Gataker-Gouge-Downame on Final Justification

The English counterpart to Diodati’s Annotations is written by a group of Divines, the most well-known of whom are Thomas Gataker, William Gouge, and John Downame. The cite Diodati with high praise in the foreword. They have a different reading of James 2 than Diodati though and are closer to Preston. Commenting on James 2:21 they write:

justified] That is, say some, declaratively and in the sight of men, his works bearing witness of, or to his faith, and not causally and in respect of God; but because St. James here disputes against those who looked to be justified by a faith separated from good works, and that causally in the sight of God, it cannot stand with the scope of the Apostle, unless here by [justified] we understand that justification whereby we are justified causally in the sight of God; the state of the question being not, whether we are justified declaratively, or in the sight of men by faith without good works, but, whether we are justified in the sight of God without works. Continue reading

John Preston on Faith, Works, and Double Justification

Continuing with the series on future justification(s), I would like to now give a slightly different perspective. I don’t think it is wholly at odds with Diodati or Pictet (later writers could combine the perspectives without much trouble), but it certainly reads James differently. Rather than appealing to two different types of justification, an initial and a final, this perspective understands justification to always be by faith alone, but it insists that the faith is itself a working faith. Later types of justification are opportunities to justify the first justification, or to prove that the faith was true faith.

One representative of this type of reading would be John Preston. There have been some critics of Preston lately who would say that he’s out of the mainstream of the Reformed tradition, but I think this is false. The work which I had access to of his was a posthumous publication put out by Richard Sibbes and John Davenport. Thomas Goodwin also printed Preston’s work. So however one may choose to criticize Preston, it is historically the case that Puritan mainstays looked up to him with respect and admiration. Regarding English Reformed and Westminsterian theology, Preston is a legitimate father in the faith.

Now to the subject at hand. Continue reading

Benedict Pictet on Final Justification

Pictet represents a nearly identical position as Diodati’s. There were other views, as we will see in a few posts to come, but this concept of “the Justification of the Righteous” and how they are judged by the evangelical standard is one way which the Reformed doctors sought to harmonize Paul and James. Pictet writes:

On the Justification of a Righteous Man

We have spoken of the justification of man as a sinner ; we must now speak of his justification as a righteous man, i. e, that by which he proves that he is justified, and that he possesses a true justifying faith. Now this justification is by works, even in the sight of God, as well as of men; and of this James speaks, when he declares that “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.’ (James ii. 24.) To illustrate this, we must remark that there is a two-fold accusation of man. First, he is accused before God’s tribunal of the guilt of sin, and this accusation is met or done away by the justification of which we have already treated. Secondly, the man who has been thus justified may be accused of hypocrisy, false profession and unregeneracy ; now he clears himself from this accusation, and justifies his faith by his works—this is his second justification; it differs from the first; for in the first a sinner is acquitted from guilt, in the second a godly man is distinguished from the ungodly. In the first God imputes the righteousness of Christ ; in the second he pronounces judgment from the gift of holiness bestowed upon us; both these justifications the believer obtains, and therefore it is true that “by works he is justified, and not by faith only.” Continue reading

Robert Rollock on Temporary Faith

Rollock explains that temporary faith is different from historical faith (and other sorts of non-soteric faith) and that it shares many elements with justifying faith. Rollock says:

The reason of the name is this; it is called Temporary, because it endures but for a time, because it hath no root.

It hath the same object with justifying faith, and which is properly so called, namely Jesus Christ with his benefits, offered in the word of the Gospel and in the Sacraments; wherein it differs from historical faith, which hath for the object thereof the universal truth. It hath the same subject with justifying faith; for it hath its meat both in the mind, and also in the will and heart.

Continue reading

John Diodati on Final Justification

Commenting on James 2:21, Diodati writes:

We must of necessity distinguish the meaning of this word justifie, which is used by St. Paul, for absolving a man as he is in his natural state, bound to the law, and subject to damnation for his sin, which God doth by a rigid act of justice, that requireth full satisfaction, which seeing he could not get of man Rom. 8.2, he hath received at Christ’s hand (who was the Surety) imputed to man by God’s grace, and apprehended by a lively faith. Whereas St. James takes the same word for the approving of man, in a benigne and fatherly judgment, as he is considered in the quality of God’s child, and living in the covenant of grace, as having the two essentiall parts of that covenant joyned together, faith to receive God’s grace and Christ’s benefit, and works to yield him the duties of service and acknowledgement; and this justification is no longer opposite to the condemnation of a sinner in generall, but to the particular one of an hypocrite, who rending asunder these two inseparable parts, sheweth that he hat neither the one nor the other: see Luke 17.19.

~ Pious and learned annotations upon the Holy Bible 3rd ed. (London : Printed by James Flesher for Nicholas Fussell, 1651).

Meet Joe Black

I just watched this for the first time.  It is an absolutely perfect movie, that is until the final scene.

There’s no way you resolve something like the realization that you gave your heart to Death, and they should have ended the thing with Pitt and Hopkins walking over the bridge.  It would have been immortal then.

Now it is just kind of bleh.

Endings can do that.

Jewish Roots for the Trinity

Peter Escalante showed me this wonderful page on The Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism. There’s so much good stuff there, but I can recommend Michel Barnes’ on the Holy Spirit as a good place to get started (if you’ve got the time).

I’m not sure about all of these writers’ views of Scripture, but I think that they are right to criticize the assumption that there was only one Judaism and that it always had the same doctrine of God. I find the whole project of Old Testament Trinitarianism fascinating, especially coming from the academy.

The implications of all this on the early church is pretty huge too, and I’d like to go ahead and say once again that I no longer know anything.

Davenant and Ward on Infant Baptism

Joel Garver, ubiquitous in his learning and lauded by divines across the world, has translated a letter from John Davenant to Samuel Ward, and he has also reposted a letter from Ward to Archbishop Ussher. Both letters have to do with the efficacy of infant baptism.

Davenant’s letter to Ward is here.

Ward’s letter to Ussher is here.
Both men affirm that some type of grace is given to all in baptism. Particularly, they affirm that original guilt is taken away from all baptized infants.

Davenant also affirms some critical distinctions between “efficacy” in infants and “efficacy” in those who have reached the age of reason. Two particularly important statements that he makes are:

That the justification, regeneration, adoption, which we admit does belong to baptized infants, is not univocally the same with that justification, regeneration, and adoption, which we say is never lost with regard to the matter of the saints’ perseverance.

and:

The justification and regeneration and adoption of baptized infants confers on them a state of salvation according to the condition of infants.

So baptized infants have “infant benefits” so to speak. These are not the same as those possessing full use of their reason, which would be the ever-persevering benefits. However, these “infant benefits” are sufficient for the infants’ salvation prior to reaching such age.

I believe this is essentially Calvin’s position as well, and it is how we should understand his own language of people rejecting the grace that was given to them at baptism. Compare what we’ve seen in Davenant to this from Calvin:

It is certainly true that when children of believers reach the age of discernment [and have never repented or believed] they will have alienated themselves from God and destroyed utterly the truth of baptism. But this is not to say that our Lord has not elected them and separated them from others in order to grant them His salvation. Otherwise, it would be in vain for Saint Paul to say that a child of a believing father or mother is sanctified, who would be impure if he were born of and descended from unbelievers (1 Cor. 7:14).

~ John Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines pg. 52

Operations and Esse

You know, the only way that we even know that God is Trinity is because He sent his Son to die for us. The only way we can learn theology proper is to study Christology, which is a form of soteriology (and eschatology).

This is why the “Western” paradigm strikes me as superior. We confess that God is infinite, incomprehensible, and beyond being. Very few deny this (If they do we call them freaks and make wood-carvings with Aristotle leading them to the third circle of Hell).  However, we also confess that God can truly reveal Himself (which is to say the same thing as His essence since there is no difference between God and God-ness) to his creation and that he does precisely this in the act of redemption. God is love, and the greatest love possible is to die for someone else.

We know love because of what God did.

We know God because of Jesus.

The Developing Pro-Nicene Method

Part of M. Barnes and Ayres’ criticism of the “neo-Platonic” Augustine is that Augustine shares more in common with the, by his time, somewhat established catholic tradition than he does any identifiable “neo-Platonic” tradition of the 4th century. This is seen in that his principle for divine unity is not simply an appeal to “substance,” nor even the psychological analogy, but rather the inseparable operations of the Persons. This is very similar to Gregory’s one “Power.”

The divine “work” is an aspect of the one nature. This is true for both East and West, of which there is really no dichotomy at this point in history. If there were, as Timothy Barnes’ (not Michel) helpful book on Athanasius and Constantine’s sons shows, then the two parties would actually be Western/pro-Nicenes vs. Eastern/anti-Nicenes., which is not what folks seem to be looking for today.

Again, D. H. Williams’ book on Ambrose is a good way to get a grasp on the emerging Western pro-Nicene tradition.