This is the fifth answer to Ditzel’s fifth rebuttal but I now find that with a new publication on his site of his rebuttals, he has attached his sixth essay to the fifth which contains his criticisms of my dealing with John Murray. I have thus dealt with both essays together and there is thus no sixth coming up.
Ditzel’s culinary criticism
Under the heading ‘Making Hash’, Ditzel starts by agreeing with Calvin, Gill and myself that faith is not the cause of our justification but the instrument by which we receive justification. He then asks the question, ‘How do we receive justification?’, though we have already been told correctly that it is by faith. Indeed, Gill uses the very words of Calvin to express this, as I do myself and apparently also Ditzel. My accuser, however, in the hash he provides, forsakes what Calvin, Gill and George Ella mutually believe to tangle himself in his ingredients and talk of ‘the logical sequence of the means God uses in our salvation.’ Hash-making, he argues must occur in a special logical time-sequence. Theologically, he is back with his pseudo ordo salutis through which God, according to his theory, behaves in eternity as in time by doing one thing ‘logically’ after another. Actually, this is exactly what he erroneously accuses us of doing by putting justification willed in eternity before faith as received in time. Of course, we do no such thing as God is immanent in both eternity and time justifying instantly (from our point of view) from eternity into time. There is no ‘before’, that is ‘past’ in eternity. There is a logical ‘before’ in the willing of God from eternity and the doing of God in time in a cause and effect relationship but God’s immanence in both eternity and time are from time’s perspective in justification a willing and doing both at the same time.
I am accused of viewing converted Christians as ‘brain dead’
Thus Ditzel tells us that ‘Justification from eternity makes a hash of the logical sequence of the means God uses in our salvation.’ Notice that, though Ditzel repeatedly tells us that God in eternity is in a state of everything being present to Him, He nevertheless makes an exception in salvation and works according to a sequence of one thing happening either before or after another. In other words, Ditzel makes mince-meat of the one doctrine of justification, hacking it into various pieces which he deems temporal and logical. In so doing, Ditzel extends concepts of time into eternity rather than brings God’s eternal concepts into time.
Ditzel’s faulty conclusion in all his ‘logic’ is that the doctrine of justification according to Gill does away with faith, though he has just agreed with Gill and Calvin that ‘faith is the instrument by which we receive justification’. He does not explain how he reaches such a conclusion by ‘logic’, or any other method. We note, too, here that Calvin and Gill were arguing according to Scripture, which is always safe; but Ditzel is arguing from logic, which is, in Ditzel’s case almost always contrary to Scripture and common sense. Furthermore, Ditzel concludes from his pathetically faulty logic that I think Christians are ‘brain dead and remain so after salvation and through eternity.’ I, on my part, see how Ditzel’s primitive logic kills our capacity to think Biblically and leaves him with a caput mortuum.
Ditzel complains I do not think Christians are aware of their status in Christ
Ditzel’s further ‘logical’ conclusion is that ‘Ella has cooked up a justification by decree only; one that we may have without even being aware of it.’ So, we see that Ditzel has concluded his first paragraph of his fifth installment with a most dogmatic statement against me but the only evidence he gives to prove this is that I agree with him concerning faith’s place in justification. However, Ditzel’s logic continues to dictate to him that I leave faith out of God’s plan of salvation. Apparently his logic forces him to come to this conclusion and not my testimony of faith and all the works I have written on faith as the most precious gift of God. Ditzel’s conclusions are therefore all in his head and not based on facts and figures. Ditzel then tops up his ‘logic’, again contrary to factual evidence by surmising that I believe that justification is ‘by decree only’. The ‘only’, of course, is provided by Ditzel only who seems to have ignored what I say about God’s activation of justification in time. Goebbel’s quip from his ‘Things to Think About’ seems very applicable here:
‘The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.’
Obviously, Goebbel’s is not accusing his enemies here of intentionally lying. He feels however that because of their thick-headedness, they cannot help it and thus make themselves appear ridiculous. Of course, the English attribute the quip of the big lie to Hitler himself so both sides used the same propaganda. This does not nullify the truth in the quip which remains.
Being in Adam and Christ until the resurrection
Continuing with his ordo salutis of logic Ditzel takes up the matter of our being condemned in Adam and justified in Christ. He does not like the idea that a saved sinner bears the marks of Adam’s transgression and the presence of sin in his body until the wages of sin take their toll and the saint dies bodily but is resurrected spiritually in Christ according to the truth that the ‘wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. I cannot help feeling that Ditzel is disagreeing with me here merely for the sake of the argument, as he can hardly deny the presence of the old man within him. Again, his logic does not help him as he concludes from my teaching, which is that we are justified from eternity and that God is always justifying his people and that we carry the bodily effects of Adam until the resurrection, that we are only justified after death. His logic then forces him to the conclusion that we teach that Christians are condemned to hell and assigned to Heaven at the same time. He then extends this false logic even further and says I believe in an ‘unreal justification’ and thus my doctrine, of which he appears not to have the foggiest idea, is ‘unbiblical, illogical, absurd, contradictory nonsense:’ So we see how much Ditzel has to alter my doctrine with a view to making a hash of it but he is merely left with mock-turtle soup!
The two natures controversy
As soon as I read Ditzel on this subject, I realised he was embedded in the old two natures controversy concerning Romans Seven and Eight and wished to draw me into it. To this end, Ditzel quotes Romans 8:1, 33-34; Romans 6:6-7,11-23; Ephesians 4:22, Colossians 3:9 and several others which all warn against sinning and which I thoroughly endorse. Strangely enough, Ditzel does not expound Romans 7 where we see the old man at work in the life of a Christian. Ditzel knows my view that I remain sinful until freed from my Adamic body and believe that those who say that we do not struggle in this body until freed from it but rather have one nature with Christ dwelling in it, make Christ then responsible for our sins and not us. Paul’s struggle between his two natures is the actual life of all believers. Here, as so often, I must disagree with Ditzel’s use of the Greek believing that apekdusamenoi as he transcribes it in Colossians 3:9 means ‘Having completely put off’. I would say that, because of the context and the use of the word in many other passages pointing to the struggle with indwelling sin that the saint has, the word carries the meaning ‘to renounce’. Indeed, the English word used in the AV has been used from Anglo-Saxon times through Middle English to mean ‘to push away’, ‘to butt’, ‘to shove away’ and ‘to thrust back’, ‘to counter’. The words derived from the ground term in French, Dutch, German and Swedish all carry these meanings. In the construction, the prepositional prefix ‘apo’ means ‘departure from’ or ‘riddance’ rather than the adverb ‘completely’, which is not in the text, emphasizes the meaning of ‘to go out from’ in ekduoo. Ditzel has consulted Robertson for a quickie but he should go on to more detailed lexika and examples in literature for a full overview of the term used in the sense of renouncing sin and the old man. The various uses of this word combination in the Scriptures point rather to a continuous admonition rather than a past event. Our being in the body will only be a past reality at the resurrection. If Ditzel can truthfully say he has put off his sin and he is now perfect in his resurrected body, then all I can say is couched in Kipling’s words: ‘You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!’
Ditzel accusations based on uninformed hunches
The teaching I placed in the 20 pages of Chapter Seven of my John Gill and Justification from Eternity entitled ‘God’s Love for His Elect in their Natural State’ which, I take it, Ditzel also used to prepare his ‘rebuttal’ as it was written and published before his papers, clearly refutes Ditzel’s twisted version of my doctrine. So, two, a number of articles on justification in relation to faith, the forgiveness of sins, adoption, sanctification and other associated doctrines have been available in New Focus and my website with which Ditzel claims to be familiar from the early nineties. The text of all the talks I have given, which are only about four before the date of Ditzel’s attacks, are still available on the web or in my publications. So Ditzel has no excuse for misquoting me as he does so often in this section. Furthermore, Ditzel professes to have scripted what I allegedly said in a recording, referring to ‘a talk’ he has heard though the way he presents it bears no relation to talks I have given and repeatedly claims he is basing his remarks on oral remarks of mine which he has published on the web without stating when, where and under what title, and why he did so without my permission. This would explain the odd punctuation Ditzel often uses with comments which alters my meaning. If I hear the words ‘The teacher says John is a fool`, I can punctuate it as, ‘The teacher’, says John, ‘is a fool’, or as, ‘The teacher says, ‘John is a fool’, thus giving two quite different, even opposite, meanings. Ditzel has certainly used this freedom of punctuation to suit his own argument. However, in all this muck-throwing, Ditzel hardly quotes me verbatim and when he does, it is only to tell his readers what he will have me mean rather than allow them to read me in context and think for themselves. I have certainly never spoken about or written about the rubbish Ditzel loves to empty from his waste bin in my front-garden.
Has Ditzel no signs of Adam in him?
If Ditzel thinks that he has no signs of Adam in him, why does he sin and why will he die? Why is he at times ill, at times confused, and at times sees his own frailty and unworthiness? Is his own sin not ever before his eyes? Does he not ever confess that he is a wretch and worm in his behaviour as all the saints are? Does he not think like holy Paul that he is the chief of sinners? Why ought he to think so? Because he has not yet become rid of the remains of Adam which still clothe him until death.
Believing that we still have our Adamic nature, though pardoned, is in accordance with Gill’s teaching and mine that Christ lays no charges against us in spite of ourselves. Why does Paul tell us not to let sin reign in our bodies if we cannot sin because the old man is dead? Why must we put off the old man if he is no longer with us? Why are we told to put off the old life if there is no old life in us? Ever ready to contradict himself, Ditzel admits that we sin. Ever ready to contradict Ella he accuses me of believing that saved sinners are under condemnation for sin and God’s eternal wrath until they are freed from sin at death. He argues for pages on this topic, citing Scripture after Scripture, piling them up like a blockade for the sake of a defence but to which Ditzel pays only lip-service. Paul tells Christians in Ephesians 4:22 that they should ‘put off’ (again, renounce) the former conversation of the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts but Ditzel comments that this does not actually mean until we are dead and free from our Adamic nature. When then, after conversion, does Ditzel think that the Christian becomes perfect in his walk with God?
The teaching that God condemns sin but pardons sinners defended
Ditzel has made much (far too much) of my simple statement that God can love the elect but hide His face from them for a period because of their sin. I am here viewing the elect as they stand in time in Adam and yet in eternity in Christ. The fact that a sinner is condemned in time for being in Adam does not negate the fact that in eternity the elect have been put in Christ. Just as a loving father scolds a naughty child, God is angry whenever His people sin, but this does not mean that he does not love them in Christ. Isaiah 54:7,8,10 sums up nicely God’s attitude to His elect in their period of darkness:
‘For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.’
The doctrine of God’s loving the elect in union with Christ as their Father but still condemning them in Adam as their offended Judge, pervades all the doctrines of salvation and in every aspect of the atonement and also with Christ’s purpose in dying for His elect. Referring to that great chapter on reconciliation, Romans 5, George Smeaton, pointing out that reconciliation was worked out in the atonement and not on the basis of a moral change in man, deals with the very same problem i.e. that critics argue that God cannot love the elect and be wrathful at the same time. Of course He can, says Smeaton whom I have been quoting on this subject since the early nineties, especially his words:
‘To this, however, it is urged as an objection, that such a mode of viewing reconciliation makes us at once enemies and friends: and it is said, Can we regard God as both hating and loving us: as evincing displeasure, and concerting the means of taking us into favor? This difficulty vanishes when we come to see that love and wrath well enough consist together, because men are presented to His view both as the creatures of His hand, and as sinners, yet the objects of His grace. He had wrath and enmity against their sin, according to His holy nature and the inalienable claims of justice; but He had love to His creatures, and a disposition to do them good. And the atonement, as an arrangement interposed between divine wrath on the one hand, and the sinful human race on the other, was the removal of all the impediments that stood in the way of the divine love. The text shows that free love provided the atonement, but that men were actually taken into favor only on the ground of satisfaction.’1
God can be loving and wrathful at the same time
Ditzel must have a great problem fitting the Atonement into his scheme of logic. He must find it hard to imagine God being well pleased with Christ yet at the same time chastising Him for our sins. Peter Naylor in his Picking up a Pin for the Lord complains the Gill should never have used such an example in describing a loving and wrathful God as a parallel with the state of the elect. Gill would argue, however, that this is the very parallel that the gospel draws. It was Christ’s voluntarily and vicariously taking upon Himself the wrath of God that found acceptance in the Godhead and secured our salvation. Smeaton has been a faithful friend to me for many years so I gave him the last word on my book on Gill’s doctrine of justification. In Gill, one hears our Reformers, Goodwin, Trail, Smeaton and Bunyan, but when stalwarts such as William Huntington tell of a loving heavenly Father grieving over His children’s sins, hard-hearted perfectionists tell him not to be sloppy and call him An Antinomian and a Hyper-Calvinist! Saved sinners, they maintain, have no sins that can cause God’s tears. How God must weep over such cold-hearted worldliness!
Breaking a lance for John Murray
Ditzel uses the next few pages to state my disagreement with John Murray’s exposition of justification in volume 2 of his Systematic Theology and then proceeds to make a hash out of what I wrote and make his usual illogical deductions as to what I meant.
Thus Ditzel starts this section by writing:
Dr. Ella states ‘in his talk’ (which? where? when?): Murray says in his work on justification, ‘Justification is not the eternal decree of God with respect to us,’ so God in eternity has nothing to do with our justification’.’
I have spoken very rarely indeed in public on justification and have all my notes extant. As my memory is ruined through a severe head injury I had in the eighties, I always read from a manuscript. My first official ‘talk’ on justification was given in a Church at Portsmouth at the invitation of Pastor Henry Sant in the mid-nineties. This lecture may have been recorded, I do not know. I do know that after looking at what the Scriptures had to say about being made righteous and being given faith, I went on to say:
Thus when the Scriptures say “The just shall live by faith,” we must ask ourselves, “What does the word ‘just’ here really mean?”, “Who demands that we be just?”, “Why are we required to be just?” and “What is demanded of us that we might be accounted just?”
These questions are answered by Isaiah in Chapter 46:18-25:
“For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed
it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: . . . . . who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.”
The term ‘just’ describes a God who acts righteously and who demands righteousness of His people. God defines His just character in ‘declaring things that are right’ and in not declaring anything in vain. He makes things right. We can become just and thus act righteously if we turn to Him. Where this responsibility is not exercised, there is no justification and no righteousness, but just cause to be ashamed. Which means, when faced with God’s justice, we shall not have a word to say in our defence. What God demands of himself, He demands of others. The devil tempted man to become like the gods by disobeying God. God invites us to become like Him through obedience.
In the Biblical languages, whether Hebrew or Greek, to be made just is the same as to be made righteous. The terms are synonymous.
For a definition of justification on these terms, we may safely turn to John Gill who summed up the Reformed doctrine of Justification as taught originally by nearly all our Reformers whether Anglican, Reformed, Lutheran, Congregational or Baptist. Justification for Gill is, “an act of God’s grace, whereby he clears his people from sin, discharges them from condemnation, and reckons them righteous for the sake of Christ’s righteousness, which he has accepted of and imputes unto them.” This, on God’s part, can be viewed from three angles, a. in foro Dei as the eternal immanent act of God, b. in foro conscientiae, as a declarative act to and upon the conscience of the believer and c. in foro mundi, as an act declared to men and angels at the last judgement. In other words, God is always justifying His elect.
Is justification real or make-believe?
Nowadays, we are told that God merely justifies us by a declarative and forensic act. He declares us to be righteous and pronounces us legally righteous but we are not actually made so.2 It is as if we owe a debt and the debt has been legally annulled by some judicial wrangling which clears the debtor from debt but does not reform him. Such ideas prompted John Murray to say in his work entitled Justification:
“Justification is not the eternal decree of God with respect to us, nor is it the finished work of Christ for us, when once-for-all he reconciled us to God by his death; nor is it the regenerative work of God in us, nor is it any activity on our part in response to and embrace of the gospel, but it is an act of God, accomplished in time wherein God passes judgment with respect to us as individuals.”3
This time-bound view is too theoretical, too negative and fully unscriptural. It does not regard justification as part of Christ’s finished work for His elect. Murray sees justification as part of the gospel warrant or free offer of salvation to every man, arguing that as justification happens after belief, it cannot be a decree of God enacted in eternity. Scripture passages such as Rom. 8:30-33 show positively that our justification and election were planned and enacted from eternity. Rom. 4:5 makes it quite obvious that justification is before belief but brings with it righteous faith when God, by His grace, discloses His will to us at conversion.
The Scriptures affirm that justification is demonstrated to us by God’s acts in eternity and by Christ’s work on the Cross planned and carried out from eternity. Older writers from Calvin, through Gill to Berkof, always anchored their teaching on justification in what God has worked out in order to declare His people righteous. Thus to say that “Justification is not the eternal decree of God with respect to us” is quite erroneous.’
As this reflects everything I have ever taught on justification, Ditzel’s mock-up of what I said must be taken for what it is worth. Nothing!
I have also preserved my notes from a talk I gave in the USA in the late nineties from which Ditzel, being an American, might have obtained a misunderstood inkling of what I was saying. In my introduction to the topic John Gill and the Doctrine of Justification from Eternity, I gave my aims which were:
1. To look at the modern problem with justification.
2. Seek to define justification.
3. See if justification can be obtained by sinners themselves.
4. Look at some confusions in Christian thinking.
5. View the reasons why Christ’s imputed righteousness alone can justify us.
6. Consider the modern view that a belief in justification from eternity promotes Antinomianism.
7. Look more particularly at the date of justification.
8. Examine the difference between pardon and justification.
9. Analyse the arguments against justification from eternity.
10. A closer look at justification through the righteousness and faith of Jesus Christ
I then led the gathered few into my thinking by asking:
Just what does ‘just’ mean?
An essential part of the atoning work of Christ is justification. The Bible speaks a great deal about being just or being just-ified, i.e. made just, but there are so many interpretations of what this entails that it must be a baffling task indeed for a new convert to discern the right meaning. The English language does not help matters as the word ‘just’ is as overworked, as ‘to get’ in its diversity of meaning. We say, “Let’s just pray,” or “It’ll just take a minute,” or “Just be careful.” We even give the word ‘just’ opposite meanings. If we say, “He is just a man,” we mean the person is only half a man, but if we say, “He is a just man,” we mean that he is a man and half. Thus when the Scriptures say “The just shall live by faith,” we just do not automatically get the point. We must ask ourselves, “What does the word ‘just’ here really mean?”, “Who demands that we be just?”, “Why are we required to be just?” and “What is demanded of us that we might be accounted just?”’
Justification by faith
a. This was by a decree of God.
b. By this decree, the elect were made just.
Modern objections: Justification is neither a making of the sinner just (or ‘righteous’ as the word really means) nor a decree of God which justifies. Indeed, in John Murray’s Systematic Theology, the author of this Banner of Truth publication denies both fundamental teachings of the reformation. Listen to Murray’s definition of Justification:
“Justification is not the eternal decree of God with respect to us, nor is it the finished work of Christ for us, when once-for-all he reconciled us to God by his death; nor is it the regenerative work of God in us, nor is it any activity on our part in response to and embrace of the gospel, but it is an act of God, accomplished in time wherein God passes judgement with respect to us as individuals.” Systematic Theology, vol. ii.
In other words, no justification is actually wrought out but believers are only considered as if that justification had been wrought out. They are merely considered not-guilty though their guilt has not really been removed and they do not really, virtually and absolutely stand righteous before God.
However, in the passage where Murray denies the factitive and operative function of justification, he draws a false parallel. He says, to prove his case, ‘Condemnation is not to make wicked and justification no more means to make righteous than condemn means to make wicked.’
Obviously God, according to Scripture does not make men wicked in condemning them for the simple reason that they are wicked already. He pronounces condemnation on reprobate men because they are wicked. Likewise God pronounces His elect justified because He finds in them righteousness i.e. that righteousness which we have in being united with Christ in our eternal union with Him and being wedded to Christ as His Bride with all the following consequences and outworkings. The results of such a union are highly factitive and operative. We are thus condemned for good reasons of justice and acquitted – for good reasons of justice. Here, as the Puritans used to phrase it, justice kisses mercy. If we are not actually justified – actually made righteous – then we are still in our sins. We are still guilty before God. Concerning the faith which is given to us in justification, Gill comments in his sermon on I Timothy 1:2:
‘Some people in our days talk of faith as a very easy thing – only believe – only believe, say they; but it is to be feared these persons that talk in this manner, and make such an easy thing of believing in Christ, never saw their lost state by nature, the sinfulness of sin, and the ruin and destruction that it brings: never saw themselves upon the precipice of hell, dropping as it were into everlasting damnation. Let a person be in these circumstances, and then let him tell me, whether it is an easy thing for him to believe in Christ for life and salvation: and yet this is done, and herein lies the trial of faith. This shews the genuineness of it, when a soul under a sense of all its iniquities, with all their aggravating circumstances, demerits and deserts, can venture his soul upon Christ. Give me this man. It is he that knows what it is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. But he finds a great many discouragements, doubts, and fears; a thousand objections before he can do this. He does not find it a very easy thing: it is a work of almighty power and efficacious grace.
It was under such a sense of sin as I have mentioned, that the apostle trusted in Christ; and he considers that grace as exceeding abundant which communicated faith and love to his soul who had been before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious. 1 Tim. i. 13, 14. And his faith arose to a full assurance, as the words of our text expresses; and elsewhere lie says, The life I live in the flesh is by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.4 He had a firm belief of interest in Christ: an assurance of faith in Christ. And it is what the Lord is pleased to grant unto some of his children that have not that share of grace and gifts as that great man had; Let us (he says) draw near with a true heart.5
He does not mean himself only, and his fellow apostles, or men of the highest gifts and character in the church; but the children of God in general; believers in common: Let us, all of us, draw near to God with a true heart, in a full assurance of faith. In full assurance of the object of faith prayed unto; that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. In full assurance of having those petitions put up unto him that are agreeable to his will answered; in full assurance of a Mediator between God and man, and of an interest in his prevailing mediation and intercession; “Let us draw near with true hearts in full assurance of faith,” by the blood of Jesus. For that is the ground and foundation of all assurance: even the precious blood of Jesus, shed for many for the remission of sins.’
If Ditzel is familiar with my John Gill and Justification from Eternity, (with which he is bound to be if he has researched me correctly), where I expound my doctrine at length, he will find at least 9 pages of discussion concerning Murray’s view of justification which I hold to be contrary to the doctrine of Scripture and our Reformers. Again, I give the full quote, as in all four or five articles and talks I have given on this subject, in one piece which Ditzel cuts into tiny pieces and comments on broken off pieces bit by bit so that it is impossible to say when I speak and when Ditzel comments. Indeed, Ditzel obviously gets his quotation marks wrong. The first broken-off bit with comment which Ditzel used receives a big question mark as Ditzel later admits that the words I quoted from Murray were cut off by Ditzel but I actually continued the quote without break until the end. Of course, had Ditzel given his readers a copy of my script or accompanied his essay with a copy of my alleged talk, this would have helped. I have not yet found out to which talk Ditzel is referring so that I can analyse it in the ‘light’ of Ditzel’s comments. Perhaps readers of this website may be able to help? Nevertheless, may I advise readers to look up Ditzel’s various web-site articles on his ‘Rebuttal’ and compare them with what I actually teach on the subject in my books and on the net?
The point I made in my four or so articles referring to Murray, given the same quote in full in one block, was that God decreed our justification but Murray denied this. Ditzel interprets this to mean I maintain that for Murray ‘God in eternity has nothing to do with our justification’ and accuses me of seriously misrepresenting Murray. The misrepresentation is all Ditzel’s. Again, here, to show how ‘illogical’ I am on Murray, Ditzel comes up with one of his most peculiar parables. He says of my criticism, ‘It is as if I said that a baseball is not a homerun, and someone then claimed that I said that a baseball has nothing to do with a homerun. Or, to use similar terms to those I used earlier, it is as if I said that loving a woman is not actually marrying her; and then someone came along and misrepresented me as saying that loving a woman has nothing to do with marrying her.’ He then adds hopefully. ‘I trust you see the difference.’
Which difference here is Ditzel talking about? Does he mean the difference between his interpretation of Murray and mine or the difference between his view of justification and mine or simply the differences apparent in the two stories, all these differences being considerable? As Ditzel neither explains how either story applies to my Murray quote and my understanding of it and how each story applies to the other, I must confess that I see the contradictions but do not understand why Ditzel makes them. Nor do I understand why statements of Murray’s which I have left without comment are taken up by Ditzel and fitted with comments that he argues I would have said. I did not query other things that Murray said, such as justification being solely a work of God, because I agree with Murray here.
Ditzel’s detective work
Ditzel ends this section of his fifth essay by listing all the things I should have commented on but did not in the brief witness he has managed to record. As he has left out the bulk of my arguments his recording must have been that of an off-the cuff, unplanned ‘quickie’ outline. Ditzel has supplied the points I allegedly left out in his rebuttal, giving what he thinks I would have said if I had spoken for several hours more. However, I had taken up all these matters in my other essays, published articles and at least two books before the date of Ditzel’s six articles against me so that he had ample time to consult ALL my teaching before he put me on his list of suspects. All I can say is that Ditzel shows plenty of ingenuity by building up a case against me before consulting the evidence. As in Paul Auster’s anti-detective stories, the facts appear to be out of Ditzel’s reach and the plot is too large for him to grasp it.
Ditzel’s four questions for those he accuses
Our anti-detective is, however, not yet done. Before ending his fifth essay, he produces a list from his notebook of four questions he poses to his suspects which are:
‘1. How can someone who is already justified from eternity incur sin that can be imputed to Jesus Christ? In other words, what sins are there to be imputed to Jesus Christ if we are justified from eternity?’
‘2. If God’s elect are justified from eternity, and must therefore have never had sin, for whose sin did Jesus die’
‘3. On the other hand, if we are both justified from eternity and condemned under sin at the same time, as Dr Ella says, what kind of justification is this? Surely it would be at best a phantom justification.’
’4. If the only difference our faith makes in making manifest God’s eternal justification in our consciences, why does the Bible time and again say that we are justified (Ditzel’s emphasis), not just experience in our consciences, by faith?’
Obviously, here, Ditzel has arrested the wrong alleged suspects and presented them with botched up arguments of his own making. He thus makes himself a culprit dealing in perjury and strives to convict an innocent by faking evidence.
Question One reveals that our anti-detective has chronologically, Scripturally and eternally confused the actions of God, Christ and the sinner, not realising that he is mistaking time for eternity and eternity for time. Of course the idea that God has ‘already justified’ someone without placing them in Christ and giving them faith is Biblically absurd. Besides, ‘already’ here is an adverb of time which does not apply to eternity. Here again, Ditzel deals with things governed from eternity as if they were completed in past time. Nobody has sinned in this ‘past eternity’ as Ditzel argues and Christ did not atone for specific sins never committed. He has, however, died for all sin in time from the Fall and before the Resurrection. Ditzel leaves out the vital fact here that justification is through being placed in Christ and being given faith to appropriate this fact. It is there the forgiveness, the adoption, the salvation, the cleansing from sin and all our other heavenly blessings are synergised under the term ‘justification’. Ditzel’s idea that Christ could not have justified us from sins before we were born is not an argument against justification from eternity as there is no time element in eternity. It is however an argument against Scripture which Ditzel ought to note. Christ forgave him his sins through dying in the fullness of time, which according to Ditzel was past time before he was born!
Perhaps I should not have used terms such as ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ in explaining the interplay between time and eternity. Of course, ‘cause’ comes before ‘effect’ but one cannot use logic in this sense when Ditzel is one’s reader as he immediately things of thousands of years between actions and their impact rather than seeing them as one. Obviously God gives directly to those He has prepared for reception.
Concerning Question Two, I do not understand what Ditzel means by justified people who ‘have never had sin’. I resume he means hypothetical people who have never sinned. We do not ‘have sin’ like we may ‘have the small pox’, we commit sin in disobedience to God. Of course, such un-fallen people have never existed. There are no people who have not fallen but the God-Man Himself. Jesus thus died for Ditzel and for me and all His Bride and Church past present and future.
Question Three also reveals mistakes in comprehension and deduction. There is all the difference between my sin being condemned by Christ and my being justified in Christ. Ditzel’s defective knowledge of his own nature and man’s nature in general, prevents Ditzel from understanding that in all men sin is condemned, whatever their status in Christ, but those in Christ are justified from the guilt and curse of sin. God condemns sin but loves His children in spite of their sin. If Ditzel thinks this is a phantom justification, then we leave Ditzel in the sad state of believing so, but trust that he will find the truth.
Question Four is also built on Ditzel’s misunderstanding of the Biblical doctrine of justification, or at least as presented by our Reformers, many Puritans and such writers as Toplady and Gill. I have never read or heard of a doctrine of justification as merely being present in the conscience but even this would not contradict the fact that a believer is justified by faith. So, such anti-detective evidence hunting is certain to lead any NCT sleuth off the right track.
Ditzel finishes this section off by claiming, that to view justification as ‘an immanent act in God’ which ‘entirely resides in the divine mind’, as he claims Gill does, sounds like something more worthy of Mary Baker Eddy than John Gill. Actually, Ditzel has wrenched these words from a lengthy article to be found in Gill’s Complete Body of Divinity, Book II on ‘Justification as an Immanent Act of God’s’, without giving Gill’s overall argument from which Ditzel has isolated a few words and given them his own context. Ditzel obviously merely cuts for the sake of pasting so as to portray everything according to his own Picasso-like picture. Picasso, however, kept a broad presentation of the main facts of his subject’s physiognomy. Ditzel distorts all. Nor has he given the source of his isolated quotes, nor has he added that Gill is arguing in unison with Ames, Sandford, Goodwin, Hoornbek and Witsius. So, too, Ditzel quotes Peter Meney as believing Ditzel’s representation of Gill but the quote he cites from Meney, (again, without giving the source) does not at all back up Ditzel’s interpretation, indeed, it quite refutes it.
Summing up Ditzel
Naturally, a misrepresentation of Gill and the many stalwarts he quotes on justification as also a total misrepresentation of Peter Meney and myself, can only lead our enthusiastic sleuth to come to a false verdict. Indeed, Ditzel’s ‘Summary’ ending his sixth paper justifies fully this fear. His ‘verdict’ is quite scandalous. Thus Ditzel concludes that Gill’s doctrine, Meney’s, my own and that of an immense number of Christian stalwarts who follow the Scriptures rather than Ditzel’s ‘logic’, is un-Scriptural, not according to his ordo salutis, illogical, inconsistent, describes a phantom state, is Christ-dishonouring, is a misrepresentation and confuses. He thus ends with the pious prayer:
‘For this reason, it is my prayer that the purveyors of this deceptive teaching will see that it is contrary to Scripture, repent, and cease teaching the human fabricated notion that God’s decree to elect in eternity is the actual justification of the elect from eternity.’
Such is the verdict of one whose phobias are all in his own mind, who fights windmills and ideas of his own invention and who refuses to be taught by men of God like Gill who have a Scriptural answer to all the nonsense he has stored up in his brain concerning those who preach God’s word and laugh at the fables of man.
Nevertheless, I would encourage every Christian interested in justification to ponder diligently all that Ditzel says, especially his summary of his fifth paper on justification because it is this stubborn resistance to divine truths on the basis of that Ersatzreligion of human logic and philosophy which is claiming authority in our churches today and making Cowper’s prophesies concerning ‘organised religion’ come sadly, true. Knowing the enemy is a most helpful part of Biblical training. But the Scriptures are still there, Bullinger, Lambert, Jewel, Nowell, Goodwin, Ames, Tyndale, Smeaton, Witsius, Gill, Brine and many hundreds more can still be read and I trust my own lesser efforts have succeeded in showing the miracle of God’s wonderful love and grace in His justifying us from eternity. Of course, meaning by this the pure doctrine untouched by Ditzel’s ‘logic’.