Strong Presumption of Guilt in the Case of Jeff Meyers

The SJC panel decision (not binding) has been released. The panel ruled that there was strong presumption of guilt in the case of Jeff Meyers. The Missouri Presbytery is directed to conduct a trial. The importance of this case can scarcely be exaggerated. If confirmed by the full SJC, it will have a bearing on other FV-related cases in the future. Furthermore, it is a relief to get at least a preliminary vindication, as a signer of the original letter of concern: at least some of the SJC members do not believe that we misrepresented Jeff Meyers. Go here for more information and more of the reasoning of the case.

Entering the Justification Debate

There are a lot of differing views of justification on offer in the modern world. If you are Reformed, then I highly recommend reading Owen, Buchanan, and Fesko before reading anything of a heterodox nature, so that you can measure the error by the already possessed yardstick of the truth. If, having read those books, you would desire to have a helpful and clear entrance into the modern debates on the nature of justification, the easiest way in is now undoubtedly the new book edited by Beilby and Eddy. The five views represented are the classical Reformed view (Michael Horton), the progressive Reformed view (Michael Bird), the New Perspective view (James D.G. Dunn), the Finnish Lutheran interpretation (Kärkkäinen), and the Roman Catholic view (O’Collins and Rafferty). And each view is critiqued by all the other views in this format, so you get interaction. Also helpful are the two introductory essays (by the editors) that clearly lay out the interpretive issues in a mostly fair way (the exceptions being a grossly distorted view of the Protestant Scholastics in footnote 73 on pp. 68-69, as well as an overly generalized view of those who accept the objective reading of “pistis Jesou Christou” (as being those who “tend to consider participation in Christ to be secondary to justification by faith alone”) on p. 81.)  You will undoubtedly have a much better view of the playing field after reading this book.

Building Your Theology

I have been very distressed by a disturbing trend in the Christian world, and in the Reformed world, it has been no better. The trend is this: to build one’s theology entirely on the basis of the modern authors. Now, I’m not talking about introductory books on the Reformed faith in general, of which I would say that the modern ones can be extremely helpful in giving to a new believer. I’m talking about how we build our understanding of a particular topic in theology.

Take justification, for instance. Instead of building ont the foundation of Calvin, a’Brakel, Owen, and Buchanan, like they should, people are building their doctrine of justification on N.T. Wright and Norman Shepherd. The problem that then arises is that they judge the older by the newer instead of the other way around. The assumption is generally that the newer is better, since we have more information. Granted we have access to far more information than the Reformers did. That does not mean that we have progressed. Is it impossible that we should have regressed in our understanding of theology? All one has to do is read Turretin to be disabused of the idea that newer is necessarily better and more precise. Yes, we have more information available. That doesn’t mean that we have mastered all the newer information. In fact, it is becoming quite impossible to master any field these days. The Reformers could at least master what was known in their time. Hence, their works tend to be more cohesive, more encyclopaedically sound, than modern works, which tend to be more fragmented.

We should judge the new by the old, if we are to have any success in being Reformed. The adjective “Reformed” depends for its content on what is old. This is simply the way it is. I am not saying that the newer authors are useless. Nor am I saying that nothing can be modified from the older authors, and that we are “stuck” reading the older sources only. But we should build our understanding of a particular doctrine on the older authors, and then judge the newer authors by the old, while still allowing the newer authors to modify our understanding. At some point, I wish to create a series of posts on what the best sources are for building one’s doctrine from what is old (it would be organized according to theological topic).

Incidentally, this is still true even of those folks who wish to abandon the old Reformed ways. How do you know you have left the old ways unless you have studied them? Isn’t the definition of “Reformed” defined by the older theologians, not the newer ones?

A Magnum Opus

Has been birthed by one of our very best biblical theologians, one who has truly taken upon himself the mantle of Geerhardus Vos. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Especially appealing to me is the focus on the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament, surely the most thorny problem in biblical theology, and one to which the author has devoted a great deal of his time.

Contemporary Classical Music

I think I have figured out why contemporary classical music doesn’t satisfy. There are several ways to create and resolve musical tension. There are rhythmical ways, harmonic ways, dynamic ways, timbrel ways, and more. However, of these various ways, the harmonic way is the most easily recognizable way. It works by creating harmonic tension and then relieving that tension. In much modern classical music, there is no harmonic resolution. Therefore you cannot tell when the musical plot has been resolved. Maybe you’ve noticed that when some of these pieces end, you don’t know when to clap. This is because many modern pieces have rejected the tonal system altogether. Without a tonal system, there is no such as resolution. Harmonic musical arcs proceed from tonal consonance to tonal dissonance, and then back to consonance for the resolution.

This idea can be applied to much modern novel-writing as well, especially the more stream-of-consciousness models. If there is no narrative arc from happiness to crisis to happiness, then readers will not be very happy. Of course, that will be the author’s intention in a tragedy, though even there, a resolution to the tension still takes place, just not the one we “want.”

Why do we love this narrative arc? I would suggest that it is because that is how we want history to flow, in its ultimate proportions. It is the narrative arc of the Bible (creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation). I think God put that arc in all of us, and that’s how we want the story to end.

Some Odd Reasoning

I have only just now been reading the Pacific Northwest Presbytery’s reasoning in their exoneration of TE Leithart. I just wanted to comment on pages 13-14 of that document, wherein they discount my testimony as being that of an expert witness. Whether I am an expert in matters FV is not really for me to say. However, in the midst of their claims that I am not an expert witness, there is this tidbit, which I found more than a little odd:


However, much if not all of the controversy concerning Dr. Leithart’s views can be traced to the witness himself and his blog. Leading a campaign against a man, then claiming that, even if the man should be found innocent, the Court should remove him from the PCA because a campaign was waged against him is inappropriate in an expert witness.

Notice this claim: “Much if not all of the controversy concerning Dr. Leithart’s views can be traced to the witness himself and his blog.” I just did a quick look and confirmed that my Leithart posts are dated from June 2007 to October 2007. Furthermore, my recollection is that these posts were hardly hotbeds of controversy. Many of those posts did not generate much discussion. There were nowhere near as many comments on those posts as on, say, the Douglas Wilson posts.

I suppose in one sense I should be flattered by their characterisation of me creating the controversy about Leithart’s views all by me blogsy. However, the court seems to have omitted consideration of Leithart’s involvement in the Knox colloquium in 2003, well before I even started reading about the FV. In fact, I was just talking with Rev. Rick Phillips about that colloquium recently, and I can assure you that he found Leithart’s views controversial, to say the least. The OPC’s justification report dealt with Leithart’s views, and that was done without any reference to my blog. The PCA’s FV report dealt with Leithart’s views, and they didn’t reference my blog either. The Rev. John Otis wrote his book well before he had any knowledge of my blog, and he dealt with Leithart’s views. The same can be said for Brian Schwertley’s book. Guy Waters’s book was published in 2006, again before my blog started dealing with Leithart. In short, Leithart’s views were both known and controversial well before 2007. In fact, I would say that the controversy surrounding Leithart’s views was going along at a pretty good clip well before I blogged about it. In fact, I can say fairly confidently that I would not have blogged about Leithart’s views, if they had not already been controversial. I am almost always behind the curve, time-wise, when something comes out. So, I cannot claim creation of even “much” of the controversy, let alone “all” of it, contrary to the Presbytery’s reasoning. Nor can it be said that I “led a campaign against the man.” What I did in those posts was not some kind of personal crusade or vendetta against Leithart. I critiqued his published work. It was a critique, not a campaign. I could wish that the Pacific Northwest Presbytery had done a little more research into this point before making this claim, especially as it affects my Christian character. They accuse me of creating most or all of the controversy, and then capitalizing on that controversy to try ousting Leithart, an accusation which basically amounts to a conflict of interest. I would hope that Leithart himself would be more than embarassed by this libel.

Installation

My readers are invited to the installation service, whereby I will be installed as the 31st minister of Lebanon Presbyterian Church. The service will take place on Sunday, November 13th, at 6 PM, at Lebanon Presbyterian Church, the address of which is 8002 Newberry Road, Winnsboro, SC, 29180.

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