Stellman, Leithart, and Wilson

Stellman has opined on the relationship of his struggles with the Leithart case. There have been many who have attacked Stellman for being a less-than-enthusiastic prosecutor of Leithart. Others think that he has been entirely hypocritical. I don’t see any reason to think this at all. For one thing, it is entirely possible (I would argue probable) that he was merely struggling with the issues during the Leithart case. He wasn’t sure what his position was. If that were the case, it would hardly be worthwhile chucking everything out the window. And it is quite conceivable that he could simultaneously be struggling with Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide while believing that someone else who denied Sola Fide should not be in the PCA. Given that he came to that conclusion about himself (that he should not be in the PCA), it seems actually more than consistent. So, I don’t see why people seem to be saying that the Federal Vision has been vindicated. If anything, it has become less stable in its claim to be in line with the standards.

Take Leithart’s post as an example. He believes that confessionalists have elevated their paper pope of the confession to a similar level as the Pope. Leithart would classify himself as more of a biblicist. But (leaving aside the erroneous rhetoric about the paper pope) doesn’t this prove the point: Leithart is NOT operating from a confessional paradigm? He admits that he is not!

Doug Wilson’s post is a bit harder to parse. The problem I have with it is this: I don’t think Jason limited himself to ultra-confessionalists as his dialogue partners. He has loads of commenters on his blog who disagree with parts and/or with the majority of his theology. I think he was fairly well aware of the “broadness” of the Reformed faith. Of course, he was a confessionalist himself, no question. However, the fact that he listened to Romanists for quite a while seems to indicate to me that he is not, and was not naive. I am not defending his decision. That should be clear enough from the last post I wrote on the subject. I just don’t think exposure to the supposed “broadness” of the Reformed tradition would have helped Jason much, primarily because I think he already had that exposure.

I have emailed Jason concerning the actual reasons why he has taken this route, and what triggered it. I have not yet received a response (hardly surprising, given the absolute avalanche I am sure that his inbox is currently experiencing). I assume that explanations will be forthcoming. In the meantime, I encourage people not to speculate.


  1. Bryan Cross said,

    June 5, 2012 at 8:21 pm


    Your two posts on this have been the best of all those I’ve seen. Thanks so much for urging kindness, graciousness, patience, and avoiding speculation.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  2. June 5, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Wise advise, Lane. I continue to pray for Jason and his family. Having read the transcripts from Leithart’s trial again in preparation for the Meyers trial, I didn’t see any weakness in Jason’s approach and argument. I think that he did a great job in the face of a hostile presbytery where the outcome was predetermined in my opinion.

    As I’ve said several times, Jason has displayed far more integrity than Federal Visionists, egalitarians, and evolutionists who should follow Jason’s example in leaving the PCA. Jason agrees according to his second post on the subject.

    I pray as well for you, Lane. You’ve worked closely with Jason in the PNWP trial, and this has to be weighing heavily on you.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    June 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks, Bob. I don’t think I even knew how much I loved Jason until yesterday when I wrote the post I did. I wept for a solid hour.

  4. rfwhite said,

    June 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Lane: is it your understanding of BCO 23-1 that presbytery may or may not accept his resignation? Also, is it your understanding that presbytery is obliged to institute process given that the resignation came on the basis of the fact that he found himself out of accord with the fundamentals of the Standards’s system of doctrine?

  5. greenbaggins said,

    June 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    There’s no question about the fact that only a Presbytery can dissolve the pastoral relationship between a pastor and congregation. They definitely have the power to refuse to accept his resignation. Most Presbyteries have a by-law that allows one of the standing committees of the Presbytery to act as a commission to dissolve the pastoral relationship. In most cases where the resignation is acceptable to both parties, the Presbytery will do little investigation into the matter, which is what I expect to happen in this case.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    June 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    They will still need to institute discipline, though. The case would fall under the jurisdiction of BCO 38-3b.

  7. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 5, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    GreenBaggins: “They will still need to institute discipline, though. The case would fall under the jurisdiction of BCO 38-3b.”

    Suppose his presbytery, for whatever reason, does NOT initiate disciplinary proceedings against Jason Stellman, even given the presumed clarity of BCO. A “should” that becomes a “did not.”

    Then what?

    Does someone from another Presbytery initiate actions and proceedings against Jason Stellman’s presbytery for not continuing “to hold out to Mr. Stellman the means God has provided for restoration of those who are weak in the faith”?

    Is there historical precedent in the PCA for disciplining ministers who reject Sola Fide and then joined the RCC?

    Is there historical precedent in the PCA of presbyteries who failed to discipline ministers for rejecting Sola Fide and who then joined the RCC?

  8. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Also, there have been a number of comments by commenters saying that they are praying for Jason Stellman’s congregation.

    Would initiating disciplinary proceedings against Jason Stellman increase the distress and hurt that his congregation is said to be feeling and experiencing?

    Suppose the Presbytery takes that into account, and in balancing the issues of the Exile congregation vis-a-vis the issues of Jason Stellman’s discipline, they decide to NOT initiate disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Stellman.

    Then what?

  9. June 5, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Hey Lane,

    Thanks for the posture you’ve taken, it’s more gracious than I deserve.

    You wrote:

    And it is quite conceivable that he could simultaneously be struggling with Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide while believing that someone else who denied Sola Fide should not be in the PCA. Given that he came to that conclusion about himself (that he should not be in the PCA), it seems actually more than consistent.

    During the judicial process, I would occasionally think something like this to myself: “Peter does make a strong case for the efficacy of baptism for regeneration from the NT. If I believed about baptism what he does, I would step down immediately.”

    So I think you’re right. It is not inconsistent to recognize the relative strength of an opponent’s position, while also thinking that that position, if true, would place one outside the confessional pale.

    And I am pretty sure that Leithart, if he truly thought his views outside the bounds, would step down as well. The only difference is that he does not think this about himself.

  10. daveglasebrook said,

    June 6, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Reformed Musings @ 2 shows a warped view of integrity. Jason’s actions, especially as detailed in his two recent letters and @ 9, display confused and less than sterling integrity. To state otherwise is incorrect and leans toward a worldly view of integrity not a Biblical view.

  11. David Gadbois said,

    June 6, 2012 at 1:37 am

    1. Lane, I do hope that JS is still earnestly listening to reformational Christians, through whatever contacts, acquaintances, or back channels exist, in an attempt to sort things out if he has not firmly resolved his theological orientation in his own mind. He should know that many care about him and are saddened, and would be willing to vigorously give reason for the hope that lies within them in an effort to turn him from this destructive path. But the fact that he would publish his resignation letter to his presbytery on his own, very public blog would seem to be a rather definitive self-identification. He has at least renounced his “citizenship”, even if he has not yet chosen which of the enemy uniforms he will soon be putting on.

    2. He must be awfully convinced of this path if he is willing to undercut the financial well-being of himself and his family by this move. It is a fairly sure indicator of his resolve. This is not like so many of the hot-headed schoolboys who have moved to Rome and started blogs after being lay members in Reformed congregations. He can’t just change his mind again and go back to collecting a paycheck as a PCA minister (there are usually long, drawn-out processes involved in restoring a minister, and often times it is simply impossible given the breach in trust and duty). And to my knowledge Rome rarely accepts Protestant ministers into their own clerical ranks (my historical knowledge is limited, I can only think of a handful of Anglican “priests” who have been allowed to do this after swimming the Tiber).

    3. I thought JS did a fine job as Leithart’s prosecutor. Leithart’s acquittal was a moral failing of the presbyters who voted to acquit, not the result of a lack of logical clarity or vigor inherent in the prosecutor’s case as presented. We ought to thank him for his service, and cut out the second-guessing.

    4. I fully agree that we shouldn’t play the game of “X doctrinal distinctive that Jason held to must have intellectually led him to reject the Reformed faith.” It is true that this dynamic can and often does come into play when a man descends into a given heresy, but in this instance I have only seen the flimsiest of connections made. They are simply attempts to use speculation as the foundation for implicating 2K or whatever doctrines certain observers don’t like. It simply might be that Jason was convinced by the relevant exegesis or logic. Of course, we would still say that this is the result from sinful self-deception in the moral domain, but it need not have resulted intellectually from prior doctrinal commitments or distinctives.

    5. While sharing many of his 2K commitments, I have objected in the past to some of the particularities of JS’s 2K theology. It seems to imply that there is no such thing as a Christian worldview. And while I am sure that he was convinced of the doctrine, this radical form of 2K did also serve to insulate his political/cultural leftist sympathies. I believe that is bad, but only tortured logic can lead one to believe that the likely logical destination of this is a rejection of sola scriptura or sola fide. And, incidentally, if he stills holds to 2K theology, he will certainly find Rome an uncomfortable fit as Rome ranges from (at minimum) politically activist to burn-em-at-the-stake theocracy. Perhaps his private judgement on this matter will have to be corrected.

    6. I am quite sure that Jason knows that the necessary implication of Reformed theology is that departure from churches of the reformation (i.e. where the Gospel is preached, sacraments administered, and church discipline conducted) is apostacy, and that it should be recognized as such by us- Doug Sowers and Peter Leithart’s opinions to the contrary notwithstanding. He is well-educated and as such is fully aware of the stakes; and I doubt he has any desire for anyone around here to sugar-coat it for him. It simply will not do to run off and say “well, God can save people in the Roman church in spite of its theology”. Well, yes, God can save people who jump out of airplanes without parachutes, too (indeed, it has happened). But barring a divine miracle, they are as good as dead. Jason is heading for the airplane hatch and isn’t packing a chute. Indeed, his situation is compounded by the aggravating circumstance of having a uniquely clear, full, and complete knowledge of the truth of the Gospel. Not only by means of his education at WSC, but his prosecution of Leithart demonstrated his crystal clear, thorough grasp of these issues. God can indeed save Romanists in spite of Rome’s theology, but this does not mean He will save those who self-consciously *share* Rome’s theology and explicitly reject sola fide.

    7. Yes, it is true that JS has demonstrated far more honor in leaving the PCA of his own volition than the heretical FV teachers who remain. The latter have rightly earned our contempt on this account.

    8. I hope, if he does eventually solidify an allegiance with Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy, that he will continue to hold at least a relative level of honor and not join the very disreputable ranks of the godless, self-appointed internet apologists for the RCC or EOC.

  12. Martin said,

    June 6, 2012 at 3:01 am

    I am confident presbytery will take the necessary disciplinary actions. Nobody enjoys it but the process is pretty clear in the BCO. In all likelihood no trial will be held since there is no dispute as to the facts in question. So it will probably be a case without trial, moving straight to the discipline to be taken, in all probability he will be deposed from ministry. It will be a sad day, very somber, and as I said no one will enjoy it.

    I am in virtual complete agreement with Lane’s posts on this whole situation. There has been too much speculation, much of it gleeful in tone, which is unbecoming.

    While the Stellman family, the Exile congregation, its Session, and the presbytery grieve (and many others), internet fools with an axe to grind pile on.

  13. June 6, 2012 at 8:44 am

    I don’t know Jason, and I don’t know the trajectory which caused him to come to his faulty conclusions. All I know is that those of us on examining committees need to do our best to discern someone’s heartfelt love and personal need for the solas of the Reformation, which encapsulate the Gospel. If one truly loves the Gospel of Grace, one will never leave it. I also know that our BCO does not permit him to leave unwarned, if indeed he unites to a church body which does not hold to the Word and Sacraments in their fundamental integrity. He has erred grievously, and a true graciousness will tell him such.

  14. justsinner99 said,

    June 6, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Well said, Martin.

  15. Richard said,

    June 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

    It strikes me as someone who follows some of the debates in the American Reformed scene and visits Called to Communion on a regular basis that there is a danger that circular thinking becomes to easily accepted and the choice seems to be an either/or and both of these are perpetuated by those at either ends of the spectrum; take the canon debate – we are told that either we recognise a strict sixty-six book canon as taught by the Reformed Standards or we must accept the broader canon of Catholicism. The problem is that the choice is a false one because there are problems with both positions; whilst the critique of the Reformed position holds water, it does not follow that the Catholic position is the true one. But if we take a step back, the underlying concern is certainty, living with doubts is anathema. Yet I would suggest that the solution is precisely that, the days of certainty have passed and we need to navigate the murky waters of doubt, we don’t have to choose between Reformed theology and Catholicism rather we can live in a broader place. From my own perspective, a really helpful book is Escaping from Fundamentalism by James Barr. It wont be everyone’s cup of tea, but it contains wise words for a confused generation.

  16. Tim Bushong said,

    June 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Chris H.- you wrote:

    “If one truly loves the Gospel of Grace, one will never leave it.”

    Amen. I can’t even imagine going from union with Christ by faith alone (and having true peace with God) to the incredible morass of indefensible beliefs and practices of Rome.

  17. June 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm


    Thanks. It’s good to remember the foundational unity we have together as classical Protestants — i.e. the Gospel — even as we differ amongst ourselves on decidedly secondary matters.

  18. jedpaschall said,

    June 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm


    I really enjoy Barr’s writings, especially on semantics and on biblical theology, but to me he has taken the easy road when it comes to canon. We Protestants believe that the Canon is an internally attesting document, that the church, when obedient merely recognizes, as opposed to creates. It is not beyond the power of God, using his Spirit to confirm and preserve his message to his people.

  19. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 6, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    GreenBaggins, #6: “They will still need to institute discipline, though. The case would fall under the jurisdiction of BCO 38-3b.”

    Martin, #12: “I am confident presbytery will take the necessary disciplinary actions.”

    A commenter Mike wrote the following today on Jason Stellman’s blog:

    “I’ve been debating whether I should detail the final church meeting we had. I don’t want to embarrass anyone, and frankly, even if I did, I’m not certain it would add any value to the discussion (to borrow a phrase: “haters gonna hate”).

    Suffice it to say, Jason spoke to us, and members from the NW Presbytery were present. At the end of the meeting, the Presbytery answered the question of whether Jason had acquitted himself well through this definitively and succinctly: he had. They had nothing but praise and admiration for our church, our session, and Jason.”

    Do you think this final church meeting changes anything?

  20. June 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    To what end would discipline proceedings against Jason be made? The purpose of discipline is to recover people. I’m convinced that Jason read/talked/sought counsel/etc. sufficient to recover his faith if that were possible at this time. While I certainly disagree with Jason’s final conclusion, I respect that he studied the issues, sought counsel, and then took the actions that integrity required.

    Besides, for PNWP to initiate process on Jason would be the height of hypocrisy considering the serious theological errors that they freely tolerate in their midst.

  21. Martin said,

    June 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm


    No, the member’s info concerning the meeting changes nothing, rather affirms it. There’s no need for a trial. The offending party has admitted the offense (not being able to fulfill his vows), and done so willingly and has cooperated with both his session and presbytery. To have a trial would be superfluous, piling on. There’s nothing to try, no issue under dispute, since all parties seem to agree as to what the issues and remedies are.

    It would be typical, I think, to have a commission of presbytery approve the dissolution of the pastoral relationship (this helps between full meetings for timing and other reasons), and then at the next full presbytery meeting determine the proper action, as noted above.

    I just don’t see anything to be gained by holding a trial.

  22. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 6, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Richard (#15): whilst the critique of the Reformed position holds water, it does not follow that the Catholic position is the true one.

    That bore repeating.

  23. David Gilleran said,

    June 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    1. Presbytery does not have to accept JS resignation if they deem his reasons insufficient. BCO 23-1
    2. If JS does join the Roman communion then BCO 38-3b applies
    3. If the family of JS join the Roman communion then BCO 38-3b applies.

  24. Frank Aderholdt said,

    June 7, 2012 at 3:45 am

    During the past few days, there have been thousands of characters typed in blogs based on very little information. At times I’ve wondered if my immediate family knows me as well as some people claim to know the details of Jason Stellman’s inner life.

    JS’s change in views may be a serious, studied, sincere reversal of what he previously confessed. We may be convinced he is wrong – just as we are saddened by the conversion of G. K. Chesterton (a Stellman favorite, and one of mine as well) from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism – but he may be acting entirely from principle as he understands it. And, to put the best possible construction on the matter, Stellman did write that all that Christians possess is due ultimately to the grace of God. That leads me to believe that the Gospel flame still flickers, however feebly.

    On the other hand, over several decades I have seen a number of unstable personalities flit from flower to flower theologically, sucking out the nectar and moving on, never able to rest. From fundamentalism to charismatic excess to Reformed confessionalism (historic or “ultra,” whatever that means), to theonomy or its flipside in radical 2K, to something or other emergent, to low-mid-or high-church Episcopalianism, to Rome or Orthodoxy.There is a certain type of personality that seems unable to sink down roots anywhere. This is a basic character flaw and is often indicative of serious problems other than differences in doctrine. (I shall not elaborate.)

    If time is the great healer, it is also the great revealer. Five years from now, we will know much more about Jason Stellman, as we will about ourselves and each other. He that endures to the end will be saved. In the meantime, I second the wise counsel of others that we pray for JS, his church, his Presbytery, the witness of the PCA, and most importantly for the glory of God in the Gospel.

    Remember I Corinthians 10:12.

  25. Eileen said,

    June 7, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I agree entirely with Frank’s assessment, and I would add a couple of other reasons people migrate from tradition to tradition: a desire for certainty or objectivity, a quest for transcendence, and/or a desire to connect with the historical church (either Rome or Constantinople.) I believe that the fundamental reason for the instability lies in the implicit rejection of the unmediated authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

    James Jordan is a stellar example of instability in doctrine over time, and I could mention others. Like Frank, I will not elaborate.

    Frank’s warning from 1 Corinthians 10:12 is a word for all of us. The enemy is indifferent to strategies and indifferent to targets since he desires to destroy all that is Christ’s.

  26. Richard said,

    June 7, 2012 at 8:38 am

    @Jed: Whilst I don’t wish to get sucked into the canon debate, it does offer a helpful example of how we can fall into the trap of painting a false dichotomy between Rome and Geneva. We are forced to ask when has the Church ever formally recognised the canon? The Catholic Church herself recognises that until Trent there were differing practices within the universal Church and as a matter of historical inquiry we know that such diversity existed and was never formally resolved until perhaps the Reformation/Counter-Reformation period. So for 1500 year the universal Church managed without a formal statement of the Canon and it is unsurprising that when various bodies decided that they wanted to their formal declarations reflected geographic practice and was, in part, a means of groups forming distinctive identity. The wider canon is historically valid, the narrower Protestant one is the odd one out and quite honestly some of the arguments used by the Reformers for why they wished to exclude some books are dubious at best, not least to the fact that they were engaged in polemical debate with their opponents which, lets face it, is never the time when a consensus gets reached, rather positions are stated and defended and the battle lines are quickly drawn. So I do think that now, a good three to four hundred years later we should be able to look at what was going on and see the bigger picture as opposed to simply repeating old battle cries ad infinitum. So I do think that the classic Reformed position is fairly weak when it comes to the question of canon, yet the solution is not to swim the Tiber as the polemic of the Catholic Church is just as off base. Yet we must remember that the canon debate is not a Geneva v. Rome one, for the Anglicans have a via Media between these two Western approaches, but the Eastern Orthodox have a broader canon still and the Coptic Church an even broader one again. Now anyone of these differing branches could defend why their canon is the canon but surely we should first ask how different geographic locations developed different canons and to what degree that actually matters when those responsible for composing those works we call canonical (regardless of that content) did not have a canon and strictly speaking, nor did they who lived for the first 1500 years after Christ.

  27. PDuggie said,

    June 7, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Nothing like real-world cases to clarify matters:

    1. Has Stellman apostatized?

    2. Did S only have temporary faith?

    3. Did he never really truly believe the gospel for salvation?

    4. is he ‘going out from us” because he “was never of us”

    5. In saying he believes his works contribute to receipt of an inheritance, is he denying that his initial acceptance with God was by faith alone?

    6. Is he no longer trusting in Christ alone for salvation when he says that the Spirit working in him will be the source of the good works that will receive the inheritance?

    7. What was his temporary faith in?

    8. Why did his temporary faith fail? choking weeds? rocky soil?

    9. If stellman had died 5 years ago, would any of us lacked confidence that he was saved?

    10. if Leithart is never convicted of anything and never leaves the PCA for rome, etc, can we ever say “he was not of us or he would have remained with us, but since he has gone out from us he we see he was never one of us”

    11. If the things of God are spiritually discerned, how can Stellman argue that a muslim could have appropriately prosecuted leithart?

  28. PDuggie said,

    June 7, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Franks post is wise: my “impertinent” questions should not be construed as indicating I disagree with Frank as to what’s going on in Stellman’s heart.

  29. Doug Sowers said,

    June 7, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Nice questions PDuggie! Nice post Frank!

  30. Tim Prussic said,

    June 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Lane, I don’t that Leithart admits that he’s not confessional, I think he’s opposed to a certain hyper-confessionalism. I can only hope that your tone would be the exact same if one of the front-running FV proponents just dropped the same bombshell. I think, Lane, that your response would be similar, but I have my doubts that the general Reformed/Presbyterian response would be. In any event, brother, my prayers are with Jason, his family, and his church.

  31. greenbaggins said,

    June 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Eileen, you say, ” I believe that the fundamental reason for the instability lies in the implicit rejection of the unmediated authority and sufficiency of Scripture.” This is profound, and I think you nailed it here. I can see this in the style of Romanist theology where the interpretation is always changing. Romanists will not want to admit that this is what happens. However, if Scripture is not sufficient, then any time the Magisterium changes its mind, you have mucho sand for foundation.

  32. greenbaggins said,

    June 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Tim, I agree that I would hope that my tone would be the same if an FV man changed to Rome. It is never a good thing to defect to Rome. I think I WOULD be a bit less surprised (read a LOT less surprised!) than I was with Jason, given that my opinion of FV theology is that it is much closer to Rome than confessional orthodoxy is.

  33. Eileen said,

    June 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Pastor Keister,

    I apply that principle pretty broadly to also include charismatics at various places on that spectrum, the “God told me” types, and the mystics (I’m sure I’m leaving someone out unintentionally.) Sometimes these categories overlap with the unaccountable “pastors as popes” which are found throughout protestantism. This is not an argument for an uneducated clergy or “me-and-my-Bible” individualism. It is an argument for accessibility of the Scripture to all, for Berean-style searching of the Scripture in community, and for accountable elders.

    In my view and family experience, Roman Catholic theology is whatever it needs to be. It is the ultimate chameleon religion, and others have observed how readily it can absorb non-Biblical beliefs and practices as long as loyalty to Mother Church and “the Vicar of Christ” is maintained (just typing that makes me feel ill.)

    May the Lord have mercy on us all.

  34. pduggie said,

    June 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I suppose with Stellman’s version of confessionalism and what it became, one could argue his temporary faith was only an “historical faith”

  35. June 7, 2012 at 11:21 pm


    None of us can know anyone else’s heart. Check out WCF 17.3. I continue to pray for Jason, his family, and his former church, including that the Spirit will lead him back to the fold.

  36. Sean Gerety said,

    June 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I will say I am glad Jason decided to leave the PCA as Leithart should have years ago. However, he’s not unfit to preach in the PCA; he’s unfit to preach anywhere and his explanation concerning his involvement in the Leithart case explains his less-than-zealous prosecution of Leithart (even if Lane doesn’t think so) along with his unwillingness to pursue things beyond the presbytery level where he knew he was going to lose (particularly with the likes of Rayburn in his nearly apostate presbytery).

    I do pray for Jason’s wife along with his children that they might refuse to follow Jason’s decision to join with Rome. This is a great example of a time when a wife would NOT submit to her husband.

    I also find it interesting the number of traitors to the faith, like that papal tool Bryan Cross, now posting on his blog and who have similarly joined themselves to Antichrist. These men are besides themselves with joy seeing Jason has rejected the one true Christ of Scripture for Rome’s pathetic and impotent bastardization. I admit for them Jason is quite a catch.

    Beyond that, I do think Jason is the perfect object lesson for Federal Visionists who have no grasp of the meaning of Hebrews 6:4-6:

    “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, f they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

    Also, I think some of those complaining about the “harsh” words leveled against Jason are a bit misplaced. John said:

    “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

    He also said;

    “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

    I think the less Jason says at this point the better and he should stop trying to justify himself. If he really is the man of integrity many here seem to think he is (and having more integrity than Peter Leithart is not really a high-water mark), he would take down his blog, shut his mouth, and look for a job where he might no longer deceive people into thinking he’s a Christian, much less a Christian pastor. He’s put Christ’s name to shame and God wiling he will spend his remaining years working in the secular world where he belongs.

  37. Dozie said,

    June 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    “just typing that makes me feel ill”

    You should feel ill because deep down inside of you, you know you are telling damnable lies against the Catholic Church and the faith you never understood. Contrary to Catholic theology ibeing “whatever it needs to be”, those in the ecumenical discussions with the Catholic Church testify how hard it is to get the Catholic Church to alter her theology to accomodate Protestant aberrations. There is such a thing called “Catholic theology”; it is not anything it needs to be and there is an entire office of the pope charged with guarding and proctecting this body of theology. Therefore, it is either you are still ignorant or you are viciously wicked. Whatever it is, we are glad you drove yourself out of the Catholic Church; Protestants deserve you.

  38. Bryan Cross said,

    June 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm


    I don’t have your email address, but I’d like to write you privately. Would you send me a note? You can contact me through the CTC website. Thanks.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  39. Eileen said,

    June 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Dozie,

    First, you are absolutely correct that I am ignorant and viciously wicked. In fact, I am so completely deceived by my own heart that I cannot discern the extent of my own wickedness. That is why I desperately need a Savior and why my own deeds can never, ever contribute a bit to my salvation. Every monsignor, bishop, archbishop, cardinal, and pope is similarly wicked; that is why none of them can ever serve as an effective mediator between me and a holy God.

    You are mistaken, however, about my relationship to the Roman church. I did not drive myself out of the Roman church; I have never been in the Roman church. Some of my family members have been and still are, however. Some of them are quite devoted to the church and, from all appearances, to Christ. I hope that they are regenerate believers in spite of the Roman doctrines they have been taught. Some of them have come to acknowledge the truth of the reformational solas, but they have chosen to remain as faithful witnesses in the Roman church. I am making no judgment on the spiritual condition of anyone in the Roman church, but I am making a judgment that important doctrines of the Roman church do not accord with scripture.

    We have friends in various countries, and the Roman church is very different in those places. Haiti is not New Orleans is not Boston is not Bangalore is not Paris is not Rome is not New York. I’m old enough to remember pre-Vatican II Romanism in the United States, and it is quite different from Romanism as it exists today in the USA (the copy of the CCC which I have is pre-Vatican II.) What binds Roman Catholicism together historically and across culture is the rule of the magisterium which I characterized above as “Mother Church” and the “Vicar of Christ.” Typing those words makes me feel ill because I am not devoted to nor do I venerate “Mother Church” or the “Vicar of Christ” as understood by the Roman church. That teaching is repulsive to me.

    I believe that the body of Christ is not the Head of the body. Further, from my perspective it is beyond comprehension that the pope, whoever he might be and whatever kind of person he might be, could ever stand in the place of the unique Son of God in any mediatorial sense at all. As far as I can see from Scripture, the only Person appointed by Christ to be his “vicar” on earth is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells the true church, which is composed of all who are justified–and that by faith alone. That true church is not the rituals, forms and and organizational structures that can be seen, however impressive those might be.

    If what I have said is not true, then indeed I have slandered the Roman church and her pope. However, if what I have said is true, then perhaps you might consider the implications of that. For the sake of your own soul, please be a Berean.

  40. Dozie said,

    June 8, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    “In fact, I am so completely deceived by my own heart that I cannot discern the extent of my own wickedness”.

    You can of course boast about your wickedness all you want but your awareness of same wickedness should restrain you from slandering the Catholic Church in the manner that you have. Your awareness of your wickedness should teach you that you are not qualified to pass judgment on the nature of Catholic theology. Of course, you are now Protestant and a pope.

  41. Dozie said,

    June 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    “If what I have said is not true, then indeed I have slandered the Roman church and her pope”.

    How would you determine if what you said about the Catholic Church was wrong?

  42. Eileen said,

    June 8, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Dozie, I’m flattered that you want to make this thread about me. I’ll boast along with the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:30. How would you determine if what I said about the Catholic Church is wrong? Would the pope not be the one to determine that under the Roman system? As the Church Lady famously said, “How convenient!”

    But, to try to get back to the point of the thread a bit, I’ll ask a question. What if Pope Benedict 16 declares new dogma “A” for the Roman church in 2012. What if Pope Pureheart 1 succeeds Benedict 16 and later declares that dogma “B” (which is contrary to dogma “A”) is correct rather than dogma “A.” Which Pope’s declaration is authoritative?

    Why don’t you actually address the points I raised about the nature of the church and the role of the Holy Spirit? You could start in John 13 and read a few chapters and then you might understand why I believe that Peter is not exalted among the 12. You might understand why I asserted what I did about the Holy Spirit being the One promised by Christ. The upper room discourse would have been a great time to single Peter out for that honor.

    If you read those few chapters, you might understand why many of us are puzzled by the fact that the very Son of God did not have a home while his “Vicar” lives in a palace. The King of Kings was not clothed in finery, yet the Roman bishops are arrayed like kings. That strikes most protestants, except James Jordan, as quite odd.

    Here’s another question: Assuming Christ ascended in AD 33, who was the Bishop of Rome? How would we know that?

    When my husband and I visited Avignon several years ago we visited the Palace du Pape. I wonder who a humble Christian in 14th century Lyons recognized as his authority. How about a humble Christian in Firenze? Who decided? Was every Roman Catholic baptizee his or her own pope when they made that determination?

  43. Eileen said,

    June 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Dozie and Bryan,

    There’s another thing that was odd when we visited Avignon. On top of the chapel at the Palace du Pape there is not a cross but a statue of Mary–the one recognized in Roman circles for her Immaculate Conception and Bodily Assumption. Well, what is odd is that, at least in 2001, the statue of Mary, Queen of Heaven, on top of the chapel at the Palace du Pape was equipped with a prominent lightning rod. So, I asked my formerly Roman Catholic husband why Mary, Queen of Heaven could not intercede on behalf of her statue so as to prevent lightning from striking her image. And, if she can’t do that, then why should anyone expect her to help them out with their problems?

    When I contemplate Mary as the Queen of Heaven, I can’t help but wonder WWJD? What would Jeremiah declare? Look it up.

  44. Dozie said,

    June 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    “What if Pope Benedict 16 declares new dogma “A” for the Roman church in 2012. What if Pope Pureheart 1 succeeds Benedict 16 and later declares that dogma “B” (which is contrary to dogma “A”) is correct rather than dogma “A.” Which Pope’s declaration is authoritative?”

    Be warned that the more you write, the more you reveal you know little or nothing about the matter of which you write. The question you ask above shows your ignorance of Catholic principles. In the Catholic Church, the pope is not only the teacher of doctrines, he is also the chief defender of Catholic Tradition. This means that every new pope has an obligation to protect teachings of prior councils and popes properly understood. Now, do not turn your wickednes into a virtue and know that it will be of great benefit to you if will take the time to re-evaluate how you came to be thorougly miseducated about the Catholic Church.

  45. jedpaschall said,

    June 8, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Of course, you are now Protestant and a pope.

    Sorry Dozie, Protestants don’t suffer from Papal envy, nor do any of us wish to claim we are infallible. As for the charge of Eileen slandering the RCC, it’s hard to slander a church that isn’t really a church. I know that is hard for many in Rome’s fold to accept, but as much inasmuch as they reject the unfettered gospel and the other marks of a true church, any confessional Protestant church simply cannot recognize Rome as a true church. Huff and puff if you’d like, but this is the consequences of the choices we make, just as much as Protestants have to live with the anathemas of Trent, Roman Catholics must live with the fact that Reformed Protestants reject Rome’s status of a true church.

  46. June 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    OK, time to get back on topic. The post did not concern a RCC vs. Protestant debate. That’s a dead end as we’ve already seen on other posts. Let’s not hijack this one.

  47. Reed Here said,

    June 8, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Dozie: you need to show a bit more respect in your demeanor. This is not your house. You are guest here. If all you want to do is throw around threats of anathema – do not post. You’ve been warned about this in the past.

    LAY OFF!

  48. Dozie said,

    June 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    “Huff and puff if you’d like, but this is the consequences of the choices we make, just as much as Protestants have to live with the anathemas of Trent, Roman Catholics must live with the fact that Reformed Protestants reject Rome’s status of a true church”

    The very harsh but elementary news for you is that the Catholic Church existed for more than a thousand years before there was anything/body called Protestant. Catholic identity does not therefore derive from Protestant wishful thinking. However, if you know your own history, you will acknowledge that without the Catholic Church, there would not have been anything called Protestant. Now you will need to go and figure out who needs who for their status or better, go and re-read “DOMINUS IESUS”; that ought to quench all silly huffs and puffs.

  49. Eileen said,

    June 8, 2012 at 11:18 pm


    In your comments I’m feeling the love of Mother Church beckoning me. Thanks for your warning and ad hominem non-response to *one* of the questions I posed. Could you provide a substantive response to the questions and points?

    Revisiting my hypothetical, Benedict 16 is dead and Pureheart 1 is the reigning pope. Who then decides what constitutes a proper defense of Catholic Tradition? For our purposes here, I will even assume your presupposition that Catholic Tradition for its own sake is something we should be concerned to defend. In my hypothetical, what would prevent Pureheart 1 from using his office to declare that he *is* defending the true Catholic Tradition with dogma “B” which is contrary to dogma “A?” Who is going to stop him and on what basis according to Catholic theology? Are you feeling the logical vertigo now?

    On what authority must I accept your definition of “The Church” or anything else? Do you not see that the certainty-of-doctrine “problem” and the authority question is not satisfied just by locating it in the pope? Everyone who accepts and submits to papal authority is doing so according to his own individual counsel and made himself a de facto and, at least in that instance, an ad hoc pope. You have merely moved the problem and have not solved it.

    Have you visited Orlando recently? Is the Mary Queen of Heaven shrine still there?

    I believe that the real Mary, mother of Jesus the Christ is appalled by what is done in her name.

    Also, I have no idea what you mean by turning my wickedness into a virtue. Virtuous wickedness seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but perhaps makes more sense in Latin. I confess ignorance of Latin and beg your indulgence if my lack of understanding is due to ignorance. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

  50. Eileen said,

    June 8, 2012 at 11:24 pm


    Roman Catholicism is a proprietary model of theology. Reformational theology is open source. There’s probably a reason for that.

  51. Eileen said,

    June 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    I apologize to all for my participation in hijacking the thread.

    To get back to the original post, I don’t see that 2K or FV is the primary issue nor is ultra-confessionalism. Jason Stellman is schooled in the meaning of the WS, and I don’t see why could not prosecute a case just because he had questions during that time. I haven’t seen evidence that he compromised the prosecution of Dr. Leithart. In times of sudden tragedy it is normal to try to find an explanation and find a way of hope. Some, for their own reasons, may see a tragedy as an an opportunity to exploit to their advantage for their particular cause.

    I understood the point of the post by Dr. Trueman to be applicable to all of us, no matter our confessional position. We can all take our focus off of what is of first importance.

    Good evening all.

  52. Dozie said,

    June 9, 2012 at 12:03 am

    “Revisiting my hypothetical, Benedict 16 is dead and Pureheart 1 is the reigning pope. Who then decides what constitutes a proper defense of Catholic Tradition?”

    The current pope does.

    Your questions demonstrate you do not understand Catholicism but very likely you will struggle hard to deny this fact. The pope in his person is the supreme court in the Catholic Church. He is the final judge of what can be called an articel of Catholic faith. He is also the Chief Defender of Catholic teachings. Catholics believe the pope is assisted by the Holy Spirit in the discharge of his duties and we trust God as we listen to the pope. We believe the pope is truly Catholic; not only is he Catholic, he has the title of father and Catholics know their father will not decieve them. This is something every child learns intinctively. As father, the pope takes care to feed the flock entrusted to him. In this role he is the final judge of the nature and extent of Catholic doctrines. The pope is therefore trustworthy by virture of his fatherhood and the assistance promised by the Holy Spirit (an aspect Protestants carelessly ignore). Catholics are free to follow the teachings of prior popes which any current pope is obligated to teach as well but when there are disputes about doctrines, we do not dig up dead popes to ask them what they taught; we approach the current pope for a definitive explanation of the matter in dispute. That explanation satisfies. Catholics therefore do not live their lives with the burden of suspicion and conflicts that exist in your Protestant mind. We do not place one pope in opposition to another. We know and affirm that every pope teaches according to the “mind of the Church” and so there is no need for suspicion.

    Now instead of struggling with hypothetical examples, it would be helpful if you can recall an example in your already long life (“I’m old enough to remember pre-Vatican II Romanism in the United States”) of popes teaching contradictory doctrines. We can review such situations instead of wasting time for everybody; can you do that?

  53. Dozie said,

    June 9, 2012 at 12:16 am

    “Are you feeling the logical vertigo now?”

    Yes, only because you abandoned true religion and in that case, ABC/CBS make better sense.

  54. Bob S said,

    June 9, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to state the obvious.
    Since Dozie didn’t reply to 38 and get the word thru the backchannel, 47 became necessary.

    And since we’re playing 20 questions, perhaps Dozie can give us the list of all those members in good standing in the church prior to the Council of Trent who called the pope antichrist, beginning with “Pope” Gregory in the 600’s.
    As well as harmonize Trent with Vatican II. Or is that the other way around?
    Never mind.

    But if DWilson does anything in his letter, he does nail the protestant individualism that still hypocritically motivates the CtC bunch out scouring the web for converts to join their private unappointed magisterium in order to promote/interpret/apply little papa’s dictums to the rest of us.

    Last, but not least, in line with Sean in 36, Mr. Stellman has drawn the curtains on his bwogsite. For now at least. Hopefully the next time he pipes up, it is with a full blown exposition and defense of his views, so that there can be a proper exposition and defense of the Reformation contra Rome. For some reason, I don’t think he is going to get any kind of answer from his presbytery, much more the PCA.

    Sadly, tho when all this was brewing, Jason didn’t take time in his sabbatical to visit with DT King, who gets my vote as being as least as capable of piercing the miasmic Roman fog as Horton, White or Duncan, if not more.

    Oh well.

  55. Mark Kim said,

    June 9, 2012 at 1:19 am

    It’s people like Dozie who is ignorant of why many Protestant evangelicals refuse to see the RCC as a true church which solidifies my belief that the RCC as a whole is a heretical organization.

  56. June 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

    OK, here we are again. The original post was not about the historical division between Protestants and the RCC. There are still threads on this blog about that and I strongly suggest that the Protestant vs. RCC thread move over to one of those more appropriate posts. Let’s please return to the topic of this post here. Thank you.

  57. June 9, 2012 at 10:04 am

    One of the questions I think I am going to start asking when men come before Presbytery for Ordination or Transfer is, “Why are you not Roman Catholic?”

  58. June 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm


    I have a list of questions that I ensure are covered in our interview of ordination or transfer candidates. The flow of the questions follow the order of the topics in the WCF. It filters for a wide range of errors. Although your new question isn’t in the list, I just added one on the sufficiency of Scripture alone as the sole rule for faith and practice.

  59. justsinner99 said,

    June 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I highly doubt that there are any “magic bullet” questions that can be asked during ordination exams that could really head this kind of thing off at the pass. It sure couldn’t hurt to ask some more specific questions, though.

  60. June 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Agreed, but our oath requires that we be diligent in filtering for errors. In Jason’s case, his views didn’t change until much later. Not much a examination committee can do in such a case. We have to count on such men’s integrity to do as Jason has done – make his views known and resign. Such an event must be received with tears and a lot of prayer for all involved.

  61. darrelltoddmaurina said,

    June 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Benjamin P. Glaser (@BenjaminPGlaser) said on June 9, 2012 at 10:04 am: “One of the questions I think I am going to start asking when men come before Presbytery for Ordination or Transfer is, ‘Why are you not Roman Catholic?'”

    I think that would be an excellent question not only for ordination examinations but also for membership. With all the high-profile conversions to Rome over the last few years, I am increasingly beginning to wonder if our churches are assuming what cannot be assumed, and therefore failing teach our people why they are Protestants and what they are protesting against.

    Catechesis counts. Our people deserve to know what their church believes.

  62. michael said,

    June 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Probably to basic in scope in questioning for some in here, nevertheless, I would pose these several questions to determine one’s qualification to minister publically?

    One, citing Scripture, tell me three Biblical answers to the Will of God?

    Here are just three I can think of: a. giving thanks in all things, b. believe in Him Who He has sent and c. keep ones vessel in sanctification and honor.

    Two, do you confess the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead?

    Three, do you believe Jesus Christ came in the flesh and died a human death, then buried by human beings and rose again now sitting at the Righteous Right hand of Almighty God?

    Getting past those answers, what then is there left to do but preach and teach the Gospel to every creature, make disciples of those God gives you charge over and then the end shall come?

    I know reading the ECF’s and some of the greatest minds that have penned doctrines of theology systematically or otherwise from them to these days gives one a better sense of duty and perspicaciousness in communicating the Truth. But when it comes down to it, basically having repentance from dead works in your life, His Faith in God moving you to your end, having the baptisms, the laying on of hands, the knowledge of the resurrection and impending eternal judgment, if one gets all that going on in one’s life, one has a fairly good chance of not dying in their sins!

  63. Sean Gerety said,

    June 11, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Wilson’s piece was interesting only because he claims to hold to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness by faith alone then denies that very thing by restoring to his usual slippery and addled analogies of a “living faith, breathing faith, loving faith, the only kind of faith the living God bestows.” Notice, none of his analogies of a saving faith ever limit themselves to simply “receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness” as the *alone* instrument of justification. For Wilson the instrument of justification very much include the works of sanctification as a matter of definition.

    Also, tellingly, as Wilson advocates for “a wider and fuller” view of sola fide (one that includes the works of sanctification) and sola scriptura (that includes interpretive ecclesiastic authority in addition to Scripture interpreting Scripture), he admits that Jason’s move Romeward was already accomplished by Leithart without ever having to go anywhere as he refers to Jason as being one of those “strident opponents of the very thing they are most afraid of falling into.”

    I have been and continue to be very critical of Jason’s defection from the truth of the Gospel, but it seems to me Jason understands precisely the doctrines he now rejects. Jason may have been playing the hypocrite, but in the final analysis he is no fraud and the only ones I see playing “dress-ups” are Wilson and Leithart as they pretend to be Protestants in any other sense than they’re just not Roman Catholics.

  64. Dozie said,

    June 11, 2012 at 10:18 am

    “Notice, none of his analogies of a saving faith ever limit themselves to simply “receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness” as the *alone* instrument of justification”.

    How does this resting manifest itself in the life of a Christian? What would the practice of this kind of religion be lived out? Should the practitioners of this kind of religion also not advocate reducing the entire bible to one verse – the verse that is assumed to be teaching that true religion consists entirely or simply on “receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness” as the *alone* instrument of justification”. What other verse of the bible would be necessary and what would that necessity be if not to complicate the simplicity of “receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness” as the *alone* instrument of justification”?

  65. Sean Gerety said,

    June 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    “How does this resting manifest itself in the life of a Christian?”

    Dozie, this is an irrelevant question to the issue of sola fide. The life of a Christian has no baring whatsoever on the question of justification, other than perhaps to help judge true Christians from the pretend variety like Wilson and Leithart whose works, as evidenced by their many writings, deny this central truth of the Christian system.

  66. Bob S said,

    June 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Not to pile on D, but somebody’s sleepin’ in class. JBFA does not rest on one verse alone, ie. sola versa.

    FTM the Reformers thought the Book of Romans, along with the Book of John was the gateway to the Bible. Failure to comprehend/ understand Romans = failure to comprehend/understand the Bible.

    IOW the 20 questions routine missed the real question. Which is not too surprising since it is the typical MO of DWilson, Leithart and the CtC bunch, ie. FV and Rome.

    If devious is as devious does, a little more sophistication might help the dialectic conquer next time.


  67. June 20, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    […] Stellman, Leithart, and Wilson ( […]

  68. October 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Great, you put a man who is uncertain of his subscription to the Reformed standards in charge of the prosecution of man who is certain in his equivocation and dissimulation in regards to the Federal Vision. Wonderful.

  69. October 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm


    You can read more about the Leithart issue here:

    You’ll be hard pressed, if you were to read my opening and closing arguments from the trial transcripts, to find any evidence at all that I was sympathetic to Leithart in the least bit, or that I had anything in mind other than the demand for confessional fidelity to the Westminster Standards.

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