Apology for True Christian Divinity: Proposition 7 Concerning Justification

As many as resist not this Light, but receive the same, it becomes in them a holy, pure, and spiritual birth, bringing forth holiness, righteousness, purity, and all those other blessed fruits, which are acceptable to God, by which holy birth, to wit, Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his works in us, as we are sanctified, so are we justified in the sight of God, according to the apostle's words: "But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11). Therefore it is not by our works wrought in our will, nor yet by good works, considered as of themselves; but by Christ, who is both the gift and the giver, and the cause producing the effects in us, who, as he hath reconciled us while we were enemies, doth also in his wisdom save us, and justify us after this manner, as saith the same apostle elsewhere, "According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Tit. 3:5).

http://www.qhpress.org/texts/barclay/apology/prop7.html

I Corinthians 6:11. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (NRSV)

Titus 3:5. he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (NRSV)

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I'm not entirely sure why I am posting this here. I have had my nose in Robert Barclay lately. And I'm also aware of Quaker conversations here and elsewhere which lay claim to "what early Quakers believed" without specific reference. So I want to begin with the triggering text. And then hold forth my thoughts/opinions from there.

My response to this proposition:

It is interesting to me that Barclay attributes justification not to those who "obey the Light" but to those who "resist not this Light". So my question here would be, can we say that Barclay considers "justification" to be the norm and not the exception to the norm?

It seems to me that the main thrust of this proposition as it is here stated is that our righteousness before God is not "imputed" (as the Calvinists would say). For a good Calvinist of his era justification and sanctification were in large measure separate processes. You were justified (deemed righteous) and then you set out on a process of sanctification (becoming righteous). It seems here that the process is one and the same. No we are not deemed righteous by our works, but by "Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his works in us" which in turn results in our righteous behaviour but not "wrought in our will".

On your first question I personally thing that "justification" is not the norm because for some reason we have a natural tendency to resist (it might be a survival thing necessary for survival after the "fall" - not necessarily wrong, just something that gives us pause to consider consequences)

On your second query we have to separate the material us (our bodies and their activities in the material world we presently inhabit) and the spiritual us - the living soul made in the image of God.  Only at that point can we proceed with discussing the interrelationship of justification and sanctification and be talking about the same thing.  Of course there isn't agreement on the relationship of the material and spiritual so any further progress towards unified understanding comes to a halt.

That "justification is the norm" is me being speculative. The Christian family seems to proceed on the assumption all are lost except those who are saved. I'm detecting a universalist tone in this proposition that might be saying that all are saved except those who are lost. There are actually 2 questions here;  Were early Friends (like Barclay) universalists (and I suppose what sort) and do we agree with them?

On your spiritual/material stance:  I take for granted that the spiritual is enmeshed in the material and separation isn't humanly possible. The opposite to spiritual for me is not material but unspiritual.

I guess by definition all are lost except those who are saved.  The question is who are saved and as my Bible believing brethren argue constantly "once saved always saved?"

As for material/spiritual separation: what's impossible for man (humanly) is possible for God.  But seriously that is why Justification/Sanctification are difficult to discuss.  The conversation doesn't start from the same point.  Maybe definitions of material and spiritual would help.

Heb_4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

If Fox is "an early Friend" then we've got at least one of them who believed Christ would show up at least once in each person's life, make them an offer they couldn't refuse -- but if they did refuse it, they were out of luck, hopelessly in the dark.

Beyond Friends or even Christians, we've got Rabbi Shmelke (about 100 years after Fox) teaching that we should love even The Wicked because all souls are one. "Don't you know that the original soul came out of the essence of God, and that every human soul is a part of God? And will you have no mercy on Him, when you see that one of His holy sparks has been lost in a maze, and is almost stifled?"

Note -- he says, "almost stifled." Is a Christian supposed to be less Christian than this, and imagine that God ever drops one of us? 

We're talking about the so-called "day of visitation". I think early Quakers — Berkeley is in the same camp as Fox on this one — used that belief (that salvation is a limited time offer) to create a sense of urgency for witness. I don't so much deny the doctrine as find and not terribly helpful. This is because the law of love requires that I take for granted that the other person's day of visitation hasn't passed yet. Donald Trump may yet come around! (No matter how unlikely that seems to the logic-centres in my brain)



Forrest Curo said:

If Fox is "an early Friend" then we've got at least one of them who believed Christ would show up at least once in each person's life, make them an offer they couldn't refuse -- but if they did refuse it, they were out of luck, hopelessly in the dark.

So if we're looking for proof texts for my enmeshment theory. Hebrews actually works! It would imply that soul and spirit are two separate things for example.


My own a biblical go-to would be the creation story. God fashioned a clay image and breathed into it and it became a living soul. I take that to mean that a "living soul" is a matter infused with the breath of God (spirit). When we die the body returns to dust and the spirit returns to God. The soul — the dynamic union of the two — is gone in the same way a fist disappears when you open your hand.


That becomes problematic for those of us who want an afterlife. The early Christian witness offers us an option: resurrection. The gospel texts surrounding the resurrection take great pains to show that while somehow Jesus was transformed in the resurrection he was not simply a ghost (a spirit).

James C Schultz said:

Heb_4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

If you think of this in terms of a mathematical proposition you're right. All are lost except those who are saved is pretty much the same as all are saved except those who are lost. If you recognize all of this is a metaphor than there is a significant difference in emphasis between the two.

Barclay takes great pains to contend that the redeeming Light is present in all of us calling us to a life of obedient response to the God revealed in that Light. And the response to this light does not require an outward knowledge of the Christian story — though that outward knowledge can be a help.

The question "who is saved?" is then those who hear and respond. As they hear and respond the witness of the light in their lives grow stronger to the point where they lose the inclination to disobey. This is the process of salvation-justification-salvation.



James C Schultz said:

I guess by definition all are lost except those who are saved.  The question is who are saved and as my Bible believing brethren argue constantly "once saved always saved?"

Suppose that the soul returns to God for possible recycling -- but that being "saved" comes down to something like saving a file?

I remember one time asking God, how come I don't remember anything about past lives? What came in response was the thought: "Maybe you didn't do anything worth remembering."

So long as we're just rough drafts, only the parts we ['God&us'] got right would be reused...

This brings me back again to a more recent notion, that we+God are working on a functional Divine/human interface, ie a way of living together in which eternal life can be a good thing.

God made man in His image.  The Soul is thus a triune being.  Personally I believe it consists of the Mind, the heart and the spirit.  But that's just my understanding that works for me in finding unity in the books of the Bible.

David McKay said:

When we die the body returns to dust and the spirit returns to God. The soul — the dynamic union of the two — is gone in the same way a fist disappears when you open your hand.

I agree with all my heart.  A big advantage of knowing the Christian story is there's less anxiety and fear that you are going crazy. :)

"Barclay takes great pains to contend that the redeeming Light is present in all of us calling us to a life of obedient response to the God revealed in that Light. And the response to this light does not require an outward knowledge of the Christian story — though that outward knowledge can be a help."

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