Reply to Jeff Meyers

Meyers has written 30 reasons why the PCA should not adopt the study committee report. I intend to interact with these points, and show why we should, in fact, adopt this report. I intend to address the more detailed version of the reasons, as opposed to the summary, though this format is certainly very helpful in getting impatient people in on the substance of it.

First up is the subscription issue. Meyers argues that the Federal Vision issues should be treated in the same way as other consensus issues like the creation days, millenial views, and pre/post-lapsarianism. He argues that the Westminster Confession is a consensus document, arrived at over a lengthy period of careful debate, and was therefore meant to include a wide range of Reformed views within its walls. His precise wording is “a diversity of acceptable positions.” The example he brings up in detail is the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. Presumably he refers to “pulling the punch” in chapter 11 of the WCF so that Gataker, Twisse, and Vines could sign the document in good conscience.

I can respond to this in a couple of ways. Firstly, the majority of the divines understood WCF 11, and most certainly LC 70 to include the IAO. It was really only because the three divines named were influential that this happened. Furthermore, by far and away the majority of theologians since that time who subscribed to the WCF have affirmed the IAO. IAO is taught in the WS, despite Gataker, Twisse, and Vines. Secondly, the merit of Christ was never disputed (see LC 174 and 55), whereas the entire category of merit is under question by at least some in the FV. Thirdly, and more broadly, the WS are narrow documents. They exclude Romanism, Lutheranism, Arminianism, Socinianism, Arianism, Patripassionism, Eastern Orthodoxy, all the other early Christological heresies, and even continental Reformed tradition (not all of it, by any means) on the Lord’s Day. It is the contention of critics, therefore, that the issues on which the TR’s differ from the FV’ers are not issues like the creation days, but are issues on the level of Romanism, Arminianism, etc. While FV’ers, of course, do not hold to all the tenets of Romanists and Arminians, it is argued that they hold to some of those tenets (just look at their interpretation of “it was credited to him for righteousness” for a premier example. Arminians hold that faith takes the place of righteousness in justification). Every single Reformed author from the 16-18th centuries (plus anyone today who knows their history and exegesis) holds that faith is directed to the righteousness of Christ, and is not a substitute for works, but is instrumental in laying hold of Christ’s righteousness. And yet, the Arminian interpretation is standard fare among many FV folk. By Meyers’s argument, we should be gentle and kind to the teaching of Open Theism, since, after all, it is only their different interpretation of the WS that sets them apart from the TR’s. Why not include them under the big umbrella of Reformed theology? Some of them will probably claim that what they believe does not conflict with the WS. The question is this: what distinguishes us from all these other denominations? And why hold to the WS as opposed to something else? Of course, I believe in strict subscriptionism anyway, so Meyers’s arguments are not likely to wash with someone like me. But he certainly has not convinced me either that the TR’s are too narrow, or that the WS are broad.