What is the

Discussion in 'Cults & World Religions' started by cupotea, Nov 24, 2003.

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  1. cupotea

    cupotea Puritan Board Junior

    I've heard much discussion about the "Auburn Four," and though it makes me feel out of the loop, I must ask, because my curiosity is nearly overwhelming!
     
  2. pastorway

    pastorway Puritan Board Senior

    Four men who are teaching heresy, denying forensic justification by faith alone and proclaiming that we are saved by grace but maintain our salvation by works. They teach that if we do not continue in good works then even though we are elect, regenerated, and being sanctified, we will not be FINALLY justified before God and will fall away and be judged in hell!

    The term Auburn comes from the fact that they first presented this error formally at the Auburn Avenue Pastor's Conference in 2001. They are following in the footsteps of NT Wright and Norman Shepherd in the error of New Perspectivism.

    Do a search on the Puritan Board for threads with the terms Auburn 4, NPP, New Perspectivism, and Doug Wilson (who is one of the 4).

    Phillip
     
  3. cupotea

    cupotea Puritan Board Junior

    Pastor Way,

    Respectfully, you wrote:

    They teach that if we do not continue in good works then even though we are elect, regenerated, and being sanctified, we will not be FINALLY justified before God and will fall away and be judged in hell!

    This is wrong, as I have mentioned before. This is defined as libel, as you have mentioned. They do not teach that we can be ELECT, or REGENERATED, and fall away. They have never taught that. If you are teaching this publicly and verbally, then you are also guilty of slander when you do. I challenge you to come up with one solitary statement that demonstrates that. They believe that you can be in covenant with God externally (not internally) and yet fall away. I have mentioned this to you before, and yet you continue to spread this misrepresentation. It is my duty to publicly correct you on this, as my professors even have mentioned to our classes. (Ex: One professor who had a Ph.D. told the class that amillennialists do not believe Christ is coming again physically. I publicly corrected him in front of the whole class.) The Proverbs tells us that he who spreads slander is a fool. Be careful!

    Please show one quote from these men that demonstrates that they believe you can be REGENERATED and ELECT, and yet fall away.

    Josh Brisby

    [Edited on 12-2-2003 by Josh Brisby]
     
  4. Bladestunner316

    Bladestunner316 Puritan Board Doctor

    What does forensic mean? in relation to justification? whenever I hear it I think about people examing dead corpses.

    blade
     
  5. cupotea

    cupotea Puritan Board Junior

    Blade,

    Forensic is a legal term. Forensic justification means that God declares us righteous judicially. It has to do with a courtroom scene. God the Father slams down the gavel and declares us not guilty because of the merits of Christ. Rome calls this legal fiction--but I of course would ask Rome, as R.C. Sproul would: Is it legal fiction then that our sins were imputed to Christ?

    Josh
     
  6. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    [quote:e65e15c993][i:e65e15c993]Originally posted by Bladestunner316[/i:e65e15c993]
    What does forensic mean? in relation to justification? whenever I hear it I think about people examing dead corpses.

    blade [/quote:e65e15c993]

    Forensic justification means legal justification. It means that the believer is acquitted in the law court by God as the judge on account of the merits of Christ. Simply put, it means that we are simul iustus et peccator (saint and sinner at the same time) since when we are justified, it is not because we have inherent personal righteousness (so, Rome) but an alien righteousness imputed (counted) to us, Christ's.
     
  7. pastorway

    pastorway Puritan Board Senior

    Josh -

    So I am a fool? Then so are Lig Duncan, Doug Kelly, Richard Phillips, Joey Pipa, Al Martin, James White, Mark Dever and others who have stood up and spoken up against the NPP heresy and the teachings of Wilson et al. I guess I am in a good company of fools, eh?

    I have not lied about these men or what they teach so your public correction is unwaranted and is in itself [i:92f55e5c00]libelous[/i:92f55e5c00] toward me.

    The evidence is available for any who want to find it online or in the books and sermons these guys put out.

    The statement about falling away even after regeneration and election and sanctification was given to me by an OPC pastor who WAS THERE and heard these guys teach this doctrine!!! Others have also heard it and reported the very same thing! It has been confirmed by witnesses. It is there in the messages they presented at the 2003 AAPC.

    If you get the transcripts or recordings of the conference and listen closely you will hear this undeniably taught by these men!

    [quote:92f55e5c00][i:92f55e5c00]notes from an OPC pastor who attended the conferences and heard these four speak[/i:92f55e5c00]
    The conference for this year (03) was titled "Federal Vision" and dealt at the root with what our vision should be of the church.

    Problems Addressed by the A4 -
    1. They affirmed the five points of Calvinism, but are concerned that it is impractical to focus so much on something that is invisible to us, namely our election. We cannot see the Book of Life.
    2. They are concerned that too many evangelical and conservative Reformed folks focus only on the invisible dimension of our salvation and the church.
    3. They are concerned that too many people lack assurance because they are looking at the invisible decrees of God for proof of their salvation. ("Am I elect?")
    4. They worry that much of Reformed and evangelical teaching leads to doubt rather than assurance.

    Solutions posed by the A4 -
    1. Look at the Covenant to get an objective handle on these issues.
    2. The Covenantal Approach (as oppossed to the what Story referred to as the "Decreedal" approach - the decrees of God) does justice to the "breadth" of the Church.
    3. The Covenantal approach will do justice to sacramental efficacy (the sacraments have "meaning" - they DO something).
    4. The Covenantal Approach will put assurance, promises, church membership, and church privileges on an objective basis.

    1. They affirmed -
    Salvation is for all covenant members [b:92f55e5c00]to some degree[/b:92f55e5c00]
    Entrance into the covenant is by baptism
    Those in the covenant are in the church of Jesus Christ
    The term "Christian" or "Saint" applies to all who are baptized
    [b:92f55e5c00]Baptism actually unites with Christ
    Covenantal union is always saving union [/b:92f55e5c00]
    Baptism places you in the covenant relationship
    Baptism is the ground for assurance
    Baptism is the ground for assurace for the salvation of our children
    Sacraments are efficiacious in that they bestow grace
    [b:92f55e5c00]Holy living in necessary for continued eternal life[/b:92f55e5c00] and covenantal blessings

    2. They Oppossed -
    Necessity of a conversion "experience" for salvation or assurance
    Morbid introspection by a covenant member
    Extensive self examination will have a debilitating affect and harm assurance

    The four Respondents (Pipa, Sproul jr, etc) had the following to say:

    Pipa said that they were [b:92f55e5c00]guilty of heresy[/b:92f55e5c00].

    To support the claim of heresy, the respondents warned that this Auburn theology was either leaning towards or would manifest itself eventually in:
    1. Sacramentalism - Opera operato - the sacraments are the means of grace (RCC!!!!!)
    2. Externalism - a neglect of "heart religion" due to over-emphasis on external factors
    3. Wrong basis and misplaced trust for assurance
    4. Ignores the distinctions between the visible and invisible church. (Wilson denies a distinction completely, more on that later).
    5. Will lead to despair ("What else can I do? I have been baptized, but......") as conviction is not dealt with properly.
    6. Will lead to sinfulness (an excuse, "I've been baptized so I am saved, I can do what I want.").
    7. Warned about countering hyper-individualism by denying individual election in favor of corporate election.
    8. Misses a sound theology of conversion.

    Various Notes -

    Wilson says that if you are in the church you are in the church, there is no visible/invisible. There is ONE church and it is VISIBLE.

    Several in attendance noted that the teaching of A4 was "wrong" and had a "bad trajectory." They have said it was error and would lead to further error. It seems that the A4 are turned to look back at Rome and their followers will in time break out into a sprint leading right back to the RCC.

    Assurance was not an external thing and that to say that we should look to our baptism for assurance violated the truth that we look to Christ and His finished work for assurance. We are to walk by faith, not sight. The A4 are rejecting walking by faith and want to walk only by sight. They also reported that we must realize that the means of grace are necessary but not the cause of salvation. The Holy Spirit applies the means and HE causes salvation. The A4 are saying that the means [i:92f55e5c00]cause[/i:92f55e5c00] salvation.

    They said that the followers of the A4 will eventually miss "heart religion: and replace it with an external formalism. They will also have a false assurance for their children. They feel the root of this Auburn theology is a desire to give parents in covenantal churches a way to have assurance that their children are saved, or will be saved. They appear to try to give parents a way to OBLIGATE God in the salvation of their children. However, God is not obligated, nor can He be, to save anyone!

    It was admitted by all that the A4 were not all in the same place or agreeing on everything. Barach was the furtherst in error and Wilson the least. But they are all in error.

    An OPC minister summarized the error this way (from his notes) - [b:92f55e5c00]they are teaching election, but it is election to the Covenant. In the Covenant of Grace you can be in that covenant, in covenant relationship with God, but receive the covenant curses instead of the covenant blessings/promises. One's justification starts by faith alone but is continued by faithful obedience (works). The elect are elected not to eternal life, but to the covenant. As such, all covenant members MAY be regenerated and converted. However, they are not elected to persevere. The elect who are regenerated must continue in good works, and by doing so actively MAKE their calling and election sure. [/b:92f55e5c00]

    [/quote:92f55e5c00]

    Further, Wilson is under church discipline for his teaching.

    [quote:92f55e5c00][i:92f55e5c00]from the denomination that has Wilson under church discipline![/i:92f55e5c00]

    About thirty years ago, a theological movement dubbed "The New Perspective on Paul" was making headway, represented by the writings of E.P. Sanders, J.G.D. Dunn, and N.T. Wright. This "New Perspective" challenged hundreds of years of orthodoxy and claimed that the reformed understanding of the Apostle Paul's writings were in error, filtered through Hellenistic, enlightenment, rationalistic lenses rather than through the mindset of first century Palestinian Judaism. The "New Perspective" was that Paul's debate with the Judaizers was not about grace versus Jewish legalism, but rather about the status of Gentiles within the church.
    At roughly the same time, Norman Shepherd taught and published his views on justification and baptism while a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His views were seen by the seminary and most of the students as contrary to the Scriptures and the reformed creeds and confessions. He was removed from his teaching position in the seminary, though the seminary was careful to cite only the need to distance itself from the controvery itself as the reason for the removal. Most recently Mr. Shepherd published a book expounding his views titled "The Call of Grace.
    In January of 2002, Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (PCA) hosted its annual pastor's conference. Shepherd was scheduled to be a speaker at the event but could not attend. [b:92f55e5c00]The speakers (Barach, Schlissel, Wilkins, and Wilson) focused their lectures on the covenant, combining the teachings of Shepherd and and the "New Perspective," calling on the listening crowd to reject the historical Reformed understanding of baptism, covenant, and justification as "frozen in the 1640's" and insufficient[/b:92f55e5c00]. They taught at the conference that Christians ought to embrace the idea that [b:92f55e5c00]baptism begins a process of justification which is maintained by faithful obedience leading to eventual and final justification at the judgment. That is, of course, for those who remain faithful. Those who do not remain faithful are excommunicated and left to damnation, losing what they once had[/b:92f55e5c00]. Accompanying this is a continual deemphasizing of individual justification in favor of the emphasizing of corporate justification. In essence, Mr. Shepherd and his followers hold forth teachings that blur the distinction between justification and sanctification and amount to a salvation by faith plus works.

    Barach - "There is no separation between 'in the covenant' or 'really in the covenant,'" he claimed, teaching throughout his lectures that every baptized individual is indeed a covenant member. Furthermore, Barach espoused a view that holds the baptized to be the elect of God. In this scheme, God promises salvation through baptism to those who persevere in the faith.

    Schlissel is one of the four (including Wilson) that preached at the pastor's conference. He communicated in letters to an elder questioning an article he wrote that he does "very much approve of Norman Shepherd's work on covenant" and "hope he [Shepherd] goes farther still." He also wrote addressing the doctrine of salvation, "Are you saved apart from faithful obedience? "

    Steve Wilkins gave one lecture at the end of the conference entitled "The Legacy of the Half-way Covenant." In this lecture, he reviewed the sacramental practices of historical Reformed groups like the Puritans and the southern Presbyterians of the 19th century. "They completely ignored the significance of baptism and consequently misunderstood the nature of salvation.... The biblical teaching of salvation coming to us by our union with Christ was lost in its true sense." Instead of accomplishing nothing, baptism visibly solidifies our covenant membership, uniting us with Christ. "There is no presumption necessary" in viewing all covenant members as elect. Instead, covenant members are to be fully nurtured in the faith. [/quote:92f55e5c00]

    More info on their heresy and denial of doctrines that are foundational to the gospel, you can visit these sites:

    http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/Auburn2.html

    http://www.rpcus.com/aapc.htm

    http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/SchismCA.htm

    There are other resources available online as well.......

    Be sure to read the webmaster's review of [i:92f55e5c00]Reformed is Not Enough[/i:92f55e5c00] here. He identifies Wilson as a heretic too. I guess he is a fool with me, too!?

    Josh, whether you admit it or not, the Auburn 4 are heretics. You either need to pull your head out of the sand and stop denying something that you know nothing about or admit that you are taken with their teaching and identify yourself as a follower of Auburn Theology and The New Perspective on Paul.

    If you persist in defending the Auburn Four, Wright, or Shepherd one more time you will be banned from the Puritan Board.

    That is all for now -
    Phillip


    [Edited on 12-2-03 by pastorway]
     
  8. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Josh,

    The Auburn 4 are outright heretics. some even worse than others.

    For a critique of Wilson's confusing heresies, see these articles:

    "Reformed" is Definitely Enough:
    A critique of Douglas Wilson's book, "Reformed" is not Enough"
    By C. Matthew McMahon

    http://www.apuritansmind.com/BookReviews/Sourpuss/WilsonDouglasReformedNotEnough.htm

    A Defense of Reformed Orthodoxy Against the Romanizing Doctrines of the New Auburn Theology
    By: Brian Schwertley

    http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/Auburn2.html


    [Edited on 12-2-2003 by webmaster]
     
  9. luvroftheWord

    luvroftheWord Puritan Board Sophomore

    I believe a question that we must always ask when dealing with a controversy like this is, "What has led these men to say the things they are saying? What questions are they trying to answer? What issues are they addressing?"

    I would just say that I believe the AAPC controversy has risen as a result of CT's neglect of the fact that Biblical covenants are historical events that actually work out in redemptive history. It seems that historically, CT has used the term "covenant" almost exclusively as a technical term to describe theological categories. I believe that this is one of the issues that the Auburn 4 are trying to address. The Auburn 4 see the covenants of Scripture as real historical realities with real implications for its members. They are reacting against the tendency of Reformed theologians to prioritize the transcendent truths as being more "spiritual" than the historical or temporal truths. If I am right and this really is one of their concerns, then I fully support them in that regard.

    Here's a perfect example of this false prioritizing of the "spiritual" over the "temporal". Take the hypostatic union of the deity and humanity of Christ. Most of us really don't believe Jesus had a human nature. We pay lip-service to the doctrine, but if we would be honest with ourselves, we would all say that the fact that Christ is a human really doesn't mean much to us personally. If you don't believe me, then why is it that every time a person says, "Jesus is 100% man", 9 times out of 10 you will hear a person jump in and say, "but wait! Jesus is also 100% God!" But why is it that when a person says, "Jesus is 100% God", 9 times out of 10 we will never feel the need to stand up and say, "But wait! Jesus is also 100% man!" It's because we have wrongly bought into the Platonic idea that it is the spiritual things that are really "real" and really meaningful, and the temporal things are, at best, things to tide us over until we can experience the "spiritual" realities of eternity.

    Now what does that have to do with the AAPC? Well, I believe they are concerned with restoring the significance of the earthly temporal things to our minds. Particularly with the sacraments, they are concerned with restoring the sacramental nature of baptism and the Lord's table to the church today, that sadly enough has minimized the sacraments to mere empty observances, even in Reformed churches (contrary to their creeds and confessions). I believe the same can be said for things like earthly temporal covenant membership, corporate identity, etc.

    If I am right in what I have said so far, and these really are some of the concerns of the Auburn 4, then I share the same concerns and I am happy that someone has tried to step up and correct these mistakes in our tradition.

    The problem, though, is that the Auburn 4 have apparently let the pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction. They have, perhaps unintentionally, given the temporal and historical things precedence over the transcendent and spiritual things. They have emphasized the historical nature of the covenant to the point that the sacraments have become almost magical, election is almost reduced to corporate identity, etc. They have moved from one unfortunate situation to another.

    The Christian faith is all about balance. We must never let either the spiritual or the temporal take precedence over one another, but we must seek to find the balance between the two. And because the deck of life is always shifting, this may require more of an emphasis on one than the other at certain times. This is what Richard Pratt calls "momentary synchronicity".

    I believe we could have learned a lot from the Auburn 4. Unfortunately, in their efforts to correct some problems in the Reformed tradition, they have cut off their nose despite their face. You should read them with caution, but perhaps the best thing is to disregard them altogether.

    [Edited on 12-2-2003 by luvroftheWord]
     
  10. luvroftheWord

    luvroftheWord Puritan Board Sophomore

    Paul,

    I will DEFINITELY take that as a compliment. :bigsmile:
     
  11. luvroftheWord

    luvroftheWord Puritan Board Sophomore

    It's hard to dislike Poythress if you really like Frame. They are like twins theologically. Frame has said that himself in class.

    So I guess I am also a Poythressite! :lol:
     
  12. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Brisby,
    I would encourage you to discernfully listen to the Auburn 4 pastors conference at sermonaudio.com. In the lectuer on Covenant and Election you will find the Pastor Way is right on in his criticism about falling away.

    LOTW,
    Though I agree with your conclusion to disregard the Auburn 4 I don't agree that they are trying to correct something. In listening to the 2002 Conference lectures I found myself agreeing with some things they said, but their appraoch at identying defficiencies in the traditional Reformed Faith was I think blatantly dishonest or severely ignorant. The problems they addressed (i.e. children in the covenant and assurance of salvation) I think are handled quite sufficiently in the traditional view. But the examples they use are from extremist groups like the NRC which they portray as mainstream Reformed thought, and then proceed to "correct" it with their "biblical" solutions. When anyone feels they have to argue in this fashion then I conclude they are trying to be deceptive.
    :wr50:
    Puritan Sailor
     
  13. Guest

    Guest Puritan Board Freshman

    [quote:b81280cd90]
    It's hard to dislike Poythress if you really like Frame. They are like twins theologically. Frame has said that himself in class.

    So I guess I am also a Poythressite!
    [/quote:b81280cd90]

    Agreed. They are both excellent thinkers.
     
  14. cupotea

    cupotea Puritan Board Junior

    Pastor Way,

    Perhaps Doug Wilson et al have not made clear what they are saying, and that is why all the fuss is happening. But please understand that when asked to demonstrate that Doug Wilson said what you said he said, all you did is appeal to another non-source. Where do you get this from the firsthand sources themselves?

    In fact, consider the following statement from Doug Wilson in his Reformed is Not Enough, p. 135:

    "They, being elect, are not vulnerable to ETERNAL punishment . . . . Nonelect covenant members neglect the means of their preservation in a more fundamental sense, which is why they fall away."

    Well, there you have it. Firsthand proof that Doug Wilson did NOT teach that one can be regenerate and elect and yet fall away.

    Pastor Way, what do you make of this? I respectfully believe that you owe this board an apology.

    Josh

    P.S.--Douglas Wilson disagrees with Norman Shepherd in that Wilson still holds to the active obedience of Christ in justification. I completely disagree with Shepherd's denial of the active obedience, as well as Andrew Sandlin's denial of the covenant of works. Also, Wilson has an entire appendix in his book critiquing the New Perspective movement. John Frame also critiques the New Perspective in his article on Law and Gospel, yet he has also been called a heretic by many (especially at Westminster West).

    [Edited on 12-3-2003 by Josh Brisby]
     
  15. luvroftheWord

    luvroftheWord Puritan Board Sophomore

    Josh,

    Don't bother with trying to defend Wilson with his actual statements. They've already made up their minds about him.
     
  16. pastorway

    pastorway Puritan Board Senior

    Josh -

    Did you not read my post above where I said specifically:

    [quote:d7243874a7][i:d7243874a7]posted by pastorway[/i:d7243874a7]
    If you persist in defending the Auburn Four, Wright, or Shepherd [u:d7243874a7]one more time[/u:d7243874a7] [b:d7243874a7]you will be banned[/b:d7243874a7] from the Puritan Board. [/quote:d7243874a7]

    Did you read the webmasters review of Wilson's book?

    Have you listened to all of the conference messages from the last 2 years of the AAPC conference? Have you listened to the messages from the men who went to the conference to refute their errors?

    In those messages, the Auburn Four, including Wilson, say what I have said they said. It has been confirmed by my own ears and by MANY WITNESSES.

    I have heard what these men said. I have read articles and talked in person to men who were there at the conferences. I have listened to rebuttals about what these men have said from some of the greatest theological minds available to the church today.

    And yes, LOTW is correct. After reviewing their teaching for 2 years, my mind is made up. These men deny the gospel of Jesus Christ and should be (as some of them are, even Wilson) under church discipline for their doctrinal stance.

    If they fail to repent they should be put out of the church like the false teachers that they are.

    That is all we are going to say on the matter.

    Phillip

    [Edited on 12-3-03 by pastorway]
     
  17. luvroftheWord

    luvroftheWord Puritan Board Sophomore

    Puritansailor,

    I would have to disagree, I believe. People are always motivated to say and do the things they do because of concerns that they have, whether implicit or explicit. But I do know that if what I have said above was not one of their motivations, it has at least become a concern to them along the way because they do criticize the modern Reformed church because of its neglect of the temporal and earthly. At least in the case of Doug Wilson, this has been a concern of his for a long time, even before the AAPC controversy. It comes through in books like [u:e6ef568b11]Angels in the Architecture[/u:e6ef568b11] and in all of his Credenda Agenda issues.
     
  18. regswrb

    regswrb Puritan Board Freshman

    FREE RESOURCES CRITIQUING DOUG WILSON & THE AUBURN FOUR

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

    Still Waters Revival Books has a page of free resources regarding this issue at:

    +++ Refuting Doug Wilson, Credenda Agenda Magazine, John Frame, the new "Auburn Theology," N.T. Wright (the New Perspective on Paul), etc.
    http://www.swrb.com/newslett/FREEBOOK/DWilson.htm

    I also strongly recommend the reading of:
    ________

    +++ BOOK REVIEW: "Reformed" is Not Enough by Douglas Wilson reviewed by Drs. Matthew McMahon at "A Puritan's Mind."

    This extensive book review contains much more proof that Doug Wilson is not only not Reformed (using the confessional and historic meaning of the word), but that he is also ignorant of many classic Reformation doctrines.

    Drs. McMahon writes,

    "Innovation and originality in theology are the parents of all heresy. Douglas Wilson in his book, "Reformed" is Not Enough demonstrates this subtly but effectively. To the untrained eye his arguments may sound cohesive, helpful and clarifying. To the trained eye his arguments are heretical, and his work demonstrates his theological and historical ignorance.

    It is this writer's opinion that Wilson has crossed the line from error to heresy based on conceptions propagated at the 2002 Auburn Avenue Pastor's Conference with three others-John Barach, Steve Schlissel and Steve Wilkins, as well as clarifying marks made here in his new book. These four men have been "labeled" the Auburn Four as a result of that conference. Wilson admits in his foreword that he began writing this book before the accusations to him and his colleagues came about by the Covenant Presbytery of the RPCUS in June of 2002 (cf. http://www.rpcus.com/Resolutions.pdf -- RB). So he has included thoughts about the clarification of his opinion in later chapter (which happen to be some of the most blatant denials of orthodox doctrine in the book.) rather than earlier ones."

    This review is must reading, as it exposes much false teaching -- and is free online at http://tinyurl.com/2le2b or at
    http://www.apuritansmind.com/BookReviews/Sourpuss/WilsonDouglasReformedNotEnough.htm
    ________

    I hope this helps.

    Your Servant in Christ (for the Third Reformation),
    Reg Barrow, President, STILL WATERS REVIVAL BOOKS
    Serving Christians worldwide (in over 100 countries) for 19+ years.

    LUTHER, JUSTIFICATION, REFORMATION AND SEPARATION

    The weapons, with which the saints overcame the dragon, were not carnal, but mighty. These, we are told, were "the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony." They believed and they taught in opposition to the popular doctrine of good works and penances, that the righteousness which the law of God requires of a sinner, is provided by a Surety; that the blood of Christ alone cleanses believers from the guilt of sin, and thus justifies them in the sight of God. No man ever used stronger language than Luther in denouncing the supposed efficacy of works, or in asserting the sovereignty of free grace, in the justification of a sinner. Indeed it was the deep impression which the doctrine of justification made upon the hearts of men, and the firm hold which faith took of it, that enabled and constrained them to forsake the Romish church and to seek and erect a separate fellowship. This was with them "the word of Christ's patience." Other doctrines of grace were, of course, connected with this of justification in the apprehension of the Reformers, but it was the central one. And thus we may learn, that any doctrine of the Bible, when generally opposed, may lawfully become a point of testimony; and when openly opposed and practically denied, it may become a warrantable and imperative ground of separation. In all such cases, -- and history supplies multitudes of them, -- the declining majority are truly the schismatics and separatists. The malicious, the indolent and credulous, however, in all ages have joined in the cry of schism as attaching to the virtuous minority.

    David Steele, Notes on the Apocalypse (1870), pp. 166-167 (this title is on Reformation Bookshelf CD 14 at http://www.swrb.com/Puritan/reformation-bookshelf-CDs.htm and in printed format at http://www.swrb.com/catalog/S.htm )

    Important books (must reading!) on justification:

    + BUCHANAN, JAMES
    _The Doctrine of Justification_
    http://www.swrb.com/catalog/b.htm

    + BROWN, JOHN (of Wamphray)
    _The Life of Justification Opened_ (1695)
    http://www.swrb.com/catalog/b.htm

    Important resources on separation from
    men like Doug Wilson, N.T. Wright, et al.:

    + BARROW, REG
    Reg Barrow vs. Doug Wilson (free online DEBATE)
    http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/Saul.htm

    + Biblical Unity & Uniformity
    http://www.swrb.com/catalog/d.htm
     
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