Dr. Jay’s Hopeful Post and the Evil Twins
On the Institute For Nouthetic Studies blog, the comment option is turned off, so I will have to make my own here. Actually, of all people, I thought about foregoing any reaction to this very unique, if not historic, post (“Contemplation?” http://www.nouthetic.org/blog/?cat=39 second from top) Why? I ain’t tellin’, but I will discuss why I think it is at least unique, if not historic. But, I am going to exercise caution here because Adams does not name any specific doctrine, and it would also seem that it is the policy of INS not to name names (kinda reminds you of my blog, doesn’t it?) so, I want to be careful not to attach any references of my own not intended by the (run-on sentence ahead) father of having a clue of how to help people with the God breathed word and the terminator of the rumor that Sigmund Freud is smarter than God and often the victim of pretentious snot-nosed theologians who are jealous of what God has done through him and who often self-aggrandize themselves at his expense. Ooops, I let that slip, and it also reveals why I almost passed on this post; I have very strong opinions concerning the matter at hand. My conclusion will give you some idea as to why.
As one blogger put it, the doctrine of Gospel Sanctification is a “pet” of mine. Amen brother, and if you don’t like it, be sure to report me to the Humane Society because I mercilessly beat that doggy every day, because it is worthy of the hellish pit that it comes from. However, the subject of the Adams post is synonymous with the primary attribute of Gospel Sanctification; Adams did not say (in the post) that he is talking about Gospel Sanctification, but what he did say is the following: “The problem with the teaching is that it tends to confuse justification with sanctification.” That’s exactly what Gospel Sanctification does (as the title implies). So apparently, if Adams isn’t talking about the same doctrine, there could be at least one set of doctrinal evil twins running about. Now, this is what’s unique about his post, if not historic: nobody, as far as leaders who have national recognition; have ever discussed, or are talking about, these evil twins. The Adams post is a first. This is amazing because the one twin that I know was born around 1980, at Westminster hospital. Several leaders like John MacArthur, RC Sproul, and others, hang-out at conferences with those who propagate the evil twin I know, but they never talk about the evil twins. Therefore, it has been suggested to me by others that the evil twin I know isn’t really evil. But I don’t know about that, because here is what Dr. Jay said about the evil twin he has seen: “Will this seemingly Romish quietistic mysticism—or, at least, what borders on it help one to grow?” [the question is rhetorical]. Hmmm, maybe the problem is what Dr. Jay also said about the twin he has seen: “….it is ill-defined, and hard for those who don’t believe it to express it in words.” Yep, just like the twin I know; and therefore, I offer my excuses for Sproul and MacArthur.
Before I go on, let me use this paragraph to further bolster my theory that there are two doctrinal evil twins running about. The following attributes described by Adams are also exactly like the doctrine I have come to know, and therefore, I assume they are twins:
1. “The problem with the teaching is that it tends to confuse justification with sanctification.” Apparently, the twin I know is a little more forceful. Her minions make every effort to synthesize the two, often using Scripture that pertains to justification to make sanctification points.
2. ….”they [the several verses he cites in his post] all emphasize that one must put forth effort in order to grow more like Christ….it [the evil twin he has seen] seems to set forth the opposite.” Hmmm, I must admit, this is a little different from the one I know, which doesn’t “seem” to say that, but says in no uncertain terms that our efforts in the sanctification process is a false gospel. Could my theory be wrong?
3. “While properly emphasizing the cross of Christ as central to our Christian faith, it goes on in one way or another to suggest that contemplation of what Jesus did on the cross is the way to spiritual growth.” Oh yes, this is exactly like the one I know. Her minions say: “the same gospel that saved us, also sanctifies us”; “behold [contemplate] as a way of becoming”; “we must preach the gospel to ourselves every day”; “never, never [stated 21 more times] teach that we are saved by the gospel and then move-on to something else”; “there is a gospel application to every event of life, that’s why the Bible is so big”; [no, I swear, I didn't make that one up] “If not only the unregenerate but the regenerate are always dependent at every moment on the free grace of God disclosed in the gospel, then nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel.”
4. “….this method of sanctification seems to be a substitute for effort extended in the process of growth.” Right. The one I know teaches that “we can no more obey the law than we can overcome the law of gravity.” Likewise, not only does it teach that we don’t exercise effort in the sanctification process, it teaches that Christ obeys for us; they call it the “imputed active obedience of Christ.”
Here is a good summary quote from a minion of the evil twin that I have seen:
“Where we land on these issues is perhaps the most significant factor in how we approach our own faith and practice and communicate it to the world. If not only the unregenerate but the regenerate are always dependent at every moment on the free grace of God disclosed in the gospel, then nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel. When this happens (not just once, but every time we encounter the gospel afresh), the Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ’s image. Start with Christ (that is, the gospel) and you get sanctification in the bargain; begin with Christ and move on to something else, and you lose both.”
Wow, so if you don’t believe the doctrine of the evil twins, “you loose both” [justification and sanctification]. Soooo, does Mac and RC still believe in synergistic sanctification? They aren’t hanging out with people who think they are lost are they? Hey, I’m just asking!
I promised to tell why this issue is so dear to me. In, or about 1988, I barley got myself to a counseling appointment located in Springboro, Ohio. I had one foot in a mental institution and one foot on a banana peel. I would have made a great poster child for Gospel Sanctification and Christian Hedonism. Though I was a hard worker (career wise), I was spiritually lazy except for studying “the gospel”; and my own joy in the Lord was certainly the goal beyond all else. I arrived at the counseling appointment perplexed as to why my “total dependence” on God found me in such a state. The counselor, In a manner of speaking, was a disciple of Jay Adams. Much to my dismay, he emphasized obedience to the weightier matters of God’s word in regard to life and godliness. I had been to seminary, and was well-schooled in the Scriptures (supposedly), but in fact, was clueless.
But I had a new hope. Instead of only crying out to God on my knees for hours, and from the deepest parts of my soul, I learned that no matter how bad I felt, I could do something; and it would actually please the God of our universe sitting upon his thrown. This seemed to be an awesome privilege to me. “The War Within,” a book by Adams, also supplied a profound help during this time. Furthermore, though it was difficult, I continued to work, and listened to John MacArthur tapes while doing so. The series I was listening to was from the book of Daniel. MacArthur, in the series, strongly emphasized the spiritual character of Daniel as revealed by the Holy Spirit. I remember driving home, encouraged from the tapes, saying to myself: “look at me, look at me, I don’t want to be like this! I want to be like Daniel!” Again, I thank my God that I was not listening to some spiritual guru who thinks that every verse in the Bible is about the good news (however glorious), relegating the awesome example of Daniel to “pictures of the gospel.” Additionally, I thank God that I did not instead, end-up in the hands of someone who would have merely shown me a better way to do what I was already doing.
It is time for leaders with national recognition to get a spine, a bag of sand, and a stick. They need to empty the bag of sand between them and others, and draw a line in that sand, thus distinguishing between themselves, and the latter-day antinomians that Paul the apostle said would come.
Adams said the following in the same post regarding the doctrine in question: “People are confused by it, and have begun to ask questions” In regard to people starting to ask questions; I hope this is certainly the case, but the confusion of God’s people still continues to reap the indifference of leaders with national recognition, while applauding those who write books that would be the envy of Timothy Leary.
It is my prayer that we will all hear these words from our Savior: “Well done faithful servant.” But for the love of everything on Earth; it’s a verb phrase and we are the subject. Have we completely lost our minds?