Is the FV Controversy Dead?

Doug Wilson has weighed in on the controversy here. He makes two basic points, one to the critics of the FV, and one to the FV’ers. His point to the critics is that they should dial down the rhetoric against the FV because a court of the church has spoken. His point to the FV’ers is that they should become more careful with their terms in order to avoid confusion. Alas for Doug, neither point will be followed. This critic will certainly not dial down the rhetoric (although I try to avoid rhetoric, actually, preferring straight logic). And the FV’ers can’t help their use of terms, much. They delight in ambiguity and multivalency.

On the first point, even though a church court has spoken, that doesn’t mean that I have to agree with it, nor does it mean that church court decisions are above criticism. Or will we start saying that Machen should just have stayed quiet and been a good boy? Not to mention Luther. There have been many already who have wished to use this decision of the SJC as a way of shutting up people like myself. This is ironic, when many of the people who voted for the decision in the SJC still think of the FV as being outside the boundaries of the confession.

This brings us to another important point to consider: the SJC would almost certainly not agree with Doug’s take on the decision (as vindicating Leithart’s theology so that it is within the boundaries). The SJC decision regards itself as ruling on a primarily procedural matter (that the complainant did not prove the case). The “damage control” clauses and paragraphs are certainly intended to go in this direction.

However, in another twist, I agree with Doug on the practical impact of the decision: that it pronounces Leithart’s theology as being within the boundaries. And the reason I say that is simple: why in the world would the SJC encourage PNWP and Leithart to work on clarity of expression and avoiding ambiguity, if the SJC were not pronouncing on the confessionality of Leithart’s theology? That paragraph in the decision gives the decided impression that the only real problem is ambiguity and misuse of terms, in other words, semantics. To put the matter in an even more pointed fashion, how can the SJC say that it is not pronouncing on Leithart’s theology, when that paragraph pronounces on Leithart’s theology? De jure, the SJC may be able to distance itself from Leithart’s theology. De facto, they have pronounced that Leithart is confessional, and yet careless with terms, and that he merely needs to clean up that little (!) problem.