Kinnaird Paper Number 1
|Download the PDF version of this document. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat installed on your system please click here on Adobe Acrobat Reader to download.|
Kinnaird Appeal Rehearing
The Issues in the Case
The guilty verdict has been appealed to Presbytery on the basis of one aforesaid specification of error, in which there are two issues, namely:
The Interim Session of Bethany OPC erred in
(a) failing to dismiss the charge, despite the fact that the specifications presented in support of the charge do not support the charge of teaching a doctrine of justification by faith and works, and do not, in and of themselves, constitute an offense in any doctrine, and
(b) finding him guilty of teaching serious doctrinal error, despite the fact that the teaching judged to be erroneous is not contrary to the Church’s standards.
I. Do the Specifications Support the Charge
Do the any of the six statements cited as being the three specifications support the charge? We will demonstrate that the six statements, set forth as the three specifications
in support of the charge, do not support the charge.
The charge is that Elder Kinnaird “teaches a doctrine of justification by faith and works.” This charge was entered with six specifications thought to support the charge. We turn first to the question, “Do the Specifications support the charge?” and answer decidedly in the negative. (The specifications are six statements quoted from three documents; the six statements are underlined in the following presentations. We have quoted extensively from the three documents from which the six specifications are taken. This will enable the reader to understand the statements in context. Should anyone wish a copy of the complete set of three underlying documents, they will be provided. Request them from [email and phone number removed]
A.) The first statement in Specification One
GOD’S PURPOSE AND PLAN (from Elder Kinnaird’s Theological Statements. This section on God’s Purpose and Plan followed sections on God the Father’s Covenant with His Son, The Fall of Mankind, and God’s Answer to Mankind’s Problems, and should be read and understood in that context. The underlined portion is the first statement in the first specification:
GOD’S PURPOSE AND PLAN
“God had a purpose and a plan for all of creation and history, including the fall of Adam, before he brought any of it to pass. Insight into this purpose and plan is received from Scripture, one notable place being Romans 8:29-30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” It is to be noted from this text that God’s stated purpose here is to establish His Son as “the firstborn among many brethren.” To that end he had to create people who would “be conformed to the image of his Son.” It is not possible that any could be a brother to Jesus Christ and enjoy with Christ, in the Kingdom of Heaven, the presence of God the Father except that one be fully conformed to the image of Christ in true and personal righteousness and holiness. Neither the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, which all Christians receive at justification, nor the infusion of the righteousness of Christ (a false and non-existent concept taught by the Roman Catholic Church)--can suffice for that purpose. Christ does not have an imputed righteousness; His righteousness is real and personal. If we are to be conformed to his image, we too must have a real and personal righteousness. Furthermore, it is to be noted that this passage does not say that we are predestinated to Heaven. It says we are predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. Heaven is consequent to that which follows upon the predestination. It is to be noticed in this passage that there is an unbreakable chain of events starting with God having a love beforehand for certain people (“whom He did foreknow”). Each and every one, with no exception, who was foreknown, was then predestined, called, justified, and glorified. Not one of those who were foreknown failed to be glorified. This glorification of which Paul speaks is the final step in the process of conforming them to the image of Christ. “Those glorified are conformed in righteousness and holiness (the word I use is conformed, not confirmed). They cannot die because they are brothers to Christ, inheriting the Kingdom with Christ. They are crowned with Glory (I Peter 5:4), Righteousness (II Timothy 4:8), and Immortality (James 1:12). This Glory, this Righteousness, this Immortality, will not fade away (I Peter 5:4), and they are incorruptible (I Corinthians 9:25). They will last forever. Those who share in the glory will be righteous and immortal; these three are inseparable because he who has one will have the others; it is not possible to have one without the others.”
In this statement Elder Kinnaird is speaking of God’s plan as set forth in Romans 8:28-30 and he points out that God’s plan is that we might be fully conformed to the image of his son. To accomplish this goal, God foreknows, predestinates to conformance to the image of Christ, calls, justifies, and glorifies each of his own. In the underlined portion, He is not addressing the question of how one becomes justified. He is addressing the need to be conformed to the image of Christ, what it means to be conformed to the image of Christ, and to a limited extent, the question of how one becomes conformed. As is more fully developed elsewhere in the Theological Statements, this conformance in a real and personal righteousness, comes through regeneration, sanctification, and glorification.
There are two misconceptions concerning what is being said here. First, it is not being said that the righteousness of Christ can not suffice for the purpose; rather it is said that the imputation of that righteousness can not suffice for the purpose. Secondly, some are making a double mistake of reading the sentence as saying that the righteousness of Christ is insufficient for the purpose. However, not only does the word [not] suffice not refer to the righteousness of Christ, it does not speak to the question of quality. As used in Elder Kinnaird’s statement the word suffice refers to function. Among the many definitions of the word suffice found in Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary are these: to answer the purpose or requirements of and to meet the needs of. What is needed by the sinner in order that he might be conformed to the image of Christ is a restoration of his nature so that he is no longer by nature a sinner. The purpose of regeneration-sanctification-glorification is to change that nature and conform the former sinner into person suitable to be a brother of Christ having a real and personal righteousness (as opposed to an alien imputed righteousness). Regeneration-sanctification-glorification answers that purpose and meets that need; imputation does not. It requires an infusion of grace; not an imputation. However, the righteous active and passive obedience of Christ remains the sole meritorious ground of the sinner’s regeneration-sanctification-glorification.
It was not Elder Kinnaird’s purpose in the section on God’s Purpose and Plan to discuss how one becomes justified. That comes in a section in his Theological Statements that is set aside for that purpose. In the matter at hand, he makes the same distinctions as does LC Q&A 77:
Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?
A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection. I Cor. 6:11; Rom.4:6-8; Ezek. 36:27; Heb. 9:13-14; Rom. 3:24-25; Rom. 6:6,14
In his Theological Statements there is a section titled Justification in which Elder Kinnaird sets forth his teaching on that subject. He wrote:
“All those whom God calls he freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them but by imputing the righteousness of Christ to their account by virtue of the merit of the life and death of Christ. Neither faith, nor the act of believing, nor any other evangelical obedience, is credited to them, only the righteous active and passive obedience of Christ. The Christian receives and rests upon Him and His righteousness alone, by faith alone, which is a gift alone of God and nothing of man. Faith is the alone instrument of justification. Yet, faith is never alone in the person justified but is always and ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but always works by love.”
The first statement of Specification One does not support the charge.
B. The second statement of Specification One through the second statement of Specification Three (with each statement quoted in context and underlined)
1. The following is taken from the Theological Statements (the section on the Final Judgement) and contains the second statement in the first specification.
THE FINAL JUDGEMENT
“God has appointed a day when he will judge the world in righteousness. All persons who have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ to give account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or bad. On That Great Day, the Day of Judgement, God’s righteous judgement will be revealed. God will then give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good (we Presbyterians call this perseverance) seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. For those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be eternal wrath and anger and destruction from before the face of the Lord. It is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous on that Day of Judgement. WCF XXXIII.I and II Romans 2:1-16
“Those who teach that the purpose of the Day of Judgement is not to reveal God’s righteousness in His judgements (judgements that will be unto eternal life or death in accord with what men have done on this earth), but rather only to determine types and degrees of rewards to be given to Christians, are in error.
“When Scripture says that the judgement will be “in accord with” what they have done, it is saying that the judgement will be consistent with what they have done. The Scriptures ascribe no merit to the works of a Christian, nor do I. The Scriptures do not lie when they declare that God’s righteous judgements will be revealed.”
2. The following is taken from the sermon, “Though the Waters Roar and the Mountains Quake,” and contains the two statements in the second specification.
“Who is inside the city? Verse 14 of Revelation 22 puts it very succinctly, ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.’ The question may be, what does ‘those who wash their robes’ mean? In chapter 7, verse 14 there is a similar phrase, ‘they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ However there is a difference. In chapter 7 the word is in the aorist tense while in chapter 22 it is in the present tense, suggesting a continual ongoing action. And from Revelation 19:7-8 we learn that the robes, which are variously described as ‘white’ or as ‘fine linen’ are the righteous deeds of the saints. ‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)’, is the way the NIV puts it. The King James puts it somewhat differently, ‘Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.’ And at our passage in chapter 22, verse 14, the King James Version catches the true idea with, ‘Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.’ Thus we rightly conclude that those inside the city are those who have kept the law of God and those only. So we have a pretty simple answer to our last two questions. Inside the city are those who do righteousness and outside are those who do evil.
“But perhaps, in your mind, there is still a little question here; namely, when? Is the Scripture talking about what they do in the future after the city of God arrives; after Christ returns? Or, are we talking about what they do in this life? Is being in the city coincident with or consequential to the doing of righteousness? Our passage in Revelation 22 answers this question quite clearly for us. Look at verses 10 and 11. When that day is at hand; when Christ returns; it will no longer be called ‘today’. At that point in time a great determination will be made; a judgement that will forever determine your destiny. ‘And he saith unto me, ‘Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’ Those who were acting sinfully prior to the return of Christ will remain sinful; those who were acting righteously and with holiness before the return of Christ will continue to do so. Romans 2:6-13 puts it this way, ‘God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.’ Now we know; the decision, the judgement, as to who enters the city and who stays outside (for eternity), will be made, on that Great Day of Judgement, in accordance with what you have done in this life. In fact our Scripture lesson says the same thing at verse 12, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” (Note: In the delivery of the sermon, Elder Kinnaird had meant to read all of the cited passage, but failed to read verses 9-13)
3. The following is taken from the e-mail postings to presbyterian-opc (the fifth posting in a series of five, dated 01/06/03) and contains the two statements in the third specification.
“Now as to Works and Judgement. The good works of a Christian are in fact good. That is not to say that they are not tainted with sin. It is to say they are the work of God's Holy Spirit in us and they are thereby good. They merit nothing. They are but our duty. We who rest in faith in Christ are the beneficiaries of His grace whereby He again supplies that which he requires for our salvation. We are God's workmanship, created to do the good works which He has before ordained that we should do. By these good works we glorify God, something the Old Testament Jews did not do. They claimed before the world to be God's people, but they disobeyed God just like those around them who had no part in the covenant. They brought dishonor to God's name. But God said, no more. I will cause my people to glorify my name by giving them the Holy Spirit in their hearts causing them to walk in righteousness obeying the law of God which I will write in their hearts. Read about it in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36. That's the new covenant of which Jesus Christ is the mediator in this day and age – as opposed to those who teach that these promises are for , or mostly for, a future messianic golden age. They are for us, now and here. Read of it in Hebrews 8 through 10, noting especially 8:6 through 8:13. God has provided not only justification from the guilt of sin, he has also, for all those begotten from above by the seed of God, provided that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14. These good works are a required condition if we would stand in the Day of Judgement and they are supplied by God to all His people. Every description of the Judgement events speak of these good works. Without them, no one will see God. Our God is not unjust. His judgements are always righteous and in accordance with the facts of the case. On the past two Lord's Days I shared over 25 texts and passages of Scripture with my Sunday School class on just these two concepts. They were about evenly divided between the concept that our God's judgements are always righteous and in accord with the facts of the case and the concept that the final judgement will be in accord with what we have done in this life.”
“Just to look at one Scriptural description of the Judgement Day events, turn to Romans 2:1-16. Paul begins the book of Romans speaking to a general audience of believers. Note 1:7. Then he changes his subject matter and begins to address a more specific audience, you, meaning the Jews, in 2:1. Note also 2:17. Verses 2:1 through 2:16 are bracketed by the salutation to the Jews in 2:1 and the declaration in 2:16 that everything in verses 1-16 is according to the Gospel that Paul preaches. In other words, the Day of Judgement and the events of That Day are good news; good news to those who are on That Day found to be in Christ Jesus. Not so good news for others. The Gospel declares that there will be a Day of Judgement and That Day, and it's events, will be as described in verses 1-16. The basic premise is that God is fair and judges impartially. vs. 5, 6, and 11. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. v.7. That's our good old point five - perseverance of the saints. But to those who are self-seeking He will give wrath and anger - that, my brother, is hell. v.8. This judgement to heaven or hell will be in accordance with what you have done in this life. v.6. Check out the WCF XXXIII.1 also where it declares that the judgement will be according to what they have done in the body. And that the judgement is unto life or death, heaven or hell, we see from WCF XXXIII.2 That's the Word of God; don't fight it. It's good news. There will be glory, honor, and peace on the Day of Judgement for everyone who does good. v.10. Who are these people who thus benefit; who stand on the Day of Judgement? They are those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. V.13. When God declares them righteous that is a forensic declaration of righteousness. In fact it is hard to find a significant translation of Scripture, other than the NIV, that doesn't here translate, shall be justified. This is a judicial scene, the Day of Judgement. It is an act of God sitting as Judge. It is justification - a forensic act of God whereby he declares a person righteous. God is able to make this declaration on That Day because it is a truth. Something has happened to change those who were once sinful. What is it? Our confession, which so many of my readers profess, says that we who are in Christ Jesus, are sanctified really and personally by the Spirit and Word of Christ to the practice, in this life, of true holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. WCF XIII.1. This paragraph of our confession, which we confess to be according to the system of doctrine taught in the Scripture, says this happens to all who are effectually called and regenerated by a process described here as having a new heart and a new spirit created in them. Those are the words and the promise of Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36.”
These 5 statements, from which 5 quotations (the underlined words) used in the Specifications were taken, all speak of the same thing: the Day of Judgement. They in no way speak of how one becomes constituted as justified. It is true, as our Confession and catechism teach, that God will on That Day declare his people righteous, or acquitted, or justified. But they will, every last one of them, have been constituted as forever justified on the day of their regeneration, calling, repentance, and faith--Day One of their Christian pilgrimage. Of all those who, on Day One, are justified, not a single person will fail to stand on that Great Final Day. The words in the cited specifications do not teach a doctrine of justification by faith and works. They are not even speaking of that subject.
The three specifications offered in support of the charge are true statements of the teaching of Scripture pertaining to God’s Plan for the Ages (that Christ might be the first born of many brothers, all of whom will be fully conformed to his image in righteousness and holiness) and of the Last Judgement (where God is shown to be both just and the justifier of the unjust). The events of the Last Judgement verify the success of the plan, and the righteousness and justice, of God.
The charge, on the other hand, has nothing to do either with declaring what is God’s Plan for the Ages, nor with events on the Day of Judgement. The charge has to do with how one becomes justified before God. Christians are justified by grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on that very first day of their new life. At that time the merits of the life and death of Jesus Christ are imputed to them. Then their journey through life begins. In that journey they are sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit (Christ in them, the hope of Glory) and at death they are glorified (crowned with the crown of life, the crown of righteousness, and the crown of glory--incorruptible and immortal). That journey culminates in and on the Day of Judgement. None of those good works, that are the product of the journey of sanctification, are the cause of the justification that came far back at the beginning of the journey--nor could they be. That which comes after can not be said to be the cause of that which comes first. Such would be nonsense. Nor did God justify them because of something foreseen in them.
To allege, as the accusers do, that, because Elder Kinnaird believes in and teaches the Biblical and Confessional doctrines of the plan of God, of regeneration and sanctification and glorification bringing us into conformance to the image of Christ, and of the Last Judgement, he therefore believes and teaches a doctrine of justification by faith and works is utter nonsense. What he teaches on these subjects is what every faithful teacher from Peter and Paul to Calvin and the Reformers and on to today have taught.
The charge says he teaches a doctrine of justification by faith and works. The operative word in the charge is the word “by”. It reaches to the concepts of “how, by means, because, on the grounds of…” His teaching on how one becomes justified is found in his theological paper under the section titled “Justification” and is quoted earlier in this paper
These five statements used in the specifications do not support the charge.
II. IS THERE DOCTRINAL ERROR IN ELDER KINNAIRD’S TEACHING?
Since the case involves solely a charge of heresy, promoting the cause of justice would best be served if the appellate judicatory, were to focus its attention upon a concern that was in dispute throughout the trial, namely: is the appellant guilty of “teaching a doctrine of justification by faith and works, contrary to the Word of God and the Westminster Standards”? Both the appellant and the prosecution have declared that justification, grounded in the perfect righteous active and passive obedience of Christ, and received by faith alone and not by works, results in people being both constituted and declared righteous in God’s sight. The real questions are: 1) Does regeneration + sanctification + glorification produce, as well, people that are personally righteous (possessors of personal holiness), and thus, their sins having been atoned for, people who are fit to enter heaven? And, 2) Does such teaching constitute teaching a doctrine of justification by faith and works?
Elder Kinnaird answers that first question with an unqualified “yes.” However, he does not teach a doctrine of justification by faith and works. Teaching that the work of the Holy Spirit whereby Christians are regenerated, sanctified, and glorified produces a real and personal righteousness in them (as our Confession teaches) and that this sanctification results in good (though not perfect) works in this life (as our Confession teaches) and that there will be a final judgement of all mankind, including all Christians, (as our Confession and Catechisms teach) and that this find judgement will be “in accord” with what they have done in this life (as our Confession and Catechisms teach) does not equate to teaching “a doctrine of justification by faith and works.”
A. What does Mr. Kinnaird teach about justification?
Elder Kinnaird does not teach a doctrine of justification by faith and works
He has clearly set forth his teaching on how one becomes justified before God
in two principal places available to the Session and the Presbytery.
1. The “Proposal for the Session”, submitted as evidence with the charge, includes the appellant’s “Theological Statements,” in which his views on justification are set forth and from which also Specification 1 was drawn. In this document one may discover his teaching on the subject of justification. He wrote:
“All those whom God calls he freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them but by imputing the righteousness of Christ to their account by virtue of the merit of the life and death of Christ. Neither faith, nor the act of believing, nor any other evangelical obedience, is credited to them, only the righteous active and passive obedience of Christ. The Christian receives and rests upon Him and His righteousness alone, by faith alone, which is a gift alone of God and nothing of man. Faith is the alone instrument of justification. Yet, faith is never alone in the person justified but is always and ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but always works by love. WCF XI.I and II James 2:8-26 Galatians 5:5-6”
2. An e-mail dated 01/06/02, which was submitted as evidence with the charge, being one of a series of five e-mails together forming one message, contained two statements used for specification two. In these e-mails (available from the author), the appellant writes:
“Now the justification spoken of in chapter XI [of the WCF] is a once in time event. Logically there are about four things that happen one after the other. Temporally, they pretty much happen at one time. These are calling, repentance, faith, and justification. In this justification, we who had been under condemnation, due to the three problems mentioned [Adam’s guilt and our consequent loss of communion with God, original corruption, and actual transgressions—WCF VI], are declared to be righteous AND our legal status before God is changed from condemned to justified. That new legal status can NEVER be reversed.” 12/18/01
“The principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace. WCF XIV. Note that the Christian rests on Christ for the answer to all three problems. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. WCF XI. Note again the resting on Christ and note that the Grace of Justification is ALWAYS accompanied by all other Saving Graces, most notably, the Grace of Sanctification.” 12/18/01
“The phrase ongoing justification, which I however hear others using, troubles me no little bit because it implies an ongoing process, whereas justification is a forensic act. You…and I…understand the profound difference between act and process. That the act of forensically declaring a man righteous could occur more than once is no problem. The thought of an ongoing process called justification is just plain false. And as I said, that justification by God consequent to effectual calling not only declares the man righteous, it constitutes him or moves him into the category of those justified. Since this can never be reversed or denied, he is forever there. I don't like to even say that that justification continues. Rather I would say that the status of justified continues.” 12/19/01
B. How does Mr. Kinnaird’s teaching on justification fit into his presentation of the whole counsel of God as to the Christian’s salvation?
Elder Kinnaird presents a systematic, well-balanced teaching that addresses,
as does the Bible and the Westminster Standards, all of our needs before God
As mentioned in the e-mail of 12/18/01, see point A.2 above, Scripture and our Creeds tell us that we, as natural man, have three basic problems before God. They are: (1) guilt—of Adam’s sin, our original corruption, and our actual trespasses; (2) loss of communion with God—sons of Adam and Satin, we have no legal right to the Kingdom of God nor access to communion with God; (3) total depravity—we are wholly defiled in all parts and faculties of soul and body. There are certain overlaps in these problems, but all boil down to one thing: short of the grace of God to solve all three problems, we will not see God. Now, our Creeds declare, agreeable with Scripture:
Of Christ the Mediator
“It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Savior of his church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom he did from all eternity give a people, to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified…The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him” (WCF VIII: 1, 5).
In saying this, the Confession is declaring not only reconciliation and redemption for God’s people, but also restoration to the Kingdom and communion with God. The people of God are not only justified, they are also sanctified and glorified.. Elder Kinnaird, with our Standards, believes and teaches all this. The Confession continues (X:1):
Of Effectual Calling
“All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.”
In these words we again hear redemption and restoration, what the appellant teaches. We call particular attention to the words, “taking away their heart of stone, and giving them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills.” This is a clear allusion to Ezekiel 36:26-28. Also clearly alluding to the change that occurs to the Christian as he progresses through the third state of man, that of the redeemed but not yet glorified man, as set forth in WCF IX.4, to the final state, the eternal state, described in WCF IX.5.
God redeems and restores His people with but one instrument, faith—a very specific faith placed in one objective reality alone. As WCF XIV states:
Of Saving Faith
“The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts…By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word… embracing the promises of God for this life, and [for] that which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.”
It is to be noted that all three of the aforementioned problems are addressed and solved by God, by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We observe that this passage, as well, promises both redemption and restoration, justification and sanctification, which the appellant teaches.
There are three chapters in the WCF that specifically address these three problems both redemptively and restoratively. They are in turn titled: Of Justification, Of Adoption, and Of Sanctification. Our Confession faithfully echoes Scripture, and the teaching of the appellant faithfully echoes both:
“Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love” (WCF XI:1,2).
The appellant teaches this. Herein he sees principally redemption and the solution to our problem of guilt. But he also sees the promise of all other saving graces and thus, the promise of the restoration of righteousness and the re-establishment of fellowship.
“All those that are justified, God vouchsafeth, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, receive the Spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry, Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him, as by a father: yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption; and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation” (WCF XII).
The appellant teaches that, in adoption, fellowship and communion and a legal right to the Kingdom of God are restored. He sees here also the promise of restoration to righteousness of soul and body, surely the promise to those who are heirs of salvation.
“They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (WCF XIII).
Here we read principally of restoration to righteousness. All will note, and the appellant teaches, that this restoration begins with regeneration and is continued in this life through the process of sanctification, in fulfillment of the promise of Ezekiel 36 (a new heart and a new spirit, the Word and Spirit dwelling in them) and, while it does not grow to perfection in this life, they are more and more quickened and strengthened in this life to the actual practice of true holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. In this life the saints enjoy this grace of sanctification, growing in that grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Our Confession says little or nothing about the final step of restoration, commonly referred to as glorification. But both of our Catechisms (LC Q&A 86 and SC Q&A 37) speak of the Christian being crowned at death with glory whereby our souls are made perfect in holiness. Our bodies must await the resurrection, at which time they will be raised in power and righteousness. Our souls, thus rejoined with our bodies, we shall reign in Heaven, crowned with righteousness, incorruptible, enjoying life in full communion, face to face with God alongside our brother Jesus Christ. The goal of our salvation, namely, that we might “be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers,” has been realized. The appellant teaches these things faithfully.
Sanctification leads to good works in this life:
Of Good Works
“Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word….These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers…glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of his good pleasure…They who, in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins, but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections” (WCF XVI).
This the appellant teaches.
Of the Last Judgement
“God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world, in righteousness, by Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father. In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil. The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of his justice, in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord…” (WCF XXXIII).
“At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds, shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men, and shall be received into heaven, where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery; filled with inconceivable joys, made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels, but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. And this is the perfect and full communion which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment” (LC Q&A 90).
The appellant, Elder John O. Kinnaird, teaches these things and makes no apology for it.
Why then is he on trial for heresy? Because those who brought the charge, together with those who helped in both the preparation and prosecution of the charge, appear to believe otherwise. For example, one writes, in a paper presented to the trial judicatory on day two of the trial, that there will be no Christians present at the last judgement. He writes, “Paul defines the two categories of people who will be present at the last judgement: those ‘who sin apart from the law’ and those ‘who sin under the law.’” The Scripture tells us that both of these groups are to be condemned on that Day (Romans 2:12). But, contrary to Mr. Kinnaird’s accuser, the Scripture also declares that there will be present on That Day, also, Christians who will be declared righteous (Romans 2:7, 10, 13, 14, and 15). Our Confessions and Catechisms teach in agreement with Romans 2:1-16, as does Elder Kinnaird. Another writer, in a letter dated 6/22/02 written to the session and forwarded to the Presbytery on July 8, under cover of a letter dated July 2, denies the efficacy of sanctification and declares that we remain sinners by nature (albeit justified sinners) throughout eternity future. He writes’ “The dominion of sin is not destroyed in sanctification….once a sinner always a sinner…simultaneously just and sinner throughout all eternity future.” Our Confession says, “They…are further sanctified…the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed…”(WCF XIII.1). Many places in our Confession and Catechisms declare that in the eternal state we shall possess a real and personal holiness and righteousness throughout our being, body and soul. We will no longer be sinners by nature. See WCF VIII.1, IX.5, X.1, XIII.1 and XXXII.1 and 3. Likewise, the Larger Catechism in Q&A Nos. 75, 77, 86, 87, and 90.) Still another teaches, in a sermon on 5/7/00, that the promises of Ezekiel 36 are only for a future golden millenium. And, finally, in a sermon on 4/11/99, we were told that the crown of righteousness, life and incorruptibility, is not for all Christians, but is rather a special reward to be earned (!) by only a certain few Christians. Thus, the appellant’s teaching, which is but the teaching of our Standards, is naturally offensive to such.
Why did the Session find Elder Kinnaird guilty? This is a question difficult to answer. Perhaps the 6th listed of the attachments to the Appeal to the Presbytery, being a letter filing procedural objections with the Trial Judicatory, together with Papers Nos. 2 and 3 distributed today, respectively Mr. Tyson’s response to and Mr. Kinnaird’s interreaction with the trial Judicatory’s paper “REASONS for verdict of 1/25/03”, will suggest the answer. One thing we note is a whole new theological view creeping into the church. It is this idea that Christians are not changed in their basic nature from sinful to righteous as a part of their deliverance from sin and damnation. Clearly this is the position of the author of the letter of 6/22/02 referred to above. It is also the position seemingly espoused by the five members of the trial judicatory in their REASONS report. They say it is only “as if” we became really and personally righteous. They say the “redemption applied” part of our salvation does nothing for us to qualify us for the Kingdom of Heaven. Others in the Presbytery have also voiced this view. Would it follow from this position that regeneration does nothing to make us alive and to give us a new heart, justification does nothing to make us forgiven, sanctification does nothing to make us righteous, glorification does nothing to crown us with righteousness and incorruptibility? Does not this view fly full in the face of the teachings of our creeds and of the Scripture? Christ said, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Did He mean, it will be as if they were filled?
William Hendricksen, in his commentary, writing on Matthew 22:1-14, says:
"The question is asked, 'Just what is meant by the wedding robe, apart from which everlasting blessedness is impossible?' Passages illustrating the figurative use of a robe or garment are found in both the Old and the New Testament... The charge to put on such a robe cannot mean that a person should base his hope for salvation on his own goodness or moral fitness, for this would be contrary to all of Scripture's teaching. Does this mean, then, that the wedding garment is to be limited to 'the imputed righteousness which is ours by faith'? (cf. Lenski, op.cit., p.834) Not at all. God not only imputes but also imparts righteousness to the sinner whom he pleases to save. Although these two must be distinguished, they must not be separated. Careful study of those passages in Scripture that mention the robe with which the sinner must be clothed makes it clear that not only guilt must be forgiven but also the old way of life must be laid aside and the new life to the glory of God must take its place. Briefly, the sinner must, by God's grace, ‘put on Christ’. (Gal 3:27) There must be a complete turnabout, a thorough-going renewal or ‘conversion’, exactly as Jesus himself had taught (Matt 4:17), and as the apostles after him were going to teach.
“The one thought of the parable, then, is this: Accept God's gracious invitation, lest while others enter into glory you be lost. But remember that membership in the visible church does not guarantee salvation. Complete renewal (including both justification and sanctification), the putting on of Christ, is what is necessary."
(William Hendriksen Commentary on Matthew Pages 798-99. Emphases his.)
What the appellant, together with his counsel, do not expect to see is the OPC, acting through the presbytery of Philadelphia, upholding his conviction, especially in the face of his categorical endorsement and teaching of the doctrine set forth in the Standards of the OPC. The Presbytery needs to remember that a decision of one judicatory, if allowed to stand, becomes the decision of the whole Church. Mr. Kinnaird teaches that which Scripture reveals and which our Standards declare. He cannot, and will not, teach otherwise. Neither may the OPC.