Notae Ecclesiae

It’s a pity that Wilson never lets us know what he thinks about anything. :-) I have a question for him, though. Wilson was examined by his presbytery on many issues related to the Federal Vision. Now, I am not familiar with the makeup of his presbytery, but here is my question: did Wilson invite TR’s to his examination? Of course, Wilson was not on trial. He wanted to do this to show people where he stood on certain issues. But did he feel compelled to invite TR’s to his examination, to insure that all points of view were represented in the questioning? Of course, we must ask the question, are there any TR’s in the CREC? If there are not, then two conclusions must result. The first is that Wilson was not required to invite any TR’s to his exam. But the second, equally important conclusion, is this question: how convincing has the examination been to the TR’s, who think that the CREC is basically a rubber-stamping outfit? Now, let me be clear. I am not well-enough aware of the makeup of the CREC to say that myself. In other words, I do not claim that the CREC is a rubber-stamp outfit. However, the question asked above is a valid question. Let me be clear on this point as well: I am not accusing Wilson of hypocrisy. Rather, I am asking whether he is being consistent on this point. I have no desire to continue talking about the makeup of the committee. Wilson can have all the last word(s) his heart desires. I will only say this logical syllogism: if the PCA as a whole thought that the “stacked” deck (to grant Wilson’s point for the moment, though I disagree with him here) seriously affected the accuracy of the report, they would not have approved the report. This, to my mind, was the entire issue of the discussion surrounding Novenson’s proposal. Novenson wanted a more accurate report. He felt that the addition of two more members to the study committee sympathetic to the FV would produce a more accurate report. Obviously, the majority of the PCA disagreed with him.

And really, the question of whether the committee was stacked is a distinct question from whether the nature of the committee affected the accuracy of the outcome. The committee acknowledged its mistake in the Wilson quotation by removing the inaccuracy.  The committee felt itself to be on solid ground with regard to the rest of the report. One further point bears mentioning. By submitting the report to the internet, and listening carefully to the FV responses (and believe you me, they did listen very carefully to the FV responses!), the committee was able to test its conclusions against the reaction of the FV guys. So, in reality, though no FV men were on the committee, they still had plenty of chances to prove their point on the internet before GA. The report as it stands now would therefore be no different if there had been FV guys on the committee. The difference is that there would have been a minority report. And, given the nature of the vote at GA, is there really any doubt as to which report would have won out in the end? I respect Wilson quite a bit. I have never tried to use rhetoric against him. Therefore, I hope that these honest questions and points will attain a fair hearing with him. He has nothing to lose by considering whether these argument have any weight. I have no wish to antagonize him, especially since our conversation on the blogs seems to be benefitting people. At least, most of the responses I have received (from both sides, amazingly enough!) has been generally positive. Let’s keep that going. There is therefore no need for Wilson to use mockery in response to this blog-post. I hope he will not.

That being said, let’s move on to the next chapter of RINE. This chapter is concerned with the marks of the church (pg. 79). He discusses the Word, Sacrament, and discipline. He seems to take Calvin’s view on the place of discipline: not a mark, but exceedingly important, nevertheless. I like this statement: “A Church with no discipline is a Church with no immune system” (p. 80). I am not sure that the over-emphasis of discipline constitutes a reason to reject discipline as being a mark of the church (Wilson, in so doing, is not undervaluing discipline: he says that discipline is a matter of the well-being of the church, not of the being of the church). I was a tad puzzled by this statement: “In other words, lack of discipline will bring about a collapse soon enough but is not to be identified with that collapse” (p. 81). If he has just said that discipline constitutes the immune system of the church, then wouldn’t the lack thereof be very similar to AIDS? AIDS kills the person if no other disease takes the person first. AIDS then would constitute the collapse of the person, whether by first or by secondary causes. I realize, of course, that other factors often do contribute to the downfall of a church.

One other question I have for Wilson is this: when he affirms nulla salus extra ecclesiam (no salvation outside the church), does he allow for exceptions to this rule? As Wilson has previously agreed that someone can be in the church but not of the church, so is it not also possible to be outside the church, and yet have eternal life? I am thinking here of the discussion on baptism in WCF 28.5: if baptism is the mark of someone belonging to the church, and yet someone can be regenerated without that sign, then surely it follows that someone can be regenerated, and be part of the invisible church without being part of the visible church.

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133 Comments

  1. RBerman said,

    June 25, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    It’s worth noting that Joe Novenson was complimentary of the conclusions of the report. I haven’t spoken to him so I can’t say what his intentions were, but in the flow of speakers debating his substitute motion, the most common sentiments seemed to be:

    1) The report is right, and its rightness will seem more convincing to third parties if we can show, by putting a couple of FVers on the committee, that we really did hear their strongest arguments before rejecting them.

    2) The report is right, and it will be more convincing to third parties (and perhaps to FVers?) if we demonstrate de novo that Scripture supports our beliefs, not FV.

    Neither of those is an absurd thought, but the GA was correct to decide that the balance of good was to be done by issuing this statement this year, not waiting another year for worthy improvements to the report.

    Also, one of the committee members told me that they initially did set out to prove their case from Scripture as well as from the Standards. They found that the discussion of justification alone ran over 25 pages, and given the breadth of ground they needed to cover, a 200 page report would not serve the Assembly or the churches well, when so many excellent works have already been written that do that job. Better to simply show that WCF is against FV, and if the case needs to be made that WCF is correct in the first place (which shouldn’t be necessary, since FVers already say that WCF is correct; they just believe it’s also neutral toward FV), we can point the curious toward the many resources with which David Coffin satiated his interest on the topic.

  2. Stewart said,

    June 25, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    “I will only say this logical syllogism: if the PCA as a whole thought that the “stacked” deck (to grant Wilson’s point for the moment, though I disagree with him here) seriously affected the accuracy of the report, they would not have approved the report.”

    Yes, but this presupposes that they actually wanted an “accurate” report.

  3. RBerman said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    It does indeed presuppose that the 1,200 delegates who gave up a week of their lives to attend the PCA General Assembly wanted an accurate report.

  4. June 25, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Stewart,

    Once again, who are you? It is my understanding that Lane does not allow anonymous comments.

    And by the way, you are right that Lane is presupposing that the PCA as a whole wanted an accurate report. And Lane is right (from where I sit, knowing my own heart, and having talked with probably hundreds of elders in the PCA about these things) that the PCA as a whole wanted (and received) an accurate report.

    Once again, who are you? And how many elders in the PCA have you talked to, so as to know their hearts?

  5. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Stewart is Stewart Quarles. He has a blog, and he is not anonymous on this blog. However, I don’t know much about him beyond that.

  6. June 25, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Wilson wouldn’t get much of a hearing in the URC or RCUS, needless to say, since the 3 Forms tell us straight out that discipline is a mark of the church. And supposedly his own church’s book of confessions includes 3FU.

    But I think I know the motivation behind Wilson’s resistance to include discipline as a mark of the church: his baptismal nominalism. That is, all baptized, unexcommunicated people are Christians, part of the church. So no credible profession of faith is needed. Wilson wants the church to be a big tent sort of deal, and even Romanist apostates are welcome, too.

  7. tim prussic said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Pastor Lane, Pastor Wilson personally asking his presbytery to examine him for the sake of others, specifically those outside the CREC. The PCA committee, as I understand it, was for assessing some broad theological movements and for recommendations to the GA. It’s hard to answer your call to consistency across the board in two situations differing so vastly. A “stacked deck” in Wilson’s case wouldn’t be much of a problem. EVERYONE can see what questions were (and were not) asked, just as they can see the answers to the questions. Now, TRs (or even *yuck* Lutherans) can object to this or that question (or lack of question), but the objective of getting Pastor Wilson’s positions out there is accomplished. A “stacked deck” in the committee’s case is something quite different. It quite possibly leads to an unbalanced report to the GA and steers the GA in the wrong direction. Now, if the objective was to manipulate the GA, mission (potentially) accomplished. If it was to have a Fox-style fair and balanced report with recommendations based upon such a report, then the mission appears to have been potentially compromised.
    I’m not saying any of that took place, you understand, but you’re treating both situations as apples, but I’m pretty sure that there should be an orange or two in our thinking…maybe even some of Lenin’s broken eggs!
    I was just kidding about Lutherans.. they’re not yucky.

  8. Stewart said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Jeff,

    I can’t know their hearts, but I can judge them by their actions, and the fact that there was no FV representation on the committee is sufficient proof.

  9. Stewart said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    If some TRs really wanted to question Wilson, couldn’t they simply take up his offer to debate?

  10. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Tim, I have already acknowledged that the situations were different to some extent. However, your answer seems to imply that questions are simply questions, and that they are objective. I think TR’s would have asked slightly different questions, and probed certain areas differently than his presbytery would. And, if his intent was to show what he believed to the whole world, then why not ask the “world” to question him?

    Stewart, it is proof to you. It is not proof to others. You can live in your own small bubble and believe anything you want about the hearts of the commissioners at GA, but reading motives is always a dangerous game, and never more so when you have about six trillion axes to grind against the TR’s.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Stewart, don’t change the subject. The issue is not whether TR’s *now* want to debate with Wilson. The issue is whether *he* invited TR’s. Nice try to deflect the debate, but it won’t work.

  12. Stewart said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    What debate?

  13. Stewart said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    “Stewart, it is proof to you. It is not proof to others. You can live in your own small bubble and believe anything you want about the hearts of the commissioners at GA, but reading motives is always a dangerous game, and never more so when you have about six trillion axes to grind against the TR’s”

    And TR’s that made up the committee had no Axe to grind with FV’s? Pahhhlease.

  14. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Are you trying to be dumb, Stewart? Just change the subject whenever you think you may have detected an infinitesimal chink in the opponent’s armor? Whatever, Stewart.

  15. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Again, Stewart, deflect, deflect, deflect.

  16. tim prussic said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Read me again, Pastor Lane. Anyone could quibble that certain questions weren’t asked or weren’t asked correctly, but the objective of the thing is met. It’s met clearly and in public. YOU were calling for consistency. I was saying that such consistency is not desireable do the wide variation in the cases.

  17. greenbaggins said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    I think that all FV people would say that the objective was met *to their satisfaction.* That is a different thing from asking a TR to state whether or not the objective was met. This isn’t necessarily a matter of fact, but of opinion.

  18. June 25, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Lane,

    Thanks for answering my question of Stewart. I had asked him before and am glad to finally find out who he is (or at least what blog profile he presents to the world). And thanks for not allowing anonymous comments.

    If, as Doug Wilson says fairly shamelessly, this whole disturbance of the peace and purity and unity of the Church is, at its heart, an attempt by the FV men to win the hearts and minds of “the second year seminary” student, it appears they have won themselves a convert.

    Stewart,

    Thank you for bluntly admitting that you have judged us by our actions. Unfortunately that reveals a proclivity (at least in this case) to make hasty, ill-informed, and altogether erroneous judgments. But it doesn’t seem you can be persuaded differently, so I will leave it there.

  19. Stewart said,

    June 25, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Just take a look at the paedocommunion report. No paedocommunionist I know questions its legitimacy. Why? Because their side was adequately represented. They may not have liked the conclusions that much, but they don’t question its fairness. The same can’t be said for the FV report, and it never will. It won’t stand the test of time because it will always be seen as stacked.

  20. tim prussic said,

    June 25, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    How frustrating! THE OBJECTIVE was to get Pastor Wilson’s views out. Now, TRs or anyone else can whine (although, I prefer wine) that they’d like different questions or whatever, but WILSON’s objective of publishing his views on contorverted topics was objectively achieved. Sheesh! What is the hang up? If TRs have other issues they’d like to raise with Pastor Wilson, I’ve heard that he might just be willing to debate in public.
    My point from the beginning, Pastor Lane, has been that likening Wilson’s exam to the GA committee in the way you did is misleading and unhelpful.

  21. June 25, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    [...] Baggins also has some good thoughts in his Notae Ecclesiae [...]

  22. A. Dollahite said,

    June 25, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Lane,

    It seems to me contradictory for you to say

    I think that all FV people would say that the objective was met *to their satisfaction.* That is a different thing from asking a TR to state whether or not the objective was met. This isn’t necessarily a matter of fact, but of opinion.

    From everything that the committee and you have reported, there was no need for personal contact with leading FV men because their views were well known by the many written documents available. This documentation would have included Wilson’s exam, wouldn’t it? So, did the TR understand Wilson well enough, or did they not? Obviously they felt they had since they never bothered to contact him or any other FV men personally.

  23. June 26, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    “Because their side was adequately represented. They may not have liked the conclusions that much, but they don’t question its fairness. The same can’t be said for the FV report, and it never will. It won’t stand the test of time because it will always be seen as stacked.”

    I think that FV flings around a very subjective idea of “fairness.” This assumes that a study committee must give both sides of an issue an equal hearing. That is not necessarily the case. I wish FV advocates would show that they have at least read and considered the Humbleanswers explanation of the role of a study committee:

    The Assembly received overtures from five Presbyteries expressing their concerns about the FV and NPP; the Assembly considered a motion which would give the Moderator authority to appoint a Study Committee on these matters; that motion was explicitly worded to declare that the Assembly believed these views to be “causing confusion among our churches;” not a single speaker (to the best of our collective recollection) rose to speak in favor of the FV or NPP; and the motion was passed overwhelmingly. It may be that the writers did not agree with this expressed will of the Assembly, and we respect their right to dissent, but it was the expressed will of the Assembly nonetheless. Not only do we believe the actions of the Moderator to have been entirely proper, but we believe it would have been highly improper of the Moderator to have appointed even one man to the Committee who was a proponent of views that the Assembly believed to be “causing confusion among our churches.”

    It WILL stand the test of time because of something that you FV advocates have been trying to dance around – the substance of the Report.

  24. markhorne said,

    June 26, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    The substance of the report is worthless rubbish. If the PCA is remembered at all, church historians will hold up the report as an example of idiocy on several levels.

  25. tim prussic said,

    June 26, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    In other words, David, the committee was a rubber stamp? The whole of the PCA, headed by the five presbyteries, decided that this Auburn Ave/NPP/FV business was causing problems, so the got a committee together to say, “Yup, causin’ problems, indeed.” That is how that passage appears to me. The outcome of the “study” committee sounds to have been predetermined by the concerns of the five presbyteries.

  26. Fred Greco said,

    June 26, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Mark,

    Thank you once again for your tempered, cool remarks. (which I reproduce here for when you edit them):

    >>>The substance of the report is worthless rubbish. If the PCA is remembered at all, church historians will hold up the report as an example of idiocy on several levels>>>

    And to think, someone on the Bayly blog actually did not believe me when I said that FV men have called the elders in the PCA idiots. But I guess I just don’t have the gumption to call a former Moderator of the PCA, a seminary professor, and several PhDs producers of “idiocy.”

    Poor RC Sproul. His lack of learning and sophistication must have lent to his being unable to understand what you know so much better than he does, even with his PhD and decades of teaching and influencing evangelicalism.

    And I guess it doesn’t make much sense to stay in a Church where 95%+ of the elders are idiots as well (or at least fall for “idiocy” – expecting your casuistry to follow). Put better to be an idiot than a “son of the devil” or “servant of Satan” (your two other pleasing epithets to throw out).

  27. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:12 am

    A man said untrue and baseless things about me and I over-reacted and then apologized. Thanks for bringing it up.

    The committee report is an embarrassment. And it is plainly false that no one wants to talk about the substance of the report. The report affirms things as confessional that are not remotely so. Anyone can see this Fred. Have you read the report? Where do the Westminster Standards (to name one example) make a careful distinction between conditions and requirements? Where do the standards celebrate the importance of election for assurance? The committee rewrites the confession to make it say what jives with what they want it to say.

    Frankly, calling the report worthless rubbish demonstrates restraint. If you want to talk about the substance of the report, lets talk.

  28. June 27, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Mark
    It is these kind of remarks, more than anything else ,that causes me personally to question the FV claim to have at the center of their concerns a really exalted ecclesialogy- you collectively treat your critics with utter distain and contempt. Early on in this tempest Jeff Meyers called fellow Reformed ministers who took exception to some of your groups distinctives “a pen of swine” and you had to jump in with a hearty “ditto”. Wilson, ever the sharp wit, turns loose with ridicule on Westmester West calling the entire faculty “a standing embarassment”, both the OPC and the PCA study committees are likewise accused of incompetence and the recent vote at the PCA GA is desribed as “an embarassment” as well.Individual critics are especially treated in similar shabby fashion be it Guy Waters, Scott Clark Lig Duncan or the venerable R.C. Sproul. If fellow Presbyterians do not agree with with the FV they are scorned and considered closet baptists totally unworthy of being able to appreciate the ‘real’ Reformed tradition. You have a ‘high’ ecclesialogy in theory only-once you take it out of the package and actually examine it turns out to be anything but another form of sectariaism.

  29. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:26 am

    Gary, the only question has been do men act like Christians or false accusers? Do they

  30. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:27 am

    contiues
    1. Represent the positions of those they are critiquing accurately?
    2 Treat those other ministers as worthy of a fair hearing?
    3. Call them names as part of their “argument” against their alleged positions.
    4. Avoid the courts of the church in favor of internet, conferences, and finally committees

  31. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:44 am

    There are probably other rulse, but the point is that people who declare me “aberrant” on their church website, without having the honor to bring any formal complaint to my presbytery (so I could answer these allegations) and do so entirely on their own authority (i.e. before any PCA presbytery study committee had been releases) are doing something that can’t be good. Being consigned to a group of “miscreants” in a conference where a PCA leader is modeling how to “deal” with people is, again, an *embarrassment* to any honorable person in the PCA.

    But it was done on your side so you like it. This is pure party spirit.

    I have used strong language (sometimes too strong) to describe false accusers who are all too courageous at a distance making internet charges or working in star chambers where the accused are allowed no voice at all. I think it is common sense that people being mistreated can say they are being mistreated. That does not undermine the fact that they should not have been mistreated. It is clear in what has happened who have been the aggressors against the reputations of other ministers’ reputations. The fact that you now critique language Gary indicates simply you see a propaganda opportunity. It provides no evidence that you care about the truth.

    But pointing out that the committee report would receive an D- or F+ by any honest grader is not even in the same category. To claim one cannot speak about the quality of the report is simply to say one must agree with it. And that is simply untrue. If we have the right to refuse to submit to Trent we certainly have the right to do so in this case. And Trent claimed real authority that no Presbyterian would ascribe to this report in the first place anyway.

    Finally, I don’t go around calling anyone “venerable” or anything else–not even a teacher who brought me into the Reformed Faith as R. C. Sproul did through his ministry.Beyond that, I have no idea what sort of “shabby treatment” you mean in regard to Sproul. On the other hand, I would never demean him by putting him in a list with R. Scott Clark.

    And that is the utter blackness of all this. You will pretend to have a moral compass and accuse me and remember all my sins whether real or imagined against me, and in the same post hold up that man as a person deserving of respect.

    Gary, that doesn’t make you a credible witness to truth or justice. Not remotely.

  32. Frank Meints said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:47 am

    Mark,

    Regarding your four points, are you referring to the FV/AAPC/NPP group, the anti group, or both?

  33. June 27, 2007 at 7:55 am

    Mark
    In the recent book on Warfield that I edited, there is a very fine chapter by Brad Gundlach ( Brad and I studied together back in the early 90’s under William Harris the achivist at Princeton ‘s Speer library) on Warfield’s firey grandfather Robert Breckinridge. BBW inherited alot of his grandfather’s traits -both good and bad, but he restrained himself from following in Breckinridge’s footsteps when it came to rash and impetuous speech. It is this trait that I most admire about BBW and have to remind myself frequently to follow his example and not his grandfather’s.

  34. Bret McAtee said,

    June 27, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Mark,

    Gary’s point has not been refuted. Personally, I will grant you that Church courts can err grievously and that such error must sometimes be met by strong dissent but then I’m not one of the guys that have been going around singing the notes of an dizzyingly high ecclesialogy. Given the reified ecclesialogy of the FV I would have expected at least a little contrition in the face of the numerous denominations and seminaries pronouncements on this issue. It really looks like the FV only have a high ecclesialogy when they are the ones on top of the pile.

    Face it Mark — There is no way in this World that anybody could refute or refuse the FV with the consequence that you would deem it having had a fair hearing. I don’t fault you for that, if I were in your shoes I would be of the same disposition since I hold that Truth by its nature is irrefutable.

  35. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:14 am

    Frank M., I think the traits are what we should all follow in coming to a collect conclusion. I think that I was saying they have never been folowed by the anti-FV side. However, bias being what it is, I’m not claiming anyone is without sin.

    What I want to see is accurate interaction with our heritage and some sort of discussion of where the lines are.

  36. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Bret, perhaps FVers are thinking of the Church as something more than denominational affiliations when they lay out their “high” ecclesiology?

  37. Bret McAtee said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Xon,

    Certainly you aren’t appealing to the Church Invisible.

    I doubt you’re suggesting that FVers are thinking of the Church only in its congregational manifestation. It would come as a surprise to me to hear of FVers being congregationalists.

    So, what concrete institution are the FVers referring to when they lay out their high ecclesiology? Given their love of things concrete I would have thought it would have been denominational affiliations that they were speaking of.

    Curiously,

    Bret

  38. anneivy said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:46 am

    “…perhaps FVers are thinking of the Church as something more than denominational affiliations when they lay out their “high” ecclesiology?”

    If they’re thinking of something “higher” than a denomination, then isn’t that a level so abstract as to be essentially useless?

    What practical value is there to a “high” ecclesiology that’s so high no one can figure out what it is?

  39. anneivy said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Oops. Sorry, Bret and Xon. Didn’t mean to be redundant.

  40. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Anne, your comments are never redundant! :-)

  41. Bret McAtee said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Only when someone pointedly disagrees with her about something or someone she holds precious.

    Bret

  42. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Bret (and Anne), I’ll answer your question because there is a very common answer that FVers give (can’t speak for all of them of course). But, if you don’t mind I’d prefer to do it a bit more “Socratically.” You know, I’ll get you to answer the question yourself(ves) by answering your question with another question. You guys almost have it on your own; I don’t want to rob you of the opportunity to “finish the drill.” ;-)

    So, Bret you asked:

    Certainly you aren’t appealing to the Church Invisible.

    Nope, you got that right!

    I doubt you’re suggesting that FVers are thinking of the Church only in its congregational manifestation. It would come as a surprise to me to hear of FVers being congregationalists.

    This is warmer compared to the other things you say. But it isn’t ‘congregationalism’, either. This is the path to walk down further, I think.

    So, what concrete institution are the FVers referring to when they lay out their high ecclesiology? Given their love of things concrete I would have thought it would have been denominational affiliations that they were speaking of.

    Well, so here’s the question that needs answered: how can we still affirm the authority of an visible body with institutional qualities, yet not be “congregationalists” or “denominationalists”?

    Hint: [If you really need it!] Think locally, but not “individualistically.”

  43. June 27, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Tim P said “In other words, David, the committee was a rubber stamp? The whole of the PCA, headed by the five presbyteries, decided that this Auburn Ave/NPP/FV business was causing problems, so the got a committee together to say, “Yup, causin’ problems, indeed.” That is how that passage appears to me. The outcome of the “study” committee sounds to have been predetermined by the concerns of the five presbyteries.”

    I guess this assumes that having a predetermined committee is bad. The committee was formed to act as a lawyer – to study, organize, and make an exposition of the facts. It was not formed to act as an investigator (someone undecided and neutral). The investigator and the lawyer both have their proper roles, but neither role is bad or “unfair.”

  44. Anne Ivy said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Since I attend a congregationalist church, Xon, your Socratic-type question isn’t resonating with me, I fear.

    Personally, I’ve not been a fan of denominations simply because I’m not handing anyone else my conscience or whatever the appropriate term would be regarding what I believe about the LORD.

    Having been an RC, I’ve already starred in that movie.

    But unless one IS going to be willing to bow to the authority of one’s denomination I don’t see the point of the existence of denominations, period.

    Seriously. Why bother?

  45. June 27, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Mark,

    I realize that I’m “not your presbytery”, but:

    I have used strong language (sometimes too strong) to describe false accusers who are all too courageous at a distance making internet charges or working in star chambers where the accused are allowed no voice at all.

    When you mentioned Internet charges, I assume that you weren’t referring to the ones you and others continually make, and made back long before the report was even published. The “Satan” one was rich. We’re all sinners saved by grace. It would be good for everyone to keep that in mind.

    The FV advocates were all heard loudly and widely on the Internet and elsewhere. There were the annual conferences, the Knox Symposium, the blogs, the books, the pamphlets, the dedicated publishing companies, and that seminary student’s “analysis” booklet handed out at the 34th GA (I beg forgiveness if I forgot something) all BEFORE the study report.

    After the study report was published, there were the 30-reasons-not-to-vote-for-it paper, the 12 reasons summary paper, the 10-point letter, and blog posts ad nauseum assailing the report before the Assembly met. The 30 reasons was mailed to EVERY session in the PCA (as best I can tell) before the Assembly. The FV feeding frenzy was nothing short of shrill. Not been heard? The din was deafening, and continues to this day.

    Not only so, there was ample opportunity during the GA debate to be heard. Instead of offering substantial theological discourse, FVers chose to go the procedural route. They were apparently pretty happy with that course well past the “emporer had no clothes” theater. It wasn’t until things started to go badly last in the debate period that the prominent FV leaders started jumping to mics. Providentially, time ran out at that point per the standard Rules of Assembly Operation procedures, which the moderator explicitly made clear before the debate. An overwhelming majority decided that they’d heard enough when the time expired, and both voted down the procedural motion and approved the report. You have no one to blame but yourselves if you didn’t bring out the points you thought were important at GA. You had the same opportunity as every other commissioner in the room.

    But pointing out that the committee report would receive an D- or F+ by any honest grader is not even in the same category.

    So now 95-98% of your brothers in the PCA have no knowledge of Scripture and our Standards? Four past/present seminary professors including 3 PhDs, a GA parlimentarian and senior corporate executive, a company CFO, and a senior military officer couldn’t produce a quality report? 95-98% of your fellow commissioners must have lacked your keen intellect to see that. I admire your ego, though, to set yourself so highly above all of these supposedly benighted church officers and brothers in Christ, many of whom possess outstanding credentials–far beyond yours or mine. Do you not even see what you’re saying?

    The one thing that I haven’t seen is any PCA FV proponent but Dr. Leithart do is actually and publicly answer all the 9 declarations. Care to indulge us, the poor benighted ones?

  46. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    David, why waste the time? Honesly, what’s gained? It reminds me of certain ecclesiastical doin’s in my own neck of the woods. True story: It went like this – a presbyter asked, “What is theology X all about?” The presbytery responded, “we don’t know.” So, they brought in a guy to tell them all about how theology X is wrong. I couldn’t believe it.
    Back to the point – it’s not a study committee in the ordinary sense of broad examination and the generation of both majority and minority reports. It was, I guess, simply a condemnation committee. I guess that’s fine, but the rest of the world might just see it a rubber stamp or a stacked study committee, neither of which look particularly good.

  47. Bret McAtee said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Sorry Xon, I don’t do Socratic unless I get to be Socrates.

    Bret

  48. June 27, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    ” I guess that’s fine, but the rest of the world might just see it a rubber stamp or a stacked study committee, neither of which look particularly good.”

    Well, this just ignores my argument. To call something “stacked” already assumes that committees are always supposed to be neutral investigators, rather than lawyers presenting a case.

  49. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    I guess this assumes that having a predetermined committee is bad. The committee was formed to act as a lawyer – to study, organize, and make an exposition of the facts. It was not formed to act as an investigator (someone undecided and neutral). The investigator and the lawyer both have their proper roles, but neither role is bad or “unfair.”

    When only one side is allowed to have a “lawyer” “exposing facts” for them, though, then that is unfair.

    Again, like Wilson has requested, pick your metaphor and play by its rules. If this is was like a courtroom with lawyers, then why didn’t the FV get representation and a chance to defend themselves directly (a real chance, not a “floor debate.” One does not have a “floor debate” about whether someone is guilty of a serious sin like heresy.) If it wasn’t a courtroom with lawyers, but just an exploratory cmte with no predetermined outcome trying to proceed fairly, then why weren’t any FV sympathizers on the cmte?

    If we’re playing “netural scholars just writing a report and making recommendations,” then the cmte of neutral scholars should include both sides. IF we’re playing “lawyers” pulling hard for a pre-assessed outcome, then both sides should get to have a ‘lawyer’.

  50. June 27, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Xon,

    pick your metaphor and play by its rules

    OK, how about this metaphor: the BCO and Rules of Assembly Operation for Bills and Overtures (then), RAO for Assembly debate and approval, and complying with Overtures that passed the Assembly. Simple enough.

    The 34th GA wanted to address this issue. They voted to do so and their will was carried out. The overwhelming vote of the 35th GA indicated their concurrence with the result.

    The problem here is that the folks who don’t like the outcome of the GA vote seem to want to blame it on everything except their own views.

  51. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Xon’s right, we’re using out metaphor none too well.

    David, when people hear “study committee” the don’t (and oughtn’t) think lawyers presenting a case. They do (and should) think a group formed to explore a topic. FROM THE OUTSIDE, that just don’t look good. That’s not just ignoring your argument. You say folks shouldn’t think the group’s impartial, but I say they do and should. The reason they do and should is that it’s typical for groups to generate majority and minority reports, thus showing some sort of balance and overall equity. That even if no specific member of the group is impartial.

    I’m not saying that the PCA ought not have the group it had, but I am saying that maybe they should call it something other than a study committee, as such terminology tend at least to connote some overall impartiality.

  52. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    ReformedMusings, that’s not much of a metaphor, but it is the usual ad hominem. It’s very refreshing.

  53. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    The problem here is that the folks who don’t like the outcome of the GA vote seem to want to blame it on everything except their own views.

    Do tell me more, please.

  54. June 27, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    that’s not much of a metaphor, but it is the usual ad hominem. It’s very refreshing.

    Tim – OK, I skipped the metaphor and went right to the truth. Sorry. But, how is the actual process ad hominem?

  55. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    The ad hom is your last assertion from #50 that I already quoted in #53.

  56. June 27, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Do tell me more, please.

    OK, from a variety of comments above in no particular order:

    If the PCA is remembered at all, church historians will hold up the report as an example of idiocy on several levels.

    It was, I guess, simply a condemnation committee.

    Frankly, calling the report worthless rubbish demonstrates restraint.

    The fact that you now critique language Gary indicates simply you see a propaganda opportunity.

    But pointing out that the committee report would receive an D- or F+ by any honest grader is not even in the same category.

    Refreshing enough? And I didn’t even leave this discussion to get these quotes.

    If anyone thinks that the last sentence of my post #50 is ad hominem, I’d expect much stronger condemnation of these quotes and dozens of others that I don’t have time to collect. Where’s the condemnation for these from the FV side?

  57. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Pointing out that a badly-worded and badly-reasoned report is badly-worded and badly-reasoned is not ad hom, Mr. Mattes. Claiming that “the problem” is your opponents’ view and accusing them of blame-shifting from the obvious is ad hom. It does nothing to address their actual argument, but instead “poisons the well” against them personally.

    I mean, suppose that the report really is badly-worded and badly-reasoned in a number of places. What is an FV proponent to do? If they demonstrate its inadequacies through argument, you can still come back and say that they are just pointing fingers away from their own guilty selves. This is a claim you can make all day long, no matter what the quality of FV arguments against the Report. “Oh, that’s just those ol’ FV rascals shifting blame again.” That’s the ad hom fallacy.

    For my money, I’d be fine if the level of rhetoric from some of my FV-sympathetic cohorts were ratcheted down a notch. If you want me to say that out loud, then there you go. But it’s not the same thing, either. These men are pointing out what they see as inadequacies in the Report because–shockingly–they actually believe that these are inadequacies in the report. If this is “shifting blame”, then every polemical conversation that has ever been had in the history of the world is just pointless self-interested drivel. Your interpretation of thier motivations–that they are like immature teenagers who stubbornly refuse to accept well-deserved blame–is uncharitable and goes well beyond any ‘facts’ in evidence.

    You and the FVers disagree as to whether the Report is good or not. Fine. So show some restraint and limit yourself to defending the validity of the Report’s arguments. Why even try to speculate as to the psychological wickedness of those who disagree? What purpose does it serve?

  58. June 27, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Each of the quotes I provided demeans specific individuals or groups as a natural conclusion of the statements made. Disagreeing with the report sound something like “I disagree with the conclusions/analysis/etc. in the report.” Specific conclusions/analysis/etc. disagreed with would be even better.

    OTOH, Attacking 95-98% of the commissioners as idiots sounds something like “If the PCA is remembered at all, church historians will hold up the report as an example of idiocy on several levels.” I hope that you can see the difference now.

  59. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Except that I already acknowledged that the tone could be better, Mr. Mattes. I’d rather the term “idiocy” had not been used. But if something such as “illogicality” or “irrationality” had been put in its place, there would be no problem (we are just particularly sensitive about ‘idiocy’ because it seems to imply a judgment of the personal character of the people who wrote the report).

    But, even so, Mark said that the Report is an example of idiocy, not that the people who wrote it are idiots. He said the Report was worthless rubbish, not that the people who wrote it were human garbage. Even great geniuses can commit embarrassing blunders. Mark’s comment was about the Report not about the people. I realize the fine line that this distinction sometimes represents, which is why like I said I would have preferred a different term to “idiocy” or “rubbish”. But, that said, we’re all engaging in some polemical langauge here and that’s okay. As long as it is directed at arguments and not at people, and as long as it is backed up with arguments.

    Mark’s comment that the Report would receive a low grade from any honest grader is, again, an assertion about the Report, not the people who wrote it. I understand that someone might try to draw an inference about the people based on such comments, but this is unavoidable and Mark can’t be blamed for it. I myself have said that the Report is poorly-worded and poorly-reasoned. This is not ad hominem, b/c I’m not attacking the people who wrote the report. I am giving a negative assesment of the fruits of their labors, but that’s precisely what logial analysis is all about: analyzing the arguments that people produce. When you point out that someone’s argument is flawed you are not committing the ad hom fallacy. Even though, by a stretch, someone might interpret my statement as a dig: after all, if the argument is flawed then what does that say about the person who gave the argument? Nothing! Except that they are a person capable of giving a flawed argument. But, since they are human and fallible, we already knew that.

  60. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    For my part, RM, I’m not really attacking anything. My comment about “condemnation committee” was to David. He was contending that the “study committee” wasn’t supposed to be unbiased – they were supposed to identify the problems with Auburn Ave/NPP/FV based upon the requests of 5 presbyteries. My whole case is that, if David is correct, the committee would have been better received by a different sort of name than “study committee.” I don’t really condone the high-voltage verbage of some of the folks on here either, no matter which side it’s coming from.
    As to the ad hominem, Xon explained it well.

  61. Xon said,

    June 27, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Mr. Mattes, I just put two and two together and realized that you are a ruling elder. I apologize for my tone in this conversation. I do not presume to lecture my elder in the faith. I do think you are missing some things, but I could express this in a less precocious way. My sincerest apologies for being an ‘upstart.’

  62. June 27, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    I guess that we live on different planets. A statement like:

    If the PCA is remembered at all, church historians will hold up the report as an example of idiocy on several levels.

    says a great deal more than the surface treatment you’re giving it. You are not taking the statement to the logical conclusion of its implications. If the report is an example of idiocy, and that report is passed by 95-98% of the commissioners at the General Assembly as agreeing with their views, and it will be remembered as “an example of idiocy on several levels,” then logically the commissioners who approved it have thereby committed an idiotic act, generally implying they were idiots to pass the report so overwhelmingly. In fact, the statement does attack the people who agreed with and passed the report. Certainly only an idiot would agree with an idiotic report. That’s inherent in the language used–a level of performance is being assessed based on action taken on a product presented. The same would apply to those who wrote it, but I will leave that alone.

    If *I* turn in a final report that gets an ‘F’, is that a theoretical F in the abstract or will *I* fail the course if that’s the only grade involved? Everyplace I’ve ever been graded on my performance, the latter is the case. If the report got an F, the grader is saying that either I am smarter but only did an F’s level of performance or I’m not bright enough to put in better-than-F effort. A report is a product which was produced by someone. When the report is graded, it is the performance of the individual(s) that created it that is being rated, not the report in abstract. We’re talking real life here.

    Try this. Go home and tell your wife that dinner is awful and will go down in the record books as one of the worse meals ever served. See what her reaction is. If you are still standing, then try to explain that you didn’t mean that she’s a bad cook or that she didn’t cook up to her usual standards, that yours was a statement in the abstract that wasn’t meant to assess her performance in cooking the meal. Tell her that you realize that dinner got that way all by itself and that she’s not responsible.

    I can’t believe that I’m explaining this. Words mean things, they carry weight beyond their alphabetic constructs. Words are not free, and the statements constructed from them carry implications beyond the sound of the keyboard.

    You get the last word. I’m done with this “topic”.

  63. June 27, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Mr. Mattes, I just put two and two together and realized that you are a ruling elder. I apologize for my tone in this conversation. I do not presume to lecture my elder in the faith. I do think you are missing some things, but I could express this in a less precocious way. My sincerest apologies for being an ‘upstart.’

    Xon,

    I appreciate your apology, but it isn’t necessary. I did not take anything you said as personal, largely because I know from your other posts that you don’t mean anything that way. But thank you for your post. I have seen you on other boards and find you one of the most reasonable debaters. We’re all simil justis et peccator. Just ask my wife. :-)

  64. June 27, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Xon wrote: “Mr. Mattes, I just put two and two together and realized that you are a ruling elder. I apologize for my tone in this conversation. I do not presume to lecture my elder in the faith. I do think you are missing some things, but I could express this in a less precocious way. My sincerest apologies for being an ‘upstart.’’

    Xon, thank you for this first step of repentance. My advice (as an elder in the PCA) to you (one who is seeking to become a licentiate in the PCA) is for you to follow through, demonstrating the sincerity of your apology, by asking the elders of your sponsering Session and the elders of your Presbytery’s Candidates Committee to moniter your words on the internet, and submit to their fatherly counsel to you on that score. I also advise you to contact Mr. Mattes privately, to inquire if there is more you need to do, on his account, to demonstrate the sincerity of your apologies.

    I do not mean to come across in a condescending manner, or as being cynical with regard to your expressed apologies. But on the internet, and among other FV men who have commented on Lane’s blog, words appear cheap. Following through with demonstrable fruits of repentance, on the other hand, are, as Calvin says, the jewels of the Church.

    Warmly,

    Jeff Hutchinson
    Pastor, Trinity PCA
    Asheville, NC

  65. June 27, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Tim,

    Thanks for your explanation. I’d remove that statement from the list but I’ve learned the hard way that you cannot edit past comments like one can forum posts. Please accept my apology for misunderstanding you.

  66. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Dunno. You might cut the husband some slack if the wife has lied about him in order to divorce him and drive him from her home using false accusations, and then claims some legal affadavit is as good as a divorce.

    You made railing accusations against ministers and tried them (RCSproul remember?) outside the courts. And you then you criticize those who speak frankly about your work as if you have been doing nothing but cooking a meal for your beloved spouse.

    No, you are serving your spouse on the menu, cutting off his flesh and eating it while he is watching. It provokes a response. Don’t act surprised.

  67. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    “Xon, thank you for this first step of repentance. My advice (as an elder in the PCA) to you (one who is seeking to become a licentiate in the PCA) is for you to follow through, demonstrating the sincerity of your apology, by asking the elders of your sponsering Session and the elders of your Presbytery’s Candidates Committee to moniter your words on the internet, and submit to their fatherly counsel to you on that score. I also advise you to contact Mr. Mattes privately, to inquire if there is more you need to do, on his account, to demonstrate the sincerity of your apologies.”

    Wow. Jeff is withholding repentance until Xon submits to his leash? It would be easier to believe people know grace if they would ever show any. Jeff, give Xon a break and don’t act like someone you don’t want to be.

  68. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Wow… what a change in tone! No apology necessary, Mr. Musings. As mentioned before, I’m looking at the PCA thing from the outside (although I grew up in the PCA). I have certain sympathies with FVers and I’m opposed to tampering with sola fide. Anyway, I do so like the new tone – more refreshing that ad hominems!

  69. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    I posted my last comment before reading Mr. Horne’s. After reading his, it makes mine seem like they were intended to be sarcastic… they weren’t.

    It seems to me the upshot of Elder Hutchenson’s advice to Xon is to think through is theology quietly or alone or else the ecclesiatical big brother’ll be on him. The internet’s public enough, and Xon’s (or my) session can see whatever I’ve written. These blogs (if the voltage can stay down) are a great place to hash out some theological issues. I’ve personally benefitted from Xon’s comments and hope he continues to argue and reason here, always, of course, showing deference and charity to others.

  70. June 27, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Xon,

    Well, RE’s make errors too. As I was driving, I ran through the discussion in my head. I should not have included the comment about “not believing I was explaining this” and the last paragraph. I apologize for those comments. Those were not necessary to the point and disrespected you. I starting to think that I’d be better off writing comments, then deleting the last paragraph when I think I’m done. The lessons of Romans 7:16-25 present themselves daily…

    God’s blessings in your studies,
    Bob

  71. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    What happens when the comment is only one paragraph long?

  72. June 27, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    I posted my last comment before reading Mr. Horne’s. After reading his, it makes mine seem like they were intended to be sarcastic… they weren’t.

    Tim,

    I didn’t read them as sarcastic, but thank you for your post. I will do my part to ratchet down the voltage here as well. Please feel free to let me know when I’m not succeeding.

  73. A. Dollahite said,

    June 27, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Lane and Bob,

    I’m curious if you would agree with David Gadbois’ assertion that the PCA Study Committee was formed to act as a lawyer against the FV, rather than as a neutral (there’s a loaded word) investigator of the FV?

  74. June 27, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Mark,

    From your post #66, I assume that you are prepared to answer all nine declarations without qualifications like “in some sense”?

    You made railing accusations against ministers and tried them (RCSproul remember?) outside the courts.

    For the record, no one in the GA process has made accusations against specific individuals and none has been tried yet. If you have a beef with Dr. Sproul, I suggest that you take it up with him. I’ve said a number of times that I agreed with his assessment on sola fide being at stake in the debate. I have also made it clear where I *personally* think the 35th GA vote fits now into the overall scheme of things in the PCA based on a clear reading of the BCO. You are welcome to differ, the lower the voltage the better. That’s your privilege.

    And you then you criticize those who speak frankly about your work as if you have been doing nothing but cooking a meal for your beloved spouse.

    Please see post #58 to see what a low-voltage criticism of the report would look like. And believe it or not, in serving the PCA General Assembly, I was in a sense making a meal for a beloved spouse. The report delivered exactly what the 34th GA requested from the Overture menu, nothing more or less. Again, you are welcome to disagree.

    I kept my promise to myself and deleted my last paragraph.

  75. June 27, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Lane and Bob,

    I’m curious if you would agree with David Gadbois’ assertion that the PCA Study Committee was formed to act as a lawyer against the FV, rather than as a neutral (there’s a loaded word) investigator of the FV?

    I speak here only for myself, no one else. That’s easy–no, David’s assertion is wrong. There was no legal language of any kind–the committee was not a court or a “lawyer” and could not be by the rules in the BCO and RAO. The BCO specifically enumerates the courts of the PCA. The study was commissioned by the 34th GA’s overwhelming approval of a valid overture, which was:

    to study the soteriology of the Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn
    Avenue Theologies which are causing confusion among our churches.
    Further, to determine whether these viewpoints and formulations are in
    conformity with the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards,
    whether they are hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion, and to present a
    declaration or statement regarding the issues raised by these viewpoints in
    light of our Confessional Standards (M34GA, 34-57, III, pp. 229-30).

    That’s exactly what was done in accordance in the BCO and RAO–nothing more, nothing less–as ratified by 95-98% of the commissioners in the 35th General Assembly. Short of a unanimous vote, I can’t think of a stronger endorsement in this life.

  76. A. Dollahite said,

    June 27, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Mr. Mattes,

    Sincere thanks.

    – Andy

  77. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    “But, even so, Mark said that the Report is an example of idiocy, not that the people who wrote it are idiots.”

    The plunging flame-out of the FVists is actually getting entertaining to watch now…

  78. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    I think awhile back (on this thread?) something was said about dealing with the substance of the report. My answer allowed us to ignore the substance of the report. I apologize for distracting us.

    To the report:

    First, the nine riders/declarations

  79. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    What Jeff said, requirements v. conditions? This stuff is just made up:

    According to the report: “The Confession. . . . carefully distinguishes conditions from requirements and reminds us that even the faith of the elect is the gift of God (WCF 11.1; LC 32)” (p. 2207). No it doesn’t. Nowhere is such a careful distinction made. The committee simply makes stuff up and asserts it and I am supposed to be impressed?

    As Jeff wrote: “These terms can, in many contexts in the English language, be synonyms. In fact, Larger Catechism Q. 32 uses these words as mutually interpretive of one another:

    Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?

    A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation (emphasis added).
    —————-

    Nowhere is any distinction made, let alone any careful distinction. The committee wrote fiction.

    The committee seems to think that this is of great importance in their critique of the FV men. They go on to link “conditions” with “merit” to argue for a meritorious pre-fall covenant with Adam. But if it is that important, they need to show us where this distinction is in the Standards or how it can be derived from them. As it stands, this seems to be a false statement and one that is completely unsupported by our Standards. It has no place, as it stands, in an official church document spelling out the faith of the denomination.

  80. markhorne said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    Fourth, the whole point about assurance in the Westminster standards is simply false to what the WS says. All this drives a wedge betweeen “FV” and the standards by massively exaggerating the standards.

  81. June 27, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Re: #75,

    I wasn’t insinuating that the Study Committee was a church court. I was trying to make an analogy: “…lawyer – to study, organize, and make an exposition of the facts. It was not formed to act as an investigator (someone undecided and neutral).”

    Perhaps that wasn’t a good illustration, but it was not meant to be taken so literally (similarly, I understand R.C. Sproul’s “jury/accused” analogy on the GA floor).

  82. Mark T. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    I do not want to belabor a point if the FVists have answered it; but I would appreciate it if someone could point me to the place where the FVists account for the apparent inconsistency between their professed high view of the Church and their unmistakable contempt for the PCA. I would also appreciate it if someone could point me to a link where the FVists might explain how on the one hand they believe that the Ad Interim Committee completely misunderstood or misrepresented their position, and how on the other hand they believe that their inflammatory rhetoric will foster an environment conducive toward a better understanding of their position.

    Thank you.

  83. June 27, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Mark,

    Thank you for sharing the substance of your thoughts. You’ve provided a lot of territory. For the benefit of all here, is there someplace in particular that you’d like to start a discussion?

    As always, I can only speak for myself in anything that I say, but I welcome bite-sized interactions with you. Too much at one time takes blocks of time larger than I have available.

  84. A. Dollahite said,

    June 27, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    David,

    What seems to be the problem with what your are still proposing is the idea that the Study Committee had a predetermined purpose with respect to the outcome. Lawyers build a case for a particular position. That is, their case is built to support the end they desire. But this was not what the committee was charged to do.

    With respect to the Sproul analogy, I think we all get what he was saying. And no one disputes that it’s not right to put the accused on a jury. But of course you’ve just said that the Study Committee was not a church court, so Sproul’s analogy fails at its most essential part, i.e. the courtroom setting. Analogies aren’t meant to be perfect at all levels, but when they miss the heart of the comparison, then we have to throw out the analogy.

  85. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    David, I think I understood you perfectly, that is, I understood your analogy. RC’s analogy is a bit more difficult. David’s analogy has the “study committee” as a lawyer, while RC’s had it as the jury. If the study committee was just gathering data to support a position (or, more accurately, to oppose a set of positions), that’s fine, and all my prior critiques of the name of that committee still stand. If it was a simple fact finding committee, then the makeup was wrong, I think. If it was a jury… there’s been a coup in the PCA and you should all come to the Bible Presbyterian Church!

  86. anneivy said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    The task set the committee was rather unclear, IMO.

    “…to study the soteriology of the Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn Avenue Theologies which are causing confusion among our churches. Further, to determine whether these viewpoints and formulations are in conformity with the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards, whether they are hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion, and to present a declaration or statement regarding the issues raised by these viewpoints in light of our Confessional Standards (MGA 34:229-30).”

    Thing is, “causing confusion among our churches” simply isn’t a positive evaluation. That the FV/NPP/AAPC theologies are a source of confusion wasn’t up for debate. It was a given. That the committee was to approach the FV/NPP/AAPC from the viewpoint that they might very well be “hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion” is also language clearly showing this wasn’t a simple fact finding committee, as Tim put it.

    Now, there was a window left open for an “acquittal” in the second phrase: “to determine whether these viewpoints and formulations are in conformity with the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards.” It allowed for the possibility of “yup, they sure are.”

    The general sense of the committee’s stated objectives was negative, however.

    Now, whether or not a denomination should be expected to assume a positive or even neutral stance toward viewpoints “causing confusion in the churches” is another question.

  87. June 27, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    What Anne said! :)

    Anyway, the far more relevant question is not whether there were FV on the committee, but rather those who were on the committee were accurate and even-handed in their representation and critique. That is the true metric of “fairness.”

  88. tim prussic said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Don’t all theological controversies “cause confusion”? All study committees are assembled in the midst of confusion, but this one was convened with the culprit already in the crosshairs. I’m not opposed to a committee going in with a bad guy in mind. However, I would not be a bit surprised if the general Reformed world (or even the broader evangelical world) thought that the PCA committee WAS a fact finding committee.

    That said, there can be no doubt that the GA was a resounding blow to the FV side. Even if the report misrepresented FV teachings, it was still a significant political blow.

  89. A. Dollahite said,

    June 27, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    Anne,

    Just because something might be a source of confusion doesn’t make it “negative” (as opposed to a positive evaluation). The trinity is a source of confusion to many, but we all love it dearly. And it’s certainly not the scriptures fault for the confusion on the trinity either.

    I do think it’s fair to say some of the confusion should be attributed to FV people not always communicating with perfect clarity. I bet people would rephrase some things, qualify their statements better, etc. But, the same must be said for the FV critics. Many of the criticisms of the FV have spread far and wide misunderstandings about the FV. And we all know it’s much harder to bring clarity to muddied water quickly. Furthermore, I wonder how much confusion might have been avoided had people treated FV and NPP as different things, since they should remain distinct instead of being mushed together and treated as one. There’s more I could probably say about #86, but I think you get my point. I just wish we’d all spend a little more time considering how we’d like to be treated by our brothers and sisters in Christ when our views are being questioned. The golden rule isn’t golden for nothing (if that’s even close to proper grammar).

  90. Anne Ivy said,

    June 27, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    Keep in mind, gentlemen, that the way I’ve “interpreted” the language of the committee’s task jibes with both the committee’s make-up and the subsequent report. It’s those who had assumed “But it’s supposed to have been a simple fact-finding committee!” that have been taken aback.

    Tell you what I’ve been curious about and that’s who, exactly, crafted the committee’s mission statement. Who made the determination that the FV/NPP/AAPC are causing confusion in the churches? And that they might be “hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion”?

    Not that I’m disputing it, mind, but still….I’m curious.

  91. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    >According to the report: “The Confession. . . . carefully distinguishes conditions from requirements and reminds us that even the faith of the elect is the gift of God (WCF 11.1; LC 32)” (p. 2207). No it doesn’t. Nowhere is such a careful distinction made. The committee simply makes stuff up and asserts it and I am supposed to be impressed?

    Listen to this language. “[A]nd I am supposed to be impressed?” This is the language, and the tone, of a self-centered, vain, prideful, very common human being currently ‘in Adam.’ This is all about him. “You need to seduce me and you’re not getting it done.” “I’m not having any of that.” “What does this do for me?” “And I’m supposed to agree with that?”

    The leverage these delinquents currently have can’t last forever. In time they will settle into their own little niche at the bottom of the basin with all the other groups with self-centered, man-centered bad doctrine.

  92. Robert K. said,

    June 27, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    Mark, explore biblical doctrine as you see fit, that’s not the problem. The problem is your attempting to supplant Reformed doctrine with very common, age-old bad doctrine. It’s one thing to be for such doctrine, it’s another thing to insist your doctrine is Westminsterian orthodoxy. And it’s basically clinical to claim this when all you can do to demonstrate it is lead people down endless crooked paths of cheap, academic pomo sophistry all the while pretending you are serious. And, one other thing: the thrill you’re so obviously getting from yanking chains like this will probably convict you the most in the end.

  93. Tim Wilder said,

    June 28, 2007 at 7:39 am

    With all the talk about how the FV people claim that none of the critics understand them, it is curious to me that I have not seen anyone say this specifically about Covenant Theology and Justification by Faith: The Shepherd Controversy and Its Impacts, by Jeong Koo Jeon, which has a section on Federal Vision theology and claims to get at the underlying mistakes that cause Shepherd and the FV to misread Calvin and the Confessions.

    Did Jeong Koo Jeon get it right, or not?

  94. Xon said,

    June 28, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Mr. Mattes, thank you for your graciousness in this. To return really quickly to your comments about ad hominem (#62), you are absolutely right that if I told my wife that the meal was horrible, then she would be right to be insulted. We cannot just limit the implications of our words to the meal without at least implying something about the person who made the meal. I agree.

    But my point–and if I wasn’t clear earlier let me try again now–is that this kind of “implication” against the person is unavoidable. There is no way to criticize a person’s argument, for instance, without also by this sort of implication criticizing the person who made the argument. After all, if I say that their argument’s conclusion is not well-supported then I’m also saying, indirectly, that they are the kind of person who can make an argument with a poorly-supported conclusion. But this is, as I said, unavoidable, and it is not the ad hominem fallacy to say things that have these sorts of implications. If it is the ad hom fallacy, then we all commit the ad hom fallacy all the time and there’s nothing we can do about it except to stop having discussions altogether.

    Also, the context of a debate is a bit different than the context of commenting on my wife’s dinner. In a debate, both sides should expect that their arguments are coming under attack. And so if someone says that your argument is foolish, that shouldn’t automatically hurt your feelings as though they just called you personally a fool. Of course in many ‘real world’ contexts this sort of implication would happen naturally (and would probably even be intended), but in a debate/discussion it shouldn’t.

    Hope that makes more sense.

  95. Xon said,

    June 28, 2007 at 8:18 am

    Pastor Hutchinson, I appreciate your appreciation of my apology to Mr. Mattes. But I don’t really know what you mean when you say that this is just a “first step” of repentance. Publically humbling myself and apologizing for comments I made here on this blog seems like all the repentance that is ‘required’ for this sort of situation. But I suspect I’m not following you.

    As to your suggestion that I submit my internet writings to my session, I resonate with your suggestion and I did so several months ago. My session has told me that they “do not have time” to read internet stuff, and that they frankly don’t much care what I say on-line, but I have submitted it to them for their consideration and have touched base with my pastor and associate pastor a couple of times just to be sure that they still didn’t have any concerns.

    That said, this is a hard thing to say because tooting my own horn defeats the point of what I’m saying kind of, but I’m not exactly an unhinged internet participant. I have a decent reputation for being level-headed and reasonable in the way I argue, and I have a concern for justice in the way accusations are leveled (some might say I’m an annoyance in this regard, even). Yesterday I apologized to Mr. Mattes for crossing a line that I think I should have been more careful not to cross in this particular discussion, but overall I stand quite confidently by my ‘record’ as a participant in internet discussions.

    Also, I’d like to go even further than Pastor Hutchinson’s suggestion and do something I already did on my blog several months ago. I invite anyone who reads my comments and finds them unbecoming of a Christian to contact my pastor or associate pastor with your concerns. (redeemathens.com) I wish to be in submission to the brethren, and not just my session, in this.

  96. June 28, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Xon,

    Thank you for not taking offense at my post to you, despite being seemingly urged to take offense by some on this thread. Your reply is very reassuring in other respects as well. I will be away from my computer for a spell so please don’t interpret silence as anything other than that! Thanks again.

    Your brother,

    Jeff

  97. Mark T. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Mr. Mattes, thank you for your offer, however, I am not prepared to discuss these issues so much as I need to learn them better. Presumably, the FV camp has accounted for these inconsistencies somewhere, but with tempers flying it’s difficult to ascertain exactly where; hence my request. I would appreciate it very much if you could point me to a link that addresses my concerns.

    Thank you.

  98. markhorne said,

    June 28, 2007 at 10:40 am

    I see your point Jeff, but I thought of it more as taking offense myself (in a public forum that’s always going to entail more than we sometimes think of). However, I am nothing but pleased that you and Xon are right with each other and would not have it any other way.

  99. Xon said,

    June 28, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Hi, Mark T., this relates to my Socratic line of questions to Bret McAtee and Ann Ivy in #42. They decided not to play (much the pity), but I’ll follow up a bit here if you don’t mind.

    I think the root of most FV thinking regarding “high ecclesiology” is found in James Jordan’s work “The Sociology of the Church”, published in 1986 (and actually available for free at biblicalhorizons.com). There Jordan argues that the Church should be thought of along primarily local lines. Not “congretagionalist” lines, mind you, but local. So, “the church” in Athens, GA–i.e., all faithful congregations in the city together–is the fundamental unit of ecclesiastical evaluation, and not the various denominations that all those congregations happen to belong to. Denominations are useful to help delineate the different views of various congregations, but how much respect they should be accorded as “institutions” depends on them and how faithful they are to the mission of the local church, frankly.

    I pay honor to the church in Athens moreso than to the PCA. Of course, I do honor the PCA insofar as she is a God-glorifying institution that aids the mission of the church in Athens. But, if she starts to get in the way of that mission, then that’s too bad for the PCA. My “high ecclesiology” requires little from me in that case as far as the denomination is concerned.

    Now, that said, I don’t think it’s at all accurate to say that FVers have “contempt” for the PCA. We disagree with the Study Cmte Report and we are disappointed in the extreme that it passed. But that is not “contempt.” And even some of our stronger criticisms do not amount to contempt in the midst of a polemical exchange with opponents. I dislike the Report because I think it is horribly worded and reasoned in a number of places. I think it is an embarrassment. But I’m not showing contempt for the PCA by saying that; I feel sorry for her! The whole thing makes me sad, honestly.

    I continue to pray, and will always pray, that God will continue to work through the PCA to advance the Kingdom of Christ. The PCA has played an instrumental role in that advancement over the last 30-some years, and I expect it will continue to do so. But I disagree with the way it has handled (so far) this latest controversy. That’s where I and I think many other FV sympathizers are at on this.

    Hope that helps!

    Your second point regards an alleged “inconsistency” between the FV’s presumptive aim of increasing understanding of their position and their usage of inflammatory and off-putting rhetoric. As you said it (#83):

    how on the one hand they believe that the Ad Interim Committee completely misunderstood or misrepresented their position, and how on the other hand they believe that their inflammatory rhetoric will foster an environment conducive toward a better understanding of their position.

    I know this sort of thing is in the eye of the beholder somewhat, but personally I can say with all sincerity that I don’t think the rhetoric has been all that inflammatory on the part of the FV side. I certainly recognize that some of this has occurred, but at th same time :

    – I think this has been much worse on the part of the TRs (but like I said; eye of the beholder), and

    – It is somewhat mitigating that the FVers are ‘defendants’ lashing out at his inaccurate accusers (from the FV perspective, just work with me here) If I was on the stand forced to defend myself against charges that I advocated stealing from grandmothers, when I actually advocated no such thing, and the accuser kept turning my words against me and such, I would probably lash out eventually. If my accusers used that as just another charge they could throw onto the pile (“Oh, see, he got nasty”), then I’d be in good company. :-)

    As to whether any of this helps get others to understand, I don’t claim to have any idea anymore what will help folks understand. I’ve had some ‘breakthroughs’ with individuals here and there, and I’ve also encountered people who absolutely will not see a single valid point I make. I am not a psychologist and I have no idea anymore what kind of rhetoric “works” and what doesn’t.

  100. greenbaggins said,

    June 28, 2007 at 11:25 am

    BOQ And even some of our stronger criticisms do not amount to contempt in the midst of a polemical exchange with opponents. EOQ

    Such as calling the passing of this report “idiocy?”

  101. Xon said,

    June 28, 2007 at 11:50 am

    No, “idiocy” would fall under the first point I made, Lane. But, I myself would call the report “extremely poorly-worded and poorly-reasoned.” My dislike of the report is quite strong; but this is not the ad hom fallacy and it certainly does not amount to “contempt” towards the PCA. The denomination, my denomination, has passed a report that it ought not to have passed. It makes me sad. No contempt here.

  102. Mark T. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Xon,

    You probably don’t see that your response contradicts itself at several points, so I return to my original request. I would appreciate it if someone could point me to a site where the FVers officially account for their apparent inconsistencies. Thank you.

  103. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    I’m not aware of an “official” FVers site, are you?

  104. Xon said,

    June 28, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Mark T., sorry my response didn’t satisfy you. What’s the problem with it, and I’ll try to do better?

  105. Mark T. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Xon,

    I am not interested in parsing words with you, however, I am interested in reading the FVists account for their apparent inconsistency. If you know of any, I would appreciate it if you passed them along. If not, you would serve yourself well if you were swifter to hear and slower to speak.

    Thank you.

  106. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Mark, what is the “apparent inconsistency” of the FV? Is there but one, or are there more?
    We’d all do well to be swifter hearers and slow to speak.

  107. Mark T. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Tim, please see comment 83 above. Thank you.

  108. Xon said,

    June 28, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    WHAT exactly is it that you want me to “hear,” Mark T.? That I “contradicted” myself? Well, golly, I asked you quite politely to explain how. But you’ve chosen to be annoyed by that follow-up. So, am I supposed to be quick to listen, and not ask any further questions? Being quick to listen means that when someone tells you that you contradicted yourself, that you just shut up and accept that this is what you did? Gotcha. I might need to know your credentials if I’m going to submit to this sort of standard. And, note, you’ll have to be something ‘higher’ than a ruling elder in the PCA. :-)

    While I am by no means a ‘greater light’ of FV, I’m not out of the loop either, and I even have a couple of articles on the federal-vision.com site. So I figured I might be able to answer your question here. IF you were actually interested in the answer, that is.

  109. June 28, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    I do not want to belabor a point if the FVists have answered it; but I would appreciate it if someone could point me to the place where the FVists account for the apparent inconsistency between their professed high view of the Church and their unmistakable contempt for the PCA. I would also appreciate it if someone could point me to a link where the FVists might explain how on the one hand they believe that the Ad Interim Committee completely misunderstood or misrepresented their position, and how on the other hand they believe that their inflammatory rhetoric will foster an environment conducive toward a better understanding of their position.

    Mark T.,

    I understand your two points. I think that this thread has gotten so long that it becomes difficult to trace what was said days and pages ago, so others may have overlooked your earlier post.

    I know of no such site that addresses your two concerns. Honestly, I share an interest in the answers to your questions but I doubt any answers are forthcoming anytime soon. I raised the ecclesiastical question on my blog in significantly different words, but in order to keep the voltage down here I won’t repeat the only direct answer that I found on the net. Trust me, it wouldn’t satisfy you.

    Perhaps one of the FV proponents commenting here would be willing to offer you some insights.

  110. Robert K. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    “I think the root of most FV thinking regarding “high ecclesiology” is found in James Jordan’s work “The Sociology of the Church”, published in 1986 (and actually available for free at biblicalhorizons.com). There Jordan argues that the Church should be thought of along primarily local lines. Not “congretagionalist” lines, mind you, but local. So, “the church” in Athens, GA–i.e., all faithful congregations in the city together–is the fundamental unit of ecclesiastical evaluation, and not the various denominations that all those congregations happen to belong to.”

    In other words, when it comes down to practical matters, you’re Independent Fundamentalist Baptist without the Fundamentalist or the Baptist part. This is your ‘high ecclesiology.’ Your high ecclesiology is similar to your confessionalism. You claim it then redefine it, all so as to have everything just as you demand it to be.

    You really just need to join the Roman Catholic church. It’s followers act the same way, and your doctrine puts you under the same kingdom anyway.

  111. Mark T. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Xon,

    Thank you for proving my point. The reason I said that I would not parse words with you is because you appear oblivious to the content and tone of your words. For example, consider this statement: “But you’ve chosen to be annoyed by that follow-up.” I have made no such choice because I am not in the least bit annoyed. However, I am convinced that the FVists, including you, regularly engage in this kind of immature dialog, wherein you divine the thoughts and intents of others and establish groundless conclusions based upon your divinations. Therefore, I will not engage you. And, once again, I urge you to be be swift to hear and slow to speak.

    Thank you for providing the URL to the FV site.

  112. Xon said,

    June 28, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    However, I am convinced that the FVists, including you, regularly engage in this kind of immature dialog, wherein you divine the thoughts and intents of others and establish groundless conclusions based upon your divinations.

    Hm.

    All I meant by “annoyed” was that you were refusing to ‘engage’ me (except you keep doing so, but now that really is annoying to point out!) when I asked you how I contradicted myself. I can see that using a word like ‘annoyed’ required a speculation slightly beyone the facts in evidence, so for that I apologize.

    But you asked for information, I tried to provide it, you told me I ‘contradicted’ myself, I asked you how. You then said you would not “parse words with me.” You did this from a mature and even-keeled evaluation of the objective realities of the situation, you say. Fine and dandy. In any case, though, I asked you sincerely for a follow-up and you, without any history of interacting with me at all, refused to give it. And you did all of this because you claim to know that I am “immature”. Or at least that I engage in “immature dialog,” all because I used the word ‘annoyed.’ And, oh yes, this ‘proved your point’ all along, which was actually not about some self-contradiction among us FVers (#83), but was about how we FVers engage in immature dialog. All along, that was your point, yup?

  113. Xon said,

    June 28, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Mr. Mattes, for the record I hope you now see that I attempted to do precisely what you suggested in 110, but Mark T is not interested in hearing my answer. I’m at least glad to see that there are others who thought it would be appropriate for someone like me to offer an answer.

  114. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Mark T., I’m not FV (per se), but I’m interested in kicking around some possible answers to your two questions. (If need be, I can start a blog and put them up, that way there’d be site!)

    1) High view of church vs. contempt for PCA – Honestly, I’ve not read any contempt for the PCA as such, but for the report itself. More to the point, I think that FV folks that I’ve read have a high view of church broadly and historically, but specifically with reference to the formal worship in the church and the formal discipline in the church. The study committee is neither formal worship nor formal discipline. It was not even a research committee (at least I’ve been so told). It was a group formed to oppose the FV at the GA level. I see absolutely no inconsistency in opposing that kind of (what seems to me) naked political move within the PCA and having a high view of the church (PCA included). However, even if one, two or a dozen FV fellows turned on the PCA, that is not the same as opposing the church. Segments of the church (whole denoms, even) can become judicially apostate. To oppose such apostacy is ACTUALLY love for the church and not contempt. More…

  115. Mark T. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Xon,

    Please read the content and tone of comment 113 very carefully and count the number of times that you put a pejorative twist on my words or else completely misrepresented me. Then ask yourself why anyone should bother to speak to you at all.

    For the record, you can have the last word; I will not respond to any more of your diatribes.

    Thank you.

  116. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    2) This is a stange “inconsistency,” but here goes: The committee misrepresented FV proponents but “they believe their inflammatory rhetoric” will provide a place where understanding will abound. Mark T., this almost makes me blush by taking it seriously. First, there is nothing here any more inconsistent than saying, “On the one hand dolphins and on the other prunes.. explain that inconsistency to me.” Also, I’m not sure what all the FV guys “believe” about their “inflammatory rhetoric.” I’ve not read an essay on the “The Transformative Power of Inflammatory Rhetoric: Being Understood in the Context of Theological Controversy,” and I don’t think it’s likey. Here’s why:

    At the heart of what your saying is that FV folks have been inflammatory in their language and still complain about being misunderstood. That’s critique is true enough. The unsavory attitudes and speech can certainly be found on both sides, however. The cries of misunderstanding seem to come primarily from one. So, you’re right. FV guys should be closer to sugar and puppy dogs than to vinegar or, better, single malt. I think that the overly-inflammatory language is sinful and should be repented of – on both sides. It does not yield a forum for good communication. That’s why I don’t expect to be reading that essay mentioned above.

  117. Mark T. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Tim,

    You lost me when you wrote, “It was a group formed to oppose the FV at the GA level. I see absolutely no inconsistency in opposing that kind of (what seems to me) naked political move within the PCA and having a high view of the church (PCA included).”

    You lost me because, contrary to your misrepresentation, the Report states, “The 34th PCA General Assembly appointed an ad interim committee,

    “to study the soteriology of the Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn Avenue Theologies which are causing confusion among our churches. Further, to determine whether these viewpoints and formulations are in conformity with the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards, whether they are hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion, and to present a declaration or statement regarding the issues raised by these viewpoints in light of our Confessional Standards (M34GA, 34-57, III, pp. 229-30).”

    Once again, I do not want to engage you or anyone else, I simply want a better grasp of the facts at hand, not your misinterpretation of them.

    Thank you.

  118. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Mark, maybe I am wrong. However, my “misinterpretation” has been borne out by numerous PCA folks here (some officers, too). I understood the committee to be a fact-finding, research committee. However, I’ve been told that I was incorrect, but that it was function as a lawyer, collecting data against the FV/NPP/AATs that were “causing confusion in the churches.” See #s 82-91 above to join that conversation. Also, your little dig at the end felt great. For one who’s so sensitive with how folks write to you, you don’t follow the golden rule none too well.

    Also, it’s too bad that I lost you before you got to the substance of my answers to your questions. Try interacting with the substance.. or at least rereading it. It was an honest attempt to answer your questions.

  119. June 28, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    My apologies for not seeing your answers previously in comment #100. Popping in and out I miss things. And please call me Bob. I’m much more comfortable with that.

    My “high ecclesiology” requires little from me in that case as far as the denomination is concerned.

    I understand your answer, but I find it troubling. Presbyterian polity is not a local phenomenon. I understand that FV isn’t congregational in nature, but it does look “tribal” to me from your description. If loyalties are local, then who holds the local “tribe” accountable for their teaching? I don’t mean this to be pejorative, but the local loyalties argument is the same used by the League of the South to support their desire to cede from the Union. Is that just a coincidence or related to the fact that several FV leaders apparently hold exactly those political sympathies? That’s an honest question, not a joke or anything else.

    On the second question, I agree that there’s more heat than light generated because everyone wants to make a “sale.” FV isn’t that hard to understand despite the rhetoric of always being misunderstood, but there seems to be little willingness for the FV officers in the PCA to consider that they may be wrong if 95-98% of their brothers believe they are and document the specifics. Even at low voltage, all I see is entrenchment rather than self-examination.

  120. June 28, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    I understood the committee to be a fact-finding, research committee. However, I’ve been told that I was incorrect, but that it was function as a lawyer, collecting data against the FV/NPP/AATs that were “causing confusion in the churches.”

    Tim,

    I already answered this in #75. I realize that there are lots of opinions-not-based-on-fact from folks who have no idea. Please don’t allow yourself to be mislead by them.

  121. A. Dollahite said,

    June 28, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Mark T.,

    (I’m saying this in all sincerity.) I could be wrong, but I don’t recall seeing you around these parts of the Internet previously. Also, we don’t know each other from Adam, so I don’t expect my words to carry much weight, but I’d ask you to consider what I have to say anyway, and then dismiss it if you think I’m blowing smoke.

    From what I understand, you came here to “get a better grasp of the facts at hand” concerning certain issues related to the FV. What I observed was two people who are pretty informed about the FV attempt to engage you in discussion. You felt their interaction rude and not worth more time. Thus, in the span of a few posts you’ve written off both Tim P. and Xon as immature, oblivious, word twisters, and misrepresenters.

    Like I said, we don’t know one another…etc. But I think if you asked some of the locals, even those vigorously opposed to the FV like Lane, Anne, and David Gadbois, they would encourage you to reconsider your choice to not engage them. I think most people here who have great amounts of experience interacting with Tim and Xon would say they are two of the most balanced and well-intentioned people here. They disagree with them most of the time, but they have respect for them. Of course, at the end of the day, it’s really your choice whether you want to talk to them, so do what you want.

  122. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Mr. Musings, I’m not contending that the committee was lawyering in any real, bu that it was assembled to address the problem of FV/NPP. It was not assembled to address it impartially, but negatively. They were left an out, as they were instructed “to determine whether these viewpoints and formulations are in
    conformity with the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards,
    whether they are hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion….” Are you saying, Mr. Musings, that the committee was assembled as an impartial research, fact-finding committee and that it was to have no slant toward or away from the FV/NPP discussion?

  123. A. Dollahite said,

    June 28, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Bob (if I may call you that),

    I’ve seen you twice affirm that the purpose of the committee you served on was not to act as a lawyer against the FV and NPP, for which I am grateful. Still, confusion (see #121) surrounds exactly what the purpose of the committee was. In my opinion, the confusion here goes back to the beginning parts of the thread where someone said that the report wouldn’t stand the test of time because the committee was “stacked.”

    David Gadbois responded (#23) to that by stating:

    This assumes that a study committee must give both sides of an issue an equal hearing. That is not necessarily the case. I wish FV advocates would show that they have at least read and considered the Humbleanswers explanation of the role of a study committee:

    The Assembly received overtures from five Presbyteries expressing their concerns about the FV and NPP; the Assembly considered a motion which would give the Moderator authority to appoint a Study Committee on these matters; that motion was explicitly worded to declare that the Assembly believed these views to be “causing confusion among our churches;” (emphasis mine)

    I interrupt the quote at this point to highlight that according to Humbleanswers the motion to form a committee centered around the claim that the FV and NPP were causing confusion among the churches of the PCA. But this claim and the decision to form the committee can be interpreted at least two ways.

    1) The people who proposed the motion assume a priori the source of the confusion was with the FV and NPP (i.e. at their core the FV and NPP were rotten). So, from their perspective, when the motion to form a study committee passed overwhelmingly, it was an affirmation of their central assumption that the FV and NPP must be wrong at their core. At this point, the committee’s job was to demonstrate the underlying central thesis that the FV and NPP cause confusion because they are wrong in some way(s). Therefore, it wouldn’t be unfair to not have representatives of the FV and NPP on the committee because that would be like putting the accused on the jury or on the prosecuting lawyers’ team. This seems to have been the argument of David Gadbois, as well as the remaining part of the Humbleanswers quote…

    not a single speaker (to the best of our collective recollection) rose to speak in favor of the FV or NPP; and the motion was passed overwhelmingly. It may be that the writers did not agree with this expressed will of the Assembly, and we respect their right to dissent, but it was the expressed will of the Assembly nonetheless. Not only do we believe the actions of the Moderator to have been entirely proper, but we believe it would have been highly improper of the Moderator to have appointed even one man to the Committee who was a proponent of views that the Assembly believed to be “causing confusion among our churches.”

    2) To others, the decision to form a study committee did not mean that the FV and NPP were already assumed to be wrong, but was more about finding out if the confusion that surrounded the FV and NPP was a really a result of:

    a) real flaws within the FV and NPP

    or (as an inference)

    b) with something outside the FV and NPP if the study committee determine the FV and
    NPP to be in accords with the WS.

    It seems to me that you as a committee member support #2 as the correct interpretation. Am I correct?

  124. Xon said,

    June 28, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    HI, Bob. Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify.

    I have no problem with a “bigger” geographical level. So, all the faithful congregations in Georgia come together sometimes too. Or all the faithful congregations in the U.S. Or the world (now we’re talking!). That is the “General Assembly” level that I would like to see, not just all the churches in the country from one denom called the PCA.

    If anything, I’m advocating a stealth presbyterianism, becaue it’s all in the name of all faithful and broadly orthodox churches supporting one another. But the basic governmental structure that would emerge would be ‘presbyterian’ (no bishops, but simply the leaders of all the churches in an area, or in the entire country, meeting together as relative equals).

    Though you and I probably would disagree a bit on exactly how much interference a “central” body should be allowed to have over a local body, I am not a “local absolutist” or anything like that. As for comparisons b/w FV and those who believe in the right to secede from the Union, I’m not inclined to make too much of this. For one thing, some unions need seceding from, right? It’s a case-by-case kind of deal, unless you think the American Revolution was wrong (or are willing to credit it with an “FV” mindset).

  125. Mark T. said,

    June 28, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Mr. Dollahite,

    I understand that, unless you read the entire thread carefully, it’s easy to jump in it half informed or completely uninformed, depending on how deep you jumped. My first comment appeared on line 83, and I could be wrong but it’s a pretty simple request. First, I did not want to belabor the point, and second, I asked anyone to point me to a link that addressed my concerns. Neither Xon nor Tim answered my request, however each man made indefensible statements that reinforced my desire to not belabor the discussion. Yes, I am aware that I cut each man off rather directly and I do not apologize. Each man predicated his argument on false premises that, if pursued, would only lead to more of the vain jangling that has polluted cyberspace for the last two weeks; hence my original request.

    You may dispute this. I do not claim divine inspiration. But I have been careful to not impute motives or misrepresent the words of others and I disagree with your assessment that I “felt their interaction rude and not worth more time.” In fact, I am convinced that interaction with both men is not worth the time because neither man advanced a reasonable premise whether or not others think that they are “two of the most balanced and well-intentioned people here.” It has nothing to do with rude, balance, or intentions. It has everything to do with each man’s unwillingness to ground their arguments on facts consistent with the truth.

    Thank you.

  126. tim prussic said,

    June 28, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Mark… enough. Do a google search. Google is also pretty anti-social. Should work out fine for ya.

  127. June 29, 2007 at 7:55 am

    Andy,

    People who don’t like the outcome of the GA vote have come up with all kinds of X-File scenarios. There’s no accountability system on the blogs, so people can say whatever best suits their cause. The committee did exactly what it was tasked to do by the 34th GA as I posted in #75–no grassy knoll or weather balloons involved, and it wasn’t rocket science. There was extensive debate at the 35th GA over the process and all this was put to bed by an overwhelming vote. End of story.

  128. Xon said,

    June 29, 2007 at 8:01 am

    Bob, just to be fair here, Andy is saying that he’s been hearing the “prosecuting lawyer” explanation of the committe from David Gadbois, who is not an FV sympathizer. David loves the result of the GA vote.

  129. tim prussic said,

    June 29, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Mr. Musings, Xon is EXACTLY right. The analogies that have been used come from R.C. Sproul and David Gadbois, not from FV moonbats.

    I am interested (quite honestly, I am) in your answers to my questions in #123.

  130. Robert K. said,

    June 29, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    >”People who don’t like the outcome of the GA vote have come up with all kinds of X-File scenarios. There’s no accountability system on the blogs, so people can say whatever best suits their cause. The committee did exactly what it was tasked to do by the 34th GA as I posted in #75–no grassy knoll or weather balloons involved, and it wasn’t rocket science. There was extensive debate at the 35th GA over the process and all this was put to bed by an overwhelming vote. End of story.”

    This won’t do, because FVists are vain, self-centered, juvenile attention-seekers. You can’t describe this momentous event in their collective lives in such a run-of-the-mill way. How dare you.

  131. A. Dollahite said,

    June 29, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    Bob,

    I think we’re in agreement over the purpose of the study committee…it was to investigate the FV/NPP without a predetermined outcome. You weren’t lawyers building a case for the prosecution.

    Since we agree on that, it’s obviously a related argument where we have strong disagreement. That argument is simply this: the composition of the committee was stacked against the FV from the beginning. I’d like to paint a picture of how I see it, but of course you are free to disagree and tell me that I’ve completely lost my marbles. I really, really don’t mean to be overtly offensive.

    Imagine a study committee was formed to determine whether you, Bob Mattes, taught views that caused confusion among the Church. Included on this committee are three people who have publicly and loudly criticized your work previously. Two other people and I are put on the committee as well, but we have no prior substantial interaction with your views. Finally, three people support your view are placed on the study committee Oops, actually none of your supporters have a voice. This is odd of course because the study committee doesn’t already know you’re wrong, they’re still trying to figure it all out.

    But, off the six of us go to study your views. Over the study period we read stacks of things you’ve written in various formats, but we never actually contact you or any of your friends because we think we already have all we need to understand your view from the blog posts (everyone knows how crystal clear blog posts can be) and books you’ve written. Also, oral conversations can be tricky since people can say one thing and then say another, and people might not notice (and unfortunately, no one thought to use a tape recorder and then transcribe the conversations).

    After our study period we report to the rest of the church that you are in fact out to lunch. Oh, and by the way, we’ve included your view alongside some other guys’ views because you’ve had a couple meals together at a local restaurant, so it would be good in some way to deal with you both, despite your many differences, at the same time. Our report is overwhelmingly passed since many of the members voting don’t have much background knowledge of your views, and since our committee is filled with wonderful men (no really, they are wonderful men) who already spent countless hours studying your position it would be awfully strange not to support the findings. Also, perhaps the most respected man in the denomination gets up and says that to not support our report is to allow justification by faith to be left under attack.

    And in the distance I hear you objecting that you never had a chance to actually participate in thenot predetermined committee. But hey, my report has already been approved by everyone except a small handful, so clearly what we did was right. You of course would find this scenario ridiculous and absurd, but that’s because it’s not actually happened *to you*.

    It’s always easy when we’re not the ones under the microscope.

    Sincerely,

    Andy Dollahite

  132. Mark T. said,

    June 30, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Andy,

    Taking a quick moment out from my anti-social Google search, your analogy fails to distinguish between the doctrines in question and the men who hold the doctrines. The 34th GA appointed an Ad Interim Committee to determine “whether they [the doctrines in question] are hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion, and to present a declaration or statement regarding the issues raised by these viewpoints in light of our Confessional Standards.” GA did not appoint an Ad Interim Committee to judge any teacher in particular, as you framed it with your analogy.

    Secondly, I’m curious why you believe the 34th GA had an obligation to appoint FV sympathizers to the Ad Interim Committee, especially when you note that they declared that the doctrines in question had already caused “confusion in our churches,” which obviously assumes an element of error; hence the aforementioned charge.

    Thank you.


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