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.

116 thoughts on “Hodge on Revival

  1. Do Reformations die out that quickly, or is it just revivals? And do Reformations leave burned out districts, or is that just revivals as well?

    Like

  2. And the tendency of revivalists to discern what God was provoked by and what it caused him to do makes me wonder if they’ve ever read Belgic 13:

    We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.

    Like

  3. Here in the UK, there are similar examples to that of New England. Wales, for instance, has the lowest number of confessing Christians than anywhere else on the British Isles (even less than Scotland). Also Cambuslang (where I happen to work – it’s on the outskirts of Glasgow), has perhaps one or two very small evangelical churches there. The area struggles with gang violence, deprivation, unemployment and drug-abuse. It’s as if it’s become a spiritual scorched earth.

    Like

  4. Nick,
    Your comments make me wonder if someone has studied the long-term effects of Revivalism both on the church and the surrounding culture. If so, does anyone have a book or study to recommend?

    Like

  5. I should add that aside from wreaking spiritual devastation and declining church numbers, the revivals have been great.

    Like

  6. A few verses for you to consider, but these could be multiplied many times over. God can and does make Himself known in the presence of people as He pleases.

    Acts 5:38 “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”

    WCF XXI:III Preayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men; and that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, but the help of his Spirit, according to his will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love and perseverance.

    Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.
    2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
    3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.”
    4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
    5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

    Job 42:5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; 6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.”

    Habakkuk 3:16 I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us.

    Luke 5:8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

    Revelation 1:16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

    Isaiah 29:13 Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,

    Like

  7. Richard,

    Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
    (Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV)

    You are correct, God is free to do what he will amongst his people, but Reformed confessionalists maintain that God’s final word has been given in Christ. So, while he spoke in theophanies to the OT prophets, and would bring periodic periods of renewal to the wayward Israelites, he has now appointed means by which he will speak and mediate the work of his spirit to his people, and that is through the Word preached and read, and the sacraments. The Reformed confessions are explicitly clear on this, and while they do not preclude individual worship or acts of devotion (oaths, fasts, ect.), the obvious locus of God’s work is done in the corporate gathering of his people for worship where the word is read and preached and the sacraments administered, and the prayers of His people are offered in His presence. This is where the Trans-Atlantic revivals of the past centuries consistently departed, as they sough extraordinary and unordained means of grace and spiritual renewal. If God is going to renew his people to deeper devotion and service, which I do believe he has done and can do by his good pleasure, it is always going to take place within the context of the ministry of the church and her officers. This is what happened in the Reformation, and the church should always be seeking reformation according to the Word, but the whole construct of “revival” and the historical baggage it brings isn’t something that I see as good or healthy for the church.

    Like

  8. Richard, huh? Who says God doesn’t reveal himself as he pleases? How is that any argument for revivals? I mean, wouldn’t a Pentecostal believer affirm as much?

    Like

  9. D. G. Hart: Richard, huh? Who says God doesn’t reveal himself as he pleases?

    RS: Those who argue against revival are actually arguing that. God manifests Himself in and through His people as He pleases and He increases His Church in times of revival. Remember, a revival is not the same thing as revivalism. They are far, far apart in meaning.

    D.G. Hart: How is that any argument for revivals?

    RS: In Acts 2 God, so to speak, stepped out of heaven and manfiested Himself through His people. That is pretty much what the older writers refer to when they speak of revival. God brings life to His people and revives them by coming down and opening their eyes to spiritual things. Arguing against revival is to argue that God does not reveal Himself in that way.

    D.G. Hart: I mean, wouldn’t a Pentecostal believer affirm as much?

    RS: They might affirm that in some way, but with a totally different meaning. I mean, after all, they also affirm the sacraments, but they mean something different than you do.

    Like

  10. Jed Paschall: Richard,

    You are correct, God is free to do what he will amongst his people, but Reformed confessionalists maintain that God’s final word has been given in Christ.

    RS: But in true revival it is Christ Who is preached.

    Jed Paschall: So, while he spoke in theophanies to the OT prophets, and would bring periodic periods of renewal to the wayward Israelites, he has now appointed means by which he will speak and mediate the work of his spirit to his people, and that is through the Word preached and read, and the sacraments. The Reformed confessions are explicitly clear on this, and while they do not preclude individual worship or acts of devotion (oaths, fasts, ect.), the obvious locus of God’s work is done in the corporate gathering of his people for worship where the word is read and preached and the sacraments administered, and the prayers of His people are offered in His presence.

    RS: In true revival people, and I am speaking of those primarily in Scotland from a few hundered years ago, they saw that it was around the Lord’s Table that several of these revivals happened. The people were given to prayer and to seeking the Lord for extended periods of time as the time for the Lord’s Supper came. I am not sure how this was so wrong.

    Jed Paschall: This is where the Trans-Atlantic revivals of the past centuries consistently departed, as they sough extraordinary and unordained means of grace and spiritual renewal. If God is going to renew his people to deeper devotion and service, which I do believe he has done and can do by his good pleasure, it is always going to take place within the context of the ministry of the church and her officers.

    RS: But this is what happened in the older revivals. A revival, by definition, is done in the context of the people of God. During true revivals the Word of God is preched more often and with greater power. People are given to prayer and prayer meetings become almost a daily practice and the people are fervent in prayer.

    Jed Paschall: This is what happened in the Reformation, and the church should always be seeking reformation according to the Word, but the whole construct of “revival” and the historical baggage it brings isn’t something that I see as good or healthy for the church.

    RS: Perhaps you have not read of the older revivals that occured in Scotland and Ireland as well as England. Even if you want to dismiss all that has happened in the US and even in England, surely the ones in Scotland and Ireland must be taken seriously.

    During the Reformation Luther and Calvin had to almost completely step outside of the “Church” as it was known in their day and return to even older days. I still think you are arguing for the most part against revivalism rather than revival. Of course the modern concept of revivalism is unbiblical and even anti-biblical. But even in the NT we see the apostles going out and preaching to people who were not in a local church. In the NT, at least after I Corinthians, we don’t see the apostles even mentioning the Lord’s Supper and baptism was just mentioned a few times as well. The focus was on preaching the Word of God and that it must come in the power and Spirit of God. In true revival it is preaching the Word of God and it comes in the power and Spirit of God.

    In most revivals it was where the local church begin to pray and seek the Lord for Him to come and revive the church. In the past it was the church that was thought that needed to be revived because people had become so used to the ordinary that they were more or less going through the motions. The people needed God to come down to His temple and open their eyes and show them Himself. There were some who would go from church to church and preach. There were others that went out among the people where there were no churches, but that is what Paul did as well. When the people did not come to the church, men like Whitefield went to them. Why is that such an ecclesiastical crime? Preaching, whether in the great outdoors or in a building is always the ordained way that God uses to bring people to Himself. Preaching the Word of God in a Christ-centered way is His ordained way. So when I hear folks amusing themselves by pounding at revival, I know that true revival is build around the true preaching of the Word of God and I hear people basically slamming an intensified form of preaching and prayer.

    In 1994 Ian Murray had published REVIVAL & REVIVALISM, The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858. In that work he documents what he thinks of as the emergence of Revivalism. Part of that emergence of Revivalism is connected with what he calls the emergence of emotionalism. I think that is what you are arguing against rather than the biblical forms of revival.

    I have many books on revival, but I abhor revivalism. They are two distinct things. One of the books I have is from a group of the lectures of Scottish ministers from the 1800’s. They gave lectures on the importance of preaching, of preaching Christ, of holiness and things like that in seeking revival. Another book I have is on New England revivals. It is the letters of ministers who told what had happened in the churches they were ministers of and some in the towns they lived in. In this we see how revival also works as awakenings to the lost and unconverted. These men, in account after account, spoke of how God came among them and how the people in the church were revived though some were converted. They spoke of the awakening of the towns in some cases. But in case after case they spoke of how people were added to the church during these times.

    True revival is not against preaching, but if for more preaching. True revival is not against corporate prayer, but is for more and more of it. True revival is not against the sacraments, but God has used those times to revive His people. One point should be made that in Scotland they would only have the Supper twice a year, but they would have a week of services leading up to it. They stressed humilation of soul and a searching of the soul for a proper partaking of it. The church was almost always at the center of these old revivals. They were seen as the gracious visitations of the Spirit of God.

    Like

  11. Richard, you are attributing to revival a status not given it in Scripture or in the church’s creeds. You are using it in a technical, theological way. But it is a view that has not been affirmed by any ecclesiastical body. It works like this, everything you think is a powerful demonstration of God’s grace, you call revival. I call it a powerful demonstration of God’s grace, and I also notice that with these powerful demonstrations come a lot of human efforts and bizarre behavior that is unbecoming godliness. I won’t call it revival because the Bible doesn’t require me to call it such. I am surprised that you insist on calling it a revival when these outpourings include so much stuff that conflicts with God’s word.

    Like

  12. Richard, your view of the history of revivals does not account for Whitefield’s mixed audiences and indiscriminate preaching without the approval of local pastors. I don’t believe Edwards ever called him on that. I know the Tennents welcomed Whitefield’s violation of church order.

    Plus, every time you see a good thing happen, you call it revival. What I call a church plant or the formation of a presbytery, you call revival. This isn’t fair when you get to define and use the words. It’s communist.

    Like

  13. D. G. Hart: Richard, you are attributing to revival a status not given it in Scripture or in the church’s creeds.

    RS: But it is in Scripture. God revives His people in Scripture and that is what a revival is.

    D. G. Hart: You are using it in a technical, theological way. But it is a view that has not been affirmed by any ecclesiastical body.

    RS: As long as ecclesiastical bodies affirm the Bible, the presence of God, and that God can be known in a deeper way, they are not against biblical revivals.

    D. G. Hart: It works like this, everything you think is a powerful demonstration of God’s grace, you call revival. I call it a powerful demonstration of God’s grace, and I also notice that with these powerful demonstrations come a lot of human efforts and bizarre behavior that is unbecoming godliness.

    RS: True churches are powerful demonstrations of God’s grace. However, in some that call themselves there are a lot of human efforts and bizzare behavior that is unbecoming godliness. In other words, bad and unbiblical behavior that goes underneath a name does not destroy the fact that there are biblical activites going on that use the same name.

    D. G. Hart: I won’t call it revival because the Bible doesn’t require me to call it such. I am surprised that you insist on calling it a revival when these outpourings include so much stuff that conflicts with God’s word.

    RS: But Scripture does speak of God reviving His people and of Him bringing life to His people. Indeed there is a revivalism that is far from being biblical, but that does not mean that the historical use of the word should be dropped. After all, there has been a whole lot more abuse of the word “church” and you still want to use it.

    Like

  14. D. G. Hart: Richard, your view of the history of revivals does not account for Whitefield’s mixed audiences and indiscriminate preaching without the approval of local pastors. I don’t believe Edwards ever called him on that. I know the Tennents welcomed Whitefield’s violation of church order.

    RS: A church that does not preach the Gospel is not a church at all. If Whitefield violated the order of such “churches” in his day, that is not a problem in my eyes. More importantly, it does not seem to violate the activites of the apostles and evangelists in the Bible.

    D.G. Hart: Plus, every time you see a good thing happen, you call it revival. What I call a church plant or the formation of a presbytery, you call revival.

    RS: I do not call every church plant or the formation of a presbytery a revival, nor do I attribute all good things that happen to revival.

    D.G. Hart: This isn’t fair when you get to define and use the words. It’s communist.

    RS: I was under the impression that I was simply using the word “revival” as it has been used in church history, though not by all and certainly not by all today. However, it is just for me to use the word that has been used so often by Reformed men in church history. For using the word as it has been used for hundreds of years I am now a communist. I do own a copy of The Communist Manifesto, but I am not sure either it or Karl Marx would define or think that I am a communist for using such a God-centered and biblical word as “revival” in our day.
    Psalm 85:6 Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You?

    Like

  15. Richard, I’ll give you credit, you have an air-tight w-v- (mind like a steel trap), but let me see if I can complicate your brain. Were John Wesley’s revivals revivals? Since he was not Calvinistic, do you give him credit? If so, then what’s up with your Calvinism (and Edwards)? If not, then sometimes revivals happen that aren’t revivals. Who then becomes the revival police? At least in the church we have creeds, polities and worship and we can tell who is of like faith and practice. For you, your criteria are pretty much of your own making (hence arbitrary and dependent on your own reading of the Bible).

    Like

  16. Richard, Communist = dictatorial.

    A further complication, Finney used the word revival, not “revivalism.” Who gets to say his revival was illegitimate and the ones you favor are good? Talk about cherry picking.

    Like

  17. D. G. Hart: Richard, Communist = dictatorial.

    RS: Why do you get to define the word “communist” and the common use is denied?

    D. G. Hart: A further complication, Finney used the word revival, not “revivalism.” Who gets to say his revival was illegitimate and the ones you favor are good? Talk about cherry picking.

    RS: He thought he was taking revival and making it more biblical by changing the methodology to fit is pelagian theology, though he might not have admitted what he had done. Asahel Nettleton simply abhorred what Finney had done and predicted what would happen if Finney’s tactics were adopted. I never pick cherries. I don’t like them and they are the pits.

    Like

  18. D. G. Hart: Richard, I’ll give you credit, you have an air-tight w-v- (mind like a steel trap), but let me see if I can complicate your brain.

    RS: I get it. I am simple-minded.

    D. G. Hart: Were John Wesley’s revivals revivals? Since he was not Calvinistic, do you give him credit?

    RS: I don’t think of Wesley as leading in true revivals, but I would also not argue that God can work through men that while their theology is off, at least they can preach enough truth for God to pierce the hearts of those listening. I tend to think that Toplady was rather accurate concerning Wesley.

    D. G. Hart: If so, then what’s up with your Calvinism (and Edwards)? If not, then sometimes revivals happen that aren’t revivals.

    RS: Remember, there is such a thing as revivalism and the methods of revivalism are humanistic and do not produce true revivals. Using your logic here in an analogical way, since not all that call themselves churches are really churches, then all churches that call themselves churches are not churches.

    D. G. Hart: Who then becomes the revival police?

    RS: No need to call the police. But there are plenty of Scriptures and of history for the churches to examine these things by. By the way, where are the church police?

    D. G. Hart: At least in the church we have creeds, polities and worship and we can tell who is of like faith and practice. For you, your criteria are pretty much of your own making (hence arbitrary and dependent on your own reading of the Bible).

    RS: But the church is to be always reforming which at the very least tells us that more reformation needs to be done after the Reformation. The creeds themselves tell us that the Bible is the final authority. As for me and my Bible, my reading is not arbitrary at all. I do listen to many in church history and I also use the creeds, but I don’t follow the creeds blindly. I recognize that each creed was written for specific purposes and in certain historical contexts. They do not claim to be the final authority either. As far as that goes, neither Luther or Calvin claimed to be the final authority. They would point you to Scripture as well.
    Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.

    Like

  19. I guess I have a two part question. One, does the Holy Spirit of truth cause these “revivals” to happen without any true gospel? Two, which part of what Wesley taught is the gospel?

    I quote John Wesley: “The doctrine of predestination is not of God, because it makes void the ordinance of God; and directly tends to destroy holiness which is the end of all the ordinances of God. This doctrine tends to destroy the comfort of religion, the happiness of Christianity… This uncomfortable doctrine directly tends to destroy our zeal for good works. … What would an infidel desire more? It overturns God’s justice, mercy, and truth; yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust. … This is the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination! And here I fix my foot. (7:384)

    Wesley: Q. 74. What is the direct antidote to Methodism, the doctrine of heart-holiness? A. Calvinism: All the devices of Satan, for these fifty years, have done far less toward stopping this work of God, than that single doctrine… Be diligent to guard these tender minds against the predestinarian poison. (8:336)

    Wesley: “I defy any man living, who asserts the unconditional decree, to reconcile this with the scriptural doctrine of a future judgment. I say again, I defy any man on earth to show, how, on
    this scheme, God can “judge the world in righteousness.” (10:374)

    Wesley: “I do not believe salvation by works. Yet if any man can prove (what I judge none ever did, or ever will) that there is no medium between this and absolute predestination; I will rather subscribe to this than to that, as far less absurd of the two. (10:379)

    Yet Mr Wesley also claims to have made a judgment that “experience” was more important false doctrine, so that God in “sovereignty” would use even false gospel to bring sinners to salvation.

    Wesley: “Men may differ from us in their opinions, as well as their expressions, and nevertheless be partakers with us of the same precious faith. It is possible they may not have a distinct
    apprehension of the very blessing which they enjoy: Their ideas may not be so clear, and yet their experience may be as sound as ours. … Though their opinions, as well as expressions, may be
    confused and inaccurate, their hearts may cleave to God through the Son of his love.. And who that knows it can expect, suppose, a member of the Church of Rome, either to think or speak clearly on this subject? And yet, if we heard even dying Bellarmine cry out, “It is safest to trust in the merits of Christ;” would we have affirmed that, notwithstanding his wrong opinions, he had no share in His
    righteousness?”

    Wesley: “It is well known that Mr. William Law absolutely and zealously denied the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, as also Robert Barclay, who scruples not to say, “Imputed
    righteousness! – imputed nonsense!”. Nay, the generality of those who profess themselves members of the Church of England are either totally ignorant of the matter, and know nothing about imputed
    righteousness, or deny this and justification by faith together, as destructive of good works.. But will any one dare to affirm that all such Mystics are void of all Christian experience? – that,
    consequently, they are “without hope, without God in the world?” (5:238-243)

    Like

  20. RS: In true revival people, and I am speaking of those primarily in Scotland from a few hundered years ago, they saw that it was around the Lord’s Table that several of these revivals happened. The people were given to prayer and to seeking the Lord for extended periods of time as the time for the Lord’s Supper came. I am not sure how this was so wrong.

    BL: Where in the NT institutions of the Lord’s Supper (Christ or Paul or Acts) or the Reformed Confessions do we get any indication that the efficacy of the sacrament lies in “extended periods of time” in preparation?

    [OK, if you come back with something from WCF, I’ll probably retreat to the Three Forms, and thumb my nose at all the Presbyterians on the list.]

    Like

  21. Richard, if not revival police, how about revival clergy? Wesley and Finney thought they were leading revivals. Along comes Richard and he says no, they weren’t revivals. Sorry Richard, but I don’t know of an Association of Revival Authenticators. It’s looking pretty arbitrary. The church police, btw, are elders. We do have mechanisms in the church for determining what is true and what isn’t. And for what it’s worth, Presbyterians believe that churches are more or less pure. We don’t resort to distinctions between church and churchism. Pretty bogus.

    I was beginning to admire your tenacity. But you really think Communism is not dictatorial? Lots of dead people would prove otherwise.

    Like

  22. D. G. Hart: Richard, if not revival police, how about revival clergy? Wesley and Finney thought they were leading revivals. Along comes Richard and he says no, they weren’t revivals.

    RS: Well, there may be a bit of a background for that. One, Finney was a Pelagian and Pelagianism is not Christianity. The priests of Baal could dance and sing and get virtually a whole nation to follow them, but that was not a revival of the Spirit in true godliness. If Toplady was correct, then Wesley was certainly far from a godly man and God does not use men who are not godly to bring forth true revivals.. If you really want to call what Finney had a revival, I guess we could call it a revival of Pelagianism.

    D.G. Hart: Sorry Richard, but I don’t know of an Association of Revival Authenticators. It’s looking pretty arbitrary. The church police, btw, are elders. We do have mechanisms in the church for determining what is true and what isn’t. And for what it’s worth, Presbyterians believe that churches are more or less pure. We don’t resort to distinctions between church and churchism. Pretty bogus.

    RS: Bogus? If a church does not preach the Gospel, it is not a church.

    D.G. Hart: I was beginning to admire your tenacity. But you really think Communism is not dictatorial? Lots of dead people would prove otherwise.

    RS: My attempt was to show that while you think that I simply come up with my own ideas of what revival is (though I would disagree and think that I am simply following the history of the Church), you were coming up with your own idea of Communism. While Communism is dictatorial, that is not all that the concept means.

    Like

  23. mark mcculley: I guess I have a two part question. One, does the Holy Spirit of truth cause these “revivals” to happen without any true gospel?

    RS: No

    mark mcculley: Two, which part of what Wesley taught is the gospel?

    RS: I would not argue that he taught the true Gospel.

    Like

  24. Brian Lee:, quoting RS: In true revival people, and I am speaking of those primarily in Scotland from a few hundered years ago, they saw that it was around the Lord’s Table that several of these revivals happened. The people were given to prayer and to seeking the Lord for extended periods of time as the time for the Lord’s Supper came. I am not sure how this was so wrong.

    BL: Where in the NT institutions of the Lord’s Supper (Christ or Paul or Acts) or the Reformed Confessions do we get any indication that the efficacy of the sacrament lies in “extended periods of time” in preparation?

    RS: I would not argue in the efficacy of the sacrament at all nor would I argue that there is any efficacy in extended times of preparation. I am simply saying that the way they did that in Scotland and Ireland in times past was to have a visiting minister come and have several days preparation for the sacrament. They did believe that there should be humbling of the soul before they took the Supper, which is what Scripture teaches. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

    BL: [OK, if you come back with something from WCF, I’ll probably retreat to the Three Forms, and thumb my nose at all the Presbyterians on the list.]

    RS: Belgic Confession, Article 35: We receive this holy sacrament in the assembly of the people of God with humility and reverence…Therefore no one out to come to this table without having previously examined himself.

    The Heidelbert Catechism: Q. 81: For whom is the Lord’s Supper instituted?
    A. For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that they are forgiven them for the sake of Christ…and who earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy.

    Like

  25. Brian,

    Maybe you should send Richard a copy of your article in the Nov/Dec issue of Modern Reformation magazine- “The Spirit of Christ and the Apostolic Age.” I highly doubt he reads and interprets 1John the way you did in the article. I just read it yesterday and it opened my eyes to a lot of things I have not seen before when reading that troubling book which always makes me very uncomfortable.

    Like

  26. D.G. Hart: Makes me wonder what happened to Phebe once she turned 24.

    RS: Maybe she died at 5 or 6 and was a great light to those around her for her short life. But what happened to Princeton despite all their “great” men who were too rational for revival? Oh, it went into rationalism and liberalism. Revival teaching that stresses revival without God becomes revivalism. Rational teaching that stresses theology and rationality without God becomes rationalism and liberalism. In other words, it is not the teachings of true revival that leads to revivalism, but rather it is man-centeredness trying to push for revival without God that does. It is not being rational that leads to rationalism and liberalism, but it is when the true God and true hearts for God are removed from rational thinking that rationalism and liberalism are the result. The withdraw of God from true revival leaves us with men striving for revival in man-centered ways that leads to revivalism. The withdraw of God from rational thinking at Princeton left us with men striving to be rational in man-centered ways that led to rationalism and liberalism.

    Like

  27. John Yeazel: Brian, Maybe you should send Richard a copy of your article in the Nov/Dec issue of Modern Reformation magazine- “The Spirit of Christ and the Apostolic Age.” I highly doubt he reads and interprets 1John the way you did in the article. I just read it yesterday and it opened my eyes to a lot of things I have not seen before when reading that troubling book which always makes me very uncomfortable.

    RS: Read it. You are right, I don’t interpret I John the same way.
    1 John 4:16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for [in] us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

    Like

  28. Richard, in case you forgot, Jonah was not the best of theologians or most faithful believer but God used him to lead Ninevah to repentance.

    But now your plot becomes thicker. We need not only to evaluate the effects in Phebe, but we need to know the character of the evangelist, plus we need to know his teaching. You know, Reformed churches already do this and the Old Side Presbyterians and the Associate Presbyterians in Scotland found the First Great Pretty Good Awakening suspect. Their theology was good. So now how do you explain that?

    Like

  29. Richard, on man-centeredness, this is one of my chief objections to Edwards. He looks at Phebe and tells me in Religious Affections to look to myself to see if I am truly saved. That is quicksand. Maybe all that true virtue and love of being in general stuff did give rise to Finney. Give me Luther any day, he gives me not (all about) me but God revealed in Christ.

    BTW, Old Princeton went into Machen and the OPC. The concern for right doctrine and the church lives. Granted, it’s not as sexy as claiming the most brilliant mind ever to grace the North American soil. But then again, Edwards’ legacy in the Connecticut River Valley is nothing to write heaven about.

    Like

  30. D. G. Hart: Richard, in case you forgot, Jonah was not the best of theologians or most faithful believer but God used him to lead Ninevah to repentance.

    RS: I am not ready to denigrate Jonah quite so quickly. Personally, I think he was a whale of a theologian. He did not want God to grant repentance to the nation that had been so cruel to Israel.

    D. G. Hart: But now your plot becomes thicker. We need not only to evaluate the effects in Phebe, but we need to know the character of the evangelist, plus we need to know his teaching. You know, Reformed churches already do this and the Old Side Presbyterians and the Associate Presbyterians in Scotland found the First Great Pretty Good Awakening suspect. Their theology was good. So now how do you explain that?

    RS: I explain that by simply saying that there were many in Scotland who were trying to get Edwards to come over there after his dismissal. Many in the awakening in Scotland would read the letters of Edwards to their congregations hoping that the fire from heaven would ignite where they were. So I suppose there were some ole fuddy duddies over there like there are over here now, but he was widely read in Scotland.

    Like

  31. D. G. Hart: Richard, on man-centeredness, this is one of my chief objections to Edwards. He looks at Phebe and tells me in Religious Affections to look to myself to see if I am truly saved.

    RS: But, if you don’t mind my arrogance, I think you may have some misunderstanding there. The position is not that one looks at themselves as the object of focus, but to see if the grace of God is working. Each person in the world is evidence of God in some way. He is hardening some, and that is evidence of the work of God. He is softening some and manifesting His glory through them.

    Allow me to quote that bad man Edwards here, but for the sake of showing something of what he was getting at. By the way, this is also the point where Piper goes far astray on Edwards as well: “With respect also to the creature’s holiness; God may have a proper delight and joy in imparting this to the creature, as gratifying hereby his inclination to communicate of his own excellent fulness. God may delight, with true and great pleasure, in beholding that glory which is an image and communication of his own beauty, and expression and manfiestation of his own loveliness. And this is so far from being an instance of his happiness not being in and from himself, that it is an evidence that he is happy in himself, or delights and has pleasure in his own beauty.

    “If he did not take pleasure in the expression of his own beauty, it would rather be an evidence that he does not delight in his own beauty, that he hath not his happiness and enjoyment in his own beauty and perfection. So that if we suppose God has real pleasure and happiness in the holy love and praise of his saints, as the image and communication of his own holiness, it is not properly any pleasure distinct from the pleasure he hs in himself, but it is truly an instance of it.

    “Though he has real pleasure in the creature’s holiness and happiness, yet this is not properly any pleasure which he receives from the creature. For these things are what he gives the creature. They are wholly and entirely from him. His rejoicing therein is reather a rejoicing in his own acts and his own glory expressed in those acts, than a joy derived from the creature. God’s joy is dependent on nothing besides his own act, which he exerts with an absolute and independent power.”

    D. G. Hart: That is quicksand. Maybe all that true virtue and love of being in general stuff did give rise to Finney.

    RS: You don’t have to get so nasty about it. Love of being in general is simply a phrase that is an attempt to take the two greatest commands and show how they are related. True virtue is simply love for God rather than self. Finney does not belong in the same…

    paragraph with Edwards, much less in the same sentence. I can understand why liberals hate Edwards, but not those who love the sovereignty of God on display in the world.

    D. G. Hart: Give me Luther any day, he gives me not (all about) me but God revealed in Christ.

    RS: Ah, but Edwards is very much about God revealed in Christ who manifests His glory in and through His people.

    D. G. Hart: BTW, Old Princeton went into Machen and the OPC. The concern for right doctrine and the church lives. Granted, it’s not as sexy as claiming the most brilliant mind ever to grace the North American soil. But then again, Edwards’ legacy in the Connecticut River Valley is nothing to write heaven about.

    RS: Old Princeton did not really survive in the OPC, though assuredly you will point out that that is my opinion. I have not seen the likes of the Hodges, Alexanders, or Warfield rise up. I say that in terms of theolgy, godliness, and spiritual power. You are correct that there is no need to write about Edwards’ legacy to heaven, it already knows. After all, it was God Himself being manifested there and it was God who did all the real work.

    Like

  32. Richard,

    In reference to the Edwards quote, I would like to know how Edwards knew how God thought about individual believers. Was he able to peer into the mind of the Almighty and know things about the secret counsels of God? The following is what A.A. Hodge had to say about Edwards: “President Edwards was always brimming over with ideas of his own, which stood in need of regulating.” (page 85 in a footnote- Scott Clark’s RECOVERING THE REFORMED CONFESSION)

    I thought I remember reading in Clark’s book that Edwards was put under formal discipline for some of his questionable theology by those at Princeton’s theological seminary. However, I could not find it there.

    Like

  33. There was a time in my life when I was reading a lot of RC Sproul, John Gerstner and as a result, much of Jonathan Edwards. My final conclusion was the same one that Pastor Henderson (the Pastor from Australia who commented early in these posts) came to when he was a disgruntled Anglican looking for a new church to attend among the Reformed. He read one of Gerstner’s book on Edwards the Evangelist and decided to become a Lutheran instead.

    Like

  34. Richard, the point is that folks in Scotland and America who were orthodox saw great error in Whitefield’s revivals. Edwards did not. Edwards then was not infallible, about Whitefield and even about Phebe.

    Like

  35. Richard, if replicating Hodge et al is the standard, then the New Divinity is surely suspect. I’ll take the OPC over eighteenth-century New England Congregationalism any day. I doubt you’d even defend the New Divinity over the OPC. (Please don’t forget Machen, Van Til, Murray, and Young.)

    When are you going to get over your man crush on Edwards?

    Like

  36. John Y., Princeton Seminary did not start until 1812. They could not lay a glove on Edwards, though Hodge was critical of the First Pretty Good Awakening, and Warfield had some innings with Edwards.

    Like

  37. I am also not sure how God could take delight in us in our simul iestus et peccator state- I imagine it is much like how we look at the homeless in any local “skid row” or perhaps serial killers. I was under the impression that God looked upon us believer’s as having Christ’s righteousness imputed to us and that is why he tolerates us.

    Like

  38. I know a young drug addict who became a Jehovah Witness who completely changed from a life in drugs into a hard worker. And he felt great about “what works for me”. If a life-changing experience results from faith in a false gospel, how can what we claim God is doing in us is evidence of faith in a true gospel? Even on the inside, I am not like that tax-collecter, and god I have you to thank for that.

    The practical syllogism of Jonathan Edwards and other neo-puritans always needs to reject and suppress two simple questions. 1. How much internal and emotional transformation is enough so that your claim to be proven saved because of how you’ve changed is not self-righteousness? I have encountered some who suggest that even asking the “how much” question is a sign of rebellion.

    2. How can you have any assurance now, when in the future you may stop experiencing (as much) as you have now been feeling for so long? This insecurity motivates revivalist evangelicals to all sorts of “dead works”.

    One good book to read to begin to understand the dangers of Edwards’ practical syllogism is Bozeman’s The Precisionist Strain: Disciplinary Religion and Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638

    Like

  39. John Yeazel: There was a time in my life when I was reading a lot of RC Sproul, John Gerstner and as a result, much of Jonathan Edwards. My final conclusion was the same one that Pastor Henderson (the Pastor from Australia who commented early in these posts) came to when he was a disgruntled Anglican looking for a new church to attend among the Reformed. He read one of Gerstner’s book on Edwards the Evangelist and decided to become a Lutheran instead.

    RS: I heard about a rich man that asked what he could do to obtain eternal life. He was told to keep the commandments, but he thought that he had kept those. When he was told to sell all he had and give that to the poor, he went away very sad. He decided that he did not like what he heard. The fact that the man became a Lutheran after reading Gerstner’s book on Edwards does not negate the truth of what Gerstner said. It just says that the man did not like what appeared to be too hard and decided on something easier.

    Like

  40. D. G. Hart: Richard, the point is that folks in Scotland and America who were orthodox saw great error in Whitefield’s revivals. Edwards did not. Edwards then was not infallible, about Whitefield and even about Phebe.

    RS: There were also many orthodox who loved Whitefield in Scotland and America. No person, orthodox or not, is infallible. It is perfectly understandable that many who were dead and orthodox did not like their orthodoxy with life, and it is perfectly understandable that some who were orthodox misunderstood what was going on. It is not surprising that some did not like Whitefield, but it is not infallible proof that Whitefield was wrong in all ways and at all times. For what it was worth, Edwards did speak to Whitefield about some of his excesses. Later on Whitefield did come to see that as true. He (GW) did seem to be a bit too proud in his youth, which could be why some didn’t like him.

    Like

  41. John Yeazel: Richard, In reference to the Edwards quote, I would like to know how Edwards knew how God thought about individual believers. Was he able to peer into the mind of the Almighty and know things about the secret counsels of God?

    RS: What God has revealed, He has revealed.

    John Yeazel: The following is what A.A. Hodge had to say about Edwards: “President Edwards was always brimming over with ideas of his own, which stood in need of regulating.” (page 85 in a footnote- Scott Clark’s RECOVERING THE REFORMED CONFESSION)

    RS: Of course “ideas of his own” may simply mean those things that A.A. Hodge misunderstood about Edwards, or perhaps there is a larger context of the statement. I would imagine that would be almost the same words (diferent language) that the Rabbis were saying about Jesus and then Paul.

    John Yeazel: I thought I remember reading in Clark’s book that Edwards was put under formal discipline for some of his questionable theology by those at Princeton’s theological seminary. However, I could not find it there.

    RS: I don’t think that Princeton had any reason or any right to put Edwards under discipline. In reading what Clark had to say, though what I am about to say may sound arrogant, he would have been better off spending time trying to understand Edwards himself rather than just reading what others said about him.

    Like

  42. D. G. Hart: Richard, if replicating Hodge et al is the standard, then the New Divinity is surely suspect.

    RS: My point was not that they needed replicating, but that in slamming Edwards for what happened 75-100 years after his death is not a good practice and one would not want to apply that to many other cases.

    D. G. Hart: I’ll take the OPC over eighteenth-century New England Congregationalism any day. I doubt you’d even defend the New Divinity over the OPC. (Please don’t forget Machen, Van Til, Murray, and Young.)

    RS: Not forgotten, but still…

    D. G. Hart: When are you going to get over your man crush on Edwards?

    RS: I can only hope my heart will never be broken from its crush on Edwards. Instead of brimming with his own ideas (Clark quoting A.A. Hodge), he was thinking the thoughts of God. Indeed he put them differently than people are comfortable with and than many will take the time to try and understand, but still he lived in the presence of God and spoke and wrote. Infallible, not. Saturated with God and His glory, yes.

    Like

  43. John Yeazel: I am also not sure how God could take delight in us in our simul iestus et peccator state- I imagine it is much like how we look at the homeless in any local “skid row” or perhaps serial killers. I was under the impression that God looked upon us believer’s as having Christ’s righteousness imputed to us and that is why he tolerates us.

    RS: This is why union with Christ is so necessary. God looks upon His children as married to Christ.
    Col 3:3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
    4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

    Like

  44. John Yeazel: Darryl, I think you were more correct in one of your earlier posts- it is a lot more severe than a man crush!

    RS: Not more severe, but more wonderful.

    Like

  45. mark mcculley: I know a young drug addict who became a Jehovah Witness who completely changed from a life in drugs into a hard worker. And he felt great about “what works for me”. If a life-changing experience results from faith in a false gospel, how can what we claim God is doing in us is evidence of faith in a true gospel? Even on the inside, I am not like that tax-collecter, and god I have you to thank for that.

    The practical syllogism of Jonathan Edwards and other neo-puritans always needs to reject and suppress two simple questions. 1. How much internal and emotional transformation is enough so that your claim to be proven saved because of how you’ve changed is not self-righteousness? I have encountered some who suggest that even asking the “how much” question is a sign of rebellion.

    2. How can you have any assurance now, when in the future you may stop experiencing (as much) as you have now been feeling for so long? This insecurity motivates revivalist evangelicals to all sorts of “dead works”.

    One good book to read to begin to understand the dangers of Edwards’ practical syllogism is Bozeman’s The Precisionist Strain: Disciplinary Religion and Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638

    RS: The best books to understand Edwards are the Bible and those written by Edwards. I can find writers galore slamming anybody you want slammed. Perhaps the best example is that of those who slam the Bible, and the second example are those who slam Calvin. Criticizing writers and theologians is a great way for slander and gossip to occur and appear scholarly. Primary sources are the best way, and at times the only way to really understand what an author means. Sure enough you can find people who blast Edwards, but that is a different thing than finding writers who understands what they are blasting. Several years ago (okay, 15 or so) I was reading some of Charles Hodge’s criticism of Edwards. Yes, more arrogance on my part to come. I was amazed that Hodge did not take the time to really understand what Edwards had written before he criticized it. Okay, my “man crush” is ready to be revealed.

    It has been said that what you say about classical music judges you rather than you standing in judgment on it. I say the same about Edwards, though I would qualify that some. But people should at least try to read the man’s writings and make the effort to realize what he was really saying rather than simply quote what another said and then blast away based on that.

    Like

  46. mark mcculley:

    The practical syllogism of Jonathan Edwards and other neo-puritans always needs to reject and suppress two simple questions. 1. How much internal and emotional transformation is enough so that your claim to be proven saved because of how you’ve changed is not self-righteousness? I have encountered some who suggest that even asking the “how much” question is a sign of rebellion.

    2. How can you have any assurance now, when in the future you may stop experiencing (as much) as you have now been feeling for so long? This insecurity motivates revivalist evangelicals to all sorts of “dead works”.

    RS: The above “syllogism” is simply beside the point and does not get at what Edwards is really meaning.

    Like

  47. Richard, from “The last true gospel awakening, from which we are still receiving benefits, was in the 18th century” to making the common yet no less tortured distinction between “heaven-sent revivals” and “man-centered revivals” to “authentic revival not only brings ‘no-spin’ confession of sin but also heart-felt repentance that reveals a passionate desire to assassinate sin intentionally and pursue holiness passionately…revival brings the unembarrassed manifestation of brokenness and the unabashed excitement of victory in Christ over sin” (insert pause here to regain breath from high octane nouns and verbs and adverbs), my guess is that you’d relish Harry Reeder’s latest little pro-revival piece in Tabletalk.

    But the most curious part of “Heaven-Sent revivals” is this: “Often we see remarkable athletic achievement o the field of competition, but we do not see the hours of devoted, disciplined commitment on the practice field preceding the moment of glory. Likewise, when we have seen revival in history and Scripture, we didn’t see the days, months, years, and even decades of faithful leadership, gospel preaching, intercessory prayer, and God-centered worship before the glorious revival outbreak.”

    Huh? Like all reevahvaalism does, this seems to set up a false dichotomy between ordinary faithfulness and revival. Years of faithfulness will be paid off with some extraordinary season of glory. How is this not bald-faced Corinthianism? Do you guys ever consider that years of faithful preaching, leadership and doxology IS the end in and of itself? Do you ever consider that this way of setting things up is the Calvinist version of prosperity gospel?

    Like

  48. RS said: ” The fact that the man became a Lutheran after reading Gerstner’s book on Edwards does not negate the truth of what Gerstner said. It just says that the man did not like what appeared to be too hard and decided on something easier.”

    John Y: If it all depends on grace Richard it does not matter if it is hard or easy. God will get his elect even while they are resisting (this is how God gets all of us)- although some Lutherans do believe you can resist the grace of God. Let me try a Mark McCulley on the unflappable as Zrim, Richard; does legal and forensic imputation preceed regeneration and faith or does regeneration and faith preceed your idea of union with Christ?

    Like

  49. I think we have been over this before but I think your idea of union with Christ and the idea of forensic and legal union are at odds with each other.

    Something I have always been confused about are the scripture passages which seem to indicate that there is something inside of some people which God is pleased with. Like when it says Noah found favor with the Lord, David was a man after God’s own heart and Moses pleased God and walked with Him. At first glace thise seems like we can do things and have attitudes which are pleasing to God. I think this is similar to distinguishing between what scripture passages are dealing with the Law and which ones are dealing with the Gospel. Needless to say, it easily gets very confusing without proper guidance into how to read and interpret the scriptures properly and accurately.

    Like

  50. Zrim: Richard, from “The last true gospel awakening, from which we are still receiving benefits, was in the 18th century” to making the common yet no less tortured distinction between “heaven-sent revivals” and “man-centered revivals” to “authentic revival not only brings ‘no-spin’ confession of sin but also heart-felt repentance that reveals a passionate desire to assassinate sin intentionally and pursue holiness passionately…revival brings the unembarrassed manifestation of brokenness and the unabashed excitement of victory in Christ over sin” (insert pause here to regain breath from high octane nouns and verbs and adverbs), my guess is that you’d relish Harry Reeder’s latest little pro-revival piece in Tabletalk.

    RS: Perhaps, but again there is a distinction between revival and revivalism. People use language in an effort to make the distinction, and somethimes they go a bit over the top.

    Zrim: But the most curious part of “Heaven-Sent revivals” is this: “Often we see remarkable athletic achievement o the field of competition, but we do not see the hours of devoted, disciplined commitment on the practice field preceding the moment of glory. Likewise, when we have seen revival in history and Scripture, we didn’t see the days, months, years, and even decades of faithful leadership, gospel preaching, intercessory prayer, and God-centered worship before the glorious revival outbreak.”

    Huh? Like all reevahvaalism does, this seems to set up a false dichotomy between ordinary faithfulness and revival.

    RS: Maybe I am misreading it, but it seems to be setting out that one only sees part of it and what they don’t see is all the things that went before. In other words, it seems to be encouraging faithfulness.

    Zrim: Years of faithfulness will be paid off with some extraordinary season of glory. How is this not bald-faced Corinthianism?

    RS: Because the object of all the seeking is a love for God and His glory and revival is when one has more love for God and is enabled to behold His glory being manifested.

    Zrim: Do you guys ever consider that years of faithful preaching, leadership and doxology IS the end in and of itself?

    RS: No, not in the slightest. The end must always be the glory of God in all that one does. Being faithful in preaching is not an end in and of itself, because one is to preach Christ and Him crucifed.

    Zrim: Do you ever consider that this way of setting things up is the Calvinist version of prosperity gospel?

    RS: Actually, it is, but in a good way. It is soul prosperity.
    3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.

    Like

  51. John Y: If it all depends on grace Richard it does not matter if it is hard or easy. God will get his elect even while they are resisting (this is how God gets all of us)- although some Lutherans do believe you can resist the grace of God. Let me try a Mark McCulley on the unflappable as Zrim, Richard; does legal and forensic imputation preceed regeneration and faith or does regeneration and faith preceed your idea of union with Christ?

    RS: Regeneration logically precedes faith, so faith logically precedes union with Christ. I will not argue what happens chronologically, since it would seem that a regenerate soul must have faith and faith must have Christ.

    Like

  52. John Yeazel: I think we have been over this before but I think your idea of union with Christ and the idea of forensic and legal union are at odds with each other.

    RS: Not really, they fit together in harmony, beauty, and peace. The soul that is married to Christ and united to Christ is in Christ and Christ is in that soul. They are in true union and as such are legally one. Because the soul that is married to Christ is one with Christ and Christ is the husband, the bride can be forensically declared righteous based on the righteousness of Christ. In this way the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is not a legal fiction, but instead is a legal reality.

    Like

  53. Richard, faithful preaching IS preaching Christ and him crucified. My point is that being faithful IS the evidence of God’s work. The human analogy of Reeder’s pro-revivalism is that if I am faithful to my wife for years I should expect an outbreak of glory at some point, whatever that means, as if that ordinary faithfulness was insufficient. So what happens when faithful husbands and believers don’t get some extraordinary outbreak of glory after years of faithfulness? Did we do something wrong? Are we second class?

    Like

  54. Richard, if Edwards makes so many uncomfortable, and if you believe he almost walked on water (“he lived in the presence of God” — sheesh!), then don’t you see how you’re exalting yourself? Only those who walk in the presence of God must be able to tell when someone else is. I mean, if you keep telling me you’re doing everything for the glory of God, at some point the point becomes you and not God.

    BTW, you still haven’t owned up to the generation of Edwardseans not 75 years later but within a decade or so. We’re talking Samuel Hopkins, not Edwards Amasa Park.

    Like

  55. Richard, did Edwards ever confront Whitefield about not ministering in accord with his ordination vows?

    BTW, it is impossible to be orthodox and dead. How could a fallen sinner at enmity with God possibly accept that he was dead in his trespasses and sins and believed that Christ was his only hope? Last I checked, that was orthodox.

    Like

  56. Zrim: Richard, faithful preaching IS preaching Christ and him crucified. My point is that being faithful IS the evidence of God’s work.

    RS: There is an external faithfulness that one can have and still not have Christ. It is possible to give your body to be burned, but yet do it out of selfish and religious motives rather than love for Christ.

    Zrim: The human analogy of Reeder’s pro-revivalism is that if I am faithful to my wife for years I should expect an outbreak of glory at some point, whatever that means, as if that ordinary faithfulness was insufficient. So what happens when faithful husbands and believers don’t get some extraordinary outbreak of glory after years of faithfulness? Did we do something wrong? Are we second class?

    RS: Let me use a different analogy. Are there times in the marriage where people are much closer and more intimate than at other times? Does that denigrate the former faithfulness or is it a greater expression of it?

    Like

  57. D. G. Hart: Richard, if Edwards makes so many uncomfortable, and if you believe he almost walked on water (“he lived in the presence of God” — sheesh!), then don’t you see how you’re exalting yourself?

    RS: But he did walk on water. I am not sure how living in the presence of God is such a bad thing, especially since the 1st Commandment teaches that. No, I don’t see how I am exalting myself in the slightest. All I am doing is getting blasted. Somehow I thought being exalted would feel better.

    D. G. Hart: Only those who walk in the presence of God must be able to tell when someone else is. I mean, if you keep telling me you’re doing everything for the glory of God, at some point the point becomes you and not God.

    RS: I suppose that could be true, but I am not telling you that about myself. I am simply setting out the standards of Scripture and of the confessions.

    D. G. Hart: BTW, you still haven’t owned up to the generation of Edwardseans not 75 years later but within a decade or so. We’re talking Samuel Hopkins, not Edwards Amasa Park.

    RS: Why would I need to do that? Why is it that Edwards was responsible for what every person believed? Why are you so opposed to Samuel Hopkins? Do you think he was wrong for fighting against slavery?

    Like

  58. D. G. Hart: Richard, did Edwards ever confront Whitefield about not ministering in accord with his ordination vows?

    RS: Not that I am aware of, but maybe Whitefield began to see that ministering in accord with his ordination vows would have meant violating the Great Commanments of the living God.

    D. G. Hart: BTW, it is impossible to be orthodox and dead.

    RS: Nope, afraid that one is dead wrong. The Pharisees and the Scribes were quite orthodox and were quite dead.

    D. G. Hart: How could a fallen sinner at enmity with God possibly accept that he was dead in his trespasses and sins and believed that Christ was his only hope? Last I checked, that was orthodox.

    RS: I believe that Satan would be mighty close to that. He knows that he is dead in his trespases and sins and knows that Christ is the only hope. Any sinner who comes to the realization that s/he is dead in sin and has heard of Christ knows that Christ is his or her only hope if s/he is to be saved. There is a difference between believing that the new birth is a doctrine taught in Scripture and then actually being born again. There is a difference between knowing that the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone is taught in the Bible and then actually being declared just by God.
    Luke 13:23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

    Like

  59. Richard, you say you’re simply setting out the standards of the confessions. But the confessions set out the marks of a true (i.e. orthodox) church:

    “The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church–and no one ought to be separated from it.”

    So why do you resist the point that orthodox preaching, sacraments, and discipline are in and of themselves evidences of God’s work? Why do you go beyond the confessions you claim to be emulating and look for an outbreak of glorious reevahvaal? What do you think “true church” means? The point that heart and mouth go together has already been conceded by confessionalism, so your revivalist counter-point about externalism is simply redundant. The question now is why someone who affirms the confessional standards of orthodoxy wants to go beyond them. It would appear you think of the standards the same way you think of the church: fine as far as they go, but still woefully insufficient. Is it possible that the warning not to be separated from the true church includes another form of separation, namely adding to the marks?

    Like

  60. Zrim: Richard, you say you’re simply setting out the standards of the confessions. But the confessions set out the marks of a true (i.e. orthodox) church:

    “The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church–and no one ought to be separated from it.”

    RS: Chapter XX Of the Church
    I. The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all.

    RS: The true Church consists of the whole muber of the elect. According the WCF, then, the true Church is defined by those who are elect. The WCF goes on to say that there is the visible Church.

    ACF XXV: V. The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error;[10] and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan.[11] Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will.[12]

    RS: In other words, some of the purest churches have degenerated to the point where they are no longer true Churches of Christ, but instead are synangogues of Satan. These don’t always drop their orthodox creeds and they continue with the outward observance of preaching and the sacraments. Having the creeds, something called preaching, and the sacraments do not mean that a group of people are actually a church. Surely a church degenerating into something like that needs to be revived or to have the life of God come into this group of people.

    Zrim: So why do you resist the point that orthodox preaching, sacraments, and discipline are in and of themselves evidences of God’s work?

    RS: Because they can degenerate into legalism, self-righteousness, and liberalism.

    Zrim: Why do you go beyond the confessions you claim to be emulating and look for an outbreak of glorious reevahvaal?

    RS: I don’t go beyond Scripture and neither do I think that the WCF is opposed to spiritual life in the churhces.

    zrim: What do you think “true church” means? The point that heart and mouth go together has already been conceded by confessionalism, so your revivalist counter-point about externalism is simply redundant.

    RS: Not so. Simply saying that the two go together is not a true agreement of what that means. confessionalism itself, that is, when it tries to limit all things by the Confession goes beyond the boundaries set out by the Confession. Externalism is a very real and present danger. As one man said years back, we hide our hearts from ourselves with our creeds. I would add that we can hide our hearts from ourselves by the perfomances of the sacraments as well and by belonging to an orthodox church.

    Zrim: The question now is why someone who affirms the confessional standards of orthodoxy wants to go beyond them.

    RS: One who does not go beyond the bounds of Scripture will not go beyond the true bounds of confessional orthodoxy. As stated before, the Confession itself gives the Scriptures as the true bounds.

    Zrim: It would appear you think of the standards the same way you think of the church: fine as far as they go, but still woefully insufficient. Is it possible that the warning not to be separated from the true church includes another form of separation, namely adding to the marks?

    RS: You are absolutely correct. I do think that the standards and the confessional church are woefully insufficient. The living God is absolutely necessary to come and do as He pleases in them. The marks of a true Church must include the work of the Spirit and the work of Christ doing as they please in them. The WCF is very clear on the fact that the sacraments have no power in themselves and that there is no guarantee of receiving grace in them. When the Spirit blows as He pleases, the church is revived. Yet it is only the contrite and lowly of spirit that dwells among and revives. He does not say that He dwells among the confessionally orthodox who keep the three marks of the church, but of the contrite and lowly that He revives. Yes, the reviving of the people of God is biblical.
    Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.

    RS: You can read WLC Q. 174 for the whole of what is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Part of it, however, is to “affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings, and thereby stir up themselves to a vigourous exercise of their graces; in judging themselves, and sorrowing for sin; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ.”

    You could also read what the WLC says about the second petition to the Lord’s Prayer.

    Like

  61. Richard, the antidote to “some form of preaching and sacraments” isn’t revival—it’s precisely what the confession says: pure preaching of the gospel and true administration of the sacraments. You want to say you’re following the confessional standards, but there’s no prescription for revivalism in those standards against externalism. You say you resist the point that orthodox preaching, sacraments, and discipline are in and of themselves evidences of God’s work because they can degenerate into legalism, self-righteousness, and liberalism. But that’s like objecting to a physician’s prescription as evidence of good medical care because medicine can degenerate into abuse and addiction and so what needed is good dose of voo doo.

    You keep dinging holding to the confessions, yet you also get to say you’re trying to hold out the standards of the confession. More I-get-to-be-confessional-because-I-affirm-revivalism-but-you-can’t-because-you-oppose-revivalism. But then you say the confessions are indeed woefully insufficient? So why are you trying to hold out the standards of the confession if you think they’re so insufficient? Careful, on top of incoherence you also seem to be channeling Finney who declared the forms paper popes.

    Like

  62. Samuel Hopkins (1720-1803) denied the imputation of Adam’s sin and also rejected any idea that God imputed the sins of the elect to Christ. The Hopkins view of the atonement denied the substitutionary justice of Christ’s atonement and reduced Christ’s death to merely one first step in a “governmental” display by his false god.

    A revival of the false gospel is not a good thing, but an evil which sets itself up in competition with God’s glory revealed in the cross of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit does not use such a filthy lie. The world may highly esteem the “ethical worldview” of a Samuel Hopkins but it remains an abomination to the true and living God.

    Like

  63. Richard, you may be appealing to the Bible (selectively), but I haven’t seen much from the Reformed confessions. But that’s okay, you don’t find many references to them in Edwards either.

    BTW, Finney also opposed slavery.

    But if Edwards’ influence was so healthy, why did his legacy not last longer?

    Like

  64. Richard, orthodoxy is not an abstraction. It includes claims about the knower of orthodoxy, meaning that the person who knows orthodoxy is a sinner who needs a savior. If someone agrees with that, how can they be dead? And I don’t think Satan agrees with or accepts this truth.

    BTW, the Pharisees and Saducees were not orthodox. The latter denied resurrection of the dead. And neither believed that Christ was the son of God. How is that orthodox?

    Like

  65. Zrim: Richard, the antidote to “some form of preaching and sacraments” isn’t revival—it’s precisely what the confession says: pure preaching of the gospel and true administration of the sacraments. You want to say you’re following the confessional standards, but there’s no prescription for revivalism in those standards against externalism. You say you resist the point that orthodox preaching, sacraments, and discipline are in and of themselves evidences of God’s work because they can degenerate into legalism, self-righteousness, and liberalism. But that’s like objecting to a physician’s prescription as evidence of good medical care because medicine can degenerate into abuse and addiction and so what needed is good dose of voo doo.

    RS: Not exactly. Remember, however, there is a huge distinction between revivalism and revival. Your analogy with the good medical care does not follow. The devil believes what is orthodox belief (right beliefs) and as such it is possible for there to be orthodox belief that is not pleasing to God. Roman Catholicism practices the sacraments (so to speak) and as such there is that practice that is not pleasing to God. There are communists (tip of the hat to D.G. Hart and not such a good usage of the word) that practice discipline, but that is not pleasing to God.

    Zrim: You keep dinging holding to the confessions, yet you also get to say you’re trying to hold out the standards of the confession.

    RS: I ding the confessions as being what people trust in and people seeming to think that they are the standard over Scripture. I do, however, believe that the main confessions are mainly good standards.

    Zrim: More I-get-to-be-confessional-because-I-affirm-revivalism-but-you-can’t-because-you-oppose-revivalism. But then you say the confessions are indeed woefully insufficient? So why are you trying to hold out the standards of the confession if you think they’re so insufficient? Careful, on top of incoherence you also seem to be channeling Finney who declared the forms paper popes.

    RS: Perhaps if I stated things as you have not so carefully stated them, I may be guilty of something close to incoherence. I certainly don’t remember saying that the confessions are woefully insufficient in and of themselves. Of course I believe that the standards are insufficient to save a soul and that they are not the only things that one is to believe and that they don’t cover every point. I have said and will repeat it that the standards tell us that Scripture is the final authority. I believe them when they say that Scripture is the final authority. I also believe that believing something is true because the confession says it is not enough. One must hear Christ in His Word.

    Like

  66. mark mcculley: Samuel Hopkins (1720-1803) denied the imputation of Adam’s sin and also rejected any idea that God imputed the sins of the elect to Christ. The Hopkins view of the atonement denied the substitutionary justice of Christ’s atonement and reduced Christ’s death to merely one first step in a “governmental” display by his false god.

    RS: Mark, I have heard and read that Joseph Bellamy believed in the governmental theory and denied the substituionary atonement of Christ as well. But then I read Bellamy and found out that he actually asserted the substitutionary atonement of Christ over and over. Do you have any specific locations where Hopkins truly denied what you say? A few things from Hopkins below that seem to deny your charges.

    “One important and necessary part of the work of the Redeemer of man was to make atonement for their sins, but suffering in his own person the penalty or curse of the law, under which, by transgression, they had fallen…He poured out his soul unto death, and he bare the sin of man. To bear sin, or iniquity, is to suffer the punishment of it, or the evil which it deserves, and with which it is threatened.” Hopkins, Vol 1 pp. 325-326

    Hopkins Vol 1 pp 363 The first Adam was united to all his posterity as theier father, head, and constituted representative, and substitute; and all mankind were united to him, as such…on the other hand, his disobedience would descend to them, and make them sinners, and entail sin and ruin on all his posterity…his sin was their sin.” Speaking of Christ (p.364): ” But they must in some way and manner be united to him, and he to them, in order to his becoming their head and representative, so as to share in the saving benefits of his atonement and righteousness.

    mark mcculley: A revival of the false gospel is not a good thing, but an evil which sets itself up in competition with God’s glory revealed in the cross of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit does not use such a filthy lie. The world may highly esteem the “ethical worldview” of a Samuel Hopkins but it remains an abomination to the true and living God.

    RS: Perhaps you are right, but I suspect you have read what others have said about Hopkins and their reading was not in context of the whole. I hope the quotes that I gave you above may give you pause considering what you said about Hopkins above.

    Like

  67. D. G. Hart: Richard, you may be appealing to the Bible (selectively), but I haven’t seen much from the Reformed confessions. But that’s okay, you don’t find many references to them in Edwards either.

    RS: Actually, I have given several references to the WCF. I have also quoted from the Belgic Confession and the Heidleberg. Perhaps you have been reading or remembering my postings here, shall we say, rather selectively. I will quote the whole Bible in my next post if that will make my less selective.

    D. G. Hart: BTW, Finney also opposed slavery.

    But if Edwards’ influence was so healthy, why did his legacy not last longer?

    RS: Why was it that during Paul’s lifetime those who followed him fell into such great sin? What was it that before we even got out of the writing of Scripture there were the churches in Revelation? Perhaps his legacy is not seen in the greatest light by those who don’t agree with him.

    Like

  68. D. G. Hart: Richard, orthodoxy is not an abstraction. It includes claims about the knower of orthodoxy, meaning that the person who knows orthodoxy is a sinner who needs a savior. If someone agrees with that, how can they be dead? And I don’t think Satan agrees with or accepts this truth.

    RS: Satan knows that he is a sinner. Satan knows that all men are sinners and to be saved they need a Savior.

    D.G. Hart: BTW, the Pharisees and Saducees were not orthodox. The latter denied resurrection of the dead. And neither believed that Christ was the son of God. How is that orthodox?

    RS: They were orthodox in their day and according to their own teachers and standards.

    Like

  69. D. G. Hart: Zrim, on Richard dinging the confession and then upholding the confession, ding ding ding ding.

    RS: Now you sound like a fire truck, but your confession cannot put out the fires of hell. The confession should be upheld to the degree that it can be, but the confession itself says that it is not the final authority. I really appreciate the Westminster standards, but that does not mean that they are the exhaustive standard of absolute truth and that as long as a person agrees that they are a true statement of what the Bible teaches that person is truly converted.

    By the way, it might be of great interest to you to read James Buchanan on revival in his work on The Holy Spirit. He considers it nonsense that true revival is considered something that is not biblical and something that is not of the church. Yes, he is the same Buchanan who wrote the classic work on Justification.

    Like

  70. Richard, I thought you were going to quote the confession. Still, your point about the confession not being the ultimate authority might apply to Edwards and your obeisance to him.

    Like

  71. D. G. Hart: Richard, so first Edwards walks on water and now he’s an apostle. Some credentials.

    RS: I think you need to work on those deduction skills. However, that is exactly what the Corinthians asked Paul. He told them that Christ spoke in him. I know you don’t like that answer, but that is what Paul told them.

    Like

  72. D. G. Hart: Richard, how is it that Mary, Elizabeth, and Simeon recognized Christ and the Pharisees were orthodox?

    RS: The Pharisees were orthodox within their group and to Israel as a whole.

    Like

  73. D. G. Hart: Richard, I thought you were going to quote the confession. Still, your point about the confession not being the ultimate authority might apply to Edwards and your obeisance to him.

    RS: But I don’t have obeisance to Edwards. I do, however, defend him and the truth he stood for.
    X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

    There, I quoted it. According to the WCF, it and all other things are to be examined by Scripture rather than Scripture be examined by it.

    Like

  74. Nobody on this thread is denying that the elect need to be “united” to Christ and his righteousness before they are justified. So quoting Hopkins on “union” does not at all speak to the error of his view of the atonement.

    RS tends to assume that, if anybody disagrees with him, that they simply have not read what he has read. Oh, if I only known—what is obvious to RS would be clear to us if only we would do our homework and not be so stubborn.

    We could have a discussion about “union”. RS continues to think of the “soul” as some kind of inner substance WITHIN which God makes a change. But if only he would read and take seriously what I have already written, RS would know that legal imputation is the “union” which results in regeneration and the indwelling of the Spirit. Galatians 4:6–“Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of God into our hearts….”

    But the question here is not about “union” but about Hopkins’ false view of the atonement itself. Of course Hopkins uses the word “substitution”. Many liberals do, and some liberals are more liberal than others, but the question remains what Hopkins means by “substitution”. Without a specific imputation by God of the sins of the elect to Christ, Hopkins ends up presenting a cross which is only a means to a greater end, that end being what God does “in the soul”.

    But of course there is precedent for this in Edwards Sr.: “We are really saved by perseverance…the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”

    Like

  75. 8:5–.”The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father,and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.”

    It would be historically foolish for RS to argue that Hopkins did not have a “governmental view” of the atonement. It would make more sense to attempt an argument that some “governmental views” slip by the boundaries of the WCF. Carl Trueman is more impressed by these arguments, however, than many of the rest of us.

    The basic assumption of all “governmental views” is that what is gracious cannot also be just. So it is argued (with John Owen being the villain) that God by grace accepts a general (non-commercial) atonement as an equivalent. Strict justice is denied as not being gracious. And oh by the way, strict justice would mean that we would have to talk about the elect in Christ from the first, even as we are talking about the atonement.

    “for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.”

    God is BOTH just and justifier of the ungodly.

    Like

  76. As one reads through the book of Mathew it becomes obvious that the Pharisee’s did not see the Gospel in the Old Testament. They were not seeing the Gospel and therefore in the synagogues throughout Israel the Israelites were being taught false things in how to interpret the scriptures. The Gospel properly and accurately taught, week in and week out, is what brings life to God’s people. When you get the Gospel wrong, you interpret the scriptures wrongly. That was the major error of the Pharisee’s.

    Many are saying that the Gospel which Edwards taught had dangerous elements of error in it. When interpreting Edwards it is this which the focus should be on. RS claims that the Gospel Edwards taught was orthodox- many are questioning this and wondering if the subjective methodology that Edwards developed were the result of his errors about the Gospel and the ordo salutis.

    This is why I always press the Gospel issue with the theonomists and reconstructionists. They will rarely give you an indepth discussion about the Gospel and the ordo salutis, they would much rather talk about the Law and the cultural mandate. It seems as though the Edwardites would much rather talk about the subjective evidences of true faith rather than the Gospel itself.

    Like

  77. mark mcculley: Nobody on this thread is denying that the elect need to be “united” to Christ and his righteousness before they are justified. So quoting Hopkins on “union” does not at all speak to the error of his view of the atonement.

    RS: That is why I quoted Hopkins on the atonement. Here it is again.

    “One important and necessary part of the work of the Redeemer of man was to make atonement for their sins, but suffering in his own person the penalty or curse of the law, under which, by transgression, they had fallen…He poured out his soul unto death, and he bare the sin of man. To bear sin, or iniquity, is to suffer the punishment of it, or the evil which it deserves, and with which it is threatened.” Hopkins, Vol 1 pp. 325-326

    Like

  78. Mark Mccully: But of course there is precedent for this in Edwards Sr.: “We are really saved by perseverance…the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”

    RS: Look at it from the perspective or Romans 8:29-30. Those who do not persevere were never saved. Why is it so hard to imagine that the God who declares a sinner just on the basis of Christ alone knows and will keep the sinner persevering.

    Romans 2:7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

    Matthew 24:13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

    Like

  79. mark mcculley: 8:5–.”The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father,and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.”

    RS: Yes, but He also purchased perseverance for the saints as well.

    mark mcculley: It would be historically foolish for RS to argue that Hopkins did not have a “governmental view” of the atonement. It would make more sense to attempt an argument that some “governmental views” slip by the boundaries of the WCF. Carl Trueman is more impressed by these arguments, however, than many of the rest of us.

    RS: What I would argue is that Hopkins sure seems to be quite clear in his view of substitutionary atonement. If he taught a “governmental theory” of the atonement without the substitutionary theory, then you may be right. There is no problem that God honors His law by the atonement if part of that is the substitutionary atonement itself.

    mark mcculley: The basic assumption of all “governmental views” is that what is gracious cannot also be just. So it is argued (with John Owen being the villain) that God by grace accepts a general (non-commercial) atonement as an equivalent. Strict justice is denied as not being gracious. And oh by the way, strict justice would mean that we would have to talk about the elect in Christ from the first, even as we are talking about the atonement.

    RS: Well, if John Owen is now a villain, I suppose there is no hope for the rest of us.

    mark mcculley: “for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.”

    God is BOTH just and justifier of the ungodly.

    RS: Indeed He is. But it is important to remember that writers should be read in a context, and that context is their own context. One statement yanked out from the whole can change an entire meaning of things. I doubt that any Reformed person who has read “Death of Death in the Death of Christ” will question John Owen too deeply on the atonement. There may be statements that one would put a different way, or perhaps think he went too far, but Owen’s strict substitutionary view of the atonement was put beyond question by that book.

    Like

  80. John Yeazel: As one reads through the book of Mathew it becomes obvious that the Pharisee’s did not see the Gospel in the Old Testament. They were not seeing the Gospel and therefore in the synagogues throughout Israel the Israelites were being taught false things in how to interpret the scriptures. The Gospel properly and accurately taught, week in and week out, is what brings life to God’s people. When you get the Gospel wrong, you interpret the scriptures wrongly. That was the major error of the Pharisee’s.

    RS: Perhaps they had several major errors, but the point is that they were orthodox within their own little group and that they were considered orthodox to the people as a whole.

    John Yeazel: Many are saying that the Gospel which Edwards taught had dangerous elements of error in it. When interpreting Edwards it is this which the focus should be on. RS claims that the Gospel Edwards taught was orthodox- many are questioning this and wondering if the subjective methodology that Edwards developed were the result of his errors about the Gospel and the ordo salutis.

    RS: If anyone would read the Relgious Affections with some degree of objectivity they would notice that he gives Scripture after Scripture. The point is that his methodology was deveoped from extensive study of the Scriptures. There are many who argue that the Gospel that Edwards preached was dangerous, but that is because he taught of a sovereign grace found in Jesus Christ alone.

    John Yeazel: This is why I always press the Gospel issue with the theonomists and reconstructionists. They will rarely give you an indepth discussion about the Gospel and the ordo salutis, they would much rather talk about the Law and the cultural mandate. It seems as though the Edwardites would much rather talk about the subjective evidences of true faith rather than the Gospel itself.

    RS: If there are no evidences of a changed heart, there is no evidence of a saved soul. One can attack the idea of the evidence of the Holy Spirit Himself in the heart, but regardless of what you want to call it Scripture sets out with great clarity that each saved sinner has Christ as his life and each saved sinner has died to the flesh (fruit of the flesh) and has the fruit of the Spirit. Call it subjective if you want, but I would think that any real evidence of the real work of the Holy Spirit and of the life of Christ in the soul are objective evidences.

    Like

  81. RS: Perhaps they had several major errors, but the point is that they were orthodox within their own little group and that they were considered orthodox to the people as a whole.

    John Y: So, that must be your take on those who call themselves “confessionalists.” Playing the Pharisee card is similar to playing the devil card. The main point I was trying to convey is that the Gospel is what brings life- revivals and revivalism is a nuisance and distraction where all types of weird things happen outside the halls of the means of grace. The churches main responsibility is to get the Law and Gospel right, preach and teach it, and then alllow God do the work which He promised us He would do. I think what those who criticize revivals are saying is are they really necessary and where do you get biblical warrant for them? Have you ever read anything critical of revivals like Nevin’s analysis of the anxious bench or Darryl Hart and John Muether’s SEEKING A BETTER COUNTRY?

    RS: If anyone would read the Relgious Affections with some degree of objectivity they would notice that he gives Scripture after Scripture. The point is that his methodology was deveoped from extensive study of the Scriptures. There are many who argue that the Gospel that Edwards preached was dangerous, but that is because he taught of a sovereign grace found in Jesus Christ alone.

    John Y: The Pharisees and Erasmus gave Scripture after Scripture to support their interpretations too. They both missed the good news of the Gospel too. It is better to preach the harsh Law to make people aware of how far short they are coming in “fulfilling” the law than to delve into looking for subjective evidence of true conversion. The paradox seems to lie in the fact that the less we look inward the more God can work his subjective graces into our souls. That is why you emphasize the Gospel when the Law seems to have done its work in a persons soul. Most Christians struggle that they are not living up to the high demands of the Law and they know it even if they suppress this truth and try to put a good face on their rebellion. I guess you don’t have that trouble Ricard.

    Just because someone is brilliant does not mean that they cannot go into error. In fact, those who are brilliant often get led astray by their brilliance and find it difficult to accept any type of correction. It is not easy for anyone to accept correction but I think it is especially tough for someone who has unusually high intelligence and impressive piety on top of that.

    RS: If there are no evidences of a changed heart, there is no evidence of a saved soul. One can attack the idea of the evidence of the Holy Spirit Himself in the heart, but regardless of what you want to call it Scripture sets out with great clarity that each saved sinner has Christ as his life and each saved sinner has died to the flesh (fruit of the flesh) and has the fruit of the Spirit. Call it subjective if you want, but I would think that any real evidence of the real work of the Holy Spirit and of the life of Christ in the soul are objective evidences.

    John Y: I am not so sure that it is the lay Chrisitians job to look for evidences of “the real work of the Holy Spirit” in the soul of other Christians That’s what the Holy Spirit does when the Law and Gospel are preached and taught accurately and when the church is doing what it is supposed to be doing. People have varied backrounds with difficult things in their past to get over. Fruit manifests itself in ways that are often hidden from the site of others and it may take longer for some to get over struggles in their souls. Looking for “objective” evidence for the subjective working causes more problems than good. I don’t think anyone here is denying that the subjective has to be there but the remedy for the problem is to look extra nos rather than inward. At least that is what the major theologians of the reformation taught the church.

    Like

  82. John Owen is the man. Owen is a villain to those who teach the “governmental view”. Owen teaches that the atonement is justice. The “governmental view” teaches that the atonement is grace but not strict justice.

    I am trying to keep this simple. I want you to understand that Owen and Hopkins are not on the same side.

    I never denied that Hopkins and others who teach the “governmental view” deny that Christ bought the blessing of perseverance. My question concerns the justice and propitiation of the atonement. It’s one thing to say that Christ bought blessings and another thing to ask if the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ before Christ died.

    When we talk about perseverance, we need to ask “perseverance in what”?

    Papists persevere in works-religion, but they will not be saved in the end.

    Even those who believe the true gospel will persevere in believing the true gospel, one thing the true gospel tells us is that the basis of God’s justification is NOT perseverance (even in the true gospel).

    But Edwards disagreed with that.

    Like

  83. The New England theology makes a distinction between bearing punishment and bearing sin. While denying that sin itself can be imputed, it says that the punishment due to sin can be imputed. For more on this, see either John Owen or John Murray (Redemption Accomplished). It’s one thing to say that Jesus suffered “sufficient” general punishment on further conditions. It’s quite another and better thing to say with Romans 6 that Christ because of imputed guilt was under sin and the law and death, and is now justified from sin and the law and death. All those with whom Christ was legally identified at His death will be justified, if justice is to be done.

    Imputation is not only about the punishment of sins. Imputation is about the bearing of guilt. Corruption is not our first or only problem. We do not only bear the punishment of Adam’s sin.We legally sinned when Adam sinned.

    What did Christ get done outside our hearts? What did Christ finish? Christ died for the sins of the elect imputed to Him. Not only did God impute the sins of the elect to Christ, but God also imputes the death of Christ (this good and just death, because of imputed guilt) to the elect, in time and individually, one by one as God justifies these elect.

    Like

  84. John Yeazel, quoting RS: Perhaps they had several major errors, but the point is that they were orthodox within their own little group and that they were considered orthodox to the people as a whole.

    John Y: So, that must be your take on those who call themselves “confessionalists.” Playing the Pharisee card is similar to playing the devil card.

    RS: I am not calling all “confessionalists” Pharisees. I am simply making a point that the Pharisees were the orthdox group in their day. This shows the necessity of Scripture being the final authority.

    John Y: The main point I was trying to convey is that the Gospel is what brings life- revivals and revivalism is a nuisance and distraction where all types of weird things happen outside the halls of the means of grace.

    RS: So if God starts brings more power into the church and then converts many people in the community that is a nuisance and a distraction. True enough pagans who come out of the pagan world can be a nuisance and distract people. True enough uchurched people coming into the church can cause weird things to happen. But true revival happens within the means of grace of preaching and prayer. There were many that occurred during the sacrament.

    John Y: The churches main responsibility is to get the Law and Gospel right, preach and teach it, and then alllow God do the work which He promised us He would do.

    RS: Well, I was wrong once before in my life, but I thought the church had this thing called the Great Commission and then there was the Lord’s Prayer which tells us to pray for His glory and for His kingdom.

    John Y: I think what those who criticize revivals are saying is are they really necessary and where do you get biblical warrant for them?

    RS: Seeking God in accordance with the Great Commandment and in accordance with His Kingdom is the warrant.

    John Y: Have you ever read anything critical of revivals like Nevin’s analysis of the anxious bench or Darryl Hart and John Muether’s SEEKING A BETTER COUNTRY?

    RS: I have not read the latter and I do have Nevin’s analysis of the anxious bench. But what does the anxious bench have to do with true revival? That is revivalism.

    Like

  85. John Y: The Pharisees and Erasmus gave Scripture after Scripture to support their interpretations too. They both missed the good news of the Gospel too. It is better to preach the harsh Law to make people aware of how far short they are coming in “fulfilling” the law than to delve into looking for subjective evidence of true conversion.

    RS: Preaching the Law is almost always done in true revival. Preaching the inability of man to keep the Law is part of true revival.

    John Y: The paradox seems to lie in the fact that the less we look inward the more God can work his subjective graces into our souls. That is why you emphasize the Gospel when the Law seems to have done its work in a persons soul. Most Christians struggle that they are not living up to the high demands of the Law and they know it even if they suppress this truth and try to put a good face on their rebellion. I guess you don’t have that trouble Ricard.

    RS: People are to have the law preached to where their mouths are shut, but the saved are to live by grace. It is grace (the life of Christ in the soul) that enables the believer to pursue the Law by love.

    John Y: Just because someone is brilliant does not mean that they cannot go into error. In fact, those who are brilliant often get led astray by their brilliance and find it difficult to accept any type of correction. It is not easy for anyone to accept correction but I think it is especially tough for someone who has unusually high intelligence and impressive piety on top of that.

    RS: You are right about that. Maybe I should be even more thankful that I am not brilliant.

    Like

  86. mark mcculley: John Owen is the man. Owen is a villain to those who teach the “governmental view”. Owen teaches that the atonement is justice. The “governmental view” teaches that the atonement is grace but not strict justice.

    RS: Okay, I must have misunderstood you. I thought you were going after Owen as well.

    mark mcculley: I am trying to keep this simple. I want you to understand that Owen and Hopkins are not on the same side.

    I never denied that Hopkins and others who teach the “governmental view” deny that Christ bought the blessing of perseverance. My question concerns the justice and propitiation of the atonement. It’s one thing to say that Christ bought blessings and another thing to ask if the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ before Christ died.

    RS: But I gave a quote straight from Hopkins in which he wrote about the substitutionay view of the atonement. I am not sure he could be more clear that what he said.

    mark mcculley: When we talk about perseverance, we need to ask “perseverance in what”?
    Papists persevere in works-religion, but they will not be saved in the end.

    Even those who believe the true gospel will persevere in believing the true gospel, one thing the true gospel tells us is that the basis of God’s justification is NOT perseverance (even in the true gospel).

    But Edwards disagreed with that.

    RS: Edwards did not disagree with that at all. I think someone is misreading him. Context, Context, and more Context.

    Like

  87. Dan Fuller (Unity of the Bible, 313) thinks that Jonathan Edwards agrees with Dan Fuller and disagrees with John Calvin.

    “In Calvin’s thinking, the promise made in Genesis 2:17 could never encourage faith, for its conditionality could encourage only meritorious works. `Faith seeks life that is not found in commandments.’ Consequently, the gospel by which we are saved is an unconditional covenant of grace, made such by Christ having merited it for us by his perfect fulfillment of the conditional covenant of works.”

    “Paul would have agreed with James that Abraham’s work of preparing to sacrifice Isaac was an obedience of faith. He would have disagreed strongly with Calvin, who saw obedience and works as only accompanying genuine faith…The concern in James 2:14-26 was to urge a faith that saves a person, not simply to tell a person how they could demonstrate their saving faith…Calvin should have taught that justification depends on a persevering faith….”

    And then Daniel Fuller quotes Jonathan Edwards: “We are really saved by perseverance. The perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”

    Like

  88. Mark Mccully: And then Daniel Fuller quotes Jonathan Edwards: “We are really saved by perseverance. The perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”

    RS: So Daniel Fuller is just one more person who misunderstand what Edwards said in context. Read what Edwards actually says below.

    ” When once any person has by faith committed himself into the hands of Christ, Christ has promised that he will keep them, and that they never shall pluck them out of his hands. John 10:28, “My sheep shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hands.” … There never is a title to salvation without it. Though it han’t the righteousness by which a title to life is attained, yet none have that righteousness that don’t persevere; and that because although it is not proper to say that perseverance is necessary in order to justification, yet a persevering principle is necessary in order to justification. In order to a title to Christ’s righteousness, ’tis necessary that there should be such a qualification in the heart; that is as it were a seed of perseverance, and such a foundation that perseverance will be the certain result of it ‘Tis necessary that there should be “such an heart in them” in order to justification (Deuteronomy 5:29). ‘Tis necessary that a man should believe in Christ, and cleave to Christ in a persevering way: a temporary faith don’t justify. But in order to that, persons must have that faith that is of a persevering, everlasting sort. He must have that sort of seed that is an abiding seed. ‘Tis not a vanishing but a durable faith that justifies. Though perseverance be not an act performed, till after persons have finished their days; yet perseverance is looked upon as virtually performed in the first act of faith, because that first act is of such a nature as shows the principle to be of a persevering sort.

    Like

  89. mark mcculley: This excellent essay by Hunsinger is now available in the Modern Reformation collection Justified.

    RS: Mark, that article itself is the tragedy. I obtained a copy of that article in the book of esssays on Justification by Modern Reformation. The problem with the article, is that it takes the words of Edwards out of his own context and his own meaning. It is not excellent in any way if we think of excellence as including setting out what an author really means. Sigh

    Like

  90. 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.”

    Like

  91. 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.

    Like

  92. 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.

    Like

  93. 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.

    Like

  94. 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.)

    Like

  95. 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.

    Like

  96. 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.

    Like

  97. 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.

    Like

  98. 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.

    Like

  99. 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.

    Like

  100. 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)

    Like

  101. 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)

    Like

  102. 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.

    Like

  103. 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.

    Like

  104. 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]

    Like

  105. 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.

    Like

  106. 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

    Like

  107. 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.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s