Reformed Imputation and the Lord’s Prayer

Jun 8th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog Posts

According to the Reformed Protestant doctrine, on the cross Christ paid the penalty for all the sins of all and only the elect. And when those persons first believe in Christ, that redemption is applied to them such that all their past, present and future sins are forgiven, and Christ’s perfect righteousness is permanently imputed to them. But this raises a difficulty. When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask daily for the forgiveness of our trespasses. But if at the moment we first believe, all our past, present and future sins are forgiven, then why should we subsequently ask for the forgiveness of our sins? Here I will argue that praying the Lord’s Prayer is incompatible with the Reformed notion that all our past, present, and future sins are already forgiven.

Westminster Assembly Portrait

According to Reformed theology, on the cross Christ paid the penalty for all the sins of all and only the elect. The Westminster Confession of Faith states, “Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to His Father’s justice in their behalf.”1 Those sins are all already punished, and they cannot be re-punished. According to the Reformed position, at the moment the sinner believes the gospel, Christ’s redemptive work is applied to him. “They are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.”2 At the moment the sinner believes, Christ’s righteousness is permanently and irrevocably imputed to him. All his past, present and future sins have all already been ‘laid on’ Christ on the cross two thousand years ago. Therefore at the moment he believes the gospel, all his past, present and future sins have not only already been paid for; they are all forgiven.

It is not as though at the moment he believes the gospel, God says to him,

All your sins have already been paid for, but I’ve only forgiven your past and present sins; I have not yet forgiven your future sins, even though my Son has already paid for them all. When in the future you commit sins (that my Son has already paid for), you’re going to need to confess and repent of them if you want to be forgiven for them. But, even if you don’t confess them and repent of them, I can’t punish you for them, because I already punished my Son for them. Therefore you can’t go to hell. And there’s no limbo, so the only place you can go is heaven. Thus even if you don’t confess these post-justification sins, you’ll enter heaven just the same, after the instant sanctification that takes place at your death. So, it really doesn’t matter for you whether I forgive those future sins of yours or not, because you go to heaven anyway. And therefore, it really doesn’t matter whether you confess and repent of your future sins. The thing you need to keep in mind, however, is that if in the future you find yourself not confessing and repenting of your future sins, that’s a possible indicator that you were never justified in the first place, and you might have been created to show forth my wrath.

That’s not the Reformed doctrine of forgiveness. In Reformed theology, all past, present and future sins are forgiven at the moment we believe. Nor, according to Reformed theology does God impute to Christ only those sins that the sinner has already committed, and then, when the believer later confesses subsequent sins, impute those subsequent sins to Christ. No. In Reformed theology the imputation is not piece-meal or successive. It takes place once and entirely, at the moment the sinner first believes. Once the double-imputation has occurred (i.e. all his past, present and future sins are imputed to Christ, and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him) at the moment he believes, then he is permanently and irrevocably pardoned and forgiven for all his past, present and future sins.

One problem with this doctrine is that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins. If all our sins are paid for and forgiven, then it makes no sense to ask daily for the forgiveness for our sins. If we are supposed to believe that all our past, present and future sins were already paid for on the cross and forgiven at the moment we first believed, then to ask daily for the forgiveness of our sins is to contradict the doctrine that at the moment we first believed all these sins were already forgiven. Believing that all our sins are already forgiven is incompatible with asking daily for the forgiveness of our sins.

Referring to the Lord’s Prayer, the Westminster Confession of Faith says

God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God’s Fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.3

So, on the one hand, in the Reformed view our past, present and future sins are all already forgiven at the moment we first believe. But on the other hand, in the Reformed view God continues to forgive our sins. The problem is that if our sins are all already forgiven, then there is no reason for God to keep forgiving them. If God is still forgiving them, this implies that they are not all already forgiven. So there is a contradiction here. The doctrine teaches that the sins are all already forgiven. The prayer teaches that the sins are not all already forgiven.

One way of attempting to resolve the contradiction is to make a distinction between God forgiving our sins, and restoring us to fellowship. According to this view, all our past, present and future sins are entirely forgiven at the moment we believe, and at that moment we are brought into fellowship with God. But, if we sin at any subsequent moment, then even though those sins are already forgiven, we lose fellowship with God, until we confess our sins and “beg pardon.” The idea is not that some sins are more severe than others, causing only loss of fellowship, but not causing loss of forgiveness. The WCF itself says “there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation.” (WCF XV.4) The idea, rather, is that after justification, no sin causes loss of forgiveness, but sin can cause loss of fellowship.

The problem with this position is that given the completed nature of the double imputation at our justification, there is no basis for God’s subsequent “Fatherly displeasure” and our loss of fellowship (i.e. losing the “light of His countenance”)  with Him on account of our post-justification sins. If all our sins are already paid for, and when He sees us He sees the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to us, then there is no reason for Him to be displeased with us, unless He is peeking behind the imputed righteousness. But if He is peeking, then we’re not really covered. And if we are not really covered, then since “there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation,” and because we sin every day in thought, word, and deed, then God is severely displeased with us every day. If, however, God is ever pleased with us when peeking behind the imputed righteousness of Christ, then simul iustus et peccator is false. But if after justification simul iustus et peccator is always true in this life, then if God peeks, we are always under His Fatherly displeasure until we are entirely sanctified in heaven. Given the truth of simul iustus et peccator, the Reformed position viz-a-viz justification entails that after justification either God is always entirely pleased with us on account of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, or God is always entirely displeased with us if He is peeking behind the imputed righteousness of Christ.

There is a third logical possibility, namely, that there are two qualitatively different levels of righteousness by which God is pleased. The first level is the forgiveness of sins and imputation of Christ’s righteousness; attaining this pleases God in a sufficient but still incomplete way. The second level of righteousness presupposes having already attained the first level; this second level is the level of pleasing or displeasing God above and beyond the perfect righteousness of Christ, by our repentance, confession of sins, and good works. One problem with this dualistic conception of righteousness is that given the truth of simul iustus et peccator, and given that “there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation,” imputation makes God pleased with the believer only if God doesn’t peek behind the imputed righteousness. But if God is peeking behind the imputed righteousness, then given the truth of simul iustus et peccator, and given that “there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation,” it follows by necessity that the believer is doomed.

A second problem with this dualistic conception of righteousness is that it makes Christ’s work insufficient to please God completely. According to this position, God is only partially pleased with us by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. He is at least pleased enough to let us into heaven, but He is not perfectly pleased with us. We have to work to merit the additional Fatherly pleasure that was not provided by the imputation of Christ’s perfect sacrifice. This situation is a bit like paying the penalty for sins in purgatory. Reformed theology doesn’t accept the notion of purgatory in large part because if we have to suffer in some way for our sins, it implies that Christ’s work was not sufficient to make us pleasing to God. So likewise, if we have to work, and confess, and repent, and do good works (and even suffer) in order to gain this additional Fatherly pleasure that didn’t come with justification, and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, this implies that Christ’s work was incomplete.

In the section titled “Of Repentance unto Life,” the Westminster Confession of Faith reads:

III. Although repentance be not to be rested in as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ; yet is it of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.

IV. As there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.

V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins, particularly.

VI. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof, upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy …4

Logically, either these statements are limited to the time of justification, or they also refer to the post-justification period. If they are referring to a time prior to justification, then it raises the difficulty of explaining how there can be repentance by those who are still “dead in their sins.” Since Reformed theology does not distinguish between actual grace and sanctifying grace,5 for Reformed theology there is no possibility of repentance prior to justification. But, if these statements from WCF XV are about the time after justification, then since the believer already knows that all of his past, present and future sins have already been forgiven at justification, it makes no sense to say that he should not expect pardon for his post-justification sins, without repentance. It makes no sense to state that he should be “praying for the pardon thereof” or that upon forsaking these post-justification sins he will “find mercy.” According to Reformed theology all these sins were already pardoned at the moment he first believed, and thus he already found mercy for all these sins at that moment. The Reformed teaching that all his past, present and future sins were already paid for on the cross, and that Christ’s perfect righteousness was already imputed to him at the moment he first believed, does not fit with the notion that he needs to pray for the pardon of his post-justification sins, and that if he forsakes them he will find mercy. Either his post-justification sins are all already pardoned, in which case he doesn’t need to ask pardon (because that would be an act of unbelief), or they are not all already pardoned, in which case justification isn’t what Reformed theology teaches it to be.

Regarding this problem Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof writes:

“The usual position of Reformed theology, however, is that in justification God indeed removes the guilt, but not the culpability of sin, that is, He removes the sinner’s just amenability to punishment, but not the inherent guiltiness of whatever sins he may continue to perform. The latter remains and therefore always produces in believers a feeling of guilt, of separation from God, of sorrow, of repentance, and so on. Hence they feel the need of confessing their sins, even the sins of their youth, Ps. 25:7; 51:5-9. The believer who is really conscious of his sin feels within him an urge to confess it and to seek the comforting assurance of forgiveness. Moreover, such confession and prayer is not only a subjectively felt need, but also an objective necessity. Justification is essentially an objective declaration respecting the sinner in the tribunal of God, but it is not merely that; it is also an actus transiens, passing into the consciousness of the believer. The divine sentence of acquittal is brought home to the sinner and awakens the joyous consciousness of the forgiveness of sins and of favor with God. Now this consciousness of pardon and of a renewed filial relationship is often disturbed and obscured by sin, and is again quickened and strengthened by confession and prayer, and by a renewed exercise of faith.”6

Berkhof is claiming that at the moment of justification, God removes the penalty for all past, present and future sin, but not necessarily the subjective feeling of guilt for whatever sins we continue to commit after we come to faith. Because we feel these guilty feelings, even though after our justification we are no longer subject to punishment for any sins we commit, but perpetually stand entirely cleared by God’s declaration, we still feel the need (“urge”) to confess our sins and gain assurance of forgiveness. According to Berkhof, this urge we feel indicates that it is an “objective necessity” for us to continue to confess and pray for forgiveness, so that as we do so, the fact of our having been already forgiven for all our past, present and future sins will sink more deeply into our consciousness.

According to Berkhof’s position, after our justification, feelings of guilt are untrue; they have not yet caught up to what one knows by faith to be true about one’s standing before God. Therefore, it would follow that we should welcome the overcoming or cessation of such feelings. We should outgrow them as our feelings conform to the truth. At least, if we can outgrow such feelings we should. Berkhof claims that the standard Reformed position on the purpose of confessing our sins and asking God for forgiveness after our justification is not to gain forgiveness of sins, but to relieve the subjective urge we feel to confess, and to acquire the comforting feelings of assurance that our sins are forgiven.

This seems to me to be a rather Freudian/Jungian psychologizing of the purpose of “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” which we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, and of the Apostle John’s statement, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Instead of allowing these passages to revise the Reformed conception of justification, the Reformed believer uses the Reformed conception of justification to construe these passages as teaching not that we daily need our sins forgiven, but that we daily need to feel that our sins are forgiven. It sentimentalizes these passages in order to preserve its doctrine of justification. According to Berkhof, even though before God we do not need to ask forgiveness, and we know that we do not need to ask for forgiveness, nevertheless the human psyche has a primitive urge to continue to ask for forgiveness for continued sins. And this is why Jesus included this line in the Lord’s Prayer, because He knew that even though we would know that all our sins were already forgiven, we would still need to live and pray as though our sins were not all forgiven. In other words, it was on account of human weakness that Christ included this line in the Lord’s Prayer, much as it was on account of human weakness that Moses included the permission for divorce. (Matthew 19:8)

What I find most strange about this notion is that in order to convince ourselves in our feelings that all our past, present and future sins were forgiven at the moment of our justification, Berkhof encourages us to do certain acts that imply that our sins still need to be forgiven. So according to Berkhof it is good that we daily confess and ask forgiveness, and in doing so, comfort ourselves by making ourselves think that in confessing our sins daily and in asking God daily to forgive them, somehow that activity ensures that God has forgiven us, even though in actuality our past, present and future sins were all already forgiven at the moment of our justification. The problem here is that asking daily for forgiveness teaches the exact opposite; it teaches that our sins are not yet all forgiven. If we were composing a prayer that teaches that our sins still need to be forgiven, something like the line in the Lord’s Prayer is precisely what we would write. But if were composing a prayer for teaching Berkhof’s theology of justification, it would replace that line in the Lord’s Prayer with this one: “I thank you Lord that all my sins, past, present, and future were already forgiven when I first believed.” For this reason, the psychology explanation does not work; it reduces us to beasts governed by urges and instincts. If we are governed by reason, then we should speak and live according to the truth. And if the truth is that all our past, present and future sins were already forgiven when we first believed, then we should speak and live according to that truth. But if we should speak and live as though our sins daily need to be forgiven, and we should speak and live according to the truth, then it follows that at least our future sins were not forgiven when we first believed.

If Berkhof is correct that the standard Reformed position is this psychologized notion of the purpose of continued confession and asking for forgiveness, then Reformed teachers and pastors should be urging all believers to try to get over this urge to confess and ask for forgiveness. The goal should be to get over the felt-need to say that line in the Lord’s Prayer, or anything like it. True integration of mind, heart and feelings, that is, true spiritual maturity would be to get to the point where one would simply leave out that line when praying the Lord’s Prayer, and feel no guilt or compunction in doing so. Pastors, being mature, would tell their congregations that they [the pastors] no longer confess their sins or ask God for forgiveness, because they do not feel those inaccurate feelings of guiltiness any more; they are fully convinced, in mind and feelings, that all their past, present, and future sins were forgiven at the moment of their justification, and their sheep should all seek to reach that same mature state. But if that is not their belief, their practice or their goal, then they need to believe that sins are forgiven progressively, over the course of a believer’s life. But if our sins are forgiven progressively, then either our sins are progressively imputed to Christ on the cross, or the satisfaction doctrine of the Atonement is correct.

Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  1. WCF XI.3. []
  2. WCF XI.4 []
  3. WCF XI.5 []
  4. WCF XV.3-6. []
  5. See “A Reply from a Romery Person.” []
  6. Systematic Theology, p. 515. []
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  1. I have encountered Christians who specifically don’t pray the Our Father (and don’t think that it should be prayed) because 1) they believe as you described that their sins are all already forgiven and 2) they don’t believe that you should talk to our Father in “rote” language.

    They said that you can use the Our Father prayer as a springboard for praying to God but always in your own words, and knowing your sins are already all forgiven.

  2. Again, St. Augustine takes the Catholic position:

    Here lies the necessity that each man should be born again, that he might be freed from the sin in which he was born. For the sins committed afterwards can be cured by penitence, as we see is the case after baptism. (Enchiridion – 46)

  3. Devin,

    If I remember correctly, that is exactly what I was taught, growing up. This non-use of the Lord’s Prayer was further bolstered by Dispensationalism, which construed the lion’s share of Our Lord’s words (especially in the Synoptics) as being addressed to ethnic Jews rather than the Church.

  4. I heard that by some professors at Moody who held to old-style Dispensationalism. Talk about being a fish out of water, try being a Covenanal, Reformed Calvinist listening to the White Horse Inn at MBI.

    Bryan,

    I remember some time ago at Jason’s blog we got into this discussion. I am struck by how our Lord tells us not only to ask for forgiveness but, as you mention, with the qualifier, “as we forgive those who…” I love how the Liturgy, in calling us to pray this most bold of prayers (when I teach the Catechism’s section on the “Our Father” I lead in by telling the kids that this prayer is not for the faint of heart and their reactions tell it all), “we are bold to say” or, “we dare to say”. I am asking God to forgive me not only my sins, but only to forgive me as I forgive others. The only way to understand this prayer in any meaningful way is as the Church instructs us.

  5. Devin, Tim, Andrew,

    None of the Church Fathers got the memo about not praying the Lord’s Prayer. (Perhaps the Apostles should have asked Jesus for an updated version of the Lord’s Prayer, one that took into account what He did on Good Friday.) So, either the Apostles bungled that one badly by failing to teach the Church Fathers that the Lord’s Prayer was not to be prayed in the New Covenant period, or the Church Fathers prayed the Lord’s Prayer because the Apostles themselves prayed the Lord’s Prayer in all the churches as they carried out their apostolic mission.

    Tom,

    I agree. Why would the forgiveness of sins while Christ was on earth depend in some way on forgiving those who sin against oneself, but the forgiveness of sins after Pentecost not depend at all on forgiving those who sin against oneself? That doesn’t make sense. Weren’t those under the Old Covenant also “justified by faith.” If so, then either only during an additional three-year dispensation (during the earthly ministry of Christ) was forgiveness contingent upon forgiving those who sinned against oneself, or what Jesus enjoins in the Lord’s Prayer about asking for our sins to be forgiven, applies from the fall of Adam to the time of Christ’s coming in glory.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  6. Also, just to be clear, I’m not only pointing out a contradiction between (1) believing that all one’s past, present and future sins are already forgiven and (2) praying the Lord’s Prayer after coming to that belief. I’m also pointing out a contradiction between the Reformed doctrine of justification (in which one’s past, present and future sins all are forgiven at the moment of faith) presented in WCF XI and the Reformed doctrine regarding post-faith repentance presented in WCF XV in which one is enjoined to pray for the pardon of one’s sins. It is the WCF that appeals to the Lord’s Prayer as the basis for its claim that “God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified.” (WCF XI.5) Those persons who refuse to pray the Lord’s Prayer are, though misguided, being consistent. The consistency problem is in the Reformed theology itself, which teaches that all our sins are already forgiven, and that it is not the case that all are sins are already forgiven. That’s not an ‘antinomy;’ that’s a contradiction.

  7. Bryan,

    I think you’ve expressed well the tension between the apparently “continuing” aspect of our forgiveness as expressed in the Lord’s Prayer with the “once and for all forgiveness” we see in the Reformed view. Interestingly though, in contrast with the quotation you gave from Berkhof, the Westminster Shorter Catechism has this to say about the “forgive us our debts” clause of the Lord’s Prayer:

    Q 105: For what do we pray in the fifth request?
    A: In the fifth request (Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors), encouraged by God’s grace, which makes it possible for us sincerely to forgive others, we pray that for Christ’s sake God would freely pardon all our sins.

    I won’t quote from it here, but the answer of the Heidelberg Catechism is quite similar. Both view this clause as a bona fide request for God to forgive our sins, though Berkhof doesn’t seem to agree that there is really an objective element here. Certainly the wording of the Lord’s Prayer leaves no doubt that the Catechism is interpreting it properly by seeing it as genuinely asking God to forgive us our sins, but as you pointed out, this doesn’t exactly fit in with a complete and total past forgiveness that all the justified are supposed to have.
    Perhaps this is supposed to simply be an area of theological tension in Reformed theology, even if we can’t exactly make it all make sense?

    Devin,

    I haven’t had an evangelical personally tell me that we shouldn’t pray the Lord’s Prayer, but I do recall once sitting through a sermon on the Prayer in a Southern Baptist church (no offense to Southern Baptists or this particular pastor intended–I am a Baptist myself at present, though theologically undecided), where the pastor said at the end that he had considered having us all pray the Lord’s Prayer in unison, but since that would be too much like “vain repetitions,” he would instead show us a multi-media video of the words of the Lord’s Prayer floating across inspiring scenes on screen while a woman sang the prayer. One wonders why having a congregation pray together in the same words, which Christ Himself taught the disciples, is somehow sub-Christian.

    Of course, needless to say, many Presbyterian churches do make the Lord’s Prayer an essential part of their worship. I don’t think the evangelical suspicion of the Lord’s Prayer (or other written prayers) can be justly imputed to the Reformed churches, and certainly not to the framers of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    Pax Christi,

    Spencer

  8. Spencer,

    Thanks for the quotation from the SC.

    Just curious: If what I’m pointing out here were actually a contradiction, and not mere ‘tension’ (whatever exactly that is), how would it be any different? It seems to me that it wouldn’t be any different. In other words, this seems to me to be an actual contradiction, not merely an apparent contradiction.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  9. One of my experiences was with a Baptist of my acquaintance who noted that the Lord’s Prayer was not intended to be said, but was a framework for how prayer should be structured. He and his wife had left Methodism for a particular Baptist Church, bringing their children, and at some point in time, all of their family were “saved.”

    One of the sons was a hellion and died at a young age (late teens / early 20s) in pursuit of that goal. The Baptist recognized that his son was not living a Christian or moral life but, according to his beliefs, once saved / always saved, that it did not matter. I later heard him give this explanation on his son’s behalf and noted at the time that the words lacked conviction and his eyes could not rest. He wasn’t really defending a point, he was searching for a way out of the dilemma. He was not convinced about the forgiven state of his son’s soul. He believed that morality came from God and, theology notwithstanding, could not divorce morality from how life is lived. The last time I saw him he was in pain over his son and that young man’s choices when he arrived at death.

    How do you apologize when no apology is needed? To whom do you confess (John 20:23) when your theology precludes the need to confess to anything?

  10. Donald,

    When I dabbled in the Baptist, Methodist, Bible, and Evangelical (of all stripes) communities, I was told the same thing (the majority of the time), that the “Lord’s Prayer” was never meant to be said as a mantra, rather it was a “framework” for prayer. Of course the Catholic position is that it is both the perfect prayer that the Lord fully intended us to pray and that it is also a framework for prayer, but I digress.

    Before I began discerning Catholicism, the Lord’s Prayer and the verses that immediately follow it (where Our Lord reiterates that “if we do not forgive, neither will the Father forgive us” for the slow) always struck me. On the surface and taken literally, their meaning is totally obvious… but, naturally, it just didn’t logically fit with the Protestant system as a whole, so I chose to ignore them. That was my intent for avoiding the Lord’s Prayer. When I began discerning Catholicism, it was such a relief to me that I could read those verses again without feeling the guilt of intellectual dishonesty. Around the same time, I had innocently posed the question of “what do you make of those verses” to a very faithful Reformed cousin of mine while we were discussing Scripture. Her reply was, “I’ve always struggled with those verses and I really don’t know what to make of them”. I could totally empathize.

    It was also interesting to read Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus in completion for the first time as well. As an Evangelical Protestant, it seemed that John 3 began and ended with John 3:16. The verse completely plucked out of an entire dialogue almost without reference to that dialogue. But, just like every chapter in John’s Gospel, context lay in the entire chapter, not bits and pieces. And Jesus didn’t cease speaking to Nicodemus after he spoke “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…”. The conversation continues and, read in full, it increases the scope of John 3:16.

  11. I can see how it is easy, and necessary, for some Protestant communities, who do recite the Lord’s Prayer, to go to such lengths to “interpret” the heck out of those verses until they fit into their paradigm. Usually it’s the same ones that recite the Nicene Creed and are forced to interpret “One, Holy, [c]atholic, and Apostolic [c]hurch in ways which the fathers of the councils never intended (the need to “interpret” an extra-biblical writing to fit it in with their worship was always strange to me as well). For that matter, John 6, James 2, Acts 15… nevermind, I could go on all day about the interpretive gymnastics that take place in order for one to feel comfortable with their system.

  12. Joe said

    if we do not forgive, neither will the Father forgive us” for the slow) always struck me. On the surface and taken literally, their meaning is totally obvious… but, naturally, it just didn’t logically fit with the Protestant system as a whole, so I chose to ignore them.

    I can not speak for all Protestant churches but the one i grew up in and now the Catholic church i go to understand that this phrase and “And forgive us our trepasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” are important concepts, important enough to be mentioned twice? That these phrases tell us that we will be forgiven if and only if we forgive those who trepass against us. That if we do not forgive others then we will not be forgiven.

    Also important are the verses in Matthew 6:1 – 8 that describe not to do acts of charity just to be noticed and to prayers do not need to be made up of a lot of empyt felt words but rather be said with sincerity.

    How do other Protestant churches interpret these verses?

  13. My experience in being raised in an evangelical church was having to memorize the Lord’s Prayer as a child – not in order to pray it, but to know it as a section of Bible verses. I also had to memorize the 23rd Psalm at around the same time.

    Later, in high school, I remember being taught that Jesus did not intend us to pray the specific words, but taught it as a framework for our own prayers (like Donald mentioned above). I did not understand how we could already be forgiven yet were required to confess our sins.

    There was also the uncomfortable connection within the prayer between our forgiveness of others and being forgiven by God. I became Catholic when I saw the teachings of the Catholic Church did not have the contradictions (including faith alone and James 2:24) that Calvinism suffered from.

  14. It might be helpful to consider three things that St. Augustine teaches about the Lord’s Prayer.

    First, in his work titled On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, St. Augustine wrote:

    For to those who wish and strive and worthily pray for this result, whatever sins remain in them are daily remitted because we sincerely pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) Whosoever shall deny that this prayer is in this life necessary for every righteous man who knows and does the will of God, except the one Saint of saints, greatly errs, and is utterly incapable of pleasing Him whom he praises. Moreover, if he supposes himself to be such a character, “he deceives himself, and the truth is not in him,” (1 John 1:8) — for no other reason than that he thinks what is false. (On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, Bk III, chapter 23)

    Second, in his Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed, regarding the article “the forgiveness of sins”, he writes:

    “Forgiveness of sins.” You have [this article of] the Creed perfectly in you when you receive Baptism. Let none say, “I have done this or that sin: perchance that is not forgiven me.” What have you done? How great a sin have you done? Name any heinous thing you have committed, heavy, horrible, which you shudder even to think of: have done what you will: have you killed Christ? There is not than that deed any worse, because also than Christ there is nothing better. What a dreadful thing is it to kill Christ! Yet the Jews killed Him, and many afterwards believed on Him and drank His blood: they are forgiven the sin which they committed. When you have been baptized, hold fast a good life in the commandments of God, that you may guard your Baptism even unto the end. I do not tell you that you will live here without sin; but they are venial, without which this life is not. For the sake of all sins was Baptism provided; for the sake of light sins, without which we cannot be, was prayer provided. What has the Prayer? “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” Once for all we have washing in Baptism, every day we have washing in prayer. Only, do not commit those things for which you must needs be separated from Christ’s body: which be far from you! For those whom you have seen doing penance, have committed heinous things, either adulteries or some enormous crimes: for these they do penance. Because if theirs had been light sins, to blot out these daily prayer would suffice.

    In three ways then are sins remitted in the Church; by Baptism, by prayer, by the greater humility of penance; yet God does not remit sins but to the baptized. The very sins which He remits first, He remits not but to the baptized. When? When they are baptized. The sins which are after remitted upon prayer, upon penance, to whom He remits, it is to the baptized that He remits. For how can they say, “Our Father,” who are not yet born sons? (, Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed)

    Third, in one of his Sermons, St. Augustine wrote:

    “Forgive us our debts,” we say, and we may well say so; for we say the truth. For who is he that lives here in the flesh, and has no debts? What man is there that lives so, that this prayer is not necessary for him? He may puff himself up, justify himself he cannot. It were well for him to imitate the Publican, and not swell as the Pharisee, “who went up into the temple,” and boasted of his deserts, and covered up his wounds. Whereas he who said, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,” knew wherefore he went up. This prayer the Lord Jesus, consider, my brethren, this prayer the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to offer, those great first Apostles of His, the leaders of our flock. If the leaders of the flock then pray for the remission of their sins, what ought the lambs to do, of whom it is said, “Bring young rams unto the Lord”? You knew then that you have repeated this in the Creed, because among the rest you have mentioned there “the remission of sins.” There is one remission of sins which is given once for all; another which is given day by day. There is one remission of sins which is given once for all in Holy Baptism; another which is given as long as we live here in the Lord’s Prayer. Wherefore we say, “Forgive us our debts.” (Sermon 8 on the New Testament)

    It is clear here that St. Augustine is fully aware of the distinction between mortal and venial sin, and he is teaching that praying daily for God to forgive us our sins is for venial sins, and is truly for their forgiveness. One of the causes of the underlying theological problem I’m addressing in this post is that Protestant theology doesn’t recognize the mortal / venial distinction. And without that distinction, there is no authentic purpose available for asking daily for the forgiveness of our sins. That’s why Berkhof has to psychologize the passage as a concession to human urges.

  15. As Bryan noted above, Augustine recognized the fullness of Scripture and did not stint in that recognition.

    That recognition was part of what required me to search. If my denomination could read what was written, and then dismiss it whole cloth, I deemed it a problem. How do you ignore Jesus’ own words?

    I would note that after my initial conversion I had gone through an amazing change. I was not the great and glorious sinner I had once imagined myself to be; but I was not without culpability for what I had thought and done after my conversion, and they did not have the means for me to achieve forgiveness, especially in light of the “whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them” passage. Assuming forgiveness, which is their position, is not a position at all, but is a recognition that they do not have a position or lack the authority to provide the forgiveness that is needed.

    I had read John’s letter noting that not all sin is deadly, and found that my own denomination was unable or unwilling to tackle that item. I would tell you that they were consistent in this process. (To be fair to C2C’s founders and Reformed/Presbyterian types reading this submission, this was not the systematic theology of Calvin.) There was an awful lot of Scripture that they were unwilling to tackle, and even more that they denied inspite of the plain sense of what was written. They deemed it to be stuff one could safely ignore. (Its wonderful! Read it. Enjoy it. Ignore it. Move on.) I finally concluded that when they said “Scripture alone” it meant that part of Scripture that they were willing to adhere to, so it was this Scripture alone here and that Scripture alone there, with significant gaps in between. Luther’s epistle of straw was extended in any direction needed to avoid “Catholicism,” a confrontation with the dominant theology which was about being “saved,” about the charismatic gifts, and the imminent return of Jesus.

    Sometimes I was actually amazed that we still required 66 books. A relatively short catechetical book of bromides, mostly Scripture cites ripped out of context and associated with “our” positions would have served better and relieved them of the questions they did not want to address. Why bring up forgiveness after conversion, the difference between sin that kills and sin that does not kill, and the forgiveness of others as a key to one’s own forgiveness – if none of that is germaine?

    Being about 40 years down this Roman road, I still keenly appreciate auricular confession, and Heaven knows I have need of it. Thank you, Lord!

  16. In order to resolve the apparent contradiction between the beliefs that we are already forgiven and the belief that we should continue to ask for forgiveness as in the Lord’s Prayer, we need to consider two things: Who was it that asked Him: “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples?” and what did they believe about forgiveness. One needs to understand this in order to put the whole Lord’s Prayer in perspective and interpret the passages in context .

    It is important to remember that when Jesus answered the disciples request: “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”, He was responding to a request from a people who, unlike us, were under the Law. In fact, the disciples, Jesus and everyone else were under the law until after Jesus died and rose again, once and for all resolving the problem between God and man – namely, the sin issue. At the time Jesus was speaking, the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28 were in effect. (Obey every one of the 613 laws and you get all sorts of fleshly blessings – disobey even one and you will get the curses). They did not have the blessing of Redemptive Grace. The Law only provided provisions for a covering over of the sins of the people. This provision prescribed a set of rituals and animal sacrifices that would cover – but not take away – their sins. They had to repeat these works each year because there was no actual forgiveness available yet.

    When Jesus responded to their question, the only option available for “forgiveness” was the careful execution of the prescribed rituals, prayers and sacrifices. They provided a covering over of their sins. There was no forgiveness because Jesus had not yet died and risen again. Their sins were not yet forgiven. They were still under the law of sin and death. It was appropriate for them to continually ask for forgiveness through the rituals and prescribed sacrifices. Jesus could not have taught them any differently because that is what the Law prescribed. Jesus taught them to use the only way that was available at the time.

    We, however, are on this side of the cross. The Mosaic Law is not in effect. Jesus himself said he came to “fulfill” the Law. He fulfilled the Law by satisfying the two requirements of the Law. The Law required total and complete obedience. Jesus obeyed the Law perfectly. He satisfied that requirement for us. The law specified that the penalty for disobedience was death. He satisfied that also. After the cross, there is no need for the non-redeeming sacrifice of bulls and goats, temple prayers or rituals. In fact, they are inappropriate because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice and completely fulfilled the Law. The goats and rituals and ritual prayer were never enough. They were a fore shadow of the perfect sacrifice, the sacrifice that would once and for all satisfy the demands of the Law so that God “no longer remembers our sins and lawless deeds.” Asking for forgiveness when we are already forgiven seems to be not only pointless but might even show a lack of understanding of what Jesus actually accomplished. It was appropriate for the disciples while under the Law but not for us or them after the cross.

  17. Bill,

    Your comment seems to be arguing for something that’s not the primary point of the post. Bryan’s post (it seems to me) is arguing that one cannot consistently hold the following to beliefs:

    (1) All our sins (past, present, and future) were forgiven at the moment of justification.

    (2) We should continue to pray the Lord’s Prayer (which includes a request for our sins to be forgiven).

    Your post starts by stating that it will “resolve the apparent contradiction between the beliefs that we are already forgiven and the belief that we should continue to ask for forgiveness as in the Lord’s Prayer.” So it seems that you’re going to provide an explanation for how one can hold (1) and (2) at the same time.

    But then you go on, it seems to me, and simply deny (2). So your comment, as it stands, isn’t directly relevant to the original post. Your explanation of the Lord’s Prayer tries to contextualize the prayer in such a way that it is only a valid prayer pre-resurrection. But in making that argument, you’re just denying (2). So it seems that your comment doesn’t achieve the go you initially set for itself, namely to “resolve the apparent contradiction” between holding (1) and (2) at the same time.

  18. Bill, (re: #16),

    Perhaps you already read the three quotations from St. Augustine in comment #14. Those are just a sample. St. Augustine refers to the Lord’s Prayer in many places in his works, always teaching it as obviously something that believers pray daily, and ought to pray daily. All the Church Fathers believed this, and taught it, namely, that the Lord’s Prayer is something that we (in the Church) are to pray daily. Here are some selections from other Church Fathers on this subject:

    St. Clement, bishop of Rome (d. c. AD 97) wrote:

    Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us. … Let us therefore implore forgiveness for all those transgressions which through any [suggestion] of the adversary we have committed. (Letter to the Corinthians, 50-51)

    St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon (c. AD 185-200), wrote:

    For this reason also He has taught us to say in prayer, “And forgive us our debts;” since indeed He is our Father, whose debtors we were, having transgressed His commandments. (Against Heresies, Bk 5.17)

    St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage from 249-258, wrote:

    After this we also entreat for our sins, saying, “And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” After the supply of food, pardon of sin is also asked for, that he who is fed by God may live in God, and that not only the present and temporal life may be provided for, but the eternal also, to which we may come if our sins are forgiven; and these the Lord calls debts, as He says in His Gospel, “I forgave you all that debt, because you desired me.” (Matthew 18:32) And how necessarily, how providently and salutarily, are we admonished that we are sinners, since we are compelled to entreat for our sins, and while pardon is asked for from God, the soul recalls its own consciousness of sin! Lest any one should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himself should more deeply perish, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden to entreat daily for his sins. Thus, moreover, John also in his epistle warns us, and says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” In his epistle he has combined both, that we should entreat for our sins, and that we should obtain pardon when we ask. Therefore he said that the Lord was faithful to forgive sins, keeping the faith of His promise; because He who taught us to pray for our debts and sins, has promised that His fatherly mercy and pardon shall follow.

    He has clearly joined herewith and added the law, and has bound us by a certain condition and engagement, that we should ask that our debts be forgiven us in such a manner as we ourselves forgive our debtors, knowing that that which we seek for our sins cannot be obtained unless we ourselves have acted in a similar way in respect of our debtors. Therefore also He says in another place, “With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” And the servant who, after having had all his debt forgiven him by his master, would not forgive his fellow-servant, is cast back into prison; because he would not forgive his fellow-servant, he lost the indulgence that had been shown to himself by his lord. And these things Christ still more urgently sets forth in His precepts with yet greater power of His rebuke. “When you stand praying,” says He, “forgive if you have anything against any, that your Father which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses.” There remains no ground of excuse in the day of judgment, when you will be judged according to your own sentence; and whatever you have done, that you also will suffer. For God commands us to be peacemakers, and in agreement, and of one mind in His house; and such as He makes us by a second birth, such He wishes us when new-born to continue, that we who have begun to be sons of God may abide in God’s peace, and that, having one spirit, we should also have one heart and one mind. Thus God does not receive the sacrifice of a person who is in disagreement, but commands him to go back from the altar and first be reconciled to his brother, that so God also may be appeased by the prayers of a peace-maker. Our peace and brotherly agreement is the greater sacrifice to God—and a people united in one in the unity of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Treatise 4.22-23)

    St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) wrote:

    And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. For we have many sins. For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and if we say that we have no sin, we lie, as John says. And we make a covenant with God, entreating Him to forgive us our sins, as we also forgive our neighbours their debts. Considering then what we receive and in return for what, let us not put off nor delay to forgive one another. The offenses committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is. Take heed therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against you, you shut out for yourself forgiveness from God for your very grievous sins. (Catechetical Lecture, 23)

    St. John Chrysostom (347-407) wrote:

    Then forasmuch as it comes to pass that we sin even after the washing of regeneration, He, showing His love to man to be great even in this case, commands us for the remission of our sins to come unto God who loves man, and thus to say, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” Do you see surpassing mercy? After taking away so great evils, and after the unspeakable greatness of His gift, if men sin again, He counts them such as may be forgiven. For that this prayer belongs to believers, is taught us both by the laws of the church, and by the beginning of the prayer. For the uninitiated could not call God Father. If then the prayer belongs to believers, and they pray, entreating that sins may be forgiven them, it is clear that not even after the laver is the profit of repentance taken away. Since, had He not meant to signify this, He would not have made a law that we should so pray. Now He who both brings sins to remembrance, and bids us ask forgiveness, and teaches how we may obtain remission and so makes the way easy; it is perfectly clear that He introduced this rule of supplication, as knowing, and signifying, that it is possible even after the font to wash ourselves from our offenses; by reminding us of our sins, persuading us to be modest; by the command to forgive others, setting us free from all revengeful passion; while by promising in return for this to pardon us also, He holds out good hopes, and instructs us to have high views concerning the unspeakable mercy of God toward man. (Homily 19 on Matthew)

    And elsewhere St. Chrysostom writes:

    Consider that you say, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:13) Consider, that if you dost not forgive, you will not be able to say this with confidence: but if you forgive, you demand the matter as a debt, not by reason of the nature of the thing, but on account of the lovingkindness of Him that has granted it. And wherein is it equal, that one who forgives his fellow-servants should receive remission of the sins committed against the Lord? But nevertheless we do receive such great lovingkindness, because He is rich in mercy and pity. (Homily 1 on Philemon)

    St. Jerome (347-420) wrote:

    Next comes, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” No sooner do they rise from the baptismal font, and by being born again and incorporated into our Lord and Saviour thus fulfil what is written of them, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered,” than at the first communion of the body of Christ they say, “Forgive us our debts,” though these debts had been forgiven them at their confession of Christ; but you in your arrogant pride boast of the cleanness of your holy hands and of the purity of your speech. However thorough the conversion of a man may be, and however perfect his possession of virtue after a time of sins and failings, can such persons be as free from fault as they who are just leaving the font of Christ? And yet these latter are commanded to say, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors”; not in the spirit of a false humility, but because they are afraid of human frailty and dread their own conscience. (Against the Pelagians III.15)

    And elsewhere St. Jerome writes:

    How have we been able in our daily prayers to say “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” (Matthew 6:12) while our feelings have been at variance with our words, and our petition inconsistent with our conduct? (Letter 13)

    The Council of Carthage (AD 419) declared the following three canons against the Pelagians (who thought it possible to live sinlessly):

    Canon 114: That not only humble but also true is that voice of the Saints: “If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves.”

    It also seemed good that as St. John the Apostle says, “If we shall say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” whosoever thinks that this should be so understood as to mean that out of humility, we ought to say that we have sin, and not because it is really so, let him be anathema. For the Apostle goes on to add, “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity,” where it is sufficiently clear that this is said not only of humility but also truly. For the Apostle might have said, “If we shall say we have no sins we shall extol ourselves, and humility shall have no place in us;” but when he says, “we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” he sufficiently intimates that he who affirmed that he had no sin would speak not that which is true but that which is false.

    Canon 115: That in the Lord’s Prayer the Saints say for themselves: “Forgive us our trespasses”

    It has seemed good that whoever should say that when in the Lord’s prayer, the saints say, “forgive us our trespasses,” they say this not for themselves, because they have no need of this petition, but for the rest who are sinners of the people; and that therefore no one of the saints can say, “Forgive me my trespasses,” but “Forgive us our trespasses;” so that the just is understood to seek this for others rather than for himself; let him be anathema. For holy and just was the Apostle James, when he said, “For in many things we offend all.” For why was it added “all,” unless that this sentence might agree also with the psalm, where we read, “Enter not into judgment with your servant, O Lord, for in your sight shall no man living be justified;” and in the prayer of the most wise Solomon: “There is no man that sins not;” and in the book of the holy Job: “He seals in the hand of every man, that every man may know his own infirmity;” wherefore even the holy and just Daniel when in prayer said several times: “We have sinned, we have done iniquity,” and other things which there truly and humbly he confessed; nor let it be thought (as some have thought) that this was said not of his own but rather of the people’s sins, for he said further on: “When I shall pray and confess my sins and the sins of my people to the Lord my God;” he did not wish to say our sins, but he said the sins of his people and his own sins, since he as a prophet foresaw that those who were to come would thus misunderstand his words.

    Canon 116: That the Saints say with accuracy, “Forgive us our trespasses”

    Likewise also it seemed good, that whoever wished that these words of the Lord’s prayer, when we say, “Forgive us our trespasses” are said by the saints out of humility and not in truth let them be anathema. For who would make a lying prayer, not to men but to God? Who would say with his lips that he wished his sins forgiven him, but in his heart that he had no sins to be forgiven.

    St. John Cassian (360-435) wrote:

    But that no one however holy is in this life free from trespasses and sin, we are told also by the teaching of the Saviour, who gave His disciples the form of the perfect prayer and among those other sublime and sacred commands, which as they were only given to the saints and perfect cannot apply to the wicked and unbelievers, He bade this to be inserted: “And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) If then this is offered as a true prayer and by saints, as we ought without the shadow of a doubt to believe, who can be found so obstinate and impudent, so puffed up with the pride of the devil’s own rage, as to maintain that he is without sin, and not only to think himself greater than apostles, but also to charge the Saviour Himself with ignorance or folly, as if He either did not know that some men could be free from debts, or was idly teaching those whom He knew to stand in no need of the remedy of that prayer? But since all the saints who altogether keep the commands of their King, say every day “Forgive us our debts,” if they speak the truth there is indeed no one free from sin, but if they speak falsely, it is equally true that they are not free from the sin of falsehood. Wherefore also that most wise Ecclesiastes reviewing in his mind all the actions and purposes of men declares without any exception: “that there is not a righteous man upon earth, that does good and sins not,” (Ecclesiastes 7:21) i.e., no one ever could or ever will be found on this earth so holy, so diligent, so earnest as to be able continually to cling to that true and unique good, and not day after day to feel that he is drawn aside from it and fails. But still though he maintains that he cannot be free from wrong doing, yet none the less we must not deny that he is righteous. (Conference 23, chapter 18)

    St. Leo the Great, bishop of Rome (400-461) wrote:

    If any one, therefore, has been fired by the desire for vengeance against another, so that he has given him up to prison or bound him with chains, let him make haste to forgive not only the innocent, but also one who seems worthy of punishment, that he may with confidence make use of the clause in the Lord’s prayer and say, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. ” Which petition the Lord marks with peculiar emphasis, as if the efficacy of the whole rested on this condition, by saying, “For if you forgive men their sins, your Father which is in heaven also will forgive you: but if you forgive not men, neither will your Father forgive you your sins.” (Sermon 39, chapter 5)

    So, here’s the problem for the notion that we’re not supposed to pray the Lord’s Prayer, after Christ’s resurrection. Nobody in the early Church got that message. They all prayed it, and believed it was mandatory for us to pray it. It was the heretics (i.e. Pelagians) who thought we didn’t need to pray it, and the Fathers appealed to the universal liturgical practice and Tradition of the Church in her understanding of the Lord’s Prayer, to refute the claim of the Pelagians. So, either the whole Church got it wrong, and the error overcame the whole, universal Church at a very early time, or, the Apostles did in fact teach that we are to pray the Lord’s Prayer. Which, do you think, is more likely, especially if ecclesial deism is false?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  19. I would add a clarification: It’s not (just) at the moment one believes that all their sins are forgiven, but, logically, at a moment in time as ‘early’ as the Cross. This is because Protestants state (and logically so) that the Cross effected actual forgiveness, not ‘potential’ forgiveness. This has led to a serious (and never really resolved) debate within Reformed Protestantism, popularly titled “Eternal Justification”. Some Reformed emphasize the ‘logic’ aspect and say that since actual forgiveness took place, the elect are essentially born justified (or at least forgiven), while (most) other Reformed emphasize the ‘Scriptural’ aspect and note texts like Eph 2:1-5 state we were born outside God’s friendship.

    I wrote about this significant problem here:
    http://catholicnick.blogspot.com/2010/05/eternally-forgiven-more-problems-with.html

  20. Bill,

    Among the many things worth considering and responding to in your comment (#16), I want to pick just one. You wrote:

    When Jesus responded to their question, the only option available for “forgiveness” was the careful execution of the prescribed rituals, prayers and sacrifices.

    Remember that, just a few short chapters after delivering his Prayer to his disciples, Our Lord did this:

    And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:2)

    This verse contradicts your claim concerning what was “the only available option for ‘forgiveness’ ….”

  21. I’m curious what Calvin did with this contradiction. Anyone know?

  22. Sarah,

    You can check out Calvin’s interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer in his Commentary on Matthew 6:9-13.

  23. Ryan and Bryan,

    Ops, you are so very correct in pointing out that my post seemed to contradict itself. In choosing the word “resolve.” I really confused my message. Please excuse me. By “resolve” I meant that the question would be put rest and go away – not that I was going to be able to demonstrate that the two beliefs can work together. I meant to address Bryan’s question and then give an explanation as to why I believe it doesn’t seem to make sense for a person to believe that their sins (past, present and future) are forgiven and then “pray” the Lords’ Prayer asking for forgiveness? If you believe that all our sins (past, present and future) were forgiven at the moment of justification, why would you continually keep asking Him for it?

    Ryan, concerning the use of the Lord’s Prayer, if you will allow me, I would like to share a very minority, radical, maybe heretic to some, opinion. It concerns the Lord’s Prayer and the topic of forgiveness. I don’t think it is appropriate for us to “pray” the Lord’s Prayer at all. I have explained why I think it should not be used as a device for obtaining forgiveness as St Augustine says in, “On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sin.” (Post 14) I have come to believe that it was never meant for us
    directly – we who are under Grace and not the Law. Rather, it was a perfect example of Jesus doing what he did in the whole sermon on the mount – that is, refute the teachings of the Pharisees, especially the claim that if you stick to the life style that they had come up with you would never come close enough to break one of the laws of Moses and therefore you would be sinless and in compliance with the Law. He spent much of his ministry driving home the point of the Law. The point of the Law is that no matter how hard you try, no matter how many hedges of protection you have, etc., you will never satisfy it. You are lost. It’s hopeless. There is nothing you can do about it. Ours sin is so great that there is nothing we can do make up for it – nothing at all. When a person, then or now comes to the end of themselves and gives up striving and re-striving, trying through their efforts to obtain forgiveness, there is only one possible way, only one place they can go. It is into the loving arms of God where they can accept God’s gift of forgiveness, given to us freely before we even asked him too. The fact that we have had a few thousand years to try and learn how to obey all the Law and never have proves that the only way you can be saved is if God Himself takes care of the problem.

    What Jesus was doing in the Sermon on the Mount and in the included “Lord’s Prayer” was the Jews of the time to receive their savior. Until they understood that it was hopeless and that they were lost, He could not save them. The Lord’s Prayer was like the Law, impossible to keep. Like the Law, no one could live up to it. I say that because among other things, it demands that we forgive as God forgives. Verses 14 and 15 make it more explicit: “14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” I am saying that Jesus gave them an impossible task – just like God gave them a set of rules and requirements in the Law that He knew they couldn’t obey completely. I maintain that it is not possible for us to forgive as God forgives. God forgives perfectly and completely. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have a flash of emotion once in a while when reminded of some offense against him. But then we quickly remind ourselves that we have already forgiven them and everything is OK. That is not the way God does it. “The best we can do”
    has never been the standard that the Lord uses. When it comes to forgiveness and justification, it is strictly pass/fail. When God demanded something of the Jew under the Law, there was no, “Do the best you can.”It was, “Do it or die.”” In the prayer he demands that we forgive others or He won’t forgive us. Like the Law, I don’t see any allowance for doing the best you can. The problem is, it is not possible to be as perfect as God and forgive and forget as He does. I do of course believe that we can
    receive Grace from God to help us and that some of us come closer than other. Maybe even some come close to God but no one reaches a level where they are equal with God in anything. I don’t believe that any one can be perfect as God so how can we forgive as perfectly and completely as God forgives? I don’t believe He actually expected that we would be able to. I think it was a continuation the plan to have them come to the point that they realized they are doomed and the free gift of Grace was the only way to be saved.

    The situation now is different. The penalty for sin was and will always be death; however, the penalty under the law of sin and death has been satisfied – completely and permanently by the sacrifice of Jesus. The bulls and goats and rituals never did it. It took Jesus to do it. Jesus fulfilled the Law just like he said. He fulfilled the Law by fulfilling the two requirements of the Law – be completely sinless and die to satisfy the penalty part. There is no amount of prayer, ritual, offering,
    sacrifice, tithing, sincere efforts, human intercession, good deeds, church building, mission work that could have done it – including the Lord’s Prayer. But until Jesus died and rose again sacrifice, rituals, sacrifices and prayers were all they had. On this side of the cross we have the forgiveness that was not yet available to them. to ask Him to forgive us when we have already received it is redundant. It is not only redundant to ask for it all over, but I think it minimizes what happened at Calvary. It is an indicator that we have not fully accepted His gift because many of us, like the Disciples at first, don’t really understand it. Everything in our experience shows us that nothing comes for free. We and they find it unnatural to be completely forgiven without paying a price or a penalty of some kind. So we seek ways to pay Him back. We turn back to the sacrificial system but instead of paying for our sins with blood like the Bible tells us, we come up with our own, new sacrificial system. We offer other sacrifices like the sacrifice of money or praise or service or the reciting of a ritual prayer, (i.e., the Lord’s prayer.) The problem is, I believe that when He said
    it was finished, I think He meant it was really finished. He didn’t forget or leave out anything for the next guy to finish up. He once and for all resolved the sin/death issue. The demands of the Law have been satisfied. There is nothing we can add to death of Jesus. Because the penalty has been paid we have a different situation that then the people who were listening to him in His time. They had nothing but the Law and the fore shadowing of the arrival of the Christ that was previewed in the original sacrificial system. Christ was a Jewish rabbi, teaching Jews under the Law to obey the law best they possibly could so that they could come the place that they would understand that they can’t obey it.

    Some of Jesus’ teachings were directed toward them and their situation and some are applicable to us now. We have to be careful to discern which of Jesus’ teaching were intended to drive home the point to the people that contrary to what the Pharisees taught, they could not be sinless and therefore right with God on their own and which teachings were meant for believers on this side of the cross. The Lord’s Prayer was given to the Disciples as a stop gap until the sin issue was resolved for good just like the Law was. It was never intended to be used by us as a tool whereby if we, as St. Augustine says, (Post 14) are sincere enough, will obtain daily forgiveness.

    By the way, here is my disclaimer. It is not my intention to challenge or offend anyone. This seems like an intelligent forum made up of people who want to share and learn so I felt comfortable bringing up my controversial opinions. My comments could cause a firestorm in a less mature blog. I too want to share and learn and I look forward to hearing from others regarding my positions. I sincerely apologize if I have offended anyone.

  24. Andrew,

    Thank you for appropriately noting that that the Law was not the only means of forgiveness. Our God can and does anything He wants to and there are of course many other examples of Him forgiving sinners.

    (As a side note: I am trying to remember how many of them actually asked for forgiveness? It seemed that He just freely gave it to them, just as He did us.)

    Word are clumsy and I am the King of Clumsy so I apologize for seemingly not remembering the forgiveness He gave on many occasions. What I meant was, that except for direct, one-on-One examples of His forgiving I don’t know of any other system at the time that He set up to provide forgiveness to mankind other than the Mosaic sacrificial system? Are you OK with that or am I missing something?

    Thank you for keepin me honest. It is hard to really hard to say what you mean and not leave some holes unless you do a full treatise on the subject.

  25. Bill,

    Do you have any comments on Bryan’s quotes from the eCf’s involving the Lord’s Prayer. My understanding is the Didache actually required Christians to pray the Lord’s Prayer 3 time a day. This goes back to the first century. Why should we beleive you over them?

  26. Thanks Randy. Here’s chapter 8 from the Didache (roughly AD 100):

    Neither pray as the hypocrites; but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, thus pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); for Yours is the power and the glory for ever. Thrice in the day thus pray.

  27. Bill,

    Be assured, no offense taken. You very graciously expressed your opinion. It sounds like, from what you describe, you accept old-school dispensationalism (the tribulation, the rapture, national Israel being brought back in, two distinct people of God, namely Israel and then the Church as a rupture with and not a fulfillment of Israel). The praying of the Our Father is something that does not separate Reformed theology and Catholic theology for the reason that both understand the Church as a fulfillment of Israel. In short, we see the New Covenant as the fulfillment of the Old, not a departure from, and as such the Church is the new Israel, made up of both Jew and Gentile, centered on Jesus Christ (Eph 2).

  28. [...] to Communion posted an article about Reformed Imputation and the Lord’s Prayer. (Really, C2C is a site you should be reading every [...]

  29. Hi Tom, thank you for your very concise and clear explanation of the Church as the new Israel.

    I am dying to know how you came up with such a specific list of my possible opinions about the end times. Did you you find clues in my rather lengthy post, Post #23?

    Before I continue, I notice that the thrust of the blog is discussion that seems to be focused on issues concerning Reformed Protestant doctrine and Catholic theology. Perhaps this wouldn’t be the place to ask you a question about your “the fulfillment of the Old, not a departure from.” If I am off topic or out of sync, please let me know and i won’t post here anymore?

    I have been both a practicing Lutheran and practicing Catholic but I never was exposed to the rational for some of each’s beliefs. I am really curious about how Reformed Protestant doctrine and Catholic theology deals with the difference between the Law of Moses which was sort sort of pass/fail and the the new Covenant of Grace. If the New Covenant does not depart from the old one, how is that we don’t have to follow the dietary rules, etc.? If we don’t obey some of them but obey others, how do we decide which ones to obey? Is that for the church fathers and theologians to decide and then instruct us?

    Thank you in advance for your response.

  30. Bill,

    I said that it sounded like you accepted old-school dispensationalism and then went on to give some basic concepts unique to dispensationalism, not necessarily what you believe. The reason I said that was in response to your statement that it is not proper to pray the Lord’s Prayer, which is something taught by quite a few old-school dispensationalism.

    It is sad that you were a practicing Lutheran and a practicing Catholic and not exposed to the rational for their beliefs. Catechetical instruction is so integral to the living out of the faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says Dogma is the light that illuminates the path of our spiritual life, empowering the daily life of faith. That said, the basis for obeying some and not others, in reference to the Mosaic Law, comes not from the individual believer determining what to accept or not accept but from the Magisterium of the Church, which is given the authority from God to determine such matters so as to help guide the faithful in the matters of faith and morals.

  31. As for who decides what to do about the Mosaic Law, this seems to be the exact question raised in the book of Acts, and which was settled by the magisterium of the Church at the council held in Jerusalem (Acts 15).

  32. David,
    In regard to you Post #31, may I ask you, I am not clear what that settlement was? Do you mean the instructions to the Gentiles to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. Was that saying that the Jew would continue to practice the Law of Moses but that the Gentiles (and now by extension, the Church) only need to obey those parts?

  33. Bill (re: #32),

    Here’s what St. Augustine says about this:

    But in the case of those [i.e. Gentiles] who had no such training, but were brought to Christ, the corner-stone, from the opposite wall of circumcision, there was no obligation to adopt Jewish customs. If, indeed, like Timothy, they chose to accommodate themselves to the views of those of the circumcision who were still wedded to their old sacraments, they were free to do so. But if they supposed that their hope and salvation depended on these works of the law, they were warned against them as a fatal danger. So the apostle says: “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing;” (Galatians 5:2) that is, if they were circumcised, as they were intending to be, in compliance with some corrupt teachers, who told them that without these works of the law they could not be saved. For when, chiefly through the preaching of the Apostle Paul, the Gentiles were coming to the faith of Christ, as it was proper that they should come, without being burdened with Jewish observances — for those who were grown up were deterred from the faith by fear of ceremonies to which they were not accustomed, especially of circumcision; and if they who had not been trained from their birth to such observances had been made proselytes in the usual way, it would have implied that the coming of Christ still required to be predicted as a future event — when, then, the Gentiles were admitted without these ceremonies, those of the circumcision who believed, not understanding why the Gentiles were not required to adopt their customs, nor why they themselves were still allowed to retain them, began to disturb the Church with carnal contentions, because the Gentiles were admitted into the people of God without being made proselytes in the usual way by circumcision and the other legal observances. Some also of the converted Gentiles were bent on these ceremonies, from fear of the Jews among whom they lived. Against these Gentiles the Apostle Paul often wrote, and when Peter was carried away by their hypocrisy, he corrected him with a brotherly rebuke. (Galatians 2:14) Afterwards, when the apostles met in council, decreed that these works of the law were not obligatory in the case of the Gentiles, (Acts 15:6-11) some Christians of the circumcision were displeased, because they failed to understand that these observances were permissible only in those who had been trained in them before the revelation of faith, to bring to a close the prophetic life in those who were engaged in it before the prophecy was fulfilled, lest by a compulsory abandonment it should seem to be condemned rather than closed; while to lay these things on the Gentiles would imply either that they were not instituted to prefigure Christ, or that Christ was still to be prefigured. The ancient people of God, before Christ came to fulfill the law and the prophets, were required to observe all these things by which Christ was prefigured. It was freedom to those who understood the meaning of the observance, but it was bondage to those who did not. But the people in those latter times who come to believe in Christ as having already come, and suffered, and risen, in the case of those whom this faith found trained to those sacraments, are neither required to observe them, nor prohibited from doing so; while there is a prohibition in the case of those who were not bound by the ties of custom, or by any necessity, to accommodate themselves to the practice of others, so that it might become manifest that these things were instituted to prefigure Christ, and that after His coming they were to cease, because the promises had been fulfilled. Some believers of the circumcision who did not understand this were displeased with this tolerant arrangement which the Holy Spirit effected through the apostles, and stubbornly insisted on the Gentiles becoming Jews. These are the people of whom Faustus speaks under the name of Symmachians or Nazareans. Their number is now very small, but the sect still continues. (Contra Faustum, Bk 19, para. 17)

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  34. Henry, the King of Eon, saw Joey, Lima, and Drake stabbed his innocent son to death. He was outraged at what they did. It is as if this three didn’t know who he is. They utterly profaned his authority and honor by brutally killing his son. The only way to defend his name as King of Eon is to show justice. Joey, Lima and Drake must be punished far brutal than the worst criminal in the Kingdom. Lima went first to his terrible fate. Then Drake followed the painful path of condemnation. When it was Joey’s turn, King Henry gestured to the guards to stop the execution. To everyone’s surprise the King held Joey’s hand and declared to him and to crowd a kingly decree, “You have killed my son and you deserve all misery of pain and death that I can think of. But, I would be gracious to you. I forgive you from this moment and for the rest of your life. I will take you as my son. Train you to be a prince like that of my son. I will see my son in you so that everything he is, you are to me. You are to be regarded as Prince of Eon though you’re a commoner and do not have the life blood of royalty.” The guards jaw dropped at total amazement. The crowd was so baffled but the decree of the King was clear. Joey, the murderer has been declared Prince of Eon, beyond the clutches of death and condemnation that he so rightly deserves.

    One day, at the training arena, Prince Joey tried to hit the target with his bow. His personal trainer was none other than King Henry himself. Yet, every time the Prince tries to hit the target, he loses focus. King Henry reminds him that one of the traits of a Prince of Eon is patience. Prince Joey has none. When he tried to hit the target again and missed, he throws the bow down at his Father. He cursed and said, “I hate this. My hands are aching and my skin is baked under the heat of the sun. Look Father, I tried my best and I think you are just making a fool out of me. How can anyone hit that target?” The gestures and curses he made showed utter disrespect to the King. He forgot his place. He thought he always has been Prince.

    King Henry sees the dark character of his choiced Prince. He felt the insult and the disrespect. He did not respond to the immaturity of the Prince but instead started to turn his back and walk slowly away from the Prince. The Prince felt the gravity of his actions as he saw his Father leave slowly. Realizing what he has done, he gently grabbed his Father’s shoulders. He felt his heart pierced to the very core at his transgression, he could not help shedding a tear on his right eye. “Father, I do not know what came in me. Forgive me, I forgot my place. You are here to train me to be a Prince and love me as a son though, I am a murderer. I deserve to…” Before he could finish the words in his heart, King Henry replied, “Son, you are the Prince of Eon. I have chosen and made you so. I know this would happen in our relationship because you are still being trained. But long before you have done this, I saw this coming and I have forgiven you. You are my son and I will not abandon you but promise that you will walk as my son as I train you.” The King bent down and took the bow. Then he took Prince Joey’s hand and gave him the bow then said, “Let’s try it again…” The Prince knowing how his father loves him throws his hand around his father and said, “Father, I don’t know how many times I may forget my place… please forgive me. Help me not fall and act like when I am not your Prince.”

    Question: Was there a conflict of the King’s action of imputing to Joey all that his son is (forgiving him and making him Prince) and his later act of forgiveness when Prince Joey loses his patience and insulted him at one of the training sessions?

  35. JoeyHenry, (re: #34),

    Was there a conflict of the King’s action of imputing to Joey all that his son is (forgiving him and making him Prince) and his later act of forgiveness when Prince Joey loses his patience and insulted him at one of the training sessions?

    If Henry had already forgiven Joey not only for all that Joey had already done, but for all Joey would do against him, then yes, there is a conflict between (1) at the time of adopting Joey, having already forgiven Joey for insulting Henry at the future training session, and (2) forgiving him again at the training session.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  36. Hi Bryan,

    You said: “If Henry had already forgiven Joey not only for all that Joey had already done, but for all Joey would do against him, then yes, there is a conflict between (1) at the time of adopting Joey, having already forgiven Joey for insulting Henry at the future training session, and (2) forgiving him again at the training session.”

    Hmmm… that’s strange a strange way of putting it. It is number (2) that bothered me. You said “forgiving him AGAIN at the training session” as if the act of forgiveness in (1) is different from when the future training session actually happened.

  37. I don’t think there is a conflict the way the story goes. As it goes it could just as easily describe Catholic justification. Joey sees King Henry withdraw and repents. He makes a confession and the relationship is repaired. But what if Joey does not repent? What if Joey continues to think King Henry is too demanding and leaves his adopted Father’s house? Or does his Father force him to stay? Then the parallels get stronger.

  38. Joey, (re: #36)

    The issue is not complicated, but rather quite simple. If Henry has already forgiven Joey for everything that Joey will ever do, then Henry cannot forgive Joey again. What is already forgiven cannot be forgiven again. So, if (as Reformed theology holds) Christ has already forgiven me for all my past, present and future sins, then He cannot forgive me again, since there is nothing to forgive, because it has already been forgiven at the moment of my justification. In that case, there is no reason for me, after being justified, to ask Him for forgiveness. Doing so performatively denies what He has already done.

    If, however, at the moment Henry adopted Joey he only forgave Joey for his past and present sins, then at the training session Henry can forgive Joey for what Joey does at the training session. Thus, if, as the Catholic Church teaches, at my baptism all my past and present (but not my future) sins are forgiven, then later, when I commit a sin, I can, without contradiction, ask Christ to forgive me, and He can forgive me for it, because that sin is not already forgiven.

    If you haven’t read through the post and the comments, I recommend that you do so carefully, before posting further in this thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  39. Bryan,

    Forgive me, I’m not quite as learned or erudite as some of the other commenters, but could (or does) the Reformed system argue that the forgiveness of future sins occured at the cross in “God’s time” (since He knows all our sins, even before we commit them), but still we must ask in “our time” for the forgiveness that’s already been given in the past? Sort of like how in Catholic theology, the Sacrifice of the Mass is our participation in Christ’s sacrifice TODAY, even though the sacrifice occurred in 34AD.. I’m probably not stating it clearly, but do you see what I’m getting at?

  40. Chris, (re: #39)

    The once-for-all nature of Reformed justification makes progressive justification impossible in the Reformed system. See the last paragraph in this comment. In Reformed theology, the once-and-for all is not just what Christ did on the cross, but what takes place viz-a-viz justification at the moment of faith. In Reformed theology, at the moment a person truly believes in Christ, he is justified, and a justified person can never lose his justification, nor can his justification increase. That’s the once-and-for-all nature of the instantaneously and complete application of Christ’s work to the individual, with respect to his justification. From the moment of his justification he is as justified as he ever will be, because he is totally justified. So this conception of justification does not allow further justifications or increases in justification.

    In Catholic theology concerning the mass, there is no claim that the participant has once-and-for-all received as much grace as he can ever receive, and that he cannot lose the grace that he has received. So subsequent participation in the mass is not thereby nullified.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  41. Hi Bryan,

    I know the issue is simple. But you seem to complicate and over analyze things. That is why, I put out a fictional story as a way of response to see whether your argument is legitimate.

    Now let’s look at it again. Here is your selling point: “So, if (as Reformed theology holds) Christ has already forgiven me for all my past, present and future sins, then He cannot forgive me again, since there is nothing to forgive, because it has already been forgiven at the moment of my justification.”

    I can immediately sense the disconnect of your argument when you responded to the story line. This is what you’ve said which reflects also your selling point but, this time, it is not coaxed on motherhood statements but works on some specific details: “If Henry had already forgiven Joey not only for all that Joey had already done, but for all Joey would do against him, then yes, there is a conflict between (1) at the time of adopting Joey, having already forgiven Joey for insulting Henry at the future training session, and (2) forgiving him again at the training session.”

    What is wrong at this analysis? You treat the the act of forgiveness in number (1) as if it is different when the event actually took place in time in number (2). Actually, Henry is not forgiving Joey AGAIN when the event finally took place. The forgiveness refers to the same event. Yet both participants in the story line sees it in different perspective. One knows the certainty of the events in the future and therefore could speak of forgiveness past, present and future when declares it so. The other is bound by experience and time. He sees the forgiveness of his Father as he experiences it and therefore could speak of the then-and-now as he tangibly sees it yet his mind is not precluded from imagining the already-and-not-yet aspect of his relationship with his Father.

  42. Joey, (#41)

    You wrote:

    What is wrong at this analysis? You treat the the act of forgiveness in number (1) as if it is different when the event actually took place in time in number (2). Actually, Henry is not forgiving Joey AGAIN when the event finally took place. The forgiveness refers to the same event. Yet both participants in the story line sees it in different perspective. One knows the certainty of the events in the future and therefore could speak of forgiveness past, present and future when declares it so. The other is bound by experience and time. He sees the forgiveness of his Father as he experiences it and therefore could speak of the then-and-now as he tangibly sees it yet his mind is not precluded from imagining the already-and-not-yet aspect of his relationship with his Father.

    Here’s the dilemma. At the moment Henry adopted Joey, either (a) Henry forgave Joey’s future offenses against him, or (b) Henry did not forgive Joey’s future offenses against him. If (a), then Henry cannot forgive Joey again at the training session, because Joey’s training session offense has already been forgiven. But, if (b), then the Joey-Henry story is not an apt analogy for Reformed theology, because in Reformed theology, at the moment of justification all one’s past, present and future sins are forgiven, as I explained in #39 in the other thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  43. Randy,

    You said: “I don’t think there is a conflict the way the story goes. As it goes it could just as easily describe Catholic justification. Joey sees King Henry withdraw and repents. He makes a confession and the relationship is repaired. But what if Joey does not repent? What if Joey continues to think King Henry is too demanding and leaves his adopted Father’s house? Or does his Father force him to stay? Then the parallels get stronger.”

    There are two solution to your question of “What if’s”. The King knows and has sovereignty over the “what if’s” even before it will/will not happen. There is no “what if’s” in his point of view. Secondly, you have to understand who the King is. Can He actually deliver His promises to train the Prince and have the character of His Son? Or, is he powerless to do so unless the Prince grants his promises effectiveness by the Prince’s sheer will power?

    Have you seen the movie Bruce Almighty? Do you picture God like that of Bruce? He begs for his girl to love him but is powerless to do so and bring it to pass… Do you think this is the God of the Bible? I don’t think so. So when God said this — “My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from my Father’s hand. ” (John 10:27 ) — does He fail to keep this promise or is this promise an empty one and depends upon our sheer will power for effectiveness?

  44. Bryan,

    You said: “Here’s the dilemma. At the moment Henry adopted Joey, either (a) Henry forgave Joey’s future offenses against him, or (b) Henry did not forgive Joey’s future offenses against him. If (a), then Henry cannot forgive Joey again at the training session, because Joey’s training session offense has already been forgiven. But, if (b), then the Joey-Henry story is not an apt analogy for Reformed theology, because in Reformed theology, at the moment of justification all one’s past, present and future sins are forgiven, as I explained in #39 in the other thread.”

    The dilemma that you create is non-existent. You fail to see the dynamics and nature of both participants. As I have said, one knows the certainty of the events in the future and therefore could speak of forgiveness past, present and future when he declares it so. The other is bound by experience and time. He sees the forgiveness of his Father as he experiences it and therefore could speak of the then-and-now as he tangibly sees it yet his mind is not precluded from imagining the already-and-not-yet aspect of his relationship with his Father.

    I think you can see my point but put a blind eye to it. You treat the the act of forgiveness in number (1) as if it is different when the event actually took place in time in number (2). Actually, Henry is not forgiving Joey AGAIN when the event finally took place.

  45. Joey, (re: #44)

    You wrote:

    The dilemma that you create is non-existent.

    If you wish to refute a dilemma, you need to show the third option. So, here again are the two options I presented:

    At the moment Henry adopted Joey, either (a) Henry forgave Joey’s future offenses against him, or (b) Henry did not forgive Joey’s future offenses against him.

    So, please show the third option.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  46. Joe Henry

    you seem to create a different dilemma or at least a perceived dilemma.

    The King knows and has sovereignty over the “what if’s” even before it will/will not happen. There is no “what if’s” in his point of view….does He fail to keep this promise or is this promise an empty one and depends upon our sheer will power for effectiveness?

    So when the King saves Joey, Joey loses free will? Joey is incapable of choosing to defy the king? So how is it that Joey is frustrated and dishonors the King? The King sometimes lets him fail and insult the King, but will always at some point force him to repent?

    I can see where it certainly doesn’t depend on our will power. It is 100% dependent on God and we are apparently completely out of the equation. If we sin, it is because God lets us. If we repent it is because God causes us too whether we want to or not.

  47. Bryan,

    You seem to dismiss everything that I’ve said. For me, that is unhealthy and speaks a lot of your argument. Thanks for the conversation. There is nothing more to say at this point.

  48. Joey, (re: #47)

    There is a law of logic according to which [A or not-A] pretty much covers the bases. That’s why the dilemma I posed to you is a real dilemma. At the moment Henry adopted Joey, either (a) Henry forgave Joey’s future offenses against him, or (b) Henry did not forgive Joey’s future offenses against him. There is no third option. But, if you still think there is a third option, feel free to show what it is. There is no need to criticize me. Simply show the third option. But if you have come to realize that there is no third option, then the best thing to do is simply acknowledge that you were mistaken, and embrace one horn of the dilemma.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  49. Randy,

    Good questions:

    1) So when the King saves Joey, Joey loses free will?

    Question: Define for me what you meant by “free” will.

    2) Joey is incapable of choosing to defy the king? So how is it that Joey is frustrated and dishonors the King? The King sometimes lets him fail and insult the King, but will always at some point force him to repent?

    Answer: Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Joey can indeed defy the King. The question is, is the King powerful enough to defeat Joey’s defiance? Can the King really bring to pass his promises to make Joey Prince-like? Sure, the King knows everything that would happen in training the Prince (the insults, impatience, even moments of giving up)… The question is, can the King defeat all these barriers as they happen and fulfill his promise to Prince Joey?

    The question, therefore, is not whether we are free to defy the King because we do and we will. The question is whether the King knows these defiance and can act to overcome and defeat these defiance by giving us a new heart. Can He? The Bible speaks of it: “I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their bodies and I will give them a heart of flesh, so that they may obey my statutes and keep my laws and observe them. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20 )

    You said: “I can see where it certainly doesn’t depend on our will power. It is 100% dependent on God and we are apparently completely out of the equation. If we sin, it is because God lets us. If we repent it is because God causes us too whether we want to or not.”

    I can sense your fear over His sovereignty. I think you are not alone in your fear and objection. Does not this sentiment reflect yours: “Why then does God still find fault? For who has ever resisted his will?” (Romans 9:19) — this is the very objection that was raised when Paul discussed the sovereignty of God: “God has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens whom he chooses to harden.” (Romans 9:18)

  50. Sure, the King knows everything that would happen in training the Prince (the insults, impatience, even moments of giving up)… The question is, can the King defeat all these barriers as they happen and fulfill his promise to Prince Joey?

    One of those barriers being Joey’s choice? If that is the case, he is not a benevolent King, he is an egoist tyrant, because he is not allowing Joey to choose to love him, he is forcing Joey to love him. That may seem like merciful kindness to some, given that Joey could have been executed by the same man, but it certainly isn’t love, and love cannot be reciprocated where love is not borne.

    However, this new twist is not exactly the same story you told originally. The story you told originally had the King forgiving Joey before his execution, choosing to rear Joey as his own, then forgiving him again when Joey impatiently threw his instruments to he ground and cursed. If the King forgave Joey for all of his future transgressions at the point that he prevented his execution, then the scene of Joey’s impatience is utterly pointless. If he had forgiven him for his future transgressions, then he would have been deceiving Joey by pretending to be upset with him in the scene of impatience. You started with one story and now you’re telling another. You’ll have to pick one and accept the implications to their fullest, otherwise, you’ll suffer from storytelling schizophrenia.

  51. Along the same lines, if Joey was just as guilty as the other two boys of the murder of his son, and there is no indication in your story than any of them, including Joey, showed any remorse for their actions, then it seems that the King showed a lack of justice in his decision by killing two to the delight of the onlookers and extending mercy to one, to their dismay, who may not have been sorry for his crime in the first place.

  52. Consider the implications, if Berkhof and Hodge are wrong about all our future sins being forgiven at the moment of justification. Because Reformed theology denies the distinction between mortal and venial sins, it follows that “there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation.” (Westminster Confession of Faith XV.4) But even the holiest among us sins every day in thought, word and deed. Therefore, if (1) no future sins are already forgiven, and if (2) every sin “deserves damnation,” and if (3) all of us sin daily, it follows by logical necessity that we all lose our salvation at least daily, perhaps many times a day, and would, if we were to die during any one of those periods of the day between one of our sins and our subsequent request for God’s forgiveness, be eternally damned.

    In order to avoid that conclusion, and maintain that Berkhof and Hodge are wrong about future sins being already forgiven at the moment of justification, one would either have to accept the Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sin, or one would have to adopt the Pelagian idea that the righteous do not sin at all.

  53. Bryan (re: #48),

    There is no third option. I am not even sure why you need one. I believe in (a). Here is your selling point in this whole escapade:

    “If Henry had already forgiven Joey not only for all that Joey had already done, but for all Joey would do against him, then yes, there is a conflict between (1) at the time of adopting Joey, having already forgiven Joey for insulting Henry at the future training session, and (2) forgiving him AGAIN at the training session.” (emphasis added)

    The error that you make is pretty much clear. You treat the the act of forgiveness in number (1) as if it is different when the event actually took place in time in number (2). Actually, Henry is not forgiving Joey AGAIN when the event finally took place. In other words, God who is atemporal can speak of forgiveness past, present and future and this is not in conflict when he actually applies his action as he enters into time as they come to pass.

    Regards,
    Joey

  54. Joey, (re: #53)

    There is no third option. I am not even sure why you need one. I believe in (a).

    Ok, now we’re making progress. We are agreed that there is no third option. Therefore we are agreed that the only two options are:

    At the moment Henry adopted Joey, either (a) Henry forgave Joey’s future offenses against him, or (b) Henry did not forgive Joey’s future offenses against him.

    You say “I believe in (a).” But the same offensive act cannot be forgiven by the same person more than once. If on Monday I tell you that I forgive you for insulting me on Monday, and then on Tuesday I say to you, “I have decided to forgive you for insulting me yesterday” you’re going to realize that either I was not being honest with you on Monday, or I’m presently being dishonest, and attempting to remind you of your debt to me, in order to get something from you.

    Therefore, because at the moment Henry adopted Joey, Henry forgave all of Joey’s future offenses against him, and because the same offensive act cannot be forgiven by the same person more than once, it follows that Henry cannot forgive Joey again at the training session, because [as we agreed when you accepted (a)] the offenses Joey commits at the training session were already forgiven by Henry when Henry adopted Joey. So because Joey’s training session offenses were already forgiven when Henry adopted Joey, and because Joey knows this, for Joey to ask Henry after the training session to forgive him, is for Joey to contradict what Joey already knows to be true, namely, that Henry already forgave him for this offense when Henry adopted him. In order for Joey (without contradiction) to ask Henry to forgive him after the training session, Joey cannot know that Henry has already forgiven him for Joey’s training session offense.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  55. One nuance I would add to the King-Prince example is this: It’s not just ‘forgiveness’ that’s taken place, it’s more specific than that: the punishment (via PSub) has *already* been inflicted, thus the King has no legal grounds to even put the Prince in a position of needing to ask for forgiveness.

    If the Prince were to commit adultery next year, and the Reformed view says Jesus already took the punishment for that adultery, thus when next year comes there will be no legal grounds for God to even say ‘repent’ because that would entail the Prince being put in a legal bind with the threat of punishment.

    As for the claim that there isn’t really a distinction between (1) and (2), the only ‘option’ for that is the invented distinction between (1) sin legally forgiven in God’s eyes and (2) the individual’s (incidental) psychological need to hear they’re forgiven (even though they know their future sins already are forgiven).

  56. To all in this discussion,

    Reading through the comments for this post, and comments on related posts at C2c, I just had a stunning and terrifying realization. The entire time that I was a convinced Reformed Baptist (from, approximately, 2005 until earlier this year), within the parameters of the Reformed soteriology I held, there was no way for me *know*, in fact, that I was saved. Logically, it would also seem that this would also apply to *anyone* who accepts Reformed soteriology– whether Presbyterian, Reformed Anglican/Episcopal, Bible church, Calvinistic Methodist (as was George Whitefield), and so on. I will explain my thinking and invite anyone to correct me if my reasoning is flawed, or completely incorrect, here.

    As a Reformed Baptist who, by definition, believed in the Calvinist doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints (the Reformed understanding of “eternal security”), to be sure (no pun intended!), I believed in assurance of salvation, I sang about it in church, and when I evangelized non-Christians, it was at least my *desire* to share the concept of assurance with them. I *thought* that I knew I was saved, and that my salvation was secure for all eternity. In fact though, there was no way for me to know. All that I could *truly know* is that I possessed *signs* of belonging to the elect.

    However, there were other, worrisome “signs” in my life that sometimes led me to *doubt* whether I was one of the elect. I repeatedly struggled with certain sins, and sometimes, chose to give in to them. My Reformed friends would tell me that the fact(s) that I *did* struggle, and that I lamented and hated my sin, showed that I was a true brother in Christ, one of the elect.

    There was the other side of that coin though. I still *did* give in to sin at times, and at those exact moments, chillingly, the sin felt good. I also felt sickness, revulsion, and self-reproach, but part of me did like the sin. Soon after would come repentance and confession to God, and many times, talking with fellow Reformed Christians about my various sin struggles. These friends would assure me that I was continuing to hate and fight sin, and that those are signs of being elect. They would also lovingly warn me (as they should have, as my friends) not to become complacent *about* my sin or *about* my assurance– for either of these could lead a hardness of heart and a “falling away,” thus proving that I never really belonged to God.

    Therein lies the crux of the problem with the Reformed concept of assurance. It isn’t really assurance. It is a “confidence,” one might say, though without complacence, that one is saved, based on the appearance of *signs* that one belongs to the elect. However, those signs could all be ultimately temporary in one’s life, and therefore, illusory. One must also, from time to time, check one’s life to make sure that the “signs” of belonging to the elect aren’t beginning to be outweighed by possible “signs” of being reprobate (non-elect).

    The latter was a periodic struggle (and over time, a heavy burden) for me, as a Reformed Baptist who sought to have “assurance” of my salvation. I could never *truly* have assurance of my salvation, in any sense *other* than how I appeared to be showing signs of belonging to the elect, from one day or week or month (which might have been very encouraging) to another day or week or month (not as encouraging).

    To be clear, none of the above has *anything* to do with why I have now, formally and decisively left Protestantism and begun the process of reconciliation to the Catholic Church, which I angrily and ignorantly left almost fifteen years ago. This process has a been a long and very hard one, brothers and sisters. I say that to *all* of my brothers and sisters in Christ– Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and any and all others! :-)

    I have re-read and re-studied relevant Scriptural passages (in light of the whole counsel of Scripture). I have studied Church history and the competing claims about that history. I have discovered, and have now been greatly taught and humbled by, the writings of the Church Fathers (both “early,” “medieval,” and more recent). I have had hours upon hours of discussions with Protestant friends, who have attempted to show that the objective evidence doesn’t lead, or doesn’t necessarily *have* to lead, to the Catholic Church. For me to be honest though, with God, myself, and others, the objective evidence has led me there– and I will not, cannot, in good conscience, turn back from what I have seen by God’s grace.

    On Tuesday of this now-almost-past week, I met with a wonderful, orthodox, kind, wise, 80-year-old Catholic priest (with age, indeed, comes much wisdom!) and expressed my desire to return to the Church. We talked for 90 minutes, every single one for which I very grateful to God. Lord willing, he will hear my confession as soon as it can be arranged– and then, soon after, the Eucharist, the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of the one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Thank you, deeply and truly, to everyone at C2C, for helping to make this possible for me. I am especially grateful to Bryan Cross, Tom Riello, and everyone else who has helped to answer my questions here, and even more, prayed to Our Father for me and, perhaps, asked for the intercession of Our Lady. A world of pain may be about to come down, in my life, from the possible reactions of many of my Protestant friends, including my roommate (I just told him the news late last night). Please continue to pray for me.

    Whatever may come though, I am at peace and happy– because very, very soon, Lord willing, I will be back Home, in the fold of the Church that truly *is* (and always has been!) One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

  57. Christopher,

    Thanks be to God! That’s wonderful news. All of us at Called To Communion welcome you home, and rejoice with you. May our Lord continue to watch over you, and guide you into the truth that works in love, and the peace that comes from above. May He grant you the grace to be a minister of reconciliation.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  58. Christopher – welcome (back) home! May the grace received in the Eucharist strengthen you and each of us to fight every temptation that comes our way.

  59. Christopher,

    I sing the praises of God and rejoice over this news. It is almost five years ago (Thursday June 23, 2005) that I entered into the rectory at St. Gregory Barbarigo Catholic Church and knelt in the office of a dear priest and said these words, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned…” and after that almost hr of back and forth and many tears, some of sorrow, but oh so much more of joy, I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders and was able to rest in the loving arms of the living God! Be assured of prayers on our end.

    Your Grateful Brother in Christ and His Church,
    Tom

  60. Thanks so much, Bryan. I have formally resigned, in a letter to the elders, from my Protestant church, and have shared the news with my Protestant roommate (the elders had asked me to keep my questions about Catholicism between me and them). He has told me, frankly, that he thinks I am wrong, and he is now unsure about the state of my soul, from a Reformed standpoint, but that he is also not going to kick me out of the house for my decision. :-)

    In the days ahead, by God’s grace, I intend to be the most cordial, loving, respectful brother in Christ to all of my Protestant friends that I can be. Whether or not we will continue to talk about our Christian faith with each other, time will have to tell. I am completely open to it. However, I don’t want to cause unnecessary problems and have decided, at least for a while, not to mention the Church or Catholicism (as a matter of prudence) in conversations with these friends, unless they want to talk about them. Hopefully, we can still bond over our shared faith in Christ, and that may eventually open doors to more specific Catholic/Protestant discussions.

  61. Thanks so much, Tim and Tom! I am smiling and laughing with the pure happiness of a child over the great goodness of God! I know that there will almost certainly be trials and tears ahead in this process, but so much of the weight of the past several months has already been lifted, and right now, I have deep, deep joy, in my mind, heart, and soul. Thanks be to God!

  62. Dear Christopher,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and what you have learned from your studies. I pray for you as you make this dramatic change in your life. Be courageous. I have many close relatives who are part of the R.B. movement, and know that (to their credit) they will ‘give it [i.e., their view of this move] to you straight.’

    Let me encourage you with news of a close friend of one of my R.B. relatives. This friend became convicted to enter the Catholic Church and the religious life. She is an only child of Protestant parents, a success at a prominent Christian university, and a young lady with her whole life in front of her. Against tremendous opposition, she listened to her conscience and her calling and is entering religious life now. If we could all be so brave to follow our convictions!

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom B.

  63. Thanks be to God, Christopher.

    I echo Tom’s comment. Friends and family members will be much more consistent in terms of following their system to its logical conclusions than those on the internet when they approach you with their disappointment in your decision. I’ve experienced it too (I think most of us have).

    God Bless,
    Joe

  64. Christopher. Bless you on your journey.

  65. Tom and Joe (and anyone else who is reading),

    One of the things that I love so much, to this very day, about my Reformed Baptist brothers and sisters (at least the ones I have known personally), is their willingness to be direct and honest, when they believe that another brother or sister is wandering into what they (R.B.’s) consider to be dangerous heresy. Of course, as Tom writes, that is to their credit. We all *should* be lovingly concerned for each other’s souls, including to the point of direct confrontation and rebuke, if needed. In that light, by God’s grace, I will face whatever comes from my Protestant friends and know that it almost certainly comes from Christian love and concern.

    I write the above, believing also that their concern is likely woefully *misguided or misinformed*, in terms of an accurate understanding of Catholic theology and ecclesiology, and yes, what the Bible truly teaches, in the context of Sacred Tradition and Church history. I say that now, only in light of how misinformed, in retrospect, I and many of my R.B. friends were about the Catholic Church and what she teaches. However, now is *not* the time to mount a Catholic apologetic to my Protestant friends. I will bear whatever reproach comes and hopefully do so with love, humility, and mercy.

    This may sound incredibly silly, but due to my “Catholic struggles/questions,” I have not signed in to my Facebook page in months. I used to post there regularly, with Reformed observations, quotes, etc. I have hundreds of Reformed friends there, including the pastor of my former R.B. church in D.C. Soon, I need to go back, sign in, and “face” all of these friends. Please pray for me to do so lovingly. If anyone want to request me as a friend there, here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Lake/1627371775 I’m the guy in the wheelchair. :-)

    Tom, thank you for sharing the story of that courageous young woman. That is TREMENDOUSLY inspiring to me. I have already lost career opportunities as a result of my move back to the Church, and I’m at an age (37), and financial place, in my life, when the loss of such opportunities could be very damaging, if not ruinous, to my career life. God knows what He is doing though, and I cannot *not* return to the Church. I would rather be poor in the Church than have a “promising career” as a dishonest no-longer-Protestant who refuses to come Home for love of money and stability. God’s will be done.

    Thank you to everyone, again, for your prayers! In case anyone is interested, I will also leave the link to a page where one can listen to a presentation from Joe Manzari, a fellow former member of my old R.B. church in D.C and a Catholic convert. The talk is entitled “Confessions of a Former Calvinist: The Top Five Reasons Your Protestant Friend Isn’t Catholic.” Scroll down to July 20th, and listen. Joe’s a neat brother. :-) http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/yam/_tot_audio.php

  66. Christopher — Great news. Glad to hear it. Welcome back!

  67. Thanks, Sean and Matt!:-) The warm love here is helping to prepare me for the “tough love” of certain Protestant friends!

  68. Christopher-
    I have been following your comments here for some time and have always appreciated your honesty and sincerity. I just wanted to join the conversation by sharing my congratulations with you. Your integrity is inspiring! God bless you, Christopher.
    herbert vanderlugt

  69. Bryan,

    “But the same offensive act cannot be forgiven by the same person more than once. If on Monday I tell you that I forgive you for insulting me on Monday, and then on Tuesday I say to you, “I have decided to forgive you for insulting me yesterday” you’re going to realize that either I was not being honest with you on Monday, or I’m presently being dishonest, and attempting to remind you of your debt to me, in order to get something from you.”

    You should see how your example betrays the very concept you are defending. We are talking about future sins here. We are not talking about — “I have decided to forgive you for insulting me YESTERDAY”. “Yesterday” is past. This is very telling of your arguments at this point.

    But let me take on your illustration. God who is atemporal sees all aspects of time (past, present and future) as certainty. The future is as certain as the present. His creation (including man) sees time in a linear mode. For us, our future actions does not yet exist. But for God, it does. So when God relates to man and enters through time and said to him, “I have forgiven you of your sins even the one that you will commit on Monday…” For the creature, however, such language is incomprehensible. We understand time as linear and therefore the actions that we commit on Monday, in our perspective, does not yet exist. In our perspective, what is there to forgive and to ask for forgiveness? But for God, that future action does exist and is certain. God knows what we will do and he knows how he will react on Monday as if it were the present because he is atemporal. So in our perspective, when Monday comes, and God enters in the realm of time, applies his verdict as he has declared it to us and forgives us, there is no conflict at all. We are dealing with the “same event” (the Monday event), one that is spoken of by a God who is not bound by time and can therefore speak with certainty that he has forgiven us on this “Monday event” even though from our perspective those sins does not exist and therefore there is nothing to forgive. In our perspective, when Monday thus come and actualized in time, it is not as if God has forgiven us AGAIN.

    This kind of foreknowledge of God about future sins is seen in Peter’s experience of denying the Lord three times (Mt. 26:33-35; Mk 14:29-31; Lk 22:31-34; John 13:36-38). For Peter, what Jesus said is incomprehensible. He utterly was determined to protect the Lord and could not imagine himself denying Him. But for an all-knowing, atemporal God, Peter’s future actions is as certain as if it were the present. God knows that he will forgive Peter as he has assured him that he has prayed for Peter, that his faith may not fail; and that once Peter have turned again, he will strengthen his brothers. From God’s perspective, the events are certain as if it already happened. He gives Peter the gift of repentance, protected him by praying that his faith will not fail (In fact, He is the one who answers prayer!). Implicit in this text is that God knows the events of how Peter will react and how He will react. Thus, it is not incomprehensible for such an atemporal being to speak of all future events as if it were past or present. He is as certain as “now” that he has forgiven Peter even before Peter has done his deed. The future is like history to a God who creates and ordains time.

    It is not, therefore, unintelligible for God to declare that he has forgiven our past, present and future sins when we understand that he is atemporal! He is not bound by time. He sees clearly as broad as daylight that we will ask for forgiveness as He gives us the gift of repentance and that He will forgive (no matter what aspect of time we are talking — past, present, future). Though our language is incapable to describe how God sees the future, there is a sense in which he can declare to us (time bounded creatures) that he has forgiven us of all our sins (past, present and future).

    The error of your criticism against the Protestant doctrine is the failure to account the dynamics and nature of both participants. You did not factor in your logic that God is atemporal and that he relates to his creation who are time bounded. Thus, your argument faces an error that can not be repaired. You may have to improve your whole selling point to Reformed people, for me, because it will not fly.

    Regards,
    Joey

  70. Joey, (re: #69)

    In order to refute an argument, you need to show either that one of the premises is false, or that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. So, here’s the argument.

    (1) At the moment Henry adopted Joey, Henry forgave Joey’s future wrongs against him. [You agreed to this in #53.]

    (2) At the training session after the adoption, Joey does something wrong to Henry. [stipulation]

    Therefore

    (3) At the moment Henry adopted Joey, Henry forgave Joey for the wrong Joey would do to Henry at the training session. [from (1) and (2)]

    (4) Once Henry forgives an offense, he never unforgives a person for that offense. [Henry is a man of good character.]

    (5) What is already forgiven remains forgiven and cannot subsequently be re-forgiven without first being unforgiven. [By the very nature of forgiveness, as I explained in #54.]

    (6) At every moment after the adoption and before Joey wrongs Henry at the training session, Joey is already forgiven for wronging Henry at the training session. [from (3), (4) and (5)]

    (7) At the very moment Joey wrongs Henry at the training session, Joey is already forgiven for wronging Henry at the training session. [from (3), (4), and (5)]

    (8) At every moment after Joey wrongs Henry at the training session, Joey is already forgiven for wronging Henry at the training session. [from (3), (4), and (5)]

    (9) At every moment after the Henry adopts Joey, Joey is already forgiven for wronging Henry at the training session. [from (6), (7), and (8)]

    Therefore,

    (10) At no moment subsequent to Henry’s adoption of Joey can Henry can forgive Joey for Joey’s wronging Henry at the training session. [from (4), (5) and (9)]

    If you want to refute this argument, then you need to show which premise is false, and/or why the conclusion does not follow from the premises.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  71. Thank you, Herbert! Your comments here, over the months, have been helpful to me in my journey! God bless you!

  72. Joey,

    I see a few problems in your post #69.

    (1) Peter wasn’t pre-forgiven in that example, he still had to sin before being in effect mortal sin, and he had to subsequently repent before full reconciliation. There was nothing a-temporal going on here, God merely knew what was to take place.

    (2) You are conflating ‘pre-forgiven’ with an ‘a-temporal forgiven’. At the moment of justification (if not earlier, such as the Cross), all sin the elect individual would ever commit is legally forgiven. No sin he commits is contingent on a repentance for forgiveness. This is not synonymous with God’s a-temporal ‘perspective’ (which we cannot fully grasp, though, ironically, many Reformed don’t seem to consider this when discussing predestination/free-will – which is another topic), in which God sees all time ‘now’, though without that affecting the fact there remains chronological/logical order that still runs creation.
    This can be seen more clearly when comparing the Reformed notion of “Perseverance” with the Catholic notion. From God’s view, He knows and sees the elect as having persevered. Yet from the view of creation, Reformed and Catholics say perseverance happens two different ways. The Reformed say the elect never can fall, thus he has de-facto “persevered” from the moment of conversion (if not earlier). The Catholic view says the elect can fall, but if they do, they will repent and be reconciled before death, and thus whenever death comes they will be found in a relationship with God. Both persevered, and God sees this reality, though perseverance took place two different ways.

    (3) Your comments don’t mesh with the language of scripture, which only speaks of ‘past sins’ being forgiven, never ‘future’. Future sins being forgiven is a philosophical construct built from other doctrines. Further, your line of argumentation effectively puts you in the “Eternal Justification/Forgiveness” camp, where the ‘sinner’ is in fact born justified/forgiven before he even exercises faith.

  73. While thinking about this topic of the weekend, something occurred to me that seems to make the argument in the post even stronger. All Protestants (so far as I know) maintain that

    (1) at the moment of ‘x’ (fill that in with ‘faith’, ‘baptism’ or whatever), all my sins (past, present, and future) were forgiven.

    Bryan’s original post is attempting to argue that those Reformed persons who hold to (1), cannot consistently and simultaneously hold to the view that

    (2) when a Christian prays the Lord’s prayer (sincerely), at least one of his sins is forgiven.

    So the dilemma Bryan proposes is that either (i) one may continue to hold (1) and (2) only on pain of irrationality [because they are mutually incompatible] or (ii) one must give up (1) or (2). The RC denies (1) and affirms (2).

    In the combox, some have tried to escape the dilemma by arguing that the Lord’s Prayer is merely a model for prayer, it’s not meant to be prayed. So these people hold to what I’ll call the ‘model view’ of the Lord’s Prayer. And by holding that view they technically escape the dilemma because they can deny (2). [Bryan, and others, have tried to show that one cannot plausibly deny (2) with quotes from the Church Fathers.) So let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the one holding to the ‘model-view’ escapes the dilemma as worded.

    But, it seems to me, this ‘model-view’ of the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t escape the thrust of (2) at all. If the model-view is correct (as we’re assuming), then the Lord’s Prayer sets out a model for prayer. That model contains several sub-elements, one of which is that one should ask for the forgiveness of one’s sins. Therefore, even if one doesn’t pray the Lord’s Prayer word-for-word, one should follow the ‘model’ and ask for forgiveness of one’s sins. If all this is true, the then the original dilemma still stands in its essence.

    So for the Protestant holding the ‘model view’, (2) is easily revised to be

    (2*) when a Christian prays [according to the model of] the Lord’s Prayer at least one of our sins is forgiven.

    So for the Protestants holding to the ‘word-for-word’ view, (1) and (2) create what appears to be an insuperable problem. And for the Protestants holding to (1) and (2*), the original dilemma still creates what appears to be an insuperable problem. In short, one can’t escape the thrust of the dilemma by adopting the ‘model-view’ for two reasons. First, the ‘model view’ probably isn’t true (see the quotes from the Fathers). Second, even if the view is true, the original dilemma stands. Thus, the ‘model view’ adherent must either (i) one may continue to hold (1) and (2*) only on pain of irrationality [because they are mutually incompatible] or (ii) one must give up (1) or (2*).
    The RC affirms (2) and denies (1) and (2*).

  74. Chris,
    This is Joe from CHBC. A friend alerted me to your post on here. I’d love to catch up with you. Shoot me an email at joemanzari [at] gmail.com.
    – Joe

  75. Hey, Joe! I’ve been meaning to get in touch with you for some time, brother! :-) I’ll send you an e-mail!

  76. Without having read the article, let me add this question:

    How does one square C2C’s position (namely, that God hasn’t forgiven us for our future sins) with Hebrews 10:14 (“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Italics mine))?

    Thanks!

    Brad

  77. Brad,

    Concerning Hebrews 10: 15-18, Haydock writes:

    Now where there is remission of these, there is no more an oblation for sin. That is, there is no need of any other oblation to redeem us from sin, after the price of our redemption from sin is paid. There is no need of any other different oblation; all that is wanting, is the application of the merits and satisfactions of Christ. No need of those sacrifices, which were ordered in the law of Moses. To convince them of this, is the main design of St. Paul in this place. The pretended reformers, from several expressions of St. Paul in this chapter, think they have clear proofs that no sacrifice at all ought to be offered after Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross; and that so many sacrifices and oblations of masses, are both needless and against the doctrine of the apostle, who says, that Christ by one oblation hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (ver. 14.) And again, that where there is a remission of sins, now there is no more an oblation for sin. This objection, which is obvious enough, was not first invented by the Calvinists against them they nickname Papists: the same is found in the ancient Fathers; and by their answers, and what they have witnessed concerning the daily sacrifice of the mass, they may find their doctrine of a religion without a continued sacrifice evidently against the doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church from the first ages[centuries] of the Christian religion, till they came to be reformers, not of manners, but of the Catholic belief.

    Hear St. Chrysostom (Hom. xvii.) in his commentary on this very chapter: “What then, saith he, do not we offer up (or make an oblation) every day? We offer up indeed, but with a remembrance of his death. And this oblation is one, and not many. How is it one, and not many? …because, as he that is offered many times, and in many places, is the same body, not many and different bodies, so is it one sacrifice. He (Christ) is our high priest, who offered this sacrifice, by which we are cleansed: we now offer up the same….He said: Do this in remembrance of me. We do not offer a different sacrifice, but the very same, as then our high priest.” St. Chrysostom here says, and repeats it over and over again, that we offer up a sacrifice. 2. That we offer it up every day. 3. That the sacrifice which we daily offer is one and the same oblation, one and the same sacrifice, which our high priest, Christ, offered. 4. That in offering this sacrifice, which in all places, and at all times, is the same body of Christ, and the same sacrifice, we do, and offer it, as he commanded us at his last supper, with a remembrance of him. Is this the practice, and is this the doctrine of our dear countrymen, the English Protestants? But at least it is the constant doctrine, as well as practice, of the whole Catholic Church.

    The council of Trent, as we have already cited the words, (chap. vii.) teacheth the very same as St. Chrysostom who never says, as some one of late hath pretended, that what we offer is a remembrance only. As the sacrament of the Eucharist, according to the words of Christ in the gospel, is to be taken with a remembrance of him, and yet is not a remembrance only, but is his body and blood, so the sacrifice is to be performed with a remembrance of his benefits and sufferings, by his priests and ministers, but at the same time is a true and propitiatory sacrifice, the priests daily sacrifice, and offer up the same sacrifice, the manner only being different. The sacrifice and mass offered by Peter, is not different in the notion of a sacrifice or oblation from that of Paul, though the priests and their particular actions be different: the same sacrifice was offered by the apostles, and in all Christian ages; and the same sacrifice, according to the prophecy of Malachias, (chap. i. ver. 11.) shall be offered in all nations to the end of the world. This doctrine and practice is not only witnessed by St. Chrysostom but generally by the ancient Fathers and interpreters, as we have taken notice in short in the annotations on St. Matthew. See St. Ignatius, in his epistle to the people of Smyrna; St. Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Tryphon; St. Irenæus, lib. 4. chap. xxxii. and xxxiv.; Tertullian, lib. de Velandis Virg.; Eusebius lib. 1. de demonst. Evang. chap. ult.[last]; St. Jerome, ep. ad Evangelu,; St. Ambrose, in Psalm xxxviii. and on 1 chap. of St. Luke; St. Augustine, lib. 16. de civ. Dei. chap. xxii. lib. cont. Advers. legis chap. 22. and lib. ix. Confess. chap. xii.; St. Chrysostom, hom. lx. ad Pop. Antiochenum. et hom. lxxii. in Matt.; The first general council of Nice[Nicaea].

    But from this one oblation on the cross and remission of sins, obtained by our Saviour Christ, will our adversaries pretend insisting on the bare letter, that Christ has done all for us, and that we need do nothing, unless perhaps endeavour to catch hold of the justifying cloak of Christ’s justice by faith only? At this rate the love of God and of our neighbour, a life of self-denials, such as Christ preached to every one in the gospel, the practices of prayer, fastings, almsdeeds, and all good works, the sacraments instituted by our Saviour Christ may be all safely laid aside; and we may conclude from hence, that all men’s sins are remitted before they are committed. Into what extravagances do men run, when their private spirit pretends to follow the letter of the Holy Scriptures, and when they make their private judgment the supreme guide in matter of divine faith? It is very true, that Christ hath paid the ransom of all our sins, and his satisfactions are infinite; but to partake of the benefit of this general redemption, the merits and satisfaction of Christ are to be applied to our souls, and this by the order of Providence is to be done not only by faith but by other virtues, by good works, by the sacraments, and by repeating the oblation and the same sacrifice, the manner only being different, according to the doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church form the apostle’s time.

    In short, in the first part of 10:14 the author of Hebrews is talking about redemption, not the application of redemption. The “being sanctified” part of the verse is the application of Christ’s redemptive work.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  78. Dear Christopher:
    I am late to the party here, found the news on Tim Troutman’s blog.
    Congrats and welcome Home!
    6 years ago, after 31 years as an evangelical protestant(not reformed) I knelt down and prayed an act of contrition and then experienced a life-changing grace through absolution that continues to change me and draw me closer to Him through the riches of his grace in the Catholic Church.
    You have just started a journey that keeps getting richer and deeper and, yes harder, as you face loss, persecution and trials. But his grace is sufficient for you and through the Church the channels of grace are wide opened and never ending.
    God bless you

    Russ Rentler, M.D.
    http://www.crossedthetiber.com

  79. Thank you Bryan. (Note: My caps are meant for italics, not for combative attitude :))

    By your closing paragraph you seem to agree with Haydock where he states right near the beginning: “all that is wanting, is the application of the merits and satisfactions of Christ.”

    Yet, this seems to completely ignore the EFFECT of Christ’s sacrifice in this text – namely, that it has “perfected forever” his followers. It seems nonsensical to say that he has “perfected forever” his followers, yet that Christ’s true followers will have sins not forgiven until pardon is asked.

    Also, I don’t know of anywhere else in the NT, besides the Lord’s Prayer, where we are commanded to ask forgiveness. (1 Jn 1:9 may come into play, but I’ve seen that dismissed as directed to the non-Christian opponents whom John is combating in his letter.) If our forgiveness truly rested on our asking for it over and over, surely we would see it made obvious somewhere else, right? (Although I’m not a proponent of the it’s-really-important-only-if-it’s-said-a-bunch-in-the-Bible argument. So maybe you can dismiss that question.)

    Thanks for any countering insight.

    Brad

  80. Brad,

    When you hear “by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” you hear it this way: “by one offering, those who are being sanctified were permanently perfected.” But the context shows that this passage is about the objective priestly work of Christ. Every other priest, writes the author, has to repeat what he does, over and over. Christ does not have to repeat His sacrifice. He priestly work is completed in the one sacrifice of Himself. So when you read the “for all time” you should understand it this way: by this one sacrifice Christ has once and for all made complete atonement for those who are being sanctified. That is the sense in which He has perfected us, and that is the sense in which this perfection is “for all time.” The verse is not teaching that everyone for whom Christ died is already perfected with respect to the application of Christ’s work, because it is not referring to the application of redemption but to the procurement of redemption. The ordinary means by which the effect of Christ’s sacrifice comes to us is through the sacraments He has established; this is how His redemptive work is applied to us.

    The universal testimony of the Church Fathers is that we are to pray the Lord’s prayer, to ask daily for the forgiveness of our sins. And only the Pelagians thought that the true Christian was sinless. St. Augustine makes this point over and over in his works against the Pelagians. The Church Fathers frequently refer to 1 John 1:8 as applying to all Christians. If you haven’t read the post, I recommend that you do so, because it may answer some of the questions you are raising here. See also my comments #14 and #18.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  81. Thanks for your response Bryan. And I may take you up on your suggestions in the closing paragraph.

    Grace.

    Brad

  82. Bryan – (Note again, caps are for italics)

    You wrote: “But the context shows that this passage is about the objective priestly work of Christ.”

    I definitely agree that this passage is about Christ objective work. However, I don’t think the context shows that this passage is SOLELY about Christ’s objective priestly work. It seems to be clearly also about it’s APPLIED results to the believer, which is where I disagree with your statement that,

    “The verse is not teaching that everyone for whom Christ died is already perfected with respect to the application of Christ’s work, because it is not referring to the application of redemption but to the procurement of redemption.” .

    We see that the context indeed deals with the APPLICATION of Christ’s work to the believer in the following verses:

    vv1-4: “1For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, MAKE PERFECT THOSE who draw near. 2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the WORSHIPERS, having once BEEN CLEANSED, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to TAKE AWAY SINS.”

    v10: “10And by that will WE HAVE BEEN SANCTIFIED through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

    v.11: “11And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never TAKE AWAY SINS.”

    And again, v14: “14For by a single offering he has PERFECTED FOR ALL TIME THOSE who are being sanctified.”

    Again, the context seems to be speaking about the application of Christ’s work, not just about the objective reality of it.

    Thanks!

    Brad

  83. Brad, (re: #82)

    I didn’t say that this chapter is only about the procurement of redemption, and not about its application. The focus in this chapter is on the procurement. Step back to the broader context. In chapters three and four the author explains that Jesus is our high priest in the New Covenant. Because He is our high priest in heaven, we may draw near with confidence to receive grace to help in the time of need. (Heb 4:16) The receiving of grace is the application of Christ’s priesthood to us. To all those who obey Him, He becomes the source of eternal salvation. (Heb 5:9) Then, at that point, the author says that he wants to explain more about Christ’s high priesthood, but the persons to whom he is writing are still immature. He shouldn’t need to lay again the foundation about the elementary teaching about Christ, namely, repentance, faith, washings (i.e. Baptism), the laying on of hands (i.e. Confirmation), and tasting the heavenly gift (i.e. Eucharist). Those are the ways in which Christ’s work are applied to the believer.

    In continuing to explain Christ’s high priesthood, in Heb 7:23-25 we are told that because Christ holds His priesthood permanently [lit. into the age], He is forever [lit. to the perfection/completion/entirety] able to save those drawing near to God through Him, because He is always living to make intercession for them. Christ, in heaven, now has “obtained a more excellent ministry.” (Heb 8:6) That ministry in the New Covenant is His intercession for us, through His once-and-for-all perfect sacrifice. He entered into the more perfect tabernacle (Heb 9:11), through His own blood. (Heb 9:12) There is a clear relation between Heb 10:14,18 on the one hand, and Heb 6:6 and 7:22-25 on the other hand. In Hebrews 10:14, when the writer refers to the “one offering” he is referring primarily to the procurement of redemption. In the second half of the verse, the “being sanctified” refers to the on-going application of that redemption to the believer. Objectively, Christ takes away sins once and for all by His once-and-for-all sacrifice. But, that objective work has to be applied to the individual person, or it does not benefit them. The one-time nature of Christ’s sacrifice is reflected in the one-time nature of the application of it (to us), in baptism, as I explained in comment #67 of the Baptismal Regeneration thread. Christians are to remain in the grace that they receive in their baptism. This is what is meant by keeping unstained the white robes we receive at our baptism. Baptism in this way is the application Christ’s sacrifice, by which the baptized are “the perfected forever [lit. into the continuity, i.e perpetually].” Through our baptism into Christ’s one sacrifice, we are in this way once-and-for-all perfected with respect to being translated from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light, having put off the old man and putting on the new man, having received the Spirit and walking thereon in the newness of the Spirit. And yet through the means of grace we continue to grow in the life of Christ and partaking of the grace He merited through His sacrifice; hence the continuous, progressive nature of “being sanctified.” (Heb 10:14)

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  84. PBI: Brad, the instructions for adding actual italics and other formatting are here, in case you’re interested. :)

  85. Thanks Bryan.

    You wrote:

    “Through our baptism into Christ’s one sacrifice, we are in this way once-and-for-all perfected with respect to being translated from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light, having put off the old man and putting on the new man, having received the Spirit and walking thereon in the newness of the Spirit. And yet through the means of grace we continue to grow in the life of Christ and partaking of the grace He merited through His sacrifice; hence the continuous, progressive nature of “being sanctified.” (Heb 10:14)”

    But Heb 10:14 is not addressing (at least not directly) the concept of being transferred to the Kingdom of light, or the old man/new man, or the reception of the Spirit as they are applied to the believer. The immediate context addresses the forgiveness of sins and it’s application to the believer. As you parse v.14 you focus on Christ’s perfect sacrifice and the believer’s sanctification, but you seem to tend to fail to address that it is the BELIEVER (the one who is being sanctified) who is perfected. The believer is the direct object of “perfected,” not Christ’s sacrifice (although it is his PERFECT sacrifice that is the cause of the effect of the believer’s being made perfect).

    Thanks much.

    Brad

  86. Law wife -

    Ah, bless you!!

    Brad

  87. Brad,

    You wrote:

    But Heb 10:14 is not addressing (at least not directly) the concept of being transferred to the Kingdom of light, or the old man/new man, or the reception of the Spirit as they are applied to the believer. The immediate context addresses the forgiveness of sins and it’s application to the believer. As you parse v.14 you focus on Christ’s perfect sacrifice and the believer’s sanctification, but you seem to tend to fail to address that it is the BELIEVER (the one who is being sanctified) who is perfected. The believer is the direct object of “perfected,” not Christ’s sacrifice (although it is his PERFECT sacrifice that is the cause of the effect of the believer’s being made perfect).

    I don’t think we’re not in agreement (at least I don’t see where you are disagreeing with me). That forgiveness of all past sins, that already of the believer’s perfection, just is the translation from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light; that takes places through baptism, by which we are instantly made sharers in the once-and-for-all death and resurrection of Christ. See the thread titled “The Church Fathers on Baptismal Regeneration.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  88. Brad,

    How does your reading not require the author to be saying that we are perfect now? Neither Protestants nor Catholics believe that we have already been made perfect. Protestants believe that we are accounted perfect but are not actually perfect. The strong grammatical argument you keep pushing back on Bryan seems to prove more than you would actually want it to.

  89. David -

    Thanks for the question.

    I don’t agree that my “accounted perfect” argument has intertwined with it being “actually perfect.” Sorry if it came off that way. In the immediate context of Hebrews 10, I only see being “perfected forever” as regarding “accounted perfect” as in being forgiven perfectly (ie – past, present, and future) of our sins.

    Best,

    Brad

  90. Brad, (re: #89)

    One problem with claiming that “he has perfected” [τετελείωκεν] in Heb 10:14 means that believers’ future sins are all already forgiven is that in Heb 7:25 the author had already written, “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” If their sins had already been forgiven at the cross, then there would be no more reason to continue to make intercession for them. But the fact that He continues to make intercession for us indicates that at the moment of justification, it is not the case that all our future sins have already been forgiven. And this implies that we should not assume that τετελείωκεν in Heb 10:14 means that believers’ future sins are all already forgiven.

    Another good reason to believe that τετελείωκεν in Heb 10:14 does not mean that believers’ future sins are all already forgiven is that the author says in 10:29, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified.” Unless you think that a person can be sanctified without being justified, then the persons being referred to here in 10:29 are justified. And yet they are told that if they they “go on sinning willfully” (Heb 10:26), there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” (Heb 10:26-27) Yet, if all their future sins had already been forgiven, then there could not possibly be any reason to expect judgment and the fury of fire for those sins. In other words, Heb 10:29 makes no sense if τετελείωκεν in Heb 10:14 means that at the moment of justification, all a person’s future sins are already forgiven.

    Similarly, the author goes on to say, “But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Heb 10:38) A righteous person who is living by faith, is, necessarily, someone who has been justified. But if God has already forgiven all this righteous person’s future sins, then God has already forgiven him for shrinking back. But if God has already forgiven him for shrinking back, then God cannot cease to take pleasure in him for shrinking back. So, if τετελείωκεν in Heb 10:14 means that at the moment of justification, all a person’s future sins are already forgiven, then Heb 10:38 makes no sense. Likewise in Heb 12:25, the author writes, “For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.” Here too, if τετελείωκεν in Heb 10:14 means that at the moment of justification, all a person’s future sins are already forgiven, then there is no possibility of needing to escape from divine wrath and punishment. So here too, treating the τετελείωκεν in Heb 10:14 as if it means that at the moment of justification, all a person’s future sins are already forgiven, turns Heb 12:25 into misleading fear-mongering. “Oh Paul [assuming Pauline authorship], come on, we see through your deceptive warnings; they don’t fool us, because you already told us in Heb 10:14 that our future sins are all already forgiven. So, just lay off all these silly warnings of divine fury and fire and wrath and not escaping. Go take a logic course, and get a coherent theology, for goodness’ sake.”

    A much more coherent explanation of all this data, is one that comports with what St. John says in his first epistle: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9) St. John is writing to and about believers. No Christian avoids all [venial] sin, at least not in this present life. This is why we still need to “confess our sins” so that He will “forgive us our sins.” If all our future sins were already forgiven, then after coming to faith there would be no need to continue to confess our sins and ask Christ to forgive us our sins. But the Church Fathers universally advocated the daily praying of the Lord’s Prayer, and hence that all Christians daily petition Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. This explanation also makes sense of all the warning passages in Hebrews, genuine warnings even to those who are presently justified. To assume that τετελείωκεν in Heb 10:14 must include the forgiveness of future sins, and use that assumption not only to assume that 1 John 1:8-9 must be talking about non-Christians, but also to undermine all the warning passages in Hebrews and to conclude that the whole entire early Church must have been misled or deceived in believing that we must daily confess our sins and ask for their forgiveness, would, in my opinion, be presumptuous and unjustified.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  91. Bryan -

    I have yet to give this last post of yours a complete reading. If I don’t end up replying, you can assume I either bought your points or at least that it was good food for thought and further study in order to figure out my beliefs regarding this topic.

    Thanks!

    Brad

  92. As a Christian in the reformed tradition, I thought I should say a few words about your article on reformed imputation and the Lord’s prayer

    Firstly the forgiveness of sin in justification is the free, permanent and complete acquittal from the guilt and ultimate penalty of sin [past present and future] and belongs to all who are in Christ. [John 5:24 Rom 8:1 Eph 1:7] . This is not the same as the forgiveness of sin we are commanded to pray for in the Lord’s prayer. It is clear that when Jesus speaks about forgiveness in the Lord’s prayer he does not mean forgiveness in that sense because in like manner we are to extend this forgiveness to others that wrong us. I don’t know about you but when I forgive others it is not based on a requirement for satisfaction or expiation. To emphasize the point, the Lord reminds us that His forgiveness will be withheld from us when we fail to forgive others.

    The life of the believer [one who is justified] is one in which remaining pollution is purified within us as we grow in Christ likeness. – This is called sanctification or daily putting to death the old nature by applying the righteousness and merits of Christ daily to our lives. This is demonstrated by the Savior’s work as a high priest in the heavenly sanctuary. John writes, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1). If a believer commits a sin, he still remains a child of God. However, the Holy Spirit is grieved by sin (Eph. 4:30) and a believer’s fellowship with the Father is disrupted. Thus, we need to acknowledge our sin and appeal to God through our Advocate—Jesus Christ

    Regardless of whether you hold to a piece meal justification and propitiation for sin as taught by the r.c. church or a completed justification and once for all sacrifice, as taught by reformed churches, it is clear from this and the rest of scripture that those who are truly justified, are adopted as sons into the kingdom of God and household of faith and are commanded to make the confession of sin their constant duty. The Lords prayer emphasizes our dependency on the Lord as created beings. We are commanded to acknowledge that all our physical and spiritual blessings come from Him and just as bread is necessary to our physical body , so is the blessedness that comes from forgiveness necessary for our spiritual well being. Maybe thus is what Berkhof was alluding to in you article however our Father knows what is best for His people and regardless, the command of Jesus alone should put an end to any controversy.

    Maybe the difficulty you have in understanding why reformed folk pray for forgiveness has to do with a failure to understand the difference between God’s wrath and eternal damnation upon the unjustified vs. His divine displeasure and chastening on the justified when they sin.

    Nigel Wilson
    Mississauga,
    Canada

  93. Nigel,

    For clarification, would you say that we are asking for the forgiveness of sins in the Lords prayer or not? You make some good points about the Lords prayer pointing to our dependance on God, quite true. But Christ does ask us to ask for forgiveness.
    When I was Reformed I took this to mean that 1. I had sinned.(which every time I checked I had) and 2. I needed forgiveness that was not given until I asked (other than God’s grace for forgotten sins)

    Are we asking for forgiveness for our sins or not?

    Peace,

    David Meyer

  94. Nigel, (re: #92),

    Thanks for your comments, and welcome to Called To Communion. If the forgiveness of sins in justification includes the forgiveness all past, present and future sins, then at any subsequent time, what remains to be forgiven? That is, if justification is sufficient to forgive all our sins (past, present and future), then what could possibly remain to be forgiven?

    Of course I agree that when I forgive those who sin against me, I’m not acquitting them from the ultimate penalty of sin. But of what sin exactly, does the Father forgive us, when we forgive those who trespass against us, if at some prior moment of justification all our sins (past, present and future) were forgiven? It seems in that case that there is no unforgiven sin left, for which to ask forgiveness from the Father.

    Is it a sin to grieve the Holy Spirit? If so, then are all future sins of grieving the Holy Spirit forgiven at the moment of justification, or not? If they are, then why subsequently ask for their forgiveness? But if they are not, then why are those sins not forgiven at justification, while all other (past, present and future) sins are?

    The “command of Jesus” doesn’t put an end to the controversy because we do not believe Jesus to be a mere dictator, but also the Truth. So when He commands that we should ask the Father daily for the forgiveness of our sins (as we ask for our daily bread), this implies that we still have daily need of forgiveness, and thus implies that our future sins were not all forgiven at the moment of justification. If Jesus had commanded us to pray, “And patch up the disrupted fellowship between You and us, as we patch up our fellowship with others,” we would have good reason to believe that the Lord’s Prayer does not teach that we are supposed to be asking daily for the Father’s forgiveness of our sins against Him. Or if Jesus had commanded us to pray, “And put aside your divine displeasure toward us your displeasing sons, as we put aside our displeasure toward our displeasing friends,” we would have good reason to believe that this request is about something other than asking for the forgiveness of our sins. But, that’s not what Jesus commanded. He commanded us to ask the Father daily for forgiveness of our trespasses against Him.

    If God is already as pleased with you as He can possibly be, because by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness when the Father sees you He does not see your own filthy rags but instead sees Christ’s perfect righteousness, then there is no reason to think that God is “displeased” with you. The very notion is incompatible with the reason for and implications of once-and-for-all double imputation. If the Father sees that you’ve been sinful, and has displeasure over your sinfulness, by peeking behind the covering of the imputed righteousness of Christ, then you are not only under “divine displeasure;” you are still under divine wrath. Does the omniscient God only partially peek behind Christ’s imputed righteousness? Surely not. Either the imputation covers or it doesn’t. If it covers, then there is no reason for the Father to be displeased with you, because the Son never did anything displeasing to the Father, and by faith alone you irrevocably have the Son’s perfect righteousness. And therefore, if you’re Reformed there is no reason for you to ask the Father daily for the forgiveness of your sins, not only because those sins were already covered by the imputed righteousness of Christ when you first believed, but because in that same moment you acquired the perfect righteousness of Christ, in whom the Fathers is well-pleased, and not in any way displeased.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  95. Yes our sins are forgiven, but not with respect to our justification. That is a completed matter for believers. What accompanies Justification is adoption where we are placed into the family and care of God and because of our union with Christ we are forgiven daily. This forgiveness and the grace attached to it is with respect to sanctification and with NOT with respect to our status or position before God. Our sanctification is the dying and putting to death of remaining filth, sin and pollution.

    This is shown beautifully in John 13 where Jesus says to Peter, you took one bath you dont need to take another, all you need is your feet cleaned. As believers we are bathed in the rigteouness of Christ and what He wants to do is to clean off our remaining sin and pollution from dailiy living

    So to summarise then, the forgiveness in justification is judicial and is a completed event for believers, the forgiveness in the Lord’s prayer is Fatherly and relational because of remaining sin in us and our living in the world.

    I think a larger issue for those in the roman church is why, [since you believe in a progressive justification,] do you pray “Our Father…”

  96. Nigel, (re: #95)

    You have re-stated your position, but it seems to me that you are not answering the questions I asked you about it. If all our sins are already forgiven at the moment of justification, then there is nothing left to forgive. So if you say, “Well, there are still sins left to be forgiven with respect to sanctification,” I’m going to ask you what does that even mean. That is, what does it even mean for sins to be forgiven with respect to justification, but not yet forgiven with respect to sanctification? Are there fundamentally two kinds of sins (i.e. the justification sins that are all forgiven at the moment of faith, and the sanctification sins which are forgiven progressively over the course of one’s earthly life), or are there two modes of forgiveness in God (i.e. the justification mode of forgiveness, and the sanctification mode of forgiveness)? If the latter, then what, exactly, is the difference between these two modes of forgiveness, and where are you getting this from in Scripture? If you are united to Christ at the moment of faith, then why isn’t Christ’s death sufficient to effect the present [sanctification-mode] forgiveness of all your sins (past, present and future), while His death is sufficient to effect the present [justification-mode] forgiveness of all your sins (past, present and future), such that you have to add some of your own works to Christ’s sacrifice to acquire this [sanctification-mode] forgiveness.

    It seems very odd that Christ’s death would, at the moment of faith, be sufficient to effect the immediate [justification-mode] forgiveness of all your sins (past, present and future), but not sufficient to effect the immediate [sanctification-mode] forgiveness of all your sins (past, present, and future). In addition, how much work do you have to do, to get God to [sanctification-mode] forgive you, since He hasn’t already [sanctification-mode] forgiven you for all your present and future sins? How do you ever know you have done enough to acquire that sanctification-mode forgiveness for your past and present sins? If faith alone isn’t sufficient to get God to [sanctification-mode] forgive you, then what and how many human works must you do, to get Him to [sanctification-mode] forgive you? What if you forget to do these works? Do those sins remain [sanctification-mode] unforgiven? How is it possible for a sin to be forgiven by God [justification-mode], and yet that same sin to be unforgiven by God [sanctification-mode]? Does God see us in two different ways, one as covered by Christ’s righteousness, and one as deprived of Christ’s righteousness, and not let His left hand know what His right hand is doing? Why isn’t the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness sufficient to make you perfectly righteous in the Father’s sight? Does it even make sense to put the following words into God’s mouth: “I forgave you for that sin already, in my justification-mode of forgiveness, but you still need to beg for forgiveness for that sin, because in my sanctification-mode of forgiveness, I have not yet forgiven you.” Would any decent human father say that to his children? “I forgave you already, for what you did wrong, but you still need to beg forgiveness from me, because in another mode, I haven’t yet forgiven you.” That seems to make God schizophrenic. This conception of God’s forgiveness of our sins seems so incredible that the Catholic explanation makes more sense.

    If you wish to know why Catholics pray the “Our Father … ” see comments #14 and #18.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  97. Simeon (949–1022) preached against nominal Christianity, which was expressed by a merely outward faith and public confession of sins.
    Bryan
    Consider:
    Simeon ( 949–1022) argued that if our Christian faith is genuine, we will be engaged not only in the periodic public confession of our sins, but in the daily private confession of our sins as well.
    From his Discourses, we read,
    “Let us endeavor to attain to purity of heart, which comes from paying heed to our ways and from constant confession of secret thoughts of the soul. For if we, moved by a penitent heart, constantly and daily confess these, it produces in us repentance for what we have done or even thought.”

  98. Well, I’m certainly not a Dispensationalist but there is some value in seeing that the pauline writings, steeped in the post-Easter experience of reconciliation, can actually look back on the finished work of Christ even when adressing forgiveness: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph 4:32)

    Within the concept of a duplex iustitia one could say that the Lord’s prayer is not concerned with the eschatological (yet in space-time appearing!) legal declaration of righteousness but with an actual righteousness (iustitia inhaerens), i.e. the Christian’s conduct of life: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mat 6:14) Paul in Romans states a similar thing: “For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” (Rom 2:1b) Yet, a chapter later he can say that there is propitiation by his [Jesus'] blood, received by faith (cf. Rom 3:24b). What about a Christian who is unforgiving and/or judgemental (as, at least in some respect, most of us are), yet received propitiation by faith? Does he become un-justified, because he is unforgiving and/or judgemental?

    Of course it’s good Catholic teaching that Christ died for our sins. And rightly so. Yet the Lord’s prayer makes no mention of Christ’s propitiating death and resurrection at all. Does that mean that we can be saved solely by forgiving one another apart from Christ’s work of redemption? Certainly not.

    To use the Lord’s prayer in such a way against the reformed doctrine of justification is to use it against any view of justification that takes into consideration the work of Christ on the cross, including the Catholic one which states that “God, the Father of mercies, THROUGH the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself (…).” Or did Christ only die for our mortal sins so that our venial sins need to be forgiven on another ground?

  99. @Bryan

    You wrote:

    Would any decent human father say that to his children? “I forgave you already, for what you did wrong, but you still need to beg forgiveness from me, because in another mode, I haven’t yet forgiven you.”

    Yes! A decent father would tell his children when they had done wrong. He even can be angry with them. He has to teach them to apologize and to seek forgiveness. Yet, at the same time a good father would always let his children feel that his fatherly love, i.e. his fatherhood to them, is not ultimately dependend on their apology. That’s exactly the point! What kind of a monster dad would tell his children: “If you don’t apologize/seek my forgiveness I’m no longer your father. Get lost!” ???

  100. Tim (re:#99)

    God does not tell His children who do not “apologize/seek (His) forgiveness” that “I’m no longer your Father. Get lost!” (I’m quoting your words, which seem to describe your thinking of what the Catholic Church teaches about God).

    God is still the Father of those errant, unrepentant children, and He still loves them. He has not made them orphans. However, healthy, thriving relationship, between human beings, *and* between humans and God, cannot involve children continually spitting in the father’s (or Father’s!) face, and telling him (or Him!), again, *unrepentantly*, “Get lost! I don’t want to listen to You and respect Your authority over me!”

    God loves these errant, even unrepentant, children– but to the extent that they *are* unrepentant, they are acting as if there is nothing wrong in their relationships with Him. This is a serious problem that cannot be dealt with simply by invoking the Protestant doctrine of imputed righteousness. (And there are numerous Biblical passages contradicting the Calvinist idea that “true Christians” can never lose their salvation. See numerous articles under the respective headings of “Salvation” and “Sacred Scripture” in the index here at CTC.) )

    God teaches that if we, through serious, unrepentant sinning, break off *our* loving relationship with Him (and again, He still loves us; that is not the problem), there is a way back to *our* loving relationship with Him, through returning to Christ, yet not only by praying to Him privately for forgiveness (which we can and should do, as believers!), but also through seeking the grace and reconciliation which He provides through the Church that Christ Himself founded.

    That Church is a visible Church, with visible, ordained ministers, who have been given authority, *by Christ Himself*, to forgive sins and grant absolution, not via themselves(!), but *through Christ’s authority*. See John 20:19-23 about the practice of confession and reconcilation through apostolic, Christ-given authority in His Church.

  101. bryan,

    i just came across this post..maybe you could/should make it clear lutherans aren’t to be assumed to be lumped together with the other “reformed” and “protestants” in this instance? as a personal favor to me? a complete stranger?

    of course, i’m making no claim of any intentional slight or “lumping” by you against us lutherans in this essay..i just cringe at the possible assumptions made by people as to where lutherans would stand in this regard..

    :)

  102. @Christopher

    So, I don’t think that a real Christian would say something like “Get lost! I don’t want to listen to You and respect Your authority over me!” to the heavenly Father – neither in word nor in habitual (!) deed. As you know, the Christian attitude is quite the opposite: “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified (…).” (Lk 18:13f.)

    Whenever St. Paul paraenetically lists sins which exclude from the kingdom he almost immediately adds something like: “And such WERE some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:11) “And those who belong to Christ Jesus HAVE crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:24) That, of course, is not to say that Christians can’t fall into temptation and sin. But we should not forget that we have a Father who justifies the ungodly (cf. Rom 4:5), a mediator who died for us while we were still sinners (cf. Rom 5:8), that there is “propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” and that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 Joh 2:1b) I think we agree on that one. The question is, does every so-called mortal sin destroy our justification completely or does God, even when we occasionally sin, still reckon us to be righteous in His Son “who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29)?

    The love of the Father expresses itself in the fact that He gives us a new status in Christ, He reckons us (covenantally) righteous and then really makes us righteous. I would agree that justification is a declaration AND a process and that our conduct of life is important. Nevertheless, the power comes by faith: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20) And, methinks, we have every reason to be sure of this, that he who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (cf. Phil 1:6). “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom 8:29f.)

    At the end of the day it is Christ who said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me,1 is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:27f.)

    Pax tecum

  103. Here are some quotations that, in a way, should settle the whole matter:

    “On no condition is sin a passing phase, but we are justified daily by the unmerited forgiveness of sins and by the justification of God’s mercy.” (Luther)

    “Daily we sin, daily we are continually justified, just as a doctor is forced to heal sickness day by day until it is cured.” (Martin Luther)

    “Therefore we must have this blessedness not once only, but must hold it fast during our whole lives.” (John Calvin)

    “This sentence is not only pronounced once upon the first act of faith, but is made as frequently and as often as man exercises faith in Christ unto justification. This is not an assurance that they are justified once and for all, but it constitutes an actual and daily act of forgiveness.” (Wilhelmus Brakel)

    “Justification from eternity, at the time of Christ’s death, or upon the first act of faith, did not take place so as to exclude daily justification in reference to committed sins.” (Wilhelmus Brakel)

    “As we sin daily, so he justifies daily, and we must daily go to him for it. . . . We must every day eye the brazen serpent. Justification is an everrunning fountain, and therefore we cannot look to have all the water at once. . . . O let us sue out every day a daily pardon. . . . Let us not sleep one night without a new pardon.” (William Fenner)

    That’s why we pray: “Forgive us our sins.” Daily.

    (Quotations from PhilGons.com)

    Pax vobiscum

  104. Tim-Christian, re #102

    Tim,

    You are partly right. Coming from an evangelical background I would note that we did not always believe what Jesus was plainly saying. He would say one thing, and we would deny it, or modify it to suit our position, or completely ignore it as though it had not been said. So, pretty much but not always was our position on Jesus’ own words. You can apply that to Paul’s writings as well. Pretty much, but not always.

    Anyone who reads the Old Testament finds that the Jews are unable to live up to the just demands of the law, which eventually seems pretty much externalized when not completely ignored, if one believes the major and minor prophets. The Law appears to be rote movements or habits as opposed to a desire to know the living God or to do positive good. Even so, Paul tells us that the law is good without regard to our ability to respond to it properly.

    So the question becomes, what is needed for us to live up to the just demands of the law, or to respond properly to our Lord? How would God make it so that we could serve Him in spirit and truth? I found that to be a huge item, most of which I believe has been handled under various posts at this site, so at best from me, a very short response.

    God builds a sequence in the Old Testament. He starts with a family (Adam and Eve). He extends it to a clan (Abraham), a people (Israel), and a nation (David, including kingship). He sets up sacrifice, thank and sin offerings (altars, the Passover, and the Temple in Jerusalem).

    Finally He extends this to the whole world. The kingdom of Israel is fulfilled in the Church which is a supranational body. The sacrifice, thank and sin offerings are fulfilled in Jesus, Who is the King and the High Priest Who has His temples are all over the world. What Jesus offers is Himself, to God the Father and to us. In particular He offers us Himself in the sacraments through Which He extends His grace to us so that we might respond properly to Him and one another.

    We are imperfect, however nature is perfected by grace, and Jesus is grace par excellence. I am hungry for God, and find myself trying (with at least some success) to imitate Him in my dealings with the people I meet. When I fail, I go to confession, another of the sacraments He has given us when He told the apostles, “whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them.” Note the YOU that proceeds forgiven. Jesus is working through His Church, using His intermediaries to do His will for my benefit. That is His call to make, not mine. I have given up telling Him what He can and cannot do, since it is not my place to limit Him; rather it is my place to trust and obey Him, and I need the sacraments to do that.

    Cordially,

    dt

  105. Tim (re:#102 and #103),

    My brother in Christ, three years ago, I could have actually written your two comments, above, to which I am now replying as a Catholic “revert.” I have been a strongly Calvinistic Protestant. For years, I was convinced that that theology most correctly reflected the clear teaching of Scripture. It was a *very* shocking and painful process, based largely on a serious re-examination of Scripture, that brought me to different conclusions, about justification, salvation, and the nature of the Church. I don’t have time to go into it all at this exact moment, as I have a prior engagement to keep, but if you want to read a good many Biblical passages, and exegetical arguments, that help to explain part of why I no longer believe that the Bible teaches justification by faith alone and imputed righteousness, please read the article here at CTC, “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?” by Bryan Cross. (Bryan is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America.) http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/09/does-the-bible-teach-sola-fide/

    Lord willing, I will reply in greater detail to your comments later. I wish that I had more time to reply now, but I need to go. God bless you, brother.

  106. Jonathan (re:@101),

    I think that Bryan is on a bit of a sabbatical from CTC right now, but in the meantime, you might find this other article from the site to be interesting, “Persevering Most Assuredly: One Reason to Prefer Luther Over Calvin”: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/04/persevering-most-assuredly-one-reason-to-prefer-luther-over-calvin/

  107. Tim (re:# 102 and 103, again),

    Ok, I’m back for a bit– still not able to reply at the length that I would wish, but I do want to at least keep up with you, to some extent, and not leave you hanging! :-) Were you able to read and consider the article I mentioned above from CTC, “Does The Bible Teach Sola Fide?” I realize that this conversation is much longer than can be covered by one article, but I thought that it might be helpful for you to read another piece from CTC which examines Scripture on faith and justification.

    I am intrigued by your quotes in #103, especially the ones from Wilhelmus Brakel:

    “This sentence is not only pronounced once upon the first act of faith, but is made as frequently and as often as man exercises faith in Christ unto justification. This is not an assurance that they are justified once and for all, but it constitutes an actual and daily act of forgiveness.”

    “Justification from eternity, at the time of Christ’s death, or upon the first act of faith, did not take place so as to exclude daily justification in reference to committed sins.”

    Tim, in relation to the second quote, what is the difference, from your understanding from Scripture, between “justification from eternity, at the time of Christ’s death” and “daily justification in reference to committed sins”?

    Do you believe that “justification from eternity, at the time of Christ’s death” is permanent– that it cannot be lost by any sin that we commit? If you *do* believe that that justification from eternity is permanent, then why do we even need “daily justification”? What purpose does it serve?

  108. Bryan,

    I had a question about double imputation. In Reformed theology, it is taught that our sins were imputed off of our accounts and onto Jesus on the cross. And His righteousness (passive and active obedience) are transferred/imputed onto us. All this happens instantaneously by one’s faith. So in this article you discuss God “peeking” behind the righteousness, which you say would necessarily have to happen in order for there to be His displeasure with one’s sins that the Reformed claim occurs when they sin. However, if all of one’s sins were already transferred off of one’s account at justification, then even if God peeked behind the righteousness, all He would see is one’s original sin/sinfulness, not one’s daily actual committed mortal sins deserving of damnation, since those were already transferred away. Correct? I don’t understand how, even if God did ‘peek,’ that would mean we were doomed, because He would only be seeing one’s sinful nature, not all of ones sins. Am I missing something about why this peeking is as bad as you say it is (given the premises of all this are true)? Am I missing something about where the sins go during double imputation as taught by the Reformed?

    –Christie

  109. Christie, (re: #108)

    What you’re missing is the Reformed distinction between (a) one’s sins and the sinful condition of one’s heart, and (b) the guilt / punishment for one’s sins and the sinful condition of one’s heart. In Reformed theology the guilt for all (past, present, and future) one’s sins (if one is elect), was laid on Christ, and the punishment for all those sins was received by Christ on the cross. But that does not mean that one’s heart is clean and no longer sinful. The meaning of simul iustus et peccator is precisely that one’s forensic status because of Christ is different from the actual condition of one’s heart. One’s forensic status is perfectly righteous, while one’s heart is still sinful and wicked, and full of damnable sins.

    In Reformed theology, no one in this present life is *internally* righteous. The believer’s righteousness, in Reformed theology, is the extra nos [outside of us] obedience of Christ that has been imputed to our account. Our sanctification in this present life always still leaves us less than righteous internally.

    Michael Horton says the following:

    The Reformation way of putting it was, simul iustus et peccator – “simultaneously justified and sinful.” This was the Reformation debate more than anything else. Rome agreed that the sinner is saved by grace – but by grace transforming the unrighteous into righteous, the unholy into holy, the disobedient into the obedient. Depending on how one appropriates and makes use of this grace, one could eventually be accepted by God. Not so, said Luther and Calvin. Even on a good day, the average Christian is wicked. The believer, however, does not await a verdict in the future; he reminds himself of the verdict already declared: “not guilty.” He lives each day as though he had fully satisfied the requirements of the law. And to enjoy this promise, he does not have to meet certain criteria for growth in grace. Before he can be confident in this promise, he need not “clean up his act.” More than this, he knows he can’t clean up his act to the degree that he can make enough progress to be accepted or approved by sanctification. (Putting Amazing Back into Grace, pp. 166-167, my emphasis)

    On that same page of that book, Horton has a cartoon of a man sweating and trembling, holding a sign that says ‘Sin!’. The man is standing in the shadow of the cross, with an arrow showing that from “God’s View,” the man is hidden, because the man is standing behind the cross. Here’s the cartoon:

    In the Reformed view, that cartoon is true of every believer for every moment of his life as a believer, even in his moments of greatest sanctification.

    R.C. Sproul makes the same claim in the following video:

    In Reformed theology no one is internally righteous in this present life, because no one in his thoughts, words, and deeds meets the demands of God’s perfect holy law.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  110. EXCELLENT, BRYAN! Thank you for your post #109. Esp. the Horton quip and Sproul clip.

    I’d prefer to say that God trades the books, per 2 Corinthians 5:21, giving us the righteous record of Christ, and He taking our wretched record.

    St Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:32 that *all* our sins were forgiven us at Calvary, and hence, *that* is what is to compel us to forgive others, not the “possibility” of being forgiven, per our Lord in Matthew 6:14f.

    In His per-crucifixion/ substitution sermon on the Mount, Jesus is upping the law in order to show His hearers (and us!) that we are wretchedly sinful, in order that we might turn to Him alone in faith alone, and find our true rest: Matthew 11:28ff. After propitiation has been made, Paul tells us to be forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

    Christie @108: if all of one’s sins were already transferred off of one’s account at justification, then even if God peeked behind the righteousness, all He would see is one’s original sin/sinfulness, not one’s daily actual committed mortal sins deserving of damnation, since those were already transferred away.

    God sees Christ’s righteousness imputed to the believer, covering original sin as well as all actual sins (mortal, venial, whatever). Christ Himself bore our sins (original and real) in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed ~ I Peter 2:24).

  111. Hi Hugh,

    I’m wondering about your comment in #110:

    “In His pre-crucifixion/ substitution sermon on the Mount, Jesus is upping the law in order to show His hearers (and us!) that we are wretchedly sinful.”

    Do you mean to say that Jesus did not actually intend for us to frame our lives around the moral precepts in this sermon? But, rather, that his purpose was simply to show that such a goal is impossible?

    Have I understood you correctly?

    Thanks,
    David

  112. Dear David,

    Thank you for your post. I am honored. I just last week found & watched your June, 2010 EWTN interview with Mitch Pacwa on Protestant theology. Found it very helpful, as I am studying the conversion stories of such as yourself. Feel free to email me if our conversation here veers off topic: hughmc5 AT hotmail.com

    To your point, No, I did not “mean to say that Jesus did not actually intend for us to frame our lives around the moral precepts in this sermon?” This, however is not the primary meaning/ purpose of his sermon.

    “For us to frame our lives around the moral precepts in this sermon” (for us to obey Christ) is certainly *one* purpose of his message, and one that flows out of a relationship of complete reconciliation (b/c of complete remission of our sins) with him, not a purpose whereby we might possibly have eternal life if we but really, really try hard.

    His major (but not sole) purpose was “to show that such a goal is impossible,” that we might heartily seek and find him.

  113. Bryan–

    You said:

    “In Reformed theology the guilt for all (past, present, and future) one’s sins (if one is elect), was laid on Christ, and the punishment for all those sins was received by Christ on the cross. But that does not mean that one’s heart is clean and no longer sinful. The meaning of simul iustus et peccator is precisely that one’s forensic status because of Christ is different from the actual condition of one’s heart. One’s forensic status is perfectly righteous, while one’s heart is still sinful and wicked, and full of damnable sins.”

    I have always felt that you overstate the Reformed view at this point. Calvinists use hyperbolic language to protect the sense in which “having begun in the spirit” we do not attempt to complete our righteousness “by means of the flesh.” (Galatians 3:3-5) It is not that we have no inherent righteousness of our own. Horton states that we may even become outwardly blameless, innocent of any overt, conscious sin. What we will never become is free of the flesh, for we are clothed in it. There are inner attitudes and tendencies we will never be rid of, just as Catholics will never be free of concupiscence.

    We are, however, set free from the power of sin and death…set free from slavery to sin and made alive unto Christ and his righteousness. Your concept of being transformed from perfect righteousness unto more perfect righteousness as we progress in sanctification would find great resonance in the Reformed community. Again, Horton says (in his Systematic, p. 651), “We are confident that we are holy and that we are being made holy in Jesus Christ….”

    You don’t seem to give enough weight to the Reformed notion of the already and the not yet. We believe we are inherently righteous eschatologically, and thus right now. Along with Augustine, we believe that God is outside of time and can see our inherent righteousness as a fait accomplit. We are simul justus et peccator. But that “justus” is both forensic in (well, technically right before) regeneration, as well as inherent in glory.

  114. Christie (108),

    I found Bryan’s short article here http://principiumunitatis.blogspot.com/2008/11/on-imitations-and-gospel.html helpful at coming at this subject from a slightly different angle.

    Kim D

  115. Eirik, (re: #113)

    I have always felt that you overstate the Reformed view at this point.

    Well, the important question is not so much whether you *feel* that I have done this, but whether in fact I have done this. If you think I have overstated something, please point that out.

    Calvinists use hyperbolic language to protect the sense in which “having begun in the spirit” we do not attempt to complete our righteousness “by means of the flesh.” (Galatians 3:3-5) It is not that we have no inherent righteousness of our own.

    I made no claim about the *degree* of “inherent righteousness” in the regenerate. According to Reformed theology, neither you (or any other regenerate person presently on earth) are presently *internally* righteous. In Reformed theology God does not have two standards of righteousness; He has only one. And that standard is perfect conformity to His law. And since in Reformed theology no presently embodied regenerate person perfectly conforms to God’s law, therefore no presently embodied regenerate person is internally righteous. All such persons are presently righteous only by the extra nos imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness. I have explained this in comments 43, 46, 186, 190, 193, and 198 of the “Imputation and Paradigms” thread. The key principle, for understanding this, is the following: “there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation;” (WCF XV.4), and that even the ‘righteous’ man sins every day in thought, word, and deed. He sins in his every action, because his every action is tainted by sin, committed with less than perfect motives, and, “there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation.”

    Horton states that we may even become outwardly blameless, innocent of any overt, conscious sin. What we will never become is free of the flesh, for we are clothed in it. There are inner attitudes and tendencies we will never be rid of, just as Catholics will never be free of concupiscence.
    We are, however, set free from the power of sin and death…set free from slavery to sin and made alive unto Christ and his righteousness.

    All that is perfectly compatible with what I said.

    Your concept of being transformed from perfect righteousness unto more perfect righteousness as we progress in sanctification would find great resonance in the Reformed community.

    No, it doesn’t, because in Reformed theology there is no greater righteousness than perfect righteousness, because if one perfectly fulfills the law, there is no ‘room’ for an obedience that is even more perfect.

    Again, Horton says (in his Systematic, p. 651), “We are confident that we are holy and that we are being made holy in Jesus Christ….”

    The first ‘holy’ is referring to imputation; the second to sanctification. Horton isn’t saying that God has two standards of righteousness.

    You don’t seem to give enough weight to the Reformed notion of the already and the not yet.

    That’s a statement about me.

    We believe we are inherently righteous eschatologically, and thus right now. Along with Augustine, we believe that God is outside of time and can see our inherent righteousness as a fait accomplit. We are simul justus et peccator. But that “justus” is both forensic in (well, technically right before) regeneration, as well as inherent in glory.

    The concept of “inherently righteous eschatologically” is a contradiction in terms, because ‘inherent’ means presently existing within something as a quality or characteristic of it, and ‘eschatological’ refers to the future-but-not-the-present. Of course God is outside time, but that does not mean that we are outside time, or that He sees us as outside time. Though He, outside time, sees us in all our moments of time, He never sees us as having at a time qualities or characteristics that we do not have at that time but will have at a later time. While seeing simultaneously all our moments of existence, He sees us truly, as having at each moment of our existence, only the qualities and characteristics we actually have at that moment. Being outside time does not make Him confused, and mix up which qualities we now lack with qualities we will have in the future, and vice versa. So it is fine to say that in the Reformed paradigm God can presently see what we will be in glory, and can presently see the righteousness that will be in the elect in glory. But it is confused and contradictory to claim that God sees presently inhering within the regenerate now on earth the righteousness they will have in glory but do not presently have within them [since otherwise there would be no more room for sanctification], because such a claim makes God out to be confused. Nor did St. Augustine (or any other Church Father) ever teach anything like that.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  116. Hi Hugh,

    Thanks for the clarification. If I might ask further – you wrote, “His major (but not sole) purpose was “to show that such a goal is impossible.”

    I am wondering – do you think there is anything in the text of Matthew that suggests this? Or, are you inferring this hermeneutical principle from your reading of St. Paul?

    Thanks,
    David

  117. Hello, David,

    Comparing all of the new testament texts helps me to my position. Paul was certainly writing to established churches (and to established ministers), post-resurrection, post-Pentecost. His writings have to be seen in these lights. Plus, as he repeatedly makes clear, things are not as they were before the covenant was ratified. Again, from Ephesians 4 & 5 (where he brilliantly weaves together imperatives with indicatives):

    But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

    Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,”{IMP} for we are members of one another.{IND}

    “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.
    Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.{IMP, IMP, IMP, IMP}

    Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.{IMP} And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God{IMP}, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.{IND}

    Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.{IMP}

    And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another{IMP}, even as God in Christ forgave you.{IND}

    Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love{IMP}, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.{IND}

    But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you{IMP}, as is fitting for saints{IND}; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting{IMP}, which are not fitting{IND}, but rather giving of thanks.{IMP}

    For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.{IND} Therefore do not be partakers with them.{IMP}

    For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.{IND} Walk as children of light{IMP} (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth){IND}, finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.{IMP} And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.{IMP}

    For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.{IND} But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.{IND} Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, aArise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”{IMP}

    See then that you walk circumspectly{IMP}, not as fools but as wise{IND}, redeeming the time{IMP}, because the days are evil.{IND}

    Another key to this are the extremes that Christ gives in the sermon on the mount. He doesn’t give a soft-sell here. It’s all or nothing. He makes Moses look/ sound like apiker. All to drive his self-righteous hearers to either fury against him, or to despair of their pathetic state and thence to faith in him alone! 5:20, 48, etc.

    For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

    …you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

  118. Hugh and David,

    May I request that you take your discussion of the purpose of the NT imperatives to “A Response to Darrin Patrick on the Indicatives and the Imperatives,” so that the discussion in this thread can remain on the topic of the post above. Thanks!

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  119. Ok – Moving to new thread now . . .

  120. Bryan quotes Irenaeus: For this reason also He has taught us to say in prayer, “And forgive us our debts;” since indeed He is our Father, whose debtors we were, having transgressed His commandments. (Against Heresies, Bk 5.17)

    Did Irenaeus blink here? Didn’t he mean, “whose debtors we ARE”…? He sounds like a Prot here!

    Thank you Bryan for patristic quotes in #s 14 & 18, above. The St Augs’ quote in 14 (OMFS, Bk III, ch. 23) is especially helpful, as I hear you all agreeing that the Christian’s sins after the grace of baptism are not forgiven, and that true righteousness is not completely restored until penance is done and absolution is administered. This begs the how-good-is-good-enough query. How righteous is the baby upon his/ her baptism, or the penitent upon his absolution?

    Like it, Like IT!~

    Reformed teachers and pastors should be urging all believers to try to get over this urge to confess and ask for forgiveness. The goal should be to get over the felt-need to say that line in the Lord’s Prayer, or anything like it. True integration of mind, heart and feelings, that is, true spiritual maturity would be to get to the point where one would simply leave out that line when praying the Lord’s Prayer, and feel no guilt or compunction in doing so. Pastors, being mature, would tell their congregations that they [the pastors] no longer confess their sins or ask God for forgiveness, because they do not feel those inaccurate feelings of guiltiness any more; they are fully convinced, in mind and feelings, that all their past, present, and future sins were forgiven at the moment of their justification, and their sheep should all seek to reach that same mature state.

    Such is the confession of biblical faith, though not the one from the Abbey in the 17th Century. This sounds like pure Luther on his better days! :)

    But if that is not their belief, their practice or their goal, then they need to believe that sins are forgiven progressively, over the course of a believer’s life. But if our sins are forgiven progressively, then either our sins are progressively imputed to Christ on the cross, or the satisfaction doctrine of the Atonement is correct.

    Amen, and hence your (pl.) migration over the Tiber!

    Of course, in this,

    So, on the one hand, in the Reformed view our past, present and future sins are all already forgiven at the moment we first believe,

    we have the truth. Score one right for the Reformers.

    But [then] on the other hand, in the Reformed view God continues to forgive our sins. The problem is that if our sins are all already forgiven, then there is no reason for God to keep forgiving them. If God is still forgiving them, this implies that they are not all already forgiven. So there is a contradiction here. The doctrine teaches that the sins are all already forgiven. The prayer teaches that the sins are not all already forgiven.

    Amen to there being a contradiction. The Presbyterians had come out of Anglicanism or Romanism, and had not cast off all vestiges of confession & absolution. Presbies got closer than the C of E, but not close enough, imho.

  121. Bryan–

    How in the world did you ever come to faith? You parse things like a dyed-in-the-wool materialist!

    Of course, much of faith, much of the relations between God and man are going to sound contradictory and confusing. Take Psalm 103, for example:

    “He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
    he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
    For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
    as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

    David here admits to ongoing sin, and yet declares his thanks that the omniscient God does not know about them, that the omnipresent God has placed them outside of his own presence. How can this be logically? Is God confused? Is He willfully blind to reality? Or is David expressing himself in an antinomy since the heavenly truth cannot be expressed in earthly terms?

    You make much of the WCF declaring that “there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation.”

    Again, we are seeing hyperbole to make a point. For within Reformed thought, no sin is so large that it deserves damnation.

    Surely, you’re familiar with this quote from Luther:

    “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides… No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day.”

    I guess we Reformed are just one confused lot when it comes to expressing spiritual truths!

  122. Eirik, (re: #121)

    You wrote:

    How in the world did you ever come to faith? You parse things like a dyed-in-the-wool materialist!

    Again, that question, and that statement are about me, and are fully compatible with what I said being true.

    You wrote:

    You make much of the WCF declaring that “there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation.” Again, we are seeing hyperbole to make a point. For within Reformed thought, no sin is so large that it deserves damnation.

    To the best of my knowledge, no Reformed theologian or confession has claimed that no sin is so large that it deserves damnation. That would entail that no sin deserves damnation. The actual statement in the WCF is “there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.” That’s not a claim that there are some sins that do not deserve damnation, but rather that no sin is greater than God’s mercy such that it cannot be forgiven.

    But if you think that the statement I quoted, namely, “there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation,” is hyperbole, then please list one sin that according to Reformed theology does not deserve damnation, and then cite your Reformed source (e.g. Reformed confession, Reformed theologian) for this.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  123. Hugh–

    If you better understood the Protestant concept of “simul justus et peccator,” you would see no such contradiction. We are forgiven for sins past, present, and future in terms of justification. We have right standing with God which no subsequent sin can alter. However, that doesn’t mean that our ongoing relationship with God doesn’t have its ups and downs.

    As Wayne Grudem states in his Systematic Theology :

    “It is in the context of the relationship with God as our heavenly Father that we are able to understand the prayer that Jesus told his disciples to pray daily, “Our Father who art in heaven…forgive us our sins , as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.” This daily prayer for forgiveness of sins is not a prayer that God would give us justification again and again throughout our lives, for justification is a one-time event that occurs immediately after we trust in Christ with saving faith. Rather, the prayer for forgiveness of sins each day is a prayer that God’s fatherly relationship with us, which has been disrupted by sin which displeased him, be restored, and that he relate to us once again as a Father who delights in his children whom he loves. The prayer, “Forgive us our sins,” therefore, is one in which we are relating not to God as eternal judge of the universe, but to God as a Father. It is a prayer in which we wish to restore the open fellowship with our Father that has been broken because of sin.” [p. 740]

    Just like a human father, God disciplines those who are his own without ever disowning them. As a child, I often had to seek my dad’s forgiveness. But I never had to ask him to “take me back” as part of the family. All of my sins–past, present, and future–were covered under the rubric of membership in the family. But my daily sins, which wreaked havoc in my own life and in the lives of others, required appropriate remedy.

  124. Eirik @23

    Thanks for the lesson, but I understand too well your silliness. Nowhere is Grudem’s myth found in the N.T. Please read Jim Elliff’s online article, “Confessionism.”

    Nowhere does the N.T. say that our “fatherly relationship” is “disrupted by sin,” in need of forgiveness. Fellowship is not “broken because of sin” – all sin was forgiven at Calvary.

    You (& Wayne G.) have sins being forgiven by penance. Rather than asking forgiveness, you should be grateful you *have* forgiveness.

    Your analogy with your earthly father fails b/c he couldn’t preveniently forgive you. He could only do so after you’d sinned, then repented and asked his forgiveness. God forgave us all our sins at Calvary, or else we are not his.

    God ever relates to us as Father, ever delighting in his children whom he ever loves. His chastisements are only for his children, but not to get them praying for forgiveness, but to get us to exult in him alone.

  125. Bryan–

    Sorry. It is difficult for me to keep in mind how literally you read things.

    I didn’t bother to go back to the WCF. What I wrote just happened to echo it exactly. Yes, of course, it is the repentant who are forgiven of particular sins. On the other hand, no one has ever repented of every committed sin. No one ever could, as many sins are subconscious or are products of self-deception. Repentance, then, must describe the general attitude of the elect, not a one-to-one correspondence with their sins. (Even Catholics, I have been told, have softened their stance on the unforgivability of suicide.)

    Every sin committed by the elect deserves damnation in terms of them themselves as they were before regeneration, but no sin committed by the elect results in damnation because every sin committed by the elect deserves no damnation in terms of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, which they now have inherently through union with the Incarnate Word. Therefore, no sin committed by the elect deserves damnation. They are holy and declared so by the Son of God. You may believe they remain in sin, but he does not. They are a new creation, created perfectly, though for the time being they remain in the flesh and are subject to its weaknesses.

    I’ll get you Reformed quotes when I better understand your exact objections.

  126. @Hugh (#124)

    God forgave us all our sins at Calvary, or else we are not his.

    Huh? I had thought God forgave my sins when I repented. How do you know He forgave all our sins at Calvary?

    And if He forgave, at Calvary, the sins only of those who are ‘His,’ doesn’t that rather sound like fatalism? I might (like Esau) ‘seek repentance’ but not find it because God, at Calvary, didn’t make me His. It doesn’t matter whether I try to repent later – it will be in vain.

    Or something!

    I really wonder where this idea of God’s preveniently forgiving me (if He has!) comes from!

    jj

  127. Eirik, (re: #125)

    You wrote:

    Yes, of course, it is the repentant who are forgiven of particular sins. On the other hand, no one has ever repented of every committed sin. No one ever could, as many sins are subconscious or are products of self-deception. Repentance, then, must describe the general attitude of the elect, not a one-to-one correspondence with their sins.

    All of this is compatible with the truth of what I said.

    You wrote:

    Every sin committed by the elect deserves damnation in terms of them themselves as they were before regeneration, but no sin committed by the elect results in damnation because every sin committed by the elect deserves no damnation in terms of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, which they now have inherently through union with the Incarnate Word. Therefore, no sin committed by the elect deserves damnation.

    There are two problems with this argument. First, its conclusion does not follow from its premise. Just because (in Reformed theology) no sin by the regenerate results in damnation, it does not follow that in Reformed theology some sins do not deserve damnation. It is precisely because these sins the regenerate person commits deserve punishment that (in Reformed theology) Christ had to be punished for them on the cross, in order for this regenerate person to be justified. The statement “there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation” is explaining what sins deserve, not what justified persons receive. So pointing out that (in Reformed theology) justified persons do not receive punishment when they sin does not show that in Reformed theology there are some sins that do not deserve punishment, because it is fully compatible with their not receiving the punishment their sins truly deserve.

    Second, as I explained above, it is a contradiction to claim that what has been imputed extra nos is possessed “inherently.” To claim that the righteousness by which we are justified is inherent, is to embrace Trent’s teaching on justification by infusion. So either you have to give up extra nos imputation, or you have to give up “inherent” righteousness by extra nos imputation. You can’t have it both ways without contradiction.

    You wrote:

    They are holy and declared so by the Son of God.

    Extrinsically, yes (in Reformed theology). But internally they are not righteous (in Reformed theology), because they are not perfect, and God has only one standard of righteousness, not two. I’ve laid out the evidence from the Reformed confessions for the internal unrighteousness of the regenerate in comments 43, 46, 186, 190, 193, and 198 of the “Imputation and Paradigms” thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  128. Hugh–

    I misunderstood your original comments. Sorry about that.

    I read Elliff, and he nowhere conflicts with Grudem.

    Being grateful one “has” forgiveness does not necessitate abandoning confession and absolution for ongoing sin. Elliff, for one, agrees with this. He calls confession “admission,” but it is the same thing.

    My earthly father not only could but did preveniently forgive me. All loving parents do that for their children.

    You evidently have a hangup against confession. Perhaps you can tell me why, but it has nothing to do with being Reformed.

  129. Dear Eirik,

    Thanks for taking the trouble to read Elliff’s piece. I am not advocating abandoning confession (nor, do I think, is Jim). What I am advocating the abandonment of is praying for forgiveness that’s already been granted.

    If your earthly father forgave you prior to your sins against him, great. Then why ask him to? Why not simply confess your failure while rejoicing in the prevenient forgiveness already granted you?

    Grudem & the WCF & Rome adhere to a non-biblical theory of two-stage or two-tier forgiveness (judicial and familial), which is not found in the Bible. And I’d argue is refuted by clear passages such as Ephesians 1-2 and Colossians 1-3:4.

    I have a “hang-up” about praying for forgiveness already granted, not about confessing one’s sins.

    So we ought to thank God, not ask him for something he granted us 2000+ years ago.

    If I may: Every sin committed by the elect deserves damnation in and of itself, but no sin committed by the elect results in damnation because every sin committed by the elect has been washed away by the blood of Christ.

    Thank you.

  130. JJ–

    No one repents or has any desire to repent who does not first belong to him. It just doesn’t happen (nor can it happen).

  131. Hugh–

    Though my father forgave me in advance, I needed to learn the lessons he had for me in the present. In other words, confession and absolution were for my sake, not to renew my relationship with my father. The disruption of relationship was on my part, not his. I needed to make that right by changing my own attitude to one of obedience rather than rebellion.

    I agree with you that we need not ask forgiveness for sins of the past (assuming you mean sins committed before conversion or sins I have already sought absolution for). There is certainly no reason to repeat the process. My sins this past week, for which I have not sought forgiveness, I would count as “sins of the present.” Otherwise, I would only ever confess to what I was thinking or doing at that precise moment, in which case I would be unrepentant (since it would be ongoing sin).

    I seriously doubt that either the WCF or Grudem teaches that we need to reconfess sin which has already been confessed and forgiven in the past.

    I’m not at all sure that your paraphrase of my earlier statement changes anything, though you might have said it more clearly.

    At any rate, thanks for the reply!

  132. Bryan–

    The righteousness by which we are justified is extrinsic. The righteousness by which we are sanctified is technically extrinsic, as well. Even you believe that…unless, of course, you’ve abandoned sola gratia . All of your accrued “inherent” righteousness would but evaporate into thin air the moment you were separated from Christ, for it is all the result of grace.

    You believe one loses sanctifying grace through the commission of mortal sin (at least until sincere repentance and reconciliation). If it were truly your righteousness, you could keep it, couldn’t you?

    A veritable living saint who up and decides to miss regular attendance at Mass (or some other less heinous mortal sin) and refuses to repent thereafter suddenly has no righteousness to speak of. None that will save him at any rate. Objectively, he may be far and away more inherently righteous than some recent proselyte, but canonically he is on his way to hell.

    Within the benefits of union with Christ, confessional Protestants believe in a covering for sin and a resistance to sin similar to sanctifying grace. Our main difference with Catholics on this point is that our possession of “sanctifying grace” is permanent. We also believe in the infusion of agape.

    You insist that the criterion for our salvation is perfect sinlessness, but, of course, the true criterion is the possession of a genuine gift of faith. The criterion for Christ is sinlessness. The de facto criterion for us is nothing but faith. If you maintain that the criterion for salvation is entire sanctification, then heaven will be totally empty, save for God and his angels.

    Therefore we (at least me and Joey Henry and Jerry Koerkenmeier) will insist that we be granted a status of nos quoque . We indeed are internally righteous in the same manner as you, with the added advantage that all our sin (including mortal sin) is compatible with agape-infused righteousness and our permanent form of sanctifying grace. I don’t see how you can object. My “veritable living saint” is objectively holier than thou, but you accord him no holiness at all. So the Catholic concept of inherent, internal righteousness cannot have a one-to-one correspondence with an actual level of sinlessness. Sure, the “saint” is out of a state of grace and cannot legitimately take part in the Sacraments, so his objective inherent righteousness–coram hominibus–will begin to wane. (Any RC acknowledged righteousness–coram deo–is long gone.)

    You will insist that his inherent righteousness, even coram hominibus, is a thing of the past, for all he has left is his own human, filthy-rags righteousness. Exactly. He never was internally righteous separated from Christ and his church. He never truly possessed an inherent righteousness that he did not owe lock, stock, and barrel to his Lord.

    Other than the perseverance of the saints (i.e., the permanence of sanctifying grace), we are in the same position, you and I. You just don’t want to admit it.

    Like an unborn baby, united by a spiritual umbilical cord to the living Christ, we each grow as a new creation from perfection into greater perfection. Our destiny is entire sanctification, but that will not occur until we are “born” into the glorified world to come.

    Though our sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. We are certainly not besmirched, but perfectly holy in the Lord. What he has pronounced holy (performed extrinsically with intrinsic results) you cannot gainsay. Scripture does not address the elite as “saints,” but all of the rank-and-file elect…just humble church members, covered by the blood of Christ.

  133. @Eirik (#130

    No one repents or has any desire to repent who does not first belong to him. It just doesn’t happen (nor can it happen).

    True – but I’m not sure I see what your point is – I mean why you have said this that we both agree on.

    Unless by ‘belong to Him’ you mean ‘will infallibly persevere to the end’ – then, no, I disagree. But repentance is itself His gift. No man can repent from nature. It is the gift of God.

    jj

  134. Eirik @31,

    I agree with you that we need not ask forgiveness for sins of the past (assuming you mean sins committed before conversion or sins I have already sought absolution for). There is certainly no reason to repeat the process.
    > Good. These of course, were forgiven not because one seeks forgiveness, but b/c Jesus died for his elect. And the forgiveness of Calvary (for we who were born post-NT era) necessarily preveniently included all of our sins, since Christ died before we were born.

    My sins this past week, for which I have not sought forgiveness, I would count as “sins of the present.” Otherwise, I would only ever confess to what I was thinking or doing at that precise moment, in which case I would be unrepentant (since it would be ongoing sin).
    > God in Christ has forgiven his people all their sins at Calvary. Not merely sins prior to conversion, or prior to baptism, or those prior to your last confession.

    > Again, please see Ephesians 1-2 and Colossians 1:3:4, as well as Isaiah 53:4-6.* All done. All sins forgiven. One needn’t ask for that which one has already received.

    > Your analogy and psychologizing about your needing to ask forgiveness and be absolved is quaint, but unbiblical. You need faith, not asking for forgiveness. Do you keep asking for last year’s Christmas gift your father gave you? No, that would be absurd and rude. But you ought to be thankful for it. To repeatedly ask for what one has already received is a sign of faithlessness, not fidelity. One’s relationship to God through Christ is never “disrupted” by sin. (All Romish protestations to the contrary, notwithstanding.) Christ has reconciled us to God once and for all time.

    > You do not and cannot “make that right by changing [your] own attitude to one of obedience” – such would be working your way back into “relationship” with God. You make nothing right, now matter how much you strive to change your attitude.

    I seriously doubt that either the WCF or Grudem teaches that we need to reconfess sin which has already been confessed and forgiven in the past.
    > But they don’t see one’s latest sins as forgiven until one repents, confesses, and asks forgiveness, do they? Wayne & the Puritans differ little from our hosts here @ CTC.

    > Thanks,
    > Hugh

    * 4 Surely He has borne our griefs
    And carried our sorrows;
    Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
    Smitten by God, and afflicted.
    5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
    He was bruised for our iniquities;
    The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
    And by His stripes we are healed.
    6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
    We have turned, every one, to his own way;
    And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

  135. Bryan,

    So in Reformed theology it’s not true that our past, present, future sins were imputed onto Christ on the cross? Only the guilt/punishment for those sins?

    –Christie

  136. Eirik (re: #132)

    You wrote:

    The righteousness by which we are justified is extrinsic. The righteousness by which we are sanctified is technically extrinsic, as well. Even you believe that…unless, of course, you’ve abandoned sola gratia . All of your accrued “inherent” righteousness would but evaporate into thin air the moment you were separated from Christ, for it is all the result of grace.

    You believe one loses sanctifying grace through the commission of mortal sin (at least until sincere repentance and reconciliation). If it were truly your righteousness, you could keep it, couldn’t you?

    That’s a bit like saying that if your leg were truly yours, you couldn’t lose it. So amputees just prove that their limbs never belonged to them in the first place. It is not good reasoning. The fact that we can lose sanctifying grace through mortal sin does not show that sanctifying grace is “extrinsic.” Qualities are intrinsic, and they can be lost. This is why both sanctifying grace and charity can be lost, and yet both are intrinsic, and neither are extrinsic. Your mistake is assuming that if something can be lost, it is extrinsic. And the rest of your comment is built on that mistake, as you set up a tu quoque claiming (falsely) that in the Catholic position too sanctifying grace is merely extrinsic.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  137. Christie, (re: #135)

    So in Reformed theology it’s not true that our past, present, future sins were imputed onto Christ on the cross? Only the guilt/punishment for those sins?

    Yes, and yes, for the reasons I explained in comment #109 above.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  138. It is true that ‘our past, present, & future sins were imputed onto Christ on the cross’! Glory to God!

    For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.~ 2 Cor. 5:21.

    This we refer to as the great exchange, or double imputation: Christ trades his righteousness for our sins. Out of his and the Father’s unchanging, eternal love.

  139. Bryan,

    Pardon me here, but this was great [except...]:

    What you’re missing is the Reformed distinction between (a) one’s sins and the sinful condition of one’s heart, and (b) the guilt / punishment for one’s sins and the sinful condition of one’s heart. In Reformed theology the guilt for all (past, present, and future) one’s sins (if one is elect), was laid on Christ, and the punishment for all those sins was received by Christ on the cross. But that does not mean that one’s heart is clean and no longer sinful. The meaning of simul iustus et peccator is precisely that one’s forensic status because of Christ is different from the actual condition of one’s heart. One’s forensic status is perfectly righteous, while one’s heart is still sinful and wicked, and full of damnable sins.

    In Reformed theology, no one in this present life is *internally* righteous. The believer’s righteousness, in Reformed theology, is the extra nos [outside of us] obedience of Christ that has been imputed to our account. Our sanctification in this present life always still leaves us less than righteous internally.

    You forget that while the Spirit’s work and residence within us is not entirely sanctifying (we don’t achieve absolute holiness in this life; deification as our Ortho’x pals call it), yet we DO have the Spirit of righteousness, disecernment, love, joy, peace, etc. dwelling within us. He does battle with our flesh (Romans 6 & 7) throughout our lives.

    My only quibble with your take is the italicized bit above: …one’s heart is still sinful and wicked, and full of damnable sins. But that’s an incomplete, and hence, deceptive way to state the affair.

    While Horton is correct, “Even on a good day, the average Christian is wicked,” so too, however, have our hearts truly been cleansed. One is simultaneously a sinner and a saint. He has both flesh/ wickedness as well as Christ/ righteousness dwelling within.

    Further, his heart possesses the Holy Spirit, so that he does do right from pure motives, but he also has the flesh that constantly wars with that Spirit (Gal. 5:17).

    ____________________________
    Also, though it’s just as Horton says in your quote from him: “he knows he can’t clean up his act to the degree that he can make enough progress to be accepted or approved by sanctification,” yet, the man of God has been completely sanctified by the sacrifice of Christ (1 Cor. 1:30, 6:11; Heb. 10:10, 14).

  140. Hugh (re: #138)

    It is true that ‘our past, present, & future sins were imputed onto Christ on the cross’! Glory to God! … This we refer to as the great exchange, or double imputation: Christ trades his righteousness for our sins. Out of his and the Father’s unchanging, eternal love.

    If it were true that (in Reformed theology) not only the guilt and punishment for sin were imputed to Christ, but also the person’s past, present, and future *sins* were imputed to Christ, then no regenerate person would ever sin, because all his future sins would have already been removed and laid on Christ. But passages like 1 John 1:8, and the line in the Lord’s Prayer in which we ask daily for the forgiveness of our sins, are not compatible with the notion that the regenerate never sin. Not only that, but simul iustus et peccator would be false, since no regenerate person would be peccator. To take a position entailing the falsehood of simul iustus et peccator is to depart from Reformed theology.

    Regarding 2 Cor 5:21, the traditional understanding of this passage is explained by St. Augustine – see comment #29 in the “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?” thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  141. Hugh (re: #139)

    so too, however, have our hearts truly been cleansed. One is simultaneously a sinner and a saint. He has both flesh/ wickedness as well as Christ/ righteousness dwelling within. Further, his heart possesses the Holy Spirit, so that he does do right from pure motives, but he also has the flesh that constantly wars with that Spirit (Gal. 5:17). …” yet, the man of God has been completely sanctified

    In Reformed theology God only has one standard of righteousness: perfect conformity to His law. Anything less than that perfection, is wickedness. To be sure in Reformed theology there are degrees of wickedness, but if a person is still “a sinner” then he is not righteous (internally), and not “completely sanctified.” Because he does not perfectly conform to God’s law. What you’re looking for is something similar to the distinction between mortal and venial sin, so that persons who are not righteous, but not as wicked as, say, the devil, can be rightly said to be internally “clean” and “completely sanctified.” But Reformed theology rejects the mortal-venial distinction, and does not acknowledge that God has two (or more) standards of righteousness.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  142. Bryan @140,

    If it were true that (in Reformed theology) not only the guilt and punishment for sin were imputed to Christ, but also the person’s past, present, and future *sins* were imputed to Christ, then no regenerate person would ever sin, because all his future sins would have already been removed and laid on Christ.
    > I don’t see how that follows. The sins are imputed (the unrighteousness) to Christ, as St Paul and Isaiah say. But why you feel that therefore we’d never again sin doesn’t necessarily follow. Unless you’ve got a syllogism I’m not getting.

    But passages like 1 John 1:8, and the line in the Lord’s Prayer in which we ask daily for the forgiveness of our sins, are not compatible with the notion that the regenerate never sin.
    > Of course the regenerate sin, but all sins are preveniently covered by Christ’s blood. Asking for forgiveness of forgiven sins is silly, but I must sound mad to you all.

    Not only that, but simul iustus et peccator would be false, since no regenerate person would be peccator. To take a position entailing the falsehood of simul iustus et peccator is to depart from Reformed theology.
    > Since the issues in your article are with Reformed theology, I shall not go any farther out of bounds here.

    Regarding 2 Cor 5:21, the traditional understanding of this passage is explained by St. Augustine – see comment #29 in the “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?” thread.
    > Thanks. Will do. Doubt I’ll agree, but will give Augs a look.

    Bryan @ 141,

    …if a person is still “a sinner” then he is not righteous (internally), and not “completely sanctified.”

    Agreed. Not completely sanctified/holy internally & experientially (until glory), but completely sanctified/holy externally, imputedly.

    Surely you’re familiar with the Reformed distinction between progressive (unfinished/ ongoing) sanctification and definitive (done by/ in Christ) sanctification. This latter is what the 1 Cor. 1:30, 6:11 & Hebrews 10:10, 14 are speaking of.

    Where is this in Scripture? Is it an early church tradition?

    “One problem with this doctrine is that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins. If all our sins are paid for and forgiven, then it makes no sense to ask daily for the forgiveness for our sins.”

    It’s not directly from our Lord, for in neither Matthew 6 nor in Luke 11 do we find Jesus telling us to pray “the Lord’s Prayer” *daily.*

    It begs the question, why not more often?! We sin more than once a day.

    This appears to be an invalid inference, Bryan: “When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask *daily* for the forgiveness of our trespasses.” Where?

    Jesus said, Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. {Luke, in the NKJV}

    And Matthew has it:
    Give us this day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

    Should we but daily pray for God’s name to be hallowed?
    For his kingdom to come?
    For us not to be led into temptation?
    Surely we should pray these more than once a day!

    Thanks,
    Hugh

  143. Bryan,

    So when in the article it says, “All his past, present and future sins have all already been ‘laid on’ Christ on the cross two thousand years ago. Therefore at the moment he believes the gospel, all his past, present and future sins have not only already been paid for; they are all forgiven,” this doesn’t imply that all the sins were transferred off of one’s account? What does ‘laid on’ refer to in Reformed theology if not extrinsic transfer of actual past, present, future sins? Why would they always use this as a proof text for penal substitution if it wasn’t referring to sins being transferred?

    In one of “catholic nick’s” blog posts, he quotes John Piper from his book Counted Righteous (page 68-69),

    “In view of all we have seen from Romans 3 and 4, it is not unnatural or contrived to see in the words “in [Christ] we … become the righteousness of God” a reference to the imputation of God’s righteousness to us. This is not a mere guess. It follows from the parallel with Christ’s being “made sin” for us. Christ is “made sin” not in the sense that he becomes a sinner, but in the sense that our sins are imputed to him—a natural interpretation in view of the explicit reference in 2 Corinthians 5:19 to God’s “not imputing” (me logizomenos) trespasses. In other words, the concept of “imputation” is in Paul’s mind as he writes these verses.
    But if Christ’s being made sin for us implies the imputation of our sin to Christ, then it is not arbitrary or unnatural to construe the parallel—our “becoming the righteousness of God in him”—as the imputation of God’s righteousness to us. We “become” God’s righteousness the way Christ “was made” our sin. He did not become morally sinful in the imputation; we do not become morally righteous in the imputation. He was counted as having our sin; we are counted as having God’s righteousness. This is the reality of imputation.”

    Here, it seems as if Piper believes that sins were imputed/transferred. Maybe I’m reading too much into it?

    –Christie

  144. Bryan–

    I assume you meant to say that one’s inherent righteousness, which is a product of sanctifying grace, is intrinsic. Sanctifying grace itself, which is solely a gift from God, cannot be so.

    Since we are speaking of qualities which assist in justifying an individual (and thus are life giving), we cannot use a leg as an apt analogy, now, can we? You can lose your leg and live.

    I thought at first of a heart-lung machine, but that is entirely extrinsic. We are speaking of something we help nurture and develop. I thought next of a heart transplant, perhaps too extrinsic though perhaps not. I landed on a massive blood transfusion, which our body would then oxygenate, sustain, and replenish. It would eventually become “entirely” intrinsic. (Of course, under the Catholic system, it can never be entirely intrinsic. I am assuming even you would not argue for that. We would require periodic transfusions of grace via the sacraments, etc.)

    The problem that we run across is the way in which the quality can be lost: the Donor himself, at his own discretion, can drain us of it. We may rebel in mortal sin, but surely most perpetrators would still like to hang on to whatever portion of their accrued righteousness they could.

    A donor heart that can be ripped from our chest at the discretion of the Giver is a little less than truly intrinsic in my book. The giver retains ownership.

    Ultimately, since the Creator is the giver of all good gifts, even the leg is extrinsic. For the life of me, I don’t understand your motivation for fighting that conclusion. Do you dislike extrinsicity for some particular reason? Is it inferior in some way?

    It used to be that “Made in Japan” meant cheap. When has it ever been that “Gifted from God” meant anything other than exquisite?

    I get the impression that this is a competition. You feel superior to us Calvinists, wretches that we are, and propose an even more amazing grace than Newton dreamed of. We are secure in Christ, but you are secure in your own righteousness. To throw works (even spirit-wrought works of love) into the mix of justification is to tempt one to pride. You, my dear Mr. Cross, are boasting!

    I affirm my complete intrinsic holiness because I boast in Christ. He has said my sins are no longer scarlet, but as white as washed wool or driven snow. And so they are.

    You, on the other hand, boast in your own intrinsic righteousness which you had a hand in building up. Boast away!

  145. Christie, (re: #143)

    So when in the article it says, “All his past, present and future sins have all already been ‘laid on’ Christ on the cross two thousand years ago. Therefore at the moment he believes the gospel, all his past, present and future sins have not only already been paid for; they are all forgiven,” this doesn’t imply that all the sins were transferred off of one’s account? What does ‘laid on’ refer to in Reformed theology if not extrinsic transfer of actual past, present, future sins?

    The “laid on” refers to the guilt and punishment of this sins being laid on Christ.

    Why would they always use this as a proof text for penal substitution if it wasn’t referring to sins being transferred?

    I don’t know what proof text you have in mind, so I cannot answer this question.

    Here, it seems as if Piper believes that sins were imputed/transferred. Maybe I’m reading too much into it?

    Yes, you’re reading too much into Piper’s statement. In Reformed theology imputation is not the transfer of the sin per se, but the transfer of the guilt/punishment for sin. That’s precisely why (in Reformed theology) Christ was not made a sinner when [the guilt/punishment of our sin] was laid upon Him.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  146. Bryan,

    I’m confused because R.C. Sproul and John Piper, when speaking of double imputation, both specifically mention sins being imputed to Christ and His righteousness (passive obedience and active obedience) imputed to us. I don’t see why if sins were really imputed that would negate any Reformed theology. Couldn’t the sins be extrinsically imputed off of one’s account onto Christ but one’s sins still be inside you and need to be covered by the passive aspect of righteousness so God sees you as innocent?

    In the Reformed and Catholic Conceptions of the Atonement CtC article, it says,

    “In Christ’s Passion and death, Christ bore the punishment of the Father’s wrath that the elect deserved for their sins. In the Reformed conception, this is what it means to bear the curse, to bear the Father’s wrath for sin. In Reformed thought, at Christ’s Passion and death, God the Father transferred all the sins (past, present, and future) of all the elect onto His Son. Then God the Father hated, cursed and damned His Son, who was evil in the Father’s sight on account of all the sins of the elect being concentrated in the Son.”

    Here, it describes our sins being concentrated and transferred into Jesus. What does that mean if not that all our sins were imputed onto Jesus?

    –Christie

  147. Eirik, (re: #144)

    You wrote:

    I assume you meant to say that one’s inherent righteousness, which is a product of sanctifying grace, is intrinsic. Sanctifying grace itself, which is solely a gift from God, cannot be so.

    No, I meant what I said. Sanctifying grace is intrinsic, because it is infused. Just because something is a gift from God, does not mean that it cannot be intrinsic.

    You wrote:

    Since we are speaking of qualities which assist in justifying an individual (and thus are life giving), we cannot use a leg as an apt analogy, now, can we? You can lose your leg and live.

    You had claimed in #132, “If it were truly your righteousness, you could keep it, couldn’t you?” All I need to refute the claim [that if x is truly yours, you cannot lose it] is one counterexample in which x is truly yours, and yet you can lose x. And the example of the leg is such an example of losing something that is truly one’s own. The alternative, as I mentioned in #136, is claiming that when people lose limbs, they are merely demonstrating that their limbs never truly belonged to them. And that’s a serious bullet to bite.

    The rest of your comment, including your ad hominems directed at my person, is fully compatible with the truth of what I have said both in the post above, and in my comments above.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  148. Christie, (re: #146),

    I’m confused because R.C. Sproul and John Piper, when speaking of double imputation, both specifically mention sins being imputed to Christ and His righteousness (passive obedience and active obedience) imputed to us.

    In Reformed theology speaking of *sins* being imputed is shorthand for transferring the guilt and punishment of sin.

    I don’t see why if sins were really imputed that would negate any Reformed theology.

    See comment #140 above.

    Couldn’t the sins be extrinsically imputed off of one’s account onto Christ but one’s sins still be inside you and need to be covered by the passive aspect of righteousness so God sees you as innocent?

    In order for me to understand that question, you would need to define the term “extrinsically impute” and explain exactly what it means for a sin per se [not just the guilt and punishment for sin, but the sin itself] to be extrinsically imputed.

    In the Reformed and Catholic Conceptions of the Atonement CtC article, it says, … Here, it describes our sins being concentrated and transferred into Jesus. What does that mean if not that all our sins were imputed onto Jesus?

    It means, as you might be able to guess by now, that (in Reformed theology) the guilt and punishment for those sins was transferred to Christ.

    In the peace of Christ,

    -Bryan

  149. I think what Christie is getting at is something deeper. It’s not just that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us and our guilt is imputed to Him, but that this imputation can only be a temporary (one time) imputation rather than a perpetual one. The ‘scene’ is that of a courtroom, and the matter is decided once and for all, with the Judge needing to look at the ‘evidence’ of Christ’s righteousness only once for a brief moment. If Protestants are going to say or insinuate that Christ’s Righteousness is perpetually or continuously imputed to us, then they’ve denied the heart of their position.

    But if Christ’s Righteousness is a one time temporary imputation, then this would mean ‘faith’ itself would have to be temporary as well, since in the Reformed view faith is the instrumental cause of justification and it’s fundamental purpose is to receive Christ’s righteousness. So every time Paul says we are “justified by faith,” this would have to be understood not only as a one time justification, but a one time ‘act’ of faith. It would be akin to baptism being temporary and only taking place once.

  150. Bryan,

    I guess I had conceived of imputation as transfer of sins, guilt, and punishment, such that one’s ‘account’ of sins was erased because of the transfer of them off of one’s account onto Christ. But really you’re saying that the sins are still on one’s account, just covered by Christ’s righteousness, and the guilt for those sins is gone, giving one a status as innocent and acquitted due to the transfer of the passive obedience. Correct?

    I have another related question; why would one need Christ’s passive obedience transferred to one’s account to give one an innocent status, if one’s guilt had already been transferred away?

    –Christie

  151. Bryan–

    “Intrinsic” signifies that something is essential to your nature, your constitution. It is something native to you, rather than foreign. A quality extrinsically infused into you may become intrinsic, but it is not automatically so. In this particular case, it must be periodically replenished extrinsically and can at any moment be withdrawn extrinsically. I fail to see how any quality under such a process could possibly be considered intrinsic.

    Nothing I said was intended to be directed against your person but solely against your ideas. I sincerely apologize for any miswording on my part.

    I understand how you might think that your earlier evaluation of my position concurs with my actual position. I do not believe, however, that this is actually the case. Definitive sanctification renders me completely, intrinsically righteous coram deo. I have mystically died with Christ, and I have been raised up with him, as well. According to definitive sanctification, I have been totally sanctified “already.” According to progressive sanctification, I have been sanctified to a certain extent, while its completion remains “not yet.”

  152. Christie (re: #150)

    You wrote:

    I guess I had conceived of imputation as transfer of sins, guilt, and punishment, such that one’s ‘account’ of sins was erased because of the transfer of them off of one’s account onto Christ. But really you’re saying that the sins are still on one’s account, just covered by Christ’s righteousness, and the guilt for those sins is gone, giving one a status as innocent and acquitted due to the transfer of the passive obedience. Correct?

    As soon as you use the term ‘account,’ you are already speaking sf something relational, and extrinsic. And thus (according to Reformed theology) you’re already speaking of guilt/punishment, and not the sin proper, which is in one’s heart. The “account” and one’s heart are not the same thing (in Reformed theology). When Horton says “even on a good day, the average Christian is wicked,” he is speaking of the heart. But, for Horton (and Reformed theology), even on a bad day, every regenerate person’s account is not only perfectly free of sin (as if the person had never sinned), because of the imputation of all the [guilt/debt of punishment] of one’s past, present and future sin to Christ’s account, but is also perfectly righteous, as if one had perfectly fulfilled the law, because of the imputation of Christ’s perfect obedience to one’s account.

    I have another related question; why would one need Christ’s passive obedience transferred to one’s account to give one an innocent status, if one’s guilt had already been transferred away?

    In Reformed theology Christ’s passive obedience is the obedience by which one’s guilt is transferred away, as you put it. But in Reformed theology (or at least a dominant strand of it) that in itself would leave one merely innocent, not righteous. Righteous and innocent are not the same. Innocence is merely not having broken the law. Righteousness is having perfectly fulfilled the law. So in Reformed theology the imputation of the active obedience of Christ is necessary for making us *righteous,* and not just innocent. Watch the five minute Sproul video in comment #219 of the “Imputation and Paradigms” post. He presents that distinction quite clearly there.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  153. Eirik, (re: #151)

    You wrote:

    “Intrinsic” signifies that something is essential to your nature, your constitution. It is something native to you, rather than foreign. A quality extrinsically infused into you may become intrinsic, but it is not automatically so. In this particular case, it must be periodically replenished extrinsically and can at any moment be withdrawn extrinsically. I fail to see how any quality under such a process could possibly be considered intrinsic.

    You’ve confused “intrinsic” with “essential.” If I go the beach, and lie in the sun for the next seven days, by the end I’ll have a tan. That tan would be intrinsic to me; it wouldn’t be extrinsic, as would, say, the debt of taxes I owed to the government. But my tan also wouldn’t be essential, because I can gain it and lose it, while remaining the same subject. When you say, “‘intrinsic’ signifies that something is essential your nature” you are changing the topic slightly, from what is intrinsic, to what is intrinsic to a nature. I am not my nature. So when you add, “it is something native to you,” you are switching back to intrinsic to me, and thus conflating the distinction between intrinsic to my nature, and intrinsic to me. Yes what is intrinsic to my nature is essential to me, but what is intrinsic to me is not necessarily essential to me. So showing x to be non-essential to me does not show x to be not intrinsic to me.

    Nothing I said was intended to be directed against your person but solely against your ideas. I sincerely apologize for any miswording on my part.

    Sure, no problem.

    I understand how you might think that your earlier evaluation of my position concurs with my actual position. I do not believe, however, that this is actually the case. Definitive sanctification renders me completely, intrinsically righteous coram deo. I have mystically died with Christ, and I have been raised up with him, as well. According to definitive sanctification, I have been totally sanctified “already.” According to progressive sanctification, I have been sanctified to a certain extent, while its completion remains “not yet.”

    Your position as you word it ["completely, intrinsically righteous"] is similar to the doctrine taught in Trent 6:

    the single formal cause [of justification] is the justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us

    But insofar as you embrace Trent 6 on justification, you depart from Reformed theology on justification. And that’s because as soon as you affirm that at the moment of justification you are “completely intrinsically righteous,” you make the notion of the extra nos imputation of Christ’s righteousness false, or at best superfluous.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  154. Hey Bryan,

    You should switch the words around in the first clause here: “Yes what is intrinsic to my nature is essential to me, but what is intrinsic to me is not necessarily essential to me.”

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  155. K. Doran, (re: #154)

    Thanks, but I meant it as I wrote it. I am not my nature. Everything that is intrinsic to my nature as human [i.e. my human nature] is essential to me, because I cannot lose my nature or any part of my nature. But not everything that is intrinsic to me (e.g. my leg) is essential to me.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  156. I see now.

  157. Bryan,

    I realize you’re juggling respondents here (and probably loads elsewhere), with your vocation and family, but my post #142 above seemed to have slipped in under the radar.

    If you have the time and inclination, I’d appreciate your thoughts thereon.

    Thanks,
    Hugh

  158. Hugh, (re: #142)

    I had written:

    If it were true that (in Reformed theology) not only the guilt and punishment for sin were imputed to Christ, but also the person’s past, present, and future *sins* were imputed to Christ, then no regenerate person would ever sin, because all his future sins would have already been removed and laid on Christ.

    You replied:

    I don’t see how that follows. The sins are imputed (the unrighteousness) to Christ, as St Paul and Isaiah say. But why you feel that therefore we’d never again sin doesn’t necessarily follow. Unless you’ve got a syllogism I’m not getting.

    Replace the word ‘sins’ with ‘hairs.’ If all my past, present, and future hairs have already been transferred to someone else, then I am and will be perpetually bald, and never again have hair. Likewise, if all my past, present, and future sins have already been transferred to someone else, then I am and will be perpetually sinless, and never again have sin.

    As for your question about praying the Lord’s Prayer daily, see my comments #5, 14, 18, and 26 above.

    Also, using the comment formatting explained here will make your comments easier to read. Thanks!

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  159. Bryan–

    I apologize for my imprecision philosophically. We are speaking across paradigms here both denominationally and terminologically. My fault, I guess. I’ll just have to bone up on jargon. In just plain English, the adjective “intrinsic” can include aspects of “essence.”

    I am in no way embracing Trent on justification. I think you are misrepresenting the Protestant concept of imputation somewhat. It is not mere legal fiat, we are not merely declared just or reckoned as if we were just. Our debt is paid in full, the full amount is transferred to our account and cannot be withdrawn. We are intrinsically righteous through and through and through. We are not simply dung covered over with snow. We are pure snow all the way down at the moment of justification. The Father does not see us through the “filter” of the Son. He sees us as objectively pure. (They’re in the selfsame Trinity, as you recall, and do not keep secrets from one another.) What the Son accomplished on the cross has been accomplished. It is a done deal. My slate is wiped clean. My sins are gone.

    Our very essence is changed: we are a new creation. We are truly, mystically–and not just covenantally–united to Christ. We are constantly nourished by the Spirit. We are, as it were, attached to Christ as if by umbilical cord and infused with love and grace. We grow, as I said before, much as an unborn baby grows, from perfection to greater perfection.

    On the other hand, what we newly are is still tied to what we used to be. What we are in essence is tied to what we no longer are in essence. We have been totally freed from the bondage and power of sin and death, but we must still mortify the flesh.

    So it is a both/and situation: we are simultaneously totally righteous and totally depraved. Every aspect of our present body of flesh is corrupted by sin. Every aspect of our renewed spirit is just and justified. Simul justus et peccator.

    In St. John the Evangelist’s first epistle, he writes:

    “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

    And yet, just two chapters earlier, he penned these words:

    “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

    Paul writes similarly in Romans 7:

    “Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

    So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

    So Paul believes that in terms of the new creation, in terms of his new essence (his “inner being” or “mind,” as he calls it), he is perfectly righteous and serves the law of God. In the flesh, however, he serves the law of sin. Simul justus et peccator.

    This is the same Paul who one chapter earlier declares:

    “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.”

    And the same Paul who one chapter later declares:

    “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

    In other words, we (in our new essence) have been totally liberated from the power of sin and death. And yet, the flesh (our old essence) to which we are tied continues to be enslaved.

  160. Eirik, (re: #159)

    You wrote:

    I am in no way embracing Trent on justification.

    Then, immediately following that, you wrote:

    I think you are misrepresenting the Protestant concept of imputation somewhat. It is not mere legal fiat, we are not merely declared just or reckoned as if we were just. …. We are intrinsically righteous through and through and through. We are not simply dung covered over with snow. We are pure snow all the way down at the moment of justification.

    That is exactly what Trent 6 teaches.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  161. Eirik,
    Bryan is correct (not that he needs a rabid Prot to corroborate his post).
    You are Tridentine. Weird.

    From Trent 6 ~ “This disposition or preparation [to justification] is followed by justification itself, which is not only a remission of sins but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man…”

    And, “…we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us…”

    From their catechism: “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.” ~ Council of Trent (1547): DS 1528.

    “Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life.” (Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529.)

    This we Prots reject, but it is Rome’s teaching.

  162. Dear Bryan @158 – On the bit about frequency of praying.

    You erroneously claim in your article above, “that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins.” This is untrue.

    It’s not directly from our Lord, for in neither Matthew 6 nor in Luke 11 do we find Jesus telling us to pray “the Lord’s Prayer” *daily.* Jesus said in Luke, Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And Matthew has it, Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

    You appear in your first paragraph to have invalidly inferred this: “When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask *daily* for the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

    You now direct me to your comments # 5, 14, 18, & 26. These do not prove your assertion that “that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins,” nor even that this is the consensus of the Fathers.

    In your post #5, nothing is said about the frequency of asking forgiveness/ praying the Lord’s Prayer.

    In #14, you claim that Augustine “is teaching that praying daily for God to forgive us our sins is for venial sins,” yet in none of the three quotes you offered is this found. If I missing it, or if you forgot to include it, please show me.

    In #18, you say:

    St. Augustine refers to the Lord’s Prayer in many places in his works, always teaching it as obviously something that believers pray daily, and ought to pray daily. All the Church Fathers believed this, and taught it, namely, that the Lord’s Prayer is something that we (in the Church) are to pray daily.

    Yet you fail to produce evidence for such a claim (unless, again, I missed it).

    Your patristic evidence is weak, as well.

    In your quotes of Sts Clement, Irenaeus, Cyril, Chrysostom, Jerome’s 1st quote, the 3 Carthage Council canons, John Cassian, & Leo the Great, there is NO MENTION of daily frequency of asking forgiveness in praying the Lord’s Prayer.

    A mere two quotes from your post include a reference to daily praying:

    (1) Cyprian: Lest any one should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himself should more deeply perish, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden to entreat daily for his sins. Yet it is unclear where Cyprian (or you) get this notion…?

    (2) Jerome’s 2nd quote doesn’t enjoin daily praying of the prayer, he merely reports such a practice: How have we been able in our daily prayers to say “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” (Matthew 6:12) while our feelings have been at variance with our words, and our petition inconsistent with our conduct?

    The Didache reports more-than-daily prayer (as *should* be): “Thrice in the day thus pray.” = 3x daily, not daily (1x daily).

    I do not advocate asking for forgiveness already bestowed, nor that the Lord’s Prayer should be repeated verbatim — much less, repeatedly! But it is superb when we pray more often than merely once a day! (E.g. 7x a day in Ps. 119:164; 3x daily in Daniel 6:13.)

    Please correct this erroneous 1st sentence in your 5th paragraph: “One problem with this doctrine is that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins.”

    And this 4th sentence found in paragraph one: “When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask daily for the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  163. Bryan and Hugh–

    I see. Trent teaches simul justus et peccator. Martin Luther died a scant two months after Trent convened. He would have had a good belly laugh out of you two! (So, too, would John Murray, whom I was more or less paraphrasing.)

    Bryan–

    Look, I told you you were getting it wrong. This clinches it.

    Hugh–

    Trent combines the initial justification associated with baptismal regeneration and progressive sanctification (not definitive sanctification which I was discussing).

  164. Eirik @163,

    Trent teaches simultaneously just and sinful?! Where, for goodness sake?! It teaches that one is either one or the other.

    When you say you are paraphrasing John Murray, from where are you getting your ideas? Could you please show us which bit above is your paraphrase of him, and/ or what he actually said? Or at least, give a reference in Murray so we can look him up? Thanks!

    Surely not this: We are intrinsically righteous through and through and through. We are not simply dung covered over with snow. We are pure snow all the way down at the moment of justification. The Father does not see us through the “filter” of the Son. He sees us as objectively pure.

    This is neither Murray nor Luther (unless I’ve missed some things!) – Murray’s excellent article on definitive justification doesn’t say such a thing, and in Luther’s simul iustus et peccator, the first element has always been understood as judicially/ forensically justified, not essentially/ intrinsically.

    Why do you dismiss Luther’s own analogy, “dung covered over with snow”?

    To say “we are pure snow all the way down” is to likewise buy Trent. Would you agree that to say that God merely declares or reckons us just (as if we were entirely just) is merely a legal fiction?

    You say: “It is not mere legal fiat, we are not merely declared just or reckoned as if we were just.” How is this not Tridentine theology?

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  165. BRYAN: If it were true that (in Reformed theology) not only the guilt and punishment for sin were imputed to Christ, but also the person’s past, present, and future *sins* were imputed to Christ, then no regenerate person would ever sin, because all his future sins would have already been removed and laid on Christ.

    HUGH: I don’t see how that follows. The sins are imputed (the unrighteousness) to Christ, as St Paul and Isaiah say. But why you feel that therefore we’d never again sin doesn’t necessarily follow. Unless you’ve got a syllogism I’m not getting.

    BRYAN: Replace the word ‘sins’ with ‘hairs.’ If all my past, present, and future hairs have already been transferred to someone else, then I am and will be perpetually bald, and never again have hair. Likewise, if all my past, present, and future sins have already been transferred to someone else, then I am and will be perpetually sinless, and never again have sin.

    HUGH: Cute, but it’s not effective or valid. In your analogy, from God’s perspective, such is true: We are shiny & smooth chrome domes; no sins (hairs) are reckoned to us! But in actuality, we daily grow shaggy (sin), outwardly looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family.

    Let’s try this one: One’s future wages garnished by the IRS for tax evasion:

    The employee [sinner] works [sins], earning his pay [death in hell], but he never sees a dime [of God’s wrath], for, as quickly as he earns it [sins], it’s all taken by the authorities [Christ].

    He’s still working, still earning, but getting no “reward” for his labors. The gov’t gets it all.

    Just so, the elect, regenerate sinner would otherwise be earning hell, but for Christ’s interventionary/ substitutionary work on his behalf. Instead, he gets none of the wages/ hell. Christ has taken all his sins and the hell he deserves. That’s the negative – Christ taking away sin – Romans 4:25a.

    The positive (gaining Christ’s righteous, Romans 4:25b), would be the IRS [Christ] working on behalf of the convicted tax evader [sinner].

    The employee [sinner] is freely given the reward [eternal life] that the IRS’s [Christ’s] work “deserves.”

    Not only are the criminal’s taxes, penalties, and fees all paid, but he’s also given a lottery-worthy amount to take care of him beyond his wildest dreams.

    Christ does all the work for our redemption, earning us heaven/ eternal life. None of our sins, original or real, are ours any longer. They’ve been given to Jesus, and his works given to us. Isaiah and Paul say so.

    You write it beautifully:

    At the moment the sinner believes, Christ’s righteousness is permanently and irrevocably imputed to him. All his past, present and future sins have all already been ‘laid on’ Christ on the cross two thousand years ago. Therefore at the moment he believes the gospel, all his past, present and future sins have not only already been paid for; they are all forgiven… In Reformed theology [the Bible?], all past, present and future sins are forgiven at the moment we believe. Nor, according to Reformed theology [the Bible?] does God impute to Christ only those sins that the sinner has already committed, and then, when the believer later confesses subsequent sins, impute those subsequent sins to Christ. No. In Reformed theology [the Bible?] the imputation is not piece-meal or successive. It takes place once and entirely, at the moment the sinner first believes. Once the double-imputation has occurred (i.e. all his past, present and future sins are imputed to Christ, and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him) at the moment he believes, then he is permanently and irrevocably pardoned and forgiven for all his past, present and future sins… The Reformed [biblical?] teaching that all his past, present and future sins were already paid for on the cross, and that Christ’s perfect righteousness was already imputed to him at the moment he first believed, does not fit with the notion that he needs to pray for the pardon of his post-justification sins, and that if he forsakes them he will find mercy… his post-justification sins are all already pardoned, …he doesn’t need to ask pardon (because that would be an act of unbelief)…

    Amen and amen.

    Berkhof doesn’t appear to advocate asking for forgiveness (at least, in the quote you give). Confession & prayer, along with gratitude and of course (most importantly) faith, do seem apropos.

    Thanks,
    Hugh

  166. Hugh (re: #165)

    You wrote:

    In your analogy, from God’s perspective, such is true: We are shiny & smooth chrome domes; no sins (hairs) are reckoned to us! But in actuality, we daily grow shaggy (sin), outwardly looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family.

    If “from God’s perspective” it appears that there is hair on my head, but in actuality there is no hair on my head, then God is deceived about the truth. Likewise, if “from God’s perspective” we are internally without sin, but “in actuality” we are internally sinful, then God is deceived about the truth. If your rejoinder is that God is not deceived, even though He doesn’t see reality as it actually is, then if God were *actually* deceived about reality, how would the situation be any different?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  167. Hugh–

    Of course Trent doesn’t teach simul justus et peccator. I was being facetious. Read what I wrote kind of like this:

    “Oh, I see. You two must think Trent teaches the simultaneity of justification and sinfulness. Oh, my goodness! Not really!! Really? Jeepers, Luther would have gotten a good laugh out of you both.”

    Make more sense now?

    Luther’s analogy works just fine if he were referencing progressive sanctification. Unfortunately, there’s no way for us to check. In spite of the “snow-covered dung” being a favorite Catholic quotation of Luther, Dave Armstrong was not able to track it down. As far as we know, Luther never said it.

    In the meantime, here’s one of the Murray sources I used:

    http://www.the-highway.com/definitive-sanctification_Murray.html

    Trent reiterates the old error that we must be made just in order to be considered justified. We cannot be simply declared just. I side with the Protestants on this.

    Now, even you would not agree that things stop right there, that the mere legal declaration of our innocence (in spite of plenteous evidence to the contrary) is enough; for a mere legal fiction doesn’t suffice. Predestination is followed by calling is followed by justification is followed by glorification. God’s intention IS that we be made righteous through and through, not simply be declared as such. In regeneration we are given the down payment of this.

    Some Protestants react too strongly (in order to stay as far as possible from Catholic soteriology). For them the declaration is everything. Regeneration brings about no great transformation. We are changed in name only. We remain totally depraved. They often also become Antinomian in their view of sanctification. To their minds, works are almost evil.

    But if we have been–past tense– inalterably justified, we need no longer worry about being tempted to boast in our efforts. Grace has already won the day. We can do nothing to improve upon Jesus’ cross work. We are set free to work simply for the sheer joy of praising our God.

    As Luther said:

    “All the justified could glory in their works, if they would attribute glory to God with respect to themselves. In this manner their works would not be dung, but ornaments.” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 34, page 178)

    For we are God’s workmanship, created for good works in Christ Jesus. We bring nothing to the work of salvation. But once we are regenerated, the “new creature” we become–born from above, born of God–is perfect. How could it be differently? Why would God re-create us imperfectly?

    This is definitive sanctification. We were dead in our sin, dormant seeds sound asleep in the dirt, until the trumpet of Christ’s gospel called us forth to newness of life. Seedlings sprout, and in that sprout is the whole plant in nascent form. Giant oaks from tiny acorns, as it were.

  168. Nay, Bryan,

    Of course, God is not deceived, but rather he calleth those things which be not as though they were!*

    He speaks the judicial truth. We are called righteous. But we’re not quite, are we?

    God sees & speaks eschatologically. We are not physically in heaven, yet the inspired apostle says we are there now (Eph. 2:6); we’re not dead, but Paul says we are (Rom. 6:2; Col. 3:3).

    God justifies the wicked, man. You know the Scriptures:

    Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.’ {Rom. 4:3-8}

    I know this sola fide stuff (imputed righteousness and all that) is sticking point #1 for you and me, and it won’t change. But your sarcastic caricature of God being “deceived” is, well, just goofy.

    Praying for you,
    Hugh

    * From Romans 4:16-18 ~ Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (as it is written, ‘I have made thee a father of many nations,’) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, ‘So shall thy seed be.’

  169. Hugh, (re: #168)

    You wrote:

    Of course, God is not deceived, but rather he calleth those things which be not as though they were!*

    One should be cautious in building one’s theology of simul iustus et peccator on a tenuous interpretation of this verse, as though it means that God can say that a person is presently righteousness even though that person is not presently righteous. The verse does not mean that God can say that a person is now x, and that person simultaneously be not x. Otherwise the verse would be implying that God could speak falsely. If God says that a person is now x, then at that moment either that person is (and already was) x, or at that moment that person becomes x. Likewise, if God says unconditionally that a person will be x, then that person will be x. And that is what the verse is about: God’s ability to speak definitively in the present about future events. It is not saying that God can say that an event that is actually future has already occurred, but rather that God both perfectly knows the future, and can speak of the future with the certainty and definitiveness with which one speaks of past events.

    He speaks the judicial truth. We are called righteous. But we’re not quite, are we?

    That’s the Protestant paradigm. In the Catholic paradigm, God calls us righteous because He has truly made us righteous, through baptism. See the “Imputation and Paradigms” post.

    God sees & speaks eschatologically.

    I agree, but see the last paragraph in comment #115 above. That does not mean that God can speak falsely about the present, but only that He can speak definitively about the future.

    We are not physically in heaven, yet the inspired apostle says we are there now (Eph. 2:6);

    Your interpretation of this verse makes both St. Paul and the Holy Spirit (who inspired him) to be speaking a falsehood. We on earth are not ourselves in heaven now. The meaning of the verse is that Christ took with Him human nature (which we share with Him), when He ascended (today’s feast!). And because we are joined with Him through baptism, therefore through the Church (which is His Mystical Body) we are already in heaven with Him through His being there and through our union with Him. But that is not the same as our being there directly. St. Paul is not speaking falsely.

    we’re not dead, but Paul says we are (Rom. 6:2; Col. 3:3).

    In Romans 6:2, St. Paul says, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” If we are in a state of grace, then in actuality we *have* died to sin. St. Paul is not speaking falsely, but telling the truth. Likewise, in Col. 3:3 he says, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” And his meaning there is that we have died to sin, as he explains in Col 3:5. And that is true. We really have died to sin. So again, he is not speaking a falsehood.

    God justifies the wicked, man.

    God justifies the wicked man by making him truly just. He doesn’t say that a person who is actually wicked is “just.” That would be speaking falsely.

    If you don’t realize that God, who is Truth, cannot speak falsehood, then you will interpret verses in ways that make God out to speak falsely. And so error compounds upon error. I am thankful for your prayers. May God bless you as well.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  170. Eirik,

    Thanks for the clarification! Yet I still think you’re misreading Murray’s Def. Sanc. article. It is a glorious corrective to West. standards and standard Reformed (Continental, Baptist, what-have-you) that focus (nearly?) exclusively on progressive sanctification.

    Of course, “God’s intention IS that we be made righteous through and through, not simply be declared as such.” But this is not actually realized until glory. The Orthos call it deification. Cute, but dangerous.

    You add, “In regeneration we are given the down payment of this;” OK, but you later veer Trent-ward: “once we are regenerated, the “new creature” we become–born from above, born of God–is perfect. How could it be differently? Why would God re-create us imperfectly?”

    Yikes!

    “This is definitive sanctification. We were dead in our sin, dormant seeds sound asleep in the dirt, until the trumpet of Christ’s gospel called us forth to newness of life. Seedlings sprout, and in that sprout is the whole plant in nascent form. Giant oaks from tiny acorns, as it were.”

    This is NOT definitive sanctification. Read Murray. Better yet, mull over the texts he cites.

    1 Cor. 1:30f But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

    6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

    Heb 10:10 we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    10:14 by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

    All is the work of Christ on our behalf; it’s all imputed. Yes, there is progressive growth in outward holiness for the believer. But definitive means done once by Christ for his elect.

  171. Bryan,

    Classic disagreement ‘twixt our tribes. Good retort. But for….

    Bryan: One should be cautious in building one’s theology of simul iustus et peccator on a tenuous interpretation of this verse…

    Hugh: Agreed. It is merely illustrative, not definitive.

    Hugh: God sees & speaks eschatologically.

    Bryan: I agree, but see the last paragraph in comment #115 above. That does not mean that God can speak falsely about the present, but only that He can speak definitively about the future.

    There Bryan said in part: “it is fine to say that in the Reformed paradigm God can presently see what we will be in glory, and can presently see the righteousness that will be in the elect in glory.”

    Hugh: I can agree with this. I do not follow Eirik on this, BTW.

    Hugh: On Eph. 2:6, we’re saying the same thing, but you’re bent on making me out to be one who paints God as a liar. Not so, but there you are.

    Hugh: We are not physically in heaven, yet the inspired apostle says we are there now (Eph. 2:6)…

    Bryan: Your interpretation of this verse makes both St. Paul and the Holy Spirit (who inspired him) to be speaking a falsehood. We on earth are not ourselves in heaven now. The meaning of the verse is that Christ took with Him human nature (which we share with Him), when He ascended (today’s feast!). And because we are joined with Him through baptism, therefore through the Church (which is His Mystical Body) we are already in heaven with Him through His being there and through our union with Him. But that is not the same as our being there directly. St. Paul is not speaking falsely.”

    Hugh: Agreed with all but sentence one – why accuse me of making St Paul and the Ghost liars?

    Hugh: we’re not dead, but Paul says we are (Rom. 6:2; Col. 3:3).

    Bryan: In Romans 6:2, St. Paul says, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” If we are in a state of grace, then in actuality we *have* died to sin. St. Paul is not speaking falsely, but telling the truth. Likewise, in Col. 3:3 he says, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” And his meaning there is that we have died to sin, as he explains in Col 3:5. And that is true. We really have died to sin. So again, he is not speaking a falsehood.

    Hugh: Agreed 100%.

    Hugh: God justifies the wicked, man.

    Bryan: God justifies the wicked man by making him truly just. He doesn’t say that a person who is actually wicked is “just.” That would be speaking falsely.

    Hugh: Disagree. The heart of the matter. (Pun intended.) But I won’t go ’round the mulberry bush with you again; you’ve well-stated our position in your article above and elswhere.

    Bryan: If you don’t realize that God, who is Truth, cannot speak falsehood, then you will interpret verses in ways that make God out to speak falsely…

    Hugh: This is again unnecessary. I have not done that which you accuse me of. God calls us righteous for he sees us in his Son, just as he sees us in heaven, dead to sin, etc. These are not fictions, he is not lying.

    He has ascended, indeed! Hallelujah!
    Our texts: Acts 1:1-11, Mark 16:14-end.

  172. Hugh, (re: #171)

    You wrote:

    God calls us righteous for he sees us in his Son, just as he sees us in heaven, dead to sin, etc. These are not fictions, he is not lying.

    If you agree that (1) God is not deceived, and does not speak falsely (from comment #171), and you believe (2) that “we’re not quite [righteous], are we?” (from comment #168), and you believe that (3) “God calls us righteous,” (from #comment #171) then you must either be equivocating on the word ‘righteous,’ or when you say “God calls us righteous” what you really mean is that God now speaks truly when He says that in the future we will be righteous.

    Otherwise, you would be holding an incoherent and self-contradictory position in which God does not speak falsely, He says we are now righteous, and yet we are not now righteous.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  173. Bryan,

    Yes, yes, and nearly yes. God who cannot lie calls us righteous b/c [1] we are in Christ Jesus who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

    We have been washed, sanctified, & justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God; some “already” aspects of our redemption.

    Thus, in Him we are wholly holy, righteous, wise, redeemed, justified, washed, what we term definitively sanctified. (Please see excellent Murray article linked in #167.)

    Further, [2] God also speaks proleptically: when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. {I John 3:2} As I said, our Ortho’x pals call it deification. Paul wrote of striving to be found in him (Phil.3:9), the not-yet aspect of our life in Christ.

    But even this glorification, Paul can say is a done, past-tense deal: God foreknew us, predestined us, calls us, justified us, and glorified us ~ Romans 8:30. Not actually, physically (yet), but in principle. What God says is done is done.

    Finally, I agree with you and would likewise argue that praying the Lord’s Prayer is incompatible with the Reformed notion that all our past, present, and future sins are already forgiven. Amen and amen!

    Thank you,
    Hugh

    He has ascended indeed!
    Hallelujah!

  174. God does not speak falsely, He says we are now righteous, and yet we are not now righteous.

    ~ Bryan Cross.

    We are not yet what we shall be (completely righteous), but we grow in this sanctification, progressively.

    We are not yet what we shall be (completely righteous), but God calls us completely righteous in his Son. This is the Protestant doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ to his people.

  175. Hugh, (re: #173)

    In order to make progress here, when I raise a problem for your position, you need to address that problem, or at least acknowledge that you will address it.

    Here’s the problem, again that I explained in #172:

    If you agree that (1) God is not deceived, and does not speak falsely (from comment #171), and you believe (2) that “we’re not quite [righteous], are we?” (from comment #168), and you believe that (3) “God calls us righteous,” (from #comment #171) then you must either be equivocating on the word ‘righteous,’ or when you say “God calls us righteous” what you really mean is that God now speaks truly when He says that in the future we will be righteous.

    So, which of those two implications is the one you embrace?

    Then in #174 you wrote:

    We are not yet what we shall be (completely righteous), but God calls us completely righteous in his Son

    Again, if you agree that God cannot speak falsely, then either you are equivocating on the term “completely righteous” here, or what you mean when you say “God calls us completely righteous in His Son” is “God says that we will be righteous in the future.” Which is it?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  176. Hi Hugh, Bryan,

    I can see where Bryan is coming from. This “Protestant doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ to his people” expressed thus…

    “We are not yet what we shall be (completely righteous), but God calls us completely righteous in his Son.”

    …sounds like a flat-out contradiction to the average non-theologian (I am both!).

    Christians, thank God, are not all theologians :) and I hope that some of educated laymen would be able to express concern about the “existential” effect of statements like:

    “God calls us righteous for he sees us in his Son, just as he sees us in heaven, dead to sin, etc. These are not fictions, he is not lying.”

    This can have only 2 practical consequences for someone who tries to apply it in life:

    1. Relativising the Christian announcement: it basically means that all people have been saved “objectively” and so there is no need to “do” anything, neither preach the Gospel, pray or do good works, or even go to Church… this could be called the “courageous” option as in practice it means giving up the “pretence” of being a Christian.

    2. Relativising the consequences of Christianity: this is more dangerous, really, because it means “glossing over” anything that doesn’t fit with our awareness of “being saved”; our own sins, those of our Christian group, cultural or personal expressions of humanity in other religions…

    I say this as someone who converted in an Evangelical / Pentecostal context, and only later (significantly, after considerable Bible study) became Catholic – I have no particular “investment” in either side, theologically; only existentially :)

  177. Bryan @175,

    I apologize if I am unclear in #173, above. I am happy to restate it.

    You say: If you agree that (1) God is not deceived, and does not speak falsely (from comment #171), and you believe (2) that “we’re not quite [righteous], are we?” (from comment #168), and you believe that (3) “God calls us righteous,” (from #comment #171) then you must either be equivocating on the word ‘righteous,’ or when you say “God calls us righteous” what you really mean is that God now speaks truly when He says that in the future we will be righteous.
    So, which of those two implications is the one you embrace?

    I said, Yes, yes, and nearly yes. That meant that I agree with your premises (1) & (2), and with almost all of (3). Please reread post #173.

    I am saying that in Christ, believers are already wholly holy – definitively sanctified. This, b/c we are accounted righteous, wise, redeemed, justified, &tc. This is imputation. It is not a fiction; God is not lying; he is calling us as he sees us: Completely righteous and holy in the Son. Is that clear? Please let me know where I am failing to communicate clearly.

    However, we are not yet what we shall actually be: Essentially & completely righteous experientially by virtue of the complete renovation of our then ex-sinful selves by God the Holy Spirit.

    You say: Again, if you agree that God cannot speak falsely, then either you are equivocating on the term “completely righteous” here, or what you mean when you say “God calls us completely righteous in His Son” is “God says that we will be righteous in the future.” Which is it?

    I have been unclear. I apologize. We are accounted/ reckoned completely righteous & sanctified in the Son: His righteousness & holiness are imputed to us. Like glorification, Paul speaks of these as *done* for us in Christ.

    But, God also speaks proleptically: when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. ~ I John 3:2. Is this not clear? (My point,that is. Surely St John is claear!)

    You are no doubt familiar with the already/ not yet distinctions in Reformed circles. But I have failed to get my points across. Help me help you. I do not want to confuse or obfuscate in the least.

    Back to your complaints: Per your (3) ~ God calls & sees us as being completely righteous & holy in his Son. (Imputed righteousness – real, though alien. Definitive sanctification. Done once for all his elect in the Son.)

    And, per your (2) ~ We are not completely righteous & holy in ourselves. Not yet, anyway. (We grow is this actual, outward righteousness & holiness – progressive sanctification – in this life, but it is incomplete until the consummation.)

    Thanks,
    Hugh

  178. Hugh, (re: #177)

    You wrote:

    Please let me know where I am failing to communicate clearly.

    You still have not stated “which of those two implications is the one you embrace?”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  179. Hi, Michael @176,

    Please let me know if I have succeeded at clarity in post #177. I want no contradictions!

    As to your thoughtful “2 practical consequences” –

    [1] We need to beware of this Antinominism for sure. Ephesians 2:8-10 are the necessary Pauline corrective & balance: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    [2] Too true, too!

    Hugh

  180. Bryan,

    I embrace the facts as I’ve repeatedly laid them out in my posts spanning #s 165-179.

    When God calls us righteous, he means that both of these are true:

    [a] Imputed complete present holiness & righteousness are true FOR us; they are ours by proxy.* ["God calls & sees us as being completely righteous & holy in his Son."]

    And, [b] Actual complete future holiness & righteousness will be true IN us; they will be ours experientially.** ["He says that in the future we will be righteous."]

    Hugh

    * Credited/ imputed/ reckoned us in Christ. By virtue of Christ’s virtues alone.
    ** Experiential in the glory.

  181. Hugh, (re: #180)

    There cannot be any progress between us until you’re willing to address the problem I presented with your position. In #172 I pointed out a problem in your position that leads to one of two implications. So far you have merely danced around the question, failing to state which of the two implications you embrace. And that suggests that you’re not ready for or intending to engage in genuine dialogue, in which we face squarely the problems with our respective positions. CTC is for genuine dialogue, nothing less.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  182. Bryan,

    I am not trying to avoid your questions. I have honestly attempted to answer you many times now. I am seriously trying to dialogue and get my points across, but I do not understand where I am failing.

    Please do not denigrate my intellect or insinuate duplicity in me: That I am “not ready for or intending to engage in genuine dialogue” — this doesn’t facilitate our discussions, either.

    Please, Bryan, I am honestly NOT trying to obfuscate here. Could we ask a Sean Patrick or a David Anders, or another @ CTC to read our arguments? Perhaps some fresh eyes would help.

    As to your issue:

    If you agree that (1) God is not deceived, and does not speak falsely (from comment #171), and you believe (2) that “we’re not quite [righteous], are we?” (from comment #168), and you believe that (3) “God calls us righteous,” (from #comment #171) then you must either be equivocating on the word ‘righteous,’ or when you say “God calls us righteous” what you really mean is that God now speaks truly when He says that in the future we will be righteous.
    So, which of those two implications is the one you embrace?

    I have agreed with your #s 1 & 2.

    #1 means that God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us. So he is not speaking falsely. That is how he is not deceived or speaking falsely.

    Is that OK? (I know you don’t agree with the doctrine, but do you understand what I am saying?)

    #2 means that experientially we are not entirely holy through and through. We’re not quite (entirely) righteous, are we? (Again, please, though you disagree with me, do you understand what I am asserting?)

    #3a – If you must call it equivocation, so be it. God calls us righteous (& credits us as being wholly holy) in Christ.

    #3b means that God also is working in us to [increasingly] will and do of his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). Which, in the future glory, will be entire & experiential.

    Please help me understand where we’re failing to understand each other.

    Thanks,
    Hugh

  183. Bryan,

    In the interests of accuracy and genuine dialogue, would you please address my concerns in my post #162? If I missed your response, please forgive me and point me to it, if you would.

    Otherwise,

    Please correct this erroneous 1st sentence in your 5th paragraph: “One problem with this doctrine is that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins.”

    And this 4th sentence found in paragraph one: “When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask daily for the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  184. Hugh, (re: #182)

    I am not trying to avoid your questions. I have honestly attempted to answer you many times now. I am seriously trying to dialogue and get my points across, but I do not understand where I am failing.

    You are failing to answer my question in #172, which is very simple: “Which of those two implications is the one you embrace?” And those two implications are: (a) you are equivocating on the word ‘righteous,’ or (b) when you say “God calls us righteous” what you really mean is that God now speaks truly when He says that in the future we will be righteous.

    So which is it: (a), or (b)?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  185. Bryan @ 184,

    (a) If you must call it equivocation, so be it. But I do not consider it technically an equivocation.

    God calls/names us, and accounts/considers us completely righteous in Christ. That is imputed righteousness.

    (b) Also, “God is working in us to [increasingly] will and do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Which, in the future glory, will be entire & complete. That is experiential or personal righteousness.

    Thanks,
    Hugh

    In (a), God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us. So he is not speaking falsely. That is how he is not deceived or speaking falsely.

    (b) means that experientially we are not entirely holy through and through. We’re not yet (entirely) righteous, are we?

  186. Hugh, (re: #162)

    You wrote:

    You erroneously claim in your article above, “that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins.” This is untrue.

    Those are mere unsubstantiated assertions.

    It’s not directly from our Lord, for in neither Matthew 6 nor in Luke 11 do we find Jesus telling us to pray “the Lord’s Prayer” *daily.*

    Here you use the sola scriptura paradigm, which begs the question against the Catholic paradigm, which is informed by the Tradition, as I explained in the “Scripture and Tradition” section of my reply to Horton.

    You appear in your first paragraph to have invalidly inferred this: “When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask *daily* for the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

    The question is not appearances, but actuality. I didn’t infer my position merely from Scripture, but from Scripture as understood through the Tradition, according to which this is to be a daily prayer.

    You now direct me to your comments # 5, 14, 18, & 26. These do not prove your assertion that “that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins,”

    True, my intention in those comments was not to show the patristic warrant for praying it daily, but for praying it in the New Covenant era.

    nor even that this is the consensus of the Fathers.

    Actually it is. This is precisely why the Lord’s Prayer is part of the daily liturgy. Here are just four examples, and there are many more:

    St. Cyprian of Carthage:

    After this we say, Hallowed be Your name; not that we wish for God that He may be hallowed by our prayers, but that we beseech of Him that His name may be hallowed in us. But by whom is God sanctified, since He Himself sanctifies? Well, because He says, Be holy, even as I am holy, Leviticus 20:7 we ask and entreat, that we who were sanctified in baptism may continue in that which we have begun to be. And this we daily pray for; for we have need of daily sanctification, that we who daily fall away may wash out our sins by continual sanctification. (Treatise 4)

    St. John Cassian

    For where it says daily it shows that without it we cannot live a spiritual life for a single day. Where it says today it shows that it must be received daily and that yesterday’s supply of it is not enough, but at it must be given to us today also in like manner. And our daily need of it suggests to us that we ought at all times to offer up this prayer, because there is no day on which we have no need to strengthen the heart of our inner man, by eating and receiving it, (Conference 9.21)

    St. Jerome

    Our Lord so instructed His Apostles that, daily at the sacrifice of His body, believers make bold to say, Our Father, Which art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name; they earnestly desire the name of God, which in itself is holy, to be hallowed in themselves;… (Against the Pelagians III.15)

    St. John Chrysostom

    How then? says one, did He not bid us ask for bread? Nay, He added, daily, and to this again, this day, which same thing in fact He does here also. For He said not, Take no thought, but, Take no thought for the morrow, at the same time both affording us liberty, and fastening our soul on those things that are more necessary to us. For to this end also He bade us ask even those, not as though God needed reminding by us, but that we might learn that by His help we accomplish whatever we do accomplish, and that we might be made more His own by our continual prayer for these things. (Homily 22 on Matthew)

    You wrote:

    The Didache reports more-than-daily prayer (as *should* be): “Thrice in the day thus pray.” = 3x daily, not daily (1x daily).

    Right, but now you are misconstruing what I said, as though Christ intended that we pray this prayer *only* once a day. I said no such thing.

    Please correct this erroneous 1st sentence in your 5th paragraph: “One problem with this doctrine is that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins.” And this 4th sentence found in paragraph one: “When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask daily for the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

    Again, your claim that my statements are “erroneous” is a mere unsubstantiated assertion, and question-begging, for the reasons I just explained.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  187. Hugh (re: #185)

    You wrote many words, but failed to say which is it, (a), or (b).

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  188. Bryan @ 187,
    How is it equivocal to say that God calls / accounts us justfied in Christ?
    But as I’ve said twice earlier, if you want to call it such, OK.
    Thus, (a) is “true.”
    But it is also true –& we’d agree– that, (b), God progressively sanctifies us through our Christian lives.
    You present a false dilemma; it isn’t necessarily either/ or.
    Sorry,
    Hugh

  189. Hugh (re: #188)

    How is it equivocal to say that God calls / accounts us justfied in Christ?

    I never said it is equivocal to say that God calls us justified in Christ. If you don’t know what the term ‘equivocate’ means, then this could explain why it is so difficult for you to answer the question I asked you in #172. Here are the three propositions you affirm.

    Proposition 1: God is not deceived, and does not speak falsely and does not contradict Himself.
    Proposition 2: We’re not righteous.
    Proposition 3: God calls us righteous.

    In order to harmonize those three propositions, it must be the case that either (a) you are not using the term ‘righteous’ in Proposition 2 in the same sense as you are using it in Proposition 3, or (b) when you say “God calls us righteous” what you really mean is that God now speaks truly when He says that in the future we will be righteous. So I asked you, which is your answer: (a), or (b)?

    You present a false dilemma; it isn’t necessarily either/ or.

    So, to clarify, is your answer: (a) and (b)?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  190. Bryan (re: #186)

    Before you dismiss my points, please understand them. There are two issues here, so I will first address the Scriptural in part one.

    This is incorrect: “Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins.” He said in Matthew

    And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

    But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

    In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.~ Jesus does not here enjoin us to pray daily for forgiveness.

    Jesus enjoins his hearers to pray for the forgiveness of their sins, but he doesn’t indicate the frequency.

    Bryan, you referred only to the Scriptures when you said,

    “One problem with this doctrine is that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins.”

    Also here:

    “When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask daily for the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

    You (not I) limited yourself to Scripture, specifically the Lord’s prayer, in your assertions. He didn’t indicate how often one was to pray (merely, “when you pray”), nor, obviously then, how often one is to ask forgiveness.

    Please own up to your two misstatements.
    End of part one.
    Thanks,
    Hugh

  191. Hugh, (re: #190)

    You wrote:

    This is incorrect: “Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins.” … Jesus enjoins his hearers to pray for the forgiveness of their sins, but he doesn’t indicate the frequency. Bryan, you referred only to the Scriptures when you said, … You (not I) limited yourself to Scripture, specifically the Lord’s prayer, in your assertions. He didn’t indicate how often one was to pray (merely, “when you pray”), nor, obviously then, how often one is to ask forgiveness.

    Once again, as I explained in #186, I’m working in the Catholic paradigm, within which Scripture is approached and understood in the light of Tradition. You are treating my words (just cited) as though I am working in the sola scriptura paradigm, and thus claiming that I’m in error because my conclusion does not follow by logical deduction from the Scripture alone. I am not working in the sola scriptura paradigm, however, but in the Catholic paradigm. And in the Catholic paradigm in which Scripture is understood in light of Tradition, Jesus *is* teaching here that we are to pray this prayer daily. So your objection is question-begging (i.e. presupposes the Protestant paradigm), as I explained in #186.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  192. Hugh, (re: #191)

    You could respond by saying that if I’m relying in any way on the patristic witness, to make my argument in this post, then I’m begging the question against the Protestant paradigm. But first, the Protestants to whom I intend to be speaking are those who seek to take the patristic testimony seriously and who reject “solo scriptura” even if they don’t agree that sola scriptura collapses into “solo scriptura.” And all I need, for my argument, is a patristic consensus or practice of praying the Lord’s Prayer even *once* in a lifetime, after regeneration. My argument does not depend on a patristic consensus that the prayer is to be prayed daily. Even if the Church Fathers believed it was to be prayed once a week, or once a year, or just one time after justification, that’s enough to show that they didn’t believe that all future sins are already forgiven at justification. So the only alternative, for the Protestant who wants to retain his belief that all future sins are forgiven at the moment of justification, is to posit that the Church Fathers (and indeed the whole Church, until at least 1500 years later) got this one wrong. In other words, one must fall back upon ecclesial deism and de facto “solo scriptura.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  193. Bryan and Hugh–

    First off, Bryan: to us Protestants, you seem to be equivocating when you declare that venial sin is compatible with perfect righteousness. We want to say, which is it? Are you perfectly righteous or are you still sinning? You cannot be both!

    Hugh, you said:

    “I am saying that in Christ, believers are already wholly holy – definitively sanctified.

    This really all I was saying when you accused me of being Tridentine!

    However, I was reminding you that imputation precedes mystical union with Christ. Our “being wholly holy” is not mere declaration / mere imputation. We are indeed infused with the spiritual benefits of union. Much as Roman Catholics are infused with agape.

    I believe the principal difference between us (Geneva and Rome) is the permanence as opposed to impermanence of initial justification. It is this impermanence which leads Rome into a de facto “works righteousness,” for their adherents are handed the responsibility of remaining in God’s good graces through their own (assisted) efforts. Both sets of believers are “made righteous,” both instantaneously and progressively. (Hugh doesn’t agree with this last instantaneity of inherent righteousness by regeneration. How would you say we are affected by regeneration in terms of internal righteousness, Hugh? Are we affected at all?)

    Bryan–

    Why are you subjecting mystical truths to earthly logic? In transubstantiation, the incarnate Christ is locally present in heaven and locally present in the transformed bread and wine. In consubstantiation, the incarnate Christ remains in heaven but his glorified flesh takes on the trait of omnipresence (ubuiquity), allowing him to be both in heaven and on earth at the same time. In other words, for Catholics, he is mystically present in two places at one time and for Lutherans, he stretches himself from heaven to be among us. For sacramental Calvinists (so many have become virtual memorialists, contra Calvin), we are mystically transported during the Eucharist to heaven to feast on the Incarnate Christ, who is locally present there and there alone. In other words, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we ourselves are stretched to heaven.

    1. For Catholics, Christ is in two places at one time, not exactly logical.
    2. For Lutherans, Christ is Incarnate and omnipresent at the same time, not exactly logical.
    3. For Presbyterians, Christians are in two places at one time, not exactly logical.

    The only “logical” ones are the memorialists! (Of course, they ignore both Scripture and Tradition to do so.)

    So anyway, hairs are not sins. God may see our sinfulness in a much different way than some thorough Christian psychologist or counselor listing them all off one by one. They could indeed be gone in a heavenly sense while still showing up in an earthly sense.

    We Reformed like to hold these things in tension as an antinomy: as already but not yet. We are already sinless (through imputation and regeneration) in terms of definitive sanctification. We are improving (through the benefits of union with Christ, his grace and love and truth), but are nonetheless not yet sinless in terms of progressive sanctification.

    No one but no one has a biblical faith which in all its details makes perfect logical sense.

  194. Eirik, (re: #193)

    You wrote:

    First off, Bryan: to us Protestants, you seem to be equivocating when you declare that venial sin is compatible with perfect righteousness. We want to say, which is it? Are you perfectly righteous or are you still sinning? You cannot be both!

    That’s a good objection, and I’ve addressed it in the article (and subsequent comments) titled “Why John Calvin did not Recognize the Distinction between Mortal and Venial Sin.” If you want to discuss that subject, I suggest doing so under that post.

    Why are you subjecting mystical truths to earthly logic?

    If you are including the law of non-contradiction in “earthly logic” then which theological truths do you think are not subject to this law?

    In transubstantiation, the incarnate Christ is locally present in heaven and locally present in the transformed bread and wine. …In other words, for Catholics, he is mystically present in two places at one time

    But not in the same sense, and therefore not in violation of the law of non-contradiction. See the last paragraph in comment #24 of the “Augustine on Adam’s Body and Christ’s Body” post.

    God may see our sinfulness in a much different way than some thorough Christian psychologist or counselor listing them all off one by one. They could indeed be gone in a heavenly sense while still showing up in an earthly sense.

    Sure. But that’s fully compatible with everything I’ve said.

    We Reformed like to hold these things in tension as an antinomy: as already but not yet.

    Tensions and such are fine; contradictions are not. E.g. “God always tells the truth, and God sometimes speaks falsehoods.”

    No one but no one has a biblical faith which in all its details makes perfect logical sense.

    Feel free to find one (even one) contradiction in Catholic doctrine.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  195. Bryan @191 –

    Bryan: Once again, as I explained in #186, I’m working in the Catholic paradigm, within which Scripture is approached and understood in the light of Tradition.

    Hugh: That would have been fine if you’d not said: “When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask daily for the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

    Bryan: You are treating my words (just cited) as though I am working in the sola scriptura paradigm, and thus claiming that I’m in error because my conclusion does not follow by logical deduction from the Scripture alone.

    Hugh: Only, b/c you limited yourself to such by saying: “One problem with this doctrine is that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins.”

    And, “When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask daily for the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

    You referred only to the Scriptures, the Lord’s prayer, specifically. Not other texts, not tradition, etc. You seem to utterly miss my point. I know you read the Bible on a par with or through tradition, but what you actually said is literally untrue.

    Bryan: I am not working in the sola scriptura paradigm, however, but in the Catholic paradigm. And in the Catholic paradigm in which Scripture is understood in light of Tradition, Jesus *is* teaching here that we are to pray this prayer daily. So your objection is question-begging (i.e. presupposes the Protestant paradigm), as I explained in #186.

    Hugh: I know you aren’t, but then you should not specifyWhen Christ taught us to pray,” or, “Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer.”

    You cannot now say that when you wrote “When Christ taught us to pray,” or, “Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer,” REALLY MEANS “understood in light of Tradition.” That should be just silly, even to a Catholic.

    I know you interpret Scripture through tradition. But it’s not legit to say that Jesus said something he did not.
    You didn’t even say that he *meant* such-and-such. You twice wrote that he said such-and-such. Which he did not.

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  196. Eirik @193,

    Hugh: “I am saying that in Christ, believers are already wholly holy – definitively sanctified.”

    This should say that “in Christ, believers are declared/ reckoned to be wholly holy – definitively sanctified.” Thank you for showing me my error.

    Our “being wholly holy” *IS* mere declaration / mere imputation.

    Believers are indeed given the Holy Spirit but not in any sense as their definitive sanctification.

    Thanks,
    Hugh

  197. Bryan @189,

    Proposition 1: God is not deceived, and does not speak falsely and does not contradict Himself. Affirmed!
    Proposition 2: We’re not righteous. Affirmed!
    Proposition 3: God calls us righteous. Affirmed!

    In order to harmonize those three propositions, it must be the case that either (a) you are not using the term ‘righteous’ in Proposition 2 in the same sense as you are using it in Proposition 3, or (b) when you say “God calls us righteous” what you really mean is that God now speaks truly when He says that in the future we will be righteous. . .

    So, to clarify, is your answer: (a) and (b)? Affirmed!

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  198. Hugh, (re: #195)

    You wrote:

    You cannot now say that when you wrote “When Christ taught us to pray,” or, “Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer,” REALLY MEANS “understood in light of Tradition.” That should be just silly, even to a Catholic.

    No, that’s exactly what I meant. It seems “silly” to you because, apparently, you’re not that familiar with the Catholic paradigm.

    I know you interpret Scripture through tradition. But it’s not legit to say that Jesus said something he did not.

    True. But if we are referring to the meaning, and not the exact words (which we signify by using quotation marks), and the meaning is determined by the light of Tradition, then it is “legit” to say that Jesus said what the Tradition teaches Jesus meant by a passage.

    I think this rabbit trail has run its course.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  199. Bryan @186 {Part 2, Patristic follow-up to my #190}

    You directed me to your comments # 5, 14, 18, & 26. It would have saved us a lot of time had you simply pointed me to your comment (in #18): “All the Church Fathers believed this, and taught it, namely, that the Lord’s Prayer is something that we (in the Church) are to pray daily.” And explained that the fathers prayed the liturgy daily, wherein they included the Lord’s prayer. The quotes you gave were not helpful unless one already knew the liturgical history you assumed. This did not help your case, as I stated in #182.

    In #14, you claim that Augustine “is teaching that praying daily for God to forgive us our sins is for venial sins,” yet in none of the three quotes you offered is this found.
    ~ If I missing it, or if you forgot to include it, please show me.

    In #18, you say: “St. Augustine refers to the Lord’s Prayer in many places in his works, always teaching it as obviously something that believers pray daily, and ought to pray daily.
    ~ Where, please?

    Of the Didache: You quoted it in your post #26. It says in part, “Thrice in the day thus pray.”

    I replied: The Didache reports more-than-daily prayer (as *should* be): “Thrice in the day thus pray.” = 3x daily, not daily (1x daily).

    Now you say, “Right, but now you are misconstruing what I said, as though Christ intended that we pray this prayer *only* once a day. I said no such thing.”

    But you had claimed that Jesus instructed us to pray daily. [Daily means once a day, right?] You did not indicate anything other than once-a-day-praying of the Lord’s Prayer. Again, you have been seriously less than clear. Thank you,
    Hugh

  200. Bryan @ 198,

    Bryan: “… if we are referring to the meaning, and not the exact words (which we signify by using quotation marks)”…

    Hugh: What else was I to have understood you to have meant?! And how?

    So, just to be clear (and not misunderstand you in the least*) – when you wrote this:

    “When Christ taught us to pray, He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask daily for the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

    We should all understand it to mean this: “When Christ taught us to pray (rightly understood only in light of church tradition and the liturgical practices of the fathers), He prescribed a daily prayer in which we not only ask for our daily bread, but we also ask daily for the forgiveness of our trespasses.”???

    And when you write this: “One problem with this doctrine is that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins,”

    we should have understood you to mean: “One problem with this doctrine is that Christ enjoins us in the Lord’s Prayer (which is rightly understood only in light of church tradition and the liturgical practices of the fathers)to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins.”???

    I am serious, b/c that’s what I read you as saying.

    Thanks,
    Hugh
    *B/c this surely impacts how we are to read your writings!

  201. Hugh, (re: #197)

    You wrote:

    So, to clarify, is your answer: (a) and (b)? Affirmed!

    Ok, that makes progress possible. So now we can back to what you said in #165. There, in response to my explanation to Christie that if all our future *sins* (and not just the guilt and punishment for those sins) have already been transferred to Christ, then we would never sin again, you wrote:

    Cute, but it’s not effective or valid. In your analogy, from God’s perspective, such is true: We are shiny & smooth chrome domes; no sins (hairs) are reckoned to us! But in actuality, we daily grow shaggy (sin), outwardly looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family.

    There you affirmed that simultaneously we are “in actuality” sinful, and “from God’s perspective” we are righteous. And from this simultaneously-sinful-and-righteous possibility, you claimed that just because all our future sin has been transferred to Christ, it does not follow that we would never again sin.

    Now it turns out, given your “Affirmed” in #197, that what you were affirming back in #165 is that we are presently righteousness only extrinsically, not intrinsically or internally in our hearts. In our hearts we are presently sinful.

    And that state of affairs of being extrinsically righteous but internally unrighteous, though problematic for other reasons, is fully compatible with the argument I provided in #158.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  202. Hugh (re: #199/200)

    Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to dig up the St. Augustine quotations on this. He discusses it in many places. You wrote:

    But you had claimed that Jesus instructed us to pray daily. [Daily means once a day, right?] You did not indicate anything other than once-a-day-praying of the Lord’s Prayer.

    No, in the context of enjoined prayer, “daily” does not mean “*only* once a day,” as though praying it more than once a day violates the injunction, just as “daily bread” does not mean we are allowed to eat bread only *once* a day.

    I’m going to close down the frequency debate rabbit trail.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  203. Bryan @202,

    You said in #158:

    Replace the word ‘sins’ with ‘hairs.’* If all my past, present, and future hairs have already been transferred to someone else, then I am and will be perpetually bald, and never again have hair. Likewise, if all my past, present, and future sins have already been transferred to someone else, then I am and will be perpetually sinless, and never again have sin.

    * If it were true that (in Reformed theology) not only the guilt and punishment for HAIR were imputed to Christ, but also the person’s past, present, and future *HAIRS* were imputed to Christ, then no regenerate person would ever HAVE HAIR, because all his future HAIRS would have already been removed and laid on Christ.

    I had then said somewhere back up there:

    Cute, but it’s not effective or valid. In your analogy, from God’s perspective, such is true: We are shiny & smooth chrome domes; no sins (hairs) are reckoned to us! But in actuality, we daily grow shaggy (sin), outwardly looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family.

    Bryan: There you affirmed that simultaneously we are “in actuality” sinful, and “from God’s perspective” we are righteous.
    Hugh: YES!

    Bryan: And from this simultaneously-sinful-and-righteous possibility, you claimed that just because all our future sin has been transferred to Christ, it does not follow that we would never again sin.
    Hugh: YES!

    Bryan: Now it turns out, given your “Affirmed” in #197, that what you were affirming back in #165 is that we are presently righteousness only extrinsically,
    Hugh: YES!

    Bryan: not intrinsically or internally in our hearts. In our hearts we are presently sinful.
    Hugh: YES!

    Whew!
    Thanks,
    Hugh

  204. Bryan!
    Before you sign out & cut me off, did I rightly represent you in my post #200?
    It is critical in understanding how you write & think.
    Thanks,
    Hugh

  205. Hugh, (re: #204)

    See the first link in comment #186, and see also my post titled “The Tradition and the Lexicon.”

    Nineteen comments in one day is far too many, so please limit yourself in the future.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  206. Bryan,
    I’ll take that as a qualified “yes,” and I apologize for my frequency (pun intended) in posting today.
    I was honestly unaware that there was a limit.
    Will read ‘The Tradition and the Lexicon’ & ‘Scripture and Tradition.’
    Thanks.
    Yours in the peace of Christ,
    Hugh

  207. This:

    “No one but no one has a biblical faith which in all its details makes perfect logical sense.”

    So… either the Bible is not in fact divinely inspired, or, which amounts to the same thing, the Holy Spirit has indeed deserted the Church at some point.

    This is the simple dilemma which strikes “even” us non-theologians upon becoming Christians through the Reformed traditions, and later actually reading the Bible and a minimum of theology to follow it practically.

    Implicitly, of course, all Reformed theologies *assume* the perfect practical authority that Catholics explicitly acknowledge (even the “bad” ones who *know* reasonably well that they’re dissenting from a clear enough concept of Apostolic authority).

    …also this:

    “Nineteen comments in one day is far too many, so please limit yourself in the future.”

    One of my favourite all-time quotations on limits:

    “Freedom is there, don’t you see? This makes me burst with happiness.

    My own limitation does not scare me, it is the most fantastic demonstration of God’s existence, which shows itself in the negative, as a limitation on my side.”

    http://www.traces-cl.com/septem02/being.htm

  208. Hello Hugh @ 179,

    Well, you were clear enough. And, indeed, in many senses, I think you could be describing the Catholic Faith, or rather, one particular formal aspect of it.

    But historically, i.e. in this world as opposed to in some hypothetical world, what you are talking about in 177 is a theory, whereas what the Church teaches, however badly due to our sins, is actually the description of an experience that started with Christ and the Apostles and continues today (as in, today) through the Sacraments.

    Cheers,

    M

  209. Mr May @208,

    Nice to read this: “in some hypothetical world, what you are talking about in 177 is a theory,” as opposed to: “legal fiction,” or worse…

    I trust I was describing what the Reformers (at least, the early bunch: Tyndale, Luther) taught, and certainly hope it’s the biblical truth.

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  210. Bryan– (re: #194)

    No problem. One of the foundations of our common faith–The Definition of Chalcedon–is hopelessly contradictory:

    “…[O]ne and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.”

    There is no mixture of the natures and at the same time (and in the same way) there is no distinction between them. They are not in moral or covenantal union like a married couple. They are not physically joined like Siamese twins. The two are one and the one are two. Even the Greek term used for union–hypostasis–cannot provide a proper analogy. The natures are not distinguished (and unified) in the same way as the strata of sand laid out at the bottom of a pond. Neither are they distinguished (and unified) like a theatrical actor wearing two masks for two different characters. Earthly logic irretrievably breaks down for this heavenly mystery.

    In much the same way, some Reformed maintain that we are and are not sinful in the same way and at the same time. (Now, mind you, one has to do with definitive sanctification and the other with progressive sanctification. The former is coram deo and the latter is coram hominibus. So there are some categorical/viewpoint differences, as there are with hypostatic union.)

    Those of us who believe in definitive sanctification–I’m assuming Hugh, here, is Old School and does not–believe that in our existential, mystical union with Christ, we participate in our Savior’s death and resurrection, and a definitive, inherent break with sin is accomplished because of what his cross work has accomplished. Our definitive sanctification is a one-time event and not a process.

  211. Hugh (re209)-

    Just looking for a bit of clarity: When you say you “hope” it’s the biblical truth (as opposed to “knowing with certainty” that it’s the biblical truth, I get confused.

    Do you believe the issue to be up for debate because Catholics simply refuse to acknowledge what’s written in the scriptures? Or do you believe this whole thing is up for debate because you’re merely “hoping” that you (and the “early bunch” of Reformers) cling to the right interpretation?

    Thanks.

  212. Eirik, (re: #210)

    You wrote:

    No problem. One of the foundations of our common faith–The Definition of Chalcedon–is hopelessly contradictory

    Ok, let’s see.

    There is no mixture of the natures …

    Correct, but that’s not a contradiction.

    and at the same time (and in the same way) there is no distinction between them.

    That’s not what Chalcedon says. Denying the distinction between them is the heresy of monophysitism. So already you’re going after a straw man.

    They are not in moral or covenantal union like a married couple. They are not physically joined like Siamese twins.

    True, but there is no contradiction there.

    The two are one and the one are two.

    They are two in one respect, and one in a different respect. That’s not a violation of the law of non-contradiction, according to which the same thing cannot both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect.

    Even the Greek term used for union–hypostasis–cannot provide a proper analogy. The natures are not distinguished (and unified) in the same way as the strata of sand laid out at the bottom of a pond. Neither are they distinguished (and unified) like a theatrical actor wearing two masks for two different characters.

    True, but that is no contradiction.

    In much the same way, some Reformed maintain that we are and are not sinful in the same way and at the same time.

    That’s a violation of the law of non-contradiction.

    So you can’t appeal to Chalecedon to justify violating the law of non-contradiction, because Chalcedon in no place violates the law of non-contradiction.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  213. Bryan–

    What part of “without division,without separation” do you not understand? Denying a distinction between natures is part and parcel of the Chalcedonian Definition! Monophysitism erred by not affirming the other half of the tenet: “without confusion” (sometimes translated “without mixture,” in other words, “with division.” The hypostatic union is both “with division” and “without division.” In my book, that’s a contradiction, a contradiction that has been left in tension, a mystery irresolvable by logic.

    (There have been some rumblings of late that the rift was caused by misinterpretations of several terms–prosopon, hypostasis, physis, and ousia. Some say that Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians actually believe the same things with regard to the Incarnation of Christ, but that they express their common belief in different words. I simply haven’t studied it enough to say how much semantics may have entered into it.)

    If you wish to say, for whatever reason, that the hypostatic union does not involve an actual contradiction, then fine. Simply do the very same thing with “sinful” and “not sinful” that you did with “division” and “no division,” and we will be square.

  214. Eirik, (re: #213)

    You wrote:

    Denying a distinction between natures is part and parcel of the Chalcedonian Definition!

    That’s simply not true. In no place does Chalcedon deny a distinction between the two natures.

    Monophysitism erred by not affirming the other half of the tenet: “without confusion” (sometimes translated “without mixture,” in other words, “with division.” The hypostatic union is both “with division” and “without division.” In my book, that’s a contradiction, a contradiction that has been left in tension, a mystery irresolvable by logic.

    I see the problem. You’ve conflated “distinction” and “division.” A distinction between the natures means that they not the same nature. A division between the natures means that they are not united in one Person. Because you conflated the meaning of “distinction” and “division,” you concluded that Chalcedon’s denial of a “division” contradicted its affirmation of a distinction.

    If you wish to say, for whatever reason, that the hypostatic union does not involve an actual contradiction, then fine. Simply do the very same thing with “sinful” and “not sinful” that you did with “division” and “no division,” and we will be square.

    Again, you’ve conflated “distinction” and “division.” Chalcedon never says “division” and “no division.” It says “distinction” without “division.” And that’s not a contradiction.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  215. Hi, uh, Herbert @211.

    Just looking for a bit of clarity: When you say you “hope” it’s the biblical truth (as opposed to “knowing with certainty” that it’s the biblical truth, I get confused.

    Sorry to confuse you, whomever you are. I don’t quite know what you’re talking about, or why you’re asking me, but I am glad to clarify the hope we Bible believers have in solus Christus.

    I mean hope as Paul did in Romans 5:1-5 ~ Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

    Do you believe the issue to be up for debate because Catholics simply refuse to acknowledge what’s written in the scriptures? Or do you believe this whole thing is up for debate because you’re merely “hoping” that you (and the “early bunch” of Reformers) cling to the right interpretation.

    Do I believe *which* issue is up for debate?

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  216. Hugh, (re215)
    Never mind.

  217. No, Bryan.

    I don’t know if you’re trying too hard or if you’re just too wedded to jargon.

    Yes, Christ has two distinct natures in one person.

    I was speaking of the hypostatic union between his two natures:

    In order to make sure it is clear there are two distinct natures, the authors of the definition emphasized that the natures are not mixed or confused with one another. They cannot interact in such a way as to change one another. The divine does not swallow up the human. The human does not circumscribe the limits of the divine. In other words, the two natures in which he subsists, are divided.

    In order to make sure it is clear there is one unique person, the authors of the definition emphasized that the person is not somehow subdivided into separate compartments: he is without division or separation. In other words, he, though consisting of two distinct natures, is not divided.

    To sum up, he IS divided into two natures at the same time that he IS NOT divided into two anything.

    If you still don’t believe there is any contradiction involved, then give me an orthodox analogy for this hypostatic “mixing without mixing.” (Or for the Trinity, for that matter). I have seen attempts at this, such as the wave/particle duality of the composition of light or the “triple point” of water (where the phases of ice, liquid, and steam meet, given precise combined parameters of pressure and heat).

    The fact is, no analogy is ever going to be perfectly applicable because in earthly terms these concepts contradict one another, pure and simple. Quit being so stubborn!

    Tell me what you would use in terms of liquid solutions, for example: water “mixed” with oil remains separate [Nestorianism]; water mingled with wine (confusion) [Euthychianism], sugar mixed with water dissolves (and thus changes, the sugar being subsumed) [Sabellianism].

    Go ahead and come up with one for the Hypostatic Union….

    I dare you.

  218. Eirik (re: #216)

    You wrote:

    In order to make sure it is clear there is one unique person, the authors of the definition emphasized that the person is not somehow subdivided into separate compartments: he is without division or separation.

    True.

    To sum up, he IS divided into two natures at the same time that he IS NOT divided into two anything.

    The “sum up” conclusion you draw is neither stated anywhere by Chalcedon, nor entailed by anything Chalcedon says. Again, distinction is not division. As long as you keep conflating them, you’re going to keep going after a straw man. Christ subsists in two natures, but is not divided into two natures. The distinction of the natures does not divide the Person. In order to show a contradiction you would need to show that Chalcedon affirms x and ~x at the same time and in the same sense.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  219. Hi Mr. McCann @ 209,

    Michael is the name, “May” is the month of the post… if they start blurring, maybe it is time to ease off posting on the ‘net and get some rest :)

    What I wrote was more precisely “historically, i.e. in this world … what you are talking about in 177 is a theory”.

    It’s a theory that is fairly clear, but it does not account for the Biblical data (especially, and most trivially, those in the 4 Gospels, which make it abundantly clear that “salvation” means encountering Jesus Christ in person; one might say, in the flesh, or physically present).

    The NT letters etc. are written from the perspective of communities that carry on this encounter in the person of specific “apostolic” people who transmit that same encounter; hence once you remove yourself from this relationship (in the present) it’s understandable that you end up with theories.

    @Eirik, @Bryan, @Hugh,

    Perfect – the Chalcedonian definition is the exact case in point here – the Gospels explain what happens when a person meets *the Church* in terms of our being the continuation of Christ Himself, by means of explaining that He is human and divine (although of course He is sinless, while it’s obvious to anyone we are not!).

    It’s totally logical that once you remove the factor of Christ’s personal presence in the unity of the one Church here and now, you would end up finding Chalcedon tough to swallow; it is indeed not a physical analogy (with all due respect to the effort involved in theology, I’m often glad I studied physics!) – it is simply a description of the evidence that we are saved by Christ’s presence in the Church; He is the one who acts through the Sacraments and the fellowship of the faithful; one unity, hence One person; able to save, hence divine; present in the flesh, hence human.

    The Gospels don’t provide theoretical ammo for a debate, they just document what is objectively there…

  220. Hi Eirik @210,

    “One of the foundations of our common faith–The Definition of Chalcedon–is hopelessly contradictory…

    There is no mixture of the natures and at the same time (and in the same way) there is no distinction between them. They are not in moral or covenantal union like a married couple.”

    Erm, well, I think some of the earliest (and most Biblical) commentators might not *totally* disregard that analogy.

    Is there really *nothing* in the Old Testament about covenants (a new one, maybe?), and weddings, maybe involving the LORD? But of course Catholics don’t read that stuff, do we? :D

    The striking thing about Christology from the newcomer’s / outsider’s point of view is that it says so little, and apparently leaves so little room for confusion of the sort you seem to claim is bursting from every seam.

    It’s almost disappointing to the “outsider” searching for some bizarre mystical language in the formulae and simply finding that Christ in His humanity submits His (human) will to the (divine) will of the Word etc.

    Hmmm. One almost suspects that maybe there’s some parallel between that fact that the Sacrament of matrimony is composed of two personal consents to the union, and the fact that the Catholic/Orthodox tradition celebrates the “yes” of Mary to the Word brought her by the angel?

    Or maybe it was mere coincidence that Christ used that phrase about a Bridegroom? Or St. Paul talked about marriage and the Church in terms of “mystery” (i.e. a central sacrament)?

    Nah, it’s circumstantial. Why spoil a good debate? ;p

  221. Bryan–

    Well, alrighty then, Mr. Coleridge, that’s your story and you’re sticking to it: “distinction is not division.”

    Let’s go in a different direction….

    There is a “distinction” between by regenerate spirit and my unregenerate flesh but no “division” in my person. I am simul justus et peccator … without any contradiction.

  222. Michael–

    I wasn’t dissing on the covenantal relationship between Christ (the bridegroom) and the Church (his bride)–or between regenerate individuals and their sovereign Lord.

    I was pointing out that if we posit a mere covenantal or moral union between the divine and human natures of Christ, we have become Nestorian.

    Are you trying to tell me that you’re Nestorian?

  223. Eirik (re: #221)

    You wrote:

    There is a “distinction” between by regenerate spirit and my unregenerate flesh but no “division” in my person. I am simul justus et peccator … without any contradiction.

    Ok, that is different from what you said in #210, where you wrote, “In much the same way, some Reformed maintain that we are and are not sinful in the same way and at the same time.” The position you are describing now (in #221), by contrast, is very close to the teaching of the Council of Trent in Sessions 5 and 6, inasmuch as it affirms that the will is made internally righteous by the infusion of grace and agape, but the flesh (i.e. concupiscence) is not removed in baptism. I have discussed Trent on concupiscence in “Aquinas and Trent: Part 7.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  224. Hi Eirik,

    RE: 222…

    Hmmm.

    “I was pointing out that if we posit a mere covenantal or moral union between the divine and human natures of Christ, we have become Nestorian.”

    [I think you mean between putative divine and human *persons* actually - this was the issue with Nestorius]

    I was talking about analogies. I don’t think I used the word “mere”. That would “purely” in modern English; but an analogy is just a convenient path to understanding (yes, and applying) a truth of the Faith.

    If you’re genuinely interested, there is a succinct summary of all of these possible permutations here:

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p122a3p1.htm#III (mirror site to avoid overloading .va!)

    There are only so many possible permutations possible, so it’s a bit surprising to us science majors :) that theologians spent so darned long reading and writing about them (I suppose you get academic credit?)…

    The interesting part is trying actually understand and apply the Faith. To that end, there are some more things in the Bible (and the rest of Tradition actually) than just neat theological packages such as “the covenantal relationship between Christ (the bridegroom) and the Church (his bride)–or between regenerate individuals and their sovereign Lord.”

    There are not watertight compartments in real faith with “doctrines” over here, and over there “all the suspect analogies and stuff [for the uneducated layman :) ]“

  225. PS Eirik, RE: 222,

    The reference to the 2 natures (and wills) of Christ in one divine Person really comes from pre-Reformation times (actually, from the Biblical data & liturgy) as can be seen here:

    “…the human will of the Saviour was deified through its union with the Word, and therefore it is not contrary to God. So likewise he proves that he had a human, although deified will, and this same he had (as he teaches in what follows) as well as his divine will, which was one and the same with that of the Father. If therefore he had a divine and a deified will, he had also two wills. For what is divine by nature has no need of being deified; and what is deified is not truly divine by nature…”

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3813.htm

    The analogy (it is only analogy) is perfectly clear; the logic is extremely simple and just depends on seeing the difference between “person” and “nature” whatever actual words you use for those concepts:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shield_of_the_Trinity

    :)

  226. Bryan–

    Well, we’re not exactly at a meeting of the minds, but I appreciate whatever commonality we can find.

    I am not in the least threatened by the possibility that part of my thinking might mesh with Trent. Perhaps that is so. I’ll give it a look. Francis Beckwith maintains that Trent is fairly compatible with sola fide . ECT’s “The Gift of Salvation,” signed by Avery Dulles and Richard John Neuhaus, among others, declares much the same thing. (JDDJ, on the other hand, suffers from numerous ecumenical problems. Conservative Lutherans would not sign off on it, believing it to be semantic sleight-of-hand.) B16, also sided with Luther on justification, as long as love was attached to justifying faith. Of course, this is more in tune with “double justification” or Osiander’s views (or more recently, the views of Norman Shepherd, who lost his post at Westminster, Philadelphia as a result).

    Reformed folks can be rather reactionary. They will stand their ground and defend sola fide to the death if need be. Personally, I don’t think JFA is threatened by regenerate works unless one jettisons perseverance (and Thomists theoretically hold to perseverance, though with a de-emphasis on assurance). If forensic justification is eternal from the get go, nothing performed thereafter has any instrumental significance even if inevitably resultant from imputation.

    Explanations of Definitive Sanctification tend to speak of an existential break with sin, where sin no longer has reign. This, they say, accounts for the times in Scripture when believers are termed “saints” or “holy” in an unqualified manner. I might go a tad beyond that. It seems to me that this indicates more than just an inherent break in the dominion and power of sin, but an existential righteousness imputed to us and infused into us via union with Christ.

  227. […] also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:1-4).   This article on the issue of the Lord’s Prayer, which is excellent and I highly recommend it, states the […]

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