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.   

193 Comments

  1. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    “Some of them will probably claim that what they believe does not conflict with the WS.”

    Can you name any open theists who claim to be within the bounds of the WS?

  2. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    “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.”

    You’ve confused the levels of discourse here pretty badly here, Lane. None of the FV guys will disagree with your theological summary of the role of faith in justification, although some will, along with Murray, read the beginning of Romans 4 differently than you.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    No, Todd, you’re the one confused here. And you’re misreading Murray rather badly. And, with regard to Open Theists, I am positing a hypothetical situation where some post-modern Reformed guy (an oxymoron, imo) says that he thinks God changes, and that God isn’t immutable. It’s just his interpretation of the WS that differs. Why not let him in, by Meyers’s argument?

  4. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Murray: In each case of appeal to Genesis 15:6, therefore, we must not, for dogmatic reasons, fail to recognize that it is faith that is imputed (v. 5, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23). How this comports with the truth attested so clearly elsewhere in this epistle that the righteousness of Christ is the ground of justification, the righteousness by which we are justified, is a question that must be dealt with in its proper place. It is not in the interests of exegesis to evade the emphasis, so germane to the whole doctrine, that FAITH is reckoned for righteousness in justification (The Epistle to the Romans, p. 132).

  5. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Murray goes on in other parts of his commentary to assert and defend the view of receptive faith that you have outlined, but he does not believe that this is the point of the imputation language at the beginning of chapter 4.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    But Murray does not explain the preposition “for” in this case, which is the essential exegetical question. Did you think I hadn’t read this, Todd?

  7. barlow said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    If I’m not mistaken, Meyers’s claim on this point mainly relates to accommodating varying positions that were represented at the time of the assembly. He’s not talking about accommodating something like Open Theism, but accommodating something that members at the assembly itself worked to accommodate.

    Further, your hypothetical pomo Open Theist guy would need to make a case that the WCF allows his interpretation, and that case would have to be shown the courtesy of being examined. I can’t imagine how that case could be made, but the case that Meyers makes is one that makes a lot of sense. And so bringing up the analogy just points us right back to the substance of Jeff’s arguments, and not to a slippery slope or a quarrel with the truism that the WCF is the result of compromise and politics at the assembly, providentially blessed of course.

    I also step back and just have to wonder how this IOA got to be such a big issue. We have people on two sides, who all agree that the pair – Christ’s death and his life of perfect obedience – is sine qua non for our salvation, and we still end up with infighting because one side differs in how it accounts for the nature (but again, not the necessity) of the soteriological role played by Christ’s perfect lawkeeping. There’s something aesthetically unpleasing about a dispute like that.

  8. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Lane, have I miseread Murray rather badly or do you simply disagree with him? My only claim about Murray in this thread was this: “some will, along with Murray, read the beginning of Romans 4 differently than you.”

    Do you believe the Murray reads Romans 4 differently than you or not?

  9. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Todd, the point about Murray is actually irrelevant to my claim anyway, since I delimited 16-18th centuries, precisely because I wasn’t all that comfortable with Murray, though I think FV guys run to him more often than is justified. I would probably not vote to approve Murray in my presbytery. What was ***never*** negotiable among the divines was the CoW, Christ’s merit, the doctrine of election as the proposed it, and a host of other issues. Meyers brings up IAO, but there are far bigger fish to fry here. The denial of the CoW was never countenanced by any of the divines.

  10. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Oh. But why did you say that I was misreading Murray rather badly?

  11. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Because I think Murray’s position on Romans 4 is not so easily determined.

    Barlow, if Meyers’s point is only applicable to points of view that were “acceptable” at the assembly, then he cannot claim that Wilkins’s doctrine of “covenantal election” is acceptable, since that *certainly* was not on offer at the Assembly.

  12. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    “Because I think Murray’s position on Romans 4 is not so easily determined.”

    I laughed out loud here, Lane. “It is not in the interests of exegesis to evade the emphasis, so germane to the whole doctrine, that FAITH is reckoned for righteousness in justification.”

    Seems clear to me.

  13. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    If Murray’s position is no so easily determined, how can you be sure that I’ve misread him?

  14. Xon said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Ah, but the substantive point that Todd is making, Lane (I haven’t read the Murray), is that you are confusing the levels of discourse: i.e., a disagreement about what such-and-such passage of Scripture teaches is not the same as a disagreement about such-and-such doctrine.

    I imagine you’re planning more posts and turning this into a series of some sort, but this opening salvo needs to cook a little longer. The entire argument in the third paragraph about the FV being quasi-Arminian over “credited for righteousness” is pretty unclear. (I say this as someone who finds you to be a clear writer.)

    Also, I don’t see how you can claim to be representing Meyers’ argument fairly re: subscription. You explain the issue in dispute pretty clearly in your second paragraph. 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.” Okay, good.

    And your own disagreement is pretty clear in the “thirdly” of the third paragraph: “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.”

    Okay, so we have a disagreement over the level of importance, within the evaluation system of Reformed theology, of the disagreements between the parties in the FV debate. Meyers says that these issues fall under the broad consensus of allowable PCA theology, and you say they don’t. Okay.

    So what do you offer against Meyers?

    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?

    And then you reiterate this analogy in comment #3. But where exactly do you see this Open Theism allowance coming “by Meyers’s argument?” What argument, exactly? Perhaps a quotation would be in order? If the dispute is over what level of importance attaches to the disagreement b/w FVers and their critics, then this presupposes–for both your position and Meyers’–that some disagreements are worthy of “splitting” and some aren’t. It is no argument, then, in fact it is blatant question-begging, to simply claim that “by Meyers’ argument” anyone who disagrees with the WS should be allowed. Where on earth did Meyers say that, or anything that entails that? All Meyers said, by your own summary, is that FV constitutes an allowable disagreement. This in no way entails that all disagreements are allowable, or that the Open Theism disagreement is allowable.

    I think it would be easy to show that Open Theists contradict the WS at a number of points which are generally considered to be indispensably important. Whether FV does the same is precisely what we’ve been debating for the last several months. They simply are not analogous, or at least they aren’t demonstrably analogous in any useful way which allows you to appeal to Open Theism as an analogue without engaging in begging the question.

    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?

    Because there are things which FVers affirm that only the WS affirms. There is no other historical confession (which is a viable option) that is closer to the FVers than the WS are. You seem to be telling FV that, since it is in 95% agreement with the WS (granting for the sake of argument that FV thinking requires some exceptions to the WS), it is actually not Westminsterian at all, but is actually better associated with some other confessional tradition. But what other confessional tradition would be better? Which one can do better than the 95% already found in the WS?

    As to your own admission that you are a strict subscriptionist, that’s great but the PCA ain’t. So Meyers doesn’t have any problem with making arguments that “don’t wash” with you. He’s more concerned with the PCA in general, not the few who think that it was wrong several years ago when it decided against strict subscription. Given that it did decide against ss, you have to do more to show the FV is a problem than simply argue that it contradicts this or that point of the WS?

  15. May 10, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Isn’t/Wasn’t Murray highly regarded in the OPC? If his views are now associated with FV and the OPC is rejecting FVT, then does this mean they are now rejecting much of Murray’s work as well? If so, why didn’t his teaching draw the attention of someone back then?

  16. Xon said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Wow. When I started typing that comment (#14), I was responding to Lane’s #6. A lot happened while I was typing, apparently.

  17. Xon said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Barlow, if Meyers’s point is only applicable to points of view that were “acceptable” at the assembly, then he cannot claim that Wilkins’s doctrine of “covenantal election” is acceptable, since that *certainly* was not on offer at the Assembly.

    What wasn’t on offer, exactly? The idea that all baptized people are put into covenant with God? Surely this was an accpetable view at the time of the Assembly. So are you simply claiming that nobody at the Assembly called these baptized covenant members the “covenantally elect?” Well, okay. But labels don’t matter that much, do they?

  18. Tim Wilder said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    I think it would be useful to clarify right at the start what the procedure would be to accept, adopt, or whatever the options are for the report, and what the significance would be were it done.

    When the OPC did their report there was quite a bit of misunderstanding, because for the OPC to adopt a report would give it something like confessional standing, which they don’t want to do to any document without a careful line by line study in the GA.

    Since some of Meyers’s arguments against the PCA report is that status it would have, we ought to know just what the status would be in PCA polity.

  19. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Fair points, Xon. Let me try to respond here. My basic point is this: what determines whether a particular disagreement is allowable or not? This, imo, is the fundamental issue. If someone is allowed to differ on the CoW, what prevents them from disagreeing on justification and election? I am not presupposing here that the FV does that (although I have argued rather extensively that the FV does differ on election). Rather, I am addressing the specific subscription argument that Meyers puts forth. Where do we draw the line? Do we need a “WS within the WS” like a canon within a canon? This can become arbitrary in a hurry. I, for one, regard the bi-covenantal structure of the WS to be absolutely fundamental to the WS. The CoW is not negotiable. If we start saying it is, then the CoG (as a’Brakel notes) is not far off from revision. And, in fact, that is what many FV’ers have done. Yes, this is a slippery slope argument, and a rather effective one, at that.

    David, one doesn’t always see the trajectory’s ending point in the middle of something. That’s why Van Til defended Shepherd. Van Til would never approve of where Shepherd wound up.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Tim, that’s a great point. More explanation needs to be done on that. I will look into it.

  21. barlow said,

    May 10, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Lane – you’ll probably get to this as you critique in detail, but Meyers does demonstrate that the WCF comprehends multiple senses to the word “election” because it uses the term decreetally and also uses the term to refer to God’s selection of Israel as a covenant people. Actually the committee report pointed this out too, but did not take seriously the implications this has when they sketched their rather facile approach to theological terminology.

    I also think that we should be careful not to make Meyers say that all of the differences between the two sides are acceptable due to the Confession’s wording being purposefully ambiguous as a result of historical discussions. I think he *is* saying that with regards to IAO and baptism, but he does not approach every FV “distinctive” this way – for instance, another argument he uses concerns the FV’s use of scriptural justifications. And so wedging all his objections into the idiom of licit confessional latitude misses that not all his objections rely on the same .

    On the upshot of adoption – Meyers is at least as concerned with the de facto result as he is with the de jure result. Men coming for ordination can simply be asked what they think about X’s teachings, and if they read X to be saying something different than the presbytery reads X to be saying, they won’t judge him on his beliefs but simply on his interpretation of another person’s beliefs!

  22. Tim Wilder said,

    May 10, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Re: 21

    “I think he *is* saying that with regards to IAO and baptism, but he does not approach every FV “distinctive” this way – for instance, another argument he uses concerns the FV’s use of scriptural justifications.”

    So you are saying that sometimes Meyers says the WCF is ambiguous, but other times is it just plain wrong–unbiblical. What are the points that Meyers says are wrong in the WFC, and has he declared these exceptions to his presbytery?

  23. pduggan said,

    May 10, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    “Barlow, if Meyers’s point is only applicable to points of view that were “acceptable” at the assembly, then he cannot claim that Wilkins’s doctrine of “covenantal election” is acceptable, since that *certainly* was not on offer at the Assembly.”

    One of Meyer’s points is that the report contains within it something that assumes a nature of confessional subscription to something more narrow on issues that are on offer at the assmebly.

    That then, is ONE problem with the report that is a reason not to adopt it.

    Independent of that is the question of whether views supplemental to, but not contradictory to the confession, (Like Wilkin’s on corporate election) should be acceptable, and Meyers makes different arguments about that.

    Personally, I found the Roberts Rules of Order issue highly compelling. Roberts Rules specifies that a committee MUST have representatives of all points of view.

    If the response is that these are too important issues and have been messed up by the FV men too badly, THEN WHAT IS THE PCA DOING MAKING committees, instead of CHARGING men and the presbyteries that failed to discipline them for their misdeeds.

  24. Xon said,

    May 10, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    So you are saying that sometimes Meyers says the WCF is ambiguous, but other times is it just plain wrong–unbiblical. What are the points that Meyers says are wrong in the WFC, and has he declared these exceptions to his presbytery?

    Ugh, Tim. The Confession deliberately worded certain things in such a way that people with different views could all agree to them. This is not “ambiguous.” The Apostle’s Creed isn’t being ambiguous when it says that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate. Notice that it does not say whether his suffering was merely physical or physical and emotional. So, in theory, someone who held to either position could affirm the Apostle’s Creed with equal gusto. This is not an ambiguity, it is simply the nature of all propositions: they only say what they say. “Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate.” Nothing ambiguous about that assertion at all. But there may be people with different opinions about the nature of the suffering (I only pull this out of thin air for an example); the Apostle’s Creed simply isn’t telling us who is right among those people. But it is telling us something (that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate).

    Similarly, appealing to the Scriptures when doing theology, and allowing one’s theology to say things that the Confession does not say is not to say that the Confession is “just plain wrong.” Do the Scriptures say that Elijah did not die a “normal” human death? Yes? But the Confession doesn’t say that. So I guess the Confession is “just plain wrong.” (Again, I recognize actual FV issues are more complex than this; the simple nature of this illustration is to make clear the fallacy). I think you are over-reaching here, Tim.

  25. Xon said,

    May 10, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    My basic point is this: what determines whether a particular disagreement is allowable or not?

    I dunno exactly. Something like “the leaders of the Church, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, after frank discussion striving for like-mindedness, at the local presbytery level.” Whatever the merits of your slippery slope argument (and I do disagree with it, but that aside), the point is that the PCA has already gone this way. Your slippery slope would seem to apply to any non ss position. It’s not a problem with Meyers, per se. But on this issue Meyers is simply appealing to the approach the PCA has already chosen; and you are resisting him by recommending what it has already rejected. Is this Report simply an effort to sneak SS through the back door? I’m sure that’s not the intention, but here you are making a case against Meyers on the grounds that he justifies taking exceptions to the WS, as though the PCA hasn’t already decided as a denomination to allow people to take exceptions to the WS.

    As to the slippery slope argument itself, sure, determining what exceptions are acceptable and what are not is a potentially fuzzy thing. But not all things in life can be laid out with pre-reasoned rules. Wisdom doesn’t work that way. There are a handful of confessional traditions within classical Protestantism. The fact that FV thinking doesn’t line up 100% with any of them hardly means it is heresy. It lines up most closely with the Reformed, no doubt about it. In fact, the only truly substantive exception is paedo-communion, as far as I can tell. Only a strict subscriptionist would find that to be a defrockable exception.

    But then this all brings us back to the real point, I think, which is that Meyers here isn’t just claiming the right to disagree with the Confession on particular points here or there (like paedocommunion). He’s also pointing out that this Report itself goes BEYOND strict subscription, by requiring things that the Confession itself does not require. Telling someone they have to believe in IAO, for example, doesn’t make you a ‘strict subscriptionist’; it makes you an ‘extra-subscriptionist’. You are requiring a person to subscribe to a view that the Confession itself simply does not assert, no matter how strictly you subscribe to it. (And this is also the problem with your first response to Meyers in your main post. You point out what a minority position the denial of IAO actually was at the Assembly. But this doesn’t make a whit of difference, does it? It is a minority whose views were officially tolerated in the final document. We can do no less, can we?)

  26. N Harper said,

    May 10, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Response to Jeff Meyers report:
    • Committee not balanced: The GA moderator who was elected by a huge majority has the authority to appoint the committee members. I am assuming that these members were ratified by a majority of the commissioners (ROA 8-3). Therefore, your complaint is against the Rules of Assembly Operations. In addition, the committee was assigned the task of investigating the views of the Federal Vision proponents. You don’t appoint Steve Wilkins to investigate himself.
    • This report should already be in the hands of all the commissioners. It was widely disseminated over ByFaithonline over two weeks ago to both commissioners and laymen. There is absolutely no excuse for a commissioner not to have plenty of time to read it before June’s GA.
    • Let me remind you of the warnings from Scripture concerning “broad” interpretations: Matthew 7:13-14
    • These men named in this report have expressed their views in numerous writings. Whenever one writes and publishes, he has to accept the criticism that comes his way in any form. In other words, one has to accept responsibility for what he says and writes in public. You are free to make the choice to write or not to write, but you are not free to accept the consequences.
    • The report ONLY gives recommendations that are not binding and do not have any authority. Presbyteries are FREE to accept or reject those recommendations. It cannot REQUIRE anything. Recommendations cannot overrule anything.
    • READ the introduction to the report – it clearly states the relationship of the Standards to the Bible. If you are unhappy with the restrictions placed on you by the Standards, LEAVE THE PCA.
    • Your opinion of the report can be expressed in a vote. If you think it is sloppy and inaccurate, vote NO on its adoption. If you really don’t like it – LEAVE THE PCA.
    • The report does not falsely accuse or condemn anybody – it is a study, not a trial.
    • The report will definitely not squelch the ongoing debate or conversation; it will serve just the opposite! FINALLY, those of us in the pews who have had to “squelch” and keep silent because of intimidation and harassment from sessions and presbyteries – we will have a voice! The REAL question is – will sessions, pastors, and presbyteries continue to attempt to squelch this report to their congregations?
    • Now sessions and whole presbyteries will be held accountable for carrying out the recommendations if this report is adopted. If a presbytery does nothing, then it will be public record what side they are on. No longer can the FV hide under their repeated excuses and lies of being “slandered”, “misrepresented”, “misinterpreted”, ad nauseum.

  27. Todd said,

    May 10, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Neil, are you a member of a local PCA church?

  28. Tim Wilder said,

    May 10, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Re: 24

    “Similarly, appealing to the Scriptures when doing theology, and allowing one’s theology to say things that the Confession does not say is not to say that the Confession is “just plain wrong.””

    Nope. The report is comparing the FV to the Confessions. So appeal to Scripture over and above the issue of Confessional loopholes means Scripture against the Confession.

    Now if you want a committee to report on what is un-Scriptural about the FV, that is another topic and you could ask the GA this year to appoint another committee and give it that job.

  29. Anne Ivy said,

    May 10, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    You know, pertaining to the lack of representation of the FV viewpoint on the committee, it has occurred to me to wonder who, precisely, would be acceptable to all FV parties?

    Considering how many who seem to hold to the FV deny there even is such a thing, and how frequently and hastily it’s pointed out that there’s no consensus among the FV’ers as to what, exactly, the FV entails, perhaps that’s why the PCA decided to skip even attempting to include them?

    Sure as shooting, no matter who was on the committee to officially represent the FV, a van-load of other FV’ers would protest indignantly that the FV rep didn’t adequately or accurately represent their viewpoint, so the report shouldn’t count.

    The more I’ve mulled over this, the more I can understand why the PCA did not include even one avowed FV’er, never mind a few of them. No matter who was included, someone would complain.

    And trying to get the FV reps to agree to definitions and firm terminologies?

    I daresay the PCA was really hoping to get the report completed and turned in sometime this year, not five years from now.

  30. Tim Wilder said,

    May 10, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Anonymous Todd, do you even exist, or are you an alter-ego for Jeff Meyers or Mark Horne?

  31. Andy Dollahite said,

    May 10, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Anne Ivy,

    There aren’t any two men in the world who think exactly alike on all issues. But there are men who share many common fundamental beliefs. Selecting a number of FV men would be consistent with the established rules of order most organizations use.

    I wonder how you might feel if the roles were reversed and your theology were under review by a committee who, under your thinking, should include no one of your view point unless you all think exactly the same?

  32. barlow said,

    May 10, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Tim wrote:

    “So you are saying that sometimes Meyers says the WCF is ambiguous, but other times is it just plain wrong–unbiblical. What are the points that Meyers says are wrong in the WFC, and has he declared these exceptions to his presbytery?”

    I’ll sign on to Xon’s answer about ambiguity. On the second part, I think you’ve simply made a false dilemma. Every proposition one might make on the basis of a scriptural argument doesn’t have to fall into one of two categories – taught by the standards or condemned by the standards. It can also fall into other categories:

    1. Not impacted either way by anything in the standards
    2. Allowed by the standards due to a compromise in wording at the time of the drafting at the standards
    3. Allowed by the standards due to an unintentional ambiguity (i.e., the standards aren’t perfectly worded)
    4. Not allowed by the standards, but so minor that the exception doesn’t strike at the vitals of the “system of doctrine”

    It reminds me of when Harry Potter tells Sirius Black that he thinks Prof. Umbridge is a death eater. Sirius tells Harry that the world isn’t divided between good people and death eaters. Not every non- or extra- confessional position is anti-confessional, and not every anti-confessional position is a disallowed exception in the PCA that strikes at the heart of the gospel. We have “system subscription” in the PCA. So when you have two people across the table who both agree that Jesus’s sinless life and his substitutionary sacrifice are necessary for our salvation, yet they happen to explain *how* the sinless life of Jesus relates to our salvation a little differently from each other, adults should still do their best to not upset the dinner table with such minor things. But this report pushes the kind of argument you hear when one person at the dinner table just won’t let the subject lie – who cares if Shakespeare was really Bacon, let’s have dessert.

  33. Anne Ivy said,

    May 10, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    I wonder how you might feel if the roles were reversed and your theology were under review by a committee who, under your thinking, should include no one of your view point unless you all think exactly the same?

    Oh, I wouldn’t like it any more than the FV’ers have, of course.

    Who would?

    But isn’t it possible that the insistence over the years that there isn’t such a critter as the Federal Vision, combined with an emphasis on the impossibility of defining it with any accuracy, the difficulty getting FV’ers to define terms, and so on, means the FV essentially shot itself in the foot when it comes to being invited to evaluate it?

    It’s not reasonable to say the movement’s so ephermeral as to defy description and definition, meaning it’s all but impossible to accurately to criticize it so no-one should make the attempt, but that it’s unfair to exclude the representatives of this ephemeral movement from a committee comprised of people who do think firm definitions not only are possible, but are necessary and exist.

    People who think virtually every heretofore firm definition is up for debate and discussion are rarely in demand on committees, whether theological, business, or academic.

    Well, not unless the committee members are paid by the hour. ;^)

  34. Don Jones said,

    May 10, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    Re #1: If the overwhelming majority of the divines read the standards to included IAO, but were willing to change the wording sufficiently such that the lone 3 who did not hold that view could subscribe, then does that not obviously indicate that they were willing to accommodate the (extremely) minority view within the confession? Point to Jeff on this issue.

    Re #26: Why do we Presbyterians so often act in such non-presbyterian ways? Didn’t someone say we would be known by our love for one another? We are arguing over who does or does not have an honest and correct subscription to our standards, all while not acting on what our standards and scripture clearly teach.

    Re #29: So it is acceptable to diverge from the standards, which require us to follow Robert’s Rules, as long as we are doing so in the name of defending one’s own interpretation of the standards?

  35. Matt said,

    May 10, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Lane says, “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….Gataker Twisse, Vines.”

    Good. I’m glad we agree that people holding only the imputation of passive obedience can be completely confessional.

  36. Jeff said,

    May 10, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    What about all the errors of fact and citation that I uncover in the report? They are inexcusable.

  37. Steven W said,

    May 10, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Someone asked who the FV supporters would have been satisfied for this sort of committee. I would imagine that men like John Frame, Vern Poythress, Peter Lilback, Tim Keller, Reggie Kidd, David Coffin, Rob Rayburn Jr, George Grant, Bryan Chappell, Preston Graham, Richard Lints, and Frank Thielman would be a few acceptable names.

    I think that while it may be irritating to continually hear cries of “misunderstood,” it can also be admitted that there is a very large “middle ground” of pca men who would likely come to a more balanced position. This very well may not be desired by the FV critics, but I think that the PCA has historically provided this balance. It is a big denomination (as far as Reformed denoms go), and big denominations require more compromise than do smaller and more homogenous outfits.

    Of course if the middle ground approach isn’t to everyone’s liking, let’s really get out our theological boxing gloves and make a committee that has Lig Duncan, Joey Pipa, Guy Waters, Peter Leithart, Jeff Meyers, and Steve Wilkins. Make them produce only one report that all parties could sign off on. That’d be an informative report.

  38. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 10, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Tim, Lane knows who I am and has never asked me to sign with more than my first name. Todd R. Harris, graduated from WTS in 1995, ordained by Phialdelphia Presbytery (PCA), recently tranferred into North Texas Presbytery, assiciate pastor-elect at Colleyville Presbyterian Church, and headmaster at Covenant Classical School, Fort Worth.

  39. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 10, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Philadelphia. Transferred. Associate.

  40. Glenn said,

    May 10, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Steven W,

    I agree with your thoughts and the last idea completely.

    I just don’t see how the PCA could really see that report as representative of the FV views. I understand that the report is speaking against things that are not good or Biblical, but I don’t know of any FVers that would hold to those views.

    I just don’t get how things like this can get through and be looked at as ‘good’ scholarship or research.

    My annoyance will always be with the reality that the FV critics don’t have any type of Biblical view of catholicity. It is just really sad and my heart aches at the continued disunity.

  41. N Harper said,

    May 10, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Following the Book of Church Order, the Rules of Assembly Operations, and the agreed upon Constitution of our denomination is an act of love. It puts everyone on a level playing field and keeps us from anarchy. Some of you are acting like little children who want to change the rules in the middle of the game.

    This idea of broadening the interpretation of the Standards to include different views is just a politically correct way of saying we want to move the line of truth and make it relative instead of absolute.

    Anne is right – the FV folks have their own dictionary of contradictory terms and oxymorons such as “non-elect believers” and “implicit explicit slander”, and even those change with the weather and the circumstances.
    And, this most misunderstood group of incoherent slippery theologians want us to accept their teaching as an improvement to the clear and concise Westminster Standards?

    Todd #27:
    I already identified myself to Lane in a previous blog. Now, could you please give me your social security number?

  42. Kevin said,

    May 10, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Re: 27
    Give it a rest, Todd. I can feel another ad hominem coming on if N Harper relents and gives you his life history.

    Re: 32 & 40
    And let’s all join hands round the campfire and sing “Kumbaya.”

    Re: 37
    Why stop with this short list of names? Next time cut and paste the entire Presbyterians & Presbyterians Together list. And then we can again join hands round the campfire and sing “Kumbaya.”

  43. May 10, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Lane, I, too, object to the nebulous “confession within a confession” business that non-strict subscription leads to. If FV errors are going to be allowed exceptions, why not the ordination of women? Or perhaps chuck out the regulative principle of worship while you are at it.

    That is one reason why the URC doesn’t allow exceptions to the 3FU – neither for our elders and ministers nor for our members.

    But one indication that the Federal Vision is, well, not Reformed at all, is because it couldn’t find a home in the continental Reformed confessions either. Taking an exception in WCF on, say, a minor thing like the Sabbath is of a whole different magnitude from FV’s re-formulation of ecclesiology and soteriology. Things like Wilkins’ parallel ordo salutis or Lusk’s “final justification” couldn’t find a home with the 3FU either. This tells you that there is something more fundamental and systemic at work in these doctrines – something that gets at “the vitals of religion” and what it means to be Reformed.

    Need I tell you that FV won’t be finding a home in the URC anytime soon? This should tell the PCA something.

  44. May 10, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Lane,

    As always thanks for your posts, and willingness to host the discussion. I must disagree with your rebuttal of Meyers’ report for several reasons, listed below. But be assured of my glad hopes that we can all find a way ahead – and together in the peace of Christ – at GA this summer.

    1. If the sum of a resposne is to invent a hypothetical postmodern, open theist PCA TE to employ as representative of FV TE’s then Meyers’ response is unassailable. I think that was a poor beginning.

    2. The names already mentioned above would have been terrific additions to the committee, and in fact an entirely new committee sould be assembled. The fact is that the members of this committee, good men all, were NOT chosen by the Moderator during GA, but rather announced to all afterward. The sad lack of any proper representaiton of views other than those of the Moderator on the commitee simply guts the report of credibility, even if one agrees with the findings. I am particularly distressed by this issue. As it stands PCA TEs are being treated like small children who must be told what to believe by an omnicompetent elite. Balance would be helpful.

    3. The report, if adopted, will create a confessional sub-canon, an extra standard that will be employed to examine men for ordination and transfer. I Now it is true that all presbyteries must interpret the standards as they examine men, and it is also true that stipulated meanings to terms within the field of systematic theology should not be discarded or muddied by the use of the same terms but with another, not-stipulated meaning of the term used in a discussion of systematics. Yet this must also leave room for the fact the Bible does employ terms in ways systematic theology does not, and that there is nothing wrong with speaking as the Bible speaks, so long as one remains clear about such distinctives. Or does God himself speak only in confessional language? Am I to think that every time I run across the term ‘righteous’ in the Bible that by it God only meant one particular, confessional meaning? Of course the committee men don’t think that (I hope!), but it will be a theological outcome in our churches.

    4. It is inexcusable that a report like the one issued by the ad interim committee should have shown so little care to accurately depict the views of the Reformed pastors and scholars whose views they condemn. There are numerous errors in this regard.

    5. I haven’t heard anyone say much about the report’s take on NPP. Why? Might it be that BOTH the FV men and the committee actually agree on the critique of the NPP version of personal justification the committee outlines? Perhaps this should make it clear that on the crucial point of sola fide the FV men are on solid ground. It appears that the remaining dispute is not with the NPP within the PCA confessional view, but with the FV alone, as the FV men apparently agree with the committee on NPP issues. Whether or not the committee has accurately represented NPP scholars is another debate.

    For reasons of procedure, precedent, and accuracy the GA should reject this report. It is my opinion that a new committee should also be formed that will more adequately address this issue and bring us all – hopefully – a more informative and helpful report, one that may even have a minority report attached, in due time. It is certainly needed. Nor should we feel the slightest pressure to hastily adopt a report in order to keep in step with other denominations. There is such a rush to judgment on this issue that last year an Overture was submitted that called on the PCA to adopt the OPC report – and the OPC hadn’t even adopted it yet. Patient scholarship that carefully listens – and this should be required of all engaged in the process – will serve our congregations and the Church.

  45. Anne Ivy said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    I wondered if that wasn’t the school of which you’re headmaster!

    See those stickers on the back of car windows frequently, Todd. ;^p

    You know, Mr. Harper put his finger on the most problematic theory of the FV, i.e. the existence of “non-elect believers” as a viable class of people.

    ISTM that presents a workable question for framing a discussion regarding the FV. How on earth would one denomination hold both those who hold to the existence of “non-elect believers” and those who believe that’s an oxymoron? Surely one denomination cannot hold to both A and non-A, after all.

  46. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    I’m trying to put together the things I know about Neil. He is encouraging certain men to leave the PCA, but he seems to reject infant baptism. Neil, are you a member of a local PCA church? If you’ve told us about this under another post, could you please direct me? Thanks a ton.

  47. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    Anne, do you have any openness to the concept of a “non-elect covenant member”? This is a much more common phrase in the controversy than “non-elect believer.” But Reformed theology has always had *something* to say about “temporary faith.”

    CCS is home for lots and lots of Christ Chapel families.

  48. May 10, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    “You’ve confused the levels of discourse here pretty badly here, Lane. None of the FV guys will disagree with your theological summary of the role of faith in justification, although some will, along with Murray, read the beginning of Romans 4 differently than you.”

    ‘Levels of discourse’ eh? Ut-oh. I think I smell FV codewords for “my beliefs don’t have to make any sense or be coherent, and I can cut the cord between exegetical and systematic theology.”

  49. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    No, it’s code for “beware of reading important doctrines *into* specific texts that aren’t quite teaching them.” Hermeneutics 101, David.

  50. Kevin said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Re: 36 “What about all the errors of fact and citation that I uncover in the report? They are inexcusable.”

    It’s not likely that you’re correct here. After all, you probably misunderstood the report. In fact all the critics of the report should immediately stop criticizing the report because they just don’t understand, just misunderstand, (and have probably violated the ninth commandment already) the real intent of these really great and totally awesome men who have contributed so much to the PCA, and where would we be with these geniuses?

    But at least they didn’t plagiarize . . . which really is inexcusable and contemptible no matter how many times Wilson and Wilkins redefine the term.

  51. Kevin said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    The following quote may perhaps provide some clarification regarding the function of Creeds and Confessions:

    “The basic pattern within the Reformation was thus to acknowledge Scripture as possessing primary and universal authority; the [Apostles’ and Nicene] Creeds as secondary and universal authority; and the Confessions [Augsburg, Basel, Geneva, Gallic, Scottish, TFU, 39 Art, Second Helvetic, Westminster, London, etc.] as tertiary and local authority (in that such confessions were only regarded as binding by a denomination or church in a specific region).” Alister E. McGrath, Reformation Thought: An Introduction (3rd ed.), p. 242.

    Lane is making a valid distinction between the universality of Scripture and the Creeds and the narrowness of the WS and 3FU — a distinction that Jordan and Meyers are doing their best to blur with their spin on the WS as consensus documents. Yes, they are consensus documents, but they are also narrowly enough defined to root out those who don’t fit in with that particular brand of theology. For all its talk about Reformed tradition and Continental theology, the FV has yet to demonstrate how its views harmonize with the WS, much less the continental standards. There’s just way too much

    The reality is that the creeds/confessions are by their very nature a line in the sand. If you agree, you’re in. If you disagree, you’re a heretic — universally if one contradicts the Creeds and denominationally if one contradicts the Confessions.

  52. Anne Ivy said,

    May 10, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Sure, I’m aware of and open to “non-elect covenant members”, so long as it’s clearly understood those particular covenant members are merely temporal members of the covenant, with no true saving knowledge of or belief in the Christ who is.

    If “non-elect believer” is someone who believes in a Jesus of their own devising, then okay. Mormons would be non-elect believers. JW’s, too. Anyone not regenerated by the Holy Spirit and in that manner introduced to Christ.

    But “non-elect believer” in the sense the FV uses it, as of someone who “for a season” (the FV loves that phrase, doesn’t it?) believes in the Jesus who is? Then, because the Holy Spirit withdraws from him, stops believing in Him?

    Nope.

    And oh yeah….those stickers are often spotted in the CCBC parking lots.

  53. May 10, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    “No, it’s code for “beware of reading important doctrines *into* specific texts that aren’t quite teaching them.” Hermeneutics 101, David.”

    Todd, I can agree with you in principle but to what extent? Can we, say, read John 1 as “the word was a god” and then say we believe the Nicene Creed?

    FV has this “catch us if you can” mentality, where they’ll affirm the Standards on something and then turn right around and give expositions of the Scripture that lead away from the Standards. As Lane said, they give with one hand and take with the other. But this tactic is old (although I do realize that some may simply be incompetent enough in their theology that it is not intentional) and at this point fairly transparent.

    You can’t, for instance, have a case where you say that Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 applies to non-elect covenant members and then say you affirm the Westminster Standards. FV has to cut the cord between ET/BT and ST in order to continue to formally affirm the standards and yet get away with that foolishness.

  54. May 10, 2007 at 11:20 pm

    Speaking of “levels of discourse”, anyone remember this little doozy:

    The question of levels of discourse is central in understanding this. On one level, all of us confess that some children of believers are reprobate, and will eventually fall away. On another level of discourse, we say that God is Gdo to our children. In preaching, in catechesis, in liturgy, the second level of discourse is operative. This level is operative because faith in the promises requires it. But an important point to note is that we are not saying contradictory things within one level of discourse. Nor are we denying the first level of discourse.

    That’s an oldey but goody from Wilson’s entry in the Knox Colloquium from all those years ago (brings back memories, doesn’t it?). In typical FV fashion Wilson nor anyone else has ever backed off of this double-talking craziness (and Beisner’s response in the book was spot-on). If we can affirm A and non-A at the same time then theology far loopier than FV can be made to “affirm” WCF.

  55. Don Jones said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:17 am

    Jeff reiterates a very important point: The report significantly misrepresents the views of the men quoted, of which he provides several examples. My favorite was where they had turned a Doug Wilson quote around to say exactly the opposite of what he had said. Such serious misrepresentation of the views of the FV folk is sufficient grounds to reject the report, because it would imply that the report is attacking a straw man.

    If this was unintentional, then it represents sloppy scholarship, laziness, proof-texting to find a preordained conclusion, or similar.

    I really do not want to even contemplate that it might be intentional.

  56. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 11, 2007 at 7:31 am

    But you can certainly believe both that the Bible teaches the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and that Romans 4 is about something slightly different.

  57. May 11, 2007 at 7:43 am

    Don
    Meyers makes reference to this ongoing ” conversation” at the end of his paper. What is that? I do not see anything that even remotely looks like a ” conversation” going on here. On the contrary, as Guy Waters, Scott Clark and the faculty of WTSC, the committees of both the OPC report and the PCA report as well as myself have discovered, ALL the critics of the FV are called names, accused of having sinister motives, guility of deliberate misrepresentation and lacking the ability of grasp the profound insights of the FV. I have yet to see ANY admission on the part of the leading representatives of this illustrious bunch that the critics have made a single valid point. Instead, like a broken record , we hear ad nauseam, ” you misunderstand us.” I for one am finished attempting to be part of this kind of “conversation”.

  58. Tim Wilder said,

    May 11, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Re: # 57

    “I for one am finished attempting to be part of this kind of “conversation”.”

    What we are seeing is the tarbaby strategy, that the FV people’s mentor “Gary North” used to talk about all the time.

    What they do is to find the discussion on the internet where the best critics are at work, and all swarm there and begin to raise as many and as diverse objections as they possibly can, to swamp the discussion and exhaust everybody. This is especially useful as the time before the GA is so limited. The more it gets off the point, the better from their point of view.

  59. Todd said,

    May 11, 2007 at 8:12 am

    “What they do is to find the discussion on the internet where the best critics are at work,”

    Tim, you flatter yourself!

  60. Glenn said,

    May 11, 2007 at 8:12 am

    Re: 57 –

    GLW, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”

    How is it that the FVers can give their critics any credit when their critics (not necessarily purposefully) really are telling lies to their fellow brothers about other faithful brothers?

  61. Todd said,

    May 11, 2007 at 8:16 am

    “I have yet to see ANY admission on the part of the leading representatives of this illustrious bunch that the critics have made a single valid point.”

    Gary, do you believe that Jeff Meyers has made any valid points in his 30 reasons paper?

  62. Todd said,

    May 11, 2007 at 8:33 am

    “I do not see anything that even remotely looks like a ” conversation” going on here.”

    I do. Wilson and Lane are having a great conversation.

  63. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 9:12 am

    To all, and to Jeff in particular. I have not finished with my critique of Jeff’s 30 points. So, to Jeff, I say, “Wait until I have gone through all 30 points.” I think you will find your critiques will be dealt with, though (I’m sure) not to your satisfaction or convincing. Here’s the problem with system subscription: there is no guideline for what constitutes someone to be “just inside,” “right on the line,” or “just outside,” or “quite a bit outside” the WS. I know very well that the PCA is a system subscription denom. That’s one of the reasons why we are having this huge problem today. If exceptions were not allowed, we would not have this problem unless there were people who were claiming not to have any exceptions but were being disingenuous. That being said, my ideas of ss are not the basis for my critique of Jeff. More on this in future posts.

  64. May 11, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Why won’t any antiFver’s debate Wilson formally? I believe his offer still stands. If it is as demonstrably heretical or unConfessional as TR’s say it is, this should come out clearly in a debate. It seems, if it’s worth the time and trouble to write volumes against, and blog about endlessly, a couple of hours of real “conversation” can’t hurt.

  65. Todd said,

    May 11, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Lane, besides paedocommunion, what exceptions are FV-types taking?

  66. Andy Gilman said,

    May 11, 2007 at 9:31 am

    In #44 David Cassidy said:

    [BOQ]
    Yet this must also leave room for the fact the Bible does employ terms in ways systematic theology does not, and that there is nothing wrong with speaking as the Bible speaks, so long as one remains clear about such distinctives.
    [EOQ]

    If the FV were clear about systematic distinctives, the OPC, RCUS, RPCUS and PCA wouldn’t be forming study committees to address the confusion, and the increasingly bitter divisions the FV has caused. When you ask questions of the FV advocates, to try to clarify their position, you discover that the reason they can’t remain clear about the systematic distinctives is that they no longer accept and teach those distinctives.

  67. Glenn said,

    May 11, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Andy,

    I think that it’s certain loud critics that are making things unclear. How is it that those on the FV side are saying, point blank, that they don’t believe such-and-such, yet their critics continue to say that they believe such-and-such.

    The only reason any committees have formed is because of the bad information the strong critics keep spreading.

  68. barlow said,

    May 11, 2007 at 9:41 am

    GLW writes: “On the contrary, as Guy Waters, Scott Clark and the faculty of WTSC, the committees of both the OPC report and the PCA report as well as myself have discovered, ALL the critics of the FV are called names, accused of having sinister motives, guility of deliberate misrepresentation and lacking the ability of grasp the profound insights of the FV.”

    GLW – this has pretty much been your approach to every blog discussion – line up the experts who agree with you rather than participating substantively. But it isn’t as if the FV has accused anyone of misrepresentation and left it at that. They have attempted to demonstrate it. Go to federal-vision.com and ask yourself where Waters has responded to the critiques of his book. Go to Scott Clark’s blog and ask yourself why the comments are turned off after I essentially forced him to admit that he denies a metaphysical union with Christ, and borders on antinomian in his convictions.

    And Tim Wilder – your approach is to

    1. Assume a conspiracy – as if the FV has a coordinated blog discussion strategy; that’s just weird.
    2. Take out a 60 calibre genetic fallacy and try to mow down the opposition by putting their feet in concrete blocks composed of ignoble influences.

    Neither of you sustains an engagement with the substance of the matter. Let’s assume Jeff’s “30 reasons” were the surprising result of writing down the first letter of each line of every Ozzy Osbourne song. Now, what’s left is still a devastating response to the PCA committee’s report, and even if only 5 of the 30 reasons he gives are cogent to you, then you should join him in opposing adoption of the report.

    I also think that this constant refrain of accusing the FV guys of never admitting a good critique goes both ways. If you examine this debate, from its first emergence on pcanews.com and at the AAPC conference and subsequent interactions, you’ll see that both sides have undergone doctrinal development. The anti-FV is generally more careful about linguistics than it used to be, some of the anti-FV folks have a kind of sacramental renaissance on their hands, and more people are willing to allow the word “grace” to be used in contexts where the little red book previously said the word was 禁止的. Further, previously ho hum exceptions like paedocommunion are now becoming grounds for disallowing a guy to enter a presbytery. For instance, the animosity against Covenant Seminary has led to weird outcomes like guys being denied access to presbyteries who simply hold to Gaffin’s reconceptualization of the ordo, or do not tow a certain line with regards to how we want to describe Adam’s pre-fall state. On the FV side, the AAPC has modified some of its statements, Lusk has modified some of his articles to be clearer, and in general the FV guys are trying to connect what they are saying to a more traditional idiom so that it can be understood. What was once a kind of pastoral theology of apostasy is now expressed in more systematic-theological language. I don’t know if you’ve listened to the lengthy examinations of Wilkins and Wilson, but they come across as rather traditional with the addition of some convictions about the non-elect and the nature of their time in the visible church. That’s a result of interaction between both sides of the issue. Iron sharpens iron until the blacksmith turns on the bellows and begins to melt down the situation.

  69. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Andy,

    That is just plain silly. You may not like what they say but its perfectly clear to me. Also, you throw in the the RCUS (41 churches), and RPCUS (11 churches) as though they’re big factors. I’m in the CREC and we are already larger than both of these denominations combined and we have a statement that says much of this is adiaphora…so there. In fact, you can view it here:

    http://www.crechurches.org/html/federal_vision.html

    You anti-FV guys are constant endless whiners about how this bitterness was caused by the rascaly FV but all I see is childish rants and ridiculous claims (equating FV w/ heresy and cults). From my perspective, most of the problems have been caused by neo-confederates trying to ram a Dabney/Thornwell paradigm down everyone’s throat. Remember the FV men were always content to live in peace w/ those who disagreed w/ them. Jeff Meyer’s report just gave the anti-FV a huge clubbin’ and the response is “but on page 22 in para c, blah, blah, blah.”

    Don’t any of you give rip that NO ONE who is condemned (yes, conedemned) in the report was contacted in any way, shape or form? Ministers-in-good-standing in the PCA and nobody contacted them. Also, its clear that people like Doug Wilson were clearly represented. Take the dokos out of your eyes then you can come look at the karphos.

  70. May 11, 2007 at 9:59 am

    (sigh)

  71. markhorne said,

    May 11, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Accusing the FV of causing bitter divisions is a classic instance of projection.

  72. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 10:45 am

    David, I am debating Wilson. I am not suited to live debate. I need my library to hand. And Wilson, Todd, and I all say that the discussion right now is fruitful. Are you forgetting the Knox Colloquium? That was hours upon hours of conversation. A fine book resulted. At least, I think it got the issues clearly out in the open.

    Barlow, BOQ I also think that this constant refrain of accusing the FV guys of never admitting a good critique goes both ways.EOQ No, it doesn’t in the least. As Wes White and I have shown, we are ready to be shown that our critique is off. We have admitted it. There hasn’t been one single admission on the part of FV guys that the critics ******ever****** have a point. Now, if you put yourself in our shoes for one minute, I’m sure you can imagine how amazingly frustrating and irritating this is (if understatement were a crime, I’d be history right about now). And saying that it cuts both ways really doesn’t answer the argument anyway. Where are the retractions, pray tell? There are none, and there never will be any.

    Garrett, you surely have a gift for overstatement: “all I see is childish rants and ridiculous claims.” Both WTC and WTS books are childish rants and ridiculous claims. Certainly, Waters’s books are childish rants and ridiculous claims. Everything on this blog obviously fits that category. What planet are you from?

  73. Todd said,

    May 11, 2007 at 10:55 am

    But Barlow has asked about why Waters, for example, hasn’t responded to the critiques of his book. There hasn’t been one single admission on the part of Waters that his critics have a point.

  74. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Todd, that’s irrelevant to my point. Not every critic has time to respond. I happen to have the time. Waters is neck-deep in other writing projects right now. And if Waters isn’t convinced that his critics have points, then he won’t admit to a mistake. Personally, I am not convinced by the critiques of Waters, either. I was convinced by Wilson on the visible/invisible church distinction. So, I ask again, point me to one single, itty-bitty retraction on the part of FV advocates.

  75. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Yeah Bags, its all fantastic scholarship out there. No running people over with RTS Jacks bus, no over-statement from anti-FV guys, no WSC profs screaching to hurl the sacerdotal hordes over the cliff. Yeah, its all dispassionate analysis. You really ought take a drive out of the boodocks every once in a while.

  76. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:02 am

    One more comment like that, Garrett, and you will be banned. This is my blog, not Mark’s, and not Wilson’s. You are disrespecting the entire faculty of Westminster West, Westminster East, the OPC committee report, the PCA committee report, and my own humble work. Your arrogance, it seems, knows no bounds, and you know better than people with ten-thousand times more experience and scholarship than yourself. Shut up.

  77. May 11, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Lane, I agree your discussions w/ Wilson have the most productive thing to date.

  78. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:04 am

    BTW is anyone here, anyone, going to admit that not interviewing ANY of the FV ministers is just flat wrong? The holes in that report are flaming red. The misquotes of their targets are so pathetically obvious. Is anybody going to do anything about this injustice (regardless of what you think about the theology)? You guys are truly blinded by your theological presuppositions. Anything goes if its for the cause.

  79. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Go ahead you’re making my point.

  80. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Well, I do also think that my discussions with Xon have been rather productive. Wouldn’t you agree with that? A bit more technical, perhaps, but not unproductive.

  81. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:06 am

    And apparently, Garrett, you know better than Wilson, who has publicly said that I am fairly representing his position.

  82. May 11, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Lane have you had contact with Dr. Clark since entering in this debate w/ Wilson? His “attempt” at dialog turn sour pretty quick. Does that make you the leading light on theTR side? ;)

  83. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Lane,

    Its not all about you. I think you’ve been reasonbaly fair in that debate. Its your blog but their are others commenting here.

  84. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Lane,

    I guess pastors aren’t allowed to question professors judgment. Since when did the the office of professor trump pastors in the church? You also assume every prof agrees w/ every assertion in said report.

  85. May 11, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Garrett, I sympathize with your frustration about the injustice and sometimes uncivil demeanor taking place on both sides. And I know such as it is w/ fallen man, but it still doesn’t excuse it.

  86. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:15 am

    David, I would hardly say that I am the leading light. However, it seems that most of the critics are now content to deal with written sources rather than other sources. Quite frankly, I’ve never been convinced that face-to-face debate would solve anything. It can often result in a madhouse. And furthermore, equally (if not more) productive interaction can be done on blogs than in person. At least one has a bit more time to think about what one is going to say on a blog.

    Garrett, you have swept aside (seemingly) all the critics except me as being raving homocidal maniacs. Are you going to say that to Gaffin, who is against the FV yet much beloved by FV advocates? Are you going to say that to the *entire* WSC staff (not just Clark)? No, Garrett, these men have taken the FV very seriously. It’s time the FV returned the favor.

  87. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:17 am

    David, are you bothered at all by comment 75? Are you going to tell the FV that their comments are uncivil?

  88. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Lane,

    Ah, but they have. Jeff Meyer’s response is just part of it. BTW you have no idea what my commitments or lack thereof to the FV are. I find the process appalling. Also, when did WSC (a small independent one-time offshoot of WTS) become the great authority for what is reformed and orthodox? All my “FV” theology (presumption of regeneration/bicovenantal non-meritorious COW) was learned at Covenant Theological Seminary in Covenant Theology 1 (a class every theological student has to take). So, there’s one seminary (a denominational one at that) that is teaching suspect things.

  89. May 11, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Yes Lane #75 was out of line. And yes, I have recently faced rash criticism by a FV man that has since been reconciled.

  90. Anne Ivy said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Ah HA! Good. Don’t remember if it was here or elsewhere, but I’d posted something about the FV being taught and spread via seminaries and someone wanted to know my sources, but I couldn’t recall specifics.

    Garrett’s post’ll do nicely to support what I said, wherever it was I said it.

    Cool.

  91. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Okay, I admit I was out of line in #75. Forgive me for my over-statements in that comment.

  92. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Anne, you really need to chill out.

  93. May 11, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Garrett, while in the process of chilling out yourself, it’s probably not wise to tell others to do so. Thank you for the retraction, though.

  94. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:33 am

    Anne, BTW if you think you really have something here go ahead but I’m warning you that you’ll look pretty silly. Presumption of regeneration is so common in Reformed circles that its shocking that some think its from another planet. You can find laid out all nicely on page 626-627 in Berkhoff’s. Also, the modern progenator of the bi-covenantal non-meritorious COW is Wilson Benton, who was one of the biggest anti-FV guys in MO presbytery (PCA). But don’t let that stop you. Yep, that’s what I learned at CTS.

  95. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Thank you, Garrett. Now we can proceed on a somewhat less frenetic blood pressure.

    I have no problem with presuming that children are regenerate because of the covenant, and yet I am a critic of the FV. The FV teaches far more than presumptive regeneration. The FV teaches that all who are in the covenant (defined pretty much as the visible church) have all that is true of Christ. That is far more than your two small issues. And if someone says that there is a covenant of works, and is willing to say that Adam’s obtaining of eternal life was conditional upon his perfect and personal obedience, that is the substance of what I affirm as well. Again, that’s not what many in the FV teach. They want to throw out the CoW altogether. And what about covenantal election? This isn’t simply the same thing as corporate election (about which I have no problem whatsoever). The covenantal election is applied to all, head for head, and means that all that is true of Christ is true of them. That is what Wilkins claims. That is not the same thing one bit as saying that Israel was elected as a nation. The latter makes a claim about a group of people. The former makes a claim about people in the group. Not the same thing.

    So, Anne, I’m sorry, but I’m not willing to admit yet that Covenant Seminary teaches the FV. Sean Lucas is there, by the way, and is on the PCA study committee. What do you say to that, Garrett?

  96. Todd said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:39 am

    “So, I ask again, point me to one single, itty-bitty retraction on the part of FV advocates.”

    Lusk withdrawing the “redundant” comment? AAPC changing their statement?

  97. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:46 am

    For our benefit, where is Lusks’s withdrawal? And the revision is not a retraction. They did not come out and say, “We were wrong before.” And their current statement is full of problems as well.

  98. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:46 am

    I don’t believe Dr. Lucas was comfortable w/ presumption of regeneration (he was sitting in those very classes when I was there) and, at the time, seemed to think they were outside the pale of “PCA Presbyterianism.” I have no idea what he thinks now. As far as the rest of it goes (maybe its a dispositional paradigm thing) I’m just not finding myself getting worked up over much of this at all from an analytic theological perspective. I find Doug Wilson’s positions persuasive and am still making up my mind on other things (and I have read a lot on both sides). But what I don’t like is the witch-hunting atmosphere that is prevailing. My view of baptism, presumption of regeneration, was labeled “FV” and out of accord with “PCA presbyterianism” out in California 2 years ago (I had no other exception postions at the time). I lost everything and had to start from scratch. You tell me how one is supposed look upon the current atmosphere through that lense.

  99. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Well, presumption of regeneration has to be carefully defined. Does it mean that we view children as believers, and not pagans? Is it just another term for the judgment of charity? Or is it baptismal regeneration? And in what sense would it be baptismal regeneration? These questions need careful clarification before an answer can be determined. I am willing to allow that a presbytery might have judged wrongly in your case. But I can’t come to any conclusion without knowing what your actual views are.

  100. Tim Wilder said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:50 am

    “I have no problem with presuming that children are regenerate because of the covenant, and yet I am a critic of the FV. The FV teaches far more than presumptive regeneration.”

    Presumption regeneration is the view taught by Kuyper and opposed by objective covenant people like Schilder, and by Shepherd, et. al. It is the doctrine that the reason that we baptize infants is that we presume that the infants are regenerate, even though we know that there are exceptions (i.e. some will later in life evidence that they are not regenerate by disavowing the Christian faith).

    According to the presumptive regeneration idea, we don’t presume regeneration because of baptism, rather we baptize because we already presume regeneration. The regeneration is the reality and the reason for applying the sign and seal of baptism subsequently.

  101. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:55 am

    It was only in terms of charity, period. I was not willing to flip the paradigm around to a Southern Presby model, assume they are unregenerate until they prove otherwise. That, of course, has implications in that I teach and preach to our kids as though they are covenant members and need to “improve upon their baptism.” But who will persevere or not is for God to reveal over time. To this day I don’t know why taht was such a big deal but it was lilkely ignorance of historic (even recent) reformed theology. I raise my own kids as children of the promise not outsiders.

  102. May 11, 2007 at 11:55 am

    “I have no problem with presuming that children are regenerate because of the covenant”

    ~ Is it really b/c of the covenant or of God’s promise to work in and through the means of a covenant? If so, then don’t the signs and seals placed within the covenant framework signify this reality? This is why we shouldn ot only baptized covenant children but commune them. Not one the basis of a profession, but on the promise of God.

  103. May 11, 2007 at 11:58 am

    ” we don’t presume regeneration because of baptism, rather we baptize because we already presume regeneration”

    This certainly does justice as a sign, but how is baptism a “seal” of “regeneration” , as in the WCF, if we merely view baptism is a ordinance, not a sacrament?

  104. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Tim, that’s not fully accurate. There are two popular presumption of regeneration positions: (1) Kuyper/Dutch: Baptism is given on the presumption of the child already being regenerate, (2) Baptism is given because of the covenantal promise extended through Christian families and thus, a child is presumed to be a Christian until he proves otherwise. I hold to the latter.

  105. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    Well, Garrett, as you have formulated your views in comment 101, I don’t have a problem with it. Tim’s point is well-taken, however. Is that your view, the basis for baptism?

    David, let’s leave paedo-communion out of this discussion. ;-) My short answer is that citizens can be born into a kingdom, but not have all the privileges of the kingdom. They grow into them.

  106. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Now, Garrett, would you say that a child needs eventually to profess his faith publicly? I am not assuming the need here for a violent conversion.

  107. Todd said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Lane, I’ve pointed out Lusk’s withdrawal here before:

    https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/03/29/ego-repentance-and-the-federal-vision/#comment-6423

  108. May 11, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Lane, I think there are some underlying presuppositions about the nature of the covenant which either allow or disallow men to commune children. Leaving paedo-commuion to the side though, shouldn’t baptism be considerws a “seal” of the covenant of grace, a menas of grace, whereby God confers the substance of the promise?

  109. barlow said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Lane, you wrote:

    “The FV teaches that all who are in the covenant (defined pretty much as the visible church) have all that is true of Christ.”

    Can you provide quotations for this? The things I’ve read say that there is a difference between the experience of the non-elect (prior to apostasy) and elect in the Covenant of Grace. Also, this is one issue, but the issue of the day seems to change through the course of this debate. At first it was about justification, then it was about final justification, then it was about the meritorious covenant of works, then it was about paedocommunion all of a sudden, then it was about imputation of active obedience, then it was about social trinitarianism, then it was about union with Christ. That’s what I mean about it going both ways with regards to this debate.

    As for Waters, I feel like he is surrounded by people who have allowed him to use his gifts strictly for a lot of responses to others rather than positve scholarship. He has had two large books published by P&R for which Ligon Duncan arranged all the peer review. I know this because I wrote to P&R and asked if they wanted for me to arrange contacts with the FV men to offer pre-publication suggestions. They told me to contact Duncan, that he was handling the peer review… I did not contact him, of course, because I realized instantly what the situation represented. Waters is a smart guy; I’m sure if I’d gone to RTS rather than Covenant, my personal loyalty to Dr. Duncan would influence me; he seems like a great guy and his sermons are excellent. My own brother was a member of 1st Presbyterian for a long time before he moved from MS and under Ligon’s preaching grew in Christ tremendously. We all think that our positions are mostly the result of our thinking through things rationally, but very often our positions are about whom we trust, and with whom we associate.

    And so it is the pretense of legitimate scholarly interaction that really gets my goat. Lane, you’re thinking through these things – reading it all – spending a lot of time writing and thinking through all this stuff. That’s great. But in the end, unfortunately, overtures probably pass or fail largely based upon who supports them and who the individual presbyter trusts.

    And Garrett is sort of an unreconstructed polemicist. We tried to make him nicer during his time here in St. Louis but failed miserably :) I think it is how nattily attired he always is – who wouldn’t want to take the kind of guff he dishes out while getting to look at such a sharp dresser.

  110. May 11, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    “Now, Garrett, would you say that a child needs eventually to profess his faith publicly? I am not assuming the need here for a violent conversion.”

    ~ I’d say they profess it everyday of their life they life faithfully before men and God. What good does it really do to emphasize one moment in the life of a person over and against the rest of it? This is very Baptistic (remember, you said a prayer 20 years ago) reasoning.

  111. May 11, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    everyday of their life they live…

  112. Anne Ivy said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    My apologies, Garrett, I fear my jokey comment fell flat.

    (Can’t decide whether it’s worse when it happens IRL or places like this!)

  113. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Lane, I can’t add much to what David just said. I am no longer in the PCA and so I believe my children profess/proclaim all the time in all different ways including partaking of the Lord’s Supper. The only “official” ecclesiastical public profession they will make is when they take vows to become voting members.

  114. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Barlow,

    You’re just coveting my top hat, cravat, cane, and spats.

  115. markhorne said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Re: #81. Yes he has Lane. And I think you’ve done an amazing job. (I didn’t want to tell you this, lest you worry you were doing something wrong.)

    But, then again, you’ve not hung the H-letter around Doug Wilson’s neck in those discussions either. That seems relevant to the claim that “anti-fvists” have not been able to represent their opponants fairly, etc. The sort of discussion you are having (well, IMO, minus a few barbs, but I’m probably overly sensitive) is actually hugely desirable. But it isn’t representative of what is going down.

  116. Tim Wilder said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Re: #104 Presumptive regeneation

    “Tim, that’s not fully accurate. There are two popular presumption of regeneration positions: (1) Kuyper/Dutch: Baptism is given on the presumption of the child already being regenerate, (2) Baptism is given because of the covenantal promise extended through Christian families and thus, a child is presumed to be a Christian until he proves otherwise. I hold to the latter”

    No. The presumptive reneration view is that

    1) For the sake of the covenant God usually (the normal case) renenerates the children of believers.

    2) Baptism is the sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace

    3) Even though we will turn out be wrong in some cases, we presume that the children of believers are regenerate, and so we apply baptism, as the sign and seal of the covenant of grace to them.

    The other Dutch view are

    a) Schilder’s that baptism is the sign and seal of the covenant in some other sense the applies even to the non-elect

    b) Hoeksema’s, that baptism is the sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace, that the normal manner of the extension of the covenant is through regenerate children of covenant members, and that we apply baptism as the seal of the covenant according to this norm as a practice commanded by God, but without making a presumption about the individual case.

    For a detailed treatment see:
    Believers and Their Seed: Children in the Covenant, by Herman Hoeksema
    http://www.amazon.com/Believers-Their-Seed-Children-Covenant/dp/0916206572/ref=sr_1_20/102-9508728-1385744?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1178904362&sr=1-20

  117. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks, Mark. To quote Fezzig, “Don’t worry, I won’t let it go to my head.”

  118. Glenn said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Maybe I missed it somewhere in the many comments above, but I thought that much of the pro-FV crowd rejected the idea of presumptive regeneration.

    I was under the impression that they were calling for a different paradigm than presuming or denying regeneration in anyone. Since regeneration is unknown to us, we need to look at things through the lens of the covenant. (Wilson)

    It just seems like the conversation above is saying that FVers hold strongly to Pres. Regen.. Am I missing something?

    Either way, it seems to me that moving away from any type of presumption regarding regeneration is a good thing. I can no longer see how presumptive regeneration is practical or beneficial in any way.

  119. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Tim See Schenck. Sorry, I don’t get into the old “you can’t believe that because so and so says so routine.” I really don’t feel like pulling down my baptism notes from Jerram Barrs, Michael Williams,and Jack Collins who all formulate it the way I have. After all, I learned it from them.

  120. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Glenn, we presume all the time. We have 3 options regarding regeneration: (1) Presume someone is (2) Presume someone is not or (3) I don’t know. You can’t do anything with 3. Presuming kids are regenerate until they prove otherwise gives us a base for a particular type of Covenant nuture. Presuming someone is not likewise gives a base.

  121. greenbaggins said,

    May 11, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Glenn, the current discussion is revolving around Garrett’s own views, which include, by his own words “presumptive regeneration.” And again, as he has formulated it, I don’t have any problem with it.

  122. Tim Wilder said,

    May 11, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Re: 118

    No you are not “missing something”.

    But certain half-baked ideas have been going around. For example in the R.C. Sproul, Jr. church, now CREC I believe, there was a controversy about this, and yet some of the comments on the Internet by participants suggest that the terms were being used without either side knowing what they meant.

    Similarly, to the extent that people are distant from Dutch Reformed circles they are more likely to not be current with, and to misunderstand the presumptive regeneration debate, which raged most strongly in the 1940s and 1950s.

    One would expect FV people to be against presumptive regeneration, but there can very easily be people who oppose it for other reasons than the reasons of the FV people.

    Kuyper thought that not only were children of believers born regenerate in the normal case, but that this regeneration could easily have a very delayed manifestation, in adult conversion, for example. This way of thinking strikes most American presbyterians as odd.

  123. Tim Wilder said,

    May 11, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Re: 120

    “Glenn, we presume all the time. We have 3 options regarding regeneration: (1) Presume someone is (2) Presume someone is not or (3) I don’t know. You can’t do anything with 3. Presuming kids are regenerate until they prove otherwise gives us a base for a particular type of Covenant nuture. Presuming someone is not likewise gives a base.”

    See Hoeksema’s book referenced above for considerable detail about 3) and what we can do with it.

  124. Glenn said,

    May 11, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Tim, thanks for the book reference.

  125. May 11, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    It doesn’t seem fit to baptize children if we couldn’t work under the assumption they’re regenerate. Though baptism does magically make what we think true, we practice paedo-bpatism because this is the normative way God has promised to build his church and propagate the kingdom.

    I would tremble at putting the sign of the covenant (with it’s attending blessing and curses) on those we really didn’t believe possesed the inward reality of what baptism proclaims.

  126. May 11, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Ugh! don’t you hate seeing a typo as your comment flies off onto the page?

    baptism doesN’T magically…

  127. Steven W said,

    May 11, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    The role of regeneration is one hotly disputed issue in Reformed theology. Compared to Southern Presbyterianism and Revivalism, FV seems like presumptive regeneration, but it isn’t. Presumptive regeneration is built on a modified hypercalvinism where the temporal application of redemption is marginilized in favor of “before the foundation of the world” thought. The child is either elect or reprobate end of story. However, since the covenant typically shows us where the elect are, but not always one for one, we will presume the child is elect. He may not be, but we’ll act like he is for the time being, and on top of this, we’ll tell him things about who he is and what his baptism means, but with the condition that it may or may not be actually true.

    This theory lead to a disasterous lack of assurance, however, because one’s baptism became a pseudo-baptism if it turned out he wasn’t actually elect. It was all a big guessing game.

    Schilder’s response was an objective covenant with conditions. The covenant member understood his election or reprobation through these lens. The covenant was the way in which God wanted the individual to view election. He took comfort in the revealed things.

    FV is very close to Schilder, but is postmillennial, which gives it a sociological and missional (dominionist) approach that the Schilderites might share, but have certainly not been known by. Sorry if I’m being too short and unfair with this description, I’m just trying to lay out the basics.

    Most presumptive regenerationists have toned their view down a bit and mixed it a little with Schilder’s view. Berkhof is a good example of this, though I find him utterly impossible to understand in the long run. He’s much more difficult to “pin down” than FV proponents.

    FV is just the logical step in the Biblical theology movement and the Union with Christ school. Ordo salutis questions are quickly falling by the wayside in these approaches, and thus Christ is made known by those visible signs that the Church has. That’s FV.

    Southern Presbys are revivalistic, but they are also scholastic. This is why you can’t just laugh them off. Sure their view of children is a million miles from Calvin’s but they are pretty up to speed on some of the other stuff. That’s why the Klineans get along with them, though in the long run these two groups will never stick it out together. They make one another nervous as the Southerners won’t swallow the secularism of Klineans, and the Klineans still like their sacraments which will scare the Southerners away.

    Basically no party will be “the Reformed tradition.” That’s just a silly concept to try to defend, since we aren’t Roman Catholics. We’ve dropped traditional stuff in the past, and we’ll likely do it again. Perhaps we’ll even go back and pick up stuff that we once dropped. If this bothers you then you need to just leave Protestantism. There is no consistent way to say that the 17th cent. is the one correct paradigm. We don’t live in that time period and a lot of guys lived before that period. There’s no golden age that you can preserve.

    You really will need to learn to live with a diverse group that can have ongoing theological discussion or you need to resign yourself to reprinting previously written material. If you wish to be a confessional positivist, then I suspect that you’ll find yourself passing over many Biblical passages in silence. Whatever the decision everyone should give this serious thought. Until there is an established view of history and the future in regards to questions of polity, it won’t do us much good to fight about who’s getting doctrine right.

  128. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Tim:

    “Kuyper thought that not only were children of believers born regenerate in the normal case, but that this regeneration could easily have a very delayed manifestation, in adult conversion, for example. This way of thinking strikes most American presbyterians as odd.”

    The liberation in the Dutch church actually bears little on this conversation at all. The terms may be similar but so what? Your comment above strikes me as problematic because you are also calling into question Calvin’s concept of seed faith. I may have my set of reformed beliefs but I also recognize I am part of a larger more nuanced tradition which keeps me (hopefully) from seeing everything as “odd.”

    BTW Hoeksema’s part of the Reformed tradition but not part of my theology-set. I want a happy growing church. ; )

  129. Tim Wilder said,

    May 11, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    “The terms may be similar but so what?”

    In other words, here is another case where FVs (particularly CREC ones) take known terminology, and start spinning it their own way.

  130. N Harper said,

    May 11, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    I know of certain FV elders who wrote a letter to their congregation stating that they knew very little about Auburn Avenue theology, while behind closed doors they were secretly trying to recruit a full blown die hard FV. They recruit an FV and then grill him on the WS, so that he can easily pass through presbytery. This is a group of very dishonest folks with very little integrity. I along with several others have very little sympathy for their cry of misrepresentation.

  131. Glenn said,

    May 11, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Harper, that doesn’t prove anything about the FV. You are using illicit manors to accuse every FV advocate because of some elders you know… STOP IT!

    The elders you speak of are not the people who have written and openly and legitimately defended their views and continued to be misrepresented. Unless of course you care to name some names for us… ;-)

    How about it? Gossip anyone??? A little sin anyone???

  132. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 11, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Neil, could you please tell us whether you’re a member of a local PCA church? If not PCA, then what? Thanks in advance.

  133. Garrett said,

    May 11, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Tim,

    Whatever. It really wouldn’t matter what I said you’d still find some way to put a negative spin on it. Thanks brother.

  134. Andy Gilman said,

    May 11, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    In #109 Jon Barlow wrote:

    “The things I’ve read say that there is a difference between the experience of the non-elect (prior to apostasy) and elect in the Covenant of Grace.”

    I would like to see some examples of this Jon.

  135. Craig Phelps said,

    May 11, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    A golden dome glinting the bright seaside sun shining future forward, lighting age upon age to come. The caterpillar cocoons, pupates, cracks crust, butterfly flies free, flimsy broken traditional shell left hanging on the old tree. Glory rising inexorably with the rising holy chorus, waves so profound make walls resound with dancing mighty melody, waters roll back as waters roll forward. Touch, taste, and see. Do you not smell, hear, experience, feel? For blessed are they that see and do in real reality. Shall we then rejoice that the spirits submit to us … ( I speak as a man)?

    Pitches well.
    God forbid.

    Our hope is in the resurrection of the just at the return again of our Lord and come sneers and jollynatured jabs and “come, come, the future awaits” His love is set upon us that in the depths of dire deeds and death and dragons, His Cross is our Light and our legal, perfect, full, and free substitutionary righteousness so that in that Day, the real day of glory, we by faith, without obedient nature, the gift of God, will stand as we have always stood in this valley of tears-in the perfectly obedient natured faithfulness of Another imputed to us and our account of works before God’s throne of justice. A Christ we have never handled bore a Cross we never shouldered for the mercy and justice of a God we have never seen, and these realities are more real than hope for a bright future full of thanksgiving turkeys fit for a vast univerese of sanctified pots piling up this side of heaven.

  136. Tim Wilder said,

    May 11, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Regarding covenant status and membership of the visible church, the Book of Church Order of the PCA says this:

    “2-1. The Visible Church before the law, under the law, and now under the
    Gospel, is one and the same and consists of all those who make profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, together with their children.”

    It does not mention baptism in its definition of membership in the visible church. 2-2 goes right on to speak of other denominations, so that the PCA regards the children of Baptists in Baptist churches as members of the visible church.

    Also “4-1. A particular church consists of a number of professing Christians,
    with their children, associated together for divine worship and godly living,
    agreeable to the Scriptures, and submitting to the lawful government of
    Christ’s kingdom.”

    “6-1. The children of believers are, through the covenant and by right of
    birth, non-communing members of the church. Hence they are entitled to
    Baptism, and to the pastoral oversight, instruction and government of the
    church, with a view to their embracing Christ and thus possessing personally
    all benefits of the covenant.”

    In the PCA the children are baptized because they are members of the church, and as members are “entitled to Baptism”.

  137. Clay Johnson said,

    May 11, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Longtime lurker, first time poster. Regarding #80, I found the earlier discussions with Xon to be quite helpful, though many of the nuances were lost on me because I have not read in this area. Thanks Xon and Lane for all of that effort. Regarding #127, this sentence is sublime in the way that it highlights the challenges and limitations of historic confessionalism: “If you wish to be a confessional positivist, then I suspect that you’ll find yourself passing over many Biblical passages in silence.” Please keep listening to and talking with one another!

  138. May 11, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    […] PCA pastor responds to Rev. Meyers 30 Reasons (Part 1 | Part […]

  139. N Harper said,

    May 11, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    Todd,
    Think about it. Why would I be writing comments on the PCA study report if I were not a member of a local PCA church?
    I do not reject infant baptism – I am in agreement with the WS. All the promises of the covenant are given to the infant, but they are not efficacious until that child personally embraces them by faith in Christ (as Tim pointed out in the BOC). It was Abraham’s faith in Christ that gave him right standing with God, not his circumcision which took place later (Gen. 15:6). I do reject baptismal regeneration in the sense that all baptized infants are born again at the time of their baptism. The WS 28-6 states: “The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered”; rather, that grace “belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.” Do you agree with these statements from the Westminster Standards?

    To Glenn:
    As I have shared before: It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals than to tell a lie that comforts and then kills. 1 Kings 22 relates the story of the 400 hired prophets of Ahab’s court who told him and Jehoshaphat a lie. There was only one voice of dissent and that was Micaiah who refused to be a part of this ungodly unity. Glenn, I refuse to be a part of this ungodly unity in the PCA because it is hurting the Gospel and the Church. Call me a gossip, a slanderer, whatever… by God’s grace, I will not compromise the truth.

  140. May 11, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    HAHA, half the people here commenting aren’t in the PCA –> I don’t know why, but….

  141. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 12, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Neil, Andrew’s right. Lots of the people on this thread aren’t PCA members. And you haven’t quite answered directly, Neil. Are you or aren’t you? And, of which local PCA church are you a member?

    I asked about infant baptism because of a comment you made a few days ago: “Infant baptism, I believe, has brought a lot of confusion and false teaching into the church because it reverses the order of repentance and baptism.” Thanks for the clarification.

    I wholeheartedly affirm all the WS’s teaching on baptism.

    About gossip: please tell us which church you’re talking about in 130.

  142. greenbaggins said,

    May 12, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Welcome to my blog, Clay.

  143. N Harper said,

    May 12, 2007 at 9:26 am

    “And, you haven’t quite answered directly, Neil.” That’s the understatement of the year!

    I would like to challenge the FV folks to give us a “direct” answer YES or NO to the declarations stated in the FV report:
    1. Do you agree that the view expressed in Declaration #1 is contrary to the Westminster Standards? Yes or No?
    2. Do you agree that the view expressed in Declaration #2 is contrary to the Westminster Standards? Yes or No?
    3. Do you agree that the view expressed in Declaration #3 is contrary to the Westminster Standards? Yes or No?
    4. Do you agree that the view expressed in Declaration #4 is contrary to the Westminster Standards? Yes or No?
    5. Do you agree that the view expressed in Declaration #5 is contrary to the Westminster Standards? Yes or No?
    6. Do you agree that the view expressed in Declaration #6 is contrary to the Westminster Standards? Yes or No?
    7. Do you agree that the view expressed in Declaration #7 is contrary to the Westminster Standards? Yes or No?
    8. Do you agree that the view expressed in Declaration #8 is contrary to the Westminster Standards? Yes or No?
    9. Do you agree that the view expressed in Declaration #9 is contrary to the Westminster Standards? Yes or No?

    I am not asking whether these views are the views of the Federal Vision/NPP; I am simply asking if one were to hold each of these views, would you agree that they are contrary to the WS?

    To set an example for you, Todd, YES, I am a member of a local PCA church and NO, I will not mercilessly drag the name of my church into this discussion. But, THANK YOU for answering my question directly. We are off to a good start – let’s see if we can keep it up!

  144. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 12, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Neil, which church were you talking about up in 130? And how do you know what was said or planned “secretly” and “behind closed doors”?

  145. greenbaggins said,

    May 12, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Todd, he does not want to talk about his church on the internet, and this is wise. I have been burned by this kind of thing already. I would advise not to press it.

  146. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 12, 2007 at 10:32 am

    I’m uncomfortable hearing about closed-door meetings and accusations of dishonesty when there’s no way to know whether Neil’s just making it all up for fun.

  147. greenbaggins said,

    May 12, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Well, since Neil is not condemning any one particular church, then no particular church needs to be innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, Neil should be innocent until proven guilty. Of course, there is no way to prove that. But any investigation into the matter would result in serious problems.

  148. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 12, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Neil is certainly condemning one particular church. He simply hasn’t named it.

  149. greenbaggins said,

    May 12, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Todd, do you really think that someone who has as many problems with the FV as Neil does has no basis for it?

    Condemnation involves in its very essence the naming of the party condemned. Therefore, he is not condemning a particular church on this blog.

  150. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 12, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    “Condemnation involves in its very essence the naming of the party condemned.”

    Lane, you’re making up definitions as you go along. Neil is condemning particular, unnamed elders.

    Neil wrote: “I know of certain FV elders who wrote a letter to their congregation stating that they knew very little about Auburn Avenue theology, while behind closed doors they were secretly trying to recruit a full blown die hard FV.”

    Neil, are you speaking about the church of which you are a member? Either way, what have you done in response to this, beside telling the story here? Have you confronted these elders about their sin?

    “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”

  151. greenbaggins said,

    May 12, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    That’s in the context of church discipline. We are not in that context, Todd. So do not accuse Neil of falsifying evidence without two or three witnesses. Name me a single instance of condemnation without the particular party being named.

  152. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 12, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    I’m not accusing, of course. I am eager to find some more witnesses; can Neil name any? And Neil’s not an elder. And this isn’t church discipline.

    A counter challenge, Lane: Quote a definition of the word “condemnation” that mentions “naming the party condemned” as part of its “very essence.”

  153. greenbaggins said,

    May 12, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    No, Todd. You do the work, for once. All you do on my blog is try to find holes in whatever I say by launching these one-liners at me, as if you think they completely destroy what I say. I am sick and tired of it, Todd. You do the work this time.

  154. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 12, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Poor Lane.

  155. Andy Gilman said,

    May 12, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Todd demonstrates nicely why having all sides represented in every deliberation on every committee is not necessarily useful. Can you imagine how the work of the committee would have proceeded if Todd had been there spewing out this kind of sophistry at every step of the deliberations? Is it any wonder that these debates so often end with harsh words and exasperation?

    Gives us another quip or one liner Todd. Show us how childish a headmaster at a classical Christian school can be.

  156. N Harper said,

    May 12, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Still no direct answers to 143. The score is 0%. All I have gotten so far is interrogation. What does this score reveal?

    Todd, I only report things that are related to the topic and that I and/or my family have actually witnessed in writing from direct sources. If that is not enough to satisfy you, too bad. I will not turn this blogspot of Lane’s into a mock court trial or drag my family or church into it. Thanks for your support, Lane.

  157. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 12, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Neil, did you confront these sinning elders? Did you exhort them to repent?

  158. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 12, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Neil, you were asking for reponses to your questions in 143 from “FV folks,” right?

  159. N Harper said,

    May 12, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    That’s right and that’s probably why the score is 0%. And, that reveals another point; I have yet to meet an FV advocate who is willing to identify himself. In a way, it is like the response to Jesus’ statement: Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone. They all walked away.

  160. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 12, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    All the FVers seem to be away for the weekend, man.

    Neil, did you confront these sinning elders? Did you exhort them to repent?

  161. May 12, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    I’m not much of a blogger or a commentor on blogs, but I have to ask, what do the last dozen or so posts above have to do with Meyer’s 30 Reasons?

  162. barlow said,

    May 12, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Andy – a good place to start is that the distinction between the experience of the elect and non-elect in the covenant of grace is made both in Wilkins’s and in Wilson’s Q&A before their respective presbyteries. Lusk makes the distinction; in fact, he leaves it a bit of a mystery. I don’t have time to dig up these citations for you, I’m just a dude who has read a lot of the FV stuff and think it makes good sense. But a place you can start is here:

    http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/covenant_election_faqs.htm

    Lusk answers the question specifically: “Are you saying there is NO difference at all between the covenant member who will persevere to the end and the covenant member who will apostatize?”

    Of course, this is yet another issue that gets misrepresented and Jeff points out in his 30 reasons.

  163. Andy Gilman said,

    May 12, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Jon,

    I was hoping you had something I hadn’t yet seen. These are not good examples. The fact is that the only defineable, qualatative distinction the FV makes between true professors and hypocrites is with regard to perseverence. There is no difference between them as they exist in the present. The true professors are those of God’s people whom he has given “all the blessings of Christ” PLUS PERSEVERENCE, and therefore whom he has ordained to persevere; and the hypocrites are the remainder of God’s people whom he has merely given “all the blessings of Christ,” and whom he has therefore ordained to apostasize.

    In his answers to his Presbytery, Wilkins hangs his hopes for an answer to this question, about the difference between true professors and hypocrites, on some obscure “teleological ontology” distinction between the true professors and the hypocrites. This is a “distinction” apparently formulated by Peter Leithart. I’m not sure when Leithart came up with it, but I wonder if it was crafted by Leithart and given to Wilkins specifically so he could say he does, in fact, make a distinction. But it’s just smoke and mirrors. For the FV, the difference between true professors and hypocrites is not only imperceptible to the human eye, it is undefineable apart from notion of “ordained perseverance.” It is mystery.

    From the Lusk article you cited:

    [BOQ]
    No. God certainly knows (and decreed) the difference, and systematic theologians should make this difference a part of their theology. But from our creaturely, covenantal point of view (which we should not apologize for!), there is no perceptible difference (e.g., Saul and David look alike in the early phases of their careers; Judas looked like the other disciples for a time). No appeal to the decree can be allowed to soften or undercut this covenantal perspective on our salvation. It is only as history is lived, as God’s plan unfolds, that we come to know who will persevere and who won’t. In the meantime, we are to do what was described in the handout above and demonstrated throughout Paul’s epistles – treat all covenant members as elect, but also warn them of the dangers of apostasy.

    The language of the Bible forces us to acknowledge a great deal of mystery here. For example, the same terminology that describes the Spirit coming (literally, “rushing”) upon Saul in 1 Sam. 10:6 is used when the Spirit comes upon David (1 Sam. 16:13), Gideon (Jdg. 6:34), Jephthah (Jdg. 11:29), and Samson (Jdg. 14:6, 9; 15:14). But in four of these five cases (David, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson), the man in question was clearly regenerated and saved by the Spirit’s work (cf. Heb. 11:32). This means that at the outset of Saul’s career, the biblical narrative itself draws no distinction between his initial experience of the Spirit and the experience of those who would enter into final salvation. Saul’s apostasy was not due to any lack in God’s grace given to him, but was his own fault. While God no doubt predestined Saul’s apostasy (since he foreordains all that comes to pass), God was not the Author of Saul’s apostasy (cf. WCF 3.1). Saul received the same initial covenantal grace that David, Gideon, and other saved men received, though God withheld from him continuance in that grace. At the same time, his failure to persevere was due to his own rebellion. Herein lies the great mystery of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility (cf. WCF 3.1, 8).
    [EOQ]

  164. Xon said,

    May 12, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    In his answers to his Presbytery, Wilkins hangs his hopes for an answer to this question, about the difference between true professors and hypocrites, on some obscure “teleological ontology” distinction between the true professors and the hypocrites. This is a “distinction” apparently formulated by Peter Leithart. I’m not sure when Leithart came up with it, but I wonder if it was crafted by Leithart and given to Wilkins specifically so he could say he does, in fact, make a distinction. But it’s just smoke and mirrors. For the FV, the difference between true professors and hypocrites is not only imperceptible to the human eye, it is undefineable apart from notion of “ordained perseverance.” It is mystery.

    Andy, in an earlier thread I introduced you to this teleogical ontology and you promised to think it over. Now you appear to be coming out guns blazing against it that it is just “smoke and mirrors.” So I’d like to hear why you think that this is so.

    As for your conspiratorial speculation, you asked me this too in that earlier thread (a few weeks ago, granted) and I told you then that Leithart did not make this up himself. This idea of a “relational ontology” (that the relations a thing bears to other things is part of the essence of a thing itself, contrary to the old Aristotelian “substantive ontology” that has generally dominated western thought, which holds that relational properties are always non-essential to a thing. The “substance” of a thing remains and is defined independently of any relations the thing happens to have to other things), and by a slight extension of a “teleological ontology” (that the final end of a thing in terms of its relationship to God is part of the essence of the thing itself), is just one of those ideas that is “out there” in contemporary theological discussion. And by “contemporary theology,” I don’t mean “liberals,” though some liberals go this direction as do some traditionalists. Leithart did not “create” this distinction himself and then pass it on to Wilkins just to give Wilkins some kind of smokescreen to throw up before his presbytery. That’s an outlandish assertion, frankly.

  165. Tim Wilder said,

    May 12, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Re: 164

    I can attest that relational theology was not invented by Leithart. For example, in Searching For an Adequate God: A Dialogue Between Process And Free Will Theists, several essays get into it. Not only process theologians, but some Open Theism people hold it.

    And they are not all liberals. For example, Nancy Howell explains:

    “Perhaps the most crucial comment of all is Pinnock’s point that ‘liberalism’ and ‘evangelicalism’ are diverse. Neither is fixed in history or finalized in theological position. As a theologian influenced by process, feminist and womanist, and liberationist theologies, I am reluctant to cast my lot fully with either liberalism or evangelicalism and yet find it impossible to deny the faith commitements that I share with each.” (p. 61)

    So, she says herself right there that she is not a liberal! She agrees with Pinnock and with the point now made by Meyers that one should not be fixed in history or finalized in theological position, as by a 17th century confession, for example.

  166. Xon said,

    May 13, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Right, and you don’t have to be an open theist to believe that either, Tim. And, anyway, I’m not sure what denying that we should ever be “fixed in history or finalized in theological position” has to do with the “relational ontology” of Leithart. ??

    But speaking of your apparent disdain for Meyers’ position regarding theological change over time, is it your claim that the delegates to the Westminster Assembly believed they were crafting a document which was to be the final and complete written standard of Christian truth? Would the 17th century writers of the confession themselves have approved of it being taken as a standard used to “fix us in history” or to “finalize our theological position”?

    What are you guys doing here? Oh, us? We’re just busy writing up the creed to end all creeds, the once-for-all standard expression of orthodox Christian belief, the perfectly sufficient summary of Biblical truth. If we do our job right, there will never be any need for any Bible-believing Christians to write up a creed summarizing their beliefs. All important teachings of the Bible are being summarized by what we’re working on right now. Is that how it would have gone?

  167. Kevin said,

    May 13, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Xon, I seem to recall that the WS was revised in 1789. That means that the WS was hardly “fixed in history” in 1649.

    If you want to change the WS, the BCO provides the process for doing so. The problem is that the FVers say with one breath that they subscribe to the WS and in the next they are telling us how woefully inadequate they are. The former is baloney considering the latter. I just wish more FV men were as honest about how they really feel about the WS as Xon. By the way, can you give us a list of all those “important teachings of the Bible” that were left out of the WS?

  168. Susanna said,

    May 14, 2007 at 5:24 am

    Xon,
    I have probably picked up your train of thought somewhere in the middle, since it has been awhile, but I am trying to understand what you mean by this relational oncology. What relationship(s) are necessary for a person to be a Christian in true substance or to use Wilkins’ term “elect believer”?
    I have heard some of the preaching of the Federal Vision and one thing that stands out is this idea that there is no salvation apart from the visible church; in other words, a person cannot be a Christian apart from a relationship with the visible church because the visible church is the body of Christ. The teaching goes on to say that even so-called “non-elect believers” share in the same kind of relationship in the visible church as the “elect believers” with the exception of perseverance. Where is the Scriptural backup for that teaching? And, how does it square with Jesus’ teaching in John 15 where He says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing”? Is Jesus, the Head and the Bridegroom, equal to His body and His bride? Is He saying that the church is the vine and apart from the church, we can do nothing?

  169. Susanna said,

    May 14, 2007 at 6:05 am

    Another question I have is – if the church is made up of “elect believers” and “non-elect believers”, and if your salvation depends on your relationship in the visible church, how do these two groups of people relate to each other spiritually? Do both walk in the light? How is that possible? Jesus said that we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. Do both groups know the truth? Are both groups free? Are elect believers and non-elect believers brothers in Christ? How is that possible?

    Were Issac and Ishmael spiritual brothers as well as flesh-and-blood brothers? Or, were they elect and non-elect believers? The Bible says that Ishmael tormented his brother to the point where Abraham had to send him away. What about Jacob and Esau -twin brothers – are they an example of an elect believer and a non-elect believer? They didn’t get along with each other even in the womb!

    If an elect believer lives in the light and a non-elect believer lives in darkness, how does light have fellowship with darkness in the visible church? Or, is there such a thing as “gray”? I believe that the Bible calls that “lukewarm”?

    And, another question: how does a pastor preach salvation to a non-elect believer? He knows that there are some out there who lack the perseverance to make it all the way. Does he have any special message to the non-perseverers? How can a pastor rest in his mind thinking that there are those who possess all that is necessary for salvation except for perseverance?

    The God of mercy and grace is not the God who would hold back on part of His wonderful gift of salvation. For, Paul says in Ephesians 1:3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ.

  170. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 14, 2007 at 6:48 am

    Ontology, not oncology.

  171. Susanna said,

    May 14, 2007 at 9:19 am

    Oops! Now that is a real Freudian slip of the tongue, isn’t it?! Thanks, Todd!

    I have some more questions:
    Jesus tells us to beware of ravenous wolves who wear sheep’s clothing but seek to devour the sheep. These wolves are members of the visible church.
    Are these wolves non-elect believers? Are we to relate to wolves as sheep or as wolves? Do we relate to them based on their clothing or their TRUE nature as wolves? Jesus said to be on our guard, so that must mean that we would have the ability to recognize them and relate to them much differently than the tares.

    And another: How are we to know personally if we are an elect or non-elect believer? The FV teaches that we are to look to our baptism. But both have been baptized. How do we know if we have enough faith to persevere to the end? Do we wait for the minister to declare it to us each Sunday? What happens if I miss a Sunday? And, again, the minister declares forgiveness to both groups every Sunday. I wouldn’t want to believe all the way to my deathbed and then find out when it is too late that I didn’t make it! God’s Word says that I will have even more wrath poured out on me because I heard the Word Sunday after Sunday but rejected it by not persevering enough.

  172. Travis m Finley said,

    May 15, 2007 at 9:04 am

    I am currently censored in my church for preaching that baptism is God’s preaching to us his love and faithfulness nailing that preaching down to our baptism. Susanna, faith beholds; faith believes; faith grasps; faith loves; faith believes in the visible promises God makes to his child. One’s baptism not only holds out promises of blessing (for both E and N-E) but also destruction. The same waters that preserve the righteous will wash away the infidel. Faith is always the key. Let us not dissect the subtle nuances of am I in now; am I out now? Let us walk in the light of God’s promises to us in Jesus. Sometimes I wander; sometimes you rebel. Let us always do one thing: come back.

  173. Tim Wilder said,

    May 15, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Re: 172
    “The same waters that preserve the righteous will wash away the infidel.”

    Yes, I have heard this preached. With baptism God is threatening the child with Noah’s flood and with drounding in the Red Sea, if the child does not keep up his covenant faithfulness. Yet he is supposed to look to this same baptism for assurance of salvation!

  174. greenbaggins said,

    May 15, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Good one, Tim!

  175. Travis m Finley said,

    May 15, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    The sacraments are truly two-sided coins. Please do not engage in banter with me, brothers. I am not looking to castigate you and would expect the same. Circumcision was first a threat of death. Abraham more than likely did not associate this rite with that of the heart: “Hmmm. I must circumcise my heart…hmmmm…yeah.” No. It was a maledictory threat of death for apostasy. The sign implies life: as the skin cut away dies from the source of life, so too, you will die apart from me; therefore, choose life.” The Eucharist is maledictory as well. Baptism in its type and antitype holds out both benediction and malediction.
    As to # 172, it was meant as a lament and not a spring board. My heart is truly broken that reformed believers cannot hear the power of the sacraments. As JC may be read to say, “Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into X we may be accounted children of God (II.XV.1).” In calling believers to believe God’s love for them can be heard and seen via their baptismal adoption, my sermon was removed from public viewing. I would love to dialogue with ya’ll but not at the point of hostility (which is what both of your repsonses were).

  176. Tim Wilder said,

    May 15, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Re: 175

    “My heart is truly broken that reformed believers cannot hear the power of the sacraments.”

    Doesn’t mean that you were teaching the truth. How do we know that you are not teaching faith in man and his performance of rituals?

    That is what the Federal Vision controversy is about, at bottom. Is the work of the Spirit like the wind that we can’t see or control? Or can the clergy build wind tunnels, and take control of the Spirit, though rituals, institutions, and offices?

    Where do you teach people to direct their faith?

  177. May 15, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    People are to direct their faith to Christ and Christ alone!

    But why would you separate Christ from His sacraments?

    What is the sense of sacraments as signs and seals if they do not sign and seal Christ in His saving efficacy?

    As long as we hold to WCF 19-5 I don’t know why we can’t have high views of the Sacraments.

  178. Andy Gilman said,

    May 16, 2007 at 6:35 am

    Test.

  179. Andy Gilman said,

    May 16, 2007 at 6:38 am

    Fourth attempt to post…

    The past few days have been quite busy, so this reply is late. In #164 Xon said:

    [BOQ]
    Andy, in an earlier thread I introduced you to this teleogical ontology and you promised to think it over. Now you appear to be coming out guns blazing against it that it is just “smoke and mirrors.” So I’d like to hear why you think that this is so.

    As for your conspiratorial speculation, you asked me this too in that earlier thread (a few weeks ago, granted) and I told you then that Leithart did not make this up himself. This idea of a “relational ontology” (that the relations a thing bears to other things is part of the essence of a thing itself, contrary to the old Aristotelian “substantive ontology” that has generally dominated western thought, which holds that relational properties are always non-essential to a thing. The “substance” of a thing remains and is defined independently of any relations the thing happens to have to other things), and by a slight extension of a “teleological ontology” (that the final end of a thing in terms of its relationship to God is part of the essence of the thing itself), is just one of those ideas that is “out there” in contemporary theological discussion. And by “contemporary theology,” I don’t mean “liberals,” though some liberals go this direction as do some traditionalists. Leithart did not “create” this distinction himself and then pass it on to Wilkins just to give Wilkins some kind of smokescreen to throw up before his presbytery. That’s an outlandish assertion, frankly.
    [EOQ]

    Your history is not as good as your philosophy Xon, and since you are accusing me of breaking a promise, I guess I need to review the history with you. You introduced me to the phrase “teleological ontology” in response to my criticism of the Leithart argument used by Wilkins in his exam.

  180. Andy Gilman said,

    May 16, 2007 at 6:49 am

    I can’t seem to get the rest of the message posted.

  181. Tim Wilder said,

    May 16, 2007 at 7:11 am

    Re: 177

    “What is the sense of sacraments as signs and seals if they do not sign and seal Christ in His saving efficacy?”

    Suppose they become the signs and seals of the efficacy of Covenant Renewal priestcraft?

    As an example of how a sacrament can turn into its opposite, consider the Roman Catholic mass. It takes the vegetarian meal that Christ commanded (because no further sacrifice is needed) and turns it into a repetition of the sacrifice, claiming it is real meat and blood, adding to what Christ did by the power of the RC priests.

  182. May 16, 2007 at 7:50 am

    #181

    There is a place to land on the Sacraments that is neither empty symbolism nor sacerdotalism.

    I didn’t assume that #175 was teaching sacerdotalism.

  183. Tim Wilder said,

    May 16, 2007 at 7:55 am

    Re: 182

    “I didn’t assume that #175 was teaching sacerdotalism.”

    The Federal Vision is, which is why #175 is so suspect.

  184. Travis m Finley said,

    May 16, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    I preached Christ in the sacraments for the comfort of God’s people. I preached the assurance of one’s salvation found in the proper use of the means of grace (baptism). I preached the power of the sacraments not in our faith in them but in the promise of God found in them. I could give you an excerpt if you like.

  185. Todd said,

    May 16, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Travis, I’d love to see or hear some of your preaching. I’m not sure this is the best place to “make it public,” though.

  186. Travis m Finley said,

    May 17, 2007 at 4:44 am

    Sure, sure. Gimme your email: sevenfinleys@netzero.com

  187. Travis m Finley said,

    May 17, 2007 at 5:00 am

    #183

    I don’t read the FV that way. I have read and re read. Are you sure you mean sacerdotalism? and not ex opere operato? In which case, I would say no. Faith defeats that error. It is faith and the Spirit’s work alone which give the elements their power. Would you mind elaborating on what you meant?

  188. Travis m Finley said,

    May 17, 2007 at 5:05 am

    #176
    You describe here sacerdotalism (see #183). I did not preach nor do I preach without the hope that the Spirit will come. But do we not have faith in the fact that the Spirit will bind himself to his own word and sacrament? Do we not perform the act because we believe he has bound himself to that act? I eat b/c he says to and b/c he promises me X in the eating. I baptise b/c he tells me to and promises X in the “immersing.”

  189. Travis m Finley said,

    May 17, 2007 at 5:12 am

    How do I change my Post a Comment name?

  190. Travis m Finley said,

    May 17, 2007 at 5:13 am

    or the name you see when its posted?

  191. pduggie said,

    May 17, 2007 at 6:47 am

    “Suppose they become the signs and seals of the efficacy of Covenant Renewal priestcraft?”

    You keep saying this, but it doesn’t make it true. Its boring at this point

  192. Andy Gilman said,

    May 18, 2007 at 10:37 am

    I was unable to post my entire reply when I last tried. This is what I tried to post in response to Xon comments in #164:

    [BOQ]
    Andy, in an earlier thread I introduced you to this teleogical ontology and you promised to think it over. Now you appear to be coming out guns blazing against it that it is just “smoke and mirrors.” So I’d like to hear why you think that this is so.

    As for your conspiratorial speculation, you asked me this too in that earlier thread (a few weeks ago, granted) and I told you then that Leithart did not make this up himself. This idea of a “relational ontology” (that the relations a thing bears to other things is part of the essence of a thing itself, contrary to the old Aristotelian “substantive ontology” that has generally dominated western thought, which holds that relational properties are always non-essential to a thing. The “substance” of a thing remains and is defined independently of any relations the thing happens to have to other things), and by a slight extension of a “teleological ontology” (that the final end of a thing in terms of its relationship to God is part of the essence of the thing itself), is just one of those ideas that is “out there” in contemporary theological discussion. And by “contemporary theology,” I don’t mean “liberals,” though some liberals go this direction as do some traditionalists. Leithart did not “create” this distinction himself and then pass it on to Wilkins just to give Wilkins some kind of smokescreen to throw up before his presbytery. That’s an outlandish assertion, frankly.
    [EOQ]

    Your history is not as good as your philosophy Xon, and since you are accusing me of breaking a promise, I guess I need to review the history with you. You introduced me to the phrase “teleological ontology” in response to my criticism of the Leithart argument used by Wilkins in his exam.

    The posts in question were a month ago, and I said I needed to give Leithart’s argument more thought (how that becomes a “promise” in your mind, I’m not sure), but my initial assessment was that it was a smokescreen. I have given it more thought, and it still looks like a smokescreen to me. It is unpersuasive. In that thread

    you said:

    [BOQ]
    By the way, just fyi, I basically got the idea of “teleological ontology” from reading Leithart. Leithart is one of the first who turned me on to the idea. So, it would be odd if that’s not what he himself meant, given that he’s inspired folks (I’m not alone) to go in this “teleological” direction based on what he’s written.
    [EOQ]

    and:

    [BOQ]
    I believe that this Leithartian “teleo-ontological” difference is consistent with what the Reformed confessions are getting at.
    [EOQ]

    I asked you if you knew when Leithart first began advancing this argument, since Wilkins just used the argument which he attributed to Leithart but didn’t give a citation for it, and you answered:

    [BOQ]
    I don’t know when Leithart first advanced the teleological ontology view of things, but he’s not the only one advancing it. It’s just sort of “out there” in contemporary theological and philosophical studies. (I think it’s locatable in Jonathan Edwards, for instance). My best guess is that it might come up in his article in the book againt Open Theism, which was published in 2001. But I’ll have to look that up (much) later.
    [EOQ]

    So, throughout the exchange, you were attributing the argument to Leithart until this last paragraph. To say that the argument is just “out there,” and to suggest that it is “locatable” in Edwards, doesn’t fill me with confidence that you really know what you are talking about, and therefore I didn’t put much stock in your vague description. It might be “out there,” but I think most people who aren’t “out there” with it, will see it as a fairly obscure argument.

    It continues to look to me like Leithart provided an argument (whether it was ready at hand or newly minted doesn’t really matter for my point) for Wilkins to use when he was being forced to answer questions about how he distinquishes the true professors from the hypocrites. I still don’t know when Leithart first advanced, or latched on to the argument, and whether or not Wilkins had ever heard of it prior to coming under fire. If you can show me that Wilkins was familiar with this “teleological ontology” argument, and that it played some role in his formulations regarding true professors and hypocrites, prior to the SJC’s pressure being put on Wilkins, then I will acknowledge that my speculation, where I said: “I wonder if it was crafted by Leithart and given to Wilkins specifically so he could say he does, in fact, make a distinction?,” was unwarranted, and even “conspiratorial.”

    Also in that thread, you said:

    [BOQ]
    All I meant by the phrase that you haven’t “gotten” what Letihart is saying is that you quoted him explaining pretty clearly a way in which NECMs and ECMs are different right now in the present, and used it against him as evidenced that he believes no such thing. That seemed like a “disconnect” to me. In these debate-type exchanges that we are having, we are pointing out what we think are flaws in one another’s arguments. That’s not always easy to do in a way that doesn’t raise hackles. But I’ll keep trying to do better on that score, I promise.
    [EOQ]

    So you promised to try to do better in not raising hackles in this debate, and now here you are raising hackles by mischaracterizing our exchange in the previous thread, and breaking your promise, a promise I’ve taken the time to document. Did you decide you couldn’t be bothered to look up what was actually said, and thereby make an accurate representation of our discussion?

  193. May 23, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    […] Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11 […]


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