Thanks to those of you rushing me copies of Mark Seifrid’s 3.5 page reply. I once again find myself in the Wonderland of Academia, for while the constant accusation has been that by discussing, and disagreeing with, Seifrid’s long-published works, I “attacked” or “assaulted” him, in his response he refers to me as a “factious” man, citing Titus 3:10, describes me as “self-willed and obstinate,” and insists that all discussion of theology is personal (hence, I guess, when he purposefully disinguishes his own views from “Protestant orthodoxy,” does it follow he is personally attacking all those who hold those views, such as myself? Strangely, that logical conclusion is missing from the response.). Hence, he seems to be free to link to slander-filled articles like that of Paul Owen (but that is not an attack); he can directly question my motives and spiritual standing (but that is not an attack); but if I respond, that IS an attack. I don’t know, maybe I’m just over-reacting, but might there be just a bit of a double-standard operating here?
One of the great ironies here is that while you will never find the term “charge” in what I wrote in July (which was the basis of the SBTS statement), Seifrid continues to use this term. In the single blog entry in which I addressed not imputation as a whole, but the issue of the active and passive obedience of Christ, I had contrasted Seifrid’s comments with those of James Boyce, all in the context of saying that Boyce’s views would be the proper historical context in which to interpret the Abstract of Principles (I am one of those odd folks that thinks that the original intent of the author is important, like, “What did the original authors of the constitution of the United States mean when they wrote this?”). It was at that time that I said that I think Boyce’s view of the subject would be significantly “fuller” than Seifrid’s (and it is that blatantly true, irrefuted statement that has been turned into the terrible “charge” I have made!). And what do we read in Dr. Seifrid’s paper today?
I have never been required to affirm all that James P. Boyce believed, only that which he and the other founders regarded as essential for the confessional standard of the seminary. Boyce was a mere fallen human being, as we all are: there are ways in which I disagree with him.
Of course, I have never suggested that one has to believe Boyce is infallible. But it does seem that here Seifrid confirms that my statement was true. How odd. Likewise, many who have been trying to understand why simply questioning Seifrid’s long published works would produce such a firestorm of personal ad-hominem without any meaningful substance will find the following most instructive:
It is necessary to observe, however, that while these formulations represent significant aspects of biblical truth, they are syntheses. Nowhere in Scripture does one find the explicit statement that “Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us who believe.” The Scriptures, and Paul in particular, has other ways of speaking about justification….As I have stated openly, I find Luther’s way of speaking about justification much closer to the biblical text than that of later Protestantism. He does not speak of justification as the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us, or does so only very rarely. He speaks instead of God imputing righteousness to us because Christ is present in our hearts by faith….This has huge implications for Christian living, since we cannot then treat the righteousness imputed to us as a sort of immeasurable bank account at our disposal at which we may draw at will: “cheap grace,” as Bonhoeffer rightly named it.
I realize that if I respond, I am now in a no-win situation with a number of people. No matter how focused my words are upon theological issues, Seifrid has stated, in his reply, that it is personal anyway. Hence, if I do not question him personally, he is free to question me personally anyway. If I don’t attack him, it is an attack anyway. No matter how focused upon the issue of the nature of imputation are my words, they will result in personal response. That much, anyway, has become clear. So I simply cannot worry about that part. I will have to take my lumps and trust God with my motivations and response. So why respond? Simple. God’s truth demands it. Is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, as it is plainly laid out in the LBCF 11:1 a man-made “synthesis” without true biblical basis? I am a man who has stood in defense of sola scriptura for many years. How can I say I believe sola scriptura and then turn around and say the heart of the gospel is a Protestant addition that is unbiblical and in fact misleading? And so I will respond, but I pray I will do so in a fashion that will honor Christ by not inserting personal invective so that the issue becomes clouded and uncertain. I’ve said it before: I do not matter. Mark Seifrid does not matter. God’s truth matters. Calvin knew all about this, for in a sermon on Galatians 2:4 he said,
And forasmuch as our case is altogether like at this day, so as we cannot hold our peace except we will betray both god and man: we must fight stoutly against that hellish tyranny, and against those pelting trash trumpery and illusions of Satan, whereby he would fain [happily] either quite deface the Gospel, or else so turmoil it as a man should not know which is the pure truth. This in effect is the thing that we have to bear in mind. And whereas Saint Paul says, that he yielded not one jot to such men: it is to confirm us so much the better on the thing that I touched even now. Peace and friendship are an amiable thing among men. They be so indeed, and we ought to seek them to the uttermost of our power. But yet for all that, we must set such store by God’s truth, that if all the world should be set on fire for the maintenance thereof, we should not stick at it.
Update 12/30/2014: This review eventually became a major series of posts. For those interested in reading the entire series in order I post the links below. RP
Dr. Seifrid on Imputation July 9, 2004
More in Response to Southern Seminary Professor’s Denial of Imputed Righteousness July 9, 2004
Continuing Review of Mark Seifrid’s Views on the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness July 11, 2004
An Interesting Expansion in the LBCF, 1689 July 27, 2004
The Abstract of Principles on Justification July 30, 2004
The Imputation Controversy August 25, 2004
Imputation Controversy #2 August 26, 2004
Why I Care About “Christ, our Righteousness” August 28, 2004
Imputation Controversy #3 August 30, 2004
Southern Seminary and Dr. Mark Seifrid September 4, 2004
A Response to Southern Seminary and Dr. Mark Seifrid September 4, 2004
Listen to Today’s DL for a Full Discussion of the SBTS/Seifrid/Imputation Issue September 7, 2004
From the 1994 WTJ September 7, 2004
A Word of Rebuke to the Firebrands September 8, 2004
And Verily It Got Nuttier September 11, 2004
Yes, I Have a Copy, Thank You September 13, 2004
An Open Letter to Dr. Mark Seifrid (Part 1) September 14, 2004
Seifrid Response, Part II September 15, 2004
Seifrid Response, Part III September 18, 2004
Open Letter to Mark Seifrid, Part IV September 21, 2004
Open Letter to Mark Seifrid, Part V October 2, 2004
If I Misrepresented Dr. Seifrid, then…. December 3, 2004