The Alleged Necessity* of Christ’s Divine Nature, continued
(*for his merit)
The authors of MM claim that, in contrast with Adam’s “covenant merit,” only Christ’s merit qualifies as “strict merit.” This is because Christ’s merit is inherently infinite due to his divine nature. Here is how they put it:
For a work to be truly and properly meritorious, it must: (1) be absolutely perfect; and (2) be performed by one who is ontologically equal with God (i.e., infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being). Adam could satisfy the first condition, as he was created in original righteousness. But only Jesus Christ could satisfy the second, since he is both true man and true God, being the same in substance and equal with the Father (MM 106).
According to the authors of MM, only a divine being that is ontologically equal with God (i.e., infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being) can perform a work that is properly meritorious. By definition, the verb “to merit” is one that only God can be the subject of. Put more simply, only God can merit.
But if only God can merit, what does that say about their doctrine of God? In a proper doctrine of God, God is not a moral creature, bound under a covenant of works, and obligated to yield obedience to his own moral standard. He is the standard. He does not need to proffer obedience to his own standard, pass a probationary test, be deemed righteous, and merit a reward. To say God, as God, can obey his own standard and merit a reward from himself is to compromise the aseity and utter self-sufficiency of God. The very concept of obedience to the law and its consequent reward-ableness (i.e., merit) is applicable only to creatures made in God’s image under the law as a covenant of works. As the Westminster Confession teaches:
God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. (WCF II.2)
The authors of MM have argued that meriting is something only God can do because only God is ontologically infinite. But this compromises the aseity and self-sufficiency of God. Thus, not only do the authors of MM seem to be operating with some questionable Christological assumptions, they also seem to have a defective doctrine of God.
This wraps up my response to their second argument under the topic of the merit of Christ. Their first argument was that the Republication Paradigm cannot affirm the necessity of Christ’s perfect obedience for his merit. That was based on a simple misunderstanding and so it was easily dispatched in a single post. Their second argument was that the Republication Paradigm cannot affirm the necessity of Christ’s divine nature for his merit. This was a little more challenging to respond to, and it took me seven posts to work through, beginning with this one. In my next post, I’ll turn to their third argument regarding the merit of Christ, namely, that the Republication Paradigm diminishes the singular glory of Christ’s meritorious obedience.