PCA Study Committee Report

The PCA Study Committee Report is available here.

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336 Comments

  1. April 25, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    This is good:

    IV. Declarations

    In light of the controversy surrounding the NPP and FV, and after many months of careful study, the committee unanimously makes the following declarations:

    1.The view that rejects the bi-covenantal structure of Scripture as represented in the Westminster Standards (i.e., views which do not merely take issue with the terminology, but the essence of the first/second covenant framework) is contrary to those Standards.

    2.The view that an individual is “elect” by virtue of his membership in the visible church; and that this “election” includes justification, adoption and sanctification; but that this individual could lose his “election” if he forsakes the visible church, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

    3.The view that Christ does not stand as a representative head whose perfect obedience and satisfaction is imputed to individuals who believe in him is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

    4.The view that strikes the language of “merit” from our theological vocabulary so that the claim is made that Christ’s merits are not imputed to his people is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

    5.The view that “union with Christ” renders imputation redundant because it subsumes all of Christ’s benefits (including justification) under this doctrinal heading is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

    6.The view that water baptism effects a “covenantal union” with Christ through which each baptized person receives the saving benefits of Christ’s mediation, including regeneration, justification, and sanctification, thus creating a parallel soteriological system to the decretal system of the Westminster Standards, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

    7.The view that one can be “united to Christ” and not receive all the benefits of Christ’s mediation, including perseverance, in that effectual union is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

    8.The view that some can receive saving benefits of Christ’s mediation, such as regeneration and justification, and yet not persevere in those benefits is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

    9.The view that justification is in any way based on our works, or that the so-called “final verdict of justification” is based on anything other than the perfect obedience and satisfaction of Christ received through faith alone, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

  2. Kevin said,

    April 26, 2007 at 12:57 am

    Unfortunately the FVers are still in a state of denial; they insist that the report doesn’t mean what it clearly states. Somehow holding views that are declared “contrary to the Westminster Standards” is acceptable to them, despite their ordination vows; and Horne reduces the “declarations” of this report to mere “suggestions.”

    See the following:

    http://www.hornes.org/mark/?p=1289

  3. markhorne said,

    April 26, 2007 at 7:24 am

    ???

  4. April 26, 2007 at 8:17 am

    Kevin
    We are going to have to give Mark time to recover from the anxiety attack that almost crushed the life out of him while he was waiting with baited breath for the PCA report to come out. There are those of us who remember that when the committee was announced Mark was none to happy and let slip some very unflattering remarks about some of the men selected. Granted, his comments were not as bad as the ones he used to recently describe Meredith Kline, Scott Clark and yours truly, but considering all the strain he has been under ( did he fear that the committee was going to send armed undercover agents to his house?) I propose we give him a special dispensation until he has had a time to convalescence.

  5. Tim Wilder said,

    April 26, 2007 at 8:21 am

    The Report is too narrow both in it consideration of sources and influences and in limiting the content of the Federal Vision. Where is the discussion of the role of ritualism?

    Also it would have been useful to distinguish the view of the Auburn Avenue speakers, which include people like Schlissel, from a more tightly knit Federal Vision theology.

  6. Keith LaMothe said,

    April 26, 2007 at 8:35 am

    It would be interesting to see which of those 9 in-conflict-with-the-standards doctines named in the Declarations section are actually believed by each of the FV pastors. That’s not to say there wouldn’t be any matches (7 sounds pretty accurate).

  7. Todd said,

    April 26, 2007 at 8:48 am

    “a time to convalescence”

    When you’re gonna try sarcasm, it’s important to keep your grammar straight.

  8. Todd said,

    April 26, 2007 at 8:57 am

    Keith suspects that #7 will be the most-direct hit. Sounds right.

    However, check out the way Grover Gunn, a member of the committee, is able to write when he’s discussing John 15:

    “In one sense, the non-elect are in Christ while they are members of the covenant community in history. In another deeper, more significant sense, they are never really a part of God’s people.”

    Union with Christ for the NECM? Gunn says yes and no.

    And Romans 11: “All the branches partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree. For the non-elect, this refers to the common operations of the Spirit which enable them to stand by faith for a time.”

    http://www.grovergunn.net/andrew/corpind.htm

  9. April 26, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Gee, Todd you really need to calm down- I typed ‘to’ instead of ‘for’- you’ve never done that? I know that Mark has( he corrected his slip ‘plane’ to ‘plain’)-I don’t get upset when that happens- but, I suspect there is a litte bit of resentment here.

  10. Todd said,

    April 26, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Gary, it’s just that I was enjoying your post until the jolt at the end. Anti-climax.

  11. April 26, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Todd
    All is forgiven-I am glad we can be friends again.

  12. Tim Wilder said,

    April 26, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Maybe we can help Mark out. He is supposed to say something like this:

    “I am convinced the the decretal theology of the Confession captures something of the Scriptural teaching of the justification, but considered only in itself it is woefully sub-biblical. Theological discussions based only on Confessional definitions consist of some decontextualized prooftexts loosely strung together by a rather abstract theological theory and fall far short of the rich and multifaceted story that the Scriptures present us with. Although I am persuaded of the truth of the Confessional ideas, I have also come to realize that Confessional rhetoric often merely masks a lack of receptive engagement with Scripture. Thus while I can subscribe the the Confessions, that does not replace the need for teaching in a way that is governed by the meaning of the Scriptural vocabulary in the original Biblical context.”

  13. Keith LaMothe said,

    April 26, 2007 at 10:14 am

    It would also be interesting to see which of those 9 doctrines (if any) were held by members of the Westminster Assembly, or by Calvin and other Reformed fathers.

    3 and 4 sound like possibilities, though I don’t know enough to say whether they equate to any side of the intra-Westminster debate on the imputation of Christ’s active obedience.

  14. markhorne said,

    April 26, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    I said the committee was utterly stacked. It was. Do you really find that unflattering, Gary? I don’t think you do.

    I questioned Kevin’s statement, “they insist that the report doesn’t mean what it clearly states. Somehow holding views that are declared “contrary to the Westminster Standards” is acceptable to them, despite their ordination vows; and Horne reduces the “declarations” of this report to mere “suggestions.”

    As I wrote, the word “suggest” was used in the report itself. Other than that I wrote: “I’m not saying this ends all disagreement. The committee (admirably softly) wants to “suggest” that men are outside the system of doctrine of the Westminster standards who I believe are well within it.”

    The report showed restraint but I expressed fundamental disagreement with it.

    So what am I denying?

    I was glad the report acknowledge us as brothers in Christ. Still am. I also still disagree with the report.

    You seem to be reading what you want me to write, rather than what I wrote.

  15. April 27, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Mark
    You said alot more than that about the committee and you know you did.What I find personally amazing Mark, is the remarks over on your blog about the Report’s strong affirmation of the bi-covenantal framework of the Confession- which you declare is not to be confused with the false view of Kline. How about the position that you have gone on record defending- the position of Norman Shepherd- which is clearly incongruent with what the Report says. If I read the Report correctly it identified very clearly the areas where the views of the NPP and FV are NOT in harmony with the WS ( areas by the way that parallel the ones that Guy Waters likewise highlighted) and as such will not be tolerated in the denomination. The Report’s willingness to recognize that ministers in the PCA who hold the views associated with the NPP and the FV as brothers in Christ should not be read as saying that such men are not going to find themselves in hot water for holding such views. That you would think otherwise Mark ,is very naive.

  16. markhorne said,

    April 27, 2007 at 9:30 am

    You are again imputing view to me of the committee report which I never claimed and do not believe. What I wrote about an early paragraph in a report, that I am still working through, was obviously true. (At least, that’s what I think. You could always tell me I’ve misunderstood the report or Klineanism and show me how and I could retract my evaluation.)

    I said I appreciated being called a brother. What does that have to do with any issue you have raised? I was amazed by the expressing and wrongly expected something else. I’m glad I was wrong and felt obligated to acknowledge the fact. What has that to do with anything else? Why are you bringing up all this as if I was claiming otherwise?

    I know I said the committee was stacked. I know you are willing to accuse me without evidence. Other than that, I know nothing relevant. I may easily have forgotten, but since what I have written is certainly available for the public record, you could easily quote it back to me and jog my memory.

  17. markhorne said,

    April 27, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Ack. Not “expressing” but expression. I was amazed by the expression of brotherhood.

  18. April 27, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Mark
    I appreciate your willingness to admit you misjudged the committee out of the gate and that you were expecting the worst, and were pleasently surprized that the report saw fit not to use the ‘H’ word to descibe the NPP and the FV ( memo to all concerned: I have not used the ‘H’ word in this discussion at any time).However, if I were in your shoes, I would see this report as the writing on the wall, meaning: my FV views will not allow me to remain any longer in this denomination. I should, as the reports says, make clear to my presbytery that I cannot in good conscience remain in the PCA and will seek to transfer my credentials elsewhere. That is what I would do. What are you going to do?

  19. markhorne said,

    April 27, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Wait and see.

  20. April 27, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Mark
    Oh, I forgot to tell you what I would NOT do if I were in your shoes: (1) Ignore the Report. After all ,this thing has no binding authority- it can only make recommendations. Besides, it is a well know fact that he men on this committee were prediposed to be anti-FV in the first place. I just continue spreading my FV views in open defiance to the Report.(2) Covertly work to form a fifth colume inside the PCA with a view to either getting a sizeable number of churches to support the acceptance of our views or splitting the denomination down the road in order to establish the FPC-’The Federal Presbyterian Church’. All of this would be dishonorable and not something that men of high personal integrity would ever consider doing.

  21. markhorne said,

    April 27, 2007 at 11:24 am

    “Fifth columns” are clandestine. Please knock off you filthy insinuations.

  22. N Harper said,

    April 27, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    The study report serves as both a spiritual report card and a final exam for the denomination. It reveals that this denomination after a mere 30 years has failed miserably on nine counts in contending for the faith and has fallen so quickly away from her first love. The report’s recommendations will be the final and true test of leadership in the PCA. Will sessions and presbyteries go the way of the apostles or the apostates? The line in the sand has been drawn. We will watch and pray.

    When the report refers to those leaders who teach contrary to the WS as brethren, the question I have to raise is, brethren of what? Brethren of an ecclesiastical country club with the good ‘ole boy politics, seeking after the praises of men? If that is the case, I would heartily agree.

    This report should bring us to our knees – it should break our hearts that our leadership has sunk so low, dragging whole churches and presbyteries into apostasy. And, it should cause us to intercede for our so-called “brethren” – to pray in the Holy Spirit for the salvation of their souls.

  23. Keith LaMothe said,

    April 27, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    N Harper,

    Then you are formally anathematizing those pastors (among others) which hold to FV doctrines? This would include Wilkins, Leithart, and other not with the PCA like Lusk and Wilson.

  24. Andy Gilman said,

    April 27, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Mark Horne said:

    “I said I appreciated being called a brother.”

    Maybe I haven’t been following this argument carefully enough. Who has been saying that the FV advocates are not brothers?

    I also don’t understand why Gary and others are reluctant to use the “H” word. If someone teaches, for example, that works are instrumental in justification, is this not heresy? I realize the FV advocates will argue that this is not their teaching, but if it is, is there a problem in saying that this teaching is heresy? The fact that someone embraces or teaches heresy, does not automatically disqualify them to be called “Christians.” There are vast numbers of Arminians out there in other denominations, embracing and teaching heresy with regard to election and predestination, but we still recognize them as brothers. Commenting on an aspect of Calvin’s views on civil government, R. J. Rushdoony said: “Such ideas, common in Calvinist and Lutheran circles, and in virtually all churches, are still heretical nonsense.” Institutes of Biblical Law, pg 9. Does that mean that Rushdoony was calling Calvin a non-Christian? I’m pretty sure he wasn’t.

    Heresy is “opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, esp. of a church or religious system.” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/heresy It seems to me that the FV certainly meets those criteria.

  25. Andy Gilman said,

    April 27, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    After posting my reply, I then saw the post of N. Harper, so now I have to revise my embarrasing question!

    Who among the well known critics of the FV has been saying that the FV advocates are not brothers?

  26. pduggan said,

    April 27, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    The NPP has been called “another gospel” on PCAnews, and Norman Shepherd has been accused of teaching one.

  27. Todd said,

    April 27, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    And what about the “May God have mercy on their souls” that kind of started it all?

  28. N Harper said,

    April 27, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Galatians 1:8-9

    Those are Paul the Apostle’s words, not mine.

  29. Todd said,

    April 27, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Neil, any more specific information about the FV furniture changes you were reporting on another thread?

  30. Keith LaMothe said,

    April 27, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    N Harper,

    May I take your quotation of the Apostle as your answer to my question?

    The Apostle did indeed formally pronounce anathema (the Greek word rendered as “eternally condemned” in that translation, if I remember correctly) against those false teachers who were teaching another “gospel” (which was no Gospel at all).

    However, he did not directly and explicitly (by name) apply those words to Wilkins, Leithart, etc. This doesn’t prove much because Paul was called home to his rewards many generations before those pastors were born, but it nonetheless stands that one cannot quote that passage as one’s sole case that those pastors are hell-bound. What if someone quoted it with reference to Ligon Duncan and R.C. Sproul?

    It is certainly conceivable (though I do not think it is so) that Wilkins and the others fall in the same category of people that Paul was talking about, but the case would have to be made using words not uttered by the Apostle.

    So, when you say that those are the Apostle’s words and not yours you are correct, but when you implicitly state that the FV pastors are under that same anathema it is your expression, not his.

  31. Keith LaMothe said,

    April 27, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    And, for what it’s worth, I think it would be appropriate to call a clear and obvious teaching that “God regenerates people because of their good works”, or something like that, heresy. Something like the Romanist “gospel”, for example.

    Arminian teaching and the like also falls under that label in another sense, but I don’t think we would consider Wesley a “heretic” in the usual sense of the term.

  32. Tim Wilder said,

    April 27, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    “REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO STUDY JUSTIFICATION IN LIGHT OF THE CURRENT JUSTIFICATION CONTROVERSY
    Presented to 258th Synod of the Reformed Church of the United States
    May 10-13, 2004″

    “Resolution 3: Therefore, we also resolve that the teachings of Norman Shepherd on justification by faith are another gospel and we admonish Rev. Shepherd and call on him to repent of his grievous errors.”

    “Resolution 4: That the Reformed Church in the United States recognize these Romish, Arminian, and Socinian errors for what they are and urge our brethren throughout the world to reject them and to refuse those who teach them.”

  33. N Harper said,

    April 27, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Keith,
    How is it possible to hold NINE views on the vital doctrine of justification – NINE views that are contrary to the Westminster Standards – without preaching another gospel?

    Do you realize what Paul is saying in this passage? He was ready to condemn HIMSELF if he ever preached another gospel! The purity of the Gospel was that important! Where in all this FV controversy do we see such zeal and loyalty to the precious glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ?

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousnes, so that the man of God my be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Are you trying to say that Scripture only applies to the specific audience it is addressed to – in this case, the Galatians? Do Paul’s words here concerning Scripture only apply to Timothy?

  34. April 28, 2007 at 6:48 am

    Mark
    You know, there are times when I almost like you ,and then you go and spoil it all by displaying your true colors. Your very vulturine remark about my ‘ fifthy insinuations’ actually confirms my suspicions.It served to show that my concerns about what FVers like you might do struck a nerve. Also, I have changed my mind. Upon further reflection I come to the conclusion that the FV positions identified by the PCA are in fact heretical.

  35. markhorne said,

    April 28, 2007 at 7:49 am

    Wouldn’t the insinuations refer to false accusations you make against me by warning me from them as if that were necessary? Couldn’t it really have insulted me? Or is “striking a nerve” the only possible explanation?

  36. April 28, 2007 at 9:36 am

    Mark
    Not only do you lack a sense of humor and the inability to put things in perspective, but you are constantly jumping to conclusions which makes you look like a hothead. This coupled with an unhealthy phobia -that borders on paranoia- that there is a grand conspiracy against you. I painted a couple of scenarios that can, and have ,occurred in ecclesiastical settings in the past- and you took offense, and launched into another of your displays of bellicosity. You know ,you ought to sit back and take inventory of the kind of speech that you have used just on this blog in reference to people who disagree with you-’flaming lie’, ‘hateful’, ‘sub-Christian’,’fifthy insinuation’, and this is only the beginning.

  37. N Harper said,

    April 28, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Todd #30
    Let’s put the furniture arrangement to rest. Check out:
    http://www.communitypca.org

    Read their liturgy and explanation. Get on a plane or in your car and go see for yourself. If they don’t go into hiding or leave for the CRE by then, you will discover a full blown presbytery-approved PCA cult, furniture and all.

  38. April 28, 2007 at 10:33 am

    N Harper
    You might remember what happened down in the Lousiana presbytery with the PCA Pastor Steele who was another hardcore supporter of the FV. He has since gone high Church Anglican. Bill Smith was also the one who called down on Guy Waters the judgment of God for writing the first critique of the FV.

  39. April 28, 2007 at 11:23 am

    N Harper,

    I went and looked at this site, http://www.communitypca.org. I am curious though, was I supposed to see some glaring form of heresy in their liturgy and on their website? Because if I was, I may need you help in pointing it out for me. It seems all that I saw there was first and confession of all the early catholic creeds, )which by the way all true historic christians should believe), and the Westminster Standards. And the liturgy seemed very Christ centered and focused on the grace of God in found in Christ. It struck me as very beautifully covenantal and biblical.

  40. Andy Gilman said,

    April 28, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Maybe I’m out to lunch on this, and I don’t pretend to understand the differences between “error,” “heresy,” and “damnable heresy,” but my earlier question had to do with the assertion that the critics of the FV have been, until now, characterizing the FV advocates as something other than “brothers in Christ.” Mark is relieved when the PCA report refers to the FV men as “brothers,” apparently because Mark believes that most of his critics do not consider him a Christian. I’m just wondering what he bases that on.

    I think the RCUS is right, and that Norman Shepherd’s teaching with regard to justification is “another gospel.” I’m also persuaded that the FV is “another gospel.” But for the most part I think the FV advocates have been seen by their critics as terribly deceived or mistaken brothers, who need to repent of their grievous errors. That’s how I see the RCUS’s admonishment and call to repentence of Norman Shepherd. Would a denomination call on someone to repent of his errors if it did not currently recognize him to be Christian? Now I’m not sure how long a man has to refuse to repent, before the “judgment of charity” ceases to apply, especially when the man you are calling on to repent is outside your own denomination and can’t be excommunicated.

    If the FV advocates within reformed denominations remain unrepentent, they will, hopefully, be removed from their pulpits and denied a platform to continue to propagate their errors; but even then, if they remain in the denominations from which they are defrocked, I doubt they would be denied communion, or excommunicated and treated like unbelievers, unless they continue to agitate for their errors, and insist on disturbing the peace of the church.

    But what should I think of a new denomination like the CREC? Do I consider them “brothers in Christ?” That’s a hard question. If I was on vacation and looking for a place to worship, I would now be careful to avoid a CREC church. Granted, if I had to choose between a Roman Catholic mass, a church where snake handling was practiced, and a CREC church, I would choose the CREC church; but more than likely I would not go to church that day. Maybe there are some CREC churches who will decide that the PCA, OPC, RCUS, RPCUS and others, are not all theological dufuses, and they will reassess their committment to the FV and cause the CREC to change course. I can’t say I’m hopeful of that happening. It’s a shame too, because these men are obviously very talented, and could be a great service to the church. When Doug Wilson’s humor and wit is turned on Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, I can’t enjoy it quite as much as I would were it not for this FV controversy.

  41. markhorne said,

    April 28, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    I think you’re mistaken Gary. I think I called some things for what they are and you’re portraying those statements as unfounded attacks and over-reactions, etc. All theoretically possible, but I don’t think that’s what happened.

    That’s for the record, but I offer no further argument. Feel free to take the last word. This has dragged on long enough–a situation for which I certainly bear some degree of responsibility.

  42. April 28, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Mark
    This whole thing has been difficult for both of us. Friendships have been torn asunder and damage done to people’s reputations on both sides of the fence. I know that I have been very upset with ,and terse in my response to FVers who sought to portray my friend and collegue, Guy Waters, as this sinister figure lurking in the shadows waiting to mug some unsuspecting FVer who happened to walk by. This does not mean that the critical important issues over which we are divided are not worth fighting for- but you have my apologies for my intemperate speech towards you.

  43. Todd said,

    April 28, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Neil, have you been to this church in Louisville? Can you tell us about the furniture arrangements there?

  44. William Hill said,

    April 28, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Mr. Johnson — if you are going to be so snide in your remarks towards other brothers in Christ then perhaps you ought to examine your own standing in the Church. You hold to a Presbyterian form of government while maintaining independency (an oxymoron to be sure). Second, you have issued repated comments to me that you intend to smear me and the Covenant Radio program I co-host. Frankly, I find that repulsive. All this becasue I stated that many in the TR group act more like theological yellow bellies than they do scholars in many cases. Third, you claim some sort of submission to the Confessions while being an authority all your own with your independent Church. Another inconsistency.

    Frankly, I find your tirades against Mark Horne to be highly unnecessary and completely out of bounds. Is this how a mture person behaves?

  45. greenbaggins said,

    April 28, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    William, you seem not to have read the end of comment 43.

  46. William Hill said,

    April 28, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Ya…I missed that to be sure but that does not change the comments I made at all (the three statements).

    Furthermore, the tirades were still unecessary and as far as I am concerned he ought to offer an apology to those that read these comments for his behaviour.

  47. Anne Ivy said,

    April 28, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    Oh, piffle, William.

    The man apologized to Mark. That should be the end of it.

    Don’t wrap the mantle of “victim” around yourself by demanding apologies just because you didn’t like the comments. No one’s forcing us to read blogs and their comments, after all. When comments get too, um, peppery for me, I stop reading.

    Works a treat, I’ve found.

  48. pduggie said,

    April 28, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    Interesting.

    I’m wondering where the “cult” parts of their Liturgy are too.

    I also wonder if Andy Gilman finds the absolution form there

    “Therefore, in the name of Jesus Christ, I declare
    to all of you who have confessed and repented of your sins, you are forgiven.”

    To be an improvement on the one in Leithart’s liturgy. Sounds fine to me.

  49. Todd said,

    April 28, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    No, no, Paul. You’re missing the real smoking gun on the Louisville church site. They sang Wesley! He’s an Arminian, you know.

  50. April 29, 2007 at 7:34 am

    Mr. Hill contacted me. I did not contact him.He asked me if I would do an interview with him. I told him I was not interested in appearing on his radio program, but he persisted.I then asked him not to contact me anymore, but he sent me another another snide email- to which I responded that in light of him continuing to pester me after I had politely asked him not contact me anymore ,I would tell people in my circles that he was rude and abrasive. He again sent me another nasty email to which I told him I would file an official complaint against him if he continued to hound me.His reputation speaks for itself.

  51. April 29, 2007 at 9:10 am

    I need to add some clarification to my remarks in #43. My reference to ‘intemporate speech’ has to do with labeling Mark Horne ‘ill-mannered’. That was excessive. Mark has, by his use of derogatory expressions that he has thrown at Kline, Clark and me,displayed his temper and that at times , it gets away from him.But I should not have called him ‘ill-mannered’, which is ,however, a very appropiate way to describe Mr. Hill’s behaviour.

  52. N Harper said,

    April 29, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Gary,
    It is my understanding that Bill Smith had signed on to the Auburn Avenue Theology before leaving the Louisiana Presbytery for Louisville. His new presbytery (Ohio Valley) approved him with the full knowledge that he had signed and held those views. The ironic twist to this story is that he was approved during the time that Dr. Lucas (who is one of the teaching elders who assisted in writing this report) was still a participating member of the OVP. I believe my information is correct.

    The study report rightly states that the Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn Avenue Theologies are “causing confusion among our churches”. But, I believe the confusion comes, not primarily from the theologies themselves, but from the selfish political agendas of the leadership along with the mixed messages they are sending to their congregations.

    This whole controversy has its roots in the theonomy/reconstruction movement. Because of their conservativism, Southern theonomic /reconstruction churches were welcomed into the PCA when it first began. Now we are reaping the bitter rotten counter- reformation fruit of a false gospel.

  53. William Hill said,

    April 29, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Gary,

    You did not re-tell the facts as they TRULY happened. However, I don’t really care. WE both know what happened and that’s good enough for me.

    Now, I am done wasting my time discussing this with you (here or elsewhere) because it is quite clear you’re not listening. You can have the last word…

  54. April 30, 2007 at 6:45 am

    Mr. Hill
    You have my permission to post our entire email exchange.

  55. Keith LaMothe said,

    April 30, 2007 at 9:58 am

    N. Harper,

    [Beginning of Quote]
    How is it possible to hold NINE views on the vital doctrine of justification – NINE views that are contrary to the Westminster Standards – without preaching another gospel?
    [End of Quote]

    Allow me to clarify: I wasn’t trying to prove that your application of Paul’s anathema is incorrect. It could be correct. I happen to not think so, but I acknowledge it as a possibility.

    [BoQ]
    Are you trying to say that Scripture only applies to the specific audience it is addressed to – in this case, the Galatians?
    [EoQ]

    No, your application Paul’s words to the FV teaching may be entirely legitimate and accurate (again, I happen to think it’s inaccurate). My point was that it is you making the application, not the Apostle.

    Would Paul say those same words about FV pastors today, were he still with us on earth? Maybe, but that’s still up for debate, and (no offense intended) your affirming that he would do so is not the same as proving the case.

    As for the case itself, i.e. which of those 9 doctrines are actually held by FV pastors, which of those 9 doctrines are actually out of accord with the Westminster Standards, and which of those 9 doctrines are actually in the “another gospel” category… well, do you want to get into that discussion? That’s fine with me, but there are many more qualified than I to do so.

  56. Keith LaMothe said,

    April 30, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Gary,

    I’m more or less just a bystander on the periphery of this, but thank you for your willingness to apologize when you realize a line has been inappropriately crossed.

    One of the things that most concerns me about the debate is how otherwise fine men sometimes forget themselves and the meaning of their doctrine while defending that very same doctrine. Rancor is sometimes appropriate, as Paul, Calvin (or even Doug Wilson) would tell you. However, if we combat heterodoxy (even if it is real heresy) with heteropraxy, what have we gained? If we break the 9th commandment while calling out breakers of 1 through 4… well, it would certainly fall under Matthew 12:36.

    Again, thanks. And thanks also for your willingness to confront error; I think we disagree on the issue at hand but if none of us was willing to stand up for the truth we would be in high disobedience.

  57. markhorne said,

    April 30, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    I didn’t get to this until late, and then saw another flare up had started and wasn’t sure what to say. Now that it is over I will thank Gary and accept his apology and respond with my own for getting angry at him.

    Though I am disapponted that this is merely the fifty-eight post… Lane are you losing your touch? :)

  58. greenbaggins said,

    April 30, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Mark, I would think that you would be impressed that 59 comments occurred on a post that consists solely of a link! ;-)

  59. Andy Gilman said,

    April 30, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    In #49 Paul said:

    [BOQ]
    I also wonder if Andy Gilman finds the absolution form there

    “Therefore, in the name of Jesus Christ, I declare to all of you who have confessed and repented of your sins, you are forgiven.”

    To be an improvement on the one in Leithart’s liturgy. Sounds fine to me.
    [EOQ]

    In Bill Smith’s liturgy from April 22nd he says:

    [BOQ]
    Most merciful God, we confess to you that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed; not only in outward transgressions, but also in secret thoughts and desires that we are not able to understand, but which are all known to You. For this reason we flee for refuge to Your infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Your
    grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us so that we can delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.
    [EOQ]

    The corporate confession is then followed immediately by:

    [BOQ]
    The Declaration of Forgiveness
    Pastor: Arise and hear the good news! The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting to those who love him and keep his commandments. Therefore, in the name of Jesus Christ, I declare to all of you who have confessed and repented of your sins, you are forgiven. May the God of mercy, who forgives you all your sins, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. [Cf. Ex 20:6; Ps 103:17; John 20:23]
    [EOQ]

    Paul, I’m not sure if it’s an improvement or not. It could be, but in the context, it could also be read as “I declare to all of you [who kneel here today, and who have just gone through the ritual of confession and repentance], you are forgiven.” Since this is a PCA minister, eight years ago I probably would have read it with Calvinistic and confessional presuppositions, and read it as “I declare to all of you [who confess that you are a sinner, and who humble yourselves before God, repenting of your sins and trusting in Jesus Christ and him alone for your salvation], you are forgiven.” But I’m not persuaded from his liturgy or from his “Philosopy of Ministry” that the second reading is what Bill Smith intends. As far as I know he could be carefully wording it to avoid criticism. In the current climate, no one associated with the FV should expect to get the benefit of the doubt, and they should bend over backwards to make themselves clear.

    Below, I have included some quotes from Smith’s “Philosopy of Ministry.” He, like many if not all of the FV advocates, appears to be unable or unwilling to distinguish between true professors and false professors, as they exist in the church today; and by “church,” Smith clearly means what the Confessions mean by the “visible church.” This does not simply mean that FV proponents along with everyone else are unable discern, via outward signs, who are the true believers and who are the false professors. Rather, for the FV there is no defineable, substantive difference between true believers and false professors. All who are baptized are in “union and communion” with Christ. All who are part of the church are “brother[s] for whom Christ died,” and are joined with Christ in his “death and resurrection.” See #1-4.

    #5 is the same problem we discussed in the “Virtue of Heresy” thread, when we looked at Leithart’s notion that the “application of the atonement” occurs in the “covenant renewal” ritual. Is the “cleansing of our sins” in the weekly “covenant renewal” ritual, also effectual to cleanse our sins during the week? Particularly obnoxious to me is this notion that Christ’s atoning sacrifice has to be “reapplied” to us week after week via “covenant renewal” ceremonies. If Christ’s atoning sacrifice does not cover our sins as we commit them, what hope can anyone have? How long before the FV resorts to a daily “covenant renewal” service, and starts sending out ministers to “renew the covenant” and serve a “covenant meal” beside deathbeds?

    And what about #6? Isn’t the “but especially at the Table” teaching, exactly what the PCA Study Report is criticizing when it says of the FV:

    [BOQ]
    Because of their assumed definition of covenant as relationship, FV proponents are apt to ascribe an objectivity and efficacy to the covenant (almost always in the singular), covenant membership and covenant signs *that diminish or ignore the effectual character and priority of the word of promise,* as well as the reality of the invisible/visible distinction. This tendency leads them to assign saving benefits ascribed to all members of the visible church, elect and non-elect covenant members alike.
    [EOQ, my emphasis]

    Quotes from Bill Smith’s “Philosopy of Ministry:”

    [BOQs]
    1. The holy, catholic church of the Lord Jesus Christ is God’s new humanity re-created in Christ to bring God’s loving, wise order to the world. Each particular church exists as a local expression of this one church. Community Presbyterian Church of Louisville, KY, being a particular church, is a part of this one, holy, catholic church.

    2. It is the church for whom Christ died. We are then in covenant with Christ as we are a part of his bride, the church. We can only know that we are a “brother for whom Christ died” (Rom 14:15) if we are a part of this family in which we are called “brother” (or “sister”).

    3. The covenant is that bond of union and communion in which promises are made, responsibilities are given and consequences of faithfulness (or lack thereof) are stipulated. God has graciously condescended to us and sovereignly brought us into this union with himself, this covenant. Every week he calls us to gather together as his people to renew this covenant with us.

    4. …we are joined to the death and resurrection of Christ by virtue of our union with him.

    5. Worship as sacrifice is not holistic from the worshipers’ perspective only, but also from the One who gives to us every good and perfect gift. Our God gives himself to us in this covenant renewal. He cleanses us of our sins by applying his own sacrifice to us (1John 1:7-9).

    6. Throughout the service, *but especially at the Table,* we are formed anew into God’s renewed image-bearing people.
    [EOQs, my emphasis]

  60. Keith LaMothe said,

    May 1, 2007 at 7:45 am

    Re-application-of-the-atonement language makes me nervous, too. But what else is the absolution? I’d hesitate to call it a re-application, but is it only a reminder?

    Obviously taking parts of the liturgy out of the context of the rest of the service (particularly the sermon, where explanations are more thorough) would create confusion, but I wonder if a non-Christian would be misled by the language of that liturgy. Then there’s the issue of what degree a non-Christian attending service can avoid such confusion and how responsible the elders are to help them in that.

  61. Tim Wilder said,

    May 1, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Re: 61

    “Then there’s the issue of what degree a non-Christian attending service can avoid such confusion and how responsible the elders are to help them in that.”

    I think the issue is what the people in the church, particularly the children growing up in the church, come to believe as a result of hearing a priest pronounce the forgiveness of sins every Sunday.

  62. Xon said,

    May 1, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Yeah, they might come to believe that, when they confess their sins, God is good and faithful to forgive those sins.

    Chills….

  63. Andy Gilman said,

    May 1, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Keith said:

    “Re-application-of-the-atonement language makes me nervous, too. But what else is the absolution? I’d hesitate to call it a re-application, but is it only a reminder?”

    Yes, if liturgical absolution is intended as anything more than a reminder or re-proclamation of the gospel, then it is sacerdotalism. What else could it be?

    Do the sins I commit this week hang over my head until Sunday, when Christ’s atoning sacrifice gets “reapplied” via a liturgical ritual?

    There’s only one example in the various reformed confessions I’ve perused where “absolution,” by ministers, is even mentioned. That’s the Second Helvetic Confession, and it’s emphasis is all on preaching and proclaiming the gospel. It says:

    “Ministers, therefore, rightly and effectually absolve when they preach the Gospel of Christ and thereby the remission of sins, which is promised to each one who believes….We are nevertheless of the opinion that the remission of sins in the blood of Christ is to be diligently proclaimed, and that each one is to be admonished that the forgiveness of sins pertains to him.”

  64. N Harper said,

    May 1, 2007 at 10:37 am

    This congregation is taught that there is no personal salvation along with forgiveness outside or apart from the corporate visible church. And, because they believe in infusion, not imputation of Christ’s righteousness, they are dependent on the leaders and their covenant renewal ritual to declare them “infused”. It is like making a trip to the gas station every week to get your infusion of righteousness. I guess by the end of the week, the congregants are running on fumes of righteousness depending on their ability to persevere. This is the outrageous and dangerous work of a cult.
    Let’s call a spade a spade. As of right now, their practices are accepted legitimate distinctives of the PCA, unless some strong disciplinary action is taken by our leaders.

  65. Todd said,

    May 1, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Neil, which congregation are you saying these things about?

  66. Andy Gilman said,

    May 1, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Keith said:

    [BOQ]
    Obviously taking parts of the liturgy out of the context of the rest of the service (particularly the sermon, where explanations are more thorough) would create confusion, but I wonder if a non-Christian would be misled by the language of that liturgy. Then there’s the issue of what degree a non-Christian attending service can avoid such confusion and how responsible the elders are to help them in that.
    [EOQ]

    What do you mean by non-Christian? For the FV, there can be no “non-Christians” attending the service, unless there happens to be someone in attendance who has not been baptized. The problem is not that “false professors” will somehow be “misled” by the liturgy. If all in attendance are baptized, then all in attendance are, at present, “true professors.” All plants growing in the wheat field are wheat. Tares, by definition, do not exist, but some of the stalks of wheat are ordained to whither and die. All present are in “union and communion with Christ.” Every person present is a “brother for whom Christ died.” Every person present is joined with Christ in his death and resurrection. Every one present is justified, adopted and sanctified, and enjoys all of Christ’s blessings.

  67. N Harper said,

    May 1, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Andy,
    Let’s get our terms right – it is not wheat and tares as the Bible teaches.
    According to Steve Wilkins, the congregation is made up of “elect believers” and “non-elect believers”.

    You see, there are those who are mysteriously and only known to God who will be saved. Then there are those who also are mysteriously and only known to God who will enjoy all the blessings and benefits of salvation only in this life and, of course, only in the visible church. Then on the Last Day, God will jump out and axe them because the “non-elect believers” can never persevere to the end, no matter how hard they try.

    So, while one is in this world, one can NEVER know whether they are truly saved or not – even if they believe He must live in fear and receive comfort from what may be a “temporary” delaration of forgiveness from the minister. Then each week he has to try to appease God by participating in this covenant renewal rite to try to earn God’s favor.

  68. Xon said,

    May 1, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    So, while one is in this world, one can NEVER know whether they are truly saved or not – even if they believe He must live in fear and receive comfort from what may be a “temporary” delaration of forgiveness from the minister. Then each week he has to try to appease God by participating in this covenant renewal rite to try to earn God’s favor.

    As opposed to the “traditional” Calvinist picture, where while certain vexed souls are in this world, they can NEVER know whether they are truly elect or not–even if they believe they can never know for sure that their faith is not just the phony pseudo-faith of the hypocrite. No matter what taste they SEEM to get of God’s grace and love, they can never know for sure that they have ever been really connected to God at all. The heart is deceitful and wicked above all things, after all, and plenty of people have LOOKED like good Christians for decades and then showed themselves to be phony by the end. How can this vexed person ever really know that his experiences, his belief, his apparent membership in God’s good graces is really real, etc. They go to their minister to seek assurance, and the minister just tells them, “Well, if you are elect you have nothing to worry about….” But whether or not they are elect is precisely their concern!

  69. Anne Ivy said,

    May 1, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    OTOH, you’re right, Xon. There can be no denying people can be self-deceived.

    The difference, however, is they are SELF-deceived. They never had the Holy Spirit. They never received any saving grace. They never believed in the Christ who is, but worshiped one of their own devising.

    The difference with the FV is that one would have excellent reason for believing one is elect, for one really DID have the Holy Spirit…really DID receive saving grace….really DID believe (per Wilkins, which I can look up and post if necessary) in the Christ who is. But at some point the LORD ceases to provide the necessary grace, and so the person inevitably falls away.

    The beauty of the Reformed faith regarding assurance is that even though we are aware we might be fooling ourselves, we may be confidant if the Holy Spirit is within us….if we are in Christ…if we have received the gift of saving grace, the LORD will be faithful to complete the good work He began in us.

    Our assurance isn’t necessarily that we may be absolutely certain that each of us who claims the name of Christ has been regenerated and will persevere, but we are absolutely certain that those whom Christ has claimed for His own have been regenerated and WILL persevere to the end.

  70. Xon said,

    May 1, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    The beauty of the Reformed faith regarding assurance is that even though we are aware we might be fooling ourselves, we may be confidant if the Holy Spirit is within us….if we are in Christ…if we have received the gift of saving grace, the LORD will be faithful to complete the good work He began in us.

    So the beauty of the Reformed faith regarding assurance is that it tells us things that are tautologically true about hypotheticals? IF you are someone God has chosen to go to Heaven, THEN you’ll go to Heaven. Well, sure that’s true; everyone in this conversation is a deterministic Calvinist who believes that EVERYTHING that happens because God determined it to happen that way. But how on earth this gives assurance is still unclear to me.

    And my own point is not that people cannot be self-deceived. My point is that not every vexed person is so deceived, and there is something else, biblically-speaking, that we can tell these vexed souls besides hypotheticals.

    Finally, around this merry-go-round again, but, yes, Wilkins says explicitly that NECMs believe in Christ in some genuine sense. I.e., there is such a thing as “temporary faith”–”real genuine saving faith” and “hypocritical phony pseduo faith” are not the only two options–and there are plenty of Puritans who believed that right along with Wilkins. But Wilkins also says that the faith possessed by NECMs is not qualitatively the same as that possessed by ECMs. So, it is simply not the case for Wilkinst that the ONLY difference between elect and non-elect faith is that one day God stops giving the grace of faith to the non-elect person. The difference, for Wilkins, is NOT durational only.

    Again, I picture a person who comes to his pastor doubting his salvation, but who affirms the creeds, says he believes in Christ alone for his salvation and acknowledges that he can do nothing to save himself. He confesses his sins conscientiously, shows signs of true repentance, and lives a scandal free life. But he worries that he’s not one of God’s elect. Is the only thing that “orthodox” Calvinism has to say to this person, “Well, you can rest assured that IF you are one of God’s elect, then you HAVE been regenerated and you WILL persevere to the end.” Is that it?

  71. N Harper said,

    May 1, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Now faith is being SURE of what we hope for and CERTAIN of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

    The Federal Vision offers no assurance of salvation because it is not grounded in faith. It is tied solely to the visible – the form – the symbols. Symbols and form replace spiritual invisible reality. It is like eating the husk but not the corn.

    This movement is nothing but a group of deceived unregenerate men taking turns at playing the pope.

  72. Anne Ivy said,

    May 1, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Well, yeah, pretty much. It’s hard, but just as some people are convinced they’re saved when they certainly are not, others are beset by doubts when they don’t need to be. It’s a shame when that happens but fiddling around with Scripture so as to make the latter group feel better isn’t a sound practice.

    Fiddling with Scripture for the purpose of making ANYBODY feel better about ANYTHING isn’t a sound practice. Truth is what it is, regardless of how we personally respond to it.

    Make no mistake, the LORD’s righteousness would not be affected in the slightest if He actually did choose to live in some people only temporarily and allow them to truly see and love Christ for a while. He doesn’t owe any of us anything at all. He’d be within His rights to do as the Arminians believe, i.e. leave it up to us to turn to Him or not (of course, no one would, but it’d still be His privilege to do that). Really, to act in someone for a time would still be a gracious action on His part, for it’d be similar to a father holding a bicycle as his child learns to ride. A running start would be a good thing, and a marvelous gift. What excuse would such a one have to reject Christ after having seen and loved Him? None at all!

    Only problem is, it’s not Scriptural. Christ was very, very clear that none given to Him would be lost….that His sheep know His voice and follow Him.

    No one hears His voice only for a time. If you are His, you have ears to hear His voice; if you are not, you cannot hear Him so never followed Him.

    The only thing I can’t figure out is why the FV theory is regarded as an improvement over the truth. It’s a real puzzlement.

  73. Andy Gilman said,

    May 1, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Here is what the FV says about assurance:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/04/12/the-virtue-of-heresy/#comment-8463

    And here is what the Canons of Dordt say about assurance:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/04/12/the-virtue-of-heresy/#comment-8470

  74. Andy Gilman said,

    May 1, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    The thing that is maybe the most significant in the stuff I quoted from the Canons of Dordt is this:

    Rejection of Errors, Fifth Head of Doctrine, V, “the Synod rejects the errors of those”:

    [BOQ]
    Who teach that apart from a special revelation no one can have the assurance of future perseverance in this life.

    For by this teaching the well-founded consolation of true believers in this life is taken away and the doubting of the Romanists is reintroduced into the church. Holy Scripture, however, in many places derives the assurance not from a special and extraordinary revelation but from the marks peculiar to God’s children and from God’s completely reliable promises. So especially the apostle Paul: Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39); and John: They who obey his commands remain in him and he in them. And this is how we know that he remains in us: by the Spirit he gave us (1 John 3:24).
    [EOQ]

    The FV tells us that their paradigm offers “real assurances,” while at the same time “taking seriously” the warnings about apostasy. I’ve included this quote from Wilkins Knox Colloquium paper, in a number of places, but it tells most of the story I think:

    “The elect are those who are faithful in Christ Jesus. If they later reject the Savior, they are no longer elect–they are cut off from the Elect One and thus, lose their elect standing. But their falling away doesn’t negate the reality of their standing prior to their apostasy. They were really and truly the elect of God because of their relationship with Christ.”

    Despite the claims the FV makes for their new paradigm, the reality is that in the FV: “the well-founded consolation of true believers in this life is taken away and the doubting of the Romanists is reintroduced into the church.”

  75. Xon said,

    May 1, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Anne, I appreciate your honesty that this is all your view has to offer a person struggling with assurance in the way I described. As far as I’m concerned, this illustrates very well that FVers do have legitimate concerns with the way many contemporary Reformed people articulate the doctrine of election, and the original AAPC conference was a good and needed thing. But of course we’ll have to agree to disagree on that, I’m sure.

    Despite the claims the FV makes for their new paradigm, the reality is that in the FV: “the well-founded consolation of true believers in this life is taken away and the doubting of the Romanists is reintroduced into the church.”

    Except, Andy, that some of the true believers don’t know that they are true believers, and so for them it is hardly a well-founded consolation to tell them that IF they are elect, THEN they are irrevocably in God’s kingdom. (Though, AGAIN, that is certainly true!)

  76. Anne Ivy said,

    May 1, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Adjusting doctrine so as to help people with their interior struggles is more than a little man-centered, isn’t it?

    Personally, since I’ve unsaved children and parents and siblings, I’d feel ever so much better if doctrine could be adjusted so that they’re headed for heaven though they reject Christ.

    Somehow, though, I don’t think I get to finesse Scripture to eliminate my concerns.

    Why should doctrine be fitted to those who struggle with assurance?

  77. Andy Gilman said,

    May 1, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Xon, you quote something from my post, and then you address me and take me to task for something Anne wrote. I can’t speak for Anne.

    Maybe you could compare the FV view of assurance as specified in the Leithart article, with the view of assurance given in the Canons of Dordt, and tell us where the Canons of Dordt went wrong.

  78. Ruth said,

    May 1, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Anne,

    Xon spoke of the way some “articulate the doctrine of election” and, unless I am misreading, you refer to that as “adjusting doctrine.” When I read that it seems like a misrepresentation of what he was communicating.

  79. Anne said,

    May 1, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    The doctrine that everyone who is in Christ stays in Christ is well-established and accepted in Reformedom. Any doctrinal shift that has some believers (“non-elect believers”, as Wilkins dubbed them) not receiving the grace of perseverence is most definitely an adjustment.

    If Xon wants to characterize such a shift or adjustment as an “articulation”, he is naturally free to do so.

    But those of us who think the existence of “non-elect believers” to be an error needn’t do the same.

  80. N Harper said,

    May 1, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit GUARANTEEING our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

    The FV leaves one important Person out – the promised Holy Spirit. Once you take the work of the Holy Spirit out, then you have lost any assurance. That is how the FV or any cult survives; it has to raise doubts in a person’s mind and play on those doubts.

  81. Xon said,

    May 1, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Anne, re: 76, your description of what is going on here just isn’t right. I agree wholeheartedly that we shouldn’t “adjust doctrine” just to make people feel better. May it never be! But that’s not what I see the FVers doing. On the contrary, I see them appealing to Scripture and to systematic theological considerations in order to form an understanding of assurance which applies to these vexed regenerates. Of course, this is part of our dispute; but it isn’t just a given that FVers are “adjusting doctrine” purely to give assurance to people who ought have no claim to it.

    And besides, this anti-FV argument is tying itself in knots. First we’re told that FVers take away assurance. So apparently assurance is a good thing and something we have an obligation to provide with our theology. But then when I point out that FVers are actually offering even more assurance than the “TR” view (i.e., assurance to another kind of person not “covered” by the TR view), all of a sudden the anti-FV criticism jumps to the other rail and says “Hold on there, soldier, we don’t want to go around measuring our theology by how much assurance it gives. That kind of thinking will lead us to adjust doctrine just to make people happy.” So, darned if you do, and darned if you don’t.

    Finally (on this point at least), FVers do not deny that the elect can have assurance that they are elect. Andy, I think this answers your question as well. You asked me to compare FV assurance with Dordt and to explain “where Dordt went wrong.” But I don’t see any need to do that, because I don’t think Dordt did go wrong. I just think there is also more that can be said. The doctrine of election is assuring, and so is the doctrine of the covenant as understood by FVers. These two assurances are not at odds with each other.

  82. Xon said,

    May 1, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    The FV leaves one important Person out – the promised Holy Spirit. Once you take the work of the Holy Spirit out, then you have lost any assurance. That is how the FV or any cult survives; it has to raise doubts in a person’s mind and play on those doubts.

    Except that it is in the NT that we read that certain apostates had “tasted of the Holy Spirit.” Tasted, but went to Hell? But what happened to the guarantee?

  83. Anne Ivy said,

    May 1, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    The problem with what the FV is doing to the doctrine of assurance has nothing to do with whether it’s an improvement from a human standpoint or not.

    The problem with what the FV is doing to the doctrine of assurance is twofold:

    1. From a denominational standpoint, it’s a megashift from the traditional Reformed teaching on the perseverance of the saints. If there has been a key doctrine of the Presbyterian-Reformed POV, it’s perseverance of the saints. There are sheep and there are goats. There are no sheep in hell and there are no goats in heaven. If one’s a sheep, i.e. Christ is one’s Shepherd, one never switches to a goat. How anyone can, with a straight face, encourage a belief in “non-elect believers” as being consistent with Reformed theology is beyond me. Want to believe it, fine and dandy, but don’t try to claim it as traditional Reformed doctrine, then make bewildered faces indicating bafflement as to why it’s getting everyone else’s knickers in a twist.

    2. The non-elect believer theory is a direct contradiction of John 10:

    “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

    It’s immaterial whether anyone likes or dislikes the FV based upon their feelings. No one should argue against it because it offends them, and no one should argue for it because it presumably offers consolation and comfort to some people.

  84. markhorne said,

    May 1, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Wow! I wrote post #58 yesterday!

  85. Tim Wilder said,

    May 2, 2007 at 7:15 am

    RE: 80

    “The FV leaves one important Person out – the promised Holy Spirit. Once you take the work of the Holy Spirit out, then you have lost any assurance. That is how the FV or any cult survives; it has to raise doubts in a person’s mind and play on those doubts.”

    The Holy Spirit is compared to the wind that blows where it wants and you can’t see it. The FV teaches that faith has to be placed in something tangible: congregational membership, sacraments, etc. This has the result of removing the Holy Spirit, but what this really means is that it removes the sovereignty of the God, and it replaces it with the sovereignty of the priest who administers the tangible means of salvation and controls membership in the visible church.

  86. greenbaggins said,

    May 2, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Mark, all you’ve got to do is wait a little bit. Just give me time. ;-)

  87. jared said,

    May 2, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Anne,

    1. There are goats that look like sheep, smell like sheep and even claim to be sheep. There are even wolves that look like sheep! But you’re right, only the sheep hear the Shepherd’s voice. Hence, these goats (and wolves) will not remain with the fold.

    2. The “non-elect believer” is a goat (or a wolf). In other words, it doesn’t contradict John 10 at all and it actually makes better sense of John 15 where there are branches, united to Christ no less, that are cut off and burned.

  88. Keith LaMothe said,

    May 2, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Andy said:

    [BOQ]
    What do you mean by non-Christian? For the FV, there can be no “non-Christians” attending the service, unless there happens to be someone in attendance who has not been baptized.
    [EOQ]

    Quite right, I was referring to the unbaptized (usually visitors), sorry for the lack of clarity.

  89. Xon said,

    May 2, 2007 at 9:40 am

    If Christ is one’s Shepherd, one never switches to a goat. How anyone can, with a straight face, encourage a belief in “non-elect believers” as being consistent with Reformed theology is beyond me. Want to believe it, fine and dandy, but don’t try to claim it as traditional Reformed doctrine, then make bewildered faces indicating bafflement as to why it’s getting everyone else’s knickers in a twist.

    1. Maybe it’s possible to believe in a way that doesn’t rise to the level of becoming a sheep. Parable of the soils clearly indicates that some people “believe for a time” (enthusiastically, even) but later wilt and die. You’ve connected “having Christ as your Shepherd” with “believing” in such a way that the latter is a necessary condition for the former, but you have not explained why you are claiming this sort of connection exists. Look back at the famous Perkins chart: on the side of reprobates he includes a “temporary faith.” That’s FAITH, not “temporary not-really-faith.” The idea that some peopel have a genuine faith which does not persevere is easy to find in the Puritans and other Reformed sources.

    2. Traditional Reformed doctrine, assuming Calvin and other first-generation Reformed leaders count as part of the tradition and that Lilback’s work on them is not completely off-base, includes the idea of a “general” election (which is roughly equivalent to what FVers are referring to when they speak of a “covenantal” election.) A person can be elected into a covenantal community, and being so elected is itself a clear indicator of grace that that person has received (and beyond the “common grace” that goes to all people). Calvin clearly believed that God can give a person temporary graces, which He later withdraws.

    3. But at the same time traditional Reformed theology has also held that the person who is given only temporary graces is, from the beginning, of a different sort than the person who is given grace irrevocably. There is a persistent difference throughout the duration of the story, even while the two people appear to be in the same boat. Some are sheep, others are goats; Jesus will tell some “I NEVER knew you;” etc. Amen and amen. But this is not in conflict with (1) or (2) (or both together), as far as I can tell.

    4. What’s the “vital of true religion” that this strikes, anyway, Anne (or whoever)? Why does believing that there is such a thing as non-elect belief in Christ render you unorthodox by Reformed standards? Why aren’t you simply arguing that FVers should take an exception on this point, instead of “going nuclear” and saying that they are in fact not sufficiently Reformed at all and should be barred from ministry in denominations such as the PCA?

  90. Anne Ivy said,

    May 2, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Except Christ did not die for the goats.

    Of course, I realize AAPC is hardly the Official Representative of the FV or anything, but still, its position paper on the subject says: “God has decreed from the foundation of the world all that comes to pass, including who would be saved and lost for all eternity. Included in His decree, however, is that some persons, not destined for final salvation, will be drawn to Christ and His people only for a time. These, for a season, enjoy real blessings, purchased for them by Christ’s cross…”

    If you’re saying those referred to as “some persons, not destined for final salvation” are goats, then you’ve got Christ having purchased “real blessings” for goats on the cross.

    And that’s just wrong.

  91. Xon said,

    May 2, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Very good, Jared (#88). More succinct than what I said.

  92. Xon said,

    May 2, 2007 at 9:44 am

    If you’re saying those referred to as “some persons, not destined for final salvation” are goats, then you’ve got Christ having purchased “real blessings” for goats on the cross.

    But this is not a problem, Anne. Traditional Reformed theology says that Christ only died “for” the sheep, in the sense of eternal salvific benefits. But it does not say that the ONLY benefits that come from Christ’s death are those eternal salvific benefits. In fact, Reformed theology has generally held that through His death Christ has inaugurated the renewal of all things (though this renewal is not to be consummated until the eschaton, of course), and this renewal of all things surely brings with it certain benefits to the “all thigns” being renewed. But these benefits certainly don’t rise to the level of eternal salvation.

  93. Keith LaMothe said,

    May 2, 2007 at 9:44 am

    N. Harper,

    To recap the answer to my first question of you: you have formally pronounced anathema against those teaching FV doctrine, accusing them of damnable heresy and implying that apart from repentance they are bound for hell to suffer eternally with the Judaizers and other false teachers. Am I incorrect?

    Some questions I want you to consider for your own good:

    Do you know what spirit you are of?

    Are you defending the flock against wolves, or are you functioning as an accuser (satan, in Hebrew) of the brethren, imitating him who accused the brethren all day long?

    I’m don’t want a response, merely that you ponder these yourself.

    Blessings,
    Keith

  94. markhorne said,

    May 2, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Does #86 remind anyone of anti-birth-control arguments?

  95. Anne Ivy said,

    May 2, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Xon, don’t take this the wrong way, but as a fervent FV’er you’re not precisely a “go-to” guy for me regarding what is or is not included in Traditional Reformed Theology. ;^)

    That’s sort of the point, isn’t it? That the FV insists its doctrinal distinctives ARE Traditional Reformed Theology? And non-FV’ers say “The heck they are”?

    Were I the lone voice insisting “non-elect believers” is an unReformed oxymoron, then I probably wouldn’t pay any attention to me, either.

    But you and I both know quite a few Presbyterian pastors also reject that category, some of them rather emphatically.

    This isn’t the first time you and I have chased each other around this particular mulberry bush, and as in the past, neither one will catch the other.

    I’m babysitting my 3 and 5 year old nieces today, so need to go get ready to pick them up.

    Y’all have a good ‘un.

  96. jared said,

    May 2, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Anne,

    I’m curious, how would you understand John 15? What does it mean for a branch to be cut off from the vine? More importantly, perhaps, what does it mean for a branch to be attached to the vine? We can’t say that those branches which are cut off were never really a part of the vine because that is clearly untrue. We also can’t say that the vine wasn’t providing life (i.e. blessings) to the branch because then we are saying the vine chooses which branches to give life to and the metaphor no longer makes any sense. In this chapter of John we see a great picture of the relationship between Jesus (as the vine) the Father (as the vinedresser/gardner) and the branches (saved and non-saved in union with Christ, aka the “covenant people”).

    In the case of branches that are cut off, they are cut off because they are not producing the fruit that should come by virtue of being attached to the vine, right? Why else would they be cut off? Not only this, but we find out a few verses later we find the reason some branches produce fruit and others do not; namely because those that produce fruit were chosen to do so. Now bring this metaphor together with the sheep paradigm and you begin to see that FV isn’t quite as heretical (at least on this point) as some are making it out to be.

  97. Tim Wilder said,

    May 2, 2007 at 10:31 am

    Re: 97

    It used to be that the dispies were laughed at for trying to prove their theology by extrapolating metaphors. But now it seems a speciality of the FV.

  98. pduggan said,

    May 2, 2007 at 10:48 am

    “In the current climate, no one associated with the FV should expect to get the benefit of the doubt, and they should bend over backwards to make themselves clear.”

    I agree, but that says more about the character of the critics, unfortunately.

    It’s a shame

  99. greenbaggins said,

    May 2, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Actually, I think it says a lot more about how unclear FV writings are.

  100. pduggan said,

    May 2, 2007 at 10:50 am

    “Particularly obnoxious to me is this notion that Christ’s atoning sacrifice has to be “reapplied” to us week after week via “covenant renewal” ceremonies.”

    Its a prayer, followed by a message preached by a pastor to a congregation

    Its not a ceremony, its a FORM for a prayer and sermon

  101. Xon said,

    May 2, 2007 at 10:51 am

    So, Anne, if I actually give a couple of citations from historical Reformed people, will you accept my claim then? This is not JUST a “yeah huh/nuh uh” kind of argument about what the Reformed tradition actually teaches. In fact, in my more paranoid moments, I’d raise my eyebrows at your comments in #96 that basically you’re just not going to listen to arguments FVers make because there are other people who disagree with them. We can easily quote Reformed sources that hold that Jesus’ death has less-than-eternally-salvific benefits for the whole world. This is, frankly, not an area of dispute that I am aware of, even among FVers and anti-FVers. The “black sheep” here is your particular argument offered in #91, where you claim that ANY benefits for goats as a result of Jesus’ death is “just wrong.” I’m not aware of such an argument coming from “mainstream” critics of FV. This is a case of you overreaching in your zeal to condemn FVers, and saying things that almost all Reformed people would deny. That was the point of my appeal to the Reformed tradition. For you to ignore me as an a priori policy simply because you don’t like the side of the debate I’m on is ridiculous.

    Tim Wilder, it used to be that [fill-in-the-blank] were laughed at for trying to prove all of their polemical points by making tenuous historical connections. But now it seems a specialty of the FV’s critics.

    This is just Arminianism! No, Pelagianism! No, liberalism! This “sounds a lot like” Amyraldianism! The Marrow Controversy! Monocovenantal nomism! NPP! You know, that argument sounds like the way other people used to argue, people who we thought were silly. Ha ha, that means you’re silly! Apparently, history repeats itself, over and over again, in every possible way, but always in service of the anti-FV cause.

  102. Xon said,

    May 2, 2007 at 10:53 am

    “In the current climate, no one associated with the FV should expect to get the benefit of the doubt, and they should bend over backwards to make themselves clear.”

    And if they slip up and are unclear, then we have every right to kick them out over things they don’t really believe. Because they brought it all on themselves by being unclear.

  103. pduggan said,

    May 2, 2007 at 10:58 am

    the FV report says

    “Both the elect and non-elect in the visible church have “the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, not withstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel,””

    That’s what Smiths philosophy of ministry is saying. Everyone in the visible church enjoys communion with each other as saints. You have to live out the lif of God’s new humanity as a fellowship of real people, joined in common union. Everyone lives that life together.

    Fale professors live it with you, and “enjoy” it too, but they will show their tareness eventually. Until then they LOOK just like wheat, and Jesus says they get no special treatment while they look like wheat.

  104. markhorne said,

    May 2, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Were I the lone voice insisting “non-elect believers” is an unReformed oxymoron, then I probably wouldn’t pay any attention to me, either.

    Luke 8.13: “And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. ”

    I don’t care if every other human being on earth thinks “non-elect believer” is an unReformed oxymoron. Let God be proven true and every man a liar.

  105. greenbaggins said,

    May 2, 2007 at 11:03 am

    But there is a big difference, and you know there is, between saying that the tares *look* like wheat, and saying that the tares are actually tarwheat, a tertium quid that is neither tare nor wheat. It is the fudging of the boundary between tare and wheat that is the problem with the FV. The “no special treatment” means that they are not cut down until the end. That hardly signifies that they are going to head out with kernels of wheat.

  106. jared said,

    May 2, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Tim,

    There’s very little, if any, extrapolation going on here. The text says “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit…” There’s no disagreement about what “in me” means (i.e. blessings and whatnot); the disagreement is about who it applies to. TR advocates seem to be saying that it doesn’t apply to non-elect covenant members at all, but the text clearly says those cut off were in Christ beforehand. Is it possible to be “in Christ” and not receive blessings of some sort?

    Dispies were laughed at because their hermeneutic failed to take historical context (e.g. the concept of “covenant”) into consideration when exegeting. Locusts interpreted as helicopters is not a biblical extrapolation.

  107. Andy Gilman said,

    May 2, 2007 at 11:39 am

    In #104 Paul said:

    [BOQ]
    That’s what Smiths philosophy of ministry is saying. Everyone in the visible church enjoys communion with each other as saints. You have to live out the lif of God’s new humanity as a fellowship of real people, joined in common union. Everyone lives that life together.
    [EOQ]

    Paul, you can’t be serious. Are you going to try to argue that in these four quotes from Bill Smith’s “Philosophy of Ministry,” he only means to argue for a visible church, where the members are in communion with one another?:

    [BOQs]
    1. The holy, catholic church of the Lord Jesus Christ is God’s new humanity re-created in Christ to bring God’s loving, wise order to the world. Each particular church exists as a local expression of this one church. Community Presbyterian Church of Louisville, KY, being a particular church, is a part of this one, holy, catholic church.

    2. It is the church for whom Christ died. We are then in covenant with Christ as we are a part of his bride, the church. We can only know that we are a “brother for whom Christ died” (Rom 14:15) if we are a part of this family in which we are called “brother” (or “sister”).

    3. The covenant is that bond of union and communion in which promises are made, responsibilities are given and consequences of faithfulness (or lack thereof) are stipulated. God has graciously condescended to us and sovereignly brought us into this union with himself, this covenant. Every week he calls us to gather together as his people to renew this covenant with us.

    4. …we are joined to the death and resurrection of Christ by virtue of our union with him.
    [EOQs]

  108. Andy Gilman said,

    May 2, 2007 at 11:55 am

    In #97 and #107 Jared brings in the vine and branch metaphor and in #107 he said:

    [BOQ]
    There’s very little, if any, extrapolation going on here. The text says “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit…” There’s no disagreement about what “in me” means (i.e. blessings and whatnot); the disagreement is about who it applies to. TR advocates seem to be saying that it doesn’t apply to non-elect covenant members at all, but the text clearly says those cut off were in Christ beforehand. Is it possible to be “in Christ” and not receive blessings of some sort?
    [EOQ]

    Jared, what do you think of Calvin’s reading of John 15:2:

    [BOQ]
    2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit. As some men corrupt the grace of God, others suppress it maliciously, and others choke it by carelessness, Christ intends by these words to awaken anxious inquiry, by declaring that all the branches which shall be unfruitful will be cut off from the vine. But here comes a question. Can any one who is engrafted into Christ be without fruit? I ANSWER, MANY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE VINE, ACCORDING TO THE OPINION OF MEN, WHO ACTUALLY HAVE NO ROOT IN THE VINE. Thus, in the writings of the prophets, the Lord calls the people of Israel his vine, because, by outward profession, they had the name of The Church.
    [EOQ, my emphasis]

    This metaphor was recently argued in another thread. Rather than repeat it here, I’m just going to link to one of my posts from that thread:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/the-church-its-definition-in-terms-of-visible-and-invisible-valid/#comment-7792

    Someone made a comment about history repeating itself. Would this be an example of it!

  109. pduggan said,

    May 2, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    “the Lord calls the people of Israel his vine, because, by outward profession, they had the name of The Church.”

    So the Lord uses a judgement of charity? or what?

  110. Andy Gilman said,

    May 2, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    In #104 Paul said:

    [BOQ]
    False professors live it with you, and “enjoy” it too, but they will show their tareness eventually. Until then they LOOK just like wheat, and Jesus says they get no special treatment while they look like wheat.
    [EOQ]

    The inescapable fact is that, for the FV, the non-elect professors are “true professors” whose profession is ordained to fail. Non-elect stalks of wheat are stalks of wheat which are ordained to whither and die.

    Here’s Steve Wilkins:

    “The elect are those who are faithful in Christ Jesus. If they later reject the Savior, they are no longer elect–they are cut off from the Elect One and thus, lose their elect standing. But their falling away doesn’t negate the reality of their standing prior to their apostasy. They were really and truly the elect of God because of their relationship with Christ.”

  111. Andy Gilman said,

    May 2, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    This just struck me. I haven’t put alot of thought into it, and it is just off the top of my head so feel free to shoot it down!

    Luke 8.13: “And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. ”

    Aren’t the branches “vitally connected” to the vine? And yet they have no root?

  112. pduggan said,

    May 2, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    God forgives and restores the lives of whole communities of people, not just individuals. The visible church is the expression of that work of God.

    Life in the resurrection will not just be individual moral righteousness in the aggregate, but includes community life and wholeness. God restores that community wholeness NOW to some extent in the visible church. It is necessarily restored in the church visible, because the church visible is where actual community is lived. The restoration of true human life finds its source in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth, messiah of a people. So those who are living in the visible church are experiencing the communal new life brought about by his messiahship (federal headship) and applied by the Spirit, who forms bonds between people in community. All in the visible church are part of God’s new loving, wise order under Christ, and order that only exists because of Christ’s work on the cross.

    We live as brothers with all in the visible church. Christ working in you, enables you to be a true brother to all the others within the visible church. Christ isn’t doing anything different w.r.t. you in your relations with elect vs non elect members in the visible church.

    I can’t believe you are going to argue that a local congregation is not an expression of the one, holy, catholic church.

    I can’t believe you would argue that Christ’s death (and resurrection) did not encompass the communal visible life of local churches. They don’t get their life from the world, do they?

    I can’t believe you don’t think that God demands and calls all people who have professed faith in Christ to receive the grace that he offers them through the visible community (AT LEAST weekly).

    I can’t believe that you don’t think that the death and resurrection of Christ has no ramifications for the life of the visible community.

  113. Andy Gilman said,

    May 2, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Are you interacting with anyone or anything in particular Paul, or is this (#113) just a general philosphy you want everyone to ponder?

  114. N Harper said,

    May 2, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Was Judas a “non-elect believer” – saved for a while when he spent three years in close communion and fellowship with Jesus – then he becomes a non-elect unbeliever?! He was never saved to begin with!

    The two thieves on the cross beside Jesus – one a “non-elect believer” who spent his dying moments next to the Savior and Friend of sinners – only to spend eternity in hell. The other an “elect believer” who placed his faith in Christ and now spends eternity in heaven. And, he was unbaptized!!

    There are thousands of people who come to Christ outside the visible church. There are thousands of people who never come to Christ inside the visible church. Where but from the pit of hell did we ever get this idea of “partial salvation”?

    The gospel is so simple – God never plays spiritual gymnastics with a person’s soul.

    When the blind man received his sight from Jesus, his reply to the Pharisees was – “I was blind, but now I see.” He knew without a doubt that he was brought out of darkness and into the light. EVERY CHRISTIAN should be able to say the same thing. While we may not understand the work of the Holy Spirit, we can and should be able to say with complete confidance with the blind man, “I was blind, but now I see.”

    Judas lived in close community to the Light of the World, but he remained in darkness. Two thieves, both on either side of Jesus, one went to eternal darkness and condemnation and one to eternal light and glory – there is no GRAY.

  115. pduggan said,

    May 2, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    “Aren’t the branches “vitally connected” to the vine? And yet they have no root?”

    You’re mixing the metaphors. From one perspective, some seeds are on rocky soil and have no root, and therefore, though they live for a time (a time = to the time they believe: its always faith that gives any kind of real life), they will wither.

    From another perspective, all the branches are in the vine equally. Some heed the call to bear fruit, abide over time in the vine and bear fruit. Some don’t and are taken away from *being in the vine*.

  116. pduggan said,

    May 2, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    113 is in response to 108

  117. pduggan said,

    May 2, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    “Was Judas a “non-elect believer” [NO]- saved [DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN] for a while [YES] when he spent three years in close communion [YES!] and fellowship [YES!] with Jesus – then he becomes a non-elect unbeliever?! [YES] He was never saved to begin with! [DEPENDS]

    No, Judas is not a “believer”. He’s an example of a hypocrite, rather than a temporary believer like many of those in teh crowds in John, or Simon the sorceror. But its interesting all the great things that the gospels say Judas had and became

    “Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”

    Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.

    “I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

    You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

    This last one is particulalry interesting, since it seems to be the basis in Acts 1 of the replacement of Judas as one of the 12. What is the relationship of the 12 to the INVISIBLE church? There have to be 12 over the invisible church. One of them is kaput, but his office goes to another.

  118. Andy Gilman said,

    May 2, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Can you connect the dots for me? I’m having trouble seeing how #113 responds to my post in #108? The only thing I said in #108 was:

    [BOQ]
    Paul, you can’t be serious. Are you going to try to argue that in these four quotes from Bill Smith’s “Philosophy of Ministry,” he only means to argue for a visible church, where the members are in communion with one another?:
    [EOQ]

    The rest of that post was simply quotes to accompany this question. In what way does #113 answer this question?

  119. jared said,

    May 2, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Andy,

    I would, in this particular instance, disagree with Calvin’s interpretation of John 15:2. The metaphor does not hold any meaning if the branches, fruitful or otherwise, are not connected to the vine. An interesting question this quote from Calvin brings up, however, is can men corrupt God’s grace? Or, rather, is God’s grace corruptable? I suppose that depends on which type of grace (or how much?) is given, but in the case of those branches which are cut off, it would seem that the grace which grafted/grew them to begin with is no longer present/functional. Ultimately Anne, and the Wesminster Divines, are correct in stating that there are only two kinds of people: sheep and goats, saved and unsaved. Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension are wholly effectual for the invisible church (which only God can see, according to the WCF); it seems clear to me that the vine metaphor is not speaking of the invisible church.

  120. N Harper said,

    May 2, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Keith,

    Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits….by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:15,20

    Take a good look at those nine declarations – the unbiblical fruit of false prophets.

  121. jared said,

    May 2, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    N Harper,

    Why don’t you take a good look at the whole report and see how the committee doesn’t call FV advocates “false prophets.” Being in disagreement with the Westminster Standards does not, by any stretch, make one a false prophet. Clearly this committee understands that truth. Your carelessness here labels many as false prophets whom no teaching or ruling elder in all of the General Assembly would even think of calling false prophets. C.S. Lewis comes immediately to mind, as does G.K. Chesterton; there are many more who would fit in their category. The PCA does not possess a quorum on truth as it relates to the gospel and salvation, nor would it ever claim such authority.

  122. Keith LaMothe said,

    May 2, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    N. Harper,

    I suggest we resume this conversation after the Judgement on the last day if should such a thing be permitted.

  123. Andy Gilman said,

    May 2, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    I realize Calvin’s views with regard to John 15.2 and Luke 8:13 are rejected by the FV, but here’s something more from Calvin, Institutes 3.2.11, regarding the question of “non-elect believers,” or “temporary faith.” I think Calvin’s “inferior operation of the Spirit” must be what the WCF means by “common operations of the Spirit:”

    [BOQ]
    I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election; and yet the difficulty is easily solved: for though none are enlightened into faith, and truly feel the efficacy of the Gospel, with the exception of those who are fore-ordained to salvation, yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. Should it be objected, that believers have no stronger testimony to assure them of their adoption, I answer, that though there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith, yet the elect alone have that full assurance which is extolled by Paul, and by which they are enabled to cry, Abba, Father. Therefore, as God regenerates the elect only for ever by incorruptible seed, as the seed of life once sown in their hearts never perishes, so he effectually seals in them the grace of his adoption, that it may be sure and steadfast. But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate. Meanwhile, believers are taught to examine themselves carefully and humbly, lest carnal security creep in and take the place of assurance of faith. We may add, that the reprobate never have any other than a confused sense of grace, laying hold of the shadow rather than the substance, because the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the elect only, applying it by special faith to their use. Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.
    [EOQ]

  124. jared said,

    May 2, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Andy,

    I’m not an FV advocate, just so you know. The quote from Calvin’s Institutes seems to run contrary to his interpretation of John 15:2. FV, as I understand it, says pretty much this very same thing. The difference between Calvin and Wilson is a matter of theological language and terms. For instance, Calvin would not call the reprobate “believers” because “believers” on his scheme can only refer to those fore-ordained (it’s a lot like how we in the PCA understand the term “Christian”). It doesn’t change the fact that if you ask one of them they would call themselves believers and (at the time) we would not be able to distinguish them from one who is not reprobate. If Calvin were alive today he would be much more friendly to FV than a lot of those who claim his name have been; at least that’s what this quote seems to imply. He might not whole-heartedly agree, but at least he would understand.

  125. N Harper said,

    May 2, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    As much as I desire Christian unity, it is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error.

    It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals than to tell a lie that comforts and then kills.

    It is better to stand alone with the truth than to be wrong with a multitude.

    It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie.

  126. N Harper said,

    May 2, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Don’t worry, guys. These declarations won’t label anyone a false prophet – they will just become nine more granted exceptions to the WS.

  127. Keith LaMothe said,

    May 3, 2007 at 8:21 am

    N. Harper,

    Re: comment #126. Actually, I agree with all of your 4 statements. As Tozer (I think) once said, piling all the ecclesiastical corpses into the same graveyard will not give us revival. I’ve been involved in a number of campus ministries in my area and I’m deeply frustrated by the constant mush about “unity” which merely wants “working together” and seems to completely ignore the need to come to a doctrinal agreement.

    So how far off does a doctrine need to be for it to be considered “error”? What do think of the views at this site which say that any persistent deviation of doctrine at all means the person is not regenerate?

  128. Andy Gilman said,

    May 3, 2007 at 9:15 am

    “The quote from Calvin’s Institutes seems to run contrary to his interpretation of John 15:2.”

    Jared, the two quotes seemed to me to agree with each other. Where do you see a contradiction?

    “I’m not an FV advocate, just so you know.”

    Thanks, there are FV advocates participating on this blog who do not like Calvin’s interpretation of John 15:2, so I assumed you also were here to defend the FV.

  129. jared said,

    May 3, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Andy,

    In the Institutes you quote Calvin thus:

    …yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption.

    And in his commentary:

    Every branch in me that beareth not fruit. As some men corrupt the grace of God, others suppress it maliciously, and others choke it by carelessness, Christ intends by these words to awaken anxious inquiry, by declaring that all the branches which shall be unfruitful will be cut off from the vine. But here comes a question. Can any one who is engrafted into Christ be without fruit? I ANSWER, MANY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE VINE, ACCORDING TO THE OPINION OF MEN, WHO ACTUALLY HAVE NO ROOT IN THE VINE. (emhpasis added by Andy)

    How is it possible for Christ to affect a temporary faith in those reprobate if they have not at least a temporary root in Him? How is it possible to “taste the heavenly gifts” if you don’t have some access to the One who provides them? A branch that has no root can get no food. Calvin, in the Institures, wishes to acknowledge that some reprobate (namely those within the visible church) are privy to some (if not many) of the blessings such a status provides. However, in his commentary on John 15:2, he says that those branches which are cut off have no root. Calvin notes that “the Lord calls the people of Israel his vine, because, by outward profession, they had the name of The Church” but he doesn’t seem to make the connection that those branches which are cut off are part of the vine until they are separated.

    I’m sure he understands that no branches have roots but we aren’t going for botanical accuracy here, rather “root” seems to be used by Calvin as a substitute for “attached” or “grounded” or “connected” as the branch is associated with the vine. So to say that the branches which are cut off from the vine actually have no “root” in the vine is to say that those branches are not attached, or grounded, or connected to the vine. This, in turn, seems to preclude them from being cut off; for what need is there to cut them off from the vine if they aren’t, in fact, a part of the vine? It would be like excommunicating someone who isn’t a member of your church. You know they don’t belong, but there’s not really a whole lot you can do about it.

    I do not currently dispute Calvin’s contention that these particular reprobate are graced with an “inferior operation of the Spirit” and it is exactly on this point (among others) that I do not agree with FV. FV seems to teach that those reprobate within the visible church are granted the same regeneration, justification, grace, etc. as those who are not reprobate. I, for one, do not see how the same regeneration can result in two different outcomes (though I don’t doubt this could be the case as God works).

  130. Tim Wilder said,

    May 3, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    At #125 jared said,

    “I’m not an FV advocate, just so you know.”

    What do you call this then?

    http://civitate-dei.blogspot.com/2006/10/christian-ritualism.html

  131. jared said,

    May 3, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Tim,

    I call it reflecting on Leithart’s devistatingly insightful critique of contemporary evangelicalism. What would you call it? Last time I checked, there wasn’t anything which necessitates that cultural commentary come only from those who advocate FV. The last half of Nancy Pearcy’s Total Truth is equally brutal towards contemporary evangelicalism, but not quite as elegant as Leithart’s handling; I’m pretty sure she isn’t an advocate of FV. Also, I’m certain that reading FV material is not tantamount to whole-heartedly embraching FV theology.

  132. jared said,

    May 3, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Or “embracing”, as the case may be…

  133. Andy Gilman said,

    May 3, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    In #130 Jared said:

    [BOQ]
    How is it possible for Christ to affect a temporary faith in those reprobate if they have not at least a temporary root in Him? How is it possible to “taste the heavenly gifts” if you don’t have some access to the One who provides them? A branch that has no root can get no food. Calvin, in the Institures, wishes to acknowledge that some reprobate (namely those within the visible church) are privy to some (if not many) of the blessings such a status provides.
    [EOQ]

    Yes, Calvin acknowledges that some reprobates receive some “common operations of the Spirit,” but notice the word “ascribe” in the Calvin quote. Tasting of the “heavenly gifts” and possessing a “temporary faith” is something that is “ascribed” to them, but it is not truly possessed by them. God “instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption.” They are never “adopted.”

    You say “Calvin, in the Institures, wishes to acknowledge that some reprobate (namely those within the visible church) are privy to some (if not many) of the blessings such a status provides.” Yes, no one denies that they receive an “inferior operation of the Spirit.” But this is not a contradiction of what he says about John 15:2. Nowhere in the Institutes quote is he saying that the reprobate are “rooted in the vine,” and thereby contradicting his comments regarding John 15:2.

    You say “How is it possible for Christ to *affect* a temporary faith in those reprobate if they have not at least a temporary root in Him?” (my emphasis), but in the quote from the Institutes, Calvin denies that they have any “living root” in the vine. He is clear that “In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith.” Calvin says: “When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection.” Those with “temporary faith” are dead, and not under God’s protection. How is that any different from what Calvin said about John 15:2?

  134. Xon said,

    May 3, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Jared,

    I do not currently dispute Calvin’s contention that these particular reprobate are graced with an “inferior operation of the Spirit” and it is exactly on this point (among others) that I do not agree with FV. FV seems to teach that those reprobate within the visible church are granted the same regeneration, justification, grace, etc. as those who are not reprobate.

    Actually, almost you have persuaded yourself to become FV! :-) The vast majority of FVers (really, James Jordan is the ONLY FV exception in print on this, I think) affirm that there is a “qualitative” difference between the blessings received by elect and non-elect covenant members.

  135. pduggan said,

    May 3, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    “Tasting of the “heavenly gifts” and possessing a “temporary faith” is something that is “ascribed” to them, but it is not truly possessed by them.”

    If that’s what Calvin is saying I think that’s incoherent.

    A “Joe tasted heavenly gifts”

    B “We can ascribe the tasting of heavenly gifts to Joe, even though he truly tastes nothing”

    A and B are not the same at all. They are contradictory

    Sometimes Calvin is a great rhetorical polemicists for why nothing seems to mean anything other than what supports his own position, but maybe he goes too far. Or maybe you’re misinterpreting him here.

    What does saying “ascribe” do? It rhetorically distances possession of temporary faith from the person, but that only serves to undermine the point

    If someone possesses temporary faith, then they truly possess temporary faith. full stop. Why say anything more? What more *can* you add without denying what you affirmed at first?

    Is the ascription like saying we ascribe “repentance” and “grief” to God, even though nothing truly like grief or repentance occur? But that kind of language only exists to deal with the aseity and transcendence of God. Why does it come in here?

  136. jared said,

    May 3, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Andy,

    It is (1) an inconsistency of application and (2) a misunderstanding on Calvin’s part about the relationship between a vine and its branches.

    (1) Calvin’s use of “ascribe” is vague. What does ascribe mean? If I have been ascribed $100, am I not the possessor of those monies? If I am ascribed temporary faith, do I not have (i.e. possess) it even though it be temporary? I would, in fact, argue that those who are adopted are also “ascribed” faith, it’s just not a temporary faith. In this sense, those with temporary faith are rooted in vine (that is to say, they are branches); this is why I say Calvin is contradicting himself. It also leads into the next point.

    (2) Vines don’t have branches that aren’t rooted in them. Branches are either in the vine or not in the vine, there’s no middle-ground of connectedness. John 15:2 quite plainly states that those branches which are cut off were “in Christ”, just as those branches which are pruned. To say that these branches are not rooted in Christ is, essentially, to deny the very plain words of Jesus; the Father cuts them out of the Son. The only way you could be more “in Christ” than being a branch is by being a branch that produces fruit. The branches which fail to prodce fruit, however, are no less in the vine. So in “ascribing” the reprobate a measure of faith and a tasting of the heavenly gifts, Calvin is effectively acknowledging that they are “in Christ” because that’s the only place one could experience those things.

    This is not “Jared vs. Calvin” here and I’m certainly not trying to ursurp or “trump” Calvin’s brilliance. But he was a man and men are not perfect, so it’s okay if there’s an inconsistency (or two) amongst his body of literature. I believe Calvin has the right idea, he just didn’t write it down as well as he could have.

    Xon,

    Like I said, I’m much more sympathetic than many of my PCA peers ;-) I haven’t done enough reading to “make the jump” as it were, and I may never (make the jump, that is). I won’t lose any sleep about it in either case…

  137. Andy Gilman said,

    May 3, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Calvin’s views on “temporary faith” are made clear in the first sentence. “I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election…” So faith is “attributed” or “ascribed” to the reprobate, but, says Calvin, the apostle Paul has “declared that faith is a fruit of election.” Do you suppose that Calvin is arguing that the reprobate have faith, despite the fact that Paul has declared it to be a “fruit of election?” The reprobate do not have faith. They do not “truly feel the efficacy of the Gospel,” they do not “truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith.” You might disagree with Calvin, but I’m not sure how it can be any clearer than that.

  138. Andy Gilman said,

    May 3, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    In #137 Jared said:

    [BOQ]
    (1) Calvin’s use of “ascribe” is vague. What does ascribe mean? If I have been ascribed $100, am I not the possessor of those monies?
    [EOQ]

    Right, it does not mean that you possess the money. If I ascribe to you, or attribute to you, the title of “FV advocate,” does that make you and “FV advocate?”

  139. jared said,

    May 3, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Andy,

    You’re committing the very same equivocation errors as the PCA study. What term should be used to denote “temporary faith”? I agree with Calvin that the reprobate don’t have faith, they have whatever “temporary faith” is. I suppose that Calvin is trying to figure out a way to describe whatever it is that the reprobate have because faith is possessed exclusively by the true believer. Calvin is saying the reprobate has “faith” while the elect has faith; this is exactly what FV says, what the vine metaphor implies, and where I, again, agree with Calvin.

    The problem for Calvin is that both “faith” and faith are from/with/in Christ. There’s no other place whence “faith” or faith can originate, the vine has fruitful branches and fruitless branches. Those reprobate which happen to be part of the vine are, indeed, rooted in Christ. Their roots are shallow and they will not survive, but they are rooted there nonetheless until such a shaking calamity befalls them. While they are there they will enjoy the benefits of their status, i.e. they will taste the heavenly gifts. Calvin is mistaken when he says those branches are not rooted in the vine (as per his commentary), but he is right about the type of “faith” they have, or have been ascribed (as per his Institutes). Why do I feel like I’m repeating myself?

    Let’s think about this “ascribing” a little more carefully. First, you didn’t offer a hard definition of “ascribe” so, allow me. Ascribe – to credit or assign. You say that if someone ascribes (or attributes, as you say) to me $100 that I do not, then, possess that amount. So, if someone has ascribed $100 to me, they have credited or assigned that amount to me. You, then, are denying that I possess it? Then what was all that ascribing business about? You are ascribing me the title “FV advocate.” Does this make me an FV advocate? Well, in a sense it does because that is now how you perceive me; you won’t ever see me as anything else but an FV advocate, so as far as your concerned the ascribing has effectively made me such. Now in this case it happens to be untrue, but I think you get my point.

  140. N Harper said,

    May 3, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    This only I want to learn from you; Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:2-3

    For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Galatians 3: 10-11

    Declaration #9: The view that justification is in any way based on our works, or that the so-called “final verdict of justification” is based on anything other than the perfect obedience and satisfaction of Christ received through faith alone, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

    If any leader teaches View #9, according to the Scriptures, he is putting not only himself, but also his listeners under a curse. If he teaches this view, he is not in the Spirit; he is, according to Scripture, foolishly attempting to be made perfect by the flesh and leading others to do the same. He is turning himself and others from Him who calls us in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel which is not another. He is perverting the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7) The FV advocates hold to View #9; they are cursing themselves and whole congregations. FV critics are not calling them cursed or false prophets. The Scriptures are! Their argument is with God. I am not an “accuser of the brethren” because false teachers – those who have placed themselves under the curse, are not in the Spirit, are perverting the gospel and leading others astray – they are NOT my brothers in Christ.

  141. Todd said,

    May 3, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Hey, Neil. What church are you a member of?

  142. Andy Gilman said,

    May 3, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Jared,

    I’m making one simple argument at this point. For the time being I’m not making any judgments about whether or not Calvin is right (I believe he is, but I’m trying to limit the argument to keep it from getting too confused). You are saying that Calvin is contradicting himself in the two quotes at issue. I’m saying there is no contradiction in those quotes. Right now your assertion hangs on your faulty understanding of the word “ascribe.” Even if I were to bump my head, and you then managed to convince me that you are using the word “ascribe” correctly, the rest of Calvin’s statement says just the opposite. So Calvin would be contradicting Calvin in the same paragraph. But that’s not what he is doing. The reprobate “seem to have a principle of faith,” the reprobate have “no living root of faith.” This is in perfect agreement with his commentary.

    You said:

    [BOQ]
    Let’s think about this “ascribing” a little more carefully. First, you didn’t offer a hard definition of “ascribe” so, allow me. Ascribe – to credit or assign. You say that if someone ascribes (or attributes, as you say) to me $100 that I do not, then, possess that amount. So, if someone has ascribed $100 to me, they have credited or assigned that amount to me. You, then, are denying that I possess it? Then what was all that ascribing business about?
    [EOQ]

    When did you ever hear the word “ascribe” used in such a way? Can you find me an example where “ascribe” is used like that in a sentence; where someone ascribes $100 to someone else? When you look at the definition of ascribe, and you see it involves the word “credit,” it’s not talking about a financial credit.

    Ascribe:

    1. to credit or assign, as to a cause or source; attribute; impute: The alphabet is usually ascribed to the Phoenicians.
    2. to attribute or think of as belonging, as a quality or characteristic: They ascribed courage to me for something I did out of sheer panic.

    Clearly this second definition of “ascribe” is Calvin’s meaning. Just like you use it when you say:

    [BOQ]
    You are ascribing me the title “FV advocate.” Does this make me an FV advocate? Well, in a sense it does because that is now how you perceive me; you won’t ever see me as anything else but an FV advocate, so as far as your concerned the ascribing has effectively made me such. Now in this case it happens to be untrue, but I think you get my point.
    [EOQ]

    The question is not how I perceive you. In the example, the question is “are you really an FV advocate merely because I attribute, or ascribe, ‘FV advocacy’ to you?” In Calvin’s example, you want to say that Calvin acknowledges that the reprobate does in fact have temporary faith, merely because he accepts that Christ “ascribes” to the reprobate a temporary faith. With that reasoning, you must then acknowledge that you are, in fact (not merely in my perception), an FV advocate, merely because I say you are.

    In case it isn’t clear, I’m not saying you are an FV advocate. I only used it as an example (thinking I was being clever), because you clearly denied that you are an FV advocate.

    I’m afraid we could both spend the better parts of lives in futile attempts to try to persuade the other on this point, so I’ll leave it there.

  143. jared said,

    May 3, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Andy,

    Spending the better parts of our lives on this? May it never be! You’ve convinced me that Calvin is not being inconsistent (at least here) between his understanding of “temporary faith” and his understanding of what it means to not be rooted in Christ. For Calvin, someone who is rooted in Christ cannot have a temporary faith and someone who has only a temporary faith cannot be rooted in Christ. I get it; though I still think he is missing the mark with the whole vine metaphor.

    N Harper,

    I don’t know of any FV advocate who teaches view #9. That may be due to the fact that my exposure to FV has been filtered primarily through Wilson and the discussion that takes place on his blog. I’ve not seen any FV advocate there who teaches (or even agrees with) view #9, nor have I seen any FV advocates here espouse such a view. I don’t imagine one who held to this view would last very long, here or on Wilson’s blog…

  144. N Harper said,

    May 3, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Jared,

    If there were no advocates of #9, why would the Study committee include it in their report? There must be a legitimate concern or they would not have reported it. And, oh how I wish those who held this view would not last very long! But they have existed for centuries!

  145. Tim Wilder said,

    May 3, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Re: #144 and “no advocates of view #9″

    There is this guy currently being hyped on FV blogs:

    http://www.reformationsuperhighway.com/viewthread.php?tid=1165

    “I now believe that the “final judgment” will be focused on “works”; and the outcome?—God’s people will be vindicated in Christ, in accordance with their union with Christ, and the “Obedience of Faith” wrought in them by the Spirit.”

  146. May 4, 2007 at 7:22 am

    Tim,
    I am on your side, I am not a sympathizer of FV. What do we do with WCF 33:1 that seems to focus on the judgment of our works. How do we look at this compared to what you say about the ‘Reformation Superhighway’ guy and what he said (‘I now believe that the ‘final judgment’…’)?

    WCF 33:1 God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ (Act_17:31), to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father (Joh_5:22, Joh_5:27). In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged (1Co_6:3; 2Pe_2:4; Jud_1:6), but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil (Ecc_12:14; Mat_12:36, Mat_12:37; Rom_2:16; Rom_14:10, Rom_14:12; 2Co_5:10).

  147. Keith LaMothe said,

    May 4, 2007 at 7:50 am

    On the issue of whether all those declarations can be applied to the FV, are any of them intended to apply only to the NPP? The report addressed both, and treated them as seperate (though related).

    Proving that NPP is out of conformity with Westminster wouldn’t seem to be a very difficult task, though.

  148. Tim Wilder said,

    May 4, 2007 at 8:03 am

    Re: 147

    Note that he is talking about “vindicated in Christ”. That is FV talk for justification. He is talking about a final judgment regarding justification.

  149. jared said,

    May 4, 2007 at 8:11 am

    N Harper,

    Because the PCA study committee didn’t (1) do it’s job completely and (2) didn’t have anyone on the committee like Wilkins or Leithart (or Wilson) to make sure they weren’t misunderstanding/misrepresenting the FV position. Also because some NPP advocates hold such a view.

    Tim,

    There’s a marked difference between saying that justification comes via works and saying that the final judgment will be focused on works. I seem to recall Jesus saying something about repaying each man according to his works and I think John records that we are judged according to what is written in the book(s) of life. I think it’s probably safe (and certainly not un-reformed) to say that the judgment will be focused on works. God’s people will, indeed, be vindicated (justified) because of their union in Christ (which is by faith alone) and because of their perseverance (“Obedience of Faith”) rendered through the Holy Spirit which is obtained by faith alone. I’ve not heard any FV advocate say/teach otherwise. How does this fit with declaration 9?

  150. Anne Ivy said,

    May 4, 2007 at 8:20 am

    There will be a final judgment of our works, to be sure, but for someone in Christ it’s not for the purpose of making the cut into glory, but rather whether one will be received with plaudits of “Well done, good and faithful servant” (which we tend to erroneously assume everyone entering heaven will hear) or will scurry in á la 1 Corinthians 3:15 “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

  151. Tim Wilder said,

    May 4, 2007 at 8:24 am

    So ”Obedience of Faith” according to you means perserverance, and is the ground of justification? Surely you realize that this is Arminianism?

  152. jared said,

    May 4, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Anne,

    Exactly.

    Tim,

    How so? Arminians believe that perseverance is a result of self, that is, I choose to remain in Christ and, therefore, I have obtained the prize by remaining faithful, right? This is in complete contrast with Calvinism (and FV) which maintains Christ is the one who keeps us. In other words, if we have not been given a faith which perseveres (a living faith, a faith that works as James says), then we have not been justified through our union with Christ. I stress “given” because our faith is not produced of self, lest we boast in anything but what Christ has done.

  153. Andy Gilman said,

    May 4, 2007 at 9:08 am

    In #150 Jared said:

    [BOQ]
    …be vindicated (justified) because of their union in Christ (which is by faith alone) and because of their perseverance (”Obedience of Faith”) rendered through the Holy Spirit which is obtained by faith alone.
    [EOQ]

    I know you don’t consider yourself and FV advocate Jared, but since you are articulating the FV position, I’ll pick on you. This is exactly what the OPC report was talking about when it said that Lusk’s “Union with Christ” paradigm “swallows up” every theological problem. Here we have “union with Christ” swallowing up “justification.” And of course, to say that we are justified by Spirit wrought (“rendered through the Holy Spirit”)works, is a clear denial that justification is by faith alone.

  154. Anne Ivy said,

    May 4, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Jared, heaven knows I love to be agreed with, and “Exactly” is music to my ears (art to my eyes?), but the FV disagrees with what I wrote. The FV says “final justification” is about getting through the pearly gates, period; what I wrote (and believe Scripture teaches) is that our post-conversion temporal works determine whether we are greeted with high fives and “Way to GO! Lookin’ GOOD!” or “Boy oh boy, are YOU ever lucky it’s faith alone that saves, else you’d be toast.”

    Now, it’s great that you agree with me (as every right-thinking person should do, naturally >;^> ), but what I wrote doesn’t jibe with what you’d written.

    So I’m a little perplexed.

  155. Tim Wilder said,

    May 4, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Re: # 158

    Arminianism is the teaching that faith is the formal cause of justification.

  156. jared said,

    May 4, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Andy,

    Not at all. Here’s the formula as I understand it:

    Faith (alone) produces works and salvation.

    Both works and salvation come from the gift of faith. To say that we aren’t justified by Spirit wrought works (the first of which is faith, well, “technically” I suppose it’s regeneration but you get what I mean) is a clear denial that justification is by faith alone. Or, at least it’s a clear denial of justification by God alone (which is more important, in my opinion).

    Anne,

    Perplexed, eh? Let’s see what I can do about that. “Final justification” is about getting through the pearly gates, on both the FV scheme and the TR scheme (as I understand them). The traditional reformed position is that there is no difference between the justification one intially receives in Christ upon becoming a Christian and the justification which gets one in the gates. The FV position is that there is no difference between the justification one intially receives in Christ upon becoming a Christian and the justification which gets one in the gates. Those seem identical, don’t they? The difference is that the TR position ends with that sentence and the FV position begins with that sentence and then goes on to explain what justification means in relation to being a Christian, how one can be a “Christian” but not a Christian, and how the justification that a “Christian” has is, in fact, different from the justification that a Christian has. In other words, the FV position takes into consideration the corporate langauge/nature of the Bible while the TR position merely bypasses it and skips right to the heart of the issue. At the heart they are saying the same thing, as far as I can tell: a Christian enters heaven by grace through faith in Christ’s work.

    FV explains what the “by grace through faith” part looks like in the life of the believer, namely it looks like covenantal obedience. Why should it look this way? Well, they argue, because that’s what Christ’s life looks like and that’s what we are told to strive towards. I will “go on record” and say that I agree with FV to the extent that I believe FV explains in greater/deeper/sharper detail what the TR position has always been. I will also say that I disagree with FV (and TR, for that matter) to the extent that I understand their views to be contradicting what the Scriptures teach. I’ve been saying all along that I know of no FV advocate who says making that final “cut into glory” comes from anywhere but faith in Christ. FV says that this faith in Christ must be living/working/obedient faith, and I agree. TR says that this faith in Christ must be alone, and I agree. Salvation is God’s from start to finish; but I, for one, will not consider FV unreformed simply because they talk about what goes on in the middle.

    Tim,

    I think God’s predestining is the “formal” cause…

  157. Tim Wilder said,

    May 4, 2007 at 10:45 am

    The Reformed is is that the righteousness of Christ is the formal cause of justification. That is should be the mere will of God is a view held by some Socinians, and as far as I know, nobody else except you.

  158. Anne Ivy said,

    May 4, 2007 at 10:59 am

    So the FV acknowledges that what might look like dandy covenantal obedience from our vantage point sometimes winds up with every single one of those “good works” burnt up and blown away at final justification so that all that’s left is the foundation, i.e. faith in Christ, and the now works-less person still enters glory?

  159. N Harper said,

    May 4, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Jared #150,

    Doug Wilson is not a member of the PCA. The committee members must be teaching or ruling elders in the PCA.

  160. N Harper said,

    May 4, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Todd #142,

    You asked a wonderful question! I am so glad you asked!

    Read Galatians 4:21-26. Also, read Declarations #1 and #2 in the study report.

    Todd, I am a redeemed sinner saved by God’s amazing grace through the administration of the New Covenant in Christ Jesus. I once was in bondage to sin, born of the bondwoman under the condemnation of the visible Jerusalem – Mt. Sinai, the law. But, now, I have been born again by the “freewoman”- by the Holy Spirit and have become a member of God’s invisible church – the Jerusalem above which is free!

    Are you a member of God’s invisible church – the Jerusalem above which is free? I pray that you are!

  161. N Harper said,

    May 4, 2007 at 11:25 am

    These people draw near to Me with their mouth,… but their heart is far from Me. Matthew 15:8

    A builder in California has come up with an innovative idea to sell his houses. He thinks that a good way to make a house more appealing is to have a family there when showing the house. So he hires actors to play happy families in his company’s model homes. Would-be buyers can ask them questions about the house. Each fake family cooks, watches television, and plays games while house-hunters wander through.
    -From today’s Our Daily Bread

    That type of faking may not do any harm, but think about the sham of the FV teachers in today’s visible church.

  162. Andy Gilman said,

    May 4, 2007 at 11:27 am

    In #157 Jared said:

    [BOQ]
    To say that we aren’t justified by Spirit wrought works (the first of which is faith, well, “technically” I suppose it’s regeneration but you get what I mean) is a clear denial that justification is by faith alone.
    [EOQ]

    So your view is that since faith is a “Spirit wrought” gift from God, and since the works which always accompany faith are also “Spirit wrought” gifts from God, then it okay to claim that that we are justified by both faith and works? Or is it simply your claim that “faith” is synonymous with “works?”

  163. Andy Gilman said,

    May 4, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Like Andrew Voelkel from the Reformation Superhighway link which Tim provided yesterday says:

    [BOQ]
    I now believe that “Faith” & “Works” are more “Synonymous” than “Antonymous.”
    [EOQ]

  164. Andy Gilman said,

    May 4, 2007 at 11:39 am

    He hedges his statement by saying that they are “more ‘Synonymous’ than ‘Antonymous,’” but I think he’s just trying to be clever. No one says that faith is antonymous with works. Faith is not the opposite of works, but it clearly is not the same as works. It looks like Andrew wants to make them synonymous, without coming right out and saying so.

    Sort of like saying, an apple is more “synonymous” with an orange than it is “antonymous” with an orange.

  165. greenbaggins said,

    May 4, 2007 at 11:45 am

    The standard form of Reformation phraseology on faith and works is that in justification they are utterly opposed to one another, whereas in sanctification they are intimately conjoined.

  166. Andy Gilman said,

    May 4, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Lane,

    When you say “utterly opposed,” I think I know what you mean, but following as it does, my comments in #166, it could look like you are trying to say that they are “antonyms,” with regard to justification. They are seperate concepts, and works play no part in justification, but faith is not, by definition, the opposite of works, whether in relation to justification or sanctification.

  167. N Harper said,

    May 4, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
    Ephesians 2:8-9

    The simple gospel, guys. Could not be any plainer.

  168. greenbaggins said,

    May 4, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    What I mean is that when Paul talks about justification, he mentions the theoretical possibility of completely obeying the law. This is the works principle. In order for it to work, one has to obey everything in the law, and because of our sin, we cannot do that. Then, there is the faith principle. This says that someone else has done all that for us. One cannot be justified by both systems. It is either works or faith, but not both. *In justification,* therefore, faith and works are opposed systems of justification. Romans 4 is exceptionally clear on this.

  169. N Harper said,

    May 4, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    A minister once shared this story:
    There were two brothers who were wicked, ungodly, lascivious men. They were perverts, adulterers, drunkards, thieves, brawlers, blasphemous – you name it.
    One of those brothers died, and the other brother came to a preacher and said, “I will give you a thousand dollars if you will preach my brother’s funeral and call him a saint.”
    The preacher said, “You’ve got a deal.”
    At the funeral, with the living brother sitting up front, the preacher stood up and pointed to the deceased. “The man in this casket was a liar, a thief, a drunkard, a pervert, an adulterer, and a blasphemer. But compared to his brother here, he was a saint.”

    You can make anyone appear saintly; you can make any theology appear to be biblical if you move the line far enough. Will the PCA draw the line far enough to include the Federal Vision and the nine declarations in her theology as she is doing now?Or, will PCA leaders have the courage to draw the line between the Word of God and false teaching? That is my prayer.

    To Lane and Andy: Amen. Justification is a one-way street. If you have true faith, then works of faith will follow. But, you can’t go the other way (works first will never lead to true faith).

  170. Keith LaMothe said,

    May 4, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Lane, Re: 169, is there any sense at all in which we are justified by works?

    *carefully sets the mousetrap labeled “James chapter 2″*

    I’m aware of a number of explanations for James meaning something different than Paul, but I would like to know the one you consider best.

  171. greenbaggins said,

    May 4, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    Without any equivocation, I espouse the view that justification is being used in two different senses wrt Paul and James. Paul means how we are declared not guilty. James is referring to evidential proof of a living faith. I would argue that “works” is defined the same in James and Paul (the works of the law; all works), and that “faith” is defined differently (Paul’s faith is a faith alone, whereas James’s faith is a faith that is not alone).

  172. dick said,

    May 4, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    GB: What happened to the Siouxlands study committee report on FV? I can’t find it anymore.

  173. greenbaggins said,

    May 4, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    It was removed because, at the time, it was not part of the approved minutes.

  174. May 5, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Jared
    You don’t like the PCA report so, in concert with the FV choir, you accuse them of malfeasance. But of course this was to be expected. Anyone and everyone who does not jump for joy over the ‘ recovery’ of the ‘real’ Reformed tradition by the FV is totally in the dark. This includes the OPC report as well. Oh, this just in- Francis Beckwith, the sitting president of the ETS has in fact converted to Roman Catholicism ( see James White’s website). The next committee that is formed to access the FV should be chaired by Dr. Beckwith. This would guanrantee a ‘fair’ verdict for the FV.

  175. David McCrory said,

    May 5, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Mr. Johnson, please take this in the spirit intended. Your explicit invective and ever sharpening sarcasm are not consonnate with someone who has come in contact with God’s grace. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attempting to judge your heart, simpy the fruit which I have seen here in almost every post you put forth that I’ve read, and for which you must one day give account. I am thankful I am not under the ministry and authority of one who is capable of devising such scorn towards others (not only above, but in other posts as well).

    I know nothing of you other than what you’ve posted here, some of your writings, and that you labor in the PCA. I am in no position to admonish or rebuke you, but maybe your brethren, to whom you are accountable are. I pray to God I’m right in my assessment of your words, and that other godly men who have the ability to reach you, see the validity of my concern in the Lord and for His testimony, and will act upon it.

    As to all, theological and acedemic exercise is not the way to eternal life. I only pray, you place twice the effort in guarding and shepherding your flocks that you place in you protect your dogma. Don’t stop guarding doctrine, but guard your hearts and the hearts of those in your care all the more. I pray the Lord grants us wisdom. And may the love of God the Father, in Christ Jesus be your motivation, not the satisfaction of winning a debate, or tearing down a brother.

  176. Anne Ivy said,

    May 5, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    BTW, I’d really be interested in a response from an FV-friendly commenter regarding my question in #159, which I’ll restate so you don’t have to scroll back up:

    So the FV acknowledges that what might look like dandy covenantal obedience from our vantage point sometimes winds up with every single one of those “good works” burnt up and blown away at final justification so that all that’s left is the foundation, i.e. faith in Christ, and the now works-less person still enters glory?

  177. May 6, 2007 at 6:55 am

    David
    I have not called people names like, ” liar, ignorant and envious, hateful, sub-Christian and yellow-belly”. I did say that Mark Horne,who did use some of these epithets to describe critics of the FV,was “ill-mannered” but I withdrewn that and apologizes to him saying instead that Mark had displayed a short fuse with his temper.William Hill, on the other hand I did consider very “ill-mannered”.And, yes, I have used ridicule and sarcaism, but I have done so in response to a crowd of people devoted to defending the FV by heaping their rancor on the critics of the FV-people like Guy Waters, Scott Clark,and the study committees of both the PCA and the OPC.And I will continue to use such speech to underscore the obvious Mr McCory despite your displeasure with me.It is a sad day when the sitting president of the ETS converts to Rome and you, a Protestant minister, are more concerned about my sarcasism and its inappropriateness in describing the glaring collation between the Romeward bent of the FV and Francis Beckwith.

  178. May 6, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    Gary,

    You and I know both know that FV doesn’t care about Protestants who apostacize to Rome. Many (most? all?) FV would even recoil at calling such people apostates. That’d get in the way of their postmillennial ecumenical dreams that they share with the Anglo-Papists. It is, after all, their baptism that counts, right?

    As a matter of fact, I wonder if this fellow’s church even excommunicated him after his FV beliefs formed a bridge for him to cross the Tiber (without even getting wet).

  179. May 6, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    whoops. I meant Anglo-Papists

  180. May 6, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    OK, the link to Reformedcatholicism.com wasn’t working for some reason. Either that or I’m just not getting the hang of these html tags. D’oh!

  181. Todd said,

    May 6, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    “Many (most? all?) FV would even recoil at calling such people apostates.”

    Any evidence for this, David? Which FV guys are you thinking of here?

  182. Anne Ivy said,

    May 6, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Would I be correct in assuming that the FV does not square with the situation posed in post #177, which is why no FV-friendly commenter has agreed with it?

  183. pduggie said,

    May 6, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    “So the FV acknowledges that what might look like dandy covenantal obedience from our vantage point sometimes winds up with every single one of those “good works” burnt up and blown away at final justification so that all that’s left is the foundation, i.e. faith in Christ, and the now works-less person still enters glory?”

    Why would anyone acknowledge that? You will know a tree by its fruit. If someone professes faith and has fruit, I would have every expectation that what he is building on the foundation is gold and precious stones, not hay and stubble.

  184. Anne Ivy said,

    May 6, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Yet according to Paul, there WILL be people whose temporally-impressive works won’t stand up to the flames, being subsequently burned away, and leaving only the foundation.

    The foundation which Paul says is Jesus Christ.

    “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” What do YOU think Paul was talking about?

  185. May 6, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    “Any evidence for this, David? Which FV guys are you thinking of here?”

    But isn’t that what Wilson and others have been trying to tell us – that Romanists are brothers and sisters in Christ (since they’re supposedly in the visible church) and therefore not apostates. Indeed, not so long ago Wilson said that he would not excommunicate someone in his church who swam the Tiber, but rather release him/her with a stern admonishment.

    Aren’t you smelling anything funny about this whole FV program yet, Todd?

  186. jared said,

    May 6, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Anne,

    There are no “works-less” people in heaven; they all have/will have the imputed righteousness of Christ. I think FV would affirm that there are those who seem to be doing kingdom work but are self-serving in their service. Yet they could be genuinely saved (members of the invisible church) and it may well be these types that Paul is refering to. They truly find their identity in Christ but they don’t serve with meekness or humility. They will be refined as with fire and shall enter the gates of heaven. I do not doubt that this or similar scenarios happen quite frequently.

  187. Anne Ivy said,

    May 6, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    To be fair, it has crossed my mind that Paul’s illustration in 1 Corinthians 3 would certainly seem to take as a given that there’s going to be something built on that foundation.

    The “good” works mayn’t survive the flames (my church agrees with you, BTW, that the works that do not survive the fire are those done for our own glorification rather than for the LORD, though we ourselves mayn’t be aware of it), but at least there was something TO be burnt, if you see what I mean.

  188. jared said,

    May 6, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    G.L.W. Johnson,

    Nowhere did I state that I didn’t like the PCA study report, in fact, I expressed my appreciation for the efforts put forth by the men on the committee. The report was much more fair in its assessment of FV than a lot of what has recently come out of P&R or other Reformed publishers. What I don’t understand is why the PCA did not appoint FV advocates (some of which are PCA ministers and elders, like Wilkins) to the committee before going to work. It has been my experience that when constructing a critque of something it is often beneficial to dialogue with proponents of whatever you happen to be criticising. When you study Catholicism you don’t reach for your copy of James White’s “The Roman Catholic Controversy”, rather you reach for your copy of the CCC. From reading the report it was clear that a much better effort could (and should) have been made but the individuals invovled were a limiting factor. People who are considered brothers in Christ deserve a better hearing and I am disappointed that they were not given due respect. The committee was facing the right direction, but you don’t make progress by walking backwards or stepping side to side.

  189. thomasgoodwin said,

    May 7, 2007 at 8:34 am

    jared,

    you wrote,

    “When you study Catholicism you don’t reach for your copy of James White’s “The Roman Catholic Controversy”, rather you reach for your copy of the CCC.”

    The men did reach for their copies of works by FV. Your argument here makes no sense. You wonder why “the PCA did not appoint FV advocates (some of which are PCA ministers and elders, like Wilkins) to the committee before going to work.” And then you argue that to study Roman Catholicism, you can use their book instead of having face-to-face dealings.

    The Synod of Dordt didn’t invite Arminius to help them out! Historically, when heresy and error have been dealt with, you don’t invite, for example, the Socinians to your committee.

    And is it not possible to write against something without “dialogue”? Owen didn’t invite the Socinians over for tea. He read their writings, all that’s necessary IMO. It’s not as if the FV have not had a chance to make themselves clear in their writings. You may not like it done that way, but imagine if Pelagius’ followers were invited to the Council of Orange to help out!

    Sincerely,
    Mark Jones

  190. pduggan said,

    May 7, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Had the socinians already signed onto the WCF and said they completely agree with it before Owen wrote against them?

  191. thomasgoodwin said,

    May 7, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Paul,

    No, but if the FV proponents completely agreed with the WCF there wouldn’t be this controversy. Isn’t it because their writings represent a departure from the WCF that there is a problem? And, for the record, I, unlike many critics, don’t think they are heretical. I just think the PCA is the wrong place for many of them given the subordinate standards …. but, of course, it is the FV theologians “who have truly understood the Westminster divines”. It’s sort of like when PCA ministers say they take no exception to the WCF, but their Sabbath keeping is closer to mainstream Evangelicals than the Westminster divines. What makes this so serious is that, as you mention, they have signed onto the WCF, but depart from it.

    Regards,
    Mark J.

  192. John Harley said,

    May 7, 2007 at 11:42 am

    As an elder in the PCA for the past 24 years, and one who has attended many presbytery meetings and General Assemblies, I can firmly say that I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the study committee was set up with the particular membership to bring about a desired conclusion. Historically, when a study committee has been set up, both proponents and opponents formed part of the committee. See the study committees on Creation, Women in the Military, Paedocommunion, to name a few. Look at results of study committees and note that there were both majority and minority reports. What does that tell you? Not everybody was in agreement. They knew that would be the case going into their study but the desire was to see two sides work together to try and reach a consensus through honest theological interaction, not just with writings and blog shoutings but with real people who could put forth cogent answerable thoughts and questions. This was not done here. One has to ask why? When I mentioned to one of the members of the church where I serve as a ruling elder that a committee had been formed by the PCA to “study” Federal Vision and NPP etc. and that they had finished their work, his first question to me seem reasonable. He asked who made up the committee and if there were those who were “for” and “against” so as to adequately study and discuss the matters at hand. When I told him that only opponents were on the committee (and I might add some of those proponents had already made their opinions quite well known in published writings and internet dialog) his gut response was “then the study committee was a sham. How can you have divergent theological views being espoused in a denomination, set up a study committee to actually study and dialog and only have one side represented?” My question indeed. I must admit that I am a presuppositionalist, but this kind of presupposition concerning my mother church I did not want to hold. At least a little window dressing to include a “token” FV proponent might have given more credibility to the committee. Certainly this committee’s report will do nothing to dissuade FV proponents that this is more a matter of a “witchhunt” with a forgone conclusion then a serious attempt to deal with the issues. Four presbyteries have already dealt with FV proponents and while they agree that they have disagreements with some of the FV musings, all have clearly made it known that the men under question are within the bounds of orthodoxy and Westminster. In all sincerity, why not have proponents on the committee? There are certainly men who are articulate, members in good standing in their respective presbyteries who could have adequately represented the position. The notable absence of such men was a great disservice to both the committee and the assembly at large. Are we viewed as men with such a lack of ability to follow theological arguments that we must be spoon fed the “appropriate” line and no more? This type of action demonstrates a great lack of trust and confidence in the elders’ ability to actually do the work of “Bereans”. It is also a lack of faith in the Holy Spirit’s ability to rightly persuade men. We have been treated like children whose “parents” must do the thinking for them.

  193. Tim Wilder said,

    May 7, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Re: 193

    A little Goodling shows that you have been spamming the same comment on blogs all over the place. Cut and paste save a lot of typing doesn’t it?

  194. Tim Wilder said,

    May 7, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Should be “Googling”

    I notice that there is a “John B. Harley III” who is an elder at Lehigh Valley Presbyterian Church.

    The church says: “Our liturgical practice has been thoroughly studied and any questions with regard to Biblical conformity has been addressed initially with a series of evening Bible studies and more recently in an adult Sunday School series concerning Old Testament worship and the model found in the prescribed sacrifices. While we are well aware that the sacrificial system has been fulfilled in Christ, our approach to God remains the same.”

    http://www.lvpca.org/Bible/PostureInPrayer.html

    In other words, this is the Federal Vision’s Covenant Renewal worship.

  195. Tim Wilder said,

    May 7, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Here is the Absolution from the Lehigh Valley liturgy:

    “Declaration of Pardon
    The declaration may be altered with an appropriate substitute
    OFFICIANT: The Almighty God will have mercy upon us. As an
    undoubted pledge to us, He has sent His son into the world,
    who was sacrificed as the innocent lamb, to bear our sin
    and to make satisfaction for it, that whosoever believes in
    Him will have the forgiveness of sin and life everlasting.
    As you hold this faith, I declare the absolution of all your
    sins through the power of such faith: in the name of the
    Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

    http://www.lvpca.org/Liturgy/Advent.htm

  196. jared said,

    May 7, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Mark Jones,

    Normally I would agree with you, but there is a significant difference between systematic theology according to the PCA and systematic theology according to Catholicism. This is not the case with FV where those advocates espouse a systematic theology that is virtually identical. It is understandable that the Presbyterians would not have had Arminians attending the synod that produced the canons of Dordt. However, it is not understandable when there are pastors and elders who have attended General Assembly for “x” number of years who also are advocates of FV (and have been for years now). The PCA has jumped on the RPCUS bandwagon, albeit in a much more mild way, and in doing so it is following a bad example of how to go about these things. When there are teaching elders and ruling elders within your denomination that hold to FV and you’re putting together a study committee to exam the soundness of FV in comparison with the WS, you don’t leave out those TE’s and RE’s who are advocates. These individuals are brothers and ministers within the denomination; it would have been right and fitting to include at least one or two of them on the study committee.

  197. May 7, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Re: 193

    Please see Synod of Dort for similar occurrences. Yet, I think you might agree with their outcome.

  198. N Harper said,

    May 7, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    #193
    I would not worry about any ramifications coming from the study report. All of the other study reports amounted to pretty much nothing. Paedocommunion is still practiced, and everyone still holds to their own views on the others.

  199. Xon said,

    May 7, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Anne, in all honesty, I think no pro-FV people have answered your question because it is too complex/imprecise. It’s like when a high school teacher desperate to generate discussion asks “Who here can tell me what the third paragraph says about the Revolutionary War and why it was important and if you think that’s right?” Woah, slow down. One thing at a time.

    So the FV acknowledges that what might look like dandy covenantal obedience from our vantage point sometimes winds up with every single one of those “good works” burnt up and blown away at final justification so that all that’s left is the foundation, i.e. faith in Christ, and the now works-less person still enters glory?

    “Covenantal obedience,” as used by FV proponents, refers to a life lived by faith in Christ alone. When you cling to Christ, trusting Him to do for you what you cannot do for yourself, and “working through love” (as Paul says faith does) as a result of your clinging to Christ, then you are “obeying the covenant.” The covenant is not “Be a good little worker bee and you will get to go to Heaven.” Rather, it is “Believe in me and keep believing in me, and you will be saved to the uttermost.”

    So, if a person looks like they are living in obedience to the covenant, what that means is that they look like they live their lives believing in Christ alone. This is the “good work” we are talking about, trust (faith) in Christ (and, of course, the acts of obedience to God’s law which necessarily follow from all saving faith, as every Reformed theologian has always taught). So, if this person then stands before God in judgment, and has all of their works “burned up”, what are we saying about that person? Are we saying that they did not, in fact, have faith in Christ? This is what an FV thinker would mean if they talked about the “covenant obedience” of a person being found wanting; it would mean that the person did not trust in Christ. Such a person goes to Hell; no two ways about it.

  200. Anne Ivy said,

    May 7, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Except that’s not what PAUL said about someone who has all their works burnt up, with only Christ remaining as their foundation. Paul clearly said they will still be saved, though apparently they’ll have a smoky stench about them (my paraphrase, obviously).

  201. Anne Ivy said,

    May 7, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    BTW, it does seem as if that’s a reasonable protest, i.e. the absence of any pro-FV/NPP people on the committee, since it’s apparently been the norm in the past for the PCA to appoint to an investigatory committee representatives from both sides.

    Not the most prudent time to change standard operating procedure, y’know?

  202. pduggan said,

    May 7, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Anne:

    It would seem to me that we’re only applying Paul on burned up works by analogy (the analogy of faith?) since Paul is addressing ministers, and seems to be describing the building materials as the kind of christians the minister is generating by the tenor of his work in the church. The corinthian pastors are letting alot of hayish and stubbly behavior go on in the membership of lording it over others and factionalism. So since the reasoning is analogical, there probably won’t be a 1-1 match.

    Oh, and on covenantal obedience, see Jonathan Edwards on “evangelical obedience” and Owen too.

    “The obedience of a Christian, so far as it is truly evangelical, and performed with the Spirit of the Son sent forth into the heart, has all relation to Christ the Mediator, and is but an expression of the soul’s believing unition to Christ. All evangelical works are works of that faith that worketh by love, and every such act of obedience, wherein it is inward, and the act of the soul, is only a new effective act of reception of Christ, and adherence to the glorious Savior.”

    “And that God in justification has respect, not only to the first act of faith, but also to future persevering acts, as expressed in life, seems manifest by Rom. 1:17, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

    “So that, as was before said of faith, so may it be said of a child-like believing obedience: it has no concern in justification by any virtue or excellency in it, but only as there is a reception of Christ in it. And this is no more contrary to the apostle’s frequent assertion of our being justified without the works of the law, than to say that we are justified by faith. For faith is as much a work, or act of Christian obedience, as the expressions of faith, in spiritual life and walk. And therefore, as we say that faith does not justify as a work, so we say of all these effective expressions of faith.”

  203. Anne Ivy said,

    May 7, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Whoa, back up there. Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth was addressed to pastors? How do you figure that, considering the opening salutation:

    “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

    “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    I’ve read through to the disputed passage in the third chapter and cannot locate a place where Paul ceased addressing “the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” and instead began writing specifically to pastors.

    Where do you see the switch taking place?

  204. R. F. White said,

    May 7, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    John Harley or anyone else on this string,

    Other than Ligon Duncan, whose position on this topic was well known because he served on the MVP study committee on a similar set of questions, can you tell us what the position of each member on this GA study committee was before they appointed? Personally, I do not know. You, however, seem to know. If you do know, can you tell us how you know what you know? Thanks much.

  205. Todd said,

    May 7, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Anne, isn’t it a matter of immediate context? Paul’s talking about church-planting and ministry in verses 10-15, but your view makes 12-15 unrelated to 10-11.

    10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

  206. Anne Ivy said,

    May 7, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I dunno, Todd. In 3:1 he’s clearly addressing and scolding the assembly (“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.”). In his letter to the Ephesians he specified to whom he was speaking when the message became targeted (wives, husbands, bondservants, etc.), but he neglected to do this here? He switches from addressing the assembly as a whole to just the pastors without actually saying so? They’re supposed to sit and listen and somehow just know that, oh, he’s not talking to me now?

    Reading it through the lens you’ve suggested I can see where that bit could be taken as if it’s directed strictly toward pastors, but reading the book as a whole, I’m not persuaded.

    However, to be fair, Matthew Henry’s commentary tends to agree with you.

    OTOH, he also says the bit about works being burnt up is applicable to all Christians, not just pastors. ;^) (“This is plainly meant of a figurative fire, not of a real one; for what real fire can consume religious rites or doctrines? And it is to try every man’s works, those of Paul and Apollos, as well as others.”)

  207. thomasgoodwin said,

    May 7, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    R.F. White,

    I actually spoke personally with two of the members of the committee about the FV long before they were appointed. Of course, I am happy with the report, so this is a question for Todd, et al. But, I will say that they were certainly alarmed at some of the FV teachings, esp. James Jordan’s denial of individual regeneration. Does that mean they didn’t give the FV a fair hearing? You’ll have to decide that. As I said, I am happy with the report, as I suspect you are. In fact, I had a brief debate with one of the committee members on what I perceived to be a unnecessary concession to the FV crowd.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Jones

  208. Todd said,

    May 7, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    “so this is a question for Todd, et al.”

    No, I don’t think so. I haven’t said anything about the report here. Or anywhere, almost.

  209. Todd said,

    May 7, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Anne, I wouldn’t say that Paul is talking *to* church-planters and ministers as much as he is talking *about* them.

  210. R. F. White said,

    May 7, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Mark Jones,

    Thanks. What you describe about the two members you encountered is similar to the way I would describe my own response before taking part in the 2003 Knox colloquium. I can say that I had questions and unease but no conclusions. I knew that I personally had not, at that point, given a full and fair hearing to the FV men’s answers to my questions (and those of others). After I read more, listened to, and otherwise interacted with the FV men, I did reach the conclusion, however, that they were at odds with the WS.

    If folks other than Mark can speak to their knowledge of the GA committee members’ views before they did their work, I’d welcome it.

  211. jared said,

    May 7, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    R.F. White,

    It seems a fair assessment when Wilson has taken a bit of time out to address some of the continued “misunderstandings” published in the PCA study report. I do, indeed, find it fascinating that a committee of such talent and intellect is still prone to misrepresentation even though they have (1) FV books as reference and (2) FV blogs to parouse in order to clear up what might not have been clear on the pages of the books. What greenbaggins is doing here by going through RINE is a perfect example of what, I think, the committee should have done. Given Wilson’s intial response, it seems fair to me to say that the committee wasn’t quite fulfilling its responsibilities to the best of its abilities.

  212. thomasgoodwin said,

    May 7, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Todd, I don’t know why I wrote your name. My mistake. I meant John Harley, the cut and paste man. Sorry. Mark

  213. don jones said,

    May 7, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    The one thing I found ironic in the report is that in large measure it rejects the biblical arguments the FV folk are putting forth by appealing to the Westminster standards. I would have been much happier with the report if it had more shown — from scriptural arguments alone — why they think the FV position is incorrect. To my reading they appear to have elevated the standards to be on a par with scripture, ie, they reject a biblical argument if it reaches conclusions at variance with the standards. Even if the standards accurately reflect biblical teaching (which even the authors ask for confirmation of), we should not reject a biblical argument by pointing out that it reaches different conclusions than contained in our man made standards. That begins to sound uncomfortably like the Roman Catholic Church’s response to the reformers.

    Are we now down to 5 solas?

  214. Anne Ivy said,

    May 7, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Isn’t that what makes the PCA the PCA, though? And not Methodist? Or Episcopalian? Agreeing that the Westminster Standards are a distillation of Scripture, and the best summary of doctrine?

    Sort of a theological Cliff Notes, as it were. ;^)

    Without a common standard, seems like Presbyterian denominations would be similar to the SBC, which refuses to recognize any standard except the Bible.

    And we can all see how well that’s worked.

  215. R. F. White said,

    May 7, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    Jared,

    Certainly, we’re all free to agree or disagree with the GA report’s conclusions and with the basis for their conclusions. Where the committee is wrong, they should be called on it. But consider reframing your concern about the committee’s misrepresentation this way: why is it that the FV fellows, as capable as they are, are still, after over 5 years of debate, unable to make their position consistently understood by others? Lest I be misunderstood, let me broaden the question: why are both sides so incapable of communicating and reaching agreement? Whatever the reason, such strife makes us look like mere men of the flesh, not men of the Spirit. To one extent or other, it seems to me that it’s evidence of our abiding carnality from which the Spirit has yet to deliver us.

  216. Andy Gilman said,

    May 7, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    Re: 214

    The General Assembly had asked the interim committee to:

    “…determine whether these viewpoints and formulations are in conformity with the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards, whether they are hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion, and to present a declaration or statement regarding the issues raised by these viewpoints in light of our Confessional Standards.”

    Seems to me the committee did what they were asked to do.

    Also, why should an ecclesiastical body revisit the biblical exegesis which undergirds the secondary standard, every time heresy arises? What is the purpose of having a secondary standard if men can’t be held to it? If someone comes up with a sophisticated and seemingly biblical denial of Trinity (or, for that matter, if they resurrect some old denial), do we need to convene another Council of Nicea to rehash the biblical data before passing judgment?

  217. May 7, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Yup. Preach it, Andy.

  218. jared said,

    May 7, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    R.F. White,

    Point taken, and to answer your question: I have no idea. With all that I’ve read (mainly blog discussion) I don’t feel like I’ve had a difficult time understanding (and, thus, sympathizing) FV on a number of issues, so I’ve no speculations as to what makes it so difficult for others. I do not believe that the PCA places the Westminster Standards on the same level of Scripture even if some of her individual members do, so I don’t think that’s the problem. But when the report says that the WS define, say, election as “x” and FV defines election as “x” in addition to defining it, in another sense that does not deny or alter “x” in any way whatsoever, as “y”, I don’t know where the confusion comes in; especially when the definition of “y” is just as clear as “x”. Moreover, definition “y” is also Scriptural. So, in this particular case we have FV agreeing with the WS (and with the PCA’s understanding of the WS no less) while at the same time expanding upon how the term is used within the context of covenant. It is wholly irresponsible of the study committiee to not see this point, a point that FV keeps making (on this subject at least). I mean, if I can understand the distinction, then surely seminary graduates can get it, right? I haven’t even read any of the books for crying out loud! Don’t get me wrong, I truly appreciate the work done by the committee and the spirit it seems to have been done in. I just think it could’ve been much better if they had taken a bit more time with it and maybe had appointed to the committee some of those PCA ministers who are FV advocates.

    Mr. White, to be completely honest with you, I think if both sides sat down and actually talked with one another we might see some progress. Books, blogs and study committee reports can only do so much and language is a sticky thing, more so when it is written. It has been my experience that conflict is more readily resolved when actual bodies are present rather than their squiggly symbolic representatives. Perhaps I am far too naive, but I think such an event(s) would at least have the PCA a step (or two) back from officially declaring that FV teaches a different gospel.

  219. Anne Ivy said,

    May 7, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    “What is the purpose of having a secondary standard if men can’t be held to it?”

    Bingo.

  220. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Re: 219

    “Moreover, definition “y” is also Scriptural. So, in this particular case we have FV agreeing with the WS (and with the PCA’s understanding of the WS no less) while at the same time expanding upon how the term is used within the context of covenant. It is wholly irresponsible of the study committiee to not see this point, a point that FV keeps making (on this subject at least). I mean, if I can understand the distinction, then surely seminary graduates can get it, right?”

    No you don’t get it.

    The Reformers claimed to be recovering the Biblical view. The Westminster confession claims to be the Biblical view. So when the FV comes along with their double-truth theory that the Confession is “systematic theology” true, but that really the Bible means something else, which is “biblical theology” true, what they are actually doing is rejecting the Reformed and Confessional claim to be true according systematics AND Bible.

    All the FV would have to do to end the problem is to admit that they are not Confessional, as Norman Shepherd finally did, and leave the Confessional churches. A little honesty is all that we ask. They could then start their own Church of the Mountaineering Ritual, or whatever they want to call it, and invent whatever theology they like.

  221. R. F. White said,

    May 8, 2007 at 8:11 am

    Jared, thanks for the interaction. Don’t forget that in 2003 seven representatives from both sides did just as you say: we sat down together for 3 days to listen and learn (and the FV men told the critics that they believed they were heard) and subsequently over several months we exchanged very extensive e-mail correspondence about the issues. As a participant in those discussions, I can tell you that, four years later, I’m hearing nothing substantially new in what any rep of either party is saying. In short, there is really no progress to report. The scoop here, then, I think, is simple and sad but true: we simply disagree and cannot find a way to agreement. The questions before us reduce to this: so what? That is, does the disagreement matter? Elsewhere on this blog, I’ve given a sample of why I and others with me believe it does matter. And so it goes.

  222. jared said,

    May 8, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Tim,

    FV advocates don’t propose a “double-truth theory.” They believe that God has, according to His good pleasure, elected some individuals to receive salvation. They believe that this election is not based on anything the individual has done (i.e. we do not merit salvation) and that because of it salvation is received by faith alone, through grace alone. What about that is not according to the WS? In case there’s any doubt, they define “saving faith” as a faith that is living and obedient, like the faith James and the WCF speak about. Now, in addition to this they also understand election, on a more broad scale, as applying to everyone in the visible church (you know, that whole covenant thing). The visible church can be called “the elect” as the whole people of God because they are the body of Christ who is the Elect One. This broad definition/explaination does not conflict with the more narrow Westminster definition, nor do the WS have anything to say, for or against, this more broad defining. Moreover, this broad definition is congruent with passages of Scripture like John 15 and Hebrews 6 where we find the non-elect (in the narrow Westminster sense) within the visible church being weeded out by the Father.

    In other words, the FV isn’t coming along and saying “this is what the Bible really means” as if they are setting aside the WS or going against them or undermining them so as to make them meaningless and unimportant. The FV is saying “hey, the WS are right; but the Bible also speaks this way about those things and the Standards don’t say anything about that, maybe we should factor this into our theology.” I’m pretty sure I do get it, why can’t you? If the Bible and the WS were all that we needed, then why all the books on systematic theology, the commentaries, the dictionaries, etc? One can believe that the WS contain the correct system of doctrine while maintaining that it does not (and could not) contain a complete, exhaustive and comprehensive system. Even if this were not the case, the WS would still be subject to the Scriptures should they ever be found in error.

  223. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Re: 223

    “They believe that this election is not based on anything the individual has done (i.e. we do not merit salvation) and that because of it salvation is received by faith alone, through grace alone. What about that is not according to the WS?”

    The FV teaches that election IS based on something the individual has done, namely, join a church (by baptism).

    “In case there’s any doubt, they define “saving faith” as a faith that is living and obedient.”

    “Obedient”? Well really, in the very act of saying “works” you pretend that you are not saying “works”. How blind can you be?

    “in addition to this they also understand election” Double-truth theory.

    “This broad definition/explaination does not conflict with the more narrow Westminster definition” Which is the Biblical definition/explanation? Is Reformed theology right or wrong to think that the Westminster definition is the Biblical definition?

    “The visible church can be called “the elect” as the whole people of God because they are the body of Christ who is the Elect One.” “Moreover, this broad definition is congruent with passages of Scripture like John 15 and Hebrews 6 where we find the non-elect (in the narrow Westminster sense) within the visible church being weeded out by the Father.” So those elect in Christ are “weeded out” by the Father?

    “WS would still be subject to the Scriptures should they ever be found in error.”

    Fine, has the WS been found in error or not? If it has not been found in error, then why are the Federal Visionists, including you, making such a big stink over being judged by the WS in the report? On the other hand, if the WS has been found in error, why not be honest and say so?

  224. David McCrory said,

    May 8, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Mr. White you say,

    “The scoop here, then, I think, is simple and sad but true: we simply disagree and cannot find a way to agreement.”

    Thank you for this wise statement. Would a sound approach then not include trying to establish what if anything the two sides do agree to, and then move forward from there with any differences? Would both sides, for example, agree that this is not as clear cut an issue as originally thought? And that FVT may very well reflect a portion of Reformed tradition, maybe not the “majority report” which made it’s way into the Confession, but more like a “minority report”, whch while not formally adopted, doesn’t neccesarily reflect heretical views?

  225. May 8, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Mr. McCrory
    Both the OPC and the PCA study committees were specifically directed to determine the compatiblity of the FV with the WS. Both committees concluded that the FV is out of harmony and in conflict with the WS. Those on the FV side of this issue frowned on the reports ,so they either charge the committees with (1) bias, (2) incompetence,(3) an inability to comprehend the FV. They further argue that this could have been avoided by putting proFV men on the committees to bring not only balance, but by inference, theological competence and a enhanced capacity to understand the sublte nuances of the FV. In other words, people who disagree with the FV are ,by virtue of their disagreement, unfit to assess the FV because they are biased to begin with .Therefore the only people fit to pass judgement on the FV are people predeposed to be favorable to the FV. Thus, the flawed reasoning of the proFV crowd.

  226. David McCrory said,

    May 8, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Mr, Johnson, Thanks that does seem to summarize things well. But in all fairness, would it not have been appropriate to have some Fv men on the committees as to avoid that obvious charge of bias that was sure to come from their camp? If the committees had been evenly split between TR’s and FV’s and their conclusions were split along these lines, then at least both side could plead bias rather than just one.

  227. May 8, 2007 at 9:32 am

    David
    The reports also addressed and passed similar assessments on the NPP. Should the committees have invited pro NPP people, especially NT Wright disciples, to be part of the committees? Unlike the FV, NT Wright make no claims that his views are even remotely in line with the WS. On the contrary he specifically calls the Reformers and their heirs to have profoundly misunderstood the Apostle Paul.

  228. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Gary, why not? Maybe some some NPP-favorable PCA scholars, of whom there are several in some of our seminaries, would have been a useful addition to the committee.

    Here’s Doug Green from WTS:

    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Green_Westminster_Seminary_Perspective.pdf

    A good balance of appreciation and critique, I think.

  229. May 8, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Todd
    I read Doug Green’s paper when it first came out. It has raised red flags not only with me, but with other WTS alumni. It is very difficult – no, it is the height of naiveness to think that NT Wright’s views on justification and related doctrines like the CoW and imputation(which are at the heart of the WS) can somehow be harmonized with the Westminster divines. Actually it is more than that-it is dishonest.

  230. David McCrory said,

    May 8, 2007 at 9:58 am

    FWIW, I wouldn’t have included people who clearly profess to stand outside the WS tradtion, and don’t labor in the concerned denominations. But there are enough advocates inside to balance a committee aren’t there? So yes, we have a declarative statement about FV from antiFV men. IF the goal was drawing darker lines in the sand, it accomplished it’s goal. If it was to objectively “reason together” this issues it doesn’t. So I guess the question I’m left with is WHY no FVv men were included? There may very well be a sound reason, but I’m simply not privy as to it. It might have very well been the opportunity to gain some ground on them.

  231. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Gary has spoken! All debate must stop now!

    “it is the height of naiveness to think that NT Wright’s views on justification and related doctrines like the CoW and imputation(which are at the heart of the WS) can somehow be harmonized with the Westminster divines.”

    This doesn’t sound at all like a fair summary of what Doug actually argues.

  232. jared said,

    May 8, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Tim,

    You continue to display your ignorance and precisely why FV and anti-FV people can’t get along.

    1. Election as it relates to being a member of the visible church (that is, being a member of the Elect One’s body of people) is contingent upon baptism. The Standards say absolutely nothing about this, for or against. Well, that’s not entirely true, the Confession does say that baptism is, though not only, “for solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church” (Chapter 28, section I).

    2. Election as it relates to being a member of the invisible church (that is, being a saved member of the Elect One’s body of people) is not contingent upon baptism or anything else. This is how the Standards use the term election. FV agrees with this, accepts this, loves this, teaches this (best I can tell anyway).

    3. Show me one Reformer who has ever believed that saving faith is not a living faith, is not a faith accompanied by works and is not a faith that submits to the lordship of Christ.

    4. Where is this “double-truth theory” you keep talking about? Why don’t you spell it out for me in detail so I can see exactly what you mean by it. Because when I see “double-truth theory” I think “equivocation”, but clearly the FV is not equivocating since they are being very particular about how they are defining their terms (as per 1 and 2 above).

    5. I do not believe the WS are in error concerning election, but I do think the WS present an incomplete picture of how election should be viewed according to the Scriptures. I can honestly not take issue with the WS in this intance while at the same time agreeing with the FV’s more broad definition of election; there’s no conflict here. Why? Because the WS are right and the FV is right: as the visible church we can be called “the elect” and the invisible church is most assuredly “the elect.” FV looks at election from the perspective of the visible church while the WS looks at election from the perspective of the invisible church. If we define the “invisible church” as the total number of individuals who receive salvation (past, present and future) and narrowly define “election” and “the elect” so that they can only refer to members of the invisible church and cannot be understood to refer to anyone else (say, the visible church), then the FV is not in accord with the Standards’ usage and they need to use a different term to refer to the visible church. This doesn’t mean the FV is wrong it just means they need to use different terms.

    6. I’m not a Federal Visionist, though I do find value in the perspective(s) they bring to the table.

  233. May 8, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Todd
    If you will go back an read what I said -note: Wright cannot be harmonized with the WS- Doug did not say in his article that he was attempting that- and I said it cannot be done, there fore representatives of NT Wright would not have been welcomed on these committees given their directives. Are you suggesting that it should have been otherwise?

  234. jared said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    R.F. White,

    All I can say to that is “indeed.”

  235. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Re: 233

    “If we define the “invisible church” as the total number of individuals who receive salvation (past, present and future) and narrowly define “election” and “the elect” so that they can only refer to members of the invisible church and cannot be understood to refer to anyone else (say, the visible church), then the FV is not in accord with the Standards’ usage and they need to use a different term to refer to the visible church.”

    And why would the FV define “election” in a way different from the usage of the Standards, if the Standards represent the Biblical meaning of the term? What is the point of sneaking a new and unbiblical usage? If on the other hand, the FV believes that the Standards are not Biblical, than come out and say so!

  236. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    “And why would the FV define “election” in a way different from the usage of the Standards, if the Standards represent the Biblical meaning of the term? ”

    This is begging the question, since the FV claim is that there are biblical uses of the term/concept that are not represented in the standards.

  237. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    “This is begging the question, since the FV claim is that there are biblical uses of the term/concept that are not represented in the standards.”

    And in just that way the FV differs from the Standards.

  238. R. F. White said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    To David McCrory:

    BOQ: Would a sound approach then not include trying to establish what if anything the two sides do agree to, and then move forward from there with any differences? Would both sides, for example, agree that this is not as clear cut an issue as originally thought? And that FVT may very well reflect a portion of Reformed tradition, maybe not the “majority report” which made it’s way into the Confession, but more like a “minority report”, whch while not formally adopted, doesn’t neccesarily reflect heretical views? EOQ

    I’ll answer based on my colloquium experience. It’s an accurate statement to say that participants in the 03 colloquium had a common recognition of the linkage (even indebtedness) between the FV and a (Dutch) portion of the Reformed tradition. There was also a common recognition among FV critics (i.e., it was clear cut to the critics) that FV views were at least at odds (out of accord) with the WS. The critics were also prepared to describe certain FV views as heretical. The variation in assessment was due to variations among the FV advocates. As is commonly recognized, now as then, the FV camp is not monolithic on each issue to which they have addressed themselves.

  239. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    “And in just that way the FV differs from the Standards.”

    Where do the standards teach that there is only one biblical meaning/usage for the terms they use?

  240. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Well really! Here we have the FV that believes that the Standards miss the Biblical meaning of central theological terms in such an important way that the FV must write its theology and teach its teaching using different meanings of these terms, that the usage of the terms in the Standards is unpastoral and does not serve the needs of the church. In short, the FV shows by its practice that it believes that the Standards miss the MAIN POINT of the Biblical text. And yet it wants to pretend, for the purpose of dodging discipline, that it believes that the Standards are the correct summary of the system of Biblical teaching. Who do you think you are fooling?

  241. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Again, I ask: Where do the standards teach that there is only one biblical meaning/usage for the terms they use?

  242. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    “Again, I ask: Where do the standards teach that there is only one biblical meaning/usage for the terms they use?”

    You can’t fit the FV theological camel through the eye of that semantic needle.

  243. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    But look at what you’ve claimed in 238. You’ve claimed that the claim “that there are biblical uses of the term/concept that are not represented in the standards” is “the way” in which “the FV differs from the Standards.”

    In order for you to prove your claim, you’d have to show where, or the way in which, the Standards teach that there is only one biblical way to use/understand the term/concept “election.” Can you?

  244. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    “You’ve claimed that the claim “that there are biblical uses of the term/concept that are not represented in the standards” is “the way” in which “the FV differs from the Standards.””

    That’s what you guys claim. It is exactly that claim that was just made so show that when the FV uses these terms it is supposedly not contradicting the Standards. Then you go an to to act as the the way of usage of the Standards deserves to be ignored in practice in pastoral work and teaching, showing that the system of doctrine represented in the usage of the Standards is so far off the mark, in your view, that it should be set aside for teaching and admonition in the Church.

  245. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    You’re putting a whole lot of words in my mouth here, Tim. I don’t recognize my view of these things in your (second person!) summary at all.

    Do you believe that the standards teach that there is only one correct and biblical usage/understanding for the terms they use? If so, where? Or how?

  246. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    The PCA Book or Church order says 21-4 says that the Presbytery is to examine candidates for ministry as to whether they can in good faith sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms “as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.” It does not say “a” system of doctrine, but “the”.

    The Committee needed to determine whether the Federal Vision teaches this one system taught by both the Bible and the Standards. There is not some other system, that the Standards somehow missed, that is also acceptable. There is only the system.

  247. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    You and I are not debating anything about system, but about what the standards teach or don’t teach about the use of individual terms. Does the Bible sometimes use the term election in a “corporate” sense? Do the standards teach that it doesn’t?

  248. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    “You and I are not debating anything about system, but about what the standards teach or don’t teach about the use of individual terms.”

    And the definition of the terms used in the system is not part of the system? Pull the other one!

  249. markhorne said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    http://www.peacemakers.net/unity/lbsocd.htm#8

    Berkhof from his summary of Christian Doctrine. I’m pretty sure this is also in his systematic Theology:

    a. Election. The Bible speaks of election in more than one sense, as

    (1) the election of Israel as the Old Testament people of God, Deut. 4:37; 7:6-8; 10:15; Hos. 13:5;

    (2) the election of persons to some special once or service, Deut. 18:5; I Sam. 10:24; Ps. 78:70; and

    (3) the election of individuals unto salvation, Matt. 22:14; Rom. 11:6; Eph. 1:4. The last is the election to which we refer in this connection. It may be defined as God’s eternal purpose to save some of the human race in and by Jesus Czarist.

    =============

    John Calvin from his commentary on Acts 3.17-26:

    It is you who are the sons [v. 25]. He signifies that the grace of the covenant was appointed principally for them, which covenant God made with their fathers. And so as he goaded them forward to obey the gospel, by terrifying them with the terror of punishment, so he allures them now again to receive the grace which is offered them in Christ; so that we see how that God omits nothing by which he may bring us to himself. And it is the duty of a wise minister so to goad forward the sluggish and slow bellies, that he lead those gently who are apt to be taught; we must also note diligently this course of teaching, where Peter shows that the gospel is assigned and appointed to the Jews. For it is not sufficient to have the mercy of God preached to us generally, unless we also know that the same is offered to us by the certain ordinance of God. For this cause is it that Paul stand so much upon the avowing of the calling of the Gentiles (Romans 15.18; Ephesians 3.3-4) because, if any man should think that the gospel came to him by chance, when as it was scattered here and there, faith should quail ["quaver," "vacillate"]; yea, there should be a doubtful opinion instead of faith. Therefore, to the end we may steadfastly believe the promise of salvation, this application (that I may so term it) is necessary, that God does not cast forth uncertain voices, that they may hang in the air, but that he directs the same to us by his certain and determinate counsel. Peter tells the Jews, that Christ is promised to them after this sort, to the end they may more willingly embrace him. And how does he prove this? Because they are the children of the prophets and of the covenant. He calls them the children of the prophets, which were of the same nation, and therefore were heirs of the covenant, which belonged to the whole body of the people. For he argues thus: God made his covenant with our fathers; therefore we, who are their posterity, are comprehended in the covenant.

    By this the doubting subtlety of the Anabaptists ["rebaptizers"] is refuted, who expound the children of Abraham only allegorically; as if God had had no respect to his stock, when he said, “I will be the God of your seed,” (Genesis 17.7). Certainly Peter does not speak in this place of the shadows of the law; but he affirms that this is of force under the kingdom of Christ: that God adopts the children together with the fathers; and so, consequently, the grace of salvation may be extended to those who are as yet unborn (Romans 9.7). I grant, indeed, that many who are the children of the faithful, according to the flesh, are counted bastards, and not legitimate, because they thrust themselves out of the holy progeny through their unbelief. But this in no way hinders the Lord from calling and admitting the seed of the godly into fellowship of grace. And so, although the common election is not effectual in all, yet may it set open a gate for the special elect.

  250. markhorne said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    I assume “Czarist” is a bad scan, though it wouldn’t be a bad translation into Russian culture…

  251. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Re: 250

    “Berkhof from his summary of Christian Doctrine”

    Is that what you subscribe to in Missiouri Presbytery?

  252. David McCrory said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    I don’t believe TR’s deny a more extensive use of biblical terms as compared to the WS. They seem far more concerned with contrary usages, rather than additional ones. Much of the language in the Confession is intensive in nature (looking to get to the dogma of the doctrine) But just as the term “salvation” can be used in a (intensive) decretal/elect sense, it is also used in Scripture, in a more general (extensive) sense to describe covenant Israel’s departure from Eygpt w/o the connotation that every Hebrew is or was decretally elect.

  253. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    “And the definition of the terms used in the system is not part of the system? Pull the other one!”

    I’m sorry that you’re having such a hard time with this one, Tim. The definition of key terms is certainly an important part of the system. But the possibility that some terms are used in the Bible in ways additional to the way those terms are used in the standards does not necessarily contradict the system.

  254. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Tim, do you disagree with Berkhof in the quotation above?

  255. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Which is beside the point, because as I said you FV people go on to act as though the manner of usage of these terms in the Standards deserves to be ignored in practice in pastoral work and teaching, showing that the system of doctrine represented in the usage of the Standards is so far off the mark, in your view, that it should be set aside for teaching and admonition in the Church. So trying to argue some further secondary meaning to the terms does not meet the case of excusing your substitution a different usage in your teaching at the expense of the Confessional one. What do you think Confessions and Catechisms are for? The point of them is that this is what needs to be taught to the people.

  256. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    “Tim, do you disagree with Berkhof in the quotation above?”

    I certainly agree that there are OT types and shadows that have now passed away. So I don’t deny typological usages.

  257. David McCrory said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Berkhof and in your quote above Todd from Gunn, both convey the idea of legitimate, multiple usages for biblical terminology. Do TR folks really have a qualm here?

  258. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    “What do you think Confessions and Catechisms are for? The point of them is that this is what needs to be taught to the people.”

    Silly me! I would have said the Bible! The Bible contains a lot that isn’t in the standards. I’m eager to teach all of it.

    “in your view, that it should be set aside for teaching and admonition in the Church.”

    Not my view. I’m not sure whose view this does represent. Maybe no one’s.

  259. David McCrory said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Tim (and other TR’s), do you believe there is an intentional duplicitious purpose in FV men attempting to subvert the language of the WS in order to compromise the system of doctrine taught by the Standards, rather than a honest attempt by FV men to grant intergity and to do justice to both the language of Scripture as it us used in Scripture as well as in the Confession?

  260. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    “Not my view. I’m not sure whose view this does represent. Maybe no one’s.”

    Then why do you do it? Nobody is standing over you FV people with a whip forcing you to write and teaching your stuff with FV definitions to the words, rather than those that are the system of doctrine taught in Scripture.

  261. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    “Tim (and other TR’s), do you believe there is an intentional duplicitious purpose in FV men attempting to subvert the language of the WS”?

    That is exactly what I believe.

  262. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    “Then why do you do it?”

    I don’t. I don’t set aside the standards in my teaching and admonition in the church. Or do you know something about my ministry that I’m not thinking of?

  263. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    As to you personally, in distinction to the Federal Vision in general, all I know is that you are anonymous Todd, who won’t identify himself.

  264. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Why pretend you know about what I do with the standards in my ministry then?

  265. David McCrory said,

    May 8, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks Tim. At least for me, your answer is helpful. More generally then, if the intergrity of the person is in question, no real dialouge can take place. In other words, if the motives are suspect, then fruitful discussion is always undermined by the idea that “they simple aren’t being honest”. Until integrity is established in the debate, that both sides are trying to remain faithful to what they claim, then to me at least, not much else is going to get accomplished.

    This comment, of course, goes for both sides.

  266. Tim Wilder said,

    May 8, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Re: 266

    And what do you think? Do you believe that those who sneer at the people who “worship at the idol of the Westminster Confession” as the FV people refer to subscription, are themselves good faith subscribers?

  267. Don Jones said,

    May 8, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    My fear is that, just like the Roman Catholic Church, we are treating our secondary standard as equivalent to scripture and not as a secondary standard. I should make clear that I agree with the standards; the only objections I took were so trivial that my Session laughed at them and did not consider them to be exceptions.

    My concern is that our underlying assumption appears to be that our man made standard is absolute truth, on the same level as scripture. While I accept the standards, I am also willing to concede they may be in error — because they are man made. If the FV folk are putting forth a biblical argument and their argument is sound (does not contain fallicies, is not taking scripture out of context, etc), then we should evaluate their argument in light of both scripture and our standards to determine whether their conclusions are valid. They may have hit upon an aspect of the truth that the authors of the standards missed. Or are we really of the mind that the standards are the pinnacle of what the bible teaches and we will never know more?

  268. David McCrory said,

    May 8, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Tim, I tend to give every man the benefit of the doubt. If a man says he believes something, I take him at his word, unless or until he demonstrates he’s otherwise. Do I believe there are some TR’s who have “cannonized” the Confession? Maybe. Do I believe there are some FV’s who think it belongs on a roll in the bathroom? Probably. But unless we are willing to take someone at their word, for we cannot know their heart, we are left at an impass, like I said before, to any meaningful discussion.

    In short, our errors are not always malicious intents of destoying something. Sometimes, in an over zealous attempt to preserve and or honor it (from either side), we end up doing exactly the opposite.

  269. Andy Gilman said,

    May 8, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    In #268 Don said:

    [BOQ]
    My concern is that our underlying assumption appears to be that our man made standard is absolute truth, on the same level as scripture. While I accept the standards, I am also willing to concede they may be in error — because they are man made. If the FV folk are putting forth a biblical argument and their argument is sound (does not contain fallicies, is not taking scripture out of context, etc), then we should evaluate their argument in light of both scripture and our standards to determine whether their conclusions are valid. They may have hit upon an aspect of the truth that the authors of the standards missed. Or are we really of the mind that the standards are the pinnacle of what the bible teaches and we will never know more?
    [EOQ]

    In this thread we have the FV advocates arguing that their views are in perfect harmony with the Westminster Standards, and then we have Don providing an argument (which is often advanced by the FV advocates when their first argument is found to be unpersuasive), which is that secondary standards are not infallible. The second argument would be unnecessary were it not for the fact that the FV advocates know that their views are not in keeping with the secondary standards.

    No one is arguing for the infallibility of the secondary standards. If the FV advocates think the WCF and Catechisms are in error, then they should humbly petition their Presbyteries, and privately correspond with the respected leaders within their denominations, making their case for a revised standard. But they shouldn’t start widely publishing and distributing their conclusions, via books, the internet and pastor’s conferences, while at the same time foisting their newfound “discoveries” upon unsuspecting congregations. FV arrogance is freshly demonstrated everytime another reformed denomination comes out with a statement against them.

  270. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    “Do you believe that those who sneer at the people who “worship at the idol of the Westminster Confession” as the FV people refer to subscription, are themselves good faith subscribers?”

    When one sneering man complains about another sneering man, it’s hard to know whom to take seriously.

  271. Todd said,

    May 8, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    “But they shouldn’t start widely publishing and distributing their conclusions, via books, the internet and pastor’s conferences, while at the same time foisting their newfound “discoveries” upon unsuspecting congregations. FV arrogance is freshly demonstrated everytime another reformed denomination comes out with a statement against them.”

    But what if their own presbyteries have given them thumbs up?

  272. Andy Gilman said,

    May 8, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    In #269 David said:

    [BOQ]
    In short, our errors are not always malicious intents of destoying something. Sometimes, in an over zealous attempt to preserve and or honor it (from either side), we end up doing exactly the opposite.
    [EOQ]

    I suspect that heresy is seldom introduced into the church with malicious intent on the part of the men introducing it. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t driven by sinful pride and arrogance, and that it doesn’t have malicious effects. The FV approached the reformed world with a “new way of seeing.” Instead of taking a hard look at themselves when they met with vigorous opposition, they quickly concluded that their opponents were too ignorant to understand them or too ill-disposed to treat them fairly. It’s highly unlikely that anyone is going to shine a big spotlight on the problem from some yet undiscovered angle, which will leave the parties mutually enlightened. The old arguments will continue to get repeated, and the church will be increasingly divided and troubled by them until the FV advocates load up their wagons and head for Utah.

  273. Andy Gilman said,

    May 8, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Todd said: “But what if their own presbyteries have given them thumbs up?”

    Presbyteries do not have the authority to revise the denominational standard. Your statement would carry more weight if these men had actually sought Presbytery approval *before* advancing their agenda. If a Presbytery had signed off on the FV agenda, and granted these men permission to propagate their revisions, then my argument would be with the Presbytery. As it is, it appears that certain presbyteries are putting too high a premium on friendship, and coming to the aid of friends under fire.

  274. Don Jones said,

    May 8, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Re Andy #270: But what if the FV arguments have found an error in our standards? To reject their biblical arguments because they reach conclusions at variance with our standards is to put more weight on the standards than scripture, is it not?

    Let’s look at if from a different perspective, which might help clarify the point I am trying to make. Do we disagree with Lutherans because their standards vary from ours, or do we disagree with the biblical exegesis they use to arrive at their standards? It is a subtle, but critical distinction.

    To my mind, we need to evaluate the arguments advanced by the FV folk and determine whether they have merit or not. If we cannot show that their arguments are based on invalid assumptions, are logically wrong, misconstrues scripture, or what have you — in other words, if their arguments are sound logically and biblically — then we must consider the conclusions they reach and understand why their conclusions vary from our standards. If their arguments are valid and we refuse to listen, are we not putting ourselves at risk of denying part of the truth God is attempting to communicate to us?

    I am reminded of Gamaliel’s advice in Acts 5.

  275. markhorne said,

    May 8, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    “What do you think Confessions and Catechisms are for? The point of them is that this is what needs to be taught to the people.”

    Catechisms, I can see. But in the chapter on the decree the final paragraph indicates that, while the writers want all men to agree with the chapter, they want them to find better ways to teach it.

    But, whatever, all PCA ministers are as free as Berkhof to acknowledge and teach the Bible’s own material on election. Just as my seminary prof was free to teach and recommend Berkhof. Nothing he says on election is contrary to the Westminster Confession or Catechisms.

  276. David McCrory said,

    May 8, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    “…the church will be increasingly divided and troubled by them until the FV advocates load up their wagons and head for Utah.”

    …or Idaho.

    The point of my comment was to stress the issue of establishing integrity between those of differing opinions. If, like Tim admitted, the FV men are all suspect of intentionally twisting Scripture to their own arrogant ends, not much constructive dialog is going to take place under these circumstances.

  277. Andy Gilman said,

    May 8, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    In #275 Don said:

    [BOQ]
    But what if the FV arguments have found an error in our standards? To reject their biblical arguments because they reach conclusions at variance with our standards is to put more weight on the standards than scripture, is it not?
    [EOQ]

    When an FV advocate, who is under the authority of a secondary standard, finds himself out of accord with that standard because he has discovered compelling biblical data which has been overlooked for the past 400 to 500 years, it is his duty to make that change known to his Presbytery. To my knowledge none of these men has admitted that their conclusions are at variance with the standards they have “sincerely received and adopted.” So your question is purely theoretical.

    If a man believes he has discovered an error in the standards, he should show some humility and “subjection to the brethren in the Lord,” and appeal to his Presbytery and the leading men in his denomination to evaluate his “finding.” He shouldn’t pick up the nearest bullhorn and start blasting everyone within earshot with claims of having made a breakthrough in biblical understanding. Why should such a man’s peers give him the time of day? But the fact is that these FV arguments have been evaluated from both a biblical and a confessional perspective, and have been found wanting. They have been found wanting not by men who are, for some inexplicable reason naturally hostile to the FV advocates, but by men who, in many if not most cases, were previously friends with the FV advocates and who respected them. Read Cal Beisner’s account of events leading up to the Knox Colloquium. This was no “witchhunt” as some FV advocates like to tell us. It was an honest attempt to restore unity and to bridge a gap which was separating respected friends.

  278. markhorne said,

    May 9, 2007 at 12:22 am

    “To my knowledge none of these men has admitted that their conclusions are at variance with the standards they have “sincerely received and adopted.” So your question is purely theoretical.”

    No it is not. In addition to generally been received in Presbyteries, Wilkins, Leithart, and myself have specifically been examined by committees and found well within the bounds of Westminster orthodoxy. So far, every condemning court has done so from a distance, without face to face interaction.

    And, in presbyterianism, the accused is supposed to be permitted to defend himself before he can be convicted by a valid trial. The judicial record in the PCA is 100% in favor of the innocence of FV.

  279. May 9, 2007 at 6:41 am

    Mark
    What I find so stunning in all of this is that even Doug Wilson, as one of the leading lights for the FV, has candidly admitted that the FV is something like Jacob’s coat of many colors on a variety of issues ,i.e. some hold to the CoW in a round about way, others ,following Norman Shepherd , have no use for the CoW at all. The same can be say in regards to imputation(and not just the AOoC). NT Wright’s take on justification is welcomed with open arms by some in the FV and not by other who are a bit squimish about Wright’s newly minted views.But no problem- all of these various and sundry veiws are well within the boundaries of the WS! This won’t wash and further more, given the kind of things that I keep seeing pop-up from time to time in these discussions-things like we on this side of the debate are giving to the WS too prominent a place in determining orthodoxy etc. etc. I tell you what I see come around the bend and going down hill like a run away semi with no brakes- the call for Confessisonal revision. When the various ‘insights’ (or innovations as some of us would prefer to call them) of NT Wright, Norman Shepherd & co. cannot be shoehorned into the standards then the standards must given way.

  280. Todd said,

    May 9, 2007 at 6:55 am

    “NT Wright’s take on justification is welcomed with open arms by some in the FV and not by other who are a bit squimish about Wright’s newly minted views.”

    Gary, which of the FV guys have *not* stated serious differences with Wright on the matter of justification and imputation?

    “we on this side of the debate are giving to the WS too prominent a place in determining orthodoxy etc. etc.”

    The confession’s view of itself is that it must not be seen as the rule of faith: “All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.”

  281. May 9, 2007 at 7:11 am

    Todd
    Rich Lusk has , with very few reservations, embaced Wrights views. More importantly, even when he has expressed reservations, it is not in the various areas where he agreement with Wright puts him at odds with the WS. Lusk likes to say that Wright’s views , when viewed from the ‘proper’ perspective enrich and enhance the traditional Reformational understanding of justification. I disagree. And without attemping to pick a fight with Mark Horne, his assessment of Wright is equally problematic in terms of it compatablity with the WS.

  282. Tim Wilder said,

    May 9, 2007 at 7:18 am

    Re: 276

    “But, whatever, all PCA ministers are as free as Berkhof to acknowledge and teach the Bible’s own material on election. Just as my seminary prof was free to teach and recommend Berkhof. Nothing he says on election is contrary to the Westminster Confession or Catechisms.”

    If you had been in the CRC in Berkhof’s day, is there any doubt that the would have had you up on heresy charges?

  283. markhorne said,

    May 9, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Every doubt. I am an orthodox Calvinist.

  284. May 9, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Mark
    I am very glad to hear it- but NT Wright , protest not with standing,is not.

  285. Todd said,

    May 9, 2007 at 9:48 am

    But Lusk has also specifically criticized the way Wright talks about imputation and justification, and this makes your earlier statement — “NT Wright’s take on justification is welcomed with open arms by some in the FV” — not fully accurate or truthful in regard to Lusk.

  286. greenbaggins said,

    May 9, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Sources, Todd, sources.

  287. Todd said,

    May 9, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Lusk admitting that the critics are sometimes right about Wright:

    My relatively unqualified support and endorsement of N. T. Wright throughout these “miscellanies” should not be misunderstood. I do not think Wright is above critique. He is wrong at many points, and often his Reformed critics have a legitimate beef with his writing. I disagree with Wright on the issue on women’s ordination to the priesthood; I wish he would more forthrightly affirm God’s sovereignty and the inspiration and inerrancy of the canonical autographa; and so on. In particular, here I want to offer criticisms of some of his more unguarded statements about justification.

  288. Todd said,

    May 9, 2007 at 9:55 am

    http://www.trinity-pres.net/essays/Pauline-Miscellanies.pdf

    Section 24. It won’t satisfy everyone, of course. But I’m eager for Gary to be more careful in this ninth commandment area.

  289. greenbaggins said,

    May 9, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Thanks for the link, Todd. As you say, it won’t satisfy everyone. It certainly does not satisfy me. For one thing, Lusk denies categorically that the WS teach the IAO. This is not true. FV advocates love to quote Chad Van Dixhorn’s work on this. But Dixhorn’s work proves that what the majority of the delegates believed *was* the IAO, and that their view was specifically codified in LC 70, and that the majority position on WCF 11 was the IAO as well. Now, this whole discussion is really a side point, as Wes White’s article clearly shows. But Lusk has not even begun to demonstrate that NTW holds even to the concept of imputation. Lusk and I agree that NTW certainly doesn’t like the terminology. But I would argue that Wright holds to no imputation of *any* righteousness of Christ to the believer, active or passive. And sorry, the status of Christ simply isn’t the same thing. Of course, I have serious problems with Lusk’s position on baptism as well. But that is another discussion.

  290. N Harper said,

    May 9, 2007 at 10:27 am

    What a person believes about the confession is irrelevant when it comes to the FV report. The FV committee was assigned the task of determining whether or not the views of the Federal Vision were in accordance with the Westminster Standards. They concluded that the FV was contrary on nine points. They clearly spelled out in their introduction the place of the WS in relation to Scripture. If you don’t like their conclusions, then have the courage to leave the denomination. You have the freedom to do that. The FV folks won’t leave because they know they are wrong. So, instead, they put up the smokescreen and dare to challenge over 300 years of church history.

    Quit your belly achin’, go “be right” and toot your horn somewhere else.

  291. markhorne said,

    May 9, 2007 at 11:10 am

    “And sorry, the status of Christ simply isn’t the same thing.”

    Lane, this is the mysterious (to me) premise of much I have heard going back to the Mississippi Valley Presbytery Report. I don’t get it. At his resurrection Jesus was declared righteous. This was not possibly a verdict limited to anything but his whole life of faithfulness. Those who are united to Christ share his legal verdict. They are credited as righteous. How is that not a status?

    And where does Westminster spell out what righteousness is and how imputation is *not* a shared status?

    It seems to me that, unless we’re going to say imputation means something like the implantation of false memories in the Father, so tht he thinks I healed blind Bartimaus, that we’re going to have to admit some sort of transition from the specific (Christ’s life of perfect faithfulness) to the generic (all of us, many of whom lived longer than 33 years and who were never required to go to the cross or do a host of other things that Jesus did. If we admit that the imputation to us of the act of having cleansed twelve lepers with a word is not necessary in that detail in order for us to be in right standing with God, then we are admitting that we share a status of “righteous” that does not necessitate all those details.

    As I see it we are credited with being faithful based on Christ’s faithfulness. I don’t see how that is not a status.

  292. markhorne said,

    May 9, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Gary, I love reading both N. T. Wright and Richard Hays. Am not proposing either one for ordination in any orthodox Reformed denomination.

    To some extent, I’ve wondered if this (“this” being bigger than you personally so don’t think I’m imputing all this to you) boils down to a war over reading habits or allowing others to know one’s reading habits.

  293. greenbaggins said,

    May 9, 2007 at 11:23 am

    This is what I mean: being justified is a status. However, Christ’s status as being vindicated, and our sharing in that status is not the same thing as Christ’s *law-keeping* being imputed to us, being reckoned as ours. The former does not have to (and usually doesn’t, in FV and NPP formulations!) include the latter, whereas the latter includes the former.

  294. Todd said,

    May 9, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Neil, are you a member of a local PCA church?

  295. Todd said,

    May 9, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Mark’s question is really good. Christ’s miracles were part of his obedience to the law and to the Father–is *this* obedience imputed to us?

  296. greenbaggins said,

    May 9, 2007 at 11:34 am

    The question is actually irrelevant, since it is Christ’s obedience to the law *as a whole* not as bit-pieces that is imputed.

  297. Todd said,

    May 9, 2007 at 11:39 am

    But is the miracle-working included in the whole?

  298. markhorne said,

    May 9, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    “The former does not have to (and usually doesn’t, in FV and NPP formulations!) include the latter, whereas the latter includes the former.”

    How can the verdict on Christ’s life, which we share with him as our representative head, not include his whole life?

    I know for a fact that Lusk thinks that it does and have never heard anyone exclude it.

  299. John Harley said,

    May 9, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Since my thoughts concerning the makeup of the “Study Committee” were referenced I’ve decided to respond, although I really have o heart for a defensive match over things that were picked upon in my statement or lvpca.org, however a little explanation might be in order concerning the matters that were brought up. 1. While I did cut and paste the same thought to various blogs there was no spamming involved at least not according to my understanding of what spamming involves. Just to make sure I looked up definitions of the term. In todays parlance, spamming tends to be “unsolicited” emails primarily for the purpose of selling or advertising. Well to tell you the truth I am not selling anything. It seems to me that when the blog world is set up in such a way as to discuss particular issues, responses are by definition solicited. If that were not the case we wouldn’t have so much dialog concerning the matters at hand. Of course it could be that the word “spamming” is being nuanced in a manner unfamiliar to me and I will have to accept that. 2. Reference to our statement concerning worship at Lehigh Valley Presbyterian Church was defined by Tim as “In other words this is Federal Vision’s Covenant Renewal Worship” Call it what you want. I can honestly tell you that your worship practice began in the mid 1980s long before there was any of this discussion even on the horizon. Our studies concerning liturgical practice came from reading such books as “Liturgies of the Western Church”, Calvin’s liturgical practice Strasborg and then Geneva, “The Study of Liturgy,” and “The Shape of the Liturgy, to name a few. If ligurgical practice, therefore, defines one in the negative (at least by some) so be it. We were certainloy concerned about the direction worship practice was taking us evidenced by contemporary service, women involved as woship leaders, lack of Psalm singing, in some cases, very little Scripture reading etc. So we belived and still to that the Bible and history of the church along with previous usage by Reformed churches had something to teach us concerning Lord’s Day worship and what it is all about.. 3. I suppose the quote of an “absolution of sin” was supposed to be indicative of something to be viewed the the negative, to which I will only say that one of my favorite authors helped us come to an understanding of public confession and declaration of pardon and I quote a short paper I wrote entitled “I beg Your Pardon” ” In the Strasburg Liturgy by Martin Bucer Absolution followed the Confession and was unmistakable in its authority. Bucer taught that when it is given “through the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when it is received with true repentance and a hearty desire for grace, the absolution imparts to the afflicted a special and undoubted comfort and renewal, and also a special strength to avoid sins henceforth. (Taken from Liturgies of the Western Church)

    In John Calvin’s, “The Form of Church Prayers” we also see the use of an absolution after the confession. Quoting from Calvin’s Institutes Book 3 Chapter 4 Sections 12 and following we see some of Calvin’s thinking relevant to the absolution. “The power of the keys has place in the three following modes of confession, -either when the whole Church , in a formal acknowledgment of its defects, supplicates pardon; or when a private individual; who has given public offence by some notable delinquency, testifies his repentance; or when he who from disquiet of conscience needs the aid of his minister, acquaints him with his infirmity…….For when the whole Church stands as it were at the bar of God, confesses her guilt, and finds her only refuge in the divine mercy, it is no common or light solace to have an ambassador of Christ present, invested with the mandate of reconciliation, by whom she may hear her absolution pronounced. Here the utility of the keys is justly commended when that embassy is duly discharged with becoming order and reverence. In like manner, when he who has as it were become an alien from the Church receives pardon, and is thus restored to brotherly unity, how great is the benefit of understanding that he is pardoned by those to whom Christ said, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them” (John xx.23) .” Note that in the absolution quoted by Tim, emphasis is placed not on the individual declaring the absolution but the “Pwer of such faith”. 4. Question was raised as to who I know on the PCA study committee to be anti-FV and how I know it. Of course reference was made to the obvious, Ligon Duncan by someone else. As to the rest of the men on the committee, I am only repeating the messege blogged by anti-FV folk not long after the committee was named. I can name names of men who clearly spelled out that they were familiar with the committee and that there was nothing to worry about since the committee was basically an anti-FV committee. This was not something made up by me. This is quoted from various anti-FV men as an encouragement to others as they considered what direction the conmmittee might take. If you do the digging, you can find the quotes. I don’t need to do that for you. I am very familiiar with some who made such statements on the internet and they are not just backwater, theological lightweights. Actually, I’m quite sure that I am not the ony one who read these quotes with some consternation,while I also know that many were encouraged to hear the same. Look, let’s be honest. If there was a desire to actually study the matter from both “sides” of the issue as had bew done with previous issues, at least one or two of those who we know are the main players in the controversy could have been called upon. This was not a judicial case in which the decked had to be stacked to insure 100% compliance with our standards. This was a study being made concenring a doctrinal matter. To now insist that everything needs to be totally according to “Westminister” when very little of Westminster was considered in the “creation” debate particularly since even the Framework Hypothesis is no longer an exception to the standards in spite of all the study and work that was done by Davil Hall et.al. to prove to the contrary, is ludicrous. 5. By the way, even though I know many men and churches which believe in paedocommunion (ours being one), I know of no one in the PCA who so believes and has not informed their presbytery of said belief. Neither do I know of anyone or church in the PCA who practices paedocommunion. We have shown ourselves to be men under authority and in compliance with our church concerning the practice of our differences.

  300. greenbaggins said,

    May 9, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Mark and Todd, what I mean is that it is not Christ’s obedience as atomistically divided up into small parts that is imputed to us. Your objection commits the fallacy of composition. The properties of individual things are not necessarily the properties of the group as an aggregate. It is Christ’s *whole* obedience that is imputed to us. Otherwise, you have the same problem, since if you only hold to the passive obedience imputed, then you have to impute individual aspects of the passive obedience, as well, such as the scourging. This is the realm o the ridiculous. It is Christ’s obedience as a whole that is imputed.

  301. Todd said,

    May 9, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    I heard a man being examined for ordination at presbytery this weekend who spoke of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as the imputation of a status. I don’t know whether it cought anyone else’s attention, but no one asked about it. Active and Passive didn’t come up. He was approved.

  302. Todd said,

    May 9, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Lane, do you believe that the distinction between active and passive obedience commits the fallacy of composition?

  303. R. F. White said,

    May 9, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    I’m told that, according to Chad Van Dixhoorn, of Gataker, Twisse, and Vines (Westminster Divines who denied active obedience), their denial of it was rooted in their rejection of the imputation of the “whole obedience of Christ,” on the grounds that some of His obedience was not properly due to all men but only to Him in His role as Messiah, and they feared that such obedience would necessarily be included in “active obedience.” Perhaps someone can corroborate this report and provide more context.

  304. Tim Wilder said,

    May 9, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Re: 303

    “Lane, do you believe that the distinction between active and passive obedience commits the fallacy of composition?”

    I don’t know what Lane thinks, but the distinction between active and passive obedience is a covenantal distinction. It has to do with obeying the requirements commanded in the covenant (active obedience) and submitting to the punishment for breaking the covenant (passive obedience), which includes living in the world under the curse pronounced on creation. It is not just events surrounding the cross.

    “Passive obedience” is, in fact, a legal term. I was recently reading Locke’s Education for Liberty, where the author has a chapter comparing Locke to Filmer. Filmer, who denied the right to resist an oppressive government, holds that “any limitation of political authority … takes only the form of ‘passive obedience’, not the form of active resistance.” This means, as Filmer puts it, “if men command things evil, obedience is due only by tolerating what they inflict: not by performing what they require.”

  305. May 10, 2007 at 6:58 am

    Todd
    Just when I think you and I could sit down over a couple of beers and some fine cigars and hash out our theological differences as we compare notes about our time at WTS, you gotta go and fling at me that frequently heard FV charge that we are violating the 9th commandment in our objections to this or that FVer. I have read very carefully what Lusk has written- especially about NT Wright, and I am NOT misrepresenting him when I say that he does most certainly and enthusiastically endorse ,in the main, Wright’s understanding of justification. Lusk article on Wright. ‘Friend or Foe’ that appeared in John Armstrong’s old R&R journal as well as his contributions in the Knox colloquium book, particularly his ‘Excursus: Why the ‘New Perspective” Matters’ is a ringing defense of Wright on this very issue. Not only that but it was in that same article that Lusk declared that there is no need for imputation at all. Yes, I have seen that he has since attempted to soften those remarks but not to the extent that he has altered his position. In other words he still follows NT Wright , with the help of Norman Shepherd on the two-stage nature of justification, the role of imputation, and the CoW in developing his own unique views which I contend, are NOT in harmony with the WS. Lusk’s concerns about Wright’s veiws on the other issues that you alluded to are irrelevent to this discussion.

  306. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 7:28 am

    Gary, do you believe that sins against the ninth commandment are a significant temptation in theological debate? Do you believe the FV guys have ever been misrepresented by their critics?

  307. May 10, 2007 at 8:04 am

    Todd
    Do you believe that the critics of the critics of the FV have ever erred in their assessment of us? Really, Todd the answer to both your questions is obvious.But how much blame is to be laid at the feet of the FV for the very clumsy way they went about airing their views? Of course views get misunderstood and warped, but that is often the case in every theological debate. Do you remember the consternation the Emergent church crowd displayed over D.A. Carson’s book critquing them? The Open theists complained that their critics misunderstood and deliberately misrepresented them. Roger Olson , in particular, was howling mad at the way the ETS dealt with John Sanders and Clark Pinnock.Naturally, Norman Shepherd felt the same way when he found himself in hot water over his views at WTS and in the OPC. But, back to the point about Lusk-do you still contend that I violated the 9th. commandment in my assessement of Lusk?

  308. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Regarding 303, I would simply refer you to Hodge’s ST, III, pp. 148-150, which addresses precisely this issue.

  309. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 8:56 am

    I also think that Tim is spot on.

  310. pduggan said,

    May 10, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Is the issue how God could give us Christ’s verdict if he didn’t give us the grounds for giving us the same verdict?

  311. May 10, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Fowler
    The recent book,’ Justified In Christ’, edited by our mutual friend from our student days at WTS, Scott Oliphant has a very fine piece on the subject by Jeffrey Jue, ” The Active Obedience of Christ and The Theology of the Westminster Standards: A Historical Investigation”.

  312. David McCrory said,

    May 10, 2007 at 9:12 am

    “Of course views get misunderstood and warped, but that is often the case in every theological debate.”

    ~ Gary would you excuse misrepresentation then, as being a casuality of theological war?

    I think this is why we have church courts. To establish facts, make authoritative rulings, and to help avoid many of the sins that occur in settings such as this. Sins, which both sides admit occur.

  313. May 10, 2007 at 9:34 am

    David
    Perhaps, but often times the blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the person(s) claiming that they have been misunderstood when in fact they did not clearly ariculate their position. Case in point: Lusk and Jordan’s interpretation of Phil. 2 and their contention that the Greek etymology of ECHARISATO determines its meaning here and by so doing they committ the exegetical fallacy identified by D.A.Carson as the root fallacy (this was pointed out by David VanDrunen in his chapter in the book, ‘By Faith Alone’)They cannot scream that they were misinterpreted by us for concluding that they deny that Christ’s obedience is essential for our justification.Or Shepherd’s complaint that his critics misunderstand him when he confuses things by sometimes referring to the ‘ground ‘ of justification and the ‘instrument’ of justification are not the same but then switches terminology and uses them interchangably.

  314. David McCrory said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:05 am

    I remember hearing one of the concerns about Shepherd was, when being examined, he wasn’t very clear in his delineation of his views. The burden should not lie upon the listener or reader to decipher what the author is trying to convey. Rather it behooves the speaker/writer to articulate themselves clearly and concisely as to avoid such confusion on the part of their listeners/readers.

    I think this is especially true when you’re suggesting (as is the FV) we need to reconsider some of the more traditional renderings of theological dogma. When proposing dramatic changes, ambiguity is not the way to go. In other words, our default position should consist of the long-standing views currently being held. And then we only proceed to reform those views, as we find clear unambigious evidence to do so.

  315. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:10 am

    David, well said.

  316. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:11 am

    I believe that the ninth commandment requires us to go “above and beyond” in accurately representing those we’re most tempted to misrepresent. If Lusk has said negative things about Wright, this fact ought to be acknowledged within a critique of Lusk’s support for Wright. Of course he is overwhelmingly supportive of Wright’s views. But if that’s all you say when talking about Lusk’s view of Wright, you’ve spoken/written a half truth.

    It’s a “whole truth and nothing but the truth” issue. Especially the “whole truth” part. Packer: A half truth, masquerading as a whole truth, becomes a complete untruth.

    Oliphint, not Oliphant.

  317. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Todd, how does one accurately represent an amoeba in Brownian motion?

  318. R. F. White said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Perhaps this will help. As I see it, doctrines with a minority standing, which the church (vis-à-vis individuals) has not widely confessed over the years, particularly through its pastors and teachers, are not necessarily wrong, but they must bear the burden of proof and demonstrate that the weight of the evidence is with them. The minority standing of any view, in any area of biblical studies, generally requires that the evidence put forward in its favor must be weightier than usual. This is the case because it is simply unlikely that saintly and learned pastors and teachers, with the majority of mature Christians would have misconstrued the teaching of Scripture in its major, defining shapes, contours, and trajectories. As this applies to the current situation, it seems to me that the FVers must be the burden of proof and bear that weight with great carefulness.

  319. David McCrory said,

    May 10, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Yes Mr. White, I believe that is helpful.

  320. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Whoa, Lane. Your question sounds like you’ve given up on even trying for accuracy. The anser, of course, is to accurately trace out how you believe someone’s position has changed from one statement to another, etc., instead of only repeating the parts of his position that are weakest in your eyes. The ninth commandment is worth the trouble, I think.

  321. May 10, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Todd
    When we are debating the PCA study report as it pertains to the FV and the NPP and their respectives views in order to determine if they are compatiable with the WS- why suddenly throw into the mix Lusk’s disagreements with Wright’s view on the ordination of women ? The questio that sparked this thread had to do with the make-up of the PCA committee: should there have been a equal representation of the views being assessed- you answered in the affirmative, even allowing men who held to the NPP of Wright to be part of the committee. My whole point was simply this: Wright makes no claims to be in agreement with the WS, on the contrary he specifically says that he is not seeking to maintain a direct line of connection with the older Reformational understanding of the doctrine of justification. Lusk follows Wright along a very similar line of thought, thinking that somehow he can keep a foot in both boats at the same time. Somehow by pointing out that this will not wash I have done an injustice to Lusk by not giving him credit for the areas where he does have concerns about Wright,i.e. Women’s ordination. I fail to see how that has anything to do the issues under debate and therefore I am notguilty of violating the 9th commandment- but you may be!

  322. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 11:12 am

    “This is the case because it is simply unlikely that saintly and learned pastors and teachers, with the majority of mature Christians would have misconstrued the teaching of Scripture in its major, defining shapes, contours, and trajectories.”

    But surely Luther heard the same from his accusers.

  323. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 11:16 am

    No, Gary. Lusk mentioned the women’s issue in the paragraph I made reference to, but this paragraph was also the intro paragraph to a couple of pages of critique of NTW’s views of justification and imputation. Ordination is not the only place Lusk has problems with Wright.

  324. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 11:33 am

    Todd, stop trying to evade questions. The FV claims not to be monolithic. Countless critics have now acknowledged this. But FV claims on the one hand to be amorphous, and on the other hand to be misinterpreted. The proverbial wax nose comes to mind.

  325. David McCrory said,

    May 10, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Lane, I’d very much appreciate your opinion on the following article when you have time;

    http://reformedpuritan.wordpress.com/2007/05/10/the-westminister-standards-fv-the-regulative-principle/

  326. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    But my comments have been about Gary’s less-than-fully-accurate representation of a single writer, rather than of the movement as a whole.

  327. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    I think the wax nose fits individual writers as well. In fact, for most of the critics, the FV simultaneously “holding” to the WS and then having contradictory theology to it is an example of the wax nose. This is one of the standard critiques of the FV by now.

  328. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Very standard indeed.

  329. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    “30 Reasons Why It Would be Unwise for the PCA General Assembly to Adopt the Federal Vision Study Report and Its Recommendations”

    By Jeffrey J. Meyers
    May 10, 2007

    http://www.prpc-stl.org/auto_images/117880518730ReasonsFinal.pdf

  330. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Yes, I’ve seen these. Stay tuned for critique.

  331. May 10, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Todd
    “Of course he (Lusk) is overwhelmingly supportive of Wright’s views”. Question: Are Wright’s views in harmony with the WS?( I see where Meyers is on his crusade about the WS stanards usurping the Scriptures….again. I warned that this will eventually start the call for confessional revision) If not, then why do you continue to slander me with the accusation that I am violating the 9th. commandment by drawing the obvious parallel between Lusk and Wright? This kind of ploy is something that the FV sympatherizers resort to all too frequently.

  332. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    “Are Wright’s views in harmony with the WS?”

    Easy. Some are and some aren’t.

    “I warned that this will eventually start the call for confessional revision.”

    Gary, do you believe the Reformed church will ever be able to improve on the WS?

  333. R. F. White said,

    May 10, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Todd,

    Yes, you are surely right about Luther and, for that matter, the Reformers. My point is that Luther et al. bore the burden of proof and presented their case, persuading many that the teaching of Scripture (as distinct from much of church tradition) had, in fact, been misconstrued. As I said, minority positions are not necessarily wrong; they do necessarily bear the burden of proof. Such is life.

  334. David McCrory said,

    May 11, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Mr. White, I’m wondering how one (or several) men should go about trying to present their case without being condemned as heretics in the process? I’m thinking of Steve Wilkins. Has he simply not followed the proper channels in explaining his view in order to avoid accusations of heresy? Hasn’t he passed all of his recent examinations by those to whom he is accountable? I suppose I’m confused about how the church goes about trying to improve upon it’s Confession w/o tearing itself apart in the meantime?

  335. JJTA said,

    May 15, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Who cares if the committee is “biased”? Only the facts should be argued, not the men presenting them.

    Can we simplify the debate to what it really is? Should baptized children who are OBVIOUSLY too young to knowingly profess faith be allowed to partake in communion? The Bible says no. Case closed. Vote the report in and if you don’t like it- start your own denomination.


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