Response to Reggie Kidd, part 2

Now we come to several rhetorical statements, the basic purport of which is this: the FV is only trying to ask certain questions, and the mere raising of these questions lands them cat-calls of heresy. Reggie doesn’t use those exact words, but that is the basic intent. We’ll take them one at a time.

Suggest that we might do a better job representing Paul’s view that the Body and Bride are elect as a whole, and get accused of denying that Paul teaches individual election.

My criticism of Reggie on these points is basically going to take the form of: the FV writers suggest a whole lot more than Reggie says here; and what they suggest is not in conformity with the standards. Reggie thinks these innocent questions are all that this is about. It is about a whole lot more than that. On this one, for instance, Reggie seems to have forgotten that the entire Reformed tradition has always said that that there is more than one way that the word “election” is viewed in Scripture. There is a corporate sense in which Israel was elect. However, that corporate election conferred no salvific benefits to individuals in and of itself. FV writers suggest that it does. At least, they suggest that corporate election confers benefits that are similar to but not quite exactly the same as ordo salutis benefits.

Suggest that more could be said about the way Jew and Gentile oneness in the gospel demonstrates the righteousness of God than the Westminster Standards say, and get accused of denying justification by faith.

Of course, more can be said about Jew and Gentile oneness in the Gospel, and that that is an implication of God’s righteousness. One only has to read Ephesians to see this. But the NPP writers (I assume that the NPP is more in view with this comment, since several FV writers repudiate the NPP on this point) are not merely suggesting this. They suggest that imputation is not a helpful way of describing what happens to individuals. They suggest that the same theological ground can be covered by union with Christ. Never mind the fact that the Roman Catholic Church also believes in union with Christ, and yet still somehow manages to have a completely different soteric system of infused righteousness. The question of the Reformation was not whether we receive Christ’s righteousness, but how: was it by infusion or imputation? Union with Christ works with either one. As a matter of fact, Calvin would say that it grounds both (except that imputation is part of justification, and infusion is part of sanctification, and they are distinct yet inseparable). Therefore, the NPP is not just saying we need more Jew/Gentile theology related to the righteousness of God. They are explicitly denying the Reformation formulations on justification. Not so innocent.

Suggest that all parties ought to be a part of this conversation, and receive a fluffy, but smugly cute repartee about the folly of inviting the accused to join the jury — have the derisiveness compounded by a disingenuous faux-rebuke of the “righteous applause” with which the vacuous remark is sycophantically met.

Apart from the fact that Sproul is likely responsible for a great deal of Reggie Kidd’s current job (how many RTS students would be going to RTS without Sproul’s ministry?), how is Reggie so certain that he can read right into Sproul’s heart? For someone who is lambasting the critics for not giving the FV/NPP a charitable reading, this is the most uncharitable reading of Sproul’s actions that I have yet seen. I am really surprised that Reggie would lay himself open to such an obvious tu quoque. And here, I have to bring it home. I went up to Sproul before GA and specifically asked him to say something about the study committee report, knowing that his opinion would carry a great deal of weight. I have no idea if anyone else spoke to him or not. So I may not be/probably am not the only one responsible for encouraging Sproul to such action. But Sproul promised me that he would speak if the occasion arose. Obviously it did arise. But if you read Reggie’s comment, there is no possibility that Sproul might actually have spoken his conscience. No, it can only be disingenuous faux-rebuke following a self-obviously fluffy comment. I’m sure that Sproul also thought that his comment was “fluffy.” I’m so glad that Reggie has made it clear to us exactly what went on in Sproul’s mind. Talk about a favorable and charitable read of someone else’s actions and words. Why exactly should the critics do what the FV proponents/sympathizers are so dead set against doing for the critics? It doesn’t matter in this case who started it. The Golden Rule still applies. Is it absolutely impossible that Sproul was defending justification by faith alone from errors which have cropped up, and that he was stating what he thought to be the truth, and that the comment about “righteous applause” was a simple statement of humor? No, that would never occur to people on the other side of the fence. I wonder why? Since Reggie has taken the opportunity to read into Sproul’s heart, maybe I should do the same. Could it be that Reggie is bitter about the outcome, and simply wants to lash out at the one who was most certainly responsible for turning what might have been a %70-%30 vote into a %95-%5 vote? Let’s not forget that the PCA is now certifiably sycophantic. I will assume that by the word, Reggie means those who are trying to suck up to Sproul rather than the definition “slanderer,” although he may want to include that as well. Of course, if the PCA is so sycophantic, maybe he and all the rest of the FV would do better to go to a less sycophantic denomination, like, say, the CREC.

Update: Dr. Kidd has (rather thoroughly!) retracted and repented of his comments on Dr. Sproul. He has removed the offending paragraph, and has written to Dr. Sproul with a letter of apology asking for forgiveness. Would that this kind of repentance would be shown more often. Obviously, I am rather biased in thinking that the FV needs more of it. However, the critics need to examine themselves as well: not all conduct by the critics has been honorable. Golden Rule, folks, Golden Rule.