Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How right do you have to be?

Justin Taylor asks "How Much Doctrine Can One Distort or Deny and Still Be Saved?"
This is a terrible first question to ask.

But it is not an illegitimate question to answer if we care about sound doctrine and the salvation of souls.

The great Puritan theologian John Owen (1616-1683) wrote:
Men may be really saved by that grace which doctrinally they do deny; and they may be justified by the imputation of that righteousness which in opinion they deny to be imputed. (The Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone in Owen’s Works 5:163-64)
Owen’s position seems dangerous. After all, Scripture makes a strong connection between sound doctrine and assurance. And couldn’t Owen’s position encourage doctrinal laxity?

Yes.

But not necessarily. ....

[Michael] Horton offers his own conclusion:
Paul reminds all of us with Timothy that only the Lord knows his elect. Pastors and elders in council may approve valid professions of faith and guard the ministry of preaching, sacrament, and discipline, but only the Great Shepherd can separate the sheep from the goats on the last day. Until then, our calling is to entrust ourselves to faithful shepherds and to long earnestly and prayerfully for the repentance of those who have strayed from Christ’s Word.
For more on this, see Horton’s posts “How Much Do I Need to Know?” “How Far Is Too Far?” He is especially helpful in identifying two common errors: (1) assuming that we only need to know the bare minimum that is necessary for salvation; (2) assuming that we need to know everything correctly in order to be saved.  [more]
How Much Doctrine Can One Distort or Deny and Still Be Saved? – Justin Taylor
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