Fesko Reviews Garcia and Billings on Calvin's Doctrine of Union

At Ordained Servant. Dick Gaffin replies.

feskojustificationJohn Fesko is the new Academic Dean at WSC. He begins his duties on 1 July. John has recently published perhaps the most important single study of the doctrine of justification since the 19th century. He was just on campus this week participating in our recent accreditation visit. It was good to have him here and we look forward to seeing him here in July.

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  1. I’m reminded of something you have said in the past, that theologians and peculiarly seminary professors (rough paraphrase) have an obligation to be clear. Despite protestations otherwise, it is obvious that Dr. Gaffin failed as it regarded his development of union. In the end it seems you’re forced to ask the question; was this all really necessary? Was anything “helpful” or even significant advancement made, in our understanding by this need to have a distinct “reformed” view of justification over against a lutheran understanding? And if in the end we really haven’t said anything new or better yet weren’t intending to say anything new, where does Dr. Gaffin and some of his advocates now stand as it regards law/gopel distinctions as a “reformed” hermenuetical device? It seems to me throughout this whole discussion the Union development was strongly anchored in Murray’s monocovenantalism and an uncomfortability with any discontinuity particularly a dividing of the word along law/gospel lines not to mention discomfort with a more “true” or condign conception of merit in the edenic situation. My cynical nature clamors for more truth in disclosure, and maybe just more disclosure as well. Regardless, from my distant viewpoint the pink elephant seems to live.

  2. Thanks for posting those links.

    I have lately been crossing paths with otherwise good PCA congregations that have been overemphasizing union, and really muddling up the clarity with which we should view justification, and the object of faith. I do not believe them to be doing this intentionally, but rather it seems that as this view filters down into more popularized material they just pick it up as being something new and interesting; a way by which to revisit Paul’s theology with freshness (another “New Perspective on Paul”?!?). I don’t think that many of our lay-elders would be able to spot the issues involved, but having some materials like this by which to read and discuss certainly helps in that process.

  3. I don’t think that Dick is teaching Osiander. I can imagine someone taking it in that direction, however, since some are using it as a way to satisfy the Roman criticism that there is no intrinsic ground for justification. Swallowing Christ whole might be an outcome of that approach.

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