Federal Visionist PCA Pastor Craig Higgins’ Vision for bringing the PCA under the Pope

Posted by Wes White, original article here.

Last week, the Aquila Report featured an article by John Otis detailing the Roman Catholic views of of PCA Pastor Craig Higgins. Now, I would not have been surprised if he would have said that Higgins believes in baptismal regeneration, wants to return to many Roman Catholic rituals, emphasizes the Church year, and sees Lent as a very important Christian practice.

What surprised me is that Higgins actually has proposed that the PCA return to diocesan bishops and go back under the leadership of the Pope. I’m not kidding. Yes, he does not hold to papal infallibility, and he wants the Pope to exercise authority only with a council, but let us remember that Higgins’ view was one of the major viewpoints within the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages and was the view of many within the Roman Catholic Church long after the Reformation.

PCA Pastor Craig Higgins is Pastor of Trinity PCA in Rye, NY. Trinity is part of Tim Keller’s “Redeemer Network” and a part of the Metro New York Presbytery.

For readers who might be wondering if Higgins should be considered Federal Vision, Otis also writes:

As one delves into his [Higgins'] thesis, one soon finds that his views are hardly Reformed and Confessional. Moreover, his quotes from Calvin are totally misused. He will readily expose himself as solidly in the Federal Vision camp. At places, he will cite to his defense none other than the notorious company of N.T. Wright, Peter Leithart, Norman Shepherd, and Rich Lusk.

What I would like to reproduce here, though, is Higgins’ proposal for placing the PCA under Papal supremacy. Otis points to two different paragraphs in Higgins’ article on ecumenicity:

“Third, the unity we seek should be both conciliar and, yes, episcopal. While wholeheartedly agreeing with the position of all the Reformed churches that a corporate episcopate is (at least!) as faithful to the apostolic tradition as is monepiscopacy, and while agreeing that the latter was not practiced universally until centuries after the apostolic age, we in the Reformed churches must admit that the Church did become near-universally episcopal, and that the historic episcopate is an important witness to the Church’s unity. Therefore, if we are to work toward the visible unity of the Church, we should, I am increasingly convinced, defer to the wisdom of the majority in the Great Tradition and embrace the ministry of bishops.”

“One last comment:In Ut Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II has invited all the churches to discuss how the Petrine office should function in a reunited Church, and Reformed churchmen should welcome this conversation. Our idea of concentric circles of conciliar accountability would lead us to teach that, if the Church were visibly united around the world, there would need to be an ecumenical council, meeting as necessary to govern and guide the Church.The above argument for a (reformed) episcopacy would also lead us to teach that such a council would need a ‘presiding bishop,’ serving asprimus inter pares among his brothers, and historically such a position of honor has fallen to the bishop of Rome. How would we envision a Reformed(!) Petrine office? First, as argued above, any such primacy would need to be exercised in a conciliar fashion; the universal episcopate must be seen first as a pastoral, rather than a juridical, office. The idea that the pope has an authority that exceeds even that of an ecumenical council must be rejected. Second, we must humbly but firmly insist that the dogma of papal infallibility is not only foreign to the holy Scriptures but also is not a catholicdoctrine at all, but a sectarian one. The dogma of papal infallibility is a serious obstacle to true ecumenism, and another example of where the unity we seek awaits further reformation[6] (Emphases are from Otis).”

Posted by Wes White

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160 Comments

  1. KEn Pierce said,

    March 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Lane,

    You sure are mean spirited. I mean, to quote someone speaking their own words. How divisive you are! You need to go and confess to your priest, and maybe he can offer you some absolution.

  2. Paul Duggan said,

    March 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    “pope” has a defined referent, as “that guy in rome who is head of a church with certain beleifs about theology, including his own primacy and infallibility”

    So I don’t think its accurate to say that Higgins (who I have never heard of before in FV circles, and is not on the secret FV cabal email list) suports putting the PCA under the “pope”.

  3. Paul Duggan said,

    March 24, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    If we want to play this game, BTW, all you hymn singers who celebrate Christmas are on the road to Rome, and should be judged by God as Nadab and Abihu were.

    That’s the endpoint of Otis’s vision. I used to be there. If the PCA wants to go back that way, I’ll sign up and start bringing charges against my elders at Tenth.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    March 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    You’ll do, Ken. Bless me father, for I have sinned in allowing Wes to post this…

  5. Carter said,

    March 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Cool. I guess the Reformation really is over.

    And here I was, prayerfully considering membership in the PCA. Might as well swim the Tiber and leave out the middleman!

    Now, I know this is slightly (!) off topic, but I have wondered what a productive interaction with Catholicism should look like, in other words, how can we as Reformed or evangelical Christians interact with the RCC without sacrificing biblical doctrine? This is probably beyond the point of this point, but if anyone had a resource they could push me towards, that would be much appreciated!

  6. March 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Paul, did you actually read the post?

  7. March 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    As one who was once Reformed and graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philly), my prayers go up for Pastor Craig Higgins.

    However, if Higgins is sincere about ecclesial unity, the sacraments, bishops, the role of the successor of Saint Peter, and the Catholic Faith, then he should not seek to keep one foot in a Reformed jurisdiction and another in that of the Holy Father. He should happily embrace the Holy Catholic Church of Christ our King.

    The Reformed faith, while retaining elements of orthodox Catholicism (Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, etc.), has denied five of the sacraments (Confirmation, Penance, Unction, Orders, Matrimony – and even the Eucharist), the ancient three-fold order of bishop/presbyter/deacon, the communion of the saints, the Petrine ministry, apostolic succession, the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, the sacrificial aspect of the Holy Eucharist, the importance of sacred art and the veneration of the Immaculate Mother of God and All Saints.

    Calvin’s community is one of perennial division, doctrinal chaos, and white-washed walls. It is a community for those whose faith centers on “eternal decrees” and abstract concepts regarding forensic maneuvering. It lacks the flesh and blood manifestation of the early Church. It is not the united sacramental community of St Clement, St Ignatius, St Polycarp, St Justin, St Irenaeus, St Athanasius, St Basil, St Ambrose, or St Augustine.

    I admire Higgins’ appreciation for the historic Faith, but those who are “truly Reformed” will crucify him. We Catholics (who were formerly-Reformed) would welcome him with open arms!

    To him and all my Reformed brethren who look to Rome with fraternal (even filial) devotion, please don’t tarry. Become Catholic and submit to the doctrine and jurisdiction of the Pope – the Vicar of Christ on earth.

    Sincerely in Christ,
    Taylor Marshall

  8. March 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    He was called “Pope” long before the doctrine of Papal infallibility.

  9. Paul Duggan said,

    March 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Ok, so Otis claims ” his quotes from Calvin are totally misused. ”

    So here’s Higgins:

    “In his Instruction for Christian Doctrine in Young Children (1538-39), Calvin
    stresses the role of baptism in forming Christian identity.

    Teacher: My child, are you a Christian in fact as well as in name?
    Child: Yes, my father.
    Teacher: How is this known to you?
    Child: Because I am baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son
    and of the Holy Spirit. (Q & As 1 & 2)

    In fact, throughout his teaching Calvin stresses the efficacy of the sacrament of baptism. In his Catechism of the Church of Geneva (1545), he speaks of baptism in terms of “entry into the Church. For in it we have a testimony that we, while otherwise strangers and aliens, were received into the family of God, so that we are reckoned among his household” (Treatises 133).12 Yet Calvin’s view of baptism is nuanced. In response to the catechism question, “Do you regard the water [of baptism] as the washing of the soul?” he responds, “Not at all. For it is wrong to snatch this honor from the blood
    of Christ.” Yet, when asked in the next question, “But do you attribute nothing more to the water than to be a mere symbol of ablution?” he responds, “I think it to be such a symbol that reality is attached to it. For God does not disappoint us when he promises us his gifts. Hence both pardon of sins and newness of life are certainly offered to us and received by us in Baptism” (133). He continues, after an additional question, by adding, “Many by their wickedness preclude its [the grace of baptism’s] entry, and so render it
    empty for themselves. Thus its fruit reaches the faithful only. But thereby nothing is lost to the sacrament” (134).”
    ————

    So ok, Otis, what is *totally* misused here? What’;s misquoted? What is the context that shows the misuse. I’m open to the possibility, but want more than assertion.

  10. Paul Duggan said,

    March 24, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Yes, I did read it. If pope is juts a perment moderator of session, who can offer pastoral care to pastors, what’s the big deal. That’s not the current papacy, surely.

    My dad was chairman of the pastoral oversight committee in the OPC presbytery for a time. So he was the main guy with oversight of bishops: archbishop. Big whoop.

  11. Danny Patterson said,

    March 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Paul,

    You have got to be kidding me! This is, at best, prelacy, which is completely contrary to the Scriptures, and vests power in the clergy alone. Higgins is NOT saying that the pope is just a permanent moderator of session who offers pastoral care to pastors. I mean, come on, Paul, really. Even if, for the sake of the argument, he is just the first among equals, we still have a form of government which claims that the church is, in its essence, about a visible organization whose power rests in the hands of bishops, rather than the church as a whole (which is the genius of Presbyterianism). What’s the big whoop? The big whoop is that if someone in the PCA (a protestant denomination last time I checked), is advocating prelacy (at best), he is in violation of his ordination vows and should be dealt with in a loving yet swift manner.

  12. March 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    [...] Roman Schizmatic Megalomanic. [...]

  13. gairneybridge said,

    March 24, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    This makes me so sad. Craig Higgins was my RUF campus minister (fresh out of WTS) when I was in college around 1990.

  14. Ron Henzel said,

    March 24, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Taylor,

    You wrote:

    Calvin’s community is one of perennial division, doctrinal chaos, and white-washed walls.

    As a former Roman Catholic who is still in close touch with its internal workings through family members, I can amply testify as to how this ridiculous slur is far more true of the Church of Rome than of the true followers of John Calvin. It was, in fact, the doctrinal chaos of the medieval period (especially with respect to soteriology, but also other points of theology) that led to the Reformation in the first place. And the number of Roman Catholic institutions of higher education, monasteries, cloisters, and other organizations that are breeding grounds for heresy and theological liberalism defies counting. As William F. Buckley once said on his own “Firing Line” program, the Catholic Church today is more Pelagian than ever before in its history, and that would be just the tip of a very large iceberg. And don’t even get me started on the child abuse scandals that have been occuring across generations, dragging on for years in the media, are have now even reached the papacy itself.

  15. Ron Henzel said,

    March 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Regarding comment 8: the title of “pope” (Latin, papa) was actually commonly applied to many bishops from the second century until the Middle Ages. It took some time before it came under the sole proprietorship of the bishop of Rome.

  16. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    March 24, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Will PCA pastor Craig Higgins be formally disciplined by the PCA?

  17. Ron Henzel said,

    March 24, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Carter,

    You asked:

    …how can we as Reformed or evangelical Christians interact with the RCC without sacrificing biblical doctrine?

    The word “interact” is ambiguous. You can “interact” by joining, dialoguing, debating, shunning, condemning, and probably a host of other things. What kind of interaction are you looking for?

  18. David deJong said,

    March 24, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    The title of the post should at least be “a pope” rather than “the pope.”

  19. Paul Duggan said,

    March 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I cheerfully withdrawl from any debate on the topic of the ilicitness of contemplating prelacy and how evil it is because of my uncertainty of the nuances and the fact that my father in law is a episcopal pastor.

  20. March 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I’m not quite sure I understand the fuss. Pr. Higgins is definitely not saying we should be Catholic–if it were, the Orthodox and the Catholics would be reunited, for the Orthodox could agree with the sort of papacy outlined here. Nor is he arguing for Orthodoxy, as he insists that the doctrine remain Reformed. Nor does he say Apostolic Succession is necessary. So really, all he’s arguing for is orthodox Anglicanism, with the “pope” fulfilling the role the Archbishop of Canterbury does. Now we might say there are problems with Anglicanism (there surely are today, but there are also problems with Presbyterianism today), and perhaps the Scots understood church government better than the English did. But surely, someone who says we should consider whether for the church of Hooker and Handel, of Milton and Lightfoot operates on a better model than ours does isn’t calling for a return to Rome or any such nonsense.

  21. March 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    David, he named whom he thought should be presiding Bishop, the Bishop of Rome. He called it a Reformed Petrine office.

  22. Carter said,

    March 24, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Ron, sorry for my lack of clarity. I was thinking in terms of dialoguing, which would include debate I suppose. In other words, is it possible to learn from Catholics, and is interaction with the goal of reconciliation (as unlikely as this seems), even a possibility at this point? Are there efforts being made to apologetically engage Catholics without either the wishy-washy ECT method, but without calling the inquisition? I am really just curious as to how this is currently done, as Roman Catholic theology interests me (not in a swimming the Tiber sense, just so you know!).

    I hope that made more sense. On another note, from comment 7,

    “It is a community for those whose faith centers on “eternal decrees” and abstract concepts regarding forensic maneuvering.”

    I’m no medieval scholar, and surely you as a RC know better than me, but doesn’t this kind of abstract theologizing apply to Erigena, Abelard, Scotus, Ockham, Aquinas, etc? Given the nigh-on incomprehensible nature of some of their theology, I have a hard time saying Catholicism isn’t under you accusation as well. Again, I have only lightly touched on what these guys have written, so I am not trying to be overly argumentative about things I don’t know very well, so if I am wrong here, I’m willing to be corrected.

  23. March 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I mean, look at that opening quote in the article you link to:

    If we are good Presbyterians, whose consciences should be bound to Scripture alone, then why should we be deemed wise to follow a tradition that Romanism has practiced?

    Like say, celebrating the Lord’s Supper with bread and wine? Like say, worshiping on Sunday? Like say, reciting the Nicene Creed? Like say, believing women cannot be ministers? Like say, confessing the Trinity? Like say, following the Gregorian Calendar? When John M. Otis starts using the Old Calendar I’ll take him seriously. But I won’t take him seriously until he celebrates Christmas on January 5, or not at all, and says Easter this year should not be April 4, but April 11.

  24. March 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Ron Henzel,

    The Catholic Church is far from perfect – as your observations (which are likely accurate) demonstrate.

    However, the dogmas of the Catholic Church do not change. They are available for the world to see. We are one. There are heterodox “Catholic” dissenters, no doubt, but there is no “Catholic Church in America,” “Orthodox Catholic Church,” or “Catholic Church in the United States of America,” or “Association of Catholic Churches,” “French Catholic Church,” or “Scottish Catholic Church.”

    Is Christ honored by the existence of a PCA, OPC, PCUSA, etc.? Saint Paul responds with a resounding, “May it never be!”

    On the other hand, we are simply the Catholic Church – those who follow Christ as the God-Man and obey His vicar on earth.

    The reference to the white-washed walls of Reformed places of worship is simply a matter of fact – seeing that Calvin condemned religious art (and instrumental music, for that matter).

    I am truly sorrowed by the sexual abuse that has occurred in the Catholic Church – and even more, by those crimes committed by clergy. But those who live in glass houses, should not cast stones.

    Ulrich Zwingli confessed to having sex (raping?) a minor – and Zwingli’s doctrine is the dominant theology of the PCA. The man responsible for developing the theological framework of most PCAers was himself a “pedaphile priest.”

    I’m just sayin’.

    Sincerely yours in Christ,
    Taylor Marshall

  25. Ron Henzel said,

    March 24, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Carter,

    Well, if you’re talking about “dialoguing” with Catholics in the sense of “apologetically engaging” Catholics, I don’t know how many takers you’d find on the Catholic side. And then you’d have to decide which Catholics you’d dialogue with. Contrary to Taylor Marshall’s portrayal of Rome as this monolith of orthodox opinion, the theological diversity you’ll find will inevitably lead you to find some you can agree with on various points more than others. I have generally found that converts to Rome from Protestantism tend to be among the most conservative in their Catholicism and hence difficult to deal with. On the other hand, they’re often happy to debate, since they believe they know Protestant theology well enough to refute it.

    Your note on comment 7 seems directed to Marshall, so I’ll leave it alone.

  26. March 24, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I suppose this is too many posts. Rail against Lent. That’s fine. Pretend its Catholic. Maybe it is. But if you want to do so, be honest. Every church named Christ our Shepherd or Christ our Savior, or Christ our Shepherd, or Concordia celebrates Lent. Don’t hold up Luther and rail against Lent. It’s simply not honest. Follow the commandment for honesty. Either conclude Luther under the condemnations, or say Lent (and sacraments) are not anti-Protestant. This is basic honesty.

  27. March 24, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Taylor,

    The problem is that the Novus Ordo mass is, literally, a mess. Doctrine does not make the Church, worship does. And, by Catholic standards, the Lex Orandi in the Catholic Church is shit. If the Catholic Church is the Church, the Church does not pray.

  28. March 24, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Carter,

    You wrote:

    “It is a community for those whose faith centers on “eternal decrees” and abstract concepts regarding forensic maneuvering.”

    I’m no medieval scholar, and surely you as a RC know better than me, but doesn’t this kind of abstract theologizing apply to Erigena, Abelard, Scotus, Ockham, Aquinas, etc? Given the nigh-on incomprehensible nature of some of their theology, I have a hard time saying Catholicism isn’t under you accusation as well.

    I’m not speaking about complex or abstract theology.

    I’m accusing Reformed theology of neglecting the Incarnation by obscuring redemptive-history in its focus on eternal decrees. For example, notions like “invisible church,” “limited atonement,” “covenant baptism,” “supra vs. infralapsarianism,” and “eternity past” suggest that Reformed theology is hung up on “eternal decrees” at the expense of God’s redemptive history – this why Calvinists tend to abstract the Incarnation (images of Christ forbidden in the WCF!!! – how gnostic) and ignore Church History.

    Godspeed,
    Taylor Marshall

  29. Ron Henzel said,

    March 24, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Taylor,

    You wrote:

    …images of Christ forbidden in the WCF!!! – how gnostic…

    So you’re saying, then, that Christ is incarnate through images we make of Him?

  30. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    March 24, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    “What surprised me is that Higgins actually has proposed that the PCA return to diocesan bishops and go back under the leadership of the Pope.”

    I don’t mind Higgins exercising his freedom of speech to express his sincere convictions. I’m just curious that he’s doing so while holding the office of ordained pastor within the PCA.

    As I asked above, will PCA pastor Craig Higgins be formally disciplined by the PCA?

  31. greenbaggins said,

    March 24, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Taylor, you went through 4 church history classes at WTS, and you say that Calvinists ignore church history??? No one could quote the early church fathers like John Calvin could. He had the great majority of them memorized.

  32. Phil Derksen said,

    March 24, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    It is truly breathtaking how some self-professed Reformed people on this blog (and elsewhere) will jump in to defend, or “soften” WHATEVER it is that anyone identified with the Federal Vision happens to say and be criticized for. Nope, it matters not what anti-Reformed (unbiblical) issue it is, they immediately have to find some way, ANYWAY, to at least shield it – baptismal regeneration, works dependant perseverance, temporary justification and union with Christ – and now, almost unbelievably, papal Roman leadership!

    They are obviously determined to defend and/or propagate the FV movement itself, rather than being willing to evaluate and make objective decisions on each issue, on its own merits.

    (I’ll anticipate a likely rebuttal here: No, anti-FVers aren’t doing the same thing by challenging “everything” that FVers say. Each specific issue that has been denounced has been evaluated in the light of Scripture, and the way in which the orthodox Reformed faith has historically understood and confessed them. BIG difference.)

  33. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 24, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    For example, notions like “invisible church,”…

    … which comes from St. Augustine …

  34. March 24, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Phil,

    The problem is when you start anathematizing Bp. Hooker and Lightfoot et. al as Papists; or concluding Luther and Chemnitz Bach et al. under Popery. At least be honest and stop calling yourself Protestant if you think Luther is a damnable Papist heretic, or that Anglicanism is really just a shadow form of Rome. But I suppose if you want to cede Bach and Lewis to the FV…

  35. March 24, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Also, the author of that link is nothing but a lying propagandist. I don’t trust him any more than I’d trust an SS report about England.

  36. Jeremy Bowser said,

    March 24, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    This post is incredibly sad. The FV heresy has now infected so many presbyterys- the damage is just now coming out. These men are lying, deceptive wolves who would devour the sheep of our congregations and hand them over to the anti-Christ (Calvin and Luther were quite clear on who that was …). This just goes to show you that the FV heretics are headed on the path to Rome through sacramentalism, ritualism, and high church ecclesiology. Anyone who suggests the authority of bishops has denied the confessions of our pure Reformed faith.

    Does anybody realize how far this infection of FV has spread? Who can be our Wes White or Jason Stellman to oppose this heresy in the Metro NY presbytery? Honestly, we need to send young pastors to Metro NY and get Higgins defrocked as hopefully will happen to Peter Leithart. My prayer is that God would send forth pastors into the Missouri Presbytery in order to press charges against Jeff Meyers.

  37. March 24, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    You wrote:

    For example, notions like “invisible church,”…

    … which comes from St. Augustine …

    Calvinists like to assure one another that “Augustine was a proto-Calvinist,” but this sentiment is incorrect—as is this assertion that Saint Augustine taught the doctrine of an ‘invisible church.’ Augustine did not teach this. He taught the “Communion of the Saints” – which is distinct from the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.”

    Catholic Christians (like Augustine) believe in the “Communion of the Saints” and the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” – Augustine did not believe in the “invisible church” and the “visible church.”

    I’ll eat crow if you provide a passage and citation from a legitimate work of Augustine teaching the doctrine of the “invisible church.”

    Your brother in Christ,
    Taylor Marshall

  38. David Gray said,

    March 24, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    >These men are lying, deceptive wolves who would devour the sheep of our congregations and hand them over to the anti-Christ (Calvin and Luther were quite clear on who that was …). This just goes to show you that the FV heretics are headed on the path to Rome through sacramentalism, ritualism, and high church ecclesiology.

    So you’re okay with Luther’s ideas on the sacraments, church government, etc.?

  39. Phil Derksen said,

    March 24, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    #35

    That’s an awfully serious charge to throw out there unsubstantiated. And regardless of Otis’ views or character, Higgins’ own words are still Higgins’ words
    (duh).

  40. March 24, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    I’m shocked, shocked that a Federal Visionist would call one of their critics a lying propagandist!

    However, I have never said that all who advocate some form of episcopacy are heretics. On the other hand, I would point out that we are actually a Presbyterian Church.

    But I wouldn’t even condemn them as strongly as Lutheran C.F.W. Walther does us, though I would agree with the general sentiment of Walther when he writes:

    “Inasmuch as all sects allow this thesis, that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus, to stand, they are incomparably superior to the Papacy. They are corrupted churches, but the Papacy is a false Church. Just as a counterfeit money is no money, so the papal Church, being a false Church, is no Church.” (The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, 74).

    That’s the central problem.

  41. David Gray said,

    March 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    >That’s the central problem.

    You agree with Walther. I agree with Hodge. Who’s the Presbyterian?

  42. Ron Henzel said,

    March 25, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Taylor,

    Regarding comment 24, 28, and 37: you obviously live in the parallel, artificial universe of such loathsome papal apologists as Art Sippo, Robert Sungenis, and their putrid ilk.

  43. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 8:21 am

    After reading the original article I have to conclude that the article is fatally flawed. The artcle by Otis is basically a straw man.
    I’ve visited Pastor Higgin’s church & can state emphatically that he is not Roman nor is he FV. The article he wrote for Touchstone magazine was written years ago and his DMinn thesis has been posted for years on their website. He’s definitely not trying to hide anything.
    Higgins while not Roman has Anglican tendencies; he likes to use some anglican liturgy, church calender, & he wears a collar. While not something I would prob do it dosen’t make him a closet agent for the pope either.

  44. greenbaggins said,

    March 25, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Taylor, check out this passage from Augustine’s commentary on 1 John (I’m quoting from the New City Press edition), commenting on 1 John 2:19

    “From this, then, let Your Charity be aware that there are many who are not of us. They receive the sacraments with us, they receive baptism with us, they receive with us what the faithful know that they themselves receive-the blessing, the eucharist, and whatever there is in the holy sacraments. With us they share the altar itself, and they are not of us. (the editor has a footnote here claiming that Augustine was talking about the Donatists, which may or may not be true, but it doesn’t really matter: the Donatists would provide a good case in point) It is trial which proves that they are not of us. When trial touches them, they fly outside as though blown by the wind, because they weren’t grain. But-what must frequently be stated-when the winnowing on the Lord’s threshing floor begins on the day of judgment, then they will all be blown away.”

    The substance of the visible/invisible church distinction is precisely what Augustine said here: that there are those in the visible body who are not faithful, even though they receive the sacraments, the Word, etc. They came out from us, but were not of us. The visible church has many within its pale who do not have true faith. Augustine didn’t use the words “visible/invisible,” this is true. However, the substance of the doctrine is right there for all to see.

  45. Phil Derksen said,

    March 25, 2010 at 9:23 am

    #43

    I too have read the original article – the whole thing. I found it to be a sound, clear and quite compelling analysis, carried out in the classical tradition of doctrinal/theological criticism. So while we will obviously disagree about that, let’s encourage everyone to read through it and decide its merits for themselves.

    Oh yea, wait a minute… On that count I also see that in the comments section to Otis’ article you have insisted that it should be altogether removed from the Aquila Report. As such I certainly have to wonder who it is that might be trying to hide something here.

    Also, let me make sure I have this part of your thinking straight. What you personally perceived when you visited Higgins’ church trumps, and indeed should erase what Higgins has actually wrote and published, which, assuming you don’t get your suppressive way, can be read and studied by all. Alrighty then.

    Also, who said Higgins was trying to hide anything? One of the things that is so remarkable in this case, as Otis amply demonstrates, is that his Federal Vision/Romanish views have in fact been publicly declared, and thus should have been readily apparent for quite some time. Yet nobody has challenged them until now.

  46. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    March 25, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Taylor Marshall: “I’ll eat crow if you provide a passage and citation from a legitimate work of Augustine teaching the doctrine of the “invisible church.””

    Green Baggins: “Taylor, check out this passage from Augustine’s commentary on 1 John (I’m quoting from the New City Press edition), commenting on 1 John 2:19″

    Robust. Solid. “However, the substance of the doctrine is right there for all to see.

    For those with eyes to see.

  47. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 9:44 am

    yes I said it should be removed from the Aquila Report because I feel it is beneath it b/e the article is a straw man which is not representive of Higgin’s thought. My bet is that Mr Otis has not talked to Pastor Higgins personally nor listened or read his sermons.

    As I said Higgins has strong Anglican tendaecies but that does not make him FV nor does the fact that he quotes NT Wright make him New Perspective.

  48. March 25, 2010 at 9:50 am

    #39

    My charge wasn’t unsubstantiated. His introduction paragraph basically said “This is just propoganda. I’m not concerned about truth, but about denouncing people as Roman. I serve the Spirit of Vitriol and Division.” I’ll take him seriously if he tells me that I’m a Papist for celebrating Easter on April 4. I’ll take him seriously when he doesn’t pay lip service to Luther, and then call someone a Papist for celebrating Maundy Thursday. If he wants to praise Luther, he damn well better not think Lutheran practice is damnable Popery, which his article implies.

  49. Andrew Siegenthaler said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Dear Taylor Marshall,

    How can you say, as you do in post 24, that the dogmas of the Catholic church do not change?

    The dogma of the Catholic church once damned me. The Unam Sanctam says: “Further, we declare, say, define, and pronounce it to be altogether necessary for salvation for every human creature that he be subject to the Roman pontiff.” By that pronouncement, I cannot be saved, because I refuse to be subject to the Pope. The Council of Trent anathematizes me for many of the beliefs I believe and teach. Had I lived 500 years ago, I would have suffered the fate of Huss, Savonarola, Tyndall, Ridley, Latimer and the others.

    But now the dogma of the Catholic church accepts me and calls me a brother. The catechism, published in 1995, with Ratzinger’s imprimatur says: “One cannot charge with the sin of separation those who at present are born into these communities that resulted from such separation and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ (that’s me!), and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers (that’s me!).” A few paragraphs later, your catechism says I actually belong to the Catholic Church: “All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God and to it, in different ways belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ (that’s me!), and finally all mankind.”

    And I can’t help noticing that just a few paragraphs later your catechism says, “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” Is that really what the Catholic church believed and taught 500 years ago, that the Christian God and the Muslim God are the same?

    The only thing that has not changed is the Bible.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Andrew

  50. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I would even say that the headline of this entry is iflammatory:

    Federal Visionist PCA Pastor Craig Higgins’ Vision for bringing the PCA under the Pope

    This is written to be uncharitable & protray him in the worst possible light.

    1.higgins is not FV or at least not declared himself FV. There may be overlap but that hardly makes him FV.
    2.Higgins does not propose to move the PCA into Rome. The article is a series of articles by representatives of orthodox groups on how they might possibly accomadate/work with each other. At worst Higgins is proposing an accomodation between presbyterians and some form of Anglicianism.

  51. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:14 am

    I hope Otis doesn’t confess either the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed as there is nothing catholic about his highly developed sectarianism.

  52. Phil Derksen said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:17 am

    #47 and #48, I obviously hit a nerve with both of you.

    #47

    The rationale behind your reation is becoming a hallmark of the FV camp. See comments #34 and #57 under “An Imaginary Conversation” on this blog, and apply it to this case. (If you don’t get the relevance, then retrace the thread of the article’s subjectmatter and commentary.)

    #48

    Your characiture of Otis’ motives and purpose is your personal take and opinion, and is hardly substantial proof of it. OK fine, so YOU think he is a liar. Again, I would simply say let’s all encourage people to read the article and determine these kinds of things for themselves.

  53. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:26 am

    #51 you didn’t hit a nerve I simply answered yr question.

    I have little or no sympathy for the FV. I’ve stated on other post that I esp find Wilson & Wilkins book on slavery to be deplorable. I’m also glad that he left the PCA due to his views in that book and his involvement with neo-confederate groups.
    I’m not defending FV and have no intention of doing so but there is little or no proof that Higgins is FV. Quoting n.Shepherd, leithart, Lusk, etc does not make one FV.
    And the use of Anglican liturgies & celebrating Lent does not make you Roman. How many of you are going to celebrate Easter?

  54. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Debating with Roman Catholic converts under this post is beside the point. The post is whether pastor Craig Higgins is FV & is he working to bring the PCA into Rome. Debating with Mr marshall is distracting.

  55. Phil Derksen said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Debating with Roman Catholic converts under this post is very relative to the point. Since this post is about whether pastor Craig Higgins is FV & is he working to bring the PCA into Rome, debating with Mr. Marshall is very helpful. Thanks!.

  56. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:54 am

    It seems the point of debating with Mr. marshall is to paint Mr Higgins in the worst possible light. Higgins should be based on his testimony not on what Mr marshall says.

  57. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:57 am

    >Higgins should be based on his testimony not on what Mr marshall says.

    That’s only if you’re interested in pursuing truth rather than vendetta…

  58. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I for one would like to see all the complaining about tone simply disappear. So you do not like someone’s characterization. Fine, unless you think it is worthy of calling the person to repent, and following up with charges against them if they refuse, just ignore it.

    Instead speak to the merits of the issue. E.g., is Higgins position consistent with the FV or not, and how? What is the significance of his Anglo-Catholic stance? Is it biblical or not?

    Sheesh some of you are thinned skinned (on both sides).

  59. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

    >What is the significance of his Anglo-Catholic stance?

    Higgins doesn’t seem to share any of the theology I’ve seen in Anglo-Catholics? Did you mean Anglican?

  60. Anne Ivy said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I don’t suppose the fear is that Pastor Higgins is somehow actively working to bring the PCA into Rome; can’t imagine how he’d even be able to do that.

    ISTM the problem is it demonstrates a kindly, friendly attitude toward an ecclesiastical structure that is inherently at odds with the Presbyterian structure. And the friendliness wouldn’t be a problem, necessarily, except for the “that system is preferable to the Presbyterian system” theme which underlies the author’s article.

    Presbyterian elders who have an affinity for a non-presbyterian form of church are likely to cause problems at some point, unless they keep their wishes to themselves. Which Pastor Higgins might in fact be doing, if this article is indeed from a few years ago.

  61. Carter said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Taylor,

    You said:
    “I’m accusing Reformed theology of neglecting the Incarnation by obscuring redemptive-history in its focus on eternal decrees. For example, notions like “invisible church,” “limited atonement,” “covenant baptism,” “supra vs. infralapsarianism,” and “eternity past” suggest that Reformed theology is hung up on “eternal decrees” at the expense of God’s redemptive history –”

    Without trying to justify every one of those particular doctrines, it seems like this is not a strong argument. Reformed theology, as I understand it, uses eternal decrees to help articulate and understand many of the biblical themes. It’s not like that’s all they ever talk about, and while it does seem to be important to their systematics, haven’t they also been the pioneers of biblical, redemptive-historical theology? Most Reformed theology I have read is exegetically strong (I’ll grant that I haven’t read much confessional stuff). Maybe I’m too dense, or haven’t read enough, but given the proliferation of Reformed biblical studies and theology, this doesn’t seem like a solid accusation.

    And:
    “this why Calvinists tend to abstract the Incarnation (images of Christ forbidden in the WCF!!! – how gnostic) and ignore Church History.”

    Gnostic? Wasn’t it the Western church that was originally AGAINST the iconoclasts in the East? And it strikes me as odd to accuse it of gnosticism, as it is simply their interpretation of the second commandment, and weren’t they just following the Jews in this? Also, ignoring church history is a non-argument as far as I can tell. I have applied to WTS for the MAR, precisely because of what Lane said, they emphasize CH more than any other protestant seminary around! It has been my impression, from reading folks like Carl Trueman, that in fact the Protestant Orthodox quoted the Father, rabbinic sources, and medieval theologians prolifically; they certainly didn’t ignore church history. So I take it your beef is that they didn’t accept CH as authoritative?

    God bless,
    Carter

  62. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:05 am

    >>Instead speak to the merits of the issue.
    Thats what I was arguing for. Mr. marshall is irrelevant to Mr. Higgin’s case.

    What is the significance of his Anglo-Catholic stance?
    Again that question is a bit biased. How is he Anglo-Catholic? There is a huge difference between having Anglican tendencies and willing to use certain aspects of Anglican worship and being Anglo-Catholic.

    Another issue is wheter the article by Otis is accurate or a theological hatchet job.

  63. March 25, 2010 at 11:10 am

    #50 Bobby,

    Did you read the article on The Aquila Report about him. What was written there was not circumstantial evidence. Clearly his views are in line with FV views on all the major points.

    Andrew B.

  64. March 25, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Regarding “eating crow” and Augustine on 1 John:

    You and “Truth Unites…and Divides” are already rejoicing in triumph concerning Augustine’s comments on 1 John. However, I am not convinced. Please go back and re-read what Augustine says here. It actually proves the Catholic point – something that Greenbaggins halfway admits by granting the Donatist context.

    Augustine speaks of the Donatists (i.e. heretics) and those who lapse. Augustine never used the term “invisible church” and that is the whole point. If Augustine were a Calvinist, we would expect it, but he does NOT make that conclusion. This is why the passage actually favors the Catholic position.

    This is also why I brought attention to the Augustinian distinction between “communion of saints” and “church.” Again, Augustine does NOT grant the Calvinist thesis. Augustine does NOT say, “So then there is a ‘visible church’ and then the true ‘invisible church’ of the elect”. He never says it.

    Here’s my original challenge in its original words: “I’ll eat crow if you provide a passage and citation from a legitimate work of Augustine teaching the doctrine of the ‘invisible church.’

    Like I said, Augustine articulates the reality that you wrongly describe as “visibile vs. invisible church” – but Augustine employs the orthodox Catholic distinction of “church” and “communion of saints.” The concepts are similar, but the Calvinists undermine the meaning of “ecclesia” by confusing the terms.

    Give me Augustine articulating the “invisible church” – not hand waving about apostates within the Church which do not belong to the “communion of the saints.”

    I apologize for not being clear before. Forgive me. I hope that the problem is more clear now.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Taylor Marshall

  65. greenbaggins said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:15 am

    You’re making the word-concept fallacy here, Taylor. You know very well that a concept can be taught without using so many words. Augustine says EXPLICITLY that there are those within the church who are not of the church. This IS the visible/invisible church distinction.

  66. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:16 am

    >You know very well that a concept can be taught without using so many words.

    It would be bad news for the doctrine of the Trinity if that weren’t so…

  67. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:17 am

    David, no. 69: my phraseology may be off. I picked up this phrase from some historical studies. If I’m correct in my usage this phrase references those ordained in the Anglican communion who have strong affinity for the Roman Catholic system.

    I used the phrase with Higgins, not as a perjorative, but as a means of bringing together the two dominate “flavors” that are seen and probably not that arguable. 1) Even those friendly to his perspective say he has a strong enamoring with at least some of the Anglican approach to ministry. 2) The “problem” article in view clearly demonstrate some affinity for aspects of the Roman Catholic ecclesiology (I’m speaking broadly at this point.)

    Hence, my use of the phrase is merely a device to help focus on the seminal factors, and avoid the tertiary matters such as who is loving and who it not in this conversation.

  68. March 25, 2010 at 11:22 am

    GreenBaggins,

    I did take four semesters of Church History at Westminster Seminary: 1) Ancient, 2) Medieval, 3) Reformation, 4) Modern. I think that we were probably in the same classes, if I remember correctly.

    I’ll admit that 3) Reformation was thorough and complete. However 1) Ancient was not as thorough and complete. Here we were taught that John Chrysostom was the “chief teaching elder of Constantinople” so as to avoid the unpleasant truth that Chrysostom was in fact the Archbishop, Metropolitan, Patriarch of Constantinople. We completely ignored the Apostolic Fathers and their teaching regarding the Eucharist, apostolic succession, and the role of bishops in the sub-apostolic era. Did we learn about how Saint Irenaeus called the Blessed Virgin Mary the “New Eve” and “cause of our salvation”? No, all of this was omitted. Instead, we were taught clichés like, “Augustine’s soteriology eventually overturned his ecclesiology.”

    The 2) Medieval history course depicted the era as the “dark ages” with the sole light being Saint Francis of Assisi and St Bernard of Clairvaux. Of course, we were not told of Francis’ profound Eucharistic and Marian devotion (Francis called Mary the “Spouse of the Holy Spirit”). Nor were we informed that Bernard taught that Mary is the “Mediatrix.” Instead, we learned that Bernard was a source that Calvin depended on (thus implying the Bernard was somehow foundational in Protestantism).

    I don’t think that we read one primary text from a Church Father or Medieval Theologian in either class.

    I’ll grant that there is more Church History at WTS than at other Reformed seminaries, but don’t expect the courses to cover the inconvenient teachings of the Patristic Church regarding the sacraments, saints, relics, pilgrimages, prayers for the dead, etc.

    Yours in Christ,
    Taylor Marshall

  69. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I don’t think I’d characterize a preference for bishops as being RC. Lutherans have most commonly had bishops as have Anglicans. Rome has even burned bishops at the stake.

  70. March 25, 2010 at 11:26 am

    If I were in any position to rebuke Mr. Otis, I would. He has abandoned sola scriptura for solo non papistica. He writes inflammatory propaganda not based on truth, meant to divide and tear down, based only on the bogey man of Pope Benedict. His introductory paragraph denounces people who follow traditions that Rome does, and his argument is not scriptural, but based solely on “but Rome does something similar.” Moreover, his argument would damn Martin Luther and every church named Concordia or Christ our Savior as Papist; and includes Bp. Hooker and Bp. Lightfoot and all the other Anglicans, including C. S. Lewis, and Latimer and Ridley for that matter, under the condemnation of Rome.

    “If we are good Presbyterians, whose consciences should be bound to Scripture alone, then why should we be deemed wise to follow a tradition that Romanism has practiced?”</blockquote?
    So, Mr. Otis, why do you use the Papistic Gregorian calendar. You know it is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who, in 1582 promulgated it by Papal decree. So why, pray tell, are you not crusading for the Julian Calendar? And why are you so complacent with the Popery in your own church? Remove the log from your own eye, and you shall see clearly to remove the speck from ours. If your church is celebrating Easter on April 11, I'll listen. Otherwise, let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

    For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
    No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
    And shame it is, if a prest take keep,
    A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.
    Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
    By his clennesse, how that his sheep sholde lyve.

    But If we are good Presbyterians, whose consciences should be bound to Scripture alone, then why should it be deemed foolish to follow a tradition that Romanism has practiced? Scripture alone. Don’t give me any nonsense about the bogey man named Benedict.

  71. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:27 am

    yes I read it. I see no indication that Mr. Otis made any attempt to contact mr. higgins. I find it very disturbing that someone from outside the PCA would write an article someone in the PCA a closet papist without talking to him first.
    I stand by what I said about the article.

    >>>Clearly his views are in line with FV views on all the major points.

    I see no indication that this article has faithfully presented Mr. Higgin’s views.

  72. March 25, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Sorry about the formatting.

    And, where did Anglo-Catholicism come from? All Anglicans have bishops, and all Anglicans celebrate Lent. Not just Anglo-Catholics.

  73. greenbaggins said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:29 am

    One could argue just the reverse about Roman Catholic church history ignoring the early church fathers’ soteriology (just see Oden’s _The Justification Reader_ for conclusive proof that the early fathers supported the Protestant doctrine of justification, and NOT the Catholic doctrine). Every seminary is going to have selective history that supports its own viewpoint. One cannot approach history from an unbiased viewpoint. Or have you thrown off Van Til as well?

    As for not reading primary sources, you seem to be under selective memory here. For early church, I remember reading Tertullian, several of his treatises, not to mention some letters of Irenaeus, the Didache, and a few other selections which I can’t quite remember what they are right now). For the Medieval Church, we read Cur Deus Homo, by Anselm, and also The Imitation of Christ, by a Kempis.

  74. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Matthew, Bobby: o.k. have we sufficiently responded to the counter charges?

    Enough finger pecking attacking the credibility/character of Otis. Comment on the details of the article. Explain why he is wrong.

  75. March 25, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Dear Andrew Siegenthaler,

    Huss, Savonarola, Tyndall, Luther, Calvin, Ridley, and Latimer were all Catholics (many were priests) who rejected the Catholic Faith after having once held the Catholic Faith.

    The Catechism paragraph, which you cite, reads: “One cannot charge with the sin of separation those who at present are born into these communities.”

    Hence, Luther’s willful apostasy and heresy is different from a child who is born and raised as a Baptist in Waco, Texas.

    The former is culpable of the “sin of separation” (taught by Saint Paul), whereas the latter is innocent. I think the difference is evident.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Taylor Marshall

    PS: Muslims and Jews worship an omnipotent and omniscient “Supreme Being and Creator.” However, both reject the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Hence, they direct their worship to the Creator, but they worship wrongly. This is the Catholic position.

  76. Phil Derksen said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Rev. Reed,

    I understand and accept you point about the tenor and direction of conversation. I see myself as among the offending parties. My appologies to all.

    So let me refocus here, and offer for consideration some statements from John Calvin which relate directly to the original issue. The first has to do with Higgins’ idea that the Bishop of Rome should have some sort of primacy.

    “Let the Romanists now go and oppose us with antiquity; as if, amid such a complete change in every respect, the honour of the See can continue where there is no See…It is too absurd and ridiculous so to fix the honour of the primacy to a particular spot, as that he who is in fact the most inveterate enemy of Christ, the chief adversary of the gospel, the greatest devastator and waster of the Church, the most cruel slayer and murderer of the saints, should be, nevertheless, regarded as the vicegerent of Christ, the successor of Peter, the first priest of the Church, merely because he occupies what was formerly the first of all sees. I do not say how great the difference is between the chancery of the Pope and well regulated order in the Church; although this one fact might well set the question at rest. For no man of sound mind will include the episcopate in lead and bulls, much less in that administration of captions and circumscriptions, in which the spiritual government of the Pope is supposed to consist. It has therefore been elegantly said, that that vaunted Roman Church was long ago converted into a temporal court, the only thing which is now seen at Rome. I am not here speaking of the vices of individuals, but demonstrating that the Papacy itself is diametrically opposed to the ecclesiastical system.” (Institutes, 4.7.26)

    The second is a basic warning regarding the ecclisial abuses that episcopcy seems to naturally lends itself, as history has indeed borne out:

    “Ecclesiastical power, therefore, is not to be mischievously adorned, but is to be confined within certain limits, so as not to be drawn hither and thither at the caprice of men. For this purpose, it will be of great use to observe how it is described by Prophets and Apostles. For if we concede unreservedly to men all the power which they think proper to assume, it is easy to see how soon it will degenerate into a tyranny which is altogether alien from the Church of Christ.” (Institutes, 4.8.1)

  77. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Flannery O’Connor once said if you scratch an Episcopalian(ie Anglicans) you never know what you’ll find underneath.
    Anglicans esp in England are very diverse. There are pentecostals who push the Alpha Course, there are liberals who don’t believe much, there are reformed evangelicals ie Dick Lucas, JI Packer. some whose church services look much like a typical PCA service. Then there are the Anglo-Catholics who are very close to Rome. By calling Higgins Anglo-Catholic you are putting him in a camp that I don’t think he would put himself.

  78. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:35 am

    David, no. 69: assuming it was in response to my explanation of “Anglo-Catholic,” I think Higgns article goes a bit further than a preference for bishops. He espouses a preference for a modified prelacy, a model not merely episcopacy, but more like what existed prior to the East-West split (circa 1100). Prior to that the Pope was granted by the other archbishops the status of first among equals. Higgins expressly declares his support for such a scenario.

    To say Higgins advocates a submission to post-reformation RCC is way over-speaking. To deny that he advocates a submission to a form of RCC prelacy is simply to ignore the man’s own statements.

  79. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Bobby, no. 77: no disrespect but your comments tend to lack anything other than assertion. Please, you’ll find folks here who will engage respectfully and seriously with you.

    You need, however, to offer substantive comments. I offered my explanation for use of the phrase, and explanation rooted in the substance. Your response is merely opinion. Substance please, substance.

  80. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Let’s trace the relevant excerpts of this discussion.

    Taylor Marshall: “I’ll eat crow if you provide a passage and citation from a legitimate work of Augustine teaching the doctrine of the “invisible church.”

    Green Baggins: “Taylor, check out this passage from Augustine’s commentary on 1 John (I’m quoting from the New City Press edition), commenting on 1 John 2:19″

    Augustine didn’t use the words “visible/invisible,” this is true. However, the substance of the doctrine is right there for all to see.”

    Taylor Marshall; “Augustine never used the term “invisible church” and that is the whole point.

    Green Baggins: “You’re making the word-concept fallacy here, Taylor. You know very well that a concept can be taught without using so many words. Augustine says EXPLICITLY that there are those within the church who are not of the church. This IS the visible/invisible church distinction.”

    With all due respect, Taylor Marshall’s line of reasoning reminds me of the arguments posed by those who are opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity because they claim with decisive triumphalism that the word “Trinity” is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

  81. March 25, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Greenbaggins,

    I don’t remember any of those Patristic readings that you list. I do remember reading portions of St Ignatius of Antioch, St Polycarp, and the Didache with Dr Taylor – but that was for an advanced Greek course. We likely took different Patristic courses. For some reason I took Ancient out of order.

    And mea culpa on my medieval assertion. Now that you mention it, I do remember reading passages from Cur Deus Homo by Saint Anselm. So my claim that we didn’t read a medieval primary text is wrong. I apologize about that. I made a mistake. I should have been more careful. However, I don’t recall reading Kempis in that class, though.

    in Christ,
    Taylor

  82. greenbaggins said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Kempis might have been recommended reading rather than required. I don’t recall now. But I do remember reading it. I’m pretty sure we had to read all of Cur Deus Homo.

  83. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I read his artcle in Touchstone years ago (maybe04?) and while didn’t agree with parts didn’t find it to be that big a deal esp. if seen in the context of the series of artcles. (and also knowing that Higgins sees overlap b/n episcopacy & presbyterianism)
    I would rather see Mr. higgins response first. I would also have to reread the orginal article in Touchstone & the thesis.
    but if Mr. Otis wanted to faithfully represent Mr Higgins he would have communicated with him first.

  84. greenbaggins said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Bobby, by your argument, no one could faithfully represent any dead theologian, because he couldn’t make personal contact with him. Is that really what you’re trying to say?

  85. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Substance please, substance

    I think I wrote my comments after seeing yours. But the fact that within the church of England that the Anglo-Catholics are a seperate camp seems more than an assertion but is a fact familar with all who are familar with Anglicans.

    As far as direct comments on Mr. otis’ attack article I’ll have to reread & read before making more comments. But still I would feel better about the article if I had known that Otis had contacted Higgins.

  86. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Is that really what you’re trying to say?
    Of course not. But otis is doing more than critque he has called Higgins a dangerous man. He has called him to be disciplined.
    If I were going to make accusations about someone I would ask for explanations first.

  87. greenbaggins said,

    March 25, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Public statement can have public refutations. This is the very nature of the published world.

  88. March 25, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Dear “Truth Unites,”

    Green Baggins: “You’re making the word-concept fallacy here, Taylor. You know very well that a concept can be taught without using so many words. Augustine says EXPLICITLY that there are those within the church who are not of the church.”

    No, Augustine does not explicitly say “there are those within the church who are not of the church.” Go back and read it. He says, “not of us.” Your version of the quote is not accurate.

    I would like everyone to observe here that we began with a bold assertion that Augustine taught the doctrine of the “invisible church.”

    Now that the Reformed have discovered that Augustine never uses the terminology of “invisible church” they have sprung upon the Catholic distinction of “church” and “communion of saints” and are now asserting that this is the SAME THING as “visible church” and “invisible church.”

    Moreover, the Reformed openly assert that Augustine’s soteriology is at odds with his ecclesiology. So which is it? Why are you now trying to show that his ecclesiology actually conforms to the Calvinist soteriology and the Calvinist notion of an “invisible church”?

    As an aside, this discussion is not similar to the “Trinity in Scripture” debate, because Augustine often and frequently writes about the “ecclesia,” but he does not use it in the context of an “invisible church.”

    I’m going to withdraw from the combox at this point. I’m currently fighting 4 fronts with 4 topic-strings: 1) Augustine on invisible church, 2) incarnation and images, 3) the church history curriculum at WTC as being prejudiced to support Reformed claims, and 4) the status of contemporary Protestants vs. 16th century Protestants.

    It’s becoming a lot of work – I’ve got to keep up over at my blog Canterbury Tales and our group blog Called to Communion (for former Reformed seminarians and pastors who are now Catholic).

    I and others have written about these topics at length elsewhere, so please take a look if you are interested. Or send me a personal email (available at Canterbury Tales blog – cantuar.blogspot.com)

    Yours in Christ,
    Taylor Marshall

    PS: Given the polemical tone here, I suspect that I will now be reckoned as “vanquished papist.” That’s okay. It doesn’t bother me. I commit you all to Christ’s love. I care for you all, and I hope that you all draw closer to Christ. He is the true Savior, Redeemer, and Mediator of mankind – and to the extent that you love and serve Him, you are my friend, brother, and fellow-laborer.

    If you hate the Catholic Church, then please pray to Christ that we all arrive at the truth. You never know where you might end up…

    I’ll also say that my time as a Reformed Christian taught me to love the Sacred Scriptures. My training in Scripture at WTS far exceeded the training of nearly all American Catholic seminaries. So I am grateful for this!

  89. Ron Henzel said,

    March 25, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Taylor,

    In comment 88, you wrote:

    Given the polemical tone here…

    You mean that tone that howled through here like a paranoid schizophrenic who forgot to take his medication when you wrote the following in comment 7?:

    Calvin’s community is one of perennial division, doctrinal chaos, and white-washed walls.

  90. March 25, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Ok. Let’s look at what Otis bolded in his first quote from Higgins:

    The Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts until Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter Day. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week

    Ok…so evidentally he has a problem with calling them Holy Saturday and Holy Week. Evidentially, it is papistic to do so. But then again, the Book of Common Prayer calls it Holy Week and Holy Saturday. And so does the LCMS and the WELS.

    I was reminded of one of Rome’s catechism questions and answers # 82

    Oh, you were reminded of it? Well I was reminded of a MLT the Mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich; when the mutton is really lean…

    Seriously? You were “reminded” of something from the Catechism of the Catholic Church? I was also “reminded” of Luther’s argument for infant baptism that the Church has never known anything else. But then, we already established Cramner and Bucer were martyred in vain–they wrote that damn papistical Book of Common Prayer.

    Do you seriously want me to interact with his argument? There is no argument there! He even admits himself, with great seriousness, that the problem with Higgins position is that it “reminds” him of Rome, and that if Higgins proposal were accepted Presbyterians would do some of the same things Papists do, which as we all know would be very evil. And is why Otis himself has rejected the damn Papistical Gregorian calendar, and will be celebrating Easter on April 11.

    (Or, I have dealt substantivity with his nonsense. Don’t pretend I haven’t.)

  91. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Matthew, no. 90: as the topic of the thread is about Otis’ article, yes, I expect you will be polite and respectful and abide by the wishes of the the blog owner, Lane Keister. His intent is for substantive discussion.

    If you cannot do so, then do not comment. Further, please leave off the barbed sarcasm. Lane grants some use od sarcasm, even strong challenges, provided they are tied to substance.

    I admit you made some attempt here to do so. Yet your disgust and disdain for Otis’ article seems to have overwhelmed your desire to maintain an substantive comment.

    Your choice, abide by the conditions, or do not comment. No need for complaint and arrogance.

  92. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    March 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Taylor Marshall: “I commit you all to Christ’s love. I care for you all, and I hope that you all draw closer to Christ. He is the true Savior, Redeemer, and Mediator of mankind – and to the extent that you love and serve Him, you are my friend, brother, and fellow-laborer.”

    Amen!!!

  93. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Dear Taylor,

    I don’t hate the Catholic church, and I don’t view you as a “vanquished papist.” Anyone who would take victory or defeat from an internet discussion is foolish.

    The reason I talked about Augustine and the invisible church is that his argument against the Donatists relies on the idea that there are Christians who are outside the fellowship of the Catholic church, and that those Christians (say, Donatists) who rejoin the church need not be rebaptized. This is in contrast to, say, a Mormon who joins the RCC.

    And I believe this doctrine is re-affirmed in Vatican II, yes? For else, why would an Eastern Orthodox who joins the fellowship of the RCC not have to be rebaptized?

    Further, Augustine’s idea of predestination indicates that there is a body of those who are predestined to be saved. It is this body whom the Protestants call “the invisible church.”

    I’d be happy to back all of this up with primary source material, but I imagine that you are familiar enough with the sources to see the truth of what I mean.

  94. Carter said,

    March 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Taylor,

    I appreciate the dialog, such as it was. My intention is to have a more accurate understanding of RC theology, so I appreciate the interaction. Though I still don’t see how your criticisms are material, it certainly encourages more work on my end to understand both Reformed and RC theology.

  95. Matthew Petersen said,

    March 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Reed,

    But my point is that Otis offers “this reminds me of something from the CCC” as substantive argument. And likewise “Higgins calls it holy week and holy Saturday…” is similarly offered as a substantive argument against Higgins. These are not substantive arguments, and they won’t become so if you insist I treat them as such. The first is absolutely ludicrous–and his point if there is one undermines much Protestant theology, including the Nicene Creed. The second condemns Luther and the Protestant martyrs Cramner and Bucer (authors of the Book of Common Prayer) as Papists.

  96. ray kikkert said,

    March 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I for one consider the RC church to be a false church and also consider the pope/pimp as a type of anti christ … so for anyone who has membership therein … adhereing to the confessions therein … and knowing the history of persecution against those who defended the truth … as this pious pomp Taylor … says he does … that’s a pathetic Hail Mary attempt.

    Higgins has issue’s and I will also ask the question once again … will the PCA do anything about this ….at least get clarification or should we just contact Ann Coulter to see what her take is on the matter.

  97. Phil Derksen said,

    March 25, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Ray,

    Good question. I’m also a bit surprised that one of the TE’s (Teaching Elders [pastors]) that frequent this site haven’t responded to your question so far. I’m just a layman in my church, but let my offer the following.

    Generally, as I understand it, “complaints” (more official PCA lingo) concerning false (unbiblical/unconfessional) teachings are to originate from someone (usually another church officer) from within the same presbytery in which the accused party resides.

    However, even when this occurs, the question often remains, “will anything (really) be done about it?” My own PCA presbytery (Siouxlands), for example, is dealing with 2 cases right now in which ministers are under investigation for effectively teaching Federal Vision doctrines. One has been in a see-saw battle for more than 3 years now. This has caused much division, and many ministers, in my opinion, seem somewhat apathetic about the implications of FV. Pretty scary (again, in my opinion).

    I have heard that there is a process by which other presbyteries can intervene in such cases where no intra-presbytery action is forthcoming. I don’t know the details of how this would work. Of course one problem seems to be that TE’s who really do recognize the threat presented by FV are often so busy trying to put out the fire in their immediate jurisdictions, that it may come down to a matter of energy and resources in terms of whether or not this process is ever actually resorted to.

    I sincerely wish that some PCA TE’s who aren’t dealing with this intense issue in their own presbytereis would step up to the plate and initiate this sort of remedy. There is no denying that they would be committing themselves to a long, messy and unpleasant endevour in so doing – but failure to do so would seem to me to have far graver (eternal) consequences.

    Please keep all this in your prayers, as you recall it.

    In Christ,

    Phil Derksen

  98. Mason said,

    March 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I am staunchly anti-FV and believe the PCA should do all it can to root out its teachings when it springs from one of its TEs. Having said that, while Higgins has some dangerous beliefs on baptism, I wouldn’t characterize him as fully in the FV camp. I don’t agree with his beliefs om baptism and his questioning of new candidates is a bit absurd. But firmly FV he is not – at least not in my reading of him.

    And to say he supports “bringing the PCA under the Pope” is a big stretch. He believes a Reformed episcopacy would enhance unity, but clearly rejects the notion of the Roman Catholic Pope as it is today. And Otis goes overboard in criticizing Higgins’ view of Lent – calling it wise to follow church tradition is not equating it with Scripture. And simply because he capitalizes Holy Saturday does not mean he endorses it as a holy day. That’s reading much more into his statements than Higgins intends today.

    Again, I don’t agree with all of Higgins’ beliefs, but let’s be fair in our reading of him. He errs in his view of baptism and teaches something dangerously close to baptismal regeneration, but that does not automatically put him in the FV camp. And his view on episcopacy and following church tradition are not the same as calling for wholesale ecuminical fellowship with Roman Catholics. I appreciate the work done on this blog in rooting out FV from our congregation, but this one leaves me scratching my head a bit. I think you’re overreaching here…

  99. Phil Derksen said,

    March 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Mason #97

    So in your view teaching “something dangerously close to baptismal regeneration,” doesn’t warrant initiating judicial process in the PCA, because the person doesn’t officially identify themselves as FV?

  100. Mason said,

    March 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Phil @ 98 –

    I didn’t say his views don’t warrant a judicial process. I said I don’t think he lands squarely in the FV camp. I think he views should be closely examined by the presbytery…

  101. Phil Derksen said,

    March 25, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Mason,

    What constitutes being “squarely in the FV camp?”

    My take is that what we’re describing here as “baptismal regeneration” is probably the one doctrine on which virtually all Fvers agree. Other doctrinal issues may unite or indeed distinguish various entites that call themselves FV. But like I said, a view of baptism in the same vein as expressed by Higgens is probably the biggest common denominator within the self-described and, as I might put it, practically implicated Federal Vision.

    Nor should the fact be ignored that there are some openly FV men active in Higgins’ presbytery, such as Matthew Paul Buccheri, who is an assistant pastor at Redeemer PCA in NYC.

  102. ray kikkert said,

    March 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    “For readers who might be wondering if Higgins should be considered Federal Vision, Otis also writes:

    As one delves into his [Higgins'] thesis, one soon finds that his views are hardly Reformed and Confessional. Moreover, his quotes from Calvin are totally misused. He will readily expose himself as solidly in the Federal Vision camp. At places, he will cite to his defense none other than the notorious company of N.T. Wright, Peter Leithart, Norman Shepherd, and Rich Lusk.”

    What benefit is it to Ortis to malign Higgin’s ?? From what I see … the benefit overall here is to expose and root out a false gospel, doctrinal error, and heresy…. Higgin’s views send up red flags straightway.

  103. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    >Higgin’s views send up red flags straightway.

    For Otis so would Calvin and Luther I suspect…

  104. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    perhaps instead of reading Otis maybe you should read Higgins’ paper

  105. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Bobby: who are you talking to? Did they say they did not read Higgin’s paper?

  106. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I’m refering to #102 using Otis as the measure of whether or not Higgins is FV. Instead of reading Otis go directly to the source. Seems fair

  107. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Bobby: Ray is referencing Otis because this post is abot Otis’s review of Higgins published positions. Accordingly, it is very appropriate for Ray to comment as he has.

    It is also very appropriate for you to demonstrate from Higgin’s published statements where Ray has got it wrong. Ray is at least operating under the opinion that Otis has read Higgins accurately. It may very well be that Ray’s is an opinion also informed by his reading of Higgins directly.

    Instead of assuming otherwise, and getting involved in a tangential discussion, why not move to defend against Ray’s comment by demonstrating from Higgins directly.

  108. Bobby Avant said,

    March 25, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I think it is highly presumptive to assume that Otis has accurately represented Higgins. Why assume that Otis is accurately representing Higgins when you can easily assess Higgins thesis?

  109. Mason said,

    March 25, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Phil @ #100 –

    Pastor Buccheri is is one of my pastors, and I admire him greatly. He has publicly denounced FV – on this very blog, in fact! You should retract your statement or prove that Matthew Buccheri is an “FV man.”

  110. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Bobby: it is highly obnoxious to insist that Otis has not represented Higgins accurately – without bothering to demonstrate this.

    All that I’m pointing out is that you need to move beyond assertions and demonstrate it. I’m not even saying I agree with Ray; merely that your responses are insufficient.

    (And yes, I’ve read Higgins.)

  111. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Phil: Mason has a point about your reference to TE Buccheri. Since you’ve made the comment, feel free to back it up or retract. Beyond that, somewhat off focus to bring him in to the conversation, maybe?

  112. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    >Bobby: it is highly obnoxious to insist that Otis has not represented Higgins accurately – without bothering to demonstrate this.

    Isn’t that a little bit like being asked to prove a negative proposition?

  113. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    No David, I don’t think so. Bobby is the one asserting that Otis reads Higgins wrong. Available to him to demonstrate this are both Otis’ article and Higgins’ article.

    I was merely responding in kind to Bobby’s use of the language “highly presumptive” in hopes that he might see he is at least guilty of a similar fault.

    Note that Bobby has assumed that others assume Otis is accurate. No one has actually said this to be the case. This is not a fair assessment, assuming knowledge he does not have. E.g., how does he know Ray has not read Higgins? It seems to me that the one being presumptuous is Bobby. For him to then accuse others of being presumptive sounds obnoxious.

  114. greenbaggins said,

    March 25, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Mason, Matthew Buccheri (whom I know fairly well) may not have declared himself FV, but I have never seen him denounce the FV on my blog.

  115. Mason said,

    March 25, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Rev Keister:

    “let’s set the record straight (for the record): I am NOT an advocate for the FV!”

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/05/29/mark-hornes-reply/#comment-13661

  116. Phil Derksen said,

    March 25, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Reed,

    I’ll take option 2 – why discuss this further since it’s off topic a bit… :) I would argue, however, that my remark about Rev. Buccheri, while perhaps a bit ancilary, had at least some relavance to the discussion. If every remark in every post here has to be absolutely directly on the immedate and precise topic, then most people on this blog are also (or should be) in trouble. Nonetheless I’ll defer to your ruling.

    Mason,

    I am obliged to modify/clarify my statement about Rev. Buccheri, as follows:

    1. I have heard more than one PCA TE characterize Buccheri as “pro-FV,” and “a defender of FV.”

    2. I believe some of his views and actions may accurately be described as at least being sympathetic to the FV movement. He actively petitioned against adopting the PCA’s study committee report on the New Perspective and Federal Vision. In addition he openly criticized the Siouxlands Presbytery report that essentially focused on affirming the anti-FV portion of the PCA report.

    Thus, I will retract my calling him “openly” FV, and will replace it with “apparently quite sympathetic to the FV movement.”

    So I sincerely apologize for any misrepresentation of the Rev. in my original remark, and for any angst it may have caused anyone.

  117. Mason said,

    March 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Phil – his criticism stemmed not from support of the FV, but because he viewed the study committee’s report as too narrow in its adherence to the WCF. I actually disagree with him on that point, but his criticism wasn’t pro-FV as much as it was against the methodology used by the study committee. Simply because one disagrees with the study committee process doesn’t automatically make them pro-FV. I’ll do the easiest thing and simply e-mail him tonight.

  118. Foolish Tar Heel said,

    March 25, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    It seems many here energetically rebuke and denounce people like Craig Higgins because you detect some level of non-conformity with your doctrines. On some level, fair enough…since we hold truth to be important.

    At what point, however, do you rebuke people who so eagerly and energetically embark on slandering expeditions, level serious and consequential accusations without legitimate evidence, start fires, and the like…such as Otis? Does someone aggressively misreading and screaming “fire” (e.g., Rome, Popish, etc.), as Otis does with Higgins, not merit some sort of rebuke from you all as well? People who recklessly snipe or machine-gun heresy accusations and slander deserve unambiguous and decisive rebuke. This especially goes for people who behave this way while invoking some sort of conscience-bound, heavy-hearted, and/or sophisticated historical-theological validation for their slanderous actions.

    Such behavior unleashes the power of sin within the church just as does the worst heresy imaginable. An ethos among church leaders that tolerates this damages the church just as much as a supposed Liberal ethos that ignores issues of truth. If you do not think Otis engages in such slanderous screaming of “fire” here I suggest examining your implicit and explicit notions of how communication, interaction, and understanding work in life.

  119. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Stephen (Foolish); as I’ve been trying to piont out for quite some time:

    > If Otis is guilty of what you observe, then he is rightly to be taken to task for it.
    > Otis had the integrity of spending significant effort to at least actually interact with and demonstrate that he had interacted with Higgins’ views, whether he got them right or not.

    Shouts of slander against anyone without demonstrating it is a form of slander! Such behavior also unleashes the power of sin within the Church.

    As I’ve suggested to others here, back your rebuke up or be guilty of the very thing you accuse. This is not a defense of Otis perse, but a defense of the very thing you purport to be defending.

    MIght you consider being equally up in arms about such bad “sportsmanship” from both sides? Might you be up in arms about the one who merely asserts Otis is slanderous and expresses disgust with anyone who does not see the same? Might you be up in arms against such clear lack of love for a brother?

  120. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Reed,

    OK, here is one place where Otis played a foul. In his quotation from Touchstone he quotes two paragraphs, back to back, with no ellipse or any indication that there was text in between those two paragraphs. Yet there was a missing paragraph that didn’t serve Otis’ apparent purpose:

    “Yet we in the Reformed churches will insist that episcopacy does not equal prelacy. Proposals such as “bishops in presbytery”—similar to the order of the Church of South India—should be both studied and, I believe, eventually embraced. As suggested above, the Presbyterian model of the senior pastor, presiding over the council of associate pastors and lay elders in the local congregation, provides a most helpful model for regional and larger bodies within a reunited Church.”

    Thoughts? It is hard to see what he did as anything other than purposeful deceit. There may be another explanation that I am too unimaginative to realize but to leave that paragraph out while making it look as if the other two paragraphs were consecutive when they were not is playing dirty.

  121. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    For clarity here is what Otis block quoted:

    Third, the unity we seek should be both conciliar and, yes, episcopal. While wholeheartedly agreeing with the position of all the Reformed churches that a corporate episcopate is (at least!) as faithful to the apostolic tradition as is monepiscopacy, and while agreeing that the latter was not practiced universally until centuries after the apostolic age, we in the Reformed churches must admit that the Church did become near-universally episcopal, and that the historic episcopate is an important witness to the Church’s unity. Therefore, if we are to work toward the visible unity of the Church, we should, I am increasingly convinced, defer to the wisdom of the majority in the Great Tradition and embrace the ministry of bishops.

    One last comment: In Ut Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II has invited all the churches to discuss how the Petrine office should function in a reunited Church, and Reformed churchmen should welcome this conversation. Our idea of concentric circles of conciliar accountability would lead us to teach that, if the Church were visibly united around the world, there would need to be an ecumenical council, meeting as necessary to govern and guide the Church. The above argument for a (reformed) episcopacy would also lead us to teach that such a council would need a “presiding bishop,” serving as primus inter pares among his brothers, and historically such a position of honor has fallen to the bishop of Rome. How would we envision a Reformed(!) Petrine office? First, as argued above, any such primacy would need to be exercised in a conciliar fashion; the universal episcopate must be seen first as a pastoral, rather than a juridical, office. The idea that the pope has an authority that exceeds even that of an ecumenical council must be rejected. Second, we must humbly but firmly insist that the dogma of papal infallibility is not only foreign to the holy Scriptures but also is not a catholic doctrine at all, but a sectarian one. The dogma of papal infallibility is a serious obstacle to true ecumenism, and another example of where the unity we seek awaits further reformation[6] (Emphasis mine).

  122. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Here is what Higgins wrote before Otis deleted text with no indication that he was doing so:

    Third, the unity we seek should be both conciliar and, yes, episcopal. While wholeheartedly agreeing with the position of all the Reformed churches that a corporate episcopate is (at least!) as faithful to the apostolic tradition as is monepiscopacy, and while agreeing that the latter was not practiced universally until centuries after the apostolic age,21 we in the Reformed churches must admit that the Church did become near-universally episcopal, and that the historic episcopate is an important witness to the Church’s unity.22 Therefore, if we are to work toward the visible unity of the Church, we should, I am increasingly convinced, defer to the wisdom of the majority in the Great Tradition and embrace the ministry of bishops.

    Yet we in the Reformed churches will insist that episcopacy does not equal prelacy. Proposals such as “bishops in presbytery”—similar to the order of the Church of South India—should be both studied and, I believe, eventually embraced. As suggested above, the Presbyterian model of the senior pastor, presiding over the council of associate pastors and lay elders in the local congregation, provides a most helpful model for regional and larger bodies within a reunited Church.

    One last comment: In Ut Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II has invited all the churches to discuss how the Petrine office should function in a reunited Church, and Reformed churchmen should welcome this conversation. Our idea of concentric circles of conciliar accountability would lead us to teach that, if the Church were visibly united around the world, there would need to be an ecumenical council, meeting as necessary to govern and guide the Church. The above argument for a (reformed) episcopacy would also lead us to teach that such a council would need a “presiding bishop,” serving as primus inter pares among his brothers, and historically such a position of honor has fallen to the bishop of Rome. How would we envision a Reformed(!) Petrine office? 23 First, as argued above, any such primacy would need to be exercised in a conciliar fashion; the universal episcopate must be seen first as a pastoral, rather than a juridical, office. The idea that the pope has an authority that exceeds even that of an ecumenical council must be rejected. Second, we must humbly but firmly insist that the dogma of papal infallibility is not only foreign to the holy Scriptures but also is not a catholic doctrine at all, but a sectarian one. The dogma of papal infallibility is a serious obstacle to true ecumenism, and another example of where the unity we seek awaits further reformation.

    I find that makes some difference in how I read Higgins’ thoughts on the matter.

  123. March 25, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    #115 Mason, Greetings!

    Correct me if I am wrong (and I am just adding a possible thing to think about here) but before 2008, was it not true that most FV advocates dismissed themselves as being FV, to which only here lately have many of them admitted to holding views of FV?

    The comment you refer to was of May 2007. I would be interested in hearing what he would say now.

    And what about his views of NPP? You do have a ministry of your church of which its main speaker will be N.T. Wright. http://www.faithandwork.org/ntwright

    Andrew B.

  124. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    In fact the very next thing Higgins wrote was:

    “The theme here is plausible ecumenism, and some of the topics above—such as the role of the bishop of Rome in a reunited Church—appear to be far from plausible. So, practically, where do we go next?”

    So I hope Pastor White considers what he has done in posting this, particularly with the title he chose.

  125. March 25, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Mason, I guess I should also state that on Matthew’s old blog he has links to NT Wright and The Paul Page.

    Of which both are pushing the NPP agenda because they are NPP sites.

    So am I to conclude now that I need to personally email or call up Matthew and ask him if he is NPP, cannot I, by his public exhibition, conclude clearly that he is? Why else would a minister, A MINISTER, advertise websites of which his denomination has said is contrary to the beliefs of the Church?

    If I linked on my blog to a number of FV sites: Leithart, Wilson, Wilkins, Lusk, Booth, Meyers, Horne; and if I looked like a duck and quacked like a duck, what on earth would you conclude? That I am a large oliphant from Lord of the Rings?

    Andrew B.

  126. Reed Here said,

    March 25, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    David: thank you for the work. Without commenting on the merits (I’ve not done so in this thread), I do suggest that maybe you will want to allow other possible motives other than deceit on the part of Otis. Given his reputation, that does seem a tad bit beyond love that hopes the best.

    Is it not possible that he was just sloppy? Or maybe he has such a strong grid for how he reads such things that he simply intellectually does not believe the skipped paragraph is material to his case?

    I’m not arguing for either alternative. I’m merely observing that we’ve not got enough evidence at hand to conclude deceit. We do have a history of Otis’ past behavior that jump to such imputation does seem unreasonable.

  127. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    >Is it not possible that he was just sloppy?

    I considered that and concluded it was not possible. He deleted a paragraph that directly contradicted his thesis and gave no indicator that it was missing. That had to be a conscious decision, hard to envision it as just sloppiness. Omitting the paragraph that followed could have been sloppiness but given the previous event that doesn’t seem likely either.

    >Or maybe he has such a strong grid for how he reads such things that he simply intellectually does not believe the skipped paragraph is material to his case?

    That would presuppose such a lack of intellectual function that if that were true he probably shouldn’t be quoted by other pastors. The material is overtly relevant, it just is completely contrary to his thesis.

    Certainly the title of this posting has been showed to have no meaningful relationship to reality and I would submit that Pastor White should consider apologizing to his brother pastor.

  128. jared said,

    March 25, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Reed,

    And is there enough evidence at hand to conclude that Higgins has an earnest and erroneous desire to bring the PCA into the RCC fold without any qualifications, changes, or doctrinal disputes? That is, does Higgins have a history which warrants such an evaluation as Otis has presented? Moreover, given Higgins’s reputation, did Otis go beyond “love that hopes the best” in his analysis?

  129. David Gray said,

    March 25, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    I would add that I hope that I am wrong, it just seems highly unlikely. I think Jared makes a good point that we seem much more concerned with giving the benefit of the doubt to Otis rather than Higgins while at a minimum circumstantial evidence strongly indicates that it is Higgins who has been wronged, not Otis.

  130. March 26, 2010 at 4:00 am

    If true Otis should apologise. It would be as serious in principle (not degree) as the plagiarism Wilkins is guilty of in his slavery book. There’s no need to guild the lily when it comes to the FV, not with people coming right out and claiming baptism creates union with Christ. It just gives the enemy ammo.

  131. Reed Here said,

    March 26, 2010 at 7:21 am

    David and Jared: I’m actually not taking sides in this matter. I’ll try not to here, offering some comments not supportive of either side.

    I only pushed back on David because I think his is a presumption not warranted. My own reading of Otis is that a particular theological grid may lead him to over read, even over state the case. I do not agree with all of Otis’s conclusions. I do believe he is asking some questions in the right direction.

    My reading of Higgins leads me to conclude that he has said something that should raise some concern for those taking vows to our Standards. His notion of a reformed episcopate potentially including the prelacy of Rome is not simply an “intriguing” set of ideas. It should raise alarms on two levels for those whose vows include that Presbyterianisn IS the form of biblical government. The first of course is the matter of episcopacy, and the second is the matter of the RCC.

    As it is, up to this point my main interaction was to try and get both sides to quit trading jabs, and deal with the substance. I’m interested in fairness for both men Jared. I began with a call that included a chastisement for a few on both side. No need to read my comment(s) as a plea for fairness for Otis, while ignoring the same for Higgins. I’ve not done so.

    You may claim that Wes’ title (and/or original comments) is not fair to Higgins. O.k. then, go ahead and make the case. Wes is a big boy.

    And David, I think you are making the wrong case. You’ve had a good beginning, but you’ve limited your argument to proving Otis is inaccurate (for whatever motive, still think you’re wrong to make any conclusion there). In my mind, you’ll need to go further to remove the concern over a PCA TE, vowed to affirm his conviction that Presbyterianism is the biblical form of church govenrment, making a case for a formm of church government that is fundamentally contrary to said vow.

    Otis aside, that is a concern. And it is one I hope is handled irenically.

  132. Mason said,

    March 26, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Pastor Barnes @ #123 and #125 –

    I sent an e-mail to Pastor Buccheri, so I won’t comment further on his views until I hear back from him. I will say that of the many (hundreds?) of times I’ve heard him speak in person I’ve never heard anything FV-like in what he has said. He even conducted the baptism of several adults a couple of weeks ago and I remember thinking about how well he described its significance – perfectly in line with Reformed thinking. So until I hear otherwise from him I’ll have to base my views on first-hand experience rather than links on his blog.

    As for N.T. Wright coming to Redeemer, I would note that he is discussing his new book on Christian character, not NPP. And you’ll find that the PCA report on FV and NPP specifically praises his work in other areas. So I don’t think his scheduled appearance at Redeemer is germane to this discussion.

  133. David Gray said,

    March 26, 2010 at 8:11 am

    >And David, I think you are making the wrong case. You’ve had a good beginning, but you’ve limited your argument to proving Otis is inaccurate (for whatever motive, still think you’re wrong to make any conclusion there). In my mind, you’ll need to go further to remove the concern over a PCA TE, vowed to affirm his conviction that Presbyterianism is the biblical form of church govenrment, making a case for a formm of church government that is fundamentally contrary to said vow.

    Well Pastor White went well beyond what you state here. It lies on his head to deal with the false witness that this title constitutes. I’m sure it was done with the best of intentions but now that the facts are out he should act. I’m not, at present, interested in being Higgins advocate regardless of what charge is raised, I’m interested in the false testimony I witnessed here. No fair minded man can read that article by Higgins and conclude that the title “Federal Visionist PCA Pastor Craig Higgins’ Vision for bringing the PCA under the Pope” is anything but false. That strikes me as enough for a start and until that is addressed I see no need to go beyond a start.

  134. Phil Derksen said,

    March 26, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Since it’s been brought up here, for those who are interested in the implications, there is a conversation about N.T. Wright’s appearance at Redeemer here:

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/n-t-wright-to-speak-at-redeemer-nyc/#comments

  135. jared said,

    March 26, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Phil,

    Except that the PCA has officially (in it’s report on FV and NPP) vindicated those respective advocates in regards to their brotherhood and, thus, have affirmed that they are indeed advocates (and recipients) of the true gospel. Clark’s assessment is out of accord with the PCA’s official position.

  136. Phil Derksen said,

    March 26, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Jared,

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. Obviously many people in the forum I linked to have chosen to go beyond just superficial reasoning about this, and have stated some credible reasons why this invitation is troubling to them. I would suggest that those who wish to further consider the implications of this matter can and should do so there.

  137. Mason said,

    March 26, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Pastor Buccheri called me promptly this morning in response to an e-mail I sent him on this topic, and was generous enough to spend a good amount of time discussing FV, NPP, the Higgins paper, and a variety of other topics. He was candid and forthright about his views, and I found our conversation to be very edifying – we concluded with a prayer over the phone.

    As for his personal views, Rev Buccheri is not familiar with and/or rejects most FV literature. He describes himself as “NPP sympathetic,” meaning he respects the scholarship and believes Luther erred in how he read Paul in some ways. He believes NPP is worth discussing and has been helpful to a degree, but believes N.T. Wright overstepped and went too far in some areas. He said he has discussed these issues on multiple occasions with Wright himself, and feels that Wright would admit he overreached in some cases. He was opposed to the PCA report because he feels such manners should be handled on a case by case basis in the courts of the PCA – he feels the report only muddied the waters because its intent and scope has been misinterpreted. I think this is a fair characterization of his views.

    Perhaps more relevant to this discussion, he knows Craig Higgins very well and considers him one of his most important mentors. Rev Buccheri said the paper by Otis is a major mischaracterization of Higgins’ views. I voiced some of my own concerns about what Higgins wrote on baptism and the way he interviews the candidates, but Rev Buccheri assured me that neither he nor Pastor Higgins believes in baptismal regeneration. He said Higgins has been very helpful to the presbytery in maintaining a high, Confessional view of baptism, and feels that many of the pastoral candidates today have a very low view of baptism – Higgins’ line of questioning tries to refocus them to realize the importance of the sacrament.

    Again, I want to thank Pastor Buccheri for his time and a very helpful and pastoral conversation. Hopefully these comments add some insight to the discussion here…

  138. GLW Johnson said,

    March 26, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Mason
    Do you believe that based on the things that Buccheri has said that he is in violation of his ministerial vows since it is impossible to harmonize NT Wright views on justification (as well as that of the sacraments,and the importance of the bi-covenantal framework of the WFC ) with the Westminster Standards?

  139. Mason said,

    March 26, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Pastor Johnson –

    Based on my lengthy conversation today and all that I’ve heard him say in the past, I do not think he has violated his ministerial vows. It is very clear he holds a high view Westminster Standards.

  140. Phil Derksen said,

    March 26, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Mason #137

    Thanks for the info. I must say, however, that I find it helpful only to a point, especially with respect to Higgins.

    You yourself said that Higgins’ own writings led you to believe that he held “some dangerous beliefs on baptism,” and that you “don’t agree with his beliefs o[n] baptism and his questioning of new candidates is a bit absurd.”

    So I would simply pose this question: Should Buccheri’s remarks about how he personally perceives Higgins’ views on baptism now led us to think that Higgins meant something other than what many, including yourself, originally thought he did?

    Again, personally, I must concur with the practical point behind Lane’s rhetorical statement from another post: “Heaven forbid we should think of words on paper as having any kind of stable meaning, maybe even (shocker!) more stable, more accurate, than personal conversation with someone else. Hmm.”

    Higgins’ own written opinions are out there for all to see. Unless I were to see his own retraction of what he has written, I still must see his views on several issues to be, IMHO, squarely FV-ish. In the doctrinal realm this would translate as them being “badly erroneous,” and in the practical realm, as you have termed them, “dangerous.”

    If you do still hold to your original take on Higgins’ view of baptism, then I would in all seriousness recommend that you take steps to ensure, as you once suggested and regardless of others’ opinions, that “h[is] views…be closely examined by the presbytery.”

    I firmly believe that preserving truth in the church is ultimately more important than preserving personal relationships. (e.g. Mat. 10:34-39; 2 Tim. 4:1-5)

    In any case, thanks again for the follow up, Mason.

    P.S to all. I am taking leave from commenting on this and other blogs, at least for a while. As much as I have found that I enjoy and am intellectually stimulated by it, it has started to become an unhelpful, almost addictive distraction from other things that I think are more important. Still, it’s been real.

  141. Wes White said,

    March 26, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Buccheri denies being Federal Vision in this post on his blog:

    http://katamatthaion.blogspot.com/search?q=two+sides+coin

    Here is a section of the article:

    “So where do both camps find alignment? In my humble opinion, both camps fail to live in the tension that the Bible presents us with. FV proponents insist on highlighting the efficacy of the sacraments: that the Christian life begins with baptism. The FV opponents on the other hand are insisting that faith is the only necessary means to be called a Christian: that baptism means next to nothing. The apostle Paul could never tear the two realities apart. Moreover, the Reformed standards make clear that a “Christian” is one who believes in the person and work of Jesus Christ by the Spirit AND one who is baptized (cf. Mark 16:16. passim)! Remove one from the equation and you don’t have a “Christian.” So…

    - Faith in the person and work of Jesus + No baptism ≠ Christan
    - No faith in the person and work of Jesus + Baptism ≠ Christian
    - Faith in the person and work of Jesus + Baptism = Christian”

  142. David Gray said,

    March 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Pastor White, what about the erroneous title to this entry?

  143. David Gray said,

    March 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    It appears from his blog that Pastor White feels the title to this dog’s breakfast is entirely accurate. I think it is fair for fair-minded Presbyterians to draw conclusions about Pastor White on that basis.

  144. GLW Johnson said,

    March 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Mason
    The view of justification that Luther espoused is exactly the same one that Calvin and the Reformed confession affirm- and any one who claims otherwise is historically in the dark. If Buccheri rejects this and endorses Wright’s position on justification ( and his position on imputation? The two go hand in and despite the confusion generated by Doug Wilson of the FV) then he is clearly out of harmony on an essential element ( one that he should not be able to take and exception)

  145. Wes White said,

    March 26, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I think that when David Gray does not condemn someone who explains his vision for how the Church could come together under the bishop of Rome (the Pope), but condemns someone who reports on it, we can also draw conclusions about such a man.

  146. David Gray said,

    March 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    >I think that when David Gray does not condemn someone who explains his vision for how the Church could come together under the bishop of Rome (the Pope), but condemns someone who reports on it, we can also draw conclusions about such a man.

    Read the article. Repent.

  147. Mason said,

    March 26, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Pastor Johnson @ #144 –

    I don’t think Rev Buccheri would disagree with Luther on justification or imputation.

    Pastor White @ #145 –

    I can’t believe I’m going to agree with David Gray on something, but I do believe you are misreading Pastor Higgins with regard to episcopacy. I don’t impugn your motives the way David does, but I see nowhere that he advocates joining with the Roman Pope – he actually says it would be impossible to do so! I don’t see where you get that he advocates for joining Roman Catholics under the Bishop of Rome – it’s just not there.

  148. GLW Johnson said,

    March 26, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Mason
    Your said that Buccheri did think that Luther erred on justification.

  149. ray said,

    March 26, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I agree with Rev. White …. I gotta say David … ever since I have witnessed your replies to any given topic … you always seem to be wanting to be the guy who stands up for the person currently under blog investigation…. for the wrong reasons … Case in point … once again with Higgin’s.

    Here is what Higgin’s has to say …

    “Therefore, if we are to work toward the visible unity of the Church, we should, I am increasingly convinced, defer to the wisdom of the majority in the Great Tradition and embrace the ministry of bishops.

    One last comment: In Ut Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II has invited all the churches to discuss how the Petrine office should function in a reunited Church, and Reformed churchmen should welcome this conversation. Our idea of concentric circles of conciliar accountability would lead us to teach that, if the Church were visibly united around the world, there would need to be an ecumenical council, meeting as necessary to govern and guide the Church. The above argument for a (reformed) episcopacy would also lead us to teach that such a council would need a “presiding bishop,” serving as primus inter pares among his brothers, and historically such a position of honor has fallen to the bishop of Rome.”

    Friend Sean Gerety… over at God’s Hammer… came up with an equally relevant quote …
    ““There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof, but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.”

    … I can only shake my head …. here you are trying to defend this Higgin’s …. I am also with what A. Barnes stated in this regard ….

    “So am I to conclude now that I need to personally email or call up Matthew and ask him if he is NPP, cannot I, by his public exhibition, conclude clearly that he is? Why else would a minister, A MINISTER, advertise websites of which his denomination has said is contrary to the beliefs of the Church?

    If I linked on my blog to a number of FV sites: Leithart, Wilson, Wilkins, Lusk, Booth, Meyers, Horne; and if I looked like a duck and quacked like a duck, what on earth would you conclude? That I am a large oliphant from Lord of the Rings?”

    … this is spot on … some of us do not have as much time to visit blogs on a daily basis … I am sure Higgin’s will know he is being discussed … when he is ready to retract what he stated above … David …. maybe your whines will have some sort of credence.

  150. David Gray said,

    March 26, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    >Here is what Higgin’s has to say …

    You make the same error as Otis in leaving out the most relevant part of the quote, hopefully with better excuse.

    >David …. maybe your whines will have some sort of credence.

    Man up, as some would say, and use your full name.

  151. Mason said,

    March 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Pastor Johnson @ #148 –

    No, this is what I said:

    “…believes Luther erred in how he read Paul in some ways.”

    I never said anything about justification.

  152. GLW Johnson said,

    March 26, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Mason
    Ok- exactly what does he believe Luther got wrong?

  153. Scott said,

    March 27, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Mason said,

    “As for his personal views, Rev Buccheri is not familiar with and/or rejects most FV literature. He describes himself as “NPP sympathetic,” meaning he respects the scholarship and believes Luther erred in how he read Paul in some ways. He believes NPP is worth discussing and has been helpful to a degree, but believes N.T. Wright overstepped and went too far in some areas. He said he has discussed these issues on multiple occasions with Wright himself, and feels that Wright would admit he overreached in some cases. He was opposed to the PCA report because he feels such manners should be handled on a case by case basis in the courts of the PCA – he feels the report only muddied the waters because its intent and scope has been misinterpreted. I think this is a fair characterization of his views.”

    I’m not familiar with the individual or the specifics of this situation.

    Looking in from the outside, this kind of response, though, sends up all kinds of red flags. It makes one suspect the theology here is quite in error, and blindingly so.

    A few phrases that help form that basis,

    “NPP sympathetic”- the whole system is wrong, and leads to confusion.

    “He was opposed to the PCA report”- the report is a moderate statement of truths no reformed believer would hesitate to accept.

    The individuals preference for case-by-case rather than the confessional help provided only drains time, effort and resources (which those holding federal vision error have done as a trademark, and that in itself is not biblical- demanding all process, then fleeing when it reaches adjudication).

    Confessional churches have a confession to be unified and determine doctrine, and have faith God will help His people understand it. This individual is, in effect, arguing against that.

    It’s not merely a case of “overstepping in some areas”- it’s about biblical principles that teaching elders must not confuse key doctrines of the Christian faith they teach about- like justification by faith alone. It is not acceptable for one who would presume to teach, not as a hallmark.

    Another reason is that the British theologian mentioned has become so identified with the errant part of his theology and with confusion, he is a stumbling block and for that reason ought be avoided for authoritative teaching until he repents.

    Sin is blinding. We live in an age, as in others, where its blinding effects cloud the harm and confusion people do even to the gospel. And that is not acceptable in God’s sight, nor for the peace and purity of His church.

  154. Mason said,

    March 27, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Pastor Johnson –

    Sorry for the brief response last night – I was running late to a fellowship group meeting and didn’t have time to elaborate. Rev Buccheri seems to believe Luther was wrong in placing justification by faith at the center of Paul’s theology. Not that Luther was wrong about justification, but was wrong to make it the “fountainhead” of Paul’s teaching. Buccheri believes Paul’s theology flowed from the Resurrection more than anything else. Again, not that Luther was wrong about justification or imputation, just that he over-emphasized them in Paul’s letters. That’s about all I can answer with regard to Rev Buccheri’s views. If you want a more comprehensive/nuanced view you’ll have to contact him directly.

  155. Bobby Avant said,

    April 6, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I wanted to add to this post one more time after I had a chance to at least look over Higgin’s thesis.
    First I think its obvious from Mr. Gray’s posts here that Mr otis seriously takes Higgins words out of context thereby manipulating his words to mean something totally different. I think a look at the title, Plausible Ecumenism shows the purpose of the article. A dialogue with other traditions exploring how at least a union could be explored. The Church of South India is given as an example. To say that Higgins is calling for union with rome under Rome’s conditions is to totally misrepresent him and sin against him.
    A quick survey of his thesis also shows that Higgins is trying to push the PCA to believe a reformed view of baptism as opposed to a baptism that is essentially Zwingilian.

    In his critique & on this page it is asserted:
    “He will readily expose himself as solidly in the Federal Vision camp. At places, he will cite to his defense none other than the notorious company of N.T. Wright, Peter Leithart, Norman Shepherd, and Rich Lusk.”

    Yes Higgins quotes these men especially Leithart but Leithart had published an article in the WTJ on the very subject of Higgin’s thesis. By this logic WTJ & WTS are FV for publishing the article.
    But higgins also quotes, Harvie Conn, Ed Clowney, TF Torrance, and probably cites Leslie Newbiggin more than anyone else. What does this tell us? Nothing except that higgins cites numerous writers who deal with the Sacrements. The FV guys and especially Leithart have written about the Sacraments to call Higgins FV based on his citations is again guilt by association.
    I would bet that a mojority of those here with critical remarks have not even bothered to scan the thesis but are ready to pronounce judment based on a very faulty and even sinful critque.
    The paper by Otis and this post is based on a very superficial reading that looks to witchhunt rather than find the truth.

  156. Bobby Avant said,

    April 6, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Its been stated without a doubt that Higgins is FV. he makes one notice of the FV controversy in his paper which he wrote in 05:
    “since I began researching this
    thesis, I have become aware of a new controversy brewing in conservative Reformed
    circles, partly on this very issue.”

    While there may be some overlap between Higgins’s concerns & the FV guys this does not make him FV.

  157. David Gray said,

    April 6, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    >While there may be some overlap between Higgins’s concerns & the FV guys this does not make him FV.

    Hey, he’s an RC agent because he used the word “Pope”.

  158. Bobby Avant said,

    April 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I don’t know if Mr. higgins plans any actions but its really sad for the PCA when someone can be libeled like.

  159. garver said,

    April 7, 2010 at 8:24 am

    I don’t particularly want to get caught up in all the issues above, but perhaps I might offer a bit of context for the initial claims regarding Craig Higgins.

    On issues of justification, faith, salvation, and the like, from everything I’ve seen or heard, Craig Higgins strikes me as a plain vanilla Reformed guy in line with forms of gospel presentation that are shaped by Tim Keller and, behind him, Jack Miller. It’s that sort of Protestant understanding of the gospel of Christ that he sees as promised and offered in word and sacrament, and to be received there by faith alone.

    Higgins’s sacramental views may bump up against those of some FV folks around the edges, but that’s hardly remarkable. The same could be said of Michael Horton.

    On the specific issue of Christian unity, a reformational episcopate, and related issues, I suspect the following resources would help explain where Higgins is coming from (my best guess):

    Paul D.L. Avis, “The Reformed Episcopate,” Chapter 8 in _The Church in the Theology of the Reformers_ (John Knox Press 1981).

    Lesslie Newbigin, _The Reunion of the Church: A Defence of the South India Scheme London_ (SCM Press 1948).

    H.J. Wotherspoon and J.M. Kirkpatrick, _A Manual of Church Doctrine according to the Church of Scotland_, especially Part IV, “Ministry,” revised and enlarged by T.F. Torrance and R.S. Wright (Oxford 1960).

    C.O. Buchanan, E.L. Mascall, J.I. Packer, et al., _Growing into Union: Proposals for forming a united Church of England_ (SPCK 1970).

    Geddes MacGregor, “The Episcopate in the Reformed Tradition,” Chapter 11 in _Corpus Christi: The Nature of the Church according to the Reformed Tradition_ (Westminster Press 1958).

    There may be other sources to Higgins’s thinking in the background, but these are what immediately come to mind.

    None of these books endorse “prelacy,” but they do demonstrate the possibility of reformed, collegial forms of modified episcopacy within Reformational traditions (as we see proposed or practiced in various ways among the Scandinavian Lutherans, the 1st Scottish Book of Discipline with its “superintendents,” the Hungarian Reformed churches, Calvin’s letters to the Poles, etc.).

    As for the possibility that some future, re-united Reformed Protestant church in the West might allow a first-among-equals primacy of love to the pastor of the reformed church in Rome, that’s an interesting dream that I suspect I’ll never live to see come to fruition. Still, it does call to mind Melanchthon’s annotation to his signature on the Smalcald Articles:

    “I, Philip Melanchthon, also regard the above articles as right and Christian. But regarding the Pope I hold that, if he would allow the Gospel, his superiority over the bishops which he has otherwise, is conceded to him by human right also by us, for the sake of peace and general unity of those Christians who are also under him, and may be under him hereafter.”

    But it seems Higgins is far, far less willing to concede as much as even Melanchthon on this particular point.

    Blessings.

    joel

  160. Bobby Avant said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Good points. With everything added especially with mr Grays’s discovery of Otis’ manipulation of Higgins’ words. Isn’t it time (that is if this blog has any integrity) to at least modify this post if not retract it alltogether.


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