[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Do You Agree With This Quotation XXV

by Antonio da Rosa
I must make a correction to this post. I am adding the word "necessarily". Faith (and saving faith) can produce works. They just don't 'necessarily' produce them.

I have two quotes from the esteemed Professor Zane C. Hodges and one by Dr. Bob Wilkin. There have been many false charges brought up against Consistent Free Grace Theology, one being that we believe that a man can live for years and never bear any fruit. Theologically speaking, there is no biblical basis for the argument that saving faith necessarily produces good works. Yet pragmatically speaking, it is impossible that a believer never bear any signs of his new life.

Caution: Be careful not to read in these quotations what is not there. Never, in any circumstance, must one look to his works as a basis for assurance of the possession of eternal life! The authors of these quotes are adamantly opposed to introspection for assurance.

Of course, there is every reason to believe that there will be good works in the life of the believer in Christ. The idea that one may believe in Him and live for years totally unaffected by the amazing miracle of regeneration, or by the instruction and/or discipline of God his heavenly Father, is a fantastic notion -- even bizarre. We reject it categorically. [Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1990 - Vol. 3:2]


... there is no need to quarrel with the Reformers' view that where there is justifying faith, works will undoubtedly exist too. This is a reasonable assumption for any Christian unless he has been converted on his death bed. [Absolutely Free! p 215]


I would say that it is hypothetically possible for a believer never to produce even one good work. However, I don't think that ever has or will occur... [Are Good Works Inevitable? http://faithalone.org/news/y1990/90feb1.html]

13 Comments:

  • Thanks for posting those.

    Let the critics give their response.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Thursday, July 31, 2008 11:33:00 PM  

  • Rose mentioned this post over at Bluecollar

    The following is my response to her at Bluecollar:

    Rose,
    Thanks. I am not sure I totally understand your first two sentences about “carnal Christians.” We are in agreement that grace saves without conditions. The only difference I see is that in the true free grace I believe in, God provides everything needed including the faith to believe. NO ONE is excluded, but God’s mercy and intervention is needed before anyone will come to faith.

    Granted the Jude false teachers may have carried the carnal teaching much further than Hodges, etc, but I believe that anyone who asserts any biblical teaching is in fact encouraging others to believe and practice that teaching. Faith and practice are closely related and anyone who affirms the possibility of a saved sinner remaining all carnal all the time is in fact encouraging that very condition. This position certainly does not square with many N.T. passages such as 2 Thess 2:13. Hodges has even asserted that a believer may become a non-believer for the remainder of a long life and yet be genuine regenerated saved saint.

    If the quotes over at UOG were emphasized more, then I think the gap between our views would be narrowed considerably. (maybe not reconciled, but narrowed).

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Friday, August 01, 2008 7:45:00 AM  

  • jazzycat said: "Faith and practice are closely related and anyone who affirms the possibility of a saved sinner remaining all carnal all the time is in fact encouraging that very condition."

    I am curious if others find this statement as unbelievable as I do.

    The fact that one mentions the possibility of something is actually encouraging it?

    Did you really mean that?

    By Blogger Looker4522, at Friday, August 01, 2008 8:52:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio:

    Your second quote reads: ... there is no need to quarrel with the Reformers' view that where there is justifying faith, works will undoubtedly exist too. This is a reasonable assumption for any Christian unless he has been converted on his death bed. [Absolutely Free! p 215]

    So are we back to that most beloved of quotations?

    Faith alone justifes, but the faith that justifies is not alone

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, August 01, 2008 1:24:00 PM  

  • Colin,

    At any time you qualify faith with works you have eclipsed grace. The mantra you provide does exactly that.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, August 02, 2008 11:25:00 AM  

  • Antonio: It would seem then that your friend Hodges also "eclipses grace" since he does not think the Reformers' position (which is largely contained in what you call a "mantra") should not be quarrelled with.

    For my part, I would say that such a view would only "eclipse" grace if the works which grace leads to were said to play any part in the justification of the believer. Yet, as we both know, the Reformers did not hold to that position and nor did Calvin from whom this quotation is supposed to originate.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, August 02, 2008 11:39:00 AM  

  • There is no little distinction between Hodges statement and the patently absurd and self-contradictory statement you attribute to Calvin.

    Salvation is by faith alone that IS alone. If it is a faith qualified by not being alone, it no longer is salvation by grace through faith. It has become a synergy of faith and works (which the cleverness of your little pithy mantra seeks to hide).

    Your religion qualifies faith with works. It is not "faith alone" but "faith that is not alone". If the faith is not alone, what is its companion, Colin? Obviously it is works.

    You continue to preach your gospel message that men and women must be saved by "faith that is not alone [in other words, apart from works]". Tell people that they have life by faith not alone from works.

    I will continue to present the message of Christ that eternal life is by faith alone, period.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, August 02, 2008 12:03:00 PM  

  • Antonio: If I may be allowed to define my own faith (a reasonable request?) then I would say (along with the Reformers and Calvin) that faith alone justifies without any reference to works. Once that is established, I say that an evidence of justifying faith are the good works that such produces. Not a cause nor a contributing factor – not a a synergy of faith and works as you are desire to father upon me - but an evidence.

    Furthermore, if I am guilty of all what you accuse me in that I endorse Calvin’s observation, then you must likewise charge those others who likewise use this quotation including people like J. Vernon McGee who quotes it at least 3 times in his comments on the epistles from 1 Corinthians through to Revelation.

    By insisting on using this "mantra of Calvin" does JVM become the purveyor of the false gospel which you are broadly hinting that I am proclaiming? A "yes" or "no" answer, even if followed by an explanation, would be most appropriate at this time.

    Regards,





    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, August 02, 2008 12:31:00 PM  

  • Colin,

    I will not hint. Lordship Salvation and Reformed Soteriology are abberant from the Scriptures.

    You insist on engaging with the well practiced theological art of double-speak.

    Paul clearly finds faith and works diametrical opposites. It is of faith so that it might be of grace. The moment one redefines faith by qualifying its exercise by works, one introduces fatal legalism into the saving message.

    "the faith that justifies is not alone"

    Can be retranslated:

    "the faith that justifies is accompanied by works"

    What this does is nullify any reference to justification by faith alone. You don't believe in justification by faith alone. You believe in justification by faith which is accompanied by works.

    To say that justification is by faith alone and then say the faith is not alone is to traffic in contradiction -- something that must be well learned by proselytes to Calvinism.

    It is not "faith alone" if that faith is not truly alone.

    I have not read much or listened mubh to JVM. The only response I could give you is that if he approvingly cites that patently contradictory mantra he is in error, and either preaches a false saving message or is confused. From what I have read of Rose speaking as to him, I am disposed toward the latter.

    It is not uncommon for someone who hasn't studied the Lordship controversy in great detail to preach straight at times and give confusing and ambiguous and/or erroneous messages at other times.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, August 02, 2008 1:46:00 PM  

  • Colin, You said, "...I would say (along with the Reformers and Calvin) that faith alone justifies without any reference to works."

    If a person's faith has no works, will they be justified?

    By Blogger interested spectator, at Saturday, August 02, 2008 2:21:00 PM  

  • Antonio: When Evangelicals such as Calvin and JVM (and others) make constant use of the maxim that “Faith alone justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone” we are NOT saying (as you interpret it) that "the faith that justifies is accompanied by works" What we are saying is: “the faith that justifies LEADS AFTERWARDS TO works. Of this position, as your original posting tells us, your friend Hodges seems to agree. I quote: ... there is no need to quarrel with the Reformers' view that where there is justifying faith, works will undoubtedly exist too. This is a reasonable assumption for any Christian unless he has been converted on his death bed. [Absolutely Free! p 215]

    It seems to me that when Calvinists and non Calvinists say the exact same thing about justification leading to works, then you indict the Calvinists as merit mongers but let the non Calvinists off, either because you plead ignorance or because (for some reason) you say that they are not in agreement. Hodges clearly says that he is in agreement with what he calls “the Reformer’s view” because he sees “no need to quarrel.”

    I do not know if JVM studied the Lordship controversy in great detail or not. I know this. He was a well read man and he saw no problem quoting Calvin’s maxim at least 3 times in the book referred to above.

    Interested observer: You ask the simple question: If a person's faith has no works, will they be justified? A better question, which would lead to less misunderstanding would be: If a person’s faith produces no works afterward, have they ever been justified?” To which I would do you the basic courtesy of answering, “No.”

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Sunday, August 03, 2008 6:13:00 AM  

  • Colin,

    If your overly-used and meaningless mantra means what you are interpreting it to say, we have left specific language articulation at the door.

    1) The mantra is self contradictory. "You are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves you is never alone." Let me complete it: "You are saved by faith alone (apart from works), but the faith that saves you is never alone (apart from works)." This is internally inconsistent.

    2) You interpret it this way: "the faith that justifies LEADS AFTERWARDS TO works." The words "the faith that justifies is not alone" do not convey this. It would have been very easy to develop your mantra to say what you interpret it to say. But your self-contradicting mantra wants its cake and to eat it too!

    You can't have a faith alone and a faith that is not alone at the same time. This is the traffiking of nonsense.

    It is disturbing how Calvinists are able to continue to believe these contradictory things. One is reminded of the Red Queen in the story of Alice in Wonderland. When Alice protested that there is no use trying to believe impossible things, the Queen said:

    ----------
    I dare say you haven't had much practice.... When I was your age I did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
    ----------
    (Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass (McMillian, 1880) pg 100)

    The Calvinist and the Red Queen have much in common as they both are in the business of believeing impossible things.

    Your pithy mantra states "the faith that justifies is not alone." We are saved by faith "alone" but that faith is "not alone". Surely this type of nonsense has been passed down un-questioned in the theological textbooks, and has had a quieting affect on Reformed Theology's opponents.

    3) Such mantra's like this have been used by Reformed Lordship Salvationists when they have actually imported the idea of "works" into the shell of the definition of "faith"

    So we have John MacArthur:

    "A concept of faith that excludes obedience corrupts the message of salvation" (TGATJ 174).

    "'Believe' is synonomous with 'obey'" (TGATJ 174).

    For many Reformed advocates, your pithy mantra does not merely mean for them "the faith that justifies LEADS AFTERWARDS TO works" but means that works are incorporated in the very definition of faith.

    If faith = obedience
    and faith = salvation
    then obedience = salvation

    If there is no obedience, there is no salvation.

    The less worried advocates of Reformed theology don't mince words. Although they will not call works "meritorious", they will call them "conditions". And works are a condition for final salvation in Reformed Lordship. If the works aren't there, hell is certain. If the works don't persevere, hell is certain. No works and no perseverance in works until the end = no heaven. To logically state the reverse, perseverance in works until the end = heaven.

    4) To state that faith "necessitates" works (something that neither Zane Hodges nor Bob Wilkin would assert!!!) rather than simply incorporating the idea of works into the definition of faith does not help the problem.

    Suppose you go to a car lot to buy a used car, and purchase a car for $5,000. If you have the $5,000, you may pay it right then. If you don’t, the salesman may arrange a loan for you to pay it back over a period of years. But does the fact that you don’t pay anything up front mean that you got the car free? Absolutely not. You are paying for it—the payment is just an inevitable result of your buying the car. To paraphrase the Classical Calvinist saying: "You are a car-owner by signing a sales agreement alone (apart from any money changing hands), but the signing of a sales agreement by which you are a car-owner is never alone (apart from money changing hands)." If the money doesn’t change hands, you lose the car (this wording reflects Arminian theology; in Calvinist theology, you never had the car in the first place!).

    So too it is foolishness to say that salvation is by faith alone, but that faith is not true faith unless it comes with works. Let’s be honest: this is salvation by works! And in unguarded moments Reformed Theologians often say exactly this.

    Again! John Gerstner is one such theologian. He writes:

    "From the essential truth that no sinner in himself can merit salvation, the antinomian draws the erroneous conclusion that good works need not accompany faith in the saint. The question is not whether good works are necessary to salvation, but in what way they are necessary. As the inevitable outworking of saving faith, they are necessary for salvation."

    Too bad, Colin, that you aren't as forthright with Interested Spectator as the late John Gerstner would have been. Intersted Spectator wrote:

    If a person's faith has no works, will they be justified?

    to which you should have responded:

    If there is no works, then there is no salvation, for works are an indispensible condition for final deliverance.

    It is high time to be honest about Reformed Theology, Colin!

    A perseverance in good works until the end of life is required for heaven in Reformed Lordship thought!

    And let us not go saying, "Oh, the works are of God do that only He can get the glory!"

    Have regenerate people now become automotons who have no exertion of their own in the works that God has planned for them to walk in? Remember, Paul can do all things through Christ who gives him strength. Paul is doing, Christ is strengthening. They are working in synergy.

    Let us end with the esteemed Charles Hodge:

    "Neither the members of the church nor the elect can be saved unless they persevere in holiness. And they cannot persevere in holiness without continual watchfulness and effort." (Charles Hodge, "A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians", pg 181)

    Hodge sure seems like he thinks the "member... of the church" has alot to do with his own perseverance in holiness, for he is "continual[ly in] watchfulness and effort."

    If a member of the church does not give himself to watchfulness and efort, he will not be saved, so says Reformed Lordship Theology.

    The Calvinistic mantra, remember, says "the faith that justifies is never alone" for if justifying faith is not accompanied by a perseverance in holiness, one goes to hell.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, August 03, 2008 3:38:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio,

    My interpretation of Calvin’s maxim does not contradict it, but explains it. There are many pithy maxims out there, including Scripture, which might admit of several interpretations as they stand but which, upon consistent interpretation, can only carry one meaning to the exclusion of the rest. For example: The Lord Jesus said “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” Immediately Nicodemus took a wrong view and challenged the statement, but further words of explanation put the matter right. The incident did not prevent the Lord Jesus from coining the phrase (maxim/mantra?) “Ye must be born again.”

    I do not believe that works, before or after salvation, play any part in justifying the soul before God. I do believe that God’s salvation is to the uttermost and that this includes salvation from the power of sin which will result in a new creation with old things passing away. Thus (as put to Interested Spectator) the question is not somuch “Will the soul be saved…” but “Has the soul been saved?” This is consistent with the view that works are the evidence of salvation and in no way a contributing factor.

    What I fail to see here is why your friend Hodges should defend the Reform view of salvation by saying that it should not be quarrelled with if it is as heretical and damnable as you insist it is. If you are right, then the book which graces your avatar is endorsing heretical doctrine.

    BTW, Men like JVM and Warren Weirsbe who used this disputed phrase were not Calvinists. They were simply Evangelicals.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Monday, August 04, 2008 1:51:00 AM  

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