On Misrepresentation

Wilson has responded to my blog post on heresy. I would like to point out a few things that I see.

First of all, though Wilson has pointed out the necessity of individual salvation over and over again (a point I grant), have not the other FV authors downplayed the significance of the individual in their reaction to Enlightenment individualism? I see such a stress on the corporate (some of which I see as being influenced by N.T. Wright) that the individual fades into the background. Why foreground or background either?  

Secondly, on heresy, is there no situation in which a person is not theologically astute, but is not criminally neglectful of the means of grace, and yet cannot see heresy for what it is? Otherwise, why do we need shepherds? The fact that we need shepherds does not speak well of the sheep, actually. Sheep are not known for being the brightest spots on planet earth. This is not necessarily due to criminal neglect of the means of grace. But again, if heresy is so blindingly obvious, why did it take centuries to get rid of Arianism in the church? I am not saying that sheep have to go to graduate school. I am saying that sheep do not have the primary responsibility for protecting themselves. That is the shepherd’s job. Why would wolves don sheep’s clothing if it were completely irrelevant as to the possibility of deceiving the sheep?

Lane asks the question — who identifies heretics? “Is it not the church?” I agree. It is the Church. It is not a faction within the church. It is not a roster of selected rabbis. It is not a sectarian subset of the Church. But before the Church comes to this determination, the Church is supposed to have it out. The Church is supposed to discuss and debate it.

Two things: I wouldn’t call eight or nine denominations within NAPARC “factions within the church,” “roster of selected rabbis,” or a “sectarian subset of the Church.” That’s a bit like saying that a mole on a body should rebuke the rest of the body for being unmolelike. Exactly what kind of a majority does the FV enjoy in NAPARC? Secondly, would Wilson really say that there has been no debate on these issues? Or does each denomination have to spend 40 or 50 years hashing it out with every single FV advocate? What was the Knox Colloquium and the thousands upon thousands of emails exchanged surrounding that Colloquium? Please don’t tell me that was just shooting the breeze. If the FV cannot be legitimately clarified by such debate, then exactly how helpful is it for the Church? Also, I fervently hope that the FV is not here assuming that their blogs have not been read by the critics. Because that would be a really, really stupid thing to say. The difficulty here is that (for both sides) open debate (unlike Knox) has invariably produced much more heat than light.

With regard to debate, one might answer, “What about all the debates surrounding the Reformation?” Well, they resulted in clarification, quite obviously. The Synod of Dort resulted in crystal clarity of the Five Points. The Westminster Assembly, while taking a long time, clarified many issues. If the FV thinks that more debate is needed, then, quite obviously, the FV also thinks that the issues are not clear yet.

On misrepresentation, would Wilson please point to one place where I have misrepresented him? If I were to publicly debate Wilson (which I am not going to do), would Wilson even have that line of argumentation available to him? I have striven with all my might to react to what is THERE in RINE, not what is of my own imagination. I would like to think that Wilson thinks I have done a fairly decent job at doing that. Others have said so (even other FV advocates). The misrepresentation of Wilson in the PCA study committee’s report was excised. I don’t recall there being any more points of Wilson being misrepresented in that report. There have been assertions that others have been misrepresented, but who arbitrates who is right? If Wilson and co. say that Lusk has been misrepresented, but the committee, after reviewing the charge, doesn’t agree, then how does one tell who is right? Who arbitrates? Are we supposed naïvely to assume that everyone who claims to be misrepresented is correct in that statement? I have seen countless examples of this type of argument: Lusk claims to have been misrepresented. If someone claims to have been misrepresented, then that person is automatically correct. Therefore, if Lusk claims to have been misrepresented, then he obviously was misrepresented. This is not logical, folks. Not in any way, shape, or form. It assumes that which has to be proven. Saying so doesn’t make it so. Furthermore, this type of “argumentation,” being repeated endlessly, is thought to be real argumentation, since they have said it enough times. Again, saying it often does not make it correct, either. In voting the way it did, did not the PCA say who was right? The issue of misrepresentation was not brought up in the debate. The issue of fairness was, but that is not the same thing. To say that two sides of an issue need to be represented is not the same thing as saying that one side has actually misrepresented the other. And, to say that the issue of fairness was brought up is not to assume that the committee was unfair.

In the old days, defenders of the faith used proclamation, argumentation, and apologetics. These days, the defenders of the faith use all the bureaucratic levers they have hidden under the desk.

I’m sure that this is rhetorical overstatement. Last time I checked, for instance, there were not any bureaucratic levers under my desk. Like a 29-year-old would have significant pull with the PCA anyway. Secondly, would Wilson claim that all the FV stuff on my blog is not proclamation, argumentation, and apologetics? What else is it, pray? Is Waters’s book bureaucratic levering, or argumentation (even if Wilson wants to say it is bad argumentation)? Oh, Wilson may say, Lane doesn’t speak for all the other critics. Does Wilson speak for all the other FV’ers?

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50 Comments

  1. Ken Christian said,

    October 25, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Lane – When I read Wilson’s post, I didn’t think he had you in mind during any of his complaints. Yet your reply makes it sound like he was coming after you personally. Have I missed something?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    October 25, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    What you are missing is the rhetorical ploy on my part (maybe a bit over-subtle) whereby I am saying that if Wilson is not aimed at me, then maybe I am not aimed at Wilson. Wilson’s post seems to assert (to me, anyway) that what’s true of Wilson is true of the rest of the FV. I am trying to puncture that a bit. Ist das klar?

  3. Ken Christian said,

    October 25, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Ahh…how trixie of you.

  4. Christopher McCartney said,

    October 25, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    There is a difference between these two propositions: “FV advocates have been misrepresented”, and “Lane Keister has misrepresented Doug Wilson.” You gave a long list of FV critics, and asked whether these folks could really be so inaccurate about what FV is. You said, “I see lots of protestations on the part of FV advocates that they have been misunderstood. I see far less proof of it. In fact, hardly any proof of it. In fact, hardly any evidence.” Wilson responded, quite rightly in my opinion, that a great deal of misrepresentation has occurred, and has been made evident, by Wilson himself. Wilson has given lots of evidence that the FV position has been misrepresented. He wasn’t addressing the question of whether you in particular have contributed to this, because the premise of the argument you were making concerned not just you, but a long list of FV critics.

    You may not think the evidence is as conclusive as it seems to me to be. But to claim that it’s just not there? … Later in your post, you admit that some misrepresentation has occured. Doesn’t this serve to undermine your argument? Even those who are staunchly on the side of the FV opponents cannot deny that one really blatant misrepresentation of Wilson occurred in the PCA committee report (later removed, but the error had been made public; blatant misrepresentation did occur). In the light of that, your rhetorical question (Could those FV opponents really have misrepresented the FV?) looses some force, does it not?

    Your argument is further undermined by your methodology. You write, “I have seen countless examples of this type of argument: Lusk claims to have been misrepresented. If someone claims to have been misrepresented, then that person is automatically correct. …” Could you point to just one place where someone has made this argument? Allow me some suspicion that you are in fact misrepresenting your opponents right here. The arguments I have seen claim not that an author’s interpretation of himself is automatically correct, but that an author’s interpretation of himself has more authority than what his opponents say he meant. And this is clearly true. Unless the author’s interpretation of himself is wildly unreasonable on its face, his claim that he meant X, not Y, is evidence that he meant X, not Y. And if his opponents persist in saying he meant Y, they face a serious burden of proof. Thus, to answer your question, “Are we supposed [question-begging epithet deleted] to assume that everyone who claims to be misrepresented is correct in that statement?” The answer is, Yes. Of course we should assume that (provided they point to a particular characterization of their views, and tell us how it differs from their interpretation of themselves – all of which has been done). And we should not be quick to give up that assumption. We should only give it up if we find a very good reason to do so. That’s just the Rule of Charity. The fact that you aren’t proceeding in this way (your statement, “It assumes that which has to be proven,” implies that you start out skeptical about an FV author’s interpretation of himself) makes its very difficult for me to take your argument seriously.

    — just saw your comment #2. When you said, “would Wilson please point to one place where I have misrepresented him?” we were not to take this as aimed at Wilson? Oversubtle indeed. Anyway, your argument (in your prior post) was about FV as such, not a particular subset of FV writers. [“What if almost all of Reformedom … have defined Federal Vision as being out of accord … Have they all misunderstood the FV so completely? Have all of these lightweight theological nincompoops like Sproul, Duncan, Phillips, … so completely misunderstood the FV? It is remotely possible that all of these theological featherweights have completely misunderstood the FV from top to bottom. …” I could not see anything in that post suggesting that you were not including the most well-known FV proponent when you spoke of “the FV”.] That kind of argument has to procede on the basis of what FVers have in common, not what distinguishes them from one another. Since Wilson is part of the FV, anything that represents FV, as such, to be something that Wilson thoroughly rejects, is a misrepresentation of FV.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    October 25, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    On the contrary, the fact that the critics were willing to acknowledge the mistake in the report gives them *greater* credibility when they claim not to have misrepresented. At the least, it proves that the critics have some humility. I am still waiting for one FV advocate to admit to a mistake in theology. I see lots of hubris there.

    Christopher, you must be absolutely blind if you haven’t seen the FV advocates claim to be misrepresented, and then leave the argument at that. It’s all over the place. I really don’t want to take the time right now to look some of them up. Maybe some of my other readers would be kind enough to look up a couple of the hundreds of examples available.

    Thirdly, I find it just a bit amusing that when Wilson is defending the FV, there is complete and utter solidarity among all the FV advocates. If Wilson is defending himself, then his arguments automatically defend all the rest of the FV advocates as well. But when people start saying, “Hey look, the FV is a movement; there is some solidarity here,” the FV (especially Jordan and Barach) fall all over themselves saying that there is no solidarity. I was assuming lack of solidarity among the FV advocates. You are assuming solidarity which several FV advocates say doesn’t exist. Which is it?

  6. magma2 said,

    October 25, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Here is an example where Wilson claims I have misunderstood him when I have not. Since it is pretty much lifted from an exchange I had with him here, perhaps it will suffice as at least one example:

    http://godshammer.wordpress.com/2007/09/06/a-funny-thing-happend-to-me/

  7. October 25, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    […] greenbaggins wrote an interesting post today on On MisrepresentationHere’s a quick excerptOn Misrepresentation Wilson has responded to my blog post on heresy. I would like to point out a few things that I see. First of all, though Wilson has pointed out the necessity of individual salvation over and over again (a point I grant), have not the other FV authors downplayed the significance of the individual in t… Read the full post from Green Baggins Tags: Federal Vision via Blogdigger blog search for book review. […]

  8. Christopher McCartney said,

    October 25, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    “you must be absolutely blind if you haven’t seen the FV advocates claim to be misrepresented, and then leave the argument at that.”

    Interesting that you use those words. That feeling (“this guy must be blind!”) pretty well sums up the way I felt about your post. How can you not see all of the misrepresentation of FV that is going on. Surely it’s obvious to any non-biased person who has read widely in this area and who has enough education to understand what’s going on! But, then, my saying this wouldn’t really accomplish anything, since, apparently, it isn’t obvious to you. My just telling you that it should be obvious wouldn’t move the discussion forward in any helpful way. But at least we can empathize with the frustration each of us is feeling.

    To answer your charge more particularly: I do see that FVers have done that, what I don’t see is the relevance of that to my criticism of your post. I claimed that you were wrong to claim that your opponents were making the argument “Lusk claims to have been misrepresented. If someone claims to have been misrepresented, then that person is automatically correct. [therefore, etc.].” Just claiming that you’ve been misrepresented, without backing it up, is not the same as making the argument you described (especially if you’ve provided the evidence in another place — Lusk did this in regard to the OPC report, at least). It might be important to let people know that you think you have been misrepresented, even if you don’t have time to make that case in detail, right then. Simply letting people know that you believe yourself to have been represented does not mean that you think “If someone claims to have been misrepresented, then that person is automatically correct.” My request was that you show one place where someone has made, or implied, that argument.

    magma2 — I think that answers your comment as well ? Claiming that you have been misrepresented, and not backing up that claim with any further evidence implies, at most, implies that you think you mere claim carries some weight when it concerns the interpretation of your own writings. It does not imply that you think “If someone claims to have been misrepresented, then that person is automatically correct.”

  9. Christopher McCartney said,

    October 25, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    correction: Claiming that you have been misrepresented, and not backing up that claim with any further evidence implies, at most, that you think your mere claim carries some weight when it concerns the interpretation of your own writings.

  10. Xon said,

    October 25, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Also, magma2, even if you are correct that you were not misrepresenting Wilson in that one particular instance you link to, that hardly undermines the entire claim by FVers to have been misrepresented. In the heat of rhetorical battle, I’m sure we’ve all made some claims that didn’t quite pan out as well as we thought they would when we first made them. That Wilson might do so while trying to defend his own orthodoxy is unsurprising. But there remains all those documented cases where Wilson (and others) have been misrepresented. The fact that this one time he accused you of misrepresenting him, but in that one case he was incorrect to say that, doesn’t do away with all these other cases.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    October 25, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    Christopher, here is where I’m coming from: every heretic in the history of the church has claimed to have been misrepresented. So, when the critics see theology that is at variance with the WS (at least, what the critics *see* as being at variance), and then, despite all their monumental efforts at research into this, they just cannot ***********EVER*********** understand the FV, by the FV’s own claim, can you see why the critics get just a tad peeved at the broken record of “being misunderstood?” Many critics have carried on a good faith attempt to understand the FV’ers, all to no avail. As I’ve said before, it seems to the be the case that the *only* way a critic can understand an FV’er is if the critics *agree* with the FV’er. This is me venting, but it is unbelievably frustrating to the critics. Every critic I’ve talked to about this not only agrees with this, but also gives this as one of the many reasons they will not debate FV’ers.

  12. greenbaggins said,

    October 25, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    By the way, you make a good point, Christopher, in your middle paragraph. But I’ve seen so often where it is just left at that without more detailed attempts to prove misinterpretation.

  13. Mark T. said,

    October 25, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Here is one example of the lead Federal Visionist claiming that an opponent had misrepresented him. I chose this example for four reasons: First, the author provided no evidence to prove his assertion; we must take him at his word. Second, his first assertion is clearly a distortion, which impeaches his credibility and undermines his complaint that others have misrepresented him. Third, anyone familiar with this controversy knows that he regularly commits the sin he charges to his opponent. And fourth, the poor loon is so beside himself that he is reduced to yelling at his windshield. It is really quite pathetic.

    Thank you.

  14. Xon said,

    October 25, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Mark T., in that Wilson post Wilson DOES provide an argument for his claim to being misrepresented. Baugh, he claims, commits an example of “misrepresentation by true statements.” Yes, Doug Wilson put that quote in Credenda Agenda about the NPP that Baugh cited, a quote about why some people oppose NPP for what Wilson believes are irrational reasons. But that’s all Baugh quotes from Wilson, and he leaves it at that as though Wilson were some sort of supporter of NPP. But the very same article that Baugh cited is one in which Wilson is arguing against many problems he sees with the NPP.

    So, to recap,

    Baugh quotes Wilson in a way that creates the impression that Wilson supports NPP, but

    Wilson doesn’t support NPP.

    Therefore, Baugh misrepresents Wilson. Q.E.D.

  15. Dave Rockwell said,

    October 25, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Shepherds need to be reminded that they are also sheep – the not-so-bright spots on planet earth as you have stated. As shepherds, some of them act more like hirelings. As long as the FV remains in the PCA fold, the sheep are endangered and should leave for another denomination until the PCA has removed these devouring wolves.

  16. Mark T. said,

    October 25, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Sorry, Xon, but you’re wrong again. Wilson paraphrased Dr. Baugh instead of quoting him. And do you really believe that Dr. Baugh made this argument:

    1. After a few brief comments, read quote from Wilson;
    2. Allow time for laughter from audience;
    3. Move on.

    Or did Wilson misrepresent Dr. Baugh in the interest of honest discourse?

  17. Christopher McCartney said,

    October 25, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    “it seems to the be the case that the *only* way a critic can understand an FV’er is if the critics *agree* with the FV’er.”

    Well, I disagree with FV on many points. I’ve only recently begun discussing these things with Xon, but he hasn’t yet accused me of misrepresentation. The thing is, I think I actually do understand what FV is saying. And, funny, but I agree with their interpretations of themselves. And still I disagree with much of the theology that they and I interpret them as teaching. And I don’t expect to be accused of misrepresentation.

    I just don’t see FVers making this claim (that they’re being misrepresented) whenever someone *disagrees* with them. I see them make this claim against those who accuse them of teaching certain seriously unReformed doctrines. Does that somehow tell against FV? I think not. Lets suppose, just for the sake of argument, that FV does not teach those seriously unReformed doctrines. Is it any surprise, then, that when they are represented as teaching those doctrines they think they are being MISrepresented. Of course not, because to represent them as teaching what they do not in fact teach IS to misrepresent them.

    My point is this: whether FVers are right to claim that those who charge them with heresy misrepresent them depends on whether they are in fact teaching those heresies they are accused of teaching. So, if FVers aren’t heretical, then of course they are going to claim, justly, that they are being misrepresented when someone charges them with teaching heresy. So the mere fact that they ALWAYS claim that they are being misrepresented WHENEVER they are charged with heresy doesn’t mean their claim is any less likely. It all depends on whether or not they are in fact teaching those heretical things. And that has to be decided first, before we can determine whether their claim about being misrepresented is disingenuous.

    “Every heretic in the history of the church has claimed to have been misrepresented.” So has every faithful minister of the gospel who has been represented as teaching heresies that he does not teach. We can’t assume the charge is true just because it has been made. And in determining whether they are in fact teaching the heresies their opponents say they teach, we MUST NOT throw overboard the principle of Charity. FVers’ self-interpretations MUST be given greater weight than their critics’ interpretations of them.

    For these reasons, I don’t think your frustrations are warranted. If I can’t convince you of that, I hope I can at least convince you of this: a determination that your frustrations are warranted can only be arrived at *after* coming to the conclusion that FVers’ interpretations of themselves are wrong. Thus, those frustrations cannot serve as a good reason not to debate FV.

  18. magma2 said,

    October 25, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    But there remains all those documented cases where Wilson (and others) have been misrepresented. The fact that this one time he accused you of misrepresenting him, but in that one case he was incorrect to say that, doesn’t do away with all these other cases.

    Sorry Xon, Lane’s post above is spot on. For seven years the powers that be in WTS defended Shepherd claiming he was just being misunderstood. Then when it finally dawned on everyone that he really did mean what he was saying all along, his defenders said he “could have been clearer” and let him leave the OPC in good standing so he could continue to teach his false gospel undisturbed in the CRC. Not that Shepherd wasn’t clear as a bell long ago, but it was a good strategy to take advantage of the “Christian charity” and gullibility of their opponents.

    Well, that charity card has been played out, although some of that gullibility remains, and now Shepherd’s step children find their advantage in playing the perpetual victim card. As evidence, look at how fast the FV men scrambled to their blogs claiming how they don’t “see themselves” in the Committee report as if Committee members were analyzing the writings of aliens. We even had men like Mr. Christian above providing impassioned pleas from the floor of the GA that the PCA would be even guilty of grave corporate sin if the report passed. Why? Because, said Mr. Christian, the FV men needed to be on the Committee to ensure that Committee members actually understood what they were reading. Of course, what Mr. Christian and others really meant was that the FV men needed to be on the Committee so that they might have a chance to put their spin on what they have written so that their heterodoxy might sound more orthodox.

    So, after hearing this same song and prattled for so long, and I see that poor misunderstood Wilson is even reduced to yelling at his windshield, it really does start to get nauseating.

    As I said on Wilson’s blog, no matter how many denominations spit out reports condemning FV teaching as being outside of Confessional bounds and heretical; no matter how many books and papers are published demonstrating the anti-Christian nature of the FV’s attack on the biblical doctrine of justification, no one ever really hears what these FV men are saying. It’s getting to be like a cheesy remake of the old B.B. King classic only this time retitled: “Nobody understands me except my momma, but I think she’s jivin’ too.”

  19. Mark T. said,

    October 25, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    Lane,

    This comment from Douglas Wilson’s personal assistant, Mike Lawyer, who is also an elder at Christ Church, Moscow, should help you understand the answer to your question, “who identifies heretics?”

    If I read him correctly, he has arrogated to himself the authority to declare the 35th General Assembly of the PCA “errent.”

    Thank you.

  20. Christopher McCartney said,

    October 25, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    I’d also like to respond to what you said earlier: “the fact that the critics were willing to acknowledge the mistake in the report gives them *greater* credibility when they claim not to have misrepresented.”

    The mistake was so blatant and embarrassing that to pretend it wasn’t a mistake would be very damaging to their own position. The fact that they acknowledged the mistake only shows that they aren’t fools. It does not lend them credibility. The fact that the mistake was made in the first place suggests, at least, that they were not reading their sources carefully. It certainly doesn’t help them overcome the presumption in favor of an author’s interpretation of himself.

  21. magma2 said,

    October 25, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    Per #14 above, Dave I love your posts. Not as funny as Mark T.’s, but really cut to the heart of the matter. FWIW I think a lot also hinges on the SJC decision in the Wilkins case. I don’t know what the delay is in announcing their decision, but if the court simply gives Wilkins a slap on the wrist and warns him to be “clearer in the future” or some such rot, many of us will see that the PCA really has no shepherds – at least not in the right places.

  22. Christopher McCartney said,

    October 25, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    One more thing.

    Is it beyond Satan’s wit to twist a legitimate worry about the shrewdness of heretics into a tool for evil? Is it beyond his wit to use that twisted suspiciousness to spread dissention among faithful ministers?

    Satan has two avenues of attack: he wants to entice the church with smooth-talking heretics, and he wants to turn the fear of heresy into a weapon to spread dissention among the orthodox. You and I disagree over which of these is the more pressing danger in this particular case. But can we agree that both are dangers?

    I ask this because your #10 seems focused entirely on the one danger, and not at all on the other.

  23. Xon said,

    October 25, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Mark T., I didn’t understand what Wilson’s “first assertion” was that you said was “clearly a distortion.” Sorry for the confusion there.

    I don’t know whether Baugh really made an ‘argument’ like the one Wilson describes. My response to you was simply that Wilson DOES provide an argument for his claim to being misrepresented. He fills out that claim with some detail, so your claim in # 12 (which was only one of the claims you made) that Wilson “provided no evidence to prove his assertion” is inaccurate. That was the full extent of my comment in #13.

  24. Mark T. said,

    October 25, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    Xon,

    Two things before I begin. First, please read this carefully. Second, please do not respond until you are certain that every one of your representations is accurate and that you have not fudged my words or conclusions in the least.

    Now, I wrote,

    First, the author provided no evidence to prove his assertion; we must take him at his word.

    And this your misinterpretation of my words:

    My response to you was simply that Wilson DOES provide an argument for his claim to being misrepresented. He fills out that claim with some detail, so your claim in # 12 (which was only one of the claims you made) that Wilson “provided no evidence to prove his assertion” is inaccurate. That was the full extent of my comment in #13.

    If I understand you correctly, you have concluded that an “argument” is synonymous with “evidence,” which you are free to believe. However, my point, which you plainly ignored and omitted, was that the absence of evidence forced us to rely upon his word. Furthermore, I enlarged upon my point by stating rather clearly that Wilson predicated his argument on a paraphrase of Dr. Baugh’s words and that he did not quote him. Mind you, honest representation is the point of this thread.

    And if Wilson is going to complain that someone misrepresented him, then it behooves him to document the alleged misrepresentation — for everyone to see — that he may prove his assertion. Otherwise, he leaves us to trust his word. And while you may believe every word that proceeds from the mouth of Doug, I do not.

    Therefore, as I have quoted you accurately to demonstrate your misinterpretation of my words, I once again respectfully ask you to not misinterpret my words in your response.

    Thank you.

  25. October 25, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    Lane, just for the record, I was talking about the list of men you named, many of whom have misrepresented me. I was not talking about you — I believe that you have labored to understand what I am saying. You are an Elihu among the FV critics, exasperated by the way the argument from the older guys is staggering along, and quite decently pretending not to be exasperated.

    As for those who rejoice to misrepresent the truth, they don’t have to engage with me because they have found anonymous jitney theologians on the lam, men enrolled in the federal witness protection program, who can channel their views for them.

    Thank you.

  26. Dave Rockwell said,

    October 25, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    Several diehard followers of Doug Wilson, et.al have left the PCA for the Roman Catholic church, the Episcopal Church, and even the Eastern Orthodox Church. Are these followers the ones who have clearly understood his teachings? Do they accurately represent his views by their move to these churches?

    A politician is one who exercises the privilege of encroachment – using force on people who have not harmed anyone. No man can encroach on someone who has not harmed anyone without being corrupted. Political power corrupts.

    When a PCA pastor or ruling elder shifts from a presbyterian representative church government to a hierarchy of bishops and priests, that elder exercises more encroachment – more political power which leads to corruption. We now have “lifetime” elders instead of “limited term” elders. The shift from the individual to the corporate – from the teaching elder to the priest – are all signs of encroachment leading to political corruption of the church. Instead of calling for a faithful proclamation of the Gospel, Wilson wants to call for a debate not to defend the Gospel but to defend himself!

    Look at the direction that some PCA members are taking as a result of the teachings of Doug Wilson, Steve Wilkins, and their cohorts.

    Why is it that most of our presbyteries are silent? Where is our seminary? What is Covenant Seminary teaching about N.T Wright? The older generation – those who started the PCA – are dying out. The next generation of pastors are falling for this theological garbage because it appeals to their pride and political power. Just look at the number of Covenant Seminary students who signed the Presbyterians Together document. In a few short years we will have a corrupt PCA that bears no resemblance to her founding pioneers – the true servant leaders of the faith.

  27. Xon said,

    October 26, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Providing a paraphrase counts as documented evidence to me, Mark T., although admittedly it is only provisional and if someone calls its accuracy into question then it’s a whole new ballgame. But in a blog post, when posting lots of responses and interactions with critics, I don’t think that every argument needs to be spelled out with exact quotes. You may paraphrase, and it still counts as providing evidence; but if your paraphrase is called into quesiton, at that point you should be willing to go deeper and provide more direct argumentation. But of course this particular blog post is over 3 years old, and you have brought it up for an illustration here and not as a challenge to Mr. Wilson directly. But if it were a challenge to Wilson directly, like say if you had made this challenge under the original post three years ago on Wilson’s blog, then I would expect Wilson to provide more detailed documentation of Baugh’s argument (type it out from the lecture tape, or find a transcript already in existence, etc.) Fair enough?

    But if Smith tells me “I was misrpepresented by Jones, Jones said such-and-such (and here Smith provides a paraphrase of Jones), but I believe so-and-so, and such-and-such and so-and-so are significantly different,” then I accept Smith’s claim tentatively that he has been misrepresented. This does constitue, in my estimation, a genuine attempt by Smith to demonstrate his claim to being misrepresented. It does not constitute mere assertion without “any evidence” at all.

    But to go a step further in your direction: given that you have now questioned whether Wilson’s paraphrase is accurate, I agree wholeheartedly that a more detailed look into Baugh’s actual words is needed to determine whether the paraphrase was accurate or not. But, that’s really a tangential conversation for us, isn’t it? The original topic here was whether Wilson is justified to claim that he is misrepresented by (some) anti-FV people. You have pointed to one occasion where you think he claimed this without justification. But even if you are right, this would hardly refute all the other occasions on which Wilson really has been misrepresented. And besides, I don’t know if you’re right anyway, since I don’t have access to Baugh’s original words.

    But, to go even a further step yet again in your direction, I believe in offering Baugh the benefit of the doubt. So, from a standpoint of my own personal judgment, I will consider Baugh to have been misrepresented until proven otherwise. I’ll consider that Wilson’s paraphrase was inaccurate. But this still would not undo the fact that Wilson himself has been misrepresented on several other occasions, and of course there is also more leeway that should be given to defendants in these circumstances. When a man’s orthodoxy is being challenged, and he is defending himself against the misrepresentations of others, it is not quite as pernicious an evil if he then overreaches and misrepresents somebody else while making his own defense. Desperate times make for an increased likelihood of mistakes. That’s not an excuse, but a reality of how these things tend to work.

    I actually appreciate the interaction this time around, Mark T. I find your pointed questions to be sharpening.

  28. GLW Johnson said,

    October 26, 2007 at 8:01 am

    All the Reformed churches findings against the FV not withstanding,Wilson is NEVER going to acknowledge that he erred by his involvment in the FV and it doesn’t matter how far some of his fellow FVers go down the road to a hybrid Roman Catholic/Protestant sacerdolism ( the kind of thing that was at work with the high church Anglicans led by Edward Pussy in the 19th. century). Even if every single Reformed body send delegates,comprised of all the major Reformed theologians from every major Reformed seminary in the world to a special synod and they found the FV abberant, Wilson would go on complaining that he and his fellow FVers were misunderstood, misrepresented ad nauseam. Finally, Wilson pointing to the kind assessment of the Bayly brothers ( their father was good friends with Doug father) as conclusive proof that he is above any kind of suspicion be it theological or pastoral, is a case of special pleading. Wilson may well be a really congenial chap, and my past association with him were coordial- but this is beside the point when it comes to the FV. One only needs to remember that the first really noted church historian Eusebius intially thought Arius was a fine fellow, but , this debate like that one , is not about personalites.

  29. Mark T. said,

    October 26, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Xon,

    You should think long and hard about the ramifications of your argument, when you wrote,

    When a man’s orthodoxy is being challenged, and he is defending himself against the misrepresentations of others, it is not quite as pernicious an evil if he then overreaches and misrepresents somebody else while making his own defense. Desperate times make for an increased likelihood of mistakes. That’s not an excuse, but a reality of how these things tend to work.

    Setting aside the whole “desperate times” thing, this kind of situational ethics sells the Ninth Commandment short and places truth at an all-time low premium. And it is an excuse — a bad one at that.

    Apply the argument to your situation. As a FVist, more than one person has called your misrepresentations to account. And they were right, excuses notwithstanding. However, if you had conducted yourself carefully, meticulously considering others more than yourself, and if you had placed the Ninth Commandment above your reputation, then you would not have given any handles for anyone to challenge you on this point and you would have proven yourself an honest man first, no matter how aberrant your theology. But that’s not the case. In fact, in the “Startup” thread I recall a couple of guys throwing their arms in the air at the thought of interacting with you.

    And if you apply this principle to Wilson’s case, the man has misrepresented others so egregiously so many times (among other things) that the only place where he can get a hearing is on a little ol’ twenty-nine-year old’s blog who calls himself “Green Baggins,” or with his windshield. As I said, it really is quite pathetic.

    So the moral of this story, Xon, is honesty is the best policy, especially when you claim someone misrepresented you when they challenged your orthodoxy.

  30. October 26, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Re #20:

    For the record, the case before the PCA’s SJC is not about Steve Wilkins’ views directly, but is most directly about the fitness of the Louisiana Presbytery in their exoneration of Steve Wilkins, if you catch that distinction. For a Presbyterian, that is the more important issue. Particular teachers and teachings come and go, but the integrity of a whole presbytery affects a whole region and culture and generation.

    If one of the other Teaching Elders of Western Carolina Presbytery (my presbytery) was allowed to teach confusing, erroneous, and pastorally cruel views of Judgment Day, for example, that would be MY fault, both as an individual elder and as a member of the corporate body.

    And my best self, my renewed self in Christ, my regenerate self (yes, James Jordan, the Bible plainly teaches such a thing) simply would not want to be part of a denomination (and wouldn’t recommend to my congregation that they remain in a denomination) that wouldn’t hold me and my presbytery accountable for having been asleep on the watch (or complicit, as the case may be).

    And so, at this point, with this case, it is not so much the erroneous Federal Vision theology that is at issue, but the more important (and longer looming, predating the infamous Auburn Avenue conferences by years and years–just ask Bob Vincent, the former Stated Clerk of that presbytery who left for the EPC in frustration) issue of the fundamental integrity of a whole presbytery. That presbytery’s integrity has been a question before our GA for years, in other matters (a recent SJC decision overturned a grossly unbiblical excommunication the presbytery had performed at the behest of the Auburn Avenue Session). The FV is just one part of the larger picture as we look to the Lord to reform and renew our denomination around the Reformed gospel, presbytery by presbytery, church by church, member by member.

  31. October 26, 2007 at 9:13 am

    A few other thoughts, anticipating the line of argument that has been made countless times, together with an imagined dialogue at no extra cost.

    It is certainly true that there have not yet been any JUDICIAL judgments AT THE GA LEVEL in the PCA ruling the Federal Vision as out of accord with our Standards (or “heretical,” in Lane’s technical use of the word)–but there may well have been at either the Presbytery or Session level (I was on the GA’s review of presbytery records committee for a number of years and seem to recall a relevant case or two that never needed to rise beyond the presbytery’s ruling).

    Unfortunately, it is very possible, then, for both proponents AND opponents of the FV to misinterpret this fact (and misinterpret the fact that even after this particular SJC ruling we still won’t have a GA-level judicial ruling with regard to the FV proper).

    It is very possible, as well, for both proponents and opponents (not to mention fence sitters) to misunderstand the current state of things in the PCA (leading proponents to crow and continue to invest their efforts in “reforming” the PCA along their lines, while perhaps leading opponents to lose heart and “wash their hands” of the PCA).

    So, the lack of a GA level Judicial ruling on the FV proper aside (again, that will be the case HOWEVER the SJC rules in this particular case), what is the “current state of things”? It is obvious and as plain as the nose on your face.

    The most recent issue of our denomination magazine says it plainly, in its article on the Federal Vision controversy, calling it “The Issue for Our Generation.” The article recaps this past summer’s General Assembly, saying that “the final vote was a nearly unanimous approval of the Study Committee’s report, and a rejection of the Federal Vision….As a result of that study, the PCA has now officially rejected the theological concepts behind (the) Federal Vision.”

    The PCA has now officially rejected the theological concepts behind the Federal Vision.

    Some might say, “No they haven’t! It wasn’t official, it wasn’t a judicial ruling.”

    That is true in one sense, but misses the point. You do have a nose on your face despite your protestations. There is “Official” (Judicial) and there is “official” (incredibly broad–in fact near unanimous–consensus as captured by an official vote by real flesh and blood commissioners to a real national assembly of a real denomination). Your point doesn’t change the fact that the PCA has now officially rejected the theological concepts behind the Federal Vision.

    “That’s just some stupid reporter’s opion, writing at the behest of the powers that be that control our denomination and its magazine.”

    I am sorry for how upset this has made so many of you (screaming at windshields and whatnot). A pastoral aside–your level of frustration might be indicative of an “inordinate desire,” i.e. an idol in your life. But now, granting your premise for the sake of argument, why in the world would you want to stay in a denomination controlled by the stupid and corrupt? Your complaints about our characters and capacities don’t change the fact that
    the PCA has now officially rejected the theological concepts behind the Federal Vision.

    “Well, maybe that’s the way things are now, but I have postmillenial hope in a great and sovereign God, and I have taken vows, so I’m not going anywhere, but am going to stay and fight for the reform of my beloved denomination out of love for my Savior.”

    Well, you are certainly free to do that. But I believe a judicial case will eventually find you, and you will eventually be deposed from the gospel ministry. I don’t think you have any real possibility of changing us. It is pretty apparent (from your point of view) that the entrenched and stubborn no-nothings aren’t going anywhere, and aren’t going to let up on disciplining all FV officers in the PCA until the leaven has been purged. (It is also… interesting…how your “love for your Savior” directs you in the exact opposite direction of how “love for our Savior” seems to be directing us.) At any rate, your protestations not withstanding, the fact remains that the PCA has now officially rejected the theological concepts behind the Federal Vision.

    To steal a phrase, “Thank you.”

  32. magma2 said,

    October 26, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Thank you for your clarification of what it is the SJC will be deciding — or, better, has already decided — in the “Presbytery’s Exoneration of Steve Wilkins” case. However, if their exoneration of the man and his teaching is allowed to stand, isn’t the message the same and the FV is allowed to be taught with impunity along side of the true gospel, nice reports notwithstanding?

    Also, if the “PCA has now officially rejected the theological concepts behind the Federal Vision.,” without any action isn’t this really just in word only? I mean, the OPC has a nice report denouncing much of the FV/NPP doctrines (OK they left the door wide open for abuse of Romans 2:13 and a few other areas of wiggle room to allow the FV to grow), but can you name even one FV defender, supporter or teacher who has left the OPC because of that report? I can’t. I recall Andy Webb over at Warfield asking the same question not long ago and coming up empty.

    It seems to me that their court already has taken action in the John Kinnaird case, and, while it served as a warning for FV/NPP OPC men to keep a low profile and continue to work behind the scenes, it really only created the illusion that the OPC is sound on JBFA. I could see the same thing happening in the PCA if the SJC allows the “Presbytery’s Exoneration of Steve Wilkins” to stand.

    What do you think?

  33. October 26, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Re #31

    You write, “However, if their exoneration of the man and his teaching is allowed to stand, isn’t the message the same and the FV is allowed to be taught with impunity along side of the true gospel, nice reports notwithstanding?’

    I would say so, yes. So please do not interpret anything I wrote above to mean that this present case isn’t an absolutely critical, watershed moment for the PCA. I, too, am waiting to hear their decision (these sorts of things take logisitical time to collate even after the substantive determinations have been made, so I am not interpreting the “delay” as anything other than that).

    As for the OPC, I haven’t followed that closely (I’m trying to hoe my own row, starting with my own congregation and presbytery, let alone my own denomination). I do know of many FV/NPP proponents who have left the PCA, having either “seen the writing on the wall,” or simply having left for their perception of greener pastures. But as for the OPC, and thinking of it just now, you may have picked up from her blog that Barb Harvey has left the OPC for the REC.

  34. greenbaggins said,

    October 26, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Christopher, you say this: “I just don’t see FVers making this claim (that they’re being misrepresented) whenever someone *disagrees* with them. I see them make this claim against those who accuse them of teaching certain seriously unReformed doctrines.”

    For a confessional Reformed person, to disagree with someone on issues this big IS to say that the people with whom they disagree are propounding non-Reformed theology. You cannot separate that in the mind of a confessional Presbyterian. There are, of course, smaller issues which are of much less importance, on which we can disagree and still call ourselves Reformed. That is not the case with the FV. For me, to disagree with the FV is for me to say that they are not Reformed. It is the same thing.

    Christopher, are you aware of how that mistake made its way into the report? I am sick and tired of people using this as evidence that the people on the committee were careless in the report. It doesn’t matter how careful someone is in writing a book, there are still going to be mistakes, some of them blatant. Wilson has admitted to at least two typos in RINE, both of which are extremely bad typos. By that token, should we conclude that Wilson didn’t say what he wanted to say, and that this demonstrated extreme lack of carelessness? What’s good for the goose, Christopher….

    Doug, thanks for the vote of confidence, although I am not quite as exasperated with how the older, wiser critics have conducted themselves as you seem to think I am.

    Dave, please prayerfully consider Jeff’s words. The PCA is not yet going to hell in a handbasket. Please do not confuse slowness of action (the PCA is large, after all, as Reformed denoms go) with lack of desire to act. There are many who are on the ball and intent on protecting the PCA. The wheels turn slowly, but they grind very small.

  35. October 26, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Re #18

    Thanks for the heads up about that comment. Very interesting.

    I don’t know Mike Lawyer, but his comments, as wrong as they may be (and they sure are), don’t offend me (a minister in the PCA) in any way, coming as they do from someone outside of my communion.

    I have plenty of Methodist friends and Catholic friends and Baptist friends and Anglican friends and Episcopalian friends who, upon observing many of the decisions of the PCA’s General Assembly, and interpreting them through their non-Reformed and/or non-Presbyterian grids, might say something like “The PCA GA needs to go back and re-examine their errant findings and start all over.”

    One difference might be that my friends would probably wait to be asked for their opinions about another branch of Christ’s one catholic Church, before offering it so brazenly. But I am always glad for insights from outsiders. One of my mentors, the late Dr. Jack Miller, a professor at Westminster Seminary, used to ask non-Presbyterians all the time, “What weaknesses and blindspots do you see in my tradition?”

    So if someone takes issue with the PCA upholding the Westminster Standards’ understanding of justification, sanctification, glorification, ecclesiology, the sacraments, the Final Judgment, etc. that taking issue would not be coming from a Presbyterian and/or Reformed perspective. I am much more concerned (of course) about those from within the PCA who defend the Federal Vision and are offended by this past Summer’s final decision (final in one very important way, though not judicially).

  36. October 26, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Re #18

    Thanks for the heads up about this comment. Interesting.

    I don’t know Mike Lawyer, but his comments, as wrong as they may be, don’t offend me, coming as they do from someone outside of my communion.

    I have plenty of Methodist friends and Catholic friends and Baptist friends and Anglican friends and Episcopalian friends who, upon observing many of the decisions of the PCA’s General Assembly, and interpreting them through their non-Reformed and/or non-Presbyterian grids, might say something like “The PCA GA needs to go back and re-examine their errant findings and start all over.”

    One difference might be that my friends would probably wait to be asked for their opinions about another branch of Christ’s one catholic Church, before offering it so brazenly. But I am always glad for insights from outsiders. One of my mentors, the late Dr. Jack Miller, a professor at Westminster Seminary, used to ask non-Presbyterians all the time, “What weaknesses and blindspots do you see in my tradition?”

    At the same time I hope it would be plain that this fellow’s perceptions do not come from a Presbyterian and/or Reformed perspective. It is expected that he would say what he did, and he is free to, but they won’t cause any faithful officer of the PCA any pause. If, on the other hand, a fellow Presbyterian and Reformed Church expressed disappointment and/or offense at the decision we made this past summer, THEN I would sit up and take notice and re-evaluate.

  37. Dave Rockwell said,

    October 26, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Lane,
    How did the false teaching make its way into the PCA in the first place? Who allowed these FV elders to be ordained? Presbyteries. So why should PCA members put any confidance or trust in these same leaders who brought this poison into the denomination?

    In the business world, incompetent workers who damage a company are fired. They are not entrusted with solving the problem and correcting the damage done. But that is exactly what congregations are being forced to do.

  38. greenbaggins said,

    October 26, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Dave, I agree about Presbyteries. They should not have ordained these men in the first place. However, sometimes these men are ordained, but then change their views. In such a case, Presbytery is not to be blamed for ordaining such men. The men should be blamed for not upholding their vows.

    That being said, not all Presbyteries have these problems, and you should not attack the whole PCA for what amounts to a few Presbyteries’ problems.

  39. Christopher McCartney said,

    October 26, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Once again, I think you’re working backwards. You disagree with your opponents. You feel that the disagreement is a big deal. Therefore, your opponents must be unReformed. I realize you didn’t make this argument explicitly, but that does seem to be the way you are proceding. But surely it works the other way around. It doesn’t matter how much you, or any other critics, disagree, or how much of a big deal you or they feel it is. It isn’t unConfessional unless it goes against the Confession. Now if you want to first figure out whether their teachings go against the Confession and then decide whether or not it’s a big deal for you on the basis of that — great. Then I have no problem with your identifying what’s a big deal for you with what is unConfessional. But if you do that, then the point I made still holds. The fact that they ALWAYS claim that those who represent them as teaching certain unConfessional doctrines MISrepresent them is no surprise, since, by their own interpretations of themselves they aren’t teaching those doctrines. So of course ANYone who representes them as teaching those doctrines is misrepresenting them, unless they are wrong in their self-interpretation. But their mere ipse dixit in such a case does count as evidence for the truth of their self-interpretation. Every man is an authority on the interpretation of himself.

    Put it this way: by the FVers’ lights, they are Confessionally Reformed. They thus have major disagreements with Charismatics, Roman Catholics, Arminians, Menonites, etc. And they don’t claim that these folks are misrepresenting them just because they disagree in a major way. They also have minor disagreements with each other and with other Reformed people. And again they don’t claim they are being misrepresented just because of these minor disagreements. So whether you’re talking about major or minor disagreements, you can’t say that they claim to be misrepresented whenever there is disagreement. But then there are these people who are also Confessionally Reformed who, in addition to whatever minor disagreements they may have, CLAIM to have major disagreements because they CLAIM that FV is unConfessional, a claim that conflicts with FVers’ interpretations of themselves. So whose fault is it that FVers ALWAYS claim to be misrepresented when they are disagreed with in that way?

    There is nothing suspect in claiming to be misrepresented whenever you are disagreed with in that way. Because that kind of disagreement is, by definition, about whether or not you teach doctrines contrary to your own self-interpretation.

    As for the goose and the gander: a typo isn’t exactly at the same level as representing someone as propounding a view that he was rejecting. A closer analogy would be the very embarassing blunder Wilson and Wilkins made in their book about Southern Slavery. Concerning that error, Wilson wrote, “Given the controversial nature of the point we were making, it was absolutely essential that no handles be presented to our adversaries. But those handles were presented anyway, and it was not just Steve’s responsibility that this happened. The responsibility was also mine.” I think he is admitting that the blunder tells against their credibility as historians. It certainly does. This contrasts with your attitude, ” I am sick and tired of people using this as evidence that the people on the committee were careless in the report.” I don’t know the details of how that mistake got in. But the fact that it wasn’t caught before the report was published does tell against the credibility of those who had an obligation to be especially careful to present the FV position accurately.

  40. magma2 said,

    October 26, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    That being said, not all Presbyteries have these problems, and you should not attack the whole PCA for what amounts to a few Presbyteries’ problems.

    Even in James River there are problems with Federal Visonists that seem to be, at least from my POV, systematically ignored. I have to imagine that the problem is more widespread then you make it out to be. As I mentioned some time ago, there was a time when I was a PCA flag waver and would tell anyone looking for a church to check out the nearest PCA church. I would be a fool to do that now and I won’t blame just a couple of “bad” or derelict Presbyteries when my own needs to be rid of FV elders, teachers and their sympathizers.

  41. magma2 said,

    October 26, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Therefore, your opponents must be unReformed.

    I’ll go further so that there is no confusion. They are non-Christians. They are no different from the Romanists they emulate with their false scheme of salvation via covenantal faithfulness. They also have a variation of the Romanist scheme of initial and final justification where all baptized members have the first, but only the so-called “decretally” elect have the second and in accordance with works done by faith. You can go on about how these poor men are being misunderstood, but their words and writings stand for themselves and virtually every Reformed denomination has found their teachings to be contrary to the Confessional standards and not merely on matters of secondary importance, unless you think JBFA is of secondary importance.

    As I’ve said above, a considerable amount of gullibility remains, so if you want to believe these men are Reformed Christians because they say so and because they whine that they’re forever “misunderstood,” even when their own words are read right back to them, go right ahead.

  42. Dave Rockwell said,

    October 26, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    If a doctor misdiagnoses a patient’s disease which leads to death and then later changes his mind on the diagnosis, should he stay in practice? Elders failed, Lane, and none of them are admitting it or showing any remorse for their failure. If you know of any, please give me their names. I would like to personally thank them.

    Lane, most of the decisions that are made at presbytery are purely political. And, you know it. And, I know it.

    If presbyteries are really intent on following through on the unanimous report of the committee, then why are they not calling for special sessions? Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are to grind the wheels slowly when it comes to false teaching.

  43. greenbaggins said,

    October 26, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Well, Christopher, I am *not* arguing that because I disagree with them, that therefore they are not Reformed. I am arguing that they are not confessional (and some of them have openly admitted that we need seriously to revise the confessions (Meyers) or chuck the confessions (Shepherd)), and that therefore my disagreement with them is large. So, I am actually arguing the opposite way that you think I am arguing. I have argued this way for the entire existence of my blog. With regard to this issue, if you have a group of people, many of whom claim that the WS need to be revised seriously, and yet they claim to toe the confessional line, is there not cognitive dissonance here? They are straining at the bit to revise the confession. Of course, they know they will never be able to do that in the PCA. They don’t have the votes. Further, many of these people’s views of “holding to the confession” is actually loose subscription, not good faith subscription. Many people are confusing the two. The latter means that we take on good faith a person’s subscription *to the entire WS* minus whatever approved exceptions he takes. It *does not* mean that a person can manufacture a WS within the WS to which he holds, without having to list his exceptions. This is plain from the recently approved rule changes to the BCO wherein all exceptions have to be noted. Loose subscription means that the general substance of the WS is to be adhered to, but not necessarily all the particulars. The PCA does not allow this form of subscription.

    So, to say that the FV’ers are confessionally Reformed begs the question of how they see themselves as confessional. I would argue that at least many of them hold to a loose subscription. This is not confessional, and it is out of accord with the BCO. Plus, as I have been arguing now for well over a year, the FV’s theology is out of accord with the standards. They think it is not, but it is. Again, who decides whether someone’s theology is in or out of accord with the Standards? IT IS NOT THE PERSON BUT THE DENOMINATION WHO DECIDES THIS. The denomination has decided that the FV is out of accord with the WS.

    Sean, the problem may be more widespread. However, the vote at GA did not seem to indicate that. I am by no means advocating looseness in how we proceed. It should be scrupulously fair, and scrupulously confessional. But I do not think that people should be condemning the PCA like they have been doing. In fact, I am pronouncing a moratorium on such comments.

  44. Dave Rockwell said,

    October 26, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    This is your blog, Lane, so I will respect your moratorium by bowing out.

  45. magma2 said,

    October 26, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Dave, you can say whatever you like on my blog (I might pick up this thread over there when I get the time, God willing), or start your own blog which you should consider doing anyway. You have a lot of good things to say. Besides, the PCA could fall into apostasy very quickly and in one vote of the SJC where the only thing obedient Christians can do is separate from her. I love the PCA, it is where I really learned the rudiments of the Christian faith for the first time after professing Christ some 15 years prior. But, as you point out, it is teeter over the abyss even if our host here isn’t willing to look over the edge.

  46. Dave Rockwell said,

    October 26, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    #42 Thanks for the invite and the encouragement but I believe a moratorium would be good for my soul right now. I love the PCA too – it was also where I was first introduced to the reformed faith over 20 years ago. It is heartbreaking to see stray so far from the truth.

    It is my intent not to condemn but to exhort the elders in this denomination that has been my church home for so many years to face up and take responsibility for their mistakes. For only then can we continue to move forward with the gospel. I’ll check back in a few months to see if there is any evidence of progress in those slow grinding wheels that Lane mentioned earlier.

  47. Christopher McCartney said,

    October 27, 2007 at 11:32 am

    “Loose subscription means that the general substance of the WS is to be adhered to, but not necessarily all the particulars.” Did you mean to define loose subscription as not requiring one to take exceptions? What you actually said does not make “loose subscription” any different from good-faith subscription. Good faith subscription, as you noted, does not require one to adhere to all the particulars. It only require you to state your exception to any particular that you don’t adhere to. FVers agree with that. Witness the FV joint statement: “In any place where statements here would constitute an exception to whatever confessional standards we are under, they are exceptions that have been noted and approved by our respective presbyteries or classes.”

    Is that compatible with wanting to revise the confession? Before addressing that, let me note that you again fall into the methodological error of using what some FVers have said — in this case one FVer: Meyers — to attack FV as such. That’s like saying Republicans are pro-choice because Arlan Spectre is pro-choice. (and Shepherd isn’t even FV — influenced it, yes, but, unless you want to attack anyone who has been influenced by someone who isn’t Confessionally Reformed, his status vis a vis the Confession is irrelevant to the question at hand). “FV” means what Meyers and Wilson and Lusk and Wilkins et al. have in common. So if it’s not in accord with Wilson’s view, it’s not FV (it may or may not be compatible with FV, but it’s not part of what FV is).

    Now back to the question. Everything in your #40 gives the impression that Meyers wants to revise particular doctrines that the Confession teaches — that there are a significant number of propositions the Confession asserts that Meyers thinks it ought not assert. Now, that in itself doesn’t mean he doesn’t subscribe to the confession in good faith. I think there are things the Confession asserts which it shouldn’t, even though I agree that they are true. For instance, the Confession asserts that transubstantiation, in addition to being unScriptural, is repugnant to common sense and reason. But the Confession has no business telling us what is or isn’t repugnant to common sense and reason. It should stick to telling us what is Scriptural.

    But I expect the main thing Meyers wants to revise about the Confession is not the propositions it asserts, but the terminology it uses to express those propositions. One can believe that a) the Confession defines many of its terms in ways that are not the same as the way the Bible uses those terms, b) doing so has the unfortunate effect of confusing the saints, and so the Confession should be revised to teach the same doctrines by means of different words, and still believe c) Every single doctrine that the Confession teaches is true. This was the point of Xon’s challenge: give one example of a proposition that FV asserts and the Confession denies, or vice versa, other than noted exceptions FVers have taken. This is not a new thing that I’m just now bringing up. This has been in play for a long time. And yet you continue to ignore the distinction between objecting to the terminological choices of the Westminster divines, and objecting to the propositions they asserted. It is not right for you to ignore that distinction at this stage.

    So, getting back to the point I was making in my earlier comments. Here you have these people who, by their own interpretation of themselves, agree with both the substance of Reformed theology, and with every single proposition the Confession teaches, minus noted exceptions. They do not always claim that they are misrepresented whenever someone disagrees with them, even if the disagreement is big. This is clear when they debate someone who is openly unReformed. They claim to be misrepresented when they are presented as teaching propositions contrary to the Confession, other than those to which they have taken exception. So, there’s no ground for complaint about how often they claim to be misrepresented: because the disagreements we’re talking about BEGAN with someone claiming they were teaching something that they were already on record as rejecting. This was the point I was making in #16, and has continued to be the focus of all my comments. What you said in #33 was presented as a rebuttal to my point in #16 (unless you were just ignoring what I said, and “responding” to me by saying something totally irrelevant — but I don’t think you were doing that); it was presented as an attempt to block what I was trying to do with my distinction between disagreement-in-general, and disagreement-when-your-opponent-is-accusing-you-of-teaching-some-unReformed-doctrine.
    The only way it could block that would be if you were inferring their being outside the Confession from your (serious) disagreement with them. I know full well that you do not intend to argue this way. My contention is that it is implicit in the logic of the way you are responding to my attempts to show you that there’s nothing fishy about FVers claiming to be misrepresented by those who say they are teaching things that they are already on record as denying.

  48. October 27, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Re #29

    In my comment above I mentioned a recent SJC decision that “overturned a grossly unbiblical excommunication the [Louisiana] presbytery had performed.” I would like to make plain that by “grossly unbiblical” I was not referring to motive or malice or anything like that, but to an unbiblical assumption of jurisdiction by the presbytery. In re-reading the record of the case in the minutes of General Assembly, the decision to assume jurisdiction over a member of a particular church does seem to have been well-intentioned, yet erroneous and unbiblical nonetheless (which is why the SJC overturned it). Thank you to the good brother who emailed me his concerns.

  49. October 27, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Re #45

    May I request that anyone who has made use of my comment #29 also include my comment #45?

    Thanks!

  50. pduggie said,

    October 29, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    I thought Rich Lusk did a pretty good job of showing the OPC report did not cite him correctly

    “First, let’s examine what I have actually said about the requirement of sinless perfection. The statement of mine the Report quotes above affirming the keepability of the law has a very specific context – a context which the Report
    conveniently omits. The Report is quoting from my colloquium essay, “Reworking the Covenant of Works: A Response to ‘The Biblical Plan of Salvation,’” found in The Auburn Avenue Theology, Pros and Cons, edited by E. C. Beisner. The quotation above comes from my discussion of the Mosaic law, on page 128. It is the third point in a ten point argument for the graciousness of the Mosaic covenantal administration. How many of these points does the Report interact with? Zero. They simply pluck a statement out of its wider theological framework in the essay and attribute to it a totally foreign meaning. They take a claim about what it meant be a law-keeper under the Mosaic administration, and project it back onto the Adamic situation without warrant. In context, I am dealing with the law as an administration of the covenant of grace (WCF 7.5) and a typological foreshadowing of the good things to come, given by God to his redeemed people for a specified period of time in history (cf. Gal. 3:15-4:7; Heb. 8-10). My point is show that the law is indeed gracious, as the Confession teaches, though it cannot be identified with the Abrahamic or New covenants, strictly speaking. I was explaining how the Bible can speak of believers as having kept the law, despite that fact that they are imperfect.”

    It seems to me that Lusk’s interaction of with the OPC report by and large accurately avoids the rabbit trail of “misunderstanding:, by focusing not on misunderstandings of Lusk, but careless misreadings of Lusk that make him out to be out of conformity with the WCF.


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