It’s a pity that Wilson never lets us know what he thinks about anything. :-) I have a question for him, though. Wilson was examined by his presbytery on many issues related to the Federal Vision. Now, I am not familiar with the makeup of his presbytery, but here is my question: did Wilson invite TR’s to his examination? Of course, Wilson was not on trial. He wanted to do this to show people where he stood on certain issues. But did he feel compelled to invite TR’s to his examination, to insure that all points of view were represented in the questioning? Of course, we must ask the question, are there any TR’s in the CREC? If there are not, then two conclusions must result. The first is that Wilson was not required to invite any TR’s to his exam. But the second, equally important conclusion, is this question: how convincing has the examination been to the TR’s, who think that the CREC is basically a rubber-stamping outfit? Now, let me be clear. I am not well-enough aware of the makeup of the CREC to say that myself. In other words, I do not claim that the CREC is a rubber-stamp outfit. However, the question asked above is a valid question. Let me be clear on this point as well: I am not accusing Wilson of hypocrisy. Rather, I am asking whether he is being consistent on this point. I have no desire to continue talking about the makeup of the committee. Wilson can have all the last word(s) his heart desires. I will only say this logical syllogism: if the PCA as a whole thought that the “stacked” deck (to grant Wilson’s point for the moment, though I disagree with him here) seriously affected the accuracy of the report, they would not have approved the report. This, to my mind, was the entire issue of the discussion surrounding Novenson’s proposal. Novenson wanted a more accurate report. He felt that the addition of two more members to the study committee sympathetic to the FV would produce a more accurate report. Obviously, the majority of the PCA disagreed with him.
And really, the question of whether the committee was stacked is a distinct question from whether the nature of the committee affected the accuracy of the outcome. The committee acknowledged its mistake in the Wilson quotation by removing the inaccuracy. The committee felt itself to be on solid ground with regard to the rest of the report. One further point bears mentioning. By submitting the report to the internet, and listening carefully to the FV responses (and believe you me, they did listen very carefully to the FV responses!), the committee was able to test its conclusions against the reaction of the FV guys. So, in reality, though no FV men were on the committee, they still had plenty of chances to prove their point on the internet before GA. The report as it stands now would therefore be no different if there had been FV guys on the committee. The difference is that there would have been a minority report. And, given the nature of the vote at GA, is there really any doubt as to which report would have won out in the end? I respect Wilson quite a bit. I have never tried to use rhetoric against him. Therefore, I hope that these honest questions and points will attain a fair hearing with him. He has nothing to lose by considering whether these argument have any weight. I have no wish to antagonize him, especially since our conversation on the blogs seems to be benefitting people. At least, most of the responses I have received (from both sides, amazingly enough!) has been generally positive. Let’s keep that going. There is therefore no need for Wilson to use mockery in response to this blog-post. I hope he will not.
That being said, let’s move on to the next chapter of RINE. This chapter is concerned with the marks of the church (pg. 79). He discusses the Word, Sacrament, and discipline. He seems to take Calvin’s view on the place of discipline: not a mark, but exceedingly important, nevertheless. I like this statement: “A Church with no discipline is a Church with no immune system” (p. 80). I am not sure that the over-emphasis of discipline constitutes a reason to reject discipline as being a mark of the church (Wilson, in so doing, is not undervaluing discipline: he says that discipline is a matter of the well-being of the church, not of the being of the church). I was a tad puzzled by this statement: “In other words, lack of discipline will bring about a collapse soon enough but is not to be identified with that collapse” (p. 81). If he has just said that discipline constitutes the immune system of the church, then wouldn’t the lack thereof be very similar to AIDS? AIDS kills the person if no other disease takes the person first. AIDS then would constitute the collapse of the person, whether by first or by secondary causes. I realize, of course, that other factors often do contribute to the downfall of a church.
One other question I have for Wilson is this: when he affirms nulla salus extra ecclesiam (no salvation outside the church), does he allow for exceptions to this rule? As Wilson has previously agreed that someone can be in the church but not of the church, so is it not also possible to be outside the church, and yet have eternal life? I am thinking here of the discussion on baptism in WCF 28.5: if baptism is the mark of someone belonging to the church, and yet someone can be regenerated without that sign, then surely it follows that someone can be regenerated, and be part of the invisible church without being part of the visible church.