RENEWAL: The terms "renew," "renewing" occur in the English New Testament only in the epistles (Paul and Hebrews) where they give expression to a wide conception which embraces the entire subjective side of salvation. This they represent as a work of God issuing in a wholly new creation (II Cor. v. 17; Gal. vi. 15; Eph. ii. 10). The absence of these terms from the Gospels does not argue the absence of the thing expressed by them. In point of fact it is taught throughout Scripture that man has by his sin not merely incurred the Divine condemnation but also corrupted his own heart, and needs therefore for his recovery not merely, objectively, pardon, but, subjectively, purification; neither of which can he have except by a work of God. In the Old Testament the sin of our first parents is represented as no more inculpating than corrupting, and all that are born of woman are declared to be corrupt from the womb (Job xv. 14-16; Ps. li. 5). It is God alone who can "turn" a man "a new heart" (I Sam. x. 9; Ps. li. 10) and the saints rest on the divine promise that he will do so (Deut. xxx. 6; Jer. xxxi: 33; Ezek. xxxvi. 26). Jesus began his ministry as the dispenser of the Spirit, and his distinction lay precisely in the fact that his baptism with the Spirit works the inner purification which the baptism of John only symbolized. Accordingly he teaches expressly that the kingdom of God is not for the children of the flesh but the children of the Spirit (John iii. 3), and everywhere he presupposes that the corrupt tree of human nature must be first cleansed before good fruit can be expected of it (Matt. vii. 17). The broad treatment of such a theme characteristic of the Gospels gives way measurably in the epistles, where discriminations of aspects and stages begin to show themselves. The stress continues to be laid, however, on the main points, that man is dead in sin and is vitalized to righteousness only by a creative work of the Holy Spirit in his heart.
The church has retained, on the whole, with considerable constancy the essential elements of this Biblical teaching. In all types of historical Christianity the teaching is persistent that salvation consists in its substance of a radical subjective change wrought by the Holy Spirit. By virtue of this change, the tendencies to evil native to man as fallen are progressively eradicated and holy dispositions are implanted, nourished, and perfected. The most direct contradiction which this teaching has received in the history of Christian thought was that given it by Pelagius at the opening of the fifth century. Asserting the inalienable ability of the will to do all righteousness, Pelagius necessarily denied that man had been subjectively injured by sin or needed subjective divine operations for his perfecting. The vigorous reassertion by Augustine of the necessity of subjective grace for the doing of good put pure Pelagianism once for all outside the pale of recognized Christian teaching. In more or less modified forms, however, it has persisted as a wide-spread tendency conditioning the purity of the supernaturalism of salvation which is confessed.
The strong emphasis laid by the Reformers on the fundamental doctrine of justification threw the objective side of salvation into such prominence that its subjective side, which was not in dispute between them and their most immediate opponents, seemed to pass temporarily out of sight. Occasion was taken, if not given, to represent it as neglected if not denied. In the first generation of the Reformation movement, men of mystical tendency like Osiander reproached the Protestant teaching as if it recognized only an external salvation. The reproach was eminently unjust. With all the emphasis which Protestant theology lays on justification by faith as the central fact of salvation, it has never failed to lay equal stress on regeneration as its root and sanctification as its crown. Least of all can the Reformed theology with its insistence upon "total depravity" and "irresistible grace" be justly accused of failure to give its rights to the great fact of supernatural "renewal." In its view justifying faith is itself the gift of God; operating subjectively upon the soul, and as justification thus issues out of a subjective effect wrought in the soul by God, so it issues into a subjective effect, the sanctification of the soul through the indwelling Spirit.
The debate at this point of the Protestant system with that of Rome does not concern the necessity or the reality of the cleansing of the soul from sinful tendencies and dispositions, but the relation of this cleansing operation to the reception of the sinner into the divine favor. Protestant theology insists that God does not wait until we deserve his favor before he is gracious to us; it feels that if that were so, our doom were sealed. In its view God first receives us into his favor and then makes us worthy of it. This is commonly given expression in the formula that justification underlies sanctification, and sanctification is a consequence of a precedent justification. But Protestant theology has never imagined that the sinner could get along with justification alone. It has rejoiced in the provision of the Gospel for relieving the soul of its intolerable weight of guilt and condemnation. But it has rejoiced equally in the provision made for relieving the soul of its intolerable burden of corruption and pollution. If it has refused to think of salvation as grounded in our holiness, it has equally refused to think of it as issuing in anything else but holiness. However far off the perfecting of this holiness may seem to be removed, it has never been willing to discover the substance of salvation in anything other than a perfected holiness.
BENJAMIN B. WARFIELD.