The Triumph of the Gospel

The report passed today by an overwhelming majority. Someone made a motion to postpone, so as to include exegetical discussion in the report, as well as add two members sympathetic to the FV. The motion was defeated by about a two to one majority. The recommendations themselves passed by approximately 95%. Indeed, that is probably a conservative estimate. It was a resounding triumph for the study committee report.

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227 Comments

  1. June 13, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    Is this report binding?

  2. Susan said,

    June 13, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    Yay! I actually got to watch it all online :-). The Windows Media Player on my computer has pretty much been uncooperative any other time I’ve pulled up the GA in the last day+, but it worked from 3:00-5:00 EST :-). I was actually anticipating a more rousing debate on the issues, not just a debate on postponement, but I’m glad it didn’t turn into an all-out brawl or anything. Many prayers answered today :-).

  3. Ben G. said,

    June 13, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    *sigh*

    And just when I thought I could get comfy in this denomination, too…

  4. William Hill said,

    June 13, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    No, the report is not binding…

    A denomination was weakened today by the TR’s and any argument to the contrary is simply a waste off bandwidth.

  5. jared said,

    June 13, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    GreenBaggins,

    Joe Novenson was the pastor who made a motion to postpone the vote (though I’m sure you know that); he’s a very well known and well respected pastor in my area (Chattanooga, TN and Lookout Mountain, GA). This study report would benefit emensely from taking Novenson’s advice in adding two more committee members and requiring exegesis. I don’t doubt that Novenson agrees with the spirit (and maybe even the gist) of the report but the report itself was not all that it should have been for the ramifications it will have throughout the denomination. A resounding triumph for the study report yes, but a huge failure on the part of the PCA in her “effort” to preserve the purity and unity of the church.

  6. Patrick Poole said,

    June 14, 2007 at 12:20 am

    I must confess a degree of personal satisfaction in this overwhelming decision by the fathers and brothers of the PCA. When I first posted the Paul Perspective website in December 2005, the Federal Vision was on very few radars. That project was born out of a last minute request for information from a former pastor of mine in Birmingham who sat on the presbytery’s Candidates and Credentials committee that was considering Rich Lusk’s transfer. He knew close to nothing about Federal Vision theology, but got up to speed quickly after I sent him Lusk’s contributions to the Knox Colloquium and several other of his essays.

    Predictably, the Federal Vision crowd will whine and moan about this decision. Rather than receiving instruction and admonition from their fathers and brothers, many of them will jump ship (and thereby Presbyterianism itself) for the CREC (aka “The Fellowship of the Grievance”), where they will fit right in with the other malcontents and denominational fugitives. There they can say along with Hamlet, “I could bound myself in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space…”

  7. gospelordeath said,

    June 14, 2007 at 1:23 am

    The mandate for the study committee was as follows:

    The 34th PCA General Assembly appointed an ad interim committee, to study the soteriology of the Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn Avenue Theologies which are causing confusion among our churches. Further, to determine whether these viewpoints and formulations are in conformity with the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards, whether they are hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion, and to present a declaration or statement regarding the issues raised by these viewpoints in light of our Confessional Standards (M34GA, 34-57, III, pp. 229-30).

    The study committee was not asked to interpret Scripture – though I agree that probably would have been helpful. However, the PCA already has adopted a statement on how they think Scripture should be interpreted, and it’s called the Westminster Confession of Faith. This report simply fulfills its mandate, to show how the FV/NPP (which are not beautiful, unique snowflakes, but rightly conflated with each other as different gospels than the true gospel) is teaching stuff contrary to what the PCA has been teaching from its inception.

    No one is condemned by this report. Ideas only are interacted with. Now presbyters have some way to guide them in bringing charges and trying cases, but no one can be brought up on charges according to this report. It’s a study committee report, meant to educate the churches and clear up confusion. Now the church as a whole can study the report, so that they are wise and not taken in by these wolves in sheep’s clothing, who claim to agree with the Westminster Confession. But now two denominations (the OPC and the PCA) who hold to the WCF, have both resoundingly spoken with one voice, saying, “No, you DON’T believe our confession, and you aren’t teaching our confession. You don’t believe like we do.” Effectively removing the disguise from the wolf, so that he no longer looks like a sheep, but is shown to be a wolf.

    Now everyone can recognize the wolves among us. Beware wolves, your days are numbered. For a while you may continue to eat the fat and clothe yourselves in the wool, but soon you will have to give an account. Oh Lord hasten the day.

    I praise God for proving himself faithful to the PCA, even as he has done for the OPC.

    Mike G.
    Westminster Seminary California
    Proud rejecter of different gospels

  8. Christopher Witmer said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:49 am

    A denomination was weakened today by the TRs

    Yes, it was. But was the kingdom of God weakened as a result?

    The church has witnessed bigger reversals before. (Arius/Anastasius, etc.) This is just one skirmish, and the battle for the PCA, let alone for the gospel, is far from finished.

    Don’t put away your weapons of Christian warfare just yet!

    Right about now the TRs are probably tempted to vigorously wave their “PCA, love it or leave it” signs. The proper response to that would be, “Well, I love it so why don’t you leave it? (John Robbins could use someone to keep him company outside the camp.) Or take me to court and throw me out, if you can prove that I’m a heretic. But you’ll have to let me cross-examine you and you had better be ready to accept the penalty when you are shown to have borne false witness in a church court.”

  9. Christopher Witmer said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:50 am

    Oops, make that Athanasius, not Anasatasius.

  10. Christopher Witmer said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:54 am

    I’d like to suggest an alternative title for this post:
    How about Triumph des Willens?

  11. June 14, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Jared
    Your concluding remark has historical precedence. The Remonstrant leader Episcopius maded a remarkably similar complaint about disrupting the peace and unity of the churches after the Synod of Doort declared the Arminians to be outside the confessional boundaries of the Reformed faith.

  12. Tim Wilder said,

    June 14, 2007 at 7:25 am

    Re: 5

    “This study report would benefit emensely from taking Novenson’s advice in adding two more committee members and requiring exegesis.”

    The only reason the FV wants exegesis is to give them something besides doctrine to reject and nitpick. They would always find some commentator who interprets each text another way, then then they would scream “Are you saying the HE is a heretic?” It is pure politics.

  13. Tim Wilder said,

    June 14, 2007 at 7:38 am

    Re: 6

    Last night I want back to reread many of the emails from two and a half years ago on the secret FV discussion lists. Lusk had been rejected by Evangel Presbytery but the FV was confident. Soon they would inevitably sweep to victory in the PCA. Their intellectual superiority made their movement unstoppable. Seminary professors who attended the Auburn Avenue conference concurred. Even a Westminster East faculty member had confided (so they said) that the seminary was discussing revoking the degree of the a leading critic of the FV because it was an embarrassment to the school.

    They went on to discuss what they should do to Ligon Duncan and others who had opposed them. Someone suggested bringing charges against them, but in the end they decided, graciously (in their minds), that public shame an humiliation would be punishment enough for Duncan.

    Now the FV has gone down to overwhelming defeat. The seminary professors never came out of the closet to help. What do we see in the FV blogs today? Now the line is that, while it was too hard to defeat the politics of the General Assembly, in the judicial cases the Federal Vision will triumph. For in a judicial case it is possible to go mano a mano with an accuser and the giant intellects of the FV man will invariably carry the day.

    The FV men imagine that with their sophistry and twisting and turning, redefining terms, and constantly recrafting their positions to evade the latest refutation they are going to impress the church courts. What they are going to do is exasperate and alienate the church courts.

  14. June 14, 2007 at 7:47 am

    RE #8 Interesting. This may explain some of the bitterness. Was this personal correspondence Tim (i.e. you were on the receiving “to line”; or did you obtain copies somehow?

  15. jared said,

    June 14, 2007 at 7:48 am

    G.L.W. Johnson,

    The difference being, of course, that FV advocates aren’t Arminian.

    Tim Wilder,

    Novenson isn’t FV, as far as I know; so it wasn’t exactly FV people wanting exegesis. Since the WS are propounded as the PCA’s theology handbook, it seems entirely reasonable to request that clarification of such issues involved with the NPP and FV should include, you know, Scripture. Two more committee members and another year would’ve made this report all the more potent as an official position on something supposedly so important and vital to the integrity of the WS.

  16. Tim Wilder said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:03 am

    Re: 9

    There was a time when Wrightsaid archives were public (inadvertently, the member said later) and I read the old stuff at that time, but I was never a member of these lists, nor did I take the Masonic secrecy oath that they apply.

  17. June 14, 2007 at 8:03 am

    That’s weird. When I posted, there were a number of posts not here and my number was correct. What I meant by #8 is now #13. My post was until a minute ago number 9, now it is 14.

  18. June 14, 2007 at 8:05 am

    Tim, you should consider donating your email archive one day to the PCA archives then; would make interesting reading I’m sure.;-) BTW, you have a private message from me over on PuritanBoard.

  19. June 14, 2007 at 8:09 am

    Jared
    No, that is not the issue. The issue is that in both cases, the Arminians and the followers of the FV ,did not like the outcome and made similar complaints about disrupting the unity of the churches etc.My friend, Jim Cassidy ( who Lane has a link to in the side column) has some very very perceptive observations in the aftermath of the vote.But I personally doubt the FV are going to heed him or anyone else. They are right and everybody who thinks otherwise is considered a pawn of Satan.

  20. June 14, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Is there anything of substance, i.e. doctrinally, in the report FV’ers would be opposed to?

  21. Tim Wilder said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Re: 18

    Gary North’s slogan used to be: “Open agendas, openly arrived at.” The Federal Vision neither believes nor practices this.

  22. greenbaggins said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:15 am

    Jared, it seems to me that whether or not the report was a resounding failure to preserve the peace and purity of the church is almost entirely dependent on whether you agree with the results of the report. It was at least 95% of the assembly which voted to approve the report. Is it a perfect report? What report exists that is perfect? I (as a self-professed TR) would have preferred a report with more bite. But such a report would have had a hard time on the floor. This report does what I wanted it to do: declare these views out of accord with the Standards. And good-faith folk and TR’s united around the Gospel yesterday. You can see that from the humble answers, which included Bill Lyle and Fred Greco on the same side, as well as the report, which had Lig Duncan and Paul Fowler on the same side. This is simply not an issue of good faith subscription, as has been amply demonstrated by the vote. My trust in the PCA received a much-needed boost yesterday.

    Contrary to Jon Barlow’s claims, there is no way that 80 churches are FV in the PCA, since only about 40-50 votes were against the report. I fully expect the FV to minimize the importance of this report. Practically the only thing one will hear from the internet is how unbinding this is on anyone, and how they can ignore it. However, as Paul Fowler said, serious and due consideration must be given to this report. We are committed to that in approving this report. I do think that the FV ought to find a more congenial home for themselves. Why not join the CREC? What is so incredibly difficult about doing something like that? There are Anglicans out there, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, etc. We worship apart from them *for the sake of* unity. We showed our unity yesterday. The FV is not a part of it. Therefore, they should worship apart from us *for the sake of* unity. There are many folk in this world (in fact, most!) who do not hold to the WS. They worship apart from us. I think the PCA has shouted at the top of their lungs what the WS teach.

  23. June 14, 2007 at 8:21 am

    It is interesting to note the degree to which the issue of Sola Fide played in many’s concerns. It seemed a particular concern for Sproul. I’ve been saying FVT revolves around the doctrine of Sola Fide for some time now. I’m glad to see Sproul come around to my way of thinking. ;-)

  24. Sean Gerety said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:41 am

    while it was too hard to defeat the politics of the General Assembly, in the judicial cases the Federal Vision will triumph. For in a judicial case it is possible to go mano a mano with an accuser and the giant intellects of the FV man will invariably carry the day . . . The FV men imagine that with their sophistry and twisting and turning, redefining terms, and constantly recrafting their positions to evade the latest refutation they are going to impress the church courts. What they are going to do is exasperate and alienate the church courts.

    While a great victory for the gospel, it is only a small first and symbolic step.

    While the Wilkins case is already under review, members of the various Presbyteries ought to immediately begin to expose the rest of these false teachers to process — starting with those specifically mentioned in the Report. That said, it would be a grave mistake to underestimate these expert spinners of paradoxes who can speak “yes” and “no” with ease to every biblical truth.

    Unfortunately, many who might be charged with adjudicating these cases, should they arise, have been formally trained in this epistemic double-speak and view the idea of biblical paradox as the height of Christian piety and a sign of creature to Creator submission.

    That is certainly the case in the OPC and explains why NOT ONE defender of FV/NPP have been brought under process (so far as I know) since their much heralded report passed. Besides, what would be the sense, the OPC courts have already spoken on this issue per the case of John Kinnaird.

    Also, don’t forget personalities and pedigrees go a long way too especially in, as you say, mano a mano confrontations. Let’s face it, the pastorate ain’t called an old boy network for nothin’. ;)

    Long and short, passage of the report was a good first step, but the PCA courts at every level need to be resolute, dispassionate, and, most importantly, able to keep their eyes on the issues and not get sucked into personalities and twisted around paradoxes.

  25. Tim Wilder said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Re: 22

    “Contrary to Jon Barlow’s claims, there is no way that 80 churches are FV in the PCA, since only about 40-50 votes were against the report.”

    The story of the 80 churches is roughly this: Somebody reported on an FV blog that some PCA insider had given a talk to some missionaries in Africa saying that there were 80 FV churches that they planed to put out of the PCA. So on the basis of this story the FV guys started talking about their 80 churches. If the incident happened at all, it might have been an offhand remark. There never was a count that I know of.

  26. jared said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:48 am

    G.L.W. Johnson,

    See, but it is the issue because many FV advocates uphold the WS without any substantial exceptions (e.g. Wilson and those of his ilk) whereas the Arminians were outright opposed to the Calvinists of Dordt. I’ll have to check out Cassidy’s blog when I get off work later today since my company filter doesn’t let Xanga through, thanks for pointing me in his direction though.

    Greenbaggins,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response and I don’t entirely disagree with you. I think the problem is that FV isn’t a system of theology like the Standards are and that there are those who would consider themselves FV advocates who are also aligned with the WS; that is, they don’t disagree with the report’s interpretation of the Standards but they do disagree with the reports representation of FV view(s). Novenson’s motion would’ve given more substance (and maybe even more of the bite that you were seeking) to the report as an aid and a teaching reference for those presbyteries which aren’t familiar with FV/NPP. As it stands now, the PCA’s official position is that FV advocates are brothers in Christ but that FV has nothing helpful to contribute to theology, which is simply untrue. To tout the adoption of the report as “the triumph of the gospel” seems to imply that FV actually teaches a different gospel, which is also untrue (and not in accordance with the spirit of the report either). You would know better than I since you were there and I haven’t had a chance to watch/listen to the proceedings, but it seems as though the PCA is merely paying lip service to FV advocates by considering them brothers in Christ while many (apparently 95% or more) believe they are in need of repentence from grievous error; at least if comments in this thread (and others) are a good microcosm of opinion.

  27. Sean Gerety said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:52 am

    It is interesting to note the degree to which the issue of Sola Fide played in many’s concerns. It seemed a particular concern for Sproul.

    What was sad was the TE who spoke immediately before Sproul and in favor of the motion to shelve the report for another year and bring in known FV ideologues to help craft a statement they can more easily work around, was my former pastor. Ironically, while attending that church the name of R.C. Sproul was ubiquitous. Half the Sunday school classes at any one time were going through some Sproul video, tape series or book. Sproul’s remarks were quite a slap in the face — frankly to all FV men and their supporters (which includes all those foolish enough not to see through that particular motion).

  28. Tim Wilder said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Re: 18 (new numbering)

    Don’t see anything on PB newer than last October. You can reach me at tewilder at comcast dot net

  29. Sean Gerety said,

    June 14, 2007 at 9:05 am

    I do think that the FV ought to find a more congenial home for themselves. Why not join the CREC?

    Because that would be admission that their views were heterodox all along.

  30. Sean Gerety said,

    June 14, 2007 at 9:10 am

    To tout the adoption of the report as “the triumph of the gospel” seems to imply that FV actually teaches a different gospel . . . .

    That’s where you’re wrong and the Report – as is – makes clear. I would say a different scheme of salvation constituents a different gospel (and the FV has no gospel at all).

  31. jared said,

    June 14, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Sean Gerety,

    You must have missed the part of the Study Report which says, “The committe also affirms that we view the NPP and FV proponents in the PCA as brothers in Christ.”

  32. anneivy said,

    June 14, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Y’know, Jared’s correct about that, and this seems to be a definite division of opinion in the PCA….do the doctrines rejected in the nine declarations indicate NO gospel or an inaccurate gospel? Out of line with Christianity itself or out of line with PCA doctrine?

    Maybe they should put put together a committee….

    >;^>

  33. pduggan said,

    June 14, 2007 at 10:38 am

    “Gary North’s slogan used to be: “Open agendas, openly arrived at.” The Federal Vision neither believes nor practices this.”

    When there is no agenda, you don’t need to be open.

    The only open agenda is acceptance of paedocommunion

  34. Vern Crisler said,

    June 14, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Jim Jordan said: “And it does not help, of course, when unstable young men, tossed about by every wind of doctrine, drift through the Federal Vision Conversation and then move on to Eastern Orthodoxy or Rome or Anglo-Catholicism. But that cannot be helped. It is the risk we take for being Biblical and open to the future.”

    Jordan assumes that the movement of FVists into these sects is merely an accidental part of the Federal Vision. He doffs his cap to this problem but quickly moves on, missing the true danger. He does not understand that those who swim the Tiber (to borrow a phrase from James White) do so because they think they are being consistent with the sacramentalism, liturgicalism, and “objectivity” taught by Jordan and other FVists.

    I suppose this is one of the worst parts of the Federal Vision response; an unwillingness to understand the fears of Reformed people that FV leads “essentially” to the Tiber and beyond.

    Doug Wilson has tried to understand more than others, but still doesn’t seem to get it. I’ve always thought that Warfield’s book “Perfectionism” addressed proto-FV long ago, with his attack on conditionalists.

    The behavior of the PCA in this matter seems exemplary in my opinion. I hope they publish more on the subject.

    Cordially,
    Vern

  35. Jim Cassidy said,

    June 14, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Does anyone know if anyone had their negative vote recorded for either of the two votes taken during the report? Was there a protest filed?

  36. Stewart said,

    June 14, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Vern,

    I’d have to disagree with you and Jordan. Conversion to RC is not just an FV problem. Moreover, it’s a completely unsupported assertion. Have you done a survey or something? where are the nu numbers? I’ve personally known several non-FV people who have converted to RC, and the one thing that drove them to it was the perceived need for doctrinal authority. If anyone is in danger of converting to RC, it would be the strict subscriptionists in the PCA.

  37. William Hill said,

    June 14, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Absolutely Stewart. This is a point of concern I have held for quite a long time. But the TR’s are not interested in “doctrinal purity”. They are interested in that precious confession that has, based on yesterday’s vote, become the rule of the day in the PCA. The Bible? BAH! Who needs that!!? We have the Confession! [tongue planted firmly in cheek]

    So, I propose send an overture to the 36th PCA GA and move to have WCF 1.10 stricken from the Confession. It has no meaning yesterday and it has had close to none in the last 5 years.

    A denomination was weakened yesterday because we cannot even delibarate the matter from the Bible. Oh sure…I know, the report used Scripture references. Ya? How many of them did you look up actually?

    Even Luther, at the Diet of Worms, was allowed to speak for himself before the council even though he had written a tome of stuff prior. Shame on the PCA for not listening to the wise counsel of Joe Novenson (by the way…he stated right on the floor that he is NOT an FV advocate and could vote easily for the report as it was BUT he was concerned that there were factors missing and that they could be dealt with if a more balanced committee was formed).

  38. Sean Gerety said,

    June 14, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    “You must have missed the part of the Study Report which says, “The committe also affirms that we view the NPP and FV proponents in the PCA as brothers in Christ.”

    No, I didn’t miss it. I think some might be deluded into following the errant teachings of the so-called “Federal Vision” who are brothers. Paul called such misguided people in Galatians “bewitched” as I recall. Others are just present day Judiazers and are not brothers in the least. Both, particularly if they’re TE’s or RE’s, should be brought under process.

    Consequently, the report was, in my view, overly presumptuous at that point. I would have left that statement out. But as has been said, the report isn’t perfect. It got so much else right and clearly so, it is hard to quibble about that small point (even if FVer’s and their few defenders have really latched on to that statement).

    On a different note, I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with Vern Crisler about anything. I guess that is one of the unintended side blessings of this controversy and this report. :)

  39. Sean Gerety said,

    June 14, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    It got – should have been It’s got . . . DOH!

  40. Xon said,

    June 14, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I’m having trouble figuring out what exactly the “TRs” think that FVers are supposed to do now. Patrick Poole seems to think that going to another denomination would be dishonorable. Others (I’m thinking, I think, of Jeff Hutchinson?) seem to say that we should do this and they wish us well. “You will be happier if you just go to a denom that shares your views.” etc. But then others (like Patrick in #6) insinuate that you are not properly honoring the authority of “the church” if you leave. So, what exactly are FV sympathetic ministers supposed to do? Stay in the PCA, but step down from ministry and hand their congregations over to a more “orthodox” successor? (This would seem, but I’m not sure, to be Patrick’s view)? Or are they supposed to go to the CREC or somewhere else and take up a status in the TR mind similar to Lutherans or Episcopalians (fit to minister, just not here)?

  41. Sean Gerety said,

    June 14, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    There is no question that Novenson’s motion was what we call in politics a “poisoned pill.” It was designed to kill the Committee report as written so that, at the very least, known FV men could be added in order to rewrite the report to make it more conducive and inclusive of their heresies.

    The motion had one purpose, not three and I’m glad to see the VAST majority of men at the GA weren’t fooled. Sproul really did give the speech of the day and brought things into focus (even if some of the men here can’t see it).

    There was the notable exception which was a speech by a mustached man (don’t recall his name) who said of the call for exegesis that he was “satiated” with exegesis on the subject. His whole speech was really well done and first class all the way. :) I’ll have to watch the feed again to see if I can catch his name.

  42. Jeff Waddington said,

    June 14, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Sean:

    That mustached man was TE David Coffin.

  43. Tim Wilder said,

    June 14, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Re: 39

    “I’m having trouble figuring out what exactly the “TRs” think that FVers are supposed to do now.”

    Repent, resign your church offices, and humbly learn.

  44. Stewart said,

    June 14, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    All Sproul did was engage in flamboyant show boating. It was just like watching British Parliament on TV.

  45. jared said,

    June 14, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    Sean Gerety,

    So what, exactly, are these “errant teachings of the so-called ‘Federal Vision'”? Is it the teaching that justification is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alon? Is it the teaching that there are those in the visible church now who are not members of the invisible church? Is it the teaching that God’s covenant with Adam was a gracious covenant as was His covenant with Noah, Abram, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus? Is it the teaching that baptism covenantally obligates faithfulness on the part of the baptized regardless of whether the individual is an infant or an adult? Is it the teaching that salvation comes solely by the atoning work of Jesus Christ in his life, death, resurrection and ascension? Or maybe it’s the teaching that Jesus’ righteousness is imputed (accounted, credited, considered as merit) to us such that God sees us (and our sin) through Jesus’ cleansing blood? For which of these teachings is the Federal Vision advocate “bewitched”?

  46. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Just for the record, I never claimed there were 80 “FV churches” in the PCA – I’m not even sure what it would mean for a church to be an “FV church”.

    I do know that Tim Bayly reported hearing from someone (Richard Phillips maybe?) that the anti-FV was targeting 85 FV churches. So you can search Tim Bayly’s archives to find that claim.

    Anyway, just wanted to disclaim taking part in the statistics game; I’m not good at remembering numbers anyway.

  47. Stewart said,

    June 14, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    One thing came through loud and clear from the GA. Everything that can and should be said about the bible has already been said. All the exegesis has been done, and there is really no need for further scholarship. We’ve got the bible pretty much figured out. The WCF with its proof texts is really all we need. Man, that’s good to know.

  48. gospelordeath said,

    June 14, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    The FV/NPP strategy seems quite clearly to be to “agree” with everything the orthodox say about their own theology, and then when the orthodox accuse the FV/NPP guys of teaching stuff that’s out of accord with the Scriptures, they merely respond that they don’t understand what they’re saying. So the orthodox, trying to be charitable, say, ok, well then what are you saying? And everything comes out all double talk. It is no wonder that formal charges aren’t being brought.

  49. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Just to suggest a better analogy since Dort seems to be a favorite well of imagery here.

    Imagine if the Synod of Dort had not allowed the British delegation to participate. That’s what this is more like. It isn’t like the FV guys are Arminians trying to get on the committees at Dort. They are more like the British delegation – Calvinists all, but not willing to give in at all points to certain other Calvinists. Dort is the result of a long consultation between a lot of different kinds of Reformed thinkers. One could imagine a Turtledove novel where Dort kicks out the British delegates and the Church… Bottom line is that it is very possible that the Canons of Dort would have looked different without British participation. Just like the FV report would have looked different if even one FV member was on the committee.

    As for the constant refrain for the FV guys to join the CREC church – can I get a show of hands from all of you on here that you believe the CREC is a true church? That its baptisms are licit and valid. That its members can commune in PCA churches and transfer to PCA churches? That its ministers are ministers of the Gospel with a licit and valid ordination?

    As for me, I’m in the PCA because I’m a Reformed Presbyterian; it’s really not any more complicated than that.

  50. theologian said,

    June 14, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Stewart,

    I think it’s a bit unfair to say, “Everything that can and should be said about the bible has already been said. All the exegesis has been done, and there is really no need for further scholarship. We’ve got the bible pretty much figured out. The WCF with its proof texts is really all we need.”

    I thought that it was clear that scholarship could be expanded or clarified. The only thing that scholarship within churches that adhere to the Standards should not do is contradict the Standards.

  51. June 14, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    […] Green Baggins and Gomarus blog about the PCA rejecting FV, etc. Posted by theologian Filed in […]

  52. Sean Gerety said,

    June 14, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    So what, exactly, are these “errant teachings of the so-called ‘Federal Vision’”?

    Read the report. If that’s not enough, TE David Coffin said he has a stack of books on the subject. (Thanks Jeff Waddington for telling me the name and saving me the trouble of going through the debate again). I have my own stack of books if you’d like to borrow them. If not, Trinity Foundation has been publishing articles and books on Neo-Liberalism or the so-called “FV” for over a decade.

    From your remarks I’d say you’re well behind the curve and need to catch up.

  53. Xon said,

    June 14, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    So the orthodox, trying to be charitable…

    GospelorDeath: such a serious name, such a sense of humor!

  54. Xon said,

    June 14, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Soft moderate Tim Wilder answers my “what are FVers supposed to do now?’ question directly, which I appreciate:

    Repent, resign your church offices, and humbly learn.

    But what is Wilkins, say, supposed to repent of? Teaching that justification is not by faith alone (which, acc. to Sproul, is what yesterday’s vote was really all about)? But he doesn’t teach that. And you believe that everyone who currently goes to Aub Ave Pres Church by their own free choice and who apparently resonates with the teaching there should bring in a pastor who teaches different stuff? And everyone, should simply stay “humble” and remain in the PCA while all this deprogramming takes place?

  55. Chris Hutchinson said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Jon & Xon,

    First, Jon, you asked for a show of hands. I, for one, believe that CREC churches are true churches. I don’t agree with all their emphases, but so what? (As it is a confederacy with different confessions, I am not sure that I would call the CREC itself a “Church” per se, as opposed to a confederation of churches, but that is a quibble, and I haven’t really thought that through.)

    Xon, a good first step might be what Peter Leithart did, voluntarily. One might send up where one stands on the nine declarations to one’s own court and see what they say. Of course, I don’t know *who* should do that, but if an officer reads those declarations and has doubts about them, I would think he should let his own court know that.

    And as you are a candidate, even though you have not had need of a theological exam yet, it might be considered part of your preparation for the ministry to get their advice in this matter, since you seem to have strong opinions in these matters. And you did take vows to submit to your presbytery in that regard (BCO 18-3.2), so it might not hurt to let them know where you stand and see what they say.

    For that matter, Doug lists Peter as a CREC minister on his blog, and Peter planted a church for the CREC, and still pastors it, so I don’t understand the hesitancy to switch, given that he is giving his energies for the furtherance of that confederation. But that is between him and his presbytery.

    I’m going to be away from the computer helping my associate pastor move, so please don’t take my further silence as rudeness.

    Blessings, Chris H.

  56. anneivy said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    How about #7?

    “The view that one can be ‘united to Christ’ and not receive all the benefits of Christ’s mediation, including perseverance, in that effectual union is contrary to the Westminster Standards.”

    This was one of the declarations that was dead on target, ISTM.

  57. anneivy said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Darn it, Chris, you snuck in between my post and Xon’s, which is the one I was responding to. ;^)

    You bring up a good point, considering how the question has been swirling around the netsphere: “What’s a/the practical application for the declarations?”

    Since elders are supposed to alert their presbytery if they are out of step with the PCA system of theology (is that the term? It’s “system of something”, I’m fairly confidant); this is a handy checklist of possible areas in which someone these days might be out of step. IOW, if an elder believes one CAN be united to Christ yet not receive every single one of the benefits of Christ’s mediation, he needs to tell his presbytery that.

  58. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Wow, I was about to type something and then Lane Keister just appeared on the GA broadcast. Surreal, yo.

  59. anneivy said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Dang! I missed it! =8^o

  60. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Anne – are you willing to allow someone to distinguish between various ways of being in union with Christ? For instance limiting the full sense of union with Christ to the elect only yet allowing that union with the visible church is still, in some sense, union with Christ’s body?

  61. jared said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Sean Gerety,

    I have read the report. The recommendations of the report don’t detail any specific errors and the declarations detail what is contrary to the teaching of the Westminster Standards, not necessarily contrary to Scripture. Only two of the declarations are problematic for Federal Vision advocates and those two would not be difficult to resolve via taking exception or some other official roundabout; in other words, they are practically non-essential. On top of all of this, nowhere does the report call FV/NPP advocates to repentence because of unfaithfulness to the gospel or to the Scriptures. So, I ask again, what, according to you are these “errant teachings” of Federal Vision such that they are in need of repentence? Because the PCA, now officially, only sees them as outside of the Standards, not outside of the Faith, as you seem to believe.

  62. Xon said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Pastor Hutchinson, I appreciate your suggestion about doing what Leithart did, and I agree. But thar really is, as you say, a “first step.” I’m thinking a bit further down the road here, assuming that the TRs get an unequivocal condemnation of an individual FV sympathizing minister. Suddenly there is a lot of talk of the “authority of the Church” in this, as FV men are being told to “submit” to that aurhority. But it isn’t clear what the TRs who say this mean, exactly. Or, more accurately, it looks like there is a difference of opinion among the TRs on this very point.

    So, my question can be put this way: Leithart has put his response to the nine declarations out there. Suppose his presbytery is full of Christ Hutchinsons who all vote to find him out of accord. So, Leithart is now an ordained PCA minister whose views have just been officially found problematic by his presbytery. What is the honorable thing to do at that point, in your estimation? Tim seems to think that it would be to stay in the PCA but give up all ministerial authority. You (Pr Huthinson) seem to think that it would be to just go ahead and join the CREC, and godspeed.

    Am I following the two opinions, or are there more?

  63. anneivy said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    So long as it’s clearly understood that the non-elects’ ‘union with Christ’ is a purely TEMPORAL union with no special grace conferred (i.e. the non-elect receive no special, particular grace that’s provided through Christ’s mediation), sure.

    But there’s nothing new or different about that, is there? Isn’t that fairly standard issue Presbyterian doctrine? To put it crassly, Christ’s elect get the spiritual good stuff but the non-elect don’t?

    So far’s I’ve been able to tell, one of the foundational doctrinal distinctives of the FV is that the non-elect in the Church get spiritual good stuff, too. Maybe not the same as the elect, either in quality or quantity, but some.

    Isn’t that the point of contention?

  64. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Anne – when you say “special” grace, I’m not sure exactly what you mean. Grace is God’s favor shown to human beings. Don’t the non-elect receive grace from God in the church that the non-elect outside of the church do not receive? Isn’t being a member of the visible church a “grace”?

  65. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    And I’m not sure what you mean by “stuff” – we Protestants don’t have a substantive approach to grace, do we?

  66. anneivy said,

    June 14, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Well, they’re not supposed to, anyway.

    Look, put it this way; I’d have preferred to see positive statements made as those declarations in lieu of negative statements. Had I been writing ’em, #7 would have been phrased thusly:

    “One who is united to Christ receives all the benefits of Christ’s mediation, including perseverance.”

    There. One either agrees or one does not.

    When someone is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, he receives a new nature…becomes a new person in Christ. The grace conferred on him is unique to the elect. No similar grace is conferred on someone who is not of the elect.

    I’m no theologian, ye ken. Doubtless my explanation is lacking, but it’s the best I can do. Perhaps someone else can punch it up a trifle and say it better than have I.

    Wouldn’t be difficult. ;^)

  67. Sean Gerety said,

    June 14, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    The recommendations of the report don’t detail any specific errors and the declarations detail what is contrary to the teaching of the Westminster Standards, not necessarily contrary to Scripture.

    Not necessarily contrary to Scripture according to whom? You? Mark Horne? Peter Leithart? Doug Wilson? Steve Wilkins? Rome?

    Keep sticking to that Jared. I’m reminded of the old saying, every heretic has his Scriptures. Regardless, to the extent the Confession accurately expresses the biblical truth concerning imputation which is by faith alone and union with Christ, not to mention perseverance, election, baptism, regeneration, the church and on and on, the so-called FV stands in stark contrast to this confession. It is a different religion. It is not the religion of the WCF and it appears that the vast majority of the PCA RE’s and TE’s represented at the GA agree.

    Next are you going to tell me all the FV men stayed home and that accounts for their poor showing (despite the crowing of FV defenders here prior to the GA)?

  68. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    If by regeneration, you mean “effectual calling” then I can assure you that all FV people believe only the elect receive this.

    But back to union – restating the point positively while still leaving “union” undefined doesn’t really get us to the issue here which is whether there is any sense in which we’d like to say that the non-elect experience union with Christ for a time.

  69. jared said,

    June 14, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Sean Gerety,

    Not necessarily contrary to Scripture according to the Scriptures themselves. I’m sorry to be the one to inform you but the PCA does not possess a quorum on Truth. Every heretic does have his Scriptures taken in isolation from Scripture as a whole, I will happily agree with you on this account. However (for the third time now?), the study report is not accusing FV/NPP of heresy in the sense that you seem to be understanding.

    In truth, Federal Vision does not stand in stark contrast with the Confession in as much as the Confession is a sound exposition of Scripture. While one of the questions that the FV raises has been “to what extent is the Confession an accurate expression of biblical truth?”, there are those FV advocates who do not believe it is inaccurate as much as it is incomplete (e.g. Wilson and, within the PCA, Leithart); this is an important distinction. At any rate, since you seem incapable (or unwilling) to engage in sincere and charitable discussion of these matters, I am going to cease dialgue with you before I become inhospitable towards you myself.

  70. anneivy said,

    June 14, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Jon, I just don’t think we’re going to HAVE a meeting of the minds on this, I fear.

    There’s the elect and there’s everyone else. Some of those “everyone elses” are sovereignly placed by the LORD in His Church, and what’s more, some of those “everyone elses” are sovereignly given more desire to worship a deity than others. Just as there are very devout Muslims, while some who are born and raised in faithful Muslim homes couldn’t care less, and ditto for Mormons, Jews, and every other religion on the planet, the non-elect worshipers who are placed by God in His Church will show great enthusiasm while never actually coming to faith in the Christ who is.

    An outwardly devout non-elect church member isn’t receiving any interior grace different than a devout Buddhist.

    There’s nothing worse than being a non-elect church member, as they sit in the assembly of the saints (i.e. “in Christ”), they hear God’s Word preached, they hear the gospel offered, they take communion, etc. They are utterly, totally, completely without excuse. When they do not come to faith in Christ it’s an absolute rejection of Him, and all these temporal blessings will garner covenant curses at judgment.

  71. Sean Gerety said,

    June 14, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    there are those FV advocates who do not believe it is inaccurate as much as it is incomplete (e.g. Wilson and, within the PCA, Leithart);

    I’m well aware of Wilson’s attempt to dress his false gospel in Confessional language and have interacted with him at length here: http://www.trinitylectures.org/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=136

  72. William Hill said,

    June 14, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Jared — contact me at hillwf@gmail.com at your leisure please…

  73. William Hill said,

    June 14, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    LOL! You interacted with him? C;mon Gerety, of all the books out there that stands in opposition to the FV that one is hardly given the time of day in most lists I have read. However, I would hardly call it interaction. I have an idea. Why not come on Covenant Radio and debate him on the issue. Now that I would love to hear and since I simply moderate the debate and say “time” every so often I won’t have to do any work.

  74. William Hill said,

    June 14, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    Hey Anne, do you know who the elect are actually? Do your elders?

  75. William Hill said,

    June 14, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    According to the Confession and the WSC and WLC there is a union of sorts with Christ based on the covenant. I simply don’t understand the hub-bub. Bottom line: It is a confessional position. Now you may not like the idea that the baptized child is “joined” to Christ in some sense but that is simply confessional language and it squares with the Bible. Does that mean the wet baby is now “Ex opere operato” regenerated? No. However, is it possible the baby was already regenerated in the womb or later? Yes, it is possible. If this were a courtroom and you were asked, as a witness, “is it possible the baby was regenerated in the womb” you would have to say — “yes, it is possible”.

    Gee, are you regenerated? How can I possibly know this? I can see evidence. I can ascertain certain things but at the end of the day all I have is what you tell me and if your life reasonably agrees with your words I give you the benefit of the doubt. On the otherhand I know of some people that behave more godly (that is, they are morally decent people even by the Bible’s standards) than many professing Christians and they could care less about Church, God, the Bible and other matters. Common grace at work? Sure. Did God give it to them. You bet.

  76. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Anne – I think what you’ve said is completely true, and I promise I’m not trying to be obtuse, but I don’t know what “interior grace” is. Grace is God’s favor. He shows it to “the world” by not destroying it, on account of Christ, and he shows it to the elect by uniting them to Christ and saving them. He also shows grace to some of the non-elect – he not only doesn’t destroy them immediately, along with the world, but he also brings them into the church for a time. In the church, they have new relationships, sit under the preaching of the word, have a temporary faith, etc. The Reformed tradition calls these people “temporizers” and there is a whole right side to Perkins’s “Golden Chaine” that begins with some of the non-elect receiving an “ineffectual call” and receiving the word with joy.

    Anyway, this would be a rather picky theological point if it didn’t have pastoral implications. The FV seems to just be owning up to the fact that Reformed Tradition fares no better in giving its people assurance than the Arminian tradition does. We simply push the question “am I saved” back to the prior question “am I elect” but we still must develop and promulgate assurance-granting forms of piety.

    There is also something aesthetically unpleasant about saying, of every previously faithful church member who apostasizes “he never really was saved” when we’d each be hard pressed to express the difference between his and our experience of God’s work. We can express it theologically, of course, but experientially probably not.

    I also think that the FV is right in arguing that I John 2:19 has zip to do with the apostasy question – it is about false teachers – and yet the imagery of this passage haunts our systematic theologizing about the apostate.

    Ok, gotta go finish mowing the yard.

  77. Chris Hutchinson said,

    June 14, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    Xon,

    I’m back. First of all, I am sure there are more than two opinions about what should be done. I can only give my own, and even then, I am just spitballing.

    If I was in Presbytery X, I would refer a letter such as Peter’s to the Credentials committee and let them meet with him and explain his answers, and then let them make a recommendation to the presbytery. If I were on that committee, I would want to hear the TE out, and I would come in, Lord willing, with both hard questions and an open mind/heart to have my questions answered satisfactorily.

    I think then that there are three or four possibilities:

    1) The TE’s views would be found to be in accord with the WCF straight up;

    2) The TE and the Presbytery would agree that he had heretofore unseen exceptions to the WCF that were nonetheless acceptable exceptions, and these would be recorded (per the RAO on Presbytery records).

    3) The TE and the local church and the Presbytery decide that the KOG would be best furthered if they simply put an end to the questioning by parting ways peacefully without further investigations, etc. This is how Ceder Springs left for the EPC, and how City Church left for the RCA.

    4) The TE and the Presbytery would agree that the TE had heretofore unseen exceptions to the WCF, which do in fact strike at the fundamentals, so that something must be done. These could be:

    a) Errors which would make him unfit to be an Elder in the PCA, so that it was agreed that he and his church, if willing, simply leave the PCA peacefully by majority vote (as the BCO allows). His credentials would either be transferred, or he would simply demit his PCA credentials, and the new body would handle it as they wished.

    b) Errors which were serious enough to cause him to demit, and to cause his presbytery and him to reconsider whether he ought to be a minister in any denomination. So he would simply become a member of a local PCA church. I have never heard of anyone doing this in the 35 year history of the PCA. Most who demit do so out of a lack of a sense of calling, not over doctrine.

    c) Errors which were so serious that actual charges must ensue, and even though he could obviously still leave, he would leave under discipline, which again, could or could not be honored by other denominations. (I note here that Steve Schlissel was deposed by the CRC in the early ’90s, but many conservative reformed churches ignored their ruling because they believe he was treated unjustly by an increasing liberal denomination. In fact, in his book on Evangelical Reunion, Frame calls denominationalism the ultimate appeal court. And I note that at least one PCA TE under discipline found a haven in the CREC, which looked at the trial papers and determined that he was unjustly treated.)

    So, obviously, some are worried about #4c happening all over the place. I don’t see it happening. More likely, in my not so well informed opinion, depending on the person, are options 1, 2 or 3 or 4a. It is possible that one or two cases go as far as 4c.

    But PLEASE keep in mind I am hardly an insider. This is not based on anything but pure speculation.

    So again, I am just spitballing, but if there is anything useful here, it is that each case must be considered individually and each presbyter given a full and fair hearing if his own views come into question at the local level.

    FWIW,
    Chris H.

  78. June 14, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    […] The Triumph of the Gospel The report passed today by an overwhelming majority. Someone made a motion to postpone, so as to include exegetical […] […]

  79. June 14, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Xon, I think there are levels of “honorability” at work here.

    1. The most honorable thing for FV advocates to do would be to repent of their errors and teach orthodox doctrine. If there is an inability or unwillingness to do this, proceed to step two.

    2. The next most honorable thing to do would be to take Tim Wilder’s advice and find a new day job. Commend your congregation to a replacement pastor and avoid divisiveness.

    3. Failing that, the next most honorable thing would be to switch denominations to one that does not subscribe to the Westminster Standards or 3 Forms of Unity. Whether that would put someone in a similar category to Lutherans and Anglicans, or whether it would put someone more in the side of Rome (a false church) would depend on the severity of doctrinal error. If I had to guess, my guess would be that most URCs would not commune FV proponents.

  80. June 14, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Jared said “Only two of the declarations are problematic for Federal Vision advocates and those two would not be difficult to resolve via taking exception or some other official roundabout; in other words, they are practically non-essential”

    Jared, I don’t think you understand the whole point of the declarations – they are trying to tell us that those AREN’T points one can take exception on. Remember that the committee was tasked to find if certain views “strike at the vitals of religion” and make declarations accordingly.

    I also have the feeling that (especially after reading post #45) that you don’t see what the problem is here because you have been mostly reading Wilson’s kinder, gentler FV writings, and haven’t been exposed to some of the nuttier things his more heterodox friends have said. It is hard for me to come away with such a rosy view of what FV theology entails after acquainting myself with the other proponents who aren’t quite as concerned with appearing orthodox as Wilson is.

    I also have a distinct feeling, and perhaps I am wrong, that many of the FV laymen have not actually read the Report.

  81. Patrick Poole said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Re: #40

    So glad Xon was able to step in and speak for me while I was away today. Admittedly, it is a chore divining my innermost thoughts, especially for someone who has never once spoken to me.

    If there is anything dishonorable about the FV crowd leaving for the CREC, it was only that they refused to take their PCA ordination vows seriously and admit that they were out of accord with the WS. Lusk’s case is a perfect example. When he was voted down by Evangel Presbytery, he didn’t submit to the wisdom of the elders, but instead, assumed the job in Bham anyways and lead the church out of the PCA for the non-Presbyterian fields of the CREC. For all they talk about church authority, the FVers rarely practice what they preach.

    If Xon wants to complain about a prisonhouse, damned if they do leave the PCA and damned if they don’t, it is one of their own making. That’s what you get for pretending to be confessional when you’re making it up as you go along. The CREC will be a perfect final resting place for the FV. Requiescat in pace.

  82. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Jon,

    You bring up some very interesting points in #76 and previously. If all the FV means by being joined with Christ is that they sit under the preaching of the Word and have experienced the fellowship of God’s people and so on, then sure, no problem with that. Yes, the non-decretally elect person who is in the church can experience all sorts of beautiful things and be blessed by those in the church. But maybe many in the FV believe more than what you express in #76? I get the feeling that there is some latitude in what the FV folks do believe is this regards. There’s a difference between saying that these non-elect taste of the good things in the church and saying that for instance, they are in some sense justified, unless something different is meant by the term justified than how is used in the confession (since those who are justified are those who will be glorified in the WCF).

    In the second paragraph of #76, am I correct in understanding that you think that the issue of assurance the only reason why FV advocates want to speak of the non-elect as being bound to Christ? I thought that there would probably be more practical implications but perhaps not. On this issue of assurance I have to say that I’m not aware of assurance being a problem in non-FV churches. Is it? I’ve been in lots of non-FV Reformed churches and can’t say that I’ve heard this problem expressed but maybe I haven’t visited enough churches. I have read Puritan works (Mead’s _The Almost Christian Discovered_ comes to mind) where the authors fret over and over again as to whether they are demonstrating enough fruit to really justify their faith. But I can’t say that I’ve seen this same kind of morbid introspection in modern Reformed churches. Perhaps you have.

    Thanks again for your comments. I think you generally state things very fairly and calmly. In this debate there is a definite need for those qualities!

    Cheers for now,

    Andrew

  83. June 14, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    R. Scott Clark states that Leithart in his letter to his presbytery contradicts 1,2, 5, and 6 of the 9 declarations.

  84. Patrick Poole said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Re: #77

    Chris,

    Just a polite correction on a point you made in 4c (though your assessment of the options for the FV is right on). The CREC exonerated Burke Shade even before they had the trial record from Illiana Presbytery. I have a copy of the CREC minutes from that Christ Church meeting when someone suggested that they wait until they had examined all the records, when Doug Wilson himself stepped in and said that a commitment had already been made to Shade to bring him into the CREC. I wrote several posts about that last year at Pooh’s Think (which I believe is down now).

    Here is the relevent portion of the CREC minutes:

    Doug Wilson reminded the elders that we have already agreed this situation is not a barrier to Burke Shade and his church being accepted into the CRE, and that he has communicated this to Burke. The elders agreed that, further review of the material, the burden of proof is on the committee to overturn our previous decisions [to vindicate Burke—P], which would only happen if new, clear information against Burke appears. The elders would like a report from the committee by July 27. This recommendation considered as a motion passed.” (Christ Church Elder Meeting Minutes, July 13, 2000, emphasis added)

    Yes, the FV will find a cozy home in the CREC free from the trouble of biblical discipline.

  85. Chris Hutchinson said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Patrick,

    Thanks for the correction. Also, I think I failed to note that in my options that of course the TE and the Presbytery could DISagree with one another about whether a belief was either 1) an exception at all; 2) an acceptable exception; or 3) struck at the vitals of religion.

    In that case, both sides would have to follow their own consciences in the matter and do what they thought most served truth and charity. Which might mean a trial, I suppose. I was just trying to be as optimistic as possible about a TE and his presbytery agreeing to the best possible course for all involved. Maybe too idealistic.

    Chris H.

  86. jared said,

    June 14, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    David Gadbois,

    It is certainly true that my main exposure to FV has been through Wilson and Leithart, though I wouldn’t say they are trying to “appear” orthodox. I have always been under the impression (falsely perhaps) that Wilson is sort of the “top dog” as far as FV is concerned. It also doesn’t help that I can’t really afford the 10 or so books (N.T. Wright, Shepherd, all the collection-of-essays books, etc.) I feel like I should read in order to be “in the know”, as it were, on all of the issues involved. Nor does the public library here in Chattanooga carry such books. I’m not trying to make excuses for myself, just trying to partially confirm your assessment of my understanding of FV.

    Having said that, I do believe I understand the purpose of the study and of the declarations. I also understand that many people still recite (honestly and sincerely) the Apostle’s Creed even though they don’t really believe that Jesus literally descended into hell. Maybe that’s a poor comparison… What I’m saying is that with careful consideration one who “fully embraces” FV (like Wilson) can agree with all nine of the declarations and still consider themselves FV. As I’ve mentioned before, FV isn’t a system so the declarations aren’t going to spell expulsion for some (perhaps many) FV advocates.

    For example, the two declarations I’m thinking of in particular are 7 and 8. With 7 one can “get around” by asking what does ‘union in Christ’ mean and/or imply. If we are talking about that vine/branch union then the declaration is in error according to the Scriptures because John does not speak anything about the benefits those branches are receiving, whether they are saved branches or not. In that sense of ‘union with Christ’ I think it is quite safe to say that one can be receiving benefits while connected to the vine yet not persevere in the end. Why? Because the declaration is against a view which entertains the notion of an ineffective effectual union. It would be like saying one of those fruitful branches gets cut off at the last moment, it just won’t happen; no FV advocate is going to entertain that notion (no Christian at all should entertain that notion).

    The committee report really and truely would have been far more potent and effective had it been given another year and two more committee members (Wilkins and Leithart maybe?). What I’ve been saying (along with all my “sympathizer” friends) is that we shouldn’t be throwing out the baby with the bath water. That, however, seems to be the modus operandi of every report which has been published. I, for one, do not believe the general consensus should give rise such vitriolic criticism and judgment as I have seen just on this blog alone. It should give rise to sharp caution, certainly, but not to outright animosity, disdain, and prejudicial hatred of particular individuals.

    As to FV laymen reading or not reading the report, well, I can only speak for myself. I read it the day I was informed of its existence (my wife gets the byfaithonline newsletter in her email and told me about it). I’ve poked around in it a bit (as you can tell on my blog) and will continue to study over it working out my own view and deciding whether or not I should remain a PCA member. As of now I feel no compulsion to go even though General Assembly has adopted the study report; I simply don’t know enough and (as you’ve noticed) haven’t read enough to say one way or the other any more strongly than I currently do. In that vein, I suppose I should spend more time in those articles on the page you linked rather than shooting off on this blog! Thanks for the interaction.

  87. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Patrick – I don’t think you have accurate information about Rich Lusk.

    Here is the pastoral letter Lusk wrote in 2005 where he explains the situation:

    http://www.trinity-pres.net/pastoral-letters/summer2005.php

    Accuse him of deception if you wish, but you were not there to hear the committee and its reasons and have not read a transcript and if you had, you’d have more information than even Lusk had about the committee’s thoughts.

  88. Anne Ivy said,

    June 14, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Jon, I’m not a theologian, so I’m not even going to pretend to be a go-to gal regarding what is the precise nature of grace, okay?

    It’s not a commodity but OTOH it is SOMETHING that is given to us or bestowed upon us in some manner. Quite likely it has its roots buried in an attribute of the LORD’s we don’t come close to grasping. I say it is a “something” based upon how Paul refers to it:

    “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…” Romans 12:6

    “But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God.” Romans 15:15

    “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed…” 2 Corinthians 9:10

    “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:5-6

    Um, you and I are going to have to agree to disagree regarding God granting some of the non-elect a “temporary faith.” You sez He does. I sez He doesn’t. Not faith in the Christ who is, at any rate. The only people who hear His voice and follow Him are His sheep, and He doesn’t lose one of those.

    If they’re lost, they weren’t His sheep, meaning they didn’t hear His voice, meaning they never knew Him.

    To be honest, this is something that has flummoxed me for a while now: how can there be any assurance whatsoever if the (theoretical) faith of the non-elect is not only experientially the same as that of the elect, but is a sign of God’s grace, except the non-elect’s faith will eventually wither and die because of the grace being withdrawn?

    I might occasionally fret a bit as to whether or not my faith is true, and if I am in fact hearing the Master’s voice, but I’m confidant that IF my faith IS true, and I AM hearing His voice, my faith will never, ever wither and die. IOW, if it’s a true faith it’s a gift from God by grace and one which will never fail nor will the sustaining, life-giving grace ever be withdrawn.

    But if I thought that I might BE actually hearing the Master’s voice but that someday my spiritual “ears” might go deaf so I hear Him no longer….what sort of assurance is that? It’s not even a theoretical assurance.

    When you’ve finished wrestling the lawn into submission and eaten dinner, I’d be obliged if you’d be kind enough to have a crack at ‘splaining it to me, for I honestly don’t get it.

  89. Patrick Poole said,

    June 14, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    I have no doubt that’s his story, and I’m not surprised in the slightest that you’re willing to receive it unquestioned. Again, I worked with a member of the committee in question providing them with documentation on Lusk’s written positions, and I received my information from one of the committee members immediately after the fact. Have you talked with any member of that Evangel Presbytery C&C committee?

    How is my taking his witness at face value (as I mentioned above, the man was also my former pastor) any less than you taking Lusk at his word?

  90. Chris Hutchinson said,

    June 14, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    What a gracious (if wordy — but that’s Rich!) letter. When I met Rich, I thought he was dead wrong on some points, even dangerously so. But he has a very gentle and humble demeanor even as he presses his point of view with vigor.

  91. Barb said,

    June 14, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    TIM WILDER:

    The Wrightsaid list has had closed archives FAR longer than 2005 or late 2004 from which your cited references must date due to chronology. Further, as co-mod of the list, I recall no such email conversation on Wrightsaid. Therefore, your information is highly questionable. Who is your source? Whoever it is, he is not trustworthy.

  92. Bryan said,

    June 14, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Anne,

    How do you know that the internal, phenomenal experience of the apostate-to-be, prior to their apostasy, is qualitatively different from your own?

    – Bryan

  93. Gabe Martini said,

    June 14, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    You were a lot shorter in person than I imagined. I guess that explains some things.

  94. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Anne – temporary faith is a staple in Reformed history. I’m not saying you have to believe it, I’m just saying it has been there. It is in Calvin and just about everyone else. Most distinguish between the quality of the faith of believers and unbelievers. As for assurance, the WCF recognizes that it is difficult to obtain and that having assurance of salvation is not necessary for salvation. It does say that we can have infallible assurance, but I’m not sure if they mean infallible with regard to the object or the subject. I’ve found similar language on both sides of that question. As for your more personal question – in my own life, I have absolutely no assurance that I’ll be faithful in 10 years; it’s just a hope and a prayer based upon the character of God and not on my own character. The PCA pastor who married me and my wife apostasized. I have a friend from seminary who just became an atheist. Heck, John Gerstner’s son was involved in some kind of “meet a teenager in the park” sting. How can I be so cocksure that I won’t end up the same way? For me, knowing that I’m in Christ today is good enough; I don’t tend towards excessive worry about that. But back to the theology of the matter, my area of historical study is basically British Calvinism and American Puritanism, and if you had a nickel for every distraught Puritan seeking assurance, you’d have a pile of moola. If you have access to those Banner of Truth “puritan sermon” collections, I would suggest reading the sermon “What Relapses are Inconsistent with Grace?” by the Rev. John Sheffield. I’m pretty sure he died in 1680. It is a sermon on Hebrews 6:4-6 – one of those notorious “apostasy passages” and his treatment is very nuanced.

    Patrick – what information did you receive from the committee members? What are the differences between their testimony and Rich’s? Is Rich wrong about the locus of the committee’s concern?

  95. Anne said,

    June 14, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    Thanks for the reply, Jon. I’m sorry to be dim as a five-watt bulb, but I’m finding it nigh unto impossible to square a God-given temporary faith in the Christ who is with His words in John 10:

    “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

    Faith and hearing His voice are symbiotic, are they not? It requires faith to hear His voice, and one must hear His voice to follow Him in faith? And those who are His sheep and because of that believe in Him will never perish?

    I’m absolutely cross-eyed with confusion. How does this allow for someone hearing His voice and following Him and having faith in Him but being lost and perishing?

  96. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    It’s not being dim, it’s just something we never talk about in the Reformed churches anymore, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t sound foreign and even wrong.

    Without bringing in other passages where Jesus talks about receiving the word with joy and yet falling away, I will just point out that the Reformed tradition doesn’t consider those with temporary faith to be sheep. Jesus doesn’t say “*only* my sheep hear my voice.” The hard-hearted people to which he addresses this prophetic condemnation are not his sheep. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t goats with faith who ultimately reject Jesus. I have no clue what God’s purposes are with such goats; I think of Saul, for instance, and of Judas.

  97. barlow said,

    June 14, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    And I should clarify that the temporary faith of the goats is not sheep-like faith, even if it looks like it from the outside. I don’t know how to explain the difference specifically, but I think it is important to maintain that there is a difference in order to be confessional and in line with the tradition.

  98. Clay Johnson said,

    June 15, 2007 at 12:06 am

    Re: Post 76

    BOQ There is also something aesthetically unpleasant about saying, of every previously faithful church member who apostasizes “he never really was saved” when we’d each be hard pressed to express the difference between his and our experience of God’s work. We can express it theologically, of course, but experientially probably not. EOQ

    In my experience with church discipline, this is a good, if understated, description of what is absolutely gut wrenching about those parishioners who enter into gross sin, refuse to repent, are excommunicated, and never look back from their sin. As an elder, you sit through the extended process of praying for, seeking, pleading for their repentance and reconciliation knowing that there is no reason other than God’s continuing grace that your position and their position are not reversed. Experientially this is aw(e)ful .

  99. June 15, 2007 at 4:14 am

    If William Hill’s view of the WS is wide spread among those sympathetic to the FV then the gig is up. It is the confessions that define what ‘Reformed’ means, not Mr.Hill or me or anyone else. And if Mr.Hill really believes what he says about the WS, he should do the honorable thing and go find a church that better reflects his own anti-confessional views.

  100. William Hill said,

    June 15, 2007 at 4:30 am

    Uh huh…sure Mr. Johnson . The Bible defines what “reformed” means sir. You know, I can argue the reformed faith (without all the buzzwords and rhetoric) without the Confession. The Confessions are fine but I prefer the Bible. However, your comment is simply a weak attempt to sidetrace what I actually said. So…

    And yes, I do believe what I said about the WS. Why? Becuase it is flat out accurate. I do not need a degree to see it. Funny thing, some with degrees seem to be more blind to the obvious than us degree-less dummies.

  101. June 15, 2007 at 5:12 am

    Mr. Hill
    How can you argue the ‘Reformed Faith’ from Scripture without reference to the confessional definition of what ‘Reformed’ means? You can’t ,and all you are displaying is your pietistic mind-set( that is not intended to be an insult, merely descriptive of an attitude you are displaying).I am sure that some of your FV colleagues will quickly take you aside and fill you in because you are not helping their cause one bit with this line of reasoning.

  102. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 15, 2007 at 5:58 am

    Jon,

    Your statements in #93/94 are what I was trying to ask you about earlier. You speak about this “temporary faith” as being something we don’t “talk about in the Reformed churches” but I think we do. We just don’t draw out the implications that some in the FV do. Sure we believe what Jesus talked about in the parable of the tares. People come into a church, express faith, join in the life of the church, and then later leave. If this is what you mean by “temporary faith” then no problem. But if you mean that these folks actually enter into the various components of the ordo salutis and become really justified, adopted, etc in some sense then we have some concerns.

    And on assurance, I’m still trying to figure out if you feel that this is a big problem in non-FV Reformed churches. Whenever I have heard Wilson or Wilkens talk about this I’m left scratching my head trying to figure out what’s broken that needs fixing. Is there a problem that I’m unaware of that only the FV thinking can fix?

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  103. Robert Harris said,

    June 15, 2007 at 6:08 am

    Having followed the debate on this blog since the committee’s report was made public. In that time I have not seen (or I’ve missed) some substantive Scriptural arguments for the issue of union with Christ as it relates to the non-elect. So my question is for me to better understand this issue. Could someone please explain, or point me to a place which explains, what Christ himself meant by ‘Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away’ in John 15?

  104. Patrick Poole said,

    June 15, 2007 at 6:20 am

    Jonathan,

    I’m waiting to hear from you exactly what deficiency of “accurate information” (#86) on the situation I have. On a second read of Lusk’s piece, I think he confirms things as I’ve presented them here: he gets turned down by Evangel Presbytery C&C committee, doesn’t consider the findings of the C&C committee about his qualifications for the ministry nor does he follow-through on his options with the presbytery (going to the floor w/ a negative committee recommendation), and instead leads the church out of the PCA to the CREC where his views are acceptable. How does what I have said thus far contradict his own testimony? What exactly are you taking issue with?

  105. June 15, 2007 at 8:03 am

    The Temporary ‘Faith’ (not Temporary Faith) issue is easily answered by I John 2:19.

    It can’t be Temporary saving faith because saving faith by definition is permanent. To suggest that there is such a thing as Temporary saving faith is to deny the Biblical Faith. It is the very thing that Arminians champion.

    Truly non-saving ‘faith’ masquerades itself wonderfully at times as saving faith. Certainly a non-saving ‘faith’ that brings one into some kind of contact with the age to come makes one more responsible for rejecting what God offered. Still in the end non saving faith was only a counterfeit and only gave a non saving salvation.

    Bret

  106. Stewart said,

    June 15, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Gary,

    Would you go on Covenant Radio and debate some of the things? It would be beneficial for all. What do you say?

  107. anneivy said,

    June 15, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Jon (whom I don’t want to overburden with comments to which he feels obliged to respond, bless him) wrote: “…that doesn’t mean there aren’t goats with faith who ultimately reject Jesus. I have no clue what God’s purposes are with such goats; I think of Saul, for instance, and of Judas.”

    As I said, we’re going to have to agree to disagree, for I can’t see any Scriptural warrant for goats who hear Christ’s voice, i.e. goats with faith. The entire John 10 passage wherein Christ speaks of His sheep is drenched in “only”, to the point it’d be redundant for Him to include it. It’s an enormously powerful imagery that Christ employed, as shepherds would move through the combined flocks of sheep, calling, and THEIR sheep would hear their voice and follow.

    I’d love to see that someday! From what I’ve read, it still happens in some areas of the world.

    Last night I tried, but couldn’t find any place that says goats do the same thing. Found the blog of a Christian woman who has goats, and in a post she wrote about this very passage, she noted that “they are stubborn, are always getting into trouble, usually by themselves but the others watch and are quick to copy bad behaviour.” Nary a word about her goats listening to her voice as sheep do their shepherds.

    To have goats mimicking sheep by hearing and following Christ’s voice in any way, shape or form cuts the legs right out from under the whole thing. Really. It’s destroyed.

    As for Saul and Judas, that’s the difference between the OC and the NC. In the New Covenant he whom the Holy Spirit quickens to life, stays quickened. It’s one of the ways it’s a new and better covenant.

  108. Stewart said,

    June 15, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Anne,

    What do you think about Mathew 13:5?

  109. June 15, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Stewart
    Given Mr.Hill’s posture as reflected on this blog,and especially his less than congenial demonstration of cordiality towards me, the answer is NO. That is like asking Bush to give a one on one interview with Dan Rather.

  110. Stewart said,

    June 15, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Gary,

    I’m sure some compromise could be reached. He might even be willing to bring in a third party to balance things out.

  111. June 15, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Stewart
    There is a line from a country/western song that was popular awhile back that captures my feelings on this-“what part of ‘No’ don’t you understand?”

  112. Stewart said,

    June 15, 2007 at 9:19 am

    And a certain movie line captures my feelings: “What’s wrong, McFly? Chicken?

  113. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 9:25 am

    Patrick, I’m sorry you took me to be “divining your innermost thoughts.” This is a pet peeve of mine when people do this, and while perhaps I miscommunicated this is not at all what I was trying to do. I am not claiming to have any insight into your “true” intentions, or anything else that is innermost. I was simply, or so I thought, constructing your position concerning the honorable course for FVers to take based on the things you said in #6.

    There (#6) you said this:

    Predictably, the Federal Vision crowd will whine and moan about this decision. Rather than receiving instruction and admonition from their fathers and brothers, many of them will jump ship (and thereby Presbyterianism itself) for the CREC (aka “The Fellowship of the Grievance”), where they will fit right in with the other malcontents and denominational fugitives.

    From this I tried to infer your position regarding “what FVers should do now” (and notice that I explicitly stated I was open to correction) like this (in my #40):

    Patrick Poole seems to think that going to another denomination would be dishonorable. … But then others (like Patrick in #6) insinuate that you are not properly honoring the authority of “the church” if you leave. So, what exactly are FV sympathetic ministers supposed to do? Stay in the PCA, but step down from ministry and hand their congregations over to a more “orthodox” successor? (This would seem, but I’m not sure, to be Patrick’s view)…

    So, for one thing I think you’ve overreacted even if I did misunderstnad your position, because I openly asked for correction if I had it wrong. I was hardly making a heavy-handed proclamation to the world or “speaking for you” while you were away. My language was modest and collegial, not to toot my own horn. But, furthermore, let’s look at your #6 more closely as well as your more recent comments, and see if I really did misrepresent you all that badly.

    You talk about FVers “whining and moaning”, and you say that they, “rather than receiving instruction and admonition from their fathers and brothers,” (this would seem to be something you think they SHOULD do) will instead (and this you think they shouldn’t do, it would seem) choose to “jump ship” to the CREC, a denomination which you say is fit for “malcontents” and “denominational fugitives.” (which I assumed you meant as a knock on the validity of the CREC). So, b/c FVers are whiners and moaners, they are going to refuse to do the good thing of receiving instruction and admonition from their fathers and brothers and are instead going to do the not good thing of jumping ship to “the Fellowship the Grievance”. Now, honestly, you think that what I said in #40 so misrepresented what you said in #6 as to constitute an exercise in “divining your innermost thoughts?” (as you quip in #80) Your thoughts as expressed in #6 did not seem particularly “innermost” to me.

    But, anyway, you then go on in #80 to describe what you think is “dishonorable” about FV behavior, and it turns out….that it’s pretty close to what I had said in #40. For you say (in #80):

    If there is anything dishonorable about the FV crowd leaving for the CREC, it was only that they refused to take their PCA ordination vows seriously and admit that they were out of accord with the WS. Lusk’s case is a perfect example. When he was voted down by Evangel Presbytery, he didn’t submit to the wisdom of the elders, but instead, assumed the job in Bham anyways and lead the church out of the PCA for the non-Presbyterian fields of the CREC. For all they talk about church authority, the FVers rarely practice what they preach.

    So, here you say that the “dishonor” is in not admitting that your views are out of accord with the WS as required by PCA ordination vows, and the example you give of someone failing to admit this is…Rich Lusk leaving the PCA for the CREC. Hmm…in #40 I had guessed that your position was that FVers should remain in the PCA and simply give up the ministry altogether. You accused me of “divining your innermost thoughts”, and then you explained your position as more or less what I had guessed. Am I tracking?

  114. June 15, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Stewart
    Actually,and this is suppose to be top secret,but Guy Waters and I are hard at work on a sequel-tentatively titled ‘Son of the Federal Vision: Heresy as You Have Never Seen It’-and I am really going to be tied up with this for awhile. Yes,yes I know-it is a dirty job ,but somebody got to do it.

  115. Sean Gerety said,

    June 15, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Stewart, why would anyone go on “Covenant Radio” and waste their time debating FV shills like Wilson in order to entertain the 6 FV ideologues tuning in on their “web” radios ? I’m confident Wilson could make even the most eloquent defender of the Gospel look silly. After all, making people look silly has been his stock and trade since the early days of Credenda Agenda.

    Some interesting developments that Andrew Malloy pointed out above from R.S. Clark’s blog:

    Judging by this refreshingly candid letter by Peter Leithart, Taylor [Marshall] may have a point. As it turns out there is at least one pro-FV minister in the PCA who DOES believe the stuff which, we were told repeatedly in the run up to GA, “no one really believes.”

    Here’s a link to Leithart’s letter: http://www.leithart.com/archives/003074.php .

    I will be curious to find out what his Presbytery thinks of Leithart’s frank admissions particularly in light of the report? Of course Taylor Marshall has had it right all along and the true and logical home for FVers is not the Moscow but Rome. I doubt even a man as refreshingly true to his convictions as Leithart would be that logically consistent — at least not all at this point .

    Here’s a link to Marshall’s piece: http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2007/06/pca-general-assembly-2007-zwinglians.html

    You’ll also notice Mr. Barlow’s plea in the comments for all his Roman Catholic brothers in Christ will pray for the PCA.

    One big happy family. :)

  116. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 9:57 am

    But writing a book, where you don’t have to interact personally with the men you are critiquing, does not exactly constitute evidence that you are not in fact chicken, McFly. :)

    Seriously, I love those movies (though what’s up with most of my college philosophy students not having seen them??)

  117. June 15, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Xon
    If you promise to not make anymore disparaging remarks about me over at Barlow Farms, I’ll see if Guy will let me write you in for a cameo appearance( nothing really big mind you)-just enough stage time to get you noticed and your name in the fast moving credits at the end.

  118. Stewart said,

    June 15, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Gary, on second thought, you and Waters should just stick to Baptist radio shows. There are more in line with your theology anyway. :-)

  119. barlow said,

    June 15, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Hi Anne – perhaps we will have to disagree. I don’t see the OC and the NC differing in terms of soteriology – OT saints and NT saints are saved by the same Spirit of Christ; all of the OC saints drank water from the same rock and were baptized into the same Spirit. You also have one of Paul’s fellow workers – Demas – perhaps he fits more with your NC paradigm.

    Bret – I don’t think I John 2:19 is about apostasy – I think it is about false apostles or false teachers. I know that it is an old tradition to use this verse as imagery for the false believer, but I just don’t think that holds up in the context of the epistle. And again, I’ve found Reformed people using this verse for the same purpose you’re using it pretty much from the get-go, so I’m not saying that such usage doesn’t have a good pedigree. It has an excellent pedigree, but I just don’t think it is properly applied to false believers except by analogy with false teachers perhaps.

    Andrew – I don’t believe that the non-elect in the church are part of the ordo salutis classically understood, but at the same time I think there are good reasons to problematize the easy distinction between what happens to them and what happens to the elect in the church. First of all, Salvation is found in Christ Jesus alone. I hope we can agree on that. And the church – even the visible church – is Christ’s body, though with caveats about wheat and tares and a final pruning someday.. And I hope we can agree that when one joins the visible church, he is now part of a new society – separated from the world, given a new name (“Christian”), having new social relationships with others, living life in and among the body of Christ, exposed to the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments, subject to receiving brotherly love and favor from other church members, under the discipline of God’s ordained ministers and elders, invited to the Church Christmas party, the pig roast, eating donuts with other members in the fellowship hall after church, having one’s children in Sunday School, having one’s spouse getting training in the Bible and in the ethics of relationships, getting to hear glorious music sung in praise of God, getting to raise one’s hands and pray with the company of other believers, etc.. Now, to me, that is a lot of what salvation is – being a resident of Bethlehem rather than Soddom, living among Yaweh worshippers rather than among Molech worshippers. And I think we minimize the gift that is the church when we try to diminish what all of her members have by focusing entirely on an unseen change in the heart that we may even, ourselves, prove to not have someday. And so while there are decretal ways to distinguish the elect from the non-elect in the covenant of grace, there are no practical ways to do so and we deceive ourselves, or at least risk deceiving ourselves, if we satisfy ourselves with this facile distinction and fail to heed the warnings of scripture about falling away.

    And that brings me to your last question. No, assurance is not universally a big problem in the PCA right now. Historically, assurance has been the Calvinistic problem. Where that problem still shows up, though, is in the downplaying of the sacraments. They cannot be *real* promises from God because they are external and the internal stuff is the really important stuff. This is a legacy of Puritanism. You also see it in the communion meal which is treated as a dangerous thing – fenced heavily (even at GA!) – with a penitential mood and a time of deep self-examination rather than feasting. At some point, Joseph’s brothers need to look up from their belly buttons and realize that yes, they are eating at the King’s table, and yes they are unworthy, but they are worthy *in him* and heirs to a great inheritence by grace.

    The problem in the PCA concerning perseverance is probably more on the other side – an adoption of the non-Reformed “once saved always saved” idea. We had a man in our church who cheated on his wife, came under discipline and ended up an excommunicate and all the while (and still) claiming that he was still a Christian, despite the voice of the church, because he had prayed a prayer at some point in his life. The warning passages of the Bible are constantly muted by “of course we know, brothers, that the saints will not fall away” and so forth. No one ever has to feel that tension because decretal theology trumps the clear warnings of the Bible to real church members. And so part of the impetus for the original Federal Vision conference, if I’m characterizing those guys properly, was a concern to make sense of these two poles – how God’s voice through the church is a real voice – a promise-making voice that can be embraced (calling the real congregation the “elect” as the apostles do, the strong words about baptism, the strong words about communion, and not to mention the strong words of the WCF about the church being the community outside of which there is ordinarily no possibility of salvation). And the other pole being the real warnings in scripture that receive the most strained harmonizations in reformed exegesis. Passages like Hebrews 6 and the numerous “if you continue” passages.

    Hope this helps. I’m not saying anything here that you can’t probably find in Lusk’s or Leithart’s or Garver’s or Horne’s articles, but I know that it is probably better to get answers to the question you’ve asked at the time than being referred to an article or two that might only intersect the question at glancing angles.

    Two final words – whatever the benefits or shortcomings of the FV approach, I appreciate that the main proponents are trying to listen to the scriptures. I also would commend Horne’s confessional hermeneutics because despite the web persona he has, Horne’s knowledge of the confession is exemplary. He transferred into the Missouri Presbytery and sustained an onerous and lengthy examination here by men such as George Robertson (the first TE to stand up in favor of the committee report on Wed.) and he answered confessionally. I remember Mark in seminary – he learned how to read the Bible theologically, in part, through his intense study of the standards. He was constantly a gadfly in class, I remember, and not for the reasons you might expect – he was always surprising us with the passages used by the divines for this or that doctrine. And as the other side of this coin, I know that R. Scott Clark gets a lot of respect and he really throws his weight around a lot, but he is an extremely sectarian man who has a very narrow conception of what it means for a denomination to be confessional, and who essentially disfellowships a lot of Christians, such as baptists. He also veers very close to antinomianism – there is a strain of sola fideism that nearly insulates itself from hearing the book of James. Further, he has a very tight criteria for what constitutes a proper way to express imputation. He sees imputation as something God does by fiat – he just decrees to see us in the righteousness of Christ. The problem with this view is that it raises the question of why God could not simply decree to see us as righteous apart from Christ. (Certainly Aquinas would concur with that.) The Murray / Gaffin / Union with Christ / FV approach is to say that God sees us in Christ’s righteousness because he actually unites us to Christ; that’s where the ballgame kicks off from, a living connection to the living Christ. The means of imputation, according to Clark, is fiat. The means of imputation, according to the FV, is union with Christ. Even if you want to view all the FV guys as heretics, I just would caution my brothers and sisters in Christ to think hard about assuming that someone like Clark has all the answers simply because he has the right foes.

    I probably will not have time to interact with everything that will come after this – I do have a day job that I have been neglecting this week. Part of the difficulty I feel in all of this is trying to represent my FV friends accurately and try to answer questions – your good questions – that attempt to uncover the flaws in the FV. I will promise to come back around 4:00 p.m. today and see what has come after this post o mine. Thanks for reading this thing – and I’m not reading over it again, so I apologize for typos in advance.

  120. June 15, 2007 at 10:15 am

    p.s. Did I mention that this is a screenplay for a movie (the book will come later if it is the blockbuster we hope it will be)? Casting for the role of Doug Wilson is a boger-Danny DiVito has the right look but he just isn’t sinister enough.Brando is dead or he could do a take-off of his God-father charactor.That would have been perfect-‘the Don Wilson’-right now we are stuck.

  121. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 10:16 am

    My guess is that I will play a role like Biff…big annoying bully who in the end gets puched in the face by the nerdy guy?

  122. barlow said,

    June 15, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Patrick – I suppose I was just objecting to the characterization of Lusk’s approach to the church. If you agree that he accurately states the facts in his letter, that’s cool. I just think it is a non sequiter to push someone out of a church for having a high view of the church and then when they leave saying “oh, leaving the church are you? I thought you had a high view of the church.” It seemed to me from what little I know of the situation (you obviously have the inside scoop that I don’t have) that Lusk was pretty much told that his views on children and the views of the church that called him were out of step with the presbytery. And the decision to leave is not Lusk’s to make; his elders and congregation made that call, and the PCA allowed to happen peacably. I just wish we could get out of each other’s grills with all the tu quoque about respecting church courts. And as Forest Gump said, that’s all I have to say about that, unless someone wants to criticize Lusk again, at which point I’ll defend him. Perhaps you would have a different perspective about who is more in step with the denomination if you’d been with me the day I worshipped at a PCA church in Birmingham, AL on the final day of their “Purpose Driven Life” sermon series. Perhaps I’d have a different perspective if I’d talked to the court member that you talked to. Who knows.

  123. June 15, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Xon
    You’ve got the wrong genre. This is more of a cloak and dagger type,you know, one of those ‘who-dunnit’ films with lots of twists and turns and where you don’t know how it is going to end.Of course, we are probably going to get a ‘R’ rating for violence and language-but it couldn’t be helped -we had to go for realism.There is seedy character that gets knocked off at the beginning-maybe you could try out for that part.

  124. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 11:01 am

    EXT. ALLEY–NIGHT

    A typical germy alleyway unfolds to a busy city street. Two men are arguing beside a closed rusty door on the left wall of the alley. These are SEEDY MCSEEDY, 29, and MYSTERIO CLOAKENFACE, 50. The sights and sounds of passing cars on the street provide background to their tense conversation.

    SEEDY

    What is this? More crap to read?
    You’re unbelievable.

    MYSTERIO

    You’ll read what I tell you to read.

    MYSTERIO takes a drag off his cigarette.

    MYSTERIO
    (cont.)

    I really think it’s in your best interest
    to listen to what we have to say.

    SEEDY

    I’ve listened to what you have to say a
    million times now. The problem is that
    you still aren’t understanding me…

    BANG! SEEDY is shot dead from somewhere in the
    alley. He slumps back against the wall and slides
    to the ground.

    MYSTERIO calmly puffs his cigarette one last time
    and discards it on the pavement. He calmly steps
    over SEEDY’S corpse and reaches for the rusty door.
    He glances at the traffic.

    MYSTERIO

    Everybody always misunderstands you…

  125. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Darnit, my spacing was lost.

  126. Tim Wilder said,

    June 15, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Re: 113

    “The Murray / Gaffin / Union with Christ / FV approach is to say that God sees us in Christ’s righteousness because he actually unites us to Christ; that’s where the ballgame kicks off from, a living connection to the living Christ.”

    The problem with Gaffin is that he does not know what union with Christ is. He considers some possibilities, rejects then and chooses “mystical union”, where “mystical” means, “I don’t know what it is”. In effect, he throws up his hands, and says “I don’t have a theology of how we are justified, only the words I want to use about it.”

  127. June 15, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Xon
    You know, I may have misjudged you-you have talent! But tone it down a little -too melodramatic- the seedy character( I can’t reveal his real idenity) is FV spy attending a Reformed seminary under the pretense of getting education but he is actually trying to get some dirt of Lig Duncan-but this backfires and the word comes down from Moscow that he is no longer useful and a contract is put out on him with a hitman from St.Louis.Does this give the drift of the script?

  128. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Yes, I think I follow, but it’s too transparent. You should change the cities around, and let it remain clear for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

    Back to a more serious note, I hope everyone takes note of the sort of rhetorical approach that folks like Mr. Wilder take to this discussion. See, this wasn’t just some problem with a minority that needed to be taken care of. It was the tip of the iceberg. Gaffin, who many on this blog have spoken of favorably for his work co-authoring the OPC FV Report, is also woefully inadequate as a theologian. Indeed, the theological project for which he is best known and respected as a seminary professor, i.e. his work on understanding “union with Christ” and reintroducing it as a central concept to Reformed soteriology, is, acc. to Mr. Wilder, just an empty appeal to mystery. Nobody is safe…

  129. June 15, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Gaffin’s chapter in the recently released book ed. by Scott Oliphint ‘Justified In Christ’ as does the chapter by Lane Tipton- the differences with the NPP and the FV are clearly stated. A sense of humor, Roger Nicloe once told me, is essential in a controversy amongst professing Evangelicals-even when terseness has to come to the forefront.

  130. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Yes, Gary, but I’m not saying that Gaffin is an FV or NPP proponent. In fact, my point depends on just the opposite: for certain of the more excitable critics (such as Mr. Wilder), the problem is not just these FV roughians who only had 5% of the denom standing up for them on Wed, but rather there is this deeper problem such that generally-respected guys like Gaffin are also questioned. FVers use some “Gaffinesqe” insights to make some of their points. This doesn’t make Gaffin FV, but for Mr. Wilder it does appear to make him a problem in his own right. But perhaps I’m overstating on that last point.

  131. June 15, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Xon
    Tim and I have serious differences over Gaffin,Kline and VanTil-but Lane has requested we not discuss them on his blog.

  132. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Well, that’s good sense from Lane I suppose. I’ll drop the point as well, then.

  133. June 15, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Both Kline and Gaffin were teachers of mine.I met VT in 1978 and spent a great deal of time with him before his death in 87. I took him to hear Gordon Clark lecture at the old Faith theological seminary ,spent many a Thursday evening with a handful of other students in VT home as he answered questions and gave extemporanous lectueres on any subject we brought up. He frequently was a guess in my home.I think very highly of him.

  134. NHarper said,

    June 15, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    The adoption of this report by an overwhelming majority of the GA is truly encouraging. Now it is up to the presbyteries to back up their vote with definitive action. I doubt if Recommendation #3 will ever happen. I have yet to see a criminal step up to the judge and volunteer to confess to his crime. As RC Sproul so aptly stated, the accused “criminal” wants to put himself on the jury – not confess to a crime.

    So, it is up to the presbyteries to take their own to court. Just as a criminal wants to put himself on a jury, I have never seen lawyers take other lawyers to court.
    So, that means there will probably be “due and serious consideration” to forget about Recommendation #4.

    Just as we have “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigarants, we also have “sanctuary presbyteries” who give protection to FV proponents. These presbyteries will not condemn their own, because it will damage the reputation of the entire presbytery since they would be guilty of having approved candidates who hold these nine errors.

    Unless our leaders eat a giant piece of humble pie, I only see more corruption and cover up and impurity.in the PCA church. But, we serve a great God and, as Dr. Aquila reminded us: The gates of hell will not prevail against His beloved church. Eventually in God’s timing, the light will expose the evil deeds of darkness.

    A question: Many classical schools who are accredited and/or are members of the Association of Classical Christian Schools (under Doug Wilson’s leadership) meet and operate in PCA churches. Several have PCA session elders who serve on their boards, as well as teaching elders who act as principals or headmasters. How will they – both the schools and the elders be affected by this report? The ACCS has a philosophy and a statement of faith that all member schools must subscribe to. In addition, teachers and administrators attend ACCS conferences under the teaching of Doug Wilson and CREC teachers and pastors.

    It would seem to me that these schools would have to withdraw their membership or accreditation or else be condemned for error and closed down. Would not the PCA elders who are on the school boards also have to come forward and make known to their courts that they hold views out of accord with the Standards? Are we not hurting the students who attend these schools by exposing them five days a week to teaching that has been identified as error on the vitals of the Christian faith? And, what about PCA parents who enroll their children in PCA ACCS schools? Shouldn’t they be warned and exhorted by their church?

    Perhaps, this is why Mr. Doug Wilson has been especially vitriolic towards the PCA report and the MARS report these last few weeks.

  135. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    And, what about PCA parents who enroll their children in PCA ACCS schools? Shouldn’t they be warned and exhorted by their church?

    On what basis, exactly? Hopefully those parents will be broadly aware of the logic their kids are learning at the schools, and will understand that “guilt by association” is a fallacy.

  136. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 15, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Jon,

    I was glad that you answered my questions. You could have, as you mentioned, just pointed to Horne or Lusk or whoever but I was hoping that you would answer not just because you have a very gracious Internet persona but because (it seems to me) that you have not driven the implications of FV theology into areas where some of these other FV folks have. You start off saying that you don’t believe that the non-elect within the church enter into the ordo salutis but I think that some in the FV do believe this. At least it’s difficult to see how they can avoid this when they are talking about the non-elect being in some sense justified and so on. If it were not for the kind of statements by those such as Lusk which seem to redefine ordo salutis concepts, and were it not for the misunderstandings in the PCA of some of the statements made by FV proponents, I think that there could be much interesting discussion with FV folks over how to exegete passages about falling away and so on. But when Lusk et al make some of these rather alarming statements and then nobody in the FV wants to back away or qualify such pronouncements then the whole FV group gets labeled as a movement that is compromising the gospel. It seems to me that there is quite a bit of diversity among FV proponents but this fact is often lost on those outside the FV looking in.

    I do understand the concern that the FV has about the generic Evangelical concept of “once saved always saved” although like with assurance, it’s my perspective that the Reformed community had a good response before FV came long. I agree with you that the warnings against apostasy and warnings to continue passages do present some exegetical difficulties and I understand why some might think that FV helps to better interpret these passages. But as Vern Poythress likes to point out, no system is going to be without its interpretational difficulties, we will always have some tension in our theological paradigms no matter what system we adopt. I think those who have had problems with FV accept some of these difficulties rather than formulate doctrines in such a way that could potentially bring into question central tenets of Reformed soteriology.

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  137. June 15, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    To Andrew at 130 – just a lurker, so I’ll go back after I post this. Would you cut-and-paste Rusk statements and sources in regards to what he says about justification and the ordo salutis as it relates to non-elect? Thanks. Back to lurking and reading.

  138. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    I think those who have had problems with FV accept some of these difficulties rather than formulate doctrines in such a way that could potentially bring into question central tenets of Reformed soteriology.

    I know you probably didn’t intend too much to be read into that word “potentially”, Andrew, but it strikes me anyway. If you say that FV has the “potential” to undermine “certain tenets of Reformed soteriology”, then I want to agree with you and give yhou a response like the following:

    Sure, maybe it’s got that potential, but as you pointed out (tracing Poythress) all theological systems have their difficulties. And a ‘potential’ to error is not the same as actually committing the error. So, as long as we are careful not to commit that “potential” error(s) you are worred about (undermining whatever central tenet of Reformed soteriology you might have in mind), then we FVers can have our cake and eat it to. Every system has problems, but ours is an improvement on the “TR” system because our system gives us better exegesis on the warning and apostasy passages. If we speak like academics, our theory is able to hold onto all the central elements of Reformed theology that the old theory had, and ours has the advantage of making sense of some “anamolies” that used to plague the old theory. So, our theory is an improvement, though of course there is still some risk with any theory that you might potentially go astray in one direction or another.

    The old-school (circa 2002-2004) response to FV usually ran something like this: “We appreciate the concerns FV men have about x, y, and z, but their cure is worse than the disease because while they address x y and z they end up undermining a b and c which are centrally important to the Gospel/Reformed orthodoxy.” That is actually a stronger claim than what you seem to be saying, Andrew, b/c it constitutes a claim that FV actually (not just potentially) undermines such-and-such. If that claim is true, then FV might just be “fixing” some problems with the TR theory at the expense of screwing up some stuff that the TR theory had right, and the whole thing is either a wash or even a negative transaction overall. But, on your account (again, taking that word “potentially” more seriously than you might have intended), FV fixes some stuff with the TR theory and, in itself, doesn’t have any problems at all. Yes, it has some “potential” problems, but that’s not the same as real problems. So, FV gives us benefits over the TR theory with little cost.

    And, of course, if we want to go back to the older TR claim that FV actually, and not just potentially, undermines this or that central tenet of Reformed soteriology, then we’re back to the “yeah huh, nuh uh” game we’ve been playing for the last five years. I mean, what central tenet is undermined? Sproul told the PCA on Wed. that the debate over the Report was about “justification by faith.” Well, golly, if that’s the case, then I want to vote against FV too. (Seriously, I’m not following Doug Wilson, or anybody else, into a pit!) But, of course, this ir precisely what the FV proponents deny: nothing any FVer has said, from Wilson to Lusk to Wilkins, entails that justificatio sola fide (to Latin it up in honor of all the Sproul books I read in college) is false.

    So, some critics have more modestly backed off the “denies sola fide” claim, and have instead simply pointed out that FV “seems” to “overemphasize” this or that, kinda sorta maybe has the potential to go astray if you look at it a certain way, and so it’s “dangerous”. But, of course, when this is your position, then you’ve at least opened up the possibility that FV, even if it has these potential flaws you name, could end up being a good deal in the long run because of the helpful things it does on the other end of the ledger. That becomes a whole other debate, of course; but the point is that critics need to commit to one or the other. Either the FV is an unequivocal denail of some central tenet, in which case I would agree that whatever benefits it has are probably not sufficient to make it a good deal, or it simply has “tendencies” to deny central tenets, in which case we at least need to consider whether the advantages outweight the risks.

    (A final aside in the spirit of “open line Friday:” what’s with all this concern over “danger” in theology, anyway? God is dangerous. You want to move your little human brain close to Him, get ready for your mind to be blown. Sometimes it might kind of feel like it’s holding together, and other times the dam might break loose. Hey, that’s just how the Creator of the universe rolls. But I don’t understand the attitude that says we have to not develop this particular line of thought over here because doing so might potentially intefere with all the awesome stuff we’ve already put together in that other line of thought over there. Courage, man!)

  139. Tim Wilder said,

    June 15, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Re: 131

    “We appreciate the concerns FV men have about x, y, and z”

    I never liked what the FV said about x, y, and z.

  140. NHarper said,

    June 15, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Xon,

    Parents pay tuition which only helps to endorse this false teaching. Teachers are paid and often required to teach curriculum that has been developed and written by those who hold these errors. Schools pay membership dues to ACCS. They attend conferences and teacher training workshops every year. They, in a very real sense, sponsor these errors. Some of these schools hold chapel services which teach these errors. We are not talking about a mere association – we are talking about brainwashing our children into error.

    Can a PCA church open its doors to Doug Wilson and the ACCS five days a week, and at the same time condemn his views as errors on Sunday? Where is the “logic” in that? And, what kind of message does that send to parents and students?

  141. NHarper said,

    June 15, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Re:132

    I never liked what the FV had to say about any letter in the alphabet! They deny the Gospel from A – Z.

  142. Stewart said,

    June 15, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    NHarper,

    So what is the Gospel? Could you lay it out for us?

  143. Tim Wilder said,

    June 15, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    I noticed that a couple of years or so ago, some FV conferences were being held in Reformed Episcopal churches. If some FV decide not to battle on in the OPC or PCA, would the REC be an attractive alternative for them?

  144. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    That’s b/c you’re not old school, Tim. You’re something else (I don’t have ALL the answers…).

    Mr. Harper, since you’re going to demur from answering Stewart’s question in 135 (cuz who are we kidding?), and please do make a liar of me on that, I’ll just respond to 134 by saying “Nuh uhhhhh.”

    As to 133, if you think Wed’s GA vote was just warming up the engine for the heresy hunting zambroni, and now it’s time to clean off the ice until nothing bearing even the appearance of FV remains in the PCA, then I say good luck with that. Happy hunting!

  145. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Tim 136, maybe for some of them. Many of the FV/BH crowd, as you know, follows Jim Jordan in being incredibly peevish about icons, veneration of objects, etc. And the REC has moved in this direction over the years, and so I think a pretty good number of FVers would not choose to go that route. But some probably would.

  146. Amazed said,

    June 15, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    N HARP er

    Unbelievable – and, what, yank the kids out of ACCS schools and send them to government schools? Would a PCA church prefer that (and that’s not a rhetorical question)?

  147. Tim Wilder said,

    June 15, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Are any FV people going to join Daniel Kirk in the purple hair conversation?

  148. William Hill said,

    June 15, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    “Stewart
    Given Mr.Hill’s posture as reflected on this blog,and especially his less than congenial demonstration of cordiality towards me, the answer is NO. That is like asking Bush to give a one on one interview with Dan Rather.”

    Stewart, it is really no big deal. I was cordial towards Gary and, of course he never saw it. Let us be candid:

    Gary was invited: He declined. Why? Because we mistreated Guy Waters, a personal friend of his. Of course, I didn’t understand that and then asked him to tell me HOW we mistreated him. He never answered. For the record, Gary was never on Covenant Radio. He was invited (twice). We used snippets from a radio interview he gave on the FV issue as a launching point for some FV guys to respond to.

    I told Gary that many anti-FV guys act more like theological yellow-bellies many times than they do scholars. After all, a BAPTIST radio program with 2 hosts that haven’t got clue one what is going on? Oh well, that was my point.
    I told him that the anti-FV guys love to preach to the choir and to try the audience from time to time. Again, nothing.

    After this interchange Gary theatened me…advised me that he was going to go on a smear campaign against Covenant Radio, (“Mr.Hill
    Since you are as rude as you are dense, please be advised that I will do all that I can in the circles that I move in, to minimize your influence.”) Let’s not even talk about who is being rude here. Sure, maybe my “theological yellow-belly” comment was extreme but the point was that we were accused of treating Guy Waters unfair and after we received this accusation we never got an answer as to HOW.

    But it is okay…controversy tends to cause more listeners than it stops. Personally, it doesn’t matter to me if Gary comes on the program. Anyone who has listened to the program knows I have treated EVERY guest fairly and with respect. Oh well…

  149. Xon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    lol probably not. Re-write 138, but replace “Jim Jordan” with “Doug Wilson”, “icons, veneration of objects etc.” with “unbackboned cultural foolishness,” etc.

  150. William Hill said,

    June 15, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    “Mr. Hill
    How can you argue the ‘Reformed Faith’ from Scripture without reference to the confessional definition of what ‘Reformed’ means? You can’t ,and all you are displaying is your pietistic mind-set( that is not intended to be an insult, merely descriptive of an attitude you are displaying).I am sure that some of your FV colleagues will quickly take you aside and fill you in because you are not helping their cause one bit with this line of reasoning.”

    My point, Gary, is that the Bible alone determines the right or wrong of the Reformed faith as it is displayed in the Confession. Are you a historicist? Are you a strict sabbatarian? WEll, that is the Confession and if you are not I guess you are not reformed. Surely you can see that there are elements in the Confession that are certaionly debateable….

    The reformers did not need the Confession. All they had is the Bible and won the day with it all alone. Of course I am fully aware that the Confession was BORJN out of what they did (though I wonder where Calvin would have been on the WCF but that is a different topic for a different day…).

    Sorry, it is not “pious” to say that I will exegete the Bible first and if the Confession agrees with Scripture ok. However, the heart and soul of the Reformed faith is in its total commitment to the Scriptures FIRST and FOREMOST. The Confession is a VERY, VERY distant second.

  151. Sean Gerety said,

    June 15, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Hey, these FVers are really NO CREED BUT CHRIST boys. To think Wilson wasted so much time in his diatribe against the Reformed faith attempting to twist and wrench the Confessional language to fit his false gospel.

    Also, I think we all fully agree that the Confession is a VERY, VERY distant second for all you FV men. Why wouldn’t it be given that it contradicts your false gospel and perverse conditional covenant at EVERY point. If I were you, I wouldn’t want to touch it either.

    FWIW now I see what all the fuss was about at the GA. Why measure your errant and heretical doctrines against these Standards when the Scriptures are so much less confining concerning things like justification and imputation. After all, look what Arminians and papists have been able to do with them. Why, justification by faith and works is easy seeing the Confession writers didn’t even understand James and Paul was writing his letters to unbelievers. LOL :-P

  152. William Hill said,

    June 15, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Learn to read in context son….

  153. June 15, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    I think some FV folks are confused about the nature of discourse in confessional circles.

    We can ask two questions:

    1. Is X doctrine biblical? This may deal with things the confessions may or may not cover. For instance, the issue of women in combat is not dealt with by the confessions.

    2. Is X doctrine confessional? If X is anti-confessional, we then already know that it is anti-biblical, and solves question 1. for us. We don’t necessarily need to answer question 1. by direct exegesis of Scripture.

    If we want to ask if the confessional doctrine is scriptural, that is a whole other topic, and frankly a whole other kind of discourse. The FV seem to have blended all these elements together, as if the same rules applied to both kinds of questions. If the confessions need to be changed, then there exist proper channels to do so, and the proper channels don’t happen to include disturbing and dividing the people of God by teaching and preaching novelties and innovations as ministers and elders in confessionally-Reformed churches, whether it be from the pulpit, pastors conferences, internet radio shows, or blog posts.

    If you are still trying to “find” your own theology, on the other hand, then please do compare the confessions with the Bible. But these developments in the past week involve people who have already made the confessions THEIR confession. Mr. Hill’s statement suggest that those in the latter position need to be acting identically to those in the former scenario.

  154. June 15, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    I would also add that a recourse to answering question 1. by direct biblical exegesis is a rather futile exercise if one cannot even see that doctrine X contradicts the confessions in question 2. If FV is going to be as dense as to not realize that their formulations contradict the Reformed confessions (not just WS, BTW, but also our 3 Forms of Unity, the 2nd Helvetic, the Irish Articles, etc. etc.) then they certainly will not see that their formulations contradict Scripture.

  155. William Hill said,

    June 15, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Worst analysis I have seen to date…

  156. William Hill said,

    June 15, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    C’mon, you cannot be serious! So, then, you have to admit that the Confession is EQUAL to the Bible. You must admit it in order for your argument to be true the Confession PERFECTLY reflects Scripture….

    And it doesn’t…

  157. William Hill said,

    June 15, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Worst yet, some of you TR types think the Confession EXHAUSTS Scripture…

  158. Sean Gerety said,

    June 15, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    I would also add that a recourse to answering question 1. by direct biblical exegesis is a rather futile exercise if one cannot even see that doctrine X contradicts the confessions in question 2. If FV is going to be as dense as to not realize that their formulations contradict the Reformed confessions (not just WS, BTW, but also our 3 Forms of Unity, the 2nd Helvetic, the Irish Articles, etc. etc.) then they certainly will not see that their formulations contradict Scripture.

    Spot on analysis David. Evidently some unstable men think the doctrine of justification is an element in the Confession which is “debatable.” Pathetic.

  159. June 15, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    “You must admit it in order for your argument to be true the Confession PERFECTLY reflects Scripture”

    It by “perfect” you mean accurately (as a summary), then I’d say “you bet.” The fallible words of men can sometimes be accurate and, even, inerrant (most have forgotten the distinction between infallibility and inerrancy). That is why we subscribe to them.

    Set this aside, my argument did not assume such a perfection anyway. As I said, there is a possibility the confessions are wrong, but then we are asking a different question and entering a different sort of debate that we need to go about in a different manner as confessional folks.

    I think the attitude is prevalent, and I detect it in this case, is the idea that the confessions are like mini-systematic theologies that we can be sympathetic to, rather than binding declarations that we confess with our church as being accurate summaries of Scripture. Whether we are strict in our method of subscription or not, the latter must always be the case.

  160. June 15, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    All,

    It seemed a shame to let a thread as long as this go on without getting my oar in, and so let me say just one thing in response to something that Patrick Poole posted above.

    He quotes from our Christ Church minutes with regard to our response to the Burke Shade situation in the PCA some years ago, but my point here is not to argue that issue with Mr. Poole. However, I do think it is necessary to point out that those minutes (with all kinds of sensitive pastoral information in them) were misappropriated in a grotesque way (in effect stolen) by someone who had no right to that information (this person was not Mr. Poole). Since that time those minutes have been used in various ways to attack Christ Church, this being simply the most recent example. I have known Mr. Poole to act with integrity in the past, and I am not accusing him of this sin. But the information he used in his argument above had its point of origin in some very wicked behavior by others, and I would ask him to refrain from using that information in the future.

    As for what that section in the minutes meant, we wouldn’t know until we have applied Prov. 18:17. Would we?

  161. Chris Hutchinson said,

    June 15, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Re. 152. I was wondering why they were Elders Meeting notes, as opposed to Congo Meeting notes. The reported excerpt did seem a bit cryptic (i.e. as if they were internal notes).

    In any case, I was referring to the Burke Shade case as an example of one denomination acting as a court of appeals over against another, per the Frame argument. Of course, every time this is done, one expects that the relationship between the denominations involved would deteriorate accordingly.

  162. Robert K. said,

    June 15, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    Mr. Wilson, just as you’re able to hold to orthodox doctrine without holding to orthodox doctrine you were able to defend yourself in the post above without defending yourself. I havn’t seen this level of genius since I walked into a roomful of undergraduate philosophy majors in the 1980s!

  163. Robert K. said,

    June 15, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    If you want to be FV here is the one most necessary thing you need to know: how to cut up truth and attack it piecemeal.

    Truth: Jesus is God.

    FVist: “is” is interesting here. Jesus “is” God. It doesn’t say, notice, that Jesus “was” or “will be forever” God. It merely says Jesus “is” God. Therefore I agree: Jesus is God. As long as we agree what “is” means here.

  164. Sean Gerety said,

    June 15, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    But the information he used in his argument above had its point of origin in some very wicked behavior by others, and I would ask him to refrain from using that information in the future.

    Assuming Poole’s account is accurate, it seems to me that the church court has already spoken and the CREC ignored what it had to say. That’s all I was able to garner from Mr. Poole’s post. It appears from his account that there has been some very wicked behavior, but stolen minutes seems to be the least of the wickedness.

    BTW are these the minutes in question? http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:5wgRZMDFyBUJ:www.crechurches.org/minutes/2000CREC.pdf+Burke+Shade&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=firefox-a

    Just wondering since they were only a quick google away?

    What I found more interesting was this:

    http://www.presbyteriannews.org/volumes/v5/1/SecretTrial.html

    And particularly this from the above:

    “Presbytery has also found him guilty of the specification that he “has apparently taught that in the sealing aspect of water baptism the Holy Spirit initiates, actualizes, brings about, and causes to occur our saving relationship to Christ.”

    It all makes sense.

  165. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 15, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    Xon,

    I’m responding to post #131 where you say: “Either the FV is an unequivocal denail of some central tenet, in which case I would agree that whatever benefits it has are probably not sufficient to make it a good deal, or it simply has “tendencies” to deny central tenets, in which case we at least need to consider whether the advantages outweight the risks.”

    My response here is that I think that there is a third possibility which is that the tendencies become realities in some FV adherents but not others. As I said to Jon Barlow it also seems to me that this is one of reasons why it is very hard to assess FV. I have heard FV proponents on numerous occasions talk about how the movement is not homogeneous and there are all sorts of variants. So perhaps when one FV proponent talks about a non-elect individual being bound to Christ they just mean that they are part of the life of the church, and since Christ is bound to his church, then this non-elect person is thus bound to Christ in an external sort of way. BUT, maybe when another FV person says that a non-elect individual is bound to Christ they mean that this person has received Christ’s justifying grace in some way although they will ultimately lose this grace. These are two very different concepts to my mind and the second would seem to necessitate a extension of the WCF definition of justification to include those who are justified by Christ’s work but not ultimately glorified. The first FV person is not really saying anything that radical. It appears that the heterogeneity of the FV movement is such that it makes systemization and thus assessment of FV theology difficult for those outside the movement.

    And as a practical matter, I know that there are no shortage of people who have mis-characterized FV, but I think there are also lots of well meaning and careful critics of FV who have been confused by FV. Now if knowledgeable well meaning pastors and theologians are confused I just have to imagine that there are no shortage of laypeople in the FV churches who are confused as well. But of course I’m just speculating here.

    Cheers for now,

    Andrew

  166. pilgrim said,

    June 15, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    I think the answer to why the committee used writings of the FV was sound.
    Many of the things said about FV by its proponents change depending on the audience and day. The writings stand. Unfortunately they are also vague many times. I fail to see how this weakens the PCA, and none of the comments that say it has have convinced me.

  167. Robert K. said,

    June 15, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    Whenever truth is being presented in an on-the-mark way certain types show up out of the woodwork to:

    disrupt, dissuade, disspirit, dispute, dissent, etc.

    Dis, the god of the underworld.

    These same forces sensed the barriers were down in the defense of sound doctrine (i.e. Reformed Theology) and the time was ripe to infiltrate and do what they couldn’t do during the Reformation. This is why they don’t attack Arminian environments or Roman Catholic or what have you. They go where the truth resides and is being presented.

  168. Richard D. Phillips said,

    June 16, 2007 at 12:45 am

    re: 46.

    Regarding Jon Barlow’s suggestion that I may be the source of the supposed plan to oust 80 (or 85?) FV churches from the FV: I have expected to be cited by some as a source for this remark, since I am known to be in Africa now and again. I think I may even have been in Africa when these remarks were purportedly made (bear in mind, though, that Africa is a pretty big place). So for the record, I have never made any such remarks, nor do they make any sense to me. I do not think for a second that there are 80 FV churches in the PCA or that there is any “plan” to oust them. As is usually the case with conspiracy theories, this one far over-rates our organizational competence, to say nothing else.

    Meanwhile, it was enormously encouraging to see the overwhelming stand of the PCA against the NPP and FV. I was not able to attend this year, but I greatly applaud the labors of the committee members and many who spoke so effectively at an important time. The importance of the approval of the PCA study report may be overblown, but I also think it can be underblown. Now, most major Reformed denominations outside of the CREC have issued a firm statement against the FV and NPP. No longer can it be said in the PCA that “we have not spoken on this.” The reality is that this is a big deal, and a cause for praise to God.

    But I expect very few charges to be filed, except perhaps in the case of some who have written most openly against our doctrinal standards. More significantly, this report should prompt great diligence in the ordination of new ministers. If it becomes clear that one will not easily be ordained in the PCA while holding FV teachings, the PCA will have successfully defended itself and its doctrine.

  169. Xon said,

    June 16, 2007 at 12:54 am

    Andrew, thanks for the cordial interaction. The third possibility you suggest just seems like the second possibilty I’d already suggested. If FV has “tendencies” toward some error, then some FVers might commit that error and some might not. This is just how “tendencied” theolgy works,and I don’t know any theological systems that are tendency free. But the FV may still be good and commendable, despite such problematic tendencies, depending on its advantages.

    As for your examples of what different FVers might mean when they talk about a non-elect person being “bound” (I assume you mean “united”) to Christ, I honestly don’t know anyone who would say that non-elect people receive “justifying grace” which they later lose, where “justifying grace” is being used to declare the declaration of righteousness by God that the elect receive. But if we mean something a little different by “justify”….

    You helpfully point out that the first hypothetical FV man is “not really saying anything that radical.” I appreciate you saying this very much! Indeed, all people who are members of the visible church must be “united to Christ” in some sense, since the church is Christ’s body. This is a pretty bear-bones, hard-to-disagree-with kind of idea, but now let’s look at one of those pesky declarations from that FV Report which allowed “the Gospel” to triumph on Wednesday: For in declaration 7 we read:

    The view that one can be “united to Christ” and not receive all the benefits of Christ’s mediation, including perseverance…is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

    See why this declaration is not well worded or helpful? It rules out even the modest “nothing radical” view you mentioned earlier. Dec. 7 says that if you use the phrase “united to Christ” in any way (notice they put the phrase in quotes, so they are not ruling out any particular substantive assertion but rather the phrase “united to Christ” itself) to refer to anyone who does not end up going to Heaven when they die, then you are in violation of the Westminster Standards. Is this really true? How can it be? Yet the delegates on Wed. and voted for this declaration…

  170. Robert K. said,

    June 16, 2007 at 3:40 am

    If you find yourself in the environment of Reformed Theology (i.e. you write about it, read it, have some degree or kind of interest in it) and yet you consider yourself to have a more authentic take on it than John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, Petrus Dathenus, John Calvin, Geerhardus Vos, Louis Berkhof, Herman Witsius, Wilhelmus a Brakel, Thomas Boston, Thomas Watson, Zacharias Ursinus, and the Westminster Divines then you’ve most likely got a screw loose, or you are being gargantuanly mischievous.

  171. William Hill said,

    June 16, 2007 at 5:48 am

    Robert, I understand the point you are trying to make however I am sure that was what the Roman Catholic scholars and theologians said about the Reformers in the 16th century and for those that led up to that point.

    From another source:
    “It’s not hard to imagine a sixteenth-century Cardinal saying, “Dr Luther, we have known since the time of Saint Augustine that iustificare means ‘to make just.’ Are you telling us that we have been wrong for a 1000 years?”

  172. Robert K. said,

    June 16, 2007 at 6:16 am

    Hello, William. The problem with what you imply with your analogy is truth actually exists, and it’s on the side of the theologians I listed, not with 16th century Roman Catholic apologists like the redoubtable Sadoleto.

  173. William Hill said,

    June 16, 2007 at 6:34 am

    I understand that truth exists. What I do not understand is that is seems awefully difficult to argue or convince anyone on the anti-FV side of the quation of the following ddcalrations:

    1. FV proponents, by and large, are absolutely in agreement with WCF Chapter 3 on election as long as we are talking about decretal election which is what the Confession is speaking of in chapter 3. I have spoken with many of the louder propoents about this and they assure me that they have no issue with WCF 3 as it pertains to God’s eternal decree (that the number of the elect are firmly and completely set in stone; that man cannot change the number of the elect because God has established that number in eternity past).

    2. The Bible does not qualify every aspect of election in the terms the Confression does. That is, there is an election to the covenant community that is clearly taught in the pages of the Scriptures. Certainly not all of Israel is of Israel however those who were circumcised in the OT economy were, in fact, joined to the community of God’s people and enjoyed the benefits of this communion as well as the responsibilities of it. In that sense they are joined to God as HIS people. In the NT economy this same issue is raised by baptism. The directory for public worship makes this very clear though I am aware that baptism does not make one regenerate and would resist that position mightily. We baptize our children — why? Because they are Christian. They are Christians in a federal sense; holy and seperated by God and his sovereign decree to place that child in that family. They belong to HIM (that is, they do not belong to anyone else). The child is expected to be taught the precious doctrines of the faith in order to raise them in the nurture and admoinition of the Lord (and not the world). They are to be taught to trust and obey God from their earliest age. Many reformed scholars throughout the ages have made this observation.

    3. It is not anti-confessional to argue for aspects of covenant theology that the Confession does not address in totality. In otherwords, the Confession certainly does not exhaust every nuance of the subject as the Bible argues it.

    4. Much of what the FV proponents teach on election is confessional but where it differs is not in direct contradiction but in the limit and scope of what the Confession teaches. Again, the Confession is simply not exhaustive on every point.

    Now I am sure many will try to argue that what I have set forth here is inaccurate. Keep in mind that I am talking about is “election” here and I am not discussing other aspects and nuances of the FV issue. It should be noted that even the PCA Study Committee Report on the FV made this distinction on “election” on page 2205, line #5. It seems quite clear to me that if the study report mnakes this distinction then they are aware that there is, in fact, a distinction to be made.

  174. June 16, 2007 at 6:50 am

    Mr.Hill
    Your stance on the role and purpose of confessions, especially that of the WS is most disturbing coming from someone who claims to be genuinely Reformed and a self-identified Presbyterian. You are espousing a form of ‘Biblicism’ that is characteristic of groups like the Jehovah Witnesses.I made reference in an earlier comment on another thread on Lane’s blog to one of Old Princeton’s first professors ,Samuel Miller and his very important book, ‘Doctrinal Integrity:The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions and Adherence to Our Doctrinal Standards’. You really ought to read this, and not just you but others in the ranks of the FV, especially Jeff Meyers and Mark Horne who, in a brief exchange with me over at Mark’s blog made similiar statements about the nature of confessional identity. In a rather remarkable twist of irony, Jeff accused me of having a decidedly ‘Romanist’ position because I insisted on a Old School Presbyterian approach to confessional subscription(by the way William, Miller clearly deals with the differences between ‘essentials’ and secondary or tertiary issues like the ones you alluded to) and this made me a ‘traditionalist’ who really did not subscribe to ‘Sola Scriptura’. Nevermind that Jeff’s approach ends up rendering the confession a archaic museum piece that makes it nothing more than a stutifying document that has long since outlived its purpose, the product of 17th century scholasticism( and we have been told ad nauseam what a bogerman that is) and as such totally ‘insuffienct’ in light of all the tremendous advances that have been made in Biblical scholarship( especially the near apostolic labors of NT Wright).This trajectory , if pursued consistantly, will eventually pave a even broader road back to Rome.

  175. William Hill said,

    June 16, 2007 at 7:10 am

    Gary,

    I do not assert that the Confession is “insufficient” though I understand what you are getting at. However, let’s examine the Confession in the light of its historical context:

    1. It was contextually called and derived by Parliament to unite the church of England and Scotland.
    2. It was a compromise document. In that I mean various nuances (stronger or weaker) were rejected or added to allow for a more widespread acceptance between the various parties.
    3. As it was contextually called it also spoke to a time and place and (I doubt) considered the next 400 years of CXhurch history when it was being framed.

    Also, I am espousing a form of “biblicism” akin to the JW’s regardless of your assertion. What I am saying — and have said many times so please get it right this time: The Bible is the final rule of faith, practice, theological issues, arguments, agreements, controversy, etc. IF there is a theological controversy and IF there is a theological disput then the Bible alone must be the final arguing point. That is, it is THERE that we can resolve the matter. The matter cannot be resolved on the Confession ALONE. The problem, as I see it Gary, is that for many (not necessarily you) the Confession is 100 percent exhaustive and correct on all matters it deals with. Would that be your position? Do you take any exceptions to the Confession (I am, of course, speaking of the American Revised version)?

  176. William Hill said,

    June 16, 2007 at 7:11 am

    of course — there should be a NOT in the following sentence:
    Also, I am ***NOT*** espousing a form of “biblicism” akin to the JW’s regardless of your assertion.

  177. June 16, 2007 at 7:34 am

    Mr. Hill
    No one that I know of in the Reformed tradition has ever equated the confessions with Scripture-that is a strawman and does not deserve refutation. Likewise, no one , especially in the Old Princeton tradition that Samuel Miller writes out of, ever said the confession was exhaustive-another strawman.Without wishing to cast aspersion on your grasp of the history of the WS, but you simply do not know what you are talking about if think that anyone of the Westminster Divines labored under those illusions. I would highly recommend a reading of Warfield on the subject, vol.6 of his Works,’The Westminster Assembly and Its Work’.

  178. William Hill said,

    June 16, 2007 at 7:51 am

    Gary,

    I think you are missing my point entirely. If we are going to resolve that the FV issue is out of accords with the Confession (this is what people are stating quite clearly) then HOW do we resolve that? Under what framework do we determine when a theological assertion, issue, controversy or otherwise is outside the Confessional boundry? It seems to me that the Divines at Westminster may have had this under their consideration when they drafted WCF 1.10.

    AS far as my graps of the history of the Confession I can tell you quite plainlt that I am fairly well read up on it. Do I know everything? Certainly not. However, most experts on this matter would agree and argue that the Confession was an “occasioned document” and it was also a “compromise document”. I fail to see how that is something you can outrightly reject, if, in fact, you really do.

    I somewhat agree. It can certainly be a strawman argument as you explained it. However, and as I stated in the above paragraph, if the Confession embodies the Reformed faith and we have a controversy and issue to resolve where do we look? Since the Confession was born out of the 16th century understanding of the Reformation and its system of theology expounded there don’t we have to ultimately go back to the original source? Is this not what the Divines would have wanted us to do? Is this not what they did when Parliament required them to attach Scripture proofs to the body of the Confession? If you assume that the Reformed faith MUST be defined by what the Standards argue (and that is what I have heard you say so correct me if I am wrong) then we have reached the zenith in theology as it pertains to those issues the Standards discuss. Wouldn’t you agree that this would be a logical position IF what you state is true?

    Also, if we are going to have fair interchange then it demands that you answer my questions as I am trying my best to answer yours. In my last comment I asked you if there were any aspects of the Confession that you take exception with or have some trouble with. You either overlooked the question or failed to answer it on purpose. So, I restate the question here and await an answer.

    Do you take any exceptions to the Confession (I am, of course, speaking of the American Revised version)? If so, WHY?

  179. Robert K. said,

    June 16, 2007 at 10:44 am

    “If we are going to resolve that the FV issue is out of accords with the Confession (this is what people are stating quite clearly) then HOW do we resolve that? Under what framework do we determine when a theological assertion, issue, controversy or otherwise is outside the Confessional boundry?”

    Prima facie evidence derived from reading the Westminster Standards and reading what FVists write and say. FVists can deconstruct the WS all they want, but it means nothing to people who are a bit more serious about what they hold to be apostolic biblical doctrine.

    And let’s be honest here. Who here hasn’t come across something said or written by an FVist which made us realize that these guys really just don’t even understand the basics of Federal Theology? And they want to teach. More than that, they want to revise the work of the likes of the people I listed in a comment above…

    Only FVists play the “let’s play pretend” game that reading the Westminster Standards and reading FVist doctrine isn’t prima facie evidence that FVism is out of accord with the Westminster Standards. To anybody with good will towards truth, common-sense, and the ability of language to actually carry meaning FVism is as in accord with the Westminster Standards as the Magisterium in Rome.

  180. Roger du Barry said,

    June 16, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Having followed this whole thing as closely as I can, and speaking as an independent, not a signed up Presbyterian, it is very sad and depressing that so many of the ant-FV believe so firmly that the FV men are deliberately lying, speaking ambiguously, and with multi-forked tongue.

  181. anneivy said,

    June 16, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Jon, I was struck all a-heap by something you said in what is currently comment #113, and have been sorting, mulling, chewing, and in general, cogitating like a crazed person on it ever since.

    It was this observation: “…when one joins the visible church, he is now part of a new society – separated from the world, given a new name (”Christian”), having new social relationships with others, living life in and among the body of Christ, exposed to the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments, subject to receiving brotherly love and favor from other church members, under the discipline of God’s ordained ministers and elders, invited to the Church Christmas party, the pig roast, eating donuts with other members in the fellowship hall after church, having one’s children in Sunday School, having one’s spouse getting training in the Bible and in the ethics of relationships, getting to hear glorious music sung in praise of God, getting to raise one’s hands and pray with the company of other believers, etc.. Now, to me, that is a lot of what salvation is – being a resident of Bethlehem rather than Soddom, living among Yaweh worshippers rather than among Molech worshippers.”

    The part that leapt out at me was “that is a lot of what salvation is”.

    Well. I think we’ve found the disconnect, as I would not classify those things as being in any sense whatsoever “salvation”.

    But what it DID do was bring home to me something that I have doubtless read elsewhere – by Wilkins, I’m thinking – but which hadn’t caused any mental pennies to hit the floor, which is that if one believes there is a lesser, temporal salvation, then there is going to flow from that a lesser, temporal election; a lesser, temporal justification; a lesser, temporal regeneration; a lesser, temporal adoption; and a lesser, temporal sanctification. (If there’s a lesser, temporal glorification, though, I’m missing it.)

    Considering how the FV tends to lessen to the point of obliteration any difference between the OC and the NC, and considering how prevalent in the Old Testament were typologies (is that the appropriate word?), I’m thinking that perhaps the FV views this lesser, temporal ‘golden chain’ to be essentially a typology of the real deal golden chain. Not very elegantly put, but maybe still comprehensible? This regeneration, i.e. the lesser, temporal regeneration effected by baptism, foreshadows that regeneration, i.e. the actual regeneration and new birth given by the Holy Spirit; this justification, i.e. being officially placed in the Church, foreshadows that justification, i.e. what the FV calls the “Final Justification”, and so on.

    I daresay this is an alternate way to explain those verses in Scripture declaring that “you and your children” would be saved so that all one’s children are saved, even though they might still not wind up in glory. If being in the Church is a type of “salvation”, then by golly, everybody in the Church is elect, regenerated, justified, adopted, and being sanctified. In a lesser, temporal sense.

    Is this reasonably close?

  182. Anne Ivy said,

    June 16, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Change #113 to 119.

  183. June 16, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Doug Wilson (#152) warns readers that the information I provided in one of my previous comments (#83) had been purloined. But in fact, those minutes had been posted on the Christ Church website for several years, which is precisely how those documents were obtained. Those documents still exist on several Internet archive sites. I appreciate Doug clarifying that he wasn’t accusing me of stealing those documents, but he has falsely accused others of doing exactly that and attached my name as a beneficiary of that enterprise (thus making me an accessory to the “crime”), when they were actually obtained openly and fairly. He owes someone an apology.

    Following his comments, someone emailed me and accused me of engaging in some suspicious editing of those statements to intentionally make the CREC look bad. But the context makes the Wilsonites look even worse. Here’s the full statement from those freely and openly-obtained minutes:

    “Doug Jones reported that the ad hoc committee concerning Burke Shade recommends that we should not send out the current letter, and that we should wait while Chris Schlect and Doug Jones continue to work through the trial materials, before they make a further recommendation. Doug Wilson reminded the elders that we have already agreed this situation is not a barrier to Burke Shade and his church being accepted into the CRE, and that he has communicated this to Burke. The elders agreed that, further review of the material, the burden of proof is on the committee to overturn our previous decisions, which would only happen if new, clear information against Burke appears. The elders would like a report from the committee by July 27. This recommendation considered as a motion passed.” (Christ Church Elder Meeting Minutes, July 13, 2000, emphasis added)

    Now Doug has stated his intention to argue that this statement means something other than what it says, but what the minutes clearly and unmistakably shows that the decision by the CREC to vindicate Burke Shade, who had been placed under discipline and defrocked by Illiana Presbytery (PCA), was made even before the “ad hoc committee” had even finished reviewing the trial documents. To make matters worse, Illiana Presbytery forwarded the trial transcript to the CREC “only for the purpose of adjudicating Cornerstone’s entry into the CRE Denomination”, not for the CREC to independently revisit Shade’s trial and ignore their discipline. And then they had the audacity to publicly accuse Illiana Presbytery of “blatant trial hypocrisy”! Prov. 18:17 indeeed.

    I would note that I only originally commented on this issue as a correction after someone else had raised it. The only reason I revisit it is because Doug Wilson has attached my name to underhanded dealings, when that’s not the case at all. Will he come back and correct the record?

  184. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 16, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    Xon,

    I’m responding to your post #169 from almost 24 hours ago. It’s been a long Saturday and I’m still trying to prepare for Sunday School tomorrow. I think I need to find an actual example from FV writings to illustrate the concept of justification that I was referring to. Hopefully I can do this tomorrow.

    Andrew

  185. barlow said,

    June 17, 2007 at 12:34 am

    Anne – I hear what you’re saying. Just a few clarifications:

    1. The FV is accused of messing up its theology of the Covenant With Adam / New Covenant. You are talking a bit about the “Old Covenant” and “New Covenant” – something that the FV is not accused of messing up. The WCF says that there is no difference in substance between the Old Covenant and New Covenant. There are some folks who want every reformed person to believe that the “Mosaic Covenant” was a “republication of the covenant of works” but that’s really not something universal in the tradition. So, just to clarify again: FV is said to screw up the difference between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, not the difference between the “old covenant” and “new covenant.” And on this issue, you have expressed views slightly outside of the WCF yourself. It’s not a big deal, but you are emphasizing discontinuities that the WCF does not embrace there between Old and New Covenants.

    2. If being at peace with Jesus and his people isn’t salvation, then I don’t know what is. Of course, being with Jesus and his people now is “already” but “not yet” salvation because there is still sin, hypocrisy, wheats among the tares, goats among the sheep, malaria, AIDS, etc. But the picture of salvation – the thing humans were made for – is walking with God in the cool of the day, working the garden, taking care of it, etc. The communion meal at church is a foretaste of the “wedding supper of the lamb” and all that. So I’m not sure exactly why being in the church isn’t something of what salvation is. Being in God’s family is my whole hope in life, anyway.

    3. Perkin’s Golden Chaine contains the ordo salutis, yes, but it also contains a sequence of events for the non-elect (ordo damnata?). I can scan the chart in if you’re interested, or you could probably google for it. Beza had an earlier chart that was similar.

    4. If you want the most succinct explanation of some of these differences, I would suggest reading the Pacific Northwest Presbytery’s questions and answers given to Peter Leithart:

    http://www.federal-vision.com/pdf/pacific_nw_leithart.pdf

    I think Leithart demonstrates that there is a relational ontology behind a lot of the FV insights – that’s just a fancy way of saying that part of what we are as humans is our relationships. Or, to put another way, there is no “mere association” for humans because our associations change us and are part of who we are in the image of a God who is also a social Trinity.

    Hope this helps somewhat. I really would recommend wading through the PNWP report, though, because it is an interesting read and I always learn something when I read anything Peter Leithart writes; he is a real blessing to have in the PCA.

  186. Robert K. said,

    June 17, 2007 at 1:18 am

    Leithart writes things like this:

    http://www.leithart.com/archives/003029.php

    Stay with the old paths.

  187. Robert K. said,

    June 17, 2007 at 1:20 am

    Barlow wrote:
    “1. The FV is accused of messing up its theology of the Covenant With Adam / New Covenant.”

    That sentence is about as clear as FVists dare to get themselves when putting their cards on the table.

  188. June 17, 2007 at 1:30 am

    “If being at peace with Jesus and his people isn’t salvation, then I don’t know what is. Of course, being with Jesus and his people now is “already” but “not yet” salvation because there is still sin, hypocrisy, wheats among the tares, goats among the sheep, malaria, AIDS, etc. But the picture of salvation – the thing humans were made for – is walking with God in the cool of the day, working the garden, taking care of it, etc. The communion meal at church is a foretaste of the “wedding supper of the lamb” and all that. So I’m not sure exactly why being in the church isn’t something of what salvation is.”

    Because God’s wrath is still upon those in the covenant who are not elect. Romans 2&3 are very specific about this in regard to Israel. We have to get to Romans 5 before the word “peace” is used – and this is in regard to the elect alone.

    I guess you could just as well say that rich people are saved (in some qualified sense) since they live in mansions and living in mansions is “something of what salvation is” since the Father’s house has many mansions.

    This is what this sort of sad sophistry leads us to.

  189. June 17, 2007 at 1:51 am

    “Perkin’s Golden Chaine contains the ordo salutis, yes, but it also contains a sequence of events for the non-elect (ordo damnata?). I can scan the chart in if you’re interested, or you could probably google for it. Beza had an earlier chart that was similar.”

    On the contrary, the loftiest thing Beza grants to NECMs is an “insignificant calling.” And notice in Perkin’s chart that the red line (the elect) forks off from the black line (non-elect) right after the Fall of Adam and State of Unbelief, and there is NO OVERLAP between the elect and non-elect until the two lines re-converge at “Appointed death.” There is ZERO overlap concerning the ordo salutis.

    Prima facie, this is not quite what Wilkins says about NECMs, that they have: “forgiveness of sins, adoption, possession of the kingdom, sanctification.”

    If FV was REALLY just saying the same things that Perkin says on his chart concerning NECMs, there would be no controversy here at all. But anyone who has eyes to see knows that this is not what FV is up to.

  190. June 17, 2007 at 1:52 am

    “The communion meal at church is a foretaste of the “wedding supper of the lamb” and all that.”

    So we can have the sign, but not the thing signified, and this is “salvation”? Why should anyone care about the Federal Vision’s notion of salvation? How is the assurance of any kind?

  191. anneivy said,

    June 17, 2007 at 1:59 am

    Oops. Sorry. I’m not terribly deedy when it comes to the various covenants, I fear. And it’s not to be wondered at that I’m coloring outside the WCF’s lines, since I’ve only read it in chunks and never even the whole thing. Christ Chapel includes bits from the Heidelberg Confession occasionally, but not the WCF. I’m going to do that….read the whole thing. Really. It’s on the list.

    It’s odd that this has become regarded as being something of an old chestnut, but to my mind salvation is spending eternity with Christ. If the road we’re treading doesn’t dump out in glory, it’s not the road to salvation. What’s really rather strange to consider is how the theory of a limited-sense, temporal salvation is actually theorizing a salvation that leads to increased eternal torment, seeing as to whom much is given, much will be required. For the reprobate, temporal blessings, especially those such as being included in the life of the Church, will ultimately be revealed as having been accruing future agony. “Saved” for greater condemnation?

    That’s not exactly “gospel good news”, ISTM.

    It appears to mean there are two possible, and distinct, “salvation” tracks…one that leads to eternal life, and one that leads to eternal death. The decretally elect, of course, are those whose feet are sovereignly set on the track leading to eternal life.

    Searching through the concordance for how “salvation” and “saved” are used in Scripture, a “salvation” that ends with the one “saved” being judged and suffering the wrath of God doesn’t seem to be in there.

    Thank you for the link to the Pacific Northwest Presbytery’s questions-and-answer session with Dr. Leithart. I’ll check it out (though not at 2 a.m., which is when I’m typing this).

    And thank you for the interesting and pleasant discussion, Jon. I’ve enjoyed it. ;^)

  192. June 17, 2007 at 2:26 am

    William hill said: “Under what framework do we determine when a theological assertion, issue, controversy or otherwise is outside the Confessional boundry? It seems to me that the Divines at Westminster may have had this under their consideration when they drafted WCF 1.10.”

    On the contrary, 1.10 explicitly says that the Bible judges the decrees of councils, not whether or not certain doctrines contradict the decrees of councils (confessions). You are still having a hard time distinguishing between the proper method for ascertaining whether certain doctrines are compatible with the confessions and whether certain doctrines found in the confessions are biblical. The latter question is not open to public discussion for folks who are confessional and have sworn to report such scruples with their fellow elders and deal with them accordingly.

    “If you assume that the Reformed faith MUST be defined by what the Standards argue (and that is what I have heard you say so correct me if I am wrong) then we have reached the zenith in theology as it pertains to those issues the Standards discuss. Wouldn’t you agree that this would be a logical position IF what you state is true?”

    This is vague and confused. What does it mean for it to be the “zenith” of theology? We do say that the Standards are correct in what they teach, but this does not mean that there is not MORE from the Bible we can teach beyond what the confessions say. But FV not only says more than what the confessions teach, their teachings contradict the confessions.

    To take only one of many possible examples, Rich Lusk teaches that final justification is by works. Our standards (not just Westminster, BTW, but also the 3FU, in case you want to chide Gary for taking non-essential exceptions with WS on things like historicism or sabbatarianism) say that justification is by faith ALONE. This is not an “addition” to the theology of our standards, but a contradiction of it. It would be like walking into a store that says “no dogs allowed” by explaining to the proprietor that you have a BLACK dog.

    If you want to balk at my example, then please, by all means, please tell us that Lusk’s statements
    were over the line, not representative of Federal Vision theology, and that FV ought to distance itself from such ideas. I will then proceed to congratulate you, William Hill, for being the first FV sympathizer in the history of the world to criticize even the nuttiest, most heterodox statements made by the movement’s representatives. I might even keel over at my computer due to shock, in which case my head will hit the keyboard and my response post will probably be something like:

    sdr[trgkip[o=–]pokljll;’;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

    Apologies in advance.

    Love,

    your friend David

  193. William Hill said,

    June 17, 2007 at 5:02 am

    I wrote: “If you assume that the Reformed faith MUST be defined by what the Standards argue (and that is what I have heard you say so correct me if I am wrong) then we have reached the zenith in theology as it pertains to those issues the Standards discuss. Wouldn’t you agree that this would be a logical position IF what you state is true?”

    Dvid wrote: “This is vague and confused. What does it mean for it to be the “zenith” of theology? We do say that the Standards are correct in what they teach, but this does not mean that there is not MORE from the Bible we can teach beyond what the confessions say. But FV not only says more than what the confessions teach, their teachings contradict the confessions.”

    David,

    Perhaps you need to reread my statement because you basically repeated what I said. Of course we can learn more from the Bible than what the confession discusses because the confession does not discuss everything. I said that (and you would see that if you were in a “discussion mindset” and not an “argumentative mindset”….

    What I mean when I state that we have reached the “zenith in theology as it pertains to those issues the Standards discuss” (please note the qualification) I mean we have maximized our understanding of those subjects the Confession deals with. Put another way, I mean that there is nothing more to gain than what has been taught in a theological sense from those subjects the Divines put down in the 1640’s.

    So, you would say that the Confession is an accurate summary of the Bible and to go against the Confession is the same as going against the Bible? If this is you position I will ask you the same question that I asked GAry (who has yet to answer by the way): Do you take any exceptions to the Confession and if so, WHY?

  194. June 17, 2007 at 7:00 am

    Mr. Hill
    I have directed you to Samuel Miller’s work on the subject of ‘exceptions'(it was reprinted by Presbyterian Hertiage Publications back in 1989, so it shouldn’t be all that difficult to find a copy floating around). But, William, this particular tack you are taking over ‘exceptions’ is a red-herring.You are attempting to change the subject from the role and place of the confession in a theological debate over what is and what is not ‘confessional’ to whether or not exceptions, be they secondary or tertiary are permissible. What you are attempting to do is obvious.-‘Ah,ha!-see Johnson doesn’t follow the WS on calling the Pope the anti-Christ. Why is he given a free pass but FV men are not given the same liberty when they question such things as the bi-coventantal framework of the WS ?’ Again, go read Miller and then get back to me.I will be more than willing to explain any difficulties you might have-even if I have to draw you a picture.

  195. June 17, 2007 at 7:56 am

    #192

    re: the Lusk Link

    Are FV proponents all on the same page as far as what Lusk is saying here, “The law simply did not require perfect obedience” prior to and after the Fall?

  196. Tim Wilder said,

    June 17, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Re: 185

    “You are talking a bit about the “Old Covenant” and “New Covenant” – something that the FV is not accused of messing up.”

    But it is accused of that, both of “covenant leveling” and reversing type and anti-type.

  197. Tim Wilder said,

    June 17, 2007 at 9:14 am

    Re: 191

    “It’s odd that this has become regarded as being something of an old chestnut, but to my mind salvation is spending eternity with Christ.”

    Salvation is the restoration of God’s creation purposes. This includes the restoration of the eschotological creation purposes, but is not limited to those. Also saying the restoration of the eschotological creation purposes is not the same thing as saying the eschotological restoration of the creation purposes.

    Secondly, the restoration of God’s creation purposes in salvation is not two-track. In other words, the people, such as some Kuyperians, who separate a common grace purpose of God onto one track, and a special grace purpose of God onto another track, are wrong.

    Because salvation is a restoration of God’s creation purposes, the FV is wrong to use salvation language before the Fall. The FV people have a tendency to see salvation, grace, and accomplishment as all the same thing, but accomplishment through restoration after the fall is fundamentally changed (including order in which things happen) from accomplishment before the fall though obedience.

  198. anneivy said,

    June 17, 2007 at 10:05 am

    Actually, I’m not any more keen on the notion that salvation is the restoration of God’s creation purposes than I am of it being a member of the visible Church.

    Going through the same verses as before, I’m trying to see where “restoration of God’s creation purposes” could be subbed for “saved” or “salvation”.

    And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are restoring God’s creation purposes?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
    ===
    And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to restore God’s creation purposes?”
    ===

    Doesn’t fit any better than Jon’s.

    I’m certainly not saying that God is NOT restoring His creation, for there’s no doubt but that’s true, and He is. But that doesn’t mean it’s the most Scripturally accurate definition of “salvation”.

  199. Tim Wilder said,

    June 17, 2007 at 10:20 am

    In #199 Barlow says (speaking of R.S. Clark)

    “Further, he has a very tight criteria for what constitutes a proper way to express imputation. He sees imputation as something God does by fiat – he just decrees to see us in the righteousness of Christ. The problem with this view is that it raises the question of why God could not simply decree to see us as righteous apart from Christ. (Certainly Aquinas would concur with that.) The Murray / Gaffin / Union with Christ / FV approach is to say that God sees us in Christ’s righteousness because he actually unites us to Christ; that’s where the ballgame kicks off from, a living connection to the living Christ. The means of imputation, according to Clark, is fiat. The means of imputation, according to the FV, is union with Christ. Even if you want to view all the FV guys as heretics, I just would caution my brothers and sisters in Christ to think hard about assuming that someone like Clark has all the answers simply because he has the right foes.”

    I would like to put a question here. Would you agree with the following quotation?

    The source of the quote is W. Heyns, Manual of Reformed Doctrine, p. 253, English edition of 1926. Heyns was known as the father of the conditional covenant, and was the great opponent of Herman Hoeksemsa. Barach likes Heyns.

    “…we must call attention to the fact that the implanting in Christ through faith is not the initial implanting in Him. It is preceded by being in Christ by virtue of being elected in Him, and by being in Christ in virtue of the Covenant of Grace. In the relation to Christ in virtue of election lies the judicial ground on which faith can be given; and in the relation to Christ in virtue of the Covenant of Grace, in virtue of having become partakers of the root and the fatness of the olive tree lies the ethical ground, because of which such faith is possible, since in consequence of it the objects of the implanting in Christ through faith are not apart from Him but already in Him as branches of the True Vine.”

    “The fruit of the implanting in Christ through faith is, that now the organic unity with Christ is fully established, so that they who were already members of the body of Christ henceforth show themselves members in whom the Spirit dwells, that they who were already branches in the True Vine henceforth show themselves fruitful branches, and that they become branches that will never be broken off, never be taken away and cast into the fire.”

    In the above quotes Heyn argues from decretal union, and covenantal union to a consequent organic union by faith.

  200. Tim Wilder said,

    June 17, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Re: 198

    You have switched the passive to active. The jailer was not asking what he must do to be the savior.

  201. William Hill said,

    June 17, 2007 at 11:41 am

    You know, Gary, discussing anything with you is become rather taxing and I am beginning to question my time spent on this venture. At the end of the day neither one of us is going to change our minds but you won’t even engage in civil discussion. For instance:

    “What you are attempting to do is obvious.-’Ah,ha!-see Johnson doesn’t follow the WS on calling the Pope the anti-Christ.”

    I asked you if you take any exceptions to the Confession and qualified it by stating that I was referring to the American Revised version that most Denominiations in the United States and N.America hold to, which deletes that particular area. Instead of answering my question you side-step it with a ascription of motive. So, either decline to answer it or answer it but don’t be so obtuse.

    “Why is he given a free pass but FV men are not given the same liberty when they question such things as the bi-coventantal framework of the WS ?”

    CAN it be questioned is a legitimate question and if so, HOW and by WHAT authority is it to be questioned? How do we decide with any finality that the Confession is CORRECT when it makes this assertion? C’mon Gary, this is really not a tough question.

    “Again, go read Miller and then get back to me.I will be more than willing to explain any difficulties you might have-even if I have to draw you a picture.”

    Such arrogance. Do you wish to argue or discuss? Let me know. Frankly, Gary, I have read MANY books of a theological nature on the Confession including numerous papers, etc. No, I have not read this particular book and perhaps I will but I am quite certain you do not need to draw me a picture.

    Now, simply answer my questions or decline to answer. Either way, it is not like I am going to change your perspective on this nor are you going to change mine. However, I do know one thing. We both cannot be right.

  202. NHarper said,

    June 17, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    When the jailer asked what he must do to be saved, he was asking what must he do to be regenerated or born again. Regeneration means, that change of heart and nature which a man goes through when he becomes a true Christian.

    I think that there can be no question that there is a huge difference among those who profess and call themselves Christians. Beyond all dispute there are always two classes in the visible Church – the class of those who are Christians in name and form only, and the class of those who are Christians in deed and in truth. All were not Israel who were called Israel, and all are not Christians who are called Christians. In the visible church, evil will be ever mingled with the good.

    The problem with the Federal Vision is that this view basically wants to teach that a person can be a truly saved and truly a Christian in form only, without having a change of heart and nature. The Bible calls this having a form of godliness but denying its power.

  203. NHarper said,

    June 17, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Re: 142
    “What is the Gospel”?
    The tone and attitude of your question along with your other comments sounds more like that of Pontius Pilate.

  204. NHarper said,

    June 17, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Re: 146 Amazed

    Are you saying that PCA churches have to take the “lesser of two evils” and choose to keep the ACCS schools? Is that what these schools have now become – the lesser of two evils? I believe there are other positive alternatives out there.

  205. anneivy said,

    June 17, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Re: #200

    I don’t think it works any better in the passive than it does in the active, though.

    “But when He saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?'”

    “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…”

    Surely this is the “saved” that the jailer had in mind? “Sirs, what must I do to be saved from the wrath to come?”

    That makes sense, and fits with the most common use of the term.

    It distresses me to see the underlying reason for Christ’s warning “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” be shoved to the back of the theological bus, so to speak.

    No, it’s not theologically highbrow, but Scripture is saturated with references to a “Flee from the wrath to come” salvation. Luther wasn’t in anguish over whether or not he was in the Church or helping to restore creation to its original state…he was in anguish for he didn’t see how he was going to avoid hell.

    Sometimes I think current Reformedom could stand a refresher course in Christianity 101, rather than trying to outdo each other in finding ways to effectively disparage “Flee from the wrath to come!” salvation as both a personal goal and an evangelistic message.

  206. David Gadbois said,

    June 17, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    “So, you would say that the Confession is an accurate summary of the Bible and to go against the Confession is the same as going against the Bible? If this is you position I will ask you the same question that I asked GAry (who has yet to answer by the way): Do you take any exceptions to the Confession and if so, WHY?”

    As a member of the URC I subscribe to the 3 Forms of Unity, which all members are required to subscribe to without exception.

    Although I imagine that if I were in a Westminster Standards church, the only exception I would take would be on the Sabbath chapter. But then I would not be fundamentally saying anything different than I do now – the Standards are accurate to Scripture insofar and to the extent that I have subscribed to them.

    But since in most confessional presbyterian circles soteriological issues are not on the table as allowed exceptions, I’m not sure what relevance your question has here.

  207. Tim Wilder said,

    June 17, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Re: 205

    “I don’t think it works any better in the passive than it does in the active, though.”

    Well, try it your way. The jailer says: “Sirs, what must I do so that in the sweet by and by we shall meet on that beautiful shore?” Make better sense?

    “Surely this is the “saved” that the jailer had in mind? “Sirs, what must I do to be saved from the wrath to come?””

    No. The jailer knew he had people in his jail who claimed to be messengers from some god. He took it from the earthquake that the Divine Power was offended. The divine punishment had come down on him and his jail, not on the judges. He was in the middle of a crisis because the wrath had already arrived.

  208. Anne Ivy said,

    June 17, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    The resurrection of creation is certainly something to anticipate with excitement and eagerness, but I’m thinking the awareness is being lost that the crown jewel in creation – barring Jesus, the God-Man – is us. Humanity wasn’t exactly an afterthought, for crying out loud.

    As the prophet Zechariah said: “For thus says the LORD of hosts, “After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” (2:8 )

    Jesus anguished over the fate of Jerusalem. The LORD said through Ezekiel: “Say to them, ‘ As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'”

    I’m quite well aware that the salvation of mankind is not, in fact, the ultimate driving force behind the redemption story. It’s the love story between the Father and the Son, with the Father giving a people to His Son as His own possession, and the Son obeying His Father even unto death.

    But unless we’re going to reach up into that theological stratosphere, we need to keep our focus on what the LORD provided in His Word regarding what salvation is, i.e. that He sent His Son to live and die so those sinners who repent and turn to Him in faith may live with Him for all eternity.

    Now THAT is ‘gospel good news.’

  209. barlow said,

    June 17, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Tim – I’d need to read more Heyn before being able to evaluate a few paragraphs; I’ve never even heard of him, just outside of my reading; I’ll put him on the list. The problem with evaluating the quote is that I would need to get more of a feel for his use of terminology.

    Anne – thanks for the interaction!

  210. Xon said,

    June 17, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    But since in most confessional presbyterian circles soteriological issues are not on the table as allowed exceptions, I’m not sure what relevance your question has here.

    Because almost any discussion can be misconstrued as a debate about “soteriological issues”, so the distinction by itself (soteriological vs. all the rest) doesn’t help much in this particular whatever-it-is-we’re-doing.

    For instance, do Lutherans and the Reformed (generally) agree on every jot and tittle about justification? No, they have disagreements here or there on this or that. But justification clearly is a “salvation” doctrine, and so thus confessional Lutherans and confessional Presbyterians actually disagree over “soteriological issues,” which means that at least one of them must be heretics since “soteriological issues” are non-negotiable. That sort of reasoning doesn’t work.

  211. Chris Hutchinson said,

    June 17, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    Xon,

    Can you cite a creedal example where Lutherans and the Reformed disagree on justification? Just curious, since this assertion is often made but rarely backed up.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  212. David Gadbois said,

    June 17, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    “But justification clearly is a “salvation” doctrine, and so thus confessional Lutherans and confessional Presbyterians actually disagree over “soteriological issues,” which means that at least one of them must be heretics since “soteriological issues” are non-negotiable. That sort of reasoning doesn’t work.”

    Depends on what we mean by “non-negotiable.” We don’t let Lutherans into our pulpits, do we? We don’t call them Reformed, do we?

    Even if you can identify some nuances in difference between the Lutheran and the Reformed on the issue of justification, their doctrine is still within the pale of reformational orthodoxy (they affirm sola fide, forensic nature of justification, etc.)

  213. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 17, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    Xon,

    I’m going way back to #169. If you want to respond that’s fine but no problem if you don’t. I just couldn’t respond before now.

    OK, so you write in your response, “As for your examples of what different FVers might mean when they talk about a non-elect person being “bound” (I assume you mean “united”) to Christ, I honestly don’t know anyone who would say that non-elect people receive “justifying grace” which they later lose, where “justifying grace” is being used to declare the declaration of righteousness by God that the elect receive. But if we mean something a little different by “justify”….”

    This puzzles me a little because I was just trying to state what I’ve heard the FV folks say quite a bit about covenant members (elect and non-elect), that they have been justified, adopted, etc in some sense. Minich’s summary of FV (which I assume I can quote because FV folks distribute it) says, “Assurance of salvation (being-in-covenant), then, is not based on a subjective search for moral virtues that manifest a hidden regeneration. Rather, all members of the church can trust that, as Paul attributed the blessings of salvation to congregations in general, so we may consider ourselves forgiven, saved, elect, justified, etc. if we are visible members of the church of Christ. As a consequence, the apostate falls from true “blessing of the covenant, including the forgiveness of sins, adoption, possession of the kingdom, sanctification,” etc. [34] The FV argues that one may identify Christians as we would citizens of any other nation; membership is not akin to expressing agreement with an ideology. In an exclusively ideological group, apostasy becomes the acid test that reveals that one “didn’t really” adhere, and thus was never really a member. Those who fall from the covenant, “in some sense…were really joined to the elect people, really sanctified by Christ’s blood, and really recipients of new life given by the Holy Spirit.” [35] The phrase “objectivity of the covenant” [36] captures this FV emphasis.

    OK, so this concept is what I was trying to summarize. Decretally non-elect and well as elect are bound to Christ and are justified in some sense (I said they receive justifying grace). The non-elect entering in some sense into the ordo salutis seems to be a major point of contention between the two sides. I think that my point was that not everyone who sympathizes with FV pushes it this far. The fact that formulating theology in the FV manner of thinking not only could lead to error but has lead to error (assuming for the moment that ascribing ordo salutis benefits to the non-elect covenant member is an error) has convinced those outside the FV listening to the debate not to speak of non-elect covenant members as being bound to Christ in any way. My contention is that had the FV not tried to apply concepts of justification, adoption, etc (however nuanced) to those who will never be glorified, there never would have been any concern about talking about the non-elect being bound to Christ in a purely external covenant. If the non-elect are part of the visible church and Christ is bound to his church then there is an external sense the non-elect covenant member is bound to Christ. This is really just an exercise in logic. But those outside FV when listening to such a statement don’t want to formulate things in such a way that it could be interpreted as an FV error (again just assuming for the moment that ascribing components of ordo salutis to the non-elect is error) so they stay away from stating things in this manner.

    Hope that’s clear.

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  214. Xon said,

    June 17, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Andrew, I think your summary of FV in #213 is fair. Notice all the occurrences of “in a sense.” In a sense, both non-elect and elect covenant members are justified. Yes, that’s an FV position. But this meshes well with what I said in # 169. There I said that no FVers believes that the non-elect receive justifiying grace, “where “justifying grace” is being used to declare the declaration of righteousness by God that the elect receive.” I was just trying to clarify something you had said in 165 by pointing out a sense in which no FV person would say that the non-elect are justified. This lines up nicely with your summary in 213 that FVers believe that the non-elect are justified “in a sense.” Yes, they are justified in a sense, but that sense is not the same sense as that in which the elect are justified.

  215. June 18, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Mr. Hill
    Your anger at me and other critics of the FV is misdirected. I first noticed this animosity shortly after The RPCUS issued it’s assessment of the FV and NT Wright( one prominent FV called them “a pen of swine”).Then with Guy Waters’ book critiquing the FV.Waters was treated with seething contempt, with one FV , reminscience of the Ayatollah Khomeini calling for the death of the arthur of the book,’Satanic Verses’ because it casted doubt on the sanity of Mohammed ,publically calling for the judgment of God on fall on him. Next on the recieving end of the FV ire came the faculty of Westminster seminary Calif. and the book edited by Scott Clark, followed by the book I co-edited with Guy Waters. Bad as this was ,it was nothing compared to the loathing directed towards the members of both the OPC and PCA study committees. But, what you are displaying William is really the most revealing- you are directing your animosty not only at the critics of the FV which I have listed, but at the real source for the FV anguish- the Westminster Standards. To his credit Norman Shepherd not to long ago ,candidly suggested that the OPC should cease using the WS and switch to the Three forms of Unity( I think the case can be, and has been maded ,that Shepherd’s views are not compatible with any of the Reformed confessions, including the Three Forms of Unity). Jeff Meyers is on record calling the WS the by product of 17th century schlasticism and , this is his word,”insufficient” for Presbyterians today. You have interviewed FV like Meyers on your radio program and you accept at face value what they tell you.This is fairly common. We all tend to readily imbibe the positions of people we admire, especially if they have more expertise in a field of study than we have, but in this case William, you were sold a bogus bill of goods, and it is the FV crowd who you should be upset with for filling your head with this distorted understanding of the WS.

  216. Xon said,

    June 18, 2007 at 9:29 am

    On the contrary, the loftiest thing Beza grants to NECMs is an “insignificant calling.” And notice in Perkin’s chart that the red line (the elect) forks off from the black line (non-elect) right after the Fall of Adam and State of Unbelief, and there is NO OVERLAP between the elect and non-elect until the two lines re-converge at “Appointed death.” There is ZERO overlap concerning the ordo salutis.

    Right, but how are the two non-overlapping paths described in those charts, David? They are described using many similar terms as the “ordo salutis.” Faith, repentance, etc. A permanent faith vs. a temporary faith, and the two faiths are “on different paths” from the beginning. Sounds perfectly consistent with the “relational ontology” way of speaking that many FVers are using to describe these things.

    As opposed to what many TRs are doing, which is to say that no, the non-elect doesn’t have faith in any sense. If you end up going to Hell, then it just wasn’t really faith, sorry. You either have it completely and forever or you don’t have it at all. That notion is inconsistent with these old Reformed charts.

    To take only one of many possible examples [of FVers substantively contradicting the Confessions, xrh], Rich Lusk teaches that final justification is by works. Our standards (not just Westminster, BTW, but also the 3FU, in case you want to chide Gary for taking non-essential exceptions with WS on things like historicism or sabbatarianism) say that justification is by faith ALONE. This is not an “addition” to the theology of our standards, but a contradiction of it. It would be like walking into a store that says “no dogs allowed” by explaining to the proprietor that you have a BLACK dog.

    And what does Lusk mean when he speaks of a “final justification acc. to works?” It is obvious from his writings (both his earlier and his more qualified versions; I don’t think he’s ever been unclear on this point) that he is referring to the final judgement, when each of us will be judged according to what we have done as both the Bible AND the Confession so plainly state. A judgement from God…hmm, sounds like “courtroom”/forensic talk. A forensic delcaration of righteousness = a “justification.”

    Now, in the WS the word “justification” is not used to describe the final judgement acc. to works, but this is only a slight modification for Lusk to make, and I think it makes good sense. Lusk is abundantly clear, though, that it is only in Christ that we can stand before this final judgment. Because we were justified by faith all along (definitive justification), we have also been sanctified, which means that when we stand before the Final Judgment we DO have works that can be favorably judged since we are “in Christ” and have been conformed by the Spirit of Christ into His image and since although these works fall short of perfection (obviously!) their shortcomings also are covered “in Christ.”

  217. Xon said,

    June 18, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Oops! Trying again:

    On the contrary, the loftiest thing Beza grants to NECMs is an “insignificant calling.” And notice in Perkin’s chart that the red line (the elect) forks off from the black line (non-elect) right after the Fall of Adam and State of Unbelief, and there is NO OVERLAP between the elect and non-elect until the two lines re-converge at “Appointed death.” There is ZERO overlap concerning the ordo salutis.

    Right, but how are the two non-overlapping paths described in those charts, David? They are described using many similar terms as the “ordo salutis.” Faith, repentance, etc. A permanent faith vs. a temporary faith, and the two faiths are “on different paths” from the beginning. Sounds perfectly consistent with the “relational ontology” way of speaking that many FVers are using to describe these things.

    As opposed to what many TRs are doing, which is to say that no, the non-elect doesn’t have faith in any sense. If you end up going to Hell, then it just wasn’t really faith, sorry. You either have it completely and forever or you don’t have it at all. That notion is inconsistent with these old Reformed charts.

    To take only one of many possible examples [of FVers substantively contradicting the Confessions, xrh], Rich Lusk teaches that final justification is by works. Our standards (not just Westminster, BTW, but also the 3FU, in case you want to chide Gary for taking non-essential exceptions with WS on things like historicism or sabbatarianism) say that justification is by faith ALONE. This is not an “addition” to the theology of our standards, but a contradiction of it. It would be like walking into a store that says “no dogs allowed” by explaining to the proprietor that you have a BLACK dog.

    And what does Lusk mean when he speaks of a “final justification acc. to works?” It is obvious from his writings (both his earlier and his more qualified versions; I don’t think he’s ever been unclear on this point) that he is referring to the final judgement, when each of us will be judged according to what we have done as both the Bible AND the Confession so plainly state. A judgement from God…hmm, sounds like “courtroom”/forensic talk. A forensic delcaration of righteousness = a “justification.”

    Now, in the WS the word “justification” is not used to describe the final judgement acc. to works, but this is only a slight modification for Lusk to make, and I think it makes good sense. Lusk is abundantly clear, though, that it is only in Christ that we can stand before this final judgment. Because we were justified by faith all along (definitive justification), we have also been sanctified, which means that when we stand before the Final Judgment we DO have works that can be favorably judged since we are “in Christ” and have been conformed by the Spirit of Christ into His image and since although these works fall short of perfection (obviously!) their shortcomings also are covered “in Christ.”

  218. Xon said,

    June 18, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Bad as this was ,it was nothing compared to the loathing directed towards the members of both the OPC and PCA study committees.

    Oh, Gary, you’re so melodramatic…

  219. June 18, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Xon
    You know full well that Gaffin was vilified( he told me that he was called all sorts of unflattering names-‘turn coat’, ‘back stabber’ were two of the less offensive) .Lig Duncan, in particular, has been demonized. The mantra that the pro FV crowd beat like a drum was that the PCA study committee’s report was ‘biased’ because the committee was ‘stacked ‘by that villianious Domimic Aquia, and most often slur heard leading up to GA, the report was ‘unscholarly’.Melodramatic? More like Jack Webb’s, ‘Just the facts, Sir.’

  220. Xon said,

    June 18, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Words like “biased”, “unscholarly” hardly qualify as demonizations, hence my claim that you are being melodramatic.

    Gary Coleman: You, sir, are a heretic! You deny that all African-American little people actors are equal.

    Emmanuel Lewis: I beg your pardon, but I not deny this in the least. I think you’ve misunderstood something I’ve said.

    GC: Well, I wrote this article demonstrating your errors from your own writings.

    EL: Yes, I know the article you’re talking about. Again, I think that article was full, unfortunately, of misunderstandings.

    GC: Hey! Why are you attacking me? Would you like it if I demonized you? Ever since I wrote this article, in which I oh so humbly argue that a whole bunch of people are heretics who deny the Gospel and are probably leading tons of people into Hell if they aren’t going there themselves, these people I said this about have been attacking me viciously!…

    I’d suggest that this conversation belongs in Wonderland (as in Alice), or nowhere at all. And not just b/c of who the participants are..

    As to what Gaffin was called by who, actually I have no knowledge of that whatsoever. If he was honestly called nasty names by identifiable FV people, then of course that’s bad and I stand with you in condemning said people.

  221. William Hill said,

    June 18, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Gary,

    Who said anything about being “angry”. Frankly, you sound quite angry. And that logic you employed about “friends” and all that, could easily be applied to you as well.

    Since you have never answered my questions (do you take any exceptions to the Confession AND how did Covenant Radio mistreat Guy Waters) I really have nothing more to say to you.

  222. June 18, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Xon said “As opposed to what many TRs are doing, which is to say that no, the non-elect doesn’t have faith in any sense. If you end up going to Hell, then it just wasn’t really faith, sorry. You either have it completely and forever or you don’t have it at all.”

    Wrong. We affirm a temporary faith, but this faith is not true faith but rather spurious. It is qualitatively different, not just chronologically differing, as our position can be summarized by the Canons or Dort:

    [We reject those] Who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.

    For Christ himself in Matthew 13:20ff. and Luke 8:13ff. clearly defines these further differences between temporary and true believers: he says that the former receive the seed on rocky ground, and the latter receive it in good ground, or a good heart; the former have no root, and the latter are firmly rooted; the former have no fruit, and the latter produce fruit in varying measure, with steadfastness, or perseverance.

    “They are described using many similar terms as the “ordo salutis.” Faith, repentance, etc. A permanent faith vs. a temporary faith, and the two faiths are “on different paths” from the beginning.”

    “Similar terms” isn’t good enough to get the FV project where it is trying to go. If there are “similar terms”, I ask you, Xon, ‘so what?’ Xon, honestly, do you think there would be any controversy if FV was just saying what Perkin’s chart says, that the non-elect can have:

    1. a calling not effectual/yielding to non-effectual call
    2. general illumination
    3. temporary faith
    4. a taste
    5. zeal

    Xon, I have a feeling you are trying to get us to take our eyes off the ball, but I’ve been paying attention. Wilkins insists that NECM’s have “forgiveness of sins, adoption, possession of the kingdom, sanctification.” This is CRAZY.

    And even a cursory look at the chart shows that there are a great deal of ontological differences between ECMs and NECMs, so this matter cannot simply be explained by relational or teleological ontology.

  223. Xon said,

    June 18, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    We affirm a temporary faith, but this faith is not true faith but rather spurious. It is qualitatively different, not just chronologically differing

    So do “we.” That’s what I just said. (Though I might quibble with your insistence on calling the temporary faith “false” and “spurious.” This makes it sound like it’s “fake” faith, i.e. just something that looks like faith but isn’t really faith at all.) So what’s the problem?

    Xon, honestly, do you think there would be any controversy if FV was just saying what Perkin’s chart says,

    Absolutely, if the critics are misunderstanding FV statements and interpreting them in ways that they were not intended and do not have to be interpreted. Which, as I recall, is a claim that FVers have been making throughout the entire history of this discussion going all the way back to the RPCUS condemnation in 2002. (So much so that TRs get sick of us saying it, but yet then when you try to figure out how there could be a controversy if my presentation of FV views is reasonably accurate you are at a complete loss. Connect the dots, man!)

    In all seriousness, I am not claiming that FV is precisely equivalent to Perkins’ chart. But, before I say more about that, please notice that you anti-FV guys are not united on all this stuff. There are a number of critics of FV who deny (or have denied), straight up the middle, that the non-elect ever have any faith at all. Now, when I defend FV against that charge, you tell me that I’m missing the point, and you helpfully try to redirect my attention to your take on what “the point” really is. That’s fine, but you’re not the only anti-FV person we have to respond to.

    (All these mutually confusing and exclusive accounts of where FV has gone wrong, and yet everyone is “sure” that we’ve “denied the Gospel” somehow. Just can’t explain it in a way that all of you can agree to that is also an accurate depiciton of FV views. But we should blame FV itself for this failure, not its critics. It denies the Gospel, and our inability to articulate exactly how is just a further evidence against those nefariously unclear FVers themselves…)

    But as to Perkins’ five things that you mention:

    1. a calling not effectual/yielding to non-effectual call
    2. general illumination
    3. temporary faith
    4. a taste
    5. zeal

    You say that these are drastically different than the “forgiveness of sins, adoption, possession of the kingdom, sanctification” that Wilkins mentions (based on his direct reading of various passages of Scripture). I agree they are not quite the same, and I’m not claiming that FV is “Perkinism” (in fact, far from it). What I am pointing out is just that there is a long Reformed tradition of outlining the expreience of both the elect and the non-elect within the covenant using some pretty “strong” ordo salutis terms. Perkins doesn’t use terms like “sanctification” specifically, but we’ve argued at length than it’s a Biblical slam dunk that we can do this. (All children with at least one believing parent are, in some sense, sanctified.) I would say the same thing about “forgiveness of sins” and “adoption”: Perkins does not mention these specifically and so FV can be seen as going beyond Perkins in this regard, yet there’s nothing all that crazy about what FV is saying. The Bible itself speaks of someone getting forgiven and then not being forgiven anymore, etc. And believing this does not in any way contradict the traditional Reformed ordo salutis going only to the elect, unless you frontload “forgiveness” with some technical definition that can only apply to the elect.

    Regarding a “possession of the kingdom,” I think this follows pretty easily from the Perkins list, whether he uses that paritcular phrase or not. To have been gifted with a gen illumination and zeal for the things of God, to receive a taste of the Spirit and the blessings that are found in Christ, is to come into God’s kingdom in a very real sense. Though you won’t be staying.

    And even a cursory look at the chart shows that there are a great deal of ontological differences between ECMs and NECMs, so this matter cannot simply be explained by relational or teleological ontology.

    This is a complete non-sequitur or I have badly misunderstood you. “Relational” or teleological ontology is not at odds wtih there being ontological differences b/w ECMs and NECMs. So I’m just not following you here.

    Finally, I’m not trying to take anyone’s eye off the ball, and I don’t appreciate the accusation. Why can you not just assume that I am sincerely representing things as I understand them? You may think me wrong, but please stop insinuating that I am being deliberately sophistic/obtuse/diversionary.

  224. June 18, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Post 212: >
    FYI. The forthcoming 2007 issue of The Confessional Presbyterian journal will have the following article: The Westminster Standards and Confessional Lutheranism on Justification. By J. V. Fesko, Ph.D. See http://www.cpjournal.com for more information and to subscribe online (we just revamped the site too! :-) ).

  225. June 20, 2007 at 2:44 am

    “(Though I might quibble with your insistence on calling the temporary faith “false” and “spurious.” This makes it sound like it’s “fake” faith, i.e. just something that looks like faith but isn’t really faith at all.) So what’s the problem?”

    The “faith” of the unbeliever is not a first-order belief, so it is spurious.

    “All these mutually confusing and exclusive accounts of where FV has gone wrong, and yet everyone is “sure” that we’ve “denied the Gospel” somehow. Just can’t explain it in a way that all of you can agree to that is also an accurate depiciton of FV views. But we should blame FV itself for this failure, not its critics.”

    My arguments may differ from Lane’s (or Guy Water’s or Gary Johnson’s), but they are hardly exclusive of their arguments. If you exclude our Reformed Baptist friends (like Anne, God bless her) and John Robbins, you’ll find a fair amount of uniformity in the opposition.

    If some individual accounts have not been exactly accurate on FV views, I must insist that FV is partially responsible.

    “What I am pointing out is just that there is a long Reformed tradition of outlining the expreience of both the elect and the non-elect within the covenant using some pretty “strong” ordo salutis terms.”

    “Temporary faith” is NOT an ordo salutis term. It is qualitatively different from saving faith (not just in duration). “General illumination” is different from effectual preaching and hearing. And sanctification of the elect is not the same thing as “federal holiness” we speak of in regard to children in the covenant. Both have a base meaning of “set apart-ness”, but the set-apartness is in different categories (the former dealing with the mortification of sin by faith, the latter dealing with being set apart from the world under the ministrations of the church).

    You seem to think that mere similarities justify all of the smearing together of concepts that FV does. God rewards our good works, so that “sounds sorta like” justification, right? And Paul uses “hagios”-related verbs and adjectives in regard to the elect and visible church, so that means we can make the lines between the two as fuzzy as FV wants to, right?

    “The Bible itself speaks of someone getting forgiven and then not being forgiven anymore, etc. And believing this does not in any way contradict the traditional Reformed ordo salutis going only to the elect, unless you frontload “forgiveness” with some technical definition that can only apply to the elect.”

    So the FV solution is to provide no defenition of “forgiveness” at all since it either hasn’t thought things through very well or simply wants to avoid getting pinned down by confessional folks. So they’ll throw out a term that they won’t provide a definition for and the Reformed world is supposed to take them seriously? And this justifies the whole exercise of the original conference in 2002 where the Monroe 4 looked down their noses on the rest of the Reformed world for “not getting it” like they did? Of all the empty-headed arrogance.

    But really, Xon, if all you have to prop up this notion is a single (highly disputed) parable, I don’t know why on earth you’d be willing to go to the mat on this and build a whole system of theology and theological distinctives on this. FV has given us NO exegetical reason for overturning Calvin’s view of the unforgiving servant (there is no need to press the parable in all of its details).

    “To have been gifted with a gen illumination and zeal for the things of God, to receive a taste of the Spirit and the blessings that are found in Christ, is to come into God’s kingdom in a very real sense”

    Well, I could quibble that you shifted from “possession of the kingdom” to “come into God’s kingdom”, but I’ll lay that aside. This is only plausible if you empty out the concept of what the “kingdom” is, I suppose. The kingdom, at this point, doesn’t mean much more than “you get to hear sermons and are invited to the church picnic.” This is the sad legacy of FV, it has to empty out the heart of Christianity and the vitality of salvation to the point where it is utterly trivial. I don’t care about the Federal Vision’s ‘good news’. No one except nominalists and exteranlists should care. It is empty, and is not, in the final analysis, Good News worth mentioning at all. God’s Kingdom is a joke if you have to empty it definitionally of its heart and soul in the effort to spread the blanket over the non-elect covenant members. Well, congrats, Xon, the tent is indeed big but the substance is rather thin. You FV folks have all done God a big favor with this peculiar project of yours.

    “This is a complete non-sequitur or I have badly misunderstood you. “Relational” or teleological ontology is not at odds wtih there being ontological differences b/w ECMs and NECMs. So I’m just not following you here.”

    I never said that it is “at odds”, I said that that the differences “cannot simply be explained” by those concepts. Saying that the elect, and the elect alone, are justified, sanctified, etc. etc. is to say something about intrinsic ontological realities of the elect. They are not simply different because of what will happen to them in the future, or because of their purpose, or because of their external relationships.

    Let me use Sean’s analogy: we have two pieces of wood, and they are both made of the same stuff, even if one piece ends up being made into furniture, and the other piece ends up as firewood. So at this point you would suggest that there is a difference between the two pieces of wood because of telic and relational ontology. But the point is that the two pieces of wood are composed of the same chemical compounds and molecules. And saying that the elect are justified, sanctified, regenerated, have true faith, etc. is to describe the “chemical makeup” of the elect, but in this case it is NOT true of the non-elect. So the telic and relational ontology ALONE don’t enumerate the differences between the two in a confessional manner.

  226. Xon said,

    June 20, 2007 at 9:06 am

    David,

    I had said:

    What I am pointing out is just that there is a long Reformed tradition of outlining the expreience of both the elect and the non-elect within the covenant using some pretty “strong” ordo salutis terms.

    To which David replied:

    “Temporary faith” is NOT an ordo salutis term. It is qualitatively different from saving faith (not just in duration). [WHICH I AGREE WITH, XRH] “General illumination” is different from effectual preaching and hearing. And sanctification of the elect is not the same thing as “federal holiness” we speak of in regard to children in the covenant. Both have a base meaning of “set apart-ness”, but the set-apartness is in different categories (the former dealing with the mortification of sin by faith, the latter dealing with being set apart from the world under the ministrations of the church).

    What I mean by “ordo salutis” terms, and admittedly I have spelled this out in more detail in earlier converstaions and just gave the buzzphrase here, is any word that either goes with a “stage” of the ordo salutis or any word that is closely associated with one of those stages (So, for instance, adoption is not a stage of the ordo salutis, properly understood, but I would still call it an “ordo salutis” term). I agree with you that temporary faith is different from elect faith, but my point is that in both cases the word used is “faith”. I agree that “federal holiness/sanctification” is different than elect sanctifictaion, but my point is that in both cases the word used is “sanctification” (or “holiness”). A couple further comments here to clarify where I am coming from:

    1. There really have been anti-FVers in this discussion (on this blog and elsewhere) who have tried to DENY that the non-elect, in ANY sense, have “faith” or are “sanctified,” etc. So I’m not simply responding to a strawman here.

    2. Others, like you (David G.), are willing to admit that both elect and non-elect can have these words (again it’s “faith” I’m talking about, not the adjective “temporary”) applied to them, so long as it is also remembered that they are qualitatively different (and not different in duration only). But this is something virtually every FV thinker DOES remember, states explicitly, and does not contradict through any other statements that I am aware of. This is certainly so in my case.

    3. So, where is our disagreement? It is apparently over the precise nature of the qualitative difference. Well, okay I’m fine with discussing that, but as I’ve said before I’m having a really hard time thinking that such a discussion over relative minutia should amount to a “denial of the Gospel” on my part. In other words, before we show up and have our little debate over how exactly to define the qualitative difference between the “faith” of reprobates and the “faith” of elects, why do you insist on putting on the program they hand out at the door that this is a debate between “Orthodox David Gadbois and Heretic Xon Hostetter”, or perhaps that last part is just “Suspected Heretic Xon Hostetter”? What vital of true religion does my position strike at? It is fine at this point to bring in logic and try to show that my position entails some error even though I don’t mean for it to, but you yourself have to use proper logical reasoning to make such a demonstration. I’m just saying that I haven’t seen that yet, in all our time here. Yes, you and I disagree about stuff, but WHY does my position amount to a denial of something vitally important to the Gospel/Reformed orthodoxy in general? That second question is the one that I am saying I have never seen you demonstrate. Though of course you are free to disagree with my assesment of your efforts in this regard. But, in any case, there we are.

  227. Xon said,

    June 20, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Okay, so the previous comment set the table as far as where I think we are at. Here are your more direct arguments from # 225.

    You seem to think that mere similarities justify all of the smearing together of concepts that FV does. God rewards our good works, so that “sounds sorta like” justification, right? And Paul uses “hagios”-related verbs and adjectives in regard to the elect and visible church, so that means we can make the lines between the two as fuzzy as FV wants to, right?

    Your first example is actually not my position at all. And I find your own use of therm “fuzzy” to be rather fuzzy in that I don’t know exactly what you think is fuzzy about the FV position and I also know that you as a good orthodox Calvinist are not a rationalist who would rule something out-of-hand simply for being mysterious. So you’d have to say more here about what the “fuzziness” is that you think you are seeing, before I can defend FVers-in-general (or agree with you) on that particular point. But back to the first example, I do not think that “God rewarding our works” sounds kinda sorta like justification. I DO think that God giving us a change in status which we do not deserve sounds like justification. The question then would be, is it a temporary justification, or a permanent one? I say that NECMs get a temp justification, while ECMs get a permanent one.

    Now, what do you say to this, exactly? You have admitted that these “similarities” exist b/w the elect and the non-elect (though, to be fair, you have not admitted this concerning the term “justification”). But then you accuse FVers of “blending concepts together.” Well, if the concepts are similar then they can be spoken of together in regards to their similarities. But this doesn’t mean we’re “blending” them in the sense of confusing them.

    Which of the following propositions do you disagree with?

    1. NECMs receive a change in status from God which they do not deserve, but it is only temporary.
    2. ECMs receive a change in status from God which they do not deserve, and it lasts forever.
    3. There is a qualitative difference b/w these two status changes in (1) and (2) other than the mere durational difference already described.
    4. The NECM temporary change in status can be spoken of as a “temporary justification.”

    Now, I know that you and I agree on (2) and (3). I THINK from what you have been saying that we would agree on (1). So the only question seems to come down to (4). Is it okay to call the NECM status-change by the name “justification?” (4) is purely a claim about what words are appropriate to use to label a concept that has already been described in (1). So, if your only disagreement is over (4), then I’d say we are continuing to have a disagreement over “mere words”. If you disagree with me on (1), then that is a substantive dispute.

    [clipped unfortunate diatribe about “arrogance”]

    But really, Xon, if all you have to prop up this notion is a single (highly disputed) parable, I don’t know why on earth you’d be willing to go to the mat on this and build a whole system of theology and theological distinctives on this. FV has given us NO exegetical reason for overturning Calvin’s view of the unforgiving servant (there is no need to press the parable in all of its details).

    Well, for one, it’s a very clear parable, and it’s a part of Scripture, which means I am obligated to listen to what it very clearly seems to say despite the fact that it is “highly disputed.” The “highly disputed” argument could be used for almost any passage, as we all know. This doesn’t get us anywhere.

    For two, that’s not the only thing I’ve “got” to “prop up” my position. There are other Scriptural loci where forgiveness is discussed (or is implied by what is discussed) in which it seems to be of a possibly-only-temporary nature.

    As to your claim that FVers refuse to define what they mean by forgiveness, I don’t know that this is true. To some extent they may have relied on the fact that forgiveness (unlike other theological terms) is stilly widely used in the culture, and so it doesn’t seem as necessary to define it. But, I don’t think it has been left undefined, or at worst we could simply infer a fairly basic definition based on the way they use the term. Lane and I have talked about forgiveness a number of times, and it wasn’t “undefined” in that conversation. Put really basically, I’d say that to “fotgive” someone is to not hold their infraction against them. This idea of “not holding it against them” is open to a couple of interpretations, as both theologians and ethicists have discussed for a long time. But I’d say we’re in the ballpark.

    So, when I say that I believe in a temporary forgiveness, I mean that I believe that it is possible for God to not hold some of a person’s sins against them in the way they really deserve. This is strongly connected to justification (of both the temporary and the permanent types), because though you are unfit in yourself you are enabled to enter into God’s presence in a special way, to become a member of a community of the favored, to receive a favorable change in status before God.

    Really, we already say that all people receive less recompense for their sins than they deserve. Every breath a person gets to draw, etc., is a gift of “common grace” from God who owes them nothing and who by rights should punish them with death for their sin. So all people are walking around on the earth with a status before God that is better than they deserve, but some people (the visible church/covenant community) receives an even more favorable status (call this “covenantal justification”, which can be only temporary if you are non-elect), and some of those receive an even more favorable status (call this “everlasting justification”, which is permanent and irrevocable). Both of these groups who are called out from the world into a different kind of life/existence are “justified” in somes sense, and both have thereby received a “forgiveness” in some sense. They do not have all of their sins held against them in the way they fully deserve, or even in the way that people with a less favorable status before God do.

    Well, I could quibble that you shifted from “possession of the kingdom” to “come into God’s kingdom”, but I’ll lay that aside.

    Thanks, b/c that really would be a quibble. The phrases seem synonymous, or at least they have enough semantical overlap, for our purposes.

    [clipped unfortunate caricature of the FVs errors, this time apparently that it “empties” the idea of the Kingdom of God into a mere label for “going to church picnics.”]

    Um, not quite. One could just as easily, though, if they were so inclined towards such grandiose melodramatic summations, accuse your position of “emptying” the idea of the “kingdom of God” into nothing more than “going to heaven when you die, that great by and by.” You know, just like Fanny Crosby.

    An emphasis on the idea that Jesus is King on earth, right now, yes really, is part of the postmil vision that FVers tend to be really solid at expressing. The kingdom of God is more than this airy-fairy land of future bliss. It is an actual expanding culture that is taking over the cultures of the world and bringing all things under Christ’s feet. When you are a member of the “visible church,” even if you end up going to Hell you are getting to march in this ever-advancing army for a time. Sure, you’ll later be hanged for desertion, but in the meantime there’s a little more going on than just ‘going to church picnics.’ The world is being conquered, man, and all who are baptized are deputized into the invading force. Of course, many of these deputies do a really crappy job, do not take it seriously, get distracted by other things, give up when it gets too hard or too embarrassing, etc.–and eventually these will be dishonorably discharged. But the discharge does not mean that they weren’t “in” earlier. They were.

    I said that that the differences “cannot simply be explained” by those [relational ontology] concepts. Saying that the elect, and the elect alone, are justified, sanctified, etc. etc. is to say something about intrinsic ontological realities of the elect. They are not simply different because of what will happen to them in the future, or because of their purpose, or because of their external relationships.

    But the whole point of a “relational ontology” is that your purpose/ultimate end and your relationships affect your “intrinsic ontological” realitly in the present. That’s the whole point; there is an “intrinsic ontological” reality, right now, that reflects where a person is ending up. The fact that they are going to end up where they are means that they are a certain kind of person, right here and now.

    Let me use Sean’s analogy: we have two pieces of wood, and they are both made of the same stuff, even if one piece ends up being made into furniture, and the other piece ends up as firewood. So at this point you would suggest that there is a difference between the two pieces of wood because of telic and relational ontology.

    Right, but (keeping with the analogy) it could be a non-material difference; i.e. a difference in the “souls” of the wood (hey, it’s your analogy). It does not have to be a difference in the physical “stuff” that the pieces of wood are made of. The two pieces of wood might differ in other ways, and those other differences could be just as “ontologically” deep as any difference in their material stuff would be. Ontological differences are not reducible to differences in stuff, unless we are materialists.

    But the point is that the two pieces of wood are composed of the same chemical compounds and molecules. And saying that the elect are justified, sanctified, regenerated, have true faith, etc. is to describe the “chemical makeup” of the elect, but in this case it is NOT true of the non-elect.

    What do you mean it’s “not true of the non=elect”? You mean, when these terms (just., sanct., etc.) are used in the Westminster-Confession kind of way? I agree with that; under that definition of those terms, the non-elect do not have these things in their “chemical makeup.” But, FVers don’t say that they do, on those definitions.

    This analogy is at best confusing and in need of different examples and at worst not good at all. Chemically, all people, elect and the non-elect, are made of the same “stuff.” But the measure of a man is not his molecules.

    But I think I follow what you mean: by “chemical makeup” you are just applying the two pieces of wood analogously to the question of ontology. So, the “chemical makeup” is something like the list of its ‘essential’ or ‘ontic’ properties. But this means you are now begging the question by assuming that telic and relational properties are not essential to the ‘being’ of a thing, as when you conclude:

    So the telic and relational ontology ALONE don’t enumerate the differences between the two in a confessional manner.

    This is supposed to be your conclusion, but your premise is just the same thing differently stated. (Premise: “And saying that the elect are justified, sanctified, regenerated, have true faith, etc. is to describe the “chemical makeup” of the elect, but in this case it is NOT true of the non-elect”). Telic and relational differences between the elect and non-elect don’t account adequately for the confessional differences betwen the elect and non-elect, because the confessional differences cannot be accounted for by using merely telic and relational realities.

    The whole point of “relational ontology” is that the list of ontic properties or essential properties of a thing contains relational properties of that thing (as opposed to the classical/Aristotelian notion of ontology, which says that relational properties are not essential, ever). This is the claim you are trying to refute, but you cannot do this by simply pointing to essential differences between P and Q and then–QED–proclaim that they cannot be accounted for by relational differences. For acc. to relational ontology it is possible that they can, so simply saying “Nuh uh” isn’t an argument against the relational ontology thesis.

    (But, Xon, what’s your argument for the relational ontology thesis? Read my dissertation (on Jonathan Edwards)! But seriously, I’m not claiming to give an argument for that here; I’m simply pointing out that David hasn’t yet refuted it. And I don’t need to argue for it, b/c in this conversation we’re not discussing whether it’s true, but whether believing it undermines key doctrines of Reformed orthodoxy and renders you a heretic. This is a question of the implications of relational ontology, which we can discuss without proving first that it is actually true.)


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