The Puritan Fetish

Why do Reformed Protestants think appealing to the Puritans settles it?

Why does Patrick Ramsey think John Ball’s view of justification is significant?

While denying the Roman Catholic doctrine that love is the life and soul of justifying faith, John Ball (1585-1640) strenuously affirmed that justifying faith cannot be without love. Faith and love are distinct graces which are “infused together” by the Holy Spirt at regeneration and “the exercise of faith and love be inseparably conjoined (Treatise of Faith, 45-46).” Where there is justifying faith there is love: “As light and heat in the Sun be inseparable, so is faith and love, being knit together in a sure bond by the Holy Ghost (pg. 38).

If faith and love are distinct yet inseparable, so it is sometimes argued, “then Faith alone doth not justify (pg. 56).” The presence of love at the moment of justification implies that it is along with faith a co-instrument of justification. Ball responded to this objection by appealing to a common turn of phrase regarding the role of faith in justification: faith alone justifies but the faith which justifies is not alone. Or as it stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith: “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.”

And why does William Evans think the Puritans founded America (tell that to the Virginians)?

America was founded by Puritans. They viewed themselves as in covenant with God, as a new Israel. They thought that the covenant promises made to Israel applied quite literally to them. They thought that if Americans were obedient God would bless our land, just as he blessed ancient Israel. That’s why many American Christians love to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14: “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” This is where American exceptionalism, our notion of America as a special, chosen nation originates from.

But if Evans is right about the amillennialism, why don’t we abandon the Puritans (who were a tad preoccupied with being a chosen people)?

The point should be clear to us now—with the coming of the Messiah, the notion of the “promised land” is christologically defined. The promise of “land” is fulfilled concretely in Christ, who rules over the world as God’s kingdom, and his people. A principle of redemptive history is that when God takes something away, he replaces it with something much, much better.

All this should be a warning to us not to identify the Promised Land with any particular nation, or particular piece of real estate. The covenant promises of God regarding land do not apply to America as a nation in covenant with God, or as some sort of new Israel. God’s plans are not going down the tube because of America’s present unfaithfulness. We know that ultimate individual and collective transformation are God’s work that will not be completed until Christ comes again, and that, while real (albeit provisional) successes are at times realized today, this eschatological horizon implies that the ministry of the church is not going to usher in the millennium.

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32 thoughts on “The Puritan Fetish

  1. Not sure what the point of this is. Rev. Ramsey’s reflections on John Ball’s view of justification is correct, biblically and confessionally. Certainly we are not justified by the love which, while distinct from, ever accompanies the faith by which alone we are justified. Nevertheless, where one finds the justifying faith which receives and rests upon Christ alone, one will also find such faith accompanied by hope and love, for the triad of faith, hope and love always go together.

    Does the fact that Ramsey quotes a Puritan to make this case somehow make him guilty of “The Puritan Fetish”? Would you rather that he quoted a Lutheran or Anglican Divine, or perhaps Calvin or one of the continental Reformed theologians? (And if he did so, could he thereby be accused of having a “Lutheran Fetish” or a “Prelatic Fetish” or a “Scholastic Reformed Fetish”?)

    Sorry, Dr. Hart, I guess I’m dense, but I just don’t get it.

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  2. I think Bill Evans already did the “Lutheran fetish” thing. https://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/lutheran-love/

    Evans—Rather than making union with Christ a subsidiary moment in the ordo, the Reformed formally retained Calvin’s emphasis on union with Christ as an umbrella category for salvation, but they bifurcated union into a federal or legal union on the one hand, and a spiritual or transforming union on the other. Thus, to speak of a federal union with Christ was to speak of justification, and the spiritual union denoted sanctification. Such language of distinct, if concomitant, unions became common in the tradition from the early eighteenth century onward, and Calvin’s understanding of spiritual union with Christ as holding justification and sanctification together without collapsing one into the other was lost. The upshot of this was that later Reformed soteriology has been, shall we say, a bit bi-polar, and the history of this later Reformed theology has tended to oscillate back and forth between neonomianism (the danger for those who emphasize transformation) and antinomianism (the danger for those who focus especially on justification).”

    Calvin (3:2:24) —-Christ is not outside us but dwells within us. Not only does Christ cleave to us by an indivisible bond of fellowship, but grow more and more into one body with us, until He becomes completely one with us’ (III.ii.24).

    McCormack—One of the ‘gifts’ Calvin speaks of–regeneration–is difficult to distinguish conceptually from that ‘union’ which is supposed to give rise to BOTH justification AND regeneration….Calvin’s break with Medieval Catholic views was not as clean and complete as he himself thought. For where regeneration is made— if only logically–to be the root of justification, then the work of God in us is once again made to be the ground of the divine forgiveness of sins.

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  3. Let’s keep it catholic and reformed, because the puritans were, except of course if you give the priority to God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness in order to regeneration and then faith in the gospel. Then there’s no room for you in the catholic and reformed tent, and we will push you out, since Lutherans never belonged.

    Honor the diversity, but to include Norman Shepherd’s view, some views will need to be excluded.

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/10/reformed-theological-diversity.php#sthash.wEmD1RR0.dpuf

    Mark Jones– Debates on forsaking sin in order to be justified. See Witsius. Good thing he wasn’t living in Scotland in the eighteenth century.
    Mark Jones–Debates on justification are well known, especially on the matter of imputation. But even the question of whether justification may be “reiterated” or only understood as a one-time act was disputed. Plus, there are the views of many who say something along these lines–“To this effect, Good works of all sorts are, by some, said to be necessary to our Continuance in the state of justification and to our final absolution: not as Instrumental Causes of our Justification, but only as precedent Qualifications or conditions of final forgiveness and eternal bliss. Such passages had need to be very wisely and warily understood, lest thereby the minds of any be withdrawn from the pure doctrine of justification by Faith in Jesus Christ.”

    Mark Jones—Also, hypothetical Universalism seems to have quite a strong pedigree among Reformed theologians.

    Mark Jones– “The position that faith followed imputation is not typical of Reformed but rather was associated with antinomianism….Any view that posits faith as a consequence of imputation (John Cotton) is not the typical Reformed position….The view that imputation precedes regeneration ends up attributing to imputation a renovative transformative element.”

    mcmark—Evans and Jones are dogmatic that “union” precedes imputation, and that “faith” precedes “union”. Does that not end up attributing to “union” a transformative element? Does that not end up attributing to “faith” a transformative element? Is the atonement imputed to us on the basis of the Spirit’s work of giving us faith?

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  4. http://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/are-good-works-efficacious-unto-salvation/

    Bill Evans—”Many Reformed theologians have sought to protect the gratuity of justification by temporally sequestering it from transformation of life so as to underscore that justification cannot depend upon sanctification … But the result here is that justification is abstracted from the ongoing life of faith. Thus it is that a good deal of conservative Reformed theology has been more or less unable to give a coherent account of the Christian life…..Much more satisfactory is the early reformed conception of the believer’s participation in Christ’s RESURRECTION justification that has been more recently retrieved by Geerhardus Vos, Richard Gaffin, and others…”

    mcmark—It is a contradiction to say that all of God’s acts depend on “union”, and then to turn around and also say that “union” depends on faith. Does faith also depend on “union”? Or does “union” depend on faith? While Evans never clearly define “union”, it seems like he think that we receive the “personal presence” of Christ inside us (participation by real infusion) BEFORE we receive the benefit of Christ’s finished work (imputation) . In other words, since Jesus is now the Holy Spirit in redemptive history, for Evans (and for Gaffin and Sinclair Ferguson and Garcia and Ramsey and Tipton), this is read to mean that we must obtain possession of Christ as a person not only before we are justified but also before God will impute Christ’s righteousness to us. Osiander redefined…

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  5. D.G. Hart: “Geoff, is John Ball an authority? Does appealing to him solve anything? Don’t Protestants go to the Bible or a secondary standard?”

    GW: Well, yeah. But who’s denying that? (And, actually, historic Protestants appeal both to Scripture and to subordinate confessional standards based upon those Scriptures; it is pseudo-protestant biblicists and other “no creed but Christ” Christians who appeal to the Bible alone and ignore the historic, Scripture-based creeds and confessions.)

    What Ball said can be demonstrated from both the Bible and from our secondary standards. Are you saying Ramsey should just quote the Bible, and forget quoting other sources (even if those other sources are grounded in Scripture)? If you make a theological point and quote Machen to back it up, do I have good reason (based on your position as stated in this article) to accuse you of having a “Machen Fetish”? If I write something about justification and just happen to quote Charles or A.A. Hodge as an authority, would I thereby be guilty of an “Old Princeton Fetish”?

    Again, sorry to be so dense, but I’m really just not sure what the issue is here or what point you are trying to make.

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  6. Hi Geoff,

    How is this accurate…”Faith and love are distinct graces which are infused together by the Holy Spirt at regeneration and the exercise of faith and love be inseparably conjoined.” According to our Confession regeneration precedes faith, And love and other graces are present in the person justified. So love is not an aspect of saving faith, but the result of saving faith…. in the person already justified is key. To posit love as a result of regeneration, as Ball does, instead of as a result of justification, as the WCF does, is the problem. We love God after believing he loved and saved us, not before. Agreed?

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  7. A good mix of law and gospel will give you a good mix, so you never have to preach “mere gospel” or “gospel alone” to your congregation. Depending on the situation and how much despair there already is, you can mingle in more or less laws, but in any situation, human responsibility means that “obeying the law” is the “condition” of either staying in the covenant or being puritan enough to have assurance along with your faith.

    Ramsey—“The warnings should never be considered apart from the promises, and vice versa. The two need to be mingled together and served together in order “to keep the heart in the best temper.” On the one hand, we will “grow overbold with God” if the threats do not make us tremble. On other hand, we will soon be “dejected” if the promises do not uphold us. Christians who continue to wrestle with sin require the sweetness of the promises and the tartness of the warnings to run with endurance the race that is set before them. As Ball says, “sour and sweet make the best sauce.”

    Ramsey—Not everyone, however, agrees with the sanctifying use of the threatenings. There are some people who have argued that fear of punishment is not a sound motivation to Christian holiness. There is a plausibility to this position because the Bible also says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). What have Christians to fear if they are no longer condemned? Ball answers by noting that this argument only applies to final damnation. A justified Christian may experience fatherly correction in the form of temporal threats and punishments. He, therefore, ought to be motivated to holiness by fear of temporal punishments.

    Ramsey—But a justified Christian who is assured of his salvation in Christ Jesus ought also to have a healthy fear of the warnings against apostasy and thus final damnation. (mm–So, despite what Ball argued first, the argument also applies to final damnation?)

    Ramsey—As Ball notes, it is possible to fear that which you are “infallibly assured to escape.” “The godly man’s assurance of God’s favour will stand well with reverence of his Majesty and fear of…the torments of Hell.” This is so in part because God’s sovereignty in salvation does not diminish our responsibility…. The fear we have is not a “distrustful” fear that we will fall away and be damned but “a watchful fear of shunning and shrinking all means leading thereunto.” We fear “the torments of Hell, not as an evil [we] shall fall into, but which [we] shall escape by the constant study and practice of holiness.”
    http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/sanctification-faith-threatenings

    RC Sproul—A while back I had one of those moments of acute self-awareness that we have from time to time, and suddenly the question hit me: “R.C. what if you are not one of the redeemed? What if your destiny is not heaven after all, but hell?” Let me tell you that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine. I\ was terrified.

    R C Sproul—I tried to grab hold of myself. I thought, “Well, it’s a good sign that I’m worried about this. Only true Christians really care about salvation.” But then I began to take stock of my life, and I looked at my performance. My sins came pouring into my mind, and the more I looked at myself, the worse I felt. I thought, “Maybe it’s really true. Maybe I’m not saved after all.”

    R C Sproul—I went to my room and began to read the Bible. On my knees I said, “Well, here I am. I can’t point to my obedience. There’s nothing I can offer. I can only rely on Your atonement for my sins. I can only throw myself on Your mercy.” Even then I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell, not out of a real turning to God. I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation.

    R C Sproul—Then I remembered .. Jesus had been giving out hard teaching, and many of His former followers had left Him. When Jesus asked Peter if he was also going to leave, Peter said, “Where else can I go? Only You have the words of eternal life.” In other words, Peter was also uncomfortable, but he realized that being uncomfortable with Jesus was better than any other option!

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  8. Todd: “According to our Confession regeneration precedes faith, And love and other graces are present in the person justified. So love is not an aspect of saving faith, but the result of saving faith…. in the person already justified is key. To posit love as a result of regeneration, as Ball does, instead of as a result of justification, as the WCF does, is the problem. We love God after believing he loved and saved us, not before. Agreed?”

    GW: Todd, I agree that regeneration precedes faith. I also agree that love for Christ and neighbor is one of the fruits and evidences of true saving faith. Justification is not by love, nor by hope, nor even by faith working through love, but by Spirit-wrought, extraspective faith/trust in Christ alone as He is offered in the gospel word and sacraments.

    I see your concern about how Ball’s manner of expression could be potentially confusing. However, as I read the quote above I think Ramsey (in quoting Ball) was trying to emphasize that the graces of faith and love, while certainly distinct on from the other, are yet inseparable, and thus are always found together in the justified person (which is certainly in line with our Confession’s teaching that justifying faith is ever accompanied by all other saving graces). I also think he was trying to ground love ultimately in the regenerating work of the Spirit, rather than ground it ultimately in the believer’s faith. For, although faith is indeed an evangelical grace bestowed by God, it is also a grace which is exercised by the renewed man. In other words, I think Ramsey was concerned to give the glory for the Christian’s love to God, rather than to the renewed man who exercises that love.

    But all of this is rather beside the point of Dr. Hart’s article above, in which he seems to be saying that we Protestants should only be citing the Bible when engaging in theological polemics, and not quoting from other sources (or at least from Puritan sources, apparently). To me that is an (ironically!) biblicist position, not a consistently confessional Protestant one.

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  9. Geoff, so do you know who John Ball is? I am not a scholar of the 17th century, but how is it that someone who was not even at the Assembly emerges as an authority — just because he was a “Puritan”? It’s not exactly the case, by the way, that Puritanism is any more definable than evangelicalism is. If I quote Old Side Presby John Thomson, does that mean anything? So maybe Patrick Ramsey needs to explain to those of us who Ball is.

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  10. Geoff, I want to know more about someone than “he’s a Puritan.” Is that too much to ask (especially if the “Puritan” is either confusing or obvious)?

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  11. D.G. Hart: “Geoff, I want to know more about someone than “he’s a Puritan.” Is that too much to ask (especially if the “Puritan” is either confusing or obvious)?”

    GW: Thanks for this clarifying comment. Now I think I can follow your train of thought better. So, I guess what you are saying is that just quoting any old Puritan won’t do. And I would agree with that. I would also agree that Ramsey would have done well to inform his readers of who John Ball is, and why he should be viewed as an authority, instead of just indicating that he was a Puritan and assuming that for his readers any “Puritan” automatically carries weight. (In my opinion some of the Puritans were great and wrote many helpful things; on the other hand, others among the so-called Puritans were quite skilled at terrorizing souls and driving tender consciences inward toward morbid introspection rather than outward toward Christ, and thus laying the foundations for revivalism and unitarianism.)

    On the other hand, just because someone is quoted who may not be generally well-known does not thereby lessen the truthfulness of what they are saying. John Ball may have been a relatively unknown “Puritan” divine, but that in itself does not thereby denigrate what he wrote if what he wrote is in line with Scripture. Many ministers of the word today are not well known at all outside of their own congregations, but as confessionalists we don’t expect a minister to be a celebrity in order to take him seriously as an ambassador of Christ. But, again, I get what you are saying about the Puritans. Some of them indeed deserved to be taken seriously; others, not so much.

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  12. Geoff, do those who quote the Puritans quote the bad parts? I do think cherry picking goes on (and in this case as Todd indicates it’s confusing cherries). I recently read Middlekauf’s book on the Mathers and I’m not sure why anyone would want to recommend their convictions. Puritans have a lot for which to answer.

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  13. Todd,

    How is this accurate…”Faith and love are distinct graces which are infused together by the Holy Spirt at regeneration and the exercise of faith and love be inseparably conjoined.”

    Not that I have a Kline fetish, but interestingly, he apparently agrees with Ball on this point:

    “Now, the obedience indispensable to reception of the ultimate blessings of
    the Abrahamic Covenant is the inevitable accompaniment of the faith through which the righteousness of God is appropriated. For it is included
    as a fruit of the same divine work of spiritual renewal from which springs faith. They are twin gifts of God’s saving grace, twin fruits of the Spirit.” (KP, p. 119ff.)

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  14. David,

    I know about your Kline fetish – I see that Kingdom Prologue lunchbox you take to work. A couple things. The KP quote is actually from pg. 319, (in case anyone wants to look it up). Kline seems only to be arguing that the seed of both faith and obedience are found in regeneration, that regeneration will eventually produce both, in which we all agree. Kline is not arguing any order there, nor is he failing to distinguish faith from it’s fruit, love, which I think Ball is unclear about, but may be stating the same general truth. And I don’t think Kline was as clear as he could have been in that quote either. But this concern to distinguish faith from love as its fruit was a concern of many during the Puritan era…

    Wilhelmus a Brakel – “faith does not consist in love, which is what the papists and the Arminians maintain. Love is not the essence of faith, for 1) faith and love are two distinct virtues (1 Cor. 13:13). It is rather obvious that one virtue cannot be the essence of another. 2) Love is the fruit of faith (Gal. 5:6). Faith does not derive its efficacy from love, but rather faith is efficacious toward the operation of love. …The result of something cannot be its essence.”

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  15. Todd, right, p. 319. (That’ll teach me to rely on my memory for the amount of time it takes me to toggle from my searchable KP PDF file back to Safari….)

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  16. dgh—“What about the average believer who lives life like a pilgrim, someone in exile, hardly in command of his affairs, but weak, frail, and in need of a reminder that God has saved him”

    According to the Gaffin wing of the OPC, your problem is that you have reduced salvation to justification and forget that you are “united to His resurrection”.http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=540&cur_iss=Y

    David Garner– “A not-guilty verdict of an Almighty Judge does not make the criminal a son.”

    mcmark–And thus “justification” is reduced to forgiveness and not guilty. And the teaching of forensic co-death with Christ so that the justified elect are “justified from sin” (Romans 6:7) is rejected for the sake of saying that since Christ was transformed by death, we shall be transformed. No, it is not said that Christ became regenerated or that Christ became united to God, but is said that Christ’s death is NOT “merely” about “sin not having dominion because or noting being under law” (Romans 6:14) but instead about Christ being adopted and becoming the Holy Spirit in the redemptive economy.

    David Garner—“ The vital and intimate union between the sons and the Son remains unyieldingly robust….In Christ the forensic and the transformative are ONE. Justification, sanctification, and glorification are ONE. Declaratory, transformatory and consummatory COALESCE in this resurrection.”

    mcmark—That “believer who thinks he is weak and needy” needs to be given some information about “union with Christ’s resurrection” so that they will know that they are transformed and can transform. Instead of getting stuck on the cross and the death of Christ, that “average believer” of yours needs a theology of glory and resurrection. If they are taught the history of Israel (which equates to the history of redemptive transformation) , then they can forget any difference between DOING law and KNOWING gospel, because now that they are adopted, the definition of faith as “not works” has been eliminated, as has any other “narrow” focus on justification by grace and not by law.

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  17. Todd

    “To posit love as a result of regeneration, as Ball does, instead of as a result of justification, as the WCF does, is the problem. We love God after believing he loved and saved us, not before. Agreed?”

    Why can’t regeneration handle both love and faith. Why does faith have to depend on love? Love is PRESENT in the one justified we all admit. It has no role in justifying, but it is present. Where did it come from? From effectual calling, which “powerfully determined the heart to will that which is good [like faith in Jesus for justification, AND love for God]

    The larger catechism says the preface tells us that the God we are to obey in the first commandment is one who “delivereth us from our spiritual thraldom; and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments”

    And then the first commandment includes within it a DUTY to believe and trust God. The God who is our deliverer. Our trust for justification is in keeping with that duty. The fact that it keeps the duty has nothing to do with WHY god justifies those with faith, nor is any love that they have simultaneously and must have simultaneously with faith.

    I don’t know why anyone would claim that any of this is undermining anything the reformation taught, unless the reformation was a much more fragile move than I have been led to believe it is.

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  18. Hey P Duggie, what’s it been, like ten years since we have sparred on-line? Maybe we need to retire

    D: Why can’t regeneration handle both love and faith.

    T: Depends what you mean by “handle”

    D: Why does faith have to depend on love?

    T: I think you mean love depend on faith. Because we cannot love God without believing he has first loved us.

    D: Love is PRESENT in the one justified we all admit. It has no role in justifying, but it is present. Where did it come from? From effectual calling, which “powerfully determined the heart to will that which is good [like faith in Jesus for justification, AND love for God]

    T: I do not recognize that quote – is it from a catechism? Effectual calling renews the will and enlightens the mind. It does not give love for God without first hearing the gospel. If you simply mean regeneration produces the seed that will eventually result in love for God we all agree, but you seem to be arguing against love being the fruit of faith. Is not Galatians clear on this – We receive the Spirit through hearing the gospel and believing – 3:2, the fruit of the Spirit is love – 5:22

    D: I don’t know why anyone would claim that any of this is undermining anything the reformation taught, unless the reformation was a much more fragile move than I have been led to believe it is.

    T: As long as you believe this – “These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith.” As far as undermining the reformation, love being a fruit of faith was a key distinction of the Reformed vs. Romanists.

    http://rscottclark.org/1998/09/regensburg-and-regensburg-ii-trying-to-reconcile-irreconcilable-differences-on-justification/

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  19. The quote was a paraphrase of WXF x.1 from memory. Literally its “renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good”

    Does the heart of stone respond in faith, or the heart of flesh respond in faith?

    If both love and faith are present in the one justified, it makes sense to me to see them as a double benefit of the effectual calling by the Spirit.

    seed language is fine. But I have a hard time imagining someone believing in God’s love for him in salvation without any kind of affection for the saving God simultaneously. Not because the faith has to provide or include the affection, or that the faith is based on the affection, but because saving faith without any affection accompanying it would be a monster like a disembodied eye.

    Clark writes “Having been declared just once for all, we are renewed by God’s Spirit through the Word and Sacraments”

    But the WCF on effectual calling says we need that renewal to HAVE the faith we need to receive the declaration of justice. A heart of flesh can believe the Gospel. A heart of stone can’t. (can it?)

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  20. D: The quote was a paraphrase of WXF x.1 from memory. Literally its “renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good”

    T: I got you. “Determining to them that which is good” does not answer our question of order, it is a general statement.

    D: If both love and faith are present in the one justified, it makes sense to me to see them as a double benefit of the effectual calling by the Spirit.

    T: Yes, they are both benefits, but are given in their proper order. If love is the essence of the law, thus obedience, we cannot obey God (sanctification) before justification.

    Belgic Confession Art 24: “These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable to God,
    since they are all sanctified by God’s grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification—for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good
    if the tree is not good in the first place.”

    D: But I have a hard time imagining someone believing in God’s love for him in salvation without any kind of affection for the saving God simultaneously.

    T. The affection would be in response to believing the gospel then, not before believing. We are not talking about a temporal necessity as much as a logical necessity. No one is sanctified before being forgiven.

    D: Not because the faith has to provide or include the affection, or that the faith is based on the affection, but because saving faith without any affection accompanying it would be a monster like a disembodied eye.

    T: Faith is looking outside ourselves for salvation. It is dangerous to speculate on the qualities in saving faith beyond knowledge, assent and trust.

    D: Clark writes…

    T: I think Scott reads this blog. Maybe he will answer you.

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  21. It seems like me a necessary consequence of faith being a 1) act of the will 2) something good that effectual calling that turns the heart to flesh comes before faith.

    Does a heart of stone believe? Or does a heart of flesh? I note you seem to have bypassed that issue.

    if RSC answered me directly I’d eat my hat. That’s what I mean by the fragility of the reformed faith. Its like he cant ever even ENTERTAIN the question.

    I’m specifically NOT speculating on any quality of saving faith. I’m saying love, a different thing from faith, will always accompany faith. And since it will accompany faith, it doesn’t “flow from it”. It flows from a heart made flesh (which, for some reason, we don’t have a specific term in theology. Maybe “regeneration” but that’s a neologism of sorts.

    Why does love have to be in response to believing the gospel? Why can’t I have TWO responses to the gospel? Belief in God and love for God?

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  22. D: Does a heart of stone believe? Or does a heart of flesh? I note you seem to have bypassed that issue.

    T: Faith is not love. Our hearts being enabled to believe is not the same with being filled with Christian graces such as love, obedience, etc… One is a pre-requisite to justification, the others a result of it.

    D: I’m specifically NOT speculating on any quality of saving faith. I’m saying love, a different thing from faith, will always accompany faith. And since it will accompany faith, it doesn’t “flow from it”.

    T: Why not? Love flowing from faith is a common description of the matter in Reformation times. “Accompany” does not necessarily mean arising at the exact same time, it means where there is saving faith, it will always result in its fruit.

    D: Why does love have to be in response to believing the gospel? Why can’t I have TWO responses to the gospel? Belief in God and love for God?

    T: If you mean faith and love are both responses to hearing the gospel, sure, but there is a necessary order for them, as in justification (faith) before sanctification (love). In dealing with Gal. 5:6, Calvin gave this warning: “When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works.” That’s my only concern here.

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  23. The Calvin quote is interesting. He was in a different polemical context.

    The heart being made flesh isn’t just being enabled to believe as one grace, and then another grace gets enabled later. A heart is changed from one thing into another. A New Man emerges, with New Faculties. A dead man comes alive. Does the dead man first get one kind of partial life and then another added grace of life on top of that?

    If we need to say that the heart is gradually made flesh, or that we become regenerate in different faculties in a different logical order, or we become semi-alive, and then more and more alive as more graces are added, just to follow a warning from Calvin or avoid a fragile, easily broken doctrine of justification of the ungodly, we’re kinda pulling back with the other hand the “never alone” aspect of faith I though we have always insisted on and we’re also not being true to any kind of realism of a stone to flesh heart, new life, or regeneration.

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  24. Gaffin—Horton finds problematic… the notion that regeneration produces a habitual change and involves the infusion of new habits . This Horton sees as a lingering residue of the medieval ontology that eventually made the Reformation necessary. (Chapter 10 ,”Covenantal Ontology and Effectual Calling”). I share fully Horton’s concerns about the notion sometime present in Reformed treatments of the ordo salutis that regeneration is prior to effectual calling and produces an antecedent state addressed in effectual calling. That notion is quite problematic and ought to be rejected.”

    Gaffin—HOWEVER, calling as such brings into view a divine activity without yet saying anything about its results or how it is effective. Regeneration, in contrast, brings into view not only a specific divine activity but the specific result of that activity; the state of being regenerate. Having been called effectively involves having been regenerated, but the two are not identical. The exercise of the Spirit’s energies in calling produces an enduring change… marked anthropologically by a new and lasting disposition inherent in them, what Scripture calls a new “heart.” That is, at the core of my being, I am no longer against God and disposed to rebel against his will but, now and forever, for him and disposed in the deepest recesses of whom I am to delight in doing his will.

    Gaffin–“The Holy Spirit’s work in the justified ungodly does not MERELY consist of an ongoing countering activity within those otherwise only disposed to be thoroughly resistant and recalcitrant. The definitive change MAINTAINED in believers by the Spirit provides a stable basis WITHIN THEM for renewing and maturing them according to their inner selves (2 Cor. 4:16). The Reformed use of “habitual” to describe this irreversible change, seems appropriate and useful. ”

    http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=141

    Gaffin agrees to Horton not putting regneration before calling but Gaffin does put “union” before regeneration and regeneration before faith. And though he leaves “union” undefined, it’s clear that he conflates the “in Him” with the “Him in us” so that “union” is in some sense after faith.

    Why is it a problem to deny that love flows from justification, as long as love flows?

    Is the problem that “justification” can be defined, but that “love ” and “union” cannot?

    If “faith-union” is a result of faith, and if love is a result of regeneration, where does faith come from?

    if future love is not instrumental but faith is instrumental, what’s the difference?
    neither love nor faith are the righteousness of Christ’s death

    we don’t accept God’s imputation, but we do accept the gospel of God’s imputation

    those who “love” without faith in the gospel are not yet justified

    If “union” is God’s transforming presence in love, and “union” must come before justification, how is it that God is justifying the ungodly?

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  25. The economic arguments against excessive state spending suited Maragert Thatchers’s inclination towards thrift; theoretical notions of state interference went hand in hand with her understanding on the foundations of individual liberty, while the desire for moral and economic restraint fed into her innate Puritanism. This was self-conscious but it was not entirely self-constructed. Her upbringing had instilled a class and religious identity that was to be reawakened in the mid-1970s http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=548&issue_id=114

    Dr. T. David Gordon in his book “Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers” (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2009)—-“Some of the neo-Puritans have apparently determined that the purpose of Christian preaching is to persuade people that they do not, in fact, believe. The subtitle of each of their sermons could accurately be: “I Know You Think You Are a Christian, but You Are Not.” This brand of preaching constantly suggests that if a person does not always love attending church, always look forward to reading the Bible, or family worship, or prayer, then the person is probably not a believer…”

    The hearer falls into one of two categories: one category of listener assumes that the preacher is talking about someone else, and he rejoices (as did the Pharisee over the tax collector) to hear “the other guy” getting straightened out. Another category of listener eventually capitulates and says: “Okay, I’m not a believer; have it your way.” But since the sermon mentions Christ only in passing (if at all), the sermon says nothing about the adequacy of Christ as Redeemer, and therefore does nothing to build faith in Christ.

    “It is painful to hear every passage of Scripture twisted to do what only several of them actually do (i.e., warn the complacent that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven). And it is absolutely debilitating to be told again and again that one does not have faith when one knows perfectly well that one does have faith, albeit weak and imperfect…”

    “So no one profits from this kind of preaching; indeed, both categories of hearer are harmed by it. But I don’t expect it will end anytime soon. The self-righteous like it too much; for them, religion makes them feel good about themselves, because it allows them to view themselves as the good guys and others as the bad guys – they love to hear the preacher scold the bad guys each week. And sadly, the temperament of some ministers is simply officious. Scolding others is their life calling; they have the genetic disposition to be a Jewish mother.” (pp. 83-84)

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