Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Gordon H. Clark: Sanctification: An Audio Lecture

The following is a discussion of the doctrine of sanctification by the late Gordon H. Clark. This is an mp3 audio file. At the very beginning of the lecture Clark defines justification and sanctification. I am transcribing his remarks here and this is what he said:

. . . Sanctification. Though the previous section dealt with regeneration, the doctrine of justification does not easily fit into a study of the Spirit. Justification is a forensic act usually ascribed to the Father and the same for all the elect. Sanctification is a subjective change of character in the individual in different degrees for different persons. That is it's the same process but it goes to different lengths. The former--that is justification--the former is instantaneous; the latter is temporal and lasts a lifetime. The agent is the Spirit and the topic belongs right here. One verse that is searched the agency of the Spirit in sanctification is Romans 15:16.

As you can see by this definition, any emphasis on sanctification as a ground or basis for salvation is in fact subjective since it occurs in the heart and is thus infused. Charles Hodge states the difference as justification being objective and imputed while sanctification is infused into the heart of the believer. Justification is outside the believer and the basis for justification is the active and passive obedience of Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross.

The Roman Catholic view of justification is that justification is both a forensic act and a subjective change of character in the person. In short, the Roman Catholic view confuses sanctification with justification and makes justification essentially infused into the heart so that both justification and sanctification become one act of God. Ultimately it means that salvation is dependent on the subjective person's character or a combination of faith, that is believing the doctrines of the Bible, plus the merits of the person's good works. In the Roman Catholic view, although justification wipes out all of the sins committed before baptism, any sins committed after baptism takes away from that infused justification and places salvation in danger of being defected. Thus, Jesus' work on the cross is insufficient to redeem the person from sins after baptism unless that person does penance or is purified by going through a time of purification in purgatory after his mortal death.

Unfortunately, many so-called Calvinists these days are re-interpreting the Westminster Confession and the Larger and Shorter Catechism to allow for an emphasis on "union with Christ" over against justification as a forensic and legal and imputed righteousness. The effect of this emphasis--although they will give lip service to forensic justification--is to say that both sanctification and justification together constitute saving faith. This view--although there is some truth to it--is to confuse justification with sanctification so that the two become one. This view was also the view of Osiander, a Lutheran in Calvin's day. John Calvin devoted a lengthy passage to this error in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. In book 1, chapter 15:4-5 of the Institutes Calvin goes to great lengths in rejecting Osiander's view of the divine image in man, which Osiander said included the physical body. Calvin, on the other hand, insists that the divine image is man's soul, which is composed of the threefold intellect, will and memory. The problem with Osiander's view is that it is like the error of the Manichees, according to Calvin. According to the Manichees when God breathed life into Adam there was a transmission of the divine substance into man such that everything in the whole man is divine, which would include the body. In refuting Osiander Calvin says:

Here, too, Osiander, carried away by his illusions entangled himself in an impious error, by denying that the image of God could be in man without his essential righteousness; as if God were unable, by the mighty power of his Spirit, to render us conformable to himself, unless Christ were substantially transfused into us. Under whatever colour some attempt to gloss these delusions, they can never so blind the eyes of intelligent readers as to prevent them from discerning in them a revival of Manicheism. But from the words of Paul, when treating of the renewal of the image ( [2 Cor. 3:18] ), the inference is obvious, that man was conformable to God, not by an influx of substance, but by the grace and virtue of the Spirit. He says, that by beholding the glory of Christ, we are transformed into the same image as by the Spirit of the Lord; and certainly the Spirit does not work in us so as to make us of the same substance with God. Institutes 1:15:5.

Hence, the error of Lane Tipton and Richard Gaffin's emphasis on union with Christ as a fusion of justification with sanctification is pragmatically the same error of Osiander. (See Reformed Forum: Lectures on Union with Christ and Lane Tipton: Union with Christ). They wish to reject the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone and make justification an adiaphora instead of the sine qua non of the Gospel.  Gaffin and Tipton only give lip service to forensic justification as a side thought. Their view makes the doctrine of union with Christ something anti-rational and existential rather than an intellectual assent to the logical propositions of the Gospel message. This view is really just a form of Neo-Orthodoxy couched in conservative and Evangelical terms. Unfortunately, the Westminster Confession does not allow for such theology since an entire chapter is devoted to forensic justification:

Chapter 11: Of Justification

1. Those whom God effectually calleth He also freely justifieth;1 not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous: not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone: nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,2 they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness, by faith: which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.3

See also: WLC 70 | WSC 33


1 Rom. 8:30; Rom. 3:24.

2 Rom. 4:5-8; 2 Cor. 5:19,21; Rom. 3:22,24,25,27,28; Tit. 3:5,7; Eph. 1:7; Jer. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30,31; Rom. 5:17,18,19.

3 Acts 10:44; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9; Acts 13:38,39; Eph. 2:7,8.

If one listens carefully to Gaffin's lectures in the link above one is astounded to learn that forensic justification is not the sine qua non of Reformed theology or the Christian faith but that justification is to be subjected to the doctrine of union with Christ as defined by Gaffin. For Richard Gaffin and Lane Tipton justification and sanctification together provide the ground for salvation. Even Charles Hodge, however, insists that justification as a forensic declaration is an objective and imputed righteousness and that justification is the ground or basis for sanctification and the union by faith with Christ. What Gaffin and Tipton are proposing pragmatically amounts to confusing faith with obedience or faithfulness, which is subjective. If our salvation depends ultimately on subjectivism or personal piety or our faithfulness then it is hard to see how there can be any assurance of salvation. The moral law of God would still accuse us of our imperfections and there can ultimately be no assurance of salvation whatsoever. As defined above by Gordon H. Clark, sanctification is "a subjective change of character" and varies from one person to another.

May the peace of God be with you!


Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2 ESV)

To hear Gordon Clark's lecture on sanctification click here: Sanctification

Addendum:  The "virtue" of the Holy Spirit could be asserted to be the "truth" of the Holy Spirit and not moral perfection.  Truth is what sanctifies.  (John 17:17).

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