Positive Theology and Negative Rejection

Here is an interesting question to ask: is positive theology (I’m defining this simply as what one believes) sufficient for orthodoxy? Or does one need to reject error as well? I am going to argue that Scripture tells us in no uncertain terms that rejection of heresy is just as important, and indeed is of a piece with positive theology. They are the flip side of the very same coin. You cannot hold positive theology without also rejecting the corresponding error. This discussion is another question facing the PCA right now, but people aren’t talking about it. The assumption in non-confessional circles is that the only thing that is important for the purposes of orthodoxy is what one affirms. One need not be held accountable for whether he denies an error or not, either in his own system, or in someone else’s system. I intend to challenge this assumption.

The passage that comes to mind immediately in this regard is Galatians 1. There Paul is dealing with the Judaizers, those who want Gentile Christians to submit to the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic law. For Paul, this is another gospel. He is not content to say that as long as they hold on to what Paul said (positive theology), they will be fine. He says that in also giving room to the Judaizers (not denying error), they are leaving the true Gospel (1:6). The system of error being perpetrated on the Galatians is antithetical to the system Paul gave them. Paul tells them in no uncertain terms (with anathemas, no less!) that they are to reject the Judaizers (1:9).

Jude is another example. The error there seems to be antinomianism (verse 4). Is it then important only to believe in the grace of God? It is equally important, Jude says, to guard carefully the meaning of grace, such that grace does not become a license for sin! Doing so, he says, is contending for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (verse 3). In the benediction, by analogy, it is just as important for God to keep us from falling as it is for Him to present us before His glorious presence (verse 24).

People will object at this point: just because someone is protecting someone else does not mean that they agree with that other person. But that is not the point. The point is that if someone is defending someone else, then the defender believes the defendee is within bounds. He has defined the boundaries to include the views of that other person. Take an example: person A believes that the Trinity is one God in three persons. But person A also believes that person B is perfectly orthodox to hold that God is three gods in one person. Does person A really have an orthodox view of the Trinity? Person A believes that the second formulation is orthodox, when it is clearly heretical. Does person A’s defense of person B say anything about the views of person A? Of course it does. It says that person A believes that person’s B’s views are perfectly okay and within the boundaries of orthodoxy, regardless of whether person A actually believes the same error. It is a redefinition of the fence!

Furthermore, the confessions of the church are also misunderstood at this point. The confessions are often understood as mere positive declarations. Are we to understand that the Westminster divines did not carefully frame their doctrines so as to exclude Arminianism, Catholicism, Socinianism, and Antinomianism? The historical work of Chad Van Dixhoorn proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Westminster divines agonized over how to phrase their positive theology in such a way as to exclude all these systems of error. Just look at chapter 11 on justification. Are we to believe that the phrase “not for any thing wrought in them” is not aimed at Catholicism? Or that the phrase “nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness” is not aimed at Arminianism? So, if someone were to come along and say that the Arminian is perfectly okay in saying that faith itself is what is imputed as righteousness, and is therefore within the boundaries of orthodoxy, it is a clear violation of the Confession.

I believe we need to pay much closer attention to this issue. It needs to be examined carefully in candidates and credentials committees. Asking questions like “Would you reject this or that error?” is vitally important. Even asking, “Would you vote against a candidate who believed error X?” would be helpful. It would show the Presbytery where the candidate believes the boundaries are. This would also have relevance to various cases in the PCA right now.

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106 Comments

  1. David said,

    October 22, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I see your point but don’t let your passion for appropriate boundaries lead you to build the great wall of china. The divines wanted the fences to be clear but they also worked to build consensus via careful nuance at times. They had fences but they didn’t necessarily put up barbed wire.

    On a separate note, asking hypothetical questions about the beliefs of future candidates during an examination seems like a reach to me.

  2. Matt Beatty said,

    October 22, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Rest assured, David, no consensus will be built on Lane’s watch.

  3. Todd Pedlar said,

    October 22, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    One cannot forget that the Synod of Dort spent a great deal of time in their “Rejection of Errors” sections of the full Canons and Articles of the synod. Rejection of error is absolutely critical. If all one is pleased to do is affirm the commonly held beliefs of a body, then that collection of common beliefs is destined (it seems, historically speaking) to get smaller, and smaller and smaller, and commitment to those beliefs shallower and shallower….

  4. jared said,

    October 23, 2010 at 12:53 am

    There are two problems: (1) there isn’t a perfect system available when fallible men are constructing the systems, even if they are constructing it from infallible materials. (2) “For who is there that has not many faults? Therefore all stand in need of forgiveness, and there is no one who does not wish to be forgiven. This singular benefit love brings to us when it exists among us, so that innumerable evils are covered in oblivion. On the other hand, where loose reins are given to hatred, men by mutual biting and tearing must necessarily consume one another, as Paul says (Galatians 5:15.)” – Calvin on 1 Peter 4:8

  5. Lee said,

    October 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    While, it is true men are fallible, I don’t think it follows then that we are not required to reject error or practice negative theology.
    In fact I think that the Bible out right requires negative theology. In additon to the verses cited above, I would point out Revelation 2 and 3. Pergamum is chastized for not rejecting the error of Balaam (2:14), Thyrtira for not rejecting Jezebeel and those that lie with her (2:20). Her teaching is specficly mentioned. Remember God threatens to take away their lampstands if they fail to reject it. And Ephesus is commended for hating the doctrine of the Nicolations (2:6).
    It seems like a pretty strong reason to practice negative theology to me.

  6. October 23, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I’m not convinced personally that we are in any position to build bridges anywhere, or that we can legitimately bend over backwards to create a consensus with anyone who doesn’t hold to our particular theology. Sure, we can engage in grassroots efforts (like the White Horse Inn or the Gospel Coalition), but when it comes to biblical and ecclesiastical unity, I don’t think we have made it a real priority.

    That’s why I have kind of a love/hate feeling about the OPC. On the one hand, it is so narrow and seemingly unconcerned with ecumenicity. On the other hand, though, I think they are being much more consistently Reformed than is the PCA a lot of the time.

  7. michael said,

    October 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I am convinced that the Scriptures address this very issue squarely.

    Let me demonstrate with the Scriptures that assertion and by them underscore my affirmation to Lane’s position. I will emphasize my point with bold letters through the verses:

    Luk 24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
    Luk 24:45 Then
    he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
    Luk 24:46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
    Luk 24:47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from
    Jerusalem.
    Luk 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.
    Luk 24:49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.
    But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
    Luk 24:50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.
    Luk 24:51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
    Luk 24:52 And they worshiped him and returned to
    Jerusalem with great joy,
    Luk 24:53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

    Act 8:1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

    In light of that and the message, consider these verses that prove you cannot really hold to the one without holding the other with it. And as the message teaches, it really is two sides of the same coin, a position of positive theology and a negative rejection of what is not the Truth:

    Act 14:3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
    Act 14:4 But the people of the city were divided;
    some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles.

    I use to think the persecution that started at Jerusalem was a position couched in weakness. Now I realize that the Apostles stood their ground in the power of the Spirit of Grace and Truth and the Church went out with the Blessing of the Lord upon them with the same power of Grace and Truth and everywhere they went, fights broke out simply because the Voice of the Church was being heard and the sound was also a sound of negative rejection of the wisdom of the world so much so that the Church then and now was and is suppose to stand soundly in the Faith once delivered to the Saints as we see there described at Acts 14.

    What’s that old saw? All that it takes for evil to triumph is for the Saints to do nothing but sit idly back silent? I say it is a curse upon the Church to sit back silent and not voice a negative rejection of the wisdom of the world!

    Here again are Jesus’ very own Words worth a second recitation this time with emphasis in italics:

    Luk 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
    Luk 24:46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
    Luk 24:47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins
    should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
    Luk 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.
    Luk 24:49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

  8. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 23, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Perhaps others might differ, but I’ve always viewed the doctrines of the creeds, especially the Christological doctrines, as essentially defined by negative boundaries.

    We cannot know the essence of God; nor can we fathom how the divine nature and human nature are united in the one person of Jesus. So formulating a purely positive theology is impossible.

    But the formulations in the creeds — that Jesus is the only-begotten of the Father and “very God of very God”; that God is three persons in one being; that Jesus is “in two natures unconfusedly” — all of these place boundaries on how we think about Jesus. All of these are proscribing certain views — Arian, “Nestorian” — of Jesus, saying that these are out of bounds.

  9. todd said,

    October 23, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    “On the one hand, it is so narrow and seemingly unconcerned with ecumenicity.”

    Jason,

    Before making such a negative statement about a whole denomination; a sister one at that; have you aquainted yourself with the many inter-church activities of the OPC? You might start here, http://opc.org/icr.html, and then do some research of all the efforts that have gone on the past five years in the OPC toward Reformed ecumenicity.

  10. October 24, 2010 at 12:31 am

    I meant no offense, Todd. I actually meant it to be partially complimentary. The OPC has way more guts than the PCA when it comes to flying the flag, to championing the Reformed identity. At the same time, though, the OPC reputation (from OPC-ers themselves) is that they at time are overly-proud of being super TR.

    But trust me, I’ve got plenty of PCA self-loathing for all of us, so please don’t take what I said as coming from some rah-rah PCA sentiment.

    I apologize if I offended you or anyone else.

  11. Ron said,

    October 24, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Lane,

    It seems to me in the examples you gave that to truly affirm X is to deny Y. If one affirms faith alone, then they deny the error of the Judaizers, that justification is not by faith alone. The question might have to be reworded to something like “Do you believe that salvation is only by faith alone?” In the like manner, if one truly affirms God is three persons, then he denies that God is one person. Again, the question might need to be reworded, but orthodoxy can be affirmed and heresy denied on that front with a positive question that would require the denial of its contradiction. As for antinomianism, other positive questions can flesh that out too I would think, for instance questions on the meaning of repentance. I think the point is that we need to be thorough in our examination and by God’s grace we hope that candidates will be truthful, unlike what we’ve seen in the PCUSA. Yes though, these are times when people have no problem creeping in without our being aware.

    Blessings,

    Ron

  12. Ron said,

    October 24, 2010 at 6:49 am

    “That’s why I have kind of a love/hate feeling about the OPC. On the one hand, it is so narrow and seemingly unconcerned with ecumenicity. On the other hand, though, I think they are being much more consistently Reformed than is the PCA a lot of the time.

    Jason,

    You elaborated later that there is a compliment in there somewhere, but your compliment was that they are willing to stand for the truth more than the PCA. In any case, would you explain your criticism a bit more? Please explain, if you don’t mind, in what way the OPC is less concerned with “ecumenicity” than Scripture defines that the church should be?

    Thanks,

    Ron

  13. dgh said,

    October 24, 2010 at 7:11 am

    Jason, there is Reformed ecumenicity American style (the National Association of Evangelicals + Baptists + Charismatics + Presbyterians) and there is Reformed Ecumenicity ecumenical style (International Conference of Reformed Churches + OPC + Free Church of Scotland + OPC etc.).

    I don’t know if this is pride or simply taking seriously the idea of like faith and practice. But it’s not all that fair to say the OPC is not ecumenical. What is fair to say is that evangelical is not enough for ecumenicity in the OPC.

  14. todd said,

    October 24, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Thanks Jason,

    I also see many weaknesses in our denomination, and I wasn’t personally offended, I have just come across too many caricatures of us that are based on little personal knowledge. But if “narrow and seemingly unconcerned with ecumenicity” is a backhanded compliment, I’d hate to see your criticisms!

  15. Ron said,

    October 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Todd,

    What are some of the “many weaknesses” you see in the OPC. Please do not tell us that we’re all sinners and that there is no perfect church That goes without saying but more to the point those truisms are not peculiar to the OPC. What do you think are some of the weaknesses of the OPC? In other words, what do you find within our standards or practice that makes us weak?

    Thanks,

    Ron

  16. Dean B said,

    October 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Why and How I Teach Heresy – Dr Trueman http://www.reformation21.org/counterpoints/carl-truemanwhy-and-how-i.php

  17. todd said,

    October 24, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Ron,

    It is not in the standards or general practice that I see weaknesses, but I don’t think it is right to use this forum for that discussion.

  18. October 24, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Todd et al,

    But if “narrow and seemingly unconcerned with ecumenicity” is a backhanded compliment, I’d hate to see your criticisms!

    Well, I didn’t say that THAT part was meant to be a compliment. I said I have a “love/hate” feeling when I think of the OPC, and that the “love” part of that has to do with how bold and willing the OPC is to stand up for the truth, and then I compared that with my own denomination and admitted that we fall way short.

    It’s funny how no PCA people are upset at me for saying that the PCA is weak on being Reformed, while OPC guys are upset at me for saying the OPC is weak on being ecumenical. Kind of proves my point a bit.

    All that aside, though, I’ll reiterate again that I mean no offense. I admire the OPC very much, it’s just that it, like all our denominations, has its own unique struggles, that’s all.

  19. todd said,

    October 24, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Jason,

    Actually, no one is upset. Not sure how your point is proven by someone asking if you’ve researched something before making your comment.

  20. Ron said,

    October 24, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    “It is not in the standards or general practice that I see weaknesses, but I don’t think it is right to use this forum for that discussion.

    That’s interesting, Todd. You find “many weaknesses” in the OPC but they do not pertain to the standards or the “general practice” of the denomination. If the weaknesses are not a matter of “general practice” then it would seem to me that they should not be attributed to the denomination, which is how I will read your statement. I will take you to mean that there are some isolated instances on the congregational level that you find “weak”. Given that interpretation, my suspicion is that your sample size from which you have drawn your inference is at best quite small. After all, how many congregations could you be acquainted with intimately enough to know their weaknesses? In any case, I do find these words of yours quite insightful: there are “many caricatures of [the OPC] that are based on little personal knowledge.”

    Ron

  21. Ron said,

    October 24, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Jason, assuming you intended to include me in your “et al” address, I will ask my question again since it was left untouched. “Please explain, if you don’t mind, in what way the OPC is less concerned with “ecumenicity” than Scripture defines that the church should be?”

    Thanks,

    Ron

  22. David Gadbois said,

    October 25, 2010 at 2:24 am

    Strange, I thought Jason’s remarks would be utterly uncontroversial, even in this forum. And I say that coming from a federation that is not exactly known for its ecumenicity, right or wrong.

  23. October 25, 2010 at 2:45 am

    You know what, never mind. Forget I said it.

    I thought I was making an relatively uncontroversial observation, one that has been made to me by tons of OPC and PCA people about their respective denominations. I wasn’t aware I was going to be asked to provide detailed statistical research to prove what I thought we all already kind of knew and could have a laugh about.

    Again, sorry.

  24. dgh said,

    October 25, 2010 at 4:50 am

    Jason, how unecumenical can the OPC be? We’re in fellowship with the PCA, aren’t we?

    Come on, you don’t think the remark about being unconcerned with ecumenicity would generate a few raised eyebrows?

  25. October 25, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Well, I am nothing if not comfortable with raising the odd eyebrow here and there….

    But if I had a nickel for every time an OPC-er, with a wink and a nudge, joked about their reputation for narrowness, well, I’d have maybe a dollar.

    And believe me, Darryl, I honestly believe that the PCA could use a dose of good ol’ fashioned irrelevance right about now….

    OK, I’ve said enough. It’s time for bed….

  26. Ron said,

    October 25, 2010 at 7:30 am

    “I thought I was making an relatively uncontroversial observation, one that has been made to me by tons of OPC and PCA people about their respective denominations.

    Jason,

    Maybe you might be a little more guarded in voicing your observations in the future. I might also suggest that the next time someone from the OPC says to you that the denomination is not concerned with X, you might ask them to unpack the remark. You might find that the complaint is due to a misconception. You might even find yourself in a position to help the person see the misconception more clearly. I can site several such examples.

    “I wasn’t aware I was going to be asked to provide detailed statistical research to prove what I thought we all already kind of knew and could have a laugh about.

    You are simply not speaking the truth with that remark and in the process deflecting matters. Nobody came close to asking you to provide anything like “statistical research to prove” anything. I simply asked that you tell us how the OPC acts contrary to Scripture with respect to being ecumenical. If the OPC is deficient in that area, you might find it a something to “have a laugh about” but I don’t think sober minded people think that way. The more you make light of your careless remark, the more reproach you bring upon your name.

    Ron

  27. todd said,

    October 25, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Jason,

    If you’re assuming Darryl and I (I don’t know Ron) are ultra-sensitive OPC defenders ready to challenge anybody who dares criticize our denomination you’d be mistaken. The point is, I used to believe the caricature about the OPC and ecumenicity until I began speaking to men on the Inter-church relations committee and heard about all the (mostly behind the scenes) attempts to reach out to other denominations for greater unity. I was unaware what was going on, and hadn’t even read the papers on church unity we had written. Anyways, after doing some research my view changed. That was the only point I was making.

    Ron,

    General practice can mean anything from serious worship to practicing church discipline to church government. Those would not be my concern or I wouldn’t be a minister in the denomination. But every demonination has its own culture; certain kinds of people people it atrracts and doesn’t. It is in this area I find the OPC’s weaknesses.

  28. Ron said,

    October 25, 2010 at 9:44 am

    “But every demonination has its own culture; certain kinds of people people it atrracts and doesn’t. It is in this area I find the OPC’s weaknesses.

    Todd,

    You do say. “Every denomination has its own culture?” Then tell us, what is the “culture” of the PCA? Is it “New Life” or something quite different, like on the order of what one might find in Fairfax, Virginia? Likewise within the OPC, I think you will be hard pressed to find a monolithic “culture”. For example, the culture of Emmanuel OPC in Wilmington, Delaware under Robert Letham, where it was not strange to pray the te deum, was vastly different than that of the only other OPC work in Delaware, Grace OPC. Yet both those cultures have little in common with what one would find just over the bridge in New Jersey at Pole Tavern, or at Bethany OPC that is located in the farmlands of Oxford, PA. How about the OPC I visited on vacation several years ago that had “optional” worship (prior to the call to worship) that incorporated skits and a woman worship leader? All those congregations attract people who might not feel particularly comfortable at Calvary OPC in Glenside and visa versa. Just take a trip to the Boardwalk Chapel and see if that fits into your idea of the “OPC culture.” My point is two-fold. (1) The OPC has no single culture. (2) What I think many people find as “weakness” is actually a byproduct of sound practice. That principle is easier to grasp once we begin to appreciate that not every local church should strive to be the church for all people.

    Ron

  29. Ron said,

    October 25, 2010 at 11:28 am

    P.S. Todd, I do appreciate the stance you are taking with Jason -very much so. It’s level headed. Also, I can be found in that number (with you and DGH) of not being ultra-sensitive to remarks against the OPC, though I think the stereo type remarks couldn’t be less true. If anything, I wish there was more uniformity in the OPC, but that’s just a preference. :)

    Cheers,

    RD

  30. October 25, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Ron,

    Maybe you might be a little more guarded in voicing your observations in the future. I might also suggest that the next time someone from the OPC says to you that the denomination is not concerned with X, you might ask them to unpack the remark. You might find that the complaint is due to a misconception. You might even find yourself in a position to help the person see the misconception more clearly. I can site several such examples.

    Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I often need to be more guarded, but wouldn’t you also admit that you are being slightly defensive (as long as we’re asking each other to admit our faults)?

    I just spoke to a first-time visitor at church yesterday who told me that the last OPC she was a part of used to seriously debate the theological value of the metric system over against the standard way of measurement. And to be fair, I have also heard of a PCA whose pastor wore an Atlanta Brave’s uniform while preaching. The mature thing to do when we hear these things is either chuckle and roll or eyes, or perhaps to lament them, but not to dig our heels and defend our denominations regardless of what they do.

    Our churches do have cultures, Ron. If we were to pick a random seminary student who’s been going to Reformed churches all his life and ask him, “Which Reformed denomination is more likely to have a drama performed during worship by a team of female deacons?” he’d probably say, “The PCA.” If we then asked, “Which one’s church directory needs ten times as many pages for the letter V than for the rest of the alphabet combined?” he’d say, “The URC.” And like it or not, if we asked him, “Which Reformed denomination has the highest ratio of polyester leisure suits at their General Assembly?” he’d undoubtedly say “The OPC.”

    The sooner we can reconcile ourselves with the way we are perceived the sooner we’ll be able to both have a laugh about it, and work toward steering things in a healthier direction (and my guess is that this is exactly the reasoning behind the OPC committee for ecumenicity). But if we can’t abide criticism, but insist that the problem is always with the critic himself, then what will that accomplish?

  31. sean said,

    October 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    I’m sorry but the thought of reforming the PCA at this juncture really strains credulity. Meaning, I’m forever committed to the belief that Jesus will build his church but I’m rapidly losing faith in the PCA’s particular manifestation. Soldier on we must but this is a tougher battle than it looked just a few years ago, I’m not sure the “TR” or “confessional” camp of the PCA is going to ever thrive in this denomination.

  32. Cris D. said,

    October 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    To clarify (some of) this OPC side-line discussion generated by Jason’s remark about “ecumenicity” and narrowness in the OPC, let me ask if “ecumenicty” was meant to address “joint ministries” and works between the OPC and others? In that sense many may not be aware of the kinds of joint ministries the OPC has engaged in (because they have usually happened on foreign soil). The OP Ecumenicity committee has always been quite active. In fact it’s possible the OPC uses contact via the committee to actually keep other bodies at a proper distance. (Someone can prolly make a dissertation out of that theory).

    Nevertheless it’s quite true that despite being the denomination that engendered and launched the “New Life” model and/or mentality on American Presbyterianism, the OPC is pretty universally regarded as emphasizing or over-emphasizing doctrinal purity. My bi-coastal perspective (once under care in Southern California), now in Philadelphia, is that those OP ministers who accuse the OPC of being too narrow, etc., fulfill the statement by departing (with or without their congregation) for some other place, usually the PCA.

    I’m quite OK with being one of Machen’s Warrior Children.

    Posted from the road (Palmetto Presby of PCA in SC).

  33. Zrim said,

    October 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Sheesh, I guess I can be glad that my Dutch Reformed have a magnanimous sense of humor re their culture (“Can’t pronounce my surname? Well, just put a “Van” in the front and it’ll roll right off the tongue”).

    Granted, they do get a little testy when it suggested they take their confessional heritage half as seriously as their day school commitments and that doing so would go a lot farther to burn the proverbial wooden shoes and overcome the cultural monolith than adopting politcally correct dogmas and creating the Office of Race Relations at HQ.

  34. Ron said,

    October 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I often need to be more guarded, but wouldn’t you also admit that you are being slightly defensive (as long as we’re asking each other to admit our faults)?

    Jason,

    If by “defensive” you mean that I called to task an ordained servant who publically made false allegations about a sister denomination, then yes I’ll be the first to admit that I was being defensive. If you mean “defensive” in the sense that I was reading into what you said and that I jumped the gun, then no, I can’t admit to that. I’ll even defend Romanism if I think it is being treated unfairly.

    I just spoke to a first-time visitor at church yesterday who told me that the last OPC she was a part of used to seriously debate the theological value of the metric system over against the standard way of measurement.The mature thing to do when we hear these things is either chuckle and roll or eyes, or perhaps to lament them, but not to dig our heels and defend our denominations regardless of what they do.

    The comment the woman made had to do with her perspective of a congregation. Not only do you find the statement credible but you also apply it to the entire denomination. What she found pedantic might have been people drawing a distinction such as three persons, one God. I see that sort of thing all the time. Precision over cardinal doctrines are confused with majoring on minors all the time. In any case, no matter what she meant, when we hear such vague comments we would do well not to roll our eyes or defend the denomination, but either try to find out what the real lament was, or else show no expression that would suggest we are in agreement with a statement we do not fully understand. It does nobody any good to indicate agreement without further understanding, and it’s especially not wise for ordained servants to behave that way. For all you know, by laughing it off you could very well confirm a foolish person in his or her misguided musings. I would think that should not sit well with you, Pastor.

    Our churches do have cultures, Ron. If we were to pick a random seminary student who’s been going to Reformed churches all his life and ask him, “Which Reformed denomination is more likely to have a drama performed during worship by a team of female deacons?” he’d probably say, “The PCA.”

    Personally, I find your reasoning deplorable, but I hope I would not be so uncharitable or unthinking to tag your entire denomination as muddled. That would be hasty and unfair. Let me explain why I find your reasoning terribly flawed. That it is true that the PCA is more likely than the OPC to have a skit during worship hardly suggests that skits are a hallmark of the PCA. If seven percent of the PCA churches use skits to communicate the gospel as opposed to ½ of 1% in the OPC, we can say with statistical confidence that the PCA is probably the denomination in view given a random remark about skits. That statistic, however, does not translate into a meaningful statistic about the “culture” of the denomination. That is the point I think you have ignored.

    The sooner we can reconcile ourselves with the way we are perceived the sooner we’ll be able to both have a laugh about it, and work toward steering things in a healthier direction (and my guess is that this is exactly the reasoning behind the OPC committee for ecumenicity).

    The sooner you recognize the misperceptions and caricatures that are out there, the sooner you might become part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem.

    Ron

  35. TurretinFan said,

    October 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    “is positive theology (I’m defining this simply as what one believes) sufficient for orthodoxy?”

    The short answer here must be “yes,” in that orthodoxy does not require knowledge (let alone rejection) of error.

    On the other hand, negative questions (or questions to which the expected answer is ‘no’) are valuable in examining candidates both for church office and for communion.

    The “Would you vote against a candidate who …” gets at a slightly different issue, the issue of the seriousness of the doctrine to the person. For example, there are some folks who have an orthodox view of Creation, but who would not be willing to vote against those who hold a heterodox view, like theistic evolution. It’s helpful information to know, even though it does go beyond the question of whether the person himself is orthodox.

    - TurretinFan

  36. dgh said,

    October 25, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Jason, I’m not talking about culture nor am I being defensive. I am questioning the assumption that ecumenical means being broad and anti-ecumenical equals narrow. That is not a Reformed view of the matter. It is typical of evangelicalism and liberal Protestantism.

  37. todd said,

    October 25, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Ron,

    I don’t think a culture has to be monolithic for it to be present; more like common tendencies that generally attract certain types of people. The PCA has a culture, as does the OPC, some churches more, some a bit less will fit into that mold.

  38. David Gray said,

    October 25, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I have to say that as an OPC man I wasn’t offended or disturbed by Pastor Stellman’s observations.

  39. Ron said,

    October 25, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    “I have to say that as an OPC man I wasn’t offended or disturbed by Pastor Stellman’s observations.

    I wasn’t offended either. How could I be when they were so far off the mark?

    Brothers,

    I am not so unaware as not to appreciate that the OPC is often considered from both within and outside its ranks as being overly concerned with doctrine. I am equally aware that those who hold such opinions have made a judgment based upon a personal standard of how doctrine ought to relate to ministry. The question we should be asking is how those opinions and perceptions are seen in light of God’s word. When a family leaves an OPC church after complaining for years about the ministry and worship, only to go down the street to the ecumenical blob stew that is staunchly Arminian, dispensational, baptistic and in-your-face contemporary in worship style, I’m not terribly concerned that the OPC church they attended was too doctrinally pure in their eyes.

    Is the OPC concerned about doctrine? Well of course it is, but that simply means that the denomination is confessional, which is hardly a “weakness”. It used to be considered a strength. It is my experience that the OPC does not major on minors, which is why I don’t find it “overly” concerned with doctrine in that pejorative sense. The OPC ministers I’ve labored side-by-side with are deeply concerned for real ministry – yet ministry that is doctrinally informed. Ministry to – spouses suffering in broken marriages; spouses having to live estranged from their unrepentant adulterous spouses; homosexuals; shut-ins; rebellious children as well as all sorts of diaconal ministries are common place in the OPC. It is my experience that the recipients of those sorts of ministries rarely if ever make the claim that the OPC is “overly concerned with doctrine”. Those claims are usually made by the “drive-bys”. Maybe the ones who can so easily find all the shortcomings with the OPC would benefit from a little hardship so that they too might see how balanced the OPC actually is by receiving some doctrinally informed, practical ministry. With respect to ecumenicity, I tried to flesh out the OPC’s actual shortcomings in light of Scripture as opposed to the perceived shortcomings in light of feelings, which is why I asked one person to “Please explain… [how] the OPC is less concerned with “ecumenicity” than Scripture defines that the church should be?”

    Is the OPC concerned with doctrine? Yes, it is. I hope we never apologize for that. It is not a fault. Should the OPC be characterized as overly concerned with doctrine? Well, that’s the claim. It’s my experience that it’s a terribly misguided and not of God. I know that I’m blessed to be found in such a fine denomination that takes faith, practice and balance so seriously. On the other hand, I suspect that others find their denominations quite blessed to have them.

    RWD

  40. Matt Holst said,

    October 26, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Jason

    “polyester leisure suits” – I laughed at that! (Darryl, are you guilty of this?).

    Seriously Jason, ignore all the accusation and negative comments about being “called to task” etc, it should have been taken in the spirit it was intended. Just about everyone knows that the OPC has been more introverted and self-satisfied than the PCA (I once was present when a long-time OPC minister warned his congregation not to think the OPC was the only “true” reformed denomination), and just about everyone knows that the PCA has made huge compromising leaps into the “world” in order to make itself more appealing.

    Darryl’s point is the only worthwhile one – ecumenical does not mean broad or worldly, and I think the ecumenicity he argues for IS represented in the OPC.

    Matt
    OPC minister

  41. Ron said,

    October 26, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Matt / “OPC minister”:

    Please defend your assertion that OPC is introverted and self-satisfied. While you’re at it, please let me know the congregation that has you as their minister. I’d like to pray for them, having such a introverted self-satisfied pastor.

    Ron

  42. Tom Riello said,

    October 26, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Ron,

    As an outsider to these things I have to say you would make a real good prosecuting attorney.

  43. Ron said,

    October 26, 2010 at 8:10 am

    My typos certainly qualify me, Tom.

    Matt, I found what I believe to be your congregation. Feel free to defend you shameful remarks.

    Ron

  44. Ron said,

    October 26, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Matt,

    It truly amazes me that you would say the OPC is so sinful as to be known by everybody to be introverted and self-satisfied. I don’t believe for a moment that you have that opinion of yourself. You, no doubt, either fight against such tendencies or you are not prone to such weaknesses. That is what qualifies you to make such sweeping assertions about your entire denomination. And that is what makes me think that YOU are self-satisfied, but I won’t hold that against our denomination.

    Ron

  45. TurretinFan said,

    October 26, 2010 at 8:24 am

    DGH wrote:

    Jason, I’m not talking about culture nor am I being defensive. I am questioning the assumption that ecumenical means being broad and anti-ecumenical equals narrow. That is not a Reformed view of the matter. It is typical of evangelicalism and liberal Protestantism.

    What’s happening? Suddenly I’m finding myself agreeing with DGH? I hope there’s a defibrillator handy…..

  46. Ron said,

    October 26, 2010 at 8:29 am

    TF, I know isn’t God amazing! :)

  47. D. T. King said,

    October 26, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Just about everyone knows that the OPC has been more introverted and self-satisfied than the PCA…

    Mr. Holst, please, let me encourage you to make known these thoughts of yours on the floor of your next meeting of Presbytery. I’m sure they’ll find these words more interesting and more helpful than your expressing them here.

  48. Matt Holst said,

    October 26, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Jason – it seems you are not the only one setting the cat among the pidgeons.

    Ron

    Please feel free to pray for us – we can do with as much prayer as possible as we are sinners.

    My assertions are based on my experience of the OPC and the experience of others – remember me citing another long-time serving OPC pastor warning us about not thinking of ourselves as being the only true reformed denomination. That is the definition of self-satisfaction. (Clearly I’m not the only one in the OPC who is aware of the danger). Additionally the equation of “small” and “narrow” with being orthodox and reformed is something from which the OPC suffers. The desire to preach to the intellect and not to the emotions, that we see in some OPC churches is, neither biblically accurate nor conducive to broadly spreading the gospel. Additionally the sniping I hear from OPC members against the PCA in particular, is largely unhealthy – as it is from PCA men against the OPC. Constructive criticism is fine, but not the “holier than thou” kind I’ve seen all too often. I hope you don’t expect me to name names or situations of this – that is an unrealistic expectation in a forum such as this.

    Now bear in mind – I’m in the OPC – I chose to be in the OPC (coming from outside its ranks) because I believe the OPC is a faithful denomination, and not wrestling with some of the issues I see in other denominations (see above discussion). The OPC is properly ecumenical at a denominational level, it does mission well and in a God-honoring manner, its structures and polity are sound and good. Its “concern for doctrine” is one reason why I joined the OPC – I share that concern for doctrine, true biblical reformed doctrine, and anyone that knows me, knows that is the case. But does that mean that the OPC does not wrestle with any problems? To say such would be foolishness, and you surely would acknowledge that point. I think on a local level, there can be seen an unhealthy introversion which fuels comments such as Jason’s.

    Ron, please forgive me if I have caused offense to you. That was surely not my intention. I don’t think that I am duty bound not to offer criticism of my own denomination, simply because I am in it. Your unfortunate assertions in your last post miss the mark by a long way – I can see within myself the seeds and sometimes the evidences of such self-satisfaction. It is far too easy to look sideways at the PCA or any other denomination for that matter, and see ourselves in a good light (that is a comment on “us” not “them”, by the way). But if we were examine our hearts, actions and yes, even our denomination in the light of Scripture, we see that we fall very far short of the mark. Surely you agree with that. And I didn’t argue that the OPC was “SO sinful” – those were your words not mine – I simply argued that there can be observed a trait within some parts of the OPC. If I thought the OPC was “so sinful” clearly I wouldn’t be in it, nor chose to be part of it as I did. My assertions do not make the OPC unfaithful, or heretical.

    Again Ron, apologies to you brother for insulting you – that really was not my intention. Please forgive me if I’ve offended you – I hold the OPC (and many brothers I know in the PCA) in the highest esteem, and as a minister of the denomination, pray regularly and publicly for all levels of the church.

    Blessings

    Matt

  49. Zrim said,

    October 26, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    If DGH wants to challenge the notion that “ecumenical means being broad and anti-ecumenical equals narrow” then as a proud, card-carrying introvert I want to challenge the assumption throughout these comments that introverted traits are a bad thing and contariwise the notion that extroverted traits are to be coveted. Like the man said, “That is not a Reformed view of the matter. It is typical of evangelicalism and liberal Protestantism.” Introverts of the church, unite. See what I just did there?

  50. Matt Holst said,

    October 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Zrim

    Wait…uniting… doesn’t that make you and extrovert? ;)

    I think I am arguing against and improper introversion.

    Matt

  51. todd said,

    October 26, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    That’s like the sign “Anarchists, Unite!”

  52. Ron said,

    October 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Dear Matt,

    Thank you for your note. I appreciate the spirit in which it was written and I don’t want anything I say to detract from your intended kindness. My heart is truly warmed.

    If you don’t mind, I am not going to interact with your interpretation of what I tried to convey; yet I do want to pick up on something that in particular jumped out at me as I think it is a pretty fair representation of a sentiment that at least some people have about the OPC. In fact, I think you touched the issue with a pin. You said: “The desire to preach to the intellect and not to the emotions, that we see in some OPC churches is, neither biblically accurate nor conducive to broadly spreading the gospel.” If you don’t mind, I am going to take your comment literally. If I shouldn’t, do let me know. You believe that some OPC churches preach to the intellect and not to the emotions. Two comments only. First, it seems to me that oftentimes sweeping prejudices about a group are based upon characteristics found among a minority within the group, or if you prefer a subculture within the culture. So for example, when one observes that the PCA is more likely than the OPC to have a drama performed in a worship service by a team of women deacons – the tendency, if we’re not careful, is to characterize the entire PCA as a denomination that utilizes dramas performed by teams of women deacons. You see the point. At the very least, such a conclusion is not the product of critical thinking and at most to write such things (such as was done in this thread) is libelous. I am happy that one would retract the statement as having been offered carelessly, but my point stands. That sort of carelessness is pervasive, especially among young up-and-comers, who are very much the future of the church. I am afraid that you too have been quick to judge and brand the entire OPC denomination according to what you believe comes forth from “some” OPC pulpits. Believe me, I hate having to bring this to your attention, especially given your last post. But that you find some pulpit-ministries too cerebral hardly warrants the indictment that the OPC is “introverted” and “self-satisfied”. Parenthetically (and this doesn’t pertain to you but I think it’s relevant), for anyone to suggest that it is profitable to publically broadcast such reckless generalizations about a denomination under the guise that we must first admit our faults in order to solve them is, I believe, simply engaging in a masquerade.

    Secondly and lastly, I sincerely question whether the “preaching to the intellect” is as emotionally vacuous as you seem to think. I won’t rehearse my many years of experience with OPC preaching, but on the whole I have found it most favorable with respect to the cognitive and emotive qualities. My only advice would be, give it a bit more time my brother; you were only ordained what, six months ago in the OPC? I’m sure it will get better for you in the second half of your first year. :) For what it’s worth, it is my experience that the overwhelming majority of ministers in the OPC are concerned with biblical doctrine that transforms lives and not just stimulates thought. Or to use your words, the passion they possess is more “biblically accurate” than I believe you have suggested. And I don’t find OPC ministers terribly fastidious about broadcasting gospel seed. I find their general approach quite good, yet always with room for improvement I’m sure.

    Most warmly yours,

    Ron

    P.S. Please believe me, I took no offense otherwise I’d receive your apology with gladness. You’re too kind to offer your apology. If you offended anyone, it was OPC ministers, but they’re a very gracious bunch so don’t lose any sleep! :)

  53. todd said,

    October 26, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Ron,

    I wouldn’t say what Jason said was libelous, that’s going overboard against someone just voicing a criticism. But I do think Matt is correct – the OPC culture tends to be too intellect oriented – assuming most people are like us, and tends to therefore draw only a certain type of person. Every church – no – generally a problem – I would say yes.

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 26, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Ron, is it fair to say that you positively reject the negative assessment above? :)

  55. Zrim said,

    October 26, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Matt, in my experience there can be a lot of confusion on what constitutes “improper” introversion at the personal level. I would suspect the same is true when assessing it corporately.

    Todd, introversion is no more opposed to unity than solitude is to company—or 2k is to religious belief influencing the public square. It’s a common mistake to miss the subtle distinctions in all.

  56. todd said,

    October 26, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Zrim,

    The weaknesses I see have nothing to do with introversion vs. extroversion. Not sure where you got that.

  57. Matt Holst said,

    October 26, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Ron

    Thanks for the engaging note and its tone.

    A couple of things: you chose not to engage with some of the comments I made, perhaps because they were strong supports of my position – like seasoned ministers warning of this very issue? Also, of course I’m generalizing and I would have assumed everyone would have realized that. Of course not every minister in the OPC preaches to the intellect, anymore than every pastor in the PCA wants dance madness out the front of the church. By necessity one has to generalize, especially if we are talking about people’s impression of us.

    And your appeal to my short time of service is irrelevant. If one had to be a pastor of long service, or even a pastor to comment on such tendencies, then you exclude yourself by such criteria. (I’ve done my homework too; I do like your taste in music though ;) ) Whether one is a pastor or not, has no bearing on the ability to assess this situation. I maybe new to the OPC but sometimes freshness gives perspective that those who are entrenched in history and tradition sometimes lose. That works both ways of course, I understand. I’ve also been around long enough to know there is truth to what I said and many (a generalization of course) within the OPC acknowledge freely what I am saying.

    Thanks anyway brother. I don’t mean to stoke the fire by my comments. Perhaps it’s best to bow out now. I truly delight in being in the OPC, and am very thankful the Lord has placed me here. Perhaps we can meet up one day and talk over this (far preferable than the entrapments of cyberspace)

    Blessings

    Matt

  58. D. T. King said,

    October 26, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    By necessity one has to generalize, especially if we are talking about people’s impression of us.

    No, one can resist the temptation to generalize, rather than succumbing to some personal desire (for whatever reason) to describe “people’s impressions of us” when we are limited by our own experience and hear-say. One need not offer explanations that result in sweeping generalizations. We often have but a feeble understanding of our own experiences, suffer from mistaken impressions, rely too much on hear-say, and then speak in generalities that we could never prove even in a court of law. I could say, for instance, that this seems to be a trait resident in young men beginning in the ministry, but the fact is that I’ve seen also young men exercise more restraint and more caution.

  59. Ron said,

    October 27, 2010 at 12:04 am

    A couple of things: you chose not to engage with some of the comments I made, perhaps because they were strong supports of my position – like seasoned ministers warning of this very issue?

    Dear Matt,

    There are several reasons I did not engage with much of what you wrote. For instance, above you note that you would have liked for me to have engaged you on this remark: “I once was present when a long-time OPC minister warned his congregation not to think the OPC was the only ‘true’ reformed denomination.” That remark of yours was immediately on the heels of this remark of yours: “Just about everyone knows that the OPC has been more introverted and self-satisfied than the PCA.” The reason I passed on that remark (and other equivalent ones as well) is I am tired of pointing out basic fallacies where conclusions exceed the scope of the premises, especially at the risk of eclipsing more needful points. But since you are insisting, let me interact at least briefly with your progression of thought, which is as follows:

    Thesis: Everyone knows that the OPC has been more introverted and self-satisfied than the PCA.

    Proof of thesis: I once was present when a long-time OPC minster warned his congregation not to think the OPC was the only “true” reformed denomination.

    Analyses: (Is analyses really even necessary?) Your thesis that everyone *knows* about this serious indictment of the OPC is not logically supported by the *opinion* of one long-time OPC minister. What’s worse, the warning of the OPC minister was not that the OPC is introverted and self-satisfied but that his congregation ought not to think incorrectly about their own denomination. Accordingly, not only did you leap from one person’s opinion to a conclusion about what everyone else thinks; you even went so far as to interpret an instruction given to a congregation as a slam against a denomination. The instruction given by the minister was not “beware, the OPC thinks too highly of itself” but rather that the particular congregation ought not to (a) think too highly about their own denomination and (b) think that other denominations are not Reformed. Now maybe that’s not what you meant to communicate, but those are the unvarnished facts of the case. I’m a logician, not a mind reader. If you have more data you’d like to share, or if you wish to exegete that isolated remark another way, I’ll do my best to process your argument but as for now I don’t follow your train of thought, even allowing for the accuracy of your premise.

    By necessity one has to generalize, especially if we are talking about people’s impression of us.

    It is one thing to make generalizations about the whole based upon characteristics of the majority and quite another thing to make generalizations about the whole based upon a minority opinion about a minority of the whole. Are you now going to step out and say that the majority of people find the majority of OPC ministers introverted and self-satisfied? I sincerely hope not.

    And your appeal to my short time of service is irrelevant. If one had to be a pastor of long service, or even a pastor to comment on such tendencies, then you exclude yourself by such criteria.

    My comment about your short tenure is indeed relevant. In six months as a minister in the OPC you are making sweeping statements about the set of ministers in the denomination. That’s hardly enough time to get acquainted with the denomination, let alone become knowledgeable about what is coming forth from all the pulpits or occurring on visitation. As for defending my credentials, I really don’t need to because I was not the one criticizing your fellow ministers. So if you please, just chalk up my more favorable remarks about OPC ministers to my naively thinking the best of God’s under shepherds in our denomination. But the truth of the matter is, I’ve labored side-by-side in practical ministry with nine OPC ministers in the past seven years and all of those men – every one of them – were anything but introverted or self-serving in my opinion. Shall I list their names and disclose the pastoral matters that we were involved over, or will you take me at my word?

    Whether one is a pastor or not, has no bearing on the ability to assess this situation.

    I’m sorry you feel that way my brother, that being a pastor or elder lends no relevant insight into the question of whether one is introverted or self-satisfied with respect to gospel ministry. It is my personal experience that by being on session one gains great insight into the compassion that his fellow elders have for the flock of Jesus Christ.

    Thanks anyway brother. I don’t mean to stoke the fire by my comments. Perhaps it’s best to bow out now. I truly delight in being in the OPC, and am very thankful the Lord has placed me here. Perhaps we can meet up one day and talk over this (far preferable than the entrapments of cyberspace)

    I’m sure you do delight in being in the OPC, and I trust we are already a stronger denomination because of your presence. I say that with all sincerity. I (too?) would enjoy meeting you one day.

    Unworthy but His,

    Ron

  60. Ron said,

    October 27, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Ron, is it fair to say that you positively reject the negative assessment above? :)

    positively :)

  61. Matt Holst said,

    October 27, 2010 at 6:54 am

    D T King and Ron

    Methinks you protest too much – and possibly therein lies some of the proof of the pudding.

    Blessings to you both.

    Matt

  62. October 27, 2010 at 6:56 am

    To be fair to Matt Holst, I am a good friend and have had many conversations with him about denominations. Matt is firm in his belief that the OPC is the best of fallen denominations. I am a PCA minister and am constantly coming under criticism from OPC men for my affiliation, and this does not bother me. Why? Because I am mature enough to know that my denomination is imperfect. This opens a world of other conversations, but I think some of the men on this thread have made a mountain out of a mole hill. Perhaps I will be called to task for over generalization!!!

  63. October 27, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Coffee Collection for October 27th…

    Check out our items of interest for October 27th, some miscellany to help keep you caffeinated…….

  64. Ron said,

    October 27, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Matt is firm in his belief that the OPC is the best of fallen denominations.

    Pastor Batzig,

    I believe that to be true, but that was never in question, at least not in my mind.

    I am a PCA minister and am constantly coming under criticism from OPC men for my affiliation, and this does not bother me. Why? Because I am mature enough to know that my denomination is imperfect.”

    I believe that to be true, but nothing I said suggests that I believe the OPC is perfect.

    This opens a world of other conversations, but I think some of the men on this thread have made a mountain out of a mole hill.

    I believe that to be true, that you think some people made a mountain out of a mole hill.

    I do think you are incorrect that a mountain was made out of a mole hill but that’s because I believe that to draw sweeping conclusions about groups of people based upon limited experience with “some people” is hazardous. I would even bet that Jason and Matt will in the future be slow to speak out against the entire OPC. If I am correct, then being seen as a pedantic irritant was well worth it for me.

    Perhaps I will be called to task for over generalization!!!

    No, I would not say that you over generalized. You chose your words most carefully. You did not make a sweeping characterization about the people that frequent Greenbaggins based upon the behavior of “some” people who frequent Greenbaggins. That difference is the point of this discussion.

    Sincerely,

    Ron

  65. Zrim said,

    October 27, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Todd, your comment was that to call for unity amongst introverts was the same as calling for unity amongst anarchists. I get that my half-joking comment was met with a half-joking rejoinder. But the half-serious implication seems to be that both introversion and anarchism are somehow fundamentally opposed to unity. I can’t really speak for anarchism, but for introversion that’s just not true. Introversion is about a different kind of unity than extroversion esteems, which seems to me to parallel how confessional notions of ecumenicity might differ from evangelical.

  66. todd said,

    October 27, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Zrim,

    No, it was just a joke. Nothing more.

  67. D. T. King said,

    October 27, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Methinks you protest too much – and possibly therein lies some of the proof of the pudding.

    Methinks, that might best be spoken in front of a mirror.

  68. Zrim said,

    October 27, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Todd, yeah, I got the funny part. I was just making sure introversion was getting stuck up for in the midst of certain comments, kind of like sticking up for the OPC in the midst of certain comments.

  69. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    October 27, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Sometimes I am glad the OPC/PCA side of NAPARC forgets we exist.

    Signed,

    ARP Minister in two weeks.

  70. sean said,

    October 27, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    This is the internet man, there are no casual observations allowed among the sentence diagramming set. Duh! Everybody knows that. No sarcasm either, cuz we can’t tell if your friend or foe and we need to be ready to take offense at the first sign of potential, possible, could be, might become, could be read as, subordination towards our infallible sensibilities.

  71. Jesse Pirschel said,

    October 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Ron,

    Out of curiosity, by the standards you have set for generalization, can we ever make a comment about the OPC as the OPC, good or ill, or must we always speak to particulars since we are finite and could not possibly know what the OPC is actually like in all of its’ particular expressions? And beyond this discussion, can we ever speak to anything not expressly set down in Scripture without committing this same misstep? To speak of the GOP, for instance, becomes impossible (unless there be a Platonic form of GOPness) since we being finite do not know all the members thereof and their personal platforms. It seems like a tall order for mere mortals. By this standard, can you defend the OPC, since your experience is limited to your personal interaction?

    As one of my Profs used to say, “You can’t say everything when you say anything, because if you try to say everything when you say anything, you will be so busy saying everything you will never say anything at all”.

  72. Phil Derksen said,

    October 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Couldn’t help but notice that one participant on a certain other forum identifies themselves as belonging to the “Only Perfect Church.”

  73. October 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I would even bet that Jason and Matt will in the future be slow to speak out against the entire OPC. If I am correct, then being seen as a pedantic irritant was well worth it for me.

    Well, I may be loath to utter even the smallest hint of criticism against the OPC publically ever again, but not for the reasons Ron thinks I should. My reason for refraining will be because certain people seem overly adversarial, devoid of humor, and incapable of self-criticism.

    But hey, I can’t blame Ron too much for his being the perfect hypostasis of the OPC cliche, his leisure suit has got to be incredibly itchy (plus, it’s hard buying the right size when you’re dealing in the divinely-inspired metric system).

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a city to redeem and a drama practice to coach (deacon Sarah is performing a scene from Sleepless in Seattle at our Saturday night service).

  74. D. T. King said,

    October 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    My reason for refraining will be because certain people seem overly adversarial, devoid of humor, and incapable of self-criticism…

    Yes, it’s always commendable to paint your critics in the best light. :)

  75. October 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Well, David, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… (insert smileyface emoticon here).

  76. D. T. King said,

    October 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Well, David, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… (insert smileyface emoticon here).

    Yes, I appreciate the condescending gesture. :)

  77. October 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I learn from the best!

    ;-)

  78. TurretinFan said,

    October 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    1) Someone makes a remark about denomination X.

    2) Members of denomination X take offense.

    What’s the godly response? May I suggest that if a candidate suggested that #73 is great example of a godly response, I’d almost certainly vote against him, which nearly gets us back to the actual topic of the post.

  79. October 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    TF,

    1) Someone makes a remark about denomination X.

    2) Members of denomination X take offense.

    What’s the godly response? May I suggest that if a candidate suggested that #73 is great example of a godly response, I’d almost certainly vote against him, which nearly gets us back to the actual topic of the post.

    1) I said I have a “love/hate” attitude toward the OPC, and then cited the reason of narrowness (one that nearly every OPC minister I know has admitted to me is a constant struggle).

    2) I also stated the “love” part of the equation, which is that the OPC stands much more valiantly for truth than does my own denomination much of the time (even citing specific examples of my own denomination’s silliness).

    3) Once it became clear that offense was taken, I apologized at least twice, perhaps three times. I then retracted my original statement here on GB, as well as saying on my own blog that I made a regrettable criticism of the OPC that I wish I could retract, one that has unfortunately derailed the discussion unnecessarily.

    4) When Ron suggested I be more guarded in the future, I agreed with him that this is the case.

    5) During all this time (with others besides me weighing in here to agree with me), Ron has not once admitted any kind of fault on his own part or that of the OPC, even going so far as to refuse to admit that there is anything wrong with the practice of the OP congregation of debating the theological value of the metric system (an example of the original problem I highlighted).

    6) Also during this time Ron has continued to essentially call me a liar.

    7) So in #73, after having tried to stay out of this discussion for the last couple days, I responded to Ron’s admonition about my surely having learned my lesson by pointing out that he has demonstrated himself to be adversarial and humorless (and admit it, my leisure-suit joke was pretty funny).

    8) To make sure that it was clear that I’m just trying to lighten the mood around here, I then made fun of myself and my denomination again by saying I had to go coach a drama practice and then redeem the culture.

    So that’s where things stand as I see it. You can publically call me ungodly if you want (I’ve been called worse). But I will continue to maintain that if indeed the OPC has the reputation for being combative and narrow (which, again, just about every OP minister I know admits with both a chuckle and a sigh), then perhaps the reason is that certain people are so intransigent and heel-digging that they refuse to demonstrate any self-reflection, humility, or humor when given the chance.

  80. Martin said,

    October 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Jason, I’m jealous.

    Our Director for Music-Arts-Drama got together with our Leaderhip Council for Spiritual Formation and picked a scene from You’ve Got Mail. I guess that’s what you get from a committee – oops – small group – whatever. Same actors, sure, but Sleepless In Seattle was so much better.

  81. todd said,

    October 27, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    “My reason for refraining will be because certain people seem overly adversarial, devoid of humor, and incapable of self-criticism.
    But hey, I can’t blame Ron too much for his being the perfect hypostasis of the OPC cliche,”

    Jason,

    I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I missed the tongue and cheek in your original statement – I just reread it and still don’t see it, but humor doesn’t always translate well in posts, so sorry for missing it. But the other way to look at it might be, since of all the readers only one responded with such defensive vigor against your thought, maybe the rest of us don’t take ourselves as seriously as many assume.

  82. Ron said,

    October 27, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Jesse,

    Out of curiosity, by the standards you have set for generalization, can we ever make a comment about the OPC as the OPC, good or ill, or must we always speak to particulars since we are finite and could not possibly know what the OPC is actually like in all of its’ particular expressions?

    We can say many things about the OPC. It’s a denomination that is involved with world wide missions as well as home missions. It’s a denomination that is to require all its officers to receive and adopt the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster standards. It’s a denomination that does not require the same doctrinal subscription from its non-ordained members as it does for its officers. We can derive other dogmatic assertions about the OPC from all those observations, like Baptists can be members in good standing in the OPC, and no minister may be a Baptist. OPC ministers must profess to be Calvinists. One has a better chance of finding an Arminian in the pew than in the pulpit of OPC churches. Let’s call all those types of remarks definitive remarks. We can also make general remarks that can be verified empirically, like most congregations in the OPC typically hold Sunday evening worship services, and most OPC ministers in the mid-Atlantic presbytery do not profess to be premillennial. Those type general statements have a definitive aspect about them, but what is definite is not the homogeneous quality of the particulars but rather the qualifier “most”. “It can be definite that most x” is not the same proposition as “definitely x”. There are other general statements that can be made that are based upon statistical significance, but nowhere was I looking for a formal 1-p defense, yet I did try to point out in post 59 and elsewhere what I thought to be some rather dubious reasoning. Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly believe that one can (and should) have great confidence in certain types of inferences based upon personal experience, but the inferences that some on this site wanted to draw were in my estimation not based upon anything that should give confidence in the conclusion. (I dabble in statistics and probability http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2008/08/sometimes-we-do-agree.html) There is a reason why properly conducted surveys can shock us out of preconceived notions. There is something called margin of error, which is not to be confused with confidence levels. If someone wanted to accept a margin of error of 5% and a relatively low but widely accepted confidence level of 90%, the corresponding sample size should be 267 people (given a common default value for the population size). Now if one is satisfied with a margin of error of 98% with a 90% confidence level, then a sample size of 1 would be just fine. I can hear it now, “Ron, without conducting a formal survey, we’ve been around long enough to know the view people have of the OPC.” Again, I am all for casual inferences, but let me say a little bit about random samples. It’s always wise to check one’s sampling procedure to avoid bias, even when the surveys are informal. To hear complaints from even many people is not to take into account the opinion of all the rest that have not voiced an opinion. Drawing inferences in that way is not statistically random, but unsuspectingly biased, which is why properly conducted surveys often shock us.

    And beyond this discussion, can we ever speak to anything not expressly set down in Scripture without committing this same misstep?

    As I show above, definitive statements can be made about the OPC as well as general statements. General statements can either be statistically projected or empirically verified etc.

    To speak of the GOP, for instance, becomes impossible (unless there be a Platonic form of GOPness) since we being finite do not know all the members thereof and their personal platforms. It seems like a tall order for mere mortals.

    See above.

    By this standard, can you defend the OPC, since your experience is limited to your personal interaction?

    That someone has the natural ability to draw accurate inferences upon personal experience was never in dispute, at least by me. What was in dispute was the haphazard manner in which negative inferences were drawn (and heralded). As I noted in this thread, 100% of the OPC ministers I’ve labored with have demonstrated to me a balance that is much more in accord with the instruction found in 1 Corinthians 13, than that of being introverted and self-satisfied. And given all the OPC ministers I’ve heard preach, and assuming I can discern when a minister is simply teaching and not preaching (I’ve allowed everyone that judgment of charity so I would like to have it), I would dare say that I am 90% confident with about a10% margin of error that 100% of the ministers appear more concerned with ministering to their people than merely teaching fine points of theology. :) But all of that is really beside the point. The point as I saw it had to do with the informal sampling base and the manner in which a reasonable margin of error and confidence was to have been obtained. I’m fine with informal inferences, but I haven’t seen any that goes beyond the random hearing of negative remarks about the OPC, as opposed to also listening to those who haven’t yet spoken! The claim, as I have understood it, is that more than 50% of the ministers are preaching to the head only. That’s a claim that needs some serious backing.

    Finally, a word or two should be said about the types of people the OPC might draw. If nothing else, please get this… If a denomination has a perfect balance, it will be very concerned with having pristine doctrine, along with having everything else in its proper place. Accordingly, those who are drawn only to pristine doctrine can easily be drawn to the OPC, even if they have no concern for holy living. I mentored such a man (not in my presbytery) who sought me out because he thought I could teach him a few things about apologetics. Out of the blue, years after my first encounter with the man, his wife broke into his email account in order to reach me, for she believed her husband held me in some regard. Her husband was living a licentious life and had abandoned his wife when she was nine months pregnant. As God would have it this man was drawn to me and the OPC for apologetics and pristine doctrine respectively. Obviously it would be reckless to conclude that the denomination and I are only concerned with theology and apologetics and have little regard for fidelity and holiness. I am well aware, the OPC often attracts those who are only interested pristine doctrine, but that is a far cry from suggesting that the OPC is only interested in pristine doctrine. In the like manner, it is no sooner an indictment against the OPC as a denomination that several were found debating the value of the metric system anymore than it could be an indictment against Christ that he attracted all sorts of colorful sinners. What were those sinners talking about at fellowship time? Should we hold their interests against the one they were drawn to? If God chooses to pour out his blessings upon any denomination, it will be filled with people that are not a representation of what the denomination stands for. Let’s not blame the pastors for the tendencies of their sheep, shall we? May our congregations be filled with such colorful sinners who are being sanctified but not yet perfected!

    Can we give it a rest?

    Ron

  83. Reed Here said,

    October 27, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    All: maybe the issue should be dropped at this point?

    If you believe there are matters that still need to be dealt with might I suggest doing so privately at this point. If you do not have someone’s email, please email me (reed dot here at gmail dot com). I will get you in touch with the other party.

    After y’all resolved things privately, feel free to make some public comment if you think appropriate.

    As it is, I suggest this conversation is at this point beyond the bounds of what a blog can properly handle.

  84. Ron said,

    October 27, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Reed,

    I like that suggesting because I have to get my leisure suit from the dry cleaners first think in the morning and then catch a plane to Woodinville, WA for the weekend, then I’m off to Woodstock, Georgia the week after that. :)

    Blessings all,

    Ron

  85. October 28, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Now THAT’s what I’m talking about, Ron!

    If you come to Woodinville and teach me the intricacies of the leisure suit culture, I’ll repay you by teaching you how to sing “Shine Jesus Shine” in tongues.

  86. Paige Britton said,

    October 28, 2010 at 6:04 am

    “If I make you laugh, then I know I can make you like me…” (RM)

  87. Ron said,

    October 28, 2010 at 8:16 am

    If you come to Woodinville and teach me the intricacies of the leisure suit culture, I’ll repay you by teaching you how to sing “Shine Jesus Shine” in tongues.

    Jason, let’s make it really ecumenical and get someone from the CRC to interpret.

  88. Zrim said,

    October 28, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Ron, I’m CRC (in membership but OPC down in the depths of my heart) and take considerable offense at that last remark. Don’t you know that the CRC is all about U2charists now? If you apologize I’ll consider bringing Pastor Lora to Woodenville to explain how vinyl makes way better sacraments than bread. But at least she wears a black Genevan gown and not a leisure suit. Nyah.

  89. Chris Zodrow said,

    October 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Ron,
    You wrote: “When a family leaves an OPC church after complaining for years about the ministry and worship, only to go down the street to the ecumenical blob stew that is staunchly Arminian, dispensational, baptistic and in-your-face contemporary in worship style, I’m not terribly concerned that the OPC church they attended was too doctrinally pure in their eyes”.

    Is it possible that sometimes people leave churches because of a lack of love for Christ and one another? Is it still a mystery that doctrinal systems can trump the existential aspects that Scripture commends and commands – like love? We are adept at the self-deceit of having our i’s dotted and t’s crossed and missing the forest— the Lord. Yes, yes, of course you will ask “which Lord?” and then we are back at doctrine. But to what end do we hold to the truth? The angel warned the church at Ephesus, “You have left your first love”. The issue was not doctrinal.

    My experience with the OPC (yes, I know, it is just my experience), has been mixed. I met Kenneth Gentry back in ’98 and he was a warm and generous pastor-scholar. I have also met with an OPC minister— here in my hometown— who suggested that evangelism was unnecessary and that people would just show up if God called them. They are still in their little gym after six years.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  90. Ron said,

    October 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Is it possible that sometimes people leave churches because of a lack of love for Christ and one another?

    Hi Chris,

    Yes, that’s very possible and on some occasions I think it can even be appropriate if done properly. It’s rarely done properly has been my experience.

    Is it still a mystery that doctrinal systems can trump the existential aspects that Scripture commends and commands – like love?

    I wouldn’t pit doctrine against “existential” love, whatever that means to you. Don’t the teachings that pertain to existential union with Christ exude love from above, yet being rich in docrtrinal truth?

    We are adept at the self-deceit of having our i’s dotted and t’s crossed and missing the forest— the Lord. Yes, yes, of course you will ask “which Lord?” and then we are back at doctrine. But to what end do we hold to the truth? The angel warned the church at Ephesus, “You have left your first love”. The issue was not doctrinal.

    Tell me what you think that first love was and tell me how it is void of doctrine. At base, aren’t we to have abounding love that is walled in by knowledge and discernment? Didn’t Jesus essentially pray that his people would show forth the unity of the spirit and bond of peace (i.e. love) to a watching world through the means of being sanctified by the word of truth? The night before Jesus was crucified, isn’t it striking that he taught the twelve about the doctrine of the Trinity in order to comfort them in love? Aren’t believers predestined (heavy doctrine) in love? (I think the NIV and ESV have Ephesians 1:4 and 5 right.)

    My experience with the OPC (yes, I know, it is just my experience), has been mixed. I met Kenneth Gentry back in ’98 and he was a warm and generous pastor-scholar. I have also met with an OPC minister— here in my hometown— who suggested that evangelism was unnecessary and that people would just show up if God called them.

    Yes, Dr. Gentry is winsome in many respects. As for your home town minister, if he said that, then tell him I said he’s a fool. Seriously, call me crazy but I’m more inclined to give the minister the benefit of the doubt than trust a person I don’t even know. I think that’s dotrinally informed love. :)

    They are still in their little gym after six years.

    They’re in a little gym and Joel Olsteen’s ministry is flourishing. Now what’s your point again? :)

    As hard as it might be for you to believe, OPC guys are keen on love. It’s even up there with redemptive historical preaching and pressupositional apologetics. We have to keep it light or this thread could get shut down by a very patient Reed! :)

    Cheers,

    Ron

  91. Ron said,

    October 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Zrim,

    I didn’t know that about the CRC. You’re kidding, right? BTW, the Edge sat right in front of me and my wife at the Peter Gabriel concert in NYC several months ago. I could have asked him his thoughts on that.

    Ron

  92. Chris said,

    October 28, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Ron,
    Yes, Jesus did teach them about the Trinity, but He wasn’t catechizing or interrogating them to find out if they were really in the faith.

    I never suggested that the Ephesian’s love was void of doctrine. On the contrary, they were advanced in love not despite of it. But, at some point, the love disappeared. It is possible to be sound and cold.

    You would make a good lawyer, as you are very adept at loading questions. “Mr. Speaker, if I may divide the question please…”. How is that you fly from an OPC church that is frozen by choice, to a dubious model of success, ie Joel Osteen? Talk about a set up. You presume quite a bit.

    If this is your style of being an elder, I would not come to your church, and it is NOT because I take issue with your doctrine.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  93. Ron said,

    October 28, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Chris,

    You wouldn’t go to the church I attend and an OPC minister in your town is a hyper-Calvinist. Is there anything else you would like to get off your chest?

    Blessings,

    Ron

  94. Chris said,

    October 28, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Ron,
    If only you were just an attendee… could you do better at confirming my simple observations (#89 above)? Wow. Is it just me or does the OPC abound in smarminess? Oh, I know, it’s just me.

    Once again, I go away from interacting with aTR guy wondering what happened to the reformation.

  95. Ron said,

    October 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Chris,

    I have more time now and I’ve considered a bit more what you wrote. You said to me, “You would make a good lawyer, as you are very adept at loading questions. ‘Mr. Speaker, if I may divide the question please…’ How is that you fly from an OPC church that is frozen by choice, to a dubious model of success, ie Joel Osteen? Talk about a set up. You presume quite a bit.”

    From your perspective I would think that you would say that both churches are what they are “by choice” and that both churches operate in a “dubious manner”. Accordingly, my point in bringing Olsteen’s ministry into view was to point out that numbers are not necessarily an indication of practice, and that you don’t sustain any point by pointing to the small work in the gym. That’s all.

    Best,

    Ron

  96. Zrim said,

    October 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Ron, no, U2charists are all the rage. If I had sat by Edge I’d’ve asked him how he ended up with such crappy seats. Hey, did Gabriel ride that chrome dirt bike around the stage when he did “Solsbury Hill”? What’s up with that?

  97. Ron said,

    October 28, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Chris, I posted 95 before seeing 94. I have no clue what you’re driving at in any of this. I’m sure it’s me. Yes, people can be void of love and only concerned with theology. I’ve acknowledged that in the thread and even tried to defend OPC pastors on that front. I also said I wouldn’t take your side against an OPC pastor when what he was guilty of in your eyes would have been contrary to his ordination vows. In any case, I’m not sure what is off limits and I do want to abide by what Reed had in mind regarding boundaries. I’m not inclined to interact with you anymore on this because I’m obviously failing to grasp your intentions, which again I’ll take the blame for, and if I argue a point I could be seen as a slick lawyer, something I don’t want to be considered – though I have no problem with lawyers as a general rule! :)

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  98. Ron said,

    October 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Ron, no, U2charists are all the rage. If I had sat by Edge I’d’ve asked him how he ended up with such crappy seats. Hey, did Gabriel ride that chrome dirt bike around the stage when he did “Solsbury Hill”? What’s up with that?

    Cute one on the seats, Zrim. Center stage, twelve rows back – hate to disappoint. :) No, he didn’t ride the bike. He strolled across the stage for Solsbury Hill. It seems to me that when he was forty he was still doing the rhythmic dances, when he turned fifty he began riding the bike and now at sixty he appropriately strolled back and forth across the stage for that piece. I must say, I’ve seen him since his early post Genesis days and I thought this last show was as spectacular as all the others. He truly is a remarkable peformer, and very warm with the audiance. The orchestra arrangements were powerful and they had Peter’s mark all over them. He was performing only the work of other artists on the recent CD and the concert was split in half, the first part coming strictly from the CD. I still watch clips on Youtube.

    Ron

  99. October 28, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Lane,

    Back to the original post, all one need do is consider Titus 1:9: “(An elder/bishop) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine AND REFUTE those who oppose it.” They oppose sound doctrine because they are in error, and therefore, their errors must be named and opposed.

    And even with Galatians, it was not Peter’s doctrine, per se, which Paul opposed, but Peter’s ACTIONS which came about by a refusal to APPLY Gospel truths to a real-life church setting: “When I saw that they were not ACTING IN LINE WITH THE TRUTH of the Gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all.”

    So it seems wrong for church courts to say that we may never rule a man out if his positions can be clearly shown to lead to error, though he may deny that he holds to the errors themselves. Did Peter reject the Gospel? No, but he was clearly in the wrong, because he was not applying its truths as he should.

    And by the way, Paul’s rebuke was PUBLIC. And Peter is the hero of that story, because in the end, he humbly repented, though he was an apostle long before Paul. Seems he learned something from the sword incident after all.

    FWIW, Chris Hutchinson

  100. jared said,

    October 28, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Re. 99,

    It should be noted that “PUBLIC” for Paul and Peter in the first century is not contextually equivalent to “internet” or “blogs” in the twenty-first century.

  101. Reed Here said,

    October 29, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Jared: not sure what emphasis you’re trying to draw. Clearly though, the event was thoroughly public, even more public than a blog. It was not simply sprea via word of mouth, but written and distributed with the intent to make it public.

  102. jared said,

    October 29, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Reed,

    You’ve correctly draw precisely the point I was making. There’s a lot of “public” calling out of error but not really a lot of PUBLIC calling out of error these days. No, we are content with writing letters and forming committees of people who either (a) have never met or know nothing about the individual(s) being accused and/or the errors being propogated or (b) people who have, previous to the calling out, mighty and not so loving axes to grind against the perceived error and/or the individuals supposedly advocating those errors. When was the last time someone was “called out” at GA? Or even at a presbytery meeting? That is, of course, presuming such gatherings are even deemed appropriate to make such public accusations. I sometimes wonder if Paul followed proper procedure (you know, going to Peter privately first) before doing so “in front of them all”.

    Anyway, just commenting from the peanut gallery on this one.

  103. November 1, 2010 at 8:28 am

    [...] Positive Theology and Negative Rejection (via Green Baggins) Posted on November 1, 2010 by Reformed Joe Positive Theology and Negative Rejection [...]

  104. November 3, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Hey guys,
    Dr. Gentry actually baptized my firstborn while an OPC pastor (he had left the PCA to fill Dr. Bahnsen’s shoes). He was our pastor from ~2000-2003 and I thank God for being around such a nice and holy man. I don’t think he was that unhappy being in robot land, either. But he did go back to the PCA, and I did too, for a time at least. Anyway, I was just going to say that Jason’s points about stereotypes make sense, and the Delaware story is funny because I remember being OPC and visiting that congregation and being upset for their “innovative” style that reminded me of my Calvary Chapel past.

    But then, what makes the OPC “pristine”? She (for the most part, at least), abandoned 6 day creationism, the use of a picture of Christ for pedagogical purposes (Dr. Bahnsen got away with that exception at his ordination, at least), and the use of exclusive psalmody? How far reformata can the ecclesia reformanda, semper reformanda be in the 21st century (or at any point post 1648), in your opinions?

    In XC,
    J. Andrew

  105. November 20, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    [...] Lane Keister as pointed out that it is not only necessary to approve the truth but also to reject the contrary errors.  If you believe that views that are hostile to the system of doctrine in the Standards are [...]

  106. January 23, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    One comment after reading this thread: SERIOUSLY??!!


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