D-U-M Spells Grace (part III)

And what is the point of all of this dGrace, uGrace, mGrace stuff?

As I (and others) see it, here’s what the FV “gains” by not distinguishing between dGrace that applies to us, and uGrace/mGrace that might have applied to Adam 1 and/or 2. FV sees a church in which easy-believists are saying, “Adam and Christ had to work, because they didn’t have grace; and because we Christians have grace, we don’t have to work.” FV’s remedy for this is to deny work and affirm grace with Adam and Christ, so they can point out, “look, Adam and Christ had to work for their ‘grace’, so you do too!”

So what’s the big problem? When you push up on grace, necessarily the importance of works must go down, and vice versa (Rom 11:6). Thus, in the FV scheme, it becomes less important that Christ was perfectly obedient. This is seen most clearly by many (most?) of the FV mens’ denial of the imputation of Christ’s active obedience. “Sure,” they concede, “Christ had to be perfectly obedient in order to be an acceptable sacrifice (and God imputes that satisfaction to us), but we do not actually receive the obedience of Christ’s life.”

Kline described this perfectly (even before there was an FV), in a 1994 article rebutting the denial of merit in the Covenant of Works:

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.

Clark also has their number:

They all want to blur the consequences of the fall, they wish to blur the lines between pre-lapsarian and post-lapsarian life and they all diminish the finished work of Christ for us and set it up so that we must contribute to our own justification.

Of course, the “logic” of their argument falls apart when distinctions are made between senses of “grace” and the disanalogy between Adam and
us (due to the extent of the Fall) is made clear.

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19 Responses

  1. I am not sure that it is a correct analogy to make works and grace exactly inverse (is that the right word?) of each other. You described to me it is like a balloon, you push in on one side and it bulges on the other.

    However, I personally completely deny that our works go toward our “justification” at all, in the confessional sense of “justification.” I like the distinction made regarding “vindication” instead.

    But I want to point out that in this discussion lately (not just here on Blogorrhea) I haven’t seen a lot of effort to discuss the term “works.” Is it possible that there is too much assumption that it just means obedience to the law? Could it mean something other than that?

    I think it could, but I’ll hold back for now.

    kazoo

  2. What Christ could not do is left for us to do, somehow.

    Of course, this is not the view of the FV. It is not what Christ *could not* do, but what He *would not* do, namely, save the non-elect.

    Christ’s life and death work does everything for the salvation of the elect. But how do the elect become partakers of that work in time? The Spirit applies it to them. But how does the Spirit apply it to them? By working faith in them. And what *kind* of faith? Mere assent to facts about Jesus including the fact that I am saved if I assent to mere facts about Jesus? *The Reformed have always taught* no! Saving faith is a living, active, obedient faith.

  3. Oh, and the FV is in good company wrt pre-fall grace. Notice that Calvin does not only use the word “grace” here, but unmistakably describes what he means by it:

    “He gave the tree of life its name, not because it could confer on man that life with which he had been previously endued, but in order that it might be a symbol and memorial of the life which he had received from God. For we know it to be by no means unusual that God should give to us the attestation of his grace by external symbols. He does not indeed transfer his power into outward signs; but by them he stretches out his hand to us, because, without assistance, we cannot ascend to him. He intended, therefore, that man, as often as he tasted the fruit of that tree, should remember whence he received his life, in order that he might acknowledge that he lives not by his own power, but by the kindness of God alone; and that life is not (as they commonly speak) an intrinsic good, but proceeds from God. Finally, in that tree there was a visible testimony to the declaration, that ‘in God we are, and live, and move.’ But if Adams hitherto innocent, and of an upright nature, had need of monitory signs to lead him to the knowledge of divine grace, how much more necessary are signs now, in this great imbecility of our nature, since we have fallen from the true light? Yet I am not dissatisfied with what has been handed down by some of the fathers, as Augustine and Eucherius, that the tree of life was a figure of Christ, inasmuch as he is the Eternal Word of God: it could not indeed be otherwise a symbol of life, than by representing him in figure. For we must maintain what is declared in the first chapter of John (John 1:1-3,) that the life of all things was included in the Word, but especially the life of men, which is conjoined with reason and intelligence. Wherefore, by this sign, Adam was admonished, that he could claim nothing for himself as if it were his own, in order that he might depend wholly upon the Son of God, and might not seek life anywhere but in him. But if he, at the time when he possessed life in safety, had it only as deposited in the word of God, and could not otherwise retain it, than by acknowledging that it was received from Him, whence may we recover it, after it has been lost? Let us know, therefore, that when we have departed from Christ, nothing remains for us but death” – Calvin’s commentary on Genesis 2 emphasis mine, of course

    That pretty much sums up the FV view of the Adamic Covenant.

  4. Of course, this is not the view of the FV. It is not what Christ *could not* do, but what He *would not* do, namely…

    …impute credit for his hard-earned works to the elect.

    Mere assent to facts about Jesus including the fact that I am saved if I assent to mere facts about Jesus? *The Reformed have always taught* no!…

    …faith is defined as Knowledge, Assent, and Trust (notitia, assensus, fiducia). I’m sure you’d translate “fiducia” as “faithfulness” though…

  5. Sounds like Calvin has a pretty good handle on uGrace.

  6. Not only that, but this refutes Clark’s comments here that “Whatever ‘faith’ was required of Adam before the fall, … is not the same thing as ‘faith’ in a Mediator.

    Why don’t you just admit it? This puts the FV view of the Adamic Covenant well within the pale of historical Reformed orthodoxy.

  7. I don’t see how Clark is refuted (unless you beg the question by assuming the same defintion of saving faith applies to sinless Adam & Christ), and I completely agree with the italicized quote you just put right there.

    Be patient, I have a post inside me on this topic, just waiting for time to type it out.

  8. You don’t see how “that he might depend wholly upon the Son of God, and might not seek life anywhere but in him.” refutes the notion that Adam’s faith was not faith in a Mediator? What does “depend wholly upon the Son of God, and might not seek life anywhere but in him” mean if not faith in the mediation of Christ?

  9. “Mediator” implies “between-ness”. Why do you attribute the office of “mediator” to the Son of God in this context? Sinless Adam had no need of a mediator (in fact, Adam himself was God’s priest, in charge of mediating God’s dominion of the garden-temple to the whole earth), and his immediate (unmediated) relationship to God was surely primarily with Christ in his office as the (Jn 1, Prv 8) Creative Word.

  10. Sorry for the confusion, but I accidentally posted this as a post and as a page (with identical titles), so Jeff’s first comment, and all this Ron & me stuff were in different places.

    I pasted the comments over, deleted the page, and that’s about all I can do. Hopefully the identicons will refresh soon…

  11. Why do you attribute the office of “mediator” to the Son of God in this context?

    1. What does it mean to seek life only *in* the Son of God? Doesn’t that imply a covenantal relationship between Adam and the Son of God?

    2. Is our need for mediation only due to sin? Can life and salvation be sought only in reference to sin?

    3. Isn’t Christ’s office as our King also mediatory? He fulfills the dominion mandate for us, does He not? Why not for sinless Adam?

  12. 1. As I said, it simply means to seek life only *in* the Creator God.

    2. Yes. No and Yes.

    3. No.

  13. 1. fine.
    2. and 3. re: Our Lord’s Kingly mediation. See the WCF ch. 8 on Christ our Mediator. They include His office as King.

    Also, you don’t see Christ fulfilling the dominion mandate for us? I could have swore I heard you say that exact thing last Wednesday night. Anyway, as our King, Christ subdues all His and our enemies (wcf sc 26). This is the same language used in the mandate, to subdue the earth. Therefore, Christ fulfills this for us, on our behalf. So we subdue the earth, but not immediately. Rather through a mediator. You know I am right. :)

  14. He fulfills it for us because we are sinful. In the Garden, it was Adam’s mission to exercise dominion. Once again you blur pre- and post-lapsarian life. Clark owns you

  15. P.S. Note that Westminster speak of the offices of Christ “as our Redeemer.” As Adam was sinless, he needed no redeemer.

    Nor mediator. You still haven’t shown me what Christ is supposed to be between. In the garden, in his sinless state, Adam was the mediator between God and the rest of creation! That’s yet another reason that the first & second Adams were analogous, and part of what it meant for Adam to be a federal head.

    Look, this whole tack you’re taking is just not working. Anywhere you can find Christ in the garden (and go for it — amen!), all I can say is that God has a radically different relationship with the sinless and the sinful. And you continue to blur the consequences of the Fall.

  16. […] argument began 8 years ago, is not the same thing as ‘faith’ in a Mediator.” Then Ron thought he had Clark beat by asserting that Adam’s faith was indeed faith in a Mediator, but as you can see in the […]

  17. He fulfills it for us because we are sinful. In the Garden, it was Adam’s mission to exercise dominion.

    So, you retract your previous statement and admit that His kingly office is a mediatory office?

    Note that Westminster speak of the offices of Christ “as our Redeemer.” As Adam was sinless, he needed no redeemer.

    Again, only if you view redemption as relating to sin exclusively. But we are saved from more than our sin. Read the psalms and see how David uses the word “redeem”. Psalm 69:18 is a good example.

    Adam needed salvation / redemption before the fall. He was incapable of fulfilling the mandate to sudue the earth without the grace of God. Do you really think Adam could have defeated the 1/3 on his own without God? No, had he stood, he still would have had cried out to His father to “redeem him from his foes”.

    In the garden, in his sinless state, Adam was the mediator between God and the rest of creation!

    And this is still the case. As the Father sent the Son to the Church, so the Son sends the Church to the world (John 20:21). So again, you have failed to prove a distinction at the point of analogy.

  18. Sorry, I apparently cannot say “different before/after the fall” as many ways as you can blur the lines between pre-lapsarian and post-lapsarian life. You win.

  19. Do I get a prize?

    What lines have I *blurred* btw? I have no problem with lines. I just have a problem with people drawing lines where the Bible draws circles.

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