Gratitude As the Basis for Obedience

The title of this post is not meant to echo the Guilt-Grace-Gratitude structure of the Heidelberg Catechism but to indicate that the Obedience Men and Boys should be forever grateful to Tullian Tchividjian for providing a target for those who believe sanctification is besieged in our time. If you look around on the web for information on antinomianism or the sanctification controversy, the only name that keeps surfacing is Pastor T’s, with responses from Kevin DeYoung or the Gospel Reformation Network. Here is one example with a follow-up to a response:

I’ve read with interest debates in the Reformed community on the doctrine of sanctification the last few years. Debates about the motivations and sources of sanctification now are worked through in discussions on Ref21, The Gospel Coalition, and other Reformed web blogs. Tullian Tchividjian has been at the center of these discussions and has received critiques from theologians and pastors such as Rick Phillips, William B. Evans, and Kevin DeYoung.

But if you look at the Gospel Reformation Network’s 5 Questions to church leaders, you have to conclude that a controversy is palpable in Reformed circles over the place of the law and obedience in the Christian life. For instance, to the question, “Is there misunderstanding about Sanctification within the PCA and the broader Reformed community?”:

There is significant misunderstanding among some in the PCA regarding Sanctification. More specifically, there are a number of ministers and congregants who have (wittingly or unwittingly) been deeply influenced by a “Lutheranized” view of Sanctification.

The short answer to this question is yes. With the (proper) Reformed emphasis on grace alone and faith alone, many believers have been delivered from the guilt of performance-driven Christianity. God loves us, and in Christ he freely and fully accepts us. Unfortunately, the liberating message of the gospel has led some within the Reformed community to de-emphasize the responsibility of Spirit-empowered effort to fight against sin and temptation. Like Joseph, we’re to run from temptation (Gen. 39:12Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). And, according to Paul, we’re to sow to the Spirit (Gal. 6:8Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). Both require considerable exertion on the part of the believer.

Again, with Pastor T and his blog and videos, how would these people know about what is being preached and taught in PCA, OPC, URC, ARP, or RPCNA congregations?

First, how many Reformed or Presbyterian pastors preach doctrinal or catechetical sermons? If they do, then sanctification may be neglected, say like when the URC pastor when going through Heidelberg neglects Questions 88 to 115. Otherwise, most Reformed pastors are preaching through a book of the Bible where the doctrine of sanctification is not mentioned directly any more than the doctrine of the Trinity. If the Bible had a book dedicated to sanctification that most pastors were avoiding — say, the way they generally avoid Song of Solomon — then the obedience boys and men might have a point. But we don’t have much doctrinal preaching in our circles — as far as I can tell by observing the way OPC pastors operate. Otherwise, obedience and sanctification likely come up in the regular exposition of books of the Bible.

Second, how many of us who write on trends in the churches actually get around to other churches? Most of the people talking or blogging about the sanctification controversy are church officers or pastors whose duties don’t allow them to get out much. Maybe you pick up a vibe here at General Assembly, or sense a trend there when you go to a pastor’s conference. But who of us is to judge what pastors are teaching or preaching on such slight evidence? (For instance, not even Mark Jones’ book on Antinomianism has references to Pastor T or Jack Miller or Sonship in the index.)

121 thoughts on “Gratitude As the Basis for Obedience

  1. I think one could more easily prove that a number of PCA churches are antinomian (if it feels good, do it) in their corporate worship/Lord’s day practices than that there’s a plague of licentious (if it feels good, do it) Xian living sermons.


  2. Good points–I think one of the reasons Tchividjian became a flashpoint in the “controversies” is that he has a big audience and TGC (gave him a bigger one. I know that his books (like those by Beth Moore, Sarah Young, John Eldridge) were making inroads into the PCA and OPC people’s homes I’m familiar with. I’m sure elders are fielding questions generated by his ideas.

    He is extreme. I think of his preaching/writing as Horton minus Calvin, Luther minus the 10 commandments and sacramentalism, or Steve Brown with biceps. That is why it is unfortunate that R. S. Clark and others have spent so much energy online trying to demonstrate his orthodoxy. It makes everyone think that what they see Tullian do to preaching and practice is just traditional Reformed theology. It’s not.

    It’s similar to defenses of Shepherd in my opinion. Yes, we can easily show that Shepherd affirms all of the orthodox Reformed doctrines AND just as easily show that he rejects them and teaches others to go and do likewise. Why defend him? The party spirit at work–friends of friends and all?


  3. I get concerned that for the OB’s Lutheranism is conflated with a desire to “de-emphasize the responsibility of Spirit-empowered effort to fight against sin and temptation.” It takes one all of 30 seconds to go to the Formula of Concord and find this: “6] 1. That good works certainly and without doubt follow true faith, if it is not a dead, but a living faith, as fruits of a good tree.” And this “6] 5. Fruits of the Spirit, however, are the works which the Spirit of God who dwells in believers works through the regenerate, and which are done by believers so far as they are regenerate [spontaneously and freely], as though they knew of no command, threat, or reward; for in this manner the children of God live in the Law and walk according to the Law of God, which [mode of living] St. Paul in his epistles calls the Law of Christ and the Law of the mind, Rom. 7, 25; 8, 7; Rom. 8, 2; Gal. 6, 2.”
    True, there are differences about sanctification, but confessional Lutherans don’t believe that 1) good works aren’t important and 2) the Spirit has a diminished role in our sanctification. My concern about this whole ballyhoo is that the OB’s seem content to keep propping up a straw man and then adulating themselves upon its demise, lather rinse repeat. If this is what passes for good scholarship why should I listen?

    But hey, I’m a Free Church Evangelical, so I guess I have bigger fish to fry.


  4. Shane,

    I just don’t see how you can call him extreme. I certainly understand the disagreement of emphasis (or lack there of). But Antinomians actually deny that we must follow God’s commands. In none of my readings of TT does he deny that we must obey God. Though TT doesn’t emphasize this as much or in the way that the OB’s want him to, TT has on multiple occasions affirmed that we must obey God’s commands.

    TT’s emphasis is on our ability to actually fulfill and merit God’s favor on account of our obedience. That’s the lens that he’s working through. Tullian, as far as I have read, does not ever deny that God’s is pleased with our obedience, but that we cannot warrant, apart from Christ, God’s pleasure in our obedience.

    The extreme position would be to affirm what Paul denies, “Should we sin that grace may abound?”. Tullian never says anything like this.


  5. Nate Dogg — Good point re: the actual definition of antinomianism. It is interesting that in Reformed history there has been a tendency to greatly fear antinomianism w/in Reformed circles despite the fact that very, very few Reformed ministers have ever actually taught antinomianism.

    I wonder why the dangers of legalism get so much less press in some Reformed circles? I have my suspicions…


  6. TMH- I wonder why the dangers of legalism get so much less press in some Reformed circles? I have my suspicions…

    Could it be – law is natural (comes from within our nature) to man, whereas grace (comes from without our nature) is foreign to man? Law emphasizes our work, grace – God’s work. Dependent on me, dependent on God. But I better stop before someone throws the antinomian flag on me…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shane,

    Exactly how and where is Tullian “extreme”? That’s kind of an extreme accusation to make against a teaching elder in the PCA, don’t you think?


  8. Mad,

    It’s interesting because in the evangelical world I grew up in, finding and calling out the legalism in everything was all the rage – I did grow up in a Baptistic non-demon church so certainly there was warrant – I even remember when Jed brought home beer when he was 21 I nearly flipped my lid.

    But now that I’ve come over to the Reformed side of things, it’s very much the opposite. IMO, I think it’s more balanced here but it’s interesting that the dominant narrative is the accusation of licentiousness, not legalism.


  9. Bob, oh lover of all things Dr. Jones, wasn’t the point of the post that without Tullian the controversy goes away? So Jones identified Pastor T in the book? We already knew that from his books.

    Sloppy reasoning on your part?


  10. Shane,

    If/when you’re on your deathbed, whom would you want to visit you in the hospital, a minister who is unreservedly enthusiastic about the Good News of free grace and to sinners in Christ or a legal preacher, who turns the covenant of grace into a covenant of works by moving the consequent conditions (the third use of the law, do this because you live) into a prior condition (“do this in order to live”)?

    I think Tullian should speak more clearly and consistently about the third use—it’s also fair to ask whether he gets credit for the time has spent on the third use—but it should concern us that he suddenly seems to be a bogeyman, as if NAPARC congregations have no greater issues besetting them.


  11. According to Anthony Burgess, the doctrine of justification, unlike any other, inclines God’s people to increased humility and self-emptiness, “for by this we are taught even in the highest degree of our sanctification, to look out of ourselves for a better righteousness.”


  12. RSC–the first minister, and he is the one I already have. I don’t know or have fellowship with any RCC, FV, or whatever-else ministers who make the CoG into a CoW. Your boogieman isn’t in my circle of fellowship.


  13. the first minister, and he is the one I already have.

    That first minister would also be Tullian…

    One pastor might emphasizes the law more than some think best. Another pastor might emphasize the law less than others think best. Yet for some reason the first one is always “mainstream Reformed” (certainly not neonomian) and the second one is definitely “antinomian” and not “mainstream Reformed.” Talk about a bogeyman…


  14. Bob
    Posted September 24, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    According to Anthony Burgess, the doctrine of justification, unlike any other, inclines God’s people to increased humility and self-emptiness, “for by this we are taught even in the highest degree of our sanctification, to look out of ourselves for a better righteousness.”

    Posted September 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Jones is PCA. Sloppy.

    Uh-huh, yeah…


  15. I have not heard any of TT’s sermons, and the only book that I ever read by him was Jesus + Nothing = Everything, which I thought was pretty good, even though it was a bit repetitive. As far as I can recall, the only line that I took issue with was this one on page 136: “The Spirit’s continuing subjective work in me consists of his constant daily driving me back to Christ’s completed objective work for me.” The problem is the word “consists.” Part of the Spirit’s application of Christ’s saving work to our lives is causing us to will and to work for God’s good pleasure. Replace “consists of” with “flows out of” and you have a much better statement. If TT’s preaching and writing consistently emphasizes “consists”, then I can see why there is some pushback from confessionally Reformed folk.

    That being said, the same folk should offer an equal amount of pushback to a statement like this: “There is nothing ungracious about divine demands. Just the opposite, in fact — there is grace in getting law.” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness, 53) The law is good, but it is not gracious. The law only commands and evaluates. It does not offer grace to lawbreakers. It would have been better if DeYoung had written something like this: “There is nothing terrifying about divine demands for those who are now alive in Christ. Just the opposite, in fact — the law now comes to us as a friend and says, ‘Because you live, do this.’”

    I’m not convinced that the concerns being raised about TT are of the same nature as the Scottish Church’s erroneous condemnation of The Marrow of Modern Divinity as antinomian, but I think that others here are right to point out that feathers are much more easily ruffled in some confessionally Reformed circles by those who say things that de-emphasize the law than by those who say things that begin to blur the distinction between gospel and law.


  16. @ Shane:

    So this morning instead of the usual news radio or classical or sometimes classic rock, I hit the button for the local Christian station. This is what was playing:

    I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
    And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You Lord
    Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

    And I will move ahead bold and confident
    Taking every step in obedience

    While I’m waiting I will serve You
    While I’m waiting I will worship
    While I’m waiting I will not faint
    I’ll be running the race even while I wait

    I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
    And I am peaceful, I’m waiting on You Lord
    Though it’s not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
    Yes, I will wait

    And I will move ahead bold and confident
    Taking every step in obedience

    While I’m waiting I will serve You
    While I’m waiting I will worship
    While I’m waiting I will not faint
    I’ll be running the race even while I wait

    I will move ahead bold and confident
    I’ll be taking every step in obedience, yeah

    While I’m waiting I will serve You
    While I’m waiting I will worship
    While I’m waiting I will not faint

    And I will serve You while I’m waiting
    I will worship while I’m waiting
    I will serve You while I’m waiting
    I will worship while I’m waiting
    I will serve You while I’m waiting
    I will worship while I’m waiting on You Lord

    I will serve You while I’m waiting
    I will worship while I’m waiting
    I will serve You while I’m waiting
    I will worship while I’m waiting

    Read more: John Waller – While I’m Waiting Lyrics | MetroLyrics

    This was followed by an advertisement for “Take the 30-day Challenge!” (of Bible-reading or some such — I wasn’t listening closely at that moment).

    This is what our people are getting IF they listen to Christian radio or “mainstream Christian pop.”

    What’s wrong with it? Nothing, if you take one line here or there. OK, well, “Taking every step in obedience” is over the top. But other than that, Waller recycles some of David’s lines, so you can’t complain too much about “waiting patiently” or “I will not faint.”

    But taken as an entire piece, here’s what strikes me:

    (1) I, I, I, I, … (cue Crazy Train)
    (2) Way overpromising. How can someone who sins “daily in thought, word, and deed” turn around and make a promise to “Take Every Step in Obedience”? Just one step is a miracle.
    (3) Where is Jesus? In this song, he’s the absentee Lord who leaves our hero to boldly confidently take each step in obedience.
    (4) So who is the hero of this story?

    THIS is the idea that is trending in the Christian subculture: Times are tough, and we’ve got to obey, obey, obey. Not false, but what’s the big picture?

    By contrast, I can’t think of a time when I’ve heard a genuinely antinomian song or sermon.

    Can you? It would be ludicrous: Don’t worry ’bout the law / yeah / ‘cuz Jesus lets you do what you want / yeah / Those Ten Commandments, they really don’t apply any more. (guitar solo)

    Really? That’s just not being taught anywhere. What is being taught by the “grace” side is to avoid songs and teachings like Waller’s because they get the big picture wrong. They have the wrong hero, the wrong thrust, the wrong picture of Jesus relative to me.

    But when the grace side pushes back against that kind of teaching, it gets the “antinomian” label, no matter how many times it is directly stated by the grace side that believers continue to be obligated to keep the entire moral law.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate. I think that one (not all) of the factors driving the pushback against “antinomianism” — which has been publicly alleged but not proven — is money. People like TT are a threat to conferences and teachers whose aim is to generate obedience by emphasizing You and The Law.

    What happens when Christians start hearing the songs above and turn off the dial, like I did this morning?
    What happens when Christians start noticing that their conferences on how to be a better Christian Whatever contain a mix of God’s word and the teachings of man?

    That revenue stream dries up, and revenue in the Christian subculture is hard to come by these days.

    Well, I was harsh here, and I may well be wrong. I certainly don’t have Jones specifically in mind as one of those concerned about money; in fact, I have no-one in particular in mind. I’m just reading a “structural trend.” So may God forgive me if I’m being overly suspicious. But think about it, and this question in particular:

    What kind of “antinomianism” is it that continues to affirm that we must obey the law?

    If that’s the flavor of antinomianism that is being opposed, then is it worth opposing?


  17. I believe the PCA is the place where Federal Visioncasters cannot get convicted. Doesn’t seem like antinomianism is their biggest problem to me…

    Then again, maybe it all varies from presbytery to presbytery. I just wish the OB’s were as animated by the neonomian types- whose anti-biblical and anti-confessional ideas are positively stated in print for all to read- as they are by the things TT doesn’t say.


  18. How many Federal Visionist remaining in the PCA have expressed concern about neonomianism in the PCA? How many Obedience Boys in the PCA have expressed concern about the neonomianism in the PCA?


  19. Jeff,

    Regarding your question: “If that’s the flavor of antinomianism that is being opposed, then is it worth opposing?”

    My guess is that the answer is: “Yes because book publishing.”

    Too cynical?


  20. Jeff, add to that the oddity of making faith the subject of entertainment and celebrity. But some of us grace folks have a law instinct that recoils in ways it doesn’t seem to among the O-boys. Can we really be all that icky?


  21. Jeff,

    Where the big bucks are to be had your theory of antinomianmism-hunting may be right. But when I encounter nervousness with alleged antinomianism in my own little corner of the NAPARC world it seems to be mixed up with (1) A general dislike or distrust of Westminster Seminary CA, (2) An infatuation with theonomy (or at least some conviction that the civil government must to be informed by explicitly Christian principles in order to be legitimate), (3) Worry about the increasing lawlessness of society in general (understandable enough), and (4) Somewhat obsessive interests in politics and economics (and not much in arts and letters). I’m not sure how they all fit together but they seem to occupy the same real estate.

    And I think charges of antinomianism occur more easily in persons who have tendencies toward being hectoring and manipulative in the first place.


  22. Jeff–

    No disagreement from me about your central point: there is a works orientation to pop-evangelicalism. It just happens not to be any of the works God commands! Instead a vague pietistic fervor–go deeper, push farther, change the worrrrld! These are the “Days of Elijah,” right?

    And, without the actual Savior who delivers us and justifies apart from works, the actual good works of the Christian life (which promote humility) are impossible. So, I’m with you there. Not as much with your analysis of the motivation to critique “TT”… but I’d rather think about how we agree right now.


  23. “A legal spirit may be justly nam’d
    The fertile womb of ev’ry error damn’d. . . .
    Yea, hence spring Antinomian vile refuse,
    Whose gross abettors gospel-grace abuse;
    Unskill’d how grace’s silken latchet binds
    Her captives to the law with willing minds.”
    —Ralph Erskine, “Gospel Sonnets,” chap. v., sect. i


  24. I agree with what Scott Clark said, which is very parallel to a statement I heard from Dr. Hywel Jones on a WSCAL interview,maybe with Scott – here it is (my paraphrase) that ‘if you must pick a side to err on, err on the side of emphasizing/prioritizing Justification (Dr. Jones, I hope I did not do violence to your quote/thought)…..and the other side will cry Foul!’

    Who (above) said neonomianism isn’t decried against in the PCA – you are correct………..

    Neonomians rule, or at least try to……

    ……..from ‘Mother Church’, where ‘the Pope’ speaks ‘Ex Cathedra’, and everyone falls all over themselves to attend to the mandates and wishes of ‘His Holiness’….to the very ends of the H.R. Empire, even unto the church of the ArchBishopRic, where His Grace the Archbishop, along with others of the Neonomian Council, are so very attentive to the decrees of His Holiness the Pope, looking for every opportunity to ‘kiss the ring’ and endorse the Pope’s sale of $16,000 (plus or minus, depending) indulgences to non-mega-churches so they can only spend 14 months in the ‘sins of omisson/sins of commission purgatory’, if they are obedient enough. Otherwise, they have to buy more indulgences to learn obedience so they can get out of the ‘state of purgation’, and become a ‘healthy church’.


  25. ‘Neonomian Tendency’ Council, from all appearances………don’t want to hit too hard on the title, so I softened it a bit.


  26. J-Li- Well, a number of Reformed denominations have issued reports and condemned FV. The fact that some presbyteries refuse to discipline FV ministers is egregious, but then refusal to enforce discipline is hardly uncommon in the modern Reformed church now is it?

    Maybe people like Mark Jones are pursuing their line because their people are reading TT’s books and others like it and it’s becoming a serious issue. After all, Peter Leithart isn’t feted by the big parachurch organisations; he isn’t given cover by celebrity Reformed bloggers. FV is playing big at a presbytery and assembly level, but how much of an issue is it on the ground? Maybe TT is responding to tendencies he’s seeing: but when he writes a book and posts a blog then it’s no longer restricted to his own context.

    Dr. Hart- Shane makes an excellent point: if the likes of yourself and Clark didn’t insist on going to the mat for the likes of TT then maybe the issue wouldn’t be pursued so much. Yes Clark likes to keep telling us that he thinks TT could phrase things better yada yada yada but the fact that you guys seem to view TT as too big to fail suggests there’s more at play, and it fuels the fire. A similar situation is the “Demonic Possession” book controversy in the Free Church at the beginning of the 20th century. People who saw the significant dangers of that book continuously called on the Free Church to condemn the book and discipline the minister who wrote it. They responded with assurance after assurance that the minister didn’t intend to promote the ideas he was accused of and that he affirmed the inspiration of the scriptures (the main charge against him). And yet: the book was only withdrawn after significant pressure, more to make his situation easier rather than for principle, and the minister was never disciplined and remained teaching in the college! Actions speak louder than words.

    Also, if you’re right that doctrines are only dealt with as and when they appear in scripture, why is it we hear about justification all the time on certain blogs and from certain ministers, but we only hear about sanctification when you’re defending yourself against accusations of antinomianism? Justification’s pretty important, so is sanctification. There’s clearly a deliberate emphasis; some worry there’s too much imbalance.


  27. Alexander, I’ve gone to the mat for Pastor T? Discern much?

    I have no idea what other pastors are promoting — I don’t read many blogs of pastors (except Ref21 I guess or Greenbaggins or the Baylys). The reason you hear about justification here is because we have had a justification controversy for the last forty years. And almost no one knows that.

    If you think I am an antinomian, why do you think I defend the Sabbath? BTW, I’ve written probably 10 times more posts about the Lord’s Day and its import than about Pastor T. But for neonomians like you, that’s never good enough. In point of fact, in the presence of God’s holiness my personal goodness is never good enough. If you thought about that — really considered it — you might actually be grateful for folks who insist on the priority of justification and the sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness (passive and active).


  28. There’s no doubt that the Gospel Reformation Network is fighting a ‘Cold War’ against Westminster Seminary California and the White Horse Inn through Tullian Tchividjian.

    If you have time, listen to this from the Monroe Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Georgia. This is not even ArchBishopRic, but another PCA church ‘flaming on’ like Johnny Torch against Westminster West through Tullian – Contemporary Grace Movement? What a name – sounds like something you would play after listening to Montovani and the Ray Coniff Singers – anyway, it’s 51 minutes, and I hope those interested can listen. By the way, Harry Reeder either wrote an article for Modern Reformation several years ago and did an interview with them also. Hmmmph.


  29. Perhaps the reason there is a so-called “antinomianism” controversy is because to the neonomian’s ears hearing justification taught or the gospel proclaimed without an immediate “but you still have to obey and do good works” sounds to them like a denial of the Law.

    Neonomianism is the fear that someone, somewhere is preaching a gospel of free grace.


  30. Dr. Hart-

    Indeed you have written posts on the Sabbath and I think you’ll find I always post my support of your efforts on that front. However, you have also posted a lot of posts on the sanctification wars, specifically on the “obedience boys”. I think it’s a bit disingenuous of you to argue these posts have not been in response to the likes of Mark Jones’ criticism of people like TT. You may not make every post about defending TT per se, but you’re clearly taking “his side” in this “cold war”.

    If you “have no idea what other pastors are promoting” then maybe you should give a bit more slack to the likes of Jones who clearly does feel that antinomianism is posing a threat. And maybe there can be, simultaenously, a threat from antinomianism and neo-nomianism. In fact, there’s always been that dual threat in Calvinist circles. I recognise the OPC has had to deal with the FV and I’m not saying you shouldn’t be warning against it: you should. But you seem to think that if the FV is a threat, then there isn’t an antinomian threat. As you say: you’ve written a lot of posts on Sabbath keeping. Surely that would suggest there is a libertarianism which is quite rife in the church?

    Also, this talk of a “cold war” against the WHI is quite worrying. The WHI is a mixed endeavour: it’s not fully Reformed. Luther himself was not part of the Reformed camp and Lutheranism today doesn’t bear much resemblance even to him. The fact is that Lutheranism, historically, has a very skewed emphasis on justification, taking its cue from early Luther before he saw his errors. Lutherans and Reformed are not nearly as close as you would like them to be: after all they’re consubstantiationists! (Is that even a word?!) If the right administration of the sacraments is one of the marks of the true church then Lutherans fail.

    I hear the free offer of the Gospel generously preached twice every Sabbath and every Wednesday. Indeed, my denomination has been accused of being TOO free with the offer. And I do appreciate it very much. But our ministers also preach godliness and our people strive after godliness. We do not see a contradiction and we do not see that one must be sacrificed for the other.


  31. I have been going to both the local LCMS church and PCA church in the town I am in- I have one foot in each camp and am trying to decide which one I think is preaching and teaching the Gospel most accurately. The LCMS church is doing a study, before worship service, on church history- years 100-600. Oddly enough, we are watching Robert Godfrey on a Ligonier Video tape series teach the twelve tape class. I have been anxious to ask the Pastor of the church why he chose this particular series. I have not had the opportunity yet to do so.

    After the class last week I ditched the Lutheran worship service to attend the more “meaty,” so I imagined, Word centered worship service at the PCA church. It definitely was more Word centered but not so much Gospel centered. The Pastor preached a sermon out of Proverbs chapter 9 and the book of James. The theme was on wisdom and how to bring this wisdom found in the Scriptures out into the culture through your various secular “callings.” It was neo-Cal to the core with lots of scolding and exhortation to get your act together and do something noticeable to others with your life. The aggression of the Pastor and elders of the church was what stood out. The congregation was very impressive looking from where I sat and the intensity was stereotypical of what I thought it would be like there. I was glad to finally get out of there. A completely different atmosphere than what you find at the LCMS churches I have attended. The one here in this town is almost like the one I was attending in Chicago.

    What I really want to find is a Word centered church that actually teaches and preaches the Gospel week in and week out. I am one of those who needs to know he has a ticket to heaven on a regular basis. It is easy to get doubtful about it and the scolding and exhortation technique gets old week in and week out. And I do get the distinction, role and antithesis between Law and Gospel. We need to hear both in a clear and biblically accurate way..


  32. “For doctrine, for rebuke, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). “Reprove, rebuke, exhort” (2 Tim. 4:2). “Speak, and exhort, and rebuke” (Titus 2:15).

    John, I wasn’t there to hear the sermons. But would you criticize the apostle Paul for commanding Timothy and Titus to preach that way?


  33. Semper,

    I agree it seems to be a war by proxy. Rather than campaigning against a vaguely defined “Contemporary Grace Movement”, it would be more helpful if the O Boys would spell out exactly who they are opposed to (beyond Tullian), and then explain in detail how the teachings of those persons are contrary to specific sections of the Westminster Standards (or 3 Forms of Unity). If they are really convinced there is a problem, present it to the local presbytery. Isn’t that what the church courts are for?


  34. “Luther himself was not part of the Reformed camp”

    “and Lutheranism today doesn’t bear much resemblance even to him.”
    very true, but for different reasons than you think

    “The fact is that Lutheranism, historically, has a very skewed emphasis on justification, taking its cue from early Luther before he saw his errors.”
    “Skewed emphasis,” as in overemphasis? “Church stands or falls” over this doctrine emphasis?

    “Lutherans and Reformed are not nearly as close as you would like them to be”
    Confessional Lutherans and Confessional Reformed are very different, and the more confessional each are, the more clear it becomes how separate we are. However, it’s a bit of a paradox, too (we love those), since the more confessional my non-Lutheran brothers and sisters are, the more in common we have, really, over-and-against those who do not subscribe to a confession.

    “after all they’re consubstantiationists!”
    I’ll just leave this link for you to read–please pass it along to any other folks you know who accuse us of believing it


  35. If the right administration of the sacraments is one of the marks of the true church then Lutherans fail.

    How so, Alexander? They baptize children. Bapterianism is a plague in American P&R churches, but one wouldn’t know it the way the latitudinarians handle it, making Baptists members and all that jazz. But right administration is different from right teaching, which makes withholding covenant baptism worse than consubstantiation.


  36. “And I’m a lot more pissed at Tullian Unpronounceable for going on TBN than for anything he said on TBN, though it wasn’t great.”

    The “FiveTwo” “Wiki 14” monstrosity (airing dirty LCMS laundry) is going on this week. Lutheran Satire has enough material now to last a Minnesota winter. Maybe two.

    Guess who is the guest speaker at “Wiki 15”? Tullian! Unless he preaches the Law and tells all those pastors to stop tweeting dumbass nonsense (or outright heresy), obscuring the clear Gospel and wasting everyone’s time and money…

    I conclude he’s just making the rounds to sell his book.


  37. Sean, do you think it is appropriate to preach a sermon and not proclaim the gospel? Do you think that what Paul commands in 2 Timothy and Titus does not include the proclamation of the gospel, and if not, do you think that that is ALL that Timothy or Titus are to preach?

    I support preaching the Law (of course), but I don’t think that you even have a church service if the gospel is not proclaimed. Without the gospel all you are left with is self-help dressed up in Sunday clothes.

    As I said, I support preaching the Law and the gospel.

    But the question here is: do you support NOT preaching the gospel?
    I look forward to your response.


  38. Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, though I might fit in more with the RPC of Scotland on certain issues. We just had a brother from Kenny Stewart’s congregation in Glasgow preach for us this Sabbath.


  39. From the OPC BoCO – 3. The Preaching of God’s Word:

    b. …The preacher must, as Christ’s ambassador, seek to build up the saints in the most holy faith and beseech the unconverted to be reconciled to God. Nothing is more necessary than that the gospel of salvation by grace be proclaimed without any adulteration or compromise, in order that the hearers may learn to rely for salvation only on the grace of God in Christ, to the exclusion of their own works or character, ascribing all glory to God alone for their salvation. The preacher is to instruct his hearers in the whole counsel of God, exhort the congregation to more perfect obedience to Christ, and warn them of the sins and dangers that are around them and within them. A preacher fails to perform his task as a God-appointed watchman on Zion’s walls who neglects to warn the congregation of prevalent soul-destroying teachings by enemies of the gospel.

    Yes, the preacher is to preach the whole counsel of God and exhort to more perfect obedience, but that follows after the emphasis of the necessity and centrality of the gospel in the sermon as that which “Nothing is more necessary.”


  40. Paul “the neonomian” ministered to Timothy on his own “deathbed,” saying:

    “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”


  41. Indeed, Chortles…

    … and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim 1:14-17)


  42. CW: “was not clinging to the preaching of grace and justification by faith alone )contra Galatian legalism) part of the good fight?”


    So what was the other part?


  43. I am asking you since you implied there was another part. So you don’t think there is another part?

    But even if holding to jbfa is the only part, do you believe that if I run the race by teaching and holding to jbfa to the end then the Lord the righteous judge will award me the crown of righteousness?


  44. I don’t know exactly what Paul was thinking. Obviously it could include struggle against sin and growth in holiness, persistence — perseverance. But he certainly wasn’t thinking those things earned him anything. Notice he didn’t say, “Man, I really kept the law well.” Those who long for His appearing might just be longing for it since they know He’s their only hope — works will avail nothing.


  45. Alexander, if I don’t know what’s going on in other congregations and denominations, how does Pastor Jones who is preaching every week at his home congregation?


  46. I agree that Paul didn’t earn those things or that he thought that he earned them. But he still makes a positive connection between those things and being awarded the crown of righteousness by the Lord the righteous judge.

    Protestants need to give an adequate explanation for this connection because it is found throughout the NT.


  47. So the consensus is that what we are hearing from TT and various, assorted grace boys is not actual antinomianism but orthodoxy marred by a lack of clarity? Forgive the length of this post but here is another example heard last Sunday at one of the larger PCA churches: text Eph. 2:11-18
    35:14 But now Jesus has brought you near. Got it? ….. How does he restore us so that we
    have a dad again? He does it first by abolishing the law. It says that in Verse 15. How
    does he reconcile us to God?
    35:50 He takes care of the law. [What follows is a discussion of ceremonial and sacrificial laws
    abrogated by Jesus.]
    36:16 Guess what? All of that’s fulfilled in Christ…. all of that. It has no application anymore.
    All of it is fulfilled in Christ. And not only that.
    36:29 He fulfills all the moral law too that we couldn’t keep. Love your father and your mother.
    Honor them. Not only honor them, honor others who are in authority over you. How
    good are we at doing that? How good are we at honoring people who are in authority
    over us? That’s alright. You’re right. You don’t do it well. You are a mess. But Jesus
    did it for you, because he never failed. He kept that law every time. Don’t bear false
    witness……[what follows is a monologue on Jesus as the older brother ….]
    37:28 who fulfills all the law on our behalf. There are no more sacrifices. There’s no more
    Passover lambs. There’s no more temple. There’s no more blood. Both Jews and
    Gentiles can be near to God, reconciled to God, because of what Jesus did.
    37:42 He abolished the law.

    The terms “take care of,” “fulfill,” and “abolish” seem to be used interchangeably here. Likewise, all types of God’s law seem to have been lumped together resulting in an understanding that ALL of God’s law has been abolished. Yet, the terms “fulfill” and “abolish” have two different meanings, even among us country bumpkin pew sitters.

    When listening to sermons like the above, quite horribly, Steve Martin’s 1979 SNL monologue keeps coming to mind, not only his repeated question, “What the h… IS that?” with his priceless, puzzled expression, but a truly endearing young Bill Murray who finally states, “Oh, I know what that is….”

    It’s …..the PCA’s latest rendition of Beautiful Orthodoxy!
    That’s what that is!


  48. MSL, I wasn’t talking about that sermon. I was talking about the idea of making a case against an entire group based on one person’s ideas. Thank you, thank you very much for proving my point.


  49. David G.,

    Sorry to be so late getting back to you – I quite agree. The Obedience Boys are acting like they are the new Westminster Divines in organizing the Gospel Reformation Network, and they are working as fast as they can – coupling it like a box car with General Assembly and getting support from PCA Committee(s). I can’t help wondering what is said after the GRN sessions, in a Waffle-House type environment, where the real and darkest dregs of contempt come out. I think a lot of these leaders are very pleased with themselves, their ministries, and their successes – it shows.

    Haven’t these people considered that they – and their bad theology – just might be a contributing factor to so many people in the church having the problems that they are having? Personally, I believe that this is a very plausible proposal about members of the clergy with Neonomian-Semi-Pelagian tendencies. But I suspect that deep down in their hearts, they know that the WCF will not support disciplining those who hold to a Lutheran-Calvin view of Justification (as prioritized), so they go and do a lot of saber-rattling like they will try to enforce their list of Affirmations and Denials.


  50. Dr. Hart- Because TT writes books and blogs tellins us what he thinks. I think it’s a fair assumption to make that what he says in his books and blogs is what he says in his church. Unless he’s a dissembler? It’s the same way I know that despite Mark Jones’ warnings about antinomianism he’s lax on the Sabbath and indulges in vain and stupid things.


  51. Semper-

    Yes, at least you and yours post your real and darkest dregs of contempt on blogs for everyone to see.


  52. Patrick, well, you never answered my question about how much obedience is enough. Remember those percentages?

    So you think Paul is talking about me? Or you read his metaphors as imperatives? Where did you go to seminary?

    Here’s John Calvin on that verse:

    “I have fought the good fight” Because it is customary to form a judgment from the event, Paul’s fight might have been condemned on the ground that it did not end happily. He therefore boasts that it is excellent, whatever may be the light in which it is regarded by the world. This declaration is a testimony of eminent faith; for not only was Paul accounted wretched in the opinion of all, but his death also was to be ignominious. Who then would not have said that he fought without success? But he does not rely on the corrupt judgments of men. On the contrary, by magnanimous courage he rises above every calamity, so that nothing opposes his happiness and glory; and therefore he declares “the fight which he fought” to be good and honorable.

    “I have finished the course” He even congratulates himself on his death, because it may be regarded as the goal or termination of his course. We know that they who run a race have gained their wish when they have reached the goal. In this manner also he affirms that to Christ’s combatants death is desirable, because it puts an end to their labors; and, on the other hand, he likewise declares that we ought never to rest in this life, because it is of no advantage to have run well and constantly from the beginning to the middle of the course, if we do not reach the goal.

    “I have kept the faith” This may have a twofold meaning, either that to the last he was a faithful soldier to his captain, or that he continued in the right doctrine. Both meanings will be highly appropriate; and indeed he could not make his fidelity acceptable to the Lord in any other way then by constantly professing, the pure doctrine of the gospel. Yet I have no doubt that he alludes to the solemn oath taken by soldiers; as if he had said that he was a good and faithful soldier to his captain.

    If you want to claim Paul’s closing words as an assessment of your holiness, that’s a little delusional but it’s also a free country.

    I’m still hearing Paul tell me “no condemnation,” “no separation.” All I get from you is how I’m not good enough.


  53. Dr. Hart,

    Really appreciate all of the friends here at Old Life…….it’s encouraging to know that you’re not alone. You and others post on the very issues I’ve thought about, many of which have been unresolved for years until now.

    There really are 7000 more in Israel…….


  54. DGH,

    I did tell you. From the post I sent you, which you quoted to insinuate that I was teaching Roman Catholic doctrine:

    “…if obedience is necessary for salvation then how much obedience is necessary? How many good works must a Christian do before he is saved? These objections misunderstand the nature of the covenant of grace and tend to view Christian obedience through the lens of the covenant of works…It is thus not a matter of being perfect or doing a set number of works in order to arrive in glory. It is a matter of trusting and sincerely following the Lord, which includes confession and repentance, to the end.”

    In other words, it is a matter of fighting the good fight, finishing the race and keeping the faith; like Paul.

    You need to comport Rom. 8:1 with Rom. 8:13 (or with Paul’s words to Timothy).

    Apply your misguided question to Paul. How many deeds of the body does one have to put to death in order to live?

    Apply it to Michael Horton:

    “The New Testament lays before us a vast array of conditions for final salvation. Not only initial repentance and faith, but perseverance in both, demonstrated in love toward God and neighbor…Holiness, which is defined by love of God and neighbor…is the indispensable condition of our glorification: no one will be seated at the heavenly banquet who has not begun, however imperfectly, in new obedience.”

    How much holiness is necessary to be glorified? Forget Jones, where is the post on Horton?

    Well, it has been an interesting conversation but it is time for me to bow out. I will end the way I started, with the words of Douglas Moo (no friend of NPP):

    “Paul clearly affirms that his readers will be damned if they continue to follow the dictates of the flesh…In a way that we cannot finally synthesize in a neat logical arrangement, Paul insists that what God has done for us in Christ is the sole and final grounds for our eternal life at the same time as he insists on the indispensability of holy living as the precondition for attaining that life. Neither the “indicative”-what God has done for us in Christ-nor the “imperative”-what we are commanded to do-can be eliminated. Nor can they be severed from one another; they are inextricably connected.”


  55. Patrick, I see you off with the same question I asked before: Why “pre-“? If you dropped the pre- in precondition, you would satisfy me (and Turretin, btw).

    I want to be clear at what is pastorally at stake. You seem to be concerned about pastors out there who are teaching “don’t worry about obedience.” And if there are such, then I join you in saying “obedience is necessary.” You want us to hear that concern – I hear it and agree.

    What you don’t seem to hear yet is that there are other churches, many churches, in which “obedience is necessary” is being taught IN THE CONTEXT OF “you sin daily in thought, word, and deed, so your only hope is faith in Christ.”

    THOSE CHURCHES whom I hope you agree are orthodox are being thrown into turmoil by the agitation of outside teachers who demand more obedience than that and who level charges of antinomianism. Wittingly or no, your side, by being imprecise with terms like “condition” and “necessary”, is contributing mightily to disturbing the peace and purity of churches who have nothing to do with TT.

    Can you hear that?


  56. Patrick, “if obedience is necessary for salvation then how much obedience is necessary? How many good works must a Christian do before he is saved? These objections misunderstand the nature of the covenant of grace and tend to view Christian obedience through the lens of the covenant of works…It is thus not a matter of being perfect or doing a set number of works in order to arrive in glory. It is a matter of trusting and sincerely following the Lord, which includes confession and repentance, to the end.”

    I’m still detecting basic reading comprehension deficiencies. Obedience is not confession. Obedience is not repentance. You seem to take one word and wave a wand over to get to obedience is necessary.


    BTW, I’ll post about Horton when you do about Kinnaird. Double dare you.


  57. Jeff, for the simpleminded (present company included) an analogy: Paul would certainly say that it was necessary for husbands to love (and I’m thinking more actionally than emotionally) their wives. You don’t have to to get married. Not all husbands do. No husbands do all the time. No husbands do it as they ought. But it is necessary — it ought to be the present condition, but it is not a precondition.


  58. Semper,

    I have to say that GRN’s goals are sort of baffling to me. I say that in part because I have known some of these guys and have listened to their preaching. I want to be fair in my characterizations of them. And in fairness, the bulk of their ordinary, weekly preaching seems more gracious and does not seem to convey the stridency that GRN’s collective efforts put forward. Also if you read through the responses to the 5 Questions posted on GRN’s website, many of the responses posted seem more balanced in their approach: recognizing both antinomianism and neo-nomianism as equal and ever present threats to the Gospel. But the collective work of GRN comes across as very strident and portrays the PCA as being overtaken by a vast conspiracy of antinomians. Except who are these antinomians, beyond Tullian T?

    So what’s the end game for GRN? The Affirmations and Denials seem to clearly take a Westminster East stance on the question of Union with Christ and the priority of justification. Is that what this is all really about? And if so, is GRN really being driven by a few individuals closely connected with WTS?

    Or perhaps the push to emphasize the imperatives reflects the current demographics of the PCA. Realistically, the PCA’s best recruiting grounds have been the pews of the Baptist and non-denominational churches down the street. And the plan for getting those people to join has often involved two things. First, presenting yourself as a really good Bible teacher. Compared to many SBC pastors, that should be easy enough for a pastor went to seminary, and can read Greek, and doesn’t treat pulpit theatrics as a substitute for exegesis. The second thing, and more important here, is down playing Reformed distinctives and presenting a generic Evangelical theology. A large reason the PCA has grown so large in comparison to other NAPARC denominations is that new members are often not challenged to actually embrace Reformed theology. Consequently, a plurality of congregants in the PCA are still functionally Baptist in their theology. Perhaps the GRN message is what those folks really want to hear.


  59. David G.,

    I think your points are excellent – I am not able to follow up just yet, but will later this evening.


  60. RSC is right, though – Tullian could be more clear. We get it – we can’t stop sinning, but what is his word for the parishioner who wants to stop XYZ sin? That’s an obvious question that Tullian’s blog posting never address. Because of this, his blog, preaching and books can be quite repetitive.

    The elephant in the room here is that Tullians says very little that one can’t hear on a weekly broadcast of the White Horse Inn, and so it begs the question – does KDY, Mark Jones, et al think Horton and co. are a bunch of flaming antinomians? If so, do they have the stones to say so?

    Then again, I’m pretty sure that TT is thinking of a guy like David Platt when he says the reformed world is confused about law and grace. Following Forde and Luther in “calling a thing what it is” – I wish he would call it out. Whatever Rick Phillips flaws, TT never responded to his criticism of TT’s exegesis of John’s letters. The vague conversation from both sides isn’t helpful.

    We know the Obedience Gang doesn’t like Steve Brown. Fine – but can they wrestle with Rosenbladt? What about the more obvious targets like Forde, Elert, etc. Do they go after Keller’s friend Paul Zahl and his progeny? Fitzsimmons Allison? Tullian isn’t standing alone on this and it’s weak sauce from TGC and company to be unwilling to tackle the theological issues here.


  61. Who are those people?! Why is it in a country as big as yours you all know each other and in a country as small as mine I don’t know who anyone is (outside my own denomination)?


  62. I think the GRN has a number of Redeemerish and with-it city churches in mind — many are loosely affiliated with TT and TKNY. Part of the rub is obviously cultural. I think it would be better to oppose some these churches on ecclesiological and worship grounds than on the vagaries of sanctification. Some of the ones I think GRN has in its passive-aggressive crosshairs are pastored by PCA movers & shakers — guys who always are on the podium or behind the pulpit at the PCA GA. Using Billy’s grandson as a backdoor to this bunch seems odd, I agree.


  63. David G.,

    I’m relatively new to the PCA, so I’m still getting a sense for the different factions and camps within the denomination, but my experience so far is consistent with your take.


  64. David G.,

    I often wonder if when we are making observations, such as looking upon a sculptural sphere in a city park, we make observations from different vantage points. I think your points are on-target, and I myself am baffled also. Not too long ago, we had a visiting minister in our pulpit, and he delivered such a tremendous message. I tried to make a point to let him know how much he had ministered to us, and when I told him so, I shared that ‘the message sounded like it could have come from Westminster Seminary California’ – upon hearing this from me, the minister’s eyes and countenance appeared to be fearful, and he very quickly said – well, that could be either very good or very bad, depending on who you talk to (or words to that effect). I think this is very telling about the state of the PCA. There appears to be real anxiety and fear among those ministers who are more Old Side/Old School when the New Side/New School types come around, or are present on Presbyteries, etc. You are so correct about the makeup of the PCA – it’s a mixed bag, and that’s why the New Side/New School types have more influence at present. What concerns me the most is that they appear to be very controlling, domineering, and would absolutely run over the sheep and damage so many people with the very bad theology they have, and so many man-made laws and practices, which are not borne out in the scriptures – such as ‘The Faith Promise’. Where is the Faith Promise in the scriptures? That was the most confusing concept I ever encountered for funding missionaries. I don’t want to be redundant, but in my previous posts I’ve identified what the other practices are, and how the New Side/New School types want congregants to be totally consumed with service, forcing people to make vows and commitments in a way that is extremely unhealthy.

    Usually, whenever bad theology is around, it can present itself in such a way as to look like it is the ‘genuine article’, but eventually it reveals it’s ‘true colors’ over time. The attraction that exists for the New Side/New School adherents is ‘kingdom-building, writing your own ticket (a form of name it and claim it), bringing heaven down (revival) and in the end, because of your devotion, service, sacrifice, and deeds, you get more reward in heaven. The problem here is that it takes the same level of sustained commitment, devotion, piety, sacrifice, etc. on the part of others to build the kingdom, bring heaven down, etc. in order to receive reward in heaven. When people don’t cooperate, or share the same vision as you, they are obviously ‘depriving’ you of reward, and they just need to be whipped into submission. This is madness. In contrast, Old Side/Old Schoolers believe that the rewards are a double-dividend – Christ crowning His own Gifts – this is comforting and reassuring. I choose Old Side Old School any day of the week, especially after living under both the charismatic version of this type of theology and the New Side/New School version of it in the PCA already.


  65. Semper, and it’s not just the PCA. Try engaging an OPC new lifer who completely dismisses the very categories of old school/new school. Talk about above it all. It’s like talking to a cat person who completely dismisses the categories of dog person/cat person. Yes, we all love animals (and Jesus) equally, but.come.friggin’.on. As annoying as claiming to be color blind when the race relations discussion ensues.


  66. Z, that means they can’t or won’t talk about the issue. I’m grateful when that happens and can now leave the social gathering I didn’t want to attend in the first place.


  67. Fear is a powerful motivator. We’ve grown used to it being used in politics to argue for (or against) certain economic, immigration, or military proposals. We sometimes don’t recognize its misuse in the church. This week, the fear of antinomianism (which means the rejection of God’s Law as a standard of righteous action required of God’s covenant people) has been raised. There have been genuine antinomians in church history. There are many today, who set aside God’s law as the standard for God’s righteous judgment, usually substituting their own prescriptions. However, accusations have been raised over the last few days that target people who are decidedly not antinomian…

    What’s striking is that Paul answers antinomianism not with the law but with more gospel! In other words, antinomians are not people who believe the gospel too much, but too little! They restrict the power of the gospel to the problem of sin’s guilt, while Paul tells us that the gospel is the power for sanctification as well as justification.
    The danger of legalism becomes apparent not only when we confuse law and gospel in justification, but when we imagine that even our new obedience can be powered by the law rather than the gospel. The law does what only the law can do: reveal God’s moral will. In doing so, it strips us of our righteousness and makes us aware of our helplessness apart from Christ and it also directs us in grateful obedience. No one who says this can be considered an antinomian. However, it’s not a matter of finding the right “balance” between law and gospel, but of recognizing that each does different work. We need imperatives—and Paul gives them. But he only does this later in the argument, after he has grounded sanctification in the gospel…

    Michael Horton – See more at:


  68. Alexander,

    I don’t sing them, as few as they are in appearing in the order of worship. ‘I Surrender All’ is a good example of one I don’t sing, but I still want to be respectful of the worship service.


  69. Zrim,

    I believe you – I’ve heard that the OPC has some of the same issues, but it’s decidely less than the PCA, I think. I do believe that the Obedience Boys are fighting against the seminary in Escondido………and……the Gospel Reformation Network has used some of Michael’s materials on their website on the subject of Sanctification – Rant!


  70. David, that’s too bad. It’s one thing to love a dog (old lifer), but another to hate a cat (new lifer). Be annoyed by, sure.


  71. Dr. Hart and David,

    After reading your posts above, I couldn’t help sharing this with you (below) – my only regret is that we can’t all watch it together!


  72. Thought you all might enjoy the previously posted video……………even though he is speaking about ‘dogs’ differently than the Old-Side/Old School – New Side/New School representations…..

    Just so I can be ‘in the know’:

    – Old Side/Old School are the ‘dogs’
    – New Side/New School are the ‘cats’

    Is that right?


  73. Dr. Hart,

    Understand ~ can you inform me on the lingo about cats and dogs as per above? Relative to the old side….new side, etc. debate?


  74. Hah! (Peter O Toole laugh)

    We’re cat lovers, too. The bowtie represents the academician-philosopher, so Brother Mouzone must be in the game………


  75. Darryl and Semper, sorry, the bow tie represents neither loafer lightness nor learnedness. It aligns with ostentatiousness. But who’s counting?


  76. Hard to refute that Zrim, but I think it depends on who’s wearing it – look on the Gospel Reformation Website/Photos, and ArchBishopRic has one – a yellow one…….mighty ‘peacocky-looking’ if you ask me, concerning the Archbishop from SPC in Greenville.

    By contrast, Dr. Hart looks like C.S. Lewis with his bowtie……….


  77. Zrim and Jack,

    Wanted to say thank you for your previous posts on the topic here. They are always so meaningful and so well-constructed for being able to grasp the idea that you are putting forth.


  78. There’s been 40 years of Shepherd and others pushing neonomianism and almost nobody even notices it because nobody’s talking about justification and everybody’s talking about “how to get the saints more sanctified or at least sanctified enough to stay saints”.

    Presbyterian and Reformed (Tipton) published Mark Jones (Antinomianism, p 72)—“Even Michael Horton claims that fear of punishment and hope of rewards is a diastrous patterns of thinking…”

    Not only could you possibly use God’s grace in such a way to get more crowns than Mark Jones, but at the very least you would not have to put all your hope in the past or what God got done in Christ in the past. Why suggest that the requirement of the law is fulfilled in Christ’s death (and then imputed to you) when you yourself can live by faith (like Jesus did) and also get in on the action? Even if you don’t get more crowns than mj, the fear will get you enough crowns so you won’t be put out of the new covenant…..


  79. The Moral Virtues in Great Fear

    Formed the Cross & Nails & Spear

    And the Accuser Standing By

    Cried out Crucify Crucify

    If Moral Virtue was Christianity

    Christ’s Pretensions were all Vanity

    William Blake


  80. Daniel Fuller: “Paul would have agreed with James that Abraham’s work of preparing to sacrifice Isaac was an obedience of faith. He would have disagreed strongly with Calvin, who saw obedience and works as only accompanying genuine faith…The concern in James 2:14-26 was to urge a faith that saves a person, not simply to tell a person how they could demonstrate their saving faith…Calvin should have taught that justification depends on a persevering faith, since he regarded Abraham as already justified before Genesis 15:6.”

    p 313, The Unity of the Bible (1992, Zondervan).

    p 181: “In commenting on Genesis 2:17 -do not eat from that tree–Calvin said, `These words are so far from establishing faith that they do nothing but shake it.’

    Dan Fuller—I argue, however, that there is much reason for regarding these words as well suited to strengthen Adam and Eve’s faith…In Calvin’s thinking, the promise made in Genesis 2:17 could never encourage faith, for its conditionality could encourage only meritorious works. `Faith seeks life that is not found in commandments.’ Consequently, the gospel by which we are saved is an unconditional covenant of grace, made such by Christ having merited it for us by his perfect fulfillment of the covenant of works.

    Dan Fuller responds to Calvin: “I have yet to find anywhere in Scripture a gospel promise that is unconditional.”

    John Piper, Future Grace—- “I find that many Christians have no categories for thinking clearly about the commands and warnings and promises of Jesus. When he says that we should pluck our lusting eye, he backs it up with a warning: “It is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Mt 5:29). Threats of going to hell because of lust are simply not the way contemporary Christians usually talk or think. This is not because such warnings are not in the Bible, but because we don’t know how to fit them together with other thoughts about grace and faith and eternal security. We nullify the force of Jesus’ words because or conceptual framework is disfigured. p.11

    Piper—the Bible rarely, if ever, motivates Christian living with gratitude…Could it be that gratitude for bygone grace has been pressed to serve as the power for holiness, which only faith in future grace was designed to perform?… some popular notions of grace are so skewed and so pervasive that certain biblical teachings are almost impossible to communicate. For example, the biblical concept of unmerited, CONDITIONAL grace is nearly unintelligible to Christians who assume that unconditionality is the essence of all grace.

    Piper—… “the conditional promises of grace are woven all through the New Testament teaching about how to live the Christian life. “If you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). “Pursue…sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14)…I find that Biblical thinking behind these kinds of conditional promises is uncommon in the minds of Christians today. Some popular conceptions of grace cannot comprehend any role for conditionality other than legalism.”


  81. Sanctification, IVP, 2014, ed Kapic, Julie Canlis, “Sonship. Identity and Transformation”, p 246 “Gratitude may not fully capture the fullness of Calvin’s vision for the redeemed…Calvin expresses that our gratitude is a gift of the Holy Spirit and therefore flows naturally from our newly transformed identities…Christ’s finished work is for me—NOT HOWEVER BY APPLICATION BUT RATHER BY ACTIVE PARTICIPATION…


  82. from Andy Catlett, y Wendell Berry, p 116–“The great question of the old and dying, I think, is not if they have loved and been loved enough, but if they have been grateful enough for love received and given, however much. No one who has gratitude is the loneliest one. Let us pray to be grateful to the last.”


  83. Obedience boys play with fire:

    Francis also reflects at length on the meaning and importance of mercy, stating simply: “Mercy is the heart of God.”

    “It must also be the heart of the members of the one great family of his children: a heart which beats all the more strongly wherever human dignity — as a reflection of the face of God in his creatures — is in play,” he continues.

    “Jesus tells us that love for others — foreigners, the sick, prisoners, the homeless, even our enemies– is the yardstick by which God will judge our actions,” he states. “Our eternal destiny depends on this.”


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