How to Love Confessionalists

Have you ever noticed that when differences of opinion come up between the confessionalists and the “can’t we all get along” (hereafter abbreviated “cwaga”) folks, that incredibly shrill and unloving voices come from the latter group directed towards the former group, all in the name of love? I have experienced this first-hand almost innumerable times. There are several reasons for this. The first reason is that the cwaga folks almost always take doctrinal criticism personally. The second reason is that they confuse private and public offenses. By this I mean that when someone’s teaching is under scrutiny, the cwaga folks run to Matthew 18, which actually only applies to private offenses. It is Galatians 2 that applies to public offenses, especially teaching and/or morals that are leading people astray. Thirdly, the cwaga folks have confused love with niceness. In this aspect, they have drunk the culture’s koolaid that states that everyone’s opinion is ok, except for the person who denies that statement. That person is unloving (says the culture). And, of course, the cwaga folk have also swallowed the idea that culture is almost always wonderful and sparkling. So for them, culture functions pretty much as a parallel source of revelation to the Bible. Hence the use of movie clips as sermon texts. To them, confessionalists come from a different planet which is not called earth. The reason I am writing this post is (believe it or not, out of love for these folks!) to help them love confessionalists better. This will require clearing the air of wrong ways of loving them, so that right ways can be substituted.

Here are a couple of wrong ways to “love” confessionalists. Firstly, make sure you take everything personally when a confessionalist raises a point of doctrine. Secondly, make sure you make it all about the good ol’ boys club, and not about the sheep. Make sure you don’t care about whether the sheep are getting poisoned or not. That is irrelevant. It’s all about the pastor. Thirdly, make sure that any concern that a confessionalist raises from the confession is accused of raising the confessional standards to the level of Scripture. Fourthly, going along with the third point, make sure that the said issues raised from the confession are belittled as being peripheral concerns, with the implied harsh and unloving criticism that the confessionalist doesn’t care about the gospel, but only cares about minutiae. Fifthly, make sure that the real doctrinal standard of the denomination is not the Westminster Standards, or the Three Forms of Unity, but the nebulous, undefined “Reformed tradition,” which consists of anything anyone might have said in the past, whether taken in context or not, and reread anachronistically in the light of modern disputes, thus creating a very handy wax nose out of said tradition that can allow anything and everything. Sixthly, belittle the Westminster Standards as being out-of-date and irrelevant, and in need of complete overhaul. And when someone objects to this, make sure you accuse them of putting the Standards on the same level as Scripture. Seventhly, belittle the Westminster divines as being overly scrupulous legalists. Eighthly, any time a doctrinal point is raised, make sure you immediately and without evidence or argumentation (or any of the steps of the process that you insist on confessionalists following in their harsh and unloving prosecution of…wolves), accuse them of breaking the ninth commandment. Ninthly, make sure that if any talk of church split happens, that you accuse the confessionalists of being the schismatics, instead of those who are shifting the boundaries. We haven’t moved anywhere, folks. We haven’t moved the ancient landmarks. And, by the way, when someone creates a list such as this, make sure you assume that they are being bitter about past experiences. If you have fallen foul of the confessionalist, make sure you now believe and act on the principle that he is the devil incarnate, and does not deserve any love from here on out. After all, he has no feelings (since he only cares about truth, not love: perpetuate that false dichotomy between truth and love), and cannot be hurt by anything you say, so make sure you lay it on thick. By all means, get entire Presbyteries in on the action, especially if there is one man in particular to attack. Presbyteries, after all, can do no wrong. Ever. And they never need to apologize for anything. Ever. They are infallible. And if anyone questions that principle, accuse them of not submitting to the brethren.

So there are 9 ways not to love confessionalists. Just about all of them have happened to me and many of my friends at one point or another, most of them dozens of times. Now let me tell to you the heart of a confessionalist. He is quite a different species than the cwaga folk, and operates on different principles. So if you really are concerned about love, and are not just mouthing off words of unity and love in order to score political points off the confessionalist, then here is how to love the confessionalist. Firstly, don’t speak about love without speaking about truth. Truth and love are not in competition. The Bible says that two cannot walk together unless they are agreed. “God is love” is in the Bible. So is “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” God is not MORE love than light. Stop pitting the attributes of God over against each other, or claiming that there is a fundamental attribute of God more important than any other. Secondly, remember that confessionalists love the sheep and are trying to see that the sheep (and not just their own!) are getting fed the Word and not poison. Confessionalists know that pastors are eminently expendable. Pastors are going to get attacked. It comes with the territory. Stop idolizing comfort and recognize that people can easily get poisoned by false teaching, and that confessionalists are trying to protect the sheep. In other words, stop misreading motivations. Thirdly, enough with the good ol’ boys club. This creates political machinations that are extremely distasteful to the confessionalist. Fourthly, stop patronizing the confessionalists (not to mention speaking out of both sides of your mouth!) by telling them that they are needed in the denomination, and then doing everything you can to thumb your nose at them and push the envelope. Going along with this, stop claiming to be confessionalists yourselves, if almost all your actions undermine the Standards. Fifthly, recognize that true creativity in theology does NOT mean shifting sideways and discovering new and uncharted doctrines. Rather, true creativity means understanding the SAME doctrines better and deeper. There is a faith once for all delivered to the saints. Going along with this, stop pushing the boundaries! There is NOTHING that confessionalists hate more than this. Stop telling them to accept this, accept that, accept this, be quiet about it, don’t debate it, or else we’re being unloving. The envelope is not infinitely extendable, and many in the PCA have already pushed it way too far. Sixthly, stop pretending that the Reformation is irrelevant and was really unnecessary. If you believe that, go back to Rome. You should never have left the Roman Catholic Church in the first place unless you have a principled gospel reason for it. Seventhly, assume that a confessionalist, when quoting the Standards, is using them as shorthand for what he believes the Bible to be saying, as opposed to worshiping the Standards.

About these ads

100 Comments

  1. Aaron Mansfield said,

    July 30, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I used to think this was just a problem in my denomination; your phrase sums it up: “the cwaga folks have confused love with niceness. In this aspect, they have drunk the culture’s koolaid that states that everyone’s opinion is ok, except for the person who denies that statement. That person is unloving (says the culture)” I used to call it “Methodist Backbone.” That is, the only time anyone would stand up for anything was if someone stood up and said, “this is right/that is wrong.” Then, of course, the confessionalist was (as I have been called) “divisive,” “dogmatic,” “doctrinaire,” or defective in our understanding of grace.

  2. todd said,

    July 30, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I think Calvin’s words apply perfectly to all this:

    This was no small trial, in that Paul and Barnabas are haled into a troublesome tumult. There was mischief enough already in the matter [dissension] itself; but it is a more cruel mischief when the contention waxeth so hot, that they are enforced to fight with their brethren as with enemies. Add, moreover, the infamy wherewith they saw themselves burdened among the simple and unskillful, as if they would trouble the peace of the Church with their stubbornness. For it falleth out oftentimes so, that the faithful servants of Christ are envied alone, and bear all the blame, after that they have been unjustly troubled, and have faithfully employed themselves in defense of a good cause. Therefore, they must be endued with invincible courage to despise all false reports which are carried about concerning them. Therefore, Paul boasteth in another place that he went through the midst of seditions, (2 Corinthians 6:5.) But the servants of God must observe such moderation, that they abhor so much as they can all discord; if at any time Satan raise tumults and contentions, let them endeavor to appease them, and, finally, let them do all that they can to foster and cherish unity. But again, on the other side, when the truth of God is assailed, let them refuse no combat for defense thereof; nor let them fear to oppose themselves valiantly, though heaven and earth go together. And let us, being admonished by this example, learn, so often as there ariseth any tumult in the Church, wisely to weigh through whose fault it came, lest we rashly condemn the faithful ministers of Christ, whose gravity is rather to be praised, because they can abide so valiantly such violent assaults of Satan.
    (Commentary – Acts 15)

  3. Jon Barlow said,

    July 30, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Two cautions I’d offer to confessionalists, fwiw:

    1. be careful to distinguish between explaining the standards and theologizing. A lot of mischief is done by those who think they are being confessional but who really are introducing novelty while pretending it’s in the standards.

    2. the standards are not raw material for theologizing in the same way that the scriptures are. We cannot always hold brothers to those things that are determined by good and necessary consequence from the standards, but we can always do this from the scriptures.

    Combining #2 with a misunderstanding of the standards, or combining #2 with #1 is the most dangerous thing of all. In those cases, one clothes himself in the esteem of the standards, risks the judicial application of the standards, yet all the while being unaware that he is doing theology poorly.

  4. truthunites said,

    July 30, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    CWAGA shorthand: “Confessionalists are Pharisees. And you know what Jesus and Scripture said about the Pharisees, don’t you?”

    Q.E.D.

  5. locirari said,

    July 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    There are so many good things here. One line in particular struck me as an apt description of the current malaise in the Reformed churches:

    Fifthly, make sure that the real doctrinal standard of the denomination is not the Westminster Standards, or the Three Forms of Unity, but the nebulous, undefined “Reformed tradition,” which consists of anything anyone might have said in the past, whether taken in context or not, and reread anachronistically in the light of modern disputes, thus creating a very handy wax nose out of said tradition that can allow anything and everything.

  6. truthunites said,

    July 30, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Actually, it’s not just the confessionalists who experience this lack of love by the CWAGA crowd, but any Biblically-faithful Christian who affirms and upholds Scripture’s clear teaching.

    What’s even more fun is to be persecuted by the R2K crowd when the Confessionalist or Biblical Christian is simply affirming and upholding Scripture’s clear teaching.

  7. Richard Cronin said,

    July 30, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    you said “Stop pitting the attributes of God over against each other, or claiming that there is a fundamental attribute of God more important than any other.” but what about
    “But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” ??

  8. Phil D. said,

    July 30, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Re #7

    Faith and hope are not, as historically denominated, ontological attributes of God.

  9. Philip Larson said,

    July 30, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Looks like you’re really bothered by the CWAGA crowd. I probably wouldn’t disagree, but I have more experience with “confessionalists” who place extra-biblical traditions over the Scriptures. You’re bothered on one side; I’m bothered on the other.

  10. greenbaggins said,

    July 30, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Richard, those are not attributes of God being talked about in 1 Corinthians 13 but what WE are supposed to have.

    Philip, I am not always bothered by the cwaga crowd. Sometimes keeping the spirit of unity in the bond of peace is vitally important. But it doesn’t trump truth. Out of curiosity, which extra-biblical traditions have you seen confessionalists exalt over the Scriptures? Does this have particular examples in your experience?

  11. todd said,

    July 30, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    “What’s even more fun is to be persecuted by the R2K crowd when the Confessionalist or Biblical Christian is simply affirming and upholding Scripture’s clear teaching.”

    Simply having others disagree with your interpretation of Scripture in an on-line discussion forum is not persecution. Maybe you should do some traveling overseas to see what the word really means.

  12. truthunites said,

    July 30, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Todd, when an R2K’er decries that a Confessionalist or a Biblical Christian is committing a sin for simply upholding Scripture’s clear teachings, then this is a non-physical persecution.

  13. Jim Johnson said,

    July 30, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Jon & Philip, I’d find your comments to be much more informative if they offered examples. The article is excellent, and has particular application to at least one recent denominational Assembly.

  14. Frank Aderholdt said,

    July 31, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I’m still waiting for examples to answer Lane’s question to Richard, “Which extra-biblical traditions have you seen confessionalists exalt over the Scriptures?” Specifics, please. Pull up a chair and lay your cards on the table. No need to name names (Lane didn’t in his original post.) We can’t carry on the conversation unless we know what you mean.

    One of the worst diseases afflicting internet blogs is the “sweeping generalization.” We should all conform to this rule: If you can’t (or won’t) back it up, don’t write it.

  15. Jon Barlow said,

    July 31, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Jim, I can think of several public examples all from recent trials. In the deposition of Rev Richard Phillips in the trial transcripts of the Meyers trial, Phillips theologizes several times- on what “solemn admission into” means; on the relationship between baptism, justification, and union with Christ; and in his systematic eliding of WCF 19.1 and 7.2 (without 6.2) to say that Adam had to “achieve a righteousness.” A second example from the same trial is Elder Bob Mattes who argues that Christ’s 30 year life prior to crucifixion was required (rather than just, for example, a weekend) because there were apparently a finite list of positive laws he needed to have the opportunity to keep on our behalf. This related directly to assuming that the law keeping of Christ our Lord functioned like the probation of Adam – an opportunity to achieve a positive righteousness one did not previously possess that could be passed to another (in the same sense Phillips argued.) Finally there is the written testimony of Rev Lane Keister in the Leithart trial in which he begins by systematizing a theology of baptism from the standards. Like Phillips, Keister applies the passage about who is part of the visible church to determine the possible meaning of “solemn admission.” Throughout, Keister theologizes on the basis of a particular notion of what grace is and plugs it into sacramental language. Now, in all these examples, these brothers and fathers may be correct, but if they are correct, it is by systematic theologizing and not by simple confessional interpretation.

    I have full confidence that the scriptures can bear the weight of systematization. I don’t have similar confidence about the confession; it wasn’t written to be raw material for further systematizing. It was written to be a snapshot of english-speaking reformed catholic doctrine in the late 17th century. Tools work best when we apply them to the tasks for which they were designed.

  16. July 31, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Jon,

    In case you are not aware, Francis Turretin concurs with your distinction between an inference from scripture and an inference from the confession:

    Although we must not regard as the doctrine of the Reformed those which can by any method be deduced from their confessions and be imputed to them; nor as the opinion of the Lutherans that which may be inferred from their doctrine – it does not follow that we must not consider as the word of God that which may be lawfully and plainly deduced from it. The cases are entirely different. For the Holy Spirit (who searches the deep things of God as he is omniscient) could foresee and intend whatever it was possible to gather rightly from his words. But men (who are neither omniscient nor infallible) were unable to know what might in after times be deduced from their words.

    Francis Turretin, Institutes of elenctic theology, trans. G. M. Giger, ed. J. T. Dennison (1679; 3 vols, Philipsburgh, 1992), i, 42.

    Cheers,

    Daniel

  17. Jon Barlow said,

    July 31, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Thanks, Daniel. That’s very helpful.

  18. rfwhite said,

    July 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Lane:

    After reading this, it occurred to me to ask: who is counted as a confessionalist in this post?

    The reason I ask is that in recent years I have seen the label shift depending on which doctrinal topic is being debated. Some would be labeled “confessionalist” in one area of doctrine and “latitudarian” in others. For example, is a man still a “confessionalist” if he opposes the FV and is latitudinarian on creation, or on sanctification, or on Sabbath? When does a man start being a “confessionalist” and when does he cease being a “confessionalist”? Is there a boundary he has to cross or keep to be defined as such?

  19. Bob B said,

    July 31, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I used to be a lot more confessionalistic in my outlook (back when I attended a PCA church). One of the major issues for me leaving the church was Paedo-communion, which runs me afoul of the Westminster standards.

    To me being confessional is very similar to the whole ‘one true church’ thing that the RC’s and the Orthodox have. For them the mark of true Christianity is belonging to their communion – for confessionalists it is how closely one adheres to a specific confession.

    Another example of a confession gone awry would be our Baptist brethren’s insistence on immersion. While it may not be a ‘confession’ in the same sense as the reformed (or PCA) folk use it, it is indeed a doctrinal position that they take very seriously. Your baptism isn’t valid unless you do it in that way – God’s church is fenced in by their understanding of baptism (something I reject).

    I think confessions are useful for defining denominations, but not particularly useful in determining ‘orthodoxy’ since one man’s orthodoxy is another’s heresy depending on which denomination you are in, and since all denominations claim to rest on scripture for the support of their confessions.

    I guess that puts me in as a ‘cwaga’. My problem isn’t with any particular confessionalist believing whatever it is they want to believe, or a denomination supporting one set of beliefs over another. I just find the ground a bit shaky – and no, I don’t recommend crossing any proverbial rivers to solve this problem.

  20. July 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Jon,

    That was a very creative extrapolation beyond what I said at the trial. What I actually said was an illustration based solidly on Romans 5:12-28. The problem with FV is that they redefine common terms and concepts to appear compliant with the Standards while running far from them. As the PCA FV Report observed: “Moreover, to affirm the Standards, and then redefine the terms used in the Standards, is not
    to affirm the Standards.”

    For the record, both Rick and Lane simply stated the commonly accepted interpretations of the Standards throughout its history. No extraneous theologizing was required, though both are eminently capable of doing fine theology. Unfortunately, the onus in those two trials was apparently on the orthodox to prove orthodoxy rather than on the heretics to meticulously defend their excursions. Very sad to see.

  21. todd said,

    July 31, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    “Todd, when an R2K’er decries that a Confessionalist or a Biblical Christian is committing a sin for simply upholding Scripture’s clear teachings, then this is a non-physical persecution.”

    One, that is still not persecution. Two, what are you talking about?

  22. greenbaggins said,

    July 31, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Dr. White, I’m not sure it is vitally important to nail down a particular definition of who is counted as a confessionalist. What is more important for me is the fact that there is no overlap between the confessionalist and the cwaga on the issues on the table in the post. I’ve known many people who might have an exception to the WS at some point, and would still not even remotely be cwaga material. I’m trying to point out a completely different set of attitudes: one attitude that sees the confession as unifying (the confessionalist), and the other as seeing the confession as a point of divisiveness (the cwaga).

  23. greenbaggins said,

    July 31, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Jon, I don’t see your description of what I did in that testimony as in any way accurate. Your presuppositions govern your interpretation of my work in that testimony. They do not match my interpretation of my testimony at all. The WS say that no one may be baptized who is outside the visible church. The WS say that children (unqualified!) are part of the visible church. Therefore, to say that without baptism no one is part of the church is to misinterpret the standards. The reason that children are to be baptized is that if their parents are believing, they are already part of the visible church. This is simply interpreting the WS.

  24. sensusplenior said,

    July 31, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    I believe most English readers will see that yours is quite clearly the eisegesis. The standards (e.g., sc 95) describe the conditions under which someone outside of the visible church may be baptized (profession of faith or being offspring of a church member.)

  25. sensusplenior said,

    July 31, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Yet I am not concerned with whether you are wrong or right but with how you then employ or make conclusions by means of further theologizing. You decrease the chances that the theologizing will be successful with invalid confessional premises, but you certainly don’t eliminate the risk of failure when you start even with explicit premises. It’s just awkward theological workmanship to begin with the wrong tool for the job.

  26. Frank Aderholdt said,

    July 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I must be overly tired tonight, or my brain is fried, or both. My reaction to #25 is simply, “Huh?”

    Some of us seem to be in danger of turning something basically simple into a tangle of confusion. To be Reformed is to affirm the statements and teachings of the Reformed confessions and catechisms. As Lane reminded us, “interpreting” the Standards is to combine, restate, or clarify their statements. Every teacher in every field of human endeavor does this. If the Standards contain the system of doctrine taught in the Scriptures, and we teach the Standards accurately, then we are still true to the Scriptures. We have a system to check those who stretch the Standards beyond their plain meaning, or who make unwarranted deductions. It’s called the church courts. Our brothers may fail us at times, or we may fail them, but we are still anchored by the clarity of our confessional documents. In a confessional church, the text to which we have subscribed is always the right tool for the job. No, I’m not placing the Standards above the Bible. You “confessional” guys know what I mean.

  27. July 31, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    #21, Todd,

    For example, do R2Kers condemn sermons by Confessionalists which criticize the President of the United States? A sermon which would likely influence the congregation not to vote for that particular politician, nor for the party that that politician belongs to.

    Todd, are you an R2k’er? In league with D.G. Hart and Steve Zrimec?

  28. Phil D. said,

    July 31, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Re #24

    Lane is absolutely correct in his interpretation of the WS respecting why infants are to be baptized. In fact the standards are perfectly self-interpretive in this matter as LC 166 expands on and clarifies the statements made in SC 95 (as any English reader can plainly see…)

  29. July 31, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    “Have you ever noticed that when differences of opinion come up between the confessionalists and the “can’t we all get along” (hereafter abbreviated “cwaga”) folks,…”

    That’s worth the price of admission right there.

  30. greenbaggins said,

    July 31, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Yes, WLC 166 plainly says that infants are already within the covenant respecting their parents who have professed faith. How can they be within the covenant but outside the visible church? If, then, they are ALREADY within the covenant, then baptism does not bring them into the covenant, but is a marker, a sign, a seal of their ALREADY being in the visible church.

  31. greenbaggins said,

    July 31, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Just to add another thought here. What irritates me no end is when any appeal whatsoever to the Westminster Standards as, say, STANDARDS of theology is interpreted as putting them on a level with Scripture. They are not on the level of Scripture any more than the preaching of the Word of God is on the same level as Scripture. And yet, in another sense, to the degree to which preaching and the Standards are accurate to the Word, they can be said to be the Word derivatively. I know I am opening myself up to the very charge I am trying to nullify. However, with the right safeguards in place this does not fall foul of the problem. Preaching and the standards have this feature in common: that when they explain the Word accurately, they are the normed norm. It is usually explained in this passive versus active way: the Scriptures are the norming norm, whereas the Standards are the normed norm. But both are norms!

  32. July 31, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Lane, your post at 10:50 illustrates the point very well – you may be right that the visible church is coextensive with the covenant to which the infants of believers belong at their birth, but this is a deduction – the doing of theology. You (and Phillips) are changing the phrase “solemn admission into” into the phrase “solemnizing a previous admission” – this is an aggressively theological move. Put another way – which is more aggressive – adding “baptized” in front of the the word “children” in WCF 25.2 or changing “solemn admission into” into the phrase “solemnizing a previous admission?”

    My goal here is to try and make you conscious of what you’re doing when you interpret the confession the way you’re doing it. My secondary goal is hopefully to illustrate how dangerous and unfair it is to hold brothers, not to the bible, or the plain language of the standards, but rather to a tertiary deduction made by trying to systematize the confession’s covenant theology with its ecclesiology.

    LC 166 plainly teaches:

    1. Those outside the visible church are also outside of the covenant of promise.
    2. Those outside can only be baptized if they profess faith.
    3. The one exception is that you can baptize children of those who are in the church even without a profession of faith because they are in the covenant of promise (see 1).

    What it does not say is:

    4. that everyone who is in the covenant of promise is also in the visible church

    And yet that’s precisely what it would have to say in order for your theological deduction to transform into a plain teaching of the confession that you could then harmonize with the “solemn admission” phrase in the WCF.

    Now, step back again and see the forest – how can we possibly consider kicking a man out of his pastorate because he believes that baptism is the means of solemnly admitting someone to the visible church?

  33. locirari said,

    August 1, 2013 at 12:48 am

    @ 32.
    Now, step back again and see the forest – how can we possibly consider kicking a man out of his pastorate because he believes that baptism is the means of solemnly admitting someone to the visible church?

    This isn’t an accurate statement of the issue at stake in the FV trials in the PCA.

  34. Dr DeRidder said,

    August 1, 2013 at 8:57 am

    @ Lane,

    I guess, I am “ancient”, holding on to the view that “truth trumps everything” except love. The “modern” form of communication, the “blog”, makes it is difficult to ascertain when someone communicates love that insures the peace as well as the purity of the church.

    The “Tone” of one’s message can be misconstrued, that said, a comment like, “I don’t know how long I’ll remain in the PCA.”, when made, may still be dismissed as a “youthful tantrum” similar to the exclamation, “I’m going to take my toys and go home.”

    ….I have been on sessions that would have already organized a “search committee” if a pastor was publicily threatening “kool-aide drinking” stance as in Gyana ….but that’s my “TR” side talking.

  35. todd said,

    August 1, 2013 at 9:21 am

    “For example, do R2Kers condemn sermons by Confessionalists which criticize the President of the United States? A sermon which would likely influence the congregation not to vote for that particular politician, nor for the party that that politician belongs to. Todd, are you an R2k’er? In league with D.G. Hart and Steve Zrimec?”

    I never quite know how to address anonymous bloggers, so, Mr. Truth, claiming publicly that a denomination or minister has gone too far in binding consciences in the political realm is not persecution, it is a public disagreement. Here is what Charles Hodge wrote in his protest when he thought the General Assembly had done the same with the Gardiner Spring resolution.

    “The General Assembly in thus deciding a political question, and in making that decision practically a condition of membership to the Church, has, in our judgment, violated the Constitution of the Church, and usurped the prerogative of its Divine Master…We regard this action of the Assembly, therefore, as a great national calamity, as well as the most disastrous to the interests of our Church which has marked its history.”

    Strong words, for sure, but I do not remember anybody suggesting that Hodge was *persecuting* the ministers of his denomination for claiming they have gone beyond what Scripture and the church Constitution allowed concerning the church and politics.

    And I am not “in league” with anybody, except the men of my denomination and Presbytery who I have made vows of submission to; who I may have theological affinities with in certain areas have nothing to do with the point being made. The point is, to complain of persecution when you are publicly criticized for something you have publicly spoken or written is simply a way to squelch public debate and disagreement, which is partially what this original post is about.

  36. Dr DeRidder said,

    August 1, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Jesus was wise teaching in parables, no names were mentioned but everyone their “alter-ego” in the parable……Naming names is so just not necessary …the passive-aggressive approach is much more civilized and savage at the same time…;-)

  37. Zrim said,

    August 1, 2013 at 11:09 am

    TUAD, your cwaga slip is showing. But how is it “condemning” and “persecutorial” to point out the impropriety of carelessly mixing politics and faith from the pulpit? You might consider how doing so earned cyber-banishment, which seems way more cwaga-ish than confessional.

  38. greenbaggins said,

    August 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Sensus, there are way too many problems with your arguments for me to address. You didn’t address my points, but rather made points of your own. But one point I will address, and that is this: Leithart, for one, and most of the other FV guys as well, claim WAY more than merely saying that baptism admits one to the visible church. Leithart believes in full transformative baptismal regeneration. I would not want to kick someone out of a denomination for merely saying that baptism admits one into the visible church. But your saying that such is what I’m saying is not only a gross caricature, but also a lie. So, since you do not seem to be able to understand and/or assess accurately what I’m saying, I have no wish to continue the conversation.

  39. Jeremy Sexton said,

    August 1, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Jon/sensus: This is the clearest, most helpful exposé of the methodological problems with the TR accusers that I’ve seen.

    Daniel: Thanks for the Turretin quote. Very appropriate.

  40. August 1, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Jon and Jeremy,

    No problem.

  41. August 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    It seems to me that Dr. Barlow has hit the nail on the head. What Pastor Keister sees as painfully obvious deductions within the standards, others do not see as obvious at all. And what I think Keister and others have failed to see is that those deductions have lead them down a certain theological path, a path that not everyone has agreed is essential to the standards. These deductions, while seemingly plain and insignificant deductions to some, are actually quite significant because they leave those who take them apparently blind to their theologizing of the standards. And this is where the danger comes in, not that they should hold to certain positions, but that they should hold other’s feet to the fire based on their deductions from the standards, when there is also another way of reading those texts.

  42. truthunites said,

    August 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    #21, Todd,

    Are you the Todd referenced and excerpted from here:

    “Men like Rev. Todd Bordow, pastor of an Orthodox Presbyterian congregation in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, are saying this about bestiality:

    “Not being a theonomist or theocrat, I do not believe it is the state’s role to enforce religion or Christian morality. So allowing something legally is not the same as endorsing it morally. I don’t want the state punishing people for practicing homosexuality. Other Christians disagree. Fine. That’s allowed. That is the distinction. Another example – beastiality (sic) is a grotesque sin and obviously if a professing member engages in it he is subject to church discipline. But as one who leans libertarian in my politics, I would see problems with the state trying to enforce it; not wanting the state involved at all in such personal practices; I’m content to let the Lord judge it when he returns. A fellow church member might advocate for beastiality (sic) laws. Neither would be in sin whatever the side of the debate. Now if the lines are blurry in these disctinctions,(sic) that is always true in pastoral ministry dealing with real people in real cases in this fallen world.”

    o Certainly we can be grateful for Rev. Bordow’s affirmation that we live in a fallen world. But apparently, in Rev. Bordow’s world, not only is homosexuality a matter of moral indifference to the state, even the puppies are not safe, and we have no moral imperative to protect them from sexual perversion.

    These are, of course, not new problems. One can fairly argue that homosexuality has a history going back to ancient Greece. Those who argue that the Bible knows nothing of homosexuality as a mutually consensual loving relationship and who argue that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed based on a homosexual rape attempt rather than consensual homosexuality are simply unaware of or unconcerned about the situation in Greco-Roman world in which the apostles lived and wrote. Scripture also condemns sex with animals, so that sin clearly existed thousands of years ago. At least one case of bestiality happened in Puritan New England, where Calvinists in that day had very different views from Rev. Bordow on how to punish the lawbreaker.”

  43. truthunites said,

    August 1, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    (continued)

    “But how can anyone [Rev. Todd Bordow] possibly argue, even on the basis of natural law rather than revealed religion, that the civil magistrate should not punish those who have sex with dogs, cats, cows, pigs and goats? Bestiality isn’t a common problem today, but it is still punished by law in at least some American jurisdictions.

    Why are we even discussing this in conservative and confessional Reformed circles where our ministers and members can be presumed to believe the Bible? Aren’t some things so obviously wrong that even most unbelievers today still understand they need to be prohibited and punished? Even secular liberals in animal rights organizations generally understand the need to protect puppies from abuse.”

    Excerpted from:

    What is “Two Kingdoms” Theology and What Does It Matter.

  44. todd said,

    August 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Truth,

    Let’s see…Changing the subject, copying and pasting from other people’s blogs from years ago, crying persecuted when someone publicly disagrees with you…do you ever actually deal with the issue on the table and debate the merits of a position?

    You are the one that complained that you were being persecuted, and yet you still have not produced any evidence that you are being persecuted. If the quote above is your idea of receiving persecution, I hate to see what you cry when you are actually criticized.

  45. truthunites said,

    August 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Todd,

    Are you the Rev. Todd Bordow referenced in #41?

    Correction: What is “Two Kingdoms” Theology and Why Does It Matter.

  46. CD-Host said,

    August 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I think there are couple things being conflated here. One is the bigger question at stake. How big should the PCA be? Or to put it another way should the PCA be the denomination for conservative Presbyterians or should it be just one of many rather equal denomination for conservative evangelicals?

    Let’s assume there are 4 desirable traits:

    a) Rather detailed confessions
    b) Narrowly defined
    c) Genuine enforcement
    d) A denomination that is large enough to have influence on the American evangelical scene.

    and you can only have 3. Which goes overboard?

    And what point should a church split and form two independent denominations? Anything short of 100% agreement? 99% agreement, 98, 97%…? This debate in the PCA is between people who agree on at a minimum 98%. cwaga generally want to alter (b) to be confessions generously defined. This is a real debate but this is where the core of the debate is.

    The history of fundamentalism and arguably the history of small Presbyterian sects show that narrowly defined confession tear denominations apart even while they often do eventually create more doctrinal unity. I don’t think it is too hard to see there are two sides here.

    ____

    A few other point of disagreement.

    Ninthly, make sure that if any talk of church split happens, that you accuse the confessionalists of being the schismatics, instead of those who are shifting the boundaries. We haven’t moved anywhere, folks. We haven’t moved the ancient landmarks.

    Most of the cwaga don’t believe that you haven’t moved the landmarks. Neither side supports the Christianity of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd… 15th, 16th 17th or 18th centuries. The ancient landmarks are not a question of confession they are a question of history and quite often the cwaga crowd has a better case once the debate is over history and not theology. For example there is a debate about baptism above. Prior to Protestantism I’m hard pressed to find any group of Christians from Gnostics, to Marcionites to Hermetics to the neo-Gnostic movements of the middle ages who rejected baptismal regeneration. I think you can make a rather strong claim that the FV are distorting the language of the confessions. I don’t think you can make any claim that the FV position isn’t far closer to what ancient Christians believed.

    In general confessionalists are laying claims to new doctrines from the last five hundred years often against ancient landmarks. To take another example e Mary as the new Eve. By the time there was a non-Gnostic, non-Enraitite Christianity that Christianity embraced Mary as having semi-divine significance. Luther and Calvin rejected that position, which is fine but it is they not the people who embrace a greater role for Mary who are breaking ancient standards.

    ___

    Secondly, remember that confessionalists love the sheep and are trying to see that the sheep (and not just their own!) are getting fed the Word and not poison…. recognize that people can easily get poisoned by false teaching

    That really is one of the key points of dispute. cwaga tend to have a vastly different estimate of the importance of these doctrines and don’t believe they are poisoning the sheep. Part of what creates the heat is that the cwaga believe confessionalists are creating drama about issues that do not affect salvation.

    ___

    Obviously if these debates did affect salvation, if the sheep were easily poisoned if the ancient sources were crystal clear on these issues and the confessions doing nothing more than parroting ancient consensus there would be nothing to debate. But that’s not the cwaga believe at all.

  47. rfwhite said,

    August 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    22 Lane: thanks. I see better your focus on attitudes. It strikes me too that Frank Aderholdt’s comment in 26 puts matters in perspective with his focus on our ordination vow related to the Standards containing the system of doctrine taught in Scripture.

  48. Mark Horne said,

    August 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    “one point I will address, and that is this: Leithart, for one, and most of the other FV guys as well, claim WAY more than merely saying that baptism admits one to the visible church. Leithart believes in full transformative baptismal regeneration. I would not want to kick someone out of a denomination for merely saying that baptism admits one into the visible church.”

    Yet every anti-FV crusader I have read makes a point of revising the Westminster Standards on exactly this point. I have constantly seen it use as an accusation that FV are “heretics.” That’s my memory, for what it is worth.

    In the meantime, no one seems to realize the obvious about Leithart, he is probably one of the most Zwinglian writers in the PCA. With his presbytery and the SJC, I believe Peter is within the bounds of our system of faith, so I’m not saying my questions about his perspective mean anything serious about his orthodoxy. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that he seems to interpret everything in terms of symbolic systems and cultural boundaries. I think Leithart is a valuable teacher, but I continue to question quite what to do with his perspective on this. His whole point is that being admitted into the visible church–which is “the Kingdom of Christ, the house and family of God out of which there is no possibility of salvation,” and according to the PCA BCO primary principles (as well as 1 Cor 12) the body of Christ–is an amazing grace from God. No matter what I think of his philosophy, that last claim seems obvious on both Biblical and confessional grounds.

    Yet to hear his accusers, he believes in some sort of “substance” transition. I find Peter Leithart’s portrayals by his PCA critics to show that they already had a verdict before they ever read him–and they needed to fit him into it.

    Over and out.

  49. Dr DeRidder said,

    August 1, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    When I read Green Baggins bloggers commenting on “reformed tradition” and “unity of the brethren”, I keep wondering when weekly confessions to our pastors will be introduced as an outward sign of the covenant and reason for amending our Standards…. Wait… that along with baptismal regeneration will only be posted on CtC or Creed, Code& cult

  50. todd said,

    August 1, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Don’t know if you are all following this debate, but John MacArthur has come out and publicly criticized Mark Driscoll for inappropriate comments made from the pulpit. Though probably receiving a “D” from the more CWAGA crowd, I find it refreshing.

    “I don’t know what Driscoll’s language is like in private conversation, but I listened to several of his sermons. To be fair, he didn’t use the sort of four-letter expletives most people think of as cuss words—nothing that might get bleeped on broadcast television these days. Still, it would certainly be accurate to describe both his vocabulary and his subject matter at times as tasteless, indecent, crude, and utterly inappropriate for a minister of Christ. In every message I listened to, at least once he veered into territory that ought to be clearly marked off limits for the pulpit.”

  51. CD-Host said,

    August 1, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    @Tood #48

    I wrote about this the time MacArthur v. Driscoll. I’m not sure that this is really the same thing that Lee is talking about. MacArthur has made a career of picking these sorts of fights in the broader Christian community, it is his shtick. MacArthur doesn’t claim to be acting out of love for Acts 29, Driscoll repulses him, his desire was to embarrass him and drive him from the pulpit. Conversely the Acts 29 people wanted to consider MacArthur as part of “fundamentalism” and thus essentially a different religion, his criticism irrelevant. Driscoll ended up hinting he considers MacArthur and his circle a kook and wants his congregation to view him that way. This fight is clarified by no pretense that these men love each other. This is a pure nasty political fight the same you would see among secular politicians for control and influence. As both men insulated their group’s from the other’s influence, there are hard feelings among the congregations on both sides.

    As an aside, neither one of these men got their wish. MacArthur’s criticism of “the cussing pastor” has stuck with Driscoll and been a barrier in acceptance in some quarters as one of the most influential pastors of this generation. On the other hand Driscoll influence grows and the mainstream Reformed evangelical community has not been willing to step away from him. MacArthur ended up marginalized more than Driscoll did by refusing to appear together.

  52. todd said,

    August 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    CD-Host

    I do not know the motives behind the dispute, so that might color my perception of it, but I do think in general it is good when pastors are called out publicly for crossing the line like that, and not keeping these things hidden for the sake of an appearance of unity.

  53. CD-Host said,

    August 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    @Todd —

    I think that public accountability is the only type left for celebrity pastors. So I agree getting called out is good if no formal structures exist. I don’t happen to think Driscoll was guilty of what MacArthur accused him of nor do I think MacArthur is the right guy even if it were a violation. MacArthur has already gone to war against Missional Christianity and post-modrnism. So there was no way for Discoll’s side to separate out the issues.

    My main point about why I think this example doesn’t really fit is that no one is pretending these is any love here. This is a bare-knucked fight for influence and money. I guess you can call that “about the sheep” but really the main reason they fought was that they hated each other.

  54. darrelltoddmaurina said,

    August 1, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Since “Truth Unites and Divides” has asked whether “Todd” here is Rev. Todd Bordow of the OPC in Rio Rancho, N.M., and has quoted my article critical of his views on civil legalization of homosexuality and bestiality, and since part of “Todd’s” response is to say he’s not sure how to respond to anonymous bloggers, I’ll ask the same question with my name attached.

    For whatever it’s worth, I’m not a huge fan of anonymous blogging, though I realize it has become as common as CB “handles” were when I was much younger. I don’t know who “Truth Unites and Divides” is, but when I post on these boards, I use my own name.

    Whether or not to allow anonymous screen names is up to the webmaster, not to me, but I do want to make clear to “Todd” that I am not posting under some other “sock puppet” online name.

  55. darrelltoddmaurina said,

    August 1, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    On a different matter, I don’t want to get too far into the fight between MacArthur and Driscoll, but can we all agree that in the vast majority of our churches, using cuss words from the pulpit would cause more problems than it would help?

    Driscoll knows his church and his people. If his people want to listen to that, and if his church leaders don’t object, I’m not going to criticize him for his use of language. I live outside a major Army post, I hear foul language on a regular basis, and I can’t think of very much which would shock me.

    But even if it’s lawful, I don’t think it’s helpful in most situations.

    We need to be aware of our cultures, and there are reasons why Bunyan very elliptically referred to a threat of rape in Pilgrim’s Progress when most of us today would be much more direct if referring to an attempted rape, quite probably using the word and quite possibly being even more clear about what the rapist was doing and what the woman was doing in her attempt to resist.

    Driscoll has a valid point that the biblical standard is not the moralism of Victorian England, and Scripture uses very blunt language at times. But Scripture also uses its own euphemisms, and I think that shows that God Himself chooses to avoid needlessly offensive language, while being quite willing to offend people when that offense is actually necessary.

  56. todd said,

    August 1, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Darrell,

    The thread is not about why Presbyterians allow freedom of conscience for Christians in voting on which evils the government should outlaw. It is about how confessionalists are treated in certain circles. One self-proclaimed confessionalist claimed that confessionalists were being persecuted by certain two kingdom advocates. I joined the discussion by challenging that claim and asked for proof of such an assertion. All I received back was pulling old quotes on the 2k view, but no evidence of persecution to back his claim. I am hoping that most who call themselves confessionalists do not resort to such whining without evidence. (Actually, simply responding that he had misspoke or exaggerated would have been fine). If you want to discuss 2k views I suggest a different thread.

  57. August 1, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Me: “Todd, Are you the Rev. Todd Bordow referenced in #41?”

    Darrell Todd Maurina: “I’ll ask the same question with my name attached.”

  58. darrelltoddmaurina said,

    August 1, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Todd, I do subscribe to new posts on Green Baggins and read threads, as well as occasionally participating in discussions, but I didn’t have a “dog in the fight” until “Truth Unites and Divides” cited something I had written. TUAD’s question isn’t on my agenda, and I do not intend to press the point.

    I do think TUAD is asking a reasonable question.

    However, a few clicks gave me what appears to be the answer. Clicking on your name shows this link: http://en.gravatar.com/toddbordow.

    So unless there are two Todd Bordows in the conservative Reformed world, I think we have our answer.

    I’ve spent the entire day at a conference trying to plan how our Army installation can respond to the massive military cutbacks which are already happening and even worse ones on the horizon, plus I’m dealing with a massive sinkhole that could undermine a street in an important commercial development, and on top of that I’m following a case of a drugged-up man who used keys to stab a pregnant woman, injuring both her and her baby by piercing the uterus and forcing an emergency C-section, and then attacked two jail guards so severely he had to be Tasered to bring him under control. In a pre-Taser police environment, he probably would have been shot, and it is quite likely this was an attempted “suicide by cop.”

    In other words, I have other things to do. I trust the lack of a quick reply here to any questions I may be asked will be forgiven, since it may be a bit of time until I get back to reading Green Baggins.

  59. Reed Here said,

    August 2, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Darrell and TUAD: my reading leads me to conclude that Todd has the right of this. TUAD’s challenge to Todd, that you’ve now picked up Darrell, is not germane to Lane’s post.

    I admit I might not be reading clearly or not getting what TUAD thinks is a valid connection between his question to Todd and Lane’s post. Accordingly, TUAD, as you brought it up first, please make the connection clear (or Darrell, if you find time make your own connection). I’ll take a look at your response and make a judgment call then.

    Or, you can drop it and move elsewhere now? :-) Thanks.

  60. August 2, 2013 at 10:51 am

    …snip…

    Reed DePace: “Accordingly, TUAD, as you brought it up first, please make the connection clear (or Darrell, if you find time make your own connection).”

    “R2K men tell us not to testify to the world that its deeds are evil. R2K men say that civil law should not testify to the world that its deeds are evil. R2K men tell the world they believe in separation of God and state. R2K men tell the Church to sit down and shut up or there will be a riot.

    …snip…

  61. Dr DeRidder said,

    August 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Some in the …cwaga crowd… are quick to invoke “public” and private imprecatory prayers when “niceness” offenders become polemic or when their comments are discounted.

  62. Zrim said,

    August 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    TUAD, right, 2kers are all about muzzling. That’s why a place like Old Life is slow to censor if ever and a place like BaylyBlog regularly bans (and even edits comments). But making a point about there being a time to speak and a time to remain silent isn’t the same as muzzling everyone. It’s just good Ecclesiastes-like sense. It’s when your side blusters and bans that you show your thoroughly un-confessional colors. You fellows don’t like pointed disagreement and is what makes you so cwaga.

  63. Reed Here said,

    August 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    TUAD: that reference is on topic. The previous link postings and associated comments, and the part I edited out of this comment, are not. They amount to a muddying the waters, and possibly a personal attack in this context. Not saying you intend that. Do think others might read it that way. Accordingly, nope.

  64. truthunites said,

    August 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Zrim: “TUAD, right, 2kers are all about muzzling.”

    Thanks for owing up to it. A parallel between the CWAGA and R2K’ers:

    Confessionalist Lane: “Going along with this, stop pushing the boundaries! There is NOTHING that confessionalists hate more than this. Stop telling them to accept this, accept that, accept this, be quiet about it, don’t debate it, or else we’re being unloving.”

    Confessionalist Tim: “R2K men tell us not to testify to the world that its deeds are evil. R2K men say that civil law should not testify to the world that its deeds are evil. R2K men tell the world they believe in separation of God and state. R2K men tell the Church to sit down and shut up or there will be a riot.

  65. Reed Here said,

    August 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    TUAD: well, yep, on topic. Not sure I buy the correlation, but you’re definitely on topic. Thanks ;-)

  66. todd said,

    August 2, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Truth,

    Again, you seem to be whining. Where are the riots? Where are the complaints to Presbytery? Where are the charges? In the real world, some of us believe you theonomist types have crossed a line and bind the conscience inappropriately on political matters. You know, the reason Charles Hodge protested the Assembly. But no one is forcing you to stop preaching what you preach, no one is threatening your family, no one is suggesting those who disagree with us are not legitimate ministers. Do you expect to say or write whatever you want and no one ever cry foul or express disagreement? I must of missed the memo where you deserve special treatment and unquestioning admiration for your views. As Zrim said, it seems you just can’t handle anyone disagreeing with you. And that is what is so CWAGA.

  67. Dr DeRidder said,

    August 3, 2013 at 11:39 am

    In defense of the …cwaga…. group ….they might also be the…. AWANA…. group:

    2 Tim 2:15-19

    15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness. 17 And their word will spread like gangrene; Hymenaeus and Philetus are among them. 18 They have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and are overturning the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, having this inscription:
    The Lord knows those who are His, and
    Everyone who names the name of the Lord
    must turn away from unrighteousness.

  68. Reed Here said,

    August 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    TUAD: please, no more linking to posts that are not relevant to the topic. If you want to know who Todd is, contact him off-blog. Be prepared to offer him quid pro quo and reveal your identity to him.

  69. RBerman said,

    August 5, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Argh, wall of text… How about reformatting the original post so that its various sub-points are set off against each other? Separate paragraphs, boldface “First” and “Second” etc., something.

  70. Cris A. Dickason said,

    August 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Appreciate the original post (the “OP”), Lane. While it’s not for me as an OP (Orthodox Presbyterian) to quickly join in a topic that is closely tied to Lane’s federation, the PCA. I do find the following must not be left to stand unchallenged.

    Jon Barlow @ 15 wrote:

    I don’t have similar confidence about the confession; it wasn’t written to be raw material for further systematizing. It was written to be a snapshot of english-speaking reformed catholic doctrine in the late 17th century. Tools work best when we apply them to the tasks for which they were designed.

    I’m sorry, but that view of the Westminster standards is wrong. In the midst of a civil war with broad or deep ecclesiastical implications, a civil war that “featured” the execution of Charles I, King of England, Scotland, Ireland, the Westminster Assembly was not engaged in something so prosaic and innocent as making a “snapshot of english-speaking reformed catholic doctrine in the late 17th century.” If nothing else it was mid-century (1643-48), eh?

    The Assembly was not engaged in some sociological or descriptive project, mapping out some existing consensus. To be sure there are many elements of the doctrine in/of the WS that were widely held. But the goal was not to merely document the existing mainline doctrines or consensus. They were indeed hammering out the doctrinal standards to be applied to the Church of England. They were engaged in updating the confessional documents for the Church. That should be obvious once you recall the Scottish delegation becoming a part of he process and once you see the use and adoption of the Westminster Standards in Scotland.

    We can all have our own opinions (I suppose) of what it means to subscribe to the WS, we can all have our own convictions (I suppose) of how normative the Westminster Standards are for ourselves.

    But that has nothing to do with the historical situation that gave rise to the Westminster Standards. And church federations certainly have the authority to declare what is the place and authority of the Standards for its own communion. IF you don’t want to subscribe in the manner and degree which a federation expects of its members, then demit your office, or never seek office in that federation.

    -=Cris=-
    Ruling Elder in the OPC

  71. August 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    […] Green Baggins, which is largely about the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), explored this topic recently. Even though many of you are not Presbyterians, you can put his defence of confessionalism (e.g. the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity) into your own denominational context (e.g. Book of Concord or Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion). […]

  72. August 5, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Cris, they also invited the congregationalists from America, though I don’t think any attended. I’m not saying that they said “let’s take a snapshot” but rather a. that’s what confessions are – a snapshot of the contours (who is in, who is out) and that confessions can’t be raw material for theologizing (as Turretin pointed out.) Yes, they were revising / updating the 39 articles and setting a prescriptive course for the church. But it was based upon the people who were there – the confession bears the marks of quite a bit of compromise and consensus on a number of issues. Anyway, again, the larger point – confessions cannot be lists of premises for further argumentation.

  73. tonyphelpsri said,

    August 6, 2013 at 8:07 am

    There’s another fictional historical narrative being written about the Westminster Standards and their context. It reared its ugly mug in the Leithart trial. Apparently, we should rename the WCF the Westminster CONSENSUS of Faith rather than the Westminster CONFESSION of faith. The faulty logic of this new narrative goes like this: the assembly had representatives from various theological parties of the day (i.e., some Erastians, some independents, etc). So there must have been a spirit of give and take in order to make the Westminster Standards broad enough to accommodate various views (false premise alert). Therefore, what was produced in the end was a consensus document.

    Conveniently, this narrative is applied to the PCA’s context to argue for a bigger tent, rather than a narrow confessional “irrelevance.” So now we can reconcile Leithart’s theology to the (imagined) gumby-like language of our Standards. If Westminster accommodated multiple views (a fiction!), then surely we should do the same. Bunk. Here’s the reality: Positions were debated at the assembly. Some positions won the day, others lost. For example, the Erastians lost (WCF 30). The Independents lost (WCF 31). And even if there were compelling evidence for those at the Assembly who denied the imputation of the active obedience of Christ at Westminster, it is evident THEY LOST as well (WCF 11). Ours is a CONFESSION of Faith not a CONSENSUS of faith. Enough historical & theological revisionism.

    Leithart says “covenant faithfulness is the way of salvation. The doers of the law will be justified at the final judgment.” Only in a postmodern nightmare could this view be reconciled to Westminster’s apostolic & biblically faithful confession of JBFA. If the tent of the PCA is big enough to accommodate Leithart, it is apparently too big to maintain a faithful witness to sola fide, the doctrine of the standing or falling church. Brothers, words matter. And God’s Words are a matter of eternal life and eternal death.

  74. tonyphelpsri said,

    August 6, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Comment # 73 belongs to me, TE Tony Phelps, Christ Our Hope PCA, Wakefield, RI.

  75. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    August 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    An ecclesiastically adopted confession of faith is a consensus document by definition, no matter how tightly the lines are drawn. Just because Westminster clearly rules certain things out of bounds does not mean it is not a consensus document. To deny this is revisionism.

  76. CD-Host said,

    August 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    @Tony #73

    Assume I were a martian watching two assemblies A and B. Both assemblies had a bunch of people get together. In one certain positions were negotiated and after debate a position was maintained that “won” while other positions “lost”. In the other positions were negotiated arriving at a consensus which an overwhelming number went on to confess. Those positions outside the consensus “lost” while the consensus positions won.

    I don’t remember however which was A and which was B. Reading the historical record what test to I apply the two records to determine which was which?

  77. tonyphelpsri said,

    August 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Yet Westminster confesses theological propositions, derived exegetically from Scripture. It uses precise language. It defines doctrines and practices quite specifically. Any “consensus,” as I imply above, would involve a concession on the part of those who lost the debates in the Assembly, e.g., the Erastians & Independents. They could either concede and subscribe to the final product, or not.

    Some have used the “consensus” argument to flex the language of the Standards to accommodate Leithart’s non-Reformed view of the sacraments (which he admits in the trial is basically Lutheran). And worst of all, his “covenant faithfulness” language re: justification. You can’t make Leithart fit in Westminster, unless theological language means nothing. If only Leithart would repent, recant, and concede to the consensus confession of Westminster!

    So what do we subscribe to – the words and their meaning (as determined by ordinary syntax & historical usage)? Some inaccessible historical consensus? A modern consensus? Defined by whom? Do the Standards convey fixed points of doctrine? Or is Westminster a living, adaptable thing?

    The Thirty-Nine Articles provide a good example of a broad consensus document. Westminster, not so much. It’s aim was to be far more comprehensively and precisely Reformed than the 39A.

  78. tonyphelpsri said,

    August 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    CD-host, we have the finished product of the Westminster Standards, and their scripture proofs. We have the historical fact that Erastians & Independents attended the Assembly. We have the clear outcome which indicates their positions did not prevail. Beyond that, and besides the partial minutes of the Assembly which remain, trying to argue the thesis that Westminster as a rule accommodated multiple views by using intentionally vague language is prima facie dubious & historically unproven. Until fairly recently, no one ever accused the Standards of being vague.

  79. CD-Host said,

    August 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    @Tony #78

    That’s not what I asked. You made a much stronger claim in 73 than you are making in 78. In any consensus document there are going to be people who attended the larger meetings whose positions didn’t prevail. The original and later Patient Protection act was a consensus document of House Democrats in 2010. However, some didn’t vote for it and their positions didn’t prevail. That lack of 100% support doesn’t make it any less a consensus document. Pelosi got the consensus she needed to force it into the Senate twice.

    Under your theory in #73 there is some meaningful externally observable difference between a confession and a consensus document. Your argument in #73, was almost that there was a clear position that some of the people held going in, that position remained absolutely unchanged and that position is reflected in Westminster. Therefore Westminster is a confession. Conversely you also were strongly implying, but not quite saying, that had people negotiated bargained and compromised to get a large majority then Westminster would be merely a consensus.

    You almost said it but you didn’t say it. That was the point of A and B. To get you to firm up that test. Because once it is testable the “historically unproven” (of #78) or the ” fictional historical narrative” (of #73) then becomes quite easy to check. We can check the writings of many of the divines 2-10 years prior to Westminster and see if they were in almost perfect agreement with it. If yes, then they simply defended a pre-existing consensus, there was no need to bargain for consensus. If no, then there was no pre-existing consensus and Westminster is a consensus document.

    As for the idea that Westminster contains compromise, I think it is fairly clear though a lot of this compromise IMHO predates Westminster. I think it is often an attempt to deal with contradictions in Calvin’s writings. The entire sacramental theology is an obvious compromise. All of Chapter 25 on the visible / invisible church is an obvious compromise. If you want specifics the orders on May 9, 1645 about divisions needing to be resolved from the two committees. The people at the time believed they were working out differences between committees.

    We also know historically that Westminster was compromised as it went up the chain. In America the church / state standards like the duty of civil magistrates to punish heresy were dropped. In England 20.4 was dropped. An American revision soon became standard. We had people from the original parties reject certain sections. For example Savoy that came out a dozen years later felt that the compromise had gone too far in high church theology.

    http://reformed.org/documents/Savoy_Declaration/savoy_26_WCF_25.html

    _______

    The way I handle Leithart is what I said above. It comes down the PCA asking the question of whether it is a narrow sect of conservative Presbyterians or aims to be at least a denomination for most conservative Presbyterians — all conservative Presbyterians are only 1/90th of Conservative Protestants who are 1/4 of the USA, so we aren’t talking about being overly broad here.

    Leithart is clearly closer to Presbyterian than Baptists, Catholic, Lutheran, …. He’s clearly a conservative. So if the PCA is a broad denomination he’s in. If it is a narrow sect then toss him out for pushing the envelope. The original intent though in 1646 was broad not narrow.

  80. Mark B said,

    August 6, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    @79 CD
    Are you just trying to make the point that there was some compromise at Westminster? I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. Tony’s point seems obvious, he’s saying that what was produced at Westminster is what we confess, not what someone who was there may have personally believed then or at some time in the past. Bearing in mind his example (I read that transcript too), it has been argued by some that, since person X was at Westminster, and we have something published before that event where he states a view contrary to Westminster, hence what was published at Westminster must allow for those views because he signed it, when the plain meaning of the text of the confession contradicts that. This is faulty logic, saying that the confession must say something different than it plainly does. So, while there was some consensus at Westminster, it is a confessional document, not a consensus document as some would claim.

  81. Mark B said,

    August 6, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Or perhaps it would be better to say, not a consensus document in the sense that some would claim it is.

    You say: “Leithart is clearly closer to Presbyterian than Baptists, Catholic, Lutheran, …. He’s clearly a conservative. So if the PCA is a broad denomination he’s in. If it is a narrow sect then toss him out for pushing the envelope. The original intent though in 1646 was broad not narrow.”

    Great if Relativism drives you (yes, I understand you are an atheist, so I’m not sure what your comments are driving at?) However, the PCA is neither a narrow sect nor a broad denomination (or even a conservative one, I know conservative Baptists, Catholics and Lutherans, for that matter), but a confessional one, (each of its officers takes an oath to that effect) at least theoretically. Saying that “The original intent though in 1646 was broad not narrow.” is meaningless without a reference. To draw references from your statement, however broad it was meant to be, it clearly intended to exclude Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, and views such as Leithart’s. I would suggest that there was an intent on the part of the Divines to draw the lines where Scripture draws them, rather than broad or narrow.

  82. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    August 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consensus

    Brothers: This, “confession, not consensus” stuff needs to die now. We hold the Westminster Standards together as Presbyterians as our consensus in doctrine.. This is *why* we confess it. If all you’re meaning to say is that the Standards affirm certain specific things and rule other specific things out of bounds, then just say *that*. Specificity in doctrine does is not contrary to consensus. Every creed or confession is a consensus. (Perhaps the trouble comes in confusing “consensus” with”compromise”? I don’t know…)

  83. CD-Host said,

    August 6, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    @Mark 80, 81

    Let’s try two definitions because I think you are arguing something weaker than what Tony was arguing.

    Consensus document type1 = a document in which the individuals participating in its drafting make compromises to arrive at a consensus which is then binding on the group

    Consensus document type2 = a document in which the text of the document is minimal and meant to be deliberately obscure so as to hide underlying disagreements

    A document can in theory be type1 both or neither because in practice almost all type2 will also be type1. The negation of type1 (let’s call it type0) would be a document in which the individuals participating started in almost perfect agreement and worked to simply formulate language to express a pre-existing consensus in the group.

    Tony was arguing (again AFAICT) Westminster was type0. You are arguing that Westminster was not type2. I’m asserting that Westminster is a type1. I don’t disagree that it isn’t a type2.

    To use my example we know for a fact that some of the Democrats who voted for the Patient Protection Act disagreed with the state controls on medicaid that were overturned by the Supreme Court before, the signing, when the signed and 2 years later. They signed the bill anyway. I’d clearly say that individual disagreement doesn’t prove type2. It does however prove the weaker type1.

    However, the PCA is neither a narrow sect nor a broad denomination (or even a conservative one, I know conservative Baptists, Catholics and Lutherans, for that matter), but a confessional one, (each of its officers takes an oath to that effect) at least theoretically

    Understood on the confessional issue. How that plays out determines if the PCA ends up broad or narrow. Catholicism for example has even longer confessions but they are so poorly enforced that there isn’t even a meaningful expectation of perfect agreement by priests anymore. That’s an extreme example of broad. Confessional plus strong enforcement is a means to narrowing the PCA as a sub-denomination. Confessional plus weak enforcement is a means of broadening the PCA as a sub-denomination. Confessional is just a particular means of establishing a consensus on doctrines. It doesn’t contradict.

    To draw references from your statement, however broad it was meant to be, it clearly intended to exclude Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, and views such as Leithart’s. I would suggest that there was an intent on the part of the Divines to draw the lines where Scripture draws them, rather than broad or narrow.

    As for the intent of the divines as far as scripture. Yes, I agree that’s what they thought they were doing. As for your broader point though here we do genuinely disagree. I think the authors of Westminster wanted it to govern a broad state church. They wanted to be able to pressure people with views such as Leithart’s not exclude them.

    I think they would horrified that in a broadly Christian country like the USA less than 1% of the population would find themselves in substantial agreement with Westminster. They would see the situation created by the fundamentalist / modernist controversy where huge swaths of American Christianity was simply abandoned by conservatives as completely unacceptable. I think they would view further fragmentation with unmitigated hostility. And of course the situation in Europe is often equally bad but with slightly different flavoring.

    I think the Divines of 1646 if they were alive in the modern world would want a more unified Protestantism. They would be looking for some way to bring Pentecostals and Baptists in not to exclude them. They weren’t fundamentalists trying to preserve, they were moderates and conservatives trying to create.

  84. tonyphelpsri said,

    August 7, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Two points I wish to clarify: 1) The end product of Westminster was a confession of particular and precisely stated doctrinal propositions. Granted, this was the fruit of theological consensus at the Assembly – arrived at via discourse & debate. 2) There is an effort today to argue that “consensus” means the Standards should be broadly interpreted, in order to accommodate variant doctrinal views – some of which simply cannot be reconciled to Westminster (i.e., Leithart). CD-Host, you seem to articulate that latter view.

    Thanks for the engagement. Bowing out now.

  85. August 7, 2013 at 8:14 am

    @83, “I think the Divines of 1646 if they were alive in the modern world would want a more unified Protestantism. They would be looking for some way to bring Pentecostals and Baptists in not to exclude them.”

    They Westminster divines desired a unified REFORMED church (see the solemn covenant they swore to God to uphold). While one may find it displeasing as to the conclusion, if we judge the Westminster Divines by what they did and wrote, such non Reformed groups would be excluded, and probably under prosecution for heresy if they were around and in charge today.

  86. greenbaggins said,

    August 7, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Jonathan, the way the term “consensus” has been used of late in the Reformed world is as a synonym to “compromise.” The canard exists, for instance, that the Westminster divines supposedly pulled their punch on the imputation of the active obedience of Christ because of Gataker, Twisse, and Vines. This has been shown to be an invalid conclusion by Jeff Jue and Alan Strange. So there certainly has been some confusion over what the word “consensus” means.

    I agree that the word may be legitimately used of the Westminster documents. The Westminster divines certainly came to a consensus about what should be included, and what the wording of the documents should be. The question really should be this: how broad is that consensus? Is it a proto-big-tent? That cannot be justified by the evidence. The mere fact of Erastians and Independents being present doesn’t justify this conclusion at all. Those viewpoints LOST at Westminster. Their views are excluded by the documents.

    Furthermore, it is quite anachronistic to say that viewpoints represented by the Westminster divines means that “broader” viewpoints ought to be admitted today. For one thing, the issues being handled by the divines are not the same issues as, say, the FV controversy today. The FV issues are similar to the Arminianism controversy handled by Dordt. Those views were clearly excluded by Westminster. The real revisionism is to claim that FV lies within the Westminster Confession. It doesn’t even lie within the “broader” Reformed tradition. The only way that can even be argued is by twisting the words of the Reformed fathers out of their original contexts to make them say what the FV guys want them to say.

  87. CD-Host said,

    August 7, 2013 at 9:32 am

    @Chris #85

    They Westminster divines desired a unified REFORMED church (see the solemn covenant they swore to God to uphold). While one may find it displeasing as to the conclusion, if we judge the Westminster Divines by what they did and wrote, such non Reformed groups would be excluded, and probably under prosecution for heresy if they were around and in charge today.

    I’d agree if they were alive, in an overwhelming majority and had strong support / control of the government they would use state terror to resolve their theological disputes. That’s easy. It is also irrelevant.

    Absolutely they excluded fringe elements. Those fringe elements have in the 3.5 centuries since become the overwhelming majority of Protestants. So the question is if they were alive today in the world that exists today what would they do? A world where Reformed theology, while having a good decade has been losing ground to Arminian theology for three centuries and thus represents a minority, though a still influential minority. A world where there are few state churches and moreover where Christian governments are structurally indifferent to religious disputes about theology and lean secular. Or to pick the United States a country so theologically diverse that conservative reformed see a conservative Mormon as closer to their beliefs theologically than a normative member of one of the seven sisters denominations from a reformed congregationalist background — where the membership of their Reformed churches see non-Reformed Protestant conservatives and even conservative Catholics as allies.

    i) The PCA doesn’t seek a role in broader Christianity at this point.
    ii) The PCA does seek a role in Conservative Protestantism, but a tangential not a leadership position.
    iii) Many in the PCA seek for it to be the voice of Conservative Presbyterianism.

    There are two things about the Divines:

    a) They were building a Reformed Church to their liking
    b) They were building a church they expected to be the majority and/or exclusive church for the English population

    (a) and (b) are both important to their mission. They aimed not to let themselves get so specific with (a) that they made (b) impossible, they failed but that was their goal. They aimed to not let (b)’s desire for inclusion force them into a vacuous convention. (iii) for the PCA is the closest analogy to what the Divines were aiming to achieve. Ultimately though it is also important to remember when analyzing this question that the Divines failed. 15 years after Westminster, they were the non-conformists seditionists. They had failed in their mission to be both (a) and (b) and had ended up with just (a). Is the PCA to emulate their intent or to match actual process errors and all?

    Ultimately though, the historical question of whether the Divines compromised to achieve consensus is clear, they did. Today consensus beyond the most narrow sect would require much broader consensus and that’s a situation they didn’t face, so we will never know.

  88. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    August 7, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Lane, I gree with how you put it. My concern in maintaining that Westminster is a consensus is to emphasize the ecclesial nature of the document. I am worried that we run the risk of devolving into an individualistic concept of “confession” if we deny that confession and consensus go hand in hand,

  89. truthunites said,

    August 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    GreenBaggins, Pastor Lane Keister: “The real revisionism is to claim that FV lies within the Westminster Confession. It doesn’t even lie within the “broader” Reformed tradition. The only way that can even be argued is by twisting the words of the Reformed fathers out of their original contexts to make them say what the FV guys want them to say.”

    Arguably, could substitute R2K for FV.

    The radical separation of church and state proposed by some folks that I would designate as “R2K” rather than “2K,” is contrary to the Westminster Standards. Practically everyone knows that such positions are contrary to the original Westminster Standards (and, of course, to the Standards as modified by the RPCNA testimony), but these positions are also contrary to the standards as amended by the Americans.”

    Read the rest of the post to see the argument and evidence that R2K is contrary to the Westminster Confessional Standards.

  90. Mark Horne said,

    August 7, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    “The FV issues are similar to the Arminianism controversy handled by Dordt. Those views were clearly excluded by Westminster. The real revisionism is to claim that FV lies within the Westminster Confession. It doesn’t even lie within the “broader” Reformed tradition. The only way that can even be argued is by twisting the words of the Reformed fathers out of their original contexts to make them say what the FV guys want them to say.”

    OK, that’s your opinion. My opinion is that you are wrong. And I’ll note that the precedents set by actual Church courts who give you a hearing against PCA ministers is that you are wrong.

  91. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    August 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    In light of Marks’ comment and re-reading Lane’s post, I should amend the first sentence of my previous comment (#88) to say, “Lane, I agree with how you put it *in your first two paragraphs*.”

    I’m not really interested in “FV.” I’m interested in what actual men do or do not in fact teach, on a case by case basis.

  92. jedpaschall said,

    August 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Jonathan,

    Just to underscore the issue on consensus you and Lane are discussing, I think that where consensus is pointing is to catholicity. The framing of the confessions, the American revisions, and subscription to this day are all examples of how the church strives for consensus via catholicity.

    I definitely share Lane’s concerns over how consensus may be used today to actually undermine true catholicity that is bound by a clear and common confession. Hopefully this never becomes used by those who are professed confessionalists to impose their own idiosyncratic views on what the Westminster standards teach. But, largely those in the “confessional” camp are simply seeking to locate themselves within the historic/catholic Reformed tradition, and see consensus being sought in such a way that damages the catholic intent of the confessional standards.

  93. jedpaschall said,

    August 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Mark,

    How would you answer to the objection by some that the BCO seemed to be the basis of some of the recent SJC rulings on FV cases, and not the Westminster Standards? It seems fairly clear that the SJC ruled on procedural matters, making little to no comment on whether or not Leithart, et. al. teachings were in line with WCF.

    I am not trying to blast you here, just curious.

  94. greenbaggins said,

    August 7, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    I’m curious, Mark, as to what gives you the impression that I had forgotten (even while writing the comment!) what the courts of the PCA had decided? Church courts can err, and they certainly have in the Leithart case.

    I find it interesting that the FV proponents, as well as its staunchest critics, interpret the SJC’s findings as an exoneration of Leithart’s teaching, and not just a ruling on procedural matters, whereas those more in the middle disagree.

  95. August 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    GreenBaggins, Pastor Lane Keister: “Have you ever noticed that when differences of opinion come up between the confessionalists and the “can’t we all get along” (hereafter abbreviated “cwaga”) folks, that incredibly shrill and unloving voices come from the latter group directed towards the former group, all in the name of love? I have experienced this first-hand almost innumerable times. There are several reasons for this. The first reason is that the cwaga folks almost always take doctrinal criticism personally.

    Federal Vision (FV): “Can’t we all get along?”

    Radical Two Kingdoms (R2K): Can’t we all get along?”

    This blogger’s recent post notes the similarities:

    “When men employ newspeak, you can assume their orthodoxy contains newspeak. Reformed denominations may maintain a lot of the same words in their confessions, but we’re becoming unrecognizable to the men who were instrumental in their writing. Will Reformed denominations sniff out R2K newspeak as ardently as some have the Federal Vision?

    While writing this post, I note that [R2Ker] Mr. Tuininga has posted another entry defending a number of novelties…replete with claims of re-claiming New Testament language…

    Wasn’t this the same criticism R2K men lodged against the Federal Vision men?”

    Excerpted From:

    “Historical” Claims Lacking Fruit…”

    P.S. Addendum to #89 above:

    “Sometimes it’s blatant, like when [R2Ker] Matthew Tuininga finds the Confession to be “intolerant” at one point or another. Or, less blatantly, when one of them [another R2Ker] proclaims he would take exception to WCF 24 since it’s preclusion of sodomite marriage in the civil realm is meddlesome.”

    Pastor Lane: “The real revisionism is to claim that FV lies within the Westminster Confession.”

    So maybe the R2Kers are starting to recognize that R2K does not lie within the Westminster Confession.

  96. Reed Here said,

    August 8, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    TUAD: getting old.

  97. August 12, 2013 at 8:05 am

    […] Fifthly, they actively courted the evangelical middle of the PCA. They tried very hard (and successfully) to convince the evangelical middle that the FV issues were not gospel issues, but peripheral issues. This was done by the cherry-picking out-of-context quoting of the Reformed fathers that tried to make the case that the FV was within the Reformed tradition (whatever that means!). Once that was done, the evangellyfish (trademark somewhat ironically Doug Wilson) middle completely flipped sides. If it is a gospel issue, the middle generally votes with the confessionalists. However, if they are not convinced that it is a gospel issue, they will vote to keep the peace (whatever that means! There is FAR less peace in the PCA now than there was, say, 8 years ago. Witness everyone talking about it). They will be cwaga folks. […]

  98. August 14, 2013 at 12:09 am

    […] Fifthly, they actively courted the evangelical middle of the PCA. They tried very hard (and successfully) to convince the evangelical middle that the FV issues were not gospel issues, but peripheral issues. This was done by the cherry-picking out-of-context quoting of the Reformed fathers that tried to make the case that the FV was within the Reformed tradition (whatever that means!). Once that was done, the evangellyfish (trademark somewhat ironically Doug Wilson) middle completely flipped sides. If it is a gospel issue, the middle generally votes with the confessionalists. However, if they are not convinced that it is a gospel issue, they will vote to keep the peace (whatever that means! There is FAR less peace in the PCA now than there was, say, 8 years ago. Witness everyone talking about it). They will be cwaga folks. […]

  99. August 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    […] How To Love Confessionalists – Green Baggins has a great post on how the “can’t-we-all-get-along” crowd can actually love those of us who stand for the truths of Scripture. My regular readers will know that anyone who stands for truth, especially by highlighting error that leads masses into heresy, is frowned upon by our culture. […]

  100. Get Smart said,

    August 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Ninthly, make sure that if any talk of church split happens, that you accuse the Confessionalists of being the schismatics, instead of those who are shifting the boundaries. We haven’t moved anywhere, folks. We haven’t moved the ancient landmarks. And, by the way, when someone creates a list such as this, make sure you assume that they are being bitter about past experiences. If you have fallen foul of the Confessionalist, make sure you now believe and act on the principle that he is the devil incarnate, and does not deserve any love from here on out. After all, he has no feelings (since he only cares about truth, not love: perpetuate that false dichotomy between truth and love), and cannot be hurt by anything you say, so make sure you lay it on thick. By all means, get entire Presbyteries in on the action, especially if there is one man in particular to attack. Presbyteries, after all, can do no wrong. Ever. And they never need to apologize for anything. Ever. They are infallible. And if anyone questions that principle, accuse them of not submitting to the brethren.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 337 other followers

%d bloggers like this: