A Conversion Experience

Shawn Roberson has given me permission to post his experience with the Federal Vision. It is a wonderful testimony about the power of Scripture. I find it extremely interesting that Shawn was not converted by systematic argumentation so much as exegesis, a study of the Bible. I will be closely monitoring the discussion on this post. Any personal attack on Shawn will not be tolerated.

When He Came to Himself
Shawn T. Roberson

After being introduced to the doctrines of grace and the treasures of reformed theology in 1981, I immediately began to read and study everything reformed that I could get my hands on. I soon began concentrating on a serious study of the covenant as it is presented in Scripture. Since that time, I have been fascinated with the covenantal relationship which was established between God and His people, as He promised, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.”

As I studied, certain questions began to present themselves. What does it mean to be in union with Christ? How does one become a covenant member? Just what does baptism do? How do we account for unbelievers in the church? These questions were answered, to some degree, by the first Federal Vision Conference in 2002. While never being an extremely vocal proponent of the Federal Vision theology, I soon found myself advocating many of its teachings in my writing. I had papers and correspondence published on line which spoke of there being no need for a covenant of works (life) in the Garden of Eden, presented the law as being obeyable, and questioned the doctrine of justification by faith alone. I also had one prominent anti-FV man tell me that I was a false teacher who needed to repent.

So, how did I move from that to being one of the men who contributed to the recent Humble Answers letter and paper regarding objections to the PCA Ad Interim Study Committee Report? What caused the change?

It’s really very simple. Over the last two years, I have taught Galatians, Ephesians, and Romans in the Sunday School class and Bible study which I teach each week. As I have prepared for my weekly lessons, I have been convinced from Scripture itself that there really is none righteous (Romans 3:10-18). Indeed, all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Adam’s breaking of the covenant of works (life) in the Garden plunged man into an estate of sin, misery, and death. He lost eternal life for all men, but Christ, through His active and perfect obedience to the law of God purchased eternal life for all whom the Father gave to Him (Romans 5:12-21). We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8) apart from works of the law (Romans 3:28). Our own righteous acts are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), yet there is a righteousness from God imputed to us (Philippians 3:9); and, Christ’s death makes us the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our good works flow out of our justification (Ephesians 2:10), but they do not ultimately justify us before God. They are simply what is expected of us (Luke 17:10). And, no one can snatch us from the hand of the Father (John 10:29). Therefore, our perseverance in the Lord is assured. Those whom He has called and justified, He will keep.

And, that’s my story – short and sweet. I am convinced from Scripture that the original reformed doctrines, as taught by our fathers in the faith, are true. They are a comfort to us, for they continually remind us of the Creator/creature relationship. God is God, and we are not. He has saved us by His grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, and to His glory alone; and, this is the heart of the gospel. We did nothing to earn His favor, and we do nothing to keep it. It is a gift. Expensive for Jesus Christ, for it required His death; but, free for us.

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196 Comments

  1. tim prussic said,

    June 25, 2007 at 11:51 am

    I hope this isn’t construed as a personal attack on Shawn, cuz it’s not intended to be such. In fact, anyone coming to a fuller knowledge of sin and grace is wonderful, so I rejoice in that.
    If Shawn’s version of FV theology included “there being no need for a covenant of works (life) in the Garden of Eden, presented the law as being obeyable, and questioned the doctrine of justification by faith alone,” he needed renovation. I think that various notions of the covenant of works and of the utility of the law need to be rethought. If he’s questioning the doctrine of sola fide justification, he was off the deep end and needed to come back.
    Basically, however, this seems to me like more straw-man FVism. The kind that can’t distinguish between eschatological pronouncement and forensic justification; between a covenantal relationship in the garden and some sort of strict merit; between the total depravity of humanity (and individual humans) and the possibility of a regenerate person, by God’s grace, actually beginning to keep the law.
    I guess Shawn’s “conversion” was quite necessary, but is not too convincing (that is, convicting) to me.

  2. Xon said,

    June 25, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Yes, I agree with Tim. Praise God that Shawn came back to the Bible, even if his conclusions and mine based on its precepts are not quite the same. But as to his representation of the “FV” views he left behind, I don’t recognize much FV in them. Any more than Franky Schaeffer’s converstion to Eastern Orthodoxy convinced me that Calvinism is the theological monstrostiy that Schaeffer says it is. For some reason or reasons (I’d rather not speculate), the junior Schaeffer ended up with some pretty serious misunderstandings of what Reformed theology is really all about, and he then rejected the caricature he had mistaken for the real thing. I’d say the same thing about Shawn’s conversion relayed above. Though, unlike with Schaeffer, I rejoice at where Shawn ended up!

  3. markhorne said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    The last conversion story related here accused the FV of iconotatry. This one isn’t much better. To be converted from FV you need to have some idea what you are talking about.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Mark, see the HB’s reaction.

  5. Xon said,

    June 25, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Saw it, Lane. Now what? You don’t really think that’s a brilliant rejoinder, do you? :-(

  6. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Amen to Mr. Roberson.

    I like to say that I’m not only a Calvinist, but I actually know why I’m a Calvinist, and it’s because classical Reformed theologians say what the Word of God says, uncompromised to the demands of man. And that biblical teaching is to get us to reorientate from being man-centered to being God-centered. To acting from God’s will rather than self-will. To discover true liberty rather than taking the bondage and darkness of the Kingdom of Satan as representing ‘freedom.’

    Sound doctrine and godliness. The godliness part has the sound doctrine as foundation, but communion with Christ – unio mystica – is then a new realm.

  7. markhorne said,

    June 25, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    I had already seen it. Classic. Lie then accuse your victim of accusing you of lying. That’s been Scott’s only M.O.

    I have no idea what is going on in Roberson’s mind. If he rejected sola fide I’m glad he recovered his sanity. But he is not making any sense.

    Neither did Wes White’s encounter with anglo-catholicism.

  8. Vern Crisler said,

    June 25, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Opponents of FV need to be careful that they don’t overdo it, e.g. conversion stories! No responsible FV apologists would deny any of the above points mentioned by Shawn, except those addicted to Shepherdism.

    What FV is really saying is that yes, you’ve got all that, but it’s all in God’s decree. Since we cannot know God’s decree, it is not our concern. Our concern is with the here and now, with the external covenant (cf., like the Israelites). Thus, FV covenantal externalism is based on the implications resulting from an epistemological limitation.

    Allowing epistemology to override everything seems a high price to pay. If FV is true, I don’t see why Roman Catholics can’t use the same arguments against FV advocates. After all, Protestants rebelled against the discipline of the Roman sect….

    Vern

  9. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Vern, are you suggesting that the FV is something other than Shepherdism? Most of Shepherd’s distinctives are advocated by one FV writer or another. I think he would feel very comfortable with most of the FV writers out there.

  10. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Xon and Mark, you are taking HB so seriously! I do think that Scott has pointed out an inconsistency in the FV’s thinking, and done so brilliantly.

  11. Xon said,

    June 25, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Well, that’s why we’re taking it seriously, Lane. If you think he really has pointd out an inconsistency, and is not just “making a joke,” then there is something to be analytic about. And the reason that we object to what he said is that it is just wrong. There is no inconsistency. No FVers claim that “it is impossible to fall away from being FV.” Pduggan already pointed this out in comment #2 under the post “Score one for Scott,” and you gave the “gosh, it’s just a joke” response there as well.

    But you are trying to have it be both: a joke (don’t take it so seriously), and a “brillinat” expose on an FV inconsistency (You know, you guys really are inconsistent on this).

    As a joke and nothing more, I can appreciate his wit. I have a sense of humor. As a joke masking a substantive claim about some alleged genuine “inconsitency” on the part of FVers, it is ridiculous, and it points out no such thing.

  12. tim prussic said,

    June 25, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    I didn’t notice a lot of brillance, Pastor Lane. I did notice a joke or two.. I chuckled. But I thought that Dark Lord Wilson was the only big jerk that made fun of people and positions… what’s Pastor Clark doing trespassing?

    As to Vern, some of Shepherd’s concerns are common currency in the FV ranks. Some of N.T. Wright’s concerns are, too. That doesn’t make them Shepherdites, nor Wrightbots. If it did, TRs’d have to admit that the FV men also have to be Calvinists, because a whole lot of Calvin’s concerns are common currency among the FV ranks.

    A bit hyperbolic? Yeah, baby! But the idea of converting to TR from FV is just as stupid. It’s like a conversion from infra- to supralapsarianism… that’s right, folks, from darkness to light! It’s unhappy to watch Reformed folk bite and eat each other. A fat lot of good we do doing it, too.

  13. Vern Crisler said,

    June 25, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Re: #9

    Hi Lane,

    When I refer to Shepherdism, I’m referring only to his muddled view of justification. FV is wider than that (especially in the area of ecclesiology).

    Also, my experience with FV is that it tends to attract snobs. They are generally people who like to talk about “catholicity” quite a lot (in fact endlessly), and at the same time look down their noses at anything they regard as “baptistic.”

    Vern

    P.S. Just my opinion.

  14. Xon said,

    June 25, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Does “looking down your nose” include allowing those who practice credo-baptism into your denom, Vern? (Granting, of coure, that the CREC is not officially FV per se).

  15. tim prussic said,

    June 25, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Catholicity is one thing and disagreeing with a particular point is another. Let’s not get those things confused. I embrace Baptists as brethren, but I think their rejection of biblical covenant theology foolish. Your experience, Vern, may be that you’ve run into snobby FVers, but ‘twould be a clear demonstration of the tom foolery of inductive reasoning were you to apply that broadly.
    I, by the way, am neither FV nor TR. Just becuase people draw lines hither and yon doens’t mean (to mix the metaphor) I gotta dance a jig to their tune. If you think I’m stuck up, I’ll go TR so fast… and that’ll really mess up your paradigm.

  16. Vern Crisler said,

    June 25, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Tim & Xon,

    I was there near the beginning, 1980 or so, when Jim Jordan first began teaching proto-FV in Tyler, Texas.

    I saw FV (before it was called that) at its worse in the ecclesiastical arena.

    And yet there are attractive things about it, which is why it appeals to so many who seem otherwise sound in their theology. I see no problem with catholicity, as long as it isn’t the romantic, naive sort that one finds in Protestants on their way to Rome.

    Vern

  17. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    >Also, my experience with FV is that it tends to attract snobs. They are generally people who like to talk about “catholicity” quite a lot (in fact endlessly), and at the same time look down their noses at anything they regard as “baptistic.”

    They look down their noses in other ways, such as having severely high self-estimates of their own intelligence, and mockingly low estimates of the intelligence of anybody who doesn’t fall into line with their revisions and revelations.

    It’s what happens in the end times (which we’ve been in since about AD 33) when the willfully ignorant lose all shame and begin to lecture and teach (“Justification, as a concept, as has been determined in the Reformed tradition, er, in perhaps a parallel stream of recognition, yet nevertheless a stream not given negative priority in the macro uber engedeftinschlagen universe of discourse, is not owned in any patented, legal, worldly or otherworldly, though non-gnostic otherworldly for the purposes of this definition, way by, er, the rolling down the rails of the special, important, official, big-shot railroad people.”)

    All you can do is grin and try not to upset them too much.

  18. tim prussic said,

    June 25, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Robert, was that an FV impersonation? Seriously… It honestly sounds 100x more like Dr. Horton. I’ve not run into any FV writing that is high-brow intellectual type stuff. What sickening stuff like that have you run into, Robert?

    Vern, I agree. I’d steer clear from the hug and shrug ecumenical crowd, but I also don’t like the tendency in the Reformed world to draw the circle tighter and tighter until the elect can’t even fill a closet. Our best avenue would be to ascertain the marks of the church from the Bible and apply them just so. I don’t recall belief in predestination being one of them.

  19. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    The Reformed world play a role I don’t hear them acknowledging. In that they alone keep the flame of sound biblical doctrine alive it enables others, not necessarily in their churches, to come into contact with it via books and whatever other means sound biblical doctrine and practice get communicated, subtle and not-so-subtle.

    As a John Bunyan type Christian I must, though not having an allegiance to, in this case, the PCA, jump in the fray and help defend the five solas and doctrines of grace and the work of the Word and the Spirit in regeneration and all the rest of the biblical doctrine won in the battles of the Reformation, when those doctrines are being attacked and being attacked so insidiously.

  20. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    And, no, FV, you don’t get to call this a family spat, outsiders not allowed. Sound biblical doctrine is given by the Holy Spirit. When it is attacked all children of God, and potential children of God, are effected. As I said, the Reformed world (to use the phrase of the commenter above) plays a role in God’s plan to keep the flame of uncompromised, sound biblical doctrine alive in the world. When it is attacked, in this case from within, it is a battle for all who are able to value said doctrine to man the battle lines.

  21. NHarper said,

    June 25, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Along comes Shawn with his honest and simple testimony of the gospel – a gospel that changes people’s hearts – individually – and out comes the FV “misunderstood” card along with the “there is no such thing as individual conversions apart from the church” card.

    As I have said before, the FV is led by a bunch of unregenerate men with a lust for power. They want to be PCA popes and cardinals no different from the Roman Catholic church hierarchy. They teach that there is no salvation apart from the church. The reason they teach that is to control people – just like the pope and his bishops and cardinals. They practice Roman Catholicism but will never join because that would mean they would have to come under the authority of the pope and his entourage. They would then lose their power.

    Shawn, by the grace of God through His Word, has been set free and has had his eyes opened from this cultish teaching to the light of the gospel. I can read the joy and liberty in the tone of his writing and I rejoice with him! I pray that more and more will experience that same deliverance in the days ahead.

  22. tim prussic said,

    June 25, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    Heh… who gets to call whom an insider or outsider? Shall the truth die with you, Robert K.? Once again, the lovely schismatic tone comes to the fore. That kind of tone, Mr. K., don’t help nothing. In all humility, I’d suggest losing it. I understand anything I could say would probably fall upon deaf ears, but I hope not.

  23. tim prussic said,

    June 25, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Sheesh, Pastor Lane, this blog really draws ‘em outta the woodwork! NHarper has finally figured it all out! FV: Problem Solved – meet NHarper.
    So, I guess they wasn’t kiddin’ when they put together the bumper sticker that said “Wilson for Pope of the PCA in 2008!” I do think, on the other hand, that Pastor Schlissel would be a great Cardinal!

  24. A. Dollahite said,

    June 25, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Tim,

    RE: #12

    “But I thought that Dark Lord Wilson was the only big jerk that made fun of people and positions… what’s Pastor Clark doing trespassing?” That was easily the funniest thing I’ve read today. Thanks for the reasonable comments here.

  25. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    “Heh… who gets to call whom an insider or outsider? Shall the truth die with you, Robert K.? Once again, the lovely schismatic tone comes to the fore. That kind of tone, Mr. K., don’t help nothing. In all humility, I’d suggest losing it. I understand anything I could say would probably fall upon deaf ears, but I hope not.”

    Not wanting to get into a back and forth with no practical, building up of the faith going on, but is it finally getting through that Christians who value apostolic biblical doctrine which is the five solas and doctrines of grace have kind of had it up to here with cheap, juvenile, pomo sophistry being injected into theological language in Reformed churches and learning institutions and so on?

    And when you are not a Presbyterian and you recognize the leaven of truth coming out of a Presbyterian church or denomination and you acknowledge it and help them to defend it it is about the opposite of schism as can be. But calling black white and up down is par for the course until the Holy Spirit gives a person discernment for truth.

    PS: I admire NHarper’s comment immediately above. The second paragraph is dead-on accurate and is what the FV side so constantly attempts to keep muted by accusations of ‘slandering good men in standing’ etc., etc., and demands for “Apology!!!” Truth is truth. (It can even wake you up…)

  26. A. Dollahite said,

    June 25, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    Neil,

    I think we all get that you are convinced that the FV is nothing but unregenerate Catholics masquerading as wolves in Reformed clothing. The thing is, your view is contradicted by the actual denominational reports, as well as the personal testimonies of more than just a few men who wrote those reports (Sean Lucas and Bob Mattes come immediately to mind). Their consistent testimony is that men in the FV are brothers in Christ.

  27. A. Dollahite said,

    June 25, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Robert K,

    Add your name to #26.

  28. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    “I think we all get that you are convinced that the FV is nothing but unregenerate Catholics masquerading as wolves in Reformed clothing. The thing is, your view is contradicted by the actual denominational reports, as well as the personal testimonies of more than just a few men who wrote those reports (Sean Lucas and Bob Mattes come immediately to mind). Their consistent testimony is that men in the FV are brothers in Christ.”

    FVists, after one of these negative report cards, always – always – glom onto any little ill-considered concession or customary act of benevolence and blow it up so big that it overpowers anything written in the report itself. It doesn’t pay to be irenic or diplomatic towards these folks. Those of us who know FV types instinctively can read one of these reports and immediately underline each little word and phrase that will be used by them to innoculate themselves from the findings and conclusions of the report as a whole. This is game playing, and it’s done by people whose motives are bad.

  29. Meg Thomas said,

    June 25, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    “What FV is really saying is that yes, you’ve got all that, but it’s all in God’s decree. Since we cannot know God’s decree, it is not our concern. Our concern is with the here and now, with the external covenant (cf., like the Israelites). Thus, FV covenantal externalism is based on the implications resulting from an epistemological limitation.”

    Forgive me, but that sounds an awful lot like pragmatism. Shouldn’t the Gospel be the most important thing, and preaching Christ and Him crucified?

    The secret things (the decrees) belong to God, but surely the Gospel of justification by faith is one of the things God has given (in Scripture) to us and our children.

  30. A. Dollahite said,

    June 25, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Robert,

    I wonder if the committee members would actually agree with your assessment of what they’ve written.

    You say:

    Calling the FV men brothers in Christ was an “ill-considered concession” or a “customary act of benevolence.”

    Who was this a concession to? Why is it so hard to believe that the committee actually meant what they wrote?

    Bob Mattes, no friend of the FV, wrote just today on the Bayly’s blog,

    Their status as brothers in Christ is not and has not been in dispute in my mind. I hope that’s clear enough for you.

    (I’m not sure he could be much clearer.)

    As for the FV blowing things out of proportion, I have to wonder just how important you think it is to be considered a brother in Christ by those you fellowship with. I’m sure if you took time to consider it, you would acknowledge that the love we show one another as Christians starts by actually acknowledging one another as Christians. Otherwise, it seems we will be sadly quick to devour and consume each other.

  31. June 25, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    [...] A Conversion Experience Shawn Roberson has given me permission to post his experience with the Federal Vision. It is a wonderful testimony […] [...]

  32. NHarper said,

    June 25, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Is a wolf in sheep’s clothing a brother in Christ? Externally, you would call him a brother in Christ because he wears sheep’s clothing. But inwardly he is not. A wolf devours sheep; it is not the other way around. You are asking me along with the other sheep to identify these devouring wolves as brothers in Christ based only on their external appearance as sheep. And, you are asking me to put little lambs in Sunday school classes and in some cases, in schools five days a week with wolves. I cannot and will not.

    Dr. Sean Lucas came to Covenant Seminary from Community Presbyterian Church – it’s in his bio with Covenant Seminary – a church that is now full blown FV – a church whose presbytery approved its FV pastor, knowing this pastor had signed the Auburn Avenue statement – the presbytery of which Dr. Lucas was a member at the time. Where were Dr. Lucas’ nine declarations of error that this PCA church so desperately needed? Where was the defense of the gospel? Where was the concern for the “real” sheep? It is my understanding that there was only one vote voiced against approving this false teacher – and it was not the voice of Dr. Lucas.

    There’s a rule of etiquette that says one should always leave a place in better condition than when he came. Sad to say, that was not the case with this church.

    The committee had to play politics – Covenant Seminary can’t denounce some of its own.

  33. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Ill-considered concession. It is ill-considered for sheep to extent the hand of Christian fellowship to wolves just because they are wearing wool.

  34. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    My comment above was posted at the same time exactly as NHarper’s. The Bible informed both our responses:

    Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

  35. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    I think if Calvin were here his reaction to Federal Vision advocates would be to first weep genuine tears (I am not overstating), and to desire to read the Bible with them; because he would know it was first an issue of the regenerating work of the Spirit, and he would see lost souls wandering without the guidance of the Spirit, perhaps wandering in prideful resentment, yet nevertheless really no different than any who are in a similar condition. The debate might get sharp then if the FV advocates continued to press their demands, but I doubt Calvin would entertain them for too long after that, dismissing their doctrine as too childish to deserve a response.

  36. MattH said,

    June 25, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Robert K:
    Well stated on #34, although I do think he would have spent some time on the issue only because so many “Prebys” seem lured into their trap.
    What I think would be fun is to imagine what Luther would say. This is likely too family friendly to print what Martin would have said.

  37. June 25, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    Wow, whatever happened to rejoicing over the Lord regenerating Shawn to the gospel ca. 1981? This discussion has gone from that and Shawn’s later theological journey to deciding that some have the inside track on the Book of Life. Even if, and I don’t grant this in this case for a second, but even if someone thought a brother was in very grievous error, have we forgotten WCF 17.3? Where is the grace?

    As for Dr. Lucas, I would be proud to be mentioned in the same sentence with him anytime. As a brother, he’s far more gracious than I’ll ever be, and as solidly Reformed as any you can name. I know nothing of the politics in the church or presbytery mentioned, but after a year in a common labor with Dr. Lucas, I am impressed with his intellect and assured of his Reformed credentials. It hurts me, a cold, heartless Philly boy, to tears to read this stuff.

    As for Covenant Seminary, Dr. Chapell runs one of the most Godly seminaries in this country. He emphasizes the practicalities of pastoring along with solid Reformed theology, so that his graduates may serve the cause of Christ and the care of His flock to the fullest. If some depart some distance from their theological instruction, that can hardly be blamed on the seminary. People are free to choose their own course. And even though one of those graduates seems to take particular delight in ridiculing me (which I’m sure had nothing to do with my suggesting FVers repent or depart the PCA peacefully), I will still stand by him in the regard of his brotherhood in Christ.

    It is not my place to speak for the committee as a whole, but I will say that we made no concession to anyone in stating that the FV proponents are indeed our brothers in Christ. No politics there, just the plain, unvarnished truth. I know of no FVer whose salvation I doubt, no matter what they may think about me or anyone else. We’re all sinners saved by grace.

    I respectfully request that as we continue to debate with candor, that at the same time not question anyone’s brotherhood in the Lord. The Lord, not us, knows His sheep, and they know him–and all to His glory.

  38. markhorne said,

    June 25, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    #29: But that’s the issue. If we can’t say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your house” because we’ve got a bunch of definitions that we stick with in all circumstances that lead us to second-guess God’s grace, then we need to shake it off and just preach the Gospel.

    Yeah, it’s pragmatic, I want the Gospel to actually be an intelligible message to the actual people I pastor or meet.

  39. NHarper said,

    June 25, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    You are asking us to consider a false teacher our brother in Christ. You are asking us to submit to another gospel for the sake of “brotherhood”. Can you show me in the Bible where it tells us to do that? So far, your only reason is because the committee of men in a report told us to do that.

  40. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    “It is not my place to speak for the committee as a whole, but I will say that we made no concession to anyone in stating that the FV proponents are indeed our brothers in Christ. No politics there, just the plain, unvarnished truth. I know of no FVer whose salvation I doubt, no matter what they may think about me or anyone else. We’re all sinners saved by grace.

    I respectfully request that as we continue to debate with candor, that at the same time not question anyone’s brotherhood in the Lord. The Lord, not us, knows His sheep, and they know him–and all to His glory.”

    This has “19th Hole” written all over it. And the canard about Calvinists pointing their fingers and saying who is and who isn’t regenerate was dealt with before in one of these recent threads, but back it comes because it’s just too tempting an accusation to throw around. FVists are the proud unregenerate. That means, they are not just unregenerate and they don’t just not understand regeneration but they are prideful and resentful towards God and His Word in their unregenerate condition. False doctrine such as baptismal regeneration is doctrine of the unregenerate. They demand that God’s Word and the Holy Spirit and their work conform to their man-centered demands. They will do and say anything to get God’s plan to conform to their man-centered demands. As long as sound biblical doctrine is taught and as long as a people exist who represent it and defend it it is an affront to the man-centered prideful unregenerate who are setting up their own kingdom (or building up the already existing kingdom of darkness). Know your enemy, and know the enemy of the Gospel.

  41. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    “Yeah, it’s pragmatic, I want the Gospel to actually be an intelligible message to the actual people I pastor or meet.”

    The Holy Spirit has somethng to do with that. Your job is to preach the Word, not preach your word.

  42. Robert K. said,

    June 25, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    Reformedmusings, I know you’re probably wondering at the hardcore nature of the responses you are getting here, but the faithful are hardcore and a bit out of patience for seeing the defense of the faith left to U.N. reports. I understand how your denomination is set up, Roberts Rules of Order and all that, but to call a spade a spade regarding the dark and malignant Romanist FV doctrine and then to insist they are still good ol’ boys in good standing as Christian brothers doesn’t wash. They are attempting to overturn the last strongholds defending apostolic biblical doctrine, and they’re attempting it insidiously from within, giving clear evidence – by their, for instance, mocking use of cheap academic sophistic pomo rhetoric every step of the way – they are conscious of the mischievous nature of their actions. That is a serious attack on their Creator and His plan of redemption. Remember, nobody would pay any attention to these people if they were off to themselves in a dept. of the Harvard Divinity School. They are doing their business from within the ranks of these confessing bodies. They are in a totally different category than the mere liberal theologians in liberal institutions and denominations and churches which are legion.

  43. jared said,

    June 26, 2007 at 1:01 am

    I’d like to thank Robert K. and NHarper for showing us who the real wolves are… thanks boys. :-)

  44. びっくり said,

    June 26, 2007 at 1:50 am

    Wow! How refreshing to see a discussion of Christian theology as a top blog. I hope this is a sign of things to come.

    Certainly NHarper brings up some very good points about being cautious of the wolves, but we always need to temper our judgmental side with compassion and humility. The path is, indeed, narrow. I think there is a good reason why Christ immediately followed “judge not lest ye be judged” discussion with warnings about being torn to pieces when casting pearls before swine.

    Everyone, keep studying and praying and listening. He will make all things clear in time.

  45. Catez said,

    June 26, 2007 at 2:36 am

    Thanks for posting Shawn’s story. I appreciated it.

  46. gospelordeath said,

    June 26, 2007 at 3:14 am

    Well, first I’d like to congratulate Mr. Roberson on his discovery of the truth. I’d also like to say that I am the furthest thing from a FV supporter. In fact, I’m a WSCAL student and a member of the OPC. I was so excited about the justification report that the OPC commended to the presbyteries that I flew from Escondido to Chicago just to go see and hear the debates for myself. And in fact, I was at the OPC’s Presbytery of the Midwest meeting (because I lived there at the time) when the overture was passed in the presbytery to be sent to the General Assembly to ask them about this justification issue in response to the acquittal of an Elder who had been brought up on charges of teaching this kind of thing. My blog is called “Gospel or Death” for crying out loud, and if there’s one thing I’ll argue about until I pass out from exhaustion, it’s that our salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, and our works have nothing to do with it. I am vehemently in favor of talking about the imputation of the active obedience of Christ, and viciously oppose those who deny it, and I even believe that such a denial constitutes a false gospel, because I believe the gospel, and that’s not the gospel I believe.

    That being said, I have something to say to those who are interacting on this thread against the FV. I am MORE than sympathetic to your cause, but you have to understand what a study committee report is.

    When I first discovered that the PCA report referred to the FV teachers as brothers in Christ, I admit I was a little bit annoyed. After all, everything in me, every last ounce of zeal for the gospel cries out that this is unjust and a horrible compromise.

    But I have since recovered my sanity, and I am grateful for this debate, even on this thread, because it has taught me something that I think we be of great value to me if I ever make it into the pulpit.

    We have to remember that this report is NOT a judicial report. No one has been brought up on charges, no one has been brought under discipline or excommunicated here. No one. This is a study committee report. It’s supposed to help people understand what the FV is teaching and what the Westminster Standards have to say about it.

    When someone said on the floor of the GA of the PCA that putting FV sympathizers on the committee was like putting the accused on the jury, and people applauded, RC Sproul, I think, rightly rebuked the assembly. (I hope I have the details of that right. If I don’t, I hope someone corrects me.) When I first heard about this, again I was annoyed at Sproul, but I have given it more thought, and I think I have learned something.

    The guy who said it would be like putting the accused on the jury, while he may have a point in some ways, absolutely mischaracterized what this entire thing is, or at least what it’s supposed to be. The fact that the Assembly applauded SHOULD be mourned. Now remember, I say that as someone who has a very strong view of Gal 1. I don’t think the FV gospel is my gospel, and I therefore think it’s a false gospel, making them false teachers of a false gospel.

    However, this report doesn’t convict anyone. Rather it confronts them with what the denomination thinks about what they’re doing. Now we need to let the process do it’s work. Charges need to be brought, men need to be called to repentance, and they need to be given that chance to repent.

    I know. James says that not many of us should be teachers, on account of the harsher judgment. But will you guys please go back and read the original post of this thread, Mr. Roberson’s story?

    Let’s assume for the moment that FV is completely heretical, a false gospel. Now look at Roberson’s story. He got excited about the true gospel, covenant theology, and then bought into the FV for a while. And now look, here he is, talking about what a joy he has in the gospel, and about how he has left those errors behind. He was clearly our brother in Christ before, and even MORE clearly our brother in Christ now. And here’s a guy who was FV for a while. In fact, even the FV guys on this thread have distanced themselves from what this guy says he believed for a while. And yet here he is, talking clearly and boldly about the gospel.

    So why on earth can’t we give EVERYONE who teaches or believes in the FV the same courtesy? The proper process of charges and discipline have to be followed. It’s not because we Presbyterians are all math majors and have some love for Roberts Rules of Order, or because we delight in long processes for the sake of having long and tedius processes. No – it’s because we believe that Christians can sometimes fall into grievous error. Jesus said that false Christs would deceive even the elect. Even the elect can be deceived!

    And look, I’m a hard core gospel zealot. I promise you. In fact, I make it a point to talk about the gospel as much as possible. I want to deliberately shape peoples’ perceptions of me and my personality. When they think of me, I don’t want them to think of me, I want them to think of how much I love the gospel and how much I’m always talking about it. I don’t want them to think about my hobbies and interests, how I like to blog or how I got a “D” in Hebrew and have to take it again. When they think of me, I want them to think of nothing other than someone who really loved and cared about the gospel. I want to be eclipsed by the gospel, so that my identity and personality is all but lost in the light of the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t care what people think of me or what they know about me; but I want them to know that I love the gospel and am utterly willing to die for it. Give me the gospel or give me death.

    I love and adore and cherish this true gospel of Jesus Christ so much that I advocate even preaching it to those poor souls who are suffering under the dilusions of the FV and the NPP. There isn’t anyone on earth that I think shouldn’t be given the free offer of the gospel. I don’t advocate withholding it from anyone. May it be preached to all.

    The teachers of the FV have been told by the PCA that they are in the wrong. Now it is up to those men in the PCA to repent. And I hope they do, and when and if they do, they will prove that they are our brothers, and in fact that they have been all along. Now maybe they won’t repent, not ever. Ok, then people need to bring charges against them, if they don’t excuse themselves from the denomination because they no longer believe its confession as that denomination has interpreted it. They can’t be honest and remain in the denomination holding their views anymore. They need to excuse themselves or repent. That’s the bottom line. And if they do neither, then let them be charged and let the courts go to work.

    This report is not a conviction by a court. This is the denomination clarifying what its confession is. It is nothing more than that.

    So for us to say that these men aren’t are brothers in Christ is presumptious and premature. They may be, they may not be, only God looks on the heart. Nevertheless, we can’t excommunicate them for being out of accord with the report. The report can’t serve as the basis for charges against these people. The basis for charges remains Scripture and the Westminster Standards. And every man will have to be dealt with one at a time. We can’t see that he agrees with one part of the FV and then demand that he be charged with all of it. Maybe he only believes one thing, and he only needs to repent of that. But until he has been given ample opportunity to be counseled and opportunity to repent, and until he is excommunicated by the church, then we have no right to declare that these are not our brothers in Christ. Granted, they may not be. But they may yet repent.

    Remember, no one up till now has officially declared their views wrong. And I don’t know if anyone has been brought up on charges in the PCA, but a man was brought up on charges in the OPC, and he was acquitted. I wasn’t there, I didn’t hear that case.

    But I have heard that in other cases, when people try to confront this stuff, the FV guys are not really honest about what they believe. You can even see in this thread that they claim to believe in justification by faith alone, etc. They don’t believe in justification by faith alone. But they clearly THINK that they do. Well, they need to be corrected. This report only begins that process. You see, as slippery as it may appear to us, if a guy thinks he believes in justification by faith alone, and confesses that with his mouth, you can’t charge him with denying justification by faith alone. You can say that he doesn’t UNDERSTAND justification by faith alone, but he’s not denying it. Well, it’s no wonder that this stuff has confused the heck out of everyone. That’s why these reports were so necessary to help everyone straighten things out.

    Before we can convict them of DENYING justification, we have to make sure that they UNDERSTAND justification, and that they understand the implications of what they’re saying. It’s a slow and painful, tedious process. And every single case will undoubtedly go before the General Assembly and drive everyone crazy. But that’s how it is. Pick up your cross and follow Christ. No one said it would be easy. We don’t excommunicate people and declare them unbelievers or false teachers lightly.

    I mean look, I’m quite comfortable calling the Roman Church a synagogue of Satan, and the pope at least a manifestation of Antichrist, if not THE Antichrist. I’m VERY comfortable with that language. I even WENT to Rome and stood in front of the Vatican and declared, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great!” That’s how much I hate Rome. May fire fall from heaven and consume the Vatican. I would take a trip to Rome just to dance on the ashes.

    But I’m comfortable saying that because they have come right out and said that they deny justification by faith alone in the Council of Trent. I have read the words. They have declared MY gospel to be anathema. There is no equivocation there. They say that justification by faith alone is anathema, and that those who teach it are anathema. That’s pretty clearly the blasphemies of Satan through the mouth of the Roman Church.

    But these FV guys are not to be equated with that. There’s a big and crucial difference here. So we still take them to be brothers until they prove otherwise by refusing to repent when properly confronted and called to repentance by the church according to the process set forth in Mat 18. They have to be confronted by the one who knows that they believe this and are teaching it, then come back with witnesses, then it’s a matter for the church courts. And only THEY have the authority to excommunicate someone.

    But remember, excommunicating someone is STILL not saying that they are not our brother in Christ! The whole POINT of excommunication is to bring people to repentance!

    Again, I want to see charges brought. I want to see these errors go away. But we have to give these guys a chance to repent. That’s the bottom line.

    I am NOT saying that we need to give them UNENDING opportunity to repent and NEVER actually turn them away. There is a time when it is appropriate to say, ok, now you’re gone. We are making progress toward that point, but we aren’t there yet. So be patient. Give it some time. Let the courts do their work, and the pastors do theirs, and let these men be confronted and charged and convicted in the appropriate way. And may God bring them to repentance.

    Mike G.

  47. pduggie said,

    June 26, 2007 at 6:58 am

    “When someone said on the floor of the GA of the PCA that putting FV sympathizers on the committee was like putting the accused on the jury, and people applauded, RC Sproul, I think, rightly rebuked the assembly. (I hope I have the details of that right. If I don’t, I hope someone corrects me.)”

    It is my understanding that the one who said that was Sproul himself. I’m not sure anyone rebuked him on the floor.

  48. Xon said,

    June 26, 2007 at 7:38 am

    Right, pdug, Sproul was the one who made that comparison!

  49. pduggan said,

    June 26, 2007 at 8:37 am

    I dunno, Mike; I’m not sure you really hate Rome *enough*.

  50. markhorne said,

    June 26, 2007 at 9:59 am

    This was the second time that applause broke out and the moderator had spoken to the issue. So Sproul “rebuked” the applauders for their, in his words “righteous applause.” He himself made it clear that the FV were the accused and the committee was the jury. And he was obviously proud of himself for the comparison.

    But it is no surprise. Melton Duncan, Lig’s brother, has an important post at Ligonier. I should have expected it. But I didn’t. Even as it was happening I couldn’t believe what Sproul was doing.

  51. June 26, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Mark
    If I found myself in a situation like you are in as a outspoken defender of the FV- and a overwhelming majority of my fellow elders send the kind of message that they just did, I would say, ‘Adios, I am out of here.I don’t need to be told twice that I am not welcomed’.

  52. Xon said,

    June 26, 2007 at 10:26 am

    And then we’ll all be called “schismatics” after we leave, right?

  53. June 26, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Xon
    No, that is not what schismatics do-schismatics have a track record of staying in these kind of situations and making as much trouble as they can,splitting churches, and disrupting the peace of the denomination, before being forced to leave.

  54. markhorne said,

    June 26, 2007 at 10:45 am

    But the message would be: “I admit I am out of accord with my ministerial vows” and that would be a lie. I wouldn’t be able to cop a plea on false child abuse charges when Janet Reno was securing verdicts in South Florida. You have to tell the truth.

    Besides that, I was regularly called and have made vows to continue my ministry no matter what persecution I suffer for my allegiance to Christ and the Reformed Faith. I’m not sure these forbid transfering out under all circumstances, but they make me hesitant.

    All this comes down to the fact that no branch of the church is the property of some clique within it. This really isn’t high school no matter how many act like it is.

  55. greenbaggins said,

    June 26, 2007 at 10:55 am

    I wouldn’t necessarily call 95-98% of the PCA a clique.

  56. Vern Crisler said,

    June 26, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Meg Thomas wrote:

    “Forgive me, but that sounds an awful lot like pragmatism. Shouldn’t the Gospel be the most important thing, and preaching Christ and Him crucified?” (#29)

    I’m not sure pragmatism is descriptive of the Federal Vision approach. Here is the big problem.

    In one of his discssions at:

    http://www.leithart.com/archives/003074.php

    Peter Leithart says,

    “5. Union with Christ: I do believe that all of Christ’s benefits are “subsumed” under the heading of union with Christ. This renders imputation “redundant” if imputation is seen as a separate moment of justification, parallel to but distinct from union with Christ.”

    “7. Union with Christ and benefits: I do believe that some are united to Christ yet do not persevere (John 15).”

    The premises add up to the conclusion that justification can be lost. Leithart, however, can always claim that he’s only talking about what happens in the objective, “phenomenal” covenant, not what happens in the “noumenal” decree. He seems to imply this at one point: “I believe,” says Leithart, “that the elect, and only the elect, will stand before God on the last day as righteous, holy, forgiven sons. The elect will receive these benefits of Christ, and cannot lose them.”

    Thus one loses justification only in a temporal, external sense, not necessarily in the eternal sense. However, FV proponents throw in a poisonous rider saying that God keeps his promises, so that what the church on earth does, no matter how temporal, it is virtually what heaven decrees. Soteriology is therefore reduced to ecclesiology.

    To put it another way, if everything is reduced to a phenomenal, external covenant, then persevering or falling away become purely ecclesiastical categories, not soteriological. Because of FV phenomenalism, the church becomes the primary institution. Servile obedience is enjoined; the father always backs up the mother (church); thinking for oneself is “rot”; everything becomes church, church, church; individualism is denigrated, the American Revolution and Constitution are bashed, and Christianity is reduced to an extreme form of paternalism.

    Most critics of FV see the danger in terms of theology, but in my opinion, the danger is really ecclesiastical. The Reformed view is that we do not keep our justification because we persevere, but rather, we persevere because we are justified. This is a repudiation of analytic-justification (i.e., based on something in us). It was the Reformed rediscovery of the sufficiency of grace that undermined the power of the Roman sect, and it’s this same sufficiency of grace that will undermine FV ecclesiastical pretensions.

    Just some thoughts,

    Vern

  57. June 26, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Mark
    Given the declarations and the vote to approve them by the 95-98 per cent at the GA-it is obvious that you are in a small minority-the numbers don’t lie-and even if you are in the right about what you claim, my initial point was that if I found myself in your shoes I would walk.My other question to you is this:if you believe that the majority of the PCA is totally clueless ,why would you want to associate with this bunch after all?

  58. tim prussic said,

    June 26, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Pastor Lane, do you think a man who believes in Christ’s perfect obedience, but questions it’s theological significance, that is, denies the IXAO, believes a different gospel? Is belief in the IXAO nessary for salvation in your book, or better, in your opinion of the the Book?

  59. markhorne said,

    June 26, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Lane, just because a clique gets popular doesn’t mean all the fans are members of the clique. Popularity is a mist.

    Gary, I think I covered what makes me to hesiate to walk. Besides, I interact with presbyters all the time who treat me with respect and friendship. I can’t let a vote override that.

    What the denomination really believes will be reflected in the behavior of her courts. The courts have received me and many others as members. Nothing has changed since the vote. (Of course, I think you could give me plenty of reasons to leave before the vote–I’m not claiming everything is wonderful; I’m just pointing out the vote means nothing).

  60. tim prussic said,

    June 26, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Vern, as too often happens, you’ve managed to REDUCE Leithart, Wilson and the other FV authors I’ve read to very simplistic terms. You’ve also introduced loaded philosophical teminology that can be misleading. You’re simply putting Leithart into a false dichotomy in which he does not put himself. He does not argue that “everything” is reduced to external, historical, covenantal realm. He does argue that the Scripture speaks of the church and divine covenants IN history, and that that’s the realm in which we operate. We know of eternal things. They’ve very important and they factor into the whole of bibilcal revelation, but they are not the whole of bibical revelation.
    You should be more careful in your attempts to represent your opponents, I think.

  61. NHarper said,

    June 26, 2007 at 11:41 am

    After months of prayer and determining the direction of our church leadership, our family has made the difficult decision to leave the PCA. We have been informed by our leadership that they will not take any disciplinary court action against those in error. Nor, will they follow through on the GA recommendation to condemn such errors. Rather, they have chosen to be silent and wait until those in error follow through on their own volition to leave the denomination.

    In addition, we have to acknowledge the fact that the PCA in the approved report recognizes and has determined that these false teachers are brothers in Christ, and, therefore, we must maintain fellowship with them as such. In order to respect the denomination’s decision, as well as to maintain a pure conscience before the Lord, we believe that our only course or option is to leave peacefully.

    We wish to close this sad chapter and move forward with the Gospel. To remain in a church that condones error is a hindrance to the Gospel and places a stumbling block before those who are hungry and seeking after the truth. We will, however, continue to pray for the PCA, that God would prosper those churches who truly desire to seek and follow the truth.

  62. pduggan said,

    June 26, 2007 at 11:47 am

    6-: yes tim. And as Calvin said, the external covenant is a visible representation of the internal realities.

  63. tim prussic said,

    June 26, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    NHarper, if you’re correct about the PCA’s decision with regard to the taking of no disciplinary action.. I’m confused. IF the FV doctrines are heterodox, then they should be treated as such and the propogators of them tried. IF they are not, they should not be. Waiting-it-out-and-make-it-uncomfortable-so-they’ll-leave style of discipline seems closer to abdication than discipline. I hope you’re wrong.

  64. NHarper said,

    June 26, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    I only shared the decision of our local leadership.

  65. markhorne said,

    June 26, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Well, I trust that all the people who deny sola fide, deny imputation, and who think we get justified on the Last Day by the merit of our good deeds have not only left the denomination, but never had the temerity to enter it in the first place.

  66. Vern Crisler said,

    June 26, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Tim says, “[Leithart] does not argue that “everything” is reduced to external, historical, covenantal realm. He does argue that the Scripture speaks of the church and divine covenants IN history, and that that’s the realm in which we operate. We know of eternal things. They’ve very important and they factor into the whole of bibilcal revelation, but they are not the whole of bibical revelation.”

    I disagree. FV advocates are very up front about how we cannot have insight into the decree. It is precisely because we cannot (according to FV) know about eternal things, that the focus is exclusively on the external covenant, “the realm in which we operate,” as you say. That is what they mean by “objectivity.”

    Vern

  67. tim prussic said,

    June 26, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    What is this “we cannot know about eternal things” business? If by that you mean to say that the FV men have check the back of their Bibles and have not found a list of the eternally elect, you are certainly correct. I think I seen Leithart checkin’ one time, just to be sure. If you mean that we know nothing of eternal things and that they don’t factor into our historical thinking and doin’s, you contradict yourself: ‘He seems to imply this at one point: “I believe,” says Leithart, “that the elect, and only the elect, will stand before God on the last day as righteous, holy, forgiven sons. The elect will receive these benefits of Christ, and cannot lose them”’ (from post 56).
    Obviously, Leithart believes in the eternal and it guides his thinking regarding the historical. It does not, however, constituted ALL the biblical data. That, to me, seems the real issue: how do we rightly balance all the bibical data, in this case, both historical/covenantal and eternal/unchangeable.

  68. pduggan said,

    June 26, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    “FV advocates are very up front about how we cannot have insight into the decree. ”

    Wilkins retracted his claim to that

  69. NHarper said,

    June 26, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Just a reminder – the report is not binding. Local presbyteries and sessions have the freedom to ignore the recommendations. My local leadership has chosen not to bring charges or take any disciplinary action or to condemn such errors in any public way. Our family has chosen to respect their authority and decision by leaving peacefully.

  70. tim prussic said,

    June 26, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    NHarper, have you spoken with your local leadership specifically. What seems to be their reasoning?
    Where will you go?
    -Tim

  71. Vern Crisler said,

    June 26, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Tim said,

    “Obviously, Leithart believes in the eternal and it guides his thinking regarding the historical.”

    I think you are being disingenuous. FV statements about the (eternal) elect are transitional statements. As in, “yes, God has chosen his elect from eternity, but…”

    Usually followed by language about the tangible, visible, external, etc.

    Vern

  72. Xon said,

    June 26, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Vern, two responses:

    1. Nuh uh. :-) I’ve heard lots of FVers express eternal election that don’t imediately follow up with “but”.

    2. Even if you’re right, though, so what? “Transitional” statements do not in any way negate the thing being transitioned from. Logically, I’m not following your reasoning here.

    Perhaps you think there is some sort of contradiction between affirming both the eternal and the tangible, visible, etc.? But if this is what you think, it would benefit us all if you spelled it out because I’ll bet I’m not the only one who doesn’t see the contradiction.

  73. June 26, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    #69

    I don’t understand the point of the report if local presbyteries and sessions can just ignore it. What good does it *do* to know how the GA feels about the recommendations? What recourse do individuals/families have if their presbyteries/sessions ignore the recommendations?

  74. tim prussic said,

    June 26, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    I’ll blow one bigger: A man that don’t care about the biblical expressions of God’s eternal degree, in turn, don’t care about history. The latter is, in part, the outworking of the former. A man that pays no mind to the eternal decree has big problems.
    On the flip side, however, the man who spend the vast bulk of his time contemplating the eternal decreee needs a dose of the biblical call to action IN history and IN covenant.
    I am certianly not intending to be anything but forthright, Vern. I think that your accusations are inconsistent, and that partially because you’ve simplified the ideas so greatly.

  75. markhorne said,

    June 26, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    “I think you are being disingenuous.”

    This is the new Presbyterian way of saying, “I think you’re asking me to back up my accusations with logic and evidence and I don’t like it.” Kind of like the new theological term, “smokescreen.”

  76. tim prussic said,

    June 26, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Part of the issue is that Calvinists spend SO much time talking about the eternal. Now, I’m a Calvinist and I believe and love the eternal, BUT I needed to get a dose of the outworking of the eternal decree. Now, the FV didn’t need to teach me that… traditional Reformed theology certainly teaches it. It is NOT deviation from our tradition, nor a deviation from the Bible.

  77. Vern Crisler said,

    June 26, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Hey guys,

    I’m not the one who came up with the premises of FV. As far back as I can remember, FV “objectivism” was prefaced with the an epistemological qualification.

    Vern

  78. tim prussic said,

    June 26, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Hmm… I’m honestly not sure what you mean by “the an epistemological qualification.”
    My understanding of, say, Wilson’s notion of the “objectivity” of the covenant (OC) is that we, discursively, know who is in the historical covenant of grace – those that have been inducted by the external rite of triune baptism. His language: you can take a picture of someone entering the covenant. The baptized party, as I read Wilson, is objectively in the covenant and is thus held to the terms of that covenant. This is all outward and clear for all to see and thus, yup, you guessed it, objective.
    This notion of the OC differs from more baptistic notions that ONLY those who’ve had an inward experience of conversion are in covenant with God. That would be the subjectivity of the covenant, which has some merit (pardon that unbearable word, ye FV hounds).
    Does that make sense, Vern? I’m not trying to quibble or be condescending… just trying to be clear and make some progress.

  79. Fred Greco said,

    June 26, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Lane,

    This is why I would have not allowed comments on this particular post. Shawn takes the time to write up his personal experience from the inside (having been personally discipled by Steve Schlissel and others in the FV movement) and the trolls come out from under the bridge to once again deny that it ever existed.

    If only as much study had been given to Jedi as to Vampires and the occult, and then the Jedi mind trick “there are no FV droids here” would work.

  80. tim prussic said,

    June 26, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    Before I return to my humble and slovenly abode below the bridge, I might mention that Mr. Greco doesn’t sound very nice. I, however, am nothing but cute and cuddly, with rose (not pink) hair, and I gotts a ruby in my belly button – in Luther’s language: Here I stand: love me!
    I have personally heard Pastor Schlissel affirm the doctrine of forensic justification in no uncertain terms – yup, imputation and all. Now, if his personally-discipled son in the FV hetero-faith, Shawn, went father than his master (which it appears that he did), then why attribute that to his master(s)? In reality (as I mentioned in the first post on this string), I rejoice for Mr. Roberson. Also, Xon does too – and I don’t know that they get more trollish than him.

  81. gospelordeath said,

    June 26, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Mark,

    Re: 54

    You said:
    “But the message would be: “I admit I am out of accord with my ministerial vows” and that would be a lie. I wouldn’t be able to cop a plea on false child abuse charges when Janet Reno was securing verdicts in South Florida. You have to tell the truth.”

    Not so! Leaving the denomination doesn’t mean admitting that you are preaching a false gospel or something. Remember, ministers also take vows to the Westminster Confession. PCA ministers vow basically to teach what the PCA believes. If a minister is found to no longer believe what they believe, and stays in the PCA, he is not upholding his vows, because he no longer believes what the church believes.

    I’m OPC, so I know what our ordination vows look like, but why not let’s look at the PCA ordination vows? If the PCA is ANYTHING like the OPC at all, you can’t get ordained if you don’t believe the confession – as interpreted by the PCA. You do not have the right to interpret the confession however you want. It’s not your confession, it’s the church’s confession. The church has the right to say how it ought to be interpreted. Which they just did with the passing of this report. Even if you think that you still believe the Westminster Confession, if you disagree with this report, you don’t believe the Westminster Confession as interpreted by the PCA, which according to the PCA is the same as not believing the confession. It is no longer your confession. Therefore, the PCA would not like to ordain you if you were getting ordained today. You don’t believe what they believe. So leave.

    Or even better, repent and believe the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Those are the only options for an FV minister in the PCA right now.

  82. gospelordeath said,

    June 26, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    NHarper,

    Re: 62, 64

    I’m OPC, and we’d love to have you. That being said, it sounds like your local church is a bit of a rogue. If they have stated clearly that they have no intention of bringing charges against known supporters of known heresy, then that’s something that should be brought to the attention of the presbytery.

    I understand that that’s probably the last thing you want to do in the whole world, but the presbytery does have the authority to deal with that problem. Anyway, you might consider going to a different PCA in your area and working with them to get the presbytery to deal with this. The vast majority of the PCA is against these errors, and I think the vast majority would not be pleased with the direction your local church is taking. By they can’t do anything about it until someone tells them about it.

    But we’d be happy to have you in the OPC. But our churches are not all the same. Some are absolutely excellent, and well, some I wouldn’t go to.

  83. gospelordeath said,

    June 26, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    NHarper,

    Re: 69

    The report is not binding, but the Westminster Confession is. The report helps define what the PCA thinks the Westminster Confession says, and the Confession clarifies what the PCA thinks Scripture says. Just because the report is not somehow binding doesn’t mean people have the right to look the other way in the face of heresy!

  84. June 27, 2007 at 12:09 am

    I would like to interject this quote from Calvin in light of the discussion between Vern, Tim and Xon. What do you guys think of Calvin’s langauge here in regards to the covenant of grace.

    For, since the fall of Adam had brought disgrace upon all his posterity, God restores those, whom He separates as His own, so that their condition may be better than that of all other nations. At the same time it must be remarked, that this grace of renewal is effaced in many who have afterwards profaned it. Consequently the Church is called God’s work and creation, in two senses, i.e., generally with respect to its outward calling, and specially with respect to spiritual regeneration, as far as regards the elect; for the covenant of grace is common to hypocrites and true believers. On this ground all whom God gathers into His Church, are indiscriminately said to be renewed and regenerated: but the internal renovation belongs to believers only; whom Paul, therefore, calls God’s “workmanship, created unto good works, which God hath prepared, etc.” (Ephesians 2:10.). Calvin, Deut 32:6.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Terry W. West

  85. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:14 am

    “Remember, ministers also take vows to the Westminster Confession. PCA ministers vow basically to teach what the PCA believes. ”

    You are putting together to contradictory statements, if you are claiming the committee report represents what the PCA believes.

  86. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:16 am

    “You do not have the right to interpret the confession however you want. It’s not your confession, it’s the church’s confession. ”

    That sounds like the philosophy of the liberal Supreme Court. No way. The church puts the confession in its constitution as a control on what the Church can do, not a license to make it say anything some party wants it to say.

  87. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:18 am

    “Or even better, repent and believe the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Those are the only options for an FV minister in the PCA right now.”

    No, I can do nothing and watch presbytery after presbytery realize there is no basis in the report for questioning anybody’s standing.

    Fortunately, Fred Greco has humbled me recently, so I’ll not comment on your false call to repentance.

  88. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:24 am

    This is what these FV poison merchants want to teach in ‘visible churches':

    http://www.hornes.org/mark/?p=1614

    A deeper question to all is why the devil is so easily able to defile churches and denominations. It’s been hinted at here and there in these threads (not by me), but the cause of all this poisonous doctrine and the individuals who spread it lies not just with the individuals in question. Something about groups always falling to the lowest common denominator within them. It’s the way of the world.

    The Holy Spirit regenerates individuals. They’re called God’s elect. They are the ones the group turns on. Groups dynamics. It’s the way of the world.

    Satan’s filthy, deadly kingdom can’t tolerate individuals.

    Why do ‘visible’ churches default to formalism and moralism an ritualism and clericalism given enough time for the worldly group dynamics to run their course?

    Another deeper question: is it not true that these poison merchants calling themselves ‘New Visionists’ or ‘Federal Visionists’ are merely attacking breaches in the wall of the fortified city that is Reformed Theology, i.e. breaches that shouldn’t be in those walls? They are finding where the Reformation kept too much of the darkness and death of the Roman Beast and are attacking at those points. They are saying: “You can’t say we aren’t one of you! Look at this Beast doctrine you already have here! I can quote one of your revered fathers supporting Beast doctrines!

    On that last point, it’s unfortunate Calvin didn’t take the spirit he had when answering the Romanist/FVist clown Sadoleto into his main writings. When Sadoleto rebuked Calvin on the church issues Calvin shot back that he and all of God’s elect are in the invisible Church of which Christ is King. That was the spirit of the Reformation. That was the spirit of the Word of God.

  89. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:55 am

    Robert K. – You’re quite adept at dismissing the content of Calvin’s quote above and supplanting it with your own notion of what he should have said. This is really are something else! It’s funny – one speaks of corporate regeneration, etc. and guys like Mr. K jump all over ya: “Road to Rome! Road to Rome!” I guess that guy who preached in St. Pierre Cathedral AT LEAST had latent seeds of Romanism in him, huh? That Romanizer, Calvin!
    Robert, the “spirit of the Reformation/Word of God” is not what you say it is just cuz you can say it forcefully and smear other folks. In fact, maybe just the opposite.
    The reality is that your “Calvinism” can’t stand against Calvin – it’s TOO American, sectarian, and individualistic.
    Calvin made room in his thinking for both ecclesiastical soteriology and individual soteriology – you can only seem to handle one. So be it. But please be slow to define centuries of tradition by your exceedingly narrow view.

  90. June 27, 2007 at 1:58 am

    I can’t resist… Mark Horne writes, regarding the Covenant of Works:

    “1. There was a covenant made with Adam that is now superseded.”

    I guess I’m going to be the first one to break the bad news to you, Mark, but the Covenant of Works is still in effect. Yes, of course it’s a curse now because we can’t fulfill it, but it’s still in effect.

    And our only salvation in this dire situation is someone called Jesus Christ. That’s right, Mark. Now you figure the rest out, genius.

  91. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 2:02 am

    Mr. West, It’s clear that Calvin doesn’t define the CoG by what was later called the CoR (or the intra-trinintarian cov’t). If the CoG is defined exclusively be the elect given in eternity from the Father to the Son, the the CoG has no room in it for hypocrites. If, however, the CoG is seen as the historical, covenantal process of gathering the bride (the elect), then there’s room for comments like Calvin’s.
    I’m amazed that if one of the Auburn boys got up and said something like what you quoted above, the “may God have mercy on your soul” would be forthcoming immediately. It seems like a classic case of building up the tombs of the DEAD prophets.

  92. gospelordeath said,

    June 27, 2007 at 4:43 am

    markhorne,

    The bottom line, the PCA has said that the FV’ers don’t believe in the same confession they do. It wasn’t a party of the PCA, it was the WHOLE PCA. The General Assembly voted on how to interpret the confession. Now that is part of the official interpretation of the confession. And your answer is to deflect to technicalities. That’s unfortunate. Here’s the simple fact. FV is not compatible with the Confession according to the PCA who has the authority to speak on it. No individual has the authority to say, “Well, I don’t care, I disagree.” You no longer have that freedom. The GA just took that away from you. You aren’t free to interpret the confession however you want. The church just set boundaries as to how it can be interpreted.

    You can disagree with what the PCA has done here, but you have no authority to circumvent it. Change your mind or leave. That is the position that the GA has put you in, deliberately so.

  93. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:19 am

    No on’s circumventing anything. I’m just pointing out what is Presbyterian polity.

  94. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:22 am

    #87 is an admissiont that Reformed Theology vindicates “FV” after all and needs to be changed to look more anabaptist.

  95. Bret McAtee said,

    June 27, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Robert K,

    You really need to get a hold of Bavinck’s Vol 3 and read his section on Covenant and Election.

    I suspect you’ll conclude that Bavinck was a evil proto-Federal Visionist.

    Robert are you Protestant Reformed?

    Bret

  96. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:36 am

    Michael Dries (#90), do you really think that Mark used “superceded” to mean “no longer in effect in any sense?” Perhaps that is not the only way to read that word? Those critical of FV are getting very tired of being accused of misreading, misunderstanding, uncharitable readings of their opponents, etc. You do your fellows a disservice when you rush into this conversation to make such a tedious (and yet still inaccurate) point.

  97. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Well, Xon, superceded can mean “no longer in effect.” How about Mark clearing that one up for us?

  98. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:53 am

    To those who say that Shawn didn’t really leave the FV because he is not picturing it adequately, I will say this: the FV has thereby shown itself to be as Gnostic a sect as has ever shown itself in the history of the world. Not only can no one understand it who is not in it, but even more than this, those who leave it cannot possibly understand it either (nor could they have understood it when they were “in” it), since they become uninitiated again. This is a desperate attempt on the part of FV guys to hold up their flagging credibility. TR’s would be much more impressed by the FV not resorting to special pleading (the issues Shawn brought up are the very same issues discussed in the PCA report), and instead owning up to a lack of clarity in their formulations, and error in their formulations. Why is it that no FV person will ***ever*** admit to having made an error of judgment and doctrine? The FV claims that the critics don’t ever understand them. Poor, artist-type FV’ers. No one understands them. Well, the thing that impresses TR’s most about the FV is the utter, unbelievable, titanic arrogance of most of the FV guys. They will never admit to a mistake. There is not one single documented example of the FV admitting to an error. Contrast this with many of history’s Reformed theologians, who will often admit to a mistake. Admitting mistakes is just another way of retaining our basic humanity. That makes one wonder about the FV a bit, doesn’t it? There is nothing more irritating to the TR’s and the other critics of the FV than this. I understand perfectly that the FV feels that it is under attack. Well, showing no regard for repentance is a very bad PR move on the part of the FV. They would gain much more credibility if they were to admit to mistakes in doctrine and repent of those mistakes. The more the FV defends themselves, the more the critics will say, “Methinks you protest too much.” It’s bad strategy, aside from being unbiblical in ethos.

  99. Bret McAtee said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:03 am

    Lane,

    There has been more then one time when dealing with someone who left the Reformed faith for aberrant communities where I have had to say to them in response to their proclamations that they ‘used to be Reformed,

    “You were never Reformed because if you had been Reformed and understood Reformational thinking you never would have left.”

    Because of that I guess I can understand FV types saying the same thing.

    Bret

  100. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:13 am

    I was aware of such cases while writing the above post. My point is this: the conclusion to which these guys automatically come (without necessarily even knowing Shawn!) is that he didn’t understand it. And who are they to say that Shawn didn’t understand the FV? Shawn raises the very same issues brought up by the study committee report, and since the FV considers itself orthodox on those points, why then Shawn must have misunderstood it. The problem is that there is another possibility, one which the FV does not accept as possible, or else ignores: that Shawn understood the FV, the FV was wrong, and that was why Shawn left it.

    Bret, what about the arrogance of the FV? Would you care to comment on that?

  101. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Lane (#97), if you acknowledge that “superceded” doesn’t have to mean that, though, then you also have to acknowledge that it is completely inappropriate to condemn Mark by assuming that the one particular reading is what he meant. Sure, if someone wants to ask politely that Mark clear up what he meant, that’s fine. But this is not what Michael Dries did; he simply rushed in to condemn, without (apparently) first considering what Mark’s words meant (and, what’s more, he did this on a matter that wasn’t even directly to the point, which makes this entire rabbit trail tedious, and all so Michael could get a “zing” in)

    The just and proper order cannot go:

    1. Condemn based on a particular reading when other readings are possible.

    2. Ask condemned to “clear up” what he meant.

    Ready-fire-aim!

    As to how we can say that Shawn didn’t understand what FV is about wihtout “knowing” him, this just isn’t so. Do I have to “know” Franky Schaeffer to know that he completely misunderstood the Reformed faith of his father? No, I can know that he missed it by simply reading his representations of it. The misrepresentations of it are objective, “out there” to be observed. Reading motives or getting to know the misrepresenter would be necessary if we wanted some psychological account of why he misunderstood. But I don’t care why he misunderstood FV; I’m just pointing out that he did.

    And, just to press a bit harder, I have trouble believing that you really think this is such a ‘subjective’ sort of thing. The ultimate authority on what FV is about should be the opinion of the FV people themselves. Unless you think that they are just liars when they tell you what charges their batteries.

    When some Arminian says “Calvinists are all about condeming people b/c theiy aren’t predestined; what an ugly theology!” do they understand Calvinism or not? They most undeniably do not. But what if they retort “Well, who are you to say that I don’t understand it? Afterall, my understanding of it seems to be the understanding of several other authorities on my side of the aisle–Dave Hunt, Charles Finney, etc.” Would that be a good response? Is what Calvinists believe up for grabs just because some of its opponents give a misrepresentaiton of it? No, it’s not, right?

    Whether or not Calvinism is true can be debated, but whether or not it holds that we should go around condemning anyone who we don’t think is elect is not. That is not a Calvinist teaching, period. Anyone who says it is is just wrong. Now rinse lather and repeat with Shawn’s situation, and you’ve got where FVers are coming from on this.

  102. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:38 am

    As to the charge of “arrogance,” Lane, this is absurd. If you were accused of fifteen heresies that you didn’t hold, would you “repent” of two of them so that you wouldn’t look “arrogant”?

  103. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Besides, FVers have clarified, retracted, etc., a number of things. But they don’t admit that they are heretics. You got ‘em for “arrogance” on that one, I guess. But what do you really expect?

  104. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2007 at 11:12 am

    The word superseded normally does mean “take the place of,” as you must admit. In fact, the OED does not acknowledge the meaning that you are giving to it. Its meanings are exclusively of a supplanting nature.

    Xon, it begs the question to say that the FV doesn’t hold to certain heresies when concerning the charge of arrogance, since this assumes that the FV’ers are correct when they say that. This is an incorrect assumption. Every heretic who has ever come down the pike has said exactly the same kinds of things about their own beliefs. They all say, “I don’t teach that; you’re misunderstanding me.” Now that the PCA has declared the FV to be outside confessional bounds, and the FV is sidelined (and will be progressively more sidelined), who will hold greater credibility?

  105. June 27, 2007 at 11:35 am

    I’m not FV. In the interests of full disclosure, I am sympathetic with some of their ideas. But what they say about merit is, I think, just plain wrong (though not heretical). And I have more serious concerns about what some of them say about sola fide. But I can see that FV proponents are being badly misrepresented by most of their opponents. I can also see that the “FV theology” represented by Mr. Robinson in this post is not an accurate portrayal of what FV teachers teach. #98 (“the FV has thereby shown itself to be as Gnostic a sect as has ever shown itself in the history of the world. Not only can no one understand it who is not in it, but even more than this, those who leave it cannot possibly understand it either”) is way over the top.

  106. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Really, Christopher? How do you explain then that so many of the critics have misunderstood the FV? Is it a massive conspiracy? Is it idiocy, as Mark Horne has said? Is it slip-shod scholarship on the part of the critics? Is it pure malice? What is it? How come **no** FV critic has **ever** understood the FV?

  107. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Except that McCartney just said that he is a critic of FV, Lane.

    Your straw man is causing you to do that which you falsely accuse others of doing, I think. You now think that anyone who thinks that FV is often misunderstood isn’t really a critic. To be a critic, you must entirely reject it as heresy.

    And, again, you are trying to have your cake and eat it to. If it is ridiculous for FVers to think that all (the vast majority) of their critics misunderstand them, then it is just ridiculous for you to claim that all FVers are wrong when they say this. How do you explain that so many FVers have felt they are misunderstood, Lane? Is it a massive conspiracy? Is it idiocy, as such-and-such has said? Is it slip-shod scholarship on the part of the FVers? Is it pure malice? What is it? How come **no** FVer has **ever** granted that they really are heretics after all?

  108. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    And this paragraph, I’m afraid, is a complete removal of the goalposts to another stadium and another sport:

    Xon, it begs the question to say that the FV doesn’t hold to certain heresies when concerning the charge of arrogance, since this assumes that the FV’ers are correct when they say that. This is an incorrect assumption. Every heretic who has ever come down the pike has said exactly the same kinds of things about their own beliefs. They all say, “I don’t teach that; you’re misunderstanding me.” Now that the PCA has declared the FV to be outside confessional bounds, and the FV is sidelined (and will be progressively more sidelined), who will hold greater credibility?

    Suddenly we’re counting heads and determining what is true based on who has more ‘credibility.’

    My argument does not ‘beg the question,’ because I’m not assuming that FVers really aren’t heretics. I am assuming that they don’t think they are heretics, which is (presumably) true. You want them to just “give a little” and “admit” to some of their mistakes, but the problem is that you have defined their mistakes as heresy. If you wanted to ask them to admit that they have not always been perfectly clear, a number of them have already admitted to that mistake. But you are demaning they admit to an even higher level mistake, and to that they won’t admit becuase they don’t think they’ve committed it. How is this arrogance?

    “I walked out without paying the check, sorry. My friend and I got confused as to who was going to pay. We got halfway home and realized that neither of us had paid. So I’m here to make things even.”

    “Well, I’m glad you’re here, b/c it will make it easier to arrest you for heading up a thieving gang.”

    “What? I’ve done no such thing? I just made this one mistake, and I’m trying to make it righ!”

    “Why, you arrogant son-of-a-gun. Why can’ t you just admit that someone else’s charges have you pegged?”

    Through the looking glass….

    Ironically (a pattern in this thread for some reason), this charge of “begging the question” can be much more credibly turned against you, Lane. You are the one, after all, who is calling men ‘arrogant’ simply b/c they won’t admit to any of your charges against them. Which assumes that all of your charges are indeed accurate. (Unless you think that denial simpliciter, even if innocent, constitutes arrogance?)

  109. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Oops, the penultimate sentence of 108 should read “Which assumes that at least one of your charges is indeed accurate.”

  110. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    I agree with Mr. McCartney, too. PART of the reason that anti-FV folks continually misunderstand is that they’re so stinkin’ emotional. (Same problem in most controversy, actually.) I think your comments are a bit over the top, too, Pastor Lane. However, you (along with everyone else) have identified a bit of a victim mentality among FV folks. That mentality naturally arises from being misrepresented so consistently. Also, remember that I’M NOT FV, though I am sympathetic at points.
    Also, to say that intellectual humility and repentence is a mark of Reformed scholarship historically seems like a joke to me. Maybe I’m not too familliar with Reformed historical theology, though.

  111. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    And, finally:

    The word superseded normally does mean “take the place of,” as you must admit

    And “take the place of” does not mean “annihilate”. Jacob supplantd Esau as the inheritor of Isaac’s fortune and as the chosen seed. But Esau still lived out a long life and had a nation, too.

    Michael D. rebuked Mark on the grounds that the CoW is “still in effect.” But “supplanting” something–taking its place–dose not mean that the supplanted thing disappears or is done away with entirely. It means it is replaced: something else comes into fill its former role and it takes on a new role. The CoW is still in effect for all who are disobedient (bummer for them!), but it has been supplanted by the CoG as the highest and most important covenantal arrangement between God and man.

  112. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Xon, it’s a good example having a mind set to FIND SOMETHING WRONG. It’s John-Robbins style scholarship. He’ll comb over a paragraph with fine-tooth fro pick until he can nit pick something out to be critical of. Don’t matter if the nit he picks is 400 yards from the substance of the author’s point! Frankly, it’s a non-charitable way of dealing with folks, and it’s quite disheartening to see so much of it. However, it’s not just anti-FV folks who do it. We all need to increase our charity in controversial discussion.

  113. Bret McAtee said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Lane,

    I have so often been accused of being arrogant (of course I don’t believe I am) that I hardly qualify as one who should speak to other people’s alleged arrogance.

    Lane do you own the Bavinck series on Dogmatics?

    Bavinck, in volume 3 says some interesting things about the relationship between covenant and election. Things that could sound a bit like the pale ale version of FV.

    Bret

    p.s. — Please don’t anybody respond by trying to tell me that Bavinck isn’t FV. I already know that. I am only suggesting that the way he speaks about the relationship between covenant and election is interesting given the debate the True Church is in the midst of.

  114. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Bret, Calvin says things that are periously close to being roundly condemned by his “followers.” It reminds me a bit of the scene in The Brothers Karamazov where the Russian Orthodox clergy have Jesus on trail – and banish him from their church – a brilliant piece, by the way. You should all read it.
    We ought to commit to the idea that breadth of our own intellectual/theological tradition is often far greater than that of our own thinking. If we could nail that idea down, there be fewer H-bombs droppin’.

  115. A. Dollahite said,

    June 27, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    WARNING: the Following comments could be considered “Off Topic”, but I just couldn’t resist this time.

    Lane (et al.),

    Speaking of mistakes to be ‘fessed up to, I was curious if anyone knows where I can find the official explanation for what had appeared to be an egregious misrepresentation of Doug Wilson that was removed from the PCA report. I remember being told that it would be fully explained at the GA, which I watched online, and never saw. But, it’s also very likely I just missed that part, so any help finding it would be appreciated. Thanks.

  116. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    I posted it on Doug Wilson’s blog. It’s on one of the most recent posts of his.

  117. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Who reads THAT guy’s blog?

  118. A. Dollahite said,

    June 27, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    RE: #116 – Thanks, I’ll go look for it.

  119. A. Dollahite said,

    June 27, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Lane,

    I read your explanation and accept it at face value. Basically, they made an honest mistake. I’m just curious, why didn’t you just say this the first time. Seriously, why all the “wait until GA and everything will be explained” business? At that time the discussion included (and continues to include) back and forth assertions about whether the FV has been misunderstood or misrepresented in official reports. Since Doug was in fact misrepresented (albeit unintentionally) the unwillingness at the time to simply admit the mistake comes across as a political calculation to avoid admitting that mistake. FWIW, I’m glad to know that the mistake was found and fixed.

  120. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Well, I don’t think you can interpret it that way, since the mistake was removed. Isn’t that an admission that a mistake was made? Does it have to be spelled out any clearer than that?

    I’m not going to answer the other question (though it is a good one). In order to answer it, I might have to compromise things I do not wish to compromise.

  121. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    “Bret, Calvin says things that are periously close to being roundly condemned by his “followers.” It reminds me a bit of the scene in The Brothers Karamazov where the Russian Orthodox clergy have Jesus on trail”

    You might want to re-read what you written here and question your assumptions. Reformed Christians have Scripture as our authority, not man.

    Having said that, Calvin is the victim of the FVists here. He is quoted out-of-context endlessly and taken to be the ally of people who he would have considered too ridiculous to have deserved a serious response in his day.

    If you want to start claiming Calvin as being partial to Romanism/FVism do yourself a favor (or just be intellectually honest) and read his response to Sadoleto.

  122. A. Dollahite said,

    June 27, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Lane,

    Three things.

    1) Thanks for interacting on this point.

    2) No, I don’t think removing something from a report clearly or automatically means it was a mistake. People edit things out of reports for many purposes, and unless they tell me why, I can’t know or judge their motives for removing something. And at the time, the argument had been that the FV was not being misunderstood or misrepresented in the official reports. The implication was that the “perceived” misrepresentations and mistakes would be shown to be something other than mistakes and misrepresentations.

    3) I’m not sure which question of mine you are not going to answer. I’m assuming you are referring to this one: “Seriously, why all the “wait until GA and everything will be explained” business?” If I can be frank, your silence suggests something sinister or conspiratorial, when I’m quite sure that neither are motivating you. But, it’s your prerogative to keep whatever it is to yourself.

  123. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Calvin’s definition of the Church in his reply to Sadolet:

    “Now, if you can bear to receive a truer definition of the Church than your own, say, in future, that it is the society of all the saints, a society which, spread over the whole world, and existing in all ages, yet bound together by the one doctrine and the one Spirit of Christ, cultivates and observes unity of faith and brotherly concord.”

    This is Calvin the soldier of Christ in the midst of war with the legions of Satan’s army in a period of history called the Reformation. Calvin is here describing the Church of which Christ is King. Not a church whose paint you can gnaw off with your teeth (as Doug Wilson might put it).

    Go ahead, read Calvin’s reply to Sadoleto and see Calvin as he was, a soldier of Christ doing battle with the legions of the devil. The Calvin that would be called ‘gnostic’ and ‘pietistic’ and ‘individualistic’ by the FVist who so love to quote him out-of-context to fool their followers…

  124. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Robert, I’ll admit that I’ve not read Calvin’s response to that rascally Papist. However, I’d take Calvin’s little letter you’ve quoted above, I don’t know to what end, in the VAST corpus of his writing. What I mean is that of the over 70 volumes that we have of his writing do you think he might have elaborated a little more on his ecclesiology than in that little letter to Sadoleto so early in his career?

    I won’t even dispute you that Calvin’s taken out of context and used for people’s own ends. That’s certainly the case. However, I have read a lot of Calvin and I’ve tried to read him honestly. The theses I’ve written on his theology I’ve tried to research carefully. So, I’m not slouch. Calvin continually rocks my world – he says things that I wouldn’t think Reformed folk said. Some of those things fall along the lines of what some FV guys are saying.

    As to your comment about my reference to Dostoevsky’s book, I don’t have the foggiest what you meant.

  125. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    When you are reading Calvin’s reply to Sadoleto you are reading Calvin as soldier if Christ, on the field of battle, in the very midst of battle, in direct confrontation with a representative of the devil who was at the time making a direct attempt to pull the people of Geneva back into the Kingdom of Satan. This is not the Calvin of the study or the pulpit. When you read Calvin’s reply to Sadoleto, written as a soldier of Christ in the war of the Reformation who was away from that particular front line, Geneva, and having a pressing feeling regarding his responsibility to defend that front line, you are reading the Reformer in his raw essence. He is in direct confrontation with a high representive of antichrist, a wolf at the very boundary of the people of Geneva, and he is giving the devil’s representative the full armory of what God’s people had recovered from the Word of God by the Holy Spirit.

    I.e., not just on the issue of the definition of Church, but on justification by faith alone and a host of other doctrines that were central Calvin is seen to revert to what is the true defense against the devil. Sadoleto says Church, using ‘church’ in all the antichrist, man-centered ways Romanists use ‘church’ and Calvin doesn’t respond with “Yes, I agree, in a sense, but…” or with the careful qualifications of the fourth book of his Institutes, he plainly states the definition quoted above. Which is what Reformed believers who FVists call ‘gnostic’ and ‘individualistic’ state as well. Because we know these things in our heart by the power of the Holy Spirit within us, given to us by Christ Himself.

  126. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Sadoleto’s letter and Calvin’s reply are a pure primary document to study and use in this debate with FVists because FVists play the Sadoleto role so purely while at the same time attempting to appropriate Calvin to their side. Think of this Alince-in-Wonderland maneuver by the FVists as you read Sadoleto’s letter and Calvin’s reply.

  127. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Robert, you place WAY to much weight on that single little letter. That is obvious to anyone who’s reading this. That’s not to say that it has no place in the consideration of Calvin’s doct of the church/justifcation or whatever else. But to anchor your understanding of Calvin’s massive and intricate theology on one small letter early in his career is, how does Montgomery Burns say?, tom foolery. You might reconsider your excessively elevated and spiritualized view of that letter and you might tone down your rhetoric against serious FV scholars who’ve read more Calvin that you and I put together times two (that does not include all FVers, by the way).

    I will give that letter a read – I’d like to tell you I’ll do it tonight, but I have some serious doubts about that. However, I will get to it.

  128. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    The above is the first defense against a document FVists have to, shall we say, strip the maleness from.

    Calvin in his career as a theologian is rather famous for having been given rather full understanding very early. He wrote his Institutes at 26 and though they grew in content they didn’t ‘evolve’ in doctrine. Calvin was 30 years old when he penned the response to Sadoleto.

    And the letter to Sadoleto is unique in all of his writing in that, as I’ve stated twice now, it represents Calvin as soldier of Christ in the very midst of battle with the Kingdom of Death. As I stated, this is not the Calvin of the study or the pulpit, it is the Calvin on spiritual ground where the forces of light and darkness meet directly.

    And, I’ve read your Wilson and your Leithart. They are juvenile delinquents, kind of what you would expect from philosophy and English majors with pretentious self-estimates of their own intellectual attainments and capabilities. Wake up.

  129. Vern Crisler said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Re: #84

    Terry said:

    “I would like to interject this quote from Calvin in light of the discussion between Vern, Tim and Xon. What do you guys think of Calvin’s langauge here in regards to the covenant of grace.”

    [Calvin] …”for the covenant of grace is common to hypocrites and true believers.”

    ——-
    Hi Terry,

    Do you have a full citation for this? What is “Deut”? Does he say this in his Institutes, too? In actuality, if these are Calvin’s words, and he really meant the “covenant of grace” per se, he is in error. In fact this is not so much an FV error as it is the basic error of certain brands of covenant theology. Contrary to this view, however, the COG is made only with the elect, those who are given a new heart. Only in a loose sense can the COG be said to have been made with church goers in general.

    Calvin may have been speaking somewhat loosely, equating the COG with the institutional aspect of the church, impossible to do in a strict sense. The COG is not an external, national covenant, as was the covenant with Israel. It is a Spiritual covenant, with a Spiritual nation, made up of those who are of the faith of Abraham.

    Still, you’ve gotten me interested in going back to Calvin’s discussion of the church, to see how much he can really be counted on to support FV distinctives. I seriously doubt, however, that good ol’ Calvin can be used to support the ecclesiocentric notions of FV.

    Vern

  130. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Robert – I’m afraid that we’re making no progress. What was Calvin doing with the rest of his life when we wasn’t writing that letter to Sadoleto, that is, *sound dramatic music now* when he wasn’t “in the very midst of battle with the Kingdom of Death”? Was he just playing footsie the rest of the time? All his other writing against Rome… what was that? “Nothing!!!” You might respond, “because, because, because… ya know, that letter to Sadoleto was real manly like and, oh yeah!, Calvin was at that time and that time alone a MIGHT WARRIOR fighting the black horde of Satan’s halitosis-havin’ wielders of death (and all the rest)….”

    Enough is enough, sir.

  131. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    You mock these things because you don’t yet value the faith at the point where it become eternal life and eternal death. The Spirit is required for that valuation.

  132. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    “Do you remember what kind of time it was when our Reformers appeared, and what kind of doctrine candidates for the ministry learned in the schools? You yourself know that it was mere sophistry, and sophistry so twisted, involved, tortuous, and puzzling, that scholastic theology might well be described as a species of secret magic. The denser the darkness in which any one shrouded a subject, the more he puzzled himself and others with preposterous riddles, the greater his fame for acumen and learning. And when those who had been formed in that forge wished to carry the fruit of their learning to the people with what skill, I ask, did they edify the Church?”

    FVists, playing the Sadoloto role purely, want to go back to this “sophistry so twisted, involved, tortuous, and puzzling”, and indeed despise Reformed Theology’s systematic simplicity and elegance in elucidating, uncompromised to the demands of fallen man, the faith once delivered.

  133. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Vern, it seems that you might be operating under the assumption that Calvin has definitions of terms (CoG, etc.) that he clearly does not. The phrase CoG can refer sometimes to that eternal intra-trinitarian covenant (thus, with ONLY the eternally elect in view). It can also apply to the succession of covenants in history and that with a visible body.
    You said that, “The COG is not an external, national covenant, as was the covenant with Israel. It is a Spiritual covenant, with a Spiritual nation, made up of those who are of the faith of Abraham.” I’m sure I don’t agree. The historical succession of covenants includes the Old Covenant (with it’s various administrations) and the New Covenant. Thus, the CoG includes what you say it does not.
    It seems, however, that you mean that the NC is not like the OC in that it is now internal, etc. I couldn’t agree with even that. The NC is both internal and external, just as was the OC. WCF 7:5-6 do a good job of comparing OC and NC. Never once does it say that the old was “external” while the new is “internal.” I find that such thinking leads to a pretty rigorous baptist understanding of the NC. Maybe we can discuss these things further later; I gotta go change a poopy diaper!

  134. greenbaggins said,

    June 28, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Andy, it’s not conspiratorial. Of course, you have just my word on that. You are correct in the question that I’m not going to answer. The reason I’m not going to answer it is that too many people would have to give me permission to say it.

  135. Vern Crisler said,

    June 28, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Re: #133,

    Tim said: “The historical succession of covenants includes the Old Covenant (with it’s various administrations) and the New Covenant. Thus, the CoG includes what you say it does not.”

    Again, IMO, this is the basic error of strong versions of covenant theology. The old covenant was not a covenant of grace. It was a conditional covenant, with the nation of Israel as the party expected to keep its conditions. In the OT, the Abrahamic covenant is the (official) covenant of grace.

    Vern

  136. June 28, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Vern,

    #84 was from Calvin’s commentary on Deuteronomy 32.6. It’s found in the “Harmony of the Law” volume 4, under “Song of Moses”. Here is the link:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom06.iii.i.html

    If you thought that was interesting look at this section below from one of Calvin’s sermons on Deuteronomy:

    “Behold our Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of glory, abased himself for a time, as says S. Paul Now if there were no more but this, that he being the fountain of life, became a mortal man, and that he having dominion over the angels of heaven, took upon him the shape of a servant, yea even to shed his blood for our redemption, and in the end to suffer the curse that was due unto us (Gal 3:13): were it convenient that notwithstanding all this, he should nowadays in recompense be torn to pieces, by stinking mouths of such as name themselves Christians? For when they swear by his blood, by his death, by his wounds and by whatsoever else: is it not a crucifying of God’s son again as much as in them lies, and as a rending of him in pieces? And are not such folk worthy to be cut of from God’s Church, yea, and even from the world, and to be no more numbered in the array of creatures? Should our Lord Jesus have such reward at our hands, for his abasing and humbling of himself after that manner? (Mich 6:30) God in upbraiding his people says thus: My people, what have I done to you? I have brought you out of Egypt, I have led you up with all gentleness and loving-kindness, I have planted you as it were in my own inheritance, to the intent you should have been a vine that should have brought me forth good fruit, and I have tilled thee and manured thee: and must thou now be bitter to me, and bring forth sower fruit to choke me withal? The same belongs to us at this day. For when the son of God, who is ordained to be judge of the world (John 5:22), shall come at the last day: he may well say to us: how now Sirs? You have borne my name, you have been baptised in remembrance of me and record that I was your redeemer, I have drawn you out of the dungeons where into you were plunged, I delivered you from endless death by suffering most cruel death myself, and for the same cause I became man, and submitted myself even to the curse of GOD my father, that you might be blessed by my grace and by my means: and behold the reward that you have yielded me for all this, is that you have (after a sort) torn me in pieces and made a jestingstock of me, and the death that I suffered for you has been made a mockery among you, the blood which is the washing and cleansing of your souls has been as good as trampled under your feet, and to be short, you have taken occasion to ban and blaspheme me, as though I had been some wretched and cursed creature. When the sovereign judge shall charge us with these things, I pray you will it not be as thundering upon us, to ding us down to the bottom of hell? Yes: and yet are there very few that think upon it.” Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 33, 5:11, p., 196.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Terry W. West

  137. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Vern, you might be right that the OC is not an administration of the CoG, but that is certainly not a Reformed position. In my opinion, it also has some very significant flaws in light of Scripture.

    Hebrews certianly labors that the substance of the OC and NC are the same, but that the OC was administered under heavier types. Paul, in Rom 3-4, argues that Christ (the substance of the CoG) and our access to him and his riches (faith) has been the same throughout. Also, 1 Cor 10 is a death blow, as Paul likens the OC directly to the NC with respect to substance, but also with respect to covenantal function.

    These are just a sampling of passages the render a robust covenant theology.

  138. Tim Wilder said,

    June 28, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Re: 135

    Vernon Crisler said:

    “Again, IMO, this is the basic error of strong versions of covenant theology. The old covenant was not a covenant of grace. It was a conditional covenant, with the nation of Israel as the party expected to keep its conditions. In the OT, the Abrahamic covenant is the (official) covenant of grace.”

    Aren’t you a New Covenant Theology guy? You don’t claim to be confessional, do you?

  139. markhorne said,

    June 28, 2007 at 10:50 am

    #96: Xon, I don’t think it is worth responding some times to people who are obviously working overtime to generate accusations. The only point is to talk to people who have not already become zealots. And they will see that sort of thing for what it is.

  140. Robert K. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 11:36 am

    >Robert are you Protestant Reformed?

    I’m Protestant by default because that is the biblical position. I’ve five solas by default because that is the biblical position. I’m doctrines of grace by default because that is the biblical position. I’m Covenant/Federal Theology overall because that is the biblical position. I am not sacramentalist and that is because the Bible doesn’t teach or command that. I am not dogmatic on church polity and that is because the Bible isn’t. For the delicate issues of law and gospel see Petrus Dathenus’ Pearl of Christian Comfort, he elucidates the biblical teaching. On the foundation of regeneration and justification I actively seek communion with Christ by following the teachings of Christ at the practical (i.e. non-talk-talk) level. And that doesn’t equal moralism and/or lukewarmism in thought, words, and deeds.)

  141. Xon said,

    June 28, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    Mark, thanks and I agree with you about trying not to waste time. But I don’t know Michael D. at all, and have never seen him comment before. So, though his rhetoric indicated he had already chosen a side, I don’t know for sure that he is unreachable. Plus, sometimes I think it does help other observers to have such blatant errors pointed out. “Oh, good, I’m not crazy. He thought the same thing when he read that comment!”

    But when I get the idea that someone is not even trying to have an actual conversation, but only act as a printbot for whatever “hard core” position they’re taking (and loving it), I’ll shut’er down. In a heartbeat.

  142. Vern Crisler said,

    June 28, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    I think we are getting a little off point. I brought up the subject of covenant theology in order to show that the quotation from Calvin underdetermined the issues between Reformed and FV views. I was not meaning to launch a whole new thread on covenant theology. For my views on that please see,

    http://vernerable.tripod.com/id6.html

    On the question of New Covenant theology, if I understand it correctly, it denies the validity of the 10 commandments. If that’s a fair interpretation of their views, I cannot accept NC theology. On the subject of confessions, I regard confessions as advisory only (and very good), but they are not (formally) binding on any Christian. Again, however, this is off track for this particular discussion.

    Vern

  143. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Vern, what do you mean by “underdetermined the issues”?
    The first paragraph of #133 was trying to indicate that your defs and usage of key terms and phrases may differ widely from Calvin’s. Specifically, you define CoG quite differently from Calvin. So, reading your definition back into him and using it as leverage against FV interps of Calvin isn’t kosher.

  144. Vern Crisler said,

    June 28, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    By “underdetermined” I mean that covenant theology and the federal vision do not disagree on what Calvin was saying. So the idea that the covenant of grace contains believers and unbelievers does not determine who’s right or wrong, since this view is agreed to by both parties.
    Vern

  145. Robert K. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Determining the covenant theology of the Westminster Standards by the language of Calvin is intellectually and historically disingenuous to begin with.

  146. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    RK, I wonder if you meant the other way around? I think it’s more plausible to say that Calvin had an effect on the language of the Westminster Standards than to say that the WSs had an effect on Calvin.

    Maybe what you wrote is what you meant. If so, that’s a curious statement.

    A further thought: If reading Calvin though the verbal lens of later theological discourse is disingenuous, I wonder how that effects out study of the theology of the Bible. We can’t talk for 2 minutes without introducing theological/philosophical terminology that is quite specialized and, to that extent, probably quite foreign to the Bible itself. I think, although I’ve not read it, that this point was brought out in Leithart’s _Against Christianity_.

  147. Robert K. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    I WRITE:
    >Determining the covenant theology of the Westminster Standards by the language of Calvin is intellectually and historically disingenuous to begin with.

    TIM PRUSSIC RESPONDS:
    >RK, I wonder if you meant the other way around? I think it’s more plausible to say that Calvin had an effect on the language of the Westminster Standards than to say that the WSs had an effect on Calvin.

    Whatever school you graduated from I would return there and get your money back.

  148. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    HEHE… you’re a card.

    I would argue that Calvin’s language on every aspect of theology had great bearing on the formulations of Westminster. You, however, seem to have contorted what has gone above. That is, it seems to me that Vern’s applying definitions of words/phrases that were later historical developments. At the schools from which I’ve graduated, they called that fallacy anachronism. You, in your vast perception, turned it on its head and spoke of determining Westminster’s theology by Calvin’s langague. THAT’s why I though maybe you wrote your idea backwards.

    Also, as I expected, humor’s lost on your type. But, wait, maybe not. That last comment of yours was a little funny.

  149. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    Vern, I think I understand and I think I agree…
    Do you think that FV folk have taken extended passages (like the one above) in Calvin out of context? What are your thoughts?

  150. Robert K. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    “Ha ha, God, you say our works can’t save us; but in our kingdom, where man is the measure (and I think we have enough intellectuals of high standing in the world to back us up, not to mention we actually have a sense of humor — and drink more beer!), we think we can do just fine with our own works. And we have more fun! Ha ha hee!!”

    Be greatful the Living God is a God of long-suffering.

  151. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    I’m most gratetul to the Living God for his patience- I need it.
    I’m also grateful for humor and beer – we could all use a bit more of both of these.

  152. Robert K. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    It’s great that you’re pro-humor, Tim. There must be something about the Federal Vision that causes it’s adherents to announce they are actually for humor. Probably the moralistic doctrine of works righteousness…

  153. Vern Crisler said,

    June 28, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Re: #149

    Tim said: “Vern, I think I understand and I think I agree…
    Do you think that FV folk have taken extended passages (like the one above) in Calvin out of context? What are your thoughts?”

    _______
    Don’t know; what with trying to follow all the Paris Hilton news, I’ve sort of lost track of what was being discussed. Even al-Qaida, in between bombings, was asking about the latest news on Par–

    ….I think the point I was making was that quoting Calvin’s views did not prove anything distinctive about FV, since the same view is held by non-FV covenant theologians.

    I personally disagree with Calvin if he means COG in the strict sense, but if he’s using COG in a loose sense, then no problemo.

    Vern

  154. Robert K. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    The monkey, he laughs more than the lion. Does the lion have less joy? The monkey pulls at parts of his body and laughs. He jumps up and down and waves his arms and laughs. Does a king have less joy?

    Christian, are you a lion or a monkey?

  155. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Robert K., with your usual penetration, you’ve seen to the bottom of the Federal Vision – please write a book. You’re not going to slam me for liking beer?? How broad minded of you! A card, indeed.

    Vern, that was funny. Are you sure you’re not FV, holding to a moralistic doctrine of works righteousness? Admiration of humor is tell tale that you’re “on the road to Rome.”

    Seriously, though, I don’t know that was Calvin said above is held by non-FV theologians. ISTM that it’s probably a smaller percentage than you might think who would say that all in the visible church: “are indiscriminately said to be renewed and regenerated” in a broad, external, and covenantal sense. When FV guys said something akin to this, people jumped all over them for breaking apart the ordo salutis, denying the Reformation, and (along with my funny self) heading back to take some pulls off the Ponifical teat (that’s like the water cooler for funny people).

  156. Vern Crisler said,

    June 28, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Hi Tim,

    As I understand the issue between covenant theology and FV, the latter absord decretal theology into covenantal theology. Hyper-calvinists absorb covenant theology into decretal theology. In contrast, most Reformed people appear to want to strike a proper (scriptural) balance between decretal and covenantal theology.

    At least that’s what I think. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it. :-)

    Vern

  157. Xon said,

    June 29, 2007 at 7:30 am

    Vern, by “absorb into” do you mean “annhialate”? So that those who “absorb” decretal into covenantal theology (i.e., FVers) have actually gotten rid of decretal theology entirely? Or is there more like an “emphasis” thing, in your opinion?

  158. tim prussic said,

    June 29, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Vern, you might be onto something… Wilson speaks of covenant as a lens through which we view the eternal decree. I don’t know that I’d use the “absorb” for the reason that Xon picked up – it could indicate that for FVers that the decretal stuff is gone and not thought of.

  159. Vern Crisler said,

    June 29, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Hi Xon, I guess it depends on the particular FV proponent. Some may be more “objective” than others, some less so. Leithart is pretty objective. He says,

    “I do believe that baptism, because it is the solemn admission of the baptized into the visible church, gives the baptized a share in the salvation that is realized/being realized in/as the visible church. Since the church simply IS the body of the living Christ, baptism into the church is baptism into union with Him.”
    (http://www.leithart.com/archives/001180.php)

    Here, Leithart equates the VISIBLE

  160. Vern Crisler said,

    June 29, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Hi Xon, I guess it depends on the particular FV proponent. Some may be more “objective” than others, some less so. Leithart is pretty objective. He says,

    “I do believe that baptism, because it is the solemn admission of the baptized into the visible church, gives the baptized a share in the salvation that is realized/being realized in/as the visible church. Since the church simply IS the body of the living Christ, baptism into the church is baptism into union with Him.”
    (http://www.leithart.com/archives/001180.php)

    Here, Leithart equates the VISIBLE church with the body of Christ. The visible church SIMPLY is the body of Christ. And he speaks of “salvation” being realized in the visible church. This is absorption with a vengeance, IMO.

    Vern

  161. tim prussic said,

    June 29, 2007 at 10:28 am

    To be fair to Leithart, that’s not ALL there is to say about the connection ‘twixt the visible church and the body of Christ. Just to stop there and say “that’s what Leithart thinks” is a little misleading. For instance, he also deals with that visible body of people historically and sees the visible congregation equal to (head for head) the eternally elect in the last day. So, that’s not absorption with a vengeance… but it is a different lens through which to view the historical church and the invisible church. Both, however, are present in his though.

  162. Xon said,

    June 29, 2007 at 10:30 am

    But God decrees, from the foundation of the world, solely by His inscrutable grace and not based on anything within the creature, whether or not you are giong to be united to this visible body of Christ, and for how long. So how does this ‘absorb’ the decree? The visible institution of the Church is the ordinary means by which God brings about everlasting salvation for the elect. They don’t ‘get saved’ in a historical vacuum; they ‘get saved’ by being brought into the place where Christ is present in Word and Sacrament. But this only happens for them b/c God decreed it. ??

  163. Vern Crisler said,

    June 29, 2007 at 11:20 am

    The visible church simply IS the body of Christ, says Leithart. There is no slack there for “ordinarily.” How can you get more non-decretal than that?
    Vern

  164. Xon said,

    June 29, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Well, even if we dropped ordinarily (which I’m not convinced Leithart would want to do), this still doesn’t preclude the decretal.

    I guess I’m just not following the disassociation you are making between decretal and covenantal. There is no reason to oppos them; God’s decrees are worked out in historical/covenantal existence.

    Suppose that Leithart believed that the only people who go to Heaven are those who get hit in the head by meteors, or those who join the Kiwanis club, or whatever other silliness we want to go with. This would have its own problems, obviously, but it would not in any way be an attack on the “decretal” side of things. Because God decrees who joins the Kiwanis club and who doesn’t. God decrees who gets hit in the head by meteors and who doesn’t. Etc.

  165. Robert K. said,

    June 29, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Xon and cohorts: you’ll never fool God’s elect. Why don’t you spam internet sites with more foolable Christians on them. Wouldn’t your king prefer you use your time more profitably?

  166. tim prussic said,

    June 29, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    But, Robert K., I really prefer to work my deeds of darkness here on Pastor Lane’s blog. Spamming seems so impersonal, and I like to dialogue my heterodox, soul-damning ideas here. But.. thanks anyway for the advise. Take care, now.

  167. Robert K. said,

    June 29, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    But surely you know you’ll never turn Green Baggins into an FVist? Nor any of the others here who aren’t your fellow chorus.

    Let me suggest a reason you perhaps don’t want to go elsewhere where there are actual foolable Christians: it’s because they are already in the camp of darkness. And you would just come across as another generic liberal Christian with liberal doctrine. And that’s no fun.

    Still though the vanity (emptiness) of your effort and activity can’t be escaped.

  168. tim prussic said,

    June 29, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Oh, Robert K., that’s where you’re wrong …. BOO HAAA HAAA HAAA! Green Baggins is MINE; MINE I tell you! BOO HAAA HAAA HAAA!

  169. Vern Crisler said,

    June 29, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Another objectivist:

    Rich Lusk in “Covenant & Election” says:

    “But we cannot peer into the eternal decrees of God to see his roll of chosen ones. Nor do we have spiritual X-ray vision (‘cardio-analytic abilities’, as one theologian puts it) that allows us to gaze into the depths of our hearts to see if we are really regenerate.”

    “Apostasy is a real possibility for all covenant members, and is to be warned against. But corporate election is the context in which special election is worked out. There is indeed an election with an election (cf. Rom. 9:6), but for pastoral purposes, the two can and must be collapsed into one another. Thus, we are to regard all who are baptized and bear Christ’s name as God’s chosen ones. We can derive real assurance from our participation in the covenant community. Looking at election through the lens of the covenant ‘brings election down to earth,’ so to speak. It makes election tangible.”
    (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/rich-lusk/covenant-election-faqs)
    —–

    Hmmm, must be collapsed into one another….Sounds
    like absorption to me–all based on a supposed epistemological limtation.

    Vern

  170. tim prussic said,

    June 29, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    It’s strange it sounds that way, Vern. It seems like he’s saying EXACTLY what I said the FV guys have said: we VIEW eternal election through the lens of covenant membership. There’s no denial of eternal election, but a clear affirmation of it with a confession that we don’t have access to the list. But we do have access to covenant membership – also called elect (in a different sense). In history, he argues, we VIEW the former through the latter, while affirming the reality of both.

    I have to think that your term ‘absorption’ means that we lose one thing into another, that is, we don’t have the first anymore. It seems that Lusk is saying we should, in history, view one through the other, not lose one in the other.

    As far as a “supposed empistemoloigcal limitation,” are you not so limited?

  171. Robert K. said,

    June 29, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    Look at this from a very petulant and dark Mark Horne:

    “And by the way, the efforts of people trying do defend themselves from denominationally sanctioned libel (the nefarious act of mailing out the thirty questions) does not compare to the stacked committee in the first place. A rag tag group of people tried to resist the violence of the empire. And they didn’t succeed.

    Yet.”

    “[V]iolence of the empire.” That would be, implicity, an “evil” empire. Horne considers, like an angry young kool-aid marinaded Jesuit, Protestantism and, worse, the apostolic biblical doctrine that is actually believed and taught, to be the evil empire. And the ominous space before his threatened “Yet.”

    This man-child simply needs to be shown the door.

    Calvinists who still like a good debate and want to engage him need to do it across the divide (the Tiber), not in-house.

  172. tim prussic said,

    June 29, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    BOO HAAA HAAA HAAA!

  173. Robert K. said,

    June 29, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Tim, what is your opinion of the Roman Catholic church, in history, and today?

  174. tim prussic said,

    June 29, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    That’s kind of an open ended question.
    Regarding doctrines of theology and christology – the RCC’s been outstanding historically. In modern times, not as good. Regarding doctrines of soteriology, they’ve been opposed to the gospel of free grace in Christ alone. Regarding their ecclesiology, they’ve been sectarian and schismatic. I think her unity is fake – as they have all the same breadth of craziness as does Protestantism, but they feign unity. That kind of unity spawns vicious political battles in the church.
    Since Trent, I think the RCC has officially been against the gospel. Vat II just made things worse, that is, all the same old problems updated into modern liberal categories of thought – no improvement there.

    All in all, I’m not too friendly toward Rome. I do think that in some ways she’s stood for the truth, but in far too many ways she’s opposed the truth. I think that in her current state, she apostate. I also think she imperil’s men’s souls and should therefore be opposed.

    That’s a start, anyway. Whaddya say, Robert K.?

  175. Robert K. said,

    June 29, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    >”Regarding doctrines of theology and christology – the RCC’s been outstanding historically.”

    Really? You don’t think putting man in the place of the one Mediator – Jesus Christ – kind of effects their ‘christology’? Not to mention dead people.

    >”Since Trent, I think the RCC has officially been against the gospel.”

    Prior to that keeping the Word of God from any who fell under her whorish tyranny didn’t make her officially against the Gospel?

    I’m not trying to interrogate, you can believe anything you like about the RCC, I was just curious to get a take on your visceral assessment of the Beast.

    Personally, I find myself having to take the position that everyday lay people in the RCC are not necessarily worthy of the condemnation their leadership and apologists are very worthy of. I regard them as current slaves of the devil and the devil’s kingdom, but in the same way atheists in no church are. Yet they can be regenerated by the Word and the Spirit (or event the Spirit alone!) despite being in the direct domain of the Beast.

    One will never die to the law, though, thinking one can save themselves to any degree by doing the law. And one has to die to the law before one can come alive in Christ.

    It’s a very rare thing for a human being to die to the law. Protestants have as much trouble with it as Roman Catholics. When doctrine is taught and pushed that makes dying to the law a ‘bad’ thing it is false doctrine and it comes directly from the Kingdom of Satan. Classical Reformed Doctrine does not teach that, and that is how it must continue to be.

  176. tim prussic said,

    June 29, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    Mr. K., you ask: You don’t think putting man in the place of the one Mediator – Jesus Christ – kind of effects their ‘christology’?

    Yes and no. I had in mind more the person and the work of Christ, not necessarily the application of the work of that work, which hinges a bit more on soteriology. Did the Western Church prior to the Reformation (the RCC, if you will) defend the hypostatic union and the doctrine of the trinity? This is more what I had in mind.

    You asked: “Prior to that keeping the Word of God from any who fell under her whorish tyranny didn’t make her officially against the Gospel?”

    No. There were aspects of the ecclesiastical culture that were horribly oppressive to the people and opposed to the gospel. Now, I’m not medivalist, but I’m speaking of the “official” opposition to the gospel, not ad hoc opposition. Trent “officially” opposed the gospel. Prior to that, I don’t think that any church council condemned the gospel. That said, there was plenty of confusion, but confusion is not necessarily opposition and is certainly different from “official” opposition.

    I don’t think the RCC is the beast. I think the Beast of Revelation was Nero Ceasar. I think that any man who trusts in anything or anybody other than Jesus Christ is condemned. I think salvation = Christ plus nothing. I think the only way to receive Christ and rest in him alone for salvation is through faith, which is sheerly a gift of God, not a work of man. Am I on the road to Rome, Robert?

  177. Robert K. said,

    June 29, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    You think little Nero was the Beast, do you?

    I’ll quote Goethe again: “Most people wouldn’t know the devil if he had them by the throat.”

    >”I think that any man who trusts in anything or anybody other than Jesus Christ is condemned. I think salvation = Christ plus nothing. I think the only way to receive Christ and rest in him alone for salvation is through faith, which is sheerly a gift of God, not a work of man. Am I on the road to Rome, Robert?”

    Of course, you being an FVist, it matters in ‘what sense’ you think (to use your word) those things. For instance: “I think the only way to receive Christ and rest in him alone for salvation is through faith [which I define as faithfulness].”

  178. tim prussic said,

    June 30, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    I’m not FV… I think I’ve mentioned that a dozen times over the course of the last few weeks. Also, you just assume I’m dishonest, which is frankly quite an uncharitable way to have any discussion, especially one with a Christian. You might attempt to be a bit more charitable and a bit less abrasive and you’d find that interactions with other people can actually be fruitful and not just occasions for you to tell them what you think.

    As to faith = faithfulness, I don’t think so. I think the biblical usage of faith precludes such an idea. But…. I might be lying!

  179. Vern Crisler said,

    June 30, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Re: #170
    Tim said:
    “As far as a “supposed empistemoloigcal limitation,” are you not so limited?”

    Well, no. ;-)

    (If we can have full assurance of our salvation–contra RC denials–then we have insight into the decree.)

    In any case, you are not seeing the danger in the Jordan-Lusk reductionism. It essentially results in a servile laity and an authoritarian clergy. Read the rest of Lusk’s paper. It is chilling. If you want to understand what happened to the Tyler, Texas church in the 1980’s–Jordan, North, Sutton, Chilton–its promotion of ur-FV was the basic cause of its authoritarianism, and of its excommunication-happy behavior.

    Vern

  180. Robert K. said,

    June 30, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Ah, but the FV boys havn’t got to the disciplinary torture cells and human bonfires stage yet. You can’t judge their doctrine on what has occured merely up to this point in time…

  181. Robert K. said,

    June 30, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    That Lusk ‘paper’ is hilarious.

    http://www.hornes.org/theologia/rich-lusk/covenant-election-faqs

    It reads like a Roman Catholic apologist’s defense of papal infallibility.

    SHOULD WE NOT FEAR THIS DOCTRINE?

    No!

    WHY AM I SO FRIGHTENED?

    Good question. Could be because you’ve yet to have been taught correctly by approved clerics, or that you have a demon.

    WHY IS THIS ALL SO DIFFICULT FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND?

    Calm down. Take a deep breath. Approved clerics exist to explain it slowly for you. Just put your Bible to the side for the moment. It is, frankly, confusing you…

  182. tim prussic said,

    June 30, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    Vern, you may have missed the point with regard to the epistemological limitation. No one’s talking about if they can know they’re saved themselves. They’re talking about the list of eternally elect. Certain types of Calvinists act as if they had the list along with soul-bearing spectacles. After exchanging 15-20 words with a person, they think they know of their election and regeneration. This, of course, is wildly unbiblical and certainly not true Calvinism.

    What the FV guys are arguing is to view election through the covenant. We gone over that before. The connection ‘twixt the objectivity of the covenant and power plays in Tyler, TX, I couldn’t speak to. Frankly, the connection must be quite deeply hidden, because I can’t spot any connection.

    Robert: Approved clerics are approved in the Scripture, or didn’t you read Ephesians? Reading your posts is like blasting off into a Sci-Fi movie.

  183. Robert K. said,

    June 30, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    By Ephesians’ standard that you appeal to is Doug Wilson an ‘approved cleric’? What about Benny Hinn? The current pope?

    And, by the way: Tim writes: “What the FV guys are arguing is…” *Not* Tim, mind you. The “FV guys”… Tim is careful to note he is *not* one of them, he just defends them and agrees with seemingly most everything they say and gets all passionate and angry when they are not given intellectual obedience due there standing as approved clerics…

  184. Robert K. said,

    June 30, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    “They’re talking about the list of eternally elect. Certain types of Calvinists act as if they had the list along with soul-bearing spectacles. After exchanging 15-20 words with a person, they think they know of their election and regeneration. This, of course, is wildly unbiblical and certainly not true Calvinism.”

    Who are these Calvinists, and where do they reside and exercise their power? Sounds like a necessary straw man to keep the FV flame alive.

    Methinks it’s the FVists who are the ones who think they can tell who is and who isn’t regenerate by the fact of whether they’ve had an approved cleric intone approved clerical intonation and had official holyized water sprinkled on them in good Jewish ritual style.

    Anyway, the only people who get upset about this type of thing are the unregenerate. Call me unregenerate, and I couldn’t give a [fill in the blank], you know why? Because I’m an elect of God, made so by the effectual work of the Word and the Spirit.

    God’s elect are bold and have understanding and discernment. Which is why you FV folk aren’t being taken very seriously…

  185. tim prussic said,

    July 1, 2007 at 12:09 am

    Bull’s eye!

  186. Robert K. said,

    July 1, 2007 at 1:15 am

    Tim, here’s how you know somebody is currently unregenerate: they demand God’s Word conform to their demands. Doctrine such as bapstismal regeneration. When you demand a paint-by-numbers (man holding the paint brush) regeneration you are currently unregenerate. What can you do? Start by humbling yourself to the Word and the Spirit. Move close to God and He says he will move close to you. Engage His Word, Tim. Humbly. That doesn’t mean, read a book or two of doctrine, maybe even take a course, and then start calling R. C. Sproul an idiot (or John Owen a drug addict) while all the while claiming to value Reformed Theology.

  187. tim prussic said,

    July 1, 2007 at 1:47 am

    I’ll start your plan for spiritual regeneration tomorrow, Robert. You are very caring.

  188. Robert K. said,

    July 1, 2007 at 2:55 am

    James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

    My seeming negativity towards you is solely due to your (and the FVists) insidious attacking of apostolic biblical doctrine from within. Calling yourself one thing and teaching something else. Yes, you will get a sword and a shield presented to you when you do that. Otherwise, what I say to you about regeneration is hardly a plan of my own. Perhaps you think all doctrine comes from some man’s mind, but I direct you to the verse above. Surely you would agree there is no better way to draw nigh to God than to draw nigh to His Word He has so graciously given to us. The added benefit is the Spirit usually acts via the Word as well. You will be in the environment where regeneration potentially happens. You can’t do it, but you can put yourself in the environment where it potentially happens…

  189. tim prussic said,

    July 2, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    See, Robert, the problem’s not your negativity, as such. The problem is your arrogance. You can’t seem to have a conversation without dismissing what the other folks say, asserting your own election (and others’ reprobation), and wielding your high-powered discernment (which I guarantee you DON’T have) based upon your election. Don’t think for a second that you’re caring, Robert. You’re intensely prideful. I’m happy that I know a good bit about Reformed history, or I might make the mistake of thinking your attitudes and demeanor were standard for Reformed folk. Happily for the church, you’re no where near leadership, for 1000 people like you would produce 1000 denominations, each hating the other.

    Listen to this: In the whole FV controversy, I’ve found the FV guys that I read (Wilson & Leithart) calling their readers to the Scripture over and over again. At the same time, I’ve found not a few anti-FV folks dismissing that and appealing the the Reformed Confessions. Now, I love the confessions, but they’re not an adequate response to an exegetical argument. I’m not trying to paint it all one direction or the other. There are plenty of FV guys who’ve jumped into the conversation at an exegetical lever (Pastor Lane, for example). In my experience, however, the FV guys have been more consistent in driving their readers and listeners to the Scripture than their opponents. So much for you untenable charges above (post 181).

    You, of course, will disregard this as you do with everything that doesn’t fit into the very narrow constraints of your thinking. So be it. But don’t think you’re doing “the Lord’s work” by spewing bile on the internet. You’re not influencing people for Christ. You’re putting people off by sounding pompous and arrogant. Take a leaf out of Pastor Lane’s book and learn to deal seriously, but with charity.

    Over and OUT.

  190. thomasgoodwin said,

    July 2, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Dear Tim,

    So, would you say that the plethora of books out there that deal with the FV/NPP are lacking exegesis? I don’t think your rounds on the blogosphere should be determinative for your theological reflection on this debate. Question is: how has the Reformed community responded to the FV? By merely waving the Westminster Standards? And to say that the Confessions are not an adequate response to an exegetical argument grossly overstates the case. The Westminster Standards *are* exegetical documents and anyone who has studied the history of the c17th will vouch for that. Personally, for some time now I’ve been wanting to engage FV exegetically and historically. But they can be just as guilty of retreating when the exegesis doesn’t suit them!

    Also, for someone calling for charity, your post lacks the very thing you desire.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Jones

  191. tim prussic said,

    July 2, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks for the admonition, Mark. It’s frustrating when there’s no give or take. Maybe my attempt at rebuke was uncharitable, but it wasn’t intended to be so.

    Honestly, the vast majority of anti-FV writing and speaking I hear is based upon whatever symbol of faith. Within the contexts of an ecclesiastical court, I can understand. But for study committees, general writing, and interchange that just can’t cut the mustard. That said, I do appreciate exegetical work on both sides. I’m not trying to either side has the corner on the market. I’m just responding to the asinine (if fanciful) accusations in post 181.

    To call the Standards “exegetical documents” REALLY stretches the definition of that phrase, I think. I have studied 17th-century historical theology – my master’s thesis was on the doctrine of scripture in Calvin and Turretin. I did a lot of confessional work with reference to Turretin. Thus, I’ve some experience with the scholarship.

    Statements of faith are just that. The Westminster Standards propound theology that was exegetically derived, but to say they’re exegetical documents is frankly quite confusing. Maybe I’ve just missed your point. I’d be quite happy to correspond.

  192. thomasgoodwin said,

    July 2, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Tim,

    They are exegetical to the extent that the conclusions reached were a result of nothing but, to use Al Martin’s favorite phrase, “painstaking exegesis”. One only has to survey the minutes of the Westminster Assembly (or diaries of several members) to see that what was written had its base in exegetics -> biblical theology -> systematic. Of course, it all depends on what one means by “exegetical documents”. Could you point me to some writings that have criticized the FV/NPP that are divorced from exegesis? I mean, one could hardly accuse Stephen Westerholm of lacking exegesis in his critique. That some blogger throws out a “straw man” or “ad hominem” from time to time shouldn’t discredit the good work that has gone on in various books; though, I agree that not all critiques are equally sound!

    Blessings,
    Mark

  193. tim prussic said,

    July 3, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Mark,
    I don’t know Stephen Westerholm’s work, though I’d be happy to become familiar with it, which I will do after posting this. Remember, my whole issue here was with the asinine insinuations of post 181, not with every bit of scholarship out there. Further, I was speaking of what I’ve read (which is by no means extensive), not all there is to read.

    Also, I was thinking about your comment that my comments to Robert K lacked charity. I don’t think it did. Maybe it doesn’t matter to you, but if you look up the string of posts, you can see (at every turn) Robert calling my honesty into question (that is, simply not believing my statements) and consistently asserting my lack of regeneration. That I rebuked him with some teeth is quite right.

  194. tim prussic said,

    July 3, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Mark, are you talking about his work on the NPP? Does he have one on FV, too?

  195. July 6, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    [...] 6th, 2007 at 12:48 pm (Federal Vision, Heresy) The man who graciously allowed me to post his conversion narrative from FV to Truly Reformed has a blog. Check it [...]

  196. July 7, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    [...] away from the Federal Vision. The first is a PCA ruling elder whose journey is actually posted at Green Baggins’ blog. He also turns out to be the writer at Abundance of Grace which I mentioned in an earlier post. The [...]


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