By Faith Alone, part 7

This is an article by T. David Gordon on the Federal Vision theology. It is entitled “Reflections on Auburn Theology.”

His basic position is that of being in profound sympathy with the concerns of the FV, while fearing that the FV goes in a Romish direction for the cure, not the historical Protestant direction (pp. 113-114). He notes that FV is reactionary (pg. 114). One should also note the touches of humor in this article (pp. 113-114).

Gordon is spot on target when he says that “there can be a gnostic tendency to believe that ‘outsiders’ just can’t appreciate what one is saying” (pg. 115). This voices one of the very largest frustrations that all critics of the FV share: FV proponents tend to say that critics never understand the FV. The way I usually put it is that the only form of understanding is usually agreement, according to many FV proponents.

He notes the biblicistic character of the FV, noting that FV proponents are “leaping over nineteen centuries of usage of such language (ST language is what he means)” (pg. 115). Ironically, FV proponents use the term “the covenant,” which is something the Bible does not do. “The Bible frequently refers to covenants in the plural, or to some particular covenant, but never refers to the covenant, without an immediate context that delineates the specific covenant being referred to” (pg. 116, emphasis original). He argues that the reason FV proponents do this is their deep dislike of dispensationalism. This leads them to shy away from speaking of plural covenants.

After a brief, but helpful discussion on assurance, he discusses what is probably the darkest horse in FV theology: John Murray. Gordon goes on to describe Murray’s mono-covenantalism as containing overstatements. One would assume that Murray would appreciated Lusk’s comment, “the Mosaic Law was simply the Gospel in pre-Christian form” (quoted on pg. 119). This statement should be embarrassing to FV proponents. The great quote by Hodge simply demolishes this position. More importantly, such a statement comes up against a brick wall in Galatians 3-4 which contrasts the Mosaic and the Abrahamic covenants because one is legal and the other is of promise (pg. 120). Gordon asks this probing question, “Why do we all know that Murray desired to recast the historic covenant theology, but we never publicly acknowledge that he did so?” (pg. 121).

He then goes on to describe the difference between Vos’s program and what Murray and the FV proponents are doing: Vos describes BT as describing the continuities and discontinuities of the OT and the NT. FV proponents see almost no discontinuity from OT to NT.

Gordon notes some areas of confusion that result in such an approach: works and faith (Norman Shepherd), the imputation of the obedience of Christ with our own personal obedience; the Mosaic civil law with the civil law of other nations (Bahnsen), and the Sinai meal with the New Covenant meal (paedo-communion). In passing, he gives a good argument for the areas of discontinuity that exists between the two: Passover was a family meal; the Lord’s Supper is expressly distinguished by Paul from family meals. This strikes at the heart of the issue, by the way, since a family meal is for the entire family, whereas the Lord’s Supper is for those who are of faith. Gordon carefully delineates his view with regard to Murrayism in paragraph 2 of page 123: he disagrees with it, doesn’t consider it heresy at the moment, but wants to reserve the right to remove it if it is determined later on that it is out of accord. I might quibble with this conclusion a bit: given a’Brakel’s excellent assessment of the Covenant of Works, and the importance of the law/Gospel distinction, how can we say that mono-covenantalism does anything but confuse the issues with regard to justification?

84 Comments

  1. Todd said,

    February 19, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I don’t understand this question: “Why do we all know that Murray desired to recast the historic covenant theology, but we never publicly acknowledge that he did so?”

    I’m happy to wait for the book for the context, but I didn’t “get it” here.

    Gary, do you agree with Gordon’s appraisal of Murray?

  2. Todd said,

    February 19, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    If I’m reading Lane’s summaries correctly, it’s interesting that WTS’s approach to imputation and union with Christ is affirmed by Phillips, while Murray himself is criticized heavily by Gordon.

  3. GLW Johnson said,

    February 20, 2007 at 6:35 am

    Todd
    Yes. You will be relieved to know that Guy and I were able to talk T. David out going with his suggested title for this chapter,” The Drunken Uncle and His Bastard off-Spring:John Murray and The Federal Vision.” Does this get us a high-five from the FVists?What, you fellows have no sense of humor?

  4. GLW Johnson said,

    February 20, 2007 at 6:48 am

    Oh, one more thing, T.David and I were both students of Meredith Kline and as you can see , we are both intensely loyal to him so much so that if posssible ,we would one day like to see him canonized as a Protestant Saint. We would be the first in line to get our St. Meredith medals and make a pilgrimage to his tomb. Kline is to us what Wright is to Mark Horne and Rich Lusk( but , given what Doug Wilson recently said about Wright’s views on justification and imputation being deleterious, perhaps this little item will turn out to be a ray of hope) .

  5. Todd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 7:11 am

    “given what Doug Wilson recently said about Wright’s views on justification and imputation being deleterious,”

    Wilson’s been saying this for quite a while. It’s hardly a new twist.

  6. GLW Johnson said,

    February 20, 2007 at 7:27 am

    Quick up date. It seems that the ray of hope I just alluded to has just gone out. Wilson has once again landed on his feet, after making a spectacular double reverse jack-knife off the second floor. Turns out that while he wants everybody to know of his deep-seated reservations about NT Wright’s views on justification and imputation, we should not conclude from that that he has the same kind of reservations about fellow FVist Rich Lusk, who parrots NT Wright on these very issues. Loyalty to friends, regardless of their doctrinal deviations from Reformed orthodoxy, so we are told, is actually a Christ-like characteristic. One wonders if Wilson latest tack would have taken this course if Wright had been one of the original Auburn Ave. speakers. Just a thought.

  7. GLW Johnson said,

    February 20, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Todd
    Give me chapter and verse where Wilson actually said this- not in the issue of C/A that he referred to, and not in the Knox’s colloquium.In fact he declared in the C/A piece that even when he differed with him, Wright’s views were not the kind of thing to get all worked up about….but now Wilson feels compelled to say otherwise.Why? Why did he decide to revisit this issue now. You ask him. I already did sometime ago and got no response.

  8. Todd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 9:42 am

    The Credenda article is what I was thinking of. I’ve got nothing more. Sorry. But why doesn’t that count?

    “I already did sometime ago and got no response.”

    You keep talking about this, man. A lot.

  9. February 20, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Todd
    I do it to irritate people like you. Works pretty good ,heh? Re-read that issue of C/A ,Toddman- there is no such statement.

  10. Todd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Wilson being critical of Wright on imputation:

    http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=965

    Chapter and verse, Gary. This post is almost two years old. So, again, Wilson distancing himself from Wright on Pauline theology is no recent twist.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    February 20, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Funny that no one is laughing about the Meredith Kline canonization. Probably because it hits too close to Wright-home.

  12. Todd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 11:10 am

    I thought it might be pretty close to home about Kline and at least some of his followers. But I don’t have much contact; I’ve never even been to Escondido.

    Gaffin and Ferguson imposed Murray on me when I was young and impressionable, and I didn’t even know that I was being corrupted. Pray for me.

  13. February 20, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Todd
    Go back and compare the two pieces. Wilson issues no such warning in the item you halled in. He does not declare in the first piece that Wright’s position on imputation colors his doctrine of justification. In his most recent piece he is connecting the dots. The seriousness of Wright’s position seems to have finally dawned upon him to the point that he now sees why some of us “get all worked up in a lather”. The bigger question for you is, why if Wilson really saw this so clearly back when, why did he not clearly indicate that Lusk’s position, which is simply a duplicate of Wright’s,was atleast as equally troubling? When Richard Gaffin saw where his long time friend Norman Shepherd was going he didn’t continue to support him. Just the reverse, as his role in the OPC report testifies.

  14. February 20, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Hasn’t Wilson always attested to being a FV “Amber” while others, i.e. Lusk, are FV “Lagers”? Even when he flips about in his rambling about Wright, he doesn’t ever seem to move much in the end. I think if anything, Wilson’s fault includes being blown to and fro by “every wind of doctrine”.

  15. Todd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Gary, there’s hardly any “warning” in the more recent post:

    “As the previous post made clear, I genuinely appreciate a lot of what N.T Wright writes. Not only do I think it is true, but I believe that many in the Reformed world desperately need to learn many things from him. That said, I have been recently looking again at some of the issues we addressed in our special Credenda issue a few years back (“A Pauline Take on the New Perspective”), and wanted to state something here for the record (again). To the extent that N.T. Wright is affected by E.P. Sanders’ views on Second Temple Judaism (and he is, to a significant degree), to that same extent, Wright is an unreliable guide to Paul, particularly on matters of imputation, justification, legalism, the pre-conversion life of Saul, and 2 Cor. 5:21. Just so you know what I think.”

    He is merely repeating himself.

  16. Todd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    “why did he not clearly indicate that Lusk’s position, which is simply a duplicate of Wright’s,was atleast as equally troubling?”

    The claim that Lusk’s position is simply a duplcate of Wright’s would need to be demonstrated rather than merely asserted.

    “When Richard Gaffin saw where his long time friend Norman Shepherd was going he didn’t continue to support him. Just the reverse, as his role in the OPC report testifies.”

    Right. But when will Gaffin repudiate Murray? Doesn’t he see where all the trouble started?

  17. John said,

    February 20, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    David writes: “Hasn’t Wilson always attested to being a FV “Amber” while others, i.e. Lusk, are FV “Lagers”?”

    Get the imagery right, David! =)

    Lagers tend to be lighter beers; they aren’t even ales. Any lighter and you’d have some disgusting swill such as Budweiser. Wilson has said that he’s an amber and Lusk is a dark ale (e.g., porter or stout). And he has said that we need dark ale, too, so the imagery is not meant to suggest that dark ales go too far and it’s better to stay amber.

  18. John said,

    February 20, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Lane, you write: “Gordon is spot on target when he says that “there can be a gnostic tendency to believe that ‘outsiders’ just can’t appreciate what one is saying” (pg. 115). This voices one of the very largest frustrations that all critics of the FV share: FV proponents tend to say that critics never understand the FV. The way I usually put it is that the only form of understanding is usually agreement, according to many FV proponents.”

    I don’t recall anyone associated with the so-called “FV” saying that “outsiders” CANNOT appreciate what is being said. Clearly, many “outsiders” do: I’ve heard from several former baptistic folk who have come to embrace infant baptism as a result of listening to the AAPC 2002 lectures. They’ve come up and thanked me for them. So it’s evident to me that some “outsiders” can and do understand what’s being said.

    Furthermore, in many cases the critics of the “FV” HAVE understood correctly what is being said. Anyone who thinks the “FV” is just saying the same thing Reformed theology has always said is wrong. Some new things are being said, just as new things were said by (for instance) Geerhardus Vos or Cornelius Van Til or John Murray. And the critics have often understand that certain formulations are new.

    More than that, they’ve understood that certain doctrinal positions are different from or even contrary to the confessions. Think of paedocommunion, for instance, which appears to me to conflict with certain statements in the Westminster Standards (but not with the Three Forms of Unity).

    When the critics point these things out, people associated with the “FV” don’t get all worked up and say, “No! The Westminster does teach paedocommunion. You guys just can’t understand us!” No: We readily admit that paedocommunion is an improvement over the position in the Westminster (though we’d add that at AAPC 2002 only one of the four speakers held to paedocommunion, namely, Steve Wilkins, and that Steve Schlissel still doesn’t, and that many guys who hold to paedocommunion aren’t associated with the “FV” in any way, including G. I. Williamson).

    So it’s not that anyone associated with the “FV” believes critics or “outsiders” CANNOT understand what we’re saying. But we do believe that our views have AT SOME POINTS been misunderstood. There’s a world of difference between saying, “You can’t understand me” and saying “You haven’t understood me.”

    One can hardly fault a man who thinks his critic hasn’t understood him from pointing that out (especially when the misunderstanding is as egregious as Waters’ misunderstanding of me on assurance, egregious given that I wrote to Waters and offered to read over what he was writing about me to make sure it accurately represented my views, an offer he refused).

    I would add, though, that sometimes paradigms do get in the way of understanding. To understand someone else’s position, it helps to be able to think your way into his paradigm to see how things fit together, to understand how terminology is used, and so forth. Insofar as critics of the “FV” have failed to do that, they have also often failed to understand — and been unable to understand — certain things that have been said.

    Again, there’s nothing “gnostic” about this. It’s just how communication works (or fails to work). People you talk with a lot understand how you talk, what you mean by certain words; they can complete your sentences or mentally fill in the steps you jumped when you moved from this statement to that conclusion. People who don’t hang out with you a lot sometimes can’t understand your words or don’t see the relation between the statement and the conclusion you draw, and so forth. Nothing gnostic about that.

    Hope this helps!

    John

  19. Todd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Claiming to be misunderstood is not unique to the FVers, either.

    Rick Phillips: “It simply amazes me that people might read my article and then state that all I am saying is that Wilkins is using terminology in different ways, therefore he should be disallowed.”

  20. Todd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    David M., which is it? Is Wilson blown to and fro or does he not move much?

  21. Ben D. said,

    February 20, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Lane,

    You said this: “Ironically, FV proponents use the term “the covenant,” which is something the Bible does not do. “The Bible frequently refers to covenants in the plural, or to some particular covenant, but never refers to the covenant, without an immediate context that delineates the specific covenant being referred to” (pg. 116, emphasis original). He argues that the reason FV proponents do this is their deep dislike of dispensationalism. This leads them to shy away from speaking of plural covenants.”

    My statements are not in support of FV theology, but I do wonder if this exact charge could be levelled against Covenant Theology in general. Classical Covenant Theology is not mono-covenantal to be sure, but it seems that very easily by the standard Gordon is applying to the FV, Covenant Theology could be accused of flattening out the Biblical covenants into 2/3 (the covenants of works and grace) rather than the 1. Since the Bible does in fact speak of multiple covenants (Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and New… as well the elements, but not name, of covenant being given to the Adamic arrangement) how does classical covenant theology not also fall under the critique of Gordon here?

    Ben D.

  22. John said,

    February 20, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Following up on what Ben writes above, I’m also surprised to hear Gordon say that “FV” types don’t often talk about “covenants” (plural). For instance, check out this article by Tim Gallant on monocovenantalism.

    It may be that he hears us speaking about “being in the covenant” or “breaking the covenant,” and assumes that we think there’s only one covenant. Period.

    But when we speak that way, we’re often speaking about the covenant which is in effect at the time. In other words, when I tell the congregation that they’re “in the covenant,” I mean the New Covenant, of course. If I speak about Israel being “in the covenant” and the Gentiles not being, I’m talking about the Old Covenant. And so forth.

    But in so doing, I recognize that there are differences between Old and New, and the “FV” guys haven’t been shy about acknowledging that. Gordon is barking up the wrong tree, it seems to me.

  23. Todd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Ben writes: “how does classical covenant theology not also fall under the critique of Gordon here?”

    Perhaps Gordon wishes to recast the historic covenant theology.

  24. February 20, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Todd, he waffles all over the place, but then like I said, he usually ends up fairly close to where he took off from (which seems decently orthodox on the surface). The problem is all the confusion the ride he takes us while meandering about.

  25. Todd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    I’ve never thought of Wilson as a waffler, but perhaps you’re a more careful reader than I am, David. Can you think of examples?

    The comparison between the 2005 post on Wright and imputation with the more recent one shows that he’s been thinking the same about that issue for a good while.

  26. February 20, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    I probably have most of the books he’s written and well over 7 years of tapes and CD’s from sermons, along with over that many years of C/A. As you know Wilson wasn’t “brought up” in the Reformed “circles”. He didn’t go to seminary. And though he seems very intelligent, I have often thought of him as overly ecumenical. Take, his debate with White over the status of the RCC for example. Or for example the CREC ( a denomination he helped found) has both paedo and credo baptist. It is my opinion that part of the reason for this is he didn’t want to abondon all the baptist he had following him after he embraced paedobaptism. He hasn’t said this that I know of, and I may be wrong, but those are my thoughts.

    Likewise, I’m not judging him, I’m merely pointing out a fact, and his willingness to “ride the fence” in order to maintain unity. Yet FV isn’t simply about baptizing infants. The doctrines of this debate cut much deeper. Therefore an attempt at psudoecumenicalism only strengthens my opinion he’s trying to play Rodney King theology; “can’t we all just get along?”

  27. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 6:33 am

    “It is my opinion that part of the reason for this is he didn’t want to abondon all the baptist he had following him after he embraced paedobaptism.”

    You don’t think it’s because he wanted to avoid a split in his own church over the issue of baptism? If you were Wilson, the pastor of a broadly evangelical church, and then you became Reformed, before any of your elders did, and then paedobaptist, before any of your elders did, what would you do? Leave? Give the elders a deadline to catch up?

  28. February 21, 2007 at 6:47 am

    Todd
    Did you read the OPC report that Gaffin helped to write? It addresses Murray, and spells out the differences between what Shepherd and the FV are advocating and what Murray meant about recasting Covenant theology. As far as Wright’s pronounced influence on Lusk goes, if you simply read Lusk own words, beginning with his laudatory article on NT Wright that appeared in John Amstrong’s old R&R Jounal, and then his contributions in the Knox’s colloquium ,it is not all that hard to see the striking family resemblence. Again, I ask, why would Wilson go out of his way to revisit Wright to express his concerns over the good bishop’s configurations of justification and imputation when everybody involved knows full well that Lusk has embraced these exact same positions. If Wright is wrong here , then so is Lusk.

  29. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 7:14 am

    Lusk and Wright: “striking family resemblance”? Of course. “simply a duplicate”? Hardly. A three-word summary can be either accurate or misleading. You’ve provided one of each.

    Here’s the fuller story on Lusk and NPP:

    http://www.trinity-pres.net/essays/Pauline-Miscellanies.pdf

    Lusk writes: “In part, this is why the whole present “controversy” is so surprising. Wright hasn’t cornered the market on Pauline theology. He doesn’t have a monopoly on biblical theology. Reformed “fans” of Wright simply want him to be a part of the ongoing discussion as all of us seek to come to a better understanding of God’s revealed and inscripturated truth. Wright doesn’t have everything “right.” I don’t know anyone who thinks that anyway. We aren’t trying to form a “Tom Wright party” within the PCA (he would despise such a thing anyway; cf. 1 Cor. 1-3). We aren’t suggesting a wholesale appropriation of his views. Speaking for myself, I have found Wright’s work on the gospels, the historical Jesus, Pauline theology, exegetical and historical methodologies, and so forth, to be fresh, provocative, insightful, and edifying. But I also have serious
    disagreements, some of which I have registered in these “Miscellanies.” Wright can be “wrong” on a lot of issues.”

    Don’t miss section 24, where Lusk is most critical of Wright on justification and imputation. A few samples: “I have admit these two paragraphs are the most confused and convoluted of any I’ve read by Wright, and it’s only fair to offer a few criticisms. I have at least five problems with Wright’s off-the-cuff remarks.”

    “To say justification is God’s declaration that someone is already in the sin-forgiven family also seems to miss the mark.”

    “A major problem with the NPP is its lack of scholarship in the area of historical theology, particularly sixteenth century theology. I wonder how many of the leading NPP scholars have actually read Calvin, Luther, Bucer, Knox, Cranmer, etc., instead of simply relying on second hand summaries picked up in graduate school? How many of them have really studied the Reformed confessions and understand their theological categories from the “inside”?”

    Simply a duplicate?

  30. February 21, 2007 at 7:42 am

    Todd
    Ah, yes, the beauty of hind sight. I wonder why Lusk didn’t express those concerns in the Knox colloqouium or in the R&R piece when after lavishing praise on Wright’s doctrine doctrine of justification he seeks to defend Wright from Gaffin’s criticisms on this very score. This is just a hunch, but I suspect that Uncle Doug took little Rich out to the woodshed…….where he tearfully came back saying the things that you have referred to in your commments. That being said, Lusk has still not relinguished his two-fold understanding of justification, he still adopts both Wright and Shepherd’s understanding of a final justification based on works. So, no, I am not satisfied.
    By the way, you mentioned earlier that you came under the influence of Gaffin and Ferguson. When were you at WTS? I was there from 1978-1993 ( with a brief hiatus at T.E.D.S. from 1983-4) working on a ThM and PhD.

  31. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 8:15 am

    “This is just a hunch, but I suspect that Uncle Doug took little Rich out to the woodshed.”

    This sounds pretty silly to me. Rich was still in the PCA when he wrote all this.

    “That being said, Lusk has still not relinguished his two-fold understanding of justification, he still adopts both Wright and Shepherd’s understanding of a final justification based on works. ”

    And how would you describe the relationship between these views of final justification and Gaffin’s?

    “Paul is describing [in Romans 2:6-16] the final, eschatological judgment as it will take place to all people, Jew and Gentile, believer and non, and it decides ultimate outcomes for all humanity. Life and death situation is in view. Further, this ultimate judgment has as its standard ‘good works.’ The doing of the law will ‘do it’ for believer and non-believer. The positive outcome is explicitly justification. Eternal life depends on and follows from a future justification based upon works and the law.”

    I received my M.Div. in 1995. I met you once, at least. Did you finish your PhD at WTS?

  32. February 21, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Todd
    We met? When? What class? I finished all the course work and completed my written and oral exams for the PhD, and then took a call to pastor the church where I have been since 1993 I labored under the illusion that I would be able to finish the diss. out here, but that is a another story. I still want to know why you think Lusk can square his praise for Wright’s reconfiguration of Paul’s doctrine of justification ( he went to great lenghts to defended Wright on imputation in the R&R article) with his’ reservations as expressed in his miscellanies. Also, and let me be real blunt here, I find it rather astonishing, that Lusk would posture himself as some kind of authority in the history of Reformed thought when he has no training whatsoever in that field. To say as he does that the NPP people have a noticable gap in their understanding of the 16th and 17th centuries would be commendable if in fact Lusk himself had such expertise. The truth of the matter is that Lusk is equally deficent on the subject, which is why Reformed scholars like Scott Clark have taken the whole FV thing to task.

  33. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Out in the hall of Van Til once. You were already living in Mesa. You told me that Gaffin was gonna come out and baptize a child or two of yours. I think. Am I thinking of the right guy?

    What? No Ph.D.? Lane lied to me?

    I’ll leave others to judge whether Scott Clark or others have presented the better case about the Reformed tradition in the recent debates on his blog.

  34. February 21, 2007 at 9:32 am

    “If you were Wilson, the pastor of a broadly evangelical church, and then you became Reformed, before any of your elders did, and then paedobaptist, before any of your elders did, what would you do?”

    I don’t think what I would do is help start a denomination which excepted mutually exclusive views on a very important doctrine. He should have come down on this issue at some point. But rather than doing that he opened the door for a whole host of churches (either paedo or credo) to practice a false teaching. They can’t both be right. Where is the contending for truth in this matter? I believe it is his “broadly evangelical” tendencies which have in part led to his RKT. Having said this, I do believe he has made some contributions in bringing stuffy reformed churches back into the realm of the living. But we cannot compromise purity on the alter of unity.

  35. February 21, 2007 at 9:34 am

    “accepted” not “excepted”

  36. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 9:41 am

    RKT?

  37. February 21, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Todd
    Gaffin did baptize my youngest daughter, Rachel ,while I was finishing up the final stages of the PhD program,but this was in a Little Presbyterian church in Perkasie,Pa( just this side of Allentown). Scott Clark is an extremely good historian , by way of comparison, the degree of dearth on this subject in FV circles ought to be embrassing.

  38. February 21, 2007 at 9:59 am

    Rodney King Theology =)

  39. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 10:31 am

    David, you’re paedocom, right? Are you in a PCA church?

  40. February 21, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Yes. No.

  41. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Cool. What kind of church? Does it practice paedocom?

  42. Xon said,

    February 21, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Pastor Johnson, are you saying that Lusk is deficient in his historical understanding of the 16th and 17th centuries by default simply because he doesn’t have a degree in history/historical theology? Or are you saying that, while it is possible to have a masterful knowledge of such things without a degree, that Lusk just happens to lack that knowledge?

  43. February 21, 2007 at 11:19 am

    I’m currently in a small independent reformed church. We are somewhat unique in our approach to the sacraments. We believe the parents are the best judges as to how their children are maturing spiritually. Therefore it is, for the most part, left to the parent’s discretion as to when to present their children for baptism. Some do it very young, others choose to wait. We view all children of believers as in covenant with God. We concentrate on the parents responsiblity to disciple their own children in the Lord. But as soon as they are baptized they may participate in communion, regardless of what age their baptized.

    I have become rather disillusioned with most recognizable Presbyterian and Reformed churches. I respect the system of doctrine taught there and many of the people in them. But it is my opinion there is an over emphasis on scholarly pursuits in most reformed churches, without an equal (or even more important) emphasis on personal holiness. We needs less men with degrees and more men with a passion for living for Jesus Christ. Something M.L. Jones called “orthodusty”.

  44. John said,

    February 21, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    By the way, Lane, you wrote: “In passing, he gives a good argument for the areas of discontinuity that exists between the two: Passover was a family meal; the Lord’s Supper is expressly distinguished by Paul from family meals. This strikes at the heart of the issue, by the way, since a family meal is for the entire family, whereas the Lord’s Supper is for those who are of faith.”

    In what way was Passover a family meal?

    Granted, it was eaten by families in Egypt. But when Israel got to the Promised Land, they didn’t eat the Passover by families. The Passover was eaten then at the place where the tabernacle was and later, of course, at the Temple in Jerusalem. The women and children were not required to attend (though they were, of course, permitted to attend). Jesus, for instance, ate the Passover with his disciples. They didn’t go and eat with their own families (e.g., Peter with his wife).

    So Passover was NOT a family meal, except in the sense that it was a meal that the whole family of God was invited to, including not only blood relatives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but all those Gentiles who had been circumcised and grafted in.

    I’d add that the Greeks in Corinth (to whom Paul was writing in 1 Cor. 11) didn’t have “family meals” either. The men in Roman/Greek society often ate together; the women ate with the children. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. In fact, it’s been suggested by some that the “family meal” as we know it is a Christian invention. One might even wonder if the Table didn’t set the pattern….

  45. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    “Therefore it is, for the most part, left to the parent’s discretion as to when to present their children for baptism.”

    OK. What’s the relationship between this local church’s arrangement and your criticism of the CREC’s arrangement?

  46. February 21, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    I see the correlation your describing. And I’m not opposed to his arrangment in and of itself, other than to say if he is convinced of paedocommunion, he should have pushed for to be the norm throughout the denomination. The Confession he says he subscribes to would seem to demand as much. To be honest, I tend to be somewhat ecumenical like Wilson, yet I have refrained from chosing up sides in this FV controversy, though the traditional reformed view is my default position. My contention with him is that he has left that side for the FV, and now he’s trying to convice others he really hasn’t moved.

  47. February 21, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Geesh, not paedocom, paedobaptism.

  48. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    “he should have pushed for to be the norm throughout the denomination. ”

    OK. Why? And how would this work out in the life of his own church, where not all the elders were paedobaptist? Should he have given them a deadline and then asked them to leave?

    Are you pushing for it to be the norm in your church?

  49. February 21, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    “Why” ~ because if it is a conviction, he should act upon it.

    “And how would this work out in the life of his own church, where not all the elders were paedobaptist?”

    ~ he should teach them, he is there TE. If they didn’t embrace it they’d be out of line with their own Confession.

    “Should he have given them a deadline and then asked them to leave? ”

    ~ I don’t think a deadline would be needed, things would probably unfold naturally.

    “Are you pushing for it to be the norm in your church?”

    ~ I don’t know that “pushing” is the right word. I’d never demand someone baptize an infant. But I am practicing, leading and teaching in that direction. We have some folks who are credobaptist, but they are all teachable in this regard.

  50. February 21, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Todd, are you a TE? In the CREC? or other?

  51. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    “~ he should teach them, he is there TE. If they didn’t embrace it they’d be out of line with their own Confession.”

    Which confession?

    He obviously has taught them; I’m not sure whether any of the elders at that church are still credo.

    David are you the pastor of your church?

    I’m ordained in the PCA.

  52. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    TE. Sorry to have left that out.

  53. February 21, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Christ Church follows the WCF though I’m not sure they have formally adopted it. I believe the CREC accepts the LBC, WFC and the Three Forms.

    I haven’t been at this church quite long enough to come under consideration as an officer. We are governed by a plurality of elders and they require a minimum of 1 year membership. We don’t currently have a pastor/teacher, but I have helped fill some gaps where needed under the auspices of the elders. I do have a desire to serve in that capacity and hopefully will be taken into consideration at some point.

  54. February 21, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Todd, if things don’t work out for you in the PCA it sounds as if you might have a home in the CRE.

  55. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Nah. I love the PCA.

  56. February 21, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Let me take another stab at that comment;

    They’re having their GA in Memphis this year, you coming?

    Maybe Lane will delete that last attempt ;-)

  57. greenbaggins said,

    February 21, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Okay.

  58. February 21, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Lane, you’re in the PCA right, you coming to the GA here in Memphis?

  59. greenbaggins said,

    February 21, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    I’m planning on it. Do you happen to live in Memphis?

  60. February 21, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    I don’t live here, but I work in Memphis. I live in God’s countr..err Mississippi. Maybe we could go to dinner one night while your here. When is the GA?

  61. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    Christ Church did not adopt the WCF until very, very recently, I believe. For years, after Wilson had become Reformed, they had some short, Reformed creed for their doctrinal standard. I forget the name. I do not believe the credo elders were out of accord with this temporary confession.

    It seems to me that Wilson’s relationship with his elders, his church, and the baptistic parts of the CREC is pretty equivalent to your relationship with your church. I don’t see how you can accuse Wilson of commpromising his convictions without accusing yourself of the same.

  62. February 21, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    I agree there are similarities. I compare the FV proponents to the prisoners being held in Quatanamo. Should some of them be there? Yes. But are they all really terrotist? Probably not. Were everyone one of them looking to destroy America? Nah. Should some of them be cut loose? I think so.

    Much in the same way, some FV propnents deserve the criticism they’re receiving, while others (probably Wilson) ought to be cut loose. His popularity, not his FV adherence (which is a lot more toned down than others) is the reason for the criticism against him.

  63. February 21, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    In short, I don’t think Wilson is a very good representative of FV theology. He’s middle of the road, riding the fence, and in fact, when his words are taken as a whole, not out of context, he seems as orthodox as the next guy. I’d like someone to show me where Wilson is heretical. I suppose that’s what I’m criticizing. He wants to be known as a strong FVer but he hasn’t gone out on the limb the others have. In short short, I don’t really consider him very FV at all.

  64. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    David, is 62 a response to 61? Weren’t we talking about the CREC’s “inclusive” nature?

  65. February 21, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Sort of. I agree with the inclusive nature, and don’t disagree with it entirely. Then I wandered back to my criticism of Wilson more particularly. I was using the inclusiveness of credo and paedo’s as an example of his tendency to be ecumenical. I wouldn’t bring charges against him for it. But if his ecumenicalism leads him into murky waters, such as the FV appears to be, therein lies the dangers it can cause.

    p.s. I admit you might see some waffling on my part as well. But I’m not one of you ivory tower guys either. :-)

  66. Todd said,

    February 21, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    I’m still interested to hear Gary’s view of Gaffin’s view of Romans 2 and future justification according to works. Inquiring minds…

  67. February 22, 2007 at 7:25 am

    Xon
    Both/and. You can at to that list his grasp of 19th. cent .Presbyterianism. His comment about the American Reformed Tradition being a ‘bad cassette recording’ of the real thing was appalling. I know this does not count for much with a lot of folk sympathic to the Federal Vision, but when Reformed historians with the stature of Carl Trueman and Scott Clark take you to task, you ought to step back and reconsider the whole matter. But, I am not surprised. I saw this same pattern back in the Shepherd controversy. He too, found himself up against some very able church historians at WTS. Bob Godfrey, a specialist in 17th cent. Calvinism, W. Stanford Reid, a reknown Calvin scholar and Philip E. Hughes, a very accomplished scholar in the field of Reformation studies. But Shepherd paid no heed to these men and pressed on, a similar recklessness is obvious in the FV.

  68. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 7:36 am

    My question is whether Gary has the qualifications and credentials in church history to know who is and is not a good church historian! I think we need to find someone with the right kind of degree to tell us who is and isn’t competent.

  69. February 22, 2007 at 8:07 am

    Todd
    I will not get in a food fight with you over this, but I have published alittle bit in this field. I did both my ThM and my PhD work in church history and historical theology. I studied under Godfrey, Davis, Logan and Ferguson in these fields at WTS as well as Doug Kelly on the Southern Presbyterian theologians Thornwell, Dabney, Palmer and Girardeau, and Mark Noll on Old Princeton( both PhD seminars) and with John Woodbridge at TEDS, and did research on Warfield at Princeton under William Harris, the Archivist at the Speer library .In June of this year P&R will release a book on Warfield that I edited, the contributers include Moises Silva, Mark Noll, Bradley Gunlach, Paul Helseth, and David Calhoun. I am finishing my D. TH diss. this Spring for the Univ. of South Africa. My protor is Dr. John Bolt of Calvin seminary( and a contibuter to the book under review by Lane) and a noted Bavinck scholar.

  70. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Published where, Gary?

    I’ll love to see the book on Warfield. But what about Gaffin and future justification?

  71. February 22, 2007 at 8:31 am

    Todd
    I’ll tell you what, you can ask Dr. Gaffin yourself or take time to read the OPC report. And finally, I am not going to post my resume. You can do your own research ,and while your at it , see if you can find a creek. Once you do back up a few paces so you can get a running start….

  72. Ben D. said,

    February 22, 2007 at 9:19 am

    Hey, someone answer my question! We are getting sidetracked from what is really important here (i.e. my question! :-)

  73. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Whoa, Gary. That’s a lot of hostility for a simple question.

  74. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Todd, that’s because you have been openly hostile to Gary.

  75. February 22, 2007 at 9:36 am

    This whole conversation is spiraling down rather rapidly. I think it is little ridiculous if a two or three reformed guys can’t agree on who should be taken as authoritative on a particular area.

  76. February 22, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Actually, it’s not intended to be hostile, Todd. It’s a subtle way of saying you have been a royal pain( insulting). Now, hostility would be calling you remarks ” utter crap”, or calling down on your house the judgment of God, but telling you to go jump in a creek , is like a gentle nudge in the ribs by comparison.

  77. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 9:44 am

    The issue of Gary’s qualifications is now closed on this thread. He is qualified to make historical judgments about church history. Comments 18, 21, 22, and 44 are now the agenda of this discussion.

  78. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Todd.

  79. February 22, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Lane would you agree there is THE eternal covenant (also the covenant of redemption) upon which the other covenants of Scripture rest? If so, is it wrong to address it as The eternal covenant?

  80. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 10:09 am

    I would agree with that. Beisner/White make that point in their article. The principle of works is evident in that covenant, since Christ would earn His people’s salvation. The principle of grace is evident as well, since the Father promises to grant salvation to the people on the basis of what Christ has done.

  81. Ben D. said,

    February 22, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Maybe you should start a new post to deal with those actual issues (18, 21, 22, 44). This comment section is too big and confusing (combined with the back and forth fighting, rather than discussing the issues brought up in Gordon’s article). Just a suggestion.

  82. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 10:32 am

    No, I think we are all right, as long as we focus on those comments. We’ve certainly had more complicated threads before on this blog!

  83. February 22, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Todd
    Contact me directly and we will converse along more congenial lines and try to find out what happened to you! Olive branch extended.

  84. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:16 am

    “Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Todd.”

    Dude, relax. Check the times — I sent mine before I saw your warning.

    “try to find out what happened to you! Olive branch extended.”

    A condescending olive branch!


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