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Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man

From Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, page 746:

Legal standingInternal condition
Once for all timeContinuous throughout life
Entirely God's workWe cooperate
Perfect in this lifeNot perfect in this life
The same in all ChristiansGreater in some than in others

Reformed theologians consistently teach what the Bible says. This is their primary virtue. But that doesn't mean they like everything the Bible says. They would much rather the Bible said sanctification was the work of God alone. (This is exposed in the lack of interest among Reformed theologians in the practical level - doing - of the faith.) That is much more in line with their desire for no effort and their fear of effort in general (which is really just a lack of boldness in claiming what God does for His own and gives to his own such as ability to act from God's will once regenerate). I could quote similar things from just about any major systematic theology written by Reformed theologians, but I've found that it doesn't matter. When a Calvinist has been fed the no-effort bad doctrine they become petulant about it and nothing can turn them including direct teaching from every Reformed theologian and Reformed confession they themselves admire and hold to. So be it...

Update: More from Grudem's Systematic Theology, page 754, under 'Our Role in Sanctification': "The role that we play in sanctification is both a passive one in which we depend on God to sanctify us, and an active one in which we strive to obey God and take steps that will increase our sanctification."

He then goes on to describe the passive role and describing how we are reliant on the work of the Holy Spirit to grow in sanctification which most all are familiar with (this section of the book is too much to type out). Then he writes:

"Unfortunately today, this 'passive' role in sanctification . . . is sometimes so strongly emphasized that it is the only thing people are told about the path of sanctification. . . . But this is a tragic distortion of the doctrine of sanctification, for it only speaks of one half of the part we must play, and, by itself, will lead Christians to become lazy and to neglect the active role that Scripture commands them to play in their own sanctification."

He then goes on to site from Scripture all the places and all the ways Scripture commands and teaches one to make efforts in one's sanctification.

Update II: Where Grudem, like all systematic theologians, falls short is in the number of categories, or ways, he lists that the Bible gives for ways we are to make efforts in our sanctification. For what Grudem lists he is correct. Bible reading and meditation, prayer, etc. He gives the foundational basics most all know (even if they don't actually do them), but he does leave out major efforts such as, for instance, watchfulness. Things I've listed in posts on this blog and can be found linked in the right hand margin. But the Bible - the New Testament - provides a complete teaching at the practical level that theologians don't even scratch the surface of, due to this distortion of the doctrine of sanctification in emphasizing only the passive part and neglecting the active part... The teaching is there; it exists; and the Holy Spirit can guide one into seeing it and engaging it. One must fear only God, though. The fear of man is really what keeps a veil between a Christian and the practical level teaching of the Bible. Fear only God, it is the beginning of wisdom.


Blogger c.t. said...

So be it, but I'll keep hammering them on it...

It's called defending the faith.

November 17, 2005 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger L P Cruz said...


I should not be talking anymore, but you asked my view of Packer's quote back there in the other blog about the White Horse Inn guys. I am not entirely sure how you should take his "in one sense synergistic". It should never be like that. At anyrate it is a comfort he says it is God-dependent effort. That view is I think is Puritan because in the reformed confessions it is not stated like that.

I am not trying to teach you anything but for what is worth here is my take...

Please look at Heidelberg Catechism q.86, and Belgic Confession Aricle 24. Notice there that they place the accent on justifying faith. That is the mark of a regenerated man - he believes Christ did it all for him - he now lives for the one who died for him, this produces love for neighbor for their own sakes and for God's sakes too. The regenerated man gives because he has received the greatest gift - his sins being forgiven.

We should certainly distinguish justification from sanctification but we must not separate them in isolation. That is why it is curious that Jeff an RC, agrees a lot with your views.

CT the good news is - not that after being born again "you can do it". That is similar to Rome, for them after baptism you can do it. That is not good news.

Anytime you put yours works in the equation, we are told by the old timers... you will either be proud (because you think are doing it) or be in dispair (may be you have not done enough in your sanctification). Both o f these are the devil's thurf.

The goodnews is that Christ really loves sinners and paid for their sins, it is finished. Though it is finished, that HS in us, is always active in us convicting us of our need to be thankful to God thereby producing good works (or in your doctrine - holiness).

Regeneration is not the issue (for me), it is justification for from there everything flows as I think Luther is right - if one misunderstands this, all the rest is error.

If you want holiness to come out of God's people, do not stop with the Law, tack on the Gospel. It will show guilt answered by grace producing gratitude.

If this helped let me know, else, just drop it in the bin.

November 17, 2005 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

I. P., I think you need time to digest some of what you've read here (if you've read it).

I think you would benefit greatly by making a separate study of sanctification from a good systematic theology like Grudem. He is particularly good on this subject.

Frankly, I've debated many people on the internet and every now and then one comes across a person you just 'sense' is not even reading what you write (the initial statements or the responses). I frankly get a feeling you fall into this category. If not, then fine, I'm wrong, but you certainly respond in a manner that suggests you havn't read responses to you.

November 17, 2005 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger L P Cruz said...

I did re-read what I wrote and I have re-read J I Packer quote you gave and mauled over it.

For me though, I'd rather go to the confessions first. I am paleo-protestant in this respect. This is where White Horse guys differ with you and the rest similar to your position. The paleos see monergism all the way, during conversion God is active, after conversion God is still active. It is all of him none of us. The good works we do are products of the Spirit working within.

Now, perhaps the misunderstanding is the use of means- We pray, read the Bible, come to worship, fellowship we do these. But the accent of the old timers is to make the believer look without, as we do, the Spirit works within causing us to work out what is within.

I'd rather spend time with the confessions as they articulate the faith to be believed by the church. You either subscribe to them or not. There is no requirement to subscribe to Grudem's Systematic Theology. This is a Reformed Theologians interpretation of his reformed father's theology. The confessions are the articulation of scripture.

Have a look at the doctrine of the 3rd use of the Law and how the protestants differ on this.

November 17, 2005 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

I. P., you're playing dumb.

And appealing to confessions while waving off a systematic theology is going from man's word to man's word. The question is: what is biblical. Does the systematic theologian back up the doctrine he presents from the Bible or doesn't he?

You have to whistle past alot of Scripture to maintain that there is no effort in the process of sanctification.

I know you don't understand this subject (I mean, I.P. just entertain that possibility at least), and that it's difficult for you to see how effort can not be from self-will, or how effort can be different pre- and post-regeneration, etc. These are aspects of the faith that are apparently very difficult for the mainstream to see. So be it.

It's also currently difficult for you to see how justification differs from sanctification. Your playing a game of "see how holy I am" and God is going to spit you out of his mouth (for being lukewarm and vain in your 'holiness').

Just don't be so quick to make of the faith some kind of new age crystal you hang about your neck and allow it to do all for you while you go about your day. Scripture commands you to put to death the deeds of the body. It doesn't command the Holy Spirit to do it, but it commands the Christian to do it. The fact that the Spirit enables it doesn't mean you are to sit on your back side and do nothing. You're going to be a sleeping fool for the rest of your life if you maintain this asinine, unbiblical belief.

And the confessions damn well don't tell you to do nothing. They talk about being 'quickened and strengthened to the PRACTICE of true holiness' (WCF, XIII, 1.)

November 17, 2005 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

JEFF WROTE (in a thread below):

Mr. Cruz:

I don't think Caroline and I agree on this doctrine. All I've done is try to make sure that I understand what the disagreement is about, that's all. Who am I to say what the correct Protestant doctrine is?

I do think she's done a clearer job of explaining herself than you have, though.

It's interesting that it's pretty easy to be clear on the subject by just going to very mainstream systematic theologians like a Wayne Grudem or J. I. Packer (and I could have quoted a dozen others), yet you run into these brick walls with many if not most if not all Reformed - or Calvinists - who just refuse to entertain any notion that effort is involved in any aspect of the Faith.

It's NOT involved in justification; it IS involved in sanctification. (Then they want to somehow say justification and sanctification can't be separated, which, ironically, if for different reasons, is what Roman Catholics say.)

This may be a complicated point, but: what they are doing is seeing, partially, the necessary reorientation in one's inner being that has to take place (from being man-centered to being God-centered, and from acting from God's will rather than from self-will, though they don't articulate it in that language, they don't even HAVE that language to be able to articulate it in), yet they miss all the benefit from that reorientation by not . . . let me put it this way: God gives them wings, and they refuse to use them to fly. You've got to try out the wings at some point. You're no longer a wingless creature once regenerated.

Another metaphor is the sailing vessel and the shore and the open sea. You now have a sailing vessel, but all you do is hug the shore because you think it is somehow 'boasting' to think you can go out on the open sea. The open sea is also scary to them because it separates you from the land. From the world. Plus, they aren't 'really' confident they can navigate the open seas. They're not 'really' certain they have the Spirit of Navigation within them...

That's all OK (I say to them) just don't warp biblical doctrine to justify your fear...

November 18, 2005 at 7:18 AM  

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