Having and Eating Your Cake

I started reading Godfrey’s historical, systematic, and pastoral treatment of the Canons of Dort today. It is a treasure, and I highly recommend it to all. I came across this reminder of how the Remonstrants responded to the calling of the Synod:

The Arminians objected sharply to the calling of the synod, insisting that it would be unfair, indeed a kangaroo court. They stated that a synod composed of their theological opponents could not fairly or objectively judge the theological issues in dispute. The Calvinist majority in the church responded that since they were simply upholding the standing doctrine of the church against the Arminian innovations, they were abundantly able to judge rightly (21-22).

This reminded me of the FV objections to the makeup of the PCA committee on the FV. But the objection is completely disingenuous. It is an attempt to have one’s cake and eat it, too. Both the Arminians and the FV advocates hold that they are simply teaching what Scripture and the confessions of the church teach. But if that is the case, then why did they label those of a different opinion “opponents”? They can’t be opponents if everyone is teaching the same Scripture and the same confessions.

The FV advocates, in particular, then tended to claim that it was a different paradigm, and that critics needed to get inside the paradigm in order to understand it. Well, if that is true, then it couldn’t be the paradigm of the Westminster Standards or 3FU, could it?

The point is simple: either the paradigm is the same, in which case no opposition exists (and therefore the innovators should have no objection to being judged by their peers), or the paradigm is different in which case the innovators have already proven the critics’ case that the new paradigm is non-confessional. The Remonstrants and the FV advocates both tried to have their cake and eat it as well. It was therefore a highly disingenuous move.


  1. Lou said,

    August 6, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    This might be a bit of unwarranted ecclesiological speculation, but, with regard to the subject of this article, do you see any additional parallels with the conversation in the PCA right now about ReVoice/human sexuality?

  2. Lou said,

    August 6, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    This might be a bit of unwarranted ecclesiological speculation, but is it possible to see any additional parallels with the conversation in the PCA about ReVoice/human sexuality as well?

  3. greenbaggins said,

    August 6, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Not yet. Moral issues are a little different from doctrinal ones. I think the Revoice people are simply trying to use a slippery slope and are hoping they won’t be held accountable.

  4. Phil Derksen said,

    August 8, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Totally unrelated to the post here, so feel free to delete once read, but I have to say I find the advertisements on this page super annoying, and occasionally inappropriate – or at least containing images I’d prefer not to see. How much do you really earn by hosting them anyway?

  5. greenbaggins said,

    August 8, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Phil, as I do not own the domain, wordpress decided a couple of years ago to put their own advertisements on all wordpress blogs. I have no say in what is advertised, and I don’t get a dime either. The only way to get rid of them is to buy a domain name, which I do not have the funds to do.

  6. Phil Derksen said,

    August 8, 2019 at 8:14 am

    Thanks for the explanation. I suppose it’s just another tyranny of modern e-media that we have to abide sometimes…

  7. SteveD said,

    August 8, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Phil #3 – I have never seen an ad on this site. But I have my adblocker activated – maybe that’s why.

  8. Dave Sarafolean said,

    August 10, 2019 at 9:49 am


    Have been reading the same book. I agree with your assessment about the similarity between the Remonstrants and the FV.

  9. Nicholas Barnes said,

    September 16, 2019 at 8:27 am

    I noticed this when reading “Crisis in the Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Great Synod of Dort”, while leaving my internship at Auburn Avenue. I think Scott Clark has made this note too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: