I am reliably informed that Professor Clark is not interested in a public debate. That is fine. He is not obligated to debate me. I was hoping to use the occasion to bring clarity and unity to the Reformed churches on these important matters.
Professor Clark’s minister, Rev. Chris Gordon, wrote a post asking me to meet John Lewis, a man who had left the following comment after one of my posts:
Dear Dr Mark Jones. Just to quote, “But, if you have a problem with Piper, I ask: do you also have a problem with literally hundreds of other Reformed theologians who have said precisely the same thing? Zanchius, Mastricht, Goodwin, Owen, Twisse, Ursinus, etc., are all wrong if Rachel Miller is right….think about that! End quote.
Well Martin Luther was one person, and he took upon the entire Roman Catholic Church. Think about that! I am no theologian, I’m a very young Christian, 70 years old, saved at the age of 61, when I came to understand the selfless act and blood sacrifice of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, and I follow no one except Him and Him alone. It is by faith in that one act, it is by my understanding of the criminals on either side of Him, the one who acknowledged Christ and rebuked the other criminal. The one who asked Jesus to remember him, he who also deserved eternal death, and yet was spared. It is then further my understanding of 2 Thess:2-13 and I will quote John Calvin here “Thus we must contemplate the Judgments of God upon the reprobate in such a way that they may be, as it were, mirrors to us for considering his mercy towards us. For we must draw this conclusion, that it is owing solely to the singular grace of God that we do not miserably perish with them” end quote. The key wording here for me is “ the singular grace” of God. I have absolutely no gripe with John Piper at all, except to say that methinks he took something not all that difficult (to quote you) and made it quite confusing, and I’m wondering how Martin Luther would have responded? Both his article (John Piper) and your response has given me much to meditate upon. Thank you. John Lewis.
Rev. Gordon asked me, “Will you please meet John Lewis?” (Please read the comments if you read the post).
Well, actually, I have been in touch with John Lewis. And, it gives me great pleasure to say that I will be flying down to Cape Town in December and will, Lord willing, meet John personally. That is where he lives, and he is as eager as I am to meet up. I anticipate we’ll have a nice conversation. I plan to give him a couple of my books, especially Faith.Hope.Love, which tries to put these complicated matters into layman’s terms for all in the church to understand (see esp. ch. 6). I trust Rev. Gordon will acknowledge that I am doing my best to fulfill his request. I offered to fly to WSCal to debate Dr. Clark, but in Cape Town I only plan to try to work through these issues (if indeed he has any).
As for those who have watched this discussion on good works & salvation, please note that I firmly believe, with all my heart, that we are as justified as we will ever be when we first believe. We cannot ever lose our justification. When Christ returns we will enter heaven based purely on the imputed righteousness of Christ. Along the way to heaven we will do good works that God has prepared for us in advance to do. These works are not optional (Rom. 8:13), but they do not have the merit to justify us before God. They are simply the path we walk on to eternal life. I agree entirely with Zacharias Ursinus in his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism on good works.
If anyone thinks this is objectionable, then that is their own right to think so. But, brothers, why should we not try to find unity where possible? That was my intention regarding John Piper, and I believe that we should try to find common ground where possible, not cause division when there is no need. We not only need to have a clear conscience about our theology, but also how we have understood those whom we disagree with. I pray especially that Seminary students take this to heart.
The Rev. Dr. Mark Jones (PhD, Leiden Universiteit) has been the Minister at Faith Vancouver since 2007. He is also Research Associate in the Faculty of Theology at University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. Dr. Jones is the author of several books, including his most recent, Knowing Christ.
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