Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dr Packer Served 60 Days Notice

Dr Packer's spiritual authority as a minister of Word and Sacrament may be revoked.

Read more about it at Fulcrum, Anglican Mainstream, and

To hear from Dr Packer himself on the Anglican situation, search YouTube on St John's Shaughnessy. Let's keep him and others involved in prayer.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Preaching Imputation

Tobias Crisp (1600-1643), whose posthumously published sermons became associated with antinomianism, had argued in a sermon on Isaiah 53:6 that it was not merely sin’s punishment which the Lord laid upon Christ but sin itself, that is, both the guilt and punishment of sin. This was a fairly standard view of imputation among the Reformed orthodox. Liability to guilt and punishment are so interlinked that the imputation of one entailed the imputation of the other. Crisp is in good company here. Consider, however, the following statements by Crisp asserted on the basis of such an imputation.

"Christ himself becomes the transgressor in the room and stead of this person that had transgressed: so that in respect of the reality of being a transgressor, Christ is as really the transgressor as the person that did commit it was a transgressor before Christ took this transgression upon him.” (Christ Alone Exalted, II, 82) Commenting on Christ being made sin in 2 Corinthians 5:21, Crisp was careful to qualify that the Apostle Paul was in no way referring to sin’s pollution of Christ’s essence nor was he suggesting that Christ performed any sinful act. Nevertheless, he insisted that Christ was a transgressor: “the Apostle’s meaning was, that no transgressor in the world was such a transgressor as Christ was. But still he was a transgressor, as our transgressions were laid upon him…” (Christ Alone Exalted, II, 84).

On the other side of the imputation equation, Crisp reasoned, “If you will speak of one completely righteous, you must speak of this person, and know that Christ himselfe is not more righteous than this person is, that that person is not more sinfull then Christ was when hee took their sinnes on him…”; by the one sacrifice of Christ, “he hath perfected them that are sanctified.” (Christ Alone Exalted, II, 90)

Remember that these statements of Crisp were made in his preaching. Owen was, of course, not capable of such unqualified assertions! And so he cautions with his characteristic distinctions.

“When our sin was imputed unto him [Christ], he did not thereby become a sinner as we are, actively and inherently a sinner; but passively only, and in God’s estimation. As he was made sin, yet knew no sin; so we are made righteous, yet are sinful in ourselves.” (Doctrine of Justification, XVIII)

“To say that we are as righteous as Christ, is to make a comparison between the personal righteousness of Christ and our personal righteousness, — if the comparison be of things of the same kind. But this is foolish and impious: for, notwithstanding all our personal righteousness, we are sinful; he knew no sin. And if the comparison be between Christ’s personal, inherent righteousness, and righteousness imputed unto us, inhesion and imputation being things of diverse kinds, it is fond and of no consequence. Christ was actively righteous; we are passively so.” (Doctrine of Justification, XVIII)

The comparison between Crisp and Owen is not exactly on the same level. Crisp's language is kerygmatic while Owen's is academic and used in the context of theological polemics. Yet if one is to preach imputation with all the cautions of Owen in place, I wonder how might that language sound?


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