Eternal Justifcation (Just for a change!)

David Dickson in his commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith Truth’s Victory Over Error discusses the question “Are the elect justified, until the Holy Spirit in due time actually apply Christ to them?”  He answers “No (Col. 1:21-22, Titus 3:4-7).”  He explains:

Well then do not the Antinomians err who maintain that the elect are justified from eternity, or when the price of redemption was paid?


By what reason are they confuted?

1. Because all that are justified have been strangers and enemies to God, and the children of wrath (Eph. 2:3; Col. 1:21; Titus 3:3; 1 Cor. 6:10-11).
2. Because none are justified until they believe in Christ; Galatians 2:16, ‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even when we believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.’

So Dickson and Rutherford and Durham are all on the same page on “eternal justification”.  I hope to post a comparison of Durham’s sermon on “come for all things are ready” with Rutherford’s but time is difficult to find for any substantial blog posts these days.

6 Responses to “Eternal Justifcation (Just for a change!)”

  1. Steven Carr Says:

    Dickson is commenting on the WCF, which is also on the same page concerning eternal justification. Since the WCF is an authoritative creedal declaration for many churches, there is greater weight behind the rejection of eternal justification.

  2. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Yes, I can’t read the WCF in any way that is compatible with eternal justification. Although there are of course various different ways of expressing eternal justification, some more nuanced than others, and things were a bit messier in England than Scotland. (Note the Savoy’s slightly different language on this).

    Where Durham really had issues with this was when “eternal justification” turned faith into nothing more than a realisation of a prior justification.

  3. thomasgoodwin Says:

    Donald John,

    Are you aware of any writers/works that expressly argue for the more radical form of EJ?

  4. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Hi Mark

    Hmm. I am not well read in the “antinomians” so I cant really say that I have. It depends on what you mean by the more radical form. I have seen people quote Crisp “he is first justified before he believes, then he believes that he is justified.” I know the distinction between in foro dei and in foro conscientiae plays a big part in clarifications usually made and I don’t know the context of the Crisp quote!

    Curt Daniels’ PhD “John Gill and Hypercalvinism” – which I wish focused more on Gill rather than ranging from Calvin to Pink and throwing in the odd Theonomist for good measure – discusses this at length. He documents some cases who definitely take the extreme view but they tend to be later hyper Baptists.

    Btw following you blog post Daniels touches on Goodwin’s lapsarian position and he takes Goodwin as a “prominent Puritan Supra and his views included a few unusual aspects” (citing 11:84-149,344). As far as I make out most of Scotland was spura in the mid 17th C – but Durham seems to have regarded the debate with ambivalence.


  5. thomasgoodwin Says:

    Thanks. I need to get Daniels’ thesis asap.

    I think we could be on the verge of a total overhaul of the infra- supra- categories in the near future. Just a hunch 😉


    The whole EJ thing has me confused, esp. since Crisp was not always careful with his language and may have said things in the pulpit that he wouldn’t have said in a different forum. Plus, Crips has as many orthodox defenders as he does orthodox detractors.

  6. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Hi Mark

    Don’t hold out too high expectations for the thesis – but it does spend a lot of time on EJ and supra/infra.

    EJ was obviously enough to get the Scots very hot under the collar. I’d like to undersatnd more of what was going on in England (and the continent as well). But that will have to wait!


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