Happenings of the Hamlin Household
Is it a statement or merely a listing of catechism quotes that just nick the tip of the iceberg to encourage further research? I'd expect a statement to be meatier and actually proved by Scripture, for it is infallible and the catechisms they use are fallible. So maybe it's a whole lot of nothing.Something also struck me as strange...it opens with "The Reformation doctrine of justification", are they implying then that this doctrine was new to the Reformers and not held by the earlier church? It's semantics maybe, but it's that kind of statement that will leave them open for attack.
It does seem kind of sparse, so I think you're right on that. However, they did say that "As the faculty of Westminster Seminary California we believe that we must issue this testimony especially in relation to those who claim to be Reformed in their attack on the Reformation doctrine of justification and who claim to uphold the teaching of the Reformed confessions." So I think that the Reformed confessions are aimed at them (those who claim to be Reformed). I still think that the testimony of those in the church who have been given the charge of protecting the sheep matters, in and of itself. In thinking about this, I have sought (and am seeking) the wisdom of those who have to give account of my soul. These men are also united in their confession, and even though they, as the confessions and catechisms and church as a whole, are fallible, their statement still commands our respect.I think when people talk of the "Reformation doctrine of justification" they are just referring to the fact that that was when it was clearly defined, as someone might refer to the Nicene doctrine of Christ's humanity and divinity. This would not imply that the doctrine did not exist beforehand.
"This would not imply that the doctrine did not exist beforehand."I think a seminary like this would do well to show us evidence that it did exist beforehand, since nobody but the Reformed seem to think so.
Again, you are complaining that they have not done in this statement what they have not tried or needed to do. This is not their intent. It could be that they have approached the historicity of the doctrine in other situations, however. If this is troubling to you, why don't you try contacting one of the professors, maybe even a professor of church history?Have you looked at James Buchanan's book on justification? While it's not the end-all on the history of the doctrine, it is valuable in that regard, and it is the classic book on justification. However, I know that it is very possible that you have already read this book. In that case, if you are not satisfied, I would try asking a teaching elder or asking them to refer you to someone so that you can find primary sources.
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