Thoughts on the Siouxlands Presbytery Federal Vision Controversy [Updated 3/13 at 1:11 p.m. MST]

Posted by Wes White

The Federal Vision controversy in the Siouxlands Presbytery has garnered a lot of attention around the web.  I thought I would try to assemble in one place the various articles that have been posted.

1.  The Aquila Report – you can read the objective news reports here.

a.  Here’s the report on the 87th meeting where TE Lawrence was exonerated and TE Moon gave the speech that TE Keister critiqued on this site.

b.  This is the report about the Called Meeting in October where Siouxlands erected a new committee to re-investigate TE Lawrence and exonerated TE Moon.

c.  Here is my report on the January meeting, described by one observer as shenaniganism.  But I did not describe it that way in this objective report.

2.  Johannes Weslianus – certainly the most penetrating analysis you will find on the web.;)

a.  I’ve provided a chronological overview of the entire Siouxlands Federal Vision controversy.

b.  This is the Siouxlands Federal Vision Report adopted in 2007.

c.  My editorial on the January meeting.

3.  Steve Carr of Beholding the Beauty, who attended the January meeting, provided his analysis of the Siouxlands Federal Vision controversy here.  He also started this thread on the Puritan Board.

4.  Speaking of the Puritan Board, one member of it started a thread on Siouxlands entitled Leithart Redux.

5.  Mark Horne has also weighed in on the Siouxlands controversy.

a.  He comments here on my protest.

b.  He replies here to the “pogram against the Federal Vision.”

c.  Here’s more on pogroms.

d.  He also comments on the Presbytery committee for public safety.

6.  Heidelblog.  R. Scott Clark has weighed in on this controversy.

a.  Here is his editorial on the January meeting.

b.   Dr. Clark has also commented on and recommended Lane Keister’s refutation of TE Moon.

7.   Joshua Judges Ruth – TE Sarafolean weighed in after the January meeting.

a.  He had questions about the meeting.

b.  He also commented on the posting of TE Joshua Moon’s speech in defense of TE Lawrence.

8.  Steve Salyards at the GA Junkie wrote about the process of discipline in two PCA Presbyteries, including Siouxlands.

9.  Though there are others, I will leave you with the Protestant Reformed perspective.  That should keep you busy until Lane gets back into the groove next week.

Update: There is a new article in The Standard Bearer on both the Siouxlands controversy and the PNW issues. You can read it here, go to p. 248.

Posted by Wes White



  1. jared said,

    March 4, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Pretty much ruin the credibility of this post by including Gerety’s “analysis”.

  2. GLW Johnson said,

    March 5, 2010 at 7:06 am

    What about the stuff that Mark Horne churns out?

  3. David Gray said,

    March 5, 2010 at 7:07 am

    >What about the stuff that Mark Horne churns out?


    The biggest difference in postings between you and Horne is he doesn’t JUST talk personalities. Even if he’s wrong sometimes.

  4. GLW Johnson said,

    March 5, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Your mother wears army boots.

  5. jared said,

    March 5, 2010 at 7:37 am

    GLW Johnson,

    I wouldn’t say Horne is nearly as bad as Sean is, but I haven’t read much of Horne. I don’t recall him spending a whole lot of time here nor do I recall him accusing anyone of preaching a false gospel. Certainly not with the frequency of Sean at any rate.

  6. TurretinFan said,

    March 5, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I’ve also started a series. The first post is here (link) with supporting posts here (link to list of posts). Lord willing, there are more posts to come in the series.

  7. GLW Johnson said,

    March 5, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Does anybody remember Horne’s ‘ le’se majest’e’ against Piper’s critique of NT Wright?

  8. David Gray said,

    March 5, 2010 at 7:59 am

    I can remember Horne saying intemperate things. I can also remember Horne apologizing. That isn’t so common in these discussions.

  9. Reed Here said,

    March 5, 2010 at 9:24 am

    With all gentleness and humility, this back and forth of bad behavior on the part of some is not the purpose of this blog. This is not the behavior of Christ we all affirm.

    If you feel like making such a comment, control yourself and don’t! You are grieving the rest of us. This goes for the commentor and the one who chooses to attack him for the comment.

    I’m intentionally writing generally here. I have written privately to those whom I think personally need to deal with this. Wheher or not I’ve written to you personally, I urge you to ask the Spirit if you may nevertheless need to repent.

    Wes’ purpose here is to collect in one place the various online resources realted to the matters in his and Lane’s Presbytery.

    Instead of poo-poohing some (pro or con), why not consider how painfully serious this is for our brothers invovled in this matter? Why not consider that this is not a matter of one side imposing their will on the other, but a matter of the purity and peace of Christ’s Church?

    Do you care that Christ’s Bride may be having some spots applied to her “bright and clean” garments? Please, please, make sure that your actions are not party to such muddying of her.

    Instead of disparaging a source, why not recommend other sources? Why not help Wes by finding any other online resources on this matter and bringing them to his attention?

  10. jared said,

    March 5, 2010 at 10:46 am


    What I am opposed to is the collecting of resources which openly (and joyfully) slander those who are preaching the gospel by accusing them of preaching a false gospel. No one on the FV side is accusing the TR side of spreading a false gospel, that I know of. But I digress.

  11. Wes White said,

    March 5, 2010 at 11:06 am


    Actually, remember this:

    “Some men remain in the PCA because God has told them they have a duty to help the 7000 who have not yet bowed the knee to antichrist. They hatred of the Kingship of Jesus, which characterizes so much of the PCA, is with fighting. The Reformed faith is that faith includes fiducia, and this is still worth fighting for, regardless of how many antinominian blogs hate it” (James Jordan, all spelling errors in original).

    Now, I hope that you will go to every sight that has a link to James Jordan and say the same thing that you have said on this blog.

    But, for the most part, you are right. They just accuse them of slander.

  12. Reed Here said,

    March 5, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Jared: if you insist on the continuing of defending unChristlike behavior, with regret I will delete all such comments.

    Your display of arrogance is sad. I urge you to humility. I do this publicly because you’ve chosen to publicly reject my private admonition.

  13. March 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm


    Thanks for this excellent collection.

  14. Jeremy Bowser said,

    March 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm


    Is it always wrong to accuse someone of preaching a false gospel? So what if the FV doesn’t accuse the Confessional orthodox for preaching a false gospel. Liberal mainliners don’t accuse Confessionalists of preaching a false gospel– can then we not accuse them of doing so? The FV men are schismatic heretics, and they are preaching a false gospel. I’m not unloving to say this.

  15. jared said,

    March 8, 2010 at 6:09 pm


    Is it always wrong to accuse someone of preaching a false gospel? No. If you’re a member in the PCA, however, then yes it is wrong to accuse the FV of preaching a false gospel since they have been exonerated on this point.

  16. Jeremy Bowser said,

    March 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm


    When has the FV been exonerated by the PCA on ANYTHING? The Committee Report condemned the FV and all its heretics — Jordan, Leithart, Horne, Myers, Wilkens, Wilson, and Lusk — as false brothers. These are men are actively trying to subvert the gospel of justification by faith alone that was the centerpeice of the Reformation.

  17. jared said,

    March 8, 2010 at 6:36 pm


    From the PCA report:

    “The committee also affirms that we view NPP and FV proponents in the PCA as brothers in Christ. Thus, we take their published statements and writings seriously. We have worked hard to be fair and accurate in our study of their writings and in the statement of the issues they raise.”

  18. David Gray said,

    March 8, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    >The Committee Report condemned the FV and all its heretics — Jordan, Leithart, Horne, Myers, Wilkens, Wilson, and Lusk — as false brothers.

    I’m amazed how many people invoke this report while not evidencing having read the report.

  19. Jeremy Bowser said,

    March 8, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    From the PCA Report:

    “Confusing ‘union with Christ’ with visible membership in the body of Christ through outward profession or sacramental expression is a serious error and endangers our church’s faithful testimony to the Gospel essential of justification by faith alone.”

    Anything that is a serious error and endangers the church’s testimony of the Gospel is heresy. That is the definition of heresy. The Committee Report was too nice to come out and say it. I have no problem saying with Paul that there are false brothers out there in the church.

  20. todd said,

    March 8, 2010 at 7:59 pm


    I dislike the FV as much as anyone, but do we really want to say they aren’t Christians? Who knows such a thing; better yet; who cares, in the sense that we cannot know, so let’s just deal with the teaching, and those teachers that need correction, discipline, etc… just deal with it, but we can never make a pronouncement that they are not believers.

  21. David Gray said,

    March 8, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    >The Committee Report was too nice to come out and say it.

    So the Committee is authoritative except when you don’t like what they say?

  22. Jeremy Bowser said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Any Committee report is authorative as long as it follows the Westminster Standards and the Word of God as confessed by the Reformed churches, expressed in our confessions.

    The Federal Vision is in error because it clearly steps outside the bounds of Reformed Confessional Orthodoxy. This is public and can be seen by all.

    Anyone who teaches that justification comes through baptism has seriously denied the whole point of the Reformation.

  23. Curtis Riley said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Actually, Jeremy, Martin Luther taught baptismal justification. Just pick up a Book of Concord sometime and you’ll be surprised by all sorts of sacramental things that were said by Protestants.

  24. David Gray said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    >Actually, Jeremy, Martin Luther taught baptismal justification.

    Perhaps Luther denied the whole point of the Reformation?

  25. Dean B said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:25 pm


    Please provide a reference.

  26. David Gray said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    He provided a general reference, the Book of Concord.

  27. Curtis Riley said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Here’s one to whet your appetite:

    Book of Concord
    The Epitome of the Formula of Concord
    XII. Erroneous Articles of the Schwenkfeldians:

    4. That the water of Baptism is not a means whereby God the Lord seals the adoption of sons and works regeneration.

  28. Curtis Riley said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    And another from Luther’s Small Catechism:

    IV. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

    Question: What does Baptism give or profit?

    Answer: It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

  29. Curtis Riley said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    From the Large Catechism:

    Holy Baptism:

    6. “…it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved…”

    7. “For it is of the greatest importance that we esteem Baptism excellent, glorious, and exalted, for which we contend and fight chiefly, because the world is now so full of sects clamoring that Baptism is an external thing, and that external things are of no benefit.”

    24-25. “Therefore state it most simply thus, that the power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is this, namely, to save. For no one is baptized in order that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare, that he be saved. But to be saved, we know, is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil, and to enter into the kingdom of Christ, and to live with Him forever.”

    41-43. “Therefore every Christian has enough in Baptism to learn and to practise all his life; for he has always enough to do to believe firmly what it promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, the grace of God, the entire Christ, and the Holy Ghost with His gifts. In short, it is so transcendent that if timid nature could realize it, it might well doubt whether it could be true. For consider, if there were somewhere a physician who understood the art of saving men from dying, or, even though they died, of restoring them speedily to life, so that they would thereafter live forever, how the world would pour in money like snow and rain, so that because of the throng of the rich no one could find access! But here in Baptism there is brought free to every one’s door such a treasure and medicine as utterly destroys death and preserves all men alive.”

    52-53. “Further, we say that we are not so much concerned to know whether the person baptized believes or not; for on that account Baptism does not become invalid; but everything depends upon the Word and command of God. This now is perhaps somewhat acute, but it rests entirely upon what I have said, that Baptism is nothing else than water and the Word of God in and with each other, that is, when the Word is added to the water, Baptism is valid, even though faith be wanting. For my faith does not make Baptism, but receives it. Now, Baptism does not become invalid even though it be wrongly received or employed; since it is not bound (as stated) to our faith, but to the Word.”

  30. Curtis Riley said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    The Defense of the Augsburg Confession:
    Article IX: Of Holy Baptism

    51. “The Ninth Article has been approved, in which we confess that Baptism is necessary to salvation, and that children are to be baptized, and that the baptism of children is not in vain, but is necessary and effectual to salvation.”

    53. “That God, however, approves of the baptism of little children is shown by this, namely, that God gives the Holy Ghost to those thus baptized. For if this baptism would be in vain, the Holy Ghost would be given to none, none would be saved, and finally there would be no Church.”

  31. Curtis Riley said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:57 pm


    Do you think the greatest champion of justification by faith alone would agree to your statement at anyone who believes in justification by the instrument of baptism is a heretic?

  32. Dean B said,

    March 8, 2010 at 10:03 pm


    “4. That the water of Baptism is not a means whereby God the Lord seals the adoption of sons and works regeneration.”

    The sacraments are visible preaching. Do you believe because the preaching of the Word is the means God the Lord seals the adoption of sons and works regenerating?

    Do you seriously think point number 3 a proof that Luther taught “ministry of the word justification”?

  33. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Jeremy (#22):

    You might find this informative.

  34. Reed Here said,

    March 9, 2010 at 6:32 am

    Jeremy: let’s leave it as it is your opinion that these men are schismatic heretics, AND, the PCA report did not go as fas as to agree with you on this.

    All others, do we have to debate a dead issue again?

    Curtis, the subject of this post is NOT Lutheran views of the sacraments. It is quite unhelpful to cross-point post.

  35. David Gray said,

    March 9, 2010 at 7:22 am


    Thanks for the article.

  36. David Gray said,

    March 9, 2010 at 8:29 am

    >Curtis, the subject of this post is NOT Lutheran views of the sacraments. It is quite unhelpful to cross-point post.

    Reed, please consider how with some regularity people argue that some FV view is outside the Reformation in its teaching yet even if you concede it isn’t Reformed it is closer to the Reformed than is the Lutheran equivalent. A surprising number of Reformed people seem to think that Lutherans were outside the Reformation.

  37. Curtis Riley said,

    March 9, 2010 at 9:28 am


    I appreciate your point, and I promise I won’t overdo the Lutheran views. But, that said, I agree with David that the Lutherans provide us with another PROTESTANT view on sacraments. Bringing in the Lutherans stops people from making the silly statement that “only Roman Catholic papists believe in baptismal regeneration.” Remember this: on the floor of the General Assembly, R.C. Sproul appealed to Martin Luther, not to someone in the Reformed tradition, when he said that the FV is denying sola fide by their sacramental views. And it’s also helpful to remember that Calvin signed the Augsburg Confession with Philipp Melanchthon. Calvin never said that he disagreed with Luther on baptism, even though he felt free to disagree with his view on the Supper. That’s something to think about.

    Jeff: thanks for the article. Great find.

  38. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 9, 2010 at 9:47 am

    You’re welcome, both (and I promise not to hijack the thread, Reed!).

    Having pointed out that Luther and Lutherans believe in something that resembles or could be called “baptismal regeneration”, I should also speak out on a couple of issues on point.

    (1) Efficacy of baptism is a rabbit trail, IMO. The statements about baptismal efficacy in Calvin (see Comm. Rom 6.3, Gal. 3.27, and 1 Pet 3.22) are very strong; and it is possible to say that “baptism saves” (as Peter does), while qualifying it (as Peter also does) in such a way that the statement represents orthodox Protestant sacramental union.

    (2) Instead, the questions are When? (At the moment of application? or at a time of God’s choosing) and To Whom? (To every recipient? To those who receive it in faith?). And these latter questions get to the heart of the matter. Is the Visible Church an approximate church, the “church as man sees it”?, or is it absolutely the “household of God” without qualification?

  39. Reed Here said,

    March 9, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Curtis: the point is that this post has nothing to do with the sacraments.

    Jeremy’s original comment invoking baptism regeneration, while over-speaking, was targeted at the FV’s notion of covenantal baptism and how this really unites all who are baptized in some salvific manner. You do well to challenge whether or not he has understood the FV correctly, or whether or not such position is refomed – not Lutheran.

    Look, this line of debate is continually brought up here, on other posts in which it is relevant. It is not relevant here. I’m not swayed by your effort at defending the reasonableness of bringing it up. Feel free to join Jeff Cagle and Roger Du Barry on the post, “Does God practice temporary forgiveness,” where the thread of comments has naturally led to such considerations.

    Jeff posted his comment just as I was finishing this one up. I’m adopting Jeff’s first point, to wit, the issue is a rabbit trail. Accordingly,

    Leave it alone here. A simple response of “o.k.” is more than sufficient.

  40. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 9, 2010 at 9:51 am

    I’m not comfortable with linking to Mr. Gerety’s posts. His analysis is not “clean” in the sense that it is colored by a large degree of obvious animus. Linking is a form of advertising or approval, and whatever cogent points he makes (there are some), I hope and trust that you (Wes) do not desire to approve of the animus.

  41. Reed Here said,

    March 9, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Jeff: Wes’s linking to someone like Mark Hornes carries a similar onus. While I appreciate how you express your caution, I think your concern is denied in Wes’ very post, in that he references all sources, not select sources.

    Instead of expressing concern that Wes is somehow joining in with the over-statement of a particular person, he should be praised for demonstrating a distinct unwillingness to censor even voices that might speak against his opinion.

    This is just a non-issue unless/until someone here demostrates agreement with sentiments that Lane has declared forbidden.

  42. Reed Here said,

    March 9, 2010 at 10:04 am

    David: I appreciate your concern. My cease and desist to Curtis is not to be understood as an animus against that point.

    This is really quite simple – it is not relevant to Wes’ post.

    Feel free to ask him to start a post exploring the subject is your wish. (Don’t ask me, I think it results in a “yes it does,” ‘no it doesn’t” endless sticking out of our tongues at one another.)

    If We’s is up for this post moving in that direction, he can speak up and I’ll back off. Otherswise, discuss something on topic here.

  43. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 9, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Reed, point taken.

  44. Reed Here said,

    March 9, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Thanks Jeff.

  45. Phil Derksen said,

    March 9, 2010 at 3:10 pm


    Let me briefly introduce myself -and then make a shameless plug…

    I am a lay member of Black Hills Community Church (PCA), in Rapid City, SD (yes, part of Presbytery of the Siouxlands). I am a personal friend of TE Wes White. I would like to consider myself a student of the Bible, orthodox Reformed theology, and church history.

    I have recently composed a series of articles which deals with many issues related to the rabbit trail ya’ll are apparently trying to avoid taking here, but which has direct relevance to the situation facing the PCA. The series title is, “Baptism in the Westminster Standards vs. the Federal Vision.” It will incorporate many primary sources which speak directly to how baptism was historically comprehended within the Reformed tradition in general, and by the creators of the Standards in particular. It will be posted soon (perhaps beginning as early as this coming Friday), God willing, on Wes’ website. I hope those who may be interested will check it out.


    Phil Derksen

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