Sunday, December 12, 2010

Is Justification By Grace/Faith Alone A 'New Doctrine?'

There has been argument by some Hyperpreterists that they are validated in purporting the HP doctrines, even if those doctrines are new; because these same people claim Luther and the Reformers were advocating new doctrines never before articulated in the Church. Although these people don't seem to understand that this reasoning DOESN'T help their case, it simply denigrates the Reformation and makes it as illegitimate as the HP new doctrine, they persist in finding otherwise respectable theologians that unwittingly make comments that seem to support the idea of justification by grace/faith alone being a new doctrine.
I have admitted that more needs to be done to show that justification by grace/faith alone is NOT a new doctrine and I plan to devote several years to it. I can't count on seminarians like Dr. Talbot to come forth because he is too busy trying to craft his own version of Preterism that he is calling "Realized Preterism" or getting his proxies to follow along. Several people here have realized that Talbot is actually trying to have his cake and eat it too, by inventing a hybrid version of "Full Preterism".
Anyway, one source I'd like to cite is The History of Justification in the Times of the Fathers by James Buchanan, a theologian who lived in the early to mid 1800s (the deader the better, I say -- before they become corrupted by the cronyism of seminarians of today)
Here is a quote:
"The question, therefore, is not,- -Whether all the Fathers taught the doctrine of Justification in its original purity, nor even whether any one of the Fathers was entirely exempt from the corruptions which were gradually growing up in the Church; but simply, whether the doctrine of Justification by grace, through faith in the merits of Christ, may not be traced in the writings of some witnesses for the truth, along the whole line of the Church's history; and whether some true believers were not nourished and refreshed by it, even in the darkest and most degenerate times? We answer this question in the affirmative, by adducing testimonies from the Fathers of every succeeding age; and in doing so, we refer to them, not as authorities in matters of faith, but simply as witnesses to a matter of fact." -- source=The History of Justification in the Times of the Fathers

Obviously what typically happens in cases like this is that it becomes a source-citation battle. One side brings their quotes and the other side brings their quotes. You may ask, then how is it settled? Is it by whoever brings the most quotes? Is it by Scripture? Yes, Scripture we would say. But isn't the issue not about Scripture but more about HOW that Scripture is interpreted; especially as it has been interpreted in Christianity by the guiding of the Holy Spirit? (Do we agree the Holy Spirit has ultimately guided Christianity or do we think men have been running to and fro all this time just winging it?)

Another quote from the same source:

"It is of special importance that the precise object and reason of any appeal to the writings of the Fathers on the subject of Justification should be distinctly understood. It is simply to prove a matter Of FACT, in opposition to an erroneous assertion,--the fact, namely, that the Protestant doctrine of Justification was not a 'novelty' introduced for the first time by Luther and Calvin,--that it was held and taught, more or less explicitly, by some writers in every successive age,--and that there is no truth in the allegation that it had been unknown for fourteen hundred years before the Reformation."
I guess I'm not the only one that has understood how important it is to resolve this issue. Buchanan quotes Ignatius:
'To me the disciple of John, 'Christ is in the place of all ancient muniments. For His Cross, and His death, and His resurrection, and the faith which is through Him, are my unpolluted muniments; and in these, through your prayers, I am willing to have been justified.'
Then Buchanan quotes Polycarp:
'the Lord Jesus Christ, who endured to submit unto death for our sins; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of hell; in whom ye believe, not having seen Him, but believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. . . . knowing that through grace ye are saved, not of works, but by the will of God, through Jesus Christ.'
Do either of these sound different than justification by grace/faith alone?
Buchanan goes on to give quote after quote from Justin Martyr, from the Epistle to Diognetus.
Buchanan's conclusion is this:
"This doctrine was always held in substance by true believers; but it seems to have been reserved, for its fuller development, and more precise definition, till the great controversy which arose between the Romish and the Reformed Churches in the sixteenth century."
And unlike the doctrines of Hyperpreterism, we can actually see where the Church held the view of justification by grace/faith alone. It wasn't "progressively developed", nor did it come about only after a heretic like Arius challenged the faith (as Sam Frost claims Christians are only trinitarians because of Arius -- source= see here).

The idea that new doctrines were and can be added to Christianity AFTER Jesus and His hand-picked apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit passed on the "traditions" (2 Thessalonians 2:15) of the Church, "once and for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) -- If some hyperpreterists want to ACTUALLY continue to claim new doctrines, then they not only undermine hyperpreterism (since any new person in the movement can come along saying they figured out a new doctrine the Church was supposedly ignorant of) such reasoning actually undermines Christianity as it makes it nothing more than a hodge-podge of postmodern gropings in the darkness. Maybe that is the point of claiming new doctrines come; that way such people can keep adding new doctrines and never be questioned.

There is a strange irony how Hyperpreterists like to claim it was ALL FULFILLED, yet it seems to be the Hyperpreterists that leave the door wide open for almost any new doctrine -- as if it wasn't really fulfilled until people piece it together (which according to some Hyperpret reasoning will never happen since we must always be in doubt if we are understanding the faith correctly).

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