Maybe the discussion is over but I’ll make one last comment. Two weeks ago we started with the question of what in the Reformed tradition was in need of fixing and how FV was trying to do this. Most recently we have been debating IAOC as one of the specific points that FV may be trying to remedy.
But the response to Machen has been less than persuasive, to me at least. The responses seem to be that IAOC is not broken. But neither is it that compelling or interesting or necessary or something. It seems to be like light beer — you drink it and you taste nothing. IAOC doesn’t motivate the FV folks.
I don’t mean to be obnoxious about this, but I do detect some condescension about this. It’s as if IAOC is an older concept that is now out of date considering all of the insights of BT regarding Paul, the law, and a host of other considerations. James Jordan keeps refering to individualistic accounts of salvation as akin to the Four Spiritual Laws. And we all know — wink, wink — how lame those are.
But I actually need salvation and IAOC. With Machen I can say that I have no hope without it. And the reason why I am opposed to those who are unwilling to affirm it as essential to the gospel is personal. These people don’t seem to understand my plight, my guilt before the law, my need to be perfect if I am to commune with God, and my need for a perfect savior who not only died for my sins but lived perfectly so that I need no longer fear God’s condemnation. I am left wondering if FV takes seriously the fall, and the disproportionate penalty for Adam’s merely eating an apple. The law demands perfection. Breaking the law demands death. As a descendant of Adam I am personally screwed without a savior who has paid he penalty for all of my sins and has given me righteousness that will allow me to ascend God’s holy hill.
I hate to make this about me. But Heidelberg 1 does make it about me. And, for instance, James’ notion of a cosmic gospel I find about as chilling and impersonal as Carl Sagan’s view of the cosmos. And the idea that God can adopt me and establish some kind of relationship with me apart from the magnitude of my sin and guilt remains a mystery.
So before I leave this discussion thread I would like to appeal to the FV’s pastoral side. You guys are not only pastors but have at times claimed that you are trying to be pastoral. If that is the case, I’d ask you to be very careful in the way you alter or re-express the doctrines of grace. This is not a game. These are not playful matters. The comfort of embodied souls is at stake. Until you can offer a doctrinal product that gives as much comfort to sinners as the old model, then please be very careful.