Jul 21, 2011

Andrew Fuller's 7 Points of Controversy

The following quote is from Fuller's "The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation" The blue Comments are by the author of this blog

"The following particulars are premised, for the sake of a clear understanding of the subject: --
First, There is no dispute about the doctrine of election, or any of the discriminating doctrines of grace. They are allowed on both sides; and it is granted that none ever did or ever will believe in Christ but those who are chosen of God from eternity. The question does not turn upon what are the causes of salvation, but rather upon what are the causes of damnation. "No man," as Mr. Charnock happily expresses it, "is an unbeliever, but because he will be so; and every man is not an unbeliever, because the grace of God conquers some, changeth their wills, and bends them to Christ."* Discourses, Vol. II. p. 473.  [This is false. There is much dispute in regards to Fuller's governmental view of the atonement which is contrary to the doctrine of particular redemption. See William Rushton and John Steven's reply to the Fuller.]

Secondly, Neither is there any dispute concerning who ought to be encouraged to consider themselves as entitled to the blessings of the gospel. Though sinners be freely invited to the participation of spiritual blessings; yet they have no interest in them, according to God's revealed will, while they continue in unbelief; nor is it any part of the design of these pages to persuade them to believe that they have. On the contrary, the writer is fully convinced that, whatever be the secret purpose of God concerning them, they are at present under the curse.  [This is false; Saving faith cannot be separated from the blessings received in the gospel. If one makes it the duty of the proud natural man to walk and live by faith in Christ, one must also make it the natural man's duty to consider himself entitled to the blessing of the gospel, or one must teach that these blessing are received in some other way than faith in Christ... i.e. works. The implications of Fuller's view is in effect an anti-gospel doctrine.]

Thirdly, The question is not whether men are bound to do any thing more than the law requires, but whether the law, as the invariable standard of right and wrong, does not require every man cordially to embrace whatever God reveals; in other words, whether love to God, with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, does not include a cordial reception of whatever plan he shall at any period of time disclose[The question still remains, what does God reveal to the natural man to believe in scripture? Surely not that it is every man's duty by law to embrace Christ by faith unto salvation]

Fourthly, The question is not whether men are required to believe any more than is reported in the gospel, or any thing that is not true; but whether that which is reported ought not to be believed with all the heart, and whether this be not saving faith.  [Here is one of Fuller's great errors. Scriptures define saving faith as the "assurance of things hoped for"; They that have this faith have "believed in hope" and "believed the love that God has for us". Faith unto salvation cannot be separated from the blessings of hope in Christ that are received by faith. In Fuller's view, faith unto salvation is believing the record of scripture with love for God. But, this is a duty in the law, a work of the law, and transgression of the law if omitted. It is not denied that the natural man ought believe the revealed record of the gospel and love God. But, it is denied that the law of works commands anyone to receive and embrace the hope of Christ. That which the law requires is not saving faith. The law is not of faith.]

Fifthly, It is no part of the controversy whether unconverted sinners be able to turn to God, and to embrace the gospel; but what kind of inability they lie under with respect to these exercises; whether it consists in the want of natural powers and advantages, or merely in the want of a heart to make a right use of them. If the former, obligation, it is granted, would be set aside; but if the latter, it remains in full force. They that are in the flesh cannot please God; but it does not follow that they are not obliged to do so; and this their obligation requires to be clearly insisted on, that they maybe convinced of their sin, and so induced to embrace the gospel remedy. [Though the natural man ought to be sensible to his sins, no where does the law command the natural man to embrace the gospel remedy in Christ. This is a blessing of grace from the Spirit of Christ and not a duty in the law which shall be cursed if omitted.]

Sixthly, The question is not whether faith be required of sinners as a virtue, which, if complied with, shall be the ground of their acceptance with God, or that on account of which they may be justified in his sight; but whether it be not required as the appointed means of salvation. The righteousness of Jesus believed in is the only ground of justification, but faith in him is necessary to our being interested in it. We remember the fatal example of the Jews, which the apostle Paul holds up to our view. "The Gentiles," saith he, "who followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith: but Israel, who followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but, as it were, by the works of the law; for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone." Though we had not been elsewhere told (1 Pet. 2:8) that in doing this they were disobedient, yet our judgments must be strangely warped by system if we did not conclude it to be their sin, and that by which they fell and perished. And we dare not but charge our hearers, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, to beware of stumbling upon the same stone, and of falling after the same example of unbelief. [Fuller rightly denies that faith is the ground of our justification. But, he teaches the false doctrine that it is the righteousness of Christ "believed in" as the ground of our justification. Note: he says not that it is the righteousness of Christ alone, but the righteousness of Christ "believed in". Thus, like the Arminians, he makes the righteousness of Christ plus his faith as the ground of his justification. In other words, Fuller's faithfulness to perform his duty plus the righteousness of Christ is the ground of his justification. Next Fuller teaches that his obedience to not sin is the essence of his saving faith. It is true that by disobedience one stumbles at the stumbling stone of Christ by not believing His revealed report. But, this is either a disobedience to believe the report of the gospel with love for God or it is a disobedience to hope in Christ. The jews were not required by the law of works to embrace Christ as their hope, nor were they cursed for not receiving Christ as their hope. Their damnable disobedience was to the law of works and they were cursed by the law of works. These Jews may also be identified by their disobedience to the gospel law of faith in the grace of Christ. But, it does not follow that is the natural man's duty to be obedient to the law of faith or that man is cursed by the law of faith. The law of faith bids thirsty and needy souls to embrace Christ as our hope; not the law of works.]

Finally, The question is not whether unconverted sinners be the subjects of exhortation, but whether they ought to be exhorted to perform spiritual duties. It is beyond all dispute that the Scriptures do exhort them to many things. If, therefore, there be any professors of Christianity who question the propriety of this, and who would have nothing said to them, except that, "if they be elected they will be called," they are not to be reasoned with, but rebuked, as setting themselves in direct opposition to the word of God. The greater part of those who may differ from the author on these subjects, it is presumed, will admit the propriety of sinners being exhorted to duty; only this duty must, as they suppose, be confined to merely natural exercises, or such as may be complied with by a carnal heart, destitute of the love of God. It is one design of the following pages to show that God requires the heart, the whole heart, and nothing but the heart; that all the precepts of the Bible are only the different modes in which we are required to express our love to him; that, instead of its being true that sinners are obliged to perform duties which have no spirituality in them, there are no such duties to be performed; and that, so far from their being exhorted to every thing excepting what is spiritually good, they are exhorted to nothing else. The Scriptures undoubtedly require them to read, to hear, to repent, and to pray, that their sins may be forgiven them. It is not, however, in the exercise of a carnal, but of a spiritual state of mind, that these duties are performed." [Here Fuller misunderstand spiritual duties and duties required in the law. The law requires love to God, but the law does not direct souls to live by faith because of the love of God in Christ. Living by Faith is to live by the Spirit of Christ and to live upon promises of free grace; this spiritual life is not required or commanded in the law of works. It is a life directed by the law of faith in the the grace of God and not a law with the threat of the curse for non-performance.]

Duty-faith Expositions

Free Grace Expositions