Denominational News

Staying and ‘fighting for reform is not a viable option’
Largest congregation in Presbytery of South Louisiana
schedules vote to disaffiliate from PCUSA, join EPC

By Craig M. Kibler
Staff Writer

The Layman Online
Friday, September 28, 2007


Saying that “remaining in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and fighting for reform is not a viable option,” the largest congregation in the Presbytery of South Louisiana has scheduled a meeting next month to “terminate its voluntary affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and petition for voluntary affiliation with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.”

First Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, at the “unanimous recommendation of the session’s denominational affairs committee and the unanimous recommendation of the session,” has scheduled a congregational vote on the issue at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28.

The congregation has 1,592 members, according to official denominational statistics, compared to the average PCUSA congregation’s 209 members. The Presbytery of South Louisiana is comprised of 67 congregations in the southern part of the state, including New Orleans.

In a letter to members of the congregation posted Sept. 25 on the church’s Web site, the session wrote that, within the PCUSA, “the tolerance of a variety of theological viewpoints has led to theological pluralism. It was noted that after the passage of the PUP report, discipline is less likely. The PCUSA is declining and has a limited life span. Reform has no real chance of success.”

The affiliation issue, and not church property, is the sole purpose of the vote. A year ago, the Presbytery of South Louisiana declared that First Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, and not the presbytery or the PCUSA, owns the congregation’s property.

In a 55-13 vote Nov. 4, 2006, the presbytery agreed to a stipulated judgment that said First Presbyterian Church “holds all property titled in its name in full, complete and unfettered ownership” and that neither the presbytery “nor any person, entity, administrative unit, agency, commission, committee or governing body action on behalf of the Presbytery of South Louisiana or in its stead, or claiming by, through or under the Presbytery of South Louisiana, has any right, title or interest in or to the Property, whether in trust or otherwise, nor any right to determine control, directly or indirectly, the use or ownership of the property.”

The session said in the letter that the congregation’s “affiliation with the EPC is the most desirable option within the Presbyterian Church. The theological foundations of the EPC are sound, complete and embody the traditional and fundamental beliefs of the Presbyterian Church that we love. The [denominational affairs] committee acknowledges that any differences in polity could be identified and resolved within the five years of membership in the transitional presbytery.

While saying that separation from the PCUSA “will not be without consequences or pain,” the committee recommendation includes “continued, but limited financial support” to the presbytery.

In summation, the letter states that the “realization of our fullest potential as a church is through discontinuance of our affiliation with the PCUSA and voluntarily seeking affiliation with the EPC. Discontinuing affiliation will free our church from past ineffective efforts to reform the PCUSA. Affiliation with the EPC offers a more effective use of our resources, talent and energies in pursuing our shared vision of bringing the Gospel to the entire world.”

The complete text of the session’s letter to the congregation is as follows:

“Dear Members of First Presbyterian Church:

“As you know, for many months now, we have been considering the question of our denominational affiliation. The denominational affairs committee has issued their final report. After more than half a year of prayerful deliberations, dozens of interviews with church members, PCUSA officials, EPC representatives and pastors across the country, the committee brought to the session a unanimous recommendation: We are called to end our affiliation with the PCUSA and realign with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

“The board of trustees in calling for a meeting of the corporation has unanimously endorsed this recommendation. And, after two weeks of prayerfully considering the report, the session has now unanimously endorsed it. All four installed pastors have enthusiastically concurred. The final decision now rests with the congregation at the meeting called for 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28.

“The formal calls for the meetings are enclosed. Also, a summary of the conclusions reached by the committee is included. Further notes from the committee are available on the literature tables or our Web site.

“For many of us, the decision on Oct. 28 will be a joyful one, as we consider embracing a future where our cherished beliefs are nurtured and cherished, rather than placed in jeopardy, by the larger church of which we are a part. For others of us, this decision may be painful and even seem like a potential departure from our heritage and history.

“Please understand that, whatever the congregation’s decision, several things will remain constant:

  • “We will remain Presbyterian. Both the PCUSA and the EPC have roots in historic American Presbyterianism as expressed through both the old southern and northern branches.
  • “We will remain in relationship with Presbyterian churches in the Presbytery of South Louisiana. Though moving to the EPC would mean that we are no longer formally under the jurisdiction of the presbytery, our ties of friendship would continue. The session is recommending that we continue financial support of the presbytery in the near future. Moreover, Gerrit has had a personal meeting with Presbytery Executive Alan Cutter. He has been assured that the presbytery desires to bless us in whichever future God has called us, and he has assured Alan that we desire to continue in friendship and shared ministry wherever possible. We will invite representatives of the presbytery to our meeting.
  • “We will continue to be a church with clear, distinctive theological beliefs which feels called toward evangelism and mission, always seeking to be outward focused.
  • “We will continue to be a warm, accepting congregation flinging wide our doors to invite others to share our fellowship and worship. We will ever remember that the church is a hospital for sinners. Because we know what it means to have been lost, we can tenderly offer a savior to others.

We have four forums for consideration scheduled over the next month:

  • Sunday, Sept 30: Combined Sunday School, 10:15 in Sanctuary: “Hearing from our Peers” Alan Cutter and Russ Stevenson speaking.
  • Monday, Oct 1: 10:30-Noon. “What Would Life be Like in the EPC?” Bob Vincent (pastor, Grace EPC, Alexandria)
  • Sunday, Oct 15: Combined Sunday School, 10:15 in Sanctuary: “Hearing from the EPC” Jeff Jeremiah (Stated Clerk, EPC) and John Adamson (elder, 2nd Pres Memphis). ?
  • Tuesday, Oct 16: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Open Forum, Reception Room.

“Please mark these dates, and especially Oct. 28, on your calendar. Join your elders in praying for God’s guidance and the church’s peace in these coming weeks.”

“Sincerely,

Mary Ann Harmon
Clerk of Session

Gerrit Dawson
Moderator of Session

Eugene Owen
President of Trustees

Notice of Congregational Meeting
“The session of First Presbyterian Church of the City of Baton Rouge has called a special meeting of the congregation, to be held in the sanctuary on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007, starting at 9 a.m. The purpose of this congregational meeting is to consider and decide whether the congregation shall or shall not adopt the unanimous recommendation of the session’s denominational affairs committee, and the unanimous recommendation of the session, that First Presbyterian Church of the City of Baton Rouge, terminate its voluntary affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and petition for voluntary affiliation with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and to consider such other actions as may be appropriate, if any, in respect of the congregation’s decision on the same.

Notice of Corporation Meeting
“The board of trustees of First Presbyterian Church of the City of Baton Rouge has called a special meeting of the members of the Corporation (all persons listed as a member on the active rolls of the congregation of the church), to be held in the sanctuary on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007, to begin immediately following adjournment of the special meeting of the congregation noticed for the same date. The purpose of this corporate meeting is to: amend the articles of incorporation to conform the method used for mailing notice of corporate meetings to the method used for mailing church bulletins, thereby reducing costs; clarify the quorum requirement; and take such other actions as may be appropriate, if any, in respect of any action taken at the meeting of the congregation noticed for the same date thereof.

Denominational Affairs Committee Conclusions and Recommendations

1. “The question demands timely resolution. The committee believes that postponing a decision would prolong confusion and unrest in FPCBR, and the level of involvement of our ministers behooves us to see resolution to the question now.
2. “Remaining in the PCUSA and fighting for reform is not a viable option. The tolerance of a variety of theological viewpoints has lead to theological pluralism. It was noted that after the passage of the PUP report, discipline is less likely. The PCUSA is declining and has a limited life span. Reform has no real chance of success.
3. “FPCBR’s Affiliation with the EPC is the most desirable option within the Presbyterian Church. The theological foundations of the EPC are sound, complete and embody the traditional and fundamental beliefs of the Presbyterian Church that we love. The committee acknowledges that any differences in polity could be identified and resolved within the five years of membership in the transitional presbytery.
4. “Separation from the PCUSA will not be without consequences or pain. The decision is not going to be easy, and it will not be made without financial consequences. Separation will not be painless, and the committee recommends continued, but limited financial support to the Presbytery of South Louisiana.
5. “Realization of our fullest potential as a church is through discontinuance of our affiliation with the PCUSA and voluntarily seeking affiliation with the EPC. Discontinuing affiliation will free our church from past ineffective efforts to reform the PCUSA. Affiliation with the EPC offers a more effective use of our resources, talent and energies in pursuing our shared vision of bringing the Gospel to the entire world.

Therefore:

1. “Subject to an affirmative vote of the congregation (adopted by a majority of not less than two-thirds of those members present and voting), the committee recommends that the FPCBR notify the Presbytery of South Louisiana that we are terminating our voluntary association with the PCUSA. At the same time, we will advise the PSL of our conditional intentions of continuing financial support for a limited period in the future as described in detail elsewhere.
2. “Subject to the same affirming vote adopted by same majority as above, the committee recommends that FPCBR apply to the EPC for admission to the non-geographical presbytery.”

Submitted to Session Sept. 10, 2007

Craig M. Kibler is the Director of Publications/Executive Editor of The Layman and The Layman Online. He can be reached at cmkibler@layman.org.

Old Testament As Pattern For Education???

Reflection on Walter Brueggemann’s The Creative Word

Walter Brueggemann embarks to prove in his work The Creative Word that education is the seminal vocation we should be engaged in if we want our communities of faith to continue (at all) and to be places where we can be in true communion with our fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. His task is to prove to the reader not only where we should begin the process of learning and inculcating our community with the fiber of our communal energy but also where that process should take us and deliver us in the end.

Brueggemann starts chapter one with the thesis that “Every community that wants to last beyond a single generation must concern itself with education.”[1] He is exactly right in the circumstance that what makes a people truly confessionally bound are its reliance upon a shared history and dialectical make-up. Without the common thread found in communal language how can a community that ostensibly is made up of variations in age and surrounding milieu find a way to continue as a confessional community? This is what truly marks a group of believers to be more than just a collection of individuals but (as Paul specifies in 1st Corinthians) a unified body with many parts. In other words what makes Christian education so important in the context of the unity of the body is not so much the actual facts and information but the shared communal truth that both young and old, ignorant and educated, and laity and clergy impart upon each other when they share the common heritage that links them as one people not individuals with personal motives.

Brueggemann continues this conversation by elaborating on what this communal language should look like. He states that we should focus on the one place where we share along with our ancestors a common tongue and glossary. As was said above Brueggemann believes this is to be found in the books of Holy Scripture.[2] With his professional and academic legacy being in the Old Testament Brueggemann begins in chapter two to lay out exactly what this speech and lexicon should (and in his estimation) does look like.[3] He believes that we should start where Israel began in its educational process, which is with Torah. I agree with Breuggemann’s analysis here. If one is to use Holy Scripture as a basis and example for education one must begin where the Scriptures themselves begin and where they find their authority. For example the First Commandment tells us that we are to have no other gods before God. The effect this has on Brueggemann’s focus on using Torah for the foundation of an education system is to say that before we can teach our congregants anything about God, their faith, and their journey they first must know whom it is they are learning about. It does us no good to present the gospel to them if they do not know/understand why it is the Gospels are necessary in the first place.

Brueggemann states on page 15 in chapter two that he is convinced that the “educational enterprise can never be far from the canonical process”[4]. What Brueggemann implies here is never reasonably clear to me. While he tries to associate the words “canonical” and “binding” as synonymous his definitions for these two words do not quite link at the point in which Brueggemann seems to strive for in his book. For example, by using the quote from Deuteronomy 6:6-7 he plans to show that just as the canon of Torah was yet unformed in the writing of this passage, the object of the process of education (as seen in the process of canon) should also be seen as continually binding. In other words, Brueggemann wishes to show that as the readers of Deuteronomy were called to “…teach [the commands of Torah] diligently to [their] children”[5] so we are to bind our tradition in educating those who come after us in faith by conducting our vocabulary and narrative to them but that process should always be “living” just as the canonical process was for the Israelites[6]. However Brueggemann contradicts this point in chapter 3 when he makes the statement that “The Torah is not debatable.”[7]. How can something be in a living process if it is not debatable? While I agree with this statement on its own merit, that the Torah is not debatable, how can Brueggemann speak of the canonical progression as being a part of the ongoing educational process of the Israelites if the Torah is beyond debating? Brueggemann then goes on to contradict himself even further when just one page later he cites the work down by Walther Zimmerli in his work, “Prophetic Proclamation and Reinterpretation”, which says that the prophets “…use the Torah to argue against the Torah”[8]. How can the Prophets be used educationally to build upon the foundation we have already established with the Torah if the Prophets themselves, according to Zimmerli, seek to argue against the validity of the Torah itself? If the Torah is not debatable, as Brueggemann claims, then how can the Prophets contradict and critique the Torah? It makes very little sense, educationally, to build upon a foundation when the next story you construct upon it you believe will by its own nature deconstruct the binding you have already made. Now it is possible I may be misunderstanding Brueggemann on this point but it seems to me who is responding critically to the lack of authority the author gives to Scripture itself.

Although Brueggemann may not be clear and concise in keeping with his idea of the absolute nature of the Torah he is absolutely correct when he articulates on page 41 that, “A community illiterate of the Torah will not understand the prophet.”[9] Continuing with the critique I began above concerning Brueggemann’s understanding of the Prophets I concur with the author if he wants to use the Prophetic works to build upon the foundation of Torah but why, if this is his motive, use the Prophets to deconstruct the Torah? For example on page 45, Brueggemann uses three examples of what he calls, “…new, liberating truth”. It is as if the author wants to use the Prophetic works not to actually build upon what has come before but to show how the Israelites as they grew in knowledge improved upon what had come before. The author goes on to say, “In prophecy we are dealing with a new truth when the old truth controlled by human power has grown irrelevant and boring.”[10] It is hard to imagine what Brueggemann hopes to convey by wording it like this. I desire not to repeat myself again but it in this case my earlier critique bears repeating. How can one build upon a foundation that with the next step you are hell-bent on taking apart? In other words Brueggemann seems to define the educational system of the Old Testament as: 1) Learning what has come before (Torah), 2) Seeing how new and liberating truth can be found and used to critique what came before (Prophetic works), and 3) Thinking upon how to use that new and liberating truth to progress forward (Wisdom literature).

In closing, Brueggemann is absolutely correct in reasserting the importance of making Holy Scripture the underpinning, especially the law, prophets, and wisdom of the Old Testament, for our educational purposes. While I may not agree with the processes he uses to describe the method of teaching Scripture and especially may call into question how he can call for Scripture to be our foundation without acquiescing to its own individual divine right as the Word of God in its binding nature. I can see Brueggemann’s larger point that a community whose members do not know what it means to be a part of that body, which exists perpetually outside of themselves, will cease to share the identity of the community in which it claims to be a part. For without the Church having its foundation in something outside of itself, something that shares a communal energy and language, wherefore then shall the Church look for its own authority to communicate that tradition to the next generation? If we look to sources outside of our own tradition to educate our society we cannot hope for that community to continue on the path set forward by our ancestors and Scripture itself. However where Brueggemann really goes wrong is in his insistence that through education we can improve upon the substance of what has come before. It is absurd to think that just because we have come after the close of the canon of Scripture that we now know more than the writers of Scripture itself and it is our job as educators to see that what really binds us is not the essence of Torah or Prophets or Wisdom but the terms and shared covenant history of the aforementioned works of the Old Testament which really deliver us as a community of believers. This really comes through in how Brueggemann uses the three distinct parts of Hebrew Scripture to show how the Israelites themselves improved on each individual sections by teaching their generations the technical words of the section that came before.


[1] Breuggemann, Walter “The Creative Word” (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982) pg. 1

[2] Brueggemann, pg. 3

[3] ibid, pg. 14

[4] ibid, pg. 15

[5] Brueggemann, pg. 15

[6] ibid, pg. 15

[7] ibid, pg. 40

[8] ibid, pg. 41

[9] Brueggemann, pg. 41

[10] ibid, pg. 45

100% Amen

Thanks to the Reformed Pastor blog for this quote. I hope the liberals and the accommodationist conservatives who are tearing Christianity apart listen to and heed the words of this Anglican Archbishop.

The address made to the Episcopal House of Bishops yesterday by the Primate of the province of Jerusalem , Mouneer Anis. He was blunt, to the point, and didn’t obfuscate even a little bit:

Anglicans are aware with humility that we are not “the” church but we are one member of the body of Christ, the one Holy Catholic Church. We proclaim this every week in our churches. This places upon us the responsibility to listen to and respect our ecumenical partners.

My friends, you may believe you have discovered a very different truth from that of the majority in the Anglican Communion. It is not just about sexuality, but about your views of Christ, the Gospel, and the authority of the Bible. Please forgive me when I relay that some say you are a different church, others even think that you are a different religion.

I understand that it is difficult for you in your context to accept the standard teaching of the Anglican Communion. That is why you refused to accept Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10. You also ignored all the warnings of the Primates in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Your response to the Windsor Report is seen by the Primates as not clear. You cannot say you value being a member of the Anglican Communion while you ignore the interdependence if the member churches. The interdependence is what differentiates us from other congregational churches. I would like to remind you and myself with the famous resolution number 49 of the Lambeth Conference of 1930 which declares “the Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches that…are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference.” With respect, I have to say that those who would prefer to speak of laws and procedures, constitutions and canons, committees and process: you are missing the point! It is our mutual loyalty and fellowship, submitting to one another in the common cause of Jesus Christ that makes us of one Church one faith and one Lord.

It is clear that you actions have resulted in one the most difficult disputes in the Communion in our generation. You may see them as not core doctrinal issues. Many like me see the opposite but the thing that we all cannot ignore is that these issues are divisive and have created a lot of undesired consequences and reactions. For the first time in centuries, the fabric of our Communion is torn. Our energies have been drained and our resources are lost and it is difficult for both of us to continue like this.

My friends, if you really believe that the truth revealed to you is different from that shown to the rest of the Communion, then you need to uphold that claim with boldness even at the risk of losing unity. If you think it is right and necessary to ordain and consecrate practicing homosexuals and that you should bless same sex partnerships or even marriages, you should be true to what you believe is right and accept the consequences.

However, if you appreciate being members of the global Anglican family, then you have to walk along side the members of your family. Those who say it is important to stay together around the table, to listen to each other and to continue our dialogue over the difficult issues that are facing us are wise. We wholeheartedly agree with this, but staying around the table requires that you should not take actions that are contrary to the standard position (Lambeth 1.10) of the rest of the Communion.

The History of Justification

History of the Doctrine of Justification

by Dr. John Gerstner

“The doctrine by which the church stands or falls.” So said Martin Luther about justification by faith alone. John Calvin agreed, calling justification by faith the “hinge” of the Reformation. But was that the historic Christian view?
One may say generally of the history of the doctrine of justification that solafideanism (justification-by-faith-alone-ism) was taught implicitly, but not explicitly, from the beginning of the church. That is, it was known in the early church that salvation was by faith alone, but not until the sixteenth century was the church called upon to define that teaching more precisely. Those in the church who had quietly apostasized opposed this essential truth (adherents of Tridentine Roman Catholicism), while the faithful (Protestants), affirmed it. The Reformers defined and refined the doctrine in the fires of controversy.
The historian of doctrine, Louis Berkhof, correctly observed that in the early church faith “was generally regarded as the outstanding instrument for the reception of the merits of Christ, and was often called the sole means of salvation.” Faith rather than works were “repeatedly expressed by the Apostolic Fathers, and re-occur in the Apologetes. . . .”
The most influential theologian of the early church was certainly Augustine (354-430). Before we consider his teaching about our crucial doctrine, we note in passing that the standard creed of the Reformation, the Augsburg Confession (1530), found solafideanism in Augustine’s mentor and predecessor, Ambrose, under whose preaching Augustine was converted. Article VI of the Confession speaks of solafideanism: “The same [justification by faith] is also taught by the Fathers: For Ambrose says, ‘It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved freely receiving.’”
In spite of this, many cannot find the doctrine in Augustine. Many historical theologians interpret him as confusing justification with sanctification, of which justification is merely a part. This is not accurate, however. Though Augustine finds justification and sanctification inseparable, they are not indistinguishable. Augustinian justification leads into sanctification, but is not confused with it.
According to Augustine, man’s faith in Christ justifies him. Confession of Christ is efficacious for the remission of sins. We are justified by the blood of Christ, and we have no merits which are not the gifts of God. Of course, faith is active through love (fides quae caritate operatur), but this does not imply that justification is on the basis of love.
Before we leave Augustine, a relatively recent Roman Catholic work requires attention. Bergauer shows clearly that Luther disagreed not only with the Epistle of James but with Augustine as well. Luther became convinced that James was opposed to Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith alone and thus dismissed the epistle as non-canonical. Bergauer also notes that in so doing, Luther was consciously departing from Augustine as well. We agree with Bergauer that Luther erred with respect to James and Augustine. Bergauer’s work confirms, however, what we will shortly note, that Luther was clearly a solafideian, although without recognizing that James and Augustine were also. The Reformer erred, apparently because he could not find explicit forensic language in either James or Augustine.
Ian Sellers sees that it is the post-Augustinian movement which “conflates the immediacy of the act of justification with the later process of sanctification.” Nevertheless, many post-Augustinians kept their concepts clear as we will see even in the Scholastic era, though many did not.
Some Roman Catholics like to cry “Forward to the Middle Ages,” thinking that they there find authority for their antisolafideian doctrine. But Adolf Harnack insisted that if the medieval church had followed its favorite teacher, Thomas Aquinas, on justification, the Reformation would not have been necessary. The great earlier Scholastic theologian, Anselm, was also solafideian. He wrote his belief in a tract for the consolation of the dying, quoted by A. H. Strong:

“Question. Dost thou believe that the Lord Jesus died for thee? Answer. I believe it.
Qu. Dost thou thank him for his passion and death? Ans. I do thank him. Qu. Dost thou believe that thou canst not be saved except by his death? Ans. I believe it.” And then Anselm addresses the dying man: “Come then, while life remaineth in thee; in his death alone place thy whole trust; in naught else place any trust; to his death commit thyself wholly; with this alone cover thyself wholly; and if the Lord thy God will to judge thee, say, ‘Lord, between thy judgment and me I present the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; no otherwise can I contend with thee.’ And if he shall say that thou art a sinner, say thou: ‘Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and thee.’ If he say that thou hast deserved condemnation, say: ‘Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and thee, and his merits I offer for those which I ought to have and have not.’ If he say that he is wroth with thee, say: ‘Lord, I oppose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between thy wrath and me.’ And when thou hast completed this, say again: ‘Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between thee and me.’” See Anselm, Opera (Migne), 1:686, 687. The above quotation gives us reason to believe that the New Testament doctrine of justification by faith was implicitly, if not explicitly, held by many pious souls through all the ages of papal darkness.

Thus medieval Scholastics still taught justification as an instantaneous act. It was not until the Council of Trent (1545-1563) that justification was officially confirmed as a process based on human merit derived through divine grace. This was the article in Session VI, Canon 7 of the Council of Trent which led the Roman Catholic Church away from the orthodox teaching on justification.
For Luther, Rom. 1:17 and Mat. 4:7 taught that the righteousness of God was his mercy and pardon. Out went all human merit from indulgences to works of supererogation. As Article IV of Melanchthon’s Augsburg Confession, of which Luther approved, phrased it: “Men can be justified freely on account of Christ through faith, when they believe that they are received into grace and that their sins are remitted on account of Christ who made satisfaction for sins on our behalf by his death. God imputes this faith for righteousness in his own sight.” Luther elsewhere affirms that Christ’s righteousness is ours and our sins are his. Thus, he who was innocent became guilty of depravity, while we who were depraved became innocent.
Calvin, in his Institutes, citing Augustine and Peter Lombard, taught the same doctrine. Though the Genevan saw union with Christ preceding faith (whereas for Luther it followed faith). Berkhof is justified in saying “however Calvin may have differed from Luther as to the order of salvation, he quite agreed with him on the nature and importance of the doctrine of justification by faith.” Yet Edward Boehl is correct that Calvin avoided basing justification on the mystical union which equaled intercourse with God. However, this does not justify Boehl in saying that later Reformed theologians did so identify and thus approached the Lutheran heretic, Osiander. Osiander held “essential righteousness” where the Reformed tradition never deviated from imputed righteousness.
Nevertheless, John Tillotson;, Samuel Clarke, and some other Anglicans did introduce Tridentine thinking into the Church of England by confusing the inseparability of faith and works with the meritoriousness of each.
This same tension toward meritorious righteousness in and by the justified threatened Puritanism from the beginning. That Anglican John Donne (1573-1631) and Congregationalist John Owen (1616-1683), champions of solafideanism, admitted infused righteousness while denying any merit in it shows their sensitivity to the problem. Allison in his The Rise of Moralism has traced this English development into Arminianism and beyond in a somewhat parallel way to Joseph Haroutunian’s American sketch in Piety Versus Moralism.
Puritanism could admit — in fact, insist upon — sanctification (infused righteousness) as strenuously as imputed righteousness. It was inseparably connected with it. The one thing sanctification did not do, for the Puritans, was supplant justification. As we saw, Owen did not even hesitate to speak of justitia inhaerens. Righteousness was wrought in a man because it was first imputed to him. The evidence that it was imputed to him was its being wrought in him.
There is a sense in which Puritans saw righteousness as being wrought-in before being imputed — to. This was the prior union with Christ as the psychological basis of justification. Thus the foundation of imputation became union.
The offense which some found in solafideanism was that it taught acceptance by faith only. If this is so, the Arminians argued, an unsanctified man could go to heaven, and that could never be. They were partly right, since an unsanctified man can never go to heaven — without holiness. But they were partly wrong, for one justified by faith alone is not justified by the faith that is alone. Faith is inseparably connected with works, or sanctification, or inherent righteousness.
Once again, the error was in a failure to understand the truth. A correct objection was based on an incorrect apprehension. How often had the Reformers proclaimed with James (and Paul) that faith without works was dead. Justification without sanctification did not exist. As we have seen, solafideans were not opposed to inherent righteousness except as a justifying righteousness, which was precisely what Rome claimed it to be. The orthodox were as opposed — more opposed — to Antinomianism than the unorthodox.
Not understanding that solafideanism gave works a proper role, Arminians found an improper role for them. Since works, they felt, had to justify — and sinners had none — they used faith to bring down works to a sinner’s level. That is, they saw the work of Christ as satisfying God with the imperfect works of men. “Christ has brought down the market,” according to Henry Hammond. Our inadequate righteousness was made acceptable through Christ. Allison says that this was the imputation of faith of Baxter, Goodwin, and Woodbridge versus the imputation of Christ’s righteousness of Owen, Eedes, Gataker, Walker, and also of the early Anglicans Hooker, Andrewes, Downame, Davenant, Donne, Ussher, and Hill. Commenting on Arminianism, A. H. Strong has agreed with other scholars that the “Wesleyan scheme is inclined to make faith a work. This is to make faith the cause and ground, or at least to add it to Christ’s work as a joint cause and ground, of justification. . . .”
This, however, is a rather infelicitous way of expressing the difference. It amounts to a pun on the word impute. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness construes imputation as a reckoning of, or accrediting to, of Christ’s righteousness. The imputation of faith in this contrast means regarding faith as acceptable which, by legal definition, it is not. Even the Arminians admitted, as we shall see, that it was not really acceptable to God (as Christ’s righteousness was); but on their view the Son twisted his Father’s arm to make him act as if it were. This soteriological perversion was called Neonomianism (new-law-ism) because it was not the perfect law of God which was maintained but a new, stepped-down, imperfect, “lawless” law of God. So it became a apse into justification by works which were not even works.

Sad Story Locally

Mercyhurst student charged with killing her infant
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

ERIE, Pa. — Erie police charged a Mercyhurst College volleyball player today with killing the baby she secretly gave birth to in her on-campus apartment.

Teri Rhodes, 18, faces several criminal charges, including homicide and concealing the death of a child. Ms. Rhodes was to be arraigned later today in Erie.

The sophomore from Commerce, Mich., apparently hid her pregnancy from friends and teammates and passed a sports physical that cleared her to play volleyball just two days before she gave birth, police said.

A coroner ruled the death of the baby a homicide, saying the infant girl had been alive for about 10 minutes before being suffocated.

Ms. Rhodes left Mercyhurst and has been living at her parents’ house near Detroit.

First published on September 18, 2007 at 4:04 pm
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Cowardice Or Prudence?

The simple definition of these words are generally the same thing. I of course do not mean prudence in the classical Platonic sense for that concept has been dead for centuries, what I mean by prudence is the measure of action being so that the requisite or desired effect is accomplished in the proper, preordained time. I have often heard the term prudence given to the time the Church finds itself in today. Just wait, be prudent, do not cause disruption or disharmony. Well I have come to the conclusion that what is necessary for this day is not prudence for that in my mind is cowardice.

Martin Luther as he stood in front of the Diet of Worms is quoted as saying, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscious is neither right nor safe.” We sit in our comfortable positions as inquirers and candidates awaiting to leap over the hurdles that have been placed before us giving very little to no thought as to the task we are about to undertake. As people being called to the pulpit to preach the Word of God we might want to take a second and think about what a mighty weight that has been placed upon us. If we preach against that which we have sworn in front of God to preach how then can we have integrity with our congregations? If we preach against that which we have promised before God in our Ordination vows to preach how then can we go before God and offer the Sacraments to his people? As Ministers of the Word And Sacrament we are not bystanders in the life of the people of our congregation but are the authority to which they call out in agony. Our congregations plead for the truth of Christ and we give them nothing but moralistic tales and worthless chatter. Be convicted by the plethora of people who will burn in Hell because we are unwilling to preach the full gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord our God is a Jealous God who will partake of his vengeance upon those who blaspheme his Word and offer comfort to the demons that placate the ungodly. We deny the holiness and righteousness of Christ when we preach a gospel other than what is given to us in Holy Scripture. Our time is fleeting. We are but sinners in the hand of an angry God who demands perfect righteousness from those that rebel against his holy commands. No longer can we sit on the sidelines and offer up to God our platitudes and defenses. We must lay ourselves prostrate at the foot of the cross and seek forgiveness for our allowance of the lies and demonic words of those who preach a different gospel than Christ’s! We must not sit and wait for someone else to come along and do the work for us we have been charged by Scripture to preach an unfettered gospel, go from town to town teaching of the Mercy of Christ and shaking the dust off our feet in the towns that disregard the gospel. For as Christ says their fate shall be worse than Sodom’s.

Choose you know whom you will serve. Will you serve Christ or Satan? Will you eat of the manna of Christ or the moldy bread the world provides? As for me and my household we shall serve the Lord our God.

So think to yourself. Are you a coward or are you a Christian?