The Gospel Coalition

Carl Trueman, reacting to the news of Jason Stellman's abandonment of sola fide and sola Scriptura:
The problem with some of Machen's children is not that they are warriors. To accuse them of that would actually be to flatter them somewhat. Rather, it is that they have lost sight of Machen's (and Paul's, and, indeed, the Bible's) deepest concern, which was always the gospel and which concern was crystal clear in his life, his writings and his preaching.

From another part of his post:
When we identify the church with the gospel, it would seem to me that Rome is the natural outcome, since, for Rome, the church is, in effect, the gospel.

Talk of ecclesiology and Two Kingdoms has its place. But if Paul's emphases are to be respected, both are to be kept strictly subordinate, structurally and emphatically, to the gospel, the good news of what God has accomplished in Jesus Christ. My concern is that, when ecclesiology and 2K are all some people ever seem to talk about, the gospel is eclipsed or - even worse -- ecclesiology and 2K ideology become not adjuncts to and inferences of the gospel, but the very gospel itself.

You can read the rest here. It has something to offend just about everybody in Reformed circles, but the main point is something we all need to hear.


[...] Luther. But he is apparently not extreme about it, thus protecting his standing seemingly among the gospel’s co-allies. His is supposedly a moderate 2k despite his invocations of Marx, Nietzsche, and Led Zeppelin. This [...]

[...] But he is apparently not extreme about it, thus protecting his standing seemingly among the gospel’s co-allies. His is supposedly a moderate 2k despite his invocations of Marx, Nietzsche, and Led Zeppelin. This [...]

steve hays

June 7, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Actually, Hart is a perfect example of someone with a fanatically obsessive focus on 2-kingdoms ideology to the exclusion of so many other more important things. Steve Zrimec is another case in point.

They talk and talk and talk about spiritual priorities, but they spend the lion's share of their time attacking the good works of other Christians. Leafy, but fruitless.

The Hits Keep Coming

June 7, 2012 at 11:33 AM

[...] Luther. But he is apparently not extreme about it, thus protecting his standing seemingly among the gospel’s co-allies. His is supposedly a moderate 2k despite his invocations of Marx, Nietzsche, and Led Zeppelin. This [...]


June 7, 2012 at 08:17 AM

Dr Hart is right. I'm missing Trueman's point. I actually found Trueman's article poorly reasoned and thought out, and I am someone who normally appreciates what he writes.


June 7, 2012 at 06:16 AM

Justin, and what exactly is Trueman's "main" point? While you're aggregating, you want to boil it down for us? Or is this a case of Frame appreciation -- anytime someone agrees with your old professor, you want everyone else to hear it?

steve hays

June 6, 2012 at 08:53 AM

For a 2k proponent who thinks his side needs to seriously consider Trueman's charge, see:

Trueman didn't name names, but D. G. Hart is clearly someone with a myopic focus on 2k issues.

mark mcculley

June 6, 2012 at 03:43 PM

It might be a better use of time for Reformed or Gospel Coalition folks to look at Jason Stillman's understanding of law and grace in the gospel and then ask themselves what they have in common with Stillman's written comments.

Romans 6:14–”for sin shall not have the dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace.” I read that as saying that sin shall not reign over a justified person, because that person is justified.

Jason Stillman (Dual Citizens, Reformation Trust, 2009) suggests that such a reading is a non-answer. I quote from p 143: “According to this view, under law means under the condemnation of God’s moral law, and under grace speaks of the deliverance from this condition. Some problems arise from this view…. When Paul spoke to those saints in the churches of Galatia who desired to be under the law, was he talking to people who longed to be under the condemnation of the law? When Paul wrote that Jesus was born under the law, did he mean that Christ was born under the condemnation of the law? “

Stilman continues: “Furthermore, if under law and under grace are existential categories describing an individual’s condemnation or justification, then Paul’s argument is a non-sequiter. It is not justification but sanctification that frees us from the dominion of the sin.”

Stillman’s reading of Romans 6 is common to many Reformed and Gospel Coalition folks today. They tell us that “freed from sin” in Romans 6:7 cannot mean “justified from sin” because Romans chapter six is about sanctification and not about justification.

We need to pay attention to Stillman’s two questions about Romans 6:14. First he asks a questions about Galatians: “When Paul was warning the Galatians,were the false teachers wanting to be under condemnation?”

I think Paul’s answer was that the Galatian false teachers were under condemnation. If you go their way, Christ will be of no profit to you. The gospel does not tell people that they WANT TO be damned. The gospel says that THEY WILL be damned if their trust in anything else but Christ’s death (and resurrection) for the elect. That death (and resurrection) alone, apart from our works enabled by the Spirit is the gospel.

Stillman’s second question about Galatians—-”When Paul wrote that Jesus was born under the law, did he mean that Christ was born under the condemnation of the law? My answer is yes. Gal 4:4: born of the law to redeem those under the law cannot mean only that Christ was born under the jurisdiction of Moses to get Jews free from that jurisdiction. Of course jewish bondage under the law is in view, but it’s part of the more basic pattern of all humans being condemned by the “curse of the law”.(Gal 3:13) .

Yes, Christ was born under the condemnation of God and God’s law. To see this, we need to attend to the first part of Romans 6 before we rush to the second part and conclude that it has to be about a sanctification that makes it just for God to justify the ungodly. Romans 6:10 says that “the death Christ died He died to sin”.

Before we jump to the redemptive historical complexity of union with the death (when? Before the ages? Two thousand years ago? At imputation? Before or after faith?), we need to focus on Christ’s death to sin. Does Christ’s death to sin mean that Christ was unregenerate and then positionally cleansed by the Holy Spirit? God forbid.

Does Christ’s death to sin mean that Christ became corrupt fallen flesh but then later was “infused” with the divine nature? Again, God forbid.

Does Christ’s death to sin mean that Christ by being in the environment of the world and of the old covenant age needed a deliverance from “the flesh” and from the physical body? Once more, God forbid.

What does it mean that Christ died to sin? It means that the law of God demanded death for the sins of the elect imputed to Christ. As long as those sins were imputed to Christ, He was under sin, he was under law, He was under death.

Now death has no more power over Christ? Why? Because the sins are no longer imputed to Him, but have been paid for and satisfied. The gospel is not only about God justifying, but also about God being
justified when God justifies.

mark mcculley

June 6, 2012 at 03:33 PM

I write not as a confessional Protestant but as a credobaptist who cares mostly about the gospel of Christ's effectual death for the elect alone. I write in protest against the slander in the comment above about DG Hart. In my limited dialogue with Hart on his "old life" blog, I have seen him very concerned about the priority of justification and forensic righteousness in the gospel.

First, my experience is only with what's written on the blog, and I know that Hart is an elder in a gospel church, and would presumably does not talk there only about the "2k vs Schaeffer/Colson worldview" topic. Second, even at his blog, Hart has often challenged the confusions of current language about "union with Christ" and what that means for the gospel.

As I said, I am a credobaptist. I don't know these people, either Hart or Trueman. But I don't like the fact that Trueman has made accusations against a group of un-named people. Now, he can take the pose that says---I am merely warning myself that I can be like Jason Stellman, more hung up on formality than the gospel, and so I was just giving a caution to all of us, not accusing anybody.

But what Trueman wrote does not feel like that to me. There is an "other" in the subtext, and it didn't take long for Hart's name to come up in your comments.

As an outsider to confessional Protestantism, who nevertheless has learned things from both Hart and Trueman (see Trueman's wonderful response to Allan Clifford's accusations about John Owen needing to teach eternal justification to be conistent) I really don't know what's going on here.

Is Hart not welcome to teach at Westminster East because his 2k view refuses to call George Washington a Christian? Or is Hart forbidden to teach at Westminster West because he dares to challenge the John Murray/Norman Shepherd/ Richard Gaffin view of the non-priority of justification in the gospel.

I don't know. But I wonder who it helps when gospel coalition folks help make these suggestions about un-named Confessional Protestants, because one person (Stillman) has been honest enough to confess his apostasy from the Westminster Confession.

Stan H.

June 5, 2012 at 08:17 PM

Stellman responded in the blog comments at Green Baggins to Trueman's charges:

Hi everyone,

I obviously can’t interact here at length, but I did want to point out that the many attempts people have made to trace the trajectory from where I was to where I am now have been mostly amusing and somewhat silly (especially Trueman’s, since he doesn’t even know me). Apparently it was either my inculcation with Thomism at WSCA, or the Leithart trial, or my high churchmanship, or my earlier low churchmanship at Calvary Chapel, that are to be blamed for this whole thing.

I am quite sure that any member of Exile would be surprised to hear that 2K theology was the end-all be-all of my preaching ministry (in fact, the “sermons” that Trueman linked to weren’t even sermons, they were lectures given several years ago).

Unless they’ve been removed, all the sermons I preached at Exile are all available for public consumption, and anyone who cares to listen will find almost nothing about the two kingdoms anywhere.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to figure out how to change that WordPress avatar….

Church Chair Guy

June 5, 2012 at 07:21 PM

Carl Trueman always is original and challenging! Thanks.