What About the Sheep?

I got an email from a friend recently, who will currently remain nameless, as he does not typically like to draw attention to himself. He said some things in it that were very important. I will paraphrase a bit, and add some thoughts of my own.

The work of church discipline can be divided into the “easy” part and the “hard” part. In the FV controversy, the easy part was passing the study committee report in 2007. Why was it easy? Because it was comfortably hypothetical, and mostly anonymous. Sure, there were names mentioned, but since the report did not have judicial teeth (except insofar as “due weight” was to be given to it, something that all the FV-friendly Presbyteries have ignored), it was something easy to pass.

The hard part comes when individuals are singled out for the judicial process, whether by their own initiative, as in Leithart’s case, or by some other way. Now kicks in the “brotherhood” problem, and this is what makes everything so much more difficult. It is very hard for teaching elders in particular (and this underscores the essential role that ruling elders play in any disciplinary proceedings) to be a part of disciplinary procedures that involve friends of theirs. In fact, it is very easy to play the coward in this regard. The consequences of discipline are oftentimes loss of friendship (because the person undergoing discipline tends to take everything personally), and friction among the other brothers. For teaching elders in the PCA, whose membership is not in the local church, but in the Presbytery, the Presbytery IS their church.

In all of this, who gets forgotten? The sheep! If there is false doctrine being promulgated in one of our churches, it is the sheep who are getting poisoned. If we would remember the sheep in cases of doctrinal discipline of teaching elders, we would be much less likely to take things personally, and we would be much more diligent about following through, because of the terrible consequences of allowing sheep to be poisoned. Instead, people who are concerned about the sheep tend to get lectured about how they’re not being charitable towards the teaching elders. This really ought to stop. We could turn the whole thing around and ask the question: what about charity towards those who are concerned about the sheep? What about not jumping on the 9th commandment as a knee-jerk reaction to cases of doctrinal commitment? How about assuming that such people are trying to ensure that the sheep aren’t getting poisoned?


  1. August 13, 2013 at 10:40 am

    […] See also: What About the Sheep? […]

  2. SteveD said,

    August 13, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Amen. I have been a reader of this blog for years, now, and have never commented. However, this is the one issue that I believe has been overlooked by most everyone in the PCA fighting for this or that in the FV debate. 10 years ago I was under care in the PCA and looking to be ordained in the North Texas Presbytery. I filled pulpit in numerous congregations across North Texas largely ignorant of the FV, having only heard snippets of it from some of the TEs. Within a couple of years at least two churches in NTP had split because of FV doctrine. I watched REs resign positions, other REs fight for their positions, and churches fail to call good men to the pulpit because they were “too hard on the FV.” The “peace at any price” cwaga crowd won the day in most instances, but the price no one wanted to look at was the toll on the sheep. While elders argued over remaining within the bounds of WCF, many sheep went unfed or underfed. While sessions and presbytery argued over polity, many sheep were led astray by FV wolves. I fear this has been the case throughout much the PCA.

    Upon watching these things happen, and watching the general apathy of TEs and REs desiring only to keep the peace rather than stand for right doctrine, I chose to leave the PCA before I was ordained. I still have many PCA friends and have watched the PCA from a short distance, but it is my belief that all of the issues swept under the rug 7-10 years ago in the name of cwaga are now threatening to split presbyteries and the denomination just as they have split individual churches. May God have mercy on his church, and may those called to shepherd the sheep do just that: always ready in season and out of season to reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching according to God’s word.

  3. Adam Parker said,

    August 13, 2013 at 11:00 am

    You should remember the 9th commandment when you call out those who abuse the 9th commandment. #joking

  4. August 13, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Another excellent post. When the orthodox lack the courage to face heresy head-on, the sheep always get sheared. Even so, the Good Shepherd protects and preserves the sheep who know His voice.

  5. August 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    It would be helpful if someone who is very informed in FV matters would come up with a short list of questions to ask during ordination exams that might help “smoke out” FVers.

    They always seem to say (dishonestly, IMO) that they hold to the Standards’ view on justification, sanctification, and the Sacraments. Thankfully, our particular Presbytery has not had any issues with FV in our midst that I know of. (Lord willing, that will continue to be the case.)

  6. Bob B said,

    August 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Oh. My. So now these FV types are ‘wolves’ and ‘poisoning’ the flock of Christ! I’d hate to hear your honest opinion on Lutherans.

    It seems you are really doubling down on your belief that your interpretation is the only correct one, and that all others are ‘heresies’. These people don’t understand baptismal regeneration in the exact same way I do – they must be influenced by Satan himself! The sheep are being sheared – led to the slaughter – and our presbytery is doing nothing!

    Christ’s church didn’t start with the dutch reformation, and the ideas that the FV types are discussing have been a part of ‘Christian Orthodoxy’ for well over 1500 years (and still is orthodox in other denominations). They aren’t adding a 4th member to the trinity, or denying the deity of Christ. They want to let the covenant kids take communion *cough* let the children come to me *cough*.

    So while they might be out of harmony with your interpretation of reformed doctrine, it is still better to treat these brethren like brethren and lay off the wolves rhetoric. These aren’t wiccans stealing away your children – they are Bible believing Christians who attended the same seminaries, went to the same churches, sent their kids to the same schools, voted at the same meetings and lived the same lives as you. Who cares if they believe that baptism has some extra effacatiousness to it – is that belief enough to stop you from standing next to them and glorifying God on Sunday morning? Lets get a little perspective here to go along with our pitchforks.

  7. August 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    So their views on justification & imputation don’t matter as long as they went to the same seminaries, churches, etc. as the rest of us?

  8. Bob B said,

    August 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    No, what I’m saying is that Christians throughout history have held many different views on many different issues, and most of them claim orthodoxy. There is a distinct possibility that YOUR position on this matter is not the orthodox one. It is also possible that we won’t find out definitively in this life, nor does it matter (thank God for grace). This is the human condition.

    Given that we are living in this human condition, it is better for us to behave and treat each other as brothers pursuing common goals (as Christians) – calling them wolves and using language like ‘poisoning the flock’ is pre-supposing that your position on issue X is the correct one, even though taking your position puts you at odds with not only the FV types, but quite possibly the Christian Church through history.

    So go ahead and have your doctrinal disagreement, but recognize that this is a fight between brothers, not a fight with ‘the enemy’. St. Peter isn’t barring entry through the pearly gates because we disagree how James and Romans fit together. God save the sheep from the shepherds who spend all their time fighting each other over this issue calling each other heretics and wolves. How are we to recognize a real wolf if you keep using that word to describe anyone you disagree with?

  9. August 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Bob B – Nice job of spinning red herrings. We like Lutherans just fine, and lots of other folks, as long as they don’t try to become officers in the PCA. You should read BCO Preliminary Principles 2 & 5.

    I guess that you’re not a 4-H type, either. There’s a big difference between sheep being sheared and slaughtered. In shearing, the sheep are involved; in slaughter, they’re fully committed.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t describe baptismal regeneration lite as adding “some extra effacatiousness to it.” I’d call it Roman Catholic lite. Big difference.

    I’ll defer to Andy on the seminaries, etc.

    Overall, I think that our perspective has been well researched, hard-earned, and is just fine.

  10. August 13, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Bob B – I find your Baha’i Congregationalism mildly interesting, but far from compelling and certainly not supported by our BCO. We officers swear an oath before God and the church to uphold the peace and purity of the church. There can be no peace without purity. I do not find your Baha’i Congregationalism model anywhere in the BCO.

  11. Bob B said,

    August 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean by Baha’i Congregationalism. Are they Christians?

    As for sheep and whether they are being slaughtered, sheared, fed to wolves, or poisoned… apparently it is a rough life for them.

    Here is the cognative dissonance with what you are saying. Your an officer in the church right reformedmusings? You’re called by God – right? And this Church you are an officer in, it is God’s church? OK, what about the Lutheran clergy, is he too called by God? in God’s Church? By what strange stroke of human interference have we caused 2 ‘called by God’ clergy to be unable to serve in each other’s churches?

    This is not a red herring – the pursuit of purity has split Christendom. Lets go after the FV’s now, and when we’ve kicked them out lets go after those who advocate for unleavened bread, or those who prefer to keep mosaic law, or those who celebrate lent. It never ends.

    There can be peace – probably when one side stops trying to kick the other side out. They seem to think that there is room in the denomination for both views, do you? If not, who are the ones ‘aggressing’ here, who are the ones disturbing the peace?

  12. Jon Barlow said,

    August 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Perhaps Bob B is thinking of the careless and idiosyncratic way that you use the word “heresy,” Reformed Musings. One can only be a heretic with regard to Christian orthodoxy. And so when you call Meyers or Leithart “heretics” you are also lumping people from other branches of Christianity into the mix. If Luther is a heretic, then I will stand with the heretics any day.

  13. Jared said,

    August 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    2 Peter 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies,* even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

    1 Corinthians 11:19 for there must be factions* among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

    Gal 5:19-20 Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies,*

    * (αἵρεσις), hairesis,

    BDAG includes:

    -opinion, dogma: destructive opinions…way of thinking, hold to a way of thinking.

    1) act of taking, capture: e.g. storming a city
    2) choosing, choice
    3) that which is chosen
    4) a body of men following their own tenets (sect or party)
    4a) of the Sadducees
    4b) of the Pharisees
    4c) of the Christians
    5) dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims

  14. August 13, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Bob B – You are still missing the mark. The issue with FV isn’t that they aren’t Christians. Nor is that an issue with Lutherans or Baptists, etc. The issue is that FV adherents have no business being officers in the PCA. Period. That’s the issue. If you want to discuss the issue, that’s it. You have yet to address that issue.

  15. August 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm


    Please see #14. That’s the context. Please don’t extend my words or draw improper inferences beyond the scope of the topic.

  16. Jon Barlow said,

    August 13, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Reformed musings, when you use the word “heresy” *in english* in an idiosyncratic way, even after being corrected, then it’s up to you if you prefer to appear as a schismatic or a buffoon, but we who run into your language occasionally can hardly be blamed for not being taken aback every time we encounter your odious word choice.

  17. Cris Dickason said,

    August 13, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Reformedmusings – can you explain what you mean by “Baha’i Congregationalism”? As someone who was raised Baha’i I’m not catching your drift, unless it’s a cwaga since we’re all the same or since all paths equally lead to the same end?

    A Baha’i no longer…

    No “h” because that spelling was too close to Christ for my folks when I was born!

  18. August 13, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Cris – I made up the term to mean pretty much what you said – I’m OK, you’re OK, let’s not be judgmental and do whatever we like accountable to no one. That’s a lot like cwaga, but sounds cooler and gives more of the sense that anything goes – baptismal regeneration lite, practical monocovenantalism, final justification, rejection of IAOC, granting of saving benefits minus perseverance to the reprobate, paedocommunion, et al. Can’t get judgmental about officers in good standing practicing and teaching these things. It’s all OK and fits into some obscure system somewhere. All paths are equivalent. That’s Baha’i Congregationalism. Again, I just coined the term, but the more I think about it, the more I like it.

  19. Stan Jones said,

    August 14, 2013 at 12:55 am

    I’m with Bob B on this one… wow. I’m curious to know, those who are so concerned about this: What is your fear for the sheep, exactly? I mean, honestly, if you agree that these are indeed brothers – and therefore, although they might differ with you, they are not preaching a false-gospel – then what exactly is your great fear? That more people might end up disagreeing with you? Is all this complaining and carrying on over a case that has been ruled upon by the church courts really how you respond when something doesn’t go your way?

  20. Tony said,

    August 14, 2013 at 7:28 am

    I think the above comment stream is an example of how meaningless good faith subscription has become in the PCA. “Good faith” now seems to imply, “Hey, if the FV guys are Christian brothers, why are you so in a huff? Where’s your sense of charity, your Reformed catholic spirit?” For some, it’s now about receiving anyone who says they’re Reformed in “Good Faith” – with the broadest, non-confessional construction of what “Reformed” means. Ugh. These men are not merely church members. Leithart & Meyers are teaching elders in the PCA. They allegedly subscribe to the Westminster Standards. What they teach at certain points is undeniably divergent from any honest reading of Westminster.

    The PCA’s ecclesiastical schizophrenia has become apparent. You cannot be “broadly Reformed” while purporting to be robustly confessional – requiring officers to “sincerely receive and adopt” the Westminster Standards. Speaking of the Ninth Commandment, I think we are creating an environment where some officers will be taking their ordination vows with fingers crossed – or at least equivocating on the plain language of the Standards re: sacraments, perseverance, covenant theology, RPW, and, good grief, justification.

    If FV has won the day in the PCA, meaningful subscription to Westminster is dead in the PCA. And it would be more honest for the PCA to adopt some broadly Reformed statement of faith (a version of which has been on the PCA website for years), and to commend the Westminster Standards (and the 3F of U while we’re at it) as salutary but not binding on officers in the particulars. A more conservative, evangelical version of the PCUSA’s “Book of Confessions,” if you will.

    As for me, I think it is time to align with a more intentionally confessional church.

  21. Dr DeRidder said,

    August 14, 2013 at 9:35 am

    The sheep and the “Good Shepard” are not concerned with the shepards stand on FV but whether if the “flock” is being fed.
    In the end the “Good Shepard” will evaluate the feeding.

  22. Phil D. said,

    August 14, 2013 at 10:00 am


    So in in effect it doesn’t really matter WHAT the sheep are being fed, just whether or not they ARE being fed… WOW…

  23. Cris A. Dickason said,

    August 14, 2013 at 10:54 am

    To see this more recent doctrinal controversy (FV) spelled out in history with differing theological touch points, I would point y’all to the “Broadening Church Thesis.” I refer to the book by Lefferts Augustine Loetscher,
    The broadening church; a study of theological issues in the Presbyterian Church since 1869.

    This documents the loosening or broadening of theological subscription within the Northern Presbyterian Church that began with post-Civil War reunion in the north. A notable bump along the way of Loetscher’s narrative was the formation of the OPC in response to the liberalism creeping in. Recall that the northern church never took any disciplinary steps against those questioning or outright denying Christ’s virgin, etc. Can you say Auburn Affirmation?

    Loetscher, of course, sees the broadening as laudable and desirable. But we know that the contemporary mainline PC is so broad as to as to embrace/allow any and all theological (and ethical) positions (Jesus was a nice guy who probably existed historically). Loetscher’s book can almost be read as the history of the OPC told from “the other side.” It is instructive and recommended.

    The “Broadening Church thesis” also occurred in the Southern Presbyterian Church, following the northern body, they just stayed a few decades behind, until in the early 1970s, the broadness caused the birth of the PCA. In turn the PCUS was freed theologically and organizationally to rejoin the Northern Church.

    So now we can see the FV issue as an instance of the “Broadening Church thesis” occurring within the PCA itself. Again, what is the “Broadening Church thesis”? It is that theological boundaries, subscriptional, confessional boundaries (or envelopes) are stretched and redefined to accommodate views previously considered un-scriptural. Polity is used to thwart attempts to hold to orthodoxy, and the moderates and the organizationally inclined always side against the confessional party, which is successfully portrayed as narrow, close-minded, reactionary, unfriendly, etc.

    Bottom line, it’s a historically documented fact that slippery slopes occur – because the broadening started at some point and not everyone agreed a milestone was being set. Those slippery slopes always (almost always?) turn out to be a downward slide away from the Scriptures. Isn’t this the process seen in all the mainline groups?

  24. Cris A. Dickason said,

    August 14, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Eh, that should be: Recall that the northern church never took any disciplinary steps against those questioning or outright denying Christ’s virgin birth, etc. Can you say Auburn Affirmation?

  25. greenbaggins said,

    August 14, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Cris, are you telling us that you are not embracing Dan Brown’s theses concerning Mary?

  26. Bob B said,

    August 14, 2013 at 11:23 am

    The qualifications for elders in the church are listed in 1 Timothy 3. So long as someone meets those qualifications and isn’t espousing heresies that go against the great creeds of the church – then they had best be left alone.

    The teachings of the FV are in line with the teachings of church universal. It may be a minority position in the reformed camp, but this is hardly ‘new’ stuff. The main stumbling block appears to be a strict interpretation of the Westminster confessions – a non-inspired document that has some obvious flaws in it.

    The fact that your own courts interpreting scripture and the Westminster confessions are siding (at least for now) with the FV types should indicate to you all that you ought to be treating them as brethren, and that they are fit for office in the church (meeting 1 Timothy 3 criteria). At this juncture, it is you – not the FV’s – who are destroying the purity and peace in the church.

    I find it disturbing that you all stand in judgment of the ‘baptismal regeneration, paedocommuncion’ types. You would presume to judge their fitness for office and their quality of faith based on these doctrines? Baptismal regeneration has a much longer history and much wider support in the church than the Westminster confessions – if one is to be evaluated for orthodoxy then the Westminster should take the stand first.

    @reformedmusing 14
    The FV types meet the standard of 1 Timothy 3. They have been tried in your courts, and they meet the standards of Westminister to the satisfaction of that court (not to yours obviously). You have vowed obedience to those in authority (this court). Given these facts, it seems obvious to me that the FV adherents should be allowed to teach in your denomination, and that you as a submitting member to that denomination need to submit your will to their decision in this matter. Calling the FV’s ‘wolves’ and ‘poisonous’ is not proper submission.

    If you view your leaders incompetent, remove yourself from under their leadership and join up elsewhere (something I opted to do when I was in the PCA).

  27. August 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Bob B – You’ve gone off the rails again. Neither Leithart or Meyers have been exonerated by the SJC. The SJC let both slide, to date anyway, on technicalities rather than doctrinal examination. Leithart and Meyers have been given a pass only by their friends in their presbyteries. The decisions are not binding outside their boundaries. If either Leithart, Meyers, or any of their FV cohorts try to transfer to a confessionally faithful presbytery, they’ll find just how limited their pass is. Just ask Rich Lusk. And both passes may yet turn out to be temporary.

    Tony in #20 above nailed the target. Good-faith subscription is being shown as meaningless. Your Baha’i Congregationalist support of baptismal regeneration, paedocommunion, etc., is interesting, but well outside any credible reading of the Westminster Standards, as is FV generally. Being confessional still means something to some of us.

  28. Doug Sowers said,

    August 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Thank God for Bob B.! What a breath of fresh air, next to the grudge holding Reformedmusings. Hey Reformedmussings, when are you going to grow up? You sound like a bitter man who can’t get his own way. Why not submit to your superiors in the PCA? They have already spoken! Dr. Peter Leithart was *unanimously* voted not guilty. You need to get with the program, or go start you own denomination. You can be an army of none. Or is that one?

    Warning! Bitterness will rot you to the bone. But love covers a multitude of sins.

    Dr. Peter Leithart is a brilliant author who has benefited the church for years perhaps century’s to come, have you read his wonderful work? What have you written that can compare to his thought provoking writing?

    I could hear a pin drop!

    This whole argument has become one huge black eye for the reformed community, proving that a lot of immature men, are more concerned about they’re personal interpretation/slant, of the confessions, rather than seeing the big picture. Men like Wilson and Leithart only look better the more this debacle proceeds.

    Keep pressing on!

  29. Horace said,

    August 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    You know Doug, the other side of that would ask why the wonderful looking brothers didn’t submit to the judgment of their peers 8 or 10 years ago that their understanding of the sacraments and justification wasn’t in line with the Standards we all vowed was the system of theology taught in Scripture. But that’s ancient history now, and you guys feel like you “won” thus you were right. Keep pressing on, indeed.

    So long, and thanks for all the fish!

  30. Bob B said,

    August 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    @horace 29
    1. Peers don’t judge authoritatively when it comes to church discipline – authorities do (courts, presbyteries, higher things than the opinions of other pastors in your denomination).
    2. It is possible that they think that they are in line with their Westminster vows and are submitting. You disagree. Do you interpret Westminster strictly or loosely? Who decides if they are or are not in line with Westminster, you or a court?
    3. Is Westminster even correct on these issues (given that it has diverged with the orthodox teachings of the Church universal on baptismal regeneration)? If the standard is not correct (heterodox), ought it be followed because one vowed to follow it?
    4. 42

  31. Jared said,

    August 14, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    If I may, I would offer a correction to some misconceptions, even by those that think the SJC erred (i.e. reformedmusings): I believe the following are misunderstandings I have heard of the Leithart Decision corrected with the words of the decision 2012-05:

    1) “the SJC did not rule on Leithart’s theology as Confessional.”

    Yes they did, they affirmed the presbytery calling them “semantic differences” and that Leithart “qualified many of his more provocative statements in ways that the Presbytery’s Commission concluded brought them into conformity with the Standards.”

    2) “the SJC told Leithart to change what he says in areas where he was out of conformity to the Standards.”

    No they didn’t, they told the presbytery to continue what they are doing [nothing really that the public has seen to correct public statements], and to inform others that Leithart is not out of conformity to the Standards, but to continue in what he is currently teaching, stating “we urge that Pacific Northwest Presbytery continue to encourage TE Leithart to take care that when he uses standard theological terms (such as baptism, justification, sanctification, efficacious, and arrabon) in non-standard ways that he make clear those differences in use and that he continue to clarify how his views in key areas are not in conflict with the Standards.”

    3) “the SJC ruled on technicalities and did not endorse Leithart’s theology.”

    While the decision did state, “nothing in this Decision should be construed as addressing (or thereby endorsing) in general TE Leithart’s views, writings, teachings or pronouncements,” the entirety of the rest of the decision is stating that Leithart’s views in the Record of the Case are not proven to be out of conformity with the Standards, calling them “semantic differences” and specifically stating he merely needed to continue (not change, but CONTINUE) “continue to clarify how his views in key areas ARE NOT in conflict with the Standards.” These statements are not technical, but approving of the theological formulations of Leithart.

    The only thing such a line of non-endorsement can mean is the members of the SJC themselves that concurred with the decision are not Federal Visionists, as someone may say that the Standards are silent on post-millenialism, and an amillenialist may not endorse post-millenialism, but find a post-millenialist to be in conformity to the Standards.

    IMPLICATION: the statements of the Record of the Case are deemed by precedent to be acceptable expositions of the gospel, and according to BCO 14-7 “Judicial decisions shall be binding and conclusive on the parties who are directly involved in the matter being adjudicated, and may be appealed to in subsequent similar cases as to any principle which may have been decided.” Thus, rejecting a minister from a call who holds similar views will conceivably be much more difficult, since they can cite that they merely agree with Leithart who has been exonerated in that his statements EXPLICITLY have been said to be in conformity to the Standards.

    Feel free to correct me if my understanding is wrong, but I have not had anyone do so after interacting with the actual words of the decision.

  32. Doug Sowers said,

    August 15, 2013 at 2:02 am

    Thanks Jared!

    Horace, isn’t’ calling Dr. Leithart a wolf wa-a-a-a-a-y over the top, to the tenth power?

    Since the SJC has exonerated Dr. Leithart, who are you to say he’s out of accord on our standards? Especially since the SJC say the exact opposite! Why can’t you just admit that it’s possible that *you* might need to re-think how you understand the standards. (that goes triple for Reformedmussings)

    Finally Reformedmussings, can you show us by using Scripture where Dr. Leithart has missed the mark? Why can’t you or any other critique correct him with Scripture? I notice when I read Dr. Leithart’s “The Baptized body”, he interacts with Scripture a lot. I have yet to hear anyone explain how he is misconstruing the verses he uses.

    Just bellowing and bellyaching, and name calling, but nothing of substance. No wonder Dr. Leithart was found to be faithful with the Standards.Until someone can give a biblical and practical reason why Leithart is so dangerous, I think this is a tempest in a tea pot.

    Rest in his completed work,,,,

  33. August 15, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Well coming from outside the PCA-sphere I will happily agree with Bob M. If various courts of the PCA choose to acquit the guilty, then so much worse for those courts. The Lord of Heaven will not be impressed. And that’s what we should be concerned about.

    Nor should we be surprised- this happened with the old liberals in various denominations that we now label as mainline. The FV may prevail, as the liberals did, outwardly for the time being, but God will judge them and yet preserve a faithful remnant.

    I must, however, depart from Bob’s assumption that one’s Christian identity is not at stake in regard to FV matters. It certainly is, inasmuch as FV recapitulates the Judaizer heresy and adds various acts of obedience (good works, baptism, etc.) alongside the requirement of a passive, extrospective faith in Christ as the instrument by which we are justified. If the Apostle Paul calls such doctrines a “false gospel” and the purveyors of such doctrines as “accursed” then we are obliged to do likewise. Appealing to various historical or social constructs will do no good when the Word of God draws this line in the sand.

    It will not do to appeal to Luther or any other past heroes in the faith. At this late date, many centuries on, one does not have any excuse for getting these matters wrong. Grow up. This is well-trod ground. We can understand that Luther taught serious errors, and we can also, for instance, understand that Augustine taught MANY serious errors, yet we ought not to be in the business of retroactively excommunicating men who were doing the best they could in the context of their time. One could say the same thing of the ante-nicene fathers in regard to their Christology and Triadology. They deserve a charitable judgment in a way that very learned 21st century PhD. recipients do not.

    As for Luther:

    Lutheranism should have been abandoned centuries ago as an unstable halfway house.

  34. August 15, 2013 at 3:56 am

    Doug S. said Finally Reformedmussings, can you show us by using Scripture where Dr. Leithart has missed the mark? Why can’t you or any other critique correct him with Scripture? I notice when I read Dr. Leithart’s “The Baptized body”, he interacts with Scripture a lot. I have yet to hear anyone explain how he is misconstruing the verses he uses.

    You clearly haven’t read Lane’s trial testimony, which rebutted Leithart’s misuse of scripture in eye-watering detail:


    It is difficult to take your FV cheer-leading serious, Doug.

  35. Jared said,

    August 15, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Just to clarify, the SJC decision on Leithart is dead wrong. I just want us to be clear on what it says and what that means.

  36. Horace said,

    August 15, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I did not use the word wolf Doug, and while I might not characterize him in that way I do not think it is ” wa-a-a-a-a-y over the top, to the tenth power”…that’s a little too much drama for me. I will stick with simply saying what so many others have been saying for years, that Dr Leithart’s teachings at many points do not conform to the usual and historic understanding of the Westminster Standards, which is what he has vowed that he believes and will uphold. The PNWP erred when they gave him a pass. And refusing to do anything about it because of polity is itself an error. I don’t see that the SJC exonerated him, I’d say they punted as well.

    A point I have tried to make to my session many times is that when we hold out the Westminster as being our confession of faith we are saying some very specific things. To borrow a phrase, it isn’t a wax nose that can be pushed and pulled into any shape as needed. But go into many PNWP churches today and you will find evolution, paedocommunion, women deacons, New Perspectives, and teachings on the sacraments that do not honestly conform to the standards… in short, you do not find a Westminster Reformed church but instead a mishmash of Lutheran-Romish-American Evangelical super fun rockband church. Might be good for filling the parking lot on Sunday but are the sheep really being fed? I’m sure there are PCA churches in other parts of the country that still look like what the Standards profess, but not so much in other presbyteries. If you’re comfortable in that church, fine. I am not.

    If that is where the PCA is going (many would say “is”), then for goodness sake, man up and drop the lipservice to the Westminster, vote in the Apostles Creed instead and keep pressing on. But don’t say one thing and be another. Simple choice. And we’ll know the answer in October.

  37. Tony said,

    August 15, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Jared #31, thank you for your analysis of the SJC decision. Sad to say, I think it is accurate. I believe you are correct, and this decision will no doubt be appealed to in future trials. Precedent has been established for FV adherents or sympathizers. Like Lane, I’m praying for a “miracle” in October – because that’s what it would take at this point for the SJC to change course.

    For all of Leithart’s evident departures from Westminster, the one that matters most is his explicit rejection of sola fide: “Covenant faithfulness is the way of salvation, for the ‘doers of the law’ will be justified at the final judgment” (Prosecutor’s Brief, 8). Justification is the verdict of the Last Day brought forward. It is not merely a salve for my conscience in this life. It is the confidence that because of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection for me, I am presently and will be justified in the Last Day on the basis of His Cross and righteousness alone. I have passed from death to life, and will not come into judgment (i.e., condemnation; cf. Jn 5). Works of the justified are judged as the evident fruit of true faith and graciously rewarded (God graciously crowning His own works, soli Deo gloria). But these works are in no way the basis of my justification on Judgment Day. This is Justification 101, sola fide, the doctrine of the standing or falling church. If you believe works are part of your final justification on the Last Day, you should apologize to Rome for the Reformation which was mere semantics and so much ado about nothing. (Luther himself said he would have been fine with the pope, if only he didn’t war against the Gospel and thus show himself to be an antichrist.)

    To me, this is the smoking gun that Leithart is not merely coloring outside the lines of Westminster, but is indeed a “savage wolf teaching perverse things” (i.e., another gospel which is not another) to draw disciples after himself, away from the Good Shepherd and His Word of grace which alone is able to build us up and give us an everlasting inheritance. And I say with grief, I think the PNWP and the SJC have consequently failed in their duties as presbyters to “take heed to yourselves and the flock that is under your care… to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20) by failing to mark Leithart as a heretic re: JBFA.

  38. CD-Host said,

    August 15, 2013 at 10:27 am

    @Cris #23 —

    Recall that the northern church never took any disciplinary steps against those questioning or outright denying Christ’s virgin, etc. Can you say Auburn Affirmation?

    That’s just not true. The Auburn Affirmation was a reaction against a GA resolution denying ordination to people who denied any of the “five fundamentals” from the earlier battles over orthodoxy in the 1890’s:

    Inerrancy of the Scriptures
    The virgin birth (and the deity of Jesus)
    The doctrine of substitutionary atonement
    The bodily resurrection of Jesus
    The authenticity of Christ’s miracles

    So they most certainly were taking steps against the people who believed in the doctrines of the Auburn Affirmation, that was the entire reason for the Auburn Affirmation. When almost 1300 ministers stood up and said they would no longer exclude people based on denying one or more of the fundamentals that was when the discipline stopped.

    As an aside, there were actions taken against the liberals even after 1925. Pearl Buck was pressured to resign to pick a notable example when she did things like call the virgin birth a “noxious superstition”.

    I think a fair characterization of the resolution of the fundamentalist / modernist controversy was the moderates disciplined both the far left and the far right to try and hold things together. Machen and Buck were both out. The PCUSA wouldn’t tolerate strong attacks on liberals nor strong attacks on traditional christianity. The 1967 PCUSA confession that calls on ministers to be guided by the confessions rather than bound by them or openly discarding them represents the new consensus.

    A Pearl Buck who denied the the inspiration of the bible in any way not true of other religious texts and the historicity of the gospel miracles, including resurrection and virgin birth of Jesus, would be just as out of place in today’s PCUSA. The Re-imaging conference in 1993 I think proves this. When people proposed an openly ahistorical Christianity the PCUSA dropped their support and distanced themselves in no uncertain terms. That is to say even today the Auburn Affirmation is in not fully accepted and proponents subject to some discipline.

  39. Dave Sarafolean said,

    August 15, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I appreciate Jared’s analysis too. What’s troubling is that Leithart voluntarily came forward after the 2007 Report on Federal Vision theology was adopted by the PCA to report to his presbytery where his views differed from the Westminster standards. Clearly he knew that his differences were more than semantic. That PNW found otherwise calls into question the credibility of that court.

    I understand that there is no ‘double-jeopardy’ in the PCA (e.g. Leithart cannot be re-tried by the Standing Judicial Commission). I also understand that apparently, there is no constitutional way to re-visit the case (Note: I’m not holding my breath about the overtures sent to the SJC).

    So, where does that leave us? Do we tolerate courts that are unwilling to condemn erroneous views? Do we discipline such courts? Do we try to amend our Book of Church Order to make sure this never happens again? Or is it time to admit that the tent has gotten a little too big and just move on? I’m not advocating any particular point of view as much as just trying to get clarity.

  40. Doug Sowers said,

    August 15, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Jared, are you the same Jared that once defended FV? Or are you a different Jared? If you are the same Jared from four years ago, what changed your mind?

    Thanks in advance!

  41. Jared said,

    August 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

    No. I have never advocated nor defended FV. Leithart’s book “The Baptized Body” nearly kept me out of the PCA until reading the FV Study Report that convinced me the PCA rejected such nonsense. I’ve not changed my conclusion that Leithart’s Book is problematic and false in regards to justification and baptism.

    I blog occasionally here: http://deadtheologians.blogspot.com/

  42. Doug Sowers said,

    August 15, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Well, are you the same Jared who blogged here at Greenbaggins four or five years ago? I just looked back at some posts in 09 and there was a Jared (with red hair) who seemed to defend, or at least was sympathetic to FV.

    Are there two Jared’s?

    Thanks in advance!

  43. greenbaggins said,

    August 15, 2013 at 11:25 am

    It’s definitely a different Jared, Doug.

  44. Doug Sowers said,

    August 15, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Thanks Lane;

  45. Mark B. Hanson said,

    August 15, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Horace #36:

    One thing you say rang dangerous to me: “Dr Leithart’s teachings at many points do not conform to the usual and historic understanding of the Westminster Standards, which is what he has vowed that he believes and will uphold.”

    Now as a PCA RE, I answered in the affirmative to the following:

    “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 Session the change
    which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this
    ordination vow?” The TE takes a similar vow with regard to the Presbytery.

    I vowed that I received and adopted the Confession and Catechisms, not “the usual and historic understandings of the Westminster standards” as you would have it. During my training as an elder, our pastor was careful to touch on items that were under strong debate during the Westminster Assembly, and how the final words were sometimes shaped to allow diversity (e.g. regarding the imputation of the active obedience of Christ). So there is not at all points a univocal understanding – “infallible interpretation” if you like – of the WS, and there never was.

    I also know that, prior to my ordination, I explained to the Session of my church certain understandings I had about how to follow the Standards, and where I seemed to differ. After consideration, I was told that these were semantic differences, and not noncompliances. I had not differed on “fundamentals”. Sounds like what Peter Leithart did before his Presbytery, who reached the same conclusion.

    It is dangerous to assume an infallible interpretation of fallible (hence amendable) standards. We rightly chastise the Roman Catholic church for baptizing their traditions – do we not risk the same thing in some of the assumptions stated above about what the Westminster Standards must mean?

  46. Mark B. Hanson said,

    August 15, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Horace #36:

    Looking back over your entry, I see that I might have misread or misinterpreted it. But why bring in the words “usual and historic understanding” at all?

  47. Bob B said,

    August 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    @Dave 39
    You could do what I’ve been advocating this entire thread – submit to those you vowed to submit to, and their decision regarding the FV. What good is having leadership and courts if you don’t respect their decisions?

    The way I see it, it is either that, or remove yourself. Anything else is being divisive which goes against the purity and peace you all claim to be pursuing.

    All you who want to kick out the FV’s really need to examine yourselves more and see if your actions and opinions are more or less divisive than those of the FV. They have been tried and exonerated. Either accept that and move on, or move out.

    (So glad I’m not in the PCA).

  48. Horace said,

    August 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you Mark, and let me apologize for not crafting my sentence clearly enough…of course I meant that we take our vows concerning the Westminster Standards. I hope not many here misunderstood what my meaning was but I’m sorry if some did.

    I do understand the difference between semantics and substance. I also understand that some think the Westminster was crafted to allow a great deal of “diversity”. I personally think that is a terribly postmodern lens through which to view our standards, and my fear is that in doing so we cross the line between simply diverse interpretation to different interpretation. Nobody I know believes the Westminster is infallible but we all vow that it is the system of doctrine contained in the Bible. It is precise in what it says and the theological words used to say it. It is not perfect. But it most certainly does mean something and I would contend that it is not nearly as malleable as many in here would like to think. Does it really have enough room for paedocommunion? Women deacons? A union with Christ through baptism that includes the same benefits given the elect but which can all be lost if the baptized doesn’t continue in the faith? Really? Or perhaps today’s PCA would prefer to dismiss the WCF as too confining? Maybe it would be better served with the Apostles Creed and the New City Catechism? I see a lot more room for diversity there.

    Just out of curiosity though, are you comfortable with the range of teachings I mentioned above? Because after all, what we allow and what we teach/feed the sheep is what this post was originally about, not who wins or loses in a court or a combox. Grace to you.

  49. locirari said,

    August 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm


    I find your comment helpful. Besides your apt charge of postmodern fuzziness, I see two problems with the “big-tent-Westminster-Confession” notion. First, the precision of Westminster Standards speaks against it. Second, it’s too ambiguous. If the real point of the Standards is not what they themselves say but an undefined range of congenial interpretations (somewhere, ether-like, behind the words of the Standards) than the Standards themselves matter little. That, and there really isn’t a mechanism besides bare majority power to stop any exotic teaching from getting under the “Presbyterian” umbrella.

    I also find it the suggestion of a more minimalist approach interesting. What better way to have a broad church than to have less detailed creed? Another option is the writing of new confessions. That would most likely reveal some striking diversity on many points.

  50. Jim Johnson said,

    August 15, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Mark #45,
    You said, “Sounds like what Peter Leithart did before his Presbytery, who reached the same conclusion.” You are right, which does not imply the decision made by PNWP was a correct judgment.

    Instead, rather than the views of Leithart being judged as to their conformity to the WCF, the defense chose to falsely impugn the credentials of the primary witness (from outside the Presbytery), thereby receiving a friendly response from those representing their Presbytery.

    I have personal knowledge of one fine TE from this Presbytery, who had the audacity to file the first official complaint against the teaching of Leithart, who was conspired against and run out of his own church as a result of his concern for the sheep.

    I would like to know some particulars concerning your statement, “I explained to the Session of my church certain understandings I had about how to follow the Standards, and where I seemed to differ. After consideration, I was told that these were semantic differences, and not noncompliances. I had not differed on fundamentals.”

    Would it be fair to ask what these semantic differences were?

  51. August 16, 2013 at 8:15 am

    ..people who are concerned about the sheep tend to get lectured about how they’re not being charitable towards the teaching elders. This really ought to stop. We could turn the whole thing around and ask the question: what about charity towards those who are concerned about the sheep? What about not jumping on the 9th commandment as a knee-jerk reaction to cases of doctrinal commitment? How about assuming that such people are trying to ensure that the sheep aren’t getting poisoned?

    I find myself cheering Lane’s statement here. At the same time, I wonder whether there really is a commitment to consistently apply this principle across the board. Folks who have raised concerns about neo-2k theology have for years now been targeted with charges of 9th commandments violations, being uncharitable, etc. etc. Can we likewise ask that these “knee jerk” ought to stop and assume that such people are trying to protect the sheep?

    I suppose we shall see whether there really is a commitment to the principle or whether it just depends whose brotherhood is the subject of scrutiny.

  52. Mark B. Hanson said,

    August 16, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Jim #50:

    No. Let it be sufficient that no one in the church has ever filed a complaint against me.

    Of course, I stand firmly against discipline or punishment of anyone by a presbytery or church simply for filing a complaint. That is part of the way we are governed. Like whistleblowers, I believe complainants should have a degree of protection – they are following their conscience (one hopes!) And I loathe the political games that prevent us from hearing such complaints and dealing with them openly.

    Horace #48:

    I am not in favor of the teachings mentioned. However, whether or not I am comfortable with them doesn’t matter. What matters is, are those views considered within the range of acceptable interpretations of the WS by the PCA? If they are, I can either accept their proponents charitably and receive them as brothers, file a complaint, or separate from the PCA. Factions, pressure groups and the like seem to be (scripturally) clean out of bounds.

    Is there ever a point when I am required to accept the judgment of my fathers and brothers (and in many cases, betters) that my views are too narrow? That I need to be taught by them? That I am the weaker brother? Or must I be like one of those Baptists who believe that the truly sovereign thing is my own conscience?

  53. greenbaggins said,

    August 16, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Mark VDM, it is extremely unfortunate, imo, concerning the heat in the 2K discussion. These issues will not be resolved by either side getting heated up, but rather going back to Scripture and patiently doing the hard work of exegesis that is informed by good ST and HT.

    That being said, I have typically seen more heat coming from the critics of 2K than from 2K guys. Now, that could be explained as the critics’ view of the matter as 2K theology poisoning the sheep. In which case, I would hope 2K guys could see that and be patient with what comes their way.

    On the other hand, sometimes I see critics of 2K not acknowledging the range of positions out there. There is a spectrum. Darryl Hart’s positions are not identical to, say, David Van Drunen. I have a lot fewer problems with 2K theology, even radical 2K theology, than I have with the FV, because I do not see 2K theology attacking the gospel. I have difficulty in seeing even R2K theology as attacking the gospel. My own position is moderate. I see valid points made on both sides.

    FV theology does attack the gospel, because it attacks justification, and sola fide. Perhaps some critics might say that R2K attacks the gospel in sanctification. Perhaps, but I would need to see that spelled out a good deal more.

  54. August 16, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Lane, can you see how it looks like you just slipped into the very concern I raised?

  55. greenbaggins said,

    August 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Mark, I am not charging the critics with 9th commandment violations, nor am I charging them with being uncharitable. I actually thought I was being very careful to avoid that very thing. So no, I do not see how I just slipped into the very concern you mentioned.

  56. Frank Aderholdt said,

    August 16, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Wow, I’m kinda glad I haven’t participated in this discussion until now. Everyone’s ox has been gored. There are bloody victims lying all over the place, and a few headless corpses, too.

    As a Ruling Elder in the PCA, my only doctrinal concern with fellow elders is whether their views are in conformity with any reasonable, historical, generally accepted interpretation of the Westminster Standards. Determining the boundaries set by our Standards is not that difficult, brothers. I think most of us realize that. The Confession and Catechisms should no more be treated as a nose of wax, subject to the whims each individual, than the U. S. Constitution or the Bible itself. At the risk of oversimplification, I’m tempted to use John MacArthur’s principle of Biblical exegesis: “The meaning of the text is the text.” The moment we stretch our Standards to accommodate views that are clearly at variance with a plain reading of the text, is the moment we cease to be a confessional church in any meaningful sense of the term.

  57. CD-Host said,

    August 17, 2013 at 6:57 am

    @Frank #56 —

    my only doctrinal concern with fellow elders is whether their views are in conformity with any reasonable, historical, generally accepted interpretation of the Westminster Standards…

    I’m tempted to use John MacArthur’s principle of Biblical exegesis: “The meaning of the text is the text.” The moment we stretch our Standards to accommodate views that are clearly at variance with a plain reading of the text

    But then you run into a problem. Because John MacArthur certainly doesn’t mean that. For example we’ve been discussing perseverance in terms of Federal Vision. There are quite literally hundreds of verses that speak of righteousness as something that varies in time, and based on actions increases or decreases. MacArthur wants the reader to ignore the plain meaning and instead impose on these verses an interpretation based on ideology (TULIP) so as to read them in a way consistent with Westminster. Read them with respect to their plain meaning and TULIP is out the window.

    The Westminster Standards is supposed to represent Calvin is supposed to represent the bible. But neither of those is quite as clear cut as one would like. Under a “plain meaning” doctrine they often don’t. Leithart has a much stronger case if the argument is the plain meaning of the text and not the historical understanding of the text. Then it is an open argument.

    Of course one could argue that one who doesn’t believe that the Westminster represents the plain meaning of the Reformed tradition represents the plain meaning of the bible shouldn’t be a PCA elder but… that’s stronger than the current vow.

  58. dgwired said,

    August 17, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Mark, there you go again trying to equate FV with 2k. What you don’t seem to notice is that 2k has a lot to do with the magistrate and we have definite statements in the Reformed creeds on the duties of the civil magistrate. What is more, we have a record of the revisions of those views, and a history of Reformed churches taking different views of the magistrate and those revisions (Covenaters vs. OPC and PCA) and those different views not affecting fraternal relations.

    I understand you object to 2k but 2k has been around in the churches for a long time (1789). Your efforts to stir up trouble about an acceptable position are more akin to what FVer’s have done.

  59. August 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Sorry, I’m catching up here as I have been providentially hindered from participating most of this week. For those looking for my Scriptural critique of Leithart, simply search for his name on my blog. I took his writings to task years ago (2007-2008 if I recall correctly) from a Scriptural standpoint. That said, Lane’s testimony and brief for the PNWP trial is far more detailed and I highly recommend it.

    I testified in the Meyers trial as to how the Westminster Assembly did NOT leave room for those who denied the IAOC. I used standard accounts of the Assembly as well analysis of the Standards as a whole rather than focusing on one sentence or another. Dr. Barker, whom the defense called to refute my testimony, did not, in fact, refute my testimony but largely made statements that agreed with mine. Those that argue for the Standards being consensus documents misunderstand the nature and processes of the Assembly. Some votes won, some lost. Losers do not get to define “consensus”.

    The Standards are neither inspired nor a wax nose. They use common words, and words mean things. Most of the theological terms in the Standards are defined in the Standards themselves. There is a process for altering the Standards, but no FV adherent has had the courage to use that process. I specifically challenged Meyers years ago to do just that on Chapter 7, but he indicated that to do so would invite charges. That told me back then that he knew he was out of accord.

    What I see in the PCA, including the SJC these days, is a lack of courage amongst the evangellyfish to be decisive and take a firm stand against error. Everyone wants to be liked and seen as “tolerant” or “broad-minded”. TEs in particular don’t want to alienate or convict their fraternal buddies from seminary. I see this as a lack of courage of their convictions, or perhaps a lack of understanding of the implications of not taking a firm stand. In my line of work, lack of decisiveness within the stated standards usually costs lives. In theology, it merely splits denominations, shears the sheep, and the evangellyfish go home thinking that they are the heroes of a mythical middle ground.

  60. p duggie said,

    August 18, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Is the institution that the sheep find themselves in inhabited by the Holy Spirit? If it is, then the sheep will hear his voice.

    And if the institution is not inhabited by the Holy Spirit?

    Its all a question of whether the visible church is inhabited by the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 would seem to indicate it is. I’m not sure why anyone would deny that.

  61. August 19, 2013 at 12:06 am

    […] the Presbyterian Church in America and is pastor of Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Winnsboro, S.C. This article first appeared on his blog and is used with […]

  62. August 19, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Mark, I am not charging the critics with 9th commandment violations, nor am I charging them with being uncharitable

    With all due respect, Lane, you just sided with your neo-2k friends in assessing neo-2k critics as bringing “more heat” to the debate and failing to recognize differences among its leaders. This certainly posits a general lack of 9th commandment charity and understanding, both of which are highly dubious assertions.

  63. August 19, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Well, As the pendulum swing, so do the days of our lives. LOL.

    MVDV is correct Lane. A lot of the Klinean R2K tends toward a truncated Gospel over emphasizing the extrinsic while neglecting the intrinsic aspects which tends towards antinomianism. Even DGH won’t speak about WCF 7.5,6 because I believe he doesn’t adhere to the confession on that point. Neither do a lot of the Klineans. The substance of the Old and New as being one are denied. It is reticent of the Lee Iron’s precedent set by the OPC Courts who have not exonerated his views and still stand by its judgment even though the PCA took up jurisdiction and accepted him. As I said, “As the pendulum swings.”

    In what world has more heat been generated by non-R2kers thatn R2Kers? Clark, Horton, Hart, Tuininga (mildly R2K) and their followers have made a confessional mess of things.

    I for one appreciate the post you made Lane and applaud it.

    Doug Sowers, If I am not mistaken, Leithart was exonerated but not fully. Only concerning the things that the last SJC had to work with and that was very limited from what I understand. I suspect the whole story is yet to come out. BTW, this isn’t just about Leithart. There are more situations that are being worked on and I have noticed a major removal of past posts off blogs that have taken place in the past few years. Some people are ducking and hiding things. Mono-Covenantalism and the strange sacramentology the FV propagates is not Biblical Confessional Christianity.

    Doug we have our agreements. We have our disagreements. I think the Standards spell things out quite well and there be some who do not like some things in our Standards. That is okay. I get along well with my Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, and even Pentecostal / Charismatic friends. If someone (an Elder) is going to vow to uphold a position and diverts from it then they are not pursuing the purity and peace of the Church. The Sheep should expect better from their Elders. They are called to trust, submit, and obey them. And yes, that goes all the way up. But as we have seen in the past (PCUSA) even the Presbyters can grow quite lax into apostasy by ordaining men who do not believe in the diety of Christ. The slop is slippery once you step out onto it sometimes..

  64. August 19, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Your efforts to stir up trouble about an acceptable position are more akin to what FVer’s have done.

    The FV folks always claimed their critics– such as Lane– were “stirring up trouble about an acceptable position”.

    Thanks for illustrating my point, Darryl.

  65. Greg said,

    August 19, 2013 at 10:10 am

    @60 As has been repeatedly pointed out by others, this is about whether or not the FV proponents are out of accord with Standards. You assert something that is contrary to the Standards. The reprobate within the visible church are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

  66. dgwired said,

    August 19, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Randy, I haven’t explained my views on the Confession of Faith to you because you have been a gnat about it.

  67. dgwired said,

    August 19, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Mark, you still haven’t acknowledged that the Confessions were revised on the civil magistrate, or that a church’s teaching on the civil magistrate was a matter for fraternal relations. Just look at the harmony between the OPC and the RPCNA despite having very different views of the magistrate.

    You are the one trying to stir up trouble.

  68. August 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Darryl, you know better wrt to our prior discussions on the confessions, but if you want to keep calling plays from the FV playbook, be my guest.

  69. CD-Host said,

    August 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    @rpcnacovenanter #62

    I’m genuinely ignorant of the argument here. How does WCF 7.5,6 indicate that the Reformed are required to have a secular state use a system of penalties and rewards to enforce Christian laws on non-believers? I could see an argument for say 23.3 but that was substantially weakened by the Savoy Declaration in a little over a decade. But I don’t see it for 7.5,6

  70. August 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    This is easy Darryl. Do you affirm the same things Dr. Clark affirms?

    Biblical / Exegetical section…
    13. The Mosaic covenant was not renewed under Christ, but the Abrahamic covenant was.

    16. With regard to the land promise, the Mosaic covenant was, mutandis, for pedagogical reasons (Galatians 3:23-4:7), a republication of the Adamic covenant of works.

    17. With regard to justification and salvation, the Mosaic covenant was an administration of the covenant of grace.

    18. The Israelites were given the land and kept it by grace (2 Kings 13:23) but were expelled for failure to keep a temporary, typical, pedagogical, covenant of works (Genesis 12:7; Exodus 6:4; Deuteronomy 29:19-29; 2 Kings 17:6-7; Ezekiel 17).

    19. The covenant of grace, initiated in history after the fall, was in its antepenultimate state under Adam, Noah, and Abraham, its penultimate state under the New Covenant administration and shall reach its ultimate (eschatological) state in the consummation.

    (Notice which Covenant is missing above Darryl? The Mosaic.)

    20. The term “Old Covenant” as used in Scripture refers to the Mosaic epoch not every epoch before the incarnation nor to all of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures indiscriminately.

    21. The New Covenant is new relative to Moses, not Abraham.

    This sounds like the latter Kline and what Lee Iron’s was propogating concerning the Substance of the Old and New Covenants.

    I am only a gnat to you because you might not be able to fit through the strainer and I can pass through it. That strainer being the Confession you supposedly adhere to. If I remember correctly you were the one who mentioned WCF 7.5,6 on Dr. Kloosterman’s blog and then refused to give account for your use of it when I asked you about it.

    I know us pesky gnats can pass through the strainer as you try to swat this away but it aint going away Darryl. Even the OPC PNW is dealing with it again. http://theaquilareport.com/confusion-in-the-camp-merit-and-reformed-theology/

  71. August 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    […] What About the Sheep? (greenbaggins.wordpress.com) […]

  72. August 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm


    We are speaking about the Federal Vision and the Substance of the Old and New Covenants additionally now. Was the Mosaic Covenant purely an administration of the Covenant of Grace as the New Covenant is? The Divine’s drafted the WCF as though it was. I believe modern propagation’s of the Republication issue miss the point and have swung the pendulum of reaction too far away from the scriptures and the Confessions in reaction to the Federal Vision when they didn’t need to. And that is also partly why Leithart was able to obfuscate and claim some orthodoxy. He just refuted some of the Klinean (or Minority views) of those who hold to a more Lutheran (not necessarily Luther) view of the Mosaic Covenant.

    If you are interested I have written a bit on the Mosaic Covenant and have documented some of our Divines as they speak to the issue at hand. .


  73. Cris A. Dickason said,

    August 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    @ 42 Doug asks “Are there two Jareds?”

    JARED – stats drawn from US Census Bureau
    Current Male population in US is 151.4 millions

    Jared ranks # 226 most popular in the US;
    occurring 0.071 %
    I take that to equal little over 1 million Jareds

    Other Male Names with 5 Letters
    Name Rank Percent
    Brian #20 0.736% > 1.1 million
    James #1 3.318% > 5 million
    David #6 2.363% > 3.5 million

    If this is over the top, let the moderators rebuke and suppress me. But I couldn’t personally resist the fact-finding. And then I must needs share with y’all.

    Precious few of us dudes with the “h” removed (cf #14 above)

  74. dgwired said,

    August 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Mark, so you and Dr. Kloosterman were vigorous in your opposition to FV? I’ve been on record. http://deregnochristi.org/2007/10/04/the-sufficiency-of-christ/ for starters. But keep trying to smear the guilt. Not even the FVer’s do that.

  75. CD-Host said,

    August 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm


    We are definitely talking past one another. I looked at your links and they seem to be about the relationship between the Mosaic and the Covenant of Grace. In other words they are mostly theological they don’t deal with the political issues that Darryl deals with at all. You had made a fairly specific claim about WCF 7.5,6; that I didn’t follow and I was just asking what do those two verses have to do with a state using political power to enforce Christianity?

    I agree with you that the popularity of two-kingdoms may be in reaction to Federal Visionaries speaking openly about what theonomy would mean. Leithart FWIW on this issue doesn’t strike me as anything more than an honest reconstructionist. While he has no plausible theory of how a Christian state would be achieved, he at least is fully willing to admit what a Christian state would like like even in its most ideal form: 4th century Rome. He doesn’t blink that what’s he is advocating for is state churches with citizenship in the state tied to membership in the church fully empowered to persecute religious dissent.

    Theonomists have generally talked about this system after a massive shift in people’s beliefs. A theonomist system that exists in a country that is 90% conservative reformed which might as well be a conservation about a government on Jupiter. The Federal Visionaries, have been willing to say that a theonomist government would look a lot like what Christian states of the middle ages looked like and I think that’s caused a reaction against. The conservation has gotten more a bit more serious with the injection of trying to discuss what the shape of religious government is.

  76. Bob B said,

    August 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    @73 CD-Host
    I would love a fleshed out discussion on the views of theonomists at some point (maybe this thread isn’t the right thread). Suffice it to say, I have a real issue with it.

    I believe that ideas (similar to products and services) compete in the marketplace of our minds. Truth eventually ‘wins’, in that it draws more people to it over falsehood. Most people do not like being deceived, and as such, they are drawn towards true things. Christianity, in so far it expresses truth will win in more peoples minds in this open marketplace.

    Theonomy involves using coercion (the state/church) in an attempt to limit non-truth from this ‘open’ market… however, doing so is itself a distortion of the market. Just as our current state disturbs markets through subsidies / taxes / regulation – picking winners and loosers based on political connection – so too a theonomy would pick the winners and loosers in ideas.

    The question is weather it is ‘right’ for a theonomy to pick Christianity as the winner. I don’t believe it is (even in a society that is 90% christian) just as I disagree with the Saudi’s picking the muslim faith in their 90% muslim country.

    Presumably Christianity would do quite well in the open marketplace of ideas (being the fount of all truth), why after much success would we want to change that marketplace by mixing the state with it? The truth of Christianity must be discovered in a voluntary environment, not at the point of a sword.

  77. p duggie said,

    August 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    @64 Greg: Thanks for being one to actually address my post, but I think that was a pretty non-responsive answer. I’m not asking about the HS inhabiting individuals. I’m asking whether the HS inhabits the institution of the visible church. Acts 2, the visible church is indwelt by the Spirit, visibly. And the general picture of the HS indwelling is corporate (a temple for the holy Spirit in the church) not so much individual as well)

    So do you mind answering my actual question? Does the Holy Spirit indwell the visible church?

  78. August 19, 2013 at 5:32 pm


    Lane stated that, “FV attacks the Gospel. Perhaps some might say that R2K attacks the Gospel in Sanctification.” Well, Precisely! And Mark Van Der Molen just wants to know if Lane is going to apply the same principle he is advocating above to other areas of great concern.

    I have seen these discussions and know they carry weight. Lane should also. We both have been participating on the same theological forum for many many years now. And the two issues seem to have been running side by side even though one has been obscured. They have a common denominater. Law and Grace. Dichotomy vs. Distinction. And those are tied up in the debate about the Mosaic Covenant.

    BTW, I am not a Theonomist. Just ask my friends and those who I discuss the issue with. I do believe in the General Equity of the Moral Law as spelled out by Sherman Isbell here. This is also a good refutation of Theonomy.

    Now concerning DGH. Mark did not equivacate FV with R2k on a one on one basis. That is DGH’s obfuscation and an FV tactic to move away from a topic discussed. I have been discussing NPP / FV for longer than Darryl if his first record of being against it is October of 2007. LOL. You can ask Lane. Mark was only asking if Lane was going to apply his same principle in the OP to other areas of concern. That is not necessarily equivacaton as DGH wanted to accuse Mark of in post 58, “Mark, there you go again trying to equate FV with 2k.” At the sametime when Mark speaks and Darryl speaks Darryl usually doesn’t listen anyways and obfuscates topically. I think I know why but that is another matter. Clearly the 2k Darryl holds to is different than the Kingdom theology of Mark but Mark holds to the different responsibilities of the two realms of civil Government and the Church also. It just matters where their authority and what those authorities derive their basis from. They disagree. But that isn’t at all the matter in this discussion. DGH took it there by his obfucation and misapplication of trying to get others to misread Mark’s point. No biggy. DGH is DGH and we all know what DGH is like.

    Now if you read the beginning of my first post I start off talking about a truncated gospel and how Mark is correct. I was building on Lane’s statement and then just rounded off on DGH because he obfuscated and I want to know if he holds to that same truncated view based upon a root problem that is common with Klineans.

    DGHart seems to just want to obfuscate and we probably shouldn’t pay him any attention anyways as he doesn’t want to give an account for what he believes. JMHO.

  79. August 19, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Darryl, the rules are three whiffs on the point and you’re out, and then you grab the bench.

  80. August 19, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    BTW, I do believe it is about the sheep as Lane posted above. You can read that on the Aquila Report also. http://theaquilareport.com/is-the-pca-liberal-or-just-going-off-the-rails-a-bit/

  81. August 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    “What I see in the PCA, including the SJC these days, is a lack of courage amongst the evangellyfish to be decisive and take a firm stand against error. Everyone wants to be liked and seen as “tolerant” or “broad-minded”

    Bob, I know differently and if I were you I would be very cautious.

  82. August 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I want to make one thing clear. I am not an FV proponent and I abhor this teaching. At the same time let me remind most of us Internet guys that Pastors and Elders are not internet guys who give a rip about Greenbaggins or Reformedmusings even though I believe there is some really good valuable information on these blogs. Most TE’s and RE’s do care about doctrine. I believe the GA that made endorsed the FV Report proves this. Yes, they get preliminary reports and are supposed to study them indepth. Ever seen those reports? I bet most guys just skim them as Congress skims new law. But a thorough reading and understanding doesn’t always happen as I have seen and experienced. They don’t read the most recent books maybe and they may have problems with things that are being promoted now days but I also think a lot of them are ill equipped today due to their real functionality and callings. They are ministering to sinners who are really in need and it just weighs on them. Yes, Orthopaxy leads to Orthodoxy. LOL. I said that in jest. Many think this on certain levels when we know Orthodoxy leads to Orthopraxy. Ever hear Chuch Colson quote a supposed St. Francis quote, “Preach the Gospel all the time, if necessary use words.”

    Maybe their needs to be a better way to communicate upcoming situations that really adequately address these situations.

  83. Friend for Life said,

    August 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Excuse me, gentlemen, but I really must jump in here and ask those painting theonomists with the broad FV brush to immediately stop. I and many others have expressed our disgust at FV and its proponents. Thanks. Now please continue as the discussion here is interesting and I am gleaning much from y’all. :)

  84. dgwired said,

    August 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Mark, I don’t believe that is your call, but with the Lordship of Christ you seem to think you run everything.

  85. August 19, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    DGH. You need to come down and see as Andrew told Peter. Come down and share a bowl of black cavendish and and a scottish ale with me. Your wife would encourage it. After all she told you that you have been the instigator in some of our discussions. I would relish in it as you would and we would have some good times. I will ask Mark to provide some of his award winning wine if you want. I am sure you can run circles around me historically and I would love that. I really would.

  86. Ron Henzel said,

    August 20, 2013 at 6:49 am

    “The FV folks always claimed their critics– such as Lane– were “stirring up trouble about an acceptable position”

    As did the Amyraldians before them, and as did the Arminians before them.

  87. Jason Loh said,

    August 20, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Dear Bob re#6,

    Please do not associate FV with Lutheranism. They are NOT the same, and especially not with Luther.

    Apostasy in confessional Lutheranism is a MYSTERY, not down to lack of perseverance or what-ever. This is textbook theology in confessional Lutheranism. In so far as preaching is concerned, the flock is urged always to look to Christ ALONE. This is why for confessional Lutheranism, sanctification (as much as justification) is *wholly* MONERGISTIC. One therefore do not exercise faith and obedience – which Lutherans DISTINGUISH – as part of sanctification. Rather faith as *gift* IS sanctification and obedience is the effect of sanctification played out in vocation. The 3rd use of the Law is not abused as in FV as Spirit-driven righteousness but rather the RESPONSE to sanctification.

    For Luther the man himself, he would rebuke the FV for this: “You ignoramuses! Your intention which is pastoral I applaud but I deplore your going about it. You see, you’re supposed to put on TWO visions, NOT one. IOW, when facing the congregation you MUST wear two types of glasses or whatever you choose to call these.

    The first is theology as systematics; the second is proclamation. How you “SEE” your congregation with either one is NOT the same. With one, you’re dealing in abstraction – classes of people who are for all intents and purposes nameless. In the other one, you are RELATING to persons … persons whom you’ve baptised thereby joining the names of human persons with the Name of the Divine Persons.

    By your act of distorting Reformed theology, you’re giving no succour or comfort at all to parents in the pastoral setting. Either way, the certainty of salvation is undermined.

    I know the same problematic exists in Lutheran Orthodoxy in terms of CONFLATING theology and proclamation. But at least they are CONSISTENT – that is proclamation in Lutheranism is consistent with the historic theology as embodied by the Book of Concord. But you’re not. You’re supposed to be REFORMED!

    And you’ve made things worse by conflating faith and obedience and introducing initial and final justification – both of which are anathemas to the Reformation itself!”

  88. p duggie said,

    August 20, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Jason Loh: “Apostasy in confessional Lutheranism is a MYSTERY, not down to lack of perseverance or what-ever. This is textbook theology in confessional Lutheranism. In so far as preaching is concerned, the flock is urged always to look to Christ ALONE. This is why for confessional Lutheranism, sanctification (as much as justification) is *wholly* MONERGISTIC. One therefore do not exercise faith and obedience – which Lutherans DISTINGUISH – as part of sanctification.”

    Since, in calvinism, sanctification is definitely NOT wholly monergistic, that’s the rub. Lesser FV lights might not see the issue, but Leithart, for instance, is pretty clear that even though sanctification is synergistic, it operates by looking outward to Jesus (see next post)

    “IOW, when facing the congregation you MUST wear two types of glasses or whatever you choose to call these.

    The first is theology as systematics; the second is proclamation. How you “SEE” your congregation with either one is NOT the same. With one, you’re dealing in abstraction – classes of people who are for all intents and purposes nameless. In the other one, you are RELATING to persons … persons whom you’ve baptised thereby joining the names of human persons with the Name of the Divine Persons.”

    That’s pretty much what the FV is doing with systematic election and covenantal election: all the baptized in the covenant, head for head, have their names joined with the name of the divine persons.

  89. p duggie said,

    August 20, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Jason: Any objection to this?

    Troubled parishioner: I know that God is utterly reliable. He always keeps his promises. I just don’t know if the promises are for me.

    Pastor: But you hear the absolution every week, right?

    TP: Sure, but how do I know that God is talking to me?

    Pastor: You hear the absolution, right?

    TP: Yes.

    Pastor: That’s God’s word.

    TP: Sure, but how do I know God is talking to me?

    Pastor: You heard it. That means he’s talking to you. Believe what he says. Believe that He has forgiven you, and live your life as if you believed it. Besides, you’ve been baptized.

    TP: Yeah, but a lot of people are baptized and don’t believe.

    Pastor: Exactly.

    TP: Then how can baptism be any help here?

    Pastor: Your question is whether God had ever made promises to you personally. I’m saying there is absolutely no room for doubt on that point, since you were baptized. You received God’s mark and promise in baptism, not somebody else, not people in general. God promised to be your God. Questioning whether you ever received the promise is simply an act of unbelief. Suppose you get an invitation in the mail to an exclusive party at the governor’s mansion. You can’t believe that the governor would invite you, but the invitation is official. Refusing to go because you’re not sure the governor really wants you is not healthy skepticism. It’s distrust about the governor’s motives. If the invitation is real, then you received an invitation and the governor wants you to show up.

    TP: But how can I know that I’m not one of those baptized people burning in hell?

    Pastor: God promised you all blessings in Christ when you were baptized. You are supposed to believe God’s promises, and He keeps His promises.

    TP: But he made promises to the people burning in hell too. What happened to them? Didn’t God keep His promises to them?

    Pastor: God did make promises to them, but they didn’t trust the promises they were given. God told them they belonged to Him, but they said, “No, we don’t want to belong to you. We want to be our own men.” God said, “I forgive you sins,” but they said “We’d rather wallow in our guilt.” God said, “I offer you all blessings in Christ. Trust me, and you’ll have them,” but they said “We think we can find a better deal elsewhere.” They insulted God with their every breath, and they condemned themselves and were condemned to hell because they refused to trust the utterly trustworthy God.

    TP: But how can I know that I’m not going to end up like that?

    Pastor: You didn’t listen. You can know you won’t end up like that if you trust God. That’s what trusting God means. Trusting God means trusting Him to rescue you from hell, and from the various self-deceptions that lead to hell.

    TP: But I know some people who said they were Christians, and then later stopped going to church, said they couldn’t believe anymore.

    Pastor: Right. True faith is persevering faith. Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.

    TP: So, how can I know for sure that I’m not going to end up like that? How can I know that my faith is not self-deceived or temporary?

    Pastor: The same way you know that you’re going to be delivered from hell, raised from the dead to a glorified body, live in fellowship with God forever. You trust God to save you from the vacillation of your own faith, you pray for a faith that lives and continues to the end, and you trust God to give you that gift. Look, it sounds as if you’re looking for some kind of knowledge that is different from, but more certain than, trust in God’s promises. You’re not content with believing the promises of God, but want to step outside your faith and examine it like some precious gem, for genuineness. But there’s nothing more certain than God’s promises, and there is no more certain kind of human knowledge than faith in those promises. Don’t try an end-run around faith; don’t look for a backdoor that will ensure you can get it. The front door’s open, God has invited you in; trust him and join the party.

    TP: OK, I think I got it: God promises to save those who trust Him; I reflect on myself and see that I trust Him; therefore, I’m assured that I’ll be saved.

    Pastor: That middle step is not a problem by itself, but it could lead to problems. You shouldn’t seek assurance in your own faith. Assurance is an aspect or a quality of faith, and saying that you gain assurance by looking at your faith is saying that you are assurance by your own assurance and that you are putting your trust in your act of trust. You don’t put your faith in faith; you put faith in God and His promises. Glancing at yourself in the mirror is OK, but don’t stay fixed at the mirror, asking whether your faith looks sufficiently strong. Glance in the mirror, but spend your time looking at, meditating on, hearing the promises that God has given in His word and in His sacraments. Hear them and believe them. And relax and have a beer.

  90. Jason Loh said,

    August 20, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Dear PDuggie,

    You wrote:
    “Since, in calvinism, sanctification is definitely NOT wholly monergistic, that’s the rub. Lesser FV lights might not see the issue, but Leithart, for instance, is pretty clear that even though sanctification is synergistic, it operates by looking outward to Jesus (see next post).”

    That is contradicted by the theology of the FV, namely that one must obey to be able to stand on Judgment Day. As it is, FV and confessional Lutheranism are poles apart.

    “That’s pretty much what the FV is doing with systematic election and covenantal election: all the baptized in the covenant, head for head, have their names joined with the name of the divine persons.”

    Not at all. They conflate or undifferentiated or flatten out the differences between systematic theology and proclamation. In Reformed theology, only the elect are united to Christ. The non-elect are outside of Christ. One cannot then for the sake pastoral concern come up with a THEOLOGY that says that the non-elect are united to Christ for a while.

    In other words, what one talk in the abstract is DIFFERENT in what one says to the congregation in personal terms. Both are different and must be distinguished and yet at the same time dynamically complement one another. Meaning to say, the comfort or assurance that derives from election must be preserved in BOTH cases (theology and proclamation). That’s the whole point.

  91. Jason Loh said,

    August 20, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Yes, I do have an objection to you last post. It’s NOT FV, that’s for sure.

  92. Jason Loh said,

    August 20, 2013 at 11:47 am

    What the FV should do is NOT to reform Reformed *theology* (because that is they are doing) without at the same time undermining their subscription. IOW, FV should not have insisted on softening the particularism of Reformed theology …

    But precisely to reform Reformed PREACHING – turning it into proclamation – so that the bold move is undertaken where the insistence is made that the abstraction of election is proclaimed in the here and now, in the living present, in the reality and concreteness of time and space, that YOU are the elect.

    God works forgiveness in those that believe; you believe, your sins are forgiven – whereby both the abstract objectivity of systematic theology is preserved and at the same time the so-called personalistic subjectivity of preaching is APPLIED to the Christian considered in a pastoral setting.

    So that the third person discourse is translated into a first person discourse without subverting or undermining EITHER.

    What the FV did is unacceptable and pure treachery. You have to understand the Reformation of Martin Luther was first of all, before anything else, the Reformation of PREACHING. Unconditional forgiveness which counterpart is faith alone where before the priest only declared what was supposed to have been the interior movement of the heart/ soul.

    The Word does what it says or in Reformed systematic theology, God is sovereign and none can resist His will.

  93. CD-Host said,

    August 20, 2013 at 11:53 am

    @Bob #76 —

    I agree with what you wrote. And continuing with your metaphor there is also distortion in both directions. Once churches exercise genuinely earthly power people attracted to earthly power with little interest in religion are attracted to church office. They begin to shift doctrines and traditions in ways that enhance the secular power of church officers and thereby further distort the religion.

    The marketplace of ideas moves from the public realm to the back-rooms within the church itself. One need only look at Christian history to see what political power did to the Catholic church, or the Church of England. One need only look at what political power is doing to Islam today to see the same effect but worse.

  94. p duggie said,

    August 20, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    The dialog was from Peter Leithart’s blog. It is FV, :)

  95. p duggie said,

    August 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Jason: “That is contradicted by the theology of the FV, namely that one must obey to be able to stand on Judgment Day. As it is, FV and confessional Lutheranism are poles apart.”

    Whether the FV actually says this is disputable*, but that reformed theology in general has been poles apart from Lutheran idea that it it unsound to ever speak of the necessity of good works for salvation (not justification). The number of reformed worthies who talk about good works as the necessary concomitant (though not cause) of salvation, the path to eternal life, the way set out for those who are justified to receive eternal life, and so on is innumerable. See Patrick Ramsey for evidence.

    * I think, rather, they are in line with that tradition as stated above: Those who stand on judgement day will be those that have obeyed. The obedience is not the basis of their standing. Also, you have to make the distinction that the Judgement Day is more about universeward recognition of God’s people than anything to do with acceptance of ambiguous people. Public vindication before the powers, not private vindication. Clearly many people hold that he FV teaches otherwise, but since you are even suprised that the quoted dialoge could have come from an FV man, perhaps you have been misled as to FV doctrine?

  96. Sean Gerety said,

    August 20, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    #14 @ Bob. IMO you miss the point and the FV are not Christians and should not be teachers in ANY church. Perhaps if those who deny the Gospel weren’t called “brothers” (as they were in the PCA FV report) then perhaps the mushy middle could have been rallied and the FV would not have won (see Lane’s previous post).

  97. truthunites said,

    August 20, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    “Mark was only asking if Lane was going to apply his same principle in the OP to other areas of concern.”

    OP: What About the Sheep?

    Indeed. R2K harms the sheep.

  98. locirari said,

    August 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    R2K harms the sheep.

    This could be instructive. Please tell. How so?

    P.S. Who put the “R” in R2K?

  99. truthunites said,

    August 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    locirari: “R2K harms the sheep.

    This could be instructive. Please tell. How so?”

    Good question. Here’s a recent post that’s the introductory article of a multi-part series about R2K:

    What is “Two Kingdoms” Theology and Why Does It Matter


    o However, the more radical “Two Kingdoms” people believe something much worse, namely, that once a question has become “politicized,” Christians ought to avoid preaching on it because it will identify the church with a political party or a political position and drive people away.

    The key question ought not to be whether we will offend people and drive them away, but whether we will offend God and be driven by Him out of His presence regardless of how many people fill the pews of our churches. God has strong words to false prophets who seek to please people rather than pleasing God.

    What we must ask is whether God has spoken to an issue in His Word. If God has spoken, the church must speak. If God has not spoken, the church must stay silent.

    o With all due respect to people who call themselves conservative Calvinists — if the trumpet of the church gives an uncertain sound on murdering babies in the womb and advocating official state recognition of sodomy through marriage out of fear that we will offend people, the church has lapsed into cowardice.

    God will not look kindly on cowardice in the church.

  100. Zrim said,

    August 20, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Mark and TUAD, what are you talking about? Just recently I had a civil, orderly, and judicious sit down with our URC elder and pastor about the Right-to-Life petition circulated in our church on a Lord’s Day. Despite whatever differences, my own formal expressed concerns were received with charity and thanksgiving, even a promise to continue the conversation with the consistory. Maybe it had something to do with the concern for how baptizing particular politics has the upshot of hiding and obscuring the gospel from the sheep who might have other political views still wandering outside the church. Or maybe also with the point about there being a difference between politics and morality, such that while a political petition is inappropriate because it can deflect sheep and is a fault of the church, preaching the moral evil of abortion from the pulpit is appropriate and any offense that gives is the hearer’s problem. Or maybe how since our pulpit is exemplary in making that distinction, it might be inconsistent to allow a petition to be circulated after the service.

    Who knows. But it was a good conversation. And I’ve yet to hear any hyperventilating about sheep danger even from those who see things differently. And nary a word about the ninth. Good thing the real world (church?) isn’t a blog.

  101. CD-Host said,

    August 20, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    @Tuad #98

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard a 2K person advocate that the church can’t speak on issues just because there is a secular debate. I think you are debating a non-existant straw-man position.

  102. Tim Bayly said,

    August 21, 2013 at 10:55 am

    @Sowers #28:

    >>perhaps century’s to come…

    Oh my…

  103. August 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm


    I know specifically where a Prominent Pastor was invited to go pray at a City counsel meeting and was chastised by word by a Prof for considering it because it confused the Two Kingdoms. I guess it depends on the conversations you have participated in. Maybe that is apples and oranges but the truth of the matter is there.

  104. truthunites said,

    August 21, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Zrim, #99: “… preaching the moral evil of abortion from the pulpit is appropriate and any offense that gives is the hearer’s problem.”

    Does the following sermon by Pastor David Bayly fall within the “approved guidelines” and boundaries of the R2K doctrine espoused by yourself, DG Hart, David Van Drunen, et al?

    A Sermon for the President–and for the People of God


    o “And in this regard I call on us to declare and President Obama to hear the Word of God.

    ◦ President Obama, you have promised not to make abortion a litmus test in nominating judges to the Supreme Court. The King of kings, Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, however, has declared the murder of innocents a high sin, a sin so vile that even after Manasseh repents of his butchery of the innocent and is followed by the righteous Josiah, God will not turn back his judgment on Judah. President Obama, you are not the first American political leader to embrace this slaughter. Others have gone before you in this. Others bear equal or greater responsibility. But you are president today. And you are the leader of a nation which is at war against God in this, President Obama. We have rejected the Word of God and the Lordship of Christ in this matter. You must oppose abortion in obedience to the King of kings for whom the murder of innocents is indeed a litmus test of righteous authority.”

    o “I call on you, President Obama, to do today what you must certainly do one day. Repent in accord with the Word of God. Turn in obedience to your King. Bow before Him. Kiss the Son and seek His mercy. His promises of forgiveness and salvation are for you as much as for those you rule over.”


  105. truthunites said,

    August 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Zrim, does the following communication by a Pastor to his congregation of sheep fall within the “approved guidelines” and boundaries of the R2K doctrine espoused by you, DG Hart, David Van Drunen, et al?

    The Summit Church and the Marriage Amendment


    o “So, I encourage you go out and vote in support of this amendment this Tuesday. I want you to do so as an act of service and love for our community.

    After having studied the issues surrounding the amendment, I am comfortable with supporting it and encourage you to, but I’ll leave that ultimately to you and your conscience.”

    Zrim, after having read both Pastor Bayly’s and Pastor Greear’s pastoral communications to their sheep on abortion and gay marriage, do their pulpit and pastoral communications (which are public) fall within approval and acceptance by the R2K doctrine espoused by you, DG Hart, David Van Drunen, et al?

  106. August 21, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    This post is not about 1K vs. 2K. Please discontinue all discussion on that topic under this post. There are previous posts on this issue that will happily entertain your comments on the subject.

  107. Zrim said,

    August 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    TUAD, the point wasn’t to rehash this particular discussion. It was simply to say that your bloated blog thesis (and Mark’s) that 2k harms sheep just isn’t the reality I encounter among real believers, even those that might be inclined to affirm so-called sermons that reprimand civil authorities over a hobby-horse issue.

  108. David Meyer said,

    August 22, 2013 at 8:43 am

    In all of this, who gets forgotten? The sheep! If there is false doctrine being promulgated in one of our churches, it is the sheep who are getting poisoned. If we would remember the sheep in cases of doctrinal discipline of teaching elders, we would be much less likely to take things personally, and we would be much more diligent about following through, because of the terrible consequences of allowing sheep to be poisoned.

    God bless you sir for remembering us. I say ‘us’ because I am one of those sheep who has not been to seminary and cannot follow the discussions about the FV with the same care and understanding as the rest of you who are seminarians and elders, etc. And like you, (and unlike at least one of the commenters here) I think our main concern should be with heresy, and the way to combat it is not to say “oh well, other Christians have believed and do believe in baptismal regeneration, so what’s the big deal?” Well, the big deal is that it is either right or wrong, and it could possibly be a heresy to believe it or to disbelieve it. That is the biggest deal on the planet for a father sheep in the pew trying to teach his little lambs the truth of Christ! So I want to say that you are right Lane, on this first point.
    On the second point about “following through” and dealing with the heresy, I think the motive is true, but this is where you (and Reformed theology) lost me (literally). Not with the rooting out of heresy, which I was and am zealous for and see as integral to the mission of the Church, but in the credentials of the ones who do the rooting out. Please see it from my perspective: I was and am a husband and father of 5 sitting with the rest of the sheep trying to discern who is right and who is wrong in the PCA with the FV stuff. I didn’t really have a solid horse in the race, and the ‘leanings’ I had towards the FV I was totally prepared to give up In the face of Church authority. The only problem… which authority? Even if the 4000+ elders in the PCA were 100% agreed on the FV, should that settle the issue for the man in the pew? No. Because it is entirely possible for them to all be 100% wrong and for the CREC to be right. So which elders are right (PCA or CREC)? When I asked them, and if I ask you, your answer will basically be that I need to search the scripture and figure out who is right… the exact thing that I know the Church should not be telling me to do. Jesus said “he who listens to you listens to me”. Whoever the ‘you’ is referring to is the shepherd who the sheep should be listening to. And if the ones claiming to be the that shepherd (the PCA or CREC elders) disagree with each other, have the same claim to authority, and both tell me that in the end it is up to me to search the scripture, which is something they are more qualified to do than I am, then where is the authority?
    I am sure many will have issues with what I say here and even desire to mock me and call me stupid (used to it from the educated Reformed class at this point, btw) for seeing the whole thing as a shell game played in a house of cards, but that is what this sheep in the pew saw it to be. Show me the difference between the evangelical ‘just me and my bible in my chair’ and trying to obey the Church as a Presbyterian. No substantive difference from my real world, in the Reformed trenches experience. In the end, I just could not see the Church in the PCA. Jesus said for me to obey the Church, and I don’t want to be rude (it actually breaks my heart) but he could not have meant a 360,000 member denomination of squabbling, bickering intellectuals who do not even claim the authority of the Church to bind my conscience. If they did claim it, I may have stayed, but not claiming it shows the charade for what it is even quicker.

  109. CD-Host said,

    August 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    @David #108

    I have a quick question for intellectual nihilists. You claim to be unable to discern doctrine between competing schools. How then do you know that minor distinctions on election are heresy since schools divide on that issue? If heresy is defined that lightly how do you know heresy is a matter of such severe consequence you should be zealous for it? And going to your stuff about Jesus, competing schools have competing philosophies about how you obey Jesus and the church? How do you know your definition is right?

    In the end either you can read from sources you trust and make base calls or you can’t. If you can’t then you flip a coin. If you can then you do.

  110. Bob B said,

    August 22, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    @cd-host 109

    David couldn’t resolve his problems by himself and fled to the waiting arms of the RCC. They convinced him that they are mother church, and that they can never err on matters of faith and morals. Issues like the FV and 2kers were the catalyst for his conversion.

    All this bickering about FV (and other similar issues) on this site has real-world impact. It drives people from the PCA. The fact that you guys can’t love your (exonerated) brethren DOES drive others away. In your zeal to kick out the FV’s your loosing others in the process.

    Contrary to others here (cough Sean @96) I think that Christendom is much larger than the PCA and much larger than the Westminister standards. Claiming FV’s aren’t Christians is flat out lying and slander. Unless you know the mind of God, it is not helpful to use such language. All it does is show your own hate for your brethren.

    In the words of all those who reject sola-fide “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”.

  111. greenbaggins said,

    August 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Bob B, I wasn’t aware that any critic of the FV was claiming that the church was limited to only them. The question in this regard is not “who is in the church?” but rather “who should be in a confessionally Reformed denomination?” By your very own admission, those are two very different questions.

    I like your misquotation of Philippians 2:12. Anyone who quotes verse 12 without verse 13 is seriously twisting Scripture.

  112. Bob B said,

    August 22, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    @greenbaggins 111
    Your buddy Sean @96 indicated that FV aren’t Christians. If FV’s don’t make the cut, the surely the any non-Westminster following denomination doesn’t either. I’m pointing out that he is wrong in his assessment, that he doesn’t get to decide who are and who are not Christians. Go read his 96 again – he says FV’s aren’t Christians – not just ‘not Reformed’, but not Christians. Go berate him.

    Quoting 1/2 a verse is not twisting scripture. I understand you don’t like my defense of the FV’s, but I am not ‘seriously twisting’ anything. The fact of the matter – as evidenced in this thread is that YOUR side is trying to marginalize the FV’s, kick them out of the reformed camp / PCA, drive them away from holding office, and refuses to call them Brother (preferring terms like wolves, poisonous, and now ‘not Christian’). These people have done nothing to you, they have been tried and exonerated, and this whole thread is a black eye to the PCA as you continue to pursue this issue instead of bending your knee to the authority placed over you and accept them as Brethren in good standing within the PCA.

  113. Don said,

    August 23, 2013 at 3:23 am

    Bob B 112 said,

    Quoting 1/2 a verse is not twisting scripture.

    This statement is naive and reckless at best. At worst, it is a model for how cults operate. If you had added a conditional and said, “not _necessarily_ twisting Scripture,” then sure, that’s correct. One can, e.g., quote Jesus as saying “I am the way” or “I am the resurrection” and that’s fine because those snippets accurately convey and summarize what is being taught in their respective passages. But random sentence fragments of Scripture, plucked from their context, can be manipulated to say just about anything you want. Or do you believe that the seventh thru tenth words (ESV & NIV) of Psalm 14:1 should be used as a prooftext for atheism?

    But less snarkily, in reference to the full sentence of Philippians from which you quote, who is it that really works? What is the source of our ability to will and to work? I suppose Philippians 2:12 can be used as some sort of Arminian prooftext, but that’s very difficult to do if one considers the context (or just the whole sentence!).

  114. Bob B said,

    August 23, 2013 at 11:01 am

    @Don 113
    Who really works is both God and Us. To what degree our work is a participation in our salvation is a centuries old debate – about which I don’t really care which side wins. As it stands the FV’s appear to have historic Christianity on their side, and our host and his defenders have Westminster. I don’t have issue with either side believing what they believe, but nether do I think it is worth splitting a denomination over (or all the other vile name-calling that has gone on in this thread… wolves, poison, non-Christian).

    For some, the work that we do is working out our salvation, for some it is perseverance, for some it is storing up treasures in heaven. To be honest, if I’m serving God in some capacity and the person next to me is doing the same thing… does it matter ‘why’ they are doing it – or more specifically does it matter what they believe about why they are doing it?

    God is our father. To what degree do you allow your own children to believe ‘wrong’ things and still love them? If you have 2 children who believe 2 different things fighting about it, what is more important? – the correctness of their belief or the fact that these brothers are fighting?

    My position in this thread has never been about support for one doctrinal position over the other (other than to point out that the FV’s are just as orthodox as the rest of the PCA). My entire focus has been to point out that the treatment of FV Brethren here is deplorable. If you want to ignore that message and harp on me for some doctrinal difference, so be it. It isn’t my denomination that is being torn asunder on this site.

    Are FV’s Christians or not? If they are, please repent from calling them non-Christians, wolves, and poisonous. Such language is not befitting brethren

    If you believe they are not Christians, then you are in a minority position, out of line with the church universal, and out of line with the exhortation done by your own ruling body. You need to repent and submit to your own authorities on this matter.

    If this is just a doctrinal dispute, then approach it with love as one brother to another. This is not something I see here. You have already used your own ruling bodies disciplinary channels, accept their ruling. To not do so places yourself above that ruling body (so much for submission).

    Am I wrong in my assessment?

  115. Erik Charter said,

    August 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Mark (#62) – With all due respect, Lane, you just sided with your neo-2k friends in assessing neo-2k critics as bringing “more heat” to the debate and failing to recognize differences among its leaders. This certainly posits a general lack of 9th commandment charity and understanding, both of which are highly dubious assertions.

    Erik – If I have an affinity for Stuart Robinson, who pastored during the Civil War era, over 150 years ago, does that make me “Neo”? He seems rather old.

  116. Erik Charter said,

    August 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Mark (#68) – Darryl, you know better wrt to our prior discussions on the confessions, but if you want to keep calling plays from the FV playbook, be my guest.

    Erik – What? Last I checked FV types (The CREC, The Baylys, etc.) dislike us even more than the Neocalvinists do. If I used the “FV playbook” maybe I could get un-banned from Baylyblog. This accusation makes absolutely no sense.

  117. Erik Charter said,

    August 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Let me get this straight, Randy thinks he can play “gotcha” with Darryl based on Darryl not affirming Randy’s understanding of covenant theology that takes about two pages to spell out and contains multiple qualifications and clarifications.

    Meanwhile, Van Drunen writes a 500 page book on the history of Two Kingdoms theology throughout church history that makes little or no mention of any particular scheme of covenant theology (at least that I’ve encountered in the first 60% of the book).

    Exactly how is Randy’s quest at all relevant to debunking 2k?

  118. Erik Charter said,

    August 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    If anyone has any confusion about covenant theology, this work comes highly recommended:

    Click to access 9781597525640.pdf

  119. kent said,

    August 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks Erik, that work was very helpful in answering important questions. I don’t want to spend 40 years wandering around hearing new things and never coming to the truth.

    Oh, do denominations willy-nilly allow anyone to use their acronym to stamp onto any ranting and raving that fills one’s blessed little heart?

    I would think that a serious denomination would want to protect its reputation.


  120. Don said,

    August 24, 2013 at 1:30 am

    Bob B 114,
    So you admit that possible interpretations of the sentence of Phil. 2:12-13 is that God, or man, or man with God’s help, does the work of salvation. Yet you consider it legitimate to selectively quote a small portion of that sentence to make the blog author’s theology appear unbiblical?

    Are FV’s Christians or not? If they are, please repent from calling them non-Christians, wolves, and poisonous. Such language is not befitting brethren
    … You need to repent and submit to your own authorities on this matter.

    It seems that Paul didn’t exactly follow your advice when Peter went down to Antioch.
    (Note to FV opponents: neither did Paul try to unilaterally excommunicate Peter.)

  121. Bob B said,

    August 26, 2013 at 9:32 am

    @Don 120
    I think this will be my last comment in this thread as we are beginning to reiterate all the previous comments. How faith, works, go together in our justification has been a sticking point for the church universal for hundreds of years. I’m not going to say that I have all the answers, but a plain reading of James 2 seems to rule out sola-fide. Phil 2:12-13 is the pea shooter, James 2 is the cannon.

    Imagine a number line 1 through 10. 1 is faith without works is still alive and saves, 10 is works on it’s own can save you (Jesus not required). Sola-fide would be about a 2, and Catholicisim is about a 9. Federal Vision is probably around a 6 or 7 on our little doctrine scale.

    What People here are doing is drawing a circle around numbers 2 and 3 and calling that ‘reformed’ theology, and using that as an excuse to belittle all the Christians who believe closer to 5 – 9. This is inspite of the fact that the historic church has been closer to the 4-8 range.

    I’m not sure if that makes sense to you, and forgive my simplification of theology to mere numbers, but I find a lot in life works on a gradient and it can help with the visualization of the issues.

    All that to say I think sola-fide is an untenable position, but I see no reason to kick out sola-fide believers, nor do I question their salvation or presume to bar them from serving in the church in whatever capacity God calls them. Believing or not believing sola-fide does not determine ones salvation.

    I suppose now that I’ve laid out my own doctrinal position, I’m free to be labeled as a FV sympathizer and my calls to reasonable discourse, less name calling, and repentance in your (collective) treatment of the FV adherents can be ignored.

  122. Don said,

    August 26, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Bob B 121,

    First of all, I’m not PCA, but if they want to say that only a ranking of 2-3 on your scale is consistent with the Westminster Standards and therefore only that is acceptable to be a leader in the PCA, then that’s fine and it’s their right. But to say 2-3 is acceptable and then permit preachers of 6-7 is rather hypocritical and needs to be addressed.

    Second, I don’t especially care what your position on FV is. It seems like you’re saying that preaching and teaching of 6-7 should be welcome in a 2-3 denomination; greenbaggins has already addressed this in the cwaga post. But I do care if the best way you can support your position is by quoting one-fifth of a sentence from Scripture, when the context may present a very different view. This, not FV in general, is the only point in my posts here.

  123. Tim Bayly said,

    August 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Erik Charter wrote: “If I used the “FV playbook” maybe I could get un-banned from Baylyblog.”

    For the record, Erik’s loss of commenting privileges on Baylyblog had nothing to do with whether or not he is sympathetic to the Federal Vision, nor did it have anything to do with his support for the Radical Two-Kingdom error. Baylyblog is full of comments disagreeing with David’s and my theological commitments including our opposition to F-V and R2K.


  124. jsm52 said,

    August 26, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    So then, what is the reason? Erik’s “a decent guy, I must say…”

  125. Tim Bayly said,

    August 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    >>Erik’s “a decent guy, I must say…”

    No doubt, he is.

  126. truthunites said,

    August 26, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    OP: What about the sheep?

    Locirari, #98: “@96: R2K harms the sheep.

    This could be instructive. Please tell. How so?”

    Read this: R2K And Its Harm of the Sheep

    “I thought I’d list 10 harmful effects of R2K upon God’s flock. In the end I think that R2K is every bit as harmful to the flock as Federal Vision.”

    P.S. With requested forbearance to Reformed Musings, asking him to allow this response to locirari.

  127. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2013 at 12:02 am

    More like ten distortions of the anti-2K deranged syndrome… and more harmful than undermining justification by faith alone? Just claiming something doesn’t make the case. Really… your list of ten says more about your agenda and axe to grind than anything having to do with addressing the biblical/historical case for the teaching of two distinct kingdoms under God’s rule and authority and how Christians and the Church are called to navigate the two.

  128. August 27, 2013 at 1:11 am

    Bob B. has finally revealed the basis behind his FV cheerleading. Namely, that he holds to a position on justification that is not only sub-Reformed, but sub-Protestant. At least he, unlike the FV schemers, forthrightly has told us that he rejects sola fide.

    But rating one’s doctrine of justification on a scale of 1-10 might make sense if we were, for instance, scoring an SAT test. But the doctrine of justification sola fide is inherently a rather binary doctrine, either faith is ALONE as the instrument of justification or it is not. No gray area, no middle ground, no third way, no graduated continuum.

    Bob B appeals to his historical/social construct of “the church universal” as a defense, but as Don aptly pointed out the example of the Apostle Paul in opposing the 1st century Judaizers must be normative for our own behavior in opposition to the modern-day Judaizers of different stripes.

  129. Jason Loh said,

    August 27, 2013 at 6:15 am

    Amen, David. AMEN …!

  130. CD-Host said,

    August 27, 2013 at 9:26 am

    @David —

    What Bob B has said is not outside the norm for a Protestant. The overwhelming majority of Protestant would consider Lordship salvation, the idea that sanctification is always present with saving faith, to be at least a partial rejection of sola fida. You most certainly do believe in a grey area, a middle ground and a graduated continuum. On a scale from 1-10 you are 4, Bob is a 3. Let’s keep a sense of proportion.

  131. Jason Loh said,

    August 27, 2013 at 9:55 am


    You are confused. Certainly Protestants believe in sola fide. Even Norm Shepherd claims to believe in sola fide. Leaving aside his obfuscation (and that of NT Wright, FV et al) which makes his Protestantism (and that of NT Wright, FV et al) suspect, Protestants believe in sola fide DESPITE their INCONSISTENCY in other related areas of beliefs: free-will, universal atonement, conditional election, etc.

    And as a non-Protestant, please do not tell us Protestants to keep a sense of proportion on sola fide. As Paul argues clearly, it’s either grace or works – there is NO middle ground. It’s the difference between sheep and goat.

  132. Jason Loh said,

    August 27, 2013 at 9:58 am


    Please do not be another Roger du Barry, albeit of the outsider-type.

  133. CD-Host said,

    August 27, 2013 at 10:31 am

    @Jason #131

    I didn’t ask David to keep a sense of perspective on sola fide. I asked him to keep a sense of perspective on his particular definition of sola fide within the wider Protestant framework and where it sits.

    As for me being a non-Protestant, that’s helpful. I don’t believe in sola fide at all so there is no emotion at all attached to a simple statistical question about what Protestants believe sola fide.

  134. Brad B said,

    August 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    “I don’t believe in sola fide at all so there is no emotion at all attached to a simple statistical question about what Protestants believe sola fide.”

    But what is Protestantism is not up to statistical inquiry, just because the modern evangelical church calls themselves “Protestant”, it is not hard to see that their theology is not. It isn’t a popularity contest, or a democratic vote as to what is Protestant. Adjust your statistical survey to those Christians who hold to actual Protestant doctrine, and your results would more accurate.

  135. Casey Fliestra said,

    August 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm


    You might want to read more closely the link provided. The link did not say more harmful than FV, it said “as harmful.” And as R2K is common realm antinomianism I would agree that it is “as harmful as FV.”

    You might want to read that list again without your ax to grind.

  136. Don said,

    August 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Brad B 134,
    Redefining “Protestantism” to mean “fully agrees with my definition of sola fide” is not going to help anything. One can find many Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, even (gasp) Episcopals who agree with sola fide, but they may not mean exactly the same as what, e.g., David in comment 128 would define it. Does that mean you get to declare that they aren’t Protestants? Because if so, then you’re just like the CTCers, except they are defining who the True Catholics, rather than the True Protestants, are.

  137. Brad B said,

    August 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    So Don, the Reformers, whe wrote the original protesting statements of doctrines have nothing to say about what their intentions were–what they protested for? I’m not redifining, I’m holding a line that has long roots.

  138. Don said,

    August 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Brad B 137,
    Whether we like it or not, “Protestantism” is not the same as “What the original Reformers wrote about.” The question is not about what Reformed Protestants (are supposed to) believe, it is about what Protestants believe. Which, whether their beliefs are correct or not, is much wider.

  139. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Casey @135,
    let me amend my remark, “As harmful as undermining justification by faith alone?”

    Even if you disagree with a 2K theology, to equate its imagined harm with that of undermining justification by faith alone, the very article that the Church stands upon, is an axe-to-grind-too-far for me and for most reformed. Not that that will keep “neutral and unbiased” 2K deniers from continuing to sharpen their blades…

  140. Casey Fliestra said,

    August 27, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    “Most Reformed?”

    How could you ever know what “Most Reformed” think?

    As I read the tea leaves I’d say “Most Reformed” believe E2K to be a poison pill that is every bit as dangerous to swallow as FV. True, FV denies JBFA but R2K denies a people eager to do good works in the common realm.

    Why even one of their prophets have said that he has no problem with a Church member championing for the reversal of bestiality laws.

  141. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Casey, How could I know? Well, just like you… tea leaves.

    Here’s the thing, your very accusations show a misrepresentation of 2K. At least state 2K beliefs correctly if you’re going to lambast them. Next thing you’ll be saying is that Christians that hold to 2k theology sacrifice their babies on altars…

  142. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    by the way, I affirm 2k ala VanDrunen and I have no hesitation, in fact I have a God-given desire and command to do good works in the common realm. Common realm, hmm… which kingdom is that?

  143. toddbordow said,

    August 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm


    If you are going to accuse others of sin you are going to at least need to quote them accurately. The quote that anti-2kers love to use had nothing to do with church members championing anything. The context was answering why we do not discipline people for voting for the lack of government enforcement of certain sins. If a law banning homosexuality
    were proposed, Christians would be allowed to disagree politically on whether that law would be a good one. The same with fornication. Some Christians who are very anti-big government may not want our government given more power to punish sexual sins, whether fornication, beastiality, adultery, etc… The very fact that this is outrageous to you that we allow such political freedom in our churches only reveals how much you have wedded your politics to your religion. Jsm52 is correct, most reformed have not wedded the two in this way that such political freedom is considered sacrilegious.

  144. Reed Here said,

    August 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    O.k., I tried polite reigning in once. :)

    This thread is not about 2K, therefore NO comments on 2K. All further comments of 2K will be removed.

  145. todd said,

    August 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm


    Sorry, forget the original thread. Phew – got it in under the wire! Your check is in the mail

  146. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    I’m on board, Reed. I just couldn’t allow distortions to go unanswered. On the internet they live forever. Glad for the forum of discussion that GB provides. Thanks…

  147. Brad B said,

    August 27, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Hi Don I can appreciate what you have said, and also appreciate the clarifying post. I have to admit this is a bit of a burr under my saddle, I dont mean to come off as judging the heart, iow whether someone is born again by their doctrine, but at some point when one diverges enough from essential characteristics, they dont get to take the name anymore. I wonder, in my own mind how far God’s grace will go, I suspect a lot longer than I think…or at least up to the point of denying the Holy Spirit or blaspheming Him anyway, so I’ll be happy to let them [those listed and more] use the name Christian. It doen’st bother me in the least until someone denies essential doctrines that are such that to deny them is to not qualify for the name anymore. JBFA is one of those.

    In my experience here in So. Cal, by a large margin the churches that call themselves Protestant, embrace a soteriology that would’ve negated the need for a reformation–they’d have not had qualms about complying with Rome’s soteriology, these are the ones I’m too jealous of the name Protesant to share it with. Somehow I think these are some of the ones CD-Host is including in his statistical analysis. I see no reason to give in on this, it is defamation. Maybe I make too much of this, but anyway I hope you get my point, and thank you for your comments to me on this.

  148. Don said,

    August 28, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Brad B 147,
    Thanks for this explanation. In the situation you describe, it seems appropriate to describe these churches as having a theology which is inconsistent with any historical Protestant teaching. Well, that’s probably a fairly mild description. Nevertheless, a Christian who isn’t Catholic or Orthodox is pretty much by default a Protestant. That spans, for better or worse, the full range of happy-clappies to tall-steeple high-churchmen.

  149. Reed Here said,

    August 28, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Casey: last warning. Did you read my cease and desist post? If you want to discuss this with Todd, contact him offline.

    How odd to be accused of wickedness when in fact this thread is not about 2k. Retract your accusations against ministers of the gospel or take your false witness elsewhere.

  150. Horace said,

    August 31, 2013 at 8:25 am

    I think that this article fits the spirit of what is being discussed here

  151. Reed Here said,

    August 31, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Horace, agree, the article is an expression, albeit focused a bit more broadly. Ministering myself in the deep South I am persuaded that a part of the attraction of the FV is that it offers a promise of a stable earthly life: follow this set of beliefs and you AND your kids will be secure from the ravages experienced by other families in evangelical churches around you.

    Watching child after child from families whose parents love Jesus walk away from the Church (and often Jesus), I understand the angst of famlies wanting a more secure expression of faith in daily life. the FV offers that. But it does so at a price far too high, one I fear many families will realize way too late in life. What, for example will an FV persuaded parent do when their child sets out for apostate Rome, and proposes to mom and dad that they are just being consistent with how they were raised?

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