Leithart Trial: Barker on Permissible Views of Baptism

Here is a section of the testimony by William S. Barker II, former president of Covenant Theological Seminary, a witness in defense of TE Peter Leithart in his trial in Pacific Northwest Presbytery.

Stellman: Do you think it’s okay to take what our standards call the saving blessings of the covenant of grace such as being in dwell by the Holy Spirit, adopted and constituted inwardly in the most profound sense as God’s son, and being married to Jesus. Is it okay to take those blessings that our standards attribute to the elect and apply them simply by virtue of baptism to every single infant who’s been baptized?
Barker: I would probably not say it that way myself but if I understood it in context I – – as I take it – – Jeff Meyers would have said something like that. I’ve found that to be allowable within the system of doctrine.”

This explains why the defense wanted him as a witness.

Here is the fuller context for reference:

CROSS-EXAMINATION
PROSECUTION (STELLMAN): Dr. Barker, first let me thank you for coming and being here and testifying before this court. I’ve got a few questions – -
WITNESS: I’ve not met you before, could you tell me your name?
Q: My name is Jason Stellman.
A: Glad to meet to you.
Q: Nice to meet you too. Got a couple questions for you. You began by talking about the fact that we are not bound to what some call strict subscription but rather need to subscribe in a good faith kind of way. How many system, systems of doctrine are there?
A: You mean in – – in Christianity as a whole?
Q: No. The way we use the term. How many systems of doctrine are there?
A: We subscribe to one system of doctrine taught in the Scriptures.
Q: Okay. Good. I was hoping that’s what you would say. The conf- – We can – – we receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this church as containing the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture. Tell me if this is the system of doctrine taught in holy Scripture? Infant baptism, in an ex opere operato fashion unites every single person who receives it to Jesus Christ by which we are married to Christ and adopted by virtue of baptism into God’s family. All of which benefits can be lost. Furthermore, we are placed after baptism in a covenantal situation with God that is not fundamentally dissimilar to that which Adam enjoyed before his fall. We are through baptism justified and which is the same thing definitively sanctified. Faith comes in later on not as the sole instrument whereby we receive the saving blessings of the covenant of grace but faith comes in after the fact, after we’ve received them all by baptism as a response. And if we persevere in faith, then we will stand before God on the last day and receive final justification according to works. Is this the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture?
A: If I understand correctly, you’re quoting from a Federal Vision advocate and I would assume that’s Dr. Leithart.
Q: I’m taking statements of Dr. Leithart’s and putting them into one semi-concise statement.
A: Right. I think – -
DEFENSE: Mr. Moderator?
MODERATOR: Excuse me, Mr. Witness. We have objection here.
DEFENSE: The defense simply wants to reiterate that reasonably our witnesses were primarily prepared to address the quotes in the indictment. So, the defense does not think it’s reasonable for the court to expect the same level of preparation from our witnesses to new quotes.
MODERATOR: Okay, well – – so noted. I’m going to allow the question. You – – If you want to on redirect do (inaudible) —-
DEFENSE: I just wanted that noted.
MODERATOR: Alright. Go ahead.
PROSECUTION: Alright and – – and just for the record, these questions I’m asking you Dr. Barker are things I wrote down while you were talking. And so, I only brought up the issue of system of doctrine because that was the first question that was asked of you. And so the door has been opened and I’m just – -
MODERATOR: Yeah, I think you – – you are permitted to ask the question.
PROSECUTION: Alright and so – – and so, does that describe the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture?
DEFENSE: Are these paraphrases or are these actual quotes and if so what’s the cite?
MODERATOR: I – – I’m going to let him ask the question. If you – – if you – -
(okay)
MODERATOR: – – if you want to challenge the accuracy of any of those statements as not being representative of the respondent or the respondent’s views, you certainly may in redirect.
WITNESS: As I understand, the general teaching of the Federal Vision school of thought, a statement like that is made to describe somebody as a covenant child who becomes connected to the visible church as a result of that having happened and has some type of relationship then with God, with Christ, with the visible church but it isn’t clear whether that person is among the elect. And as long as we understand it that way, I can see where this could be within our system of doctrine.
Q: Do you think it’s okay to take what our standards call the saving blessings of the covenant of grace such as being in dwell by the Holy Spirit, adopted and constituted inwardly in the most profound sense as God’s son, and being married to Jesus. Is it okay to take those blessings that our standards attribute to the elect and apply them simply by virtue of baptism to every single infant who’s been baptized?
A: I would probably not say it that way myself but if I understood it in context I – – as I take it – – Jeff Meyers would have said something like that. I’ve found that to be allowable within the system of doctrine. It’s a particular understanding of the – – the benefits of being in a covenant relationship, being part of the visible church, which was my own experience as a baptized infant. Just what does that mean? What does that entail? We don’t know whether any of those individuals are really among the elect and whether it will prove out over the course of their life.
Q: But isn’t it the case that there’s a qualitative difference between those who are elect and those who are not with respect to the blessings they receive and their relationship to God and not just a difference of duration?
A: Well, I would, I would think so. The – – It’s very hard to know outwardly what the difference is.

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268 Comments

  1. October 26, 2011 at 9:10 am

    So, it’s OK to confuse the outward with the inward, the visible church with the invisible church, the sign with the thing signified and still be within our system of doctrine? It’s OK to remove the sacramental union of Spirit-given faith from the picture and make baptism work for an infant effectively at the moment of baptism and still be within our system of doctrine?

    WSC Q. 91. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?

    A. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.

    WLC Q. 72: What is justifying faith?

    Answer: Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receives and rests upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

    WLC Q. 73: How does faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

    Answer: Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receives and applies Christ and his righteousness.

  2. Stephen Welch said,

    October 26, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Is William Barker II a brother of Frank Barker from Briarwood? This man teaches at Westminster/Philadelphia and defended Peter Leithart’s views? So, if I understand Mr. Barker’s testimony the good faith view of subscription allows for Mr. Leithart’s views within the PCA. Is this correct?

  3. Stephen Welch said,

    October 26, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Thanks, Jason for actually referring to that old stale and ancient document called the Westminster Standards. If teaching and ruling elders take vows to uphold these standards how can you get around the language that says, “The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.” I do not find anything in our standards that even alludes to the idea that every person that receives baptism is saved. The key word is “effectual” and the saving benefits communicated in baptism are only applied to the elect.

  4. Wes White said,

    October 26, 2011 at 10:30 am

    The fact that the visible church is called the house and family of God does not mean that the reprobate are children of God. There are different types of vessels within the house (2 Tim. 2:20). The rights and privileges of that house belong only to the elect, even though some outwardly gather with it. The Confession describes adoption (becoming a child of God) as belonging only to the elect (WCF 3.6). Therefore, the reprobate cannot be children of God at all, let alone children of God in the deepest sense.

    The same is true of the visible church being the kingdom of God: “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness . . .” (Mt. 13:41).

    In other words, the kingdom, family, and household of God belong to the elect, but in that kingdom there are those things “that offend” and “those who practice lawlessness” that do not properly belong to it.

    Listen to what John Owen says about the house and family of God:

    The nature of that house, it is made up of such persons, as it is impossible that any but adopted children should have right unto a place in it; it is composed of living stones, 1 Pet. ii. 5. A chosen generation, a royal people, an holy nation, a peculiar people, ver. 9. saints and faithful in Christ Jesus, Eph. i. 1. saints, and faithful brethren, Col. i. 2. a people that are all righteous, Isa. lx. 61. and the whole fabric of it glorious, Isa. liv. 11, 12, 13, 14. The way of the house is a way of holiness which the unclean shall not pass through, chap. xxxv. 8. yea expressly they are the sons, and daughters of the Lord God almighty, and they only. 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18. all others are excluded, Rev. xxi. 27. It is true that oftentimes at unawares other persons creep into the great house of God; and so there becomes in it not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, etc., 2 Tim. ii. 20. But they only creep in as Jude speaks, ver. 4. they have no right nor title to it.

    This is both the proper Scriptural understanding and the right interpretation of the Confession.

  5. Wes White said,

    October 26, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Jack # 6, that’s playing a shell game. The question isn’t whether baptism suffices to get to heaven but whether or not it brings saving blessings to the baptized member that are then lost.

    Please show me one person who has ever claimed that Leithart teaches that one automatically goes to heaven simply because he is baptized.

  6. michael said,

    October 26, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Jack,

    would this be incorrect? Would I be incorrect to believe that Dr. Leithart is placing on me a work of Righteousness to do jointly with Christ to secure my place among the Saints, those sanctified by the Holy Spirit?

  7. October 26, 2011 at 11:18 am

    [...] You can read the full context here. [...]

  8. David Gadbois said,

    October 26, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Jack, it is difficult to know what those quotes you supplied from Horton and Leithart are supposed to prove. Perhaps you can add something to the discussion rather than just cutting and pasting lengthy quotes.

    The Rayburn quote in your third comment is simply an out-of-touch straw-man.

  9. October 26, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Just a note to point out what happens when your “expert witness,” unlike Lane, has only read the handful of Leithart quotes in the indictment rather than every book he has ever written.

    But then, he does have a PhD behind his name, so….

  10. October 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Horton, as well as Reformed theology, insists that there is a qualitative difference between what the elect and reprobate receive. Leithart goes out of his way to deny that in his writings, insisting rather that, like two marriages, one of which ends in divorce, the reprobate truly received saving blessings but then lost them.

    Big difference.

  11. Wes White said,

    October 26, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Jack, you still didn’t answer my question. Where has anyone accused Leithart of saying that people go to heaven just because they baptized? You switched the question by responding in that way. That’s a shell game.

    The question you asked is answered in the text cited. They are not saving benefits. Hebrews 6 contrasts the condition of apostates with those who are true believers saying, “we are confident of better things concerning you, things that accompany salvation . . .”

  12. Jenkins said,

    October 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    It is sad that the presbyteries are not standing behind the PCA GA’s declarations of 2007. The world is watching this and people inside and outside of the reformed community are very concerned and confused by the process they see.

  13. Jack Bradley said,

    October 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you for answering MY question, Wes: “The question you asked is answered in the text cited. They are not saving benefits.”

    John Calvin, call your office.

    CALVIN’S CATECHISM (1545)

    339. M. On what conditions should we baptise little children?
    C. As a sign and testimony that they are heirs of God’s blessing promised to the seed of the faithful, that when they come of age they are to acknowledge the truth of their Baptism, in order to derive benefit from
    it.

    Instruction in Christian Doctrine for Young Children, John Calvin

    http://www.joelgarver.com/writ/hist/calvin.htm

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

    . . . Teacher: How did you come into this communion of the church?
    Child: Through baptism.
    Teacher: What is this baptism?
    Child: It is the washing of regeneration and cleansing from sin.
    Teacher: With what words is baptism administered?
    Child: These: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
    Teacher: What is the meaning of these words?
    Child: It is this: I wash you so that you would be made sons of God by the command and will of God the
    Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
    Teacher: What fruit do you receive from this?
    Child: Very great fruit, because it is no small thing if I obtain remission of my sins, if I acquire from Christ my savior a new and everlasting life, if I abstain from every vice, and also if I give myself more and more unto a new and heavenly life.

    You’re really going to have to fault Calvin for the same offense, Wes. Of course, Calvin made the necessary qualifications elsewhere–as has Leithart.

  14. Jack Bradley said,

    October 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Wes, by your logic I think you would have to agree with the OPC pastor, and friend, I recently heard say (on audiosermon.com): “If Romans 6 refers to water baptism, we had better all become Roman Catholics.”

  15. todd said,

    October 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Jack,

    This regular quoting of Calvin’s Catechism to support FV is ignorant at best, dishonest at worst. Calvin explains what he means by his baptism language that (unlike FV doublespeak) can be understood clearly by all. – Calvin taught that baptism is a confirming ordinance.

    From the Institutes

    13. Baptism as token of confession

    Baptism serves as our confession before men, in as much as it is a mark by which we openly declare that we wish to be ranked among the people of God, by which we testify that we concur with all Christians in the worship of one God, and in one religion; by which, in short, we publicly assert our faith…

    14. Sign and thing

    Now that the end to which the Lord had regard in the institution of baptism has been explained, it is easy to judge in what way we ought to use and receive it. For inasmuch as it is appointed to elevate, nourish, and confirm our faith, we are to receive it as from the hand of its author, being firmly persuaded that it is himself who speaks to us by means of the sign; that it is himself who washes and purifies us, and effaces the remembrance of our faults; that it is himself who makes us the partakers of his death, destroys the kingdom of Satan, subdues the power of concupiscence, nay, makes us one with himself, that being clothed with him we may be accounted the children of God. These things I say, we ought to feel as truly and certainly in our mind as we see our body washed, immersed, and surrounded with water. For this analogy or similitude furnishes the surest rule in the sacraments, viz., that in corporeal things we are to see spiritual, just as if they were actually exhibited to our eye, since the Lord has been pleased to represent them by such figures; not that such graces are included and bound in the sacrament, so as to be conferred by its efficacy, but only that by this badge the Lord declares to us that he is pleased to bestow all these things upon us.

  16. Wes White said,

    October 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Jack, you still haven’t answered my question. Who has accused Leithart of saying that just because you are baptized you go to heaven? You brought that up, and I think it’s a real distraction from the main issue. So, I would ask you to please demonstrate that someone is making that accusation. The question the Stellman asked Barker was about whether someone gets saving blessings by baptism and then loses them. That’s the real issue.

    As for Leithart making the necessary qualifications, Leithart explicitly rejects the necessary qualifications as I’ve demonstrated in my review of his book here. But why take my word for it? I would encourage everyone here to read his book The Baptized Body. Please take Peter Leithart in context. This book explains very clearly his position. It’s available for free here.

  17. Reed Here said,

    October 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Jack: I’ve warned you multiple times now. I’ve been very explicit. You seem to either have not understood (in which case you should have asked for clarification) or ignored me.

    NO extended quotes without: 1) a reference that can be checked out by others (e.g., an embedded link to the document), and 2) your interaction with the quote, i.e., why you are posting it, the point you are trying to make with your quote.

    As well, it is preferred that you limit your quote as much as possible. I.e., only quote the sections relevant to your argument.

    I’ve pended ALL your recent comments with quotes because they fail these two requirements (at least one, sometimes both). If you care to correct those comments as per the instructions above, I will go through the work of making sure your comments appear in the discussion in the original order you placed them.

    No more warnings, explanations, or help here Jack. I’m very busy with other kingdom responsibilities. I cannot help you more than this brother.

  18. tominaz said,

    October 26, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Dr. Will Barker is not related to Frank Barker. Will is retired from WTS-Pa since 2000. He is the former editor of the Presbyterian Journal, former President of Covenant Seminary and former Moderator of the GA.

  19. Jack Bradley said,

    October 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    “This regular quoting of Calvin’s Catechism to support FV is ignorant at best, dishonest at worst.”

    Quite a charge, Todd. Sorry to see you degenerate the discussion.
    BTW, it was my first quote of the Catechisms.

    Thanks for the Calvin excerpts. As I said, he carefully qualified it elsewhere, as does Leithart. I’m glad Wes provided the link to Leithart’s book, The Baptized Body, where others–such as the overwhelming majority of Leithart’s presbytery–can be assured of his biblical balance.

  20. Jack Bradley said,

    October 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Who has accused Leithart of saying that just because you are baptized you go to heaven? You brought that up, and I think it’s a real distraction from the main issue.

    I don’t recall bringing this up, Wes. Could you refresh me?

  21. Jack Bradley said,

    October 26, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Todd, I am glad to see that you, apparently, disagree with Wes. This would indicate to me that you do indeed think there is something to fall away FROM:

    Finally I want to answer the question, “What is the meaning of baptism for those who fall away from the faith and prove themselves unbelievers?” This applies both to adult converts or covenant children who grow up and apostatize. Did that baptism mean anything? The answer is yes. Turn to Hebrews chapter 10. The Bible teaches that baptism is a sealing of a covenant relationship God has established. Consider Hebrews 10, verse 29. “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

    If you do not have a doctrine of the visible church you will get in much trouble with this verse. The person in this text who falls into God’s judgment has been baptized, he has been sanctified in a covenant relationship with God. But he abandoned the faith and spat upon his glorious privileges. This is not teaching that you can lose your salvation. But if you understand that baptism seals us as God’s possession, this warning becomes very real to all of us in the church, adults and children. If we turn from Christ, our baptism will only testify against us on Judgment Day, because he who has been given much, from him much is required.

    http://www.opcfw.com/sermons/baptism_2.html

  22. Jack Bradley said,

    October 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    “he has been sanctified in a covenant relationship with God. But he abandoned the faith. . .”

    Careful, Todd.

  23. Jack Bradley said,

    October 26, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Reed, please note that I did include the link, just as I did with the Catechism quote. I will continue to try to keep these excerpts as brief as possible.

  24. todd said,

    October 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Jack,

    We’ve been over this so many times, when you try to use my words against me, it is difficult not to attribute purposeful rejection of the truth to you. FV says the baptized receive more than outward privileges of the covenant; they receive saving benefits (albeit only temporary for the non-elect). Unbelievers outside the church even possess a relationship with God in the sense that God is their Creator and he loves his enemies. The non-elect covenant member, like Cain, has even more privileges, having been set apart to believe the gospel via his parents and circumcision. But neither of these first two categories possess any saving benefits without saving faith. It is really not that complicated, unless you desire to make it complicated to obscure the truth.

  25. todd said,

    October 26, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    circumcision of course came later than Cain- but I mention Cain as representing later unsaved Israelites marked with the covenant sign and set apart to believe the gospel.

  26. David Gadbois said,

    October 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I continue to be perplexed as to why Calvin’s Catechism keeps popping up in the FV-related conversations. How is it relevant? I have yet to see a linear argument actually made from this text. People just quote it as if it obviously exonerates FV theology.

    Read the Catechism and then read Leithart, if you can’t see that Leithart goes far, far beyond anything there then I can only attribute radical self-deception as the explanation at that point.

  27. Jack Bradley said,

    October 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Todd, I think your original sermon excerpt is much less complicated than your explanation of it.

    For further proof of Leithart’s careful qualifications, I would invite you to read this document from the trial. He quotes several reformed authorities on the reality of apostasy FROM something:

    http://tinyurl.com/4x92kl7

    John 10:28-29; Romans 8:28-39; Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 7:25

    The Prosecution cites these texts, apparently on the assumption that if I affirm the possibility of apostasy, I must deny assurance texts. But that is no more true of my views than of the writer to the Hebrews, who
    both assures and warns in the same letter. The following citations are representative Reformed efforts to harmonize the apostasy and assurance passages of the New Testament.

  28. Jack Bradley said,

    October 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    “I can only attribute radical self-deception as the explanation at that point.”

    David, quick and dirty ad homs don’t qualify as intelligent discussion.

  29. David Gadbois said,

    October 26, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Jack said David, quick and dirty ad homs don’t qualify as intelligent discussion.

    Not all ad hominem argumentation is a logical fallacy, nor does my statement even formally qualify as an ad hominem argument.

    If by “ad hom” you simply mean I am challenging the motives of those who adopt certain tactics in the defense of FV theology, you are right, but it is hardly obvious that that is biblically immoral or even impolite.

    Back to the subject – perhaps you will actually favor us with a linear argument that exonerates Leithart’s theology from Calvin’s Catechism?

  30. todd said,

    October 26, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Jack,

    As for finding fault with “degenerating” the discussion # 19, we all have varying levels of tolerance for those in the church who teach a false gospel. With outsiders we are to be gentle and kind (II Tim 2:24&26), with those in ignorance in the church; compassionate but firm (Gal 3:1), but with those we believe are leading God’s sheep astray from within, the Scriptures reserve some harsh language (Gal 6:12, I Tim 1:6, II Tim 2:16, II Tim 6:3-5).

    To many of us it has been almost ten years now since FV hit the scene – you have had plenty of friendly conversation, discussion and opportunity to examine the truth and simply admit where you erred, but instead have remained obstinate. The Scripture allows certain abruptness in language in these cases.

    I can ask it a different way – if a member of your church tried to seduce your wife, and you warned him to stop, but you caught him doing it again, how “nice” would that conversation be when you confronted him again? Obviously since you do not believe you hold to a false gospel this analogy will not work for you, but since many of us see FV seducing God’s people who we are to protect from the simplicity of Christ, it does work.

  31. Jack Bradley said,

    October 26, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Are you also directing this to Leithart’s presbytery, Todd?

  32. October 26, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Here is Part 1 of my Protest against the PNWP:

    http://www.creedcodecult.com/2011/10/protest-against-pnwp-sjc-decision.html

    JJS

  33. todd said,

    October 26, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Jack,

    Good question – I would say not yet because I don’t know enough about them as to why they would not protect the sheep from FV heresy. But a teacher propagating false teaching is more culpable than one who personally does not teach it but does not have the ability, cajones, etc .. to discipline for such.

  34. Reed Here said,

    October 26, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Thank you Jason.

  35. Jerry Koerkenmeier said,

    October 26, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Jason,

    I must say I am praying that this protest is not in lieu of a complaint.

    Jerry

  36. Jerry Koerkenmeier said,

    October 26, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I want to give context and explanation to my last comment for any who may not be familiar with the procedural rules of the PCA. If someone in Pacific Northwest Presbytery does not complain against this decision within the 30 days, the decision cannot be overturned. There are other ways for the SJC to get involved, but overturning the verdict is only possible if a complaint is filed.

    BCO 40-3:

    It is ordinarily sufficient for the higher court merely to record in its own minutes and in the records reviewed whether it approves, disapproves or corrects the records in any particular; but should any serious irregularity be discovered the higher court may require its review and correction by the lower. Proceedings in judicial cases, however, shall not be dealt with under review and control when notice of appeal or complaint has been given the lower court; and no judgment of a lower court in a judicial case shall be reversed except by appeal or complaint.

  37. Brad B said,

    October 27, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I wonder if these were also babtized and enjoyed covenant benefits? I kinda think so.

    Mat 7:22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’

    Mat 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS”.

    alas “I never knew you”.

  38. Jack Bradley said,

    October 27, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Todd,
    I would like your response to this. What do you think of Meyers’ response to his presbytery committee, in light of your own statement that the baptized reprobate “has been sanctified in a covenant relationship with God.”

    http://www.weswhite.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/MOP-MIC-2011-Final-Report.pdf

    Meyers: Whatever the differences between elect and non-elect in the church—and every Reformed theologian acknowledges that there are many—the baptized are in covenant. Our own Book of Church Order says that the presiding minister at a baptism is “to admonish all that are present to look back to their Baptism, to repent of their sins against their covenant with God” (BCO §56-4). Denying that all baptized Christians are in covenant with God is not only unbiblical, it also contradicts the PCA Constitution.

    . . . Louis Berkhof, wrestles with the question of the status of the non-elect who are in covenant with God:

    “They are in the covenant also as far as the common covenant blessings are concerned. Though they do not experience the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit, yet they are subject to certain special operations and influences of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit strives with them in a special manner, convicts them of sin, enlightens them in a measure, and enriches them with the blessings of common grace” Gen. 6:3; Matt. 13:18-22; Heb. 6:4-6.

    Meyers: Paul speaks frightening warnings to the Galatian Christians who are on the verge of apostasy. He warns them that if they accept circumcision “you are severed from Christ. . . you have fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4). I do not believe that he is referring to the
    elect losing their vital union with Christ, their salvation; but he nevertheless uses the language of being “severed from Christ” and “falling from grace” to indicate that they will lose genuine gifts. I don’t know how to systematize this perfectly with so many other statements in the New Testament. Nevertheless, I must acknowledge some sort of “union with Christ” that falls short of a saving union and is lost by some. The way I reconcile this is that this “union with Christ” is a covenantal union they enjoy by virtue of being members of his body, the church. The “graces” they receive, and yet fall from, are gracious gifts of God and benefits they enjoy as members of the community of saints.

    . . . Jesus says that those who fail to persevere will have their names removed from the book of life (Rev. 3:5; 22:19). I take that to be equivalent to losing membership in the covenant community. These are baptized, communing members of the body of Christ, his church. I don’t understand this passage to be teaching that someone can lose their status as the elect of God. Neither do I believe this passage or others teach that the non-elect lose their salvation (i.e., saving benefits of union with Christ). They cannot lose what they do not have.

  39. todd said,

    October 27, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Jack,

    To be sanctified in a covenant relationship with God is to be set apart for something, as in covenant children in I Cor 7:14. If all Meyers is saying is that the non-elect in the church have a non-saving relationship (for lack of a better term) with God in that they have been set apart and given special privileges (hearing the gospel, seeing the effects of grace in the church, being numbered among God’s visible church, etc…) and responsibilities (believe in the Christ they hear about for salvation), then there wouldn’t be a problem, that is standard reformed orthodoxy. But the Bible never calls that “union with Christ,” and if Meyers really believes that baptism does not grant any saving benefits, then he could simply say so clearly and stand against Lusk and company when they teach such, and nobody would bother him.

  40. michael said,

    October 27, 2011 at 11:13 am

    As an outsider looking in and seeing how this is playing out in here, and in all the preceding posts this one follows, I would offer a consideration I have not as yet heard brought into the well for consideration.

    I key off Jack’s quotation from Meyers and his reference to Hebrews 6:4-6, above.

    When you go back to Hebrews 5 and look at what is being written to the Elect, you realize tha discussion is centered around “one” becoming mature in Christ with Christ as the Federal Head of this “maturing” one in His Body, as one member of His Bride, His Wife, one of many of those in active communion with God the Father seated and enthroned in Heaven, through Christ by One Spirit.

    For me and from my seat or place having been “placed” in Christ by God Himself, I point not to Hebrews 6:4-6 but rather at verse 3.

    Heb 6:3 And this we will do if God permits.

    Maybe God does not want all True, Elect, Saved Brethren to press on into maturity, rather, just carried along by the maturity of those in Christ who have matured by the Spirit of Grace and Truth?

    Not everyone can be a Teaching Elder in a Presbytery! Not everyone is a Ruling Elder in a Presbytery!

    We see these possibilities when we consider what the Apostle Paul wrote at the beginning of Chapter 15 of Romans and Galatians 6.

    As for receiving temporal benefits by being a part of and involved in the Temporal Visible Church, you get a sense that there are wolves and false brethren certainly who are enjoying the benefits of the Children of God, especially when you consider both Jesus’ Word at John 10:1-19 and Paul’s warnings at Acts 20:22-36.

    You can get a sense of the co-mingling of the Children of God with the children of darkness when you consider how the Book of Job unfolds from the first two chapters and then the chapter about the wicked, chapter 18 and the chapter about those who become hearers and followers of God’s Wisdom and Understanding and Grace, chapter 28.

    Might there be some “true brethren”, who are blinded by the deceits of this false doctrine ( the Federal Vision doctrine) that started to appear about ten years ago in Presbyteries and is now a full fledged argument out in the open among the Presbyterian movement; and of these truly deceived true brethren you mature brothers of the PCA need to double up your efforts to reach them with the Truth in the power of the Holy Spirit and expose those false brethren ruled by the wolves, those princes of the power of the air, Satan as chief, who works through the children of disobedience wicked?

    It is clear as I read both sides go at each other with well refined intellects in here that I find myself experiencing the same thing I have experienced several times now as a jurist as I sat as a juror in criminal cases being prosecuted by the County District Attorney’s office and by the defendant’s Defense Attorneys in Superior Courts in my county.

    I found myself initially being swayed to one side as that side laid out their arguments and then amazingly to myself, I was equally swayed by the other side as they laid out their arguments.

    At the end of the day, I had to go off with the other jurors and weigh the evidence and in each case that I sat as a jurist we did find the defendant guilty of the criminal offense being charged against them.

    I believe this Federal Vision doctrine and those proponents of it are in serious error of the Truth of the Gospel and they continue to err each and every time they defend it and those who have been put on trial by the prosecution.

    It is clear to me that the error is, even at the most miniscule and refined defense, one is being asked to “do something” to be received as “righteous” before God all the while this Federal Vision doctrine defense flies in the face of the True Gospel, especially when we read these Words about Righteousness revealed by it’s message:

    Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
    Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

    Obedience to the Faith, for me, is not something I do to be saved, rather as I have heard it it is something I believe about what Jesus did and continues to do for the Elect so that we are kept for our day of salvation just as Peter concurred:

    1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
    1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
    1Pe 1:5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

  41. Jack Bradley said,

    October 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Todd, as for “union with Christ”, I would encourage you to read all that Meyers has to say, starting with this:

    WCF 28.1: Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church; but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his engrafting into Christ

    Meyers: “Confessing that baptism formally engrafts the one baptized into Christ is, therefore, not unusual in the Reformed confessional tradition. Given how willing our Reformed forbearers were to talk about baptism and union with Christ in such a nearly unqualified way, it ought
    not to be considered unusual now to confess a formal union between Christ and baptized Christians. The difficulty, of course, is explaining just how that can be. I don’t pretend to be able to unravel the knots that seem to form whenever questions about the relations between faith, baptism, and union with Christ are all mentioned in the same sentence. What follows is my feeble attempt to make some sense of this language.”

    http://www.weswhite.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/MOP-MIC-2011-Final-Report.pdf

  42. David Gadbois said,

    October 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Jack quotes Meyers: Confessing that baptism formally engrafts the one baptized into Christ is, therefore, not unusual in the Reformed confessional tradition.

    This shows the typical lack of care the FV have with the confessions when they are peddling their errors. WCF does not say that baptism is what engrafts, but rather that it is a sign and seal of that engrafting into Christ.

    Meyers’ gloss is standard fare for FV tactics – just take a little nugget of WCF/Calvin/whatever and inflate the sacramental efficacy just enough to make FV ideas seem plausible.

  43. Jack Bradley said,

    October 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    So, may as well dispense with baptism as the “sign and SEAL” of that engrafting, David?

  44. Jack Bradley said,

    October 27, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Todd,

    Re: your statement about the baptized reprobate: “he has been sanctified in a covenant relationship with God.”

    I’m trying to figure out how “covenant relationship with God,” is much different from saying “in union with Christ”–in the way Meyers, and Leithart, qualify that language.

  45. todd said,

    October 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Jack,

    I need to move on – not trying to ignore you but we and others have been over this so many times that I don’t see the use of doing it again. Sorry

  46. Reed Here said,

    October 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Jack; I must agree with Todd. In general your comments are nothing more than re-hashing the same old tired arguments that we’ve heard for years. We’ve already done the patient work of listening, asking clarifying questions, narrowing down the exact nature of the disagreement.

    All of that conversation is easily accessible at the archives here. If this subject is really that important to you, if it is that important to you to persuade us that the FV is not an error, then you would serve the interests of the Kingdom better by first paying attention to what we’ve already said about these things. Again, check out the archives.

    Respectfully, maybe you should check first to see if your latest insight is actually new to the rest of us before posting.

  47. Jack Bradley said,

    October 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Sorry to hear this, brothers. I’ll continue to read, as I have, exhaustively. I hope you will too. Please continue to contemplate my question, Todd.

  48. Ken said,

    October 27, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    @ David 42:

    So how is an infant engrafted into Christ (or the covenant with Christ) if not through baptism? And how would one know?

  49. David Gadbois said,

    October 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Jack said So, may as well dispense with baptism as the “sign and SEAL” of that engrafting, David?

    Again, Jack, you keep sniping at us from the sidelines instead of making a straightforward argument. What weight, precisely, must you assume we assign to the “seal” character of baptism such that we must conclude that baptism actually accomplishes ingrafting into Christ? Man up and flesh out an actual argument.

  50. David Gadbois said,

    October 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Ken said So how is an infant engrafted into Christ (or the covenant with Christ) if not through baptism? And how would one know?

    Your parenthetical statement is the key. It would be OK to say that an infant is engrafted into the CoG in baptism, and only then with the qualification that we are speaking of that engrafting in terms of a formality – the infant already belongs to and is in the CoG.

    The “seal” language of Reformed sacramentology (and the Confession) is borrowed from Romans 4, in reference to Abraham’s circumcision. This should be a hint that it is confirmatory in nature, acting as a royal guarantee and confirmation of the covenant promises.

  51. Ken said,

    October 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    David,

    I added the parenthetical because I think that’s the crux of the issue. The WCF says “sign of …engrafting into Christ.” As you’ve demonstrated, contemporary Presbyterians/Reformed folk are much more comfortable with something closer to “engrafted into a covenant with Christ.” But the two phrases are not equivalent.

    The WCF says that an infant should receive the sign of engrafting into Christ, just like any adult. Would you consider it improper to tell a fellow parishioner after an infant baptism that his child is now engrafted into Christ?

  52. David Gadbois said,

    October 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Ken, I’d say that the sign and seal can come before or after the reality. Considered in isolation I wouldn’t assume one way or the other.

  53. David Gadbois said,

    October 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Jack, I have removed your comment because I have no more patience for you cutting and pasting lengthy sections of text in lieu of offering your own arguments and commentary to accompany concise and relevant citations.

  54. David Gadbois said,

    October 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Jack, Hodge’s commentary is available online, so this would have sufficed: http://www.mbrem123.com/creeds/wcf.php

  55. Jack Bradley said,

    October 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks, David. It’s his commentary on WCF 27 & 28.

  56. David Gadbois said,

    October 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Jack, I know when someone is engaged in dialogue and debate in good faith, and you are not. Cutting and pasting lengthy citations in lieu of presenting one’s own words, thoughts, and arguments is the hallmark of an internet troll.

    I would invite you, if you think ol’ A.A.H. has words of wisdom for us and want to engage in honest debate, to try posting small, relevant portions of his writing here and then tell us why it supports the FV view. Or better yet, try putting his arguments into your own words. I’m sure you are quite able to do this if you try.

  57. Reed Here said,

    October 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Jack: in light of my repeated warnings to you about this abuse of the privilege of commenting here at GB, David’s moderating was rather gracious of him. I would have simply deleted your comments. He had the decency to perfect your comments.

    Accordingly, your two snarky comments back to him were uncalled for. I have deleted them. Please see my private email for further information. Thank you.

  58. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 27, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Jack,

    I would agree with you, and with Hodge, that baptism conveys what it signs. I’ve argued such here before.

    Here’s a key feature of Hodge’s theology to consider:

    The grounds of this sacramental union are … (3.) The spiritual faith of the believing recipient, a gift of the Spirit of Christ, whereby, in the proper use of the sign, he is enabled to “discern the Lord’s body.” 1 Cor. xi. 29.

    and again,

    This the Confession carefully guards in the third section of this chapter, showing that the sacraments have no inherent power or virtue at all … So that this grace-conferring virtue depends upon two things: (1.) The sovereign will and power of the Holy Spirit. (2.) The lively faith of the recipient. The sacrament is a mere instrument.

    What is concerning about PL’s understanding to me is that he affirms that baptism conveys the arrabon of the Spirit; but that this arrabon can also be lost.

    This appears to indicate that he does not limit the efficacy of baptism to those who receive it with a lively faith; or else, that he does not limit the term “lively faith” to indicate “decretally saving faith” (which, in context, Hodge does).

    So what say you: if we grant that baptism conveys what it signs, must we also grant that baptism conveys to every recipient that which it signs?

  59. Jack Bradley said,

    October 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    You’re right, Reed. I’m sorry for my snarky comments. Thank you for removing them.

    David, I’m truly sorry for losing my temper. Please forgive me.

  60. Jack Bradley said,

    October 27, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Jeff wrote: must we also grant that baptism conveys to every recipient that which it signs?

    No. Hodge captures the biblical balance here, as I think Leithart does.

    Hodge: “The sacraments were designed to “apply “– i.e., actually to convey — to believers the benefits of the new covenant. If they are “seals” of the covenant, they must of course, as a legal form of investiture, actually convey the grace represented to those to whom it belongs.

    . . . the sacraments have no inherent power or virtue at all, but that the right use of the sacrament is by divine appointment the occasion upon which the Holy Ghost conveys the grace to those to whom it belongs. So that this grace-conferring virtue depends upon two things: (1.) The sovereign will and power of the Holy Spirit. (2.) The lively faith of the recipient. The sacrament is a mere instrument; but IT IS AN INSTRUMENT OF DIVINE APPOINTMENT.” (emphasis in original)

  61. Jack Bradley said,

    October 27, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Jeff,

    I meant to add, Hodge’s repetition of “to whom it belongs” is the operative phrase in answering the question you posed. I think Leithart is careful to say that baptism is only truly, eternally, efficacious for these to whom it belongs: the elect. But he’s willing to say, as Todd said in his sermon on baptism: If you do not have a doctrine of the visible church you will get in much trouble with verses that talk about baptized persons later apostatizing. As Todd, and Leithart, point out, these are not teaching that you can lose your salvation, but that you are definitely losing something, falling away from something. Something like “a covenant relationship with God”.

  62. Dean B said,

    October 27, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Jack

    “As Todd, and Leithart, point out, these are not teaching that you can lose your salvation, but that you are definitely losing something, falling away from something. Something like ‘a covenant relationship with God’.”

    I seriously doubt anyone here has a problem with the way you expressed it here. Few if any simply equate covenant with election. However, when Leithart and other FV advocates go way beyond describing advantages of the covenant broadly used (i.e. visible church) and start talking smuggling in language which is exclusively used for the covenant of grace like forgiveness of sins and justification for all baptized people then most here get nervous.

    Pastor Stellman in his recent complaint to PNWP he spells out in detail what Leithart actually believes happens in every baptism. I think you would find Leithart’s view rather shocking and insufficiently qualified. http://www.creedcodecult.com/2011/10/protest-against-pnwp-sjc-decision.html

  63. Jack Bradley said,

    October 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Dean, I think it really comes down to the final Leithart quote Stellman relates: “Only those who respond in faith fulfill their priestly role rightly, persevere in the marriage covenant with Christ, stay in the family, remain in the circle of God’s favor.”

    Again, I can’t see any material difference between Leitharts’s “circle of God’s favor”, “marriage covenant with Christ” and Todd’s “sanctified covenant relationship with God.”

  64. Dean B said,

    October 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Jack

    Are you the Jack Bradley of presbyterians-opc@yahoogroups fame?

    Do you believe the system of doctrine in the WCF teaches a person can have forgiveness of sins, adoption, and justification without faith? Isn’t this what Leithart believes states right before the portion you just quoted?

  65. Reed Here said,

    October 27, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Thank you Jack. Well said.

  66. Jack bradley said,

    October 28, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Ha! Fame? Yes, the same :). I’ll have to get back to you tomorrow, Dean. I just got home and it’s late.

  67. Jack bradley said,

    October 28, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Thank you, Reed.

  68. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Jack (#61): The fact that Todd is willing to say, together with Hodge, that something genuine is lost, BUT that Todd is also adamantly opposed to PL’s theology, suggests that Todd sees something in PL that is different from Hodge.

    So then, what is that difference, and is it real or imagined?

    Here’s what I see, speaking as one who has no animus whatsoever towards PL and who approaches all trials in hope of acquittal.

    4. “Baptism into membership in the community of Christ therefore also confers the arrabon of the spirit and in this sense too it a regenerating ordinance. There can be no merely social membership in this family.” –Quoted by the Prosecution in Leithart Trial Transcript (p. 188).

    5. PROSECUTION [Stellman]: “Well, my – – my question is. I’m asking you is this your view namely that the – – the arrabon of the Holy Spirit, the down payment of future glory is given to all members of the visible church merely by being baptized and can be lost by those members of the visible church who later apostasize.
    WITNESS [Leithart]: Yeah, I – – I would say yes.” –Leithart Trial Transcript (p. 190).

    Baptism confers the arrabon. To whom does it confer? If you, and I, and PL, and Hodge, all agree that it confers to those with a “lively faith”, then it follows that the arrabon cannot be lost. But 5. is inconsistent with this reading of PL.

    But if PL, against you and me and Hodge, says that it confers to a larger group, then the conveyance does not happen by virtue of saving faith but by something else.

    And if that is true, then PL’s term “regenerating ordinance” must mean something larger than what Hodge is talking about.

    In fine: the key concern is that PL moves away from the “external” language that Calvin uses to describe the visible Church and its covenant, and instead appears to ascribe ontologically reality, a kind of salvation, to the benefits of being in the visible church.

    At this point, if you would humor me, compare this to Canons of Dordt Rejection of Errors 1.ii and 5.vii.

    I’ll leave off now.

    Blessings,

  69. michael said,

    October 28, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Jack,

    in light of the many other responses you have given in here and at the other comboxes and the many reproofs and instructions that have been graciously been given back at you and the apparent humility that is manifesting from within you in here, now, may I again point your attention to my initial question asked above, especially in light of the things I just read by Jeff:

    Jack,

    would this be incorrect? Would I be incorrect to believe that Dr. Leithart is placing on me a work of Righteousness to do jointly with Christ to secure my place among the Saints, those sanctified by the Holy Spirit?

    Maybe you could come at it for now as if I am a fledgling novice under your charge to teach me the Truth of the Gospel? I am in fact a fledgling novice when it comes to reformational thinking and I desire and hunger wanting to come into a better understanding of the meaning of this arrabohn or down payment from God done to me by the Holy Spirit?

    Additionally, in your view with your understanding what exactly does Peter Leithart mean then when he says:

    4. “Baptism into membership in the community of Christ therefore also confers the arrabon of the spirit and in this sense too it a regenerating ordinance. There can be no merely social membership in this family.”

  70. Jack Bradley said,

    October 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Jeff and Michael, I think the entire context of the transcript is important here. I take Leithart here to refer to the arrabon as the brand (outward, visible sign) of baptism. Notice that the prosecutor affirms this understanding when he asks for clarification, and receives it.

    There may remain disagreement about semantics, but taken in this sense it hardly constitutes heresy:

    Q: I’m asking you is this your view namely that the – – the arrabon of the Holy Spirit, the down payment of future glory is given to all members of the visible church merely by being baptized and can be lost by those members of the visible church who later apostasize?
    WITNESS: Yeah, I – – I would say yes.
    Q: Okay. That’s not all the baptized receives. In receiving baptism, the baptized receive a great deal more. The baptized person is brought into the community of the church which is the body of Christ. That’s a gift. The baptized is made a member of the family of the father. That’s a gift. The baptized is separated from the world and identified before the world as a member of Christ’s people. That’s a gift. The baptized is enlisted in Christ’s army, invested to be Christ’s servant and made a member of the royal priesthood and given a station in the royal court branded as a sheep of Christ flock. All that is gift. All this the baptized is not only offered but receives. All this he receives simply by virtue of being baptized. Do you affirm that statement?
    A: Yes.

    . . . Q: you’re saying, it sounds to me, like by virtue, and you go out of your way to say it this way, simply by virtue of being baptized, all the baptized become branded as Christ’s sheep.
    A: Correct. There are, there are wayward sheep. There are members, again, members of the body of Christ that are cut off or fall away. I think that the, the – – that the language – – I’m getting the language of branding a sheep from the patristic idea that baptism is a seal which marks out the members of Christ’s flock and the soldier thing that’s all from common patristic idea of the, of baptism as a seal.
    Q: But doesn’t – –
    A: The baptism, baptism claims them as sheep. Will some of those sheep wander away? Will some of those sheep fall away? I think yes.

  71. Jack Bradley said,

    October 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I’ll be away from my computer for several hours, but I will look forward to more iron sharpening interaction with you.

  72. jeff2552 said,

    October 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Jack, in your study of the term “arrabon”, is there any instance where it is used as an outward brand rather than the giving of the Spirit?

  73. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Oops, that was me.

  74. Reed Here said,

    October 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Jack: this is standard nuancing for those in the FV camp. We recognize the careful distinguishing. We understanding the nuancing is intended to not deny what the Westminster Standards teach. We get that Leithart and company are saying that they are speaking only about what the baptized reprobate church member (RCM) gets.

    Problem: Leithart denies the traditional Visible-Invisible distinction, at least in terms of the key criteria. Namely, he denies considering the biblical redemption schema from the perspective of inward vs. outward, internal vs. external. I.e., he does not follow the common reformed understanding of the Scriptural distinction between the flesh and the Spirit if you will.

    Observation: Leithart believes that the RCM experiences, partakes of, shares in, participates in the exact same regenerative benefits as the (decretally) Elect Church Member (ECM). He believes that these two groups experience these things via the exact same ministry of the Spirit, with the only material exception being the reception of the grace of perseverance (ECM yes, RCM no).

    Problem: Leithart may acknowledge a distinction between ECM and RCM, but this is one only known to God – and plays no role in the ministry of the gospel given to the Church! I.o.w., the distinction is as immaterial as the dancing angels on the pinhead. (And yes, I know that this scholastic shibboleth actually has a valid foundation to it. I’m merely using as a shibbolethic expression.)

    Question: how does such a system not end up being nothing more than the next iteration of Pelagianism — Semi-Pelagianism — Arminianism?

  75. michael said,

    October 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Jack,

    first, thank you for including me: “…Jeff and Michael, I think the entire context of the transcript is important here. I take Leithart …”.

    I was looking for a personal response to my question, though?

    Would you answer it?

    I get it that that was PL’s answers to, ah, Pastor Stellman, the questioner?

    What is “your” answer to my question:

    “…would this be incorrect? Would I be incorrect to believe that Dr. Leithart is placing on me a work of Righteousness to do jointly with Christ to secure my place among the Saints, those sanctified by the Holy Spirit?”

    Would I be?

    thanks!

  76. J. Bunch said,

    October 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Reed, in regard to #74, I have a somewhat hard time following your argument all the way through. You say that “Leithart may acknowledge a distinction between the ECM and the RCM, but this is one only known to God.”

    Do you disagree? Do you know precisely who in your church are elect, and which ones are reprobate? Surely you don’t have the Book of Life with you. And I think Leithart would disagree with you that the distinctions play no role in the ministry of the church.

    Elders don’t have the Book of Life, but they exercise discipline upon those who are manifesting unrepentence. There are some covenant members who by all appearances are on the path to hell. That doesn’t mean we can’t still pray that they would come to saving faith.

    I don’t see how this all necessarily leads to Pelagianism, even if it is framed the way you have put it. The grace of perseverance could still be received by faith alone, and that faith being a gift of God alone. I don’t see a Semi-Pelagian or Arminian weakening of the doctrine of total depravity anywhere in Leithart.

    Where has any Sovereignty-of-God-Calvinism necessarily been lost?

  77. Jack Bradley said,

    October 28, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Michael, Yes. You would be incorrect.

  78. Jack Bradley said,

    October 28, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Reed, thanks for your thoughts. I’ll try to get back to you tonight–if I can think clearly during this amazing World Series!

  79. Roger du Barry said,

    October 29, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Reed, on the practical level, how does the RCM get treated in your church? What are the criteria you use to identify these people?

  80. Jack Bradley said,

    October 29, 2011 at 9:22 am

    J Bunch, Good questions.

  81. Dave said,

    October 29, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Jeff (#69)- In fine: the key concern is that PL moves away from the “external” language that Calvin uses to describe the visible Church and its covenant, and instead appears to ascribe ontologically reality, a kind of salvation, to the benefits of being in the visible church.

    Does your comment indicate that you equate the external/internal distinctions made in Calvin and others to an unreal/real ontological distinction? Is it possible that such an understanding (whether intended or not) is behind some of the difficulties in communication around these topics? Is it possible for the reprobate to have an “ontologically real” relationship with Christ in time that they do not enjoy in eternity?

  82. Dave said,

    October 29, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Sorry – reference should have been #68.

  83. Jack Bradley said,

    October 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Dave, your question about “some of the difficulties in communication around these topics” brings to mind three separate exchanges from the trial. I think these bear out some of these difficulties surrounding external / internal distinctions:

    Collins: In my reading of of Dr. Leithart, what he’s trying to do is to do justice to the biblical terminology. And so union with Christ, married to Christ, all all these things are terms that you will find in the Bible applied indiscriminately to Christian congregations. . . It seems to me that that he is, that Dr. Leithart is trying to highlight the, the – – the reality of, and the level of privileges, the astonishingly high level of privileges that are bestowed upon the person who is baptized. And it would be, it would be a mistake on our part to underplay those things. Now it – – it sounds to me, and I could be wrong, but it sounds to me like like you’re hearing him as as describing what, as using terms that that you would reserve for the people that you would count as genuinely regenerate. And – – and so I think that that’s the way you’re hearing him rather than what he’s saying.

    Barker: … reading Bob Letham’s book, which I haven’t completed yet. But I read some of the relevant sections. It’s, it comes across very strong in his account of the debates on baptism at the Westminster Assembly. Some would even use the term baptismal regeneration. But we need to understand that 16th and 17th century used the word regeneration in a broader sense and we tend to use it in American evangelicalism also, as meaning sort of the total aspect of our salvation.

    Q: So, we’ve heard several times today that you hold to a view that baptism works ex opere operato by the work worked. Is that your view?
    A (Leithart): With regard to entry into the church, yes. I think that a person who is baptized is by virtue of that right because this is Christ’s right of entry into the Church, a member of the church and has certain privileges as a result of that entry. As far as being eternally saved, regeneration in the classic confessional sense, no I don’t believe that.

  84. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 29, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Dave, I would say that the covenant status, being accorded the titles “Christian” or “son of God” per Gal 3, are legitimately bestowed on all who profess faith.

    For that reason, we treat all who are members of the visible church with a presumption of salvation. The status has both operational and ontological reality.

    However, I would say that the benefits of salvation mentioned in, say, Eph 1, are particular to those who have saving faith. In my view, the giving of the arrabon of the Spirit is intended to guarantee that person’s inheritance, and the working of the Spirit is the cause of that person’s perseverance. The salvation of the non-elect has operational reality (in that they appear to all intents and purposes to be saved, and should be treated as such); but no ontological reality — for if it did, they would certainly persevere.

    This is why I asked Jack to consider Dordt I.ii:

    [We reject the errors of those] Who teach that God’s election to eternal life is of many kinds: one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and the latter in turn either incomplete, revocable, nonperemptory (or conditional), or else complete, irrevocable, and peremptory (or absolute). Likewise, who teach that there is one election to faith and another to salvation, so that there can be an election to justifying faith apart from a peremptory election to salvation.

    For this is an invention of the human brain, devised apart from the Scriptures, which distorts the teaching concerning election and breaks up this golden chain of salvation: Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).

    and again, 5.vii

    Who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.

    For Christ himself in Matthew 13:20ff. and Luke 8:13ff. clearly defines these further differences between temporary and true believers: he says that the former receive the seed on rocky ground, and the latter receive it in good ground, or a good heart; the former have no root, and the latter are firmly rooted; the former have no fruit, and the latter produce fruit in varying measure, with steadfastness, or perseverance.

    Does that answer your question?

  85. Dave said,

    October 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Well, I was asking a more specific question about your use of language in your own statement I quoted. It seemed like your terminology equated external with unreal, and internal with real. So is being in external relationship not being in a real relationship – which might seem to suggest at least the possibility that the comfort some folks have with the external/internal distinction might be based on what may be some sort of perhaps unrecognized equivocation around the notion of what is real and what is not? If there are only two real conditions – elect and non-elect – is the elect man prior to his regeneration and conversion “really” at enmity with God? If the visible church is only an external relationship, is it real or only apparent? And if baptism brings a person into relationship with the visible church, does Christ have no real relationship with the visible church as visible church, or only in that he has a relationship with the invisible church members who happen to be part of the visible church?

  86. Brad B said,

    October 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    “with the only material exception being the reception of the grace of perseverance (ECM yes, RCM no)”

    If I am reading Reeds comments accurately, he doesn’t have to answer this question:

    ” Do you disagree? Do you know precisely who in your church are elect, and which ones are reprobate? Surely you don’t have the Book of Life with you. And I think Leithart would disagree with you that the distinctions play no role in the ministry of the church.

    since it seems to be inspired from a misreading of him.

    This line of questioning seems a little ironic to me since Reed seems to be really questioning how PL defends knowing that the RCM and the ECM are in fact experiencing the benefits of covenant blessings the sameway. PL[FV] is assuming, without proving.

    Maybe he’ll answer for himself soon, but it being a short time til Sunday, he may not have time.

  87. Jack Bradley said,

    October 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Jeff, I appreciated your terminology: “differences between temporary and true believers. . . ” “Temporary believers” is apparently seen as an oxymoron to some, but Leithart does a good job of delineating it, which also goes to the heart of his terminology of “union with Christ” and baptismal efficacy (and, I think, answers your Dordt question):

    http://pnwp.org/images/resources/defense-ex-7-leithart-response-to-pnw-committee-oct-08.pdf :

    “Whatever we conclude about the Westminster Standards or the Reformed confessional tradition, it is clear that the Bible indicates that some are united to Christ and are later cut off. Even the Minority Report admits as much: “TE Leithart is certainly correct to highlight the covenantal nature of the relationship between the Vine and the branches in John 15, and he is also correct in pointing out that even reprobate members of the visible church experience certain common operations of the Holy Spirit.” Their objection is that this “relationship” should not be described as “union with Christ.” That, it seems to me, is merely a quibble over words.

    . . . My argument about baptismal efficacy is that the baptized are united to the visible church, which is the body of the Incarnate Son of God. Therefore, the baptized are united to Christ. This union may be only temporary; branches might be pruned from the vine. But the union is a reality nonetheless.

    . . . Among the benefits of the visible church (LC #63) is the “communion of saints,” which is defined by the Confession (26.1) in this way: “All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by His Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with Him in His grace, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces.” Thus, enjoying the communion of saints in the visible church includes being united to Christ the Head as well as to one another.

    . . . Baptism is the rite of entry into the visible church; since the visible church is the body of Christ, baptism engrafts the baptized into Christ and His body, and sharing in the body of the incarnate and glorified Son brings benefits of various sorts; but this engrafting is no guarantee of final salvation, since some who are baptized into Christ and His body fall away. Baptism is a gift of grace that bestows other gifts, but it is effective to salvation only for those who have persevering fait

  88. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 29, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Dave (#85): I’ll need some kind of qualification about what you mean by “real.” My own attempt at that qualification was to use the terms “operational”, in reference to the empirical reality we experience, and “ontological”, in reference to the state of affairs known by God.

    If we are using those terms, then I would say that the non-elect do not really have saving faith.

    But I’m not sure that we’re on the same page there.

  89. Brad B said,

    October 29, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    “My argument about baptismal efficacy is that the baptized are united to the visible church, which is the body of the Incarnate Son of God. Therefore, the baptized are united to Christ. This union may be only temporary; branches might be pruned from the vine. But the union is a reality nonetheless.”

    So, Jack are you prepared to also subject these to the amercement of Heb. 6?

    “Heb 6:4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
    Hbr 6:5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
    Hbr 6:6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, [fn]since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”

    I can tell you that I personally know some solid believers who have fallen away, ie left the covenant community and have been received back and are as solid or even more solid in their assurance than many. I wonder if it’s the practice of FV believers to receive back into fellowship repentant recalcitrants? Maybe it depends on what the meaning of “fallen away” but why quibble over words. ; )

  90. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 29, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Jack,

    Thanks for the reading. I’ve engaged with Xon H. before on the subject of temporary justification, and I cannot agree with him or with PL that Dordt permits it (rejection of errors V.3), nor the Confession. PL’s assertion that WLC #65 gives room for a union of another kind other than “in grace and glory” seems particularly thin in light of the specification of benefits of the visible and invisible church members in #63 and #69 respectively.

    But since that subject cannot be hashed out in this space, I judge it best to leave it there.

    Blessings,
    Jeff Cagle

  91. Brad B said,

    October 29, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    “1Cr. 2:12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
    1Cr 2:13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
    1Cr 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
    1Cr 2:15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
    1Cr 2:16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.”

    Seems like it’s impossible for reprobate to even want to participate in the benefits of covenant in the same way as those who have the spirit of God because he doesn’t accept the things of the spirit–they do not accept them because it would be foolish to. At any rate, there is a difference in ability to participate in the visible body.

  92. Dave said,

    October 29, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Well, at least that clarifies somewhat the way you were using the terms ontological and operational, if not the term “real”. Is empirical reality really real, or only apparently real? Are the empirically real benefits of membership in the visible (operational?) church, really benefits to the non-elect member ontologically (in the state of affairs known by God) if they don’t endure (as God certainly knows they won’t because he decreed it so), or only apparently benefits? I know all these questions hinge upon a definition of the term “real”, which was really my point, since I suspect that ambiguity (equivocation?) on that concept may influence the perceived comfort level of folks with various formulations while allowing them to argue past one another at times. Not the only issue to be sure – just a line of inquiry suggested by your statement that triggered my initial question. I’ll have to give it some real (at least empirically) thought when I have more time.

  93. Jack Bradley said,

    October 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Brad, I’m not sure exactly what you’re getting at re: Heb. 6, but here’s some more helpful thoughts on that passage:

    Berkhof: “They are in the covenant also as far as the common covenant blessings are concerned. Though they do not experience the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit, yet they are subject to certain special operations and influences of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit strives with them in a special manner, convicts them of sin, enlightens them in a measure, and enriches them with the blessings of common grace” Gen. 6:3; Matt. 13:18-22; Heb. 6:4-6.

    Horton: “. . . in Hebrew 6 where the, Professor Leithart is quite – – quite right to emphasize that these are real gifts that people are participating in. The gift of the Spirit. They’re participating in the powers of the age to come or tasting of the powers of the age to come. They are – – have once been enlightened, which I take to be ancient church term for baptism. Have tasted of the heavenly gift, Lord’s supper. Tasted of the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come.”

  94. Brad B said,

    October 30, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Hi Jack, thanks, I’m pretty familar with Hortons assesment of this scripture, but he’s not in any way suggesting that these are experienceing the convenental blessings in the same way. It seems to me that you are as are FV proponents advocating the same participation, so my challenge to you is regarding the one way ticket out, if these are in fact able to “crucifying anew the Son of God” as if they were able to repent, which Heb 4:6 states is a specific curse.

    Are you prepared to judge repentant recalcitrants per this passage?
    [not personally, but according to scripture pronounce the biblical curse upon them for their lapse in faithfulness]

  95. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 30, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Dave: Is empirical reality really real, or only apparently real?

    There’s no way to reduce it as such. Without, again, knowing what you mean by “really real”, I couldn’t even talk about how the terms map.

    Empirical reality is real insofar as one can see, taste, touch, poke, and prod.

  96. Reed Here said,

    October 30, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Jack: you do recognize that Leithart disagrees with the Berkhof quote you provided? Leithart would disagree with this,

    “Though they do not experience the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit,”

    No? If so, back to my question, combined with David’s reference to the Canons of Dordt. How is the FV not an iteration of the same schema found in Arminianism?

  97. Jack Bradley said,

    October 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Reed, could you cite something from Leithart to substantiate his disagreement with Berkhof here?

  98. Dave said,

    October 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Does empirical reality include not just “see, taste, touch, poke and prod”, but also reality insofar as one can think, feel, know, believe, ….?

  99. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Dave, thorny question. I have (limited) access to my own thoughts, feelings, knowledge, and beliefs. But I have no access to another’s.

    But all of this is hanging fire until you make clear what you mean by “really real.” So this is the point where you play your cards.

    In any event: the terms “operational reality” and “ontological reality” are not binding on PL. He is under no obligation to use my categories. Rather, I’m trying to make clear that all of what Calvin said about the reality of the visible church is predicated on his distinction between “external”, the reality that man sees, and the reality that God sees. This distinction is evident in his treatment of John 15:

    Can any one who is engrafted into Christ be without fruit? I answer, many are supposed to be in the vine, according to the opinion of men, who actually have no root in the vine Thus, in the writings of the prophets, the Lord calls the people of Israel his vine, because, by outward profession, they had the name of The Church. — Calv Comm John 15.2.

    Without that distinction as a framework, any attempt to appropriate what Calvin says about the visible church will be mis-framed.

    So: “operational reality” is not a binding theological category. “External” is. If you want to further pursue the question of “is external really real?”, then you will first need to define really real.

  100. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Jack: Leithart says that he believes My baptismal views depend on a notion of real but temporary benefits for at least some of the reprobate. (Leithart Response p. 11).

    What are those benefits? This statement occurs in a section entitled “Temporary justification and regeneration”; he then cites with approval several who argue for temporary justification and regeneration — Ward, Davenant, et al.

    From this, it is quite clear that the real but temporary benefits include justification and regeneration.

    Berkhof, however, denies the term “regeneration” to the common operations of the Spirit.

    QED

    What’s missing here is an acknowledgement that water has gone under the bridge since Rollock’s time. Among other things, the Arminius affair showed the need to distinguish between the common operations of the Spirit and the actual workings of the Spirit that lead to eternal life. The whole point of Dordt is that there is a difference in quality *and not merely duration* between the experiences of the religious reprobate and the sinner saved by grace. Those differences are explicated by Dordt, and form part of the lens through which we need to read and understand the Westminster standards. Garver’s article implicitly acknowledges this fact in his discussion of the evolution of the term “regeneration.”

    Leithart reaches back to pre-Dordt theologians to make his case for messier terminology. But in so doing, he is re-inventing the theological wheel. That’s certainly possible; the Westminster standards are not Scripture.

    But if he does so, then he bears the burden of wrestling with Dordt and finding a way to articulate the distinctions found there. In particular, if he is going to say that the non-elect covenant members experience “temporary but real justification and regeneration”, then he cannot leave that statement hanging there without further qualifying, fully qualifying, the sense in which this is so.

    What happens at Dordt is that a portion of Augustinian soteriology — in particular, the notion that one may fall away from genuine salvation — is decisively rejected. Speaking of temporary salvation in our period of doctrinal development is much like speaking of the sun going down. It works as a phenomenological metaphor, but not as an adequate description of ontological reality.

    Leithart’s words fail to acknowledge this situation, which is why they concern me.

    (Notice that I’m leaving the door open for further clarification here. It is my preference and hope that Leithart has orthodox sentiments behind his words. It is my fear that he either does not, or else is confused in a critical fashion.)

  101. Jerry Koerkenmeier said,

    October 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Jack (#97):

    “Baptism into membership in the community of Christ therefore also confers the arrabon of the spirit and in this sense too it a regenerating ordinance. There can be no merely social membership in this family.” –Quoted by the Prosecution in Leithart Trial Transcript (p. 188).

    Furthermore, in response to several questions during the trial regarding the nature of the distinction between the reprobate baptized with temporary faith and the elect person who perseveres in faith, he never gives regeneration as something that distinguishes the two.

    Can you find one quote from Dr. Leithart where he says regeneration is limited to the decreetally elect? Please read his section on “Falling Away” in The Baptized Body (pp. 88-91). That should clarify his disagreement with your Berkhof quotation. (Though one is well served to read his definition of “regeneration” on page 77).

    Link: http://bit.ly/tcG8Rn

  102. Reed Here said,

    October 30, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    So Jack: Berkhof says only the decretally elect get regeneration. Leithart says the reprobate church member also gets regeneration. How is that agreement between them?

  103. Ron Henzel said,

    October 30, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    The only possible hope that Leithart’s view can have of “working” confessionally is if it’s possible to separate effectual calling from regeneration, and to then say that baptism necessarily results in regeneration without necessarily implying effectual calling—or to say that there are two different kinds of regeneration, and that the reprobate can receive a different kind (which, in fact, he seems to imply on page 77 of The Baptized Body). I believe Leithart is trying to exploit the fact that while the Westminster Standards go out of their way to define effectual calling, they do not take the same pains when it comes to regeneration, and they do not come right out and explicitly declare that all who are regenerated are effectually called.

  104. Jack Bradley said,

    October 30, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Jerry asks: Can you find one quote from Dr. Leithart where he says regeneration is limited to the decreetally elect?

    I actually find two:

    Q: So some people can receive a regenerating ordinance, be branded as a sheep, married to Christ and united to him and adopted as a son in God’s house, and lose those blessings through potential rejection of the gospel in the future.

    A: I – – I’ve been careful about the way I talk about regeneration in relation to baptism. Regeneration has a specific significance in the Confession and in a lot of reformed theology that is tied to election and only the elect are regenerate in that sense. . . I’m not talking about regeneration in the classic sense of, that everyone who is baptized receives this – – this gift which is given only to the elect.

    . . . Q: So, we’ve heard several times today that you hold to a view that baptism works ex opere operato by the work worked. Is that your view?

    A: With regard to entry into the church, yes. I think that a person who is baptized is by virtue of that right because this is Christ’s right of entry into the Church, a member of the church and has certain privileges as a result of that entry. As far as being eternally saved, regeneration in the classic confessional sense, no I don’t believe that.

    Jerry, I know you cited the prosecution as quoting Leithart (p. 188), but I cannot find that quote from Leithart himself. Could you provide any primary documentation for that quote?

  105. October 30, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Here’s the next section of my protest:

    http://www.creedcodecult.com/2011/10/protest-against-pnwp-sjc-decision_30.html

  106. michael said,

    October 31, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Pastor Stellman,

    reading that and then the subsequent exchanges back and forth by the commentors in the combox leads me to believe the Holy Spirit has “all” of our numbers so much so we ought to heed words to this affect apropos:

    “The fruit of the Spirit is ….suffering long (longsuffering)…” and “…suffer hardship as a “good” soldier…”.

    Personally, I don’t discredit those two on the defense in one sense; overall though, your point is well taken by me about them in your complaint. The one sense is, for Pastor Keister’s sake and his future in bearing fruitful Ministry to those he has charge of, putting it in the greater scheme of things, I would hope Pastor Keister saw what he experienced by that experience of examination was a good experience to go through? Fire is good in that it causes any residual dross in the metal to come to the surface so that the metal is even purer than before the fires of the crucible purify, purify, purify! I am thinking about one verse. It is and isn’t a comforting verse when you put it in the light I am:

    1Ti 1:5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

    What their tactics did is also reveal their own characters and give me a sense of the kinds of battles to be fought in the future by all Godly men! No envy here, there!

    I still come back to and reflect on these Words from Acts 20 and hope others realize it is a wonderful calling, this calling and a costly one for one to be called into, this Ministry that represents Jesus Christ as Lord in this world, devils abounding plenty in all of our civil pursuits:

    “…Act 20:19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews;

    Act 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

    Act 20:31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.
    Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. …”.

    The greater comfort for Lane, in my view, is the fact he has men of God such as yourself edifying and encouraging and comforting him in the Spirit of Grace and Truth, from the Lord, Himself, too, so that he does not fall prey to any discouragements by those defense counselors, but, rather, he would stay the course and suffer well as a good soldier and fight the good fight of Faith among True Believers and then he too, as many of God’s ministers have received already, who have gone before us, the crown of Life!

    Jas 1:11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
    Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

  107. David Gadbois said,

    October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I’m not talking about regeneration in the classic sense of, that everyone who is baptized receives this – – this gift which is given only to the elect.

    This is one of the oldest routines from the FV playbook. So there is the confessional/classical term regeneration but then there is also the FV term regeneration* with an asterisk. Regeneration* with an asterisk helps fill out the parallel ordo salutis that the FV teaches occurs to all covenant members. So far orthodox men have not been able to capture the FV Enigma machine needed to decrypt what this double speak actually means, but we are assured that it means something “in some sense.”

    The confessional sense of “regeneration” is indexed to the Johannine language of being born again (John 3) or being born of God (1 John), and the imagery in Ezekiel 36 of being given a new heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone. This points to a fundamental renovation of the human heart, wherein we cease being enemies of God to being receptive to God and the Gospel. It is this prevenient grace that makes our doctrine of salvation monergistic.

    If one wants to be literalistic about it, and focus on the two NT instances of παλιγγενεσια (palingenesia, usually translated “regeneration”), in Titus 3:5 and Matthew 19:28, these do not fit the FV use of the term. The Bible simply knows nothing about a temporary regeneration or a quasi regeneration that Leithart and the FV posit.

  108. David Gadbois said,

    October 31, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    We also see a similar tactic when Leithart puts his idiosyncratic spin on αρραβων (arrabon). In all NT instances this is translated as “downpayment” or “guarantee”, and is impossible to understand, in context, that these could apply to non-elect covenant members. There is no biblical basis for appropriating arrabon as Leithart has.

    When is a “guarantee” from God not a guarantee? When you are in the wacky world of FV-land.

  109. Jack Bradley said,

    October 31, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    David,
    I’m still waiting for some primary source documentation of the arrabon quote.

  110. todd said,

    October 31, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Jack,

    PROSECUTION [Stellman]: “Well, my – – my question is. I’m asking you is this your view namely that the – – the arrabon of the Holy Spirit, the down payment of future glory is given to all members of the visible church merely by being baptized and can be lost by those members of the visible church who later apostasize.
    WITNESS [Leithart]: Yeah, I – – I would say yes.” –Leithart Trial Transcript (p. 190).

  111. David Gadbois said,

    October 31, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    PROSECUTION: Well, my – – my question is. I’m asking you is this your view 16 namely that the – – the arrabon of the Holy Spirit, the down payment of future glory is given 17 to all members of the visible church merely by being baptized and can be lost by those 18 members of the visible church who later apostasize. 19
    WITNESS: Yeah, I – – I would say yes.

    The relevant discussion in the trial transcript begins at p. 187 and goes to p.190.

  112. Jack Bradley said,

    October 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Brothers,
    I still maintain that the entire context of the transcript is important here. I still take Leithart here to refer to the arrabon as the brand (outward, visible sign) of baptism. Again, notice, after the section you quote, that the prosecutor affirms this understanding when he asks for clarification, and receives it.

    Q: I’m asking you is this your view namely that the – – the arrabon of the Holy Spirit, the down payment of future glory is given to all members of the visible church merely by being baptized and can be lost by those members of the visible church who later apostasize?
    WITNESS: Yeah, I – – I would say yes.
    Q: Okay. That’s not all the baptized receives. In receiving baptism, the baptized receive a great deal more. The baptized person is brought into the community of the church which is the body of Christ. That’s a gift. The baptized is made a member of the family of the father. That’s a gift. The baptized is separated from the world and identified before the world as a member of Christ’s people. That’s a gift. The baptized is enlisted in Christ’s army, invested to be Christ’s servant and made a member of the royal priesthood and given a station in the royal court branded as a sheep of Christ flock. All that is gift. All this the baptized is not only offered but receives. All this he receives simply by virtue of being baptized. Do you affirm that statement?
    A: Yes.

    . . . Q: you’re saying, it sounds to me, like by virtue, and you go out of your way to say it this way, simply by virtue of being baptized, all the baptized become branded as Christ’s sheep.
    A: Correct. There are, there are wayward sheep. There are members, again, members of the body of Christ that are cut off or fall away. I think that the, the – – that the language – – I’m getting the language of branding a sheep from the patristic idea that baptism is a seal which marks out the members of Christ’s flock and the soldier thing that’s all from common patristic idea of the, of baptism as a seal.
    Q: But doesn’t – –
    A: The baptism, baptism claims them as sheep. Will some of those sheep wander away? Will some of those sheep fall away? I think yes.

    Again, I really would like to see the primary source for this quote in question, because “regenerating ordinance” is definitely stronger language than “brand”:

    “Baptism into membership in the community of Christ therefore also confers the arrabon of the spirit and in this sense too it a regenerating ordinance.” (quoted by the prosecution, p. 188)

  113. David Gadbois said,

    October 31, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    1. Jack, do you really not sense that your reading of Leithart is desperately optimistic? The section you quote does not imply that Leithart is defining arrabon as an outward branding. “Branding” is not even in the semantic range of the Greek word.

    Stellman asks Leithart about being branded as Christ’s sheep not as a way of “clarifying” what arrabon means, but as a follow-up to the quotation that immediately preceded: “The baptized is enlisted in Christ’s army, invested to be Christ’s servant and made a member of the royal priesthood and given a station in the royal court branded as a sheep of Christ flock.”

    2. Even if Leithart is putting his own peculiar spin on “arrabon”, it has no biblical basis as I pointed out above. It occurs in Ephesians 1 and twice in II Corinthians, and none of these uses are compatible with Leithart’s conception.

    3. If you had read Lane’s written testimony, you would know that the original quote from Leithart concerning the arrabon being conveyed to non-elect covenant members is from Priesthood of the Plebs, p. 171. I suggest everyone read it.

  114. Eileen said,

    October 31, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Can anyone cite a source where “arrabon” means something other than a transaction which is a representative part of a greater transaction which both parties expect will be ultimately fully consummated? I haven’t been able to find one. Why would the Holy Spirit convey His “arrabon” to someone He does not intend to bring to complete glorification?

    It seems that to say that the “arrabon” might not be ultimately followed by completion of the contemplated transaction–the deal might not ultimately close in glorification–seems to empty it of any real significance under a monergistic view. Or maybe I’m missing something.

  115. Reed Here said,

    October 31, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Jack: I’m still waiting for acknowledgement that Berkhof and Leithart do not in fact agree on regeneration. Your quoting of Berkhof in support of Leithart is just ridiculous.

    The FV process of equivocation is at best mere sloppiness. I pray it not be at worst. The inability (at least) to speak plainly and clearly in the first place is more than a shame! The response of equivocation with equivocation is worse.

    Why do you defend this?

  116. Jack Bradley said,

    October 31, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    David,
    I’ll defer to your interpretation for now. And thank you for the original source citation. I cannot, however defer to Lane’s interpretation of Leithart’s quote: “Baptism into membership in the community of Christ therefore also confers the arrabon of the Spirit, and in this sense too is a ‘regenerating’ ordinance. There can be no ‘merely social’ membership in this family.”

    Comment [Keister]: . . . “Leithart ties the efficacy of baptism to the moment of its administration by calling it a regenerating ordinance. This is contrary to WCF 28.6, which tells us that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the moment of its administration.”

    The first reason I can’t agree with Lane’s interpretation is that Leithart says this (trial transcript): “The prosecution also claims that my views conflict with 28:6 of the Westminster Confession. And I have no disagreement at all with 28:6.”

    The second reason that I cannot agree with Lane, is that by his interpretation Horton would also be susceptible to similar criticism:

    Modern Reformation, 1997 http://tinyurl.com/3dqy3rm
    Michael Horton:

    . . . “we read the biblical passages referring to Baptism as ‘the washing of regeneration’ or to the Supper as “the communion of the body and blood of Christ.” Why must we apologize for these passages and attempt to explain them away? Our confessions do not do this. Our liturgical forms (if we still use them) do not do this, but we feel compelled to diminish them these days.”

    . . . “The sign is not the thing signified, but is so united by God’s Word and Spirit that the waters of Baptism can be said to be the washing of regeneration and the bread and wine can be said to be the body and blood of Christ.”
    . . . “read the passages, where Baptism is called “remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), and those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mk. 16:16). Paul announced, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). The Sacrament and faith were not separated in Paul’s mind, for apart from the latter the benefits of the former were not received although the Sacrament was performed.”

    Leithart makes the same kinds of qualifications about the sacrament not being separate from faith, etc. And Horton is definitely saying here that baptism is a “regenerating ordinance.

    We can continue asking what Leithart means by his use of arrabon, but I find it interesting that Lane did not appear to find fault with it, as he does the with “regenerating ordinance.”

    Is baptism not A regenerating ordinance?

  117. greenbaggins said,

    November 1, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Jack, a couple of things here. First, Horton does not call baptism a regenerating ordinance. In the quotation you have there, he is talking about sacramental language, which is a distinct thing. Secondly, if all we needed to settle the question of confessional orthodoxy was the FV’ers’ CLAIM of confessional orthodoxy, then we could all have been done a long time ago. The problem is that a claim is all it is. There is no argument on the part of Leithart to prove that his view does not contradict the standards. For my part, I would argue that it is quite clear that Leithart ties the efficacy of baptism to the moment of its admistration. For fuller proof, see the rest of my testimony. The confession clearly says that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the moment of its administration. They cannot both be correct.

  118. Jack Bradley said,

    November 1, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Lane, Yes, Horton does not call baptism a regenerating ordinance, but he certainly *describes* it as such, not only in the above quotes, but also in his book, Covenant and Salvation, p. 233:

    “… against the Lutheran view, Reformed theology does not necessarily tie regeneration to the moment of baptism, while also rejecting the Anabaptist position that children not yet capable of the act of faith are therefore incapable of receiving the seed of faith. . . he still speaks of baptism as somehow being the instrument through which the Spirit plants the seed of faith and repentance.”

    “… the instrument through which the spirit plants…” You may not like Leithart’s terminology, but Horton is describing “a regenerating ordinance.”

    Horton, Modern Reformation: “The sign is not the thing signified, but is so united by God’s Word and Spirit that the waters of Baptism can be said to be the washing of regeneration…”

    Yes, as you say, that is sacramental language, “Why must we apologize for these passages and attempt to explain them away?” Horton asks. Leithart’s conviction is that we have attempted to explain them away, which I believe you are doing when you say “sacramental language” and “regenerating ordinance” are two distinctly different things.

    You wrote: “For my part, I would argue that it is quite clear that Leithart ties the efficacy of baptism to the moment of its administration.”

    It may be quite clear to you, but it is quite clear to me that he does NOT tie the regenerating efficacy of baptism to the moment of its administration, opere operato, each and every time baptism is applied.

    He does, without apology, tie an ecclesiastical/visible church efficacy to baptism, with which I heartily agree, (as do Collins, Barker, and Letham, as I read them):

    Q: So, we’ve heard several times today that you hold to a view that baptism works ex opere operato by the work worked. Is that your view?
    A: With regard to entry into the church, yes. I think that a person who is baptized is by virtue of that right because this is Christ’s right of entry into the Church, a member of the church and has certain privileges as a result of that entry. As far as being eternally saved, regeneration in the classic confessional sense, no I don’t believe that.

  119. November 1, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Jack you wrote in quoting Mike Horton:

    “… against the Lutheran view, Reformed theology does not necessarily tie regeneration to the moment of baptism, while also rejecting the Anabaptist position that children not yet capable of the act of faith are therefore incapable of receiving the seed of faith. . . he still speaks of baptism as somehow being the instrument through which the Spirit plants the seed of faith and repentance.”

    You closed the quotation after the words: “he still speaks of baptism as somehow being the instrument through which the Spirit plants the seed of faith and repentance.”

    Are those Mike Horton’s words? If so, who is the “he” to whom Mike refers?

    Horton, Modern Reformation: “The sign is not the thing signified, but is so united by God’s Word and Spirit that the waters of Baptism can be said to be the washing of regeneration…”

    That the waters of baptism can be said to be the washing of regeneration is merely saying that the Bible often attributes to the sign the thing signified, which does not imply that the sign is a converting ordinance.

  120. November 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Also – what is this visible church efficacy of which you suggest Dr. Letham speaks? And whatever it is, shouldn’t any visible church efficacy be distinguished from a theology that posits that the non-elect can share in the same spirit-wrought union with Christ (invisible efficacy) as the converted?

  121. November 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

    The first reason I can’t agree with Lane’s interpretation is that Leithart says this (trial transcript): “The prosecution also claims that my views conflict with 28:6 of the Westminster Confession. And I have no disagreement at all with 28:6.”

    Jack, I probably should have placed these three posts of mine in a single post. So, if you respond, please feel free to do so only once. :)

    It seems to me that you’re saying that Lane’s interpretation of Leithart is invalidated because Leithart claims to be confessional. Even if Leithart is confessional, saying so doesn’t make him so; nor would his saying so make Lane’s interpretation of Leithart false, would it?

  122. Ron Henzel said,

    November 1, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Berkhof wrote:

    But baptism is more than a sign and a seal; it is as such also a means of grace. According to Reformed theology it is not, as the Roman Catholics claim, the means of initiating the work of grace in the heart, but it is a means for the strengthening of it.

    [Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1938; 1996), 641.]

  123. Jack Bradley said,

    November 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    blogspot: Are those Mike Horton’s words? If so, who is the “he” to whom Mike refers?

    Thanks, I should have caught that. He’s referring to Calvin.

    blogspot: That the waters of baptism can be said to be the washing of regeneration is merely saying that the Bible often attributes to the sign the thing signified, which does not imply that the sign is a converting ordinance.

    Horton: “Reformed theology does not *necessarily* tie regeneration to the moment of baptism. . .”

    Horton is saying more here than you think he is.

  124. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Jack, if Horton and Leithart agree, then why would Horton testify for the prosecution? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that Horton is saying something different from Leithart here? That at minimum, Horton believes so?

    I appreciate very much the zeal to defend the honor of a brother accused of something weighty. But a defense is going to have to be cogent and compelling, especially given that the SJC has already set some parameters in the Wilkins case.

    If the SJC takes this up, they will undoubtedly push the issue of what “regenerating ordinance” means.

    That issue will ultimately lead to questions about what Leithart means by saying

    As I see it, the Federal Vision’s central affirmation is this: Without qualification or hedging, the church is the Body of Christ. Everything the Federal Vision says about baptism, about soteriology, about apostasy flows from this. — The Baptized Body p. ix, emph orig.

    They will want to understand how it is that Leithart denies the “external/internal” category (ibid pp. 88ff.) of Calvin, and yet retains the Calvinic language of sacraments. Doesn’t reworking the meaning of the term “church” also entail a re-working of what it means to belong to the church, and to receive the sacraments of the church, and to participate in the benefits belong to members of the church?

    *That* is what the defense will have to face. Can you, as his defender, countenance a redefinition of the word “church”, such that the visible church is without qualification the bride of Christ, and then fail to admit that this requires entirely new meanings of the terms “union with Christ”, “justification”, and “sacramental efficacy”?

    As Leithart himself said, everything flows out of the Federal Vision understanding of the word “church.” If you compare, as I mentioned earlier, the WLC delineation of the benefits of membership in invisible and visible churches, you will notice that what Leithart has done is to transfer the benefits of belonging to the invisible church, over into the benefits of belonging to The Church, without qualification.

    Is that Reformed? Isn’t it the case that the visible/invisible distinction was a vital point of the Reformation? The basic distinction between visible and invisible is knocked out by Leithart and replaced with historical/eschatological.

    Is that Scriptural? Is it Reformed?

  125. Reed Here said,

    November 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Jack: do you acknowledge that Berkhof disagrees with you (and Leithart), to wit: that baptism IS NOT a regenerating means of grace?

  126. November 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Horton: “Reformed theology does not *necessarily* tie regeneration to the moment of baptism. . .”

    Horton is saying more here than you think he is.

    I think he’s simply saying that there is no causal necessity between water and regeneration yet God may be pleased to index regeneration and conversion to the visible-gospel of water working in conjunction with the exegesis that flows from the Word. All of that stands in stark contrast with the idea of unbelievers and believers sharing in the same union with Christ through water and visible membership.

  127. Jack Bradley said,

    November 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I think he’s [Horton] simply saying that there is no causal necessity between water and regeneration yet God may be pleased to index regeneration and conversion to the visible-gospel of water working in conjunction with the exegesis that flows from the Word.

    Well said, blogspot. And I think that is what Leithart is saying by “regenerating ordinance” Do you really perceive him saying “ex opera operato”: each and every time baptism is administered, regeneration occurs, at that moment??

    If that’s how you read him, you obviously haven’t read much of him. The burden of proof is definitely on you, not me, to demonstrate that. The prosecution definitely did not demonstrate it.

    Blogspot: Isn’t it the case that the visible/invisible distinction was a vital point of the Reformation?

    Yes, I couldn’t agree more. Neither could Leithart:

    http://pnwp.org/images/resources/8-defense-pre-trial-brief.pdf:

    “According to the WCF 28.1, baptism admits the baptized into the visible church, and that is invariably true. Even the rankest hypocrite who is baptized under false pretenses is made a member of the visible church. Further, WCF 25.2 says that the visible church is the “kingdom” and “family” of God. Therefore, the Confession teaches, as I claim, that the baptized are brought into the family of the Father. This emphasis is fully in accord with the tradition of Reformed Confessional statements regarding baptism.”

    Reed, I haven’t forgotten your Berkhof question. I’ll get to it when I get some more time.

  128. November 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    My Brother, at the very least, if that is all Leithart is trying to say (i.e. what I’m saying) and nobody as far as I know is trying to track me down for having a magical view of the sacraments, why do you suppose all the confusion? Certainly the prosecution realized that “Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.”

    Yes, the visible church is called in that instance the family of God (out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation), which sadly is something neglected by too many professing evangelicals, but notwithstanding to gloss over existential union or not to make clear that the unconverted do not possess any such union seems to get to the point of contention. Any such confusion as that could have been cleaned up with an economy of words.

  129. November 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Well said, blogspot. And I think that is what Leithart is saying by “regenerating ordinance” Do you really perceive him saying “ex opera operato”: each and every time baptism is administered, regeneration occurs, at that moment??

    Maybe not, but I can read that to mean that every time conversion obtains, baptism is the cause. I’ve even seen some in the Reformed camp argue for retroactive baptism when conversion occurs prior to water! I think I’ve seen it asserted on this site, not by the mods of course but by another somewhat frequent visitor.

  130. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    That would be me.

    And by it, I mean that what baptism signs and signifies, has taken place when the believer has believed. So baptism is applied, having already been effectual in those cases.

    I also realize I hold a lonely post on that point of view. :)

  131. November 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    You’re an honest man, Jeff, and actually were the impetus for this. :v)

  132. November 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    If I may Mods:

    Just as it is hazardous to build a doctrine of baptism from Scripture simply by examining verses having to do with water, it is equally dangerous to try to build a robust view of baptism by simply looking at one chapter in the Confession.

    Whenever union with Christ is present, so is saving faith (and visa versa). The WCF teaches that saving faith is “ordinarily” wrought by the ministry of the Word. The Confession most unambiguously steps out and discloses a view on God’s ordinary means of conferring the instrumental cause of justification, which is always accompanied by all the benefits of Christ’s work of redemption. There is no mention of the sacraments in this chapter on saving faith, other than teaching that the sacraments (along with prayer) strengthen, but do not produce, that which we receive by faith (not baptism!). Even more significant is that in its chapter on effectual calling, the Confession also indexes effectually calling not to baptism, but to Word and Spirit. In effectual calling, wrought by Word and Spirit and not baptism, the Confession teaches that God replaces the unbelieving heart of stone with a regenerate heart of flesh, the very work that many want to attribute to the rite of baptism. In a word, the Confession attributes that which baptism signs and seals not to the sign and seal of baptism but to the effectual working of Word and Spirit. The sacraments along with prayer serve to strengthen these realities (that are effected by other means than baptism).

    At the very least, those with FV tendencies have irreconcilable differences with the Westminster standards. That is because they will not make conscience of the Confession’s teaching that sacraments in general and baptism in particular are “efficacious” in that they “confirm(!)” our interest in Christ, which we inherit through the effectual working of Word and Spirit, which together unite us to Christ. The chapter on the sacraments plainly teaches that baptism is a confirmatory seal and not a converting ordinance. Baptism confirms that which Word promises and Word and Spirit effect. The role of the sacraments are not intended to effect that which the Confession teaches is offered in Word and effected by Word and Spirit, but rather they are to effect the confirmation of what is effected by Word and Spirit. In other words, the Confession teaches that together Word and Spirit effect the reality (union with Christ), and the sacraments effect the confirmation of that effectuated reality.

    All of that is not to say that conversion cannot be accompanied by baptism or that baptism cannot be given increase by the intelligible Word, resulting in Word-Spirit conversion. Notwithstanding, the Confession explicitly states that the gift of saving faith is ordinarily wrought through the administration of the Word (as opposed to baptism) and that the precursor to faith, effectual calling (wherein a sinner is recreated in Christ) comes not by baptism but by Word and Spirit. The place of baptism in particular is that by Word and Spirit it “confirms” that which is granted to us in our effectual calling etc. So, in sum, when we read in chapter 28 of the Confession about the efficacy of baptism, we must interpret “efficacy” according to chapter 27 on the sacraments, which states that the role of baptism is to confirm our interest in the offered promise, and not to effect what the promise contemplates. We must interpret Confession by conmparing it with Confession, no less than we are to interpret Scripture by Scripture.

    Sacraments effect confirmation, plain and simple. They are not given to make effectual the reality of what is confirmed in the sacrament. Sacraments don’t create; they by grace sustain. Again though, baptism may certainly accompany the converting work of Word and Spirit, but it need not even do that in the life of the believer.

  133. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Jack (#127): Blogspot JRC: Isn’t it the case that the visible/invisible distinction was a vital point of the Reformation?

    Yes, I couldn’t agree more. Neither could Leithart:

    “… Even the rankest hypocrite who is baptized under false pretenses is made a member of the visible church…” [PL, pre-trial brief]

    Where is the distinction precisely? You perhaps charitably read it into the statement that even hypocrites are brought into the visible church; perhaps you are thinking that ‘of course, hypocrites are not part of the invisible church, so therefore Leithart is making the distinction there.’

    But he doesn’t actually come out and confess that there is an aspect of the present-day church that is invisible. He does not confess that there are benefits to belonging to the invisible church (WLC 69) that are not shared by the reprobate within the visible church (WLC 63).

    If you think I’m parsing too closely, then consider:

    I’m proposing to answer these questions [about baptism] with three axioms: …

    (2) The “body of Christ” is the body of Christ. When the New Testament writers call the church “the body of Christ”, they mean the visible or historical church is the Body of Christ — Baptized Body 32.

    The distinction has vanished. The Bible never speaks of “the body of Christ” with reference to the invisible church. There is nothing — that he has spoken of — that is particularly true at the present time about those who are members of the invisible church. There is no distinction of benefits.

    Here’s the problem with doing due diligence in this case. We want, or we should want, for Leithart to be genuinely orthodox and thus to be found so. Charity demands this of us.

    At the same time, we want, or should want to be on the alert concerning doctrines that “strike at the vitals of religion.” Being an elder demands this of us.

    In PL’s case, he has stated:

    Others, such as myself, are more critical of some aspects of traditional Reformed theology and suggest revisions, some of which have radical and wide-ranging implications — Baptized Body ix

    Given that statement, it seems prudent that first, we establish what those revisions are; and then after, we see whether those revisions can be harmonized with Scripture and the Reformed faith.

    In my case, I have identified a positive revision in both PLs writings and in the Joint FV Statement that seems to me to be a positive departure from the Reformed faith.

    We affirm that there is only one true Church, and that this Church can legitimately be considered under various descriptions, including the aspects of visible and invisible. We further affirm that the visible Church is the true Church of Christ, and not an “approximate” Church. — FV Joint Statement

    The denial that the visible church is approximate in any sense, and that affirmation that the VC is the true Church of Christ, has “radical and wide-ranging implications”, and seems to me to strike at the vitals of the Reformed faith. It is the Ursprung.

    And for that reason, as charitable as I wish to be, I feel compelled to take a hard look at PL’s statements.

    The “body of Christ == visible church” framework changes the meaning of many of PL’s statements, just as the (more extreme!) denial of the resurrection changed the meaning of many of Bultmann’s sermons.

  134. November 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    “We affirm that there is only one true Church, and that this Church can legitimately be considered under various descriptions, including the aspects of visible and invisible.”

    Yes Jeff, I believe that is one of the most troubling statements of the FV. The statement communicates that there is only one church, which can be described in terms of its being visible and invisible. The implication of such a construct is that the invisible church and the visible church are the same church. From that false premise comes much confusion and outright error. To make the point more clearly, consider the following modification of the statement: We affirm that there is only one true God, and that this God can legitimately be considered under various descriptions, including the aspects of transcendence and immanence. The modified statement, which uses the same construct of the FV statement, clearly communicates that the one transcendent God is the same God as the immanent God. That is true. Transcendence and immanence are simply two aspects of the one God. Is the FV statement true in this way? Is the visible church the same church as the invisible church? The FV statement clearly implies that they are one and the same; for it states that there is “only one true Church” that can be described in various ways, like visible and invisible. How can they claim such a theology and also claim to be Reformed?

    In contrast to FV theology, now consider Reformed theology: “The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all…The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”

    Note the difference. Within Reformed theology the invisible and visible churches are not the same church. The invisible church consists of the elect who will all possess Christ, whereas the visible church consists of those who profess Christ. On that basis alone, the FV may not be considered “Reformed” in any sense of the word.

  135. Jack Bradley said,

    November 1, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    blogspot: if that is all Leithart is trying to say . . why do you suppose all the confusion?

    I’m sure Leithart’s presbytery is asking this same question.

    In the meantime, Horton is still asking this question: “we read the biblical passages referring to Baptism as ‘the washing of regeneration’ or to the Supper as “the communion of the body and blood of Christ.” Why must we apologize for these passages and attempt to explain them away? Our confessions do not do this.

  136. Jack Bradley said,

    November 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Brothers, Leithart has a robust doctrine of the visible church-shared by Barker, Collins, and Letham, BTW. Ironically, that has gotten him into trouble, even though the prosecution didn’t have trouble with his robust view here, which seems to be the center of the issue:

    … it is clear that the Bible indicates that some are united to Christ and are later cut off. Even the Minority Report admits as much: “TE Leithart is certainly correct to highlight the covenantal nature of the relationship between the Vine and the branches in John 15, and he is also correct in pointing out that even reprobate members of the VISIBLE church experience certain common operations of the Holy Spirit.” (emphasis mine)

    Todd has a robust doctrine of the visible church:

    “I want to answer the question, “What is the meaning of baptism for those who fall away from the faith and prove themselves unbelievers?” This applies both to adult converts or covenant children who grow up and apostatize. Did that baptism mean anything? The answer is yes. Turn to Hebrews chapter 10. . . The Bible teaches that baptism is a sealing of a covenant relationship God has established. “If you do not have a doctrine of the visible church you will get in much trouble with this verse. [Heb. 10:29] The person in this text who falls into God’s judgment has been baptized, he has been sanctified in a covenant relationship with God.”

    …'”covenant children who grow up and apostatize. . . baptized. . . sanctified in a covenant relationship with God.”

    That view of the visible church is no less robust than Leithart’s.

  137. November 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Jack – I have a pretty robust view of the visible church. For example I don’t think we are to regard infants as vipers in diapers. I think we’re to baptize them because they are to be regarded as already having an interest in the covenant, but that doesn’t mean I consider the visible and invisible church the same church, or that I think that all within the visible share in all the same benefits of Christ. It’s one thing to affirm this and this, but it’s quite another thing to affirm FV.

    In the final analysis, Reformed teaching has always had a robust view of the visible church, but FV clearly crosses the line by blurring the differences between the visible and invisible church, and in the process suggesting that Reformed was “not enough.” I’m afraid they collapsed their soteriology into their ecclesiology.

  138. Brian Kimmel said,

    November 1, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Jeff (#133) I suggest you consider the PCA’s own BCO. Preliminary principle three simply states that the visible church is Christ’s body:

    3. Our blessed Saviour, for the edification of the visible Church, which is His body, has appointed officers not only to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments, but also to exercise discipline for the preservation both of truth and duty. It is incumbent upon these officers and upon the whole Church in whose name they act, to censure or cast out the erroneous and scandalous, observing in all cases the rules contained in the Word of God.

    If that equation is a departure from the Reformed faith, then American Presbyterians made that departure in 1789. But I don’t think that’s true, it’s more likely that your objection is simply in error itself.

  139. November 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Brian,

    What’s the alternative, that the we appoint officers over the invisible church? Again, we are to regard the visible church as the church, Christs body, Murray’s point, but that doesn’t mean that those who are grafted out lose their salvation. Contrary to FV, they went out from us because they were not truly of us.

  140. Jack Bradley said,

    November 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    FV clearly crosses the line by blurring the differences between the visible and invisible church.

    In your view, blogspot, but not in Leithart’s presbytery’s view.

  141. November 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Jack,

    FV wasn’t on trial, Leithart was. I was speaking about FV in that remark, which includes some pretty reckless theological statements. This is when FV proponents say there is no FV, just like it’s been said that there is no mafia.

  142. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 1, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Brian, duly considered. You could also add in the Confession, which says that the visible church is the household and kingdom of God.

    This is all good.

    But it’s also not the end. We find that the visible church is qualified to consist of those who profess the faith, and their benefits are enumerated (WLC 63); and a contrast is drawn with the invisible church, which is also qualified.

    Leithart insists that the visible church without qualification (his words) is the church of the Bible.

    That’s just not the same. However strong we may want to be on the VC — and I’m strong enough on the visible church that some have mistaken me for a Federal Visionary — still and all, there is a difference between saying that “the visible church is the church of God” and “the visible church without qualification is the church of God.”

  143. Brian Kimmel said,

    November 1, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Jeff, the problem I have with your position is that I don’t see it being supported by scripture. Wherever we see references to the church it’s the visible church under the ordinary means of grace. In Romans Paul draws distinctions between outward circumcision and inward circumcision and states that not all Israel is of Israel. The context shows that this is a distinction within the church, as he replies to the obvious objection and declares that the Jew has great advantages and circumcision has great value.

    Saying that the visible church without qualification is the church of God therefore is the correct view. The qualifications are not over where the boundaries of the covenant lie, but within it.

  144. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 1, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Brian, I wonder which points in my position you view as not being supported by Scripture. Here are the points I’ve laid out or implied:

    * There is distinction between the church as God sees it, which is the invisible church, and the church as man sees it, which is the visible church. (I agree with Murray’s one church, two views scheme)
    * This distinction is not coextensive with a eschatological/historical scheme.
    * That which makes one a member of the church as God sees it is saving faith; that which makes one a member of the church as man sees it is a profession of faith.
    * There is distinction between the benefits that one receives in being a member of the church visibly (or outwardly to use the Rom 2 language) and a member of the church invisibly (or inwardly).

    And most importantly:

    If “Saying that the visible church without qualification is the church of God therefore is the correct view”, then why does every single Reformed source from Luther onwards make qualifications such as the ones I’ve made here when discussing the visible church?

  145. David Gadbois said,

    November 1, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Jack said That [Todd's] view of the visible church is no less robust than Leithart’s

    Surely this is material you are trying out on us for your stand-up act.

    Todd’s statement ’”covenant children who grow up and apostatize. . . baptized. . . sanctified in a covenant relationship with God”, a perfectly sensible and orthodox statement, doesn’t come within 1,000 miles of the status that Leithart imputes to non-elect covenant members. Jack, this has been thoroughly documented, in eye-watering detail, in the past 4 of Lane’s posts, in Jason Stellman’s recent posts, and quite comprehensively in the trial documents, especially Lane’s testimony. I can only conclude that you haven’t availed yourself of these sources or simply are not being honest in your defenses of Leithart and just trying to score points with these diversionary tactics.

    The honest reader can simply compare Todd’s statement to some Leithart lowlights here.

  146. Jack Bradley said,

    November 1, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Jeff and Brian, I found this helpful:

    Leithart, The Baptized Body, chapter 3: http://tinyurl.com/3orlyvk

    “When we frame the question as ‘is Paul or Peter or John talking about the visible or invisible church?’ we tie ourselves in knots. How can we tell whether Paul is addressing the elect within the church or the whole church? We can’t.
    But when we ask, ‘Is John or Peter or Paul talking about the historical or the eschatological church’ it’s a question we can answer. Any passage that deals with a church that is a mixed community; any passage that describes the structures, institutions, and government of the church; any passage that deals with the rites and ceremonies of the church is about the historical church, the empirical community of believers made up of local communities of believers.
    . . . I submit there is only one place where the word ‘body’ with reference to the church might possibly refer to the eschatological body of the elect—Ephesians 1:23. . . Otherwise, when it refers to a communion of people, ‘body of Christ’ refers, quite straightforwardly, to a visible, historical community of professing believers.”

  147. Jack Bradley said,

    November 1, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Okay, David, I concede. Leithart does take the visible church more seriously than Todd.

  148. todd said,

    November 1, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Jack,

    Reading you reminds me of a Homer Simpson quote:

    Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals…except the weasel.

  149. Jack Bradley said,

    November 1, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Thanks, Todd. Love you too, bro.

  150. Jack Bradley said,

    November 1, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Reed asked: do you acknowledge that Berkhof disagrees with you (and Leithart), to wit: that baptism IS NOT a regenerating means of grace?

    Reed, I don’t disagree with Berkhof, nor does Leithart. Berkhof is absolutely right: the reprobate does “not experience the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit…”

    That wasn’t the issue addressed by Lane: “Leithart ties the efficacy of baptism to the moment of its administration by calling it a regenerating ordinance. This is contrary to WCF 28.6, which tells us that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the moment of its administration.”

  151. David Gadbois said,

    November 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Jack said Jeff and Brian, I found this helpful

    I don’t know how statements so manifestly wrong are helpful. This is just digging the ditch deeper.

    When we frame the question as ‘is Paul or Peter or John talking about the visible or invisible church?’ we tie ourselves in knots. How can we tell whether Paul is addressing the elect within the church or the whole church?

    Doing the normal work of an exegete and looking at the context of a given text is hardly tying oneself in knots. This quote does not actually supply us with any reason why the unconfessional categories of historical vs. eschatological church have an interpretive leg up on the confessional categories of visible vs. invisible church.

    Also, note that WCF only imputes the terms “body” and “bride” to the invisible church, not the visible.

    I submit there is only one place where the word ‘body’ with reference to the church might possibly refer to the eschatological body of the elect—Ephesians 1:23. . . Otherwise, when it refers to a communion of people, ‘body of Christ’ refers, quite straightforwardly, to a visible, historical community of professing believers.”

    This is assertion in lieu or argument and clearly false to anyone who takes even a cursory look at the relevant texts. Ephesians 1 should have been Leithart’s first clue, and not simply dismissed as an anomalous exception. Along with Colossians 1:18, 24 and Ephesians 5:23, Ephesians 1:23 is one of the very few places that Scripture directly identifies the ecclesia as the body of Christ, and in all of these instances it can only refer to the elect.

    The very point of Ephesians 1 is the predestination of the elect. Colossians 1 speaks of Christ’s afflictions and suffering on behalf of the church. In Ephesians 5 Christ is the head and Savior of the church, and “gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

  152. David Gadbois said,

    November 1, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Jack, your evasive response to Reed in #150 is proof positive that you are not here to debate these matters in good faith. I am starting to wonder why we should allow you to continue posting, unless you change your tune.

  153. November 2, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Some thoughts about all this “expert” witness nonsense:

    http://www.creedcodecult.com/2011/11/expert-witnesses-and-lay-juries.html

  154. Jack Bradley said,

    November 2, 2011 at 4:42 am

    David,

    “proof positive?” You really need to substantiate when you use words like “evasive” and accuse me of a lack of good faith. Those imply motive. If the moderators want like to kick me off, that’s your prerogative, but you really should at least attempt to make a case, not just toss out accusations.

  155. Jack Bradley said,

    November 2, 2011 at 4:56 am

    Blogspot: “Sacraments effect confirmation, plain and simple. They are not given to make effectual the reality of what is confirmed in the sacrament.”

    Blogspot, I appreciate your emphasis on the sacraments as confirming signs and seals, but there really is more to them than that. Horton helps us see that in his Modern Reformation article:

    From the mid-sixteenth-century confessions to the Westminster Confession of 1647, the entire confessional testimony of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches defends the objective character of the Sacraments as means of grace. The Scots Confession of 1560 declares, “And so we utterly condemn the vanity of those who affirm the sacraments to be nothing else than naked and bare signs. No, we assuredly believe that by Baptism we are engrafted into Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his righteousness, by which our sins are covered.

    . . The Second Helvetic Confession reminds us that what is given in the Sacraments is not merely “a bare and naked sign,” but Christ himself, with all of his saving benefits. It warns against the “sects,” who “despise the visible aspect of the sacraments,” exclusively concerned with the invisible (Ch. 19). The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England repeat their sister churches in affirming this point (Art. 25). “The sacraments become effectual means of salvation,” according to the Westminster Larger Catechism, “not by any power in themselves or any virtue derived from the piety or intention of him by whom they are administered; only by the working of the Holy Ghost, and the blessing of Christ by whom they are instituted” (Q.161).

    Moving to our day, most Reformed theologians have upheld the confessions. Princeton’s A. A. Hodge wrote, “Christ uses these sacraments, not only to represent and seal, but also actually to apply, the benefits of his redemption to believers.”

    . . . A subtle Docetism (the ancient gnostic heresy that denied Christ’s true humanity) lurks behind our reticence to see these common earthly elements as signs that are linked to the things they signify. Surely the Sacraments can remind us of grace, help us to appreciate grace, and exhort us to walk in grace, but do they actually give us the grace promised in the Gospel? The Reformed and Presbyterian confessions answer “yes” without hesitation: A Sacrament not only consists of the signs (water, bread and wine), but of the things signified (new birth, forgiveness, life everlasting).

    . . . The sign is not the thing signified, but is so united by God’s Word and Spirit that the waters of Baptism can be said to be the washing of regeneration. . . ”

    http://tinyurl.com/3dqy3rm

    Again, you may not like Leithart’s terminology, but Horton is describing “a regenerating ordinance.”

  156. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 2, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Guys, I don’t see the need to begrudge Jack his defense of PL. Of course he doesn’t agree with you (or me).

    Just saying.

  157. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 2, 2011 at 6:23 am

    Jack,

    Perhaps you’ve already done so, but take a look at the context of that exact quote. In the discussion on pp. 54ff, he argues that the teaching in the Confession on the visible/invisible distinction is self-contradictory and needs to be modified.

    He is most definitely aiming at replacing the Confessional theology with a theology that is (in his view) more Biblical (“Alternative”, p. 56).

    Part of that theology is that “the truth of the gospel depends on claiming that the historical, visible, empirical church is the people united as members to the Incarnate Son by the Spirit of the Father” (57).

    He’s within his rights to do so, but he also has a humongous burden of proof to shoulder.

    But more importantly, if you want to provide a cogent defense of him, you will have to acknowledge that he’s deliberately stepping outside of Westminster on the theology of the church. He is most definitely not retaining the same theology but wrapping it in different words, which seems to have been the burden of both your defense as well as Rayburn’s.

  158. Jack Bradley said,

    November 2, 2011 at 7:05 am

    I appreciate that perspective, Jeff. Leithart does indeed make a case for modification, at least in our understanding, of the Confession’s visible/invisible distinction. I just can’t see it as some do, as somehow “striking at the vitals”. I think his historical/eschatological approach is very helpful.

  159. November 2, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Jack,

    I could defend Horton on that front with little effort I’m sure, like by pointing out that he has written (somewhere) that baptism kindles the faith by which we are justified. He, also, has said in so many words (somewhere) that he would slant his polemic depending upon whether he was speaking to a non-Reformed evangelical or a sect that thought baptism saves. I was sitting by a pool over ten years ago when I read the article in Modern Reformation, and I found it quite good if memory serves. In any case, let a Reformed man make qualifications and refinements and you might find them in disagreement with you and not affirming what you say. But rather than get off track, do you affirm this quote without remainder or qualification, which you were so pleased to display as your position: “by Baptism we are engrafted into Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his righteousness, by which our sins are covered”? If so, then it might appear you are affirming a magical view of the sacraments – again because you offer no qualification to the quote. That seems to be the problem, Jack. You want to make statements without qualification, which is to reject a proper use of systematic theology. After all these years – after giving them the benefit of the doubt whenever I could, I believe FV proponents do such things either in order to hide some things; because they’re muddled; and / or because they don’t seek the peace and unity of the church. I’m not prepared to lump them in with Rome, but in some respects they are no different.

  160. November 2, 2011 at 8:03 am

    I just can’t see it as some do, as somehow “striking at the vitals”.

    It strikes at the “vitals” if for no other reason than there is no place to ground assurance of faith if both the elect and non-elect have the same “sap” from the vine running through them. We can know we’re saved and will be saved until the end because His spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are sons in Christ now and that all who are saved now will persevere. Please grasp this, Jack. Assurance of final salvation comes from assurance of current salvation + assurance of the Bible’s teaching that nobody can pluck a convert out of Jesus’ hand. Yet if some who are in Christ now can lose their salvation later, then nobody who is currently saved can count on final adoption. That, of course, leads to a doctrine of saved by grace and kept by works.

  161. Jack Bradley said,

    November 2, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Blogspot wrote: “do you affirm this quote without remainder or qualification, which you were so pleased to display as your position: “by Baptism we are engrafted into Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his righteousness, by which our sins are covered”? If so, then it might appear you are affirming a magical view of the sacraments.”

    Yes, I do affirm it, but of COURSE with the NECESSARY biblical confessional qualifications.

    If that means I have a magical view, so does Horton. This quote is no stronger than language he uses in his article, or that Richard Pratt uses in his article:

    Richard Pratt” http://tinyurl.com/43urhgu

    “In the language of the Bible, spiritual realities such as rebirth, renewal, forgiveness, salvation, and union with Christ are intimately associated with the rite of baptism.”

    These men, along with Leithart, offer the necessary qualifications. But there is such a thing as qualification unto death, as Horton points out in this same article:

    “In many conservative Reformed and Presbyterian circles, it is as if the prescribed forms for Baptism and the Supper were too high in their sacramental theology, so the minister feels compelled to counter its strong ‘means of grace’ emphasis. In this way, the Sacraments die the death of a thousand qualifications.”

    I continues to ask Horton’s question: “Why must we apologize for these passages and attempt to explain them away? Our confessions do not do this.”

  162. Jack Bradley said,

    November 2, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Blogspot, 160

    So, you really think Leithart is saying that the elect can lose their salvation?

    If that’s really how you read him, there’s really not a lot to say.

    Since you mentioned assurance, I will say that this is the very thing at the heart of what drives his questioning of the visible/invisible paradigm:

    “What are we allowed to say to our children? May we tell them that their sins are forgiven? May we tell them that God accepts them and counts them righteous? Should we assure them that they are beloved? Can we tell them they belong to Jesus and are united to Him? On the Minority Report’s position, it appears that we are not allowed to say any of these things with assurance. Union with Christ, justification and forgiveness are special benefits of the invisible church, and we have no way of knowing that our children are members of that community. But the promise is to us and to our children. They are covenant children, and God is their God.”

    http://pnwp.org/images/resources/defense-ex-7-leithart-response-to-pnw-committee-oct-08.pdf :

  163. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 2, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Jack, I appreciate that we disagree on this matter. I would associate myself with Bob’s comments in #160, and will make my final appeal in this way and then retire the field.

    * The difference between the classic visible/invisible distinction and the Leithart historical/eschatological distinction is the difference between scope and time.

    In the V/I schema, the VC is genuinely God’s church viewed from man’s point of view (Calvin’s words, not mine), consisting of a set of people who profess faith. They receive therefore certain benefits. The IC is also genuinely God’s church, consisting of a set of people who possess saving faith. They receive therefore certain other benefits.

    In the H/E schema, the HC is genuinely God’s church consisting of all who are baptized into the name of Christ. And because of that, its members all receive the benefits of belonging to the church “in some sense” — including the soteriological benefits.

    The EC is thus invisible only because it is tied up with the decrees of God: will X person be ultimately elect? We don’t know. But there are no particular benefits to being decretally elect other than the gift of perseverance.

    * As I understand it, the H/E schema is substantially identical to the Augustinian schema which has become a part of Roman Catholic theology. If you take a look at the RC teaching on the church (here) and read it with the same charitable eye with which you have read PL’s Baptized Body, you will see that it contains the same statements about the church that you have defended in Leithart.

    Given that we previously agreed that the V/I distinction was vital to the Reformation, this fact should cause great concern. If I may be blunt, it should cause reconsideration.

    * The fact that PL asserts that the Gospel is at stake our conception of the church, as cited above, suggests that PL believes his gospel is different from the gospel of those who hold the V/I distinction.

    He would express that difference in terms of “socialness” — the Gospel is corporate and not merely individual.

    But those of us who are concerned about Leithart would express that difference in terms of over-realizing the visible: That he attributes ontological reality to all that man sees. Hence Reed’s term “practical Arminianism.” Leithart is not Arminian; he believes that God’s decrees are based on God’s pleasure and not foreknowledge. But his soteriological scheme, driven by the H/E schema, implies a soteriology that is pragmatically identical to an Arminian soteriology: The church is a container, whose members come and go according to their faith.

    In short, the implications of the H/E schema have their fingers in almost every aspect of the faith: soteriology, sacraments, apostasy. I believe that it strikes at the vitals of religion. And I don’t mean that Leithart himself does, but that the idea does.

    May God help us to sort this out aright.

    Jeff

  164. November 2, 2011 at 9:01 am

    So, you really think Leithart is saying that the elect can lose their salvation?

    Jack,

    Oh no, it’s much more confusing than that. The elect cannot lost their salvation but not withstanding, the elect and the reprobate supposedly share in the same Spirit-wrought union with Christ, which makes confidence in final salvation a matter of secret decree and that is something we cannot know.

  165. Jack Bradley said,

    November 2, 2011 at 9:05 am

    I appreciate your final appeal, Jeff. I’ll continue to cogitate on it. For now, I’ll just reiterate that Leithart’s presbytery did not find his H/E schema to strike at the vitals.

  166. Reed Here said,

    November 2, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Jeff: your assessment of my observation is helpful. Thanks. That is what I mean by “practical Arminianism.” The H/E schema leaves the reformed ecclesiology (doctrine and practice) of the Church to be in effect the same as Arminian ecclesiology.

  167. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 2, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Jack, duly noted and appreciated. Rayburn’s opinion carries weight.

    Take care,
    Jeff

  168. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 2, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I’m sorry, my comment about Rayburn places too much weight on a single man. More weighty is the decision of his presbytery. Mea culpa.

  169. David Gadbois said,

    November 2, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Jack said “proof positive?” You really need to substantiate when you use words like “evasive” and accuse me of a lack of good faith.

    The proof is your own post (#150), and I assumed that I wouldn’t have to connect the dots of something so obvious.

    You quoted Berkhof as saying that the non-elect do “not experience the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit…” That does not answer Reed’s question “do you acknowledge that Berkhof disagrees with you (and Leithart), to wit: that baptism IS NOT a regenerating means of grace?” Why is this so hard, Jack? Reed’s question was quite straightforward.

  170. David Gadbois said,

    November 2, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Jack quotes On the Minority Report’s position, it appears that we are not allowed to say any of these things with assurance.

    But if the child’s union with Christ is loseable, then genuine assurance is out the window anyway. We are stuck in the same boat as Roman Catholics, wondering if we will stay in a state of grace by means of our covenant faithfulness.

    It is not going far enough to say that this strikes at the vitals of religion. This is a different pattern of religion altogether.

  171. Reed Here said,

    November 2, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Jack: I’m not trying to be obnoxious when I agree with David here. Your response in #150 is decidedly deflected away from what I asked you.

    You quoted Berkhof to support an argument in favor of Leithart’s position. Subsequent interaction demonstrated Berkhof in fact could not be used to support Leithart’s position. Ergo, you were wrong.

    I was hoping you would see your error and at least back off that angle of defense. Subsequent conversation demonstrates you do not believe you can. O.k., then the thing to do is to acknowledge that Berkhof cannot be used to support Leithart and you on this issue.

    Yes? No?

  172. Jack bradley said,

    November 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    David & Reed,
    Thanks for the follow up. Please allow me to respond this evening, when I have more than my iPhone.

  173. November 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I found this quote the other day while reading Spurgeon’s Pictures from Pilgim’s Progress. I posted it on my blog and thought is serves as a nice rebuke to Federal Vision folks –

    “When Dr. Neale, the eminent ritualist, Romanized “Pilgrim’s Progress,” he represented the pilgrim as coming to a certain bath, into which he was plunged, and there his burden was washed away. According to this doctored edition of the allegory, Christian was washed in the laver of baptism, and all his sins were thus removed. That is the High Church mode of getting rid of sin. The true way is to lose it at the cross. Now, mark what happened. According to Dr. Neale’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” that burden grew again on the pilgrim’s back. I do not wonder at that; for a burden which baptism can remove is sure to come again, but the burden which is lost at the cross never appears again forever.” – pp. 79-80

    More here – http://ponderingsofapilgrimpastor.blogspot.com/2011/11/what-can-wash-away-my-sin-thoughts-from.html

  174. David Gadbois said,

    November 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Jack said Again, you may not like Leithart’s terminology, but Horton is describing “a regenerating ordinance.”

    From Horton’s testimony in the trial transcript: The word, the gospel in particular, creates faith. And then the sacraments confirm that faith. I don’t believe that the sacraments are converting ordinances.

    This particular Q&A goes from p. 92-94, and is all worth reading.

    so the sacrament is a union of the material sign and the reality signified. Sacraments don’t effect anything. The Holy Spirit does what he will through the means that he has promised to use. So that in the ordinary rightful use of the means of grace, they are – – they are indeed what they, the means through, which we receive what we signify, through baptism I cling to Christ. Through – – How do I know I’m a Christian? I was baptized. Do I, how do I know that each week I have a right to call God my father? I receive his body and blood in the Lord’s supper. Very happy to use that kind of, that kind of language as we have historically. I think we are infected by Zwinglianism these days. I’m sure Dr. Leithart would agree. But the reformed had never gone in reaction against that to the point of saying that baptism effects regeneration and union with Christ. It – – it is – – it is that move I believe that collapses the sign into the reality and collapses the visible into the invisible.

  175. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Sure hope the church hosting the trial has changed their WiFi password…

  176. November 2, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Horton is right on the mark, as he usually is. You can’t overreact to Zwingliism by pushing us back into Lutheranism. Calvin’s position on the sacraments was a middle ground between Luther and Zwingli- neither mere memorialism nor effectual means of grace in and of themselves (apart from Spirit-worked Gospel faith). Federal Vision seeks to push us back to Lutheranism. If we allow FV advocates like Leithart to remain in good standing in the PCA, we might as well seek full communion with the LCMS and maybe even the conservative Anglican communions. That’s where these guys really belong. I wish they would just leave and go there.

  177. David Gadbois said,

    November 2, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Indeed, Jason, although the Lutherans wouldn’t have them either. At least they get the law/gospel distinction right.

  178. November 2, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    The Bible knows of no such preposterous concept as “temporary justification” or “temporary regeneration.” Neither does the Confession or any orthodox Reformed teaching. These aberrant views are repulsive to the Gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit.

  179. Jack Bradley said,

    November 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Reed and David,
    Thank you for your patience. I now have sympathy for your ire at my response, though I don’t think it merited David’s initial response. But I’m tracking with you now. As such, I officially retract Berkhof’s quote as support for Leithart’s quote.

    In the context of this discussion, I do commend these words from the defense:

    “Our authorities regularly connect baptism to faith, but they also speak of temporary faith; not temporary something else, but temporary faith. The Standards speak of the “common operations of the Holy Spirit” shared by the elect and the non-elect alike, but wisely do not attempt to define those operations. Nor do they address the practical issues raised by the reality of temporary faith. No one doubts that baptism makes a Christian in some sense. No one doubts, Dr. Leithart included, that the blessings and benefits of baptism belong finally only to those who respond in persevering faith. Dr. Leithart has in a number of contexts explicitly affirmed his commitment to the Standards’ doctrines of election and of baptism. Dr. Leithart has explicitly disavowed the implication of the Minority Report that his views amount to an assertion that baptism bestows its benefits irrespective of faith in the subject. The Majority Report also expressed dissatisfaction with certain aspects of Dr. Leithart’s positive construction of the biblical evidence. But Presbytery was rightly much less willing than the framers of the Minority Report to cast out of the church a man who proposes a different account of the biblical data – complex and tension laden as they are – while, at the same time, affirming all the cardinal verities of our Westminster Calvinism.

    http://pnwp.org/images/resources/defense-ex-5-apostasy.pdf

  180. Jack Bradley said,

    November 2, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    “Jack said ‘Again, you may not like Leithart’s terminology, but Horton is describing “a regenerating ordinance.’”

    And I say it yet again, David. I take Horton’s words at the trial at face value, but I also take his words in his article at face value.

  181. November 2, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    “Temporary faith” is not saving faith and has no real saving benefits. Besides, babies don’t have any temporary faith, so they can’t be temporarily justified by temporary faith which they do not possess. Dr. Leithart denies that “his views amount to an asserion that baptism bestows its benefits irrespective of faith in the subject.” The man asserts truths using terms like “baptismal regeneration” and then comes back and denies the very things he asserted. He invents a whole parallel soteriology with a make-believe set of unBiblical and unConfessional benefits so that he can both say that baptism saves without faith in the infant and then turn around and deny that baptism saves apart from persevering faith. He’s a mess and if the PCA’s SJC doesn’t rule against him and overturn the horrific decision of the PNW, I hold out little-to-no hope for the future of the PCA.

  182. Roger du Barry said,

    November 3, 2011 at 12:36 am

    But the reformed had never gone in reaction against that to the point of saying that baptism effects regeneration and union with Christ. It – – it is – – it is that move I believe that collapses the sign into the reality and collapses the visible into the invisible.

    Some of Horton’s confusion seems to be his identifying the water of baptism with the whole of baptism. Baptism is both the water and the inward working of the Spirit, as well as the declaration to the recipient of the forensic remission of his sins.

    He seems to be isolating the water and the rite from the rest of baptism when he speaks of it not effecting anything. No-one believes that the rite in and of itself, the mechanical pouring of water and the recitation of the words, effects anything. This is not Harry Potter.

    The standards say plainly that the sacraments effect the things they signify, given the qualifications.

    This confusion between baptism in-and-of-itself and baptism-the-whole-package is at the root of much of the trouble.

  183. Roger du Barry said,

    November 3, 2011 at 12:43 am

    A word of historical fact to those who wish that Dr. Leithart would go to the Anglicans and Lutherans: the various branches of the Reformation were in total agreement on baptism. The Anglicans and the Puritans did not differ from the Lutherans here. They did not disagree among themselves on this.

    The trouble has arisen since then, and it is not the Anglicans or the Lutherans who are at fault. It is baptistic evangelicalism.

    What is needed is a recovery of the proper Puritan sacramentology.

  184. Reed Here said,

    November 3, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Roger: you’re misreading Horton terribly. His comment is rooted in the sacramental union concept. The sign, water-baptism, IS NOT the thing signified, Spirit-baptism. NO confusion on his part.

    You seem to want to read a statement of distinguishing as a statement of separation. It is a silly argument, showing you are confused in your reading.

  185. Jack Bradley said,

    November 3, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Reed, I agree with you, that the sign is not the thing signified. But Horton’s entire article expresses a burden that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of separating the sign from the thing signified:

    “From the mid-sixteenth-century confessions to the Westminster Confession of 1647, the entire confessional testimony of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches defends the objective character of the Sacraments as means of grace. The Scots Confession of 1560 declares, “And so we utterly condemn the vanity of those who affirm the sacraments to be nothing else than naked and bare signs. No, we assuredly believe that by Baptism we are engrafted into Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his righteousness, by which our sins are covered.

    . . The Second Helvetic Confession reminds us that what is given in the Sacraments is not merely “a bare and naked sign,” but Christ himself, with all of his saving benefits. . . “The sacraments become effectual means of salvation,” according to the Westminster Larger Catechism. . .

    . . . The sign is not the thing signified, but is so united by God’s Word and Spirit that the waters of Baptism can be said to be the washing of regeneration. . . ”

  186. Reed Here said,

    November 3, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Jack: back to my prior question? Time to respond?

  187. Roger du Barry said,

    November 3, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Reed, perhaps I did not say what I meant. I mean he seems to be thinking of baptism as the rite, rather than as the whole thing. I am not addressing the sign/thing signified issue.

  188. Jack Bradley said,

    November 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Reed, I did respond: #179

  189. Reed Here said,

    November 3, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Thank Jack. Didn’t see it.

  190. Reed Here said,

    November 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Jack: we spent quite a bit of time interacting with the subject of temporary faith. Rather than re-hash things here, I’d ask you to read the interaction in these three threads. Then, come back and tell us where we’re getting Leithart wrong.

    Thanks!

  191. Jack Bradley said,

    November 3, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks, Reed. I appreciate the resource. I will read them carefully and get back to you.

  192. Ron Henzel said,

    November 3, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Roger,

    You wrote:

    …the various branches of the Reformation were in total agreement on baptism. The Anglicans and the Puritans did not differ from the Lutherans here. They did not disagree among themselves on this.

    The trouble has arisen since then…

    [Emphasis mine.]

    Berkhof paints a quite different picture:

    At first [Luther] made the salutary effect of baptism dependent on faith, but in view of the fact that children can hardly exercise faith, he next held that God by His prevenient grace works faith in the unconscious child, and finally he turned the questions involved over to the doctors, saying ‘We do not baptize upon that (faith in the infant), but solely upon the command of God.’ Many of the Lutheran theologians, however, retained the doctrine of an infant-faith, either as a pre-condition for baptism, or as an immediately produced effect of its administration. In the latter case the implication is, of course, that the sacrament works ex opere operato. It works regeneration and takes away the guilt and power of sin, but does not entirely remove its pollution. The radix aut fomes peccati remains.

    The Reformed proceeded on the assumption that baptism was instituted for believers and therefore does not work but strengthens faith. But by proceeding on this assumption they faced a twofold difficulty. They had to prove in opposition, especially to the Anabaptists, but also to the Roman Catholics and the Lutherans, that children can be regarded as believers before baptism, and as such ought to be baptized. And in addition to that they had to define the spiritual benefit which the child receives in baptism, seeing that it is not yet in a position to exercise active faith, and therefore cannot be strengthened in it. On the whole little attention was paid to the last point. It was generally said that baptism gives the parents the assurance that their child is incorporated in the covenant, is a rich source of consolation for the child as it grows up, and gives it, even in its unconscious state, a title to all the blessings of the covenant. The answers to the question, how the children that receive baptism are to be considered varied from the start. There was general agreement in establishing the right of infant baptism by an appeal to Scripture and particularly to the scriptural doctrine of the covenant. Children of believers are covenant children, and are therefore entitled to the sacrament. Opinions differed, however, as to the implications of this covenant relationship. According to some it warrants the assumption that children of believing parents are regenerated until the contrary appears in doctrine or life. Others, deeply conscious of the fact that such children often grow up without revealing any signs of spiritual life, hesitated to accept that theory. They admitted that regeneration before baptism was quite possible, but preferred to leave it an open question, whether elect children are regenerated before, ad (during), or perhaps long after baptism. It was felt that the cases varied and did not conform to a general rule. In harmony with this idea the spiritual effect of baptism as a means of grace was not limited to the time of the administration of the sacrament.

    [Louis Berkhof, The History of Christian Doctrines, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Book House, 1937; 1976), 250-251.]

    What Berkhof says here covers largely the same ground that Herman Bavinck covers in Reformed Dogmatics 4:509ff. (even to the point of wording similar enough to demonstrate the former’s dependence upon the latter). Bavinck notes that, “The German Reformers even believed that baptism had been kept almost completely intact under papacy and therefore adopted it with only a few minor changes” (ibid., 509), whereas, “The Reformed tradition, however, rejected most of the ceremonies that had gradually become associated with baptism and returned to the simplicity of Scripture (ibid., 510).

    Bavinck thus summarized : “The moment people began to reflect on the implications of this inclusion of children in the covenant of grace, however, they parted company,” (ibid. 511).

    This is hardly consistent with the portrait of unanimity you present.

  193. David Gadbois said,

    November 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Michael, please stay on topic and don’t include lengthy Scripture citations. You can just tell us the book, chapter, and verse you feel supports your point.

  194. Roger du Barry said,

    November 4, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Ron, thanks for the quote. Compare the actual confessions, and you will see what I am saying.

    When Berkhof says the Reformed Tradition returned to the simplicity of scripture, he is referring to the Puritan objections to the sign of the cross in baptism, and the use of Godparents.

    But the doctrine of baptism itself was seen the same way.

    Read the controversy between Travers and Hooker on the issues between Puritans (whom Berkhof calls the Reformed) and the Church of England. Both men agreed on doctrine. Both were Reformed.

    Where they differed was on church government, and tertiary issues of ceremonial, such as vestments, rings, sign of the cross, etc. that even the Puritans agreed were non-essentials.

    Berkhof speaks very vaguely in your quote. Who are the “people” who reflected on children in the covenant? I am referring to the official teachings, not private opinions, valuable though they may be.

  195. Ron Henzel said,

    November 4, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Roger,

    At the very least, the citation from Berkhof—which is largely a reproduction of Bavinck’s work—demonstrates that it is possible for theologians to assent to confessional language and yet disagree over what that language means at significant points. So appealing to “the actual confessions” does little to support your thesis that “the various branches of the Reformation were in total agreement on baptism.”

  196. Roger du Barry said,

    November 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Ron, I believe in taking the text at face value, unless there is a textual and literary reason not to do so. The 39 Articles, according to the foreword, for example, are to be taken in their literal and grammatical meaning, for the avoiding of controversies. I cannot see that the WCF is written in some kind of cryptic code. I read it just fine by taking the meaning on the face of the text. The Bible works the same way.

    The wax-nose approach to texts leads us down rabbit holes, and conceals the intent of the authors.

    Read historical documents from the period, like Hooker’s Laws. Read Travis on the Puritan side. Read D’Aubigne on the Reformation. They tell us what leading men of the time thought about these controversies.

  197. Ron Henzel said,

    November 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Roger,

    I suppose that if you’re a better historical theologian than either Bavinck or Berkhof I should probably just agree with you—but which is it: do I take the text of the confessions at face value, or do I read the historical documents from the period in order to know what the leading men of the time thought about the controversies? If the first approach is sufficient, I shouldn’t need to tale the second. And if there were controversies, does that not assume that your premise (“the various branches of the Reformation were in total agreement on baptism”) is false? Your most recent comment here seems self-contradictory.

  198. Reed Here said,

    November 4, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Jack: you’re going to need to excerpt that last post quite a bit. Even if it is a quote of a previous here (and my words), it does violate the combox rule here against lengthy quotes.

    As well, I’d ask you to reference the quotes better. Even I have a hard time following who said what in the formatting you’re using.

    Thanks. (I’ve placed this in the pending queue. If you need me to send it to you so you can adjust it, let me know. Otherwise, please re-work and post again. Thanks.)

  199. Jack Bradley said,

    November 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    I’ll work on that, Reed. In the meantime, here are the salient parts:

    Your wrote: “Joshua, I am struck by how much we think the other is not getting what we are saying. I am persuaded that it is a matter of perspectives, of starting points. You and I both have a different starting point. You start saying that we must view the Church via the historical; I say from the eternal.”

    Reed, I think your closing comment captures the main reason Leithart’s detractors are not getting what he is saying. It really is a matter of different starting points. Leithart is convinced (as is Collins, and many other Reformed authorities) that we must view the church primarily through the ‘visible/historical’ lens. His detractors seem to be convinced that we must view the church primarily through the ‘invisible/eternal’ lens.

    I’m not saying this solves/resolves every nuance, but I do think it is the main difficulty.

    Joshua asked you: “How do we take history seriously?” That, as I read him, is really Leithart’s question: How do we take HISTORY seriously in the invisible/eternal paradigm?

    You wrote: “the FV wants to insist not that for all practical purposes the ECM and the RCM historically viewed (Leithart’s punctiliar) are the same (but they’re really not). No, the FV wants to maintain that the ECM and the RCM actually are the same for a time (more or less depending on the advocate).”

    Yes, the Reprobate Covenant Member is Leithart’s punctiliar, even though I think you misread him on the remainder of that sentence.

    I do think you read him rightly when you wrote: “The RCM [Reprobate Covenant Member] really and truly receive the Spirit’s work and blessings. Yet they do so in the state of a fallen man. Fallen man apart from the Spirit expresses joy, love, faith, etc. So it is no problem to assert that the RCM express these very things, and to a degree that appears to us undifferentiated from what the ECM [Elect Covenant Member] experience.”

    Yes, “that APPEARS to us undifferentiated.” That is what Leithart is taking seriously: the undifferentiated appearance of the RCM and the ECM.

    You wrote: “there exist real and true blessings for the RCM in the Church because the RCM are “in covenant” (temporarily) with Christ. As it stands this is fair and accurate. Yet the FV goes on to confuse contexts. The FV fails to either recognize or protect the distinction between eternal-blessings and temporal-blessings.”

    I appreciate your appraisal of the first sentence. This is really the main point of all that Leithart has written. But this is exactly what has gotten him into trouble.

    Thank you for characterizing it here as “fair and accurate” And thank you for these words: “there exist real and true blessings for the RCM in the Church because the RCM are “in covenant” (temporarily) with Christ.”

    This is at the heart of what Leithart means by “temporary faith.”

    I of course disagree with the last half of the above paragraph. And I think Joshua did a very good job of showing the weakness of your “distinction between eternal-blessings and temporal-blessings.”

    “When I say ‘real and true’ blessings, I am not merely tossing the FV a bone. This is a biblically accurate manner of speaking.”

    Thank you and amen.

  200. Jack Bradley said,

    November 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    That should have read: Y”es, the Reprobate Covenant Member– historically viewed–is Leithart’s punctiliar.”

  201. Reed Here said,

    November 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Jack: you seem to have missed what I believe is the key distinction. It is not that the RCM do experience a real ministry of the HS. I agree. It is that Leithart, et. al. believe the RCM experience exactly the same in exactly the same manner as the ECM (with the exception of perseverance.) More focused, the FV posits that the RCM and the ECM experience the same ontological change by the Spirit.

    This is not what I argued. Instead I argued that the RCM experience NO ontological change. The RCM experience a temporary ministry of the HS that does not change their fallen state. Thus their response, excited by the HS no less, is nevertheless only the natural response of the earthly man, the man who has not been regenerated.

    Temporary faith IS NOT a temporary experience of ECM faith. It is a natural faith expressed from a fallen man’s own unconverted soul. The label “temporary” denotes merely that it does not last, not that it is a temporary experience of regenerate faith.

    This is a key ontological distinction that Leithart, et. al. does not maintain. Thus, according their schema, the RCM and ECM experience EXACTLY the same ontological redemption.

    All questions of historical/eschatological vs. visible/invisible aside, this position IS NOT the position of the Westminster Standards.

  202. Roger du Barry said,

    November 5, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Dr. Leithart argues that the WCF specifies that it is talking about the elect. So, yes, the WCF is not talking about the man who experiences temporary benefits, and this other experience is not in the WSs.

    Thus the WSs do not address this particular case. That is not the same thing as saying that they contradict it.

    Do the anywhere teach against it?

  203. todd said,

    November 5, 2011 at 6:26 am

    Roger,

    This is one of the problems. The WCF does not address this because Scripture does not. It is not really that important and it doesn’t matter pastorally. What exactly, if anything, the RCM experience inwardly by the Spirit is not a great concern in the Bible, all that matters is that they do not know the Lord and will be judged. Where it does describe an experience (parable of the sower – joy), that expereince is not attributed to the work of the Spirit. There are no saving benefits attributed to the RCM in Scripture, and nowhere are temporary saving benefits of some kind granted the moment of water baptism. So the FV takes an issue the Scripture and the Confessions do not really address and drive a truck through it – they develop a whole theology where the Scriptures are silent at the least. Never a good idea.

  204. Reed Here said,

    November 5, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Roger: I recognize and acknowledge that this is the argument Leithart, et.al. do make. I understand Todd’s point and agree with it to an extent. The FV schema is not present in detail in the Westminster Standards in tota simply because of historical factors. The FV formulations are recent history, however much it’s aficionados want to claim a venerable heritage for it.

    In other words, the fact that the Westminster Standards (WS) do not say, “the reprobrate church member does not receive the same ordo salutis as the elect church member” is merely a factor of history. The question is not is Leithart, et.al. writing on subjects that the WS do not specifically address? The question is whether or not the FV schema disagrees in principle with the WS schema?

    And in this regard I would offer you (and Todd, although I think he’ll affirm) that the FV schema does in fact intersect with the WS schema, and significantly at that. First, consider that the WS were consciously written in the stream of prior reformed creedal development. Most notably for our discussion here, the WS were written with conscious acceptance and submission to the things written in the Canons of Dordt (CoD).

    Consider that this creed pre-dates the WS by less than 50 years. Possibly some of the Westminster Divines were in attendance at that convocation. At the very least the Westminster Divines were discipled (in part) in the CoD. In other words, they consciously wrote the WS to be in agreement with the CoD. David Gadbois and others have posted sufficiently from the CoD that we can say that yes, the FV does at a significant level disagree with them. If there is disagreement with the parent (Canons of Dordt) then there at least is principled disagreement with the loyal child (Westminster Standards).

    Further, to my specific observations to Jack, this passage of the Wesminster Confession does indeed talk about what Leithart, et.al. are talking about, and does so with contradiction to his formulations:

    WCF X. IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, [ Mt 13:14-15; 22:14; Ac 13:48; 28:24] and may have some common operations of the Spirit, [Mt 7:22; 13:20, 21; Heb 6:4-5] yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved [Jh 6:37, 64-66; 8:44; 13:18; cf. 17:12] … (emphasis added).

    Leithart has made it clear that he believes the RCM experiences the same ordo salutis as the ECM (perseverance excepted) in the exact same manner as the ECM. Surely you can agree that the Westminster Standards, at least on this one point, say “Not So!”

  205. November 5, 2011 at 8:59 am

    How can we expect the WCF, written in the 1640’s, to address a novel theology invented in the 1990’s and 2000’s? Yes, it is a novel theology because they start off sounding like Lutherans and even Catholics and then, to distance themselves from these theologies which are obviously non-Reformed, they invent new categories of thought and make up new definitions to old terms. So, no, the WCF doesn’t address this directly, but the implications of what he is saying go against the most basic Gospel foundations of Reformed theology.

    How can we have saints who are genuine saints but who don’t persevere? How can we have a justification which is temporary? How can a person be regenerate and yet not really regenerate, potentially never manifesting saving faith? How can saving faith be temporary?

    These are real questions which have profound pastoral implications and which touch on the very vitals of our faith.

  206. Jack Bradley said,

    November 5, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Reed wrote: The question is not is Leithart, et.al. writing on subjects that the WS do not specifically address? The question is whether or not the FV schema disagrees in principle with the WS schema.

    Yes. This was indeed the question. The presbytery has now answered this question.

  207. bsuden said,

    November 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    “Yes. This was indeed the question. The presbytery has now answered this question.”

    But not the GA which quoted Leithart in condemning the FV?
    Desperation is, as desperation does.

    Finally in 202 we get the answer to the question of whether the grace of baptism applies to the elect or all who receive it in the WCF, meanwhile those who can’t answer the question continue to try to pass as expert witnesses on why PL doesn’t contradict the WS.

    Go figure/only in the FV world.

  208. todd said,

    November 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Reed,

    Agreed – the new FV schema contradicts the standards, that is the truck that started with a question the Confession or Bible is not interested in answering, which is “what exactly are the common operations of the Spirit?”

  209. Reed Here said,

    November 5, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Jack: rather than repeating (ad nauseum) your approval of PNW Presbytery’s action, maybe interact with the challenge I’ve posed?

    You appear to want to accept that Leithart is differentiating sufficiently, and that his opponents are not sophisticated enough to understanding his differentiation. Meanwhile, you have noted that I actually have demonstrated sufficient understanding (in previous threads).

    So, maybe deal with the challenges I posed in those previous threads?

  210. Jack Bradley said,

    November 5, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Maybe. I think we’re probably going to end up repeating ourselves, but let me give it some thought. Right now, it’s Alabama/LSU!!

  211. todd said,

    November 5, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Right now, it’s Alabama/LSU!!

    What a game it is! Old school football!

  212. Jack Bradley said,

    November 5, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    It was an old school classic, Todd!

  213. Roger du Barry said,

    November 6, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Reed, 204, good post. Your quote that the non-elect never truly come to Christ seems on the face of it to be a good argument for your position.

    WCF X. IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, [ Mt 13:14-15; 22:14; Ac 13:48; 28:24] and may have some common operations of the Spirit, [Mt 7:22; 13:20, 21; Heb 6:4-5] yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved. [Jh 6:37, 64-66; 8:44; 13:18; cf. 17:12]

    That got me thinking about what it means to “never truly come to Christ”. Can you come to Christ in some way that is not true/real? The WCF seems to think that you can.

    That is different from not coming to Christ at all.

    Comments?

  214. Roger du Barry said,

    November 6, 2011 at 1:03 am

    PS: what does coming to Christ mean? Can a man come to Christ without faith? If you have faith, are you justified? Is there a lesser form of justification?

    Those are the issues I would like you and Lane to speak to.

  215. Ron Henzel said,

    November 6, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Roger,

    You wrote:

    That got me thinking about what it means to “never truly come to Christ”. Can you come to Christ in some way that is not true/real? The WCF seems to think that you can.

    Well, those who “never truly come unto Christ” are, according to the terms of this section of the Confession, among those who are “called by the ministry of the Word” accompanied by “common operations of the Spirit” (WCF 10.4), but who are not among those whom “[God] is pleased…effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit” (WCF 10.1). Thus their “coming” occurs apart from any effectual calling out of their “state of sin and death” (WCF 10.1), apart from the “enlightening [of] their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God” (ibid.), apart from the “taking away their heart of stone, and [the] giving unto them [of] an heart of flesh” (ibid.), apart from the “renewing [of] their wills,” and to the “determining [of] them to that which is good” (ibid.) and—most significantly for our discussion here—it is a “coming” that does not result from God “effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace” (ibid.).

    So, to review: those who “come unto Christ” in a way that is neither true nor real remain in their state of sin and death, continue to have unenlightened minds that do not understand the things of God, have a heart of stone persisting within them along with unrenewed wills that are not oriented toward choosing good over evil, all because they have not come freely, having been made willing by the grace of the effectual drawing of the Spirit to Jesus Christ.

    So when you write:

    That is different from not coming to Christ at all.

    I would have to agree. It is different. It is rebellion against general revelation, compounded by rebellion against special revelation, compounded by damnable hypocrisy. Yes, it is different from not coming to Christ at all.

    Then you wrote:

    PS: what does coming to Christ mean?

    It means all the things applied to those who are drawn to Christ per WCF 10.1

    You wrote:

    Can a man come to Christ without faith?

    Is this a rhetorical question?

    You wrote:

    If you have faith, are you justified?

    If you have faith that the Second Person of the Trinity, the God-man Christ Jesus, died for your sins and rose from the dead, and that His work alone saves you apart from any works on your part, you are justified—i.e., you have a righteous standing before God.

    You wrote:

    Is there a lesser form of justification?

    There is no lesser form of a righteous standing before God that is presented in Scripture. There is such a lesser form in Roman Catholicism, however, and apparently in the Federal Vision.

  216. Reed Here said,

    November 6, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Roger: did you work through those three threads on temporary faith? We really did cover some good ground. Just a few responses here:

    Yes, the Confession assumes that the RCM does come to Christ, in some manner. I recognize that at this level of discourse there is no observable difference between Leithart and the Confession. I think it is even reasonable to agree with Leithart in assisting that this a real coming to Christ, that it is in some way objectifiable because it has an ontological reality to it. It really is real, if you will.

    This issue boils down to what does the common operations of the Spirit mean. The word “common” is used to simply note that which is ordinary in the world under the Fall. It is common, therefore, for some to hear an inspiring message and respond to it with a form of belief.

    This brings us into the whole discussion of the exact nature of temporary faith. Is it a temporary version of Spirit-born faith that the ECM receive (Leithart, et.al.)? Or is it temporary because it is nothing more than the common kind of belief any man can drum up from his own soul without an extraordinary work of the Spirit? I believe the latter is what the Confession is referring to when it says that the RCM can “never truly come.”

    Maybe a review of the three threads on temporary faith?

  217. todd said,

    November 6, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Jack,

    One writer described it as: “This was all head-banging, pad-cracking, run-stopping, physical football, the stuff of Bo Schembechler”

  218. Jack Bradley said,

    November 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    That nails it on the head, Todd. Old time smash mouth football.

    Gotta luvit!

  219. November 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Here’s the Conclusion of my Protest:

    http://www.creedcodecult.com/2011/11/protest-against-pnwp-sjc-decision_06.html

  220. Roger du Barry said,

    November 7, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Ron, read Reed’s post no 216.

    Reed, part of your difficulty as a Presbyterian is that there is no exact description in the WSs of the coming to Christ described in Hebrews 6 et al, that resolves the problems.

    The form of subscription that the PCA has taken on, allows men like Dr. Leithart to fully affirm ex animo the system of doctrine contained in the standards, while insisting, correctly, that it does not fully address the issues that we are discussing now.

    The fact of the matter is that the Bible in may places warns against falling away from the gospel and grace. These passages must be taken seriously by every proper exegete.

    On the other hand the Bible clearly teaches the system of doctrine contained in the CoD and the WSs – for the elect.

    The phrase “never truly come to Christ” is so imprecise that it creates space for very different interpretations, from Ron’s to Dr. Leithart’s.

  221. Roger du Barry said,

    November 7, 2011 at 1:12 am

    In my tradition, the English Reformation, the Prayer Book services are a source of doctrine in addition to the 39 Articles and Book of Homilies.

    We make room for a strict view of election in Article 17, while beseeching God in prayer not to take his Holy Spirit from us.

    Every Sunday morning Psalm 95 is set to be said or sung, in which God warns us not to follow the example of the wilderness generation, lest we be lost. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as your fathers did in the wilderness … to whom I swore in my wrath, They shall never enter my rest”.

    At the same time the collects contain prayers beseeching God to govern our hearts, in the best Calvinistic tradition, so that we may continue in his grace to the end, reflecting the teaching of the perseverance of the saints.

    Fudge? No. Reflecting the whole counsel of God? Yes.

    The answer lies in the assumption that the congregation actually present are all professing Christians, while recognising that the visible church is a mixed body.

  222. Ron Henzel said,

    November 7, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Roger,

    You wrote:

    Ron, read Reed’s post no 216.

    I already did. I have no problem with it. I totally complements what I wrote. So now why don’t you respond to my comment #215?

  223. Ron Henzel said,

    November 7, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Roger,

    I would make one observation about what Reed wrote, however, which was:

    I recognize that at this level of discourse there is no observable difference between Leithart and the Confession.

    Given Reed’s qualifications in this sentence and throughout his comment, this is a reasonable statement. But for further clarification on my part, I would refer back to the clear contention in my comment (215) that the difference does become highly observable, and comes into sharp relief, when those who “never truly come unto Christ” in WCF 10.4 are contrasted with the characteristics of those who do truly come to Him as described in WCF 10.1.

  224. Reed Here said,

    November 7, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Ron: excellent comparison!

    What does it mean, according to the Westminster Standards to “never truly come to Christ?” (WCF 10.4). It looks like the opposite of this:

    WCF 10.1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

    I cannot see how the schema Leithart, et.al. postulate does not argue that this is ALSO how the RCM come to Christ. If so, then by simple comparison with the denial in WCF 10.4, the FV schema contradicts the Westminster Standards.

  225. David Gadbois said,

    November 7, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Leithart says that reprobate covenant members are married to Jesus for a temporary period. Jesus says He “never knew” those unregenerate who feigned faith in Him. It would be awfully funny if Jesus were married to someone He never knew.

    In Romans 8:9 Paul says that the unregenerate do not belong to God. Indeed, they are “enemies” of God (5:10). This does not comport with the stature that Leithart grants to non-elect covenant members.

    And once again it is worth noticing that WCF describes the invisible church, not the visible church, as the “bride” and “body”, of Christ. Another clear point of departure on Leithart’s part.

  226. Roger du Barry said,

    November 8, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Ron and Reed, are you saying that those who do not truly come to Christ do not come at all? Are you saying that they come in the sense that an unregenerate man by his own will can come?

    In my understanding of Reformed theology the unregenerate man cannot come to Christ at all. He is dead to God and the gospel.

    What is this natural ability that you are talking about?

  227. Reed Here said,

    November 8, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Roger: what kind of ability did those John speaks about have?

    1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

    What kind of faith did the two temporary seeds have in Matthew 13? Clearly, in light of John 6:44 not the kind of persevering faith Jesus describes as the only kind of faith that is possessed by those who “truly” come to him.

    What kind of faith did those in John 2:23-25 profess, and faith that Jesus himself rejected as not being the right kind of faith?

    It appears that there are only two options:

    1. A temporary experience of the same Spirit born faith as the ECM receive (Leithart, FV), or

    2. An experience of ordinary human born faith that is temporary by nature?

    I take it that the reformed position has been and is the latter. This is most consistent with the Scriptures that teach:

    1. There is a profession of faith that can be fallen away from, and
    2. There is a profession of faith that cannot be fallen away from.

    Leithart, et.al., maintains that no.1 is an imperfect version of no. 2 (i.e., it lacks the grace of perseverance). Yet this contradicts the Scripture which says that once the Spirit gives you new birth – it cannot be lost. If the Spirit always and only gives a new birth that is permanent as to its effects, then what those who fall away experience CANNOT be a new birth. It must be nothing more than an expression of ordinary fallen humanness.

    Leithart, et.al., would have John 3:16 teach that there is: one new birth in two varieties, one that lives eternally and one that dies. This is not how the Bible describes the new birth.

    As to how does a man who would never choose Christ on his own make a mere human profession of faith? Read up on Turretin, et.al., on temporary faith. He deals very efficiently with such valid and important questions. Basically here, the Spirit works to lead men to make human decisions of their own will, without necessarily converting them (giving them new birth).

    This is exemplified in numerous passages and should not be controversial. (E.g., God hardened/Pharaoh hardened his heart; the Jews chose, by God’s will, to execute Jesus by the Romans). King Saul is the standard textbook example. Another would be Balaam.

  228. Ron Henzel said,

    November 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Roger,

    In comment 226, you wrote:

    In my understanding of Reformed theology the unregenerate man cannot come to Christ at all. He is dead to God and the gospel.

    But in comment 213, you wrote:

    … Can you come to Christ in some way that is not true/real? The WCF seems to think that you can.

    That is different from not coming to Christ at all.

    So are you saying that the WCF departs from your understanding of Reformed theology?

  229. November 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    It sounds to me like Roger is saying the same thing as Leithart. Let me see if I can put this accurately: The Holy Spirit regenerates some for a termporary time period, during which time they exercise saving faith temporarily, are justified temporarily, are adopted temporarily, are sanctified temporarily and them later fall from grace because they were the recipients of only temporary saving grace and not persevering saving grace, which only the elect receive.

    Is that accurate?

  230. November 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Jason – I believe that is pretty close to FV theology if not spot on given what I can glean. I think they have a view of common operations of the Spirit that allows for existential union with Christ, which of course gets them into trouble should they ever try to ground assurance for the true elect in the Spirit’s testimony to the regenerate. Why, in other words, can’t the non-elect have assurance of pardon and final adoption if they indeed receive the Spirit in such measure? What ends up happening is that there becomes no place to ground assurance for the converted if any person with that measure of the Spirit can fall away from the faith.

    I find it most curious why FV has gotten them into this bind. Wat I think FV might have done is taken the objective criteria that the church must employ to regard one as God’s child and has collapsed it into the individual’s criteria to judge himself whether he is truly in Christ, leaving the individual wanting more – God’s internal witness of the Spirit, which FV cannot affirm as something to look to given their view of Spirit-wrought union that can be supposedly received by the non-elect. Sadly, the truly converted under FV standards is left with zero assurance of salvation (not unlike Rome) because (i) those with the Spirit may fall away and (ii) the objective standard the church must work with to judge one’s salvation status must allow the church to regard closet case unbelievers as saved as long as they have received Christian baptism and if old enough have improved upon it with a credible testimony, which of course may not be denied (i.e. found incongruous) by personal doctrine or lifestyle. People who rightly should be on church roles by sound ecclesiastical standards may prove themselves in time as not being truly of us, but given no clear theological distinction between the visible and the invisible church the implication is that such persons actually lost their salvation. At the end of the day, collapsing ecclesiology into soteriology like the FV does is in my opinion no worse than Rome’s error of confounding justification with sanctification.

  231. Roger du Barry said,

    November 9, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Ron and Reed et al

    I am trying to think of a way that you can come to Christ by your own power, as you say he can. Is that even coming to Christ at all? The Lord Jesus said that he would by no means cast out anyone who comes to him. You say that he does, that he does not accept them.

    He also said that no-one comes Christ to unless the Father draws him. You say they come undrawn by the Father, empowered by their own wills. How is this not pure Arminianism?

    I notice yet again how few arguments you all put forward from the actual scripture, and how many are from your understanding of the confession. Jason asks how I can get into this bind, and I say that it is, simply, from reading the Bible and listening to all that it has to say.

    You say the RCM has not received the Spirit, Hebrews says he has. You say his mind is still in darkness re the gospel, Hebrews says he was enlightened. You say he did not receive faith, but he parable of the sower says he did, the problem lying in his ability to sustain the plant.

    The problem that I am wrestling with is how the once believing RCM can be said not to have received saving benefits at all.

    (As a side note, I believe with you that there are many true hypocrites in the church.)

    What I would like to have clarified is how a man can come to Christ in some way that is real, yet receive nothing. and what the lesser benefits are.

  232. Reed Here said,

    November 9, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Roger: have you read the threads on temporary justification? You’re critique of what we’re saying is our critique of the FV. Arminian you say? Yeah, duh!! :;-) (a colloquial here for an obvious thing that need not be stated).

    As to “real”, just use the categories we assigned to sacraments. There is a real physical sign and there is a real spiritual benefit. Likewise there is a real physical coming to Christ and there is a real spiritual coming to Christ. The first flows from the unregenerate excited by the Spirit; the second fro the regenerate renewed by the Spirit.

    Or use the categories of ontology and epistemology. The ECM have an epistemological enlightening that grows out of the confluence of the Spirit’s illumination of their ontologically renewed being. The RCM have an epistemological enlightening that only is the response of their unrenewed being’s experience of the Spirit’s illumination. This is why it is called “common”; enlightenment of being can happen in both, yet it is not ontologically the same.

    By the way, if you do not like the word “real” here, I’m pretty sure we’ve merely adapted ourselves to your expression of what you believe Leithart is teaching. Or maybe you picked it up out of the Confessions “really truly” language. Suffice to say, there is real (physical, earthly, natural) and then there is real (spiritual). The two are not the same real.

  233. Reed Here said,

    November 9, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Ron D.: appreciate your observation. This is one thing that has bothered me from early on. In an attempt to give more “objective” consolation to parents regarding the status of their covenant children (an FV goal), the regenerate child of God sitting under such ministry is robbed of all means of assurance, … except one.

    All that is left is to measure one’s own faithfulness. Am I sufficiently obeying to prove to myself that I am one of the elect?

  234. Ron Henzel said,

    November 9, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Roger,

    You wrote:

    I am trying to think of a way that you can come to Christ by your own power, as you say he can.

    I never said a person can come to Christ by his or her own power. This is a distortion of what I’ve written.

    I will summarize the meaning of what I have written as plainly and succinctly as I know how:

    There are two groups of people under consideration in WCF 10. The first group comes to Christ truly (WCF 10.1). The second group “comes to Christ” falsely (WCF 10.4).

    It should be more than obvious to anyone with knowledge of Reformed theology in general and the Confession in particular that no one can truly come to Christ under his or her own power. It should also be more than obvious “coming to Christ” under one’s own power can only be a false “coming.”

  235. Ron said,

    November 9, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Ron and Reed et al
    I am trying to think of a way that you can come to Christ by your own power, as you say he can.

    Hi Roger,

    I don’t think I implied that one comes to faith in Christ by his own power. Moreover, I affirm that regeneration is monergistic. What I deny is that the Spirit unites anyone to Christ who is not predestined to final adoption, glory.

    The Lord Jesus said that he would by no means cast out anyone who comes to him. You say that he does, that he does not accept them.

    When have I said or implied that the Lord casts out those who come to him? Let me be more clear just in case. If one truly comes to Christ by the effectual gift of faith, then he will be saved and sealed until the final day. Do some come to Christ by the gift of faith and end up lost in the end? Is the earnest of our salvation (i.e. down payment), which is the Spirit, given to those who will not go to heaven?

    It seems to me that FV makes persevering faith a work that distinguishes one man from another – i.e., one will persevere if he keeps himself in the faith. In other words, it seems as though FV allows for elect and the non-elect persons to receive the same measure of the Spirit and union, which seems to suggest that what distinguishes one man from another must be man, not God. Again, if both receive the Spirit, then man is deciding factor on final adoption, hence the lack of assurance available to those who are actually decreed to final adoption. Under FV, those decreed to final adoption have no more of Christ than those who are supposedly regenerate but not decreed to final adoption.

    He also said that no-one comes Christ to unless the Father draws him. You say they come undrawn by the Father, empowered by their own wills. How is this not pure Arminianism?

    Maybe you’re confusing me with someone else?

    Jason asks how I can get into this bind, and I say that it is, simply, from reading the Bible and listening to all that it has to say.

    I mentioned “bind” so maybe you mean me? I wrote that to Jason though…

    You say the RCM has not received the Spirit, Hebrews says he has. You say his mind is still in darkness re the gospel, Hebrews says he was enlightened. You say he did not receive faith, but he parable of the sower says he did, the problem lying in his ability to sustain the plant.

    Roger, your interpretation of those sorts of texts leaves us to an impasse I’m afraid. My only question, then, is how is assurance of final salvation possible if one who is regenerate can fall away?

    At the very least, if one can have assurance of final salvation, then those texts must imply something less than what you say. NOTE: If one can know that he will make it in the end, then the assuring witness of the Holy Spirit must not accompany those sorts of operations of the Spirit in the non-elect. Can we at least agree on that, that the Spirit does not confirm present salvation to them and, consequently, final adoption since assurance of final adoption is predicated upon assurance of present salvation? If so, then what work of the Spirit do you suppose is lacking in those of whom those texts speak? Do they have union, just not assurance of union? I’m really trying to understand.

    The problem that I am wrestling with is how the once believing RCM can be said not to have received saving benefits at all.

    Certainly those within the church are met with the fruits of the Spirit given their contact with the saints, but it would seem you mean much more than that and I want to know what work of the Spirit is lacking in those who are supposedly temporarily regenerate.

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  236. Ron said,

    November 9, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Reed, yes I see the problem with you. Maybe some of the question buried in my post to Roger above might help flesh out some of these things for me.

    Cheers,

    Ron

  237. November 9, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Roger,

    Fine responses have alrerady been given, but I’ll add my two cents’ worth here. The very same passages in John 6 that say that no one can come to Christ except the Father draw him also say multiple times that all who come to Christ will be fully and finally saved (“raised up on the last day”).

    So, John 6 is clear:
    1. No one can come unless the Father draws them.
    2. All whom the Father gives to the Son will come to Him.
    3. Jesus will cast out none of those who come to Him.
    4. No one can snatch those who come to Christ out of His hands or the Father’s hands.
    5. All who come to Christ will be raised up on the last day.

    This absolute and certain sequence of salvation also matches the language of Romans 8:29-30, where all who have been called and justified are those who have been predestined and who are also already glorified in Christ.

    Speaking of Hebrews, Hebrews 10:14 says, “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” So all those who are being sanctified by the Spirit have been perfected for all time byu the sacrifice of Christ.

    When we consider the evidence from John 6, Romans 8 and Hebrews 10, we have to then answer then question: What about those who appear to come to Christ in faith and who then fully and finally fall away (apostasize)? The Reformed answer to this question has always been and must be that these people have not, in fact, come to Christ at all. They have not exercised saving faith in Christ. They are in the church and professing faith but they do not ever possess true faith. There is no spiritual life in them. They are not in Christ.

    So, whatever Hebrews 6 means by “shared in the Holy Spirit,” it cannot mean regeneration, justification and sanctification. The FV tries to describe the “common operations” of the Spirit in the church but does so using language that must be reserved for the redeemed elect. It is Scripture – John 6, Romans 8, Hebrews 10, John 10:28-30, etc. – that sets these boundaries and these definitions.

  238. November 9, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Reed has hit on the heart of the problem for believers: “All that is left is to measure one’s own faithfulness. Am I sufficiently obeying to prove to myself that I am one of the elect?”

    This morphs into a legalistic, self-righteous system in which my assurance and my final justification depend upon me – my faithfulness, my good works, my obedience.

  239. Roger du Barry said,

    November 9, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Gentlemen, may I say that I appreciate the thoughtful and gracious posts from you all. I also want to thank Lane and Reed for allowing people with opposite views to argue here.

    A benefit that I get through thrashing things out here is an insight into very different perspectives. For example, on the last thread I took part in, on the IAOC, I finally came to a thorough understanding of the so-called bi-covenantal view of scripture that I have heard so much about here.

    It plays no part in my theological tradition and training at all, so it was not easy for me to piece together how it relates to the IAOC, but I got there in the end.

    So, once again, thanks.

  240. Roger du Barry said,

    November 9, 2011 at 9:59 am

    BTW, that was not an Adios amigos. Replies will be forthcoming DV.

  241. Reed Here said,

    November 9, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Roger: while appreciated, your thanks belong to Lane alone. I am just a “highly paid” lackey. ;-)

  242. michael said,

    November 10, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Roger,

    just some comments and questions directed towards you basis some “conclusive” comments made apart of Scripture by the Apostle Paul about this that you wrote: “…It plays no part in my theological tradition and training at all,…”.

    I would think that anyone of us should gain this same sort of confidence after studying the FV theological tradition that is now being taught by the proponents of them,shouldn’t we?

    The Apostle, when concluding those matters at hand regarding the Corinthian Church wrote this: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

    It seems to me these men in here and especially Pastors Lane and Jason are arguing that the FVist’s theology does not keep one watchful, firm in the Faith or strong it but produces something other than sound doctrine causing them to raise strong opposition to this new theology and tradition?

    It just seems to me after reading all sides, that Pastors Lane and Jason, as well as many of the others commenting in here that are commenting from their side, are not saying what the Apostle wrote, that is, that we are to be subject to such men that are teaching what Pastor Leithart or the others are who have been brought up on charges because they are proponents of the Federal Vision doctrine. There doesn’t seem to be the enthusiasm for them as the Apostle had for Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus and how those men in his day refreshed his spirit. They certainly are drawing attention to Pastor Leithart and the others but not for the same sort of recognition!:

    1Co 16:15 Now I urge you, brothers–you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints–
    1Co 16:16 be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer.
    1Co 16:17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence,
    1Co 16:18 for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men.

    I guess the question I have for you comes down to this about all that by way of citing finally, again, the Apostle Paul, who wrote “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.”, do you have a high degree of confidence that these men, Pastor Leithart and the others, have the love of the Lord, are not accursed and are looking for the Lord’s return, full of the grace of the Lord Jesus and are able by their Federal Vision, New Perspectives of Paul and their theological traditions to teach others what the Apostle Paul taught as cited above he did teach those he had some influence with?

    Are you confident the teachings of the FV, NPP and the ensuing theological traditions measures up to what the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures is teaching to us these days who are, indeed, born again and by those teachings will continually be refreshed and anointed by Him?

    Here is how Paul taught would be the results of the things he was given to teach to others:

    Php 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

    Does the God of Peace confirm what Pastor Leithart is teaching in your view?

  243. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    November 10, 2011 at 11:24 am

    @ 201:

    “This is a key ontological distinction that Leithart, et. al. does not maintain. Thus, according their schema, the RCM and ECM experience EXACTLY the same ontological redemption.”

    Actually, Leithart redefines ontology along narratival/teleological lines, so that the fact that the RCM does not persevere is in fact an ontological difference. And he brings in the marriage analogy here as well, saying something like this: “A marriage that ends in divorce was always qualitatively different from one that lasts.” See The Baptized Body, ch. 4.

    So, according to his account of ontology, there is a distinction.

  244. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    November 10, 2011 at 11:30 am

    @ 238

    Try reading Leithart’s section in TBB about assurance. His whole point is that the usual means of assurance (as laid out in Turretin) actually are always questionable because they focus on ourselves–do I really love God? Am I truly sorry for my sin? Do I really hear the HS, or is it just my own false comfort? So, he says, look outward at what God says about you in baptism, in the supper, in the Word, and trust him, not your own experience.

    I fail to see how believe what God says = trust your own works.

  245. David Gadbois said,

    November 10, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Joshua said Actually, Leithart redefines ontology along narratival/teleological lines, so that the fact that the RCM does not persevere is in fact an ontological difference.

    Aside from being idiosyncratic, evasive sophistry, this is an illegitimate move. He thinks that by blurring together teleology and ontology that he has created a loophole whereby he can drive his semi truck through. He thinks that an RCM is ontologically different *because* of the duration of his union with Christ, that is how the ontological difference is defined, and that this thereby exonerates his views. But this still runs afowl of both Scripture and our confessions – the ontological difference is one of the inward state of man’s heart:

    The Synod rejects the errors of those…. who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.

    For Christ himself in Matthew 13:20ff. and Luke 8:13ff. clearly defines these further differences between temporary and true believers: he says that the former receive the seed on rocky ground, and the latter receive it in good ground, or a good heart; the former have no root, and the latter are firmly rooted; the former have no fruit, and the latter produce fruit in varying measure, with steadfastness, or perseverance.

  246. Reed Here said,

    November 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Joshua: if you will look my many posts on this topic I regularly add the qualifier “excluding perseverance” (or something to that effect).

    So actually, yes, you and I agree and are saying the same thing: Leithart, et.al., maintain the the ECM and the RCM partake of the exact same ontological work of the Spirit, excepting perseverance (ECM yes, RCM no).

    The narrative/teleological viewpoint is nothing more than the historical vs. eschatological perspective. I’ve no problem agreeing that this is a perspective used in Scripture. I completely disagree with Leithart, et.al., using this perspective as if it were the dominant, essentially only perspective. The Scriptural pattern is to use both the narrative/teleological and the ontological in a gospel choreographed danced which leaves the believer with real subjective experience based on a real promised ontological change that has truly occured.

    The FV always leaves one tentative, in part at least, because it refuses to read the Bible ontologically (for all practical purposes).

  247. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Joshua, are you referring to this?

    “Happy marriages do not end in divorce. God does not spring divorce on a faithful bride.” (Baptized Body 105)

    I’m not picking up any ontological vibes from that, are you?

    What do you make of the second servant in chapter 5 of that book?

  248. David Gadbois said,

    November 10, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    It should be scandalous enough to accuse God of divorcing His bride at all.

  249. Brad B said,

    November 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I tried to make a point earlier in this thread concerning the FV view regarding their use of Hebrews 6 as some kind or proof text that ECM’s and RCM’s enjoy the same benefits of the Church in the same way. I ask 2 questions.

    1st
    If the FV adhering bodies of believers find that one of their members backslide or become unfaithful, will they recieve them back again as member upon attempt at repentance? [Or do they consider them reprobate?]

    Hebrews 6:6 would seem to disqualify them as re-members [since they would have to be known reprobates by virture of the sanction listed vs.6]. After all, only ECM’s will never fall away–they’ll stay[must stay] faithful to prove their call or suffer the sanction[impossible to renew].

    2nd doesn’t their view run afowl of WCF 5.5 and the whole of chapter 17?

    That is, if one’s faithfulness is the standard of ones inclusion into the body of Christ, and he neglects it for a season[falls away]–even by Gods design to humble him[WCF5.5], he’s disqualified from repentance.[Hb 6:6 again]

    The FVer might argue that they never fully fall away, but it seems to me that they have set the bar at faithfulness to define inclusion here.

    Maybe someone could point out where my reasoning has failed.

  250. William said,

    November 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I’m not FV (or Presbyterian in my beliefs), but I agree with great predestinarians, like Luther and Augustine, that according to God’s Sovereign Will many reprobate partake temporarily in the blessings of God’s elect even as many elect partake temporarily in the curses of the reprobate.

    David said earlier:
    “It should be scandalous enough to accuse God of divorcing His bride at all.”

    Jeremiah 3:6-8
    “…Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries…”

    As for Heb 6 and 10–these passages clearly affirm that those who fall away utterly were partakers in the Holy Spirit (Heb 6) and were sanctified by the Blood of Christ (Heb 10).
    Likewise, in Matt 18 Christ promises absolutely that the Father will cause one who has been forgiven the ten thousand pound debt to pay that ten thousand pound debt (i.e. lose the Salvation he once had) if he refuses to forgive his brother (i.e. ceases from a saving faith which necessarily produces the fruit of forgiveness, etc)).

    The only way for anyone in this life to know that someone has fallen away utterly (as described in Heb 6 and Heb 10 and Ps 51–take not Thy Spirit away from me utterly) is if they go unrepentant to the grave. Otherwise, while a backslider is still alive there is always hope from our perspective that they will return to the Lord.

    Note: Because of my time I won’t be able to respond to any posts after this post.

    God Bless,
    William

  251. William said,

    November 10, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Er, that should be “because of my *limited* time I won’t be able to respond to any posts after this post”

  252. bsuden said,

    November 11, 2011 at 12:06 am

    But you did reply William, which ahem, kind of reminds one of the equivocal FV theology in the first place.

    In the name of misplaced humility, the FV sees the historical as the eschatological and refuse to think systematically, because that would be arrogant by their lights. So they walk by sight and not by faith and true/visible believers fall away forever.

    Give me JJordan, who is honest about it and at least admits privately that the FV doesn’t belong in the reformed camp.

  253. Roger du Barry said,

    November 11, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Gentlemen, I have not known how to respond to all of your points because there seems to be a disagreement among yourselves. Some say that a man cannot come to Christ by his own power, others say that the unregenerate man upon whom the Spirit has worked can come, truly come, but remain unregenerate.

    You all agree that this man does not receive saving benefits.

    This leaves us with the conundrum of an unconverted man who truly comes to Christ, but is rejected. This looks hopelessly confused.

    There is also your scenario of an unconverted man who truly thinks he is converted, and who may even die in this false belief, according to Berkhof.

    How does this fit on with your insistence that your scheme offers true assurance contra the FV? You are in the same boat on this, methinks.

    Many of the posts argue that FV makes assurance impossible. I am puzzled by this too, since the very definition of faith includes a strong element of assurance. The man who believes has, in his faith, an assurance of his salvation, according to Luther and Calvin, at least, and according to me as well.

    This looking to perseverance for assurance also plays a role, as it must. I can’t understand why this is controversial. Peter commands us to make our calling and election sure by our lives of holiness. What the problem is?

    If you are looking for an invincible assurance, I don’t know where you can find it this side of the resurrection. Even the strongest believer has elements of sin wrapped up in his faith and assurance.

    Michael asks me if Dr. Leithart is truly converted, and contrasts him with Lane and others from the side he considers to be of God. This is an oversimplification. Lane and his co-workers are themselves out of accord with the Standards on central issues, as the PNW trial demonstrated. This means that there is fault on both sides.

    Personally I do not consider that Lane is unconverted, just badly mistaken. Neither do I give a free pass to all that Dr. Leithart has written, or consider him to be working for Satan. This is not a good guys versus the bad guys scenario.

  254. Ron Henzel said,

    November 11, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Roger,

    You wrote:

    Lane and his co-workers are themselves out of accord with the Standards on central issues, as the PNW trial demonstrated.

    Your libel has now gone beyond tedious and tiresome.

  255. todd said,

    November 11, 2011 at 8:44 am

    “Give me JJordan, who is honest about it and at least admits privately that the FV doesn’t belong in the reformed camp.”

    Yes, I think this is the key. Many of us would not have such a strong reaction against FV if they would just take Jordan’s advice and be honest. We would disagree of course with their theology, but it would be a friendly disagreement, like when we debate our Lutheran friends. But holding to FV and claiming full accord with the Westminster Confession and Presbyterianism turns into spin and deception. If they had followed Jordan’s honest advice, say the Presbyterians have missed the boat on this, joined the CREC, none of this would have ever been that big of a deal.

  256. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Roger: you are just not being humble enough to listen to what we really have said. May I request (third time), that if you want your questions fully answered, then spending the time to reading the detailed answers we have already given? AGAIN – try the three threads on temporary justification.

    We do not disagree with one another – you’re just being obtuse (is there obstinacy also present?). The conundrum YOU have concocted (not a problem for us or our standards) is a SUPPOSED discrepancy over the issue of what it means to “really come to Christ?

    ADOPTING YOUR LANGUAGE, again, your conundrum simply goes away by observing that there are two different ontological kinds of coming to Jesus: 1) that which the ECM does through his new nature and, 2) that which the RCM does through his old nature.

    No disagreement, no problem, just you (once again) insisting that your reading of our standards is GOSPEL from which we have strayed.

  257. Dean B said,

    November 11, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Roger

    “Lane and his co-workers are themselves out of accord with the Standards on central issues, as the PNW trial demonstrated.”

    What proof do you offer for this statement? If you believe person X teaches something contrary to the “system of doctrine” found in the WCF and a Presbytery disagrees then should we simply assume you are out of accord with the Standards? Should I believe this about you since Pastor Keister’s Presbytery ruled against you.

    Please provide us with additional insight into this allegation of yours. Demonstrate how the PNWP decisions proves Pastor Keister is out of accord with the Standards or retract your statement.

  258. michael said,

    November 11, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Roger,

    being a novice here I have to pat myself on the shoulder because I thought as much that this, hoping against hope, might be the position you would take.

    I assume you have read:

    The 34th PCA General Assembly appointed an ad interim committee,? and the nine declarations and 5 recommendations that T.E.’s and R.E’s. and presbyteries are to strongly consider dealing with this whole matter?

    I am not as bold as Ron to charge you with libel, but, having said that, I give more weight to his charge now that he has made it.

    I appreciate your honesty and integrity in any event.

    I still believe this matter is not going away until the leadership of the PCA attacks it head on, vigorously, as Pastors Lane and Jason have and hopefully the next GA should, not becoming weak in this fight but remain as, ironically, the Apostle Paul exhorts in light of the Auburn Avenue/New Perspective on Paul/Federal Vision theology movement is a new advent of Biblical reason in their midst:

    1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
    1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    1Co 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

    A longtime Minister/Co-worker friend of mine told me and taught me long ago about the schemes of the devil and just how subtle he becomes as he operates with some, especially when what is behind them, those he comes against, is the Power and Work of the Holy Spirit.

    I assume further that you fully embrace that the PCA and especially the Westminster Divines are such a powerful force to be reckoned with purely because of how the Holy Spirit’s involves Himself in their work spreading the Gospel message to the ends of the earth and all creation making disciples of them??

  259. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    November 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    First: Can we spell it “afoul” rather than “afowl”? I don’t think poulty has anything to do with it.

    Second: David, asserting that something is “evasive sophistry” isn’t actually an argument. (Of course, arguing that someone isn’t a expert in theology because they are 32 or got their first degree in music is also fallacious).

    Third: Reed, if he defines ontology in terms of narrative, then removing perseverance changes the whole thing, and by definition the ECM and RCM do not have the same ontological work of the Spirit. So, to say “sure, except for perseverance, the ontology is the same” is like saying “sure, except for the ending, that story was a tragedy.” If you treat perseverance as just one discrete benefit among many, which you seem to do, then you simply aren’t describing what Leithart is talking about, and we’re not saying the same thing.

    Fourth: Jeff, here’s what I’m thinking of: ” covenant members who are on the way to apostasy are in a different sort of relationship with God than covenant members who are on their way to glory. The analogy of marriage is useful: A couple whose marriage will end in divorce have a different quality of marriage than a couple who will celebrate their golden anniversary happily.” (under # 11 Here” http://www.leithart.com/archives/print/002173.php) I may be reading terms like “a different sort” or “a different quality” in a strong ontological way, but the whole context of these statements is about the nature of “ontology.”

    Fifth: Brad, the narrative perspective matters here. It seems to me the FV wouldn’t make absolute claims about the end of the story somewhere in the middle of it. (See here: http://www.leithart.com/archives/001341.php).

    And I still don’t see how “listen to what God says to you and believe him” = “trust in your own works.”

  260. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Joshua: please help me see my ignorance. Sounds like you’re making mere assertions.

  261. Roger du Barry said,

    November 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Reed, for the record, I am not saying that you all have strayed on this issue. It is in sacramentology and its implications for justification that you have strayed, as I have so often said before.

  262. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Roger: for the record, I really do not think you have any leg to stand on. You’ve as much as admitted you’ve not actually given my argument sufficient effort to understand it.

    Every other time you’ve thrown out the “sacramentology is messed up” argument, more discussion shows that you end up saying we’re not messed after all, but then again … You never seem to be able to make your point. Please quit making the accusation. It is indeed very, very tiring.

  263. michael said,

    November 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Joshua @259, I read both.

    In #11 I thought the wheels fell off when I read this which followed the preceding comments:

    “…I’ll leave to my Presbytery the question of whether my views are out of accord with the Confession. I do think that certain traditional distinctions and terms have done more harm than good. …”.

    That seems to me to be Pastor Stellman’s rub reading his final comments, link available above @219 (protest, not complaint) don’t you think? Frankly I found reading his conclusion quite depressing.

    Also, on down in @11 and to the baptism argument, that got mushy for me. Perhaps you can come alongside Pastor Leithart and be more perspicacious about his understanding about the baptisms for him then @ 10 and 11?

  264. David Gadbois said,

    November 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Joshua, my mention of “evasive sophistry” was not meant to be an argument, it was one clause in one sentence in a post with many sentences. The rest, which you did not deal with, constituted the argument.

    You also say I may be reading terms like “a different sort” or “a different quality” in a strong ontological way, but the whole context of these statements is about the nature of “ontology.”

    First off, this is the same “in some sense” game that the Federal Visionists have been playing for years. The Bible nor our standards are so vague about the differences between the RCM and ECM.

    Second, it is not sufficient just to say there is an ontological difference in the abstract (even setting aside the dubious tactic of only defining such ontological differences in terms of duration/teleology). Re-read the Rejection of Errors in the Canons of Dordt, they say nothing about “ontological differences” in the abstract. It says the differences 1. are *more* the simply differences of duration and 2. the differences are of a heart nature – “good heart” and “firmly rooted” vs. not.

  265. David Gadbois said,

    November 11, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    William, your post picks up on the Israel-as-bride motif in the Old Testament, I was referring to the church-as-bride imagery in the New Testament (a matter which in every context applies to the Elect, invisible church).

    And citing the apostacy passages in Hebrews does nothing to make a connection with the bridal theme.

  266. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Joshua,

    First, thanks for posting the link to that article. What is striking is how different the writing is from Baptized Body, or from PL’s responses at trial. In this article, he is precise, clear, and goes to the heart of the matter. In Baptized Body, much less so.

    PL writes, 11) Distinguishing the Spirit’s work from water baptism, he [Guy Waters] argues, helps preserve the distinction of visible and invisible church. He claims that I share a view of “undifferentiated covenant membership.” That’s not accurate, since I do believe that covenant members who are on the way to apostasy are in a different sort of relationship with God than covenant members who are on their way to glory. The analogy of marriage is useful: A couple whose marriage will end in divorce have a different quality of marriage than a couple who will celebrate their golden anniversary happily. But both couples are equally married. This analogy highlights once again my emphasis on personalism, which, far from giving us an “undifferentiated covenant membership,” gives us a richly varied and nuanced view of covenant membership. In the course of history, people in covenant are related to the Triune God in all sorts of complicated ways; there are all shades and variants of covenant membership, from Moses-like faithfulness, to Aaron-like vacillation, to David-like faithfulness with great sin, to Solomonic apostasy after a time of faithfulness, and so on.

    This actually puts the finger on the problem: Is covenant membership differentiated, or not?

    Scripture seems to me to make these kinds of differentiations: Kingdom of darkness/kingdom of Son (Col 1; 1 Thess 5.5). Objects of wrath, objects of grace (Eph 2). Jews according to the flesh, Jews according to the heart (Rom 2).

    And so on.

    That which differentiates is kingdom membership. Thus far, we could agree with the FV: membership in the church is the marker. But membership in what sense? What John picks up, and what is in view in John 15 as with the rest of the epistle, is that membership according to the flesh is not the kingdom membership that differentiates. The “children of Abraham” that do not have the faith of Abraham are actually the “children of Satan.”

    It is in fact something invisible: faith, the quality of having been born again, of having been transferred from one kingdom to another by virtue of having been forgiven of sins in the sight of God, that differentiates between belonging to the covenant and not belonging to the covenant. The canons of Dort are essentially an outworking of the darkness/light theology of John.

    And here then we have to part company with PL. Moses-like faithfulness, Aronic vacillation, David-like faithfulness, Solomonic apostasy (and repentance) do not differentiate our covenant membership. Our membership is not grounded in our qualities, but in the Savior’s.

    And here, PL will affirm: Yes, yes, of course. But he also writes of things like covenant membership differentiated according to personal qualities; of apostasy from a genuine state of saving faith; and of covenant membership conferred by baptism in despite of Rom 2.28.

    What should be differentiated is not covenant membership, but rather the views of covenant membership. There is man’s view; and there is God’s. There is the church as man sees it, and there is the church as God sees it, and these are not the same. The invisible church is not an eschatological version of the historic church, but a different perspective on the current, historical church.

    Sorry to rant; it just spilled out.

  267. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Well, clean it up for goodness sakes. ;-)

  268. November 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

    David, re: 264, nice post.

    Joshua,

    You wrote:

    Fourth: Jeff, here’s what I’m thinking of: ” covenant members who are on the way to apostasy are in a different sort of relationship with God than covenant members who are on their way to glory. The analogy of marriage is useful: A couple whose marriage will end in divorce have a different quality of marriage than a couple who will celebrate their golden anniversary happily.”

    I concur that you have used an analogy that accurately portrays FV theology. In fact, I’m sure I have never come across such a fine analogy. The problem I have (and maybe others do to) is that it just doesn’t represent biblical theology. A sine qua non of marriage is actual union with one’s spouse, which is truly dissolvable before God. Two who truly become one in marriage can one day not be united in God’s eyes, which is not the case for those who are united to Christ. Your analogy from marriage-union implies that one can lose his union with Christ in the same way that one can lose union with his spouse. Now I know that no analogy is perfect, but it seems to me that the force of your analogy is that one can be united to Christ and then not be. Now if I’m twisting your analogy into something that is not FVish, then would you object to analogy like this one?: Those who “fall away” from Christ are like those who were never married to their partner but rather just cohabitating and then broke up. If you can agree with that analogy, then once again I ask, What has FV brought to the Reformed tradition other than confusion and division? Why wasn’t Reformed enough?


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