Is There a Future Justification by Works at the Day of Judgment? # 10

by | Apr 30, 2010 | Systematic Theology

I interrupt this response to Lee Irons to comment on one of the several responses to my eighth blog on this subject.  I was unable to respond at the time because I was overwhelmed with various conference ministries.  Since Brandon Adams’ comments raise an interesting issue, I provide my response here.

Brandon responded  by indicating that there is a contradiction between what John Murray affirms in his Collected Writings 2:221 and what he affirms in his Romans commentary on Romans 2:6 at 1:62-63.  Having investigated the matter, I discover that Brandon seems to be correct.  That is, Murray’s lecture on justification contained in the Collected Writings affirms that works only have to do with the degree of reward in glory, while in his Romans commentary he affirms that the judgment by works which has the twin consequences of eternal life and wrath is not hypothetical.  I see no way to evade the fact of some contradiction between the two statements.

In re-reading Murray’s lecture on justification I also noticed another possible contradiction between the Romans commentary and the lecture in the CW.  Cf. his statement with regard to justification not having reference to the once-for-all reconciliation of the elect at the cross in his lecture (CW 2:203) with his statement that it is possible in Romans 5:9-10 that it does refer to what happened at the cross in Romans 5:9-10 (RC 1:170).  Just to be clear, I happen to think that Murray is probably wrong about the use and application of justification in Romans 5:9-10, but again I do not see how to make these two statements consistent.

How does this affect my argument that Murray does not hold the hypothetical view of Romans 2:13?  It does not, I think, affect it at all.  The question has to do with the exegesis of Romans 2:13, and on this point his statements in the comentary are explicit.  Let me add that I think a good argument could be made that the Romans commentary contains Murray’s more mature and definitive thoughts.  This is so for two reasons.  First, as Iain Murray notes in his introduction to CW 2 (vi-ix) Murray resisted appeals to publish the class lectures from which the article on justification in CW 2 is taken.  It seems clear, then, that his commentary which he wrote for publication should be given some precedence over the lecture in CW 2.  Also the commentary was published in 1959 only 7 years before his retirement from Westminster in 1966.  The lecture likely dates from much earlier in his tenure at Westminster where he taught systematic theology from 1930.

I appreciate Brandon bringing this to my attention.

Category: Systematic Theology


Brandon Adams on May 3, 2010 12:10pm

Thanks for looking into this Dr. Waldron. I have to say, I wish the weight fell on his statement in his Collected Writings. I am curious what Reymond thinks of the issue, since he quoted both as together articulating his own view.

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