Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Importance of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide
01/17/2004 - James White
I recognize that there is a fair amount of confusion on the part of some regarding the current controversy noted in the recent blog entries. It is my hope that over time that confusion can be cleared up, and in the process, some of God's people will be blessed. Even with the gaseous cloud of vituperative sarcasm being belched out by "Purist," his rank humor can be used to illustrate many points in the debate.
Going back to the response offered by "Alastair," I note again the utter absence of exegetical interaction with the invitation I offered Mr. Enloe, that being to explain the presence of "false brethren" amongst the baptized members of the leadership of the church. He, and other AAPC devotees, have expressed the idea that the Roman Catholic is my brother merely because of the "sign" of Trinitarian baptism. This text seems to contradict such a conclusion. Next, I have no interest in debating Alastair's peculiar take on NPism. Yes, the comments I have made on NPism are focused on Wright for the obvious reason that it is his work that is impacting the churches in the United States more than anyone else. Moving on to the sub-section "Christian Knowledge" Alastair quoted from my blog:
Folks, the foundation of the Christian life is knowing who God is, what He has done in Christ, and that I have peace with God not because of anything I have done but solely because of what Christ has done. Until that relationship of peace is established and understood, the rest is just window dressing. You can sprinkle water on somebody’s noggin until they drown, but without that foundation you will never build a proper, balanced Christian life.
For those who recall what I was talking about, I was responding to the constant denigration in TGE's writings of my deep, constant, and abiding concern for the doctrine of justification, the importance of the imputation of Christ's righteousness, etc. I was saying that outside of the establishment of that divine condition of eirene, shalom, peace which comes about only through the much-maligned truth of sola fide, faith alone apart from works of righteousness, all the rest of TGE's "Second Christendom" rhetoric has no meaning. Alastair missed the context:
The foundation of my Christian life is not my knowledge of who God is, what He has done in Christ, and that I have peace with God not because of anything I have done but solely because of what Christ has done. My Christian life is founded upon the reality of these things, not upon my knowledge of their reality. This is no small distinction. Someone can taste of the reality without being able to articulate it in an orthodox manner.
I never said it was my knowledge, but how can I have a Christian life if I am ignorant of my justification before God? Here again the text steps in: what comes after Romans 5:1 and the establishment of peace is, in fact, the rest of the Christian life itself. But that life comes about as a result of justification by grace through faith alone, and that standing as a justified person is what gives rise to all the rest of Romans 5:1-10. Where does the text tell us about those who are ignorant of their peace with God? Since the text says by faith (not by baptism, which is the key here), what, or more properly, who, did they believe in? All the Christian characteristics noted in the following verses assume the state of justification exists, by faith, so that peace exists between the individual Christian and their Lord. Despite all the cries of "individualism!" and "Donatism!" that might be raised, the fact is that these are personal terms. No Christian society will ever exist outside of the regeneration of the individuals that make it up. Hence the problem with TGE's sacralistic usage of the Oak of Geismar: no one is justified by destroying their idols as long as they remain an idolater at heart. Cut down their idol, then stand there with a garden hose and sprinkle them down in the name of the Trinity if you wish: such is not Christian evangelism. The tragic element of that section of TGE's comments was placing the action of chopping down the oak in opposition to the proclamation of the very heart of the gospel message. And that was my point.