Bahnsen Quote For Discussion

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Backwoods Presbyterian, Mar 25, 2008.

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  1. Stephen

    Stephen Puritan Board Junior

    I have no issue with Bahnsen's quote. I agree with it wholeheatedly. He is simply discussing the isssue of progressive sanctification, which affirms what the Westminster Standards teach. He does not mention the issue of theonomic ethics in the area of the civil magistrate, which would be an issue for another thread. The original point of this thread had to do with Bahnsen's view of progressive sanctification.
  2. Stephen

    Stephen Puritan Board Junior

    The way you have stated your position would not be in conformity with Scripture or the Westminster Standards. Sanctification is always an ongoing and progressive work in the believer's life. Justification has to do with our standing or position. If one is not progressing in holiness, he is not a believer. Justification always results in sanctification.
  3. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I am not certain that I understand what you mean by 'positional' here. Does it refer to the fact that sanctification follows justification? If so, :agree:
  4. mark

    mark Puritan Board Freshman


    From the pen of Herman Bavinck:

    "The covenant of grace, accordingly, is indeed unilateral: it proceeds from God; he has designed and defined it. He maintains and implements it....But it is destined to become bilateral, to be consciously and voluntarily accepted and kept by humans in the power of God," (Reformed Dogmatics, vol 2, p. 230).

    Perhaps this is doctrine of union with Christ which is wrought be means of repentance and faith and subsequent justification and sanctification (all aspects of the latter)?

    I know--a mouthful.
  5. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    I think I see what you are saying by possible. We want to be clear that sanctification is a temporal consequence of salvation (cause and effect), while justification is a logical consequence of salvation (necessary implication).

    Justified implies salvation. It has to do with our state of being saved. Sanctification is a consequence of salvation. It has to do with the effect of being saved. The relationships are different - one temporal, the other logical.

    No part of our sanctification saves/justifies us. But our justification is our salvation.
  6. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    The problem is the "encompasses" is a broad term. I really depends on what you mean by it. And the relationships between salvation and justification versus salvation and sanctification are very different. Using a single term "encompasses" to describe both relationships might tend to confuse.
  7. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Anthony, systematically that sounds neat and tidy, but I believe that Bahnsen was speaking biblically in the initial quote. For instance, we have scripture that seems to say that sanctification (along with faith, of course) leads to salvation: just the opposite of your rigorous definition:

    And we have verses that tie salvation to obedience:

    And also the use of the word for eschatology:

    Bahnsen, like all orthodox commentators, acknowledge that the term salvation encompasses more than justification. Sure, justification implies salvation. So does obedience (or sanctification). So does ultimate victory. I don't think we can be accused of heading off reservation if we acknowledge these obvious truths.
  8. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I would agree if only we were speaking about what man does but we are speaking (here) exclusively of God's act(ion) in salvation. When we talk about salvation as received by man then we must say that justification is by faith alone.
  9. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, salvation encompasses more than just justification.

    God does not justify men only to leave them in their sins. He makes them new men.

    If all God did was justify you, and left it at that, would you call it *salvation?*

    Salvation "encompasses" this:

    Bahnsen nowhere implies FV teaching in that quote. Indeed, his claims about imputed righteousness contradict many of them. Indeed, his separating justification from sanctification contradict what many FVers have implicitly taught. Indeed, it is standard Reformation teaching to argue that if no sanctification follows, then no justification was given, and hence no saving faith was had.

    From the LC:

    Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?

    A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification of his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.
  10. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    I agree. I mentioned the "biblical versus "systematic" and this specific verse earlier.

    Again I want to point out that not ever instance of "salvation" in Scripture references sanctification. The great majority of the instances seem to refer simply to our justification by Christ's work on the cross, or our final state of salvation at the Last Judgment. It seems to me to be questionable theology (biblical or systematic) to take a every instances of a term and conflate all its possible meanings into one defintion to apply to all instances.

    And Bahsen seems to have gone farther than that in the quote.
  11. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Our sanctification does not save us. The act of God that is saves is the justifying work of Christ on the cross. Do you disagree?
  12. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I do not disagree.

    But as I pointed out, God in Christ also saves us from the power of sin. This also is salvation by God for us. (not by us for us) In neither act do we play a part.
  13. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Word count:
    • justification (3)
    • sanctification (3)
    • salvation (0)

    The WCF did not "encompass" or "circumscribe" justification and sanctification with the term "salvation". It's less confusing that way. The WCF does not conflate the two ideas with a third term, a term which more reasonable belongs to one (salvation and justification).
  14. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    But then we are speaking about two senses of salvation, not one. One is to eternal life by imputed righteousness in a single perfect act of God with eternal implications. The other is a continuous work of God in our life time by infused grace through the Holy Spirit.

    Since our sanctification does not save us, it is confusing to say that the single term (salvation) "circumscribes" both justification and sanctification. It certainly does not do so in each instance in Scripture.

    Really, what we are arguing about is definitions. Bahnsen seem to have defined "salvation" so broadly as to "circumscribe" both justification and sanctification.

    I think this is confusing since the common defintion of salvation refers to an act of saving or the state of being saved, and normally refers to the theological doctrine of justification, while sanctification does not justify us and we want to avoid implying otherwise.
  15. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Salvation can include sanctification when we are broaching the (broader) idea of God's act-s(ion-s) towards the elect. Salvation does not include sanctification when we are examining God's act of declaring the sinner as justified as he receives the righteousness of Christ. If we distinguish salvation in this way I believe we avoid the confusion you are justifiably seeking to circumvent.

    If you don't feel comfortable stating it that way then I guess I don't have anything more to say except that we clearly agree on the main issues.
  16. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore


    This is in the context of "salvation" starting at Q. 61 and continuing until Q.90.

    It's standard Reformed thought that sanctification is part of salvation. A salvation without any sanctification is no salvation at all. Just as a salvation without glorification is no salvation. A salvation without the redemption of our bodies is no salvation.

    I'd add that there's a reason *santification* occurs in all Reformed expositions of the oro salutis.

    The main thing is that we do not want to include sanctificationas part of justification. They are dinstinguishable, not separate in that one could happen without the other. This is some of the FV's error. This is what Bahnsen distinguished, contrary to many in the FV and the RC.
  17. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Just clarify and rework the above in light of the unput of others in this thread could we say that salvation, since it includes justification and redemption, makes it possible for God to sanctify us by infusing us with grace, but it does not include the temporal 'working out' of progressive sanctification?
  18. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

  19. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2008
  20. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    It is both positional and progressive. As I pointed out your error in the other thread so graciously, both flow form the fountain of Grace..:)
  21. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    See Larger Catechism 32, "promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation."
  22. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Of course the thief is a special case, but I dare say in his short life as a believer he was indeed fearful and being sanctified. He was fully aware that he had no hope but Jesus. He was given the strength to defend God's holiness against a mocker. He had the God-given courage to acknowledge proper justice against him and the humility to beg Christ to save him. I'd say he was more alive as he was dying than he had ever been before.
  23. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Well said Victor. The thief was literally working out his faith in fear and trembling.
  24. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    Cuz he said so :lol:
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

  26. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    C'mon guys give me a little credit ;)
  27. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    The whole quote:
    The question then is, to what clause does the independent clause "and as the way which he has appointed them to salvation" refer to? I seems to refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit (to work in them the faith required).

    Also, what is the referent of "salvation" itself? Does it refer to final salvation, or our salvation by work of Christ our Mediator, or general deliverance from evil?

    But however you answer this, the term "salvation" is not the main subject, or the subject of a independent clause. So this does not seem to support the idea that salvation "circumscribes" both justification and sanctification.

    What are "other saving graces"? This seems to point to deliverance from sin through sanctification. But the word was not "salvific" (bringing salvation) graces. Again, the term "salvation" seem limited to the salvation through our Mediator by the work of Christ, and does not include sanctification (which is non-salvific).

    I think we can certainly say that Question 32 shows us that "the grace of God manifested in the second covenant" circumscribes both justification, and sanctification. And that makes much more sense and is less confusing.
  28. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

  29. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Why ask? Really?

    Scripture tells us the Spirit sanctifies those who believe (those who are justified). On what basis should we question his ability to do so in whatever time frame he chooses? God, the master and creator of time, space, and everything, can certainly control the method, timing, and the end for those who are washed, sanctified, and justified.

    It's not like any of us are saying you need X amount of sanctification before you are saved. God knows what we need to be made holy in his presence.
  30. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    If we grant the reality of definitive sanctification, then we don't have to worry about death bed conversions.
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