WTS bookstore’s sale

Check it out. The bookstore has now different books for their sale of the week. There are some real golden opportunities here. Also check out the newest book on justification, this one from Westminster East’s faculty.


  1. April 28, 2007 at 7:31 am

    You know Doug Wilson’s constant invigilation to debunk all the critics of the FV is going to be taking up more and more of his time. First there was Guy Waters’ book, then the OPC report followed by the book Scott Clark edited for the faculty of WTSC, then came the book I co-edited with Guy Waters, and fast on its heels came the PCA report. Then here comes this really good book by members of the faculty of WTS Phila. You can add to the list the recently released book, ‘Always Reforming:Explorations in Systematic Theology’ edited by A. T.W. McGowen- particularly Dick Gaffin’s chapter where he addresses the ‘very troubling’ views of Rich Lusk. Scott Clark’s recent post on his blog concerning the spread of the FV theology in Poland(of all places!) and the need to speedily deal with this heresy is very timely.

  2. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 28, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    G.L.W Johnson,

    It’s A.T.B. McGowan BTW (must be the South African spelling above).

    What specifically about the FV is heresy? And, how do we define what heresy is apart from the creeds? I mean, would we call Arminians heretics because, historically, they have held to a governmental view of the atonement; denied the imputation of Christ’s righteousness; etc., etc.? Would we call Lutheran’s heretics for their view of baptism?

    I’m absolutely convinced that the FV theology is in error in many places. However, I’m not sure we can call it heresy. Historically, it’s a very serious thing to charge someone with heresy (i.e. they were killed – Servetus)

    Chalcedonia represents an orthodox view of Christ. A departure from the Chalcedon Creed would be heresy – a soul damning doctrine. However, denying the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, for example, is not heretical IMO, even though I hold to it with great conviction. John Owen makes similar statements in Vol. 5 of his work on justification.

    Mark Jones

  3. April 29, 2007 at 7:22 am

    If all that was distinctive about the FV was its take on imputation ,you would have a point with your reference to John Owen-but the FV errors recently addressed by the PCA report ( and the similar concerns expressed by the OPC report) deals with much more than imputation. It has been pointed out by a number of people that John Owen’s contemporary Richard Baxter reflects the FV is some substantial ways-and we know how Owen viewed that. I was ,for sometime, reluntant to use the word ‘heresy’ to describe the FV. Not any more. One of the historical features of heresy, in addition to its departure from orthodoxy, is it’s divisiveness. As you probably know the Greek word ‘hairesis’ denoted a sect that was schismatic-thus a ‘heretic’ was an indiviual who sowed division and was factious.I don’t think the Auburn Ave. representatives that spearheaded what we now call ‘The Federal Vision’
    intended to be controversal or divisive- but that is what they became-and here is where I think they crossed the line into heresy. Once confronted by their critics (from across a broad spectrum I might add)- which now includes official reports from two of the most respected conservative Presbyterian denominations- what has been their response? Did they mend their ways? Did they stop and step back and ask themselves, ‘ You know, we better rethink this whole thing’. No, they in effect thumbed their collective noses at all their critics and continued on in defiance. It is this stance that most troubled me. They are incorrigible.They have dug in their heels and declared,’ We will not be move!’They have had plenty of time for reflection and therefore the time has come to stop dealing with them simply as Reformed brethren with whom we have ‘minor’ difference.These issues are not secondary and their refusal to be corrected means that we have no choice but to withdraw from such men and to urge our Reformed Churches to do likewise.

  4. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 29, 2007 at 7:43 am

    G.L.W. Johnson,

    I know that the only issue isn’t imputation. It’s just an example I used. I was interested to know what specifically about their theology is heretical and how do we establish heresy apart from the creeds when the church was, to a large extent, ecumenical. While I still think they are in error and not heretics, it is unfortunate that they have been unwilling to re-think the implications of their theology as members of the PCA/OPC, etc.

    Aren’t you suggesting, in calling them heretics, that they are false teachers? – false teachers on account of their divisiveness and aberrant doctrine, “and we know how [God] views that”.


    Forgive me for pressing you on this, but as you have publicly come out and attacked them I would still like to know what views of theirs are heretical apart from their divisive nature, if indeed there are any.

  5. April 29, 2007 at 7:59 am

    I am assuming you have read the PCA report as well as the one from the OPC.Have you also read the recent spate of books that are critical of the FV e.g. Guy Waters, Scott Clark etc. This is a growing list, as I alluded to earlier)? Time and space on Lane’s blog really does not allow me to rehash all the issues that have been highlighted in the above, but the very fact that ecclesiastical bodies are now addressing these issues should tell you something of the concerns about the FV and its trajectory.

  6. Todd said,

    April 29, 2007 at 8:09 am

    But does the PCA comittee report use the word heresy?

  7. April 29, 2007 at 8:29 am

    It does not use the word ‘heresy’ to describe the various views associated with the NPP, including those of E.P.Sanders who makes no claim to be distinctively ‘Christian’ in his theology.

  8. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 29, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    G.L.W. Johnson,

    I’m critical of the FV movement/theology – let that be clear. However …

    I see no theological or ecclesiastical reason for calling them heretics and if you do, then you’re going to have a serious problem on your hands in terms of Arminians, Lutherans, Baptists, Wesleyans, etc., who have equally “heretical” views. Again, the distinction between error and heresy is an important one; one that I would urge you to make. Are they false teachers? A question you haven’t answered. If they are, then I’m sure you know what God has to say about them (the PCA report does call them brothers, hardly a term to describe false teachers or heretics for that matter).

    Would you not extend the hand of fellowship to them like Luther refused to do with Zwingli (which was ridiculous of course).

    For the record, I’ve read all of the reports (I’m part of the PCA), own several books (many of which aren’t very good unfortunately), and know personally men with FV sympathies (most of whom are godly men), and I am unpersuaded that they are heretics. But I guess you are. And the fact that you are so vocal without being able to give me a clear answer about what specifically is heretical about their theology is troubling to me. Perhaps someone else, who joins me in my concerns about FV theology, can help me out?

    Mark Jones

  9. April 30, 2007 at 6:42 am

    This isn’t a question of fellowship. You will note that in the book I co-edited with Guy Waters, ‘By Faith Alone’ we had OPC (David VanDrunen and T.David Gordon),PCA ( Rick Phillips, Fowler White, Cal Beisner ,Guy Waters),CRC ( Cornelis Venema, John Bolt) Episcopalian( C. FitzSimons Allison), Congregationalist (David Wells), and Southern Baptist( Albert Mohler). The thrust of our concerns revolves around our sincere belief that the FV represents a serious departure from the Reformed Faith, especially (for those of us who are standing in the Presbyterian tradition) as stated in the WS. Furthermore we are deeply concerned about the trajectory that we see the FV is on.

  10. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 30, 2007 at 8:45 am

    I guess you are not interested in answering my question. There are implications for fellowship when one calls someone a heretic, at least historically. But maybe we live in a day when my brother in Christ can also be a heretic! Strange days.

    Moreover, I know of all these men and have read their work and understand their feelings towards the FV. I agree with them (and you) to a large extent. What I don’t agree with (and many other “TR” men BTW) is that the FV men are heretics and, to my mind, you are consistently evading a simple question. But this is going in circles and we both have better things to do with our time.


  11. April 30, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Let me give this one more shot. I think you are using the word ‘Heretic’ ( with a capital H) as it would be applied to ,say, an Arian or some other anti-trinitarian.What do you do with groups that have historically claimed to be ‘Reformed’ and yet departed from Calvinistic orthodoxy in significant ways, i.e. Arminians,Amyraldians or to speak in an ecclesiastical framework, the Cumberland Presbyterians who modified the WS to fit their Arminianism? Now granted this is not what is often called ‘damnable heresy’ but these do represent major departures from Reformed orthodox. Yes, the word ‘heresy’ does have a stigma attached to it and for that reason I was ,for some time, very relunctant to use it. But if the errors of the FV are real and pose a clear and present danger to the Reformed community, what do we do about?Adopt the ‘big tent mind set that is so evident in what goes by the name ‘Evangelicalism’? This will create even more problems down the road with the boundaries of the Reformed faith expanding to the point that is laughable.

  12. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 30, 2007 at 9:30 am

    So, the FV are “small ‘h’ heretics” as opposed to “big ‘h’ heretics”! My friend Andy Webb used that argument with me over lunch once. I find the distinction unacceptable however. Given your distinction, we could go around calling 95% of Christendom ‘heretics’. “Meet my good friend and brother in Christ ……., he is a heretic, but not a Heretic”. You’re right about the stigma, wrong to still use the word as you do.

    “Let me give this one more shot” – this sounds as if you’ve been clear all along and I’ve failed to grasp your Calvin-like “lucid brevity”. I just wanted an example of FV teaching that was heretical, like paedocommunion for example.

    Are you saying, in effect, that anything out of accord with the WS is heretical?

    If only the Westminster Divines had been as clear on the IAO of Christ as our Savoy brothers were. I would think you’d be a Savoy man anyway.


  13. Andy Gilman said,

    April 30, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Mark, I’m curious, what is your definition of a “heretic,” either small “h” or capital “H?” Is a heretic anyone who teaches heresy?

    Is the Popish mass heretical, or is that merely error?

  14. April 30, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Yes, I did come across sounding like Doug Wilson, my apologies.I personally think that the Savoy is splendid confession-and another Reformed document that the FV is out of step with.I won’t go on with this discussion-but I sense we share a similar concern about the FV :we just don’t agree on how best to describe the nature of their errors.

  15. Todd said,

    April 30, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Hey, what’s the historical precedent for using the word heresy in the lower case ‘h’ sense?

  16. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 30, 2007 at 10:22 am


    Heresy is an obvious departure from the ecumenical creeds. Admittedly, this gets difficult in some instances. Some would argue that the mass is an abomination based on the Athanasian creed for example. I see merit in this, so that anyone who believes Christ is sacrificed more than once, even this day, is guilty of heresy; a departure from the ecumenical creeds. Many RC’s don’t believe this of course and there may be a few who are saved despite the corruption of the RC church (my wife is a converted RC). I’m in agreement with Calvin on this.

    Athanasian Creed: “…. For just as the reasonable soul and flesh are one human being, so God and man are one Christ, who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty …”

    Or, the Nicene Creed “…. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end ….”

    I guess my main concern is with a form of Southern Presbyterianism that rejects baptisms from churches who don’t believe all the right things. Luthern baptisms are invalid, Arminian ones are, and RC baptisms are (plus many others). They reduce Christendom to a very small group of people. Is the Reformed faith essentially correct? Absolutely. I’m Van Tillian. But, what ecclesiastical authority do I have to charge Arminians with heresy and reject their baptism? You must answer that question! I think the Donatist controversy settled this issue.

  17. Andy Gilman said,

    April 30, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Thanks for the reply Mark. In the Canons of Dordt, under the Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine, Article 10 says:

    “But that others who are called by the gospel obey the call and are converted is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains); but it must be wholly ascribed to God, who, as He has chosen His own from eternity in Christ, so He calls them effectually in time, confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of His own Son; that they may show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light, and may glory not in themselves but in the Lord, according to the testimony of the apostles in various places. ”

    And the Second Helvetic Confession says:

    “HERESIES. In this matter we condemn the Manichaeans who deny that the beginning of evil was for man [created] good, from his free will. We also condemn the Pelagians who assert that an evil man has sufficient free will to do the good that is commanded. Both are refuted by Holy Scripture which says to the former, “God made man upright” and to the latter, “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).”

    Are the Canons of Dordt and the Second Helvetic Confession wrong to speak of “the proud heresy of Pelagius?”

  18. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 30, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Full-blown Pelagianism is in no way Christian. So, I would call it heresy. But semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism are errors; very serious ones IMO. But I would not say that John Wesley is in hell for example. And certainly Arminius is not a heretic since the debate at Dordt was essentially a debate over infra- vs. supralapsarianism; Arminius being infra (which many Reformed are now today). Goodwin, for example, was Supra and one could argue that Calvin was as well. It’s interesting how many C17th Reformed theologians quote Arminius approvingly. His followers, however, were far worse.

    Servetus is a good example of a true heretic.

    I would be interested in how someone would deal with the use of the word heresy outside of the ecumenical creeds. For my own part, it is not a word that I would use lightly. It is a great sadness to me that people use the word so flippantly. Calling “brothers in Christ” (PCA report) heretics is an oxymoron IMO. Of course, you could use the “small h” vs. “big h” argument, but that opens itself up to all sorts of problems, esp. if the word is used vocally from the pulpit to listeners who are less informed than the likes of Dr. Johnson.

  19. Andy Gilman said,

    April 30, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    The two confessions I quoted called Pelagius’ teaching heresy, on the basis of his position on free will. Is Pelagius’ teaching on free will in violation of the ecumenical creeds?

    You said, “Calling ‘brothers in Christ’ (PCA report) heretics is an oxymoron IMO.”

    This gets back to my question in #13. Is to say that a person is teaching heresy, synonymous with saying that the person is a heretic?

    On the PCA Study Committee thread I used an example where R. J. Rushdoony commented on an aspect of Calvin’s views on civil government, where he said:

    “Such ideas, common in Calvinist and Lutheran circles, and in virtually all churches, are still heretical nonsense.”

    Was Rushdoony calling Calvin a non-Christian, heretic?

    What do you think of this dictionary definition of heresy which says heresy is “opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, esp. of a church or religious system?” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/heresy

    For another example, Fisher’s commentary on the Shorter Catechism says:

    “Q. 57. Is a belief and persuasion of the mercy of God in Christ, and of Christ’s ability and willingness to save all that come to him, all that is necessary to constitute justifying faith?
    A. No; because there being no appropriation, or particular application in this persuasion, it can be no more than such a faith as devils and reprobates may have; or such as Papists and Arminians may subscribe to, consistently with their other
    errors and heresies.”

    These are honest questions. I really don’t know how, historically, the church has decided that something is heresy.

  20. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 30, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    I believe Pelagius’ teaching, if understood correctly, is a violation of the creeds. I’m busy, so I’ll get back to you on this one. These are important questions; ones that are not easy to answer. But, as I said, they become more complex once we leave the ecumenical creeds.

  21. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 30, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Andy, you asked: “This gets back to my question in #13. Is to say that a person is teaching heresy, synonymous with saying that the person is a heretic?”

    How else is someone a heretic? It’s by what they teach. What if someone was consistent with everything in the Westminster Standards, but took exception to the Trinity and taught heresy (3 gods) for example? Are they a heretic? Of course. Why? Because the church has agreed upon what consitutes heresy in light of Scriptural teaching on the one true God.

    Rushdoony was wrong to call it “heretical nonsense”. This comes back to my point that we can say “Calvin was wrong or in error, but not heretical”. What, then, defines a heretic if people are allowed to preach something heretical but not be called heretics? Someone who rejects everything about the Christian faith? Rarely heretics do reject everything; often it is only a few things or even one aspect of the faith. They are still heretics however.

    Now, once we leave the creeds, we have people arguing that someone is a heretic if they:

    1) refuse to baptize infants (Spurgeon, Gill, etc.) / baptize infants
    2) deny the IAO of Christ (Gataker, Twisse, Wesley, etc.)
    3) believe in the continuance of the apostolic gifts (Grudem)
    4) reject Presbyterian church gov’t (Goodwin, Owen, etc.)

    I wouldn’t argue that any of these men are heretics or teach heresy (that would make me heretical in some instances).

    I believe the catholic church, when it was ecumenical (before 1054) has agreed on what consitutes heresy in the creeds. There is no, and cannot be, consensus on whether those who reject infant baptism are heretical. Al Martin was once asked if paedobaptists are heretical. He said “no, they are in error”. I agree with his principle, but not his theology.


  22. Andy Gilman said,

    April 30, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Mark, In #19 I asked:

    The two confessions I quoted called Pelagius’ teaching heresy, on the basis of his position on free will. Is Pelagius’ teaching on free will in violation of the ecumenical creeds?

    And you replied: “I believe Pelagius’ teaching, if understood correctly, is a violation of the creeds.”

    The two Confessions I quoted were specifically condemning Pelagius’ teaching on “free will,” and calling it heresy. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but I would like to know how this condemnation is derived from the ecumenical creeds. Assuming that you agree that Pelagius’ teaching on “free will” is heretical, what is the correct understanding of Pelagius’ teaching which leads you to conclude that he was in violation of the creeds?

  23. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 30, 2007 at 5:21 pm


    There are a number of ways to approach this. But, I think, fundamentally, all of the creeds have as their basic supposition a Christian view of man; he is innately sinful; hence the need for an accurate view of God as Savior. Pelagius denies this, so his view isn’t even broadly Christian. Further,

    Pelagianism was condemned by four regional councils, and one ecumenical council.

    It should be noted that his view was condemned at the council of Carthage (416 and 418); Ephesus (431 – this was the third ecumenical council); Orange (529); and even Trent.

    Protestant councils/confessions have, therefore, upheld the previous councils that condemned Pelagius’ teachings (i.e. 2nd Helvetic (1561/66) 8-9; Augsburg Confession (1530) Art. 9, 18; Gallican Confession (1559) Art. 10; Belgic Confession (1561) Art. 15; The Anglican Articles (1571); Canons of Dort (1618-9)).


  24. Andy Gilman said,

    April 30, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    I see, so when you refer to the “ecumenical creeds” you aren’t limited to the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed and the Creed of Chalcedon?

  25. thomasgoodwin said,

    April 30, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Yes. But there are problems even associated with that that I want to be careful on. There are issues like what constitutes a “false gospel” for example that the Creeds may not be clear on since they were concerned more with who God is than what God does. But I stand by my view that the word “heresy” should be carefully used. What do you think?

  26. Andy Gilman said,

    April 30, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    I’m not sure I understand you. Can you list for me what you accept as the “ecumenical creeds?”

  27. Andy Gilman said,

    May 1, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    In #25 Mark said:

    But I stand by my view that the word “heresy” should be carefully used. What do you think?

    I agree that the word “heresy” shouldn’t be thrown around willy nilly. But at the same time, I don’t think we should be so careful with it, that we won’t apply it to someone who denies the doctrine of “justification by faith alone.” For the sake of argument (and to find out when you would be willing to apply the word “heresy” to someone’s teaching), let’s suppose that it can be shown that Norman Shepherd (e.g., by equating “faith” with “faithfulness”) is making a believer’s works co-instrumental along with faith in his justification. Or better yet, let’s say that Norm Shepherd came right out and declared “I do not believe in justification by faith alone, but rather, justification is by both faith and works.” Would you then be willing to say that Mr. Shepherd was teaching heresy?

  28. thomasgoodwin said,

    May 1, 2007 at 8:52 pm


    You’re condemning most of Christendom as heretics, not just Shepherd. For example, Arminians have a very different doctrine of justification than the Westminster divines.

    Shepherd wouldn’t say that, so there’s no point in hypothetical situations. He’s too smart to say something so stupid (but I disagree with Shepherd still).

    How many in Christendom have the same view of sola fide as you do? Not many, I’m sure. And take this from someone who has done significant work in the area of justification as it has been understood historically. Further, what does it mean to “deny” the doctrine of “justification by faith alone”? Does it mean to deny the IAO of Christ? Is Gataker a heretic? Twisse? Vines? Is Wesley a heretic for vigorously denying imputation (though I recognize there is some debate on that).

    I hold to a Westminster view of justification as biblical. But, that doesn’t mean I call everyone heretics who disagree with me. Many are still brothers in Christ and I think Whitefield’s attitude towards Wesley was right. When I call someone a heretic, I am making a searching judgment not just about their theology, but about their character as well. Heresy is not a purely intellectual problem, it’s also a problem of the heart.

  29. Andy Gilman said,

    May 2, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Mark, you raised objections to the use of the word “heresy.” I’ve been trying to figure out why. So I’m asking questions to try to figure out what your definition of heresy is. Initially it looked like your definition was that heresy is “any teaching which is out of accord with the ecumenical creeds.”

    Then when I tried to understand how you apply the “ecumenical creeds,” I found that we weren’t talking about the same creeds. So I asked you to list the “ecumenical creeds” you hold as authoritative, but so far, no answer. Since it appeared you weren’t going to answer that question, I pursued it from a different angle, I used an example, to try to figure out how you decide what is heresy. I now understand that you do not see a denial of the doctrine of “Justification by faith alone” as an example of heresy.

    But I’m still not much closer to understanding your standard. In your most recent post you’ve just added yet another, undefined, means of measuring heresy. Now heresy is judged by the character and the heart of the person espousing it. By the standards you have so far provided, you are the only one I know who is capable of recognizing and making a judgment about heresy.

  30. thomasgoodwin said,

    May 2, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    You misunderstood me about judging someone’s heart. Read it again. I’m relating the denial of Christ’s divinity to a heart problem. Therefore, someone says to me “I don’t believe Christ is divine”. I say, “that is heretical, you need to believe with your heart that Christ is divine”. When someone has heretical theology, it’s not just a head problem. Faith in Christ is assensus, fiducia, and notitia.

    I’ve been asking you questions now for a few posts which you continue to evade. And I’m not the only one who would limit the ecumenical creeds the way you do. R. Scott Clark agrees with me that Pelagius is a heretic based on the Council of Ephesus. All I am doing is echoing many of our Reformed forefathers. But before I continue to justify myself, perhaps you could give me some answers to post #28.

    I’m becoming convinced that these sorts of debates are really fruitless, esp. on blogs. I’d much rather debate face to face because it’s quite clear people read into posts whatever they want to read.

  31. Andy Gilman said,

    May 2, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    “I’m becoming convinced that these sorts of debates are really fruitless, esp. on blogs.”

    Yes, I suspect this is true.

    “…it’s quite clear people read into posts whatever they want to read.”

    I’m sure this is often how it plays out. Take care.

  32. Carl F. Waldron said,

    May 19, 2007 at 10:10 am

    I am probably in the wrong area for info about past publications – but could find no others.
    I’m interested in the book – “Dispensationalism – Rightly Dividing the People of God?” by Keith A. Mathison – published in 1995.
    Is this book still available for purchase?
    Carl F. Waldron

  33. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 19, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Carl, it seems to be readily available from the WTS bookstore:


  34. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 19, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Lane, you win. That was cool.

  35. greenbaggins said,

    May 19, 2007 at 10:15 am


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