Thomas Tyson's Opening Statement for the Defense
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Trial of John O. Kinnaird
11-23-02, Second Day, First Session
Opening Statement for the Defense
Bethany Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Winward: Mr. Tyson, your opening statement.
TT: Mr. Moderator, about what time would we be breaking?
TT: We ask for a five minute break now.
Winward: Sure. Ten minutes.
Winward: Mr. Tyson
TT: I need a larger desk here.
Mr. Moderator and members of the panel, we do not have a
prepared opening statement at
this point. The opening statement that we gave you earlier was prepared because we believed
that was the chief and overriding issue facing the court. Namely, do the specifications, even if
true, support the charge as written. And we are at a decided disadvantage now because we have
to proceed with what we believe is a defective charge. And so it is going to be very difficult for
us to defend Mr. Kinnaird against the charge and its alleged specifications. The charge does not
say what about the doctrine of justification by faith and works that Mr. Kinnaird teaches is
contrary to the Word of God. Let me repeat that. The charge does not state what about the
doctrine of justification by faith and works as taught by Elder Kinnaird is contrary to the
Confession of Faith and the Word of God and the Westminster Standards. And consequently, we
don’t know what’s wrong with Mr. Kinnaird’s views from the charge. The charge says there’s
something rotten in Denmark. There’s something crook about Mr. Kinnaird’s teaching in this
area. And we will gather and select, collect and identify statements, paragraphs, sentences, from
his writings and his sermon that will show you error. That’s a very interesting approach, but
that’s not the approach that the Book of Discipline mandates. The Book of Discipline does not
say - say in the charge that erroneous teaching contrary to the Word of God is bad. Erroneous
teaching contrary to the subordinate Standards is bad. We know that. But we need to be told
what exactly is wrong.
This brings us back to our argumentation earlier why we
felt that the charge needed to be
amended. And it will not down. That charge is going to continue to haunt us throughout the
remainder of this trial because the prosecution is going to say time and again that Mr. Kinnaird’s
views as expressed in the specifications support the charge that he has a bad view of the doctrine
of justification by faith and works. I trust that no one in this room will suggest, let alone seek to
defend, that any and all understandings of a doctrine of justification by faith and works is
contrary to the Word of God and the Confession of Faith and Catechisms. I trust that.
So we’re not sure. We’re going to have to go
forward with the assumption or the guesswork that
something like the proposed new charges that we gave in our opening statement is really what’s
before us. Something like this, that the prosecution is seeking to demonstrate that Mr. Kinnaird
teaches a doctrine of justification by faith and works that has works either as an instrument of
justification or worse, as a ground for that justification. Or to put it another way, that Mr.
Kinnaird teaches that in justification when the sinner is brought from a state of condemnation
into a state of being acquitted and right before God, he is brought thus by a combination of faith
and works. Pick one. You can take either one of those charges which are not before us, but
which we, on the defense are going to assume is what’s before us because we have to have
something that we can defend. Pick one of those, either one, we will show by testimony from
competent theologians that Mr. Kinnaird’s statements and preaching and writings in no way, or
in no shape, or in no form, so teach.
The charge, if I could summarize, simply does not state
what it is about John Kinnaird’s doctrine
of justification by faith and works that is contrary to the Scriptures and the subordinate
We will show through testimony drawing your attention to
the very specified words and
teachings and preachings of Mr. Kinnaird that his doctrine, his teaching, his preaching, his
statements are in accord with the subordinate Standards, as well as the Scripture. Both are
needed. We stipulate that. In a sense, you have to show, as a prosecution, that his views are out
of accord with the subordinate Standards because it is those subordinate Standards that Mr.
Kinnaird has said that he hears the Scripture teaching. But it won’t due for us to just say, he’s
O.K. with the subordinate Standards, but you have to demonstrate - or we are willing to
demonstrate - that those subordinate Standards are themselves in accord with Scripture. So
Scripture is our final authority. But you just can’t say, Mr. Kinnaird is out of accord with
Scripture and then proceed to exegete the Scripture and say that’s not Mr. Kinnaird’s exegesis.
You have to show that where we have agreed together as to what the Scripture teaches about
justification and the relation of faith to justification and the relation of good works to our
salvation, to sanctification and to glorification. You have to show that his views are out of
accord with the Confession because it is in the Confession and the Catechisms that we tell the
world this is what we hear the Bible teaching.
We are also stipulating, and we thank the accusers for their
well formulated and godly reminder
that it is the peace ... the purity, the peace, and the unity of the church - all three that are at sake
here. Mr. Kinnaird is more concerned than that he win this case, that his own heart be purified,
his own mind be corrected, if it needs any correction, and more so, that the glory of Jesus Christ
will be enhanced and the blessedness of Bethany Church and the whole Orthodox Presbyterian
Church will be increased and promoted through this process.
The matter is extremely important. When Mr. Kinnaird
asked me if I would stand for him in this
trial and serve as defense counsel, I, of course, did not want to do that. Who would? But I was
willing to do it primarily because this is a case about something that matters. I don’t know what I
would do if someone asked me to defend him on a charge that he holds the wrong view about
why Cain’s sacrifice was unaccepted by God, or whether alcoholic wine should always be used in
communion, or something like that. I think I would probably say no. But I said yes now, not
only because he deserves to be treated justly - and we assume he will be and I’m not suggesting
that he won’t be - but part of my job is to be a watch-dog. But also because it matters. The very
Gospel is at sake here. What we believe our standing before God and our eternal salvation is
what we are talking about. That’s worth some sweat and some sleepless nights.
The defense will contend, with the Reformers or their followers, that the works that Paul
condemns are not the works that James commends. And the works that James commends are not
the works that Paul condemns. And so we don’t agree with Luther that James is an epistle of
straw. We believe that Paul and James are friends. We believe also that the Gospel is the
mystery of Christ. How could it be that on the one hand Yahweh Tsidkenu - 'The Lord is our
righteousness’ - and He is. And we find out in Romans how that passage in Jeremiah is fulfilled
by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ who is God. How can it be that that is so and at the
same time, the goal of salvation is that we not only be blameworthy, but that we also be holy in
Christ? Pick one it would seem. Scripture ... Either we are saved by Christ alone and so then it
doesn’t really matter whether that ever shows in this life or in the life to come. So that some can
even write such a strange remark as that we remain eternally both sinner and justified sinner.
That’s beyond us. How can it be that that is the case and at the same time the goal of salvation is
the glory of God through Christ becoming the firstborn of many brethren? How can it be that
John would write, "He that is born of God does not sin?" The only way that you can put those
two together logically is by changing the meaning of one or the other. And you can go with
Rome and say: well, we’re not really justified by the work of Christ alone imputed to us and
through his active ... his passive obedience on the Cross. He gets us half-way there and we get us
the rest of the way through our good works. You can do that and then you don’t have any trouble
anymore. James and Paul come into nice conformity according to them. Or you can the other
route and you can diminish sanctification and glorification. You can diminish the goal of the
glory of God as He sees sinners, not only forgiven and justified, but also cleansed so that
Revelation 1:3-5 is true that glory is to be given to God who has freed us from our sins by His
blood. There’s justification. And made us to be priests unto our God. There we have people
who are changed - a priesthood, a holy people. There’s tension there, brothers and sisters. We
never be able to answer fully all questions of how these two things can be together - kind of like
the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man - but they are both true.
And Mr. Kinnaird’s remarks and statements are taken
... we’re going to try to show in a way that
he does not intend them to be taken, nor in a way that they should be taken. Mr. Kinnaird is very
careful in his writing. Perhaps he has not been perfect, and in fact, I can guarantee that he hasn’t
been and you can probably find a place where he slipped and said something that he would want
to change. But when he’s talking about that acquittal on the Day of Judgment, when he is
reflecting those passages of Scripture such as: I Thessalonians 1:3, II Thessalonians 1:3,
Ephesians 2:8-10, Galatians 5:6, James 2:17, 18, Titus 3:4-8; and many other passages from the
Old Testament: Psalms 62:12, Proverbs 24:12, Ecclesiastes 12:14; Isaiah 3:10, Jeremiah 17:10;
not to mention the words of our Lord Jesus when he says that in that day they will say, when did
we do those things? Jesus will say, depart from me you who work iniquity. And those whom He
registers as being His own and says, come and enjoy the blessedness that is promised you. They
will say, when did we do anything? On that Day of Judgment, not one of us will be able to say,
"Lord, I found one or two good works which I want you to have a note of... note please." We will
all disagree with the Judge and say we did not do anything. And He will shush us and He will
say, according to the words of Jesus, "In as much as you did it, you did it unto me."
Those passages together with many others, including those in Revelation and the rest of the
epistles, that talk about the Judgment Day, an acquittal on that Day, always say, that that
acquittal, that that verdict will be "according to" works. Never on the basis of, never grounded
by, or never even received by those works. Just that - as Madame Prego says about her spaghetti
sauce - it’s in there! They’re there. They’re simply there. God, who could have said to us in His
Word, on that great Day, 'I’m going to observe your faith.’ And we would have said, 'Thank
you, God.’ But He doesn’t. He says I’m going to weigh and acknowledge and identify and look
at and see the fruit of your faith. And I’m going to make a verdict. And that verdict is not going
to be: these ones of you get higher rooms in Heaven because you did more good works than these
others ones of you who did less good works. He’s going to say - all of you who show what John
was talking about, what James was talking about, and what Paul was talking about when he said,
ANot of works lest any man should boast - for we are His workmanship created unto Christ Jesus
... created in Christ Jesus unto to good works which God has before ordained that you should
walk in them. God is going to say, 'All of you - you’re mine!’ I’m not going to look at your
baptism, important as that badge might be. I’m not going to look at your faith, indispensable as
that will be and you will all have it, except I guess, elect infants who died in infancy. But God’s
going to say, I see what I have done in your lives and the glory of his grace in a full salvation
which began in election, continued in calling, progressed in justification, and was finalized in a
sanctification that was perfected in glorification, will be only to the praise of His glorious grace.
This is what that man believes! And if he doesn’t, he’ll have an opportunity to correct me.
And it is the responsibility of the accusers to believe
him when he tells you in many places that
this is what he believes. That he does not believe that justification is contingent, that it has to
await the Judgment Day. That by faith we are maybe justified, but we’ll see. He does not
believe that. He’s just a man who’s trying to read his Bible and let what God says, stand - logic,
tension, mystery, not withstanding. And we’re going to show as we go through the
specifications, passage by passage, that Mr. Kinnaird says no such things as are alleged in both of
the papers that have been presented, which contain much that is true, most that is true, and which
Mr. Kinnaird believes.
But let me look at just a couple of those remarks, in the
paper that was most just recently
mentioned, I don’t know how far I’ll get on this, but I’ll just start at the beginning. In the first
paragraph, it’s the paper entitled, "Doctrinal Statement by Arthur Kuschke," I’m sorry if that was
wrong for me to refer to his name. I’m just identifying the paper. We read,
"Elder Kinnaird teaches a doctrine of justification
by faith and works. He does not use
the phrase, 'justification by faith and works.' He says that believers are justified by faith
at their conversion. He also says that it is those who obey the law who will be declared
righteous at the Day of Judgment."
Oh? He wasn’t the first to say that. A fellow named
Paul of Tarsus beat him to it. And Romans
2:13 may not be understood - in Mr. Kinnaird’s opinion and in the opinion of many responsible
Reformed theologians - may not be understood and dismissed as describing in the whole context
a theoretical impossibility. Theoretically, if anybody could keep the law of God perfectly, they
would be justified by that keeping of the law, but since there are none, why do we even bother to
tell you that? Unless it be to just answer some Jews who thought that just having the law was
good enough. We agree. Doing the law is necessary if you’re going to try to be saved by the
law. But that simply is not all, or only, or at all, what the words that are quoted mean when we
read in Romans 2:13, "it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." It’s telling
us that sanctified Christians - Christians who possess good works - will be on the Day of
Judgment, which is the contextual identification or venue of these verses. If you’ll look at verse
sixteen which says, "on that day" when Jesus Christ will judge. What day could that be other
than the great Day of Judgment? It’s surely not the day of a person’s conversion. It’s the Day of
Final Judgment and on that day, those who obey the law will be declared righteous, "according to
what they have done in the body," as another passage puts it.
[End of Tape 2, side one]
[Start of Tape 2, side two]
.... righteousness, and impute that to them - only then
at the last day, to say, well, actually, that
wasn’t quite good enough. And I’m sure glad that some of you folks have done some good
works. So I guess I have to let you in Heaven. Come on, now! What this passage is saying is
there is a class of law-keepers. And there is a class of people who will be acquitted on that Day
of Judgment. And there are going to be people who belong to both classes.
If you ask the question, can they have kept that law perfectly?
Did they make it in this life?
Well, the Bible has something to say about that and what the Bible says is to that, no. But they’re
started. There is a seed of righteousness, a seed of obedience that is in them, that is why John
writes, "He that is born of God does not sin." He does not mean, does not sin a lot, as some
versions incorrectly translate it. He means that God starts something in those whom he
regenerates that will not down and it will persist. And that’s why Paul says, I don’t want to sin -
that’s because of that seed, but I do. And God says, hang in there. I’m going to get you there.
Not before your death, or not before the coming of Christ, but I’m going to get you there.
And when He gets us there on that Day of Judgment, He’s
going to say, I see the seed and I see
the beginnings. Yes, they’re imperfect. They’re like the little girl who writes, who makes a
picture of her dad. She says, "Dad, I drew a picture for you." And it looks for all the world like a
sweet potato with toothpicks sticking out of it. But Dad says, "Sweetheart, that’s beautiful and I
accept it. It’s good. You’ve worked well. And I thank you for the most beautiful picture I’ve
ever seen." That’s what God is going to do on that Day of Judgment! And that’s what this man
is concerned to protect. God’s way.
How much time do we have left, Mr. ...?
Winward: Twenty minutes, if you ...
TT: Twenty minutes. How much time would you like to have, John? How much time? We
JK: I would prefer to be put on the witness stand.
TT: O.K. I’ll just continue then. Thank you. I apologize if that was out of order for me to
Third paragraph. [Mr. Kuschke’s paper.]
" Elder Kinnaird has suggested two reasons why the
imputed righteousness of Christ
cannot suffice. The first is that sanctification is also given us and that obedience wrought
by sanctification does provide the real and personal righteousness and holiness required.
We reply that even our best sanctification and obedience in this life cannot suffice for that
purpose as we will show later."
We agree. That only the imputed righteousness of Christ
alone and only and all together can
suffice for that righteousness we need by which we are justified. Period. Full stop.
But at the same time, when John talks about the believer
not sinning, he’s not talking about
Christ’s imputed righteousness. He’s talking about the sinner. He’s talking about the believer.
And when the New Testament speaks about us being conformed to the image of Christ, it’s not
talking about us being conformed by virtue of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. He’s
talking about our real and personal conformity as the Confession states - chapter 13, paragraph
one -we are sanctified "really and personally."
Sanctification is not a further imputation of the righteousness
of Christ. Sanctification is the
outworking of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ in the life, in the real and personal
life of the believer. That’s to take nothing away from Christ’s righteousness, but it is to say, that
God gets what brings Him glory. Not sinners dragged kicking and screaming and still sinning
presumably into Heaven. But sinners whom He has brought there solely because they are united
to Christ by grace through faith alone. But sinners who He said, Guess what? I’m going to start
My stuff in their life here on this side of the grave and I’m going to complete it in glory.
Second page. The paper says:
"Justification at conversion is complete justification,
not limited justification, not partial
Mr. Kinnaird believes that and agrees with that.
Page three. At the top.
"So sanctification imperfect in this life cannot be
relied upon to provide a real and
personal righteousness which is in full conformity to the image of Christ."
Agreed! But sanctification is not a process that starts
in this life and stops in this life.
Sanctification is a process by which God starts with His saved sinner, His elected, called,
justified, sinner - who is now a saint - and He begins to make him like the Son of God, Jesus
Christ. And it begins more and more to destroy the works of the flesh and disobedience and
more and more to incorporate obedience to that law and that process will be completed in
glorification. What a jump that will be! Think of it, brothers and sisters, we won’t sin anymore
in Heaven. And it is us who will not sin anymore in Heaven. And it won’t just be we’ll be in
Heaven because Jesus didn’t sin. We are there because Jesus didn’t sin, but when we get there,
God will complete His sanctifying process in glorification. And glorification does not simply
mean we get new bodies. Glorification means we get new life. We get new bodies and new
spirits that are made perfect in holiness. That’s what this man believes! And that’s what - if you
think he doesn’t believe it - you have to demonstrate.
In the middle of that page we read,
"The Apostle John plainly says that true believers
do sin. If we say that we have no sin,
we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we say we have no sin we make Christ
a liar. If we sin we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
This is true. But if you’ll notice in that very passage,
sin is described as breaking the law. Keep
that in mind.
"It appears that Elder Kinnaird does not take into
account the completeness of
Page four. Calvin was not perfect either. And when he writes in his Institutes,
" imagine that righteousness is composed of faith and works ..."1
I hope he is talking about somebody who erroneously says
that and if he isn’t, he’s wrong.
Because righteousness is not composed either of faith or works. Righteousness is by faith. It is
composed of the grace of God, based on the righteousness of Christ and His passive obedience
and received by faith alone without any contribution on our part. That is what this man believes.
Now we get to Romans 2:13 and that is a thorny passage and
there is not agreement among all
commentaries. I’ve checked them all - Cranfield, Murray, Hodge, Ridderbos. The one says the
one thing and the one says the other and there are some theologians that say, there’s nothing here
that’s actual, it’s all theoretical. It’s all theoretical impossibility. It doesn’t describe anything
that really ever happens anywhere in the world or nor will it. And there are others that say, now
wait a minute, look at the words. On the Day of Judgment the doers of the law will be justified.
What does that mean? Well, that’s a hermeneutical question. It’s a question of exegesis. But if
Mr. Kinnaird happens to in his sermon to have quoted that verse, don’t complain that he’s
viewpoint is heretical. He’s just bringing you the Bible.
On the last page,
"It appears to be a flaw in Elder Kinnaird’s teaching
that he fails to relate the great
central doctrines of the Biblical system in the same way than our Scriptures and Standards
That’s begging the question. That’s exactly
the point that needs to be proven. If Mr. Kinnaird
arranges things differently than you do, you have to show that his arrangement is not the
arrangement of the Confession. Not just that he understands the system slightly differently than
"To sum up, Elder Kinnaird has redefined justification by faith."
"He has tried to combine both faith and the works of the law for justification."
Prove it! We stipulate and agree that anyone who
" redefines justification to limit its fullness, completeness,
and efficacious character, so
that after justification we do not have yet enough righteousness, or even the right kind of
righteousness that is required at the judgment."
Such a person would be a heretic. I would be a
heretic, if I believed that. But I don’t and Mr.
Kinnaird does not teach it.
Sanctification is the beginning of conformity to Christ
that is climaxed in glorification. In
between that sanctification of our life here on earth and its final perfection in glory - in between
is the Day of Judgment. And God says, 'In that Day, I will have a look at what I’ve done thus far
and according to how I find My work, My fingerprints, My handiwork, in these ones in
accordance with that finding, I will say to them, You’re mine. Come and be with Me forever.
And guess what? In the instant that you come to be with Me, you will never sin at all - again - or
ever.’ And we will say, "O Lord, you are too much. Please look at Christ. Don’t look at us. We
only trust Him. We don’t trust our works." And He will say, "I know."
Winward: Thank you, Mr. Tyson. Having heard
both opening statements, we are at the point in
these proceedings where the accusers will make a presentation on the first specification.
AW: Just a point ... a question?
Winward: Mr. Wilkening.
AW: Is it the intent of the court to break in the middle of the specification for lunch, given the
time we are at now? Is it better we do that, or is it better we arrange a lunch break either earlier
or later? Just a question I have for the procedure, for the orderly process of the court.
Winward: Right. It had occurred to me as
well. It is ten of twelve. This is a natural breaking
point and I indicated at the very beginning that I wasn’t going to stick hard and fast to the twelvethirty.
Is there some agreement to break for lunch now so that we can ... so that the continuity of
the proceedings to come...O.K. Let’s do that now. Let’s be back here at ten of one. One hour.
Do we need an hour? Forty-five? Forty-five minutes. All right. Do I hear fifty? (Laughter.)
All right. Forty-five minutes that would bring us back here at 12:35. Twelve-thirty five. We’ll
recess until then.
1 Kuschke, Arthur. Doctrinal Statement. "A great part of men,"
says Calvin, "imagine that righteousness is
composed of faith and works." (Institutes III, 11, 13), p. 4.