Heidelberg 114: Between Moralism And Antinomianism (1)

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:

Judged by the mainstream of Reformed theology and particularly by confession of by the Reformed Churches, Richard Baxter (1615–91) was not Reformed. Remarkably, because many are not aware of what Baxter taught about the central issue of the Reformation, the article by which the church stands or falls. They know him as a reformer of pastoral ministry, as an advocate of catechesis, home visitation, and of a vigorous piety. Many contemporary evangelical and Reformed folk do not Baxter as, e.g., John Owen (1616–83) knew him as a moralist, i.e., as one who rejected the Protestant, evangelical doctrine of justification. Think of him as the Norman Shepherd or N. T. Wright of his day. Owen knew Baxter to be a moralist. Baxter wanted Christians to be good but he was not satisfied with the Protestant, evangelical, and Reformed teaching that the same Savior who justifies sinners by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide) will sanctify them sola gratia, sola fide. He was not satisfied with the doctrine that good works are nothing but the fruit and evidence of justification salvation. He was not satisfied with the confession of the Westminster Assembly that “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 35). He was not satisfied with the confession of the Reformed churches:...

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