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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mike Horton Responds to Lane Tipton: Christ the Center

The following was posted on the Westminster Seminary California blog. I eagerly look forward to hearing Dr. Horton's response to Lane Tipton's accusation that Horton's view of justification is essentially Lutheran, non-reformed, and semi-pelagian. For further information see my earlier blog post at Reformed Forum: Union with Christ.

Horton Interview on Christ the Center

Recently, Dr. Horton was interviewed on the audio program Christ the Center, hosted by Reformed Forum, on the topic of Union with Christ. This interview was given in response to a recent episode with WTS Professor Lane Tipton which discussed various dimensions of the doctrine of Union with Christ, including reference to Dr. Horton’s work, Covenant and Salvation: Union with Christ.

The audio of the discussion with Horton is embedded below, and the audio for the interview with Professor Tipton to which he is responding can be found here.

Westminster Seminary California


Charlie J. Ray said...

Apparently the heated discussions over neo-legalism and the Gospel have gotten the legalists inflamed. The comments at Reformed Forum are now moderated:)

Anyway, I'm posting two comments I made over at the Forum in case they do not get posted there:

Charlie J. Ray says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
December 21, 2011 at 8:36 am

Speaking as one sympathetic to the theology and apologetics of Gordon H. Clark, I have to say that all this emphasis on “union with Christ” as if it were some sort of mystical, existential encounter with a “person” rather than an intellectual apprehension, comprehension, and assent to the propositional truths of Scripture and what Scripture teaches about Christ is a serious bone of contention. If what Tipton is saying about union with Christ is true, then what he is teaching is essentially a non-doctrinal personal encounter. That’s simply neo-orthodoxy rehashed.

Second of all, to confuse the forensic justification imputed to the believer with infused sanctification is to deny the very Gospel itself. Even Charles Hodge was not so blind as to confuse imputed righteousness with the imperfect, filthy rags of sanctification. Of course we obey the moral law out of gratitude to Christ for what He did for us on the cross and for His perfect and sinless life. But that obedience is not now nor will it ever be part of our ground or basis for salvation. It is a “result” of a credible profession of faith but not the cause of salvation.

Even the late Archbishop Thomas Cranmer got this. The 39 Articles, Articles 11 and 12, on justification and good works say this:

Article XI
Of the Justification of Man
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.


Based on the Confession of Würtemberg.

Article XII
Of Good Works
Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God’s judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

If anything, to emphasize sanctification above justification by melding the two together in a new sine qua non of the “gospel” in the doctrine of union with Christ is to commit the error of Osiander where justification and sanctification become infused. In fact in your earlier discussion with Lane Tipton the heading said, “Transformative aspects of justification.” This is the Roman Catholic position. There are no “transformative aspects of justification”! Justification is imputed and forensic and without that forensic, declarative justification there is no salvation and no acceptance of good works as pleasing to God. The 39 Articles of Religion refutes good works as acceptable before justification and the Articles also refute the idea that there is some sort of higher life of total sanctification, i.e. supererogatory works through “union with Christ” or any other such compromise with Rome. (See Articles 13 and 14).

If union with Christ is essentially sanctification and obedience then the implication is that new believers need to prove themselves before the judgment. That begs the question, “Is faith alone enough to justify the believer?” If not, then new believers, death bed conversions, and others who simply accept the Gospel are in for a hell of a time. My contention is that Tipton’s view–along with Norman Shepherd, the theonomists and reconstructionists and a whole host of other neo-legalists–has more in common with Rome than with Geneva or Canterbury or Wittenberg.


Charlie J. Ray said...

My other comment was:

Charlie J. Ray says:
December 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

I should also point out that anyone studying the English Reformation should know that the Lutherans DID influence the English Reformers. If you notice several of the 39 Articles were inflluenced by the Confession of Wurtemberg (a Lutheran document), particularly Articles 10, 11, and 12. If you know your church history you know that the Irish Articles of Religion drew from the 39 Articles and that the Westminster Confession itself draws from the Irish Articles and from the Lambeth Articles of 1595. Therefore Tipton’s assertion that Horton depends on Lutheran theology could be said to be substantiated to some degree. But then that would mean that Tipton is the one who isn’t Reformed and Horton is Reformed.

Only someone blind to church history could possibly say that Lutherans and Calvinists do not have some affinity on the doctrine of justification by faith alone and imputed righteousness. The appropriate sections of Calvin’s Institutes bear this out. Also, compare that to the Consensus of Tigerinus and one cannot help but notice that Calvin himself sought a consensus on doctrinal essentials with both Lutherans and Zwinglian Reformed theology.

Hey, why not invite R. Scott Clark or Carl Trueman to discuss the historical and theological roots of the Westminster Confession? Who is really the revisionist here?


Leave a reply

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. (Romans 16:17-18)

The Scripture verse at the end is meant to co-opt those who disagree with the neo-legalists, obviously:)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Revelation 13:8 KJV clearly says that Christ is "the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world". In other words, logically the decree for particular atonement precedes everything else. Redemption is impossible without the atonement. Therefore to argue about the temporal falling out of the ordo salutis in real time versus God's eternal decrees is to confuse the entire basis for the ordo salutis, being of course the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation.

Jack Miller said...

"... the entire basis for the ordo salutis, being of course the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation."

This is one of the things that I also keep wondering about in what seems an overwrought interpretation of in time ordo salutis vs. the sovereign decrees of God in eternity past. And, I agree on what is a vague definition on "union" leading to a seemingly mystical kind of connection to Christ through which the believer now receives benefits.

The hinge ain't union, as Calvin might say...

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks for your remarks, Jack....

I'm glad you posted a comment because I was not sure about how to contact you again. I have thought about our past interactions and I realized that I've been too reactionary and paranoid at some points. That's due to the fact that I've taken a lot of heat from the Anglo-Catholics and the High Church Arminians--and from Evangelicals in the Anglican Communion and the continuing churches....

If I have offended you in the past, please accept my apologies. I do often resort to polemics when that is not always the best way forward.

However, I do take seriously the admonition of Paul to Timothy to preach the word and be instant in season and out of season.... (2 Timothy 4:1, 2). David Virtue seems to think that having a pulpit or a successful ministry is the measure of truth. My view, however, is that being faithful to the propositional truths of the Scriptures and the Gospel are what matters most. That's why I do this blog. At least here I have an uncensored voice where I can expound on what I believe to be the confessional and Scriptural basis for the Christian faith.

Although I do not agree with Mike Horton on many issues, I believe Horton gets this one right. The ground and basis for true Christianity is justification by faith alone. Justification by faith alone is the sine qua non of the Gospel in my opinion. On that point I believe Lutherans and Calvinists and Reformed Anglicans can heartily agree--at least I hope so:)

May God's peace be continually and perpetually with you!


Charlie J. Ray said...

I don't know what Horton is referring to when he says that the doctrine of eternal justification has been historically connected with antinomianism and is connected with Barth's theology. I believe this is misleading. Herman Hoeksema outlined his doctrine of eternal justification in Reformed Dogmatics. Hoeksema can hardly be called an antinomian. Horton's remark is an over-generalization at best. (See Revelation 13:8 KJV).

Jack Miller said...

Thanks for your response. Apology accepted, though not really necessary. The earthen vessel we all have goes with the territory. I've often defended you in this way... "yeah, Charlie can too quickly make judgments that may wrongly paint someone as this or that, but what he is standing for is doctrinally solid." I'll take doctrinally solid any day.
I'm someone whose off-the-cuff remarks and reactions can too often rub the wrong way. We're still of Adam, i.e. bruised reeds carrying the remnants of our sins and weaknesses... all the while trusting in His merit alone.

I still think you're being too hard on Scott Clark as to his motives for ending the blog. I have a little insight to that regard. Just to say, I don't think Clark has given up the good fight one bit... but rather God has altered his path, at least for a time, for the refining of his servant.

Grace in, grace out...

Charlie J. Ray said...

"Nor the faith also does not shut out the justice of our good works, necessarily to be done afterwards of duty towards GOD (for we are most bounden to serve GOD, in doing good deeds, commanded by him in his holy Scripture, all the days of our life): But it excludes them, so that we may not do them to this intent, to be made good by doing of them. For all the good works that we can do, be imperfect, and therefore not able to deserve our justification: but our justification doth come freely by the mere mercy of God..." (Thomas Cranmer - Homily of Justification)

Thanks for posting that quote, Jack....

Jack Miller said...

By the way, I left a response to one of your comments at Reformed Forum, in case you didn't see it:

In addition, Robert Letham’s book on the history of the Westminster Assembly bears out your assertion regarding the roots of the Westminster Confession/Catechisms being firmly in the English Church’s Articles of Religion, Lambeth Articles, and Ussher’s Irish Articles.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Yes, I did see it just after I posted your comment here. Thanks for your comment and for your remarks there at Reformed Forum....


Jack Miller said...


"Although I do not agree with Mike Horton on many issues..."

What are some of the issues that you disagree with Horton on?

Charlie J. Ray said...

I disagree with Horton's view of the "big tent" or "village green" idea of Evangelical ecumenicalism. He reduces the doctrines required for "Evangelical fellowship" and dialogue to those of the Evangelical Theological Society, namely the 1) Trinity and 2) the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture and inerrancy. That would mean that the five solas are out the window and so are the five points of Calvinism.

Also, Horton thinks that "christless Christianity" is out and out pelagianism. By this he means that semi-pelagians are ok. That is, Arminianism is not a damnable heresy. That's why he can have Arminians and Anglo-Catholic sympathizers on The White Horse Inn. He's had William Willimon on the program and Thomas Oden, both of whom are United Methodists. I went to seminary at Asbury Theology Seminary and have heard both these men speak in the chapel services and in lectures. In my opinion Willimon leans toward liberalism even though Asbury is supposed to be conservative. Asbury also has a strong neo-orthodox tendency via the English Bible classes and the OT theology and exegesis classes. Von Rad, Eichrodt, and Bultmann are regular staples. Arminian seminaries are even more prone to liberalism than Reformed seminaries. Semi-pelagianism and Arminianism are both just fanciful redressing of pelagianism, imo.

Horton also had David Virtue on the program a couple of years back where Virtue was singing the virtues of the new Anglo-Catholic denomination, the Anglican Church in North America. Even the Sydney Anglicans endorsed the ACNA as an "orthodox" denomination.

This shows how far the Reformed tradition has fallen into compromise with unbiblical gospels and even false gospels. If Anglo-Catholics are "conservative and orthodox" why would Horton say that Rome has officially anathematized the Gospel? Have Anglo-Catholics somehow gotten off the hook?

I know it is a bit more radical than my previous views but I do not regard even Arminians as genuinely converted since they advocate "free will". That is a pelagian and a papist theology and certainly not the biblical view.

I should point out that Horton's comments about Lutheranism are over-generalized as well. Lutherans have the same problem with semi-Arminianism as do the Reformed. There is the group that follows C.F.W. Walther who believe in predestination and are for that reason called "crypto-Calvinists" and there is the Arminian side that more or less adopts the view of Erasmus and free will.

I also disagree with Horton and R.Scott Clark and Westminster CA on the issue of Cornelius Van Til and the three points of common grace, the free offer, and the well meant offer of the Gospel. Those are not the views of traditional Calvinism but are rather innovations introduced by Abraham Kuyper. Common grace is an Arminian doctrine.

Van Til is basically an Evangelical who watered down Barth's theology of paradox and the incomprehensibility of God so that Arminianism and Calvinism are not really that different but quibble over details. It's all a mystery you know. That's why Westminster PA has gone in the direction of Norman Shepherd, John Murray, John Frame, theonomy, Federal Vision, and neo-legalism.

If Westminster PA had followed Gordon H. Clark rather than Van Til the seminary could have been saved. As it stands, Westminster PA is well on the way to apostasy, imo.

I could probably mention other areas of disagreement but this summary should suffice for the moment.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Charlie J. Ray said...

You might want to check out these two articles on the Richard Gaffin issue:

"In Christ"


Richard Gaffin: Missing the Mark

Basically, Horton was unwilling to outright state that Tipton and Gaffin are heretics. But Horton did hint that Norman Shepherd was heretical since Shepherd was to be tried on heresy charges but resigned from his teaching post at WTS PA and went to the Christian Reformed Church before that could happen.

Tipton and Gaffin teach Osiander's view of justification, which focuses on the union with Christ doctrine to the point that the forensic aspects of justification become "transformative aspects of justification" as the heading on the original discussion at Reformed Forum said.

Also, if you will listen closely Camden Bucey and the other fellow are acting as if Horton is somehow on trial. They literally attacked him at several points in the discussion. Tipton refused to offer a surrejoinder for the simple reason that he knows that Horton's view is the traditional one.

The animosity between Westminster CA and Westminster PA can also be seen in this statement on justification at the Westminster CA website:

Westminster California Statement on Justification



Charlie J. Ray said...

I was pleased to hear Horton say that "definitive sanctification" is an innovation and not supported by the Westminster Standards OR the Three Forms of Unity. I wonder why Horton isn't consistent here? He should likewise admit that "common grace", the "well meant offer", and the ectypal/archetypal view of Scripture are innovations.

Jack Miller said...

Thanks, Charlie. I'll check these out.

you wrote: Also, if you will listen closely Camden Bucey and the other fellow are acting as if Horton is somehow on trial.


I'm aware of the "coolness" between WS Philly and WSC. I've benefited greatly from WSC and have no problems with their statement on justification, nor anything particular of Horton's.

By the way, my wife's father used to play chess with Gordon Clark at Wheaton way back when... small world.


Charlie J. Ray said...

What is the name of your father-in-law? That is interesting:) Does your wife know if Clark claimed to be friends with Van Til? Some folks, like Scott Oliphant, insist that Clark and Van Til were friends. I am skeptical of that claim.

You might be interested in this letter from Van Til to Clark:

Letter from Van Til to Clark

Jack Miller said...

His name is Howard Van Buren. He has long since gone to be with the Lord. I asked my mother-in-law if Clark and Van Til were friends. She didn't know. She also used to tutor French to Clark's children. This was late thirties, early forties.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I read someplace that Clark taught as an interim professor at Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia for a short time... Sometime in the 1940s I believe. Back then the RES was still Evangelical and not Anglo-Catholic.

Thanks for your time and the information, Jack:)

I'm 52. Time flies:)



Charlie J. Ray said...

R. Scott Clark is not all bad. My biggest problem with him is that he is a professor of historical theology yet he cannot see that neo-Kuperian theology (common grace) is really an innovation. Also, he's too loyal to Van Til's theology of analogy regarding Scripture.

Gordon H. Clark had problems as well. His last book was supposed to solve the problem of the Incarnation but didn't do anything except confuse the issue a bit more....

Take care...

Jack Miller said...

As Martin Luther said, "We're all beggars."


Jack Miller said...

Scott Clark, "not all bad..." I rather think he is quite very much in the good. Give him a bit of a break. He's moving the ball down the field toward the goal.

We're all a bit of a mixed bag.... ;-)


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