Great interview with one of the prosecutors in Meyers’ Federal Vision Trial

Posted by Bob Mattes

Dr. R. Scott Clark, church historian, pastor, and Westminster Seminary California professor, interviewed Rev. M. Jay Bennett for the Heidelcast. Jay was the lead prosecutor for the TE Jeff Meyers’ Federal Vision trial in Missouri Presbytery. The interview comes in two parts, with the second part slated for next week. In the first part that’s posted now, Dr. Clark covers Teaching Elder Bennett’s background, a bit of Federal Vision (FV) background, and the timeline leading up to the Meyers trial. The latter provides some insight into how the discipline process in the PCA proceeds. As usual, Dr. Clark conducts an informative and engaging interview which I highly recommend. Scott and Jay discuss a few anomalies in the case history, but so far haven’t mentioned the big one in my opinion.

In the trial record of case, on page 872, you see that Missouri Presbytery (MOP) was basically pushing TE Bennett out of the presbytery, which would, of course, make him unable to complain against the decision in the Meyers case. In the end, MOP succeeded and the PCA Standing Judicial Commission apparently let MOP get away with this ploy without even reading the record of the case. The bigger story is that MOP had kept men like TE Mark Horne, another Federal Visionist like Meyers, without call for over 3 years. Yet, TE Bennett, who opposes the unreformed FV, was being bounced almost immediately. The politics is pretty clear when looking at the bigger picture.

To be totally up front, I signed the original letter of concern mentioned in the interview and was a witness for the prosecution in the Meyers case, flying to St. Louis on my own nickle (i.e., at no cost to MOP) for the trial. I worked with Jay on my testimony, and found him a fair, honorable, and confessional teaching elder who deeply loves the Reformed Faith and understood the unconfessional nuances in the Federal Vision. The PCA owes TE Bennett a great debt of gratitude for standing firmly for the gospel in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Don’t miss part 1 of the interview, and check back next week for part 2. And you could benefit greatly by following Dr. Clark’s Heidelblog as many of us do.

I would be remiss without adding that Jeff Meyers, after being acquitted by MOP, now teaches with all the FV heavyweights at an FV school. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Posted by Bob Mattes


  1. Elliot Pierce said,

    December 8, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    “The bigger story is that MOP had kept men like TE Mark Horne, another Federal Visionist like Meyers, without call for over 3 years. Yet, TE Bennett, who opposes the unreformed FV, was being bounced almost immediately. The politics is pretty clear when looking at the bigger picture.”

    Discipline is a mark of the church. Is the PCA, a denomination, a true church?

  2. December 8, 2013 at 10:20 pm


    To me it’s more of a question of the lack of accountability of presbyteries to each other. Or put another way, a difference in orthodoxy between presbyteries, either explicit or through toleration, that’s unresolvable in the current PCA structure.

  3. December 9, 2013 at 8:58 am

    […] Great interview with one of the prosecutors in Meyers’ Federal Vision Trial ( […]

  4. tominaz said,

    December 9, 2013 at 9:59 am

    IMHO two of the three legs that are the marks of the true church are seriously cracked in the PCA. I refer to church discipline and the proper administration of the Sacraments. I think with the lack of discipline in FV cases and the toleration of intinction and paedo-communion show serious flaws in the broad church approach of the PCA.

  5. December 9, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Can’t disagree with the issues that you raise. But again, they are only issues in a few presbyteries. The PCA as a whole must develop the means of dealing with errant presbyteries.

  6. Greg said,

    December 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    I would add to the sacrament/discipline issue a concern about communing parents (PCA members) who reject infant baptism. I have heard this excused on the grounds of “conscience” despite our confessed Standards. WCF Chapter 28.5 is seemingly downplayed, disagreed with or set aside. “Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance….” BTW what I have witnessed is not in one of the FV infected presbyteries.

    At what point do we cease to be Reformed?

  7. December 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm


    That has to be a remote anomaly. I’ve never seen that or heard of it before. For all of FV’s faults, neglecting to baptize their covenant children is not amongst them. FV ascribes too much to baptism, but they don’t neglect it.

  8. Roy said,

    December 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Ref’d Musings,
    Greg did not point to FV types.

    But his point stands (cf Ex12:48 to nail down the warrant). I expect it not uncommon to find PCA churches with communing parents having unbaptized children.

    What does a pastor/session do with new folks, perhaps coming from Baptist backgrounds because having understood sovereign grace, who can’t yet see covenant continuity, who want to join but not have their children bear the sign of the covenant? Answer: shepherd, expecting them to submit to teaching, and grow. But the time span for teaching before obedience, while not inflexible and while personalized based upon those involved, cannot go on indefinitely.

    BTW: made a plug on an adjacent spread re teaching children at the Supper. Baptism, too, an opportunity to preach the gospel. Why should the (anti) baptists be the only ones who aim preaching to reach the children witnessing baptism?

  9. December 9, 2013 at 2:58 pm


    I did not have the transient situation that you mention in view when I answered Greg. I took Greg’s point to be a more permanent situation based on his comments on the marks of the church.

  10. Greg said,

    December 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Bob, you are correct. I do not see this as a transcient situation. How widespread it is outside this particular presbytery, I know not.

    And yes, I was speaking to the marks of the church. And again, no, this was not in one of the FV presbyteries; It was part of a discussion from the floor at presbytery. Apart from one brief question/observation regarding vows made by another RE(?), I was the lone voice.

  11. December 9, 2013 at 5:12 pm


    Thank you for the clarification. That’s a very sad situation. It again points out the disparity in doctrine between presbyteries.

  12. Michael said,

    December 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Our Session had to decline the privilege for 2 prospective officer candidates to sit for election because they refused to hold/practice infant baptism. What is more frightening, we had to spend time debating this at Session. The PCA needs a healthy dose of Recovering the Reformed Confession.

  13. Reed Here said,

    December 10, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Michael: now that’s a bit disconcerting. How can you take a vow on something you do not believe?

  14. Ron said,

    December 10, 2013 at 11:34 am


    Re: 8, the time span shouldn’t go on indefinitely. I would think it should terminate when the session determines that the child must either make a credible profession and be baptized (and also come to the table) or be erased from the roles.

    Reed – I had the privilege of stepping into your gospel labors a couple weeks ago in my home. I was asked to meet with a young man whose father you led to the Lord many years ago. I was asked to give a biblical case for infant baptism to the son who is pursing for marriage a young woman I know and accepts the practice. We met at her request. The young man was very respectful and his parents, whom I don’t know, are apparently prospering in the Lord. Thought you might be encouraged by the news. The young man attributes the needed spankings he got as a child to your ministry to his parents. He has no regrets, of course. :)

  15. Ron said,

    December 10, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Note – I realize that the child is not on the roles in the truest sense; yet I have seen unbaptized children on the “roles” in Presbyterian churches as “covenant children.” If it’s the unbaptized child who has broken covenant due to the neglect (or bad theology) of the parents (as was in the case of neglecting circumcision), then should the child be regarded as a covenant child in such cases? If so, then it would be a covenant child who has at no fault to his own, yet nonetheless, broken covenant. In any case, although it’s most unfortunate when parents do not present their children for baptism, it need not lead to discipinary measures where they are concerned. That was really the only point I was trying to address, ableit badly I’m sure.

  16. Cal Boroughs said,

    December 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Bob, can you help me locate p. 872 on the link you provided?

  17. December 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm


    That’s the page number according to the the pdf reader. The number is not native to the ROC. Sorry for the confusion.

  18. greenbaggins said,

    December 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    So, Bob, which document and which page is it in the ROC? I couldn’t find it either.

  19. December 10, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    It’s the full record of case in one file. I’m on the road and don’t have it handy. I believe the file size was about 1.6 MB. The part of interest is almost at the very end of the file.

  20. Greg said,

    December 10, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    So what can we expect from Leithart, Meyers & Co. in 2014?


    “Trinity House aspires to be a center of ecumenical discussion. Beginning in February 2014, Trinity House will sponsor the annual Nevin Lectures. Nevin lecturers will be theologians from outside our own Reformed Protestantism who will deliver a series of lectures on a contested topic or topics. Baptists will lecture on baptism, Pentecostals on the Pentecostal gifts. We will learn about Luther from Lutherans, and we will hear Catholics argue for Catholic views of the sacraments, Mary, and the Papacy. As Trinity House fellows engage with the Nevin Lecturers, we hope to learn from and correct one another, and along the way to offer a model of vigorous, charitable, and fraternal debate.

    “Trinity House will also launch the Metropolitan Project. Denominational loyalties have been weakening, and Trinity House believes that the future lies in cultivating a metropolitan model of cooperative ministry among churches. The Lord works in astonishing ways when leaders from various churches take responsibility together for the health of the whole church in their city and respond to God’s call to seek the shalom of the city in which they live. Trinity House will promote this vision of metropolitan catholicity in cities across the U.S. and around the world.”

    Apparently Leithart– those are his words quoted above– can claim to be a Reformed Protestant while seeming to give Rome status as a (true) church. So has he already learned and been corrected by them? Perhaps… read his comments on a book by the “delightful” (but late) RC friar Herbert McCabe as Leithart continues to rewrite Reformed understandings of the sacraments: (

    And what do the PNWP and MOP think of the “dreams and visions” of their TE’s? Sadly, I think we know.

  21. greenbaggins said,

    December 10, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Bob, in the link you provided, there is no one file that is the entire ROC. Instead, it has several files which are transcripts, for a total of 5 different files.

  22. December 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    I don’t think that the emails in question are in the transcript files. I have a file that includes the transcripts plus all the other case records. If that file is not at the link, I’ll have to hunt up from whence I downloaded it later this week.

  23. Reed Here said,

    December 11, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Ron, very encouraging. Thank you for the update. Might you email me ? Reedhere gmail

  24. Ron said,

    December 11, 2013 at 8:56 am

    I wanted to but on my last rebuild of Outlook I lost addresses. Will do now.

  25. tonyphelpsri said,

    December 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    @ Greg #20. Thanks for sharing that. Wow, what a shocker, right? So why would Leithart & co. abandon justification by faith alone for justification by covenant faithfulness (which is “another gospel” per Galatians 1)? Well, such finer theological points as rightly distinguishing between Law & Gospel, upholding justification by faith apart from works, etc, get in the way of the real agenda: ecumenical discussions to move us closer to the “dream” of a new Christendom. The “shalom of the city” is pursued instead of that old, outdated folly of preaching Christ crucified as the sinner’s only hope of “shalom” with God – by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

  26. December 14, 2013 at 10:28 am

    […] Great interview with one of the prosecutors in Meyers’ Federal Vision Trial ( […]

  27. December 15, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Lane and Bob, here is the Record of the Case including Transcript and emails:

  28. December 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks, Andrew! I didn’t remember the file size correctly. It is actually 13.4 MB – a pretty hefty download.

  29. Greg said,

    December 15, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    It would seem there are nearly an endless number of dots to connect in the FV’s infection of the PCA. Bennett makes it clear that he was rushed through the Meyers trial at MOP, having a mere four hours to complete the prosecution of his case. Bennett writes, “By the time we got to our cross of Jeff, which was last, we were quickly running out of time. I was rushed all the way through it, which may help you understand why I appear to be pressing unduly in the transcript. In fact, we did run out of time. TE Stephen Estock was holding a stop watch and said, “Times up,” before I finished my closing statement.

    The Aquila Report for October 22, 2012 (“Getting to know Stephen Estock”): “On September 20th the PCA Permanent Committee on Christian Education and Publications voted – unanimously – to recommend to the 2013 General Assembly that they approve the Reverend Dr. Stephen Estock of St. Louis as the 3rd Coordinator of the CE/P Committee.”

  30. Greg said,

    December 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Jay Bennett (September 15, 2010) from:

    “As a point of clarification it should be noted that, while the minutes record the full text of the “Letter of Concern” was read out loud in the meeting, that did not include the appendix entitled “How Jeffrey Meyers Opposes the Westminster Standards.” Again, that part of the letter was only distributed in the electronic version sent to senior and solo pastors before the meeting.”

    Does anyone know what became of that appendix and is it (and should it be) available? I did not find it in the 13.4Mb pdf.

  31. December 21, 2013 at 8:48 am

    […] Great interview with one of the prosecutors in Meyers’ Federal Vision Trial ( […]

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