Category Archives: Union with Christ

Death of Death 1: Some thoughts on starting J. I. Packer’s introduction

ji-packer=john-owenI have decided to re-read John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. I’m reading the Banner of Truth paperback scan with the introduction by J. I. Packer.

J. I. Packer makes it clear that the Gospel is at stake in John Owen’s defense of “Limited Atonement.” This is the kind of thing where, if Packer is right, then the issue is really important. But if Packer is wrong, then he is being highly schismatic.

I may deal more with that later. What I want to notice in this blog post is that Packer has what a reader could interpret as two different versions of limited atonement in the first few pages of his introduction. On page 4 he sets out the five points:

(1.) Fallen man in his natural state lacks all power to believe the gospel, just as he lacks all power to believe the law, despite all external inducements that may be extended to him, (2.) God’s election is a free, sovereign, unconditional choice of sinners, as sinners, to be redeemed by Christ, given faith, and brought to glory. (3) The redeeming work of Christ had as its end and goal the salvation of the elect. (4.) The work of the Holy Spirit in bringing men to faith never fails to achieve its object. (5). Believers are kept in faith and grace by the unconquerable power of God till they come to glory.

However, on page 7 he specifies that, the redeeming work of Christ actually accomplishes the salvation of the elect in a significant way.

Calvinists, however, define redemption as Christ’s actual substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners, through which God was reconciled to them, their liability to punishment was forever destroyed, and title to eternal life was secured for them.

In my opinion, the most natural reading of the second description–the understanding I remember deriving from these words when I first read Packer in my youth–is plainly wrong.

When Saul of Tarsus was on the road to Damascus he was chosen by God for eternal salvation, but he was also an enemy of God, liable to punishment for his sins, and had no title to eternal life. God had decreed to bring him to repentance and faith and union with Christ to grant him that title, but he had no claim on it yet. God had not given it to him yet.

On the formula offered above, if Stephen called out to Saul, as he saw him overseeing the garments of the Sanhedrin, and warned Saul he was under God’s wrath for his hardness of heart and violence against the Church, Stephen would be making a claim that was not true. The penalty for Saul’s past, present, and future sins had already been paid. The wrath of God was already satisfied for him.

The Westminster Confession contradicts this position:

God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them. (“Of Justification” – Chapter 11, paragraph 4).

I remember reading the Confession and yet never really thinking about what this paragraph was telling me. If memory serves (and it may be inaccurate) part of the reason I couldn’t really acknowledge this paragraph was precisely because I had read J. I. Packer’s introduction to The Death of Death by John Owen. It blinded me. I remember the recruiter from Westminster Theological Seminary, talking to me at Houghton College (late 80s) and mentioning that Arminians had no theory of the atonement at all. And I of course thought that made perfect sense at the time. Now I realize I had implicitly denied justification by faith.

What I find odd is that Packer wants to affirm a Trinitarian salvation. On page 6:

For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners. God–the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power, and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of the Father and the Son by renewing.

But if Jesus has already given us title to eternal life, and made us no longer liable to eternal punishment, then I don’t see how this Trinitarian salvation holds up. The Spirit then, is not working to achieve salvation but is, in fact, simply an effect of salvation. He works to prevent unregenerate unbelievers from dying and going to heaven because God has already removed his wrath from them.

I have other problems with this second description. Allow me to quote it again with the next sentence included:

Calvinists, however, define redemption as Christ’s actual substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners, through which God was reconciled to them, their liability to punishment was forever destroyed, and title to eternal life was secured for them. In consequence of this, they now have in God’s sight a right to the gift of faith, as the means of entry into the enjoyment of their inheritance.

That is simply not what Calvinists believe, it is not logically demanded from Calvinism, and (unless John Owen can prove otherwise) it is not biblical. People are not adopted at the cross–in billions of case, before they actually exist–and then discover the enjoyment of this inheritance later in life when they are converted to faith by the Spirit. Anyone who has memorized the Westminster Shorter Catechism knows this is the case:

Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of, the sons of God.

And when are we adopted? The Catechism gives us the time frame:

Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.

No one has legal benefits, rights, or privileges before God as unbelievers who are not justified, even though God has chosen them for salvation and sent Christ to die and rise for them with their salvation as the end or goal of that work. We become heirs when we repent and believe. We don’t do this ourselves, God’s Spirit gives us faith by grace.

Since Packer is declaring what “Calvinism” is, I’m going to suggest it might be helpful to go to the source. Here is John Calvin, Book 3, of The Institutes of the Christian Religion:

THE WAY IN WHICH WE RECEIVE THE GRACE OF CHRIST: WHAT BENEFITS COME TO US FROM IT, AND WHAT EFFECTS FOLLOW

Chapter I: The Things Spoken Concerning Christ Profit Us by the Secret Working of the Spirit

1. The Holy Spirit as the bond that unites us to Christ. WE must now examine this question. How do we receive those benefits which the Father bestowed on his only-begotten Son–Not for Christ’s own private use, but that he might enrich poor and needy men? First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. Therefore, to share with us what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell within us.

Calvin’s words immediately line up with the Westminster Standards from a century or so later. They don’t work that well with Packer’s description of the work of Christ–the one he insists all Calvinists believe in.

 

A Scripture Reading and a Brief Exposition, and then a Baptism

Your browser does not support the audio element.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Exodus 10:7-11 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them, “Go, serve the LORD your God. But which ones are to go?” Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old. We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, for we must hold a feast to the LORD.” But he said to them, “The LORD be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Look, you have some evil purpose in mind. No! Go, the men among you, and serve the LORD, for that is what you are asking.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

 

1 Corinthians 10.1-4 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

1 Corinthians 12.12-26 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

 

Download or Listen

Please subscribe to my podcast in iTunes or another player.

Luther’s rejection of the obligation to travel back in time to track sins

As for the article of Hus that “it is not necessary for salvation to believe the Roman Church superior to all others” I do not care whether this comes from Wyclif or from Hus. I know that innumerable Greeks have been saved though they never heard this article. It is not in the power of the Roman pontiff or of the Inquisition to construct new articles of faith. No believing Christian can be coerced beyond holy writ.

via From Luther to Leithart » Mark Horne.

Thus Luther rejected Eck’s proposition and thus he defended the Gospel. Believers are right with God because they are believer regardless of what they believe about the Pope even if it were true. Luther had a jus humanum view of the papacy (as did many other medieval Christians; the idea that everyone accepted the supremacy of the Pope in the way modern Catholics demand it is an example of the victors–over a sect–writing the history). So he himself, at the time he argued with Eck, actually accepted the office of the Papacy. He still didn’t think it could be necessary for salvation.

But he also never bothered to address the question as to who was at fault in “The Great Schism.” Since he was a Western Christian, Luther probably took it for granted that the Eastern Christians should have stayed in union with Rome. But whether or not that is the case, in his response to Eck, he doesn’t think it was worth mentioning. It doesn’t matter. Believers are justified. Period. Full stop. They have zero obligation to engage in a historical study to make sure there is no “sin of schism” in their ecclesiastical “lineage.”

And likewise today, whether or not the Ecclesiastical splits of the Protestant Reformation were justified is a logically unrelated question to whether or not Protestant Churches are real churches or whether Protestant Christians are real Christians.

Protestants who pretend that all stands are falls on whether or not the Ecclesiastical divisions were justified are sliding away from the doctrine of justification by faith and sliding into a doctrine of ecclesiastical successionism.

From Luther to Leithart

I haven’t had time to blog in awhile and tonight is no exception. I’m supposed to be working on a fundraising letter. But this entry from Peter, while being excellent and obvious in its own right, also demands to be compared to the great Reformer Martin Luther in his public debate with Eck. First, here’s Peter:

I agree with the standard Protestant objections to Catholicism and Orthodoxy: Certain Catholic teachings and practices obscure the free grace of God in Jesus Christ; prayers through Mary and the saints are not encouraged or permitted by Scripture, and they distract from the one Mediator, Jesus; I do not accept the Papal claims of Vatican I; I believe iconodules violate the second commandment by engaging in liturgical idolatry; venerating the Host is also liturgical idolatry; in both Catholicism and Orthodoxy, tradition muzzles the word of God.  I’m encouraged by many of the developments in Catholicism before and since Vatican II, but Vatican II created issues of its own (cf. the treatment of Islam in Lumen Gentium).

I agree with those objections, but those are not the primary driving reasons that keep me Protestant.  I have strong objections to some brands of Protestantism, after all.  My Protestantism – better, reformed catholicity – is not fundamentally anti-.  It’s pro-, pro-church, pro-ecumenism, pro-unity, pro-One Body of the One Lord.  It’s not that I’m too anti-Catholic to be Catholic.  I’m too catholic to be Catholic.

Here’s the question I would ask to any Protestant considering a move: What are you saying about your past Christian experience by moving to Rome or Constantinople?  Are you willing to start going to a Eucharistic table where your Protestant friends are no longer welcome?  How is that different from Peter’s withdrawal from table fellowship with Gentiles?  Are you willing to say that every faithful saint you have known is living a sub-Christian existence because they are not in churches that claim apostolic succession, no matter how fruitful their lives have been in faith, hope, and love?  For myself, I would have to agree that my ordination is invalid, and that I have never presided over an actual Eucharist.  To become Catholic, I would have to begin regarding my Protestant brothers as ambiguously situated “separated brothers,” rather than full brothers in the divine Brother, Jesus.  To become Orthodox, I would likely have to go through the whole process of initiation again, as if I were never baptized.  And what is that saying about all my Protestant brothers who have been “inadequately” baptized?  Why should I distance myself from other Christians like that?  I’m too catholic to do that.

via Peter J. Leithart » Blog Archive » Too catholic to be Catholic.

Please go read the whole post (I speak to the one or two of you who has not done this already).

As for the article of Hus that “it is not necessary for salvation to believe the Roman Church superior to all others” I do not care whether this comes from Wyclif or from Hus. I know that innumerable Greeks have been saved though they never heard this article. It is not in the power of the Roman pontiff or of the Inquisition to construct new articles of faith. No believing Christian can be coerced beyond holy writ.

(Roland Baintan, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther [Nashville: Abingdon Press] p. 89).

The Reformation recovered the Gospel and, in so doing, recovered true Catholicism.

I’d rather believe in prevenient grace and justification by faith

The sinner receives the initial grace of regeneration on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ. Consequently, the merits of Christ must have been imputed to him before his regeneration. But while this consideration leads to the conclusion that justification logically precedes regeneration, it does not prove the priority of justification in a temporal sense.

via Where’s Waldo Wednesday: What’s At Stake?.

I noticed this in Berkhof back when I read him in (or before?) seminary and I’ll just state it again since I’m reminded of the quotation.

Berkhof must either:

1. Deny justification by faith

or

2. Deny the depravity of man.

Either is is possible for an unregenerate person to believe and thereby be justified or a person is justified without and apart from faith.

I realized, Berkhof claims no temporal priority but I don’t think that solves the problem.

And, to say that one is regenerated on the basis of the imputed merits of Christ doesn’t seem any more cogent than claiming that God only sent Jesus to die for sinners because he had first imputed Christ’s righteousness to them. We don’t need to “deserve” regeneration any more than we need to “deserve” for God to send his son for us.

God can be merciful.

This is Reformed soteriology as embodied in the Westminster Confession and catechisms:

1. God effectually calls us/regenerates us

2. Faith is both a gift of that union and the means by which it takes place.

3. The legal manifestation of union with Christ is justification before God.

See also The Belgic Confession

The Real Presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper — Why it matters

Why it matters will depend on a host of inferences. Not everyone makes the same inferences from the same principles. Systems can go in different directions. I can say everything at once in this brief post. Not going to try. But this is why I think if matters so much.

Are we saved by ideas or by Christ? We are justified by faith, but how? The answer that many have given from Scripture (John Calvin being one of the most influential with me) is that we are united to the person of Jesus Christ by faith. We are deeply and really, by the power of the Holy Spirit, flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.

So, assuming a certain kind of relationship between how we worship and how we are saved (see above re: inferences), eating and drinking at the Lord’s Supper is not simply about ideas or remembering what took place. It is a true renewal and participation in Christ’s risen, transfigured, human life. Christ has been vindicated, so in Christ is our justification.

That is the fundamental issue with me. It is the basic rationale for insisting on the point as important and worth arguing about against a “Zwinglian” position.

The great exchange means you are dealing with Jesus in that Christian who sinned against you

So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self.

So writes Paul to Philemon about his runaway slave, Onesimus.

Notice the exchange that takes place.

First, Paul says that Onesimus is being sent back to Philemon as Paul’s representative. Philemon must regard this slave who has sinned against him as Paul.

Second, Paul says that Onesimus’ sin against Philemon must be held against Paul.

Get that? Paul became Onesimus’ sin so that Onesimus could become Paul’s righteousness–his standing before Philemon.

Is that not the Great Exchange? According to Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we get Christ’s mission as the personification of the righteousness and faithfulness of God because Christ took our sin (Paul is speaking of Apostles here but I’m sure he would agree that the principle applies more widely):

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Onesimus the slave who sinned is, to Philemon, now an ambassador from Paul.

And this brings us to the sticking point.

Every Christian you know is sent to you by Jesus. Each one was commissioned in baptism to be Christ’s representative. And this calling is not destroyed by the ways they have sinned against you, much less annoy you.

You are supposed to receive them as you would receive Jesus. And any wrong they have done you, you are to charge to Christ’s account. He will repay it–to say nothing of your owing Him your very self.

Rough audio of the John Williamson Nevin’s introduction to “The Mystical Presence”

The Mystical Presence: A Vindication of the Reformed or Calvinistic Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist

audio

This was done in one sitting without corrections. I’ll need to improve the sound and find a way to do some editing before I read the whole book.

http://hornes.org/mark/docs/J%20W%20Nevin%20-%20Mystical%20Presence%20-%20Preface.mp3

From John Williamson Nevin’s introduction to Philip Schaff’s “The Principle of Protestantism”

The work will not be regarded by puseyites and papists as a plea in their favor. Rather, if I am not much mistaken, it will be felt by them, so far as it may come under their observation, to be one of the most weighty and effective arguments they have yet been called to encounter, in this country, in opposition to their cause. For it is not to be disguised that a great deal of the war which is now carried on in this direction is as little adapted to make any impression on the enemy as a battery of popguns in continual fire. Instead of being alarmed or troubled on its account, the enemy is up doubt pleased with it at heart. Nothing can be more vain than to imagine that a blind and indiscriminate warfare here can lead to any true and lasting advantage. Not with circumstances and accidents simply must the controversy grapple, but with principles in their inmost life, to reach any result. The present argument accordingly, in throwing itself back upon the true principle of Protestantism, with a full acknowledgment of the difficulties that surround it, while proper pains are taken to put them out of the way, may be said to occupy the only ground, on which any effectual stand can be made against the claims of Rome.

To contend successfully with any error it is all important that we should understand properly and acknowledge fairly the truth in which it finds its life. The polemic who assails such a system as popery or puseyism with the assumption that its pretensions are built upon sheer wind, shows himself utterly unfit for his work, and must necessarily betray more or less the cause he has undertaken to defend. All error of this sort involves truth, apprehended in a onesided and extreme way, with the sacrifice of truth in the opposite direction. Hence a purely negative opposition to it, bent simply on the destruction of the system as a whole, must itself also become inevitably onesided and false, and can only serve so far to justify and sustain what it labors to overthrow. Romanism includes generally some vast truth in every one of its vast errors, and no one is prepared to make war upon the error, who has not felt, in his inmost soul the authority of its imprisoned truth and who is not concerned to rescue and save this, while the prison itself is torn to the ground. In this view, no respect is due to an infidel or godless zeal, when it may happen to be turned in this direction, and that must be counted always a spurious religious zeal, which can suffer itself to be drawn into communion with such an irreligious element, simply because for the moment it has become excited against Rome. It is greatly to be feared, that the spirit into which some are betrayed in this way is unhallowed and profane, even where they take to themselves the credit of the most active zeal for tfce glory of God. So with regard to puseyism. Nothing can well be more shallow than the convenient imagination that the system is simply a religious monstrosity, engrafted on the body of the Church from without, and calling only for a wholesale amputation to effect a cure. Such a supposition is contradicted, to every intelligent mind by the history of the system itself. No new phase of religion could so spread and prevail as this has done, within so short a period of time, if it did not embody in itself, along with all its errors, the moving force of some mighty truth, whose rights needed to be asserted, and the want of which had come to be felt in the living consciousness of the Church, vastly farther than it was clearly understood. If the evils against which the system protests were purely imaginary, it could never have acquired so solid a character itself, as it has done in fact. Most assuredly the case is one that calls for something more than a merely negative and destructive opposition. Only by acknowledging and honoring that which is true and good in the movement, is it possible to come to any right issue with it so far as it is false. The truth which it includes must be reconciled with the truth it rejects, in a position more advanced than its own, before it can be said to be fairly overcome. In this view, it is not saying too much to affirm, that a large part of the controversy directed against it thus far has been of very little force. It has been too blind and undiscriminating, as one-sidedly false in its own direction at times, as the error it has opposed in the other. Our newspapers, and reviews, and pamphlets and books show too often that the question is only half understood by those who undertake to settle its merits. While they valiantly defend the citadel of Protestantism at one point, they leave it miserably exposed to the attacks of its enemies at another. With many it might seem to be the easiest thing in the world, to demolish the pretensions of this High Church system. Its theory of the Church is taken to be a sheer figment, its idea of the sacraments a baseless absurdity, its reverence for forms a senseless superstition. The possibility of going wrong in the opposite direction is not apprehended at all. Such a posture however with regard to the subject, is itself prima face. evidence that those who occupy it are not competent to do justice to the case.

Formulating Nevin’s Doctrine, Real Union or Legal Fiction 4

CONTINUED

Since Nevin was never particularly interested in original sin per se, he never systematically set forth his position on the subject. He says enough, however, for us to summarize a systematic position:

Adam was the natural root of the human race as well as its representative. When he sinned by eating the forbidden fruit he (1) incurred guilt, (2) lost his original righteousness, and (3) became corrupt. It is important to realize that (temporally) all of these things happened simultaneously. Obviously, he could not sin and only later lose his righteousness. Furthermore, the sin itself was the beginning of his corruption (indeed, corruption and want of original righteousness could easily be understood as different aspects of the same reality). Finally, the guilt was imputed because of the sin at the same time that the sin was committed.

Now, all Adam’s descendants who come from him by ordinary generation, come from Adam and Eve as sinners. They are guilty, lacking in righteousness, and corrupt. From this nature springs all subsequent human beings, who as separate individuals manifest this same guilt, lack of righteousness, and corruption. This corruption is simply the continuation of Adam’s first sin. [Why aren’t additional sins passed on in this way? One must remember that Nevin did not deny that Adam was a federal representative of the human race. To this objection he could have simply responded that only the first sin was confirmed into permanent depravity by God, so that it affected his posterity. The first sin especially confirms Adam’s descendants in depravity and guilt for the same reason that it especially confirmed Adam in depravity and guilt.]

Thus, the guilt attending that corruption is the guilt of Adam’s first sin. All Adamites have solidarity with Adam’s sin and guilt. We are guilty, lacking in righteousness, and corrupt because we have union with Adam.

Here we see the similarities and dissimilarities, between our union with Adam and our union with Christ. We are in union with Adam simply by virtue of being human. To be a human being means simply to have acquired our nature from Adam–a corrupt nature. Personal existence is inconceivable without him. Yet Christ is communicated to us by the Holy Spirit as an alien person with an alien righteousness so that we, because we are engrafted into Him, are given justification and sanctification–His righteousness is imputed to us and His holy life is imparted to us so that we ourselves grow in holiness. There is nothing in Nevin’s presentation which renders justification a “transfusion” as in Tridentine theology. [In the January 1854 Biblical Repertory & Princeton Review, Hodge wrote a review of the English translation of Philip Schaff’s History of the Apostolic Church. Since he had already reviewed the original German version, Hodge took this opportunity to simply evaluate the “Mercersburg theology” and the furor it was causing. He magnanimously defends Schaff by claiming that he was himself quite sound but was too much influenced by Nevin! Of special interest in this review is the fact that Hodge praised Schaff’s defense of forensic justification as impeccably sound (pp. 154-155). Yet later in the same article he criticizes Schaff for holding the same view of justification as Nevin (pp. 175-176). Somehow, it is possible for someone who holds to a non-protestant, “romish” view of justification to simultaneously be a clear expounder of the pure Reformed doctrine.]

The fact that the basis of justification is mystical union through the Holy Spirit does not change the fact that the nature of justification is declarative and forensic. The point simply is that there is a basis for God’s declaration–union with Christ.

[John Murray (in The Imputation of Adam’s Sin [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1959] p. 70) wrote defending “immediate” imputation: “The one ground upon which the imputation of the righteousness of Christ becomes ours is the union with Christ. In other words, the justified person is constituted righteous by the obedience of Christ because of the solidarity established between Christ and the justified person. The solidarity constitutes the bond by which the righteousness of Christ becomes that of the believer.” Nevin could and would, I think, easily subscribe to this formulation. But Murray continues: “This is to say that the conjunction is immediate. If the case is thus on that side of the analogy which pertains to justification, we should expect the modus operandi to be the same in connection with condemnation.” Here we see that Nevin and Murray are of two different worlds. Nevin never took sides on the question of “mediate” versus “immediate” imputation, and I suspect that he would simply reject the distinction, as Dabney did, as an “over-refinement” (Discussions: Evangelical & Theological, vol 1, [London: Banner of Truth, 1890, 1967], p. 264). But for Nevin, the Holy Spirit is the One through whom there is a “solidarity established between Christ and the justified person.” For Murray this union or solidarity is somehow a transtemporal phenomenon–a legal union, or a property of God’s eternal decrees. Thus Murray makes original sin rest on that sort of solidarity, “[A]ll the members of the race were contemplated by God as destined to exist; they were foreordained to be and the certainty of their existence was thus guaranteed. It is important in this connection to bear in mind that as thus contemplated by God they were contemplated no otherwise than as members of the race in solidaric union with Adam and therefore as having sinned in him. In other words, they are not conceived of in the mind and purpose of God except as one with Adam; they are not contemplated as potentially but as actually one with Adam in his sin” (p. 91).]

TO BE CONTINUED