SJC Answers the Overtures in the Negative

There were three overtures in the last General Assembly requesting the SJC to take over original jurisdiction in the Leithart case. The SJC has ruled on those three overtures in the negative. The reasoning of the overtures was that a mistrial should have been declared, given the conflict of interest of the prosecutor. Given, then, a failure to act (regarding the conflict of interest, NOT the charges themselves: the decision of the SJC miscontrues the overtures on this point) on the part of PNW Presbytery, the SJC should take over original jurisdiction. The judgment concludes that BCO 34-1 does not allow the General Assembly to assume original jurisdiction over a case that has already been adjudicated. Then, invoking the principle of double jeopardy (though qualifying it by saying that new grounds for charges could emerge in new publications), the decision says that a person cannot be charged for the same crimes after being acquitted (this is the definition of the principle of double jeopardy).

On the key issue of the mistrial, the concurring opinion states that a mistrial can only be declared while the trial is ongoing. It cannot be declared after the trial is concluded. However, the concurring opinion (written by RE Sam Duncan) disagrees with the main decision in one respect, by saying that there was a refusal to act on the part of PNW Presbytery, since the Presbytery did know of the Prosecutor’s struggles, but did not report this fact to the Presbytery. He says that there was a time to request original jurisdiction, and that was during the time the complaint was being handled in the PNW Presbytery. During that time, the decision of the PNW Presbytery could not be viewed as final, and thus there would have been no double jeopardy.

The basis for the main decision, however, is the concept of double jeopardy as it has been viewed in the Western legal tradition and the Constitution of the US. As far as I know, there is nothing in the BCO that even supports double jeopardy. If someone were continuing to commit adultery, and was acquitted the first time in an ecclesiastical court, would that mean that we could not bring up charges again based on his continuing sin? Similarly, the views of Leithart, if they are in error, are continuing offenses. Those books are still being published and sent out. Leithart hasn’t changed his views whatsoever. He still teaches error after the trial is concluded.

Still, this decision does not leave us with a lot of choices. Leithart has moved to Birmingham, AL, which is in the jurisdiction of Evangel Presbytery. There are some issues that will probably come up with regard to that move. It is still disappointing that our SJC refuses to address the doctrinal issues at stake. This decision will not promote either the peace or the purity of the church.


  1. tominaz said,

    November 5, 2013 at 11:40 am

    IMHO the SJC has failed the church. Procedure now trumps doctrine; something we have come to expect from the PCUSA. One of the marks of the church – discipline – seems to be disappearing from the PCA. Whither?

  2. November 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    […] SJC Answers the Overtures in the Negative. […]

  3. Sean Gerety said,

    November 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    At least when leaving the PCA, those who still love the Gospel can know they didn’t leave a single stone unturned.

  4. November 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Bad news. Shame on PNWP and the SJC. The only viable solution is to change the BCO to provide full SJC accountability to GA oversight and provide a way to hold heretics accountable from outside of their presbyteries and the protection that their buddies provide therein.

  5. November 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    […] 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 […]

  6. Elliot Pierce said,

    November 5, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    OK, so where’s our new rump denomination that serves the faithful remnant of the PCA?

  7. Tom said,

    November 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Of course the double jeopardy/adultery analogy fails in that continuing acts of adultery are new instances. Like a person acquitted of murder who murders again.

  8. Sean Gerety said,

    November 5, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Bob, I’m not sure I understand? Are you suggesting that no one should leave the PCA which can’t even defend the Gospel when it’s obliterated right under it’s denominational nose, but rather fight to change the BCO?

  9. Ron said,

    November 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    “At least when leaving the PCA, those who still love the Gospel can know they didn’t leave a single stone unturned.”

    Sean, suddenly those who stayed have a redeemable quality to you?

    You owe them an apology for your meddling judgmentalism.

  10. Ron said,

    November 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I posted too soon! The real Sean wasn’t far away after all!

  11. Andrew Duggan said,

    November 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Bob M. suggested “The only viable solution…”

    Is that really a viable solution? What is the likelihood that such a change would pass in GA and the necessary number of presbyteries? Certainly, with God all things are possible.

    But the real problem is not the heretics, it is not even their buddies who protect them. It is the soft-evangelical-middle (SEM). It always is. As Hodge said, the problem is not what the New School believes, but rather what it will tolerate. The fact is that as long as you allow those to remain you’ll never get the heretic. You have to take out and/or distract the pawns, (SEM) the knights, bishops (buddies) etc, before taking the king. But even that is not that easy, since in both the PL and JM cases the one side got him in “check”, but failed to realise that most of their own pieces were in fact enemy pieces in disguise. Of course that is too extreme, the issue is that most of your pieces aren’t playing the same “game”. Many of your pawns (SEM) (that aren’t false friends) aren’t really interested in getting the heretic, but are racing toward the far end of the board in quest of their own upgrade in rank. They aren’t terribly interested in anything that hinders that goal.

  12. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    As Andrew notes the problem is rarely the actual teachers of error, but is almost always men like Charles Erdman and Clarence McCartney who allow error to go unpunished.

  13. Frank Aderholdt said,

    November 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    For those of you who held your breath for five months in anticipation of the SJC’s action, you can let go now. As far as I was concerned, there was zero chance of the Commission’s ruling in the Affirmative. In this case, the lack of suspense was the killer.

    In my opinion, the 2014 General Assembly may prove to be most momentous in the history of the PCA, and could well be the “watershed” moment we’ve been anticipating (or fearing). An Overture from my Presbytery (Grace in south Mississippi) to clip the wings of the SJC and restore Presbyterian polity has already been sent to the Stated Clerk. Others are sure to follow. If the 2014 GA passes this Overture or another like it with just as much “bite,” then the subsequent vote of the Presbyteries could determine whether the PCA remains whole or breaks into pieces.

    I wonder if the PCA left-wing, the “progressives,” the “mushy-middle” (CWAGA), and the power structure really take seriously some confessional men who say they are on the verge of leaving the denomination. Perhaps these groups (2/3 of the whole?) are clueless in their own fantasy world. Maybe they don’t care one way or the other, or they do take the talk seriously and would welcome the exodus. At any rate, there are some very serious times ahead. Watch and pray, watch and pray.

  14. ghenry said,

    November 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Frank, #11 – Regarding your last question, while I consider myself neither progressive nor mushy-middle (two terms with negative connotations), but I suppose a number of folk here might label me as such.

    I take the threat of schism very seriously. Its a grave matter, and an event I’d prefer to not see happen. However, given that many bloggers have been threatening to leave the PCA for years now without doing so, and now seem to be grasping at straws for some means of ousting Leithart when there is really no chance that will happen, I’m not sure how to react when this sort of thing is mentioned. I suppose I’m confused about what the threshold or boundary line is. If the “confessionalists” fail to change the BCO in order to thereafter oust Leithart… then they will tip over the verge and leave? Or will there be another more desperate and even more unlikely attempt to oust him after that? There have been so many moments declared to be the “deciding moment” that such language has lost its punch.

  15. Frank Aderholdt said,

    November 5, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I can only speak for myself, ghenry #12. In my mind, I have separated Leithart and other Federal Vision TE’s currently in good standing in the PCA from Grace Presbytery’s Overture. In other words, I see two distinct issues: First, whether further discipline of current FV men is possible; and second, whether we can recover true Presbyterian polity by revisions to the BCO, and then move forward with the GA as the highest court rather than the current setup with the SJC. I don’t know if, at this point, there’s a realistic chance of tackling the first issue. I am convinced, however, that there is no fixing the first without solving the second. Without the General Assembly as the highest court instead of the SJC imperium, I doubt that we will ever deal effectively with the Federal Vision (or theistic evolutionists, or whatever – pick your poison).

    As I said to a number of brothers during the 2013 General Assembly, the Frankenstein’s monster we created in the 1990’s (the SJC), has now broken loose and is wreaking havoc in the countryside. It’s past time for the pitchfork brigade to rein the creature in and stop the damage. That’s what the Overture from Grace Presbytery seeks to do, in more temperate, ecclesiastical language, of course.

  16. Jeremy said,

    November 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I’m curious if anyone from the other NAPARC member denominations will take any steps to rebuke the PCA – the next stated meeting is in a couple of weeks.

  17. greenbaggins said,

    November 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Tom (#7), actually the analogy does not fail, because every instance of false teaching is a new chargeable offense.

  18. November 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I don’t think he’s moved presbyteries. I think he’s continuing his out-of-bounds work from the PNWP.

  19. David Gilleran said,

    November 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    As far as possible, such a teaching elder shall be a
    member of the Presbytery within whose bounds he labors. (See BCO 20-1.)

  20. Frank Aderholdt said,

    November 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    PCA Book of Church Order, Chapter 13 – The Presbytery:

    13-2. A minister shall be required to hold his membership in the
    Presbytery within whose geographical bounds he resides, unless there are
    reasons which are satisfactory to his Presbytery why he should not do so.
    When a minister labors outside the geographical bounds of, or in a work not
    under the jurisdiction of his Presbytery, at home or abroad, it shall be only
    with the full concurrence of and under circumstances agreeable to his
    Presbytery, and to the Presbytery within whose geographical bounds he
    labors, if one exists. When a minister shall continue on the rolls of his
    Presbytery without a call to a particular work for a prolonged period, not
    exceeding three years, the procedure as set forth in BCO 34-10 shall be

  21. Frank Aderholdt said,

    November 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    ” . . . it shall be only with the full concurrence of and under circumstances agreeable to his Presbytery, and to the Presbytery within whose geographical bounds he labors, if one exists. . . . ”

    Evangel Presbytery has a huge responsibility with respect to Leithart.

  22. tominaz said,

    November 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    I agree with Frank @#13, #15.
    I do not foresee the TE in question transferring Presbyteries; PNWP will continue to allow him to labor out of bounds, again showing disregard for the BCO.
    As I asked in #1 – Whither?
    I can tell you that our session will now adopt the Grace Presbytery overture and move is forward from PSW.

  23. Mark B said,

    November 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    I think the answer to some of these musings about the future of the PCA as a denomination and as part of NAPARC depends on whether one sees the Leithart case as a disturbing failure in church discipline or a declaration that the PCA is embracing doctrinal anarchy. I tend to see it (mostly) as the former, so things like the overture that Frank mentioned in #15 are part of the way forward to help prevent bad decisions like this case from becoming a trend. I would also point out that there are bloggers who comment here who are not part of the PCA and who have been urging departure from it for years, which is not the same thing as “many bloggers …… threatening to leave the PCA for years now without doing so”. Also, someone expressing the pain he feels when the denomination of which he is a part makes an unbiblical decision and agonizing over what the future holds for him in it is not necessarily threatening to leave.

  24. November 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Re:18 Leithart has not been approved to serve out of bounds by either PNWP or the presbytery to which he would be in the bounds of…

  25. November 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Andrew, RE #11,

    I wish I knew the answer. I don’t disagree with anything that you said. But as Frank so eloquently observed, the PCA created this unaccountable Frankenstein in the SJC, and we should at least try the pitchforks before abandoning our homes. Not for ourselves, but for the sake of our Good Shepherd’s sheep.

  26. ghenry said,

    November 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    If the SJC had voted affirmative rather than negative, would all of you still be decrying it as a “Frankenstein” that should be removed from the PCA? Why is this outcry only beginning now for so many of you?

    I’m confused, because arguments from procedure, the BCO, and whatnot are par for the course on this blog… until the decision doesn’t go everyone’s way, and then suddenly the BCO needs to be revised and the SJC needs to be removed?

  27. William Hill said,

    November 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    re#26: I would be for disbanding the SJC or seriously curtailing it’s authority, especially in doctrinal issues. The results of this case did not cause this position. It is one that I have held for a long time. The SJC may be many things but it is not Presbyterianism.

  28. November 5, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    ghenry, RE #26,

    Yes. The issue is accountability to the highest court in the PCA, the GA, not just a bad decision on one case.

  29. ghenry said,

    November 5, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Could you expound briefly please on what you mean when you say “the issue is accountability”? Has the SJC always been insufficiently accountable to the GA in your view? If not, what changed?

  30. Mark B said,

    November 5, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    @gh 26
    If you recall the Frankenstein story, he was rather pleased with his creation at first. When it started terrorizing the village, that perspective changed. Thus with the SJC. It was established in its present form to resolve some issues at the time, but when a bad result is seen, it becomes obvious that something needs to be done so a similar situation doesn’t happen in the future. Thus the appropriate use of the analogy by Frank and Bob.

  31. ghenry said,

    November 5, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    That should have been considered when the SJC was created, then. Power is a two-edged sword. Six or seven years ago, when the SJC was making decisions about Wilkins and the Louisiana Presbytery, which side of the controversy was decrying the SJC and which was defending it?

  32. ghenry said,

    November 5, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    On Sept. 19th, Lane called this decision “the last chance for the PCA as a whole to do the right thing.” Now it seems it was not the last chance, nor was the SJC’s judgment actually representative of the PCA as a whole? Did the “PCA as a whole” err here or just the newly out-of-favor SJC?

    I hope I don’t sound overly critical… I’m not trying to offend anyone, I’m just very confused by these cries to get rid of the SJC when just a few months ago the SJC was the last hope for the PCA. So we were going to tolerate the SJC if they decided what we were “praying” they would decide… but now that was all a big mistake?

  33. Mark B said,

    November 5, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    @gh 32
    I don’t think you are sounding critical or trying to offend anyone, but (I know this is rather blunt), it sounds more like you are trying to confuse the issue rather than being confused. I think the last dozen or so comments clarified it.

  34. Mark B said,

    November 5, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    To use a more Biblical analogy, denominational procedures could be likened to the walls of the sheepfold and the shepherds staff. When the wolves find a way to weasel in (as they continually will till Christ’s return), the undershepherds need to repair the wall and adjust their staff technique.

  35. November 6, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Well said, Mark B, in #34. Exactly so.

  36. Confused said,

    November 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    “Similarly, the views of Leithart, if they are in error, are continuing offenses. Those books are still being published and sent out. Leithart hasn’t changed his views whatsoever. He still teaches error after the trial is concluded.”

    Peter Leithart was found to be teaching within the boundaries of the Westminster Standards. If he is teaching the same views, how is that a “continuing offense” in this case?

  37. Tom said,

    November 6, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    “Tom (#7), actually the analogy does not fail, because every instance of false teaching is a new chargeable offense.”

    Again, the analogy breaks down because courts have ruled that no adultery has taken place. As long as they keep doing the same thing there no room for further charges. Just because someone thinks that conversation constitutes adultery does not make it so.

  38. Phil D. said,

    November 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    If “adultery” refers to adulterated doctrine (which I read to be Lane’s intent), then the analogy certainly does not fail. The PCA GA has at least technically repudiated the FV manifesto, to which Leithart is a signatory and which he continues to espouse. On the other hand, the SJC has made clear in numerous ways that their favorable rulings have been based on procedural rather than doctrinal points – which is of course a large part of the problem.

  39. Hugh McCann said,

    November 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    As you wrangle over procedures & revision,

    Gromit saith: Bad news. Shame on PNWP and the SJC. The only viable solution is to change the BCO to provide full SJC accountability to GA oversight and provide a way to hold heretics accountable from outside of their presbyteries and the protection that their buddies provide therein.

    Amen to sentences 1 & 2.

    Is the third a pipe dream or plan of action? In either case, when will the few men remaining in the PCA stop trying to merely use legal avenues and go biblical?

    Having watched procedure destroy the Episcopal Church, I point you to their struggles 10 years ago. Very different in many ways, but with similarities, too. Mainly, that good men played by the rules only to be outsmarted and out voted by the bad guys – all the while failing to obey the apostle Paul who repeatedly urged his letters’ readers to rebuke and separate from false teachers.

    Were face-to-face, public rebukes more common, the atmosphere would a bit more apostolic. Shunning isn’t only for fundamentalists, it’s biblical.

    Thank you.

  40. Hugh McCann said,

    November 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    The next step is the prosecution/ persecution of gospel preachers in the PCA. :(

  41. Sean Gerety said,

    November 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    the undershepherds need to repair the wall and adjust their staff technique.

    The SJC refuses to correct a derelict presbytery that openly protects those who teach another gospel and the solution now is to tinker with the machinery?

    That ever moving line in the sand has ceased being any line at all so now the answer is to stick your head in it. Brilliant.

  42. Michael said,

    November 6, 2013 at 8:35 pm


    What is your denominational affiliation?

  43. Mark B said,

    November 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    @Sean 41
    Yes, sometimes it is necessary to separate. However, read the rest of what you quoted from. The church this side of glory will always be troubled by wolves from within. I would maintain that their are a good number of churches in the PCA that are basically sound, and where the gospel is preached. The point of what I said is that we always need to “tinker with the machinery” as you put it, but that is not a solution (as in an end all), but rather part of the ongoing life of the church. Any true church will face troubles of this sort, the question is whether or not the gospel can prevail. As to this specific issue (FV), we won one with Wilkins and lost one with Leithart. Yes, the gospel took one on the chin here. Yes, we may not prevail in turning the course (granting for the sake of argument that the PCA as a whole has changed course) But do you expect that we should run every time we loose a fight? What kind of shepherd would that make one? Even a denomination of one won’t be perfect (at least not while I’m in it), and for that matter, a denomination of Sean, Hugh, and a newsletter isn’t perfect either.
    (Don’t take that wrong, I do appreciate the Trinity Review occasionally)

  44. Sean Gerety said,

    November 7, 2013 at 3:16 am

    @Mark. You have a rather skewed view of recent history. Here’s the run down to date; every false teacher that has been examined and tried from the Siouxlands to Missouri to the Pacific Northwest have been cleared on all counts by their respective presbyteries and in every case the SJC, that illusory deus ex machina, has sided with those who aid and protect Christ’s enemies. In addition, we didn’t “win one” with Wilkins. He left the PCA for the FV CREC as a “minister in good standing.”

    Thankfully, you at least recognize it was the Gospel that “took it on the chin” and not some secondary doctrine like creation which took it on the chin back in the 90s. However, the kind of shepherd we read about in Scripture are the ones who refuse to compromise the Gospel and refuse to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, clanking machinery notwithstanding.

    A little over a year ago Dr. Paul Elliot asked:

    True believers who still remain in the PCA have their battle orders. The question is, will they obey the Captain of their salvation, or continue their dereliction of duty?

    We have your answer. I wonder if Lane agrees?

  45. Confused said,

    November 7, 2013 at 7:33 am

    @ Sean (#44) and others in this thread.

    I really am blown away by the narrative you all tell yourselves. You do realize these FV officers hold very dearly many doctrines of the faith that you do, right? They ALL hold to literal six-day creation, they long to see the church singing the psalter, they love the Scriptures and affirm its inerrancy, and they are very complementarian on biblical roles for men and women. I know many of these men personally and they love their congregations and desire to lay their lives down for them. This hardly what I would call “liberal”! Honestly, have you ever listened to any of these men’s sermons? I really would encourage you to if you haven’t. They love the Bible and long to lead their people and families to serve Jesus.

    You do realize that Scripture reserves language about “wolves” and “false teachers” for men who hate God and are going to hell, right? You do realize that “another gospel” means you’re saying these men are dead in their trespasses and sin, right?

    Maybe this is entirely fruitless. I just want you all to have little perspective on these godly men, their families, and the faithful churches they serve when you throw around words like “liberal”, “wolves” and “destroyer of my denomination”.

  46. Greg said,

    November 7, 2013 at 8:26 am


    Those to whom you refer (FV officers) do teach falsely, e.g., a water baptism that regenerates (in some form) and effects (temporary and dependent upon the recipient’s faithfulness) justification, adoption, union with Christ, etc., but without perseverance.) We do confess and the Scripture does teach that we are justified by faith alone and not “faith plus faithfulness” (aka works). Those whom you defend are preaching a false gospel, for there is but one. Truly and objectively they are to be counted among the wolves spoken of in Scripture; the bad shepherds who slaughter the sheep.

    Do shepherds who love their sheep seek to destroy them? Do pastors who truly love their flock proclaim to them a “gospel” worthy of hell?

  47. Confused said,

    November 7, 2013 at 9:15 am

    @Greg (#46),

    FV officers teach baptism as a sign of the New Covenant that covenantally ingrafts believers into Christ, yes. As per WCF XXVIII:

    “Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life.Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.”

    They teach that justifying faith (i.e. true faith) is a faith that is active and works, yes. As per WCF XVI.2:

    “II. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the Gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.”

    But where does any FV guy say believers are justified, adopted and united with Christ by faith plus their works? Please direct me specifically. I would suggest you misunderstand what is being proposed.

  48. Brad B said,

    November 7, 2013 at 9:16 am

    But Greg, did Jesus really say “beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?”, and also, did Paul really say “a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”….. ;^)

  49. November 7, 2013 at 10:26 am

    @Brad B
    Just so you know, the comment you just made really does help clarify the issues and promote fruitful discussion. Please keep those coming!

  50. Confused said,

    November 7, 2013 at 10:47 am

    @ Brad B (#44)

    This is a really helpful comment. Thank you for bringing clarity to the issues and promoting fruitful discussion. If only doctrinal discussions between brothers could contain more content like yours. This is going to help us understand each other so much more.

  51. Greg said,

    November 7, 2013 at 10:51 am


    You rightly say, “sign”, but must not confuse the sign and the thing signified. Water baptism is the sign and seal; it does not in and of itself effect regeneration, justification, adoption, union with Christ as the FV folk teach — even temporarily. Faith for them has nothing to do this “justification.” It is by water baptism.

    I never said they proclaim justification “by faith plus their works.” What they teach is that one is in union with Christ by virtue of their water baptism and that the benefits include justification and adoption. Those benefits do not include perseverance. What they teach is that one maintains one’s standing (as justified, adopted, etc.) through one’s “faithfulness.” “Faithfulness”: a nice pious sounding way of stating what they are loath to say: “We believe we maintain our right standing before God based upon our good works. God’s initial favor is gracious, but we keep his favor by our faithful works.”

    This has all been talked through countless times. No I am not misunderstanding and neither are the numerous Reformed denominations and seminaries who have formally and rightly condemned FV teachings.

    Perhaps you are familiar with Scott Clark.

  52. Confused said,

    November 7, 2013 at 11:49 am

    @ Greg

    When you said “We do confess and the Scripture does teach that we are justified by faith alone and not “faith plus faithfulness” (aka works)”, I took you to be implying that FV officers teach justification by faith plus works.

    In your view, what does the sign and seal that is baptism do?

    Also, can you point me specifically to where FV men say that one maintains one’s justification by faithfulness?

    I do understand the debates have been going on for a long time. And I am not asking for you to rehash everything. Its just that I have been studying with some of these men, under their pastoral care, and read many of their books and articles and I do NOT recognize in them what you say they teach.

  53. Ron Gilbert said,

    November 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm


    “Those who ultimately prove to be reprobate may be in covenant with God. They may enjoy for a season the blessings of the covenant, including the forgiveness of sins, adoption, possession of the kingdom, sanctification, etc., and yet apostatize and fall short of the grace of God [Wilkins, 62].”

    (Justification is a blessing of the covenant, and falls under the “etc.”–rrg)

    “All covenant members are invited to attain to a full and robust confidence that they are God’s eternally elect ones. Starting with their baptisms, they have every reason to believe God loves them and desires their eternal salvation. [Confused, take note:] Baptism marks them out as God’s elect people, a status they maintain so long as they persevere in faithfulness.” [Lusk, 289].

    “The Federal Vision”, Steve Wilkins and Duane Garner, editors. Monroe, Louisiana: Athanasius Press, 2004.

  54. Jeremy said,

    November 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    So again…will the PCA be rebuked by anyone in NAPARC?

    Just curious why it is okay for a denomination to continue to affiliate with the PCA via NAPARC, yet not for individuals?

    For those calling people to come out of the PCA, show some integrity and address your own affiliations with her…

  55. Greg said,

    November 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Within the PCA are those who would prefer to leave NAPARC. The drafters of the PCA Strategic Plan proposed such an exit. To claim to be Reformed and yet prefer the company of Arminian and Anabaptist denominations (through NAE membership) to Reformed denominations is indeed a curious thing. Apparently the Synod of Dort is unknown to some.

  56. Jeremy said,

    November 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    So when will the other NAPARC member denominations expel the PCA from it’s ranks?

  57. November 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm


    So you study under Leithart and Wilson? I understand why you are confused. You really should get out of Moscow more. Read the compendium from the 1994 Knox Colloquium in the wolves’ own words, Guy Prentiss’ books on FV, Scott Clark’s works, Michael Horton, etc. Read the PCA, OPC, and five other Reformed denominations reports on FV. Reading orthodox Reformed authors may provide you with a valuable, outside-of-Moscow perspective – assuming that you are open to Reformed orthodoxy.

    Many on this blog have read and studied this issue extensively. Lane in particular has read every significant thing that Leithart wrote. I know of no one who can say the same other than Leithart. I have read broadly across the FV authors, taking them at their written word. What I’m not inclined to do is your homework for you.

  58. Greg said,

    November 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm


    My views are that of the WCF, WLC and WSC. I would refer you to WCF Ch. 27 and 28, paying particular attention to 27.3 and 28.6.

    Baptism it not efficacious in and of itself, but is dependent upon the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit who chooses when to work in those who are elect. In conflict with the WCF the FV treats baptism as operating efficaciously in all, both eternally elect and reprobate. They just teach it is temporary and dependent upon man’s faithfulness to maintain. The FV don’t claim to know who is elect and who is reprobate, but they say that those who fall away, lose their standing before God, i.e., they are no longer justified. Reformed teaching no of no such temporary justification.

    “Elect” again is one of those terms the FV have redefined to mean those in (what some FV proponents have termed) the “historic” church, composed of both those who will be saved and those who will fall away. That is not election as confessed by the Reformed. The “historic” church must not be confused with what we refer to as the “visible” church.

    Like other teachers of false doctrine, the FV have redefined, much to the confusion of their listeners (as well as to their peril) many terms (and the practical outworking of those terms) such as election, baptism, union with Christ, the Church, justification by faith alone, adoption, etc.

    “Works of faith-filled obedience, in a secondary way, cause our final justification and salvation. Works are the means through which we come into possession of eternal life. The path of obedience is the way we must trod if we are be justified at the last day. For Calvin, works are non-contributory instruments and non-meritorious conditions of final salvation.

    “In other words, works do not justify in their own right since they can never withstand the scrutiny of God’s inspection. But we will not be justified without them either. They are not merely evidential (e.g., proof of our faith), but even causal or instrumental (“means”) in our final salvation. Faith is the sole instrument of initial justification, but faith comes to be perfected by good works. At the last day, faith, as the solitary instrument of union with Christ, and obedience, as the fruit of our union with Christ, will be one and the same — distinguishable, yes, but separable, no.”

    (I won’t get into what else Lusk writes in that post in trying to drag Calvin in for support through a blatant misreading of what Calvin penned.)

    Compare this to WCF Ch. 11.1 (Justification):

    “Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: a
    not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins,and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, b they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.”

    I would also suggest you read Lane Keister’s expert witness testimony from the Leithart trial. Documents are available online, the link I believe is somewhere on this blog.

    Finally, why not take FV James Jordan’s word that FV theology is out of accord with the Standards?

    “Oh, it’s true enough: We depart from the whole Reformation tradition at certain pretty basic points. It’s no good pretending otherwise. I think the PCA is perfectly within its rights to say no to all BH [Jordan’s FV Biblical Horizons website] types. We are NOT traditional presbyterians. The PCA suffers us within itself, but we are poison to traditional presbyterianism. We are new wine, and the PCA is an old skin. So, for the sake of the people we are called to minister to, we do our best. But we don’t really “belong” there.”

  59. Greg said,

    November 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    From what I can tell, Leithart has moved to Lusk’s Trinity Presbyterian Church (CREC) in Birmingham, Alabama, where he is listed as “Church Teacher and President of Trinity House Institute.”

  60. Greg said,

    November 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Please pardon my having neglected to delete the footnote letter references in the WCF 11.1 quote.

  61. Scott T. said,

    November 7, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I’m not surprised at the verdict in that the appeal grounds of conflict of interest were not really sufficient. But the reasoning used, “double jeopardy” is not in the BCO, and doesn’t really apply, so I’m not sure where that came from.

    Nor does it seem that the SJC was ever intended to be non-correctable by General Assembly. There are several BCO provisions that in letter and spirit charge GA with the right and responsibility to correct error and protect from harm.

    The problem back from the early parts of this case is that the SJC, acting as an appellate court, would have to defer to the findings of both fact and law by the lower court, in this case, one errant presbytery. The substance of the charges was never really evaluated by the SJC, and in that way, the spiritual court failed.

    The Book of Church Order was not written to prevent a higher court from correcting clear error, or protecting the peace and purity of the church.

    Nor does our Lord so direct as He exercises power through His spiritual courts.

  62. tominaz said,

    November 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    #61 Scott T. – Regarding ‘double jeopardy’ – I wonder if Michael Servetus could have claimed that. IMHO the SJC lawyers defer more to civil rules than church doctrine and Scripture.The last time I checked our authority was Scripture, Confession, BCO – not the other way round.

  63. Mark B said,

    November 7, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    @ Sean 44
    you say:
    “Here’s the run down to date; every false teacher that has been examined and tried from the Siouxlands to Missouri to the Pacific Northwest have been cleared on all counts by their respective presbyteries and in every case the SJC, that illusory deus ex machina, has sided with those who aid and protect Christ’s enemies. In addition, we didn’t “win one” with Wilkins. He left the PCA for the FV CREC as a “minister in good standing.”

    This statement is at the best misleading.
    The Siouxlands case won’t be heard till the spring meeting. The SJC, in some ways encouraged that case to trial in the first place.
    In Pacific Northwest, it was the SJC that ordered them to trial (and read what they said in that decision).
    Wilkens didn’t leave for the CREC because he thought that “Auburn Ave Presbyterian Church, a member of the CREC” would look better on his marque sign, the SJC basically threatened to dissolve the presbytery if they didn’t deal with him, so he fled.
    I hope I’ve made it clear in the past that I think that the SJC has made an inexcusable error in the Leithart case, my point is that the struggle over this in the PCA has not been nearly as one sided as you seem to believe (do you keep all this stuff in your files? This list could be a lot longer, right?).
    I would say that something like what was stated in the 2007 report would still be held by the majority of elders in the PCA. That’s why I said above that I view this primarily as a failure in church discipline, and not necessarily a declaration of doctrinal anarchy by the PCA.
    As an older historical footnote, Norman Shepard left the OPC a minister in good standing, and moved to my first hometown, where he wreaked much havoc (and his defenders were always quick to point out to those who didn’t know the history that he left a minister in good standing). Do you think that the OPC should have been thrown away as a denomination in the 80’s?
    As a even older historical footnote (on a different theological error), even Arminius died a minister in good standing, yet the Synod of Dordt, in one of the greatest councils in Reformed history, managed to deal effectively with his teaching. Should those who opposed him have given up the first time efforts to deal with him and his supporters failed?
    I’ve tried to keep this to a brief overview, but it’s already getting long, so I’ll just ask you to think through some of the heresies in church history going back to the Pelagian controversy at least. Don’t we see this theme often?
    “….the kind of shepherd[s] we read about in Scripture are the ones who refuse to compromise the Gospel….” and fight for the sheep where and when God has called them to fight.

  64. Mark B said,

    November 7, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    @ Jeremy #54
    You said:
    “For those calling people to come out of the PCA, show some integrity and address your own affiliations with her…”
    Whom are you referring to? Those here calling people to come out of the PCA tend to be those who don’t have much if any affiliation with hardly anyone or anything. Do you have a specific comment in mind? Just curious, don’t disagree with your logic.

  65. WA Scott said,

    November 7, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I’m not FV-however Augustine and a number of reformers who risked their lives for the Gospel affirmed the sure efficacy of Baptism worthily received (e.g. by our little ones) and that many of the reprobate are given the gift of true faith without the gift of perseverance according to God’s sovereign will. While these beliefs may be contrary to the position of Calvin and some other reformers they are certainly not contrary to the gospel.

  66. Sean Gerety said,

    November 7, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Mark, you are very confused if you think the truth of the Gospel begins and ends with the PCA. I love the PCA, but it’s elders have failed. Plain and simple. You can spin it anyway you want, but those are the facts. The OPC has not fared much better since it’s complete failure to discipline John Kinnaird, although the psychology of corporate denial in such a small denom might be more understandable (since you admit to occasionally reading TF publications, you should read Christianity and Neo-Liberalism).

    If you want to keep banging your head against the wall while telling yourself that you’re “fighting the good fight for Christ and his Gospel,’ knock yourself out. I’m just telling you it’s time for serious shepherds to lead Christ’s sheep to new and better pastures.

  67. Mark B said,

    November 7, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    @Sean #66
    I’m not sure how you got “the truth of the Gospel begins and ends with the PCA” out of anything I said. Yes, elders fail. I think a good Biblical case can be made that they will continue to fail till Christ’s return. The issue here is I don’t see room in your paradigm for any sort of failure in any denomination. I really am curious, do you have a denomination in mind that is a “new and better pasture”, or are you advocating adding to the collection of split Ps and broken Rs? Sometimes we get a little myopic and caught up in our own little worlds with these issues. I’m not implying that it isn’t serious, what I mean is that the majority of elders in the PCA probably haven’t even heard of Leithart, or at least not till the last GA. You are coming very close to calling a denomination a Synagogue of Satan based on a court making a bad call in a discipline case that many know nothing about. It’s one thing to condemn a denomination for issuing an official declaration that is heretical, but that’s not the issue at hand, we did declare the right thing in the FV report. Isn’t it at least possible that the error here lies in a failure to apply that belief correctly in disciplining someone, rather than assuming that the majority of PCA elders have turned apostate in the last five years? Failure to correctly apply belief in a discipline issue of this sort is a serious error, but the way we respond to it is different.

  68. Brad B said,

    November 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Hi Confused[isn’t there a policy of prohibition of alias’ on this blog?], I see that you’ve furthered the conversation by explaining your motivation, there’s been so much previously discussed on this site, and Greg is willing to go over some of your objections, and others chimed in also, I’m glad to see that you are getting what you need.

    I’m hoping one day you’ll see why my snark infused comment is fitting. If it didn’t further discussion in any way, my bad. In a way, I was hoping to encourage Greg. My point is valid though, in that especially in this case, over many years of reading and following along the discussions with FV proponents, defining words precisely has proved/shown that the differences are attacking the gospel itself. My hope for you is that you follow reformedmusings’ [a grandfathered in alias/screen name] and others’ suggested reading. You can also search this blog’s archives for good analysis.

  69. Reed Here said,

    November 8, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Confused: Brad B is right. No anonymous commenting. Please identify yourself to the blog owner or one of the moderators (Paige, Bob-Reformed Musings, myself tend to be the active ones at present). My email is reedhere gmail.

  70. Jeremy said,

    November 8, 2013 at 10:18 am

    @ Mark B #64

    No specific comment / comment-er in mind, just in general. I hope such a rebuke comes…

  71. Stephen Welch said,

    November 8, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Gentleman, the problem in the PCA is that heresy can only be charged and tried at the Presbytery level. In several denominations like the RCUS trials are conducted at the Synod level by the entirety of the elders. The PCA is set up that it can only be done by the Presbytery, which is a grave error. It is my understanding that this was changed a few years ago by a revision of the BCO, which I find troublesome. I wonder is this was not an attempt by some to lead us down this path. Leithart will most likely not be transferred into Evangel Presbytery, because this Presbytery has a reputation of being more solid. My heart grieves over this situation, but sadly the road to the demise of the PCA began long before the Federal Vision heresy. I predict (and I am not a prophet) that there will be many good Teaching Elders who will leave the denomination along with some congregations. The PCA can return to the truth of its standards, if good men will stand and fight for the truth. Sadly there are only a few, like Lane and Wes White who are willing to stand.

  72. Stephen Welch said,

    November 8, 2013 at 11:25 am

    WA Scott, do I understand you correctly that some reprobates who are baptized are given the gift of true faith? This view is not taught by the Westminster Standards or Scripture. True saving faith leads to a life of sanctification. Baptism is not a magical formula for the salvation of everyone who receives it. I would like to see your rationale for where you think the Scripture teaches this. Your view is certainly in line with Rome, but not with Protestantism or the Scriptures.

  73. tominaz said,

    November 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Leithart is featured on a First Things posting on FaceBook:

  74. November 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    […] man at HQ in Moscow. His mission, in which he seems to have succeeded (at least according to Lane Keister), was to take the sting out of the 2007 PCA GA ruling against the Federal Vision movement. Almost […]

  75. WAScott said,

    November 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Hey Stephen, I agree that the historic predestinarian position is not that of the WCF. However, it’s simply not the case that it is contrary to Protestantism. Many of the greatest protestant defenders of monergism and sola fides during the reformation and up to the present affirm that the reprobate partake in true saving faith without the gift of perseverance (check out the book of concord, etc). As for it being contrary to Scripture, I beg to differ…

  76. November 9, 2013 at 2:11 am

    […] man at HQ in Moscow. His mission, in which he seems to have succeeded (at least according to Lane Keister), was to take the sting out of the 2007 PCA GA ruling against the Federal Vision movement. Almost […]

  77. Stephen Welch said,

    November 9, 2013 at 9:54 am

    WAScott, you and I do not agree that the historic predestinarian position is contrary to the WCOF. The historic view of predestination is defended by the Westminster Divines and all the reformers. No truly Reformed person (except Federal Vision heretics who claim to be Reformed) believes that the reprobate receive true saving faith in baptism. This is Roman Catholic theology, which is a damnable doctrine. The Lord does save all of His elect and they do persevere to the end. The book of Hebrews clearly teach that some within the covenant community do fall away, but there is a warning to them. “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10:39

  78. Jeremy said,

    November 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Leithart is a heretic and we should devote every waking hour to getting him kicked out of the visible church– not just as a minister but excommunicated all together. He’s leading people down a path of destruction with his heresies. Christ’s Church cannot be pure with him still in it.

  79. Ron Henzel said,

    November 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I think “PCA” now stands for “Practically Condones Anything.”

  80. November 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Good one, Ron!

  81. November 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Reed – I traced him back to Moscow. He’s a Wilson plant apparently without the courage to put his name on his anonymously-stated positions. Nothing new for Moscow. I don’t know if another mod gave him permission to post anonymously.

  82. Brad B said,

    November 9, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Hi Jeremy, #77 I coudn’t agree with you more, especially after reading the linked First Things article in tominaz’ post at #73. A friend of mine gave me an article recently that was written by a supposed former Presbyterian minister [Kenneth J. Howell] called “From Sola Fide to Plena Fides”, I read but had no respect for the argument. I think he thought it well reasoned and level headed, iow, cwaga level headed. Not quite.

    Leithart seems to me to right in league with this character. Both fit Steven Welch’s comments at #76. I have to wonder again….did either of these supposed [former] Protestants ever really and truly know, read love grace?

  83. Brad B said,

    November 9, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    [if it isnt clear], the “he” in the last sentence of the first paragraph on #81, is referring to my friend, not the author.

  84. November 9, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    A friend of mine gave me an article recently that was written by a supposed former Presbyterian minister [Kenneth J. Howell]. . . . Did either of these supposed [former] Protestants ever really and truly know, read love grace?

    Dr. Howell earned an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, an M.A. in Linguistics and Philosophy from the University of South Florida, a Ph.D. from Indiana University in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Science, and a second Ph.D. from Lancaster University (U.K.) in the History of Christianity and Science. He was a Presbyterian minister for eighteen years and a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary for seven years.

    But you’re right, he probably never understood Reformed theology in the first place.

  85. locirari said,

    November 10, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Yes, there is a trend of men investing much of their lives in the Reformed churches only to flake out and head down a path of earning their salvation through superstition.

  86. Brad B said,

    November 10, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Hi Jason, Howell’s titles etc…aside, undereducated/untitled simpleton ole’ me see little in his article to believe that he did understand the fruit of JBFA, but my point isn’t that he, you, or Leithart understand intellectually things about grace as much as did/do you know [intimately] grace? Maybe you can get a sense of where I’m coming from by reading my # 75 here

  87. WAScott said,

    November 10, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Hello Stephen, I’m up with the baby right now so I thought I’d shoot a quick message your way. I want to clarify that I’m not saying that the reprobate receive saving faith in Baptism. What I’m saying is that it’s a verifiable fact that the historic monergist/predestinarian position (eg of Augustine, etc) held that while the elect are ordained to receive the gift of true faith and the gift of perseverance, God has ordained to pass over the reprobate by, in the case of some, giving the gift of true faith while withholding the gift of perseverance to the end and in the case of many others withholding both the gift of faith and perseverance. It’s also a verifiable fact that a number of staunch sola fide Protestants from the reformation onward have held this historic position and affirmed that some lose their salvation.

    Calvin and the WCF’s position that only the elect received true faith was a departure from the historic position. That said, I certainly believe that Calvin and the WCF remain true to the core truths of the historic position–ie that we are all completely helpless and dead in our sins and God unconditionally elects some, giving them faith and causing them to persevere according to His sovereign will and apart from any foreseen faith or merit or deserving on their part.

    As to your other point, I agree that unless one is using the term reformed in a broader or looser sense in reference to protestants other than those who followed closely the doctrines of Geneva then the historic predestinarian position cannot be said to represent reformed Protestant belief…

    Finally, the passage you quoted from Hebrews is fully in line with the historic

    p.s. Whether or not the reprobate partake temporarily in true faith is not ultimately dependent on one’s position of the role, if any, of Baptism in salvation

  88. WAScott said,

    November 10, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Sorry, I accidentally hit send just before finishing

    All I would add is that it turns out 1 that wasn’t a quick message on my part,
    2 I would just reiterate that I’m not FV and I don’t condone serious errors that they have made (whether denial by some of the imputation of Christ’s active obedience or if they have redefined faith as faithfulness, etc, etc).
    3 I feel guilty that I used my opportunity to spend time reading the Bible this morning on the Internet–so I better get off now before I heap greater condemnation on myself..God bless and have a great Lord’s day

  89. Ron Henzel said,

    November 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Jason wrote:

    “But you’re right, he probably never understood Reformed theology in the first place.”

    It wouldn’t be the first time.

  90. Ron Henzel said,

    November 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    On his page on the Coming Home Network International web site, Kenneth J. Howell writes:

    “During the late seventies, I attended Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where I learned the art of biblical interpretation and other theological disciplines. Although I had no interest in the Catholic Church at that time, I do remember being repulsed by the anti-Catholic attitudes of some of my conservative Presbyterian friends. To me, Catholics were misguided, but they were Christian.”

    Well, during the late seventies I attended Emmaus Bible College when it was in Oak Park, Illinois. (It is now in Dubuque, Iowa.) I had just left the Catholic church two years earlier. He should have checked with someone like me on the issue he brings up, but it seems obvious from his own testimony that where he ended up later was where he was already determined to head back then.

  91. Stephen Welch said,

    November 11, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Some are of the opinion that the SJC decision is the last word on the Leithart case, but this is not true. Presbyteries can still file charges against him. I would hope that there are some, like Calvary that would file charges. We have not exhausted all avenues to bring charges against this man for teaching doctrines contrary to the faith once delivered to the saints.

  92. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Jason, no. 83: it is a valid proposition to affirm that one who eventually changed his mind on a position rightly understood and later rejected because he found it in error. It is also a valid proposition that maybe he never rightly understood it in the first place and then rejected it wrongly.

    The amount of education one has does not prove which proposition is actually true.

    You are welcome to comment here provided you show us the respect of our convictions. We think you never really understood, and have chosen heresy as your bosom companion.

    I promise to make sure the expression of such opinion is expressed respectfully. A reminder to you to keep your comments similarly respectful. Your snarkiness in that comment is uncalled for, let alone worthless. You’ve shown better in the past. Hope my admonishment is received well, as I mean it well, hard words only to confront your snark invests.

  93. Tim Harris said,

    November 11, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Reed, it seems to miss the point to identify the post as snarky. I didn’t find it so, but more important, the real issue is brought out very clearly: to “really and truly know grace,” no amount of education will help in the slightest. The fact that Jason thinks that knowing grace is just a matter of reading enough books is EXACTLY the problem.

  94. November 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm


    A reminder to you to keep your comments similarly respectful. Your snarkiness in that comment is uncalled for, let alone worthless.

    For the record, I only chimed in after Dr. Howell’s claim to even be a Christian at all was implicitly called into question, with the only evidence offered for this being that he is no longer Reformed (“did either of these supposed [former] Protestants ever really and truly know, read love grace?”).

    If we’re talking about respectfully-offered opinions, I’m pretty sure your warning should be directed elsewhere.

  95. Ron Gilbert said,

    November 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    The word “Christian” wasn’t used in the quote (offered twice), but it is interesting, and entertaining, that in Stellman’s mind “Protestant” equates to “Christian”!

  96. November 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Ha ha. What I equate to being “Christian” is “knowing the grace of God,” which the commenter questioned was ever the case with Dr. Howell.

  97. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    No Jason, you are the heretic here, as in non-Christian in that you affirm allegiance to beliefs that anathematize the gospel. I do not know Dr. Howell but if he has followed the path you have, you know full well that we (Lane and his moderators) affirm the same about him for the same reasons.

    You don’t come into someone else’s home and use your rules, rules that deny everything they hold sacred and dear, to tell them they are wrong. I know you get that, or at least the Jason I admired reading and have been willing to offer graciousness to, demonstrated in the past that he got that.

    Tim’s disagreeing with my snark observation notwithstanding, his observation is spot on. But of course, given that you seem to have collapsed over the idol of objectivity, I can sadly and mournfully appreciate how you would put so much weight on one’s own efforts, in this case the record of Dr. Howell’s credentials.

    Y’know full well that does not fit our paradigm. Don’t huff-n-puff here over such fundamental differences. Deal with ’em, or don’t comment.

    (And no, I’m not saying an adherent to the RCC can’t be a sincere believer. They only do so in ignorance though of what the RCC actually teaches. You, on the other hand, are subject to the dire warning of such passages like Heb 6:1-4. We can be polite and civil with one another. That does not mean putting up with your attack from what is in the end a hell-begetting error.)

  98. November 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Well alrighty, then. . . .

  99. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Jason: such condescension. Sadly unbecoming, and yet, becoming common from you. Doesn’t smell like gospel fruit to me.

  100. Ron Gilbert said,

    November 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    A befuddled intellect is a result of sin (noetic effects of the Fall).
    One cannot be surprised that the same person who cannot substantiate his arguments on a blog also apparently botched a prosecution in a weightier matter.
    Never send a gainsayer on an errand to refute the gainsayers, I say.

  101. November 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Reed, compare what you have written about me with what I have said. Which one of us is condescending again?

    But it’s your house, if you don’t want me to comment, that’s OK with me.

  102. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Jason: have read. I’ve been straightforward, acknowledging the vast distance between our beliefs, reminded you of the basic law of love, and only using hard words when you argue back.

    Now you are mischaracterizing what I said. At the very least there should be no disagreement that you are wrong to say I said “don’t comment.” Instead I said “don’t comment without respect to our differences in conviction.”

    You seem to want to say what you want without any consideration of basic politeness. You think “alrighty then” is consistent with the gospel of love? Is this what you’ve learned in your new home that teaches Christ better?

    Go ahead Jason, keep backing up your obstinancy. Or instead, pause, think about about it, and maybe come back with even a tiny mea culpa? I’d prefer the latter, But you’ll not get away with chastizing someone who calls into question the sincerity of faith of one who appears to have followed the same path of heresy.

  103. November 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm


    Whilst Augustine held and taught many helpful things, one would hardly call him a Reformed protestant considering the whole of his views.

  104. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Ron: appreciate your observations. Request though that you not add on, at least in part as this side conversation between him and I is tangential to the thread subject.

    My admonishment to Jason in the first was something small that I know he has the intellect to understand. I also thought he had the character to abide with (and still do hope). Maybe he still does and he is just feeling a little frustrated at present. I know I would if I were in his shoes. it is not fun being considered a turn-coat by those you once thought of as friends. I know it breaks my heart to find ourselves in this pickle barrel.

    But lest this turn into just a pick on Jason session, let this just be between him and me. Thanks for understanding. (And others also.)

  105. Ron Gilbert said,

    November 11, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I do understand and am glad to comply.

  106. November 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm


    If I offended you I certainly apologize. My only point was to offer a bit of an eye-roll at the idea that Dr. Howell was never a true Protestant (I did that by highlighting his CV), as well as at the idea that he never knew the grace of God.

    FWIW, until you can find a way to consider the phenomenon of sincere believers sometimes leaving your ranks in terms other than insidious and treasonous betrayals of Jesus, you’ll just continue to sound smug and condescending to everyone outside your circle.

    But like I said, you house, your rules.

  107. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Jason: thanks for the effort. I understood your point and this is exactly what I was challenging. In terms of our convictions here you need to keep such eye-rolling to yourself. We disagree.

    Sometimes we do indeed sound smug and condescending. But that is not because we find those who leave the faith such as yourself treasonous. It is because we do not offer such conviction with the consistency of love that Jesus speaks with, who also calls your apostasy treasonous.

    Our failures are fleshly. Yours, at least in terms of our understanding of the gospel, are mortal. I recognize you disagree. it is not smug to admit so and expect you to respect it when commenting here.

    I’ll accept the criticism when I offer a fleshly failure. I must deny it when the smugness accusation comes on the basis of doctrine. In this case I demure your accusation, and put up with the sadly false judgment of those who hear what they want to hear.

  108. Mike Cara said,

    November 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Federal Vision? Are you kidding me? How long has it been, years? I read it and it took me all of about 15 minutes to know that it is akin to Roman Catholicism (in which I was raised), and is CLEARLY not Confessional. Oh well…you reap what you sow. As for me and my house, we will follow the LORD! Soli Deo Gloria

  109. ghenry said,

    November 11, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Jason, sorry to see your mistreatment here. People throw around the word “heretic” without considering what it traditionally means.

  110. David Gadbois said,

    November 12, 2013 at 12:02 am

    Reed, I don’t assume that Jason and those like him have failed to understand the biblical reformed position. Many know it quite well, but simply hate the truth, hate the gospel, and hate Jesus. Their phony Jesus is not the Savior- he is at best the gym coach who helps people on the sacramental treadmill. This reality should not be a surprise- Jesus said the world would hate and reject Him.

    Ghenry, you are most welcome to cease apologizing on behalf of orthodox men. We have repeatedly explained why we consider Romanists to be heretics. It is you who are theologically and historically ignorant in your understanding of the bounds of biblical orthodoxy. You can put up a fight and an argument if you are up to it. But don’t take the coward’s way out and take a transparent swipe at those who defend the gospel in the form of a proxy apology.

  111. Brad B said,

    November 12, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Hi Jason, just to be clear, I dont make a practice of claiming to know if one is a Christian or not based on impersonal encounters. I discern doctrine by what people say, so when I used the phrase “know grace”, I intended to convey exactly that. I dont think God has a theology test to prove who are His beloved….although, teachers are held to stricter judgement….as believers in theological error. [btw, I would’ve hoped for your own sake that you would’ve kept your head down instead of jumping in as a “teacher” in a practically polar opposite foundational theological foundation in what seemed to be immediately. The fact that you didn’t reveals an awful lot, and I dont think it is good for you as it demonstrates a cavalier attitude toward God’s office of teacher.] [also, btw, the italicized comment can/should be met with either of 2 responses, in one case I am ill informed and dont really get it, but at a minimum, I gave you my honest opinion in a context of your well being-which you ought to appreciate. In the second case, I am possibly hitting the target, which again in the context of my interest in your well being, it ought to be appreciated.]

    As to doctrine, and practicing it and experiencing the fruit of it, my point from experience I think, leaves no for improvement. I dont claim to not sin, but I do claim that the type of effort wrought out of JBFA+ works empowers sin all the more. JBFA in the Protestant formulation disempowers sin over the saint as they apprehend it. One aspect of my experience has to do with personal interactions with Roman Catholic faithful, they either dont discern sin, or they are constantly burdended by guilt and a feeling of condemnation. This is not a fruit of the pure gospel.

    Now, I wonder if you were ever charged with being antinomian as a Presbyterian minister or were you more interested in the appearance of holiness. I wonder the same about Howell and all the FV’ists. Have you/Howell experienced the freedom of the pure gospel…the freedom that effectually breaks the power of sin? If not, why not? If so, why then retreat to a gospel that burdens the saint to become holy but in a way/method that empowers sin in them by requiring more than resting in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice alone?

    I hope this explains why I wondered out loud[posted], it’s not because I’m sitting in the place of judge over you or Howell or even Leithart. One thing I do know and know it without a doubt is that I know grace intimately, and I know it in others when I see the fruits of it, notwithstanding my lack of titles.

  112. Mark Kim (Grace Toronto) said,

    November 12, 2013 at 1:46 am

    I actually did my doctoral dissertation on Michael Horton’s covenant theology. I also had to engage with the NPP/Federal Vision/Monocovenantal writers on some level in certain parts of the dissertation. Let me just say that they are CLEARLY outside the boundaries of classic Reformed orthodoxy.

    (Even though I had some issues with Horton on certain points, Horton is much more closer to the Reformed confessions on the law and justification than these so-called Reformed revisionists.)

  113. Carla W. Duran said,

    November 17, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    The decision to leave a denomination hinges upon the marks of a true church: faithful preaching of the word, right administration of the sacraments, and church discipline (as found in Belgic Confession of Faith second paragraph of Article 29 ). The reason it is time to leave the PCA is because they have forsaken these marks. And as Article 29 somewhat lesser known continues to state a true church should “in short, if all things are managed according to the pure word of God, and all things contrary thereto rejected . . .” The PCA has failed to reject things contrary to the Word of God.

  114. Dave Sarafolean said,

    December 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Not that it will change anything in the Leithart case, but last week byFaith published an article indicating that TE Grover Gunn has written a protest against the recent SJC decision. It sounds like the SJC will reply.

    My guess is that they will agree that there there are problems with our constitution and that they can only be remedied through the amendment process. Until that happens flaws will remain and courts will, for the most part, be autonomous, as long as they can conduct “technically correct” trials.

    The article can be found here:

    The protest can be found here:

  115. pastor tony phelps said,

    December 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Dave, thanks for sharing that. Grateful for TE Gunn’s protest. Spot on.

  116. December 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks for the point-out, Dave. Grover’s protest is well constructed and argued, as I would have expected. He’s absolutely right that the SJC is now elevating its interpretation of procedure above our Standards and the truth of the gospel as I’ve written before. Like Grover, some of the others on the SJC are my friends. I’m simply at a loss to see how they were led astray by secular arguments. I heartily applaud Grover for his courage in standing alone for our doctrinal standards.

  117. Reed Here said,

    December 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Bob: maybe not led astray. I read Grover as observing that in the lack of clarifying direction from our standards, the SJC found itself influenced by civil law considerations. I.e., there was an issue that the standards appeared to not address. Needing some rationale, the SJC looked to civil law precedent.

    Regardless of whether or not one might agree that the standards are deficient in the manner the SJC thinks in this case, that does seem a reasonable explanation for why they did what they did. To that end, Grover’s protest may be very helpful.

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