Do I risk dissolving the marriage?
This was a question I considered after reading an interview with our favorite neo-anti-antinomian, Mark Jones about his book on antinomianism. He uses this example to make his point about personal holiness improvement:
I need to be told to love my wife more. I remember being in South Africa and my friend rebuked me for not opening the car door for my wife. He was saying, “show love to your wife.” But he didn’t say, “Mark, I want you to look to your justification right now” in the hopeful expectation that I will suddenly realize that I need to open the door for my wife. And he didn’t say, “Mark, you aren’t looking to our justification because if you were you would have opened the door for your wife.” If he said that I’d think he was a weirdo. Sometimes in the Christian life we can give a rebuke without having it die the death of a thousand qualifications; and the rebuke can work wonders.
That makes a lot of sense but it is hardly a slam dunk for union with Christ or the simultaneity of justification and sanctification. Plus, would Mark think a friend weird if he said, “Mark, you aren’t looking to your union because if you were you would have opened the door for your wife”? But haven’t the pro-union folks make claims almost that odd, as if looking to our union is going to solve the charge of antinomianism?
The problem with Mark’s sensible point is that it comes with a not-so-qualified one, namely, an implicit threat:
Like Turretin, Owen affirms that good works are the necessary path believers must walk to final salvation. This is in keeping with Westminster Larger Catechism, Q & A 32, which speaks of good works as “the way which [God] hath appointed them to salvation.” WCF 16.2 speaks of “their fruit unto holiness” leading to the end, which likewise reflects the relationship between means and end.
Where is the language to say that yes, works are necessary but not in the sense that if you don’t open the car door for your wife you lose your
salvation marriage? If the forensic character of marriage won’t let my wife divorce me for not being polite, can’t the imputed righteousness of Christ cover a multitude of sins? I sure hope so. Sometimes even the missus does also.