An Answer to TE Rob Rayburn, Part 1

The first claim that TE Rayburn makes concerns the makeup of the panel of the SJC that was appointed to hear the PNW case. I have emailed RE Duncan. I am not at liberty to divulge the details of that email, but I am satisfied that the makeup of the committee was not rigged to ensure a particular result. Notice that TE Rayburn does not come out and say that it was rigged. He more asks the question of whether it was above reproach. Certainly, one can agree with TE Rayburn that the conduct of a juridical body in such a high-profile case ought to be above reproach. One can also wonder whether, in such high-profile cases, it would behove TE Rayburn to ensure that he knew the inner process of the SJC proceedings before making an innuendo public regarding its behavior. Why throw the question out there, if one is not aware of the entire proceedings? TE Rayburn’s comments could be viewed as an attempt to delegitimize the panel entirely. Now, I have been convinced that the ending makeup of the committee was not rigged. But since I am not aware of any members of the SJC who are favorable to the FV error, I really question whether the result would have been any different had there been a completely different makeup to the panel.

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84 Comments

  1. January 26, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Hey Lane, maybe they could get their definition of a fair hearing in the CREC. I think that it may be worth a try.

  2. David Gray said,

    January 26, 2010 at 10:43 am

    >Hey Lane, maybe they could get their definition of a fair hearing in the CREC. I think that it may be worth a try.

    Love the “civility”.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    January 26, 2010 at 10:50 am

    People have different definitions of “civility,” David. I have promised civility in my own posts. I cannot promise civility in the comments, into which I have traditionally allowed a certain amount of heat. But David, you don’t know Bob Mattes like I do. I happen to know that this was a sarcastic comment, certainly. However, lack of civility? Bob is not belittling TE Rayburn in any way. He is poking fun at the FV’s tendency to view agreement as the only possible basis of fairness.

  4. January 26, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Lane – Thanks. You’re right on target as usual.

    Having been labeled a demon and Satan (amongst quite a number of other non-favorable things) by FVers at various points, I’ve become a bit of an expert on FV civility…

  5. David Gray said,

    January 26, 2010 at 11:35 am

    >However, lack of civility? Bob is not belittling TE Rayburn in any way.

    So if I suggested that his natural home was the PCUSA I’d not be belittling him? I’m sorry if I’m not catching the distinction as clearly as you’d like.

  6. January 26, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Dave,

    Here’s the key line you seemed to have missed in Lane’s comment:

    Bob is not belittling TE Rayburn in any way. He is poking fun at the FV’s tendency to view agreement as the only possible basis of fairness.

    Note the emphasis on the concept rather than the person.

  7. pduggie said,

    January 26, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I don’t think anyone in the FV has said that everyone has to agree that they’re right.

    I think the issue is that you could disagree with the FV, but please don’t think it strikes at the vitals of the confession. FV men generally all claim to agree with the ‘vitals’ of the confession.

    I never agreed with Boice’s sabbath breaking or favoring ordained deaconesses, but didn’t think his view struck at the vitals (even though he was vitiating 1/10th of the moral law and undermining the complementarian structure of humanity as male and female)

  8. pduggie said,

    January 26, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    so the issue is, what kind of men are on the deaconess panel or sabbath panel or free offer of the gospel panel? All in agreement on the topic? No, but you can probably not have a panel composed of only people who already think it strikes at the vitals.

  9. David Gray said,

    January 26, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    >Note the emphasis on the concept rather than the person.

    So you are arguing that you were misunderstood?

  10. January 26, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Not by Lane.

  11. January 26, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    It would be helpful if the FV proponents/sympathizers would apply the same standard they demand of their own theological positions (i.e. indifference) to a Presbytery’s choice of committee members. Perhaps we should bring in some people who don’t have any formed opinions about anything whatsoever. That would probably make it fair, huh?

  12. January 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    pduggie,

    For the record, I do not think that Boice should have been allowed to take an exception to one of the Ten commandments. So, you have my narrow opinion!

  13. January 26, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    [...] So the guy who defended a “study committee” utterly stacked to “defend the Gospel&… What more could anyone need?  Kick out the stool and lots watch them all dance in the air. [...]

  14. ray kikkert said,

    January 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    These whines from Rayburn and FVer’s have a familiar ring to them …. remember the Wilkin’s case? …

    The FVer’s also have a familiar tone to those of the remonstrants prior to the synod of Dort … against the reformers.

    No assembly will suffice them unless…. it is held in the CREC.

  15. Mason said,

    January 26, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Great post, Rev Keister. Look forward to your next response to Pastor Rayburn.

    Out of curiosity though, is there a clear, transparent process for the SJC panels (and the determination of their composition)? Is there a transcript of their discussions? As one not familiar with the inner workings of the SJC, I wonder why he would make such an innuendo, and if there is any objective evidence to refute his claims.

  16. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 26, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Lane: Certainly, one can agree with TE Rayburn that the conduct of a juridical body in such a high-profile case ought to be above reproach.

    So the question is then, “What is the appropriate remedy”? You suggest that a different panel would probably have had no effect.

    I see three possibilities:

    * The panel could make known its inner workings so as to clear out any appearance of impropriety,
    * A second panel properly chosen could re-hear the case, or
    * The SJC could overlook the “exception of form” and receive the report anyway.

    Several factors would then need to be balanced.

    Are there other possible remedies?

    Lane: One can also wonder whether, in such high-profile cases, it would behove TE Rayburn to ensure that he knew the inner process of the SJC proceedings before making an innuendo public regarding its behavior.

    Assuming he had access to the inner process; or if he did, assuming that he was as assured as you that there was no rigging (Not saying there was … I’m saying that the rest of us are working in a vacuum here).

    Jeff Cagle

  17. Andrew Voelkel said,

    January 26, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    It is obvious that Rayburn isn’t thrilled about the makeup of the panel, but his gripe is much bigger. He is questioning whether the SJC has been operating in accordance with our (PCA) Rules of Assembly Operation (RAO).
    Rayburn insinuates that the SJC originally did not observe RAO 17 when selecting its original panel, and furthermore, he insinuates that the final makeup of the panel may still out of accord with our Standing Rules.
    I find it hard to believe SJC would have been (or would still be) in violation of our RAO 17 or any other Rule of Assembly Operation.
    But I find it equally hard to believe that Rayburn would insinuate such a violation, unless it was true.
    I certainly don’t know what to think of this whole debacle, but it should be easy enough for SJC to stay above reproach and to abide by our rules. And I suspect that this particular issue can be resolved to the satisfaction of both SJC and PNW Presbytery, so that the heart of the matter can be addressed without any cloud of suspicion.
    For those interested, RAO 17 is pasted below:

    ————–
    RAO 17-3. The Standing Judicial Commission may appoint a judicial panel of
    not less than three of its members to hear the case in accordance with the
    provisions of the Rules of Discipline in the BCO and these Rules of
    Assembly Operations. Such panels shall be chosen as follows:
    a. A pool with the names of teaching elder members shall be
    established, and another pool with the names of ruling elder
    members shall be established. The chairman of the Standing
    Judicial Commission shall draw by lot names of panel members
    and alternates from each pool and notify the Stated Clerk of the
    General Assembly, who shall notify, immediately, those so
    chosen.
    b. If a panel member so selected shall be disqualified under Section 6
    of the “Operating Manual for Standing Judicial Commission,” he
    shall be replaced by the alternate drawn from the pool.
    c. The names of those panel members selected and qualified shall
    not be returned to the pool until all names therein have been
    exhausted. The name of an alternate, who does not serve as a
    panel member, shall be returned to the pool. The names of those
    members whose terms expire at the next General Assembly shall
    be withdrawn from the pool on March 1 of that year. Immediately
    after each General Assembly the name of each new member
    selected at such General Assembly shall be added to his
    respective pool.
    d. If a case is pending and a judicial panel has been appointed as set
    out above, and another case is filed from the same presbytery,
    the officers of the commission may elect to assign the second
    case to the same panel without resort to the pools. The officers
    of the commission may assign the additional case or cases to the
    same panel without resort to the pools only if: (1) the facts of
    the cases are so interconnected that assignment to different
    panels reasonably appears to require repetitious consideration of
    the same factual circumstances; or (2) assignment of unrelated
    cases to the same panel is agreed to by all parties to all of the
    cases.

  18. Ken said,

    January 26, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    A question that occurs to me would be, “have any or all of the SJC members made their positions on things FV known or their opinions regarding Leithart’s orthodoxy known prior to the convening of the SJC?”

    If there is a “yes” answer to the former then one might perceive the SJC to have been rigged, although having an opinion, outspoken or not, is not an automatic disqualifier for a jurist.

    If a jurist has already made an opinion public regarding Leithart’s views in light of past statements, then I’d argue that jurist is disqualified from the outset.

    Presumably, Lane, you’re satisfaction with TE Duncan’s response indicates that you are not aware that any of the jurists have made public their opinions regarding TE Leithart’s orthodoxy in the past.

  19. January 26, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    [...] the Federal Vision seems to be heating up. Lane Keister at Greenbaggins has an update regarding the complaint that the Standing Judicial Commission of the PCA is “stacked” against the Federal [...]

  20. Lee said,

    January 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Lane,
    You know which side of the debate I am on in this, but as far as this point goes I have to say that so far it is Rayburn 1 and TR’s 0.

    Arguing about the make up of panels has a long history in the Presbyterian church that can back to at least Samuel Hemphil’s case in the 1730’s. The New Side Presbyterians made the same argument about who was qualified to judge and so it goes throughout the history of the church. Which is why following all the rules of the BCO and RAO are so important. Were the rules followed and complete turn over occur? I have to admit your post has me wondering. I can agree with you that the committee was not stacked or rigged, but that is not the same as following procedure, which is really what Rayburn alledges. Can you give us assurances that RAO (17-3) was followed? If so, the Rayburn is wrong. If not then they broke the rules and why is unimportant. As you stated, such things should be above board.

  21. proregno said,

    January 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Boy o boy o boy.

  22. proregno said,

    January 26, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Apologies for that post, was just testing to see if my post work.

  23. ray kikkert said,

    January 26, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    What about RAO 17-3 part D that was stated above? Is this not in play with the issue of Leithart?

  24. January 26, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Mason, RE #14,

    Out of curiosity though, is there a clear, transparent process for the SJC panels (and the determination of their composition)? Is there a transcript of their discussions? As one not familiar with the inner workings of the SJC, I wonder why he would make such an innuendo, and if there is any objective evidence to refute his claims.

    Yes. Every meeting produces minutes. Case summaries are published every year for the General Assembly minutes and are reviewed by the General Assembly. The PCA processes are exact and transparent.

    I can only assume the innuendo was made from a sour grapes perspective, just as the rest of the letter reads. AFAIK, FV has yet to prevail in any decision of any orthodox Reformed denomination. I guess they’re getting more desperate as time runs out.

  25. David Gray said,

    January 26, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    >I can only assume the innuendo was made from a sour grapes perspective, just as the rest of the letter reads.

    The ending of that sentence is truly bizarre. It didn’t read at all like sour grapes but like somebody pointing out certain realities.

  26. January 26, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    DG,

    I’m shocked that you’d say that. Just kidding.

  27. January 26, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Update on the Johannes Weslianus Blog…

    Wes White provides the update and Brian Carpenter adds some further thoughts on the situation in Siouxland Presbytery and the unconfessional teaching of some. These posts are very helpful in seeing the context of what is going on. Also, Wes White provi…

  28. David Gray said,

    January 26, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    >I’m shocked that you’d say that. Just kidding.

    Glad I didn’t give you a coronary. But as critiques go do you really think that can be taken seriously?

  29. January 26, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    > AFAIK, FV has yet to prevail in any decision of any orthodox Reformed denomination.

    In summary, what/where are the decisions against FV, especially those that address the ’07 FV Joint Statement ( http://www.federal-vision.com/resources/joint_FV_Statement.pdf ) ?

  30. Mason said,

    January 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Thanks for the info, Bob. I do think TE Rayburn’s first few points sound like sour grapes (like a losing football team complaining about the referees) but I do think he makes some valid arguments later in the piece. I am interested to see how Rev Keister responds to those.

    On the other hand, he wasn’t pointing out any “realities,” and there was a tone of desperation in his letter, even if he makes some solid points. I agree with you: that no Reformed denomination has ever sided with the FVers underscores the degree of error in their beliefs.

  31. January 26, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    DG,

    But as critiques go do you really think that can be taken seriously?

    Rayburn’s? No.

  32. J.Kru said,

    January 26, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Lane, I’m not asking for the contents of that email, but why can’t you divulge it? More importantly, how do you get this information that cannot be divulged? Do you have some kind of special standing? How could I go about getting that information for myself? If that email contains information that would convince you that the “committee was not rigged to ensure a particular result,” probably most fair-minded people would agree.

  33. January 26, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    J.Kru,

    I think it’s enough that Lane has stated that the material is private. It is not appropriate to probe beyond that point. Either you trust Lane’s judgment or not. That’s the only public issue. Private exchanges are no one else’s business, fair-minded or not.

  34. Reed Here said,

    January 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Lane: thanks. I think that your suggestions about how TE Rayburn might have satisfied his concern of the “stacked” appearance of the panel are on target. As it is, he appears to build on his question, assuming that the appearance of illegitimacy supports (validates?) his claims of errors on the panel’s part.

    It does nothing of the sort. Rather, in my ears it rings like more of the hollow, empty of fact complaining about “unfairness”. I almost hear an echo of egregious and slanderous DW’s comments about the SJC with regard to the Wilkin’s case.

    I wish TE Rayburn has chosen to be more temperate.

    Aside, please refresh my memory someone, what role does monocovenantalism play in Leithart’s position(s)? The more I listen, the more pernicious this subject appears to be, at least at it appears to be commonly constructed by the FV.

  35. Steven Carr said,

    January 26, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    pduggie # 8

    You probably think that the Synod of Dordt was rigged since it kicked out the Remonstrants. I bet you even think that the Council of Nicea was somehow rigged because there were not enough Arians on the Council. The “panel was rigged” line is what the losers always use. Just ask the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they use that line all the time.

  36. pduggie said,

    January 27, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Carr: No, that’s not what I think. I’m suprised to have my views guessed at in such a way.

    There actually were Arians on the council though.

  37. greenbaggins said,

    January 27, 2010 at 9:59 am

    As I said in the post, I emailed RE Sam Duncan, from whom I got detailed information of how the panel was selected. From that information, I made my judgment that the makeup of the panel was not rigged to ensure a particular result. RE Sam Duncan told me that that information was not for dissemination on the blogs or anywhere else. If the SJC decides they want to make it known, that’s their business, not mine. But I dare not go one step beyond what RE Duncan has instructed me, and that is because I trust RE Sam Duncan.

  38. pduggie said,

    January 27, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I think it would be more instructive to respond to Leithart (the man in question) than Rayburn (a defender).

    http://www.leithart.com/2009/12/12/baptismal-efficacy/#more-7125

    I hope you’ll do that too.

  39. greenbaggins said,

    January 27, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I’ll consider it, Paul. I have already done a fair amount of response to Leithart’s positions (in particular, I went through his article in the Federal Vision book in some detail). But TE Rayburn has attacked the SJC in a way that TE Leithart did not. That is primarily the impetus for my responding to TE Rayburn at the moment.

  40. January 27, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Reed,

    Aside, please refresh my memory someone, what role does monocovenantalism play in Leithart’s position(s)? The more I listen, the more pernicious this subject appears to be, at least at it appears to be commonly constructed by the FV.

    Leithart’s view is that the pre- and post-fall covenants are the same, with differences being only incidental. Both require walking in faithful obedience, and both are essentially gracious. The pre-fall covenant had nothing to do with soteriology or with Adam’s communion with God. He was already God’s friend, and all he needed to do was walk in covenant faithfulness.

    I know….

  41. greenbaggins said,

    January 27, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Lee, I think Ray has hit the nail on the head here. Section c is qualified by section d in RAO 17. And I am not convinced that the turnover has not occurred, either. Section d is not explicitly talking about two cases from two different Presbyteries. However, the SJC may have a history of applying that section to very similar cases that cross Presbytery lines.

  42. pduggie said,

    January 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    “The pre-fall covenant had nothing to do with soteriology ”

    That’s kinda right, isn’t it? Adam didn’t need saving, and he wasn’t in a state of demerit.

  43. January 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Yeah, that’s why I included the bit about the pre-fall covenant having nothing to do with Adam’s communion with God. I’m working from memory, but I think the “soteriological” part was from Leithart’s own response to the GA FV Report.

  44. January 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    OK, here’s the actual quote from Leithart:

    “There is discontinuity between the Adamic covenant and the post-lapsarian covenants, though I do not believe the discontinuity lies in the manner of communion with God. God sovereignly created Adam in a state of favor, and Adam was to walk in that favor by faith that expressed itself in obedience. So also, God sovereignly brings us into a state of favor through His Son, and we walk in that favor by faith expressed in obedience. The differences between Adamic and post-lapsarian covenants are not at a ‘soteriological’ level (i.e., not a contrast of a ‘legal’ versus a ‘gracious’ covenant), but at the level of covenant administration.”

  45. pduggie said,

    January 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Is it incorrect to say that we walk in the favor of God by faith expressed in obedience?

    Is it incorrect to say that Adam was to walk in the favor of God by faith expressed in obedience?

    In leithart’s clarification, he says we are brought into communion with God in a way unlike that of Adam, in that we trust in a mediating Son. (and Adam is naturally in communion), but that once in communion our trust and obedience are like Adam’s.

    I suppose you could argue that since Adam’s obedience was tied to something else also as a public representative, that we have to radically distinguish the obediences and faith required.

    But just because jesus’ cross was his was of saving everyone as a representative doesn’t mean when he tells us to “take up our cross and follow after him” that the ‘manner’ of our so doing isn’t supposed to be the ‘same’

  46. J.Kru said,

    January 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    #33, #37: Lane can account for his own opinion based on a personal email, but if anyone is going to make a decision based on evidence, it has to be evidence, not hearsay.

    TE Rayburn has raised a question as to whether RAO 17 was properly followed. It’s a fair point. The response ought to be, “Yes, RAO 17 was followed just as it says – we drew by lot, exhausted the pool, etc.” If the response is anything other than that, why would it need to be a secret? And if it needs to be a secret, then how is it accordance with RAO 17?

    A lot of you have made objections which suggest that you don’t like the issue having been raised by TE Rayburn in the first place – Arians complained, etc. But these objections are invalid. The only proper response to TE Rayburn’s complaint is that his complaint is valid or invalid. If the best you can do is “secret evidence” and not one explanation of how, for example, all the names on the panel actually had been exhausted (contra TE Rayburn’s disbelief), then you will have to concede the point to TE Rayburn.

  47. tim prussic said,

    January 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    As one on the outside of the PCA watching this, I am not satisfied with Pr. Lane’s comments above. I know of human sinful tendencies in these situations, as I deal with them in myself (as do all the minsters and elders in the PCA). Pr. Rayburn’s comment that all should be beyond dispute is very powerful. There are plenty of PCA ministers/elders that have it in for the FV and want all traces of it rooted out of the denomination. So be it. However, the open aspect of keeping all above board is a significant factor in keeping this sort of thing from turning into a witch hunt, which it can easily turn into.

  48. January 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Paul,

    Here’s a good article that I just found from Tabletalk: Evangelizing Our Children. It starts and ends with an brief discussion of the covenant promises to our children.

  49. January 27, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    tim,

    We have a process for amending the Standards. I haven’t seen a line at the door packed with FVers submitting proposed changes. Nothing is stopping them. The sound of crickets is deafening…

  50. pduggie said,

    January 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Ooh, I like this method of evangelism of children

    “Third, have your children, every Lord’s Day, in the worship of God, under the preaching of the Word, in the fellowship of the saints, partaking regularly of the Lord’s Supper from their earliest ability to confess their faith to the elders. “

  51. January 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    RE #50

    ?

  52. Reed Here said,

    January 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    J.Kru: I disagree.

    Rayburn has biblical call to assume the best of his fellow elders. There is no appearance other than that based on his own conviction that the SJC panel found wrongly. Would he have questioned their makeup, and the process used if the panel had found in favor of Leithart? The basis of his complaint suggest not, but I’ll not conclude that.

    Further, especially for someone with rayburn’s experience in the PCA, he knows better than most how the SJC functions. If he believes the system is being abused, there are better means of pursuing that.

    Ergo, criticism in this post of his action is valid.

    Criticism of his arguments is valid if it is addressed to the arguments made. I believe Lane’s second post does offer valid criticism by this definition.

  53. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Pduggie: Is it incorrect to say that we walk in the favor of God by faith expressed in obedience?

    Is it incorrect to say that Adam was to walk in the favor of God by faith expressed in obedience?

    I think it *is* incorrect to omit the crucial fact that Adam was able to lose his position of favor by means of a single act of disobedience.

    Christians “sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, guaranteeing their inheritance” are not.

    Thus, the terms of Adam’s covenant operated on a “disobey and die” principle — which the confession calls a “covenant of works” — that is lacking in our covenant.

    Yes: disobedience on our part can be prima facie evidence of unbelief; but one *act* of disobedience does not cause the hammer of the Law to fall as it did upon Adam.

    So I do think that Leithart misses or obscures something by saying that the manner of communion is the same for Adam and for us.

    Jeff Cagle

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 27, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Reed: Rayburn has biblical call to assume the best of his fellow elders. There is no appearance other than that based on his own conviction that the SJC panel found wrongly. Would he have questioned their makeup, and the process used if the panel had found in favor of Leithart? The basis of his complaint suggest not, but I’ll not conclude that.

    Further, especially for someone with rayburn’s experience in the PCA, he knows better than most how the SJC functions. If he believes the system is being abused, there are better means of pursuing that.

    Reed, I don’t know. Not saying you’re wrong … I just don’t know. He’s pointing out an apparent violation of the RAO.

    So: to whom can Rayburn appeal? He addressed the letter to the SJC.

    It was apparently leaked either by himself or someone else to the public at large, but it is written to the SJC.

    So what should he have done differently? Changed his tone? Yes. Appealed to the facts? He seems to do that.

    It’s a flawed letter, but he’s got real points.

    Jeff Cagle

  55. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 27, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Pduggie, a followup on #53. Adam was in a state of blessedness that could be lost. Genuine Christians are in a state of blessedness that cannot be lost.

    “Ah”, you say, “but who are the genuine Christians? We don’t know — we only know who is a baptized professing member of the Church.”

    Right, so there is a problem of knowledge wrt who is a genuine Christian. But that’s only for us, not for God. Not in reality.

    In reality before the face of God, there was a genuine difference between Adam’s state and the Christian’s state. It is this difference Leithart obscures.

  56. Reed Here said,

    January 27, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Jeff, #54: I consider myself corrected by your helpful insights. I didn’t keep in mind that was addressed to the SJC itself, and we have been unnecessarily made aware of his comments.

    Whomever did so can provide insight that would determine whether or not Rayburn has offered more than some unhelpful tone.

  57. J.Kru said,

    January 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Reed – In this day and age of waffling and mealy-mouthed inoffensiveness, I found it refreshing when you said, ‘I disagree.’ Thank you for being straightforward as well as kind.

    Rayburn has biblical call to assume the best of his fellow elders. There is no appearance other than that based on his own conviction that the SJC panel found wrongly.

    Well, the whole basis for the complaint to the SJC by the minority was that they felt the PNWP found wrongly. If TE Rayburn can’t do it, how can the minority?

    Furthermore, TE Rayburn stated that it seems hard to believe that the pool was exhausted and rebooted between winter and spring. (Or were they other seasons? Forgive me if I misremembered that.) I’ll admit that seems difficult to believe, but not impossible. I’d like to hear someone say, “Yeah, we had to toss the names back in the hat because we ran out.”

    Would he have questioned their makeup, and the process used if the panel had found in favor of Leithart? The basis of his complaint suggest not, but I’ll not conclude that.

    Probably not. But I bet the minority would have, and I would support their doing so also.

    Further, especially for someone with rayburn’s experience in the PCA, he knows better than most how the SJC functions. If he believes the system is being abused, there are better means of pursuing that. Ergo, criticism in this post of his action is valid.

    I may be wrong, but a formal complaint to the SJC seems to be the best way to pursue it. I can think of a lot of worse ways but I can’t think of any better.

    I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you Reed, because, as I said, any evidence ought to be as public as the results.

  58. J.Kru said,

    January 27, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Sorry, I forgot the close italics. From “well” to “ran out” should not have been italicized. (Italicked?)

  59. Reed Here said,

    January 27, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    J. Kru: good enough.

  60. January 27, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Jeff:

    The source address is here, as provided at the top of this thread:

    http://providencestlouis.squarespace.com/storage/Rayburn_SJC_Brief.pdf

  61. January 27, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Jeff:

    Part 2 of a simple search: Dr. Rayburn’s letter appears to have first been posted here:

    http://biblicalhorizons.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/rob-rayburns-sjc-brief/

    on 22 January 2010.

    Lane has instead provided the link to the pdf version, as shown above.

  62. pduggie said,

    January 27, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    @RM #51: Its a quote from the TableTalk link. You like it too? I like it.

  63. pduggie said,

    January 27, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Jeff

    1) I’m not sure Leithart would disagree that the defectability of Adam colors the communion he had with God in some way. The manner of communion might still be the same though. I think the recent Kerux article does well in reminding us that the confessional doctrine of the OT and NT is willing to see the manner of communion as the same in both covenants even though the mosaic covenant is somehow ‘legal’ in its ‘administration’

    2) focus on a ‘state’ might obscure the personalism of our situation. We don’t just posses a ‘state’. We have Jesus praying for us. Why does Jesus say, for instance that the elect would be deceived if it were possible. At the least, we may hypothetically be lost. We would be lost, except God preserves us from being lost.

    And there is a condition that will cause us to lose our salvation: if we become faithless. Is not the new covenant conditional, conditional on faith? Right? That’s why Jesus prays that we won’t lose our faith: because if it was lost: we have a bigger hammer waiting. If we blaspheme the Spirit, we can’t even be forgiven. Adam could be forgiven.

    And I surely need to think about this more, but WLC #20 says that God’s providence to Adam was ‘ affording him communion with himself’ quite separate from the covenant of life.

    (Your talk of the hammer of the law being held over adam’s head almost makes him sounds like someone in Galatians in bondage to law, or in bondage to sin already through fear of death or something.)

    Perhaps Leithart would say more though: and add the manifestly true fact that Adam did not have a promise of preservation than we have in our covenant.

  64. Lee said,

    January 27, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Lane,
    You said, “Section d is not explicitly talking about two cases from two different Presbyteries. However, the SJC may have a history of applying that section to very similar cases that cross Presbytery lines”

    Not only is Section d not explicitly talking about two cases from two different presbyteries, it appears to exlicitly rule it out. Section d starts by saying [emphasis will be mine]
    “IF a case is pending and a judicial panel has been appointed as set
    out above, AND another case is filed from the SAME presbytery”
    I am not sure how the SJC could ever apply this to similar cases from different presbyteries. And if they did they would be in violation of any plain reading of that rule.

  65. Lee said,

    January 27, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Sorry “exlicitly” should be “explicitly” in the 6th line.

  66. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Pduggie (#63):And there is a condition that will cause us to lose our salvation: if we become faithless. Is not the new covenant conditional, conditional on faith? Right? That’s why Jesus prays that we won’t lose our faith: because if it was lost: we have a bigger hammer waiting. If we blaspheme the Spirit, we can’t even be forgiven. Adam could be forgiven.

    Yes, the covenant is conditioned on faith. However, once “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise”, the inheritance is guaranteed. This is what the entire chapter on perseverance in the WCoF is all about (and also in the canons of Dort).

    Viewed from God’s point of view, a person who comes to faith (by the regenerative work of the Spirit) will not finally fall away.

    It is only when we look from man’s point of view, when we see those who have evidence of faith, that we can say that someone “loses faith” (as in Rom 11). But in reality, as God sees it, there is not a genuine faith that was lost; it was the outward manifestation of faith only.

    I think this reading makes the best sense of the warning in Heb 6: there are those who fall away, but the author is “convinced of better things, things that accompany salvation” of them. This implies that those things that accompany salvation are opposed to those things that lead to falling away.

    Also, check out Calv Inst. 3.21.7 and notice the bifurcation between the elect and the reprobate. Contrast that with the “in some sense” language of Wilkins’ treatment.

    Jeff Cagle

  67. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Pduggie (#53): I’m not sure Leithart would disagree that the defectability of Adam colors the communion he had with God in some way. The manner of communion might still be the same though. I think the recent Kerux article does well in reminding us that the confessional doctrine of the OT and NT is willing to see the manner of communion as the same in both covenants

    I greatly that hope that Leithart does not disagree, and that he can clear himself and help us map his “mode of communion” language to more standard categories.

    Is the Kerux article talking about the covenant of works in the garden, or about the Mosaic covenant? We recall that the standard confessional language is that the Mosaic covenant was “an administration of the covenant of grace” — but not so with Adam.

    Jeff Cagle

  68. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Pduggie (#53): focus on a ’state’ might obscure the personalism of our situation. We don’t just posses a ’state’. We have Jesus praying for us. Why does Jesus say, for instance that the elect would be deceived if it were possible. At the least, we may hypothetically be lost. We would be lost, except God preserves us from being lost.

    I agree that our situation is dynamic rather than static: God maintains our salvation. That’s why my bedrock point about assurance rests on the sealing with the Holy Spirit, who continues to bear the fruit of faith in us.

    That said, our situation is also *certain*. The Holy Spirit in us was put in as a deposit to guarantee our inheritance, not merely help us get there. So we may “hypothetically be lost” needs to be bounded by “if it were possible” — which it isn’t.

    And here I’m saying “our” referring again to those whom *God sees* as His children. We don’t have complete access to that view, but rather partial evidence of who those are. Invisible/visible.

    Jeff Cagle

  69. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 28, 2010 at 8:21 am

    @63

    Paul – Hi – you wrote:

    And there is a condition that will cause us to lose our salvation: if we become faithless. Is not the new covenant conditional, conditional on faith? Right? That’s why Jesus prays that we won’t lose our faith: because if it was lost: we have a bigger hammer waiting. If we blaspheme the Spirit, we can’t even be forgiven. Adam could be forgiven.

    It seems you are not taking the fact that faith is the gift of God into consideration when you say that. I believe, but it is God that makes me to believe. I don’t have faith because I believe, I have faith that God has given me. Even though I believe, it doesn’t depend on me at all, it depends on God alone. Yes we must all still believe, but if one ever thinks it depends on himself, the object of his faith isn’t really Jesus. The faith that God gives to a person when the Holy Spirit regenerates him doesn’t stop. Just because there are some that can construct a frame of mind that to his own unregenerate heart he calls faith, and uses the expressions that to men are identical with genuine God given faith, it is never the less counterfeit, a forgery. What those get in the sacraments is judgement and condemnation, because they are secretly, and impenitently living in sin.

    Your first proposition is backwards. Salvation is not something to be lost, but obtained. It is not how to lose salvation but how to obtain it. The obtaining it is conditional, but those conditions even those in the persons of the saved are all supplied by God.

    So, while salvation is conditional on faith in Jesus Christ, it is God that supplies it. God supplies everything we need to be saved, but only supplies that to those He himself has chosen. God doesn’t save us because we have faith, He saves us by grace through faith which is the gift of God. God the Holy Spirit does not slack off on those for whom Jesus Christ gave his life. Why would you think that the Holy Spirit would give some kind of faith to those for whom Christ did not give His life? The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and either Christ lived and died for a particular person or not. If not, then that person’s thoughts / frame of mind about Christ life and death and his relationship to Christ is a lie, it is not faith, it is conceit, and that can’t (and doesn’t) come from Holy Spirit.

  70. orthodoxbritneyspears said,

    January 28, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Lane wrote, ” If the SJC decides they want to make it known, that’s their business, not mine.”

    A question from the outside. In the PCA the SJC’s minutes are available correct? If they are available, why can’t this question about the BCO and procedure be answered easily?

    The idea of “if they want” to reveal whether they followed procedure or not doesn’t seem to fit the transparency that is highly regarded in Presbyterianism.

  71. Wes White said,

    January 28, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Now see TE Lane Keister’s reply to Rob Rayburn’s son-in-law, Josh Moon, pastor of Good Shepherd PCA in Minnetonka, Minnesota below:

    http://johannesweslianus.blogspot.com/2010/01/te-lane-keisters-protest-in-response-to.html

    Neither this comment nor the reply were posted with TE Keister’s permission.

  72. January 28, 2010 at 10:11 am

    #70:

    “The idea of ‘if they want’ to reveal whether they followed procedure or not doesn’t seem to fit the transparency that is highly regarded in Presbyterianism.”

    This would be a good place to remind people not to make the mistake of taking a commentator’s words as necessarily identical with the views or positions of the thing or group in view. Lane’s words are not necessarily identical with whatever position the SJC may have or may take. Lane’s words, “if they want” constitute his assessment of the situation, but you can’t impose those words on the SJC as if they used those same words or took that same attitude. You have to wait for a statement of reply from the SJC [which I'm sure will not be as immediately forthcoming as some would like ]

  73. Andy Gilman said,

    January 28, 2010 at 10:55 am

    1) I’m not sure Leithart would disagree that the defectability of Adam colors the communion he had with God in some way. The manner of communion might still be the same though. I think the recent Kerux article does well in reminding us that the confessional doctrine of the OT and NT is willing to see the manner of communion as the same in both covenants even though the mosaic covenant is somehow ‘legal’ in its ‘administration’

    And there is a condition that will cause us to lose our salvation: if we become faithless. Is not the new covenant conditional, conditional on faith? Right? That’s why Jesus prays that we won’t lose our faith: because if it was lost: we have a bigger hammer waiting. If we blaspheme the Spirit, we can’t even be forgiven. Adam could be forgiven.

    Christians are kept in communion with God by faith. Faith in Jesus Christ. Pre-fall Adam was kept in communion with God by obedience.

    This is one of the many places where I believe FV confusion is repeatedly exhibited in this debate. Paul, playing the FV advocate, asks whether the new covenant is “conditional on faith?” Yes, we say, it surely is. But it is conditioned on faith as defined in our confessions. It is not conditioned on faith, that equals faithfulness, that equals obedience, as defined by the FV. The new covenant is conditioned on faith in Jesus Christ, which is a gift of God to those who would otherwise die in their misery. The old covenant was conditioned on Adam’s obedience to the command not to eat of the forbidden fruit, an obedience which God did not give as a gift to Adam. Therefore the communion was disrupted by Adam’s disobedience.

    An argument might be made that the disobedience flowed out of a “lack of faith,” but if your going to do that then “faith” has to be much more carefully defined. Does the Bible ever refer to Adam’s transgression as a lack of faith? I don’t see where it does. It says “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you…Cursed is the ground because of you.” This is kind of startling coming from those who claim to adhere so closely to the Biblical language. Does anyone know of any confessional documents that refer to Adam’s disobedience as a “lack of faith?” I haven’t found it in the Westminster Standards or the Three Forms of Unity.

  74. January 28, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Paul,

    And there is a condition that will cause us to lose our salvation: if we become faithless.

    Wrong. If we “become” faithless, then we never had saving faith from the beginning. This is explicit in a number of Scriptures, esp. 1 Jn 2:19.

    Is not the new covenant conditional, conditional on faith?

    Not in the sense of your previous sentence. God chose the elect before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4) without regard to their works (cf Rom 9:11). Our election depends only on God’s sovereign choice and the perfect life and sacrifice of His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Our salvation is apprehended by faith, but that we will do so is not in question in the eternal sense. By God’s grace, we cannot undo or fail in our election. It is entirely based in God’s free grace – by grace through faith, and that is a gift of God (Eph 2:8). It is conditioned only upon Christ’s fulfillment in his perfect life and on the cross. At its core and of its nature, the Covenant of Grace is unconditional.

    Some make a distinction between the essence of the CoG and its administration. They would say that the CoG is unconditional in its essence, but carries the condition of faith in its administration.

    Historically, a lot of the variance comes from whether one lumps the Covenant of Redemption and CoG into one covenant or keeps them separate. A.A. Hodge has a nice discussion of this combining or not combining covenants in his Outlines of Theology.

  75. Reed Here said,

    January 28, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Wayne, nos. 60-61: am I correct that it appears that Jeff Meyers (Providence in St. Louis, right?) and then Jim Jordan (Biblical Horizons, right?) made Rayburn’s comments public? No conclusion, just the question.

    One of the things I’ve appreciated about how the SJC functions is that they will not make any public comments of any sort on any matter until it has been concluded by GA. Would that those who made the decision to make Rayburn’s comments public consider the same. At least wait a few months until the whole SJC responds, or better yet until GA (we’re only talking months).

    Whatever happened to pursuing the peace of our church as we pursue her purity?

    Please, no objection from the other side at this point. I agree the same principle applies to both sides. To my knowledge, most if not all of those opposed to the FV invovled in case matters have kept such proceedings confidential until the court either made things public or granted them permission.

    Exceptions to this won’t change my opinion. I’d rather not be reading and fretting over Rayburn’s comments. It is enough that I worry and pray for my brothers in NW Presbytery as I await their faith’s and mine’s reward as we express our convictions in what it means to be confessional/connectional.

    Releasing these comments at this point was wrong.

  76. Reed Here said,

    January 28, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I just saw this linked at Heidleblog and thought it very appropriate and humorous warning to us all.

    Argument Clinic

  77. pduggie said,

    January 28, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I think Rayburn decided to make Rayburn’s comments public. You could ask him.

  78. January 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Reed:

    “Wayne, nos. 60-61: am I correct that it appears that Jeff Meyers (Providence in St. Louis, right?) and then Jim Jordan (Biblical Horizons, right?) made Rayburn’s comments public?”

    No, you didn’t get that quite correct. Jeff posted on the BH blog the text of Rayburn’s letter, and in his intro to that letter, also gave a link to a pdf version posted under his church’s web address. The pdf file is located in a blind folder, unlinked from the church site itself.

    I was unable to find any earlier posting of Dr. Rayburn’s letter elsewhere, nor did I find any indication of where Jeff got a copy of the letter.

  79. pduggie said,

    January 28, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    1) apparently Leithart does not disagree that Adam’s situation of being defectable through one act of disobedience is something that colors the manner of his communion with God [personal communication]

    2) to Andrew. I agree with your 1st two paragraphs and thank you. Not the last. I think Downame has some good stuff to say about the benefit of temporary faith/knowledge as a gift from the Spirit.

    3) I was instructed by the Kerux article greatly, but also felt sympathy for the Klinean side. In response to more reflection on the nature of covenants (a pretty newly formulated idea when the confession was written) Kline looks at Moses and the WCF and says “look how much analogy there is between the Mosaic and Adamic situations. We really need to be careful and distinguish them both more sharply from the Covenant of Grace”

    FV looks at the same, and says “well, I want to be faithful to the fact that the WCF sees the Mosaic covenant as a covenant of grace too. I’ll deal with the similarity by emphasizing some of the *gracious* continuity between the Adamic and Mosaic covenant.” All that stuff at the start of the Kerux article about anti-pelagianism applies in the Adamic situation too. “What do you have that you did not already receive”.

    Could not Adam also pray like Augustine “give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt”. Or would he pray like Pelagius?

  80. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Re: #79

    Or neither. We don’t really have a way to intuitively reach back and figure out what it would have been like for Adam.

    Think more on Augustine’s prayer. It flows out of a sense of depravity. That’s not Adam’s prayer. Think more about Pelagius’ view: God has given me an example, and I’m on my own.

    Neither of those really fits Adam’s situation.

    To say that Adam was under a works principle does not argue for or against the need for him to have faith. He did in fact need to have faith, to trust that “in the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.”

    No, the works principle is found in the relationship between his action and his reward. The action is the instrumental cause of the reward, according to God’s decree (pactum merit view taken here).

    So it’s entirely likely that Adam had to exercise some faith in order to obey. But whether or no, his disobedience was the direct cause of the Fall.

    By contrast, the works of Christians are a secondary cause, because the actions of themselves don’t rise to the level of meeting the righteous requirements of the moral Law. Thus, our disobedient actions do not receive the reward they deserve; and our obedient actions receive disproportionately more reward than they deserve, because we are in Christ. It is his righteousness that is the cause for our reward.

    Adam wasn’t “in” any federal head — he *was* the head — so his actions counted directly against his situation.

  81. Reed Here said,

    January 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Wayne, #78: so Jeff Meyers seems to be the first to post this publicly, now at Biblical Horizons?

    Paul, #77: I appreciate the point. I’m deliberating not assuming anything about Rayburns’ actions. He may or may not have given his permission.

    My point is intended to be rather general, not specifying at all who may be the one to blame (assuming my criticism were to stand). I do not think this was the best action to take, regardless of who took it, in light of where things now stand.

    Imagine the poor brothers on the SJC panel, their reputations challenged in a way that leaves them unable to offer even the smallest of legitimate defenses. This is not treating our brothers they way we wish to be treated.

    I know I have somewhat of a reputation for such criticisms. I’ll not apologize. We who wear the badge of Christ shepherding office by our ordination are called to a level of integrity in such matters of which this practice falls short. I cannot help but consider how this grieves our Lord, and calls for His judgment.

  82. January 28, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I find it interesting that the Rayburn Letter to SJC is posted on the website of Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church, which is where Jeff Meyers is Pastor. Many know of Meyers from Auburn Avenue and Federal Vision links….

    http://providencestlouis.squarespace.com/storage/Rayburn_SJC_Brief.pdf

  83. November 26, 2010 at 8:13 am

    [...] the GA FV Report, Peter Leithart reported his views to the Presbytery, and the Presbytery, led by TE Rob Rayburn of Tacoma, Washington, stated that his views were acceptable. A series of appeals followed. This finally resulted in a [...]

  84. August 4, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    […] the Federal Vision seems to be heating up. Lane Keister at Greenbaggins has an update regarding the complaint that the Standing Judicial Commission of the PCA is “stacked” against the Federal […]


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