Thursday, December 20, 2007


Hello my fellow Reformed readers! This post is for you all. As many of you well know, we Reformed come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. This is just to let you know where I currently stand on different Reformed issues. I would love to know where some of you stand as well.


Eschatology: Postmillennialist

Christian Liberty: Fire me up a cigar and a cold beer and a nice warm Merlot with some gambling chips and a Blackjack table!

Apologetics: Van Tillian Presuppositionalist (kind of in between the Bahnsenian and Frameian stripes)

The Sabbath: Moderate Sabbatarian who believes that we should honor the Lord's Day, but every Christian needs to work out in their conscience issues associated with it

Have the gifts of tongues and prophecy ceased?: Yes (cessationist)

View of the general equity of the moral law of God: Non-theonomist in the stripe of Frame and Poythress (see The Shadow of Christ In the Law of Moses and Frame's articles on the subject, esp. his "The One, the Many, and Theonomy" in Theonomy: A Reformed Critique)

Justification and the Federal Vision: I reject the Federal Vision as heretical. I hold to the imputation of Christ's righteousness, including both His active and passive obedience.

Law and Gospel: I believe Law and Gospel are antithetical when it comes to our justification, but that they are united in our sanctification. Christ causes us to walk in His Law and transforms our hearts to obey it in our sanctification. Our union with Christ flows from our justification.

Counseling: I affirm that nouthetic counseling in the stripe of Jay Adams seems to be the most biblically-oriented manner to touch the soul and deal with the heart of the issues.

Days of Creation: Literal, 24-hour day six-day creationist; I reject Kline's Framework Hypothesis as damaging to the church, and other views as influenced by evolutionary thought

Corporate Worship: I hold to the regulative principle, while not being strict to the point of denial of instruments. It is important to distinguish between elements and circumstances of worship.

Exclusive Psalmody?: No. Hymns and songs that are non-Psalms are appropriate as well.

Redemptive-Historical Preaching?: No, I appreciate the Puritan way of application in sermons

Strict or moderate subscription to the Confession?: Moderate

Prophetic school of thought (partial preterist, idealist, historicist, or futurist?): Idealist

Proper subjects of baptism: Those who profess faith; rejection of infant baptism as unbiblical and unprovable

Nature of the Lord's Table: Calvinist suprasubstantiationist (I recommend Keith Mathison's excellent book Given For You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper)

Infralapsarian or Supralapsarian?: Infra, although I'm not sure if it really matters. Sometimes this seems to me to delve too deep into the mind of God.

Have I left any out??? :0D

Where do you stand, O Reformed readers?


Reuben said...

Nice meme, buddy! I'll post on my own blog in a few days, and let's see how many you can kick off!

Josh Brisby said...


Sounds good. Tag, you're it!

Albert said...

How about the degree of fellowship the Reformed should have with those who differ with us in major points of doctrine (e.g. Arminians and Pentecostals/Charismatics)? Thanks.

Josh Brisby said...


I think that is very important. One thing I even recently realized was that the apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans to people he definitely considered brethren, yet who wondered if they should sin more that grace may abound (chapter 6) and didn't like the doctrine of predestination (chapter 9); yet, he still considered them his brothers.

I think the degree of fellowship is important. I consider evangelical Arminians my brothers and sisters. Obviously I don't have as much fellowship with them as with my fellow Reformed Baptists, even as I don't have as much fellowship with Reformed Presbyterians as I do with my fellow Reformed Baptists--but I consider them all my brothers because we are united in the gospel of our Lord and Savior.

RubeRad said...

OK dude, I finally got a round tuit.

You left out paedocommunion and 4/5-pointiness. And your decisiveness on baptism doesn't belies your recent almost conversion, after which you remained Baptist "by default". What's up with that?

RubeRad said...

oopx, strike that "doesn't"...

RubeRad said...

I also added Church Government (Presbyterian) and Women in Leadership (anything a non-ordained man can do)

Ron Smith said...

So, I am a heretic, huh, bro? Can I even call you "bro"?

ron smith said...

I encourage you to pick up Piper's latest work in response to Wright. He has a rather "new perspective" himself in that manages to disagree with Wright without condemning him as a heretic.

Josh Brisby said...


I didn't say you were a heretic.
:0) I did say the tenets of the FV were heretical. :0)

If someone believes that "faith alone" really means "faithfulness alone," or "obedience alone" and does not distinguish between faith and works, as the apostle does, then yes, that is heretical. Ron, what do you make of Norman Shepherd's statement from his 1974 class syllabus: "justification presupposes faith; faith is not the ground of justification; faith is the instrument of justification. justification presupposes good works; good works are not the ground of justification; good works are the instrument of justification." What do you make of that statement?

Also, he claimed that "both [faith and good works] can be [the] instrument [of justification]." What do you make of that statement? Please tell me clearly so I can understand you fairly.

I am deeply concerned when I see many who start out dabbling in the FV end up in Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy. I would truly appreciate hearing your thoughts on this and the above statements from Shepherd.


The only reason I mentioned that infant baptism was "unbiblical" was in the sense that I can't find it in Scripture. Of course there are many godly men who think otherwise. :0)

Josh Brisby said...


Oh yeah, I also don't consider anything less than 5-pt Calvinism Reformed; nor do I consider paedocommunion a legitimate Reformed option, since all of the Reformed Confessions reject it. :0)

ron smith said...

I hold to the tenets of FV, which you have said to be heretical, thus, I am a heretic in your view. Of course, many tenets of the FV can be found in Lutheran, Anglican, and Wesleyan dogma as well. Are they all heretics too? Even if I deny Sola Fide, does that mean I can't be justified by faith alone? Can an arminian be elect? You note above that there were some arminians in Rome that Paul addresses as brothers. There were some legalists too.

But I don’t deny Sola Fide. I affirm that the righteousness of Christ is the grounds of the believer's justification. Faith is the instrument that unites us to Christ and His righteousness; but not dead, demonic faith, rather faith that worketh in love. Just like when Peter says, "Baptism now saves", he means that God saves us with baptism as an instrument (means of grace), so James means that works justify in the sense that only faith that works is justifying faith. This is all the FV is saying on positional justification (there is some disagreement on a future justification). Read the paper. I can't speak for Shepherd, but I would guess he means something similar. Anyway, Shepherd ain't the FV. Again, read the paper. Do you see Shepherd's signature? Wright's? No, you do not. They may hold to some of the FV tenets, but that doesn't make them FV; just like holding to the 5 doctrines of grace doesn't exactly make one a Calvinist or reformed.

Sorry if this sounds shrill, bro, (can I call you "bro"?), but I am tired of the charge of heresy being lobbed at the FV when they are more in line with historical reformed orthodoxy than the bapterians that make up the majority of reformed denominations these days. At best, it simply confuses the issues for the unlearned and further divides Christ's Church, and at worst it violates the 9th commandment.

On the alleged FV road to Rome. 1) FV is closer than bapterianism to the folks that left Rome in the first place. 2) Who are these people? I keep hearing about the mass exodus from FV to RC, but I only know a couple examples. Proportionately, I bet more Baptists than FVs have left Protestantism. By TR logic, that proves the road to Rome is paved with Baptist theology. 3) If more Presbyterian churches were FV, less of their congregants would go pope. I'm not saying I would convert if I was left wondering in the wilderness of low church, amil, anti-theonomic, gnostic, baptistic, determinist reformedom, and no TC (truly covenantal) church within driving distance, but it would be difficult. I thank God for NLPCA where my kids get washed and fed for eternal life.

RubeRad said...

"Ron, what do you make of Norman Shepherd's statement..."

I'd say he has demonstrated that he generally agrees with it. (Now I need to scroll down and read what Ron has to say)

RubeRad said...

"Are they all heretics too?"

There are heresies, and there are errors. (You and I would agree that Josh is in error concerning baptism.) And even for heresy there is I think a distinction to be made; the Vatican is full of heretics, but Catholic churches are full of plenty of victims who are in error because of the heresy of their leaders. Ignorance is bliss.

RubeRad said...

But I don’t deny Sola Fide.

You just chose to name your blog Sola Fidelity. How is that not a conflation of Faith and Faithfulness?

Josh Brisby said...


I have yet to hear an FV advocate exposit what the WCF means when it says "receiving and resting." The Reformers went out of their way to be painstakingly clear when they said we were justified by faith alone, but not a faith that is alone. But when they say that, they mean something entirely different from what you and the FV are saying. You see faith and works as identical; the Reformers saw them as antithetical. "The Law is not based on faith."

You are equating faith = obedience, so to you it is also the same as "we are justified by obedience alone." Do I have a problem with that? You bet I do! Ron, you are indeed messing with the very essence of the gospel itself. It grieves me to say so.

ron smith said...

"You see faith and works as identical; the Reformers saw them as antithetical."

1) Neither I nor the FV see faith and works as identical. Please substantiate this false claim. Maybe you can find something in the paper.

2) Please substantiate the claim that the reformers saw faith and works as antithetical. On the Law of God, the WCF states that our faith in Christ strengthens our obligation to the Law and that the Law sweetly complies with the Gospel. Calvin states that Pauls "disparaging" comments with regard to the Law have not to do with the Law itself, but with the Judaizers' "perverse zeal for legal ceremony". That's also what NT Wright says, by the way. The Westminster assembly cites James 2 as proof text that justifying faith is "no dead faith" in the chapter on justification! So the modern silliness about James' usage of the word "justification" differing from Paul's is not confessional. Let's see, what else... Oh, the WCF calls "repentance unto life" a "saving grace", so if I say "we are saved by grace through repentance", that is confessional. And if you really think about it, unbelief is sin, so faith is a class of repentance and a work of obedience (but again, not identical to obedience).

Oh, and here is Wilson on "receiving and resting".

This is the stuff that really frustrates me, bro (again, can I call you "bro"?). You are making false claims about brothers in Christ.

Josh Brisby said...


(1) What do you mean when you say you don't see faith and works as identical? You say you don't see them as antithetical, so I don't understand.

(2) The historic Reformed and confessional view sees faith and works as antithetical *with regards to justification* and identical *with regards to sanctification.*

(3) Please substantiate the claim that Calvin saw Paul's disparaging claims about the Law as merely having to do with "legal ceremony." I would truly be surprised if he said that. But if he did, he sounds more New Perspective, and I would certainly disagree with him here, even as John Frame has in his article on Law and Gospel.

(4) I read Wilson on the link you gave. I appreciated much of the article. I wasn't surprised though, because Wilson is the most orthodox out of all the FV guys (he affirms the imputation of the active obedience of Christ).

(5) I also am currently reading Piper's book on N.T. Wright. To be sure, Piper does not anathematize Wright, but he does say that Wright's view of the gospel is distorted and leaves confusion and no good news.

(6) At the very least, my thoughts on the FV are that it leaves no good news. At the worst, my thoughts are that it is a halfway house to Rome.

Josh Brisby said...


I also read the paper/stmt the FV guys recently wrote. Honestly, there are several areas where I have problems. I may do a few blog entries on it. Especially troubling to me was how they said that "union with Christ [for the apostate] was not MERELY external." Then in what way would they say the apostate had union with Christ??? This smacks of Arminianism galore.

ron smith said...

"This smacks of Arminianism galore."

Maybe (but then, Calvin was an Arminian), but not heresy. They are still brothers.

Anyway, do you plan to substantiate the claims I asked you to, or retract them?

Josh Brisby said...


I would be happy to substantiate my claims, but I have a feeling you may be defining things differently than me. I need you to do what I asked and tell me what you meant in the above. Beyond that, I also need you to substantiate the claim that Calvin saw works of the law the same way the NPP does.

Josh Brisby said...


Also, although Shepherd hasn't aligned himself with the FV, the FV draws deeply upon Shepherd's thought and is much in line with it. Even the very quote I had from Shepherd showed that faith and works were identical in his thought. The title of your blog "Sola Fidelity" further proves it.

But, please answer my (1) and (2) and (3) in my above comments, so I can understand how to best answer you.

RubeRad said...

As evidenced in his commentary on Rom 3:21, Calvin does not agree with NPP on "works of the law". I love this bit:

"Some confine it [law] to ceremonies; but this view I shall presently show to be unsound and frigid."

And neither does justification have anything to do with the good works that flow from our sanctification:

"...even those which the Lord produces in his own people, is evident from the context. For no doubt Abraham was regenerated and led by the Spirit of God at the time when he denied that he was justified by works. Hence he excluded from man’s justification not only works morally good, as they commonly call them, and such as are done by the impulse of nature, but also all those which even the faithful can perform."

ron smith said...

"From these words, the Apostle took occasion to institute a comparison between the Law and the Gospel, calling the one a doctrine of the letter, the other a doctrine of the spirit; describing the one as formed on tables of stone, the other on tables of the heart; the one the preaching of death, the other of life; the one of condemnation, the other of justification; the one made void, the other permanent, (2 Cor. 3: 5, 6.) The object of the Apostle being to explain the meaning of the Prophet, the worlds of the one furnish us with the means of ascertaining what was understood by both. And yet there is some difference between them. For the Apostle speaks of the Law more disparagingly than the Prophet. This he does not simply in respect of the Law itself, but because there were some false zealots of the Law who, by a perverse zeal for ceremonies, obscured the clearness of the Gospel, he treats of the nature of the Law with reference to their error and foolish affection. It will, therefore, be proper to attend to this peculiarity in Paul." ~ John Calvin; Institutes of Christian Religion, 2.11.7, emphasis mine

ron smith said...

"What do you mean when you say you don't see faith and works as identical? You say you don't see them as antithetical, so I don't understand."

Just because two ideas are not identical, that doesn't mean they are antithetical. Faith is not identical to good works, but neither is it antithetical since good works flow from faith. Faith is antithetical to doubt, and good works are antithetical to sin.

I will keep working on your other questions, but I am really interested in what you think about the idea that faith is a class of obedience and that the WCF says that repentance unto life is a "saving grace" and then goes on to define repentance as turning from sin to obedience of God's Law. Is it therefore confessional to say, “We are saved by grace through turning from sin to obedience to God's Law?”

ron smith said...

I think I have addressed all of your questions thus far, Josh. On Piper, I would just like to ask you if you could show the same Christian charity to NPP and FV brothers? Amillennialism distorts the gospel, but I still count them brothers. Paul tells the Galatians that they were "deserting Him who called [them] by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel" (1:6), and yet still calls them "brethren" (1:11). Hmm, if they had received a "different gospel", I wonder upon what basis Paul calls them "brethren"? It couldn't be simply because of the baptism, could it (3:27)?

These can drag on, so I'll give you the last word. I truly hope it includes something like, "I still consider you a brother in Christ, Ron."

Josh Brisby said...

Could it have been because of their baptism? Not in the way you or the FV mean it. But, consider the fact that Paul anathematizes the TEACHERS of this false gospel, but he counts the laity who are being taught this as brethren. Ron, that is why I told you that I never said you were a heretic. But I DO (I want to make this very clear) I ABSOLUTELY DO CONSIDER THE TEACHERS OF THE FV AND NPP HERETICS. This is how the apostle viewed things in Galatians.

Besides that, it is not my duty to decide when the laity is in heresy or not. That is the responsibility of your elders at NLPCA.

Understand that I see the passages which speak of future judgment according to works to be vindicational; in other words, the works proved that we had already been justified and that we belong to the elect. This is why we have peace with God even now. This is why we are reconciled to God now.

Do I consider you a brother in Christ? Very simply, if you affirm that our right standing with God is because of Christ's righteousness ALONE, and NOT in any way whatsoever, without qualification, because of our works, now or at the future judgment, then yes, I consider you a brother. If you cannot affirm the above, then quite frankly, I am not so sure.

I hope that the above helps clear things up.

Westminster Confession of Faith said...

Of the Last Judgment

I. God has appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world, in righteousness, by Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father. In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.*

II. The end of God's appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of His justice, in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord; but the wicked who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.

* It should be noted that while the assembly refrained from explicitly referring to this judgement as "justification", they cite as scripture proof Romans 2:16.

Josh Brisby said...

Yes, and I take Ro 2:16 to be vindicatory. Again, the good works we do prove that we have already been justified. This is why the elect are surprised and say "When did we do these things?" on the last day. Our right standing is not *based upon* our works. Our works confirm that we had true faith. That is the WCF and London position, and that is the Scriptural position.

Anonymous said...

Josh said...


The only reason I mentioned that infant baptism was "unbiblical" was in the sense that I can't find it in Scripture. Of course there are many godly men who think otherwise. :0)"

As both Josh and I know, he admits he can't prove that baptism is only for those who profess faith. He also can't find his view in the Bible. So, his reason for not being a paedo should also be a reason against his being a credo and he should check "agnostic" in the box there.



Josh Brisby said...


Ah, but as you and I know, my views are undergoing more development right now w/regards to the covenant towards a more traditional Reformed Baptist view. :0)But as for now, I refrain to speak. :0)

bstallman said...

All I have to say is: Who drinks merlot warm? Perhaps that is the root of the theological errors seen in the comments relating to baptism etc?

Josh Brisby said...

Pastor Tallman,

I've never heard of anyone drinking Merlot cold. But then again, the early church also never heard of baptism by sprinkling. :0)

Anonymous said...


Then you should refrain from judgment until you have a view. Since you haven't worked out your new system (devised to save your credobaptism :-), then your view is just as absent from the Bible as (you think) the paedo view is. The readers here should note that Josh is a Baptist even though he has no biblical basis for his position... as of yet. He is, he tells us, currently "finding" the data which will support his a priori position on the matter. :-O

Anyway, I leave it at that. Unlike EO, and the FV, this isn't a devisive issue. You can be, and are, very much a brother in Christ! :-D