03 June 2010

Upcoming book notice: Andy Naselli's Let Go and Let God?

by Dan Phillips

One of the unexpected blessings my dear wife and I enjoyed at T4G 2008 was the repeated experience of total strangers walking up, introducing themselves, and saying they read my writing. One of those delightful surprises was Andy Naselli, who though he looked to be about 12 years old was pursuing a second doctorate, working with D. A. Carson.

In the months that followed, I took to regularly reading Andy's blog, and occasionally commenting there or corresponding with the good doctor. In particular — and I forget what moved me to reach out to Andy on this — I wrote him about some areas I was tussling with in writing my book. He generously responded by pointing me to information, and allowing me to read his first doctoral dissertation on the Keswick Movement. It was titled "Keswick Theology: a Historical and Theological Survey and Analysis of the Doctrine of Sanctification in the Early Keswick Movement, 1875-1920." The dissertation was presented as part of Andy's PhD work at Bob Jones University in 2006, and was at the same time an historical, theological, and Biblical examination of the movement from 1875-1920, and of its doctrine.

For you who don't know, Keswick conferences in England were the main spawning grounds for popularization of the victorious Christian living doctrine, the two-tier thought that one can enter into triumphant Christian living through a crisis experience, and a yielded frame of heart. It is classic double-decker or two-tier Christianity, as I've called it. Names associated with the movement include Andrew Murray, Hannah Whitall Smith, H. C. G. Moule, F. B. Meyer, Frances Ridley Havergal, and many others.

The teaching had an impact on movements as diverse as dispensationalism and Pentecostalism, and continues to be influential today. J. I. Packer was himself touched by it earlier in his Christian life — and he says it very nearly destroyed him, until God used John Owen to bring him Biblical sanity.

But Packer's not alone. I read Murray as a young Christian, and... well, I told you about all that in this post.

As I said, Andy  sets forth the history of the movement, but he also delves very deeply into its doctrine, and goes into richly profitable depth working with the Scriptures used and abused by Keswickians. Andy deals at length with John 15, with Romans 6 and 7, with the concepts of the "flesh" and the old/new nature, the notions of "carnal" and "spiritual" Christians... it's an exegetical and theological feast. Really first-rate.

I found the dissertation extremely helpful, a real Godsend to me in my thinking and writing. In many ways, Andy's work confirmed where 35+ years of study of the Greek text had brought me. Yet he also instructed me, challenged me, and informed me, helped clarify my thought. The footnotes in my manuscript reflect my gratitude to Andy.

This upcoming book is titled Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology, and is a revision of that dissertation. It comes with a forward by Dr. Thomas Schreiner and 21 endorsements by the likes of D. A. Carson, Kevin DeYoung, Carl Trueman, Willem A. VanGemeren, and many others. Andy says that it is a light revision of the dissertation. I notice that it updates bibliographical references to works as recent as 2010.

Naselli's work is very solid, very weighty, very well-documented (about 130 pages of bibliography), and very much worth your attention. Logos will be publishing the book, which is due at the end of the year. Right now, it is at the pre-pub phase.

In particular, any pastor or leader who has any encounter with any form of two-tier teaching really must check  out Andy's book. You'll be grateful, as I was and am.

Dan Phillips's signature

96 comments:

Mark B. Hanson said...

I was in a "Holimess" (non-pentecostal) church for years and saw the toll their theology took, especially on young people with problems. Although Keswick is somewhat less dangerous than the teaching of Christian perfection, it nonetheless serves to convince people either:

1. They are powerless to move toward the deeper life until God does something beyond their initial justification (a second work of grace), or

2. They need to seek an esperience with the Holy Spirit subsequent to their justification, by yielding themselves or "letting go" some other human action before they can be complete in Christ.

Either way, it can be a trap, since often the only counsel given to the person with problems is, "you need that second work of grace."

Mark B. Hanson said...

Sorry - should be "or some other human action".

David said...

Here's an outline for one of Naselli's lectures. Check the last page for his visual depictions of the way sanctification works (or doesn't work) in these different theologies.

http://www.dbts.edu/pdf/rls/NaselliHandout.pdf

DJP said...

The book contains a number of such charts and diagrams, providing even further clarifications. In color, too!

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Dan,

Thanks for this post. I'm adding this book to my must read list. (Along with yours, of course!) There are a number of people in my church who drink deeply of Keswick, and at first exposure I haven't noticed any problems with what I've seen/heard, although I don't know these people real well (we're relatively new to our church). Our pastor(s) haven't spoken about it one way or the other, to my knowledge. I think this book will be very helpful.

Terry Rayburn said...

Dan,

Clarification (and no doubt dumb) question:

Is it going to be available as a print book or just adjunct software to Logos?

Andy Naselli said...

That’s a good question, Terry. (Dan just emailed it to me.)

The plan for now is that the book will be available exclusively in electronic format from Logos Bible Software. Of course, if you own the book electronically, you can print it very easily as well as read it on a variety of platforms (desktop computer, laptop computer, iPad, iPhone, etc.).

I've argued elsewhere (e.g., here) that using electronic commentaries in Libronix is more efficient than using print commentaries for two primary reasons: searchability and versatility. (1) Commentaries in Libronix have multiple searching capabilities that far exceed print commentaries in both speed and thoroughness, and (2) commentaries in Libronix are superior to print commentaries with reference to accessibility, readability, marking, copying and pasting, saving, and linking.

Paul said...

Proponents of *let go and let God theology* (DA Carson is a proponent of Gospel Sanctification) writing a book against *let go and let God theology. Interesting.

Paul said...

.....or can we deduct from the book that let go and let God theology really isn't let go and let God theology. That would sound about right as well.

DJP said...

I've no idea what you're talking about, Paul. I have the impression you think it's very witty, though.

Terry Rayburn said...

"...if you own the book electronically, you can print it very easily as well as read it on a variety of platforms (desktop computer, laptop computer, iPad, iPhone, etc.)"

Got it. Thanks, Andy!

By the way, Mp3's are available from Andy's live presentation at DBTS

here

here

and here

along with a beautiful Powerpoint presentation PDF here

I can't wait to listen to it so I'm not going to :)

Lastly, a nice interview of Andy by Kevin DeYoung is available here.

Thanks a million, Dan, for bringing this to our attention!

Pastor Pants said...

But, Andy, there is nothing like having a printed book in your hand. PLEASE tell me there'll be a printed version eventually!

Stefan said...

So...the main point of Keswick Theology and its cousins is the idea that there's a binary before/after duality to a believer's life?

Regenerate but unsanctified life before a post-salvific crisis event, and sanctified life thereafter? Rather than the reformed view of a gradual process of sanctification from the moment of justification onwards?

If so, the light switch image you chose for this post is quite apposite.

And what is the Keswick view on sin in one who is living the victorious Christian life?

Stefan said...

David:

Thanks for that outline, by the way.

Andy:

I like the charts: they're like eschatological charts, but mapping the history of a beliver, rather than the history of the church!

Terry Rayburn said...

Pastor Pants,

What I like to do is print out an eBook like this, then take to my local copy store and have it "spiral bound".

It only costs a couple dollars (a pound or two) and is really nice because it has margins for notes, and lays open nicely on a table or lap.

Best of both worlds, digital and fingerable pages :)

Stefan said...

believer, not "beliver."

Paul said...

Not at all DJP, I just assumed that your familiar with the tenets of Gospel Sanctification and its effect on Christianity in our present culture. I am struck by someone writing such an in-depth work about a movement from a century ago when we have so many modern-day teachers propagating a form of monergistic sanctification in our present day. I meant no disrespect-hope you will forgive me.

VcdeChagn said...

Wow, I actually discarded this book from my want list (when I saw the prepub) because I thought it was positive toward Keswick (Logos has a lot of material I don't want for free, much less to pay for). That's what I get for reading just the blurb!

I just pre-ordered it as my church and my pastor have this sort of mentality.

My pastor even talks about the different prepositions used when talking about the Holy Spirit. I won't try to mangle the Greek, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. In, with and upon or something like that. Has to do with regeneration but then you need more than that.

Of course, if you own the book electronically, you can print it very easily

Andy, first, thanks for writing the book. I'll put it on my reading plan for next year (one great feature of Logos!).

However, it's not that easy to print an entire book in Logos. At least MacArthur's commentaries can only be printed out a few pages at a time. And this is even difficult requiring a copy/paste to another program or Logos' internal notes.

Phil Johnson said...

I'll also add my enthusiastic recommendation for Andy's book. This is a subject I'm passionate about because I was confused and spiritually hamstrung for years by the false and shallow perfectionist promises of a "let go and let God" approach to sanctification. I've posted about it a few times, and I'm sure I'll have more to say about it in the future.

Andy's book fills a massive gap in evangelical literature. At last, here's something simpler than Warfield's 2-volume Studies in Perfectionism that I can give to people who are struggling to understand what holiness is and how we can pursue it. Thanks, Andy.

gapid said...

funki porcini likes the image of the switch.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Andy,

Would you please clarify for me: is this the same Keswick that is associated with the "America's Keswick" located in NJ, which has an addiction recovery ministry to men and their spouses? Do you know if there is a connection? Thanks,
Merrilee

philness said...

Wait. I'm confused. If sanctification is monergistic seems to me that would be "let go and let God"?

Objectively, knowing God is sovereign who works in us to will and to do would be considered monergistic all the way through to glorification. But yet subjectively understanding this in our walk and us operating in the spirit indwelt in us would be synergistic, right? I mean with regard to our daily responsibility in dying to self and feeding and relying and abiding in His word and so forth in becoming progressively Christ-like.

In one sense I get that the sanctification process is monergistic yet at the same time I see it or I should say I experience it as synergistic.

I'm probably not making any sense. I'll shut up and get the book.

Stefan said...

Philness:

Based on my extremely limited understanding of this, it seems that the issue of contention is not whether God is ultimately sovereign in our sanctification, but how sanctification progresses in the life of the believer.

The Keswick movement—and its cousins in Methodism, Pentecostalism, and even the old-school Dallas teachers—appear to hold that the believer is initially unsanctified (after justification) until some crisis event happens, after which he/she is sanctified (and perfected?).

A more biblical approach appears to hold that sanctification begins at the moment of justification and continues until we leave this earthly life, a steady progression with ups and downs, much like walking up a rocky mountain.

Andy's study outline that David posted above was very helpful:

http://www.dbts.edu/pdf/rls/NaselliHandout.pdf

There could be the question of human responsibility as well as balanced against divine sovereignty: to what degree do Keswickians affirm human responsibility in the process of sanctification?

Mike Riccardi said...

Philness, I think your comment illustrates nicely both (1) the truth of Philippians 2:12-13, and (2) the unsuitableness of using 'monergistic' and 'synergistic' to refer to sanctification.

Regarding the latter, a lot of people who would say sanctification is synergistic would also hasten to admit that justification, on the other hand, is monergistic.

But really what they mean is that they believe regeneration is monergistic, not justification. And, in fact, that is how the monergism/synergism terms are historically used.

Regarding justification, no Calvinist believes that our justification was monergistic. Justification is mediated through the means of faith, and God did not believe the Gospel for us. We had a role to play. God sovereignly, monergistically quickened our dead heart and opened our eyes in the miracle of the new birth (we had no role in that). And then, with our eyes open to behold the glory of Christ as it is and the despicable-ness of sin as it is, we preferred Christ and believed in Him with all our hearts (we did have a role in that).

Regarding sanctification, I think there's a similar dynamic. God has opened our eyes to behold and to treasure His glory, and now it is our duty to fix our eyes on that glory -- to behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled face (2Cor 3) -- and in that way be transformed progressively into the image of Christ. God 'mongeristically' opens our eyes and reveals the glory of His Son, and we then respond and fight to saturate ourselves with that vision and to pursue Him with all our might.

Terry Rayburn said...

Almost all "movements" have two things in common:

1) They are invariably an exaggerated backlash to some real or perceived error.

2) They almost always counter the error with more error.

We have a normal human desire to "belong".

But if we choose to satisfy that desire by belonging to any "movement", we will tend to either regret it later, or harden our heart to some truth that our "movement" denies.

That goes for the Reformed Movement, the Westminster Confession Movement, the Covenant Theology Movement, The Dispensational Movement, The New Covenant Theology Movement, etc.*

I am huge on Grace, as opposed to Legalism. But I sometimes shudder to read some of the stuff that comes out of the so-called "Grace Movement".

"One Lord, one faith, one baptism..." We may add, one Bible.

This is enough.

I can hear somebody say, "Yes! The One Lord, One faith, One Baptism, One Bible Movement!

Sigh.

*To clarify, that doesn't mean that doctrine is not important. It is.

But, for example, I can say that I am essentially "Reformed" in my Soteriology without getting my identity from "The Reformed Movement" -- and thereby implying all kinds of baggage, such as Covenant Theology, "regulative" principle of worship, treating the Westminster Confession as virtually inspired, etc.

Barbara said...

I'm with Pastor Pants: print books are cheaper than my printer cartidges and paper plus there's no such thing as a local copy store around here or any such place that would bind such a thing any cheaper than I could buy a real book to start with. Ran out of black ink printing off Spurgeon's "Around the Wicket Gate" and had to move to color ink to get the rest of it printed off, and that is expensive! Count in screen fatigue/eye pain/worsening vision due to screen overload, and it just is NOT worth it. Would there at least be an audio vision? *sigh* Are we really coming to the place where real books are going away? Oh dear, say it ain't so!

Paul said...

Terry-
Great comment. That's exactly why the "New Calvinism" movement makes me particularly nervous. I wasn't aware that *perfectionism* had a let go and let God aspect-so I will be buying the book. But for sure, New Calvinism is high octane LGLG.
PS
Whatever happened to being Leary of anything "new" among Evangelicals?

Paul said...

Philness,

That's a pretty decent assessment in my opinoin. As a matter of fact, I am going to copy and paste it to my notes on sanctification. However, I think the fact that we work-out what God is working in us,is very objective in regard to biblical instruction. It is by faith; sometimes we may not feel like we have the will to do this, that, or the other,but in fact the will is there,Scripture tells us so. Being interpreted: obey whether you feel like it or not, which results in blessing (James 1:25)and spiritual strength (see parable of the wise builder).

Mike,

I don't agree with your assessment of monergism and synergism, or the John Piper approach of "beholding as a way of becoming." I also disagree with what he said at the G4 conference; namely, that we are primarily transformed by focusing on "pictures of Christ." The mandate of Christ to the church is to "observe all that I have commanded."

Mike Riccardi said...

Thanks for letting me know, Paul.

Paul said...

Mike,

I can tell by your condescending reply that I have addressed someone who is far superior to me as an individual. Please accept my apology.

Mike Riccardi said...

Oh boo-hoo.

Oh, and no condescension in your reply at all.

The thoroughness of my reply matched the thoroughness of your comment, which was merely an assertion with no argument.

So no, I don't feel obligated to waste my time on someone who doesn't take the time to offer a Biblical argument and whose mind is plainly made up.

I must say, though, I'm awfully curious as to how you square your dismissal of "beholding as a way of becoming" with Paul's statement: "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory." I'm sure it's pretty clever, though.

Stefan said...

While I agree that commentaries (and multiple Bible translations) are much more versatile to use in electronic form, I also agree with others here who lament the day when the electronic form will become the default medium for publishing.

...Especially in the case of a book like this, whose potential sales revenue might just barely outweigh production costs (assuming an affordable price for what is not exactly a mass market title), and yet may evidently be a useful study tool for understanding different contemporary approaches to the doctrine of sanctification.

Kim said...

I'm a dinosaur. I want a book with pages that I can hold in my hand and that I can loan out to someone. Also find that reading on a screen makes my eyes very dry, as I tend to have to force myself to blink when reading from a screen.

JR said...

Before we vilify the Keswick view entirely let me recommend this volume of the four views series: http://www.amazon.com/Five-Views-Sanctification-Stanley-Gundry/dp/0310212693/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275580521&sr=8-1

Hoekema, McQuilkin and Walvoord may disagree on some finer points, but they more frequently applaud each other’s approach.

All that to say…I look forward to Naselli’s book. As a Columbia Biblical Seminary graduate I appreciate very much the teaching of Robertson McQuilkin whom I'd describe as a moderate Keswick. I understand the movements early pitfalls, but McQuilkin and many others don't hold to the Wesleyan-perfectionism that tends to caricature the movement.

Paul said...

Mike,

Gee wiz mike, you guys are a tuff bunch. Can't we just be friends? I have no objection to the Evangelical approach to this text that states that unlike those who have not turned to the Lord, we can understand the Scriptures (our faces aren't veiled), which the Spirit uses to change us as He enables us to understand,and apply the truth to our lives. This results in us being gradually transformed into the likeness of God.

But that's not how neo-Reformation teachers like Piper use that text. They use it to say that we are transformed by meditating on the gospel narrative that can be found in any given verse in the Bible. This text is used as a hermeneutic for the rest of the Bible. This is what he clearly propagated at the G4 conference. The Spirit, who is the subject of the change in these verses, not our gazing (the transformation "comes from" the Spirit, not our beholding)uses more than just "the gospel" to change us, he uses all biblical concepts that can be truthfully drawn from the text.

Furthermore, back in line with what the context of discussion is here (sanctification), the result of using the Bible to only gaze on the glory of the gospel then (supposedly)leads to a type of automatic, joyful "mere natural flow" obedience that is the "imputed active obedience" of Christ, and not us.

That's my contention Mike. Sorry I offended you.

daniel vance said...

I don't want to stir things up too much, or necessarily defend the Keswick view (b/c IMO there is much that is indefensible), but in the composition of my master's thesis I found that there was very little scholarly development on this subject. Packer's Walk in the Spirit basically condenses Warfield's screed from "Perfectionism," as if there was no discussion of the subject in the intervening 50 years. Whether or not you agree with his assertions, in Bibliotecha Sacra Lxxvi (1919)W.H. Griffith Thomas pointed out perceived flaws in some of Warfield's arguments--assertions that have apparently been ignored and continue to be ignored. There is a moderate form of Keswick teaching, espoused by Dr. William Larkin of Columbia Biblical Seminary, that is largely (though not completely!) compatible with standard Reformed teaching on sanctification. Hopefully Naselli's book will live up to the high praise DJP has given it.

Mike Riccardi said...

But that's not how neo-Reformation teachers like Piper use that text. They use it to say that we are transformed by meditating on the gospel narrative that can be found in any given verse in the Bible.

Insofar as any given verse in the Bible reveals the glory of Christ, I can't imagine how this is different than what you described in your immediately preceding paragraph.

The Spirit, who is the subject of the change in these verses, not our gazing...

Actually, if you diagrammed the sentence, the main verb is "are being transformed." The subject of that is "we," even though it's passive. I think you mean to say that the Spirit is the agent of change. That is, "we are being transformed by the Spirit."

But even so, no one's arguing that. No one's trying to make sanctification into such a mechanical process as simply looking at words. Of course the Spirit is the one who sanctifies us.

But it's utterly foolish to ignore the fact that this text plainly says that the means through which the Spirit sanctifies us is by giving us eyes to see (removing the veil) and then presenting to us the glory of Christ.

...the result of using the Bible to only gaze on the glory of the gospel then (supposedly) leads to a type of automatic, joyful "mere natural flow" obedience that is the "imputed active obedience" of Christ, and not us.

I gotta be honest, I'm not seeing the downside there. One thing though: that doesn't imply that sanctification isn't progressive, that there aren't ups and downs, and that we don't sin anymore. It just means that when we do obey, it's out of delight and not duty.

See, an "obedience" to God's commands that is begrudging and burdensome is not obedience. It's externalism. 1 John 5:3 tells us that love for God means keeping His commandments in a way that demonstrates that they are not burdensome.

And regarding my obedience being Christ's imputed obedience, I'm happy to deflect all glory for my obedience onto His grace. I'm perfectly content to retain no merit to myself whatsoever. Surely that's what Paul means to do when he declares that he was crucified with Christ, and no he no longer lives, but Christ in him (Gal 2:20). Of course he doesn't mean to say that he didn't obey -- that's why he says in the next sentence, "the live I live I live by faith..." He lives that life, yet the credit for his obedience goes to Christ. What does he have that he hasn't been given (1Cor 4)? By the grace of God he is what he is. He labored more than all the rest, yet not he, but the grace of God with him (1Cor 15). It's everywhere.

(Continued in next comment)

Mike Riccardi said...

The notion that Christian obedience is merely to grit your teeth, clench your fist and give it the old college try is foreign to the New Testament and is exactly the kind of moralistic, hypocritical externalism that Christ condemns. Because it's precisely that externalism that makes the Spirit entirely unnecessary. You don't have to be born again to "obey" that way. You just have to have a really sensitive conscience and a lot of will power. And in the end, you get the glory for that kind of obedience.

But slavery to Christ is a sweet enterprise. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. His grace means actually transforming our hearts and our wills to find His commandments sweet and not-burdensome.

And that is so emphatically not "let go and let God." It's "let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..." how? "...fixing our eyes on Jesus," who obeyed the will of the Father for the joy set before Him.

Sanctification is the Spirit presenting the glory of Christ to me such that, seeing that glory, I am given all the strength and all the motivation needed to obey my Lord with joy, in the hopes that as I obey Him further, I will get more of Him.

DJP said...

Commend it if you like, JR, but it's not a great book.

Phil Johnson said...

Daniel Vance: "There is a moderate form of Keswick teaching"

Andy does cover this fact in his book. He points out that the teaching of Keswick's founders was markedly different from the view taught 50 years later by Scroggie (who had much more in common with classic Reformed doctrine than he had with Keswick's founders).

By the 1960s, Keswick Conferences were no longer purely Keswickian. By the 1970s, they were basically Bible conferences with perhaps an extra dose of deeper-life language thrown in.

I think to a very large degree, the shift was because critiques of their movement, such as Ryle's book on Holiness and Warfield's "screed" (as you call it) on Perfectionism clearly made a deep impression on serious-minded Keswickians. These and other critics raised valid and important issues Keswick's teachers were forced to address. (BTW, when I first read Warfield, I was enthusiastic about Keswick doctrine, and I found the biblical case Warfield made compelling. Griffith Thomas's reply, not so much.)

I've spoken a couple of times at America's Keswick in NJ, and while the bookstore there is well-stocked with all the classic Keswickian literature, the content of the teaching sessions was little different from any other conference I would typically speak at. America's Keswick is still conservative and thoroughly evangelical (blessedly unusual for a conference so old)--but I saw no evidence there of the hard-sell deeper-life influence I often encountered even at Moody Bible Institute during my student years. I didn't detect a trace of perfectionism in the messages at America's Keswick during the weeks I was one of the speakers there.

For all those reasons, Keswick doctrine doesn't have the impact and appeal it had in the first half of the 20th century, but the influence is still there, mainly through early Keswick speakers' published works.

Phil Johnson said...

PS: to Andy Naselli:

Allow me to cast my vote with those who say this needs to be in print. I have the .pdf on my iPad, and that's terrific, but I need a copy to put on my shelf in front of my Charles G. Trumbull collection, and I need multiple copies to give to the countless people I counsel who are confused on these issues owing to what they were taught growing up, or whatever.

Besides, that's a cool cover. It needs a tangible book to go with it.

daniel vance said...

Thanks Phil,

Perhaps I was little to Warfield-esque in calling his contributions a "screed." :)

I don't necessarily buy Griffith-Thomas' arguments either; just pointing out that to my knowledge it has not been interacted with on an academic level (ever).

The Keswick "question" is personally important to me, as I grew up in NJ and got a degree from CIU in SC. So practically I am very well-acquainted with its strengths and weaknesses.

Thanks again, and blessings
--daniel

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Thank you Phil for answering my earlier question. I'm glad to hear your assessment of America's Keswick in NJ (and I hope to hear you the next time you're ever there to speak).

I agree with books in the hand. They make great gifts, and are good for church libraries.

JR said...

Dan, I would agree that it's not a great book, but it's decent material. And it proves that the contemporary Keswick movement, as outlined by McQuilkin, is well balanced.

Diane said...

PRAISE GOD! We've been waiting for a book on this subject! I've read Naselli's paper online and am completely thrilled that he has written this book. This problem is MUCH, MUCH bigger than most people even realize! Hallelujah!

bp said...

Are the teachings of the Keswick movement also the teachings of the Quakers? I thought Hannah Whitall Smith was a Quaker.

Paul said...

Mike,
Thanks for your thought provoking reply:

"Insofar as any given verse in the Bible reveals the glory of Christ, I can't imagine how this is different than what you described in your immediately preceding paragraph."

Though I don't agree that every verse in Scripture is about Christ, you could almost get me to live with it, but neo-Reformed teachers take it a step further and say every verse is about the gospel, and that the Spirit only sanctifies when the gospel is presented from the text. I disagree. besides, Christ didn't say to make disciples and *teach them to observe my works, glory, gospel, etc,* He said: "teaching them to observe *all* that I have *commanded*" Here, if Christ says:"teaching them to observe the gospel," the arguments over and I buy you a steak dinner.

"But it's utterly foolish to ignore the fact that this text plainly says that the means through which the Spirit sanctifies us is by giving us eyes to see (removing the veil) and then presenting to us the glory of Christ."

The ESV leaves out the fact that it is His glory as seen like looking into polished metal (1st century mirror). The showing of Christ's glory could not be the primary focus of the Spirit for our view of Christ's glory is obscured to begin with.

"....It just means that when we do obey, it's out of delight and not duty."

Mike, in the paramount act of all obedience, Christ was not "delighted" to go to the Cross. He despised its shame. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me." Also note The Passion of Christ the night before he went to the cross. Though obedience is often joyful; knowing that we are pleasing our king, often, joy has to wait in some obedience: "preaching that by much suffering we must enter the kingdom."

"And regarding my obedience being Christ's imputed obedience, I'm happy to deflect all glory for my obedience onto His grace. I'm perfectly content to retain no merit to myself whatsoever."

Christ does not obey for us and in our place. I disagree.

"Surely that's what Paul means to do when he declares that he was crucified with Christ, and no he no longer lives, but Christ in him (Gal 2:20)."

That text confronts the Galatians about going back to a justification by works after being saved by faith alone. Specifically, justification by circumcision is in view (" Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.")Galatians has nothing to do at all with sanctification until 5:16. Everything before that strictly concerns justification only. Gal. 2:20 has nothing to do with sanctification whatsoever.

"The notion that Christian obedience is merely to grit your teeth, clench your fist and give it the old college try is foreign to the New Testament and is exactly the kind of moralistic, hypocritical externalism that Christ condemns."

Mike, I'm an Evangelical, and I don't know anyone who has that attitude towards obedience. However, we believe that the blessings are "in" the *doing*(James 1:25, and that it's really us doing it. Could we do it without Christ? Certainly not! But is Christ obeying for us? No.

"Sanctification is the Spirit presenting the glory of Christ to me such that, seeing that glory, I am given all the strength and all the motivation needed to obey my Lord with joy,"

Christ said the Spirit would "lead us in all truth." If Christ said: "the Spirit will always show my glory" or, "He will always lead you in the gospel," the arguments over. But "all truth" plainly implies more than the glory of Christ and the gospel, even though He is exceedingly glorious for sure.

bp said...
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bp said...

Never mind, I did some research. I was given Smith's book, "The God of all Comfort" many years ago (before I subscribed to reformed theology) by my mom, and it was really helpful to me at the time. It's been 10 yrs. since I read it, but I don't remember anything about a higher life or second blessing in it. I know I still have it somewhere, so I'm curious to take a closer look now.

Mike Riccardi said...

Though I don't agree that every verse in Scripture is about Christ, you could almost get me to live with it, but neo-Reformed teachers take it a step further and say every verse is about the gospel, and that the Spirit only sanctifies when the gospel is presented from the text.

I haven't heard any "neo-Reformed" teacher say that every verse is about the Gospel. Do you have documentation for that? If in fact someone somewhere has said that, I disagree with that as well.

Besides, Christ didn't say to make disciples and *teach them to observe my works, glory, gospel, etc,* He said: "teaching them to observe *all* that I have *commanded*" Here, if Christ says:"teaching them to observe the gospel," the arguments over and I buy you a steak dinner.

That is a terrible, terrible handling of that text. I mean ouch. Christ says the way to make disciples is to teach them to observe, keep, follow, obey the commandments. But then the question comes, "How do we do that?" And that's what the rest of the NT answers for us. One of those verses that puts it nice and succintly is 2Cor 3:18, we are transformed into Christlikeness by being presented with His glory, beholding it, and being thus motivated to observe the commandments.

The ESV leaves out the fact that it is His glory as seen like looking into polished metal (1st century mirror). The showing of Christ's glory could not be the primary focus of the Spirit for our view of Christ's glory is obscured to begin with.

Again, terrible handling of the text. The point of the mirror is not to say that our focus shouldn't be there, but simply that we do not see the glory of Christ perfectly yet while on this side of the 2nd coming. If we were to see the glory in its fullness, we would be entirely sanctified at once! That's what 1Jn 3:2 says: We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. What's the means of being glorified? Seeing Christ's glory perfectly. What's the means of being progressively sanctified? seeing Christ's glory, albeit imperfectly.

Mike, in the paramount act of all obedience, Christ was not "delighted" to go to the Cross. ...

I understand that. Two things. 1: Christ's situation was unique. None of us will ever be asked obey the Father such that we are coming under His wrath. That is inherently not delightful and is an entirely unique experience.

But what gave Him strength to endure even that, was the joy that was set before Him. And "despising the shame" doesn't mean, as you imply, that He hated the shame. It means that He disregarded the shame. He paid no attention to the fact that He, the God of the universe, would die in the most ignominius way to die in His day. He "disregarded the shame" attached to the stigma of the Cross and did it anyway. See F. F. Bruce in the NICNT for more on that understanding of "despising."

(Continued next comment)

Mike Riccardi said...

"preaching that by much suffering we must enter the kingdom".

Suffering and joy are not mutually exclusive. No, we are to have joy -- not merely at the prospect of the end of our suffering -- but joy in our suffering, knowing that it has come by the ordination of God and is working, in that very moment, for His glory, which is our greatest good.

Christ does not obey for us and in our place. I disagree.

I never said that He does. In fact, I said specifically that Paul himself did the obeying, and that's what he meant when he said, "the life I now live..."

Galatians has nothing to do at all with sanctification until 5:16. Everything before that strictly concerns justification only.

Again, abysmal handling of Scripture. You should really think twice before posting this stuff. For one thing, sanctification is clearly in view at least by 3:3, where Paul asks, "Are you so foolish, having begun in the Spirit are you being perfected (sanctified) in the flesh?"

Gal. 2:20 has nothing to do with sanctification whatsoever.

Baloney. Sanctification is primary in 2:20. I have been crucified (justification) and the life I now live (sanctification). That's his Christian life, and he's telling us how he lives it.

But is Christ obeying for us? No.

I don't disagree. You really seem to want to argue against this. But it's a strawman.

Christ said the Spirit would "lead us in all truth." If Christ said: "the Spirit will always show my glory" or, "He will always lead you in the gospel," the arguments over.

LoL. Just read the next verse: "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you."

I guess the argument's over.

Paul said...

Mike, you say:

"I haven't heard any "neo-Reformed" teacher say that every verse is about the Gospel. Do you have documentation for that? If in fact someone somewhere has said that, I disagree with that as well."

Mike, read Piper's manuscript from the 2010 G4 conference. Not only that,he said (same manuscript) all verses in the Gospels have to be viewed in the shadow of the cross because that's "how they end." Where did he get that hermeneutic? But in fact, both Matthew and Mark end with Him proclaiming His Lordship via His mandate to the church. Also, in regard to the staple tenet of Gospel Sanctification that the Holy Spirit only operates within the subject of the cross, there are examples everywhere, but you can go to "Vossed World" and find a post entitled "The Word of God is a Person" for one example.

"That is a terrible, terrible handling of that text. I mean ouch. Christ says the way to make disciples is to teach them to observe, keep, follow, obey the commandments. But then the question comes, "How do we do that?" And that's what the rest of the NT answers for us. One of those verses that puts it nice and succintly is 2Cor 3:18, we are transformed into Christlikeness by being presented with His glory, beholding it, and being thus motivated to observe the commandments."

CONTINUED,

Paul said...

Mike, here is how Christ said:

"I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."

You ask: "But then the question becomes, 'How do we do that?'"

I think Christ makes that clear, but most good GS guys don't ask the question the way you do, implying some kind of verb. They say: "What does that *look like*"
So hey, I'm thinkin' there's hope for you Mike.

"Again, terrible handling of the text. The point of the mirror is not to say that our focus shouldn't be there, but simply that we do not see the glory of Christ perfectly yet while on this side of the 2nd coming."

I'm not dismissing that idea, I'm saying the GS tenet that the Spirit only recognizes and uses soteriology from the Scriptures in not true. An overemphasis on any one member of the Trinity will always lead to serious problems. I am in good company in this regard, Read Barry E. Horners comments on page 192 of "Future Israel."

CONTINUED,

Paul said...

"I understand that. Two things. 1: Christ's situation was unique. None of us will ever be asked obey the Father such that we are coming under His wrath. That is inherently not delightful and is an entirely unique experience."

But yet, it's not the only example in Scripture of perfect obedience by Christ not being accompanied by "delight." I mean really, where would I begin to cite the examples. Sometimes, he taught the disciples while being exasperated. That's only one of hundreds of examples.

"Suffering and joy are not mutually exclusive. No, we are to have joy -- not merely at the prospect of the end of our suffering -- but joy in our suffering, knowing that it has come by the ordination of God and is working, in that very moment, for His glory, which is our greatest good."

But "joy" and "delight" are often mutually exclusive. Obviously.

"I never said that He does. In fact, I said specifically that Paul himself did the obeying, and that's what he meant when he said, "the life I now live..."

Many GS teachers such as Piper teach that we are "dead" in the sanctification process and unable to obey. See Paul Tripp's comments on pages 64 and 65 in "How People Change" and Piper's comments in the on-line pdf booklet "Treating Delight as Duty is Contraversial." See chapter three of three in this small booklet, he uses Romans 6:17, a clear past tense verse regarding justification, to make the point that we are dead and unable to obey in the sanctification process.

"Again, abysmal handling of Scripture. You should really think twice before posting this stuff. For one thing, sanctification is clearly in view at least by 3:3, where Paul asks, "Are you so foolish, having begun in the Spirit are you being perfected (sanctified) in the flesh?"

"Baloney. Sanctification is primary in 2:20. I have been crucified (justification) and the life I now live (sanctification). That's his Christian life, and he's telling us how he lives it."

Mike, The text reiterates Paul's subject of justification 3 times in Gal. 2:16 (3 times in that one verse) and then in 2:17, 2:21, 3:8, 3:11, 3:24, and 5:4. He addresses justification by circumcision and other ordinances in 2:3, 2:12, 4:10,11, 5:2, 5:3, 5:5, 5:6, and 5:11. Mike, I am merely looking at 2:20 in the clear context of the subject, in Paul's line of thought, which is clearly not sanctification.

"[But is Christ obeying for us? No.]
I don't disagree. You really seem to want to argue against this. But it's a strawman."

Chad Bresson, a follower of John Piper and GS advocate, says that our obedience is "the imputed active obedience of Christ." Piper and Tripp say the same thing by default by proclaiming that we are "dead" (Tripp: "when you are dead, you can do nothing") in the sanctification process.

"LoL. Just read the next verse: "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come."

Again, "all truth" clearly implies more that Soteriology.

Thanks for all your time here Mike -really think your challenge here is very important.

Matt Haney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Want to interact with the post? Interact with the post.

Want to slap down a bunch of links to things we haven't the time to review?

Don't.

Lynda O said...

Thanks Phil for answering the question Merrilee asked, as I had wondered about that too. I listen a lot to S. Lewis Johnson, and he often mentioned speaking at Keswick Conferences in the U.S. and Canada. He also mentioned F.B. Meyer a lot too.

I googled the SLJ transcripts enough to find places where SLJ briefly mentioned the error of Meyer and the Keswick movement, and based on all that I knew it sounded as though the American and Canadian Keswick conferences of more recent times (SLJ's years) were something different than the original thing -- so thanks for giving more of the history of that.

DJP said...

Paul, maybe I'm unusually slow this week, but I'm still not getting where you're coming from.

Could you state positively what it is you think that sanctification is about, then maybe a one-sentence point of contrast with what you're calling "Gospel sanctification"?

And/or, if you have the time and inclination, read this, and tell me what you think of it.

Phil Johnson said...

bp: "I thought Hannah Whitall Smith was a Quaker"

She grew up Quaker, left Quakerism for Moody-Keswick style evangelicalism. It was during that time when she wrote The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life. The same year that book was published, her husband was unfaithful and they left the movement disgraced. She returned to Quakerism, then became a broad universalist/agnostic. "Happy Life," indeed.

Little known fact: Hannah Whitall Smith was also mother-in-law to Bertrand Russell, the famous atheist and intellectual.

Paul said...

DJP,

I read the link. I agree 100%.

Gospel Sanctification is the doctrine that states the following: “The same gospel that saved you, also sanctifies you.” Hence, Gospel Sanctification (sanctified by the gospel only).

According to GS, sanctification occurs only by meditating on the “historical gospel narrative,” which is the totality of Scripture. The sole purpose of Scripture is to show forth and illustrate the redemptive work of Christ through history. As we meditate on this and see the glory of Christ and his redemptive work more clearly, Christ changes us from glory to glory. Therefore, it is the main thrust of all teaching, preaching, and private study. It is “Christocentric,” “cross-centered,” “gospel-driven,” preaching and teaching, for the Spirit does not work within any other expounding of Scripture.

Also, the Law has the exact same role in sanctification as it does in justification. As in justification, it is a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. If we try to keep the Law, it only serves to remind us that we can't, and drives us nearer to Christ and His cross. GS teaches that Christians are utterly unable to uphold the law of God, Christ must do it for us (“the imputed acive obedience of Christ

All commands in the Bible are merely illustrative of what Christ has already accomplished for us when He came the first time. He not only died for our sins, HE LIVED FOR OUR OBEDIENCE. Since Christ fulfilled the Law when He came, obeying perfectly, we are not obligated to he Law. Therefore, “the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event” (the coming of Jesus Christ).

The only thing about us that is alive is “Christ in us.” Apart from Christ, we are dead, so, “it is not I who lives, but Christ that lives in me.” Therefore, Christians are “dead, and can't do anything” (Paul Tripp). GS teachers OFTEN use justification verses to make points about sanctification. In their view, there is no difference.

CONTINUE

Paul said...

However, they do teach that Christians have two primary roles in sanctification: Meditation on the gospel narrative and “deep repentance.” Deep repentance is linked to “Heart Theology,” and instructs the Christian on how to find idols of the heart through analyzing *desires.* Once we repent of these new-found idols, they are removed from our heart and Christ then fills the void with Himself, resulting in what is called “new obedience,” which is an obedience that is a *joyful*, “mere natural flow” because Christ is the one obeying for us. John Piper himself stated that this will be the primary focus of his well-publicized sabbatical; the elimination of heart idols.

Lastly, to move on to anything else but the same gospel that justifies, is a false gospel. If you move on to anything else, “you loose both” (Micheal Horton, John Piper). Therefore, proponents of GS see themselves as new reformers that are saving the church from Evangelicalism. And trust me, they don't play well with others. They see Evangelicals as modern-day Papal minions.

The doctrine is all but exact in regard to what JC Ryle contended with, and he refers to it as the “Christ in Us Doctrine” in his 20 letters on Holiness. He said that it is a twisting of Galatians 2:20, and also referred to it as an antinomian doctrine.

Specific references are available upon request, but this quote by Micheal Horton from page 62 of “Christless Christianiy” is a good summation of my points. Read carefully what he is saying:

“Where we land on these issues is perhaps the most significant factor in how we approach our own faith and practice and communicate it to the world. If not only the unregenerate but the regenerate are always dependent at every moment on the free grace of God disclosed in the gospel, then nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ's flock but the Spirit working through the gospel. When this happens (not just once, but every time we encounter the gospel afresh), the Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ's image. Start with Christ (that is, the gospel) and you get sanctification in the bargain; begin with Christ and move on to something else, and you lose both.”

Paul said...

PS,
sorry for he typos.

DJP said...

Thanks for all that, Paul.

I also asked, "Could you state positively what it is you think that sanctification is about...?"

Paul said...

DJP,

Yes, thanks for asking. Ephesians 4:24. We have been recreated and given all things in Christ. Now we are commanded to "put it on." The new man, that is. The Scriptures teach us how to put on the new man. But, we are actually involved in putting on the new man which takes discipline, exertion, and prayerful dependence on the Spirit. However, this putting on will come with a whole host of varied emotional responses and experiences. I think we will be judged according to how well we do our part in putting on the new man (2Cor.5:10). Also, as new creatures, we are enabled to uphold the Law of God.

Mike Riccardi said...

...prayerful dependence on the Spirit...

Paul,

These 5 words out of the 100+ in your definition of sanctification is the only thing that separates that definition from any other behavioral modification system of all the philosophies and religions under heaven. I think it would be helpful for you to really consider what you mean by these 5 words, because from the rest of your comments I get the feeling that by them you mean: "Pray regularly."

Now, of course, I don't want to denigrate or devalue the idea of praying regularly, as if it's not important or as if it's impotent. It's not. It's absolutely essential. But many Christians pray regularly for the power to walk in the Spirit and they go about attempting to put to death the deeds of the body as if they had an obligation to the flesh, and not by the Spirit of God, as Paul says in Romans 8:12.

To me it sounds like your definition of sanctification is: just obey. But my point is that sanctification has to be "just obey" in a way that glorifies God's grace in your life and not your own will power or effort. Because, again, I can find a Muslim who will prayerfully depend on Allah as he seeks to, by discipline and exertion, obey all that Allah has commanded in his process of 'sanctification.' Except for those 5 words that I mentioned at the beginning, your prescription for sanctification sounds like moralism, and anyone can do that. Anyone -- born again by the Spirit of God or still dead in their trespasses and sins -- can do things they don't want to do if they're really pricked in their conscience that they should do them. But that's not grace. That's law. And so that dishonors not only the finished work of Christ on the cross, but also the beauty and pleasantness of Christ Himself.

And so because those 5 words are the only distinction, I'd encourage you to think more about what you mean when you say them. When I say that I must be in prayerful dependence on the Spirit, I mean that I depend on the Spirit to present to me the glory of Christ with eyes to see, such that when I see and enjoy that glory, I am strengthened and motivated to go after more of Christ -- more of that glory. And I know that the way I'm going to get more of Him is by obeying Him. I hope, deep down, you believe some germ of that as well.

(Continued next comment)

Mike Riccardi said...

And brother, I find it troubling that you take issue with guys who say we are dependent each moment on the grace of God, who say that all our good works come from Christ, that we deserve no merit for them, and that the Gospel that saves is also the Gospel that sanctifies. That worries me, because it sounds like you're trying to take credit for your sanctification. I recognize that we actually do keep the commands Christ has given, but we don't get the credit for that. The only reason why we obey is because of the grace of God to us in Christ. And when folks mention Christ's imputed obedience or righteousness, they don't mean "Christ obeys, I don't obey." They mean (1) the obedience that I'm granted to perform was purchased by the Cross of Christ; and (2) the delight the Father has in my obedience is a delight in the righteousness of His Son which has been imputed to me. If I obey, Christ gets the credit. If I don't obey, I am responsible and at fault.

Anyway, I want to close with a paragraph from John Owen, who is by no means a quietist, a LGLG guy, or enamored with what would become Keswick doctrine. And he yet singles out the beholding of the glory of Christ as the fuel of all virtue in the believer's life.

I hope you'll receive his (as well as my) thoughts.

Let us live in the constant contemplation of the glory of Christ, and virtue will proceed from Him to repair all our decays, to renew a right spirit within us, and to cause us to abound in all duties of obedience…

It will fix the soul unto that object which is suited to give it delight, complacency, and satisfaction…

when the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and his glory, when the soul thereon cleaves unto him with intense affections, they will cast out, or not give admittance unto, those causes of spiritual weakness and indisposition…

And nothing will so much excite and encourage our souls hereunto as a constant view of Christ and His glory; everything in Him hath a constraining power hereunto, as is known to all who have any acquaintance with these things
.

Paul said...

Mike,

I just think a careful evaluation of your words reiterates what I am saying. But, may I ask you some questions? These following questions are a sincere attempt on my part to clarify the issue here. Really, I would be very curious as to how you would answer them. I am hoping you will be willing to pound a few more keys for me.

1. When we obey, is it really us obeying?

2. Does the sanctification process require exertion and effort on our part?

3. If the answers to one and two are “yes,” how do we know when we are doing one and two in our “own efforts” verses “in the Spirit.”?
(This question is the most important one).I was once in a church when an elder of that church prayed the following: "Lord forgive us of trying to obey in our own efforts." Afterward, I approached him and asked the following:"sounds like the Lord doesn't like that. How do we know when we are doing that so I can pray for forgiveness as you did? And, how do we cease from such behavior? He had no answer, so I'm asking you Mike.


4. Let’s say I am convicted that I like to pray in public to impress people, and I come to you about it; what say you?

5. Let’s say I am overwhelmed with anxiety and I come to you; what would you say?

6. Let’s say I doubt my salvation and I come to you; what do you tell me?

As a prerequisite, would you:

1. First make sure that my view of Scripture was redemptive rather than instructive?

2. Point me to gospel pictures in the Scriptures, or biblical instruction that directly addresses the problem?

3. What is the specific purpose of Scripture in hypotheticals 4-6?

Mike Riccardi said...

I question how helpful an exercise this will be, but I'll give it a shot.

1. When we obey, is it really us obeying?

Yes. God commands me to love my neighbor. If I do that, I did that. Yet I did that by nothing natural in me, but by the grace of God. My obedience is a gift, such that it is actually my obedience, but I cannot take credit for it. I must transfer all glory to Christ. If I fail to obey, that's my responsibility and my fault.

2. Does the sanctification process require exertion and effort on our part?

Yes, but not an uninformed, mindless exertion, but an exertion that is borne out of the conviction that I am God's child, that there is not one ounce of condemnation or wrath for me in Christ, that He is entirely for me, and that my exertion and effort is driven by the desire to get more of Him because He is the delight of my heart. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

3. If the answers to one and two are “yes,” how do we know when we are doing one and two in our “own efforts” verses “in the Spirit”?

To be thorough, this would require more than I think is appropriate for the comment thread. But I think the key issue is joy vs. burden. Fleshly "obedience," which, as I pointed out earlier, is really no obedience at all, is burdensome and begrudging. "I know that I should read my Bible today, but I'm so tired, and I just don't feel like it." Tell me you haven't felt like that one day or another. But then you consider, "But I know I'm supposed to. So I'll do it." I'm saying, that's not obedience.

Obedience "in the Spirit" is driven by delight. The grace of Christ to me is that He grants me to see more of Him -- more of the glory for which I was created to know and enjoy -- when I obey. And so in the above example, I can be convicted of my failure to desire seeing more of Him in the Bible, confess that lack of love to Him as sin, and pray for repentance: the appropriate hunger and desire for Him in His Word. And then go read. And perhaps even then I'm still "muscling it down" at the beginning, which is still sinful, yet I have confessed it and prayed for repentance and hope in the grace of God. Invariably with me, once I have done that,
I find in that process the joy that I lacked at the beginning. He grants it.

4. Let’s say...?

In the first two examples (exhibitionism and anxiety) I'm going to ask a lot of questions to understand the situation, but they will all be geared toward finding out what it is that you worship in doing these things. What has won your affections in a way that they should be won for Christ? What are you seeking satisfaction from in place of the only source of satisfaction: Christ Himself?

Once I can get you to see what you are worshiping, I'll seek to present Christ to you as very glorious and very satisfying, and will show you from the witness of the whole Bible how unbelievably glorious He is. Having done that, I'll take you to Matthew 6 and show how your Lord tells us not to be prideful and not to be anxious.

(Continued next comment)

Mike Riccardi said...

I will not simply bark commands at you. Chances are, if you've been a Christian for very long, you know those commands, have read them over and over again, and you're still sinning! That would just be like saying, "Hey, stop that!"

Going straight to Matthew 6 about pride and anxiety is not dealing with sin at the root, but at the fruit (John Owen's section in Mortification of Sin is excellent on this). Christ is not merely after people who aren't anxious, but He's after people who aren't anxious because of how they trust so surely in Him as their rock. He's not after merely humble or devout people, but He's after people who are humble and devout because they know the sweetness of knowing Him.

Now, if you were parading your pride and your anxiety I might take a different approach, but you said you come to me for counseling on this issue so I assume you think it's a bad thing already.

6. Let’s say I doubt my salvation and I come to you; what do you tell me?

I'd ask why. And then I'd probably ask you what you think the Gospel is, maybe a 60-second summary, and I'd go from there based on your response. Most likely, I'd present the Gospel to you and ask if you believe that, and probably land somewhere in 1 John.

1. First make sure that my view of Scripture was redemptive rather than instructive?

2. Point me to gospel pictures in the Scriptures, or biblical instruction that directly addresses the problem
?

Yeah I would, just like Paul first gives the doctrine / indicative (Eph 1-3; Rom 1-11; Col 1-3:4) and then gives the exhortation / imperative (Eph 4-6; Rom 12-16; Col 3:5-4).

3. What is the specific purpose of Scripture in hypotheticals 4-6?

I'm not sure I understand your question here, but I think by my above answers you'll be able to answer it. If I had to take a stab at it, I'd say: (4) Pride is worshiping yourself and the praise you receive from others; instead, worship Christ: be humble; (5) Anxiety is worshiping your circumstances; instead, worship Christ: do not fear; (6a) If you have reason to be assured, Christ's sacrifice on your behalf was perfect and effectual; trust in what He's done and let that give you rest and assurance; (6b) If you have reason to doubt, examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith and cast yourself entirely on the grace of God to be saved from your sin.

DJP said...

Paul, I'm not sure enough that I grasp your position well enough to say an unqualified yea or nay. I think more the former than the latter, with these three addenda:

First: I am already 95% inclined to reject any approach that can't simply affirm a dominical or apostolic imperative without volumes of peradventures or qualifiers. As I've said. I think you and I fully agree on this.

Second: kind of depends on what you mean by "law." If you mean "Mosaic" in any sense, we part company on that particular. If you mean "of Christ and His apostles," I'd cite 1 Cor. 9:20-21 and say "Amen."

Third: I don't really see the two approaches as being oil and water. Any approach to sanctification that doesn't have Christ, the Cross, and the Gospel at its very heart is an other-than-Christian approach. At the same time, any approach that casts those elements in such a way that all the many particulars of Scripture are thereby occluded is an other-than-fully-Biblical approach, and similarly to be rejected.

So where does that leave us, relative to each other?

Paul said...

Introduction:

Mike,

Thanks for your work here and I do think it’s helpful. My intention here is not to debate and win an argument, but rather to show the clear distinctions between Gospel Sanctification and orthodox Evangelicalism. This determines how we take the word of God and attempt to help Christians be more like Christ - a hefty consideration. CONTINUE

Paul said...

I. Christian Hedonism


First of all, you point to a major facet of GS; true obedience is always accompanied by delight (“But I think the key issue is joy vs. burden.” “Obedience ‘in the Spirit’ is driven by delight”) Most Evangelicals would not agree with this, and would consider such counsel to troubled Christians to be ill-advised. As Christians, we are called to die to self, and sometimes, lack of delight or desire can actually be indicative of the depth of the sacrifice. In fact (this is not a debate point, but a clarification point from my evangelical standpoint), when Christ informed Peter of the sacrifice he would make that would “glorify” Him, he stated what Peter’s mindset would be: “someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). Psalm 15:4 says that a righteous person keeps their vow “even when it hurts.” Such vow-keeping is actually the mark of a righteous person. But of course, no Evangelical would say that this is the case all of the time. However, Christ seems to say that the bottom line with him is the determination to obey regardless of what we feel like (Matthew 21:28-31, Luke 11:27,28). Historical Redemptive Hermeneutics, Christian Hedonism, and Heart Theology are the three main tenets that make-up GS and is also often accompanied by the fourth element of New Covenant Theology. Here we are discussing the Christian Hedonism element. It answers the question, “how do we know when our obedience is of Christ?” In fact, Piper even believes that delight MUST accompany true salvation at its conception (“Desiring God” pages 55 [twice on page 55], 61, 66, 67, 68, 69). I once knew of a situation where an individual who was in the worst sort of lifestyle imaginable, prayed for hours that God would save him and to no avail. How did he know that God would not save him? He could not see a “treasure chest of joy” that supposedly always accompanies salvation. He was being counseled by a proponent of CH. I object to such a sad commentary. We are not talking about Corvette Club debates about the various models, we are talking about theology that has eternal consequences. CONTINUE

DJP said...

PS to clarify myself: by "the two approaches" I mean what you're calling Gospel Sanctification, and what you seem to affirm, yourself.

Paul said...

II. Heart Theology

Secondly, We see your Heart Theology approach that seeks to determine heart idols through the analysis of desires (“In the first two examples [exhibitionism and anxiety] I'm going to ask a lot of questions to understand the situation, but they will all be geared toward finding out what it is that you worship in doing these things. What has won your affections in a way that they should be won for Christ? What are you seeking satisfaction from in place of the only source of satisfaction: Christ Himself?”)
Heart Theology is articulated by Paul David Tripp in “How People Change.” The questions that you speak of that are geared to finding out what the person is worshipping instead of Christ is what Tripp calls “x-ray questions.” In his book, a list of around 100 interpretive questions are suggested to determine what these desires are at any given time. Actually, some believe that this is a concept borrowed from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (Tony Robbins), and a leading group of Reformed elders closely associated with Paul Tripp have continually declined to deny that Heart Theology is based on this psychological theory of change (NLP). Tripp’s book (HPC) is based on David Powlison’s “Dynamics of Biblical Change” as taught at Westminster , and Dr. Ed Welch (an associate of Powlisons at CCEF, the counseling wing of Westminster) has a PhD in Neuro-Psychology, the source of research for NLP. Furthermore, this concept of determining desires that enable us to find and eliminate idols of the heart can (supposedly) be applied to preventing future sin by imagining life scenarios and how this imagery makes us feel. We can then ask ourselves x-ray questions (based on the feelings evoked) and determine idols of the heart that may trouble us in the future. A copy of the homework sheet from a Reformed church closely associated with Tripp that propagates this teaching can be sent upon request. CONTINUE

Paul said...

III.Redemptive Historical Perspective

Thirdly, your Chrstocentric (HRH) approach that teaches that the Scriptures are solely for the purpose of evoking a sense of desire for Christ is also evident. Look at Christ in the Scriptures, see His glory, and thereby reorienting our desires for Christ alone (“Once I can get you to see what you are worshiping, I'll seek to present Christ to you as very glorious and very satisfying, and will show you from the witness of the whole Bible how unbelievably glorious He is.”) Since the belief is that all humans are anthropologically driven by desires (Piper quotes Blaise Pascal on this), change the desires, and therefore change the behavior. Obviously (and again, supposedly), anytime we are merely following our desires, obedience should be a relatively passive affair.

Paul said...

DJP,

Workin' on it right now, it's the second part of my reply to Mark.

Mike Riccardi said...

Paul,

One point of argument, then my conclusion.

The instances you bring up about Peter going a place he doesn't want to go, or keeping a vow even when it hurts, all illustrate the dichotomy of the flesh and the Spirit. Being crucified upside down was not pleasant according to the flesh, yet Peter and countless other martyrs before AD 313 rejoiced in those circumstances. They delighted to be counted worthy to suffer shame for Christ's name (Ac 5:40-42). It was an unpleasant experience according to the flesh, and yet in those instances they delighted in Christ according to the Spirit. Pruning is a painful activity according to the flesh, but a delightful one according to the Spirit (cf. John 15).

Now, my concluding remarks to you.

I think in some places you don't really understand what the folks you're arguing against are saying, because at times you're mixing categories, assuming a logical connection from A to B when there isn't one, and attributing positions to me that I don't hold.

Yet in other places it's plain that you understand your opponents just fine and disagree with them, but you're just wrong. You haven't presented anything that is Biblically compelling to make me think otherwise.

I reaffirm what I said earlier about hoping you meditate on what you mean by "prayerful dependence on the Spirit," as that is the only phrase that makes your definition of sanctification Christian in any way, and your other comments seem to minimize it quite a bit. I think if you think about it enough, you'll wind up 1) saying something similar to 2Cor 3:18, or 2) chucking that phrase altogether, making your definition of sanctification consistently unChristian.

Also, please don't call the position you're espousing the historic, orthodox Evangelical perspective, because it's plain that history is on the side of obedience as a duty of delight. The John Owen quote I gave before demonstrates this, certainly this is abundantly manifest in Jonathan Edwards, you see it in the Institutes, and you couldn't possibly escape it in the Puritan prayers in the Valley of Vision. And insofar as you'd allow an anachronistic use of the term Evangelical, Augustine was brimming with the centrality of the affections, delight, and joy in the Christian life. Of course they were all following the Apostle Paul, the Lord Jesus, King David, and the other writers of Scripture.

It's almost unthinkable to me that any Christian could use the term "Gospel" in a pejorative sense. Yes, I believe that the Gospel that saves is the Gospel that sanctifies. I can't even comprehend why someone who has tasted the sweetness of knowing Christ would rebuff at such a statement. I think the position you're espousing will ultimately spend itself attempting to steal the glory of Christ in sanctification and bring it to oneself. Of course you don't believe this, or you'd abandon the position, but I believe it's true nonetheless, and invite you to consider it honestly, and with an open Bible.

Nevertheless, by God's grace, I believe this discussion has been productive insofar as it has helped me think through and articulate these things, increasing my own joy in Christ's gracious work in my life, both in my justification and now in my sanctification. And I hope that both positions have been made clear to those reading and not commenting, such that they might be benefited by Biblically evaluating each position.

That's all for me.

Paul said...

Mike,
Thank you for those words. I am working on the flip side of this. You say something very key here and I respect you for it:"Yes, I believe that the Gospel that saves is the Gospel that sanctifies." Christians need to thoroughly understand what Piper, Tripp, Keller, Horton, and many others mean by this. I only ask people to really think about the Horton quote that I posted above, it should give folks serious pause, words mean things. As far as your other comments, I am going to pause and post several statements by JC Ryle and RC Sproul. I think I am in good company here.

DJP said...

Paul, let me quickly discourage you from doing that, please.

I don't want these meta's to become "the battle of the quotations." There's already been more of that here than I'd prefer.

You say and back up what you think, please. That's what a meta is about. Otherwise, start a blog, write posts, and I'm sure folks would be interested in going and reading.

Paul said...

"Pleasing God" chapter 15, RC Sproul. Mike, I have to believe that you would be in strong disagreement with this quote. Tell me what you think.

"Sanctification is cooperative. There are two partners involved in the work. I must work and God will work. If ever the extra-biblical maxim, "God helps those who help themselves," had any truth, it is at this point. We are not called to sit back and let God do all the work. We are called to work, and to work hard. To work something out with devout and conscientious rigor. It is a work with care, with a profound concern with the end result."

Paul said...

DJP,

Ooops sorry. Ok, I will only cite the one. But I think it is a good one for clarification--but again, sorry, I didn't see your comment untill it was too late.

Mike Riccardi said...

Tell me what you think.

I think you really want to argue against something, even if that's not what people are saying, and so you read what people write with a bias. I think you've done that with Piper's message at T4G over at your blog, and you've done it here with me.

Also, based on your suspicion that I disagree with that paragraph, I think that you haven't read very much of what I've written here. Aside from the sentence in which he quotes Benjamin Franklin, I agree with what Sproul said. I suggest that you take some time and re-read my comments without trying to find an arguing point for what seems to be your pet issue.

Paul, seriously brother, the conversation is over. I'd kindly ask you to refrain from further attributing positions to me that I don't hold.

Paul said...

Mike,

My perspective on this issue comes from hundreds of hours of study and hundreds of hours discussing this issue with elders closely associated with John Piper and Paul Tripp. People are just not answering the hard questions in regard to this doctrine. What I wish is that someone would ask Horton what he means exactly by the above quote and write a post on that.

DJP said...

What'd I miss? Paul has no profile, but has a blog? Is there a profile somewhere?

Lynda O said...

DJP -- google '"gospel sanctification" john piper' and that blog shows up. I saw it the other day, and it looked like it was the same Paul.

Paul said...

Wow, I'm disappointed Mike. I really didn't want this to be about me. If I would have wanted to promote my blog here, I would have posted the links myself. I wanted this to be an unbiased discussion where perhaps someone could show me a perspective on this issue that I have missed.
Very well, the first link you posted is ok, it's true, I do believe that GS is an antinomian doctrine. However, the second link you posted is a good, concise view in regard to the GS view of imperatives. Thirdly, my book on GS is to the right column and is free because the second addition is in the hands of editors and will be out in a couple of months.
Unfortunately, it is the only work out that I know of in regard to GS-I hope that will change.

Mike Riccardi said...

Dan,

I just had no idea what in the world G4 was, so I googled, "John Piper G4 conference," and Paul's blog showed up. I suppose he meant T4G.

DJP said...

Out-Googled.

Twice.

)c:

DJP said...

Gotta give it to Paul for being the anti-Martuneac, though.

Mike Riccardi said...

I wanted this to be an unbiased discussion where perhaps someone could show me a perspective on this issue that I have missed.

Dude, no you didn't. I hate the false piety gag. You didn't come here and say, "I've done quite a bit of study on what I think is a grandchild of Keswick theology, and I'm wondering if you good folks might give your opinion on whether my conclusions are valid."

You came by scoffing that a D.A. Carson disciple was writing against a doctrine you believe D.A. Carson to espouse, showing pretty early on that either (1) one of the greatest minds in Evangelicalism can't get consistent with himself -- and that nobody he knows can help him out with it -- or the much more likely: (2) you don't understand the topic as well as you think you do.

Then you moved on to your "New Calvinism" and "neo-Reformed" diatribes.

Then, when you finally addressed me, you basically said, "I disagree." No argument, just you disagreed.

And you're coming here looking to learn and have your blind spots cleared up? Don't think so, man. This is your pet issue and you saw this thread as your platform and your bullhorn.

If the reason for your profile being not available is that you didn't want to draw attention to yourself, then yes, I along with Dan give you props for being the anti-Martuneac. And I even appreciate the dialogue starting with your 3:04 PM comment on 6/3.

But none of your comments gave me the slightest impression that you were hoping to be shown wrong, but were hoping to show how wrong, "plain embarrassing," "disturbing," "wacky," "antinomian," "goofy," this "half-gospel," "non-Lordship" "neo-Reformed garbage" is, as your blog says.

Paul said...

Mike,
Thanks for pointing out that error. I have changed it to T4G. What was I thinking? Thanks again.
paul

Paul said...

Mike,

""I've done quite a bit of study on what I think is a grandchild of Keswick theology, and I'm wondering if you good folks might give your opinion on whether my conclusions are valid."
I have no idea of what kind of "Let go and let God theology" Keswick theology is. Not only that, the title has a question mark, making it unclear as to what the author's position is on that aspect.
Mike, I will take you last comments under advisement, but I think some of your judgments regarding my heart are a bit presumptuous.

Terry Rayburn said...

Out-Googled.

Twice.

)c:


I hear Whistling Guy from the old Clint Eastwood Westerns in the background, dust kicking up, horses snorting, sarapes being thrown back, eyes narrowing and glinting in the hot sun, a bead of sweat drifting down a forehead.

DFH said...

"Names associated with the movement include ... Frances Havergal,"

She died in 1879. The first Keswick Convention was in 1875.

Do I detect an anachronism?

Lynda O said...

Not at all, really. J.C. Ryle's "Holiness," written in response to the Keswick movement, was published in 1877 -- so clearly the movement was making inroads in the 1870s, during Havergal's lifetime.

Paul said...

Lynda O,

I didn't know that Ryle's writings on Holiness was a response to the Keswick movement. Could you point me to some references on that?
Thanks,
paul