The FV – Multiplying by Dividing

Posted by Andrew Webb

On 11/28/2007 Pastor Doug Wilson of the CREC, speculating on the possible outcomes of the SJC’s deliberations over the matter of Louisiana Presbytery’s failure to indict Steve Wilkins, opined on his blog that what the FV men were actually looking for was a trial, where they could finally hash everything out in public. Wilson wrote:

“Wilkins would then be tried in some venue, and he would have the full presumption of innocence in that trial. The prosecution would have to prove that he was not in conformity with the Confession, instead of doing it the Internet way, which is to baldly assert that someone is out of conformity with the Confession, leaving him to try to prove his way back into conformity.

So this would be a real debate, a real confrontation, requiring real arguments. The accused would have the advantage, instead the current slander system, where the prosecution has the advantage. At the same time, genuine theological experts from both sides would be called to testify. It would be the trial of the century. Finally we would have a setting in which we all could define our terms and settle the matter. It would be fantastic. Throw us into that briar patch.”

As most of you already know, on Saturday January 19th the Louisiana Presbytery gave Doug Wilson what he said they wanted when they voted to plead guilty to the SJC’s second indictment to whit that they: “failed to find a strong presumption of guilt that some of the views of TE Wilkins were out of conformity with the Constitution, and thus was derelict in its duty under BCO 13-9, 40-4, and 40-5, and has thereby caused much unresolved pastoral confusion and harm.

TE Wilkins’ views, as articulated in the Record of the Case in 2007-8 and in the following examples, clearly constitute a strong presumption of guilt that his views are out of accord with the Constitution and require a fair and impartial court to proceed to trial.”

They also voted to refer the matter of trying Steve Wilkins to the SJC. Thus they threw Brer Wilkins into the very briar patch Wilson had maintained the FV men wanted to be in all along.

This Monday, however, Doug Wilson reported the following on his blog:

“Yesterday the congregation of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church voted (without dissent) to leave the PCA. They also voted to have Steve Wilkins continue as their pastor, and to approach the CREC for membership. They have been adopted as a mission church of Grace Covenant Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, pastored by Randy Booth. Steve was a member in good standing of the Louisiana Presbytery and consequently may transfer his membership according to the PCA BCO (38-3a), with the presbytery simply recording the action. The Louisiana Presbytery has been formally notified of all this. We welcome Auburn Avenue into our fellowship of churches with an odd mixture of grief and joy.”

The Stated Clerk of the PCA was also informed of the decision and that AAPC was no longer part of the PCA on the day after the AAPC congregation voted. To say that these moves occurred at light-speed compared to the slow and deliberate pace of normal Presbyterian deliberation would be an understatement to say the least.

Within nine days of being informed that the very trial they said they wanted would take place, Wilkins and company decamped from the PCA claiming that he was leaving as a member in good standing, despite his Presbytery admitting that there was a strong presumption of guilt regarding his teachings and referring the matter for trial to the SJC (which indicates that proceedings were about to be initiated and charges drawn up against Wilkins himself.) Clearly, we would be extremely naive if we were to believe that plans for leaving in the eventuality of a trial being announced had not already been at least thought out.

The fact is that the FV has indicated once again that the last thing they want is for their theology to go to trial – at least not in any venue they don’t control.

Now they will no doubt protest that the SJC was somehow “stacked” against them, but such protests should be seen for the sham they are. The SJC was not “appointed” by a moderator, nor was it a commission created to deal with the FV problem. It is a body of elders drawn from all the Presbyteries of the PCA elected on the floor of the GA over many years. As almost every observer of the SJC has noted, this body is made up almost entirely of the moderates or broadly evangelical wing of the PCA, many of its members either supported or were also active in the PPLN movement which created “Good Faith Subscription” and struck down the “Full Subscription” that TRs favored. Additionally, the men on the SJC tend to be the “big names” in the history of the denomination rather than “small minded,” unpopular, non-mainstream, theological wonks. In fact a quick review of the actions of the men of the SJC will show that they were overwhelmingly in favor of the “non-TR” position in almost every PCA debate during the 90s and early 2000s.

What we are in fact seeing, is the growth of the CREC as a specifically FV denomination via the division of existing Reformed denominations. Via conferences, books, blogs, and unfortunately in at least two of our seminaries, they mold future CREC pastors who then enter existing non-FV denominations and end up “crash-landing” the particular congregations they go on to Pastor in the CREC. Few, if any, denominations in history have had such a high percentage of pastors who have been deposed from such a wide variety of other orthodox denominations, or who left their original denomination under threat of trial. At this point, their church growth model seems to be almost entirely based on splitting or engulfing existing congregations via FV theology. (As such it might be interesting to compute how much money other denominations have spent to create congregations for the CREC!)

The only way orthodox denominations are going to be able to put an end to this multiplication by division process is by effectively shutting off the stream of FV leaning pastors into their denominations. This will only be accomplished by:

  • Removing FV candidates from coming under care of Presbytery and not taking on new ones
  • Removing existing FV pastors as quickly as possible, before they can affect new candidates for ministry in their denomination (this is especially critical in the churches around our seminaries) – call it filling in the poisoned wells.
  • Removing FV leaning seminary Profs from the Seminaries that feed our denominations

This may sound like strong medicine, but the illness it is designed to treat is extremely serious, if not fatal. If we don’t do these things, I can virtually guarantee you that both the high rate of Tiber swimming (moving to the Roman Catholic Church) by FV infected families and the CREC church growth plan will continue.


  1. its.reed said,

    January 29, 2008 at 4:16 pm


    I suspect we have no choice if we are to be faithful to our vows and convictions but to move forward. Deliberately, consistently with BCO, and above all, humbly and mournfully we need to say enough is enough.

    We can keep talking. We need to do so without the threat to the sheep ever present.

    I fully recognize that FV supporters will think such sentiments are rash and ridiculous at best. They’re not easily borne sentiments; they weigh heavy on my soul.

    If someone has other advice as to how to proceed in a manner keeping with our vows and convictions, I’ll listen. Yet …

  2. January 29, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    I say go for it.

    It reminds me of when a conservative and godly ELCA minister friend was confronted with the synod proposals to ordain open homosexuals and produce a liturgy for sanctifying homosexual unions. Though he was adamantly opposed to such things, he said he hoped they would pass because the synod would be making a clear statement about what it was going to stand for and how it was going to conduct its business.

    So continue your witch hunt. When you’re done and you’ve rooted out all the heretics, God willing, you’ll wonder where everybody went. Like I said elsewhere, it won’t take long before the PCA becomes the RPCGA.

  3. January 29, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Is the trial against the LAP still going forward?

  4. David Gray said,

    January 29, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    >We can keep talking. We need to do so without the threat to the sheep ever present.

    Perhaps the PCA will now turn to more serious threats to its existence such as feminist trends within the denomination, well exhibited in the pile of shame known as “By Faith” magazine. But then the PCA seems to be neglecting Luther’s guidance on where to fight…

  5. its.reed said,

    January 29, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Ref #4:


    I know we do not agree on the nature of the FV. Your comments demonstrate, as I remember from other conversations with you brother, that you in no way believe the FV is an error, and that those of us who do are just plain wrong. Accordingly, you see our opposition as wasteful and foolish.

    I acknowledge your convictions. To the best of my ability I promise to disagree with you without rancor, desire to revert to name calling, or saying things that belittle you. I further promise to respond graciously when you think I’ve failed to uphold this promise.

    Would you find it possible to do the same?

  6. its.reed said,

    January 29, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    P.S. hopefully this last post will serve as an example of the possibility of continuing to dialogue.

  7. January 29, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    […] January 29, 2008 in federal vision Tags: federal vision Andy Webb explains how the Rev. Mr. Wilkins, who left the PCA in good standing (don’t leave that part out; that’s his new name: The Rev Mr. Wilkins-who-left-the-PCA-in-good-standing) wanted a trial but not that kind of trial. […]

  8. January 29, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Isn’t this move of Rev. Wilkins and the church which sympathizes with his views into the CREC ultimately good for the peace, purity and unity of the PCA? If so, why complian about their leaving?

  9. Gabe Martini said,

    January 29, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Well, what are you waiting for, Andy? Get on with it.

  10. Kyle said,

    January 29, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    But then the PCA seems to be neglecting Luther’s guidance on where to fight…

    No doubt Luther thought feminism a greater threat to the Church than incipient works righteousness! Feminism indeed is a massive problem. But it is nothing compared with tampering with the very heart of the Reformation. “Sola fide, sola fide, sola fide” cries the Federal Vision. When they show themselves to have a defective understanding of “faith,” thus endangering the very doctrine they claim to uphold, they then cry, “The Reformed tradition, the Reformed tradition, the Reformed tradition.” When their position is demonstrated to be apart from the historic and orthodox Reformed tradition, they counter with “sola scriptura, semper reformanda, sola scriptura.”

    Trust ye not in lying words, saith the Lord.

    God help us, and have mercy upon His church.

  11. Ron Henzel said,

    January 29, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Within nine days of being informed that the very trial they said they wanted would take place, Wilkins and company decamped from the PCA claiming that he was leaving as a member in good standing…

    How can anyone claim these people aren’t inherently schismatic?

  12. Daniel Kok said,

    January 29, 2008 at 6:08 pm


    You took the words right out of my mouth.

    However, I do have a question for you: did Wilkins ever express desire for a trial? Your post seems to assume this (as did I) but only Wilson really made mention of it as far as I know.

    Thank you.

  13. Andrew Webb said,

    January 29, 2008 at 6:22 pm


    No those were Wilson’s words, but regarding his call for a trial note the use of the plural:

    “Finally we would have a setting in which we all could define our terms and settle the matter. It would be fantastic. Throw us into that briar patch.”

    The obvious implication is that a trial is something that he and all the other FV defenders really thought would be fantastic. Apparently though we missed it, and they were asking to be thrown into that briar patch for the same reasons that Brer Rabbit asked to be thrown into a briar patch…

    Regarding Gabe’s question, please be patient Gabe, we are trying to accommodate your request, but the PCA generally takes longer than 9 days to get most things done. If you FV guys could help out by not telling us you won’t go without a trial, forcing us to go the long route and then leaving just when everything is finally in place, that would help everyone concerned.

  14. Daniel Kok said,

    January 29, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Re. #13:

    Right, but I don’t know of any evidence that Wilkins himself wanted the trial. Anyways it is a minor point.

  15. January 29, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Andy, let me begin by praising you for your fine use of the word decamped. But other than that, I am afraid we have to part ways.

    Two points: The first is this — please keep in mind that now, as before, I am speaking for myself, not for Steve or Auburn Avenue. They have only been in the CREC for a few days and the mind control thing doesn’t come on line for at least a month.

    Secondly, from where I sit an indictment that sets forth the alternatives upon a presumed conviction, one of them being expulsion of the entire presbytery from the PCA, is an indictment that is leaning on people to get them to do something. In this case, the intimidation worked, and the presbytery did it. As Dylan said, you don’t have to be a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing. What I was calling for in the piece you quoted was a trial — not a field trip to Australia to watch some of those bouncy animals.

  16. January 29, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Andy, it is also worth pointing out the consistent pattern we see here regarding the CREC and FV. Wilkins comes in a line of FV proponents who have (for various reaons) left orthodox Reformed denoms and are now in the CREC. First Rich Lusk, from the PCA, then John Barach (from my federation, the URC). Recall also that Schlissel (remember him?) pastors an independent church.

    So this means that as of this week, not a single one of the original “Monroe Four” from the AAPC 2002 conference are pastors in a confessionally Reformed NAPARC church. This is a telling fact about the state of FV today, and it is also a disturbing pattern that a denomination like the CREC would serve as safe harbor for folks like this.

  17. David Gray said,

    January 29, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    >I know we do not agree on the nature of the FV. Your comments demonstrate, as I remember from other conversations with you brother, that you in no way believe the FV is an error, and that those of us who do are just plain wrong. Accordingly, you see our opposition as wasteful and foolish.

    Actually Pastor Reed I have, on multiple occasions on this blog, indicated that I thought Pastor Wilkins might well need admonishment, albeit not on the scale that some here advocate.

    >I acknowledge your convictions. To the best of my ability I promise to disagree with you without rancor, desire to revert to name calling, or saying things that belittle you. I further promise to respond graciously when you think I’ve failed to uphold this promise.

    Thank you.

    >Would you find it possible to do the same?

    In what way did I fail to do that (as is implicit in your comment)? The PCA has a serious problem with rebellion against overt Biblical commands regarding the roles of the sexes. One place that has been manifested is in “By Faith”, a product so flawed that it would fit in well with the PCUSA. (unless they’ve radically altered their product since my subscription in the first year of its existence). I honestly see the PCA moving down the PCUSA path if it does not act with vigor and that must happen soon. Otherwise in 20-25 years the PCA will be congratulating itself for not having overtly homosexual ministers as the PCUSA likely will at that point. My concerns on this score are hardly unique and predate all the FV scuffle.

  18. its.reed said,

    January 29, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Ref. #20:

    David: my quibble is with comments that have rhetorical flourish without substantive content. Such comments offer mocking without healing.

    I believe your prior comment (more or less) fit this pattern. If you offered the explanation you provide in this comment, your rebuke in the prior comment would have been heard as you intend it, as words intended to bless, not mock.

    It is very difficult to say the kinds of things to one another we believe are true without offering hurt at this point. My desire is that we exercise our convictions in a manner that expressly seeks to bless even when it has to hurt.

    You have demonstrated on this blog that you are gifted at seeing and calling others on their arguments you disagree with. You have also demonstrated some witticism in this regard.

    These observations are not offered as a blanket criticism. In other, less serious matters, witticism is a good and appropriate thing. Yet I think that things have reached such a level of serious disagreement that we cannot afford the risk of offending unnecessarily and unneedfully.

    Let me be clear here. I wince at your opinion in its more fully fleshed out form. I do not sense you mocking me however. That you did not intend that in your prior post is obvious now.

    I sense in you someone who is sincere in your differences. Thanks for considering my request, even when we both know that there will be others (from both sides) who wil not.

  19. David Gray said,

    January 29, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Pastor Reed, thanks for the advice. I appreciate your approach in these matters. In a time when the word “pastoral” is occasionally abused I think your approach merits such an adjective.

  20. its.reed said,

    January 29, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Ref. #20:

    Thanks for the kind words. Any such reference to me is surely to Christ’s glory. I’m grateful to know the truth of this personally.

    I do look forward to the day when we can see eye to eye on these things. May God’s glory be seen in making this happen this side of eternity. In the meantime, you have my committment to pray for and with you.

  21. tim prussic said,

    January 29, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Not to malign any or every man in the PCA leadership, but at this point, I don’t think I’d touch the PCA with a 10-foot pole. It divides against itself (accuses the opposed of division) while men within its ranks yearn for their pound of flesh (see post #15 for an example). It’s all pretty sickening to me – and I’m an outsider looking in at the FV and PCA. It sure LOOKS like the PCA stacked a “study” committee, which generated a great showing of hands, made use of a judicial committee OUTSIDE of the court of appeals, and now has taste for blood. All this seems foul and very distasteful and makes the PCA look far less than savory.

    It’ll be real easy to respond and say that I’ve seen things wrongly, but defensive blog entries aren’t too persuasive. I could not doubt that there are thousands of Reformed folks out there JUST LIKE ME – seeing things how I see them. Maybe the PCA isn’t looking as good in its “victory” as some think that it is. I know, I’m crazy, but it just might be worth thinking about it.

  22. Mark T. said,

    January 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    If I’m not mistaken, the whole “I’m gonna imitate John Madden drawing Xs and Os for the whole world to see” threat assumed the preexistence a kangaroo court. Why else the need for Xs and Os? The fix was in. The fix has always been in. He has never attributed righteousness or justice to the PCA’s courts because he has known from the beginning that certain men had cut back-room deals to pull all the levers beneath the desk.

    Perhaps Burke Shade could shed some light on this for us.

  23. Mike Gore said,

    January 29, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    May I ask what are the two seminaries that are struggling with Federal Vision

    I find it hard to believe that so many people want to keep taking cheap shots at the leadership in the PCA. I admit I have my problems with the PCA (Using Robert’s Rules of Order, emerging churches that fly under the banner of the PCA, to name a few), but they have all along showed a desire to keep the peace in the life of the church and purity in her doctrines. The committee that studied this issue was not stacked, but tried their best to understand the fv and present their teachings in the best light possible. The GA could have let a lot more men speak (but those darn robert’s rules kept them from speaking)

    I do think we need to remember these churches leaving, churches in the crec, and fv guys still in our confessional churches are confessing brothers and sisters. We must remember that our calling them to repentance or taking them to trial is done out of love, not hatred. No one is on a witch hunt, or desires to just be controversal. The Federal Vision does not conform to the standards, nor does it find its doctrines tucked in Holy Scripture. Godly men, the elders of the church, are doing what they have been called to do…protect the sheep, both in their life and in their doctrine. We as the laity of church should pray for those over us, and always be careful to watch our attitude and words when speaking with these men. They are not in some super spiritual catagory, but do deserve the respect their office grants them.

    Finally in the end we are all sinners, and have no hope but Christ (His blood and righteousness)

    Your Fellow Servant in Christ,
    Mike Gore

  24. Mark T. said,

    January 29, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    In this situation, the more public accountability the better. If the tangle is now resolved, then thank the Lord. But if it continues (through parliamentary chicanery, old-boy-network-pressure, or other means), then at some point there will be a stopping point, a trial. At that point, the accusers will have to make a case that depends on more than just bare assertions. If and when that happens, it would be good to have all eyes focused on the accusers, and for said accusers to have the mike turned on, and the tape running. Perhaps they have not thought this far out, but I don’t see why they are pressing for this. Those hostile to the FV have also been equally hostile to any setting where verbal exchange or cross-examination would be possible. . . . Perhaps the goal has just been to “make things hot” for Steve, so that he voluntarily leaves the PCA. Then they could explain the heresy in detail to various bought-and-paid-for crowds, with no theological debate necessary, and no robust interchanges in the Q&A. The problem is that Steve is a churchman, and has no plans to make it easy for them by acting the part of a radical individualist. He is going to make them prove what they are saying, and this will prove awkward for them because they can’t. (“More On Louisiana Presbytery”)

  25. January 29, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Well, okay, but only because you asked — here are some x’s and o’s. Mike Gore said above (#26), “The committee that studied this issue was not stacked, but tried their best to understand the fv and present their teachings in the best light possible.” The way to make your point on something like this would be to say, “The committee that studied this issue was not stacked, but contained representatives of the various doctrinal positions involved.” That is what it means to deny the charge of “stacked.” It is not to the point to say, “The committee that studied this issue was not stacked, but contained men who have all been to Cracker Barrel at least once.”

    With regard to Auburn’s reasons for leaving, I believe there will be a public statement/s from them soon. I won’t presume to speak for them. When they have done so, I will be happy to defend them against slanders on the net — were there to be any. I feel like there might be, just call it a hunch. If they had not left the PCA, and were in a kangaroo court, I would have done everything I could, x’s and o’s and all. If it had been a real trial, designed to find out the truth instead of designed to arrive at prearranged conclusions, I would have sat quietly in the cyber-gallery, doodling quietly on my note pad.

  26. Tim Harris said,

    January 29, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    To the question in #14: In an earlier thread, someone reported that Wilkins joked that he might have to bring charges against himself, just to force a real trial to take place — which certainly implies that at least at that time he would welcome a public trial. (I think it was on this site, but it might have been on Wilson’s.)

  27. Mike Gore said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Pastor Wilson to correct others you may try to have a tone of humbleness and grace. Those who are rude and sarcastic never really win anyone over. My point is not that there were those with various doctrinal positions, but men trained to defend the Standards. These men, taking a clean look at the doctrines of the FV and those of the Westminster Standards, found the FV to be outside the Standards. More importantly they found the FV teaching false doctrines and that these doctrines were dangerous to the life and peace of the church. So in effect the committee was not stacked with bias anger Reformed elders. Many of the FV promoters try to make the committee and the PCA in general to be full of angry reformed elders out to get any one like poor Pastor Wilkins. This is not the case and the plea for sympathy by making false statements is rather child-like anyways. The truth is the committee did its job by protecting the church like they were charged to do so. So actually the committee was not “stacked” or maybe you and I just have different views of what “stacked” really means. I just want you to know since I have this moment to say that I pray for you weekly. As a brother in Christ I hope you return from dark path you have chosen and repent and return to your brothers and sisters in the confessional reformed churches. I say that just so you know not all of us in the reformed camps have a bitter anger towards any of you FVers, but out of love call you to repentance.

    Always Your Servant in Christ,
    Mike Gore

  28. January 30, 2008 at 1:06 am

    A study committee exists to study a subject, not to get to an ordained conclusion. That is why non-stacked committees include representation from the other side, even if it is only a minority representation. This helps to ensure the appearance and reality of making sure you represented those views correctly, even if, at the end of the day, you wind up rejecting those views. To not do this, for the sake of a faux-unanimity, is what it means to “stack” a committee. The PCA committee was therefore a stacked committee, and all the earnestness, prayerfulness, and upholding the standards-ness in the world won’t change that. Just admit you stacked the committee, or name one person on it that could have been reasonably expected to write a minority report. If it were a jury, you wouldn’t put FV guys on it, of course, but then, you wouldn’t put FV critics on it either. It was a study committee, not a jury, and it undertook that business in a manner singularly unlike other study committees. In short, it was a joke.

    I didn’t say the committee was stacked with anger — it was stacked with men of a certain conviction. That is what “stacked committee” means. They could have all been swell guys, and probably are, but that doesn’t keep it from being a stacked committee.

    As for the “tone of humbleness and grace,” I suppose you were referring to my joke about Cracker Barrel. Tell me, is it more indicative of humbleness and grace to say that fellow Reformed ministers are on a “dark path”? This is the approach that holds you can say virtually anything about anybody, just so long as you do it with “grief in your heart” about our “straying brethren.” But about the only thing that can make the night of the long knives worse is sanctimonious talk about the night of the long knives.

    “It grieved us deeply to have to do that,” one says.

    Not as deeply as it greaved him.

  29. curate said,

    January 30, 2008 at 2:00 am

    Bravo Doug.

    To those who deplore Pastor Wilkins’ leaving the PCA without being tried, I would like to propose a hypothetical situation.

    There is often a difference between the formal theology of a church and its actual, practical theology.

    What if the PCA, being Reformed on paper, were in practice found to be either baptistic or semi-baptistic in practice – say,on the sacraments? To cite an example, Mister Webb on this blog, under the heading on Preserving the Absolute Negatives, post 58, denied that the sacraments convey and impart the things that they signify.

    The Confession that he has sworn to obey explicitly states that the sacraments convey the spiritual blessings signified, with the necessary qualifications.

    Here is a prima facie violation of the WCF and the Reformed Faith as received. Suppose that he were brought to trial for this transgression, and he knew that everyone on the Special Committee disagreed, and that not one of them shared his semi-baptistic convictions.

    Would there be any doubt in his mind on the outcome of such a trial?

    Let us add to this Mr. Webb’s conviction that his view is that of Hodges, Dabney, Ryle, and Lloyd-Jones, and any number of other famous evangelicals.

    Would be not feel aggrieved that his view was not represented by at least one or two of the committee? Would he submit to a trial knowing in advance the outcome, under the conviction that his is the true, orthodox position? Would he risk being defrocked and deposed, and publicly humiliated?

    He might. Socrates did in a similar situation.

    What would you do?

  30. curate said,

    January 30, 2008 at 2:02 am

    I hasten to say that I am in no way presuming to speak for Pastor Wilkins.

  31. HaigLaw said,

    January 30, 2008 at 4:46 am

    LaP has a special called meeting scheduled for Feb. 9. What advice can you brethren offer for us regarding any possible further action on the SJC indictment or other matters relative to AAPC’s and Pastor Wilkins’ withdrawal from the PCA?

  32. Ron Henzel said,

    January 30, 2008 at 6:05 am

    Christopher wrote in comment 2: “…it won’t take long before the PCA becomes the RPCGA.” I suppose if by “it won’t take long” you’re thinking in terms of geologic time…but then the RPCGA doesn’t believe in geologic time, does it? It’s true that some Reformed groups are so narrow they can look through a keyhole with both eyes, but—hey! Anyone that flushes a tyrannical, dissembling paedocommunionist out of their midst can’t be all bad.

  33. Ron Henzel said,

    January 30, 2008 at 6:31 am


    You wrote in comment 30: “…with the necessary qualifications.” If you glossed over that point any more quickly I would have mistaken it for a burp. The “necessary qualifications” stand at the center of the issue; they are no mere asterisk to this debate. But then, by so writing you are proving consistent with your FV mentors. Douglas Wilson wrote, “Baptism in water does establish, ex opere operato, a binding relation to the covenant and the Lord of the covenant” (“Sacramental Efficacy in the Westminster Standards,” in E. Calvin Beisner, ed., The Auburn Avenue Theology Pros and Cons, [Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA: Knox Theological Seminary, 2004], 242).

  34. Scott said,

    January 30, 2008 at 6:33 am

    Mr Haig,

    I do not have much experience with our process but, biblically, when one is wrong,
    repentance involves:

    1) admitting it
    2) forsaking it
    3) seeking restitution/reconciliation

    I’m not sure how this plays out procedurally or corporately but the purpose is to reclaim and restore the penitent, shut out the impenitent, promote peace and protect Christ’s Church from serious error and harm.


  35. GLW Johnson said,

    January 30, 2008 at 6:53 am

    Doug Wilson you have no shame, none at all. You sit on your throne in Moscow passing judgment on any Reformed denomination that dares to declare that the FV is not compatible with the Westminster standards. How many is that to date Doug? That you despise true Presbyterianism is seen in your mocking assessment of the PCA study report and the SJC. Your schismatic reputation is now engraved in stone. Do you really think that churches in the NAPARC are ever going to extend to you and the CREC the right hand of fellowship? No, you are going to find yourselves on a ever shrinking island, quarantined as it were -and deservedly so.

  36. David Gray said,

    January 30, 2008 at 7:27 am

    >No, you are going to find yourselves on a ever shrinking island, quarantined as it were -and deservedly so.

    I take it you mean shrinking in some figurative, not numerative sense.

  37. January 30, 2008 at 7:36 am

    HaigLaw, RE #32

    LaP has a special called meeting scheduled for Feb. 9. What advice can you brethren offer for us regarding any possible further action on the SJC indictment or other matters relative to AAPC’s and Pastor Wilkins’ withdrawal from the PCA?

    Well, that depends on what LAP truly believes. If they really feel that they are “not guilty” on Count 1, then they should be prepared to show explicitly how their examination of Wilkins and the criteria they used therein conformed to BCO 21-4, 21-5 and RAO 16-3(e)(5) as related directly to the wording of Count 1 of the indictment. If LAP feel that they cannot do that, then I’d recommend they just change their plea to “guilty” as soon as possible before March 6th.

    Personally, as I’ve said before, even a casual reading of their report shows that they did not use the BCO criteria in their evaluation.

    Also, pursuant to BCO 38-3, I believe that they have to “record and acknowledge” Wilkins withdrawal to the CREC per his request. My guess is that would simply involve a notation and report from the Stated Clerk, or the acting one in this case since the old Stated Clerk was from AAPC. Electing a new Stated Clerk wouldn’t be a bad idea. Since AAPC has already withdrawn from LAP as of last Sunday, they would not be present as voting commissioners or officers of the court.

    While you’re there, you might remind whomever said or thought that they had a “deal” with the SJC that no one on the SJC is authorized nor in a position to make a “deal”. No one “speaks for” any court in the PCA without the court first having voted on the issue. Then “speaking for the court” merely involves reporting on the court’s decision and possibly its rationale if that was included in the vote.

    I hope that you find this helpful. Our prayers are with you and the other commissioners in LAP as you all work through this difficult time.


  38. Keith LaMothe said,

    January 30, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Gary, Doug,

    Brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, please meet together somewhere in whatever way feasible so that you can reconcile.

    Grace, and peace,

  39. GLW Johnson said,

    January 30, 2008 at 9:21 am

    I have already tried that approach. Wilson has chosen the path of sowing division and I personally will have nothing to do with him and his followers.

  40. HaigLaw said,

    January 30, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Re: #38: Yes, Bob, those ideas are helpful. Thanks!

    If I implied we had some “deal,” lemme apologize. It was, I’m told, merely the view of a well-placed member, whose identify I’m not at liberty to disclose.

    Your other recommendations are under consideration.

    Another question: this may prove how naive I am, but here goes — what are the chances the GA would entertain a report or overture attempting to correct factual errors in the 9 points from the ad-interim committee’s report? As I’ve said before, there are those not sympathetic to FV who feel there are such errors.

  41. HaigLaw said,

    January 30, 2008 at 9:31 am

    re: #35: No argument with those, Scott.

    I think what we in LaP were trying to deal with, though, is the question — how and at what point do you let someone go in peace when you’ve exhausted all the steps of church discipline you know effectively how to do?

    I for one will say that, after seeing some raucous good-ole-boy meetings of the old Texas Presbytery of the PCA during 1978-83, I was proud to be a member of the LaP on Jan. 19. Our session had considered it inevitable that the LaP would be dissolved and we’d be petitioning the N. Tx Presbytery for admission. We were pleasantly surprised at an outcome that was far above what we had had the faith to ask or think.

    To me it seems there is a lot of debate over jots and tittles of procedure, without knowing all the details, without appreciating the broad sweep of the outcome. A controversial point of view has been substantially removed from out midst. And I say it that way because I have never stated publicly my own assessment of FV, hoping to remain an “honest broker,” in case one is needed and they can’t find anybody else. :)

  42. January 30, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Keith, I would be happy to meet with Gary, just as I have met (or visited) with other FV critics in the past.

    In the meantime, it is not “sowing division” to point out what the PCA actually did in this case. It is not shameless for me to point out how somebody else stacked a committee.

    If you all want to let Steve depart for the CREC without trying to turn it into an Event, you can certainly have that. I am more than happy to be quiet about this transition, and to do so in the hope that it will help bring some kind of peace to our communions. But if you stand on the chair, waving your shirt above your head like a helicopter, you will get a response, If you demand x’s and o’s from me, you will get them. Here is just one x to deal with — why did the PCA have to stack that study committee?

  43. greenbaggins said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Doug, I’m not trying to be picky here, but your last question is technically a double question that assumes the question of whether the committee was stacked. We are probably never going to agree on this point. We are just going to have to agree to disagree.

  44. January 30, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Lane, would that be like a “double-stack”? Man, I’m getting hungry.

  45. greenbaggins said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:17 am


  46. January 30, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Seriously, isn’t this move of Rev. Wilkins and the church which sympathizes with his views into the CREC ultimately good for the peace, purity and unity of the PCA? If so, why complain about their leaving? You may feel you “let one get away”. But, so what?

  47. greenbaggins said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Yes, I believe it is good for the peace, purity, and unity of the PCA. I will not complain about that. However, if the FV starts using this argument: Wilkins was never tried, so his theology is therefore orthodox, I will have to balk at that. Wilkins would have been tried, had he stayed. That all should acknowledge, and Wilkins himself tacitly acknowledge in the very act of leaving. What seems incongruous to us is that several FV advocates were clamoring for a trial of Wilkins, making much of the fact that we were prosecuting the presbytery, and not Wilkins. They do not seem to be clamoring for a trial now. To claim that the SJC would already have predetermined the outcome is slander, impugning the motives and integrity of men that the FV guys barely know. Furthermore, it is pure speculation. That there was a strong presumption of guilt is something the SJC has already been said, and that merely means that Wilkins should have been put on trial. As has been said before ad nauseum, such a judgment does not in any way, shape, or form prejudge an actual case. A lot can happen in such a case.

  48. Ken Pierce said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:29 am

    As one who has long advocated peaceable withdrawal as the answer to this whole crisis, let me say, yes, David, I am glad for our sakes they are gone.

    But, I am also grieved any time the gospel is muddled, good men’s reputations are impugned by micro-denominational overlords, and the clarion call of the pulpit strikes an uncertain sound, one reminiscent of the pied piper’s tune.

    Let’s not lose focus here. The accused will NEVER like the process. All of this carping about process is obfuscation. The question remains, “Could the men on the study committee, regardless of conviction, be impartial and fair?” The FV crowd says, “No.” I maintain the opposite. It is conceivable for a study committee to say, “These are not our convictions, but they are within the pale of the system of doctrine.” This they did not say.

    Wilson says the committee was stacked. This either shows purposeful misrepresentation or actual ignorance of the breadth of the PCA. ON that committee were more broad-minded men, and more narrowly confessional men. But, to a man, they are fair-minded men. OF course, when one disagrees with the conclusions, then the most fair-minded of men appear anything but.

    Frankly, I am sick and tired of the good bishop of Moscow passing judgment on the PCA. Kingdom multiplication does not occur by leeching discontened congregations from others but from reaching the lost.

    High ecclesiology is a great thing, according to the FV, unless and until such an ecclesiology rules one’s own convictions out of bounds. INstead of heeding the counsel of every major, and many smaller, Reformed denominations, these men maintain they are maligned and misunderstood in some grand transdenominational conspiracy. That strains the limits of credulity.

    The accused will always fault the process. Don’t lose sight of that fact.

  49. January 30, 2008 at 10:37 am

    What would be interesting is to see who Wilson and other FVer’s would chose for a PCA study committee or trial panel. Who would satisify their demand for impartiality?

  50. greenbaggins said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Mark Horne commented on this soon after the committee was formed. I believe that Frame and Poythress were on the list. I can’t remember who else.

  51. Andy Gilman said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:50 am

    In Andy Webb’s post – which documented the Wilson/FV bravado in sporting for a fight in the form of a trial, and then departing the field of battle as soon as the fight looked imminent – Andy said:

    Now they will no doubt protest that the SJC was somehow “stacked” against them, but such protests should be seen for the sham they are.

    But the agile Doug Wilson, performing a rearguard action while Wilkins departs the field, tries to befuddle the enemy with the unanticipated but historically effective alternative tactic, of protesting that the study sommittee was stacked! You won’t corner this nimble warrior.

  52. January 30, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Wasn’t the PCA formed not too awfully long ago when it “decamped” from another Presbyterian denomination over theological differences?

  53. Dave Sarafolean said,

    January 30, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Re. # 50

    Better yet, let them commission their own study committee to write a paper/book to show how they are still in conformity with the WCF. Who would they choose? Would there be a minority report? Would they still cry “Foul” if seven Presbyterian and Reformed denominations refuse to extend the right hand of fellowship?

  54. January 30, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Yes, the PCA formed in 1973 over schism from the Southern Presbyterian church over issues of theological liberalism. The people who faught for separation believed the PCUS to be no longer a true church, having abandoned Scriptural inerrancy and other fundamentals and adopted the Barmen Declaration (ca. 1967). What became the PCA was formed in dissent and schism–how easy we forget the past.

  55. January 30, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Pr. Wilson was examined by his presyberty a while back to test his orthodoxy. Shouldn’t Wilkins receive some form of exam before being granted an open arm welcome into the CREC? Wouldn’t be unusual to not examine a transfering minister?

  56. Mark T. said,

    January 30, 2008 at 11:31 am


    Small correction: Mr. Wilson does not belong to a presbytery and the stacked committee that did examine him had absolutely no authority to discipline him. I documented these facts in a post titled “Gnostic Accountability.”

  57. Sam Steinmann said,

    January 30, 2008 at 11:55 am

    The question remains, “Could the men on the study committee, regardless of conviction, be impartial and fair?”

    Ken (and several others),

    No, that’s not the question; “was the study committee stacked” is the question. A PCA committe studying “should infants be baptized”, and a Reformed Baptist committee studying the same question, could impartially and fairly come to different conclusions, but they would both be stacked committees.

    I would say, yes, the study committe was stacked, and the study report was harmed by that. I’m an onlooker; my confession is the Dordrecht, not the Westminster, but I had the great blessing of being part of a very strongly-theological PCA church for several years. Look at the report, and compare it to the report on Baptism (1987) or the one on Creation (2000). I can read those reports and find them of great benefit in thinking the issue through and making sure I’m not missing anything. The FV report is different–systematically different–in a way that makes it much less helpful in thinking through the issues.

  58. greenbaggins said,

    January 30, 2008 at 11:58 am

    It is ironic, Sam, that you should mention Dordt. There were no Arminians on the committee to draft the canons. Was it stacked? What does “stacked” even mean? If you mean that there were no FV’ers on the study committee (and that’s ALL you meant), then I will cheerfully admit that. But if by stacked, you mean unfair, then I would disagree.

  59. Tim Harris said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I’m wondering if Douglas would say that a committee set up to report on suspected arminianism in the PCA would say it was “stacked” if it did not include arminians.

  60. Sam Steinmann said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Pastor Lane,

    Not Dordt (that’s Reformed); Dordrecht, which is the definitive Anabaptist (Amish/Mennonite) Confession.

    On a committee for drafting standards, you need more unanimity than on a study committee. I have assumed that a study committee normally is precedent to drafting standards. At least to me, the Baptism and Creation reports (both of which I’ve profited from) are much stronger because the committee clearly wasn’t all on the same side.

    Here’s a link to the page with the reports, if anyone else can’t remember it.

  61. Mark T. said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    You could have put Meyers, Leithart, and Horne on the Committee and they would have screamed and cried and boohooed the whole time, saying to the other commissioners, “You don’t understand me” or “You are misrepresenting me.”

    And it doesn’t matter if LAP had tried Steven Wilkins and found him guilty, because he and the rest of the FV BHers would have screamed and cried and boohooed, “You don’t understand me” or “You are misrepresenting me.”

    And it doesn’t matter if the SJC convicts LAP in a televised trial on Court TV because the FVists will scream and cry and boohoo, “You don’t understand me” or “You are misrepresenting me.”

    However, I just wish that Steven “Machen” Wilkins would have lived up to his namesake’s example and not fled accountability.

  62. greenbaggins said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Sam, my bad. I thought you meant Dordt.

  63. Sam Steinmann said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Pastor Lane,

    No problem. I just thought that it might muddy my point a bit.

  64. David Gray said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    >You could have put Meyers, Leithart, and Horne on the Committee and they would have screamed and cried and boohooed the whole time, saying to the other commissioners, “You don’t understand me” or “You are misrepresenting me.”

    Yes, Pastor Leithart is noted for his public boohooing. But then you don’t refer to him as a minister do you?

  65. David Gray said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    >Mr. Wilson does not belong to a presbytery

    Mark ??? your assertions on these matters in the past have been found to be baseless when the documents in question were reviewed. This one appears to fall in the same category.

  66. Tim Harris said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I believe Mark is correct. The so-called “presbytery” of the CREC neither ordains pastors, nor can it remove them. It is purely an advisory body to the congregation, which holds all the ordinary power. The “presbytery” can kick a congregation out, but that’s true of every congregational association. And think about the sheep that are supposedly protected: the “presbytery” basically says, “you have our blessing on kicking the wolf out of your midst; and if you fail, we’ll… kick you all out.”

  67. January 30, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    […] the chief headhunter against Federal Vision theology in the PCA, Andy Webb, posted some commentary over at Green Baggins about how the FV guys wanted a trial but now […]

  68. tim prussic said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Pr. Lane, yes, Dordt was “stacked” by any reasonable definition. As I recall, Arminians were TURNED AWAY and not allowed into the proceedings. Also, as I recall, Dordt wasn’t a “study committee,” it was an international opposition synod. It was convened (as I understand it) to oppose the specific errors of the Remonstrance of 1610. If a committee’s *purpose* is to oppose doctrines X, Y, and Z, then it will be peopled with opponents. If a committee’s *purpose* is research doctrines X, Y, and Z unto possible opposition or commendation (especially if they’re controversial), then the committee should be peopled with the broader scope of opinions on those doctrines. So, again, Dordt was stacked, but that was in keeping with the purpose of the synod. Was the PCA study group a study group or an opposition committee? Both are fine in their place, I think. But it appears that the PCA had “study group” that was really an opposition committee.

  69. magma2 said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Pastor Webb, great post, although I can’t see the PCA taking your prescription for the very reasons you mention in your piece. Let’s face it, its strong medicine, but without it the hemorrhaging you fear will continue and the bleeding will all be in the direction of the CREC and Rome just as you predict.

    And while we’re talking about predictions, Wilson’s spin on what transpired is exactly as I predicted and he and his FV compatriots will continue to slander the courts of the PCA with cracks like: What I was calling for in the piece you quoted was a trial — not a field trip to Australia to watch some of those bouncy animals.

    The Committee Report was stacked and the PCA courts have a pouch. Wilson is a great salesman and he knows how to spin things. I’m afraid he can get a lot of mileage out of this, with or without the aid of old Dylan songs, and I see they’re already well on their way. If he were selling used cars or unpainted furniture I would actually admire him.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think there is anything in light of recent developments for rejoicing.

  70. Matt Beatty said,

    January 30, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Tim (re: 60),

    Tim said: “I’m wondering if Douglas would say that a committee set up to report on suspected arminianism in the PCA would say it was “stacked” if it did not include arminians.”

    I could be wrong, but I suspect what Pr. Wilson would not be jealous for self-identifying Arminians to be included on a study committee, but he might well wish for professing Calvinists – ministers in good standing – whose positions were being identified as implicitly or explicitly Arminian to be included.

    That’s to say, the PCA minister who, after reading Arminius, says, “Boys, I think Arminius was correct. Dordt, Westminster, etc.are all wet!” would NOT be included. But the minister who believes himself (perhaps erroneously – that’s the point of the study committee) to be in conformity with the stated theology of the church (in spite of the accusations that he isn’t) – his view should be represented on the committee.

    In the former case, we’d simply point out that “Minister X”, by his own admission, can no longer support the doctrines of the church – this happens all the time. Still happening in the PCA. In the latter case, intellectual honesty, brotherly love, and common sense demonstrate this to be true.

    The OPC’s study committee on paedocommunion yielded a majority report… (hold your breath) in favor of the practice, right? The larger church chose not to adopt it, but no one (apparently) shied away from voicing legitimate differences. (As a side note: many within the OPC feel that paedocommunion is just one step away from compromising JBFA… apparently ignorant of OPC-stalwart G.I. Williamson’s presence on the committee).

    Brothers, can’t we agree that NOT INCLUDING REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE AA/FV PERSPECTIVE was a mistake?

    Thank you.

  71. January 30, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    To comment briefly on the whole “the committee was stacked” issue (back up in the #20s), it seems to me that when you have a 95% vote in favor of the committee’s report, and when every single person who spoke against the report before the vote explicitly said he NOT in favor of the FV, then in order to give the FV a proportionate representation on the committee you would need to have like 30 TRs for every one FVist.

    I mean, giving the FV 1/10 would be grossly out of proportion, would it not?

    My point is that whining about disproportionate ratios is tricky when you’re an extreme, fringe group.

  72. January 30, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    HaigLaw, RE #42,

    We were pleasantly surprised at an outcome that was far above what we had had the faith to ask or think.

    Who could possibly count the Lord’s blessings on His children who humble themselves before him. You make an excellent point which seems to be under-appreciated. Thank your for putting this into perspective.

    And I say it that way because I have never stated publicly my own assessment of FV, hoping to remain an “honest broker,” in case one is needed and they can’t find anybody else.

    Keep your phone by your side!


  73. January 30, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Haiglaw, RE #41,

    Another question: this may prove how naive I am, but here goes — what are the chances the GA would entertain a report or overture attempting to correct factual errors in the 9 points from the ad-interim committee’s report? As I’ve said before, there are those not sympathetic to FV who feel there are such errors.

    I don’t have my stuff here to try to address this in detail, but the report was a deliverance of the General Assembly. As such, I think it’s a done deal once approved by the Assembly. I’m sure there’s a way to address the issues therein, but not to actually modify the report. FWIW, I don’t think there are any significant errors in it. :-)

  74. Grover Gunn said,

    January 30, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I don’t believe I have seen Doug Wilson since I spoke at a conference along with him, Steve Wilkins and Steve Schlissel. The stacked committee argument is a logical fallacy. The real issue is the content of the report itself.

    Grover Gunn

  75. tim prussic said,

    January 30, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Mr. Gunn (#75), the stacked-committee argument would be a logical fallacy if it were argued that the findings of the committee were WRONG because of the stacked nature, true enough. That’s not what I’ve argued. I’ve been a voice crying in the wilderness of this blog that, from the outside, the PCA doesn’t look too savory. The stacked committee is one of the more visible & less-than-savory aspects.

    Mr. Stellman (#72) – I don’t think that “proportionate representation” is the issue. No one does a demographic study to people study groups… save Willow Creek. The issue is this: The FV doctrines were under scrutiny. It just might have been a good idea to have some FV proponents on the “study group.” Don’t matter if they’re .001% of the population of the PCA, they should have been a clear voice in the “study group.” At any rate, that’s how I see it. Again, if it wasn’t a “study group,” then that’s a different thing. But everyone talks about it as such.

  76. Daniel Kok said,

    January 30, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Re. #75:

    What logical fallacy are you thinking of Grover?

  77. January 30, 2008 at 3:10 pm


    Thanks for the interaction.

    For the record, I would have preferred a more diverse committee as well. If someone like Rob Rayburn (from this presbytery) had been involved, it would have been interesting. Rob is a well-known name in the PCA, no FVist, favors paedocommunion, and is no fan of southern Presbyterianism (how’s that for stirring things up?).

    But we got what we got. I think the conclusions were fair and accurate, which is why I (alone from the Pacific Northwest Presbytery) voted to receive.

  78. greenbaggins said,

    January 30, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Tim, I hope your reference to this blog as a “wilderness” was not meant seriously.

  79. tim prussic said,

    January 30, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Pr. Lane, wilderness simply referred to the lack of interaction. ‘Twasn’t meant in any sort of derogatory way, or as a reference to lack of true spirituality or something of that nature. :)

    Pr. Stellman, I’m also from the NW (BPC). Maybe we can be friends! You’re right. You got what you got. However, it don’t look none too good to a guy like me.

  80. Grover Gunn said,

    January 30, 2008 at 6:39 pm


    ad hominem – directing the argument against the people making the argument (the members of the committee) rather than against the argument the people have made (the committee report).

    Grover Gunn

  81. anneivy said,

    January 30, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    I might be wrong, but I daresay had FV’ers not already had a reputation for inevitably protesting “No, that’s wrong! You misunderstand! You aren’t being fair!”, there might have been one or two of ’em on the study committee.

    So long as lessons are being passed out with a lavish hand, that’s not a bad one to add; i.e. if supporters of a “movement” (for lack of a better term) wish to be included in any serious deliberations and study of it, they should take pains to avoid earning such a reputation.

    For future reference, doncha know. There’s always something new coming down the pike. ;^)

  82. David Gray said,

    January 30, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    >I daresay had FV’ers not already had a reputation for inevitably protesting “No, that’s wrong! You misunderstand! You aren’t being fair!”, there might have been one or two of ‘em on the study committee.

    That makes no sense. If they had such a reputation it would have been a good reason to put one or two on the committee.

  83. Anne Ivy said,

    January 30, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Well, you’ve lost me. Why would a committee want someone on it who refuses to even agree to disagree, instead insisting they’re being misrepresented?

    Actually, if there had been such an FV representative or two, I wouldn’t be surprised if the end report had wound up being even more critical than it was.

    I’ve never understood the firm conviction by some that the presence of FV’ers on the study committee would have worked in the FV’s favor. Might have harmed more than it helped.

    And is anyone seriously suggesting that if there had been FV representation on the committee, and the report had still been negative regarding the FV, the FV’ers wouldn’t have squawked like wet wicker afterward?

  84. pduggie said,

    January 30, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    That’s a rather uncharitable assumption.

  85. Anne Ivy said,

    January 30, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I wouldn’t characterize it as “uncharitable” so much as “realistic”.

    However, the preceding posts o’ mine notwithstanding, it probably would have been better for there to have been FV representation on the committee. Most likely wouldn’t have made any particular difference to those already in favor of the FV, but it might have made a difference to those who didn’t already have an opinion on it.

  86. barlow said,

    January 30, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Actually the stacked committee is relevant because it meant that there was no minority report. When GA receives a unanimous committee report, it considers the issues a little differently than when there is a majority and minority report. Further, there’s a better chance that the minority will feel better understood if their side gets presented on the floor at GA. Consider, for instance, the PCA paedocommunion debate in which there was a majority and a minority report and both sides were represented on the floor of GA and continue to be represented in fine articles by Clowney and Rayburn in the PCA position papers book. Also, there was a noble attempt by Jeff Meyers to respond to the committee report. His response was mailed to every church in the PCA even. It dealt with the substance of the report. It was a kind of “shadow” minority report.

  87. Mark T. said,

    January 30, 2008 at 9:20 pm


    You should give thanks that the FV had its “shadow” minority report because that’s better than you deserved and it’s better than you’ll ever get in the CREC when you finally land there, as Wilkins did this week.

    If the four loudmouth FVists in the PCA ever disrupt the CREC to the same extent that you have disrupted the PCA and the rest of the Reformed church, they will run you out with a merciless, abusive process faster than you can say “Duck.”

    Thank you.

  88. David Gadbois said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    The problem the FV have is that they assert that the committee was “stacked” and not fair, but they really haven’t given us good guidelines for what constitutes a just or unjust study committee. This isn’t a trial, so the ideas of justness or fairness aren’t going to come from the legal realm (like the concept of equal representation).

    Seems to me that if you want an effective study committee, you ought to appoint orthodox men who are learned and of discerning character. Men who can disagree yet not condemn all errors are heterodox. Men who have the capacity to study and good sense to issue judgements on the topics they study. No one – and I mean no one – is going to come into a study with a blank slate when dealing with theological topics like this.

  89. tim prussic said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    David, no one is speaking of blank slates, and that the VF guys have not given guidelines is really weak. #76 is a start – some sort of fair intellectual representation would seem even handed. The whole thing DOESN’T seem even handed… that’s been my problem from the get go.

  90. Seth Foster said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Late last year, our family left the PCA after a three-year battle with the Federal Vision in our presbytery. We were told by a member of our presbytery that even though they knew that the elders of a particular church (where we had attended but had to leave) were teaching the Federal Vision, the presbytery was not going to take any action against them. Instead, they would wait for them to leave the PCA for the CREC on their own initiative. In the meantime, we spoke out against the dangers of the Federal Vision, and for that we were condemned and attacked by our presbytery. We tried being patient and quiet, waiting for the GA to hand down their study report. But, once again after the study report came out and was approved, we were attacked by the presbytery and exhorted to retract our truthful statements made over two years ago against the Federal Vision, in order to “reconcile”. It became clear to us that any voice of opposition against the Federal Vision was not welcome and it needed to be silenced in this presbytery. Our family could no longer worship and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the PCA under this kind of emotional stress and tyranny. So, with sad hearts we left the PCA after ten years of ministry. We, in a sense, had to wipe the proverbial dust off of our sandals and move on.

    We are very encouraged by the decision of the LAP, but for our family it came too late. I write this comment as a loving but firm admonition to the PCA. You cannot serve two masters; either you will love the one and hate the other; either you will be loyal to one and despise the other (Luke 16:13). You cannot minister to God’s sheep and provide a safe harbor for the false teaching of the Federal Vision.

  91. barlow said,

    January 30, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Seth – your testimony could be entirely made up – give some details so that responsible people can weight what you’re saying and even investigate. Otherwise, I might make up a story about an anti-FV church that had a men’s event where boys and their fathers shot firearms at photographs of MLK and Hillary Clinton.

  92. barlow said,

    January 30, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Sorry, “weigh” what you’re saying.

  93. Wayne Whitmer said,

    January 31, 2008 at 12:37 am

    It’s funny how I see some of the same names popping up on this blog who were in my blog circles way back when I was into blogging (barlow). I was linked by many in cyberspace and I actually met several of these individuals in person. However it wasn’t long till I realized that one of the primary purposes of their circle of blog friends was to continue to recruit more individuals to their FV cause or so it seemed to me at the time.

    I learned alot during those days and it helped me define who I am as an Evangelical, Reformed Presbyterian however my heart always sinks with grief when I read the comments of those who were uncertain of their position and now worship in FV Churches and defend its Theologians within an inch of their lives.

    I support Pastor Webb and our Godly Leadership in the PCA to pursue those who embrace these errors moving them toward repentance or if unrepentant moving them toward Godly Church Discipline as prescribed in the Word of God. To be quite honest I’m proud to be a Member in Good Standing in a PCA congregation. I was very worried and impatient with the PCA’s response to the FV Theology at first because I believe its infiltration into our churches was and still is a destructive force however I’m pleased with how things are progressing at this point.

  94. neilrobbie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 5:09 am

    I’m preaching 1 Cor 12:7-25 on Sunday and need some help. In light of what Paul says about church unity in verses 12-14 can anyone explain, quickly, why the doctrinal statements of the PCA vs FV have been made the objective focus of unity when Paul himself decrees that baptism into Christ to be our objective focus of unity (cf Gal 3:25-29)?

    Thanks, Neil

  95. HaigLaw said,

    January 31, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Re: #95: We should use the examples of Scripture for the types of issues the apostles dealt with, to deal with the issues of today — which will have different names, but all the errors of today are the same errors as before, just parading as a new angel of light.

  96. neilrobbie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Re: no96

    HaigLaw, are you agreeing with me? My point is exactly that we should use scripture to deal with church issues today. In Corinth, Paul was dealing with a church which was in schism (1 Cor 1:12-16). Corinth is an early church forerunner of the PCA/FV schism. How did Paul seek to maintain unity? He pointed the Corinthians to their baptism as the ONLY objective measure of unity (1 Cor 12:12-14). The ONLY biblical reason for schism is moral according to 1 Cor 5. Thus, the Anglican/Episcopal church split over homosexuality is a biblically warranted schism – disagreeing over the finer points of justification by faith is not a bibliaclly warranted schism.

    Calvin writes: “Baptism serves as our confession before men. Indeed, it is the mark by which we publicly profess that we wish to be reckoned God’s people, by which we testify that we agree in worshiping the same God, in one religion with all Christians, by which we finally and openly affirm our faith.”

    If both PCA and FV members confess their sin and make a public profession of their need of the grace and mercy of Christ in the sacraments then there is no biblical mandate for schism. If PCA or FV members openly, persistently and deliberately break the law of God and teach others to do the same then expulsion of the immoral party is biblically necessary. Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor prohibits schism on the basis of doctrinal debates or the idolatry of uniting around individuals apart from Christ crucified.

    Paul’s teaching here serves to wound our intellectual pride (1 Cor 13).

  97. its.reed said,

    January 31, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Ref. #97:

    Neil, you see no biblical basis for division on doctrinal grounds, at all?

  98. neilrobbie said,

    January 31, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Ref no98

    I’d be happy to stand corrected if my understanding of 1 Cor is inconsistent with the rest of scripture.

  99. Tim Harris said,

    January 31, 2008 at 10:04 am

    For starters, on that view the Reformation itself would be schismatic. Recall that many hard-core papists would have been happy to join with Luther if it had merely been a reform movement to end the moral laxity in the clerical ranks. They said so.

  100. January 31, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Neil, RE #99,

    This was exactly the PC(USA)’s approach after the heretical “Reimagining God” conference. Congregations started withholding their contributions from Louisville, hitting the denomination where it hurt–in their wallets. The next moderator traveled around the country lamenting that such action could only hurt missions because the rest of the budget was fixed, showing how little emphasis Louisville placed on missions. Things only got worse.

    So, what was the PC(USA)’s final answer on the whole “Reimagining” nightmare? The promulgated a study of 1 Cor to the churches to condemn divisiveness! Apparently it was OK to preach a radical feminist substitute for the gospel, worship the goddess Sophia, and to celebrate a substitute “communion” with milk and honey, but it wasn’t OK to try to challenge the same heretics because such divisiveness was worse than worshiping Sophia.

    This “reimagining” movement has not died, BTW. Mary Ann Lundy, the staff lady in Louisville who advocated and partially funded the original conference in 1993, said in 1998: “Yesterday’s heresies are becoming tomorrow’s Book of Order.” And they’re still the “Voiced of Sophia” celebrating with milk and honey today.

    So, I do not believe that 1 Cor can rightly be interpreted as an excuse for sitting back and allowing error to push the gospel out.

  101. Seth Foster said,

    January 31, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    It took an attack on Pearl Harbor to get Americans to believe and act on the reality that Hitler was gassing the Jews, commiting genocide.

    What will it take for the PCA to realize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the false gospel of the Federal Vision cannot exist in the same house? The recent actions of the SJC and the LAP, as well as AAP, are a step in the right direction. But, there is still a lot of housecleaning to do before this is all over. And, that will require the work of the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of the leadership. Our family will continue to pray for the leadership – that God will give them the grace of a convicted heart and the moral courage to stand for Jesus.

    In the meantime, I have chosen to move my family to a safer place away from the vicious attitudes and attacks such as your comment. I don’t need to prove anything to you. We have left the PCA – how the leadership handles the Federal Vision is now between their consciences and God.

  102. Tim Harris said,

    January 31, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Seth — apart from the historical mistake in point of fact (few Americans mentioned gassings until after the war was over), I’m just curious about the logic: what would Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor have to do with a belief about Hitler and Jews?

  103. barlow said,

    January 31, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Seth – so you’re able to present, as evidence of FV’s bad mojo, that it destroyed your church, but then refuse to give any proof of this or even name the church. If that’s the case, then hopefully readers of this blog will strike your claims from their mental records of the FV discussion. I’ve looked into most of these claims about FV causing trouble in a church, and like most church squabbles, the issues were much more about personalities and normal human interpersonal friction than some kind of theological dispute. I mean, suppose a very TRish pastor commits an indiscretion – do we then add that to column in our spreadsheet of evidence against TR theology?

  104. Mark T. said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm


    Did you investigate these claims as a reporter for Reformed News who was interested in the truth or did you investigate it as active member of the FV faction who was interested in spinning the truth?

  105. Tim Harris said,

    January 31, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    As an Anti-FV, I agree with Barlow here. A horror story without names dates and places is of no value whatsoever to those not in on the winks and nods.

  106. Andrew Webb said,

    January 31, 2008 at 5:42 pm


    I only just noticed that in post #30 you state: “To cite an example, Mister Webb on this blog, under the heading on Preserving the Absolute Negatives, post 58, denied that the sacraments convey and impart the things that they signify.”

    I did no such thing, I denied baptismal regeneration and maintained as I always have that the sacraments are a means of grace but not converting ordinances. What I said specifically was:

    Yes, I would deny that Baptism is the channel for Justification and the gift of the Holy Spirit, so did Hodge so did the Divines. They note in the much ignored WCF 14.1 – “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word, by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.”

    I then extensively quoted 1 Cor. 1:18, Charles Hodge, and Samuel Miller in support of that statement and against the kind of baptismal regeneration you have supported on this site.

    You assert that my statement is a prima facie violation of the Standards. I would reply that in the ten years since I have been explaining what I believe the bible teaches about the sacraments in front of Seminary professors, Presbytery Committees, and congregants, you are the first person to ever make that statement. Considering your own position on the sacraments which goes well beyond even that of a Ryle, I’m not that concerned. Now, were 95% of the PCA, a GA study committee, the SJC, several Presbyteries, several seminaries, and 7 denominations to call my position a violation, I’d be extremely foolish not to at least seriously worry that it might be.

    And contrary to your further suggestion, if I were indicted in the PCA for my views, then regardless of the composition of the court, I have vowed to stand trial and would do so. To me the shame would be in not doing so contrary to what I had promised. Besides, should I not at least be willing to admit the possibility that I might be wrong and in need of repenting and recanting? If the vast majority of the Reformed world think my views are unconfessional and unscriptural, then I’d be foolish not to at least consider that possibility.

    What amazes me is that never have the FV advocates even considered that possibility. To them its obvious they are right and therefore that everyone who opposes them must be either evil or ignorant. Therefore its all “politics” and because they are right, fairness dictates that we must find men who also think rightly to judge them. The idea that honest men might be acting in accordance with their vows to preserve the purity of the church is simply never entertained.

  107. Mark T. said,

    January 31, 2008 at 5:58 pm


    You missed my point. Barlow is no more credible than Seth.

    Seth discredited himself when he connected the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor with the Holocaust. Barlow discredited himself . . . well, I’m not sure he ever had credit.

  108. Towne said,

    January 31, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Pardon me if I am disbelieving that someone who is supposed to be pursuing a Ph.D. while holding down jobs as apartment mgr & computer programmer while parenting precious children with autism has time to take it upon himself (why?) to ferret out the truth behind claims of abuse in a half-dozen or more FV churches. Did getting at the truth involve simply calling the FV pastors, who then set you straight and said all was well? (Prov. 18:17). All conflicts between people necessarily involve personalities & interpersonal relations. That fact does not in and of itself absolve or negate the root cause of the conflict.

  109. David Gray said,

    January 31, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    >Barlow discredited himself . . . well, I’m not sure he ever had credit.

    Why is this blog permitting this sort of thing from a man ashamed to use his own name?

  110. February 2, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    As for the intellectual possibilities underlying the original ‘FV’ I would like to call myself an FVer or FVionist. As for the schismatic politics propelling the FV — I’ll have nothing to do with it, from either of the groups of gorillas throwing bananas at one another. But given Douglas Wilson’s documented brave practice of ecclesiastical justice over the last decade — with regards to other denominations, the CREC, and within his own congregation — I am forced to recommend any rhetorical insight he has to offer. It is with no irony at all that this great man of Justice has decided to come into a larger ecclesiastical forum and lecture on the points of due process and humble equity!

    I’m sorry, but this latest disagreement in the Reformed World is too loony to make the tears overwhelm the laughter. Just venting; so I appreciate the ability to offer my two cents here. Don’t forget to buy my forthcoming book. Now welcome the kinists to the thread. . .

    Michael Metzler

  111. Seth Foster said,

    February 4, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I am a little unclear on the timetable of events. LAP pleads guilty on count 2 of the indictment; LAP then refers the trial of Steve Wilkins to the SJC; AAPC then votes to leave the PCA with Wilkins to the CREC; Wilkins requests and receives a transfer because he is considered a teaching elder in good standing.

    So, does he still have to go on trial before the SJC even if he has transferred to a different denomination? According to BCO 38-3, does he have to wait to be granted a transfer since he is part of the investigative process with the LAP? How does that work?

  112. Thomas said,

    March 20, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    “I’m sorry, but this latest disagreement in the Reformed World is too loony… Now welcome the kinists to the thread. . .”

    Michael you are a bona fide expert in all things loony, particularly when it comes to your kinist obsessions. Time to overcome your paranoia. Please get some help.

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