This is 13th and final part of the our series, nomism, antinomianism and The Marrow of Modern Divinity. If you’re just joining us, you can start at the beginning with episode 58. Why this series? Because The Marrow was an important classic Reformed text published during the Westminster Assembly. It was well regarded by many of the divines and by the best of the 18th-century Reformed (e.g., Thomas Boston). That it generated a controversy in the first quarter of the 18th century in Scotland is illuminating for our contemporary discussions about justification and sanctification. Those who opposed republication of The Marrow and its doctrine are described by historians as “neonomians.” They were the theological heirs of Richard Baxter who worried about the free offer of the gospel of unconditional acceptance with God solely on the basis of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness received through faith alone. They worried that the gospel of grace would lead to licentiousness. The neonomians were unsatisfied with consequent conditions, they wanted to make our standing with God dependent upon our obedience. Now, as then, there are some who insinuate that The Marrow was antinomian so it’s a good acid test, a good way to see if a preacher is a gospel man or a neonomian.
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“They were the theological heirs of Richard Baxter who worried that the free offer of the gospel of unconditional acceptance with God solely on the basis of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness received through faith alone.”
The above sentence does not make any sense! They worried that ….?
Furthermore, like Raymond Blacketer, who is one of Richard A. Muller’s students in the area of the codification of Protestant orthodoxy, I do not accept the so-called “free offer” and to label those who reject this concept as being neonomian is at best pejorative and is not an argument based on the facts of historical theology.
I’ve fixed the typo.
I responded, in print, some years ago to the claim that “offer” doesn’t mean offer.
Here is some of that work.
Ps. I’m not claiming that all who deny the Free Offer were/are nomists but the neonomians in the GA of the Kirk did do.
I especially like footnote 58. However, nothing that you said there convinces me that the Marrow of Modern Divinity by Fisher is orthodox. Furthermore, I would hardly use Curt Daniel as a reliable source or riposte against Raymond Blacketer.
I have done a fairly thorough survey of original sources to investigate how they use the verb offer (offero, oblatus) and it is clear to me that, read in context, it is used consistently in the sense of a genuine, free, well meant offer of the Gospel. That idea was taught in the context of their doctrines of Original Sin and predestination. That is why or one reason why writers such as Oleviamus distinguished between the substance of the covenant of grace and it’s administration. The free offer or well meant offer was understood as part of the administration of the covenant of grace.
You are entitled to think what you will about the doctrine but the history is fairly clear.
A very helpful study by Mark Beach on Calvin and the gospel offer (including the definition of “offer”) is available here:
My own work should be out, Lord willing, early next year: