In light of our FV discussion from a couple of months ago, I thought that it would be worth posting this snippet from a recent interview of Carl Trueman at Reformation21:
The bookâ€™s concluding chapter is on the issue of justification â€“ a somewhat â€œhotâ€ topic today. Would you care to summarize for us what â€œthe old perspectiveâ€ of justification as taught by Owen was and what can we learn from it in terms of our current controversies on this topic?
Adam and Christ are the two great representatives of humanity. Adam failed to fulfill the law and lost eternal life for himself and his descendants. Christ came from the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit as the second Adam, positively fulfilled the law on behalf of those the Father gave to him, and took their punishment on the cross; those who trust in Christ and are united to him receive his work as credited to their account, his life and death as vicariously performed for them and as the basis for Godâ€™s judgment on them.
Whatâ€™s at stake in the current controversy? A whole heap of things. If the Reformed Orthodox misunderstood the nature and purpose of the law (i.e., if Chapter XIX of the Westminster Confession is fundamentally wrong) the whole Reformed understanding of salvation collapses and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. If justification involved the believerâ€™s works in any ultimately constitutive way, then assurance goes out the window â€“ except the lack of a sense, or reconstruction of the nature, of Godâ€™s holiness in some of the new stuff would make lack of assurance incomprehensible. Then there is the `Bourne Identityâ€™ Christology which is replacing Chalcedonian orthodoxy that underlies the classical soteriology â€“ Christ wanders around doing these amazing things, and finally he guesses who he is (assuming he isnâ€™t suffering from delusions, that is!). Thatâ€™s pretty hard to square with scripture or tradition or major theological concerns. One could mention the hermeneutical issue, whereby Second Temple Jewish texts become determinative on understanding the New Testament. Iâ€™m no expert on modern biblical scholarship, but the critique of classical Protestant notions of justification seem predicated on the rejection of so many Reformation tenets, both materially in terms of the revision of definition and methodologically in terms of scriptural sufficiency, clarity, and the authority for interpretation. Much closer to Roman Catholicism on all fronts â€“ and it doesnâ€™t surprise me that numerous students I have known who have become enamoured with this stuff and done the decent thing and returned to Rome. I would do so myself if I came to abandon these central Protestant tenets â€“ the only honest thing to do.