In his most recent response to Harrison Perkins’s TGC review of his book, Piper cites John Calvin as an example of someone who includes affections as a part of faith: “‘In a word, faith is . . . a warm embrace of Christ.’ Even the aspect of faith called ‘assent . . . consists in pious affection.’” This is an example of the inaccurate way that Piper cites texts, as Piper fails to note that Calvin is not here talking about justifying but sanctifying faith:
. . . In fact, Calvin is very clear that faith produces love and takes issue with Peter Lombard, who claims that love takes priority to faith: “For what the Schoolmen say as to the priority of love to faith and hope is a mere dream (see Sent. III.xxv, &c.) since it is faith alone that first engenders love.”
. . . A similar pattern unfolds with Piper’s citation of Owen in his response to Perkins. Piper makes the following quotation: “[Faith] is to receive the Lord Jesus in his comeliness and eminency. . . Let us receive him in all his excellencies, . . . comparing him with other beloveds, . . . and preferring him before them, counting them all loss and dung in comparison of him.” Once again, the context of this statement is crucial to understanding what Owen is saying. Within Owen’s broader corpus, he is very clear about the nature of justifying faith. In his The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, Owen takes aim at the Roman Catholic view: “Others plead for obedience, charity, the love of God, to be included in the nature of faith; but plead not directly that this obedience is the form of faith, but that which belongs unto the perfection of it, as it is justifying.” What, then, is the context of Piper’s quotation of Owen? He quotes Owen from his Communion where they context is not justification but rather communion with Christ…
J. V. Fesko | “A Historical-Theological Response to John Piper’s What Is Saving Faith?” | Reformed Faith & Practice, Vol. 8 Issue 1
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