Friday, May 23, 2014

The "The Puritans Are Not the Bible" Card

"If someone could point me to one passage in the Bible that says...AND DON'T POINT TO SOME OBSCURE PURITAN WHO GOT IT WRONG, OK?!...that actually says explicitly that the Law itself generates love for God and neighbor, I will listen." (Tullian Tchividjian, Chris Rosebrough Interview)

I think this was in reaction to this:

"But what of Tchividjian's claim that these false teachers assume 'that the law (in all of its uses) [has] the power to produce what it demands'? Would anyone argue such nonsense? Well, I do know of some ministers - in fact, even some who were responsible for crafting the Westminster Confession of Faith - who have argued that after Adam's fall, 'God therefore set forth a copy of his law in his word, which is the means of sanctifying us; and sanctification itself is but a writing of that law in the heart' (Thomas Goodwin). Likewise, Anthony Burgess argued that God's commands not only inform us of our duty, but are also 'practical and operative means appointed by God, to work, at least in some degree, that which is commanded.' Samuel Rutherford said essentially the same thing in his disputes against the antinomians because they denied that the law was a true instrument of sanctification.

We all know that apart from the Holy Spirit we can do nothing. And we all know that God's commandments do not have the power, in the abstract, to 'produce what they demand.' (In fact, even announcements of God's saving power in Christ have no effect apart from the Spirit's application.) But, it should be noted, the faithful preaching of God's commands in the context of a faithful gospel ministry can produce real change in a sinner's life because God has ordained his commandments to work, 'at least in some degree, that which is commanded.' In other words, failing to preach God's commandments robs Christ's sheep of a true means of sanctification, and thus they may be - ahem! - less holy as a result. We preach God's commandments to God's people because God has promised to bless such preaching with the Holy Spirit." (Mark Jones, Tullian's Trench)

I had a hunch that TT would be pulling out the "The Puritans are not the Bible" card in the event the proposed debate with Mark Jones materializes. The quote above was a foretaste. At any rate, MJ's explanation of how the Law—as blessed by the work of the Holy Spirit and not taken abstractly—is indeed a means of sanctification pretty much lays that point by TT to rest.

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