Double Justification, Quadruple Justification, and the Defense of John Piper

Hermann_Witsius_by_Heymans

Introduction

We have dealt with various defenses of John Piper’s rejection of Salvation Sola Fide over the last several posts. We first dealt with the claim that he was really just pointing out that Justification and Sanctification are inseparable (HERE). I agree entirely. But both are benefits of union with Christ, faith alone being the instrumental cause of this union. We next looked at the claim the Piper is really just pointing out that “salvation” is a broader term than justification (HERE). I grant this as well, but justification simply is the present declaration of the future verdict, and both are based on the merits of Christ, received by faith alone. And last we responded to Dr. Mark Jones’ rejoinder that Piper is really just infelicitously employing the Reformed Scholastic distinction between Right to Salvation and Possession of Salvation (HERE). We concluded from Thomas Goodwin that the Right to Salvation includes the “whole lump,” not only justification but also final salvation. Justification does not equal Right and final salvation does not equal Possession. There is a right to the whole and a possession of the whole. And the right to the whole lump is had by faith alone.

We come now to another defense that seems to be popping up here and there, particularly via The Calvinist International. The rub seems to be that the best lights of the Reformed tradition have always acknowledged a “Double Justification,” one by faith and the other by works. The implied argument is that Piper is really just talking about these two historically allowable justifications, but modern evangelical and Reformed readers can’t see this, being unaware of the tradition and frightened by words and phrases that don’t fit the modern gloss. But this is absurd. Simply pointing out that there are different senses and uses of the concept “to justify” covers no ground toward solving this dispute. Remember, what is at issue is Piper’s claim that only justification is through faith alone whereas Final Salvation is through faith and fruits, good works being proper conditions and requirements for attaining Heaven (see HERE). So simply pointing out that we can use the word “justify” when speaking of works is irrelevant to the question of whether we are saved now and on the last day by the merits of Christ alone, received by faith alone, or by faith plus “sufficient” fruit.

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Salvation Sola Fide: John Calvin and the Causes of Salvation

John Calvin

This post is a continuation of “Part 3” of the series below, assessing the tradition with respect to John Piper and his defenders:

Rachel Miller Contra Mundum? The 5 Solas and John Piper: Part 1

Rachel Miller Contra Mundum? The 5 Solas and John Piper: Part 2, “Salvation”

Rachel Contra Mundum? The 5 Solas and John Piper: Part 3, Beginning at the End: The Marrow Men

Salvation Sola Fide: Martin Luther and the Fruits of Faith

Salvation Sola Fide: John Calvin and the Causes of Salvation

“[W]e cannot look on personal holiness, or good works, as properly federal and conditional means of obtaining the possession of heaven, though we own they are necessary to make us meet for it.” ~The Marrow Men

Introduction

As we continue in our series to consider John Calvin, it needs to be noted up front that, like Luther, Calvin often puts Salvation for Justification and Justification for Salvation. And like Luther, for good reason. As we argued in Part 1 one of this series, the benefits of Justification and Regeneration/Sanctification are inseparable and are together granted by Union with Christ through the instrument of faith.  Thus Calvin writes:

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John Calvin’s “Calvinism” vs. John Gill’s “Calvinism”, via Some Key Texts

GIll Commentaries

Can both Johns announce indiscriminately to all sinners, “God loves you and sent His Son to die for you”? Or, Calvin’s Calvinism vs. Gill’s Calvinism, as demonstrated by their respective commentaries on a few key texts.

Let’s take look. Would love to hear your thoughts.

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