to him, viz, because it is in him, which, on his part, makes up the union between him and Christ. By what has been just now observed, ’tis a person’s being, according to Scripture phrase, “in Chirst,” that is the ground of having his satisfaction and merits belong to him, and a right to the benefits procured thereby; and the reason of it is plain; ’tis easy to see how having Christ’s merits and benefits belonging to us, or a being united to him; and if so it must also be easy to see how, or in what manner, that, in a person, that on his part makes up the union between his soul and Christ, should be the thing on the account of which God looks on it meet that he should have Christ’s merits belonging to him…

    In the quote above one can also see that if Hunisnger would have read Edwards very closely he would have seen that Edwards was a strong believer in the union of Christ and the believer. However, Hunsinger saw Edwards as not really holding to that.

    As to faith being a qualification, he went on to explain that faith is the gift of God and it is not faith itself, but what faith has which is Christ.

    McMark: Edwards thought of perseverance as a part of the original act of saving faith, “the qualification on which the congruity of an interest in the righteousness of Christ depends, or wherein such a fitness consists.”

    RS: If sinners are declared righteous before God at one moment and time, that does not preclude the idea that God has declared them righteous in His “eternal now” sight. When God declares sinners just in the sense that all of their sins are gone, He does far more than just declare all of their past sins propitiated, but all of their future sins as well. Now Mark would not argue with that. But what Mark does not like is Edwards saying that when God declares sinners just He has in mind their perseverance as well. But their perseverance was purchased by Christ and all of their future righteousness is given as a gift by Christ as well. If Christ paid for future sins as well as past sins and that is true at the moment of forensic justification, then why can’t the imputation of Christ Himself and His righteousness also be in the mind of God? Perseverance was purchased by Christ and is not earned or merited in any way.

    Did Christ just purchase the first act of faith or has He purchased faith for eternity for sinners? Did Christ purchase persevering faith for sinners as well? Romans 8:29-30 points out how foreloving, predestination, effectual calling, justification, and then glorification are already declared by God. Those whom God declares just He has already glorified them or it is that certain. “29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

    McMark: “The act of justification has no regard to anything in the person justified BEFORE THIS ACT. God beholds him only as an ungodly or wicked creature; so that godliness IN the person TO BE justified is not ANTECEDENT to his justification as to be the ground of it” (p. 147)

    RS: This is from the first page of Edwards’ work on justification. What he is saying, in context, is that there is no godliness in the person that moves God to justify the person. If only Hunsinger would have read Edwards a little more closely, he would have not have taken this out of context either. Hunsinger tried to say that later on Edwards thought faith was a grounds of something pleasing to God. If he would have read that more carefully, he would have seen that Edwards clearly said that faith was pleasing to God because wherer there is faith the human soul is united to Christ. A disposition in the soul to have Christ is pleasing to God because faith itself is a gift of God and the soul that has faith is united to Christ and God looks upon the soul as one with Christ.

  5. Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    Richard, so now we need to read Edwards CLOSELY in order to see that he is orthodox. Or maybe he was not as clear as he should have been, which might account for the decline of the New Divinity. Either way, it looks like Edwards needs cheerleaders to be understood correctly.

  6. mark mcculley
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    At least in this case It’s not about what I like or don’t like. There is a Reformed tradition which follows Edwards and disagrees with Turretin and John Owen and which speaks in a language not found in the Confessions. In times previous, I have explained how Hunsinger’s colleague (Bruce McCormack) has pointed to some ambiguity about the priority in Calvin of “union” (as indwelling and eucharistic feeding) over imputation. But for now, let’s stick with RS and his quotations.

    Edwards: “And thus it is that faith is that qualification in any person, that renders it meet in the sight of God that he should be looked upon as having Christ’s satisfaction and righteousness
    belonging to him, viz, because it is in him, which, on his part, makes up the union between him and Christ. By what has been just now observed, ’tis a person’s being, according to Scripture phrase, “in
    Chirst,” that is the ground of having his satisfaction and merits belong to him, and a right to the benefits procured thereby; and the reason of it is plain; ’tis easy to see how having Christ’s merits and benefits belonging to us, or a being united to him; and if so it must also be easy to see how, or in what manner, that, in a person, that on his part makes up the union between his soul and Christ, should be the on the account of which God looks on it meet that he should have
    Christ’s merits belonging to him…”

    rs: If Hunisnger would have read Edwards very closely he would have seen that Edwards was a strong believer in the union of Christ and the believer. However, Hunsinger saw Edwards as not really holding to that.

    mcmark: At the end of the day, I don’t care about Hunsinger the Barthian. But a fair reading would not say that the problem is Edwards not “holding to” what he says. The problem is what Edwards says. Edwards says that part of the basis (the legal ground ,to avoid the word merit) of present justification is the faith and works inherent in the justified sinner after that sinner is justified.

    Edwards is not content with any idea of “union” which is strictly legal. So he bases justification on a idea about “union” which is ontological rather than forensic. In this Edwards sounds more like Augustine than Calvin . Not free -will, but what God does In the elect sinner, protects the project from being a legal fiction. Edwards counts the faith as part of the righteousness, and
    also counts love and works as part of the faith. And this, according to Edwards, is what makes justification “meet” and “friendly”—God can declare the ungodly just, because God knows what God is going to do in that ungodly person, and God is going to include what God is going to do “inside the soul” into the mix of God’s basis for jusitifying.

    Now we know why RS ignores the forensic in Romans 6. Sure, we don’t deny that being identified with Christ’s death out there back then is important, but the really neat thing is what happens “in my soul”. Even though there is no soul, no new birth, no Holy Spirit, in Romans 6. And even though the Westminster confession in its chapter on justification rejects the “in us” as any part of the basis for justification….

    But Edwards never need to “fit” his speculations with that.

  7. Richard Smith
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, so now we need to read Edwards CLOSELY in order to see that he is orthodox.

    RS: Not really the point, it just takes more than a light read to understand what he is saying. I would say the same thing for Luther’s Bondage of the Will and certainly parts of Calvin’s Institutes. One can find those men misquoted all over the place.

    D. G. Hart: Or maybe he was not as clear as he should have been, which might account for the decline of the New Divinity. Either way, it looks like Edwards needs cheerleaders to be understood correctly.

    RS: As with all men who wrote with an uncommon depth of spiritual wisdom, they must be read closely and carefully. If you (or anyone else) read Calvin as carelessly as Hunsinger read Edwards, he would most likely be an Arminian or even a fan of Servetus. I am not trying to fan the flames on that one as I sit here in my cheerleader dress, but just trying to make a triune point.

  8. Richard Smith
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    MarkMc: Edwards is not content with any idea of “union” which is strictly legal. So he bases justification on a idea about “union” which is ontological rather than forensic.

    RS: I don’t think it is fair to speak of Edwards holding to an ontological union, nor does he deny a legal union as such. He is very much a proponent of forensic justification.

    MarkMc: In this Edwards sounds more like Augustine than Calvin . Not free -will, but what God does In the elect sinner, protects the project from being a legal fiction. Edwards counts the faith as part of the righteousness, and also counts love and works as part of the faith. And this, according to Edwards, is what makes justification “meet” and “friendly”—God can declare the ungodly just, because God knows what God is going to do in that ungodly person, and God is going to include what God is going to do “inside the soul” into the mix of God’s basis for jusitifying.

    RS: I really think you need to read Edwards on justification and read it carefully before you make those charges. He does not count faith in and of itself as righteousness.

    MarkMc: Now we know why RS ignores the forensic in Romans 6. Sure, we don’t deny that being identified with Christ’s death out there back then is important, but the really neat thing is what happens “in my soul”. Even though there is no soul, no new birth, no Holy Spirit, in Romans 6. And even though the Westminster confession in its chapter on justification rejects the “in us” as any part of the basis for justification….

    RS: WLC Q. 66. What is that union which the elect have with Christ?
    A. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace,[270] whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband;[271] which is done in their effectual calling.[272]

    RS: If you will notice with some care that, at least according to the WLC, the union with Christ is done in their effectual calling. Sinners must be effectually called before they are justified.

    WLC: Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

    A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it,[304] nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification;[305] but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.[306]

    WSC: Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
    A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.[83]

    Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
    A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us,[84] and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.[85]

    RS: Notice again, it is the Spirit who applies the redemption purchased by Christ. he does this by working faith in us, and it is by working faith in us we are united to Christ in our effectual calling.

    Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
    A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ,[86] and renewing our wills,[87] he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ,[88] freely offered to us in the gospel.[89]

    Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
    A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.[90]

    Q. 33. What is justification?
    A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace,[91] wherein he pardoneth all our sins,[92] and accepteth us as righteous in His sight,[93] only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us,[94] and received by faith alone.[95]

    RS: Notice the order once again. It is effectual calling, faith, unity with Christ, and then justification. The Westminster divines certainly knew of no justification apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in effectual calling, regeneration, and unity with Christ. Forensic justification is most certainly true, but it does not operate apart from a real (spiritual) union with Christ. Effectual calling includes union with Christ and there is no justification apart from effectual calling. Edwards was quite in line with the Westminster divines, though he used different language and a lot more words. Again, regardless of the person that is being attacked, be sure that person is understood before one attacks that person. Hunsinger did not understand Edwards and that is demonstratively clear. One should not base an attack on Edwards and his views of justification by the words of Hunsinger.

  9. mark mcculley
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I simply am not going to repeat all that has been said about “union” and its definition and the order of salvation. But as I predicted, RS “does not deny” that the “union” is legal. And then he promptly turns around and tells us that the “union” comes before legal justification. Thus he assumes that the “union” is the “effectual calling” and NOT THE LEGAL.

    Thus he puts regeneration in priority to justification. A formal “not denying” legal righteousness as the basis of salvation, immediately followed by an Augustinian focus on what’s going on “in our souls”. This is not the way Mike Horton or Bruce McCormack or Bavnick or Berkhof read the confession. If others are interested, type in the word “union” in the search column to the right.
    Sure, it’s not “faith in and of itself”. It’s what Christ did over there back then PLUS even justification is also based in part on regeneration and perseverance in faith. That’s the point. That’s the problem.

    rs: Edwards clearly said that faith was pleasing to God because where there is faith the human soul is united to Christ. A disposition in the soul to have Christ is pleasing to God because faith itself is a
    gift of God and the soul that has faith is united to Christ and God looks upon the soul as one with Christ.

    mcmark: Even though some sinners are united to Christ by election from before the ages, these sinners are not justified until they are legally united to Christ by imputation and the immediate result of this identification is faith in the gospel. So where the human person is united to Christ, that person will believe the gospel. But this faith, even though God given and Chrsit purchased, is NOT any part of the righteousness by which God has justified that elect sinner.

    Now, you can say, well we believe in both, and who cares about the priority of righteousness and faith. But the Reformed Confessions care. Faith is not the righteousness. Perseverance is not the
    righteousness. The Holy Spirit’s application of the benefits of Christ’s righteousness is not
    to be confused with Christ’s accomplishment of the righteousness. God looks upon the sinner as justified because God has legally placed that sinner into Christ’s death. Not because God knows that God will cause that sinner to persevere.

    Edwards: “The act of justification has no regard to anything in the person justified BEFORE THIS ACT. God beholds him only as an ungodly or wicked creature; so that godliness IN the person TO BE justified is not ANTECEDENT to his justification as to be the ground of it” (p. 147)

  10. mark mcculley
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Even though he was perhaps not a “close reader” of Jonathan Edwards Sr or Jr or even of Samuel Hopkins, Bavinck has some very important cautions about the way we talk about the Spirit’s work of effectual calling and the hearing of faith:

    “When the Scriptures say of this justification in “a concrete sense” that it takes place by and through faith, it does not intend to say that it is produced and wrought through that faith, since Jesus Christ is all our righteousness and all benefits of grace are the fruits of his labor and of his labor alone; they are entirely contained in his person and are not in any need of any addition on our part. Saving faith directs our eyes and heart from the very beginning away from ourselves and unto God’s mercy in Christ.

    Many have in later years, when the confessional power of the Reformation weakened, entered the way of self-examination, in order to be assured of the sincerity of their faith and their salvation. Thus was the focus shifted from the promise of God to the experience of the pious.

    It is not we who approach the judgment of God, after self-examination, with the sincerity of our faith, in order to receive there the forgiveness of our sins; God himself comes to us in the gospel. The foundation of faith lie outside ourselves in the promise of God; whoever builds thereupon shall not be ashamed.

    If justification in every respect comes about after faith, faith becomes a condition, an activity, which must be performed by man beforehand, and it cannot be purely receptive. But if the righteousness, on the ground of which we are justified, lies wholly outside of us in Christ Jesus, then faith is not a “material cause” or a “formal cause.”

    Faith is not even a condition or instrument of justification, for it stands in relation to justification not as, for example, the eye to seeing or the ear to hearing. Faith is not a condition, upon which, nor an instrument or organ, through which we receive this benefit, but it is the acceptance itself of Christ and all his benefits, as He presents Himself to us through word and Spirit, and it includes the consciousness that He is my Lord and I am his possession.

    Faith is therefore not an instrument in the proper sense…but forms a contrast with the works of the law. It also stands opposed to the works of faith (infused righteousness, obedience, love) the moment these are to any degree viewed as the ground of justification, as forming as a whole or in part that righteousness on the ground of which God justifies us; for that is Christ and Christ alone; faith itself is not the ground of justification and thus also neither are the good works which come forth from it.

    H. Bavinck, Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, Vol. IV (4th ed.; Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1930)

  11. Richard Smith
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    mark mcculley: I simply am not going to repeat all that has been said about “union” and its definition and the order of salvation. But as I predicted, RS “does not deny” that the “union” is legal. And then he promptly turns around and tells us that the “union” comes before legal justification. Thus he assumes that the “union” is the “effectual calling” and NOT THE LEGAL.

    RS: That is precisely what the Westminster Catechisms teach. They say that union occurs in effectual calling.

    mark mcculley: Thus he puts regeneration in priority to justification. A formal “not denying” legal righteousness as the basis of salvation, immediately followed by an Augustinian focus on what’s going on “in our souls”. This is not the way Mike Horton or Bruce McCormack or Bavnick or Berkhof read the confession. If others are interested, type in the word “union” in the search column to the right.

    RS: Perhaps you could give the references where the men you listed disagree with the Westminster Catechisms. Once again, they are given below. It is Reformed orthodoxy to assert that regeneration precedes faith and the soul is justified by grace alone through faith alone. Call it what you will, in terms of order that is the way it is.

    WSC: Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
    A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.[83]

    Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
    A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us,[84] and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling

    RS: WLC Q. 66. What is that union which the elect have with Christ?
    A. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace,[270] whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband;[271] which is done in their effectual calling.

    mark mcculley: Sure, it’s not “faith in and of itself”. It’s what Christ did over there back then PLUS even justification is also based in part on regeneration and perseverance in faith. That’s the point. That’s the problem.

    RS: Once again, regeneration precedes faith. Faith is the instrumental cause in justification. A faith that saves is a faith that will persevere. Seems right in line with Westminster.

  12. Richard Smith
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    mcmark: Now, you can say, well we believe in both, and who cares about the priority of righteousness and faith. But the Reformed Confessions care. Faith is not the righteousness. Perseverance is not the righteousness.

    RS: That is correct.

    mcmark: The Holy Spirit’s application of the benefits of Christ’s righteousness is not to be confused with Christ’s accomplishment of the righteousness. God looks upon the sinner as justified because God has legally placed that sinner into Christ’s death. Not because God knows that God will cause that sinner to persevere.

    RS: But God is also not ignorant that by His grace and through faith the sinner that He declares just will persevere. When He declares a sinner just, they will always be declared just for eternity. Their perseverance is not righteousness, but if they do not persevere they never had faith.

  13. Richard Smith
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    RS quoting Bavinck: “To clarify matters, Reformed theologicans distinguished and active justification from a passive justification; justification is acquired and applied…The distinction seeks to preserve the dual conviction that faith is both necessary for justification and that such a faith is itself the fruit of God’s regenerating work through the Holy Spirit…and to recognize that fiath is simultaneously a receptive organ and an active power. Faith is the very act of accepting Christ and all his benefits. This faith is active along with works and is brought to completion by works.” Vol 4 p. 178

    McMark: “When the Scriptures say of this justification in “a concrete sense” that it takes place by and through faith, it does not intend to say that it is produced and wrought through that faith, since Jesus Christ is all our righteousness and all benefits of grace are the fruits of his labor and of his labor alone; they are entirely contained in his person and are not in any need of any addition on our part. Saving faith directs our eyes and heart from the very beginning away from ourselves and unto God’s mercy in Christ.

    RS: True, faith does not produce justification and true faith beholds and unites to Christ.

    McMark: Many have in later years, when the confessional power of the Reformation weakened, entered the way of self-examination, in order to be assured of the sincerity of their faith and their salvation. Thus was the focus shifted from the promise of God to the experience of the pious.

    RS: But the promise of God is for Christ to dwell in His people and Christ in His people is their very hope of glory (Col 1:27).

    McMark: It is not we who approach the judgment of God, after self-examination, with the sincerity of our faith, in order to receive there the forgiveness of our sins; God himself comes to us in the gospel. The foundation of faith lie outside ourselves in the promise of God; whoever builds thereupon shall not be ashamed.

    RS: Notice that the foundation is not us, but Christ, However, Paul tells us to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?” So looking to see if Christ is in us is not a contradiction to the promise of God. It just means that we are not the foundation of faith in any way, but Christ is.

    McMark: If justification in every respect comes about after faith, faith becomes a condition, an activity, which must be performed by man beforehand, and it cannot be purely receptive. But if the righteousness, on the ground of which we are justified, lies wholly outside of us in Christ Jesus, then faith is not a “material cause” or a “formal cause.”

    RS: I would disagree with this remark depending on the context. Christ is the condition and one must have faith to have Christ. Faith is not an activity to be performed by man in order to have Christ. Instead of that, the soul is regenerated and in that effectual calling God gives the soul faith and Christ is united to the soul. Of course righteousness lies wholly and totally outside of us in that sense, but that does not mean that Christ does not dwell in the soul. It just means that the human soul can have no righteousness of his own in any way other than by Christ.

    McMark: Faith is not even a condition or instrument of justification, for it stands in relation to justification not as, for example, the eye to seeing or the ear to hearing. Faith is not a condition, upon which, nor an instrument or organ, through which we receive this benefit, but it is the acceptance itself of Christ and all his benefits, as He presents Himself to us through word and Spirit, and it includes the consciousness that He is my Lord and I am his possession.

    RS: It depends on what is meant here, which is hard to ascertain without the context. Faith is not a human work, so it is not a human condition or a human instrument to obtain salvation for self. Indeed faith does unite the soul to Christ and in being united to Christ the soul has the imputed righteousness of Christ.

    McMark: Faith is therefore not an instrument in the proper sense…but forms a contrast with the works of the law. It also stands opposed to the works of faith (infused righteousness, obedience, love) the moment these are to any degree viewed as the ground of justification, as forming as a whole or in part that righteousness on the ground of which God justifies us; for that is Christ and Christ alone; faith itself is not the ground of justification and thus also neither are the good works which come forth from it.

    RS: I guess I will take the side of the Reformers and the WCF when it views faith as an instrument.

    Chapter XI Of Justification
    II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification:[4] yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.[5]

  14. Posted February 29, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Richard, Calvin was crystal clear compared to Edwards at times. That doesn’t mean Edwards was bad or always wrong. But the ad hoc character of his writings, combined with his speculative thought, means he can be read closely in all sorts of bad ways. It’s a lot harder to do that with Calvin who not only wrote something like a systematic theology, but also wrote a creed, a catechism, and almost interpreted the entire Bible. Calvin rocks. Edwards only tweets.

  15. mcmark
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I was simply quoting Bavinck in the post above. So RS is disagreeing with Bavinck, not with me. Not that there’s anything wrong with disagreeing with Bavinck. Or with me. Or with Edwards

  16. Richard Smith
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, Calvin was crystal clear compared to Edwards at times.

    RS: True enough, but both Calvin’s clarity and Edwards’ “speculative” thought are misinterpreted and then used to slam them. Sometimes an attempt to explain things in a broad context can also be thought of as “speculative” thought.

    D. G. Hart: That doesn’t mean Edwards was bad or always wrong. But the ad hoc character of his writings, combined with his speculative thought, means he can be read closely in all sorts of bad ways. It’s a lot harder to do that with Calvin who not only wrote something like a systematic theology, but also wrote a creed, a catechism, and almost interpreted the entire Bible. Calvin rocks. Edwards only tweets.

    RS: I suppose one could argue that it is a matter of taste, but I still think that Edwards was a step forward from Calvin. In arguing how certain things fit together, that could be seen as speculative. It could also just be seen as wrestling with the deep things of God.

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