[HT: PCA Report on Frank Valenti, footnote #62]
Recall how WCF X.IV says
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.
It seems pretty clear to me (since I am familiar with the language they call ‘English’), that Westminster intends to say that, if there is any sense in which the non-elect “come unto Christ”, it is not to be characterized as true.
When the confession says that these non-elect people “never truly come unto Christ,” it means that they do not receive Christ with a faith that perseveres unto final salvation. The confession does not address the question of whether they are able come unto Christ in some other sense and participate in some sense in the blessings of redemption that ultimately fall short of the fullness of salvation.
Further, when the confession says that these non-elect people “cannot be saved,” one must recognize that the Standards use the word “save” and its cognates almost exclusively to refer to the fullness of salvation inherited when Christ returns. In this sense, apostates are not saved because they fail to persevere and fall short of receiving the fullness of redemption as it is described in WCF 10-18.
As I anticipate above, Wilkins proposes to contrast “truly” with “some other sense” in which one may come to Christ. Yet in his Federal Vision article, he pretty clearly wants to express that this “some other sense” is “really and truly” true [my bold, Wilkins’ italics]:
The elect are those who are faithful in Christ Jesus. If they later reject the Savior, they are no longer elect — they are cut off from the Elect One and thus, lose their elect standing. But their falling away doesn’t negate the reality of their standing prior to their apostasy. They were really and truly the elect of God because of their relationship with Christ.
In fact, covenant is a real relationship, consisting of real communion with the Triune God through union with Christ. The covenant is not some thing that exists apart from Christ or in addition to Him (another means of grace) — rather, the covenant is union with Christ. Thus, being in covenant gives all the blessings of being united to Christ. — Federal Vision, p. 58
That’s contradiction number one. But look closer at this part:
When the confession says that these non-elect people “never truly come unto Christ,” it means that they do not receive Christ with a faith that perseveres unto final salvation
While focus is drawn to “truly”, Wilkins (in a sleight of tongue worthy of Slick Willie himself) redefines “never” as “not persevering”. It would appear that Slick Wilkie has coined a new contraction:
“n’ever” = Not Forever
Perhaps I should try telling my wife that I would “n’ever” cheat on her…
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