Is Carl Losing His Edge?

We had counted on Carl Trueman, the left-leaning emoticonoclastic Orthodox Presbyterian pastor, to continue to see through the hype and gauze of America’s celebrity culture and warn about its danger for the church (not to mention society). But a recent trip to the Together for the Gospel Conference has changed his tune (or at least prompted him not to sing so loud):

Yes, the men at the plenary sessions are ‘celebrities’ in our small world; but they were not on the platform simply because of that fact. There was no swagger in evidence; all, in their different ways, spoke powerfully about the gospel; nobody indulged in magnifying their own name; and my guess is that none of these men will do anything which embarrasses T4G in the next twelve months. Yes, T4G needs names to fill the venue; but just being a name with 500 000 twitter followers and a knowledge of Calvinist patois is not going to get you the chance to speak. The swaggerati were nowhere to be seen.

My general conclusion on this point is that celebrity is clearly here to stay; the key point is that those who have such celebrity cachet acknowledge it and leverage it for good. By ‘good’, I mean direct people back to their own churches and set examples themselves as those who are committed first and foremost to their own people, congregations and denominations. T4G was quite a contrast to the recent reports of an extra-ecclesiastical high-profile meeting of Christian evolutionists, where celebrity appears to be being leveraged to set the agenda and impact the doctrinal testimony of churches. Nothing I heard at T4G indicated that anyone here had that kind of ecclesiastically subversive ambition.

I am not persuaded. I do think Trueman is right to remind us that celebrities are human beings too. But I am not sure that recognizing the good intentions or basic humanity of people who use a platform capable of abuse prevents that platform from being as abusive as it really is.

The problem is that people whose appetites have been whetted by celebrity pastors will have great difficulty recognizing the worth of their pastor’s pale imitation of Lig, C.J., Al, or Mark. It would be like telling Carl, back in the 70s, to go to the local pub more and listen to Gary, Mike, and Joe croon and play instead of going to the Led Zeppelin concert and buying the band’s albums. How are the Swindon Boys ever going to compete with the Rolling Stones or the Who? The answer is, they can’t.

But the stakes of believers and their undershepherds is far weightier than any rivalry between celebrity musicians and local indie bands. Will Lig, C.J. or Mark come to the hospital to visit with Joe-wine-box who lives in Fremont, Nebraska? Will they come to Defiance, Ohio to counsel a husband and wife who need a referee for their Christian marriage?

Can conferences and speaking engagements be valuable? Sure they can. It is part and parcel of professional life. Attorneys go to conferences. So do nurses. But when so many downloads are available and so many broadcasts are a turn-of-the-dial away, using celebrity to nurture a taste for average pastors is little bit like going to Citizens Bank Park to groom fans for the Doylestown, Pennsylvania’s American Legion team.

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191 thoughts on “Is Carl Losing His Edge?

  1. Might one then argue for more professionally directed conference? That is to say, should these meetings and speeches be for the benefit of only church pastors and other theologians? That way those who need to grow in biblical exegesis, preaching, and doctrinal orthodoxy are directly benefited while the average blog hopper and podcast listener aren’t being taken in by the glamor and ritz of big name pastors and theologians. It would be as though a priest in the middle ages left his parish briefly to meet with the Cardinal. Joe peasant doesn’t need to be distracted by the Cardinal’s presence, while the priest might very much need and benefit from such interaction, thus improving his ability to lead his parishioners. Or would requesting such exclusivity be unrealistic and unhealthy in this day and age?

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  2. This has long been a problem, and granted there will always be difference in ability amongst different people, but my last 20 years in protestantism has caused me some concern. As a cradle catholic, and aside from a large number of Irish and polish priests fresh off the boat, which granted was a large contingent, you learned fairly quickly that the priests in the parish tended to be of the less capable sort, or tending toward social misfit and then at least by the early 80’s, there was a growing ‘effeminate’ class of priest. My point is that the monastic bent and stratification between clergy and laity in RC created this refuge of sorts for those men who couldn’t fit in anywhere else, and often for good reason, and that didn’t tend to produce an necessarily accomplished, much less effective clergy.

    I’ve noticed this same trend, aside from the effeminate class, occuring in the pastoral ranks in protestantism with the prevelance of “home churches”, federal vision theology, transformational tending theology, politically oriented rhetoric etc.. their seems to be a devaluing of the intellectual and academic training amongst our own and an inordinate valuing of ; he’s conservative, he shares my political views, I like him, he’s white, married and has two kids. As our theology becomes more ethically oriented, there’s a corresponding drop in the intellectual rigor, and teaching ability of our clergy.

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  3. Carl:
    American Christianity is so caught up in conferences and celebrity teachers that a great harm is being done to the local church.

    Conference Planner:
    Carl we would like for you to participate in our upcoming conference.

    Carl:
    You know, conferences are not all bad, especially the ones I speak at.

    😦

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  4. So are you a minor league baseball fan?

    Could I “co-opt” you by offering you free season tickets for the Phillies when you retire?

    The old academic dean said to the new faculty member, “why don’t you become the new academic dean?”

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  5. Matt: the problem with your suggestion is that with such exclusivity, there would be a lot less fame and influence. Which is what it’s all about.

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  6. I thought of another bribe to gain the approval of DGH. What if three of the nine speakers next time (two years from now, unless the Lord restrains them) could quote from one of your books, if not favorably at least unfavorably? That surely would increase sales with so large a crowd. I don’t think the Palin book will be out of date yet by then. And perhaps you have enough work-ethic left to publish several more books in the next two years. Surely, you should at least be able to keep up with Trueman, if not with the nine famous ones.

    And if they should in God’s providence mention you and your potential books, best-seller! Surely this should be an incentive for you in the little place where you are….

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  7. Funny thing. I do like listening to Chandler sermons and I listened to Zeppelin II just the other day. But I’d rather go to my Church of about 300 on Sunday and I know I have had more fun at a Josh Roberts and the Hinges concert than I would at a Led Zeppelin reunion concert. But maybe not a King Crimson concert. Is Robert Fripp a celebrity?

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  8. “By ‘good’, I mean direct people back to their own churches and set examples themselves as those who are committed first and foremost to their own people, congregations and denominations.”

    In the conference announcement, why not simply ask people not to attend and instead stay in their own churches and set themselves as examples? Does one really need a conference for this? Perhaps it could be The Conference About Nothing.

    But seriously…

    I think the question left unasked is: Why do the reformed/”reformed” attend such conferences? Is it that they are not receiving Christ in word and sacrament weekly? It would be the reason for my attendance — were I to go. Too often I hear law, law, law and more law in our “conservative” NAPARC (not theonomistic(?)) reformed church. Christ may be evident in the rest of the liturgy, but too often Christ is not central in the sermon. While we confess that one is not sanctified by the law, in practice we seem to deny it. If I want to hear the gospel regularly I must preach it to myself. I suspect that other reformed/”reformed” churches suffer similarly. If I can have Christ, why settle for a celebrity?

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  9. ” Christ required “followers” and defined precisely what he meant; that they should be salt, willing to be sacrificed, and that a Christ means to be salt and to be willing to be sacrificed. But to be salt and to be sacrificed is not something to which thousands naturally lend themselves, still less millions, or (still less!) countries, kingdoms, states, and (absolutely not!) the whole world. On the other hand, if it is a question of fain and of mediocrity and of twaddle (which is the opposite of salt), then the possibility of the thing begins already with the 100,000, increases with every million, reaching its highest point when the whole world has become Christian.

    “For this reason “man” is interested and employed in winning whole nations of Christians, kingdoms, lands, a whole world of Christians–for thus the thing of being a Christian becomes something different from what it is in the New Testament.

    “And this end has been attained, has been best attained, indeed completely, in Protestantism, especially in Denmark, in the Danish even-termpered, jovial mediocrity. When one sees what it is to be a Christian in Denmark, how cold it occur to anyone that this is what Jesus Christ talks about: cross and agony and suffering, crucifying the flesh, suffering for the doctrine, being salt, being sacrificed, etc.? No, in Protestantism, especially in Denmark, Christianity marches to a different melody, to the tune of “Merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along”–Christianity is about enjoyment of life, tranquillized, as neither the Jew nor the pagan was, by the assurance that the thing about eterinty is settled, settled precisely in order that we might find pleasure in enjoying this life, as well as any pagan of Jew.

    “Christianity simply does not exist. If the human race had risen in rebellion against God and cast Christianity off from it or away from it, it would not have been nearly so dangerous as this knavishness of doing away with Christianity by a false way of spreading it, making Christians of everybody and giving this activity the appearance of zeal for the spreading of the doctrine, scoffing at God by offering Him thanks for bestowing His blessing upon the progress Christianity was thus making.” Kierkegaard

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  10. The answer might lie in how someone perceives the beginnings of his own spiritual nurture, which might shed some light on why he just can’t quite shake all the evangelicalism off.

    I am not in the game of bashing evangelicals and evangelicalism – humanly speaking, I owe everything, almost all my theology, and much of my Christian nurture to such people. It wasn’t the confessional Presbyterians who told me the gospel; it wasn’t the confessional Lutherans who took the time to teach me the basics of the faith; it was the evangelicals.

    When someone “owes everything” to those who are themselves indebted to celebrity religion—instead of ecclesiastical religion—it isn’t too surprising to see him pop up in the latest celebrity gathering. But for those of us who would speak about debts and losses the reverse way Trueman does, the local gathering will suffice.

    http://www.reformation21.org/counterpoints/confessions-of-a-bogstandard-evangelical.php

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  11. “Humanly speaking, I owe everything, almost all my theology, and much of my Christian nurture to such people. It wasn’t the confessional Presbyterians who told me the gospel; it wasn’t the confessional Lutherans who took the time to teach me the basics of the faith; it was the evangelicals.”

    Does this mean that almost all of Trueman’s theology is “evangelical Arminian”? Does this mean that Trueman only wrote about John Owen’s Death of Death’s not teaching eternal justification as a necessary consequence of Owen teaching that the sins of the elect alone were already imputed to Christ?

    Surely John Owen was not an “evangelical”. Does this mean that Trueman’s theology is very different from that of John Owen?

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  12. If you write enough essays and books, the dialectic will say everything on both sides and all will be carefully qualified.

    Religious rock stars need structures, and the bigger structures need rock stars. And the old rock stars like John Macarthur worry maybe that there won’t be any new stars quite as good as the ones who are getting ready to die.

    Carl Trueman’s latest on the need for structures– http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2012/04/the-gospel-is-insufficient.php

    Gaffin replaced Shepherd who replaced John Murray, and now there’s this Cedarville guy who thinks that George Washington was a Christian and that John Calvin was a “conditional grace” man.

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  13. It seems to me that every generation has their prominent ministers and theologians, and historically speaking this has often been to the benefit of the church. Whether we are speaking of an ECF such as Ignatius, or Augustine, or later on an Anselm, or the Reformers, on down to Americans such as Hodge or Machen – we are looking at figures that had broad recognition and influence in the church, and some in the culture at large in terms of being viewed as intellectual or spiritual leaders. But it seems like post WW2, with the rise of modern evangelicalism that this has taken quite a different turn. How are we to distinguish between a churchman with incredible influence and celebrity run amok? I am sure that many of the leaders in organizations such as T4G, Ref21, TGC, et. al. simply see themselves continuing on in influence in a manner similar to their predecessors. Obviously some of us don’t see it that way – so how would any of my fellow OldLifers draw the distinction between a Hodge or Machen and the members of the Gospel Coalition such as Driscoll or Keller?

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  14. Jed says;”so how would any of my fellow OldLifers draw the distinction between a Hodge or Machen and the members of the Gospel Coalition such as Driscoll or Keller?”

    You mean besides digging a moat, or creating a fire line?!

    Hodge and Machen are confessional churchmen. Both academicians interested in the advancement of theology as a formal discipline. Both unapologetic polemicists. Neither particularly well off financially because of their vocational choice. Neither imbibing of the itenerant/celebrity preacher circuit of the 2nd great awakening. Neither partaking of a multi-perspectivalist outlook to widen the tent stakes. Both deeply interested in grounding themselves historically in the reformed tradition. Neither developed an “ecology” of church growth that included darwinian survival of the fittest paradigms. I’m pretty sure neither sought to franchise their particular church growth strategies using Manhattan as a touchstone. I’m pretty sure Machen or Hodge didn’t participate in fundraising for the local RC diocese based on a shared cultural outlook. Neither claimed clairvoyance as far as I know. How long a list are you looking for?

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  15. This is definitely a conversation worth having. As host of ReformedCast, I have guests on from all over the Reformed spectrum. Am I encouraging celebrity, even unwittingly? Perhaps. I hope that the education from the interviews outweighs the celebrity. But it could be argued that this is a different context from the live conference setting. As an aside, I know people who get really worked up about these conferences – far more worked up than they do about “just church.” In my view, it’s difficult to argue that anything that places the weekly worship in a kind of shadow is a good thing.

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  16. The politics of Arminian evangelicalism demands that the most ambitious persons (think John Stott) cannot be merely confessional but have to be inclusive as possible to have more influence. To have any “ministry”, you have to agree that the Arminian gospel is your gospel also. But the more ambitious folks continue to battle about the definition of “evangelical”. Carson wants to keep saying “evangelicals are like me and like me”. And also keeps saying others such as Pinnock and Bell and Dayton are not evangelicals.

    Only sectarians and fundies pre-emptively agree to “let them have that evangelical label”. To have larger structures, you have to be more activist. If you can be bigger, you should be. That’s only American.

    https://wipfandstock.com/store/The_Activist_Impulse_Essays_on_the_Intersection_of_Evangelicalism_and_Anabaptism

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  17. Sorry Jed, my tone reads a bit aggressive towards you. I’m not. I just see a number of demarcations. Btw, totally off subject, did you find out if Walton engages a dual register scheme on Gen. 1? Or anything similar to that?

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  18. Sean,

    How long a list are you looking for?

    One that is equally entertaining and twice as long as the last one you provided! I think it is important to make these distinctions because, frankly the conference crowd often accuses us stogy confessionalist types of cherry-picking, where celebrity is bad, unless it’s one of our guys.

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  19. mark mcculley: The politics of Arminian evangelicalism demands that the most ambitious persons (think John Stott) cannot be merely confessional but have to be inclusive as possible to have more influence. To have any “ministry”, you have to agree that the Arminian gospel is your gospel also.

    RS: You hit the nail on the proverbial head with that one.

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  20. Dr. Hart,

    I think Dr. Trueman made it clear during the panel discussions that “celebrity pastors” should take serious stride in downplaying their celebrity. I don’t know for sure but having been at the conference and at Dr. Trueman’s session, I think he would agree that celebrity should be culled at every turn and corner….Directing people to their local church etc. It seems that he was pointing out what positive things he noticed although at the same time making it clear that celebrity is not a positive for the Church. He recommended that at the next conference having a couple “no names” during the plenary sessions which would promote the importance of the local congregation.

    However, there is the fact that someone in his position who speaks against celebrity thereby becomes a celebrity. The anti-celebrity, celebrity. So the issue is definitely a tricky tiger to tame. I will say Dr. Hart, that you are a household name in my local congregation and a topic of conversation often. Yet I know where my gospel bread is buttered…at my church by my pastor.

    Love the blog, Bobby

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  21. “Attorneys go to conferences.”

    Yes, but only because they are required to. And there’s not much celebrity to be found at most Continuing Legal Education conferences.

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  22. And there’s not much celebrity to be found at most Continuing Legal Education conferences.

    But plenty of obnoxious drunk lawyers, I have had the pleasure of waiting tables for several conferences – lawyers are usually about as fun as a stubbed toe. Nothing like investment bankers, who are absolutely convinced they are immortal – regardless of how many dents they put in the proverbial fender.

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  23. DGH has made some great points here, and generally I agree with his concerns about conferences and celebrity Christian culture, with one area of dissent. Given the substantial–and still growing–body of evidence of the abuses occurring on C.J. Mahaney’s watch at SGM, his continued appearance at these conferences could actually help the average pastor feel pretty good about himself by comparison.

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  24. I’m am reluctant to comment on this because I didn’t hear Dr. Trueman’s panel discussion on Celebrity Pastors @ T4G. T4G has been slow on releasing the breakout sessions and panel discussions thus far.

    Dr. Trueman’s after T4G post does kinda read like the outsider kid in High School who never had anything good to say about the popular kids or clique at school, until the day the cool kids invited him to eat lunch with them.

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  25. Sean, Jed: all those distinctions are true. If we are looking a more general, and fundamental, distinction what about the parachurch one. Did Hodge and Machen form parachurch organisations that effectively existed only when they met for conferences? As academics I’m sure they attended their fair share of conferences, but conferences related to their academic positions and not as an entity unto themselves. The modern coalitions exist in a supra-denominational plain. Not just denominational, but goes beyond specific traditions (e.g. Presbyterian). This is why they have so many problems with doctrines. The modern guys’ view of denominationalism is that at best it’s accidentlal and, at the end of the day, irrelevant.

    Maybe we should just stay within the confines of our particular denominations and maybe as far as those denominations with which we have close fellowship.

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  26. Re: Joe-wine-box, I recall hearing the story (assume it’s true) of James Mackay, Lord Chancellor (1987-1997), a Presbyterian elder in Scotland, who was in Toronto and while there was busy in his spare time evangelizing among the poor in that city. I think that’s what true Christian leadership is about.

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  27. It was only a matter of time before Carl, the anti – celebrity, ironically went from being the ‘Johnny Rotten’ of Reformed circles to becoming an establishment John Lyndon, and an insider of T4G. On the back of Carl’s latest book there is a gushing approval from the academic (wordy and waffly) type Kevin DeYoung, and when these chaps are drawing you into their circle and influence it must be hard not to cave in and join them.

    What is of main concern is that rather than articulate, defend and thoroughly promote the winsome and Biblical foundation of Reformed Presbyterian practise using his gifted style, Carl seems rather to be embracing and promoting those who would certainly not advocate old side Presbyterian church practise as essential, men like CJ Mahaney, Driscoll (Carl wrote a recommendation for one of his books) and the more subtle DeYoung. And this makes me wonder how much he values and defends the OPC in its more conservative and true form, or whether he is supporting a more evangelical YRR style. If he is doing the latter, then why be in the OPC?

    Finally, I wonder who ‘The Swindon Boys’ are who Dr. Hart mentions as one of Carl’s liked bands? I can only link Gloucestershire (Carl’s neck of the woods) with the excellent group XTC.

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  28. Is this any different than the cruises advertised MR magazine with Dr. Horton and certain other well known reformed speakers?

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  29. Jed said: “But plenty of obnoxious drunk lawyers, I have had the pleasure of waiting tables for several conferences – lawyers are usually about as fun as a stubbed toe. Nothing like investment bankers, who are absolutely convinced they are immortal – regardless of how many dents they put in the proverbial fender.”

    You obviously have not seen Funeral Directors, Cemetery Owners and Concrete Burial Vault Companies party. You need to check out a state or national Funeral Home and Cemetery convention sometime. They party more heartily than confessional Lutherans do (pietistic Lutherans tend to be teetotalers). So, do you party Richard?

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  30. I really, really appreciate Carl Trueman’s attendance at the conference. I’m not OPC; therefore, I was only a little familiar with Trueman prior to attending T4G last week. However, I’ve felt the tension regarding celebrity pastors. Dr. Trueman really helped me pinpoint the dangers in this celebrity culture. His “selling out” by attending T4G and starting to take a more middle-of-the-road approach has been really helpful and edifying for me.

    I would take a middle-of-the-road approach as well. On the one hand, I see the dangers in the celebrity culture. I saw the guys asking some of the T4G speakers for autographs. I’ve read the stories about pastors writing books and going on national book tours. I see the tendency in our culture to elevate people to a place that is dangerous.

    However, on the other hand, I didn’t grow up in a gospel-preaching church, and the Lord used the faithful teaching of some of these men to bring me to faith in Jesus. Because of their influence I love Jesus, the Bible, and my local church. I fight against the tendency to elevate these men over my local pastor, and because of this I find myself learning and growing more through my relationship with the guy who is preaching to me every week, who has lunch with me, and who will be with me at the funeral of a family member.

    All that to say: I think a middle-of-the-road approach may be most helpful here.

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  31. UK Paul, the Swindon Boys was the hypothetical British response to the Back Street Boys, though the Brits never make it outside the bars where David Brent (from the REAL “Office”) and Gareth and Tim hang out. I should have invoked the name of Brent’s group, Foregone Conclusion.

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  32. Drew, perhaps you should describe it as pragmatic. Middle-of-the-road is not too far from lukewarm and that’s not a good place to be according to the Apocalypse of John.

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  33. Greg,

    I agree with your comment. I lived on and off in the northwest Indiana area (Crown Point, Merrillville and Schererville) between 1995 to around 2003 and attended many NAPARC churches in that area during that time. I was never comfortable in seeking to become a member in any of them. The atmosphere and emphasis was more Law than Gospel so I found it difficult to get involved with any kind of commitment. I did attend some good theological classes open to the public at Mid-America Seminary in Schererville.

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  34. Zrim, point taken. The closest I’ve come to a cruise was watching the “Love Boat” when I was a kid in the 70’s. Maybe, it was edgy back then? So, what to make of these “reformed cruise conferences”? I find something humorous about them, maybe because they are so yesterday. Thanks for the help.

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  35. John Yeazel: You obviously have not seen Funeral Directors, Cemetery Owners and Concrete Burial Vault Companies party. You need to check out a state or national Funeral Home and Cemetery convention sometime. They party more heartily than confessional Lutherans do (pietistic Lutherans tend to be teetotalers). So, do you party Richard?

    RS: If you are referring to me, then of course not. We are to be filled with the Spirit and not with the spirits and we are to redeem the time. I am also not willing to argue with God over what it means to be drunk. While some are sure it means just don’t be staggering around with slurred speech, it may just mean something a whole lot less than that. It doesn’t take much for people’s inhibitions to be overturned. To paraphrase a despised old Puritan, the Christian has three entertainments: Bible study, meditation, and prayer.

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  36. “To paraphrase a despised old Puritan, the Christian has three entertainments: Bible study, meditation, and prayer.”

    That’s cuz Curb your Enthusiasm and Soundgarden hadn’t come about yet. If he’d seen/heard those he would’ve expanded his list fo shizzle.

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  37. Richard, I hope you’re sitting down. Zacharias Ursinus’ definition of drunkenness was simple — if you don’t wretch the next morning you were sober.

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  38. John S., Christian cruises are a few steps removed from Purity Balls. High ick factor. Like when Julie McCoy’s old flame, at least 20 years her senior, showed up and tried to get things started again. Watching that episode is how I feel when getting a mass email from WHI to cruise. Brulsh.

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  39. To paraphrase a despised old Puritan, the Christian has three entertainments: Bible study, meditation, and prayer.

    “Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?”
    (Ecclesiastes 7:16). Richard, one of the hardest things for any of us to achieve is balance – those who indulge in pietistic extremism run the risk of being completely unrelatable, if not obnoxious; those who understand that there is perfect freedom in Christ can run the risk of presumption, and license for otherwise irresponsible and even sinful behavior. Yet we are all tasked with working out our salvation with fear and trembling.

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  40. Drew,

    You must learn, o young one, that members of one’s own tribe who go to non-tribal conferences is cause for suspicion and requires assaying their motives for doing so! Most likely they are driven by pragmatism! And wanting to get famous, too. That’s why they are winsome, if you didn’t know.

    Fundamentalists of all types hold a narrow view of such things.

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  41. Dr Hart, I’m not sure you’ve read Ursinus’ catechism commentary quite right. The quote seems to suggest that the symptoms you described denote inebriation (day after symptoms) which would definitively prove drunkenness but not be its only marker or symptom: “The extremes of temperance are: 1. Intemperance in meat and drink, gormandizing, gluttony, drunkenness, inebriation; which signifies properly not the excess itself of drinking, but the nausea and reeling of the head, which are felt the day following.” But I quibble and actually paste the quote just to remind us of the lovely word “gormandizing,” a vice often practiced on fried chickens in the South.

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  42. if you want more even more influence, you reach out to embrace Romanism and the Nixon wing of the Republican party.

    “Out of this meeting has come the following statement drafted by J.I. Packer, that will carry the signatures of Packer, Bright and Charles Colson.

    “We Protestants who signed ECT, took this action to advance Christian fellowship, cooperation, and mutual trust among true Christians in the North American CULTURAL CRISIS. This same concern leads us now to elucidate our ECT commitment by stating:

    “1. Our parachurch cooperation with evangelically committed Roman Catholics for the pursuit of agreed objectives does not imply acceptance of Roman Catholic doctrinal distinctives or endorsement of the Roman Catholic church system.

    “2. We understand the statement that “we are justified by grace through faith because of Christ,” in terms of the substitutionary atonement and imputed righteousness of Christ, leading to full assurance of eternal salvation.

    “3. While we view all who profess to be Christian – Protestant and Catholic and Orthodox – with charity and hope, our confidence that anyone is truly a brother or sister in Christ depends not only on the content of HIS OR HER CONFESSION but on our PERCEIVING SIGNS OF REGENERATION IN HIS OR HER LIFE.

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  43. Jed Paschall: “Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). Richard, one of the hardest things for any of us to achieve is balance – those who indulge in pietistic extremism run the risk of being completely unrelatable, if not obnoxious; those who understand that there is perfect freedom in Christ can run the risk of presumption, and license for otherwise irresponsible and even sinful behavior. Yet we are all tasked with working out our salvation with fear and trembling.”

    RS: Some look at that verse as being overly self-righteous. While it is true that there are extremes and there are dangers to everything, I am not sure one can be overly full of the fruit of the Spirit or the fruit that flows from the vine through the branch. Either way, I think it is a safer position on judgment day (judgment of works, not salvation) to risk pursuing holiness too much rather than other things. I cannot imagine it being said that a person loved God too much and was too holy.

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  44. RS:

    “Either way, I think it is a safer position on judgment day (judgment of works, not salvation) to risk pursuing holiness too much rather than other things. I cannot imagine it being said that a person loved God too much and was too holy.”

    Sean: I can definitely imagine hearing that one had too little regard for God’s good creation, and your pursuit of holiness looks more platonic all the time.

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  45. Jed said: “Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?”
    (Ecclesiastes 7:16). Richard, one of the hardest things for any of us to achieve is balance – those who indulge in pietistic extremism run the risk of being completely unrelatable, if not obnoxious; those who understand that there is perfect freedom in Christ can run the risk of presumption, and license for otherwise irresponsible and even sinful behavior. Yet we are all tasked with working out our salvation with fear and trembling.”

    Jed, you must have had a rough last weekend – did you wretch? I like you bettter in your manic state.
    Bad answer Richard!!

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  46. I like you bettter in your manic state.

    My wife sure as heckfire doesn’t. And yes struggling with a little bout of pneumonia will cause a little introspection with all that down time. Good thing is I am on the mend.

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  47. sean
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink
    RS (old post): “Either way, I think it is a safer position on judgment day (judgment of works, not salvation) to risk pursuing holiness too much rather than other things. I cannot imagine it being said that a person loved God too much and was too holy.”

    Sean: I can definitely imagine hearing that one had too little regard for God’s good creation, and your pursuit of holiness looks more platonic all the time.

    RS: Not platonic, but simply a pursuit of God Himself. Paul considered all things as loss for the sake of Christ, but I suppose he would be considered platonic as well. After all, He also told us in Colossians 1:27 that this great mystery of the ages “is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

    Phil 3:7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”

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  48. John Yeazel:
    Jed, you must have had a rough last weekend – did you wretch? I like you bettter in your manic state. Bad answer Richard!!

    RS: Interesting comment in light of your other comments. I suppose wretching is good and holiness is bad. Sounds much like the prophets in the Old Testament who were denounced and condemned for calling what was good bad and that which was bad as good.

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  49. Richard,

    Lighten up man, John and I have always enjoyed throwing a barb or two each others way – it’s all in good respect. Besides, John would never actually encourage me to have a “rough weekend”, but we’ve had enough similar life experiences to be able to laugh about them – something that would serve you well.

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  50. I cannot imagine it being said that a person loved God too much and was too holy.

    In that final judgement, I think we will all have a clear enough view of our lives to see that whatever good work we had done was wrought by the work of the Spirit in us; evidencing the grace of God yet further as we see how it was working through our uncanny ability to make a mess of things even with the best intentions. I can’t imagine any one standing before God in judgment being told that they loved God too much or that they were too holy – we will find ourselves in heaven, even enjoying our rich eternal rewards in spite of ourselves, not because of something we have made on our own.

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  51. JS: Paul considered all things as loss for the sake of Christ, but I suppose he would be considered platonic as well.

    Sean: No just you in this scenario. How’s the holy sleeping going? Do you have a dream analyst yet? You can’t trust your own analysis, for the heart is a labyrinth of deception. Have you been writing down your dreams? You need to. That’s optimally 8 hours a day for the duration of your life. That’s a lot of time you need to get sanctified. How’s that coming? You overcoming your sinful subconscious and bringing it before the throne regularly?! Let me know when your pursuit of ‘”bible study, prayer and meditation”, like that puritan, transforms your dreams successfully. Just remember that determination must be left to the dream analyst because you can’t overcome your own(human) propensity for self-deception. On a corollary note, I just got back from New Mexico, the Indians tend to track along your lines, they even have dream catchers. You need to find your puritan version of a dream catcher. I’ll be catching up on “The Wire” episodes i’ve missed.

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  52. Okay Richard let’s go at it a bit. Here is how I think Luther would have handled you. I’m conjecturing and may be wrong but I’m pretty sure he may have said something like this to you: “Richard, go out and get drunk until you wretch and then come back and boldly confess your sin to God about how much of a wretch you really are.” And in your particular case he might counsel you to do it about 20 weekends in a row until it really got into your bloodstream and you really and truly believed it. Then you might be a bit more palatable to the sinners you are trying to reach.

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  53. Jed,

    My understanding of Machen is that his celebrity is mostly a posthumous one courtesy of the OPC, and his contemporary reception couldn’t have been farther from that of CJ Mahaney. Though I may be forgetting something, I can’t recall any of the academics of T4G producing a work equal to Hodge’s Systematic or having the departmental influence that he did. Assuming his renown was due to the magnitude of his work, there’s something else happening here.

    Modern celebrity is so removed from that of Hodge and Machen’s day that you would need a sociologist’s book-length treatment of ‘celebrity’ in the Internet / reality TV era to begin to compare them fairly.

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  54. Jed Paschall: Richard,
    Lighten up man, John and I have always enjoyed throwing a barb or two each others way – it’s all in good respect. Besides, John would never actually encourage me to have a “rough weekend”, but we’ve had enough similar life experiences to be able to laugh about them – something that would serve you well.

    RS: Humor is fine, but laughing about drunkness is not so fine. I was aware that it was most likely humor, or thought that it might be, but joking about sins that demonstrate that one is an unbeliever is not the best of humor. I doubt that Christ laughed about drunkeness on the cross as He suffered the wrath of the Father for the drunkness of many.

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  55. sean, quoting RS: Paul considered all things as loss for the sake of Christ, but I suppose he would be considered platonic as well.

    Sean: No just you in this scenario. How’s the holy sleeping going? Do you have a dream analyst yet? You can’t trust your own analysis, for the heart is a labyrinth of deception. Have you been writing down your dreams? You need to. That’s optimally 8 hours a day for the duration of your life. That’s a lot of time you need to get sanctified. How’s that coming? You overcoming your sinful subconscious and bringing it before the throne regularly?! Let me know when your pursuit of ‘”bible study, prayer and meditation”, like that puritan, transforms your dreams successfully. Just remember that determination must be left to the dream analyst because you can’t overcome your own(human) propensity for self-deception. On a corollary note, I just got back from New Mexico, the Indians tend to track along your lines, they even have dream catchers. You need to find your puritan version of a dream catcher. I’ll be catching up on “The Wire” episodes i’ve missed.

    RS: The point about dreams, sir, is that what the mind thinks on during the day and what the heart loves can show up in dreams. It is not that one is fully in control of dreams, but by grace when one seeks a heart that loves God and the mind is taken up with Him, the dreams will be different. So in reality Bible study, meditation, and prayer would in fact be one way of preventing sinful dreams. I bet they would work much better than watching TV.

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  56. John Yeazel: Okay Richard let’s go at it a bit. Here is how I think Luther would have handled you. I’m conjecturing and may be wrong but I’m pretty sure he may have said something like this to you: “Richard, go out and get drunk until you wretch and then come back and boldly confess your sin to God about how much of a wretch you really are.” And in your particular case he might counsel you to do it about 20 weekends in a row until it really got into your bloodstream and you really and truly believed it. Then you might be a bit more palatable to the sinners you are trying to reach.

    RS: I hope you are kidding. I Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Luther would not have counseled a person to go out and get drunk like that because that is a sin that is demonstrative evidence that a person is not a Christian. That would be like telling people to go out and spend 20 nights with a prostitute so they would be more palatable to sinners or to go out and steal for 20 nights so that you could be more palatable to sinners. Unholy and godless actions may make a person more palatable to sinners, but they make them obnoxious in the eyes of God. Unholy and godless actions may make a person more palatable to sinners, but that does not mean that the person loves God or true believers.

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  57. RS: The point about dreams, sir, is that what the mind thinks on during the day and what the heart loves can show up in dreams. It is not that one is fully in control of dreams, but by grace when one seeks a heart that loves God and the mind is taken up with Him, the dreams will be different. So in reality Bible study, meditation, and prayer would in fact be one way of preventing sinful dreams. I bet they would work much better than watching TV.

    Sean: Richard, no offense, but that sounds like a cop out. You push for total life consecration, that quite frankly, is gnostic, at least in rhetoric, and then you want to be “realistic” or “not fully in control of dreams”. That’s 8 hours a day every day where you basically want to be non distinct from your heathen neighbor, you’re unwilling to be in “full control” and self-consciously consecrated, that’s a half-way measure if I ever heard one. How about bathroom activities? have you managed to distinctly sanctify those? What’s your excuse on that front? For someone who pushes for the spiritual micro-management of life, you sure leave a lot of room for error and less than circumspect behavior. Eight hours a day, every day, bathroom breaks, eating modalities, much less acceptable and forbidden foods ….. You’ll have to excuse me if I have to give more respect to the observant Jew or vegan spiritist than your attempts at being sanctified, they’ve given more thought and effort to the details of life and their attempts at serious conformation than you’ve shown.

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  58. Richard,

    It had nothing to do with drunkenness, that is simply your assumption (and we know what assuming does) – I have bipolar disorder, John’s crackback was simply geared to whether or not I was manic this weekend. Having membership in the prestigious crazy club is not the moral equivalent to downing a bottle of Jack in one pull like Beluschi on Animal House. The problem with the pietist perspective on life is it has a hard time dealing with the messiness and complexity of life – which is why many here have dispensed with this unsustainable brand of Christianity.

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  59. Richard: we are, in ourselves, already hateful to God. That’s the point. Even our most sanctified actions are still filth in God’s sight. He only accepts them because of Christ. That’s Jed’s point (I think). So yes we should endeavour to live more holy, sinless lives. But we must remember that even the holiest saint is still a depraved sinner in and of himself.

    Frankly you sound like a Pharisee. Your works-righteousness might make you feel more holy, but your actions are still filth in the sight of God (on their own terms).

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  60. Alexander Richard: we are, in ourselves, already hateful to God. That’s the point. Even our most sanctified actions are still filth in God’s sight. He only accepts them because of Christ. That’s Jed’s point (I think). So yes we should endeavour to live more holy, sinless lives. But we must remember that even the holiest saint is still a depraved sinner in and of himself.

    Frankly you sound like a Pharisee. Your works-righteousness might make you feel more holy, but your actions are still filth in the sight of God (on their own terms).

    RS: Yes, I am sure that this sounds like that. But remember that true believers are born from above and while they are not truly sanctified, they long for true holiness. There is a huge difference between true holiness which is from the life of Christ in the soul, the fruit of the Spirit, and all of that by grace, and a works-righteousness. There are Pharisees and then there are libertines who turn the grace of God into licenteousness. Indeed everything a saved sinner does is less than perfect, that is not to say that saved sinners are not to pursue holiness. The fact that we are sinners is no excuse to sin, though it teaches us that we need grace to be holy.

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  61. Jed Paschall: Richard, The problem with the pietist perspective on life is it has a hard time dealing with the messiness and complexity of life – which is why many here have dispensed with this unsustainable brand of Christianity.

    RS: It is unsustainable apart from a new heart and grace, but God finishes what He starts.

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  62. Sean: Richard, no offense, but that sounds like a cop out. You push for total life consecration, that quite frankly, is gnostic, at least in rhetoric, and then you want to be “realistic” or “not fully in control of dreams”.

    RS: Blast away with the gnostic stuff, but it is not so. I have simply said that there are ways that help with the dream life.

    Sean: That’s 8 hours a day every day where you basically want to be non distinct from your heathen neighbor, you’re unwilling to be in “full control” and self-consciously consecrated, that’s a half-way measure if I ever heard one.

    RS: Perhaps you have simply misunderstood. As at the beginning of the dream issue, I said that they are not completely beyond our control. We have no control over the devil as such and over the restraining grace of God. However, that does not mean that we are totally helpless in the situation.

    Sean: How about bathroom activities? have you managed to distinctly sanctify those? What’s your excuse on that front? For someone who pushes for the spiritual micro-management of life, you sure leave a lot of room for error and less than circumspect behavior. Eight hours a day, every day, bathroom breaks, eating modalities, much less acceptable and forbidden foods …..

    RS: Actually, there are comments that can be made on those, but I doubt you could hear that either.

    Sean: You’ll have to excuse me if I have to give more respect to the observant Jew or vegan spiritist than your attempts at being sanctified, they’ve given more thought and effort to the details of life and their attempts at serious conformation than you’ve shown.

    RS: Then why pretend to believe the Bible if you have more respect to the Jew who denies Christianity or perhaps an atheist? Sanctification is by grace alone and we are taught to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Our dreams and our sleep are not totally our of our hands as you would like to claim. What we put into our minds during the day in some measure controls what we dream of. The loves of our heart determines in some way what we dream of. Seeking to keep certain things from our minds and to put certain things in the mind while praying for God to give us a true love for Him is biblical. If you don’t see that, then you don’t see that.

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  63. Richard, not to pile on, but the more I read you the more you sound monastic. I think of Luther pre-Protestant. I also think of Lloyd Braun (“Serenity now, insanity later”). Never mind, that’s a Seinfeld reference, far be it from me to foster sinful dreams tonight. But I do wonder what you think the difference is between your quest for holiness and Luther’s pre-Protestant medievalism, because to me it just sounds like post-Protestant medievalism.

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  64. RS: Then why pretend to believe the Bible if you have more respect to the Jew who denies Christianity or perhaps an atheist?

    Sean: Richard you presume to present the biblical model of spirituality. In fact you don’t. I already know you won’t hear that. I bring up sleep, dreams, bathroom, eating etc.. because they represent default behaviors of humans that all, regenerate and unregenerate alike, invariably must engage, that consume inordinately large swaths of time and thus life. Your inability, in fact anyone’s inability, to dutifully and comprehensively ‘sanctify’ said areas and make them distinctly anything other than particularly human, points to the futility and in fact incompetence of your or any other ‘monastic’ brand of spirituality. So either you misrepresent biblical spirituality or the scriptures themselves turn out to be weak medicine to remedy our lack of holistic, “every corner and crevice micro spirituality”. Personally, I’ll stick with the conviction that you, Richard, misapply, misunderstand and misrepresent the thrust of apostolic direction, given in the epistles. At least how you offer it up here on this blog.

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  65. Larry Woiwode: “There is rugged terrain ahead for those who are constitutionally incapable of referring to the paths marked out by wise and spirit-filled cartographers over the centuries.”

    Is Woiwode still in the OPC? Woiwode might just be more famous than Trueman (or Gaffin).

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  66. Ted, I’d even defend you if you were as thoughtful as Dabney could be. But given your perfectionism, you may have a tough time recognizing the strengths of believers the way Paul does with the Corinthians. Where do you buy your high horses?

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  67. Dr. Hart,

    What type of conferences should Dr. Trueman speak at? Academic conferences? Seminary conferences? Anywhere lots of non-Reformed people aren’t?

    I’d love to hear the conversation if TG4G asked you to speak. What would you say if they did?

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  68. Zrim, I appreciated the Seinfeld reference even though RS will not. And the Julie Mccoy reference, well now you’re taking me back to my “unsanctified” days. I had to IMDB “Love Boat.” Ah, the memories …..

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  69. Brandon, I wasn’t objecting to Carl’s speaking at T4G. I expressing worry that he’s going soft on celebrity pastors.

    I try to accept most invitations to speak, as long as I am allowed to represent my own convictions. I can’t imagine turning T4G down, any more than I can imagine them inviting me.

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  70. John Sizer: Zrim, I appreciated the Seinfeld reference even though RS will not.

    RS: True, it is hard to appreciate a show which had the purpose of showing that there is no meaning to anything. There was nothing to appreciate?

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  71. Richard,

    Do you really think you obey all the law lists and imperatives in the scriptures? Or, those scriptures that list the sins which keep people out of the kingdom of heaven- like in the Corinthian passage you noted and the list in Galatians? You read not the scriptures rightly or you search the scriptures thinking that in them you have eternal life but the scriptures testify of Christ and his perfect obedience for the benefit of the elect. None of us obeys the imperatives like God demands of us.

    And I do think Luther might have told you to go out and sin boldly and then come back and boldly confess your sin to God. He did counsel Melanchthon to do that very thing when Melanchthon was spewing out pious phrases and fretting compulsively about the inward state of his soul and personal piety.

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  72. Zrim: Richard, not to pile on, but the more I read you the more you sound monastic. I think of Luther pre-Protestant. I also think of Lloyd Braun (“Serenity now, insanity later”). Never mind, that’s a Seinfeld reference, far be it from me to foster sinful dreams tonight. But I do wonder what you think the difference is between your quest for holiness and Luther’s pre-Protestant medievalism, because to me it just sounds like post-Protestant medievalism.

    RS: You do sound like a pylon in redirecting the intent. I am not sure how it is so out of line to desire to be free (or even mostly free) of dreams that involve sin. If a person takes in pornography and thinks about it, whether it is so-called “soft-porn” or the harder variety, then a person is more likely to dream about that sort of thing. If a person fills his mind with Scripture in study and meditation and avoids the other things, one is more likely not to have the sinful content in the dreams. But one difference is that pre-Prot times (in your meaning I am making an inference) there was a lot of works and self based on a self-works holiness or self-righteousness. There was a rigid treatment of the body in an effort to get these things done. What I am saying, and sure enough, based on the Puritan way of thinking, is that grace is the only real way for these things to be done. So applying the means of grace in pursuing the presence of God is really different than the previous way.

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  73. But, Sean, I think I see season 4 of “Breaking Bad” over in the corner. Netflix only goes up to season 3, so I’m staying.

    John S., I admit, I was only able to swing TLB reference because we’re trying to get our girls to appreciate OUR American pop culture instead of THEIRS these days (which I find loud and screachy).

    Richard, so that must mean you don’t appreciate “The Dark ‘Seinfeld,'” as Larry David calls it. But semi-revivalists and full-on pietists could stand to curb their enthusiasm.

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  74. Sean: Richard you presume to present the biblical model of spirituality. In fact you don’t. I already know you won’t hear that.

    RS: In other words, you disagree. I got it.

    Sean: I bring up sleep, dreams, bathroom, eating etc.. because they represent default behaviors of humans that all, regenerate and unregenerate alike, invariably must engage, that consume inordinately large swaths of time and thus life.

    RS: In other words, you think you have certain areas that escape the sovereignty of God and can be done in ways that are sinful. No doubt these things are things that people must engage in, but there are different ways that they can be engaged in.

    Sean: Your inability, in fact anyone’s inability, to dutifully and comprehensively ‘sanctify’ said areas and make them distinctly anything other than particularly human, points to the futility and in fact incompetence of your or any other ‘monastic’ brand of spirituality.

    RS: Not at all. You have simply shown that you don’t believe that God is sovereign over all things and then that the command that we are to do all things for His glory is not really accurate.

    Sean: So either you misrepresent biblical spirituality or the scriptures themselves turn out to be weak medicine to remedy our lack of holistic, “every corner and crevice micro spirituality”.

    RS: Again, no sense thinking that God is in every corner and crevice. I take it, then, that you are closer to Deism?

    Sean: Personally, I’ll stick with the conviction that you, Richard, misapply, misunderstand and misrepresent the thrust of apostolic direction, given in the epistles. At least how you offer it up here on this blog.

    RS: And I will stick with the conviction that you, Sean, are a practical Deist. You disallow God in every corner and crevice of His creation as if He wound the world up and watches over part of it, but not all. Partial Deist? Ah, no real difference.

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  75. Richard, yes, I get the idea of filtering what we consume. I do that. But that doesn’t seem to be your point. Your point seems to be don’t see, don’t hear, don’t touch, don’t taste. It’s like the difference between fundamentalism and conservatism or between morality and moralism. But don’t you recall that Jesus said to the Pharisees who were very concerned for holiness that it’s not what goes into the body that is rotten but what comes out, and that’s because we are already rotten inside.

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  76. RS;
    “But one difference is that pre-Prot times (in your meaning I am making an inference) there was a lot of works and self based on a self-works holiness or self-righteousness. There was a rigid treatment of the body in an effort to get these things done. What I am saying, and sure enough, based on the Puritan way of thinking, is that grace is the only real way for these things to be done”

    Sean: Richard you misunderstand the monastics. They would’ve have made the exact same argument you seek to attribute to the puritans. The monastics engaged in what they believed to be a grace-empowered asceticism. You do however unwittingly point to some previously noted parallels between Rome and a number of the puritans. The monastic label is becoming more and more appropriate to your version of spirituality. Which is fine as far as it goes, just understand how and where you are aligning yourself. Maybe Rome’s conception of infused grace by which we become more and more(think aristotelian and platonic categories of ‘becoming’, fullfilling ‘natural’ capacities) is more your speed than forensic, objective, institutional, earthly, pilgrim, simul iustus et peccator theology.

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  77. John Yeazel: Richard, Do you really think you obey all the law lists and imperatives in the scriptures? Or, those scriptures that list the sins which keep people out of the kingdom of heaven- like in the Corinthian passage you noted and the list in Galatians?

    RS: I certainly believe that the list of sins that Scripture gives and then clearly says that people who practice those will not inherit the kingdom means that those who practice those will not go to heaven. Yes, I believe that. I Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Read it again. It says “do not be deceived.” In other words, if you have a theology that allows for that, you have been deceived. Of course I keep no law perfectly, but that is no excuse for wanton disobediece. We are to mourn over our sin rather than use it as an excuse to do more.

    John Yeazel: You read not the scriptures rightly or you search the scriptures thinking that in them you have eternal life but the scriptures testify of Christ and his perfect obedience for the benefit of the elect. None of us obeys the imperatives like God demands of us.

    RS: Again, the fact that no one obeys perfectly is not a reason or excuse for drunkeness or any other sin. That is turning grace into an excuse for licentiousness.

    John Yeazel: And I do think Luther might have told you to go out and sin boldly and then come back and boldly confess your sin to God. He did counsel Melanchthon to do that very thing when Melanchthon was spewing out pious phrases and fretting compulsively about the inward state of his soul and personal piety.

    RS: I have read the context of what Luther said there. I think it was more like if you are wrong in this area, then sin boldly. In other words, do what you think is right and if it is sin you can boldly confess that sin. But he would not tell anyone to go out and boldly sin knowing that it was sin. When a person sins on purpose, that is to sin willingly and knowingly against God and presume on His grace. God is not obligated to show grace or forgive sin. His eye is on the humble and the contrite, not those who sin expecting Him to forgive as if sin is nothing.

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  78. Zrim: Richard, so that must mean you don’t appreciate “The Dark ‘Seinfeld,’” as Larry David calls it. But semi-revivalists and full-on pietists could stand to curb their enthusiasm.

    RS: Look, the philosophy that drove Seinfeld was that there is no meaning in anything. In other words, it is all meaningless. Or, perhaps, there is not meaning in the crevices and corners or in any other location as well. It is hard to laugh at those things which are so opposed to God and His glory. However, I did laugh a few times at the few bits of the show I watched there and there. But I only watched it while in the very of a corner that God did not care about and I read the Puritans for hours after the show so that I would not dream about it.

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  79. Zrim: Richard, yes, I get the idea of filtering what we consume. I do that. But that doesn’t seem to be your point. Your point seems to be don’t see, don’t hear, don’t touch, don’t taste. It’s like the difference between fundamentalism and conservatism or between morality and moralism. But don’t you recall that Jesus said to the Pharisees who were very concerned for holiness that it’s not what goes into the body that is rotten but what comes out, and that’s because we are already rotten inside.

    RS: In terms of food, that is correct. But in terms of the eyes, brain, and heart, it is a different story. Try this one with your wife: “Honey, watching that movie is biblical since what goes in is not rotten, it is what comes out that is. So as long as nothing comes out, I am okay.” But Jesus did say if you look on a woman to lust… It is what goes in because of the heart that is in there already.

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  80. Sean: Richard you misunderstand the monastics. They would’ve have made the exact same argument you seek to attribute to the puritans. The monastics engaged in what they believed to be a grace-empowered asceticism. You do however unwittingly point to some previously noted parallels between Rome and a number of the puritans. The monastic label is becoming more and more appropriate to your version of spirituality. Which is fine as far as it goes, just understand how and where you are aligning yourself. Maybe Rome’s conception of infused grace by which we become more and more(think aristotelian and platonic categories of ‘becoming’, fullfilling ‘natural’ capacities) is more your speed than forensic, objective, institutional, earthly, pilgrim, simul iustus et peccator theology.

    RS: Short on time, but for the moment, the grace that saves is a grace that indwells. It is not an infused grace that results in working for holiness and then justification, but it is Christ in the soul and the fruit of the Spirit of love that moves the soul to love holiness. All we do is either for God or against Him.

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  81. Richard, are you telling me that when you sin, it’s not on purpose? Isn’t our recognition of our sin part of being alive in Christ? Not that we continue in it, but that by grace we can overcome. The Christian life is not without the the struggle because we are alive in Christ. Your view seems to be very mechanical and formulaic. You can erase a bit of Seinfeld by reading the Puritans? That was a joke, right?

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  82. RS: but it is Christ in the soul and the fruit of the Spirit of love that moves the soul to love holiness.

    Sean: And it is the Imago Dei in us, that allows us to embrace what is good. The creation, the city, the human and many of his products(culture) are good, yet they are not transformed. It seems so remedial, but we live in the world, a fallen world, but a world we are called to affirm everywhere we can, when we can, until we can’t. Our seperation is a cultic seperation, thus the emphasis on sabbath, not a cultural one, until the culture takes on a cultic identity and demands fealty on our part(i.e. the emperor’s cult). It’s in it’s cultic manifestation that the “city” becomes an antagonist to the church, not in the legitimate pursuit of cultural endeavors, in building a city or being a city. You can be against movies, sitcoms, theater, pubs, etc.. all you want, but you can’t marshall the word in support of a particular boycott and call it a “Christian prohibition or prescriptive.” It’s just your own conviction and scruple and your welcome to it, but you’re not allowed to give it as standard or prescriptive or descriptive for others as exemplary of “Christian conduct.” I’m willing to leave it as you fizz one way and I another, but are you willing to do the same?

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  83. Isn’t it time for one of the confessionalists who post on Old Life to step up and “confess” creating the caricature Richard Smith as a transformational, pietistic foil for those who esteem the 2K position?

    Holy sleep… how bizarre! (Until that comment I believed Mr. Smith was an actual person commenting here!)…

    Holy sleep… nearly as absurd as a local transformational, neo-Cal pastor who eulogized one of his members by stating the man had spent his career “redeeming air conditioning!”

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  84. I liked this thread more when it focused on the issue of celebrity pastors.

    I don’t want to vote Richard off the island, but his comments (and various respondents to him) almost always take the discussion off course to the same depressing place. It seems more charitable to just stop engaging him.

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  85. Richard, are you not worried about the amount of time you spend on an OldLife blog exchanging with folks who aren’t as holy as thou? That’s not a shot, I am being serious. What’s the difference between exposing yourself to earthy types and exposing yourself to the earth they consume? If the ratio of TV watching:Puritan reading is half hour:hours on end, then the ratio of OldLife blogging:Puritan reading in your case must be astronomical.

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  86. And on that topic of celebrity pastors (or seminary professors, as the case may be).

    It’s not going away, obviously, but here are a few suggestions:

    *Let’s talk about what size church a pastor can really pastor with good elders at his side. If we commit to planting and growing (and splitting) appropriately sized churches, mega-pastors will be kept in check. [I give Dever lots of credit for insisting that his church is defined by a single service in a historically-sized and bounded church, and consistently encouraging his members to leave and populate struggling area churches]

    *Let’s make sure our own pastors and professors are fulfilling their primary callings. A good session or consistory won’t let their pastor wander about gormandizing on arena audiences if he has work to do at home.

    *Let’s ask our celebrities to ruthlessly prioritize not market-share, but requests from churches within their confessional family to come and preach and teach. Imagine if a Trueman or a Horton came to tiny little OPC or URC in an out of the way locale. Or to a Classis meeting. A lot of local blog readers might discover that there’s a local pastor serving true food and true drink instead of scorpions.

    We can’t change evangelical (or mass) culture; never will. All we can hope for is that when our confessional churches are gifted with charismatic speakers and teachers, they stay true to their callings, and we don’t encourage them to cave to celebrity.

    Radio/TV/Internet amplifies voices, and magnifies celebrity. This can be used for good or ill.

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  87. “A lot of local blog readers might discover that there’s a local pastor serving true food and true drink instead of scorpions.

    We can’t change evangelical (or mass) culture; never will. All we can hope for is that when our confessional churches are gifted with charismatic speakers and teachers, they stay true to their callings, and we don’t encourage them to cave to celebrity.”

    I agree, but can we be just as ruthless on the other side in ordaining men who are truly gifted, and really putting in the work. It doesn’t have to filet mignon every week and everywhere, but Gordon’s, “Johnny Can’t Preach” was no strawman. The balanced and effective pastor, much less gifted, can not be considered commonplace much less normative in our scene. Maybe it’s always been that way, but man a number of us have been forced to shepherd our own souls for a long time. I for one, wish that weren’t the case.

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  88. John Sizer: Richard, are you telling me that when you sin, it’s not on purpose? Isn’t our recognition of our sin part of being alive in Christ? Not that we continue in it, but that by grace we can overcome. The Christian life is not without the the struggle because we are alive in Christ. Your view seems to be very mechanical and formulaic.

    RS: Hmmm, not sure how to get around that. The point is that we must have grace and we must pursue God. The primary means of grace, not to poke at some confessional types, would involve Scripture and prayer. The only understanding we have of Scripture is by the Spirit’s illumination and that is by grace. The only true prayer is by grace as well. Not sure how to avoid the formulaic appearance, but clearly they must be done in love for God.

    You can erase a bit of Seinfeld by reading the Puritans? That was a joke, right?

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  89. John Sizer: You can erase a bit of Seinfeld by reading the Puritans? That was a joke, right?

    RS: Well, not so much of a joke as dry, dry humor. I am afraid my humor is so dry that it is missed most of the time. But that is okay too.

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  90. Montani Semper Liber
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink
    Isn’t it time for one of the confessionalists who post on Old Life to step up and “confess” creating the caricature Richard Smith as a transformational, pietistic foil for those who esteem the 2K position?

    Holy sleep… how bizarre! (Until that comment I believed Mr. Smith was an actual person commenting here!)…

    Holy sleep… nearly as absurd as a local transformational, neo-Cal pastor who eulogized one of his members by stating the man had spent his career “redeeming air conditioning!”

    RS: The only other alternative is to love sinful dreams which reveal what the heart loves and dwells on. Being satisfied with unholy dreams? Now that is truly bizarre. Sorry, but if one is to love God with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength, that includes the things that influence our dreams.

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  91. Brian Lee: I liked this thread more when it focused on the issue of celebrity pastors.

    RS: It is much easier to blast away at folks we don’t know than it is to deal with our own hearts. I get it. I do wonder, however, if talking about folks in the internet is a way of spreading gossip and slander. Sure it is easy to do so and a lot of fun, but why not.

    Brian Lee: I don’t want to vote Richard off the island, but his comments (and various respondents to him) almost always take the discussion off course to the same depressing place. It seems more charitable to just stop engaging him.

    RS: The comments constantly show us our inability to have Christ but by grace alone a person may have Christ at the mere pleasure of God. By the way, that same grace produces a desire for holiness. Yes, that is a depressing place for some.

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  92. Zrim: Richard, are you not worried about the amount of time you spend on an OldLife blog exchanging with folks who aren’t as holy as thou? That’s not a shot, I am being serious.

    RS: Uhm, you have seriously misread me if you think that I think that I am holy in and of myself. However, we must never let God’s command of perfection drop because we cannot keep it and we are to pursue by grace a true holiness. Who is more holy I don’t know and cannot know. But again, God commands us to be perfect and we are to pursue Him. Remember those words of Jesus: Matthew 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He is not talking about an imputed righteousness as He goes on to explain in the Sermon on the Mount. One is declared just by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone and no work can possibly add to His finished work. However, that does not mean that the Christ who lives in His people will not push them toward a true holiness that is by grace alone as well.

    Zrim: What’s the difference between exposing yourself to earthy types and exposing yourself to the earth they consume? If the ratio of TV watching:Puritan reading is half hour:hours on end, then the ratio of OldLife blogging:Puritan reading in your case must be astronomical.

    RS: Yes, it takes a lot of reading to offset the reading I do here, but I try. It is also expensive for the amount of books I have to buy in order to be able to read enough to do so. I have develooed a system for that, however. Instead of doing hail Mary type of things with beads, I have developed a rope with the names of Puritans on it and some of their works. I simply go over the rope and try to remember some of the important points.

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  93. Brian Lee: *Let’s talk about what size church a pastor can really pastor with good elders at his side. If we commit to planting and growing (and splitting) appropriately sized churches, mega-pastors will be kept in check. [I give Dever lots of credit for insisting that his church is defined by a single service in a historically-sized and bounded church, and consistently encouraging his members to leave and populate struggling area churches]

    RS: But does the Bible or the confessions give us a number? You are beginning to sound rather pragmatic. Pragmatism is not really the answer in any direction is it?

    Brian Lee: *Let’s make sure our own pastors and professors are fulfilling their primary callings. A good session or consistory won’t let their pastor wander about gormandizing on arena audiences if he has work to do at home.

    RS: The Old Testament had prophets doing a lot of travel and the New Testament had Paul and many others doing a lot of travel. All of the apostles except one (he was exiled) were killed for preaching and some were in foreign lands when they did so. Apollos traveled around preaching as well.

    Brian Lee: *Let’s ask our celebrities to ruthlessly prioritize not market-share, but requests from churches within their confessional family to come and preach and teach. Imagine if a Trueman or a Horton came to tiny little OPC or URC in an out of the way locale. Or to a Classis meeting. A lot of local blog readers might discover that there’s a local pastor serving true food and true drink instead of scorpions.

    RS: Why “if a Trueman or a Horton” came to these tiny churches? Is that giving in to the celebrity mentality? I have heard an older (83 or so yoa) Reformed Presbyterian man preach and would rather hear him over Horton or Trueman. Oh, he is a retired pastor who preached in small churches his whole ministry. It does not take a gigantic intellect or a seminary professor to preach, it takes a godly man who knows God. Seminary profs ordinarily don’t preach well (IMO). On the other hand, if God is truly speaking through a man why would you not want people to hear? It is only the media that determines celebrity type of things rather than the truly good preachers. But let us not cut off the truly good preachers of the way to be heard by others with confusing them with those who have been bitten by the serpent of being a celebrity.

    Brian Lee: We can’t change evangelical (or mass) culture; never will. All we can hope for is that when our confessional churches are gifted with charismatic speakers and teachers, they stay true to their callings, and we don’t encourage them to cave to celebrity.

    RS: No one but God can truly change the heart of anyone, and that includes the desire for celebrity. Perhaps it would be better, though some might choke at the thought, that people would pray for God to deliver people from the desire to be a celebrity. They might even pray for them (gasp) during the week as well. A pastor or minister of any kind that desires celebrity status is nothing more than what is described in Philippians 2:21: ” For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.”

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  94. RS said “Matthew 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    Hate to say it, Richard, but that I believe that verse is being taken out of its context. Jesus’ point is that the Scribes couldn’t do it, you can’t. That’s why you need a Savior. The point of the passage is not “do better”.

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  95. Scott F Oakland, quoting RS: “Matthew 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    Scott Oakland: Hate to say it, Richard, but that I believe that verse is being taken out of its context. Jesus’ point is that the Scribes couldn’t do it, you can’t. That’s why you need a Savior. The point of the passage is not “do better”.

    RS: Perhaps, but remember the context that follows. It was a series of you have heard it was said, but I say to you. In other words, the Pharisees and the Scribes had one interpretation but Jesus’ reality went way beyond what they said. Mat 5:21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ‘ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

    RS: So the very next verse after v. 20 starts the point where Jesus shows the Scribes and Pharisees the real meaning of the Law, and it was a meaning which went beyond the external actions to the heart. One must keep the Law from the heart. Indeed this should drive each and every person to the reality that each person is now guilty of murder in the heart and needs a Savior. But it should also show us that we need a new heart and new life in the heart in order to love. Christ is not a Savior only, but He is now the very life in the heart of all His children. By grace people are enabled (though not perfectly) to love their neighbors instead of being nice to them while they hate them in their hearts.

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  96. RS: It is much easier to blast away at folks we don’t know than it is to deal with our own hearts. I get it.

    Me: I’m actually not convinced that you get it, unless you mean that you too will happily blast away at folks you don’t know than consider your own heart. Richard, I’m really not sure what your perceived purpose is here because I don’t get the sense that you’re interested in discussing the original post as much as you’re using someone else’s blog to preach your own platform. Why the pressing need to keep bothering everyone with the same off-topic Platonic-monastic-Methodist-holiness? To quote someone I read in the comments, “You disagree. I get it.”

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  97. I have a desire not to engage RS and yet he tempts me when he writes: unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees,you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”He is not talking about an imputed righteousness as He goes on to explain in the Sermon on the Mount. One is declared just by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone and no work can possibly add to
    His finished work. However, that does not mean that the Christ who lives in His people will not push them toward a true holiness that is by grace alone as well.”

    mcmark: Who told you that the righteousness which exceeds is not obtained by Christ and imputed by God? The Sermon does not go on to explain that. There are imperatives later in the Sermon and in no way do those commands tell us our obedience is the righteousness that exceeds. I don’t doubt that some commentators on Matthew have told you that, but Christ does not say our ethics will be better or more complete and sincere than that of the Pharisees. Pharisees are not accepted by God; they are dead workers God never knew, and therefore their works will be not be accepted by God.

    To think that you (with the help of grace) are going to outdo the Pharisee is to outPharisee the Pharisee. To me, this is not quibbling in fun. Your “however” is to me an abomination, and I think it is also to God, because it puts your supposed piety in competition with what Christ got done. No work can add to His Finished Work for the Elect and that Work will be Imputed to all His Elect. Period. Praise God. No “however”.

    I hate also that “as well” because it points us away from the cross and resurrection of Christ and back to you. How dare you call this the “true holiness”. Do you think the mere “pursuit” of perfection counts for anything before God? Is it somehow more real and true than being as Christ is in the world by imputation, legal identification with Christ’s death and resurrection?

    When you put gas in your car tomorrow (if you really exist, rs), why not put some dr pepper in the tank “as well”. You want something besides what Christ did already. You want for Christ to do in you something else “as well” so that you can figure into the mix. You don’t want to obey for no other reason than gratitude. You want to feel the “push” so that you can assure yourself that you are better than the Pharisee.

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  98. Darren: I’m actually not convinced that you get it, unless you mean that you too will happily blast away at folks you don’t know than consider your own heart. Richard, I’m really not sure what your perceived purpose is here because I don’t get the sense that you’re interested in discussing the original post as much as you’re using someone else’s blog to preach your own platform. Why the pressing need to keep bothering everyone with the same off-topic Platonic-monastic-Methodist-holiness? To quote someone I read in the comments, “You disagree. I get it.”

    RS: If you would go back and read where this (off the stated topic) started, you would find that in a comment by one John Yeazel, posted below for you to see. As far as my “Platonic-monastic-Methodist-holiness”, I am far from being a Methodist, monastic, or Platonic in that regard. While you may get it that you disagee with me, what you don’t get is where the disagreement really is. So read below the comment by John Yeazel and you will see where the topic got off at. It is not that he did anything wrong in writing what he did, but that is where the topic went astray just a bit.

    John Yeazel: You obviously have not seen Funeral Directors, Cemetery Owners and Concrete Burial Vault Companies party. You need to check out a state or national Funeral Home and Cemetery convention sometime. They party more heartily than confessional Lutherans do (pietistic Lutherans tend to be teetotalers). So, do you party Richard?

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  99. Earwig: “But, Sean, I think I see season 4 of “Breaking Bad” over in the corner. Netflix only goes up to season 3, so I’m staying.”

    Sean: Well just mind the corner marked “private benjamins” it’s no place for the faint of heart. I threatened to strike it with some dream therapy, it just chuckled at me and then slurped.

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  100. mark mcculley: I have a desire not to engage RS and yet he tempts me when he writes: “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees,you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He is not talking about an imputed righteousness as He goes on to explain in the Sermon on the Mount. One is declared just by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone and no work can possibly add to His finished work. However, that does not mean that the Christ who lives in His people will not push them toward a true holiness that is by grace alone as well.”

    mcmark: Who told you that the righteousness which exceeds is not obtained by Christ and imputed by God?

    RS: The context does. It is not that the imputed righteousness of Christ is not absolutely necessary for justification, but the text in its context is not talking about that. Read Matthew 5:21 and following and it is clearly seen.

    McMark: The Sermon does not go on to explain that.

    RS: But it does and that is explained in my original post on that subject.

    McMark: There are imperatives later in the Sermon and in no way do those commands tell us our obedience is the righteousness that exceeds. I don’t doubt that some commentators on Matthew have told you that, but Christ does not say our ethics will be better or more complete and sincere than that of the Pharisees. Pharisees are not accepted by God; they are dead workers God never knew, and therefore their works will be not be accepted by God.

    RS: Of course the Pharisees were not accepted by God and of course our obedience does not make us acceptable to God. However, that does not mean that the life of grace in the believer will not be manifested in a greater way than the death of the Pharisees. You could also read Matthew 23:2-5, 23-28 which gets at the same point as well. A person that is born again is a child of the living God and has the life of Christ in him or her. That life will be manifested in a much greater way than the non-life of the Pharisees.

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  101. mark mcculley: To think that you (with the help of grace) are going to outdo the Pharisee is to outPharisee the Pharisee.

    RS: No, it is the life of Christ in the believer. The Pharisees set up rules, yes, but they also dropped the standard of the Law when they did so. Jesus set the Law back up to its original standard and demonstrated that it must be kept from the heart and not just the externals. Those with Christ as their life have a different heart and a different life that dwells in them than the Pharisees did.

    McMark: To me, this is not quibbling in fun. Your “however” is to me an abomination, and I think it is also to God, because it puts your supposed piety in competition with what Christ got done. No work can add to His Finished Work for the Elect and that Work will be Imputed to all His Elect. Period. Praise God. No “however”.

    RS: You are completely wrong about what I am saying. No, I am not quibbling either. Of course no one can add to the finished work of Christ, but that is not simply a period. Here is a however. Part of the finished work of Christ is that He purchased the Holy Spirit and all spiritual blessings for His people (See Gal 3:13-14; Eph 1:1-4). He has lavished His people with grace and He has put His Spirit of love within them. They are no longer in bondage to sin, but now they are able to be partakers of the divine nature (II Pet 1:4) and partakers of His holiness (Heb 12:10). It is not that the justified believer earns anything by his works, but He is blessed to share in holiness.

    McMark: I hate also that “as well” because it points us away from the cross and resurrection of Christ and back to you. How dare you call this the “true holiness”.

    RS: Again you are completely wrong. Christ has purchased all spiritual blessings for His people and part of that is holiness. The very life in the believer is the resurrected Savior. So there is no way that anything else is true holiness. How can it point to me when it is all Christ and has been purchased as a gift by Him and given by grace? Biblical holiness is not a work, it is grace in the soul and purchased by grace. It would seem to me that your position leads to a holiness (of sorts) by works if all Christ did was save you and then leave you on your own to be good.

    McMark: Do you think the mere “pursuit” of perfection counts for anything before God?

    RS: It counts as His life in the soul and is the work of His grace in the person.

    McMark: Is it somehow more real and true than being as Christ is in the world by imputation, legal identification with Christ’s death and resurrection?

    RS: It is the result of bieng in Christ and Christ being in that person.

    McMark: When you put gas in your car tomorrow (if you really exist, rs), why not put some dr pepper in the tank “as well”. You want something besides what Christ did already. You want for Christ to do in you something else “as well” so that you can figure into the mix. You don’t want to obey for no other reason than gratitude. You want to feel the “push” so that you can assure yourself that you are better than the Pharisee.

    RS: Nah, the Dr. Pepper is for you. You seem to think that Christ died and was resurrected and then left it all up to us. No, the death of Christ has purchased the Spirit of holiness who will work spiritual blessings in His people. Part of that is holiness and a holiness that is of God and has no merit of the sinner in it at all. No one has anything to boast about except the cross of Christ, but that cross has purchased for more than you are willing to allow.

    Better than the Pharisee? One of the great blessings of the Law is that when it is not denigrated and brought down to a level human beings can keep it the Spirit uses it to show us our sin. So the Law shows me more of my sin than the Pharisees ever saw. But that too is a blessing because God blinds and hardens those He will not give Christ to.

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  102. Darryl:

    A few points.

    I increasingly worry about specialists wandering into fields in which and for which they are not qualified. This is a developing concern.

    A few illustrations: (1) An old federal Judge (300 cases and never overturned) approaches this scribe on theological questions–as the relationship has developed. An interesting dynamic. He knows he’s not a scholar or deeply read in theology. Yet, inversely, in law, “silence” and “open ears” is due by all other disciplines of history, sociology, etc., when this 81-year old man talks–even breathes–about law, SCOTUS, etc. And, he’s a generalist in a wide field of law but has taught law for 30 years. “All hands, maintain silence in and about the decks when the Judge speaks about law.” He brims with insights on his occasional tangents. The listeners–we students–would be legal geniuses if we remembered what this old Judge and Jurist had forgotten. Yet, the good Sir has limits. BTW, he abhors anti-intellectualism that he’s observed in Baptacostalism. (2) Or, on another front. An English prof, a PhD with specialization in Shakespeare, speaks with grave and deliberative insights on the 38 plays. “Silence” is due to her competence in this area. She too, like the Judge, is stellar. Yet, she realizes she’s not a specialist in English Reformation/Reformed studies, but she probes the limits of her specialty. She has limits. She knows them too. (3) Obviously, these two illustrations are metaphors for a much larger narrative with a current application.

    As to Dr. Trueman, have appreciated his historical caution. But, he–like all scholars–has limits and this has long been observed on this end. He’s often edgy in areas where he knows little more than an average Joe Schumcketelly. This has long been noted here. This scribe’s response? “Thanks, Carl, but that’s sorta out of your area of specialty.” He’s not a sociologist, psychologist or even systematician. I’m not interested in Carl’s views on Hebrew verbs, NT studies, or systematics for that matter, but am willing to hear him on “some” historical matters. Again, “some” historical matters. I didn’t take his views on T4G very seriously. He’s wandered off the reservation where he has some legitimacy.

    As for old C.J. Mahaney, none of them–including Carl–have done the homework on that scene, including Carl. I’ll put $1000 down on that one.

    As Robert Frost said somewhere, “Fences make for good neighbours.” We need to understand the value of fences and boundaries.

    Did Carl advocate for Confessional Churchmanship at T4G? If not, why not? If so, what was the response? What does “ex animo” subscription to the Westminster Standards mean for Professors at WTS-P? Is the WCF a document to be pulled from the shelf for periodic perusal in preparation for a presbytery meeting? Or, is it “the heart cry” from the pew and the pulpit? Or, from my view, liturgical discipline and piety? As to the latter, he knows nothing about it. As to the former, do we know what was advocated on that end? Confessional Churchmanship and catechetization?

    There are a few 100 questions deserving better answers.

    Regards to all.

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  103. Don,

    I’m wondering some of same things, but unfortunately T4G has been slow in posting the breakout sessions and panel discussions thus far. I want see to view or hear Dr. Trueman’s breakout session on the reformation and his panel discussion on Celebrity Pastors first. Knowing the T4G folks stacked the deck against him by filling his panel with Celebrity pastors, sorta like TGC did with Mark Dever on the discussion of Multi-site Churches. I mainly want to see if he remains on point in his criticism of Celebrity Pastor, Independent Churches, Mega Churches and Multi-site Churches. If so I really don’t see an issue.

    Dr. Trueman’s “These guys aren’t so bad after all” post after T4G, does worry me. But, I do think that Dr. Trueman does make a couple of valid points. That we should look at T4G and TGC as different animals, though many of the players are the same. At this point T4G is still just a bi-annual Celebrity Conference not a pseudo-movement or denomination like TGC tries to be

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  104. Viking: Good to see you back at Old Life.

    I for one don’t want to vote Richard off the island just yet, for reasons that will become obvious.

    I do want to say this to Richard now: Richard! Ha! I’ll drink to that!

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  105. Richard, I think Calvin’s Institutes, Book 3, Ch. 19, Sec. 7 might be helpful:

    Section Seven: Third part of liberty, viz., the free rise of things indifferent. The knowledge of this part necessary to remove despair and superstition. Superstition described.

    The third part of this liberty is that we are not bound before God to any observance of external things which are in themselves indifferent, (“adiafora”) but that we are now at full liberty either to use or omit them. The knowledge of this liberty is very necessary to us; where it is wanting our consciences will have no rest, there will be no end of superstition. In the present day many think us absurd in raising a question as to the free eating of flesh, the free use of dress and holidays, and similar frivolous trifles, as they think them; but they are of more importance than is commonly supposed. For when once the conscience is entangled in the net, it enters a long and inextricable labyrinth, from which it is afterwards most difficult to escape. When a man begins to doubt whether it is lawful for him to use linen for sheets, shirts, napkins, and handkerchiefs, he will not long be secure as to hemp, and will at last have doubts as to tow; for he will revolve in his mind whether he cannot sup without napkins, or dispense with handkerchiefs. Should he deem a daintier food unlawful, he will afterwards feel uneasy for using loafbread and common eatables, because he will think that his body might possibly be supported on a still meaner food. If he hesitates as to a more genial wine, he will scarcely drink the worst with a good conscience; at last he will not dare to touch water if more than usually sweet and pure. In fine, he will come to this, that he will deem it criminal to trample on a straw lying in his way. For it is no trivial dispute that is here commenced, the point in debate being, whether the use of this thing or that is in accordance with the divine will, which ought to take precedence of all our acts and counsels. Here some must by despair be hurried into an abyss, while others, despising God and casting off his fear, will not be able to make a way for themselves without ruin. When men are involved in such doubts whatever be the direction in which they turn, every thing they see must offend their conscience.

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  106. Another one for RS!

    I’m thinking of devising a drinking game in honor of and dedicated to Richard in which every time Richard posts here, or any time any of the following words or phrases–or forms thereof–are used, the players must take a shot* of Jägermeister: pietism, legalism, Pharisee, law, rules, labyrinth, monastic, standards, really really dry humor, unholy dream, wet dream, show about nothing (self-referential?).

    I’m sure I’ve forgotten some important ones but that list is already quite long. Perhaps absinthe instead of Jäger, so as to keep the mind clear.

    *Two shots if John Thompson ever returns and posts.

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  107. Thus we shall so temper the use of our freedom as to allow for the ignorance of our weak brothers, but for the rigor of the Pharisees, not at all!
    –JC, Inst., Book 3, Ch. 19, Sec. 11

    I said “Pharisees,” so a shot of Pernod goes down the hatch.

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  108. Joe:

    Please keep us posted re: mp3s and audio posts from T4G. I must say that T4G wearies me. What’s on offer beyond our grand Reformation Confessions, catechisms, and, for me, that old Prayer Book?

    A sermon by C.J. Mahaney? Lig? Mark? Al? God love em’ all, but His Majesty has bequeathed magnificent documents to “us and our children” to a 1000 generations, lest we forget.

    We need rules for the Judge, rules of evidence, rules for the jury, rules of direct and cross-examination, and rules of deliberation.

    Brothers and sisters, let’s hear the facts. Establish the rules. Adjudicate the case thoughtfully.

    Dr. Trueman’s post does little to help at this point.

    Regards to all.

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  109. @R.L. Keener, glad to be back.

    @Richard, if you want a demanding, austere, and stern set of pieties, try the old 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Of course, the Baptacostals know nothing of these things. De nada. De nada at TGC or T4G. Regrettably, neither do the Presbyterians know of these disciplines. Richard, to satisfy your pietistic yearnings, try Morning and Evening Prayers, 365/52/24/7, including the Psalter once a month, lections through the NT thrice and OT once. Every day. Every morning. Every evening. Every day, 365/52/24/7. It will demand “your utmost.” Richard, this old goat has been on this very watch for 32 years.

    Richard, you’ll feel like the veritable and churlish skunk that you assuredly are (as we all are), a man of gross and manifold iniquities, and, if faithful, you’ll rejoice in the repeated affirmations of absolution based upon the imputed merits of Christ, along with appropriate responses of praise and joy, e.g. the Venite in response to the Psalm-singing, the Te Deum to the OT lections, and the Benedictus (Lk.1.68-80) to NT lections. These disciplines will drive the Gospel into your DNA and bones. These demands will more than satisfy your energies, if committed to Biblical prayers, doctrines, disciplines and pieties. It’s for disciplined Marines, not sloppy civilians which you assuredly are not. I recommend these austerities.

    Want an austere and demanding piety? Try old Prayer Book Anglicanism.

    And thanks to Darryl for hosting and tolerating this old Dordt-Calvinist in the Anglican school. Few of us left anymore, Darryl.

    Regards to all.

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  110. Richard,

    I was just taking the host’s comment to another level; besides, you should know that confessional Lutherans just love to harass pietists and go out of their way to do it- do you expect any different here at oldlife?

    D. G. Hart

    Posted April 18, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Richard, I hope you’re sitting down. Zacharias Ursinus’ definition of drunkenness was simple — if you don’t wretch the next morning you were sober.

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  111. Precisianist Strain: Disciplinary Religion and Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638 (Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia), by Theodore Dwight Bozeman, p20:

    “Penitential teaching expressly echoed and bolstered moral priorities. In contrast, again, to Luther, whose penitential teaching stressed the rueful sinner’s attainment of peace through acknowledgment of fault and trust in unconditional pardon, many puritans included moral
    renewal. In unmistakable continuity with historic Catholic doctrine that tied ‘contrition, by definition, to the intention to amend,’ they required an actual change in the penitent. For them, a renewal of moral resolve was integral to the penitential experience, and a few included the manifest alteration of behavior. They agreed that moral will or effort cannot merit forgiveness, yet rang variations on the theme that repentance is ‘an inward sorrow . . . whereunto is also added a . . . desire to frame our life in all points according to the holy will of God expressed in the divine scriptures.” However qualified by reference to the divine initiative and by denial of efficacy to human works, such teaching also adumbrated preparationist teaching of later decades.”

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  112. “such teaching also adumbrated preparationist teaching of later decades.”

    Really?! Well, I’ll have to drop that on the biblical rational group at church, and then dive for cover.

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  113. Sean,

    No doubt. I totally agree with Gordon. In fact, I use it to teach Intro to Preaching to RTS students.

    We let far too many insurance salesmen occupy pulpits. And, to be fair, this is why so many run after the celebrities.

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  114. John Yeazel: Richard, I was just taking the host’s comment to another level; besides, you should know that confessional Lutherans just love to harass pietists and go out of their way to do it- do you expect any different here at oldlife?

    RS: It is an honor to be the object of your harassing efforts and I don’t expect any different. Not speaking of you, however, at some point one becomes the middle three of the nine letters in the word “harassing” if one is not careful and uses zeal without knowledge. One could wish for confessing Lutherans rather than confessional Lutherans, but I suppose that would move them too close to piety for comfort. But remember that Luther said that if one truly repented one was a repenter for the rest of his life. That sounds like piety to me.

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  115. McMark quoting Bozeman: “Penitential teaching expressly echoed and bolstered moral priorities. In contrast, again, to Luther, whose penitential teaching stressed the rueful sinner’s attainment of peace through acknowledgment of fault and trust in unconditional pardon, many puritans included moral renewal. In unmistakable continuity with historic Catholic doctrine that tied ‘contrition, by definition, to the intention to amend,’ they required an actual change in the penitent.

    RS: Yet they knew that true renewal was by an act of grace alone. The grace that pardons will create an actual change in the penitent.

    McMark quoting Bozeman: For them, a renewal of moral resolve was integral to the penitential experience, and a few included the manifest alteration of behavior. They agreed that moral will or effort cannot merit forgiveness, yet rang variations on the theme that repentance is ‘an inward sorrow . . . whereunto is also added a . . . desire to frame our life in all points according to the holy will of God expressed in the divine scriptures.” However qualified by reference to the divine initiative and by denial of efficacy to human works, such teaching also adumbrated preparationist teaching of later decades.”

    RS: But of course the Bible does teach that God only dwells with the contrite of soul, so maybe they were biblical in that. “However qualified by reference to the divine initiative and by denial of efficacy to human works, such teaching also adumbrated preparationist teaching of later decades.” My guess is that Bozeman did not read the Puritans very closely in this regard. While I have not read each and every Puritan, I have read many of them. The many that I have read certainly denied any efficacy to human works and certainly also taught a form of preparationism. But they taught that God was the one that prepared the heart at His own initiative. It was God who humbled the heart and it was God who brought contrition to the soul before He regenerated it. Only the humble receive grace so it must be God who brings true humility into the soul. Of course a soul must be prepared before it can be converted. It must see that it cannot save itself and has no hope in itself at all before it can look to Christ alone. Human works cannot prepare the soul for grace, only God can prepare the soul for grace. In this way it is grace and grace alone that saves the soul.

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  116. Donald Philip Veitch: @Richard, if you want a demanding, austere, and stern set of pieties, try the old 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Of course, the Baptacostals know nothing of these things. De nada. De nada at TGC or T4G. Regrettably, neither do the Presbyterians know of these disciplines. Richard, to satisfy your pietistic yearnings, try Morning and Evening Prayers, 365/52/24/7, including the Psalter once a month, lections through the NT thrice and OT once. Every day. Every morning. Every evening. Every day, 365/52/24/7. It will demand “your utmost.”

    RS: I used to have one of those around here.

    Donald Philip Veitch: Richard, this old goat has been on this very watch for 32 years.

    RS: And here I had hoped you were an old sheep. A ram no doubt, but still a sheep.

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  117. RL Keener: I do want to say this to Richard now: Richard! Ha! I’ll drink to that!
    I said “Pharisees,” so a shot of Pernod goes down the hatch.

    Holy Scripture:
    Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.

    Proverbs 23:29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things. 34 And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. 35 “They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink.”

    Proverbs 31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink,

    Genesis 9:21 He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.

    2 Samuel 11:13 Now David called him, and he ate and drank before him, and he made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his bed with his lord’s servants, but he did not go down to his house.

    Isaiah 28:7 And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink; They reel while having visions, They totter when rendering judgment.

    Hosea 4:11 Harlotry, wine and new wine take away the understanding.

    Habakkuk 2:16 “You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness. The cup in the LORD’S right hand will come around to you, And utter disgrace will come upon your glory.

    1 Corinthians 6:10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

    Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

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  118. Mr. Smith,
    I enjoy reading this blog and sometimes try to read the comments. How on earth do you have time to answer all of these commenters one by one and point by point? I hope you are a retired gentleman because if not, I imagine your employer despises the oldlife blog. You literally must spend hours analyzing the comments and then commenting yourself. It must be exhausting.

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  119. Robin: Mr. Smith, I enjoy reading this blog and sometimes try to read the comments. How on earth do you have time to answer all of these commenters one by one and point by point? I hope you are a retired gentleman because if not, I imagine your employer despises the oldlife blog. You literally must spend hours analyzing the comments and then commenting yourself. It must be exhausting.

    RS: Well, I am not exactly retired, but I don’t have an employer looking over my shoulder. It probably does not take as much time as you seem to think as I have dealt with many of these type of questions and I can type fairly fast. At times it does get tiring, but it can be enjoyable too. That is why I try to inject the dry humor or a bit of word play at times and see if anyone notices a sour old pietist (and sober too) injecting just a bit of humor. But there is a serious side as well. Anytime the Gospel is at stake in a discussion, then it is seriousness at the highest level. Thanks for the nice note. Not many confessionalists have niceness in their confessions.

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  120. Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

    the pietist puritan concludes from the above

    1. The wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience, and we know who they are because they continue to sin, and even on purpose.
    2. In reality it makes no sense that God is going to punish the condemned non-elect for these sins and not also punish the justified elect for the same specific sins.
    3. Therefore, the pietist puritan concludes that the justified elect don’t commit these sins, or at least not for long, and never on purpose.

    mcmark: I thank God for another gospel, one in which Christ’s life in justified sinners gives us assurance that sin shall not be our master, because we are not under law but under grace. This other good news gospel teaches us to fear God and God’s law, because we know that not even Christ in us satisfied God’s law and we trust in the death of Christ as that which answers the demands of God’s holy law. Yes, those who are without Christ are under the wrath of God for the very same sins which we continue to commit. Our hope is not that we are no longer coveting idolaters, but that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    Why tell Christians not to be coveting idolaters, if Christians can’t be, at least not on purpose?

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  121. RS: It is an honor to be the object of your harassing efforts and I don’t expect any different. Not speaking of you, however, at some point one becomes the middle three of the nine letters in the word “harassing” if one is not careful and uses zeal without knowledge. One could wish for confessing Lutherans rather than confessional Lutherans, but I suppose that would move them too close to piety for comfort. But remember that Luther said that if one truly repented one was a repenter for the rest of his life. That sounds like piety to me.

    Me responding: I guess I am close to that point of becoming the proverbial ass. It would make my day if you started calling me bad names.

    I am not sure how to decipher and interpret your zeal without knowledge comment. Are you telling me I do not understand Luther or what? Or, that piety and holy living is the result of grace worked into the heart of someone? With your subjective theology and constant looking for evidence of true repentance in others which manifests itself in a life of holiness and obedience to the Law of God (love is part of the Law you know) it seems to me that you don’t know how to distinquish the Law and the Gospel in your reading of the scriptures. Therefore, you are the one who does not really understand Luther. You sound more like a Roman Catholic theologian or a preReformation patristic church father. Quoting Scott Clark in his chapter entitled “Letter and Spirit” in the book COVENANT, JUSTIFICATION AND PASTORAL MINISTRY, “Rejecting the old law/new law scheme (the way most prereformation theologians distinguished the law of Moses from the law of Christ- my addition), Martin Luther capitalized on Augustine’s insight that 2 Corinthians 3:6 teaches that the law is a killing letter for sinners. Where Augustione understood the gospel to be Spirit-wrought sanctity in the sinner, Luther defined it as Christ’s accomplishment of redemption for the sinner. In contrast to the patristic and medieval doctrine of justification through sanctification, Luther declared a “joyous exchange” wherein ‘the rich, noble, pious bridegroom Christ takes this poor, despised, wicked little whore in marriage, redeems her of all evil, and adorns her with all his goods.”

    A little later on in the chapter Clark makes this comment, “In a 1532 sermon on Galatians Luther defined the law as ‘God’s Word and command in which he commands us what we are to do and not to do and demands our obedience.’ The Gospel does not demand our obedience for justification, but ‘bids us simply receive the offered grace of the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation.’ So basic is this doctrine that every Christian ‘should know and be able to state this difference. If this ability is lacking, one cannot tell a Christian from a heathen or a Jew; of such importance is this differentiation……..’the law keeps harrying you and accusing you through your own conscience, which testifies against you, and absolutely demanding the judgment upon you.’

    So, your constant scripture references to the Law’s imperatives are accusing you while you are constantly using these imperatives to accuse others. As McMark was pointing out, the only difference between a Christian and a “heathen or a Jew,” as Luther put it, is the ability to distinguish the law and gospel and then put ones faith and trust in the Gospel. It is not the behaviour which distinguishes the Christian but faith in Christ accomplishing redemption for the sinner, period. You always want to go subjective, like the medieval theologians, and make the inward Spirit- wrought sanctity the distinguishing feature. You lay heavy burdens and yokes on sinners and don’t see that you are a chief of the wretched sinners. Join the rest of humanity Richard and admit you are in dire need of the Gospel. REPENT!!!

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  122. I just don’t get why people still bother with RS? The only question/thing I have for him is: why won’t you reveal what denomination you’re ordained in?

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  123. McMark and Yeazel, well said. Because of all of this, (seriously) I had a dream about Jerry Seinfeld on the Loveboat. Zrim, can you help me?

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  124. DJ Cimino: I just don’t get why people still bother with RS? The only question/thing I have for him is: why won’t you reveal what denomination you’re ordained in?

    RS: No need to bother.

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  125. John Yeazel, quoting RS: “It is an honor to be the object of your harassing efforts and I don’t expect any different. Not speaking of you, however, at some point one becomes the middle three of the nine letters in the word “harassing” if one is not careful and uses zeal without knowledge. One could wish for confessing Lutherans rather than confessional Lutherans, but I suppose that would move them too close to piety for comfort. But remember that Luther said that if one truly repented one was a repenter for the rest of his life. That sounds like piety to me.”

    John Yeazel: Me responding: I guess I am close to that point of becoming the proverbial ass. It would make my day if you started calling me bad names.

    RS: Sorry that I cannot make your day, but my tongue was firmly planted in my keyboard when I typed that comment.

    John Yeazel: I am not sure how to decipher and interpret your zeal without knowledge comment.

    RS: It was not specifically toward you. That whole post was typed with a rather light heart.

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  126. John Yeazel: I am not sure how to decipher and interpret your zeal without knowledge comment. Are you telling me I do not understand Luther or what? Or, that piety and holy living is the result of grace worked into the heart of someone? With your subjective theology and constant looking for evidence of true repentance in others which manifests itself in a life of holiness and obedience to the Law of God (love is part of the Law you know) it seems to me that you don’t know how to distinquish the Law and the Gospel in your reading of the scriptures. Therefore, you are the one who does not really understand Luther. You sound more like a Roman Catholic theologian or a preReformation patristic church father.

    RS: Thank you for the last comment. I really like some of the fathers. But as to Luther, a few years before he died he thought that his work on the catechism and his book on The Bondage of the Will were his only writings worth keeping. I conclude, then, that the heart of his theology is in those works regardless of what he wrote in other places, and perhaps his other writings should be interpreted in light of that work.

    While you conclude that my theology is subjective, I conclude that you are quite wrong in that. You are making some huge assumptions (as do others). For example, if it is grace that works in the soul of a person than what you view as subjective could indeed be the objective work of the Spirit. Holiness is not subjective in all of its parts, but true holiness is the objective work of God in and through the human soul.

    John Yeazel: Quoting Scott Clark in his chapter entitled “Letter and Spirit” in the book COVENANT, JUSTIFICATION AND PASTORAL MINISTRY, “Rejecting the old law/new law scheme (the way most prereformation theologians distinguished the law of Moses from the law of Christ- my addition), Martin Luther capitalized on Augustine’s insight that 2 Corinthians 3:6 teaches that the law is a killing letter for sinners. Where Augustione understood the gospel to be Spirit-wrought sanctity in the sinner, Luther defined it as Christ’s accomplishment of redemption for the sinner. In contrast to the patristic and medieval doctrine of justification through sanctification, Luther declared a “joyous exchange” wherein ‘the rich, noble, pious bridegroom Christ takes this poor, despised, wicked little whore in marriage, redeems her of all evil, and adorns her with all his goods.”

    A little later on in the chapter Clark makes this comment, “In a 1532 sermon on Galatians Luther defined the law as ‘God’s Word and command in which he commands us what we are to do and not to do and demands our obedience.’ The Gospel does not demand our obedience for justification, but ‘bids us simply receive the offered grace of the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation.’ So basic is this doctrine that every Christian ‘should know and be able to state this difference. If this ability is lacking, one cannot tell a Christian from a heathen or a Jew; of such importance is this differentiation……..’the law keeps harrying you and accusing you through your own conscience, which testifies against you, and absolutely demanding the judgment upon you.’

    RS: But your mistake in this regarding what I write is an assumption that I believe that this holiness or works have something to do with justification. I do not. Justification is by grace alone through faith alone. But the grace that saves from the guilt of the law is also the grace that saves from the power of the law and of sin. One is not saved by holiness, but saved for holiness.

    John Yeazel: So, your constant scripture references to the Law’s imperatives are accusing you while you are constantly using these imperatives to accuse others. As McMark was pointing out, the only difference between a Christian and a “heathen or a Jew,” as Luther put it, is the ability to distinguish the law and gospel and then put ones faith and trust in the Gospel.

    RS: And that is quite wrong. The believer is a new creation in Christ Jesus (II Cor 5:17). The believer has the life of Christ rather than the life of self (Gal 2:20). The believer has the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22ff). The believer has the love of God dwelling in him or her (I John 4:7-21). In fact, the book of I John sets out several differences between the believer and the unbeliever based on the fact that the believer has eternal life and fellowship with God.

    John Yeazel: It is not the behaviour which distinguishes the Christian but faith in Christ accomplishing redemption for the sinner, period.

    RS: Here are several verses that show the error of that statement.
    1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

    1 John 2:3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

    1 John 2:4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

    1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:

    1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

    1 John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

    1 John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

    1 John 3:6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

    1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

    John Yeazel: You always want to go subjective, like the medieval theologians, and make the inward Spirit- wrought sanctity the distinguishing feature.

    RS: Those who are truly saved are the temple of the Spirit of God. His work is truly objective.

    John Yeazel: You lay heavy burdens and yokes on sinners and don’t see that you are a chief of the wretched sinners.

    RS: Not at all, just pointing out what grace does in the soul of those who have Christ. Perhaps I am the chief of all wretched sinners, but that says nothing against the objective evidence of what God does in the souls of those He has saved from hell, sin, and the devil. Remember, salvation to be salvation means to be saved from sin. There would be no hell apart from sin. If God truly loves a sinner, He works in that sinner to deliver that person from sin which He hates and which brings sinners misery.

    John Yeazel: Join the rest of humanity Richard and admit you are in dire need of the Gospel. REPENT!!!

    RS: Of course every human being must have the Gospel worked in his or her soul to be saved from hell, saved from the power and bondage of sin, and from the wiles and deception of the devil. Again, the Gospel of the glory of God in Christ is by grace and grace alone. God saves sinners to the praise of the glory of His grace. But part of this salvation is that these are truly regenerate and are new creatures who have a new nature. This new nature grows in hating sin and turning from it. Those who repent are repenters for the rest of their lives. Those who repent are sworn enemies of sin which is that Christ died for.

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  127. Because of all of this, (seriously) I had a dream about Jerry Seinfeld on the Loveboat. Zrim, can you help me?

    John S., I was reviewing S3 of Breaking Bad last night in preparation for S4. Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White, was Jerry’s dentist (Tim Whatley, who converted to Judaism just for the jokes). I’m thinking something telepathic was going on between us. Seems as feasible as Richard’s dream catching. If not, there’s a Kevin Bacon joke in there somewhere.

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  128. Richard,

    You still are not seeing the distinction between the Law and the Gospel. You are also taking verses out of the book of 1John and not reading the whole book in context. You don’t see the Law and the Gospel in the book of 1John; you just see commands (Law). You see holiness as something that is progressively worked in the sinner by the Holy Spirit, not something the sinner has as a legal transfer. You see the Gospel as something that has to be worked into a soul- this is what I mean when I say you always go subjective. The Gospel happened outside of us- the new creation can be interpreted as that legal transfer of our sin to Christ and Christ’s righteousness to us. What does it mean to be simultaneously justified yet fallen (sinful)? You see regeneration as a subjective and ontological change inside the sinner- something that we feel. We are not talking the same language. The 1John scholars will have to take it from here. That is about as far as I am willing to go at this time. I do not think you are interpreting 1John correctly Richard. It will take a lot of time and effort to convince you though.

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  129. RS: Thank you for the last comment. I really like some of the fathers. But as to Luther, a few years before he died he thought that his work on the catechism and his book on The Bondage of the Will were his only writings worth keeping. I conclude, then, that the heart of his theology is in those works regardless of what he wrote in other places, and perhaps his other writings should be interpreted in light of that work

    Me responding: So the 500 years of Luther scholarship are to be discarded on the whim of what Luther said about his own writings? Come on Richard, you are not serious are you?

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  130. Agreed, Richard is not exegeting properly. He mentioned Matthew previously, now 1 John, out of its context. Law and Gospel are being interchanged more and more with every post. What denomination did you say you were in again?

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  131. John Yeazel: Richard,
    You still are not seeing the distinction between the Law and the Gospel. You are also taking verses out of the book of 1John and not reading the whole book in context. You don’t see the Law and the Gospel in the book of 1John; you just see commands (Law).

    Scott F Oakland: Agreed, Richard is not exegeting properly. He mentioned Matthew previously, now 1 John, out of its context. Law and Gospel are being interchanged more and more with every post.

    RS: You might take a look at the verses again from I John and then the verses below. The Law was never intended to save sinners, but it tells us the nature of a holy God and what grace works in the soul. Being saved does not release us from the obligation to love God, but instead we now have the love of God in the soul which enables us to pursue Him in holiness. The verses from I John are very clear that there are signs in those who have eternal life dwelling in them. That is one of the reasons that John wrote the epistle in the first place, or at least that is what he said in 5:13. He wrote it so people could know that they had eternal life, that same eternal life who is Jesus Christ (See I John 1:1-6; 5:20). One of the signs of eternal life is true love. A second sign of eternal life and love is that one keeps His commands.

    Scott: What denomination did you say you were in again?

    RS: I don’t think I ever said it the first time. That is just one more thing people would use to try to lock me in to a position I don’t hold.

    Romans 3:31 “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” Those who are saved apart from the Law now establish the Law.

    Romans 8:4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    James 2:8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

    Heb 8:10 “FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 11 “AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. 12 “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”

    RS: Notice that part of the New Covenant itself is that God will put His laws into people’s minds and write them on their hearts. True enough a person is declared just apart from their keeping the Law and by Christ alone, but the one that loves God will want to keep His law of love which then flows out in keeping His commandments. Does it justifiy them? Not at all, but it shows that they have eternal life in them as I John 5:13 says.

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  132. John Yeazel, quoting RS: “Thank you for the last comment. I really like some of the fathers. But as to Luther, a few years before he died he thought that his work on the catechism and his book on The Bondage of the Will were his only writings worth keeping. I conclude, then, that the heart of his theology is in those works regardless of what he wrote in other places, and perhaps his other writings should be interpreted in light of that work”

    John Yeazel: Me responding: So the 500 years of Luther scholarship are to be discarded on the whim of what Luther said about his own writings? Come on Richard, you are not serious are you?

    RS: Why do we think that what Luther said was on a whim? Whatever scholarship says, I tend to take the word of the man who knew his own writings. Every person changes his views as he gets older and learns more. There are men who change positions entirely from their younger years to their later years. When Luther said in his later years what his most important writings were, I believe him over the scholars. Luther is a primary source on what he considered to be his most important writings and those that best revealed what he believed.

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  133. Whichever denom it is, it must be the one to get a gig in. large swaths of time seem readily available.

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  134. Scott F Oakland: Agreed, Richard is not exegeting properly. He mentioned Matthew previously, now 1 John, out of its context. Law and Gospel are being interchanged more and more with every post.

    RS: It is easy to throw out the words or thought that another is exegeting improperly. Perhaps it would be helpful for you to show how I am doing that from the verses from I John that I gave earlier.

    RS: Here are several verses that show the error of that statement. I will give the verse and then the basic thought.

    1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
    RS: One point of writing I John was so that people would not sin. The Gospel is not contrary to the desire for holiness.

    1 John 2:3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.
    RS: Eternal life is to know God (John 17:2-3; I John 4:7-8). How can we know if we have come to know Him or have eternal life? One way is if we keep His commandments.

    1 John 2:4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
    RS: One way to know those who do not know Him or have eternal life, is if they do not keep His commandments. People are not saved by keeping the commandments, but those who are saved want to keep them and part of being a Christian is to keep the commandments.

    1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:
    RS: Again, those who keep His Word (and only those) the love of God is perfected in them and that is how we can know we are in Him.

    1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
    RS: A person that loves the world is one that disobeys the command for us not to love the world and so the love of the Father (a sign of eternal life) is not in that person.

    1 John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
    RS: Another way to see if a person is born of God is if that person practices righteousness.

    1 John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
    RS: All those who have a hope fixed on Christ purifies Himself and Christ is the standard for that purity.

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  135. Where does the word “soul” appear in I John? Where does the idea of “in the soul” appear in I John? What does the Bible say the “soul” is? Does the Bible say that the “soul” is something inside you? When Christ “poured out his soul to death” (Isaiah 53), what does that mean? Does it mean that Christ poured out his “new nature” or that He poured out his “dead soul” or his “living soul”?

    The “Old Creation” Is Not Inside Sinners The justified elect pass over from being part of the old creation to being legally part of the new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, new creation! The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

    Galatians 6:15 “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but new creation.”

    Where does the Bible talk about the new creation being a new nature inside a person? I am not denying the new birth or the absolute necessity for it. I am only saying that the Bible tells us that the “new man” has to do with a change in legal state.

    II Corinthians 5:14 “one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sakes died and was raised.”

    “Those who live” means all those who are justified. The category of “ all have died” is not about a change of substance or nature but about an imputed legal identification.. The new man is not gradual transformation.

    It’s an either or—- Tthis legal state or that legal state. Old or new. Only for those now in Christ legally has the old has passed. For some of the elect, God has already declared the legal verdict. One day, when Christ comes, their resurrection will be visible evidence of that verdict.

    Carol Hoch Jr: The background of the “new creation language is Isaiah 43:16-21, Is 65:17, and Is 66:22…Should “he is” be supplied in II Cor 5:17a? No–if any person is in Christ, new creation. To insert “he is” in 5:17 wrongly narrows the scope of the new creation to an individual. , p161

    The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology: All Things New, Baker, 1995

    John R. W. Stott, Men Made New: An Exposition of Romans 5-8 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966), 45: “
    The ‘old self’ denotes, not our old unregenerate nature, but our old condemned in Adam life—not the part of myself which is corrupt, but my former self. So what was crucified with Christ was not a part of us called our old nature, but the whole of us as we were before we were converted. This should be plain because in this chapter the phrase ‘our old self was crucified’ (verse 6) is equivalent to ‘we…died to sin (verse 2).”

    The crucifixion of the “old man” refers to a definitive break with the past in Adam and is something God declares to be true of the elect when God justifies them by imputation. The justified sinner is set apart legally from the community of Adam by being placed into the death of Christ to sin.

    In Ephesians 2:15, the Jewish elect and the Gentile elect have been justified and reconciled, and together in Christ they form the “new man” which is a new redemptive-historical society in which all have free and equal access to God and are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (2:5-6).

    Romans 6:6 is still thinking of the two humanities (and their heads) as in Romans 5:12-21.15 The “old man,” then, must be who the elect were “in Adam,” that is, in the old age of guilt, death and judgment. The focus is corporate. Thus, the “old man” is not a sinful nature, and it is not corruption on the inside.

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  136. Richard, Keeping the moral Law well – but not perfectly – can be done by Mormons also. Would you say they are fulfilling the law? At least partly? And what is the measuring device we use to figure out how well we are performing? Somehow you’re implying that the Law sanctifies. That isn’t its function, it can only accuse. That’s the problem with a moralistic approach to the Law. It must be kept perfectly. And it can’t. Not by you or by me. Back to the Gospel again.

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  137. I John 4:17 explains that God’s election (love) is “perfected with us, so that we have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in the world.”

    Legal justification is the only way the elect can be as He is in the world. (Check out your commentaries on this: even commentators who deny that the “fine linen” of the saints (John’s Revelation) is by imputation, even most of these commentators agree that I John 4 is about God’s love resulting in legal union with Christ and His obedience.) .

    I John 3 is about the difference between a Nicodemus and a prodigal publican, about the difference between a religious Cain and a religious Abel. Think of the context. This is not about Abel having a better inside than another person! The religion of Cain is nothing but evil deeds.

    The reason Cain hated Abel was that Cain wanted to glory in/ rejoice in (Phil 3:3) the deeds done by his false god IN himself. Cain refused to put to death (not count) those deeds (Rom 8:13) but instead wanted to worship a god who would accept Cain’s credit for producing life in Cain.

    To pass over from death to life is to be put into the new man, to be given a new legal state, in which one’s confidence is not in what God does in you but rather in what God has done in Christ outside you. Only in this way can we be in the world as Christ was in the world.

    The Cains of this world are ready for a self-examination and contrast in terms of their morality. They are Pharisees who contrast well with alcoholics and people who watch the Simpsons on TV. But these Cains “do not practice righteousness” (I John 3;10). These Cains will not come to the light, because they love darkness and the light of the gospel (God forgives sinners by Christ’s death) keeps telling these Cains that their deeds are evil. All their deeds, both moral and religious. (John 3:19).

    These Cains want to thank their god not only for the deeds they do but also for putting “life in their souls”. But the true God won’t accept their thanks. And those like Abel who worship in truth won’t fellowship with that self-righteous religion. That’s why Cain hated Abel.

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  138. McMark: Where does the word “soul” appear in I John? Where does the idea of “in the soul” appear in I John? What does the Bible say the “soul” is? Does the Bible say that the “soul” is something inside you? When Christ “poured out his soul to death” (Isaiah 53), what does that mean? Does it mean that Christ poured out his “new nature” or that He poured out his “dead soul” or his “living soul”?

    John 12:27 “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour ‘? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
    3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers

    RS: The word “soul” is a common way of referring to the non-body part of man, though it does not always have to mean precisely that. In the NAS it occurs 276 times.

    McMark: The “Old Creation” Is Not Inside Sinners The justified elect pass over from being part of the old creation to being legally part of the new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, new creation! The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

    RS: So the heart of man is dead but is made alive is not a reality in the person? So those who are made new are not really made new inside? Those who are born from above are not really born from above? Those who are dead in sin are not made alive in Christ as a reality? Those who are by nature children of wrath are not given a new nature so that they are children of God? Those with unbelieving hearts are not given believing hearts? Those who have no love for God are not given a true love that dwells in them? Sorry, but I think that the Bible is quite clear that something does happen in the person. Unbelievers follow the fruits of the flesh and believers have the fruit of the Spirit who dwells in them.

    McMark: Galatians 6:15 “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but new creation.”

    Where does the Bible talk about the new creation being a new nature inside a person? I am not denying the new birth or the absolute necessity for it. I am only saying that the Bible tells us that the “new man” has to do with a change in legal state.

    RS: That is an incredible interpretation that is more in accord with Deism than the living God who dwells in His people. Where does the Bible talk about a new creation of God that is not really a new creation but is something that refers to something way out there but really not in there? II Cor 3:18, 4:6 are still true.
    Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    Ephesians 4:24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

    Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him–

    McMark: Romans 6:6 is still thinking of the two humanities (and their heads) as in Romans 5:12-21.15 The “old man,” then, must be who the elect were “in Adam,” that is, in the old age of guilt, death and judgment. The focus is corporate. Thus, the “old man” is not a sinful nature, and it is not corruption on the inside.

    RS: Romans 7:5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

    Romans 7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.

    Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

    Romans 8:4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    Romans 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

    Ephesians 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

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  139. Scott F Oakland: Richard, Keeping the moral Law well – but not perfectly – can be done by Mormons also. Would you say they are fulfilling the law? At least partly?

    RS: Not at all.

    Scott F Oakland: And what is the measuring device we use to figure out how well we are performing?

    RS: Read and then argue with I John. It tells us that if we love God we will obey His commands. It tells us that if we have eternal life, we will keep His commands.

    Scott F Oakland: Somehow you’re implying that the Law sanctifies. That isn’t its function, it can only accuse. That’s the problem with a moralistic approach to the Law. It must be kept perfectly. And it can’t. Not by you or by me. Back to the Gospel again.

    RS: Of course the Law always drives a person to the Gospel, but saved people are necesarily sanctified. There is no such thing as a believing heart that does not love God and there is no such thing as a heart that loves God that does not obey His commands. According to Colossians 1:27 and context the great mystery hidden from the ages is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is Christ dwelling in the soul that gives the soul hunger for holiness and the power to overcome sin. So if the Gospel has to do with Christ in the soul and the life of the soul is Christ, then where is the problem with the soul longing and craving to be more holy and to keep the commands of God? After all, the Law is a reflection of His holiness.

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  140. rs:The word “soul” is a common way of referring to the non-body part of man, though it does not always have to mean precisely that. In the NAS it occurs 276 times.

    mcmark: “not always have to be precisely”? In the Bible, how many of these 276 times does it mean “the non-body part”? Make a rough estimate. Begin with Genesis 2:7, take a look at Isaiah 53, think about “souls on the ship” in Acts….I don’ t think you should settle for what is a common mistake. The word is never precisely used in the Bible the way you regularly use it.

    The soul that sins shall die.

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  141. Zrim, I really like Bryan Cranston! He was fantastic in “Malcolm in the Middle”,(unappreciated) but received his due with his new series. Pretty versatile actor and would make a great celebrity pastor! (just to keep us on thread)

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  142. mark mcculley, quoting rs:The word “soul” is a common way of referring to the non-body part of man, though it does not always have to mean precisely that. In the NAS it occurs 276 times.

    mcmark: “not always have to be precisely”? In the Bible, how many of these 276 times does it mean “the non-body part”? Make a rough estimate. Begin with Genesis 2:7, take a look at Isaiah 53, think about “souls on the ship” in Acts….I don’ t think you should settle for what is a common mistake. The word is never precisely used in the Bible the way you regularly use it.

    The soul that sins shall die.

    RS: And Adam and Eve died that day in terms of their souls, but clearly they did not die in body. It was a spiritual death. 2 Corinthians 5:8 “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” Human beings have an immaterial part that when the body dies it can still be at home with the Lord. In much the same when when Christ was on the cross and He spoke to the one thief and told him that “today you shall me with Me in Paradise.” Both bodies died that day, but they had an immaterial part that went to paradise.
    It is in that way that I am using the word “soul.”

    Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

    James 1:21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

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  143. Richard, I’m not quibbling that the believer will want to obey God – it is the means of human effort that you put forth to get there, that I take issue with. One could argue the difference comes down to monergistic vs synergistic sanctification. My contention: the latter allows you to boast, the former doesn’t. For example, pietists typically will cringe at the thought of missing a devotion or fail at some part of their 24/7 Christian activity (yes, sleep included). It is way too works-oriented – thus man-oriented – for my taste…..and many others on Old Life, I’m sure.

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  144. to rs: I agree that we know that you are using the word “soul” in a very common way. But the question was about your reading the word into I John. You assume new birth categories where the context shows that the difference between Cain and Abel is justification, right standing before God.

    When some of us show that certain texts are talking about justification and not about regeneration, you seem to have only two answers. 1. These texts ARE talking about regeneration, everybody knows I am right. 2. And then this is the mean part. You say that we who disagree with you about the texts don’t even believe in regeneration or the need for the new birth. I could say that you are simply a careless reader, but it seems to me that you are being deliberately mean when you make this accusation.

    You seem to be making the accusation on purpose. You could qualify yourself. You could say something like—- these folks think they still believe in the new birth but I know that they don’t really because they don’t see new birth in the same Bible texts as I see it, therefore consistently they can’t believe in the new birth.

    But qualifications like that take time and thought. You seem to only have time to repeat yourself.

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  145. Scott F Oakland: Richard, I’m not quibbling that the believer will want to obey God – it is the means of human effort that you put forth to get there, that I take issue with. One could argue the difference comes down to monergistic vs synergistic sanctification. My contention: the latter allows you to boast, the former doesn’t. For example, pietists typically will cringe at the thought of missing a devotion or fail at some part of their 24/7 Christian activity (yes, sleep included). It is way too works-oriented – thus man-oriented – for my taste…..and many others on Old Life, I’m sure.

    RS: Who is talking about human effort? I am talking about the grace of God in the soul moving and working in a person according to His power that is in them. It seems to me that there is more human effort put into being like the world than the grace that works in the believer. All the sin in the world is by human effort, but true holiness is by grace. True enough that human effort leads to boasting, but that is true in all walks of life and by all people. On the other hand, true holiness by grace alone leads to a boasting in the cross. Another thought that might help is whether human effort or grace would move a person to desire God and His holiness more?

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  146. mark mcculley: to rs: I agree that we know that you are using the word “soul” in a very common way. But the question was about your reading the word into I John. You assume new birth categories where the context shows that the difference between Cain and Abel is justification, right standing before God.

    RS: But I John is not talking about Cain and Able in that way. One has to do a lot of hereneutical gymnastics to find justification in this passage, though in all believers justification is at least implied.
    I John 3:7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.
    13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

    McMark: When some of us show that certain texts are talking about justification and not about regeneration, you seem to have only two answers. 1. These texts ARE talking about regeneration, everybody knows I am right. 2. And then this is the mean part. You say that we who disagree with you about the texts don’t even believe in regeneration or the need for the new birth. I could say that you are simply a careless reader, but it seems to me that you are being deliberately mean when you make this accusation.

    RS: Well, I don’t recall saying that, though I do use an occasional ad absurdum type of argument, but fine. I think that any objective person reading what I have posted versus what has been posted toward me would most likely agree that I may not be the only one that has posted something mean. But back to the argument. I cannot see how anyone can read I John 3 (regarding the context of Cain) and find that the text is speaking of justification there. I would not argue that a person who says that does not believe that people must be born again, but simply that the text is not talking about justification.

    McMark: You seem to be making the accusation on purpose. You could qualify yourself. You could say something like—- these folks think they still believe in the new birth but I know that they don’t really because they don’t see new birth in the same Bible texts as I see it, therefore consistently they can’t believe in the new birth.

    RS: I am not aware of making direct accusations, but making arguments against a position. Your position seems to be that you don’t believe in a real work in the soul but focuses on something objective out and apart from the believer. My point against your position (not your personally) is that it at least takes the focus away from regeneration. You may not intend that or believe that, but it seems that you position demands that.

    McMark: But qualifications like that take time and thought. You seem to only have time to repeat yourself.

    RS: Some things bear repeating.

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  147. McMark: You seem to be making the accusation on purpose. You could qualify yourself. You could say something like—- these folks think they still believe in the new birth but I know that they don’t really because they don’t see new birth in the same Bible texts as I see it, therefore consistently they can’t believe in the new birth.

    RS: I am not aware of making direct accusations, but making arguments against a position. Your position seems to be that you don’t believe in a real work in the soul

    mcmark: there you go again.

    And you still haven’t find the word “soul” in I john 3. Two states, two positions. His deeds were evil. Abel’s deeds were righteous. Do you think the only thing going on in the context is that Abel had something “in his soul” that kept him from murdering people? What was in Cain’s heart was a love for a false gospel based on what was in Cain’s own heart.

    Since John defines God’s love by Christ’s atoning death (4:9), would you take that as a sign that John does not believe in the new birth?

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  148. mark mcculley: You seem to be making the accusation on purpose. You could qualify yourself. You could say something like—- these folks think they still believe in the new birth but I know that they don’t really because they don’t see new birth in the same Bible texts as I see it, therefore consistently they can’t believe in the new birth.

    RS (old comment): I am not aware of making direct accusations, but making arguments against a position. Your position seems to be that you don’t believe in a real work in the soul

    mcmark: there you go again.
    And you still haven’t find the word “soul” in I john 3. Two states, two positions. His deeds were evil. Abel’s deeds were righteous. Do you think the only thing going on in the context is that Abel had something “in his soul” that kept him from murdering people? What was in Cain’s heart was a love for a false gospel based on what was in Cain’s own heart.

    RS: I John 3: 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

    RS: The one who practices sin is of the devil. Notice the contrast with this in the next verse.

    9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

    RS: The one born of God does not practice sin. Why is that? Because the seed of God abides in that person. That person is born of God. This sounds like the new birth to me which John is very clear on in John 1:12-13 and 3:3-8.

    10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

    RS: This gives one distinction between the children of God and the children of the devil. Again, this has to do with the nature because they are children. The child of the devil does not practice righteousness and thus shows that s/he is not OF God. The one that does not love his brother is also a child of the devil because the children of God love (see also I John 4:7-8).

    11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.

    RS: In the context what we see, then, is that Cain was OF the evil one in that he slew his brother and did not love him. So we have Cain not loving his brother and having evil deeds. This is demonstrative evidence that Cain was OF the evil one and not born of God and not a child of God.

    13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
    15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

    RS: A person can know that as Cain hated Able and was not able to love love him, so the world hates believers or lovers of God. Those who truly love true believers (brethren) are those who have passed out of life into life. This is how one can know that he is a true believer and a child of God. The one that does not love true believers abides in death. Notice that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. Where is eternal life? It abides or dwells in believers. When does eternal life start? The moment a person has a new heart and believes. If we take all of this together, those who are born or God love the children of God and this love is an aspect of eternal life that dwells in the people and children of God.

    McMark: Since John defines God’s love by Christ’s atoning death (4:9), would you take that as a sign that John does not believe in the new birth?

    RS: I don’t think that John defines God’s love in that way. God is love starts off with the basic idea that God is love within the Trinity. It moves out to show us that the love of God is such that He took away His own wrath from sinners (propitiation) so that His love could and would dwell in them.

    7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

    RS: All those who are born of God and know God love. Those who do not love don’t know God. In the verses below it is seen how this is worked out and manifested in the world.

    9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

    RS: The love of God is manifested in people. It dwells in people and His very triune love is manifested in them. Why did God send the Son into the world? That we might live through Him. This ties in with I John 1:1-2 where Christ is the Word of life and that life was manifested and is the eternal life. So the Word of life came as eternal life and gives life or eternal life to His people.

    10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

    RS: What had to happen for the love of God to be manifested in people? First the wrath of God had to be taken away and a temple had to be cleansed. His temple is in His people.

    11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
    13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

    RS: When one believer loves another, it is really God abiding in that person that enables that person to love. Then v. 13 shows us that we can know that we abide in Him and He is us because of the Spirit. Who works the fruit of love in the souls of God’s children? The Holy Spirit does this. The God who took away His own wrath by the propitiatory work of Christ lives in His cleansed temple and abides in it in love and as such we have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit working to save sinners and dwell in them in love.

    14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
    15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
    16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

    RS: But again, the person that has Christ has God abiding in that person and that person is abiding in God. The only people who love are those that God abides in. This is eternal life and only those who are born as children of God have this eternal life or the indwelling love of God in them and shared with them. The atoning blood of Christ purchased the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:13-14) and part of that purchase was the spiritual blessings which the Spirit applies. The blood of Christ is what guarantees that some will be regenerated by the Spirit because they have been purchsed by Christ and all His children will be born from above because of the merits of Christ.

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  149. McMark: You seem to be making the accusation on purpose. You could qualify yourself. You could say something like—- these folks think they still believe in the new birth but I know that they don’t really because they don’t see new birth in the same Bible texts as I see it, therefore consistently they can’t believe in the new birth.

    RS (old): I am not aware of making direct accusations, but making arguments against a position. Your position seems to be that you don’t believe in a real work in the soul

    mcmark: there you go again.

    RS: I think I see what you are saying this time around. You are correct it does appear that I am accusing you rather than arguing with your position. I apologize for that. Let me try that one again. The position your are stating, though you clearly deny that you believe what I am about to state, appears to logically deny that there is a real work in the soul. From what you say you do believe that there is an inward work. I am trying to show you where that position logically leads, not necessarily where all who believe it take it.

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  150. I only have time now to quote AA Hodge:

    The question is one as to order, not of time, but of cause and effect. All agree (1) That the satisfaction and merit of Christ are the necessary precondition of regeneration and faith as directly
    as of justification; (2) That regeneration and justification are both gracious acts of God; (3) That they take place at the same moment of time. The only question is, What is the true order of causation?

    Is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us that we may believe, or is it imputed to us because we believe? Is justification an analytic judgment, to the effect that this man, though a sinner, yet being a
    believer, is justified? Or is it a synthetic judgment, to the effect that this sinner is justified for Christ’s sake. Our catechism suggests the latter by the order of its phrases.

    God justifies us, ‘only for the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, and received by faith alone.’ The same seems to be included in the very act of justifying faith itself, which is the trustful recognition and embrace of Christ, who had previously ‘loved me, and given himself for me’ (Gal. 2:20).”

    “By consequence, the imputation of Christ’s righteous to us is the necessary precondition of the restoration to us of the influences of the Holy Spirit, and that restoration leads by necessary consequence to our regeneration and sanctification.

    “The notion that the necessary precondition of the imputation to us of Christ’s righteousness is our own faith, of which the necessary precondition is regeneration, is analogous to the rejected theory that the inherent personal moral corruption of each of Adam’s descendants is the necessary precondition of the imputation of his guilt to them.

    “On the contrary, if the imputation of guilt is the causal antecedent of inherent depravity, in like manner the imputation of righteousness must be the causal antecedent of regeneration and faith.”

    From The Princeton Review —A. A. Hodge, “The Ordo Salutis”

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  151. mark mcculley: I only have time now to quote AA Hodge:
    The question is one as to order, not of time, but of cause and effect. All agree (1) That the satisfaction and merit of Christ are the necessary precondition of regeneration and faith as directly
    as of justification; (2) That regeneration and justification are both gracious acts of God; (3) That they take place at the same moment of time. The only question is, What is the true order of causation?

    RS: A.A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology , ch XXVIII, sec 11
    That it is an exercise of the divine power upon the soul, immediate, spiritual, and supernatural, communicating a new spiritual life, and thus making a new mode of spiritual activity possible. That repentance, faith, trust, hope, love, etc,. are purely and simply the sinners own acts; but as such are possible to him only in virtue of the change wrought in the moral condition of his faculties by the recreative power of God.–See “Conf. of Faith,” Chap. x, Sections 1 and 2.

    Chapter XXXI, Section 6 How is this union between Christ and the Christian established?
    It was established in the purpose and decree of God, and in the Covenant of the Father with the Son from eternity.–Eph 1:4; John 17:2, 6. Nevertheless, the elect, as to personal character and present relations, before their effectual calling by the Spirit, are born and continued “by nature children of wrath even as others,” and “strangers to the covenants of promise,” Eph 2:3, 13. In God’s appoointed time, with each individual of his chosen, this union is established mutually–1st. By the commencement of the effectual and permanent workings of the Holy Spirit within them (they are quickened together with Christ); in the act of the new birth openeing their eyes and renewing the will, and hus laying in their natures the foundation of the exercise of saving faith.

    Chapter XXXI, Section 7. What are the consequences of this union to the believer?
    1st. Tey have a community with him in his covenant standing, and rights. Forensically they are rendered “complete in him.” His righteousness and is Father is theirs. They receive the adoption in him, and are accepted as to both their persons and services in the beloved. They are sealed by his Holy Spirit and of promise; in him obtain an eternal inheritance; sit with him on his throne and behold his glory.

    Chapter XXXIII, Section 16. Upon what ground does this imputation proceed?
    Upon the union federal, spiritual, and vital, which subsists between Christ and His people. Which union, in turn, rests upon the eternal decree of election common to all the persons of the Godhead.

    Section 19. Are the sins of believers, committed subsequently to their justification, included in the pardon which is consequent to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness; and, if so, in what way?
    The elect, though embraced in the purpose of God, and in his covenant with his Son from eternity, are not effectively united to Christ until the time of their regeneration, when, in consequence of their union iwth him, and the imputation of this righteousness to them, their relation to the law is permanently changed.

    Chapter XXXIV Adoption, and the Order of Grace in the application of Redemption

    Section 2: The instant a sinner is united to Christ in the exercise of faith, there is accomplished in him simultaneously and inseparably, 1st a total change of relation to God, and to the law as a convenant; and. 2d, a chagne of inward condition or nature. The change of relation is represented by justifiction; the change of nature is represented by the term regeneration.
    REGENERATION is an act of God originating by a new creation a new spiritual life in the heart of the subject. The first and instant act of that new creature, consequent upon his regeneration, is FAITH, of a believing, trusting, embrace of the person and work of Christ. Upon the exercise of faith by the regenerated subject, JUSTIFICATION is the instant act of God, on the ground of that perfect righteousness which the sinner’s faith has apprehended.

    3d What is the order of grace in the application of Redemption?

    II. Hence the apparent circle in the order of grace. The righteousness of Christ is said to be imputed to the believer, and justification to be through faith. Yet faith is an act of a soul already regenerated, and regeneration is possible only to a soul to whom God God is reconciled by the application of Christ’s satisfaction.

    RS: For the rest of this one would need to read Hodge himself. The basic issue is that because of the eternal covenant the promise of God and what Christ would do, God had to have looked favorably upon some on the basis of Christ. He goes on to speak of what happened in God’s mind and then how this was carried out in time.

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  152. mcmark: Since John defines God’s love by Christ’s atoning death (4:9-10)…

    RS: I don’t think that John defines God’s love in that way. God is love starts off with the basic idea that God is love within the Trinity. It moves out to show us that the love of God is such that He
    took away His own wrath from sinners (propitiation) so that His love could and would dwell in them.

    RS: The love of God is manifested IN people. It dwells IN people and His very triune love is manifested IN them. Why did God send the Son into the world? That we might live through Him. This ties in with I John 1:1-2 where Christ is the Word of life and that life was manifested and is the eternal life. So the Word of life came as eternal life and gives eternal life to His people.

    I John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

    RS: What had to happen for the love of God to be manifested in people? First the wrath of God had to be taken away and Second a temple had to be cleansed. His temple is IN His people.

    mcmark: I don’t think that justification and the indwelling are in competition. I do think that the two gifts are not the same. Since you want to give the priority to the indwelling, you don’t deny
    justification but you make justification a means to something which you consider more important. This perhaps is why you deny that I John defines love in terms of Christ’s propitiation.

    Christ only died for those God loves, sola those elect in Christ. You don’t deny that, but you do deny that propitiation defines love in I John But according to 4:9-10, it’s not enough to simply say that God sent His son to purchase faith to put in us so the Son could live in us. God’s love means that Christ’s death satisfies God’s justice. God appeases His own wrath toward those God loves in Christ.

    You are so committed to the priority of indwelling, RS, that you immediately assume that any reference to “children” has to be about regeneration, has to be about having a new different nature. But this assumption ignores the legal reality of adoption and narrows all reference to “children” as being about renewal. You do the same thing with the phrase “eternal life”. In the interest of not assuming false alternatives (if you believe this, you must not believe that), I want
    to ask you, RS. Can you think of any text in the Bible where the phrase “eternal life” has to do with justification and the legal rights of adoption? Even if you do, I assume you will assume the
    priority of regeneration in adoption, but for now, I wait to hear if you see (with the confessions) the forensic truth of “adoption”. And then perhaps you could clarify why you think we must not think about this forensic when we read I John.

    I am not trying to set you up. Instead of pulling out more “historical celebrity” quotations (from Hodge to Calvin against Osiander), I want to give you an opportunity to tell us what you think about “children”. And then some day we will return to the “new creation” contexts. The
    forgiveness of sins is not eternal life?

    There’s this guy who sounds a lot like you, RS. His name is Gerald Hiestand. I am not trying to put his words in your mouth, but I would be interested in how he is or is not saying the same thing as you.

    I quote: “we too often think that ‘forgiveness of sins’ is the primary benefit of Christ’s passion. While mere forgiveness of sins is indeed a great gift, it is not an end in itself. Forgiveness of sins
    paves the way for salvation; it is not in itself salvation. In Romans 5:9-10, Paul informs us that justification makes salvation possible, but is not itself salvation. The future salvation Paul has
    in mind is, without doubt, the ontological renewal of the believer. Humanity’s primary soteriological hurdle is not our mere legal debt, but rather our ontological corruption. Imagine a man who is terminally ill. There is a treatment for his disease, but he is too in debt to afford the cure. His lender takes mercy upon him and credits him the money needed to buy the medicine But now
    imagine that the sick man never actually buys the medicine.”

    Hiestand continues: “The primary soteriological hurdle humanity must overcome is our ontological corruption — the destruction of the imago dei. Forgiveness of sins is not enough. We must be born again. Thus legal cleansing paves the way for ontological renewal but does not itself constitute our salvation.”

    mcmark: Again, I am not assuming you say the same thing. Even though he refers to “legal cleansing”, it doesn’t seem like Hiestand thinks you are “saved” unless you “buy the medicine” and stop being a sinner!

    I don’t care about semantics, as in saying that justification is not salvation and the indwelling is salvation. At this point, I am not even asking about priority. Is justification only the “means” to
    something more “real” inside you? Is justification now based on God’s intention to do something more “real” inside you.? Right now, RS, I am only asking you to fill in the legal aspects for “children” and “eternal life”.

    Consider this one sentence I cherry-pick from your cherry-picking in AA Hodge: “They have a community with Him in His covenant standing and rights. Forensically they are rendered ‘complete in Him.’ His righteousness is theirs. They receive the adoption in Him, and are accepted as to both their persons and services in the beloved.”

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  153. mcmark: I don’t think that justification and the indwelling are in competition. I do think that the two gifts are not the same. Since you want to give the priority to the indwelling, you don’t deny
    justification but you make justification a means to something which you consider more important. This perhaps is why you deny that I John defines love in terms of Christ’s propitiation.

    RS: I also don’t think that the two are in competition. I also think that the whole of salvation has things that are of higher importance, so I do think that there are things that are more important than justification. For example, sinners are justified by grace alone through faith alone. So when Ephesians 1:6 says that He saves to the praise of the glory of His grace, I think that grace is more important than justification. I would also say that Colossians 1:27 teaches us that the great mystery that was hidden for ages and now revealed is Christ in you. Sinners are declared just so that Christ may dwell in them, which is to say so that His temple would be holy. It may not be inaccurate to say that love is defined in some way by propitiation, but that is not the limitation of love. The Father loved the Son and the Son loved the Father from eternity past. The cross and propitiation are so that the love of God would be displayed and then dwell in His people so that this love would be manifested and glorified is other ways. I think that the context of I John 4 demands that interpretation. It is not just what it is in and of itself, but in terms of why propitiation happened and the results that it brought and brings. So God does not declare sinners just for no other reason than to declare them just, but to the praise of the glory of His grace and so that He would be just and justifier.

    McMark: Christ only died for those God loves, sola those elect in Christ. You don’t deny that, but you do deny that propitiation defines love in I John But according to 4:9-10, it’s not enough to simply say that God sent His son to purchase faith to put in us so the Son could live in us. God’s love means that Christ’s death satisfies God’s justice. God appeases His own wrath toward those God loves in Christ.

    RS: I certainly agree that God appeases His own wrath for the elect, but that is not the only reason He does so.

    McMark: You are so committed to the priority of indwelling, RS, that you immediately assume that any reference to “children” has to be about regeneration, has to be about having a new different nature. But this assumption ignores the legal reality of adoption and narrows all reference to “children” as being about renewal. You do the same thing with the phrase “eternal life”. In the interest of not assuming false alternatives (if you believe this, you must not believe that), I want
    to ask you, RS. Can you think of any text in the Bible where the phrase “eternal life” has to do with justification and the legal rights of adoption? Even if you do, I assume you will assume the
    priority of regeneration in adoption, but for now, I wait to hear if you see (with the confessions) the forensic truth of “adoption”. And then perhaps you could clarify why you think we must not think about this forensic when we read I John.

    RS: I would not argue that the forensic nature of justification must be true in I John, but simply that the text does not focus on it but focuses on other things.
    John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” This text teaches us in verse 10 that all who received Christ were given the right to become children of God. Verse 13, however, says “who were born” which is in the past tense. The new birth of v. 13, then, preceded the believing and receiving of v. 12, which means that regeneration is before one becomes a child of God.

    As to eternal life, I John 1:1-2 and 5:20 are very clear that eternal life is Christ Himself. As in John 14:6, Christ is the life. To have eternal life one must know God (John 17:3), yet to be a child of God one be born of God and know Him (I John 4:7-8). 1 John 3:1 is another great text on what love is: ” See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God.”

    Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

    RS: Sinners are saved by the 1. washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (not the regeneration of washing) so that by being 2. justified by His grace they would be 3. made heirs (adoption) according to the hope of eternal life.

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  154. McMark: I am not trying to set you up. Instead of pulling out more “historical celebrity” quotations (from Hodge to Calvin against Osiander), I want to give you an opportunity to tell us what you think about “children”. And then some day we will return to the “new creation” contexts. The
    forgiveness of sins is not eternal life?

    RS: No, we are forgiven that we may have eternal life. Christ Himself is eternal life.

    McMark: There’s this guy who sounds a lot like you, RS. His name is Gerald Hiestand. I am not trying to put his words in your mouth, but I would be interested in how he is or is not saying the same thing as you.

    I quote: “we too often think that ‘forgiveness of sins’ is the primary benefit of Christ’s passion. While mere forgiveness of sins is indeed a great gift, it is not an end in itself. Forgiveness of sins
    paves the way for salvation; it is not in itself salvation. In Romans 5:9-10, Paul informs us that justification makes salvation possible, but is not itself salvation. The future salvation Paul has
    in mind is, without doubt, the ontological renewal of the believer. Humanity’s primary soteriological hurdle is not our mere legal debt, but rather our ontological corruption. Imagine a man who is terminally ill. There is a treatment for his disease, but he is too in debt to afford the cure. His lender takes mercy upon him and credits him the money needed to buy the medicine But now
    imagine that the sick man never actually buys the medicine.”

    RS: I have never heard of this man, but I would agree that forgiveness of sins is not in and of itself is not salvation. The cross saves us from hell, but we must have the imputed righteousness of Christ to enter heaven. Having our sins forgiven means that we are cleansed by the blood of Christ, but that does not in an of itself give us a perfect righteousness.

    McMark: Hiestand continues: “The primary soteriological hurdle humanity must overcome is our ontological corruption — the destruction of the imago dei. Forgiveness of sins is not enough. We must be born again. Thus legal cleansing paves the way for ontological renewal but does not itself constitute our salvation.”

    RS: Yes, we must be born again as stated before. But all I am saying is that regeneration precedes faith which is what unites the soul to Christ and in being united to Christ we are declared righteous based on His work on the cross and His imputed righteousness.

    mcmark: Again, I am not assuming you say the same thing. Even though he refers to “legal cleansing”, it doesn’t seem like Hiestand thinks you are “saved” unless you “buy the medicine” and stop being a sinner!

    I don’t care about semantics, as in saying that justification is not salvation and the indwelling is salvation. At this point, I am not even asking about priority. Is justification only the “means” to
    something more “real” inside you?

    RS: It is part of a whole and the part and the whole have a bigger purpose of the glory of God.

    McMark: Is justification now based on God’s intention to do something more “real” inside you.?

    RS: I am not sure that justification is less real than anything else that God does. Sinners are really declared just because in Christ they really are just. But a sinner is declared just to the glory of God in the work of Christ in doing what must be done for the sinner to be declared just but also to dwell in sinners so that the glory of God would shine through them in life.

    McMark: Right now, RS, I am only asking you to fill in the legal aspects for “children” and “eternal life”.

    RS: I think I did that above.

    McMark: Consider this one sentence I cherry-pick from your cherry-picking in AA Hodge: “They have a community with Him in His covenant standing and rights. Forensically they are rendered ‘complete in Him.’ His righteousness is theirs. They receive the adoption in Him, and are accepted as to both their persons and services in the beloved.”

    RS: I was not aware that I cherry-picked, but certainly I did not want to type the whole book out. But as to your quote, those things are the consequences of union with Christ.

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  155. He’s not much of a “celebrity”, but I like this quotation from Geoffrey Paxton (ex-SDA, Present Truth): “The disastrous mixing of the righteousness of Christ and the regeneration and inner renewal of the believer so often starts in the revivallist’s tent. That which takes place in the believer (faith) is accorded a place alongside of that which took place for the believer (the doing and dying of Jesus Christ).

    Faith is given the same rank as that which took place in Palestine. Faith is given a specific weight of its own. Faith is accorded a place in the true, saving content of the gospel. Faith cooperates in the
    achievement of salvation. Instead of the gospel controlling faith, faith controls the gospel. The content of the gospel is dictated by faith instead of the content of faith being dictated by the gospel.
    Instead of God rewriting man’s history in Jesus Christ, man now rewrites the history of God in his existential saving appropriation. Faith cooperates in the resurrection!

    Faith takes its value from its Object. There is nothing in faith itself which can commend it to God. Only Christ can save. In Luther and Calvin’s day some taught that faith may be said to justify because it is “fashioned by love.” However, this view was rejected: They should be interpreted, so they say, as referring to “faith fashioned by love,” that is, they do not attribute justification to
    faith except on account of love. Indeed, they do not attribute justification to faith at all, but only to love, because they CANNOT IMAGINE THAT FAITH CAN EXIST WITH SIN.

    Where does this end but with the abolition of the promise and a return to the law? If faith receives the forgiveness of sins on account of love, the forgiveness of sins will always be unsure, for we never love as much as we should. In fact, we do not love at all unless our hearts are sure that the forgiveness of sins has been granted to us. If our opponents require us to trust in our own love for the forgiveness of sins and justification, they completely abolish the Gospel of the free forgiveness of sins. For men can neither render nor understand this love unless they believe that the forgiveness of sins is received freely.—Augsburg Confession IV.109-110.

    The Lutherans also rejected the notion that faith indeed has the most prominent role in justification, but that also renewal and love belong to our righteousness before God, not indeed as if it were the primary cause of our righteousness, but that nevertheless our righteousness
    before God is incomplete and imperfect without such love and renewal.—Formula of Concord III.20.

    Let us consider, for example, the honored “testimony meeting” within revivalism. More often than not, the focus of these testimonies is “what God is doing in my life.” So often our rationale is that this will “encourage faith.” But where does the Bible say this? Does not the Bible say that faith comes by hearing and hearing the message of Christ? (Rom. 10:17). If that which creates and sustains faith is objective to faith, why do we turn our eyes and the eyes of other
    Christians to something subjective?1

    If forgiveness is outside the believer and the ground of acceptance is outside the believer, the focus of faith is also outside the believer. God saves us and turns us inside out. The testimony of the Bible, which the Reformers rediscovered, is that the power of God lies in the gospel.

    We conclude this look at some aspects of justification in the Lutheran confessions and John Calvin by taking up an accusation that such a perspective denies the subjective element in Christian existence. This accusation is puzzling. As one reads the writers of the Bible and the works of the Reformers, it is plain that one is reading the writings of men who were excited to such a degree that words almost failed them! These men knew what it was to have a wonderful experience. They never ceased to speak and write about it.

    The clash between the approach of the Reformers and so much of experimental theology is not a clash over subjective versus nonsubjective. Rather, the clash is over vastly different subjective contents. The Reformers were excited (subjective!) about the gospel which lay outside of them (Col. 3:1-3).

    To honor the subjective element does not mean to be preoccupied with the subjective. Likewise, to focus on the objective does not mean to dishonor the subjective. Indeed, the subjective is God-honoring when its focus is on the objective. We will go so far as to say that those
    who do not focus on the objective do not know what a real and marvelous subjective experience is! For when the subjective preoccupation of man is with the objective action of God in Christ,
    the subjective dimension of human existence fulfills its creation by God.”

    http://www.presenttruthmag.com/archive/XXXVI/36-3.htm

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  156. mark mcculley: He’s not much of a “celebrity”, but I like this quotation from Geoffrey Paxton (ex-SDA, Present Truth): “The disastrous mixing of the righteousness of Christ and the regeneration and inner renewal of the believer so often starts in the revivallist’s tent. That which takes place in the believer (faith) is accorded a place alongside of that which took place for the believer (the doing and dying of Jesus Christ).

    RS: That does happen, but it is not what I assert.

    McMark: Faith is given the same rank as that which took place in Palestine. Faith is given a specific weight of its own. Faith is accorded a place in the true, saving content of the gospel. Faith cooperates in the achievement of salvation. Instead of the gospel controlling faith, faith controls the gospel. The content of the gospel is dictated by faith instead of the content of faith being dictated by the gospel. Instead of God rewriting man’s history in Jesus Christ, man now rewrites the history of God in his existential saving appropriation. Faith cooperates in the resurrection!

    RS: Which is far from what I am saying.

    McMark: Faith takes its value from its Object. There is nothing in faith itself which can commend it to God. Only Christ can save. In Luther and Calvin’s day some taught that faith may be said to justify because it is “fashioned by love.” However, this view was rejected: They should be interpreted, so they say, as referring to “faith fashioned by love,” that is, they do not attribute justification to faith except on account of love. Indeed, they do not attribute justification to faith at all, but only to love, because they CANNOT IMAGINE THAT FAITH CAN EXIST WITH SIN.

    RS: While Scripture does teach that faith works by love, sinners are save by faith so that it may be in accordance with grace (Rom 4:16). As the WCF teaches, faith is the instrumental cause. The people that make faith out as something like the quote you are giving simply have a wrong idea of grace and of faith.

    McMark: Where does this end but with the abolition of the promise and a return to the law? If faith receives the forgiveness of sins on account of love, the forgiveness of sins will always be unsure, for we never love as much as we should. In fact, we do not love at all unless our hearts are sure that the forgiveness of sins has been granted to us. If our opponents require us to trust in our own love for the forgiveness of sins and justification, they completely abolish the Gospel of the free forgiveness of sins. For men can neither render nor understand this love unless they believe that the forgiveness of sins is received freely.—Augsburg Confession IV.109-110.

    The Lutherans also rejected the notion that faith indeed has the most prominent role in justification, but that also renewal and love belong to our righteousness before God, not indeed as if it were the primary cause of our righteousness, but that nevertheless our righteousness before God is incomplete and imperfect without such love and renewal.—Formula of Concord III.20.

    RS: Sinners are justified by Christ alone and grace alone. It is just that when the soul is regenerated it becomes a believing soul and Christ is received through faith. So of course faith does not have the prominent role but instead sinners are saved by faith to show that there is nothing human beings can do to save themselves. Faith points to the inability and utter helplessness of man and the ability and sufficiency of Christ.

    McMark: Let us consider, for example, the honored “testimony meeting” within revivalism. More often than not, the focus of these testimonies is “what God is doing in my life.” So often our rationale is that this will “encourage faith.” But where does the Bible say this? Does not the Bible say that faith comes by hearing and hearing the message of Christ? (Rom. 10:17). If that which creates and sustains faith is objective to faith, why do we turn our eyes and the eyes of other
    Christians to something subjective?1

    RS: Without disagreeing with your major point, when God is truly working in the hearts of people that is His objective work. But when the body of Christ is working together as a true body, there is something to be said about the body building itself up in love and faith. Eph 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

    McMark: If forgiveness is outside the believer and the ground of acceptance is outside the believer, the focus of faith is also outside the believer. God saves us and turns us inside out. The testimony of the Bible, which the Reformers rediscovered, is that the power of God lies in the gospel.

    RS: It depends on what one means by “outside.” If by outside you mean that these things are true in and of themselves or that these were accomplished in history apart from believers, then of course. But God also accomplishes His work in the believer as well.
    Eph 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

    Colossians 1:29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

    Mcmark: We conclude this look at some aspects of justification in the Lutheran confessions and John Calvin by taking up an accusation that such a perspective denies the subjective element in Christian existence. This accusation is puzzling. As one reads the writers of the Bible and the works of the Reformers, it is plain that one is reading the writings of men who were excited to such a degree that words almost failed them! These men knew what it was to have a wonderful experience. They never ceased to speak and write about it.

    The clash between the approach of the Reformers and so much of experimental theology is not a clash over subjective versus nonsubjective. Rather, the clash is over vastly different subjective contents. The Reformers were excited (subjective!) about the gospel which lay outside of them (Col. 3:1-3).

    RS: But the Gospel is good news to those who knew they must have a new heart in them to believe in what was accomplished apart from them. Much of this inside versus outside stuff is really a different way (to modern ears) of stating the imputation versus infusion debate. When the Reformers were arguing about a Gospel outside of them, they were arguing that there was a righteousness to be imputed for justification rather than a righteousness to be infused for justification. They were not denying the inner work that God does in the soul, but simply that all that inner work was purchased by Christ and that nothing infused was to add righteousness for justification to the believer.

    McMark: To honor the subjective element does not mean to be preoccupied with the subjective. Likewise, to focus on the objective does not mean to dishonor the subjective. Indeed, the subjective is God-honoring when its focus is on the objective. We will go so far as to say that those
    who do not focus on the objective do not know what a real and marvelous subjective experience is! For when the subjective preoccupation of man is with the objective action of God in Christ,
    the subjective dimension of human existence fulfills its creation by God.”

    RS: Another way to put this would be that the subective part of the Gospel is really the objective work of God by grace and the focus must remain on Him rather than self. It is when the subjective loses its focus on God that it becomes selfishly objective. But when the subjective retains a God-centered focus what appears to be subjective to some is still the objective work of God. For example, using love as a fruit of the Spirit, when the Spirit shares His love and works it in the heart of the believer, one can either view that as subjective or objective. From God’s point of view it is objective and in I John 4 this love abides in people and is why believers love one another. But human beings can view that as subjective and something they can take pride in. All true love in a believer is the objective work of God.

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  157. I’ll place my money and buy into what McMark is saying here- he always keeps the good news in the Gospel which is what ultimately changes inherent sinners, who still struggle with their sin and unbelief post-regeneration. As I have stated before, Luther called this affliction the Anfechtungen which could be explained as a working out of Romans chapter 7 in the life of the Christian. God changes us through massive doses of the Gospel not through the exhortations of the Law. Those who use the methodology of the emphasis of the Law will not change the sinner- it will only make his condition worse than it already is. Once the sinner is convinced he is a sinner his only comfort can come through the Gospel which he needs to take in Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, ad infinitum until the Lord returns. Pietism subtly produces a subtle form of self-righteousness which attracts and stregthens the will of the strong willed. One can find examples of this in the Old Testament. Caleb is one that comes to mind. Also the counselors who were counseling one of Solomon’s sons (I can’t remember his name) after Solomon’s death. David’s son Absalom could be cited too. I think that is one of the reasons why Paul gloried in his weakness. He had been so beaten up by his sin and the affliction of the Anfechtungen that it forced him to look outside of himself to Christ and cry for mercy. I don’t recognize the edge of despair and a walking with a limp in Richard’s tone and methods.

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  158. L Berkhof, 1981, Banner of Truth, ST–“sonship by adoption should be carefully distinguished from sonship by regeneration.”, p516

    Trevor Burke, Adopted into God’s Family, IVP, 2006, p27—“Adoption is a forensic term and denotes a legal transfer from an alien family into the family of God….Revivalism has long emphasized the concept of regeneration but has overlooked the theme of adoption.”

    See Robert Peterson’s Adopted by God, Presbyterian and Reformed, 2001, for a careful exposition of John 1:12-13 and I John 3:1-3.

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  159. John Yeazel: Those who use the methodology of the emphasis of the Law will not change the sinner- it will only make his condition worse than it already is.

    RS: So the Sermon on the Mount made all the people who heard it worse? OF course the Law does not change the sinner in the sense of giving him a new heart or the ability and love to keep it, but that does not mean that the Law as the reflection of God’s holiness should not be declared. It is in preaching the Law and its internal or spiritual rigors that a person arrives at the complete helplessness of self and his utter inability which makes him look to Christ and grace alone.

    John Yeazel: Once the sinner is convinced he is a sinner his only comfort can come through the Gospel which he needs to take in Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, ad infinitum until the Lord returns.

    RS: Of course the only comfort is in the Gospel and in the grace of God, but that does not mean that the glory of the holiness of God should not be declared.

    John Yeazel: Pietism subtly produces a subtle form of self-righteousness which attracts and stregthens the will of the strong willed.

    RS: Of course that could be said about any group. Confessionalist could be said to be proud of their form of self-righteousness as well. But as long as the Word of God stands we are to grow in grace and knowledge. As long as the Word of God stands we are to desire to be pure as He is pure and to be holy as He is holy.

    John Yeazel: One can find examples of this in the Old Testament. Caleb is one that comes to mind. Also the counselors who were counseling one of Solomon’s sons (I can’t remember his name) after Solomon’s death. David’s son Absalom could be cited too. I think that is one of the reasons why Paul gloried in his weakness. He had been so beaten up by his sin and the affliction of the Anfechtungen that it forced him to look outside of himself to Christ and cry for mercy. I don’t recognize the edge of despair and a walking with a limp in Richard’s tone and methods.

    RS: Ah, but recognize that if the Law is not preached there will not no on beaten up by recognition of sin. By the Law comes the recognition of sin and Galatians 3:24 says that ” the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.” The very nature of faith and of grace takes away despair in God but demands a despair of all hope in self or anything but Christ alone.

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  160. Todd,

    It is the old argument that has been going on here for about 3 to 4 years now; what takes priority and emphasis in the type of teaching we imbibe on- the objective and forensic or the subjective and inner renewal. Pietism is what results when the emphasis is on the subjective and renewal of the inner man (another point is what does the new creation actually mean- is it an objective term or subjective). And this leads to the confusion about what union with Christ entails and how this is supposed to manifest itself in the life of the Christian. At least that is my take on it.

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  161. Richard,

    I am aware of the purpose of the Law and I realize that those who love Christ are called and exhorted to obey his commands and love the brethren. However, as Zrim stated quite awhile back there is the elephant or gorilla in the room which is our still inherent sin and how best to deal with it. I believe it is now an argument about means, methods and emphasis. Darryl stated that Calvin rocks while Edwards only tweets (or something like that). I would say that Luther rocks and there are confusing elements in Calvin’s view of union which could easily lead to Edwards subjectivity and revivalism. There are some problems in Lutheran theology and confessions too but don’t tell Lutherans that- they think they are the only ones who get past the pearly gates and the confessional types are a stubborn breed. I do believe Lutherans do emphasize the objectives more than the subjective in their theology.

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  162. mark mcculley: L Berkhof, 1981, Banner of Truth, ST–”sonship by adoption should be carefully distinguished from sonship by regeneration.”, p516

    RS: All those that are justified, God vouchsafes, in and for His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption,[1] by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God,[2] have His name put upon them,[3] receive the spirit of adoption,[4] have access to the throne of grace with boldness,[5] are enabled to cry, Abba, Father,[6] are pitied,[7] protected,[8] provided for,[9] and chastened by Him as by a Father:[10] yet never cast off,[11] but sealed to the day of redemption;[12] and inherit the promises,[13] as heirs of everlasting salvation.[14]

    If I am reading the WCF at all correctly, it puts justification before adoption.

    McMark: Trevor Burke, Adopted into God’s Family, IVP, 2006, p27—”Adoption is a forensic term and denotes a legal transfer from an alien family into the family of God….Revivalism has long emphasized the concept of regeneration but has overlooked the theme of adoption.”

    See Robert Peterson’s Adopted by God, Presbyterian and Reformed, 2001, for a careful exposition of John 1:12-13 and I John 3:1-3.

    RS: You have commentaries, I have commentaries, and we all have commentaries. But again, what does the Word of God say. All who received Him He gave the right to be children of God. When does a person receive Christ? After they are regenerated. As Jesus taught a short while later in John 3:3-8, you must be born from above to see or enter the kingdom.

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  163. John,

    I guess I don’t see Richard emphasizing the subjective over the objective, but balancing both truths. And he is correct on Matt 5, the Lord is describing new covenant ethics and commitments within every true believer. That does not nullify that Christ came to fulfill the Law so we can be forgiven, declared righteous, and then sanctified to fulfill what Matt 5 describes. Maybe I’m missing something but I still don’t see the problem.

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  164. John Yeazel: Todd,
    It is the old argument that has been going on here for about 3 to 4 years now; what takes priority and emphasis in the type of teaching we imbibe on- the objective and forensic or the subjective and inner renewal.

    RS: But again, the type of renewal that the Bible speaks of is objective. That is why Paul tells people to examine themselves to see if Christ is in you (II Cor 13:5). The Christ who was resurrected in history lives in His people in reality. Paul tells us that you can test that to see if He lives in you, so it must be objective.

    John Yeazel: Pietism is what results when the emphasis is on the subjective and renewal of the inner man (another point is what does the new creation actually mean- is it an objective term or subjective).

    RS: It appears that any talk at all about the renewal of the inner man is pietism in some circles. If one is not a confessionalist but certain standards then one is a pietist. I dare say that it is hard to imagine the blessedness of the beatitudes apart from some inner work, so Jesus was a pietist as well.

    John Yeazel: And this leads to the confusion about what union with Christ entails and how this is supposed to manifest itself in the life of the Christian. At least that is my take on it.

    RS: The only ones confused about this are those who deny that Christ really and actully dwells in people despite the repeated teachings of Scripture on it. In fact, to repeat once again, it would appear that according to Colossians 1:27 this is one of the main teachings of Scripture. If you read Ephesians 1 you read in Christ and Christ in you over and over.

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  165. John Yeazel: Richard, I am aware of the purpose of the Law and I realize that those who love Christ are called and exhorted to obey his commands and love the brethren. However, as Zrim stated quite awhile back there is the elephant or gorilla in the room

    RS: I am out in the open air and notin a room, so I guess that leaves you.

    John Yeazel: which is our still inherent sin and how best to deal with it. I believe it is now an argument about means, methods and emphasis.

    RS: Well, Galatians 2:20 sure seems to be hard to defeat. It is dying to self and Christ living in you that will do this.

    John Yeazel: Darryl stated that Calvin rocks

    RS: Yes, but that is not music at all. If it is not Classical or instrumental (brass), it is not music.

    John Yeazel: while Edwards only tweets (or something like that).

    RS: Yes, the writings of Edward are as beautiful as the sounds of nightingales.

    John Yeazel: I would say that Luther rocks and there are confusing elements in Calvin’s view of union which could easily lead to Edwards subjectivity and revivalism.

    RS: But Edwards was not given to subjectivity, he is only thought of that way by those who don’t like the objectivity of God’s work in the internal man. As far as revivalism, Edwards was given to true movements of God as opposed to those who think that God is tied up and bound to work in one way on Sunday mornings.

    John Yeazel: There are some problems in Lutheran theology and confessions too but don’t tell Lutherans that- they think they are the only ones who get past the pearly gates and the confessional types are a stubborn breed. I do believe Lutherans do emphasize the objectives more than the subjective in their theology.

    RS: Which is a great weakness as far as I am concerned. You (any person, not you personally) can believe what you want to about the sacraments and what you want about believing in Christ, but unless you are born again you will not see or enter the kingdom of God. Unless a person has Christ really and truly living in him or her, that person is not a converted person.

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  166. mark mcculley: See Robert Peterson’s Adopted by God, Presbyterian and Reformed, 2001, for a careful exposition of John 1:12-13 and I John 3:1-3.

    RS: Calvin on John 1:12 “And so Christ revealed a wonderful example of HIs grace by conferring this honour on such men, so that they suddenly began to be sons of God.” “For this was an incredible change–that Christ raised up children to God out of stones.” This becoming children of God is when they are born of God.

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  167. Calvin, Institutes, 3/11/4—But the most satisfactory passage on this subject is that in which he declares the sum of the Gospel message to be reconciliation to God, who is pleased, through Christ, to receive us into favor by not imputing our sins, (2 Cor. 5: 18-21.) Let my readers
    carefully weigh the whole context. For Paul shortly after adding, by way of explanation, in order to designate the mode of reconciliation, that Christ who knew no sin was made sin for us, undoubtedly
    understands by reconciliation nothing else than justification.

    Nor, indeed, could it be said, as he elsewhere does, that we are made righteous “by the obedience” of Christ, (Rom. 5: 19,) were it not that we are deemed righteous in the sight of God in him and not in ourselves.

    8. Osiander holds in regard to the mode of receiving Christ, that by the ministry of the external word the internal word is received; that he may thus lead us away from the priesthood of Christ, and his office of Mediator, to his eternal divinity.

    It would be incongruous to say that that which existed naturally from eternity was made ours. But granting that God was made unto us righteousness, what are we to make of Paul’s interposed statement, that he was so made by God? This certainly is peculiar to the office of mediator, for although he contains in himself the divine nature, yet he receives his own proper title, that he may be distinguished from the Father and the Spirit.

    Jehovah, when made of the seed of David, was indeed to be the righteousness of believers, but in what sense Isaiah declares, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many,” (Isa. 53: 11.) Let us observe that it is the Father who speaks. He attributes the office of justifying to the Son, and adds the reason, – because he is “righteous.” Christ was made righteousness when he assumed the form of a servant; secondly, that he justified us by his obedience to the Father; and, accordingly that he does not perform this for us in respect of his divine nature, but according to the nature of the dispensation laid upon him. By our unhappy revolt we are alienated from his righteousness, so that it is necessary that Christ may justify us by the power of his death and resurrection.”

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  168. The problem is that RS keeps implying that being born again means not being as bad a sinner anymore. Instead of seeing the difference between sinner and sinner as Christ’s justification of some sinners, RS defines the new birth as Christians not sinning (too much) anymore. His hope is his dying to self and Christ living in him, so much so that he is willing to pull texts out of context and ignore the context which is talking not about Spirit renewal but about Christ’s atonement and
    Christ’s righteousness.

    RS lectures John: “Galatians 2:20 sure seems to be hard to defeat. It is dying to self and Christ living in you that will do this.”

    Let’s look at Galatians 2 in context: 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by
    faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
    17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a
    transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I would live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live
    in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

    RS of course does not tell us what he thinks Galatians 2:20 means. He simply references the verse as a defeater for those who don’t agree with him about our present ontological renewal by the indwelling Christ. But on the surface the context is about justification and about legal identification with Christ’s death. Verse 17–justification in Christ. Verse 21–Paul doesn’t say that if justification were partly another way, that Christ’s death should still not be denied. Rather, Paul says justification is all or nothing, it’s by Christ’s death or it’s not.

    So what are we to do with that context? Sure, that’s justification but the “died with” stuff is about regeneration and new birth? No, to be dead with Christ is not to be dying with Christ because of inner renewal. To be dead with Christ is to be dead. There are two legal states. Some sinners are not crucified with Christ, and thus still under the wrath of God. Other sinners, however, Christ loved. And the work of this love is Christ’s death—“gave Himself for me”.

    These are not two different graces side by side, Christ’s death for the elect, and then the elect’s “died with Christ”. No, they are the same good news. The justified elect’s “I have been crucified with
    Christ” is the Galatians 2 (and Romans 6 and II Cor 5:15)) way of saying one thing. Paul is NOT saying “I am being crucified” or “I am dying” at least not here in Galatians. “Crucified with Christ” is
    Paul’s way to teach that Christ’s representation is substitution.

    So far, everything is about either justification or the atonement. “I died to the law” in verse 19 is by means of Christ’s death to the law (see again Romans 6-7:1-6)

    Now we are at verse 20. In What’s At Stake in the Doctrine of Justification (IVP), DA Carson argues (against Betz) that the “Christ lives in me” should be read as “Christ lives in regard to me” in
    parallel to texts like Romans 4:25 and 5:10.

    You who are interested can read Carson’s argument. He knows the language and he argues from the context. But note one thing, RS, Carson is not denying the important mystery of Colossians 1:27 (Christ in you, the hope of glory). Neither am I.

    (RS, who claims not to be so much a sinner now because he is born again (instead of confessing himself a justified sinner) continues to make unfounded accusations against those who want to question his judgment on various texts.)

    But I say, let the “Christ who lives in me” stand in 2:20. Still, RS needs to account for the rest of the verse which says: I am crucified, Christ lives. I am dead. If that death is not by legal justification
    (being placed legally into Christ’s death), what does it mean? RS, “I have been crucified” does not mean “I am dying” or “I am being born again”. If you don’t get that the “I have been crucified” is about Christ’s death in history, then you only need to read the rest of the verse (faith in the who loved me and gave himself for me) You onlyneed to read verse 19 because the “I died to the law” is not by means of the new birth or the indwelling.

    Now, RS, you can say that you have your commentaries also. But it’s about time you stopped repeating yourself and made some arguments for your reading of texts. It’s way past time that you stopped saying that those who disagree with you about what the new birth means don’t
    believe in the new birth. Galatians 2 is about justification and the atonement. It will not do to pick out one part of verse 20 and say that’s the defeater for John’s hope that even sinners can be Christians.

    Galatians 4:5-6 5– to REDEEM those who WERE under the law, so that we would receive ADOPTION as sons. 6 And BECAUSE YOU ARE SONS, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

    The Holy Spirit of Adoption does not cause the children to be adopted. Christ’s adoption of children results in Christ giving them the Holy Spirit.

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  169. mark mcculley: The problem is that RS keeps implying that being born again means not being as bad a sinner anymore.

    RS: Okay, I will stop the implications. I will strongly assert that those who are born again refrain from a lot of sin that unbelivers love and pursue and those who are born again do some commands that unbelivers do not do. Yes, those who are born again have some love for God in their hearts while unbelievers have no love for God in their hearts. Believers are still sinners and do nothing that is perfect, but they don’t sin with abandon as unbelievers do. I believe that Christ actuallys saves from sin itself.

    McMark: Instead of seeing the difference between sinner and sinner as Christ’s justification of some sinners, RS defines the new birth as Christians not sinning (too much) anymore. His hope is his dying to self and Christ living in him, so much so that he is willing to pull texts out of context and ignore the context which is talking not about Spirit renewal but about Christ’s atonement and
    Christ’s righteousness.

    RS: Now who is making accusations? I might mention that they are false ones as well. I do not define the new birth as Christians not sinning too much anymore, but that is the result of the new birth as I John so clearly teaches. While there is a huge difference (though McMark seems to want to flatten that out) between those that Christ has justified and those He has not, Christ has also purchased the Holy Spirit for His people and the Spirit works His fruit in His spiritual people and does not work that in unbelievers. Yes, there is more of a difference than justification, but Christ has purchase more for His people than justification.

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  170. McMark: RS lectures John: “Galatians 2:20 sure seems to be hard to defeat. It is dying to self and Christ living in you that will do this.”

    McMark: Let’s look at Galatians 2 in context: 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I would live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live
    in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

    RS of course does not tell us what he thinks Galatians 2:20 means. He simply references the verse as a defeater for those who don’t agree with him about our present ontological renewal by the indwelling Christ. But on the surface the context is about justification and about legal identification with Christ’s death. Verse 17–justification in Christ. Verse 21–Paul doesn’t say that if justification were partly another way, that Christ’s death should still not be denied. Rather, Paul says justification is all or nothing, it’s by Christ’s death or it’s not.

    So what are we to do with that context? Sure, that’s justification but the “died with” stuff is about regeneration and new birth? No, to be dead with Christ is not to be dying with Christ because of inner renewal. To be dead with Christ is to be dead. There are two legal states. Some sinners are not crucified with Christ, and thus still under the wrath of God. Other sinners, however, Christ loved. And the work of this love is Christ’s death—”gave Himself for me”.

    RS: But Christ is the live of the one that has died to self. No, it is not two different graces, but the grace that justifies is also the grace that sanctifies.When Galatians 2:20 says “and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me”, surely you can see that he is talking about life beyond justification at that moment. “The life which I now live” is referring to Paul now rather than several years previous to when he was declared just. He lives by faith now and not just at a point of justification in the past. Now, as opposed to some point in the past. It is also now that “Christ lives in me” and not just at some point in the past. So when we arrive at v. 21 where Paul says that “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly”, is he talking about the grace that justifies or the grace of Christ in the soul now? Why is he not talking about both since he spoke of both in the previous context? When Christ lived and died to justify sinners, He did not leave one thing left for them to do for justification. So a person is declared just by God on the basis of Christ alone and that person can never add to the work of Christ at any point in his life. At no point does a sinner obtain righteousness from the Law as if it does not come by grace.

    McMark: These are not two different graces side by side, Christ’s death for the elect, and then the elect’s “died with Christ”. No, they are the same good news. The justified elect’s “I have been crucified with Christ” is the Galatians 2 (and Romans 6 and II Cor 5:15)) way of saying one thing. Paul is NOT saying “I am being crucified” or “I am dying” at least not here in Galatians. “Crucified with Christ” is Paul’s way to teach that Christ’s representation is substitution.

    RS: But what does it mean when Paul says that “Christ lives in me” in this context? That was years later after Paul was declared just.

    McMark: So far, everything is about either justification or the atonement. “I died to the law” in verse 19 is by means of Christ’s death to the law (see again Romans 6-7:1-6)
    Now we are at verse 20. In What’s At Stake in the Doctrine of Justification (IVP), DA Carson argues (against Betz) that the “Christ lives in me” should be read as “Christ lives in regard to me” in
    parallel to texts like Romans 4:25 and 5:10.

    RS: I actually heard Carson lecture on this one time. He was, shall we say, unconvincing.

    McMark: You who are interested can read Carson’s argument. He knows the language and he argues from the context. But note one thing, RS, Carson is not denying the important mystery of Colossians 1:27 (Christ in you, the hope of glory). Neither am I.

    (RS, who claims not to be so much a sinner now because he is born again (instead of confessing himself a justified sinner) continues to make unfounded accusations against those who want to question his judgment on various texts.)

    RS: No, I confess freely that I am nothing other than a justified sinner. I confess freely that there is nothing that I do that is not tainted by sin. However, while I see far more sin now than when I was in darkness, I sinned far more back then. It is by grace that Christ is delivering me from sin. But what unfounded accusations are you talking about? I have found plenty of things to disagree with you about.

    McMark: But I say, let the “Christ who lives in me” stand in 2:20. Still, RS needs to account for the rest of the verse which says: I am crucified, Christ lives. I am dead. If that death is not by legal justification (being placed legally into Christ’s death), what does it mean? RS, “I have been crucified” does not mean “I am dying” or “I am being born again”. If you don’t get that the “I have been crucified” is about Christ’s death in history, then you only need to read the rest of the verse (faith in the who loved me and gave himself for me) You onlyneed to read verse 19 because the “I died to the law” is not by means of the new birth or the indwelling.

    RS: But you must realize that there is an experiential dying to the law and not just an intellectual part to it.

    Galatians 2:19 “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.
    Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

    RS: Notice how Paul speaks of himself in Romans (and I think this is in his mind in Galatians as well). This was not limited to a judicial action, but it was something that happened to Paul. The Lord opened his eyes to his sin. Paul knew in his mind what it meant to covet, but when the Lord opened his eyes to what it really meant he saw the sin in his heart and he died to his own efforts to keep the Law. In that way it was through the Law that Paul died to the Law (Gal 2:19). When a person dies to the Law and Christ lives in them, that person has been born from above and declared just on the basis of Christ alone. The person no longer has any illusions to earning one shred of righteousnsess, but instead is dead to the Law FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Paul really and truly died to the law in the sense that he no longer look to it for anything for righteousness and that he knew that the Law only condemned him now.

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  171. Mark. Wow! Blast from the past! Geoffrey Paxton is one of my fathers in the faith. My transition from a broad evangelicalism to a Reformed confessionalism was initiated by reading Present Truth in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I had some close personal contact with some of the leaders in the renegade SDA moving during my time in Oregon in the early 80’s. It’s shocking to see where Robert Brinsmead ultimately landed, but in those days it was good stuff–centrality of JBF, objectivity of the gospel. I still give folks photocopies of some of those articles. Paxton’s Principles of Sound Theology seminar was an amazing trek through the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications.

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  172. Terry,

    I was a student at Calvin from 1990 to 1994 in the Business and Econ building. I think you were teaching in the Science Department then. I believe my friend, Todd Harkema, who was a math and science jock, took some classes from you. Do you remember him?

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  173. John, I was there then in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. The name seems familiar, but maybe just because it’s Dutch. No clear memories are coming together. I do think I had David Van Drunen in my non-majors Chemistry course. I wonder if my neo-Cal ravings back then helped propel him on his current course.

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  174. Dr. Hart,

    The answer is No, Dr. Trueman represented Confesssional Presbyterianism and the OPC well at T4G, after listening to both his breakout session and the discussion panel. Dr. Trueman stayed on point in his criticisms of Multi-site Churches, Mega-Churches, and Celebrity Preachers.

    Panel on Celebrity Preachers
    [audio src="http://media.t4g.org/t4g2012/audio/t4g2012-panel6.mp3" /]
    Wouldn’t you consider Thabiti Anyabwile a Celebrity Pastor? It seems he spends more time here in the states speaking on conference speaking circuit than in the Grand Cayman Islands shepherding his sheep.

    Why the Reformation isn’t Over [Break out Session]
    [audio src="http://media.t4g.org/t4g2012/audio/t4g2012-breakout-trueman.mp3" /]

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