Dear Dr. Seifrid:
I am in receipt of your recent response to the controversy that has developed due to your book, Christ, our Righteousness. I had taken a few moments to respond to particularly troubling statements you provided in your book where you sought to differentiate your views from that of “traditional Protestant orthodoxy” (Seifrid, 2000, p. 171). I did so because I believe passionately in the very elements of “traditional Protestant orthodoxy” you seem to wish to say are sub-biblical or simply non-biblical. Further, your book had caused concern on the part of a fine pastor on Long Island who had discussed your comments with me. So, as I seek to serve pastors who are busy in ministry and yet who are concerned about theological trends and movements, I began working through the relevant section of your work.
In your recent response, sir, you began by making comments that are truly hard to understand. You wrote:
We Christians have the duty not only to speak the truth, but to speak it in love. That means that we are never permitted to address issues as if they were purely doctrinal. We always speak to and about persons, whom we are called by Christ to love no matter what the nature of our disagreement, or the severity of response that might be necessary. We Christians must be aware of the danger of depersonalization of our discourse which the Internet presents. Had they been true, the charges which James White brought against me in his blogs on his website would have resulted in my dismissal from Southern Seminary. A calling to teach here is contingent without qualification on fidelity to our confessional statement (“the Abstract of Principles”). Yet, as far as I can tell, before posting these charges Dr. White made no attempt to contact me to see if he had understood me correctly, or to ensure that he had understood the issues correctly, or to urge me to retract any statement I had made. Nor, as far as I know, did he contact Southern Seminary to express his concerns. Love surely requires that we seek to correct one another gently. Surely the reputation of the fine institution at which I teach ought to be respected and preserved if at all possible.
Evidently the beginning of your response is directed to the fact that I have repeatedly emphasized that my review of Christ, our Righteousness was not directed at you personally, and that I have engaged in a concerted effort to avoid the use of ad-hominem so as to make sure the subject itself (the gospel of Jesus Christ) would not be obscured, as far as it depends upon me, by personalities, politics, or any other passing, temporal thing. I confess, I feel rather alone in my effort, for so far, I seem to be the only one pursuing that goal. You see, Dr. Seifrid, these issues will still impact the next generations of believers long after you and I have left this world. My children and grand-children will, Lord willing, stand upon the same firm ground in their having peace with God as I do. And since these are timeless truths, the passionate discussion of them cannot be “personal.” Since generations before us discussed these things, and generations after us will as well, how can you say what you say here? While my encounter with the truth of justification is indeed personal, sir, the doctrine itself is true outside of my existence, and hence can be discussed without it being “personal.” The fact of the matter is, thus far, the reader of the entirety of what has been written over the past few weeks can plainly see that I have sought to maintain a focus upon nothing but the issue that is eternal in importance. Others have seemingly been very concerned about institutions, careers, personalities, and all sorts of other temporal things. Are these things truly more important than the eternal verity of how one stands before a holy God, Dr. Seifrid?
Now, sir, many have pointed out, upon reading your statements, that they simply do not make a lot of sense on a practical level. Have you contacted every person with whom you have disagreed in print? When you cite someone and say, “in opposition to”, do you stop and call them on the phone? Does anyone handle published materials in this fashion? Surely not.
To my knowledge, sir, we have never met. I do not know you on a personal level. But you have placed in the public realm through the publication of a book your statements regarding what you call “Protestant orthodoxy.” Do you seriously expect every person who would see themselves in that camp to call you on the phone and have a “chat” prior to saying anything about what you have said in a published and publicly distributed book?
Now, I have asked a number of folks over the past few weeks to document the posting of “charges” on the Internet on my part. Could you please quote, directly, the text of these “charges”? Could you tell me where I said, “I accuse Dr. Seifrid of “? It seems that given your position, you believe you are free to say whatever you wish in your published works and if anyone disagrees, they need to 1) contact you, and 2) remember that any disagreement will involve personal attack upon you, and 3) take into consideration your employment and position in the review of anything you write. Have you considered how very odd this truly is? To your knowledge, did I send “charges” to anyone at Southern Seminary? To your knowledge, did I contact staff people at Southern and seek to promote some disagreement with you? The reality is many other issues crowded into my work and I had been forced to put my response to your materials on the back burner during July. Not only was it not personal but it simply was not the most important thing in my thinking, either. I have a major debate in a matter of weeks that, though marginally related topically, is really on a different level and subject. The allegation that I have some vendetta, some agenda, and have in the slightest wished to force some action on the part of Southern is quite simply silly. Such thoughts never so much as crossed my mind. I realize I am out of step with “the academy,” but I assure you, I happen to believe that the issues I initially raised regarding imputation are so far more important than either of us that I never once thought about it in the fashion you assume.
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