26 January 2011

Open Letter to Michael Horton

by Frank Turk

Dear Dr. Horton:

First of all, I am certain that those opening words have already sent some people into apoplexy because let's face it: my open letters have been written to a rogues' gallery of self-identified Christians who are doing serious harm to the name of Christ and the definition of the Gospel, and those people need to repent -- so far. Thus, some people are already grinding their axes and calling out their kin with torches and pitchforks because to write to you in that context is a grievous error. My hope is that I can air what I see as reasonable questions and critiques for you and your cohorts at the White Horse Inn.  My thought is that in the name of doing something necessary and right, I think you have, over time, created something you do not intend.

So to that end, let me thank you for decades of brilliant dialogue and broadcast content regarding true orthodoxy and the centrality of the Gospel as the defining matter of the Christian faith. There are a lot of allegedly-apologetic radio shows and podcasts, but none of them frankly affect as many people as deeply and drastically as the conversation which is known as the White Horse Inn has affected conscientious, conservative people since its first broadcasting 1990. WHI has been talking seriously and soberly about the faith longer than I have been a Christian, so when I come to it I come with respect and admiration.

I have been composing this letter in my head for probably two years now, so I can think of about a dozen ways to enter into what I'd like to bring to you today.  I'll choose a way which seems best: with your own words.

The following is a transcript of the podcast from 01 Jan 2011:

[Starting 25:35]
Mike Horton (MH): The Gospel can't be lived. It's the Law that's lived. We obey the commands that we find in Scripture, we do not—the Gospel is not anything for us to do. The Gospel is an announcement for us to take to the world, and on the basis of that Gospel we do live differently in the world, but that isn't itself the content of the Gospel: it is the effect of the Gospel.

Kim Riddlebarger (KR): I think you made a brilliant point. I know there will be a number of people who will hear us, who are familiar with us, and they'll say to themselves, "well, there they go, they've been on the air two minutes talking about the Great Commission, and they're back to Law and Gospel again!" But your point is absolutely spot-on: we believe the Gospel, we obey the Law—and if you are not clear about that, then you're going to go off on a mission and as you risk, as Jesus warned, making people more fit for Hell than they were before. If you're telling people that the Gospel is doing certain things, acting certain way, behaving in a certain way, then you're just accelerating their demise and decline.

Ken Jones (KJ): One of the Dangers associated with that is, if you talk about "living the Gospel," I think most evangelicals would acknowledge their own short-comings in various areas, so therefore their failure becomes a failure of the Gospel. It becomes the Gospel's failure. What they mean is we live in light of the Gospel, we live because of the Gospel . . .

MH: Rooted and grounded.

KR: . . . but they have to start saying that.

KJ: Yes, they do—they do. And the confusion is that, so that even when my life doesn't match up (which it seldom does—this is the on-going process of sanctification) that's no reflection on the Gospel.

MH: In fact, the Gospel is so great that it is the announcement of the perfect work of Christ which isn't diminished by my fails. It is exactly what I need in my failures, even my failures to live out the implications in response to the Gospel. It even covers my failures to do that! And as longs you have a Gospel that is perfect and complete, because it's about someone else, you can always get back up again after you fall and embrace that Gospel. It puts wind in your sails so that you can take it to the ends of the world even though you are a miserable sinner yourself.

Here's another excerpt from a previous podcast 18 Dec 2010:
[Starts about 20:25]
KR: All I can say is, Lord have mercy upon that person who looks to me to be the Gospel.

Rod Rosenblatt (RR): Right!

MH: You know, I have to say, no matter how you answer, if you're asked the sort of textbook doctrine question, "do you believe you are saved by works or by grace," of course: saved by grace—once you get out of the realm, and you have phrases like, "be the Gospel," "live the Gospel," you have to realize that the very phrase "be the Gospel" or "live the Gospel" is equivalent to "we are saved by works."

And last of all, from that same podcast:
[Starts about 22:00]
MH: Think about the criteria Paul lays out in the pastorals for ministers. I've never seen "relational" in there—and now of course, this is going to sound like "typical" . . .

RR: . . . Reformed and Lutheran . . .

MH: . . . yeah-yeah: you just . . .

RR: . . . don't get it.

MH: 'cause you guys really are the least-relational group we've ever seen on the planet. Now: we have problems in that area, and there are passages in Scripture that talk about hospitality, generosity, and all sorts of things that we need to work on in our traditions. But if you don't have hospitality, and you don't have generosity, and you don't have relationally (whatever that means) you don't have kindness, gentleness, humility—all of those qualities that are so important for inter-personal relationships, you're not healthy, and you don't have a healthy church. If you don't have the preaching of the Gospel, you don't have a church.

Among all the things you say clearly and continuously, these few statements seem to lay out some of the things which, I think, are meant for good and are meant from a right motive -- but say something instead which doesn't turn out as well as one would hope. I wonder if you have put these clear moments together in your analysis for the White Horse Inn's impact on the evangelistic, apologetic, and ecclesiastical environment you have helped create in the last 20 years.

Now: why bring it up? I actually have three reasons.

The first is a general complaint: I think you fellows have taken the right-minded theological distinction "Law and Gospel" too far; you have made all of human life and God's interactions with man into either an imperative or an indicative — missing the point that some things in life (especially in the Christian life, and in Christian theological anthropology) fall under the subjunctive mood.

For example, Hebrews 12:1 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Now, I realize that the hortatory subjective is a way to "command one's self" as they say, but let's recognize something here: that kind of command is not external or decreed but in fact internal and voluntary, speaking to a willingness and not merely to submission to some exterior force or authority. Here the writer of Hebrews — someone we must agree is not a pelagian or syncretist or closet Roman Catholic or any sort of denier of the Gospel — really says, "somehow we can relate to the life of faith, and relate to Christ himself, and want to do what the faithful have always done."

There is much to be gained from the Law/Gospel, imperative/indicative distinction in Scripture, but not everything is resolved by it. And one of the things which is not resolved by it is what manner of people the Gospel makes us - which is actually part and parcel of the Good News.

This brings me to my second concern: while you are right that Christ died objectively, the declaration that Christ died for us is actually the Gospel. In that, consider Heb 10 that after the writer extolls the finished work of Christ he says
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water
For this writer, the Gospel results in something more than just a declaration of righteousness: it results in the advantages of declared righteousness. Because in the imperative/indicative view we are either doing what we must or receiving what we are given, you miss that we are also changed in affections and inclinations. That leads to a Gospel which sees fruit as optional.

The kind of church your discussion constantly intimates (and above: explicitly accepts) is a church where the Gospel is made the centerpiece alone on the table. The Gospel is made into something done, but somehow the idea that it is done for us gets neglected — and it becomes something we see, but somehow not look to and rejoice in.

I am sure that stings a little, but often WHI denigrates people who would say in concrete ways that they enjoy the Gospel — that they live for it and by it and through it. Now, I realize that we can't take everyone at their word, but do you really think that, for example, the young fellow who says we have to love people in order to save them from sin really means that there is no reference to Christ on a Cross? It may be true — he may have meant that, and I have dialogued with a lot of people who would say that. But I have met far more who would say they have to "live the Gospel," and after unpacking that with them it turns out that they mean something a lot more like Hebrews 11:13-16 than something like the power of positive thinking. They mean to live as if the Gospel is true.

Now: Pastor Jones and Dr. Riddlebarger certainly make that clarification in the podcasts I transcripted here — that is, that people ought to find a better way to say that if that's what they mean. Maybe that's true — maybe what they're saying is a lot sloppier than 1 John 1:7, but maybe not: maybe what is in fact going on is that sometimes us smart people want everyone to be as keen on systematics as we are — forgetting that systematics are a kind of legalism if they are taken too far.

I think that Jesus didn't want to make us into people who knew everything about Him and then buried it in our library because he is a hard man who reaps where he did not sow. He wanted — that is, he wants — us to be people who will sweep the whole house to find a lost penny, and people who will buy the whole plot of land even thought the treasure is only in part of it. That is: we will live because the Gospel is true — there is good news not just apart from us but for our sake. It changes the world from "You must not" or "you must" to "I shall" and "let us."

Now, again: in the above podcast transcripts, I think you get it almost right: you say there are "consequences" to the Gospel. But they are not just likely or possible: they are necessary consequences of the Gospel. That is: the Gospel is not actually present if these things are not working out. They may not be perfected and completely worked out, but they are necessarily present. That highlight of being in Christ is in John's letters, and evident in what Paul called the fruit of the Spirit right there in Galatians. This is who you will be if the Gospel is for you and the Spirit is in you.

So to this end, I think you guys allow for a lot of fruitlessness by default — and it comes across in the culture of the people who listen to you a lot and are disaffected by their local church. They don't see it the way John saw it: they see it as wanting "basic Christianity" to want the Gospel — the perfect Gospel, perfectly declared — with a willingness to bypass fellowship (including the sacraments) to get it, usually via podcasts and books.

That brings me to my last point, which lands in my backyard and for which I usually take a lot of flack: this culture is the culture of the discernment blogosphere, and I think you guys need to own up to your contribution there in order to help clean it up.



Because you probably have never read anything by me before, let me lay all of this complaint out plainly so that you can grasp what I mean. What I am not talking about is people who are doing the legitimate work of elders who are accountable in their local churches, who are usually elders, and who display openness and transparency about their character and ministry by not hiding behind an alias or an internet nickname. What I am talking about is the avalanche of people who populate the internet via discussion boards, blogs, and social media who frequently demonstrate all the love and real compassion of a rock through one's window. They are people who, on paper, make a sound confession of faith, down to the mint and the cumin, and wouldn't know what to do if their Hindu neighbor invited them to a birthday party on Sunday morning — or how to turn the other cheek in order to make a foothold for the opportunity to share the Gospel. They usually don't attend church because they can't find one which is up to their doctrine snuff, and the reason is that they have made themselves into a private magisterium. They have never said or written anything for which they would apologize or reconsider because they have never been wrong.

You have seen some of them, I am sure. The reason I am suggesting that they are somehow an effect you ought to own a little is that they speak in the theological idioms of the White Horse Inn. They are very keen on the Law/Gospel distinction to a fault; they are very keen on needing a new reformation; an obsession with the "5 Solas". Because they are bad emulations of your good example, I suggest you should speak to them for a while to help them come around.

See: in that last excerpt, when you say that it's only "unhealthy" to have none of the fruit of the Spirit if you have a pure Gospel, you give this sort of "christianity" a free pass. You give this kind of faith the endorsement James only gives to the faith which saves — a faith which matures under trial rather than hunkering down and bunkering up, and which turns a brother away from sin rather than branding him a heretic on the first pass.

It is the open belief that one can be an "unhealthy Christian," when one is in fact flying in the face of 1 John 4:11-12 (among other passages), that is evident among the listeners to WHI: as long as I have a comprehensive understanding of Christ's transaction for sinners which leaves the sinner with nothing but grace, I'm a decent disciple. I can humbly count myself saved (passive voice, indicative mood). And they learned it from 4 very bright and winsome men who also, to some extent, believe it.

I usually try to shut it down after 3 pages, and I'm up to 6 now so let me conclude briefly: after 20 years, I think we can safely say that we know what we ought to believe, and why we ought to believe it. But I think we have a problem now that is foundational: what does it mean to "believe"? Does it mean that we can recite the catechism — or is that related to belief in the way that the instructions for a Lego kit are related to the final toy, fully constructed? Does it mean we only know about something (an objective fact in history no less), or that we are actually now in that story? Does it mean Christ's wounds are evident to us — or that we are now, for the sake of the church and those called to it but not yet in, to suffer personally to fill up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions?

I ask because I think you are my brother in Christ, and I think these problems are not small problems. And I also think you're not one to see them as small. I believe you when you say you are concerned for the health of the church, and I am with you. However, I think God's prescription for what ails us is the whole Gospel, the whole great and good news, and the whole kit of necessary effects Christ brings to us.

Whether you respond or not, I close in admiration of you and your years of faithfulness, and I hope this letter finds you in God's good graces.







298 comments:

1 – 200 of 298   Newer›   Newest»
Patience said...

Frank, I thank God for your graciousness and wisdom.

RealityCheck said...

“FWIW, no matter who you are, I promise you that you will not like Wednesday's Open Letter at Team Pyro.”

Wrong! I liked it very much, even while hiding behind an alias ;-), and I look forward to Dr. Horton’s response (and I do think he will respond).

Stephen said...

These "open letters" are a real blessing.

They demonstrate a kind, fair, and firmly God honouring approach to dealing with important issues, and are a good Christian testimony which is both admonishing and encouraging.

Thank you!

LORD bless.

aztexan said...

I'm not a WHI listener or Horton fan, and maybe that's why I'm a bit lost here. Perhaps reading Horton's response will clear up for me what, exactly, you are taking issue with. Is this WHI "inside baseball"? Presently I'm not sure I fully "get it."

Anyhow, *high five* for the epic word-count!

Mark | hereiblog said...

You're wrong, Frank. I did like this letter.

You're old friend, johnMark.

:)

Tom Chantry said...

There is much to think through here - it is a very thoughtful formulation of a problem I have known for a long time. Allow me to supply a supporting anecdote:

A little more than a decade ago I had a conversation with a pastor who was a great devotee of WHI. He was fresh from conversation with the WHI guys, and he was loudly insisting that no one knows what the gospel is any more. He kept insisting that various people tell him what the gospel is, and then telling each of them that they (solid, biblical pastors all) didn’t know what the gospel is.

One of the answers given was, “Christ died for our sins, that if we believe in Him we might be saved.”

“That’s not the gospel!” he insisted. When challenged then to tell us all what the gospel is, he replied, “Jesus died and rose again - that’s the gospel.”

Now I suppose that if you wish to argue that those two historical realities comprise the “news” of Christ, you may have a point, but is that really what Paul said in I Corinthians 15? Didn’t he at least say, “Christ died for our sins”?

Or as Frank put it here, “while you are right that Christ died objectively, the declaration that Christ died for us is actually the Gospel."

I would contend that there is no gospel message without three elements: 1. a declaration of the historical facts of Christ’s death and resurrection, 2. an explanation of why - that He died for the sins of others and rose to grant eternal life, and 3. a challenge to respond in repentance and faith.

I know that the WHI guys would all agree with that theological explanation of the gospel, and probably also with the necessity of faith and repentance. But their dogged insistence on defining the gospel solely in terms of its historical content has rendered much Reformed preaching anemic and powerless. It is part of a broader problem within modern Presbyterianism having to do with the nature of gospel preaching, and it runs the risk of becoming a functional antinomianism.

Thomas Louw said...

“It is not a question of finding the place where God wants you to be, but being the person he wants you to be…He has told you everything for which he holds you responsible. It is all there in black and white. He has revealed his purpose for your life. Is your chief goal each morning to glorify God and to enjoy Him or to glorify and enjoy yourself, taking God as seriously as His services justify in your pursuit of happiness…”


Michael Horton

Found this quote of Dr Horton on Josh Mack’s blog.


Maybe the post is too long for my attention span but, I think I understand it.
(I know Horton is adressing somethingelse here but, he shines some light on mans responsibilty to)

Don’t the few sentences above defend Dr Horton?

Doesn’t it imply that he actually believes something must done by us?

Doesn’t the pharse by Horton
“He has told you everything for which he holds you responsible”
show he takes Romans 6-8 as seriously as Romans 1-5?

(Please, if I misunderstood your post try putting it in one statement)

Michael said...

Small nit -- somehow you jumped into a worm hole and was able to listen to a podcast from December of this year.

(I'd like a detailed post on how to do that.)

piluTLight said...

I like Horton, but I love this letter.

Jerry Wragg said...

Thank you, Frank. You've captured so many of my concerns over the years and insightfully brought them together with love and clarity.

Barbara said...

Tom Chantry said, It is part of a broader problem within modern Presbyterianism having to do with the nature of gospel preaching, and it runs the risk of becoming a functional antinomianism.

Thank you! Lately I've been noticing a lot less of a call to repentance in the Reformed and especially PCA camps and a greater resting in the knowledge of the Gospel but very little encouragement to actually come to the person of Christ to be cleansed and made new. I thought the purpose of the Gospel was to actually and in reality bring people to God.

Arthur Sido said...

Excellent letter and quite fair. I used to be a weekly listener to the WHI but grew weary of the "law and Gospel" and also the seeming response that every problem in the church can be solved by applying more "Word and Sacrament", as if the sum total of the Christian life is listening to a sermon a couple times a week and taking what is offered on the plate passed in front of you. I am eager to see what response you get, I doubt you will hear from Dr. Horton directly but I am quite sure some of the devotees of the WHI (someone with the initials RSC perhaps?) will have something to say.

Thomas Louw said...

I think the problem is striking the best balance, between acting out our belief and believing them.
The question is, do we believe it if we don’t act on them?

We sometimes fall into one of two traps,
we focus on the teaching and it never goes into practice or
we focus on pragmatism and never ground it in solid teaching.

It is almost like neglecting prayer and concentrating on Bible study or praying so much we never study the Bible.

Wayne Mack once said if you haven’t done what your learned you don’t know it yet or something along those lines.

Balance is the key, the question is how do put the key in the lock and turn it?

Charlie J. Ray said...

You said, For this writer, the Gospel results in something more than just a declaration of righteousness: it results in the advantages of declared righteousness. Because in the imperative/indicative view we are either doing what we must or receiving what we are given, you miss that we are also changed in affections and inclinations. That leads to a Gospel which sees fruit as optional.

Frankly, this is why Baptists don't get it and why "reformed" Baptists are not "Reformed" at all. Basically, calvinistic/particular Baptists still have the taint of the Anabaptists in their midst. If the Gospel is about "transformation" or "change" then what you have done is no different from a Roman Catholic or an Anabaptist who confuses sanctification with justification.

Just how "changed" do you need to be to be "justified" anyway? The fact is the Gospel is God's promise to save sinners who deserve hell. At no point do you ever get beyond the point of needing mercy. Your justification is declared and objective from the beginning of your walk to the end. In fact, if not for God's promise to save, He could justly damn the most sanctified Christian on earth today and be perfectly just in doing so.

The fact that you place more emphasis on transformation than on justification is why the vast majority of so-called "reformed" Baptists today have more in common with Arminians and Roman Catholics than with the Protestant Reformation. I suspect it is because they have no idea about covenant theology or the sacraments, both of which begin with election, not sanctification.

Is sanctification optional? No, that's a straw man argument on your part. But neither is sanctification the foundation or basis for our justification or our salvation! Sanctification simply makes our witness before men credible. Our profession of faith is credible before men and the church because we are progressively being sanctified. Coram Deo we deserve hell from the get go. In the face of God the only means of justification is either a score of 100% on the righteousness scale or absolute failure. BUZZZ... You failed from the get go. You were born guilty of original sin. Ah, another departure from Reformed theology on your part.

I have strong disagreements with Horton on some of his more ecumenical issues. But the Law/Gospel distinction is not one of them. Frankly, an exhortation is an imperative and is still law. If you "ought" to do something, it is still LAW. That you try to equivocate on this is revealing, Frank.

If you knew the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, you would know this:

A general Confession to be said of the whole Congregation after the Minister, all kneeling.
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou them that are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.


And you are correct. When you start in the direction of heresy you can expect me to show up with the pitch fork and the torch. Count on it, my Anabaptist friend.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Tom Chantry has said,

I would contend that there is no gospel message without three elements: 1. a declaration of the historical facts of Christ’s death and resurrection, 2. an explanation of why - that He died for the sins of others and rose to grant eternal life, and 3. a challenge to respond in repentance and faith.

Point three is LAW. So Chantry thinks the Gospel is the Law?

Confusing the Law and the Gospel is inexcusable. I would agree that we ought to preach both Law and Gospel. However, if you don't know the difference between the two I have to wonder if you're a Christian at all?

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Occasionally, however, some particular Baptists get the Gospel right:

Getting the Gospel Right, by Jonathan Akin at Baptist21.com

Tom Chantry said...

Wow, Charlie. Wow. I suppose Mike Horton might disagree with my formulation. Maybe not, though, since I wasn't defining the gospel so much as saying what a "gospel message" should contain. I'm not quite sure about that. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't wonder if I'm a Christian at all. What a pitifully tiny kingdom.

Chris Tolbert said...

Bro. Frank,

I have greatly benefited from reading your open letters. There is a graciousness, but at the same time a seriousness in light of what is at stake. With that said, in my own personal walk, my eyes are being opened to the importance of prayer, especially deep, intense prayer followed by waiting on the Lord for an answer. So I am wondering, how much time you spend in prayer regarding these open letters?

Disclaimer: I've got no ax to grind. The motivation for this question is my own personal benefit, not the defense of any of the recipients of your letters. It's so hard to convey tone online and I don't want you to think I'm implying anything or being sarcastic or anything of the sort.

God bless!

Tom Chantry said...

Incidentally, I’m saying nothing that John Carrick didn’t say in The Imperative of Preaching. Oh, but Carrick is an Anabaptist, right?

Daryl said...

Well Charlie certainly embodies Frank's concern...

Excellent article Frank. I'm among those who came to believe the doctrines of grace through the ministry of the WHI, but who stopped listening for the very reasons you mention.

It took me some time to learn that it's not enough to know, but it must become evident. And sometimes I still stray that way, but that's on me, not someone else...

So I'm with you on the gratefulness and the concern.

Well said, very gracious without losing the importance of the issue.

Thanks.

David Regier said...

Is not the kingdom like a potato or a carrot?

Did not the wise man dig his house into the rock?

Frank Turk said...

Note to Dr. Horton:

I also blame you for the superstition surrounding the Anabaptist boogie man, but my letter was already too long. :-)

Alex Guggenheim said...

The conversation you are responding to in light of the sum total of their offerings on the topic seem too isolated, thereby too magnified. There are some worthwhile nuances that can have strong implications if not acknowledged and qualified but I don't believe their urgency is quite to the level it is being treated in the letter.
Nevertheless the thoughtfulness and concern of the open letter regarding the clarity and purity of the gospel is without criticism.

Fred Butler said...

Does Charles understand who it is he is tussling with? I'll pour myself another cup of coffee and sit back.

DJP said...

As I've already told you privately Frank, excellent letter.

If I can be forgiven for saying so, this is a nexus I labor long and hard at in my upcoming book.

Frank Turk said...

Our Friend, Mentor and Seminal Gadfly John Calvin wrote this:

By the phrase born again is expressed not the correction of one part, but the renovation of the whole nature. Hence it follows, that there is nothing in us that is not sinful; for if reformation is necessary in the whole and in each part, corruption must have been spread throughout. On this point we shall soon have occasion to speak more largely. Erasmus, adopting the opinion of Cyril, has improperly translated the adverb ἄνωθεν, from above, and renders the clause thus: unless a man be born from above. The Greek word, I own, is ambiguous; but we know that Christ conversed with Nicodemus in the Hebrew language. There would then have been no room for the ambiguity which occasioned the mistake of Nicodemus and led him into childish scruples about a second birth of the flesh. He therefore understood Christ to have said nothing else than that a man must be born again, before he is admitted into the kingdom of God.

[Commentary on John, Chpt 3.3]

He was, therefore, I guess, an anabaptist.

David Regier said...

They used to call me the Anabaptist Boogie Man, but I left that band. Anabaptists are terrible dancers.

Charlie J. Ray said...

So I guess it's not doctrine that really matters but transformation? Hmmm. Another Roman Catholic argument it seems.

Your comments only prove that you have more in common with Rome than with Geneva or Wittenberg.

As the confession of sins from the 1662 proves, the magisterial reformation is not antinomian. But the fact that you accuse Horton of antinomianism shows that you don't understand the purpose of either Law OR Gospel.

The Law does not imply that you have the ability to keep it. That's why we pray for God's graces to do what He commands. Pelagianism rears its ugly head again!

In fact, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer includes a reading of the 10 commandments before the communion service. After each command the prayer is read:

Lord have mercy upon us and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Salvation is all of mercy and none of your self-generated efforts. That's synergistic theology, not monergistic. This is another reason why calvinistic Baptists are inconsistent.

Charlie

Gov98 said...

Point three is LAW. So Chantry thinks the Gospel is the Law?

So when Christ said Repent and believe he was preaching the law?

When Peter said Repent and be baptized he was preaching the law?

The fact that you place more emphasis on transformation than on justification is why the vast majority of so-called "reformed" Baptists today have more in common with Arminians and Roman Catholics than with the Protestant Reformation. I suspect it is because they have no idea about covenant theology or the sacraments, both of which begin with election, not sanctification.

Not to speak for Frank, but this is both a Premise FAIL and a logic FAIL. I mean words are strung together as sentences and sentences as paragraphs, but it jumps from point A to point B with no logical basis.

So because Works don't Save, to say that if someone goes unchanged by the gospel means there are huge doubts about their salvation is incorrect? So if someone says Faith without Works is dead he is a heathen or something...okay, I guess James wasn't saved either.

Gov98 said...

As the confession of sins from the 1662 proves

Let me explain this to non-Baptists (at least for me), when a person says Roman Catholic Magisterium says X so this proves Y

When a person says Anglican Book of Common Prayers says X so this proves Y

When a person says Luther says X so this proves Y

When a Presbyterian says the Westminster Confession of Faith says X so this proves Y

The only thing, that this proves (to me) is that the person is not getting it. Do you have any Bible for that point you just made, because I mean I think you would use it, I mean if you could actually you know prove that point from Scripture.

You know, like if someone is trying to prove that the Constitution actually says Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of Abortion, yes this person could cite some muddled up Supreme Court case OR you know I could actually cite the actual Constitution if it were actually there, but it isn't, because it ain't.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Frank, the last time I checked, the change of nature from "totally depraved" to "a new creature" in Christ Jesus is not the same thing as being deserving of heaven since in fact the corrupt nature is still there.

Unless of course, you're claiming to be sinless?

DJP said...

Charlie J. Ray takes an early lead in the silliest comment of the meta, with potential to derail. If history's any indicator, Guggenheim will try to give him a run, particularly if he can complain about the tone or punctuation/spacing of responses to him.

So many problems can be prevented by careful reading.

Here's what Frank wrote: "But they are not just likely or possible: they are necessary consequences of the Gospel."

Ah. Necessary consequence. Not component in securing justification. Utterly, totally different from Romanism.

Simple! And there goes all of Ray's objection.

Next?

DJP said...

...that is, if that point were a real concern. If so, it was anticipated, and is (re-)resolved.

Charlie J. Ray said...

And of course, you conveniently forgot to mention that Calvin himself distinguishes between being born again and the "process" of sanctification, which follows after regeneration. Regeneration is obviously not the same thing as "entire sanctification" as you imply. That's a Wesleyan and Arminian doctrine. I graduated from an Arminian college and a Wesleyan seminary. I can smell semi-pelagianism from a mile away.

Calvin says:

To SEE the kingdom of God is of the same meaning as to enter into the kingdom of God, as we shall immediately perceive from the context. But they are mistaken who suppose that the kingdom of God means Heaven; for it rather means the spiritual life, which is begun by faith in this world, and gradually increases every day according to the continued progress of faith. So the meaning is, that no man can be truly united to the Church, so as to be reckoned among the children of God, until he has been previously renewed. This expression shows briefly what is the beginning of Christianity, and at the same time teaches us, that we are born exiles and utterly alienated from the kingdom of God, and that there is a perpetual state of variance between God and us, until he makes us altogether different by our being born again; for the statement is general, and comprehends the whole human race. If Christ had said to one person, or to a few individuals, that they could not enter into heaven, unless they had been previously born again, we might have supposed that it was only certain characters that were pointed out, but he speaks of all without exception; for the language is unlimited, and is of the same import with such universal terms as these: Whosoever shall not be born again cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Now, if you would read Calvin from a magisterial Reformation perspective instead of an Anabaptist perspective you wouldn't prooftext him out of context.

Charlie

rbcbob.1 said...

It is a major shift of debate to move from the gospel IS to the gospel involves or what believing the gospel results in.

1. The phrase “the gospel” (τὸ εὐανγγέλιον) occurs more than forty times in the New Testament.

2. In the four gospels the phrase τὸ εὐανγγέλιον is consistently that which is preached; that which is to be believed.

3. In Acts and the Epistles this same pattern is predominant.

4. Of the multitude of the imperatives in the New Testament which direct Christian duty [e.g. “Owe no one anything except to love one another” (Rom 13:8); “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mar 16:15) etc.] there is not one which directs him to “live the gospel.”

5. Nowhere in the N.T. is anyone commended for “living the gospel.”

6. Nowhere in the N.T. is anyone rebuked for not “living the gospel.”

7. The phrases “live the gospel” or “living the gospel” appear nowhere in the New Testament.

8. There is no exegetical basis in the Word of God for passing the phrase “living the gospel” off as a biblical construct; it is a theological construct. It is rather something read into the text by theologians.

9 Some theological constructs are helpful, as far as they go. The construct “living the gospel” however defies precise definition and rather than being a helpful tool, it seems to me to be a veritable minefield threatening attempts to construct a truly biblical doctrine of the Christian Life which we are called to live (Romans 12:1, 2 Corinthians 5:15), and in the process muddies the intent of the biblical portrayal of “the gospel” as that “testimony that God has given of His Son. (1Jn 5:10)”

Frank Turk said...

Charlie --

Since I am now done with the superficial remarks regarding your comments, here are three specific issues which I think you have under-considered:

1. Does the Gospel cause the new birth, or not? If it does -- and I'm open to you denying, for example, WCF XIII.1, because you may not actually be a Presbyterian -- then almost all of your comments are completely irrelevant. You are tilting at windmills becuase you have a shallow and non-confessional view of Refromed theology.

2. Is Christianity a kind of gnosticism? If it is not -- especially in the sense that it is what WCF XV says is true about the necessary consequences of Repentence, and that Justification causes Sanctification -- then your comments are further undone. Unless Christianity is only a "revealed, esoteric knowledge through which the spiritual elements of humanity are reminded of their true origins within the superior Godhead, being thus permitted to escape materiality," (Thx, Wikipedia), your view is lacking a lot of real meat.

3. You don't consider the projblem of the subjunctive at all, and I think Dr. Horton mostly doesn't via WHI either. Do you understand that the Subjectunctive is a diffrerent category than either the imperative or the indicative? If not, why not?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Calvin makes the distinction between justification and sanctification over and over again. The fact is Horton does not disagree with Calvin's views:

1. Our last sentence may refute the impudent calumny of certain ungodly men, who charge us, first, with destroying good works and leading men away from the study of them, when we say, that men are not justified, and do not merit salvation by works; and, secondly, with making the means of justification too easy, when we say that it consists in the free remission of sins, and thus alluring men to sin to which they are already too much inclined. These calumnies, I say, are sufficiently refuted by that one sentence; however, I will briefly reply to both. The allegation is that justification by faith destroys good works. I will not describe what kind of zealots for good works the persons are who thus charge us. We leave them as much liberty to bring the charge, as they take license to taint the whole world with the pollution of their lives.43 [38 438 This sentence is wholly ommitted in the French.] They pretend to lament43 [39 439 Latin, “Dolere sibi simulant.”—French, “Ils alleguent;”—they allege.] that when faith is so highly extolled, works are deprived of their proper place. But what if they are rather ennobled and established? We dream not of a faith which is devoid of good works, nor of a justification which can exist without them: the only difference is, that while we acknowledge that faith and works are necessarily connected, we, however, place justification in faith, not in works. How this is done is easily explained, if we turn to Christ only, to whom our faith is directed and from whom it derives all its power. Why, then, are we justified by faith? Because by faith we apprehend the righteousness of Christ, which alone reconciles us to God. This faith, however, you cannot apprehend without at the same time apprehending sanctification; for Christ “is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” ( [1 Cor. 1:30] ). Christ, therefore, justifies no man without also sanctifying him. These blessings are conjoined by a perpetual and inseparable tie. Those whom he enlightens by his wisdom he redeems; whom he redeems he justifies; whom he justifies he sanctifies. But as the question relates only to justification and sanctification, to them let us confine ourselves. Though we distinguish between them, they are both inseparably comprehended in Christ. Would ye then obtain justification in Christ? You must previously possess Christ. But you cannot possess him without being made a partaker of his sanctification: for Christ cannot be divided. Since the Lord, therefore, does not grant us the enjoyment of these blessings without bestowing himself, he bestows both at once but never the one without the other. Thus it appears how true it is that we are justified not without, and yet not by works, since in the participation of Christ, by which we are justified, is contained not less sanctification than justification.



Horton has it right but you have confused justification and sanctification/transformation. The two cannot be separated but they are not the same thing at all.

You're actually one of Calvin's accusers. You're accusing Calvin of "antinomianism".

Charlie

Frank Turk said...

It's too bad I have to work today. Charlie is going to be a handful because he is convinced that the Gospel isn;t good news for us -- it's just an announcement.

Dr. Horton: take note.

Charlie J. Ray said...

In fact, Charles Hodge tells us that justification is imputed by a legal declaration and sanctification is infused in the heart. The Roman Catholic error is to make justification infused into the heart, something you just did when you confused regeneration with sanctification.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Frank, you seem to thing the Gospel is bad news and the Law:)

Which is it? Good news or BAD news?

Frank Turk said...

Charlie:

There is no question Justification is not Sanctification. The problem is that justification necessarily causes sanctification. Sanctoification is impossible without justification, and it is impossible to not enter into once you are justified.

The Good News is not that Jesus is a spectacle, a self-referential person/event whom we admire like a monument. The Good News is for us, and for our sins.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Calvin:

Our last sentence may refute the impudent calumny of certain ungodly men, who charge us, first, with destroying good works and leading men away from the study of them, when we say, that men are not justified, and do not merit salvation by works; and, secondly, with making the means of justification too easy, when we say that it consists in the free remission of sins, and thus alluring men to sin to which they are already too much inclined.

I guess Calvin was an antinomian?

Robert said...

Charlie,

Tom's point three is exactly what Peter preached to the people at Pentecost. He told them they had just killed Messiah, Who came and died for their sins, and rose again to conquer death and the grave. They were scared and did not know what they should do...and what did Peter tell them to do? Repent, be baptize, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (which comes with the gift of faith).

Frank,

Thanks much for this letter. I have not read/listened to much of Horton, but from what I read in your excerpts and in this comment thread it sounds a tad legalistic. The timing of this seems quite proper for me because I just posted on facebook that if we do what the Bible says without having love for Christ, then we are in the same place that the church at Ephesus was when Jesus wrote to them through the pen of John in Revelation. This drew a sharp response from somebody that I have been going back and forth with on this and they are stuck on the law and obedience. The thing is, obedience only comes in reponse to the Gospel and our love for Jesus in light of that. Which I would consider to be us "living the Gospel". Also wrapped up in that is the thought that we can approach the throne of God, as it says in Hebrews, because Jesus has paid the price for our sins. I don't quite get it because this type of living seems truly inseparable from the Gospel and I hope that Horton does clear up exactly what he is saying and means...because, in my humble opinion, the way he is saying/phrasing this leads straight into legalism.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Well, Frank, your accusation against Horton is a straw man. The only reason you could make such an argument is that you understand neither Calvin nor Luther. Neither were antinomians. Horton is not advocating what you inferred from the out take. Proof texting someone out of the total context of their ministry is dishonest and frankly, ignorant.

If you had bothered to study the Reformed Confessions you would know where Horton is coming from.

In fact, one of the panelists is a particular Baptist. Odd that he doesn't have a problem with justification by faith ALONE.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

@ Robert

The command to repent is still LAW.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Simply because all who hear the command, REPENT, does not imply that all have the ability to do so. ONLY the elect receive the gift of repentance. Acts 11:18.

Charlie J. Ray said...

All who hear don't have the ability to repent, that is.

Frank Turk said...

Thomas --

Because I may not have been clear in the open letter, I don't for a minute think Dr. Horton believes that people have no business thinking about Jesus and their own personal holiness as consequentially-related items. I think he would laugh at anyone who didn't think that Justification causes sanctification. I think, based even on the comments I quoted from him, that he is grieved by the state of the holiness of the Reformation churches -- but he's puzzled by what to do about it. That is: he doesn;t see his contribution to the problem and therefore doesn;t see himself as someone who can help fix it.

The really astounding thing is that he sees Jim Belcher's book Deep Church as a workable solution to the problem when that book really states the problems and the solutions in ways that I think WHI generally doesn't admire.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Horton's church is Dutch Reformed. The Heidelberg Catechism expresses their "binding" doctrine. Horton is bound to believe the following:

Lord’s Day 32

86. Since, then, we are redeemed from our misery by grace through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we do good works?

Because Christ, having redeemed us by His blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit after His own image, that with our whole life we show ourselves thankful to God for His blessing,[1] and that He be glorified through us;[2] then also, that we ourselves may be assured by our faith by the fruits thereof;[3] and by our godly walk win also others to Christ.[4]

[1] Rom 6:13, 12:1-2; 1 Cor 6:20; 1 Pt 2:5-10; [2] Mt 5:16; 1 Cor 6:19-20; 1 Pt 2:12; [3] Mt 7:17-18; Gal 5:6, 22-24; 2 Pt 1:10-11; [4] Mt 5:14-16; Rom 14:17-19; 1 Pt 2:12, 3:1-2; 2 Pt 1:10

TOP

87. Can they, then, not be saved who do not turn to God from their unthankful, impenitent life?

By no means, for, as Scripture says, no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like shall inherit the kingdom of God.[1]

[1] 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5-6; 1 Jn 3:14-15


If you really believe that Horton is an antinomian, then you ought to report him to his denomination. Call up a few of the teaching elders and let them know that Horton is an antinomian.

The problem today is not antinomianism but pelagianism. See Christless Christianity.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

I haven't heard of Belcher or his book so I can't comment.

Charlie J. Ray said...

@ rbcbob.1 Thanks for your comment. I agree.

Frank Turk said...

Charlie:

You didn't read my post at all, did you? I actually think that the categories imperative and indicative are incomplete until you include the third grammatical mood: the subjunctive.

Imperative: you must (command)
Indicative: you are (condition)

Is all of theology and life encompassed by those two states? Of course not! There is a third state, a thrid grammatical mood:

Subjunctive: Let me (volition)

The Gospel creates a new mood for the believer which is not an order, and not merely a state of being: it is love for God.

Listen: I am noit interested at all in your text-dumpoing today as I do not have time in the next 48 hours to unravel all of the things I know you can and will dump in here. If you do not respond to the 3 points I specifically addressed by you and stick to those point as a matter of engaging what I have actually said and meant, then I'm going to delete your comments from here forward until you do address the 3 issues.

Consider the subjunctive, consider the difference between gnosticism and Christianity, and consider the new birth. If you cannot do these things, then consider going away.

Robert said...

Charlie,

"If the Gospel is about "transformation" or "change" then what you have done is no different from a Roman Catholic or an Anabaptist who confuses sanctification with justification. Just how "changed" do you need to be to be "justified" anyway?"

So are you saying there is no change in a person when they are born again? (Except that they get to got to heaven, that is)

donsands said...

"I close in admiration of you and your years of faithfulness,"-Frank

Admiration is such a fine word.

What a post. Incredible letter to Michael, our brother in Christ.

I seem to fall in the middle, I guess.

I hope God is not depending on my behavior to save others, for I blow it time after time.

Yet, the reason I live is because of the Gospel. I love Jesus, and yet, even this love, which is a strong affection and longs to obey my Lord, I fall on my face time after time.
So, I must blend my love with trust and prayer in Christ and His Spirit to direct my paths, and to bear fruit in my life.
In fact, any good I do, is completely and utterly by His grace.

Amazing grace saved me, it taught me to fear, and showed me not to fear. This wonderful grace has taken me through many temptations, many snares set by Satan, and it will take me all the way home.

Thanks Frank for a great post. You have a tremedous gift to have so much knowledge and to be able to write it down in such a marvelous way. Keep on.

Frank Turk said...

Charlie: your comment at 6:33 AM, January 26, 2011 proves to me you haven't read this post at all, and you aren't really involved in what it is asking for.

Re-read my last comment to you, and abide by it. Participate, or move on.

I have business meetings all day today -- I may get a break at Lunch, and I will have a few moments after work late. It will restrict my activities here.

Everyone: play nice.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Does the Gospel cause the new birth, or not?

Short answer? NO.

John 3:3-8 clearly says GOD causes the new birth. The preaching of the Law and the Gospel is the "means" by which God effectually calls the elect. Big difference, Frank.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37 ESV)

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Frank, I understand that you have no clue what the Reformed Confessions teach since you're a Baptist and do not believe the "bind the conscience". For what it's worth you demonstrate clearly to me why no one should be a Baptist of any kind.

I be moving on now:)

DJP said...

There is a reason unteachable people are called "unteachable."

It's because you can't teach them.

Just saying.

Tim Bertolet said...

Charlie,

When it comes to justification and sanctification we would all do well to pause and repeat this a few times: distinct but inseparable.

This is why union with Christ is so important because in it we have the verdict of justification and the progress of sanctification.

Calvin's Institutes:
"First we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. ...We also, in turn, are said to be "engrafted into him, and to "put on Christ" for as I have said, all that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with him... For the same reason, also, Paul, in speaking of cleansing and justification, says that we come to possess both "in the name of...Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (3.1.1)

...distinct but inseparable...

Robert said...

DJP,

I think you should make up a new acronym for unteachable trolls. Now I have the grumpy old troll song from Dora stuck in my head.

"I'm the grump old troll, who lives under the bridge..."

It will probably replay every time I read Charlie's posts.

InAwe said...

"What I am not talking about is people who are doing the legitimate work of elders who are accountable in their local churches, who are usually elders, and who display openness and transparency about their character and ministry by not hiding behind an alias or an internet nickname. What I am talking about is the avalanche of people who populate the internet via discussion boards, blogs, and social media who frequently demonstrate all the love and real compassion of a rock through one's window. They are people who, on paper, make a sound confession of faith, down to the mint and the cumin, and wouldn't know what to do if their Hindu neighbor invited them to a birthday party on Sunday morning — or how to turn the other cheek in order to make a foothold for the opportunity to share the Gospel. They usually don't attend church because they can't find one which is up to their doctrine snuff, and the reason is that they have made themselves into a private magisterium. They have never said or written anything for which they would apologize or reconsider because they have never been wrong."

Wow. Pot meet Kettle. (aka have you seen that there plank yet?)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Frank,

How convenient. The subjunctive is still and "ought" of the "will". What you "do" is law. Get it?

Your third category is still Law, which is why you insist on confusing LAW and Gospel. You don't know LAW when you see it. What you "ought" to do is LAW. What GOD does is Gospel. God promises us salvation and HE will do it. Sanctification is what YOU do. And you cannot even do that without sovereign grace... MONERGISTIC GRACE. You don't elect yourself, regenerate yourself, sanctify yourself, OR WILL yourself to DO anything APART FROM GRACE. God could justly harden your heart at any moment.

Your view leads to pride and phariseeism.

You think your actions are you own. Read Philippians 2:13 again prayerfully.

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12 ESV)

Charlie J. Ray said...

@DJP And you're the infallible pope?

Tim Bertolet said...

Frank,
This is a good post. I've got to be honest though, I've got to think a little bit more about the "subjunctive" mood.

If it is the work of the Spirit in the Gospel to write the Law of God on the heart, why aren't commands like "let us run" really the imperative?

If a person is in Christ such commands are a good thing. We rejoice in the imperative and the Law now formed in us. In fact, doesn't the gospel indicative bring the imperative and cause the believer to respond in it?

Are you getting at more than that with the "subjunctive"?

Tim Bertolet said...

I'm betting this thread will be over 150 comments before lunch. (maybe over 200 if your lunch time isn't in EST)

donsands said...

Charlie J. Ray,

Hey, can I call you Ray? Or J. Or Ray J.?

Just kiddin'.

I go to a Reformed Episcopal Church, and we have the common book of prayer. David Crum, my pastor, held it up in church one Sunday and said, "See this. It's not the Bible."

Huge statement for some people in the Church.

Charlie, you come off as a bit self-righteous, and you need to calm down my friend.

Fred Butler said...

Charlie says,
John 3:3-8 clearly says GOD causes the new birth. The preaching of the Law and the Gospel is the "means" by which God effectually calls the elect.

Just clarifying: Are you then saying the "new birth" can happen apart from the Gospel?

Charlie J. Ray said...

@donsands

I'm not "self" righteous. That's precisely what I'm arguing AGAINST:)

By the way, I resigned as Deacon with the Reformed Episcopal Church because it is for all practical purposes Anglo-Catholic and a synagogue of satan.

Sincerely yours,

Charlie

DJP said...

@DJP And you're the infallible pope?

Nope. Just literate.

I can read and understand this, too: "I be moving on now"

And I can see when someone isn't as good as his word.

Frank Turk said...

Wow. It's a shame Charlie never read WCF XIV.1:

The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts; and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word: by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Tim said,

Frank,
This is a good post. I've got to be honest though, I've got to think a little bit more about the "subjunctive" mood.

If it is the work of the Spirit in the Gospel to write the Law of God on the heart, why aren't commands like "let us run" really the imperative?

If a person is in Christ such commands are a good thing. We rejoice in the imperative and the Law now formed in us. In fact, doesn't the gospel indicative bring the imperative and cause the believer to respond in it?

Are you getting at more than that with the "subjunctive"?


Exactly. "Let us" is hortatory and is therefore still LAW. What we DO, even in the "oughts" is Law. So AFTER conversion we have a duty to obey God's law out of gratitude. But we never arrive at perfection. We must be continually reminded that no matter how sanctified we progressively become, our right standing with God is ALWAYS of grace and mercy. God could justly damn all of us no matter what level of sanctification we attain. 5% is failing. And so is 99.9%. You need 100%. I seriously doubt anyone here has progressed beyond a mediocre level of sanctification. The distinction is righteousness is imputed and sanctification is infused in the heart.

To confuse the two is to commit grave error, even if sanctification is not optional!

Charlie

DJP said...

Wondering if Charlie (who promised to move on 4-5 comments ago) knows what a brother he has in Zane Hodges and the gutless-grace group? And how embarrassing it is for him to have had his answer given, then to keep re-asking the same now-answered question like a petulant child?

Ron Suarez said...

Thank you for that. I have been struggling with this for a long time. As a WHI listener, it was hard to pinpoint that one thing that was bothering me. Lutheran theology often has an element of “passive grace” which requires nothing. I agree that is incorrect. It is easy to sit at SB with a fellow listener, criticize Evangelicalism, and never confront personal sin, or the sin in my brother. I will chew on this a while.

slave of righteousness said...

Nicely written letter, Frank. It is not without its own set of issues, though.

My problem is this is the kind of thing one Christian should be writing to another in private before putting it on the internet.

The other big issue here is you are going after WHI (and others are in the comments here are doing the same) for being too singularly focused on one issue. Why don't you go after Ray Comfort, John Piper, or Ken Ham next? They all have issues or doctrines that they focus on more than any other. The real key here is WHI is great for the new believer and helping them understand the Law/Gospel.

Finally, you ask Michael Horton to address the people who claim to be followers but cannot operate in everyday life. There are going to be false converts and pretenders following every ministry. I am sure there are hundreds doing the same thing you comment about with WHI that do it with your ministry as well. Should you have to address the pretenders and the dividers following your ministry? How about John MacArthur? Should he have to address the culture around GTY? There is such a thing as personal responsibility.

What saddens me is Michael Horton probably will get wind of this and may even respond when both of you should be spending time spreading truth to your respective "markets" God has given you. Which reminds me, why am I spending time on here telling you this...

Go back to work brothers and sisters! We don't need this.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Frank said,

The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts; and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word: by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.

Yes and it's a greater shame that you cannot read with comprehension. The "work of the Spirit in their hearts..." God causes regeneration. The Word, Sacraments, and prayer are all "means" of God's grace.

Oh, do you accept the sacraments?

I do:)

Charlie

Frank Turk said...

Yeah: which of those characteristics describe me, "InAwe"? And I like how creative your parents were in naming you -- internet-ready!

Frank Turk said...

"wrought by the ministry of the word" is the part you have to ignore Charlie. Keep up the good work.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Gov98 has left a new comment on the post "Open Letter to Michael Horton":

Point three is LAW. So Chantry thinks the Gospel is the Law?

So when Christ said Repent and believe he was preaching the law?

When Peter said Repent and be baptized he was preaching the law?


YES.

The Gospel is:

(Joshua 21:45 ESV) Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
(Psalm 77:8 ESV) Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?
(Romans 9:4 ESV) They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.
(Romans 15:8 ESV) For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,
(2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV) For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
(2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV) Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
(Galatians 3:16 ESV) Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ.
(Galatians 3:21 ESV) Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.
(Hebrews 6:12 ESV) so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
(Hebrews 7:6 ESV) But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.
(Hebrews 8:6 ESV) But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
(Hebrews 11:17 ESV) By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son,
(Hebrews 11:33 ESV) who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
(2 Peter 1:4 ESV) by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Tim Bertolet said...

Charlie,
But sometimes in gospel zeal it can appear that a person is poo-pooing the third use of the law. Or using the law on a believer in a way that doesn't get at what Frank means when he says "subjunctive."

Part of the gospel is Christ formed in us which means we can say "let us" without being legalistic or works centered.

I think Frank has some helpful thoughts here--or it is at least saying things in a way that is worthy of reflection, yet you seem contentious and just baiting a fight. Your practically accusing him of denying justification by faith, which is akin to calling him accursed--which given his body of work is a violation of the 9th commandment, so much for sanctification and the third use of the law.

Scooter said...

Better get my licks in now, the comment thread may be closed by noon...

I don't listen to WHI so I'm taking to restrict my comments to your letter. I think you did a great job outlining the what the Gospel does in the life of a believer. It's not just an announcement, but it's a granting of a new life and power to a believer to discard the old man and put the new man in its place. Since the Gospel changes our spiritual nature, it likewise affects our temporal nature, as the two cannot be separated.

Charlie, I may be a bit off here, but what is the point of all Paul's exhortations in his epistles? Or what about the Didache? Is that useless?

Frank Turk said...

FWIW, I have no objections to WCF XIV -- no qualifying items. That's what I believe.

Tim Bertolet said...

Ron,
Personally, I would distinguish between passive grace (which grace is) and the thing that Bonhoeffer rightly critiques which is cheap grace, which grace is not.

The effects of passive grace should not produce in us the cheap grace that is sadlly evident in some down through the ages.

John said...

Reactions:

(Wow...hmmm...ohhhh.) - after a careful reading of the post.

(Deeeeep inhale and slow exhale.) - as and after reading the meta.

Thanks Frank. I think (after attending a very reformed seminary for many semester hours and reading many books from that side of the white picket fence and interacting with people moving from those kind of churches to the more baptistic type churches) you may have hit at least 3 of the veritable nails on the heads - but not in a bad way at all.

At all...really.

Tim Bertolet said...

Ron,
Personally, I would distinguish between passive grace (which grace is) and the thing that Bonhoeffer rightly critiques which is cheap grace, which grace is not.

The effects of passive grace should not produce in us the cheap grace that is sadlly evident in some down through the ages.

Charlie J. Ray said...

For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 4:7 ESV)

Gov98 said...

Gov98 has left a new comment on the post "Open Letter to Michael Horton":

Point three is LAW. So Chantry thinks the Gospel is the Law?

So when Christ said Repent and believe he was preaching the law?

When Peter said Repent and be baptized he was preaching the law?

YES.

Sweet Dude, Because like here's the um actual real problem THE BIBLE SAYS: "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the GOSPEL of GOD and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the Gospel."

So you know like you're problem isn't with...me or Frank, it's like with the English Language or something.

Charlie J. Ray said...

@Tim

Actually, I'm not baiting. I'm accusing Frank of deliberately confusing LAW with Gospel.

While we cannot preach the Gospel without also preaching LAW, to confuse the two is grave and serious error.

Charlie

Fred Butler said...

Maybe my question is in Charlie's cue to answer and it will show up here shortly. Just as a reminder, does Charlie believe regeneration can take place apart from the proclamation of Gospel.

Tad said...

Frank:

Awesome letter....I was hoping, though, that you would question him regarding his view that no Baptist should call himself reformed. Do you think that WHI has fueled the TR movement? (I realize you only had so many words :))

Tad Thompson

Chris Hobeck said...

DJP, you took the words out of my mouth with the reference to Zane Hodges. If you don't mind, I'd like to go back another 100 years or so and quote that great legalistic scholar, B. B. Warfield:

"'It is a grievous error to teach that a true believer in Christ can stop short in 'carnality.'"

"[Lewis Sperry] Chafer's characterization of the carnal man actually 'assigns to the lower class [of Christians] practically all the marks of the unregenerate man.'"

"He who believes in Jesus Christ is under grace, and his whole course, in its process and in its issue alike, is determined by grace, and therefore, having been predestined to be conformed to the image of God's Son, he is surely being conformed to that image, God Himself seeing to it that he is not only called and justified but also glorified. You may find Christians at every stage of this process, for it is a process through which all must pass; but you will find none who will not in God's own good time and way pass through every stage of it. There are not two kinds of Christians, although there are Christians at every conceivable stage of advancement..."

quoted from B.B. Warfield's "Review of Chafer" (p.326-327) in Christ the Lord: The Reformation and Lordship Salvation Edited by Michael S.Horton (p.161-162)

HT: JonathanCarl.org

Mr. Ray, I am curious: which of these categories does Dr. Warfield fit into:
a) Anabaptist/Pietist
b) Romanist
c) Wesleyan/Semi-Pelagian
d) None of the above

Frank Turk said...

Tad:

I still have 48 open letters to write this year. If we run a little dry, it could come up.

I'm really more concerned with general health in the church at large than I am with paedobaptist intransigence. :-)

Frank Turk said...

Chris:

By definition, you are a boogieman and and menace, and you don;t understand what you are asking.

Just sayin'.

Charlie J. Ray said...

"wrought by the ministry of the word" is the part you have to ignore Charlie. Keep up the good work.

The last I checked "by" shows instrumentality. The "means" is "by the ministry of the work. The AGENT is the Holy Spirit. GOD.

The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls,1 is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, (WCF 14:1 WCS)

Thanks for the compliment:)

Charlie

Gov98 said...

Actually, I'm not baiting. I'm accusing Frank of deliberately confusing LAW with Gospel.

You know who else falsely accuses the brethren?

I mean I'm not saying anything, but I'm just saying.
(Yes that last sentence is not meant to make sense.)

Steve said...

Frank, excellent post.

Eph. 2:1-10 is my "life passage", in large part because it is a clear summary of the Gospel, including a clear description of both salvation and works being given by grace.


Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Whenever I start to feel off balance in the legalism-antinomian arena I whip out Eph. 2:1-10 and am refreshed, comforted by grace, and eager to seek out what good God has prepared for me to walk in that day. Not for salvation, but because of it.

Blessings!

Mr. Fosi said...

Charlie,

I know you've been addressed in this meta by a lot of people already but I have to tell you that you've got me speaking frustration aloud at my computer screen.

Frank didn't accuse Dr. Horton of antinomianism, he accused some unknown people who cite Dr. Horton of such. You do understand the distinction, right?

Please also explain to me, without a text dump, what James meant when he wrote:

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead

But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was complete by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness'—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."


It seems to me that you should label James as a Romanist and doubt his salvation for these comments.

Dave Miller said...

In 1791, Thomas Jefferson wrote "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."

Do you think Jesus would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much truth, or too little of it?

Frank Turk said...

Gov98 --

You want a list? As if this post is not going to cause enough trouble on it own.

Frank Turk said...

99

Frank Turk said...

100

Charlie J. Ray said...

@Chris Hobeck

I would ask you to go back and show me where I've argued against sanctification in anything I've posted?

My point is not that we are not required to obey God's law. That is not Scriptural nor is it part of my Reformed confession of faith:

VII. Of the Old Testament.
THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore there are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.


39 Articles of Religion: Article 7

The problem here is that most particular baptists do not read or study the Reformed standards on a systematic basis because of the bias against secondary authority of the church.

Charlie

Shawn said...

So I probably shouldn't jump in here. But Frank, you really need to learn a few languages. For instance, I hope you realize that language can have more than three moods. And I also hope you realize that these moods fit into two broad categories: indicative and volitional. Imperative? Volitional. Subjunctive? Volitional. Affirmative? Indicative. Precative? Volitional. So unfortunately, your introduction of a third mood, the subjunctive, does not actually change the distinction Law verse Gospel. Gospel: Indicative. Law: Volitional.

Charlie J. Ray said...

The sacraments mentioned in WCF 14:1 include infant baptism. Infant baptism, by the way, shows that the ordo salutis begins with election before birth, not with conversion.

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love (Ephesians 1:4 ESV)
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, (Ephesians 1:11 ESV)

David J. Houston said...

"Frank, I understand that you have no clue what the Reformed Confessions teach since you're a Baptist and do not believe the "bind the conscience". For what it's worth you demonstrate clearly to me why no one should be a Baptist of any kind."

Ol' Charlie boys antics give me a really good reason to become a Baptist: If I become a Baptist my chances of meeting Charlie go WAY down.

But I know those babies need a good sprinklin' so I'ma sit tight! :P

Charlie J. Ray said...

Fred Butler,

If you had read either the Westminster Standards or the Three Forms of Unity or the Anglican Formularies you would know the answer to your own question:

Maybe my question is in Charlie's cue to answer and it will show up here shortly. Just as a reminder, does Charlie believe regeneration can take place apart from the proclamation of Gospel.

But I will cut to the chase and answer you Sola Scriptura:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 ESV)

Johnny Dialectic said...

MH: The Gospel can't be lived.

Then what does it mean to obey the gospel? (e.g., 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:17)

DJP said...

Charlie Ray repetitions of his misunderstanding after it was corrected: 25

Charlie Ray comments after promising to be "movin' on": 12

Unless he's multiplied it since I started writing this.

donsands said...

"I'm not "self" righteous. ....

By the way, I resigned as Deacon with the Reformed Episcopal Church because it is for all practical purposes Anglo-Catholic and a synagogue of satan."

Hmmmm. Have you ever been to Bishop Cummins Church in Catonsville Maryland my friend?

That statement seems a bit self-righteous, and quite judgmental.

You need to lighten up Charlie.

Gov98 said...

You want a list? As if this post is not going to cause enough trouble on it own.

Nah, I've just got one highly Biblical Example in mind. I'm a prosecutor for my actual day job...and I never forget that Christ is a defense attorney (advocate) and the prosecutor is one who falsely accuses.

Just so it's clear, it's pretty much clear to me that you are NOT "deliberately" confusing the law and Gospel.

Joshua Collins said...

Is the deeper underlying issue here the tension between the way Reformed tradition calls any command/imperative/volitional "Law" and the way the New Testament often uses Law more specifically to refer to the Mosaic Covenant?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Mr. Fosi has left a new comment on the post "Open Letter to Michael Horton":

Charlie,

I know you've been addressed in this meta by a lot of people already but I have to tell you that you've got me speaking frustration aloud at my computer screen.

Frank didn't accuse Dr. Horton of antinomianism, he accused some unknown people who cite Dr. Horton of such. You do understand the distinction, right?


Fosi, that sword cuts both ways. All the no-name pelagians are rejoicing at Frank's confusion of law with Gospel.

I wonder what James White would think of Frank's gaff?

Methinks even James White would correct him on this subjunctive silliness.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the Gospel."

Repent = law

Believe = gospel.

Last I checked, justification comes from believing in God's promises.

Even our "believing" is God's gift.

Chris Roberts said...

In preaching on evangelism recently I made the point that the gospel is news and news is something you tell, not something you live. My point in this is that we cannot just say, "I live the gospel, so I don't have to tell the gospel." We have to tell people this news. So I think it is fair to make a distinction between "living the gospel" and "living in light of the gospel".

That said, the only way we "live in light of the gospel" is, well, the gospel. The gospel is the news that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It is because of this work of Christ that we can be brought into the kingdom of God. But Jesus tells us that no one enters the kingdom unless he is first born again.

Peter tells us that God causes us to be born again. This regenerative, transforming work is God's work, not ours, and it is part of the gospel - it is part of what we receive when the effect of the gospel - the effect of Christ's work - is applied to us. So because of Jesus' work we have the forgiveness of sins, and the regeneration of self. God does all of this and he does it through the work of Jesus Christ.

But, being born again means something. It is because of justification - and the regeneration that goes along with it - that we are now being sanctified. It is because Jesus Christ died and rose again - and I died and rose with him - that I now walk in newness of life. And if I died and rose with Christ then I truly am a new creation and this will have implications on the way I live. Justification brings a necessary change that is seen through our sanctification. If there is no change, there is no reasonable way that one can claim to be born again.

All of this - justification, regeneration, sanctification - is the work of God in Christ through us. It is God who works in us to will and do his good pleasure. It is monergistic. It is God's work. But it is God's work demonstrated through my life.

All that to say (I think) Frank, I agree.

Chris

Chris Hobeck said...

@Charlie, let's go with this premise. I agree that "we are not required to obey God's law," as you state. But where does the reformed view of progressive sanctification fit into that? Why does Paul, speaking of the longing to be sanctified, say that he "delight[s] in the law of God, in [his] inner being."

@Shawn, maybe I misread you, and I'll be the first to admit I don't know Greek, but wouldn't the affirmative tense/mood in fact be volitional? It would seem to me that you have to have a will to affirm something before you actually affirm it.

Frank Turk said...

Shawn:

I think you don't get the Law/Gospel distinction.

Law does not tell us "this is what we want to do": it tells us "this is what we ought to do". In the WHI analysis of this matter, all the "let us" statements in the NT are therefore "Law" becuase they tell us what we must do. The Gospel doesn't tell us about what we must do, in this system: it tells us what has been done. That is: Christ died and raised from the dead. In that system, "repent" is now Law and not grace -- that is, it's something we must do, rather than something can now want.

Imperatives have nothing to do with our motives: they are external commands. When I say "Let's get ice cream," that's not a command: that's my personal will -- it's what I want.

After the Gospel there is something new which we want which we didn;t want before -- and Law/Gospel misses this.

David Regier said...

Frank, it was a masterful stroke to create this Charlie Ray character to prove your point. But he's sort of one-dimensional, even more than the Stuart Wood guy (glad you killed that one off).

I'd like to see a little more depth, a little life in your characters.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Cheap Grace and Counterfeit Bonhoeffer

Is the sacrifice Jesus made "cheap"?

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV)

DJP said...

David Regier's comment will be hard to top.

DJP said...

PS - I'm glad I created him.

Frank Turk said...

I'm really gone now, so if Charlie doesn;t shape up in the next two comments he posts, I'm going to have a lot of deleting to do at Lunch.

DJP: if you are available, I leave you to play the part of Judge Dredd.

The rest of you: poor Charlie needs to be left alone. His invocation of James White notwithstanding.

Charlie J. Ray said...

@ Chris

@Charlie, let's go with this premise. I agree that "we are not required to obey God's law," as you state. ...

You are quoting something I never said. Obviously the 3rd use of the moral DOES require us to obey God's law as a Christian. The difference is law keeping does not justify us. Law keeping is what we do because we're justified by mercy. Gratitude, not merit.

We deserve hell. We earn hell. We are given salvation freely. We obey imperfectly but we have an obligation to do obey and actually obey out of gratitude for the free grace we have received.

Charlie

Frank Turk said...

Sock Puppet mania.

David Kjos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Fosi said...

Charlie,

Thanks for not skipping over my comment among the many here. My second question still stand though: Why isn't James showing himself to be a Romanist and himself a confuser of law and gospel?

Frank Turk said...

Oh wait:

How much do I pray before writing these? I pray a lot as I am writing these. I see prayer as part of the editorial process and part of the prerequisite of the process.

Putting my heart before God when writing criticism to someone -- especially a family member in the faith -- is a necessary part of this activity.

DJP said...

Frank

What I want to know is: did Michael Horton call you up privately and discuss what he was going to say before he went on the air and said this to literally every person in the entire globe who chose to tune in?

Jugulum said...

Re: The point Charlie's trying to make in his 7:18 AM comment.

Frank had asked "Does the Gospel cause the new birth?"

Charlie answers: No, God does. Charlie's correct, of course, that it's more precise to say that God causes regeneration by means of the gospel.

Just like it's more precise to say "I break windows with rocks" than to say "Rocks break windows". But "Rocks break windows" is still correct--particularly in the context of addressing what necessarily occurs when a rock hits a window.

If you ask someone "Did a rock break that window?" and they answer "No, Bob did, using a rock," they're being pedantic. (It's not pedantic to specify that the rock needed Bob to throw it. That might be an important point to make. But it's pedantic and silly to lead off with "No, you're wrong". And it's a dodge, if you end up sidestepping the issue Frank was addressing--necessary consequence.)

Deb said...

Frank, I've enjoyed your open letters thus far. But in this case, there seems to be a disconnect (at least from how I've read you).

The distinction that I have gleened from Dr. Horton and others is that to be obedient to the Gospel is to:
"Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our calling, the Founder and Perfecter of our Faith" Hebrews 3:1

Doing so accomplishes two important things, Imho:
1) rest the fulfillment of the works of the law (the covenant of works) on Jesus Christ alone (rather than co-mingling the covenant of grace with the covenant of the law) and
2) Keeps our focus fixed on the Holiness of our law-giver and law-keeper, rather than turning our focus inward on ourselves (something that will only lead us to accusation, despair and condemnation).

As Sinclair Ferguson wrote, commenting on Hebrews 3:1, "See everything in light of who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He continues to do today. You cannot go wrong there."

Matt Aznoe said...

Great letter, Frank. I think you hit right on the key question: what does it mean to believe? We can say that we believe that an airplane is safe to fly, but until we get on the plane -- if, in fact, we refuse to get on the plane, wouldn't an observer be justified to question our belief.

What does Jesus say?

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
(Mat 7:21 ESV)

We can say that we believe that God changes the hearts of those who believe in Him, but if we do not embrace those promises and make them active in our lives by living by faith, do we really believe we are new creatures and that God is both for us and dwelling within us?

Jesus told us that we would know men by their fruit. If there is no fruit, no transformation, no turning from sin, then that person is not of Christ. I do not see how one could say anything different and be true to all of scripture.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Johnny Dialectic said, Then what does it mean to obey the gospel? (e.g., 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:17)

Obey is what you do and is therefore Law. You cannot preach Gospel without first preaching Law. The two go together. If you're just preaching law and no gospel, that's legalism. If you're preaching gospel and no law, you're preaching antinomianism.

Law and Gospel are distinct but not to be separated. But neither should the two be confused. To confuse law with Gospel is basically the Roman Catholic error.

Charlie

Frank Turk said...

DJP:

No, and I will turn the other cheek to make a foothold for the Gospel.

donsands said...

"PS - I'm glad I created him."

Why did you have to have him like Dylan and Jethro Tull as favorite music?

Robert said...

Wow...what is really amazing is that Charlie is providing us with a real-life example of the problem that Frank is trying to address here. Frank, based upon that fact alone, I would say that this is the best open letter so far. I would say that Horton has to own Charlie and his comments because he gives cover for him.

This is awefully reminiscent of another group of pastor/teachers and people they must own that they would rather have nothing to do with...of course, maybe that will be demonstrated in a future open letter. I can only imagine how many comments that one would get.

Frank Turk said...

Deb:

If I keep my eyes fixed upon Jesus and never get baptized, am I actually fixing my eyes on Jesus, or am I mooning over him?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Mr. Fosi has left a new comment on the post "Open Letter to Michael Horton":

Charlie,

Thanks for not skipping over my comment among the many here. My second question still stand though: Why isn't James showing himself to be a Romanist and himself a confuser of law and gospel?


I'm glad you asked. First of all, the Roman Catholics love that verse:) They say that justification is by works. So what would you say to them? Just asking.

My answer is, of course, that James does NOT teach justification by faith PLUS works. In fact, James teaches the opposite:

and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"--and he was called a friend of God. (James 2:23 ESV)

The context of James 2 is our works before men:

But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18 ESV)

Good works testify to others that we have the "kind" of faith that saves: i.e. a living or "lively" faith. Good works testify to others that we are genuinely born again. They "justify" us before men. But not before God.

In fact, the 39 Articles of Religion says pretty much the same thing:

Article XII
Of Good Works
Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
39 Articles of Religion, Article 12

If you read Articles 9-18, you will see that they have a logical flow. We are dead in sins and need the new birth. Even after regeneration and justification we do good works but we are not without sin. Only Christ is sinless.

Sincerely in Christ,

Charlie

Deb said...

Hi Frank! Well, I would never say that you are "mooning" over Him, because you are not baptized. That goes too far.

However, I believe the way the reformers saw it was that if our eyes are fixed truly on Jesus, as He is truly portayed in the Word, then we will want to be baptized. Our wills and minds are renewed to become like His own, and we therefore become more like Him.

Another place in the Word that deals with this is 2 Corinthians 3 (I won't be so glib as to paste it here tho.) :)

Yes, there are times when we "white-knuckle" it and force ourselves to obey even when we don't, but that, at least for me, is a hallmark of straying from having my eyes fixed up Christ.

piluTLight said...

"Ol' Charlie boys antics give me a really good reason to become a Baptist: If I become a Baptist my chances of meeting Charlie go WAY down." LOLS

is there a quick link for sign up?

Deb said...

I meant "when we don't want to" sorry.

Chris Roberts said...

piluTLight:
"is there a quick link for sign up?"

Just walk the aisle. I see that hand!

Terry Rayburn said...

Frank,

I believe that your post is well-written, but it's written sort of esoterically.

That is, for someone like me, who has only dipped an occasional toe in the WHI/Horton pool, it remains unclear, even after trying to squeeze out the gist of it by reading over 100 comments.

Would it be possible to capsulize what Horton is actually doing in his Law/Gospel distinction?

Specifically, do you consider him in any way antinomian, as you've been accused, or legalistic (these are so polar apart that I feel a little Twilight Zone-ish for not already knowing your answer)?

Charlie Ray,

You are a proponent of both the 39 Articles and the Irish Articles of 1615(!).

As such you are supporting water baptism (including infant) as "effectual", "quickening" [read "regeneration"], and "sealing unto us our new birth (and consequently our Justification, Adoption, and Sanctification)". -- 39 Articles #25; Irish Articles #89

And you say TURK is "closer to Rome"?

Fred Butler said...

Charlie writes,
But I will cut to the chase and answer you Sola Scriptura:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 ESV)


Okay. It take it you are saying that the word of Christ is the Gospel message proclaimed. Care to clarify how this goes against what Frank is saying, then?

Mr. Fosi said...

Charlie,

You said: "Good works testify to others that we have the "kind" of faith that saves: i.e. a living or "lively" faith. Good works testify to others that we are genuinely born again. They "justify" us before men. But not before God."

Yes, indeed! To this I can say a hearty 'Amen!' and indeed, this is how I have responded to Catholics who have asked me the question.

Now, how is what you said above materially different from what Frank said in his 6+ page post?

Can you pick out something specific, contrasting it against what you wrote above and show how what you and Frank are saying are fundamentally different?

Chris Hobeck said...

Obviously the 3rd use of the moral DOES require us to obey God's law as a Christian. The difference is law keeping does not justify us.

Unless I'm horribly misunderstanding, well, everybody on this comment thread, nobody is saying that the law justifies. The definition of the law is the real question, at least from where I'm sitting (or laying down, as the case may be).

In a similar vein, to repeat Gov98, if repent is law, why then does the verse before Jesus' command to "repent and believe" identify said command as "the gospel of God"? For reference, I'm looking at Mark 1:14-15.

Charlie J. Ray said...

On Matthew 7:21-23 by John Robbins:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’

And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!’ -Matthew 7:21-23

This passage of Scripture is widely misunderstood. The Baptist John MacArthur, the Christian Reformed Norman Shepherd, and Pope John Paul II all misunderstand the passage, and they misunderstand it in essentially the same way. They all-Baptist, Reformed, and Romanist-appeal to verse 21 for the same reason: It seems to teach salvation by doing, rather than by mere believing. After all, Jesus does say that it is only those who do the will of his Father who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

***

He has already told us why. All of these extraordinary and wonderful works done in the name of Jesus are lawlessness, because they are done for the purpose of obtaining salvation. These works are lawlessness because they involve an illegal use of the law. The law, Paul tells us, is given for the knowledge of sin. It is not given that we sinners might use it to gain entrance into Heaven. Conviction of sin, not salvation, is the purpose of the law. Legalism, because it is an illegal use of the law, is lawlessness. But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, Paul told Timothy. But using the law in an effort to obtain Heaven is not lawful; it is an illegal use of the law; it is lawlessness.



<a href="http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=117>Newsletter, John Robbins</a>

Legalism is a form of lawlessness.

Both are at root pelagianism. Self righteousness.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

@ Frank

Well, censorship is the best way to avoid admitting you were wrong:)
Go ahead and delete me.

I will definitely be responding on my own blog:)

Charlie

Frank Turk said...

Deb --

This is my point precisely -- you have phrased it exactly right. If my eyes are fixed upon Jesus, I am different in fact and not just in some kind of platonic ideal. That means I am different -- and not just before God.

The reason we want to be baptized, for example, is that it pleases Him. The Good News is that becuase we are Justified, we can now stand with Him and before Him and in Him and not be what we were.

Frank Turk said...

Charlie --

Congratulations! Oh wait -- you already congratulated yourself. Nevermind.

Jugulum said...

Charlie,

Your last comment (Re: Matthew 7) is a good example of why people are regarding you as trollish or unteachable.

Namely, you think that John MacArthur (and Frank?) are advocating "using the law in an effort to obtain Heaven", i.e. as a means of justification.

Deb said...

Frank, Okay. That clears things up for me! Thank you very much for taking time to respond. Blessings,

MovingOn said...

Unteachable troll? Really? Is that necessary? I think we're not hearing his point, and he's not hearing yours. I agree that in this format, dropping huge amounts of text is extremely unhelpful. Better to hash it out over a cup of coffee, that is, if trolls drink coffee.

I'm a few years out of the apostolic/prophetic movement, so I have zero formalized credibility and suspect out of the gate, but I would ask, is it possible that the WHI is attempting to place a particular chink in a very specific piece of armor, the way you would read Luther or Calvin in light of what they were responding to? I can say from the few years I have listened to the show that this particular point they are hammering, for me and many of those I know who have left this movement by God's mercy and grace, is the antedote to much of the thrust of those types of experience-based theology and practice. The hallmark of these groups and their theology seems to be without the faintest grasp of the concept of an objective truth. In fact, it's their celebration. They become the canon, the measure. The deepest part of my personal repentence I would characterize as moving from the purely subjective to Christ and his saving work and gospel as being FIRST purely objective. For those of us ignorant enough to have become entangled in those mystical practices it takes a lot of retraining. Old habits and bad practice from bad theology die hard.

I personally have never once gotten the impression that they ever neglected the necessity of transformation. I hear it from them often. It seems they were trying to reframe the categories for people who may not have had them, and to keep them distinct, since we still tend to reach for a fig leaf first. I think this is crucial for the listeners they are intending to reach. That being said, there isn't one of us who couldn't go back to conversations we've had and find we may not have answered every question in light of every possible objection perfectly. Luther was horrified that people were dying and churches burned to the ground because people assumed that he was advocating for that. This is where, as with the troll coffee suggestion above, the local body should come in. The WHI isn't my local church. In my case, the show has driven me to a reformational body and I'm most grateful. I had not yet found a church out in the sticks where I live previous to this since I left the so-called ministry I referred to above.

All of that being said, I DO agree that now that the show has done it's work, it has gently brought me to recognize the subjunctive, without confusing it with the indicative or imperative. I wouldn't want to be a mood modalist! I don't know if this would have been possible for me without having the distinction hammered repeatedly. The WHI for me has done what it's set out do.

I don't know much of your perspective as I'm new to your blog, but this is an excellent letter, well considered, and if there is one thing I would wish for the WHI it would be to flesh out the subjunctive a little more while maintaining the category distinctions.

Sorry for the length of the post.

Peace.

piluTLight said...

This thread has led me to my new favorite blog The Reasonable Christian... I am being drawn to the beer in my fridge now with no hope for a reasonable amount of consumption.

Frank Turk said...

Terry --

Mike Horton is not an antinomian. Mike Horton, I think, regularly gets out of balance in the discussion on WHI regarding what the good news is.

They emphasize that the Bible is either Law or Gospel -- meaning either grace or condemnation. What I think they imply -- and what Charlie plainly here demoinstrates is happening by this imbalance -- is that grace is something we look to but not something we receive effectually. They are so worried that someone might want to do something because the Gospel is true, and then get misconstrued as earning righteousness, that the fact that the Gospel is for us and writes the Law in our hearts rather than on stone tables get downplayed.

They say things as they do in the last excerpt, like being without fruit is "unhealthy". It's not unhealthy: it is a non-sequitur. It's like saying there's no difference between the grass which i cut off with mu mover and the grase which is still planted in my yard. If that's true, and sanctification is just "healthy" faith and not "not dead" faith, then I think most of the NT has to be re-evaluated.

Charlie J. Ray said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Frank Turk said...

That's one, Charlie.

Kay said...

For as reformed as everyone is trying to be, you need to remember a Catholic Priest sculpted the reform out of catholicism.

Mr. Fosi said...

Aww, Frank!

I was hoping Charlie would interact with my last request.

You're the admin though so I will bow to your delete button. :D

Frank Turk said...

Kay:

That's hillarious. I had no idea that Catholics are now taking credit for the Reformation and owning Luther as a "good one".

JR said...

Galatians 2 gets a this issue. Paul's recounts being upset with Peter because he is not LIVING IN LINE WITH THE GOSPEL (verse 14 specifically).

Apparently the gospel is lived out.

Charlie J. Ray said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr. Fosi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Terry Rayburn said...

Frank,

Thanks.

"They say things as they do in the last excerpt, like being without fruit is "unhealthy". It's not unhealthy: it is a non-sequitur."

Exactly.

Through the preaching of the gospel we are brought into the new covenant, whereupon we receive four gifts:

1. Complete forgiveness of sins.

2. Justification. Declared righteousness. The righteousness of God as a free gift.

3. A new heart. One that hates sin and loves Christ.

4. Union with Christ. Us in Him and He in us.

Those latter two are why a born again believer without fruit is a non-sequitur. But they should not be confused with the first two.

I like your post even better, now.

Frank Turk said...

That's two, Charlie. Three will be a perma-ban.

ecrosstexas (Eric Wallace) said...

I think much of Horton/WHI's response to the Law/Gospel issues can be referenced in the 5/24/09 episode of the WHI "Rightly Dividing the Word: Law and Gospel"

Frank Turk said...

Fosi -- don't encourage those who can't help themselves.

Charlie J. Ray said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr. Fosi said...

Frank,

Ok. *hangs head*

I thought I might be able help him evaluate what you actually wrote and how the two of you really aren't in fundamental disagreement.

Sir Brass said...

I like Horton, I like WHI, but Frank is good pointing out their weaknesses right here.

Frank is doing what Horton did to John MacArthur a while back when Horton took JM "out behind the woodshed" for being ambiguous on something he shouldn't have. It's called being the biblical friend.

Dr. White did this for Norman Geisler in The Potter's Freedom (though that was much stronger than Frank's firm yet gentle correction here). I just hope Horton resembles JM's reaction to him rather than Geisler's reaction to Dr. White.

And for my part, I felt a few punches in the gut, but they were necessary punches alerting me to where I may be quietly compromising and giving myself an excuse. Lord help me!

Thank you, Frank. Oh, and your twitter was wrong, I very much liked this open letter, despite it having it's "OOF!" moments where it socked me in the gut.

Brad Williams said...

Mr. Fosi,

Nothing can be done when the disagreement isn't, in fact, primarily theological but is behavioral. Theological Asperger's Syndrome cannot be cured through argumentation, as that is most likely an application of law. This demon only comes out by prayer and fasting.

JB said...

Charlie made some excellent, well thought out arguments from scripture and history imho.

Why is he then labeled a "troll" or "unteachable"?

Seems to me he is adhering to historical, reformed, covenantal theology and his arguments reflect this.

So some resort to name calling and feet stomping?

If you don't agree (as some of you clearly do not), at least provide reasonable arguments to present your case (and some of you have which I applaud even though I maybe wouldn't agree).

I am interested to see Horton's response. I think its good to see the brethren discuss matters such as this openly and in a scholarly manner.

Brad Williams said...

JB,

You mean those awesome parts where he wondered aloud if Tom Chantry was a Christian and said that no one should ever be a Baptist? Those well thought-out Scripturally reasonable statements?

DJP said...

Charlie made some excellent, well thought out arguments from scripture and history imho.

Why is he then labeled a "troll" or "unteachable"?


Because he didn't do any of that. He asked a stupid question, it was easily and immediately answered, and he just kept repeating himself and loading the meta with his spam.

Glad to help.

donsands said...

Good inspired word of truth from Paul J. Ray.

We all believe that here. It was a blessing to read it. I love the book of Galatians. It helped set me free from a Holiness Chruch many moons ago.

I like this staement by Michael Horton:

"..as longs you have a Gospel that is perfect and complete, because it's about someone else, you can always get back up again after you fall and embrace that Gospel. It puts wind in your sails so that you can take it to the ends of the world even though you are a miserable sinner yourself."

I fail,when I lean on my own understanding. Then I see Christ, who is the Gospel, and go to His Cross and empty tomb, where I cry out to my Father because of the Cross, to give me the Holy Spirit, so that I can trust in the Lord with all my heart.

Seems Horton and Turk may be not that far apart in their undertsanding of the Gospel.

And perhaps this Iron that sharpens iron will cause us all to be a bit sharper in this dark world full of devils and sin.

JB said...

Brad,
Fair enough I stand corrected on that point. I would not agree with that statement.
Thanks for the feedback.

DJP,
Wow.

donsands said...

"So some resort to name calling and feet stomping?" JB

I told Charlie Ray J that I was Reformed Epsicopal, and here's what he said:

" By the way, I resigned as Deacon with the Reformed Episcopal Church because it is for all practical purposes Anglo-Catholic and a synagogue of satan."

There's some nasty self-cenetered name callin' for you.

Solameanie said...

While it began well, I have to say that I do not like the way that the tone of this meta has degenerated. I'm filing a complaint to the tone police. Tickets will be issued and fines will be levied by Judge McLaren.

Robert said...

Charlie,

So we shouldn't live under/by the law as our means of salvation? Yeah, I get that...we are saved by grace. BUT when you call repentance the law and put that statement with it, you have just undone the preaching of the Gospel by Jesus and the Apostles because they all say that repentance is to be our response to the Gospel if we are saved.

You can talk around in circles forever, but you'll never talk your way out of this problem. I guess you think that Jesus and the Apostles are included in the group (aka Judaizers) that Paul says are to be considered "anathema" in Galatians? Because that is the implication of what you are saying...whether you want to recognize it or not.

Robert said...

Don/JB,

This name-calling that Charlie has done is the same as the reaction that a certain group of people had to Jesus' teachings when they didn't like what they heard. Do you guys see that parallel as well or is it just me?

A & R said...

I just remembered why I stopped reading this blog long ago. Turk and DJP are quick to threaten to delete the comments of its contributors if they don't play along with their own flippant dismissive comments. The people that are not engaged in ministry are the regulars of this blog not the ones at WHI. Turk, you should be greatful Charlie J. Ray took the time to commment here. I hope Horton doesn't.

JB said...

donsands,
Sorry to see that don.

I would clarify my statement that some are "resorting to name calling and feet stomping" to be all encompassing in this thread.

To clarify, I am somewhat new to the reformed faith and it saddens me to see those who I have looked up to resorting to these sort of tactics on this forum (on any side).

I just really enjoy seeing good debates being carried out in the spirit of brotherhood. (Not that I don't resort to these sort of things from time to time either as I am not exempt by any means and am pretty wicked myself but I do want to strive to change this of course.)

I just thought there were some good comments at the beginning, was enjoying reading them and it just went south.

Looks like I may have just jumped into a pissing match though and should probably head elsewhere. ;-P

God bless you guys.

Terry Rayburn said...

Charlie,

You wrote, "Terry, none of the above documents teach baptismal regeneration."

I, like DJP, am literate.

"Effectual" means it actually accomplishes something (internally, as any self-respecting Anglican will admit). This in itself is an abomination.

"Quickening" means it gives life. While this is pretty old English, it's not unclear.

"sealing unto us our new birth (and consequently our Justification, Adoption, and Sanctification)" means it is NECESSARY or MEDIATORIAL in such new birth.

I can't say what you believe in YOUR heart, but to deny the plain teaching of your documents is ludicrous.

I didn't use the technical term "baptismal regeneration" for specific reasons, one of which is it often carries baggage I didn't intend to bring in.

But the simple question that separates the Biblical men from the Sacramentalist boys is, "Is baptism normally NECESSARY for salvation?" (I say "normally" to escape the ol' thief-on-the-cross banana peel that Sacramentalists slip away on).

If you say, "No", you are in the wrong communion.

The real awfulness of Sacramentalism is the misleading Romanistic hangover effect it has on people.

It confuses and misrepresents Scriptural truth. It reinforces self-righteousness. It distorts real grace by imposing a "means of grace" that is not only unnecessary, but TOTALLY ineffectual.

This, of course, is heresy to a Sacramentalist, but not to an Apostle, or the Christ Himself.

There are several weak planks in your cited Consensus Tigurinus, but the clearest example glares from the very title of the 12th Article, "The Sacraments Effect Nothing by Themselves.

By that is meant that they are not magic and automatic. I get that.

But what Sacramentalists don't get is twofold:

1. Even when "faith" or "obedience" or "resolve" or anything else is added to the "Sacrament" it is STILL not grace-producing.

2. The misleading result of Sacramentalism is a long-spreading cancer in the Church.

The cancer takes place in millions of parents' hearts who bring their baby to be baptized, thinking something is being accomplished toward the salvation of that child.

The cancer takes place in millions of "Baptist's" hearts as they get dunked after an emotional appeal to "come forward", thinking that their dunking accomplishes something toward their salvation, while they don't know Christ yet.

The cancer takes place in millions of hearts that think DOING SOMETHING contributes to Grace, when by definition Grace is "not of works" (while the Sacramentalists insist, of course, that their "sacraments" are not "works").

Mr. Fosi said...

Brad: I suppose you are correct there sir.

A & R: I'm sorry you feel that way and even sorrier that you didn't actually engage in any constructive comments. Care to lay out which points of Charlie's were good and how they were fundamentally different than what Frank wrote in his letter?

I'm very interested in having someone of Charlie's bent properly divide the word and show specifically how Frank didn't.

Frank Turk said...

Eric --

I am fully aware of that episode. I think that it is not an integrated part of how they handle this issue on a weekly basis.

Even Joel Osteen can say, "I believe in Grace." The question is if that confession is actually part of the main message or, frankly, a way to "yeah but..." a concern with the main message.

The places I cited WHI are from the last 8 weeks. this is their current state of business, and it is completely characteristic of their weekly fare.

donsands said...

"Looks like I may have just jumped into a pissing match though and should probably head elsewhere."

No need for that JB.
You have a good attitude, and most here do as well. Frcition is used by our Lord to make us wiser as snakes, and he humbles us to, so we are more like doves.

The TeamPyro blog is a fine bunch of brothers in Christ, who speak the truth in love.

So please hang around and share, and be encouraged and edified in the dialog.

Maybe Michael Horton, or Ken Jones, or Kim Riddlesbarger may show up. And that would be worth hearing and seeing.

Frank Turk said...

A&R --

Did Charlie not get a chance to say everything he meant to say?

Did he actually answer any direct questions -- or did he simply continue to pontificate (my word, chosen explicitly) after I asked what I think are very rudimentary questions, phrased civilly?

He's banned now for being unwilling to engage with any seriousness.

Next.

Stan McCullars said...

I'm not sure what it is with Florida. We definitely have our share of interesting religious characters.

Tim Bertolet said...

Frank,
You write "They are so worried that someone might want to do something because the Gospel is true, and then get misconstrued as earning righteousness, that the fact that the Gospel is for us and writes the Law in our hearts rather than on stone tables get downplayed."

With the Law/Gospel distinction, do you see the weakness of WHI to be structural, e.g. they specifically miss a third category.

Or do you see the weakness of WHI to be one of emphasis? Meaning, they don't emphasize the good side of the third use of the law because they are a little overzealous at rooting out the boogey-man of works salvation?

I'm not totally sold on your "subjunctive" mood, but I would say that Christian preaching must preach good and solid imperatives that flow from the indicative.

Wouldn't it just be sufficient then to say that a good and necessary consequence of the gospel believed is the Law delightfully obeyed? (whether or not that is what you mean by 'subjunctive').

The times that I've listened to the WHI, I've always appreciated the Law/Gospel distinction because it challenges my motivations, and I have swam in the evangelical pools that use the Law to motivate without acknowledging that the gospel gift of the Spirit brings the motivations of delightful obedience.

Matthew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles E. Whisnant said...

I really read all the posts. But I also listen to the first 25 chapters of Genesis on tape. It has really being great. Thanks, Frank.

Matthew said...

Frank, I think I understand the issue here. I think the cash value of this open letter is that Horton, (and the rest of the WHI), with their stress on the "Law and Gospel" distinction have created practical antinomians. You are concerned that they have stressing this distinction to a point where the third use of the law and sanctification are no where in sight? Am I understanding the issue correctly?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Frank Turk said...

Matthew --

Eh.

"antinomians" means, I think, that they have no regard for maorality and are OK with people who have no regard for the moral law -- and I think that's not true. I think Charlie has demonstrated someone who has even a high view of the moral law, but who sees holiness as a hobby.

And in that, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, self-control are not seen as necessary consequences of the Gospel -- so we get people who will call anyone who thinks that saved people have a change of heart toward God and toward sin "roman catholic".

That is not antinomian, but something else.

Frank Turk said...

TUAD deleted as off-topic. Not offensive at all, but bound to splinter the discussion out of control.

Sorry TUAD -- ask that question someplace else. I may give it a weekend extra slot this weekend because I think that discussion would be useful.

Frank Turk said...

Tim B -

I think that these good and faithful men don't see how their infrequent balancing of Gospel indicatives with the necessary consequences of those indicatives leads people to believe that they don't have to do anything but affirm the right confession/catechism.

s.driesner said...

Frank, well done. Not only in graciously getting to the heart of the issue @ WHI - so well, in fact, that you got your own Exhibit A in the person of Mr. J. Ray - but in showing more grace and patience than most would be capable of towards his presence in the meta.

You hitting upon the subjunctive voice highlights much of what I have struggled with as a believer - cultivating a heart for God which desires to do His will (i.e. in the light of who God is and what he has done for us, let us ...), not merely to perform it out of duty (i.e. legalism). In other words, "fruit in keeping with repentance" that is true fruit because it comes from a willing heart, a heart transformed by the power of God through the Gospel and continued immersion in His Word and fellowship with His people.

I'm looking forward to the next 48 open letters. Every one thus far has been excellent, educational, and edifying. ;-)

Frank Turk said...

For the record, I eschew the view that the WCF teaches that there is baptismal regeneration. There's a nuance missing in saying that it does, and I'm not going there today. Sorry Terry!

Next Subject.

Cathy M. said...

Whether Dr. Horton agrees or disagrees with your critique, I don't see how anything you've written could be construed as a personal attack. (Actually, I find a lot of this confusing, especially the comments. I think Tom Chantry's comment is helpful.)

semijohn said...

On one hand the idea of not calling Charlie "unteachable" appeals to me. We don't know what kind of effect this will have on him down the road. On the other hand, though, the Bible has a pretty quick hook for divisiveness (unlike Grady Little in the 2003 ALCS 7th game). And Charlie seemed to have dealt with these questions before. And he certainly has been unteachable within the context of this comment thread.


BTW, I don't think McLauren would is a bad choice, but methinks he will need a henchman, lol.

Frank Turk said...

198

Frank Turk said...

199

Frank Turk said...

200. Nice.

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