Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Westminster Confession of Faith against the error of Eternal Justification

As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only

(Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter III, Para VI. Bold added)

The previous Sunday, a group of us Reformed Christians (The Reformed Resurgence) come together for fellowship over dinner. I have decided that we should go through the Westminster Confession of Faith together as we have adopted it as our default Statement of Faith for our group. We went through the first 3 chapters of the Westminster Confession and have some spirited discussion over its contents. It really helps that we are all theologically informed and thus are able to follow the passage as it is, instead of making every point an entire discussion in itself which will happen when one tries to talk about such issues with uninformed Christians — topics like impassibility (WCF Ch. 2 para 1), or the Chalcedonian Trinity (WCF Ch. 2, para 3), not to mention the sufficiency and perspicuity of Scripture (WCF Ch. 1, para 6, 7, 10). This is of course not to look down on rank and file Christians whom we do love, but it is a fact that such would really take a class meeting weekly for around a year at least to catechize them.

Anyway, while moving through the Westminster Confession, Chapter 3 paragraph 6 really got my attention. In light of the issue of Hyper-Calvinism and Eternal Justification (a serious error which I am convinced leads to hyper-Calvinism), this passage in the Westminster Confession expressively refutes the doctrine of Eternal Justification. While it is unknown to me if the Confession was written with an eye to refute Eternal Justification, the phrasing of this passage rules out any such belief in Eternal Justification.

Let's look at the paragraph again.

As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only

(WCF, Chapter III, Para VI. Bold added)

Justification in the Westminster Confession in its relation to Election is stated to be a working of the Holy Spirit "in due season". The Confession thus expressively denies that Justification is eternal in any sense, since what occurs in time cannot be eternal.

In the further section on justification, it is also stated:

God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit does, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them

(WCF, Ch. XI, Para IV. Bold added)

God's decree to justify the elect is from eternity, BUT the act of justification itself occurs in time, as the Confession makes plain.

The Westminster Confession and Scripture itself has no inkling of the unbiblical creation of two categories of Justification as postulated by the Baptist theologian John Gill in his A Body of Doctrinal Divinity. Also, as seen in the earlier paragraph in chapter 3, the Westminster Confession does not consider Justification as an eternal act even in light of the doctrine of election, thus removing a central plank in the crpyo-Hyperist system which creates a false hermeneutical framework in which everything is read through the lenses of the nefarious concept of "absolute predestination".

For now, it would help us to see that the Westminster Confession of Faith is decidedly against the erroneous doctrine of Eternal Justification. No amount of spin by the Hyper-Calvnists could undo that fact.

2 comments:

Joel Tay said...

On the eternal justification email forum I was on for a while, I threw the London Baptist Confession at those people. They just ignored it. Apparently, they are not reformed baptists, but primitive predestinarian baptists.

PuritanReformed said...

@Joel:

yup. It was so funny but sad seeing Brandan Kraft stating that the book of James was not part of the Canon, even though the Belgic, Westminster Confession and 2LBCF all place it as part of the Canon while disavowing the Apocrypha.