Saturday, October 17, 2015

Faith, justification, and salvation

I'd like to make a few more quick points about Lee Irons in regard to John Piper:

1. One source of confusion is due to the fact that there are at least two conditions in play:

i) Faith is a necessary condition of justification

ii) Justification is a necessary condition of salvation

Lee oscillates between these two different, but interrelated, propositions.

2. I think some Calvinists are nervous about the word "condition" because they think it connotes uncertainly. Because "condition" is often used in human transactions, conditionality in that setting may be uncertain because human agents, unlike God, are not omnipotent and omniscient. Therefore, the parties cannot ensure the satisfaction of the conditions.

That, however, is not inherent in the nature of a condition. Rather, that's context-dependent. Incidental to the agent in question. 

For instance, the eternal decree has conditionality. The Resurrection is contingent on the Crucifixion, which is contingent on the Incarnation. Likewise, the death of Christ is contingent on the action of human participants like Judas, Pilate, and the Sanhedrin. 

That, however, doesn't render the outcome uncertain. These are determinate means to determinate ends. There's teleology within the decree, where the occurrence of one event depends on the occurrence of another event. Nested events; nested decrees. Yet the outcome is inevitable, as are the intervening events which facilitate the outcome. 


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  2. Another reason some don't like to use the term "condition" regarding justification is because it can connote merit. But Steve's example show they don't necessitate a concept of merit along with it. Some conditions may be logical conditions rather than conditions based on merit, earning or work.

    Besides, if I recall correctly, Sproul says that faith is a condition for justification, but a condition God Himself supplies. Not that God believes for us or in our stead/place, but God somehow efficaciously generates within us a faith we wouldn't have been able to generate apart from His grace.

    Some will argue that on that basis we can't fault Catholics because they teach that the works in justification by faith AND WORKS are graciously enabled works. True, and that's what some early fathers taught like Augustine. However, there's still a major difference in that for the Protestant the grounds of justification is the all sufficient works of Christ. Whereas in Catholicism, the grounds of justification is OUR works themselves (which admittedly are grace empowered/enabled). Those are two radically different grounds. Also, Catholics have added to the basic works of Augustine the whole plethora of extra-Biblical (even anti-Biblical) Catholic works which are alleged to be meritorious (via condign merit).

    The importance of the doctrine of Sola Fide is not so much in the faith, but in affirming the proper grounds of justification. As John Gerstner and R.C. Sproul point out, Sola Fide (faith alone) is theological shorthand for justification by works alone [sic], viz. the all sufficient works of Christ alone. This justification is received through the instrument (or condition) of faith alone.