Dei Viā Regiā: The Westminster Divine Anthony Tuckney On The Necessity Of Works For Salvation -- By: Ryan M. Hurd

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 81:1 (Spring 2019)
Article: Dei Viā Regiā: The Westminster Divine Anthony Tuckney On The Necessity Of Works For Salvation
Author: Ryan M. Hurd


Dei Viā Regiā: The Westminster Divine Anthony Tuckney On The Necessity Of Works For Salvation

Ryan M. Hurd

Ryan M. Hurd is an author and editor with a particular interest in systematics. He also translates Latin theological works mainly from the early modern period. He lives in Grand Rapids, MI.

The question of the necessity of good works has deep bearing on soteriology, whether the explanation is held to distinguish from Roman Catholic teaching or the teaching of, for example, Antinomians. In his Praelectiones theologicae, Anthony Tuckney—an important Westminster divine—presents a careful articulation of one way of explaining the necessity of good works that sits well within the Reformed tradition. By this account, Tuckney argues that good works are necessary as the royal way walked to God.

Anthony Tuckney wrote, “[Good works] have the relation of order, such as a means have to an end, an antecedent to a consequent, a cause sine qua non to its effect, but they are not the cause properly efficient of salvation, either keeping it, as some want, much less effecting it either physically or morally—i.e., acquiring it meritoriously.”1 Thus Tuckney summarizes his answer as to whether works are necessary for salvation.

It seems appropriate to give away the end at the beginning, for Tuckney’s discussion of the question is tight, complex, and perhaps pedantic. Indeed, Letham has called it a “sophisticated discussion”—accurate, if not understated.2 Nevertheless, Tuckney’s discussion is a fine, careful treatment of the issue, one which, unfortunately, to this point has received no attention. Further, his larger work in which the question occurs, his Praelectiones theologicae, has likewise received very little treatment, perhaps because it is yet untranslated. The purpose of the present work is to trace and elucidate Tuckney’s argument therein regarding the necessity of good works. As a Westminster Divine heavily involved

in drafting the Standards, Tuckney contributes an expanded perspective on the debates of the Assembly and its work. While the Standards themselves will not be considered here, this article should lay the groundwork to expand current Reformed discussion on the necessity of good works, specifically for those wishing to remain confessionally bound by the authors’ intentions in the Standards.

We will begin with a brief overview of Tuckney and his work at Westminster. Then, we will proceed through the status controversiae, distinctiones, and solutiones, and finally...

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