The sin of believers...

Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. (Matthew 26:74)

(Tim) In one of his more recent comments, Darryl wrote that I'd called his "profession" into question. This is not true. I've nowhere questioned Darryl Hart's faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

So how could he think so?

My guess is Darryl can't understand how I could accuse a man of discouraging the holiness and sanctification of believers without considering that man doing the discouraging an unbeliever, himself. In other words, such an accusation is so serious that the one making it must be holding another far more serious accusation in abeyance.

Not so.

Reading through the account of Passion Week from the Gospel of Matthew last night (as is our congregation's habit on Palm Sunday evening), we were confronted by the Disciples' utter failure as Jesus went to His death...

They slept through Jesus' agony, hacked off an ear, fled for their lives (all of them), and then Peter denied the Lord with oaths and curses. Or think of the nature of the Apostle Peter's sin bringing down on him the Apostle Paul's public rebuke among the Galatians. And this isn't even to go through the Patriarchs as Calvin does in his Institutes, magnifying God's glorious grace to them despite their awful sins.

Scripture is filled with the wickedness of God's sons, teaching us that we, too, are wicked. Regenerated and sleeping, hacking off ears, denying our Lord with oaths and curses, passing off wives as sisters, murdering, committing adultery, church officers and denying the doctrine of justification by faith, alone, in front of our congregations; these are the sins of our fathers in the faith, and they are yours and mine, today. Which one of us wants to claim we would not have joined our voices with the crowd of Jews crying out "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"

So please keep in mind that when you accuse me (quite regularly) of being Pharisaical and self-righteous and uneducated, I don't think you're accusing me of being unregenerate. Rather, I think you, like the Apostles Paul and John and our Lord Jesus Christ, are exhorting me toward repentance and faith. And I thank you for it. Conviction of sin and repentance are two of the Holy Spirit's most precious gifts.

(Actually, only Presbyterians might be misunderstood to be denying my justification when they accuse me of being uneducated. With others, it's more likely they're paying me a compliment.)


"One of the more arresting claims in recent theological discussions is that an emphasis on the forensic nature of justification can nurture antinomianism. This claim looks amazingly unreal given the traction that various forms of transformationalism have among conservative Reformed Protestants – from Doug Wilson’s defense of Constantinianism, the Baylys’ war with Reformed “pacifists” in the culture wars, to Tim Keller’s conception of word and deed ministry. If anything, the conservative Reformed world is awash with various expressions of neo-nomianism and legalism – not antinomianism."
-Darryl G. Hart (

Were you aware that you believe an emphasis on the forensic nature of justification results in antinomianism?

I'm chuckling over the troika, the triptych, our triumphant triumvirate.


Halfway off topic; what is "forensic" about justification? I'm trying to piece this together with Mr. Webster's help, and I'm failing to figure where it is at all "rhetorical" or "pertaining to a legal proceeding." Reformed-professor-speak perhaps?

To the central point, however, I've seen what our host describes a lot. I would have to guess that at certain times, the response "you think I'm an unbeliever" springs from guilt over not taking God's Word seriously in these areas. It says a lot more about the speaker than the person being addressed.

Forensic justification refers to the fact that God credits the righteousness of Christ to the account of each who believes. We have not met God's standards as described in the Law and Prophets, and stand before Him either *declared* guilty, or *declared* righteous.

To be righteous before God we must be covered in Christ's righteousness.

Opposed to this truth is the Romish one where men are infused with grace and may eventually reach the state of justification after doing x,y,z. For Rome, sanctification must be complete before a man can be right with God.

Tim, You are the one who keeps bringing up your academics pedigree.

The way I look at a blog, it is a forum for discussion of ideas. When you are disagreeing about topics in person, it usually throws a wrench into the works to turn to the group and identify one member of the discussion as untrustworthy - unless it is a sarcastic comment delivered for a laugh.

You seem to view the blog as a means for exhortation and moving someone to faith and repentance. I can see how some blogs function as inspiration by including sermon-like or homiletical reflections. But if you want to counsel personally someone whom you've never met to live a life of greater holiness and faithfulness, I can't imagine a blog being very effective.

Dear Dr. Hart,

Kind of like Calvin's writings or the letters of the apostles weren't very effective because they were public? A blog is what you make it. Over the past 8-10 years (I don't recall how long exactly Tim has been doing this) this one hasn't exactly been personal reflections and anecdotes.

>>this one hasn't exactly been personal reflections and anecdotes.

Or disembodied truth statements.


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