Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Frame on the Law/Gospel Distinction

Frame writes:

So the definitions that sharply separate law and gospel break down on careful analysis. In both law and gospel, then, God proclaims his saving work, and he demands that his people respond by obeying his commands. The terms “law” and “gospel” differ in emphasis, but they overlap and intersect. They present the whole Word of God from different perspectives. Indeed, we can say that our Bible as a whole is both law (because as a whole it speaks with divine authority and requires belief) and gospel (because as a whole it is good news to fallen creatures). Each concept is meaningless apart from the other. Each implies the other.

For those who have been spending a lot of time listening to the White Horse Inn, I think Frame's article (available here) may be a challenging and important counter-point.

Thanks to Ronald W. Di Giacomo and Steve Hays for bringing this to my attention.

-TurretinFan

73 comments:

Strong Tower said...

I think Frame hasn't really understood MH and company.

Turretinfan said...

Anything specifically?

Strong Tower said...

I don't think Horton makes the hard distinction that Frames is accusing: "The notion that we should conduct our lives completely apart from the admonitions of God’s word is a terrible notion. To ignore God’s revelation of his righteousness is, indeed, essentially sinful. To read Scripture, but refuse to allow its commands to influence one’s conduct, is the essence of sin."

Can Frame demonstrate this in Horton as his conclusion states?

Strong Tower said...

"Taken to an extreme, it is antinomianism, the rejection of God’s law. The traditional law/gospel distinction is not itself antinomian, but those who hold it tend to be more sensitive to the dangers of legalism than to the dangers of antinomianism."

Pshaw! Frame says this, but it almost appears he does hold that Horton is antinomian. What I think is that, in those who are too zealous to uphold the law an appeal weighted toward the Gospel is viewed as a threat. And are, to use Frames words, too sensitive to the dangers of overthrowing the commandments. As to over-throwing the commandments, nothing could be further from the truth in Horton.

Godismyjudge said...

Hey TF,

I haven’t been keeping up with things at the White Horse Inn; I just read Frame’s article and wanted to respond.

I thought Frame applied the wrong criteria when he looked for the 'proper' definition of gospel in scripture. He said: "I have, however, looked through the uses of the euaggel- terms in the NT, and I cannot find one instance in which the context excludes a demand for repentance (that is, a command of God, a law) as part of the gospel content. That is to say, I cannot find one instance of what the Formula calls the “proper” meaning of gospel, a message of pure comfort, without any suggestion of obligation."

Surprisingly, he himself notes in other parts of his paper that the law and gospel are often presented alongside each other and work together. He also notes the gospel obligates us to believe. But he seems to forget this when he examines scripture.

Also, his argument with respect to quietism seems to ignore the Lutheran doctrine of sanctification through faith.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Dan: I think you agree with Frame that what the Formula of Concord designates as the "proper" sense of the term "gospel" is not something found in Scripture.

I'm not sure how you think his comment about quietism would be affected by the additional point you raise about sanctification and faith in Lutheranism.

ST (1st comment): As for whether Frame can demonstrate it, I'm not sure. Does he try to demonstrate it in the article?

ST (2nd comment): As for the second comment, I think you have to take Frame at his word.

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

TF,

You said: I think you agree with Frame that what the Formula of Concord designates as the "proper" sense of the term "gospel" is not something found in Scripture.

I agree with Concord on the law/gospel distinction. Take 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 or Galatians 3. I agree with Concord that in those cases the Gospel is “a certain most joyful message and preaching full of consolation, not convicting or terrifying, inasmuch as it comforts the conscience against the terrors of the Law, and bids it look at the merit of Christ alone”.

Don't you agree with Luther on this?

You said: I'm not sure how you think his comment about quietism would be affected by the additional point you raise about sanctification and faith in Lutheranism.

As opposed to just waiting to be a better person or do the right thing (or obeying because of the threatenings of the law), one’s trust in Christ motivates good works.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

TF,

Does Turretin agree with Luther on the law/gospel distinction?

God be with you,
Dan

natamllc said...

Dan

I hope you will hear something in what I am going to share with you?

Col 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Col 1:10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Col 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
Col 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
Col 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.


Dan, you made this comment above and it is here that I detect something that I would like to explore with you, if you would be willing to explore it with me?

You wrote:

"As opposed to just waiting to be a better person or do the right thing (or obeying because of the threatenings of the law), one’s trust in Christ motivates good works."

Let me ask you for clarification, do you see it your place to be motivated to do good works? Do you believe God is calling you to be a better person now that you have come to believe Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God??

I would cite from Robert Capon's book Kingdom, Grace, Judgment Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus Eerdmans Publishing, pages 238-239:

"Everything that is not of faith is sin", says Paul in Rom. 14:23. In the last analysis, what the New Testament sets up as the opposite of sin is not virtue; it is faith.

page 239 "...For as in our first birth into this world we did nothing and triumphed gloriously, so in the second birth of our death we need do even less to triumph more. By Jesus' death in ours, and by our death in his, we have laughingly, uproariously, outrageously beaten the system. It is a piece of wildly Good News: what a shame we don't let the world of losers hear it more often.


Do you believe God is calling you into a life of good works now that you have received His and been acquitted also?

Rom 5:16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
Rom 5:17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Rom 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

abc said...

John Frame's article on law and Gospel is very confusing. A "jundo" a few years back was passing it out to some of us in the congregation in the positive and followed up with passing out Federal Visionist Mark Horne articles critiquing the law and gospel distinction.

I believe the article carries some personal baggage that Frame has with Westminster West.

Also, in the past Frame has been writing puffing up Federal Vision books. To be fair, he puffed up Concise Reformed Dogmatics written by two Dutch Confessionalists, but the problem is this distinction is stated in the positive all throughout this dogmatic.

In regards to the law and gospel distinction Luther held to it, Calvin held to it, and a lot of other Reformers such as the Beza, Ursinus, Olevianus, Perkins, Wollebius, Polanus, Owen, Turretin, Boston, the Erskines, Hodge, Warfield, Berkhof, Marrow Men, John Colquhoun.

The law and gospel distinction is integral to the doctrine of Justification.

Check the Heidelberg Catechism, you read there Guilt (Law), Grace (Gospel), Gratitude (response).

abc said...
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abc said...

whoops, I thought that it would place my email address when I submitted it through that option.

The comment with the ABC is me, names Inwoo

Turretinfan said...

abc:

Were the Westminster Divines Federal Visionists? I don't think so. Yet the Escondido distinctives are not found in the Westminster standards.

If the Escondido crowd wants to say that Westminster was wrong on justification, that's a very serious and very unsupportable claim.

-TurretinFan

abc said...

huh?

Are we reading the same Westminster Standards on Justification? Check the OPC report on Justification.

I'll put my shoes back on (that's how the Koreans do it here and abroad) and step out of this comment box. I think I know how this will end, not looking forward to a 100+ comment samurai showdown. I got some other things I want to respond to.

But if you happen to visit Seoul, I'll buy you a beer and we can chat it up like chaps.

So for now, ahnyoungigasaeyo.

Strong Tower said...

"If the Escondido crowd wants to say that Westminster was wrong on justification, that's a very serious and very unsupportable claim."

Are you channeling Rob Bell? Because this subjuntive forms an interrogative: "Is the Escondido crowd saying..."

And it appears it is rhetorical and you are saying yes. Is that correct? Are you making the charge that MH and others have rejected the WCF?

I agree with abc. Frames add-on conclusion is accusatory and not supported by the paper and smacks of vindictiveness. He needs to demonstrate his charges of aberrant orthodoxy on the part of MH, et alii, with facts. But his paper contains no such documentation supporting his conclusions. And if you are joining him, so do you.

abc said...

I have one shoe on and putting on the other one, while I'm still on this site,

This law and gospel article "bugged" me a lot because it was passed out in the positive to our congregation, so I went up to Horton (sorry to drop names) and asked him straight up, what the deal was, and he did remark that there were some personal baggage in the past with Frame and Westminster West. That's all I know.

Horton mentions Frame in passing in Covenant Justification and Pastoral Ministry on 216-217 in his rejection of the law and gospel distinction. Honestly, in all due respect to Frame, I don't think Frame knows what he is rejecting. Frame sees it as only a Lutheran distinction, but it is in Calvin as well.

Even Emil Brunner admitted in his correspondence with Karl Barth,

“Thus, it seems to me, I have no reasons to construct my prolegomena differently. The dialectical opposition of Law and Gospel is not specifically Lutheran, but it is clearly found in Calvin and the New Testament.”

abc said...

John W. Hart, Karl Barth vs. Emil Brunner: The Formation And Dissolution Of A Theological Alliance, 1916-1936 (New York: Peter Lang), 73.

Turretinfan said...

"Are we reading the same Westminster Standards on Justification? Check the OPC report on Justification."

Well, you were citing the Heidelberg Catechism, which is not part of the Westminster standards.

The Westminster Standards say:

"Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done." (WCF 19:7)

That tends to undermine the rigid distinctions set forth at Escondido.

Turretinfan said...

S.T.: I think the Escondido crowd may be wandering outside the standards (I've pointed that out about DGH's deficient view of the law, for example), but my question was really meant as a question.

-TurretinFan

abc said...

I'm still tying my shoes.

Oh yeah WSC 19.7, Westminster West would agree! The third use of the law.

And Westminster West would agree with WSC 19.6 as well which is before it:

"6. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of his obedience."

There I hear the law and gospel distinction here in 19.6 and 7.

It speaks of the 1st use of the law and of it's third use, just like the Heidelberg Catechism (HC); go to the third part of the Heidelberg question 86-129. I'm not pitting the HC and the WSC. Both agree in regards to guilt, grace, and gratitude.

I've been a listener of the White Horse Inn for a long time, and they don't neglect the third use of the law. They do however make an important emphasis on Justification and the role of the law. The White Horse Inn folk want to point Christians to Christ finished work for the sinner's behalf and not to a righteousness of their own (which are filthy rags), but an alien righteousness, Christ's righteousness imputed to the sinner. They warn Christians (especially people like myself who needs the Gospel every given Sunday), in a climate where the Gospel is being confused, who depend on their sanctification as having something to do with their right standing before God.

abc said...
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Strong Tower said...

But, but, but...

The "crowd" doesn't deny those aspects of the law in its gracious working together with the Gospel. They do not make the hard distinction of which Frame accuses them, in the same contexts. Frame doesn't seem to appreciate Horton's resounding inclusion of imperatives. You have to be blind to miss it. Horton nowhere rejects God's law. He places it within the right context. Reading Moses blinds, but in Christ eyes are openned to the proper use. Horton's stressing the distinction is reaction, no doubt, but to a creeping Romanism that invites a form of justification through works. The caution of adding anything to Christ's finished works is not a fault. He does not deny that commands such as, repent, be baptized, or the like, are not commands, i.e., law. And he insists that the commands adhere to the Gospel. They just do not form the causal change of justification, but are rather, even in the section of the WCF you quoted, the outworking of it.

Strong Tower said...

In Turk's take, he thought as Frame does. I am flummoxed. I have yet to find in Horton any such denial of the working of the law. Now, what some do is eliminate the necessary prior work of the Holy Spirit which the WCF affirms is necessary. Those devines deemed it critical to emphasize that the good works we do add nothing, neither in regeneration or in sanctification, to the Holy Spirit's work. Horton, just as the WCF, places the emphasis correctly upon that finished work of Christ which is first worked by the Holy Spirit working in us both the willing and the doing.

Even where Frame quoted the Concord he missed a crucial little, "inasmuch." And by doing so incorrectly concluded that the Concord denied the aspects of the law working by grace in the Gospel. But, the juxtapositions in the Formula were Moses and Christ, Law and Gospel, not merely law and Gospel. The "inasmuch" vacates Frames complaint, altogether. The distinctions remain if Frame hadn't have overlook that one little word. The distinction holds. Under the Law the obedience produced (at least that was the agreement), but it could never take away guilt. Under grace obedience does not produce either justification, nor sanctification. In the WCF, it holds true: "and because, as they are good, they proceed from His Spirit, and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.

VI. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in Him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreproveable in God's sight; but that He, looking upon them in His Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections." It is Christ's obedience, not ours which is imputed to us. Period.

It is that distinction, between Moses and Christ, Law and Gospel, and not a bare distinction between law and Gospel that Frame seems to be unable to frame. Because "inasmuch" as the Gospel provides what the Law could not, there is a vast gulf between the two which cannot be bridged by any efforts of man. Those aspects of the law which could not satisfy remain with Moses. They cannot cross over. So the Formula agrees with the WCF, it does not contradict it.

Frames discussion of the subjective comes close to subjectivism. Which is where Horton would part company. Frame confuses experience with experimental. Horton does not reject the experimental nature of faith. Of course, it is subjectively realized, of course it is experienced. How else? But, to say that it is faith because we experience it, gets the cart before the horse. Just so, to say that we do the law so that faith is realized. We do the law because faith has been realized and that in Christ who is both our justification and our sanctification, both the author and perfecter, both the one who works the will and the works, both the one who has given us our faith and is completing it until the Day.

abc said...

Here's an example, Horton on the White Horse Inn interacting with a quote from John Wesley

"If we took Grace too seriously especially the doctrine of election it would undermine our only basis for pursuing a holy life, fear of punishment and hope of rewards."- John Wesley

"but isn't that (to the quote above) a selfish motivation for the Christian life? That has always been the fear, "Too much grace it will throw a wrench in the whole process of Christian growth." But the scriptures insist that a legalistic view of the Christian life is what leads us right back to fear and bondage. Since the law, though good in of, of itself could never give us the power to perform what it commands; the gospel not only reconciles us to God in the first place, it's the only fuel we have to keep us going in the process of santification. Therefore gratitude not fear of punishment or hope of reward is the only proper basis for pursuing a holy and God glorfiying existence. Folks, if our salvation depended on us for one moment even in the slightest degree, we would eventually either become self-rightouess, pretending that we were actually pulling it off, or we would despair of ever knowing whether God really accepted us. How could we possibly love God and serve our neighbor freely if we were still caught up in the saving of our own skin."- The Intro to Guilt, Grace, Gratitude on the White Horse Inn.

If you have Frame's hook in your mouth, take Frame's fish hook out and listen to White Horse Inn's Justification series which aired in 2004, especially "What They're Saying Today About Justification." I can email you this series to you. The folks interact with legalism and antinomianism.

The charge that the White Horse Inn and Westminster West folk get is the charge of antinomianism, but Paul too anticipated that charge in Romans 6:1.

Martyn Lloyd Jones paraphrased, if no one has given a charge to a minister of the Gospel of antinomianism or license maybe he is not preaching the Gospel.

I think you have a caricature of Westminster West you would possibly even have the same qualms of Old Princeton Seminary (check David B. Calhoun work and Machen's Christianity and Liberalism). If you go on Westminster West's website they give you chunks of what they are teaching through their chapel messages, Office Hours, articles from the faculty, etc.

Shoes on, time to get some kimbap.

Strong Tower said...

What's kimbap?

Sound's like the unknown dish at a Baptist potluck.

abc said...
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Strong Tower said...

Sound good. I am a Baptist, former SBC, who is a member of a PCA. So I can affirm, Presby food is on a whole an elivated delight.

Watch out for blogger. It eats comments. Copy and keep, wait. Yesterday I lost a couple responses here and gave up. If you have two windows open on a particular post, blogger thinks you're illegal and you'll get an error message. Then again, sometimes it just disappears mysteriously, and sometime will just reappear, even when you don't want it to.

abc said...
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abc said...
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natamllc said...

ABC

taking my shoes off before you get your tied on, you write:

"I'm not pitting the HC and the WSC. Both agree in regards to guilt, grace, and gratitude.

I've been a listener of the White Horse Inn for a long time, and they don't neglect the third use of the law. They do however make an important emphasis on Justification and the role of the law. The White Horse Inn folk want to point Christians to Christ finished work for the sinner's behalf and not to a righteousness of their own (which are filthy rags), but an alien righteousness, Christ's righteousness imputed to the sinner.


I am assuming "wsc" is the same as WFC in your sentence above cited?

Now, just a couple of things then.

First, thanks for saying that about "not" pitting the HC with the WCF!

I would note only a simple thing that the Apostle grasped and because he did, the Holy Spirit allowed it to become a part of our commission, that is, sola scriptura, that is, we hopefully, without pitting ourselves against one another, that is, we sometimes do, advertently or inadvertently do, that is, the "Gospel" was preached before the "Law" was given and written down and practiced.

It is the "practice" that saves me!

Second, can you venture to explain , if you can, just how those "White Horse Inn folk", distinctives that you point too are explained against the reality of this reprobate society, or world, the evil and rebellious system that clearly is against everything God, God's Grace, God's Mercy or God's Elect by God's Peace working against us to keep us from entering into His salvific Rest?

Maybe you will want to take your shoes off or I will want to put mine on? :)

inwoolee said...
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inwoolee said...
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natamllc said...

Strong Tower,

funny thing is I am slow of heart to understand. For some reason after all this time I never put the connection together with your blog handle, "strong tower" and Scripture until this morning when I was reading Proverbs 18:10!

I hope I am correct? :)

Now then, I am intrigued with what you are writing in here!

Wanting to mine the gold, I venture outside the discussion within the frameworks of both Frame and Horton heading deep into the vein of glory I sense in my spirit is there in yours!

You write above in response, as a defense of Horton, I assume, this:

"They do not make the hard distinction of which Frame accuses them, in the same contexts. ...".

I'm at a loss here. Can you publish exactly the words Frame uses to frame an accusation?

Now, to the meat of my comments directed towards you, setting aside this matter between Frame and Horton, I would like to drawn from your wellsprings, here:

"Now, what some do is eliminate the necessary prior work of the Holy Spirit which the WCF affirms is necessary. Those devines deemed it critical to emphasize that the good works we do add nothing, neither in regeneration or in sanctification, to the Holy Spirit's work.

Can you work it? Work it here for me as I am captivated by those words and especially what you say about good works adding nothing, neither in regeneration or in sanctification, to the Holy Spirit's work!

For me, that transcends rhetoric. You obviously did not intend on rhetoric here. And my guess is, the Holy Spirit has indeed led you and is leading you and by this "practice" of cross living it can be asserted of you you also know what the Apostle meant when he wrote:

Rom 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Rom 15:14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

abc said...
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abc said...
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abc said...
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Inwoo said...

Here's an example, Horton on the White Horse Inn interacting with a quote from John Wesley

"If we took Grace too seriously especially the doctrine of election it would undermine our only basis for pursuing a holy life, fear of punishment and hope of rewards."- John Wesley

"but isn't that (to the quote above) a selfish motivation for the Christian life? That has always been the fear, "Too much grace it will throw a wrench in the whole process of Christian growth." But the scriptures insist that a legalistic view of the Christian life is what leads us right back to fear and bondage. Since the law, though good in of, of itself could never give us the power to perform what it commands; the gospel not only reconciles us to God in the first place, it's the only fuel we have to keep us going in the process of santification. Therefore gratitude not fear of punishment or hope of reward is the only proper basis for pursuing a holy and God glorfiying existence. Folks, if our salvation depended on us for one moment even in the slightest degree, we would eventually either become self-rightouess, pretending that we were actually pulling it off, or we would despair of ever knowing whether God really accepted us. How could we possibly love God and serve our neighbor freely if we were still caught up in the saving of our own skin."- The Intro to Guilt, Grace, Gratitude on the White Horse Inn.

If you have Frame's hook in your mouth, take Frame's fish hook out and listen to White Horse Inn's Justification series which aired in 2004, especially "What They're Saying Today About Justification." I can email you this series to you. The folks interact with legalism and antinomianism.

The charge that the White Horse Inn and Westminster West folk get is the charge of antinomianism, but Paul too anticipated that charge in Romans 6:1.

Martyn Lloyd Jones paraphrased, if no one has given a charge to a minister of the Gospel of antinomianism or license maybe he is not preaching the Gospel.

I think you have a caricature of Westminster West you would possibly even have the same qualms of Old Princeton Seminary (check David B. Calhoun work and Machen's Christianity and Liberalism). If you go on Westminster West's website they give you chunks of what they are teaching through their chapel messages, Office Hours, articles from the faculty, etc.

Shoes on, time to get some kimbap.

-inwoo

abc said...
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Strong Tower said...

"I'm at a loss here. Can you publish exactly the words Frame uses to frame an accusation?"

The accusation is in the conclusions and Frame used what preceded that to frame Horton. But that is the whole point, he didn't demonstrate Horton at fault. It is almost as if he wrote the preceding and just attached a sticky note. The accusation is one that TF identifies when he says: "Yet the Escondido distinctives are not found in the Westminster standards." And, "I think the Escondido crowd may be wandering outside the standards (I've pointed that out about DGH's deficient view of the law, for example), but my question was really meant as a question."

And I take it that he is honest because I have not known him to be otherwise and doesn't directly incriminate Horton. I don't really understand what distinctives TF alludes to, or who DGH is, but here, in reference to a so-called "hard-distinction" I think Horton is well within WCF bounds.

What I meant by our works adding nothing is simply what the WCF states. We are viewed as His own Son- despite our failings and the irreducible corruption of sin when doing good works, our good works, in as much as they are good, are approved as having perfectly been performed because of Christ. That does not eliminate our obligation to the law, rather, it intensifies our persuit of it. Or should. It likewise intesifies our grief in our sin. The law actually does work repentance through conviction but not as means of reward but as reward. Repentance cannot provide repentance. Repentance is a matter of sanctification, and like all things pertaining to life, through Christ, God has provided it as a gift. So Scripture says, will not God who raised Christ from the dead not give us all things? This is a confidence we have, but not because of the law, rather, because of the Gospel, in which the law is made alive and is our life. So that, Ezekial says of the Lord that he will put a new heart in us and cause us to walk in his statutes- regeneration, and sanctifcation, both as gifts of God. So as the confession makes clear, these two working together, law and Gospel, are life.

The distinction is one of what Paul said in reference to the law. It was meant for life and good, but sin made it a killer. Under the Law it was contingent upon man to work it in and work it out. Under grace, it is God who works both the willing and the doin in us. Rather than being the ones offering the sacrifices we become living sacrifices, holy and acceptable as we are, fitted by his providence for the work he is doing. In short the distinction is who is do the work? True enough we are active, but as Paul also says, what do we have except that which we have received? Or elsewhere, by the grace of God I am what I am.

Strong Tower said...

My hope also is that: by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

The WCF state this: "Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of His good pleasure"

As Christ simply put it, "Without me, you can do nothing."

abc said...
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Turretinfan said...

ABC:

Please clean up your redundant comments. When the spam filter holds your comments, it does no good to keep posting them over and over again.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

A view is within bounds if it does not contradict the standards. However, there are some views that don't contradict the standards, and yet are not expressed in the standards. For example, the standards don't take many positions with respect to eschatology. Escondido theology is Amillenial, but that distinctive is not found in the standards. That doesn't mean that Escondido theology is no longer "within bounds." The standards are big tent enough to encompass a variety of millenial views.

The standards don't express a rigid distinction between Law and Grace. That doesn't - in itself - mean that Escondido theology is out of bounds on that point. Like eschatology, the degree of distinction may be a within-the-tent issue.

On the other hand, if Frame is right, it may be a bigger problem. It may actually contradict the standards. If it does, then it is out of bounds.

But perhaps it is a tempest in a teapot. I look forward to examining what Horton himself has said more carefully.

natamllc said...

Leaving the early part, the mess, for you and TF to sort out, I would comment on this:

ST:

"... That does not eliminate our obligation to the law, rather, it intensifies our persuit of it.

!!!

The Apostle Paul asks us:

Rom 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

ST:

" "Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ."

The Apostle Paul, again, in two places, uses this Greek Word and he is the only New Testament writer to do so: συζωοποιέω
suzōopoieō
sood-zo-op-oy-eh'-o
From G4862 and G2227; to reanimate conjointly with (figuratively): - quicken together with.



Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--

...

Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,


The union God causes to occur is quite amazing!

Why is a mystery.

But, setting aside that argument, the mystery why some are and some are not, this goes to the heart of what I was going after with Dan in my earlier comment to him.

We have been adopted. We have been grafted in. We have been born again.

I had nothing to do with my resurrection to Life. Just like Lazarus, while decomposing in his burial tomb, had nothing to do with being "made alive with Christ", conjoined and reanimated to His Eternal Glory, to His Glorious Body, to His Life Giving Spirit, so we have done nothing to be made alive with Christ nor will we be able to sustain that "nothing" once made alive with Christ, too! It is apt to say: "by Christ alone"!

This is such a hard thing to comprehend as we mature in Christ it makes some sense out of the issue you are raising with TurretinFan about Frame's accusation and Horton, Escondido et. al..

All I can say is I have learned much from this man, TurretinFan. Might it be someday that I will actually be able to put a name and face to the voice I have listened too these several years and to the much reading his articles inspire?

For him to make the distinction here is sufficient enough for me to at least ponder the issues.

I appreciate your elucidating the differences between Frame's work and Horton's.

I know very little about each and when someone makes comments like yours, it gives me pause to be more attentive to my natural responses when reading or listening to ones such as those two men, Frame and Horton.

natamllc said...

Strong Tower, is this what you refer as an "accusation"?:

The sharp distinction between law and gospel is becoming popular in Reformed, as well as Lutheran circles. It is the view of Westminster Seminary California, Modern Reformation magazine, and the White Horse Inn radio broadcast. The leaders of these organizations are very insistent that theirs is the only biblical view of the matter. One has recently claimed that people who hold a different view repudiate the Reformation and even deny the gospel itself. On that view, we must use the term gospel only in what the Formula calls the “proper” sense, not in the biblical sense. I believe that we should stand with the Scriptures against this tradition.

Strong Tower said...

The whole thing is an accusation, nat.

Frame names no names. I don't like that much. Frame is saying that those who hold such a view have rejected Scripture as the rule of faith and are in sin. Without a name, and a source reference, who can begin to say that? Is it just his opinion that from the WHI perspective we cannot use the term law, except in the ways he decides? Isnt' that a double standard? It is hard to determine from where Frame is coming, then. Frame's accusation is serious, as TF says. One that should be ajudicated, if true. Perhaps TF will substantiate the claim. Perhaps too, I have been blind to its substance. TF said that MH et al., might be out of bounds because the WCF doesn't make a hard distinction between Law and Grace. However: "Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned..." It does here, at least in some aspect, as Frame admits of Scripture, and that aspect is what the WHI also upholds in the WCF. There is a distinction drawn. TF may say this is not a hard distinction. Okay. But only if the term law is used monolithically in Scripture. Frame admits this it is not: "Now if people want to define gospel more narrowly for a specific theological purpose, I won't object too strongly. Scripture does not give us a glossary of English usage." And, "Although this distinction differs from the biblical uses of the terms, it does become useful in some contexts." So, I can allow it. But only inasmuch as it doesn't become some form of merit system which Frame nearly implies is the case. I am curious to find out what TF will find out about MH nuanced use of the term law.

I just noticed something TF, why did you change Gospel to Grace? The comparison was Law/Gospel, not Law/Grace. If that is what you are intending, that makes a whole lot of difference. As the WCF has it, the distinction is made between works and grace, i.e., Law and Gospel, not law and Gospel. And, as Frame says, it appears that the use of the terms haved blended so that no clear distinction can be made. That is what Horton says. But, Frame himself admits to a hard distinction when the terms are applied in their proper contexts, at least between works as a means to justification and justification by grace. So perhaps, he is falling to his own device, that since his definitions don't match MH, MH is in the wrong.

Frame also says: "Indeed, our righteousness is measured by our obedience to God’s commands." Um, really? Not according to the WCF. Our righteousness is measured by Christ. "When God threatens punishment, and we turn from wickedness to do what he asks, that is not a sin, but a righteous response." And no doubt it is when measured by its own virture and not ours. "When God promises reward, it is a good thing for us to embrace that reward." But is the definition of righteousness monolithic, or is Frame using two distinct nuances of good in this? The fact is he is confusing terminology.

"The notion that we should conduct our lives completely apart from the admonitions of God’s word is a terrible notion. To ignore God’s revelation of his righteousness is, indeed, essentially sinful. To read Scripture, but refuse to allow its commands to influence one’s conduct, is the essence of sin."

And this is the accusation leveled in the conclusions. Unbiblical, Frame says, indeed sin. But, it is not appropriate to label MH with this from anything I have ever seen.

After re-reading Frame's paper, I stick with my first assessment, Frame is confused, and in his confusion he has found what he thinks is a cause against MH.

Turretinfan said...

Yes, a typo on my part. "Grace" should be "Gospel."

Turretinfan said...

ST: It could be that Frame's confused. It could be that you're confused. Saying that he's confused may identify a disconnect, but it does not address any errors in his presentation.

More specifically, let me put it this way:

One option is that Frame's positive presentation is right on the money, but he mistakenly thinks that Horton disagrees. Horton does not disagree, in fact Horton would agree with everything Frame says positively.

Another option is that Frame's positive presentation is mistaken. He has made a mistake somewhere in his reasoning or exegesis or both. However, he's right that Horton disagrees as well Horton should!

If you're asserting the former, I guess it's really no big deal. If you're asserting the latter, just saying that Frame is confused doesn't really help me to identify the positive errors in Frame.

Now, you could say that the first option is a big deal, because people know who he is talking about, and he's falsely accusing them. Well, perhaps that is a big deal. But that gets us away from Frame's positive points and into his negative points, which to me is less of a big deal.

Why? Because I think that documenting what Horton teaches is the relatively easy part. Horton is still around and we can ask him questions, if there something unclear in his numerous writings and other recorded comments.

-TurretinFan

Strong Tower said...

No doubt I get confuse.

"that gets us away from Frame's positive points and into his negative points, which to me is less of a big deal."

I agree that there can be a real concern. However, Frame says: "That is to say, I cannot find one instance of what the Formula calls the “proper” meaning of gospel, a message of pure comfort, without any suggestion of obligation. And there are important theological reasons why that use does not occur."

But that isn't what the Formula said. He missed the "inasmuch." Section 6 makes the juxtaposition Moses vs Christ, not obligations vs grace. It doesn't evicerate but further defines the nuance of how the law didn't work under Moses and why it does under Christ. Wherein, the Gospel is the satisfaction of the law, and where the Law provides no such thing. In that, the Gospel is not properly the preaching of repentance and conviction, but properly the announcement that those commandments are satisfied in Christ. In otherwords, it moves us from an implicit faith in the doing so as to receive, to the explicit faith of having what is to be done. For some reason Frame wants to make a big deal of this when the reality is that it is not saying that repentance and conviction are not part of the evangel, rather, that they are not the same in the sense that the Gospel answers what the Law never could. The formula says, simply, that the Law contained no comfort, the Gospel does. Moses offered no comfort, Jesus did. In that there is a hard distinction. The strict separation of law and Gospel that Frame is looking for isn't in the Fromula section six.

At least in my opinion.

Now, as to what Frame has to say concerning where there are those who make a clear break with the law altogether, I think he is right. And if he is saying that things like the Formula and WHI being infected by Lutherans, can be a seed bed for the error, then okay, I can buy that. But that is a danger inherent in the Gospel, e.g., the charge of antinomianism. And if that is what you mean by the positive then, amen. I have not ever known Horton to deny the laws of God as binding upon NT believers, however. I have not ever known him to be offering any kind of excusism. In fact, I have only known him to reaffirm that law has a necessary function within the context of the Gospel.

In the Hood/Turk tussle Horton issued this: "The danger of legalism becomes apparent not only when we confuse law and gospel in justification, but when we imagine that even our new obedience can be powered by the law rather than the gospel. The law does what only the law can do: reveal God’s moral will. In doing so, it strips us of our righteousness and makes us aware of our helplessness apart from Christ and it also directs us in grateful obedience. No one who says this can be considered an antinomian. However, it’s not a matter of finding the right “balance” between law and gospel, but of recognizing that each does different work. We need imperatives—and Paul gives them. But he only does this later in the argument, after he has grounded sanctification in the gospel.

The ultimate antidote to antinomianism is not more imperatives, but the realization that the gospel swallows the tyranny as well as the guilt of sin. It is enough to save Christians even in their failure and not only brings them peace with God in justification, but the only liberation from the cruel oppression of sin. To be united to Christ through faith is to receive everything that we need not only to challenge legalism but antinomianism as well."

This is what Section 6 announces. And what Frame denounces. But again, I don't think Frame knows what he is speaking of in that.

What more needs to be said?

abc said...

I deleted the many duplicates, apologizes. I thought blogger.com was eating the comments up, so I tried posting and posting again.

abc said...

Ok so in Frame’s critique on the White Horse Inn and Westminster Cali on the law and gospel article you linked to Frame states in his concluding observation:

“The sharp distinction between law and gospel is becoming popular in Reformed, as well as Lutheran circles. It is the view of Westminster Seminary California, Modern Reformation magazine, and the White Horse Inn radio broadcast. The leaders of these organizations are very insistent that theirs is the only biblical view of the matter. One has recently claimed that people who hold a different view repudiate the Reformation and even deny the gospel itself. On that view, we must use the term gospel only in what the Formula calls the “proper” sense, not in the biblical sense. I believe that we should stand with the Scriptures against this tradition.”
Then Frame goes on endorsing Concise Reformed Dogmatics by two Dutch Reformed confessionalists, van Genderen and Velema. Frame states regarding the Dogmatic:

"When an 800 page book has "Concise" in its title, we expect a different perspective. Indeed, this book comes from the Netherlands, the land of Kuyper and Bavinck, where three- and four-volume theology texts are the rule. Indeed, Concise Reformed Dogmatics is immersed in the theological traditions and dialogues of continental Europe, though its main allegiance is to the Scriptures by which, the authors say, all dogmas must be tested. English speaking Christians should be better acquainted with the perspective of our European brothers. In this book we will get that broader picture, while being reminded that good, solid Reformed theology can be found in many locations. So the book edifies in both its similarities and its differences from the way we formulate doctrine."
- Dr. John Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary

And here are some quotes taken from Concise Reformed Dogmatics regarding the law and gospel distinction:

Taken from Concise Reformed Dogmatics (1992).

“3. It remains to discuss whether we should consider the law as the preeminent means whereby knowledge of sin is worked in man. We encounter this idea in Pietism and a number of representatives of the Second Reformation.

In opposition to this view we identify two clear perspectives. In the first place we recall the fact that Paul declared the law to be “weak through the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). We realize that he uses these words in a different context than we do here. Yet there is a similarity. The undoing through the law is part of true repentance. It may be viewed as the dying of the old nature. If the law on its own (preceeding and therefore separate from the gospel) would be able to break a man, it would be an effort on the part of the law. However, the law is unable to change a sinful heart. Works of the law do not please God. It is rather sinful man tends to employ the law to justify himself. It is impossible for the law by itself to humble man before God.

The law rather leads to hardening of sin. Paul clearly identifies this tendency of the law to multiply sin (Rom. 3:20; 5:20). He recognizes God’s judgment in this. Sinful man employs the law to justify himself before God. This is how he multiplies his sins. He abuses the law to this effect.

One should not treat the preaching of the law in isolation. The entire Word of God comprises both the law and the Gospel. No one can preach the Gospel while ignoring the accusation of the law. Theologically, the accusation comes first. How can the acquittal be announced before the accusation has been brought foward?

As accusation, the law always precedes the preaching of the gospel and resonates in it. However, by limiting oneself to the accusation, one would fall short of the mandate to preach God’s Word. By stopping after the word of the law, one cuts the gospel in half by eliminating its saving and purifying perspective. It causes despair without indicating the way back to God” (433).

abc said...

And then again in the same dogmatic that Frame endorses,

50.3 Law and Gospel

1. The Word of God comprises law and gospel. In the law God reveals his will to us. His law encompasses much more than the “ten words” of Exodus 20 (Deut. 5), although the Decalogue is indeed of fundamental significance for the relationship between the Lord and his people. The core of the commandments is the commandment to love (Matt. 22:37-40). The gospel proclaims to us salvation in Christ. It comes to us in the promise of the gospel.
(Chapter 14 The Means of Grace, The Word as a means of grace. The italics belong to the authors)

“This “sharp” distinction”? What does Frame mean by sharp distinction. Frame states, if I am understanding in regards to Frame’s understanding of sharp, you have to sharply distinguish the law and the gospel. The law is not the gospel and the gospel is not the law! Is this distinction Lutheran? Yes. This this law and gospel distinction Reformed? Yes. Is this distinction Presbyterian? Yes. Is this distinction in Scripture? Yes. Is this distinction in Calvin? Yes. Is this distinction in Machen? Yes.

Go here: http://clark.wscal.edu/classicalcovtheology.php#On_Law_and_Gospel

abc said...

In addition, here’s Perkins, would Frame agree with Perkins? Frame endorses Concise Reformed Dogmatics, which sound a lot like Perkins. Also, the White Horse Inn folk sound a lot like Perkins who sounds a lot like Luther, Calvin, and the Marrow men.

Paul R. Schaefer (D.Phil. Oxford University) professor at Grove City College has a chapter in a compilation on the Puritans titled The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics. To introduce William Perkins (an Anglican in the Elizabethan era) Schaefer writes, “…[Perkins] was one of the most widely read preachers of his own age. (38)

In regards to the Law/Gospel distinction in William Perkins, Schaefer states,

“He further contended that passages when applied fit either the category of law or gospel and should be brought in a manner to instruct and upbuild the congregation: ‘The basic principle of application is to know whether the passage is a statement of law or of the gospel.’ From this perspective, Perkins masterfully wove together the concerns of the earlier Reformers Luther and Calvin and also their heirs.” (47)

Schaefer further quotes Perkins, “Thus, since the law demands the ‘need for perfect inherent righteousness,’ the preacher should use it to show that all are under a curse from which they cannot escape through their own efforts.” (47)
Further, Perkins in Art of Prophesying writes in regards to rightly dividing the Word,

The basic principle in application is to know whether the passage is a statement of the law or of the gospel. For when the Word is preached, the law and the gospel operate differently. The law exposes the disease of sin, and as a side-effect stimulates and stirs it up. But it provides no remedy for it…The law is, therefore, first in the order of teaching; then comes the gospel. (54, Art of Prophesying)
Regarding Perkin’s third use of the law (a rule of gratitude for believers in Christ) Schaefer writes,
Perkins then continued this discussion about the place of good works in the life of the Christian by stating that the law has application for the justified believer not in terms of a “legal” character but in terms of “evangelical” character “in light of Christ.” This evangelical character contains no merits of its own and thus cannot be the way of salvation, but rather uses the law now to show a true believer a guide to godly walking. Such an emphasis fits well with Calvin’s discussion on the “third use of the law” in the Institutes. And by the way of an intriguing parallel–intriguing because Perkins did not mention it as a source–his discussion of law and gospel as a whole appears to follow the basic outline of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) with its three-part structure of guilt-grace-gratitude. (47)

Paul R. Schaefer, “The Arte of Prophesying By William Perkins” in A Devoted Life: An Invitation To the Puritan Classics. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004)

abc said...

To clear up some matters I find this quote from Horton’s Lord and Servant helpful regarding the law and Gospel distinction:

Taken from Michael S. Horton’s Lord and Servant: A Covenant Christology in the introduction under the heading, “Systematic-Theological Development.”
“The heart of the Reformation complaint was that the medieval church had turned the gospel into a new law. In other words, it had failed to properly distinguish law and gospel, command and promise, imperative and indicative. This was in no way a distinction between the Old and New Testaments, but rather ran throughout both. While we must beware excluding the principle of law from the new covenant and the gospel from the old, I am following the suggestion that the biblical covenants themselves call for organization under one of those two rubrics. Our Reformation forebears were not wide of the mark, therefore, when they said,

“Therefore, the law and the gospel are the chief and general divisions of holy scriptures, and comprise the entire doctrine comprehended therein” (Ursinus).

Of course the Reformers were not the first to have been impressed with this paradigm of law and gospel. They themselves were influenced not only by their reading of Paul but also by Augustin’s reading of the apostle to the gentiles. So how did covenant theology come to identify three basic covenants in the biblical motif of covenant a way of expressing the inherent unity of God’s external works in creation, redemption, and consummation. A broad consensus emerged with respect to the existence in Scripture (Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic), but these are all seen as specific subcovenants of these broader arrangements.

I will merely summarize these three overarching covenants here, without further exegetical ado, to expand on them under their appropriate topics in this volume.

An eternal compact between the persons of the Trinity, the covenant of redemption (pactum salutis) is represented in federal theology as the basis for all of God’s covenantal activity in history. Accordingly, the Father elects a people whom he gives to the Son as their mediator and the Spirit promises to unite them to the Son. Already we glimpse the intra-Trinitarian perichoresis that I will more fully develop in my discussion of creation: the Father does all things in the Son and through the Spirit. Thus Trinitarian theology has always been not only a central concept but an organizing motif in the classic Reformed systems.

The two covenants executed in history are the covenants of creation and grace. Created in righteousness and ethically equipped to fulfill the task of imitating God’s own “works” in order to enter his Sabbath “rest,” Adam as the representative head of the human race was already eschatologically oriented toward the future. As a reward for his faithfulness to the covenant, he would lead humanity in triumphant procession into the everlasting consummation, confirmed in righteousness. However, as a consequence of his disobedience and the mysterious solidarity of humanity in Adam, the sanctions of the creation covenant were invoked. In contrast to the conditional emphasis of the pre-fall covenant, however, God issues a unilateral promise to overcome the curse through the woman’s offspring. This covenant of grace, carried forward to Seth and his descendants, is renewed in the Abrahamic covenant, just as the works principle in the creation covenant is renewed in the Sinai covenant. On the basis of the Messiah’s fulfillment of the covenant of works (in fulfillment of his mediatorial role assigned in the covenant of redemption), the people of God are accepted on the terms of the covenant of grace. (x-xii, Lord and Servant)

“Ignorance of the distinction between the Law and Gospel is one of the principle sources of all the abuses which corrupt and still corrupt Christianity.” –Theodore Beza. He sounds a lot like Luther.

abc said...

So my conclusion thus far is if your going to critique the White Horse Inn folk and Wscal, he should also do the same to the quotes mentioned in the previous comments, and not endorse authors who hold to the law/gospel distinction and "sharply" distinguish the two.

Turretinfan said...

abc:

I get the strong feeling you don't like it when Horton gets criticized. However, I'm having trouble following your objections.

Your objections seem to be all over the map. At first you seem to deny that Frame has correctly understood Horton. Then you seem to allege that other authors agree with Horton, and that Frame's criticism should apply to them as well. Then you seem to acknowledge that Frame approves of the people you think Horton would agree with.

I'm left wondering how carefully you read the article. Let me try to lay it out for you.

Turretinfan said...

The first section of Frame's article enunciates the traditional Lutheran distinction, as he understands it. He quotes a Lutheran source for this.

The Lutheran definition of the Gospel in its "proper" (i.e. formal) sense excludes preaching repentance, according to the source Frame identifies.

Do you agree that Frame has accurately represented the Lutheran position?

If you do, we can move on to the next section. If not, please explain why you think Frame has misrepresented the Lutheran position.

natamllc said...

ST

The whole thing is an accusation, nat.

Frame names no names. I don't like that much. Frame is saying that those who hold such a view have rejected Scripture as the rule of faith and are in sin.


Well, maybe another bent is in order here?

As an aside first though, I would not side with Frame if that is his view, that is: "... and are in sin."

I have in mind a freshman Professor new to Escondido.

I have read his books, all of them but one which I just received recently. I will be picking it up soon.


"Not" naming of names may just be prudence.

I am certain there are some staff professors and others there that are not so so on one side of this issue or so so on the other side while this is being elucidated in here because of the fine article by Frame reproduced by TurretinFan.

If perchance they are following along, it most certainly is for sure they don't want their name mentioned. They have a job to do and maybe they would want to make comments in here on their "so so". Maybe not or "can not" lest there is given an advantage to our adversary the devil, falling into his scheme to divide and conquer when silence is the better offense?

Anyway, that's my two cents in this.

I believe TF is doing a fairly fine job of articulating what he believes and when one does that another one can hang his hat on that articulation provided we never lose sight of the solas and the pedals?

Luther is powerful. So is Calvin. So is and so on. Hey, in my view, even TurretinFan is just another one of those powerhouses of Christ, indwelt by Him, to be sure! :)

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abc said...

Turretinfan,

I don’t think I’m all over the map, I was just trying to show the continuity of the law and gospel distinction in Luther and the Reformers following.

Also, I was trying to communicate why Frame endorses a book (Concise Reformed Dogmatics) of authors where the law and gospel distinction is clearly held and sharply distinguished which speak in the same way that the White Horse Inn folk, Horton speak. Maybe Frame changed his criticism of the law/gospel distinction? What I am saying is at least be consistent.

But in regard to your question you should ask Rod Rosenbladt, he would be more at liberty to speak in regards to that, he is a Lutheran who can speak in depth regarding the Formula of Concord.

What I am concerned is, would Frame say that repentance is an antecedent to faith or a consequence of it? So then I am asking you the same question, is repentance antecedent to faith or a consequence of it? Read Thomas Fisher’s with Thomas Boston’s notes, Marrow of Modern Divinity on that.

When Luther states, “The law says ‘Do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this,’ and everything is already done.” (Heidelberg Disputation #26)

Covenant of works (law) and Covenant of Grace (Gospel).

A good place to go for this is Clark’s lecture, http://wscal.edu/resource-center/resource/retaining-the-law-gospel-distinction

Thanks but no thanks Turretinfan, as to you laying that article out to this benighted soul. I read that article one too many times (maybe like 15 times after my jundo handed it out) and it confuses me, but this benighted soul gets Frames main point of what Frame is trying to do there. If I had a choice for you to lay something out it would better if you would layout to me what Turretin states in his institutes in these sections: 2.236-37 -12.8.15, 2.186 -12.3.6, 2.236-37 -12.8.15.

In regards in defense of Horton, more so in regards to the law and gospel hermeneutic. I find Frame’s article highly suspect rather than helpful, suspect because 1.) this Lutheran versus the Reformed talk in regards to the law and gospel hermeneutic and Justification in part gave rise to the Federal Vision. 2.) Frame he sided with Norman Shepherd in regards to Shepherd’s doctrine of Justification and I believe later retracted a forward for one of his works.

This is my last comment here. Later.

Turretinfan said...

abc:

I think I understand your object, but I don't think you follow the article - at all. I'm saddened that you're not willing to walk through the article with me, but that is, of course, your decision.

-TurretinFan

Strong Tower said...

Okay TF, deconstruct this:

"and confess that the Gospel is not a preaching of repentance, convicting of sins"

"The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it"

"Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel."


Then this: "It is the reign of God that is good news, news that ensures peace and salvation.

Even the demand for repentance is good news, because in context it implies that God, though coming in power to claim his rights, is willing to forgive for Christ's sake."

Then answer: Is there a difference in the announcement that the kingdom has come and the substance of the requirements and provisions of that kingdom? Is there a difference between the requirements of law in its context of the Law and the law in the context of the GOSPEL? That is, what is the distinction between the gospel of John the baptist and the GOSPEL of Christ? Scripture makes a distinction, so what is it?

I think the Formula says something quite similar to Frame, but Frame is characterizing it according to a preconceived prejudice.

Does the "inasmuch" matter?

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Nat,

You had asked: Let me ask you for clarification, do you see it your place to be motivated to do good works? Do you believe God is calling you to be a better person now that you have come to believe Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God??

Sorry for the delay in response. Yes I do. Christians are certainly obligated to do good works and repent of sins. But God's commands are not the instrumental cause of our obediance, nor is good works or repentance the instrumental cause of justification. Rather, we are justified and sanctified through faith in the gospel alone.

God be with you,
Dan

natamllc said...

Dan

thanks for your clarification.

What do you make of Robert Capon's quote, posted again?

"Everything that is not of faith is sin", says Paul in Rom. 14:23. In the last analysis, what the New Testament sets up as the opposite of sin is not virtue; it is faith.

Strong Tower said...

nat- Edwards equated virtue with nature. Then sin is in opposition to faith, where sins are in opposition to works of righteousness. Then, virtues are actions, i.e., deeds, but deeds (virtues) procede from nature (virtue). He called evil works vices. But they are "evil virtues" if one can say such a thing.

Kind of like this thread where a line is being drawn between preaching the Gospel where repentance is a requirement of law but necessary subjective response and proceding from GOSPEL proper, where repentance is a free gift given by the virtue of Christ so that it is a finished work by another subjectively experienced. What properly belongs to the second doesn't inhere in the former. A subtle distinction but necessary to maintain the separation between justification as the result of the works of repentance, and justification by grace through faith.

natamllc said...

ST

are you responding to Capon's quote on sin and repentance turning to faith not virtue?

"Everything that is not of faith is sin", says Paul in Rom. 14:23. In the last analysis, what the New Testament sets up as the opposite of sin is not virtue; it is faith.??

What do you make to Isaiah, then?

"Isa 7:1...7:9 And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.'"

Strong Tower said...

I am not sure what you're getting at. I was just commenting on the right juxtaposition. The Isaiah passage has a particular address. It also shows the kind of juxtapostition of which I spoke. We can expand it to the NT. "Take care if you think you stand lest you fall."

There is in Isaiah a warning that the promise of deliverance is contingent. That is followed, though, by something quite different, a promise which is not. It can have import in our personal doings, that if we are not doing what we are doing by faith it is sin. Ahaz was acting upon his own fears. But again, it is doings of man that we are speaking of even if he had acted out of obedience. Isaiah 7, taken as a whole removes the doings of man from the equation. God is going to do, despite man's failing the test of faith. The word faith is used in different nuances in the NT, also. We can see from 1 Corinthians a gift of faith not given to all and a measure of faith given to all, in Romans. Perhaps Romans, then, is the kind of faith which increases. Nevertheless, the faith which endures is as a grain of mustard seed, though small, it neither increases or decreases as to its nature, but being what it is it is proven as if pure gold. In any case Faith, given by God, has of itself a nature that does what man cannot do, e.g., move mountains. Faith as we practice it under the law, i.e., when we are told to have faith, waxes strong or weak, it may be there or not. But, that signatory of God-like faith, when granted by him is provided as it is in Isaiah 7as, "Behold I will..."

Hope I am getting through. Virtues, in a Biblical sense, can be true good, or they can be false good. Everything not done in faith is sin has the context of personal conscience in holiness practices, and is a form of the law's workings. The WCF confirms this when it says that our good works, where they are good, are not at all of ourselves, but of the Holy Spirit, and yet we are not to grow negligent and therefore it is a conclusion that we must work to attain to that standard which the law requires. There is no doubt that even false virtues can be good done, but the lasting merit of true virtues (works preparaed for us to do) is not founded in us, but in God. True enough, they issue out of our new nature, i.e., of faith, but again, it is by Christ in us so that it is God working in us the willing and doing of his good pleasure.

The Puritan said...

Turretinfan, if you want to know what Michael Horton and Westminster West think of law and gospel read Petrus Dathenus' Pearl of Christian Comfort. Written in the 1500s, recommended by R. Scott Clark, very short, very clear on this seemingly difficult and much misunderstood subject.

Turretinfan said...

I've read *some* of what Horton himself has written about the subject. Nevertheless, thank for the recommendation!

natamllc said...

From where I sit, the law/gospel distinction can be understood weighing what the Apostle was inspired to write in Romans chapters 7 and 8 and what the writer of the book of Hebrews wrote in chapters 7-9 and particularly I am thinking of this verse which seems to lay out the two shades of the "law" reality:

ESV:
Heb 9:1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness.

Now even the first covenant had regulations for the worship and an earthly place of holiness. Seems to me this is really what Frame is getting at which doesn't seem to be so hard a things as he is indicating of others?

In any event, TF, your words at the very end of the article seems somewhat prophetic, at least for ABC and ST:

TF:
"I think Frame's article (available here) may be a challenging and important counter-point."