. . . why can’t innocence “cause” moral renovation?
Article 9 of the French Confession of Faith (in which Calvin played a large role) affirms: “We believe that man was created pure and perfect in the image of God, and that by his own guilt he fell from the grace which he received, and is thus alienated from God, the fountain of justice and of all good, so that his nature it totally corrupt.”
This assertion, which implies the priority of the forensic to moral degeneracy, only makes sense of the idea that man was created with a good and upright nature. If Adam’s guilt proceeded from corruption then his original nature could not be perfect and pure.
So why is it a problem to talk about a similar relationship between the forensic and the renovative in the remedy for sin, namely, salvation? Why is it wrong to assert that the removal of guilt, the declaration of innocence, causes or results in the removal of corruption?
Of course, the language of causality is a bit rough and simplistic — but no more rough or simplistic as saying that union with Christ “causes” justification and sanctification. Actually, in a monergistic scheme, God is the cause of every part of salvation. But in trying to discern the relationship among the aspects of salvation, asserting the priority of the forensic to the renovative does not appear to be an obvious problem or error. It would seem actually to follow symmetrically from the doctrine of the fall.
This would seem to be the point of the Belgic Confession, Article 24, which says that without justifying faith, men “would never do anything out of love to God.” It also asserts: “For it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works, otherwise they could not be good works any more than the fruit of a tree can be good before the tree itself is good.”
(Disclaimer: this post is not necessarily the view of the NTJ or its editors. What are blogs for?)