Not Very Pernicious

Wow! (Hat tip to MSamudio) This article by Kline shows incredible insight into the hows, whys, and wherefores of Frank Valenti (known to most as FV). Kline expresses in crystal clarity what I could never quite realize with my own muddled understanding. From his conclusions about the consequences of denying the Covenant of Works and the principle of merit:

They want to affirm the atonement accomplished through Jesus’ passive obedience (thereby accepting the idea of negative, punitive justice), but they fail totally in their handling of his active obedience. There is simply no room in their system for a divine justice functioning positively in reward of obedience, no room for an accomplishment of righteousness by anybody that might be imputed to somebody else. The resultant tendency is to confuse justification and sanctification in a new legalism in which the role of good works, which was not permitted entrance through the front door, now sneaks in the back door. What Christ could not do is left for us to do, somehow.

The irony of all this is that a position that asserts a continuum of “grace” everywhere ends up with no genuine gospel grace anywhere. An approach that starts out by claiming that a works principle operates nowhere ends up with a kind of works principle everywhere.

If you want to see the denial of the Covenant of Works in action, you can go here to read how the CoW was destroyed the moment God announced the CoG; Jesus did not fulfill CoW for us, because he was never in that covenant; Jesus fulfilled all covenants (Abraham, Moses, David) except for the Adamic CoW, which was left unfulfilled; Adam is not man’s federal head in the CoW; all men are either under Christ’s federal headship in CoG, or in no covenant at all; and yet somehow all men died in Adam.

If you want to see how denial of a works principle causes (like a wack-a-mole) a works principle to spring up everywhere, you can go here to read how “the promises of God under the Covenant of Grace are conditioned upon perseverance in covenant faithfulness”; election, union with Christ, etc. can be real and temporary, true faith can be rejected, and assurance is conditioned on faithfulness.

Finally, I’ll close with a bit of advice for Frank Valenti — some words that FV might be able to use to defend himself against the slings and arrows and pitchforks and torches of us witch-hunting TRs:

[Sez FV:] Hey, you uncharitable TR fundies, WCF X.IV clearly reserves the judgment “very pernicious, and to be detested” for those who maintain the possibility of salvation outside of even the visible church. Clearly, we (FV) are only fudging the category of election within the visible church, so by the confession we are logically “not very pernicious” — so stop detesting us!


8 Responses

  1. What does TR stand for?

    Who is Frank Valenti?

    Who are you quoting at the end?

    Is he for FV or against? (He says that FV is not guilty of committing that which is very pernicious and to be detested, yet he seems to be calling on FV to stop detesting “us”, and you have said that this is directed at FV. I’m plenty confused.)

    Who is Lord Ron and what is he smoking?

    And how come Albino won’t comment on a thread like this? How come he probably won’t even read it? Would his eyes glass over before he finished reading the Kline quote because uninterested? Is that problematic if true? Why?

    Is passive obedience without the imputation of active obedience really an atonement at all?


  2. Who is Frank Valenti?

    Frank Valenti (better known by his initials, FV) is my pet name for the Federal Vision.

    What does TR stand for?

    TR stands for “Truly Reformed”, which is the sarcastic label the FV use for their “persecutors”

    Who are you quoting at the end?

    That’s all me. Except for quoting WCF X.IV. I am against FV, but that last blockquote is me offering words that FV can put into their own mouths, in their own “defense”. I guess the joke doesn’t work, but I just like the concept of FV protesting “I’m not very pernicious”! I’ll see if I can edit the opening for the joke to make it clearer.

    Who is Lord Ron and what is he smoking?

    Lord Ron is our mutual FV blogcuaintance Ron. I think he’s “Lord” because he is the Federal head of his (very large) family, but I’m not really for sure. He is smoking The Federal Vision.

    Is passive obedience without the imputation of active obedience really an atonement at all?

    It is a passive forgiveness, rolling you back to a neutral righteousness of “haven’t done anything wrong (or right) yet”. The same righteousness Adam had at the moment God breathed life into the dust, before he started obeying by naming animals and such. From that point on, persevering faithfulness is up to you (or I guess up to the ability to do righteousness which has been infused into you).

  3. From the confession:

    Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.

    Can you expand on your “advice for Frank Valenti”? I don’t really see how this from the confession in and of itself can get me to the conclusion that FV isn’t detestable. Why single out FV here and not any randomly picked “heresy”? Is it because of the word elect above?

  4. WCF X.IV says “…to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested” applies only to “much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever…”. The perniciousness is not meant to apply to those who are confused about the first part of the paragraph, which describes the visible/invisible church distinction.

    If FV were to assert or maintain that those outside the visible church can be saved, then the confession would label them “very pernicious, and to be detested.” But FV does not — they only confuse categories within the visible church. Thus they are NOT “very pernicious, and to be detested” — on this count.

    The joke is that nobody is going to stand up and claim “I’m not very pernicious”, because it sounds equivalent to “I’m somewhat pernicious”. The other part of the joke is that it is logically fallacious to assume that being innocent of one possible reason to be detested, entitles one to claim that they are 100% not detestable.

    That’s the joke. You can laugh now.

    Yeesh! You try to tell a logic joke with this crowd… You’ll just have to take my word for it. It’s funny.

  5. I love Kline’s Covenant Theology Under Attack.

    Most of my good arguments against Frank Valenti come from it.

  6. Rube,

    I find it amusing.


  7. Thank you! Now I can stop beating that dead horse.

  8. I got yer back.

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