As I am continuing my commentary on Professor Seifrid’s comments on justification (thought I had forgotten that, didn’t you?), I was doing some reading and ran across an interesting “expansion” in the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) that is not found in the Westminster Confession of Faith (1648). Seemingly it comes from the Savoy Declaration, but I haven’t had time to follow that out. Compare the two statements in chapter Eleven, section 1, of each confession:

WCF:Those whom God effectually calleth He also freely justifieth; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous: not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone: nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness, by faith: which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.LBCF:1. Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in His death for their whole and sole righteousness, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.

The expansion, as you can see, is most relevant to today’s situation. Samuel Waldron in his wonderfully useful work, A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith wrote,

Paragraph 1 of the Confession enunciates the classic Protestant distinction between the active and passive obedience of Christ. This distinction has been popularly understood to entail a division of Christ’s work into two divisions or parts. The perfect life of obedience to the law of God up to, but not including the cross, has been viewed as Christ’s active obedience. Such an understanding, however, has no biblical support. The active and passive obedience of Christ are not two separate parts of Christ’s work, but his one work looked at in two ways. Philippians 2:8, for instance, describes Christ as “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross’. In many places the cross is viewed as the culminating activity in Christ’s obedience to the Father’s will (John 14:31; 15:10; Rom. 5:17-19; Heb. 5:8-9; 10:5-10).

If there is no division of Christ’s obedience into two separate parts in the Bible, why is this distinction necessary? The answer is that we had a twofold need if we were to inherit eternal life. We needed, firstly, the forgiveness of the guilt of our sins. This is provided by Christ’s passive obedience, his suffering the penalty of the law. Secondly, we needed the gift of a positive righteousness. This is provided by Christ’s active obedience, his obedience to the precepts of God’s law and all the other dimensions of the preceptive will of the Father for him.

One can see why Reformed Baptists, especially, have no basis upon which to waffle on this point, at least confessionally. What this has to do with our review of Seifrid’s position will come out in our next installment.

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

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