Individualism

I am not sure whether Doug will respond to my review of chapter 5 of RINE, so I am going to move ahead. Doug has been rather extraordinarily busy with the whole MARS thing.

Chapter 6 of RINE, entitled “Individualism” is a very short chapter consisting of 3 pages. The thesis is that corporate and individual aspects of salvation should not be played off against one another. To use his own memorable phrase, “The fact that we believe in a corporate covenant omelette does not mean we disbelieve in eggs” (p. 57). He makes the point that “we go to heaven or hell by ones” (p. 58). Individuals are the counting units (ibid). However, we must take care not to over-emphasize either individualism or corporateness at the expense of the other.

I have a few questions of clarification for Doug: what does he means by saying “A man is not defined by his internal essence” (p. 58)? What is the relationship of such a statement (which presumably is about covenantal relationships) to the statement in Scripture, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7: note that the various translations differ considerably in their renderings). If a man’s internal essence is defined by the Holy Spirit, then doesn’t his essence form at least part of who he is?

Second question: regarding omelettes, are the eggs Christians in the decretal sense? If so, how do they make up a corporate covenant omelette which presumably contains unbelievers? Do believers and hypocrites together make up a truly scrambled mush? I guess I am not quite sure how the analogy is supposed to work. I agree with the basic point that covenantal and individual aspects of salvation are not to be played off against one another. However (and this is not what Wilson is saying, I hope) this does not mean that the omelette is undifferentiated.

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298 Comments

  1. tim prussic said,

    May 30, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    It seems to me that Pastor Wilson’s arguing that there are aspects of our great salvation that are conceieved of primarily as individual and others primarily as corporate. When one thinks of an individual Christian, one’s mind, as a matter of covenantal course, should be drawn to the body of which the one is a part. Also, when one thinks of the body of Christ, one should understand it’s made up of individuals.

    That doesn’t help us in drawing the specific lines, but it does alert us that there are lines to be drawn and gives us an idea what direction they should be going.

  2. Chris said,

    May 30, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Yeah well, that will make you think twice about what the confession teaches now won’t it. How bout those list of divines and their views of baptismal efficacy!

    http://www.joelgarver.com/docs/Questions_and_Concerns.pdf

  3. Chris said,

    May 30, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    and here are 12 more that came out today as well:

    http://www.prpc-stl.org/auto_images/118055886712Reasons.pdf

  4. greenbaggins said,

    May 30, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Chris, this is a condensation of the 30 reasons, not an additional 12 reasons.

  5. Chris said,

    May 30, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    good point. thanks.

  6. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 30, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Chris has linked a great letter about the PCA report from non-FV pastors.

  7. tim prussic said,

    May 30, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Seems to be a scattered bit of conversation, here. I’m certainly interested in the discussion of the effects of revivalism and individualism. Is Pastor Wilson correct that these two isms are things that we need to understand thoroughly and comprehend how they may have come to effect our understanding of the Scripture and the Standards? Tim thinks so. Tim’s also worried about reacting to the misunderstanding in an unbiblical way.

  8. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 30, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Is Tim is starting to speak about himself in third-person?

  9. Andy Gilman said,

    May 30, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Regarding the link in #2, I would like to know what these pastors mean by this question:

    “Why does the committee narrowly interpret our standards to speak “only” of union with Christ as belonging to the decretally elect when there are ways that our standards understand this more broadly?”

    What ways do “our standards understand this more broadly?”

  10. tim prussic said,

    May 30, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Todd, Tim’ll do whate’er it takes.

    Tim

  11. Andy Gilman said,

    May 30, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    I just now noticed the footnote that the pastors gave in that document, but WLC 167 gives no credence to their notion that “there are ways that our standards understand this more broadly.” The LC makes it abundantly clear that it is the decretally elect, and only the decretally elect, who enjoy “union and communion” with Christ.

  12. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 30, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    Andy, I agree with you. And yet, in 167, all who are baptized are encouraged to draw strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized.

  13. Andy Gilman said,

    May 30, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    Not that we should read too much into this, but for those who remember the debate/discussion which ensued when the “Presbyterians and Presbyterians Together” statement surfaced, I think it’s at least mildly interesting that of the ten pastors listed on the “Questions and Concerns” document linked in #2, seven of them were also signers of the “Presbyterians and Presbyterians Together” statement.

  14. tim prussic said,

    May 31, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Andy, can’t we speak beyond the Standards? Beyond is not necessarily against. Do the Standards delimit the area of legitimate discussion and belief? Suppose that the Westminster Standards speak of union/communion only in a decretal sense, does that prevent us from making a clear distinction and speaking of it in a complimentary way?

    It seems that this can boil down to how one sees the Standards functioning: as a high water mark or as a foundation. A high water mark can’t be improved upon, while a foundation is to be built upon with care. Maybe there are other analogies that will work better than those.

  15. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Lane I think your point about the nature of the eggs (are they decretally elect?) is excellent. Wouldn’t decretally elect eggs, comprise a decretally elect omelette? Additionally, individuals remain distinguishable in a corporate setting. We aren’t all scrambled together into an undistinguishable glob.

  16. Andy Gilman said,

    May 31, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Regarding Tim Prussic’s question in #14:

    This is a different matter from the one I commented on in #9 and #11. These pastors are disputing the interim committee’s report, arguing that the Standards allow for a “broader” reading of “union with Christ.” The LC which they appeal to, is absolutely clear that “union with Christ” is something enjoyed by the decretally elect, and they alone.

    With regard to whether or not reformed people can speak of “union with Christ” in some “other sense;” I would say, only with utmost care. Especially when those people want to speak of “union with Christ” in a way that seemingly contradicts the Standards. If the Standards say that “union with Christ” is for the decretally elect only, and someone wants to say that all baptized members of the visible church enjoy “union with Christ” in “some sense,” then they had better make it absolutely clear what they mean, and clearly distinguish between what they mean by “union with Christ,” and what the Standards mean by “union with Christ,” to remove any possible doubt that they are contradicting the Standards. They should do this every time they speak of “union with Christ” with their alternate meaning.

    To date, I haven’t seen anything from the FV which even differentiates between what they mean by “union with Christ” and what the Standards mean by “union with Christ.” Not only do they fail to go out of their way to always make their meaning clear whenever they use an alternate meaning, but they never make their meaning clear. I have yet to see them clearly differentiate between hypocrites and true professors, as they exist in the church today. The only difference in the FV paradigm, between “hypocrites” and true professors, is the duration of their “union with Christ.” The reality is that in the FV, there are no hypocrites in the church. All are “united with Christ.” God has ordained that some of those who are “united with Christ” will eventually apostatize and thereby “become” hypocrites by a failure to persevere. Those who become hypocrites will be pruned from the vine.

    The FV advocates will SAY “we don’t mean ‘union with Christ’ in the same way,” yet they are unable to define a difference except with respect to perseverence. If you have been following the arguments on this blog, you will know that I do not believe that Leithart, Wilkins and Xon’s esoteric ‘teleological ontology’ argument really defines a difference. It is a smokescreen. But even if it really did define a difference, it would be incumbent upon the FV advocates, in order to avoid confusion, to make this distinction clear everywhere they write about “union with Christ.”

  17. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Andy, isn’t it true that in LC 167, *all* who are baptized are encouraged to draw strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized?

  18. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    I’d say so Todd, yet I’d add not all are given the capacity to do so. If or when they are given it, then the testimony of their baptism becomes efficacious. Would you agree?

  19. Sean Gerety said,

    May 31, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    David McCrory writes:

    Additionally, individuals remain distinguishable in a corporate setting. We aren’t all scrambled together into an undistinguishable glob.

    Good point. John Robbins makes this same point in “Not Reformed At All”:

    “In Wilson’s analogy, eggs represent individuals and omelettes represent the whole, what he calls “a corporate covenant omelette.” This is a strange metaphor for a professed Christian to use, since it was made notorious by the first Soviet dictator Vladimir Lenin: “One cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs.” In saying this, Lenin was defending his bloody Communist Revolution. But Lenin, more perceptive than Wilson, understood that there is indeed a “tension” between omelettes and eggs, because eggs must be broken and scrambled in order to make an omelette. Like Wilson, Lenin was a collectivist — Wilson in a theological and ecclesiastical sense, and Lenin in an economic and political sense; but unlike Wilson, Lenin did not pretend that there is no tension between omelettes and eggs. In Wilson’s theology and in Lenin’s political philosophy, eggs — individuals — must be broken and their individuality destroyed in order to make the collective omelette.

    . . . Wilson’s metaphor is the metaphor the Communists used, not the metaphor Scripture uses. The Scriptural metaphor is not an omelette, but a human body, in which each part — the eye, the ear, the hand — retains and glories in its individuality, while contributing to the well-being of the whole. In the Scriptural metaphor — but not in Wilson’s and Lenin’s collectivist metaphor — the eye becomes more discerning, the ear more acute, the hand more dexterous, by being joined to the Head. The intensification and enhancement of their individuality benefits both them and the whole body. They are not scrambled into some homogeneous omelette in which there is neither eye nor hand nor ear nor head. They become better in their individual purposes and functions, and because they become better individuals, they benefit the body more and more.”

  20. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    David, that sounds just about right. The pastoral question here is really interesting to me–are we teaching our kids to “presume their regeneration” when we teach them to improve their baptism, to draw strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom they are baptized? Shall we speak to our kids like this from the very beginning of their lives, or should we wait for some sort of evidence of regeneration?

  21. tim prussic said,

    May 31, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Andy, in what is union with Christ (in traditional jargon) based? Can we tell if anyone is actually united to Christ? Do we have to base our assessment of someone’s “in Christ” status completely on their fruit without anything more objective, like say, signs of the covenant?

  22. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    “are we teaching our kids to “presume their regeneration” when we teach them to improve their baptism, to draw strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom they are baptized?”

    ~ I think rather than placing it in terms of presumed regeneration (something hidden from our eyes) we should categorize it in something like a presumed promise. We have the Lord’s objective, tangable promise to work in and through the covenant by virture of godly offspring. So that we deal with covenant children based upon the promise of God, not so much so the presumption of regeneration.

  23. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Wilson had a saying that we shouldn’t be trying to “check hearts at the door” whether they’re regenerated or not. I believe in objectivity. We should appeal to a person’s profession in and through baptism. It is a sign (and a seal to the elect only) of regeneration and the wayward baptized soul should be admonished to live according to what his baptism promises to the people of God. If or when that will ever come to fruition is dependent upon the work of God.

  24. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Good stuff, David.

  25. tim prussic said,

    May 31, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Sean, that Robbins quote seems to me typical Robbins. He seems quite often has to import his own understanding of a thing into another’s thinking in order to debunk the other’s ideas. Where I’m from that called cheating. The egg/omlet analogy is used widely and need not have any reference to Lenin. Also, quite typical of Robbins, there’s some good stuff in what he’s saying. There is a certain tension ‘twixt the one and many – say I think I read something about that in philosophy somewhere. His analysis of the biblical body analogy is helpful and appreciated.
    I don’t think that Wilson was really riding the egg/omlet analogy trying to line it up with Scripture, so much as he was just using it as a cliche – something that everyone basically understands without difficulty.

  26. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Here’s Calvin in his commentary on Gen. 17 dealing with the covenant of Abraham and those therein, suggesting the NECM does have a right to be called a child of God (in a certain sense),

    “What, therefore, can be the meaning of Paul, when he denies that certain persons have any right to be reckoned among children, except that he is no longer reasoning about the externally offered grace, but about that of which only the elect effectually partake? Here, then, a twofold class of sons presents itself to us in the Church; for since the whole body of the people is gathered together into the fold of God, by one and the same voice, all without exception, are in this respects accounted children; the name of the Church is applicable in common to them all: but in the innermost sanctuary of God, none others are reckoned the sons of God, than they in whom the promise is ratified by faith. And although this difference flows from the fountain of gratuitous election, whence also faith itself springs; yet, since the counsel of God is in itself hidden from us, we therefore distinguish the true from the spurious children, by the respective marks of faith and of unbelief.”

  27. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Great passage from Calvin, David. Here we clearly have Calvin saying that yes, there is one sense in which NECM’s belong to the covenant, but another sense in which they are unbelievers.

  28. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    I think it is interesting that he says only the elect “effectually partake” of God’s offered grace. I wonder if Calvin would agree NECM’s “partake” in God’s grace to some degree, but certianly not in an efficacious sense.

  29. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    If they partake, it is only to judgment.

  30. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    Right, a temporal blessing, if you will, but eternal judgment. Are you convinced either way as to whether they do recieve some form of blessing?

  31. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    They receive the common operations of the Holy Spirit. But the problem here is that they are common between NECM’s and pagans, not common between NECM’s and ECM’s. I would say futher, however, that they sit under the means of grace, even though they cannot ever receive any blessings that are reserved for the elect, such as justification, and *all* the other ordo salutis benefits.

  32. Sean Gerety said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Tim writes:
    Sean, that Robbins quote seems to me typical Robbins. He seems quite often has to import his own understanding of a thing into another’s thinking in order to debunk the other’s ideas. Where I’m from that called cheating.

    I think Wilson’s attack on biblical individualism is quite pronounced and even pervasive in RINE (and on his blog and in his rag) and Robbins’ comparison to Lenin is apt.

    There is a certain tension ‘twixt the one and many – say I think I read something about that in philosophy somewhere.

    Yeah, I’ve read that too and I think if people paid closer attention to the philosophic arguments you allude to we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The chickens are coming home to roost. John Robbins has been saying that for years too. While as you might say “typical Robbins,” I’m afraid he was right.

    I don’t think that Wilson was really riding the egg/omlet analogy trying to line it up with Scripture, so much as he was just using it as a cliche – something that everyone basically understands without difficulty.

    It seems to me that most of Wilson’s analogy don’t line up with Scripture. I guess we just disagree on what it is he was trying to do.

  33. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    “they are common between NECM’s and pagans, not common between NECM’s and ECM’s”

    Okay. So you don’t find some 3rd level of grace for NECM’s distinct from the common operations of the Spirit in general. Common Grace/Special Grace, that’s it. Right?

  34. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    “But the problem here is that they are common between NECM’s and pagans, not common between NECM’s and ECM’s.”

    Hey, this sounds interesting. No sarcasm. Lane, what’s your evidence for this?

  35. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Yes, I think that is what the divines meant by “common.” The blessings that NECM’s receive are condemnation to them not just at the end of time, but even while they are experiencing them, since they *never* participate by means of faith. I acknowledge that there is such a thing as “historical faith,” but I deny utterly that *any* saving benefits come with that. They are never justified, nor is any other ordo salutis category applied to them. Ultimately speaking, there are only two categories. And that is true in the present, not just in the future.

  36. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Well, I think the common grace/special grace distinction is evidence for how the divines used the word “common.” The word “common” in the WS is always set against the word “special.” The WS does not limit the operations to those who are in the visible church. That is the clincher argument, imo. There is nothing in WCF 10.4 that says that the common operations are limited to the visible church. They can be given to outright pagans, as well.

  37. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Here are the prooftexts for “common operations”:

    q. Matt. 13:20–21. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is
    he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. Matt. 7:22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? Heb. 6:4–5. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come …

  38. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    “The WS does not limit the operations to those who are in the visible church. That is the clincher argument, imo. There is nothing in WCF 10.4 that says that the common operations are limited to the visible church. They can be given to outright pagans, as well.”

    But isn’t this an argument from silence? Is there any positive evidence?

  39. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Lane, so you find no distinction between NECM’s and pagans? If so, what would it consist of? More condemnation?

  40. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Todd, what do you do with the passages that speak of only two groups of people, sheep/goats, wheat/tares? Are these just eschatological categoies and not historical ones?

  41. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Yes, I looked at the proof-texts. All of those texts (except the Hebrews text) can be true for someone outside the visible church. Therefore I deduce that the phrase in question applies to hypocrites outside and inside the church.

    With regard to the argument, isn’t it clinched anyway by the fact that WCF 10.4 says that they never come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved? See above for a positive argument.

  42. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    No, I don’t think that there is no distinction between NECM’s and pagans. The former are part of the visible church, and the latter are not. The former have the preaching of the Word regularly given to them, while the latter do not. But on the ultimate scheme of things NECM’s have everything in common with pagans, and nothing in common with ECM’s.

  43. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    “The former are part of the visible church, and the latter are not. The former have the preaching of the Word regularly given to them, while the latter do not.”

    ~Do you believe, Lane, that the rejection of these things brings about a greater condemnation for the NECM than that of the outright pagan?

  44. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Sure.

  45. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    “Todd, what do you do with the passages that speak of only two groups of people, sheep/goats, wheat/tares? Are these just eschatological categoies and not historical ones?”

    No, I think I probably see those texts the same way you do.

  46. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    It seems then to correlate that the NECM must have received “something” more than the pagan to recieve a greater condemnation than he does.

    Would you say the common operations of the Spirit can or are meted out in differing (greater or lesser) measures, say within or outside the church?

  47. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Todd, are you comfortable with the notion NECM’s recieve a measure of grace above that of the pagan yet below that of the elect?

  48. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Yes, something more. However, it is not in the same class as what ECM’s receive. It is in the same class as what pagans receive.

    I would agree that the common operations can be greater or lesser. I actually think that is implied in the “some” of WCF 10.4. I think greater or lesser can apply within or without the church.

  49. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks Lane. That’s helpful to me. There seems to be a lot of latitude in your view w/o compromising the TR position.

  50. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Yes, I do not hold to “strict for strictness’s” sake TR, but rather TR as biblical.

  51. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Along those lines, and I’m not asking for names, but do you feel their are some TR’s who aren’t open towards reforming tradtional views of the Confession simply becuase they have elevated the Confession as it comes to us now as “above reproach”?

  52. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    I’m sure there are. But far fewer than the FV would suggest. Hey, we have a prescribed method of changing the WS. It’s in the BCO. We can do it if we wish. I would hazard a guess that right now is probably not a good time for anyone to try it, since the TR’s feel that true Reformation theology is under siege. The reaction to this siege is conservatism, of course.

  53. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    I agree. We should not change out of fear, but conviction.

    Doug Wilson has suggested on his blog that “prophets” are always received by the “establishment” the way the FV’s are being received by the TR’s. Any response?

  54. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    How do you guys talk to your kids about their baptisms? Do you say, “You’ve been baptized into Christ!”?

  55. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    I’d be comfortable with that phraseology, Todd.

  56. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Todd, what about #47?

  57. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    “Measure of grace” sounds a bit Roman for me. Grace as a substance, looking at the level in a measuring cup or something. But I’m probably being too picky. NECM has to be some third category within history.

  58. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    Todd, where do you go to find support for this tersius quid ad gracium? hehe

  59. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    NECM’s are not a tertium quid. WCF 10 clearly states that such are not saved. Saved and not saved are the categories the WS use. NECM’s are the latter, *never* the former, and certainly not “in-between.”

    David, I would say that most of the FV’ers are false prophets. Just because one is the “establishment” and the other isn’t doesn’t make one or the other right. But we are a confessional church in the PCA (recognizing, of course, that Wilson is not PCA, nor are many of the other FV’ers). We have the WS. We hold that the WS are a faithful rendering of Scripture’s teaching. That defines us over against every other Christian church that claims to be biblical, but doesn’t hold to the WS. It is how we are distinctive. That is one reason why I think that good-faith subscription is a terrible thing for us. We are saying that it is okay for us to mess with our own identity.

  60. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Yeah that, “tertium quid”. And to think I’m going to teach my children basic Latin one day. I’d better hit the books!

  61. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    I guess the third category in my mind comes from the branch passages: Fruitful branches, frutiless branches, and not branches at all. Within history only.

  62. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Within history, the “fruitless” branches are parasitic “branches,” and not true branches ever.

  63. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    But don’t the fruitless branches become the non-branches once they’re cut off? I think they’re one and the same, at different stages.

  64. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    “NECM’s are not a tertium quid. WCF 10 clearly states that such are not saved.”

    Right. No argument from me. “Never truly come to Christ” is very, very important to me. It’s part of why I consider myself “not FV.”

    But in regard to the covenant, aren’t there three categories? Inward, permanent members; outward, temporary members; and complete strangers?

  65. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Well, they definitely are one and the same thing at different stages. But I am not willing ever to call them true branches. They are parasites, or “sucker” branches, as I have said before. True fruit-bearing branches are the only true kind of branches, since true branches are *defined* by being fruit-bearing. If they don’t therefore bear fruit, then they are not true branches.

  66. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Todd, that depends on how you define the covenant. Is it only to the elect? Or to the elect and other non-elect members?

  67. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    “Within history, the “fruitless” branches are parasitic “branches,” and not true branches ever.”

    Sure. But you’re still left with three categories when viewing things from this perspective, within history: true branches, parasitic branches, and not branches at all.

  68. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Todd, I can go with 64 as long as it is clearly understood that “outward, temporary members” receive no saving benefits whatsoever. Hebrews 10:29, as I have argued, does not refer to “sanctification” (I might disagree with Dr. White here, and I am willing to hear his argument out more), but to something that is not of the ordo salutis. In other words, no NECM’s receive *any* ordo salutis benefits. They are never justified, sanctified, adopted, or anything.

  69. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Lane I agree, fruitless branches are just that simply because they never receive the fruit bearing grace present in fruit bearing branches.

  70. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Todd, if we define parasitic branches as “not branches” in a different stage, then they are still ultimately non-branches, aren’t they? It doesn’t matter where they are in that “scale,” they are at root (!) non-branches.

  71. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    In other words, the category of “not saved” can be SUB-divided into those within the visible church and those without. But they are all still not saved, i.e., one category.

  72. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    But the within-history perspective is important, too.

  73. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    But that is precisely the perspective with which I am dealing, Todd.

  74. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    The 1)Visible/2)Invisible church distintion seems to make room for three categories, historically speaking as well, if we include the 3)pagan with it.

  75. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    This is why it would seem the sheep/goat, wheat/tare analogies appear to be eschatological categories. Not that they don’t exist presently, but that they will be clearly manifest in the eschaton. Meanwhile we are dealing with what I quoted from Calvin above, a “two-fold class of sons” within the church, and the heathen outside of it.

  76. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    But the WS themselves place the NECM’s within the non-saved category, as is crystal clear from WCF 10.4. If I wasn’t dealing with the historical perspective, then I wouldn’t even be using the terms “within” and “without” with regard to the church, since in the eschaton, all the unsaved will be without.

  77. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Just as Abraham had two sons, one of the flesh and the one of promise within the family of God at the time, could we not adopt this for the Church today? Wherein we still find “sons of the flesh” within our ranks along side “sons of the promise” as well?

  78. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    The Ishmaelites among us take upon themselves the sign of the covenant and from man’s perspective participate outwardly, hypocritically (as far as we can see). But the Isaac’s of the covenant truly enjoy the benefits and blessings of covenant living in such a way Ishmael never can.

  79. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    I have no problem with the way you have put it here. But I would not admit a third category.

  80. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    But what of Ishmael? He isn’t of the promise. Yet he isn’t a gentile either. What else is he if not a thrid category?

  81. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    He is unsaved, and never was saved. If the categories are saved and unsaved, then it is clear which one Ishmael is.

  82. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    By the way, this is the historical categories of the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, Augustine’s city of man and city of God. This is the proper historical perspective from the beginning of the Fall all the way until consummation. There are only two seeds.

  83. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    I’m not disputing that. He was not “of faith”. He was unsaved. Yet he was Abraham’s son. He was the seed of Abraham according to the flesh (the covenant of God) in a way distinct from both Isaac (the seed of Abhaham according to the promise), and the gentile who was not of Abraham’s seed at all.

  84. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    83 is for 81. I hadn’t seen 82

  85. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    This also goes back to my Calvin quote. He seems to recognize two “classes” i.e. categories within the church throughout history. And though they differ in nature, he refers to both a “children” and “sons” of God, if but for temporaily for those not of faith.

  86. tim prussic said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Sheesh… lotta water under the bridge when one goes to lunch!

    Sean (post 32) says, “I think Wilson’s attack on biblical individualism is quite pronounced and even pervasive in RINE (and on his blog and in his rag) and Robbins’ comparison to Lenin is apt.”
    This is plain unfair… apt! I’ve read 10 times more of Wilson than it takes to know he’s not at war with “biblical individualism.” Lenin want to kill the conception of individuality and meld everyone into a mindless working blob with him at the helm and you call that an apt comparion to Wilson. It seems quite evident to me that you’re reading Wilson with an altered eye.
    Wilson, so far as I can tell, is not against the biblical notions of individuals – and that’s SHOT THROUGH his writings. He’s against pushing an “individualism” that’s pushed so far as to exlcude covenantal unity, whether in Adam, the Last Adam, or the family. Frankly, so am I. One can err on either side, to be sure. However, I think that you’ve misread Wilson and I’m quite sure that Robbins (at this and many points) has, too.

    David, great find (#26) and good ensuing discussion.

    Todd (#54), I use that phraseology with my kids all the time. I tell them they’re Christians right along with Papa and Mommy, that Yahweh is our God and his Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior. I tell them that since they belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to their faithful Savior, Jesus, that they’re called (right along with Papa and Mommy) to keep his commandments and serve him faithfully. I speak this way to them because I believe God promises such to them and that those promises are signified and sealed to them in their baptisms.

  87. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    And I don’t dispute your point. My point is that the two seed persepective is more basic than the distinction within the covenant. The two seed perspective is more ultimate, and far deeper than the distinction within the covenant. And according to this far deeper distinction, Ishmael was of the seed of the serpent, as you said.

  88. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    “The two seed perspective is more ultimate”

    Yes, more eschatological. Ultimately, there are two classes sheep & goats, wheat and tares. Temporally we are dealing with three classes, sheep, goats and goats in sheep clothing. Baa!

  89. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    But even temporally, I am saying, the goats in sheep clothing are still goats, not shoats or geep.

  90. tim prussic said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Geep! heh…
    Is there not even a nominal difference between a baptized covenanted unbeliever and one outside the covenant? Of course there is and that’s exactly what Calvin was saying above. So, we must clearly distinguish what’s the same and what’s different and not write off all working and biblical distinctions in favor the the ultimate one.

  91. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    I agree with that. Once a goat, always a goat. There’s NaaaY other way!

  92. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    I believe some goats find greener pastures in the Church for a season and try to imitate the sheep. But there is always a discernable difference to the Shepherd who truly knows His own sheep.

  93. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Tim, I am, of course, not writing off all distinctions between NECM’s and pagans. See comments 68 and 71.

  94. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Good stuff Lane, thanks again.

  95. tim prussic said,

    May 31, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Yeah.. sorry. Was having a bit of trouble with the shorthand. What’s NECM and ECM and whatever else mean?

  96. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    NECM = Non Elect Covenant Member

    ECM = Elect Covenant Member

  97. tim prussic said,

    May 31, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    OK.. I think I’m better up to speed. Regarding #68, I agree. That is, I agree in the sense that individuals without faith never gain the personal saving benefits fo Christ. Those benes come to faith.
    That said, can we speak of those merely external covenant members (w/o faith) as covenantally part of the regenerated, justified, sanctified and glorified people of God? In a covenantal sense, can we call them these things? Do you see my distinction?

  98. David McCrory said,

    May 31, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    It’s funny the persistent use of “NECM” should in and of itself testify to some form of third category if ever there was one!

  99. tim prussic said,

    May 31, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks, David. You’re a pal.

    :)

  100. tim prussic said,

    May 31, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    It seems that Lane want to keep viewing thing in a two-fold way, which is certainly true ultimately. He seems to keep brushing over the distiction that the NECM is in the covenant in history, thus distinguishing him from the pagan and likening him the ECM. He has no faith like the pagan, but is sanctified in the covenant, like the ECM. In the eschaton, his judgment will be more, having trampled the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctifed, under foot. In that way, he’ll be under judgment like pagan, but even more so.

  101. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    The way in which a NECM is like an ECM is not saving. Period. Tim, you are misunderstanding my position. I am not brushing over the distinction between NECM’s and pagan. But I am saying that the NECM is no better off, and in fact, is worse off than the pagan. A NECM is in the covenant externally, but not internally. If you agree with that, then we are on the same page. But I am not willing to say that a NECM is a member of the invisible church, nor am I willing to say that the NECM has any claim to ordo salutis benefits whatsoever.

  102. Ron Jung said,

    May 31, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Is there a temporary forgiveness? As a pastor I have baptized adult believers who have, after many years of “faithfulness” fallen away. Were their sins forgiven at the time of their repentance? And baptism? Were not the Ninivites forgiven for a time? I agree with 101 regarding the ordo salutis benefits, but that presupposes one is DE. Is there an ordo of damnation for the apostate that includes a ineffectual calling? Just asking.

  103. tim prussic said,

    May 31, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    I read ya, Lane. I think I’m after how we treat/think of NECMs. I’m wondering if we can apply ordo salutis stuff to them, not in their persons, but because of the covenant they’re in along with converted elect folk. See #97 with regard to that.

  104. A. Dollahite said,

    May 31, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Lane,

    Is it your position that someone within the FV has ever said that the NECM is a member of the invisible church?

  105. May 31, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Lane, sorry I got behind, and then couldn’t find your review of chapter five. Can you help me?

  106. RBerman said,

    May 31, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    Good grief, I had a little internet trouble while writing, and suddenly there are thirty more posts! Anyway. One might even identify four categories:

    1) Within both the visible church and the invisible church: Paul
    2) Within the visible church but not the invisible church: Judas
    3) Outside both the visible church and the invisible church: Julius Caesar
    4) Outside the visible church but within the invisible church: The believing thief on the cross

    In WCF terms, categories (1) and (4) are elect to salvation, and categories (2) and (3) are elect to damnation. Categories (1) and (2) respectively are faithful and unfaithful covenant members. There are lots of interesting debates that could be had about category (4) and whether this group includes Melchizedek, or Job, or elect but unbaptized stillborn babies from Christian families, etc. However, with respect to FV the debate focuses on category (2), and what it does and does not mean to be such a person with respect to God’s gaze, favor, and ontologic status.

    With even finer distinctions and more axes, you could probably generate even more categories. But the heart of the issue, as several of you have said, is whether NECMs (category 2) have more in common with ECMs (category 1) or total pagans (category 3), as far as God is concerned.

  107. anneivy said,

    May 31, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Very neatly delineated, sir.

    What I’d like to understand is why the FV focuses so much attention on (2).

    (2) is, let’s face it, depressing as all git out. It’s where the self-deceived are. We’re praying and trusting we are not of their ilk, so why the fixation upon them?

    Being in the (2) group not only doesn’t get you into eternal glory, it doesn’t even get you movie passes or free coffee. Well, unless the church is one that serves free coffee, but considering the increased condemnation that is part of the (2) package, I don’t think that would be an adequate trade-off.

  108. Ron Jung said,

    May 31, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    Anneivy, #2 is the ultimate pastoral issue. What does baptism do? If one is baptized and confesses their sin, are they forgiven? Can one rely on the Word of God to assure them that they are forgiven? Or do folks just all need to go through the motions and wait until the Lord’s return to see if they were elected before creation? Why should we exhort our people to faithfulness if it really doesn’t matter?

  109. Andy Gilman said,

    May 31, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Way back in #17 Todd said:

    [BOQ]
    Andy, isn’t it true that in LC 167, *all* who are baptized are encouraged to draw strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized?
    [EOQ]

    Yes, but I’m not sure what that has to do with the pastor’s question regarding the interim committee’s statement about “union with Christ.” Are they going to say that being “baptized into Christ” is what the Larger Catechism means by being in “union with Christ?” Questions 64 – 69 clearly contradict such a claim.

  110. Andy Gilman said,

    May 31, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    And in #21 Tim Prussic said:

    [BOQ]
    Andy, in what is union with Christ (in traditional jargon) based? Can we tell if anyone is actually united to Christ? Do we have to base our assessment of someone’s “in Christ” status completely on their fruit without anything more objective, like say, signs of the covenant?
    [EOQ]

    This is not about whether anyone “can tell if anyone is actually united to Christ.” It’s about whether the decretally elect, and they only, are “united to Christ” and enjoy all of the blessings of being “in Christ,” or whether all who are baptized are “united to Christ” and enjoy all the blessing of being “in Christ.” The Westminster Standards assert the former, the FV asserts the latter.

  111. Ben G. said,

    May 31, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    ECMs, NECMs, NENCMs, and ENCMs – oh my!

    “This is not about whether anyone ‘can tell if anyone is actually united to Christ.’ It’s about whether the decretally elect, and they only, are ‘united to Christ’ and enjoy all of the blessings of being ‘in Christ,’ or whether all who are baptized are ‘united to Christ’ and enjoy all the blessing of being ‘in Christ.’ The Westminster Standards assert the former, the FV asserts the latter.”

    That seems to be the heart of most criticism of the FV. Is this true? Would those in the denomination who are associated with the FV actually affirm this latter statement?

  112. Andrew Duggan said,

    June 1, 2007 at 6:26 am

    Re: 109,

    I don’t think the FV would say all baptized enjoy all the blessings of being in Christ, but rather, some baptized don’t persevere, but even those who don’t, while being in Christ, as long as they remain in covenant still enjoy the other benefits of being in Him. Neither do I think they don’t even all agree there, I think some FV would rather say “… still enjoy some of the other benefits …”, instead of just “… the other benefits …”.

    Since I’m not by any means FV, I’m sure I’ve misunderstood them ;-)

  113. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 1, 2007 at 6:42 am

    “What I’d like to understand is why the FV focuses so much attention on (2).”

    Because that’s what the debate is about, right?

  114. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Re: #110

    For the FV, perseverence is not a blessing of being in Christ. Perseverence is the means by which God’s ordination to eternal life is accomplished. God has ordained that some of those who are “united to Christ,” and who “enjoy all the blessings of being “in Christ” will persevere. These are the decreedally elect. God has ordained that others who are “united to Christ” and who “enjoy all the blessing of being “in Christ” will FAIL to persevere. These are the apostates.

  115. RBerman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 8:46 am

    #109: “Would those in the denomination who are associated with the FV actually affirm this latter statement?”

    FVers deny that category (2) people persevere. Some would debate whether perseverance is a distinct blessing, as opposed to being the continuation of the actual blessings. Rich Lusk speaks of “undifferentiated grace” shared by NECMs and ECMs, but he’s not in the PCA. I’d love to hear a PCA FV advocate address this specific topic, because it seems close to the heart of my concern.

  116. anneivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 8:56 am

    From #112: “God has ordained that some of those who are “united to Christ,” and who “enjoy all the blessings of being “in Christ” will persevere. These are the decreedally elect. God has ordained that others who are “united to Christ” and who “enjoy all the blessing of being “in Christ” will FAIL to persevere. These are the apostates.”

    Also neatly put, and shines a spotlight on how the FV removes assurance from being in Christ. Being “in Christ” is not necessarily a good thing in the FV economy, since there is no assurance the LORD has ordained that one will persevere. This is a distinct and radical break with traditional Reformed doctrine, is it not?

  117. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 9:09 am

    In John 15 and Romans 11, is “being in Christ” necessarily a good thing, or is it the background for warnings about continuing in the faith and the possibility of falling away?

  118. anneivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 9:27 am

    You’ve ignored the point of my comment, which was the last sentence. Clearly there are several variations of Christian theology which have people being “in Christ” yet still winding up in hell. That’s not under dispute.

    However, traditional Reformed theology has been firm that “being in Christ” guarantees one a place in glory, so is always a good thing.

    Saying otherwise isn’t new, just not Reformed.

  119. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Doug, I am happy to help you out, here. My review of chapter 5 of RINE is the first link in the post above.

  120. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 10:25 am

    “However, traditional Reformed theology has been firm that “being in Christ” guarantees one a place in glory, so is always a good thing.”

    But I’m asking about how the language of being in Christ is actually used in the Bible.

  121. anneivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 10:33 am

    I am aware of what you’re asking, but that would be hopping down a bunny trail, since the issue isn’t whether or not there are differing interpretations of verses and passages in the Bible, but whether or not the FV’s interpretation aligns with Reformed theology.

  122. June 1, 2007 at 10:34 am

    [...] A commenter writes: One might even identify four categories: [...]

  123. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 10:48 am

    “In John 15 and Romans 11, is “being in Christ” necessarily a good thing, or is it the background for warnings about continuing in the faith and the possibility of falling away?”

    ~ Yes.

  124. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 11:06 am

    David, now we’re talking. Great answer.

    “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.”

  125. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 11:08 am

    And we only continue in His kindness as He grants us the grace of faith to do so.

    Sola Deo Gloria!

  126. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Soli. Dative singular, third declension.

  127. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 11:13 am

    And in this passage, perseverance is a command/warning rather than a promise. In other passages, it’s a promise.

  128. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 11:18 am

    I think we if don’t understand perseverance as part of our sanctification (a synergistic process) we’ll tend to neglect our duties towards the means of grace which strengthen our faith and therefore our heed to the warnings.

  129. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Andy’s post (#112) seem to me way to organized or curt to reflect FV thought. That said, I’ve heard and read Schlissel, for instance, saying things that sound like that. But what Andy’s posted is a very simplistic ANALYSIS of the FV position, which puts all FV folk in such a light as to be easily dismissed as basically semi-Pelagian, or just non-Reformed, as we see going on above. Basically, it seems like a tactic (which has proven quite effective), but I don’t think it’s the best representation of all the variations in FV thinking.

    The fact is that there’s been plenty of discussion about the distinctions involved in covenant – evidence by that quote from Calvin above. Our discussion should continue along Calvin’s lines, I think, not Andy’s.

    I agree with David and Todd (#s 120 & 121). And I affirm that perservernce is of grace – not of works lets any should boast. I do think that it, and fruit, help us distinguish NECMs and ECMs from each other in history.

  130. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Tim, I’d suggest the ablity to produce truly good works (fruit) IS the distinguishing mark between those who posess faith as opposed to those who merely profess faith.

  131. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 11:45 am

    The posession and nature of true saving faith is what this whole debate is really centered around.

    Is temporary faith as demonstrated in the NECM of a different nature altogether from saving faith? Calvin would seem to say yes, in remarking that saving faith comes from the same springs as election.

  132. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Tim, would you agree that the ordo salutis separates the NECM from the ECM (i.e., the latter have it and the former do not)?

  133. June 1, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Gentlemen and ladies,

    I have really enjoyed this current exchange. I have been reading FV related material (pro and con) for well over a year and being a layperson trying to make sense of things I have gone through whole gamut of emotions and confusion. One thing that has been most difficult is that given all the present critique of the FV from scholarly men you find the response generally being that the position is not being understood. I have seen thing on going in several key topics.

    I have tried to be open to there perhaps being a sense of building on the Confession in a deeper way but for all my studies and reflection I stand unconvinced that it is a better way. This not to say I don’t think the Confession cannot be built upon in a richer, deeper way. I personally think that the biggest mistake being made by the FV proponents is the disdain for the “logos” in the understanding of both General and Special revelation. If reason is disparaged, why hold to systematics and “good and necessary consequences”? I am equally perplexed why reason (Logos) gets mixed with “rationalism” or “enlightenment”. They are not the same. Straw Man.

    As for the 3rd category (which are goats at the root), I think they stand in greater judgment due to being given more light just as those outside the church more or less of light historically. So, the NECM are in the greater light in the continuum. ?

    This is my first post and I have so many questions I don’t even know where to begin and so I will begin with this. :)

    Lane, I love your blog.

    Mrs. Beth Ellen Nagle

  134. June 1, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Pardon my typos. I read it twice. :) Lane, you need the plug-in that allows readers to come back and edit within a certain time frame. ;)

  135. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Lane, I think true faith grants the believer access to all the blessings and benefits of Christ, while nothing else does. This true faith is grounded in God’s electing grace and therefore does not proceed to anyone other than the decretally elect. I think Satan is an Angel of Light promoting a faith (temporary, unsaving, etc.) that has a form of godliness but lacks the power thereof. This false faith posessed by those who “join” (from man’s perspective) Christ’s church appears to have many of the same qualities as true faith. It is our limited (and fallen) abilities which prevent the people of God from always rightly discern false faith from true faith.

    This debate hinges on your understanding of the nature and posession of faith.

  136. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    I would like nothing better, Beth. However, the way this blog is set up, it is not quite that flexible. In fact, I cannot use any plug-ins with wordpress.com. That feature is only available with a wordpress.org blog, which I do not have. Welcome to my blog, by the way. How did you come to my blog?

    You have certainly put your finger on a vitally important point, and one that has been hammered quite a bit by the critics. “Good and necessary consequence” is not the favorite method of FV guys. NECM’s are fundamentally goats, not geep. I agree.

  137. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Lane, I do agree that the ordo is only personally acquired by the elect. However, I think (work in progress here, folks) that ordo designations can be coventally applied to all in the covenant, but received only by the eternally elect.

    Mrs. Nagle, some FV proponents’ disdain for logic (good and necessary consequence AND induction [like, say, Charles Hodge's method]) is disturbing. However, I don’t think it’s wide spread. I’ve found it in Schlissel (his notion that the Bible has rough edges and all). But I’ve found most FV guys willing to systematize and rationally work through theological statements.

    By the by, the notion that logos MEANS logic is quite truncated and doesn’t grasp the breadth and color of that work employed in the Bible. I’m not saying that you hold such, but I know that the position’s been held.

  138. Anne Ivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Re: #127

    “…what Andy’s posted is a very simplistic ANALYSIS of the FV position, which puts all FV folk in such a light as to be easily dismissed as basically semi-Pelagian, or just non-Reformed, as we see going on above. Basically, it seems like a tactic (which has proven quite effective), but I don’t think it’s the best representation of all the variations in FV thinking.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, Tim, but I’d be all ears (okay, eyes) to hear (well, read) a decent – never mind “best” – representation of all the variations in FV thinking.

    Heck, a decent representation, i.e. one which has the approval of FV sympathizers/supporters, of just the *primary* variations in FV thinking would tickle me positively pink. ;-)

    Would you be so kind? It’d be tremendously helpful, ISTM.

    Mare-see boo-koo!

  139. June 1, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Oh I see. I did not realize that.

    How did I come by your blog? I honestly don’t quite remember! It was likely through doing a Google search on the topic of FV or the like.

  140. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    “However, I think (work in progress here, folks) that ordo designations can be coventally applied to all in the covenant”

    ~ Tim how can regeneration (an ordo designation) be applied (“applied” meaning to “put to work”) to all in the covenant, if all in covenant have not received the grace of saving faith by which the work of regeneration is obtained?

  141. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Anne, have you read _The Federal Vision_, edited by Steve Wilkins and Duane Garner? It is published by Athanasius Press. It consists entirely of FV articles.

    Tim, does “covenantal possession” mean real possession or not of the ordo salutis? This is the whole question. Saying “covenantal” seems a bit vague to me. I appreciate the fact that you reserve personal possession of the ordo to the elect only. So, when Steve Wilkins says that NECM’s receive *real* benefits, such as justification, sanctification, adoption, what do you think he means?

  142. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    First off, I don’t know what ISTM means… I suffer from a condition of ignince of eBrevs. That should be clear from my posts above!

    Further conditions from which I suffer: Can’t speak for all FV anymore than I can speak for my denom or even my local body. The FV is a movement (maybe) or certainly (as Pastor Jordan insists) a discussion. When someone says, “The FV says…,” I’m always a good bit leary. The best, clearest, most vocal, and clearly the most delightful propoent on the FV side of things is, or course, Pastor Wilson. Reading though his blog will very quickly show that Andy’s simplistic, though elegant, analysis doens’t fit. So, while I’d love to tickle ANYONE positively pink, I just can’t do it – certainly not publically.

    However, you can clearly see from the discussion on this single string that the issues are as simply stated as “the FV saith….”

  143. June 1, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Tim,

    I am not sure I track your concern here? Feel free to clarify.

  144. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Lane, oddly enough I think it’s important to note that by “real” you mean eternally electing. It would seem some would say NECM’s receive “real” benefits, but that their temporary rather than eternal.

  145. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    See, I don’t know what Wilkins means. If he means that, while a NECM is a part of the covenent, there’s NO functional difference ‘twixt him and an ECM, I have to disagree. What I’m talking about is the way we consider folks. In other words, I can’t tell if the brother worshipping next to me is eternally elect or not, but I can know he’s baptized and is not living in scandal. Based up on God’s covenant, administed to the guy next to me via a visible sign and seal, I count him one of the elect, justified, sanctified… people of God. I think the Bible speaks in those general covenantal categories, not just in decretal and invisible categories. That’s what I mean by “covental posession.” Does that help, Lane?

  146. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Tim, have you read my #138?

  147. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Mrs. Nagle, which concern? hehe
    The definition of logos as logic, or the FV’s use of logic?

  148. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Re #118:

    Todd, do you place your skills at biblical exegesis above, for example, the Westminster divines? Isn’t one reason we subscribe to secondary standards because we recognize that “all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves…?” If you are going to challenge the secondary standards, then you should first be well versed in the way these verses were exegeted by our reformed forebears, and you should explain how they came to mistaken conclusions regarding “union with Christ.”

    Such a challenge can’t be waged in the blogosphere, via Canon and Athanasius Presses, or via a few “pastor’s conferences.” It needs to involve the entire confessing denomination. The FV has stood up, with Bible in hand, and challenged the confessional statements of the reformed churches. But unlike Calvin and Luther, it hasn’t even bothered to first try to “reform” the denominations in which it resides, or to seek a written revision of the confessional standards.

    The FV will claim to uphold the confessional standards, until it is shown they are out of accord with them, and then they will say “but what does the bible say” and “we’re just using biblical language.” They want it both ways.

    I wonder how many PCA pastors, let alone the average laymen, would be prepared to sit across the table with Pope Benedict and engage him in point by point biblical exegesis, regarding “justification by faith?” I have alot more confidence in the reformed giants who have gone before us, than I do my own ability to exegete the scriptures, especially when it comes to difficult passages. If you can first give a detailed explanation of how the Westminster divines handled the passages in question, and then show where they went wrong in arriving at their conclusion that only the decretally elect are in “union with Christ,” you would have a stronger case. Next, you should work on revising the confessional standards, by getting the learned men in various denominations to grasp your biblical insights.

  149. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    David, regeneration is not obtained by faith. Faith flows from regeneration. I suppose that’s not the central question, however. I think that the ordo can be nominally applied to NECM, but is only received by the elect.

  150. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    “What I’m talking about is the way we consider folks. In other words, I can’t tell if the brother worshipping next to me is eternally elect or not, but I can know he’s baptized and is not living in scandal. Based up on God’s covenant, administed to the guy next to me via a visible sign and seal, I count him one of the elect, justified, sanctified… people of God”

    ~ Tim, this is called a judgment of charity. We grant professing Christians are what they say, unless and or until they demonstrate otherwise. The question of whether any one individual posseses saving faith (since false faith can look very similiar) is one that may go one concealed for some time.

  151. June 1, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    Tim,

    Logos as logic. :) No hurry as you have much discussion going on.

  152. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    Right Tim, I agree with #147. Regenration preceeds faith.

  153. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    “I think that the ordo can be nominally applied to NECM, but is only received by the elect.”

    ~ Tim, what is your difference between “applying” the ordo to NECM’s and it being “received” by the ECM?

  154. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Mrs. Nagle, sure! I think that John Robbins has followed Gordon Clark in defining logos (specifically in John 1) as logic. That’s a very limited defintion of a word that has quite a vast and profound array of meaning. I know that Greg Bahnsen wrote an essay in opposition of logos = logic. Also, just take 30 mins, a cup of tea (coffee, beer, lemonade…), and sit down with a theological dictionary and read the article on logos. You’ll see what I’m saying. You’ll see the rich philosophical background of the word.
    I am ignorant, I confess it, as I’ve NOT ready Clark’s book on John’s Logos, though I own it. Shame on me, indeed.

  155. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    By nominally applied, I mean they’re named with it. The are a part of God’s people. The group of people “in Christ” who are the elect. So, it’s applied by way of designation, but not necessarily head for head inwardly. That’s what I mean by received. Only the eternally elect receive regeneration, justification, and so on. Those who receive it will never and can never lose it.

    I think this goes just beyond a judgment of charity (JX), but is an appication of the visibility of the covenant in which JX is included. I dunno.. got too much going on. Will have to think it though a bit more.

  156. June 1, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks Tim,

    I am familiar with Clark and do agree with his interpretation of John (as I understand it). I am going to review it to clarify things in my mind as well as other reasons why I am inclined to agree with him.

  157. Anne Ivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    I guess I was hoping for something which would act as a handy reference, as opposed to a book full of articles. Something we all could refer to, much as we say this comment is in reference to comment #whatever.

    Here I’d thought Andy had put together a useful condensation of FV “talking points”, if you will, but darned if it didn’t get criticized as inaccurate.

    It’d be a pleasant change to read “Here! THIS is what the FV believes” instead of “Hey! THAT’S not what the FV believes!” The first is rare, the latter is common as mud.

  158. June 1, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    You got that right Anne.

  159. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    In #127 Tim Prussic said:

    “The fact is that there’s been plenty of discussion about the distinctions involved in covenant – evidence by that quote from Calvin above. Our discussion should continue along Calvin’s lines, I think, not Andy’s.”

    I’m not sure we are on the same page Tim. What are the distinctions the FV make, between a baptized hypocrite and a baptized true professor? Steve Wilkins says that all who are baptized are in “union with Christ” and receive “all the blessings of Christ.” Where exactly does he make a distinction between hypocrites and true professors? Yes, true professors persevere, but that’s because perseverence isn’t part of “all the blessings of being in Christ.” If it were, then all who are baptized would persevere.

  160. June 1, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    I wonder if there is some key idea or assumption that needs to be understood and embraced before all this falls into place and makes sense. Why does it make sense to one and not another. What is the missing interpretive puzzle?

    Am I sounding silly here?

  161. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    No such resource exists of which I am aware. And that is precisely because it is not a clearly defined movement, but has many adherents, who often don’t agree (but are willing to die for one another’s beliefs, apparently).

  162. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Andy, as you’ve stated it, I disagree with Wilkins, though I’d like to know more of what he means – that is, more than a snippet quote. I confess ignorance in this regard.

    Mrs. Nagel, I just ran across a quote from Bahnsen on our topic: “I have read The Johannine Logos, and I found it incredibly unpersuasive, both philologically and theologically. If John’s “logos” were a reference to anything like Aristotle’s conception of logic, the Greek word would not have been “logos” at all.”

  163. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Personally, I think many have misunderstood Clark on this point. Clark, in translating John 1:1 the way he did, was by no means *limiting* the Greek word “logos” to our word “logic.” He was trying to say that the Greek word included logic in its semantic range, and that God is logical.

  164. June 1, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks Tim,

    I will review the Clark book. I have one Bahnsen book that I can peruse as I am pretty sure he discusses “logic” in relation to Van Til. I am not skilled enough even address a snippet post without some further study. But my knee jerk reaction is to say that “logic” is not Aristotle’s conception but it is something he brought to formal visibility. The question as to how to best understand “logos” in John is another matter.

    If I have anything profound to say I will follow up. lol :)

    God bless you.

    Mrs. Nagle

  165. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Not having read Clark’s book, I’ll keep my mouth shut on that score. That God is a God of order (logic?) I would heartily affirm. That his creation is ordered, which includes our created minds, so affirmed. Aristotlean categories are helpful, but maybe Ramus is, too. We shouldn’t read either back into the mind of God.

  166. June 1, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Tim, perhaps understand logic as the laws of thought and that they apply both to being as well as thought and that it cannot be otherwise. Being cannot come from non-being is both true ontologically and logically with the ontological being prior to the logical. This is not true arbitrarily but it is true to “being” both eternal (God) and temporal (Creation). Aristotle formalized logic and that wonderful square of opposition to show logical relations between propositions. :) Good stuff, what I know if it.

    Boy has this topic strayed. I better go do the dishes. :)

    Mrs. Nagle

  167. June 1, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    My apologies, I want to scratch the statement “ontological being prior to the logical”.

  168. Anne Ivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    “…it is not a clearly defined movement, but has many adherents, who often don’t agree (but are willing to die for one another’s beliefs, apparently).”

    What’s ironice is it’s rather unusual to find anyone willing to openly acknowledge that he or she IS an FV adherent.

    Kudos to Wilson, Wilkins, and Horne, among others. At least they’re willing to stand up and be counted when it comes to what they believe.

    “I’m an FV’er and I don’t care!” should be their rallying cry.

    That could probably use a little fluffing. ;-)

  169. Anne Ivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    [groaning] I’m with Beth…it’d be nice to be able to edit. “Ironic”…I meant “ironic”.

  170. June 1, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    post got sent prior to finishing…

    I meant to say
    My apologies, I want to scratch the statement “ontological being prior to the logical” . What I mean to underscore is that that the eternal is prior to the temporal both ontologically and logically. This is how basic logic is in regards to being and persons.

    I hope I did not belabor this too much.

  171. Anne Ivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Oops. Make that “Mrs. Nagle.” I’ve a granddaughter and a daughter-in-law both named “Beth” so I automatically defaulted to one of my favorite names. ;^)

  172. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    In #162 Tim Prussic said:

    “Andy, as you’ve stated it, I disagree with Wilkins, though I’d like to know more of what he means – that is, more than a snippet quote. I confess ignorance in this regard.”

    Okay, but in #129 you say I’m misrepresenting the FV position. Presumably then you can show me where FV advocates contradict what I’m saying. It seems to me that every time the point is raised, all the FV has to offer is Leithart’s “teleological ontology” smokescreen. If you could show me something else, I would like to see it.

  173. June 1, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Andy, what does “teleological ontology” smokescreen mean?

    Anne, that is quite alright!

  174. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve read Wilson deny that’s his position. I’ve heard them all testify that their notions of covenant election, justification, etc., do not (in their own minds) contradict traditional formulations of those doctrines. In some cases, I think they’re confused, but certainly not all.
    As I said above, your thumbnail is an analysis. It may or may not be helpful. I don’t think that it is, simply because it’s far too simple. Simplicity’s great for mass production, but not for rigerous discussion.

    Lane, you’ve not responded to my covenantal = nominal posts above. I’m interesed in your thoughts.

    All this has made me hungry. I’m going to lunch. See you guys around post 200.

  175. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    “By nominally applied, I mean they’re named with it.”

    Right. They’re Christians in name only. And you can called them justified or sanctified all day long, but it doesn’t make it so.

    “I think this goes just beyond a judgment of charity”

    But why? A judgment of charity takes into consideration all we have to say about a professing believer in terms of both pastoral and theological concerns. It is as if you’re having to create a problem w/ JX just to solve it with something else. Trying giving JX it’s full due.

  176. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    “Todd, do you place your skills at biblical exegesis above, for example, the Westminster divines? Isn’t one reason we subscribe to secondary standards because we recognize that “all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves…?””

    Tim, are you thinking of some specific exegesis that my comments seem to contradict? The divines’ treatment of Romans 11 in particular?

  177. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Do posts in this blog keep getting renumbered, or am I just continually getting the numbers wrong?

    I posted a question for Todd (currently my question is #148), and in it I referenced something he said in #118. The thing I referenced is now #120. This happened a couple of other times and I thought it was just me, but now I’m wondering if something else is happening.

    Todd, to your post in #176 (currently). The question about exegesis was from me, and is related to your statement in #120 (currently).

  178. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    I think I know the answer. Ron Jung is posting from the past (with a faulty date on his computer I guess), and his posts are being inserted in data/time order into the thread.

  179. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    “date/time order” that should be.

  180. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Sorry, Andy, there are some posts that are held in the moderator queue, because they are first-time posts. I have been much more careful of whom I allow onto my blog. The new posts are 102 and 108.

  181. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks Lane. But that fouls up all the number references in the thread. I guess that’s the price we pay to keep the hoodlums away!

  182. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Yep. But if people are aware of it, then they can simply add two to it, and get the right post.

  183. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Tim, I guess I am not quite comfortable with saying that ordo salutis benefits can be ascribed covenantally but not really to the NECM. The judgment of charity is as far as I’m willing to go. What do we gain by going beyond it? Confusion, imo. By the way, ISTM= “it seems to me.”

  184. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Re Mrs. Nagle’s question in #173:

    You can see this argument appealed to by Wilkins in his answers to his Presbytery here:

    http://auburnavenue.org/documents/wilkins_presbytery_response.htm

  185. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Andy (forgive me for thinking I was talking to Tim),

    Do you see the WS as biblical exegesis? Are they attempting to tell us how we should understand every occurrence of “union with Christ” language in the Bible?

  186. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    “I guess I am not quite comfortable with saying that ordo salutis benefits can be ascribed covenantally but not really to the NECM.”

    How about offered? Promised?

  187. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    You can also see some discussion of it in this long thread. You can probably just searh on LEITHART in the thread to find the posts pertaining to it:

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

  188. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Re #185:

    Todd, is that meant to be an answer to my questions in #148?

  189. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    I’m trying to understand your question in 148, man. I’m not proposing any changes for the standards.

  190. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    “”“I guess I am not quite comfortable with saying that ordo salutis benefits can be ascribed covenantally but not really to the NECM.”

    How about offered? Promised?”

    ~ Yes. I feel salvation (ordo benefits) is offered to all, and promised to those who will receive them by faith.

  191. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    I am comfortable with “offered” language, since it does not imply possession, but rather the free offer of the Gospel.

  192. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    But is there any distinction between the way the free offer of the gospel comes to or applies to the NECM and the way it comes to or applies to the pagan? The Bible itself seems to address them differently.

  193. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Even to the ECM Christ is continually offered and promised, no longer as our means unto salvation, but our perseverence and blessed hope and assurance. Christ is all in all.

  194. anneivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Mrs. Nagle, regarding your earlier question about “teleological ontology”, I found where Xon (and where is he, anyway? I’d have expected him to be in the thick of things around here) posted this:

    “This idea of a “relational ontology” (that the relations a thing bears to other things is part of the essence of a thing itself, contrary to the old Aristotelian “substantive ontology” that has generally dominated western thought, which holds that relational properties are always non-essential to a thing. The “substance” of a thing remains and is defined independently of any relations the thing happens to have to other things), and by a slight extension of a “teleological ontology” (that the final end of a thing in terms of its relationship to God is part of the essence of the thing itself), is just one of those ideas that is “out there” in contemporary theological discussion.”

    Actually, there might be some merit to that notion. I mean, when someone is regenerated they are transformed, right? New heart, new birth? Now one of the LORD’s precious sheep? The regenerated person’s “essence” is now different from the “essence” of the unregenerated person, and this essence is due to the person’s new relationship to God.

    How this would fit with the FV, though, I can’t imagine, so I must be misunderstanding something somewhere.

  195. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Xon is changing diapers. His wife gave birth to their first a week or two ago.

  196. June 1, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks! Your comments in this thread are helpful.

    >>You can also see some discussion of it in this long thread. You can probably just search on LEITHART in the thread to find the posts pertaining to it:

  197. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    “But is there any distinction between the way the free offer of the gospel comes to or applies to the NECM and the way it comes to or applies to the pagan?”

    ~ I don’t think so. God is no respecter of persons. He geniunely offers it, indiscriminately. It is only that to the “faithful” NECM who hears the gospel week in and week out, that they have rejected it more often and in a more substantive manner than a native in South America who refuses it once from a missionary.

  198. anneivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    No kidding! How exciting is THAT?!?! :^D

    Well, congratulations to Xon, Mrs. Xon, and the Xonette. ;^)

    Do you know if Baby Xon is a boy or girl?

  199. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Actually, Xon’s last name is Hostetter.

  200. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Lane, would you agree w/ my #197?

  201. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Yes, I agree with 197.

  202. anneivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Yes, well, “Xon” is shorter and easier to spell.

    Not everyone gets to have a cool last name like mine.

    Hehehehe.

  203. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Well, yes, Anne, we’re none of us in your ___league. (insert last name here, Anne)

  204. anneivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Not that I was asked, but FWIW, #197 was quite clearly and cogently put. Absolutely agree with it.

  205. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    I wonder if Todd will agree w/ it?

  206. Andy Gilman said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Re Anne’s statement in #194:

    [BOQ]
    Actually, there might be some merit to that notion. I mean, when someone is regenerated they are transformed, right? New heart, new birth? Now one of the LORD’s precious sheep? The regenerated person’s “essence” is now different from the “essence” of the unregenerated person, and this essence is due to the person’s new relationship to God.
    [EOQ]

    When the FV is asked how the finally-persevering professing Christian differs from the finally-apostatizing professing Christian, as they co-exist in the church IN THE PRESENT, the “teleological ontology” argument is all they have on offer. Both categories of professors are “united to Christ” and “possess all the blessing of being in Christ,” but they are not the same “in essence.” What they will finally be, defines what they currently are.

    This is what I say is a smokescreen. But even if it had merit, it would not be anything like the substantive differentiation the LC makes between true professors and hypocrites.

  207. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Do the FV recognize the “already, not yet” paradigm? This would seem to suggest a strong qualitative difference between the elect covenant member presently when compared to the NECM. The glorious present standing of God’s elect will forever be qualitatively different than that of a reprobate.

  208. anneivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Re: #206

    But Andy, *that* doesn’t work. (I realize this is not your position, BTW.)

    It’s being “united to Christ” that IS the new relationship with God which is the catalyst for the new essence.

  209. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    David, I think Wilson deals with that in his vis/invisible church distinction being rendered Temporal and Eschatological. By the time the church appears in her glory as the bride, all the NECMs will be cut out. Then the elect and only the elect will be a part of the then fully-visible body of Christ.

    Xon’s only excuse is that it’s his first. We just had a baby girl on the 11th – that’s three weeks ago and I’m bloggin’ full force, baby! We had a little girl: Anuhea Justice Prussic – she’s cute.

    Lane, your salvation offered paradigm doesn’t seem to maintain much distinction ‘twixt NECMs and pagans – it seems only a quantitative difference in how much they’ve heard the gospel and been offered the promises. I would maintain that, in their baptisms, NECM do link themselves with God in Christ, but unto their eventual further condemnation.

  210. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    ” NECM do link themselves with God in Christ”

    ~ I think the important distinction here is that they link themselves to Him, He doesn’t link Himself to them. This is why they do not receive the saving benefits that come only to those to whom He “links” Himself to by faith.

  211. Todd said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Bradley Davin Hostetter was born Friday, May 18.

  212. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Is it not important that those who cried “Lord, Lord” (an intimate form of address) were rebuked by Christ who said “Depart, I NEVER knew you”?

    Not, “Depart, you non-elect covenant member who I knew for a while, but then fell away. You who did receive the blessing and benefit of union w/ Me temporarily but were then cut off”.

    Christ never knew them.

  213. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    David, I think that’s a bit of playing word games. If a man is covenantally linked with God, so God is covenantally linked with the man. Now, we do want to keep the disctinction that ONLY the elect personally partake of the graces of the ordo, but I don’t think your wordplay (Jason Mraz!) helps us that direction. In the first place, becuase it is in the sacraments that God comes to men – only secondarily men looking, pledging, ktl back to God. God sets the man apart from the world, God unites him into his covenant, and God and cut him out.

  214. June 1, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks Anne,

    Interesting. I think I was just in that thread (or lost..something like that lol).

    I am trying to make sense of this.

    Andy, in reading where Wilkins quotes Leithart I really struggle with the phrase “nature is determined by ends”. Does this mean made actual or certain (as in at one time it wasn’t certain) or simply made manifest (as in we can’t tell until the end)?

  215. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Well, in my word play I had in mind Paul’s word play where he says it is good they they knew or or rather where known by Him. Knowing Him is significantly different than being known by Him.

  216. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    David, I was speaking with ref to #210.
    With ref to #212, “known” is that special love that God has only for his elect. God’s side of the ordo. Even as NECM don’t share in the ordo, so God’s not known them.
    That, however, doesn’t mean that their covenantal status is nothing, or that they’re afforded no temporary blessings from it. Clearly they are (Heb 6, 10). However, all those temporary blessings will be held against them in the judgment.
    Sorry for the confusion.

  217. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    “If a man is covenantally linked with God, so God is covenantally linked with the man”

    ~ How is man covenantally linked w/ God? Is it not by faith? And how are the sacraments made efficacious, is it again not by faith? How can a NECM who has not the faith to receive the blessings of union w/ Christ be said to be united to something he hasn’t the capacity to obtain?

  218. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    David, this is where we started with the quote from Calvin above. Those who are baptized are counted (nominally and externally) to be sons of God. I say baptism effects that without exception. Now the inward blessings exhibited and conferred through the sacraments to the elect alone and that through faith.
    Thus, there is an external union with Christ (though mere baptism) and an internal union with Christ (through faith and baptism). The former affords only temporary benefit, which is finally counted against the baptized. The latter, through faith, receives all Christ’s saving benefits (ordo) inwardly, while the former receives none.

  219. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    The “temporary blessings” of the NECM are only preceived blessings by them, they are fools to believe they are. They aren’t real blessings, for we know them to be the coals heaped upon the heads of the unrighteous in the day of judgment.

  220. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    “Those who are baptized are counted (nominally and externally) to be sons of God.”

    Counted by fallaible man, not by God.

  221. June 1, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    #217

    From what I am reading in http://auburnavenue.org/documents/wilkins_presbytery_response.htm
    Steve Wilkins Presbytery Examination Written Response-

    Wilkins quotes Leithart , “His attitude toward sinners changes through time. An elect man is an object of God’s wrath during the week before his conversion, and the object of God’s mercy during the time after.I submit that the same is true of the reprobate who receives the word of God with joy for a time: He is an object of favor while he responds in faith, and then becomes an object of disfavor. I take Saul as a concrete example of this reality.”

    So the reprobate is covenantally linked to God by *faith*. What is meant by faith here?

  222. June 1, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    [...] principle here is that only blessing that lead to eternal blessedness are real blessings.  But is this true?  [...]

  223. greenbaggins said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    As I recall, he doesn’t clarify what is meant by faith there. I have, by the way, issued a rather complete critique of Wilkins’s presbytery exam. It is found here:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/01/03/federal-vision-index/

  224. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    David, I don’t agree with either post (219 or 220). Is the weekly preaching of the gospel a REAL blessing to sit under? Is the fellowship of the saints a REAL blessing? The answers are yes. Now, the NECM will be held accountable in judgement for those REAL blessings.
    What does the author of Hebrews mean when he says that the apostate trample underfoot the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified.
    Remember, I’m not arguing that there’s NO difference between ECMs and NECMs. I’ve been very clear on that. You seem to want to say that there are no real similarities between them. I think that the Bible is very clear that they are all linked in the same covenant – some unto eternal blessing and the others unto eternal damnation.

  225. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    “the same is true of the reprobate who receives the word of God with joy for a time: He is an object of favor while he responds in faith, and then becomes an object of disfavor”

    ~ My contention here is that the reprobate cannot exercise faith pleasing to God. Temporary faith is a false faith that only leads to condemnation, not favor w/ God. There is never a “period of time” where faith is granted to the reprobate only to be stripped away at a later date. God isn’t a switch hitter.

  226. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    “Is the weekly preaching of the gospel a REAL blessing to sit under? Is the fellowship of the saints a REAL blessing? The answers are yes.”

    ~ Yes, when received by faith. The NECM has not the faith, therefore they lack the capacity to receive the blessing.

    ” You seem to want to say that there are no real similarities between them.”

    ~ There are perceived (external, superfical, pick your word) similarities, but being dressed like a sheep (to draw on that reference again) doesn’t make you Baa.

  227. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Calvin sums this up well,

    “And although this difference flows from the fountain of gratuitous election, whence also faith itself springs; yet, since the counsel of God is in itself hidden from us, we therefore distinguish the true from the spurious children, by the respective marks of faith and of unbelief”

    Faith flows from the same fountain as election. Therefore only the decretally elect obtain the ability (the faith neccesary) to receive the blessings of Christ. What other way dto we receive blessings from God, if not by faith? And if the recieving of Christ’s blessing be by faith alone and faith is a result of being God’s elect, who other then they can receive His blessing?

  228. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    David, the preaching of the gospel is an OBJECTIVE blessing. Subjectively, it is death unto death. You’ve taken the word “blessing” and pushed it to it’s ultimate definition and left no room for other uses. Can there not be a temporal blessing of God? Folks used to call this common grace. The sunshine, beer, and the sofa are blessings from God OBJECTIVELY. Wicked men will have those objective blessings turned into further condemnation by their lack of faith, indeed. If by ‘blessing’ you mean personal appropriation of the salvific blessings of the ordo, then I agree with you. Those blessings are for the elect alone, just like you Calvin quote says. I’ve been referring to the prior portion of that Calvin quote and I’ve been agreeing with Calvin. It doesn’t seem that you are (which is fine). Calvin’s “summary” you quoted in #227 is not a summary, but the second half of what he was saying.

  229. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    “Can there not be a temporal blessing of God? Folks used to call this common grace.”

    Okay. I agree NECM’s participate in common grace. And if your saying that is what they’re receiving then I agree w/ you. But like you said, they are ultimately reprobate, and as a result all common grace for the reprobate one day becomes special cursing.

    (And as an aside, all common cursing (illness, persecution, etc.) for the elect one day becomes special grace.)

  230. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    I want to add for clarity, common grace is not received by faith. Special grace and it’s attedent blessings are reserved for the elect’s sake alone and as always received by grace through faith.

  231. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Now we’re making some progress. Sure, we all share in common grace. That’s one way it’s, well, common.
    I was trying to get you to admit that grace isn’t always fully salvific. With that in mind, the reprobate will always be “charged” for the grace they receive and sprun the Giver of it. Are we in agreement thus far?

  232. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    “I was trying to get you to admit that grace isn’t always fully salvific”

    ~ I suppose I need to know whether you mean common or special grace?

    Common grace is never salvific. Special Grace always is.

  233. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    I was looking for a simple yes or no! hehe
    I’ll work with those stipulated definitions, even though I’m not much of a fan of them. The reason I’m not much of a fan is that they don’t easily allow the kind of distinctions we’re trying to talk about.
    Special grace = ordo
    Common grace = everything else God give humans
    Now, within the designation of common grace there are different graces, some greater some smaller. Rain is a greater blessing than a sofa or beer. (Scotch, however, is the greatest of all common graces!)
    Do we agree thus far? (The scotch thing was a joke.)

  234. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Sure, some receive a greater measure of God’s common grace than others. And some receive a greater measure of special grace (compare the 11th hour conversion to the fruitful lifelong Christian)

    Yet there remains a clear qualatative difference between the two. If you don’t like those defintions, I don’t think you’re simply disagreeing w/ me, but much of Reformed thought.

  235. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    FYI, David, there are MANY Reformed thinkers that don’t like the common/special designation. But…
    Reserving special grace for the elect (which I do), can we speak (using puritan terminology) of common operations of the Spirit of God upon the reprobate? I have in mind things like “spiritual awakening.” That will be a good specific to deal with. By spiritual awakening (SA), we don’t mean regeneration, we mean that a sinner is made sensible that he is indeed a sinner. Even more, he comes to know that the only answer/atonement for his vile sin is the God-man, Jesus Christ. SA’s an order of common grace, as it doesn’t necessarily lead to special ordo graces. The Great Awakening wasn’t a revival, but lead to one.
    Now, is SA gracious, in the common grace designation? Is it more gracious than a sofa? Please keep working with me here – I am being serious.

  236. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 1, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    “And some receive a greater measure of special grace (compare the 11th hour conversion to the fruitful lifelong Christian)”

    Which one has received more grace?

  237. Anne Ivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Don’t those Reformed who reject the common/special grace differentiation usually do so because they reject the idea of God giving any grace whatsoever to anyone other than the elect?

  238. Anne Ivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    BTW, congratulations on your new daughter, Tim. :-)

    What an lovely and unusual name! Is it a family name, or are y’all just creative?

  239. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    “Which one has received more grace?”

    ~ The lifelonger. The good and faithful servant seems to reap a greater reward, is my understanding.

    “David, there are MANY Reformed thinkers that don’t like the common/special designation”

    ~ I know, but many do ;-)

    “Now, is SA gracious, in the common grace designation?”

    ~ I have just recently written about “Preparationism” on my blog. I deny people can “stir up” religious conviction. Or in any way prepare a sinner to receive Christ. Yet, I do beleive conversion can be a drawn out process over time. In this light, I view any operations of the Spirit (spiritual awakening) that affect eventual saving faith as special grace. Now the use of common graces can be a means by which God brings about redemption in the life of a person. This doesn’t mean it stops being common, rather it is a means to an end that end being the special saving grace of God.

    So yes, some common operations of the Spirit are more gracious than others.

    a Sam Adams is more gracious than Budweiser :-)

  240. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    David, I’m assuming you’re in agreement, so I’ll move on (my computer time is short).
    While, beer, sofas, and spiritual awakening are common graces, they’re not specific to covenant membership. An outright pagan is able to enjoy these gifts and a covenant member is, too – if God gives the graces. (God’s still sovereign in the administration of common graces, too.)
    I want further to argue that there are common graces that a specific to covenant members. Baptism and the Supper are two of them. They are objective graces, like sofas and beers, but they are ONLY (by definition) for covenant members. They’re common grace to the reprobate and means of special grace to the elect, but only the visible Sons of God (to use Calvin’s language) have access to them.
    We have there a clear distinction in graces between members of the covenant (irrespctive of their elected/converted status) and those outside the covenant. That means that NECMs have available special graces (of the common variety) available only to covenant members. This should be enough to establish that third distinction. 1) Pagan, 2) ECM and now 3) NECM.

  241. anneivy said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    “They’re common grace to the reprobate and means of special grace to the elect, but only the visible Sons of God (to use Calvin’s language) have access to them.”

    I actually do try to be reasonable, so I’ll say this seems reasonable. Common grace to the reprobate and means of special grace to the elect, eh?

    I like it.

  242. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Tim, if your saying that NECM’s have access to the common graces of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper which other reprobates don’t, I agree. That’d be like saying a friend of mine lives in a place where Sam Adams is available and I don’t. He’s in a much better place than me! Thank God that isn’t the case.

  243. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Anuhea is a Hawaiian name. It means “sweet fragrance.” My wife’s Hawaiian, but she’s also creative.

    David, SA can be non-savific, right? If so, it’s not a special grace, nor is it a means to (or preparation for) special grace. All I was trying to establish (in #235) is that there are common graces that are distinctively spiritual by nature.

  244. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    I would add, as I think you agree, that no special grace is conferred upon the NECM at any point (namely becaused it must be received by faith, which he doesn’t posess) through the “means of grace” in the Church. You agree?

  245. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    But the Sam Adams, in your analogy, is analogous to graces distinctive to the visible Sons of God. Them Sam Adams brews are covenant graces and only covenant graces.

  246. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    I’d agree the Spirit can and does work in common ways upon the spiritual man. Your use of “awakening” doesn’t not connote rebirth then right?

  247. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    David, correct, in Puritan paralance, awakening is a common operation of the Spirit that may or may not lead to regernation and faith.

    What I’ve tried to show what the the graces of God are quite broad and variated. Some common graces are more spiritual in nature (SA), while the NECMs do enjoy temoral blessings that are REAL blessings that are only availble to covenant members. As I’ve said before, NECMs (like outright pagans) will be held accountible for those graces in judgement. One thing that a pagan WON’T be held accountible for is tramping the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified (objective grace of a common, but covenantal variety) under foot.

  248. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Tim, I’ve always agreed that NECM’s are rejecting more light (more grace) than the rank pagan. Hence my example earlier of the church going reprobate and the South American native.

    One has rejected more common grace than the other…to whom much is given…

  249. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    You bet. I’m interested in establishing the REAL and gracious coventant status of NECM. Are we in agreement on that?

  250. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Explain to me how being in a position where you are held to a higher standard of judgement and condemnation from God because you are a NECM is gracious?

  251. David McCrory said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    I would concede, if it helps, that it is a commonly gracious status.

  252. tim prussic said,

    June 1, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    It’s gracious in an objective sense but in a subjective sense, it more and more condemnation. It is NOT an enviable position.
    David, have a wonderful weekend and a SPECTACULAR Lord’s Day. Everyone else, too.
    -Tim

  253. NHarper said,

    June 1, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. Romans 10: 9-10

    What difference does it make how we define an NECM? The poor soul is not saved and will spend eternity in hell. Mouth and heart are inseparable to salvation. It seems to me that the FV is content to let the NECM rest on his covenant laurels with mouthing liturgical chants and taking the Lord’s Supper without any examination of his heart.

    I think it is interesting and sadly ironic that an FV session will count the words of a toddler in the poll parrot stage as a credible profession of faith, while at the same time question the credibility of an adult who understands the importance of examining his heart before making his profession of faith.

    I believe – and many will disagree – that the FV is made up of a bunch of unregenerate sinners who want to get to heaven on their own terms. They want to get to heaven by merely saying “Lord, Lord” every Sunday. And, they want to take their sinful pride along with them. Taking up a cross, making oneself of no reputation (Srewart and William), becoming a servant, acknowledging their sinfulness and their need to be born again by the Spirit -these are all matters of the heart that are totally foreign to them..

    But, you know, none of us are beyond God’s power to save. He saved a wretch like me; we need not despair, He can do the same for them. Praise God!

  254. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 1, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    You seem to think you know a lot about Stewart’s and William’s hearts, Neil.

  255. NHarper said,

    June 1, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Only their words

  256. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 1, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    But here’s what you said: “Taking up a cross, making oneself of no reputation (Srewart and William), becoming a servant, acknowledging their sinfulness and their need to be born again by the Spirit -these are all matters of the heart that are totally foreign to them..”

  257. David McCrory said,

    June 2, 2007 at 8:28 am

    “It’s gracious in an objective sense but in a subjective sense, it more and more condemnation.”

    Right Tim. And to the NECM it remains an objective, unacheivable grace. It is only grace in the common sense of the word. For the NECM the Lord’s Supper is eating and drinking condemnation, is it not? This is not grace, in any fulfilling or viable sense of the word.

    In short, NECM’s are lying each week. They don’t not posess what they profess. They acknowldge Christ with their lips, but in reality their hearts are far from him. They have a form of religious affection, but it is of their own devising. They are not motivated out of a heart of faith driven by a love for God to serve Him and obedient followers. Tim their’s is a false faith. And in one very real sense, they are to pitied far above the heathen. They are among the saddest on earth for they sit under the grace of God, blind to it’s transforming power.

    What may be even more sad, is every pastor knows this. Yet they refuse to preach as a dying man to dying men. Let’s be honest, rather than this, we flatter ourselves; thinking much more of ourselves than we ought. We are Semi-Pelagian at heart and conversion doesn’t immediately (if ever) change this disposition. We cheapen the grace of God, “looking to our baptism” (a response to God’s grace) rather than the source of it in Jesus Christ.

    No Tim, the covenant status of those who no not the redeeming love of Christ is not gracious, it’s terrible.

  258. Andy Gilman said,

    June 2, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Back in #214 Mrs. Nagle asked a question:

    [BOQ]
    Andy, in reading where Wilkins quotes Leithart I really struggle with the phrase “nature is determined by ends”. Does this mean made actual or certain (as in at one time it wasn’t certain) or simply made manifest (as in we can’t tell until the end)?
    [EOQ]

    I have the same struggle. This is the FV’s attempt to define a qualitative difference between those who are ordained to persevere and those who are ordained to apostatize, as they co-exist in the church today. I don’t accept the ECM vs. NECM distinction as an appropriate one in this debate. I think it gives the FV too much wiggle room, as they don’t believe what our secondary standards teach, that “non-elect covenant members” actually exist in the church at present. They are unable to distinguish between ECM’s and NECM’s except with regard to perseverence, whereas, for example, the LC is very clear that only the ECM’s enjoy “union and communion” with Christ, and all the blessing of being “in Christ.”

    In LC 69 it says: “The communion in grace which the [ECM's] have with Christ, is their partaking of the virtue of his mediation, in their justification, adoption, sanctification, and whatever else, in this life, manifests their union with him.” But the FV wants to say the NECM’s enjoy these same blessings. In LC 30, it is the elect who are brought into an “estate of salvation.” But the FV wants to say that the NECM’s are also saved, for a period of time, but they fail to persevere in that estate of salvation. In LC 32, God “promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.” These are blessing enjoyed by the elect only. In LC 66 it is the elect alone who are spiritually and mystically joined to Christ. The list could go on. The LC is absolutely clear about the differences between the ECM’s and the NECM’s. The FV distinguishes between them in just one way: perseverence.

    This is why I think the FV advocates are cheating when they say they accept a distinction between ECM’s and NECM’s. For them, the only defineable difference is between those ordained to persevere and those ordained to apostatize. Both groups are elect, but God has ordained that some of those who are in union with him, and whom he justifies, sanctifies, adopts and saves, whom he loves and gives all the blessings of Christ, will fail to persevere. As the FV struggles to try to maintain an appearance that they still make a qualitative distinction between ECM’s and NECM’s, a distinction which is not merely “duration of election” (i.e., perseverence), they offer us “teleological ontology.”

    Those who are ordained to persevere are “essentially” different than those who are ordained to apostatize, as they exist in the church today, because what a thing IS NOW, is determined by what a thing WILL BE. What this esoteric argument really means is unclear to me. Leithart’s marriage example makes no sense. Does he mean that a marriage which ultimately ends in divorce was never a “happy marriage?” Is a stick of wood which gets burned up in a fire “essentially” different than a stick of wood which gets carved into a walking cane? I entertain the possibility that I’m overlooking some philosophical nuance in Leithart’s argument, but I’m more inclined to believe it is merely sophistry. At any rate, it doesn’t rise to the level of the “qualitative” difference which the LC defines between ECM’s and NECM’s.

  259. June 3, 2007 at 8:04 am

    Mr. Gilman, thank you very much for your reply. This is very helpful in my studies.

  260. anneivy said,

    June 3, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    It still seems to me their “teleological ontology” explanation falls flat because according to Scripture it’s our relationship to Christ that makes us a new person:

    “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17; also Col. 3:9-11, Eph. 4:20-24)

    *Because* one is THIS type of person *because* of being in Christ, one is destined for glory.

    And what Mrs. Nagle, said….very helpful reply, Andy. ;^)

  261. tim prussic said,

    June 4, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I agree with Anne Ivy’s analysis – it seems that teleological ontology has the tail wagging the dog. That said, I’ve not read Leithart’s work on it and have my doubts that he’d produce something so clearly backwards.

    I think that Andy’s analysis of the FV (at least in my reading) fall a bit short. Andy says, “The FV distinguishes between them [ECMs and NECMs] in just one way: perseverence.” And again, “the only defineable difference is between those ordained to persevere and those ordained to apostatize. Both groups are elect, but God has ordained that some of those who are in union with him, and whom he justifies, sanctifies, adopts and saves, whom he loves and gives all the blessings of Christ, will fail to persevere.”

    It’s quite possible that Andy’s read more and knows more than me about the FV, but he seems to be missing the point. Maybe it’s that most of my FV reading lately has been Wilson, too. Maybe some other guys are going father. It really should be enough to point to Wilson’s chaper in RINE on Evangelical Bona Fides. The FV posits the visible, covenantal on one hand and the invisible, eternal, decretal on the other. The former is in history, while the latter is worked out in history by and by, and that though the historical covenantal workings.

    I don’t think that FV folks think that ECM and NECM are, one to one, in exactly the same position vis-a-vis election, justification, et al. I do think that they affirm that baptized folk are united to Christ in covenant and that can be to their ultimate blessing or further condemnation.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. It seems, however, quite simplistic to say that the FV find the ONLY difference ‘twixt ECM and NECM to be in perseverance. But, once again, it’s real easy to fire people up when it’s put into those very simple terms and categories.

  262. Andy Gilman said,

    June 4, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    In #261 Tim Prussic says:

    “I don’t think that FV folks think that ECM and NECM are, one to one, in exactly the same position vis-a-vis election, justification, et al.”

    Tim, have you read Wilkins’ contribution to the Knox Colloquium and his answers to his Presbytery? I would be interested in how you interpret Wilkins’ views on this question. If the FV is going to say that all the ceremonially baptized are in union with Christ, are given all the blessing of being united to Christ, and have all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places, then they had better differentiate how they are using these terms from how, for example, the Larger Catechism uses these terms. If they are going to say that all the ceremonially bapized are justified, sanctified and adopted, then they have the responsibility to explain why we shouldn’t see their words as a contradiction of our Standards.

    When they are asked for an explanation, they say something like “well, we don’t mean ‘union with Christ,’ ‘justification,’ ‘adoption,’ ‘all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places,’ in the same ‘sense’ as the Standards are using these terms.” But when asked to explain the “sense” in which they are using these terms, and how their “sense” differs from the Standard’s “sense,” they are unable to come up with any difference but “perseverence.” They want the freedom to use so-called “biblical language” in a way which gives us every reason to believe they are contradicting the Standards, while they defend their apparent heterodoxy by saying, “just trust us, we aren’t ‘really’ contradicting the Standards.”

    Now if Doug Wilson differs with Steve Wilkins’ views, as expressed in the Knox Colloquium paper, then don’t you think it’s high time he said so explicitly? I would be happy to be shown that I’m unnecessarily “firing people up” by using overly simplistic “terms and categories,” but so far all you have provided is an assertion.

  263. tim prussic said,

    June 4, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Andy, if you are humble enough to be shown, I will try, with humility to show. As to Wilkins, however, I must confess ignorance, as I’ve not done my homework on him. I’ll work on that.
    As to simplistic terms and categories, the FV is (as I’ve asserted before) not a monolithic movement, not anymore than Westerminster West, Greenville, or the NW Presbytery of the Bible Presbyterian Church (that’s my presbytery – I’m licensed, but not ordained). Thus, to say, “The FV distinguishes between them [ECMs and NECMs] in just one way: perseverence” is indeed simplistic and does tend to have the effect of a war whoop on Reformed folk.
    I can substantiate that your assertion about perseverence is not true thusly:

    “I have taught (in very clear and divers ways) that the grace given to the decretally elect at the point of the effectual call is grace that is qualitatively different than the common operations of the Spirit enjoyed (for a season) by the unregenerate covenant member. I have heaped this point up in a rumpled pile and have danced around it, gesticulating with enthusiasm. I have made a big building out of this point, and put a blinking neon sign on top of it. If this point were an overpass, I have spray-painted my agreement with it in bright green letters at least eighteen inches high. With my white chef’s hat on, I have wheeled this point out of the kitchen on a cart, poured brandy all over it, and set it on fire. If the point were a pudding, I would have added three eggs beyond what the recipe called for. To summarize briefly, this is not something I have somehow neglected to say.” My source: http://www.federal-vision.com/pdf/wilson_waters.pdf

    Wilson goes on to chastise Waters for doing the same sort of thing that I’m after you about.

  264. anneivy said,

    June 4, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Wilson’s always entertaining to read, no doubt about it, but is merely saying the grace given to the decretally elect is qualitatively different from the common operations of the Spirit actually *explaining* anything?

    Traditional Reformed soteriology has always said those are different, after all.

    I’m not intending to be argumentative, truly I’m not, but ISTM that just stating the obvious – that there’s a type of grace given to the (decretally) elect that is not given to anyone else – doesn’t provide much light when applied to the FV.

  265. tim prussic said,

    June 4, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    Anne Ivy, I believe you. The funny thing here is that folks like Andy continue to say that, between ECM and NECM, all graces are the same except the NECM don’t persevere. Wilson IS just stating the obvious, but he has to over and over and over again.
    Also, in the passage quoted above, he wasn’t trying to explain the difference. He has done that on his blog (and I suppose other places, too).

  266. Andy Gilman said,

    June 4, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Tim, I don’t think you are following my argument. To simply SAY you believe that the grace given is qualitatively different, in some undefined “sense,” is not a sufficient answer. The FV is saying things which, for arguments sake, APPEAR to contradict the Standards. The burden is on them to explain how the appearance of contradiction is not a real contradiction.

    In what “sense,” other than with regard to perseverance, is the grace given to those who finally apostatize, different from the grace given to those who finally persevere? How are these two categories of baptized members of the visible church, qualitatively different from one another, as they exist in the church today. This is the question I keep asking, and which our standards are very clear about. But the only answer I hear from the FV is some mumbo jumbo about “teleological ontology.”

  267. Anne Ivy said,

    June 4, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Trouble is, reading and listening to the FV (okay, some of them!), the type of grace undergirding the “common operations of the Spirit” bears little resemblence to common grace as its been traditionally understood. THAT “common grace” never justified, sanctified, or adopted anybody, in *any* sense.

    Suddenly (comparatively speaking) there is a claim that some people are presumably justified in a spiritual manner who were never before held to have been justified in any but the most shallow, temporal way, and come to that, care was usually taken to NOT employ the term “justified” for such people. Ditto for sanctified and adopted.

    This is a sea change, frankly. It’s huge. And speaking solely for myself, I wouldn’t have such negative feelings about the whole thing if it were acknowledged this IS a huge difference, but instead it’s waved off as a minor distinction, not worth making a big deal about.

    I may not be much when it comes to theological subtleties, but I can recognize a major theological shift with the best of ‘em.

  268. tim prussic said,

    June 4, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    The funny thing is that, whether other senses are explained or not, they ARE affirmed. But that affirmation, evidently, gives some folks “every reason to believe they are contradicting the Standards, while they defend their apparent heterodoxy.” I guess affirmation (at least in this specific case) without explanation is tantamount to denial. Is that your arugment, Andy? A lack of clear explanation of A is denial of A – this is some funny business.
    Now, I (litte old me) have tried to explain myself above in what SENSE one could speak of NECMs sharing in election, regeneration, justification, etc. I didn’t get much feed back on that. I am absolutely certain that I’ve heard John Barach (sp?) and Wilson say the same things. The quote from Calvin above is a very good beginning toward what I’ve asserted in this string. The problem is all that seems to be overlooked and the man’s entire orthodoxy gets called into question. This seems a very sub-Christian way to carry on a discussion.
    That said, I do agree that if a man wants to change the definition of a common word, he should be careful to define is over and over. Now, I’ve found Wilson bending over backwards on his blog and else where to dispel inaccurate summarizations of what the “FV” teach. Seems to fall on deaf ears, which, to me, is quite sad.

  269. Andy Gilman said,

    June 4, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    Tim, let’s suppose a bunch of reformed pastor’s and teachers begin to argue that “justification is by baptism plus obedience.” Then these well known and widely respected men publish this thesis far and wide, holding pastor’s conferences and promoting it tirelessly all over the internet. Before long a number of other well respected, reformed men begin to challenge their orthodoxy, because they know full well that our Standards claim that the Bible teaches that justification is by grace through faith. When the group’s views are challenged they say “well, I don’t mean ‘justification’ in the ‘same sense’ as the Westminster Standards use that word.” Is that all that anyone needs to know? Should the challengers say “Oh, that’s good enough for us?” Or should they press them and force them to be clear in what “sense” they mean “justification,” compared with how the Standards use the word?

    In the case of the FV, the WORDS they use clearly contradict what the Standards assert is the Bible’s teaching. For example, the FV says that all who are baptized are in “union and communion with Christ,” but the LC clearly states that only those ordained to eternal life are in “union and communion with Christ.” When the FV claims, by mere assertion, that they are not contradicting the LC, and that they don’t mean “union and communion” in the same sense that the LC uses that phrase, this is not proof that they are not *really* contradicting the LC. If they *are not* using the phrase “union and communion” in the same sense, then they ought to be able to describe the “sense” in which they *are* using it, and to describe how their usage compares with the LC’s usage.

  270. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 4, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    “the FV says that all who are baptized are in “union and communion with Christ,””

    Tim, where has an FV writer used this exact wording?

  271. Tim Wilder said,

    June 5, 2007 at 8:37 am

    Re: 267
    “nne Ivy said,

    June 4, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    “Trouble is, reading and listening to the FV (okay, some of them!), the type of grace undergirding the “common operations of the Spirit” bears little resemblence to common grace as its been traditionally understood. THAT “common grace” never justified, sanctified, or adopted anybody, in *any* sense.””

    We used to hear from some FV people, e.g. James Jordan, that they followed Schilder in his rejection of common grace.

    Now we hear FV people invoking common grace. This seems to be a growing gap between those who need to seek to accommodate their beliefs to the form of language used in church confessions, and those able to pursue a more pure form of the FV.

  272. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 5, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Whoops, I’m calling Andy “Tim” again.

    Andy wrote: “the FV says that all who are baptized are in “union and communion with Christ,””

    Andy, where has an FV writer used this exact wording?

  273. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 9:07 am

    This is what Steve Wilkins says in lines 303 to 312 of his Knox Colloquium paper:

    [BOQ]
    In fact, covenant is a real relationship, consisting of real communion with the triune God through union with Christ. The covenant is not some thing that exists apart from Christ or in addition to Him (another means of grace)–rather, the covenant is union with Christ. Thus, being in covenant gives all the blessings of being united to Christ. There is no salvation apart from covenant simply because there is no salvation apart from union with Christ. And without union with Christ there is no covenant at all.

    Because being in covenant with God means being in Christ, those who are in covenant have all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. Union with Christ means that all that is true of Christ is true of us. This seems clear by how the apostles address the churches.
    [EOQ]

  274. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 5, 2007 at 9:22 am

    OK. I don’t agree with Wilkins there at all, but you could probably be more careful to quote more accurately.

  275. anneivy said,

    June 5, 2007 at 9:42 am

    It’s not necessary to provide a verbatim quote very single solitary time one says something, for pity’s sake. That’s not how conversations are held, and this is supposed to be a *conversation*.

    Andy’s paraphrase was apt and he was able to provide the citation that supports it. He WAS careful.

  276. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 9:45 am

    Quoting who Todd? I was working from memory and paraphrasing the FV position, not quoting anyone in particular. I said “the FV” says that all who are baptized are in “union and communion with Christ.” You then asked for that “exact wording,” and I provided you a quote from Wilkins which does not contain the “exact wording,” but clearly conveys the same idea. Did I misrepresent what Wilkins said? Are you being a bit petty Todd?

    If FV advocates do not agree with Wilkins, then they need to make that clear. If Wilkins is not to be identified with the FV, then the other FV advocates need to differentiate between their views and Wilkins views.

  277. tim prussic said,

    June 5, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Andy, I would shy away from Wilkin’s language. I have written above about what I mean by all covenant members sharing in the covenantal blessings of God (#145). I am sympathetic with Wilkins’s desire to understand and emulate the NT of addressing churches as “elect,” “Sons of God,” and others such handles, which, I dare say, the Westminster standards might just reserve for the eternally elect. If that’s so, then the WS have become the lens, the only lens, and the fullness of the lens through which we read Scripture. Now, we absolutely need a systematic basis from which to do exegesis, but must the Bible conform to WS seventeenth-century theological semantics? May it NEVER be. Should our minds have the framework of the Reformed confession in them when reading the Scripture? May it ALWAYS be. Here it is: If, in your reading of the FV men, you have not found that they’ve been able to define the “sense” in which they’re used terms differently then the WS, they you should approach them ON THAT LEVEL. However, what I hear from you is, ‘They want the freedom to use so-called “biblical language” in a way which gives us every reason to believe they are contradicting the Standards, while they defend their apparent heterodoxy by saying, “just trust us, we aren’t ‘really’ contradicting the Standards.”’ This seems unchartiable and unnecessarily inflamatory. Basically, you’re calling the FV men liars, plain and simple. You evidently have “every reason to believe” that they’re lying about believing the Standards and covering it up poorly by talking about biblical usage. Gee, why has this controversy erupted with the ferocity it did? It was not becuase of some analysis of covenatal thinking at a pastors’ conference in the sticks.

  278. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Of course a paraphrase is okay. But don’t put a praphrase in quotation marks! Here’s what Andy wrote:

    >>For example, the FV says that all who are baptized are in “union and communion with Christ,” but the LC clearly states that only those ordained to eternal life are in “union and communion with Christ.”>If they *are not* using the phrase “union and communion” in the same sense, then they ought to be able to describe the “sense” in which they *are* using it, and to describe how their usage compares with the LC’s usage.”

  279. anneivy said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:09 am

    The impression I’ve received over the years is that Wilkins is regarded as “mainstream FV”, so to speak, not being as theologically out-there as Lusk and Schlissel (sp?), but maybe a little more, um, nuanced than Wilson.

    I’m completely open to correction on this, however.

    But I’d think separating oneself from Wilkins and AAPC would be tantamount to separating oneself from the FV pretty much entirely. Who would be classified as a more “traditional” FV theologian?

  280. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:12 am

    So you are being petty Todd! Yes, when you don’t have anything substantive, it’s a good tactic to quibble. If someone by the name of “the FV” can be found, you will have a good point. Otherwise you are engaging in sophistry.

  281. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Hey, that didn’t come out the way I thought I typed it.

    Andy wrote: “For example, the FV says that all who are baptized are in “union and communion with Christ,” but the LC clearly states that only those ordained to eternal life are in “union and communion with Christ.””

    The quotation marks made me think that Andy was quoting.

    Also: “If they *are not* using the phrase “union and communion” in the same sense, then they ought to be able to describe the “sense” in which they *are* using it, and to describe how their usage compares with the LC’s usage.””

    They’re not using that phrase. At least Wilkins isn’t. And that’s the only thing I was asking about in 270, 272.

  282. anneivy said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Oh. I suppose since I’m given to using quotation marks simply to emphasize and set apart a phrase, I didn’t automatically conclude Andy had intended it to be a literal quotation.

    If one assumes that, however – and I’ll grant it’s not an unreasonable assumption – I suppose the misunderstanding is, er, understandable.

    Actually, sometimes what I’ll do is use a ‘ instead of a “, to help differentiate between quoting and emphasizing/setting apart.

  283. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:15 am

    I don’t believe it’s a petty point. Andy wrote in a way that created an explicit contradiction between Wlkins and the LC. There may well be real contradiction there, but Andy hasn’t shown it. He can’t make that kind of shortcut.

  284. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:21 am

    In #277 Tim Prussic said:

    [BOQ]
    If, in your reading of the FV men, you have not found that they’ve been able to define the “sense” in which they’re used terms differently then the WS, they you should approach them ON THAT LEVEL.
    [EOQ]

    They have been approached “on that level” repeatedly. (I wonder if Todd will chide me for not putting my quote in all caps?) They can’t provide an answer Tim, just as you can’t provide an answer for how the FV “sense” differs from the Standard’s “sense.” Wilkins was asked this question in his Presbytery exam, and he could only give us “perseverence” and “teleological ontology.”

  285. Todd R. Harris said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:23 am

    “(I wonder if Todd will chide me for not putting my quote in all caps?)”

    LOL. Who’s being petty now?

  286. tim prussic said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Todd’s got a point, anyway. This whole discussion is about words, right? If the words “union and communion with Christ” are technically important, and since at least part of Andy’s argument is that the WORDS are being used differently than the traditional usage,then we should take care to quote carefully. No harm done… let’s move on.

  287. tim prussic said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Andy, I’ve noticed that you keep avoiding my issue with they way you’re addressing these brother: You’re calling them liars, are you not? You’re using language that is inappropriate. I’m trying to call YOU on the carpet for what YOU have written.

    Now as to “the FV,” and their lack of satisfactory explanation you say, ‘Tim, just as you can’t provide an answer for how the FV “sense” differs….” Well, I am not FV, but I have posted a short answer that I’m absolutely sure I’ve heard propounded by Barach and Wilson, are they in the FV crowd?
    Andy, would you please respond to the content of the post in #145? Maybe that will get us out of the little box that we keep finding ourselves. Let’s start working with my explanation.

  288. tim prussic said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Also, as to “on that level,” I have some doubts. My recollection of the initial response is “may God have mercy on their souls.” That sets a certain tone, wouldn’t ya say?
    Now, there has been discussion, Andy, and that is great. Let’s have more and more of it. But there have also been Robbinsesque calls to kindle fire with green wood. Let’s stop that.

  289. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Yes Todd, you have succeeded in dragging us off into semantics land, where sophistry grows as tall as Redwoods.

    In that country, to generically quote “the FV” as saying “union and communion with Christ” is not substantianted by quoting Wilkins as saying “communion with the triune God through union with Christ.”

  290. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:47 am

    In #287 Tim Prussic says:

    “Andy, I’ve noticed that you keep avoiding my issue…”

    I’m not sure that I’ve “avoided” your change of subject multiple times, or if I’ve decided on just one occasion to not answer it, in order to keep you on the subject which I’ve been trying to get you to answer: How does the FV distinguish between those ordained to persevere and those ordained to apostatize, as they co-exist in the church today?

  291. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Tim said: “Let’s start working with my explanation.”

    You are neither self-identifying as FV, nor are you a well known contributor to the FV paradigm, therefore I don’t want to start working with your explanation.

    You say: “…but I have posted a short answer that I’m absolutely sure I’ve heard propounded by Barach and Wilson.” Find me the quotes, and then we will have a starting place. But if Wilson and Barach disagree with Wilkins, it is high time they made that clear.

  292. Tim Wilder said,

    June 5, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Re: 288

    “Also, as to “on that level,” I have some doubts. My recollection of the initial response is “may God have mercy on their souls.” That sets a certain tone, wouldn’t ya say?”

    Are you the Tim Prussic in the Bible Presbyterian church? Does the Bible Presbyterian church allow the teaching of the FV in its churches?

  293. tim prussic said,

    June 5, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Andy, I’m frankly disappointed. You won’t be called on the carpet because it’s a change of topic. And you won’t work with me in my thoughts… I guess I’m done here.

  294. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 11:14 am

    That’s right Tim, I’m not here to discuss the FV’s favorite question: “why are you slandering me?”

  295. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 11:19 am

    My post got truncated, but I had also noted for Todd’s sake that the quote “why are you slandering me?” was actually a paraphrase, and I said I would also be interested in those quotes from Wilson and Barach wherein you are absolutely certain they propound a substantive difference between those ordained to persevere and those ordained to apostatize, as they co-exist in the visible church today.

  296. tim prussic said,

    June 5, 2007 at 11:39 am

    I’ll make public accusations in highly simplistic and inflamatory terms and you tell me where I’m wrong. hmm… Andy, were HERE to discuss whatever we want and it’s really too bad that you won’t engage. I’m doing my homework and trying to read up, but you won’t even meet me where I’m at…and so it goes, sang Billy Joel.

    Tim W., the BPC has various things going on with respect to the FV. Our last Synod saw a non-binding position paper passed that denounced the FV, NPP and the tea kettle that deny or oppose sola fide justification. The NW Presbytery (which I know best), is very open to discussion, but is also quite suspicious of the FV. My own session seems to like Wilson, and dislike Lusk in particular, which is kind of where I stand. That said, I have an essay by Lusk that I need to read entitled “Why Rome won’t Have Me,” or something to that effect.

  297. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    I seem to be having more WordPress problems, I hope you don’t get this multiple times.

    With regard to “union and communion:”

    John Barach here:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/co-urc/message/14774

    [BOQ]
    I do indeed stress that the covenant is a relationship between God and the covenant member, a bond of union and communion and love, but saying that does not involve downplaying the legal and forensic dimension of the covenant.
    [EOQ]

  298. Andy Gilman said,

    June 5, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    And

    Mark Horne here:

    http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/sacramental_assurance_westminster.htm

    [BOQ]
    Thus, a Christian philosophy of child-raising, and a Christian pastoral theology in general, should be based on our objective standing in Christ’s Kingdom, conferred on us and our children through baptism. According to Deuteronomy 6.20-25, when our children ask us about why we do certain things or don’t do certain things we should tell them about what Jesus has done for us: How He died for us and rose again and sent His Spirit to give His Church union and communion with Himself. How He providentially arranged for us to be made members of His Church through baptism and how He weekly renews His covenant with us. How we must respond to His great love and wonderful promises by believing them with a trusting heart, and by responding in grateful obedience all our lives.
    [EOQ]


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