Missouri Presbytery Exonerates Jeffrey Meyers

Wes White has some details here. Don’t forget to read the comments, which are very interesting indeed. A fuller explanation is here. Doug Wilson is encouraged by this, and further links Meyers to the FV by calling this turn of events “good news.”

A few thoughts on this. 1. Meyers has not denied that he is FV, whatever that means (I recognize, contra many counter assertions, that the FV is not monolithic, though presumably FV includes the Joint Federal Vision Statement at the very least). Is Doug Wilson calling the FV a movement by saying this is good news for the FV? 2. MO Presbytery has, so far, not denied that Meyers is FV. We will have to wait for further documentation to see whether they attempt to deny this or not. Doug Wilson certainly thinks that Meyers is FV. One is left with this question: how does their exoneration of Meyers square with the GA’s study committee report, especially since Meyers himself was adamantly opposed to the report?

39 Comments

  1. January 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Doesn’t the fact that Meyers was apposed to the report, and yet doesn’t deny that he’s FV, say something about the report? When the report is squared against flesh-and-blood men, nobody is “FV.” If not one FV man can read the report and say, “yup, that’s what I believe – that’s an accurate summary” why are you surprised that when a presbytery examines them they are found to be not guilty in terms of the report?

  2. David Gray said,

    January 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Presumably it doesn’t matter whether he is “FV” but rather where he stands in relation to the doctrinal assertions of the non-binding GA report.

  3. January 11, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    David,

    No, it matters where he has clearly stated that he stands on the system of doctrine taught in holy Scripture as summarized in the Westminster Standards.

  4. David Gray said,

    January 11, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    >>No, it matters where he has clearly stated that he stands on the system of doctrine taught in holy Scripture as summarized in the Westminster Standards.

    So much the better.

  5. Dean B said,

    January 12, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Daniel F

    That is one option, but others are more likely.

    When a man vows fidelity to his wife when they get married and then commits an affair something has changed, correct? I have no doubt a man can still love his wife, but I do not think it is possible if he never addresses the affair with her and just says I have always loved you honey.

    This appears to be the FV tactic to simply maintain he has always loved the confessions, but also an unwillingness to address the obvious infidelity. Instead he maintains that his vows to the system of doctrine allow for some elasticity with regard to affairs and he sees no problem with any of his.

  6. Cris D. said,

    January 12, 2011 at 9:38 am

    #5 Dean: Excellent analogy. To fine tune it, with respect to a faithful subscription to Westminster Standards, fidelity to ordination vows, and fidelity to Scripture, those who move to FV (or were FV all along, but initially very circumspect about it) are akin to a married man who not only cheated on his wife, but intends to do so again, as if there’s no problem with serial string of extra-marital affairs; or one who enters marriage fully intending to indulge in extra-marital affairs. That’s the equivalent of men who mentally cross their fingers or internally redefine confessional terms and concepts in order to get past a licensure or ordination exam.

  7. Dean B said,

    January 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Cris D

    Good point!

    One can not go into marriage thinking that infidelity does not destroy the system of marriage simply because men have had affairs and still remained married.

    The FV men appear to believe that the exceptions to the WCF somehow become become incorporated into the system of doctrine and as a result they are allowed to build off the past exceptions and their efforts will actually get them closer to what Scripture actually teaches.

  8. January 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Dean B,

    My question is this: are you married to Scripture (Sola Scriptura) or to certain, albeit good, doctrines of the Church (WCF)?

    The desire of the FV movement has not been to dismiss the WCF or other doctrinal formulations, but rather out of a desire to be truly faithful to the Scripture: to be married to Christ and the Scriptures. They seek semper reformanda. They believe that there are more faithful ways to represent the SAME truths of our creeds, without dismissing the creeds. Is there anyone here who would state that the WCF is perfect, not to be improved upon, and the ONLY foundation upon which the Reformed church is to be founded? If so, do you truly believe in Sola Scripura? Also, it would seem to follow that they would take no exceptions to the WCF.

    That doesn’t mean that FV men have made no mistakes along the way – I disagree with plenty (for example, I believe in the Active Imputation of Christ’s righteousness – some FV men (and some men in the Westminster Assembly) did/do not).

    That is why I think it is very important that when someone’s orthodoxy is questioned (even though church doctrines can be a good tool) that they be measured against Scripture (and its language) alone.

    Blessings,
    Daniel

  9. Matthias said,

    January 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Daniel- The elders in the PCA have all made vows that say:
    Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and
    the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of
    doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further
    promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with
    any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you
    will on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery
    the change which has taken place in your views since the
    assumption of this ordination vow?

    If in seeking to be “faithful to Scripture” a pastor comes to believe that what the WCF teaches needs to be improved upon, doesn’t he have the obligation to bring this to the attention of his presbytery?

  10. Dean B said,

    January 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Daniel F

    “My question is this: are you married to Scripture (Sola Scriptura) or to certain, albeit good, doctrines of the Church (WCF)?”

    I am married to Scripture. I believe Scripture is accurately summarized in the WCF.

    Do you think listening to a sermon somehow minimizes the truth of Scripture Alone since the Pastor does not read the Bible for 45 minutes? In the same way I do not think subscription to the WCF somehow minimizes the truth of Scripture Alone.

    I Peter 1:20 makes it clear that Scripture Alone does mean Solo Scriptura.

    “They believe that there are more faithful ways to represent the SAME truths of our creeds”

    Are you familiar with the law of non contradiction? How can WCF 17.2 “upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ” be the SAME truth as what Meyers expresses in the following: “To me, ascribing “merit” to Jesus work becomes even more problematic if you are talking about the Person of God the Son. What? Did God the Son merit/earn the favor of God the Father? That can’t be.”

  11. Ron Henzel said,

    January 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Back in August 2008, when Michael J. G. Pahls declared “that a 17th Century White European confession cannot possibly be employed to speak with unequivocal force to define a 21st Century, multi-ethnic, and globalized Christian body,” Jeff Meyers so resonated with those words that he decided to take them one step further. He wrote:

    When will modern Presbyterians admit that this 500-year-old document is no longer sufficient? Man, everybody in conservative Presbyterian circles talks as if Westminster was the high-point, and therefore the end-point of Reformation era creed-writing. But it often strikes me to be exactly the opposite—a sterile document that signaled the end of creative theological reflection in the Reformed churches. And what do we think? This 17th-century scholastic document will be enough for the next 100 years? 500 years? Silly. Just silly.

    It would be interesting, indeed, to hear Meyers explain how he is able to remain in conformity to a system of doctrine that he finds sterile, insufficient, and “exactly the opposite” of the high point (which would seem, on the face of his declaration, to make it the low point) of the Reformation era creeds.

  12. Jeff Meyers said,

    January 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Where I am required to confess the “sufficiency” of the Westminster Standards? My ordination vows? The Confession of Faith? The Catechisms? The Westminster Confession warns us against elevating human documents to the level of infallibility. WCF 31.3 says, “All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.”

    Why then is the WCF thought to be the infallible, unchangeable rule of faith for all time by some men? My point in this comment you quoted has to do with the undue veneration that has been paid to this 17th-century document. Decrying its misuse does not imply that I have no place for its proper use. To say that it is not “sufficient” to provide answers to all of our questions in the 21st century is not to suggest that it has no value “to help” (as 31.3 makes clear). But the Bible alone is sufficient. I know of no Reformed doctrine of the “sufficiency of Westminster” or the “sufficiency of Dort,” for that matter. I’ll stand by that. To say that it is rather “sterile” for modern times is to critique its scholastic FORM not the truth of the Scriptures that are embodied in its 17th-century language and thought forms.

    To continue to use a 500-year-old document as the final arbiter of all “controversies of religion” goes against the core principles of the WCF itself. The divines themselves did not determine what was true and biblical by some strict subscription to some earlier creedal document. They went to the Scriptures. And in their opening chapter on the Holy Scripture they warned us about the temptation to do otherwise. Twice we are told that “in all controversies of religion” the church is always to finally appeal to the Scriptures (1:8; 1:9).

    Finally, it is rather provincial, un-historical, and, yes, silly to think that the Westminster Standards will “be enough” to guide the church in the next 100-500 years. I’ll stand by that. No human creed or confession or catechism is sufficient for its own time, let alone for ages to come. Why is this document the last confessional document needed till the end of time? I see this as just another way of confessing the absolute sufficiency of Holy Scripture and warning against idolizing human confessional documents. What’s so un-Reformed about that?

  13. BobS said,

    January 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    12. Mr. Meyers
    OK so you got a beef against the WS.
    Where do you see need for further amendation?
    What exactly is the process for the same?
    Have you followed that process?

    Ummm….end of story imo, but I am of course, willing to listen to a cogent and compelling argument to the contrary.

    Would that be something like: The PCA did not condemn FV so signing of the FV Joint Statement of Faith is immaterial to this whole discussion?

    Never mind. I haven’t had my medication today.

  14. Ron said,

    January 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    “Why then is the WCF thought to be the infallible, unchangeable rule of faith for all time by some men?”

    Jeff,

    Who are these men who consider the WCF infallible? Name one, Jeff. By suggesting that these men actually exist, you can now launch your attack against those we all would oppose – if only they actually existed. Now that we all are attacking this phantom opponent together, it only stands to “reason” that we must all be in agreement with your views since you’re the apparent victim of the phantom opponent who would elevate confessional standards above Scripture. I’m choking on the smoke screen, Jeff.

    “My point in this comment you quoted has to do with the undue veneration that has been paid to this 17th-century document.”

    The age of the document has nothing to do with it Jeff, lest Scripture must lose its practical usefulness over time.

    “To continue to use a 500-year-old document as the final arbiter of all “controversies of religion” goes against the core principles of the WCF itself.”

    What is useful is to use a 500-year-old document to determine whether men like yourself are in agreement with the Reformed tradition of the church.

  15. Ron said,

    January 12, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Closer to 350 years, but whose counting?!

  16. BobS said,

    January 13, 2011 at 12:19 am

    James Jordan?

  17. Ron said,

    January 13, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Since the Westminster standards are believed to represent the system of doctrine found in Scripture, I can only think that anyone who has a contemptuous attitude toward the standards must also regard the Scriptural doctrines contained therein with the same contempt. Now, of course, it is possible that the system of doctrine therein is embraced yet disdained because the dusty old document is fading in relevance, but one would think if such were the case then along side that disdain we’d see a clearer picture of how being “Reformed is not enough.” As I’ve often said, what has the FV movement brought the church that was not already in the Reformed standards?

  18. David Gray said,

    January 13, 2011 at 7:55 am

    >>Where do you see need for further amendation?
    What exactly is the process for the same?
    Have you followed that process?

    Could someone follow that process without driving a number of these folk to rage?

  19. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Ron, I have to take partial issue here. I don’t know Jeff Meyers heart in this matter, but I agree with his basic principle.

    A perusal of the PCA’s “Nine Declarations” document reveals a methodology that is extremely Confession-heavy. Jeff M rightly points out that the Confession requires itself to be used as a help to faith and not as a rule.

    I agree with all nine points in the Nine Declarations document, and also with the action taken against Steve Wilkins.

    And yet, I have to say that the Nine Declarations document was deeply disappointing. Its argument is Confession, Confession, Confession, with Scripture as a footnote here or there.

    This exemplifies very clearly a method that blurs the line (at best) between “help” and “rule.” It shows every mark of using the Confession as a rule.

    As a result (IMO), the document was adopted — but Federal Visionaries have so far been 3 and 0 in Presbytery courts. Why? Perhaps, the 9 Declarations document was simply too weak.

    Imagine a different document, one that argued from the Scripture with the occasional footnoted reference to the Confession. Imagine that this document directly engaged the Leithart arguments re: covenantal election. Or the Wilkins argument against judgment of charity. A document that used Scripture to put to rest the teaching that children come into the covenant through baptism.

    *That* document would have been harder to construct, but it would have been more authoritative, would have addressed the Federal Vision on its own terms, and would have given Presbyteries something substantial to work with.

  20. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 13, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Jeff M:

    That said, may I ask: Is your discontent with the WCoF because it does not say *enough*, or because it says *wrong* or *misleading* things?

    That is, is your aim to further narrow the Confession, or to actually refute some of its teachings?

  21. Reed Here said,

    January 13, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Jeff: I think you’re on to a valid criticism of the PCA’s Nine-Declarations. I too wish it were (and we PCA’ers were) more oriented toward first degree arguing (straight from Scripture) than second degree arguing (to Scripture through the Westminster Standards). This is not to say second degree arguing is invalid. Rather it is to say that it secures its validity only in the presence of first degree arguing.

    But this is a debate over methodology, not conviction. I do not think this support’s our brother Meyer’s objections to what Ron Henzel said. I’m inclined to think either Ron H.’s wording was not as clear as to what he meant, and/or Jeff M. reacted to words that had a cliche-ing ring in his ears.

    Your questions to Jeff M. in no. 20 would help us narrow and understand his objection better. A similar question might be asked of Ron H:

    Please consider Jeff .’s response to your use of “sufficiency” and clarify for us what you meant. Is Jeff reading you correctly? If so, defense or agreement with his criticism? If Jeff is not reading you correctly, clarification of what you meant?

  22. PDuggie said,

    January 13, 2011 at 11:48 am

    ‘As I’ve often said, what has the FV movement brought the church that was not already in the Reformed standards?”

    Exactly.

    he he.

  23. Ron Henzel said,

    January 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Jeff Meyers:

    Regarding your comment 12: you are committing a very subtle and disingenuous equivocation. If all you had said was that the Westminster Standards do not possess the same sufficiency that the Scriptures possess, there would be no controversy. But instead you tendered the loaded question: “When will modern Presbyterians admit that this 500-year-old document is no longer sufficient?” This is a very different question, one which presumes that whatever sufficiency the WS may have once possessed they no longer do. And one is forced to assume that you must be referring to a sufficiency distinct from that which belongs to Scripture, since one must also assume that you, as a PCA minister, would never affirm that it once had the same sufficiency as Scripture but has since lost it—hence the aforementioned equivocation in your response to my comment. You first referred to one kind of sufficiency, but now defend yourself by hiding behind another kind.

    But let’s just wave away this little smokescreen of yours, because you also called the WS “sterile” and clearly implied that they were the nadir of Reformation creed-writing. As others have pointed out, your comments from 2008 reek of contempt, not only for the WS, but also for those who think that they have a tremendous abiding value for the church today.

  24. David Gray said,

    January 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    >This is a very different question, one which presumes that whatever sufficiency the WS may have once possessed they no longer do.

    That is a mischaracterization. It would be more accurate to same that it presumes that the WS does not have the degree of sufficiency that it once enjoyed.

    As for myself I just wish more people took all the WCF more seriously and didn’t read it through modern evangelical glasses.

  25. stuart said,

    January 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Jeff Meyers,

    I still consider myself fairly new to a lot of this discussion, so I’ll admit I may not see things as clearly as I need to as regarding your comments on the WCF.

    That said, I hope you understand your comments from 2008 seem over the top if all you meant to say was that the WCF “is not “sufficient” to provide answers to all of our questions in the 21st century.”

    If you think Reformed and Presbyterian churches need to write a new confession that addresses some of those questions, you might be surprised at how many would agree with you on that point. Even confirmed confessionalist R. Scott Clark thinks a new confession would be a good thing.

    Yet saying “I don’t think the WCF sufficiently deals with some of the theological questions we’re facing today.” has a different feel than calling the WCF “a sterile document that signaled the end of creative theological reflection in the Reformed churches.” Thus the strong rhetoric sent your way by “confessionalists.”

    Also, we need to be careful about how we characterize those with whom we seem to disagree. I know of no “confessionalist” who literally considers the WCF “infallible” or even “sufficient” for all our questions. There are times when I’ll admit that it seems like that functionally, and there are times when men in zeal for the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition resort to rhetoric that pushes the boundaries of the help/rule divide. But to resort to our own boundary pushing rhetoric or to dismiss our confessional standards functionally if not actually is not helpful in bringing our attention back to the Scriptures.

  26. Ron said,

    January 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Jeff Cagle re:19,

    When I went back and read my posts after reading yours, it seemed to me that you were looking for an occasion to get some things off your chest. Mind you, I don’t mind you getting things off your chest but when those things have nothing to do with me I think I would prefer not to be mentioned.

    As for what I wrote: I pointed out that the age of a document does not in and of itself incriminate the document. I pointed out that nobody thinks the confessions are infallible, but that some take the confessions to be infallible is a premise that JM has chosen to launch a diatribe regarding outdated doctrinal standards. I pointed out that confessions are very useful in 2011, for at the very least they are a standard by which we can ascertain whether ordained servants affirm the historic Reformed tradition of the mid-1600s. I pointed that if one does not produce evidence that a Reformed confession is lacking, then in my mind the disdain for the confession translates to a disdain of the biblical doctrines contained therein.

    That the “nine declarations” are in your estimation “Confession-heavy” is not germane to my points. In fact, one could actually think the nine declarations are “Confession-heavy” yet with utter consistency “amen” all I wrote.

    Blessings,

    Ron

  27. Sean Lucas said,

    January 13, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Part of the problem, of course, for the writers of the 2007 GA Ad Interim report was this: a) the Bible is not part of our constitution (that’s one of those trick questions we ask new ordinands); b) you need some standard to determine what is faithful to Scripture and what is not; c) we have that in the Westminster Standards; d) further our BCO makes the Standards the arbiter of what the Scriptures teach when it comes to determine whether someone is faithful to those Scriptures.

    So, while it certainly would have been nice to have a 200-page document that engaged Leithart, et al, it wouldn’t have provided anything more to presbyteries than what the “9 Declarations” already have given. Further, the committee was attempting to offer something that RE’s and other lay leader would actually read and consider. And finally, we sought to give a simple statement of declarations that would at least highlight some of the key soteriological issues that we thought were most dangerous.

  28. Reed Here said,

    January 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Sean: appreciate these polity “pragmatic” reminders. Truth be told, even if the ( Declarations listed Scripture references after each point, the likelihood is that some might charge it with being mere proof-texting.

  29. David Gray said,

    January 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Interesting that a majority of the signatories of the original accusing letter did not know it would be made public and were unhappy that it was made public. That stands as something of a rebuke.

  30. David Gray said,

    January 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Correction: at least seven signatories were unhappy.

  31. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Ron (#26): You’re perceptive — I have been thinking about this for some time. Sorry that I hijacked your point or implicated you in some way.

  32. Ron said,

    January 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Jeff, that’s what I thought but a lot of good came out of it so I’m grateful. I plan to visit the “nine declarations” again and your remarks were a good reminder to us all that Scripture alone is our final authority.

    Warmly yours,

    Ron

  33. BobS said,

    January 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    19 Jeff.
    Intramural disagreement or distinction here.
    As I heard it, when you are talking to enthusiastic biblical evangelicals you reply to objections or questions with explicit Scripture. (Of course, as per Mr. Here, you will then run the risk of being accused of “prooftexting”.) For the reformed, it should be sufficient to reply with the confession, because confessions are understood to be a summary and compilation of the G&N consequences of Scripture, much more a particular interpretation of Scripture as over and against another.

    That’s because everyone inescapably “confesses” something about the Bible, whether it’s the Roman church, the Mormon, the 7th Day, the JW etc. Even the guy down at the corner bar believes something about the Bible – as in it’s a bunch of bunk. (Of course you can go directly to jail without passing Go or the above argument by asserting that the PCA is evangelical and not reformed.)

    Yes, confessions can be and are abused, but what we see with Mr. Meyer’s remarks is a slur and a generalization, a false dichotomy and a red herring (just as we have been seeing recently with the Roman arguments here). Likewise the typical misinterpretation of semper reformandum: “Reformation is the constant churning/overturning of longstanding and fundamental beliefs in order to make way for the new and novel.” Rather, we are constantly reforming by 1. bringing our practice up to what we believe and 2. building upon – not tearing down – what the church has learned and confessed before us. Progress in doctrine is like climbing a mountain.

    True, at the Reformation, the church retraced its steps back to the base camp on justification, but it hardly did so regarding the Trinity or the deity of Christ and normally progress is accumulative, not a cycle of destruction and rebuilding from the ground up.

    Again it is an either/or proposition with Mr. Meyers. We either idolize the WS or we junk them. Likewise we either swear fealty to Rome’s magisterium or we’re stuck with Oprah’s charismatic religious book recommendations. Hay, jus mie illtirate theolgoical opinion, butt I doan tinkso.

    While Mr. Taylor Marshall has been so kind to tell us How the Federal Vision Made Me Catholic we only hope that the reason why no first year seminarian from Covenant asked for a free copy of a his new book, The Catholic Perspective on Paul is not because Mr. Meyers already donated free copies to the incoming class. But then Taylor should have plenty of free copies for nonseminarians. (Taylor’s book is to Dunn’s New Perspective on Paul as Wilson’s Reformed is Not Enough is to ex prot roman convert Howards’ Evangelical is Not Enough. But Wright is wrong and Wilson is Not Reformed At All.)

    As for Mr. Meyers, if he should ever drop in again, he ought to bring Doug with him, who we trust, will get an even warmer welcome than last time.

    Hey wait a minute.
    Where did Mr. Meyers go anyway?
    Isn’t he one of those that was really grafted in to the PCA, but then really fell away that the FV talk about all the time?
    Nah, he would deny it.
    But isn’t that a mark of a hypocrite to deny it?
    That’s enough of your suspicion and censoriousness.
    For your penance, go to your room and copy out the PCA Good Faith vow of subscription and the FV Joint Statement 100 times. Then burn the Confession and Catechisms after memorizing the Larger on the Ninth, which is still useful for smearing anybody that wants to talk about this in public

  34. Phil Derksen said,

    January 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Re #33

    Amen.

  35. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    BobS (#33):

    For the sake of not distracting from Ron’s point, I’ll leave this discussion for another day. But I do have some particular thoughts on it.

  36. BobS said,

    January 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    35 Jeff
    Cool. I find distraction is getting to be a problem around here for myself, never mind that it is one of the chief tactics of both Rome and the FV.

  37. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Re #17: that doesn’t follow. One can object to the form in which a doctrine is conveyed without rejecting the doctrine itself. The doctrine of regeneration is true, even if 80% of the modern Evangelical “ask Jesus into your heart” forms of it are enormously problematic. But just because I object to saying “I asked Jesus into my heart” doesn’t mean I object to the new birth.

    As for the confessional sufficiency issue:
    1. I attended a major Reformed seminary–in fact the very one that is leading the movement against the FV. There were at least two important faculty members–one of whom is perhaps the leading voice against the FV–who openly discussed the need for a new confession, recognizing much the same kind of thing that Jeff Meyers has: that issues have arisen in the past several centuries that demand a confessional response and reflection not contained in the 16th and 17th century classics. So, arguing for the insufficiency of WCF in the 21st century does not entail contempt for the confession, unless those defenders of the confession I studied with are actually being duplicitous.
    2. Darryl Hart might be an example of someone who holds, at least materially, to the infallibility of the Confessions. He has argued for an entirely novel view of the WCF: that it is a corporate sermon, and thus is the witness of the church that by necessity always has more weight than any private opinion. This means that the WCF cannot in practice be amended, since any proposed amendment would not have authority comparable in weight to the WCF itself. Indeed, this view is formally similar to the Roman view of the magisterium: that it always outweighs the private opinions of one or several men. That’s pretty darned close to confessional infallibility in practice.

  38. January 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Joshua,

    Appreciate your thoughts. I think that Dr. R.C. Sproul, Sr., says it best for me:

    Though human confessions and creeds are penned by fallible people without benefit of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I stand in awe at the profound level of theological and biblical precision manifest in the Westminster Confession of Faith. I would argue that the Westminster Standards are the most precise and accurate summaries of the content of biblical Christianity ever set forth in a creedal form….in my judgment, no historic confession surpasses in eloquence, grandeur, and theological accuracy the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    On what theological issues does Westminster fall short? What demands a confessional response today? Shall we become like the liberal “Presbyterians” and write and/or adopt a new confession for every political circumstance? Ever read the Confession of 1967? It’s a political and syncretic document worthy of the U.S. in the 60’s – kumbaya. Is that where we’re headed in the PCA?

    To FVers and any others that think that they can do better, I offer my standard invitation to try. The BCO contains a process for that. The Confession has seen minor changes in the past. Think that the Standards fall short in some areas? Then put forth your improvements. Think that Chapter 7 should be pitched and rewritten? Let’s see the alternative presented through their presbytery to the GA. For all the empty words, no one seems to have the courage to stand up, use the existing processes, and propose the changes they seem so fond of blogging about. That says more than all the bluster typed on FV blogs, eh?

  39. Ron said,

    January 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Re #17: that doesn’t follow. One can object to the form in which a doctrine is conveyed without rejecting the doctrine itself. The doctrine of regeneration is true, even if 80% of the modern Evangelical “ask Jesus into your heart” forms of it are enormously problematic. But just because I object to saying “I asked Jesus into my heart” doesn’t mean I object to the new birth.

    Joshua,

    (Above I placed two words of yours in bold print.)

    I agree with the point you are trying to make but I don’t think it applies to my post when all my post is considered.

    What you addressed is this portion of my post: “Since the Westminster standards are believed to represent the system of doctrine found in Scripture, I can only think that anyone who has a contemptuous attitude toward the standards must also regard the Scriptural doctrines contained therein with the same contempt.”

    Regarding your post, let me say in passing that asking Jesus into your heart is not an attempt to represent the doctrine of regeneration. Accordingly, regeneration as a doctrine is not reflected in the proposition, nor is it supposed to be. The Reformed standards certainly don’t miss the mark like that, but I get the point. However, if I work with the principle you’re trying to convey I still stand by my post, but my post included a qualifier. I was careful to add in that post, “it is possible that the system of doctrine therein is embraced yet disdained because the dusty old document is fading in relevance, but one would think if such were the case then along side that disdain we’d see a clearer picture of how being ‘Reformed is not enough.'” Let me import your point into that premise. Maybe JM doesn’t like the way certain doctrines that are precious to him are “conveyed” in the Confession. Maybe they’re not conveyed in a relevant way to 21st century ears. Maybe the “form” or expression of the doctrine is outdated. Well, if so, then I’m all ears. Again, what has FV brought to the church (other than confusion and division of course)?

    Again, Joshua, I appreciate that one can respect the doctrine but not they way it’s conveyed, but is that really what’s going on here?


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