The Lord’s Supper and the Sacrament of Baptism

The next section of the Joint Statement deals with the Lord’s Supper. Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to discuss this one very much, since it is necessary to say either nothing, or else an entire book. I have no disagreement with this section except with the issue of paedo-communion, into which topic I shall not foray at this time. I have only one question regarding it: I would assume that affirming the real presence of Christ in the Supper but denying the local presence of Christ means that Christ is present in (or “by”) the Holy Spirit. While this is not stated (and I think it might have been just a little clearer had they done that), it seems to me to be implied. It would be nice to have that confirmed, I suppose. Maybe at a point after this second critique of the joint statement, Doug and I could start on a debate about paedo-communion. Just a thought.

On to Doug’s last reply to me. First issue: is the visible church connected to Christ? In the sense that it is the body of those who profess faith in Christ, it is connected to Christ. But what in the world is meant by “connected” in Doug’s post? I confess to being unable to answer his query unless that word is more carefully defined. It is similar to “formally united.” What does that mean? I could think of ways it could be taken that are orthodox, and ways it could be taken that are heterodox.

Second point: regeneration. I have to admit to being utterly confused by Doug’s second paragraph. For one thing, baptism is spoken of in the WCF as a sign and seal of regeneration in the ordo sense, not in the historia sense. That is because WCF 28.1 (which Doug referenced) never refers to Matthew 19, but only to Titus 3:5 in the proof texts. Titus 3:5 is obviously referring to the ordo salutis when it speaks of “not because of works…but by mercy,” and then in verse 7  talking of justification. Verse 6 is the clincher here: the Holy Spirit is poured out on us in regeneration, clearly referring to the ordo salutis. So, I am still at a loss as to how baptism initiates us into the historia salutis, but not into the ordo salutis, and how it initiates us into the Regeneration (understood redemptive-historically) when there is zero biblical evidence to support that conclusion. I don’t find that in Matthew 19, Titus 3, or WCF 28. Part of the problem here also is the term “into” in the Joint Statement. The Statement says “baptism is into the Regeneration.” If it had said that baptism was a sign and seal not only of a believer’s regeneration, but also of the transition from death to life, which is in turn part of a greater renewal, and that the sacraments remain signs and seals, and that baptism is not necessarily actually initiating us into that renewal, but is rather a sign and seal of it, I could go along with it. But again, the language of sign and seal, which is not only confessional but biblical is nowhere present in the Joint Statement’s treatment of baptism (or the Lord’s Supper, for that matter).

Third point: concerning misrepresentation of the phrase “efficacy not limited to the point of administration.” Let me clarify. Having looked over what I said, I realize that I wasn’t clear. I did not mean that all FV’ers maintain the position that I said was “the FV interpretation.” It was simply an FV interpretation that I had seen. I don’t ever remember Doug advocating it. And I don’t actually remember which FV’er advocated it. I think it was Barach, Meyers, or Horne, one of the three.

But I was heartened to see Lane move closer to the Westminsterian position on baptism than other FV critics have been thus far willing to do. He repeats some of the qualifiers that the Confession gives (those to whom the grace belongs, in His appointed time), but he does appear to acknowledge that this baptismal grace is saving grace, and not just sanctifying grace. It is hard to do otherwise when the Confession says that the grace promised in the sign and seal of baptism (covenant of grace, ingrafting, regeneration, remission of sins, and commitment to walk in newness of life) is really exhibited and conferred on that group of people demarked by all the qualifiers. And for the record, I agree with all those qualifiers. I also agree with exhibited and conferred. Me and the Westminster divines, we’re like that.

This would be amusing if I weren’t banging my head on the wall, which hurts. First is the suggestion that FV critics are by and large nowhere near the Westminster Standards when it comes to baptism, which is frankly ludicrous. Secondly, it is plain as a pikestaff to me that Doug hasn’t understood my position in the slightest. My position is that the grace conferred in baptism is a signing and sealing grace, not a saving grace (if “saving” is understood in the narrower ordo salutis sense of the Philippian jailor’s question). It is a saving grace (in the sense of means of grace) in the sanctificatory sense. That was the whole point of my grammatical analysis of 28.1. WCF 28.1 does NOT say that the grace exhibited and conferred is equal to ingrafting, regeneration, remission, etc. Rather, the grace exhibited and conferred is that the person now has a sign and a seal of all those things. The sign and the seal is not equal to those things. Rather, baptism is a sign and seal of those things. This is how the grammar of the passage works. It says that baptism is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, a sign and seal of ingrafting, a sign and seal of regeneration, a sign and seal of remission of sins, etc. Signs and seals are not equal to the things they sign and seal. Doug needs to reread section 5 of chapter 28 to assure himself that baptism does not equal regeneration, even in those who use the sacrament properly! Regeneration can happen without baptism. And if baptism can be a delayed reaction type of thing (which Doug admits), then baptism does not confer regeneration on people. What baptism represents confers regeneration on people. A very common criticism of the FV is that it ties way too closely together the sign and the thing signified. They must not be separated, or confused. Sacramental language is possible (WCF 27.2). But with the FV, it is usually difficult to know when they are using sacramental language and when they are not. They are not clear.

Lastly, faith once more. The problem that I have always had with the FV position on things is that it flattens out the distinctions among Adam, Christ, and us. I have heard things like this from at least some FV’ers: Adam was saved by faith, Christ was saved by faith, and we are saved by faith. It is as if everything Adam did or believed had to have been the same as what Christ did and believed, which is also the same for us. I was happy to see that Doug agrees that Adam’s object of faith is different from ours. However, problems arise when we start talking about faithful obedience. If Adam would have inherited eternal life on the basis of faithful obedience, and we can only inherit eternal life on the basis of faithful obedience, then there really isn’t any difference between Adam and us except that the object of faith is different. The point I wish to make here is that the Covenant of Works means that Adam would have inherited eternal life on the works principle, in contrast to us, who inherit eternal life on the faith principle, and NOT on the works principle (unless you are talking about Christ’s works). But if one starts talking about faithful obedience, then the categories start to get muddied.



  1. December 16, 2008 at 4:46 pm


    I’ve been watching your attempts to engage the FV statement on a rational, confessional, biblical, and historical basis. Now I see, in your latest post, that you are banging your head against the wall. I know the feeling. It’s not yelling at the windshield, but it will do.

    The fundamental distinction missing here, which the FV movement either denies or on which it equivocates, is the distinction between an internal and external relation to the covenant of grace. So long as this distinction is not established there can never be any progress in this dialogue. So long as they continue to ignore, reject, or equivocate on this distinction, the FV will always remain just another idiosyncratic variation on some Reformed themes but without an essential unity or agreement with confessional, classical Reformed theology

  2. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 16, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Calvin’s treatment of communion was directed towards Roman Catholics and Lutherans, but it is possibly relevant here:

    They are greatly mistaken in imagining that there is no presence of the flesh of Christ in the Supper, unless it be placed in the bread. They thus leave nothing for the secret operation of the Spirit, which unites Christ himself to us. Christ does not seem to them to be present unless he descends to us, as if we did not equally gain his presence when he raises us to himself. The only question, therefore, is as to the mode, they placing Christ in the breads while we deem it unlawful to draw him down from heaven. Which of the two is more correct, let the reader judge. Only have done with the calumny that Christ is withdrawn from his Supper if he lurk not under the covering of bread. For seeing this mystery is heavenly, there is no necessity to bring Christ on the earth that he may be connected with us.

    Inst. 4.17.

    This is not necessarily a point of dispute, but Calvin’s doctrine is not merely that Christ is present through the Spirit in communion (this being affirmed even by Zwingli), but rather that the believer, by the Spirit, is conveyed to the throne of Christ in communion.

    I would have liked for the statement on communion to be more definite, in the manner of WCoF 29.7. But that’s a wish, not a charge of error.

    Jeff Cagle

  3. December 16, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Scott, I do not deny that there is both an internal and external relation to the covenant of grace. I am happy to affirm that there is an internal and external relation to the covenant of grace without equivocation, and that those who have an external relation only are headed for Hell. Anything else I need to do? Happy to do it.

  4. December 16, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Jeff, this will be made clear in my response at my blog, but we do believe that Christ is present in the Supper through the power of the Holy Spirit. That should have been included in our statement, and it was not included through a mere oversight.

  5. Vern Crisler said,

    December 17, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Jeff, Calvin’s view sounds very pious, but can it be proven from the eucharistic texts? I believe Calvin’s view has been called “eucharistic ascent” whereas it seems the New Testament teaches the opposite, the pneumatic descent, as it were, which involves an ecclesial presence (where two or three are gathered).

    I suspect all the pious language surrounding Catholic, Luther, and Calvinistic views on the Lord’s Supper stems from the desire to turn the Supper into a metaphysical event — a view that increases the perceived power of the dispenser of the metaphysical elements. Unfortunately for this view, the NT only teaches an ethical event, and the elements remained Jewish elements.


  6. curate said,

    December 17, 2008 at 2:05 am

    A sign is a different thing from a seal. A sign signifies and a seal seals. One is a figure of a thing, and the other is a guarantee of a thing.

    Baptism signifies the remission of sins, or, justification, as well as guaranteeing to the one receiving it rightly that he is in possession of the same.

    This is the reason why baptism is a source of assurance to the believer. Baptism guarantees the things signified because they are truly communicated and conveyed by means of the same.

    The verbs to seal and to sign are not synonyms, and this is reflected in the WCF articles describing sacraments as truly conveying the things they signify, and hence sealing them by means of the sign.

  7. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 4:50 am

    #4 Doug just apologised and admitted he’d got something wrong.

    …just for the record ;)

  8. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 5:11 am

    WCF 28.

    Lane, you have a good point about the WCF insisting on the sacrament being a sign and seal from para1.

    However, the qualification of para5 must have some bearing on the affirmation in para6.

    Now I may be incredibly mistaken here. I apologise if that’s the case! But…

    The qualification reads “grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.”

    There the Confession is talking about actual and real regeneration and salvation. The implication being that in the following affirmation of the sacrament’s efficacy, it may be possible to walk away with the incorrect assumption that regeneration and salvation *are* inseparably annexed to it.

    So when the Confession goes on in para6, it appears to be continuing the same thought from para5: “The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost”

    So, the qualification of paragraph 5 that regeneration is not so tied to baptism that you can’t be regenerate without baptism, appears to support the position that actual regeneration is what’s being talked about in paragraph 6.

    To piece this together – while baptism is a sign and a seal, the sign and seal are actually efficacious in administering *the thing signified*.

    To couch it in different language: The spoken Word of God is the actual means of grace by which the Spirit actually regenerates people. Equally the enacted Word of God is the actual means of grace by which the Spirit actually regenerates people. Obviously in both cases, the Spirit only does that to the elect, who therefore receive the spoken and enacted Word by faith. The Spirit’s action may or may not occur at the exact same time.

    An example of a sacrament working in this way from Scripture: 1 Samuel 16v13. I’ve always considered this to be an example of the sacrament being the actual means by which the Spirit is poured out upon David. Of course, this doesn’t occur apart from faith on David’s part.

  9. GLW Johnson said,

    December 17, 2008 at 5:49 am

    # 7
    Doug admitted he was wrong? He said it was a ‘oversight’, he did not admit they- the FV- were in error.

  10. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 5:58 am

    #9 Let’s be charitable here?

    Doug hasn’t admitted his theology is wrong because he doesn’t think his theology *is* wrong – that sort of makes sense to me.

    However, there is humility in his statement – there is a recognition of error that demonstrates that he’s sincere, and not just being beligerent – even if he’s wrong on **everything** he thinks. That at least is worth noting. Let me point out some things he didn’t say:

    1 – He didn’t say that Lane hadn’t understood him. Or was misrepresenting him.
    2 – He didn’t say that he hadn’t explained himself clearly enough.
    3 – He didn’t say that he’s been misheard because of some implicit theological error in his hearers.

    Doug is seeking to reach consensus, and affirm where he agrees with people on these points… and in doing that, he’s acknowledged a failure to affirm something important.

    So, assuming Doug is wrong in every FV thing he’s ever said, the only reason he hasn’t “admitted” that – is because according to his conscience he honestly believes he’s right. And admission that he’s failed to say something important is evidence of that honest humble conscience…

    I know plenty of baptists who simply “won’t admit they’re wrong”. But that’s because they can’t see/perceive/understand the wrongness of their position.

    Doug’s comment is a little piece of evidence that – even if he is wrong – his heart isn’t, and he’s prepared to admit where he’s failed to say something right.

  11. GLW Johnson said,

    December 17, 2008 at 6:16 am

    Scott Clark was right. It like banging one’s head against the wall…

  12. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 6:24 am


    I don’t think that’s an entirely fair response. I can see why you feel that way, but can you connect with something of what I’m saying here?

    Doug has admitted that he didn’t say something that he should have said. That’s an admission of being wrong.

    When/if he ever sees that he’s wrong on the FV stuff, his admission above in #4 is evidence that he would be prepared to admit it.

    GLW Johnson… please… I am not trying to irritate you… I am being very genuine over here :) can you see that? Can you recognise that? If, in my tone or manner, I’m being obtuse, or unreasonable so as to make you feel the way you do, then please point that out to me, and I really do apologise.

  13. GLW Johnson said,

    December 17, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Sorry, but my head hurts.

  14. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 6:34 am


    Well, I can see that this discussion isn’t going to be a mature one. I honestly want to try and understand you guys. Comments like this do not enamour me to your way of thinking.

  15. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 17, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Vern (#5):

    Jeff, Calvin’s view sounds very pious, but can it be proven from the eucharistic texts? I believe Calvin’s view has been called “eucharistic ascent” whereas it seems the New Testament teaches the opposite, the pneumatic descent, as it were, which involves an ecclesial presence (where two or three are gathered).

    I suspect all the pious language surrounding Catholic, Luther, and Calvinistic views on the Lord’s Supper stems from the desire to turn the Supper into a metaphysical event — a view that increases the perceived power of the dispenser of the metaphysical elements.

    It’s a fair question — does the Scripture teach Calvin’s view?

    To do full justice to this question, I would refer you to Inst. 4.17 and his commentaries on 1 Cor and especially his commentary on the Last Supper.

    In brief, Calvin’s motives are actually rather opposite to your suspicion. Rather than seeking to increase the power of the dispenser, he is seeking to reduce it, especially vis-a-vis the Catholic position.

    Instead, he is seeking to do justice to several things:

    (1) His general understanding of sacraments — that they are physical signs of the preached Word; and there is a unity between the symbol itself and what it signifies.

    (2) The actual teaching of the texts. In particular, he wants to place appropriate weight on “this is my body” by admitting the metaphor. But also, he notes that communion is a participation in the body of Christ (1 Cor 10) in a way that other eating is not.

    (3) Accounting for the fact that disorderly behavior at communion (1 Cor 11) is punished more severely than other disorderly behavior within the church.

    To sum up, Calvin desires to exalt communion itself as a means by which Christ communicates Himself to the people (as a living sign of the promise of the gospel). He does not exude even a whiff of exalting the dispenser of the sacrament. In fact, for Calvin, the Word and His word precede the sacrament.

    Jeff Cagle

  16. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 17, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Lane (#0):

    That was the whole point of my grammatical analysis of 28.1. WCF 28.1 does NOT say that the grace exhibited and conferred is equal to ingrafting, regeneration, remission, etc. Rather, the grace exhibited and conferred is that the person now has a sign and a seal of all those things. The sign and the seal is not equal to those things. Rather, baptism is a sign and seal of those things. This is how the grammar of the passage works. It says that baptism is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, a sign and seal of ingrafting, a sign and seal of regeneration, a sign and seal of remission of sins, etc. Signs and seals are not equal to the things they sign and seal.

    I’m confused by this. You appear to be saying that the grace received in baptism is the sanctifying grace of “the sign and seal” of salvation.

    But Calvin identified the sacraments with the word, such that receiving the one by faith was equivalent to receiving the other. And the Confession appears to track with this in 27.2: “There is, in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other. ”

    You would not say, certainly, that someone who received the preached gospel by faith was receiving the “sign and seal” of salvation, rather than salvation itself.

    Likewise, then, I would not say that one who receives baptism by faith is receiving the “sign and seal” of salvation, but salvation itself. And I believe that this is Calvin’s position also (I’m open to correction, though!)

    BUT NOTE — along with the Confession, I would affirm that the grace of salvation received in baptism is received at the moment of faith, whether that faith occurs at, before, or after baptism. No magic-think here! Rather, a sacramental union between the sign and thing signified, all mediated by faith.

    Jeff Cagle

  17. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 9:03 am


    I think I agree with Jeff wholeheartedly, and I tried to make the case that WCF 28 is saying exactly that in my comment #8

  18. Reed Here said,

    December 17, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Ref # 14:

    Pete: Gary is not trying to diss you. He’s just expressing the frustration many like Gary, who have been engaging for a while now, feel when dealing with such issues. If I might respond in the irenic spirit you offer your observation, and hopefully explain somewhat my own frustration (and maybe Gary’s), it flows from the following:

    1. Your observation about Doug’s admission of error is immaterial to the debate, and
    2. That you observe it as something substantial around which we can build rapproachment between the FV and its critics is a source of frustration.

    A brief explanation of what I mean by both:

    1. Doug admitted an error in editing, not an error in thought, as you rightly observe. I too, and I’m sure Gary, recognize the integrity with which Doug behaves in such matters. His conduct is consistent with his profession of faith in this regard, and therefore something to be applauded.

    Yet it is immaterial to the fundamentals of the debate. As you rightly note, Doug is not admitting error in the doctrinal formulations of the FV. With you, I (and I’m sure Gary) have no problem with the integrity Doug shows here – he believes both that the FV (that to which he agrees) is biblically sound and that the critics are wrongly understanding/critiquing. The problem is that we who are critics of the FV do not agree with Doug – we believe we are rightly understanding and critiquing the FV.

    In this sense, we could say, both Doug and Gary (and Lane, Scott, are banging their head’s against the wall (or screaming at the windshield).

    2. But this is no source of comfort, and especially no basis for coming to some agreement, or to even at least reduce the distance between us. An editing “error” is not on the same level as the “errors” the FV critics charge Doug ( with. If Doug were to reverse himself on the basis of one of these – then there would be some hope.

    Yet we still have the situation where in sincerity:

    > Doug believes: 1) his FV theology is not in error, 2) critics like Gary are misunderstanding, and therefore 3) Gary is wrong in his criticism, and
    > Gary believes: 1) he is rightly understanding Doug’s FV theology, 2) his criticism is correct, and therefore 3) Doug’s inability/unwillingness to see this is cause for banging one’s head against the wall.

    Summing all this up, this is why Gary responded to you the way he did. Your sincerity in offering that error admission as something of substance that might be of use in rapproachment is frustrating. To use a cultural cliche (and not to be harsh), it’s like listening to TV commenators saying that Rodney King’s “can’t we all just get along,” as right as it was, was a sufficient basis for resolving the problems upon which he was commenting. It is just silly. The differences are far greater than that.

    Thus, kudos to your desire and intentions. Hopefully you won’t think myself (or Gary) unkind in observing that your observation is meaningless.

    Take another look at Lane’s comments here – this exemplifies the significance of the gap. It is as if Lane and Doug are speaking different languages. Admitting an editing error does not help in any way resolve why men like Doug and Lane, who have been irenically discussing for a couple of years now, are still finding it so hard to understand each other.

  19. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 11:37 am


    Thanks for your response. Irenic is important… especially on issues we all care about so much.

    I’ve apologised to you personally before for making statements that weren’t reasonable… and I’ll gladly do so again if I’m being unreasonable. However… in this case I don’t think you’ve read me correctly.

    “Your sincerity in offering that error admission as something of substance that might be of use in rapproachment is frustrating.”

    Please read everything I wrote again, and notice that – nowhere did I try to draw consensus on the basis of Doug’s admission of error.

    It is telling that you have *assumed* that’s what I was doing.

    I originally “just pointed it out”. I did that because in discussions on this blog, I’ve seen people be – what I think is – unfair to Doug in this regard by holding him to a higher standard than is reasonable when it comes to “humility”.

    In other words, if Doug is to be criticised – as he has been at points – for never admitting he’s wrong… then that is an unreasonable criticism to hold *simply* because he still disagrees with you. His comment above is an example of Doug admitting he did not say something he should have said.

    Regardless of the material of the debate, as Christians, the way we characterise each other *is* important… and it *is* worth pausing to recognise that Doug didn’t try to *justify* his omission of the HS in the doctrine of the sacraments. That sort of recognition makes the difference between having a reasonable discussion where I disagree with someone, and having a discussion where I disagree with someone *and* I’m shouting at the windscreen.

    Let me say this as clearly as I can: ***The other guy not agreeing with you is *not* a justifiable reason to scream at the windscreen.***

    If you *feel* like screaming at the windscreen, that *might* be because the other guy just can’t admit when he’s wrong… or… it *might* be because even when he does admit he’s got something wrong, you can’t bring yourself to recognise he’s done that.

    My boss is an Anglican baptist (random and bizarre, I know)… whenever we talk about baptism, he is massively inconsistent, and cannot justify his position. However, I can’t say that he never admits he’s wrong *simply because* he won’t admit he’s wrong on the issue that I feel is important.

    Similarly, I was trying to simply register that Doug has admitted he missed something important. Absolutely nowhere did I extend that to say “therefore why can’t you guys just see eye to eye…”

    And, I *have* added a comment to the material of the debate – #8 – which hasn’t been dealt with.

  20. jared said,

    December 17, 2008 at 11:40 am


    It’s not “as if” they are speaking different languages; they, in fact, are speaking different languages. Well, in as much as theology is concerned at least. What’s odd to fence-sitters such as myself (and Pete, perhaps?) is that I see both languages as (1) each having their particular (or peculiar?) biblical basis and (2) mostly within the pale on both accounts. That’s what’s nice about pales, they are big and hold lots of water.

  21. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 11:55 am


    I, indeed, am a fence sitter.

    And the biggest frustration to me as a fence sitter is the WAY in which people characterise the other in this debate. May that – even in the smallest, tiniest, way – have something to do with the “talking different languages” thing??

    So, for example, while at times anti-FV guys say they’re calling the FV “heresy” simply in terms of being heterodox from the Reformed faith… actually the way it’s treated, and the way FV guys are spoken about, is as though they are heretics in the more heavy sense. So everyone over in the UK who has heard about the FV, has heard that it’s supposed to be “denying the gospel”.

    Think about it – that context is **bound** to result in encouraging the FV guys to respond in the ways you find unhelpful and aggravating.

    I really, honestly, as a total outsider have found very helpful things on this blog and on Doug’s blog. And on the wider FV side, and on the wider anti-FV side. However, I’ve got to say that I don’t see how either side fall outside the Reformed pale… no matter being more serious than that.

    I suppose just because people feel that Lane and Doug have not made much progress, that’s no reason to be unfair to each other.

    Doug is, indeed, sometimes unfair to Lane. But sometimes people in these comment threads are unfair to Doug.

    I’m just asounded that it’s so hard for people to simply register, or acknowledge in passing, that Doug has admitted getting something wrong – even if it’s just in the tiniest most insignificant way. It seems extraordinary.

  22. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    So, the “grace promised” in baptism is not “ingrafting into Christ,… regeneration,…remission of sins,…giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life.” Rather, the “grace promised” is “you now have a sign and seal of rengeneration”?

    That requires taking “promise” to be some different action from “signing and sealing,” which seems to me like an enormous stretch in the natural reading. The grace that is offered, etc. in baptism is not a separate act of “signing and sealing,” but rather the whole set mentioned in 28.1.

  23. Reed Here said,

    December 17, 2008 at 2:34 pm


    No need to offer any apology here. Thanks for your concern though.

    No, I don’t think I am misreading you. You were making a friendly comment, reflecting back to the original disagreement between Gary and Doug concerning this topic. Gary responding to you here with a simple echoing of his frustration, this time with your friendly comment.

    In other words, please consider my comments in light of the whole conversation. Gary was not dissing you, he is just tired of responding to comments that do not seem to get the point.

    Again, Doug’s admission of an editing error has nothing to do with Gary’s original criticism that Doug never admits he is wrong. Gary was not offering an absolute statement, as if Doug has never on any subject ever admitted error. Gary’s was more focused than that – to wit that Doug has never admitted any error in his FV theological formulations.

    And again, your observation that Doug admitted an editing error has nothing to do with Gary’s original criticism. Thus, expecting Gary to respond to it, other than to admit humor in your observation, is just silly.

    I must admit myself being somewhat frustrated with the further insights you offer. Let me simply say, I agree, never said I didn’t, and I don’t think any of this has anything to do with what I was saying to you.

    Again, Gary’s original criticism is particularly directed toward Doug’s FV positions. Doug has not on this blog (maybe elsewhere, but I am unaware of any) said anything to deny the accuracy of Gary’s point.

    Whether or not Gary’s point is fair is wrapped up in the question of whether or not Doug is right/wrong or Gary is right/wrong. I am not offering an opinion on that subject.

    I do think you are reading beyond my comments. I did note your substantive comment #8. I did not in my comments however, chastize you for not offering a substantive comment. I was simply offering some insight into why your observation that Doug admitted an editing error has nothing to do with Gary’s original criticism.

    I appreciate your desire to help make bridges between Doug and Gary. I remain persuaded that your observations are immaterial to addressing that need.

  24. Reed Here said,

    December 17, 2008 at 2:37 pm


    Ref. #20; absolutely. I think we all need to take some serious though to what it means that the length of the conversation, beyond Doug and Lane as well, and conversation marked with much more respect than sometimes is recognized, and stilll there is such substantial disagreement.

  25. Reed Here said,

    December 17, 2008 at 2:44 pm


    Ref. #21: does this help, “I, Reed DePace, a moderator at Green Baggins, do hereby acknowledge that Doug Wilson admitted on this blog, that he was party to an error, and call on all other bloggers here to recognize this fact.”

    This is rather silly. No one ever said Doug is unwilling to admit errors. Again, Gary’s original point is with reference to Doug’s FV positions.

    And I completely understand that Doug is acting with integrity in not admitting to any such errors, if he believes he has not made such errors.

    Again, I’m just repeating myself now (said all this in the previous post). Hopefully however, you can get over your amazement that no one here is willing to recognize Doug’s willingness to admit error. It is factually not true, so you can relax and let it go.

    Now, lest I be misunderstood. if we were standing face to face, you would have seen me roll my eyes, smile at you, raise the tone of my voice (not its volume) to emphasize a note of friendly sarcasm in my voice, all the while poking you in the ribs.

  26. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 3:12 pm


    #23… ok we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this then. Maybe you understand why I feel that you guys are unfair to Doug, then? And maybe you understand a little bit more now of what was behind my comment the other day that it feels like you guys are “out to hang” Doug.

    Now… I apologised for that comment – because it was unfair. But surely you can understand a little more now, why it is that I would feel that way.

    I’m just trying to imagine if this whole situation were reversed. If I, or Pete Leithart, or Doug Wilson had said of one of you, that, you never changed your mind on anything ever… and the evidence that was cited was simply that you’d not moved toward acknowledging the truth of *any* FV position in this whole discussion, regardless of any other evidence you may choose to cite… your whole reading of the situation would be very different.

    Reed – seriously speaking… I don’t think you’ve actually answered any of the actual issues that I’ve raised in these comment threads. I’m **not** saying that as one coming from a pedantic polarised position either… I am saying that as someone who really genuinely wants to sympathise with the position you guys hold to here.

    And just like the constant things the FV guys throw at you like about being baptistic, not listening to them properly, not understanding them, etc. are not helpful to you, and make you very frustrated – as though serious questions you have aren’t being taken seriously. Equally so… to just dismiss arguments people make as “old”, without any other qualificaiton… or to just state that “I’m an expert in that area, and it doesn’t mean what you say,” or “well that’s what the Reformed denominations think” … is just as frustrating – and unfair.

    May I gently, and humbly, suggest there’s a potential double standard here, at times – I’m NOT suggesting that’s on purpose… but just hear me out, it certainly *feels* like that’s the case… maybe I’m totally wrong – if so, I’m sorry:

    When discussing if something is fairly to be called “Reformed”… it’s ok for you to point to what the Reformed denominations and presbyteries have said about it… but it’s not ok for me to raise what Bavinck has written that seems to be relevant. All of a sudden – I’m told – the REAL issue is scripture. But that’s not an even keel, is it? And so there’s no dealing with Bavinck, no answers, no linking to a previous conversation about how he pans out on the issue… it’s just dismissed.

    Or what about the issue of godliness in debate. The charge made against Doug Wilson is one of godliness – if he never changes his mind on the issues, that’s a charge of ungodliness. But the natural question that needs to be asked is – is it godly to make a charge like that? That is serious, and is relevant to the discussion… charges that people aren’t reasonable in discussion *is* important. At least, it’s important when Doug is the one who’s done something wrong, but it’s not relevant when one of your are potentially getting something wrong.

    Now… I am terribly sorry if you’ve heard all of that before. I am terribly sorry if I’m just obviously wrong about this, but you don’t have the time to explain it. However… it does rather feel, simply, like you guys just aren’t being fair to the other side here…

    Reed, you’re my brother in Christ, ok? I am *not* saying this to upset you, or frustrate you, or to confuse things so that some dangerous FV views can be slipped under the door. But we’re all pastors here, aren’t we? Surely we want to help train each other consciences for the glory of Christ. Surely making error clear, and correcting the same errors over and over again in patience is what we all do every day, isn’t it? If the issues are this serious, we can never get away with simply “Well, I know it’s dangerously wrong, but I don’t have time to prove it.”

    And I’m saying to you – in all honesty – what you’re saying to the FV guys… I’m listening, I’m trying to understand… but I’m not convinced… so where does that leave discussion? I would *love* to move forward :)

  27. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    WE JUST CROSS POSTED… beware the cross posting gremlin

  28. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    You go, and reply to me first…

  29. Pete Myers said,

    December 17, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    It’s 9:45pm my time Reed, so I’m going to bed. If you respond, and I don’t – that’s the only reason why.

    Lying in bed I will be praying for Reed, GLW Johnson, and Lane.

    I will:

    a) Thank God for you all.
    b) Pray for your families.
    c) Pray for your pastorates.
    d) Pray for your internet ministry – WHICH IS A BLESSING. Pastor Johnson – I heard some snippets of a sermon you preached on prayer today, and was encouraged (unfortunately, the mp3 was frazzled, so I only got snippets).

    Good night, and God bless.

  30. Reed Here said,

    December 17, 2008 at 4:22 pm


    Hpoe you’ve had a good night’s sleep. As you’ve noted before, there are two issues here:

    1. The substance of the debate, and
    2. The way in which we treat each other in this debate.

    With regards to the first, yes you’ve offered some substantive questions/comments, and no, I don’t think you;ve received complete responses. That is mostly due to our own time committments, and our previous discussion. No intention to ignore you, or to lack in trying to show you where the substantive differences lie – just not enough time.

    I did post to you links to previous conversations here, conversations which I believed were substantive to the questions/comments you made. Did you get a chance to review them?

    Beyond this, there is an ongoing problem of finding the time to hear, understand, and respond to the questions you and others have.

    For example (only example Jared), I am not sure why it is so important to Jared that we discuss the hypothetical faith of Adam and it’s similarities/dissimilarities to our faith. I did try to offer some substantive responses to him. My conclusion, after noting that in the end neither Jared nor I seemed to move off our initil positions, was that in order to move forward I was going to have to ask lot’s more questions of Jared, and then respond at length to him.

    The only reason I can’t to that is because of time constraints. I’ve a family I’m striving to sacrifice for and and a congregation I’m seeking to shepherd. I just don’t have enough time in the day to ask and then answer Jared. So I need to leave it alone. But my not responding to him (you) should not be taken as a statement of ignoring, or refusing to deal with the issues.

    (By the way, I think Lane’s summary above on the topic of Adam’s faith is helpful in terms of highlighting my concerns – I still don’t see why we need to spend time on this hypothetical construct.)

    Finally on this issue of substance, let me ask if you have read the key books, articles, etc.? If needed, I’d be glad to give you the reading list. It might be that some of our concerns will make sense in light of the reading.

    2. As to the second subject, of how we treat one another, yes, we take that very seriously. Part of the response you are hearing, especially from me, is that we’ve heard it so much that ay further comments is like shouting at the choir. It is not to say we are not receptive to particular criticisms; rather we are tired of hearing general criticisms in this regard. Frankly, broad/general criticisms do not get much ear here because we’ve already sincerely considered them and have decided they are not valid.

    Let me suggest a few things to consider:

    > If one of us is persuaded that another person’s position is heretical, then we have the responsibility to both say so and demonstrate why. Doing so is not in/and of itself wrong. This goes for challenges from either side. Making such observations does not mean we’re “out to hang” anyone. It simply means we think that these issues are as serious as they get.

    > This is not a justification for name-calling, belittling and demeaning one’s opponent. Again, we have taken more actions on this blog to shut down anti-FV commenters than we have FV supporters. This has not made us any friends.

    > The Gary-Doug issue in particular view is a good example (and hence my responding to you) about an inconsequential subject that does not rise to the level you think it does. Gary offered a sarcastic comment. Doug responded with a sarcastic comment. They bantered back and forth, and in my opinion were not unfair to each other. Hence I did not take any moderating action.

    My particular preference is to not (ordinarily) communicate in such tones. Doug has demonstrated a committment to otherwise. Gary responds to him in kind. If there is criticism to be offered, it applies to both of them. (Again, I don’t think so).

  31. Reed Here said,

    December 17, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Meanwhile, Lane has offered some interesting fodder, and there have been some interesting questions in response. Let’s move back in that direction.

  32. rfwhite said,

    December 17, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    In #3, Doug affirmed the internal/external distinction. For what it’s worth, as a critic of FV, I can vouch for Doug’s affirmation here. Doug took the same position at the 2003 colloquium on the FV. What other critics have noticed, however, is that Doug has differed from other FVs on this very point.

    Scott’s point seems most precisely stated if, for example, an adverb such as “ordinarily” is added to his sentence, as in “The fundamental distinction missing here, which the FV movement ordinarily either denies or on which it equivocates, is the distinction between an internal and external relation to the covenant of grace.” Since 2003, I think it’s fair to say that there have been FV attempts to qualify denial–arguably equivocal attempts, in the end–where there was formerly unqualified denial.

  33. jared said,

    December 17, 2008 at 10:14 pm


    No hard feelings, I understand about priorities and time management. Lane says,

    The point I wish to make here is that the Covenant of Works means that Adam would have inherited eternal life on the works principle, in contrast to us, who inherit eternal life on the faith principle, and NOT on the works principle (unless you are talking about Christ’s works). But if one starts talking about faithful obedience, then the categories start to get muddied.

    This is odd to me because no one on either side is denying this. Adam needed obedience in order to continue in the covenant. Okay, great. We all agree with this fact. What’s the problem? Apparently the problem is “faithful obedience”. I’m not sure what other kind of obedience there is in either covenant. Adam’s faithful obedience gets him eternal life, our faithful obedience gets us eternal life. What is complicated or controversial? Adam’s obedience would have been pure and undefiled, ours cannot be; hence the two different principles in the respective covenants. What is getting muddied? We both need faith and obedience (or “faithful obedience) but they play different roles given the two covenants.

  34. Vern Crisler said,

    December 18, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Jeff, I was not referring to Calvin’s own view, which is pretty unintelligible, but of certain Calvinists of the FV variety, who want to find any way possible to increase (their) church authority and power.


  35. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2008 at 7:03 am

    Jared (#33):

    …our faithful obedience gets us eternal life. What is complicated or controversial?


    You stepped on the landmine. Take 3d20 damage.

  36. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 7:11 am


    As ever, you feel like a reasonable voice.

    On 2. Yeah, there are many things I agree with you… some areas where I don’t quite agree with you. But agree with the spirit of what you’re getting at. How about this: I won’t address the “spirit of the discussion” thing any more. But we’ll just register that I think the way some of you guys engage with each other doesn’t help matters… and does/will/inevitably makes it hard to see where there ARE points of agreement. I include Doug in that… who doesn’t help himself be understood rightly when he’s sarcastic in his posts in response to Lane.

    Jared’s whole thing about the faith of Adam is a prime example of this. Actually Lane and Doug have “moved”… in the sense that, as they’ve both qualified their positions until the cows come home, they’re almost in exactly the same place on this. I guess the only issue here is that when Jared and me read Doug’s and Lane’s initial statements about it, we assumed the similiarity that was possible… whereas the rest of you assumed the big and substantive differences that were possible… depending on what qualifications came.

    Here’s recognition that I can see why you made those assumptions. But speaking irenically from the word go, would, I genuinely believe, have helped this whole Adamic faith discussion move a *lot* faster. The one book of Doug Wilson’s that I disagree with most is “A serrated edge”. I feel there are some useful things he says here, but… essentially disagree with his overall thrust.

    On 1. I was only pointing out that my comments hadn’t been addressed, because it felt like you’d implied I was only going on about 2. … I’m not, I’m throwing myself in the meat of the discussion. (and incidentally hope that I’ve demonstrated an ability to move on issues where I’m wrong??)

    I’ve looked through the entire thread, Reed, and I can’t find any references to external conversations, sorry. There were some references people made to Calvin, WCF and scripture – when people do that, and I’m chatting on a thread, I look all them up before posting.

    What have I read on the issue? It’s a fair request you’ve made, I’ll try and remember as much as I can… this list isn’t complete.

    Some of these were a long time ago. I’m always up for re-reading key material if you point me towards it.

    On the page:

    The Joint Statement
    The PCA General Assembly Report
    Jeff Meyer’s abridged responses
    Steve Wilkins’ Letter to Louisians Presbytery regarding the 9 declarations
    The OPC General Assembly Report
    I read portions of Lusk’s responses and Leithart’s responses… but by this stage felt I wasn’t reading anything new.
    The Mississippi Valley Presbytery Report
    I think I’ve read a (short) response by Mark Horne to this, on his website, somewhere?

    I’ve listened to Doug Wilson’s examination.
    I’ve listened to Doug debate Michael Horton:

    I’ve listened to Goundry vs Moya:

    Incidentally, this last debate illustrates well how my view of the whole debate has been formed.
    – I was reading Reformed Dogmatics vol 2 at the time I listened to this, and, that’s what got me very surprised. Bavinck seemed to say a lot of things that fit with the FV guy in this discussion… and one of the arguments the anti-FV guy uses is that there’s “no grace in hell” (he makes that point quite forcefully)… actually Bavinck affirms the usage of the word grace to mean unmerited favour (rather than the more specific demerited favour), and Bavinck explicitly uses the example of grace in hell to illustrate that difference in meaning.
    – And lots of (what we’d call) “Reformed” guys over here in the UK (totally un-FV related) would disagree with the anti-FV guy’s use of Galatians 3 in this debate.

    Printed books:
    Some of Tom Wright’s stuff.
    Skim-read Piper’s critique of Wright.

    Waiting for Amazon to deliver:
    The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology: A Comparative Analysis
    By Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation

    Web stuff, read lots of blogs. Spent most of my time:
    On Pete Leithart’s blog
    On Doug Wilson’s blog
    Reading Puritan Board (I would *like* to join and ask questions… but…)

  37. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Pete Myers
    The issue that has me chapped with DW and the FV is their arrogant dismissive attitude towards anyone who dares to question the FV -this includes practically the entire Reformed community that has rejected their claims to have ‘recovered’ the ‘real’ Reformed position. The OPC and PCA ,to mention only the two most prominient Reformed denominations, have officially repudiated the FV. Individuals that composed the study committees- men like Richard Gaffin, John Fesko, Glover Gunn, Sean Lucas and especially Lig Duncan were vilified by the FV. Add to this list of opponents to the FV the likes of Mike Horton, Scott Clark and the rest of the entire faculty of Westminster seminary, Calif.- along with the faculties of Mid-America Reformed seminary, Greenville Presbyterian theological seminary , RTS ,Jackson (especially Guy Waters) and a list of very competent Reformed theologians like R.Fowler White, Cal Beisner, T.David Gordon,Richard Phillips, John Bolt and David Wells. The FV response to all of their critics? “The hell you say?!!” I repeat for emphasis-despite all the pointed criticism by very capable men, who are rightly esteemed in the Reformed world , not a single FV doctrinal distinctive has been relinquished by ANY of the leaders of the FV, especially Doug Wilson

  38. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Pastor Johnson,

    1) Let me say that I am really sorry if at any time I have exhibited an “arrogant dismissive attitude” towards anyone who dares to question the FV (or more partiuclarly me). I confess to certainly *feeling* that attitude at times. If that’s come over, I really do apologise.

    2) Let me also say that I understand your strength of feeling. And I understand why you feel you have the moral authority, because lots of godly men have taken your position. That is why I’m here, actually, because I want to understand the anti-FV case, and be corrected of any wrong thinking I have, and repent… because I currently don’t take the view that the FV is all that wrong, and it DOES concern me that I’m therefore disagreeing with such godly and wise men.

    3) I feel there are 3 ways, though, which aren’t entirely fair in the way you’re thinking about this:

    a) Many of the anti-FVers have villified FV men. May I suggest that, actually, that happened *first*. That does not make counter-villification ok… but we’re talking about people here. Dirty, disgusting, sinful people. I’m a dirty, disgusting, sinful person also… and if someone villified me, I would not respond in a godly, measured, or sensible way I don’t think.

    b) Also… **And this may explain something of why I’m concerned about this whole issue**, I’ve seen some of what some of those men you’ve mentioned have written by way of explanation of the FV. What worries me – very deeply – is that in the UK, many people who have encountered the FV have not heard anything of any substance about what the FV guys believe… I’ve seen a letter (2nd/3rd/4th hand) personally written by one of the guys you mention which is very shrill, and lacking in any substance, just outright attacking the FV in a very polemic manner that doesn’t convey much – if anything – of what they’re really saying. That letter has been seen by many people I know and respect. It concerns me that your debate is finding its way over here *in that way*… and it does not feel like a very Christian reasoned way of doing things.

    Evangelicalism over here is VERY fragile. I know of serious problems that have already started among our ranks because of this – ironically not caused by the FV theology so much as the shrill anti-FV voices which people are hearing. There’s definitely been some “ready-fire-aim” happening over here, because of this…

    I say that as one who has the utmost respect for everyone on your list (that I’ve heard of)… and has great respect, and has learnt much from the particular man who wrote the letter I’ve seen.

    c) Your big issue about “not a single FV doctrinal distinctive has been relinquished by ANY of the leaders of the FV”… may I suggest, the sort of logic you’re applying here is flawed, and unhelpful.

    Let’s say, I agree with you completely. Let’s say I agree that the FV guys are utterly wrong, and that their views are seriously wrong (HOW serious? I’m getting mixed messages from you people about this…). But let’s say serious enough for me to feel “very worried” about it.

    Ok – *what does it prove* that they haven’t changed their minds on the FV issues? What you think it proves is *partially* connected to how important you think the mistake is. But the big question is: WHY haven’t they changed their minds on the FV issues?

    Frankly – the way you’ve loaded up big names in your comment demonstrates something that is (I’m sure unintentionally) counter-productive. Please hear why:

    If Doug Wilson *honestly* believes he’s right before God and scripture… but then he changes his mind *because* lots of good godly people disagree with him… then Doug has just *damaged* his conscience, and actually *disobeyed* Christ.

    In black and white terms: If Doug Wilson is seriously wrong… then it’s because he’s an IDIOT, and NOT because he’s WICKED.

    Therefore he is to be pitied and pastored… and not himself to be villified. Anger/frustration/screaming at the windscreen is not the appropriate response if Doug is honestly wrong.

    If he were wickedly wrong… then your anger/frustration would be justified.

  39. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Reed, Johnson (what *is* your first name btw),

    I am having this EXACT SAME DISCUSSION THE OTHER WAY AROUND ON DOUG’S BLOG. With someone who is claiming that you guys just aren’t acknowledging you’re wrong because of your sin.

    Sin is at the heart of this… but none of us has the authority to declare who’s specific sin is the bigger one.

    Please demonstrate that you’re right in *how* you proceed to speak about the other side. If you’re right, you don’t need to be dismissive of the other guys anyway… let’s all keep applying God’s sovereignty.

  40. Reed Here said,

    December 18, 2008 at 9:17 am


    Ref. #39: Please let the folks know over at doug’s blog that I never assumed, nor stated that they’re wrong because of their sin. (I’d do that myself, but my efforts to join Doug’s blog were not successful; probably just an internet glitch, but I gave up trying).

    Reaching such a conclusion on the basis of the discussion I’ve had would indeed be arrogance and sin.

    Nor do I think Gary (Johnson’s first name) has assumed such. His particular response to you was limited to the manner in which the FV advocates have responded to criticism, even humbly offered criticism. I’m not trying to reiterate Gary’s point, just observe he’s not offered an opinion as to why the FV men hold to their FV convictions.

    There are a number of viable options as to why whoever in this debate is maintaining wrong conclusions.

    1. The person could be wolf in sheep’s clothing, ala Paul’s warning in Acts 20.
    2. The person could be an Apollos in need of some discipleship from a Priscilla and Aquila to help remove erroneous views.
    3. The person could simply be “in process” and speaking on things which continue to develop.
    4. The person could simply be wrong for whatever fleshly weakness.

    Now, as to why do I not see it the way the FV see’s it, yes I could be sinning, even obstinately refusing to listen. All I can plead is that Christ is sovereign over these things, not I, and I trust in Him to protect both His Church and me from such wickedness.

    I am perplexed and disturbed that we cannot remove our differences. I have no other hope than to trust Christ with these things, and to continue to express that faith discussing these things.

  41. Reed Here said,

    December 18, 2008 at 9:32 am


    I continue to wonder the “cash value” behind the Adam’s faith / our faith formulations. I recognize you’ve qualified yourself sufficiently in other posts that I know you mean two different things by “faithful obedience.” The problem is that such language simply invites confusion and misunderstanding.

    Scripture does not formulate things this way. The faith which is dead is that which is without “evangelical” obedience – and this is how the Bible carefully qualifies it.

    The “faith” of Adam is the conjecture of our own theologizing. This is not how Scirpture speaks. Thus we need to qualify and qualify and qualify our language so as not to introduce confusion. And for what, what is gained by theorizing in manners that Scripture itself does not theorize?

    Did Adam need a generic faith, a simple confidence in his relationship with God as Father? We can say yes, provided we note that such faith is nothing of the sort talked about in regards to the faith we need to trust in God as Father. Adam’s faith was nothing more than the common “faith” capacity found in all mankind; it is part of the psyche we are born with (I’m not ignoring the Fall’s effects, just not intending to offer a full blown differentiation).

    This is in no way the faith we have post-regeneration, Whose source is the Spirit, Without Whose abiding presence our faith would cease.

    So why do I need to talk about Adam’s faith and then compare it to my faith?

    Adam had to obey, regardless of the faith in view. He didn’t. In Christ I’ve already obeyed. The evangelical obedience I offer now is in no way corollary to the obedience Adam had offer.

    Again, the mixing of these categories is at best introducing confusion into our theology – and for no benefit that I can see.

    E.g., does God in his communicable attritbutes reflect both male and female expressions of those attributes? Theoretically I can say yes. But so what? The Scripture presents God as (broadly) male. What is gained in now changing the language we use of God, either to neuterize it or to balance it?

    I look at this Adam-faith / our-faith theorizing similarly. We are being creative where Scripture is not. We are doing so not to meet any particular needs (as best I can tell) of believers. We are at best offering confusion to the believer.

    Why is this wise to do?

  42. jared said,

    December 18, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Jeff Cagle,

    Well, somebody has to do it… ;-)

  43. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Pete Myers
    It it one thing to have a large number of respected Reformed theologians express their collective concerns with the FV- but when one ecclessiatical body after another finds the FV out of step with the Reformed confessions, it is an all together different matter. The FV has become a ‘Reformed’ fringe group, or to be more precise, a ‘Reformed’ sect.

  44. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 9:41 am


    We’re in much agreement here, you and I.

    But the options 1-4 (there are of course more), do dictate different responses. And the way this stuff has filtered over to the UK should at least make one pause for thought.

    Doug’s blog – I had similar technical problems, and they seem to be over now. Here’s my promise to you, if you sign up, and you start getting flamed, I’ll pitch in and demand people are nice. I’m not a big hitter over there or anything, but I can pitch in as someone who’s obviously not from your camp.

    I would very, very much like to see you engaging over there. That would be very helpful for me certainly.

    Oh -and – I posted the list of stuff I’d read on the FV back in #36 – that’s why the comment is so long. Please do have a scan of what I’ve looked at, and point me towards anything I should be reading that you think I’ve missed off (basically that will probably mean anything in print). I – to reiterate – am trying to take you seriously.

  45. greenbaggins said,

    December 18, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Pete, the most important book of all is still the book edited by Calvin Beisner entitled _The Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros and Cons_. It has proponents and critics writing and responding to each other.

  46. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Thanks Lane,

    Really, the sorts of discussions we have here are very limited by this blog comment format. If one of you were to set up a set of forums specifically for discussing FV stuff, that would be a better context for the kind of discussions we have here.

    It could be joint modded by some who consider themselves pro-FV, anti-FV and others who think of themselves as fence sitters. If so, it wouldn’t be seen with the kind of suspicion that each of these different blogs are seen by the other.

  47. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Just ordered it, though,

    1) Needed to import it to the UK.
    2) The pound is weak.

    So… looks like we’ll have to have chicken for Christmas again this year… hope you’re somewhat impressed by my level of committment here ;)

  48. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Pete M:

    I would add “The Federal Vision”, which provides some perspective on the concerns that have been raised.

    I note that this work is out-of-print and unavailable, even at Athanasius Press. I don’t know what that means exactly. Perhaps the views expressed in it are about to be revised in some way.

    However, it is an important *historical* source for understanding the controversy in any event.

    Jeff Cagle

  49. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Pete Myers
    You have not responded to my comments in # 43. The major Reformed denominations have all ruled that the FV is out of step with the Reformed confessions-does this concern you?

  50. greenbaggins said,

    December 18, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Pete, you are certainly correct about the limitations of the blog set-up. However, attempts have been made to set up such forums. I am one of the very few critics left still willing to talk to the FV’ers, and this blog is the ONLY place on the net (combined with Doug’s blog) where FV’ers and critics are still talking to each other. Of course, if you believed Roger du Barry, we are not talking.

  51. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Oh, and the conversational blog at De Regno Christi is something of the setup you desired.

  52. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 11:32 am

    … silence is golden.

  53. greenbaggins said,

    December 18, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Jeff, true, but that blog has fallen silent of late on FV issues.

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Yes, I got the sense that it was a conversation over a set period of time.

    By the Roger (#6): Hi! Hope you’re doing well.

    Jeff Cagle

  55. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    “By the Roger”?! Surely I could proof-read better than that.

    Try again: “By the way: Roger…”

  56. greenbaggins said,

    December 18, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Pete, I hope you don’t miss the fact that Doug and I have enough respect for each other that little barbs are interpreted not as a personal attack, but as a rhetorical ploy. I think that should be kept in mind. Certainly I do not feel personally attacked in any way by Doug. My theology has been, but I can separate person from theology in terms of what is in front of cannons. I should also add that people like you and Jared are the reason why I am still writing about the FV. Lastly, you also need to contextualize Gary’s comments. Gary has had some very difficult experiences with various FV men. That explains a lot. Furthermore, Gary has a subtle sense of humor, which is usually lost on the poor FV men. Take comment 52, for instance. I am sure that he had something of a smile on his face when he posted that. Just to help you interpret the various characters on the blog here correctly, as that is important to me, and obviously important to you too.

  57. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm


    Thanks for that clarification. I recognise there’s a big backstory here. I’m sorry if I’ve come over in any way as judgemental. That certainly hasn’t been my intention. However, I think it’s fair to say that *even here* everyone’s recognising a failure to communicate… and I’ve just been pointing to things that – from an outside perspective – feel like they are factors in that. At least in my reading of things.

    May I also add that I when I suggested an internet *forum*, I didn’t mean to undermine what you and Doug are doing here on the blogs. I don’t mean to say, this is a bad context for discussion because of your failure to engage with each other properly. Actually – in the posts – I do feel you guys are engaging with each other. You don’t agree, true, but in these series of posts you and Doug do seem to be inhabiting the same thought-world at least.

    I simply mean that, the blog format is not a good medium for the sorts of discussions that it appears Jared and I (and I think others…) would like to have. In fact your blog is the only blog I know of where the comments section does actually read like a forum discussion. But having some forums, that are administrated (by both sides for obvious reasons, purely to keep them helpful) would be a little more web 2.0, and therefore easier to engage with each other properly.

    I mean, it’s incredible the kind of discussions we’ve been having using a box that’s only 9 lines high… with no method of highlighting other than ***stars*** (read as italics when I do that) and ALL CAPS (read as underline or bold – not shouting – when I do that). It’s more of a technical thing than anything else.

  58. greenbaggins said,

    December 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    I agree with you. However, since many of my blog posts get quite a few comments. For instance, the one on the election cycle has almost 900 comments, which is a record for my blog. It is simply too much to read everyone’s comments. That is why I have a team of moderators. We do the best we can. However, even that is not always sufficient.

  59. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Just a note about highlighting and such … check out the HTML tags for bolding, underlining, and blockquoting here.

    Anyways, back to it.

  60. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    I see that PM still refuses to address my question to him. My head is hurts.

  61. Reed Here said,

    December 18, 2008 at 4:22 pm


    No more walls or windshields for you … for at least the rest of the weekend :-)

  62. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Oh, how nice.

  63. Brett said,

    December 18, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Pastor Lane,

    56 “…Gary has a subtle sense of humor…”
    My problem is when this “subtle sense of humor” says that Pastor Wilson and other FV men have an “arrogant dismissive attitude.” How ironic that I find some of Pastor Johnson’s comments (13,52,60 to name a few) on this blog arrogant and dismissive. But I’m sure that’s just the FV Kool Aid that I’m drinking. Another one I don’t understand is Pastor Clark saying “the fundamental distinction missing here, which the FV movement either denies or on which it equivocates is the distinction between an internal and external relation to the covenant of grace.” Pastor Wilson answers with “I do not deny that there is both an internal and external relation to the covenant of grace.” Pastor Clark responds with… ummm… nothing. We’ve witnessed a drive by theology attack… no response from Pastor Clark. I know, Pastor Wilson probably doesn’t mean it. Lane, I appreciate your attempt at reconciliation and the manner in which you are pursuing it. Very commendable. I hope you know it is noticed by many of the FV proponents. It’s just a little tiring to hear about the “arrogance” of the FV. Both sides have an abundance of arrogance so I say we call it even and prayerfully seek reconciliation on the real issues.

  64. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    It obvious doesn’t matter that this is NOT simply a matter of personal disagreements between a bunch of individuals. THE REFORMED CHURCHES HAVE SPOKEN- does that count for anything? Did the findings of the Synod of Dort address once and for all the status of Arminianism in the Reformed churches? Why , oh, why does the same not apply to the FV ?

  65. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    p.s. Should the Reformed and the Arminians seek ‘reconciliation’ on the issues that divide them? Should Arminians be allowed to serve as ministers in confessional Reformed churches? If so, then throw the Synod of Dort out the window-in fact get rid of all Reformed confessions, i.e. The Three Forms of unity, the Westminster Standards, etc.In fact , we shouldn’t have any confessional standards at all- we should just adopt a broad ‘Evangelical’ position that allows Emergents, Open theists, and anyone who speaks vaguely about how Jesus is meaningful to them. My head banging on this wall has come to a stop.

  66. rfwhite said,

    December 18, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Headbanger, you place such a high premium on the findings of the churches.

  67. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Lane, briefly, I know that you guys can’t possibly maintain a comment list that’s 900 comments long! That’s why I’m suggesting a forum format would be better in some ways, as it’s easier to maintain for these kinds of long discussions. Some kind of forum connected to your blog would actually be far easier to keep track of than these long lists of comments… which are hard for all of us to follow.

    As is evidenced by…


    I have responded to your question. A long time ago, in #38. Let me quote the paragraph:

    “2) Let me also say that I understand your strength of feeling. And I understand why you feel you have the moral authority, because lots of godly men have taken your position. That is why I’m here, actually, because I want to understand the anti-FV case, and be corrected of any wrong thinking I have, and repent… because I currently don’t take the view that the FV is all that wrong, and it DOES concern me that I’m therefore disagreeing with such godly and wise men.”

    And Gary, a personal note:

    Reed is helpful in encouraging you not to give walls and windshields. I don’t understand almost anything of what you’re saying in these little comments most of the time – and just popping up to give soundbites has not helped you and I communicate in any way… so please don’t expect to have communicated with me unless you’ve made things more explicit. I realise my comment posts are just well too long. But yours are just well too short.

    I’m sure you’re a sincere bloke, but can you see that there are a number of us with whom you are not communicating well, by approaching the discussion in the way in which you are doing so at times?

    I’ve stated that I’m here to be corrected… I don’t need to hear that the Reformed churches have rejected the FV again – the difference is that, as an outsider, when I read the 5 points of Arminius, and the bits and pieces of his writings that I have, and then when I read the declarations of the Council of Dort… I immediately said to myself:

    a) I see they’re engaging with what Jacobus said.
    b) I see very clearly they have a good point that Jacobus is wrong.
    c) I see, understand, and therefore agree with their arguments, and therefore wholeheartedly accept TULIP, and all this other stuff.

    What’s different with the Reformed churches is – as an outsider, I’ve read the reports, and stuff, and:

    a) I don’t feel, or can’t see clearly, that they really are engaging with what the FV guys seem to be saying.
    b) I don’t feel that what they claim is obvious really is that obvious, and I have a hard time seeing why their argument stands up.
    c) I don’t see their argument, and therefore don’t accept what the varies Presbytery reports have said.

    In other words – I’ve *never* accepted anything Calvin said *because* Calvin said it… never accepted anything WCF said because WCF said it, never accepted anything any man said because of who that man was… other than Jesus. At least to the best of my ability.

    So, the best that people like me can do is go “oh my word, it’s very worrying for me that I disagree with such godly and wise men, why don’t I try and talk to some of these people and try to understand them and engage with them, and try and get myself put right if I’m wrong.”

  68. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    You are a typical modern day ‘Evangelical’… and I think even Doug Wilson would be uncomfortable with the position you have taken. Do you really think the CREC would allow a Clark Pinnock or a Roger Olson in their midst? Given your stance, why wouldn’t they?

  69. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    I don’t think I am a typical modern day Evangelical in the sense you are implying. Just what do you think I’m saying here?

    I am confessional. Though when I say I’m confessional, I wouldn’t consider strict subscription to be a necessary definition of confessional.

    And to suggest that, because I don’t take your position way over on one end of the line, means that I necessarily must take the position all the way over on the other end of the line isn’t a fair inference.

    You have 5 degrees – you’re a clever guy – you know that’s an illogical leap to make.

  70. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Where is that ol’ fellow Sean Gerety when you need him?

  71. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    You see Gary…

    I haven’t got a flippin’ clue what you’re talking about.

    You feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall? That’s because, you keep popping up out of the ground, banging it just enough to get my attention, then disappearing again before we’ve managed to say anything of substance.

    If I post long, long comments that deal with everything in one go – they’re too long and don’t seem to get read. And if I engage with you in a more dialogue fashion, then you speak in your bizarre gibberish code.

    You are bringing the difficulties down on yourself here.

  72. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Sorry PM, it’s a inside joke… but.., oh, never mind.

  73. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Gary… that’s ok… but this is the internet, remember?

    Anyone, from anywhere, at anytime could read this. None of whom are coming to these conversations with the “right context” that we would really like them to be.

    Part of our problem has been that reality.

    Aside – 5 degrees, seriously, I checked out your website – that’s pretty impressive!

  74. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Adios, amigo.

  75. Pete Myers said,

    December 18, 2008 at 6:36 pm


    Till next time…

  76. Vern Crisler said,

    December 18, 2008 at 9:04 pm


    Re: the reference to Sean Gerety. If you look at some of the old discussions on Greenbaggins you can see that Sean consigns anybody to hell if they a) disagree with Gordon Clark and/or John Robbins, or b) advocate Federal Visionism, or c) support Cornelius Van Til.

    In Sean’s world, Van Til is responsible for the Federal Vision.

    In the real world, the Federal Vision is a multi-faceted movement: part Lutheran, part Anglican, part Romanist, part Greek Orthodox, part Van-Tillian, part theonomic, part Shepherdite, part-fascist, part-authoritarian, and mainly influenced by Jim Jordan and his rather different brand of biblical symbolism.

    Gary and others may sound irritated by you and FV apologists, but they are pretty milquetoast compared to some of the other guys who used to post here (and were banned).

    Hope this helps,


  77. Pete Myers said,

    December 19, 2008 at 5:35 am


    Thanks. Though, as I said earlier, being the internet, this sort of context just can’t be assumed. I’m going to do my best, though, to try and remember where you guys are coming from.

    I’ve worked hard to try and familiarise myself with the theological arguments either side – I recognise I may have failed at points. But realistically, I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to familiarise myself with all the personal contexts like this.

    And – this stuff is all on the web – it could be read by *anyone*… so you may help me to understand “why you’re answering me the way you are”… but a random visitor to the site won’t get that, will they?

    I’ve come to realise, recently, that means that godliness – or perhaps to put it better, wisdom – on the internet means I’ve got to behave differently to the way I would in any other situation.

    So, Gary, some of the pro-FV guys read your comments, and just think that you’re being arrogant and dismissive. I’m not thinking about the best of the best like DW here… I’m thinking about FV disciples – lay people on the ground are never as subtle, careful, fair, or balanced as their leaders. DW may understand your sarcasm, but that doesn’t stop it alienating 100 DW sympathisers who aren’t as clued up as him (e.g. me – how much have we had to discuss this before I “get what you’re doing”?).

    I basically said the same to Doug about his sarcasm. Lane might be fine with it – but I know a brother who works in a parish near me, who, upon reading Doug be sarcastic about Lane’s answer – would simply assume Doug is fobbing him off.

    This 9 line comment box is a global publishing medium… that’s very dangerous. :)

  78. GLW Johnson said,

    December 19, 2008 at 7:04 am

    To quote the late great Jack Palance, “Who cares? Not me.”

  79. Brett said,

    December 19, 2008 at 10:27 am

    To quote the late great GLW Johnson, “My head is hurts.” (Post 60)

  80. Pete Myers said,

    December 19, 2008 at 11:36 am


    With all respect, I think 1 Tim 3v7 means that we should care.

  81. rfwhite said,

    December 19, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Pete, if I may butt in for just a moment, whether sarcasm is appropriate in the various formats in which we undertake discussion is a fair question. Doug and Gary, among others, have some notoriety for their use of it. Then too there are also Biblical authors who use it, as do the Reformers and those who claim them as theological ancestors. So it’s not a “slam dunk” to think that citing 1 Tim 3:7 is going to end anyone’s use of it.

    That said, its utility in discussions is, well, uneven. It depends on an audience’s willingness to deal. I’ve known Gary for almost 30 years. His wit has never dulled. You are under no obligation to interact with Gary if you don’t like his rhetoric–and Gary knows this well. Meanwhile, respect the fact that Gary, Doug, and their fellow “sarcastistas” have been debating these topics for 7-8 years, maybe more. Telling them to lay off the sarcasm is telling them to lay down a rhetorical tool that the Lord and his defenders have always in the defense of truth. Ain’t gonna happen. My advice? Roll with it, have fun with, or find those who will engage you as you desires.

  82. rfwhite said,

    December 19, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Pete, even with my typos in 81, I hope you can “hear” my points. Merry Christmas!

  83. Pete Myers said,

    December 19, 2008 at 1:26 pm


    I do hear your points.

    Haven’t quite engaged with mine completely. Let me try and make this more clear:

    How you come over on the internet, to people who are reading, is important. I’m not necessarily talking about how someone comes over to **me**. I’m not just talking about sarcasm here. When Doug uses sarcasm… that might be ok for Lane, and Gary, and you guys… but *when he publishes it on the web he’s not just talking to Lane and Gary and you guys – it’s global*. Same thing goes for Gary.

    Using the rule that the disciples of an individual will always be less nuanced, subtle and competent than that individual… when Doug is sarcastic he is in big risk of alienating anti-FV guys for that reason. When Gary is sarcastic, he also is in big risk of alienating FV guys for that reason.

    In many comment threads, Gary’s sarcasm has not been understood, or helped, an FV disciple. All that’s served to do is make that particular FV disciple **less able to hear the good anti-FV arguments**. As well as make Gary feel arrogant to that person. This is why I referenced 1 Tim 3v7 and NOT 1 Tim 3v2.

    The issue here is not that Gary or Doug, or whoever are not actually godly… the issue is that more care could – and I’d argue – should be taken to appear to be godly in a global forum. I think not recognising that the sarcasm/obfuscation on these comment threads has lost you ground with some FV disciples is unwise.

    I’ve come away from conversations (and I’m sure others have) more than once thinking – “they’re just doing that because they don’t really have an answer”. If that doesn’t bother you – then why are you bothering to engage on the internet about these issues *at all*?

  84. GLW Johnson said,

    December 19, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Try banging your head against the FV wall and you will be saying ” My head is hurts”.

  85. Pete Myers said,

    December 19, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,and quarreling and abuse will cease. – Prov 22v10

    One man’s humour is another man’s scoffing. Are you helping Bret repent of incorrect views, or,….

  86. rfwhite said,

    December 19, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Pete, I understand your point very well, I think, but thanks for expounding on it. You and I don’t disagree in saying that sarcasm can have effects that are less than desired. The challenge for the target of sarcasm becomes, How do I respond to sarcasm? One of the less-than-desired effects is to elicit the response that the ‘sarcastita’ doesn’t really have an answer. That response, however, has no necessary basis in fact. It is a presumption. Still, it’s a risk and burden that the sarcastita bears. Usually, it’s one that he accepts.

    So how do we respond to sarcasm? More than that, how can I get out of this conversation what I want to get out of it, knowing that sarcasm is a device used by my interlocutors? If I want to avoid the sarcasm, what do I have to do? If I can’t get what I want here, where can I find it?

  87. Pete Myers said,

    December 19, 2008 at 2:35 pm


    No… that’s not my point, I don’t quite think you’re catching it – if I may suggest that.

    If you read some of my previous comments on this thread, you’ll see that I’ve had these conversations with people, and I’ve accepted that’s the way Gary wants to speak about things, and I’ve said that ***I’m*** not taking offence.

    My point is – this is the INTERNET – and there is more than just me in the conversation here. It is unwise to just say “heck, well it’s up to them how they choose to respond” – when you don’t have a clue who on earth it is that you’re fine responding that way.

    What’s more… the good and right use of sarcasm is to try and shock your hearers out of being unreasonable in dialogue, in order to see the wood for the trees – that’s how our Lord uses sarcasm.

    Gary is using obfuscation differently here. He’s using it with people who are trying to have irenic dialogue, and really want to talk things through, and who don’t understand what he’s saying. In other words – he’s not helping people repent of incorrect thinking.

    Just a glance at the way lots of FV disciples have responded to his comments like that demonstrates clearly that it is not a good tactic in helping those FV disciples repent of wrong thinking.

    That may be unreasonable for the FV disciples reading it to walk away with those views and positions. But that doesn’t make the method of argument any more appropriate. And anyway – when I preach to my congregation in order to *win* them around to Biblical truth, I’ve found that I need to go beyond doing the bare minimum to be godly myself. I need to bend over backwards in order to be winsome – especially when I’m preaching on an issue where they all disagree with me.

    I’m pretty sarcastic with: militant (read: arrogant & close-minded) atheists, and with arrogant emerging/open evangelicals who won’t listen.

    humble atheists, and confused open evangelical I wouldn’t dare be sarcastic with… because I know it’s not going to achieve the desired affect.

  88. rfwhite said,

    December 19, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Pete, I have said I agree with you about sarcasm and its effects on conversation, internet or not. As long as the moderators aren’t going to ban it from this site, you’ll have to find a way to deal with it. To this point, my advice hasn’t helped you. If something different occurs to me, I’ll offer it.

  89. Pete Myers said,

    December 19, 2008 at 3:06 pm


    Maybe I don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve or say to me, sorry?

    I’m not saying anything should be banned. I’m simply saying “hey guys.. can’t you see that the way you deal with people at times doesn’t help them change their minds on the FV… which is a shame, because getting people to change their minds on the FV is the reason why you’re posting and commenting.”

    At some points I’m going further and saying “now, I’m not personally offended or anything – but your response isn’t helping *me* understand where I’m wrong and therefore convincing me to change my mind – so what exactly ***are*** you trying to achieve?”

    Inferring that I should just put up with it, or go away gives me two options:
    1) be confused, see others be put off, and just not say anything.
    2) go away.

    Funnily enough, the option I HAVEN’T been given is:
    3) be shown why you’re wrong – and dangerously wrong – and led back to the truth.

  90. Reed Here said,

    December 19, 2008 at 4:26 pm


    Dr. white was simply observing:

    1. He gets your criticism of the use of sarcasm, both in terms of one-to-one conversation (you and Gary) and in terms of audience (those reading your conversation with Gary).

    2. He’s not suggesting any need for you to apologize.

    3. He notes that your criticism of sarcasm notwithstanding:

    a. There are other biblical defenses of its use that Gary/Doug rely on,
    b. The moderators of this blog agree to allow some degree of sarcasm in comments here,
    c. you’re talking to a dead horse.

    4. Therefore, feel free to not worry about it, and instead get what you can out of the conversation.

    I think that is sound advice, and I’m not one used to much use of sarcasm. We really do understand you. Even Gary does. He just disagrees (more or less) and does not care to explain why.

    Nothing more than this.

  91. Reed Here said,

    December 19, 2008 at 4:33 pm


    As to your last option, I refer you to my two responses to you (Doug) on the “Efficacy Again” post. Please note as well the links to prior conversations held here, conversations that got to the heart of the differences.

    I might suggest you click on the “Federal Vision” tag at the beginning of a post. This will bring up all the posts under that subject. Reading in chronological order will be a big benefit.

    I do want to encourage you Pete. My first exposure to the FV began back when it was first being made public at a pastor’s conference. I had an immediate need to understand, as some of the sheep in the flock I was shepherding had first hand relationships with some FV proponents.

    I spent the next 5 or so years privately studying. My first response was very similar to yours, “the FV guys are getting a bum rap.” It was only a couple of years ago I began to understand exactly what the FV was saying, or better yet, how the system works in application.

    It was then that I like you, got involved here with the conversation. I wanted to make sure my understanding was fair.

    So take some encouragement; you’re not alone.

  92. Reed Here said,

    December 19, 2008 at 6:54 pm


    Someone asked me about the propriety of referencing someone who is banned from this blog, and therefore not able to respond. I think that is a good reminder. Let’s not make comments about those who cannot respond.


    reed depace

  93. Pete Myers said,

    December 19, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Reed – thanks, that’s very encouraging, I’ve tried to be candid on the other thread, and maybe you can help me.

    …I have tried to read as much as I can where possible. Thanks for being patient with me.

    Gary – no hard feelings.

  94. GLW Johnson said,

    December 20, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Contrary to the claims of some in the FV camp, my views on the issues do not stem from personal anomosity towards Doug or anyone else associated with the FV. Pete, you on the other hand ,posture yourself as being above the fray-a neutral observer or a referee blowing his whistle to call a foul for unnecessary roughness on the combatants. But you are hardly an unbiased observer in this controversy as your FV sympathies are painfully obvious when, for example ,you get cheered on by none other than DW himself. You still have not addressed the 800 lb. gorilla setting in the middle of the room-The FV has been declared ‘ferninsters’ (there an old Britishism for you) when it comes to the Reformed Confessions by the Reformed Churches and as such they are persona non grata. Have all the blog discussions you want-this will not change a thing.

  95. Pete Myers said,

    December 20, 2008 at 8:12 am


    “a neutral observer or a referee blowing his whistle to call a foul for unnecessary roughness on the combatants”

    You know what? I do actually resent that. I really am now saying that I’m finding you a little bit offensive. I have been nothing but candid in these discussions.

    I’ve been open and honest about being sympathetic to the FV… but I’ve also been open and honest about the fact that I’m not embroiled directly in the discussions. The point is, that I didn’t start with my sympathy toward the FV, I’m an observer from afar, and from the stuff I read, I just can’t see what the problem is.

    “You still have not addressed the 800 lb. gorilla setting in the middle of the room”

    I’ve tried to address this twice, actually – EXPLICITLY. Both times of which have been met by less than helpful posts from you, and you’ve just reiterated your assertion that I haven’t “addressed” the issue – without explaining how my comments that have explicitly referred to this accusation are failing to address it.

    I genuinely am annoyed with you now… I have tried very hard to engage properly here, and, … well I’m gonna just stop talking to you.

    I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, Gary, but here’s a guy in front of you, who really does want to be corrected if he’s wrong – and is genuinely worried about maybe being embroiled in some kind of serious error… and rather than giving me help, which I’ve tried to demonstrate I’m willing to accept… you’ve just been vague, not listened, and now you’re being offensive. If you’re posting here to try and persuade people not to be FV, you’re failing badly – and not because I’m not prepared to listen to reasonable discussion.

    You may not care about that, or you may feel flippant about it – fine. But you are the first person who’s genuinely angered me here.

  96. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 20, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Brothers and Fathers,

    I have a clear record as an FV skeptic, and yet, like Pete, I am also very unhappy with the trajectory of the dialog over the past year.

    Though Pete may not be familiar with the ins and outs of the players in the FV controversy, he nevertheless is presenting us with what would appear to be a stubborn fact: The Federal Vision discussion on this blog has had the side-effect of creating division within the Reformed in England.

    Assuming the report is true (and it’s not the first I’ve heard of it), we should all step back and assess whether our dialog has achieved godly aims. I suggest some metrics below.

    Let’s step out of this thread for a moment and assess the effect of the dialog over the past year.

    What distresses me the most is that we expend great energy in being exacting in our theological formulas, carefully considering the implications of every nuance. And yet, we spend so little energy in considering the side-effects of our rhetorical strategies.

    Let no-one take me here as a scold or self-righteous in this matter. I know full well that my own tongue lacks restraint at times (sometimes exhibiting the “Hermione syndrome”: “Ooh-ooh-I know! Pick me!”). And in saying this here, or in past posts, I may well have sinned through giving offense or exhibiting pride. So there’s no sense in which I’m standing on the outside and speaking as judge.

    Rather, as a fellow shepherd of God’s Church, I am speaking out of a deep concern for the fallout that our discussion has spawned. This concern has grown over the past year.

    Consider the standards of dialog laid out by Paul in Ephesians 4:

    Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all…

    …we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

    …Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

    …Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

    Now consider the following metrics:

    (1) Have we exhibited kindness towards those with whom we disagree?

    It’s hard to give an aggregate score for this metric, since different individuals have different styles. I would point to Dr. White as a model of kindness. But in aggregate, I would say that we score about 4/10 on this metric.

    (2) Over the past year, has the unity of the Spirit increased as a result of conversations here?

    Here’s my own assessment: Jeff Meyers, Mark Horne, and Xon Hostetter are no longer willing to even speak up here because they feel attacked at every turn.

    To be fair, some positive relationships have also been made. But those have primarily been amongst members of the “anti-FV” camp.

    Score on this metric: 3/10.

    (3) Have we avoided partisanship, as required by 1 Cor?

    Comment is hardly needed. We speak openly of “FV” and “anti-FV.” We might as well be saying things like “I am of Doug.” “I am of the Reformed.” “I am of Gordon Clark.” (OK, not that last one any more).

    Score: 0/10.

    (4) Have we spoken the truth…?

    Some progress has been made here. I think there is some better understanding all around about what we are talking about.

    And yet, we still have, even at this late date, misrepresentations of positions, even if only through sloppiness. Comments #1 and #3 on this thread illustrate the kind of thing I mean.

    Why can we be so careful about our own positions while yet so loose about the positions of others? Does that not reflect a failure to honor our fellow elders in the church?

    Score: 6/10

    (5) … in love?

    This is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room.

    I submit that our score here is 0/10.

    Dr. Johnson, you are factually incorrect to label “the FV” as “persona non grata.” Quite the contrary — certain views have been labeled as “ideas non grata.”

    The particular men in the PCA who have signed “The Federal Vision Joint Declaration” have been, to date, exonerated by their Presbyteries (save Wilkins, whom I think would likely have been convicted had he stayed) with regard to the charge that they teach these ideas.

    Hear me carefully on this, because I am not agreeing with their theology. I fully support the process going on with Peter Leithart, and I supported the action against Wilkins also.

    But the process is the process, gentlemen. It is designed to prevent a rush to judgment.

    One area in which the discussion here has rushed to judgment is in assuming that the elders who are labeled “FV” also hold to the views proscribed by the 2007 G.A’s “Nine Declarations.”

    That assumption is not valid. In fact, Meyers has affirmed the content of the Nine Declarations (while simultaneously dismissing them as useless — so there ya go).

    So what does this situation reveal about us? We all believe that adultery is wrong. What would we say of a man who pointed to the seventh commandment, jumped up and down, and hollered, “I suspect my wife of adultery!”

    We would say that he revealed a lack of love for his wife, in making a public accusation before determining its truth. We would all suspect that there existed other issues in the marriage besides possible adultery.

    In like fashion, we reveal a lack of love and honor for the ministers in our midst by labeling them as condemned without the official judgment of the Church that they actually teach the views that are condemned.

    I have no problem expressing my concern over the doctrines in “The Federal Vision.” I have no problem going 100 rounds with Xon about “Temporary Justification.”

    But darn it, they are our brothers, until a court of the Church says otherwise. What are we thinking by lowering them in the eyes of others?

    Consider how you would react to a visitor in your church who walked up to you after the service and accused your TE of heresy. Or if you are the TE, then consider how you would want one of your congregation members to react.

    It’s a no-brainer. We would perhaps engage in a little bit of discussion for the sake of being pastoral, and then we would tell the heresy hunter to take write a letter to the Session. We would invoke 1 Tim 5.19, “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.” We would expect that due process be followed because we honor our pastor as an elder.

    Well, gentlemen, the Internet provides our sin natures with the fantastic opportunity to do an end-run around due process. Accusations are made without the proper number of witnesses, adjudicated by the court of public opinion, and judgment rendered by private individuals without the backing of the court. The ‘Net allows us to virtually walk into the congregations of other pastors and accuse them of heresy.

    What are the facts? Certain views — not certain men — have been declared out of accord with the Standards.

    That’s it. Nothing more.

    If we go beyond that, as has been done on this blog by individuals at all levels (lay, REs, TEs), then we reveal a fundamental lack of love for our brothers in the church.

    Now, some may point the finger in the other direction. Have not the Federal Visionaries also promoted division? The case can certainly be made. But we don’t control them. We control ourselves — or not.

    There are other metrics from Ephesians that I mention without assessment because they are more individual — patience, humility, bitterness. Let he who has ears, hear.

    So Pete’s plea here, even if perhaps expressed as a “referee”, nevertheless reveals something that ought to make us all very alarmed. Our blog discussions have had, as a side-effect, enhancing division amongst the Reformed in England.

    I’m so proud, ya know?

    Grace, peace, fear, and sorrow,
    Jeff Cagle

  97. GLW Johnson said,

    December 20, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Pete and Jeff
    The 800 lb. Gorilla is still sitting in the middle of the room doing his best impersonation of Jack Palance and giving both of you the raspberry.

  98. Pete Myers said,

    December 20, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I unreservedly apologise for being a “referee”, and for the judgementalism that implies.

    It’s obvious that my input has not properly respected the back story people have, and that I have sounded arrogant at points in this discussion.

    I admit that I’m confused by this issue, and I am sorry for contributing towards division among the body, through both my confusion, and my lack of senstivity.

    Specifically, I’m sorry to you, Gary, for writing my last post #95 in anger. The anger of man does not produce the righteousness God requires… either in myself or others, and that post was out of line. I apologise for it unreservedly.

    I hope all of us can move forward as brothers, assuming good faith, looking for reconciliation where that’s appropriate, and humbly repenting of false doctrine where that is also appropriate.

  99. rfwhite said,

    December 20, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Mr Moderator, as I read back over this exchange, it appears that we veered off the topic of the main post onto a path in which Pete Myers wanted to debate the propriety of Gary Johnson’s evaluation of Doug Wilson’s comment in #4. For Pete and others, the brief Johnson-Wilson exchange was a little piece of evidence of what he and others regard as the unfruitful and, too often, ungodly side of the debate over FV. For Johnson and others, Pete’s comments are indicative of a widespread failure to give due respect to the conclusions of several Reformed confessional denominations and theologians and to the negative effects of the FV controversy on those denominatons in the USA. We’re also told that Pete’s plea sounds an alarm that our blog discussions, because they’re read on the worldwide web, are bearing fruit in the enhancement of divisions in the Reformed world in England.

    Where, Mr. Moderator, do we go from here? Is it enough to agree that we should walk circumspectly since the teaching and behavior of men of both sides have hurt their cause and brought divisions in the USA and Britain? Is that conclusion sufficient and profitable? Is there something more to say or do?

  100. Vern Crisler said,

    December 20, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Hmm, the discussions on Greenbaggins are causing divisions? I would rather say that the Federal Vision is causing divisions where none existed before.

    Gary’s point seems valid: FVists, who are always going on about church authority, fail to give due weight to the many Reformed denominations who’ve rejected FV.

    And when it looks like they’re going to come under discipline from their denominations for teaching FV, they bolt and join Wilson’s group, hence exhibiting hypocrisy.

    Their operating assumption is that submission to Mother Church is mandatory, and that rejection of Mother Chruch is never an option — except, of course, in their case.

    IMO, Pete needs to read and take to heart what the Reformed churches have said about FV, and its danger to the principles of the Reformation.


  101. greenbaggins said,

    December 20, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Folks, I propose a very simple criterion that has helped me no end in moderating my own tone over the last few years (Jeff C, has there been no improvement in my tone? What about Reed and Fowler? Are they not gentle?): do not write anything on this blog in response to someone that you would not be willing to say to that person if he were standing right in front of you. Have the same standard for blog conversations that you have for regular conversations.

  102. Pete Myers said,

    December 20, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Guys, I haven’t meant to say that the discussions *on the Green Baggins blog* are leading to divisions in the UK.

    There are rumblings of this discussion over in the UK… and in unhelpful ways… but I outlined that one way those rumblings came across the water are through a shrill letter that didn’t deal with the substance.

    No mention of blog posts or comments there.

    My issue with the blog comments had been that clearly there were some commenters who were put off by Gary’s style. And that he didn’t seem to respond to me with substance. A number of times, I tried to draw that to a close, though, and a number of times it was re-opened by someone else.

    But part of the problem here is demonstrated by Vern’s comment in #100. How many times, and in how many ways, can I say this… and how loudly do I have to repeat it:


    My beef is that you guys, in many ways, are actually making it difficult for a guy like me to be corrected. If you read the stuff I’ve written closely, you’ll find that most of my complaints are when stupid, pointless stone-wall comments are made in response to those of us who want to understand and be corrected.

    What the heck do I have to do to demonstrate that’s what’s going on here? Apologising for my mistakes is ignored… admitted where I’m wrong is ignored… asking for help and trying to debate the issues has been met with obfuscation…

  103. Vern Crisler said,

    December 20, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Well Pete, if you’re so sympathetic to FVism, why not be consistent with its teachings? Given how much it stresses church authority — objectivity and all that you know — why not just SUBMIT to the teachings of the Reformed churches?

    If you are going to be consistent with FV, then your failure to submit means you are in danger of falling away, of losing your salvation, of being just like Adam. Objectively speaking that is.


  104. Pete Myers said,

    December 20, 2008 at 12:54 pm


    That’s just not a fair representation of the FV at all.

    And your comment demonstrates perfectly the totally useless kind of argument, that doesn’t move your interlocutor toward Christ.

    What are you trying to achieve in me by saying that? If I’m gonna change my mind on something, it’s GOT to be because of scripture.

    If I did do what you say, then I’d just be one more person who confesses the truth, but doesn’t believe it from the heart.

  105. Pete Myers said,

    December 20, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    You know what Vern?

    In the other comment thread, I’m moving around to non-FV positions.

    But – frankly – I don’t feel like I WANT to be in this camp. Which is different from my feelings when I started engaging on this blog.

  106. Vern Crisler said,

    December 20, 2008 at 1:16 pm


    Your failure to submit shows that you were really never OF the FV position. ;-)

    PS. I actually had to LIVE the FV position when I attended the notorious Tyler church back in the early 80’s. So I see it as more sinister than you and others do, who are coming to it from a purely academic viewpoint.

  107. GLW Johnson said,

    December 20, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Let me approach your concerns from another angle. I get the distinct impression fro your comments that you are more than a little inclined to view the FV in a favorable light. Is that correct? If so, do you think that the OPC and PCA study reports are (1) guilty of misunderstanding the FV or (2) guilty of distorting the issues surrounding the FV ? I personally think both reports were spot on and as such I continue to view the FV as being outside the boundaries of the Westminster Standards and, more importantly, continue to be disturbed by the on going actions of Doug Wilson to cast the powers that be in those denominations( especially the PCA and the SJC decisions regarding the case of Steve Wilkins and the developing case against Peter Leithart )as sinister villians- you might remember he described the Wilkins’ case as an example of ‘bear skinning’. You appear to want to give the FV the benefit of the doubt. I don’t and so these kinds of ‘debates’ actually accomplish nothing other than to give people the impression the the verdict on the FV is still out. It is not. If you are still in sympathy with the FV, I suggest looking into being part of the CREC where you will be welcomed with open arms.

  108. greenbaggins said,

    December 20, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Gary, we must remember that Pete is Anglican, and on the other side of the pond from us. He is not in a NAPARC denom.

  109. GLW Johnson said,

    December 20, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Pete is an Anglican? Well, that explains some things.Pete , do you know Jason Steele? He was once in the PCA down in Louisanna in the same presbytery as Wilkins.

  110. GLW Johnson said,

    December 20, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I think it is Jeffery ,not Jason.

  111. Pete Myers said,

    December 20, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Vern, sorry for over-reacting.

    Gary, as I’ve said before, I’m an Anglican, and I live in the UK.

    My concern here is what to think of the FV myself. My conscience has been, and never will be, tied to the decisions of other men. I subscribed to the 39 Articles AFTER deciding I agree with them.

    Now, for the umpteenth time (lol :) )
    – I’ve explicitly said on numerous occasions that I view the FV in a favourable light. But I’m disturbed by the fact that so many godly and wise people don’t, and so I’m trying to understand that anti-FV case. After doing lots of reading, I wanted to ask some specific questions, and so ended up here.

    As to your constant request that I declare what I think on the men behind the OPC and the PCA study reports: I’m choosing to not draw judgement. I currently feel positive towards the FV, I’ve read the reports, and, didn’t feel they described things I’d read fairly. I could be wrong.

    But you seem to want to paint me into a corner: either I agree with the reports, or I’m implicitly saying something horrible/major about really godly/wise men.

    I’m here to be persuaded – not beaten, not chided, not bullied – into the correct position. If my pastor told me *what* to believe, and expected me to simply agree with him on the strength of the fact that he’s my pastor – he’d be well out of line. His authority over me, is the authority of the Word, and so he’s got to persuade my conscience using the Word.

    I am the guy in your congregation who has read some FV stuff, and found it helpful and encouraging… and then read the OPC reports, and have been too dumb enough to be immediately convinced that it’s right. But that guy is not pushing those views on other people… he’s asking his Bible study leaders about it, and emailing his pastor to ask for help. How do you deal with that guy in your congregation?

    Do you tell him the Reformed churches have spoken, so ship up or ship out?
    Or do you answer his questions, and help him see the wood for the trees?

  112. GLW Johnson said,

    December 20, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Oh. that is easy. We ban all books from canon press, plus we have posters of Doug Wilson dressed up like Bin Laden plastered everywhere.

  113. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 20, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    GB (#101):

    Jeff C, has there been no improvement in my tone? What about Reed and Fowler? Are they not gentle?

    Yes, yes, and yes. Thank you for your leadership in this way.

    Jeff Cagle

  114. Reed Here said,

    December 20, 2008 at 2:34 pm


    As you can tell, we all come with different baggage, and at the same time, the same Baggage. That is, all of us have different contexts, experiences. etc. And we’re all sinners saved by grace, still dealing with the flesh-vs-Spirit existence.

    Thanks for your patience and being willing to bear with others you might not be tracking with.

    Gary’s perspective flows from our particular setting here in America. The process of being faithful to our vows as chuchmen has not been met with the most gracious of responses from the FV proponents. As well, some of us (I’ll confess myself) have not at times handled these discussions well.

    All in all, however, we’ve seen Christ continue to minister His grace and mercy. I still have hopes that the FV will “fix” itself, but not because of the proponents, but rather because of Christ Who is the One Whose promise we rely upon.

    An aside, one of my ongoing concerns is how does the FV works out pastorally. I think there is some wisdom in listening to Vern’s brief observation about Tyler, TX (possibilty proto-FV in some ways). Good intentions among the folks there; an imbalanced understanding of the gospel in its fullness however. If th FV goes the same way, I fear similar damage to ensue in those denominations.

    However, I’ve got my own denomination to worry about. Hence my willingness to keep engaging this subject.

  115. Vern Crisler said,

    December 20, 2008 at 4:41 pm


    Well, it wasn’t just “possibly” proto-FV Everything one finds in FV was being taught at the Tyler church at least since about 1981 or 82. That’s why the teachings of Wilson, inter FV alios, all smells so much like week old cabbage to me.

    Jordan had been influenced by Shepherd, and was apparantly reading and agreeing with G. Dix’s liturgical speculations. Plus, the church started preaching the “objectivy” of the covenant, and consequently their submit-to-the-church, right or wrong stuff (Whitewall Tire sermon).

    Its disciplinary actions against some complainants in the church were Gestapo-like and completely uncalled for, which is why it was overturned by the “presbytery” of the 3-church denomination.

    Plus the Tyler church bolted from its Texas presbytery, showing it could only talk church authority, not walk it.

    So while FV may be new and exciting to folks like Pete, it’s just warmed-over Jordanism to me. I’ve written a few things about it on my blog under the “American Revolution” essay (sections on Early and Later North). I was trying to explain North’s about-face, at one time liking the American Revolution and Constitution (BT, Before Tyler), then denigrating them to the point of become a virtual, if not an actual, traitor to his own country and its governing documents. But he only did this AT, After Tyler.

    Hope this provides some background. The FV teachings go back many years before the pastor’s conference that gave it its name. In fact, I have an email I wrote in 2001 where I criticized aspects of FV before it was called that. See:

    Yes, we all had good intentions at Tyler, but once Mother Church thinking is combined with covenantal objectivism, there’s no stopping the slide into ecclesiolatry and clergy-authoritarianism.


  116. Reed Here said,

    December 20, 2008 at 5:03 pm


    I opened the door on this one. Thanks for your observations.

    In keeping with a previous caution, let me remind to be careful about how you speak of folks who are not regularly here at GB. I’m not chastizing you for anything in particular. Just keep in mind that some folks will not have the context for the “familiar” descriptions you use. Thanks.

  117. rfwhite said,

    December 20, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Pete Myers, re: 111, the questions you pose at the end offer a false choice for me. As a teaching elder in the PCA and a critic of the FV who has discussed these matters face-to-face with the leading FV advocates and in other venues, my response to your questions is to say, Many Reformed denominations and their theologians have issued reports against the FV, but you don’t have to ship out but do respect the fact that, as you continue to study, there has been a lot of history.

    For the purposes of the time I spend here, the most helpful thing you could do is to pose a question (or, if it applies, resume any question you posed above) about the substance of the main post. If I think I have something pertinent to say, I’ll chime in.

  118. Vern Crisler said,

    December 20, 2008 at 6:30 pm


    “Speak of folks”? You mean Jordan and North? I thought what I said about them was already public knowledge.

    See also “As If It Were The Only Way To Worship” and “Living the Lie” at:
    Kevin Johnson never said a truer statement: “Power, my friends, this is about power.”


  119. Pete Myers said,

    December 21, 2008 at 3:14 am


    Thanks, yes, I’ve been keen to move back to the substantive issues to. I’m hoping we can engage with each other them.

    Here’s something I’ll throw out there. I’ve just moved (last 24hours) to finally recognising where the FV are going wrong with respect to failing to properly acknowledge the distinction between the inward and outward aspects of the covenant.

    However, the sacraments are a “means of grace”, and our discussion here is about what the “grace” is that the sacraments are a “means” of.

    I would like to assert that “the grace” really is the forgiveness of sins, et al. I may be reading Lane wrongly, but, it feels like he’s now saying that “the grace” is only the signing and sealing.

    2 things I’d like an answer on:
    1) There is a difference to my assertion now, than before… and that is that I want to robustly and strongly affirm the inward/outward aspects of the Covenant of Grace… and be even more clear that the sacraments only operate as a means to those who are in the Covenant in substance, not just in administration.

    2) I’d reassert, that, the WCF at 28.6 when it says “the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost”, must mean by “the grace promised” actual forgiveness of sins, et al. because of the qualification in 28.5 “Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.”

    The WCF adds the qualification that “grace and salvation” aren’t so tied to the ordinance that the ordinance becomes a work, precisely because, it’s about to go on in 28.6 and explain that this “grace and salvation” *really is* conferred by the sacrament. In other words, the “promised grace” of 28.6 is referring to the “grace and salvation” of 28.5, and not to the “signing and sealing” of 28.1.

    (remember, I’m now saying that in the context of a much clearer distinction between the substance and administration of the covenant).

  120. Reed Here said,

    December 21, 2008 at 8:50 pm


    Yes, I recognize that. I posted primarily for the sake of those reading who might not know your context, and then might misconstrue. Thanks for your understanding.

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