Thoughts on Siouxlands Presbytery vs. TE Lawrence

Posted by Bob Mattes

Let me start by stating clearly that I’m sure that the men who tried TE Lawrence in Siouxlands Presbytery are godly, Reformed men trying to do a good job. My comments should never be taken as critical of these men’s honor or theology, although I think that they widely missed the mark in the trial outcome. Surely a complaint is inevitable, and rightly so.

That said, I’ve read the public documents available on the Siouxlands case against TE Greg Lawrence, such as the Case Against TE Lawrence, TE Lawrence’s Plea, Defense Brief, Report of the Investigative Committee, and Report of the Committee to Instruct TE Lawrence. Many thanks to Steve Carr for making those available. While I cannot cover them all in any detail in this post, I found some interesting trends.

First of all,the judicial commission felt that TE Lawrence had clarified or corrected his views through the successive investigative committee interactions and the trial. However, I see no evidence anywhere that TE Lawrence had recanted any view nor repented of any error. As far as I can tell, he never renounced his paper on covenants, any sermon, or any statement that he made. Some of them have been really disturbing errors, such as (from the prosecution’s brief):

Q: So, does that happen [that is, the receiving of certain saving benefits] to everyone who’s baptized with water?

GL: At least in some measure, those benefits are granted to those who are baptized….

So TE Lawrence says that some measure of saving benefits are granted to baptized reprobates –  a rare moment of clarity. And this:

Q: So you would be happy saying that someone who eventually falls away can be united to Christ’s death and resurrection?

GL: Yes.

Wow! And this one:

The fundamental difference between the decretally elect and the non-decretally elect is that the non-decretally elect are not decretally elect.

Taking God’s word at face value, it is possible for a person chosen for temporary membership in the covenant to have their sins forgiven and yet to fall away from the grace of God (Galatians 5.4). We are to view and treat members of the covenant as justified. But this forgiveness and other blessings are not identical for the regenerate (unto life eternal) and those who are not regenerate and do not persevere in God’s covenant.

I’ve blogged on the error of temporary forgiveness in this post. So,how do these “other blessings” differ qualitatively from those given to the elect? I didn’t see the answer to those critical questions.

Looking at the defense document, I found that it mainly offered red herrings, misdirection, and obfuscation. For example, on the 5th and 6th pages, the defense tries to appeal to supposed minority or lesser views at the Westminster Assembly to support their case. News flash – law is decided by what the majority actually passes. We see this in our public laws passed by Congress as well as appellate and Supreme Court decisions. While the minority dissents or opinions may be interesting at times, they are NEVER binding. The Standards are part of the PCA constitution as written, period. To paraphrase former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld – you go to court with the Standards that you have, not the Standards that you wish you had. That should have been a major defense FAIL.

Typical for Federal Vision, the defense takes Scripture targeted for the elect and tries to apply them to the reprobate in the visible church. This is especially disturbing with TE Lawrence’s use of the term “new life” in relation to the reprobates in the visible church. In Scripture (e.g., Rom 6:4 and 7:6), this terminology is only used relative to the elect. FV always claims to be “more Scriptural”, but again we see the hypocrisy of FV. You can read about the fallacy of that argument in previous discussions on this site about the lens of the Confession here and here.

Another disturbing trend apparently missed by Siouxlands is that many if not most of TE Lawrence’s formal written and some verbal responses either didn’t directly address the question asked, or his answers included key qualification that he didn’t explain. I’m surprised that Siouxlands didn’t press until they received direct answers to their direct questions. This wasn’t a freshman seminary exercise, but a serious examination of an experienced teaching elder. I’m surprised that the judicial commission seemed to miss this entirely.

The fact that the Siouxlands instructional committee limited the discussion to terms as used in the Standards left a planet-sized hole open for TE Lawrence to duck through. FV’s specialty is redefining Confessional terms to fit their aberrant theology. With that burden lifted, even Wilkins could have passed the questioning with a straight face. It looks to me like the instructional committee’s sole result was to show TE Lawrence how to get through the trial, though I’m sure that was unintentional. I didn’t see anything recanted in there.

As the PCA’s Ad Interim Study Committee on FV, NPP, and AAT correctly stated, FV is a parallel soteriology. So it occurred to me that the mythical benefits offered to baptized reprobates in FV are parallel benefits – same names, less filling, like the beer commercial. I think that may be where TE Lawrence is going with his “social benefits of the Spirit.” It’s just another obfuscation using different words. But here’s what TE Lawrence had to say about benefits to both the elect and reprobates in the visible church, again misapplying the Scriptural term “new life”:

Baptism itself is an entrance into new life….This new life that is wrought through me, Jesus is saying, through My life, death, and resurrection will be poured out – this new life, which on a grand scale is the fulfillment in the midst of history of the promises of God is applied individually in baptism to you.  One must be born again by water and Spirit, born into the kingdom of God.

So apparently reprobates are born again into the kingdom of God? How did that get by the judicial commission? Again, these statements have never been retracted by TE Lawrence.

The instructional committee dealt with this gem from TE Lawrence’s sermon on Romans 6:

In baptism we are united to Christ and as such the benefits that He has wrought have been applied to us…. Paul says in baptism you have been united to Christ, the new Adam, in such a way that you identify with him in his death and you identify with him in his new life and resurrection, so that you, people of God, have new life. You have been united to Christ and His benefits, therefore, are for you. And this is wrought in baptism, Paul says. It is a matter of status that we walk in newness of life.

The instructional committee understood that TE Lawrence applied this to all who are baptized into the visible church. The committee found it problematic. Why did the judicial commission give it a pass?

It’s sad that another of these cases will drag a Presbytery through inevitable complaints, wasting time and resources that could go towards the Great Commission. Maybe the real goal of FV is to bankrupt and wear out orthodox, Reformed denominations. I believe that I warned about that back in 2007. My, how far we’ve come.

Posted by Bob Mattes

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47 Comments

  1. October 6, 2011 at 8:40 am

    [...] Sadly, I fear that we’ll be here again as well. Anyway, I posted some thoughts on the case over at Greenbaggins. I’ll probably have to say on the case in the near [...]

  2. Frank Aderholdt said,

    October 6, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Thank you very much, Bob. Memorable and colorful–just like your legendary good taste in neckties.

    Little by little, the FV Emperor is shedding his clothes. Sadly, the PCA still has many who are so blind that they cannot see (or is it will not?).

  3. October 6, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Hi Frank, and you know that I display that legendary good taste in neckties every day – with gratitude!

    The longer this FV error continues to get a pass in PCA presbyteries, the more perplexed I become. As we continue to see, the FVers can drag these trials out for years, sucking away precious resources from the work of the gospel. That’s what troubles me the most outside of FV’s gospel errors. Meanwhile, there’s no waiting at the CREC’s door where any number of errors are welcomed.

  4. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Praying for you men who are fighting the good fight. Never give up.

    We’ve seen Episcopalians compromise for decades, then leave as soon as new pensions –I mean new dioceses– were in place.

    We’ve watched at least one vociferous OPC RE bail thence when it seemed no one would listen to him.

    But is not the biblically noble thing to do to stay & fight until one sees the prayed-for reform or until one is excommunicated?

    We might fault Luther & others for staying in too long to reform a harlot church, but the PCA & OPC are far from that,* and their ministers have an orthodox, gospel-rich confession & tradition that are being hijacked & abused by false teachers.

    May God bless your struggles against heresy, apostasy, darkness!

    {* Elliott’s, Schwertley’s and others’ protestations to the contrary, notwithstanding.}

  5. Reed Here said,

    October 6, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Bob: the “Report of the Committee to Instruct TE Lawrence” does not seem to be working. Can you fix?

  6. David Gray said,

    October 6, 2011 at 9:58 am

    >But is not the biblically noble thing to do to stay & fight until one sees the prayed-for reform or until one is excommunicated?

    Are you talking about Leithart or someone else?

  7. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Speaking of Rumsfeld:

    There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know.~ The false teachers we easily recognize?

    There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know.~ Those false teachers Scripture promises (2 Tim 3:1-7; 4:3f; 1 Peter 2:1-3; Acts 20:29f), but whom have yet to be exposed?

    But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.~ Those false teachers whom too many don’t expect?

    {I’d add “unknown knowns” – per Rom. 8:18? But that’s another (glorious) topic.}

  8. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 10:09 am

    David,

    Is not the biblically noble thing to do to stay in the church & fight error & the bad guys until one either sees the prayed-for reform (repentance by, or discipline of, the baddies) or until one is himself excommunicated?

    That is, the reformer is fighting for repentance & reform. If he doesn’t give up, this has to eventuate in either the sought-for reform, or his own persecution and eventual excommunication, a la Luther, Calvin, et. al.

  9. David Gray said,

    October 6, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Hugh,

    So you’re saying Leithart should stay in the PCA till he’s excommunicated? That is a rather different tack than Bob Mattes has taken on the issue.

    Francis Schaeffer, speaking about his own experiences as a Presbyerian minister, said it could be very hard to determine when it was the right time to leave and a matter of much division with those who stayed.

    If we applied your first paragraph stricly the PCA wouldn’t exist.

  10. David Gray said,

    October 6, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Make that strictly.

  11. Tim Wilder said,

    October 6, 2011 at 10:31 am

    All that is needed to stop these shenanigans is for two presbyteries to petition the Standing Judicial Commission to take original jurisdiction. But as far as I know there isn’t even one single presbytery that cares enough about the peace and purity of the church to do this, whether it be the case of Siouxlands, Pacific Northwest or Missouri.

    So if the PCA doesn’t care, why stay there? Why not just walk away from the FVs, the Kellerites the broad evangelical squishes, the ecuminism with Rome people, the flawed colleges and seminaries and put your energy into constructive local church work?

  12. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Hi David,

    By reformers and fighters, I mean the white hats, the good guys, not the FVaries.

    So I am saying (poorly, apparently) that men like Mattes, Keister, White, Pipa, Duncan, and others who oppose the FV heresy should stay in the PCA till either (1) the FVista repent, (2) the FVista are excommunicated, or (3) until Mattes & Co. are kicked out.

  13. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Tim @11 ~ So if the PCA doesn’t care, why stay there?
    B/c those officers who’ve vowed to uphold their standards and to shepherd the flock don’t have escape clauses in these ‘contracts.’

    Why not just walk away from the FVs, the Kellerites the broad evangelical squishes, the ecuminism with Rome people, the flawed colleges and seminaries and put your energy into constructive local church work?
    B/c Paul doesn’t give the Ephesian elders that counsel in Acts 20:29f, neither can we. Ordained officers have a vested interest the laity do not have.

  14. David Gray said,

    October 6, 2011 at 10:52 am

    >So I am saying (poorly, apparently) that men like Mattes, Keister, White, Pipa, Duncan, and others who oppose the FV heresy should stay in the PCA till either (1) the FVista repent, (2) the FVista are excommunicated, or (3) until Mattes & Co. are kicked out.

    And I was noting, amongst other things, that if that approach were always followed the PCA would not exist and nobody would come out from churches like the ELCA and PCUSA.

  15. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Bob lays it down:I’m sure that the men who tried TE Lawrence in Siouxlands Presbytery are godly, Reformed men trying to do a good job. My comments should never be taken as critical of these men’s honor or theology, although I think that they widely missed the mark in the trial outcome. B–U–T…

    Surely a complaint is inevitable, and rightly so.

    I see no evidence anywhere that TE Lawrence had recanted any view nor repented of any error. As far as I can tell, he never renounced his paper on covenants, any sermon, or any statement that he made.

    Typical for Federal Vision, the defense takes Scripture targeted for the elect and tries to apply them to the reprobate in the visible church.

    Another disturbing trend apparently missed by Siouxlands is that many if not most of TE Lawrence’s formal written and some verbal responses either didn’t directly address the question asked, or his answers included key qualification that he didn’t explain. I’m surprised that Siouxlands didn’t press until they received direct answers to their direct questions. This wasn’t a freshman seminary exercise, but a serious examination of an experienced teaching elder. I’m surprised that the judicial commission seemed to miss this entirely.

    The fact that the Siouxlands instructional committee limited the discussion to terms as used in the Standards left a planet-sized hole open for TE Lawrence to duck through. FV’s specialty is redefining Confessional terms to fit their aberrant theology.

    As the PCA’s Ad Interim Study Committee on FV, NPP, and AAT correctly stated, FV is a parallel soteriology.

    The instructional committee understood that TE Lawrence applied this to all who are baptized into the visible church. The committee found it problematic. Why did the judicial commission give it a pass?

    IN SHORT, THEY MESSED UP BIG-TIME.

  16. Tim Wilder said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:06 am

    @Hugh McCann 13

    “Tim @11 ~ So if the PCA doesn’t care, why stay there?
    B/c those officers who’ve vowed to uphold their standards and to shepherd the flock don’t have escape clauses in these ‘contracts.’”

    The PCA was designed from the beginning as an escape clause denomination where it is easy to just withdraw, because it was recognized that when things go bad that is what you have to do.

  17. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Tim: Ha ha! Great line.

    But the officers who take seriously their ordination vows (surely there are some – I believe I named five, above) will not opt out, even it were an option.

  18. Tim Wilder said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:16 am

    One of the elders at Good Shepherd told me years ago that even though the PCA was not particularly Reformed, the session thought that the advantages of being in the PCA outweighed the disadvantages, but they liked the fact that it was easy to get out if they found it expedient.

  19. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:28 am

    David @14 ~

    if that approach were always followed the PCA would not exist and nobody would come out from churches like the ELCA and PCUSA.

    You’re not serious, are you? That’s why they stay in and fight: To GET THROWN OUT if reform is not forthcoming (as I’ve said now 2-3 times).

    The PCA & OPC could just as easily been formed if their founders had been excommunicated by the apostates in the PCUSA. And they would have shown themselves faithful to the flocks committed to their charge.* (I am unfamiliar with Lutheran goings-on.)

    Noise, and less hand-sitting, there needs to be more noise.

    Also could be mentioned the former [P]ECUSA –now, The Episcopal Church (TEC)– where many sat on hands & capitulated for decades instead of making noise.

    * I don’t advocate staying in just to stay in and ‘be a good witness,’ as did Vos, as did Barnhouse, as did Nederhood, as did Stott & Packer. I am advocating vociferously fighting against false teachers and fighting for reform & discipline.

  20. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Tim @18, You’re talking about an entire church, or at least a session?

    I am saying that an ordained officer has sworn before God to protect the people under his care.

  21. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:30 am

    If a church officer deems it necessary for the health & safety of his flock to withdraw the entire congregation from the national body, then in that case, he must.

  22. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I should have said in #21 ~ If a session (a church’s officers) deems it necessary for the health & safety of its (their) flock to withdraw the entire congregation from the national body, then in that case, it (they) must.

    But an officer in the line of duty is not to leave the flock unprotected and at the mercy of false teachers. I am sure that those godly men who left apostatizing bodies made provision for their congregations committed to their charge.

  23. Tim Wilder said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:35 am

    @19 Hugh McCann

    “You’re not serious, are you? That’s why they stay in and fight: To GET THROWN OUT if reform is not forthcoming (as I’ve said now 2-3 times).”

    You don’t get thrown out for being orthodox. You get thrown out for being contumacious, violating the 9th commandment, or something like that. You get deposed from office and company boys get appointed to take your place in your congegration.

    Why put your congregation though all that when you can just vote yourselves out and in a year it is over with?

  24. Frank Aderholdt said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Hugh @12,

    If that times comes, I wanna be in the “kicked out” group too, white hat spotlessly bright, head bloody but unbowed.

  25. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:46 am

    God bless you, Frank, and give you his strength and godly tenacity!

  26. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

    you can just vote yourselves out and in a year it is over with

    True enough; and in some cases, prolly the best course to take. Thanks, Tim.

  27. greenbaggins said,

    October 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Good stuff, Bob. Since very few folks in that Presbytery seem to value my opinion any more (they always seem to say “yeah, BUT”), it is very good that an outside opinion is this strong. Thank you very much.

  28. Tim Wilder said,

    October 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    @Frank Aderholdt said,24

    The first thing they do is throw your hat in the mud.

  29. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Hang in there, Lane! I Cor. 15:58.

  30. October 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Lane,

    I can’t imagine what orthodox officers like you, Wes, Art, Brian, Kevin, and the other go through up there. God bless you all for standing strong for the gospel in the face of apparent indifference. I’m happy to do whatever I can to support you all and others around the country suffering with FV issues.

  31. Dean B said,

    October 6, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Pastor Keister

    “Since very few folks in that Presbytery seem to value my opinion any more (they always seem to say “yeah, BUT”), it is very good that an outside opinion is this strong.”

    Having gone through an experience quite different but in some respect the same, I can not tell you how good it felt to have other godly men who encouraged me in the midst of ecclesiastic defeat. Satan can have a field day with despair and doubt.

    Be straightened in your inner man. God holds you responsible for your duty not the outcome of the situation.

    God Bless all of you men for your current sufferings, but count it all joy knowing this trial was ordained by God and we all must suffer as Christ did for you and I.

  32. David Gray said,

    October 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    >The PCA & OPC could just as easily been formed if their founders had been excommunicated by the apostates in the PCUSA.

    Well Machen was defrocked by what has grown into the PCUSA before founding the OPC. Is that close enough?

  33. Tim Wilder said,

    October 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    @19 Hugh McCann

    “The PCA & OPC could just as easily been formed if their founders had been excommunicated by the apostates in the PCUSA. And they would have shown themselves faithful to the flocks committed to their charge.* (I am unfamiliar with Lutheran goings-on.)”

    The PCA was formed because the churches has a set number of years during which they could get out and still keep their property. Theological and ecclesiastical fidelity is only easy when it is denominated in dollars. Without that catalyst, would there be a PCA?

  34. David Gilleran said,

    October 6, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Dear Mr. Wilder-you are so wrong about the escape clause. The escape clause came into being in 1983, ten years after the PCA formed. You can go to church to church in the South and find records of either paying a quit claim deed to a PCUS presbytery to get their property or being sued by a PCUS presbytery after they voted to leave to join the PCA.

    The United Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbyterian Church U.S. are reunited with a new Book of Order, which says all local church property “is held in trust “for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (USA).”The trust clause included an eight-year escape clause, which expired in 1991, that allowed Southern Presbyterian congregations to withdraw with their property and become part of another Reformed denomination.

  35. Hugh McCann said,

    October 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    David @32 ~ That’s the idea. Thanks for the history lesson. I was unaware that Machen had been stripped of his ordination, but that’s what we’d expect when a faithful minister stands against the heretics in a failing denom.

  36. Bill Williams said,

    October 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    While we’re thinking about it, would you all mind praying for the men in the PacNW… my understanding is they vote tomorrow morning. And pray for their flocks as well.

  37. October 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Bill,

    Absolutely. Thanks for lifting them up.

  38. Cris Dickason said,

    October 7, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Tim @ 23 :
    You don’t get thrown out for being orthodox. You get thrown out for being contumacious, violating the 9th commandment, or something like that. You get deposed from office and company boys get appointed to take your place in your congegration.

    Try telling that to Machen or Klas Schilder. And the Schilder connection leads to the observation from the Belgic Confession, article 29 “The Marks of the True and False Church:”

    The false church assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God. It does not want to submit itself to the yoke of Christ. It does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in His Word, but adds to them and subtracts from them as it pleases. It bases itself more on men than on Jesus Christ. It persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke the false church for its sins, greed, and idolatries.

    -=Cris=-

  39. Tim Wilder said,

    October 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    @Cris Dickason, 38

    The Klaas Schilder episode was an extremely painful and scarring experience for the Liberated church. I’m told that many people who went though it still find it too painful to talk about. Schilder, wasn’t leading any campaigns, by the way. He was in hiding because the Nazi’s were hunting him, and the more colaborationist Kyperians were free to run the synod and depose him in his absence. If I recall correctly it was Berkower who presided over the synod that deposed Schilder, the same Berkower who was later Norman Shephard’s graduate studies adviser and responsible for spreading Barthianism in the Reformed churches.

    But I think this makes my point: why put the congregations through this? Even if you could get rid of the FV (and where is there even one PCA presbytery is that is try to do this by petitioning for the SJC to take juristiction in the matter), you would still have Keller, you would still have the non-FV robes and smell people who want to cozy up to Rome, you will still of the quasi-Arminian broad evangelicals, you would still have the emergents, the people who worship institutional bigness above all else, etc.

    Why not just step outside the PCA and work for sound goals with like-minded people, and let the FV work out what they want to do with the theistic evolutionists and the big steeple boys, and pay the bills that these big institutions run up?

  40. Hugh McCann said,

    October 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Tim @39 …why put the congregations through this? …Why not just step outside the PCA and work for sound goals with like-minded people…?

    Again, b/c the ordained have vowed to protect and serve the church; their church; in this case, the PCA.

    TEs are not members of local churches, but of their presbyteries, and hence, called in a sense to do ‘double duty’ ~ not only to the congregations committed to their charge, but to their brother presbyters as well.

    The peace & purity of presbytery is as much their duty as is the care & feeding of the local flock over which they watch.

    Wolves threaten presbytery no less than they do the congregation.

  41. Towne said,

    October 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Mr. Wilder:

    With due respect, I think the best answer is that good men stay because there are eternal souls at stake.

  42. Tim Wilder said,

    October 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Hugh McCann, p. 40

    Well in the first place a denomination is not a church. It is a pragmatic association of churches for some common end. Further those who believe in the old jure divino ideas of presbyterian government can’t accept denominations either, because they believe in a single established church and the idea of denominations contradicts old-time Reformed church polity. So even if the hierarchy above the local church constituted a church, it would not be a denomination and would not be the PCA. Nor is the PCA the world-wide visible church, and certainly not the invisible church.

    Further, the PCA is set up with the understanding that it is legitimate for churches to leave and a mechanism for doing so is provided.

    Now if anyone was taking a oath to be faithful to a denomination as the Church, they would be very wrong to do so in the PCA whose polity denies the premise that it is the Church by incorporating provisions for voting yourself out.

    Of course, as you point out, the PCA inconsistently holds over the old rubbish about TE being different from REs and the one being presbytery members and the other congregation members. There are historical reasons for this. The reformers wanted to preserve the claim that they were still the catholic church, and ever since the fight with the gnostics in ancient times, catholicity had been indentified as the council of bishops. The presbytery, with the TEs being the members there, was supposed to preserve that idea of catholicity. The TEs representing the congregations satisfied the late medieval, conciliar ideal of the church with representative government working from the bottom up, and forming an elected ruling heirarchy representing all interests. Neither idea is Biblical. It is just historical baggage.

  43. Cris Dickason said,

    October 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Tim:

    I don;t need to step out o’ the PCA because I’m not in.. I’m OPC. (that’s sounds snarkier than I mean it to be). Further, I was OPC (for over 12 years), then Canadian Reformed for 18 years, and now OPC again (gosh, sonny, those years are starting to add up).

    But I’ll say something similar to others here, most of whom are ruling or teaching elders (or that’s the focus of discussion anyway), it’s not simply a matter of quitting one company and finding work in another. The shepherd does not abandon his flock to the wolves! It’s more like a clan leader deciding that some other pastures or hunting grounds are better, but he needs to bring the clan to agree to decision and move the whole clan with him.

    The pastoral charge that ruling elders and teaching elders have to their congregations must be kept in mind.* So, even if the course of action is to withdraw WITH your congregation from a given fellowship, it is not likely to be a quick and easy thing. *That pastoral charge involves theological leadership and doctrinal protection as well!

    The very fact that this we now have on GB three concurrently active threads on failures of multiple presbyteries to enforce clear theological directions/directives and uphold the plain sense of side-line Presbyterian doctrine and subscription vows is a puzzle.

    It would appear that ruling elders are either silent through lack of understanding, through intellectual or doctrinal intimidation, or just plain inexperience. I can’t imagine why the Siouxlands votes was so one-sided.

    I wonder, why do these Presbytery meetings happen on weekdays? (My Presbytery regularly meets on Saturdays) Don’t weekday Presbytery meetings place a much greater burden on ruling elders trying to be present as commissioners? Are we seeing an unintended effect of term-office for elders? Lack of continuity amongst ruling elders, lack of experience in the church courts due to RE turnover rates?

    -=Cris=-

  44. Hugh McCann said,

    October 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Tim @41 – OK, so ‘the PCA inconsistently holds over the old rubbish about TE being different from REs and the one being presbytery members and the other congregation members…’

    And, hyper-catholicity/ anti-gnosticism + post-medieval/ hierarchical hangovers notwitstanding, that’s what TEs have sworn to.

    Even though we may believe that ‘neither idea is Biblical. It is just historical baggage,’ such is the way it is.

  45. Tim Wilder said,

    October 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    @Cris Dickason 42

    “The shepherd does not abandon his flock to the wolves!”

    The congregation can vote to leave the PCA and get out in a year. Whether it is easy or hard depends on whether the session has been making sure that the congregation knows what is going on in the PCA, or whether they have been keeping it as quiet is possible with the idea that it is not congregation’s business.

    Presbytery business, on the other had had certain built in problems. I live on the east side of Siouxlands. It is a hard full day’s drive to get out to Spearfish where Wes White is. Because of the travel difficulty, there is a tendency to meet less frequently and that holds up business and makes it hard to deal with cases that can then be made to drag on for years if enough people want it to.

    The ruling elders listen to their pastors generally. Pacific Northwest has Rayburn who has preached sermons against believing or repeating the charges found on the internet about what is wrong with the FV. So it is clear what attitude the pastors want others to take to information and authority.

    At Good Shepherd the elders were nuclear engineers and rocket scientists (and I don’t mean that figuratively) and at least some were big readers of Calvin and puritan writers, so I don’t think it is a question of intimidation or intellectual inability. Yet the elders defer to the pastor and gradually adopt and then champion his ideas.

    There are people in the churches who don’t go along on the acceptance of the FV, and they seem to be people who have been reading older Reformed doctrinal writings and grasped the thelogy as a system. The converse is not true. Not everyone who reads that material resists the FV.

    From my conversation with just a few people in these churches who embraced Shepherd, the FV etc. it was often the case that they had some formation in Presbyterian churches, but never had a paradigm in which everything was fitted together. For them the new teaching was the first time that everything clicked together in a unified picture that made sense to them.

  46. October 7, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Really, it made sense to them? Orthodox Reformed theology is the only unified picture that made sense to me as a young believer. I just can’t see how FV fits that description unless you ignore major chunks of Scripture and don’t think things through to their logical conclusion.

  47. Tim Wilder said,

    October 8, 2011 at 9:48 am

    @reformedmusings 46

    “I just can’t see how FV fits that description unless you ignore major chunks of Scripture and don’t think things through to their logical conclusion.”

    I never heard a sermon at Good Shepherd where Shepherd’s or Wright’s ideas were taken to their logical conclusion.

    For example; “Look to your baptism for assurance”. You were always supposed to look to something outside and object, the promises of the Bible, your baptism, you membership in the church. You were never supposed to examine yourself.

    So is that true for everyone in every church who is baptized? Any sect at all? If not, wouldn’t they have to evaluate the church to determine whether it is a true church? It is like David Meyers who claims he safely rests on external authority and not private judgment, although he actually had to chose between the competing claims of various churches with old traditions and pick one based on his private judgement.

    These questions were never asked or answered in the sermons. Eventually these questions led me to write this:

    http://www.contra-mundum.org/vision/ecclesiology.pdf


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