Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rev. Paul McCain and Louis Berkhof

On his November, 2010 blog post titled "Where Calvinism Goes So Deadly Wrong with the Law of God", Lutheran Paul McCain claims to quote from Louis Berkof's Systematic Theology, saying:
“Calvinists view the Law as necessary in securing justification. To secure is to establish, to make sure one’s status. The Law-keeping of sanctification is the basis on which the justified person receives benefits from the relationship he or she has with God. Calvinists say that “holiness, or conformity to the divine law, is the indispensable condition for securing favor, attaining peace of conscience, and enjoying fellowship with God” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Eerdmans, 1941, p. 472).
I can find no evidence of this quote. It's not in my copy of Berkhov, it's not anywhere on the Internet, and others (in the comment box) also question the quote.  Unfortunately it's been picked up by the official LCMS q/a site and a few other sites quoting the LCMS site.

The quote above is completely incompatible with Berhof's own confession of faith as with Reformed theology in general. It is, of course, completely in line with McCain's constant claims about Reformed theology, that we think we're justified by the law and so forth.

McCain is well known for his anti-Calvinist rhetoric. I've sparred with him in the past, as has Dr. White and others. He's well known for quoting things without checking sources and generally shooting his mouth off.

I believe this quote to be spurious. And I encourage McCain to provide direct physical evidence of this quote from original sources or publicly retract it, and see to it that the LCMS site also takes it down.

What do Calvinists actually believe about the Law of God and it's role in our lives?

Heidelberg Catechism

115. Q. Why, then, will God have the ten commandments preached so strictly, since in this life no one can keep them?

A. First, that all our life long we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature, and so become the more earnest in seeking remission of sins and righteousness in Christ; second, that we may constantly endeavor, and pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, to be renewed more and more after the image of God, till after this life we arrive at the goal of perfection.

1 comment:

  1. The actual quote is from Berkhof is in his Manual of Christian Doctrine. I found this in Google books. Note that it's in the context of regeneration.

    "Holiness or conformity to the divine law, is the indispensable condition for securing the divine favour, attaining peace of conscience, and enjoying fellowship with God, Heb. 12:14"

    Like you, I at first thought McCain was claiming Berkhof said the words you put in bold, but I think that's how he interpreted Berkhof's quote about holiness