26 August 2009

Great Things He Has Done

by Frank Turk

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
You know: many of you are enthusiastic followers of Mike Horton and his cohorts on the White Horse Inn. And let's face it: good on ya. There's a lot more good than harm eminating from their call for a modern reformation, and I myself am capitaved by their little chats.

I've been listening to the 14 June 2009 podcast all summer, which is titled "God's Story vs. Our Stories". And if I had to sum it up in one sentence, I'd say that podcast is seeking to make the point that the most important story in the Christian life is God's story.

I mean: fair enough, right? That's what Paul is saying here to Titus to a large degree: The grace of God has appeared bringing salavation, giving us the blessed hope of the return of Jesus, and who purified us by redeeming us from lawlessness. The message is Jesus; it is not, "I cleaned up my life and now God loves me," or any other such twaddle. Our purification is because Christ died for us, not because we do better now.

There's a parallelism, btw, with our sin state here: we are not made sinners by our sinning, but in fact we are sinning now because we have the nature of sinners. It is our state as being in love with sin which makes us do sinful things, and our sinfulness is what makes us revolt against God. Because we are not pure, we do unpure things. Out of the overflow of the heart, as they say, the mouth speaks.

But it is exactly that parallelism which puts me off what our friends at WHI said in that podcast. In Mike Horton's view -- and in the view of his cohorts there -- somehow the consequence of "purified by redemption" doesn't have the necessary implication "his own possession who are zealous for good works".

Here's what Prof. Horton said:
Now when you run into "emergent", what's called the "emergent churches", even the "emerging churches" which is a broader category, often what you hear is, "well, now we what to see people live it, and enough creeds: it's time for deeds." And "really, the thing that's keeping Christianity from being taken seriously in our culture is that people really aren't living it." Don't you think that this -- first of all, there's nothing new or post-modern about that; I grew up with that, my grandmother grew up with that --do you think that that actually undermines the Gospel? that is it actually the very opposite because the Gospel, the Scriptures say, is the power of God unto salvation, not my living the Gospel. There's one person that lived the law, and that is the Gospel.
Yes: that is the Gospel. He is right that the active and passive obedience of Christ, his life and his death, followed by His resurrection as God's sign that He will keep His promise, is the Gospel.

But there are two things here which the White Horse Inn-mates (it's a joke; relax) are overlooking, and almost tragically so.

The first is that the Gospel is for someone. The Gospel is not just a spectacle but a gift, a grace which God gives to someone -- namely, His people who have faith. It is done, but it is for us. cf. last week's post on this passage: that's why it ought to be proclaimed -- to call out those for whom it is given.

But the second point is at least as important: It is not either deeds or creeds, but deed and creeds, or better still deeds as a necessary consequence of what the creeds say and mean. The creeds are not a law unto themselves; they are an enumeration of in whom we have faith and what He has done. They are not the faith but a limited description of the faith. And in that, if we believe what they say, we will live, as Paul says to Titus, as his own possession who are zealous for good works.



I love my wife, y'all. Without overstating this theologically, I love her because she loves me first. It's easy for me to go the extra mile for her when I have to because the name of Mrs. Centuri0n is "lovingkindness".

Now, that's sweet of me to bring it up, I know. I mention it because it is true. But what if you followed me around for a few days, and I was acting like Jon Gosselin -- or worse, that I was constantly calling her and checking up on her, making sure she wasn't cheating on me or leaving the kids unattended? Would my confession that Mrs. Cent is a wife of lovingkindness make any sense, or carry any credibility? Would my actions adorn the doctrine of Mrs. Cent?

Or would my actions prove I don't believe a word of it?

See: the doctrine of Mrs. Cent can be true objectively, but as Rod Rosenblatt points out so cunningly, maybe nobody believes it. Maybe nobody believes the good news of Mrs. Cent -- particularly her husband for whom she has done all these great things.

Here to Titus, Paul makes the equally demanding point that it is not enough to merely declare that truth that Christ is a Savior who has done great things; we must be a people for whom great things He has done. A people for whom great things have been done will not be an unchanged people. And in the same way that our sinners' nature has caused us to sin, our savior's redemption and purification will cause us to love what is good, and do it.

And you, dear pastor reader, must preach this. You must teach this. And you must live this. Your people will not be perfect, but they are purified. Teach them to live because that is true.








83 comments:

olan strickland said...

Amen Frank! This passage will help guard one against turning the grace of God into licentiousness. Your post elucidates (I learned that word watching Foghorn Leghorn) the truth that right belief and right behavior cannot be separated - they go hand in hand.

witness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stratagem said...

Frank
What are your thoughts about the intended meaning of "good works" in this passage? Isn't declaring the Gospel a good work in itself, and one that only Christians can do? Could this be what was meant, or is it necessarily the more traditional meaning of feeding the hungry, etc?

witness said...

I read this great post and after deliberate and thoughtful meditation... I just know someone is going to ask...

"Well how much do I need to do?"

stratagem said...

Witness: actually I was going to ask "how much beer can I drink and still be a Christian?"
Just kidding.

Patrick Eaks said...

Frank,
Very good teaching on this subject. I appreciate your work in the word of God to "rightly divide it".

One verse I thought of was, "1Cor. 15:10 - But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me".

The grace of God effects us in such a way that we truly are changed by it and the evidence of this grace will be manifested to all of those around us.

We have nothing to boast before God. We are unprofitable servants, yet if grace is in us, we will appropriate it outwardly so that all will see it.

Thanks again for your work here.

Chad V. said...

It's too bad to hear that such a crucial teaching has been circumvented. The position that Horton has put forth always degenerates into legalism.

mike said...

Isn’t this usually the fork in the road?
We (maybe) know the theology in our heads, and since we are also cunning cheaters, ascertain the goal, righteousness. So, ignoring all of the “because’s” in the Word, blast off to act righteous. Next thing you old Jed is a millionaire, and we live at willow creek, changing communities.
Seems to me, as we try to grasp the whole “creeds and deeds” issue, we almost invariably pick one as primary, and give it 75% of our efforts.
People will not come to right relationship with a Holy God, watching us repair and paint the widow’s bungalow, but they will probably not listen to the words out of our mouths when our actions oppose those words.
We live because He died and now lives within us. We obey because the Holy Spirit causes our new heart to LOVE obeying, we give because we have received, ad infinitum.

mike said...

Chad,
I would not consider defending WHI, don’t know them personally, not qualified, too tired, etc.
But, if we always see the truth as a razors edge, and it probably is, almost every statement or stance will fall on one side or the other. We react to what we see and hear, from the basis in which we live, as best we know how.
If Horton is reacting to the deeds only EM push by saying “deeds won’t get it done”, then not so horrific. If he is saying let’s eat bon bons while the earth burns, then not so good.

Dave said...

During my reading of Titus a few weeks ago, the following verses from chapters 2 and 3 stood out to me. The first 3 refer to why behavior matters. The latter 4 the necessity of good works.

that the word of God may not be reviled

so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us

so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior

a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works

to be ready for every good work

those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.

And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works

I hope the chapter and verse police aren't patrolling this neighborhood. :D

Frank Turk said...

Chad --

I think the irony is that Prof. Horton believes he is overcoming legalism and overcoming a works-to-righteousness theology by his reproach of the subject.

The basis of this episode of WHI was the question his producer put to the attendees of the Christian Broadcasters' Association, "In terms of sharing the faith, which would you prefer -- sharing the doctrines, or your personal testimony?" And I'll be honest -- in that context, some of those answers given were frankly abominable, particularly the misuse of Rev 12:11 by a series of responders.

But the reaction from the hosts was not to say, and hammer home, that the Gospel is the only thing which produces God's people who are therefore his possession as a historical fact due to the historical fact of the person and work of Jesus Christ: their perspective, which is due to their view of their own systematics, is that because we are not perfect by our actions, we cannot put any credence into our testimony.

This is simply not how the NT deals with this issue. And we have to give Horton & Co. credit where credit is due to say that they also say plainly that how we see and react to our own failures is a huge part of being the people God redeemed.

But their utter rejection of anything which approaches the formula "I believe, therefore I do" leaves a lot to be desired.

mike said...

Frank,
That is it, isn’t it?
"I believe, therefore I do"
So, if I don’t do, it is time to find out why.
And we can’t shortcut to “I do, therefore I believe.” Doesn’t work, still.

Red and Black Redneck said...

Frank:

I am sorry but at no time do the guys on the WHI ever descend into any type of anti-nomianism or a "creeds only" mentality. This year's series on the Gospel-Driven life is a follow up to last year's series on Christless Christianity where their point was that modern evangelicals have confused "doing" with "being" in the sense of working for righteousness as opposed to receiving the gift of grace and responding in deeds. In other words, orthodoxy yields orthopraxy.

Mike is a prolific writer. If he ascribed to the belief suggested, I am sure there would be written documentation. In fact, it is my understanding he has a systematic theology to be published early next year. I doubt there will be anything approaching the impression you may have been left with from that broadcast.

Frank Turk said...

Mike --

I don't think Prof. Horton is saying, "let us sin, therefore grace may abound." What he is saying, over and over, I think, is that the only testimony which matters is the testimony of Scripture -- God's word to us.

In a very specific and systematic sense, I think he is right about that. The problem, of course, is whether or not what God has said turned out to be true in an objective, historical sense.

Yes: Jesus is risen from the grave, so points to the Gospel.

And eschatologically, when Jesus returns, yes: Christ has come again to put all his enemies under His foot. That will be true.

That is "already" and "not yet".

But is the only other effect of the Cross the preaching of the word and the rememberance of the table? Really -- that's it?

At some point, they have to get out of Galatians and 1+2 Corinthians and see that ther are other necessary consequences of the Gospel. If God has redeemed us, we should be a grateful people -- and a grateful people aren't just doing these things which the world cannot understand. They are doing something which the world cannot misunderstand, except to its own destruction.

The works do not stand alone, but they do adorn the Gospel.

You see what I'm sayin'?

Al said...

Maybe Brian McLaren was weighing heavy on Professor Horton's mind in all of this?
McLaren's first prayer of Ramadan

Keeping fast with the Muslims is all about some gospel livinig (little g intentional).

al sends

Frank Turk said...

Red & Black Redneck:

I honestly would give Prof. Horton the benefit of the doubt -- except that his application of this premise is a dismissal of what we do as at all indicative of what we believe.

He wants to -- rightly so -- take refuge in the Gospel when he fails. I agree with him: that is our refuge when we fail, and we will fail.

But the other half of that, which is woefully absent from WHI discussion, is what it means to be a people in God's possession, zealous for good works.

You know: zealous. I took a beating over "blamless" earlier in this series, but I'll bet I'll take another one over being "zealous for good works". We don't wave a hand at good works as if it was a neighbor we don't know and don't necessarily dislike.

This is why specifically I used the analogy of my relationship with my wife in this post: it's one thing to admit that often I do not love her as if her name was "lovingkindness" -- but that fault is mine, not a fault of her lovingkindness. What makes me a better husband today than I was a decade ago is that I really believe that my wife is loving and kind.

Those who really believe that God is a redeemer who purifies us will live like they believe it -- and while they may fail to live it, they will be striving to live it.

That's simply not what or how Horton & Co. address this issue at WHI in general, and it's not what they emphasized in this broadcast in particular.

I like them; I respect them; they are wrong about this. They over-react to the real trouble of legalism and experientialism.

Frank Turk said...

witness --

I love that question -- and I almost missed you asking it.

That question is the heart and soul of legalism.

The question is simply not "how much?" The nright definition of "legalism" is "looking for a list of things to do so you can accomplish the minimum and still admire yourself for being in conformity with the objective; the polar opposite of love which pours out all things for the sake of being pleasing to the object of affection.".

God has done what God has done: are you grateful? If God were real (you know: "if"), how would you act grateful?

That's not a list: it's a life.

Gary said...

I think what it boils down to is that, yes the most important story is God's story, but it is God's story played out in the lives of real people. You must never elevate the story of people above the story of God, but you can never get all of God's story without the lives of the people.

Red and Black Redneck said...

Frank: I am sorry but they are not "wrong" about this issue and it doesn't seem that they over-react. As those interviews at an evangelical Christian conference showed, there is a woeful misunderstanding amongst evangelicals about what the gospel is. They rightly hammer the idea that the gospel is something "subjective within myself" as opposed to an objective historical fact in which we have faith, by God's grace. Once that truth is correctly appropriated, then the acts follow, but still by the Spirit and not me.

Take a look at the dreck that is produced as Sunday School materials by Lifeway to see how bad the confusion of categories (as Kim Riddlebarger would put it) truly is.

With good cheer

Frank Turk said...

R&B Redneck:

Gut check -- name one podcast in the last 3 years on WHI where the balance indicated in this passage of scripture (Titus 2:11-15) is exhorted with the same balance demonstrated by paul to Titus.

The reason this test is a great one is that the Cretans were just like us.

Let me know -- I'd love to hear it and print a retraction.

Daryl said...

"Once that truth is correctly appropriated, then the acts follow, but still by the Spirit and not me."

While technically true, still it is I who must love my wife and serve my neighbour and take out the trash and teach my kids how to ride thier bike and feed the hungry and fix my neighbours broken whatever.

If I am a believer, then I will and must do those things. If I am not, it doesn't matter if I do them.

If I don't do them, I have reason to examine myself to see if I am in the faith.

Which is why we all need to do that examination everyday, because we all fail to do the things that we must do, if we are to call ourselves Christians.

Jugulum said...

Red and Black Redneck,

Agreeing with you that the WHI gents were addressing a very significant problem...

But it seems like you're not hearing. Because the question isn't whether there's a woeful misunderstanding of what the gospel is.

Specifically,
"I honestly would give Prof. Horton the benefit of the doubt -- except that his application of this premise is a dismissal of what we do as at all indicative of what we believe."

So what are you disagreeing with?

1.) That it's wrong to dismiss what we do as at all indicative of what we believe?
2.) Or that Mike Horton was dismissing it?

Scott Bailey said...

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Red and Black Redneck said...

Frank:

In a world of Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, etc. is such a podcast necessary? Yes, the Cretans were just like us but the church is not just like Paul. Therefore, I think the WHI strives to provide the other side of the coin and therefore, the balance that I at any rate, need to hear.

Daryl:

You are absolutely right. However, we must remember that pagans can and do perform all those things - only, they do it wrongly, i.e. unrighteously. Believers only do it rightly in response to a correct understanding of the gospel.

Put it this way, I have never, will never and can never do this:

" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "

But as a believer, I can point to Christ who has done all those things righteously. My feeble efforts to do so, made as a compulsory response to the Spirit's leading, are simply obedience to the commands and do nothing to earn my salvation.

Remember, orthodoxy yields orthopraxy. In other words, right belief gives rise to right actions. It is not the other way around and too often we want to do something without believing the right thing first.

Cheers

witness said...

~Frank

We love Him (as evidenced by our Gospel adorning good works) because He first loved us (not because someone handed us a ‘to do’ list).

The ‘to do’ list is much easier, points at me and my ability, and… well… doesn’t require me to Love God or His people (and all that is packed into that).

For some, I imagine, legalism is an appealing alternative to just plain loving God and something all of us must be on guard against. As you pointed out to me somewhere else, joy should be evident in our works. I think… maybe… that it is what adds the sparkle to the adornment.

Thanks for allowing God to use you to open my eyes and heart to that.

Red and Black Redneck said...

Jugulum:

Those are great questions! In context, those interviewees were pointing to something within themselves or something they had done as the PRIMARY evidence of their belief rather than pointing to the historic fact of the resurrection and all it entails. A Mormon can do exactly the same thing. If what I point to as the PRIMARY evidence of my faith can be also pointed to as the evidence of a Mormon's faith, then the evidence doesn't support the verdict. That, I believe, is all the WHI is trying to get across.

Right actions MAY be the result of right belief but it does not follow that they necessarily ARE the result of right belief. For this reason, it is better to point to the RIGHT reason for one's RIGHT belief which yields RIGHT actions.

Whew! I need lunch and a nap now.

Craig and Heather said...

This is another post that hits at the heart of where I live.

While unfamiliar with White Horse Inn, I did recently have a rather disturbing encounter with the book of James. Reading that faith without works is dead really shook me up and I panicked while wondering what I needed to be doing to prove that I was really regenerated.

I guess that's the wrong reaction because I was brought back around to being unable to do anything to save myself and I had to beg God to show me what to do.

The comment discussion is well over my head but it makde me think of:

Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward those on the outside, redeeming the time.

Heather

Craig and Heather said...

I meant "made me think".

Jugulum said...

R&B Redneck,

"In context, those interviewees were pointing to something within themselves or something they had done as the PRIMARY evidence of their belief rather than pointing to the historic fact of the resurrection and all it entails."

So, with that in mind, set aside for the moment what the WHI people did or did not say.

Would you say we shouldn't dismiss what we do as at all indicative of what we believe?

If not, don't you think it's good to state the balance? To state what role fruit-as-evidence does play, not just what it doesn't?

Craig and Heather said...

I'm sorry to butt into the intellectual discussion but I thought of something else and hope it isn't too far off topic...

This:
"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'
And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' Matthew7:21-23


...has nearly given me ulcers as I have tried to figure out what Jesus means here. Obviously, works don't save, even if they are done "in Jesus' name". But then Jesus tells of the sheep and the goats--and it's the ones who did "good deeds" to "even the least of [His] brethren" who are called to stay.

Is the difference simply a matter of Christ as foundation?

I apologize if this comment is not relevant. I'm not deliberately trying to break the rules.

Heather

Mark B. Hanson said...

Jesus at least thought that the testimony of our actions was important: "By this will all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)

So can others know, and not we ourselves?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Daryl:

Which is why we all need to do that examination everyday, because we all fail to do the things that we must do, if we are to call ourselves Christians.

Would you expand a little on what you meant here? It seems to conclude that we "fail" this examination "everyday" (because we all fail to do the things that we must do). Thus, my question would be, how then are to be sure we are "in the faith"?

Maybe that's not what you meant, so I'm asking.

Pooka said...

A preacher I heard a couple of weeks ago identically said the orthodoxy yields orthopraxy and said this about matchin James up with Romans, essentially: If you're worried about how well you're doing in James' orthopraxy, you're probably on the right track.

Chad V. said...

Frank
I see what you mean now, there are subtleties to their position I had not noticed. Thanks for the insight.

Craig and Heather said...

So can others know, and not we ourselves?

I sure hope it's that simple. I admit that I often overthink things.

It sure seems as though there will be some who are shocked to discover they are not truly saved.

At any rate, I'm well acquainted with the "fear and trembling" aspect of working out my salvation.

Pooka,
Was the preacher saying that James had a wrong understanding or that he was correcting a wrong belief?

H

Chad V. said...

Now my question to them would be, if you don't do because you believe then what is the basis for your doing?
Frank
Let me see if I have this right now.
This I have always believed is palinly taught in the scriptures. Godly actions come from evangelical obedience to God's commands. If our actions do not spring from what we believe then they are not of faith and whatever is not of faith is sin.(Rom 14:23)

So the practical outworking of Horton's position leaves him with actions which are no better than the plowing of the wicked. Wouldn't that be the the result of his system?

Pooka said...

Heather,

Neither. He was bridging the gap between the faith and the works. Refuting arguments that Romans and James were opposed to each other.

Faith makes works makes morefaith makes moreworks. That's how I see it, personally, and I think my highly uneducated and prone-to-flawed thinking jives with what he was saying. Maybe that's too simplistic for all this large-brained stuff I'm seeing on the site.

Frank Turk said...

R&B Redneck:

| In a world of Rick Warren, Brian
| McLaren, Rob Bell, etc. is such a
| podcast necessary? Yes, the Cretans
| were just like us but the church is not
| just like Paul. Therefore, I think the
| WHI strives to provide the other side of
| the coin and therefore, the balance
| that I at any rate, need to hear.

I wonder: is the cure for Marian idolatry Oneness pentecostalism -- or is it Trinitarian othrodoxy which is balanced and nuanced?

Because the answer there is the answer here. If the mad dash back to classical liberalism -- in all its forms, from left to center-right -- is the problem, is the solution fundmentalist rigidity(even if the brand of fundamentalism is "confessional reformed")?

I think the Gospel calls for a lot of "both/and" tensions, and many of those are in the necessary consequences of the Gospel.

I have another test case for what the WHI guys are saying here which I was going to make another post entirely of, but I'll pout it here for the sake of this discussion: is it works theology, then, to say that the gathering together of God's people for word and sacrament is necessary consequence of the Gospel?

If you say, "no, it is not," then I reply, "but what if you miss once in a while? If it's a necessary consequence, and you don't do it, aren't you just a hypocrite?"

The right-minded reply is, of course, "only if the goal is adhering to a list of requirements. If the goal is seeing and savoring Jesus Christ, which is an orientation and not a law, then when I see him and savor Him by doing the things which say I love him, it is my sinfulness to being overturned; otherwise, my sinfulness just is what it is."

This approach to the problem at hand is pretty much foreign to the WHI guys -- because they are so concerned that doing=law that they miss that often doing=love.

Which, by the way, is why we should serve God: we love him.

Craig and Heather said...

Thanks, Pooka.

I wasn't trying to argue. Just attempting to clarify your statement.
Your explanation makes sense to this uneducated pea-brain :o)

After re-reading the top of the original post, I think my concern was already answered before I asked.

It's the "grace of God" that brings salvation and trains us into a better likeness of Christ.

Those who have been redeemed will respond in obedience (or be disciplined). Those who are not truly regenerate can effectively fool themselves with a flurry of religious activity.

I guess my comments caused unnecessary disruption of the flow of conversation.

H

Frank Turk said...

Chad --

You can see my previous response to R&B, but I'd be careful about going as far as you just did toward Horton & Co.

I think he has a right-minded objection to the stuff he's on about. Those interview results are really somewhat breath-taking in that these are the people manning the Christian media. Dude -- most of them need to have a glass of water or something until they know what the Gospel is, and why we believe it.

HOWEVER, and my brother in Christ DJP has been talking about in his original missives lately, seeking only one formula for the Gospel is a dead end. The Gospel has a multi-faceted beauty, and is decalred in multifaceted ways in the NT. It is also declared differently to believers (who have received) than it is to unbelievers (who can or might receive). It is to someone and for someone, which in spite of the calls by WHI to maintain the objectivity of the Gospel provides a subjective basis for the individual to say "I am saved" or "I am not saved" -- a thing they reject that because of their (Ken Jones excluded) intransigence about infant baptism.

So some of the softer formulas for declaring the Gospel -- they're not perfect. That doesn't make them useless: it makes them imperfect. The work of the Holy Spirit is perfect, and if a man turns to Christ for his slavation, it is the work of the Holy Spprit which starts and finishes such a thing. So the imperfections of the messenger do not stop God from doing his work, thanks be to God!

Let's be careful not to toss WHI into the outer darkness here because they think the right apologetic method to refute liberalization is hyper-reformational precision. The answer to error -- all errors -- is the Gospel and not something else.

Daryl said...

Johnny D.,

Great question.

I think the process would go something like this.

Have I lived as I ought?

No, I haven't.

Have I repented?

No I haven't.

The Bible says, examine yourself to see if you are in the faith.

Do I believe the Bible?

Yes I do.

Answer A. I must repent. (I am a believer.)

Anwer B. Cool, I'm in. (It's not looking good.)

I think the point, Johnny, is that we need to look not only at our belief, but as Heather mentioned that James said, we must look at our life. On what basis do I claim to have faith? James says it's by my works that I know, and Jesus said that without the works, there is no salvation.
Of course neither puts those works ahead of faith, nor do they say that a non-believer can do any work that Jesus might be interested in.

Which is why the balance, that Frank is talking about, is so important. Right belief brings right works. So...examine yourself to see if the gospel is affecting you.
It seems to me taht examining my belief only, leads to that never-ending downward spiral into "But do I believe really really in my heart of hearts, enough?".

And that's just trouble.

Stuart Wood said...

It is very hard for me to get my mind around this as Satan’s craftiness goes way beyond my natural ability to comprehend, but I see something very big here. Yesterday DJP said, “It may come as a surprise that my least-favorite, version is "Believe that Jesus died for your sins." Why? Because I am really uncomfortable with making salvation the result of singling out any one fact, one statement, and making ascription to that statement the vehicle of salvation. It isn't the characteristic way of Scripture. You see more believe-Him than believe-that… What we as evangelists want to do is get our hearers to Christ. Not to one fact about Him or His work; not even to a select cluster of facts about Him, but to Him, Himself… It starts with believing Jesus, with accepting Him as true, and His word as binding and true. We enroll in His school; and in that school, true students will continue and grow (John 8:31-32).” Then, Frank comments on Paul’s Mars Hill sermon, “It looks an awful lot like, 'believe in Him who created you so that you can be saved.”

What I hear in both of these statements (and from many others on this Blog) is that if you repent of your sins and believe in Jesus (as a Person) then you prove yourself to be one of God’s elect and are thereby saved by His atoning work (which supposedly was only wrought in behalf of the elect). That is quite different from what I understand to be correct, and is, in reality, putting the cart before the horse. The way I look at it is that the Bible objectively proclaims the specific saving truth that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, suffered and died for our sins. This is the Gospel. It is an objective fact that is stated by a God who cannot lie. I believe it and rejoice in it simply because it is true, and it meets my greatest need as a poor lost and condemned sinner. As the Jews simply looked to the brazen serpent and were healed of their snake bites, so I simply look to Christ suffering and dying on the cross and am thereby healed of my sins. It is by this Gospel truth alone that I am saved. This Gospel is effective. It is the power of God unto salvation. If I believed every other truth in the Bible but did not believe this specific Gospel truth, I would be lost. In fact, for me not to believe the Gospel would be to make God a liar, for this is the testimony that He Himself has made concerning His Son. So for me the question is not “Do I believe?”, but rather “What do I believe?”

The error I perceive with Dan and Frank is that they are making a separation between the Person of Christ and His objective Word, and seem to defer to His Person. Thus, for them, if you put your trust in Jesus (as a Person) then He will give you all of His benefits. This, to me, is actually another form of works righteousness, because it puts the ultimate focus upon you rather than upon the truth of God’s Word. The point that is missed here is that Christ is inseparable from His Word. He Himself has said that He is the Word, He is the Truth. To believe in His Word (what He says He did for us) is to believe in Him. Paul writes, "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation..." (Eph. 1:12-13). Again, "Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel..." (Col. 1:4-6).

My word verification "astru", as in you whould regard this "as true".

Daryl said...

Frank,

I wonder how much of the confusion comes from the old lie that as a believer we still need to make sure that we do things in God's strength and not in our own strength, as though anyone can tell if they cut the neighbour's lawn in one strength and not the other.

Daryl said...

"Thus, for them, if you put your trust in Jesus (as a Person) then He will give you all of His benefits. This, to me, is actually another form of works righteousness, because it puts the ultimate focus upon you rather than upon the truth of God’s Word."

In whom do you put your trust Stuart?

If I don't trust in Jesus (the Person or God or the Crucified One, is irrelevant, Jesus is all of those things in the same way), I'm not saved. If I do, I am, because I can't trust anyone apart from what I know they have done or can do.

witness said...

~Stuart you almost make it sound like if an exact phrase is spoken to someone... certain specific words, then they will be saved.

Or maybe they cannot be saved unless some specific language is used... Is that what you are saying?

Daryl said...

Don't go there Witness. It won't end.

Stuart Wood said...

Daryl,

In trusting the objective Word of the Gospel for my salvation, I am trusting in Christ for my salvation. He and the Word are inseparable. Read those last two verses on my last post very carefully. You will see it.

Witness,

No, you don't have to use the exact words every time you witness, but you are not in truth proclaiming the Gospel if you do not communicate (in whatever words you want) the truth of how Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins. Last week I gave Dan 23 clear verses in Acts that communicate the same Gospel truth as 1 Cor. 15:3, but often with different words. To cite a few:

2:38, 39 - Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

10:43 - To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

13:26 - Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

13:38 - Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

All of these verses offer the forgiveness of sins indiscriminantly based upon the atoning work of Christ at the cross. That is the point.

DJP said...

I gave Dan 23 clear verses in Acts

It was a powerful (and highly ironic) refutation of Stuart's position. Do read that meta.

Stefan said...

Frank:

You are so totally in my headspace with this post—totally where my thinking is at right now! I've been all over the Third Use of the Law for the last week, and it has completely transformed my understanding of how we are to walk as believers in Christ.

I wrote just this very morning in a comment on another blog (before I read this post): "our beliefs should inform our actions, and it is our actions that testify to our beliefs."

Ironically, it was an archived post at iMonk that got me thinking on all this, when he responded to another WHI episode much as you have, Frank—the WHI guys having described the Sermon on the Mount as just one more thing to drive us in despair to the Gospel, and not in any way normative for Christian life.

witness said...

~Stuart

I went back and found the meta you and Dan are talking about and in light of what you say I cannot help but think of Jesus Himself meeting Saul on the Damascus Road and saving him not having communicated what you propound must be said.

Maybe He did it wrong?

mike said...

Frank said,
I don't think Prof. Horton is saying, "let us sin, therefore grace may abound." What he is saying, over and over, I think, is that the only testimony which matters is the testimony of Scripture -- God's word to us.
I do not know him or his work well enough to speak to that, I have read much of his “Christless Christianity” and found it challenging.
However, I believe that Paul (and Christ before him) was very clear that when the gospel has in fact had the intended effect (positive, not judgment and damnation) that the person will be changed. So in a very true way, the gospel testimony that matters is both God’s word to us, and God’s work in us.

Frank Turk said...

Stuart says:

The way I look at it is that the Bible objectively proclaims the specific saving truth that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, suffered and died for our sins. This is the Gospel. It is an objective fact that is stated by a God who cannot lie.

Therefore, all men are saved, yes?

No, of course not: because Stuart may be obstinent but he is not a heretic.

May God grant him the wisdom and the insight to see his error in condemning others who are his spiritual friends before he does what others before him have done -- namely, to hang on to his error and abandon Christ for it.

Whether what you need is "repentance" or merely "receiving correction", Stuart, may God grant it to you.

Frank Turk said...

Stefan --

That person hates it when we agree. It points out that one of us is wrong often all the more glaringly.

Red and Black Redneck said...

Look at the original text Frank cited to begin his post. It is the grace of God that brings salvation, it is the Grace of God that trains us to renounce that which is unrighteous and it is the grace of God which causes us to do that which is righteous in God's eyes. It is the Grace of God only. Nothing that is within me.

Yet, one can be an unswerving and unregenerate pagan and live a upright and moral life. And one can profess to be a Christian and do what appear to be righteous acts yet be, in fact, unsaved. That is a sobering truth and I think it is what Jesus is driving toward in Matthew 7:21-23. R.C. Sproul puts it like this:

"Everyone who has faith is called to profess faith, but not everybody who professes faith has faith. We are not saved by a profession of faith. A lot of people, it seems to me, in the evangelical world, believe that if they have walked the walk, raised the hand, signed the card-that is, made some kind of methodological profession of faith-that they're saved."

In short, God does the saving and God does the "doing" afterwards.

It is possible to do what appears to be the righteous thing but do it based on the wrong assumption.

To expand on the analogy of one's wife loving him. One believes she does and therefore he loves her back and acts accordingly, i.e., he acts righteously. However, what if she doesn't love him? What if he has misunderstood his wife's affections? Well, he has lived righteously but he has done so based on a lie. And the fact of that lie doesn't change because his intent is honorable, yet mistaken.

Now apply that analogy to the circumstances that Horton and the WHI were discussing in the broadcast at issue. In the terms of sharing the gospel, do you go to the historic facts of the gospel or do you point to what you have done in your life in response to the gospel (your testimony)? Many of the respondents were pointing to what had happened in their lives as the evidence of the truth of the gospel. The WHI's point there is that one could go to a Mormon booksellers convention and ask the same thing and get the same responses. Are the Mormons saved? Not according to orthodox Christian understanding of the gospel. Are the attendees at the Christian booksellers saved? Who knows because they didn't give an accurate accounting of what they actually believed. They could act rightly but believe wrongly. If that is the case, they believe a lie and their souls are in peril.

Stuart Wood hits the nail on the head when he refers to the Jews looking to the snake to be healed and he looks to the risen Christ to be saved. On judgment day, I will be pointing to Christ's righteousness for my salvation, not to anything whatsoever that I have ever done. I will rely on the blood of Christ just as the Jews relied on the blood of the passover lamb to keep the angel of death from their door. My testimony will not save me nor does it provide a basis for the salvation of anyone else. Even the apostle Paul does not use the testimony of his dramatic conversion as the basis for his witnessing. He preaches Christ and Him crucified, not Paul knocked off a horse and him made into a better person.

Finally, Frank your "test case" is a straw man. No, it is not works theology to say that attendance at the gathering of the church is a necessary consequence of the Gospel. And if I don't do it, I am a hypocrite. Which I currently AM and I always will be until I am fully sanctified. There is the great "both/and" tension. I am justified before God because of Christ's atoning work yet, I am still a sinner. I should see fruit and progressive sanctification in my life. And others should too. But that is not the basis of my faith. That confusion is what the WHI addresses.

Stuart Wood said...

Frank,

I won't comment here on this thread anymore today unless asked. Of the Big 3, you are clearly my favorite - the most thoughtful, honest, and gracious. I know you think I am off, and I have to let that be. I can only hope that God will give you light as to why I regard this as so important and am therby so "obstinent" (I prefer the word "persistent").

Two last verses for Witness regarding Paul receiving the Gospel Word:

"And he (Ananias) said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:14-16).

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:1-3).

witness said...

~Stuart

You said this in a previous meta...

The true Gospel contains the word "OUR", how that "Christ died for OUR sins", both "yours" and "mine". The Gospel is proclaimed when I can declare to another human being (whom I may or may not know) that Christ died for his sins personally. Anything short of this is not the Gospel.

By your own definition of what the Gospel is then Jesus Christ did not proclaim the True Gospel to Paul.

Now, I am no scholar, but I can't help but notice that all the Scripture you have posted thus far argues against your definition of what the True Gospel is.

Stan McCullars said...

Stuart Wood,
Your latest two verses do nothing to help your argument or hurt Dan's, Frank's, mine and others.

In the Acts 22:14-16 passage, Ananias has insider information regarding the election of Paul.

But the Lord said to him (Ananias), “Go, for he (Paul) is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” (Acts 9:15-16)

In the 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 passage, Paul is writing to brothers (believers) who have received and are being saved by the gospel which he had received from a man that knew he was elect.

Stuart Wood said...

Witness (I said, "unless asked", Frank):

As Luther said, "You are looking at this the way a cow looks at the side of a barn". It isn't the exact words, but the exact concept (truth) that I am talking about (expressed in many different words in the Scripture). I think you just need to give those verses a bit more thought and reflection.

Frank Turk said...

| Look at the original text Frank cited
| to begin his post. It is the grace of
| God that brings salvation, it is the
| Grace of God that trains us to
| renounce that which is unrighteous
| and it is the grace of God which
| causes us to do that which is
| righteous in God's eyes. It is the
| Grace of God only. Nothing that is
| within me.

Expect that you (singular) are among the you (plural) who are “zealous for good works”.

This is the classic Calvinist disconnect: my will is useful enough to condemn me as a sinner for being willing to sin, but somehow when the text says after being born again I should be thereafter willing to not sin but do the things pleasing to God, I don’t have a will.

You will doesn’t save you, but it is saved, and frankly it is reborn. It has repented. It’s not perfect, but it is purified; you would think that something would come out of a purified will the way things come out of the unpurified will.

I would think, anyway. You might not think this.

| Yet, one can be an unswerving and
| unregenerate pagan and live a
| upright and moral life.

Pheh. I will say it unequivocally: that’s changing from a highly-specialized systematic view of the saved to a superficial and unspecific view of the unsaved. It’s utterly a change of categories. If a rank atheist and hater of God gives all him money to the poor and ends his life ministering to lepers, his life is still a sinful wreck because all his actions came from a dead and God-hating heart.

And at the same time, the drug-addled prostitute who comes to Christ and cannot win the fight against addiction and therefore falls over and over again into the lifestyle of money-for-sex can see in his war against those sins – even if not one victory is won in this life.

Find a way to be consistent when you go this route, and you might find a way to convince me. I doubt it, but I offer you the opportunity.

| And one can
| profess to be a Christian and do what
| appear to be righteous acts yet be, in
| fact, unsaved. That is a sobering
| truth and I think it is what Jesus is
| driving toward in Matthew 7:21-23.

I’d run that last one by the guys at WHI. If that person is baptized, and submits to church in word, sacrament, and discipline, they would tell you, I have no doubt, that this person is should not for one moment doubt their salvation.

I’d love to be wrong about that, and I will publicly retract it if you can find a way to get them to say otherwise. But I suspect you’d be surprised by how truly-reformed they are.

| R.C. Sproul puts it like this:
|
| "Everyone who has faith is called to
| profess faith, but not everybody who
| professes faith has faith. We are not
| saved by a profession of faith. A lot of
| people, it seems to me, in the
| evangelical world, believe that if they
| have walked the walk, raised the
| hand, signed the card-that is, made
| some kind of methodological
| profession of faith-that they're
| saved."

Aha. Ask R.C. Sproul is he believes that about infants who have been baptized – or anyone who has been baptized. You have to see that this particular statement by him is about the non-presbyterian approach to how one enters into the church and can profess salvation by Christ alone.

Ask these guys how one who is suffering from doubt in their salvation can rest assured that Christ’s work is for them. If they do not tell you, “by the sacrament of baptism and the ministry of the word,” I will eat my hat.

| In short, God does the saving and
| God does the "doing" afterwards.

Really? So God, for example, does the preaching on Sunday Morning – not your faithful pastor? God does the bread-winning for your family – you can stop going to work now and meditate on the world day and night?

That’s a unique way of seeing what the Scripture tells us – one I am certain even the WHI guys would repudiate.

[more]

Frank Turk said...

[cont]


| It is possible to do what appears to be
| the righteous thing but do it based on
| the wrong assumption.

Yes. That does not make what the Scripture tells us to do wrong.

| To expand on the analogy of one's
| wife loving him. One believes she
| does and therefore he loves her back
| and acts accordingly, i.e., he acts
| righteously. However, what if she
| doesn't love him? What if he has
| misunderstood his wife's affections?
| Well, he has lived righteously but he
| has done so based on a lie. And the
| fact of that lie doesn't change
| because his intent is honorable, yet
| mistaken.

I love that – you are a hyper-calvinist then, eh? That somehow someone who actually does love God will be rebuked by God on the last day because God doesn’t love him?

I reject the premise. The set of people who do, in fact, love God but whom God, in fact, does not love salvifically is a set of zero people in the history of all time. The WHI guys would reject that idea, too.

| Now apply that analogy to the
| circumstances that Horton and the
| WHI were discussing in the
| broadcast at issue.

Let me say this clearly and frankly: you can’t. Rod Rosenblatt, in this very episode, said that it is possible that the Gospel is true, and nobody believes it. Now: what does he mean by that – that no one is saved?

Dude: he’s a Lutheran. There is no way in any sane method of reasoning that would propose that a real, honest-to-Worms orthrodox Lutheran like Dr. Rosenblatt would propose than no one is saved. It’s inconveivable that Christ died for no one.

So what he must mean is this: that nobody grasps what the Gospel means, or what God is doing and has done. Again: I am open to correction here if Dr. RR has one to offer, but the notion you are proposing is simply outside the scope of Lutheran systematic.

| In the terms of
| sharing the gospel, do you go to the
| historic facts of the gospel or do you
| point to what you have done in your
| life in response to the gospel (your
| testimony)? Many of the respondents
| were pointing to what had happened
| in their lives as the evidence of the
| truth of the gospel. The WHI's point
| there is that one could go to a
| Mormon booksellers convention and
| ask the same thing and get the same
| responses. Are the Mormons saved?
| Not according to orthodox Christian
| understanding of the gospel. Are the
| attendees at the Christian
| booksellers saved? Who knows
| because they didn't give an accurate
| accounting of what they actually
| believed. They could act rightly but
| believe wrongly. If that is the case,
| they believe a lie and their souls are
| in peril.

The problem with making what they said into what you are saying here is what they actually said. Prof. Horton made a couple of extended riffs into the subject of how uninteresting the life of the Christian is – making no references or qualifications regarding, for example, this passage in Titus.

In their view, no human activity is worth considering when the Gospel is declared – it just doesn’t enter into it. To debunk that view, go out drinking one night and try to preach the Gospel to someone after you’re 8 or 9 beers in. What you have done and are doing preaches harder against what you think you are saying.

The problem is not that I am saying it is either testimony or doctrine; the problem is that this is what they have plainly said. I say it is not either/or but both.

[more]

Frank Turk said...

[cont]

| Stuart Wood hits the nail on the head
| when he refers to the Jews looking to
| the snake to be healed and he looks
| to the risen Christ to be saved. On
| judgment day, I will be pointing to
| Christ's righteousness for my
| salvation, not to anything whatsoever
| that I have ever done.

Um, yup? The question you are pointing to asked by the guys at WHI is not “what will save me on the last day?” It is “will you share the Gospel either by doctrine or by testimony?”

It’s not either-or. In fact, it cannot be unless you are a Gnostic, which they rail on against all the time. If Christ is real, and he has saved anyone, and one of those is me, I should receive that somehow in an epistemologically-real way, not as if my body somehow makes my gratitude into something dirty.

You have to keep clear what you think you’re arguing in favor of. The question is not “what will save me in the end” but “am I saved right now, and if so, so what?”

| I will rely on
| the blood of Christ just as the Jews
| relied on the blood of the passover
| lamb to keep the angel of death from
| their door. My testimony will not
| save me nor does it provide a basis
| for the salvation of anyone else. Even
| the apostle Paul does not use the
| testimony of his dramatic conversion
| as the basis for his witnessing. He
| preaches Christ and Him crucified,
| not Paul knocked off a horse and him
| made into a better person.

Amen to that – except that even Paul confesses to Timothy that God saved him, the chief of sinners, so that the real glory of Christ could be disclosed in saving that which was unsavable. Paul has a testimony – but it is always framed, “Christ did, therefore I am and will.”

| Finally, Frank your "test case" is a
| straw man.

Let’s see if that’s the case.

| No, it is not works
| theology to say that attendance at the
| gathering of the church is a necessary
| consequence of the Gospel. And if I
| don't do it, I am a hypocrite. Which I
| currently AM and I always will be
| until I am fully sanctified. There is
| the great "both/and" tension. I am
| justified before God because of
| Christ's atoning work yet, I am still a
| sinner. I should see fruit and
| progressive sanctification in my life.
| And others should too. But that is not
| the basis of my faith. That confusion
| is what the WHI addresses.

Admitting you’re a hypocrite doesn’t overturn the charge of being a hypocrite, nor does it make my example a straw man. The assembly of believers is a necessary consequence of the Gospel. How does therefore doing it not bring the charge of “works righteousness”?

Is there is a means to demonstrate that, then there is a means to demonstrate that being zealous for good works is also not works righteousness. If there is not a means for doing that, Presbyterian theology is now in serious trouble.

-30-

witness said...

~Stuart

You said: "The true Gospel contains the word 'OUR', how that 'Christ died for OUR sins', both 'yours' and 'mine'."

That seems pretty cut and dried. Do you no retract that the "True Gospel" must contain the word "OUR"?

witness said...

Sorry to all for sidetracking the meta.

Frank Turk said...

Eh. This is more exciting.

Someone on the internet is WRONG!

ht: BHT

Tom Chantry said...

If there is not a means for doing that, Presbyterian theology is now in serious trouble.

Ah - oops - ah - with you until there, but lets not confuse this discussion with actual Presbyterian theology.

Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God's approbation of obedience,and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man's doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.

Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.

(Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XIX, Paragraphs vi and vii

Tom Chantry said...

In case my point is unclear, I agree with Frank that to deny that the gospel must have significant implications in the life of the redeemed is unbiblical. It's just that it's also un-Presbyterian.

Daryl said...

While it is true that we need to look to the historically objective truth of Christ and his work for assurance of salvation. It certainly can't be the ONLY thing we look to.

Any unbeliever can look at that truth, it's still true, Christ still did his work, but it doesn't save him without repentance.

I recall Frank saying something like this in his debate with Mr. Wood. We read what the Bible says about repentance, we do that and we are saved.

That's how we know it applies to us and not just to people generally.

Stuart Wood said...

"We read what the Bible says about repentance, we do that and we are saved.

That's how we know it applies to us and not just to people generally." - Daryl

These two statements perfectly sum up my problem with Dan and Frank's theology of salvation.

DJP said...

....which, as you've demonstrated, is also the problem you have with the Bible's own presentation of the Gospel.

Frank Turk said...

Tom:

That was actually my point -- some folks have wheeled off the confessional map here for the sake of their love of the confessions, and find themsevles denying what they must believe.

Thanks for the sum-up.

Hadassah said...

All I normally say on this blog is hurrah, hurrah, you nailed it.

But Frank, why do you insist on picking on Presbyterians?

And goodness, if you feel the need to rebuke and correct someone out there in public ministry by name, don't you have some better candidates than the WHI?

I listen to the WHI somewhat regularly, and I've never gotten the impression that they think obedience, law, works, etc, etc are meaningless. It seems to me like they are the lone voice crying out in the wilderness that it isn't about what YOU DO. It's about what God HAS DONE FOR YOU.

Sorta like an oasis in the desert.

An oasis that I need to drink from, deeply.

Quit messing with the thirst-quenching beverage, man.

I'd be inclined to close my comment with something happy and loving, but that smacking at the Presbyterians business has put me out of sorts.

Tom Chantry said...

Oh. Sorry. I see it now.

I read "...Presbyterian theology is in serious trouble..." as "we're about to prove that Presbyterianism is unbiblical," whereas you meant, "keep going that way and you will topple what has always been Presbyterianism."

Frank Turk said...

Hadassah:

The post was actually about Titus 2:13-15. It turns out that the example I used is a podcast I have been listening to for almost 8 weeks trying to see if I could get over my objections to it.

They came together today.

As for handing the right-minded kerfluffle to our brothers and sisters in Presbyterian churches, let me suggest something to you: the trajectory of the WHI right now is wrong-minded presbyterianism. It is anti-cooperative to non-presbyterians. There are episodes where I cannot fathom how Ken Jones stays seated in the booth.

When one treks down the confessional byways to the places that one is off the pavement, off the beaten path, and is exploring a kind of brush of exclusivism which, frankly, rules out many people who are simply non-systematic and non-confessional because they are merely murky on some finer points of theology -- or worse, as in this episode where the WHI essentially says that if one doesn't lead with an ecumenical creed but instead leads with love in order to speak to the credal truths one is completely forgetting the Gospel or may have never known it -- then one deserves to have some mosquito pricks on his exposed presbyterianism.

As some people say when you're in trouble, some of my best friends are presbyterians. Consider this my contribution to the open dialog between presbies and babdisses.

Red and Black Redneck said...

I was going to leave it alone but I find I cannot:

Frank wrote:

"When one treks down the confessional byways to the places that one is off the pavement, off the beaten path, and is exploring a kind of brush of exclusivism which, frankly, rules out many people who are simply non-systematic and non-confessional because they are merely murky on some finer points of theology -- or worse, as in this episode where the WHI essentially says that if one doesn't lead with an ecumenical creed but instead leads with love in order to speak to the credal truths one is completely forgetting the Gospel or may have never known it -- then one deserves to have some mosquito pricks on his exposed presbyterianism."

Frank, at no time does the WHI ever say what you wrote. They simply say that one must express the good news of Christ's atoning work which is an objective truth attested to in the scriptures rather than pointing to what has subjectively happened in one's own life as the proof upon which to base saving faith.

Perhaps you ought to post a link here to oneplace.com where your readers can download as many of the WHI episodes as they wish and determine for themselves if the WHI adheres to that which you attribute to them.

Since you apparently place such authority on personal testimony, here is mine on this issue: I support the WHI and have for some time. I have shared meals with Mike Horton and Ken Jones and have become close friends with some of their staff members. It is my personal testimony that they do not hold to that which you attribute to them. Therefore, you must believe me.

Of course, I am being hyperbolic here. But it illustrates the fallacy that the WHI is trying combat, namely that giving one's personal testimony is the biblical method of sharing the gospel.

Chad V. said...

Frank

My intent was not to toss WHI into the outer darkness, just to show the breakdown in a system that does not base our deeds upon our faith.

Zaphon said...

I hope this isn't off topic but speaking of 'active and passive righteousness", how does that theory fit in with Romans 5.18 ..." so ONE ACT of righteousness leads to justification & life for all men"?

How is righteousness apart from the Law if Jesus had to keep the Law for my sake in order to redeem me?

Seems to me that the blood of Jesus in his substitutionary death cleanses me from sin and justifies me.

Daryl said...

Zaphon,

That's true, but it's his actively righteous life that is imputed to the believer.

It's not enough to be forgiven, we must be righteous. Jesus lived the life we should have so that it could be creditted to us.

Daryl said...

"How is righteousness apart from the Law if Jesus had to keep the Law for my sake in order to redeem me?"

It's OUR righteousness that comes apart from the law.

If Jesus hadn't kept the law, he wouldn't've been perfect and would've had to die for his own sins.

The law was fulfilled, not made null and void.

Jugulum said...

R&B Redneck,

I'm still wondering about your answer to this question, setting aside what the White Horse Inn did or did not say.

Would you say we shouldn't dismiss what we do as at all indicative of what we believe?

If not, don't you think it's good to state the balance? To state what role fruit-as-evidence does play, not just what it doesn't?

Red and Black Redneck said...

Jugulum: Sorry, but I must answer your questions with questions.

What is the context you are thinking of?

What balance?

And fruit-as-evidence of what?

Jugulum said...

The context is, "Responding to people who are pointing to something within themselves or something they had done as the PRIMARY evidence of their belief rather than pointing to the historic fact of the resurrection and all it entails." To use your words.


I said,
"If not, don't you think it's good to state the balance? To state what role fruit-as-evidence does play, not just what it doesn't?"

You said,
"What balance?

And fruit-as-evidence of what?
"

Balance was referring to the next sentence. The balance of what role fruit-as-evidence does play. As for "evidence of what", fill that in yourself. That's part of what I'm asking you. Fruit as evidence of whatever the Bible does say it's evidence of, playing whatever role the Bible gives it.

If you think fruit is never supposed to play any role as evidence of anything, then say that.

David said...

I'm glad one of your posts got as many comments as Dan's, Frank. It was a good one.

My only comment is that the Gospel declares that Jesus Christ is Lord. His being Lord means that what He says, goes. What He says involves my behavior, according to what He said in His word (and Paul agreed to in this passage) and in other passages, both Paul and Jesus agree that it bears fruit.

So if that doesn't agree with what I think my theology says, something needs rethinking, clarifying, or restating.

Frank Turk said...

I usually let the other guy have the last word in the meta, but I'm going to be working all week with no time to come back and close the meta, so we'll all have to survive with me having the last word this once.

[QUOTE R&B]
Frank, at no time does the WHI ever say what you wrote. They simply say that one must express the good news of Christ's atoning work which is an objective truth attested to in the scriptures rather than pointing to what has subjectively happened in one's own life as the proof upon which to base saving faith.
[/QUOTE]

Well, if after a 3-page rebuttal that's the part you want to pick apart -- the metaphor summing up -- then I'm pretty sure that you're not actually reading what I wrote.

You're right: they didn't use this metaphor: I did.

[QUOTE]
Perhaps you ought to post a link here to oneplace.com where your readers can download as many of the WHI episodes as they wish and determine for themselves if the WHI adheres to that which you attribute to them.
[/QUOTE]

I did in fact cite the episode I'm talking about in the body of this post. Thanks again for reading what I wrote.

[QUOTE]
Since you apparently place such authority on personal testimony, ...
[/QUOTE]

Aha. Again, reading what I actually wrote would help you get a handle on what to criticize me for.

[QUOTE]
... here is mine on this issue: I support the WHI and have for some time. I have shared meals with Mike Horton and Ken Jones and have become close friends with some of their staff members. It is my personal testimony that they do not hold to that which you attribute to them. Therefore, you must believe me.
[/QUOTE]

You are again changing your categories, R&B. The question is not whether your testimony is irrefutable. The question is whether Scripture says whether what we do in some way reflects on what we believe. I have covered this extensively in my responses to you, but to not avail, apparently.

[QUOTE]
Of course, I am being hyperbolic here. But it illustrates the fallacy that the WHI is trying combat, namely that giving one's personal testimony is the biblical method of sharing the gospel.
[/QUOTE]

It only speaks to the one of the kinds of apologetics their show encourages.

Thanks everyone for a busy day.