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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Back To The Garden


The theological perspective that posits that Adam would have been confirmed in righteousness and translated into a state in which he could no longer sin had he passed an alleged probation period is not deducible from Scripture. After all, if it were, then I would think that someone in the history of the church would have proved it by now. What is most insidious is not that theologians speculate but that they raise their speculations to the level of revelation. After vain speculations become canonized, then it’s only a matter of time that those who are constrained by sola scriptura will be chastised for not affirming in their dogmatic assertions that which goes beyond the boundaries of sound exegesis. "Good and necessary inference" has taken on new meaning I'm afraid.
As John Frame so aptly noted:
"For thirty years or so there has been a movement in American evangelicalism to
recover the past, to remedy the “rootlessness” that many have felt in
evangelical churches. In the 1950s and ‘60s, the intellectual leaders of
evangelicalism were for the most part biblical scholars, apologists, and
systematic theologians. But at the end of the twentieth century, church
historians, and theologians who do their work in dialogue with ancient and
recent history, have become more prominent. Reformed theology has participated
in this development, so that many of its most prominent figures, such as [I’ve
deleted the names] do theology in a historical mode. The history-oriented
theologians tend to be uncritical of traditions and critical of the contemporary
church. But their arguments are often based on their preferences rather than
biblical principle and therefore fail to persuade. The Reformed community, in my
judgment, needs to return to an explicitly exegetical model of theology,
following the example of John Murray."

Ron
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18 comments:

Joshua said...

If I may be so bold,

"Good and necessary inference"

A definition of terms, in demonstrative verse:

Good = "what seems good to me"
Necessary = "is necessary for you"
Inference = "I infer that you agree"
and = "thus by two it must be true"*

*note that the Scriptural warrant for this premise is gleaned from the plain reading (which means irrefutable) of Matt. 18:19

Joshua said...

"Even if man had remained free from all stain, his condition would have been too lowly for him to reach God without a Mediator."

~John Calvin
Institutes, Bk. 2, Ch. XII, Sec. 1

In fact, much of what Calvin says against Osiander's speculations about Christ in this entire chapter could be transferred to the speculations concerning Adam.

Calvin grounds his thought in the eternal decree, not in vain speculations to the contrary.

Mark said...

After vain speculations become canonized, then it’s only a matter of time that those who are constrained by sola scriptura will be chastised for not affirming in their dogmatic assertions that which goes beyond the boundaries of sound exegesis.

Chastisement would be an improvement. The ease with which the charges of unorthodox and even heresy flow off the tongues of these pack minded “thinkers” (and I use that term loosely) is appalling. Vain speculations indeed. “Theo” it seems, finding its spouse “logical” too restrictive has fled the house and filed for divorce. Let’s pray that they reconcile.

rgmann said...

The theological perspective that posits that Adam would have been confirmed in righteousness and translated into a state in which he could no longer sin had he passed an alleged probation period is not deducible from Scripture. After all, if it were, then I would think that someone in the history of the church would have proved it by now.

So, then, you disagree with Calvin, and feel that he didn’t prove his position from Scripture? For that is surely the essence of what he taught in the following quotations:

“Man excelled in these noble endowments [intellect & will] in his primitive condition, when reason, intelligence, prudence, and Judgment, not only sufficed for the government of his earthly life, but also enabled him to rise up to God and eternal happiness. Thereafter choice was added to direct the appetites, and temper all the organic motions; the will being thus perfectly submissive to the authority of reason. In this upright state, man possessed freedom of will, by which, if he chose, he was able to obtain eternal life. It were here unseasonable to introduce the question concerning the secret predestination of God, because we are not considering what might or might not happen, but what the nature of man truly was. Adam, therefore, might have stood if he chose, since it was only by his own will that he fell.” (Institutes, 1.15.8)

“The prohibition to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a trial of obedience, that Adam, by observing it, might prove his willing submission to the command of God. For the very term shows the end of the precept to have been to keep him contented with his lot, and not allow him arrogantly to aspire beyond it. The promise, which gave him hope of eternal life as long as he should eat of the tree of life, and, on the other hand, the fearful denunciation of death the moment he should taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were meant to prove and exercise his faith. Hence it is not difficult to infer in what way Adam provoked the wrath of God.” (Institutes 2.1.4)

“But it is asked, what kind of death God means in this place? It appears to me, that the definition of this death is to be sought from its opposite; we must, I say, remember from what kind of life man fell…His earthly life truly would have been temporal; yet he would have passed into heaven without death, and without injury.” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Gen. 2:16-17)

“The passage is taken from Leviticus 18:5, where the Lord promises eternal life to those who would keep his law; for in this sense, as you see, Paul has taken the passage, and not only of temporal life, as some think.” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Rom. 10:5)

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Rgmann,

I am well aware of the thesis (that the compact offered confirmation in righteousness and a transformed moral state that would prevent one from possibly sinning). What I am looking for is a series of true, justifiable premises where that conclusion follows with necessity. Do you understand that I’m looking for an argument?

The promise, which gave him hope of eternal life as long as he should eat of the tree of life, and, on the other hand, the fearful denunciation of death the moment he should taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were meant to prove and exercise his faith. Hence it is not difficult to infer in what way Adam provoked the wrath of God.” (Institutes 2.1.4)

Calvin’s argument is 2.1.4 is that Adam would continue for all of time “as long as he should eat of the tree of life.” Calvin’s quote says nothing of a radical change in moral quality. In fact, his qualifier of “as long as he should eat” makes your position untenable. There is no terminus point in view in 2.1.4. Notwithstanding, the material point is that you have offered no argument. The thesis is apparent; it’s the defense that is obscure.

“The passage is taken from Leviticus 18:5, where the Lord promises eternal life to those who would keep his law; for in this sense, as you see, Paul has taken the passage, and not only of temporal life, as some think.” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Rom. 10:5)

Obviously this passage speaks of the glory that awaits sinners, and not to the prelapsarian dispensation. It speaks to the fact that only those who have good works will go to heaven.

Let me put forth a rough argument that represents your view:

p1. Jesus after a finite amount of time on earth entered into glory
p2. The compact with Adam paralleled that of Jesus with respect to the hope of glory
C. Adam after a finite amount of time on earth would have entered into glory

My challenge for you and anyone else is:

1. Prove the minor premise (p2) with a valid form and premises taken from Scripture
2. Given the parallel in p2, why not assert a parallel with respect to the possibility of sin? Why in other words, should you not conclude that Jesus could sin given that Adam could sin? (Or do you believe Charles Hodge was correct regarding the possibility of Jesus’ sin? In which case I’ll refer you here: http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/09/could-jesus-have-sinned.html .)
3. Given the parallel in p2, why not also assume that Adam would have obtained eternal life for those he represented, as did Jesus?

Ron

Anonymous said...

It's more fun to speculate than to justify that's why Ron! Let me correct that. People don't even know that they're speculating. They have "movement" mentalities and they take as gospel whatever is taught them by their favorite teachers. Why should we be surprised given our postmodern world where any opinion is as valid as the next?

Tim H said...

Ron -- I wonder if you could deduce by your standard that Adam and Eve were ever married?

Biblical interpretation does not proceed solely on the lines of deduction, but there is a unique form that lies between deduction and induction.

The thesis re Adam's probation can be made to my satisfaction by combining with arguments from Rom 5 and I Cor 15. A bit involved to put into a combox, however -- at least for me.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Rgmann,

For brevity sake I will deal with only the heart of your defense. If it can’t be shown that Adam would have been glorified, then all else is moot. As I stated, my challenge for you and anyone else is: 1. Prove the minor premise (p2) with a valid form and premises taken from Scripture.

You replied “That’s easy: … this law promises “eternal life” to those who perfectly fulfill its precepts (Lev. 18:5; Matt. 19:16-7; Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12; etc.)”

None of those verses teach that Adam (or any other non-divine person) would have been glorified by keeping the law. I believe you have confused eternal life with glorification and in doing so only argued that perfect obedience is held out in the Covenant of Grace as a way of life. Are eternal life and the kingdom of heaven, glory? When one gains eternal life or enters into the kingdom, is he glorified? Being in the kingdom of heaven or having eternal life is not the same thing as being glorified. Accordingly, the verses that support the idea that perfect obedience would gain someone entrance into the kingdom of heaven or eternal life are not verses that teach that perfect obedience could ever result in glorification. But you will say to me, “all those who enter into eternal life will be glorified, so eternal life implies glorification necessarily.” That’s not correct though. Life is indeed a sufficient condition for the guarantee of future glorification in the days of redemption; but it was not in the days of Adam - for Adam had life but not the promise of glory based upon the life he had.

So in summary, life is not glorification. So your appeal to life verses does not establish your premise that Adam would have been glorified had he obeyed perfectly. And any appeal you might make to glorification will involve promises given to redeemed sinners raised in Christ.

Under the gospel we have a golden chain of redemption, with that eternal life culminating in the glorified state. In the garden there was no golden chain of redemption but rather eternal life was offered upon perpetual obedience. As long as Adam obeyed, he’d live. He had eternal life until he would fall. Eternity is not timeless; so Adam was (in time) a partaker of eternal life, just as you are now. If obeyed forever, he would have lived forever. Your task was to prove that Adam, after a time, would have lived forever in a glorified state.

Rgmann, I don't know quite how to put this any more gently but you have not argued that Adam could have obtained a glorified state. You merely argued that under the covenant of grace, life (not a glorified state) is held out to all who obey God perfectly. That, though, doesn’t support what you were to have been arguing. Scripture reveals that glorification is an additional blessing to our new life in Christ. I wanted to see where Scripture reveals that glorification was offered as an increase in blessing upon Adam’s perfect obedience.

What a great salvation we have in Christ. We have more than was even offered Adam!
Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Ron -- I wonder if you could deduce by your standard that Adam and Eve were ever married?

Hey Tim,

I think I can.

1. A woman is married to a man when they are one flesh
2. Eve was bone of Adam’s bone and flesh of his flesh
3. Eve was married to Adam

What God performs in ordinary providence was performed in Adam and Eve in creation.

Biblical interpretation does not proceed solely on the lines of deduction, but there is a unique form that lies between deduction and induction.

What lies between deduction and induction? And please don’t say a transcendental argument for that is just a powerful type of a deductive argument.

Example:

Prove A: The Christian God exists.

Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): The Christian God does not exist.

Step 2 (~A--> B): If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility

Step 3 (~B): There is intelligible experience (Contradiction!)

Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God does not exist (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)

Step 5 (A): --> God does exist (Law of negation.)
Q.E.D.


The thesis re Adam's probation can be made to my satisfaction by combining with arguments from Rom 5 and I Cor 15. A bit involved to put into a combox, however -- at least for me.

Do you arrive at this conclusion without begging the question? The truth claim is not an ultimate truth claim, so I’m not going to give you any wiggle room on circular reasoning! :)

Yours,

Ron

Tim H said...

Ron -- I think your first premise is "if one flesh then married." But that is clearly not true.

On the subject of Adam, the argument in I Cor is to distinguish bodies that are psychikon and pneumatikon. The one, which Adam had was the former -- corruptible, liable to death, etc. But the goal was clearly the latter -- incorruptible. "Protology is eschatology" as Gaffin says. The dynamic of intent was pre-lapsarian.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Tim, you know as well as I that you are not arguing anything. You're just making assertions, both with marriage and with Adam's glorification.

With respect to 1 Corinth. 15, the reference to Adam is simply one of his being flesh before spiritual, which has nothing to do with whether glorification was part of the original compact. Simply to find a verse that mentions Adam, heaven, flesh, spirit, incorruptible, etc., makes not an argument for your desired conclusion. A little synthesis might be in order.

As I said before, if the conclusion could be proven it would have been so by now. You're to be showing that Adam could have been glorified by obedience in the garden, not that fallen men will be raised from the dead and glorified.

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

NOTE: With respect to my last post to Rgmann, keep in mind that the ontology of Adam and that of one born from above are vastly different. My point was not so much that they both had eternal life in the same ontological sense but that they both had life eternal in the sense that they would live forever if they continued in the covenant, which does not imply that a converted man might not.

Ron

Tim (the other one) said...

Ron:

I can't believe how far people will go to argue a position without an argument.

You drove it home here...

p1. Jesus after a finite amount of time on earth entered into glory
p2. The compact with Adam paralleled that of Jesus with respect to the hope of glory
C. Adam after a finite amount of time on earth would have entered into glory

Nobody has stood up to your challenge of proving p2. All I've seen is some sloppy proof-texting but when you pealed back the onion there was nothing there... Why is it so hard for people to "prove" that Adam would have been glorified if the Bible teaches it... or maybe it dosen't! :v) All the other challenges you talked about are minor compared to this one...

(The other) Tim.

Josh said...

I noticed you pulled your diatribe against the Baptists. Why?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Josh,

I had already put forth a thorough refutation of baptistic thought on an earlier post; so the polemic in the post to which you refer didn't bring anything new to the dance. It's my recollection that the only other point of that post was that baptists divide the church of Christ with their doctrine and that when they are proven wrong, typically what happens is rather than abandon their position and join with the Reformed saints they simply remain baptist. My internal struggle was that the very thing I was trying to point out and hopefully contribute a remedy to within my sphere of influence was possibly working contray to my intention by dividing rather than uniting. I don't know whether I did the right thing, but I do know that God doesn't need me to enlighten baptists of the error of their way.

In my original polemic against baptist theology, I added the formal proof that was in the post to which you refer, which I believe has made that post most complete.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,
I'm sorry to post this here, but I have a question concerning TAG and TAs and I didn't see an e-mail or contact information on your page. I was wondering if you could help.

Someone from another forum has posited the following:

"Consider this. Here is the logical form of a transcendental argument (TA).

1. q
2. it is necessary that: if not-p, then not-q
3. p

So, here is TAG in the Bahnsen-Stein debate.

1. Logic
2. it is necessary that: if not-Christian Theism, then not-Logic.
3. Christian theism

Obviously, the trick in a TA is proving 2, the transcendental premise. I think there are two possible fallacies in TAG that I am concerned about. Here is how Bahnsen went about proving 2.

2a. It is necessary that: if there is a rational explanation for Logic other than Christian Theism, then it is either a priori, a posteriori, or by convention.
2b. A priori, a posteriori, and convention are insufficient to explain Logic.
2. it is necessary that: if not-Christian Theism, then not-Logic.

Now, there seems to be a fallacy of false alternative in 2a. What happened to non-Christian theism? It was ignored. Also, even granted that Bahnsen is right about dismissing a priori, a posteriori, and convention; how does he know these are the only ways logic may be justified? Further, even if he disproves all other views, that does not prove his own, since the proof may be yet to be discovered or even impossible to discover.

This leads to the second problem I see with TAG. TA’s are about proving metaphysical necessity, so there should be an almost self-attesting reason for premise 2...."

Source: http://www.sharperiron.org/showthread.php?t=7707&page=2

Now it seems to me that we know the second premise (It is necessary that: if ~Christian Theism then ~Logic)from God's Word (GW). But does this break into vicious circularity since it would be the following:

1. Logic.
2. Belief in God's Word entails that it is necessary that: if ~Christian Theism then ~logic.
3. Christian Theism.

Is this correct? Am I missing something entirely?

Thanks and God bless.

(You can e-mail me at TheReformedApologist@gmail.com)

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I would be happy to discuss this on the phone. There is too much here to navigate through over email. If you're interested, let me know. BTW, TAG does not deny the antecedent. http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2007/01/sound-proof-for-gods-existence.html

Anonymous said...

Ron,

Thank you for the offer. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to respond but I got to doing other things and lost track. I would be willing to discuss this over the phone and I would also like to hear your opinion on Plantinga. Send me an e-mail and we can try to set something up.

Thanks again,
John