Saturday, October 21, 2017

John and Justification

It seems some people (e.g. here and here) wish to argue John Piper’s position on justification make him a bedfellow with the Pope.  Piper supposedly has theologically drifted in his old age (e.g Billy Graham) to affirm justification by faith plus works. He is now implicitly branded a heretic corrupting the church. Perhaps God’s gadfly? Well, he is definitely irritating some with his views.  While others defend him and/or seek clarification. I have no money in this fight. But I do think one can interpret Piper in an orthodox manner. His distinction between initial/final salvation is consistent with the 'already not yet' motif. Likewise, Piper explains Paul’s teaching that justification is by faith alone as the root of salvation. Nevertheless,  James tells us good works are the fruit of our salvation. We have an active faith that works. Hence, justification is not dependent upon sanctification but sanctification is dependent upon justification.   

Ironically, some critics of Piper highly esteem Gordon H. Clark (as do I), however, they fail to realize Dr. Clark seems to concur, in part, with Piper, 

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13-14)

"Now then, what does the verse say? Well of course, it says we should work out our own salvation. Let us be quite clear on the fact that the Bible does not teach salvation by faith alone. The Bible teaches justification by faith alone. Justification then necessarily is followed by a process of sanctification, and this consists of works which we do. It consists of external actions initiated by internal volitions. We must therefore work out our own salvation; and this, in fear and trembling because we must depend on  God."(Predestination, page 120).

Note: the use of the term 'instrumental' is missing in the above quotation thus an argument may be made that this is precisely the problem with Piper's comments.

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