In the whole Federal Vision controversy part of the problem is the tendency for some people to make Faith and Faithfulness to be synonymous. The problem here lies that when one is speaking of justification then the result in that arrangement is that you instantly have combined works (our Faithfulness) with faith alone. In justification Faith looks away from self and rests in Christ alone trusting completely in HIS faithfulness for us. Now, the retort that many Federal Vision people respond with is to lodge the accusation that, ‘that makes faith to be inert and perhaps even dead,’ and they go on from there to mock the notion that there is a millisecond when faith does nothing but receive Christ only whereupon then only it begins to work.
Now having dealt with more than a few of these gentleman I could see that their problem was, as I noted above, a desire for the faith that justifies to be a working faith. They wanted Faith to work even in justification, or else to them it was inert faith, or dead faith, or pretend faith.
So, I asked myself, ‘How can I satisfy their problem while at the same time leaving faith in justification to be completely instrumental and non-contributory in receiving Christ(?). “How can I talk about the work of faith in justification (so showing that it is living and vital even here) and yet not yield one inch that Faith is alone in resting in Christ?”
The answer I came up with was to tell them that, “Faith in justification does its proper work by resting in Christ alone,’ or, ‘Faith in justification works by turning from works to rest in Christ alone.’ Now naturally the Federal Vision guys didn’t like that because they knew it was undermining their attempt to combine faithfulness with faith thus making faith a kind of work.
That part is the old news.
The new news is now I am hearing that my answer is not Reformed and I might as well be Federal Vision. You see things have gotten so uptight here that unless you pronounce all the syllables in just the right order on the issue of ‘Justification by faith alone’ you must be held to be suspect of not being truly Reformed.
Below is from one of the Kiddie Corps cadets of the Westminster West justification police telling me that,
You can’t call “resting in Christ” an example of “working” and claim to be Reformed without causing some major confusion.
1.) I do claim to be Reformed.
2.) I do claim that the proper work of faith in justification is to rest in Christ alone and His work for us.
3.) I find nothing confusing in that statement. This is no more confusing then to say that the proper work of my body in sleeping is not to work at all.
What the problem here is that the atmosphere has become so supercharged with suspicion that unless you speak exactly the way that justification Nazis want you to speak then you are suspect even in the cases where YOU MEAN EXACTLY THE SAME THING THAT THEY MEAN.
Look, there is nobody — and I mean nobody, who is more opposed to Federal Vision on justification then I am. To suggest that I can’t claim to be Reformed without causing major confusion all because I employ a formulaic technique to potentially bridge a widening divide is just nonsense.
These Westminster West kids are starting to drive me nuts.