Archive for September 20, 2012

Assurance By Purgatory in This Life?

September 20, 2012

Certain puritan experimentalists (and quakers) move the “purgatory” into this life, before the first death. Max Weber called it a work-ethic to confirm to ourselves that we are elect.

The Persistence of Purgatory (Richard K Fenn) traces Western attitudes toward time back to the myth of Purgatory. As popular understandings of Purgatory became increasingly secularized, the lifespan of the individual became correspondingly purgatorial. No time could be wasted. Fenn demonstrates the impact of Purgatory on the preaching of Richard Baxter and William Channing, but he also argues that John Locke’s views can only be understood when placed within the context of a belief in Purgatory.

Roman Catholics like Sungenis will always talk about a “difference” between a paradigm with quid pro quo conditions and  the  “in the family now” paradigm with “mysterious conditions”. But I would shift the paradigm comparison to that between those who teach that Christians are imparted with the divine nature and thus enabled to meet “conditions in the covenant” and those who refuse any notion of “conditionality” except that which depends on Christ’s finished work.

Even though the revivalist family is not so strict as to demand perfection, it does keep asking its members to ask themselves— am I the fourth dirt in the parable, or one of the other three?

I am neither an Arminian nor a federal visionist, and I don’t believe that the justified elect lose their election, and therefore I don’t think that Christians have to do stuff to stay in (internally in?) the new covenant. Those “in the family” tend to let you by faith alone, or even without that if you are an infant, but then after a while, they will let you out the back door if your faith is still alone. In addition to faith, they ask—what have you done lately?

It’s like my wife saying to me—the wooing doesn’t stop now. Sure, I married you already but now I want to see the big house with the bird nests in the big back yard. I am not denying that a husband should do stuff for his wife. But I ask the revivalist– how much does a husband have to do in order to keep the wife! Is it always just a little bit more than what I have done already?

When I walked down that aisle 33 years ago, was I thinking— now that I am married, I don’t need to love her? It’s not strictly “quid pro quo” necessary? I need to love her, but it’s “mysteriously conditional?

Our works are not necessary to obtain God’s blessings. Romans 4:4—“To the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due”.

What I do for my wife is not like mortgage payments on a note which can never be burned. I am not like Jacob who had to work seven more years after he got in the family (and that after seven years already)

Married is married. What we do doesn’t keep us married.There is no cause-effect relationship between our works and some second final justification, because the elect are saved by Christ’s work. Christians share in what Christ has, not because of what they do but because they are still married to Christ.

The federal visionists warn us that the new covenant now expects more of us because we COULD now do more if you wanted to. Despite talk of the divine assistance available, the subtext is threatening and ominous– it’s not strict and perfect we want, but we shall wait and see what you do, and we will never say it specifically about you, but we will say in a general way–not enough recently, maybe out of the family now….

Sure it’s great that water baptism has united me to Christ but how am I to know that I will keep covenant from now on in (so let me die first before I do something which will put me out of the covenant, let me die sooner rather than later). This is what I mean by purgatory now, before the first death.

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