Friday, August 14, 2015

Warfield contra Pietism and Rationalism

Extremes meet, Pietist and Rationalist have ever hunted in couples and dragged down their quarry together. They may differ as to why they deem theology mere lumber, and would not have the prospective minister waste his time in acquiring it. The one loves God so much, the other loves him so little, that he does not care to know him.

[B.B. Warfield, "Our Seminary Curriculum," in Selected Shorter Writings, 1:371. Bold added]

Warfield on Faith and Life

It is easy to say: "We refuse to believe that a man's opinions on the minute details of history or metaphysics are sufficient either to admit or to exclude him from the Kingdom of grace and glory." But when we have said that, we have already expressed a portentous opinion. We have also made a tremendous theological distinction; we have made it most unsoundly; and as a consequence, we have cast ourselves into the arms of the grossest error, which must mar all our life. The truth is that a man's opinions on matters of historical fact or of metaphysical truth — call them opinions on minute details or not, as you choose — are absolutely determinative of his whole life. ...

He who adopts this definite set of metaphysical and historical opinions [doctrines] is so far on his way to being a Christian. He who rejects them, or treats them as indifferent, is not even on his way to being a Christian. This is not to say that Christianity is just a body of metaphysical and historical opinions. But it is to say that Christianity is, among other things, a body of metaphysical and historical opinions. It is absurd to say that a man can be a Christian who is of the opinion that there is no God; or that no such person as Jesus ever lived: or who does not believe very many definite things about the really existing God and the actually living Jesus. Some of these things may be represented as very "minute details." [B.B. Warfield, "Faith and Life," in Selected Shorter Writings, 1:365-6]

Monday, August 10, 2015

Warfield on the WCF and the "Author of Sin"

When the [Westminster] Confession was written as well as now, there were men who were accustomed to asseverate that to affirm that God had freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass were to declare God the sole cause operative in the universe, to destroy the freedom of the human will, and indeed the reality of all second causes, ... Accordingly, the Confession adds the caveat, that God's foreordination does not make him the author of sin, nor offer violence to the will of the creature, nor take away (but rather establish) the liberty of contingency of second causes. In other words, the Confession guards it readers against being misled into supposing that the divine government of the universe according to an eternal plan excludes the administration of that government through instruments; and protects the reality and real efficiency of all second causes, free and necessary alike, while affirming the reality and real efficiency of the first cause as the determiner of the course of events in accordance with the primal plan. [B.B. Warfield, "The Confessional Doctrine of the Decree," in Selected Shorter Writings (ed. by John E. Meeter; Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 1970), 1:98-99]

According to Warfield, the rejection by the Westminster Confession of God being the "Author of Sin" is meant to reject the view that God is the "sole cause operative in the universe." Also, the insertion of the predicate adjective "reality" to the nominative phrase "second causes" shows that those second causes are to be regarded as actually and truly operative, not just an appearance or occasion for the actual cause, hiding behind the "second cause," to work. The first cause, God, is indeed the determiner of the course of events, but it is determined without the rejection of the real legitimacy of free and necessary creaturely causes.

Any position therefore that claims God as the Author of Sin in the rejection of the true ontological reality of second causes is contrary to the Westminster Confession and contrary to the Reformed faith, regardless of how one wishes to define the word "author." To claim God as the "Author of Sin" in the conceptual form (regardless of terminology used) as articulated and rejected by the Westminster Standards, is to reject the Reformed and catholic view concerning the nature and the decree of God.